Last Day of First Grade

Jul 30, 2014

Sunshine starts second grade one week from today. I don't really want to talk about it... I'm pretty frustrated over how short our summers are. And between Trek, running my half marathon and Sunshine getting strep throat, it feels like we've had no summer at all.

But whether I am ready or not, school is about to start. Which means, I should probably get around to posting about the last day of school. Slowly but surely, I'm getting caught up!

Sunshine got out of school on May 22nd. It really was a bittersweet day. We were SO excited for summer to be starting, but boy was it hard to say goodbye to her first grade teacher. Mrs. G is a fantastic teacher and Sunshine learned so much from  her. I tried to convince Mrs. G to move up to second grade with her kiddos, but my begging and pleading didn't work! It was also hard because we had to say goodbye to Mrs. Rita, Ms Hall and Ms Morrison. Mrs. Rita has been the secretary at Sunshine's school since the school opened and we absolutely adore her. It is going to be very strange not having her around this year. Ms Hall and Ms Morrison were 2nd and 3rd grade teachers who moved abroad to teach. I am so sad that Sunshine is going to miss the chance to have them as teachers. Despite never having been in their classes, Sunshine loved both of them and I'd gotten to know them well enough through volunteering at the school that saying goodbye to them was a teary experience.

I am so incredibly grateful for the wonderful school Sunshine has had the opportunity to attend. No school is perfect, but we have been very happy with the education she has received thus far and the close knit, family atmosphere that comes from attending such a small school. I may not be ready for Sunshine's second grade school year to begin, but we are definitely excited to be going back to a school we love so much.

When Sunshine Turned Seven

Jul 25, 2014

When Sunshine turned seven, we celebrated with a Mary Poppins birthday tea, which I've already written about. But, I never jotted down the details of her actual birthday and how we celebrated as a family.

Sunshine's favourite birthday tradition is to have beignets for breakfast, which Bruce Wayne lovingly cooks for her almost every year. While he whipped those up (which is no small feat!), Sunshine opened her birthday presents. She loved the clothes for Josefina, her American Girl doll, including matching pajamas for the two of them. She got a few books and a puzzle, but her most favourite gift of all- a set of scriptures with her name on them.

It seems to be a common tradition in our faith, for children to get their own set of scriptures when they turn eight and get baptized. That is when I got my first set of scriptures, but Bruce and I decided it would really benefit Sunshine to have her own set to read as she prepared for baptism. Plus, Bruce has a different tradition he wants to do for eighth birthday gifts, so Sunshine got her scriptures at seven. She takes them to church with her almost every week, it is not unusual to find her sitting quietly, thumbing through them, and she loves to follow along in them during family scripture study. She thinks having her own set of scriptures is great.

After breakfast, Sunshine headed off to school and since I had my preschoolers here that day, Bruce met her for lunch with a Sonic kids meal. After school, she was excited to show us the contents of the birthday bag her teacher sent home which included a pass to get out of one night of homework and a Dr. Seuss birthday book that took us two nights to get through. {Have I ever mentioned my extreme dislike for Dr. Seuss books? I know... I'm probably the only person in the world who can't stand his writing. It gives me a headache to read!}

For Sunshine's birthday dinner, she requested "spicy chicken" (tortilla crusted tilapia) and rice pilaf, with angel food cake and strawberries for dessert. Then, after a long and exciting day, she headed to bed, one year older and oh so happy!

Man Cub's First Hair Cut

Man Cub has hair... beautiful, blonde, curly hair. This is unusual for my children. They tend to be rather bald until they are, oh, two or three! But not Man Cub. He has always had more hair than either of the girls, from the time he was born! And Bruce had been begging me to cut it since about the time he turned one. Bruce said it was getting too long and he wanted Man Cub to look like... well, a little man. I, on the other hand, was determined not to cut off his beautiful curls because I wanted him to still look like my baby.

The morning of our Easter portraits, I had hair appointments scheduled for the girls. I decided to just bite the bullet and asked our stylist if she would go ahead and trim up Man Cub's mane. Man Cub was not thrilled with the idea. I held him the whole time, and he cried, the whole time. But as soon as Carolyn was done trimming him up, he put on his smile and happily ran off to play.

Man Cub's hair has been trimmed once more since that time, and he is due for another trim here soon. Bruce loves Man Cub's "little missionary cut". I think he looks adorable, but much too old! Cutting off his curls just makes him seem so grown up. His big boy hair is just one of the many things that reminds me over and over again that he is not a baby anymore.

Disney In May

In May, we decided to take advantage of our season passes and make a quick trip to Disneyland before the school year ended. We stupidly thought that since several big rides were closed, Disney wasn't expecting large crowds. Plus, it was like two weeks before school got out, so most parents wouldn't pull their kiddos from school for a vacation, right!?! Wrong! Apparently, a lot of other people had the same idea as us, and the park was super crowded, it was hot and half the rides were closed, making the wait for open rides that much longer. We still had a great time, it just wasn't our most favourite trip to Disneyland. But, as I have said in the past- a bad day at Disneyland is better than a good day anywhere else! (And our days at Disney weren't even bad)

We started our trip with lunch at Slater's 50/50 (the BEST hamburger place around) and a trip to the beach. Oh I love the beach. We had such a blast running in the waves and building sandcastles and burying each other. Disneyland is fun, but the beach is always my favourite part of any California vacation.

Our days at Disneyland were good. We met lots of characters, rode most of our favourite rides... the ones that were open anyway! Our wonderful friends from San Diego drove up to see us for a few hours. We miss them so much and it was great to spend a little time catching up while the wee ones enjoyed Disneyland. We watched the candy apple makers at work, then brought candy apples back as gifts for a friend who had a birthday and for Sunshine's teacher and her school secretary for Teacher Appreciation Week. We spent as much time as possible in Cars Land and made sure we were there for the lighting of Cars Land at dusk. It did not disappoint.

One of the highlights of the trip was that with the right pair of shoes, Beebs was tall enough for some of the big kid rides, including my favourite- Radiator Springs Racers. Unfortunately, Beebs is our more cautious child and she didn't really enjoy any of the big rides that she had been so anxious to get onto. She now claims to have enjoyed Soarin' Over California, but I'll be very surprised if we can get her to ride it again. Hopefully in time she will grow to love all the big rides that the rest of us so enjoy.

After three fun days at the park, we headed back to Arizona, ready to finish out the school year and begin the whirlwind of summer, and what a whirlwind it has been. But that is another post... or ten. Ü

Meeting Beebs' favourite guy. Man Cub still isn't too sure about the characters.

Sunshine watched a Disneyland documentary that talked about the golden spike, which is the center point at Disneyland. Now, every time we go, she  has to stop by the spike and tell us all about it Ü

Sunshine is officially old enough to ride in her own car on all the rides. For the most part she still rode with one of us, but on the few occasions she got to ride alone, it was very exciting!

Riding the Julie Andrews horse on the carousel.

I can't remember where we were or what was going on in this picture, but I love my little Man Cub's face!

And this is how Man Cub spent the entire trip. Bruce bought him two Cars at the beginning of the trip, and Man Cub spent every moment possible looking for a flat surface where Fillmore could drive.

With my favourite girls, waiting for our favourite parade

In line for Beebs' first ride on Radiator Springs Racer. I should have snapped a picture of her face after the ride. She wasn't a fan!

Beebs likes to pose... and Disneyland has lots of pretty places to do so!

Man Cub getting reacquainted with his friend Lily

Reunited with old friends. When we first met the Palmers, we had no children and they just had one. Look how much our brood has grown.

It is rare to see the Fairy Godmother out and about, so we had to get a picture with her

Daisy is another hard to find character. The girls were very excited to see her on Main Street

Such a sweet big sister! And I love that they wanted to wear matching clothes.

Man Cub and Aladdin had quite the conversation going on... talking about their shoes of all things! But it must have left quite the impression on Man Cub, because when we went to see the Aladdin show in California Adventure, he saw Aladdin come on stage and got really excited as he pointed to his own shoes and then to Aladdin's

Sunshine needed a picture on the oil cans in front of Flo's...

... so then Beebs needed one too Ü

I am pretty confident that Man Cub's favourite part of any Disneyland trip is ice cream from the Cozy Cones.

Family photo at my favourite spot in all of Disney... we waited just a little too long to snap the shot, so it was darker than I would have liked, but I still love, love, love this photo!

Radiator Springs after dark. Love those neon lights!
This little guy was pooped by the time we got in the car to make our way home. I love his sunkissed face and blonde hair.

Preschool Wrap Up

Way back at the beginning of last August, I mentioned that Beebs started preschool, and that I was going to be her teacher. As far as I can tell- that was the first and last time I mentioned preschool on here, which is just sad, since preschool was a big part of life from August 2013 to May 2014!

A little history- at the beginning of 2013, I began thinking about our preschool options for Beebs. I quickly started to feel very strongly that sending Beebs to preschool, as we had done with Sunshine, was not the right decision for her. I knew she would benefit greatly from the social interaction and learning opportunities that preschool would provide, but I still did not feel good about sending her to preschool. Instead, I began to feel very strongly that I should teach preschool. I pushed the feeling aside, convincing myself that Bruce would not be on board and that it would be too much for me to handle along with all the other things that keep me busy (ie- raising a family, being Primary president, still taking the occasional photography clients, caring for our backyard farm, etc etc etc) But the feeling kept coming. I finally mentioned it to Bruce in passing, and he was all for it. He was extremely supportive and helped me to talk out all the logistics, set up my preschool room and put together a basic curriculum. Before I knew it, I was advertising for students and it didn't take long for all my available slots to fill up.

Running my own preschool has turned out to be a great experience. I learned a lot last year, and I think my preschool kiddos did too! We had a lot of fun together, and I know Beebs really did benefit from the experience. In fact, she asks me almost daily when preschool is starting again, because she cannot wait to meet new friends and do projects. I am teaching again this coming year, and keeping Beebs in my class, and I am really looking forward to it. I feel like I have a much better idea of how I want to run my classroom and what I hope to accomplish with my preschool kiddos. Last year was fantastic, and I know this upcoming year will be too.

One of my favourite parts of preschool was giving my kiddos their yearbooks at the end of school. I worked really hard on personal yearbooks for each of them and as I finished the books and sent them to be printed, I thought to myself "All this work was in vain. They are 3 and 4 years old! They won't even appreciate these!"

I was so wrong! Getting their yearbooks was a highlight for each of the children. Beebs still loves to look through hers and explain to me in great detail each of the activities pictured. Since I did a terrible job of blogging about preschool throughout the school year, I'll sum up our whole year in this post by sharing the pages of Beebs' yearbook.

I am so grateful I took the leap of faith and started teaching preschool. It has been a wonderful experience for both Beebs and I and I cannot wait to see what the coming year brings.

Mini Monet | Jackson Pollock

Jul 24, 2014

My first session of Mini Monet classes ended in May with our final project (Jackson Pollock inspired splatter painting) and an end of the semester art show. It has been nice taking a break from Mini Monet over the summer, but I am so looking forward to starting it back up in the fall. Mini Monet was such a good time!

Jackson Pollock was a fun artist to study for our final day of art club. He is a well known American abstract expressionist who is well known for his "drip painting". For our drip painting, we set up shop outside with a wide range of paint colours and a variety of objects to carry the paint so we could drip it onto our canvases. String, straws, plastic forks, craft pom poms... I grabbed everything and anything I could think of for the girls to use and they had so much fun experimenting with all the different objects.

The finished products turned out pretty awesome! I probably should have stopped them a few minutes before I did... towards the end, most of the girls started swirling the paint around on their canvases which did take away from the drip painting look a little bit, but they were having so much fun I couldn't bear to stop them. And they all loved their finished paintings (despite the looks on their faces in this photo Ü A few of the girls were less than thrilled to have their picture taken! They wanted to be playing and eating their snack instead.)

A week later, after the drip paintings had plenty of time to dry, the girls and their families were invited back to my house for our art show. I set up different exhibits throughout the main living areas of the house and each exhibit had a print up of the artist we had studied along with the method we used to create our masterpieces. The girls had a blast showing their parents around the gallery. They were especially excited when Mrs. G, one of their teachers from school, showed up to take a look around. Mrs. G took time to walk through each exhibit, read the information aloud and ask the girls questions about their work. She even brought a bouquet of flowers for the girls to share. That was definitely a highlight of the show for all of the girls.

I am currently accepting students for the next session of Mini Monet. Class starts August 23rd and we will be studying different artists and creating different masterpieces. If you have any questions or would like to enroll for the Fall 2014 semester, email me at!

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