Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Last Day of School

Jack had his last day of 2nd grade and Ella her last day of 4th grade on June 10th.  We’re so grateful for our incredible school, the amazing teachers both kids have had, and, of course, for our two great students.  Ella and Jack both had truly stellar academic years—honor roll, recognized for high reading goals, and pulled into talent development and accelerated programs—but, more importantly, they continue to show a love for school.  Teachers, friends, most subjects (Jack’s a star at literacy and Ella at math—they both do well at all subjects but Ella says she isn’t big on science and Jack wishes he didn’t have to explain how he got to his math answers), specials (especially Art, P.E., and Music), and recess, they both have a joy for their time at school.  I will say, however, that they were pretty darn excited about summer, too.  :)

Jack’s first day of 2nd grade and last day of 2nd grade.  His smile looks like a bigger kid’s by the end of the year (finally lost those top front baby teeth), but—thankfully—he’s still my little boy.  Those sneaks sure looked good at the beginning of the year—they made it to the end, but just barely. 

Ella’s first day of 4th grade and last day of 4th grade.  Ella has definitely matured over this past school year.  You can see it in her posture here—she’s becoming such a strong, confident, and amazing young lady.  Can’t believe we’re headed into her last year of elementary school next year!  Oh, and big 4th graders didn’t have to bring their backpacks to school on the last day.  They were basically done with school after they completed their EOGs over a week earlier.

A week before the last day of school Ella showed just how confident she is.  Her class had an “Academy Awards” ceremony in conjunction with their EOY Party where each student was presented with an award and all parents were invited.  Ella received the ‘Best Artist’ award from her fellow students.  Between every few awards, students were given the option to perform any type of skit or musical performance they’d like.  Ella sang a mash-up of Katy Perry songs and other popular songs—the mash-up created by the 3 girls and choreographed by them, too—and she was often the lead singer, singing solo in front of the whole crowd of parents and students.  I was so impressed, first of all with their performance and its creativity, but mostly by her confidence.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lace Up Son 5K

We got up bright and early on Memorial Day to participate in the Lace Up Son Family 5K out of a local YMCA.  This 5K benefitted the Steve Smith Foundation and Steve Smith himself, and his family, completed the 5K as well.  I covered this on Instagram, but wanted to highlight our morning, too, because it was such a fun event.  Steve Smith makes himself so accessible and we basically hung with him in a small crowd at the starting line for a good 30 minutes or so.  His wife was very pregnant at the time so he walked the race with her, after getting a 2-minute head start from the rest of us, so Steve actually stood at one point along the race course giving high-fives as runners went by.  It was very cool to get a high-five from a Pro Bowler.  Jonathan ran the race at an impressive clip and actually won first place in the Men’s 35-39 age group.  The kids and I did the first mile or so together, Jack got really far behind Ella and me, we lost sight of him, ran back a good quarter mile or so to find him, and somewhere in the mix he passed us and ended up finishing almost 4 minutes ahead of us.  I was relieved to see him at the finish line, but also kind of wanted to wring his neck for losing us.  Regardless, it was a fun event, a great course, and I finished it hoping we’d sign up for more family 5K’s in the future.  After the race, we stuck around for a pancake breakfast, the awards ceremony to see Jonathan get his medal from Steve Smith, and then to get a family picture with him as VIPs (when I signed up for the race, we’d just gotten through Tracy’s whole ordeal and I was kind of in a “Carpe Diem” kind of mood, living life the fullest, so I signed us up for the VIP family package…true story).  We’ll miss Steve Smith on the Panthers this year, but hope it holds true that this race will be an annual event here in Charlotte.

{i’m having knee issues so i was wearing a compression sleeve.  it actually did help and i didn’t have any knee pain during the race (i had just been told by the ortho about a week earlier not to run more than about 3.5 miles and knee replacement is probably in my future).}

Also, Wilson of a local television station’s Wilson’s World fame was at the race and our whole family was on the show a few times—we were all there for his intro (Ella in the front and Jack, Jonathan, and I to the left) and then they also caught Ella and me crossing the finish line.

Wilson's World - Lace Up Son 5K from Tricia Williams on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Jack’s Spring Soccer Season

Jack had another great season of soccer—scoring goal after goal, being “the gnat” on defense, and once again showing some maturity amongst his young team (Jack misses the age cut-off by 2 days so he competed in the U8, or Under 8, league this year).  He’s an amazing athlete—fast, agile, focused, driven, and with some fancy footwork.  He has such a good time playing just about any sport—each week he tells me a new sport he’d like to add to his training regime…tennis, swimming, lacrosse, you name it—but soccer is definitely his favorite.  This season was another good confidence-building season for Jack, but he was definitely ready to move on (he was probably ready to move on before this season, but the beginning of this season was such a crazy time—early March, need I say more—that we didn’t push for a change).  We knew he would love to play with career coaches (as opposed to volunteer dads, for whom we are of course so grateful for stepping up season after season), amongst other players who are equally driven, and at more than one practice per week.  So, we signed Jack up to try out for the U9/U10 Academy Soccer team.  The tryouts were in May over two nights, 1 hour and 45 minutes each night.  Jack played his heart out.  We drove away from the second night of tryouts and I told Jack that he had definitely done all that could have and had left everything on the field.  We got a call just over an hour later inviting Jack to join the team.  I’m so excited for him.  Practice starts in August—can’t wait to see him develop and also see if he leans more towards offense or defense. 

These are just a few shots from his spring season—his team wore blue as the “away team” and white as the “home team”, although they always played on the same fields.  This coming year we’ll travel a bit, probably 45 minutes at the most.

Jack making the academy team for the coming year also coincided with a “tween-age” update we were doing to his bedroom (he turns 9 this summer—yikes!).  We decked out his bedroom with trophy shelves and a life-sized Fathead of Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona/Argentina National Team soccer player) and with many sports accents.  The Fathead is, quite frankly, a little obnoxious so I was looking for some more tasteful wall art options, preferably something personalized.  I saw a black & white photo collage of adult soccer players on pbteen.com, so I figured why couldn’t I make the same thing for Jack’s room of Jack actually playing.  We did a photo shoot one evening on some pretty rough public fields (you’ll see the clover in the images)—the light was beautiful that night and we had a fun time (after Jonathan drove home to get soccer balls…yes, we made it all the way to the fields with no soccer ball in our car).  And, I love the result.  Jack has a canvas of his collage up on the wall in a grouping with a few maps (he’s kind of obsessed with Stack the States and Stack the Countries) and an inspirational quote (Wayne Gretzky’s “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”—thought it was appropriate for a soccer player).

The inspiration:

Jack’s collage:

Some images from our evening on the fields:

{in addition to the clover all over the field we found a ton of little tiny frogs hopping around.}

Love our little soccer player—looking forward to a great and exciting season!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Quick Jack Post

Just like every 2nd grade class at our school before his, Jack’s had a patriotic performance at the end of May.  However, year after year the 2nd grade class had sung, among others, the “50 Nifty United States” song—Ella had sung, and still to this day sings, this song over and over and over again so many times that Jack pretty much knew it coming into 2nd grade.  This year, however,—and I think we’re all thankful for this—the music teacher and 2nd grade teachers decided to change it up and select songs based on a unit the kids had been studying that could also be tied into patriotism, landforms.  They sang folk songs and classic American songs from around the country and even had an intro and closing song set to the tune of “Surfin’ USA”.  It was adorable and very well done. 

Jack was the Star of the Week for his class in early May—he came home with this paper on the Friday that we left for a weekend in Kanuga and Ella went to Savannah with her Girl Scout Troop.  Needless to say, not a lot of time was spent completing his poster, but it’s fun to note some of his favorites at this point in time. 

favorite color – orange, favorite animal – elephant, favorite food – bacon

Girl Scout Encampment

by guest blogger Ella

Encampment was awesome! We did a lot of cool and fun activities, including some arts and crafts, knot tying, and making pencils with a pocket knife. We enjoyed a campfire and roasted marshmallows.  The next day we collected the ash from the fire which is a Girl Scout tradition. We will pour the ash into our next campfire and remember Encampment weekend.  The last morning, our troop got to do the flag ceremony and I even helped fold the flag!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mother’s Day Weekend

In early May, over Mother’s Day weekend, my parents, Tracy, and baby Ivy came to visit us.  In the early days my sister was in the hospital, and still not conscious, my mom’s sister, Aunt Cathy, drove down from Memphis to be with us at the hospital.  She stayed most of the week, living the highs and lows with us, most of that time believing that Tracy may not survive or, at most, would be severely disabled.  Aunt Cathy’s youngest daughter, Libby, is pregnant with her first child (due in August) and I remember Aunt Cathy mentioning that week we were all in Atlanta that Libby was going to be having a baby shower in Charlotte in May (my cousins graduated from high school in Charlotte).  In February, when I learned of the shower, I thought there was no way Tracy would be able to make it.  Well, since then I’ve learned not to doubt my sister.  My parents first went to Atlanta to pick Tracy and Ivy up before heading to Charlotte—Tracy had been driving for a good month by then, but didn’t feel comfortable on such a long drive—and Tracy was still wearing a defibrillator vest (although she got the go-ahead to send it back within a few days after this weekend), but otherwise you wouldn’t know she had been through a darn thing just a few months earlier.

Most of the weekend felt like one big Girls Night Out.  Jonathan and Jack left on Saturday for a Cub Scouts overnight at the Myrtle Beach aquarium.  Saturday morning, Aunt Cathy and my cousins, Sarah and Libby, came over for brunch at my house for a lovely time catching up (Sarah lives in Austin and Libby lives in L.A., so these gatherings are too few and far between).  Saturday afternoon my mom, Tracy, and I headed to Libby’s baby shower at one of her friend’s house.  There I finally met for the first time my cousins’ (Sarah and Libby are my only cousins) other cousins who I knew they had spent so much time with growing up (I was always kind of jealous of the relationship my cousins had with their other cousins).  After meeting Bridget, Katie, and their mom (who my mom was actually great friends with in high school—my aunt and uncle met in high school, as did my mom and dad), however, I want to be adopted as family, too—they’re loads of fun.  We spent most of our time at Libby’s shower hanging out with them and actually kept the party going with them at Vivace after the shower.  It was a fun night and so much more so because Tracy was there.

While my mom, Tracy, and I were out having a very long GNO, my dad (aka, Papa) was taking care of the littlest of ladies.  He took Ella and Ivy out to dinner at Olive Garden (a favorite for both Ella and Papa), bought ice cream as treat on the way home, and lulled them to sleep with a movie.  We were all very impressed—I guess I’ve learned not to doubt Papa, too.  :)

On Mother’s Day my dad took us all out for a nice brunch, each of us moms got a rose at the restaurant—and it was so lovely to spend Mother’s Day with my own mother and to also be able to celebrate my sister’s first Mother’s Day since her whole near-death experience.  After brunch, they all headed back to Atlanta to get Tracy back to her boys.  And my boys came home midday to enjoy the day with me.  It was definitely a Mother’s Day weekend for the record books.

I admittedly did not get my big camera out as much as I should’ve over the weekend, mostly capturing the weekend on Instagram.  But, I did get a few pics of these lovely ladies.  Ella loves taking care of her sweet girl cousins whenever they visit.

{libby (pregnant, due in August), aunt cathy, and sarah…i kind of sneaked my big camera out of purse at the baby shower at the last moment. :) }

{tracy and i, our cousins (sarah and libby), and their cousins (bridget and katie) at the baby shower.}

{my mom took this one with her phone…that’s a new development within the past few months—both Tracy and my mom are texting and have phone cams.  and all it took was a little cardiac arrest…}

{papa and his little girls}

Once Jonathan and Jack were home from their Cub Scout trip and my parents had left to get Tracy back to her boys for Mother’s Day, my kids showered me with some Mother’s Day love. 

From Jack:

From Ella: