Sunday, August 21, 2016

Open Gym

 Ever since the Olympics started, and even before, Tommy has been obsessed with somersaults.  He started with having us count them as he would roll across the room.  Over and over.  So finally, I thought it might be good to take him to a place where he could do gymnastics.  I know he doesn't like to be told what to do so I figured the better choice would be to take him to a open gym session first. 
 Not only did Tommy LOVE it but so did Charlotte! Hanging bars in their USA clothes! Little Olympians.

 Charlotte likes the rings.  She kept facing the other way and I would tell her to turn around so I could see her face. 

 But instead she would turn around and say, "But this way you can see my butt!" What???

 Rope swinging? This place has everything! 

 Tommy wanted to help Charlotte do it too.


 But Charlotte really loved immersing herself in the ball pit.

 After open gym, we headed to Meijer for stuff and we can't get out of there without riding the penny horse.

 Great smile, kiddo! :)

 Sorry for the Meijer sidenote, we came back to Open Gym the following Saturday. These kids can't get enough! Look at all that room for somersaults!!

More time on the rings!

Uneven bars too? Awesome!

This time we went with friends.  The Gorski boys are so cute.  They must have gotten a memo from each other on what to wear. :)  I hope we can go with them again soon.  I'm sure we'll be going back the next Saturday!

Kindergarten and Pre-K 3's Class: A New School Year

A new school year has started for the kids.  On Tuesday, Tommy moved into Kindergarten and Charlotte moved into the 3's class.  Charlotte isn't supposed to be in the 3's but since she's so close to the cut off, they let her start early... ONLY IF she was potty trained.  We've been a little lackadaisical about potty training her this year.  We are never in any hurry for that.  But we decided we better get on it.  We started when we went on vacation in July and by the time she went back to school, she was fully trained. Yay us!
So off to school they went. 
I actually took this picture on Sunday morning since I was going to be spending the week at leadership training in Phoenix.  I dressed the kids up in their fave outfits with their favorite toys and had them pose like last year. We've been working on Charlotte to find something else besides Elsa for about a year now.  Hopefully she'll find a new heroine or career soon. ;-)  Tommy came out of left field with his response of a pirate.  No idea where that came from.  I'm surprised he didn't say gymnast.  He has been flipping all over our living room since the Olympics started. 

 Here is a comparison picture from last year.  The more things change, the more they stay the same. Both are still into pink and blue but much 'cooler' clothes, of course.  The shoes are much bigger but similar in color.  Charlotte has way more hair and both are much taller even though it's hard to tell from the angle of the second picture.  Crazy how much they grow and change in a year!

So while I was in Phoenix with these strangers learning how to be a leader...

 I was getting updates from afar on our school's new app.  This was an old picture that our cook posted.  She started a cooking class this summer and would find things to make that Tommy could make with substitutions.  Looks like he loved that!

Then on my birthday, I got this message.  Tommy had an incident which was no big deal.  But he also got kudos (which until I told him it was kudos, he thought it was Toodles, haha).  When I read the kudos at my meeting, I totally cried.  They had just announced that it was my birthday at the meeting  and everyone in the room sang me happy birthday.  Talk about awkward.  Then the presenter also mentioned that I had a kindergartner starting school this week and that they appreciated me being there.  So that was awesome. (Sarcasm intended)  Then all the moms in the room made sure to come over at break and ask if I tried to get out of this.  Thanks, strangers.  I appreciate that.  So glad you could make me feel worse when I was already there. 
But the kudos.  I got the kudos message after all of that.  Tommy helped a kid who was sad and scared about being at a new school.  He's got a great heart and I can take some of the credit for that.  So yeah, I cried.  It was my birthday and I could cry if I wanted to. :)

The night before school started, Tommy's teacher sent home a note for a parent to read on the night before school.  It was a sweet letter and it was to help calm any jitters about the first day.  Andrew did a fantastic job of pumping Tommy up for kindergarten.  Way to go, Dada! Tommy had an amazing first week. 

He had homework the first week! He had to memorize a poem and a bible verse.  Plus he had to put together an About Me bag by Friday.  Wow! Busy first week!! Sheesh! But again, Andrew knocked it out of the park.

Charlotte had a pretty great first week too! She got kudos for a great job helping clean up.  They sent this picture of her and a friend playing Zootopia, according to Charlotte. :)

They also had a dance party on Friday.  She's in this picture but you can hardly see her.  She is in the back left behind a girl in a blue shirt.  Near the end of the week, she had a rough day and got in trouble for not wanting to do seat work.  Hopefully the dance party helped and next week will be much better.  She misses her old teachers I think.  But she still has her besties which helps a lot. 

I'm so proud of these two.  They are growing up so fast and they amaze me everyday.  I'm so lucky to be their mom.  I hope this school year is the best year yet!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ireland Trip Part 3: The Wedding

Friday morning we got up early (like 9 am, early for us during this trip) and headed to the train station to go to Kilkenny/Thomastown. We sat across from a young man (he was 14) from London who went to a private boarding school in Essex.  He was so excited to talk to Americans.  He chatted us up for over an hour.  He was one of 8 children.  He talked about how rude I was for saying to the train attendant, "I'll have a bottle of water please."  He said, "The English invented snobbery.  You're supposed to say, 'May I have a bottle of water please?' or you get your hand smacked."  Andrew checked out of the conversation early when he found out he was more interested in the Kardashians than soccer.  I asked him what he wanted to do when he graduated.  He said he wanted to go to college (which is like a trade school, not 'university' which is a 4 year degree) and do hair like Daenerys on Game of Thrones.  Very very intriguing conversations, I tell you.  His family was originally from Ireland and he was heading to Waterford to visit grandparents and cousins.  Fascinating. 
 Anyhoo, the train dropped us off at this station with this view.  It was completely empty.  We had to call to get a ride to Mount Juliet.

 You've never seen a country so green.  Mount Juliet is where the wedding was taking place.  It has an amazing golf course, horses, cows, falconry, archery,  a spa, and I'm not even sure what else.
We checked in and our room wasn't ready yet so we hopped in the Neals rented VW and hit the countryside. 

 Yes they were crazy enough to rent a car and yes they hit a pole turning left.  Riding with them, I'm not kidding when I say, we all screamed a little whenever a car came around a corner on the right side of the road.  AAHHH!!! We could NOT get used to it.

 We headed to Kilkenny and ate lunch at a place called Kytelers Inn.  The food was great! That pub dates back to 1263.  So much history.

So here is a quick recap of the story of this inn.
One of the oldest inns in Ireland, its first owner occupies a special place in the history of Kilkenny. The daughter of a Norman banker, Alice de Kyteler married four times and in the process amassed a considerable fortune. Local jealousies abounded and she was eventually accused of witchcraft and sentenced to be burned. Her excellent connections with local gentry ensured however that she was ‘spirited’ out of the country to England before the execution could take place.
So we got our picture taken with the freaky Kyteler witch statue.

 Then we walked around Kilkenny a bit.  I love the buildings, if you can't tell.

 We toured Kilkenny Castle.  It was incredible.

 Everything was set up like it would have been.  So cool.

 We saw these little cross-stitched hanging thingys.  A tour guide came over to explain that because ladies of the time used wax on their faces to look like porcelain dolls, they needed something to block their faces from the fire so they wouldn't melt.  So they created these pretty little boards to block their faces from the fire and that, my friends, is where the phrase, "Save face" comes from.  Now you know!

I'm just going to leave this picture here.  If you look closely, you can see boobs. Classy boobs of course.

You're looking at the portrait room. I think we need a room in our house just for portraits.  Sounds good to me. 

 The view of the courtyard was awesome.  You can also see the churches and towers in the background.

 There was a moat that leads into the underground dungeon-looking part of the castle.

 You could also see into Kilkenny.  So beautiful.

Here's more of a full view of the castle.  I could live there I think. :-)

Partial group picture! It was such a gorgeous day.  Much nicer weather south of the city of Dublin.

 After we were done in Kilkenny, we came back and got ready for the Welcome Party BBQ.  The manor house was amazing.  We were able to hang out on the landing and go inside for food and drinks.

 Which is what we did with our wine and beer! Had to post proof that I was there before the late night selfies started. :)

 I did get a picture of Andrew and Travis with the manor house though. 

 The food was delish.  Everything they made all weekend was so good.

 Then came late night.  Our bartender was not allowed to close if we were still drinking.  So once again, we ended up staying up until 4 am.  What a bunch of maroons. Thanks to Amos for taking our picture. 

 Yes, the pictures steadily declined from that point.

 Hi teeth!

 Party time!

 Then Katie got behind the bar!

Last end of the night selfie.  Time to go to bed.  BIG DAY tomorrow!!

 We got up the next day. I didn't feel fantastic. We ate breakfast at 1 pm at the Hunters Lodge.  That was where we stayed.  Andrew felt thumbs up better than me. :-)

 He was also really intrigued by this well right outside our room.  I'm not joking when I say it was a well just like the one batman fell into.  That's why there was a cover.  You couldn't see the bottom.  Very cool though creepy.

 We quickly got ready and headed to the ceremony by the lily pad pond. We heard that two days before this, there were only two lily pads.  They grow fast obviously.

 We clean up pretty nice.

 The bride and groom looked spectacular.

 Everyone, and I mean everyone, cried at the ceremony.  They wrote their own vows and it was beautiful.

 But then it was time to party! Here's a group pic of the Theta Chis.

 The bride and groom said a few words.  Women wore fascinators!!!! Loved seeing those!

Then it was time for the father of the bride to steal the show.  He had a 5 page speech.  It was very entertaining.  He ended the speech with a mic drop saying, "Andy Khaleesi, you have found your dragon."  Too cute.

The best man had to follow that.  There was no way you could follow that.  But Lower did.  He surprisingly made one of the most heartfelt classy eloquent speeches I never thought would come out of that guy's mouth.  Way to go, ALo.

 We ate in this room.  There were two different rooms that were connected and both were gorgeous.  We learned that they used horse hair to etch designs into the ceilings and walls.  Uh, what? But that's what they told us.

 The food was amusing. 

 Amuse bouche cone appetizer was incredible.

 Lots of bride and groom make outs.  More fascinators.

 Then it was time for dancing!!

 And shot taking?? Great idea guys.  You're 36 years old! ;-)  Some of these guys know this and you can see it on their faces.

 You ask ALo to take your picture and he says, "Ok say...." and says something incredibly unexpected? This is the picture you get.  I can't tell you what he said either.

The boys rocked the entire reception. You can tell Travis is slowing down but Andrew and ALo look like they are getting ready to ramp up!

I took some videos at the reception.  The bride is an Irish dancer and her troupe came to the wedding and performed! So cool.  The groom jumped in at one point.  Then there are some other clips of singing and dancing.  It was a great wedding.  We had so much fun.  Such a beautiful location and couple. 

 The next morning we ate a traditional English breakfast at the Manor house which was yum-O. 

Then we went on a bike ride around the estate.

 Countryside picture posin'

 You can see the Manor House in the background.  You can't see any cows behind us though.  They were back there somewhere.

 The River Nore was also back there too. 

It was an inside joke for the groom to be called The King of the North which then was changed to the "King of the Nore!!!" if you can imagine. 

Grabbed a quick pic of the helipad on the estate grounds.  We never saw one land though.

 We spent Sunday night in Dublin and flew out early the next morning.  I was soooooo ready to get home to the kiddos.

 We took more selfies that we know what to do with.  What a week in Ireland!  What a gift.  Thank you to our parents for watching our kids and giving them a great week too.  We are so lucky to have been able to do this.  Happy wedding to the Bowmans and happy 10 year anniversary to us!
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