Friday, June 10, 2016

3rd and K

 It's been an eventful school year, and it's flown by quickly. After 6 years, this was my final year home schooling either of my children. Next year, my sweet Miss V will head to school for 1st grade. It's a bittersweet kind of joy, you know? She's very ready to go, but it's been so wonderful to have her with me through pre-school and Kindergarten. I've been able to teach her to read and write, add and subtract, I've been party to her gorgeous, curious mind and her hilarious sense of humor. I will miss my little shadow next year, but I'm so thrilled to know that she's excited and READY for her big adventures. The J-bird finished up his first year at public school. It was a big, unexpected transition for him, and there were some ups and downs. He made some good friends, and he loved his 3rd grade teacher, who was just wonderful. Along with his peers, he dealt with standardized tests that took weeks to administer, kids who pick on other kids for no good reason, and - a first for the J-bird - learning to assimilate in a class with a large number of students who all need the same amount of attention he'd like to have. I'm so proud of the young man he is becoming both in and out of school.

Miss V grew two full inches this year! She got her first pair of glasses, which are helping her so much with her reading. She can tell you anything you want to know about most animals (even though she's still a little skittish around dogs and bugs), she is curious and extremely verbal with a giant vocabulary and a busy mind. She loves to swim! She is sensitive and funny and loud, and she digs anything to do with rainbows and unicorns.

The J-bird grew almost an inch this year. He started orthodontia last August, and it is making a huge difference for him. He should finish "Phase 1" early this Fall. He continues to love math and reading and science. We finally had to give him an old Kindle to use part of the time, because he swallows books faster than we can provide them. He participated in Coding Club and the Mad Science Club at school this year and really enjoyed both. The J-bird loves Minecraft and LEGO and drawing and playing with his buddies. He joined the Cub Scouts this year and really found his niche there. Typically 9, he feels things deeply, and his social world is all new now, but we're lucky - he's a talker (so far).

So now, we're on to the adventures of summer with a newly minted 4th grader and a very excited 1st grader. Off we go!

Friday, May 27, 2016

She Can See Clearly Now

 As my sweet Miss V has been learning to read, I noticed that, like her brother before her, she's been straining to see the words and holding the pages close to her face. I put it off for a while, but since James and I both wear glasses, along with the J-bird and countless other relatives, I thought an eye exam might be in order. We have a wonderful optometrist we see in our town, and he confirmed that our darling is, indeed in need of glasses. No surprise. It's a little bit of a bummer, because keeping a kiddo in glasses is a giant pain, but I'm so thrilled that as of today, my sweetheart can see a LOT better!

As an added comfort, our optometrist was able to tell me that there is no residual damage from the hemangioma that was removed from Miss V's eye lid and socket when she was an infant. That was so nice to hear.

She took her time choosing her favorite frames, and we picked up her glasses today.

Just look at that precious face!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sister Time!

 I grew up in the great state of Kansas with four siblings - three sisters and one brother. We are mostly pretty spread out in age, and I am the oldest. My three sisters are all quite a bit younger than I am, so they've done a good bit of their growing up since I got married and moved away. We stay in touch, of course, and I love them fiercely, but when we get a chance to visit, we visit HARD. This weekend, two of my sisters came to Oregon to stay for five days, and we had so much fun! We showed them some of our favorite places, I took them into Portland for a hilarious show, they met a few of my closest friends, we spent lots of quality time with the kids. It was really wonderful - lots of laughing and talking and silliness and some nice relaxing in there as well. Perfect.

Emma and Olivia, come back soon!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Today, She's 6

 Six years ago, our little sunshine-sister joined the family. Miss V made us a complete set. She's funny, tender hearted, sweet, hilarious, loud, strong, brave, kind, generous, loyal, clever, creative, and fun to be around. And now, she's six.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Week With The Mouse

We spent last week partying with the Mouse, the Big Cheese, the King of Disney Fun at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. James and I spent some time there ten years (and two kids and about 150 pounds between the two of us - we've lost a little weight since then) ago, and we've always hoped to take our kids there, once they were old enough to hoss their own freight and not need to be pushed in strollers. We figured taking them during the summer was a terrible idea, because of crowds and Florida heat, so we talked to the J-bird's teacher, who said she didn't mind his missing 5 days of school, and we went for the February date. It was a non-stop 7 days of fun and walking and waiting and fun and rides and walking and fun. My feet will never be the same. The kids had an absolute blast, and watching them experience the utter wonder of it was fantastic.

Brace yourself, this is a long post.

It took two long flights to get there...

We decided to go to Magic Kingdom on our first day. Like ya do. Magic Kingdom is my favorite of all the parks, and we spent three full days there.

We decided to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean first, for sentimental reasons.

We rode Thunder Mountain Railroad second. This became a family favorite, and I think we ended up riding it something like 5 or 6 times.


Sometimes, one is overcome by the need to dance.

We got to eat at some pretty cool places, like Be Our Guest in Belle's Castle.

 Our children. Expert photo ruiners.

We weren't sure how the kids would do on the rides, and we were prepared to do child swaps or just ride slow rides or whatever they were up for. That ended up being unnecessary, because they wanted to ride EVERYTHING. We started calling Miss V "The Maniac" and the J-bird "The Daredevil", because they didn't want to see shows or sit and rest or go take naps - they wanted rides, rides, RIDES.

We visited all of the parks, of course. Everyone enjoyed Epcot, and the kids were charmed by "the big golf ball".

Their favorite ride in Epcot was Test Track, which we rode twice. You get to design and then "test" your own car. Pretty fun.

Hollywood Studios was also fun, though it's in some transition. We rode the rides they have available and the kids were into the Star Wars stuff.

And then, there was the day we took a short Disney break to go over to Universal Studios to visit ol' Harry Potter.

Wand fight!


I cannot resist this little face. I just can't.

The train. He was so excited :)

There are a few other things to do at Universal, but....I mean...Harry Potter.

Animal Kingdom is wonderful. We really enjoyed this park.

The safari ride is the one and only ride on which James and I got to sit next to each other.

We saw a very cool Lion King show. It was great, and it was also a great opportunity to rest my screaming feet. Here's a tip from me to you: if you go to a theme park for an extended stay and you buy insoles for you shoes, test them out first. I bought the wrong ones, and it felt like I was walking on concrete for the first five days. I thought it was my shoes, until I took the stupid things out. Then, I felt like a total maroon.

Inside the Tree of Life, in the middle of the park, there's an "It's Tough To Be A Bug" show that's very fun.

Back in Magic Kingdom, we had reserved a spot for Miss V at the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique. She was a little unsure about it. She's never liked playing with makeup, and she was worried the "fairy godmother" would pull her hair. I told her she didn't have to have the makeup if she didn't want, and that I was pretty sure these people were not in the hair pulling business, but I conditioned her hair really well that morning, and we took along the dress she'd picked out. She ended up absolutely enchanted with the entire experience. The woman who was her "fairy godmother" was super gentle with her hair, and she wove this whole tale about how the glitter was really fairy dust from Tinkerbell (Miss V asked how she got it then, since fairies won't come around people), and the makeup was rose-petal dust. Stuff like that. By the time she turned the chair around and showed Miss V her final look, that little girl was just utterly delighted.

That evening, we took a thrilled Miss V (and a less thrilled J-bird) to supper at Cinderella's Castle

Does this not look like the worst prom date of all time?

In addition to meeting Cinderella, she got to meet several other princesses, which was charming and lovely. Her dad was preeeeetty excited to get to be up in the actual castle in the middle of Disney World, and her brother...well....he tolerated it. Also, they gave him a sword. So that was cool.

(V was fascinated by the bare belly on Jasmine)

Making a wish.

We did not only meet princesses in WDW. We met a LOT of characters. Some more than once. The delight never waned, and I was completely charmed by the fact that even the J-bird, who is almost 9, was over-the-moon excited to meet Mickey, Donald, and Goofy. He did, however, make barf sounds about the princesses. *sigh*

(This is my favorite photo of her with a princess)

(It reminds me of this one, from Disneyland three years ago)
(the kid just gives good side-eye)

You would never know how excited Miss V was to meet Mary Poppins, by the look on her face. She was jumping out her chair until she actually showed up, and then she got all nervous.

See? There it is.

Miss V got to go to the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique, and the J-bird got to join the Pirates League.

First, they figured out his pirate name (Nate Seagull)

 Then he got his tattoo

Then he got his facial hair

After that, he swore the Pirate Oath

Too cute!

We also went on an evening Pirates and Pals fireworks cruise. It was really fun, even though it rained. The J-bird was picked to be the "first mate" in our crew, so he got to carry the flag out to the boat and a few other things. He was thrilled, to say the least.

Disney World is a magical place - it really is, and we had a wonderful time. I mean, there are some realities about any theme park:  no matter what, somewhere, you will hear someone crying (I saw a little boy, maybe four years old, full-on punching his father in the face while screaming "GRANDMAAAAA!!!" at one point. Overstimulation and exhaustion are rough.) Your feet will hurt. Your kids will probably whine, and you'll want to snap at them. You'll spend more than you intended. You'll get irrationally irritated at all the double wide strollers and scooters (not kidding - an Italian man on a scooter ran over my daughter, who was RIGHT NEXT TO ME, trapping her ankle under his Jazzy for about five seconds until we lifted him off. It was terrifying. Luckily for him, she was completely fine, or I might have gone to Disney jail. Anyway, watch your babes, because other folks aren't always watching where they are going). And yes, I know it's irrational. Strollers and scooters are necessary and have every right to be there, but you'll get to a point where EVERYTHING IS IRRITATING. Other people will be irritated with you, too. You'll be mad about the lines. You'll wonder what you were thinking, maybe....

And then, this will happen:

And your kids' eyes will fill with wonder, and you'll buy a Mickey-shaped ice cream treat and go on Splash Mountain and feel like a million bucks.

So it was a mountain-top week of family bonding and love and fun (and walking and hurty feet).

But we reached the end at last, and we were tired.

And it was time to go home. So home we headed on two more flights.

And now it's back to life, back to reality.

Thank you, Disney World. You were wonderful

If, after all of that, you are interested, here's a link to the amazing video James made of our trip:

Also, if you are interested in visiting Walt Disney World and want some help planning, I highly encourage you to contact the woman who helped us plan our trip. Her name is Deanna Burdsall, and she was fantastic. There's no way we could've gotten all the the reservations we did without her.  She saved us a ton of money at no charge to us.