Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What's Up Wednesday (and the "big one")

I'm linking up again this month for What's Up Wednesday.

Since Monday was Memorial Day, we had BBQ.  But the BBQ I grew up with is much different from the BBQ Seth grew up with.  I can remember that first summer I was here as a summer missionary.  It wasn't long after my arrival that his parents announced we were going to have BBQ.  I was excited.  Finally, something I recognized.  Or so I thought.  I was expecting pulled pork and, my favorite part about BBQ, brunswick stew.  It's no secret that I'm not a meat eater.  I've had my share of BBQ sandwiches, but I can eat a bowl of brunswick stew any day.  Top it off with a side of coleslaw and baked beans, and I'm a happy girl.  Oh, and sweet tea!  But on that day, there was no pulled pork.  And there was no brunswick stew.  Not only was there no brunswick stew, but no one had ever even heard of brunswick stew!  So I tried to explain what it was.  Heck, I didn't even know what it was.  We just always ordered it by the gallon from the BBQ place!  Needless to say, no one thought it sounded any good, especially my husband.  And when he finally had some on one of those early visits to Georgia, he wasn't impressed.  Whatever.  Okay, so back to the BBQ.  Their idea of BBQ is ribs and sausage and chicken on the grill.  Well, I don't do ribs or sausage.  And, as my father-in-law says, I only do meatless, skinless, boneless chicken.  So this week we compromised.  We had ribs, sausage and pulled pork.  I made slaw, baked beans, potato salad and macaroni and cheese.

Last night we tried a new recipe from the June issue of Southern Living magazine: Carolina Chicken Burgers with Ancho Slaw.  And it was even yummier than I thought it would be.  Everyone liked it, even Mason (okay, so he didn't have any of the Carolina sauce or slaw on his burger).  We had zucchini fries (one of my favorite ways to eat zucchini) and sautéed squash and onions.  I had just picked the squash from the garden the day before.  (And, yes, we ate on Christmas plates.  I don't know why.  I just didn't feel like getting the other ones.)

I  now have a 5th grader and a 2nd grader!  My 5th grader is about to be 10 years old, a whole decade!  And my littlest is about to be 3 years old.  So that's what I'm reminiscing about.  Many, many of the days are long.  But I'm aware more now than ever that the years are so short.  And I want to make the best of each moment each day.  I don't always do a good job with this, especially lately.  There are so many things I miss about Mason's little years, those first 2 1/2 years when it was just he and I.  I don't even know how in the world Hannah Kate is growing up so quickly and so independent.  Ellie is the "baby," but she isn't a baby anymore (even though all three of them will always be my babies, no matter how big and old they are!).

School is over.  DID I MENTION SCHOOL IS OVER?!  Because that's what I'm lovin!  And the lazy days of summer are officially here!  Well, I have to admit that our summer isn't going to be quite so lazy.  But SCHOOL IS OVER, and that's all that matters!

May was super busy with end-of-the-school-year activities and everything that goes along with it.

Hannah Kate danced her heart out at her recital.

Mason received the Silver Scholar award for maintaining a 3.00-3.74 GPA this school year.  He also received the President's Education Award.

Hannah Kate received the Platinum Scholar award for maintaining a 4.0 GPA this school year.  She also received the award for highest achieving student in 1st grade.

On Saturday we went for a bike ride along the Tammany Trace, Louisiana's rails to trails.  We weren't able to bike the whole thing, only about 10 miles.  There are some cute little towns and playgrounds along the way.  I hope to make this a regular activity.  I absolutely loved it!  Oh, and several people asked who rides Ellie.  Why, I do, of course!  But that's mainly because I ride with her during the week, and there's no way I'm going to move her seat to Seth's bike.  Way too much trouble!

And, of course, the only thing to do in the south in the summer time - pool time!  It's been raining.  A lot.  Everyday.  Mason had three baseball games last week.  All three were canceled because the field is under water.  He was supposed to have a game last night.  The field is still under water.  I think they played maybe half of their scheduled games this spring.  They were trying to make-up the others, but I don't think that's even going to be possible now.  So in between rain showers, we go to the pool.


Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I have so much to look forward to that I can't even think of a thing I'm dreading.

I've been spending a lot of time in my garden.  The very first garden I had five years ago was the most beautiful and the most productive.  But the last three years have been pretty miserable.  So I was determined to have a "good" garden this year.  After a lot of research and thought, I decided that my problem was the lack of pollinators.  So I planted a few flowers in my vegetable garden beds this year.  I also planted a row of sunflowers.  I had the most beautiful sunflowers that first year but hadn't planted them since.  I also found out last weekend that my husband poured gasoline on a bee hive that was in a tree at the front of our driveway.  When I proclaimed that to be the culprit of my garden woes, he responded that he did that, like, four years ago!  EXACTLY.  It's been that long since I had a good garden!  Anyway, I'm calling all bees this year!  My tomatoes are looking the best they've ever looked.  They're actually "bushy" this year and not spindly.  I've been concerned about the lack of flowers, though, but this week I'm noticing lots of flowers.  I picked my first few squash yesterday.  The zucchini, okra and eggplant are coming along.  I had to start all over with my peppers, watermelon and cucumbers.  I'm not sure what happened to them.  But I bought new plants yesterday and put them in the ground.  I also got all of my herbs planted, but they are in pots on the back porch.

School is over.  Oh, I already mentioned that.  But it's worth mentioning again.  Because that is EXCITING.  I'm excited about chaperoning kids' camp in a couple of weeks.  I'm excited about going to the beach in three weeks.  We're doing something this year that we've never done before.  We're going with some friends.  So I'm really excited about that.  Friends and the beach!  Doesn't get much better than that.

Well, as long as LSU is in the college baseball playoffs, that's what will be on my television.  And Mason and Hannah Kate love watching old reruns of Full House.  I've had some extra reading time today so I just finished The Hundred Foot Journey.  I'm planning to read a couple of more books during the next few days.  Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper came highly recommended by my BFF.  We share the same taste in books so I can't wait to read it.  I've had it for awhile and was saving it for the perfect time.  That time is this week.  I've also heard a lot about Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty so I'm hoping to try them out, too.

I'm about to start listening to this year's VBS music.  I plan to spend this month getting everything memorized.

It's summer time.  It's south Louisiana.  It's hot.  So I'm wearing whatever is cool.  I'm not a big fan of summer clothes.

This is one of the very rare weekends that I can say we don't have any plans.  And I absolutely love that!  I'll be in the kitchen awhile on Saturday preparing my dishes for dinner-on-the-grounds after church on Sunday.  And we'll probably go swimming if it doesn't rain.

Kids' camp.  The beach.  But I already mentioned that.

Here's the "big one."  Some of you will be surprised by this, and some of you will not be. And I'm sure all of you will have lots of questions.  But I'll go ahead and tell you that I definitely don't have the answers to all of your questions right now because I don't even know some of the answers myself!  The Lord has called us to homeschool Mason and Hannah Kate (and Ellie) next school year.  We made this decision a couple of months ago, March 16 to be exact, but we didn't tell anyone because we wanted to tell Mason and Hannah Kate first.  We've talked about it with them in general terms for the past several months, and we've prayed about it as a family.  But we didn't tell them until last week because we didn't want to distract them from finishing this school year well.  They've been asking for it for quite awhile and are excited about it.  I'm excited, too!  I'm nervous, but it's been quite an amazing journey the way the Lord brought us to this, and we know with absolute certainty that this is what He wants our family to do.  We are so thankful and are looking forward to it. I have no idea what to expect.  And it will be a huge change for us because we've been in public school for five years now.  Mason and Hannah Kate know what that's like.  I know what that's like!  So there will be quite the transition involved.  I have no doubt we will have some great days.  We will have some hard days.  Sometimes it will seem like the best thing ever.  And other times it will seem like the worst thing ever.  The only thing I know for certain is that this is what the Lord wants us to do.  And we are going to be obedient to Him!  We are looking forward to following Him in obedience through homeschool.

And that's what's up!  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Favorites

There were lots of favorites this week.

Hannah Kate was a Platinum Scholar and Highest Achieving Student in 1st Grade.

Mason was a Silver Scholar and received the President's Education Award.

Last Day of School
But my most favorite this week?  The last day of school!  School is OVER.  For a little while, at least.  And now I have a 5th grader and a 2nd grader!  And this is how they feel about the last day of school:

A Wedding Invitation
I've played the piano in A LOT of weddings over the years.  The first wedding I played in was in 1995.  I have no idea how many weddings I've played for since then.  I really wish I would've kept a list.  Even now I know I can't remember them all.  I've played for people I know.  I've also played for people I don't know.  This week I was asked to play in another wedding.  But this was, hands down, the sweetest (literally and figuratively!) request I've ever had.  I've known this couple ever since I came to Louisiana in 1999.  They were kids at the time.  I taught them in VBS.  I helped them write English papers and complete college scholarship applications.  I saw them get baptized.  I've heard their parents fuss at them.  I've watched them grow up.  And now I have the honor of playing in their wedding.

Lunch Date
One of my dear friends is moving.  She's from South Carolina.  She came here 20 years ago when her husband was transferred for his job.  They always knew they would go back home, but they thought that wouldn't be until he retired.  They had a five year plan that included five more years here.  But that wasn't God's plan.  After 20 years, they are being transferred back to South Carolina, back home.  I met Elise at BSF.  She was Hannah Kate's leader our very first year.  She was Ellie's leader the first year she went.  And she is my friend.  She truly is a kindred spirit, and we have so much in common.  She is a lady of great faith, prayer and conviction.  She is a great friend.  And I will miss her SO. MUCH.  We met for one last lunch together this week before she moves.

Shining Bright
I know I've bragged on my children a lot this week.  But I'm not really bragging on them.  I'm bragging on God and His faithfulness to us.  Hannah Kate received one more award this week.  Her teacher gave each student a classroom award at their end-of-the-year party.  Hannah Kate received the Guiding Light award for "always thinking of others and showing them the way."  She said that Hannah Kate was always thinking of her classmates and how she could help them.  Any time someone needed help or had a question, Hannah Kate was always the one there for them.  She said Hannah Kate was one of the kindest, sweetest, most thoughtful students in class.  One of the many prayers I've prayed for my children as they go to school each day is that they would be a light to others and that they would shine bright for Jesus.  To me, that's really what Hannah Kate's teacher was saying.  That's really what this award was all about.  I'm so thankful for God's hand on my children and for the ways He has used them as His witness at their school.  Of all the awards Hannah Kate received, this one really means the most to me.   

Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.
~Matthew 5:16

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Silver Scholar

Today Mason was recognized as a Silver Scholar for maintaining a 3.00-3.74 GPA this school year.  He was also given the President's Education Award.
I can not even find the words to accurately articulate what the award of Silver Scholar means to me!  He did this ALL. BY. HIMSELF.  He did this without the additional support of private therapy.  He did this in spite of the hoopla and commotion and chaos that currently defines public education, particularly in our state.  He did this in spite of 12 days of standardized testing.  He did this when other people said he would not and suggested we attend a school with less rigorous academics.  HE. DID. THIS.

If you were to ask me my favorite elementary grade, I would, hands down, say 4th grade. I loved everything about it but especially my teachers.  I loved my classmates that year.  But I heard horror stories about this 4th grade, and I was very apprehensive at the beginning of this school year.  There were sweeping changes in academic standards and standardized testing.  No one was sure how any of the students would do this year but particularly those with learning differences.  So many people had told me, "If he gets through 4th grade, you won't have anything to worry about, and he'll be just fine."  I still haven't figured out exactly what that means.  The only thing I can say for certain is that today was the last day of 4th grade.  And Mason did a whole lot more than just "get through it."

The beginning of the year started off rough.  Before school even started, I had to have several conversations with administration and request a teaching change for Mason.  Yet again, his annual 504 review was an argument.  The homework was excruciatingly difficult.  By the end of September, I told my friend that we would just never make it through the school year.  It was impossible.  I still remember the discussion we had about "other options."  And now we are looking at 5th grade!

Man, I am prouder of this kid than proud can ever possibly be!  I have seen such tremendous growth and improvement in his reading skills this year.  I had the opportunity to have a brief conversation today with the reading specialist at school.  He has worked with Mason for two years now.  Mason absolutely loves Mr. Alex.  I thanked him for what he has done for us, and I told him that I really thought Mason has come a long way this year.  He agreed and said he saw tremendous progress this year, too.  That was so encouraging to hear.

Mason's 3rd grade teacher is the one who essentially got me through the darkest days at the beginning of this school year.  I talked to her today, also.  She told me that Mason is one of the brightest students she's ever taught.  Of course, I've always known that.  But she is one of the special ones who didn't allow Mason's learning difference to define him or his ability.  She knew what he was and is capable of.

Mason had utmost respect for his teachers, Mrs. Olivier and Ms. Yarbrough, this year.  I really don't know what Ms. Yarbrough did or how she did it.  When he was coming home at the beginning of the year with his reading homework and assignments, I really thought it would essentially be impossible for him to keep up or be successful this year.  But I was wrong.  Dead wrong.  He consistently made As and Bs on all of his reading tests this year and had the highest reading grade he has ever had in the entire course of his education since kindergarten!  Whatever Ms. Yarbrough did really connected with him.
Mrs. Olivier and Ms. Yarbrough taught me a lot this year, too.  They taught me how to let go.  They taught me how to let Mason do it, how to trust Mason to do it.  They taught me how to give Mason the space and independence he needed to master this thing on his own.  I didn't take very kindly to this at first.  But I do have utmost respect and gratitude for these two educators.  I have no doubt they are two of the best.  

I just can't believe it.  Fourth grade is over.  Finished.  DONE.  And we have a Silver Scholar!  Fly, Mason.  You're soaring now!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My Platinum Scholar

Today was academic awards day for the 1st-3rd graders.  I already knew that Hannah Kate was going to receive the Platinum Scholar award for maintaining a 4.0 GPA throughout the entire school year.  Hannah Kate is a very conscientious student.  She is also an over-achiever.  She loves school and has such a thirst and a hunger for knowledge and learning.  She is also very independent when it comes to her school work.

I was so proud of her as she walked across that stage to receive her award.  There were also several other 1st grade students who received the Platinum Scholar award.  Here they are with the 1st grade teachers, Elementary Director and Chief Academic Officer.
What I did not know was that Hannah Kate was also chosen as the recipient of the Highest Achieving Student in 1st Grade award.  Because our school is a magnet school with an emphasis on academics and the arts, very few awards are given and all awards given are for either academics or arts.  It was such an honor for Hannah Kate to be chosen for this award.  There really are no words to describe how proud I am of her!  Tears came easy again today, but they were tears of joy and gratitude that I have the privilege of being this precious girl's Momma, that the Lord has entrusted her to me.  
We are very thankful for Hannah Kate's super cute, super sweet teacher!  This was Miss Vaughn's first year as a teacher, and I have no doubt that she will continue to excel as an educator.  She gave her class and her students her all.  We really have been so blessed with some amazing educators during our years in school.
And tomorrow?  Well, tomorrow is Mason's turn!  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hannah Kate is . . . Going Places

The theme for this year's dance recital was Going Places.  Each dance represented a location - city, state, region or country - around the globe that the dancers were experiencing.  The costumes and the music selections were geared toward that particular destination.  

Hannah Kate has been very excited about this recital.  I think this is the most excited she's ever been about a dance recital.  She's always loved them, always enjoyed them, always had fun dancing.  But this year was definitely different.  This was her 4th year of dancing.  Hannah Kate has always done a great job at the recital.  But the past three years, her little classes were still at the stage where they watch their teachers in the wings during the recital.  Their dances weren't necessarily memorized.  And they weren't always together or crisp with their movements.  But that's to be expected with littles.  I knew when I saw the rehearsal last week why it was so different.  She went from watching in the wings to having her dance completely memorized.  The steps and formations were much more complicated than she's ever done.  And for the first time since she started taking dance, it looked like she and the entire class were actually really dancing from a technical standpoint.  This really was a fun dance year.
Aunt Ashley, Abbie and Aunt April gave Hannah Kate this cute dance shirt.  These are a must for recital days because they allow for quick changes and don't mess up the bun.  I had actually ordered her a shirt similar to this a couple of weeks ago.  I can't use my monogram machine right now because my old computer finally died, and the software for my machine isn't compatible with my laptop.  So that's why I ordered her one instead of doing it myself.  But I found out last Wednesday that the girl wasn't going to be able to do the shirt for her.  It's a long story, but at that point it was too late, and there was nothing I could do.  No one knew about this, and I didn't know what the A's had gotten her so I really had to laugh when Hannah Kate opened her gift.
Because of the way their dances fell during the program this year, Hannah Kate and Abbie were able to watch a good bit of the recital together.  Hannah Kate had to sit in Abbie's lap though because we were only allotted a certain number of tickets together, and we didn't have enough.

This was Abbie's 9th year of dance.  Next year will be extra special.  Abbie will dance a solo on stage for her 10th year, and Hannah Kate will dance a solo on stage for her 5th year!  We will actually be on stage in the wings while she dances and then will present her flowers on stage.  As I watched the 5th year dancers this year, I found myself getting teary eyed.  I didn't know any of them, but all I could think about was MY girl dancing her 5th year solo on stage next year, and I just couldn't help myself.
It was finally time for Hannah Kate's first dance.  We took a selfie together in the dressing room.
This is Hannah Kate's class with Nanny, our beloved Office Manager at the studio.  Nanny has been the Office Manager for more years than I know, and she loves all of the girls so much.  The feeling is mutual.  She's also a huge help to us dance moms.  The first two years that Hannah Kate danced, she danced with the same little group of girls.  But last year the majority of those girls didn't return.  She ended up in a new class and knew only one friend.  This year was even more different.  She had never danced with any of these girls before and didn't know any of them.  There's a set of triplets in this class, and five of the dancers are on the competition prep team.  So I think it was very intimidating for Hannah Kate at first.  She really has blossomed over the past couple of years, but she is still very shy in new environments and around big groups of new people.  She struggled with that at the beginning of the year.  But all of the girls in her class are really sweet and have some big personalities.  She adjusted quickly.
This first dance was the jazz dance.  They went to the Sahara Desert and danced to Dive in the Pool Let's Get Soaking Wet.  This was Hannah Kate's very first year taking jazz.  I think that's true for most of the girls in this class.  And let me tell you, Miss Jade didn't start them off easy either!  This dance was super fast, high energy and quite complicated.  But Hannah Kate did it!  This was her favorite dance, and it was a lot of fun to watch.  The crowed loved it.  There was lots of personality, and each girl had a little solo part, too.  I really enjoyed this dance; I just thought the costume was missing some material.  But Hannah Kate loved this costume, too.  As the girls were lining up to go on stage, I couldn't help myself.  I love seeing these little buns all lined up!
Hannah Kate's next dance was tap.  They went to Colorado.  I don't remember the name of the song they danced to, but it was very high energy also.  Hannah Kate said this dance was very hard.  It was much more involved than any of her tap dances in the past.  But it turned out cute.  Their costumes weren't really costumes, in my opinion, but the different colored pants really looked great on stage.  I felt sorry for them though.  These outfits were HOT.  At least we have something cute to wear next winter.  Too bad it probably won't get cold enough here to wear it though!
Hannah Kate's last dance was ballet.  They traveled to the Middle East and danced to some kind of middle eastern instrumental music.  This dance was very interesting for a ballet dance and quite beautiful.  Miss Katherine was Hannah Kate's ballet instructor.  She was new to our studio this year, but she has been dancing for 30 years and has over 15 years of experience in dance education.  She is hard, and she demands a lot from her students.  But she is GOOD.  And all of her classes looked good.  I could tell which dances she choreographed and taught.  From a technical standpoint, they were the cleanest dances in the recital.  I hope Hannah Kate will have Miss Katherine next year, too.

When I looked up, I couldn't help but take this picture.  Doesn't that bun look awesome?! In case I haven't mentioned it, I'm so thankful for hot buns!  They are a dance mom's best friend.
My beautiful ballerina girl!  But I love that she's not only beautiful on the outside.  She's so very beautiful on the inside, too!
As we were patiently waiting to go on stage for the last dance, Hannah Kate sat down for a minute.  I'd give anything to know what she was thinking!
For the very first time this year, Ellie came to the recital.  She has not been before because these recitals are three hours and then six hours if we go to both.  But this year I wanted Ellie to come.  I wanted to see her reaction to the dancing.  I actually wasn't able to see a whole lot because I stayed in the dressing room except to watch Hannah Kate's dances.  But it's my understanding that she remained captivated pretty much the entire time.  She sat and watched.  I think Hannah Kate's jazz dance was her favorite because she laughed a lot during that one.  And prior to the recital, she kept talking about going to "Hannah Kate's dance party."  It was the cutest thing!
About a month ago, I was talking to Nanny at the studio during Hannah Kate's class.  Ellie was running around.  Nanny asked me about registering Ellie for next year.  I looked at her like she was crazy!  When she asked me why not, I said that I thought Ellie was just too young.  And then she reminded me that Hannah Kate was Ellie's age when she started taking dance.  Oh yeah.  I forgot about that.  But then I told her that Ellie was just a much different child and that I couldn't imagine her even staying on her number, much less doing what her teacher told her to without her running around everywhere.  Nanny just laughed and said she thought she'd be fine.  She encouraged me to go ahead and register Ellie anyway since it's just one registration fee per family.  I told her I'd think about it.  The very next week we were sitting in the lobby during Hannah Kate's class.  Ellie was bouncing around as usual.  One of the other moms looked at me and said she thought Ellie should be taking dance.  I just laughed and told her we'd probably get kicked out.  

But I really began giving it some thought.  I can't imagine having two dancers next year . . . two dancers to coordinate during the recital, two dancers to get dressed and changed in such a short amount of time.  Besides school and church, Mason and Hannah Kate participate in only one extra-curricular activity each.  And sometimes it seems impossible to get everybody where they need to be at the time they need to be there.  I can not even imagine adding a third to the mix!  And then two weeks ago, Ellie came into the kitchen.  She asked me to "look and take my picture."  When I turned around to look, she was standing in 1st position and then proceeded to do a plie'!  And then as I thought about it, I realized that it would be Abbie's 10th year, Hannah Kate's 5th year and Ellie's 1st year.  So I think we'll have a third dancer next year!

This dancing stuff is totally not Seth's thing.  But he has never missed one of Hannah Kate's recitals.  He even danced on stage with her the 1st year.  We were watching one of the older ballet classes - and he just hates ballet (there's just no other way to put it) - and I thought he was going to die.  I couldn't help it.  I started giggling and probably disturbed the people around us.  We enjoyed talking about the on-stage antics of some of the "baby" classes and laughing about which one we thought Ellie might be - either the child who gets on stage and immediately runs back off crying or the one who just shows out and does everything she's not supposed to.  But here's Daddy and one of his girls.
I couldn't be more proud of my dancing girl!  We absolutely enjoyed the recital this year.  And I'm really looking forward to next year!  This girl right here is, no doubt, going places!
Oh the places you'll go.
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So . . . get on your way!
~Dr. Seuss

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Favorites

Mother's Day
Mother's Day is usually a weird "holiday" for me.  I never get to celebrate with my mom on Mother's Day.  And that's really how I think about Mother's Day.  My mama.  She isn't here, and I'm not there, and it just doesn't feel right.  In my mind, it has everything to do with her and not necessarily with myself as a mom.  It never involves "breakfast in bed," and my children aren't yet at the age where they're going to "rise up and call me blessed."  Instead they're going to rise up and call my name a million times a day because they need something or want something or have a question.  I mean, isn't EVERYDAY mother's day?  I love mothering.  I really do.  Some days are long and hard and frustrating.  Some days are the best ever.  Some days I want a do-over.  And other days I just want to go to bed and start over the next day.  But everyday I could just pinch myself . . . is this really my life? Are these really my children?  Because it just doesn't seem possible that these precious blessings have been entrusted to me by my heavenly Father.  I mean, it doesn't get any better than this right here!
I insisted on a picture with my lovelies before church.  And then I told them that I thought they should all give me a kiss since it was Mother's Day.  Only one of them happily obliged my Mother's Day request.  Mason thought I had absolutely lost my mind.  He's just too cool these days.  And Hannah Kate was too worried about getting my lipstick on her!

Disney's Frozen on Ice
Last weekend I took Hannah Kate and her little BFF, Jaci, to see Frozen on Ice.  I have to admit . . . I was probably more excited than they were!  They had the best time.  And afterwards Jaci spent the night with us.  These two girls just cracked me up.  They were giggling and being silly and talking talking talking.  They reminded me so much of myself and my BFF when I was growing up.  Brought back some sweet memories.  Here they are with the $12 snowballs.  Yes, I am that mom.  But I did not buy the $4 straws!

At the beginning of the show, there was lots of music and dancing and fancy lights flashing everywhere.  Jaci looked at me and said, "I feel so special."  Melt my heart!  But you know what?  I felt so special, too!  I'm just a sucker for a princess.  And Disney does it so well!    

Plant Sitting
I've been plant sitting for my friend for a couple of weeks now.  She bought several beautiful plants for her garden but had to go out of town for awhile and wasn't able to get them planted before she left.  So she brought them to my house so I could take care of them while she is gone.  My parents have the most beautiful hydrangea in the yard.  I always took it for granted as a child.  But hydrangeas are one of my favorite garden flowers.  I'm not able to plant any because we don't have enough shade around our house.  Ellie and I have been watering my friend's hydrangea and watching it bloom all week.  We've had the best time with it.  I think I just might have to keep it.

And speaking of blooms, my day lilies have been putting on quite a show this spring.  They've bloomed like never before.  I have a row of grandmother's lilies planted along side the friends' entry door.  They are bigger this year than they've ever been.  I wish I had a picture of them, but I haven't taken one yet.  We are still working in the garden on that side, and it isn't finished yet.  These are the ones planted underneath the crepe myrtle.   

My Herb Garden
In addition to plant sitting, I've also been herb sitting.  My friend also bought a bunch of herbs for the both of us.  So I've been taking care of hers, too, while she's gone.  I've never had good luck with herbs, but I'm trying again this year.  I'm planting all of mine in pots so I can move them around and keep them out of the scorching sun this summer.  When she first brought them over, I put all of them in my wagon for easy watering and transport.  I have to admit . . . I love to go out there and just stand by it because it smells so. good!  This picture just makes me happy.  I planted rosemary, oregano, thyme, sweet basil, lemon basil, mint, cilantro, parsley and dill.

Morning Time
I have so loved my mornings with Ellie this week!  Each morning (except for yesterday, which was errand day) was the same . . . bike ride, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, water the flowers, tend the vegetable garden.  I can't wait until school is over so Mason and Hannah Kate can join our mornings!  (And piggy tails!  Pig tails are one of my favorites, too.)

Vacation Bible School
I really think my kids get more excited about VBS than they do about Christmas!  And tis the season!  I'm hosting our first leadership planning meeting and training this Sunday so VBS stuff has exploded all over my house this week.  Hannah Kate saw me putting together some decoration suggestions and ideas and just squealed in delight.  I mean, who doesn't love a treehouse?  This year's theme is just fantastic, and I can't wait!  My girls helped me put the finishing touches on the leaders' folders tonight.

Fish Tacos
Tonight for supper we had my favorite fish tacos!  I've talked about these before.  I just absolutely love them!

And tomorrow is another one of my most favorite days of the year: Hannah Kate's dance recital!