Aug 27, 2015

London's 1st Day of Kindergarten


London just about jumped out of bed the first day of school last week. She was so excited to get moving on this new beginning in her life. Cameron and I both wanted to be there with her at the bus stop that morning, so he made sure to get Sydney to daycare early. While we waited for Cameron to get back we had a quick photo shoot in the front yard. I think London's smile tells you just how excited she was for the day.


We ended up waiting for the bus for a little while. We were told to arrive 10 minutes prior to it's arrival and were provided a 5-minute window of when to expect the bus. I think the bus was running a little behind that morning. And now my experience has found that we can leave the house 10 minutes later. I've even gotten to adjust my alarm clock by 10 minutes and may even get to add more time to it each morning. We're still arriving a bit too early.


The extra time that morning gave us more time to run through the rules of the bus and school, as well as what London's morning and after-school routine would be.


We are still reviewing all these items this week as well, even though she does have most of it down. London did skip breakfast Thursday and Friday last week. I think she just wants to go play. And she may not be that hungry - daycare doesn't serve lunch until about 9/9:30 AM and while we did send her off with a snack of cereal each morning for early breakfast, London had recently stopped wanting it. Luckily, the kindergarten class gets a class snack at first recess, which is at 9:30 AM and London was eating almost her entire lunch all 3 days.


London was one of only 2 new kindergartners riding the bus that first day. Luckily, it was the little girl she had made friends with the day before at orientation! The bus driver did a great job greeting the girls, too.


The first day didn't end there for Cameron and me. We headed to the school after London got on the bus and waited for her there. We walked with her to the lunch room where we got her set up in the school's system for breakfast and lunch meals. Most days London will be taking a lunch from home, but once a week we figure she can choose a day to get school lunch and it makes it easier all around to have her get breakfast there.

London has yet to get a school lunch since last week when we mentioned on Friday that she could get school lunch she insisted on a packed lunch instead. Luckily, all we really have to do is throw a sandwich together and that morning she wanted PB&J.

After breakfast and learning the plate clearing rules, we made sure London made a visit to the bathroom before heading for the playground. And good thing we did, because we had no control once we got to the playground - London literally went sprinting after her new friend and the playground. The bell for class to begin happened soon after so we all filed into the classroom. London was greeted by her teacher and quickly taught the morning routine of moving her magnet to what type of lunch she had for the day and putting her backpack in a cubby. We then gave London a hug and kiss, saying our goodbyes. We observed a few short moments more before heading out.

I needed to get to work and we still needed to get a few things cleared up in the office, plus we wanted to turn in our information for the Parent Council (it's like PTA).

Then Cameron and I had to survive the day at work worrying about how London's first day was going. We both had fears she wouldn't make it to the After School Care program and end up on the bus home instead. I had visions of her waiting at the bus stop waiting for us while Cameron worried she would get tired of waiting and try to walk home. We may only live 1 1/2 miles from the stop, but there is not sidewalk, nor a light to cross a street that people speed along. And there are sometimes unsavory people walking these roads as well.

Of course, then we were late picking her up due to a last minute need for ice from my work for an on-site event! We were only late by 15 minutes or so, though and London was none the wiser. She'd made it to the After School Care program and was just finishing up snack when we walked up. And bonus, her new friend is in the after school program with her too!

Within 10 minutes, London was asking if she was going to get to go back to the new school and was beaming ear to ear when she heard she would. She's doing well considering the change, though we expect to see more of an effect on her in about a month - it seems like changes take a month to sink in with her. Hopefully, she'll be the same as now, happy and enthusiastic!

Aug 25, 2015

Kindergarten Orientation

We survived London's first week of Kindergarten! And I'm happy to report things are going well.

As you know the day before school started, Cameron, London and myself attended Kindergarten Orientation.

London loved it. She got to meet her teacher, have a snack and go for a bus ride around the area. She even made a new friend before we left.

Orientation was only about an hour and a half in time. Unfortunately for Cameron and myself, along with the other parents, about 20 minutes were spent waiting. It seems there is a new school secretary and she is still learning the ropes. She wasn't aware that she was to start the parents' presentation before introducing the principal and then going over paperwork with us. I still think she could have figured it out going over the paperwork we received since it included a detailed agenda by time, but oh well. None of it took long or felt rushed so it wasn't too much of a waste.

In the end, paperwork got done and then we got to meet London's teacher. Ms. Tudor seems like the ideal kindergarten teacher. She actually attended this same school when she was little, as did her kids. She had a few handouts for us to help explain how the kids would learn to read and do math based on the new teaching standards set by the state. I think Math will be new to all of us with how Common Core Math is taught but so far it seems easy and understandable. Then again, we haven't had any homework sent home yet, either. We were told that the emphasis is on reading this year and that is what most homework will focus on.

We left with a few unanswered questions only because the Secretary needed to get the answers for us, but otherwise we were ready. As ready as any of us could be. Cameron and I both got a bit nervous for how the next day would go. I'm not sure London had those nerves though, especially after orientation. She showed more nerves for that than the first day. 

Aug 18, 2015

London's Preschool Graduation



Today London, Cameron and I head to Kindergarten orientation with her new school! And tomorrow will be her first official day. But before all this, I wanted to take time to recognize her Preschool graduation. It took place a few weeks back.

The "Stage" and graduates seats

The graduation itself was a relatively affair. The management and teachers there understand all too well the attention span of the graduating audience. 

London had her wave down as she entered - it just happened to be to the wall!

But she got the hang of it
We arrived a little early and I am so glad we did. There had to have been 25 kids graduating and each family was "supposed" to only bring up to 4 people total (outside the grad). I noticed several families come in with many more. Having arrived early, we were able to snag seats on the aisle in row 2. Before long, it was standing room only and while the room had been cold in temperature when we arrived, it quickly warmed up. 


London got a little bored during the opening remarks and decided trying to catch the tassel in her mouth was more fun!
After a few words of advise and direction from the daycare director, the kids marched in. They were so cute in their caps and gowns. London even got to keep her cap and tassel. 

London up leading The Phoenix School Graduation Song


After a few more remarks and teacher introductions, the kids sang a song about starting Kindergarten. The each child's name was called, and each kid walked across the "stage", posed for pictures and received their diploma. 



This definitely took the longest. London had a great time, even being one of the three kids selected to lead the kids in the song. Plus, she got to see some friends that have already left the daycare to move on to their new "big kid" schools. 

London was the first to get out of her gown. It was a little short and covered up her favorite dress.

After the ceremony, cake and refreshments were served, but not too many people stuck around. The ceremony was held in the evening, so most kids were pushing their bedtimes already.  


We have been talking about Kindergarten a lot with London, telling her how exciting it is going to be and all the new friends she is going to make. Soon after her graduation she admitted she was nervous for kindergarten, but in  the last week she has grown more and more excited. I think it has helped that she is one of the last kids to head off to kindergarten. In the mornings she gets to see some kids from her class before they get bused to school and then after school for those enrolled in after school care, so I think she is getting to hear what they get to do and has been able to see that they are doing fine, but now she's ready for it to be her turn. 

I'm still not sure if she ate her cake or just smeared it on her face! The piece she got had black lettering.
London won't be returning to the daycare until next summer though. We are very fortunate that the new school offers after school care and we are able to get childcare covered ourselves (with extended family) the few holidays and vacation closings we will be faced with during the school year. 


Stay tuned to hear how orientation and the 1st day go! 

Aug 13, 2015

Pardon Our Dust

Here's a view of the dining room on the day we moved in.
The summer garden has been keeping me busy these days and I've been doing all I can to keep up with the Fig tree harvest. Every other day I am outside picking figs. I've made a ton of preserves from it and am now simply dehydrating every night after a harvest. And, this is the first week the girls have not had swim lessons Monday through Thursday evenings! 

Again, from moving day, a view from the family room into the dining room and kitchen.

One or both of the girls has had swim lessons Monday through Thursday every week for six weeks straight this summer! They both made solid progress in becoming self-sufficient swimmers, but also have a ways to go. London needs to build her confidence and Sydney needs to grow up some more so she is less top heavy and can actually swim on her own. I give it to her - she sure tries!

This is the wall we are tearing down. You can see Cameron's masking tape outlining where the new footprint of the pantry will go.

And while we have been busy, a lot of it is nothing new, even to this blog, so I haven't been inclined to write much. But that's about to change. 

A better view of the masking tape foot print. Of course the wall we are taking down, I just painted!
All the harvesting of the summer garden has led to a lot of canning. To the point that the relatively nice-sized hall closet next to the master bedroom that has served as a makeshift, albeit far away, pantry, is filled to capacity. We are in desperate need for a real pantry. 

Cameron could hardly wait to start the demo

And, we have determined, we need to renovate the girls bathroom to add in a second sink. Yes, at not even 3 years old and 5 years old, they fight over the sink! I thought we had at least until Sydney started kindergarten, 2 years from now. 

We've gotten even farther than this picture depicts - Cameron has removed all the way up to where the hammer is hanging out in this picture

We have also decided, after a BBQ at our house over Memorial Day weekend, that we need two bathrooms accessible to guests over a Master Suite. See, when we have friends over I'm great at getting our house picked up and cleaned but I always ignore our bedroom, so the door just gets closed. And then when the girls' bathroom is occupied and someone needs one, they then have to battle two dogs to get through the door of our room to get to the master bath, which I also admit is never cleaned because I ignore that along with our room. So guests get to see the utter chaos that is our bedroom should the need for two bathrooms arise - which seems to happen more and more now that all our kids are out of diapers. 

This is why clearing out my closet took a weekend

All these revelations have led to renovation and redesigning discussions between Cameron and me. We've even gone so far as to get a piece of plexy glass to draw out our house's blueprint outline onto so we could see proposed changes visually. We used a Sharpie for every place we know the walls currently up will stay. And we used a dry erase marker for any walls we may move, remove or change. We also discovered that Sharpie on plexy glass can be erased using a Q-tip and Nail Polish Remover. 

It was an obstacle course to walk through because it is so narrow

At one point the plan had been to eventually turn the master closet into a laundry room. But after some discussions this has changed. We are now going to make the master closet the new pantry! See, the master closet backs up into the dining room, which will eventually be enveloped by the kitchen any how. And one wall was part of our long family room, so it was where we put all the girls toys that weren't in their rooms. 

I did it though - here's my temporary closet all loaded up and a photo bomb by Gibson!

That's all changed now. Two weekends ago the girls and I relocated all their toys into their rooms. And last weekend I emptied the master closet. Most of my clothes, since I was the only one using that closet (Cameron has two closets in his office), were moved to the small coat closet that separates the front entrance hall and the back hall that accesses the bedrooms, bathroom and other closets. Other clothes were moved to dresser drawers, hung in one of Cameron's closets, or donated. Hey, when you're moving them around you might as well go through them to try and downsize some too, right? 

All cleared out. I accomplished this on Saturday, the only problem is...

The rest of the master closet housed all my craft supplies. That has all be packed up in clear storage bins and will soon reside in  the garage. Right now it's all in our dining room (we have a little garage re-organization/cleanup to do, too). Our house, in general, is a total disaster right now. But it will be worth it when I have my pantry! 

The clear out left our room looking like this and...

The master bedroom will still retain a small closet, so my clothes won't be in the hall forever. My craft supplies will be regulated to the garage until further projects/plans can take place.

Our hall like this. The hall is better as is our bedroom. The dining room, not so much. Garage clean up is in our future, and possibly shed clean up.

The plan for the new pantry is actually to extend the closet out a couple of feet, as space in the family room is available. That way we maximize the space potential and pantry usability. We're going to build a barn door to add a nice design element and use Ikea's ALGOT closet system to create the structure of the pantry shelves.
 

I can hardly wait! Luckily, Cameron has already started the demo on the outside of the wall that is shared with the family room. He also used masking tape to outline the new footprint of the pantry into the family room. We want to try and salvage some of the shelving and racking in the closet to re-purpose in the new, smaller closet. Once the shelving and racking is removed, we can blast through the wall completely.

For now, enjoy the before and early demo pictures. I'll do my best to give updates. Our plan is to have the pantry completed in time for Sydney's birthday this October. 



Jul 31, 2015

More Fig Tree Love



I didn't think it was possible, but I am more in love with our Fig tree than ever before. Why you ask? Because I've actually been able to harvest some figs and have been playing around with fig compote or fig jam recipes. The thought of the scent the jam fills our house with brings a smile to my face. Even Cameron remarked on it during my first attempt. The best way to describe the scent is to simply say "Christmas". If you think about Christmas and the scents associated with it, that was how our house smelled the very first time. 


The ability to harvest actual figs from the tree happened on a whim. We knew the tree had fruit on it, but upon last check, it was all green. Sunday, Cameron was heading out on an errand and surprised a flock of birds out of the tree. That's when he noticed some figs has turned. We've read the key to making the most of the figs on a fig tree is to get to them early - otherwise the birds will decimate the crop before you have a chance. Cameron came in before leaving on the errand to tell me the time was right. 


Luckily, I was already processing the most recent harvest from our summer garden any how, so adding figs to the mix wasn't an issue. I was able to get about 2 lbs of Figs off that first harvest. I am now going out every other day or daily getting the just ripened fruit off as quick as I can. The birds still have plenty, as the tree is almost as tall as the house, which means I can't reach the upper branches. Maybe if I had a ladder but that's more fruit than I can process any how. 


Now I'm having fun testing jam/compote recipes. I may even try drying some of the figs and then using in a Fig Bar recipe I found on MarthaStewart.com!

I've already told Cameron he either needs to find a way to keep my fig tree or plant me a new one now so when the day does arrives that I have to say goodbye to this one, I have another one to love!