May

May tends to always be busy, and that was especially true for Clara. The first weekend in May was the RDR finisher’s race. It involved all of the schools in the district who participated and was held at the football stadium. The kids ran their last 1.2 miles to earn their finishers medals. The kids started in waves and made the first lap on the track and then they had a course marked off around the stadium and back in where the finish line was. The kid who crossed the finish line first was in the third wave! You could tell who the runners and “non-runners” were. Clara wasn’t too concerned with her finishing time. She just wanted to stay by her friend Kaneeze :) They pulled some kids aside and asked them a few questions on the loud speaker. The first dozen or so they interviewed said their favorite part was the running. By the midway mark, most of them said being with friends or reading was the best part of Read Deed Run. Ha!

This was the start of the race. Clara is on the inside of the track by her friend, watching what’s happening on the field, not even looking ahead.

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After this weekend was when I came down with some kind of weird stomach bug. I couldn’t stand up without being dizzy and nauseous for about five days and didn’t leave the house that entire time. There was one benefit to my sick time. The science lab teacher had sent me home with some extra caterpillars and enclosure she had left over from her classes. She’s so sweet and knows how much my kids love that kind of stuff. Different grades this year raised butterflies, chicks, frogs, hermit crabs and praying mantis. Robert got to witness his classes chicks as they were hatching. As for our butterflies, they started emerging from their chrysalises while I was couch-bound, so I moved the enclosure right by me and was able to catch three of the four as they emerged. I called the kids over and they saw a couple of them and we got it on video even. It happens fast. Within a few seconds, it’s cracked open and they have their  wings unfurled. It looks like a crime scene once they’re out.

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Around the same time I got sick, Dan and Linda both came down with something different. I got better and got busy on my party planning and preparing for a visit with them and Tim the following weekend. Clara was performing with a district-wide honor choir and they were excited to come see her. Dan and Linda were just getting over their illness when Tim arrived and then he came down with it and spent his entire trip sick. All week we spent waiting and watching to see if their trip here was going to happen. Tim was starting to feel a little better, but in the end they decided not to risk coming and possibly exposing us and traveling would have been pretty taxing on him after being so sick. We were all pretty disappointed :(

The choir was made up of 4th and 5th grade choir students from around the district (3-4 per school) who auditioned earlier in the year. Clara, Phi and Jazlynn represented their school. They practiced at home and the three also practiced together at school quite a bit. Clara attended two evening practices with half of the choir in the spring. This day in May was a culmination of all of their practice and the first time the entire choir was together. They attended a full day choral workshop with a guest conductor from out of state. The day included lots and lots of singing and fun. Some high school choir members performed for them and talked about what it’s like to be in choir in high school and their lunchtime entertainment was provided by a local high school jazz band.

At the end of the day, they performed for all of the parents. I was blown away! They sounded absolutely incredible even after a full day of singing. The guest conductor leads the Birmingham Boys Choir and he was amazing. He spent a lot of time speaking with the kids about character, making good choices and the importance of balance in life. I’m so glad Clara got to be a part of this amazing experience. She’s on the top row, first person on the left.

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The next week, Clara got to go on her RDR end of year field trip to Main Event for a full day of fun. The next day was not so fun. She got two more teeth pulled at the dentist office. At an ortho appointment earlier in the year, the orthodontist didn’t like the way her permanent lower canines were looking in the x-ray. He compared them to an earlier x-ray and it was obvious they had started going astray. They were no longer coming straight up, dissolving the root and pushing out the baby canines. Instead, they were coming up between her baby canines and the teeth next to them. The roots were soooo long! They hadn’t dissolved at all. A day or two of Tylenol and soft food and she was good to go! This should be the last pulling required. I said that last time though, so we shall see. She’s now got three permanent upper teeth she’s waiting on and now these two lowers. Her upper canine that was pulled over 2.5 years ago is still nowhere in sight, but the other canine that was pulled when she had her ankylosed tooth extracted 1.5 years ago has just started peeking through. Yay! This is the first permanent tooth (that had it’s corresponding baby tooth pulled) that’s made an appearance on it’s own, so that’s a relief.

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Clara got an invite to attend a fancy masquerade birthday party for her old friend Brielle which meant she finally had an occasion to wear her masquerade mask that Chris brought back from Rome several years back. I especially like the look in the second pic.

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I wanted to do something for our teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. Since we were basically without a PTA last year, I asked a few other moms that volunteer if they’d like to help me write chalk messages to the teachers and I ended up having a couple moms and kids come join me and the kids. One was especially good at chalk art. You couldn’t quite tell if mine were done by an adult or kid.

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Robert wrote this next message. It’s to the science lab teacher, whose name is misspelled. It says “Your part of our life” at the top. He drew the life cycle of a butterfly and that is a caterpillar at the bottom, not his teacher :)

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The kids begged to go up early to school the next morning so they could see their teacher’s reactions. A lot of teachers were already there when we got there, but some were still coming in. The kids were bubbling over with excitement and some of the teachers thought it was cool and were reading the messages, taking pictures of it and telling the kids thank you. I was surprised to see a number of staff just quickly walk by, some without even glancing down :( I get it. It’s chalk. Not that big of a deal, but I felt bad for the kids.

I also wanted to decorate the bulletin board for teacher appreciation week. The school’s theme last year was “Reach for the stars”, so I went with a space related board. I had Clara design the alien and I asked both kids if they’d like to make some planets for me. Clara brought me two planets- a turquoise and pink polka dot Saturn with chevron ring and “Planet X” which was also brightly colored and covered with ice cream and sprinkles. Robert said he would rather make the Kuiper Belt. My kids rock. After I googled “Kuiper Belt”, I suggested maybe he could make the Earth or the Sun. He wasn’t too happy, but he eventually relented.

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And because I had a few things on my plate those last couple of weeks of school, I just did a little tweaking and voila! End of year countdown bulletin board!

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May also included Chris chaperoning the 1st grade field trip to the zoo, teacher appreciation breakfast and lunch, workers doing ceiling, kitchen and powder room prepping, patching and painting, 5th grade scavenger hunt at the junior high, orchestra meeting, volunteer breakfast and end of year events I already blogged about. Whew!

Next Up–April

This is like Christmas in June. I’m spoiling y’all!

Justin’s birthday party was the day after Robert got his ear infection diagnosis. He actually felt ok, but he kept having those coughing fits, so we decided he probably shouldn’t be hacking all over the party guests and we’d be almost an hour away from home if he did. Chris stayed home with him while Clara and I headed up to Spring. The newest Decarlo is the spitting image of his big brother. Clara helped keep him corralled for Danielle since he didn’t want to miss out on any of the action.

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Here’s a comparison pic. Travis is a year older here. Awww, weren’t they cute?

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It was a good thing Robert didn’t come. Before I got home, Chris called and said he was having a coughing fit and couldn’t catch his breath. He had thrown up everywhere and just could not get it under control. It wasn’t a productive cough at all. I got him into the bathroom and started the steam. I gave him a cough suppressant but he just threw it right back up. I ended up getting a syringe and giving him just a tiny bit when it slowed and he could catch his breath and then waited a minute before giving him more. It took about 20 minutes, but it stayed down.

I felt so bad for him. It was getting really late and he just wanted to sleep, but it still wasn’t slowing much. In between coughs he asked me “Am I going to die?” :( Poor guy. If he hadn’t stopped soon after, we probably would have taken him in, but the cough eventually started to subside and he was able to get a good night’s sleep. He was back to school on Monday, but fell asleep on the bus ride home. He got in trouble at school and fell asleep early on the couch the first half of the week. It really wiped him out.

I took on another project and cleaned the shower tile with an acidic cleaner that eats away all of the hard water deposits, leaving it smooth as glass, as well as re-caulked. It was not as easy a task as I had envisioned. (Is it ever?) There was crumbling grout behind a lot of the caulk, so not only did that make it harder to remove, but then I had to remove the loose grout as well. In the end though, I’m happy with the lovely bright white.

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Chris has made friends with a man at church that is a car aficionado and he told him how much Robert loves cars, so one night after church, he let Robert sit in his cool car. I don’t know what it is. BMW something or other, maybe?

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We went to Temple for Easter weekend.

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Saturday night before bed, the Easter bunny’s assistants had convened to discuss the gameplan for distributing each of their batches of eggs on Sunday. It was decided to wait until after church to hide eggs outside while lunch was being prepared. Well, during the night, an impostor entered the home and left eggs all over the house. Neither of the bunny’s true assistants said anything but both were wondering, “What the heck? Didn’t we just talk about this?” The reason I know this was an impostor is because the eggs contained Hot Tamales (which the kids hate, but which look a lot like red Mike and Ike’s that were intermingled in the eggs) and also Jelly Belly beanboozled flavored jelly beans. I didn’t realize this until I got what I believe to be a mouthful of dog food flavored jelly bean. Linda found eggs hidden in random places for days after we left, including in her purse.

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I just took a picture of a worksheet Robert brought home one day because I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn the term “oviparous” or “non-oviparous” in first grade. In fact, I think I learned the two new words that day.

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The kids had their field days at the end of the month. Clara and other RDR members got to help with the two sessions for the younger grades, so she enjoyed missing almost two full days of class between her own field day and the other two sessions. She was “working” the hula hoop station during this session. And that’s the only picture I took because I was busy helping pass out snacks the rest of the time.

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Robert fell off of his bike about five times over the course of a few days. He got back up pretty quickly with minimal tears each time, even this time when he hit his lip and almost busted it.
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I’m going to get in trouble for posting this next picture. We’ve decided to finish out one of our attics. It already has a full size door going into it, so we’re adding flooring and insulation and it will have an area for storage, as well as a space for Chris to spread out his hobbies. We had worked on it over the course of a month, and as he was laying down the second to last piece of plywood, he stood up fast and hit his head hard on the rafter above, falling off the plywood, one leg in the garage. We just added it to the quote the drywall/painter guy gave us, so no biggie. :)

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The science lab teacher had asked me several months back if I would help chaperone the 5th grade field trip to the Museum of Natural Science. The district changed chaperone rules this year and official chaperones must ride the bus with the group. I don’t want to re-live all the gory details, but suffice it to say, I was traumatized for a week. Some of the kids were awful, even after getting a huge lecture before leaving the school. We were late getting off (b/c of lecture) and then hit traffic, so we got to the museum an hour late, having missed our scheduled IMAX movie. Everything had to be re-arranged and we never did really get things under control. It was awful. One boy got in trouble and ended up having to sit on the bus with the principal the entire time. In the end, we watched a different IMAX about the Galapagos and the kids did calm down and enjoy that thankfully, so I was able to calm down and breathe for almost an hour. I think a lot of them had never seen a 3D movie. We also watched a film in the planetarium. We only had a short amount of time between the two, so we had to scrap the initial plans of splitting into groups and ended up just winding our way through the dinosaur exhibit quickly in one long line of 130 kids and then had to eat lunch out front quickly before getting back on the buses. No pictures because I was trying not to flip out on kids the entire time. :)

March

The last week of February, first week of March, was literacy week at school. They borrowed my awesome corgi knee high socks and wore matching, mismatched socks for Fox in Socks Day. For Cat in the Hat Day, Clara donned this dragon hat, proving without a doubt the unwavering self-confidence she possesses. :) They also had their storybook parade, but I didn’t get pictures. Clara wore her Athena costume and I cut up a t-shirt and added some red fabric paint to the edges so he could be a boy from “I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1917”. He pulled his arm inside his shirt for the parade so it looked like it had been bitten off. It may have been a tad inappropriate for school. Ha!

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We tried out a hibachi grill nearby for the first time for my birthday. I don’t think Robert had ever been to one. He loved it and said it’s his favorite now.

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I was so excited about getting the wallpaper off the powder room walls that I jumped head first into the kitchen. I just love having loads of unfinished projects piling up!

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Around this time, our roofer sent someone out a few times to repair a couple of leaks in the ceiling. We then had to wait for a hard rain to make sure the repair worked. And then one of the repairs near the chimney again started leaking, so they came out again. They hadn’t replaced a rotted piece of wood against the chimney, so they did that and then caulked all of the siding around the chimney. Waited for another storm….. Then they sent someone out to make the ceiling repair. While he was here, I got quotes for texturing my walls and painting in the living room/entry since the walls are too high for me.

The painter had another long job already lined up, so it wasn’t until the beginning of May when he was able to come back out. He patched the spots on the ceiling and thankfully the roofer decided to repaint the entire ceiling for us! So they did that as well. They started on the kitchen and powder room walls as well. He had another job lined up after that and was supposed to call back a couple of weeks ago, but I still haven’t heard from him. I wasn’t too worried about it though since I’ve been so busy with end of school stuff. Anyway, that’s why these rooms are still works in progress.

We usually go camping during spring break, but we decided to stay home this year. Chris was leaving for Rio at the end of spring break and since someone always gets sick because of the allergies at that time of year, we thought we shouldn’t risk it. We hung out with the Couringtons at their new house one night, celebrated Chris’s birthday, went and saw the Lego Batman movie and Chris worked half days and worked on extending our fence that whole week. Our neighbor has been asking if we would mind extending it and we were good with that because that would put our pool equipment in the backyard. Plus, a storm in February had left that portion leaning and the gate would hardly close, so we needed to repair it anyway. Robert was a good helper.

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I don’t think I took on any projects while he was in Rio. Maybe because he was only gone a few days, but also, I might have been in trouble if I had added another unfinished project to the pile. :) Chris’ trips were pretty short, but he managed to miss math/science night, the glow run and Clara’s last school choir performance, which was at the end of March.

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Once Chris got back, we got the pool cleaned up and the kids had their inaugural swim.

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That last week was STAAR testing for Clara. Robert ended up getting sick that week. After her first test on Tuesday, they swam after school. Robert was complaining a little and acting a little sick and I wondered if he was coming down with something. He woke Wednesday morning and said he didn’t feel very good, but he was showing no symptoms. He was running around laughing and playing so I thought he just didn’t want to go since it’s pretty miserable during STAAR for the entire school. Felt pretty awful when he got off the bus and looked miserable. Took his temperature and he was running a fever. This boy has been to the nurses office too many times to count but when he’s justifiably sick? Nope. Just suffered through the day without telling anyone. :( I emailed his teacher and she felt bad too. She said he was more quiet than usual but didn’t suspect that he was sick either.

He really didn’t have many symptoms except for the fever. It wasn’t even that high and he wasn’t miserable, so I didn’t even treat it. He eventually developed a cough, so he did get some meds for that at night when he had coughing fits. I finally took him in to the CVS clinic on Friday morning. Mind you, this was less than 48 hours after taking his temp after school on Wednesday. The pa gave me a really hard time and couldn’t believe I didn’t treat the fever that went that long. I told her I only treat them when they’re feeling miserable and can’t rest. Otherwise, I let them do their job. She eased up a bit when I said I had given him cough meds. I guess she thought I was a crunchy mama who refused to medicate? I don’t know. Turns out he had an ear infection in one ear. He hadn’t had any pain, but he winced when she shoved it so deep in his ear and she just kept moving it around, pulling on his ear. I just about stopped her because it was obviously hurting him. I haven’t seen anyone be so rough with an ear check. She said it was ruptured and I’m pretty sure she did it. She asked him if it hurt and he said yes. I asked him later and he said it didn’t start hurting until she shoved the otoscope in his ear. :( I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I’m not entirely convinced that wasn’t done to teach me a parenting lesson.

Moving Right Along– February

RDR has a fundraiser each year that they call the Glow Run and the kids make posters to hang all over the school to promote it. Lauren came over one afternoon to help finish one they were working on. I was in the hallway one morning right after they hung it and overheard some kids saying it was the best one. The glitter put it over the top. That was my idea 😉 I did have to stop them from glittering the entire thing though.

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I never posted it, but Clara had one of her pieces of writing featured in the school’s writing gallery back in the fall. I can’t even remember what it was about. I’m assuming an owl was written in there somewhere. I know, I’m terrible. Parents of the winners come up a few minutes before school starts to see them receive their award from their teacher in the hallway in front of the gallery. The teachers tell a little bit about why their piece was selected from the entire grade and the kids read their work for everyone.

Just like what happened with the POD awards, Robert was devastated that he didn’t win the writing gallery award. He was angry and couldn’t understand why he didn’t win. The 1st grader who won was in his kinder class last year and I think that stung a bit since he knew her. The girl’s handwriting was impeccable and her drawings that accompanied the writing were very detailed and colored in nicely. I explained to Robert that he hates writing. I have to stay on him to come up with a few sentences of writing homework he has each week and he rushes through it without even thinking, doing the bare minimum. He forgets punctuation and capitalization and doesn’t understand why he needs to correct his “Ss” when he writes them backwards. He hates drawing pictures to go with his writing and his handwriting is atrocious. There is no way that he deserved that award more than her and I told him that. I said he would have to step up his writing game if he wanted to win that award. I saw this look in his eyes and I thought to myself, “By golly, he’s going to get that award next time.” I can’t explain it, but I was sure of it.

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So February rolls around, and would you look at who won the writing gallery award for 1st grade. :) He is unbelievable. When his teacher called to tell me, I couldn’t help but shake my head and laugh. Of course he won it. To be fair though, the first grade assignment this time didn’t require too much in the way of writing. It was an acrostic of his name. R-Responsible, O-Organized, B-Brave, E-Energetic, R-Relaxed, T-Trusting. I think Obstinate, Bullheaded and Tenacious would have worked as well.

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I heard him telling Clara what his self-portrait looked like that he did in art class, so one day when I was walking through the halls I spied this magnificent piece of art and knew it was Robert’s.  :)

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He lost his 2nd tooth some time in February I guess. The pic was on my phone. Don’t remember it at all. Just know I didn’t throw this one away. Oh wait, I remember now! I heard him get up the next morning to go to the bathroom and panicked because I had fallen down on the job. I ran to find some cash, ran upstairs and threw it under his pillow, hoping he hadn’t looked yet, and then high-tailed it back downstairs. Fun times. He had written a note asking the tooth fairy if he could keep his tooth and get some cash, so I didn’t have to go searching for it.

He figured out the Santa thing right before Christmas, so I had assumed the gig was up with the toothfairy too, but he hadn’t mentioned anything. And then, right before bed he was talking about the toothfairy and I saw a lightbulb go off. He asked if I was the toothfairy. I don’t remember how, but I evaded the question or acted like I didn’t hear him or something. He didn’t ask again, so I think he decided that maybe he didn’t need to know. I was good with that.

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I was in the workroom on Valentine’s Day when I heard a sing-a-gram being delivered to staff in the conference room next door, so I snapped a quick picture of Clara with her choir friends. They have so much fun doing this. I saw them catch the asst. principal in the hallway and stop her to sing “Skidamarink” and then they ran off to deliver the rest.

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This whole year has been rough for Clara and her allergies. Some days she has been absolutely miserable. I ended up leaving Benadryl in the nurses office and she would call me and ask if I’d like her to take it. That was part of the reason for her struggles in class this semester. More than once she brought home a paper or test that she got a failing grade on and every time she said it was because she had a bad headache or was an itchy, sneezing, plugged up mess. She would leave the house just fine most days and by 9:00 was miserable. I started to think it was something in her classroom. Especially when she looked like this. She went to the nurses office before 9:00. I was at the school, so she called me in to take a look. Her eye did not look like this when she left the house an hour before. I was crazy. It doesn’t even look like her. I brought her home early one day and Chris took meds up one day when the nurse couldn’t reach me. This is when I filled out the forms to leave the Benadryl. Sometimes it helped, other times didn’t do a thing.

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Around this time, I ordered allergy drops specifically formulated for Texas trees, weeds and grasses that go under the tongue. It helped almost immediately. Only problem is it wears off after a few hours. For a week or so when she was dealing with this eye stuff and major nasal congestion and sinus pressure, I started giving her allergy eye drops and a decongestant before school and then checking in on her and giving her another dose when she went to lunch. When the drops came in the mail, I gave her just a couple for her first dose to make sure she didn’t have a reaction. The next morning, I gave her a few drops along with the decongestant. I went up to the school at lunch time to drop of Puffs Plus and a small tube of eucerin for her nose because it had gotten so chapped it was about to bleed. I kid you not, I walked in to the cafeteria, she ran over smiling and said she didn’t need the medicine or kleenex! No runny nose, no rings under her eyes, nothing! Her eyes and face looked clearer and happier than they had in weeks. I was amazed. I told her it was the drops. She refused to believe it at first and fought me on it because she hates the taste. In the end though, feeling human again won out, so she grudgingly took them each morning for the next couple of months. We had also removed dairy from her diet a few weeks before this to see if maybe that was the culprit. She was waking with stomach aches every single morning and wasn’t eating breakfast, but she would feel better by about 9:00. After some reading, it sounded like it might be stress related, so I thought it might have been because of STAAR testing or something else. She assured me that she wasn’t feeling stressed out about anything. Now that I think about it though, it may have been. I just realized she’s been eating better these last few weeks since STAAR testing is over. Hmmm, I’ll need to mull that over a bit.

Moving right along. Chris went to Calgary for a few days at the end of February and I went and got myself in trouble again and had a nice surprise for Chris when he returned. This time I peeled off the horrid wallpaper in my powder room that has been mocking me every time I’ve entered these past two years. Seriously, I’m like a toddler. Chris can’t turn his back on me for one second. He was only gone for three days, so I didn’t even attempt to finish it up. He couldn’t be mad at me because he was coming home on my birthday. :) I would show you an after, but it’s not done yet. Someday maybe.

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And here’s a picture from Clara’s glow run. She stayed after school and put together the balloon arch you see in the background and helped with registering the runners before the race.

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I only got one picture of Robert and his friend Aldin at the starting line. Clara was off doing her thing, so I didn’t even see her until after it was over. It’s so nice that she’s old enough to not have to worry about her and to know that I can just go find her when it’s time to leave. Not quite there with this one, but he’s getting closer.

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Rewinding– January

I haven’t taken many pictures this year, so it’s difficult for me to remember what all we’ve done. We rang in the new year with Chris still down with an infection after getting hit hard by the cedar during our post-Christmas camping trip at Inks Lake. We had planned on spending the evening with the Decarlos, but instead, we laid low. I think I remember the kids and I went up the next afternoon to join the Decarlos for lunch after church, but my memory is terrible! If I didn’t take pictures, I can’t remember! He still wasn’t 100% by the next weekend, so I flew solo to my cousin Brent’s wedding outside of La Grange. It was an outdoor wedding and reception and it was freezing cold, so we didn’t want him to have a relapse. I’m glad I went by myself because the kids would have been miserable and complained the entire time. I got to see my aunts and uncles and a few cousins I hadn’t seen in a while, so that was nice.

The following weekend, Chris and I attended a marriage retreat put on by our church at a resort on Lake Conroe. We met Dan and Linda for dinner in College Station so they could take the kids for the weekend. It was a long weekend, so they got an extra day with them.

Near the end of the month, Chris traveled to Rome for a couple of weeks for work. While he was away, the kids had math/science night at school. A local high school robotics team brought their remote controlled ball throwing robots to show the kids. They would scoop them up and then throw them back to the kids. They loved it. They also had a scientist doing cool experiments for the kids and a discovery dome from the museum. The line was really long though, so we never got to see inside of it.

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Robert made a house out of Dots and toothpicks. The goal was to build a structure that could withstand being blown down by the Big Bad Wolf.

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And they also got to build with these huge legos. Robert made a couch. Clara made Pandora’s Box, because of course she did. Still loves her Greek mythology. These legos were a bit of a pain for me though. The math/science instructional coach was in charge of the event and she was really overwhelmed as the event got closer. I was helping her out making copies, cutting, things like that. She was going to be borrowing these from another school in the district, but the school is clear across town and she was panicking trying to figure out when and how she was going to get them in time. I offered to drive the 30 minutes to get them, loaded them up myself and then unloaded at the school. These things filled up the entire back of the land rover! There is no way she would’ve been able to get them all in her car. Several weeks later I saw they were still in her office, so I took them back for her too :)

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That Saturday night around 9:00 p.m., I was lamenting the fact that I hadn’t really accomplished anything, so I said, “I’m going to clean one room in the house from top to bottom so I’ll feel accomplished.” Yes, that’s all it takes for me to feel productive. Fast forward fifteen minutes and somehow this happened.

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I decided to keep it a secret until he got home 😉 That would be thermafoil laminate that covers all of the cabinets in our house. It’s peeling in lots of places where you grab to open the doors and drawers since there are no knobs. I had been doing some online research to see if it would be possible to repaint them. They’re mdf, but are in fine condition. New cabinetry would have been such a huge waste, not to mention massively expensive, but they definitely needed a facelift after 18 years. I knew I wanted to experiment on the bathroom cabinets before undertaking the kitchen, but I just hadn’t been able to convince myself to start peeling. I just needed to be left unsupervised for a bit to get the ball rolling. It peels right off and there’s not even any glue to remove except for a bit on the edges.

Since it’s mdf, I made sure to use an oil based primer and I used cabinet paint to get good, even coverage. I wanted to do it right, so I removed doors, sanded the boxes, primed and painted the insides, the boxes, drawers, everything. By the time Chris got home, I wasn’t anywhere near being finished. Oopsie. May have been a bigger (and dustier) job than I anticipated.

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Here are some before and afters. You’ll notice a big grease or cleaner spot that had eaten through the top layer of the cabinet floor there in the corner, but now it looks good as new!

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And there were lots of spots where the paint had peeled and the previous owner had done a poor touch up job. I bought knobs so hopefully that will keep from damaging the paint job as much. The cabinet paint includes some type of urethane or acrylic or something that is supposed to help prevent chipping. I put 2-3 coats of primer and 3-4 coats of paint on all of the doors and boxes. It took for-ever! It looks so nice though. I just hope it holds up. It’s been four months now, and so far, so good.

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Here is the inside of one of the drawers with a bunch of chipped spots. After painting everything, I put heavy duty shelf liner down to hopefully keep things looking nice and new for a long time to come.

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While I was knee deep in my impromptu home improvement project trying desperately to get it done before Chris got home, I had stopped in the drive-thru at Chick fil one afternoon when my mom called to tell me my Aunt June had passed away :( She had been sick for some time and had been in and out of the hospital, but it was still a shock. As soon as I hung up with my mom, warning lights on my dashboard started flashing, there was beeping, my ac went haywire and my suspension was making weird noises. Tire pressure, seatbelt, overheating lights, everything was going crazy. I pulled into a spot to gather my thoughts. I didn’t know what was going on so I quickly turned it off. Went to turn it back on and it wouldn’t turn over. I skyped Chris in Rome to ask him what I should do. He called his co-worker Scott to come rescue me :) In his nice work clothes. Long story short, we eventually got it home (barely), it sat in the driveway until Chris got home while I drove the Jeep.

Chris came home to a half finished project, we were a one car family for a week while Chris tried to figure out what might be wrong with the land rover. I was taking him to work one morning in the Jeep when he said the brakes felt really squishy. We stopped at the auto parts store and he added some brake fluid. That leaked all out onto the ground below :( We pulled into a brake shop a block or so down the street and were officially car-less. Chris called his co-worker Vance to come pick us up and take me home. Got it back that evening and got the land rover in to the shop the next day. I think we shelled out about 2k that weekend on car repairs. :(

School’s Out for Summer!!

This was yesterday at 12:40 and I’ve already threatened them with boarding school. Is it August yet?

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Well, this in new. More of that public school influence. :) I just googled it to make sure he wasn’t throwing up gang signs or something (I’m also so white) and here’s what it means according to Urban Dictionary–

The act of putting up the peace sign with both hands while simultaneously crossing both arms. Also used to signal that you are leaving the premises.
1. My closest bromigo and I wanted a rad picture together, so we decided to throw up the double dukes.

2. I had to dip from the party, so I chucked up the double dukes and left.

I guess I can be ok with that. :)

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And this is the state of my front rooms after party and school desk-clean out.

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Robert Wraps Up 1st

At a campus meeting sometime this year, I expressed my frustration with the end of year “Celebrations of Learning”. I explained how pointless I think they are and what a waste of time I believe them to be to sit there for an hour and half to just have the kids walk across the stage and receive an envelope with their name on it. The gym is unusable for almost two weeks as it’s set up to accommodate 8 different assemblies and the admin and specials teachers are pulled from their normal duties into each assembly as well. I said it a nicely. I think. :) And since I’m usually one of the only parents to come to any parent/school meeting, I’m listened to quite often. They beg for parent feedback, so I give it to them. Myself and another mom got kinder homework to be optional last year when we argued that five year old boys don’t need more sit down work to do when they get home from school. They added a second recess for K and 1st this year after I expressed concern about how little free play time they have, and even the 5th graders started going out to the playground first thing in the morning before they went to specials. The teachers know they need more activity, but it takes parents standing up a lot of times to get things like that changed.

And this year, celebrations of learning for the younger grades were held in their classrooms. Woohoo! I’m sure some parents hated it, but I much preferred a shorter, more intimate setting to a long drawn out ordeal in the gym. Robert’s teacher gave out personalized awards to each of the kids. She read the name of the award and had the kids guess who might be the winner before she announced it. Robert received the Worm Award for always having his nose in a good book and the Owl Award for always sharing tidbits of knowledge with his friends. (He gets that from his grandpa) 😉 The kids got a cupcake and watched a slideshow the teacher had prepared. They loved getting to look back at their year. They sang a song for us and we watched them dance to a couple of Go Noodle songs on the smart board. Go Noodle is what they do for indoor recess and “brain breaks” during the day to get the blood pumping. Robert was really shy and wouldn’t dance at first. He kept looking back at me and smiling but the music must’ve gotten to him, because he busted out some moves that I’ve never seen before! It was hilarious and I was able to get some of it on video. He is so very white.

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Robert had a great 1st grade year. He loved his teacher, had lots of friends, learned a lot about dealing with difficult people (ahem) and showing empathy, and his reading and curiosity has just continued to skyrocket. A diverse Title I public school classroom is chock full of real world learning opportunities, let me tell you. :) I’ll be honest, I’m frustrated at times with the environment and think a more affluent school would be a nice break, but I also believe it’s so good for them and there are wonderful teachers and staff here. There are also a lot of benefits that come with Title I funding that all of the students benefit from. We’ll continue to re-evaluate each year. If we ever feel it’s gotten too bad, we’ll be looking at alternatives, but for now, we’re happy, I’m involved, and the kids feel secure. My plan is to continue to be involved and to effect change where I can to help make it a more positive environment.

2nd grade, here we come!

5th Grade End of Year Party

A couple of months back, 5th graders came home with flyers asking for parent volunteers to be on a planning committee for the kids’ end of year party. Fifth grade is the only grade that gets such a party, so the kids really look forward to it. About 10 people said they’d be on the committee. Beginning of May rolls around (less than a month before the party) and we have our first meeting. I was the only parent to show up. We don’t have a functioning PTA this year and staff is too swamped with end of year stuff to put on a big party. Sooooooo, unless we wanted to scrap the party and just have ice cream in their classrooms, I had to take it over. It was me, an asst. principal and two 5th grade teachers at the meeting. The 5th grade student council had decided on what they’d like to do, so we went over a few ideas for the party.

I sent out an email to everyone informing them that I was the only one to show and so I would coordinate. I made it very clear that I didn’t actually want the job, am terrible at planning, had never planned a party in my life and would gladly hand it over to any interested party :) No one took me up on my offer. A few were apologetic and asked if we could meet again, so we set a date a week later because having a closed campus due to STAAR testing got in the way. I was the only one who knew what was going on and then I went and got sick and couldn’t attend. Grrrrr. So I sent them my notes and the few that showed came up with other ideas. It was so frustrating trying to get on the same page. I begged for feedback or for someone to take on a portion of the party, but everyone just kept saying that they’d “help”. Needless to say, these last few weeks have been quite frustrating for me. In the end, only about 3 or 4 people helped with any of the planning or prep involved. The rest never even replied back to me. One mom shared plenty of criticism with me and others for how badly this party was being organized and how horrible the school is. Some were under the impression that it was a dance and weren’t happy that we didn’t hire a DJ. Even when told that the party ideas came from the kids themselves, this mom was still was upset. Apparently the 8th grade has a fantastic PTA that goes all out for their dance. Ok fine, but why should we force a dance on 11 year olds that said they don’t want a dance? Mind boggling.

Ok, rant over (mostly). The kids decided they wanted a glow in the dark themed party. They wanted to play games, including ping pong and Just Dance on the Wii. They wanted blacklights, fog machines and disco balls and wanted to paint t-shirts for the party with glow in the dark paint. We added glow in the dark bowling, face painting, a photo booth, posters with the class pictures to have signed by classmates, Twister and sno cones, popcorn and cupcakes.

No one wanted to take on decorations, so we just bought a few glow in the dark stars and balloons and I made this poster the night before. The stage was supposed to be completely dark for glow bowling and we had borrowed a couple of blacklights so they could come on stage and hang out for a bit and see themselves glowing. I put two volunteers up there to keep the kids under control and to only let a handful up at a time. Well, a few minutes into the party, I saw the lights come on and turns out some kids were throwing the softball too hard for bowling. They’d hit the volunteer twice and then hit a blacklight and broke it. I had borrowed it from a teacher and feel terrible. So what I thought would be a highlight of the party for the kids, being able to hangout under the blacklights, got axed :(
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We had lots of prizes to be given away as drawings and the kids hovered around the prize table like vultures. I had to guard it like a hawk and send them away the whole time. In hindsight, I should have had someone stationed there, because I couldn’t check on everyone during the party without grabbing an adult to stand guard for a minute. I incorrectly assumed that my other party planning volunteers could figure out if there was a problem and fix it. I was totally overwhelmed at that point, so I was counting on everyone to do their part. I had lots of parent volunteers but no body takes any initiative. They only want to be told exactly what to do. There were even parents who said they were unable to volunteer but would be at the party, but they couldn’t be bothered to pitch in when there was a problem. I probably could have prevented the blacklight fiasco if I had seen they were getting rowdy. Chris took the pictures for the photo booth. Halfway through the party, some kids found the table with photo booth props 20 ft. away and asked if they could move it closer. My few set-up volunteers hadn’t moved the table near the backdrop and Chris didn’t even know they existed. I’m like, “Come on people! Work with me!” Then my class picture volunteer forgot to tell the kids to sign the posters for their teachers and to bring their posters back when they were done so they didn’t get messed up, so the kids carried them around the whole time and I saw them laying around, getting stepped on. Rant #2 over.

I didn’t get many pictures (see above rant) and because it was so dark in the gym. Here is Clara and Ivonne playing the game where you see who can get the most cotton balls from a bowl on your head and into the bowl on your lap with a spoon in 30 seconds.

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Chris’ friend Scott let us borrow his party disco light. It was huge and sat on top of a speaker. We just plugged in a laptop and played kids bop songs. The kids started requesting songs from the asst. principal, so she ended up being my impromptu dj. They wanted a few line dances and had lots of fun doing that as a group. One of the teachers even joined in a couple of the dances.

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Clara and Kaneeze plopped down for a rest in front of the prize table, so I was able to snap a quick pic.

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The person who said they’d decorate for the photo booth was unable to, so about 15 minutes before party time, people were running to the workroom and grabbing paper to slap over the window. Sigh. Oh well. I couldn’t do every single thing and my party volunteers were showing up and asking where to go and what to do, so I just had to lower my expectations a bit and go with the flow.

Here’s before and after finding the photo booth props. Ha!

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And having a bit of fun with her blinking ring.

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Chris took this pic of the party light across the gym. That thing filled up the entire gym ceiling. It was so cool and I’m glad we were able to borrow it and even more glad that we didn’t break it :)

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In the end, despite the hiccups and headaches, I’m glad I took it on. I do NOT want to be in charge of something that large again any time soon though! Ha! It felt completely out of control, but I have gotten countless compliments on how well organized it was, how age appropriate the activities were, and how much fun the kids had. The teachers and staff who came in told me it was the best party they’ve had at least in the years they had been there. Even people who didn’t come in to the gym were telling me they heard how great it was and kids were thanking me in the hallways :) I aim to please.

Saying Goodbye to Elementary

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged that I forgot my username. We’re just going to pretend I haven’t slacked off for half the year.

The kids’ last day of school was today. It’s been a busy, busy couple of weeks around here as the school year has been wrapping up. Anyone that’s read my blog for any length of time knows how much I’ve loathed the end of year celebrations at the kids’ school because no one actually receives an award and it’s such a waste of time. Well, I’m happy to report that fifth graders get an actual, real life awards assembly. I can get behind an end-of-elementary awards assembly. The 5th grade pep squad members performed and the choir came onstage to lead the entire grade in a couple of songs. They also had a performance by the “Cha Cha Roaches” (an elite group of 5 boys in the Orff ensemble that basically put together (and obviously named) their own group, wrote their own music and bugged the crud out of the music teacher all year long by never leaving her room. Ha!) They’ve been featured all spring at various events. The principal is so proper and old fashioned though, that she could never bring herself to introduce them as the “Cha Cha roaches”. A group of four girls wanted in on the attention and convinced the assistant principal to let them sing a quartet as well.

For most of the awards, the kids’ names were called and they just stood at their seat and faced the parents to be recognized. The one award that the kids came up front to receive was the Presidential Award. Six of them received it this year, including Clara. I’m so proud of how hard she works. The rigor definitely ramped up this year as the state has pushed standards down to lower grade levels and she struggled here and there. I’m a wee bit nervous about her keeping up in junior high. She will be in Pre-AP reading, language and math. Pre-AP math does work above grade level so that the kids can take algebra in 8th grade. Good thing she has a live-in math tutor :) The other two subjects cover the same grade level standards as the regular classes, just different reading requirements, instruction and assignments I think. She’ll have no problem keeping up with required reading. She decided against Pre-AP science and social studies, so hopefully that will keep her from burning out. Sorry, got off topic there :)

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Two students from each class were awarded best girl and boy student in art, music and PE. I guess the teachers had a tough time choosing in a few classes, so an extra student or two was named a few times. Clara got the music and art one for her class. I was a bit surprised she got the art one but not at all surprised she didn’t get it for PE :) She got hit in the face with balls and went to the nurses’ office probably a dozen times or more this year, once by the coach during dodge ball. Hey, we all have our strengths. She also had perfect attendance, all S’s for behavior and all As this year. That one surprised me because she brought home a couple of Bs on her report cards this year. Maybe they average the grades for the year? She was also recognized for being in choir, being a Leader in the Library and being one of three students from their school that were in the district-wide elementary honor choir. They still did the call-every-students’-name-to-walk-across-the-stage thing, but I didn’t mind so much this time. It just takes for-ever and people start getting restless and start talking by the fourth or fifth class when their student’s already gone.

At the end, the choir kids came onstage to lead everyone in singing “Possibilities”. Clara was at a microphone front and center with her friends Ivonne and Ivette. They were doing hand movements and I looked around and saw that they were the only ones doing them. I thought they had just made them up and was a little embarrassed that Clara was just doing her own thang up there. I asked her afterwards and she said everyone was supposed to do them. Ha! I love that they had absolutely no qualms about being the only ones. They were smiling at each other, enjoying every minute. After that song, they sang their school song, complete with hand movements. (Everyone joined in on that one.) They were all looking around at all of their friends, smiles plastered across their faces. You guys know me. I’m not normally a sentimental person, but that one hit me in the feels. I may have had a tear in my eye. Their last time to sing their school song together. Sigh.

We had a few minutes to take pictures after the assembly was over. The principal announced her retirement about a month ago after being in education for 45 years. Every time she’s mentioned her retirement in front of a group, she’s gotten choked up. Her final awards assembly was no different and she held back tears as she started the assembly. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the assistant principal on the left, so I was sad to hear last week that she is moving to a different position in another school next year :( There’s going to be lots of changes around here next year.

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Here she is with Ivonne and Ivette. Don’t ask me which is which. They still dress alike and wear their hair the same. Clara says you can tell them apart because one has pink on the inside of her glasses and the other one doesn’t, like it’s that simple. I just call them “Ivonne or Ivette”.

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Here she is with her ELA teacher. She had tears streaming down her face at the end of the assembly, sad to see her students moving on. She is so sweet and has been wonderful. She has lived all over the world and brings so much passion into the classroom. Clara’s writing assignments would come home with long critiques about ways to improve her writing, but she also included a great deal of positive feedback. She’s convinced Clara that she should publish a book someday and the students have been excitedly working together on puppet shows the last couple of months, performing them for the younger grades. She really does try her best to work around all of the constraints that have been placed on her due to standardized testing.

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This is one of her best friends, Kaneeze. She’s from Pakistan and is very sweet and reserved. They became close last year when they were in class together.

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And this is Phi. He was in Clara’s class and was also in the honor choir. He’s a cutie and so is his mom. They’re Vietnamese and his mom is not very fluent in English, but she wanted to get a picture of them together. They look so awkward. I love it :)

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This is her homeroom/math and science teacher.

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Here she is with Lauren and their friend Emily. They made up half of the quartet that sang during the assembly. Clara and Lauren have become really good friends since her family lives right around the corner from us. But not for long. They’re moving :( I really want Clara to have strong friendships with kind, confident girls in junior high, and Lauren is a sweetheart, so I’m sad to see her go.

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It’s hard to believe I have a kid in junior high! I can already tell I’m going to be a mess at high school graduation here in a few years. How did this happen so quickly? Wasn’t the first day of kindergarten just yesterday? I want my babies back!

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Judd Family Christmas Vacation- Part 4

We wanted to leave Pecos really early on Monday, but we ended up sleeping in a little. I had meant to raid my parent’s pantry Sunday night and grab cereal so we could just eat a quick breakfast before hitting the road, but I forgot. So, it was almost 9:00 when we pulled into McDonalds on the way out of town. The kids sat down as we were ordering and then Clara ran back up to tell us she found Pawpaw :) He was at the table next to them having coffee with a neighbor. So he sat and chatted with us as we finished up our breakfast.

Chris was feeling ok when we left and we had a long, 5.5 hour drive that day to our final stop at Inks Lake State Park near Austin. As we got closer, he started feeling worse and worse. By that evening, he felt terrible and didn’t sleep much at all he was so congested, blowing his nose non-stop with a killer sore throat. Turns out juniper was through the roof there and I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s highly allergic to juniper.

I headed into town the next morning to get meds and kleenex. Unfortunately they didn’t seem to help much. He was a trooper though and managed to hang out when Dan and Linda arrived for our belated Christmas celebration around lunchtime. Linda graciously offered to bring out an entire Christmas dinner so we had roast with all the fixins and pasta salad and green bean casserole of course with apple crisp for dessert. We had lunch right away before everything got cold.

Before Dan and Linda arrived, the kids were and trying out a couple of their gifts they got in Pecos, including their rc cars. Robert got a pogo stick and Clara got stilts. She was doing pretty good on them after a few minutes. Robert couldn’t quite get the hang of his pogo stick though so after falling off one time, he angrily told me that he wanted me to throw it in a lake of lava :)

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After our yummy lunch, we opened gifts. It was a beautiful day, minus the juniper.

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Several months back I had the idea of painting these little wooden dolls for the kids when they first started watching Gilligan’s Island. They were making scenes out of legos and making mini figures to resemble the characters so I thought they’d really like these. I let Linda in on my idea and asked if she’d like to make them since she’s a painter and all and she said yes :) They turned out so cute and the kids love them.

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This is his “Why?” face. He loves his big Why? book he got from Uncle Tim.

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And a couple more Modarri cars to round out Robert’s collection, along with a case to carry them all.

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Grandpa is known for his creative gift wrapping skills. This flag holder required three boxes to get it wrapped just right. And she got an owl flag for all seasons.

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I’m glad they could join us, but I hate that Chris was feeling so horrible. He went through about 3 boxes of kleenexes those couple of days. Linda’s allergies flared up when she got to the park too so it wasn’t quite the picture perfect holiday we all hoped it would be.

That night before bed, we decided to go ahead and leave the next morning to come home, which was a day earlier than we had planned. It was obvious that he wasn’t going to get better until we got him out of there and would probably be dealing with an infection soon. It was a bummer because our last excursion was going to be hiking at Enchanted Rock, which I had really been looking forward to. But that’s ok. There’s always next time. We just needed to get him home.

So that night and the next morning I tried to do as much of the packing up as I could so he could save his energy and not go outside until he absolutely had to. I’m a total wimp and haven’t pulled the camper, nor have I ever pulled any type of trailer in my entire life, so I was sick with worry with the thought of me having to drive. Pulling a camper that I can’t see around. Through the hill country. And Austin. Both of which I am unfamiliar with. Turns out I’m a terrible person and Chris drove :(  I have done all of the unloading and camper cleanup, washed about 10 loads of laundry and bagged 6 bags of pine needles though so I hope that at least makes up for some of it. He was able to breathe better as we got on the other side of Austin, but then he started feeling worse and by the time we got home around 2:00, he was running a fever :( He is slowly improving and has been fever free all day, but he’s still feeling pretty puny.

And so ends our 2016 Christmas Vacation. Hoping we start 2017 illness free!