Sunday, August 17, 2014

summer wrap up and first days of school....

Here are a couple of photos of us with grandma and grandpa from our visit to North Carolina right before school started.

Isabella kept driving grandma crazy by taking toys to grandpa when she was asking Isabella to bring them to her.  It was almost like a game.  It was pretty funny! 

Aside from my insane summer schedule (working at the nature center / green building company / taking teaching test & classes) and Todd going above and beyond with watching the kids and juggling his work.... Mercer bumped around a bit too. 

He went to several different camps this summer.  He was supposed to go to a taekwondo camp for 6 weeks, but after the first week, it was cancelled. Only Mercer and one other kid signed up.  the owner of the studio couldn't afford to run it with only 2 children.  Stinks.  We were really hoping that he'd have a "martial arts summer" and learn a lot about focus / discipline / self-control.

Instead, he spent most of his weeks at a nearby church camp (Here's his official camp photo from the beginning of the summer with only 1 tooth missing at the time... the camp photos from the various activities throughout the summer which used to be on the church's website are gone now). 

Once a week, they went swimming.  They would take another off-site field trip during the week as well (such as roller-skating / a splash park / etc.)  Mostly, they played games, produced art, and did Bible-related activities.  Mercer said his first week that he read the entire Bible.  The whole thing. every word.  :)  At the end of the summer, the kids got up on stage at the nearby church that hosted the camp and sang a rap version of the 10 commandments.  Mercer kept saying he wasn't going up... he'd just watch. But - by the time the other kids were going up -- he went up there with them!  It was fun & we were proud of him for going up on stage in front of 1500+/- people in the congregation.

His last week of summer, we surprised him with a week at LEGO camp (it was a bit of a splurge).  He learned a little bit about floor plans and elevations, actually, as the guys that were running the camp used them to direct the teams to build houses.  He had a good time, but was a little frustrated that the team with the older kids kept winning the prizes each day and the "big prize" at the end of the week.  I kind of have to agree that they should've diversified the teams a bit instead of grouping by age.  Maybe the older kids' challenges were harder?
We found a video clip of one of his builds.

The day after we got back from our quick visit to North Carolina, we went to the elementary school open house to meet his teacher and see his classroom.  Later that day, Mercer and I did some fun stuff on his "official" last day of summer.  (Going out to lunch and to a splash park afterwards.)  Mercer started school on August 6th....  He's now in 1st grade.  Here's a photo from the first day.  Leading up to school, he didn't seem too excited.  But - having gone to the open house the day before - he really was.  He's having a good time so far (except for doing homework).  There was one day he had fun doing his homework:  he "wrote" his sight words with his finger in a plate of sugar.  Other than that, it's been tough getting into the swing of things. 
Isabella was NOT happy to get up early in order to walk with Mercer up to the bus stop.  (as seen in this crying baby first day shot below!)  She - unfortunately - can no longer sleep in every day like she used to.  She started going to daycare full-time a few months ago.  (Mercer started going full-time when he was 18/ 19 months.  She was around the same age when she started going full-time as well.) 

She has been able to sleep in / I would go to my green building consulting job late in the mornings.  Now, however, she will have to get up early two days a week, as I am teaching school at a nearby "hybrid" school. 

I had my first day of teaching school this week!  (Here's a first-day "selfie.")  I'm teaching Physical Science to 2 groups of 8th grade girls, 2 groups of 8th grade boys, and a mixed class of 9th - 12th graders.  The school in which I'm teaching, Johnson Ferry Christian Academy, follows an interesting model.  The kids are in class 2 days a week and at home 3 days a week.  Some have told me that parents send their middle and high-schoolers there to avoid unsavory things that happen in public schools in the upper grades.  I've been learning more about the exceptional athletes, however, that attend because of the more flexible schedule.  Some of the students apparently are on their way to the pros or the Olympics.  I don't know who they are yet, but that's kind of cool.  I can see the value of an alternative education in that case. 

Isabella is 21 months old now.  She's at an adorable age.  She has a sweet sweet voice.  And - she talks a lot!  We can't understand a much of it, but some stuff we can.  She also gives the *BEST* hugs.  Her little arms wrap around your neck and she squeezes tight. My heart begs her to never let go!  She lights up when you walk into a room.  If she's in her crib - she stands up with outstretched arms.  If you walk into the room from the front door for instance, she will run with outstretched arms saying "mommy mommy mommy" or "daddy daddy daddy!"  (Mercer used to do this too).  I hope that never stops either! :)

Mercer had already moved up to the toddler room by this age when he was at the same daycare.   Isabella doesn't quite seem as ready - but it will happen soon.  The lady in the infant room is an angel -- I would love for Isabella to stay longer if they would let her!  (I think she is required to move up by 2, so her days with Ms. Angela are numbered.) 

People keep telling us to hold on to these days.  Baby / toddler / Kindergarten / elementary school... that they are the sweetest days.  We are tired, but we ARE enjoying them immensely!  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Remembering Aunt Sandra

We went to North Carolina in April.  For some reason, something made me push to see Aunt Sandra.  She was working - OK - let's go visit her after she gets off of work.  Not off of work yet?  We'll come back.  We did.  We ended up having dinner with her - which was the last time we saw her. 

I mentioned our visit in the blog post from April -- confessing that we did not get a photo with her that trip.  I wish we had a photo.  At that point, she was already suffering and in pain from a tumor in her brain - however she did not know what was causing the pain.  That next week, she went to the doctor and found out about the tumor... what had been causing her pain.  She went through chemo for awhile, however, treatments were stopped and she was admitted to hospice shortly after.  Mom, grandma, grandpa, cousins Tracy and Mandy were there visiting her almost every day while she was in hospice.  Her co-workers went to visit her a lot too.  She made a mark on a lot of people.  She had a lot of folks around her and felt a lot of love.

Here's a photo from the end of May that mom took.  She's seated with cousins Tracy (across from her), Mandy (next to her), Grandpa (across), and grandchildren Cooper and Caitlin (leaning on the tree).  

She always worked so hard.  She laughed a lot.  She loved her grandchildren so much.  They meant the world to her and she spent a lot of time with them.  I remember times with her during the summers that I spent in NC.  Roller-skating in the basement.  Spending the night there with my cousins.  Playing games.  Watching cable.  Eating junk food.  Riding our bikes to the store nearby.  Jumping on the trampoline.  Taking a beach trip with her and "the girls."

I remember her like this more recently (pulled from previous blog posts).  Even though the photos are goofy (especially the last ones with the funny teeth), they capture her spirit.

"Fun" Aunt Sandra. Willing to be zany.  Acting crazy.  Loving on the babies / grand kids in the family.  Making others laugh.  Spreading joy.

She always went out of her way to visit us when we came to NC and even come for extra visits if she could squeeze it in.  She made our little family feel very special.  We have a spot in our hearts where we will remember the fun times we had.... remember her fondly.  

There was a nice write-up the paper:

Sandra Nunn Lawson passed peacefully on Friday, July 25th. She is remembered as a kind and peaceful person who loved her family and the simple pleasures of life. She had a great comedic wit and infectious smile.
She was the proud Grandmother to Cooper Lee Jones and Kaitlyn Clontz. Her grandchildren gave her much fulfillment and joy. She enjoyed crafting and was a skilled bookkeeper. In her younger days, Sandra was awarded the annual Randolph County Basketball Player of the year award while playing for Liberty High School.

Sandra was married to Roger Lawson, for over thirty years, who predeceased her in 2003. Sandra leaves her daughters Tracy Clontz, of High Point, and Mandy Jones, of Greensboro, to cherish her memories. Surviving Sandra are her parents, Melvin Cornell Nunn, Sr. and wife, of seventy-one years, Inez Simpson Nunn, of Liberty. Also remembering Sandra's gentle spirit includes her siblings, Gloria Ann Moore, of Liberty, Mel Nunn and wife, Erika Nunn, of Staley, and Edward Nunn and wife, Rhonda Nunn, of Randleman.

Sandra's family is conducting a private service at her request.


We are honored to have had the opportunity to have spent as many of our days with her as we could.  I'd say that she had a life well-lived!!  xoxo