Well, I got through it again, even though I didn't think it was possible. The hardest day of the year for me as a mother is the day before the first day of school. I spend the day double checking school supplies, packing bags, planning lunches, kicking myself for forgetting to buy water or juice boxes of any kind, admiring my children's faces, marveling at how big they're getting, and grabbing them for a hug every time they walk past me. And crying. There is always crying.
But by the time the big day actually arrives, there is so much hustle and bustle, I don't have time to tear up. We got dressed, checked bags again, made lunches, ate breakfast, made lunches, and were out on the lawn for pictures before 7:30. We grabbed last year's picture for the annual frame-within-a-frame shot.
This part always takes a while, because my kids are chronic weird-face-makers whenever they look into camera lens. For example:
I have half a mind to hang this one on his wall all year. It cracks me up. I'll send these to Walgreens and have them printed and hanging in their rooms when they get home from school today.
Of course, the little guys had to get into the picture-taking too.
Oh my gosh. Ethan's face! I'm going to look at this all day long to cheer me up.
We packed up and drove the half mile to school, or at least we tried to. We only got half way there, because every other parent wanted to walk in with every other kid, so we parked at the end of the street and hoofed it the rest of the way, loaded down with six bags of supplies. By the time we got to the front steps, they were saying things like, I'm so tired! and Why does school have to be so hard?! I'm sure the 80% humidity didn't help! But everything got better once we made it to Ethan's class. He has the same beloved teacher that Emma had for first grade, so it was a happy reunion. I can't wait to catch up with her.
He found a seat next to some friends from last year.
(See the bag that Emma is holding in the background above? That's one of the tote bags I made for their teachers. I'm going to put up a tutorial for ya later this week!)
Finally we made our way to Emma's class. I'd never met her teacher before, but I knew that many of Emma's friends from previous years were going to be in her class. Turns out, her teacher is darling. And she seemed to be really excited to meet the kids and the parents. I made sure to give Emma a big sloppy kiss while her friends were watching, and I told her please don't cry, but if you get too scared or sad without me, just call and I'll come pick you up.
She said, "I don't think that will be necessary." Hmph.
So, with seven hours of waiting ahead of us, Esther and I are trying not to look at the clock too much. We are cleaning, working on projects, and watching videos, but really we are just counting down the minutes until carpool time.
And in case you're feeling sentimental, too:First Day of School 2012
Did your kids go back to school yet? I think we're pretty late this year compared to everyone else. If you took first day pics, link them to the comments! I'd love to see them!
Be sure to check back in later this week for the back-to-school tote tutorial!
Happy Father's Day, Donnie!
You are everything I ever hoped for as a father to our kids. They want to be like you, and I hope they succeed! We can't get enough of you when you're here, and when you're away, we can't wait for you to walk back through that door.
Thank you for loving us, and keeping us safe.
Thank you for providing for us, and especially for your love for Jesus.
And thanks for not getting mad when you found out that one of your pancakes had been on the floor. And that you already ate it.
Happy Father's Day!
Esther turned two on Friday. How on earth has it been a year since her Sunshine Party? In general, we like to celebrate birthdays on the actual date of the child's birthday. We also decided years ago that big, fancy, friends parties can wait until the little one is turning four. They don't really know what's going on before that anyway, so if we have a party, we just invite whichever relatives are in town and available on the right day.
But, poor Esther. This year, not only was her baby brother born just 13 days before, but it seemed every single relative was busy on her birthday. So we made a batch of pretty cupcakes, stuck two candles in them, and told the family to drop by whenever they could.
Guess what? She didn't know the difference. And not only that, but she got to blow out her candles again every time someone new came over.
What else could a two-year-old want?
Instead of a gift (can you tell we were really cutting corners this year!) we filled her bedroom with 75 balloons and let her loose in there.
It was hysterical mayhem for more than 30 minutes.
Here's the video we made if the pictures don't say enough.
I'm not sure a real party, with friends, clowns, jumpy houses, and ponies could have lived up to a room full of balloons.
Happy Birthday, Essie Bear!
I surprised Emma by getting her out of school yesterday to go vote with me. I thought I'd have to talk the office ladies into letting me have her, but they seemed really excited and impressed that I would let her see how the process works.
While I've heard stories of crazy-long lines, and multi-hour waits, there were only a few voters at our location in the middle of the day, so we were in and out in a matter of minutes. I wanted to get a picture of Emma turning in my ballot, but they tend to frown upon things like cameras at polling stations.
Before going back to school, we took a quick detour to Starbucks, since they were giving away these cool bracelets. So patriotic.
I might have shared a sip or two of my coffee...
The caffeine and sugar only affected her a little bit. I'm sure her teachers could handle it.
I'll have to brainstorm to come up with some other school-office-approved-midday outings. I miss them so much when they are there all day!
After school, when Ethan found out I'd taken Emma on a field trip, he felt scandalized. I cheered him up with a project I had set up for them both.
I found a map online that was complete with electoral college points. During the election coverage, I gave Emma a red pencil, Ethan a blue, and set them to work keeping track of the votes as they became official.
This way they felt completely engrossed in the outcome of the election. They weren't able to stay awake for the end, but when they woke up this morning, they were both curious to hear what the result was.
I don't believe in involving children in the grown-up politics and emotions of the presidential election, so I didn't make any big deal about which side I was going for, but it was fun for them to feel connected to it, and get an art project in at the same time.
Next time I might have them add up the electoral votes while they color.
Gen 1: 9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. 13 There was evening and there was morning, a third day.
We are starting with the reveal shot on this one. Instead of warming up with play-doh or chalk today, I had them run around the yard looking for interesting leaves for leaf rubbings.
Peel some crayons (fun!) and place the leaves veiny-side-up under a piece of thin paper. We used tracing paper. Experiment with patterns, shapes, and overlapping colors.
Then it's off to the next project: Hot Rocks!
I first learned about hot rocks years ago on this blog. It's a favorite.
Collect or buy some smooth, clean stones--about the size of your palm. We got a package of rocks at Walmart, in the flower-arranging craft aisle, for about 5 bucks.
Place the rocks on a foil-lined cookie sheet at 350 degrees. Warn the kids 20-25 times not to touch the rocks with their hands. Set the rocks in front of them, and protect your work surface from the heat with some padding. (We made a bed of paper towels, covered with a piece of foil.)
Grab some crayons and start drawing on the rock. The wax melts to the hot rock and shows up in brilliant, beautiful streams of color.
Try to cover the whole top of the rock in color.
Wait until they cool off before picking them up.
And then take a picture!
Gen 1 6 Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. 8 God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
It kind of looks like they're under water, doesn't it! The day we did this art class, the air was so thick and humid that I only got a couple pictures before the lens was all fogged up again. Gross. But appropriate, in a way, to the lesson.
Before we got to the messy part of the day, I gave each child a piece of white drawing paper, and had them draw an under-water scene. They got very creative with this.
We had a huge range of ages on this day--from 3 to 10 years old. I gave the little guys some pointers on how to draw a simple fish. The older ones just ran with it.
When they were done drawing, I mixed some bubble solution with a little dish soap and a squirt of paint, and we covered the ocean scenes with bubble prints. A great way to depict Air and Water through and art project.
Note: I do not have any pictures of this process. It is very hands-on, very slippery, and one of my children had a flat-out melt-down in the middle of it. (It's not the one you're thinking, either...)
But there is a VERY good tutorial on the Paper Crafts blog!
One thing we did learn is to add lots of paint so the bubbles really show up well.
We also learned that little ones need to practice blowing into the bubble mixture a few times so they know not to suck it up. Ew.
Ethan's (below) Can you find the crab chasing the jelly fish? LOVE!
The kids loved this project! Most of them didn't even care that they had covered their pictures in painty bubbles. They just wanted to keep making them. (The bubbles stick together and form a tall tower of colorful foam. So much fun.)
Oh my gosh. I just noticed that Ethan's shorts are unbuttoned in every photo. He must have been in the middle of something when he heard the call for group photos...
And here is another source of wonderful bubble crafts, which would be very nice to try on a day that is not so humid as ours was. We could not get any bubbles to fly, the air was so heavy! We did make bubble wands with pipe cleaners, and even though the bubbles wouldn't work, they had tons of fun trying anyway.
There are only three days until those baby dolls need to be in. THREE! That means, if you are out of town, today is the day they need to go in the mail. Ship them priority, and they should be here exactly on time.
I got these in today from some local sewists.
From Karen H.
Love that tiny button detail on the boys!
And these from my sister, Abby:
She gave each one a completely different hair bow. I love them all, but I think that curly ribbon is my fave.
Also today, my friend Jill brought her three nieces over so I could help them finish the dolls that they were HAND sewing.
Dory made this one:
They told me that they had never sewn before. This was their first sewing project ever. When I looked at the work that had gone into them, I could not believe that they'd never sewn before. A dolly is by no means your typical beginner project.
Summer made this one:
I want to clarify--I did not teach these girls to sew. The dolls were almost finished when I met them. Are you as impressed as I am!? Amazing!
Elizabeth made this one:
And how gracious to offer up your first sewing project to a child in need. In Haiti. I am moved by their generosity. By the generosity of ALL who have donated time, money, sewing skills, and prayers to this project.
Are you ready for today's total?
Now, if you have finished dollies that you have not sent it, get to the post office today!
Send your babydolls to:
Baby Dolls for Haiti
c/o Faith Bible Church
1437 W. Pleasant Run Rd.
DeSoto, TX 75115
We were so busy when it came time to make Valentines that I went the easiest possible route.
That's right. Pinterest. I know I'm not the only one.
So here they are.
heart-shaped toast and jelly.
pink lady apples sliced thin and cut with a cookie cutter.
pink cream cheese on a bagel.
eggs fried inside a bell-pepper slice.
Okay, some of these ideas were mine. But not many.
Valentine's Day conversation:
Emma: (looks at me sitting with a big heart-shaped box of chocolates in my lap.) Mom, are you going to eat ALL of those?
Emma: All of them?! Today?
Me: I'm going to try.
Emma: *scoffs* Hmm. You are not a saver like me.
Me: I guess not.
Emma: What are you going to do when you come home one day and think, "I need some chocolate," but you don't have any because you ate it all?
She's 7 years old, but she already understands that chocolate is a need.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Everything I do with my kids seems to take a little longer than it would take to do alone. But having kids along is kind of like taking the scenic route. It's not the fastest way, but the trip will be full of beauty and memories and dialog better that any you could ever write yourself.
This week I'm sewing with Emma.
It's a project for an article I was asked to write about sewing with kids and for kids.
It's taking longer than I had hoped, but every minute is beautiful, teachable, and memorable.
While we are working, we are listening to this audio book. Sadly, it's a little over her head--especially the recent chapter involving the representative of the birth control movement--but I'm cracking up. She did like the part where their dad made them play a record of French and German language lessons any time they were in the bathroom, bathing or otherwise indisposed, to cut down on wasted time.
My younger children are learning lessons, too. Esther is learning to crawl and pull up on things. And Ethan is learning that "time out" is much more pleasant now that Esther can crawl and pull up on things.
Have a great week, and enjoy the scenic route.