Sunday, September 28, 2014

First Day of Preschool

(about a month late…)

When we returned from vacation, Madison started preschool.  Her preschool actually started the week we were on vacation, but someone (me) forgot to look at the calendar.  But it is her second year of preschool (she is a pro!), and it is “just” preschool (not high school exam week), and we saved boku bucks by going after Labor day.  Anyway….

She picked her own clothes out this year, told me how to style her hair (she really only has so many choices because my hair skills are lacking), picked out her backpack, and was little Miss Independent this year!  She was beautiful and full of enthusiasm for school.  I loved it.

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Ellie was equally as excited for her, I think. 

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She had a great day.  She looked a little hesitant about where to play when I dropped her off, but I think that is just her.  She observes for a little while and then jumps right in. 

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I was preschool helper on her second day, so she picked snacks out (cheese sticks and sandwich cookies with milk), and I stayed to play.  She is definitely more clingy when I am around, but I think this is normal.  By now (the third week), she has a “best friend” that she finds in the morning – she said she is nice and she always gets good behavior cards sent home too.  (Best to start early choosing friends wisely, right?)

I will admit, I did not cry.  I read all the first day posts on facebook and blog entries, and I think I should feel guilty about this lack of tears. I think I am perhaps the only one who wasn’t shedding tears.  I am admitting this just in case there is another out there like me, who while a little cautious about letting go, doesn’t feel sad about it.  It just felt natural – maybe because I left her when she was three months old to go to work.  I am wondering if this will be true as she enters kindergarten.  I wonder if the “getting on the bus” factor will make it harder.  I have a feeling it will feel different to see that happen – to watch a stranger just take your child away to school.  So, no judgment if you did cry that first day; we each have different experiences and reactions to that day.  Just wanted the minority to know that it is also okay to not shed those sentimental tears.  That being said…. it was good to see her smiling face when I picked her up!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vacation: Part 3

Finally made it to the last post from vacation.  I neglected to post a fantastic picture from Madison’s and I’s shopping trip one afternoon.  She really wanted to get a picture with this mermaid statue; so, we did.  I realize it is not the best thing for a four-year-old to take a picture with, but she definitely outshines the naked mermaind!

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We left the beach on Friday morning.  I was a little sad to go – the sun was still shining, and I wanted to make a few more memories there.  Nevertheless, we said good-bye.  We drove to Newark, New Jersey near the airport.  Jeremy had found a reasonably priced hotel there with cheaper parking than at the airport.  He figured out that we could take the hotel shuttle to the airport, the airport tram to the train station, the train to the subway, and meet Jennifer in New York City!  Yep, that is why I married him – mastermind at getting around on public transportation when traveling.  I don’t mind doing it; I am just not good at navigating it.  The girls loved all the modes of transportation that day.  Once we met Jennifer, we then rode a bus to get to our next stop.  The only thing we didn’t do was ride a boat or an airplane; we used most forms of land transportation that day! 

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It was good to see Jennifer.  It had been awhile.  She makes and effort to get home as often as possible, but it is difficult when living at a distance.  I am glad we were able to go her way as well. 

We went to see the dancers in the windows at Alvin Ailey dance studio first.  The girls thought this was pretty neat.  Ellie even tried out a few of the moves.

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Then, we headed for Central Park.  We ate a picnic lunch we had toted with us from our leftover food at the beach while we relaxed in the shade.  We headed to a playground area next.  Had we known there would be water there, we would have come prepared.  It was hot, and the sprayers were so tempting, but I really didn’t want to wet girls on my hands.  They had fun climbing around anyway.  Madison’s favorite thing – the tire swing!  Ellie enjoyed throwing the football we borrowed from some little boys. 

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Next stop – the horse-drawn carriage ride… a treat from Grandma and Grandpa Yoh. 

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The girls were excited about this, but it didn’t take long until the rhythm of the horse’s hooves and the exhaustion of vacation won over.  Ellie was out for most of the ride, and Madison was almost asleep.  It was a good opportunity for us adults to talk a little.

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We transferred Ellie to the stroller for the remainder of the nap and did a little exploring while she slept. 

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Afterwards, we went to F.A.O. Schwartz.  It was probably a mistake.  It has a huge candy section.

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Which is only surpassed by the sheer number of toys they have on hand.  It is also the home of the giant piano keys from the movie Big with Tom Hanks.  We walked away with nothing, but we fielded a lot of “Can I have…?” questions during this hour or so.

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We finished up our time with a delicious meal at a cafĂ© I don’t remember the name of.  We retraced our steps back to the hotel and hit the sack by 10pm.  A little late, but it’s not every day we are in NYC with family.  And just as a reminder, we headed out on Saturday for our second round at Sesame Place – and then HOME!  It was a loooong day driving that day from Newark, New Jersey, playing at Sesame, and arriving at home at almost midnight.  We had a great time. 

We came back to fair week, the first days of preschool for Madison, and the start of another grad class for me… posts to follow.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Vacation: Part 2

(Disclaimer: This is a long post since it includes three days!)

After Sesame Place, we headed east to Cape May, New Jersey.  While most Ohioans vacation at Myrtle Beach, the Jersey shore is, as we found out, a great option as well.  We reserved a room at the Camelot Motel

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It was wonderful!  I would not call it luxurious, but it was exactly what we wanted.  It was a half block from the beach.  You can see it half hidden by the building in the forefront.  It has small patriotic decorations hanging on the balcony rails.  We were on the third floor in a corner room; we barely had a glimpse of the ocean, but when you are living that close, just walk out the door and enjoy it!

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It had two rooms – a living room area with a full kitchen and dining room and a bedroom with two queen size beds.  We liked the full-size fridge and oven in the kitchen.  I brought along a lot of the staples and stocked up on the cold stuff when we got there.  We liked the dining area.  The girls like the large area provided for the sleeper sofa to pull out; they used it to play and dance.  We really liked that it had a door between the beds and the living room.  This meant (and all parents will understand what I mean) that we could shut the door when the kids went to bed and then read, watch TV, or talk about the next day.  It was great. 

On Monday, we arrived in time to get groceries and order pizza.  Tuesday, we slathered on the sunscreen, gathered up the multitude of sand toys, and headed out to the beach!  The girls were super excited.  When they put on their hats AND their sunglasses, Madison said, “We are like big people!”  And they were!  This is one of my favorite pictures of the entire trip.

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The weather was great; in fact, it was perfect the entire vacation.  Jeremy even had a conversation with a local who said this was the best week of beach weather they have had all summer!  (I did thank God for this because I had been praying about this for the weeks leading up to our trip.)  We found an open spot on an almost empty beach.  The people who set up towels nearby said this was the most room he had seen on the beach for awhile.  (We did plan this well, since we went after the big crowds of Labor day and summer.)  Ellie started digging.  Madison wanted to see the waves. 

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We quickly learned two things: 1) The sun is hot and there are no trees, so either rent or buy and umbrella.  We rented the first day, and bought for the next days.

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2) The waves at this part of the beach crash hard right on the shore which is not so fun for little kids, but is fun for big kids.  Head down the beach about 10 minutes (walking) for a little calmer waters – which we did on our last day.

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While Madison and I played in the waves, Jeremy and Ellie constructed dolphins in the sand.  (On a side note, we saw a dolphin/whale watching boat go by the first day.  We saw the a pod of dolphins playing just in front of it.  It was pretty cool even from a distance!)  They also took in the scenery of our little Victorian town.

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Next trip, I would bring some good beach chairs along with our (newly purchased) beach umbrella.  Ellie spent a lot of time chillin’ and eating in those, since the waves were a little intimidating.  See exhibits A, B, and C below!

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That night we went to historic Cape May.  It had little shops and restaurants on a cobblestone street.  The girls enjoyed the wishing fountain and the ice cream that night. 

The next day, we took a day to go to the Cape May Zoo.  It is a free zoo not far from the beach.  We thought the girls might enjoy that; we were right.  They had a nice variety of animals; it was well-kept.  The enclosures for some of the animals could have been a little bigger, but they were in the process of making improvements.  Ellie wanted to see the zebras.  (I have no idea why exactly.) 

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Madison wanted to see giraffes. 

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We also saw some cows, goats, and ducks, some bison, monkeys, and birds.  There were other animals as well; I am pretty sure we saw them all in the 2-3 hours we were there.

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We said farewell and headed home for some naps.

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That night we ate supper in and headed to Sunset Beach to watch… the sunset.  It was aptly named because you can catch a pretty good sunset almost any day.  The beach was made up of small gravel; the clearer stones are known as Cape May Diamonds.  The rocks were fun to play with. 

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Madison enjoyed the water here.  The waves barely lapped the shore – more like a lake than an ocean.  She was the lone frolicker that night, although there were quite a few people there. 

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Ellie at least posed there.

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The girls had some fun sister moments this evening, as well.

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We were able to get a few group shots in. 

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It was a nice evening to be together.  If there would not have been swarms of invisible, but annoying, bugs settling on our bodies the whole time, it would have been even better!

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The last full day, we went back to the beach, but went about a little ways down to seek out calmer waters.  The girls loved it.  We hunted shells; we hadn’t seen those at the other section of beach.  Jeremy and Madison went to the waves first.  Then, Madison and I were out there a long time.  We went waaaaay out and drifted over the waves as they were starting to build.  It took Ellie most of the morning to get brave enough to come out with Jeremy. 

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After naps, the girls decided they wanted to go see the Lighthouse.  There are apparently over 300 steps to the top that you pay $7/person to climb.  We decided that would be better for when the girls are a little older and can climb those on their own.  But the lighthouse was cool. 

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The beach was pristine. 

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We saw our first flock of seagulls there, so we sent the girls out to chase them. 

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The area was also good for birdwatching, hence the binoculars the girls are trying out. 

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They also picked up some souvenirs on this outing.  They both bought bubble necklaces at the lighthouse gift shop.  Madison bought a bottle full of small shells.  Ellie bought a turtle necklace.

Besides the beach and the outings, we also spent time in the motel pool, in the room, shopping, and running.  It was a great time to relax and refresh and rebuild as a family.  I am so thankful for our beach days.