Thursday, May 28, 2009

movin' on up

Our baby girl is growing up! This week she graduated from the toddler program at Three Rivers Montessori School. Not only am I completely blown away by how quickly her first year of school has gone, but I am shocked that she is already participating in her first graduation ceremony! Before I continue let me back up a little bit and explain things.

Last week I got a call from Olivia's teacher, Ms. Jodie. Ms. Jodie has been a wonderful first teacher for Olivia. She has learned so much from her and she has grown both physically and developmentally by leaps and bounds. Jodie wanted to talk with me about the possibility of Olivia moving up to the 3-6 year classroom next year, instead of her spending another year in the toddler classroom. We assumed that she would spend one more year in her current classroom because she will not yet be three years old when the school year starts back up in August. After observing Olivia for the entire year and having a few other teachers observe her as well, they all agreed that Olivia should advance into the next classroom in order for her to thrive in her education. I cannot tell you how proud this makes us. Every mother thinks that their child is smart, but to have her teachers tell you that they think she is doing so well just makes you beam with pride! I had some concerns at first, with Olivia moving on at such a young age, but Ms. Jodie assured me that this would be the best thing for Olivia. After discussing it with her at length we fully agree. So because Olivia will not be returning to Ms. Jodie's class next year (sniff-sniff), she was able to participate in the Moving Up Ceremony at school on Wednesday. Now she had no idea what she was participating in, or what "moving up" even meant for that matter. But it gave us a reason to go with our cameras and capture the event, while we choked back tears at that fact that our little girl was growing up right in front of our eyes! Olivia is still in a crib for crying out loud, how is it possible that she will be learning with 6 year olds next year? What I do know is that she thrives in this school and that it has been the best decision we have made for our girl. I am so proud of what she has learned this year and I cannot wait to see what next year brings for her.

After the ceremony we went back to Olivia's classroom to celebrate with cake (Olivia's favorite thing in the whole wide world!). The child scarfed down two pieces before I had to tell her that she had eaten enough. The nice thing about the ceremony was that she got to celebrate with her friends. Some of them will be moving up next year and some of them will be staying in Ms. Jodie's class. Although we will miss Ms. Jodie terribly we know that this is what is best for Olivia. Ms. Jodie told us she wishes she could keep Olivia in her class for another year, but she knows that Olivia is ready to move on.

Before the school year can come to a complete close there was one last event that we were invited to attend...the end of the year picnic. All of the toddler students and their parents gathered together to celebrate the end of the school year. It was a chance for all of the kids to say goodbye to each other and for us to catch up with the parents of those students. It was also our chance to give a big thanks to Olivia's teachers for all they have done for her this year.

Olivia had a wonderful time running around with her friends during the picnic, but she did find time to enjoy some lunch too. There is nothing cuter than watching these little ones, sit at their little tables and eat lunch like big kids. Olivia has made some really great friends this year and I know she will miss them. Luckily she will see some of them throughout the summer while she attends summer camp at the school.

We could not leave without saying our final goodbyes to Olivia's teachers. Since she won't be returning to Ms. Jodie's class she won't see as much of them next year. She became very attached to Ms. Jodie and her two teacher assistants, Ms. Christy and Ms. Ashley. Olivia brought them each a present and gave them big hugs before we left. I even managed to grab a few pictures of Olivia with her amazing teachers.

Olivia with Ms. Jodie...
Olivia with Ms. Christy...
Olivia with Ms. Jodie, Ms. Christy and Ms. Ashley...
It was the perfect end to a perfect year at Three Rivers Montessori School. Olivia learned more than I would have ever expected her to learn at this age. She learned how to respect and play with other children, she learned how to express her feelings, she expanded her vocabulary and even started speaking Spanish. To say that we are proud of all she has accomplished this year is an understatement. We are so grateful to Olivia's teachers for taking the time to teach Olivia so much and for taking such great care of our little girl. I am sure I can speak for Olivia by saying that we look forward to starting another school year in a new and exciting classroom. So thank you TRMS and congrats Olivia, we are so proud of you!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

mommy's girl

Last week was a fun week for me. Not only was it Mother's Day but I turned 31 on Thursday. Not that turning 31 is anything to get excited about, but having both holidays fall in the same week made it fun for me and especially Olivia. I think that she was more excited about my birthday this year than I was. She sang "Happy Birthday" to me every chance that she got that day. She also knew that since it was my birthday that she would probably be able to enjoy some cake. I think the best part of my birthday for Olivia was opening my presents. Yes, she opened each and every one of them. She would tear through a package, say "Wow! Look at this!", toss it on the floor and move on to the next one. I think she had them all opened by the time I got to look at the first gift. It was hilarious! Turning 31 may not be anything special, but having a little girl make a fuss over you for one day sure is!

We had family back in town for the Mother's Day weekend. My Grandmother and Uncle from Michigan came to see us again. Olivia loves when they come into town because it gives her another reason to show off. And since they do not get to see her very often they are more than happy to play up to all of her antics. The weather was quite nice over the weekend. We had our painters working on the outside of our house, which was such a relief. From the moment we moved into this house we have hated the color of the outside. It was just a bland shade of white and there was no contrast or anything that made it stand out. After some consulting with my designer friend Korrie and our painter we settled on a color. This time around I do have a before and after picture to share. Here is what our house looked like last week...

And here it is now...

Big difference, huh? We were shocked by how much it changed the look of our home. People have been turning their heads as they drive by (hopefully they like what we have done). We have gotten quite a few complements from people. The best thing about it is that the house now has our own personal stamp on it. It feels more like our home, than a house that we bought from someone else. I smile each time we pull into the driveway.

On Mother's Day my Mom hosted a nice brunch for family and close friends. It was nice to spend the day with so many great mom's. I don't think Olivia got the memo that you should be sweet to your mommy on Mother's Day because she was in quite a mood all day. No particular reason really. I just think she woke up on the wrong side of the bed and decided to stay grumpy all day. I did manage to get a few nice pictures with my girl throughout the day. It was not easy and in order to get a nice four generation picture with my mom, grandma, Olivia and I we actually had to bribe her with money! I know...not a good thing to start with a kid, right? Well desperate times call for desperate measures. Believe me, it is not a regular occurrence around our house to bribe her with money to get her to do what we ask. But if giving her $1 would make her willing to smile for a few pictures then so be it.
Grumpy day aside, Olivia ended up making Mother's Day very special as I was getting ready to put her to bed. After we read a few stories we rocked in the chair for a few minutes. I told her that I had a nice Mother's Day and that she is very special to me. She lifted her head off of my shoulder, looked me in the eyes, put her hand on my cheek and said, "Mommy, you are special to me." Well that definitely made up for her bad attitude. It made me realize just how lucky I am to be the mother to this amazing child. Sure, she has bad days...we all do, right? But deep down she is the most kind hearted, thoughtful, loving child I know. I could not ask for anything more and I would not change one thing about her. I know that one day I will beg and plead for kisses and hugs from my girl, but I do hope that no matter what...she will always be mommy's girl!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

work hard, play hard

I am so happy to say that Spring is here! We have been enjoying the change in temperature and spending as much time outside as possible. This is the first Spring we have had since moving into our new house. We moved in last October so we never really had a chance to do any work on the outside of the house. Once we started working outdoors we realized just how much needs to be done. So we decided to tackle one project at a time. First up...our deck. What a chore that turned out to be! After one full day of power washing by Todd and an entire weekend of staining it was finally completed. I only wish I had thought to take a before picture. Since I didn't all I can show you is the finished product. Believe me when I say that it looks one million times better. It is so nice to have a nice place to relax now. I cannot even tell you how nice it is to sit on the patio and look out at our pond...such a great view! One project down, now onto the next one.

Our entire yard needs to be landscaped. We are taking it one step at a time and have realized that it is probably going to take us a few years before things are the way we want them. The one thing we did want to do right away was lay out the plans for the garden Olivia wanted to grow. Ever since we mentioned the idea of growing vegetables to Olivia she has been on board. I think she was a little confused on the purpose of a garden at first because when we asked her what she would like to grow she told us, "bumble bees!". We explained how a garden works and she decided which vegetables she would like to grow. So after laying out the plans, buying the supplies and getting some instruction from my Mom we got started. I have never grown a garden before and I don't have much of a green thumb.

It was a beautiful day last Saturday so we all headed into the backyard to plant our seeds and starter plants. The only problem? Olivia seems to have developed a severe fear of all yard machinery. She is terrified of the following...lawn mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers, edgers and anything else that makes a loud, motorized sound. Not sure why this developed but if it continues it could make for a very long summer. Each time we are outside and she hears a loud noise she immediately decides that she wants to go in. We are working to teach her that she has nothing to be scared of, but it does not seem to be sinking in quite yet. So...as Todd and I planted everything she sat in my Mom's lap with her head buried in Nana's chest. She did manage to put her fears aside for a few seconds to throw a few seeds in the ground. After awhile it got to be too much so she and Nana headed indoors while Todd and I finished up.

After everyone in the neighborhood seemed to be done with their yard work for the day Olivia decided that she would come outside to see her garden. She is super excited and seems to understand that in order for her vegetables to grow she must water them. The one thing she does not understand is how long it is going to take before we will be able to eat anything. I think she asks me every day if it is time to eat our vegetables. I can't wait until later in the summer when we will all able to enjoy the fresh veggies we have planted. Now hopefully she will get used to the everyday outdoor sounds. I have a feeling it may take awhile. As a child, and even to this day loud noises bother me. I think I just have very sensitive ears. So I cannot blame her for being scared. She obviously inherited that trait from me...bummer! And yes, as you can see from the pictures below her hair is still crazier than ever! As the weather gets warmer the curls just get bigger and bigger. There is no stopping the incredible force that is Olivia's Hair!

Even with all of our hard work outdoors we have still found time to play. We have been to the zoo twice already and plan on making many more trips. Olivia can hardly contain her excitement when we announce that we are headed to the zoo. She talks about all of the animals that she wants to see, but the second she gets there she cares about nothing other than riding the carousel. Monkeys...seen 'em, tiger...great, carousel...yipppeeeee! I am hoping that she will start to develop a little more of an interest in the animals. I think we may have to avoid the carousel next time around. She did get to pet a very fluffy rabbit on our last visit and she proceed to tell the zookeeper, "conejo". In case you are wondering, that is the Spanish word for rabbit. She tends to blurt out the Spanish names of words when she knows them. It kills me! She has been learning quite a bit of Spanish at school and we have a couple of Spanish books that we read at home. I think she has about 25 words that she knows in Spanish. I am so proud of how well she is learning the language. It just goes to show how much their little brains can absorb!

We have also been taking many trips to the various ponds in our neighborhood to feed the fish, ducks and geese. Olivia loves nothing more than throwing bread or cheerios to the fish. The ducks and geese aren't too interested but she sure tries hard to entice them to come over. All of the ducks and geese have recently had their babies so we have lots of families hanging around. There is nothing cuter than little duck babies...so sweet! Olivia loves seeing them and usually reacts by saying, "Awwwww...they are sooooo cute!".

So the nice weather has been keeping us busy. We have been working very hard on our house but we always find time to play hard too. It should be a fun summer. If only people did not have to do yard work. In a few short weeks Olivia will be done with her first year of school (mind blowing!). In one month Olivia will perform in her very first dance recital. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am for that! She is growing more and more into a big girl. I am watching as she learns to express her emotions to us. She can tell us when she is unhappy, sick or excited about something. She still has more energy than any one I know, but she sure knows how to enjoy life. She also knows how to throw quite a fit when she is frustrated or unhappy about something. There has been a lot of whining lately, which drives me crazy! I usually ask her to not whine and talk in her normal voice. That is the only way I will listen to what she is trying to say. When she is upset about something she usually does this fake cry thing to show her displeasure. I ask her to please not cry and she responds by saying, "I like to cry!". What do you say to that? I think what it comes down to is that it is hard to reason with an upset 2 year old. We usually just let her blow off steam until she announces to us, "I am happy now!". Kids...what strange creatures. It's a good thing they are so darn cute!