Summer is Here

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”
- Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
A Tale of Two Cities
Well, we made it. The school year is over summer is upon us. In our house we now have a first grader and fourth grader.  I didn’t think I was old enough to have a fourth grader, yet here I am.
Both girls made honor roll for the year, and scored exceptionally well on their standardized testing this spring. I can brag, because they surely didn’t get their scholastics from me. Two years of private tutoring for the SAT’s and I finally managed to break 900. Roll tide! Hours of studying, starting days in advance, earned me a B+. Must be nice to have smarts come to you naturally. Now I have to see to it that the girls don’t waste it.
Seems like just yesterday, it was the first day of school.

First Day of Kindergarten and 3rd Grade

And now here we are. More confident, a little bit taller, and whole lot older.

Last Day of Kindergarten

Last Day of 3rd Grade
It’s hard to believe that in just two short years, B will be getting ready to enter middle school. Honestly, I can’t even wrap my head around it. Instead, I will enjoy today– having my ‘junior babysitter’ help with me Raynes, walk in the neighborhood with me, and talk about fashion and movies until the cows come home.

 I best make the most of each day, because in the blink of an eye, I know they will be in middle school and high school.  My, oh my.
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Pearls and Horseshoe Crabs

I often times throw around the term “bookworm” referring to anyone who reads at least one book a month. In part, because I am envious of those that make time to read, and because reading an entire book a month, at this stage of life, is impressive.
Never before have I actually known a real bookworm. That is, until Kenley. My girl is an avid reader.  Any book she can get her hands on, she will read. She has probably read each of her books 15 times over. It doesn’t matter. So long as she can read aloud, she is happy.

When she gets home from school, she throws her LL Bean backpack in the hallway, slips off her gold pom-pom sandals, and waddles back to her pink and brown bedroom where I find her enthusiastically doing this.

Beginning this summer, we will once again be making weekly trips to the nearby public library to quench her thirst for literature.

This love of reading really began this year. K had a wonderful, patient, attentive kindergartner teacher who we all adore. Early on, she picked up on Kenley’s love of books and consitently fueled it with library books and allowing Kenley to read to the class every week.

With a classroom full of adorable friends and parents, I had already braced myself to be let down next year with a new teacher- no way would we ever have such a sweet group of friends and perfect teacher for Kenley. K’s first grade teacher would have big shoes to fill.

Kenley’s class field trip to the coastal marine lab
Photography by Susan Bouolo

After wringing my hands, I even set up a conference with Mrs. S last week to feel her out to see what first grade teacher might be best suited for my youngest daughter, and if Mrs. S would be able to help with some match making. If only Mrs. S could move to 1st grade.

Kenley’s end of the year party

Well, guess what teacher is moving to first grade? Mrs. S and the entire class. It’s a new program called “looping” where the teacher moves to the next grade level, and students are able to move up with the teacher, with parent’s permission. This helps to eliminate the ramp up time for teachers at the beginning of the school year, and strengthens the classmate’s relationships as well.

My girl lays out her school clothes each night, then accessorizes them as well before she goes to bed.
Photograph by Susan Boulo

This was after I found out that Britton’s teacher, whom she is crazy about.. is also looping!
Out of the 48 lower school teachers, three are looping, and both my girls are keeping their teachers. With all the changes the girls have experienced, particularly Britton who moved schools in the middle of elementary, this is such a blessing.

All that eye twitching I did last summer… for nothing.  God really is in control of everything.

Pearls and crabs- why not?

25 Random Things

Back in the day, when Facebook was new and fun, I once replied to a request to write 25 random things about yourself. For whatever reason, I actually did it. My friend, Darby, recently pointed out #19. Irony is a funny  thing.

*  The below was composed in 2009. 

1. After having my kids, I could care less about watching “A baby story” on TLC. I don’t care about your delivery story!

2. On a shy scale of 1-10, I am a 12!

3. I have seen every episode of little house on the prarie- three times over. I secretly wished I could live in walnut grove with the Ingalls family.

4. My grandfather was a concert violinist (the FSU music building named after him)- I, however, have no musical talent and gave up piano early on

5. In my next life I want to be a country singer with big white teeth, diamonds and a jet .

6. I am obsesssed with taking lots of photos of our children, then immediately uploading, printing and putting them in a photo book with dates/names/place (see #12).

7. One of my fears is that I will get cancer.

8. I am a homebody- if I got locked in my house for 2 weeks I would be content.

9. I rarely spent the night out as a child because I would get “homesick”. I would fake a headache so my parents would come get me.

10. My husband and I have the same Myers-Brigg personalities- ISFJ, and lived 2 miles apart for 10 years before we met. He rocks and I love him more now than ever.

11. Daniel Boone was my 7th great grandfather- my dad was Daniel Boone Kuersteiner

12. I am type “A” and like routines, planning, schedules, and lists.

13. Some of my closest friends today, are those from my childhood.

14. My youngest daughter was born with several congenital heart defects- including two holes in her heart.

15. She had open heart surgery at 17 months with subsequent complications- I thank God each day for this now healthy, precious child that is still with us.

16. I don’t like talking on the phone

17. Big crowds overwhelm me and small talk makes me tired

18. People call me ‘Random Landrum’ because I am often lost in my own thought- saying off the wall things. Life is much more interesting this way.

18. I believed in Santa Clause until middle school when my parents finally told me the truth because the others kids were making fun of me (incidentally, I cannot add- as this is the second #18 I noticed),

19. I love my two girls- would have no idea what to do with a little boy.

20. My dream car growing up was a brown thunderbird with a big eagle on the hood

21. I miss my Dad and wish he could have lived to meet my husband and see my children

22. I would rather travel to Wyoming/Montana (or St. Teresa), than to Europe any day!

23. My sister and I were always at different stages growing up (3.5 years apart), but she is my best friend now.

24. When I was little, I used to play ‘secretary’ with a telephone and notepad and pretend like I was transferring calls. I later decided that I wanted to be a cashier at the supermarket since they got to use scanners and credit cards machines.

25. I flipped my jeep (and flattened it) on my way home from college- my mom watched from the car she was driving behind me. I crawled out of the crumpled car with not so much as a scratch.

God must have known I had a greater purpose

Memorializing Memorial Day

Along with hauling a car full of babies, pack-n-plays, Roaring Waters, diapers, towels, powder formula, turkey sandwiches and hot pink goggles- I also brought along my camera.

With a click, click here. And a click, click there.

Score- pack and play on the island.

Our little island was a bit busier than usual today.

After 45 minutes of crying in his portable bed, that most adults would pay to sleep in today, he finally gave up.

We boated on over with four adults and six children…..

The cruised back down the river looking at the shrimp boats.

No swim trunks and a mildew life jacket. That’s how we roll.

Auntie Jes and her crew… Addie, Tanner and Jake. No wonder we rarely see one another, looks like we have been busy.

Typical boy, likes to hang out in the captains chair watching the instruments and steering wheel with his ol’ man. Yes, that’s the mildew I was referring to. We ain’t too proud to beg.

And a little fresh seafood to cap off a Saturday.

We stopped by the ‘beach house with the attic’ – when someone became irritated that we were not leaving our dogs at home for another 12 hours so she could spend the night. Day trip, my dear.

Saw this FB update that Mom did while we were driving home. Toot, toot.

Actually, I just got bored in the car and tried to tinker with my camera settings some.

We are seriously debating doing it all over again tomorrow….

Just have to finish washing the sand out of the beach towels first.

Parenting Lesson of the Week

We are in the midst of swim lessons with Britton. As a parent, you are constantly learning. What I have learned, most recently, is that just because your kids learn to swim, doesn’t mean you get to stop taking lessons.  Apparently I missed that parenting memo.

Perhaps my professional doggie paddle is frowned upon by the adult swimming community.

Looks like Kenley will be swimming at the next session, along with sister
In fact, you continue on with lessons, perfecting your stroke technique. Learning rhythmic breathing.  Why did I not know this? Consequently, Britty was moved to a different level age group, that better suits her ability; she is thrilled and jumps in the car after school with a smile on her face.  As of now, she still aspires to make the swim team- and is equally as happy to have been signed up for a ‘hip hip’ dance class in the fall.
I think it is important for girls to have a sport or activity, that they can continue with through their adult years. Take cheer leading, for instance. Whileit was fun, I can’t exactly grab my megaphone, pull on a short, pleated skirt and do a herkey. 
Had I continued on with tennis or piano, perhaps I could.
But hip hop? Seriously, who hasn’t been at a wedding and secretly envied that dude with those moves on the dance floor. Hip Hop B.  Oh, I will be charging my camera battery for that!