Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Last night Tom and I were going to watch a movie.  As we were flipping channels a Memorial Day program on PBS caught our attention and we couldn't stop watching it.

I sat there, completely humbled and so grateful to all of the men and women in our United States Military and all of their families, who day in and day out do their jobs, keep us safe, and fight for our freedoms.

My life is so different than the life of a military wife and mom, but it is because of those families I have the life I live.

My friend Sadia, her husband Lucas and their five-year old daughters Jessica and Melody are one of those families I'm talking about.  Lucas is a US career soldier who is overseas right now and has been for many, many months.  He spends around 15 months at a time, about every other year, in deployment.  Sadia keeps it all together on the home front, for her girls, for herself and for her husband.  I can't even imagine.

So thank you Sadia, Melody, Jessica and Lucas; and thanks to all the other dads, moms, uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers, grandpas and grandmas who currently wear a uniform or have in the past --- for the huge and difficult sacrifices you all make for all of us.

'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." (GK Chesterton)

Friday, May 27, 2011

finally, mud!!

this spring has been a cold and rainy one, so sunny days that are warm enough to play with water outside --- and make mud houses and mud food for the zoo animals and dinosaurs --- are making us all quite happy!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Preschool Graduation

Preschool Graduation --- what a fun night and a fun milestone!!

Our whole family had the best experience these past two years at North Como Preschool.  The staff were amazing and so many of the other families have become fast friends ..... though seeing the girls in their graduation caps, watching them smile, sing, perform and laugh --- seeing their looks of confidence and knowing all of their achievements --- it all made for a great evening.  My heart was bursting with love and pride, and my cheeks literally hurt from smiling so much.

'Zoe the Almost Preschool Graduate' making her entrance (love how excited the boys are behind her) .....

'Ella the Ghost of Preschool Graduates' making her entrance ....

The Performance ......

Ella and Zoe's very special, super outstanding preschool teachers, Miss Yvonne and Mrs. Charly --- who will always have a special place in our hearts.

Both teachers took the time to truly get to know Ella and Zoe as individuals and worked with them patiently throughout the year.  They helped build their confidences and made sure that school was always fun and a place they wanted to be.  Zoe and Ella are ready for Kindergarten in large part because of their many positive experiences in preschool, and the gentle and loving encouragement and care provided by their teachers.  We can not thank them enough.

The Much Anticipated Celebratory Ice-Cream ....

.... and the final photo of the night.... 

I love my girls, and could not be more proud of both of them.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ballet Cast Party

After we picked Ella and Zoe up from their last day of preschool we headed over to the rec center for their ballet cast party.  Busy but FUN!!

The girls all ate lunch while watching the video of the recital, and they were so excited they got to wear their recital outfits again:

Then they danced to some of the very first dances they learned when they began ballet at the age of three:

Ella had so much fun, and really got into the music and creative expression:

Zoe was totally in her element, and had her own little bodyguard by her side during each dance (friend GiGi, in the purple):

The dance moves during the impromptu dance personally cracked me up ....

And watching Ella ....

.... and Zoe, do their last curtsy of the year brought me right back to two years ago and the first time they did curtsies at their very first ballet class ....  like I said, my mess of emotions started that morning and continued on through the day ....

Ella and Zoe met some very sweet girls during ballet this past year .....

..... and before everyone left class they gave each of their friends friendship bracelets they made for them:

We are so grateful for their amazing teacher Miss Zachari --- she not only taught Ella and Zoe beginning ballet skills and put together an amazing ballet recital, she also provided so many opportunities for the girls to build their self-confidence and participate in experiences that may have been intimidating.  We feel so fortunate that she's their ballet teacher, and look forward to when classes start again next Fall:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

the end of an era ~ last day of preschool

Last Wednesday was the girls' last day of preschool.
Talk about bittersweet.

Zoe's final walk in from recess as a preschooler ....

.... Ella's final walk in from recess as a preschooler.

The girls and I had a good time putting together gifts for all of their teachers.  They gave this fun idea to Mrs. Charly (and to their ballet teacher Miss Zachari):

And this was for Miss Yvonne:

Both girls also wanted to give each of their classmates a little gift.  Ella came up with the idea of painting rocks --- and they both had a great time coming up with creative ideas.  Some rocks were polka-dots, some were random colors that looked like chocolate treats, some had happy faces and some were brightly colored flowers:

Wednesday was a very busy day, and it was the beginning of my mess of emotions.  I am so excited for Zoe and Ella, and all of the incredible adventures that are part of their future.  But I am also feeling selfishly sad.  These past five years seem almost dream-like to me in many ways, and I know our days are going to be really different in the fall when they are in Kindergarten and I'm back teaching full-time.  Different in a good way, but different.  Silly as this sounds, it's hard for me to picture not eating lunch with them every day, or being able to stay in our pajamas and read books for most of the morning just because we feel like it, or going for a walk to the lake and winding up playing at the playground for the afternoon --- just having all the time in the world to just be together.

So my main Summer Goal:  Soak up every minute with my preschool graduates!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ballet Recital

Two summers ago Ella and Zoe had their first ballet lesson .... 

.... and they started to learn what it means to be a ballerina.

Last May they had their first 'kind of recital' at the rec center ....

.... and their individual ballerina personalities started to shine through.

This past Saturday they participated in their first real recital.  They danced on an actual stage, with a tech crew in charge of the lights and music.  They danced to Tchaikovsky's 'Trepak' with their class, and they danced the intro celebration and the cast bows with the full cast.  It was the real deal, complete with about 300 people in the audience.  They had a fantastic time and did SOOOOO well.  It was the best day, and Tom and I were so proud of our girls and ALL of the ballerinas!

Ella and Zoe with their fellow Russian Dancers ....

.... and with Niamh, their group leader.

Zoe was first in their line, along with Niamh .....

.... and Ella was right behind her.

Then these little girls just danced their little hearts out .....

.... right up to the bows and ....

.... the curtsies!!

Flowers from Grama Dianne after the show was a big hit .....

.... but seeing Elise ....

.... and Grama ....

.... and their Dad, ranked up there.

I even got a kiss out of the deal, which was so nice .....

.... and we got a family photo where at least half of us were looking at the camera!

But really, any time Zoe and Ella get to see their Grama and spend time with her is a really, really good day!!