Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas 2012, first communion, and parenting picture fail

First communion, baptisms, major life events, I've got pictures galore.  Any given Christmas, too many pictures to upload.  Christmas + first communion at the same time = complete parenting fail in the photo department!  There are no Christmas Eve family pictures in our festive outfits or even one of the girls in their new pajammas in front of the tree or putting out cookies for Santa.  We have one... count that, ONE... picture of Laurel taking her first communion.  We have no pictures of Laurel and the family with the pastor.  Honestly, there aren't even too many pictures of Christmas day.  I'm not really sure what happened here!

Moving past that, the events of December 24th and 25th were wonderful!  Laurel has been preparing for communion for a while now and it was moving to watch my dad assist the pastor in offering her the bread and wine at the Christmas Eve service.  Laurel beautifully sang a solo during the evening and Sierra did an amazing job performing two readings.  Sierra forgot to officially end her reading.  She came back and sat down as everyone remained still and quiet.  Brad pointed out the ending to her in the program and without hesitation she ran back up and said "Word of God. Word of Life" and then ran back to her seat!  She was a little embarrassed, but was able to laugh at the silliness of the situation!

My parents were staying for later Christmas Eve services so we didn't have a typical gathering like we usually would for first communion. We came back home joined by our friend and her daughter, Laurel.  Together, Laurel and Laurel read the "Night Before Christmas", we made reindeer food to put on the lawn, and enjoyed eggnog and cookies.

Christmas morning was wonderful to hear the excitement of all of the girls.  Sierra worked so hard on paintings for each family member, Laurel wrapped up quite a few of her own toys to give as gifts, Cadence went to town opening any package within arm's reach, and I was surprised and excited to get a blue box from Brad!  Typically we at least head to my parents' house for part of the day and sometimes then up to see Brad's family, but this year the grandparents came to our house.  It was wonderful to not have to go anywhere for the day and still get to celebrate with our families!  Despite dreary weather the kids spent quite a bit of time outdoors trying out their new toys (and so did I!).  I guess I will just have to try to keep the mental log of my memories since I have so few paper ones.  The fact, though, that we had too memories to keep up with to photograph them all... well, I'm okay with that!

Laurel's first communion

As soon as we sat down in church Cadence opened her bubble wrap bag, took off her shoes, and slipped on her penguin slippers.  Girlfriend demands comfort!

Getting ready to read

Brad is really getting ready to pet Shiloh, despite how this looks!

Reading the same book that I read as child

And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

Christmas morning chaos

Mini Rip Rider

Once she figured out how to spin there was no stopping her! Okay, the car stopped her, but she had her helmet on!

Everybody rides...

Round two with the grandparents.  The kids weren't excited at all!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Another last-first...

Oh, these last-firsts make my heart ache.  I had put off Cadence's first haircut because she hasn't really needed one, but also because this is the last time that I would be witnessing one of my children's first haircuts. (For the record, I missed out on Sierra's first haircut because Brad decided to do it himself when I was out of town.  It's a good thing that being tarred and feathered is obsolete, because that is what I wanted to do to him!)  The thought of cutting off Cadence's wispy little ends, the hair that I touched when she was first placed in my arms... the thought just took my breath away.  At three and half years old, though, it was time for her wispies to go.  She takes out her ponytails or clips within and hour and is always brushing her hair out of her face.

So, we headed to our beloved hairdresser, Mary.  Mary has given Cadence many "haircuts" since Cadence insists on getting it done every time she is at the salon.  Laurel and Sierra were so excited to watch Cadence get her first haircut.  Ironically, Cadence didn't sit nearly as still as when she has gotten her pretend haircuts, but she did pretty well.  She attempted to "read" while getting her 10 minute haircut!  Of course, she looks older now... or maybe it's just me.  It's so hard to believe that she is well on her way to being four years old.  Oh, those last-firsts.



What else should one read during her first haircut except "Fifteen" by Beverly Cleary?!

Two of the sweetest, funniest, most high energy girls that I know!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

The end of an era

Friday was a hard day for me.  Laurel was very excited for her last day of school.  She is counting the days down until Christmas and Friday was another one to mark off the calender.  But Friday was also Sierra's LAST day of school.  As in, she won't be going back.  We have decided to homeschool  Sierra starting in January. I never imagined that I would say these words!

It has not been an easy decision to make.  Especially considering how horrible challenging it was when I tried to teach Sierra to tie her shoes - "No, that's not the way to do it" "Yes it is" "No, you need to do this and this"  "No, I'm doing it the right way" "Accckkk!"  - I never thought that I'd be up to the immense challenge of being in charge of her entire education.  Unfortunately, our county/school budget is a complete trainwreck.  Ever since the school's budget was slashed before the summer things have just continued on a downward spiral.  Teachers are leaving.  Great teachers who deserve so much more they are getting (not just money but respect and appreciation).  I cannot imagine who will fill their void with the system in the position that it's in.  Most likely class sizes will get larger, advanced classes will become less available, etc.  Not to mention the insanity that if Sierra stays in our public schools in three years she will be going to high school.  Yes, the eighth graders are in the high school.  These were the concerns that made the decision a little easier.  Sierra has said that she wanted to be homeschooled since last year.  In light of these issues, it just felt like the right time to try it.

However, Sierra has had a good 5 1/2 years in the school system.  She has had some amazing teachers that have shaped her in to the wonderful girl that she is now.  They have taught her not just reading and writing, but also how to think outside of the box,  how to stand up for herself, how to be a kind, caring individual.  Although the schools are large Sierra has known a lot of these kids since she was just five years old.  They have shared lunch, gone to birthday parties, and grown up together.  These are the reasons why Friday was hard.  These reasons are why, very unexpectedly, my tears wouldn't stop as I said good-bye to the school guidance counselor.  This is the end of Sierra's relationship with these teachers who have taught her well, the principal who has greeted her when she walked in the door in the morning, the kids with whom she has spent endless hours on the playground.  If this year works out well for us and we decide to continue with homeschooling, Friday was the end of an era for Sierra.  And "end of eras" make me sad.

Sierra seemed largely unfazed by the events of Friday.  We've talked to her about the way relationships will change with a lot of kids from school, but she is very excited about starting this endeavor.  She is anxious to explore new ways of learning and enjoy the flexibility that goes along with homeschooling.  To be realistic, she's excited about getting to stay in her pj's some days! 

As for Laurel, she is in a great little school right now, small class size, and fabulous teacher.  She has zero desire to be homeschooled.  At this point regarding the school system, circumstances are not so bad that I feel the need to take my child out against her wishes.  I hope that it never comes down to that which is why we will continue to fight for the school system and the teachers that stick it out through this mess.  I am beyond grateful for what they do everyday and want to see them get everything that they deserve and that they need to keep growing our children.  In the meantime, wish me a little luck in this exciting but daunting endeavor with Sierra!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cadence dances

Cadence started taking dance class this year.  She is now to the point where she doesn't cry when I leave her, but I still haven't figured out exactly how she feels about it.  I've strongly encouraged her to stay in for the second half after seeing how ADORABLE the recital outfits are!  Great reason, I know!  But I'd really like to see each of my three girls dance, just once, on stage.  I think this might be it for Cadence.  I finally got to see what she does in class during parent observation day.  Apparently, whatever she is doing she requires the intense concentration that accompanies sticking her tongue out!

Lila and Cadence

You put her right foot in...

Again with the tongue!

Bunny hop

One of my favorites!

Blair and Zoe were CRACKING us up!  They spent more time making
 faces at themselves than dancing!

Cadence and her friends!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Laurel turns 8

Laurel was 7 going on 17.  Now she is 8 going on 18.  My sweet, precocious girl celebrated her 8th birthday in November.  I have acutely felt her growing up this year.  She wants to be older.  She wants to grow up.  Despite all of my threats and bribes to try and keep her "my little girl", she forges ahead into "tween-hood" too early. 

Last week she built a fairy house out of papers, put a little bed in it and a sign that read "Fairies welcome".  We then stood outside in the dark in 40 degree winds to set up house complete with a button path.  Due to my extreme dislike of cold, this is something that I might normally balk at and try to talk her into waiting until the next morning.  But here was the "little" in my girl coming out and I was grabbing every second of it, even while freezing my buns off!  (It was so cold that I didn't even get pictures!)  When the paper house was pounded by wind during the night she requested something sturdier to build a new one.  I've offered her at least 3 boxes, but it seems the "big" has moved back in and she has gone back to focusing on perfecting her outfits and singing tween-ish songs.  I know it's all part of the process of growing up.  Give them wings, blah, blah, blah...  Roots is what I want to focus on at the moment! 

While this part has been hard,  Laurel still loves me more than a googol every night at bedtime and she did asked for a doll for her birthday.  She does well in school and loves to hang out with her friends.  Laurel looks up to Sierra and continues to smother Cadence with love (much to Cadence's dismay at times).  While she is growing up a bit too fast for my taste, I feel like such a lucky mom to be the person who gets to watch her do it!

Laurel had begged for a Jasmine outfit when we were in Disney world.  I refused to pay the Disney world price for it but found a great deal online when we got home.  We gave it to Laurel as an early birthday present so that she could wear it for Halloween.  Ever since she got "Lizzy" last year she has wanted another American Girl doll to be friends with Lizzy.  So we now have Emma who keeps Lizzy company while Laurel is at school. 

We didn't do a big party (although Laurel is still planning for one!) but went on a girls' weekend to DC.  A friend of mine has a daughter named Laurel who was born just a few weeks after our Laurel.  Spur of the moment we decided to take them to DC for the weekend.  Sierra and Cadence spent the weekend with grandparents and cousins. It was wonderful to be able to spend so much one on one time with my middle child.  "Laurel squared" enjoyed ice skating, swimming at the hotel, art museums, and climbing on statues.  We even got to check off one of my bucket list items: eating at DC cupcakes in Georgetown!  So glad that I got to do this with my mature, sweet, loving 8 year old whom I love more than a googol!

Seeing her early birthday present

Our "bust into your new year" was more of a sleepwalking amble

She wanted black and hot pink cupcakes for her class

We welcome Emma to our home

Einstein was Laurel's favorite things in DC

Ice skating topped her list though!  I saw more determination in Laurel in 4 hours of skating that I think I have ever seen!

DC Cupcakes!

National Museum of Women in the Arts was a gorgeous place

The "Laurels" decided to sit down and really appraise this slightly disturbing painting

Climbing on statues never gets old