First Soccer Game

Kicking the ball was more fun before people started telling her what to do.

We had our first soccer practice two weeks ago. We missed the next practice and first game while we were in Boston, so this past Friday Violet headed back onto the field for her second every soccer practice.

I wasn't holding my breath. Even though she has two friends from school on the team, the first practice wasn't what I would call a smashing success. It was a million degrees outside on a Friday evening. Towards the end Violet got tripped up and walked off the field in tears. I was distracted with keeping Annie in the shade and didn't see much of what was going on. It was just... meh. I had hoped that soccer would maybe be the thing that Violet took a shine to - we've tried ballet, gymnastics, but nothing has really stuck. Well, it didn't look good for soccer either.

But practice went well! Our coach is awesome, a first grade teacher, no less! So she's great with young kids. There were only three kids there for the first 15 minutes or so, and that helped Violet get comfortable again. I had to get out there and encourage her quite a bit, but hey, no tears, so I called it a success.

"Huggies" with her school buddies Taylor and JT.

Annie wanted in on the action.
Then it was game time. Our team is the Pink Falcons (hey, the boys picked it!) and our smart coach brought pink balloons to put on the goal we were aiming into. Genius idea.But look at my shy little friend. At first she flat-out refused to go onto the field, even for warm-ups. Then she went, but insisted on keeping her fingers in her mouth (her tell-tale "I'm nervous" look). Eventually she went in, and Coach Angie held her hand on the field.

Slo-o-o-w-ly she started warming up to the idea of a game. I think so many kids on the field was intimidating. It's one thing to kick the ball around with Daddy in the backyard, it's another to fight a pack of feet and legs over the ball. But she hung in there. By the end Violet was actually running independently around the field, moving in the right direction, and I think she might have even incidentally kicked the ball. There were no tears, and she claimed she had fun.

Coach Angie even gave her the balloons from the goal at the end of the game for being the "most improved" player. So there you go. The second practice was better than the first, I'm hoping the second game is better than the first, and things just keep improving from here. Sweet girl. I remember what it was like to be shy and nervous in new situations. Hopefully she'll build up her confidence and learn to love it. The other parents at the game were so sweet. One told me how she signed her daughter up to play, and it took until the last game before she ever touched the ball. But it's all about trying, you know? And it was too cute watching the kiddos running up and down the field, scoring in the wrong goals, trying so hard not to use their hands. Looks like I'm a soccer mom, for the next few weeks at least!

JT and Violet


Like Rain On Your Wedding Day

So, we went to Boston this past weekend!Matt's brother Greg got married and it was an unforgettable event, let me tell you.

Let me also tell you that taking a day off work when you are a teacher is barely worth it. I worked overtime just to get things ready for my substitute, and trying to line up everything for Monday morning so I wouldn't be completely behind coming back to work. The poor kids - it was their first spelling test, their first time turning in homework, their first time buying ice cream - all without me. Not an ideal Friday to take off, but what to do. Turns out they survived, so I guess the extra prep work was worth it.

Unlike the last flight we took as a family, I was not nearly prepared for this one. I think I had so much to do at the school to get ready, getting myself and company ready just took a backseat. We were already in Peachtree City to drop Annie off at my mom's house when I realized I didn't bring Violet's birth certificate. (Thankfully the airport security didn't ask for it.) We were already on the bus leaving the off-site parking when I remembered that Violet's booster seat was still in our car (oops).

Friendly Crossroads
But we finally made it. The place we were staying, the site of the outdoor wedding, was this very large... hippie commune? Hostel? Inn? I'm not sure quite how to describe it. There were lots of rooms, ranging from a single bed to a 25 bunk-bed dorm. There were community bathrooms. There was no air conditioning. The grounds were beautiful - a huge garden, green lawn, fire pit, a giant white tent ready and waiting for the wedding party. We hung out, tried not to melt in the 90 degree heat, and waited for the rehearsal dinner (minus the rehearsal - there was no actual rehearsal - a point that will become relevant later).

Picking an ear of corn!
Really hoping to roast the corn at the firepit!
I teach the sun flower life cycle every spring, so I made Matt take a picture of me to show the kids.

Rehearsal dinner selfie!
Greg and Lauren. Look at those cuties! And they even matched!
The rehearsal dinner was lovely. There were lots of other kids there, all boys of course. But we're used to that. I met some of the other parents and everyone was very nice.

The next morning, since I was already sweaty, I decided we might as well get to work setting up for the wedding. We set up tables under the tent, put out all the chairs for the ceremony, moved things, decided things, sweated. I told Matt once I showered my plan was to go sit in the air conditioned car until the ceremony!

So at this point I should probably disclose that as beautiful as the day had started out, there was an 80 percent chance of showers at 5 p.m. Coincidentally, 5 p.m. was also the start of the wedding. So that was looming all day. But it was just so pretty! The sky so blue! It was easy to put it out of our minds as we got down to the business of getting prettied up and trying to stay cool.

Proud parents of the groom!
The flower girl and bridesmaid!
The bride sneaks a peek.

Ready to go!
This space here is reserved for the picture I didn't manage to take, Violet coming down the aisle with her flower basket. Remember how I said there was no rehearsal? Well, I had done a quick run-down for her. After all, she's been a flower girl before. But for that first time, I did a lot of prep work. We talked about it. We practiced at home with a stuffed animal audience. Not so much this time. I was sitting in the front row waiting for her, everyone else was already on their way to the front. Sweet girl took a big handful of flower petals, didn't really seem to know what to do with then, so she just flung them at the ground. It was sweet! Funny! A few people laughed in that "I was hoping the flower girl would do something precious like that" way. But that was all it took. Poor Violet burst into tears and ran the rest of the way, into my arms. All together now, awww. Oh well.

Then the ceremony started. At this point, the storm is gathering directly overhead. The minister makes a comment about "marrying them quickly," but then proceeds to talk at length about... important things, I'm sure. I'll be honest, I could not concentrate on a word. Then there were three poetry readings. Three! As the thunder rolls like a drumline competition happening overhead! I'm talking ominous. Then finally it's time for vows. Lauren got two lines into her vows, stopped, looked at the crowd, and very sensibly suggested "Shall we go under the tent?"

No one needed to be asked twice. In unison, we stood up, grabbed our chairs, and ran for the tent, making it just as the first fat drops began to fall. Within seconds, the sound of the torrential monsoon was so loud, no one could hear a thing. The lights in the tent were flickering. Guests were struggling to help put up the tent sides. Thunder boomed directly overhead. There was talk of continuing the ceremony under the tent, there was talk of evacuating to the house if the lightning got too intense. Violet was freaking out.

So we ran for the house. Eventually, all 90 guest ended up crammed into the living room area, the air quickly steaming up from the combination of damp clothes and no A/C. After ten minutes of "what do we do?" it was decided that the show must go on! They must get married! And so they did, picking up with the vows right where they left off, surrounded (and I mean, surrounded) by family and close friends (and I mean, close). It was beautiful. There were tears, there was laughter, it was amazing.

And wouldn't you know it, once Greg and Lauren were officially married, the storm passed. We were eventually able to go back under the tent, have delicious food grown in the garden just a few steps away, watch the bride and groom preform their first dance - a choreographed wonder - and it ended up being a fabulous party. Certainly one that will be remembered.

There was brunch the next morning (fresh blueberry pancakes, honey harvested just down the lawn, could it be any more farm to face?) Then we hustled to the airport, giving Aunt Judie a ride on the way. We both had flights back to Atlanta at the same time, different airlines. The plan was to meet at Atlanta baggage claim, then we'd drop Aunt Judie off at home on the way to pick up Annie. Scheduled flight time: 3 p.m. Due to land at 6:30. I estimated we'd make it home by 9 p.m. at the latest. Not great, but enough time to unpack, make bottles, wrap my head around Monday.

Goodbye Boston!
You'd never think there was a raging thunderstorm last night...

We got on the plane. The pilot announced there was a slight mechanical delay, they were looking for a special tool to fix something. A few minutes later he came back to say the tool couldn't be located but not to worry, they'd just borrow one from a different airline. The flight attendants came around with water, they put on a movie. We were still at the gate. The pilot came on again. Good news, he said, the magic little tool had been located... in Atlanta. They were flying it up. Our estimated departure time - 8 p.m. Instantly everyone's cell phone rings - the airline calling to tell us what we already knew. Ugh with a capital UGH.

We got off the plane. We made phone calls. We walked from one end of the terminal to the other. Fortunately there was a cute little indoor playground that Violet played on for a long time. In fact, Violet was actually awesome through the entire ordeal. The airline ended up ordering pizza for everyone and passing out snacks and drinks. We found a sports bar and let Violet color in a corner while we watched football. And waited.

Now boarding! Except not.
Long story short, we landed around 11:15. Violet was officially done with the trip at this point and I carried her from the plane, through the train, to our waiting luggage, all the way to the off-site parking pick-up, and into our waiting car. We drove through another monsoon (seriously, can't catch a break here), finally arriving home at 1:30 in the morning.

And four hours later, I went back to work. Awesome. Although Matt had it worse - he had to drive back to the airport for a business trip!

So, all's well that ends well. The wedding ended up being beautiful and wild and memorable. We had fun as a family. And I finally got to see sweet Annie again when my parents drove her up on Monday.


We Got Spirit, Yes We Do!

Yesterday was spirit day at both our schools! Annie is sported a hand-me-down from Violet, the top only. Her chunky little legs won't fit into the matching bloomers! Violet had to borrow a Georgia shirt from next door because none of her shirts from last year fit anymore.Matt attempted a dozen photos without much success, so enjoy watching our outtakes from the morning.

Mrs. Megan and friends!
Violet's awesome teacher sent this one of some of the UGA fans in the classroom. Aw. I'll have to write an ode to Mrs. Megan later. Suffice to say, I'm so happy where Violet ended up this year. This teacher has all the first-year enthusiasm that I could hope for. She updates us constantly (I'm a big believer in over-communicating with parents), sends pictures, is so positive about all the kids and is just all-around adorable. It's a great confirmation that we made the right decision about Pre-K this year.

Field Trip!

Ready for the bus.

Violet had her first ever field trip this week! Girlfriend was so excited she was up at 6:15. The first words out of her mouth: "Is it field trip day?" And oh yes, it was! How adorable is her class? And how sweet is her teacher to send us all these pictures?

See those silly bands? Those are for behavior. Everyone starts with four, then you earn or lose them accordingly.
So the first field trip was planned for Build-a-Bear. To make one bear. That the whole class has to share. Sounded like a disaster in my mind! Hopefully there was a lot of groundwork laid for the fact that everyone wasn't getting their own!

Mrs. Megan sent an email saying that the class had voted to make a dog and name him Pizza. I laughed so hard on that one. They got him one boy outfit and one girl outfit, so I guess he's a gender-bending puppy. But hey, everyone was happy.

Everyone got to put a heart inside the puppy. Talk about the love!

Now this is what I call following directions. How do I get my six-year-olds to do that?


Annie 11 Months

I can't believe it's almost time to plan a birthday party! This little stinker is 11 months old! Annie's quite a mover and shaker these days. Crawling is old news. It's all about pulling up, climbing up, crawling over, standing on things, and being the kind of kid you shouldn't take your eyes off of. Matt walked to the kitchen to put something away and Annie decided to climb up three steps before he could pry her off the stairs. Yep we've got trouble. Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for... Pretty? Pudgy? Pancake? Take your pick.

Potting her escape! Also, the thighs!!!
I wouldn't say she's as much of a talker as Violet is (probably because Violet keeps doing all the talking!), but Annie's sounds are getting more meaningful. Everytime we go in the kitchen as she sees her bottles, she says "ba-ba" ever-so-hopefully. "Mmmum mum" at dinnertime means "more". I haven't figured out what "na-na" or "ya-ya" mean, and she makes a "vuh" that might or might not mean Violet.

These days Annie's favorite toys are definitely the ones that make noise. We pulled out the play table and a ride-on car with both light up and talk and play music and she can spend many a minute pushing buttons and doing this little head-bopping dance. She even claps along and keeps pretty good rhythm. I imagine birthday presents will include plenty more toys that make noise - here's hoping there's an off switch or a volume control!


Wrong Answer

A very well written and sobering article about the Atlanta Public School cheating scandal.

It's All About First Grade

Once again blessed to be a part of this fabulous team of first grade teachers!

We're already in full swing down the first grade hall. It hasn't been the easiest start to the year - pre-planning was over-scheduled with meetings, our new laptops are all on the fritz, we have kids coming out our ears (25 to 28 six-year-olds in one room is quite a lot), a new teacher evaluation program is rolling out this year, and already we feel behind. But there is no finer group of ladies I'd rather be in the trenches with!
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