Friday, July 31, 2009

Fight, Flamingoes, Fight!

Ella spent her week jumping, chanting, dancing, and shouting at cheerleading camp at the YMCA. At camp, the girls learned a dance routine, a couple of different cheerleading jumps and arm moves, and 6 cheers, including a few I even knew from watching basketball in high school. "Hey go team, go go team. Hey go team, go go team. Hey go team, go go team. Hey go team!" and Ella's favorite "Be aggressive, B-E aggressive, B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!" Ella and her camp friends chose flamingoes as their mascot and pink, white, and black as the team colors for their team (big surprise). Today, at the end of the camp, the girls donned their team colors and performed their dance and cheers for us. We had a great time watching Ella cheer her "team" on. She brought it--her smile, spirit fingers, and moves, that is.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Her Own Sense of Style

About a month ago after a day spent at the pool I commented on how Jack's hair was already dry by the time we made it home. Ella scrunched up her nose, like that was just so not fair, and asked why his hair dries so fast. I told her that it was, of course, because his hair was a lot shorter. She immediately responded that she wanted short hair, too. I blew this off as a whim because she has been growing out her princess hair for months and her hair is finally long enough for those braids she loves so much. Since that time she's gone back and forth, changing her mind almost daily on whether she wants her hair long or short. Recently, however, she's been leaning more towards cutting it short. I didn't think I'd be so resistant to the idea--in fact it was me who was trying to talk her in to a bob last year--but I've liked doing her hair lately and it's just so pretty, plus I wasn't convinced it's really what she wanted. Sweet Ella, however, is coming in to her own and developing her own sense of style. She approached me this week and asked me point blank when I was going to let her get her hair cut (ok, so I put it off for a little while...well, actually more like three weeks). I finally took her today, sat her in the stylist's chair, and agreed with the stylist that she should get her hair cut to right above her shoulders. I'm pretty sure, however, that Ella and the stylist were in cahoots because I turned around to help Jack and turned back around to see Ella with the shortest bob she's ever had (she got a good 5 inches cut off). Ella is all smiles about it, she looks so cute, and we've got a 1-minute-and-you're-out-the-door hairstyle. It's a win-win-win. I'm happy Ella is taking control of her own style, but I think it's all too much for me as that first day of kindergarten quickly approaches.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jack's Turn

Ella is at camp every morning this week, so, just like how Ella and I went roller skating while Jack was at camp a few weeks ago, Jack and I wanted to do some fun and special things together, just the two of us. Jack insisted that he'd like to roller skate, too, and could do it, but considering how shaky Ella and Miles were on skates I'm pretty certain Jack's not quite ready to put wheels on his feet. Taking our cue from our blog friend Max (Jill--my kids are huge fans of Max ever since seeing him sing the Scooby Doo theme song!), Jack and I headed to Krispy Kreme for a sweet treat and to check out how yummy donuts are made. After winning Jack over with donuts, roller skating was soon forgotten so we headed over to the Nature Musem instead. At the Nature Museum we saw tadpoles and frogs, baby chicks hatching from their eggs, butterflies coming out of their chrysalises and some flying free in the butterfly pavillion, and snakes, lizards, turtles, skunks, and owls--doesn't this sound like the right outing for a boy? Needless to say, Jack and I had a great and special morning spending time together. He's such a sweetie.

I ♥ Faces: At the Beach

Once again, it's Ella at the beach. This week's submission to the I Faces contest is from this past June, though. I love taking pictures at the beach! With both sets of grandparents in Florida, we hit the east and west coast Florida beaches at least 3 times a year. Ella is at St. Augustine Beach in this picture, wearing her "surfer girl" swimsuit ready to ride the waves on Aunt Jacqui's surfboard. I'm finally trying my hand at creative editing with the Photoshop Elements software Jonathan got me for Christmas, so I thought I'd have a little fun with this one.

If you haven't checked out this photography blog, you should--it's loads of fun! See all of the beach entries at I Faces.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Jack's First 4th Birthday Party

Jack had his birthday party today at My Gym to celebrate his upcoming 4th birthday--yes, a little early, but we had to move the party date around to ensure all of the key players would be on hand. Jack's party theme of choice, of course, was Star Wars. He wore a new Star Wars shirt and a "Birthday Jedi Knight" ribbon, rode the space flight to the Star Wars theme, had a birthday cake with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader on it, and sent everyone home with a Star Wars character pez. Jack was amazingly at ease with being the center of attention, as long as he had best buds Noah and Jackson (from preschool) on either side of him. Several girls were invited to Jack's party, and Jack even asked me to put a bracelet he picked out in each of their goody bags among the Star Wars stuff, but one thing Jack did insist on is that there must be more boys than girls at his party. We came through on that one and I think My Gym came through on helping us throw another great birthday party (Ella coincidentally had her 4th birthday party here, too). All of the kids had a great time and, best of all, Jack came away from it feeling so special! The way things are stacking up, it looks like we'll have at least three more 4th birthday celebrations (one on his actual birthday, one with my parents, and one with Jonathan's parents) so this kid will have no doubt just how much he is loved by his family and friends. We're glad you had such a fun Star Wars party, Jack! We look forward to celebrating your 4th birthday with you again on August 2nd.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gymnastics Camp

Ella and Jack both went to a gymnastics camp this week where Ella regularly (during the normal school year) takes her gymnastics lessons. I love the gymnastics program at this place because, even at Jack's age, half of the focus is on strengthening core muscles and gaining a basic level of fitness--the kids climb the rope, hang from a bar and lift their feet to it, do crunches and reverse crunches, jump up on to a block mat over and over again, etc. Jack's camp was from 9 to 11am for four days, and he spent the first 30 minutes of the first day attached to my leg, resisting joining his class. Luckily for Jack (and me), he just happened to have a friend from preschool in his class, so after the first day drop off was a lot least, after Caroline arrived. Even though Jack's camp seemed like such a short time frame to pick up new skills, I was amazed at his Thursday "performance" what our little Jack could do. He had the best sticks to his landings on jumps from the springboard and he was the only kid in his class to perform a jump from a springboard into a forward roll and then stick it. The way he stuck his arms out straight, bent his knees, and stuck his feet to the mat I really thought he looked like a natural gymnast. There's no doubt this kid is strong, but I guess more than anything I was pleasantly surprised by how much he payed attention to detail when learning each new skill from his coach (the same one whom Ella had last year and says "bridge" like "breach"). That wraps up the camps for Jack this Summer--he had a great time each week at camp...once he got over the initial stress of going in to camp alone.
Ella's camp was two hours of gymnastics and two hours of art each day (heaven for her). Unfortunately, they didn't have a show for the parents at the end of the week, so I have no pictures. I know Ella had a great time, though, because she ran right in to camp each day, asked if she could stay longer when I picked her up, and learned new gymnastics skills (she finally got past the highest knot on the rope!) and some new art techniques. Next week she's off to her final camp for the Summer, a cheerleading camp which does have a performance at the end of the week. So look out for pictures of her next week!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dinner Poolside

There's nothing like having dinner at the pool with friends...the epitome of Summer.

These Kids Can Swim

I just want to put it down on the blog, before I take it for granted, that these kids swim in "the big pool" with no floaties, no rings, no vests and no Mommy getting wet. I'm so proud of how far Ella and Jack have come with their abilities in the pool.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I ♥ Faces...and Feet

It's crazy, but two of the three times I've subitted a photo in an I Faces contest the photo hasn't involved faces at all. This picture is of Ella at the beach two Summers ago. It was actually taken back in my old point-and-shoot days. Both my mother-in-law (a.k.a. Nana) and I used to sit like this as little girls (actually, I think Nana still does). I love these sweet feet...

Please check out all of the unique and interesting feet pictures at I Faces and, to my fellow bloggers, join in on the fun! I love how each week's contest has me stop for a moment to take a look through my 'old' photos and think about all of those precious memories.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New Wheels

Jonathan started a new job with a new company this past week. Please congratulate him when you see him next--this job is a promotion from Senior Manager to Director! These are exciting, busy, and stressful (in a mostly good way) times for Jonathan and we're all very proud of him. Jonathan's last company provided a company car, which they promptly picked up on the morning of his last day of work with them. He spent a few days test driving all different makes/models of cars (it's been 5 years since we last went car shopping!) and he finally decided on a spiffy VW Passat. We both love this car, although I don't think I'll be driving it fact, I wonder how long the carseat for his car will be sitting on the garage floor--I wouldn't be surprised if the kids aren't allowed in the car at all (you should see my car floor)....but, that's neither here nor there. Great job, Jonathan, on this wise advancement in your career! We're glad you like your car.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Allergic Reaction

I swear, I'm trying my hardest to remember the quirky, funny, silly, insightful things Ella and Jack say all the time. By the time I make it to my computer, I usually have forgotten I was even trying to remember anything at all. Lately I've been making a particularly concerted effort and resorted to writing these funny quotes, if you will, down. Well, that's all fine and dandy unless, of course, you've forgotten that there was something you wanted to remember and that you wrote it down.

Short story long, I was cleaning out my purse today and came across a scribbled note to myself that instantly brought a smile to my face. I was flooded with a memory from several weeks ago when we were in Tennessee at Ober Gatlinburg. Jonathan was taking Jack on a very high and very fast water slide. Jonathan decided to get a feel for what Jack was thinking about the ride, considering he's definitely our more cautious child.

Jonathan: Jack, are you scared to go down this ride?
Jack: I'm not really scared of anything....but I am allergic to aliens.

Don't be surprised if you see Jack wearing a shirt that says as much--I think it's hilarious!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Playdate at the Pool

We're doing our best to continue nurturing the very special relationship we have with Baden and his family, here now more than a year after the kids have gone to school together. Next year the schedules get busier, with Ella and Baden starting kindergarten, but, seeing the bond these kids have, I'm sure we still have many more fun playdates ahead of us.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mountain Jack Art

We were back at the Mint Museum of Art this week for another three mornings of art camp. This week's art projects were inspired by Mountain Jack tales, folk tales (typically variations on folk tales told around the world, such as The Bremen Town Musicians, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Fool and the Flying Ship) that are told in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains with a boy named Jack as the hero. I was hoping that 'Jack' being part of the class's focus would help Jack, well, focus, but I actually think the fact that about 90% of the artwork we did involved painting was the real thrill factor. It was a frenzy of painting--and if you saw Jack's shirt at the end of each class, you'd know frenzy is the right word there. We did a ton of cool projects, including: we painted two abstract, colorful paintings, cut them into squares, and put them together like a quilt; rolled marbles around in paint to make a splatter-like painting (Jack's favorite project because he says it's messy art like Jackson Pollock and he "loves Jackson Pollock!"); painted and decorated a sheep mask, horse mask, and cow mask; and, painted and put together a black bear cub climbing up a tree trunk. We had a great time painting and learning more about art together. I'm sad to think this will be the last time the three of us take one of these classes together. Next year Ella will be in school for the classes and then old enough for the drop-off Summer camps. Hopefully we'll still have time to tour the museum and its many art exhibits together. We'll definitely be back in September to see the students' art exhibit where Ella and Jack will both have art on display from the two camps we have taken this Summer. I am so thrilled that my kids enjoy exploring and creating art as much as I do.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Serious About Her Art

Ella is still an aspiring young artist, telling nearly everyone she meets (and of course every teacher, helper, and mommy in an art class we're taking this week) that she plans on being an artist when she grows up. While her subject matter, for the most part, has stayed consistent (princesses, castles, flowers), her artwork's detail and storytelling grows each day. Today she very seriously and articulately requested that I allow her to take her art supplies in to her room and let her have an hour to herself, alone with her art, without Jack or me disturbing her. She's anxious to try this out tomorrow. I can't wait to see what comes of this focused time. I look forward to having a house full of magnificent art from my mom, Jonathan's grandfather, and Ella.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Practice in Patience

Ella and Jack received these special lollipops from the Easter Bunny. We promised to let them eat the lollipops at either the zoo or a baseball game, neither of which we've made it to since Easter. Yesterday we had the kids all worked up about going to a baseball game that night. Every Saturday night baseball game of our minor league team, The Knights, ends with a fantastic fireworks show. What were the kids hyped about, however--finally getting to eat their lollipops (the ones they had stared at in a bowl in the kitchen since early Spring). Well, after a full day of car shopping, including a four-hour roundtrip drive to get the perfect car (and deal), we didn't make it to that baseball game. These kids still managed to happily hold off for one more night. If you ask them, they'll tell you it was worth the wait.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Night with the Browns

We capped off a week full of Brown-Williams bonding (Jack and Noah had an awesome, and exhausting, week at camp together and Ella and Miles roller skated earlier in the week and did an art camp together today) with a night out with the Browns. Always a good time! I love Brooke's post, so I refer you to it for more pictures...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

With Sugar on Top

Jack was asking me for something the other day, crackers before dinner or something like that, and I had no intention of relenting. Ella stepped in to help her brother and perhaps revealed who the weakest link in our parenting duo is...

Jack: Puh-lease?
Me: No, Jack.
Jack: Puh-lease?
Me: No, Jack.
Ella ("whispering" to Jack): I know, Jack, try "pretty please".
Jack, to me: Pretty please?!
Me: Still a no, Jack.
Ella, shrugging and, again, to Jack: It always works on Daddy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Adventures in Roller Skating

Jack is in camp with his best bud, Noah Brown, this week so Ella and I have some time to hang out. Today we thought we'd take on something that Jack would probably tire of quickly. We spent the afternoon at the roller rink with Miles and Brooke. It's just like I remember it--lacquered wood floors, disco balls and laser lights, dance club music, junk food murals....although, there were no rubber leggers and no couples skate. Brooke and I were actually the only grown-ups out there in skates. This is Ella's first time roller skating and she definitely needed me out there to hold her hand and help her back up onto her skates. She improved in leaps and bounds over the 2 1/2 hours we were there, but she still has a ways to go before she's holding her own out there with the other kids. I'm so proud of how determined she is to get better at roller skating. Every time she fell, she got right back up with a smile. She actually wants to go back and try it some more on Thursday. Sounds fun to me!
I love Miles' pose here.

Rollin' with the mommies...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Going Green

Jack is taking this "going green" movement a little too literally. This is what's left of a green crayon he must've had in a pocket that has since gone through the washer and dryer. The inside of my dryer will never be the same...and neither will his entire Summer wardrobe. So, if you see Jack sporting some green-splattered clothes, you'll know why.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!