Crisp Autumn Eve 3 Column from TCBOTB

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Preschool Graduates....

My boys are Preschool Graduates! I know that doesn’t sound like such a big thing, but it really was. They really did the whole event up and made it a very special and emotional occasion. I was able to keep myself composed for the most part (which I found shocking), but on numerous occasions I was fighting back tears as it was just so cute. Miss Peggy (adult educator) started it all out bringing all of us parents up for special recognition and “gag” gifts that were applicable to each. For me, she had two pieces of yarn that were tied together and said it was symbolic of how I needed continue to and remember to “keep it together” and mentioned how I was a busy mom with twin preschoolers as well as a 2 year old following close in their steps…. But as she was about to hand me my gift the pieces of yarn broke and disconnected which made it all that more humorous as she gasped and said “Oh no… they just broke and came untied…. I hope that doesn’t mean anything.” It got a good laugh and I found it completely appropriate because those two little broken pieces of yarn that were supposed to be “held together” are completely symbolic of me SO much of the time. Each of the other parents got similar humorous tokens and when that was done they got all the kids up on stage to sing a few songs for us. The hit of the set was this Mosquito song I’ve never heard before where they itch themselves in different places etc. It was adorable and I’m glad I was able to capture it all on video. Surprisingly MacKay was the one who really got into it and was following the lead of Miss Mary who was standing to the side reminding them all of the actions that accompanied the songs. He was groovin’ and movin’ up there… while Oscar (who is usually the one more apt to join in dancing) more tried to hide behind others up on the stage and seemed distracted. Cute all the same. Just another example of how they switch roles and shock me all the time. Next was commencement and they got all the kids lined up with their graduation caps on and played “Pomp & Circumstance” while they walked in a nice line around the gym for all to see. They then lined up on the stage again to receive their diplomas and when that was done they did the classic cap toss into the air. Immediately after the commencements they showed a tear jerker of a slide show that showed several pictures of each of the children followed by some answers to some questions/statements, specifically "When I grow up I want to _____." To which Oscar's answer was "look like Daddy," and MacKay's was "be Diesel 10." After that it was a social hour where we enjoyed chatting with other parents, admiring their art work which was on display all over the gym and having cupcakes and juice. Gma Chris, Gma Bonnie and Gpa Dean were all there to take this all in as well and initially we were going to go out for lunch afterwards but it ended earlier than we thought, so a few of the families decided to meet at a local park for a while to blow off some time. Gma Chris got a taste of Evie’s daring nature as she climbed up to the top of the playground equipment to play with the big kids and try everything out… she has no fear, I swear. Then we headed off to Buffalo Wild Wings for some lunch to round off a very fun morning. I’m so sad that the boys won’t have Miss Mary and Miss Michele as teachers again next year. There is a class they could take with them, but it is an afternoon class (12:30 – 2:30) three days a week which wouldn’t leave a lot of room for me to bring Evie to her classes without spending practically the entire day at the ECFE building. So instead they are going to go to a true preschool class (no parent days, all drop off) twice a week in the mornings… that way I can take Evie to a Mommy ‘n Me class one of those days while they are at class. But hopefully I will get to take Evie through this program in a couple years and hood back up with Miss Mary and Michele. They truly were fantastic, calm, loving and understanding teachers and my boys are better people for knowing them. Miss Peggy will continue to be someone I still get to work with when we split in Evie’s classes so I’m excited I will still get to see her.

Well I thought I would lead off with the big news… but now I need to back track a little bit. The other big event was taking the boys to the Edgewater Water Park in Duluth last Sunday – Monday. I bought a deal on Groupon which was $99 for 1 nights stay, 5 water park passes, 1 pizza, 4 sodas, and $10 in arcade tokens. We ended up upgrading to a suite for an additional $30 – but that included getting another water park pass ($15) which we needed for Gpa Gary and Terri who were going to be joining us there. The boys were pretty stoked about it and were talking about it for a couple days prior… and the entire drive there kept asking if we were there yet. We got there shortly before noon (when we could start using the water park) so we had some lunch at Perkins quickly (MacKay scarfed down his pancakes and started digging into my lunch as well – think he is going through a growth spurt) before heading over to check in and head to the water park. Both the boys were pretty outgoing from the get go and were going on all the equipment in the little kids area and trying it all out…. But about 20 minutes into it all of a sudden MacKay developed this fixation/fear of “The Big Bucket.” The Big Bucket was this huge bucket that would dump tons of water over the whole kids area every 4-5 minutes. He had already gotten doused a couple times while running around on the apparatuses so I don’t know why it all of a sudden started bothering him later but we couldn’t coax him back into the area for the life of us. I tried OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN to explain right after it would dump that we had some time to go on some slides before it would dump again but he would just sit on the edge completely content just watching it. It was like he loved it and hated it at the same time…. Before it would dump it would give this little signal that sounded like dinging and the minute you would hear that his eyes would get wide and just watch the Big Bucket. He always enjoyed watching it … just from afar. Meanwhile Oscar was always dragging me out there to stand right in the middle of where the brunt of it came out so we could get blasted by it. Polar opposites I tell ya…. But every once in a while you would see him bust his hump (right after it dumped) to run up one of the sides of the apparatus to go down one of the slides VERY quickly. He then would get up and quickly run to the edges of the pool and stare back up at the Big Bucket waiting. The one thing MacKay loved that Oscar wasn’t a fan of was the tube slide. I bet we brought him down that about 20+ times during our stay. It is basically a big tube slide that you ride on tubes down it. So we used the double tubes to take the kids down it. First time I went down it my heart was just racing as it was a PITCH BLACK ride all the way down minus a short little span of it where the slide went out of the building and you could see a little bit of day light shining through the tubes. Otherwise you were flying blindly down this water slide the entire time. Oscar went down a couple times but then said “It’s too dark” and didn’t want to go down it anymore….. meanwhile MacKay LOVED it and kept screaming “Let’s Go AGAIN!” as soon as we would come shooting out of the end of it. He would just race up the stairs to get up there and go for another ride. So I found it interesting that they both had things they were apprehensive about …. And just happened to be the complete opposite of each other as to which they liked and feared. The one thing they both loved were the floaties they had in one of the pools that you walked across while using the ropes above for leverage. They begged us to help them across that so many times and when Gpa Gary and Gma Terri showed up they were the perfect suckers to do just that with them and give Chris and I a break from that. MacKay just wanted to be in the deep pool (about 4 feet… so deep for them) the whole time as he wanted to “swim” and SERIOUSLY thinks he CAN swim. He was constantly barking at Chris and I to let go of him in the pool so he could swim…. He’d sink every time but he desperately wanted to be swimming and thought he could do it completely on his own. They enjoyed jumping off the edge to us too but really liked practicing the things they learned in swimming lessons (kicking, scooping with hands/arms and monkey cheeks). Toward the end of our swimming on that first day MacKay started getting a bit more adventurous ….. maybe it was showing off for Gpa and Gma, but when I would look back to see him on the edge of the pool he wouldn’t be there and I would find him up on the apparatuses trying to catch up with Gpa and/or Oscar for rides down the slides quickly before the bucket would dump again.

After about 5+ hours of pruning up our finger tips in the pools we decided it was time to go dry off and head out for some dinner. We went to Blackwoods which is just across London Road from the hotel where we had to wait in the bar for 30 minutes for our table. The boys were troopers and just drank their Sprites at a high top with us while we adults got to chat and catch up as I hadn’t seen my Dad since last September when they left for AZ for the winter. At one point we looked over and MacKay had his head on the table and I think he had caught a few “Z”s there… poor guy. It was shortly after that we pointed out the train that goes all around the restaurant and they would anxiously wait for it to come back into our room to watch it go by. Finally we got seated … although it was a bummer as our seats didn’t allow us to have ANY view of the trains which the boys were dying to see. So we spent a lot of our “waiting” time taking the boys for a walk around the dining room to see the train when it would come around. But all in all they did really well there and ate pretty decently and were well behaved. We headed back to the hotel around 8:00 (their normal bedtime) where Gpa and Gpa said their good-byes and we took the boys down to the arcade to blow their $10. They loved playing their version of “Whack a Mole”. They earned enough tickets to each get 3 different little plastic insects…. Fly, praying mantis, scorpion, dragon fly, spider etc. We went back to the room to watch a little bit of TV (end of a movie) to wind down and then got the boys ready for bed. They had the hardest time falling asleep and just kept giggling and talking and playing in there while Chris and I cracked a bottle of wine that we had brought along. I don’t think the boys fell asleep until well after 10:30 …. And it was probably only minutes after they were asleep so was I. It was quite the long and eventful day.

The next day we got up and had some quick breakfast and hit the pool again. Same as the day before MacKay was leery of the kids area and the Big Bucket but LOVED going down the big tube slide with us….. and Oscar couldn’t be lured onto the big tube slide but was ALL OVER the kids area, just loving getting doused by the Big Bucket. We ordered up our free pizza and pop for lunch, scarfed that up and then headed back to our room to pack up and check out. We quickly stopped into Canal Park to go see the Aerial Lift Bridge and the Lighthouse which the kids were pretty interested in. The Lift Bridge even went up and down a couple times while we were down there but there was no sign of any boats so we were unsure why it was doing that. Would have been great to catch a big tanker going through, BUT earlier that morning the boys did get to see a big tanker pulling into the bay that just parked outside of the park for the rest of the time we were there.
Since getting back from that trip poor little MacKay has brought up the Big Bucket on numerous occasions as if it were his favorite part of the water park. Like I said, I think it was a love/hate relationship he had with that Big Bucket…. He loved it, was in awe of it, loved watching it…. But it freaked him out to no end as well. I’m hoping the next time we go that it won’t be so novel to him and he’ll be more adventurous. Even in the shower I’ve been dumping water over his head (like we always do to get the shampoo out) but I’ve been associating it to the Big Bucket and making the dinging sound that it made prior to dumping on it… in the hopes that he’ll find more fun in it by the next time we go… which we definitely plan on doing again. It was a great water park and a great experience. And the suites there work perfectly for being able to put the kids to bed and still be able to stay up a bit later. Hoping Evie can accompany us next time too as she would love this place… just needs probably another year before I think it would be worth it for her.

What else…. We took the kids to a local “farm” the other day after their Tuesday ECFE class. 4-5 other parents/families from ECFE accompanied us. It was at the Crow Wing County Fair Grounds and a bunch of 4H kids were there showing their farm animals (rabbits, horses, ponies, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, donkey etc) and the highlight for Oscar… the big John Deere Tractor. I had to practically drag him over to see the animals as all he wanted to do was stare at that tractor. They did a nice job putting this on… all the kids were very informative about the animals they had there and at the end they had this little “scavenger hunt” thing they put on. The kids put on aprons had to go through little mini buildings and do certain things ….. they started out getting feed (corn) in their bucket and then went to the hen house to give some of their feed to the chickens (not real) and gather an egg (again, none of this being real). Another was to feed the house with the sheep in it and gather some wool (they had some divied out in baggies)…. Feed and milk the cows (again fake but very realistic) and gather milk (empty cartons). They picked some vegetation as well as planted etc. And then at the end they had to sort their “crop” or “goods” into the appropriate buckets (as if going to market) and they were “paid” for their goods with some fake money which they used in the store to buy a snack. It was all very cute and well put on. Will definitely have to do that again when they put it on.

Other than all of that, it’s been a bit busy around here with other miscellaneous events. Namely, we FINALLY bought a swing set for the kids. After loafing for too long on this Chris finally did a little research online and found a forum that discussed Rainbow Systems where he found an entry that recommended looking into getting last year’s/floor models from the retailers. So that next morning I called the St. Cloud Rainbow retailer that I’d talked to many times before and asked if they had any of last year’s or floor models available for purchase. Just so happened that they had one that was EXACTLY what we wanted that was both last year’s model as well as their floor model. Because they were willing to give a deal on it (took about $1000 off new price) we were also able to get more features than we were going to be able to afford if we would have bought brand new. We got the upgraded scoop slide we really wanted and a rock wall that we normally wouldn’t have gotten with the budget we were working on. Another bonus… he informed me that last year’s model had a bigger deck on the clubhouse (6’ x 6’) whereas this year’s model is only 5’2” squared. YAY. It will be delivered and assembled this coming Thursday and I am just counting the days. The area it will go in is already dug out and prepped and hopefully on Friday our landscaper will be able to squeeze in putting in all the pea rock around it. Now the only thing I’m looking into is pest control as we’re probably going to be spending QUITE a bit of time outside and on this play set this summer. I was more concerned with Mosquitoes, but then last night at 4am I found a tick crawling around on my leg and I want them all gone. Was looking into Mosquito Squad but now have been given a tip about a natural agent that can be used that is 1/5 the price of Mosquito Squad. So that will be the next thing I tackle once this is all up and running.

I feel the need to quickly touch on Evie as well as so much of this was all about the boys. Like I said before Evie is a little dare devil and wants to be just like her brothers and able to do all the same things they do. Going to local parks makes it difficult as even though I can trust the boys to somewhat take care of themselves, they really want and beg for my attention there… wanting me to go down slides with them, follow them, chase them etc. And I have to devote almost all my time to Evie as she’s not content just playing on the smaller sets, but wants to be up as high as she can go and try out EVERY piece of equipment at the park. She watches her buddies (brothers, Jack & Wyatt, older ECFE kids) doing certain things and just watches with this look like “I can do that…. So let’s see here, I put my foot here and then grab this…” Unnghh. It’s just constant heart palpitations for me during our times at the parks…. She has got quite a few more words and sayings now. The most humorous one to date is her “HEYYYY!” that she does when she thinks she’s been unjustly treated. And she says it with the right inflection and tone… with that undertone of disgust and unfairness etc. I don’t know where she got it as I don’t think I say it THAT often… but it’s cute. I think she’s verging on needing a haircut as well. I’m still holding out that it is going to spike in growth and length over night, but it is now starting to hang over her eyes so even a bang trim would be good at this point. She still refuses to let me do anything with it as well. I’m dying to get some pig tails or barrettes in there but she won’t have it. And she’s even got enough to do something like that with but the minute I even try to put my fingers through it to do anything she gets all upset and swats at me. It’s starting to get curlier in the back now too. Right after a shower her hair is all crazy and curly in the back (top and front is stick straight) … that is until she goes to bed or sits in her car seat where it gets smacked down. And nothing has changed with her attitude and flare… she’s still quite the diva. Yelling back at me one minute and hugging me the next. We’re in trouble with this one.

Well I have about 70 pictures to load up now so let’s get on with the show….. enjoy.

Just some miscellaneous pictures to start it out – a picnic we had in the living room when it wasn’t nice out, Oscar wanting a picture taken of his incredibly bruised knees … AND [drum roll…] our new play system for the kids

Edgewater Water Park – Sun May 15th & Mon May 16th
Oscar and the “Big Bucket” – love the pictures of him waiting for it, preparing to get doused and finally getting doused.

Floating down the lazy river with Daddy – love MacKay’s monkey cheeks in preparation for the water falls

Gpa Gary and Gma Terri helping the boys across the floaties

Swimming with Gma Terri

Swimming (and splashing in MacKay’s case) with Gpa Gary – MacKay made a valiant effort to help clean Gpa Gary’s glasses off after splashing him

Back in the kiddie area sliding with Gpa. Even a few of MacKay squeezing in a quick run down the slide before the Big Bucket tipped yet again… love the monkey cheeks as he nears the end of the water slide

Fun with the water jets/fountains … not sure what comment to make about MacKay here.

Oscar and Gpa Gary, followed by a solo MacKay (with monkey cheeks) going down one of the tube slides in the kiddie area.

Trip to the “Farm”
MacKay and Oscar riding around toy tractors

Evie along for the ride, having a blast being pushed around in her stroller

Oscar and MacKay milking a [fake] cow – yet another task in their scavenger hunt

Making some money at market with their “goods”

The boys and their friends from ECFE – Hailey, Landon, Cole, Taylor, and Braeden

Just some fun outside …. Evie and her golf caddie, Oscar’s impression of “The Flash” (or just Mommy with the wrong shutter speed settings), and MacKay taking Evie for a ‘Gator ride. There is something just sweet about that last picture

MacKay & Oscar’s Preschool Graduation – Thursday May 19th 2011
Their artwork on display

Evie with Daddy and Gpa Dean

Oscar and MacKay during the processional [Pomp & Circumstance]

Taking their place up on the stage with their friends

Getting their diplomas

The traditional cap toss

My Preschool Grads - polar opposites, one annoyed by the tassle, the other obsessed with it

Gma Bonnie, Gpa Dean and Gma Chris with their grandchildren (I don’t have a single picture where EVERYONE is cooperating so these are the best of what I could get)

SUPER SOAKERS – graduation gifts from Gma Bonnie and Gpa Dean
The boys with their Super Soakers – with a couple pictures of the cute shirts they made in their last weeks at preschool with all the names of their friends (and teachers) on the back. The front has thumbprint bees on it (made and decorated by them) with the saying “We’ll always BEE friends!”

MacKay after shooting Oscar with his Super Soaker….. and a very disgusted Oscar trying to get the water out of his hair

Lastly, just some pictures taken just today of Evie right after a shower – proof to the crazy curls she gets.

Come back again soon – the Rainbow play system will be here later this week and I’m sure I’ll have tons of pictures to post of the kids on their new toy.

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