Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pony Rides, Petting Zoos, and Rides!

This afternoon, we went with my mom to a fun Church carnival we try to get to every year. The girls love it!
First up...Pony rides! There wasn't room for both girls on the first turn, which turned out great since both girls wanted to ride the horse with the pink mane!
Jillian kept referring to it as the "purple one" because of the purple saddle.
Next up - the petting zoo!
Jillian was not a big fan...
Luckily, she had Sissy to make her feel better!

Obviously this little ride was more up Jillian's alley!

What does Jillian say?

One of Jillian's favorite "games" to play is "What does Papa/Grandad/Daddy (you get the picture) say?" By the way the correct answers to those questions are: Papa - "Sugar", Grandad - "Tatertot" (since that is what each of them call her) Daddy - "Beeeball!" (he doesn't really ever shout baseball, that I know of, but...) So, I thought I would dedicate a post to some of my favorite things Beans says!

-"Jee-ann hippo, hippo-powamus for hawoweeeen!" This is said especially the first time you see her. She will tell everyone. Me, Neal, grandparents, people checking us out at the store, friends that we run into, our pastor who happened to be on the phone at the time, etc, etc, etc. This all started a few months ago when Meredith asked her what she wanted to be for Halloween. Jillian decided then and there she would be a hippo. There is no changing her mind.

-"Jee-Ann Mae kicut (haircut). It's nice. Pretty." Then she goes through everyone else that she has ever met and asks if they got a "kicut" too. Then tells me that their hair looks nice and/or pretty, too. Apparantly, I was very insistent that her hair was "nice" after her recent trim!

-Jillian loves Dora, so we hear lots of Dora quotes around the house. This especially includes things about Swiper. "Swiper is a sneaky fox!" can be heard when there is no sign of Swiper. And she loves to pretend to be Swiper, and say "You'll never see mama now! HA HA HA!" It is somewhat funny. I think?

-Since starting school, Jillian has not only been really excited about being there, but also about being at Sunday School. She comes out and say "I had fun! NO PUSH!" So, she is learning to have fun and valuable rules! Now I wonder, is this a rule that is emphasized to her or to her?

-One of Jillian's favorite past-times lately is setting up a baby doll or stuffed animal in the baby high chair, then serving them a piece of play cake. She then sings them a very passionate version of "Happy Birthday" and then pretends to blow out the candle for them. Then every time, she runs through the house shouting "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Baby biwt-day! Baby blow!"

Ladybugs Soccer

It is time for soccer to start back up for the Ladybugs!
The girls rallying pre-game!
My favorite Ladybug
She wanted to make sure I took a picture of her back!
Patiently waiting exactly where the coach told her to while on defense.
Jillian loves soccer and getting to play with her very own ball!

Zoo School

As a special perk for Meredith's last year of pre-school, we decided to enroll her in Zoo School one day a week. The class sounds really fun - it includes a zoo hike and an animal visitor each class plus the kids learn about different animal habitats.

Meredith in a cool giraffe shirt for her first Zoo School day!

All About Meredith

For Meredith's second week of school, she got assigned an "All About Me" Big Book project. First, I had to poll my teacher friends to find out what a Big Book was. Then we started brainstorming. She of course, wanted a turtle-shaped book and then we talked through all the information she wanted to tell her friends. Luckily, the book turned out really cute and she and I had lots of fun. It really didn't start off that way. I stressed out way too much over a Pre-K project - how was I going to cut out a turtle? what should the pages be made of? how big should it be? Then, as we were assembling it, I had a hot glue gun set up on the floor (which just sounds ridiculous written out) and when Meredith excitedly came over to pick out paper to put on the pages and she sat her knee directly on it. I felt awful. She retired to the couch for the rest of the night and came up with lots of rules for me using the hot glue gun in the future. Luckily, we were able to get the book done and had an adorable finished project and she told me she had fun doing it together. Of course, she still points out the wound, but hopefully the emotional scars are healing! :)
Meredith's favorite page! It shows a map of where she has traveled, pictures of her favorite trips, and a picture of her first plane ride. Meredith also decorated each of the turtle's faces - this one has Mickey Mouse ears.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Milestone sans pictures

I'll save you pictures on this one, but I want to brag on Miss Jillian. After realizing I had like 3 diapers in the house one day and succumbing to "pressure" from Daddy, about 2 weeks ago, I decided to try to potty train Jillian. I really did it one day hoping that she would not take to it, then I could tell Neal I tried and move on for awhile (I haven't admitted this to him yet, so I am sure he is getting a kick out of reading that little tid bit!) But, to my surprise (not because I didn't think she could do it, I just didn't think she would), she did a fantastic job staying dry - and not only that, she would tell me when she needed to go, not just go when I told her to! We stayed at home the first two days, but then we had the marathon day that was Meredith's birthday. I stuck her in diapers for that day and thought I would probably take a few steps back, but instead, she would just tell me she needed to go and would! Even in weird public restrooms!

We are still working out the kinks - I will spare you details, but she can stay dry all day, we just haven't quite conquered other things...if you get my drift. And since I am sparing you pictures of this, I will share with you a few little stories of her during this because it makes me laugh!

So, when she sits on the potty, this is what she will tell you...."Issss comes!" Then her jaw will drop to the floor with her eyes smiling like crazy as she starts to go. I know that was probably the look I gave her the first few times, so now she keeps it up! Especially since we laugh when she does it, she does it even more now.

But there are times when she tries and can't go, and this is what she will tell you..."Isssss comes!" Then she gets a really concerned look on her face and says "Is not wowkin!" Again, she now laughs when she says this because she knows we think it is hilarious!

A new one she added, I think courtesy of her Sunday School teachers (that told me that the first time they took her they told her to listen for it) she now puts her little hand up to her ear and say "Hear it?"

Man, love that her going potty can be as much fun as she makes just about everything else!

The Tale of a Cool Cat and a Little Lamb

Last Thursday was the first day of school - and this year, Jillian got to join in too! Going into this school year we had some big decisions to make. First, we had to think about if it was the right time to send Jillian to school. Meredith didn't start school until she was three, but she had been to day care and had also spent time with Aunt Sandy while I worked. So, we decided for lots of reasons, that school would be a great thing for Jillian this year. We are excited for her to learn to love independence from me (she always enjoys times at church or wherever even if I am not there, but she still protests going) and for her to get the benefit from other people teaching her. But the biggest decision we had to make this year was related to Meredith. The cut-off for Kindergarten is September 1, which means that she was eligible to go to Kinder this year, but that she would be the youngest in her class. We have known this is a decision we would have to make from the moment she was born and we have not taken it lightly as we have thought about it over the years. We weighed how she would do next year, of course, but also how she would do 3 years and even 12 years down the line. When it came down to it, sending a little girl, who would only be 4 for a good week or so of Kindergarten seemed crazy to me. Even crazier, is sending a 17 year old to college. We felt like giving her another year would help her to become a leader of her class and give her the confidence she needs to excel throughout her schooling. And when it came down to it, this decision gives me the opportunity to have her home with me a little longer - so a win-win, right?

Ok, so on to the first day!
My two big school girls! How excited they both look, right? Well this was many, many takes into the morning...
An outtake - this is mostly what Jillian had for me that morning!
Or there was this one. Morning is looking good, huh?
Jillian was most excited that she got to officially use all of her new gear (although she is a pro at her nap mat - she now ONLY sleeps on it.)
Meredith has been really excited to be a Cool Cat this year! She has two really amazing teachers, Mrs. Mays and Mrs. Guice. I have heard such great things about this class and these teachers! I met with Mrs. Mays last Spring to talk through our decision for the year and she was so great helping me through it.

I realized at meet-the-teacher day, that Meredith was actually a little nervous about her new class. Last year, her class was full of her old friends, but this year, she really didn't know any of the kids, so she was feeling a little "shy." I read a friend's blog, who got a bracelet for her daughter's first day of Kinder to remind her of her family, so I decided to try something similar. We bought a little fabric, then I wrote notes on the strands ("mommy is praying for you", "Philippians 4:6" - a verse I was working on teaching her, so she would remember to pray when she was nervous, etc.) then braided the pieces together. Then we made one for me, for daddy and for Jillian. Jillian didn't want to participate, but the rest of us wore them all day and used it as a reminder to pray. She said that looking at it helped her when she was missing us and it was a good reminder to me to keep praying for both my little girls, so it was a success!
Showing off her bracelet that she and I made together.
No picture taking opportunity would be complete without a silly face!
Jillian is a Little Lamb (but if you ask her, she tells you she is a Hippo). Her teachers are Ms. Nelda and Ms. Erica. They are both very sweet and patient. I actually knew them from 2 years ago when I picked up my friend's little girl from their class, so that has helped me to feel really great about sending my baby off! The other really great part of her class is that her bestie, Caleb is in class with her. His mommy and I had a little hand in that, but it has been really great for them (or at least we assume) in transitioning to school)

Hope you got what you needed, mom, cause I am ready to take my stuff and go.
Daddy joined us for the day!
These are their cute new backpacks with their names and their favorite animals (a hippo for Jillian and a turtle for Meredith).

Both girls did great at drop-off - Jillian cried some, but went much more willingly than I expected and Meredith really didn't show any signs of nervousness. The drop-off was pretty emotional for me. Dropping Jillian off for her first day is such a right-of-passage into making her an independent big girl (if you read above, this is one of our goals with school, so I want this to happen, but then again....) So I choked back the tears as much as I could in the hallways (I was actually pretty unsuccessful especially when I saw some other first-time drop-off mom friends. I had a fun day planned that started with cleaning some closets. Sadly, I chose Jillian's first, and cried when I found a tiny shoe! Bad idea....but then I stopped so I could go to brunch with my friends whose kids were at school with the girls and it was lots of fun and a nice distraction!

Daddy came to pick-up too, then we headed to Sonic for a treat. The girls both said they had fun, Jillian even napped (which I wasn't sure would happen), and Meredith said she wasn't as nervous as she thought she might be. All were big answers to prayers. As I write this, we have had 2 more days of school. Each one Jillian has gone in more happily and without tears. She comes home excited and telling me about her day and talks all about "Jillian Mae's school!"

The 5th Finale!

After the most birthday celebrations ever, we topped it all of with a crazy exciting day on Meredith's actual 5th birthday. We started off with our tradition of donuts for breakfast!

Next up, we headed to Southlake to meet up with our friends, Anna and Joseph, to go to a Safari Park. As an added surprise, Aunt Sandy was able to come too!
Meredith, riding the robot elephant. No matter how hard I tried, Jillian was not interested in taking a turn!
Jillian (and the other kids too) had a blast in the play area with the balls, slide, and the trampoline
Contrary to what this picture shows, the train was a big hit!
Meredith did a little golfing too.
The kids also got to paint little ceramic figures and had so much fun!

After playing hard, we headed to McDonald's for lunch and Anna's special cupcakes for the birthday girl!

So, this should have been enough for a great birthday celebration, but that evening, I had to go to Zoo school orientation, so I had this bright idea that if we were going out there anyway, we should go early and see the zoo. Both girls fell asleep after we left McDonald's, so I drove straight to the zoo, drove around Ft. Worth some, and then hung out in the parking lot until they woke up. When we walked in, it was almost eery - there was NO ONE there. I have never been there when it was like that. As we started to almost pass out from the heat, I started to realize that we were the only people crazy enough to be out at this hour!
Showing off Double Fives
Silly girl on a turtle!
Posing with the froggy - this is when we learned we were being kicked out of the zoo, which happens to close a full hour before the parent meeting. Yipppeee!

So between getting kicked out of the zoo and the meeting, we found a nice Barnes and Noble to play at for a bit. Then after the meeting, we headed to CiCi's pizza for the birthday girl's favorite - spinach pizza! Daddy met us there for pizza and although, we typically love their desserts while we are there, we had one more stop - YoBerry!
Meredith and Daddy cuddling at YoBerry!

Whew - I am exhausted rewriting that and know why I crashed at the same time as the kids that night. But, for this birthday girl, it was worth it!