Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kindergarten is a blast!

When you are a mom, the days pass by slowly sometimes, but the years just fly by.   We celebrated a bittersweet milestone today when Rylan started kindergarten. I am so thankful he got into our first choice of schools and his new teacher seems very nice, so it was really a very joyful day.  Neither of us cried today, I had my weepy moments already in anticipation of the day.  I was really glad to have all the first day jitters and some of the carpool questions behind us.  It will be great when we can settle in to a new routine.
At pick-up, Rylan was full of excitement and funny stories. "Mom," he said, "Trust me, kindergarten is a blast!"  He was quite horrified that one girl didn't follow the rules and evidently had to visit the principal.  He also told me about the "high-tech security guard that talked from a box in the ceiling"  (the principal giving morning announcements over the intercom).

Very similar to our preschool picture last year.  They can be so sweet to each other.
Love this one.
My big kindergartner.
The Clarke men.

It is like pulling teeth to take pictures of my kids these days. However, I was not going to forgo the first day of kindergarten pictures for any amount of attitude.  They are just too important!
We coaxed a bit of a smile out of him.
First coloring assignment.  Coloring has never been one of Rylan's favorite things, but he was a good sport about it.
At his desk and all ready for his first day.
Brand new sharp crayons make coloring a bit more bearable.

Grammy's visit Summer 2012

Charlton's mom visited us for a few days this past week. It is always fun to spend time with her and we enjoyed going out to dinner, swimming, shopping, going to the park and karate, and just hanging out together. The kids were not terribly cooperative with taking pictures, but we got a few good ones.
Grammy was a good sport about swinging with Caroline.
Caroline was getting tired and cranky and did not want to take a picture at all. I was thankful she didn't throw a royal fit and end up in the water behind the gazebo.
Another attempt to get a  picture of Grammy with her grandchildren. Not perfect, but definitely lots of love being shared.

Pirates Cove

A few weekends ago we redeemed a groupon for a fun little water park in Denver. It was hot and crowded, but we had a memorable family day. I think our favorite part was riding in tubes in the lazy river. We went back twice and stayed in for several laps. Caroline had to ride with me or Charlton, but Rylan was just barely big enough to man his own tube. He was so little his rear end sunk way down into the hole and his legs stuck up like tooth picks, but he had a huge grin on his face the whole time. The sand pit was a close second favorite and the only place I took pictures because I didn't want to ruin my camera.
This is the closest thing these Colorado kids get to experiencing a real beach. Hopefully we can remedy that in a few years.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cell phone potpourri

Here are some of my favorite pictures just uploaded from my cell phone.

Taking your brother to karate is way more fun when you can wear your Rapunzel dress.
 Rylan got to keep Ollie, a stuffed elephant for a couple days as a part of a preschool project.  We wrote a short summary of our adventures which included a trip to the park. 
 A good hair day indeed.

 A good hair day for Caroline, too.  Our part was a bit crooked, but those braids looked so cute!

 What a charmer!
 A pic from our trip to KY in March.  Those costumes used to belong to my brothers and sisters.  They have been well worn and loved.

 Why yes, mom, I fixed my hair all by myself. Why do you ask?

 Sleeping beauty.

 Summer hair cut time.  I was sad to see it go, but it looks much neater now and is so much easier to care for with all our swimming. Caroline loves to twist her hair while she sucks her thumb so she was a little alarmed the first time she reached for a fistful of hair and there was nothing there! 

 Painting project gone wild.

 My grocery helpers always keep life interesting.  They love their new goggles.

On the way to church in their cute new outfits from Grammy.  Love Caroline's cute shoes.

4th of July

We spent 4th of July morning as a family at Fox Run park, one of my absolute favorite places in town. Bethany and Brett were in town for a few days so it was extra special to see them, too. I wanted to get a picture of all of us together, but totally forgot until we had left. What a bummer. We had a fireworks ban because of the high wild fire danger, and I had to work that night, so we had a very low key day after the park.
Mom reminded me of this dress I had made Caroline 2 years ago.  I brought it out for Caroline and you would have thought it was brand new, sparkly and covered with glitter and sequins they way she exclaimed over it. It was so sweet. Of course, the dress is now more like a tunic, but girls clothes are nice that way because you can just add some bottoms and you've got an outfit.

Look, no hands!
Sorry, Bethany, I didn't get a picture of you, but I did get one of  Brett. I guess you know where you really stand now. Since Hailey wasn't terribly cooperative, Caroline took Brett for a walk.  She is quite smitten and he is very patient with her.

Rylan is really interested in monster trucks now.  He found a friend at the park and they raced their trucks up the slide.
If you look carefully at Rylan's hand, you might be able to see "Goldie", the minnow Charlton caught for Rylan.  Goldie was very slow and tame and didn't protest much when Rylan tried to hold him. We tried to explain that fish don't like to be held, but Rylan was so excited he had a hard time understanding.  We did convince him to let Goldie stay at the pond with his friends, so hopefully the poor little guy will live to see another day.
My all-American kids. So very thankful for them.

The "girl"

Meet our newest member of the family, Hailey, or as Caroline calls her, "the girl" or "girlie". We have wanted to get another collie for a while now that the kids are older and their love for animals is growing. After lots of searching for breeders, at the humane society and collie rescue, we finally found Hailey. She will be one on July 17th and is a smooth collie. We got a great deal on her because she is too small to show, actually only 28 lbs when we got her. She gained 3 lbs in one week, but probably won't grow to be much more than 35 lbs, very small for a collie.  I think she is a great combo of the collie personality with the small size and short hair. She is definitely a puppy with lots of energy and mischief, but we are having so much fun with her. She is also pretty smart and I am enjoying dusting off the cobwebs on my dog-training knowledge. She already knows how to sit and is gradually learning lots of other commands. We enjoy taking her to the park and on long walks with us.

On our way home from Denver.  We waited a long week and and a very long day to finally meet Hailey and take her home. 
 Caroline loves walking Hailey on the leash. I think she loves having something to boss around since she has been the little sister her whole life.

 Rylan and Hailey cuddling during story time.  He would love to have her in his bed if he didn't sleep on the top bunk.
 Enjoying the 4th of July at Fox Run.
 Our first trip to Fox Run after having Hailey for just a few days.  She will wade a bit in the water, but doesn't love to swim.

Poor girl went into heat last week before we could get her spayed.  She has had to stay outside because of the spotting that goes along with that and the whole ordeal is no fun for anyone.  She has her spay appointment on Tuesday and I will be so glad when the surgery and recovery is over and we can all get settled back to normal.

Waldo Canyon fire

Towards the end of June, we had a week of record-breaking temps over 100 and very low humidity. Our forests were already dangerously dry after a warm winter with below average snowfall. We had been warned about the fire season, but had no idea just how terrible things could get so close to home.
The Waldo Canyon fire started June 22 or 23 in the mountains just west of Colorado springs. We were in Denver for the weekend and could see the smoke as we drove home on Saturday. On Sunday, the column was noticeably more visible when I went to the library.
The fire continued to grow and on Tuesday afternoon, the 26th, we had winds gusting to 40-50 mph, 100 degree temps, and single digit humidity. The smoke column started to blow towards our house, way on the east side of Colorado Springs. At 4:00 in the afternoon, the sky turned dark and the sunlight glowed red. Even with all the windows closed, the smell of smoke was overpowering.
I was scheduled to work that night and the stench of smoke in the hospital was so strong, I fought headaches all night. The entire west side of town was being evacuated and the 24 hour news coverage had started. We knew the fire must have spread much farther east into Colorado Springs, but we had no idea how bad it was yet. Many of my co-workers had evacuated and worried their homes were in the path of the fire.  The hospital called a code grey in preparation for mass casualties and we weren't sure if we would be allowed to leave at the end of our shift. It was the scariest and most helpless feeling I can ever remember having.  
Just before sunset, all you could see was smoke.  After dark, we could see flames all along the foothills, some little pinpoints of light that were probably homes burning. We have these huge windows along the west side of our NICU and normally the view is breathtaking, but that night it was heartbreaking to look out and imagine the destruction that was taking place. That night almost 350 homes were burned, 2 people died, and in total, the fire burned about 18,000 acres.  
Here is the same view taken from a hospital window this week, after the fire just became 100% contained. The darker shading on the foothills to the right is not a shadow from the clouds, but the burn scar from the fire.  It will be a reminder for a long, long time to come of that horrible night.  In my life, I have experienced hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, hail storms, and flooding, but that was definitely the worst natural disaster I have lived through.  Our home was never in danger, but we knew many friends who were evacuated and one of my co-workers lost her home.  It was a sobering reminder to appreciate the truly important things in life, to support one another in our community, and thank all the firefighters, police, and others who risked their lives to protect our city.

June hailstorm

We have had the craziest weather this summer. In June, we had the hailstorm of a century. It rained hard for about 2 hours and about an hour of that was hail. We didn't have accumulation of hail at our house, but in the southern part of town they had severe flash flooding and the waters left behind foot-tall hail glaciers in people's yards. The next night we had less rain, but much larger hail, about ping pong ball size. My poor plants took a beating, but amazingly they are surviving.