School Open House

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Last night was the school open house. Normally this is a Mom job in our family. Both Anthony and I are very involved with the education of our children but I tend to be the one to take on the communication between parent and teacher. This year however, that became tricky as open house was on a Wednesday evening which is a night when both Anthony and I need to be at church by 7 pm. So we had to divide and conquer.

Anthony choose to go to Ethan’s open house presentation and I went to the girls. When Anthony and I met up afterwards he proudly handed me this star that had been on Ethan’s desk. I love the last sentence, “I am special to my Dad.” I love that he was the one to be there to first see this. Ethan is special to his Dad, and I have a hunch that his Dad is special to him too.

In Natalie’s open house presentation there were quizzes on the desk for us to take about our children. The kids had taken one too and then we were to compare our answers to theirs. One question was what was Natalie’s favorite movie. I left it blank for a long while and then finally just put a “?” in the space. When I opened up her answers she had a “?” mark there too. I guess I do know my child!

And just so I don’t leave her out there was one thing I thought was significant at Bella’s. When I walked in her teacher said to me, “You know I only meet parents for a brief moment at meet the teacher and I don’t know the kids yet so its easy to forget who is who. Open house is where I finally connect parents and children. But, I knew who you were right when you walked in because you look just like Bella.” I think that is the first time anyone has ever told me that. She made my day!

Who’s Number 1?

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At some point during our summer trip Anthony and I decided it was time Ethan get to play a sport. We always planned on it, it was just a matter of when.

When we asked Ethan if he’d be interested in playing soccer he said,

“My dream is coming true!”

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Things only got better when a friend let us have some old cleats that happened to be green, which is Ethan’s favorite color. He was beyond thrilled.

The night of his first practice he was so hyped up to play, be on a team, and have a coach.

He came home from his first practice to tell me that HE had come up with the name for the team. TEAM TIGERS.

Again he said, “My dream is coming true!”

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At the second practice he received his team jersey.

When he got home he told me he got the number he had wanted most, number 1.

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Last Saturday was his first game. The first position he played was goalie, just like he wanted.

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(He saved the goal here. We were proud!)

They won their first game, if you took score which no one officially does.

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And after the game he said it again,

“My dream is coming true!”

I wish it would always be so easy to make his dreams come true. I also want him to make some dreams that are harder to achieve because there is so much to be learned from the struggle. For now, however, I hope he enjoys the little dreams along the way.

Isabella and the Backpack

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Before I get into the 10 facts about Isabella the 5th grader I need to do a little story telling. 

Last year, at some point, Bella discovered Vera Bradley. She innocently told me she wanted a Vera Bradley backpack. I, at the time, was somewhat ignorant to the actual cost of Vera Bradley bags. I told her we could look at them and discuss it. So one slow afternoon we got on the internet and went looking. 

$108! WHAT the WHAT?! 


Fortunately for me, she understood that was A LOT of cash to spend on a backpack. But the desire persisted. So I was thinking this could make a good Christmas present. (If she didn’t mind not getting much else. ;) ) Then one day I was telling my sister about it and she said that an outlet had just opened near her and we’d take Bella there when we visited over the summer. I then did some quick internet searching and found we had one about 30 minutes from us too. 

Bella never begged and that is something I appreciate about her. She doesn’t beg. She understands we can’t get everything …which makes you want to give her everything. (Do you think that is her plan?)

At the outlet in Texas we found the type of backpack she wanted for $60. Now my brain was entertaining the idea. I still didn’t want to spend $60 on a backpack so I told her that I would give her $25 towards a backpack which is about what I would typically spend on it. She would have to come up with the rest on her own. She agreed.

When we returned home from our trip it was obvious to me that she would not be able to come up with the cash for such an expense. So Anthony and I devised a plan. We wrote out a list of 8 chores that we said were worth $5 each. The catch was these were not simple chores. They weren’t things that would be done quickly. These were things that required significant time to complete. (The backpack ended up being more at our Outlet here so she owed us $40.)

For example: One chore was to wash every family members bedding, bathroom towels and bathroom rugs. Then remake beds and hang all towels. *This would take her 6 loads of laundry to complete, not to mention the time spent putting beds back together.

 As soon as I gave her the list she set out a plan. What to do when, how much to do each day and got to work. Because of a few things out of her control she didn’t finish until 7 days before school started and she was awarded the backpack of her choice.  

Here is a good shot of it. She is the tallest. ;)

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I am glad she earned it but, she had better take care of it and use it for at least the next few years!!!

As an added funny part to the story one day as I was telling my mom about this plan she said to me, “Just give her the backpack, she deserves it!” I was shocked. NEVER would my mom and dad have just given me a backpack that cost that much when I was growing up. Ever. They would have done the exact same thing. Just shows what a softie she’s become since becoming a grandma. :)

I don’t disagree that Bella deserved it. If I did she would never have gotten it. But, she needed to earn it. 

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10 Facts About Isabella the 5th Grader

1. Bella is on the school news crew. This doesn’t always mean she’s on camera but she gets the chance to do all jobs in a rotation for half the school year. 

2. Bella made lots of friends at her new school last year but NONE of them are in her new class. But true to Bella she took it all in stride. She said she was sad but that it was a chance to make more new friends. 

3. Bella’s favorite subject is: Math

4. Bella is excited to join the school’s chorus this year. She can’t stop talking about it.

5. Bella’s teacher’s name is Mrs. Mendenhall.

6. Bella likes to set goals for herself in school, and typically she meets them all.

7. Last year Bella was named “Best Dressed” in her class. She continues to own that title. 

8. Bella plans on joining a Harry Potter Club at school. She completed reading them more than 2 year ago but she can’t stop her addiction to them. She even has re-read many of the books. 

9. Bella’s lunches rarely include a sandwich. Instead she prefers pasta salad, green salad, soup, raw veggies and dip.

10. Bella’s favorite TV shows: Liv and Maddie, 19 kids and Counting and What Not to Wear

Look Out 1st Grade

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Ethan is 6. Ethan is now a 1st grader. This kid is amazing, crazy, wild, stubborn and sweet all wrapped into one. 

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10 Facts about Ethan the 1st Grader:

1. Ethan’s favorite subject(s): Science, Art, and P.E. 

2. He also loves music…(he kind of really just loves it all but he says, “I don’t like Math that much because it takes forever to finish.”)

3. His teacher’s name is Mrs. Lozzi. 

4. His classroom is decorated in Frogs.

5. Ethan is starting soccer this year. (This will require its own post.)

6. Ethan is fully able to read now but, he isn’t as into it as his sisters were.

7. Ethan loves to get non-fiction books about animals, vehicles and space. 

8. Ethan wants to be a “worker in a lab” when he grows up.

9. He has terrible hand writing. This is the way I see it – Left handed + boy who can’t sit still = Bad hand writing.

10. Ethan’s favorite TV show: Lab Rats and Merlin

Ethan lives life to the absolute fullest. I wish I had his energy.

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Middle Comes First

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I decided to start in the middle because, why not? Middle children rarely get to go first.

Before I go any further let me comment on the picture above and tell you something about Natalie. Natalie is a perfectionist in almost everything she does. This produces some anxiety in her and at times make its difficult for me to relate to her. But look at the picture above, see the one strand of hair that hangs across her face? I love that my perfectionist child almost always has one strand of hair hanging completely out of place.

10 Facts about Natalie the 3rd grader:

1. She has now moved upstairs at school. This is a big deal to her.

2. Her teacher’s name is Scapicchio….think Pinocchio when you say it.

3. Her favorite subject: SCIENCE

4. She is still playing piano.

5. She is joining the Recorder Ensemble at school.

6. She loves STEM activities.

7. She is having a bit of a time adjusting to the expectations of 3rd grade. Homework should not take that long…but I know she will adjust.

8. She loves school.

9. She is a “friend magnet”. People naturally love her.

10. Her current favorite TV show: Studio C from BYU Channel and Merlin

What I love about Natalie now is that she is still my little girl and is still very happy to be that. She is the child that snuggles up to me when she needs to feel loved but also snuggles up to me when she can tell I need to feel loved. She is very observant to the needs of those around her and that includes both her dad and me. Natalie is a smart girl, she thinks very thoroughly through everything and doesn’t make a decision until she is good and ready. She is constantly teaching me as I observe her. I love this girl!

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Back to Blogging – Back to School

Since I am officially back to blogging I thought I’d start with back to school. It was the last thing I posted before going on a full year hiatus so it seems very appropriate.


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I love back to school. 

(I love summer too.)

New back packs, new clothes, new opportunities, and new challenges. I thrive on this stuff. I’m not saying I do well with all of it. For instance, day 2 there were homework tears (Day.Two.). Can’t say I loved that. But the opportunity for growth and new challenges are exciting for me. 

This year is a bit sad for me though. Its the last year my three will all be in the same school. 

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Bella is now in 5th grade and that means next year she’s off to middle school. Then before Ethan ever makes it there she will be off in high school. Times are changing. 

But for now I’ll enjoy knowing that the three of them are together. It makes me smile to think that big sisters are around to watch out for little brother, or that little siblings are there to cheer on big sister when she’s on the school’s daily news program, and that little waves (or quite possibly some ignoring) happen in the hallways when siblings see siblings. But, best of all I just have one time for drop of and one time for pick up, and if I need to get them out of school it’s a one stop thing. 

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I am hoping for a s-l-o-w year.

(Stay tuned for a post about what each one is up to this year as the week goes on.)


Inspiration, Motivation and a Birthday

This past Thursday as I was walking through the house something caught my eye. It caught my eye enough for me to pull out my cell phone and take a picture of it.

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It was Bella’s room. My now 10, almost 11-year-old. At first glance it is a tween’s room. The signs of any remaining childhood are become less and less in here. But, what caught my eye today sat dead center on her bed. Buddy Bear. She received him for her first birthday from her Aunt Jeri. She loved him then and called him “Bu Bear” because at that age she couldn’t pronounce Buddy. The fact that she still loves him now is one of my favorite things about her because just like her room when you look at her the signs of any remaining childhood is diminishing quickly. So quickly it hurts.

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Snapping that picture of her room, then posting it to Facebook sent me on a search for a picture of her and Buddy Bear from 10 years ago. It sent me to a blog I used to update frequently. I never did locate the picture I wanted because it turns out it was taken before my blogging years. But the search resulted in my spending a good hour reading through posts and realizing how much of my children’s younger years I had already forgotten. I was suddenly so grateful for that blog that I had seemingly long since forgotten.

But really what it did was both inspire and motivate me. It inspired me to start again. It inspired me to live more thoughtfully and to record my thoughts. It motivated me to make a goal to keep it going. I am motivated because I don’t want to forget things. I want to remember that Ethan used to scream every time we prayed, I want to remember that Natalie slept with a banana, and I want to know what Isabella prayed for when she was two. And just because they’re not tiny and always with me now doesn’t mean there aren’t stories that I will forever treasure. I am all too aware that this phase of our life with children in our home is temporary and it is a phase of life I want recorded.

So are you thinking…but what does this have to do with a birthday? Well, today is my mother-in-law’s birthday. I had been thinking all week that for her birthday I should finally pull out my big camera and get the pictures I took this summer off and at least send her one of all her grand-kids…b/c it was now over 2 months ago and I’ve been that lame. That would be a great birthday gift, right?

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There you go. Happy Birthday.

I love you more than waiting 2 months to get a picture to you that you asked for. Unfortunately sometimes our amount of love doesn’t come through in our actions. But, you know that me starting to blog again means me taking more pictures again…which in truth was another inspiration/motivation for it all. Happy Birthday.

First Day, ALL Three

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So all 3 of my kids started school today. Bella is in 4th, Natalie, 2nd and Ethan Kindergarten. What’s a mom to do?

We had so much fun taking pictures with our apples that we left almost 10 minutes later than I planned and because of the first day “crazy” that always happens with EVERYONE driving their kids…we were almost late to school. I got Ethan to class just as the final bell rang. Phew! (Not that they would have counted us tardy…there was still probably 30 minutes worth of cars coming through the car line. It was nuts.)

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Mother’s Day Video


A Facebook friend posted a video with this song on it. As soon as I heard the first lines of the song my heart was beating fast, and my emotions were taking over. It rings so true for me and after this crazy week of being Mom – and all the craziness that can come with that – I needed this song. I needed this reminder.

I couldn’t help myself, instead of doing the thousand things I ought to have been doing I stopped and walked down memory lane as I made this video.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Showcase of Citrus

One of my favorite things about living in Florida is it seems adventure isn’t hard to find. You don’t have to look very hard to find a fun afternoon or a new experience. I happened upon a Groupon a month or so ago for an Eco-tour monster truck ride at the Showcase of  Citrus. I have always wanted to take the kids to pick oranges and it was something we hadn’t done, and I knew Ethan would be thrilled with a monster truck ride so I decided it was the perfect adventure for Nana’s upcoming visit. I was right.


It was about a half-mile walk to where the oranges were ready for picking. We started off with the kids in a wagon, but we ended up ditching that at the side of the trail. It was more work than help. 

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Once we got to the part of the grove where we could pick Bella found the state flower – the Orange Blossom. It smelled just like you might think it would. :) We stopped and googled how to know which oranges were the best for picking and then we got to it.

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We picked 2 bags before we were done.

They are actually a bit difficult to pull off the vine, but we learned that twisting first did the trick.

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Then it was time for the monster truck, or bus.

And seriously, this thing was huge (and bumpy).


The ride was really fun, and lasted over an hour.

Ethan and Natalie even got to drive a little bit. I think it is a highlight of Ethan’s life – to date.

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Near the end of the ride we drove up to a bunch of cattle and the driver had a box of fruit to feed them. Who knew they ate oranges? As soon as the bus pulled up they gathered around and they chowed down. When they would bite into the oranges juice would gush everywhere.

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This is definitely a place I would return again. If you live here, the groupon is still out there. It cost us $35 to ride the monster truck, and a regular adult ticket is $20. (I think the groupon is good until the end of May.)

If you’re not local and want to come visit us – maybe we’ll take you there too.

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