Wednesday, August 29, 2012

5, 3, 2..pre-K!

Back to school happens a bit early around here--we started on August 15th! Thankfully, my kids really love school and are happy and ready to go back.
Hannah started 5th grade...(which totally blows my mind...I REMEMBER 5th grade!)

Rachel is in 3rd grade...

Nathan is in 2nd grade....

And Aaron missed the Kindergarten cut-off date by just a few weeks, and I decided to keep him out of preschool this year, so he wasn't very happy. Its hard for him to watch his buddies go off to school. I have big plans for this year (my last year with kids at home during the school year!), including play dates, a zoo membership, and at-home preschool using Kindergarten curriculum so he will be completely ready for next year. So far, so good--he enjoys "School time", he's been good about going into child watch at the Y so I can get back into exercising, and he's had a ton of playtime.






And then, of course, they had to get silly...





After a bit of debate, Hannah decided she wanted to join 5th grade band. Last night we went to try out instruments. Hannah wanted to play the trumpet or trombone; I was rooting for the flute or clarinet. Hannah had a hard time with instruments that required blowing (we'll blame it on the braces), but fell in love with something different...something I wasn't crazy about...until we finally agreed to let her play percussion. (Or, as she calls it, the "whack-a-mole"). I'm not thrilled about it , but it will give her band experience and might even help her keep the beat while playing piano. We'll see.

Friday, August 10, 2012

5...4...3...2...





The official back to school countdown is T minus- 5 days. We start pretty early here in Indiana (but a week later than last year, when we were rushing back from the family reunion to get the kids back for school the 1st week of August). In a few ways, this has been a *special* summer.


Firstly, we made a conscious decision to stay mostly at home and have no big trips. We wanted to be cheap-o. But looking back, we still packed a lot of fun into the summer, and even ended up travelling more than we expected. We took two trips to Ohio in June, and one of those trips included another jaunt across to border into Pennsylvania to Waldameer, a fun amusement park.
 Plus, with Marc and Marcy in Tennessee now, we just had to go visit them, too. Funny how a trip across three states doesn't seem like that big of a deal compared to the thought of visiting them in Texas...Our summer-staycation also included a few trips to the zoo less than 20 minutes away, which we somehow avoided checking out for the 1st year and a half spent living here, 
plus the occasional trip back to Michigan for my birthday, frisbee, a few trips to Silver Beach, 
and Rachel's cochlear kid day-camp and speech evaluation.
Rachel and her good Michigan friend, Madison
Oh, and we squeezed in a Tin Caps game (Daddy and the kids), a few camping trips (including a backyard camping night),

a day watching go-kart races,

and a 2 day Mom-only trip to Indy for a Deaf Educator's conference (where I felt vastly out of my element and hugely motivated to get my act together). Plus, I actually hosted a girls' night here in town and Christian started a local frisbee group (Wanna come? Its Saturday morning at 8...)

Secondly, the kids are old enough now that they understand the routine for the most part. I can say "Go clean your room," and while they might whine and complain sometimes, they usually get the job done. I love feeling like it isn't quite so much Mom vs. Entropy around here...I have some allies on occasion.

On that note, I have also noticed a big change in their ability to entertain themselves. While there is still too much tv going on around here, they also are really good and playing together. I really love those rare times when all 4 kids play together without bickering. Hannah is sometimes too cool for pretend play, but every once in a while she forgets to act like a teenager. Plus, Hannah is just now starting to make some friends in the ward, which I've been praying and hoping for since moving in. Nathan and Aaron are such tight buddies that I dread back to school because I know Aaron will miss him desperately. I really worry that as they get older, especially with a bigger gap grade-wise than they are age-wise, that this may not last and I want to enjoy it while I can. I love the imagination of little boys.

Over the last year or two I've seen a huge change from previous summers--In the past, we've sort of limped through the end of summer, desperate to end the boredom by sending the kids back to school (Don't hate me--they love school). This summer, more than any other year, I could keep them around a bit longer. Back to school means expenses, busywork, and a very lonely almost 5-yr-old boy who really ought to be starting kindergarten (but he sadly has to wait another year).

With just 6 days left, we have all the school supplies we need, I've paid for their books and joined the PTO, visited their classrooms, and Hannah has already packed her backpack and decorated her binder. (I can't believe this is her last year of elementary school!) The kids are ready. I think the best way we can use of the last few days of summer is to be as blissfully lazy as possible before the madness of the school year comes back full-force.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Cake Queen

Hannah is our little chef-in-training. She can already make tasty smoothies and omelets, plus pasta and creative sandwiches. After watching nearly every episode of Cake Boss ever, she decided to try her hand at creative cake-making. For a Family Home Evening treat, she designed and decorated a cake that consisted of a brownie layer, a layer of blueberry muffin, covered in whipped frosting and decorated with fondant.

She did all the design, baking, and decorating herself, with just a bit of direction on how to use the fondant. I tried to tell talk her through the steps of frosting a cake and she said, "Mom, I know what it means to 'dirty ice' a cake. I watch Cake Boss, you know!"