Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Baby is growing up

Sarah went off to her 6th grade retreat yesterday. She'll be gone until tomorrow afternoon. She is at a camp with other 11 year-olds for two nights with NO contact with her parents. ACK!!!!

I wasn't prepared for how this retreat would make me feel. As I helped Sarah pack for this trip I struggled with keeping my emotions in check. It was just a multitude of things that brought home how grown up my daughter is now.

It was the deodorant and the bras. It was the removal of the "butterfly" from the sleeping bag cover and the careful choosing of pajamas (only sleep pants and t-shirts). It was the bible that she has become so comfortable with and the excitement of being away for 3 days.

This is the first time that Sarah and I will not have told each other, "I love you" before we go to bed. This is first time that I've not held and kissed my daughter in a full day and the first time I've not not been able to talk with her.

I'm amazed at how much I'm bothered by all of this. I keep checking the school website looking for an update (they said they would post SOMETHING!). I'm glad that I haven't heard from her because that means all is well. Then on the other hand, I so wish she would call.

I did write a "mom note" and stick in her notebook. I hope that she'll get a good feeling when she reads it and realizes how much I really miss her. I can't wait to see her tomorrow and hear all about her experience.

On Wednesday I said goodbye and I love you to a totally different child. Tomorrow I'll greet a young lady who had her first taste of independence---and loved every minute of it. I'm not sure I like letting go.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Professional photos

At Gracie's meet on Saturday there was a professional photographer snapping pictures. I went to the site today to view them. There are some really great ones of Gracie!

I think the photos show what everyone sees in Grace; her form is almost perfect. Go take a look here:

Once you get to site, choose:

RECENT PHOTOS (left hand side)

Then in the drop down menu choose:
C2 sess 2 level 4-C Floor, B Beam (Grace was on group B)
Page 1, photos 53-70

you can see more at:
C2 sess 2 level 4 B Floor
Page 10, photos 243-261.

Enjoy the pics. When our "other" computer comes home from the doctor I'll post the video!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Champion!

First on bars!

First on beam!

First on floor!

First on vault!

Best all around!


Grace participated in her first gymnastics meet yesterday. She was so excited and had fun competing. And it showed! Grace took first place in all four events; 9.65 on vault, 9.3 on bars, 8.85 on beam and a 8.95 on floor. She also was named best all around with a total score of 36.75 (best is 40).

To qualify for the state meet in December Grace must score at least a 32 all around in two of her meets. She now only needs one more meet to qualify!

This meet was hosted by the judges. We were warned that the judges would look very closely at the girls and mark them down quickly. It is the judges opportunity to tell the girls what they need to work on for the rest of the competitive season.

It certainly held to be true. The scoring was very low, especially in the beam and floor events. As you can see from Grace's scores they were not particulary high, even though her performance had very few flaws.

Part of the excitement for us, other than just watching Grace perform, was watching Grace each time she was called for first place! She really had no idea that she had done so well. She walked away with 4 medals; one for each event and a trophy for the best all around!

Needless to say, Grace walked on clouds for the rest of the afternoon. She cannot wait for the next competition. We've cautioned her not to expect to win each and every time. She doesn't seem to mind--she just loved getting out there and showing off her talent.

It will be interesting to see how the remainder of the season goes. Grace's team looked well prepared but could use some more work on the beam. That was the lowest event for all of them. Some girls fell multiple times off of the beam. Grace wobbled a few times and it is reflected in her score.

We are so proud of Grace. Not just for her performance but also for her support of her team and her graciousness in not bragging about her win. She is a true team player!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Some more firsts

6th, 3rd and 1st grader

Our 3rd and 1st grader!

Our Sunday morning breakfast

On Monday Grace and Analiese started back to school. I just cannot believe that Grace is now a 3rd grader and my baby is in first grade. Both girls were very excited and had a great day! They both have GREAT teachers and I fully anticipate a great year!

Analiese has the same teacher that Matthew had last year. He flourished in her classroom and she was so patient with him. She'll have some challenges with Analiese but doesn't seemed concerned at all.

Analiese calls her teacher "Aunt Kelly" because last year Analiese was in class with Kelly's nephew. He, of course, called her Aunt Kelly and so did the rest of the kindergarten class. "Aunt Kelly" doesn't mind and actually thinks it might be a good thing because she is getting married in February so her last name is going to change anyway!

Grace is having a little difficulty transitioning in with her new classmates. The teacher I requested for her actually "looped" with her entire class. That means the entire class, with teacher, moved up a grade. Grace is one of 5 new kids that were placed in the class. Unfortunately for Grace that means that the kids already have had a year to establish relationships.

Grace is shy to begin with so it is difficult for her "break" into an already formed group of kids. I realized this was an issue this evening while I was reviewing her work for the day. She had completed a sheet, "getting to know you". Grace had to complete some statements. One was, "I wish I could...." and Grace wrote, "make friends."

When I questioned her, it was heart breaking. She said that "no one wants to play with me." I put her on my lap and probed some more (and all the while holding back my own tears). She said that during recess she justs, "walks around looking for her friends from last year."

I offered some suggestions and even asked if she wanted me to talk with her teacher. Grace responded that she didn't want me to say anything. Well, fate intervened when her teacher called (you know the obligatory beginning of the year call). I brought up what Grace said and wrote and asked for her input and help. The teacher had noticed and has offered to be more proactive in having the girls be more inclusive. I sure hope Grace finds her niche!

Sarah continues to enjoy middle school. During the past couple of days I've observed Sarah putting on make-up; mascara and lip gloss. I questioned her today and her answer was that "all the girls at school wear it". She immediately got defensive and said, "You don't want me to be DIFFERENT, do you???"

I told her that I just wanted to find out why she wanted to wear makeup and then I would decide if it was something she could continue to do. With a great big SIGH, she said, "it's not like I'm going to die if I wear it!"

Oh boy.....So, the wise mom that I am told her that "I" didn't really start wearing make-up until I was in the ninth grade.

My daughter, my first baby, exasperated says, "Yeah, that was before they had make-up in bottles. What did you have to do, squeeze cranberries to put on your lips?"

Yes, I am not kidding and no I did NOT make that up! I just cannot believe that my daughter actually thinks of me as OLD!!!

At that moment I realized that we had moved into a totally different arena and our relationship had shifted. We must officially be into the "tween years" and I'm not so sure I'm really ready.

I'm preparing myself for some battles. I sure hope they aren't close to what I put my Dad through.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sweet Analiese~

When I checked in on Analiese before I went to bed last night, this is what I found! The things that child gets in to! I laughed so hard and of course had to call Dave upstairs.

This is just one reason why we love her so very much! What DID we do before she came into our family????

Monday, August 10, 2009

First Day of Middle School

It's just nerves

Doesn't she look so grown up?

The traditional first day photo

Today was Sarah's first day of Middle School. Beginning last week she started to get nervous about going to a new school not knowing anyone. Her nerves really got worse at meet and greet. Sarah really was afraid she would get lost even though we walked to each of her classes and studied the map.

Yesterday was hard and last night was even worst. Sarah went to bed fairly early but had a difficult time falling asleep (Thank goodness for Benedryl). She did get a decent night's sleep and woke up fairly easily. Now, I can't say the same for me. I, also, had a hard time falling asleep and when I did I woke up several times. I had very strange dreams, most were about getting Sarah to school!

Sarah wanted me to take her to school as she didn't think Dave would be a help in getting her locker organized. I knew better; my 11 year old still wants her Mom to be there and "hold her hand". I'm glad that she wanted me, cause I wanted to be ther with her.

This morning Sarah and I both compared it to her first day of preschool. On that day she happily arrived at the school but when it was time for me to leave she grabbed a hold of me, started to cry and would not let me go! We laughingly said that she couldn't physically do that but she could do it in her head!

Well, when we got to school I could see how nervous Sarah really was. A teacher stopped to introduce himself and Sarah almost couldn't respond. When we finished with organizing her locker I walked with Sarah up to the front of the school so she could meet with ther "buddy". She did NOT want me to leave. She asked, "Please Mommy don't leave".

Let me tell you how quickly that phrase had me seeing the sweet 3 year-old that I took to Montessori all of those years ago! I would have liked nothing more than to stay with her but I knew that I had to walk away. It was so hard!!!!

I thought about Sarah all day long. When I finally spoke with her, after she got out of school, she was so excited! Sarah had a GREAT day!!!! Oh, how the weight was lifted off of my heart!!!

Sarah knows that tomorrow will be even less stressful than today was and that by the end of the week she will feel right at home! I am so grateful that she had a positive experience on her first day. Can you only imagine how hard it would be to get her to go back tomorrow if today was horrible????

I am so proud of Sarah and how she is able to go into new situations and come out with such a positive outlook. I know that this experience is so good for her and will serve her well in the future. However, it doesn't stop me from wanting to make things "all better" for her. Gosh, who knew that being a parent would be so hard???

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Grace's level 4 beam routine/mock meet

Grace's level 4 floor routine/Mock Meet

Grace's Mock Meet

Back of her warm-up suit

Front of the suit

The second skin leo

Grace and her teammates

On Saturday we were treated to watching Grace and her gymnastic's team perform in a mock meet. Their first meet is only 2 weeks away and the mock meet was used to get the girls (and parents) ready for the meet protocols. There were no scores kept, it was informal, but the coaches kept the meet as close to an official meet as possible. It was so much fun watching the girls march out doing the "official" gymnastics walk!

For days all Grace could talk about was the meet. We thought they would be keeping score and Grace had hoped for a medal. The morning of the meet Grace could not wait for the time to come to leave. She was so excited! When she finally was able to get dressed she looked so darn adorable! The competition leo is like a second skin---we are hoping that Grace doesn't grow out of it before the end of the competitive season (December). Everything else fit great. The backpack is HUGE--she could probably fit into it.

During the meet Grace did great, she looked so relaxed. We saw lots of smiles and confidence out of her! Dave and I are not in agreement, but I think Grace did best on the floor, then bars, beam and finally the vault. The vault seems to be her weakest (again it is all relative) area. Grace just shines on the floor; I'm predicting a win at the state meet in that event (that will be in December). We are so proud of how well Grace did!

Grace wasn't disappointed that there were no medals. She said she had lots of fun even though she was a little nervous in the beginning. Grace was glad she saw us in the stands and said she heard us cheering for her--that really must of felt so good to have her family there cheering her on.

This morning, as Grace and I lingered in bed, Gracie shyly said, "Mom, I can't wait for competition to start." Now that's my girl, a true competitive athlete! I'm telling you, 2016 Olympics here she comes!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Final Summer Fun

School starts on Monday for Sarah and I. That means summer is over for our family. Where did it go? I didn't get ANY of the things done I planned on doing. My closet still needs a good cleaning out, Analiese's room hasn't been painted, the photos haven't been put into the albums, we didn't get to see ALL of the movies we wanted and we certainly haven't spent the time we planned at the pool!

Of course we did get to Disney World, St. Louis, Maggie Moos, Brusters and the movie theatre. The girls had sleepovers, slept late and stayed up way past their normal bedtime. Sarah and Analiese went to dance camp while Grace enjoyed going to the gym every day.

Our family had the time to find our new normal and Matthew has found his place in his new family. God's plan unfolded and once again, his plan IS the best plan for all of us.

So, with the last week of our summer looming the girls and I went to Target to do some shopping. There we found a slip and slide on the clearance shelf and decided that was exactly what we needed to help celebrate our last days. The girls had a great time and I laughed and laughed as I got soaked trying to take that "perfect photo"!

I am so glad that my job allows me to be home with the kids! I am not going to get (financially) rich working in education but I wouldn't trade my job for anything! The time I get to spend with the kids is so precious and priceless.

In retrospect I DID get done what I planned this summer--I spent it with my kids and had a great time! Imagine that...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Beautiful Girls!

Changes, changes, changes! The girls and I went to see April, our wonderful friend who takes care of our hair, today. Our plan, beginning in the spring, was for Sarah and Grace to grow their hair for Locks of Love (at least 10 inches) and Analiese and myself to grow our hair out. For months the plan was going very well. Sarah and Grace would not get their hair cut at all and Analiese and I would just get trims to clean up our hair.

All that changed last week. For Gracie's gymnastics meets we were told her hair was too long. Even when her hair was in a ponytail it still swung into her eyes. The coaches said that the judges could mark her down or worse Grace could make mistakes because her hair would get in her way. With heavy hearts we decided to forego our plan of donating Gracie's hair and get it cut.

Sarah, on the other hand, still wanted to grow her hair. I was not as enthusiastic. Sarah's hair is quite beautiful but seemed to get so unmanageable as it grew longer and longer. When Grace told Sarah she was getting her hair cut, Sarah announced that she also wanted her hair cut (not Analiese, she wants her hair to grow to the ground!). I was thrilled.

At our appointment today Grace had 3 inches cut off of her hair and Sarah had at least 4 inches--it is now just past her ears. It looks so adorable! Sarah loves it and I think it makes her look so much older!

Analiese and I only had our hair shaped and all of us were quite happy with how things turned out. I must admit that I just LOVE Sarah's hair color. It is so beautiful; not quite red but with blond and brown mixed in. As April said, "this isn't something that comes in a bottle." I've tasked April with trying to create Sarah's color; I'd love to have the same color!

Enjoy the photos, we had fun taking them!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Middle School Parent Orientation

Dave and I spent last evening at the new middle school that Sarah will attend. It was a very nice night beginning with dinner, a guest speaker and ended with reviews of some policies. We left feeling very positive and excited for this coming year.

We are so glad that we chose this school for Sarah. As soon as you enter the building the feeling is one of being warmly welcomed. It is obvious that the faculty and administration are dedicated to the children. The school not only has a rigorous curriculum it has a very strong christian foundation. The teachers are committed to helping the children navigate their world that can be full of false friends, bad choices and criticism.

Dave and I have tried very hard to instill certain morals and values into our children. So far we are so pleased with the choices they've made, the friends they have and the foundation they have. We've always taught the kids to be kind, caring, empathetic and generous to others. We not only talk about giving to others who are less fortunate, we actually do it.

What we have not done is spent a lot of time in church. And of course, as Catholics, the bible is not something we were taught to read nor were we taught specific bible verses. Dave, nor I, feel a lot of loyalty to the Catholic church--for many reasons that I won't go in to. Because of that we don't really have a "church family". The girls haven't learned a lot of the organized part of religion. The girls know about God and why we have faith that his plan is the best plan for us. They know how important Jesus is and how we celebrate his birth. But, they certainly could learn more.

Which brings me right back to our excitement for Sarah and her up-coming school year. Oh, I'm excited that she is off to middle school where she will be more independent and learn (more) responsibility but more than that I am excited that she will be getting formal religious education. Now, more than ever, as she enters her preteen years she is going to be faced with many situations, choices and decisions that will challenge all that she has learned. Being in the christian environment will help her to make the right choices and also to be proud of the moral choices she makes.

As for Sarah, she is excited (and scared) to be moving to her new school. She is looking forward to chapel, bible classes and getting to know God in a way we just cannot teach her. But the absolute most exciting thing she is looking forward to? Having a locker!