Our Family

Our Family

Monday, September 12, 2016

First Week of Kinder

We have completed another "last first" in our "last first day of kinder." We are now 3 full weeks into the school year and it is going great!! But I did want to document Rigdon's first day of kinder, since I'm already forgetting some of the cute, funny, and inspiring stories that surround it. (Plus my mom asked me to write it down so she could re-visit. :) )

As the back story goes, Rigdon missed the deadline to start kinder last year by 9 days! So he got an extra year at home with mom, which he took to mean that he needed to become a read-a-holic, and speed right along in math and science, and every other aspect that he could. So he's been ready for kinder for well over a year. I felt inspired one day several months ago to talk to him about how we treat people at school. I was concerned that he would go to school and make the other kids feel bad with all of his vast amounts of knowledge and his gift of saying exactly what he thinks, no matter who hears. So we talked about the importance of being a helper and a leader in his class. We discussed that it's okay if other kids don't even know all of their letters yet. That's where they are and that is okay. So don't say things that will make them feel that they aren't as smart. As often happens with parenting, I had no idea whether or not he really absorbed this discussion, but at least I had tried.

After the first day of school, Rigdon came home and talked non-stop for a full hour about every detail he could think of from his day. He told me that as he sat on the bus he kept saying to himself in his mind "I can't believe I'm riding the bus! I can't believe I'm in kindergarten! I can't BELIEVE I'm in kindergarten!" and then Mercedes chimed in that he wasn't only saying that in his head over and over. ;)  He got on that bus so confidently, greeted his friend, the bus driver, and waved with the biggest grin on his face. I then drove to the school to set up the parent breakfast, and saw him get off the bus, still grinning hugely, and walk into the school. He didn't need me to walk him to his class, or give him extra hugs.

He explained that there were several kids who were sad and crying because they missed their mom, or wanted to go home or were nervous or scared. One girl, he told me, "was really sad so she got on the floor in child's pose and cried" but he went over to her and rubbed her back and told her that it was okay. They became friends right away. Another student couldn't reach his backpack in his cubby because it was at the top. But Rigdon, being giant, got it down for him and he was grateful. He also helped another child reach a name tag that was too high to reach.

As I left the school after the parent breakfast was all cleaned up I happened to see Rigdon's class; his teacher, Mrs. Clark, told me that he was the designated class shoe-tier. I told her I wasn't sure that he was even that good at tying shoes, but she said that he insisted he wanted to be helpful and he had already helped tie of couple of shoes.

By about day 3 Rigdon's teacher was already telling me how much she loved him. She said that he is truly empathetic (a word that the school has in their motto) and she is so glad to have him in her class. I realized then that our little heart-to-heart discussion has made a difference. He hasn't once come home to tell me about the "baby-ish kids" in his class like he did after his first day of preschool. He is making friends with the kids, and he is leading by example. His teacher is allowing him to be a helper and a leader and building qualities that I feel are every bit as important as reading and writing. And my fear of him getting lazy and lowering his standards hasn't come to anything yet. He is writing beautifully, coloring and cutting beautifully and really loving every little bit of school. I feel so blessed to have this sweet boy as a part of my family. He constantly teaches me about true love for others, and our immense capacity to love. He is a gifted boy, and I'm so happy for him that he can be in school every day sharing his gift with others. As long as I get my Big Rig Hugs when he gets home. ;)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Part VII - Going Home

We have some good friends who moved to Peoria about the same time that we did. But in October they moved to Atlanta, and we were so sad to see them go. Luckily for us, they decided to let us come and hang out with them for a night on our way home from Florida. So once we got off the ship with all 8 of our suitcases and bags and miscellaneous other stuff, we got in the car and drove 11 1/2 hours to Atlanta. We were greeted in the driveway by Talmage's good buddy Caleb.

Carrie made us our first home-cooked meal in a week and a half, and it was delicious. The kids didn't hardly want to eat, they were so excited to play with our friends that we hadn't seen in a long time. They played for a while and then we turned on a movie to see if they would fall asleep.
They only stayed like this for a few minutes.

Jared and Carrie were so sweet to let their kids stay up way past their bedtime so that all of the kids could have time to play, and then they all had a sleepover party. Caleb and Talmage slept in Caleb's room. Audrey shared her room with both of my girls, and Rigdon and Elise (who are only 10 days apart) shared her room. They did actually sleep in different beds. But they were the only ones who went and got in bed when we said it was bed time. AND they fell right to sleep. What sweet and obedient little 2-yr olds!!

Rigdon has always loved Elise. She is his little girlfriend. Not to mention the cutest little sweetheart ever!
It was so fun to see our friends again, but so sad that we didn't get to stay very long. Carrie put tons of work into having an entire bag of wrapped presents for the kids to open in the car on the way home from their house. They didn't get bored all the way home. AND she gave us lunches and snacks, to boot! Are you starting to see why we are so sad they moved away?

Part VI - Nassau, Bahamas

Our last stop on this amazing cruise was Nassau, in the Bahamas. This is probably the mostly highly visited place in the Bahamas. And really, I couldn't see why. Freeport, in our experience, was much prettier, less crowded, and less "tourist-y." But we still had some pretty cool experiences here.
 As we were walking to the beach we walked through some shops and places that people were trying to sell you everything. But everything was so pretty and colorful and fun.
Avri and Talmage got a chance to play some steel drums along with these musicians. The other kids were offered shakers, but they were a little nervous about it.

The view on our way to the beach.
  We finally made it to Junkanoo beach, and it wasn't that great. There was a lot of glass on the beach, so I was nervous that the kids would get cut and it was just generally not as clean. But the sand was still soft.

 So the kids had a good time digging and playing in it.

 Kendall and I, of course, did some more snorkeling.

 And in case you missed the last post, he found a baby octopus...
 In this conch shell!
The two older kids finally decided at this beach that the water was fun to play in. They had been a little nervous about the tide knocking them over. But they played in the water here for a couple of solid hours and had a great time. At one point I took Mercedes to the bathroom and she ended up locking herself in a stall that I couldn't get her out of. I wasn't sure what to do, but with the help of a couple of nice ladies we were able to talk her through how to get out of the stall and we were back on our way to play. We didn't stay at this beach as long as the other one, but it was a lot colder here and not as nice, so we were ready to get back to the boat for more fun!

The entire trip went so quickly! I couldn't believe how fast 5 days went and suddenly it was time to pack up and get ready to leave. But we all had such a fantastic time and we would do it again in a heartbeat!!

Part V - Freeport, Bahamas

Welcome to the island of Freeport, Bahamas. This was an unplanned island on our itinerary, but one that we LOVED!!

 We had to take a taxi ride out to Lucaya Beach. They drive on the wrong side of the road in the Bahamas. Then we walked a little ways to get to the beach. But look how green everything is.
I love the palm trees.

The flowers were beautiful, too.
Once we finally made it to the beach there were vendors everywhere trying to sell you stuff, or braid your hair. The desperately wanted to braid the girls' hair.
 We found a nice spot and the kids got right to work!
 We lathered everyone up with sunscreen, and I think Rigdon got a new coat every half hour. My parents were so worried he would burn.
 The water looked like something out of a picture in a magazine. It was gorgeous. And perfectly warm and calm, I couldn't wait to try snorkeling again.
 So I went out and immediately found some awesome stuff! I couldn't dive down to get stuff, but Kendall would get the stuff that I pointed to. Our most amazing find here were all of the starfish that we found! There were quite a few, and they were big! But you had to look pretty hard to find them.

Aren't they fun?
 We found a bunch of little conch shells, but they were still inhabited, so we couldn't keep them. We got pictures and then put them back.
  My dad spent a bunch of time burying the little ones. They thought this was hilarious!
They had head rests so they laid back and enjoyed the sun.

After we had been at the beach for a few hours Rigdon was getting really tired. So I laid next to him and he fell right to sleep. Little beach bum.
I covered him up so we would fry in the sun.

We eventually got hungry and decided to head back to the ship. I brought snacks for the kids for lunch, but they never wanted to eat. So by about 3:00 I thought we should probably just get back. But we loved this beach. It was perfect.

Next on the itinerary, Nassau, Bahamas.

Part IV 1/2 - Snorkeling Adventures

Here are some of the fish that we saw during our snorkeling adventures. They really were as cool as the pictures make them look! In fact, they were more fun! It's like the difference between seeing a picture of a baby smiling, and hearing him laugh. It's so much more fun in real life, but at least the pictures can remind us of what we saw and how fun it was. As a disclaimer, we didn't take an underwater camera, so I just found these pictures online, but I got pictures that look pretty much identical to what we saw. We saw most of these at the Reef in Key West, unless I stated otherwise.

Barracuda - School of them about 18", some much larger ones down at the bottom about 3'.
Smooth Trunk Fish - 9" long. This one I found in Nassau.
orcupinefish - about 2 1/2' long! These are also called Puffer fish. I think this was my most exciting find!!
Blue Parrot Fish - about 2' long
Blue Tangs - all different sizes
Scorpion Fish - 9" long
Hound Fish - 18" long. Kendall saw these in Nassau.
Sea cushion stars - We found these in Freeport.
Southern Stingray - This one was at Freeport.
Anemone - I found a couple of these in Nassau.
Urchins - These were all over in Freeport.
Sand Dollar - Kendall found these in Nassau and we even got to bring one home.
Conch - We found these everywhere, but in Freeport we actually saw the animal just like in this picture. In fact, this one might have been our own picture.
Cocoa Damselfish - 2 inches or so. I think we saw these fish at all three islands.
These next pictures are all ones that we took. When we were in Nassau, Kendall found some big conch shells. So he got the nicest looking one and brought it back to shore to show the kids. As he get to the shore this tiny little octopus jumped out of the shell into his hand!! I had no idea that they were ever so small!

 Avri and I got to touch it and Kendall drew a huge crowd of people from all over the beach who wanted to see it and touch it and take pictures, and then we put him back in the water. But it was very cool.
I can't wait to go back some day and snorkel again. It was so much fun to explore under the water. Kendall spent so much time doing it that the backs of his calves got really sunburned!