Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tomorrow's Poetry-- Just Let it Go!

The ward talent show at church was this past weekend. Allyson had a hard time deciding which of her many budding talents to put on display. Should she dance, sing, play the piano, read a book, tell jokes, recite poetry, hula hoop . . . . The possibilities were endless.

Cora also wanted to participate, but I was afraid she'd be too bashful and clam up once she got on stage. Ally decided she'd share the spotlight with Cora to give her a little more courage and help her if necessary. They had some artistic differences to overcome before finally settling on their act-- two days before the show.

So, without further ado, I present Annie and the Twirling Orphan. (Special thanks goes out to grandma for providing the trademark red hair.)

April is National Poetry month, and Ally really embraced the concept of reading and writing poems. A few weeks ago, the librarian at school asked her to make a morning announcement about "Poem in Your Pocket Day" and to read a poem over the PA system. (Keep in mind that the school has about 900 students.) Ally joyfully accepted that task, AND she chose to read an original poem. I went down to her classroom that morning to listen to her voice come over the loudspeakers, and was left grinning ear-to-ear with pride and amazement at the cuteness and confidence in her voice. When I got back up to the front office to congratulate Ally, I had to wait for her to finish signing autographs and getting her picture taken. She had blown the assistant principal and other staff away with her "performance".

With that experience fresh in her mind, Ally also opted to provide a poetry act for the talent show. Here she is presenting four short poems:

And one more video to finish this post out--
When Ally was trying to choose her act, the only constraint I made (and this was a big one) was the they couldn't do any performance involving Frozen. I figured there would be multiple Elsa, Anna, Olfa, and Sven-loving Reindeer songs; they needed to do something different, and I think they did their "something different" very well. If I had allowed Ally to go with her original idea however, it probably would've played out something like this:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow Daze

On Tuesday evening we got a phone call from Guilford County, announcing that all schools would be closed on Wednesday. (We have had a closing, a delay, or an early release at least once a week since before Christmas vacation.) I was happy they called at 8:30pm, instead of the usual 11:15pm or 5:00am. I hoped to be able to sleep in, but Cora wasn't going to let that happen. She woke up at 7:10am and declared, "Yay! I slept in!" Ally was awake and running shortly thereafter.

We looked out the window to find overcast skies but no snow. I checked the weather forecast, and the snow wasn't scheduled to hit us until 2pm. What do you do when you have a snow day with no snow? We took advantage of the free day by making waffles for breakfast and then heading out to the Greensboro Sciquarium.
No penguins for us :(
The waffles were great, but the Science Center was a bust. In preparation for the big snow, they never opened that morning. (Next time I'll be old school and call instead of just checking their website for any notices.) Not wanting to go home, we decided to do some window shopping far away from the last minute "I have to buy milk, bread, and eggs before the big storm" crazy crowd. We drove to Tuesday Morning and wandered around the almost vacant store before going next door to Great Clips.

This was Cora's first haircut, unless you count the one she got back in October when she and Ally used the paper scissors on their hair while playing unsupervised in our living room. (They didn't do too bad of a job; I didn't know about it until weeks later when my mom was visiting and asked about Cora's short/non-existent bangs. I need to be more observant!) I love how she had her ankles crossed the entire time and was sporting her ruby reds!

Ally also wanted a little trim, which was fine by me. Her last haircut was over a year ago. The lady ended up cutting off at least 2 inches of fuzzy split ends. Ally's hair is so long that the stylist sat in the chair while Ally stood in front of her. Ally was worried that her hair would end up being "too short", but it still hits just above her waist.

Not wanting to go home just yet, we next wandered across the street to CVS. While we were there, the snow finally started to fall. And it accumulated rather quickly. Within the hour, we had over an inch. Thankfully, Chris was released from work early, and we all went outside to play.
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Within 2 hours, we had two to three inches of white fluffy stuff on the ground. The girls made snow angels and Daddy made a mini-snowman on the hood of my car. Then the family at the end of our cul-de-sac invited us to go sledding down their front yard. Amazing, Ally was all for it but Cora (our usual daredevil) would only sled down with me. We finished the day's adventures with a big bowl of fresh snow cream.

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Crawling home through the snow.

While we were sleeping, the storm changed over to sleet and freezing rain, which melted/compressed our 7 inches of snow down to just a few inches. Chris' office was closed on Thursday, so he went out and played with the girls again before we got an additional 2 inches of fluff. Here's their snowman. Those strawberry eyes come with some awesome natural eyelashes!

Cora tried to make more snow angels, but she didn't weigh enough to make an imprint. (She is so light / the ice was so thick that she didn't even leave footprints as she walked.) Chris, however, did not have that same problem:
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Friday (Day #3) was another cancelled school day. That's what happens when there aren't enough snowplows and salt trucks to go around. Chris was on a 2 hour delay for work, so we watched his car's tires spin out while he tried pulling out of the driveway. He was eventually successful and slowly made his way down our snowy street and out of sight.

The girls and I continued to be snowed in today. We spent our time reading, cleaning, dancing, cooking, watching the snowman melt (her head fell off!), and decorating Daddy's big card with stickers, markers, and glitter glue. We still have snow on the ground. It's been fun, but hopefully the remain white stuff will melt away tomorrow morning so we can resume our normal activities.


Happy Valentine's Day!!!



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Recent Pictures

Hello, blogging world! My mom has been begging me for updates-- specifically pictures of her granddaughters. Her birthday is just around the corner, so I figure I'd better give her something. . .

Greensboro Christmas Parade

Jess' CNM graduation at Vandy

Manny's Deli at Myrtle Beach

Columbia, SC capitol tour

President Andrew Jackson's birthplace

Runaway Elephant at the Riverbanks Zoo

If we get snowed in this week, then maybe I'll find the time to upload more pictures with some commentary about our last 5 to 36 months of adventures. (But-- you know my track record-- don't hold your breath.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Just for the Record

I love this kid!
I am so proud of her.
She's had a torturous three weeks at school.
Through most of it, she has managed to hold her emotions and frustrations in check.
She has displayed more patience than many adults (including me).
She has persevered and, at times, just plain hung in there.
She has been a trooper.

Now we have a plan, and things are finally going to change.
Now Ally says, "A big chunk of my headache is gone! Now maybe I can finally start learning."

I want to take back all those times in the past that I had wished she'd just grow up!
I can't believe she's only six-and-a-half; she's so much wiser than that number.
I am amazed by her.
I have learned a lot from her.
I feel blessed to be her mother.

I love you, Allyson, and I am so proud of you!



Also, just for the record. . .
I love this kid, too!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

As Coroner She Must Aver. . .

We've had a very busy summer thus far. I'll blog all about it . . . eventually. . . maybe?

Until then, here's a clip from Ally's performance at Munchkinland camp two days ago. (See, on occasion I can post things in a timely manner.)

I'm not sure about the selection of costumes, but the kids did a great job and had a lot of fun.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's the Middle of Summer, but Here's Spring Break!

One-eyed Paul the Pirate
We decided to spend most of Ally's spring break in Selma. Chris had to work to help pay for our exploits, but we managed to have fun with his dad as our chaperone instead.

Our first order of business was a trip to the beach at Fort Macon. This is one of Grampy's favorite spots.




The weather was cold and overcast, so we only stayed for an hour or two. But that was enough time to collect seashells, dig a few holes, and enjoy the waves. True to past trips, Ally and Cora insisted on putting their feet in the freezing-cold water. . . which means they ended up wet beyond their knees.
Of course, the sun finally came to stay just as soon as we loaded up the car and were leaving the parking lot. We had a beautiful sun-shiny ride home. We contemplated turning around and just being beach bums for a few days, but figured Grammy Norma would worry if we didn't show up for dinner.

We spent the following days chillin' at the house. Chillin' because it was so cold. The girls and I slept in each morning while Grampy went and worked out at the gym for three hours. Ally and Cora read through their collection of old kids' books, blew bubbles on the front lawn, rode bikes in the garage, and raided their kitchen pantry. In the afternoons Grampy took us to an awesome park, an indoor splash pool at the gym, and Hill's of Snow for some tasty sno-cones. We also spent a little time with cousins Nate and Maddie.
Pink and Purple: still the colors of choice

Since Chris had dropped us off at his parents' and fled town, we had to find a way home. When planning this trip we looked up Amtrak just for fun and realized they had a perfectly-timed train running from Selma to Greensboro. Kids travel for half price, so the cost was comparable to having Chris drive all the way out to pick us back up-- and trains don't have to deal with Raleigh's/I-40's rush hour traffic/accidents/delays/construction. I've wanted to travel by train with the girls for awhile, so this was the perfect excuse.

Grampy was kind enough to take us down to the station. The train was running about an hour late, so we had plenty of time to explore every exhibit in the small but historic building.

* * * Let's interrupt this travelog for a bit of history:

When we first moved to Greensboro, we found a historical marker on an old downtown building. It states: "In this store Lunsford Richardson (1854-1919) during his joint ownership from 1890 to 1898 developed a line of home remedies of which Vicks Vaporub became world-renowned for the relief of the common cold."
This plaque led me to believe my current hometown is the birthplace of Vicks, and I filed that little fact away in my head and --on occasion-- shared it with people.

While perusing the Selma train station and brushing up on my Johnston County NC history, I found this sign posted on the wall:
Mr. Richardson probably never imagined he'd be so famous that two places would claim him as a hometown hero and try to take credit for birthing his smelly health remedy.  Anyway, back to recording our Spring Break Trip * * *

Eventually the train arrived. The girls quickly gave Grampy some good-bye kisses on the platform . . in the pouring rain. . . even under an umbrella (how romantic!). . . and then we boarded our locomotive.

Although both Ally and Cora easily fit within the carry-on luggage dimensions, I made them walk up the stairs themselves. We were escorted to our seats, and then we waved at Grampy from the window as we pulled out.


We loved traveling by train. The seats were clean and even wider than first class looks on an airplane. Ally and Cora had plenty of leg room, as did I. We enjoyed watching the scenery, walking between seats, eating snacks, coloring, sending texts to Daddy, and playing on the tablet.

All was going well until, about a mile beyond the Cary station, the train came to a dead stop. . . in the woods. Fortunately, by taking the train, we were able to avoid all the hassle of rush hour traffic around Raleigh. Unfortunately, what we didn't avoid was a downed tree that fell perfectly across a particular track and impeded our progress. Go figure!

Although the incident added an additional hour to our travel, the girls were good sports about it and so was I. We appreciated being able to walk around instead of being stuck buckled into a stationary car. Daddy was waiting to pick us up when we arrived. He took us home and tucked us into bed.

The next day (Friday) was still Spring Break, but it deserves a separate entry. It was Ally's birthday, and we had another adventure to take!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

AquaBrave

Our little mermaids have started their summer of fun by learning to swim. They've had seven lessons thus far (technically only 6.3 lessons for Cora since there was a "code brown" today and they had to clear the pool) and have only one left.

Yesterday Ally did something spectacular. And, since I'm awake, I figured I'd share her accomplishment instead of waiting three months to do so. Here's a hint:

But, let's start at the beginning. . .
 
Thanks to last year's lessons, Ally started the summer being able to float, hold her breath, and swim a short distance under water. She was semi-comfortable but definitely not proficient enough to be more than an arms' length away from me. Last week she was introduced to jumping in, the freestyle stroke, and the art of taking breaths while continuing to swim. Here she is in 4 feet of water, which is just enough to be over her head. (She's the smallest in her class and the only one that can't stand.)

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Somewhere along the line she learned how to tread water and do the backstroke.

video

On Tuesday --well ahead of schedule-- the teacher tested everyone to see if they could pass the level. They all swam the length of the pool (25 yards) and back, which meant they qualified to try out the two deeper pools.

Ally was a little nervous jumping in at 9 feet (the shallow end of the Olympic pool), but she held her breath and took the plunge before I was even ready with the camera. She popped up out of the water with a smile on her face and then swam to the edge. Then they walked over to the diving well and sat/swam on the edge of the 17 foot cliff, until their teacher said it was time to jump in.

I'm thrilled that Ally had the skills to do it.
I'm impressed that she had the guts to do it.
I'm super-surprised that she went first.
I'm thankful she survived and had fun doing it.

video

The facility where we take lessons is state-of-the-art and has hosted Olympic trials and other national competitions. My favorite of its "claims to fame" was an off-beat, low-ratings TV special featuring Terrell Owens and other personalities which aired earlier this year. Maybe the "first jump" you just watched is the start of Ally's future as a celebrity diver?


That's enough of praising Ally. Now it's time to give a shout out to my little clownfish Cora. She's never had much fear of the pool. (Originally she was petrified of the ocean and wouldn't go in it until the end of last year, but I'm pretty sure that was a fear of waves rather than water.) I wanted her to take swim lessons for safety, whereas Ally needed them more for confidence.

Cora was splashing around and dunking her head like a pro from day one. I have a hard time getting her to not push me away. Her newest tricks include floating (unassisted unlike the picture) and bouncing off the bottom of the 3.5 foot pool. She's also started to tread/swim a little, which is something that's not covered in her beginner class.


I'm so proud of my brave little mermaids!