Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mercer finished Kindergarten as well as another season of baseball... + some more "ordinary" things....

Mercer finished kindergarten!  He really did enjoy it in the end.  There were some patches where he said he did not like school, but by the last week, he was sad it was going to be over.  

He said he missed his teacher already and that when he was in 1st grade, he would go back to visit her.  She told me that Mercer professed his love to her.  She said that lots of kids say that - yeah yeah yeah - but when Mercer said it, she was shocked... touched!  She said he really meant it - was very serious about it!  

Todd and I attended the kindergarten completion ceremony at his school.  The kids sang several songs together.  Also, each class sang a song about no longer being in Kindergarten -- moving to 1st grade.  Not looking back.  It's over.  It doesn't seem that they really grasped what the songs were really saying (one of the songs lyrics included something about no more recess / lots of homework / etc), but they had fun and did a cute job with the songs!    The photo cuts off the banner in the background, but it says "Class of 2026!!"  wow!  

The week before, the school had their annual field day.  Again, the kids didn't really know what was going on.  I stayed for only a couple of events - the tug of war and a dizzy bat contest.  (The kids looked really confused why they were pulling on a rope!)  Mercer told me when we were walking from his classroom out onto the field:  "Field Day is like Field Trip - minus the trip!"  Then he started talking about trucks.  He really had no idea what was in store.  When he came home at the end of the day - he was full of stories about what a fun time they all had.  We knew he would have a blast... and by the time field day rolls around again, he will be pumped!

Here is Mercer sporting the Stinger (school mascot) temporary tattoo on his cheek.

A couple of other things that happened around the end of school:  Mercer's baseball season for the East Marietta Pirates came to an end the weekend before school let out.  

Todd coached his team again.  There have been some of the same kids on the team as in previous seasons.  There were also some kids that were brand new to baseball.  At the team party after the last game, Todd mentioned that the Pirates won all of their games!  It was hard to tell because the scoreboard rarely worked, but he kept track.  He commended the kids on their success - and told them the reason they won all of their games... good defense.  Quite simply, they made a lot of outs compared to the other teams... stopping others from scoring as many runs.  

Mid-way through, Mercer became a little afraid of the ball.  He didn't want to hit or catch.  Thankfully, he worked through it and finished the season strong.  He says he wants to play again this fall.  Todd is happy about that!  

Here are some images of a portion of the artwork that Mercer brought home the last week of school.  

Except for the flag, all of these pieces are 2' x 3' or even 4' long!  Love capturing the digital image of them since we don't have the wall space for these masterpieces!  :) 

We walked to the square on the last day of school for pizza, ice cream, and a very late night of playing on the kid's train.  I love this image of Mercer and Todd holding hands while we're walking to the square.  "Ordinary" photo but oh how sweet it is.  I wonder how long it will be before he refuses to hold his daddy's hand - or mine - when walking down the street? 

There has been lots of change this week.  Friday, Mercer moved from being a kindergartner to an upcoming first-grader.  Saturday, he loses a front tooth!  (The other front tooth is loose too)  He looks SO DIFFERENT without it.  It's very hard to get used to seeing that beautiful smile of his have a big 'ol gap in it!  Both events are rights of passage to growing up!!

Isabella has started to say some new things:  Bauble is ball or balloon or bubble.   "Sue" is shoe.  She could sit on the floor and try to put shoes on for hours.  Socks too.  Really any other clothes as well.  She loves to play with buckles too - especially the ones on her stroller and high chair.  (Maybe she likes those the best because she also has to climb up to get to them.)  I think she's going to be into clothes and jewelry - just an early observation.  We'll see how / if it plays out.  Isabella still does the cute thing where she says "le-le-le-le-le" and grabs her foot when she wants to be tickled.  And - "mmmmm" while leaning in when she wants to kiss.  She's becoming more expressive.  

Have I mentioned before that we think "ay-ya" means brother?  She also says "baba" sometimes for brother (which makes more sense to us), but "ay-ya" is the usual thing she yells when she's looking for Mercer. They are really sweet with each other.   We are very glad to have them in our lives, but I think they are glad to have each other in their lives too!  


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bob's Celebration of Life

May 11th would've been Bob's birthday.  He said he did not want to have a funeral - he wanted to have a party.  Honestly, I think this is the way to go.  We had a really great weekend in remembrance of him.  There were a lot of laughs in the house all weekend.

Friday, preparations were being made and family started to come into town.  Rose Marie made some baklava and her sister brought some home-grown stuffed grape leaves.  There was a bunch of other food too, but these Greek favorites were the hit of the evening. 

Saturday was all about cooking and doing more prep-work.  Food.  Flowers.  Rearranging furniture.   Working on the tent.  And, setting up the life-sized cut-out of Bob!  Todd's brother, Bobby, works in the printing industry.  He was able to get a copy of the negative (which was taken at Bob & Rose Marie's 40th anniversary party).  He enlarged and had it cut-out.  These two women (Rose Marie's sister, Nin, and her friend Ruby) were the ones he was originally dancing with - so they got in on the pose again.

Lots of people posed in front of Bob's likeness. 



Niece & Nephews.

Actually lots of the guests saddled up for a pose.  These two photos show most of the family that was in town.   

There was a video of photos scrolling on a TV that people could stop and watch.   Todd's brothers and sister said a few words and told some funny stories about their dad.  Isabella decided to wander into the spotlight for awhile too.

We met Bob's sister and niece that we had not met before.

We got to spend a bit of time with Rose Marie's sisters.

We saw a bunch of family friends that we had not seen since our wedding.

And - a bunch of the family got to meet Isabella for the first time.  (Aunt Becki who is in this photo, of course, has met her before.... but the dozens of cousins there had not -- only seen her through pictures.)

Mercer had his cousins to play with & wrestle with before and after the party which made him happy... but they were tied up during the "celebration" ceremony. He was really happy when these two boys showed up and they played football in the back yard!

Here's a nice shot of Rose Marie with Todd's nephew Nate and niece Marley. 

... and some more shots from the party as well as a couple of photos from the morning after when the cousins came back over, bringing bagels and coffee.


All-in-all, it was a terrific weekend.  I don't know that anyone shed any tears.  A few times, people got choked up when speaking about Bob, but - again - this was a much happier celebration of his life.  Great stories.  Great memories of a man who will be greatly missed!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Isabella is 18 months old today + a couple of updates before the next big post....

Isabella is 18 months old today!  She is a spit-fire (started really throwing tantrums over the past several weeks).  She now lays herself down slowly on the floor... lays her head down... then kicks up her legs & starts wailing!  She learned to do this after throwing herself to the floor a number of times.  She's smart too -- realizing that throwing yourself down hurts.  Slowly laying down then throwing a fit does not hurt!  :)  

She's really sweet -- still saying "hi" to all the strangers she meets and often blowing kisses or leaning in / giving kisses.  Even though it's hard to catch her smiling for a photograph lately, she is extremely happy and smiles a lot!
She grabs her feet and moves her fingers around on the bottom of her feet while saying "le le le le." (did I mention this before?)  It's her way of saying "tickle me!"

Her hair is getting longer... we're trying to hold out on getting it to the point that we can pull it back.  Oh-so-close!  Just like Mercer's hair, so many people just want to touch the curls and absolutely love the tresses!

She is CLIMBING now.  Yes, climbing.   (Enclosed:  a series of her climbing up into her high chair + a shot of her climbing the fence at Mercer's baseball game!)

She has started to do some artwork.  I took her to a Toddler Tuesday event at the Marietta museum.  There was a story about a cake that the instructor read then the kids were to draw a slice of cake like the one the woman was painting. I had to help with the basic shape, but Isabella did everything else on her own. 

She also likes to draw with markers.  Here is her first marker piece.

Isabella has been teething lately.  A few weeks ago, she cut an upper tooth on one side of her front teeth.  Last week, she cut another upper tooth on the other side.

Tonight, in a well-lit taekwondo studio (while we were waiting for Mercer at his lesson), something caught my eye as she sat next to me.  It looks like she has SEVERAL more bottom teeth on the side of her mouth that have also cut through.  Hmmm.. those were cutting in and we didn't even realize it!  No wonder she was up 2 - 3 - 4 times per night last week & a few weeks ago.  She was working on a lot more teeth than we thought! 

Yes - I mentioned that Mercer is in taekwondo.  We're trying this again at a studio near Todd's office.  It's much more reasonably priced but also is run by a guy we used to work with 10 years ago!  The guy is strict, but makes the kids laugh a lot as well.  We've already enrolled Mercer in summer camp there, as we feel that this will offer him structure / guidance on being disciplined while also having fun and burning off a lot of energy.

I have stopped my "intense" search for a job. Filing for unemployment insurance claims required that you apply for a minimum of 3 new jobs per week.  It was great to keep me motivated and proactive on the job-search front, but it was difficult.  It took hours upon hours searching different websites to find at least 1-2 things that was even relevant.  Most of the time, I couldn't find 3, so I researched private schools and wrote letters to headmasters stating my intention to change careers.  On average, I spent 20-30 (maybe even 40) hours a week looking for a job for those 14 weeks that I could file claims.  (all without daycare - which was especially tough.)  

At the end of April, I got a call from a guy who I had met with twice over the past couple of years.  A friend of mine worked with him in the green building business.  My friend has since moved on (to work at an organic farm), but he heard that I was out of work and needed some experienced part-time help.  That sounded like music to my ears!  I've been working there for a couple of weeks.  He's been really great so far knowing that I want to explore other things / seems to be pretty flexible.  In fact, I applied for another part-time job at a local nature center back in April; I will begin that work for a short 6-week period in early June & can work my green building contract work around it.

After securing both part-time jobs, I immediately turned my full-time attention... my overtime attention... towards studying.  I sat for an exam in early May that tests my competency in "middle grades science."  I crammed years worth of studying biology, chemistry, physics, geology /earth sciences, and astronomy into a short period of time.  Admittedly, I found chemistry to be most challenging, but I did really well on the overall exam!  I used a number of resources, however, I attribute my success to a series of websites designed for kids: / / / / (they're great!  check them out!)  

The exam I took shows that I am capable of teaching science concepts to kids in 4th - 8th grades.  Before taking the exam, I had to "qualify" by registering in a program that's designed for professionals transitioning into teaching.  A degree in architecture allows candidates to teach elementary and middle grades math or science.  

Science (specifically earth science and biology) appeals to me.  After passing a few of the required hurdles, I am now eligible / enrolled in a class this summer that is a cram-session for learning "Effective Teaching" strategies.  This is a long process, but once I take that course (the final "hurdle") the program organizers market me to metro Atlanta school districts.  Science, Math, English as a Second Language, and Special Needs are the 4 areas that are in demand here in Georgia.  Fingers crossed that a school will pick me up after I get through that teaching course!  Stay tuned.  It's been about 3 months in the making, but I'm well on my way to changing careers~~

This past weekend, we all went to New Jersey to be with Todd's family as they remembered his father.  May 11th would've been his birthday.  It was a great weekend.  I'll write a separate blog post about that shortly.