Sunday, May 31, 2009

A journey through backpacks

I am feeling nostalgic with a wee bit of melancholy mixed in as I reflect upon the end of this school year. On Friday, Abby graduated from 6th grade and will no longer attend Our Lady of Victory school. {Just typing that sentence produces a big lump in my throat.} She will be moving on to 7th grade at Fergus Falls Middle School and will no longer be part of her small class. Abby is very excited about this change, but I, on the other hand, feel a bit scared and nervous. {Reaching for tissue now.} I will no longer personally know all of Abby's classmates, teachers, as well as the parents of her classmates. Her 7th grade class will be around 200 students.

(nŏ-stāl'jə, nə-)
  1. A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.
  2. The condition of being homesick; homesickness.
Yes, bittersweet longing sums things up accurately. My sweet, pony-tailed girl... you have grown up so much. {sniff}
September 2002, entering Kindergarten at age 5 at Our Lady of Victory school... armed with a massive blue, Power Puff backpack and wearing her Bubbles watch. Abby's class size was 18 and Mrs. Moen was her teacher. We had just moved to Fergus Falls 10 days earlier and neither Abby nor I knew anyone aside from the principal, Sandy Carpenter. I was the nervous one on this day almost 7 years ago, but Abby was completely comfortable walking into a brand new school with kids she had never met before. She waived good-bye and I struggled to get back to my car before my tears began streaming down my cheeks.
Entering First grade in the Fall of 2003, Abby was equipped again with her blue, Power Puff backpack. It was so loaded down, that she had to lean forward just to stay upright. Abby was 6 years old and her teachers in first grade were Mrs. Pawlowski and Mrs. Knutson, who shared the class of 19 students. By now, we knew who everyone was and what to expect. I was brave enough to let Abby ride the bus on the first day instead of driving her to school. I waived good-bye as the bus pulled away and hurried back into my home-office to cry.
In Second grade, there was a new backpack purchase. This time no theme characters; just Abby's favorite color, PINK. The backpack was still too large for her little 7 year old body. Abby's teacher was Mrs. Case and there were 17 in her class. Oh, yes, I cried after sending Abby off on the bus.
In Third grade, Abby was distinctly unhappy about having to reuse the pink backpack from the previous year. It still looks too big on 8 year old Abby. Her class had shrunk down to 13 due to some families moving. Mrs. Donnay was her teacher.
Fourth grade and a new pink camouflaged backpack was purchased. I wonder if it was too big to even wear on her back since she has it perched on the bench in this picture? Abby's class had 13 students and she got to have Mrs. Pawlowski (her former 1st grade teacher) again. This year I drove Abby to school on the first day because in 2006, Angelique started Kindergarten. I knew almost everyone at Our Lady of Victory by then and we had lived in Fergus Falls for 4 years, but oh, so difficult to let them both go. Angelique was so confident with her big sister there to show her the ropes.
Entering Fifth grade, ten-year-old Abby had to recycle her pink, camouflaged backpack. Wow - that is a massive backpack! Abby had 13 in her class and Mrs. Hohman was her teacher. I had a better grip on myself and didn't shed a tear as both girls marched off together on the bus that Fall.
Sixth grade last Fall began with a new bright, pink backpack and a new "tweener" attitude. Fashion has definitely become a passion to the point of near annoyance. This final year at OLV was interesting for Abby because her class sized had dropped to 7 and all of them were girls. Her teacher was Mrs. Nelson and Abby was so excited to be the OLDEST at the school. Plus, what could be better than to have an entire class of your very best friends? The fact that this was Abby's last year at OLV was not lost on me, but I held it together and just took pictures and waived as the girls boarded the bus.
I did not hold it together at 6th grade graduation. Her class was featured at Mass on Friday. They played Bells and it was amazing. Abby received her diploma from principal, Mrs. Carpenter.
And we had a brief reception at the gym afterwords. If I had not been wearing 4 inch heels, then the height difference between Abby and I would have been greatly diminished. I believe she is only 2 or 3 inches shorter now. I don't like to check very often 'cause I prefer denial.
Her smiling class of 7... back row L-R, Mary Gettel, Kellie Burke.
front row L-R, Mariah Sigfrid, Audra Bartsch, Abby Lindgren, Danielle Ross,Chloe Comstock.
One really fun moment was when the girls opened the time capsules they created in 3rd grade. Abby thought her self-portrait she had put into her time capsule was particularly funny. The girls were just bubbling with excitement, showing each other what they had created.
Abby's journey at OLV has come to a close. She has grown, matured and learned so much. Her Faith is strong. Her confidence is high. She is well prepared for Middle School, even if I am not.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Catchin' up

May was chuck full of activities and although I took a boat-load of pictures, I just couldn't keep up with blogging about it. Since my blog has become my only means of tracking the events and happenings in our life, it isn't fun being so far behind. With only one day left of May, this is going to be my catch up on a few events and important milestones before my feeble little brain forgets it all.

Remember Abby's poem "God's Gifts In My Life"? She found out that she got 3rd place in state for her entry. How fun for her!

Another milestone for Abby was earning her Bronze award in Girl Scouts and "walked over" from a Junior Girl Scout to a Cadette.
The girls in her troop (normally 5 girls) worked over a year to fulfill the requirements for the Bronze Award, which is the highest honor a Junior Girl Scout can earn. It requires her to learn the leadership and planning skills necessary to follow through on a project that makes a positive impact on her community. Working towards this award demonstrates her commitment to helping others, improving her community and the world, and becoming the best she can be. The girls created a blog about Fergus Falls so help people learn about the town and have family friendly activities to do. They also put together a Kid's carnival during Summer Fest.
As part of the "walking over" theme, the girls custom designed their own flip-flops and had a red carpet/runway to walk down.

Music, music, music... we were entertained by Abby's Spring band concert as well as piano recitals for both Abby & Angelique. This is the end of the first year of piano for Angelique and in true form, she has been completely different from her older sister. We struggled to get Angelique to meet her practice requirements on a weekly basis. There were times I felt like our fee for piano lessons was literally being flushed down the toilet. I don't know what the future holds for Angelique in terms of continuing to play the piano, but in the last 2 months, she has really done well and the amount of nagging went down considerably. We are taking the summer off, mostly because I can then take a break from trying to encourage (a.k.a. bribe/nag) her to practice.
Angelique had both of her performance pieces memorized and during her first song, she actually looked over at Steve and & while playing and smiled. It was so funny! She received a lot of praise from her teacher as well as from Grandma Shirley, who came to watch the recital. Hopefully, that will translate into a more motivated student this coming Fall. I can dream, can't I?.
Abby had two very challenging pieces that she played beautifully. She has just completed the end of her 4th year of lessons. As the difficulty increases, she has been getting discouraged at the time it takes her to master her songs. Hopefully, she will feel motivated enough to continue with lessons this Fall.
A Midsummer Nights Dream... It was a rather ambitious school play put on by Prairie Fire Children's Theatre in 5 days time. Try-outs are after school on Monday and by Friday night, they have their performance. As a 6th grader, this is Abby's last year at OLV. One of her most favorite things is being the play. She had the part of Starveling, a tailor, in the play, which she was completely thrilled about.
The play was funny and cute! Grandma Rose and cousin Logan came to watch the Saturday afternoon performance and they said it was worth the trip.

Angelique finished up parks-n-rec soccer this past week. It is a great activity to help her burn off her excess energy. As a 2nd grader, she hasn't started playing true games. That will come next Fall as a 3rd grader. Steve was the total soccer dad. He took her to practice twice a week for 6 weeks. I missed EVERY.SINGLE.PRACTICE. and I feel bad about it. I have a boot camp class that I go to which caused conflicts, plus Abby had problems getting all her homework done each evening without supervision. And it was a cold and yucky Spring, which is not fun for me as a spectator. Excuses... I know, don't judge me. Hopefully next Fall I will be able to be a proper soccer mom.
Luckily, Angelique never held it against me.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Gotta dance.

This was my first year of being a dance mom and IT DID NOT come naturally to me. The girls begged and begged last fall to be in dance and I finally was wore down. The class availability was confusing to understand. The different studios, dance levels and class descriptions read like a foreign language to me. As you can tell, I do not have a dance background. Luckily, my dear friend Heather helped me navigate - Thanks Heather!

The timing of the classes was less than convenient especially for Angelique, who was in Ballet. It was a good thing that Steve had a flexible schedule because he had to pick her up from school each week on Wednesday's, bring her home, have her get dressed and have her hair put in the required "Ballerina Bun". Keep in mind, this is no ordinary bun. I had to have lessons to pull this off correctly. Not too high, not too low, no fly away hair and everything firmly secured with bobby-pins and a hairnet. I confess, on Kippy's first day of class, her ballerina bun failed and her hair all came down. I thought she was going to be kicked out of class! Abby's modern dance class was in the evening on Wednesday each night, but always was a rush to get supper done and get her there on time. I felt the whole experience was difficult for me personally. My perception of dance: expensive, time-consuming and pretentious (not only the hair requirement, but they had specific uniforms just for dance practice!)

And then came the rehearsals... scheduled on Memorial Day one of my few vacation days. Grrrr... dance was really cramping my style.

Despite my negative attitude, the girls thoroughly enjoyed dance and dance practice. They LOVED when they got their costumes for the Spring Dance recital. You never saw so much prancing and flouncing around the house in their full get up.

The rubber-met-the-road when I adding eyeliner, mascara and blush to my tween daughter, transforming Abby into a much more mature looking young woman {GASP}.
Angelique morphed into a little lady when she was in her full dance costume. Could this really be my rough and tumble, tom-boy daughter wearing a tu-tu??
Then there was the dance performances... the evening of May 26th was Angelique's debut. Grandma Shirley and Great-Uncle Jim came a great distance to watch. She kept a huge smile on her face despite a little mishap early in the dance.
I was wowed... not just by witnessing Angelique's joy while dancing, but all the performers were AMAZING!Wednesday night, (May 27th) was Abby's chance to shine. Her class performed to "Hush", which was a modern take on the "Hush Little Baby" lullaby. Grandma Rose and Great-Aunt Joan were able to come watch.
Again, I was so impressed by all the obvious hard-work the girls had put into learning their routines.

In the end, I have to say I best get over my negative attitude and embrace the fact that Abby and Angelique just gotta dance.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Backyard beauty

My heart leaps with joy as each new flower appears in my yard. I wish I could package the gorgeous fragrance as well. The beauty literally makes my heart go pitter-patter.

I don't have the words to express myself, but luckily Helen Steiner Rice does, so I'll let her supply the words and I'll supply the pictures.
give us eyes to see
the beauty
of the spring
And to behold
Your majesty
in every living thing,
And may we see
in lacy leaves
and every
budding flower
The hand that rules
the universe
with gentleness
and power.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Two-for-one birthday wishes...

Wishing a very happy birthday to my BFF, Sherri, today May 22nd and...

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also to her fabulous son, Ryan (RT) on the 23rd, who will be double-digits (10) on Saturday. We hope you both have wonderful birthdays!
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