Saturday, September 14, 2013

2nd Grade: 2013

There is this moment in late August that has happened the last two summers.  My mind gets caught between not wanting summer to ever end and in the next moment I find myself counting down the days until Labor Day.  As is every Spring, I nervously anticipate the approaching summer.  Fearful the girls won’t have any fun (or worse yet, drive me and each other absolutely crazy) I wonder if we will survive and enjoy summer.  And then summer happens, and we get into a groove and we really learn to love summer.  This summer we lived schedule free.  We have nobody napping in the house so our days could be as long as we wanted.  We were as carefree as we could. We spent numerous weekends (both ours and the rest of the worlds) at Sandy Lake.  We poured memories into that place like we have never done before.  We enjoyed it right along side my dad and I wouldn’t change any of it.

As with Summer’s past this one came and went in a blur.  Mid August we were walking into school for Mallory’s teacher meet and greet and it felt like there was no time that had gone by since we last left those halls in early June.  In that 30 minute session with her teacher, Mallory decided that summer was over.  End of story.  She was ready and she desperately wanted it to be September 3rd.  Those last two weeks of August, at times, tested more of my patience than the previous 10 weeks combined.

Here we stand. Two weeks of school are behind us.  The first day jitters for all have subsided. We are now called by alarm clocks, attendance charts, and empty lunch boxes that require filling.  It’s a change but it is one that will come and go each and every year.  I am hoping this bittersweet feeling of leaving summer behind, will remind me next spring to anticipate summer with a little less fear and bit more excitement of what memories beg to be made.

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There was no looking back (both figuratively and literally) for Mallory this year.  She was knows the routine, her bus driver, some friends in her class and the layout of the school.  She picked right back up where she left off 12 weeks ago.  My moment with Mallory when the wait for the bus seemed endless, was simply this, “Be the best Mallory you can be.  Remember what we’ve taught you about being kind, fair and easy going.  No one is perfect—and all I want for you is for everything to feel just right.”


Monday, August 26, 2013

2013 Butterflies: E.F.G.H

Continuing with our mission of collecting and hatching 26 butterflies before Mallory graduates from Elementary school, we put our hunt on when summer vacation hit. The cooler spring made us wonder if the butterflies would be delayed in making their way up to Minnesota this summer.  Our predictions were right it was a bit later and the quantity seemed a bit smaller as well, making it tougher to find our eggs than the previous year.  We went on several egg hunts until we found a few leaves that looked promising.

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Day by day and week by week, we had five little caterpillars hatch.  We lost just one along the way but four made it from start to finish.  It took each one about 4 weeks from the egg hatching to the butterfly emerging.  These caterpillars are all from leaves in our neighbor’s patch of milkweed.  They took a vacation to Sandy Lake where a few hatched and munched on Zimmerman milkweed, each one ended up opening into butterflies right here at home.

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Below is one of my favorite pictures.  It shows the four later stages of development.  A caterpillar in its “J” formation before it envelopes into a chrysalis.  Then 2 chrysalises already formed and our first newly hatched butterfly.

The black chrysalis below is just a few hours from emerging into a butterfly.  The green one on the left is about a week out.

Each egg is as tiny as the next and the process of finding them before they are devoured by ants take patience and a lot of searching, we decided the first butterfly, holding an “E”, name should be called “Elusive”.  Mallory released this butterfly by some of our neighbors flowers.  She stayed on the flower for almost five minutes letting us inspect her wings and beauty.  Just when I was starting to get a little worried, she fluttered off and landed in a nearby tree to soak up the sun.

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Mallory knew she wanted the “F” butterfly to be called Fluttershy.  We altered it a bit when we found out that he was our first boy (so proud!) and also he was anything but shy.
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He was rearing to take flight and wanted nothing to do with being held with his wings together.  We quickly changed his name to “FlutterFly”.  Julia was over for this release and it was Mikayla’s turn to let him go.  We only made it out on the deck to the pot of flowers and as soon as Mikayla opened up to set him down, he took off.  He was quick.

God’s Grace has a hand in this incredible process.  I know science explains parts here and there, but having seen with my own eyes the very very tiny egg and even smaller caterpillar that emerges, we are certain God had a role somewhere along the way.  This is why we chose Grace for our “G” butterfly.  She emerged on Saturday afternoon, and with the weather forecast calling for sun and warmth on Sunday morning we waited to release her until the next day.  Fittingly, Grace would take flight on Sunday.  Sounds like there should be violins and an organ playing in the background, right?  Wrong. 

This release went south from the minute the girls remembered we’d be letting her go.  “I want to hold the butterfly FIRST!”  “It’s MY turn to let her go!” “You get to do the next butterfly unless it dies first.”  “I WANT TO UNZIP THE TOP!”  Seriously.  It was all sorts of ugly.  If I would have been two seconds faster with my camera I would have captured a screaming catfight instead of a beautiful butterfly release.  With the chaos that surrounded us, the adults quickly said that this butterfly was going into the world untouched.  No one would hold her, no one would release her.  We (together, with smiles?? Yeah.right) opened the zipper on our butterfly tent and let her crawl to the top and take flight.  She didn’t stay in the open air long before she fluttered off. She made one swoop in a circle close to us and then retreated to the nearest tree.  I am sure she was relieved one of my beauties didn’t rip her wings off in the battle that took place moments before.  This is a lesson in that pictures could very well lie—but not this mom.  I am as honest as they come that this life we have, even in a beautiful butterfly release, we are far from perfect. 
Let the readers know the date of this release was August 18th-Labor Day awaits in just 2 short weeks and we are a little anxious and oh-so-ready to get on with the back to school show.

And finally our “H” butterfly emerged.  She was as beautiful as the others and was ready to take flight on a warm night right before bedtime.  It was Mikayla’s turn to name and release this butterfly.  She doesn’t quite understand the need for an “H” name so I had to give her choices.  Thankfully Debbie gave me a pocketful of names and when I uttered ideas such as Happiness, Helen, Hannah, she shook her head “No”.  So I gave her a few more…thinking on the spot, but only remembering the boy names I was given from Debbie I sputtered how how about Henry or Harvey…

Meet “Harvey”
She chose a deck release and wanted to unzip the top and watch her fly away.  She held Harvey inside, but chose to let her go on Harvey’s own time. She fluttered around the deck for a few minutes and then was off… 

Four butterflies and nearly 6 weeks later our mission for 2013 is complete.  We carry on and hope that next year we will see the same success that we have this year!  Here is our first year (2012) with the hatching of A,B,C,D.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The long awaited 4th Birthday

You woke up the day before your birthday and asked me this, “Is today, tomorrow?” You were so anxious for the big day you waited and counted down the days until it finally arrived.  You woke up on August 6th, stumbled out of your bedroom with a mop of red hair covering your eyes and said “Am I four today?”  I finally got to say “Happy Birthday Baby, you are four!”

Mallory and I started your morning off with a candle in a stack of pancakes with a few shakes of sprinkles.  We sang Happy Birthday and you beamed.

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When Mallory’s camp was done and we were ready to start our day. We headed off to the light rail to take a train ride to Minnehaha falls where we walked down to see the waterfall and rented a Surrey bike to take in the sites.  You and Mallory loved the front row view—and your Dad and I were only mildly exhausted from peddling the big bike around the entire park.

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When we had enough of the park we headed back to the train, took it back to our car, and drove to our next stop-Bittersweet Bakery.  You had your pick of the bakery as their specialty is gluten free foods.  You picked out a chocolate cupcake with green frosting.  You talk a big game-and after about 5 bites you proclaimed you were done. This stop was a highlight of mine. Not only did I get to pick out a delicious treat to devour, but seeing your nose up against the glass able to choose just about anything you wanted to eat made my heart happy. 

When we got home-it was finally time to open presents!  You were very excited to open a panda bear family (this because you want to be a panda bear when you grow up) and a remote control truck.  So far you have managed to cram the family of pandas into the back of the truck and you have almost mastered driving the truck in a straight line.

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The day ended with a dinner of your choice.  After much deliberation between a bratwurst at home, you chose Buffalo Wild Wings where you quickly ordered “chips and salsa, a hotdog with French fries, and water.” 

You dove into four in style and you have not stopped telling anyone who will listen that “I am FOUR!”  It’s a big deal around here.

I add a year onto this saying each year, but it couldn’t be more true, our world was changed four years ago and it was all because a beautiful and spunky little girl entered our world.  You have made our family and our home brighter and we could not be more blessed.  Happy 4th Birthday Big Girl!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Summer is a Blur.

Does anyone else know what happened to July 2013?  It was here because I remember things like the 4th of July, a few great trips to Sandy Lake and overall a lot of fun with friends.  I think I may have even turned another year older—but now, all of a sudden, I looked at the calendar and it is August.  Crazy.

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As the kids get older it only goes faster and I can barely stand it.  This summer has been full of nothing but fun.  When our weekend (Wednesday-Thursday) ends, another one awaits me that the rest of the world is enjoying, and I am finding it very easy to enjoy it all over again. 

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This leaves me and the girls with four weekend days a week—and the other three days-well, it is summer vacation so those don’t stray too far from the feeling of weekends either.  We are lucky and have been so spoiled this summer.  School starts in just a few short weeks and I am already afraid the transition might feel a bit painful.  Schedules?  Alarm clocks?  Places we need to be?  Agendas we have to follow?  Nope.  Not yet.  Just stay away a little bit longer…

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My brain is a muddle of a sand, sun, garden dirt, bike rides, beach towel laundry, and play date fun.  We are left with long days, later bedtimes, sleeping in until nearly 8 (Whaattt??!!) and an overall feeling of warm fuzzies when the days end.  The girls are playing beautifully together-just like sweet sisters should.  They have had their moments of annoyance, but it seems few and far between.  Nothing says summer more than a clothesline full of towels and swimsuits-flapping in the sunshine and breeze.

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We’ve celebrated birthdays 2 and 3 times over again, swam until our fingers were prunes.  We made sand castles, chalk drawings, and bug houses.  We snack when we are hungry, we return our library books when they are due only to come home with another big bagful of new ones.  We played with our Kentucky Cousins and squeezed in as much time as would allow while they were home. 

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Mallory was “caught” staying up way later than her bedtime reading by flashlight—her punishment was simple-as long you stay up late, you must sleep in to recover.  Done.  She sleeps in like a champ and has been known to close her eyes later than her parents on a few nights.

We have just a few weeks left before our attendance at places other than a picnic really matters…until that point there is no looking back!  We are set to enjoy every last drop of our summer days!