1. This is Maddie's sixth year of school (!!) counting her year of preschool in Livermore. She is excited to have the same teacher as she had last year, and so are we. She still has a ridiculous commute to her building, but hasn't been lost since the week we moved on base last October. Unfortunately, we may only have one chance to have all three girls in the same school and that's only if the next place we move has an elementary that includes sixth graders. For now, we'll do the three girls/three different schools thing for one more year.
2. Gracie had the best kindergarten teacher for her last year, and I was really nervous that this year would not compare—but I think the teacher she drew will be a very good one for her, albeit very different from Ms. S. Gracie has been so excited for school that she's appeared on my side of the bed at 6:10 am the last two mornings, dressed, to announce she will fix her own breakfast and can't wait for school. It was a rather painful wait this morning, as she didn't need to leave for her bus until 7:55.
3. I remember first grade like it was yesterday—it was a good year. A lot of fourth grade, too, though fourth grade was my least favorite year of elementary school because my teacher was a big meanie who yelled all the time and had a desk that looked like it had been ransacked by angry people every night. That was also the year Matt Dishong pierced his ear with a compass while sitting in the desk next to mine. EEEEEEEEK. It was as bad as you might imagine it to have been.
4. On the other hand, that was the year I cross-stitched the title on the cover of my Ohio presidents report. It's never too early to be an overachiever.
5. You'll have to wait until next Monday for Bee's first day photo, because she starts next Monday. She is none too happy about having to wait.
6. I haven't spent a full day with Bee alone since May, and let me tell you: that child can talk. And talk and talk and talk and talk. We had an awfully fun day, but I have to say I am enjoying the quiet house very much tonight.
7. An earthquake story related to school: I've only experienced one earthquake in my life; it happened when I was in Mr. Thomas's 7th grade social studies class at Kimpton. A globe fell off the counter in the back of the room, though the entire thing probably lasted less than 15 seconds and didn't win any prizes for strength. I only bring this up because of the earthquake in Virginia today.
8. The thing no one told me about having three children: the school year is like having a small part-time job for the mama. There are many things to remember and places to be and papers to sign and questions to ask to remain caught up, and I apologize if I wasn't fully sympathetic to this plight when I was teaching high school.
9. I printed the paperwork to send my camera off to Canon for a factory cleaning. My unofficial date for having this done was after the first day of school. I know they made the camera and all, but I'm still experiencing a small amount of panic about sending it off into the world without me. Currently, I'm working up the nerve to actually package it up.
Matt and I looked at each other last night at dinner after we had returned home from our mad-dash-to-Ohio-at-the-last-possible-opportunity-in-summer trip and said something to the effect of: GOOD HEAVENS, how did summer pass by so quickly?!? Gone are the days where I used to spend my summers studying Lincoln-Douglas and policy debate, refinishing old clunker pianos, and deadheading pansies from an adirondack chair. Today I made a list of reasons why our summer flew by:
teaching at the Great American Scrapbook Convention in Arlington, TX Bishop Arts District in Dallas with new friends meals on the porch (A LOT) rocking-chairs on the porch (A LOT) sprinklers for small girls (A LOT) porch roof scaffolding project solo visit from Grandma another visit from Grandma and Grandpa together visit from Nana and Papa four sessions of swimming lessons (approximately 32 (x 3) lessons total) summer piano lessons trip to Colorado Springs to see off an old friend PCS-ing to Germany antelope/owl/hawk watching goodbye to five military friend families change of command for the 321st MS hosting an open house for 120 people an evening with CAKE 12 hours (x 2) team gymnastics per week, plus another hour of preschool gymnastics per week most awesome face painting ever (thanks, Culver's!) fighting plagues of miller moths and cottonwood trees hosting Jeff for dinner Denver Zoo fishing Superday Ft Laramie, Oregon Trail ruts, Register Cliff tomato tending 90th missile wing change of command base cemetary walk new bike for Bee teaching Design Challenges at Big Picture Classes running at night (made it to Nike orange level before my running schedule was decimated)(including two runs with my ex-soccer playing 28 year old neighbor in which I did not keel over) Tops in Blue + 4th of July fireworks at Frontier Park two giant hailstorms Keely's birthday party Wyoming Day Tuesday farmer's market an evening with the Avett Brothers Coronation Ball women's World Cup 2011 (boo hoo) slack barrel racing three afternoons of rodeo Indian Village sleepovers with E & K meeting the Thunderbirds advance team at the airport dinner at the governor's mansion commander's reception volunteering at the pancake breakfast Homes Tour Carriage #24 an evening with Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock an evening with Mötley Crüe cheering on our Grand Marshall Camp Dillow-Karahalis (two sessions) Fort D.A. Russell Days medical emergency requiring 911 (don't ask, it all ended fine) Behind the Chutes tour Thunderbirds Air Show on-site celebration of Grandpa's birthday complete with corn-on-the-cob cupcakes (yummy, not gross) and rotten watermelon (gross, not yummy)(this is an experience that will live on in Willis Family Lore for etermity, because let me tell you, accidentally putting rotten watermelon in your mouth is one of the most frightening food experiences we've ever had) Old Fashioned Melodrama carnival meet-up with Cory and Kate visit with the Brittles school registration (x2) school supply shopping Baby E photo shoot opening night showing of The Help with friends summer reading program completion (x 5) last-minute 2,860 mile road trip to Western Springs, Stow, Wooster, Cuyahoga Falls, Schaumburg Cleveland Zoo meeting Jack and Genevieve visiting with the other first cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparent visiting with the Marquettes (x 2) Western Reserve National Cemetary Parassons (that is old school Stow right there) either five or seven different beds (depending on which family member answers) during the course of the road trip individual school clothes shopping dates (x 3) keeping 2/3 of our hanging baskets looking like Martha Stewart lives here (er, sort of)(but still, victory is mine!!) new twin bed for Bee open house
and that's just what I can identify from pictures and off the top of my head. Summer ends officially in September, but tonight is our unofficial end to the festivities since the alarm clocks will be set in the morning for the first day of school. I am of mixed mind about this, because on one hand, what an incredibly full summer. But on the other hand? What an incredibly full summer. : )
I have no less than five Frontier Days recap posts half-started but as we have five states to travel through including two stops in Chicago, IL in the next eight days (which will include visits with eight cousins, four aunts, four uncles, four grandparents, one great-grandparent, and hopefully a handful of friends) I'm going to have to put off finishing them until later. They will join the list of approximately twenty-billion projects that have been tabled in the category "tackle when school starts." I might be caught up on that list when school is out... in 2016. But we all know Grandma hates dead air on this blog, so in the meantime...
Gracie recently had a major "click" with reading, and it came from a very happy source for me: Adventures of the Superkids. I read this book (actually, a textbook) and its companion More Adventures of the Superkids over and over and over when I was around Gracie's age. Hot Rod, Sal, Lily, Ettabetta, Toc, and the rest were my first book-friends. Oh, how I wanted to be a Superkid, to hang out on their bus, to participate in talent shows and help Cass get her hand out of a pickle jar. I was never able to get Maddie hooked on the Superkids, but I will be able to trace Gracie's big reading breakthrough to them (hooray!).
One last thing about the Superkids: they were created by Pleasant T. Rowland, who knows a thing or two about companies for children. : )
Dillow Family Trivia: One of Matt's greatest childhood sadnesses was that he could not be an Indian. He did not fully grasp why it was possible to be a cowboy when he grew up, but that being an Indian was simply not an option on the table. Thirty+ years later another Dillow has to come to terms with this same harsh reality... poor Gracie. The unfairness is almost too much for her to bear. After last year's visit to the Indian Village she was practically counting down the days until she could return this year; our visit did not disappoint.
We happened to be there the day that Governor Matt Mead and his strikingly glamorous wife Carol were being honored. More Dillow Family Trivia: this was the fourth time I'd seen them this week; at a reception for the Chief of Staff of the Air Force at the Governor's Mansion on Friday night, at the Commander's Reception on Saturday night, and at the Thunderbird Welcome Dinner on Wednesday night. Even more Dillow Family Trivia: this is the third Wyoming governor I've actually met in person; the first one was Governor Geringer in 2001 (I met him dressed in full Cat in the Hat costume and makeup on Read Across America Day. Lovely.) The second one: Governor Dave Freudenthal, who was not yet governor until 2003, but whose daughter was on the speech and debate team at Central HS the year I taught/coached there. Final piece of Dillow Family Trivia: I have never met a governor from any other state. This is the Indian woman Gracie most wants to be: the hoop dancer. She occasionally practices in the front yard with hula hoops, true story.
So after the dance presentation was complete, there was the regular "meet and greet" the performers; the girls hovered around the hoop dancer until they had a chance to say hello. She announced that there would be a special hoop dancing workshop for any kids who wanted to stick around. Didn't have to ask the Dillow girls twice. As it was Day 1 of the second session of Camp Dillow-Karahalis 2011, Thea and Georgie were in, too. Sam respectfully declined to learn hoop dancing : ) About 25-30 kids stuck around; her instruction was a lot of fun to watch.
At the end of the workshop, the hoop dancer asked everyone to stand very, very, very still so they could focus on their one small wish. She did a little talking as she walked around about how focus is the most important part to achieving your dreams; I leaned over to Grandma and told her to wait for it, Gracie would win the staying still contest. Maddie froze herself into the most uncomfortable of positions holding her hoop out from her body, and Bridget the Fidget doesn't win standing still contests. The hoop dancer walked around observing all the kids, narrowing it down from all of them to ten of them to four of them who were still in the running. I'm almost positive that Georgie and Thea were in the final four too, as their Tae Kwon Do training requires them to focus in ways I can't even imagine (i.e. they had to carry a RAW EGG around without breaking it for ten whole days!) but I still predicted the victory would be Gracie's, because her Indian heroine had asked her to do something. And, of course, she is Gracie. Perhaps you are familiar?
At this point I was a little sniffly, because this child of mine who can be such a handful—who so often stands in the shadow of her perfectionist older sister, who so often challenges her parents to the point of near defeat with her Will of Steel—was cheered and cheered loudly by both her sisters as she was tapped the winner. She so wanted to win, and she did. The well of her focus is almost frightening when she wants it to be, and on this day, she did. Everyone was asked to put their hoop around Gracie. Gracie was next asked to sit in the hoops as if she were in a nest.
The hoop dancer then told a story about a forest of trees lifting up the nest. And lift... ...they did.