Monday, August 31, 2015

Ellie's First Day of School

Last Thursday was Ellie's very first day of school! It has taken me this long to write about it because E.J. also had a doctor appointment that day, and that turned into a call for bloodwork to be done the same day, which was a nightmare, and basically E.J. did everything he could to make sure that my firstborn starting school was not the most traumatic thing for me to deal with that day. But, we got word today that the doctor was more concerned than necessary and E.J. is just fine (albeit slightly anemic), so now I can exhale and turn my focus back to my baby girl's first day of school. Kids, man. They really like to keep it interesting.

So anyway. Thursday was the big day, and Ellie was psyched. We talked up school so much beforehand: we watched all the "Daniel Tiger Goes to School"-related episodes we could, we read books, we talked about exactly how her day would go, we played in her classroom and met her teacher at orientation the Monday prior, we did test runs with her lunchbox, we bought new school clothes and shoes and even a fancy bow for her hair. The night before her first day, we also gave her a locket with pictures of Eric, E.J. and me in it so she could wear it and look at our pictures if she got lonely at school. By that time, she could hardly wait to put all that prep work into practice.

I woke her up around 7:15 a.m. on her first day and even though she was definitely asleep when I went in, she leaped out of bed and was ready to GO. She started singing the song that Daniel Tiger sings when he gets ready for school ("Clothes on! Eat breakfast! Brush teeth! Put on shoes and off to school!") and we did exactly that, in that order. We got all dressed first thing, and then stepped outside for a quick picture. She looked so sweet, and so grown up!

What a big girl!

When we went back inside we ate breakfast, brushed her teeth and then she got her sunglasses on and basically sat on the couch and waited for the rest of us to be ready. I still had to get dressed myself, and E.J. actually slept in that morning so I had to wake him and feed him his breakfast and get him dressed while Ellie patiently waited.

Finally, the moment was upon us. We gathered up her things and headed out!

She's ready!

Luckily, we live only about a three minutes' drive from the school, which will probably serve me well considering that since becoming a mother of two I am basically chronically late. We got to the school right on time and went up to her classroom door to wait her turn to go in.

Ready to start her day! (You can kind of see her cute hairbow here - it looks like a pencil!)

When it was her turn, Ellie put her snack in the snack bucket and then greeted her teacher, who had us pause and took a photo of us before taking Ellie's hand to lead her into the classroom. Once Ellie had her teacher's hand, she didn't want to let go and so I didn't even get a goodbye hug! She did give me a kiss at my request then walked right in the classroom, and never looked back.

So independent!

I watched for another moment before heading back to the car. It all happened so fast! I expected a big hug and a tearful goodbye (on my part, not hers) but we both really did just fine.

I spent the next few hours running around with E.J., but made sure to be back at her school just before pickup time. Eric also left work in time to be there to greet her, and when she came out the door and saw him, she was thrilled!

She spotted Daddy!

Big hugs!

She and E.J. were also very happy to see each other. I think they missed each other!

He had been crying, but broke into a big grin when he saw his big sister!

Of course, I was happy to see her, too!

Happy to be back with my girl!

When the teacher's assistant called Ellie to come out at the end of the day, she told me Ellie was very sweet (but I mean, duh), and Ellie seemed to have enjoyed her day. She wasn't particularly forthcoming with details (three-year-olds, am I right?), but she did say she wore the Aurora dress (in the dress-up corner), played on the playground and spun in circles. She also came home with two pictures, one of which was a self-portrait (the first time I've seen her draw a person!) and the other was her writing "Ellie," she tells me.

Ellie's self-portrait! I think she shows true talent, don't you?

This is how she writes Ellie, apparently. It's either a work in progress, or she's already got the illegible doctor scribble down and can start writing prescriptions any day now!

And that was that! She goes twice a week, so she'll be back for her second day tomorrow. She seems excited to go, so I assume she really did enjoy it. I figured she would—I just really had the feeling she needed some interaction with her peers without me there. I know she'll do great.

And as for me, I'm okay too. I was really emotional about the whole thing leading up to the first day, but then I managed just fine on the actual day and now I'm just trying not to dwell. It's a big thing for us, though. Considering I have been lucky enough to stay home with her for her entire life, this is the first time she's really doing something away from me; the first time there's a part of her life that I really don't know much about. It's the first step in letting go, I think, and it's so hard to believe we're here already. I know it will be good for her, but man. It just went so fast.

My grown up baby girl

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer Catch-Up

Most of our very busy summer has already been shared here as I recapped all the individual events of the past few months, but lest anything slip through the cracks, I figured one final "this was our summer" catch-all post was in order.

So, in addition to all that other stuff I've been going on and on about since June, here is what we did this summer:

E.J. really got into climbing on things, which means I have a lot of heart attacks.



That's just our coffee table. Whatevs.

At least he's remorseful.

In the toy box, naturally.

Who needs coffee to start your day when you can have an epic adrenaline rush?

We went for a few bike rides, mostly just to the park.

Riding together in the trailer

Ellie's turn to ride on the front child seat with me!

E.J. had a turn, too!

Ellie fell deeply in love with her bike helmet and wore it all over the place for a while.

Flying like a bee at the playground. This was the most normal place she wore it. She got a lot of stares at Publix, that's for sure.

She also dressed super-awesomely in general.

Batman shirt, pencil socks, Elsa shoes.

Rapunzel dress and wig, pencil socks again, Doc McStuffins shoes.

Bathing suit, skirt, and sunglasses inside. Killing it.

In more "normal" clothing news, I bought her this "ladybug" skirt and she became obsessed with being a ladybug for a few days (the girl has focus, that's for sure).

Cute little ladybug

E.J., meanwhile, was the world's cutest Ninja Turtle.

Toddler Mutant Ninja Turtles!

E.J. had his one-year well visit with the doctor, which went (mostly) well. His weight is improving (though he's still a peanut) but there were some concerns about his iron levels, which we'll be following up on tomorrow (this kid just likes to keep me on my toes).


Ellie totally nailing a game of hide and seek in the exam room while we waited.

Ellie was a sweet little mama to her baby doll and brought her everywhere with us for a while (see baby pictured in her toy carseat in the above photo, too).

Babies wearing babies!

We went to the zoo and saw the jaguar playing with a ball in the water. Those crazy jaguars!

So cool.

We went on lots of family walks—when the weather allowed it!

By the river!

I celebrated my 33rd birthday!

Happy birthday to me!

My birthday gift from my sister: a woven wrap inspired by the book The Little Prince

We bought Ellie a new backpack for school...before learning she's not supposed to bring a backpack to school. Oopsie.

But she looks totally awesome, at least.

Rapunzel also got a new "Pascal."

She loves that little "'meleon."

Speaking of backpacks, E.J. wore a tiny little one and it was the cutest thing that ever happened.

Stop it.

Ellie and I had a "Girls' Day Out" to see Inside Out in the theater! We had a great time.

Movie time!


Ellie also had her preschool orientation this week! First official day is tomorrow! (Stay tuned for a sappy post about that, I'm sure!)

Looking good, kiddo!

Meeting the class pet (beta fish)

And that's officially it! Summer 2015 is in the books!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Jacksonville Summer Vacation

It's hard to believe summer is already coming to an end, isn't it? Eric is back at work, and his students started back today. Ellie starts school (!!!!!!) this week, too. Unfortunately, the temperatures don't yet reflect the change in season, but for all intents and purposes, summer seems to be over.

This summer was a crazy hectic one for us. It started with the news of Toni's decline on the very last day of school in June. We left for St. Pete the next day and basically didn't stop to catch our breath until August. We went back and forth to St. Pete numerous times for two funerals and E.J.'s birthday party, we went on an epic road trip, Eric worked a summer job in there somehow, etc. It just was non-stop.

Needless to say, we were relieved when we returned from our road trip and still had a week and a half at home, to ourselves, before Eric had to go back to work. Of course, it's not in our nature to just laze around the house, so we made the most of that week! We packed in all kinds of things we would have liked to do with a leisurely full summer in Jacksonville. We had a really great time!

First, we went to Shark Fest at the Jacksonville Zoo. We met some mermaids and played at the splash pad.

Ellie's best shark face!

Mermaid sighting!

Hanging out with the swimming mermaid

E.J. loves the splash pad!

We went to a Jacksonville Jaguars scrimmage, which was our first visit to Everbank Field. Unfortunately, we thought the game was supposed to start at 6:00 p.m. (so fine with children's schedules) but it didn't actually start until 7:30, so we couldn't stay to watch any football. But, we did enjoy the atmosphere and the stadium!

Go Jaguars!

Ellie met some cheerleaders

Eric and Ellie walking out to the stadium

National Anthem

Roaring like a jaguar
(Side note: that blue strip above the "Presented by Florida Blue" sign behind E.J. is an in-stadium swimming pool. How Florida is that?)

Jacksonville's cutest Jags fans!

Eric also ran the Jaguars 5k Stadium Challenge through Everbank Field that week!

The field!

Eric on the big screen!

It wasn't all just sporty fun...we also got a little culture with visits to the Cumner Museum of Art and Gardens, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. We pretty much just enjoyed the hands-on kids' areas in both museums, but still had a very nice time. The grown-ups will have to go back for more sophisticated perusing later!

E.J. in the mini Cumner Museum

Eric and Ellie made this digital painting!

E.J.'s very "Han Solo in Carbonite" -inspired masterpiece

The kids loved this mini Main Street Bridge at MOCA

Fun with the texture wall!

George is unimpressed by my magnet shenanigans.

Back at home, all that art inspired Ellie to do a little painting herself:

Such a focused artist!

She also got really into helping us cook, and helped Eric make dinner several times. She and I made banana bread together, too (a la Daniel Tiger and Mom Tiger in Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, of course).

Baking together

Three of the four of us also watched some golf.


We also did some shopping (tax-free week!), and visited a couple of playgrounds we don't usually get to.

Fun at Riverside Park

Taking a breather at the park behind the Willowbranch Library

And of course, what would a Florida vacation be without a day at the beach? We went to Atlantic Beach for the first time and had a blast! We brought a little kiddie pool to fill with water by our blanket which was a HUGE hit with E.J., who must have climbed in and out of that thing a billion times. He also loved playing in the waves. Ellie made a friend and spent most of her time playing in the sand with her.

Happy beach kids!

Chasing birds is always a favorite beach activity

Enjoying the pool

E.J. loved feeling the waves go in and out over his feet!

Loves it!

This past weekend, my mom came to visit and gave Eric and me a night out to celebrate our anniversary. We had dinner at Taverna (my scallops were heavenly), then stopped for dessert before walking out to the river. With my mom, we made a trip to the Riverside Arts Market on Saturday and the zoo on Sunday. Lots of fun!

At the Riverside Arts Market

Happy Elsa!


He looks like such a little boy!

Riverside selfie during our date night!

Grammy and the kids at the zoo

E.J. sees the elephant! (He's doing the baby sign for "elephant," with bonus elephant noise!)

He's been working on his walking again!

Penguin smooches

And of course, as the vacation time started to come to a close, we helped Eric get his new classroom all set up for the new school year. He's teaching Algebra 2 Honors and Pre-Calculus this year!

Back to school!

While we decorated the classroom, Ellie drew flowers all over the white board! It's the first time she has ever drawn something on purpose and had it look like what she intended! Clearly, all that time at art museums paid off!

Not a bad little "staycation," right? I'm so glad we had that time to have a little fun in our own hometown this summer!