The Night Before Kindergarten

I have been meaning to write this for a couple weeks, but I have been busy and honestly, overwhelmed with emotion.  It is not all sad by any means - just draining.
This is something we have been planning, praying over, anticipating for a long time now.  James and I both put a lot of thought into the school we chose for the kids.  We did not take that decision lightly.  The school is chosen, supplies are purchased and organized, new clothes are ready for the week.  Our girl is starting kindergarten. 
In one of my favorite blogs, this family has a tradition of a back to school dinner sometime before school starts with a theme for the year (usually based on Scripture).  I have loved the idea for so long, and I knew that this is one tradition that I wanted to begin with my family.  So... we held our first annual back to school dinner.  
This is our theme for the year. 

Ava got a special crown for the dinner with pictures of some of her favorites and the theme for the year.  Our menu included:
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Cheesy Potatoes (Ava's favorite)
Green Bean Bundles
Sourdough Rolls
Homemade Chocolate Cake

I wrote this letter for Ava in a special place, but I wanted to share here.  This is the best way I can put into words this new kindergarten experience--

Dear Ava,
There is a lot going through my head right now.  I am so excited for you.  I know the possibilities for you - discovering your passions, making lifelong friends, learning, reading, growing.  But I can't help but think too how much I am going to miss you.  I think of not being there if you are scared or if someone says something to hurt you.  I want to protect you just like I have done for the last five years.  I think that is being a mother - loving you so much it physically hurts.
But I want you to know that even though I am not there with you, I am with you.  I will at the front of the pick-up line waiting to hear your stories.  I will be at every assembly, game, play clapping my hardest for you.  I will always be your biggest cheerleader.

I know that you are a little nervous about starting school, but I want you to know that I know more than anything that you are going to soar. The best parts of my character have come from when I have stepped out on my own even though I was scared and learned that I am strong and capable. You will do that this year.
Ava - the possibilities are endless for you.  I can't wait to see what my creative, artistic, party-planning girl can do to that kindergarten classroom.  I can't wait to hear about all the shenanigans on the playground.  And I can't wait to hear about everything you are learning.  I loved school, and you are so much like me I know you are going to love it too.
Spread your wings girl  and show us all how it is done!

Summer Recap 2

Our summer wouldn't be complete without trips to the lake.  That is one thing that we ALL love.  The kids love to have our undivided attention - we are not on the phone, computer, etc.  And James and I love the break it gives us from everyday life.  We have so many wonderful memories there - and hopefully many more.
Our first trip to the lake this summer.  I was trying to get a picture of the three kids, and James happened to be walking by and stuck his head in this one :)

First of many boat rides.  He was such a good sport.

The big kids had swim lessons again this year with the same teacher, Mrs. Lynn.  They did great.  Ava is swimming unassisted throughtout the pool - even the deep end.  She is also learning to dive.  I have decided that she is SO much braver than me at her age.  Sam is now swimming in the shallow end with no floaties.  That is a huge accomplishment for him, and I am so happy to see him having fun in the water.

This girl spent half of the swim lesson huddled in a towel.  It could be 100 degrees outside, and she will be cold in the water!

We took a quick trip to the lake for the 4th of July and invited our very good friends, the Potts family to join us.  They have 4 precious kids and we all have so much fun with them.  
Headed down to the boat
You know when you see a picture that really captures personalities - this one does it!

Sweet girlfriends - Ava and Blakeley

Best buddies - Brooks and Sam

Isn't he a cutie!!  Love those blue eyes and that sweet smile

We held our first annual Piraino Olympics.  The kids and I worked all week to decorate, make medals, create activities for this little party.  
Our Olympic sports included:
Relay through the backyard
Fencing with pool noodles
Balance beam (on the garden ledge)
Bicycle races
Diving competition
It rained some that morning, so we couldn't compete in every contest.  But the kids had a blast, and James and I have talked about making this an annual event  (on a much bigger scale).

One of my favorite days this summer was my birthday.  I don't have any pictures to share though.  I think sometimes it is fun to not worry about taking pictures and just soak in a day.  That is exactly what I did. Erica's family met us at the lake - not for my birthday just because it was a week that worked for everyone.  We just took it easy in the morning; she has teenagers that sleep late!  And we went on the boat all afternoon watching Erica's kids, James, and Tony try to ski.  It was just a fun day and a great memory. 

More posts to come soon about our exciting kindergarten adventures.  I will write as soon as I can get through without tears. 

Summer Recap 1

How do you fit a whole summer into a couple paragraphs?  First of all, this was a hectic summer, but it was also Ava's last summer before school.  So.. my goal was to be a "yes mom" this summer and create a lot of memories for these kids.  That is definitely easier said than done.

We made several trips to the lake with family and friends, swam a lot, made picnic lunches when it wasn't 110 degrees outside, and just had a lot of family time.

Here are a couple snapshots of our summer--

My little man

Sam participated in TOTS (a little basketball program) all year and had a little performance for the parents.  He was beyond excited about this trophy and still tells everyone it is real gold.  Miss priss Ava HAD to wear her cheerleader outfit to cheer him on since she had been deprived of this opportunity at every other event.

Ava had her 2nd dance recital.  I was the backstage mom this time - and let me say that is a very eye-opening experience!  These girls worked hard made us all so proud.  In our first dance we were world travelers, each representing a country.

Next we were Little Bo Peep. 

It has been fun (and a little wild) watching this boy grow this summer.  We call him "Jack attack" because he does not slow down..ever.  I wanted some baby time - you know rocking and snuggling.  This boy has a different idea.  He was crawling at 5 months and has no time to
sit still for this tired mama.

I couldn't help it.  As I was going through my pictures I stumbled upon this little number. A lot of times I find some random pictures on my camera, but this one really cracked me up.  (And I know that Ava lifted her skirt for this - she is just that kind of girl).

We had a lot of swim time.  It was so hot this summer that we just couldn't do much else.  It is way too convenient in the backyard--

Love Jack's face--

More on our summer coming soon!