Friday, April 29, 2016

Buddies and Olympians!

This time of year is always packed with activity.  With school winding down and spring activities coming to a close before the end of the school year  (which is June 3rd for us - and can I get an "AMEN"?) and all the things that come along with that there's no other word to describe it but busy.

And yesterday was no exception.  Peter's 7th grade class took a field trip to Tanglewood Park with their Pre-K buddies.  I absolutely love the Buddy Program at our school.  The 6th graders are paired up with a 1st grader to get practice being a buddy.  The 7th graders are paired up with Pre-kers and the 8th graders are paired up with Kindergartneres.

The buddies sit together during Mass each week and they do special activities together through out the year.  The little kids really look up to the big kids and the big kids enjoy helping the littles.

And y'all, it just melts my heart every time I see the big kids with the little kids - especially the boys.  To see a big tall boy holding hands with a tiny one (and without embarrasement!) brings a tear to my eye.

The big kids led their buddies through the trails and had a scavenger hunt.  At the end of the scavenger hunt they made their way to the playground and spent lots of time pushing their little buddies on the swings, chasing after them on the slide and just running around and having fun.

Afterwards we headed for ice cream at a local restaurant.  It was a fun time and one that Peter had been looking forward to for a while.

Last night Sarah's seasonal swim program ended.  This program works on improving your strokes, building up endurance, and improving your speed  so that you are ready for summer league.  She did it in the fall and again spring and she's already looking forward to doing it again in the fall.

Last night, Charlie Houchin, who is an Olympic gold medalist came to meet the kids and talk to them about his experience in Olympics.  He has retired from swimming and has created some really cool technology to run swim meets from an app on your phone.

Here's Sarah with Charlie.  She's wearing his gold medal and holding a swim cap that he autographed for her. Her swim cap is blocking part of the medal unfortunately.  She said it was very heavy.

And tonight is our conference championship meet for the track team.  And since tonight is our last track meet of the season and since Sarah is finished with swimming until the end of May, next week is looking wide open.  I think we are all looking forward to a calm week with no after school activities!!! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I didn't mean to be gone for so long but I've been busy!

Well, it appears that I took a bit of a blog break.  It wasn't intentional but it was bound to happen.

Since November, the PTO has been working on our school Casino Night and Auction and the big event was this past Friday night.  I was at school from 8:00 - 3:00 (and some days longer) every day last week. And then in the evenings we had all of our regular things (swimming, track, scouts, homework). 

The schedule left no time for blogging.  In fact, in order to have clean clothes and dinner on the table dialy I had to do a scramble every morning before I left the house at 7:30.  The crock pot was always crocking when I left and the dish washer and washing machine were always whirring.  Which meant in addition to all of our normal evening activities, I had to fold laundry, put away dishes, work on the rest of dinner, etc.  You know - all the stuff working moms have to do on the daily.

I did all of this for only one week and it all caught up to me this weekend.  Well, that and the fact that I didn't get to bed on Friday night/Saturday morning until 2:00am.  This old body felt really old on Saturday when it had to be back at school at 9:00 am to clean up the gym.

Dan headed back to Dubai on Saturday afternoon.  Sarah's science fair group came over to finish their project.  And I tried to get the house back in order.  My plan was to spend Sunday afternoon on the couch in a daze or a doze but Peter spent the afternoon with my brother so Sarah and I headed to Target to buy a few spring clothes for her wardrobe. 

She's outgrown most of the things in her closet.  And not just outgrown size wise, but also taste wise.  She still loves her pink but not so much in her clothes any more.  Nothing we bought on Sunday was pink and I would not have chosen any of it for her.  It all looks cute and I approved of it all but it was nothing that I thought she would have liked. 

We have officially reached the point where I can no longer shop for her.  Every time I picked out something for her to try on, she turned up her nose.  At one point as a joke I held this up:

Y'all, the purple and yellow tassels are actual tassels and not just part of the picture.  She got a huge laugh at the thought of her (an almost TWELVE YEAR OLD) wearing a camel tee shirt with tassels.

Later in Kohls we saw this and decided that apparently large African animals are all the rage in tee shirts this year:

Sarah's at that weird stage where the things in the girl's section are a little too childish and the things in the juniors section are a little too grown up.  We were lucky to find what we found and hopefully she will have enough to be clothed until her birthday when I'm sure I will find myself being laughed at when I dare hold up:

Sigh...I already miss the little one who happily wore pink cotton dresses all summer long.  Now it's camis and geometric print shorts.  Guess they can't stay little forever.

But it's not all bad because the girl in the cami and geometric print shorts is someone who helps me cook dinner, laughs (or pretends to laugh) at my jokes, notices everything I notice when we are out and about (the drag queen, for instance and it always makes for interesting conversation on the ride home) and likes all the same music on the radio (well, minus what she calls my Jesus music).

This week it's back to the follow up meeting, track meet, driving for a field trip, planning the 8th grade graduation dance...and whew - it's no wonder I'm just as ready for summer break as the kids!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Fine Arts Night

Last night, our school held it's first Fine Arts Night.  It was a lot of fun!

The hallway was lined with artwork from the different grades:

Peter's artwork is the grey, blue, and orange piece behind him.  The sheepish grin is because his friend was behind me giving him a hard time about getting his picture made.  (You've got to love 13-year-olds!)

Here's Sarah in front of a sculpture she made.  The kid on top is hers.  Sarah's pained look is compliments of the fact that she really wanted ot get the photo done so she could get back to hanging out with her friends. (You've got to love almost-12-year-olds!)

In the rest of the school there were performances going on at various times through the evenings.  There was ball room dancing, musical instrument performances, singing performances,  and theatrical readings.

Sarah's grade performed an Ecuadorian ribbon dance that was very cool.

And she was also in a group of kids that did a ukulele demo.  The demo was used to show how the Quaver music program works.  It's really cool to see the teacher use the smart board to teach the kids notes, tune the ukeleles and play the songs.  Sarah has really enjoyed learning to play the ukulele in class - so much so that she used her own money to purchase one.

And they also had masterpieces set up that you could be a part of.  I loved this!

The Scream

The Girl With the Pearl Earring.  (We weren't familiar with this painting and weren't aware  that her face was supposed to be looking towards us and not in profile.

American Gothic (This one makes me laugh so hard!)
 There was also a demo of some coding art that Peter's class did.  It was displayed on a Smart board so I don't have a picture of Peter in front of it.  But his class spent a lot of time learning how to code on the computer and how all the code turns into pixels and makes pictures.  Peter said it was very difficult.  I think he appreciates all the work behind his video games now!

And there were a couple of food trucks and the whole evening was very festive and fun.  I hope the school makes it an annual event! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ireland, Day 7

March 30th was out last official day of sightseeing in Ireland.  Our plan was to take it easy as we made our way from Waterford back to Dublin with a few stops in between that Dan wanted to make sure we got to.

 On our way out of Waterford, we saw Reginald's Tower which was built in 1003 as part of the city wall.

We left Waterford and headed to nearby Ardeenlone.  This is where Dan's grandmother on his Dad's side grew up. 
On one of Dan's previous trips to Ireland, one of his distant cousins brought him to see where his Great Uncle grew up and to see the sight of his grandmother's home. 

This is where his great uncle grew up.  And just down the country road is the site of his grandmother's house.  When he was with his cousin (who was many years older than Dan) several years ago, he showed him where the house was.  And all that was left was part of an old shed that was covered in overgrown brush and shrubs.

Here they are at the site of the shed.  That piece of lumber is part of the old shed.

An old car that's still in what's left of the shed.

Dan and the kids went through the brush on the other side of the curve  and actually located some old stone walls that were part of the house.  Dan was very excited by this as he hadn't been able to explore when he was with his cousin.

You can't see them but there are actually walls behind Dan.

After showing the kids their great grandmother's home place, we headed to Newcastle Cemetery where their great great grandparents are buried.

Dan was nervous about being able to find the cemetery so he found GPS coordinates online thanks to a geocaching website and we plugged them in and off we went.

 Here they are in front of the grave.

 The wall behind them is what's left of the old church.

 In view of the cemetery is this stony hill marked with a large cross.

  The view looking down from the hill onto the cemetery and what's left of the abbey.

After we left the old cemetery and abbey we went to the newer one where Dan's grandmother actually went to church.

This is St. Nicholas Church in Ballyduff.  The school she attended is right behind the church. 

We decided to drive through Wexford.  One of the kid's favorite teachers at school is from Wexford.  While in Wexford we stopped to check out Selskar Abbey.

And while waking through Wexford we found this and had to take a picture.  It's spelled with an H, it's pink, and it's an accessories store.  This has MY Sarah written all over it!

After our stop in Wexford we headed to Dublin.  We walked around the Temple Bar area and had dinner. 

 Traditional Shepherd's Pie with veg.

 Traditional Irish Stew with Soda Bread.

Traditional(??) Buffalo Wings.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel and called it a night. 

We flew home the next morning and got back to our regular life.  Dan went to work, Peter went to the Geography Bee, Sarah texted her friends, and I did laundry.  Lots and lots of laundry.

Our time in Ireland was fantastic.  It was better than I dreamed it would be.  I hope the kids have lots of good memories of our time spent together.  But this trip left us all saying, "Where are we going next?"