Sunday, May 31, 2015

Pre-K Graduation & Dance Recital

My heart has burst with pride several times in the last couple of weeks - and I'm a sensitive sap so there have been a few tears of joy too. I started this blog before Miles was even born and now we not only visited his future kindergarten - we celebrated his pre-kindergarten graduation. May has been a good month for us - we have a lot to celebrate and be thankful for.

The morning of May 19 we celebrated with Hadley as she completed her first year of preschool at Little Saints Preschool at St. Huberts. She loved going two mornings a week and thrived with all of the social activities and learning. At the party she smiled and performed three songs, including "This Little Light of Mine," received a certificate and we celebrated with an ice cream sundae bar.

Our smiley girl performing with her class
Smiling back at us as the class took their seats in the front row
Receiving her celebratory necklace and certificate - she's officially moving up to 4-day preschool at Little Saints next fall!

Eating ice cream AND pretzels
Being a big brother comes with perks - Miles got to come to the party too
Hadley and her wonderful assistant teacher, Mrs. A.
Hadley and her wonderful lead teacher, Miss G. We're truly so happy and lucky to have found Little Saints Preschool.
Then that afternoon we celebrated Miles' pre-kindergarten graduation. He's been going to Little Saints for three years. I was preparing myself all week for the bittersweet feelings I'd have watching my little man (dressed in converse sneakers, jeans, and a tie - he's such a cutie!) graduate from pre-school. After visiting his new kindergarten a few weeks ago I'm so confident that he'll do well and is more than ready- it's just hard to believe my baby is ready for this next step. At the celebration, his class processed in, sang three songs, and also had a graduation ceremony and slide show. (Yes, I was choked up.) As part of the slide show the teachers asked the kids on video what they want to be when they grow up. Miles said a manager (he still thinks he wants to work with me someday).
Miles and his buddies getting ready to sing
Grinning at us from the front row
Yep - this puppy is off to kindergarten!

Miles and his wonderful (I'm overusing this word purposely because they truly are wonderful) assistant teacher Mrs. Riegert
Miles, like Hadley also had Miss G as a lead teacher
So proud of this sweet boy
I love watching the my preschoolers in action
Grandma and Grandpa Nickolay were there for the big event
Our other preschooler in action
Memorial Weekend the Gray grandparents returned from Alaska and we headed to the cabin for the weekend. Although the weather was cool and sometimes rainy we took a lot of walks, went on the pontoon, fished, had campfires, played cards, and enjoyed nature.
Miles LOVES dogs - especially little ones. He and Tucker were buddies all weekend.
I love spending time with my little nieces and nephews. The "baby" is getting so big!
These two, only 1 month apart in age, were inseparable all weekend
Eating tonka toasters by the fire
I love this picture because she has a twinkle in her eye and pizza sauce on her face

I had to make an impromptu visit to the Long Lake Vet for a refill of pain killers for our now senior dog. She has a mind of a young pup and overdid it at the cabin. Her arthritis has gotten so bad that it's difficult to get her back legs working - especially after prolonged sitting or a lot of activity. She loves the cabin though - we couldn't leave her behind.
Hadley was such an awesome outdoors woman. Despite the rain, she wanted to go fishing and caught the most fish of any of us. She then announced that she wanted to "eat some dead fish" so we fried them up as an appetizer.  
Of course we ate a lot of sweets including ice cream
Saturday night we all went to the Sievers for a backyard bbq. We had fun and when these kids get together with their cousins - it is wild! I snapped this photo on the way home - I love how they look so much alike - even when exhausted.

Today was Hadley's first dance recital. She performed a tap number to "A Your Adorable." We had her dress rehearsal Tuesday night at the Chanhassen High School auditorium and it was very hectic backstage with so many dancers and moms. Hadley didn't want me to leave her and was nervous. Thankfully her teacher took her and as I sat down in the front row I prayed that she would at least come out on stage - hopefully not bawling. When it was her class's time to rehearse she was a little hesitant but marched right out there with a smile on her face. I was thrilled! After her rehearsal we stayed and watched some of the other girls rehearse and Hadley loved watching the other dances. I really hope that she grows to love and appreciate dance as much as I did.

Today was the real deal and she shined on stage. She smiled and did "big arms" and was just so good. I cried through the whole thing. I think I was more nervous than Hadley! I'm actually tearing up writing this - I just loved watching her dance.

Hadley's adoring fans. She's lucky to have had both sets of grandparents attend.
After the recital we went to get frozen yogurt and this little one was just exhausted.
After a quick cat nap though she was miss personality and loved her cotton candy frozen yogurt with gummy bears.

I added this picture because it's so funny. She was hiding in her costume.
Although they live far away and we only get to see them a couple of times a year - it's always nice when the Grays come to visit. We always tell Miles and Hadley how lucky they are to have 5 grandparents. Hadley was referring to the Grays as "the grandma and grandpa that moved in." The kids had a great week with them - helping grandpa with projects like fixing the Ford and building a bean bag toss game and going for walks with grandma, playing games, and reading stories. They are traveling tomorrow. We wish them a safe trip and we'll miss them until we see them again at Christmas.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Celebrations galore

This post has a ton of pictures because we had a very busy week (not even counting work and the normal grind!) including several celebrations.

The kids and I spent Monday morning at the Arboretum and enjoyed the tulips in bloom (they plant over 38,000 tulips each year). Just like mama - the kids each brought their cameras. So we all snapped away at the lovely flowers and each other.

I love how this looks like a professional photo shoot - Hadley is the photographer and Miles is the model.

Then on Tuesday Hadley had her dance pictures. Her first year of dance is winding down with only a few lessons left before the big recital. She looked like a little doll in her costume.

Mike's parents arrived Thursday for a short stay before heading to Alaska. We started the weekend festivities by celebrating Grandma Gray's birthday. 
Auntie Tina and Auntie Annette sent Mariann an edible bouquet and I'm not sure who was more excited.

We also celebrated with dinner out in Excelsior at Lago Taco, a walk along Excelsior beach (it was a lovely Friday evening), and a homemade coconut creme pie.

Opening presents

Walking along the lake

Saturday morning was the kids' last swimming lesson for the season. Although Hadley is a little fish - she wasn't enjoying lessons this year and spent the last few times crying and not participating. She did actually get in the water this week and swam a little. I think she'd rather do her own thing. Plus - she was the only girl in a class full of really wild boys.

Miles also doesn't particularly love swimming lessons but each week he tried his best (and tried his best not to get his hair wet) and that's all we can ask. He rarely will put his face in the water but does everything else willingly and well - and he passed this level. Level two - here we come next year!


After swimming lessons we did a lot of party preparation including cooking and decorating to get ready for Hadley's 4th birthday party that afternoon. She requested a rock princess party this year so all of the decorations were pink and black. Per Hadley - on the menu was: cheese pizza, veggies and dip, honey dew and grapes, and chocolate caramel cake with whipped cream.

It was a great party because both sets of grandparents were there along with Rachel's family and Matt's family - 16 of us in total!

She got lots of lovely gifts including: a baby doll (named Rylan which she hasn't put down since the party), doll clothes, a bubble blower, jewelery, a purse, a dress, a playhouse, and Duplos blocks.

I had two very interested helpers when I was whipping the cream. 
Checking out the decorations
It was such a beautiful day that we were outside most of the time (which was perfect for 6 very rambunctious cousins).
I'm always so happy when my baby brother comes down from Moorhead.
(Hadley thinks he's older than me though because he's bigger. :) )
Lots of love at the party
Our 2 three, soon-to-be four year olds!
What's a rock princess party without music?
We had lots of instruments out and Hadley put on a great show with the harmonica.

Between dinner and dessert the kids played pin the butterfly on the Curious George poster.

I have lots of wishes for this little girl.
We're so proud of this beautiful and smart girl. I can't believe she's so big already!
Our third celebration of the weekend was today for Mother's Day. Sometimes I have to laugh (or roll my eyes at the differences between the stereotypes of the idyllic Mother's Day versus reality.

Idyllic: mom sleeps in
Reality: the kids crawl in bed between 6-6:30 and snuggle with me in between - one is kicking my back and the other is spooned against me (wouldn't trade it)

Idyllic: mom is served breakfast in bed with flowers
Reality: I'm greeted with pleas of "I'm hungry" every morning - no matter what the holiday

Idyllic: dad secretly shops for jewelry that he wraps from each of the kids
Reality: dad buys mom a wireless speaker (while not the quintessential Mother's Day gift I'm sure the kids and I will be having lots of impromptu dance parties around the house)

Idyllic: we all go to a lovely brunch where the adults get to chat and the children eat nicely
Reality: our table for 16 is not ready when we arrive despite several calls ahead of time confirming our reservation, the kids are either wild or get incredibly mad every time the servers pass our table with food that is not ours because they are so hungry, and the adults spend more time wrangling children rather than having deep, enjoyable conversations.

Today reminded me of the lesson I learn everyday about motherhood - sometimes you just have to roll with things, have an attitude of gratitude, and when things don't go exactly the way I want them to - I have another chance to start over tomorrow. When I looked around the table at brunch today - even amongst the craziness - I'm surrounded by my most favorite people in the world and I wouldn't trade it. This morning in church my thoughts and heart went out to all of the mom's who have lost children or are unable to have their own along with everyone who has lost their own mom. At the end of the day - I'm truly blessed.

Thanks to my own mom who often was home alone with three probably very wild, crazy, and endlessly needy children - you must have had a lot of patience. Now that I'm a dance mom - thanks too for years and years of being my dance mom and driving me 5-6 days a week to classes and shelling out a lot on costumes.

Thanks to Mike's mom, Mariann, for raising a loving, caring, and family-oriented son.

Happy Mother's Day to all of my the women in my life - I couldn't do it without you.

My mom with all of her grandkids...
...and all of her kids.
Mike and Mariann with their two youngest grandchildren
Mike's happy to spend the day with his mom

At brunch I got to snuggle with my Godson
My lovely sister is a great mama too!
Playing with bubbles after a busy weekend