Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dot Day

Yesterday Claire's school celebrated International Dot Day, inspired by the book "The Dot."  I'd heard of the book a couple of months ago and checked it out from the library.  It was an instant family favorite.  Robert and I loved the message - "Just make a mark and see where it takes you."

The kids were asked to wear dots, and Robert asked Claire if she would like to make a Dot shirt.  We bought the supplies, and she picked a piece of artwork from the book that she found inspirational.
Dot Page

Claire working on the project with Daddy, and the final result! Be sure to notice the artist's signature at the bottom - "Claire L."
Dot 2

We had so much fun making a special shirt for Dot Day.  Robert and I were so proud of our girl!
Dot Day Outfit

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Will's First Day of School

Today was Will's first day of school!  (Actually Mother's Day Out, but he wants to go to "school", too.)

In the words of Will's teacher, "He had a GREAT day!"  He attended their summer program for 4 weeks in July/August, so he was familiar with the school and the teachers, but since he'd been out for 4 weeks, I wondered if he would have a little separation anxiety.  After "Meet the Teacher" last week, I had no concerns.  He ran in and started playing, and I practically had to drag him out.  Today was the same - ran in, found his favorite toys, and barely bothered to give me a kiss goodbye.  I was glad he was so happy to be there!

His school has a preschool program for 3 & 4 year olds, but it is based on their age as of September 1, so he is one of the oldest in his 2 year old class.  I knew that this would be the first MDO/preschool program for some of the kids in his room, so we talked beforehand about how some of the kids might be sad, and that since he is one of the oldest, he could be a good example and a helper for his teachers.  Ms. Kim said that he didn't have a single tear or sad moment and had a lot of fun.  We are looking forward to a great year!

Kindergarten - The First Weeks

Claire has been in Kindergarten now for two weeks, and we all love it.  It seems like she has grown and blossomed so much in such a short period of time.  We used to not get many details about her day, but she loves to tell us what she did and almost always can name at least one person she met that day.  She can list almost 2/3 of her 22 person class, which is big for a kid who a couple of weeks ago didn't care that much about learning anyone's name.  :)

She has also already picked up skills (or is deciding to show us what she could already do)!  She hasn't shown much interest in reading, so I thought she might be a late reader.  I'm realizing that she can read a lot more words than she lets on.  Now that they are working on sight words and environmental print, she shows me a lot of words that she knows.  Her artwork and drawings have been so creative, and she tells me a story to go along with almost each one.

First School Spirit Day
First Spirit Day

She likes taking her lunch and getting the hot lunch from the cafeteria.  Every week we look over the school menu and pick a couple of days for her to buy her lunch.  Will and I had lunch with her on the first Friday, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how many fresh fruit and vegetable options were provided.  The pizza and tacos that I've tried have been okay, too - better than what I remember getting when I ate at my school's cafeteria!
School Lunch

The schedule has taken some getting used to for all of us.  Claire was still napping before school started, so she is still pretty tired and either wound up or grumpy (or both) in the afternoons, so I'm trying to keep her busy and get her to bed earlier.  She has taken some awesome naps during the weekends to catch up!  Both kids are early risers, so I had rarely set an alarm clock for myself, knowing that between them and Robert getting up for work, I would be up before 7 each day.  Now that Claire needs to be up by 6:30-6:40, I've started getting up about 6 to get myself ready and gather my thoughts, and I love getting the day started early.  We try to leave the house around 7:15-7:20 to give her plenty of time to meet her class in the gym before they walk together to class and get settled by the 7:40 late bell.

For the first couple of weeks, I walked her into school.  I planned to do it for as long as she wanted.  It was a bit of a production - get both kids out of the car, walk across the school driveway, go into the office to sign in and get a name tag (there is a strict visitor policy, which I love), walk her to the gym or to her class (depending on the time), walk back out with Will (who usually had to make a dramatic scene as we left the school - the holding out his hand while looking back longingly and moaning for his sister lasted several days, although lessened in duration), get him back in the car, and drive off.  After the first week she wanted to walk in by herself, so we practiced a couple of times, letting her walk a few paces in front of Will & me to make sure she (really, "I") was comfortable with knowing where to go.

On Thursday, we both felt confident that she would be fine, so I let her off in the drop off line.  She loved having an older girl from the safety patrol help her out of the van and with putting on her backpack, and she ran off, not even looking back.  I felt another ache in my heart watching her go, but it just reminded me that there will be many moments like this as we raise her and help her develop into an adult.  Knowing when to let go is part of the process.
Drop off

(And I also quickly realized that the drop off line is significantly faster and easier for all of us!)

Claire's First Day of School

August 26, 2013 - We all woke up bright and early eagerly anticipating the big event.  We wanted to be at school early to get Claire settled in her room and take some photos - and to make sure we could find a parking place!  At Meet the Teacher, Claire's teacher suggested getting there around 7 (her school starts at 7:40), so off we went while it was still dark outside.

In front of the school

With the Pinterest-inspired "First day of school" sign

This was pretty much her expression all morning - she was SO happy and excited!

Will was showing off his school spirit (and sleepy eyes) that day!

Walking in - she spotted her classroom and took off

Showing us her cubby

A hug from her teacher

She wanted to take a photo in front of one of the SMART boards (or "Big TVs") - she remembered them from the demo at Kindergarten Round-Up in the spring and was anxious for her chance to try it out.  :)

Goodbye hug


Leaving was easier than I thought it would be.  I thought I would be a mess, but she was so excited, and that helped my happiness outweigh the sadness.  Robert left and went to work while Will and I went to a breakfast sponsored by the PTA for new Kindergarten parents where we got a little additional information and a chance to answer questions.  I was still totally fine until we walked out the front doors of the school, and Will stopped.  He turned back, held out his hand, and started to cry.  He said "My sister!  I want to see her!"  It broke my heart, and I started to tear up as I got him moving again to the car.  I opened the door, he saw his toy dinosaur and promptly forgot all about being sad.  I did, too - and took advantage of having only one kid with me to:  fill up the van with gas, go to a quick doctor appointment (for me), laminate car pick-ups signs at the office supply store, drop off/pick up books and movies at the library, and do the grocery shopping for the week.  All before lunch.  I think I may like this new schedule... ;)

Summer 2013: Sea World

There are a lot of great things about living in San Antonio - one of them is that we are so close to Sea World.  We get season passes every year, and it's so nice to not have to feel like you have to see everything in one trip.  We typically get there close to opening, visit the animals, ride one or two rides, and either see a show or visit the splash pad.  We went a few times this summer - here are a few photos from our visits.

Watching Shamu

Hoping for a close-up view of the dolphins

Seals & sea lions

Exploring with a friend

Some of the rides (Claire and I decided that was our last ride on the Big Bird ferris wheel - too slow!)
Sea World Rides

Claire and I on the Shamu Express

Splash pad fun
Splash Pad


Meeting Franklin

Cooling off with a sweet treat

Monday, September 02, 2013

Claire's First Day of School - The Preparations

The first day of Kindergarten has been a big topic of conversation around our house all summer!

Preparations began in mid-July with school supply shopping.  I planned to wait until later, but some experienced mom friends suggested that it was easier to go ahead and do it before the stores got crowded.  We got everything on the list and put it in a box in the closet, away from curious hands.

Claire and I shopped online for backpacks, and she quickly picked a pink backpack with a butterfly applique from Lands' End.  No, she did not want her name or monogram on it.  "Just the butterfly, Mommy."  I did sneak in a monogram on the matching lunch bag.  Also put away until the week before school.

Two weeks before school, we spent several days in San Diego (photos to come!), so we were in full get on a good schedule/get ready for school mode the week before the big day.  Last minute shopping, appointments, and a hair cut by Aunt Carol.

Meet the Teacher night was on Thursday (and I can't believe I didn't take any pictures!).  We got to see the classroom, drop off school supplies, meet Mrs. Bacon, sign up for the PTA, etc.  She was ready!

First Annual Back to School Dinner

I love tradition (one of the reasons I chose to be an Aggie!).  This summer as I was thinking about Claire started school, I wanted to start a tradition of a special "Back to School Dinner" the night before the first day.  We let Claire pick where she wanted to go, and she chose California Pizza Kitchen.  She also picked our outfits.  When she selected a dress for me, she said "Daddy will be so surprised!"  Guess my "mom-iform" of t-shirts and shorts has not escaped her attention.  :)  We invited my parents and my cousin Jonathan (who recently graduated from law school and moved to San Antonio to start working at the same company as Robert).

Excited girl with her daddy!

We let her pick any dessert she wanted, and she chose chocolate souffle with ice cream - that's my girl!

Will was unhappy about having to wait until after I took a picture to have his first bite.

Love them!

With Nana, Granddaddy, and Jonathan

A rare photo with all 4 of us smiling and looking at the camera.  :)