Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Girl Scout Camp

The girls signed up for Twilight camp again this past summer. The first night of camp the forecast (and the sky) were ominous. I just couldn’t bring myself to drop my kids off at a park with very little shelter and leave them there, so I took my laptop with me and parked the car nearby. I worked on a paper from my “mobile office,” which was hot, hot, hot! The first night was about planting or gardening, and I took a break from my studies long enough to snap a few pictures:

The second night of camp I informed the girls that I would not be staying for the night’s activities, but would be dropping them off and heading home to work on school work. Maggie’s reply was, “Good decision, Mom!” I wasn’t sure whether to feel complemented or insulted. I’m not exactly sure what the theme was that night, but they came home with masks and something that was either an apron or a cape. I think the theme may have been something to do with drama. Anyway, they each grabbed kitchen utensils and gave themselves superhero names. I snapped a few photos, and Maggie asked, “So are you going to put that on facebook?” I looked at her and asked, “Do you want me to?” She said she did:

Hm. How long do you think she’ll want photos like this to be out on the world wide web? I think the time is ticking away. . .

Sunday, August 21, 2011

We've Got a New Demographic in the House

August is a big birthday month in our family. Last week we went to Texas to see my grandmother and take her to lunch in honor of her 86th birthday.

We had a nice visit, and then headed to my Mom's to spend the night. The next morning we headed to their church - the small town Baptist church where Mom and Mike got married and have recently become members. When they asked visitors to raise their hands, we obliged, and we were given a visitor card to fill out - one for the entire family. As we got ready to drop it into the plate, Jerry glanced at it and started laughing at me. I had checked the age demographic boxes for fourth grade, sixth grade, ages 35-39, and ages 40-44 - one box for each member of the family. Jerry was laughing, since my 40th birthday was six days away, yet I did not include myself in the 40-44 demographic.

Well, I'm in a new demographic now, and I must say, it feels just fine. It actually feels a lot like 39 did a couple of days ago. Although I do admit to looking in the mirror in the mornings at my laugh lines and wonder just when the heck those happened. (Can't say that it bothers me that they're there. I put in a lot of good laughs to get those, by golly!) So, here's my 40th birthday documentary photos:

I had a good birthday. Jerry made his wonderful, marvelous breakfast taquitos (AND cleaned the kitchen!) Next we watched Harry Potter 6, since the girls had finished the book this week. We took a traditional birthday nap, and then I helped Maggie mix up some cake batter so she could make me a easy-bake cake while I turned the rest of the batter into cupcakes. We topped off the day with dinner at Johnny Carino's and ice cream at Coldstone Creamery - just the perfect way to end a decade and start a new one.

The only thing was that after all that food, I couldn't eat the cake! That was okay, it meant that I got to drag my birthday out until lunch the next day. That cake was super special - Maggie put a lot of effort into it! It was three layers:

With chocolate icing:

And sprinkles!

And it was delicious!

Thanks to my lovely family for my wonderful birthday!

Friday, August 19, 2011

First Day of School

Wow! This is practically a blog in real-time! I can't remember when the last time that happened was! Today was the first day of school for the girls. First day was actually in jeopardy for Miss Gracie. Wednesday morning she woke up with a fever and cough, so she did not get to go to her information day event to meet her new teacher. (It also meant that I did not get to go the the same event to gather volunteers for the library - ack!) I took Gracie to the Dr. on Thursday, and he said that since her fever was gone, she was okay for the first day of school, even if she does have a cough that curls your toenails.

We have a new middle-schooler in the house, so the girls start school 30 minutes apart - Maggie now has to get up 30 minutes earlier. Well, 15 will probably do it, because she gets ready a lot faster when her sister isn't there to "help" her and vice-versa. If she rides the bus though, it comes early - 45 minutes before the first bell, so I think we'll be a parent drop-off, if only because I don't want to get up that early. We practiced riding bikes to her school yesterday, so she has that option, but we haven't figured out how to deal with a musical instrument yet.

When we picked up Maggie's schedule last week she was scheduled for both orchestra and band. Not quite sure how that happened, and since I'm only planning on shelling out money for one instrument, she got her schedule changed. She's decided to play the violin in the orchestra, and is eager to get her instrument.

So, this morning the girls posed for their usual first-day pictures by the door. Maggie is ready to walk out, but Gracie still has 30 minutes, so she didn't have on shoes:

And here's a close-up of their bright shining faces:

But Gracie wanted to remind Maggie that, although she may be in middle school, she's still going to be keeping an eye on her:

Ah, sisters.

Jerry wanted to mark the memorable day of starting middle school with Maggie - she's almost as tall as he is now:

And then we were off. The middle school has a double line for dropoff, which is a little nerve-wracking, since Maggie has to cross the other line to get to the school. I took the camera with me, but she escaped into the building before I could get a shot. Then I zipped back to the house to make Gracie's sandwich for her lunch, and it was off to the bus stop. The bus was a bit late, as it always is on the first day, but we found out why the bus route number changed - they have a sparkling new bus for the route!

And now I must get to my own schoolwork. I still have that last assignment from my summer course hanging over my head, and I want to finish it before fall's classes start on Monday. And away I go!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tuition Trip

Once my summer school started I did my usual weeks worth of waffling about whether to drop the course (like a normal, rational, sane person would have done when presented with my calendar of events). Of course, the drop date came and went, and it was time to pay the tuition bill.

The girls and I made a day of it, driving down to Norman and using the free Sam Noble Museum passes that the girls had received when they signed up for the local library’s reading program. They had a scavenger hunt for the kids that day that led us through a temporary exhibit of wildlife artwork that was just beautiful. They had to find the number of elephants in the exhibit and things like that. Eventually we made it to the discovery room, which is hands-on and one of the girls favorite things to do. I spied Gracie digging for fossils and quickly snapped a picture:

Just because I knew I had taken the same picture in 2007, when Gracie chose to visit this museum for her birthday. Here’s that picture:

Hard to believe it’s been four years since we moved here. Another couple of years and we’ll set a new record!

Next we had to stop by the mammoth statue and stage our photo of being squashed. The girls were really into it this time, with Maggie, as usual, taking the award for dramatic performance in the role of girl squashed by mammoth:

After our museum visit we headed to the student union where we had to visit three different food kiosks for everyone to be satisfactorily fed. The girls love food courts. They think it’s great that we can all get what we want without having to argue about where to go. Next we headed to the Bursar’s office, where I paid the equivalent of a small country’s GNP for the privilege of having a completely stressed out summer. We walked around a bit after that, checking out the fountains, statues, and squirrels, all of which are found in abundance on the OU campus. Here’s Gracie petting a sheep statue outside the library:

So, for a day that I had to shell out a lot of money, it wasn’t all bad. I had a great time with the girls, which was something that was to be in short supply for the next seven weeks or so. And I love spending time with my girls!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Island Time

Jerry and I had our fifteenth anniversary this May. We decided last year that we would do some type of trip, but until a couple of weeks before our trip we hadn’t decided exactly what. We consulted our friends, family, and guide books, and decided on St. John, US Virgin Islands for its natural beauty and laid back pace of life.

After a flight through Atlanta to St. Thomas we took a ferry to St. John, directly to our hotel, the Westin St. John. We disembarked the ferry, got our key, and headed to our room, but met another couple at the door! Turned out that we had been upgraded to a beachfront room since we were celebrating our anniversary! When we finally got there we were very pleased – here’s our view:

The hotel manager also sent champagne and chocolate covered strawberries to our room, along with a nice note congratulating us on our anniversary. We pretty much crashed the first evening, and took our time breakfasting the next morning before we met with the concierge to see what there was to do. We decided to take a tour of St. John to get the feel of the island before we scheduled any activities. Here we are overlooking the main town, Cruz Bay:

We saw several of the beaches, and stopped by the Caneel Bay Resort, which has some pretty well-preserved ruins of one of the old sugar plantations:

We stopped to get a photo at Trunk Bay, which is the most popular beach on St. John. We talked to several locals that said that the reason it’s most popular isn’t because it is the best beach on St. John, but because the picture taken from the overlook is so pretty, that’s what everyone sees in the guidebooks and wants to visit.

Since Trunk Bay is most popular, it has the most amenities, including an underwater snorkel trail. You swim from buoy to buoy, and there are signs embedded in concrete at the bottom to tell you what you are looking at. We decided to head there our first day, just to get our fins wet. We waded into the water, put our fins and masks on, stuck our head in the water, and were face to face with a stingray. After we followed him around for awhile we headed out to the underwater snorkel trail. It was pretty, but the weather was overcast, so I got a bit cold and headed back to the beach after the snorkel trail. Jerry swam all the way around the cay (the island) and said it was very pretty on the other side. Here we are post snorkel:

Since our snorkel gear rental was for a 24-hour period, Jerry decided to see what was off the beach area at our hotel when we got back. I decided to walk the beach alongside of where he was snorkeling, and we both collected seashells – lots of pretty ones. As we walked back to our room from the far end of the beach Jerry gave me a plumeria bloom, which I thought completed my island look nicely:

The next day we went on an excursion to the Baths, which were in the British Virgin Islands – I got a stamp in my passport! (I had stamps in my old passport, but I haven’t been anywhere since I got my new one!) It was very overcast and sprinkled on us for most of the trip, but the Baths were nice. They were stones, not pools. We didn’t really know what to expect! The next stop was supposed to be some caves to snorkel around, but the sea was too rough, so we went elsewhere. We saw lots of coral, barracuda, and some conch, but they were too deep for us to pick up. Here’s us on the boat and at the Baths:

The next day we decided we were tired of being wet and chilled all day, so we spent it in town, shopping. We ate some island Bar-B-Que at Uncle Joes, which was very good, and Jerry tried a green tea smoothie at one of the cafes that was pretty good.

Our last full day we decided to try the beach that the locals said was the best. There was no road access, so you had to take a taxi or shuttle to a drop-off point, and then hike about half an hour to the beach at Waterlemon Bay.

We staked out our spot on the beach and started the swim to the cay, where the good snorkeling was supposed to be. Along the way we saw lots of starfish, big as dinner plates, all over the bottom of the bay. The locals were right, the snorkeling was great around the cay. We went around it, and then up on its beach for a rest before heading back to the main shore. On our way back we took a bit of a detour and saw a sea turtle, which I swam along side of to get a good picture.

All in all, we were out over two hours in the water. It was awesome snorkeling, but the sun had come out, and I ended up sunburned on the backs of my arms and legs. I had gotten a rash guard shirt to avoid sunburn, but it wasn’t enough. Next time it will be long sleeves and board shorts!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


You always hear that motherhood is a lofty position. I am reminded of how mom-centered our household is whenever I try to sit at my desk and concentrate on schoolwork. Everyone can be occupied with other things, but as soon as I sit down and stay in one place, here they come:

Sometimes the girls will bring their own books with them. In this picture they were enjoying some of the 29 picture books I had checked out for my first children’s literature assignment. I was quite dismayed to find that I had overshot the library’s due date by a day. Ten cents a day adds up quick when you have that many books checked out. I hear it’s an occupational hazard.

It’s not always the girls who want to be near. Sometimes I get another admirer:

Still, if there was any question that moms are important, Maggie clinched it when the girls were playing a while back. They were playing hospital with all their stuffed animals, and Maggie had a list of ailments on her white board with lists of animals affected underneath them:

In case you can’t read it, possible reasons for hospitalization are:
  • Unable to use legs
  • Walking Problems
  • Brain Damage
  • Oxygen Problems
  • Eating Problems
And. . .
  • No Mom.

‘Nuff said.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Very Busy Summer

I can't be sure without going back and checking, but I may have a post or two in the past that was titled the same way – a Very Busy Summer. It seems that each year as the summer draws to a close, I have to put up a post detailing everything that we did the past summer because I was too busy during the summer to post. I would just like to confess that in the past years, when titling my posts, I LIED. I know this, because this was the busiest summer that I have ever had, and whatever I thought was busy in the past, that wasn’t it.

First, we had the end of the school year for the girls. This was a big year for Maggie. She had an end-of-fifth-grade party, and I manned the concessions. It was really interesting to see all these kids that she’s been with since second grade, and how much they’ve grown up.

Next in the fifth-grade lineup was a talent show. Maggie and a friend had decided to do a dance routine from the Wii Just Dance game. They got together and practiced, but they needed the music to play on the sound system at the school, so I went out to Amazon to download the song. Well, I hadn’t realized that the song on the game, which is rated E-10, had been heavily sanitized to maintain that rating. I felt a bit uneasy seeing that the song was offered in two versions – explicit and radio edit. I thought that the radio edit would be the one that is one the game, and after previewing the 30 second snippet available, I downloaded it. Well, IF it was sanitized at all, I couldn’t tell. I had to call the other mother and let her know that our girls would NOT be dancing to that song. The girls had to pick a different song – one I knew its entirety, and learn it quickly the morning of the show. Maggie was upset, but we explained why the song was unacceptable, and she seemed to understand. I hope that when it comes time for her to control what goes into her ears, she will remember these lessons.

Gracie finished out her year with the third-grade’s mini-society. Her group made decorated flip-flops, pencils, and bracelets. They sold out quickly and counted it a big success. She and Sterling manned the table first:

The last fifth grade activity for Maggie was graduation, which Jerry and I attended. Here she is getting her diploma from her teacher, Mrs. Bradley:

They also had an autograph party that afternoon. I showed up for that too, but Maggie told me that I did not need to stay (I think I was embarrassing her) and so I watched the all-school sing along at the end of the day at Gracie’s invitation, and then headed home. Here’s Gracie’s grade – they sang “Surfing USA” by The Beach Boys.

My summer vacation didn’t last long – I started school on June 14 – but Jerry and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary with a relaxing vacation to St. John before summer school started. While that was going on we started swim team, practicing four days a week in the morning, did Girl Scout twilight camp, VBS, Gracie’s birthday party, church camp, and finally, a mission trip. In short, a very busy summer. Let’s see if I can catch everyone up!