Tuesday, August 30, 2011

(long) Summer Recap

This past May I ambitiously created a 'Summer To Do List' for our family, and even though we didn't do a lot of things I had hoped to (finishing up our house projects and getting my classroom cleaned took a lot more of our free time than Tom and I had anticipated), there were a lot of things we DID do.  But one thing I know for sure I am NOT going to do next summer -- make a 'Summer-To-Do' list --- mine became a source of too much pressure and way too much guilt.

That said, our summer was a really good one.

Monday mornings Zoe and Ella played soccer -- they were on the yellow team and absolutely LOVED the t-shirts they got out of the deal : )  Their pals Lexi and Holly also played, so seeing them (and their mom Michelle), made it even more fun.

Ella and Zoe learned a lot and played a lot, and I laughed a lot while watching them practice and play.  Their personalities shone through;  Zoe listened carefully to directions but if the ball wasn't by her she would get so busy talking with whoever was kind of close to her, and then she would talk and talk and talk (this has been a WONDERFUL change to see in Zoe -- she still can have her quiet/reserved moments but for the most part this girl is now kind of a motor-mouth).   She also did a good job paying attention when the ball would get closer to her and kick it when she could (or if no one else was showing an interest in kicking the ball), and then during water breaks she would talk and talk and talk to me so much she would almost forget to drink her water and head back to her group.  Ella listened to her coaches too, especially if they were talking directly to her, but she also really got into looking at the beauty of the green grass, or the shiny purple and blue beetles, or looking at what designs the clouds were making, or thinking about where the little white butterfly might land next, or how the goal was made, or if her shoes were tied tightly ....  you get the picture, and then she'd look over at me, give me a big wave and an even bigger smile : )

*watching both girls on the soccer field brought back many memories of when I played softball in Jr. High -- I was older but there are so many similarities, I've always been more of a socializer and daydreamer than an athlete*

When either girl would have the ball they knew what to do and did their best, but they were very polite soccer players.  If someone else had the ball they let that person have his or her turn, even if the ball wasn't in motion yet but someone else was getting ready to kick it -- they haven't caught on to the concept of being a polite yet aggressive soccer player, which is just fine with me .....

During the last class the kids played against the adults.  I was so happy Tom could join us so he could play and I could take photos.

Ella smiling and chatting with her Dad (during the middle of the game).

Ella wondering how the goal was made (during the middle of the game).

Zoe watching as Michelle defends the goal for the parent team.

Zoe chatting with Holly and Lexi (during the game).

Zoe near the ball activity but not quite in it.

Zoe getting ready for some ball action.

Ella getting ready for some ball action.

Go Ella!!

Go Zoe!!

Go Tom!! : )

Team Photo (quite a few kids didn't make the last class).

With some of the coaches.

Being told to make silly faces (the girls didn't know what to think about that at first).

The whole group (with a lot of kids absent) and most of the coaches.

Doing the silly faces again (it cracks me up that they would make silly faces and then look at each other).

Ella high-fiving and accepting her soccer award.

Zoe high-fiving and accepting her award:

Zoe and Ella also went to gymnastics Wednesday afternoons.  Last winter they were in level one and LOVED it, this summer they were in level two and LOOOOVED it.  Their coaches were super fantastic and they had a really small class (usually only 4 girls and one of them was their good pal Mia -- so fun for the little girls to have that time in class together and fun, fun, fun for Andi and me to have time to chat).  I didn't bring my camera to many classes but on the last day the girls made thank you art for their coaches.  Zoe drew herself on the balance beam that is full of hearts.  She also gave herself a blue and violet leotard -- the leotard of her dreams.

Ella drew herself in the pit (you run on the jumpy trampoline part and then land in the pit full of soft cubes).  She also appropriately gave herself green eyes and curls.

Before class.

For the last day the coaches brought the girls downstairs to where the older gymnast's practice -- HUGE deal.  They did lots of different jumps on the trampoline into the pit and they also did a few different activities on the tall balance beam.  My camera totally didn't focus and take pictures very well through the gridded window, but that's Zoe in the blue on the beam (the black is one of the coaches):

Ella's turn:

The BIGGEST deal was climbing the rope though.  Zoe went first and climbed like a little monkey all the way to the top tape mark.  

Ella went last and also climbed to the top tape mark like a little monkey.  Later Ella told me she wanted to keep climbing but the coaches told her she had to come down : )

On Tuesday mornings the girls went to Play Pals where played games, made projects, listened to stories and sang songs to a different theme each week.  They ended with a pirate theme, and they really liked their main teacher, Ms. Beth.  They also both told me next summer they want to attend Play Pals EVERY day : )

Last Wednesday Zoe and Ella went to a morning class Gibbs Farm, to learn about what life was like over a 100 years ago.  The class itself was centered around the theme of  a one-room school house (and one little boy even had to wear the dunce hat because he was talking when he was supposed to be listening!!), but the girls also spent time checking out the farm animals, the different buildings and the teepee area where the Dakota Indians lived after class, when they walked around the farm/outdoor museum with Tom when he picked them.

One of the things we were going to do weekly was have a 'Cooking Camp' in our own kitchen, and make new recipes together.  Our first class was great, we made meatball sub sandwiches ....

.... and both girls gave the meal an A+ (but I accidentally deleted the photo of Zoe sharing her grade).

 The following week we made kind of homemade pizza:

But then I forgot to take pics after it was done cooking ....  and we also forgot to give the meal a grade, though I'm pretty sure it received an A+ too (really, even bad pizza is good, right?).

And even though we had a list with lots of other recipe ideas, that was the end of Cooking Class -- it was fun while it lasted : )

A few other pics from the past few months that I never got around to posting:
Ella and Zoe with their cousins Lauren and Brenna and their furry cousin Sophie, who's from South Dakota and was in every photos we took at our mini-family reunion.  She was held by every person at the reunion too and even smiled for some of the photos : )  

I LOVE this photo of Ella, Elise and Zoe taking it easy while Elise recuperated from having her tonsils out. I love Ella's sweet smile and how Zoe is smiling up at Elise.  The girls simply adore their big cousin, and that makes me so happy : )

This pic makes me smile too -- since these three were really little we have pictures of them standing with their backs to the camera, talking to each other.

Ice-Cream Faces at the Creamy Cone!!!

And Ella my monkey -- I turn around and as quick as I can blink she has literally climbed a wall ....

Totally separate topic, I started Opening Week Workshops yesterday.  I can't believe it's been over 5 years since I last taught in my own classroom and I can't believe the past 5+ years have flown by so quickly.  I am feeling very melancholy.  I love the little girls my girls are turning into but I don't want them to grow up so fast.  And even though being a stay-at-home mom was challenging at different times along the way (harder than I thought it was going to be), figuring out the balance of working outside the home full-time (with a class FULL of kindergarteners -- I have 29 students on my list right now), while still being a fun mom who is present and not exhausted, and a fun wife, and still having floors that are vacuumed at least once in a while ....  is my current challenge.  Plus, I am really going to miss  those lazy mornings, the ability to make spur of the moment plans and the time I had with my girls, just being with them without feeling rushed.

It truly is so bittersweet, but I am so thankful I have a job and that I love teaching -- and I'm trying to keep in mind what good old Dr. Seuss said, 'Don't be sad it's over, be happy it happened.'.

So true.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


These were taken last spring and I forgot to post them.

So glad Cheryl at twinfatuation does 'Way Back Whens-day'!!

We just love Ms. Zachari so much.
The girls have taken ballet with her since they were three and in her Baby Ballet class.  In a few weeks they start Kinder-Ballet and are super excited.  I am too : )

Saturday, August 13, 2011

county fair

Another fun year at the Wright County Fair.
Grama Dianne hasn't changed but the five youngest McLain cousins have all gotten taller.

This year:

Last year:

Two years ago:

The kids were as eager as the Grama to begin exploring .....

.... and once they got the okay they were off and running .....

There was the same white fence to view the cows from.
This year:

Last year:

Two years ago:

And when I asked everyone to turn and give me a smile, only one person listened ....

.... which made me laugh, but then the kids followed directions and the lady realized I wasn't talking to her ....

Learning about and touching the cows ....

and the sheep ....

and even learning why some sheep were wearing funny outfits and head coverings (they had their baths, were clean, and were ready for competition) ....  was all a combination of the same and different fair experiences.

Posing with real princesses was a first.

Feeding the llamas is always interesting (and weird), even when we do it each year:

But feeding the ostrich was a definite first --- and weird and funny too (I kept thinking about Curious George and the trumpet when I wasn't laughing at the faces Zoe and Ella were making) ....

Riding the ponies hasn't changed, they still go around and around the same circle --- but it's still a fair highlight ....

.... but riding Gabby, the 8-year old camel, was a first, was weird, AND was fun!!

We ate fair food for lunch (yum) ....

.... and just had a great time hanging out with family.

But my personal favorite photos from the 2011 Wright County Fair?
When my mom caught this little moment in time -- Luke showing Ella and Zoe the cow poop he stepped in -- I think it's so funny how focused they are on what he's doing, and Erin and I aren't paying any attention to him ....

And this one, where Luke is still cleaning off the cow poop, Zoe and Ella have completely lost interest, but Erin and I have just noticed .....  

Those photos crack me up each time I look at them, still.  And it's been a few weeks since we went to the fair.

Thanks mom for treating us to a day at the fair!!  These memories make me so happy : )