Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Driving to school

The elementary school is about three miles from our house.  The bus comes at 7 AM, much too early for us so we drive the boys to school each morning.  Every morning I wish I had my camera with me.  This morning I remembered to bring it.  Mike drove and I snapped pictures from my window.  Here is what we see in Tennessee each morning on the way to school (oh, and some other pictures that got out of order of things I get to see every morning, not just when I take the kids to school!):

 We have the most interesting looking birds in our yard.  This is the least colorful bird we've seen.  We have seen blue, black and white, red, and yellow birds besides the normal brown ones.  They are abundant in the forest behind the fence.  I love their chirping and happy sounds.  If it weren't for the mosquitoes I'd spend all morning out on the deck just listening to them.

ignore the nasty bug splatters from the windshield.  Our car needs a washing after our drive from Colorado.

This is the view from directly across the street from the school.  

Tennessee might not have nice crisp, bright blue skies but the smokiness definitely makes everything look mysterious and beautiful in the mornings!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A special weekend

It's been a great weekend here at our house.  We've been in the house a week and two days now.  There is still a lot to do but we've made so much progress.  Besides all the organizing and unpacking, we finished the first week of school, and had a baptism.  We've been busy!  Thursday afternoon Dave and Tana (my brother and his wife) and their two kids came.  They showed up and almost the first thing David said was, "Need help with the trampoline?"  They also helped us paint the living room.  It was awesome to have them come.  They drove all the way from D.C. to be here to help us with the house and also to be here for Isaac's baptism.  

"Let me brush your hair!"

 On Friday Steve and Carol (Mom and Dad Richards) and Jessie (Mike's sister) and two of her kids drove down from Maryland.  Like Dave and Tana they got right to work.  Dave and Steve helped Mike finish getting the microwave put in.  It was a pain and took a lot more work than Mike anticipated.  He ended up having to take down part of the backsplash in the kitchen.  We all had dinner and then walked down to the park while Mike and Steve went to pick up the Lego movie for the kids to watch.
 The kids had so much fun together playing video games, jumping on the trampoline, playing sardines, and forcing Dave to play laser tag with them.
Laser tag

 Saturday we worked some more.  Dave, Tana and Carol taped the dining room in preparation for me to paint tomorrow.  Mike and Steve worked in the garage, organizing and making room for the vehicles, food storage, bikes, etc.  They also bought and assembled a bench and hooks for our backpack and coat drop-off.  Jessie, Carol and I went to pick up some refreshments for the baptism and were on the look-out for a desk and bulletin board for our homework station in the family room.  We didn't purchase one but found some good options.  Tana and Dave held down the fort here at the house while kids slept and played.

At 2 we all got ready for the baptism and were surprised and thankful to find the gym fill up with people from the new ward, most we had only met once or twice before.  Isaac's sweet teacher and her husband were there as well as two members of the Primary Presidency and their families.  The Bishop's wife, also my new visiting teacher, played the piano for us and the Second counselor in the bishopric and his wife also attended.  A friend from Isaac's class also came with his brother and mom.  My other visiting teacher and her family came as well as the sister missionaries and Elders.  It was really so sweet of so many people to come and support Isaac on this special day.  Isaac's teacher is the sweetest old lady.  She must be in her seventies at least and she has the sweetest spirit and the kindest heart.  She gave him a gift and greeted him with the biggest hug.  Last week he got a card in the mail from her telling him how much she loved him already and how happy she was to have him in her class.  I love her already.
 Isaac asked Will and Eli to say the prayers, Dave and Grandpa Richards to be the witnesses, Mike to baptize him, and Grandma Richards to give the talk.  He was nervous but so excited.  At the end of the day he said, "I'm sad today is over.  I wish I could have a baptism every day...or at least every eight years!"
 Isaac has such a strong moral compass and he helps keep us all on the right path.  I love his sensitive spirit and the way he always tries to do what is right or correct his behavior when he realizes he has done something wrong.  He is such a good example to his brothers and I just love him so much.  I'm really so proud and happy of his choice to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost.

My favorite picture of the day!  Love these happy faces

 After the baptism and pictures we all changed and went to dinner.  We chose Golden Corral and it was the perfect choice for that many kids.  Everyone was happy and not a single complaint!  It helps that they filled their faces with pizza, ice cream, and cotton candy.

Isaac enjoyed the hot wings at dinner!
It was a perfect day.  We already miss all our visitors!  We are so happy and thankful that we have been within a days drive from family since we lived in Ohio.  I am so thankful that everyone came to share this important day with our family and so grateful for all the help we received with the house.  I already feel so much more at peace about all the stuff I still have to do knowing that we got so much done already.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tennessee pictures

It rained really hard for a few minutes yesterday so I went outside afterwards and took pictures.  Then this morning Piper and I went for another walk around the neighborhood and we ended up at the park before heading back home.  She is so cute lately.  I would walk away from her and she's come get me and say, "Come on, Momma.  Come on."  She is talking so much and I adore her little voice and sentences.  (the roses and are all in my backyard, by the way)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

1st day of school--4th, 3rd, and 1st grade

I've been posting a lot lately, which is funny because I have so much to do!  We just have a lot to document!  Kids started school yesterday.  School here starts 30 min. earlier at 7:45 and even though it's just 30 min. earlier it seems so early to me.

Will's teacher seems a bit stern and not overly friendly.  She barely even said anything to him when he went to the teacher meet and greet and that makes me a little worried.  He is so easy going though that it probably won't matter too much to him--his first grade teacher was really horrible, always yelling and saying mean things to the kids, and Will took it all in stride and didn't seem to be bothered too much.  That said, his last two years he has had teachers that were incredible and so eager to teach and love and encourage and he just thrived.  He said after school, "She seems strict but nice and I think that will be good for me actually."  Such a sweet boy.  I do think that she can really help him keep on task and help him remember to be more detailed and such so I hope it will be a good fit for him.

Isaac and Eli's teachers seem really friendly.  They are both really young and Isaac's teacher is a newby.  You can tell that she is ready to start her first year teaching and Eli's teacher is this cute, tiny little thing and I think you could probably confuse her for one of the kids.  :)  They both say they love their teachers.

Isaac did say that he is worried about who he can be friends with because everyone around him was taking the Lord's name in vain and one kid even said "sexy" (which my boys think is one of the worst swear words you can say for some reason) in reference to his playdough sculpture.  I am happy that Isaac is so innocent and good and has an understanding of what is right and wrong and it allowed us to have a great conversation after school as well as at Family Home Evening about first impressions and how you need to get to know someone to really know what they are like.  We were able to talk about appearances and how things aren't always what they seem and were able to share experiences we've had where we thought someone would be a terrible friend because they were rough around the edges or had bad language and how we ended up really seeing them as wonderful individuals and friends.  We also explained that the Holy Ghost will prompt us to know when someone is perhaps not a safe individual to spend our time around.  I think this will be a growing experience for our boys because they were really sheltered in Colorado where the majority of their classmates and neighbors were Christian and conservative.  I also think that this is an opportunity for them to learn to be grateful for the home they grow up in, which is one where both parents are involved and love them and protect them.  They are so abundantly blessed both spiritually and materially and have so many opportunities open to them that I think going to school and meeting people that are not as blessed as they are might really open their eyes to how so many people live.  I hope they can find some really great, strong friends who have similar values even if they don't have the same beliefs and I hope the boys can be good examples to their friends.

The only other thing I can think of to mention is that this school has a large population of poor students attending.  So much so that when I asked one of the teachers about hot lunch, I was informed that this year every student for the entire year will receive free breakfast and lunch.  Breakfast will be served in the classroom from 7:35-7:50.  School starts at 7:45, as mentioned, and I drop the kids off around 7:35 so every morning when they get to school they will walk into the classroom to a hot breakfast.  I have some thoughts on the issue but mainly I am sad that our society is such that something so simple as breakfast at the family table is now being taken over by the school.  That's all for now.  I have other thoughts but this post is not really about politics and my feelings on the family and community involvement.  That can be saved for another time.  Anyway, crazy.  I fed my kids breakfast this morning and told them if they were still hungry and wanted something that was being served, they could have some.  I also sent them to school with a packed lunch.

Getting school supplies together.  Piper wanted in on the action

This boy inherited his dad's crazy hair and it just refuses to lay flat

Eli loves his spiky backpack--like a dinosaur and he loves dinosaurs

Piper wanted to do her work. She will draw and draw and draw.

She wanted to be just like her brothers and carried this lunchbox around as her backpack.  When we went to get lunchboxes she found a big pink one and she put it over her shoulder and screamed if you tried to take it away.  She kept saying, "My backpack."