Tuesday, August 26, 2008

School photos

Natasha's first day smile. Isn't she sweet? Love the outfit, the bag overstuffed with supplies (by Haiku, her most treasure object at the moment).

The smile was kinda forced. She was happy about the clothes & bag and all, but the first day of middle school is a bit daunting, even with all the get-acquainted activities she attended. The smile every day since has been genuine, and she is quite comfortable with her schedule and classes, even likes all her teachers. The bag, well, even with half the supplies left in classrooms and lockers, it's still quite stuffed! And now she is carting her trumpet back and forth.

Sarah's smile was genuine. Same school, a teacher she loves (the same one Natasha had in 2nd grade), several friends in her class, and getting to go to a Third grade classroom every day for math. What could be better? Oh yes - a new outfit. Laugh!

Mira won't start for another week. Oh, and the driving routine is getting easier. Drop off lines are much shorter now and Natasha and I have found the perfect spot for pick up!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First Day of School - after-school installment

Did I mention anything about the drop-off lines earlier? Well, the pick up lines are just as crazy. Crazier perhaps. School gets out at 2:30. There is a nice circle drive for drop-off/pick ups. It's about as big as the drive through the elementary school parking lot, which I don't even want to talk about. It's too SCARY.

Well, as I said school is out at 2:30. I figured, 5 minutes for getting through the hallway jam, figuring out which books need to come home, and add a few more minutes to wrangle with the new combination & chat with friends... I'll leave the house at 2:30. Arrive at 2:45, circle drive will be a breeze. Right? I drive down the street - see gaggles of kids walking a few blocks away from the school. Cool. No one in line to get into the circle drive. Cool. I'm being directed back towards the parking lot - not cool. There stands Natasha, with a few dozen other kids waiting for rides. She can't get in yet because cars are coming the other way. So I drive to the back of the school, around the teacher parking lot, back towards the front of the school and finally get her into the car. It is 2:55. There are still 25-ish cars behind me. WOW. I don't mind, but WOW! While she gets in I ask and am told by the teacher doing the directing this is NOT a first day or rainy-day occurance, this is everyday.

I think we will arrange a pick-up spot somewhere else. She can walk a few blocks with the gaggles of other kids, right? Or maybe not if it is raining. But I could probably leave earlier to meet her at a corner and then she won't have to wait as long with her heavy bag of books and we'll have more time to talk. Or for her to start on homework before her sisters come home from school & preschool. But today we still had plenty of time sitting in our turned off car in an actual parking spot (hint hint elementary school parents) to talk about her day. It was a good day. She says all her teachers are nice. She had lunch with friends. She is happy. I am happy.

First Day of school

Wow - that came up fast. Natasha was a little nervous last night, but this morning both girls were up and ready early. I managed to get Natasha to school and myself home in time for Rich to get to work... but that will need a bit more tweaking. I forgot about the high school traffic on my planned route. And the drop-off lines - WOW. She'll probably end up walking from a block away. Then again, neither will "first day of school photos" slow us down the rest of the year. Or maybe once the snow flies I'll just get the other girls up a little earlier, and Sarah can get to school a little earlier instead of being dropped off "just in time". Waiting in the gym with her classmates for 15, 20, 25 minutes is probably a good thing for a sociable kid anyway, right? She can read a book too... Hehe, going out for hot chocolate every day before school would be fun, but a bit expensive and I think Natasha wouldn't appreciate being left out of that! No, buses are not available. I knew what I was signing up for when I open enrolled my kids. Their schools are a perfect fit for them, so it's worth it. We'll figure it out before long.

Despite the rainy morning, I was able to take a few wonderful 1st day photos of them (no traditional front porch photo this year). Natasha with her overloaded messenger bag of supplies and walking up the school, and Sarah with her teacher.

Mira of course then wanted her photo taken with her backpack, and keeps telling me "My teacher told me my classroom is ready". LOL, her preschool teacher visited earlier in the week, so Mira is all excited. But she doesn't get to start until after labor Day, and then only 3 afternoons a week. I need my baby time, if you can still call her a baby. I enjoy every minute. In the meantime I am once again her best friend in the absence of her sisters. We've read books, packed her bento lunch (for todays Barber shop visit where my summer/pool bleached scraggly ends have magically disappeared), and washed dishes together. She talks non-stop, but in the last 2 months with her beloved sisters at home to entertain her and play Barbie or dress-up on demand, very little of it has been directed at me. I'll have to get used to 4 hours of her sweet little stories again!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Have a Fun Part 3: Bombers, Fizz, Pops and Panthers:

This Spring Sarah moved up from Tee-ball to softball, and has played on 4 different teams during the year. (Ok, the competetive team at her age level had enough girls for two teams during some tournaments, but still, that counts!). She had an excellent coach during the regular season team (The Bombers), and has improved tremendously! She enjoyed herself so much that she wanted to play on the competition team, even though our vacation coincided with two of the weekend long tournaments. We agreed, partly because of her enthusiasm, and partly because that team was headed by the same coach and his wife, who still holds some State highschool softball records (and they welcomed her despite not being able to attend all the tournaments). The extra practice really helped her skills, and she was still able to play during the tournament hosted by our Little League before we left (on the Pops), and another local tournemant after we returned (on the Fizz). There were so many girls in her age group they split into two teams, sponsored by Jones Soda, hence the team names.

After a few weeks break and a camping trip with some of the softball families, practice started up again for a local fall League. This time though, many of the girls are moving up a level, so everyone will officially be Panthers for the rest of the competitive League, allowing girls to step between age groups to fill in if needed so each team has enough girls to play. What's nice is that even though our coaches are also moving up (their daughter is a year older than Sarah), the two teams are still practicing together. After all, this years team (well, whoever sticks with it) will all be together again in '10, and '12 . Yes, I really see Sarah sticking with it. Nevermind the friends she has made, she loves the sport. When I have told her she looks cute with her hair in ponytails or in one of her many ball caps, she corrects me with "I'm not cute mom, I'm sporty!" She is still my girly girl preferring her skirts, the pinker, lacier, or floucier the better, but just as often now she prefers to wear her practice clothes, slider included. We opted out of the pitching/catching camp for this year, but it is definately something on her list of things to do.
In other sporty news, I am slowly getting back on track with exercise after a long summer of hanging out in the baby pool - SO much exercise potential there! My arthritis, which has not been much of a problem since my first flare up years ago, has been horrible this summer. Still working on controlling it, but at least now I am able to go workout & go for walks. Natasha really wanted this summer to be about early morning walks with Mom before everyone woke up, and early morning (or morning at all) was just not a good time for me. So perhaps we will be doing that this fall before her early morning school start.
Natasha is alooking forward to trying out for Track at the middle school next week already, and of course Basketball later in the Fall. Looking to visit? Plan on attending a game somewhere!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Have a Fun Part 2:

After our vacation we took a day to unpack, survery the rain soaked garden, blah blah blah. Then we hopped right back in the car and headed out to the Quad Cities Air show. It's been a few years since I could attend (small babies vs. the heat & sun sort of thing). So I was excited to see the Blue Angels and everything else. Natasha loved it, though she was quite startled by a Blue Angel sneak attack and dropped to her knees from a standing position as the sound wave hit us from behind. We giggled over that for quite some time. Mira was interested in the planes and then napped in her chair part of the time! Sarah, well, she thinks it is too loud. She loves the planes though somehow she thinks closing her eyes and looking down while covering her ears will help keep the sound out? Here Natasha is helping her to see part of the show while keeping her ears covered. THIS is what she considers to be the best part of an air show - the food. So because of the "loudness"and Sarah's droopy sad face when told about the next air show, I did not go with Natasha and Rich as they travelled to Omaha for the Offut Air Show yesterday. (Well, that and a certain potty training little girl.) Natasha and Rich had a blast and were barely in the door last night before it all came spilling out.

More tomorrow!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Do Your Best and Have a Fun

The title of this post came from some funny translated directions in one of Rich's model kits. Funny, but appropriate to our summer. I really did plan to keep up blogging this summer, but all my girls are young enough to still want to hang out at the pool with me. So even though I want to type that I am sorry for not keeping you informed, I'm really not. I have had a GREAT summer vacation and am rather sad it is coming to an end.

We have had SO much fun. Many trips to the library and the pool, sleepovers, blowing bubbles, Adventureland, swimming at the pool, camping, playing badminton (badly) in the backyard, swimming at the pool, Art classes, piano lessons, picnics at the Rose Garden, the Iowa State Fair, and softball to name just a few things.

Have I mentioned swimming? Natasha and Sarah both braved the Diving Board this year, and now Sarah spends most of her time over at the diving well. She even went off the high dive a few times, till she leaned a bit too far forward. Not quite a belly flop, but not very fun either. Natasha could have gone off the diving boards long ago. She always did well enough diving during swimming lessons, except for the fact that obviously timid and young swimmers have to pass a deep water swim test, and Natasha just didn't feel comfortable asking a lifeguard to tell her what to do. Oh, and nevermind the long (fast moving) lines full of gangly teenage boys goofing around. But with a big sister to follow, Sarah had no trouble looking like she knew what she was doing, climbing the ladder for the first time and jumping enthusiastically off into the deep. Swim test? Who needs a swim test? Me, I get to sit in 2 foot deep water while Mira pours more water over my head. Our favorite pool just closed today for the season. So did our second favorite, so for the last 3 days before school we will be heading to a new pool - the only one left open for the remainder of the season, and it's supposed to be 87-90 temps so it is quite likely to be crowded. Hmm. Perhaps the sprinkler will do instead?

A few photos from our June vacation: you will see more when I get around to scrapping the rest of the 700 photos later this year. Here is Mira sweetie holding up one of the many arches we saw. Just ask Natasha or Sarah how Arches are formed and what the difference is between an Arch and a Natural Bridge.

A lovely shaded resting place on a hike. Shade is good! Mira was good at finding any shady spot - on some hikes we stopped many more times than we would have preferred just because Mira found a small patch of shade. That's the price you pay for an observant hiker with stamina - in a 3 year old!

The girls & I at Four Corners, each in a different state. They thought that was pretty cool. Rich stood on all 4 states at once.Our photo of Wall Arch. Wall Arch is (was) one of many on the Devils Garden trail at Arches National Park in Utah. Gorgeous (and hot and difficult) hike. During the course of our trip, the girls each earned 5 Junior Ranger Patches while learning about the geological, historical, plant and animal life at each place we visited. At Arches National Park the focus was on erosion and gravity, and that eventually all arches will fall as new arches are created. The short film at the visitor center showed part of Landscape Arch falling off in 1991, 5 years before Rich and I visited the first time. When they were asked to draw what Landscape Arch looked like in 100 years, all 3 girls guessed that it would have collapsed. I don't think anyone guessed that Wall Arch would go first. Here's the story and photos. Hmmm - photo look similar to the one Rich took?

Come back for more summer highlights tomorrow!