Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First day

Today, I sent two children off to public school; a kindergartner and a 2nd grader. How do I feel about this? Well, I hadn't really thought about it until Saturday, when I went to see "Mama Mia" at the movie theater. I will always remember sitting in our dining room as a little girl listening to the group, Abba....liking them because my mom liked them. So there I was, sitting in the movie theater when the emotional scene comes on where the mom is helping the daughter get ready for her wedding. I had never heard the song "Slipping through my fingers" before, but that is what did it for me. It's not that I feel like Ann-Marie is slipping through my fingers, entering kindergarten, but that the seasons I thought would never end while I was in them (infancy, toddler, preschool) slipped through my fingers. So sitting there in the movie theater with tears running down my face, I felt two things: the sadness of knowing that my mom would have really liked to be there for this and the loss of the preschool season in the second of my children. I think the following lyrics really got to me:

"Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see whats in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers..."
And here's my big 2nd grader with his new shoes! Aren't they sharp?

And little Ann-Marie coming off the big school bus at noon.

To my MOPS friends who still have a few years until their children become school-agers: it does come fast and treasure these days (even in the midst of the mundane). To my Mom mentors who have older children: keep the advice, support and encouragement coming because I seem to need more and more the older my children get.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Time for Underwear!

I didn't think I would be posting again until the big first day of school on Tuesday, but here it is. Alec has decided it is time for underwear! I'm so proud of my big boy (but I am not naive enough to think that I won't be dealing with many accidents for months to come!) The deal was if he pooped on the potty I would buy him big boy underwear. Well, yesterday was the day. He requested Diego and Thomas the Tank Engine underwear (and got Cars underwear as a bonus.....toddlers go through a lot of underwear!) I am not sad to see diapers go away, but I am a little sad to see less baby in Alec.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Just keep swimmin'......

We had a "break through" at the swimming pool last night and it got me thinking how BIG this summer has been for the growth and development of my kids. All summer I have outfitted Alec in enough floating apparatus that you could barely see him (Think of the move "The Christmas Story" when the mom is outfitting her youngest son in his winter gear - yeah, I CAN'T PUT MY ARMS DOWN!!!!) Well, even with all of that on his body, my normally fearless son clung to me all summer making the visits to the swimming pool less than fun for me. Our hotel in Lancaster had a heated outdoor pool, so we swam in it while we were there. I started to pull Alec off of me for a brief time to show him that he could indeed float without holding onto Mommy. The terror in his eyes convinced me that it would be another year of holding him in the water. So, yesterday, we decided that one last visit to the public swimming pool was in order after naptime. I prepared myself for holding Alec in the water for three hours. After we were in the pool, I tried again to peel my son off of me. I did this twice and then........Alec swam away from me! The rest of the swimtime Alec swam independently around the pool, face beaming with pride! My toddler boy surprises me everyday.
And my soon-to-be kindergartner.......this is the outfit she wanted to wear to Dutch Wonderland. Notice the shoes in her hands? Those are her school shoes. She tries them on once a day because she can't wait to wear them to kindergarten.
Evan has continually tested his boundaries this summer, which has frustrated both of us. But if you pretend not to look, his tender heart shows through. In the above picture, he was picking up food from the ground and feeding the baby chicks with it.

Well, we're off tomorrow for a week to Maryland to stay with our precious family friends. Our last summer hurrah! So I'm going to be silent for a week......have a great one!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One day in Amish and Mennonite country

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Forever Friends

I know, there are THREE separate posts for our three day trip to Lancaster county, PA. Why is that? Well, we had a wonderful time and I wanted to separate my thoughts on the trip. So here's the second post....the first is the Smilebox slideshow with our fun Dutchwonderland pictures (yes, it is the same place that Jon and Kate from "Jon and Kate plus Eight" went.) Anyway, here's the second post. Part of the reason we go to Dutch Wonderland (for the third straight summer) is so we can get together with some very special friends from Maryland. Above is a picture of Evan and his best friend, Paul. They started 4 year old preschool together and not only did they hit it off, but our families became fast friends also. These two are like brothers....I told Paul's mother, Nicole, that God made one mold, made these two from it, then broke that mold! It does hurt my heart sometimes that we live so far away from them now, but it seems that they are "forever friends" and still pick up where they left off. I love seeing into Evan's heart when he's with Paul....I see his loyalty and love for his friend. What a wonderful gift!

Do you notice them holding hands? Most of the time, my big seven year old boy tries to convince me that he's too big for cuddling and hugs and kisses, but Darrell captured the moment beautifully that the little boys are still there!

Dutch Wonderland Trip 2008

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Plain Old Summer Fun

It was just a normal summer day today, actually a bit cooler than to be expected in August. What to do with the restless natives? We have a wonderful state park just down the road from us so we packed up lunch, pails, water shoes, and positive attitudes and headed to the creek for some old-fashioned creek stomping. It actually turned into rock hunting (looking for those flat rocks to paint - thanks Brenda!!!), shell gathering, skipping of rocks, and the Olympic contest of who can throw the biggest rock. A couple hours of these activities will either restore family sanity or send you to the emergency room with some nasty wounds. Thankfully, we experienced the restoration of family sanity.
Ann-Marie as "Princess of the rock".
The kids on the bridge.
Evan insisted I take a picture of his pet bug, "Squirmy." Don't worry, he was released back to his family before we left the creek environment.
And the two pictures above are Alec with his treasured shell collection and trying to compete in "who can throw the biggest rock" competition. All great fun!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Iowa - Pennsylvania link

There are many differences between living in Pennsylvania and living in Iowa, but we have found many similarities as well. We've already met three families that have relatives in Iowa. One of Ann-Marie's friends feels such a link to Iowa that she asked her mom when they were going to vacation in Iowa! (Her mom kindly told her that most people that visit Iowa are normally visiting relatives. I do have one friend that has told me her and her husband voluntarily vacationed in Iowa.....there are some sights to see other than farms and corn fields!)

Another pleasant similarity is the quality of sweet corn. Now I am a bit biased on my sweet corn since Iowa is known for their corn (field corn normally, but phenomenal sweet corn is grown.) So to my surprise, western PA is also known for quality sweet corn also. Obviously, our family loves it also and we don't consider it the height of summer until we're eating fresh sweet corn from the farmer's market several times a week! So to my midwestern friends and family, you'll have to come visit us here to compare the quality of western PA sweet corn to Iowa sweet corn....and you'll have to visit us in July or August! None of that grocery store frozen stuff will do!