Thursday, June 21, 2018

School's Out for Summer!

Well, the long awaited day finally came!  School is out!  It seemed to take forever for school to end this year because of how late PSD finished up the school year in comparison to other school districts--especially in other states.  But, it really is okay because it means that we don't have to go back to school until after Labor Day which is really the end of the summer for me.  In addition, we really had a cool and cloudy first two weeks of June which made it easy to keep on sending the kids off to school; however, the summer weather came in with a vengeance last Saturday and we have had temps in the 80s and 90s every day since then!  So, we are grateful to be done today.
Overall, the 2017-2018 school year has really been a great year for all three of our children.  I feel so blessed and fortunate for how well they are all doing in the classroom environment.  Ella, who wouldn't even leave my side in August, managed to establish her independence this Fall and was able to head off to preschool with just a little trepidation.  By the end of the school year, she was going to her church class, ballet and swim lessons, and play dates at friends' houses without even blinking an eye.  I am so relieved and grateful for the progress that she made this year.  She absolutely loved preschool and enjoyed playing with friends and completing her activities and crafts and I am grateful to the four other moms who stuck with the co-op until the end of the year.  In fact, we only had one mom cancel (without being able to find another mom to switch with her last minute) the entire year.  As successful as the co-op was, I am looking forward to sending Ella off to our beloved, Lutheran preschool this coming fall.
Although Logan really shined in his preK class at the Lutheran preschool last year, I was a little nervous about how he would do going from three morning classes a week to five, full-day classes a week with the switch to Kindergarten this fall.  Luckily, he did fabulous and totally thrived in this environment all year long!  He excelled at being a focused, hard-working student who always produced quality work.  His teacher absolutely LOVED him and chose him to receive the "Most Responsible" award for the first trimester awards assembly.  He was placed by the most talkative student in class for the first several months of the school year because of his ability to stay so focused while completing his work.  In addition, he was hand's down the most amazing artist in class.  His neat and perfect coloring received much praise from his teacher, other parents, and his peers throughout the year.
Lia continued to be the naturally wonderful student that she has always been since preschool.  She continued to be polite, obedient, respectful, focused, and hard working all year long.  Once again, her teacher loved her and Lia loved her back.  Lia was placed in a class with some of her closest friends (who she has been in the same class for three years in a row) and loved heading off to school every day.  She continued to be a crazy, avid reader and averaged 2-3 chapter books a week all year long.  If it weren't for the public and school libraries, this girl would have driven us into debt by now with how many books we would have needed to buy her on a regular basis.  Since she took a computer, AR test for most of the books she read this year, we were able to find out that she read almost 4 million words by June!  Talk about an amazing kid and an amazing accomplishment!
So, overall, it has been a great school year and I am so proud of our kiddos.  However, I am so ready for a break from the daily rush and roar of getting the kids off to school in the morning and all of the busy afternoons and evenings full of activities.  It is time to just be free of responsibilities and play, play, play in the sand, sun, and water.  Bring on summer!

Ella heading off to her last day of preschool at Valerie's house on Wednesday, June 20th.

Logan striking a funny pose on the porch on the last day of school, June 21st.

My grown-up, soon-to-be 5th grader, giving me an adorable smile before hopping in the car to head to school.

The cutest siblings around.

Lia and Logan heading through the side of their school this morning with their teacher's gifts in hand.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day 2017

Today we wrapped up another Father's Day where we had the chance to celebrate Ron and the wonderful husband and father he is.  We started off the day with a delicious breakfast in the dining room before dashing off to our 9 o'clock church.  After we got home and ate lunch, we went into the living room to watch him open up his gifts.  Highlights included a new lantern for camping, tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show, and a ukulele.  Ron then got to take a long, afternoon nap before we headed out to Chris' house to spend the evening with his family, my parents, and Natalee's parents.  The weather was gorgeous and so the kids enjoyed playing outside before we ate dinner out on the deck while taking in the stunning views of the Puget Sound and Blake Island.  Besides hitting some bad, Father's Day traffic in Tacoma on the way home, we enjoyed a wonderful day with the most important man in our lives!

Lia, Ella, and Logan eating their egg, sausage, and cinnamon roll breakfast in the morning.

A daddy-kiddo picture on the front porch before heading to church.

Ron opening up the gift Logan made for him in his Kindergarten class.

Papa kissing Logan on the cheek after opening up his gift.  I just love the smile on Logan's face!

Papa reading the card from the kiddos and me with Lia and Ella at his side.

Ron opening up a second gift Logan made for him at school.  Ron also received a wonderful gift from Lia that she made in class, but sadly I don't have any pictures of him opening it up.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Horseback Riding with the Girl Scouts

At the end of every school year, Lia's Girl Scout troop is able to participate in one or two big activities that is paid for 100% by the money they earn for their troop through their cookie sales.  The more boxes the girls sell, the more money they get kicked back to their troop to spend on something fun.  Over the years, Lia has been able to participate in some wonderful activities from eating lunch at the American Girl Bistro (and picking out two outfits for her doll), participating in an overnight GS encamporee, and staying at the Great Wolf Lodge.  This year, Lia's troop decided to use their cookie money to go to a horseback riding farm for the afternoon.  After waiting for over a month for one of Lia's new troop leaders to organize it (who has turned out to be a total disappointment this school year), I decided to take over and plan the entire thing.  I figured that the girls worked too hard selling cookies to let this money go to waste.  As a result, I called around to several horse farms a month ago and found one in Graham that was available to host the troop today for the entire afternoon.  The girls were so excited!  The owner also agreed to help the girls complete all of the necessary steps for them to earn their GS horseback riding badge.  As a result, they got to feed the horses, brush the horses, learn about horse tack, the different kinds of horses, and all of the body parts, etc in addition to riding them.  Overall, it was a total success and the girls had a great time!

The girls got a tour when we first arrived at the farm.  Here they are learning about the different kinds of horses found at the farm.

The adorable, 3-month old horse and his mother.

Learning about more types of horses in another area of the farm.

Lia and her friend, Lilah, learning about the difference between Western and English saddles.

Ride 'em, cowgirl!

Lia and Lilah getting ready to brush a miniature horse.

Lia brushing away.


The teenagers in charge divided the girls into two groups when it came time to ride the horses.  Lia was in the second group with Lilah, Eva, and Kaydence.  Here they are watching the other girls ride their horses in the corral.

Lia climbing onto her horse named Diva.

And, she's off.  Lia got to spend several minutes riding around the corral with the help of one of the teenagers named Jewel.

Lia walking her horse.  She was so excited to do this!  If Lia had her way, she would either be a mermaid living in the sea or a girl living on a farm where she could ride a horse every day.

Lia and Lilah walking their horses side by side.

Smiling at mom!

After all eight girls had a chance to ride a horse, we were able to sit on the side of the corral and watch the teenagers ride the horses for several minutes.  It was really cool to watch them take charge of these horses and trot and canter with them.  Here is a group shot we managed to get with all of the girls, the teenagers, and the horses at the end of the afternoon.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Pirate at Play!

My mom came down for the second week in a row today to help me with the weeding in my yard which is always so overwhelming every Spring. She showed up today with two boxes of old Halloween costumes that she has been storing in her basement for the past several decades. She decided it was time to either pass them on to the next generation or donate them to Goodwill. As my mom started pulling out the various costumes, I felt like I was like watching her pull items out from a time capsule. So many of these costumes brought back memories from the Halloweens I shared with my brothers. Although there were several things I decided not to keep, we did get a bunch of fun items to add to the dress-up box or to use for later activities when the kids get older. One of the items I just knew I had to keep was the awesome, pirate sword that my parents made years ago for one of my brothers. After my mom traced the sword out on a piece of plywood, she had my dad cut it out with a saw before she painted the handle black and covered the blade with aluminum foil. Since our Logan is still in LOVE with all things pirate, I knew that he would love this sword! After he came home from school, he begged me multiple times to put on a fresh layer of aluminum foil.  I finally found the time after dinner tonight to peel off the old layer of foil and put on a new one.  He then proceeded to run around the backyard for a good half hour with his beloved sword in hand while I washed the dinner dishes.  I just kept on smiling to myself every time I looked out the window above the kitchen sink and saw him streaking across the yard with his sword in hand.  It just made me so happy to see him enjoying something that has been boxed up for so many years.  Oh, how I just love this pirate-loving boy of mine!

Logan smiling for me when I came outside to take his picture.

And he's off!  My pirate and his sword.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Logan's Kindergarten Concert

Our kids' elementary school hosts an annual, Kindergarten concert at the end of the school year.  Due to the big gap in age between Lia and Logan, it has been four years since we have been able to attend this adorable concert.  Unfortunately, Ron was not able to get off work, so just Ella and I drove down this afternoon to watch all five Kindergarten classes perform a variety of songs that they have learned this year in music class.  We got there early enough to get a good seat on the side of the gym where Logan's class was supposed to stand and, just by luck, Logan got to be in the front row (next to his good friend, Sophia).  So, Ella and I had great seats and enjoyed watching our Logie boy sing several songs.  I was really proud of him as he normally does not like to get up in front of an audience and perform.  He has a very shy side to his personality that normally comes out in this type of situation. 
As a result, I was really impressed when I saw him stand with confidence in the front row of his class and sing and perform every song to his heart's content.  Way to go, Logan!

Logan singing away with Sophie at his left!

Logan staring right at me with his big, brown eyes.

Logan and the rest of his classmates performing their songs with hand gestures.

Smiling at mom's camera in between songs.  Oh, do I have this boy trained or what?!

After standing in front of the stage to sing several songs, the music teacher had all of the Kindergarteners move out to the floor to perform a few more numbers while skipping and dancing with partners.  It was really cute and, surprisingly, really well done!

Logan smiling at me while dancing with her partner, Ryan.

Logan and Ryan dancing around in a circle.  It was so cute to see these boys happily dancing with each other.

Logan dancing with a different partner in his class named Dilbaag.

The boys ending the song/dance by kneeling down on the floor.

Logan striking a pose with his arms in the air!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Sweetest Thing

One of my favorite things to do at the end of the day is to check on all of our kiddos before I go to bed.  I just love seeing them all tucked in and asleep in their beds.  Every once and awhile, I find one of them sleeping in such a funny or adorable pose that I can't resist grabbing my camera and taking a picture and tonight was one of those nights.  When I went to check on Ella, I found her asleep clutching a pink, stuffed elephant that she recently took from Lia's room (along with 100 other items in her bedroom).  It just melted my heart and I had to take a picture.  I just think that our Ella Avalon is the sweetest thing ever.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Preschool Fun

This week is the last time that I am hosting Ella's preschool co-op for the school year.  I can't believe how fast this year has gone!  Since the kids are learning the letter F this week, I decided to repeat an activity that I did with both Lia's and Logan's co-op which is to ask the kids to color giant letter F's that I had previously drawn on the driveway.  Luckily, the weather was perfect for such an activity today and the kids had a great time eating their preschool snack out on our front lawn before coloring away to their hearts' content.  Here are a few pictures of their fun...

Ella, Jacob, Jace, Emma, and Isla eating their cheese crackers on the front lawn. (Valerie stayed home because she was sick and is not in any of the pictures).

The kids hard at work.

Ella and her "F."