Tuesday, October 08, 2013

proud mama bird

My little girls are growing up. This became more apparent than ever when I dropped them both off for their first day of school last month. Olivia could hardly contain her excitement as she woke up for her first day of 1st grade. In fact, she had been anticipating it all summer. Cecilia on the other hand really had no idea what she was getting into. One thing was certain on that first day of school, this mama bird sure was proud of her girls as she saw them standing side-by-side in their backpacks.

Now Cecilia's first day of school was actually Olivia's 2nd day. Cecilia helped me send Olivia off on her first day, mainly by trying to avoid hugs and kisses from her sister. That's Cece for ya! The main thing at the front of my mind as I snapped photos of my big girl on her first day of 1st grade was, how did we get here so fast!

Olivia made her way into her new classroom on that first day like she had been in 1st grade for months. Starting a new grade with new teachers is much easier when you are surrounded by your besties. These girls have been together since they were babies in the toddler room. They have experienced so many wonderful things together and now they have each other while they venture into new territory.

One thing that made Olivia's first day of school even more thrilling was losing her second front tooth at lunch. The first one came out just a few days before. We didn't expect the second tooth to follow so quickly. One of Olivia's teachers was kind enough to send me this photo moments after the tooth fell out. This event really helped to make that first day extra special!

Cecilia's transition into school was a bit more challenging. After a successful introductory day in the classroom with me by her side I thought she was ready to go. As we walked her in for her first solo day she quickly changed her tone and turned on the waterworks. It took Cecilia about two weeks to adjust to going to school 3 mornings a week and being able to do it without crying. What we discovered was that she was most comfortable having her big sister walk her in each day. That way she could say good bye to me at the car and it was not me leaving her at the classroom door. After a longer than I expected transition period she is now attending school without tears and loving it!

As if starting school was not enough of a change in Cece's life we also signed her up for her first dance class. I shouldn't have been surprised to see that going into tap class without me would evoke a similar reaction to being left at school. I never experienced these difficulties with Olivia, so to see Cecilia have so much trouble jumping head first into these new life changes was challenging for me too. There is a little boy in her tap class that is also in her class at school. I thought that would make things easier...nope. For the first few weeks of class she would cry as she was scooped up by her teacher. The good news is that the hard stuff is behind us now and she is enjoying both school and "tappy" class.

My favorite thing about taking her to dance class each week is looking at my sweet girl in her cute little dance outfits. I just love the way her tree-trunk legs look in her tiny tap shoes. But more than that I look at her and realize how proud of her I am. I have recently turned her comfortable life upside down, making her try new things with new people. She has not handled these changes in her life with ease. There have been tears and fear in her eyes as I leave her in unfamiliar situations. I have to remind myself that her reactions are pretty normal. Of course my fears and concerns about her unhappiness with starting school and dance are now a thing of the past. She is enjoying her new routine and excelling at her new activities.

Prior to the kids getting into their new school routines we squeezed in some fun "end of the summer" activities. We always try to catch a TinCaps game each summer with the girls. Olivia usually receives a free ticket through the summer reading program at the library and we tag along with her. Lawn seats at the TinCaps always equal a good time!

Another big part of summer for Olivia was soccer. She has been playing consistently for over a year now and it is amazing how much she has improved. The Plex offers a great program for the kids which focuses on skill building, team work and most importantly...fun! She has made some great friends and enjoyed herself tremendously. Things wrapped up at the end of the summer with the medal ceremony. Medals are great, but creating friendships...that's priceless.

Our summer is never complete without a trip to our dear friend's lake home. Every year we spend a day at their cottage. The girls play in the sand as we sit back and relax in lounge chairs. The girls do a great job entertaining one another, which gives Mom a chance to enjoy the peacefulness of lake life. 

A highlight of being at the lake for the girls is taking a boat ride. They being out on the water and the faster the better when it comes to crusin' the lake. No matter how busy our summer gets we always manage to squeeze in our lake day...just another one of our family traditions. 

We had a jammed packed summer. It was full of fun activities with the kids. But before heading back to school we wanted to do something special with just Olivia. Months ago I bought tickets to see Bruno Mars in concert in Indianapolis. We decided to take a mini-vacation for a few days and show Olivia a good time before that first day of school. We stayed downtown and did our best to squeeze as much as we could in a few days. Our first night in town we took Olivia to the Hard Rock Cafe followed by a stroll through downtown.

The next morning we headed to the Indy Zoo. Our hotel was in the heart of downtown and everything we wanted to do was in walking distance. It was a beautiful day and the animals were so active. Olivia had never been to the Indy Zoo before so she was super excited to see animals we do not have at our zoo like bears, elephants, flamingos and rhinos.

Some of the highlights of the day included the dolphin show and getting hands-on with the sharks. For me the highlights were watching the walrus and the polar bear, but nothing was better than seeing Olivia enjoy herself. The whole purpose of our end of the summer get-a-way was to give her some care free time before diving back into school work, and I think we achieved just that.

After the zoo we popped into the butterfly gardens just next door. The butterflies were beautiful but very hard to photograph. I did manage to catch one resting on a leaf for a split second. A much more enjoyable subject to capture on camera is my stunning Olivia. She is simply beautiful inside and out. With her 7th birthday quickly approaching I could not be more proud of the little girl she has become. 

On the way back to the hotel we decided to stop and rent a family bicycle to ride up and down the Indianapolis Canal. I have walked up and down that canal a handful of times but never rented one of the bikes. It turned out to be a really fun experience and a great way to wrap up our fun afternoon.

That evening we prepared for our concert. With tickets in hand we stopped for some pre-Bruno pizza at an incredible pizza joint on the way. Olivia could hardly contain her excitement as we waited to see Bruno live!

It was quite late by the time Bruno hit the stage, but the wait was worth it. He put on an amazing show and kept us on our feet the entire time. Olivia fought sleepiness to sing and dance with me to all of our favorite songs. It had been years since I attended a concert and I found myself more excited than anyone to see a live performance. It was a late night but one we will always remember. We still talk about what fun we had that night and during our end of the summer getaway. 

Now Fall is in full swing and we are busier than ever. The girls have their activities; soccer, dance, gymnastics, etc. and we are working to squeeze in all of our favorite fall activities before the cold weather sets in. One thing is for sure...there is never a dull moment!