First Day of School

So the big new adventure begins.  My Little Ones are off on their first day of the new school year.  New school and for this year, new ride… they are taking the school bus!!

I have to say I am so proud of them both – they’ve been getting the routine and doing a great job. Make your bed, wash your face, brush your teeth, dress yourself, put your clothes in the hamper… They are all over it and the reminders are becoming less necessary!

In my mind, I have amazing pictures of them getting on the bus and waving good-bye.  In reality, I didn’t even raise my camera (there was something in my eye… really there was), but I do have a little story  from the adventure to share.

We started off yesterday at the Open House, so that gave me the chance to see the kids in their new environment and to meet some of the other students.  In their class, they had to put away their things, explored the classroom and spent time learning about this years theme… BUGS.  I have to say their school is lovely and I am really excited for the year!

We had an early Capoeira evening and Phil and I got to put my Pinterest skills to work coming up with a lunch we hope they will enjoy.

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Today, they woke up, made their beds and were off to the races.  Breakfast as a family is a habit that will be hard to break!

 

After breakfast, we went out to the school bus stop.  It’s about a mile away, so that meant we had to drive and wait… and wait… and wait.  Worried we missed it on the first day (oh no!) we called and it turns out the bus was late.  15 min, but at least we didn’t miss it — school bussing is not an exact science.  The kids were a little impatient – Wilson even suggested we call an Uber :).

I know there will be hard days, but I really hope the kids keep up with their routine and growing independence.  It’s lovely to watch and makes the mornings much easier. A huge thank you to Ms P. for preparing them so well on the morning routine over the last few years!

To see them helping each other and working together in their new adventure is totally cool!  My littlest ones are turning into my big ones… but they will always be my babies.

Prayers up for an awesome school year!  I hope your new adventures are going as well as ours!

 

 

 

Hours of Entertainment

I love my kids.  They are really lovely and although there are ups and downs, the wonderful times outweigh the difficult ones.  I had a recent example when unexpectedly we were without child care for a week!  Our day went something like this:

I started on calls at 7am, kids ran in and out, wanting to hear the calls, wanting to speak on the calls and making quite a bit of background noise as I tried to work.

At 9am, I took a break for a pit stop to the bathroom with a detour to get Little Mstr’s hyena.  It was in solitary confinement due to the kids non-compliance when they were supposed to clean their room several months ago.  Hyena was forgotten until very recently when he was rediscovered and my little Mstr has been on a relentless pursuit ever since (and cleaning his room like a champ)!

Sometime between 9-10, Little Miss managed to get me to let her polish her nails.  She picked out a color and went to work.  That focused activity (did I mention I had calls) lasted about 10 min before my husband found a spill on the floor and that was the end of that.  A bit of a bummer as she is usually pretty good at polishing her nails and gets mostly in the lines!!

At 10am when I finally had a break, we went outside for the kids to ride bikes and me to work on my laptop.  Of course our neighbor came home about 10 min later and my children badgered (uh I mean beguiled) her into a playdate with her son who is a year older.  That resulted in said neighbor and I sharing a workspace at her dining room table while the kids played together for a couple of hours.  It was actually quite productive and mostly interruption free.

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We raced off at 12 because Little Mstr had an appointment at 1p.  We didn’t have enough time for lunch before leaving the house, but did get some yogurt from Starbucks next to the office before his appointment.  And the kids took the opportunity to have an in depth conversation with (quiz mercilessly) a local police officer – they discussed all of his ‘tools of the trade,’ his car and lots of things!

Little Miss wants so badly to go to her brother’s appointment so today’s treat (distraction) was to get her a pedicure (did I mention she only did 2 toes before the spill)?  It took a bit longer than expected so I had to carry her back with no shoes to get Little Mstr.

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On the way home in the car, we had a great conversation about their dialogue with the police officer in town.  I finally found a way to explain that police are there to protect and to serve, but that you always have to trust your intuition and respond accordingly.  Unfortunately, there are bad people in the world and some of them might be police who might not have your best interests at heart.  The kids key takeaways: listen to your intuition  – if it tells you someone is bad, be polite and respectful, but get out of the situation, you can always rely on your wisdom from God, call Mommie and can always pray.  I was quite pleased with how well our discussion landed.

Lunch was served and I was super proud of my little ones who decided  they were still a little munchy (or I didn’t feed them enough) and they made their own cheese sandwiches.  This included getting a real plate and warming the sandwich in the microwave with only the help of a step stool (no help from Mommie needed aside from finding the cheese).  They even did the dishes after lunch!

The next big activity was for a ‘stand’ in the yard – they would not be deterred from this venture and in fact, it turned into the highlight of the day!  The kids made their sign, helped make the tea (no fixins for lemonade), got the ice from the ice machine and helped set everything up.

They made $4 on $0.50 cups and met some friends who were on a walk which turned into another fun ‘playdate’.

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With a day like this, I didn’t have much time for photos, but I did manage to snap a few.  Having said that I really want to remember this day.  It was a great example of the gift of watching my children grow up right before my eyes!  If you made it this far, thanks for reading and sharing with me.

Reunion Road Trip – Part deux

We truly enjoyed our time at the Family Reunion…

And after our fantastic time in Charlotte, we got on the road and headed home!  It felt faster, although wasn’t really that different in terms of time, we just stopped for a shorter overnight.

There were two highlights for me 1) getting to see my friend and her family on our overnight stop (boy do I wish we had more time) and 2) the Pecan Nut bar we got during a special stop when my husband passed Horne’s Restaurant — a one of a kind store from his childhood road trips — passing through Port Royal, Virginia.

We continued our affinity for Dollar Tree and Chick Fil-A.  I think Dollar Tree is the worlds best kept road trip secret.  You have the chance to stop, go to the bathroom (usually its a reasonable one), and purchase snacks or water very reasonably.  It’s also a very good distraction – next time we road trip I will add it to our scavenger hunt!

I do have to say that the activity I enjoyed the most was our Rest Stop Scavenger Hunt.  Each time we stopped (and that is at least once per five hours – of a 30 hour trip) we had to find something on the scavenger hunt.  It took us the entire trip to and from the Reunion, but we finally crossed off the very last item… the Road Atlas.  For anyone born before the iPhone, you know what I mean.  Those born “post iPhone” haven’t had to read, much less navigate by the Atlas.  It was quite disappointing when I asked at WaWa if they had an Atlas and the answer was, “what is that?”

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The last leg is always the most difficult as evidenced by my face and my Little Mama’s as we brought it home…

 

 

It’s a Family Reunion Road Trip

I have to preface this post with the fact that I do not like road trips!  And when you add two energetic 5.5 year olds to the mix the idea of a road trip strikes fear in my fearless Mommie heart.  So when we decided to drive to my husband’s family reunion in Charlotte, NC, I was determined not to let my worst fears come true.  For perspective, my Little Miss can get to the point of pained boredom on 45 min ride – I did not relish the thought of of 9.5 hours of “this is boring” from the backseat!

Mommie mind and Pinterest kicked into high gear, resulting in 2 bags, 2 bins and several different activities designed to keep even little miss occupied.  Did I mention I was trying to avoid 20 hours of screen time?

Here is our adventure-

Left NJ and within the first hour three of the activities were played!

 

In PA, we ended up with backseat highway bingo and a stop at the Dollar Store for the bathroom and some water (really a break for Mommie and Daddy).  Chick-fil-A and singing songs followed.

In VA, we went to the amazing Luray Caverns. We were very late arriving but managed to catch a lovely (but late) tour with Tabitha – our very knowledgable tour guide.  Quite wondrous to see the Caverns and hear the history.  We were there 168 years – 2 days from the discovery date!!

 

 

We found a very nice hotel, The Mimslyn Inn – and had our own cottage for the night.  The kids enjoyed the pull out love seat and gas fireplace and I loved that we had a real refrigerator with a freezer for our ice packs.

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My little Mstr was a little disappointed that we didn’t stay in the hotel proper (his first reaction was that it was fancy), but allowed that the cottage was nice and he wanted to stay longer.

In the morning, we woke up, had breakfast from the cooler (I knew that yogurt and granola would come in handy) and we got on the road.  Fortunately, we decided to drive a bit of the Skyline Drive- a beautiful route through the Shenandoah Valley.

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We even saw a baby black bear and we were all thrilled!

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That kept the kids occupied for the first couple hours.  Then we had craft time!! I took a leap on faith and had construction paper, markers, crayons, scissors and glue in the project bags!  The kids spent some time making crafts to give to Grandma and Granddaddy for their walls.

While they aren’t old enough to stay occupied reading books for hours, when craft time was over I discovered  that they do love the story telling channel on Spotify!

We finally arrived around 7p in Charlotte and the family reunion festivities began!

Thanks to the Universe for traveling mercies on the first two legs of our trip.

Up next- the return trip home!!

 

Summertime Memories

The Summer of 2016 has absolutely flown by!! I can’t believe it’s already the last day of July and with a busy August planned, September will be here soon.  I truly believe that time goes faster the older you get and with kids, it’s like living at the speed of light.  But I can say for sure I am learning and growing and loving watching my little Miss and Mstr. experience the world!  A few Summer memories – I hope you enjoy…

A whirlwind tour!  I had the pleasure of making the story for this beautiful young woman and her family as she prepared for Senior Prom…

Our first 5K race… the kids did an amazing job!

The kids had many adventures with family and friends…

Father Day Memories…

Travels for me from Brazil to Singapore and back to the Northeast!

Always a wonderful time with the Cancelmo’s!  Swimming for the kids plus food, drink and relaxation for the parents!

 

 

Project 365 – Week 22

I truly enjoyed my birthday weekend! And it followed right up with my mother-in-laws birthday and a prom celebration fit for a princess!  And on top of that, my little miss showed me something about loving nature and science!

And importantly, this week included Memorial Day – sending thanks and prayers for all of the soldiers who defend ideals and freedom for others.

6 on the 6th (May)

I am really looking forward to the fantastic work of my fellow photographers in this months Blog Circle.

May is always a busy month in our house – we start off with my husband’s birthday, then Mothers Day… then that week my Mother would have turned 69 on her birthday.  This year we had a bit of a hiccup — my little Miss broke her collarbone on the 11th!  But we recovered and she is fully back on her feet!  We even had the opportunity to participate in a Batizado for the kids Capoeira – and they both got new belts!  You can see that post here if you missed it.

At the end of the month, it was my birthday – combined with Memorial Day!  We had a wonderful weekend with time in NYC and at the Zoo and then with friends.  The kids even got to see The Jungle Book!  So when I looked back at the photos from May, it was a perfect walk down memory lane and a good time was had by all — I hope you enjoy some of the memories as I do.  Don’t forget to click through the blog circle!  Next up is Desert Bloom Photography.

 

Project 365 Week 20

Such a busy week!  Between the final preparations for the Grupo Liberdade De Capoeira Batizado to the events themselves, our little ones were on the go, focused and determined! And I loved the challenge of capturing the moments collectively and individually (take a look at the post from 19 May for more).   Trips to the Doctor and finding ways to occupy Little Miss who is supposed to stay still made for more excitement!  And I have to say the beautiful blooms on my Mothers Day plant made for a huge smile mid-week.

Project 365 Week 19

Such an exciting week in our household!  Kentucky Derby, Mothers Day and our first baby broken bone – I can’t begin to tell you!  A week of highs and lows, but mostly fun and definitely with some fantastic stories!

Thursday was also 12 May – it would have been my Mom’s 69th birthday.  The day was thoughtful, full of reminiscing and quite a bit of nursing as Little Miss broke her collar bone the day before.  My Mom was my light and I still wish I could pick up the phone to call, get advice or a big virtual hug.  My baby girl still dreams of “Grammy in the gold” so I know she is watching over us.

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Mom and I in The Netherlands, c 2007 at the North Seas Jazz Festival

Batizado

I am excited to share the most recent accomplishment in the Smith Family… my little ones progressed in Capoeira and got new belts!  A Batizado is an annual event (and reunion) for the Capoeira Community and for us was a series of workshops, exhibitions and a troca del cordel (belt ceremony).  The kids even had the chance to perform at the Youth Showcase during the Newark 350 celebration!  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and maybe one day my little ones will be as amazing as the long term practitioners we saw (Mestras, Contra Mestres, Professors, Instructors and more from all over the Americas)!

Little miss joined a Dance workshop (and she was overjoyed to be able to “shake her booty”!) and Little mstr. was able to play in the Roda to his hearts content!

Many thanks to Professora Amazonas and the Grupo Liberdade de Capoeira for such a fantastic event and connection to the Capoeira Community.