Sunday, August 31, 2014

August according to my iPhone

To see all the other fun we had this month - check these out!
Jillian thought that she got to do a Slip n Slide at Princess Camp, but it didn't work out, and she was sad! We happened to be at Kohl's after camp and found one for about $5, so I was a sucker for her sad face and caved!  We never quite got the hang of it, but they had fun playing in the water - and tried this technique of pushing each other through the spraying water.

Me and Julie at Tuba Fest - Neal's favorite night of the year.  We got to spend the night with our favorite Plano family, too, and despite Meredith getting pretty sick, everyone had fun!

Jillian has her own sense of style, so I hesitate to think I can pick out clothes for her without her around.  But I saw this shirt one day and knew I had to get it.  She is all about unicorns these days and loves anything with silly animals, so a shirt with animals that have horns on them, I knew would be a hit.  But I just didn't realize how much of a hit!  She would wear this shirt everyday if I let her (and I think when she was wearing it in this picture, she really had worn it two days in a row! Shhh....) She always says she wants to wear it "Because everyone will think it is hilarious!" I sure love her energy and her free spirit that are brought out even more in this pose she chose!

Visiting Grandma after Meredith's day at WOW camp! She had a great time after getting past the first day when she was still sick.  But she was able to go to the zoo, the trampoline park, the museum, and the watermark as a part of camp and loved it! Meredith wanted me to take this picture because she was excited that she is almost as tall as Grandma!

Bathing beauties.

The ALS Ice Bucket challenge was running rampant and Meredith got challenged - she accepted and took her ice bucket like a champ!  Then the girls decided to play Ice Bucket Challenge with their American Girl dolls, even taking videos on Meredith's iPod.  They did this over and over and over!  Later in the week, Neal, Jillian and I were all challenged as well.  So we all took an ice bucket to the head for a good cause!

Celebrating Labor Day weekend at Gigi's with our favorite cousins - all of whom love their goggles!  Isn't Carter cute?

Friday, August 29, 2014

First Day of Kinder and 2nd Grade

Birthday Day for Meredith also meant first day of school for both girls.  I told several friends that I felt that it was unfair that I had to let my first baby turn eight on the same day I had to send my last baby to kindergarten!  Both girls were a little nervous for their first days, but they didn't show it too much that morning.  I was a little sad to be sending Jillian off.  I held it together that day until after drop off, though, so I say I get major points!

Jillian showing off her new unicorn backpack and her new favorite move the "shaky bottom" that she does for different events - so there is the "going to bed shaky bottom" or the "time for dinner shaky bottom", etc.  This one was, of course, the "first day of kindergarten shaky bottom"

Look at that happy girl - no nerves here!

Or here!
Sisters ready to take on Hill!

Jillian, showing off her new locker, complete with a purple star!

Posing with Mama before some puzzle time

Then we were off to take Meredith to her big 2nd grade room!

Both girls had great days - Jillian told me that she wants to "live at Kindergarten" and instead of her previous dream of being a swimming lessons teacher and a zoo school teacher, she now wants to be a kindergarten teacher when she grows up.  She was a little disappointed that she didn't learn to read on the first day, but I told her to give it time!  She was blessed to not only have the teacher I dreamed of, but she is also with a girl she has gotten to be friends with over the past year at pick-up for their big siblings and at their preschool (even though they were in different classes).  We even got to have a few playdates for them this summer.  And one of Meredith's friend's little sisters is in her class, too, so I was so glad to know that she already had 2 friends and familiar faces.  

After school we invited Gigi and Grandma out for some celebratory Froyo!

Can't wait to see how much these girls learn and grow this year!

Happy 8th Miss Meredith Ann!

This girl is eight.  Hard to believe.  I remember finding out that she was on her way. Sure, it seems like a lifetime ago - I was a baby! But at the same time, the years have flown by!  This girl amazes me everyday.  She loves to read biographies and recount the stories of the people she learns all about. She dives into history, and especially loves to know all there is to know about the presidents, first ladies, and their families.  She dreams of going to Washington D.C.  She has a huge heart for her friends and tries to find justice for everyone.  She is sensitive, too, and sometimes things that others say are just a little too painful.  She loves her sister fiercely.  She loves to be able to boss her around and have her way, of course, but at the same time, they are truly, 100% for sure, the best of friends.  She also acts like it is her duty to teach Jillian all that she needs to know.  She wants to always make us proud.  She loves to find things to do that mean she gets extra time with Daddy - so she has fallen in love with the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars.  She wants to be a "kid doctor" and she is going to build her own hospital that also has a church in it so she can give out Bibles to kids that don't have them and teach them about Jesus.  She has her wedding planned out, too.  It is going to be in a swimming pool and she is going to wear a swimsuit and instead of walking down the aisle, she is going to jump off the diving board.  I think one of her first grade teachers summed her up nicely when she told me "I feel like I could hand Meredith my car keys and ask her to go get my oil changed, and she would get it done better than I would." And that is awesome that others see her for the grown-up, responsible, sweet girl that she is. Of course, this means, at times, she takes things a little too seriously and has a hard time taking risks, but I am so proud of how far she has come this summer!  She pushed herself to try out Volleyball, she got over fears in the swimming pool, so that even though she was a good swimmer before, she is a really good, confident swimmer now.  She went to Camp Thurman where there are lots of big unknown things and, even when she was nervous of the big activities, she tried them.  And she loved them.  And she did the same in Colorado.  Sometimes it took convincing, but she eventually tried everything that scared her just a bit and learned that those things can be fun. Now, I pray she will continue to take that lesson with her and let herself have more adventures this upcoming year, all while staying the sweet, wonderful, amazing Meredith Ann.

Celebrating Meredith!

For the past few years, celebrating Meredith's birthday has been a little tougher as it has always been the weekend before school started. This year, though, it was the day school started!  So that led us to planning her friend party early and we also got a little smarter and celebrated with family on Saturday, leaving Sunday a little more open so that we had time to get ready for school.

So, on Saturday, we had a little swim party at my mom's house with Landon and Carter and Katie Wright, Meredith's forever friend.  We had pizza and I made a cookie cake complete with Frozen characters!

We did our annual birthday Hanks girl sleepover that night, too, so we could get plenty of rest before school started.  Meredith picked out a Beverly Hills Chihuahua movie to watch.  The girls saw a preview for it on one of the movies they watched in the car on the way to Colorado and they laughed loudly and hysterically each time they saw it (and they wanted to rewatch just the preview a ton!) It got so loud, Neal and I learned to put our audio book on pause when we knew it was coming because there was no way we'd hear over their laughter!

 Sweet birthday girl cuddles.

Sunday, we headed to church and then had birthday lunch with Bubbie and Granddad (where I took no pictures!) before we did our before school pedis, dinner, and movie night.  Then it was time for a last 7 year old sleep and good rest before kinder and 2nd!

On birthday/first day of school morning, we still held on to our birthday donut tradition!  
 And lucky for me, since it was her birthday, I had a good excuse to bring up lunch, so my first day sending both girls off to elementary school got a fun interruption.  Plus, I found out that their lunch hours overlap, so they even got to eat together!

We barely made a dent in this massive cupcake, but it was yummy!

After school, we got a fun surprise from Aunt Sandy - an Edible Arrangements princess basket filled with yummy fruit to celebrate the birthday girl and the the first day of school.

That night, we met Daddy at BJ's for dinner and (the reason you go to BJs on your birthday!) a Pizookie!

At home, we finally dove into our family presents!

She was pretty excited to get started!  She was a little annoyed we made her wait so long!

Super excited about a new doll set that builds a "mall"

Daddy got Meredith gear to watch Stars games with him!

Sneak a Peek

Of course before we could get to the first day of school, we had to go to sneak a peek!  We were all excited for Thursday night so we could find out which teacher each girl would get.  I had maybe, possibly dropped a few hints to a few people at the school that I would be oh-so-happy to find out that Jillian would have the same teacher Meredith did, but I had no idea if they were able to honor that or not.  I was so hopeful - Jillian associated kindergarten with Mrs. Hoelscher.  She came with me so many days to help with parties and other events in Mrs. Hoelscher's room, so she knew her and her room and her traditions. She couldn't stop talking about the cinnamon tortillas Mrs. Hoelscher made on Cinco de Mayo.  We saw Mrs. Hoelscher at the grocery store and Jillian announced that she would be in her class. So, I prayed and hoped and crossed fingers.  And I tried to remind myself that my plans are not always God's so I needed to be prepared if He knew what would be better for Jillian.  So, with held breath, we walked into the cafeteria and they told us that Jillian's teacher was: Mrs. Hoelscher! And mama said "Amen!" I had prepared Jillian that God and Mr. Day, the principal, might have a different teacher in mind for her, so we would have to trust them.  She went along with this, but I could tell that she equally relieved and excited as I was when I heard her name!

Hugs for Mrs. Hoelscher!

Next up - we headed to the 2nd Grade hall and found out that Meredith would have Mrs. McQuay.  She is the only 2nd grade teacher that I really knew much about and I secretly hoped that she might have her, although I knew she would do great anywhere.  Meredith had heard about something fun that she did in her class just that day, so she was super excited as well!

Meredith and Mrs. McQuay

We also took a few minutes to go visit Meredith's 1st grade teachers to say hello of course, but also because Meredith had the world's loosest tooth that she would not let me pull.  She was convinced that Ms. Thomas (who has pulled her other 2 teeth) might help out and so we left the house, ready for it to be pulled.  But when we saw her, Meredith had second thoughts.  So, we left, me thinking this tooth was going to get swallowed in the middle of the night!  Luckily, Meredith had second thoughts and we headed back to let Ms. Thomas do her magic!

We stopped for dinner after Sneak a Peek and I got a picture of my girls with matching gap tooth grins!
All ready for the tooth fairy and 2nd grade!

Soaking up every bit of summer

We got home from vacation with hours to spare until Meredith's birthday party and then...there it was.  The last week of summer.  The last week of me being a mom to a preschooler.  I was definitely sad and wanting to make sure we made the most of it all!  After working the first two days of the week, we used Wednesday for a special errand....Piper had been away at "boot camp" for an entire month!  We had to board her for our anniversary trip and the Colorado trip, so we decided to use that time away to the fullest and get her a little training.  We all missed her a ton and were so happy to have her home!

After spending a month in an outdoor (but climate controlled) kennel, she was so happy to see her bed and her family!

Then on Thursday, we planned a special day with Meredith's friend, Brooklyn.  We realized late last year that Brooklyn, who was a first grader with Meredith, was living just down the street from us!  We played together one other evening this summer and all three girls had a blast.  So, we invited Brooklyn along with us to the zoo.  Even though it is August in Texas, the weather was better than we could have expected and we were able to enjoy the zoo for almost the whole day!

The girls introduced Brooklyn to the Meerkat posed picture that we send to Daddy every zoo trip.

Silly sisters.

I sent this picture to Neal and asked him what I was thinking.  The two things I most associate with our fun preschool years are the zoo and the carousel - my girls have always loved both and we have spent many days visiting the zoo and probably just as many heading up to ride the carousel at the mall.  So this made for an especially emotional mama, knowing this was one of my last days with Beans before Kinder and just one of the last fun days of summer in general!

The girls begged to go to the animal show - we hadn't been in probably 2 years.  Meredith was excited to get picked to go on stage where she got to touch a snake!

The girls posed with the alligator after the show.

Waiting on the train - another favorite at the zoo!

And no zoo trip is ever complete without a ride on the bronze elephant!

On Friday, we loaded up our stuff, just the three of us and headed to Hawaiian Falls - we hadn't been to a watermark all summer, so I knew this was the perfect last day activity!  Again, the heat wasn't as bad as is typical in August, so we had a really great time - we got to ride lots of rides and just have a fun time with just us three! I sure love these girls and I love summer!

As we wrapped up the weekend, we headed out for our yearly back-to-school tradition of pedicures!  Jillian got purple toes and fingers with pink chevron stripes (of course!) and Meredith chose green with white polka-dots (to match her polka-dot dress she picked out for the first day of school)

Jillian loved "Mr. Tickles" as she called the foot scraper! 

After we got home, we had pizza for dinner while having movie night together as a family.  Before bed during story time, Meredith grabbed Mrs. Bindgergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten and read it to Jillian and used the story to tell her all about the things she would get to do the next day!  What a sweet sister!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

8th Birthday Cubed

Last year we realized that Meredith's birthday falls within a couple of days of not one, but two of her friends from her cheerleading team and Girl Scout troop.  So I got together with Addie and Peyton's moms and we decided we could simplify life by doing a party together for all of those girls! Peyton just moved into a new house with a pool, so it was the perfect location - until there were threats of storms all day Sunday!  We started scrambling for a plan b - we ended up planning a few indoor activities and hoped for the best!  Luckily, the skies cleared and the girls got to swim as planned.  Hooray!

The birthday girls did a plunge together!

Addie's mom made the girls their own individual cakes.

Time to sing to the birthday girls.

Since they looked like 1 year old smash cakes, the girls started being silly!
And there was lots of blue icing all over each of them!

 Next up - a silly string fight!

The girls had a blast with the silly string and the swimming! Such a fun day!

Later that week, we all got together again to go by Mission Arlington.  The girls collected school supplies instead of gifts.  The helpers at Mission Arlington let the girls take the donations up to the school supply room and showed them how needed those supplies were and how appreciative everyone was - then they sang them a special birthday song!  It definitely helped the girls really appreciate what they had done.