Friday, August 28, 2009

Family Photos

We finally got around to having some family photos taken recently. I discovered a family friend was starting her own business. If you are in the St. Louis area, I highly recommend Danyll Epps.
We lucked out with a gorgeous summer day (always risky with our hot and humid summer weather) and a beautiful setting. I stressed over what we'd all wear and almost went matchy-matchy until Danyll said to wear something that looked like it went together but stay away from matchy-matchy. Matchy-matchy was out and I put together new outfits....quickly.
This is one of my favs of Carson. Let's be honest, it's hard to get a good picture of a pre-teen boy. They are just awkward at tines. But, she took him off on his own and he really had a good time with it.
And there are about a bazillion good ones of Elise (so many it was hard to order). But I just love this one. She lost her top front tooth the very next day. I'm so glad we captured this little girl look. She looks older missing her top front teeth now.
Danyll had some fun and creative picture ideas. There are so many that capture the fun times of the day. Thanks, Danyll, for some great pictures!

Monday, August 24, 2009

More Hummingbirds

OK, so you might start to think I'm a bit obsessed myself with these hummingbirds. I'm always amazed at how many we get. I'd love to see a nest.

I love sitting on our front porch and just watching these creatures. It's my newest form of relaxation.

School is off to a good start for both kids. They both like their teachers. We go for orientation this week and will learn more about the teachers and their expectations.

The semester finally started for me and it's been crazy busy but I just love this time of year. I love the excitement of a new school year. I love the anticipation of the year to come. I love getting to know a new group of students. It's an affirmation that I'm in the right career.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First day of school

School started yesterday! Phew...I felt like I ran a half marathon just getting my kids to school the first day!
Carson is going into 5th grade and, in our district, this is his last year in elementary school. He's now in the oldest grade in his school building (3-5 grades). On the first day of school, I gave the kids the option of driving them or letting them take the bus. Elise decided to take the bus while Carson wanted me to drive him. Then he asked if I'd take him to the donut place before school. No problem. Then he asked if he could bring a friend. No problem. Then he asked if he could bring another friend. Yikes! So, after getting Elise on the bus and gathering up his friends, we headed to the donut place for a pre-school treat. I wanted to take pictures but was told in no uncertain terms that NO PICTURES WERE ALLOWED. The above picture is all I get this year.

Elise is now in 2nd grade! Her school is K-2 but she did pre-K in the same building, so this is her 4th year in the same building and she's feeling pretty comfy. I love her school and it makes me a little sad that she moves up the to the bigger kid (Carson's) school next year.

She got a little nervous the morning of school and decided she wanted me there...but she also wanted to ride the bus and did not want to go for donuts with the boys. So, I had to sprint around town and get back to her school in time for their morning opening. Her school was not built for the current enrollment and the parking S.T.I.N.K.S. So, I ended up parking about a mile away and hiking her supplies in. Phew, I was exhausted by the time school started for the day! You can tell she's pulled into her shell in the above picture.
Yeah, a little smile! She's starting to get into her groove. She's waving to a few friends and keeping a close eye on me.

And off she goes to her 2nd grade classroom. Every year, she's clung to me and gotten teary when it came to time to say good bye to the parents. Not this year, she just picked up her bag of supplies, lined up and headed out to her classroom. She's so excited about her teacher this year even though none of her BFF's are in the same class.
I do admit to getting a bit teary eyed when I realized this was my last "first" day of school at this school.
Here's hoping for a good school year for all the kids and teachers!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Last Day of Summer

Today was the last day of summer break for my kiddos. I have pictures of the preparations but I'm on my laptop and am too pooped to walk upstairs. The kids each have their supplies packed and ready. New outfits are picked out and ready to be worn.

Tomorrow, I leave my kids in the hands of their new teachers and pray for a good year for each of them.

The summer has been good. The kids have had a good break. We've enjoyed some good family time. We're all renewed and ready to start a new school yar.

Elise started each and every day of the summer by asking "Can I invite a friend over today?" We're so blessed that she has such a good circle of little girls and we're enjoying getting to know their families. None of Elise's really close friends are in her class this coming year, but she was assigned to the teacher she's wanted since kindergarten. Mr. E was Carson's teacher in 1st grade (Mr. E has since moved up to 2nd grade) and he's an excellent teacher. We're thrilled to have another school year with him.

Carson is starting the school year with another new teacher. His teacher taught at one of the middle schools in the district for a few years before moving to 5th grade this year. I can't believe my son goes to middle school next year...yikes! I think it'll be a good thing to have a teacher with such fresh middle school experience to help prepare the class for the expectations of the coming years. Some good friends from his soccer team are in his class this coming year.

We're looking forward to the new experiences and opportunities that will come this year for each child.

Monday, August 10, 2009

GIRL Power!

Elise has lots of boy cousins. All boy cousins on my side of the family, in fact. Except for one girl who is a 2nd cousin (and lots more boy 2nd cousins). So, she was very excited about a visit from her 2 GIRL cousins from Chicago. Since they are so much older, she wasn't sure what to expect.

She had a BLAST! Who knew two college age cousins would enjoy so many of the same things as Elise! :)

We had a great visit with Perry's sister and her 2 daughters. Aren't they beautiful?!? Stephanie (in the blue) and Jennifer (in the pink) were 2 and 4 when I first met Perry. I can't believe Jennifer can now legally drink alcohol!!! (Which I'm sure she doesn't do, but she's old enough!)

We packed a lot of fun into one HOT weekend. They wanted to go up to the top of the St. Louis Arch. My kids wanted to go up, too. (Yes, we did take along an extra friend for Carson...that's not some random kid we had pose with our group.)

This is the view from the top of the Arch....see those little benches at the base of the Arch...that's where I waited. Once you've been up in the Arch, there is no reason to go back up. At least not as far as I'm concerned.

Here's the crew getting ready to cram their bodies into small capsules to slllooowwwllly lift them to the top of the Arch. Packed in like sardines. Enclosed cages that travel up the leg of the Arch. Not for someone who doesn't like small, confined spaces (did I mention I waited OUTside?!?)

And after successfully making it to the top, you get to look out these teeny-tiny windows at the top. Now, really, who didn't think to make BIGGER windows at the top?!?

After the excitement of the Arch, we wandered by the riverfront of the Mississippi River for a bit.
I love this picture of Elise wandering the shore.

The kids completed the weekend by playing soccer...

...and lots of swimming....

...and jumping! And tons and tons of cousin fun!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Elise and her Chinese Bling...

Elise goes to Chinese lessons every Sunday afternoon. One of our neighbors is Chinese and very graciously asked if Elise would like to join the lessons she was starting with her own children. Elise LOVES it.

Before today's lesson, she wanted me to get out the "Chinese bracelets" that she got when she was a baby. I never let her wear these out and about for fear of her losing them. But, I decided it was OK today. I dropped her off for her lesson and she very proudly showed her teacher. Makes me wish I had picked up more of these trinkets when we were in China.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grandma! You are missed!

Today is my Grandma's birthday. She's been gone 4-1/2 months now and still deeply missed. There are so many times I started a letter to her with a cute kid story...only to remember she was no longer with us in person.

My aunt went through old slides of my grandparents and digitized them. What a wonderful treasure...THANK YOU Aunt Carol!

I'd never seen this picture of my grandmother before. She grew up in a world that I often thought was so old fashioned but I now realize was so rich in history.

She grew up in a large family in West Virginia. I believe she's the little girl in the front row in the plaid skirt. She was the youngest daughter with 9 siblings.

She met her husband when he was in her hometown working as an engineer on the Bluestone Dam. They had a 50 year marriage!

She had a great laugh! That's my Aunt Carol behind her. :)

Next to God, family was the most important thing in her life.

She loved it as her family grew. My sister is the baby on Grandma's lap and I'm the little girl in front. I think I was jealous that Kristin got to sit on Grandma's lap!

Here she is at my parent's wedding. My dad's parents had both died by this point and my grandmother took my dad in as her own. They had such a great mother-in-law/son-in-law relationship. And, wasn't my mom a beautiful bride?

Holding me! :)

My grandmother made so many outfits for us when we were little. I'm in the yellow dress and Kristin is in the blue. Kristin went through a phase where she would LITERALLY look UP when someone said "Look up for the picture!" Isn't she cute!?

And a little less cute with those 80's hair and XXXL sweaters! Grandma lived with my parents for years after I graduated from college. I loved coming home to not just my parents, but my grandmother was well. She took such good care of packages at college, our favorites foods when we came home to visit, always a craft project on which she wanted our help. And see Eric poking his there in back. He was her ONLY grandson. And did she ever dote on him. She lived with my family during his teenage years and they had an amazingly special relationship. The only time I've ever seen him cry was at her funeral when he got up to talk about his special grandmother.

This is my favorite picture of my grandparents. This is how they look in my mind. A few years after this picture was taken, my grandfather got sick and his health went downhill for 8 years. My grandmother had a tough road during those years as she struggled to keep him at home and maintain his care.

And speaking of my grandfather, I just love this picture! (Yup, me again!) My grandfather was so insanely smart that he could have been very intimidating. He taught college phyics in his spare time and was an electrical engineer at GE working on the first generation of color TV. I was smart enough to never even TAKE college physics! :)

This is my mom's graduation from Wheaton College. My grandmother watched 2 of her kids and 3 of her grandkids graduate from this same college. I believe the story was that she wanted to go to college but her father saw no need to educate girls beyond high school. Education was very important to her and she was so very proud of all the various degrees her kids and grandkids earned.

And how could I mention my grandma without thinking of SNOW....lots and lots and lots of SNOW!

Christmas was her favorite time of year. I still have this dollhouse in my house. It's now 30 years old (gulp!) and in pretty rough shape, but I can't bear to part with it! My grandparents put it together by hand and I remember my grandmother's willingness to get down on the floor and play with us. Christmas was a magical time with emormous amounts of food, gifts and laughter.
Thanks, Carol, for unearthing these awesome pictures!!! What a great walk down memory lane! My grandmother is missed but my faith tells me I will see her again. Our family is so fortunate to have had such a strong foundation.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The lucky find...

The other day, while sitting on my front porch and watching hummingbirds fight over the feeder, I decided we really needed to get a 2nd hummingbird feeder. We'll often have 20 hummers fighting for one of 8 holes on our current feeder.

Also while sitting on the porch, with 2 chairs propped together so I could lazily read a book, I commented to Perry that a wicker loveseat would be the perfect addition.

Imagne my delight when I found this loveseat right by the hummingbird feeders at our local wallyworld?!? And better yet, it was marked down 50% AND they were willing to give me an additional 10% because they only had the floor model remaining. How lucky could I be...finding exactly what I wanted when I wanted it at a price I was willing to pay?!?

And better yet, it was a set that included these 2 chairs and the table between them (hiding behind the overgrown bush). Again, for a price I was willing to pay (read: cheap! Perry and I had just had our monthly "frugal" talk.)

The front porch has been pretty blah and I think this set really adds some color and some great reading places.

And we now have much comfier hummingbird watching chairs.

Or horse-cornfield-deer watching chairs...whatever your pleasure.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tooth Fairy

After several weeks of tugging, twisting and pulling, Elise finally lost her two front teeth.

She was worried she'd be the only 2nd grader who hadn't lost their top teeth. And man, she worked those toothies. To the point of making her mom come close to fainting several times. Phew, glad that drama is over for now. As I recall, from here on out teeth just pop out at random intervals but the tooth race is mostly over.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The difference between men and boys.... the price of their shoes. Ouch.

Carson's now officially in men's shoe sizes and the prices just about doubled. Sadly, I couldn't convince him to curl up his toes for a few more months in his old shoes (just kidding!). And even more sadly, this new pair will probably only fit for a matter of weeks the way this child is growing.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I always tease my husband during the summer that he has a harem. A harem of hummingbirds! He is so conscientious to keep the hummingbird feeder full. (Please ignore the mold buildup, he cleans that out every time we fill it.)

There are times we have upwards of 20 hummingbirds fighting for a spot at the feeder. And if I make the mistake of standing in front of it talking to someone for too long, they will start to dive bomb me until I move along.

I sat out on the porch yesterday afternoon reading (it was BEAUTIFUL day!) and kept my camera close by.
Can you see the one hiding in the tree?

Here he/she is!

We do have some jeweled colored hummingbirds but the only ones poising for pictures were the plainer variety.

Perry loved this picture as you see all the tiny bones in this bird's wing.

Eventually the hummingbirds caught on to my picture-taking and stayed away when the camera was out. So, I took a picture of my neighbor's horse.
Needless to say, I didn't get much reading done.