Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jillian's first day of school

Just a few days after Meredith started school, Jillian headed back to Fielder Road to start her 3 year-old year as a Rainbow.  She loved school last year but in typical Jillian fashion, decided that she would refuse to go to school this year.  I really didn't make that an option and still insisted we take pictures.  So, she didn't really want to cooperate at first.  But again, in Jillian fashion, she decided to be her sweet self when she was ready.

 After I noticed her gesture in this picture, I decided this summed up how she felt about going back to school and my insistence on pictures.  I texted this pic to Neal a little later, to which he wrote back "Ha! That's going to be our Beans." We're in trouble.

When non-purposeful inappropriate gestures didn't get her out of the pictures, she tried hiding.

 Then I started making her laugh, but she still wasn't really budging on those hands....

 Hooray - we can see her face. And sort-of a smile.  I'll take it.

 She seemed a little nervous in the car, so I wasn't sure how drop-off would go.  Luckily, we saw her friend, Brady on the way in.  He was going to be in her class, too, so it helped.  She stopped to tell other moms from last year all along the way "I am a Rainbow" - she loves that she is a Rainbow and is even more excited that her room is Purple!
 I gave getting a smile from Jillian one last shot at the door, she decided she would participate this time!
And just like that, she trotted into her room and started showing Mrs. Stewart her Hippo lunchbox.  She is all show!

Meredith, the Kindergartner

My Meredith started Kindergarten just 2 days after her birthday.  As much as I tried to convince her that maybe one more year of pre-k would be fun, she had her heart set on going, so....off we went!  We had been praying about teachers and we were blessed with one that I have heard nothing but fantastic things about since we found out that her teacher is Mrs. Hoelscher.  We are so excited that she will get to spend her first year in big school with this sweet and talented teacher.  

The last few weeks before school started, I had my mind other places - getting home from our trip, preparing for a women's retreat that I got to speak at, planning a birthday party, and even just the little details of school supplies and new clothes, that I really hadn't let the fact that my baby - the one that made me a mama, was now going to be going off into the big world, so I had remained pretty rational about the whole thing.  I even remember being in the car the week before our last week of summer and I had the thought that maybe I actually wouldn't cry when I dropped her off.  That was a Thursday.  The next day, Neal and I went to spend the weekend with our friends, the Spitzenbergers, in Plano, on our drive there, it started.  I lost it - he had brought up something unrelated to Kinder, but it set my waterworks going!  Julie and I comforted each other a bit (since Anna was starting, too) so I made it until we got home. Then it officially started.  Almost anything would make me start to cry.  It just seemed like she was going to be gone from me for SO long, that we would not have time to do things that we loved to do (the reason that I spent a whole carousel ride at the mall wiping away tears - especially when Meredith ended the ride telling me, "Mommy, this is the last time we'll get to ride the carousel together like this!"), that she was now going to have so much influence from people other than us.  And she was growing up.  How could that little baby be in Kindergarten!  So, I planned lots of fun for us that last week, we went out and got pedicures together the day before school started and I just tried to hold it together around her.  She knew I was going to miss her, I just didn't want her to feel bad about leaving me an emotional basketcase!  The morning of her first day, I made sure to get a quick run in, most of the time I choked back tears.  Then we set off for getting ready!  I teared up several times but held it together mostly until we got back to the car after leaving her at school.  So, all in all, I think I did ok. I really am not sure I truly understood the moms-crying-for-kindergartners before, so this year, I have a whole new appreciation!

Here are a few shots before school

 Meredith and I decided to wear our matching green bracelets we made last year for the first day of school.  She was a bit nervous both times to start, so we started by putting everyone in our family's name on a strip of fabric and chose a Bible verse and included it as well, then we braided them.  Each of us had one to wear so that we would remember to pray for each other while we were away.  This year, this was maybe more comforting to me than to her!

Bubbie came over to watch Jillian while Neal and I took Meredith to school.  We weren't sure that Jillian was going to be all that excited about leaving Meredith either, and we wanted the day to be all about Meredith!

 As we walked up, we saw Meredith's friend, Hannah, taking her picture in front of the school's sign - we wanted to get one of the girls together.  Now her mom and I are planning to try to force them to do this for us every year - rolling eyes or not!

 At sneak-a-peek Meredith got to pick her locker - she picked one with a green name tag, of course!
 Meredith quickly found herself a green airplane puzzle and was good to go - no need for mom to stay if you ask her!  
Neal and I stood around for a bit not sure when we should go, then decided we had probably better make our exit before I decided to move in.  Meredith allowed me one more pic with her before we left!

Like I said, I made it out to the car and cried my eyes out, when I got home, I had some sweet friends plan to take me to lunch, so Jillian and I played for a bit, then headed out to meet my friends.  In the car, Jillian looks over at the empty car seat next to her and said "Where is Meriff?" I reminded her she was at school, to which she said in the saddest, sweetest, most heartbreaking voice possible "But she is my sissssttterrrrr.  And I MISSSSSS her.  It makes my heart sad." And I lost it. Again.  I assured her that I did, too, but we'd pick her up soon.  She then asked me about every ten minutes just about everyday that week when we got to go pick up Sissy from school.  Rubbing salt in my wounds. I swear. 

We were all glad to be back together at 3:15 - Jillian and I navigated the pick up procedure, and got to take Meredith and her friend, Hannah, home.  Then my girls and I went out for frozen yogurt.  Meredith loved her class and her friends - she had gotten to play at recess with Hannah (who is in a different class) but got to sit at lunch with two friends she already knew (we found out at sneak a peek that she already knew one little girl who was coming to her birthday party and then another little girl, who Meredith had not met, actually lives down the street from us, so her mom and I worked out letting her come to Meredith's party, too, so it was so great that she already had friendly faces!)

We are so excited to see all that Meredith will learn and do this year!

Happy Sixth Meredith Ann!

Happy Birthday Meredith!

You are such a sweet girl and I am so very proud to be your mommy.  You never stop amazing me - from your ability to just read whatever you want to anywhere we are to your kind, giving spirit.  You are the best big sister I could have dreamed up for my other favorite little girl.  Jillian, is without a doubt, blessed to have you to look up to and love her.  I pray that you two continue to love and care for each other the way that you have modeled for the past 3 plus years since Jillian joined our family.  I love your eagerness to learn about Jesus, and to try to live the way God has asked us to live in the Bible.  Meredith, this year, I pray that you will love Kindergarten, that you will have fun everyday, that you will be adventurous and explore, but that you will always hold onto the gifts that God has given to you - a compassionate heart, a giving spirit and oh so much more!

A few facts about you, the 6 year old!
-You are an exceptional reader.
-Your observation skills blow me away - you pick up on the smallest of details and remember things that I don't even know happened or were said (sometimes this is slightly frightening, but I think you typically use it for good!)
-Since watching the Olympics a ton this summer with Gigi and Bubbie, you love all things Gymnastics.  You decided to take one more year of dance but are determined that next year, you will start training for the Olympic games!
-When you grow up, you still want to have a Pizza shop and you want to be a Hula girl - you are thinking of combining these two into one and entertaining the customers with your dancing.  Daddy and I think this could be a winning idea!  Some other things on your list are that you want to row a boat and be a ballerina.  Oh and let's not forget, you want to be an Olympic gymnast.
-This summer you took swimming lessons and got to be a really strong swimmer and truly loved it all summer long - that makes Mama really happy!
-There is still an avid love of turtles in our house. We could start a turtle museum!
-And of course, you have not strayed from your signature color - green!

Happy Birthday - Chicken Style

After our exciting afternoon, Meredith and I got to Babe's just in time to celebrate her birthday with my side of the family.  She has been asking to go to Babe's for her birthday ever since mine because she wanted to wear the chicken hat, so we made it happen!

 I look so disturbed in this pic, but wanted to remember our table full of family - Uncle Neil, Aunt Katie, Landon, Gigi, Papa, Grandma, Uncle Perry, Aunt Sandy, PJ, and Sarah were all there to celebrate!

And then it was time to be the birthday chicken!!

 A quick pic with Aunt Sandy

After dinner, we went back to our house to open presents with Gigi and Papa and Grandma.  She got one really big surprise from Gigi and Papa - she had wished for McKenna, American Girls' Doll of the Year, who is a gymnast and has a movie that the girls are obsessed with. And Gigi was super excited to sneak out and get her for Meredith on a quick trip to the American Girl store this month.

So surprised!

 Loving on Gigi and McKenna! At dinner, Aunt Sandy and Uncle Perry gave Meredith McKenna's outfit that fits her.  She opened it and was a little sad that there wasn't a matching one for her doll, Rebecca.  We had tipped Aunt Sandy off that this would be a great gift because of the new doll coming - boy was she excited they could match!
 Hugs for Grandma, too!
 Meredith requested and helped to make chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles

Jillian singing to her sister
Make a wish!
 A happy girl with her two favorite dolls! 

What a way to turn 6!

The slumber party portion of Meredith's birthday flowed quite nicely into her birthday morning.  What a blessed girl to get to go to sleep as a 5 year old with your besties and then wake up with them as you turn 6!

Neal told me a few weeks before that he thought that it was the Dad's job to go get donuts on a slumber party morning, and I was all for him taking that job on - and the girls were very excited about it, too!

 After breakfast, the girls all stayed for a bit longer and played and had a great time!  We were very impressed by how each of them did throughout the night and morning!  Great first round of a slumber party if I do say so myself.
That's my Beans!!

When the house was left with just my two girls, we decided to do a little family present time.  
 Both girls have been super obsessed with gymnastics since the Olympics, so Jillian picked out a gymnast Barbie for her sister.

Neal and I decided we wanted to get Meredith some kind of electronic something that she could play learning games on and we ended up going with an iPod Touch - Neal was super excited to be in charge of her gift this year, he bought it and then filled it full of music and games.  

 Daddy spent some time showing her all the cool features
And then she opened the second part of her present- an iPod Touch cover that looks like a turtle - how perfect is that?

Little did we know how handy this gift would be only hours later.  Right after opening presents, I noticed some kind of purple markings on Meredith's legs.  After some research and talking to nurse friends, etc, I called the dr, who was already out for the day.  The nurse told me to just watch for it and if it got worse to go to urgent care or the ER.  Awesome.  So, I hung up, ready to watch the rash all day.  Instead, just 5 minutes later, the nurse called back after having thought through some possible explanations and decided we needed to take her to urgent care right then because of the chance of something that was fairly serious.  Even more awesome.  We hopped in the car, and my scared little birthday girl hung tight watching some movies Daddy had loaded onto her iPod.  When we got to urgent care, they saw us really quickly.  They did decide that she did not have what the nurse was fearful of, but then thought we were dealing with a blood disorder.  At this point both Hanks girls were about to lose it.  They had to do bloodwork (that was supposed to be painless, but they couldn't get her vein to cooperate, so she ended up getting poked and prodded for way too long.) and then we had to wait for over an hour for results.  Again, the games on that iPod were such a saving grace.  Meredith was incredibly worried and I wasn't much better, so having a distraction for her made it much easier on me so that I didn't have to try to talk to her and hide my concern.  The bloodwork came back good, so they let us going telling us that they thought it was just weird bruising.  I didn't buy it, but I wanted to leave and they had cleared us of everything they were going to check for, so I decided it was time for us to go celebrate this birthday girl with family dinner!  As I suspected, the purple marks were all but gone by bedtime and totally gone by the next day, confirming that it was probably not bruising.  We will probably never know what it was, and all in all, we were thrilled to know that she is just our healthy six year old Meredith Ann!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Luau Birthday

For quite some time, Meredith has been determined that she will be a Hula girl when she grows up.  Actually, she is going to be a hula girl that owns a pizza shop.  Which we actually think could play well together, but that is a different story!  So, this year, she decided she wanted to have a Hula Girl birthday party!  It was perfect since Neal and I were so focused on Hawaii already, so we ran with it!  

Her other request was a cookie cake. I decided to make them myself, so I dreamed up a design that included a Hula girl we bought in Kauai and flowers from a lei. I decided we might need 2, so even though I pretty much a control freak when it comes to party details, I decided (after lots of begging) to let Meredith decorate one cake.  I figured this way, I would have mine for pictures and she could have fun with the other one. 

 My cake, I was pretty happy with how it turned out.  
Then, Meredith went and proved me wrong and showed me up with this one!  I helped her to squeeze the icing because it was hard to do, but she led my hand and told me exactly what she wanted - a hula girl (complete with very detailed additions like flowers on her ankles, etc), a 6, waves, a turtle, and "aloha!" After we finished this one. I almost decided to only put IT out because I was so pleased with it and proud of her!  And guess which one all of the kids wanted at the party - yep, hers!  Maybe that will teach me to relax a bit on party details, but probably not!
The party cups I decorated with each kid's name on the front and the Hawaiian version of their name on the back.

 Between some steals at the dollar store and a great tub of stuff my friend gave me, we were Hawaii central!
 Meredith proudly added this.  She heard us talk about pig roasts in Hawaii, so she found her piggy bank and a stuffed pig and put them on top of a paper fire.

 One of our surprises for Hawaii for the girls was a How to Be a Hula Girl movie.  It taught a couple different Hula dances so we put it on for all the girls -they had a blast in the super cute skirts and Leis!

 Seriously into "Pearly Shells"

More hula!

 Time for cake!

 My sweet birthday girl!

A fun game of Limbo

 More dancing, complete with fashion courtesy of Ella.

The Hula party ended and then we transitioned to the next part of the celebration which had been another big wish of Meredith's - her first sleepover.  We had 6 girls decide to stay the night (plus my two).  We weren't sure how it would go since none of the girls had yet to have a friend sleep over before.  We put them to bed with popcorn and a movie, which they loved watching from their sleeping bags.  Around 11, we turned off the lights and the only tears we had were actually from the birthday girl!  Everyone did great - we had no late night runs to houses or phone calls to mamas!  And best of all they had a great time!  We finished it off with donuts the next morning and a little more playtime before the girls headed home!  

Little cuties in their sleeping bags for their first sleepover!