Friday, May 27, 2016

2016 Summer Bucket List

And just like that, it feels like summer.  As tradition would have it, we've been plotting and dreaming the last few weeks of all the big and little things we can't wait to do together over the next few months of sunshine.  We've been brainstorming summer bucket lists for six years now and it's always a fun practice to ensure we are being creative and making the most of our days.  Afternoons at the pool, dinners on the deck, and neighborhood walks before bed make up our days, but this list provides a spark of novelty and excitement when we're looking for something fun to do.  I love how every year Cruz is able to contribute more, and that although there are always new idea, certain favorites have reappeared every single year.  Our afternoon bike ride excursion with pit stops at the playground for the kids and Mulligans' patio for the adults, annual strawberry picking day, and Main Street's Movies Under the Moon are among our favorites, but with each year brings kids a little bigger and experiences a little richer.  

Looking forward to the old and new this summer.  The kids are at such fun ages this year and I can't wait for some big adventures and all the easy going days in between.   

1.  Pitch a tent in the backyard (or go on a real camping trip)
2.  Go fishing (pack a picnic lunch)
3.  Movies Under the Moon - Big Hero Six
4.  Ride bikes and take pit stops at the playground and Mulligan's patio
5.  Host an outdoor If:Table
6.  Breakfast at Cup of Joe and a morning at the library
7.  Build a fire pit on our patio
8.  Devour a lobster roll at a roadside lobster shack
9.  Ride a ferris wheel at Old Orchard Beach
10. See a lighthouse
11. Pull in some lobster nets 
12. Explore Kennebunkport
13. Maid-Rites and chocolate shakes at the park
14. Clean all of our closets
15. Take the kids mini-golfing
16. Watercolors outside
17. Make a blueberry pie
18. Lay in the grass and tell stories about the clouds
19. Eat Menchies outside
20. Sing to the guitar by a campfire
21. Get Mila a big girl bed
22. Journal on the beach with my toes in the sand
23. Go pick berries - make strawberry milkshakes
24. Go for a walk in our pajamas - explore outside with flashlights
25. Go see Finding Dory
26. Spend a day at the zoo
27. Dunkin' Donuts and a morning at the park
28. A Barnes and Noble morning (with new chapter books to read)
29. Catch lightning bugs
30. Moscow Mules and a fire on the patio
31. A nature scavenger hunt at Katoski Greenbelt
32. Watch a sunset
33. Climb the hill to Prairie Lakes Church
34. A picnic, a new park, and parchment paper wrapped sandwiches
35. Make a deck fort
36. Breakfast burritos at the Farmer's Market
37. Make homemade ice cream
38. Plant the garden
39. Make a deck fort
40. Surprise Uncle Taylor with lunch
41. Fresh flowers for the house
42. Make dirt cups - talk about bugs
43. Take Cruz school supply shopping
44. Get burgers at La Calle and take a walk through campus
45. Splash in puddles in our rain boots
46. Newbo City Market on a Saturday morning
47. Grilled pizza night with friends
48. Hang some pictures up in our house
49. Share a bottle of vino with Beau on the patio at Luna
50. Run through all the sprinklers in the yard

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Our Preschool Graduate

Cruz graduated preschool last Thursday in one of the sweetest children's programs I have ever witnessed.  I mean, they walked down the aisle to the graduation song, for crying out loud.  Every bit of it, from the red and blue caps and gowns, to the rainbow colored tassels with a gold "2016" adorned on them, and their rendition of "Lean on Me" made for one special and memorable night for our big sweetheart.  

Cruz's preschool teachers, Ms. Nicole and Ms. Sara, started midyear after some expected turnover in our learning center's preschool.  Both fresh out of student teaching, these two girls blew us away with their creativity, their constant communication, and their easy going energy and patience.  Cruz loved his preschool days and it was always so fun for me to read Ms. Nicole's weekly updates to see what they were engaged in each week.  From their makeshift mitten and animal puppets to go with the story "The Mitten," to their Wacky Wednesday of Dr. Seuss week, or their study of insects complete with a family of caterpillars and a release ceremony when they turned to butterflies, they kept them busy and engaged in so many fun and creative learning activities.  They fueled such a spark for Cruz, one that I sure hope continues to burn as he marches through kindergarten next year.

It was no surprise Ms. Nicole and Ms. Sara planned an exciting last week for the preschoolers.  Monday afternoon, Cruz's class had a park day at Lookout Park.  Cruz helped me bake chocolate chip cookies the day before, and I, along with several other mamas, joined the class for a few hours that afternoon.  So many of the kids have been together since babies, and them, and even us parents have grown together over the years.  It was fun to see Cruz in his element with so many of his special friends, and nice to catch up with the sweet mamas that raise them.

Wednesday was their last day of preschool and the class voted to celebrate with a pajama party!  Afterwards, Ms. Nicole posted pictures of their party for us to see, complete with graduation napkins and plates, a photo booth with "grad" glasses and hats, and lots of graduation-inspired games, including one adorable "pin the hat on the graduate" game.  Cruz came home with a cumulative portfolio filled with artwork, pictures, and other artifacts from his year, as well as a paper sack filled with sweet gifts from his teachers.  There was a ring pop with a label that read "class ring", a container of bubbles, and some freezy pops to stick in the freezer.  

And as if they didn't work hard enough on their last week of preschool, their graduation ceremony was quite something.  There was a table lined with pictures of each graduate in a personalized frame, programs with their names and soon-to-be elementary schools as a way to keep in touch, and those sweet gowns that strangely gave me glimpses to thirteen years from now and a little brown eyed boy graduating high school.  As I tried to take his picture outside before the program, he was trying his best to be patient, but also easily distracted when he spotted his friends arriving.  Something tells me this will only get worse by his next graduation. :)

My parents and grandparents came as well and we had such a fun night together.  The kids were hilarious and adorable and I loved every minute of it.  They marched down the aisle so proud, sang their four songs, each of their unique personalities shining through, and encouraged and cheered for each other during special parts.  Cruz and his buddy, Eli, got to introduce the third song and when Cruz embraced his five seconds of fame and put their mic a little close to his mouth making for one loud announcement, he was embraced with equally loud cheers from his peers behind him.  When it was time to accept their diplomas, every child got to march up individually, shake Ms. Nicole's hand, then turn to the crowd and present their paper, smiling from ear to ear.  And every single one of them did this confidently, pride beaming from their cheesy grins.  It was precious.


My favorite performance of the night...Lean on Me.

We celebrated afterwards with ice cream cones at Four Queens and a few gifts for the new grad.  A five dollar bill from Great Grandma and Grandpa, a book called Flight School and a lego set from Grandma and Papa, and a new backpack for Kindergarten and Oh, The Places You Will Go, from us.  I asked his teachers to write him a little note on the inside cover and hope to do this each year of school.  

It was a big, exciting, and special week for the Cruz, and for us, too!  This school, and all the teachers he's had, have blessed us continually with the way they love on our kids.  And glad we don't have to say goodbye for a few more years, for this little lady will have her time someday, too.  Thankfully, not too soon. :) 

More pictures of Cruz, the graduate! 


Tuesday, May 24, 2016


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2016"

Cruz: Our preschool graduate.  He looked so very handsome in his new plaid shirt and gave me all the feels parading around in his red graduation gown before the program started.  It was one of the first times I've looked at him and caught glimpses of a grown up Cruz.  I can't handle it!

Mila: When she wakes up in the morning, usually between 7 and 7:30, she'll yell my name repeatedly until I hear her and and go to her room to rescue her out of her crib.  The other morning, she yelled "MOM!!!!" at the top of her lungs.  And when I walked into her room, she looked at me and as casually as ever said, "What you doing in here?"      

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Good Things // May

I'm typing this post in my quiet house, sipping hot coffee (emphasizing the word hot) out of my favorite Anthropologie mug, a monkey salad of bananas drizzled with warm almond butter and topped with a handful of blueberries, cashews and toasted coconut just waiting to be devoured, and my favorite orange vanilla candle burning beside me.  The semester has come to an end, the kids are in their last week of full-time daycare before summer vacation officially kicks off, and the garage is put back together after one massive and satisfying sale.  After a weekend of agonizing and continued prayers and talks with Beau, I decided to forgo being a student this summer and withdraw from my summer classes.  It's time to step back, reevaluate what I'm doing and where I'm headed, and be a little more purposeful rather than jumping through hoops and going through motions.  My whole life, I have always been a rule follower, and this time, it feels pretty amazing to break a few and just be.  I went to collect my final grade from my class last semester and discovered I received a B+, my first B since American Civilization my freshman year of college.  And you know what?  That felt pretty good, too.

Good things in May...

251.  Chilly Friday nights on the deck after the kids go to bed.  Hot tea, a warm blanket, and a new book.

252.  Fresh basil and ticking stripe napkins (or ticking stripe anything)

253.  Their picture stance, nailed to a tee.  After school detours that take us to unexpected places.

254.  The smell of fresh lilacs and the way they look wildly put together in my standard blue mason jar vase.

255.  Her mothering instincts with her babies, also wildly put together.  And how she pulled up her chair to where Cruz was playing, sat "Giraffe Baby" down beside her, and watched him like a spectator at a baseball game.

256.  Reading final reflections from my outdoor office. 

257.  Windows open and oddly, the sound of construction trucks digging new holes and cementing new roads.  The comfort of familiarity and a reminder of how far we've come.

258.  Flowers from Beau to celebrate the end of a year of Inquiry.

259.  Rain drops on tulips and sleepovers in Pella

256.  Those darn pink boots and the children's story I could write about them.  And that finger in her mouth, signifying her awareness of what she is about to do and how much her mama would not approve (but take pictures of anyway).

257.  Friday nights at one of our favorite playgrounds, chasing the kids in a game of tag, realizing we have arrived at that summer where we don't have a baby to carry or a diaper to keep on hand. 

258.  When she asks "Why because?" after every thing we say.

259.  That time he begged for a coin for the vending machines at Sam's and we said we didn't have any, and then he found 75 cents in his shoe, pulled it off, and said, "For safe keeping!" with that familiar twinkle in his eye. 

260. Mexican blankets spread on familiar hills at the playground.

261. This right here.  Freshly pedicured toes, my favorite sandals, this book, this snack, and my journal, all on an eight degree day in May, the first Friday after finals. 

262.  Superheros at the playground

263. Mojitos with Coconut La Croix while we wait for Beau to get home from work.

264. The return of snacks and play on the deck.  And stripes and polka dots and requests for only pink and purple freezy pops. 

265. Pretty flowers and the return of the window box on the front of the house.

266. Sundays


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