“I Knew the Day Would Come.”

Yikes!

The owner of our day care for the last seven years said this to me a few weeks ago, when I turned in our notice that today would be our last day for our youngest there.

I knew it too, and now that it’s here, we adults are all a little emotional about it!

It was a no-mascara kind of morning.

My oldest has her last day of kindergarten, and my youngest has his last morning at our day care center. My babies are growing up!

For the past two years, I have been able to call my daughter a kindergarten-er (4K and 5K). Now she will be a first-grader! She has grown up and learned so much these past 180 days. And I think back to the hurried mornings with my reminders to “get going.” This is apparently what I like to say according to my son:

Mothers day 2016

My mother’s day “card” from my four year old son.

180 days Big Sister “got going” and went to an awesome school led by talented, caring teachers.

I volunteered and helped her class learn about art. It was a joy to see 20 little five and six year olds each month and watch them create projects based on famous works of art. We learned together and had fun!

Little Brother will end his pre-school program at our day care and will be in four-year-old kindergarten this fall. First grade and kindergarten here my kids come. Watch out!

I knew this day – the last day – would come, and so I thought it would be no big deal. To my son and daughter, it was just like any other day. Little Brother was grumpy and sat in the car as I walked Big Sister up to the kindergarten playground. I then dropped him off at day care, shedding some tears and hugging the day care owner and teachers who have known my kids since they were babies.

But, wow – 6 years. This is a big deal. Where did the time go?!

There’s a lot of great memories and love for all of the wonderful teachers who have helped shape my kiddos these past 4 – 6 years.

Overwhelmed after both drop-offs, I took a walk and decompressed a bit, enjoying a beautiful, sunny morning and reflecting on the past year(s).

20160608_105609

Ahh – nature, and a bit of exercise.

I am so proud of my kids and so thankful for walking along with them, as they learn and grow.

As I posted in the beginning of the school year, I hope that this summer we can enjoy, love much, and simply “live” in the moment!  Cheers & happy summer!

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Spring Break was a Needed Break

Coming off of Spring Break this morning, I woke up early-ish, expecting a difficult morning. After a week of being able to sleep in and enjoy a few “pajama mornings” (as we call them), I was sure it would be tough to get my daughter up and moving. And wow, was I ever wrong.

This morning was delightful!

My daughter woke herself up early.  She was well-rested, probably exhausted from swimming, and a quick bike ride to the park after dinner. Plus, she was just excited to go back to school again. We had talked about it on Sunday night, and I asked what she might do to help get ready for Monday morning. She decided to pack up her backpack, which was another thing done! Breakfast, getting dressed, and packing up all went so well that I even had time to french braid her hair. This was a small victory in our year long quest for a better morning routine and a nod to my New Year’s resolution for less hurry.

Looking back at Easter weekend and Spring Break last week, I do think that the “break” really was needed for everyone in our family. We went to church, visited with out of town family, took a day trip to Madison, and did fun activities throughout the week.

spring break collage

Views of Lake Mendota from Picnic Point Beach, Madison, Wisconsin.

As you can see, we had a bright, sunny day to enjoy a brief hike on our visit to Madison. Aren’t the colors of the lake so soothing? Cool as it was, my son and daughter had fun feeling the sand between their fingers and exploring the shore. It makes me look forward to camping this summer and warmer weather in general. Our spring break started with snow on Good Friday and ended with more snow on April 2, so it goes in springtime in Wisconsin.

The time away from our daily routines and the stress of preparing to move was healing, a way to relax and recharge.

Over the weekend I was able to take my own solo road-trip to celebrate one of my very best friend’s birthdays. Quiet time behind the windshield gave me a chance to be with my thoughts, belt out some of my favorite tunes (without any complaints!), and catch up on some leisure reading during pit stops. A chance to re-connect with my dear friend who I’ve known since elementary school is always a welcome and fun break, not to mention a bit of therapy at times!

Plus the kids enjoyed some of their own time with just Daddy O. I was greeted with hugs and many stories of their adventures together. “I only wanted to hug you eight times,” little brother reported, and so we had to catch up on hugs a bit on Sunday afternoon / evening.  I came back from my road trip feeling very loved and happy to be home.

We didn’t do anything overly extravagant or exciting over Spring Break, but it certainly was enough for us all. I saw this quote at the museum we went to and thought that it summed up my sentiments quite well.

quote

Fly on the Wall: Stop Chatty, Chat, Chatting

It’s that time of the month again! Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post.  I’ve written these posts before, and you can find past posts on this page of my blog.

Today 12 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Here’s who you’ll be hearing from:

  • Me, Mama O.
  • Daddy O.
  • Big Sister, age 6
  • Little Brother, age 4

Animal Antics

My kids really love animals, so I wasn’t surprised when my son said, “I am chewing my spaghetti as a llama.”  Oh really! He’s continued to say this whenever we eat pasta now.

Little brother sniffing me (like an animal), then told me, “When you wake up, you smell like a stinky ball.”

I asked him, “Do you smell like a stinky ball when you wake up?”

“No way!” he said.

While riding in the car, Little Brother declared, “Guess what? Wolves and African wild dogs can tire their prey to exhaustion. They run and run and run and then they get the moose.”

Me to Daddy O. “Wow, he’s just like that kid in Jerry Maguire!”

Tonight in the car, the kids were comparing my driving speed to how fast animals can run. “A lion is 40 mph. Did you know giraffes can only run 25 mph? This is way slower than a cheetah can run. Yeah, that’s 70 mph.” They really crack me up!

New Desserts

As I may have mentioned in other posts, I have a lot of time at home with Little Brother while Big Sister is in all day kindergarten. During winter we try to stay busy even if we’re indoors, so we’ve ended up baking together several times. One day he came up with his own dessert and starting giving me instructions:

“First take a chocolate granola bar. Then put Nutella on it. And then add green sprinkles.” He let me make my own version with Nutella on a graham cracker, saying “you get the pink sprinkles.”  This guy is chocolate lover like me!

Every year for the past 14 years we have been fortunate to receive some Japanese candies along with a card from a family I met when I spent a summer in Tokyo. In turn, I try to send them American candies.  This year it was fun trying all of the candies as a family. My daughter recently held up a fig-newton looking bar, and asked what I thought it was.

“It’s not chocolate! I know that much. It’s probably bean paste.” (as an aside, my mom had mistaken chocolate for bean paste when she visited me in Japan and bought a dessert all by herself – big disappointment).

Big Sister gave it a try, and exclaimed, “You gotta try this bean paste!” I guess I have a new ingredient that I can sneak into baking…

Just because we’re on the topic of baking and desserts, I thought I’d add a few comments around our 10 year anniversary.

Daddy O: I would really love a cherry pie for our anniversary.

Me (later in the day): I made you a marriage of our favorites – your tart cherries and my dark chocolate made one delicious chocolate cherry cake!

Daddy O: This is so good, I’ve had to have two a day!

Mama O and Daddy O on their 10 year anniversary

The selfie I took of Daddy O. and me on our actual anniversary.

Say WHAT?!

I took Little Brother shopping recently, and he spied some camouflage walkie talkies. He was all excited and of course wanted to buy them. I told him that he should bring his money to buy that toy, so we went home to empty his piggy bank and count it. When Daddy came home he said, “I have enough money for a wafee toffee.” I corrected him, “You mean a walkie talkie, right?”  Little Brother, “No, wafee toffee.”  We ended up returning to the store to let him buy the walkie talkie, and he since has stopped saying “wafee toffee.” It sounded pretty cute though!

When Little Brother is getting impatient (usually when we’re out in public), he has taken to saying, “Stop chatty, chat, chatting.” But my name is Cathy…isn’t Chatty Cathy a thing?

We were driving around, looking for a place to eat Sunday brunch, and as we passed a favorite neighborhood bistro, Little Brother professed, “I love bistros.”

Big sister wanted to play some apps or read some e-books on my Nook Tablet, and asked for the password, “Can you tell me the password when I’m like 13 or 14 years old?” Yes, I sure can. She’s so cute!

Life Isn’t Fair

Big sister at age 6 is becoming prone to drama – eye rolls, hands on the hip, and stare downs from time to time! Ugh!  She blurted out, “Jordan and Kate ALWAYS get hot lunch. How come I NEVER get hot lunch?! Life isn’t fair. Don’t laugh at me, Mom.”

Oh my child…I could not help but laugh.  How much you have to learn! And I am sure I will be hearing, “Life’s not fair” from you many more times!

For more Fly fun, be sure to click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado

Juicebox Confession

Menopausal Mother

Someone Else’s Genius

Spatulas on Parade

Searching for Sanity

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

Not That Sarah Michelle

Southern Belle Charm

The BEST Museum I’ve Ever Visited: Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

We found a museum that we love so much that we’ve managed to go there twice now.  It’s in Tucson, Arizona, a few thousand miles away from Wisconsin.  When the months get colder here (and do they ever!!), we’ve found Arizona to be an ideal retreat from winter.

During such a cold day back home, I took some time to organize our pictures from our recent visit with kids to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

Here it is so well described on their website:

The 98 acre Desert Museum is a fusion experience: zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium.

And it’s almost ALL outside, giving us “snowbirds” the chance to savor the sunshine.

We started off in the aquarium area, where we learned about the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California. Surprisingly, this body of water is considered part of the Sonaran Desert Region. We enjoyed talking with docents around the touch pool, seeing and touching some echinoderms (sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea urchins) hermit crabs, and other creatures found in the tide pool. My kids especially like the one that “pooped out” its stomach as a defense mechanism.

After that we were outside, greeted by this view:

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum view

View near the entrance of the Desert Museum

We moved along to the Earth Science exhibits, including walking through caves and learning about the history of the region. There were also great activities for the kids: they could pick their own rocks and “sweep” the sand away to reveal fossils.

geology hands on fun for kids

Beautiful rocks and “digging” for dinosaur bones.

Next we meandered along the paths to see all of the exhibit areas that are grouped by habitat types you find in the Sonoran Desert. Here are a few of our favorite animals that we saw:

Rattlesnake, roadrunner, javelina snoozing, bobcats

Rattlesnake, roadrunner, javelina snoozing, bobcats

After lunch in the food court (a better choice with kids instead of the sit down restaurant), we wound around the trails to see the Raptor Free Flight. We’ve seen raptor flights before, but it was so cool to see them fly directly overhead and watch how the Harris’s Hawks flew together in a team.

Raptor demonstration

Harris’s Hawks and Barn Owl show their stuff at the flight demonstration.

And we sure love the desert views.

As seen at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

So much to photograph! From top: cactus garden, red rocks, and kids running on the groomed paths. Bottom: love the colors of this panorama

Near the end of our visit, we ventured into the Hummingbird Aviary.  These birds are simply mesmerizing, zipping around so quickly and stopping to drink nectar. My point and shoot camera could barely capture the hummingbirds in flight! Luckily, I managed to get this shot:

Hummingbird in flight

My best picture in the hummingbird exhibit

Earlier in the morning at the Desert Museum, Daddy O. and I posed for this picture, and I think it just about sums up our reaction to spending almost the entire day here: big grins that spread ear to ear, so happy to be outside and sharing this awesome museum with family.

Visiting the Sonara Desert Museum

Daddy and Mama O in the Desert

I’d highly recommend a visit to Tucson to see the amazing Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum!

Fly on the Fall: Which is that Farmer Thing?

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. I’ve written these posts before, and you can find past posts on this page of my blog. Today a total of 12 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Fly on the Wall Post

Here’s who you’ll be hearing from:

  • Me, Mama O.
  • Daddy O.
  • Big Sister, age 6
  • Little Brother, age 4

For a visual, here are some of our silly pictures from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day:

silly christmas pictures

A Few Gems from Christmas

As Christmas approached without snow and we’d hear the song, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” our kids would yell in reply, “No, it’s not.”

On Christmas morning, I said to Daddy O., “You know your kids are getting older when they’ll actually eat breakfast before opening presents.” I still can’t believe this happened!

I made some quick cinnamon rolls from a tube, something I don’t do often. Big sister exclaimed, “These are the best cinnamon rolls EVER!” Love her enthusiasm! And I’m glad she’s so easy so please – at times.

Big sister surprised us again, declaring, “The people with the fewest presents get to open them first.” So our cat Sumo opened her gift from Santa. She loved the cat toy that sort of looks like a fishing pole. Daddy O. said, “Wow, a toy Sumo actually likes, and the kids can finally play with her!” It was a minor Christmas miracle.

Daddy O.’s Birthday

To celebrate Daddy O.’s Birthday, we went out for breakfast. On our way there, we spotted a red tailed hawk on a power line. Big sister said, “Seeing a raptor on your birthday is better than cake!”

We didn’t have cake for Daddy O. either (which is what I think I was saying before the raptor comment). Instead we made pumpkin bread with cranberries. Happy Birthday to our fabulous Daddy!

Daddy O Bday

After breakfast and before the birthday bread, we enjoyed snowshoeing as a family. Here are some pics from that:

family snowshoe in Wisconsin GoMamaO

Family fun in the snow! It was a beautiful Wisconsin winter day!

 

Yes, We Just Said That

We’ve been inside a lot with colder weather and some colds the past few weeks. Daddy O. was encouraging the kids to find something to do, and I overheard:

Daddy O: I didn’t say ride on your brother.

Me: Don’t ride on your brother?!

Daddy O: Yes, I just had to say that. Sigh…

And I also heard Daddy O. tell Little Brother, “Sop flying off the handle!” Little Brother innocently replied, “Which handle?!” It’s so cute when they don’t understand these sayings!

Little Brother Highlights

During a sick day, Little Brother and I were watching a cooking show. For some reason, he likes watching cooking and baking on TV from time to time – a nice change from cartoons.  This time Martha Stewart was on.

Little Brother: Is Martha a real person?

Me: Yes, honey.

Little Brother: Do you know her?

Me: No.

Little Brother: Can you call her? Do you know her phone number?

Me: No, I can’t! (lol!)

One day for breakfast, little brother asked for “hula hoop things.” I think he meant fruit loops.

And finally, my favorite saying came from a conversation we had while walking to the grocery store.

Little Brother: Which is that farmer thing?

Me: What do you mean?

Little Brother: That farmer way of blowing noses.

Me: OH, you mean a “farmer blow?”

Little Brother: Yeah, farmer blow.

Me: You don’t need to do a farmer blow when you have a tissue.  Here’s a tissue!

I honestly forgot when we mentioned the term “farmer blow,” but it was in his little head! Maybe it was when we were camping over summer…? Who knows, but it was hilarious!

Now click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

http://www.BakingInATornado.com                         Baking In A Tornado

http://www.juiceboxconfession.com                            Juicebox Confession

http://www.menopausalmom.com/                          Menopausal Mother

http://www.someoneelsesgenius.com                            Someone Else’s Genius

http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/                  Spatulas on Parade

http://singlemumplusone.blogspot.com                      Searching for Sanity

http://batteredhope.blogspot.com                         Never Ever Give Up Hope

http://dinoheromommy.com/                     Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com          Not That Sarah Michelle

http://www.southernbellecharm.com                   Southern Belle Charm

http://mybrainonkids.net                                     My Brain on Kids