Jack is 7!

Jack is now officially 7!  We had a pretty fun day on his birthday…

First things first, we had to open presents.  They were pretty heavily Star Wars themed again and Jack immediately got to work building some Legos and skating around on his skateboard.  I’ve been giving the non-birthday sibling a gift the last few birthdays and I found a Queen Amidala costume for Casey that she loved.

We went to a Memphis Redbirds game in the afternoon.  The Redbirds are a AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Pat signed the kids up for  Rocky’s Kids Club and they got to go on the field before the game and make a high five tunnel for the players to run through.  They also got to go on the field after the game and run the bases.

But the best part was that the big “Happy 7th Birthday Jack!” that showed up on the Redbirds scoreboard.  They showed it after the 2nd and 7th innings.  The first time, Jack wasn’t really sure what to make of it, but he loved seeing it the second time.

It also happened to be Nickolodeon day at the park and there were all kinds of shenanigans with slime going on in between innings.  All the kids were invited to go get slimed by the slime-a-nator.  The birthday boy had absolutely no interest in that, but his sister begged to go get slimed.  I thought she might change her mind after seeing other kids get hit with the slime but she was determined to do it.  A big bucket of cold slime crashed down on her head when it was her turn and she loved it!

 

On the way home from the game, we stopped at Baskin Robbins and let Jack pick out an ice cream cake.  He found one with a golf ball and bag on top and assured me that he liked mint chocolate chip and we came home to light some more candles.

Jack’s Bowling Birthday Party

Sometimes Jack gets the short end of the stick with birthday parties.  He gets parties, but they don’t get quite the time and effort that Casey’s do.  Of course he hasn’t noticed a difference so in the end it seems to work out for us.  Casey is still asking what kind of crafts we’re going to do at Jack’s party though.
One year we thought we wouldn’t have a big party until all my friends convinced me to have a little playdate party for him.  This is the one where Tugger ate the cake and I had to make a last minute call to a friend to pick up a cake.  Last year we had just moved into the area and didn’t really know anyone.  On Jack’s birthday we went to a Hail & Farewell for Pat’s office and the Captain’s family got him a cake and some sweet people who didn’t even know him brought presents for him!  
This year we were trying to work around friends being in and out of town, so we decided to have an early party.  Jack originally wanted to take some friends to a baseball game but the schedules didn’t work out.  When I suggested bowling, he thought it was great.  So we invited three of his best friends, I grabbed some Star Wars themed plates, napkins and balloons at the store and we planned a party.  
It also happened that Jack’s party was in the middle of Vacation Bible School week for us and after I spent a morning with incoming 1st graders, I was not feeling ready for a bowling party.  But I pushed through, got some brownies and ice cream made, blew up some balloons and Jack was happy.  
As soon as the boys got here, an epic Star Wars battle began and there was a lot of energy in this house.    I was kind of afraid to take that energy to the bowling alley by myself, but once we got to the bowling alley they all settled down and started focusing on getting strikes!  I really had fun watching the boys bowl.  (But I’m going to have to join in next time I go!)

After 2 games of bowling, we headed back to the house to make pizza and eat cake.  Jack was so impatient to open his presents that he didn’t even want to blow out the candles on his cake.  Then he didn’t even eat a piece of cake until after all his friends left.  He was too busy putting Legos together!

Nana bought some great cake toppers for Jack’s Ocean City birthday celebration back in May and Jack wanted to use them again.  General Grievous and Anakin Skywalker battled it out on top of the brownies.
I think Jack was pretty happy with his birthday party.  He really liked bowling so we’ll have to go back a few more times this summer.  And I was happy that everyone seemed to have a good time without me trying to recreate anything from Pinterest.  I didn’t even have party favors – gasp!  
Only 2 more days until someone officially turns 7!

1st Grade!

Jack started 1st grade on Monday!  He was very excited about going to school and riding the bus.  He didn’t seem to be nervous at all.  I guess I need to try not to project how nervous I would be if I were him onto him 🙂  New school, new teacher, new friends, new bus experience…and it didn’t phase him! 
 
After pictures and getting to the bus stop nice and early, he hopped right on the bus without a second thought.  The driver had to get him to turn around for a picture.  Casey and I had a nice long day together and then walked up to the bus stop to get Jack.  We waited for 20 minutes before we even saw a bus in our neighborhood.  It drove back and forth on the cross street below ours a couple times like the driver didn’t know where to go.  Then I saw some people walking from the other end of the neighborhood towards us.  It turned out to be Jack and another family from the bus stop where he decided to hop off the bus.  He got off about 3 stops too early.  The nice family decided to walk with him to make sure he got to our house.  When I asked him why he got off so early he said, “I didn’t know how close it was going to get to our house, so I just got off!”  Brave kid!  It didn’t upset him in the least.   
There’s since been a week of school and I’m not quite sure what he’s doing for 7 hours a day.  There’s “early bunch” in the morning which means they color until everyone gets there.  There are announcements, two bathroom breaks, lunch, and recess (if everyone is good).  I think maybe the learning starts this week? 
He brought home some homemade play-doh that his teacher made and he said, “It’s just like regular Play-Doh but it tells the future.  Isn’t that great?  This one said we are going to have a great year.”  
I think he’s made a few friends but he’s iffy on the names.  He said, “The one boy that I expected was going to be my best friend said he didn’t want to be my friend.”  It makes my heart break and makes me laugh all at the same time.  I’m not sure why he “expected” someone was going to be his best friend…it’s kind of cute.  And I’d like to hope he just misunderstood the situation and that boys are not that mean.  Luckily it didn’t seem to bother him too much.  And then we talked about making sure he was nice to everyone and friends with everyone. 
So far he’s enjoying the experience but he said the homework starts this week.  I hope he still likes school after this week 🙂 

School Registration

Today was registration day at Jack’s new school.  He starts school next Monday!  August 6th is pretty early but he gets done around the 3rd week in May.  That’s why we had to miss International Festival and our two weeks of August in Maine and visit earlier.

Pat asked Jack if he was nervous about starting school and he said, “A little bit.”  When pressed further, he said he is nervous because he hasn’t really done as many worksheets as he should have done this summer.  Not because he’s going to a brand new school and has no idea where his classroom is or who his teacher is and not because he doesn’t know anyone at the school!

I’ve tried to get him to do a few worksheets and some reading this summer so he doesn’t completely forget how to read.  He’s been very resistant to it for the most part so I may have tried to guilt him into it by telling him he needs to remember what he learned last year or he’ll be behind.  Then I read something on Jack’s 6-7 year checkup from the doctor that said not to push them into reading because it can interfere with his interest in learning.  So I backed off.  Mostly I really want him to love reading like I do but I think that will come in time.

Anyway, I was probably more nervous for his registration day.  I had all my questions written down so I wouldn’t forget anything.  I had the most questions about the bus system.  The only elementary school experience I have is my own and I had 10 students in my class, there were 4 classrooms and only one bus.  This school has seven classrooms of 1st graders alone!

After driving home for a few more pieces of paperwork, Jack is officially registered for 1st grade.  He met the principal and despite our coaching, when she asked him a question he responded with his typical “Yeah.”  At which point she said, “He’ll be saying ‘Yes, Ma’am!’ in no time!”

I was really looking forward to back-to-school shopping but the school puts together a box of all items required for his class and it’s one-stop shopping.  I think Jack would have enjoyed the scavenger hunt of finding all the things on his list and filling the shopping cart, but Pat convinced me this would be much easier.  We still have to go out and find a lunchbox though.

Thursday night is parents’ night for Casey’s school although she doesn’t start until late August.  It is also a movie night at Jack’s school.  He should find out his classroom and teacher then.

And so the school years really begin!!!

  

Jack’s Birthday

Thankfully, Jack didn’t ask us to get up early to try to surprise him this year for his birthday.  Last year we were at the shore and unwrapping presents by 6am after his “surprise” party.

Instead, Jack decided to try to recreate the sleepless night before he was born minus the contractions.  He was obviously very excited about his birthday and wasn’t sleeping well.  I ended up in his room at some point, tossing and turning with him.  Then he woke up at 5:30.

So it was a rough start to the morning but once he dug into his presents, he was much better.  This year I bought only things that he wanted instead of buying things that I thought he would like.  It worked out pretty well as he was very happy with everything.

We had a special birthday lunch for which he chose the menu.  He wanted pizza and when I asked where he wanted it from, he told me Domino’s with a little attitude as if there were any other place from which he would want pizza.  And then he wanted a watermelon, feta and mint salad.  It was really good and he actually ate it.  He asked for a blueberry upside down cake for his cake.  I was very happy to oblige with a cake that required no decorating.  (He was sitting beside me during packing a couple weeks ago while I was looking at some recipes which is why he picked these certain things.)

We had a birthday lunch because for the afternoon and evening we went to a pool party at the Captain’s house.  It was a Hail and Farewell for some of the officers at Pat’s work.  The kids were in the pool for a good 4 hours.  There was also a little impromptu surprise birthday party for Jack while we were there.  He got a few gifts from some very nice people who barely knew him and a big cake.  He thought it was great and was very excited about his toys.

It was a pretty good birthday considering we got our household goods less than a week before and knew very few people here.  

6 Years Old!

Jack turned 6 yesterday!  Here’s a little bit about 6 year old Jack and some old pictures.  Birthday festivity recap to come in another post.

He loves to play.

He still loves Star Wars.

He’s really into Hot Wheels right now.

He likes math and is doing really well at reading.

He’s smart and coordinated and imaginative.

He builds amazing Lego creations on his own and also follows the directions so intently for the sets he gets.

He loves sports, especially hockey, and was pretty sure that he was a better goalie than the Flyer’s backup goalie this year.

He can be painfully shy with people he doesn’t know but he’s being brave and shaking hands and looking people in the eye as we meet a lot of new people in Tennessee.

There’s a lot of food he doesn’t like but he does like some of the strangest things like pesto, cantaloupe, and feta cheese.

He loves crafts.
He likes to be funny and make people laugh. 

Christmas Decorating

On Sunday, we started our Christmas decorating.  Pat pulled all the boxes out of the attic and brought them downstairs.  The kids pulled everything out of the boxes, set them on whatever surface they could find and left the boxes strewn around.  I attempted to make our fake Christmas tree presentable by using zip ties to hold branches in place.  Casey and Jack asked when they could decorate the tree and where the ornaments were about 45 times.  We strung the garland and then it was finally time to decorate!

Actually it was a pretty fun afternoon.  I liked that I could let them pull everything out of boxes and not worry about them breaking things (too much.)  I loved their excitement.  I loved watching them find all their ornaments and remembering when they got them.  I love how quickly they decorate a tree.  I even love their clumps of ornaments on the tree.

The afternoon’s pictures:

Casey never shies from an opportunity to pose.

 Jack waits patiently so he can put the first present under the tree.

Casey helps Daddy under the tree.  He’s turning it to hide the bad spots.  Yes, our fake tree has bad spots.

More smiling and posing.

Pulling all the ornaments out and “staging” them for tree decorating.

Casey’s clump of special ornaments.

Casey’s favorite Cinderella ornament that’s lost its wheels from rough handling over the past two years.  She kept asking who broke it and denied that she would have done that when we told her she did it.

Jack hanging an ornament.

Jack’s turn to put the angel on the tree.

Jack as a human crane.

Almost there.

Casey makes sure the angel looks good.

The End of an Era

Yesterday we took this poster down in Jack’s room.  It’s kind of a sad day for me…the end of the Elmo era.  Elmo has been living on Jack’s closet door since we moved into this house 3 years ago but he’s been around for longer than that.

It’s been coming for a while.  Jack no longer wants to sleep with his super big Elmo that he got when he was 1 1/2.  He doesn’t even want to play with him.  Earlier in the year he gave Casey his very first Elmo, his baby Elmo that he slept with on and off since he was born.  

The first video that Jack ever watched was an Elmo video.  I had never seen Elmo’s World before but I remember after he watched the 3 episodes from his video over and over, I finally realized that they were all the same format.

We had tickets to Elmo Live and it was scheduled very close to my due date.  Just two tickets…I figured only Jack and Daddy would go.  I thought I was going into labor on Friday night, the day before the show.  I think I willed Casey to stay inside until Jack could get to his Elmo show.  I so wanted him to be able to go see Elmo.  It was his first show and he had a great time with his Daddy.  And then he got to meet his new sister the next day. 

Elmo was the first Halloween costume that Jack got to help pick out.

But yesterday we took down the Elmo poster and replaced it with a Star Wars poster.  I think the only hold-over is that sometimes Jack still talks like Elmo, in the 3rd person.  It used to bother me, but now it will probably be a little bittersweet as I remember how much we used to live in Elmo’s World and now we don’t.

So goodbye Elmo.  Thanks for the great memories!

Soccer Season

Jack’s first soccer season has come and gone and I didn’t document it very well.  I think even the poor quality of the pictures I took is evident of my lack of excitement about it all.  Jack, on the other hand, had a great time.  
Jack loved putting on his shin pads and his cleats.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to tie his soccer shoes so he could go out back and practice or how many nights he waited for Daddy to get home to practice with him.  Casey would run out and be the cheerleader.  
He also loved his team practice before the game…especially when they got to play “Kick the Coach.”  He loved the games.  He ran around and had a great time.  He spent most of the first game getting comfortable and then the second game he figured it out and scored his first goal.  He is pretty good at figuring out where the ball is going to be and trying to get there, although when there is a gaggle of kids all chasing the ball, it’s not all that predictable.  
We missed one game a couple weeks ago when we went to Ocean City for the weekend.  We had planned to go to his game and then get on the road.  The forecast was for rain so they moved the game indoors and it wasn’t until 11am.  I told Jack his game was cancelled and that we would just go to Ocean City after breakfast.  This caused Jack a little concern. 
“What about the gym Mommy?  I thought they would have it in the gym if it was raining.  Remember when we had it in the gym that time?  I wonder if there is something wrong with the gym.  Maybe there’s a leak in the gym and the rain is getting in there.  Mommy, do you think there’s a leak in the gym?  Is that why we’re not playing the game?  They’ll have to get some workers to fix the roof.  I wonder if there’s another gym we can go to.”
Okay, okay, okay!  I had to tell the poor boy the truth and tell him that his game was in fact scheduled for the gym and that it was just too late for us to go to his game and Ocean City.  I didn’t want him having nightmares about the poor gym and it’s leaking roof.
Our last game was last week and Jack scored two goals.  He was very excited about it and did a great job in the game.  The kids all got medals at the end of the game.  Jack was sad to see it end but as I mentioned recently, he’s already moved on to roller blading and hockey!  

More Bike Riding Skills to Celebrate

In less than a week of riding his bike without training wheels, Jack looked like he had been doing it for years.  He was riding off curbs, going across the grass, standing up and looking like a pro.  I couldn’t believe how fast he picked it up and how good he got in such a short amount of time.

We have been outdoors every single day since the training wheels were left behind.  Usually, our neighbor and her daughter, T, are out there too.  One of my neighbors thought I had been on a vacation somewhere to get a tan but it’s just been afternoons in the sun watching the kids ride their bikes.

A few days ago, another neighbor mentioned that he thought Casey would be riding without training wheels soon too.  She kept trying to ride on the grass like Jack and T but the training wheels were slowing her down too much.  I kind of shrugged my shoulders and said, “Someday.”  On the day that Jack learned, I let Casey try it out a couple times and she seemed to have no balance.

Now it’s three weeks later.  Casey was playing outside while I was making lunch.  When I got outside, she had pulled Jack’s bike out and told me she was trying to ride it.  She asked if I would help her.  I did, but I was thinking I was just going to hold her up again.

As soon as she got on there, I barely touched her.  She went right down the driveway, circled around both cul-de-sacs and back up the driveway with me just running as close to her as I could.  It blew my mind.  I couldn’t believe she was going to start riding her bike without training wheels at 3 years old!

Later in the afternoon, we took the training wheels off her bike and she hopped on with so much confidence and rode around the cul-de-sacs again much to everyone’s amazement.  10 minutes later she was trying to ride it through the grass and keep up with the 5 year olds!

She’s had her share of spills and she still needs a little help to get going.  The seat is as low as it can go and she can barely touch the ground with her tippy toes.  By the end of today she could stop by herself without falling most of the time.  It’s amazing.  Between watching Jack ride without training wheels and all the riding she’s been doing to keep up with him, she figured out how to keep her balance.

It’s also amazing to see the differences in learning styles between Jack and Casey.  I’ve noticed it before, but this further reinforced what I saw.  Jack spent the first ten minutes without training wheels just riding up and down the driveway very carefully, making no turns and going over no bumps.  When he was comfortable with that, he decided to try to turn.  Then he decided he could do the bump at the end of the driveway.  Casey…she jumps in head first and believes she can do it.  She jumped on that bike and went straight down the driveway over the bump and started turning.

I’m very proud of both of them and their bike skills this past few weeks.  But mostly I can’t believe I have a 3 year old without training wheels!