Wednesday, August 22, 2012

back to school

Today was the big day!  I woke up early to see Emmalie before she left for her first day of 11th grade.  (And to take pictures, of course!)  She has to be at her bus stop by 6:30... bleah.  I'm glad I don't have to do that every day ~ way too early for me!  Here's our junior, all ready to start school:
 At the bus stop:
 Bye, Emm!
 Luckily, the boys don't have to leave till 8:15 or so... a much more manageable time!  Here's Ben, our big first grader!
Apparently the sunshine was hurting his eyes, and he couldn't smile and keep his eyes open at the same time.  (Or so he said.)  Ben wanted to wear his new Panthers shirt because his school mascot is a panther and the school colors are blue and white.  Can you say "school spirit"? :)

And here's our big (tall!) 8th grader.  What?  Is that a smile on the first day of school?  Must be a trick of the light....
 The boys:
 Off and running!  Ben couldn't wait to walk (run) to school with his buddies across the street:
Nick at his bus stop.  His bus was actually on time (so was Emm's) ~ something that has never happened on the first day of school in the past 7 years that one or more of my kiddos have been riding a bus!
 Ben with his friends Ryan and Jack (from across the street).  They started Kindergarten today:
 Excited and eager for school to begin:
Once Ben and the rest of his class went inside, I took George to work and then... I actually had the whole house to myself until school got out at 2:30!  Wow.  I was able to get several things done, and even spent time writing, yay! :)

Ben LOVED his first day of first grade!  He couldn't wait to tell me every single detail.  He was happy to see some of his friends from last year, and thought his teacher was really nice.  He can't wait to go back tomorrow!

Emm was not as chipper when she got home from school.  There was a problem with her schedule, and it looks like she'll be unable to take any of the electives that she wanted.  I know she's very disappointed about that, and I can't say that I blame her. :(

Nick was also not real thrilled with his first day, after having lock/locker problems all day long and being given the wrong bus info for after school -- he ended up getting home much later than usual because of it.

All 3 kiddos were excited about back-to-school brownies, though! (Even if two of them don't look it in this picture.)  This was our after-school snack.  Yum.
Hope the 2nd day of school will be great for all three!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

nostalgia time

It's back-to-school time again, which means I've been reminiscing about my own school days from years ago.  Tomorrow will be the first day of school for my kiddos, so I thought I'd share what I remember from the grades they'll be in this year.

Ben starts first grade tomorrow.  I can't believe he's so grown up, going to school all day long like the big kids!  He is very excited about it, and I have a feeling he will love first grade!

This is me in first grade:
I attended Crawford Elementary in Ames (see a picture in the previous post!), just a block from my house, and my teacher was Mrs. McInnis.  She was an older teacher (she retired after that year) and I remember her being quite strict.  She could be nice, too, however.  I remember her comforting me after my grandpa passed away.  My best friends that year were Sheryl, Tracy, Abby, and Chris M.  I was already boy-crazy at that age, LOL, and besides Chris (my official boyfriend), I also had my eye on two other boys in my class, Greg and Karl.

Some things I remember from first grade are sitting at the back of the room by the coat hooks, listening to music and stories with giant headphones, singing a song about vowels, blowing eggs at Easter time, Mrs. McInnis asking the class every morning what we'd had for breakfast, and a cool little paddle boat that my dad helped me make for a science project.

Nick will begin 8th grade, his second (and last) year of middle school.  He does NOT like middle school, and is not looking forward to tomorrow at all.  At least he knows his way around the school now, and knows almost all of his teachers since he'll have the same ones he did last year for most of his subjects.  I'm really hoping that he'll make a friend or two this year ~ it would make school much more enjoyable, I'm sure!

Here's me in 8th grade, thinking I was so cool with my rainbow shirt and my sweater.  (I remember it was very warm on picture day that year, but I stubbornly kept my sweater on because I wanted to look good for the picture, LOL.)
I went to Welch Jr. High. (Go, Welch Wildcats!)  I always walked or biked to school with my friends. That year I had homeroom with Mrs. Pier, gym with Mrs. Smith, Art with Mr. Heinen, and Drama with Ms. Quint.  For my core classes, I had one set of teachers first semester, and another set second semester.  For science (chemistry, mostly) I had Mr. Lippe and Mr. Little.  For math I had Mrs. Rassmussen and Mr. Schneider.  For English I had Mrs. Pier and Mrs. Grant.  History was with Mr. Krull and Mr. Middleton.  For Industrial Ed. I had Mr. Johnson and Mr. Schneider, and then for Home Ec. I had two different Mrs. Johnsons!

My best friends in 8th grade were Tara, Inger, Lisa, Abby, Sara, and many others.  When I started school that fall, I was still "going out" with my boyfriend Andrew (who was now up at the high school, in 10th grade).  He broke up with me around March.  At the end of April, Nathan asked me to be his girlfriend, and I accepted.  (That was after turning him down in 7th grade!)

I was in the 8th & 9th grade chorus, and in the school musical "Bring Back Birdie", I played a kid and member of the funeral choir.  In 8th grade, we had dance lessons in the evenings.  Some big highlights were the 8th grade dance (after the lessons were completed) and the 8th and 9th grade Box Social (another dance).  I also remember fun parties with my friends, hanging out at Tara's whenever I could, and talking on the telephone for hours with my friends.

Emmalie begins her junior year tomorrow, 11th grade.  (I can NOT believe it!)  She is going to have a crazy busy schedule, but if anyone can handle it, it's her.  Here's my school picture from 11th grade:
I attended AHS. (Ames Hi Aims High!)  I took the city bus, CyRide, to and from school every day with some of my friends.  That year I had Mr. Hansen for homeroom, Mr. White for anthropology, Mr. Wiser for Concert Choir (and for Sophomore Mixed Chorus 2nd semester, when the other didn't fit into my schedule.  I had many friends in the mixed chorus, though, so I didn't mind.)  I had Mrs. Kautzky for Modern Dance I and II, Mr. Jones for Physics (only for 1st semester, though, because then I dropped it even though I had an A ~ I just hated it so much!), Mr. Schneider for Sociology, Mrs. Schonhorst for French III, Mrs. Schepers for Adult Living, Mr. Forssman for Survey of American Literature, and Mrs. Campbell for American Literary Masterpieces.  I had also taken Driver's Ed over the summer.

My best friends that year were Tara, Kara, Inger, and Scott.  I also started dating Kevin the summer before 11th grade.  We were together until April, when he broke up with me.  (Right before Prom, too ~ thanks a lot, Kevin!  LOL)  Besides choir, I was involved in the Big Sis/L'il Sis program, and I was on the publicity and scenery crews for all the various plays.  Highlights included getting to go on actual dates for the first time, going to Adventureland with Kevin and some other friends, going to the Christmas Formal dance with Kevin, parties with my friends, spending Saturdays working on scenery, and much more!

Wishing Emmalie, Nick, and Ben a wonderful year of school, filled with all sorts of good memories that they can reminisce about someday! :)

sights of summer, part 3

Finally, I've gotten this blog caught up to August... and the month isn't even over yet!  LOL  Here are some photos to show what we've been busy with this month....

On August 4th, George, Nick, Ben, and I traveled to north central Illinois, to my uncle's farm.  (Emmalie, meanwhile, was with a friend at the Fairy Fest mentioned in my previous post.)  My Uncle David got married to his new bride, Karen, that day -- it was a beautiful country wedding and a really fun party afterwards! :)

We got there early, so we walked around and took a few pictures:
Quilts lining the aisle:
The wedding aisle, lined with hay bales:
Nick and Ben on the best merry-go-round ever:
Hitch N Up!:
Christine, the boys, and Leah (with Dad in the background):
Ben, my cousin Sandy, and a farm cat:
When it was time for the wedding, we all gathered by the hay bales.  Here's the wedding officiant and my Uncle David:
Mom and her sisters, Aunt Bernice and Aunt Jeanette:
Karen and Uncle David danced down the aisle toward each other:
The newlyweds!:
I loved these bouquets that were hanging in the trees:
My cousin Pam and her little girl Brie:
Leah, Christine, and the boys:
My grandma with Nick and Ben:
Instead of wedding cake, there was pie and ice cream... yum!:
Guests put thumbprint leaves on this painting and then signed their names.  What a cool idea!:
Aunt Bernice, Pam, Brie, and Allison:
The 3 sisters dancing:
Ben dances with Christine and Leah, two of his favorite people!:
A line dance:
The Fischer Gang (minus 15):
Grandma with her kids -- Aunt Jeanette, Aunt Bernice, Uncle Chuck, Uncle David, and Mom:
Christine and Leah take a spin:
Christine tries the rope swing:
Nick makes it look easy!:
The farmhouse:
Playing beanbags:
Nick and a farm kitty:
Ben on the tractor:
My cousin Michael and a friend send up a paper balloon:

Later that night, they set off fireworks:

We stayed overnight at a hotel, then visited my grandma's house the next day.

Nick, Ben, Leah, and Christine in Grandma's newly remodeled porch:
Nick stayed at Grandma's that day while George, Ben, and I drove home.  The following day, he drove to Iowa with my parents and stayed there by himself for a week.

On the 11th of August, Ben, George, and I went to a birthday party for Ben's new friends across the street, Jack and Ryan.  They are twins who turned 5, and Ben had a blast at their party!  There was a big bouncy house:

Jack, Ben, and Ryan:
There was also a water slide:
Ben thought it was too cold!:
On Aug. 12th, Emm, Ben, and I headed out in our rental car and drove west, to Iowa.  We stayed with Mom and Dad for 3 nights.

On the 13th, we went on a walk around Ada Hayden Park with Mom:

Later that day, we drove over to Reiman Gardens, meeting Dad there.  We first looked at all the butterflies and moths that had hatched recently, including this Atlas moth:
We had a picnic lunch outside, then headed back in to the butterfly house:
Reiman Gardens currently has a Lego sculpture exhibit on display, all around the gardens.  This Lego butterfly was very cool:

Dad was the first to have a butterfly land on him.  We all had the pleasure of that experience before the day was through, however!
This one landed on Nick's head:
Emm's got one:

Now me:
And finally Ben:
After that, we walked around the gardens, looking at all the flowers and Lego sculptures:

A Lego rose:
This one was quite impressive -- a Lego hummingbird and flowers:
Real lily pads and Lego lily pads:
Lego goldfinches:
Taking a rest in the shade... Emm, Ben, Dad, and Nick:
Hanging out with the world's largest gnome:
Lego bison:
By a metal bunny sculpture:
Nick and a Lego lawn mower:
Lego fox hunting a Lego rabbit:
Nick and Ben and a Lego mosaic:
When we were finished at the gardens, I took the kids on a "nostalgia tour".  First we stopped by my old elementary school, now used for district offices:

In back of the school (it looks quite different than it did when I went to school here):
Next we walked down my old block, past my old house (the cream-colored one) where we moved when I was six, and my parents stayed there till 2000.  I miss my house!:
I took the kids past some of my other homes, friends' houses, my jr. high and high school, and the place where I used to work, too.  I don't know that they got much out of the tour, but it meant a lot to me.

On the 14th, we took another walk with Mom, around her neighborhood:

A turkey vulture:
Bowling on Mom and Dad's front porch:
We loved watching the hummingbirds that come to Mom's feeder several times a day:
The evening of the 14th, we all went to Great Plains Sauce and Dough for a pizza supper.  My sister Christine and mother-in-law Fran joined us, and afterwards we all hung out at Mom and Dad's for awhile:
The next day (the 15th), the kids and I drove to Des Moines.  We picked up Christine at her house, then headed to the Iowa State Fair.  We had a long, fun day at the fair!:
Butter cow:f

Real cows:

Bunnies, too:

Leah was able to join us for awhile at lunch time:
The kids and I went into the Snakes Alive! exhibit:

and I took Ben into the train museum:
We rode on the Giant Slide (but I don't have any pictures of that), then went to see the quilts and other artwork:
Ben got himself a Hawkeye tattoo and we took a picture to show Grandpa Rick :) :
Emm, Ben, Nick, and a chocolate moose:
Ice cream!:
We watched the wildlife at the DNR building:

Then we saw a presentation on wolves, coyotes, and foxes.  Afterwards, we all got to pet a wolf pup!:

Then we walked over to the Midway.  Ben went on this kiddie roller coaster which he claims is SUPER fast!:

Emm and Nick went on this ride:
It's hard to see, but that's Nick on the right and Emm is next to him:
Ben's 2nd ride:
Emm and Nick get dizzy:
The double ferris wheel is my very favorite ride.  Unfortunately, it wasn't working that day... :
So, Christine and I went on the regular ferris wheel instead:

That night (and the next) we stayed with Christine and Leah:
We loved spending time with them AND their kitties!  Here's Ben with Onyx:
Nick, ready for bed:
On the 16th, both Christine and Leah had to work.  We played some more with the kitties...

Nick and Onyx:
Emm holding Wiccan, who looks just like Hobbit (the cat Christine and I had growing up):
Emm and Wiccan:
(They have one more cat, Skylla, but she's very shy and I didn't get any pictures of her.)

Then we set out for the day:
We went out for lunch, then drove over to the Des Moines Botanical Center.  I hadn't been there in years and years.  We walked around outside for awhile:

until Tara (my best friend from jr. high and high school) arrived with her adorable little boy, E.  We'd only seen each other twice since high school, and both times were very brief.  I was very excited to see her again and to meet her son!  He and Ben hit it off well:

Me and Tara:

After touring the gardens, we all drove over to the Drake Diner for a snack:
Mmm... ice cream!:

The time went by much too fast!

That evening, Ben and Emm played Glee karaoke on Christine and Leah's Wii:

Christine took us to Smokey Row for supper, and then we went to the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden to look at the artwork there:

On Aug. 17th, we headed back home.  We stopped in Iowa City for lunch, and I took the kids on another nostalgia tour.  We drove past my old dorm and the house where I lived for 3 years, plus several other places that were important to me during college.  We went into what used to be Old Capitol Mall -- it now has university offices on the 2nd floor:
and a giant food court area on the first floor, along with the U of I bookstore.  Go Hawks!:
Ben and I got burgers here:
Emm and Nick ordered from Chipotle, and then we all walked down the Pedestrian Mall and ate our lunches by this fountain:
Emm and I also ducked into this store for a few minutes ~ it used to be one of my favorite places to go!:
Over the weekend, Emmalie finally finished this blanket she's been knitting for months.  She made it for Mr. Hain, the choral director at her school ~ he provided the yarn and asked her to make one to use in his office at school.  (Their school colors are black and gold.):
On the 19th, Emm started her new job!  She'd been volunteering at the children's dept. of the library over the summer, and her supervisor was so impressed with her that she offered Emm a part-time job as a shelver.  It's going to make her crazy schedule even crazier, but if anyone can handle it, it's Emmalie! Here she is on her first day of work, in front of the library:
School starts back up tomorrow, so we've also been school shopping this month.  Here are the kiddos with their new supplies...

Ben, all ready for first grade:
Nick... ready (but not willing) for 8th grade:
And Emm, all set to be a junior:
Our garden has continued to grow this month:
 We still are harvesting arugula, lettuce, and swiss chard almost daily.  These were our first tomatoes:
(And by now we're having them daily, as well.)

Our first Lemon Boy tomato and zucchini:
 First peas:
 First beans, picked just today:
 Just some of our fresh veggies that we had on the table tonight.  Yum!:
 We've had new flowers blooming this month, too, like some black-eyed susans:
 More cosmos:
 Four-o-clocks, in yellow:
 and white:
 And lots of zinnias:

 We also have two mystery plants in our wildflower garden.  Anyone know what these are?

I can't believe that summer vacation is over now!  I'd say we took full advantage of it, though.  And I think we're all rested up and ready for school to begin tomorrow.... :)