Monday, May 2, 2016

in appreciation

Over the years, as I've considered what I want to do with my life besides stay home with my sweet babies (who suddenly aren't babies anymore) I spent a brief time thinking about becoming a teacher. I have always loved science in general and biology in particular and thought I would enjoy working with high school students. But then I stopped for a minute and really thought about it, and realized that I would never be a good teacher. I love my children, and I like others people's kids well enough, but not enough to spend five days a week, nine months out of the year with them. It's just not my thing. 

Knowing my inabilities and shortcomings when it comes to teaching kids, I am that much more thankful for the amazing teachers, staff, principles, and leaders of my children's schools. Ever year since Tommy started preschool, we have seriously hit the jackpot on teachers. They've been the sweetest, most patient and supportive group of women and men, and I really couldn't have asked for better. Having a great teacher is truly a blessing as I (and I'm sure you as well) know from experience over the years that I was in school. I have several teachers that immediately come to mind that I really loved: Mrs. Freeburg (3rd grade), Mr. Behrenshausen (4th and 5th grade PE and high school softball coach), Mrs. Jenkins (8th grade English), Mrs. Hench (11th grade English), Frau Dete (high school German), Mr. Rohrer (high school band), and Mr. Strine (9th and 12th grade Biology 1 and 2). They loved their subjects and really cared about all of us as students, letting us know that even though we were kids, our thoughts and ideas were important. I also learned a lot about hard work and always trying my best, two things that I continually talk about with my own kids.

This year, as teacher appreciation week starts today, I'm feeling especially thankful for Tommy and Annabel's teachers. They have both learned a ton so far this year and have had a really good time doing it, which is absolutely just as important in my mind. Fortunately for me, my schedule allows me to be at school quite a bit with both of them, and as I stood at the Elementary school track last Friday with Annabel on my shoulders while we watched the principal and two teachers take MULTIPLE pies to the face (the kids had far surpassed their goal for the mini Relay for Life that was a part of Field Day this year and throwing pies at teachers was their prize), I had an overwhelming feeling that we, as a family, are exactly where we're supposed to be. Interestingly, I've actually had that same thought on several occasions recently including once at our church that we absolutely love, another time as I walked with a neighbor through our beautiful neighborhood, at our most recent small group meeting, and also as I sat on a back patio with an amazing group of women in front of a cozy fire and a table full of delicious food at book club. This last and hopefully final move that we made almost two years ago to our new town and neighborhood and school division and church was a big decision for us, and I know now, for sure, that we chose wisely. Let me tell you, that is a really, really great feeling.

Will and I are incredibly thankful for Ms. Brooke, Miss Trimmer, and Mr. Schott (and Ms. Sarah and Ms. Sarah and Mr. Sulzer) as they have really done an amazing job with our kids this year in Pre-K and 3rd grade. I can't imagine better, more caring or thoughtful people to teach our children not only academics, but also about being kind and hard working and always trying their best. It's been a great year and we really do appreciate everything our teachers have done

If you get a chance, consider sending a note or picking up a gift card for a great teacher in your life. They sacrifice so much time and money and energy for our kids. It's always a good idea to say thank you.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Insta-Wednesday: Current wardrobe staple

I wandered into Athleta a few months ago and found these really comfortable pants. I LOVE them and they're perfect for these early spring days when the mornings are cool and the afternoons warm up.

 First off I have to say, pregnancy is not my friend and I can't actually believe I am posting a picture of my almost 30 week pregnant self on the internet BUT for the love of the blog, here is my recommendation to you if you are expecting now or in the future.  Buy yourself a couple nice black t-shirts and call it a day.  I hate investing in clothes that will only fit me for a few months but of course, the time comes when you need to get something.  I found this black shirt at H&M when I was about 20 weeks and have worn it multiple times a week ever since...and I plan to continue wearing it multiple times a week until July.  It cost me about 6 bucks and I got a large so that it would stretch right along with me.  

xo Dana

Monday, April 25, 2016

Disney Part 2

After checking out all the princesses and riding carousels and walking through castles, Tommy was definitely ready to move onto his two favorite things: Star Wars and Harry Potter. On Sunday we spent the entire day at Hollywood Studios, arriving long before they opened the park so Tommy and Will could get in line for the Jedi Academy. Only 600 kids get to participate each day and we wanted to make sure that Tommy was one of them. While we waited in line that morning, I quizzed him on multiplication facts and spelling words to help pass the time. He was so excited to become a Jedi that he didn't even fight me on the study time.

 Robed and ready to become a Jedi!

 The parade of future Jedi's to the testing stage.

 The kids each got to fight either Darth Vader or a sith. (Just FYI, I don't really know what a sith is, but Tommy and Will were excited.)

The force is strong in this one. Tommy made an excellent Jedi!

 After Jedi training, we headed over to see the Indiana Jones show. So cool.

 After we did everything we wanted to do at Hollywood studios, we ended the night by packing up and heading over to a new hotel. We started our trip at the Coronado Resort, but since Will had a conference at the Gaylord Palms Hotel at the end of the week, we were able to stay there for free for two nights. Yes, please. The Gaylord is an unbelievably beautiful hotel and we really wished we could have just hung out there by the pool for an entire day.

 Our last day was spent at Universal Studios. Watch out for Jaws!

 I was excited for Disney, but I was BEYOND THRILLED to get to go to Harry Potter World at Universal with Tommy since we've been reading the books (we just started book 4 when we got back). It was just like walking onto the set of the movie. Awesome.

 Fred and George's joke shop.

 Gringott's bank, complete with fire-breathing (for would breathe actual fire every 10 minutes or so) dragon on top.

 Picking wands at Ollivander's was definitely a highlight.


 It's hard for me to imagine a drink further outside my approved diet plan than this frozen butterbeer, but man was it ever worth the risk! So good. 

 Lunch at the Leaky Cauldron. I had a "banger sandwich."

 Through the brick wall into Diagon Alley.

 After lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, we headed to King's Cross to catch the train to Hogwarts. Watch out for Dementors!

 Hogwarts Express!

 The castle was so cool but we wished we could go in and walk around. There's a roller coaster in there but the kids weren't too into those this time around. Next time for sure. Tommy loved every bit of Harry Potter World just as much as I did!

 After Harry Potter, we headed into the Doctor Seuss section. Annabel loved the carousel.

 She and Will also rode this One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish ride while Tommy and I ate a snack.

 Once we walked through Jurassic Park and through the superhero land, we headed back out to the front of the park to wait for our ride. While we waited, we decided to putt. I was ON FIRE and crushed Will.

 Although I asked to change our flights to Wednesday so we could spend all day Tuesday by the pool, our tickets were non-transferable so we had to head to the airport at 11am Tuesday morning. That didn't stop us from spending three hours by the pool on Monday night and then another hour before we left on Tuesday. What a beautiful hotel! We will definitely plan to tag along on another conference week sometime soon.

So that was our trip to Disney! We had a ton of fun and are considering a return trip several years from now when the kids are a little older and we can try out some of the bigger stuff. We'll see. It's quite the commitment money- and time-wise since it definitely makes sense to go in the spring when Will goes down for his yearly conference. We'd better start saving up now $$$! 

Hope you're having a great week so far! We're getting pretty busy now that the end of the school year and all those last minute activities and performances and field days and carnivals are being thrown into the scheduling mix along with the sports and dance and scouts we're already doing. I'm starting to get excited about summer vacation and NO SCHEDULES for a few months! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Disney Part 1

You guys, we had such a great time at Disney last weekend! I have a million pictures so I thought I would break them up into two different posts, if you'd like to see!

 After a bumpy flight through a Florida thunderstorm, we arrived at our hotel - the Coronado - around 8:30pm. The kids were so excited to be there and ready for our Disney adventure!
 Since we hadn't eaten dinner yet, our first order of business was to order room service! Tommy and Annabel thought it was so fun to eat in our room at 9:30 at night.

 After dinner, as we were supposed to be settling down for bed (it was 10pm and we had a full day at Magic Kingdom the next day), in true hotel vacation form, Will started a pillow fight.

 Tommy and Annabel:  1
Daddy:  0

 After a decent nights sleep and breakfast on Friday morning, we headed off to the Magic Kingdom. Our first order of business: meet Mickey Mouse! 

 And Tinkerbell, too! Annabel was so excited.

 Seeing Cinderella's castle was a dream come true for my sweet girl.

 We got to drive some cars...

 and meet princesses...

 and ride through the Hundred Acre Wood...

 and walk through the Swiss Family Robinson tree house.

 Tommy and Will even got to ride a roller coaster. (If you zoom in, they are in the back - Will is wearing a red and white striped shirt.)

 Then we headed to Hollywood Studios where we had a character dinner reservation and then rushed over to catch the Frozen Sing-A-Long. I would highly recommend this show if your kids like Frozen. The storytellers were hilarious and it even SNOWED on us in the theater. So fun!

 We had a great first day!

 Day 2 started at Animal Kingdom where we had a character breakfast first thing.

 We got to see Safari Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy. The kids loved meeting the characters, especially Goofy who gave them each a fist bump and "blew it up" afterwards. Tommy and Annabel thought that was awesome!

 After breakfast we headed out on a safari and saw giraffes, elephants, lions, antelope and a bunch of other animals. We did a few other trails and then walked over to see Everest. Will decided to ride the coaster while the kids and I took a little ice cream break.

 Then we got going over to Epcot where we had scheduled dinner with the princesses in Norway. Annabel couldn't wait!
We brought her Cinderella dress along just for this occasion.
 Tommy was such a good sport through all the princesses and even had his picture taken with almost every one of them. Can you see that smile on my girl? She LOVED every minute of dinner with the girls. She fell out of her chair twice and barely ate anything as she watched, wide-eyed, as the princesses came over one by one. I don't think she stopped smiling all night.

 Day 2 was definitely a success! 

Since our first two days were heavy on Annabel activities, we spent the second two days on Tommy's favorites: Star Wars and Harry Potter. I'll post photos from the rest of our trip on Monday. In the meantime, hope you have a great weekend! We're looking forward to spending some time with our nephew and doing all the normal weekend stuff - ballet, baseball and church. See you back here on Monday!