School Begins Again

Yesterday kicked off the new school year. Liam began fourth grade and Jamie began kindergarten. It’s a big year for both of them. In Liam’s case, he changes classes this year so he has three teachers instead of just the one. He is also starting band this year and taking on the trumpet. I know he’ll do great but I also know he was a bit anxious about it all.

For Jamie, it’s a switch to school 5 days a week. It’s still only half days like preschool was but now he gets to ride the bus in the morning and he has a spot at a table that’s all his and a locker for his bag. Jamie has been anxious, too. Yesterday he had orientation (which parents attended) and he was feeling very shy and clingy. This morning he was asking all kinds of questions about how things work. He’ll get through it and he’s going to love it but it’s a lot to process for him.

This is the best picture Liam would let me take. Stinker.

This is the best picture Liam would let me take. Stinker.

Outakes

Outakes

Getting ready to go to orientation.

Getting ready to go to orientation.

This morning was our first morning on the new schedule of getting TWO kids out the door at the same time. Um. That was hectic – more than I expected it to be. I’m going to have to practice or make some adjustments to the morning routine to make it all work. But, we finally managed to get everything together and get out of the house on time and up to the bus stop. Jamie was going to get to ride the bus with his brother for the first time. He’d been looking forward to this for YEARS.

Ready!

Ready!

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They’re off! I’m the mother of two school age children!

When Liam came home yesterday he said that his first day was good and he was in very good spirits. I think a lot of his anxiety eased once he got to school and dug into the first day.

I picked Jamie up today and he was a chatterbox. School was good! They went on a very long walk! His legs are tired! Police cars stopped traffic for their walk and the first car was Officer Zola! (He taught them bus safety yesterday.)

Next week we settle into the new schedule full time. We’re off to a great start!

The End of Summer

Today marks the last day of summer. Tomorrow Liam starts fourth (!!) grade and Jamie starts kindergarten.  Big changes are afoot in our house.

But before we jump into school and all its obligations, I should recap our summer a bit. Hectic as it was at times, we managed to have a good deal of fun.

The day after Jamie’s cast came off, I set up an inflatable pool in the yard and let the kids have some water fun. Liam had been dying to go to the pool and I just couldn’t find a way to manage it while Jamie was casted. But, the outdoor pool was a welcome bit of fun after 6 weeks of waiting.

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The following week the kids started swim lessons for the summer. Liam was taking a Basic Strokes class and Jamie was in Intro to Swim. They both passed with flying colors and lessons seemed less onerous this year since both kids were in the pool for the same period of time. Now that Liam has passed his class, he is fully safe in the water and he can quit lessons. Jamie has a few years yet, though.

The last day of lessons is always Fun Day. They turn on the water play stuff in the kid section, they let the kids go down the water slides, and give them a chance to jump off the diving boards. It’s usually pretty fun for the kids.

Jamie under the waterfall

Jamie under the waterfall

 

Ninja Spud

Ninja Spud

After swim lessons were over it was time for the kids to go on a trip with Granddad. This year they went to Hershey for a few days. They went to Hershey World and hit a water park (their favorite!) and in general had a good time. Apparently they’re already discussing where they’d like to go next year.

On the Hershey World tour

On the Hershey World tour

The following week, their cousin, Becca, arrived for a week with Grandma and Granddad.  The kids spent time together throughout the week playing at playgrounds, our house, and my in-laws house. Granddad also took them miniature golfing. They had a great time. The boys look forward to Becca’s visit every summer.

We had a more quiet week after that here at home. Scot had taken two weeks off work for vacation so we had a bit of a staycation. Liam and Scot went to see “Guardians of the Galaxy” and out to lunch. Jamie and I hit his favorite playground (the one with the sandbox) and then took Granddad out to lunch. Scot and the boys went to the Science Center one day. Scot and I went to see “Guardians” and out to lunch. Through all of this I ignored the destruction of my house and just enjoyed time off.

The following week was the week we repainted Liam’s room.

Over this past weekend, Granddad took the boys on a day trip up to Erie so they could hit the beach. While it was overcast and a bit chilly they had lots of fun. Jamie largely played in the sand and Liam was in the water for most of the day. That child is part fish.

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With school nearing, Jamie had kindergarten kick-off. It was a chance to go to the school, see his classroom, meet the principal, and meet some of his classmates. When we did this for Liam there were a lot of families there. This time there were much fewer. I was surprised. But Jamie was so excited to be there and so excited to be starting school.

Jamie plopped himself down and started making a friend.

Jamie plopped himself down and started making a friend.

The last thing we needed to do was get Liam’s hair trimmed up. Yesterday we did that.

Stinker

Stinker

We’re all ready for school. Tomorrow Liam will get up and head to the bus. His supplies will be waiting on his desk and he’ll start getting used to switching classes this year and starting an instrument. He chose trumpet. Jamie and I will go to school a bit later for a short kindergarten orientation and then he will start his regular schedule on Friday.

And me? I’ll be waving at the bus as it pulls away and then do a dance all the way home where I shall sit my butt down and get to my own schoolwork.

Playing The Tourist

Pittsburgh really is a gorgeous city. We rarely spend much time downtown because the kids are not so much with the stamina for walking – particularly Jamie. Today, however, the kids were off with Granddad having fun so Scot and I took advantage of the truly gorgeous weather to go wander around our city.

I took my camera because, DUH, and now I shall plague you with pictures.

The Duquesne Incline. Taken from Point State Park.

The Duquesne Incline. Taken from Point State Park.

This is how 'Burghers sunbathe.

This is how ‘Burghers sunbathe.

Fountain!

Fountain!

West End Bridge with submarine at the Science Center.

West End Bridge with submarine at the Science Center.

A few of the many bridges of Pittsburgh.

A few of the many bridges of Pittsburgh.

Under the bridge downtown.

Under the bridge downtown.

Joey Lawrence was here.

Joey Lawrence was here.

The Renaissance Hotel. This is where we spent our wedding night.

The Renaissance Hotel. This is where we spent our wedding night.

Look at all that copper inside the arch!

Look at all that copper inside the arch!

Cool dragons, bro.

Cool dragons, bro.

Toolin' around downtown in their fun little car.

Toolin’ around downtown in their fun little car.

Liam’s Room Re-do

When we moved into this house seven years ago, the room that was to become Liam’s was already painted a nice sunny yellow. At the time, Liam was 2 1/2 and dinosaurs were The Thing. The yellow that was already on the walls went well with his bedding so we chose not to paint his room. Instead, we had my very talented mother-in-law paint some dinosaurs on his wall from the book “How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?”

They were fantastic!

They were fantastic!

For many years we loved the dinosaurs and so did Liam. But as he got older, Star Wars became The Thing. So, a few years ago, we changed out his bedding for Star Wars, gave the dinosaurs to Jamie, and promised Liam we would repaint his room to his taste.

I think that was around 3 years ago.

This week we finally got around to saying goodbye to sunny yellow and kiddie dinosaurs. First, we had Liam choose a color. He initially wanted black – I think because it’s a space theme – but I nipped that right in the bud. That sounded like a nightmare to deal with both now and when it eventually gets repainted. Nope, sorry kiddo. But I said he could do gray if he wanted to. So we picked out some paint chips at Lowe’s on the gray, blue/gray, green/gray spectrum and brought them home. In the end, Liam chose a color called “Evening Eclipse” – a gray with blue overtones.

And so the work of making the dinos disappear began. First, I had to sand and prime the murals. I wanted to make sure that when they were painted over we didn’t see a vague outline of where they had been. So, 220 grit sandpaper and a mask and I was ready to go.

Just getting ready to sand.

Just getting ready to sand.

Once they were sanded, I wiped the wall down to get the dust off and pulled out some primer.

Primer coat 1

Primer coat 1

Primer coat 2. Ready for color.

Primer coat 2. Ready for color.

Jamie actually cried when I started to paint over the dinos. He said he was going to miss them too much. Aw, sorry, buddy, but it’s Liam’s room!

Next it was time to tape edges and start cutting in.

Progress

Progress

It took two coats of color and now that it’s done, I love it. It looks AMAZING.

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Liam’s room is pretty large – around 14’x20′ – and it gets a fair bit of light from the two windows. It handles the darker color very well. It doesn’t feel like a cave at all and I find the color calming. It’s really fantastic and I’m so impressed that Liam chose the color all on his own.

The last thing we need to do is work with Liam to choose some decals for the walls. We’re thinking unfinished Death Star with some X-wing fighters or something. He hasn’t had a chance to browse what’s available yet. I’m sure we’ll find something he likes.

The next project will be Jamie’s room which was going to be fairly simple but now that he’s seen the big transformation in Liam’s room, I’m not sure he’ll settle for simple. We shall see. It won’t be happening next week, that’s for sure. I’m too sore!

UPDATE!

The decals arrived and we installed them on the walls! They look great!

Over his desk, between the two windows is a silhouette of Luke and Vader fighting.

 

He wants to paint the lightsabers their proper colors.

He wants to paint the lightsabers their proper colors.

Over his bed we did a space battle scene with a Death Star (partially completed one from Return of the Jedi), some x-wings, and a few tie fighters. The vendor we ordered the decals from threw in a star destroyer with tie fighter escort for free so we added that in.

The whole shebang

The whole shebang

Death Star with star destroyer and tie fighters

Death Star with star destroyer and tie fighters

X-wings

X-wings

Tie-fighters, including Vader's ship

Tie-fighters, including Vader’s ship

Closeup of star destroyer.

Closeup of star destroyer.

Liam loves them and we think they look great, too!