Sunday, November 18, 2012

Late Summer 2012

As for the rest of our summer, we spent a lot of time at the pool.  We joined a local swim club and Grace wanted to go there everyday.  And we pretty much did just that!  I figured that since we’re paying for it, we’re going to go!!!!  Grace continued swim lessons through some of the summer.  We probably should have done more, but with some traveling that we did, and just a busy schedule, we couldn't seem to get the timing to work out.  We did get to swim in a few hotel pools while we were away though.  Here she is at one of her lessons - always smiling while she's in the pool!

Probably Grace’s biggest accomplishment this summer was taking the training wheels off her bike.  She was bugging us to do this before school was out for the summer.  I told her that she would have to wait until I was done with school.  So as soon as school was out, we took Grace down to the high school soccer field.  The drive is gated, so no cars can go down there.  It’s nice, smooth, and straight.  She was a little scared, so as soon as she realized we had let go of the back of her bike, she would fall over.  After about a half hour of starting, riding a short distance and falling, Grace was getting discouraged, so we put the training wheels back on and headed home.  Then we tried again a couple of weeks later.  Well, that was the one!  She hopped on and with just a little push, off she went.  We figured out how to stop and turn.  Probably the trickiest part for her was learning how to get the bike going by herself.  But after a couple of tries, she had that down too.  She couldn’t wait to show Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle!  Here she is riding back at our house.

Grace, my mom, and I went to North Dakota again this year to visit my cousins Charity and Marcus.  We took a trip and drove to Aberdeen, South Dakota.  They had a really cute place called Storybook Land.  It was all free!  They had statues there of many kinds of storybook characters.  She is posing here with Glinda from the Wizard of Oz. There was a train ride that went around the park and through the small zoo that they had there.  There is also a nice water park in Aberdeen, so we went there too.  Grace was jumping off the diving board in 12 feet deep water and swimming back to the side, so she could climb out and do it again!  We celebrated Marcus’s 13th birthday while we were there.  How is it possible that Marcus could be 13!!!!

When we got back from North Dakota, it was time to start getting ready for the school year.  Grace helped me get my classroom together for the arrival of a new batch of first graders.  We went for a couple hours a day and then spent the afternoon at the pool.

 School started way before I was ready!  That seems to happen every year.  We had decided on a different preschool for Grace this year.  In Michigan, she would have been able to start Kindergarten this year based on her birthday.  But as a first grade teacher, I would never let her start that early, so we decided to go with a Young Five’s program instead.  It is a full day, five days-a-week program.  Whew!  Luckily, two of her friends from last year’s preschool were going to the same program.  I knew that would help, but I was still so worried about how she would be.  Her first day of school was my first day of school too.  Lots of emotions flying on that day!  I couldn’t sleep the whole night worrying about how she was going to handle being dropped off the first day.  Well, we walked in the door and Grace’s friend came running up to her, holding a play cell phone in her hand.  She said, ‘Look, Grace, they have cell phones here.”  That was all it took!  Grace was off!  I could hardly get a hug good-bye.  So much for a sleepless night of worrying.  Every other day since has been great also!  Grace loves school, loves her teachers, and loves her friends there!  Everything is fun and exciting!  Here she is on her first day!

Grace wanted to continue swim lessons.  So, we signed her up for more.  At the swim club that we belong to, they apparently do not have a lot of students at Grace’s level right now.  So believe it or not, Grace is in a class of one, getting a private lesson while we are paying for group lessons.  I feel so lucky!

Grace also decided that she wanted to take dance lessons as well.  So we signed her up for a combination ballet/tap class at the same place where she swims.  She loves everything about it.  She loves her teacher, the shoes, the leotards, the moves, the barre, the mirrors in the room, everything!!!  She's showing off her new dance outfit in this picture.  It is the funniest thing to watch the class.  The teacher looks so graceful when she shows the moves and steps.  Then you look at the girls, who have no rhythm, no grace, no coordination.  Too cute!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Maine - July 2012

In continuing our quest to take Grace to every National Park we possibly can, this year’s summer trip was to Acadia National Park in Maine.  Oh, what a beautiful trip!  We flew into Bangor and then drove to Bar Harbor.  We spent four nights in Bar Harbor What a beautiful town!  Great shopping and great food!  Lots of lobster – Greg was very happy with all of the seafood!  We stayed at a resort right on the ocean.  Our room was to have a partial view of the ocean.  If you went out of the patio, then you had a nice partial view.  The resort was very nice.  The pool looked like it ended right into the ocean.  Grace loved the pool – she is such a fish!  We spent all day everyday that we were in Bar Harbor in Acadia National Park.  Grace did a great job hiking.  We hiked around Jordan Pond.  The trail went all the way around the pond.  Their idea of a pond and mine is totally different.  It was much more like a good size lake.  It was a beautiful hike.

We also did a hike that started at Sand Beach.  We tried to go in the ocean, but couldn’t get past our toes.  Oh, it was so cold!  Our toes were numb almost instantly!  Believe it or not, there were actually people who were immersing their entire bodies in the water!  When they were coming out, I asked how they could stand it!  They could hardly even respond back to me because they were so cold.  From the beach, we climbed a pretty steep incline up to the Great Head Trail.  It followed along the tops of the cliffs overlooking the ocean.  What a breathtaking view!  It was a pretty long hike which took most of the day.  While Grace is a great hiker, she does slow you down a bit!!!

Another hike that we did was the Gorge Path.  It started out in a pretty deep forest.  It seemed rather dark since not very much sunlight could get through.  The mosquitoes were swarming us.  We stopped and covered ourselves with bug spray.  This really helped!  As we continued through the forest, we came to a true gorge!  It was huge rocks with a small stream running through it.  Luckily, it hadn’t rained in awhile.  I’m not sure how we would have made it if we had to worry about a raging river!  But it was absolutely beautiful.  It was a tricky hike for Grace.  The gaps between the rocks were a bit too big for her little legs.  We ended up lifting her from rock to rock, which ended up making it a pretty difficult hike for us as well!  I think we covered all the other main tourist sites at Acadia, such as Thunder Hole, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Cadillac Mountain, and Jordan Pond.

 We then drove down to Belfast, Maine.  We spent three nights in a hotel there.  It’s a very small town, but quaint!  It was a short drive to Camden, Maine.  This is where we spent most of the rest of our time.  Camden is a beautiful town with more great shopping and great food!  At Grace’s request, we had to go on a boat ride.  We chose an hour and a half cruise.  That was plenty long for Grace.  It took us along the coast, where we saw some beautiful scenery, two lighthouses, and some amazing homes... well, estates would be a better word.  No whales or seals though.  The Captain even let Grace drive for a bit!  She was all smiles!

At Camden Hills State Park,there is a beautiful drive that takes you up to the top of Mt. Battie.  It gives an unbelievable view of the city of Camden below.  It was a little foggy and drizzly that day, so we decided to drive up the mountain instead of hiking.  Despite the weather, we still got a pretty good view from up there.  The photo to the right was on our way back down at a park along the coast.

For this vacation, Grace chose a stuffed moose for her souvenir.  It is so cute!  The moose has become great friends with the moose that she chose when we went to Glacier National Park.



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

San Antonio

Spring Break!  Well, this was a tricky one to plan this year.  We had planned on going to Florida.  Sanibel Island is one of our favorite places.  When I looked into airfare, I couldn’t believe it.  Tickets were over $600.00 a piece!!!  To Florida???!!!  There was no way I was paying that much, so we started looking into other places.  I knew it had to be HOT!!!  After checking out many others, we ended up going to San Antonio, Texas. 
We had a very rocky start to our vacation.  Our flight was to leave at 7:00 a.m., so we planned on leaving our house at about 4:30.  That would give us plenty of time to park the car and shuttle to the airport, check our luggage, get through security, and then have some breakfast before our flight took off.  Well…we have a relatively new alarm clock and somehow the alarm didn’t actually get set.  I woke up at 5:30 a.m.!!!!  Sheer panic!  We jumped out of bed, got dressed (no shower and no makeup), threw the suitcases in the car, got Grace dressed, got in the car and we were off on our half hour drive to the airport.  Somehow, I don’t want to know how, Greg got us there in less than half an hour.  We parked in the lot closest (and most expensive) to the terminal.  We got out of the car and RAN into the airport.  Grace was absolutely having a ball!  We usually tell her that we’re not supposed to run inside, so she was so excited running through the airport.  I ran up to the first Delta person I could find.  I said, “Our alarm didn’t go off, can you please help us?”  Bless this man who helped us.  Luckily we were checked in, we only had to check our luggage.  The Delta employee opened a station for us and checked our luggage as quick as I’ve ever seen.  We ran to security.  Luckily, we got through there quickly – it sure helps to have a child with you!  We ran to the gate and were the last ones to board the plane.  As we’re walking down the aisle to our seats, Grace says “Mommy, are you going to put any makeup on?”  Oh, the honesty of children.  Everyone that heard her (and of course, a lot of people did) started laughing.  How embarrassing!  Oh, well, we were on the plane and ready to go!  Despite this rocky start, we had a wonderful vacation.

Our hotel was right on Riverwalk.  It was beautiful to walk along the river.  We ate dinner on the Riverwalk every night.  We took a boat ride and found out a lot of the history of Riverwalk and saw all of the great shops to go on – which of course we had to go back to during our stay.

We went to SeaWorld.  I remember going to the one that was in Ohio when I was a kid, and this one was awesome just like I remembered.  Grace loved every part of it.  She went on her first roller coaster ride, which we had to go on three times.  She loved all of the shows with the whales, dolphins, seals, etc.  Grandma gave Grace some money to buy whatever she wanted while we were on our trip.  Grace picked out a stuffed Shamu and a Shamu purse.  She was so excited to be spending her “own” money.

We had gorgeous weather the whole time we were there.  It was sunny and in the 80s.  The hotel had two pools.  One was a rooftop pool at the 22nd floor.  There was also an inside pool on the 12th floor.  Grace had to go swimming everyday.  Mostly we were in the outside pool, but we had to at least try the inside pool once.

The flight home was perfect.  We were on time!!!  We got back to the airport, got our luggage, and headed to out car.  That was when we realized that we had no idea what floor we parked on since we were in such a hurry trying to catch our flight out.  The parking garage had 8 floors!!!! We walked every single floor, toting our luggage, trying to find our car.  We finally found it on the last floor that we looked!!!  Then we paid the outrageous fee for parking so close!  Oh, well, we had a safe and wonderful trip!


February 2012

Well, I’m way behind again!  I actually wrote this post last February and we’re just getting around to putting it up now.

I’ll go all the way back to last Halloween to catch up!  Grace loved Halloween.  She had a party at preschool as well as a party at daycare.  She had two costumes.  One was Cinderella shown in the photo.  This is the one that she picked out.  She wore this to preschool and to go trick-or-treating.  My cousin, her husband, and Baby Wes all came over to our house for trick-or-treating.  I stayed home and passed out the candy.  Everyone else went out for the treats!  Grace got way too many treats!  We kept them around the house for about a week.  Then I took it all into the teacher’s lounge.  It was gone in a flash!  Her second costume was an ice cream cone.  It was so cute!  Jeanne (Grace’s daycare) let us borrow the costume.  Jeanne had made it several years ago for her daughter.  Grace wore this costume when Northville had their trick-or-treating at the store downtown.

For Thanksgiving, we went to my parents.  Grace had fun playing with her cousins.  Lilyana is almost exactly one year older than Grace and Alanna is eight.  They had a great time!  The food was great as always and it was nice to have our family together.

Grace has always loved the Knuffle Bunny books by Mo Willems.  We have all three books.  When I found out the Knuffle Bunny was coming to      Theater, I knew I had to get tickets.  It was a musical and this would be Grace’s first live musical.  She did great!  She sat through the whole thing and barely even moved.  She was so amazed by the music, lights, acting, dancing, everything!  Here she is after the show during the Q&A period with the cast. 

Christmas was amazing!  We had been to the mall several times and Grace always asked to stop and look at Santa.  She never wanted to go sit on his lap or tell him what she wanted for Christmas.  I never pushed it, because I just hate those photos of kids crying and screaming sitting on Santa’s lap!  Well, Santa came to visit Grace’s preschool.  I was shocked to find out that Grace sat on Santa’s lap.  I even have a picture to prove it!

This was a bit difficult for me this year.  We had decided that we wanted Grace to wake up Christmas morning at our home.  I have never had a Christmas when I wasn’t at my parents’ home.  It just didn’t feel right for me to do it any other way.  So my whole family came here.  My mom and dad came Christmas Eve and we went to our church here.  My brother, nephew and cousin came on Christmas morning.  It was nice to have everyone here and together!  It wasn’t the same, but everything went well.

Grace only asked Santa for two things.  She wanted a CD player.  The kid has a MP3 player – why would she want a CD player?  Well, they have one at preschool that they especially use during circle time.  Grace plays circle time constantly at home, so she needed a CD player in order to play circle time correctly!  The second thing that she wanted was a bouncy seat for her babies.  Grace’s babies are very important to her!  She is so good with them.  She rubs their backs and holds them so gently.  Santa was very generous to her and got her both of the things that she asked for, as well as some other wonderful gifts also!

We celebrated Christmas with Greg’s family at Greg’s sister’s house.  We went the night before to stay with my parents, then went to Aunt Diane’s in the early afternoon.  Grace had a ball being spoiled by her cousins Daniel and Thomas!

Grace started swim lessons in January.  She goes once a week.  The first week was difficult.  There were tears.  She didn’t want to go by herself, even though Greg and I were both sitting in chairs watching about six feet away!  She ended up loving Ms. Lindsay and the lesson and was happy to go the next week.  But then we found out that Ms. Lindsay was subbing for the regular teacher!  So…we had to go through it all over again the next week.  Luckily after the initial separation from us, she realized that she liked Ms. Chris!  Grace has done great in swimming lessons.  She has come so far in these six weeks.  We just started up another six week session.  The kid is a fish!

Greg’s nephew was in a musical (Smokey Joe’s Café) at a community theatre in Lansing.  We decided that we would take Grace with us.  She had done great at the Knuffle Bunny musical, but that was only about an hour long.  Smokey Joe’s Café was two hours long.  Grace absolutely loved it!  She sat through the whole thing – except when she was dancing to the music or singing along to the songs! 

Grace continues to be a “60’s-on-6” girl from listening to the satellite radio in my car!  A couple of weeks ago, we had just finished dinner.  I was doing dishes and Grace was still sitting at the table.  All of a sudden, she starts singing ‘Wild Thing.  You make my heart sing.  You make everything groovy.”  Greg and I both just about lost it.  It was so cute!  Some of her other favorites include:  These Boots are Made for Walkin’, I Got You Babe, Barbara Ann, I’m Telling You Now. 

Preschool is going well.  Grace is learning so much!  She’s got the months of the year and days of the week down.  She can write her name.  She can recognize and write almost all of the letters of the alphabet and knows the sounds of several of them.  She wants to spell everything.  Every sign that we see, she has to spell out the letters, i.e. T-A-R-G-E-T.  I’m trying to figure out what to do about preschool next year.  Whether I should keep her where she is and maybe increase days or change to a Young Five’s program?