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!

Happy 13th Lex!

I can hardly believe it, but my baby boy is a teenager today! At what age does it become believable? At what age do you forget their actual birth day, forget what they are like as tiny babies, forget the sweet baby head and tiny fingers? I hope never! I love the growing boy I have now just as much. He’s kind and funny and smart and silly and still loves his momma! Always happy for a hug and still says “I love you” when we part.

He didn’t want much for his birthday this year. Just the usual books and Legos. I offered him a party or a weekend trip, but he said no thanks. He did take me up on my offer of a piano! :) That’s really a present for all of us though. We ordered it several weeks ago and it’s on back order. I hope it comes soon. I’m excited for that one.

I can’t have a birthday without presents on the table (and he sweetly reminded me of the tradition and asked if he would still get little presents even though the piano was expensive), so I got 13 presents, wrapped them all in the same paper, and numbered them. Just for fun.

We also got 13 balloons, wrote sweet notes on them, and left them in the family room for him to see when he woke up this morning. My original plan was to put them in his room, but reconsidered when I realized the fan would blow them around and it would probably be scary.

He said it was wonderful walking into a room full of compliments. :)

We had breakfast and presents, then it was off to school and work — for them! I got to skip work on this beautiful day and take Arlo for a visit to a dog trainer. It was a very nice experience and a lovely place. More on that later. Now, presents!

Back home I decorated the cake and then we headed out to friend’s house for a visit. Eve and her son are both auditioning for Matilda next month and wanted to rehearse together. Really it was an hour of bouncing on their trampoline and five minutes of rehearsing (while still on the trampoline). Lex and her daughter are chess pals and were happy to fit in a few games. He won one and lost one. He said they’ll have a play-off match at school on Tuesday. :)

By this point it was dinner time and if you know this family at all you know that Lex’s preferred place for birthday dinner (and any dinner) is Panera Bread! Alan met us over there and proceeded to be so silly he had both kids in tears. Dads are good at that. :) Then home for cake and more presents!

Now it’s 9pm and the boys are happily Minecrafting. Eve is in bed waiting for me to turn off her light. I am full of cake and love and peace. Tomorrow we will go see the new Star Wars movie (the boys are excited and the girls are along for the ride) and get dinner at the Olive Garden. Sunday we have an invite to a BBQ, but I’m secretly hoping it rains so I have an excuse to stay home and read the paper and drink tea all day. :)

PS. I measured him on the wall this evening.  62 1/4″.  He still has Eve beat by an inch and I still have them both beat!  For now.

Parenting is hard, and other goings on

First the deep thoughts:  Eve’s spring concert is tonight.  It will be her last concert ever at DBS. Guess where she was?  Home.  She went to school today, participated in the dress rehearsal and even smiled through most of it.  Then she got to the library and said, “Please, please, I don’t want to go to the concert.  Please let me stay home tonight.”  Sigh.  I had a meeting and sub plans to write, so I told her we’d talk about it later.  Later came in the car ride home and I told her my true, honest thoughts.  I was (and still am) conflicted by what is the “right” thing to do.  On the one hand, I know she doesn’t love band, and she stuck with it all the way through the dress rehearsal, and truthfully I was tired and not interested in going to the concert either.  I’d already seen the dress rehearsal.  Skipping it is easy, but on the other hand, what lesson is that teaching?  Shouldn’t I be emphasizing the importance of following through, sticking with it to the very end, supporting your classmates and school, and just showing up?  I know those are all good habits to have.

The day was busy and the schedule had me getting home around 4:30, all three of us leaving for drum lessons at 5pm, and then getting back to DBS for the concert by 6:15.  Eve and I got home from school and found Lex at the table, completely stressing because he remembered a homework packet that he was supposed to be working on all week, but had forgotten.  That, plus a group project assignment that is due tomorrow and he is not happy at all with his group, therefore feeling frustrated by the whole thing.  We talked through the plans and around 4:45 I just said f*ck it and we bailed on everything.  Then I laid down on the couch and fell asleep for an hour!

Was that the “right” thing to do?  I don’t know.  I certainly think it was for this evening.  But whether it was the right thing to do when you look at the bigger pictures, I don’t know.  Should Lex have gone to that lesson because we committed to it and (likely) won’t get the money back for it?  Should he have had a bigger consequence for not remembering his homework?  I don’t know.  It’s 7:52 at the moment and he’s still working on it! (with a dinner break in there too)  Am I teaching my kids to bail when things are too hard?  Or to prioritize their own mental health?  I don’t know.  These are all rhetorical questions because I *do* know there is no manual for parenting and no clear, black and white answers.  We’re all in this together, doing the best we can with what we’ve got.  And today, I needed a nap.

Now for the lighter stuff:  Here are some photos from the past few weeks.  Life, overall, is quite good.  We have 13 more school days until summer vacation.  We have some camps planned for the kids, some conferences and professional development for me, and some downtime.  We are all looking forward to it.  Even Alan gets to sleep later on vacation days.

Eve made me this weird pot decoration for Mother’s Day. She filled it with sticks of gum, but I know she originally bought Twizzlers to put in it and I’m pretty sure they ended up in her belly instead.

It has been on the counter since she gave it to me and the more I look at it the more I like it. :) It is a sweet reminder to the little girl she is. The little girl who loves her mommy.

My parents were in town last weekend and we all went to a magic show.  It was fun.  Eve met a friend there and bought him a magic kit from the gift shop table.  He was so excited.  He was there with his grandma and the kids were thrilled to see each other.

The Magic of Bill Blagg!

Today I saw his grandma at the concert dress rehearsal and she handed me a package for Eve.  She said she was so moved by Eve’s thoughtfulness.

I love this note.

My life is to make miracles. I’m a magician.

The concert dress rehearsal went well.  I was there with wiggly kindergartners, but able to get a few pics of my own kid.

She *can* play the flute when she tries. :)

Singing. Her last concert at DBS and she’s wearing shorts and Navy swag.

Banging sticks on chairs. Is there a musical term for that??

On the way out of school she noticed her best friend’s hat on the lost and found shelf.  She grabbed it immediately and has been wearing it ever since.

The shirt is her new gift.

The other day my mom pointed out that all the other houses on our street (yes, there are four occupied houses now!) had benches on the porch, so when I saw this one for sale on Facebook I spoke right up.  Alan loved it and picked it up after work that same day.  Now we are cool like the rest of the neighbors. :)

It does look nice on the porch.

And it’s getting a lot of use already! Eve had her snack out there and I took a sneaky picture.

Lex is sitting out there right now doing his homework. Another sneaky picture. :)

Lots more on Lex tomorrow — the big birthday is coming right up!