Archive for August, 2011
It seems the first day of school is never a big enough deal in our house. Our kids always have to find some way to top the act of kicking off a new school year.
Last year, Crisana lost a tooth on the first day of school.
So this year it was Trey’s turn.
Usually the first week of school is an easy transition back into the busy-ness of our fall routine. We deliberately keep our afternoons and evenings free and clear so that we can adjust to early morning alarm clocks, days filled with learning, and balancing homework and playtime. But this afternoon was a scramble. Unpack the backpacks. Wash out the water bottles, sandwich containers, and thermoses. Fix dinner. Eat dinner. Clean up dinner and put leftovers away. Feed the cat. Change clothes. Turn on the lights and lock the doors. Make sure the camera has fresh batteries and a free memory card. Hurry, hurry, hurry. We gotta get there on time!
See, we had a court date. A Court of Honor date. And we had some honorees we had to…um…well…honor.
First up was Trey. He was officially recognized for earning his Tenderfoot badge, the second step on the Trail to First Class…his second step toward earning Eagle Scout. As if that wasn’t enough, he earned 5 (yes, count them: FIVE) merit badges from troop activities and summer camp: photography, railroading, swimming, astronomy, and geology. His little merit badge sash no longer looks lonely or like a wanna-be, despite the fact that it’s still way too big for him.
Our next honoree was none other than Matt, who earned his “trained” patch for being officially fully trained as an adult leader in the Boy Scouts of America. I guess that means he can now be put in charge of stuff and be responsible for scouts. I’m still wondering if that’s a good thing or not.
I guess that means we’re also now an official scouting family!
Today is a very special day for children all over the area. For many of them, it is the day they will return to school for another year of learning, mental stimulation, and social development. For others, it represents those first steps into the world of academia, the beginning of their educational journey. For some, it will mean a transition to a new school, a new type of educational setting. For all of them, it means the end of summer vacation. And for all their stay-at-home or work-at-home moms, it means OUR vacation is just beginning.
Not really. But yeah, a little bit.
As I’ve done every year since they were in preschool, I had to get the traditional first-day shots. This year was a little different as we weren’t able to provide new clothes, backpacks or lunchboxes, but our kids didn’t seem to mind. Last year’s stuff was still in great condition and after washing a few times looked *almost* like new…if you didn’t look too closely. Crisana actually found an outfit in her closet she had never worn, and decided that would be her “new” first day of school dress. Trey, on the other hand, picked out a favorite shirt he’s had since he was in THIRD GRADE and that by some miracle of God still fits him. He did, however, wear shoes that have sat in his closet all summer long, and a “newish” pair of shorts he’s only had since spring.
It’s hard to believe that we now have a middle-schooler in the house. But there he is, ready and excited for his first day of being an Evans Middle School Panther.
It’s quite a task getting all that middle-school gear packed up and carry-able. Between a backpack, lunch box, stuff sack for gym clothes, binder, and eventually a trombone, a child needs about 4 arms or a porter to carry it all. Trey has his system worked out, though, and we watched as he “sherpa’d up” to go out to the car.
Our third-grader was also incredibly excited to head off to her first day of school – though being a McGowen Maverick is no longer a novelty to her.
Though we are still in the throes of lice treatment, we found a way to make her hair look special for the first day…despite the nasty egg-removing gel. And after the necessary driveway pictures, we headed off for our first stop on the Tour-de-Carpool-Lines. We arrived and parked across the street, giving us the opportunity for a marquee shot:
As he’s done every year since the school opened, Mr. McGowen was on hand to greet the students as they entered. With a kind word of welcome and a handshake for every child and parent, he is truly a treasure. Graciously, he allowed us to capture this moment, though the picture seems to be missing something without Mr. Forsyth.
Since we’d already gotten the beginning-of-the-year teacher-student photo, we didn’t need to take that one again. Instead, we got the action photo of unpacking the backpack at her desk.
And of course, at her locker. Apparently *this* is the face you get when you realize your locker is one of the few that doesn’t have a name on it because your teacher ran out of the cute little name strips and so it just has a post-it note with your number.
Since elementary school starts a full 45 minutes before middle school, we had some time to kill, which we did…with DONUTS! We started Trey off right with a healthy dose of sugar, fat, and processed carbs, washed down with some chocolate milk…and took this opportunity to get a first-day shot without embarrassing him in front of all his peers.
We did escort Trey into his school – from a distance, mind you – to ensure he knew how to open his locker and assist him with getting his binder set up and prepared for class. But very quickly we were encouraged to leave – no hugs or kisses or pictures, thankyouverymuch Mom – as he headed confidently off to first period.
And as Matt and I headed off for a few hours of “just us” time, we realized just how lonely and quiet vacation can be sometimes.
I’m sure you can’t imagine a more fun way to kick-start your Saturday morning than with a pop quiz, so here we go.
Does this title refer to:
C) The great “Mexican Plume”, a.k.a. “The Cap”, a.k.a. the meteorological phenomenon that Texans experience when a thin layer of hot air off the high plains of Mexico settles over Texas, preventing thunderstorms from forming.
D) A special belated anniversary gift we treated ourselves to.
If you answered “A”, consider yourself unfriended.
If you answered “B”, consider yourself high-fived. Just kidding, sweetie. You’re only half-empty of hot air.
If you answered “C”, consider yourself way too brainy for my taste.
If you answered “D”, consider yourself a winner. You’ve won absolutely nothing other than the satisfaction of being right, so I hope that works for you.
A slight backstory may be in order here. Back in November, we attended a benefit gala for Village of Hope. Part of the gala was a live auction, where Matt surprised me by bidding on – and actually WINNING – a gift basket that included a bottle of wine (shiraz), a free night at the Marriott Legacy and a complimentary hot air balloon ride for two.
We anticipated needing to keep our anniversary celebration cheap, so we saved the contents of the gift basket until the appropriate time. Unfortunately, the winds kept us from doing the balloon ride when we had originally planned, so we rescheduled and enjoyed a romantic sunrise trip, soaring on the wings of love with 6 other complete strangers, including the pilot.
We arrived at our meeting point promptly at 6:45 A.M., just ahead of the chase van. We waited a bit for the rest of the passengers to arrive and piled into the van for the long drive across the street, from the parking lot to the open field where we would launch.
The pilot and driver got out and began assembling the balloon to the gondola, which I felt was a very important and necessary first step.
Once I made sure that THEY were absolutely sure that the two were securely connected, our pilot asked for volunteers to help hold the balloon while it inflated. Matt couldn’t resist an opportunity to bring Atlas out, so he stepped right up.
It started off pretty easy, with the balloon flat on the ground. Those fans blew a mighty powerful bunch of wind, though, and pretty soon it started filling up.
It was amazing just how LONG that balloon was. We were all surprised when they just kept unrolling it, and unrolling it…
And then, just like that, it was full. We had a great time standing inside the balloon and having our pictures taken. I thought it looked like some sort of psychadelic playground in there.
For the record, *I* could have been perfectly content hanging out inside the balloon with both feet (and perhaps a few other appendages) firmly planted on solid ground, but everyone else seemed to have this grand idea of going up into the air on this thing, so the pilot *had* to get the whole contraption going vertical.
Once the balloon was oriented the right way, we all climbed in – a somewhat challenging task as the basket was MOVING and CLIMBING off the ground as we went. I half expected Toto to jump out of my arms and me having to jump out after him while the Wizard climbed ever onward and upward back to Kansas. In reality, I was so busy getting situated in my little compartment and distributing water bottles to everyone else that before I realized what had happened we were airborne.
(For my McKinney peeps, that’s the field across the street from Market Street on the southeast corner of Ridge & ElDorado. The pirate ship snow-cone trailer is just outside the lower right hand corner of the picture.) Amazingly enough, I did *not* pass out. I did not freak out, cry out, break out, or try to jump out. Much to my surprise, I found it kind of pretty. And peaceful (except for all the other passengers pointing out landmarks). And – yes – even FUN.
But I held on to the railing just in case. Even while I took a picture of Matt.
Just for fun – and probably to show off a little – our pilot landed the balloon on a pond in the middle of a housing development. But while we were in the air, you could look up and see this:
After about an hour, we found ourselves back on terra firma once again.
And while I was glad to have landed safely, I admit feeling just a little like this when it was all over:
Phineas and Ferb claim that there are 104 days of summer vacation. I say “phooey on you-ey.” Because apparently we’re being gypped more than 2 weeks.
How do I know this? Tonight was Meet the Teacher at McGowen. We’re 82 days in, and already it’s time to go check out the classroom, drop off school supplies, sign up for the PTA, and discover who the classmates will be. And in 6 more days, it will be the first day of school. By my calculations, that puts us just shy of 90, well short of the *supposed* 104 immortalized in song.
Regardless, Crisana was excited. For weeks she had been crossing her fingers, toes, legs, arms, and even her eyeballs in hopes of getting the teacher *she* wanted. Never mind that the teacher *she* wanted changed from day to day. She was breathless in anticipation, and so were we. And so we were ALL excited when we discovered who her teacher for third grade would be:
Just in case you don’t recognize the significance, let me give you a brief reminder.
Her hair may be lighter and she’s now sporting a baby bump but yes, that’s the same teacher. A teacher who was one of Trey’s – and our – favorites. A teacher who was a tremendous encouragement to our family and a source of great stability to Trey during an incredibly tumultuous year. A teacher who prayed diligently for our family and supported us even in our efforts to support her. We couldn’t be more thrilled or thankful for allowing Crisana to be in her class this year!
Apparently, Crisana’s pretty excited, too.