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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

first day of first grade

I just got back from taking Natalie to school ... for her first day of first grade!  How is that even possible?!  I miss her already, and the house is far too quiet!

Preparations for the "big day" started almost a week ago with a School Supply Scavenger Hunt.  You see I felt a little guilty not taking NHV along for school supply shopping. I didn't want her to miss out on the "excitement" of it but also just wanted to get it done. So this morning I printed out the supply list, hid the supplies all over the house, and had her find everything before putting it in her backpack. She had a blast! I was able to double check to make sure we had everything we needed, get it all in one place and ready to go - with her help. She was especially excited to sharpen two dozen pencils - shouting out a different superlative with each pencil sharpened ... Awesome! Excellent! Fantastic! Great!

On Friday afternoon we found out the name of Natalie's teacher.  She had hopes of getting Mrs. F, and I was a little worried how she would react if that didn't happen.  Well, it didn't but - after looking at last year's yearbook - she was fine. She was also hoping our new neighbor Viv would be in her class but she's not; Viv got the teacher Natalie wanted. Surprisingly she took this double-whammy in stride, and just said, "Oh, Viv is going to love Mrs. F," with a big smile on her face.

Yesterday we prepared for "Meet the Teacher" by choosing a cute outfit and writing a little note to share some of Natalie's favorite things with Ms. W.  Her classroom is adorable and very organized - you know I love that combination!

Before going to bed last night, Natalie helped me pack her lunch ... her motives were two-fold: 1) she loves her new lunchbox and couldn't wait to fill it and 2) she knows I tend to run late in the mornings and she does not like to be late!  

She woke up bright and early this morning (like a good hour before she really needed to be awake) and got ready in record time. I couldn't believe how calm she was - excited but not nervous.  Just ready. 

So ... we leisurely took photos in the driveway ... 

Everything about this outfit - from the flower in her hair to the peace sign on her shirt and the little animal charm on her sneakers - and this pose captures Natalie and her personality.

Natalie loves drawing with chalk!  She is quite the little artist!

We have a new special handshake that involves giving each other a thumbs up ... love how this pose captures that!  Plus the sidewalk chalk is pretty cute!

... and then missed the bus!  Apparently I had last year's bus schedule - which I printed out just a week ago, so I don't know why the school district would leave old information on their website, but whatever!  I thought we still had plenty of time, ran in to check the time, heard her yelling that the bus was here, took off running, ... and watched the bus pull away.  Poor Natalie!  The one thing she really hates - being late, and I made her late for the bus on the first day of school!  She handled it like a champ - although I could tell she wanted to cry.  I apologized profusely, and she said, "It's okay, mommy, but maybe next time we shouldn't take so many pictures."  I may never get a first day photo again!

Thankfully, we still had plenty of time to get to school ... and Chad was working from home so I didn't have to worry about waking up CJV.  I drove Natalie to school and walked her into her classroom, which is what I wanted to do anyway - so it all worked out. 

I think Natalie had taken enough pictures ... but I couldn't resist capturing the length of the hallway and the shiny floors ... this is her place now!

Oh how I love the focus and concentration!

Going to be honest here.  I had the hardest time leaving that classroom.   Knowing that today marks the beginning of her {full day} school career - that she will spend more time in school each weekday than she does with me - that another adult will become an important part of her life - that this is the beginning of letting go - that she will still love me but will need me a little less - well, it overwhelms me.  It makes me hope with all my might that I didn't take those first six years for granted - that I was able to fully grasp what those years meant to both her and me.  

The realization that those years are over and aren't coming back fills me with longing and sadness.  However, the promise of what's to come - watching Natalie gain confidence and independence - witnessing the triumphs and being here when there are struggles - developing new roles and building our special relationship - fills me with such happiness!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Last Day of {her first year of} Preschool

Oh, my sweet Charlotte Jane is growing up entirely too fast!  She has already experienced her first and last day of a school year.  How is that possible?

After a very positive experience in the birth to three program, Charlotte was transitioned to a developmental preschool program via the public school district.  This happened the day after she turned three years old - six months ago now.  I was not planning to send her to preschool until the fall when she'll be almost four years old, and it wasn't an easy decision to make.   I wasn't ready for her to be gone four afternoons a week.  I wasn't sure she was ready to be away from me either.  {We both had a lot of separation issues!}  She seemed so young to be carrying a backpack and sitting for circle time and having recess! 

 She qualified for both speech and social delays and has an IEP with very specific goals.  She joined a class with three teachers and seven other students - only one of which was a girl.  She was the smallest and the youngest, and the transition was not easy.  But we stuck with it, she got use to it and eventually stopped crying when I dropped her off.  In fact, it was really wonderful to see her smiling at school, to hear her talking about friends, and to experience some progress toward her goals.  

We settled into a routine.  I even managed to find ways to spend two kid-free hours four days a week. Some more productive than others if I am being honest. Just like that June rolled around, and we found ourselves having to say good-bye to those friends and her first teachers.  

The celebration included a cookie with chocolate frosting ...

an elephant ride ... {We have been waving to this elephant on the way to and from school for the past month.  Charlotte loved that elephant until I popped the quarters in and it began to gallop!}

 a stop to see the falls ...
and a climb up and down many, many stairs ... {Charlotte reacts to a good set of stairs the way children react to Christmas morning!}

 {love when she proclaims, "I did it!"}

 Here we are together, but she's completely ignoring me and asking to climb the stairs again ;)

We have a fun-filled summer ahead of us and two more years of preschool before kindergarten!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

rainy sunday play date

Since the start of the school year, NHV has seen less and less of her favorite friends.  It's nearly impossible to align schedules, especially with PM kindergarten as well as music class and dance class for each girl.  I feel like we run from one activity to the next all.week.long.  So much so that I find myself less motivated to make commitments on the weekend.

However, I have also grown weary of pretend play.  I partake in plenty of dress-up and restaurant and store and princess. At this point NHV needs time in fantasy land with someone her own age ... as much as I need to get the heck out of fantasy land!

Which is why a Sunday Play Date was absolutely perfect.  Natalie met her friend Ali when she was just six weeks old at our Newborn and You class.  Their birthdays are just days apart, and they are both tall for their age.  While we don't get to see each other more than a few times a year, the girls have always played well together.  Today was no different.  They bounced from one activity to the next.  They had no less than a dozen outfit changes.  They giggled and shrieked and twirled. 

And they played outside - despite the rainy, soggy conditions.  I keep finding more reasons to love our new property, including the grove of large evergreens and tree house nestled in between.  It all but blocks out the rain giving us access to swings, a slide, and a special place to play.

and a great view of the gorgeous fall foilage in the front of our house!

A big thanks to Ali for coming to play, hanging out with Natalie in fantasy land, and helping us discover our rain day hideaway!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Kissing & Falling In Love

A boy on the bus (who also happens to be in Natalie's class) told her, "I want to fall in love with you," and then tried to kiss her! Smooth operator! Ah, young love! {trying not to freak out!}

So we had a conversation about who we should kiss ... like people in our family ... she listed mommy, daddy, Charlotte, Grammy, etc. ... hesitated just a beat and ended her list with "and people who fall in love with you." well, that's true ... but not exactly the answer I was hoping for ...

Monday, October 8, 2012

dirt. i choose dirt.

at an award-winning local festival.
on an insanely beautiful day.
surrounded by face painting, pony rides, bounce houses, ...

where is cjv happiest?

under the shade of a tree
digging in a pile of dirt
with a spoon from the ice cream we all shared

that's my girl!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

make like a tree and leave

The sunshine here in the NW has been unstoppable.  The mornings are chilly but the afternoons are warm and delightful.  The leaves are starting to change colors and make their way to the ground.

With our much larger property and plethora of trees, we are starting to realize there is going to be a lot of raking in our near future!  In fact, I just looked on Craigslist for a leaf blower!

But today I grabbed a rake and treated the girls to a roll down the hill through a leaf pile!

Charlotte is fascinated by the crunchiness. She could've walked through that pile and picked up handfuls of dry leaves all day.

Big sister demonstrating the fine art of rolling down the hill ... and then popping up for a pose-ready photo op.

Charlotte making her way back up the hill through the leaf pile!

As much fun as the brown, crunchy pile of leaves proved to be, I couldn't wait to turn my attention (and camera) back toward the trees where the leaves are vibrant and the sky which is blue and clear.

 This profile.  This thoughtful expression.  I cherish it.

This is Natalie.  Everything about it.  Her out-stretched ballerina arms.  Her gleeful, slightly mischievous expression.

 And this is me ... trying out the macro setting on my camera from afar.  And I kinda like it.

While I was taking pictures of the tree, Charlotte found a rock inside that pink bucket and had to bring it to me, saying, "rock-Y."   {How cute are her little fingers around that rock?} 

And while I was busy taking a picture of Charlotte's rock, Natalie started climbing the tree ...

The rock was quickly abandoned.  I love how Charlotte is reaching up.  Wanting to do whatever her big sister is doing.

Friday, October 5, 2012

a day in the life of cjv

One benefit of having a two year old who doesn't nap  (even though her five year old sister is in afternoon Kindergarten and mommy could really use an hour to get some work done - just sayin') is having the chance to spend a little one-on-one quality time with my baby girl. 

One benefit of living in the Pacific Northwest during this time of year is the amazing weather!  True story, folks, it doesn't always rain in Seattle!  And when the sky is clear, I would wager there isn't a more beautiful place in the USA.

Anyway, when those two benefits combine, there's no place I'd rather be than at the park ... chasing after my Charlotte Jane.

We started at the playground where CJV climbed every imaginable surface - stairs, ladders, slides ... all in about a five minute span.  Then she chased birds into a huge open field.  She soon gave up on the birds and just took off running with reckless abandon - this is her happy place.  A place that gets even happier as she scoops up handfuls of dirt.

Eventually I managed to trick her into racing me back to the playground.  I love that about this age ... my ability to make doing what I want her to do seem fun!

Back at the playground it was time to go underneath everything in her path.  Don't you know "climbing over" was so 30 minutes ago!

Soon enough she made her way to the bench where she promptly explained, "Hun-gee." and requested a  "nack, peas."

I struck a deal with her.  Come give mommy a hug and take one more picture ...

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