Thursday, September 10, 2009

We made it!!----First day of school 2009

***written in September, not time to edit or worry now so I'm posting as is***
Anyone who talked to me within the last 3 months knows that I had actively been praying that the baby would not arrive before Bracken's first day of school. I didn't want to miss the first day of school for any of the kids but because preschool begins so much later in the year than elementary school I knew that the likelihood of me missing the first day of kindergarten for my oldest child was much more realistic than that of the preschoolers. Thankfully Bracken had his first day on Monday August 24th and Lexie was born three days later, what a good little girl she was to wait!

I'm still playing catch-up with my blog [ha, I wrote that three months just look how behind I am] so I am not back to writing my lengthy diatribes yet, instead I am opting to continue documenting our goings-on through photos and captions. Time passes so quickly that I have a hard time holding onto these memories unless they are captured somewhere on film/flashcard/my hard drive/or the internet. I know that I am taking the easy way out by opting to blog and have a book printed rather than scrapbooking for each individual child but at this stage of life I'll take what I can get.

Bracken has had a great year so far but continues to be a little apprehensive about certain things, like being dropped off and having to walk into school on his own. Because we live less than 2 miles from the brand new elementary school Bracken is considered a "walker" but obviously a 5-year-old can't walk that distance along a semi-busy street alone so instead he is a "car rider" child. We are all sad that he doesn't take the bus and he asks me all the time when he will get to but for as long as we live in this house I guess I will be sitting in car lines with my gaggle of children.

Anyway, we walked Bracken into school and to his classroom everyday for the first 3 weeks but now he's on his own. He definitely knows how to find his classroom and by now I assume he knows most of the kids in his class so it shouldn't be a scary experience. When I asked him when he would feel comfortable walking in alone he told me he would once he got to know everyone at the school...we are not waiting for that to happen. Unfortunately for Bracken now that Grandpa has gone home and Daddy is back to traveling, I have to take all 5 kids with me for the 7:30 AM drop-off and that means he is definitely walking in alone. What a big kid!

Now if only Justin and I could just learn to let go a little. We are both suffering from major anxiety over whether or not Bracken is happy and well-adjusted. He always seems to have a lot of friends, but last night at bedtime he said that he "didn't like it when other kids said mean things about [him]". I immediately began to freak out inside but in a calm voice I asked him if anyone at school was saying mean things about him. He said he couldn't remember what they said so I asked him who was saying the mean things, then he proceeded to tell me that no one was really saying anything mean but that it would hurt his feelings, oh, and that Jett is always grumpy and Bracken doesn't like that.

I'm not sure what to think of the strange conversation. Was he just making a rhetorical statement or was there an incident he isn't telling me about? Parenting is very stressful. We just really want to be able to shield our kids from everything that might make them sad or jaded. In an attempt to do a little sleuthing Justin went to lunch with Bracken today at school. I think it did more damage than good because Justin came home freaking out about what a big kid Bracken is and how he (Justin) just wants to put us all in a big bubble and protect us from the world. I think that's a little extreme considering we are talking about kindergarten worries. Anyway, I have set up a few play dates to be sure Bracken has some good friends (other than his cute BFF Emily who sits next to him in class).

This was taken at Bracken's "practice day" of Kindergarten on August, 21st. Again with the faces???

He's in The Cat in the Hat classroom

This was after we got home from the "practice day" I didn't know until taking this picture that Bracken had taken a Book of Mormon with him to little missionary!

Grandpa Lee took this picture the week he came to wait for Lexie's birth, before school started and before the school was finished being built.

After a few days Bracken asked me to stop sending "love notes" in his lunch box because he doesn't feel that he can wipe his face on such nice pictures. Hmm. He does still like it that his sandwich appears in a new shape every day.

Breakfast at 6:30 AM, still dark outside.

Yeah, hey, what's up, I'm five.

My guys!

Holy pregnant lady!! [now that it's been 10 weeks I am shocked to see that belly!!] Three days before Lexie's arrival!

This was their idea, Best Friends!!

Hey look Mom, my cubby is first!! Oh the joys of a last name that starts with "A"!

Abbie and Tate seem to be adjusting rather well to their new situations as well, granted they have only had one week so far. I knew Abbie would have no problem because she is quite confident and very social. She also went to this same school last year and is familiar with a lot of the people there. She has graduated up into Bracken's old classroom and has the same assistant teacher that Bracken had last year so she had no qualms about running right in and getting things started. Tate is still trying to figure things out I think. I'm sure he is the youngest one in his class because he only turned 3 two weeks before school started. Thankfully potty training him wasn't as difficult as I had anticipated and he was definitely ready in that regard [I spoke too soon, now that it is November he has regressed a little and is totally lazy about potty training].

I felt like a horrible mother doing it but I did call and give his teacher a heads-up about what it may be like to have Tate in her class. The phone call occurred while I was still pregnant and quite scatter-brained, for some reason I had felt quite a bit of urgency about talking to this woman and explaining to her that Tate is very difficult to communicate with and that he seems to have some anger management issues. However, after playing phone tag, once I finally had her on the phone I wasn't sure exactly what I should say, "Hi, Ms. Nancy, I'm just calling to tell you that my child can be awful, and can drive you crazy, and might make you want to scream as he tests every single rule and limit you try to instill." Nancy didn't seem to know how to react to that news but did her best to reassure me that everything would be fine. She told me not to worry and that her three-year-old son couldn't even recognize all of his letters yet. HA! Letters were the least of my worries, I was more concerned that he may hurl a metal truck at another child's head.

Anyway, all is well and life is crazy busy. Thank you new school year for getting my kids out of the house for several hours each day. No thank you to the amount of time Ruby, Lexie, and I spend getting in and out of the car each day!!!

Two weeks later, the first day for Abbs and Tate!

Grandpa and Tate blinded by the sun.

Tate and his beloved Wall-E backpack. I am not a fan of character anything (clothing, backpack's, umbrella's, etc. but my children are wearing me have I let this happen?)

Walking into Peace Lutheran Preschool

My new little Lex

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Allen family Road trip 2009: Part 1, Arizona

At the beginning of the summer I was giving my friend Jackie major grief for agreeing to a cross-country road trip with her four young children while she was pregnant with her fifth. I told her that after driving to Austin last summer I would think long and hard before embarking on a similar adventure in the car with my kids. She seemed very brave (even enthusiastic) about the whole thing. She and her family were to drive from Austin to San Diego then backtrack to Arizona to spend time with both sets of the kids grandparents. I wished her luck and told her I hoped she'd survive.

Little did I know that an idea for a trip was brewing in the mind of my father. It all started rather innocently as a discussion about the family condo in St.George, Utah that we have all been grossly neglecting. One thing lead to another and all of a sudden we found ourselves packing the car and making reservations. Our vacation destinations were Phoenix, Las Vegas, and St. George, with many pit stops along the way.

hiding out in the hotel hallway

found ya!

exploring hotel grounds

love these ducks

time with grandpa

now can we get in mom?

her princess obsession began much earlier than Abbie's


the love of Ruby's life

shall we dance?

Happy 4th of July

the story of my life

Bracken retrieving his runaway sister

two cute boys holding hands

power walking

we've finally seen a real cactus, like in cartoons (not like the little ones in Texas)

looking for fish

baking in the sun

mom, we can't see a thing

bathing beauty

last chance to wear this dress before passing it down to My-My (Mylie) for next year

The Arizona portion of our trip was so much fun that I wish I had done a better job of documenting all we did, unfortunately the summer was so crazy that there was just not enough time to blog about our adventures in a timely fashion. This was only the first leg of the trip but it proved to be a very eventful and fun time. I must admit that we spent most of our time just being together and relaxing poolside. The kids got some quality time with grandpa and we all got to enjoy the beautiful resort. With a zillion little kids and a huge pregnant belly it's always great to stay places that you don't have to leave to have fun. The hotel was amazing and the kids had a great time in all of the beautiful pools.

I had only been to Arizona one other time in my life and that was when I was 14 or 15 to visit my fun cousins Megan and Heather. It was great to become more familiar with the area and to get to visit with Megan and her sweet new baby---thanks for coming over to our hotel so we could catch up! It was also so fun to get to see the beautiful new home and baby of our great friends Rachel and J, and of course baby Chloe!!

Looking back at all of these pictures now I realize that the photos I should have taken would have been of us all crammed into the car like sardines. We drove over 3,000 miles on our trip and we were definitely worse for the wear. I will have to leave it up to your imagination to guess what a car filled with 4 children, 4 car seats, 2 adults (one hugely pregnant), 2 double strollers, beach towels, luggage, and snacks looked wasn't pretty. Each time we opened the door things would flow out of the car like a tidal wave. As our car would approach the entrance for check-in at our luxury hotels I would shoot evil looks at the bell men as they came to open the car doors for us, some of them took the hint and backed away while others were oblivious and were showered in Allen family paraphernalia---completely humiliating but truly the stuff family vacations are made of!