What a Trip

Our flight left on Friday evening and we didn’t return until two weeks (and one day) later.

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Here we goooooo. (Sep 11 part 2)

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It was the longest trip I’ve ever been on. By far the longest for Alex, and Zach, too. We’ve been lucky enough to go on a few one week trips, but two weeks is a whole different thing.

Through Paris, we flew into Florence, Italy, where we picked up a rental car and drove into the hills of Tuscany for one week.


The little village we stayed in was wonderful. It was very small, with only a few restaurants, and no grocery store. We had to drive to the “big” town a few kilometers away for the grocery store.

Alex, Zach, and I travelled with Zach’s parents, and met up with two uncles and their wives for the week in Italy. We visited Pisa, Lucca, Florence, and a few small villages. We ate tons of food, and drank a ton of wine.

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Selfie time. Obviously. (Sep 14 part 5)

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Our second week was France, leaving behind the uncles and aunts. After Italy, France had a lot to live up to. It didn’t disappoint.

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Good morning, Avignon. (Sep 21)

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We are jet lagged, exhausted, surrounded by dirty laundry, and so, so, happy. Experiencing something like this, a two week trip to Europe, is an unbelievable experience.

It still feels surreal.

(More to come. But: jet lag. Laundry. Errands. Over two thousand photos to look through. You know, the normal life stuff.)

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Look what we finally found! (Sep 24 part 3)

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Second

I changed schools a few weeks into second grade. The school that I had attended in first grade wasn’t working so well in second. I came home crying, afraid that I was going to be shot on the bus. I came home crying because all of my friends went off to the “Gifted Program”, which I missed getting into by one IQ point during whatever test they give first and second graders. Whatever test none of us could sit through, yet decided my public school fate. A test I have since learned how to take, but at the time just wanted to finish so I could get back to the classroom. I came home crying because I was bored. Literally bored to tears. I came home crying because I was miserable and felt like I didn’t fit in and never would and no one seemed to care.

Second grade ended up being an amazing year for me after I switched schools. I still know people that I met that year; I still consider one of them a good friend. I remember my teacher Emily. She was short and had very short hair. I remember the reading corner and I remember getting into trouble for saying “sucks” again and again without even realizing the word was coming out of my mouth. I remember pretending to read faster than I could because I wanted to be with the two friends I made the very first day I started. I remember eventually getting to join their faster-reading group after a few months.

I no longer hated school. I no longer came home crying.

Alex started second grade on Monday.

I don’t want Alex to hate school. Not at this point, when he will likely have many memories from this year of school. Not at this point when he is able to comprehend the importance of school but still hate it. Not at this point when he is forming his opinion about himself as a student, as a learner, and as a person.

He didn’t come home crying the first or second day. Instead he cries in the morning before it’s time to go. At pick-up, he tells me that he had a bad day: they had a writing assignment and he didn’t like it, he isn’t in a class with any of his friends, his teacher was “cross” (not to him, mind you, but to other kids), the kids are all mean. There isn’t enough time to play, or to eat, or to talk. He doesn’t want to read out loud or write or learn new ways of doing math.

First Day: Second Grade

It’s hard to figure out how much of his hatred of school is related to the school itself and how much is related to his fear of failure. His anxiety. I have no doubt in my mind that every kid is not mean, regardless of how many times he tries to convince me it’s true. I have no doubt in my mind that he isn’t the only kid who isn’t reading at a fifth grade level as he begins second grade. There is no way that every single thing was terrible, horrible, no good, very bad.

First Day: Second Grade

I’m sure it’s a combination of factors. Whatever that combination may be, I have to hope that today will be a better day.

First Day: Second Grade<

Some Days, Part 6 (The Summer Edition)

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Heeeeey, Taylor. (June 6 part 5)

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WE LOVE ICE CREAM OMG. (June 8 part 2)

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Hello, gorgeous. (June 9 part 2)

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Mary Poppins o'clock! (June 18 part 2)

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Wheeeeee! (July 15 part 3)

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Friends make Kennywood even better. (July 15 part 4)

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Bathroom selfie. #rachbachelmira

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Selfie o'clock! (July 29 part 4)

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He caught a fish! (July 30)

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First ride of the day. Amazing. (Aug 11)

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Boat day. Aw, yeah. (Aug 15)

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Oh, those boys of mine. (Aug 20 part 2)

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First Grade: Nailed It

Well, I officially have a second grader living in my house.

Last Day of First Grade!

Who let that happen?

Last Day of First Grade!

First grade ended up being an “okay” year for Alex, if you ask him. It wasn’t as fun as Kindergarten, but he thinks it is going to have been a lot better than the dreaded second grade.

He learned to read. He learned to add and subtract and some basic multiplication. He learned to swing really high, run really fast, and climb farther than ever before. He made friends, a few that he will be seeing regularly this summer. He adored his first grade teacher.

He also learned that kids are mean, that they are judgmental, and that they will hurt your feelings again and again if you let them. He learned some ways to cope with that, and the importance of recognizing when to tell a teacher. He learned to say “screw them”, only in his head!, because honestly, that’s the best I could usually come up with and it often made him laugh. He learned that his parents, his family, and his friends, love and respect him, and that anyone who does not is not worth his time.

Last Day of First Grade!

I know I’m biased, but I think he nailed first grade. He came, he saw, he conquered, and now we have an amazing summer to spend together. We have ten weeks of camps, traveling, activities, and days with nothing at all to do. Ten weeks of pools, amusement parks, playgrounds, and sitting around the house finding entertainment in the most unexpected places.

And also, maybe, growing another eight bajillion inches? (First day versus last day of first grade is crazy!)

Last Day of First Grade!

A Touch More Magic

It’s been about two months since we were in beautiful, magical, Disney World.

When I got the e-mail that our Disney Photopass pictures were going to expire, I scoffed. Why would I pay money for pictures when I took a million and mine are probably way better anyway?

But I’m a curious person, so I went through the pictures. And, I have to admit, there are some really hilarious pictures from the rides. I didn’t quite realize that they were taking pictures on all of these rides, which is evident in how awful I look in all of them. But they are awesome all the same.

Did Alex enjoy the Tower of Terror? If you had any doubt, this pictures proves that he wasn’t lying: he hated it.

Disney Ride Photos

Seeing how happy Zach was in all of the pictures was another question answered. Did he really love it? Well, yeah. The pictures prove it.

Disney Ride Photos

So, I broke down and bought some. I even purchased a family shot because it was so cute. (I had the photo guy take one with my own camera, but he didn’t have us do the silly face, so, good job, Disney! Smart move.)

Disney Ride Photos

I seriously can’t wait to go back.

Some Days, Part 5

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Hey pretty city, from the back of an uber! (May 26)

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Cute. (May 27 part 2)

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Circumspect Alex

Until two weeks ago, Alex has never had a scraped knee.

I don’t remember a time when Alex wasn’t cautious. He’s always been extremely curious about things, but his worry of what might happen should he do them kept him away. His caution on playground equipment, climbing walls, large rocks, you name it!, has kept him pretty safe.

Leave it to this kid, though, to fall while walking and get his first scraped knee.

Scootering!

Because of this fear of hurting himself, he still doesn’t know how to ride a bike. He can’t let himself go fast enough to actually balance, so…he doesn’t. And now? Well, now he knows what happens if you fall on your knee and, “Mooom! I’m not doing that because falling hurts!”

So, the bike sits in the garage and every once in a while I take him out and try to get him to learn and basically I just end up frustrated and he ends up frustrated and we go home angry with each other.

But I wanted him to have some way to get around the neighborhood a little faster, some activity that would be kind of fun if we decide to walk to the ice cream shop this summer, but a bike is no guarantee. Enter: scooter!

Scootering!

He loves this thing.

The knee pads and elbow pads meant that he wasn’t scared, and I’ll make him wear a helmet once he goes faster than my very-slow-leisurely-stroll of a walking pace. So far he just putters along, very proud of himself.

Ever circumspect. Never careless.

Scootering!