Saturdays

Saturdays for me and Little H look a lot like this…

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…while the big kids and Daddy spend their Saturdays like this.

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JDubbs is coaching both the big kids in t-ball, the reason why we held Jax back to play t-ball one more year rather than go on to coach pitch.  We wanted one year where both Jax and Em were on the same team with Daddy coaching them, in case Em didn’t take very well to baseball.  So far they’ve both been pretty good about it, and I hope they continue on, but if not we always have memories of this year!  Em is always trying her best and Jax does his best to boss everyone around, even kids on the other team!

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They both have the potential to be good enough to play, at least for fun, and I’m glad we will have these memories to start them on their baseball career.  Not all kids enjoy the slower pace of baseball, but playing is in their blood, on both sides.  I think with Daddy there to guide them and Little H and I there to cheer them on, they will continue on long enough to experience all the fun and camaraderie being on a team and baseball/softball has to offer.  There are too many fabulous memories for both JDubbs and me to look back on to hope that our kids don’t at least give baseball a try!  So far, so good!

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I could get used to Saturdays like this.

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Both my big kids have had a great start, thanks to their Dad!  He has had lots of patience and given up his weekend mornings to encourage them and help them feel successful and proud!

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They make quite a team!

 

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Batting Practice

The minute the sun decided to come out of its slumber, and the grass turned the slightest bit greener, the kids, JDubbs and I were ready to stop hibernating and start living again.  With t-ball right around the corner, Jax started growing antsy to start practicing his skills.  So we took the kids to the local baseball diamond and savored every second of it.

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At first the girls were more interested in being cheerleaders than participants, but we eventually won them over.  Life isn’t about being a bystander, after all.

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This particular boy is so no bystander; he is always eager to get out there.  Always eager to get better at everything he does.

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And he’s getting pretty darn good!  Come on, girls, your turn!  Batter up!

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Em might be a pretty good hitter, but she frolics along the base path like the ballerina she is.  It’s a joyful sort of way to move, and I hope she never loses it, no matter how many outs she makes.

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Little H doesn’t dance around the bases; she has and always will hustle.  She hustles through life and knows what she wants.  Two different girls, one crazy boy, and a life that is full of practice for all of us.

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 We just have to keep on hustling, keep on dancing, and stay eager for every season.  Play ball!

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Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me Happy

Spring appears to have finally arrived in our corner of Vermont, just in time for a lovely, low-key vacation wrap up.  Sunshine has two possible effects on me: complete and utter laziness or a compulsion to get out and explore.  This weekend we had a little bit of both.

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I finally found the motivation to get out for a run (see the good effects the warm weather has on me?), and when I came back, all I wanted to do was bask in the sun’s rays.  The kids thought that was the perfect way to spend some quiet time, so first we pulled out a blanket and a basket of books for some independent reading time, and then moved on to “cooler” activities.
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A bowl full of water that they get to refill with the hose, some paint brushes and a dry deck as their canvas.  Instant art with no clean up!  Plus I was still able to supervise in the sunshine.  Ah, glorious spring!

The next morning we had a bit more motivation.  I had run the day before past Dewey’s Pond and by the scene of one of my kids’ muddiest adventure and thought it was a good excuse for the kids and I to get out and explore.  I loved listening to their words and observations, and it was clear that they have learned so much in school about the world around them.  Jax was comparing the ripples the rocks thrown in the pond to “sonic waves” and they both were looking for signs of springs and animals.  It was a slow walk, stopping to look and consider and explore, but it wasn’t about cardio that day.  We were all about being out in the world in the sun.

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One thing I couldn’t help but notice about my little Em was her constant climbing! She climbed every rock and tree, even in her new dress! I think it has a lot to do with her forest classroom where she spends one day per week.  She is definitely not timid about being outside and testing her limits!  I was really proud to see my almost six-year-old blooming.

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Don’t let this guy fool you, either, though.  He had plenty to say and share–he loved looking for birds, and even insisted on calling Papa to figure out what species of bird was all around us.  Of course, Papa knew–red-winged black birds!  They followed us along on our walk.

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That afternoon was spent grilling dinner at Lake Pinneo, spending our first day of the year at the beach.  Even though we knew the water was going to be freezing with snow runoff, I brought bathing suits, just in case.  Good thing I did because the kids couldn’t resist the call of the water, and we made it home just in time for baths and bed to recuperate from a busy week!

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What a weekend!  What a week!  What a summer we will have!

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Winter Cell Phone Photo Dump

As the winter fades, so do these bright memories of quiet, indoor life together as a family.  That’s my favorite part of winter–the togetherness.  Soon, their excitement to spring out the screen door to explore the woods in the sunshine will outlast any tantalizing treat I could conjure indoors, and why would I try?  They’re growing, exuberant, vibrant, and can’t wait to have room to stretch and run and flourish outdoors.  Spring is here, and the quiet peace that comes with winter is fading fast.

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I hardly ever remember it while it’s happening, but there is a reason the Earth has a quiet season…to survive, to contemplate, and appreciate.  That’s what the winter is for me.  To huddle close, savor, and remember that every season is dear.  The quiet moments are just as important as the loud ones.  Grateful for our quiet season, but looking forward to see it go!

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Penguin Peg Dolls

Jax, my budding young ornithologist, loves birds–specifically owls, and because of his recent school study on penguins, they are high on his list, too.  When his teacher and I brainstormed a list of possible ways to extend his learning for enrichment, she came up with the idea of doing a diorama based on a species of penguin we saw at the New England Aquarium in February, one that he didn’t learn about in school and one he could share with his classmates.  Thus, penguin peg dolls were born.

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The kids and I took what felt like forever at JoAnn Fabrics, trying to come up with the best way to create a model penguin.  When we saw the wooden peg dolls, however, that we have used for so many crafts in the past, I knew we had found our medium.

I traced the outline between the black and white parts of their bodies on the peg dolls with pencil.  Then Jax colored them in.

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After finishing the bodies, we worked on the eyes, beaks, and wings.  We didn’t bother with feet.  They came out super cute in the end!

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Jax and Em had a lot of fun while she cut out an amazing house out of card stock and he was writing interesting facts on African penguins for his presentation.  These two always crack me up, and each other, apparently!

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I’m so proud of my little rockhopper!  We got to see his class’s presentation on penguins yesterday morning, complete with singing, dancing, and my little guy’s awesome emperor penguin, drawn to scale.  The kindergartners, second graders, parents and teachers were all there cheering them on, and then we walked around to hear the “experts” tell us all about their chosen penguin.  It was really impressive, especially all their enthusiasm.  I love when schoolwork ignites a fire inside a child’s imagination.  It certainly has in the case of Jax.

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And his sister, too, it looks like!  She looks so interested and proud!  Next year she’ll be the one in the penguin hat, and I bet she is counting every second!

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Studio Fever

This weekend we had such an incredible opportunity, provided by the Artistree Community Arts Center in Pomfret, Vermont.  Jax, Em, and I attended Studio Fever!, where we had the opportunity to literally paint on the walls of an art gallery!  They covered the walls in fresh canvas and welcomed the public to create their own art using various media and decorate the space.  It was absolutely beautiful and inspiring!

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Em and I had been planning on attending since I heard about it, but Jax was a harder sell, not considering himself an artist naturally.  He eventually agreed to come, somewhat with mixed feelings, but once we arrived, he was as enthusiastic as she was.  My little brain became an artist for the morning; it was quite a change, and nice to see.

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The kids didn’t have a plan, and for once, I didn’t try to overthink it.  Here are your paints, here is your canvas.  Just go.

What do I know about art anyway?  It was far better to watch my kids explore their own creativity.

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Watching their styles was interesting, too.  Jax was definitely abstract random, all about shapes and colors and broad strokes.  Em still let things fly, but with a bit more of a focus–random garden imagery.  My favorite was her hand print flower leaves.  Her imagination is extraordinary and lovely.

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It was such a wonderful, creative, thoughtful morning.  I loved watching them work, and creating art together.  My birds, an outline of a tree, her flowers and leaves.  All of us spending a morning making the world more beautiful.

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Even a reluctant Jackson Pollock, who eventually put down his paintbrush to read a book about fifteen minutes before Em was ready to go, but for the hour that the three of us were there at Artistree, I saw brave, bold artists transforming their world.  What a way to start our weekend!

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A Whirlwind Winter Vacation

A funny thing happened on the way to Massachusetts to get my hair cut: a storm decided to unleash its icy fury on Vermont the morning the kids and I were supposed to leave, so my darling husband suggested we go down the night before and stay in a hotel.  Even with all the logistical hassle of staying in a hotel by myself with three kids (such as how to get all the kids and all the luggage in and out of the car during a storm), I knew that an extra night away would make our whirlwind visit to family and the city that much better.  So we found a great deal at an Embassy Suites outside of Boston and the four of us headed south for a February vacation adventure.

Of course, as luck would have it, the DVD player in the van went berserk halfway there, but the kids were so excited to go to a hotel that they took it in all in stride.  I pulled up to the hotel and found a luggage cart right by the front door, unpacked the van, left our belongings with the concierge, and went with the kids to park.  Once inside, the kids couldn’t believe how “fancy” the hotel was, including a glass elevator that we had to ride to the very top floor and all the way back down every time we got in, and a swimming pool and hot tub spa.  And who could forget all the luggage cart fun?

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Bad news was that once we unpacked, I realized I forgot Jax’s bathing suit!  With not even a pair of shorts I could substitute for them, we were off to the mall for a “quick” trip to find some.  It actually wasn’t that bad, since the mall had a Disney store and a Lego store and a thousand sets of escalators (which my kids are attracted to like magnets).  Jax picked out some God-awful Star Wars bathing suit that cost a million dollars at the Disney store, Em picked out some God-awful stuffed glittery princess cat, and Little H picked out a set of Mickey Mouse fork and spoon (thatta girl).  We bellied up to the bar at Johnny Rockets for some classic diner food and were back at the hotel before the snow got too bad.

Fast forward to a nice swim and a late movie and everyone got a great night sleep. The next morning Grampy met us for breakfast and the kids swam one more time before leaving.  We met Grammy for lunch and then the kids went back to her house while I got a much-needed hair cut, and then the big cousins and Auntie Jessie came over to play.  Phew! What a busy day, but so filled with laughs that I could never regret it, even with overtired meltdowns at the end of the day.

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The next morning was the biggest adventure of all! I packed up the car and we headed to the Alewife T Station, followed by Grammy, for an adventure into Boston to go to the Aquarium.  Teaching the kids how to use the subway system was great–they were super into it and loved every minute of being in the station and on the train!  The happiest commuters ever!

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After a short walk we finally arrived at the Aquarium, and even though half the state of Massachusetts had the same idea as us and Jax kept complaining that Boston is “too loud,” it was really worth all the effort.  Jax is learning about penguins at school and loved listening to the presentation, as well as the opportunity to touch sharks and rays.  Em loved the harbor seals and sea lions and Little H actually participated in a small education group about taking care of turtles!  My favorite part was the giant tank in the center of the aquarium, where the kids could watch the divers feed the fish and see all different species.  All different kinds of fun for everyone.

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And yes, maybe the kids whined on the walk back to the T station, and maybe we all caught colds and were squished in crowds, and maybe Em refused to be in a photo with me at the end of the day because I wouldn’t buy her something in the gift shop, but in the end, it was so worth the whirlwind to expose these kids to this incredible city and world.

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And I’ll always have this photo to remember the trip by.  Thanks random stranger for offering to take the picture and then confirming he got a good shot.  You nailed it!

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It’s all in the memories!

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