Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Heartiversary, Princess!

5 years ago, how many times have I posted similar words on this day? Those words go hand in hand with the Happy Birthday posts I put up so faithfully every year, remembering an important day in our lives, a day that brought a renewed Samantha to us yet again by repairing the tiny hole in her tiny heart, bringing new energy and strength to that teensy baby and giving her the ability to grow and thrive into the amazing, beautiful, healthy, strong little girl she is today.

We try not to take anything for granted, especially not good health. Our eyes are always wide open, hyper-aware of every breath she takes, every blink of her eyes, every miniscule movement she makes, always watching, inspecting...  But in that awareness, we are ever-appreciative and in awe of each hair, each eyelash, each muscle, each pore, each cell, every last fiber and chromosome that makes Samantha Samantha. And wow, what perfection she embodies! Sunshine, birds, butterflies, rainbows, flowers and unicorns...they have nothing on her.

Thank you so much to Dr. Hougen, Dr. Spray and the whole medical team of CHOP for giving our baby the chance to reach for the stars.  Our gratitude is boundless.

Happy Heartiversary, Princess!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Skankin' with Daddy

Truly wordless?  Nah, not really.  Am I ever truly wordless?  If you ask my husband, my parents or my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Pio, distributor of detentions, the answer would be a resounding NO!!  It's not hard to figure out where Samantha gets her gift of gab from...

Okay, so before you get your knickers in a twist (that's panties to you) about the strange title of the post, here's the Wikipedia definition of skanking:

Skanking is a form of dancing practiced in the ska, ska punk, hardcore punk, reggae, and other music scenes.  The dance style originated in the 1950s or 1960s at Jamaican dance halls, where ska music was played. British mods and skinheads of the 1960s adopted these types of dances and altered them. The dancing style was revived during the 1970s and 1980s 2 Tone era, and has been adopted by some individuals in the hardcore punk subculture, and more recently in the grime and dubstep subcultures.  Originally, skanking consisted of a “running man” motion of the legs to the beat while alternating bent-elbow fist-punches, left and right.  Over time, however, variations have emerged across the musical world. The punk version features a sharp striking out look with the arms, and is sometimes used in moshing to knock around others doing the same.

Steve, having grown up in the English subculture of the 70s and 80s, is well-familiar with ska and skanking.  Here he is giving Samantha a lesson the other night while listening to Madness.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sammi Reads Biscuit

Note:  Please turn your laptop or other computer-like device upside down to watch the first portion of the video below.  An alternative solution is to stand on your head for a few moments, if you're gymnastically-inclined.  My lame, tech-deficient self didn't even think about the fact that I should probably hold my Android in a particular (correct) direction.  But never fear, I eventually got a clue and turned it around.  And my lame, tech-deficient (and tired) self doesn't have the ability to figure out Movie Maker on the fly to fix it right now.  I promise you, though, my mistakes won't diminish the astounding content.

We've been working on reading for nearly a year now, using the So Happy To Learn  program with the esteemed Terry Brown, via e-mail.  Samantha has developed quite a keen interest in trying to read the words, and her knowledge of letter sounds helps her to sound words out (when she actually tries, rather than guesses).  While our genetically-enhanced children are known to be visual learners, Samantha's no exception, and absorbs sight words extremely well.  I love, also, that it seems her Kindy teacher also subscribes to this same method of learning for the whole class.

Samantha went to the library at school yesterday. Samantha took out a book. Nobody read it to her until late in the day when I read it to her...once...before shooting this video.  And this morning, before school, as I prepared her breakfast, she sat in the living room and read it again, on her own.  I listened in, thrilled over her efforts to sound out the words, even more thrilled as she read them correctly.  To say I'm proud is a vast understatement.  And to say we've lavished her with praise over this is another vast understatement.  She knows...



Monday, September 26, 2011

Seriously, My Girl Looks Good in *Anything!*


And if you're still not sure, how about this one?

Oh, how excited I am that it's that time of year again already!  I've finally gotten over the fact that summer is gone, and can now move on to the next few, action-packed, joyous months.  And if you'd like to see just how joyous this little girlie is, this fashionable, crazy-clown face says it all.  At least it matched her shirt.

But in all seriousness, Princess wants to be a pirate this year.  Or a ghost.

Uh, yeah, let's just stick with pirate...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I'm Actually Not Here Today...

...I'm here, honored to have been asked by my brilliant friend, Meriah, to guest post today on Doozeedad, talking about Thin Places.  Thank you, Meriah!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pirate Beer Pong and Other Games of Skill for Children

I had posted recently about Samantha's affinity for playing the video (virtual) drinking game, Chug Monkey when we've gone to pick Steve up over at the local pub from time to time.  The object of that game is to keep the monkey on her bar stool as she chugs beer after beer, cocktail after cocktail.  And, I will admit, Samantha's only objective with that game is to make the monkey fall off of her stool.  

Well, a few new games have taken Chug Monkey's place.  Games that actually require a steady hand and no small amount of blind luck  intense skill.  Games that certainly show off her fine motor skills coupled with deductive reasoning.  Games like Skee Ball, Pirate Beer Pong and Monkey Bash.

I mean, seriously, what could be more intellectually stimulating than a game where a clown uses a baseball bat to clock the monkey jumping on a trampoline, whacking him clear up into the air, across screen after screen until he finally crashes into a barrel on the ground?  And in response, the monkey just shakes himself off, grins sheepishly and gives a thumbs up to let you know he's okay.  Just in case you were worried...

Personally, I think the best part of watching Samantha play the games on that machine in the bar is watching her type her name into the high-score screen using the touch-screen keyboard (they wipe the machine's memory every few days, so high scores aren't hard to come by).  If her finger slips off of one of the letters, she hits the backspace like an old pro, and starts again.  S - A - M - M - I she writes.  Love it.

Steve and I bought Droids a few weeks ago.  The deal we got from Verizon was pretty one get one free, a $50 credit on my account because we were renewing the contracts with them that we've had for, like, forever, and a $100 rebate if we send one of our old phones back in.  That added up to...get this...two Droids for $50.  You seriously can't do much better than that, I think.  And we love them.  And I received, as a result, some very, very valuable education:

I now know what an App is

As a devoutly anti "i" anything (phone, pad, mac, whatever) couple, these Droids are seriously freaking cool.  The battery life sucks beyond belief, but being able to download free educational apps that Samantha can play with and learn from is worth every minute of racing against the clock, daring it to just shut down, defying each angry, urgent little warning beep.

We've officially graduated from phones of average intelligence to real, live smart phones!  And, as usual, we justify every foray into technological advancement by saying it'll benefit Samantha.  Yep, that's right.  And I'm going to prove it.  :-)

By the way, I'm writing this while watching the premiere the X Factor.  Not bad.  But I'm about to hit the hay, as I have a 5am date with a treadmill at the gym.  See you all again in a few days!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Time Becomes the Needle in the Haystack

While Kindergarten is a truly wonderful, wonderful thing (seriously, I think you'll be getting weekly updates consisting of nothing more than me gushing about how wonderful it is!), it has definitely curbed my ability to blog.  Not like I'm being presumptious and saying that I have an ability to blog, or something even resembling an "ability"...  I'm actually referring to my brief, yet very productive time to blog.  Gone is my quiet breakfast hour.  Actually, gone is my breakfast completely for that matter.  I just grab a packet of instant oatmeal (ooh, remind me to tell you one of these days which brand is the BEST, BEST, BEST, EVER, if you like oatmeal!!) on my way out the door to heat in the microwave at work. 

Now how, exactly, has Kindergarten robbed me of this guilty pleasure?  Robbed is an unfair word.  It is a new guilty pleasure that has replaced my blog/breakfast time.  It is the absolute joy I get from walking my princess to school. 

Even in the rain. 

Oh, how glad I am that I don't have to wave goodbye to her on the bus anymore.  I remember, at our last IEP meeting in the spring, how excited I was at the thought of making that journey down the block, over the bridge, and across the playground with Samantha. 

My big girl. 

Being able, finally, to watch her enter the classroom, take off her backpack and jacket, do all of those boring morning routine things that are anything but boring to me.  To me, they're like candy and ice cream and rainbows, all filling me from top to bottom, swelling my heart until it might burst as I give her a kiss and a hug then back slowly out the door, watching her glide seamlessly, elegantly, beautifully into her rightful place among her peers.

It is so worth the time missed tapping out my thoughts while inhaling a bowl of raisin bran in the short 1/2 hour I used to have.  I couldn't have asked for a better gift to now grace my mornings.

So, now, back to the issue of time...  I suspect you may be seeing a little bit less of me here these days.  Even getting a status update or two on Facebook has become a rarity lately.  While I will try to rise to the occasion of October's 31 for 21 celebration challenge, blogging at least something daily (I apologize in advance for whatever may splatter itself across your screen), I can acknowledge already that it will be a stretch.  If I weren't such a TV addict, I could blog at night, but a new primetime season coupled with a dinnertime of 8pm and a personal bedtime goal of 10pm doesn't leave much wiggle room...

 But who knows?  I may just surprise myself and find that elusive needle after all.

(For your viewing pleasure, here are two leftover vacation photos, taken in Charleston...)

Monday, September 19, 2011

A New Year, A New Calendar

I have just completed, for the fourth year in a row, pulling together the wall calendar for the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia.  I had the help of a team of amazing volunteer professional photographers and even more amazing models who each sported that little extra something that makes them so special.  It was not without it's hiccups and setbacks, but I'm very pleased with the result, and send out a very, very sincere Thank You to all of those wonderful people who participated.

The file is with the printer now, and the finished product should be on my doorstep within a week or two, in plenty of time to be purchased at the October 15th Buddy Walk.  The DSANV website will also be updated at that time for purchases using Paypal.  Just a note...the Paypal link will only allow you to make purchases in quantities of one (1), as it adds shipping to each calendar individually.  If you would like to purchase quantity, please contact me and I will give you the address to which to send a check, as well as the amount (including the shipping cost for mailing multiple units together). 

In the meantime, here's a random sneak peek...





Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where Does She Get This Stuff?? (and a winner!)

(First order of business today - we have a winner in the Betty Crocker Molasses Cookies giveaway!  Lisa, Cate's mommy, please e-mail me at with your full name, address and telephone number, and your prize pack will be on its way!)

My little ham.  So many faces, so much attitude.  All beautiful, all the time.  Btw, the second-to-last photo was in response to me asking her to show me her eyes, as she's so often purposefully not looking at the camera.  All to spite me, I'm sure. 

Silliness just screams joy.  Mother Teresa once said, "Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.

She has certainly caught mine. 

Especially after that little display of feistiness...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kindy Update: In Pursuit of Smiley Faces

As we near the end of Samantha's 3rd week in Kindergarten, we've been so pleased and amazed with how well the transition has been.  I honestly don't think we could have had a better situation, apart from a full-day Kindy, which, sadly, doesn't exist in our county. 

Samantha had some brief resistance on Day 1, but after that has made herself quite at home, absorbing and following the routine, and working so, so hard in her 1 on 1 time with the resource teacher after class ends.  I'm starting to think that having that much academic instruction crammed into a 3-hour period is actually good for her, keeping her on-task and in-focus.  Samantha talks about her teachers, but doesn't mention the other children.  I suspect this is a slightly negative by-product of that environment, though - the children are working, listening to the instruction, with little time to socialize.  But my little social child is good with that for now, and will, with a little bit of time, eventually get to know some of them, I'm sure.  And can I just say what a total joy it is every morning for me to walk her to class and stand back to watch her remove her backpack, unzip it, take out her folder, re-zip the bag, hang it up, put the folder in the basket for the teacher, get her scissors or crayons, and sit down to do the morning activity?  I'm lucky to get a kiss and a hug goodbye somewhere in the middle of this, although I strategically place myself near the folder basket... 

Communication between the teachers and us has been wonderful.  I read on someone's blog or FB wall or somewhere (maybe Babycenter?  Oh, so many social networking outlets, so little time...) yesterday that someone's teachers didn't send home a communication paper with their child each day now that the child was in Kindergarten.  And when she asked the teacher about it, the teacher got defensive and almost nasty, saying that she just doesn't have time for that.  I'm not sure exactly who is writing our notes, but it's either the teacher's aide or Samantha's 1:1 aide who is accompanying her in the classroom for the time being.  And the notes are detailed, explaining everything that they did at school that day, even down to the instructional videos they watched.  How fantastic it was for me to be able to ask Samantha about the video they watched about caring for books at the library on Monday!  This communication tool really provides a valuable ongoing teaching/learning experience for Samantha at home.

About the smiley faces...the children get a daily chart, with listed tasks and activities, and if they follow directions and listen, they get a smiley face sticker for each one.  One of Samantha's predominant flaws is that the more comfortable she becomes with her environment, the sillier and more resistant she becomes.  Last Thursday, the report came home that out of seven opportunities to receive smiley faces, Samantha got...wait for it...two.  What?  They said she was particularly stubborn that day.  Now I guess I could view that in a positive light and say, well, at least she's comfortable and isn't completely shutting down as she has done in the past.  We knew we had to crack down quickly to change the behavior.  Steve talked to her on their walk home from school.  Explained to her how important it is to listen to the teacher and that he knew she'd only received two smiley faces.  Her bottom lip quivered, but she held it together, knowing she'd been wrong.  Oh yes, my girl knows when she did something she knew full well she shouldn't have done...  The next morning, during my treasured time with her on our walk to school, the conversation went like this:

Me:  "Samantha, who do you have to listen to today?"
Samantha (exasperated):  "The teachers!  I know, I know, Mommy!"

On Friday, the feedback from the teachers was we don't know what you said to her, but she did great today!  All smiley faces!   

I feel so fortunate that things seem to be flowing efficiently, smoothly, like silent cogs in a well-oiled machine. 

SO fortunate to have the support of all of Samantha's teachers and the rest of the school administration.  I know we're lucky, that not everyone has this experience.  I hope it continues like this for us, and I hope that those who don't have it can hold their ground and push through and work with their schools to find the happy medium that provides this level of support and communication.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Belated Vacation Pics!!!

(Quick note - if you haven't done so already, please read yesterday's post for a) some cute pics, and b) a chance to win some fun and delicious baking stuff!)

As I find customary for so many of us bloggers once we get back to the rigid constraints of real-life-after-vacation, vacation photos are not so forthcoming.  The first few days back the stories start to tumble out, enhanced by a few illustrative snapshots, but the bulk of the pictures that mark the memories of that amazing time sit and wait until there's time to edit them. 

Which could take forever in some cases. 

I finally lit the fire under my own behind and sat down to the task, so now you are duly graced with what we all call vacation photo overload.  I'll drop a few words in here and there to explain what you're looking at, if you honestly, really care...or if you at least want to pretend you do...  Come on, humor me.

I bought a new fat-covering bathing suit before we left, tired of the photos of rolls of ick floating around my middle at the beach.  It worked pretty well, I think, but the two words black and swimdress, especially when used together, would have to work, right?  Oh, and let me tell you, what's going on underneath the dress part is seriously sucking the life out of me.  It's like this spandex wet suit, designed to prevent quick trips to the bathroom without a crowbar to get it off.  TMI?  I don't think so...just a warning to those of you considering such a sleek contraption.

So, I've seen other people do these sand captions in their vacation photos before, and thought I'd give it a try.  And my hastily-drawn results were, uh, lame.  But I thought it was a cute photo of our little camp anyway, Samantha pointing at the camera and laughing at me for attempting such folly.

For the most part, we never went down to the beach during the height of the afternoon.  Morning was so much more peaceful and we could allow the sun to gently, gradually, darken our skin through our 50-sunblock as it rose higher into the sky.  On the day in the photo below, Samantha and I went down to the beach at 4pm after having been out and about all day.  It was blisteringly hot, and we wanted nothing more than to run straight into the bath-warm water, but a passing storm made the pounding surf and strong undertow too dangerous to attempt.  To deter Samantha, I told her that the ocean was angry and it wasn't safe to go into the water.  Fortunately, she accepted that, and things were calmer the next morning when we returned.

A very brief day trip to Savannah, marked by SuperCrankyGirl and a torrential rain storm, gave us a quick look at the waterfront and it's ancient, steep stone steps and neck-breaking cobblestone streets.  This pirate may have been the highlight, though, at least for one of us...  I can't remember what I did with the fortune card that popped out, though, but who cares, right?

Samantha also took the opportunity to make a new friend.  He's a little stiff, though, don't you think?  I think she can do better, although he does look like he's actually hugging her in the bottom photo.  She loves this kind of stuff, as most children do at this age.  Or maybe that was just me...

On the day Samantha lost her tooth, Steve, Samantha and I paid a visit to Jeckyll Island, which neighbors St. Simons, where we were staying.  I know there's a lot of history there to discover and photograph, but SuperCrankyGirl made her appearance and kept our visit short, so we settled for a walk out onto a pier and a drive all the way around the teeny tiny island.  Also, with the return of the children to school in Georgia and the official end of summer coming that week for that area (uh, it was only August 22nd!  How is that the end of summer?), there wasn't much going on, and we felt like we were just about the only people on the island.

Except for the pelicans.

Eventually a 3rd pelican arrived and displaced the seagulls in the photo below.  It was so amazing to see them so close up, flying in and having a nice rest in the sun, or actually sleeping, as in the photo above.  I didn't realize it was real until it moved very slightly.

My cousin was so gracious to offer us his vacation house on St. Simons.  It's been completely renovated and is rarely used, and was absolutely perfect.  Loads of room, all the comforts of home.  The neighbors were friendly and looked in on us from time to time, as well.  Oh, and this little guy greeted us when What a welcome wagon!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Leaving Being Betty Crocker to Betty Crocker (plus a giveaway!!)

I'm a really lazy cook.  I think that's why Steve doesn't really allow me to cook anything.  I'm impatient and can't be bothered to follow directions or measure out ingredients for a recipe.  So maybe I'm not really lazy, but just subscribe more to that old-fashioned practice of just a pinch of this and a pinch of that.  Yeah, that's it.  What I said.

The older Samantha gets, the easier and more fun it is to get her involved in helping out with things, like baking.  She loves to stir and pour, but has my own patience deficiency (oh, you say it's the nature of a 5-year old, I say she gets it from me...), and I often lose her halfway through.  

Betty Crocker has just come out with this fantastic cookie mix, perfect for short attention spans and the need for near-immediate gratification.  And even more perfect for involving little ones.  First of all, who can resist molasses cookies?  Second, who can resist a 20-minute-start-to-finish recipe for freshly-baked cookies?  Not us!

Samantha and I set to the task, and she was only too happy to help.  And me, being the impatient cook that I am, didn't let the butter soften quite enough, and knew that I'd really be putting this mix to the test.  If it could still turn out right when I didn't follow the instructions, then it was definitely the right thing for me!

Spinning, spinning...

Don't worry, this isn't all it made...this is the nearly-empty bowl after the first batch was already on the sheet.  

The recipe makes 3 dozen cookies if you use a teaspoon.  We used a teaspoon, but perhaps rounded them a bit too much.  Besides, I prefer bigger cookies anyway!

I was shocked, Samantha actually sat in front of the oven and patiently waited the entire 10 minutes they took to bake!

We demolished a fair number of them right out of the oven.  

Omg, sooooooo good...

And now for the giveaway part!  For all of you, here's a .75 coupon for the purchase of Betty Crocker's Molasses Cookie Mix.  Also, Betty Crocker has teamed up with MyBlogSpark to provide me and one of my readers the gift pack in the photo below.  Let me just tell you, these are awesome items, all used in the making of the cookies above (I was wearing the red apron, so there are no photos of that) not the least of which is that pack of cookie mix. 

There are 2 chances for each of you to win - first, please tell me what you plan to do with the time you save by making Betty Crocker's Molasses Cookies this fall.  Second, please "like" Betty Crocker's Facebook page and let me know in a separate comment.  I will select the winner randomly on Wednesday.

Good luck, and enjoy!  These are seriously yummy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Candied Bacon Ice Cream??

Before we left for our trip, I vowed to eat my way through the south.  I love so many aspects of southern food, from barbecue to gumbo, and I had done a bit of plotting before we left to see what kinds of dining options we'd have on the Island. 

In reality, however, we didn't eat out all that much, and when we did we certainly tried to keep it cost-effective.  Funny how we ended up in not one, but two places that had been featured in Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Southern Soul BBQ in St. Simons, and Penguin in Charlotte, NC.  Southern Soul had amazing bbq, and some seriously kick-butt fried green beans (I think these may have been the only vegetable Samantha ate all week...), and Penguin had its famous fried pickles, recommended by my blog pal, Meriah.  Delicious!!  Steve refused to try the pickles (or the green beans, for that matter), and Samantha immediately turned her nose up at the pickels, saying, "Yuck!"  I did manage to con her into eating two of them before she decided, once again, that they were "yucky."  Ahhhh, children...

Another location of good eats on our trip was Zuzu's on the Island, where I had a burger topped with fried green tomatoes, and a side of sweet potato fries (oh yeah, Samantha ate those, too). 

On our last night in Georgia, we decided to vary a bit from our usual visit to Dairy Queen, and stopped by the tiny and eclectic-looking shop called Moo Cow.  Expecting your traditional hard-ice cream options, we were in for a bit of a surprise when we were greeted first with a case containing such dairy delicacies as Gorgonzola, Sweet Corn and Blueberry-Brie-Peppercorn flavored ice cream.  Especially shocking was the Candied Bacon flavor.  Knowing that I wouldn't be able to handle the weight of my conscience if I didn't do it, I had to sample the Gorgonzola (mmmm...surprisingly not bad!) and the Candied Bacon (ewwww, gross!  Nothing like chewy bits of bacon in your ice cream...yuck...), but eventually settled on a more traditional Salted Caramel (yum!).  I selected Strawberry Buttermilk for Samantha (chocolate and vanilla were conspicuously absent), and Steve abstained altogether, a bit disappointed that he couldn't get his frozen slushy drink from DQ.  I did discover, however, that Samantha's palate is pretty much limited to soft serve, so after a few bites, she proclaimed her loud, "yuck!", accompanied by her soon-to-be-trademarked squinching of the face, and pushed her dish away.  I offered to trade with her.  A few bites of my ice cream elicited the same response from her.  Impossible, I know.

Certainly notmykid...

And speaking of my kid and completely unrelated to this post, here's a quick pic from yesterday of Samantha Puddleduck.  We've been feeling a bit waterlogged the last few days with all of the rain from what's left of Tropical Storm Whatshisname, but at least one of us is outfitted for it!  Sadly I couldn't get a photo outside with her adorable Dora umbrella up, walking to school because it was raining a bit too hard to risk damaging the camera.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Budding Artist

I posted these two images on Facebook a few weeks ago, in real time, as we were driving (don't worry, I wasn't behind the wheel...).  Samantha, ever the amazing long-distance trooper, was doodling on her mini-Magna Doodle that Wednesday while we were on vacation, from the back seat.  She tapped me on the shoulder and handed the pad to me, saying, "Look, Mommy, a mouse!"  I was pretty taken aback by the details, but noticed one glaring error.  "Where's the tail?" I asked.  "Oops, sorry, the tail - I forgot!" she responded, and promptly took it back, drew for a second and handed it back in its completed form below. 

Seriously, I was floored.  She hasn't drawn anything for me in ages, and I was starting to worry that she would be scribbling forever.  I don't know what she was eating/drinking/taking that day, but sheesh, that was pretty awesome!  And any subsequent versions of the mouse were never quite like that one.  I'm just feeling glad that I caught it on camera.

Fast-forward 3 days to Saturday, as we neared the end of our journey home from Georgia, and, accompanying the tap tap on my shoulder from the back seat, Sammi said, "Look, Mommy, a butterfly!", handing me the picture below.  Again, floored.  While it looks like a perfect butterfly in silhouette, I think it was actually a head-on attempt that may be missing a wing or something.  I'm really not sure, but dang if it doesn't look like a butterfly, with it's long body!  Again, I don't know what she was eating/drinking/taking that day, but I love her new-found inner artist.  I hope it sticks around!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Last Gasp of Summer

One final day of hot, sticky, 90+ degree weather before we throw open the windows and turn off the AC. Labor Day, typically marking the official end of summer and the end of the wearing of all things white (okay, well, shoes and pants at least...) was a rainy wash-out, but we'd had enough advance warning to know we had to really live it up the day before. 

While we were at the beach, we bought a kite.  Our very first kite.  Steve had played with them when he was younger, but I had absolutely no experience with them.  I'm not sure exactly what it is that children and adults alike find so fascinating about them, but other than the fact that they're not easy to fly, I think it's got to be the care free way they float so effortlessly through the air, catching currents, dipping and turning, their colorful tails blazing a trail behind them.

There was a little bit of a breeze on Saturday, so we took the kite out into the school yard.  By the way, if I haven't said it before, I love living behind the school, for so, so, so many great reasons!!

The dress Sammi is wearing was a size 3 from the Gap that we've now gotten 2 years out of!  I love that you can just put a pair of shorts under it and she can still wear it comfortably, especially since it's one of my favorites.  :-)

The look on her face says it all.  Pure anticipation.

Again, the look on her face says it all.  Pure excitement.

And once again, here and in the photo below, the look on her face says it all.  Pure joy.

She soon lost interest in the kite when there wasn't enough of a breeze to keep it airborne.

To further cap off the end of the season, I deflated the backyard kiddie pool after successfully dodging the creepy crawlies that had taken up residence underneath and in the rain puddles that filled the sagging crevices.  One particularly HUGE black spider eyed me carefully from his evacuation point, eyed right back by me, cautious not to get too close or brush against him...ooh shivering as I type this...

And in a bittersweet end to the day, the annual Labor Day gathering on the grassy corner at the end of my street of the residents of our block, playing games, cooking out, enjoying each other's company.  Bittersweet because three of those families are about to move, three families we have truly enjoyed getting to know over the last 2 1/2 years, three families we will definitely miss.  New season, new neighbors, new day coming.  Not bad, I don't think, just different.