Sunday, May 22, 2016

Strawberries + spring sports + cub scout advancement + I survived school ~~

Mother's day was earlier this month.  We went strawberry picking at a small farm a little bit closer to home than the place we went the previous year.  

I thought it was going to be less commercialized, however, they had all sorts of "extras" that you could do while there.  

After our picnic, we - of course - had to go for the extras... the kids begged for the playground and the tractor ride (which - Mercer thought smelled bad!).  

And then we went to the petting zoo.  

And then there was strawberry ice cream.  (after LOTS of handwashing!!)

And then.....     :)  

Here are a few things that the kids made at school too.  (Giant envelope w/ hand & flower card picture inside + a ceramic bird with feathers and funny feet + a hand / bouquet.)

Mercer's birthmother, Danielle, even sent a card!  It was great hearing from her!!  She has some health issues (PCOS / diabetes) but is trying to get that under control AND - best news - she's going to college and is getting a degree in social services so she can help people who were on drugs stay clean.  Again -- so glad to hear about what she's up to.  It's been a couple of years since we heard from her. 

The extra couple of photos that follow are random things that they've also made at school / need to stash the images in the blog somewhere!!

Well, we tried to get Isabella into an organized sport, however, it did not go great.  We have to remind ourselves that she IS ONLY 3!!  But, she is an ACTIVE 3 year old who likes to play ball of all sorts (including soccer) in the back yard.  She always gets dragged around to Mercer's events, so we thought it was time for her to get something of her own.  Oh well.  Maybe next year?  

This official soccer photo sums it up!  Isabella generally did not like to play during the games.  Occasionally, she did.  She even scored a goal in the 2nd to last game for those few minutes that she played.  

She liked playing before and after the games with her teammates, me, Todd, or her brother.  Her main objective of going to the soccer park was petting dogs after the game and eating her snack.  (Come to think of it, Mercer did not like soccer when he was 3 either.  Now, he's dying to play~)  

We talked to the coach at the end of the season and he said she was a "ray of sunshine."  awww... that was sweet.  He enjoyed her kind heart -- always giving him and the other coach hugs and kisses (on the arm or back of the hand -- which has been sort of her thing lately!).   

She was happy about getting a trophy.  She asked:  "did I get this for winning?"  "um.... no... that's not how sports are run these days.  You got a trophy for playing."  She actually seemed sort of mad about that -- she screamed "no - I got it for winning~"   

Mercer played spring baseball again.  He did pretty well for his team even though they did not win very often.  

He ended up making the 7-8 year old all-star team for the Little League that he plays in -- a team made up of 13 7-8 year old boys.  As soon as his season ended, they geared up to have practice EVERY DAY (each week night after school + weekends).  They will start playing games soon against other nearby Little Leagues.  We'll post pictures and an update on that once the games get going~   (His first game is actually on his last day of 2nd grade!  This is a new experience for him and for Todd. 

Mercer had another new experience:  he "crossed-over" into a new group in Cub Scouts.  He was a Wolf -- now he's officially a Bear.  The yellow hats & neckerchiefs are from before the crossover.  The new ones are light blue -- representing his den's new designation as Bear after crossover.  I am proud of him for working so hard the past couple of months.  

He and I did a lot of work in March & April to make sure he crossed this finish line!  There are a lot of fun activities in the Cub Scout book as well as things that are just important to discuss which we may not have tackled a conversation on just yet (or ever). 

The older boys help the younger boys by tying on their new neckerchief.  
Also, Todd took Mercer on a spring scout camping trip which helped him earn some other requirements.  He earned at least 5 or 6 "extra" awards for doing activities and learning about caring for those with disabilities / growing things in gardens / swimming safety / etc.

The Pack times the "crossover" with the end of school.  Last year, we signed up in Aug / Sept.  Now that we know what we're doing, we can actually go ahead and get a jump on some of his activities for the new Bear requirements this summer.  They have a lot of fun activities -- things that I feel are important to discuss with Mercer -- so we'll try to dive in (after a little break, of course).  

I have crossed a milestone at my school.  Our first summer break has officially begun.  I "survived" technically.   When I was hired, the head of school kept saying "just get us through May.... just get us through May."  - I was also asked to only teach 10th grade Chemistry.   However, when I started, I was also told I had to teach 7th grade Life Science, 8th grade Physical Science (which is what I used to teach at the other school) + 9th grade Biology.  I was comfortable with Chemistry b/c I taught intro level Chemistry in my Physical Science course previously... but Life Science & Biology?!  YIKES!

4 preps.  Four.  That - by any teacher's standards that I've talked to -- that is pretty insane.  Yes - speaking from experience - it was!  I was not sleeping a lot over the 4 months I've been teaching at this school.  Mix in a prep for a 3 day a week "elective" on architecture for 10 weeks or my new elective called "2 dimensional drawing and design."  So - in reality - there were 5 preps throughout the week.    

I am hoping that I will get more sleep now that the main school year is over.  Our two summer sessions (3 weeks each) are supposed to be easier for us as teachers, but still enriching to the students.  We will tackle a project / teach a special unit to all students and come up with cohesive project for all grades.   I love the subject of biomimicry... maybe I could teaching that during one of the 3 week sessions?!  I've already pitched a couple of biomimicry projects for 2 of our students who are attending summer camps the month of June / won't be at school & need some science work to do.  :)    

I technically have 2 weeks off now, but have offered to work one of the school's camps (for extra pay).  Mercer doesn't get out of school 'til Wednesday.  He'll come with me on Thursday.  I'm actually looking forward to this camp, as I'll be working with 2 other science teachers.  (one of them is talking about making rocket fuel out of candy -- so cool!)  The kids registered for the camp are K-6, so I'll get to work with more enthusiastic ages of kids too.  

Staff kids are ALWAYS welcome at camp -- which is nice.  Isabella will go for the week and get a little more science into her day.   As mentioned, Mercer will come with me one day as well.  I may have some fun stuff to report on the next blog post about that as well!

 Meanwhile, I hope you've enjoyed these happier photos of Isabella at school.  I am happy to report that she finally called the school "HER" school.  Up until recently -- she kept talking about her old school / she was going to MY school.  We really loved our "family" at the other preschool, but there's a pretty great "family" where she is now.  They all love her very much~  

Finally - any recent blog post would not be complete w/out some Isabella loving on bugs photos!!  Her + rollie pollies.  

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April's random bits, spring break fun, happy adoption day~

For Spring Break, Mercer, Isabella, and I popped up to NC for a few days.  We visited Grandma, Great-Grandma, Great-Grandpa, and Aunt Becky / Uncle Tony.  "The Greats" enjoyed watching the kids play in the living room, dance and chase each other. It was cute to see Great-Grandma picking on / teasing Great-Grandpa about some stuff he did while in the Navy.  

Isabella demanded his attention -- later, she walked right up to him / planted a kiss on his cheek out-of-the-blue.  It was the SWEETEST thing and made his day!  (It made my day too~)  

We went to the NC Zoo as well, courtesy of Grandma who has season passes.  The main thing that we did there was check out the new polar bear exhibit and play on the playground.  

Isabella was GLUED to this exhibit.  She kept saying over-and-over "he loves me" about the one that would continuously swim up & flip right in front of her.  We played kickball, blew bubbles, collected ants in a jar and flew a remote control bird in the big field at Grandma's house too.  

After stopping at home for a day, we went to Vogel State Park in Blairsville for a few days.  This year's trip was very different.  There were NO mice in our cabin, thankfully... but it was also very cold, so there was no paddle-boating on the big lake this time.   It actually hailed on us the first hike of our trip!

We played putt-putt, rode bicycles, went on some hikes, tried to spend some time by the bonfire (but the kids were too cold), and went fishing.  Isabella even tried her hand at fishing -- basically casting off and reel back in constantly.  Mercer spotted a white-tailed deer on one of our hikes.  He also read books to Isabella every night for bed.  <3 

Mercer and I did a lot of nature-inspired / Georgia Park activities and ALMOST completed enough to earn his 2nd GA State Parks Junior Ranger badge.  Since it was chilly, there was a little more time to do these book-type of activities.  We also knocked out a bunch of requirements for his Cub Scouts as well.  

We still have a few more things to do - but - he's close to advancing in scouts.  Two weekends ago, Mercer and I planted out our community garden plot. (Documented for his Cub Scouts - this is an optional activity for which he can earn recognition.)  Isabella and I usually walk or ride her little bike over to care for the garden.  

Last weekend, I talked to the kids about buoyancy, did a stormwater activity, and did some recycling things.  

The kids should earn a World Conservation badge along with advancing to the next level.   He does like earning the recognition.  I like doing the activities and "making" him complete certain nature-y things even if it is to earn a badge.  It gets him outside -- no matter the reason~ 

Mercer was in the newspaper.  (I meant to post this in back in February.  oops!)  This newspaper photo was taken at a brand new camp which was offered for the first time at a renovated city facility near our house.  He had a good time.  I heard from a contact at the city that the people there really liked Mercer.  (He won a good sportsmanship award at the end of the week.)  

But - the thing that I think it the coolest:  when he and I went to help out at a community service event about a month later, several of the men who worked at the facility recognized him.  Knew his name.  Asked how he was doing.  LOVE that people in our city / community know him!  (And we are proud of him for being considered polite, considerate and a good sportsman too - of course.)

This summer, Mercer will be going to a different sports camp that is run by our local policemen -- a good subset of people for him to get to know as well!   He's playing baseball again this season, but he really wants to play soccer.  Perhaps there's a camp he can do one week while I'm not working?  (My school is a year-round school.) He is all about movement, activity, and sports.

Mercer's baseball league was invited to walk the warning track at Turner (Braves) field.  This year, we went as a family.  It was pretty cool and worth waiting in a queue for about 1 1/2 hours 'til showtime!  Isabella did well with the waiting - amazingly.  (We brought stuff for her to do.) "Coach" kept the older kids occupied with Uno cards during the 1 1/2 hour wait to walk the field.  

During the game - a Met's game - Mercer got to sit with his friends on the team, eat tons of junk food that his teammates shared ("hey cotton candy man"), and cut up with other boys during the game.  We stuck around 'til the end to watch the fireworks show.   (Knowing that Mercer doesn't like loud noises, we weren't sure what he would think of the show - but he said it was amazing!)  We didn't get home 'til after 11 -- we made a day of it!! more thing to blog about:  Isabella's adoption day!!  

On April 17th, we marked the 3 year anniversary that her adoption was finalized.  We made a big deal about her adoption day at breakfast.  We gave her a little gift (a bag full of fun little cooking accessories - which she is very interested in now).  
We ended the day with a family hike and picnic.  We also bought both kids a National Park Passport book -- the first stamp @ Kennesaw Mountain commemorating Isabella's adoption day!  This is something we've talked about doing / it will prompt us to visit more National Parks!

She will NEVER give us a smile with a straight face, it seems~

It was a beautiful day.  

We are grateful that feisty, crazy-haired fire-y girl is a part of our little family!!  

A few random bits about Isabella:

The cutest thing that she is saying now 
"Is it a deal?  Pinky promise?"

She is really sweet with people - often hugging them or kissing them on the hand.  She still hugs dogs.  ALL. THE. TIME.   She makes up and sings songs about anything & everything.  She asks you to sing with her, but when you start -- she says "no - let me show you."   She is strong-willed and wants to have her way, but, she speaks well, is genuinely concerned about people, and loves to entertain. 
She engages people / looks them directly in the eyes (sometimes grabbing their face and getting eye-to-eye to talk directly to them).  She makes people smile.

It will be fun watching her in the coming years!