Friday, June 21, 2013

Conor's Last Day of Day Care

Today marked a big day for our family... it is Conor's last day at day care! His next educational step is joining his big sister at her school!

We started at the day care when Annika was just 3 months old. We've seen quite a few teachers come and go over the past 5 1/2 years, and are so grateful for the wonderful care they provided to our children. Some have even become babysitters for us, ta boot!

To mark his "graduation" and to say a proper thank you to the teachers and staff at the day care, we made a little going away present. Because there are so many teachers, individual presents simply wasn't going to happen. Instead, we (aka I) decided on a classroom present: a painted terra cotta pot with a leafy plant. After I painted the pot with white primer, we decorated it with colorful flowers made with Conor's fingerprints; not to be left out, Annika did one of the flowers, too! After the flowers were in place, I painted "Thank you for helping me grow" on the pot. The last step was applying some clear sealer to the pot so everything stayed put! I think it turned out quite cute and believe it will be a nice addition to Conor's (almost former) classroom.

I don't think Conor really grasps the concept that he's moving on after today, but it'll sink in soon enough. I think having his big sister in the new classroom with him over the summer will really help his transition from day care to pre-school. This morning, Annika said that she'll be Conor's teacher once he joins her at her school. I quickly pointed out that she can be a helper, but the teachers will be his teachers. She seemed OK with that, too. Whew! :)

As I returned to my car after dropping off Conor, I realized how funny it is that as a parent, I want our kids with us forever, but as parents, our real job is to prepare our kids to leave us and become independent beings. Before we turn around twice, we're going to be dropping this little boy off at his college dorm... pardon me while I wipe a few tears away from my eyes now. (sniff sniff)

Our big boy on his last day of day care

Thank you to all of the Whizz Kids teachers; we'll miss you!

Back of flower pot

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sangria in a Snap

I just invented (at least, I think I did) the easiest sangria possible. While making dinner tonight, I opened a bottle of syrah wine so I could incorporate it in a sauce. Now, one just can't let a bottle of wine sit there open and not have any, right? I usually drink white wine because (a) most reds give me a headache and (b) white wines are served cold and I prefer that. I said to myself, "Self, isn't it too bad red wine can't just accept some ice cubes?" But I knew my wine-aficionado friends would cringe, so I resisted the urge. I further had the thought that sangria has ice in it, but also know it isn't a fast process. That's when I came up with this idea ... and it worked!

Put the following into a cocktail shaker and shake the heck out of it. Then, strain into a cup and enjoy. (I added some ice to my cup to keep it cold.) Seriously, it is THAT easy!

  • 1-ish c. syrah wine
  • 1 lemon slice (about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 1 orange slice (about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 2 packets of sweetener (ex: Equal)
  • Ice (a few handfuls)

Our little fish

Yesterday, Annika's swim class spent most of their time together in the deep end of the swimming pool They've visited there before, but never for such an extended amount of time.

As my eyes bounced between the two ends of the pool to watch Conor and Annika's classes, I was astonished by how well Annika is progressing. (Note: Conor did a great job yesterday, too, and even jumped off of the side of the pool to his teacher without hesitation, which was a first for him. I did get a video of him, but was across the pool, so it looks like a spec jumping into the pool. That said, great job, Conor!)

Her class has a fantastic teacher to student ratio, which is reassuring as the kids venture into the deep end of the pool, but knowing my kiddo is in THAT much water is a little bit unnerving for me. I'm never complete at ease when our kids are in the pool; my mama instincts keep me ready to pounce if either of the kids get into trouble.

The two other children in Annika's class opted to wear life jackets the entire time they were in the deep end of the pool; Annika wore hers for about 5 minutes and then decided to go without it. Mr. Brian, one of Annika's teachers, showed her a neat maneuver that scuba diver use to ditch their BCDs to get out of her life jacket: unbuckle it and then let your body sink out of the jacket with your arms up. No muss... no fuss!

Annika's favorite part of swim lessons is jumping off of the diving board. When one of her classmates was apprehensive about taking the plunge, Annika stood next to the diving board cheering her on. "You can do it! I know you can. It's really fun. You can do it!!" (She may have a career as a motivational speaker ... or cheerleader!) Thanks to Annika's enthusiasm and a little more reassurance from the teachers, the little girl did jump and really enjoyed it. After she was in the water, Annika continued her praise. "Yes! I KNEW you could do it. You did great! Wasn't it fun?"

Not only does Annika know how to fearlessly jump from the board, she now is very adept at swimming to the side of the pool and getting herself back on dry land.

Yup, she's our little fish!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Annika's Poem

Not to be outdone by her little brother and is birdie poem, Annika wanted to make sure the poem she recently learned at school was recorded, too.

I love the sentiment of the poem... not to mention the gestures ... not to mention the sweet little girl performing it!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Conor's Birdie Poem

This post comes with a "Too Cute for Words" warning. If you have a pulse, then this post is guaranteed to melt your heart.

OK, now I can continue with a clear conscious.

Recently, Conor came home from day care with a new poem for us. We had never heard it before and cannot get enough of it. I am so glad to have captured a video of him saying it because I'll probably want to watch it again and again ... even when I'm old and gray. (OK, older and grayer.)

The big birdies fly up in the sky.
Down in the nest, the little birds rest.
The bright sun comes up.
The dew goes away.
'Good morning, good morning' the little birds say.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Gift from Annika

One day last week when I arrived to pick up Annika from school, she had a sly grin on her face and her hands behind her back. When I asked her what she had behind her back, she presented me with the following:


(Translation: "Dear Mom. This picture is for you. Love, Annika")

I about burst into tears right then and there! Talk about a precious gift ... not only the drawing and adorable 5-year-old handwriting, but the sentiment to boot. This was her way of reminding me that she thinks about me while she's at school and I'm at work.

Our sweet girl really knows how to tug at her mama's hear strings... no doubt about it! This is one of her childhood treasures I'll hold near and dear to my heart for all time. Now that it is scanned and documented, I'll now put it in her box of keepsakes.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Non-tourist Touristy Stuff

My cousin Tonya is in town for work (hurray) and was able to arrange to fly in a few days before the rest of her team so we could have some family time together (double hurray)!!

When making the plans for our weekend together, I asked Tonya what she'd like to do. Her request was to get on the water (if possible) and see the insider non-tourist touristy stuff because she'd already done the standard stuff (Pike Place Market, etc). Hmmm... what do we locals do? Laundry, shuttle kids around, clean up dog fur ... hmmm.... not very exciting!

I dusted out a few cobwebs from my brain and started thinking about fun ways to get Tonya out on the water. Fortunately, we were looking at a non-rainy weekend, which made planning a bit simpler. I was struck with the idea of having lunch at a restaurant on the Montlake Cut called Agua Verde. It is a two-part business: 1 part restaurant, 1 part kayak/paddle board rental. Perfect!! Once I devised the plan, I told Eric about it and he agreed that it would be fun. He liked the idea so much that we decided to turn it into a whole family outing instead of just a cousin thing. Even better!

I picked up Tonya at the airport and we headed to Agua Verde for lunch and pinged Eric when we were about 30 minutes away from being ready to hit the water. He and the kids hung out at home until then so Conor could take a nap). After slathering ourselves with sun blocks, donning our life jackets, and getting some basic instructions ("yield to all other boats; kayaks are at the bottom of the boating food chain" was my favorite piece of advice), we headed out.

This couldn't have been a more perfect adventure. The weather was stunning and the cut was an ideal setting to kayak. There were a few boats, but not the rush hour-esque that it tends to be during the summer. Because we had the kids, we were instructed to stay within the cut and not go into Lake Union (too choppy), but that was fine by us and we had a great adventure! We tootled behind a family of Canada geese for a bit, looked at the houseboats (and laughed at how one that was falling apart ... literally; it had a tarp for a roof) had a price tag of over 1 million dollars), and ogled the yachts in the yacht club slips. (My apologies to the yacht owner whose mighty expensive boat I bumped into with my kayak ... it was an accident and I didn't do any damage!) (My extended apologies to Eric/Conor and Tonya for also colliding with your kayaks during our adventures .. I suck at braking on the water!)

After an hour, we hoisted ourselves out of our boats and headed off for a refreshing ice cream treat together. All in all, a mighty great way to spend a Saturday in Seattle!

Attentively listening to our 30-seconds of instructions

My co-pilot

Off we go!

Annika was a natural kayaker; she had the system down immediately;
if there's ever a mother/daughter kayak team at the Olympics, we are so there!

Tonya paddling away

Tonya either pointing at I-5 or calling her next homerun ... not sure which!

Eric and Conor making waves


Annika and me

Conor got a chance with the kid-size paddle near the end of our adventure

Eric and Conor could be the father/son team in the Olympics!

Eric and Conor on their final approach