Back to School

Big day!

Well, we did it! We survived the first week of school! And by "week," I mean two days. But still, it was two days of learning new routines, remembering lunch times, matching little faces with names, waking up at 5:30 a.m. to get everyone up and out of the house on time... Reality!

And you guys, I have a kindergartener. I know. It's crazy! Violet has had wildly mixed emotions about school. On the first morning, she told me she was nervous and a little excited. By the time we got to my classroom and she got to play on my iPad waiting for the bell, that had switched to "a little nervous and a lot excited." She did great when I dropped her off in her room, she was all smiles when I caught sight of her on the playground, and she only teared up when I had to leave the cafeteria.

The next day was a little harder. She cried the minute she spotted me at lunch and boo-hooed the entire time. I'm hoping things will be better now that teachers don't have to eat with their classes anymore and she won't have to see me for 20 minutes without being allowed to get up and run over. It's an adjustment, to be sure. But Friday afternoon on the way home, girlfriend talked nonstop about her new friends ("a girl asked me to be her best friend and I said yes but I don't remember her name") and things she learned. I think she'll get there.

Oh these girls.
Annie, in the meantime, is still adjusting to back to school. Poor friend has cried at every drop-off, and it doesn't help that while she's new to being back at daycare in general, everyone is new to her room. So everyone is just as sad as she is. Oh, those poor teachers! At least none of my first graders have cried! But she's happy as can be when I pick her up, so I'm not sweating it.

Violet and her teacher, Ms. Howington, on the first day of kindergarten!
And as for me, well I'm back at it in first grade! This year we have nine on our team, up from seven last year. Everyone stuck around, and our two parapros from last year got their own classrooms, so we are a solid team. We know each other well, we love each other and work well together. It's going to be an interesting year... We had to split onto two different hallways, and two different planning periods. Due to being the co-taught class that has to acquiesce to the special education schedule, I end up having my planning period while everyone else on my hallway is still teaching. So I'm feeling a little lonely this year. Although, due to being the co-taught class, I also have a special education teacher coming in to teach with me for three different segments each day, so perhaps I won't be too lonely after all. And that will be the biggest change of all for me this year - co-teaching. I'm hoping it will be a year where I learn a lot, grow a lot, get challenged and stretched and gain a lot of confidence... I never saw myself as a special education teacher, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it, two days into this year. But I'm taking it as it comes. I'm lucky that my co-teacher is a former first grade teacher, in the classroom next to me, actually. So she knows our material and we know each other and I'm hopeful it will be a good year.

First grade - we're number one! Literally. Get it?


All Good Things...

All good things must come to an end, and that includes this summer. I'll be honest, I was prepared for this summer to be kinda meh. I figured the pool would be tough with two kids. We didn't have our traditional beach trip with the neighbors planned. I thought battling boredom, tv obsessions and non-stop snack whining would be in the cards for sure.

But I've been pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. The summer has been great! And now it's almost over.

On Thursday I leave the kids with Matt and head to a... Bible study weekend? Spiritual retreat? Cult gathering? To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what I'm in for, other than I can't bring a cell phone. Or a watch. No technology of any kind is allowed. I'm terrified looking forward to being unplugged from it all for three days.

And when I get back, that's it. Bye bye summer. Annie starts daycare and I head back to the "office". I'm going to try to get my classroom ready in the three days before preplanning starts that Thursday. (Cue husband rolling eyes at the fact that I use unpaid time to get things ready. But the amount of meetings and things we have on the schedule before the kids show up really doesn't give much choice.)

So to make myself feel better about the end of summer, I thought I'd go through and list the accomplishments and activities we enjoyed these last eight weeks. Here goes!

Books read: 12 (I know, that seems like a lot even for me! I got in some trashy romance set in the Scottish Highlands, a couple detective novels set in a pre-astroid apocolyptic world, some John Green soon-to-be-a-movie YA, Amazon's Book of the Year, amongst others.)

Vacations taken: 2 (although with a stop at the beach and the Great Wolf Lodge, I almost want to count this one trip as two vacations).

Day camps for Violet: 2 (Definitely looking to increase this next year! Camps have been a blast!)

Sleepovers for Violet: 2

Times Annie peed on potty: 2

Vegetables harvested from garden: 3 peppers, 6 and counting cucumbers, lots 'o cherry tomatoes, basil out our ears

Baseball games attended: 0 (This one makes me sad.)

Number of school ideas pinned to Pinterest: 0 (Seriously, I try to really take time off in the summer. Plus Pinterest has started to stress me out.)

Miscellaneous accomplishments: got new glasses, finished my Invisalign braces, bought a new Kindle after mine died, converted Annie's crib (not sure this should be listed as "accomplishment"), rearranged playroom

And there you have it! Not a bad summer, if I say so myself. It's been so nice to get up in the morning without having to jump immediately into the shower and onto the day. I've actually had time to think about things and not make snap decisions, time to consider and mull things over. What a luxury! I'm trying to hold onto this feeling, soak it in while it lasts, before works takes over everything again. We have a couple last playdates, I'm sure there's at least one more trip to the pool in our future, we're goign to keep this one good to the last drop.



Girls' trip!
The last couple days, the girls and grandmas (and me) have been enjoying a stay at Callaway Gardens! Hopefully we can make this girls trip a tradition!

We arrived on Monday around lunchtime. Now, I will say this. The check-in process at Callaway leaves much to be desired. After waiting around in line, corralling two kids full of energy after the car trip down, just to be told our cabin wouldn't be ready for another four hours, if that... But it was only up from there. We had lunch in a cafe and fed the extremely excited turtles at the Discovery Center.

So. Many. Turtles!
Then we headed to the "beach" to watch the FSU circus performance. Fun fact: my high school friend Tiffani performed with the FSU circus while she was in school there! I believe her act was the Spanish Web (top of the photo collage). The only downside? It was so hot! I can't believe the acrobats didn't slip off the ropes or drop their juggling sticks! I was sitting in the shade couldn't stop sweating!

The Big Top!
I guess I should have prepped Violet more about the circus. In her mind, circus equals clowns, elephants, all that Ringling Bros jazz. She kept asking where the animals were. And she seemed more than a little nervous by the trapeze acts way up there at the top of the tent. I did capture a picture to prove she enjoyed it, however.

Pretty impressed, elephants or no.
Finally our cabin was ready. We unpacked and ordered a pizza dinner, delivered to the pool. It was a great first day!

After sleeping in, we got ready for the beach. We were one of the first families to arrive and loved having the place to ourselves. Although it never really got that crowded at all. Everyone had fun swimming and we stayed through lunch, digging in the sand, splashing in the water, having a great time.

See those four heads to the left? That's us!

Big chir!


Playing an intense game of library with Mimi.
Later that afternoon, we visited the butterfly house. It was very pretty, such a calm space, full of falling water and fluttering butterflies. There was even a big glass case where you could watch them hatching out of their cocoons. Very cool!

Butterfly House.
 After dinner (during which a woman stopped by to tell us how sweet and entertaining the girls were... this as Violet laid on the bench talking to herself and I held Annie's bowl of mac and cheese with one hand and ate my salad with the other hand while keeping all the spillables, breakables and cutting utensils out of her reach - good times!) we stopped for ice cream at the little shop right near our cabin.

The next morning we had time for another quick trip to the pool before we had to pack up and head back home. I bet Matt missed us! (Hahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaa!)

Let's do it again next year!


Conquering the Slide!

All summer long, I have been waiting for Violet to be brave enough to tackle our pool slide by herself. And today was the day! So proud of this girl!

Also proud of this girl for finally succumbing to a nap poolside. I actually got to lay in a beach chair and read a book at the pool! Will wonders never cease?! Clearly it's a sign that summer is almost over and it's time to go back to work!

Going Organic

Along with my new beauty routine, another change slowly taking place this summer has been at the grocery. More and more of my grocery picks are of the organic variety.

You're probably rolling your eyes right now. Either because you practically have stock in Whole Foods and have been buying organic, cage-free, nitrate-free, grass-fed, locally-sourced, minimally-processed whole-grain super foods for the past decade, or because you refuse to buy into the over-priced hype that is "organic," whatever that label means.

Just a few months ago, I fell firmly into the latter category. I mean, no one can really argue that food with fewer pesticides and hormone injections is worse for you. But is it really better for you? And it certainly isn't better for your wallet. I basically lived by the rule of "when I win the lottery, sure I'll buy organic".

But then my neighbor Kim had to do a persuasive speech as part of a class assignment and I was invited to be part of the audience. (Yep, she had to do the speech for an audience, and film us to prove we were there listening attentively. Side note - I totally wanted to punk her professor and show up in costume or something. Oddly, Kim refused to let us...) As part of the assignment, she had to pick a side: organic or not worth it. And as often happens, in the course of her researching and writing and persuading, she actually convinced herself. Not only that organic is better (no one really argues there), but that it's also worth the increased cost. To put her money where her mouth was, she decided to buy all organic for a month. And as her neighbor, I benefited once a week from this shopping decision. I then proceeded to get brainwashed by her enthusiasm.

Now that organic products are relatively easy to find, and sloooowly coming down in price, I've started making a few switches. Now we buy organic milk. (Gulp. I get SO mad when the girls waste it. Talk about crying over spilt milk. I haven't been this sensitive about milk consumption since I was nursing/pumping. If breastmilk is liquid gold, organic milk is liquid silver.)

I bought organic chicken the other day. My eggs are cage-free. The girls have organic mac and cheese, animal crackers, apple sauce and juice boxes. We haven't made a complete switch yet, though. I can't seem to bring myself to buy organic cheese. And it's hard to buy organic fruit when the in-season produce is finally so cheap. Organic pasta, is it really necessary?

So, baby steps. I can't say I've noticed any radical differences, other than feeling more smug and superior when I roll through the aisles of Publix. But as Kim oh so persuasively pointed out, the more we (the universal we) buy organic, the greater the demand, the lower prices will drop, you get the economic picture.

But until then, you can find me crying into my (organic) milk.


One of Those Women

This summer, I've picked up some new habits. A few things, I never thought I'd be doing. A few, I should have been doing long ago.

For starters, I've finally become a grown up and started washing my face every night. With actual facial products. Anti-aging products. Products that cost more than my weekly grocery list (don't worry, I get a sweet discount through a lovely contact).

But surely you've been taking care of your skin all along, you say in horror! You're in your mid-thirties, for crying out loud! You're doing 55 down a one-way highway to Wrinkletown! Well, I'd like to say yes. But there have been many a nights I've reached for a baby wipe and made a half-hearted swipe at my face before passing out in bed. There have been many more nights where I've fallen asleep, make-up still smeared about, giving me a Walking Dead fright when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror the next morning. Washing my face every night is right up there with flossing: I know I should do it, I believe I should do it, I just can't seem to make myself religiously follow through with my good intentions. Until now.

So what has changed, you ask? Well, I finally invested in some good products, thanks to a generous friend. When she heard about my beauty "routine," she practically dragged me to her car and foisted a bag of samples on me, making me promise to ditch the baby wipes. I agreed, abashed. Hey, if it didn't work out, I'd have a drawer of freebies to gather dust, no sweat off my (wrinkled) brow.

To my amazement, however, taking care of my skin has become my new thing. Forcing myself to wash my face, slather on my moisturizer, dab on my eye cream, it's given me a self-imposed ten minutes of "me time" (hahaha, me time! Remember that?!) Do I see a difference? Well, I do! Although whether it's from the formula (words like longevity, rejuvenation potential and vitality can't hurt) or the fact that anything would be an improvement over my last skin care regimen, is still out for debate. But I'm afraid I've gotten myself thoroughly hooked. I've started making sure I wash my face right after putting the girls to sleep, ensuring I don't end up too exhausted to drag myself to the sink after binge-watching the latest season of Veep. But it hasn't been hard to start this new habit. I find I so look forward to the mini-face massage of cleansing and rich, buttery night moisturizer (yep, I have a night moisturizer and a day moisturizer. I'm one of those women now) that making time for it hasn't been a problem. What used to seem like such a huge chore is now easy.

Now flossing, that's still an insurmountable bedtime obstacle.


We spent our Fourth of July in the same way we have for the past several years, hanging out with our neighbors and their family, enjoying a patriotic potluck and watching fireworks from the golf course.

Turns out, I have two girls who share a strong dislike for fireworks. Every year Violet bravely makes an attempt to watch them, and every year the first few pops have her scrambling for the safety of the house. Not even the back porch is far enough from the noise; she has to be behind closed doors, preferably with her entire family gathered with her.

Walking up to the golf course, I tried to explain to Annie what was about to occur. "Fireworks!" I said. "Yash!" she replied. "I will be loud," I said. "Yash!" she replied. "Big boom," I said. "Boom!" she replied. She watched the first burst with wide eyes. But before the second pop, she turned to me and firmly stated, "Too loud! Too loud! Back inside!" So back inside we went, to Violet's relief. We did venture back outside one more time, when the crew lit the lanterns and sent them floating up into the sky. It was just like the scene from Tangled; they are so pretty! Probably illegal, but beautiful.

All in all, it was a very happy Independence Day, and I hope yours was too!

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