Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The {last} Night Before Kindergarten

Tomorrow, I take my last little to kindergarten. And, even knowing that it is just hours away, it still somehow doesn't seem real. We've had the date circled on the calendar for weeks, we bought school supplies, and met her teacher. Her backpack is ready and her lunch is packed. She is so excited. We have practiced her letters, she can write her name and count to 100. We have checked every box on every kindergarten "checklist" out there. I know that she is prepared, but, I'm still not ready. 

While this is a big day for Charlotte, like it was for Madeleine and Harrison, it's different in that it is a big day for me as well. This is one of those "big change" days: I'll no longer be a mom to kids that are home during the day. And, that has been a defining piece of who I am for the past 11 years. And, it's hard to say goodbye to that phase of my life. I told Matt on our first date that I wanted to be a mom one day, and I am so thankful that Matt has supported my dream of getting to be home full time with our kids. It has been a sacrifice for us in many ways, but it was worth it.

Tonight I am sitting here wondering (again) where the time has gone? Not every day was an easy one or even a good one; there were some hard, hard days when Charlotte was a baby that I wondered if I would every have a moment alone. And, now I'm staring down days alone. There were moments when I would lay in bed at night and think, "for the first time all day, no one is touching me, or talking to me." And, yet, tomorrow, I'll be counting the minutes until I get that first hug after school, and enjoying every moment of hearing the kids talk over one another to tell about their day.

Oh, perspective, how you change things.

I think my biggest sadness, comes from knowing that these years that I have loved, are over. OVER. I can never, ever get them back. There will be many fun days ahead. Life is much easier as they get older. But, just knowing that I'll never have these days with kids at home during the school year again, makes my heart ache.

Charlotte and I have had so much fun this year. I've had her at home with me, just the 2 of us, for the past 3 years. But, this past year --with her being older has just been fun. 

We have had playdates, and park dates, and library dates. We've had lunch out -- just the 2 of us. We have bummed around the mall in the afternoons, snuggled on the couch, read hundreds of books, turned up the music and sung and danced in the living room. She has been my shopping buddy, my grocery helper, my cleaning partner, my sidekick.  It's crazy but I feel like I'm sending my best friend off to school. :) This year has been so easy with her during the day.

I really have no regrets -- I have done everything I wanted to do with her. But, it still doesn't feel like enough and I'm realizing that even if we had more time, it would never feel like enough.

She is ready; I've done my job. The thing she's most excited about? Carpool. Yep, carpool. She has spent her entire life waiting in the car to pick up the big kids from school, and now it's her turn to get into the car and tell about her day. She can't wait.

Matt keeps reminding me that it's just a day. One day. It will come, it will go, and life will move on. Deep down, I have a feeling that I may enjoy having some days to myself. And, I'm going back to work part time as a helper in a pre-k class -- which I will love, I'm sure. It has turned out to be such a blessing to find this job.

Tomorrow will be hard. I'll learn to live in this new phase of our lives. Charlotte will love and thrive in kindergarten. And, I'll be the first mom in the carpool line to pick her up.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Kansas City Vacation

This year we decided to take the kids to Kansas City for vacation. As close as it is to us, we've never been and it seemed like there would be a lot to do for the kids. This was the first "real" family vacation we've taken in a long time and it was so much fun! We are already talking about what we want to do next year. :) Matt & I really want the kids to see as much of our country as we can, so our list of sights to see in the upcoming years is pretty long! But, we also wanted them to remember what we've done, and this was the first year that a car trip didn't seem like pure misery. Ha!

We headed out the first week of July for KC. Matt had been working nonstop for weeks, with longer hours than usual, and I think we were all pretty giddy to get out of town and have some family time!

We made it as far as Rogers and stopped for an early lunch. :) We took the kid to Bob Evans for the first time -- growing up this was always a stop on our roadtrips to NY in the summers. The loved it -- pancakes are always a winner!

{that messed up eye still creeps me out!}
I told the kids that road trips = getting to stop at a gas station for candy. I think this was probably one of their favorite things -- obviously they are candy-deprived. ;) I found a stop 1/2 way there and they each got a candy & coke. It's the little things, right?
We got to KC, dropped our stuff off at our hotel and headed out to do some shopping at Legends. The kids thought this place was pretty cool. Lots of pools, fountains and stores. We did some back to school shoe shopping for the kids and then headed to dinner.
We had dinner at T-Rex cafe which was amazing. The food was pretty good, but the atmosphere captivated the kids.

Lots of dinos everywhere and they moved and made sounds too! We explored around the restaurant after we ate and found that each room was a little different and so unique.

We ended the night with ice cream, of course. :) Then it was back to the hotel for swimming before the kids collapsed into bed. Matt and I were in the middle of binge-watching Friday Night Lights (which we've seen before, but not in several years and spent 2 weeks this summer watching all 5 seasons, and doing pretty much nothing else!!), and we stayed up and watched a little TV on the iPad.
The next day we were up bright and early. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we headed down to the Crowne Center for the day. Our first stop was Kaleidoscope. I thought this might be a fun little activity for the kids -- it was free so I wasn't worried if it was a bust. But, it turned out to be so fun. They all loved crafting and making puzzles and masks. It was well worth our time. They each made 2 puzzles, a mask, and an entire bag of "crafted goodies" which I'm happy to report made it home.

It was the cutest place. So whimsical and fun inside.

Working on their puzzles.

Putting puzzles through the "cutter."
Painting masks.

Waiting on her mask to come out of the dryer.

Next up was LegoLand. The kids were probably most excited to visit here and it did not disappoint. I think the kids were at an age that all of them could enjoy it. We picked a good day and it wasn't super busy.

There were 2 different rides which we fun! This one you had to pedal to make your chairs go up and I rode with Charlotte -- my legs were SORE after doing all the work to keep us up in the air!

I loved all the lego versions of landmarks. We all spend a long time checking this out -- they even moved and lit up!

And, they had a huge play area inside that we had to finally drag the kids out of!
We ended LegoLand with the 4-D movie. They showed 4 different movies and we sat through 3 of them. One of our family favorites!At one point in the movie one of the characters talks to the audience, and Charlotte looks at me and says, "mom, did you see that? He was talking to me!! " Haha!

By the time we spent several hours in Legoland we were all starving. We decided to try Fritz's for a late lunch -- and still had to wait in line! But it was so worth it! The kids loved the trains that deliver your food and especially calling on the phone to order! I got a diet cherry coke and it was so good -- almost as good as my all time favorite at 59 Diner. :) I drank mine & finished off the kids. Who needs food when there is diet cherry coke?!?!

We went to the Aquarium that afternoon and had a blast! There was so much to see, and being able to touch so many different things was great.

The kids thought that these bubbles that let you get "inside" the aquariums were cool!

It didn't take that long to wonder through the aquarium, and it was pretty busy that day, so we didn't stick around to play in the play area.

Instead we headed back across the street and let the kids split a ballcap sundae. Yum!

We decided to try and go to American Girl that night. Poor Charlotte was so tired from all the walking, she fell right asleep in the car.
The girls and I shopped AG, while the boys went to Barnes & Noble next door. It wasn't as big as the one in Dallas that we've been to, but it was still nice. It was Char's first time at AG and she was overwhelmed. It was almost too much for her and she ended up just picking out something small (which was fine by me!).
Then we hit up Cheesecake Factory for dinner. Madeleine had been there before, but it was new for H & C. They weren't super excited about going, but ended of loving it, of course! It's one of my most favorite places to eat & it never disappoints! Matt & I shared our usual -- the Factory Burrito, which is so huge we had leftovers!
And you can't go to CF and not get dessert. We ordered one chocolate cake, and one cheesecake and left with a LOT of leftovers. That chocolate cake was enormous!

Our plan had been to go back to the hotel and swim, but some crazy storms came through and we couldn't swim because of all the lightening. There was even a tornado close by and the sirens went off most of the evening.

Thursday morning our plan was to explore Science City. One of my friends recommended it and it was just as amazing as I'd hoped! I have to admit that as we wondered in, I was a little skeptical, but the more deeper in that we got, the better it got.

The loved this crazy room.

I think the DNA room was on everyone's favorite list. You could trace your traits & see how many people were like you, but there was a "cloning" machine that kept Charlotte busy for a good 20 minutes. :) You could pose and take pics of yourself and see what it would be like to have 4 of you! She was a hoot! And, Madeleine got the hang of it really fast and did some really fun things with it!

After Science City, we decided to look around Union Station and I'm so glad we did. There is so much history there!

We found a train room filled with miniature trains that ran.

Then we walked out over the bridge that is over the tracks.
We spent the afternoon at IKEA and also hit up Half Price Books where we all loaded up on new books -- love when I can score some $1 books for the kids!

We ate dinner at Chuy's that night which was in such a great area!

Kids dinners that included ice cream, ummm, yes!
We walked all around the area after dinner and found some live music being played. It was so fun!

Then it was back to the hotel for more swimming. :)

We got up on Friday morning, had breakfast and let the kids swim until checkout time.
Then we packed up and headed home -- tired, but so so happy. It was a perfect few days of just the 5 of us. And, of course, they had to stop on the way home for candy, round 2. :)