Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fourteen...and a Freshman!

Over the weekend, Olivia turned 14. FOURTEEN!!! When did I get old enough to have a daughter that old?

We celebrated with a low-key party at home with some of her best friends.

Her church leader came and decorated her room while we were out, it was so fun to come home to the surprise!

She's pretty much past the point of us being able to surprise her with gifts, so we took her shopping on her birthday. She scored a cute new purse, and a few outfits for the new school year.

The day after her birthday was her first day of school. She went from a K-8 school with a total of 275 students into a freshman class of twice that amount. We walked around the campus the night before school started locating all her classes in the various buildings and figuring out how she was going to get from one end of the campus to the other in her 6 minute passing period!

All over campus, there was chalk graffiti by this year's Senior class. Jack decided to leave his mark right outside Olivia's Spanish classroom door!

Last week, Olivia decided to try out for the high school golf team, and she made it onto the team. Two practices and two matches a week through mid-October means I am in desperate need of a chauffeur to help with driving duties. But she sure is happy, and it's a great way to ease into high school!

A custom bag and cute uniform are part of the package!

Olivia is growing into a beautiful, accomplished young woman. She is driven, self-motivated, and hard working. I don't have to nag her (often), she knows what she needs to do and gets it done. She is super creative and kind and pretty much an all-around perfect kid.

First day of high school
Everybody says that once kids hit high school, you blink and it's over. It is bittersweet to watch Olivia growing up. It is super fun to watch her developing her talents and really becoming her own person. But we can also feel her starting to slip away from us...which I guess, is exactly how it should be.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lucky number SEVEN!

I can't believe that it's been 7 years since we welcomed this little guy into our family.

In some ways, it feels like yesterday. In other ways, it feels like a lifetime. I can't remember life before him!

He is definitely our most strong-willed and opinionated child. He pushes the limits, throws fits, and doesn't take no for an answer. He's been a pill today, and every time I call him on it, he replies "It's my birthday, I'm supposed to do whatever I want to!" Think again buster...

Grant is incredibly bright and has great number sense. He can do mental math no problem and is constantly telling me how many more or less something is than something else, or how many minutes/days/hours until something is happening. Reading and writing has been a bit more of a challenge for him. He finally caught on to reading this past spring—it was like a lightbulb just went off in his little brain. But he HATES writing. We've been practicing over the summer.

He has no volume switch. I can hear him coming from a mile away.

Towards the end of swim season, the boys mentioned they'd like to make a switch to Speedos.
Jack has only worn his in the backyard.
Grant wears his every chance he gets!

He has enough personality for 10 kids. Seriously, the kid cracks us up all the time with his antics.

This was his "crazy" costume for swim team champs. He wore it proudly!

He is good at expressing gratitude. He thanks me for his meals daily, and his words are usually accompanied by a hug.

He doesn't like kisses. Hugs are okay, but he doesn't like me to kiss him. I try and sneak in a kiss on the forehead at night, but he usually wipes it right off!

He goes shirtless as much as possible. Seriously. He was named "Most likely to be shirtless" at the swim team banquet. He nearly ripped his dress shirt off on his way up to claim his award!

He adores his brother and sister. He and Jack have given each other the nickname of "Bubs Chubs" and it cracks me up when Jack is irritated with Grant for some reason and Grant will say "But Jack, I'm your 'Bubs Chubs'!"

Even though he is the source of most of my gray hairs, I wouldn't trade this boy for the world.

Happy Birthday Grant...we love you!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The graduate

Over the weekend, we officially celebrated Olivia's graduation from Sunol Glen.

Because the school is so small, they really go all out to make the ceremony special, and the kids were involved in the planning and presentations of the evening.

Olivia was absolutely gorgeous . . . when I saw her walking towards us right before the ceremony started, I got choked up as I saw how my baby girl had transformed into a beautiful young woman literally overnight.

We did a complete re-enactment of the first day of kindergarten photo.

The parents were in charge of decorating, and the auditorium looked amazing. Somehow I got roped into making a balloon arch, with the help of two other amazing moms.

Life-size silhouettes of all 27 students lined the walls of the room. They were so true to life that I could tell who was who, even before seeing the names!

The stage was lined with tulle and little graduate picks, complete with each student's face.

The program started out with a slideshow of the students, showing pictures of each of them from babyhood to now. Then the students walked up on stage to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance.

Olivia and three of her best friends sang the national anthem.

Olivia and Katelyn gave the class history—a recap of the nine years spent at the school.

Each student was recognized for their accomplishments. Olivia received the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence, the Superintendent's Honor Roll for a 4.0 GPA, and was recognized for the character trait of Caring.

I went in to the auditorium with a brand new box of kleenex, and fully anticipated having to use the whole thing. Miraculously enough, I only needed three tissues! For some reason, once the ceremony started, most of my sadness left, and I was filled with excitement for this next phase of her life.

A teary hug from daddy...

Olivia with her amazing Art teacher, Mrs. Campbell

Olivia with her Math & Science teacher, Mrs. Takei

Katelyn & Olivia have been BFFs since kindergarten.
They're headed to different high schools in the fall.
Eric started kindergarten with Olivia. He left the school this year,
but came to visit the graduation dance.

One last class photo
It was a beautiful, perfect evening . . . the perfect culmination to nine years of memories!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Moving on

Nearly nine years ago, my little girl started kindergarten at Sunol Glen. She was a joyful, beautiful, bubbly little girl, and we couldn't believe that she was old enough to start school!

As we looked at the kids in the older grades run around that first day, they seemed gigantic, and we couldn't even begin to imagine how Olivia would be at the end of kindergarten, let alone 8th grade.

Somehow, we blinked, and the day arrived. Today is Olivia's last day at Sunol Glen.

She has grown into a joyful, beautiful, and bubbly young woman. She has had teachers who have shaped her into who she is today and helped her learn and grow. She has had friends who have brightened her life with their laughter and love.

Now her class is moving on. They're off to high school, and instead of a class of 26, she'll be in a class of 500+. Only a handful of her classmates are going to the same high school, and it is hard to say goodbye to those "BFFs" that have made her days so much fun.

For five of the nine years, she's had her brothers at the same school with her. They hug when they see each other during the day, and Olivia is always looking out for them. It makes me so sad to think they won't all be together from here on out.


Tomorrow night is her 8th grade promotion. It's a big deal at such a small school...complete with a picture slide show, speeches from all the kids, speeches from local dignitaries, etc. I would like to think I'll maintain my composure through it all, but really...who am I kidding?

In spite of the tears that keep falling, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the 9 years she has spent at this school. It has been amazing, and I couldn't have asked for more.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Spring Break 2013, Part 4 — Four Corners & Pagosa Springs

From Kayenta, AZ, we headed north.

We stopped at the Four Corners National Monument, the only place in the entire country where four states intersect. 

It was in the middle of nowhere, and was lined with vendor booths, selling Native American jewelry and other handmade items. We passed those up, but took the requisite photos of being in multiple states at one time.

Our drive continued on, across the state line into Colorado. 

Apparently, Coloradans have a different idea of "colorful" than I do!

We stopped for lunch in Durango, CO. We ate at the Diamond Belle Saloon, which was housed in a restored historic building on Main Street. The d├ęcor was very authentic, complete with the waitress in fishnet stockings with a feather in her hair!

Sixty miles east of Durango lies the little town of Pagosa Springs to visit my brother Shepard and his wife Breanne. They've been there the past year, with Shepard practicing dentistry in a small practice in town. 

During our trip, Grant started complaining that his mouth hurt. When I peeked in to take a look, I saw his permanent tooth coming in behind his two front baby teeth...not the ideal placement! 

Since Shepard is now a "real" dentist, we asked him to do the honors!

Dr. DeLong—with his very capable (and wonderful) assistant/wife Breanne—got to work, with Jack observing (Jack had been thinking he might want to be a dentist. That was, until he watched this. When it was over, he started feeling woozy, walked into the door jam, turned completely white, and nearly passed out. It took him 45 minutes to recover.)

Grant was an absolute perfect patient. He held perfectly still, listened to Shepard and was 100% cooperative. It was spectacular!

Here's the new smile...no more baby face! 

These were the two teeth. The short one was a little loose, you can see the root was partially resorbed. The one on the right took substantially more effort to get out. Crazy! The tooth fairy brought $2.50...you'd have thought it was $250 by Grant's reaction!

Pagosa Springs is home to the world’s deepest natural geothermal hot springs. We spent an afternoon soaking in the tubs, ranging from 85 to 110 degrees! It was a little stinky, but incredibly soothing. 

The kids were brave enough to take a chilling dip in the river!

After soaking in one of the hotter tubs (aptly named "The Lobster Pot"), the cool mountain air felt so good and I was perfectly content to lay on a lounge chair and soak up some much needed vitamin D.

The next day, we headed 20 minutes up the road to the snow. We stopped on the way up at "Treasure Falls"...rumored to have buried treasure hidden within it.

 We spent a couple of hours sledding, with lots of wipe outs, laughter, and fun!

Love my "baby" brother...

 It didn't take Grant long to figure out the easiest way up the mountain!

Shepard and the kids cooked an amazing dinner of homemade vegetarian pizza.

Then Shepard entertained us playing songs on the guitar with made up lyrics about giant cheese balls.

Shep and Olivia practiced some partner Acro-yoga moves (Olivia is learning some acro-yoga as part of the choreography for the play she is in).

The "kids" watched a movie on their new 3D TV...

We went pedal-boating (or is it paddle boating?) on the little pond in their neighborhood.

It was all fun and games until I fell in the pond, while trying to get back on to the shore! My foot in the boat got stuck in the pedal, while my other foot was on the shore. It felt like something out of a cartoon as the boat started drifting away from the shore and my legs got wider and wider apart. I froze momentarily as my right leg fell in the water, then Shepard came to my rescue and pulled me back in the boat. I was laughing so hard that he thought I was crying. It was not a very graceful moment (and thankfully, was not captured on film!).

We loved spending a few days with Shep & Bre in their home...this was a first for us. Usually, they are the ones coming to visit us! Their calm spirits and joyful hearts feed the soul, and we feel blessed to call them family.

 We were flying out of Albuquerque to come home, which was about 3 ½ hours south of Pagosa Springs. We opted to drive down the night before, so we’d be well rested for our flight home.
En route to Albuquerque, we stopped in Santa Fe, NM for dinner at The Shed. The food was authentic Southwestern Mexican style, complete with “knock your socks off” spicy chile. I thought I was going to need a fire extinguisher for my mouth!

It was cool to walk through the town, the oldest US Capitol city in the United States, and one of the oldest US cities period. 

After nine days away (and in close quarters for most of it!), you'd have thought we'd have been at each other's throats and dying to get home. In reality, quite the opposite was true. It was one of the best vacations of my life. We loved every minute together, had not a single fight or bad attitude, and saw some of the most beautiful places in the world. Honestly, there's not much more I could ask for!