Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

Category: seasons (page 1 of 5)

I know it’s winter, but does it have to be so cold? Amsterdam

When Ryan first told me he was going to go to Amsterdam in February, I was on board. I even had to back out of a children’s play I was going to be doing, because the performances were the exact time we would be gone. Yes, I know the weather won’t be lovely and we won’t see the tulips like we would in the spring, but when are we going to be able to go to Amsterdam and have Ryan’s travel and hotel paid for? It was a MUST DO. However, I wasn’t prepared for the cold. Every day in Amsterdam I would look out the window of my hotel and see the SAME thing. I’ve been in Germany for winter, I know it’s cold, but the humidity and wind coming off the water is just bone chilling.

A lovely view of the canal behind our hotel. The sky was grey. Some days it was raining, some days it was snowing. Some days the wind was blowing.

We heard from people how nice the weather had been up until right before we came. Hmm.

In my pictures, you’ll always see me wearing my coat, sometimes with hats, most of the time with a scarf or two. Sometimes I even have an umbrella. I wore my boots every day in Amsterdam, and am so thankful for these boots.

They were comfortable and warm, and I did a LOT of walking in them. $20 from Target, by the way.

But since the only way to see things was to brave the cold and get walking, that is what I did. While Ryan was working I went out and figured out the bus or street car, or just walked.

One day I took the canal/bus tour. Interestingly, it was warmer in the canal than the bus.

I loved seeing things from the canal, without traffic, and listening to the audio tour.

When the canal tour got to the train Station, they were going to take a 20 minute break before continuing on the tour. I decided to get off and find a bathroom, which was pretty much a disaster, as described in this post

After I eventually found a bathroom, the canal boat was gone, and another didn’t come for another 30 minutes or so, so I took the tour bus instead. It was colder, and I didn’t like it quite as much. Plus, there seemed to be a mandatory stop at the diamond factory (“Free tour!” they said, “with FREE coffee or tea and a bathroom), which I went through the “tour” or advertisement for their diamonds, so that I could use the bathroom at the end.

I did also see the one remaining windmill in Amsterdam. I guess it’s a bar, now.

When the bus made it back to the museum square, which is where I had started, I was tired and hungry and cold. I trudged the mile or so walk back to the hotel, thinking I was done for the day.

But a couple hours later Ryan was finishing up with the show and we had to figure out somewhere to have dinner. So, I consulted google again to find a restaurant somewhere between where I was and where he was. More walking. In the cold. But the food was great.

All that walking in the cold definitely made us tired at night, which was a plus.

The next day I was going to go and take the canal tour again, since my ticket was good for 24 hours. Trouble was, I got there too early. They don’t even open the little booth until 10 am, and the first boat comes to that stop at 10:50. I was there before 10, and it was SO cold. Instead of the boat, I decided to walk a couple of blocks to where the bus would come. I hadn’t seen this part of the city by bus, and the bus came sooner, at 10:25. I was over to the bus place by 10:05, and decided to walk in the park for a few minutes to try to keep warm.

The problem was, the bus came early. So, at 10:15, when I was almost to the bus, and just had to cross the street, the bus pulled away, leaving me in the cold. Such a dismal start to the day that I had planned. Ok, I’ll just walk until I see a street car. I knew the 16 went into the city, so I would look for one of those.

I passed another cute pancake house that mocked me with it’s warm gluten goodness.

Eventually I did get on the street car, hoping to be going to the city, but I figured if it took me the direction of my hotel, I was good with that, too.

Success, it was going toward the city. But, then, a street car in front of us that was turning left somehow broke down. We were stopped. No problem, I thought, I can wait. It’s warm here, and if I were to get off, I’m not sure if I could find my way around.

After about 10 minutes, though, everyone was getting off. Darn.

You can’t really see from this picture, but there is a line of about 5-6 street cars in 3 directions.

I started walking in the direction I thought I wanted to go. I eventually made it down town, but by then, I was just tired and cold, and didn’t want to see things. I went into a store, ended up buying a new warm blanket scarf, a tshirt, and a cardigan. By the time I came out, I was just going to get on the street car and go back to the hotel. But first, the number 4 came by, which said it was going to the RAI, which is the convention center where Ryan was. Sure, why not?

So, I rode that to the end of the line to the convention center, texted Ryan so he could come meet me, and then came into the warm convention center. Ryan was busy, so I walked around myself looking at things and collecting free stuff to take to the kids.

I don’t know what this is, but it was just outside the convention center, and it just looked so odd, I had to take a picture.

After wandering the show floor, I was just so tired. I couldn’t imagine staying there for 2-3 more hours waiting for Ryan to be finished, so I said goodbye and trudged back to the hotel, hoping I could find my way using the little map I had. I did make it, but I was done. Spent. Tired of the day. Spending the day lost and cold and walking wasn’t my favorite day, but after a bit of time laying down, I was ready to go to the Control 4 party that night.

I don’t have very many good pictures because it’s kind of dark in the club, and it’s a lot of people drinking and eating and talking. The food was pretty good.

And thank goodness for Uber, so we could get a ride home from the party and right to the hotel.

(By the way, if this post seems long and rambling, I’m just trying to get these memories down before I forget!)

New Year. Hooray!

new-yearIt’s January! Welcome to a new year and all that.

Only I get a little overwhelmed by the “new year” kind of stuff. People are all like “GOALS!” and “Self-Improvement”, and “It’s a fresh start!” Is it really? Did something magically change with the ticking of the clock between 11:59 on New Year’s Eve and 12:00 on New Year that erased the past year? I don’t think so.

Meanwhile, at church, there are tons of meetings. There’s a New Beginnings for Young Women, special ward council to discuss our goals for the year, the Stake Relief Society Presidency wants to meet with us, ‘Priesthood Preview’, ‘It’s great to be 8’and various other NEW YEAR type meetings.

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But me, I’m dragging my feet putting away my Christmas decorations. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! Everything is magical and beautiful and the music and the concerts and the presents and the wrapping and the shopping and the food and the cooking and the parties and the wonderful feelings and the reading of the birth of the Savior. I’m sad that Christmas is over, that my birthday is over, and now we’re stuck in dreary, snowy, cold (2 degrees yesterday, folks) January. It snowed last night, but now it’s drizzling rain OVER the snow. Megan left today to go back to school (once her car thawed and the door closed ok, which it didn’t last night), and I’ve had a week with no chimes choir, but I have to start tomorrow. I’m not ready to get back to my real life, let alone make GOALS. Shovel snow, trudge out to feed the chickens, the floor is constantly yucky and needs to be mopped all the time, people leave their gloves, scarves, coats, and boots all over! January is just yucky!

January blah.
Whine, whine.
Cheer up, old chap, at least you don’t have to do yardwork!
(That’s me talking to myself in my encouraging British accent voice)

But we do have things to look forward to. Jenna and Kate both have birthdays this month, so we will be planning a big party for that, my chime choirs get to play at 2 Lone Peak Basketball games this month, it’s good to get back into a routine and clear out the clutter, of course.
In February I get to go to Europe with Ryan, so that is one thing I am REALLY looking forward to. In spring we plan to take the kids to South Dakota.

Right-Oh! Good on ya! Fish and Chips and all that.
(There’s that annoying British voice again.)

So, things aren’t ALL grump and dreary. But it would help if the sun would shine. Please?

And when I need a laugh, there’s always this.

Field Trippin

I was so sick of that last blog template, I just picked one pretty much at random and asked hubby to update it. Maybe someday I’ll have my son design a custom template for me, but for now, this is good enough. What do you think of the new look?

Oh, the things we are doing around here! Busy, busy, busy, it seems.

One of the fun things we were able to do last week was a field trip with John. They had a 6th grade trip to go to the Leonardo Museum and see the Mummies of the World exhibition.

When I got the field trip permission note, it stated that they needed several parent volunteers, but we couldn’t ride the bus with the kids. Sign me up! I don’t enjoy going on the bus with all those yelling, crazy kids. And they never have enough room on the bus and I end up crammed with three people in a row. So, if I could drive up myself, I could maybe stop at Trader Joe’s, take my time, and enjoy the field trip. I ended up not going by myself, though. I asked the other moms if any of them wanted to carpool, and I drove three other moms up there and back. Which was also kind of fun.

I got my 4 four kids, we got a clipboard and tags, and then got started on our experience.

There are no pictures allowed in the mummy exhibit, so I’m including some of the promo pictures. It was so interesting! Although I heard many comments of “Gross!” from these 11 and 12 year olds, I think they realized it was a pretty amazing display they were witnessing. Real people, that were either mummified naturally, or on purpose. Real people who had died centuries ago. Some were dated before Christ. Truly fascinating.

Of course, after we finished with the mummy exhibit, the real fun started.
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The kids had oodles of fun with this green screen. Several images would change behind them, and they could put green fabric on to make themselves “invisible”.

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The kids had a lot of fun exploring inventions, especially in the “Sound” exhibit.

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Even though I only had 4 boys to look after, it was sometimes hard to keep track of them in the chaos. It’s not like they will hold hands or stay in the stroller.

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After two hours, it was hungry time, and the kids were winding down and getting bored.
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Luckily, they had packed lunches.

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We went outside to eat on the grass, and it was beautiful weather. Probably 60 degrees, the sun was shining, and it was the nicest day of the year, so far. Heavenly! The kids needed to eat, and they needed to be able to run around a little bit.

And then the kids got back on the bus and we didn’t have to get on the bus. We walked a couple blocks back to the car and had a nice kid free drive home. That might be my LAST field trip for the elementary school. This year, as John is in 6th grade, I’ve kind of been ticking off the “lasts”. Last Christmas party, last valentine party, last lunch for the teachers for Parent Teacher conference, etc. It’s been 18 years that we have had kids in elementary school, and although I’ll still be teaching my chime choir there for a few more years, at least, it’s a bit sad to know that that stage in my life is coming to an end. Now I’ll have to help out with more things in the Junior High or the High school. That is, if things aren’t too busy.

Our Weekend

Our Weekend was a lot of fix its and fun.
(The Brazilian boys left on Monday, did I mention that. Sad? Not so much. They did say goodbye, but there were no tender goodbyes. WE did the best we could, and we’re not sad that it’s over.)

Friday I did two shows of Pinkalicious. Fun, yet exhausting. We’ve completed one week. Two more weeks (and 14 more shows) to go.
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My friend Rachael Gibson took these great pictures on Friday. I’m SO glad I have a few good ones from the show!

John’s Valentine’s party for his class was also on the schedule.
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I brought ice cream and soda so we could make root beer floats. Some of the kids really pigged out on the soda. Sorry, Moms!

Megan came home because her laptop was hosed. Hoping talented Dad can fix it back up. She also needed a light installed in her Carolla. Turns out two of her tires were pretty bald, too, so she and Ryan went to the used tire place to get two tires.

He’s also working on a new computer for me. The one I’m using is old and slow and has quite a few hang ups. So for a Christmas/birthday/valentine’s present, he’s got me a new something. But I think I have to clean up my office before I can actually start using it (my stipulation, not his).

The Camry needs more work. It didn’t pass the emissions, and we’re hoping that’s from old gasoline. So, Ryan put some additive in there, and then it smoked up like it was on fire. Now we just have to drive it and gt all the old gas out. So, he drove me to Walmart and picked me up. It takes a LONG time to run out half a tank on an old Camry.

John went on an overnight “Klondike” camp. It was quite warm for a winter camp. He came home SO tired and grumpy I haven’t really heard much about it, but he did eventually take a nap, so let’s hope his attitude improves. Naps are required after camps!

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Since it was Valentine’s day, Ryan made breakfast. Yum. I got heart shaped pizzas for lunch, and gave everyone some chocolate treats.
017 Ryan and I went to the temple and did a session. We left right after 5:00, and got out right before 8:00. Lost my points for eating after 8 because we went to Rumbi’s for a late dinner.

Today is Sunday and we all need another sleep in day. Church and then dinner with my parents. And we even get the day off on Monday! Hooray for a needed weekend!

A list for back to school time.

1- Loving this rain. Love, Love, Love it! I can open the windows and smell the clean earth. The grass is green and lush and we are saving up valuable water.008
The sound of the rain is comforting to me. I love when I wake up at night and hear the rain. Plus it cools things off, and we definitely need that in August.

2- School starting. Ugh. The three kids at home started school yesterday.
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No one came home in tears, and they generally had good things to say about school, so I guess it was good. I think we have our carpools in place to get them where they need to be. Three different schools. I start my chime choir next week.

3-Megan starts school at Snow college today.
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We took her down to the small town of Ephraim on Saturday, and helped her move her stuff into her dorm room. She didn’t really want us to hang around and buy groceries or help her get organized, so we let her do that. Hopefully she actually bought some groceries and has something to eat. I had purchased most of her books for her online, but there were some smaller ones and a clicker that i didn’t get for her, so she was supposed to do that.

4-Flies. How in the world are there so many flies in my house? Argh.

5-Crowing. Two of our cute little chickens are definitely roosters. One of them is small and annoying and I wouldn’t miss him at all, but MY chicken is a beautiful rooster.
011 Wondering if I can just get rid of one and then the crowing won’t be so annoying to my neighbors.

6-Construction. I kind of don’t care if I annoy my back neighbors because I’m living with their construction noise and it’s annoying me. So there. But I do care about my other neighbors.

7-Peaches. It’s peach season, so I’ve got a lot of peaches that need to be bottled, eaten, cooked, or frozen. This morning I’m having a peach smoothie.

Happy Spring

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We are all happy that it’s nice weather for spring!

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Things are blooming everywhere, the tulips are up and the grass is green.

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And what’s this? New additions to the backyard gang? Stay tuned for more.

Happy Easter!

I get to ring bells in an Easter program in Provo tonight, then also ring with the Tab Choir in the morning. Fun!

Harvest

Fall Harvest. It’s not much of a ‘bounty’ around here. Sadly, we let our garden just go crazy with no pruning or cutting back, and the squash and tomotoes are sprawling all over the place. Even the ones I caged have tipped over their cages. We had to put a little fence around the garden to keep the chickens out, but they have learned they can fly over that little fence or worm in around the gate, and many of my tomatoes are beak picked.

Because I have heard it will be cold later this week, we went out and picked all the tomatoes we could find that were at all ripe. Seriously, what is with the ripening (or lack therof?) Most of my tomatoes are green, and the ones that have color are mostly orange. I picked the orange ones and brought them in to ripen. I can hope.

I also picked a couple of butternut squash, but left some others out there to grow some more. Don’t want to pick them too early. I have ONE tiny pumpkin among the leaves, and since it was orange, we picked it and brought it in.

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Can you tell which one is the pumpkin?

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I have another place where I planted a pumpkin seed, and in the whole sprawl, I think there is one pumpkin there, too. Then, in my front flower beds, we see this.

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If you look closely, you can see our biggest pumpkins of the harvest.
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And this from a volunteer plant. At the end of Halloween last year, I chucked an old gross pumpkin off the porch into the flower bed, and it’s decided to grow and produce pumpkins for us.

Oh, and here’s my little outside visitor, hoping to someday be let inside.
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Really, kitty? You’ve lived here for a whole year now, and in that time has anyone let you in? Sorry. If you wanted to come inside, you should have latched on to a family without allergies.

Yesterday we did find the hidden stash of eggs from the chickens, though. I had been wondering why they were only laying 5-6 a day, when all 11 of them should be laying at least every other day, now. They had a secret next, silly girls.
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Yes, most of those were pretty dirty, but still good eggs. I made a big batch of brownies and used MOST of them in that, just to use them up quickly.

So, no, we’re not self sufficient and living off of what we grow, but we at least try.

End of a Season, Start of a Season

Hi Ho, Guest Host Ryan here.

Tonight I put on my headlamp, and went out to search for some peaches. I managed to find *2* peaches still on the tree. It’s officially the end of Peach Season here at the Erickson household. As Paige has already posted, it’s been our best Peach harvest *ever*, and we’ve managed to share them with quite a few people, as well as all the bottles Paige put up.

It’s amazing how fast you go from this:

to this:

We also have the start of a new season, with what we believe is the first of the eggs from the chickens we picked up earlier in the year. It’s quite a bit smaller than the regular layers’ eggs.

Can you spot the new layers’ egg?

Lastly, we have another start of a new ‘season’ in our family. The first of our kids’ generation got married last week. Congratulations, Camille!

Time moves on.

Life’s a Peach

We have three peach trees in our little “orchard”. For several years they didn’t yield much fruit, and then it’s kind of hit and miss. Last year there was a late freeze in the spring and we didn’t get more than a dozen peaches. We were at the mercy of a neighbor whose trees did not freeze to get our peach fix.

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This year Ryan attended a pruning and gardening workshop and learned that we should be picking a LOT of the tiny peaches so that the peaches can have the energy, food, and room to grow bigger. He picked at least a 5 gallon bucket full of the tiny little peaches early in the summer. But he said it was like murdering peaches and he didn’t like it.

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I don’t know if it was due to the fact that we pruned those trees last year, or that he picked those tiny peaches, but this is the most peaches we have ever had. And they are nice sized, too. Gorgeous. For weeks in the summer, we would go out and hope for ripe peaches, only to realize that close up, they were not ready yet. Well, they are ready now. Saturday I started picking. Mostly because I was worried that branches would be breaking off if I didn’t do something to lighten the load of peaches on those branches. I picked a 5 gallon bucket, with a smaller bucket full of smooshed or buggy peaches to give to the chickens. I realized these peaches weren’t going to wait, so I got the steam canner down and started going to work.

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It’s a messy process, washing, blanching, peeling, adding a simple syrup, boiling the lids, sterilizing the bottles. It had something on every single burner on the stove. I enlisted the kids to help. They are good at the peeling and their smaller hands fit well into the bottles, and really I just could use the help so the peaches don’t go brown and yucky before I get them processed. I always have to look up the instructions every year..How much sugar? How long do they process? What’s our elevation? But I got going quickly.

We got 8 quarts done that first day, leaving the non ripe peaches to wait for the next round.
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Aren’t they gorgeous?

Monday dawned, and I was a little sad that I didn’t have a play to go to that night, but all the better to get sticky and can some more peaches, right? I went out and picked another 5 gallon bucket full of peaches, and got started. No kids to help me at first, but I got the first batch of 7 into the steam bath before they got home. After I picked them up (early out day and all), everyone was home by 2:00, and they each helped for about an hour. It seemed much longer to all of us. We got another 7 quarts done for a total of 14 that day. I had to send Natalie out to pick me just a few more peaches when I ran out right after I started the last bottle.

Tuesday, I picked another bucket and took a bunch with me visiting teaching. After our VT appointments were over and I had finished my obligations at the elementary school, I figured I had better get back at it. I also sent out some texts and messages to friend to PLEASE feel free to come over and get some peaches, as we have more than we can eat or bottle. I wasn’t super productive and only did 8 or 9 quarts. Also, I was running out of wide mouth jars. As I was searching the basement, I find lots of regular jars, but I was down to my last bunch of wide mouths. Hmmm. Maybe if I make taco soup and use this jar of tomato juice, that’s ONE more wide mouth jar. Pitiful, I know.

My friend Lisa called and said she was going to come over and pick some peaches, and she had some bottles I could have. She did NOT want to bottle them, and was super generous to bring me a whole box of 12 wide mouth jars! She picked about a 5 gallon bucket full of peaches, and her kids played here for a bit while we talked. It was wonderful to have her visit, as I haven’t seen her all summer!

Wednesday I was going to skip the canning for the day, but I HAD all these bottles, and there were still LOTS of peaches on the tree, so what’s a girl going to do. I got started and pretty soon my back was aching and I was finishing up the last of the 11 quarts for the day. Work like that makes one sticky, so it was time for a shower, then clean the counter and mop the floor… AGAIN. I haven’t cleaned the stove, even though it TOTALLY needs it, but I want to finish the intense canning before I scrub all the mess. I’ll just make more mess tomorrow.

So, if I am remembering correctly, we how have about 40 quarts of peaches. I have 8 more wide mouth jars, so if I fill those tomorrow, that will be 48 (or so). That’s enough, right?

First day of school 2013

How could school be starting and summer over? Didn’t school JUST BARELY get out?

Neither I nor the kids were quite ready for school to start, but start it did.

To help the kids get ready, I took each of them on date with shopping. Well, John just got the date with Mom and Dad. He went shopping with me another time and got some school clothes then. It was fun to see what they would pick out. Megan, my least fashion conscious, picked out a single t-shirt. When I pressed her, she also got a pair of shoes. I should be happy that I don’t have to spend much on her, but I kind of wish she would branch out a bit.

This morning we had our traditional breakfast at the bus stop.
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The kids have fun goofing around with their friends while the moms commiserate or cheer that it’s back to school time.

I always print up a little sign that says the year so we can look back and remember our first day of school.

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The bus came at a weird time and not to the regular place. One of the more assertive moms talked to him to ask if they could please have the same two stops that we had last time, but that dang bus driver held his ground. “There will only be one stop” he kept saying. This is very frustrating. It’s bad enough that they make the kids get on the bus at 7:18 (School starts at 8:00, so what are they doing for the extra half hour at school? goofing off, or freezing in the winter), but now they have to walk a 1/4 mile down to the bus stop? Argh! But at least they haven’t taken away our elementary bus. The junior high bus was taken away from us several years ago, and I have had a big hassle trying to get our carpool figured out. BUT, I didn’t want this post to be complaining about the bus.

It’s bittersweet when school starts again. On the one hand, I feel like I have SO much time, now that I get up early and get the kids off to school, I always make big goals, like this is when I’m really going to get organized or work out every day and all that. In reality, by the time you clean up the morning dishes, do some laundry, exercise and take a shower, a big chunk of the day is gone. Once you add in volunteer work, planning or carrying out your church calling, writing your missionary and some time online, MORE of the day is gone. Then by the time you get dinner planned and pull a few weeds. it seems it’s 2:30 and they start coming home.

I also teach my chime choir two days a week, and for the past two years I’ve substituted off and on. I haven’t decided if I am going to keep subbing or not. I don’t love doing it, and it is kind of a stressor for me, making me not as patient or kind with my family, plus, with my carpool duties and chime choir and piano lessons after school, there isn’t a single day that I would be available to stay at school until 3:30 when the pm kids get out.

There is a sadness that I’m not the one in charge of my kids all day. I like having the freedom to take them somewhere, or do things with them. Now they are in school and their teachers become the important people. I miss those days when they were little and we had no schedules.

Megan is a senior this year. She’s been working hard on her 3-d AP art projects this summer (there were 12). I can’t believe all the exciting changes that she has ahead of her. And I’m a little scared. She has no idea what she wants to do, where she wants to go to school, and we need to help her decide.

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John is in 4th grade. Fourth Grade! How is that possible?

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Natalie is in 9th grade. I think she’s kind of excited to be the big dog in middle school.

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Jenna is 7th grade, new middle schooler.
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She actually went to school for a half day on Monday, to learn the ropes of middle school and all that.
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Here she is with her friend, Brittan.

When the day was done and they came home from school, at least no one came home in tears, or declaring that they hate school, or have no friends, or got lost, or what have you, so I guess the day was a success.

One down, 179 to go.

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