Saturday, June 27, 2015

Landscape Update

If you've been over to our house anytime in the past few months, you would find either one of two things: (1) incessant rain and storms, or (2) Jeff outside in the backyard. Yes, it has been an incredibly rainy season for us in Texas. We even had school cancelled one day due to heavy local flooding in our area. But on the occasions when it's been clear and sometimes sunny, you would most definitely find Jeff outside in our backyard working on the landscape.

Last year after we had the pool installed, we decided to wait a year before embarking on the landscaping. It was pretty barren back there, a blank canvas for the backyard except for one tree left from the previous homeowners that we later discovered is a grapefruit tree. (We're looking forward to some grapefruit cocktails one of these days!)

So amidst all of the spring rains and floods, Jeff began designing and planting several areas of landscaping to frame in the pool and enhance the backyard. He's done a TON of work so far and it's really coming along. It's amazing how lush and green everything is looking thanks to all of the rain. Sure wish we could figure out how to share the wealth of rain with our neighbors off to the West.

Notice all of those big landscaping rocks surrounding the various garden areas? Be sure to ask Jeff about THAT story when you see him! ;-)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Last Day of School

The last day of school totally snuck up on me, but these kids were more than ready!

Last day of Kindergarten and 3rd grade.

I made the kids wear semi-cute outfits for the last day pictures, of course. We took a few photos before leaving for school and made sure to ride our bikes that morning, which is their favorite mode of transportation to school. I asked them to show me how excited they were for the last day. Connor didn't seem quite awake yet, ha! So hard to believe the school year was over already.

Funny shot.

Last bike ride to school as a Kindergartner and 3rd grader!

Are we excited about the last day??

YES! They were excited!!

After school, I took the kids to an evening Splash Bash at a local community pool hosted by our church. They were so excited to swim and enjoy pizza and cookies to kick off the summer.

Splash Bash to kickoff the summer.

Kaitlynn on the waterslide.

Connor's turn.

Big smile for summer!

We have an extremely busy and chaotic summer ahead. Lots of camps, trips, and so much fun ahead. Here we go!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Kaitlynn's Early Birthday Celebration

Kaitlynn's main request to celebrate her birthday this year was to have her best friend Anais over for a sleepover. We managed to work that in last month before Anais's family went overseas for the summer. Kaitlynn LOVED every second of her special time with Anais, and it turned out to be such a special occasion for Kaitlynn's birthday.

Best friends reunited, so sweet!

After the happy reunion, Kaitlynn and Anais came back to our house for some playtime before we all had to head out for Connor's baseball game that evening. The girls had so much fun playing dress-up, coloring, and generally squealing all over the house. Ha!

Princess dress-up isn't complete without the perfect pose.

Riding out to Connor's baseball game. Love those smiles.

Jeff the jungle gym.

After the girls were getting ready for bed, Anais surprised Kaitlynn with a special birthday present: matching nightgowns for bedtime. So cute!!

Matching PJs for these sweet BFFs!

The next morning, the girls were up and ready for breakfast. Jeff got them all donuts as a birthday treat, and soon after, Kaitlynn was ready to open her gifts. We decided to give Kaitlynn her birthday present early in order to celebrate at a special lunch we had planned later that day.

Breakfast #1 -- donuts.

Breakfast #2 -- cereal.

Matching PJs and ready to open birthday gifts. I LOVE this picture of their bright eyes and smiles!

Big smiles for the presents.

Surprise! It's her very own American Girl doll.

She was SO excited!

Kaitlynn's birthday gift was her very own American Girl doll, designed with exactly the same features as Kaitlynn. Fair skin, blond hair, blue eyes -- she's a perfect match! Kaitlynn was in awe when she realized that her doll looked just like her, and she was so excited to be a Mommy.

Anais gave Kaitlynn some American Girl accessories and outfits as her gift. We were SO impressed that Anais kept the surprise from Kaitlynn -- she knew all along that Kaitlynn would be getting the doll for her present but never spilled the beans!

I told Kaitlynn that she needed to take special care in choosing her doll's name, so Kaitlynn and Anais quickly set off with paper and pens to make their lists of possible names. They came up with quite a few names, but in the end, Kaitlynn stuck with her first choice: Anna Faith Courtright. We thought it was a perfect name for Kaitlynn's new "baby."

For part of Kaitlynn's early birthday celebration, we had booked reservations for us and Anais's mom and sister at the American Girl restaurant. Girls can bring their dolls and have a special lunch together while, of course, browsing all of the fancy doll accessories at the American Girl store. It was quite the experience and Kaitlynn loved every second of it!

Arriving at American Girl store for lunch.

Ready for her special lunch with Anna Faith.

All settled at the table with Anais and her sister Amelia, and all of their dolls of course!

When you eat at the restaurant, each doll gets her own little cup and saucer and the girls are allowed to keep the napkin rings which are little hair ties for them and their dolls. The girls LOVE sharing this experience with their dolls. Kaitlynn quickly decided to fix Anna's hair into a ponytail with the new hair tie and of course had to fix her own to match.

Giving Anna Faith a kiss after fixing her hair with the new hairband.

For dessert, the girls ordered special cupcakes that they could decorate themselves. They had normal sized cupcakes for themselves and little mini-cupcakes for their dolls. Love it!

Cupcakes for the birthday girl and her doll.

Even the bathrooms at American Girl are designed to handle your doll. They have little doll holders all around so you can hang up your doll while you use the facilities. Oh my!

Hang up your doll while you wash your hands in the bathroom, ha!

As an extra special birthday gift, Keri decided to treat Anna Faith with ear piercing so Anna could have earrings just like Kaitlynn. Yes, at the American Girl salon, you can get your doll's ears pierced! Kaitlynn was SO excited!

Keri and Kaitlynn showing off Anna Faith's new earrings. So sweet!

The American Girl experience is new to us but, oh my, what fun for these sweet girls. Kaitlynn and her doll, Anna Faith, have been inseparable since this early birthday celebration. I have a feeling that the fun with Kaitlynn and Anna Faith is just beginning!

Family pic in front of the AG store.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wrapping up Kindergarten

I honestly can't believe the time has come that my BABY has finished up her kindergarten year. It has been such a whirlwind year for us all.

Jeff and I debated for months (years?) on whether to start Kaitlynn in kindergarten this past year. In the end, we decided she was ready but we reserved the right to hold her back a year once we saw how she fared at the end of the year. I remember sitting in her class at the first kindergarten curriculum night and listening to her teacher, Mrs. Wright, tell the parents that the kids were going to be writing in their daily journals. I actually laughed out loud because I was thinking, "No way, not Kaitlynn, she is not ready for that."

I couldn't have been more wrong!

These days, this daughter of ours doesn't go a single day without writing some kind of note or love letter (usually to her Sweet Daddy) and leaving them all around the house. She has made such tremendous progress with her reading and writing, all thanks to her awesome year of kindergarten!

Kaitlynn's kindergarten class photo (she is top row, far left).

Just like her big brother Connor, there was no shortage of fun and activities to wrap up Kaitlynn's kindergarten year.

On the week before school ended, I made a special trip up to Kaitlynn's class. Since Kaitlynn has a summer birthday, we made sure to celebrate early with her entire class. She got to wear a birthday crown for the entire day, and I brought some cookies to share with her friends. She sure felt extra special that day!

My little birthday girl.

One of Kaitlynn's classmates took this pic of us with my phone after I read some books to the class.

Kaitlynn with her beloved kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Wright. Oh how we will miss her!

On that same day, the school library hosted a popcorn party for select kids that met their reading goal for the school year. Kaitlynn completed all of the required reading and apparently ended up in 2nd place for the entire kindergarten grade, so she was awarded with this really cool sticker book. She was so proud of herself!

Kaitlynn's prize for reading so many books this year.

During the last week of school in our district, each grade level hosts a "Celebration of Learning" where the kids get to showcase some of their work from the year and do a little presentation. For Kaitlynn's Celebration of Learning, Mrs. Wright gave this little presentation about Kaitlynn.

And for ANY of you who know me, this will make you laugh at how much she is EXACTLY like her mother!! My mom sure got a kick out of it :-)

Kaitlynn with two of her besties from kinder, Haasini and Sarah, at their Celebration of Learning.

Ready for her kindergarten celebration of learning.

After the classroom presentations, Mrs. Wright and the kiddos presented me with a sweet gift and a signed card by everyone as a thank you gift for being the Homeroom Parent. I was honored to have been able to spend so much time in the classroom this year and watch these sweet kiddos transform before my eyes. It feels like yesterday that I was just doing the same thing in Connor's kindergarten class. I sure miss those cuties just like I will miss these.

For the kindergarten kiddos' final performance, we headed to the gym where they put on a short musical presentation for the parents. Here is one of the songs -- I thought the grandparents might enjoy this. Kaitlynn was actually singing so loudly that I could hear her from many rows back in the huge gym, and you can even see her classmates looking at her oddly wondering why she's so loud, ha!

Mrs. Wright with Kaitlynn and Haasini. We will SO miss them over the summer!

Haasini took this photo of my with my girl :-)

I remember someone once telling me that we send our little ones off to Kindergarten as babies but they emerge as such big kids. SO, so true. We are so proud of Kaitlynn for such a great year in Kindergarten. She is beyond ready for 1st grade now.

The only question is, am I??

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wrapping up 3rd Grade

Every year when May rolls around, I am caught off guard by how busy the days become with end-of school activities. This May has been busier than ever as Connor has been wrapping up his year in 3rd grade.

One of the highlights of his year has been the enrollment in the Challenge program at WoodCreek. Every Tuesday he spends a day in a separate classroom with a unique curriculum, and Tuesdays are by far his favorite day of the week. For the last 9 weeks, the kids studied their Law unit and put together a mock trial as their end of school project. Each student was assigned a role in the trial of Big Bad Wolf versus the Curly Pig (adaptation of "Three Little Pigs"). Connor was the prosecuting attorney representing Big Bad Wolf, who was accusing the Curly Pig of trying to cook and eat him, ha! The kids dressed up, read their scripts, and acted out the entire 45-minute trial while the parents acted as the Jury and had to come up with the verdict.

Connor the Prosecutor

Love my handsome little attorney.

Posing with the Honorable Judge at the trial.

The parents had a great time watching the kids enact their mock trial and coming up with the verdict. To Connor's dismay, Curly Pig was found "Not Guilty" and allowed to go free. Connor was NOT happy with me for allowing that verdict to pass, ha!

Also in May, Connor's 3rd grade went on their field trip to the Science Museum in Sugar Land. I wasn't able to join Connor but some of my friends sent me these pics. There was no shortage of fun on their well-deserved day off.

Connor with his 2 best buddies in his class, Brandon and Jayden.

A couple of my friends were there to take photos of the kids on the field trip, and apparently Connor photo-bombed every single one. What is up with this crazy kid?!

Later in the day, we made a quick trip by his classroom to pick up the cooler that we had loaned for the field trip. It was a nice little visit with Connor's teacher, Mrs. Sumrall, before the end of the year. We are thrilled that she and her husband are expecting their first baby, which unfortunately mean that Connor's class will be getting a replacement teacher for next year (the kids are "looping" up to 4th grade with their same 3rd grade classes). We will miss Mrs. Sumrall and can't wait to meet her little one this fall, and we can't wait to meet Connor's new teacher for 4th grade.

Connor and his teacher, Mrs. Sumrall, after the field trip. Look at her precious baby bump!

During the last week of school, the 3rd grade hosted their Celebrations of Learning for the parents. I really enjoyed visiting Connor's classroom and catching up with his buddies. The kids showed off some of their projects from the year and then gave a little presentation on their favorite things about 3rd grade.

Connor in his classroom showing off his silhouette project.

Connor and his buddy, Jayden. Best friends!

Connor at his desk for his 3rd grade Celebration of Learning.

One of the projects that the kids worked on for the Celebration of Learning was to design their own restaurant with name, theme/concept, and menus. Connor created a steak house called "Steak Courthouse" (to incorporate his last name) and developed a logo that showed a piece of steak with a gavel running through it, ha! I got a kick out of that, but then I saw the menu and laughed even harder. His signature menu item was the "Jesus Steak," which in Connor's words, is a "steak so juicy and tender that you'll think it was made by Jesus himself." OH MY! I'm gonna need to try that, LOL!

Connor's restaurant project -- Steak Courthouse.

Connor and Brandon. Gonna miss this sweet kid so much!

The three muskateers -- Brandon, Jayden, and Connor.

Connor had another incredible year at WoodCreek. We just continue to be so blessed by this school! We are so proud of this kid and all of his accomplishments this year. Can't believe I have a 4th grader now!

My future 4th grader!