New York City!

Hey, we went to NYC last weekend!  Have you heard?  :)  Some Syracuse friends were getting together in NYC for a wedding of an acquaintance (we weren’t invited to the wedding, but it was black-tie and not something I’d want to go to anyway!) and my friend Lauren texted me a few weeks ago to see if we wanted to meet up for dinner.  With some quick logistics and a super helpful Aunt Rosy, we were able to pull it off.  :)  I rented an apartment through HomeAway, big enough for us and Rosy.  We drove down Friday morning.  The trip took longer than expected because the AC gave out in our car half way there, which necessitated multiple stops at Starbucks to cool off.

The kids read books, played games, and didn’t even bicker (very much). It was a nice trip.

Friday night we went out to dinner with friends (some in for the wedding and others there just for dinner), then we all went to a show at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and  out to a karaoke bar.  There may have been some drinks involved.  It was a ton of fun to catch up with old friends.  I wish we could do it more often!  I love how this group of friends just falls so easily back into sync.

Seven SU friends and a few spouses added in. :) It was a great night!

Saturday morning Alan took the kids to a nearby diner while Rosy and I had a leisurely wake up.  Yay!  Then we all went out for second breakfast (ha!) and down to explore the USS Intrepid.

Rosy patiently entertained the kids while Alan and I figured out the tickets.  Do you see the moon in the picture?  It was much more noticeable and impressive in real life.

Alan explaining something about something. This was definitely more his wheelhouse than mine! :)

It was a quick trip because we had tickets to the 2pm showing of Puffs, an off-Broadway show that’s “a new look at a familiar adventure from the perspective of three potential heroes just trying to make it through a magic school that proves to be very dangerous for children.”  The show was HILARIOUS and I even stayed awake for most of it!  :)

A great show! I would definitely recommend it if you find yourself in NYC or Australia.

Then we met Mark for dinner and an evening full of games and food and fun.

I had some delicious food on this trip! I totally gave up on WW, but enjoyed every bite and sip.

Things get interesting (aka awkward) when your hubby and college buddy start reliving the good old days while sitting next to your teenage (eek!) son. There were definitely a few moments that I brushed over quickly!

Sunday was departure day, but Lex wanted to check out the Lego store in Rockefeller Center first.  Alan took Lex to the diner for breakfast, and Rosy took Eve to a bagel shop, and I had another leisurely morning. :)  Then Rosy, Lex, and I took the subway uptown to Rockefeller Center while Alan and Eve took care of picking up our car from Toyota of Manhattan.  We payed a small fortune for it, but the AC worked again!

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

We need more photos of Rosy and Lex together. :)

The “ear” statue we remember so well from our last trip to NYC has been replaced with this interesting piece of work.

Lex says Rosy and I look a lot alike. Somehow she always looks better in photos though! :/

I love the pattern on this building!

Alan and Eve picked us up, we dropped Rosy off at her car, and the Johnson family headed home.  Somehow it took us forever to get home, but that’s ok.  We stopped for lunch, stopped for multiple Starbucks breaks, and I dunno, jut took awhile.  We made it though and LOVED our vacation!!

If you want to see all the photos, check out the Google Photos album.

YouTube-in

Hi guys!  Some of you may know that Eve started a YouTube channel awhile back.  It’s super (not) exciting, but she loves it!  This week Lex decided to start a channel as well to show off some of his Minecraft creations.  It makes me sad that most of their creative juices are going into the computer these days.   I miss having cool kid work around the house (and also at the same time I don’t miss it at all), but it’s neat to see what they are coming up with digitally.  Eve is still finding her voice online with some videos about DYI stuff, some about video games, and some about Harry Potter.  She’s been “colabbing” with her buddy sometimes too.  Lex has one video posted so far about a Rube Goldberg-style Minecraft device, and he has lots of cool things already built in Minecraft that he’s hoping to record over the next few weeks.

If you’re interested, check them out: Thunderpool and Legoman1342

 

Family, Friends, and Fireworks

We have been moving right along with summertime leisure. I had a conference two weeks ago and my parents came to stay with the kids. Then we had the notorious Kirkwood crew come visit for a night! I still wish they lived closer! It was fun playing games. Lex joined in with the grownups, instead of painting rocks with the kids. That was neat and different. We spent the 4th of July at the beach with friends and despite being tired and sunburned, we made it down the hill to the fireworks. Yay! Today is a quiet home day while we rest up and pack up for a big city adventure!!!

We got to celebrate my mom’s birthday while she was here. Aunt Katie brought over a delicious meal and gigantic cake (which I would have eaten all of if my mom hadn’t take it home with her — thankfully!!).

Jasmine “signs” a birthday card for Mema. Eve might have helped a little.  Arlo got to sign it too.  :)

That many candles requires a very, very deep breath!

The “special diet” table was the best!! Everyone was jealous! They even had sesame sauted temphe one day. Crazy!

While my parents were watching the kids, I was spending my days at the fancy Killington Grand Resort with 11 other colleagues, learning (and teaching, in the case of some of my colleagues) how to improve on our PBIS (positive behavior intervention system) program at school.  Despite the fact that it was a work conference in the summer, it was really interesting and a great experience to share with the team. 

On Friday the Kirkwoods arrived from the west and entertained us for the evening.

The easiest game ever! LOL!

These girls pained a lot of rocks!

Love, love, love, and love!!!

Earlier this week I took the kids on a shopping trip.  We only  needed a few things, but in the name of balancing home days and “busy” days, I decided to drive down to Manchester and go to the mall!!  We also went to the big Barnes and Nobel.  It was great.  Lex bought Legos (shocker!) and the kids spent hours building creations with the very basic Lego set he got.  He said sometimes he finds the sets too restricting and was happy to find a set of basic colored bricks.  I reminded him of the giant bucket he already owns, but he bought these anyway.  I need to do some rearranging of his toys.  I think they could use better storage, but that’s for another day.

A knight (on the left) battling a fire breathing dragon, with a submarine coming to the rescue.

Silly kitty.

Yesterday we spent the day at the lake.  We rounded up a few friends to join us and we all enjoyed the 100° temps!  Sadly, despite multiple sunscreen applications we all got burnt.  I think we need new sunscreen!

We commandeered a picnic table as soon as we got to the lake! We made good use of it with the buffet of (mostly) healthy foods we all brought. :)

Eve and friends.

We went home and crashed for a little while.  Minecraft, Youtube, books, and naps.  Then we regrouped and discussed the fireworks.  Alan is recovering from a sinus infection and had slept most of the day away.  Lex and I were exhausted.  Eve was too, but she was motivated by the idea of more friend time at the fireworks.  We eventually decided to drive down later than we usually do.  Therefore not having to pack a picnic dinner and not having to walk home at the end.  It worked out well and we all had fun with friends at the fireworks.

Lex wasn’t very excited about going and brought along his book. He ended up putting it away after awhile and joining in with the crowd, again mixing between the adults and the kids.

Eve was all about the friends and ended up holding court with her boy crowd for most of the evening. We are entering a whole new era here with these kids!

Playing cards in the dark.

Fireworks! Beautiful, as usual.

Stay tuned for vacation pictures next week!!

A new lake

After a week of begging, I finally gave in and took Eve to the lake.  Um, I mean, we went to the lake today and had a great time!  We decided to check out a new (to me) lake that I’ve heard great things about.  Lex went two weeks ago on a school field trip and said it was definitely a great place to go.  Unfortunately he was in no mood to go today.

Eve, playing with the ducks. Sadly all of her friends are in camps this week and Lex wasn’t in the mood for swimming.  I did my best to be her pal, but she definitely tried to befriend the ducks too.

The ducks were pretty friendly.

The sweet beach babe had fun. We bought a float, rented a paddle boat for awhile, played on the playground, and ate unlimited SunChips and watermelon. Good times.

I snuck in a little of this too. :)

We came home exhausted and only a little bit burned. Luckily our cool house and welcoming screens were there to greet us. :)

5th grade graduation

Eve had her elementary school graduation today and now it’s official — we have two middle schoolers in the house!

Shaking hands with the principal.

Shaking hands with her classroom teacher.

Looking at Facebook just now and seeing all the pictures parents took of their kids, and their kids friends, and all the flowers and smiles, I’m feeling a little lame about our graduation efforts.  However, Eve isn’t making it easy. She has been surly and grumpy and pulling away from people for awhile now, and it just occurred to me while I watched her at graduation, that I think she has a lot more feelings about leaving DBS then she’s letting on.  I think maybe it’s a little bit of denial at work.  Also, she hasn’t been feeling well all week.  She has been super tired, she’s dealing with poison ivy on her feet and a sunburn on her face, and she has the sniffles.  I think she’s ready for a break.  Maybe I’ll get a smiling picture when she starts middle school. For now, I got this.

Go away, mom!

I hope Eve finds herself again this summer so she can start middle school with a more positive attitude.

I got a little teary-eyed during the ceremony today.  I’m going to miss this class.  They aren’t perfect, but they sure are awesome!  I’ve known so many of them since kindergarten (even some from preschool!).  We have been around for birthday parties and playdates and sleepovers.  They are a small, tight-knit group, and I think it’s going to be hard for them to be so separated next year.  It’s going to be hard for me too… but this post isn’t about me.  It was wonderful that for so many of them I was able to say “see ya later” instead of “good-bye” because I know I’ll see them around.

A little celebratory dancing.

For now, while others are having parties, we are celebrating with books and blogs and Minecraft.  Lame, maybe, but it works for us.  :)

Middle School “Meet the Teachers” Night

Middle School “Meet the Teachers” night was tonight.  This year they sent letters ahead of time to parents telling them what teams the child has been assigned to, so when we got to the school tonight it wasn’t the big reveal that there was two years ago when Lex started.  I like this way better.  Eve found out two days ago that she’ll be on team Nova and that her buddies will not.  She’s had some time to process and was able to enjoy the introductions tonight.  All the kids got Nova t-shirts and time to hang out with each other and ask questions.  She has several friends with her, just not her besties.

Parent paparazzi!  I missed the “smile” picture, but got there for the “goofy face” picture. :)

Audition Update

We got an email from the director this afternoon.  Eve did not get a callback.  :(

It was a very nice email.  After waiting excitedly all day, I showed her the email when it came in and she said, “Oh, that’s sad.  I hope Anna got in though!”  I found out a little later that Anna did get a callback, as did the friend Eve was rehearsing with last week.

I am having weird feelings about it all.  I think it’s disappointment mixed with relief.  Maybe some sadness in there.  The production schedule is insane and I don’t know that she has the stamina for it.  Or that I do.  Also, homework becomes a thing in 6th grade and it was a huge thing for brother.  I suspect it will be a huge thing for Eve as well.  New school, lots of homework, and a heavy production schedule would have made for a rough few months.  Amazing, I’m sure, but rough.

I am also fighting the urge to ask her drama teacher if Eve even has any real talent.  I think she’s a great actress and has a good voice.  Plenty of drama!  However, she hasn’t gotten a speaking part in any of the plays she’s been in and her roles have been minimal.  I sit at the lunch table with the drama teacher and listen to the conversations about kids with amazing voices, and how well so-and-so did in their leading role, and how great so-and-so will be at this or that.  Eve’s name is never mentioned.  I emailed the drama teacher this evening to let her know the results, since she was nice enough to give Eve a few pointers earlier in the week, and she responded with: “I spoke to [the director] earlier this afternoon so I already knew.”  No, “Oh, so sorry to hear she didn’t get it” or “better luck next time” or “she would have been great, but you know the competition is tough.”  Nothing encouraging at all for next time.  That said, she’s an amazing lady and it was a quick email, so obviously I shouldn’t read too much into it… but does that mean Eve has no talent?

Then I feel angry because, what the hell!?  Even if I did ask and the drama teacher said she has no real talent, what would I do with that information?  Tell a just-barely eleven year old to give up on her dreams of acting because she’s not good enough?!  At eleven!!  Why are we even thinking about whether there’s talent at this age. She’s a child!  She crawls in dirt piles and bites her nails and sleeps with a lovey.  I don’t care if she has talent.  I want her to try it all and be proud of herself.  I want her to have the confidence to give it a shot, even when she’s nervous.  I don’t want ANYONE to ever tell her she’s not good enough.

So anyway, I’m sitting here with a heavy heart; part relief and part sadness.  I guess part anger too.  And a stomach ache from trying to heal the heart with food.

At least we got some beautiful photos out of the deal.  The bottom one is what we used for her head shot at the audition.  My friend Anisha took them.  She sent six to chose from.  I like these two best.  <3

Eve and her audition

Eve auditioned for Matilda today.  It was a roller coaster 24hours.  Shortly after deciding to do it, Eve had the lines memorized and was 100% confident in herself.  She had no need to practice, no need to sing in front of people, and no need for voice coaching.  She was good.  I was nervous (for her).  I encouraged her to talk to the 4th grade teacher who runs the school drama club.  She eventually agreed and by the time we were able to coordinate schedules it was this past Thursday, just two days before the audition.  Guess what?  The teacher told her she wasn’t ready at all.  Surprise.  One of the songs she was planning to sing is Hard Knock Life, from Annie, and it turns out the version she had been rehearsing with on Pandora was slightly different than the theater version we had the sheet music for.  That threw a HUGE crimp her her plan, and confidence.  Friday night she was a wreck.  Tears, anger (at the music), and frustration (at the world).  We had a long talk about it and she eventually went to bed and passed out.  BTW – Eve is always tired on Friday afternoons and it’s never really a good time to push her.  Saturday morning came and we had another chat.  She insisted she wanted to audition and even (kind of) owned her mistakes.  We talked a lot about confidence and “fake it ’till you make it” and her thoughts on acting, and lots of other stuff.  She said practicing was making her nervous and she just wanted to go in and do it.  She listened to the music (on the app with the sheet music) several times and declared herself ready.  I went to shower and when I came back I found her dressed and ready. She was wearing sweats and a print t-shirt, so I suggested, tentatively, that she might want to wear something a tiny bit nicer. Much to my surprise, she agreed and put on a dress!!

We went out to lunch at Panera Bread because this mother knows her daughter is always more positive when she is well fed and because I wanted to make it a fun day for her.  We had lunch and got to the audition with plenty of time. In fact, we had enough time to take a walk around the block and just be relaxed.

She looks relaxed, right? :)

When it was her turn she went in and gave it a go.  She knows the director from when she did the Shakespeare in School program.  The guy is very nice and very positive.  He was happy to see her and made her feel comfortable. She did make one mistake during her Annie song, but he stopped her and had her start again and she did it right.  He gave her lots of verbal praise at the end and even gave me a hug, much to my surprise.  Maybe that means she did well?

Truthfully, I don’t care if she goes on.  I’m just so proud that she stuck with it, through the hard times, and chose to get herself to that audition.  She was nervous, she had all the feels, and she CHOSE to get herself there and audition anyway, despite the nerves.  That is a big step for her.  <3

Afterwards we went grocery shopping.  Right back to life as usual. :)

On another Eve note, last weekend she made a scavenger hunt for me.  It was very silly. I asked if Lex could come too, because I didn’t feel like wandering around outside by myself trying to figure out her clues.  She said ok so Lex and I followed her marker-on-cardboard clues and had fun.  The final clue was a secret knock, which she answered, and we found the “treasure.”

When she first asked me to do the treasure hunt and was all secret about the treasure, I reminded her that I had just eaten breakfast and wasn’t ready for cake. I had a feeling her “treasure” was birthday cake. So we got back and discovered cake for Lex and pb&j on english muffin for me. LOL.

The clues.

Arlo was sad that there was no treasure for him.

She is an amazing girl, even with all the ups and downs.

Lex’s birthday adventure

I’m a little late with this post (by a week or so) but we still had fun and I want to share.

Alan got tickets to see Solo (Star Wars) and we spent a fun day playing laser tag, going to the movies, and eating too many breadsticks at the Olive Garden.  Eve didn’t want to see the movie and I didn’t want to play laser tag, but we both endured and even had a little fun. :)  The boys had a blast!

Laser tag makes me squimmish as a parent and teacher, but we played and I survived. The other three LOVE it.

We ate LOTS of popcorn. :)

Eve managed to stay on this moving wall for the entire three minutes. I couldn’t stay on it at all

We got home exhausted and happy.  In fact, both kids fell asleep in the car on the way home!  They haven’t done that in a long time.

The next day Eve tied all the balloons to the cat. Just because.

Lex got some birthday money and was excited to spend it all on Legos!

How many Legos does one teenager need?!

Not birthday related, but last night Lex ROCKED his spring concert!  He had parents and grandparents and kids and everyone coming up to him after the show to comment on his drumming.  He gets so into it.  So enthusiastic.  I love it!

Lex playing the timpinis.

I’m so proud of this guy.  He is kind and caring and fun and funny and a total rockstar!