Saturday, August 20, 2011

More Firsts

It's been such a crazy few weeks that I'm now working backwards to get things caught up on the family blog.  Another 'first' last week was Anna's attendance at her new dance studio.  She's danced at a small studio the past three years.  Based on the recommendation of a good friend, we moved her to a new studio - where she can take tap, ballet, and jazz all in one session.  A hour and a half session - with 30 minutes of each type of dance back-to-back - but one session nonetheless.  Which means one less day of being a slave to my kids' activities pick up and one drop off and less driving around for me.  SCORE.

And her new teacher, Ms. Shannon, rocks.  She is an amazing dancer, has an insane amount of energy, and adores the kids.  We've only been in one day of class + one birthday party where she was the teacher and Anna is already smitten.

And this studio is one step up from where she was before - required black leotards, specific shoe colors, and hair styles.  And moms aren't allowed to watch class (unless you let the teacher know in advance.)  So I peeked in the small window to snap this with my phone.  Yeah - I'm one of those moms... but after this first day of class, I promised myself I wouldn't take any more pictures.

So we're officially back to fall activities - next week after school French class starts up for Anna (thankfully that takes place at her school so no driving around), the Wednesday night programs begin in mid-September, and sometime in the next few weeks fall soccer practice will begin for James.

A lot of busyness - but I like it.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Day of First Grade

First day of first grade.

Where does the time go?

I feel like breaking out into a verse of 'Sunrise, Sunset' from Fiddler ... but I'll spare you (and my colleagues who are within ear shot.)

Off to FLE - new uniform, new shoes, new backpack,
new hair bow that won't stay in place.

Disney Princess Pink Backpack
(of course)

Anna's awesome new teacher Ms. Duke.
I already triple-heart her.

Friends, new and old.

Back to School night - and the thrill of dropping off school supplies,
seeing friends after a summer of fun, and wearing a 'Tangled' t-shirt - instead
of the required uniforms.

We Love Ms. Duke!

Mr. "Me Too"
Off to his pre-school class with new Elmo backpack.
Such a ham!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Six Years

Donald Lyle Hein
July 18, 1944 - August 12, 2008

It's been six years... six years since I saw your sparkling blue eyes.
Since I felt your warm daddy bear hug.
Since I heard your voice.  A voice I'm starting to forget.
Since I felt your moustache tickle my face when you kissed my cheek.
Since I smelled your daddy-smell - a combination of Old Spice, the outdoors, and bourbon.
Since I held your hand.

Oh Daddy....

I miss you terribly.

I thought that as time went on - this day - this passage of time - would somehow get easier.  I suppose it does - I'm not completely crippled like I was a few years ago.  I'm able to smile through the tears when I think of you and the memories that comprise my childhood.

But I'd be lying if I said this day didn't completely derail me.

I wish you were here - to see your grandsons and their huge smiles.  To see how they engulf life - and enjoy every moment out of it - just like you did.  So you could see how each child has a bit of you in them - Jack with his love of music and need to stop whatever he's doing at whatever moment in time if he feels the 'beat' and needs to dance.  James with his non-stop giggles and smiles and complete ease with strangers - talking to anyone and everyone who will listen - charming them to no end.  Anna with her never-ending imagination, and adoration of the sea.

It's just so unfair.  I hate that you had to leave so soon.  I hate that these kids are growing up without knowing you - without having had the chance to curl up on your lap and listen to the great classical overtures with you - without knowing the comfort of your Old Spice/outdoor daddy smell - without feeling your moustache scratch their tender cheeks when you would have kissed them goodnight.

And I hate it for selfish reasons - I want you here - to help me figure out what to do with my daughter - who I think is a lot like I was as a child - often lost in the imaginary world ... so I want your perspective of what it was like to raise me.

I just want you here.

I miss you.

I love you.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Sweet Sweet James

James obliged for a photo with me during his class field trip this morning to Krispy Kreme.  And that's no small feat - considering he's just scarfed down a 'hot' doughnut that was completely sticky with icing.

A fun and sweet memory with my first boy.

The Cup (Or, How I Proved Once Again Just How Much Of A Dumba$$ I Am)

So we're heading on vacation in a few days.  A real vacation - somewhere very far away - our nation's capitol to be exact.  Which means that we're either stupid or insane to pile three kids age six and under in one mini-van for approximately eight hours (yeah, who are they kidding on the time estimates?) to make the journey.  I'm fully anticipating lots of complaining, bickering, whining, kicking of seats, and probably some screaming as we make our way north.

And in anticipation of said journey, I felt we needed to get our van checked out.  It was due for service, the low tire pressure icon was illuminated on the dashboard, and it had been making this strange popping noise for the better part of about three months.

It was the random popping noise that concerned me the most.  I mean, I didn't want to be half-way to Virginia and have the engine fall out in the middle of the highway - would you?  So we made the appointment, dropped the Odyssey off at the Honda dealer (it's still under warranty at right at two years old) and waited what I was sure would be dire news.

Deonne checked with the service manager around 4:00 - and surprise!  Everything is fine!  Your van will be ready today by 5:30 sir.  Really?!?  What about that weird popping noise?  It should come as no surprise that Deonne neglected to ask about this - so I made him call back to inquire/ensure that the problem had been resolved.  He called me back shortly thereafter - saying something about tightening-things-down and lubricating and torque and a bunch of other terms I don't understand.  Said that after the technician did all of these things, he drove the van around and couldn't reproduce the noise so all is well.

Fine.  Great!  Then let's go get the van!  So we do.  Pay our bill.  And no sooner do I get behind the wheel and up the slope in the parking lot to the adjacent road then I hear the popping sound.  Again.

PERFECT.  Well it's approaching 6pm now - we have to hungry boys in tow - and no time to deal with the issue.  So Deonne calls back - talks again to the service manager - who says to bring it back first thing in the morning so I can drive around with the service technician and show him what I'm hearing.

Fine.  The dealer is only about 30 minutes out of my way - but fine.  I'll play along.  

So the next morning I head over to Lexington.  AGAIN.  Arrive and speak to the very kind service manager - who connects me to the overall service DEPARTMENT manager.  He gets in the van - and we drive off.  Immediately, the popping noise.  SEE.  I'm NOT crazy - THERE IT IS.  He has a puzzled look - says - keep driving.  So we do.  All around the frontage roads between the dealer and the interstate.  The popping/metallic banging noise occurring all the while - but really happening when you take your foot of the gas and decelerate.

So he has me get out of the car so he can drive.  We drive around some more.  He hears it.  He can easily reproduce it.

And I'm happily sitting there thinking 'great - at least SOMEONE can hear this - I'm not the crazy lady who fabricates noises.'

Then.  And THEN.  He stops the van.  Says, 'I think I know what it is.'  Opens the passenger doors.  Sticks his hands under the rear middle seat.  And pulls out THE CUP.

The cup that's been missing for about three months or so.

I said 'no way - that can't be what's causing it - can it' totally feeling like an idiot right now.. and thinking there is NO WAY that could be the problem - Deonne and I dug out the crap the kids accumulated under there weeks ago.  To which he bangs the cup against the metal framing that holds the seat to the floor of the van.

Um... yep.  That would be the sound I've been hearing.  For the past three months.  Every time I've decelerated - and sometimes accelerated - the cup has rolled back and forth against a metal bar.  Pinging and popping with each movement.


I asked him 'how much will that diagnostic test set me back?'  He kindly smiled and said 'we appreciate your business - no charge ma'am.'  I replied 'well, I'm sure my stupidity will be appropriate fodder for the service guys for quite some time.'

Yep.  I had the service department manager drive around for about a half an hour to diagnose an extremely rare vehicle ailment. 

A lost sippy cup.

Oh, parenting is humbling, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dog Days Of Summer

We're winding down the summer over here.  That diddy my parents used to torture me with come the end of summer keeps playing over and over and my mind 'time for pencils, time for books...' or something like that.  So we've been completing our back to school shopping, complete with new backpacks, pencils, notebooks, crayons, oh - you name it.

Anna helped me fulfill her back to school shopping list the other day.  It was fun to wander around the Back To School section of Target, collecting needed items, this time with Anna reading us the laundry list of supplies, including quantity and brand.  And kind of funny to see her so particular - when we couldn't find the exact brand of pre-sharpened pencils - I opted for another good brand.  'But that is not what it says Mommy!'  Funny to me to see her be so black and white and such a rule follower.

James is starting a new pre-school mid-August.  It was a big decision for us - to move him from the University setting where our children have been since birth - that we've been a part of for the better part of seven years.  But the Center is taking a different direction that we don't feel comfortable with - the founding beliefs we agreed with for child care are changing - and it was time to move on.  (That and the ever-increasing tuition coupled with the ridiculous number of days the Center is closed made it a no-brainer.)

So he starts at a local church pre-school that comes highly recommended.  In fact, so highly recommended that the wait list is typically years long. When we put his name on the list late last spring, I had little to no hope he would ever get in.  The fact that he was accepted for the fall term leads me to believe this was the right decision - the stars must be aligning somewhere for us.

He's very excited to meet new friends, play with new toys, see the new PLAYGROUND.  I'm excited to have him in a Christian setting - where he'll say a proper blessing before meals, attend chapel once a week, and have the chapel story incorporated throughout his week in books and crafts.  That is one thing that has always been missing from the academic-heavy setting our children have been in.

Of course Jack is on the list as well - but there are no two-year old spaces right now.  His age waiting list is also typically very long - but thanks to James getting into the 4-year old class - he's now at the top of the 2's waiting list as a priority sibling.  I've got fingers and toes crossed that he can make the move soon.  Come August 22 when James starts at the church - we'll have three drop-offs and three pick-ups.  Grant me patience now... the loading and buckling and unloading and unbuckling and piddling to show Mommy everything and playing in each older siblings class is sure to be a long process. 

But we'll make it.  And it will be all worth it in the end.