Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back at it

The kids are back in school.

And while one half of me is overly sensitive, sad for a variety of reasons... the other half is jumping off the couch doing cartwheels, high fiving the silent air, shortly after the big yellow bus pops over the hill and swallows them up.

Time marches on...like it or not, seemingly quicker every year.

What's that saying?  "Live for today, because you'll never get yesterday back, and tommorow is not guaranteed"  or something profound like that.

It seems I blinked, we camped, and summer is over.  Just.like.that.

As this new school year begins,  I am keenly aware of how quickly the kids are growing up. Ellery is starting pre-school, we have 2 middle schoolers, and I can count on one hand how many summers will be left with Austin before he is out of high school. Wasn't I just overwhelmed because we were juggling 3 kids not sleeping through the night?

And as soon as they head back, my sensitive side begins to over- analyze our little 8 week respite. Did I love them enough?  Use the opportunity of unhurried time together to teach them life skills?  Make the most of every day that I had with them?  Did I yell too much and inadvertently tune them out too often?  Did we have enough genuine, quality, "we'll still be talking about this in 15 years", kind of memory making fun?

Gah! We never made it to the airport viewing area, or the library, or to Chicago by train....and the structured chore charts went out the window sometime mid July.  My shameful list of summer fails is a doozy.

And well, now that school is in, papers are being thrown at me faster than I can read and sign, football practices run late, mornings are early, dinner is hasty, we are rushed, and the struggle to cherish all these snappy moments is creeping back in.

Sometimes I think I put too much pressure on myself.

On the flip side...back to school is an audible exhale.

It means not breaking up fights at 10 am, because someone was chewing too loudly... or looking at somebody funny.... or making weird noises.  It means not tattling all day, or running laps around my kitchen tackling each other shrieking until it ends up in tears and something broken every.singe.time. It means not trying to be/help/listen/entertain 5 unique individuals at the same time for 13 hours straight. It's a break.

And let's be honest, there's absolutely no time to be bored now.

Back to school means routine, a new beginning,  brand new crayons and folders, bible study, a bedtime, a feeling like I can get on top of things by day that I've neglected since I gave up after last Spring Break.  Deep down I do crave structure, and some "quieter"  time. (With the big kids gone, Ellery hasn't let one single moment of silence go to waste, or opportunity to play Memory with me 4 times in a row. Love her.)

It's all so bittersweet, but move forward we must.

My prayer is that I cherish these moments.  Even if that means doing homework in the van at 7:34pm on a Tuesday amidst the sounds of little girls singing along to the tv and the smell of over processed food lingering.

And grace.  May I extend love and uderstanding when the kids can't handle these snappy moments either.

Enough of my ramblings, the 2014-15 back to school pic.  7th, 6th, 4th, 1st, and 1 soon to be happy little pre-schooler this year.

And if pics could speak?  A much searched for Patriots t-shirt, an Elsa braid, a buzz cut and athletic shorts that both stay up, and come down to his knees,  a new skirt "that's cute, and long, and matches my dog shirt"  and a princess dress.

Love 'em


And hey, maybe soon I will make the time to blog about our summer :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

summer

We're settling into our first week of summer vacation.

We bolted out of the starting blocks last fall, and in the blink of an eye made a blurry mad dash to the finish line. 

It was a busy and fruitful school year. 

Austin eased into middle school, and enjoyed playing football, basketball and track.  He also participated on the science Olympiad team this winter, and really loved it!
Sydney and Dylan gave 3rd and 5th grade their best, and also enjoyed sports as well.
And after a tentative, nervous start to the year, Stella flourished in kindergarten!

Since i noted the first day of school about 4 posts ago, I thought it would be good to go back and highlight a few of the focal points in our year, in no particular order.

Last Day of school pic...

Stella rocked DeeDee Deer in her end of the year kindergarten program...
 



























Bound and determined, this one set out to master the cube and succeeded...
Last day of elementary school!
 






















How we spent our fall and spring.
This years never-ending winter will fondly be remembered as the one with 11 snow days, and also "that one year we had an ice rink before the lawn went in"
 

 
Mothers Day...
 
Sydney was a gunsmith for 5th grade Coloniel Days...























3rd grade field trip to Dutch Village....


 
Snow Day toruture.... 
 
 
 Christmas


 
Austin participated in the school spelling bee...

















 





Sydney's first band concert!























A short trip to Las Vegas for the World of Concrete Convention....

 

 
Celebrating Dylan's 9th birthday with lunch 
 
A trip out to frozen Lake Michigan.

 
Enjoying my days hanging out with this girl while the kids are at school...

 
We found a new family hobby.

 
 Austin ran track for school!
 





yes.







 


Target practice.
 





















 
110metre hurdles.
 
 
You know, grading the lawn.
 
Father daughter banquet at school...

 
Celebrating Tim's birthday...
 

We surprised him with a new dirt bike...


School rollerskating party...

 
Austin learned to ride a dirtbike...

 
Some days get long, and you fall asleep on the floor...

 
Tim poured a new driveway this spring. The kids enjoyed the sand for a bit.
 
 
Last day of kindergarten.
 

Spring program.

 
Gems and Cadets derby race.
 
 

Stella turned 6























The kids played basketball for school.



 

Sydney turned 10!

So we went skiing!


Easter in Chicago.



 

We ran the Calvin Classic together, and they all kicked my butt.

 
We celebrated my birthday too :)

 
Phew, and now moving forward. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring Break 2014

Because I've got to start somewhere, right?  Just for you mom.

After going back and forth, researching places, checking availability...we finally settled on Orlando, sans Disney, for our Spring Break destination once again this year.  It's central location just made sense for the way we roll.

And after one of the longest winters on the books,  April finally arrived.

Well, that crazy busy week before leaving...when all things needed to be wrapped up at work for Tim, laundry, packing, sneaking out to tan, wrapping up projects for me....Sydney got sick.  And my heart sank in the anticipation of what this would mean for our family of 7 and our loooong awaited venture.

Throughout the course of the week, Tim, Stella, and Ellery fell to the fever, coughing, and misery.  I was on edge, popping my Emergen-C, and tossing them to the boys as often as I could. Tim and I were crazy cycle-ish from the stress/weariness of the week, that by the time Thursday night rolled around, all vacation zeal was lost.

We hit the road at 6:00pm Friday night determined to move forward, change our attitudes, forgive, get well, have a wonderful time together, and make some memories.

Backing out of the starting blocks, some genuine smiles already...


The drive went well!  
We were back to our fun-loving selves, with genuine conversation before we hit the state line.  We took turns driving throughout the night... I made it thru Louisville without seeing any red and blue...and we rolled into the parking lot of our Macon, GA Denny's just in time for breakfast.

It's always fraction time.

After breakfast we continued on, and made it to the Florida welcome center to load up on free orange juice and pamphlets shortly before noon.


We arrived at our resort right at 3 pm check-in time.  The kids were eager to check out the pool, and all of the resorts amenities.  We were eager to crash.

We swam, ate dinner, ran to Walgreens for more drugs, searched a few souvenier shops for a net, as Dylan was already frantically chasing and terrorizing the lizards, played basketball, and finally collapsed into bed at 9:00pm, exhausted.

Sunday morning we all slept in, hoping to recover from the lack of sleep and sickness.  Before noon, we packed a picnic and headed out to Cocoa Beach.

Still happy...




We played on the beach all afternoon, and then went to explore The Manatee Sanctuary Park that the kids spotted on the way into town. 

We started back and realized we still had the fishing poles in the back of the van, so we pulled off the side of the highway to fish. 
 It was so great!  We enjoyed watching the dolphins swim close by, and we even got to see a manatee after all! 

We made it back to our condo eventually, and headed to Applebees for dinner, played a little basketball, and called it a day.

Monday morning we were up and at 'em heading to Sea World for the day.

Petting the stingrays...so creepy







It was a good day. 
 By evening the park cleared out, so the kids were able to have their fill of the rides.

Tuesday rain was looming, so we headed to Downtown Disney.  
And it poured.  
So we ran from store to store, along with every other person on Spring Break in the greater Orlando area.



We left there early afternoon, and grabbed lunch at Pizza Hut. Ellery was beside herself,  screaming about her ears and just plain miserable, so we made another stop at Walgreens to replenish our drug supply, and headed back to our condo so she could sleep.  We hung out at the resort in the evening and played some mini golf, basketball and tennis.



Wednesday we were on the road early, headed to Port Canaveral for a day of charter boat fishing.
We so badly wanted to try a private charter this time...but unfortunately every boat going out of the east side of the state is licensed for 6, and would not budge when I offered to keep Ellery in my purse.





Dramamine worked like a charm!
None of us were sick, but sadly we caught no fish this year. Probably the biggest let down of our vacation.
Thursday we once again enjoyed our Sizzler breakfast buffet, bought some paddle boards, and headed out to Jetty Park in Port Canaveral, a delightful park that we discovered while returning from charter fishing. We spent the afteroon on the beach, and even saw a rocket launch out of Kennedy Space Center!





We walked the board walk, grabbed our poles and did some fishing out of the port. It was fun to watch the sea turtles, dolphins, pelicans, and cruise ships go by.





Tim, doing what he does best :)

Friday we were up and at 'em, destination LegoLand.  Tim and I were pleasantly surprised, as we weren't expecting much of the park.  We wound up staying an hour after the park closed, and could have stayed a bit longer.  Once the kids find rides they like...they are in repeat mode.


"That was awwwwesome"... Dylan turned a corner to liking roller coasters.


We took a stroll through Cypress Gardens...


We found the Banyan Tree...



We all cracked up watching Ellery drive and get herself stuck every 2 feet. She never did complete a lap :) 
 I could watch that all day!



Sat. morning we all worked together to get packed up and checked out.
We hit the pool on the way out, changed, and were on the road by 11:30.



The drive home went pretty well.  We made it out of Florida no problem, but hit a lot of traffic in GA.  That is one long state to take by the hypotenuse in crawling traffic!  By the time we crossed over into Chattanooga, Ellery was puking...all ideas of possibly pulling over to sleep were gone. This van was getting home!

We traded off driving again and drove straight thru. We pulled into our driveway at 8:15am Sunday morning and promptly went to bed.

All in all, it was a great trip.  It was not DisneyWorld as we kept reminding the kids, but a pretty fantastic time together.