During the last week of school, our elementary school put on a parade with all of the students at the school who received a B or better grade in conduct. The parade was planned for a very long time and the kids were SOOO excited about it. When I first heard about it I thought it was just going to be in the halls of the school. But, boy was I wrong!! It was a full-blown parade complete with clowns and fire truck. So we found a great place to watch the parade from and waited. We look really cool in our sunglasses...
And here comes the parade.
The principal and secretary sang songs on their own little float.
There were cheerleaders,
and Avri was a baton twirler.
They closed down the streets for a few blocks and filled the road! It was really fun.
One of Avri's best friends since preschool waved to the camera. Hi Campbell!!
And our neighbor boy, Eric next to Avri's teacher, Mr. Jacobson.
Avri's kindergarten teacher retired this year, so she got a crown and an escort in the parade.
Mr. Jacobson had a difficult job keeping not only a group of boys, but all of their basketballs under control. haha!
And while we are talking about the end of the year, I will go ahead and put pictures from the awards assembly. Mr. Jacobson and Mr. Whetterauer (Avri's teacher and principal) reading off the awards.
Avri got a medal for the schoolwide reading program. She reached ALL of her reading goals for the year. So that includes number of books read as well as testing accuracy (100%) and grade level.
She was so humble about it, but I could tell she was really pleased.
She's such a smart little cookie.
Back in the classroom with her teacher.
There was also an end of year concert. It was very cute and well organized. Avri is in the front, near the center here. We had terrible seats and I didn't have the good camera. Oh well. The concert was still fun.
Two little buddies.
I also got to attend Avri's field trip to Wildlife Prairie State Park. It was hot, but the kids had a lot of fun looking for all of the animals and things on their checklists and marking them off.
Waiting in the tiny bit of shade for lunch.
Even Mr. Jacobson got to sit in the shade for a couple of minutes.
Avri has lots of little friends. She's a sweet girl.
Avri had such a fabulous year and really thrived in Mr. Jacobson's class. Her reading is amazing, she comprehends more than I could have ever believed, she loves algebra and geometry and writing. She is getting quite fluent in Spanish and can't wait to get older and be able to be involved in the orchestra at school. She's such a smart little girl and we are so proud of her.
This post is a long time in the making. But I finally got permission from Kendall to release it.
Here is our dreary back yard, 4 years ago when we moved in. The slope to the yard doesn't look as bad as it really was, but there wasn't a single flat place to put a swingset or trampoline. The view from the edge of the yard. Nothing grew in the back yard. Weeds barely grew back there. Another view. You can also see Kendall working on splitting his firewood and stacking it up by the shed. The first item of business was putting in a drainage pipe to allow the water from the front yard to drain all the way back to the ravine behind our house. Next Kendall started digging the trench that would be the spot for the retaining wall. You can see how muddy it gets, and the clay doesn't drain the water at all. There was standing water back there for months at a time. Finally, a spot that is dug to the point where Kendall can lay the first block for the wall. This happened June 30, 2009 (during the time that he was still laid off). The base line of blocks is the most important and most difficult to lay. Trying to get them perfectly level and straight is no easy feat. The wall is coming along! (Still June of 2009) Once Kendall got a job and went back to work, it was REALLY hard to find the time to work on the wall. This is about where it sat for all of 2010. The stairs were tricky. They took more time than the rest of the wall, all put together, and blocks had to be cut and ground down to fit nicely. But don't they look good? Before we could finish the project we had to cut down a couple of large trees. They were hanging over the roof of the house. The squirrels loved climbing the trees and then hiding their nuts in the shingles, which was ruining the roof. So, Kendall and my Dad got to work cutting down a couple of trees that didn't seem so big, until you start climbing up into them! Can you see Kendall up in the tree? You might have to click on the picture and make it bigger. That ladder is the biggest one my dad has and it looks tiny next to the tree! There he is! About 20 feet off the ground with a chain saw in his hand. Here is a short video of the tree coming down. It is sideways, sorry. This happened in October 2010 when Rigdon was barely a month old.
Once the trees were down it would seem that the hard part was over. Not hardly. The roots had to be dug out by hand and chopped at to get the stumps out. Holy cow, I had no idea how hard of a worker I was marrying. But thank goodness! Here is one of the tree trunks finally out. This thing is like 10 feet tall! Then we had to fill in the holes! Any lesser of a man would have stopped months before this and just hired the whole thing out! FINALLY, the wall is finished, the sandbox is in place, with clean, fresh, soft sand. The two gaps in the top layer of bricks are for the slides that go there. Time to plant grass seed! And a closer view of those stairs.
We decided that this project had been dragged out seriously too long! So this is the year we finish the back yard. Kendall went and spent a few hundred dollars on the last of the blocks that we needed and got to work on the part of the wall that goes around the big oak tree.
This is where I need to put in two bits about how HARD this work is!! Kendall has done most of it himself as I make meals, watch kids, change diapers, break up fights, etc... But one day I decided to do a favor for Kendall and I put in a FEW HOURS of back breaking hard work and I got about 1 1/2 rows of blocks laid and dirt packed in and behind them. These blocks each weigh over 50 lbs and I was exhausted by the end of the day. But it was worth seeing the look on Kendall's face when he saw what I had accomplished.
The kids helped by picking up rocks from the back yard. Mostly they liked to get out shovels and dig holes wherever they wanted.
We still need to get caps for the top of the new part. Now to smooth out the ground and give it a nice slope to the rear to drain any water away from the house.
And we get out the tiller once again.
We have spent countless nights working until well past dark. But here you can see the back yard is tilled and ready for smoothing and leveling. This part always seems like it should be easier than it is. It should just be move a little dirt from here to there, no big deal. NOT EVEN! More like, fill the wheelbarrow with dirt about 150 times and put it somewhere else.
Apparently I don't have pictures of when we laid the grass seed. But that pretty much just looks like dirt anyway. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. And FINALLY we got some grass. Both on the bottom level...
and on the top level.
This is probably the best the yard looked this year. Unfortunatly we've been in a major drought as well as having temperatures over 100 for the last few weeks. So our grass is not looking this green anymore. But I know it will come back next year.
The last step is putting the cap blocks on the wall around the oak tree. This step was a lot harder than it sounds because the caps were rectangular, but since they were going around a curve they each had to be cut with a special saw. But Kendall's amazing and had no problem with that either.
It made so much dust!!
Isn't he so good looking? I married an amazing man.
Finished wall!! This is more exciting to me that you can imagine!!!
See the thinning grass? Dumb weather.
But now we have a couple of swings, two slides, a sandbox AND a yard to play in!!!
Around the tree I'm going to plant my rhubarb and some other plants and flowers, but probably not until we start getting some rain.
I think after all of this we will very seriously be looking at the landscaping of the next house that we buy. It should be FINISHED!!!