School's Out for Summer!

Last Day of First Grade! 
We did it! One more year is in the books! I officially have a second grader! Violet has turned into an awesome reader, and her speech has improved to the point that she might get to graduate out next year. Most importantly, she enjoys school. She likes learning. I never get any "I don't want to go to school" complaints from this girl.

Look how much she's grown!
It's been a privilege to have her at the same school where I teach. I saw so much of this girl during the day, passing through the halls, on the playground at recess each afternoon. Next year will be a little different because our paths won't intersect as much. But that's probably a good thing, too.

First Day/Last Day with the fabulous Mrs. Lockett!
It's been such a busy week, what with our end of the year carnival, our first swim meet, the general last week of school busyness of packing up the classroom and setting up our first grade "camp" that I don't think it truly hit me that the year was done until I saw the buses pulling out of the parking lot for the last time. There are always so many mixed emotions to watching the kids load up for the last time - a little bit of sadness, a whole lot of relief, some giddiness thrown in... I'm relieved to have my first year at this new school under my belt and I won't be the new kid on the block anymore. It's been a good ride, but man am I looking forward to summer!

That's a wrap!

Go Orcas!

Suited up for the first meet!

We signed the girls up for our neighborhood swim team this year. It's a great program, but man has it been intense. All through the month of May (only one of the busiest school months of the year) the girls have had practice every evening, Monday through Thursday. It's forced me to be very organized and diligent about not wasting time at school in order to get out the door on time! 

The girls have loved getting in the pool every day. Considering this is Violet's first time being exposed to official swim strokes and techniques, she has jumped right in with enthusiasm, and I've seen major improvements daily. Annie is on the Junior Orcas swim team and is basically receiving swim lessons. There is a head coach and then tons of middle school and high school helpers in the water and she loves jumping into the pool, practicing blowing bubbles and getting her head wet. She's one of the youngest on the team, but even if she doesn't learn to officially swim this summer, it's great for her water confidence.

And they're off!
Thursday, the day before our last day of school, was our first swim meet. All week I had been more consumed with this upcoming meet that I was by anything going on in the classroom, which says a lot. What a crazy day to pick to kick off the swim team season! It had rained and poured all week, and although the sun broke through for the event, it was a chilly high-60s forecast. It was a mock meet, meaning we were the only team, but it was a great practice run for the real deal. Violet swam all four strokes (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly). At first she didn't seem to realize the importance of actually touching the wall - she would stall out about three feet from the end, once the water got shallow enough to stand up. But then her competitive nature kicked in and by the last heat, she hit the wall in first place! Annie also got to participate by jumping in from the diving block to one of her teachers, then "swimming" one lap across the pool. Although both kids seemed to enjoy their 47 trips to the concession stand most of all.

Parents are strongly encouraged to volunteer during meets, and by encouraged, I mean I received three or four emails/texts requesting, asking, and then straight up demanding that I sign up for a slot. I was hesitant to volunteer at first. Being our first time on swim team, I didn't even know what half the jobs were. Bullpen? Shepherd? Concessions seemed safe enough, so I spent my time making popcorn with one ear open for Violet's events to be called so I could dash up to the pool to watch. But there were plenty of other people volunteering and it was a great way to meet other families in the neighborhood. Everyone is super nice and it was cool to see how supportive everyone is of the swim team.

Annie "swimming".
Our first real meet (versus another swim team) is coming up this Thursday. Now that school is out (for kids at least... I'm heading back for two days of post-planning), the girls will have practice every morning Monday through Friday through the month of June. It sounds so time consuming, but honestly my kids are up so early, we'll be itching to get out of house by then anyway. But I might need to invest in some more beach towels!


Field Day!

Can you believe the school year is almost over?! There are only five days to go! That's right, it's the final countdown, the homestretch... we are so deep into survival mode at this point, I actually tried to make Violet drink coffee one morning just to get us to school on time!

While I contemplate survival strategies, enjoy pictures from last week's field day!

It was a beautiful day - overcast enough to keep it cool without the complication of rain.

The force is strong with this one.

Violet was very proud of the fact that the girls won tug-of-war. "Best day of my life!" she reported.

This guy even showed up to help out!

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

SunTrust Park
Regardless of your feelings towards the new Braves stadium (Why did they have to move it? Man, traffic is the worst! Who's going to drive all the way over there? The Braves are terrible!) you know we were going to jump at the chance to check things out for ourselves, especially when the tickets came free, fell on our anniversary weekend, and lined up with a babysitting offer. So off we went to the new SunTrust Park!

The park is lovely, truly. It's smaller than the old Turner Field, and it's odd not to see the downtown skyline. But for as nice as the actual stadium is, the surrounding complex is perhaps the real star of the show. There are tons of restaurants built adjacent to the stadium, places you can access without needing a ticket, which means if you don't mind paying extravagantly for parking, you have some pretty cool places to hang out and watch the game. We actually entered the stadium via the Terrapin Taphouse (fun fact - the beer is much cheaper in here than in the actual stadium, as long as you don't mind going through another metal detector - and you can go back and forth as many times as you please). 

We took these fine people along for the ride!

Happy 12 years to this handsome husband of mine!


Violet had her last Girl Scout Daisy troop meeting, in which all the girls bridged to Brownies! That's right, I'll have a Brownie next year. The girls worked hard selling cookies this year (you bought a lot, so thank you!) and they had set a motivating goal for themselves at the beginning of cookie season... Camping - no. Horseback riding - nah. Anything remotely adventurous? Not for these girls! They wanted to sell enough cookie boxes to get themselves a spa party at our local girls' salon and spa, Sweet & Sassy. And boy did they blow it out of the water!

Before heading over to Sweet & Sassy, we made a stop at our Sheriff's Department to drop off the boxes that our cookie customers had earmarked for donation. The officers were very happy to see the girls and all the cookies. We got a quick tour of a police car and everyone got to make a choice out of the prize box - Violet picked the pack of gum over the other memorabilia. Ha!

Dropping off cookies to some of Forsyth County's finest.

Then we were off to the land of shrieking girls and so. much. glitter. This is the place where I take my girls to get their haircut (mainly because the many tvs encourage them to sit still long enough to cut a straight line) but every time we're hear I get the same feeling of overstimulation. There is so much pink and feathers and glitter (and glitter is just NOT my love language). But the girls love it there!

Movie star!

And they're not even teenagers yet!

Best Daisy troop ever!

Runway show!

The party was all prepared when we arrived - seven movie star chairs decked out with feather boas and sunglasses. The girls quickly changed into their sequined costumes and were immediately whisked off to get hair up-doed, nails painted and eye shadow applied. Ooh la la! This was followed by a runway fashion show and a three-song choreographed dance party. The sweet little teenagers that run these parties - they were so sweet and energetic and took care of our girls with all the spirit and pep that only young, optimistic teenage girls have. And our girls had the best time!

We headed into the party room to eat our brownies (obviously) and give out cookie awards, badges and pins, then it was time for the limo ride in the bright pink limo. It was the perfect way to end this year's Girl Scout season. Maybe one of these days we'll try camping, but this "glamping" experience was perfect for our little stars.

Troop 16236!


Mother's Day

Ah, Mother’s Day! 

A day just for moms everywhere. Where dads try their best to take over parental responsibilities. Where mothers get to let go for at least a little bit. Where, later that day, dads sheepishly admit to their wives that, well, being a mom is hard.

We had the day planned … planned, I tell you. To start, our lovely church decided that the dads would pinch hit for the moms in kid’s ministry (normally a mom job). After church, Kristine had an afternoon with both of our mother’s all set up at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Lunch, flowers, walking, being outside, the three of them enjoying just being with each other, probably all wondering aloud how strange it is to be around such other great moms. Seriously folks, the three of them put together are like a Superhero-sized team of Mom greatness. If there were a Mom Olympics, the judges would throw out the rulebook and give each of them gold medals. Maybe two each.

Then, well, a little thing called parenting happened.

Saturday started off normal but turned in to, well, not what we planned for. I’ll spare the details, but suffice to say all that great stuff about finally relaxing during a church service, about being with nature and flowers and lunch and conversation and laughing with each other, about just being for a few hours without the kids. Yeah, none of that happened. But at least we have a really, really clean house.

But the shame of it all is that Kristine missed The. Most. Amazing. Thing.

Remember that church I told you about? They let me know Saturday that they were going to give Kristine a gift during the service. I thought “Hey, that’s really nice. The mom’s will all get a little gift during service. How sweet!” Well, nope, that didn’t happen either. Before the sermon our Pastor gave a short intro speech to the congregation about wanting to honor a specific mom for her service to the church. For her dedication to the kid’s ministry. For showing up each week happy. For working hard to make sure that other people’s kids are safe, are learning, are growing. For having the longest commute of anyone in the congregation (36 miles! One way!!). And then again for turning right around and returning to Atlanta on Sunday nights to go to small group (on a side note, she wouldn’t miss small group for the world. As she’s said time and time again – that’s her church).

Yep, that’s Kristine. I couldn’t have described her better myself. I know, I already knew all these things about her. But there is something extra special, something truly moving in watching her be honored in front of and next to all the other great moms at our church for her dedication. For her commitment. For her service. And well, for her all around awesomeness. All the things I’m privileged to see everyday. If our kids turn out to be half the woman she is, well, that's winning in the parenting department.

So, maybe it wasn’t the Mother’s Day she had in mind. Maybe the best-laid plans went to waste this weekend. But the most amazing thing happened anyway. And next week is our anniversary and we’ve already been offered baby-sitting services by, well, those other awesome mom’s Kristine was supposed to go the Botanical Gardens with.

Did I tell you how awesome the moms in my life are?

Happy Mother’s Day!

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