Sunday, August 23, 2015

Peach Pickin'

With the big kids in school, Sawyer and I took a date to extend our summer a few more days and pick some perfect summer peaches. We drove 45 minutes out of town through gorgeous country roads to end up at a picture perfect orchard. We met some friends there, and in less than a half hour we each had two boxes full of the most amazing peaches I have had... maybe ever! We sampled a few while picking, which is why I decided to pick two boxes instead of just one.

In typical Sawyer fashion, he treated the peaches like every other round thing in his life and chucked them as hard as he could. I saved as many from his pitching arm as I could, of course while documenting the whole thing because how could I not take advantage of natural beauty like this?

I love this picture of Meg with her two youngest. Her little boy was an excellent peach sampler, and took a bite out of every single peach he picked.

It was a perfect afternoon, and we had timed it with just enough time to stop by the Little Debbie outlet on the way home. We forgot to budget time in for Meg's flat tire as we left the orchard, but thanks to a good Samaritan we were back on our way in no time at all! Despite the flat, we made it home safely and even canned all those amazing peaches by the next night. Onward and upward.

First Day of Preschool

On Tuesday, Isabelle went to her first day of preschool. I think I probably looked into every single preschool option within a 10 mile radius before settling on this one. Having never paid an exorbitant amount for preschool, but realizing I didn't have a choice if I wanted to send her this year, I was determined to find a preschool that offered more than what I could give her at home. I had just about settled for one that didn't seem all that special, but then I came across an announcement on Facebook that a new preschool was opening up that year -- a Spanish immersion preschool. That got my attention.

I jumped all over the preschool when it had it's grand opening and enrolled Isabelle right away. I was super excited -- until the doubt set it. The more I learned, the more I worried. It wasn't an immersion program in the traditional sense where the kids would all be beginning Spanish speakers. Instead it was designed for kids that already spoke Spanish and wanted to retain that language and further develop their Spanish literacy. But the director welcomed non-Spanish speakers as well, so I stuck to my original instincts and prepped Isabelle for her big day. 

She was super excited, if you can't tell.

Dropping her off on her first day, I had a sinking pit in my stomach. As she walked in, her teachers welcomed her brightly, "Hola! ¿Còmo estàs?" to which she walked right up to them, and firmly (but smiling) told them, "I don't speak Spanish." At first glance, I didn't see any other non-English speakers in the class. I worried that she would feel isolated and frustrated and hate it. I left her playing happily, but worried every minute of the next 6 hours until I picked her up.

I shouldn't have worried. When I walked in she came running to me, excited to tell me all about her day. She loved her "Spanish preschool" and rattled off her new vocabulary words she'd learned. She still had a blank stare while her teacher said her Spanish goodbyes, but she giggled and waved while putting her backpack on. She told me her favorite part was nap time (sleepover at school!) and that they had played "Duck, duck, goose" but she couldn't remember the Spanish words for it ("Pato, pato, ganso," for the record.)

Day 2 went just as well as day 1. We are looking forward to many more.

Last Day of Summer

On the last Friday before school started, I made a last ditch effort to hold on to summer and treasure the warm weather and unlimited time with my children. We met some friends at a nearby spring and spent a good 4 hours playing the water, catching all sorts of creepy crawlies, and exploring nearby trails and caves.

My friend, Meg, has described this area as "where magical childhoods happen." She was right. It was a place to explore, a place to imagine, a place to create, a place to be anything you want to be. We soaked up every minute that we could and stayed until our hungry bellies couldn't take it any longer.

After leaving Blowing Springs, we picked up lunch and ice cream at Sonic, then headed to Meg's to eat it and spend the rest of our afternoon. The kids played happily all afternoon until we had to leave to make it to Logan's cub scout swim party. We never took our swim suits off all day long, which in my mind, describes a perfect summer day. I had been struggling with summer those last few weeks, wishing I could have a break, and thinking that I didn't even enjoy being with my kids that much. But this day reminded me that family time is the best kind of time there is, but it doesn't happen without a little bit of effort and planning. 

"Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved." - Thomas S. Monson

Ballistic Bullfrogs Swim Lessons

I jumped the gun with my back to school post-- I still have a few bits of summer to document! We crammed swim lessons in right at the tail end of summer break. I would have rather done them earlier in the summer so we could take better advantage of what they had learned, but with our summer travel, this was the only session we could fit in.

I had wanted to find a swim team to put Logan and Savannah in, but again-- scheduling conflicts got in the way. Instead I put them in an advanced swim class, which was probably better for them anyway. They got some formal instruction on all the different strokes, and even learned a little bit of diving.

The highlight was always the diving board, even though their jumps frequently looked more like belly flops.

Although Logan and Savannah were already independent swimmers, they both became stronger and a little more graceful over the two week session.

Isabelle was tested on day 1 and put in the "crier" group. She loves swimming and is pretty fearless with her floaties, so I was surprised she had so much anxiety at swim lessons. The aquatics center that hosted lessons is known for their "tough love" approach, and it pushed Isabelle to her limits, for sure. But unlike other lessons we've done where I feel like I'm just paying for fun time in the pool, I actually saw vast improvements with Isabelle. She loved blowing bubbles and doing bunny hops along the shallow end.

By the end she was swimming completely independently, at least for short distances. She even jumped off the diving board into the deep end and swam to her teacher.

Even though we have more or less wrapped up our summer swimming, I am still so glad we did these lessons! Having children that can stay afloat in water is such a relief to any mother's heart. I may never see long term payouts from soccer leagues or basketball camps, but if I can give my kids the opportunity to be strong swimmers, that will stay with them and protect them forever.

Monday, August 17, 2015

First days

Today I sent my oldest two children back to school. We were all pretty excited and woke up a half hour before our alarms. We dropped them off at their new school (we switched districts this year to see if we can find a better fit for our family) and they walked right in without looking back. A few hours later, I am sitting here editing their first day of school pictures, and I find myself walking down the memory lane of first days of school. Care to join me?

2011: Logan - Kindergarten (Such a trouper. He had 3 different teachers in the first 4 months, then we moved to a new state and he had new everything.)

2012: Logan - 1st grade (Still had his baby teeth with that cute little gap. He is such a little squirt!)

Savannah - Pre-K (Barely 4 years old and went to school all day, every day. Oklahoma is awesome.)

2013: Logan - 2nd grade (Hello toothless! I still love that outfit.)
Savannah - Kindergarten

2014: Logan - 3rd grade
Savannah - 1st grade (Was this really only a year ago?)

2015: Logan - 4th grade
Savannah - 2nd grade


I can't believe how old they seem in comparison to their earlier pictures. Usually the school day flies by and they are home before I know it, but today the clock is ticking so slowly. I am dying to hear how their first day went.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Redneck Waterslide

Earlier in the summer, a local friend posted some pictures of her family on what she called "the Redneck Waterslide." My curiosity was piqued, and so I researched it a bit more and discovered it was a single waterslide built into a hill just across the border in Missouri. No frills, no height height requirements, no lifeguard. That means you can form crazy chains, go down backwards, and do all sorts of other things no reputable water park would allow. But most importantly to me, it meant Savannah could ride.

All summer long Savannah has been getting the shaft when it comes to rides and slides. 47 inches is a hard height to be when you have a daredevil heart and every decent ride out there has a 48-inch requirement. So when Jeff told me he was taking a Friday off, we loaded the car and drove out to check it out.

Logan and Savannah took off running and never looked back. As fast as they could get out and back in the short line, they were on it again. Forward, backwards, on their stomachs... they tried it all. Isabelle didn't want anything to do with it, but I convinced her to try it on my lap. I had to force her to go about 5 times before she admitted she was having fun, but she still wouldn't go with anyone other than me, which means I don't have any pictures of her.

Jeff took Sawyer with him so that none of us had to sit on the sidelines. It is debatable about how much Sawyer enjoyed it, but he didn't complain. Jeff suffered multiple injuries from the slide--mostly while trying to protect Sawyer--but the rest of us escaped unscathed. I was impressed by the speed and the thrill of the slide. The setup kept us in the shade when we weren't in the water, so the threat of sunburns was low. Afterwards we bought $1 soft-serve ice cream cones to top off our picnic lunch. It may be redneck, but it was a perfect afternoon for our family. (What does that say about us?!)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Logan Learns to Kayak

Logan's amazing Bear scout leader took them kayaking for their activity this week. I wasn't there, but she shared these pictures and Logan filled me in on their afternoon.

"We got there and talked about some safety rules for kayaking. Then we got in the kayaks and went out to the beach that was flooded. It was hard to paddle. Then we got to the beach and it was fun because we got to investigate the trees. The water came up really high. The water was nice, not too cold. Next, we kayaked out into the middle of Beaver Lake. Then we went out to the obstacle course. I was the slowest. I was scared a couple of times because there was a boat coming in. I tried to flip my boat and I thought that was fun. I learned how to flip it back over. I jumped out of my kayak and had a fun time. Then we went back. I was slow because I went on the wrong side. We parked our kayaks and swam by the shore. Holden found a big turtle. We had some snacks, swam some more, and then packed up and left." -Logan