Thursday, August 17, 2017

First day of 4th & 6th grade

Today was the official first day of fourth grade and middle school. Yowzas! How did this happen?!
The back-to-school hoopla began on Monday with the ice cream social and teacher reveals at the elementary school. Gryffy was super excited to get several of his buds in class and was greeted first thing by Austin: "Hey, classmate!"
Lorelei walked him down to the fourth grade corridor to meet his new teacher...
 Ms. Biel. We already love her and it's her first year teaching, so this is a special year for her, too!
 And of course Lorelei had to stop by and say hello to her awesome fifth grade teacher, Ms. Gafney.
These two... so excited to be in class together! Miles told his mom that if he could only pick two friends to be in class, Gryffy would be one of them. Gryffy feels the same way. :)
 On Tuesday it was sixth grade orientation, a two-hour morning mock-school to shuffle kids between classes to practice schedules, bells and lockers.
  This girl did great and came home smiling!
 On Wednesday morning for the first day of school, the Backpack Fairy arrived with notes, silver half-dollars and some LED helicopters and favorite candies. (And let's just enjoy those uber-cool backpacks the kids and I decorated with patches from all of the countries they've visited - Lorelei wanted hers all higgledy-piggledy and Gryffy wanted his lined up in some semblance of order. Pretty snazzy.)

Digging into the fairy loot.
Saying "bye" to Daddy as he left for work.
And first day poses. Six fingers! Six!

We made some monkey bread the night before and barely touched it -- too much going on!
Meanwhile Gryffy refused to take any photos with Lorelei. The boy was tired. And embarrassed by the haircut his mom gave him. "I don't want to show my shame..." Poor kid. :(
The closest we got.
Fortunately, after I dropped off Lorelei - who was half-excited/half-nervous as we pulled up to Middle School - the boy pulled himself together for a few first day photos as well.
That's a "4" and not a "B" in sign language. :) Fourth grade! (One of my favorite years.)

Awww, look at that snaggle-toothed grin.
Gryffy met up with some buddies outside the school.

"Last picture, Mom."
Okay, Buddy.
I was a mess of emotion, which isn't usually the case on the first day. But this is the first year the kids are in different schools. I know they're meant to grow up and become more independent, but it takes awhile for my heart to catch up with them. They are my world, and my world is changing. And it's so good and hard and beautiful.

Fortunately I was able to pull myself together with some friends and mimosas. Thanks Jenn! 
And you know what? The first day flew by, lickey-split. And this girl got in the car, smiling and raving about her new teachers and how she got to help all the other kids figure out their locks at gym class (we'd been practicing all summer).
And then the two of us drove together to pick up Mr. Gryff, who loved his first day too. We talked the whole day through over our traditional Luksa family no-bakes, and then our neighbors showed up to exchange stories, we piled on the couch for a family movie and stir-fry, went on a walk under a rainbow-lit sky, and tucked into bed with made-up stories. It was a near-perfect first day.
Only 179 more days until summer. :)

Friday, August 4, 2017

VAIL (Road Trip, Part 2)

Every summer we return to the same spot high up in the Rockies that's won our hearts and makes our eyes sparkle: Vail, CO. (Here's 2016 & 2012 - missed a few years on the blog.)
And we rave so much about it that this year our neighbors, the Guzzos, took the same 10 hour road trip and pulled right in to Manor Vail Lodge on a Saturday with us darting toward their rental SUV in a pandemonium of sheer excitement (we arrived the day before). It's so fun to have great neighbors and even more fun to get to hang out together in gorgeous Vail. 

We usually call our time here "Camp Connelly" because it's a time for our family to have fun together and also reflect, set goals and dream dreams, but I guess we'll just have to combine last names and call it CAMP GUZZELLY.
We still made some Camp Connelly shirts for our tribe. Mark hates this. But the kids and I love it. :)
And I forgot to snap photos but the kids created a schedule of events and helped me create this year's Camp Connelly checklist. Here are screen shots from our music VIDEO:
Love the creativity of this girl.
Let's begin with a quick tour of Vail...
It's like Bavaria in the Rockies, with flowers spilling out of window boxes galore.

I usually snap a photo of the kids at this bridge every year but forgot this year, dang it!
The Four Seasons.
Lionshead Village.
Our not-so-favorite fountain anymore, since this year Lorelei scraped up her knee and fell in, fully clothed. :( We rushed to the bus sopping wet while the rest of the gang headed out for pizza, Lorelei changed lickety-split, and we made it back to the pizza joint in time to order. Love that free bus service in Vail!
The gondola station in Lionshead.

And Vail has the best parks. All creative, fun, original - kid paradise!

On our second day, we headed up the mountain for Epic Discovery Adventure Park. Love the slight look of trepidation on Ava's face as we headed up up up on the gondola.
They're looking pretty excited for those tubes, bungee trampolines, climbing walls, adventure courses and that mountain coaster...

We also did a scavenger hunt to find "Seeker Stones" that I made with gold foil ahead of time, each with a clue and a map that led to various landmarks in Vail...

I adore this mama bear with her cubs. I feel the same love for mine!

The last S-E-E-K-E-R stone, R, led to the pirate park where the kids found journals they had decorated with camping songs and other fun things I added inside...

Which led to a complete meltdown because Gryffy couldn't believe that I had added anything to his journal. He wanted a blank journal. BLANK!

It was a rough moment, but eventually he came around, and apologized for getting so upset. And he even sang a camp song or two with the fam. :)
We hiked along Gore Creek, which runs through Vail with trails hugging it.

And we went on our traditional night hike.
Passersby were dazzled. 

Gryffy's looking especially "bad."
On Monday we went rafting.
Love him.

It was my favorite part of the trip, complete with a 30+ foot jump off a cliff for me! It felt exhilarating!

And Gryffy and Ava jumped off another (smaller) cliff.

Lorelei thought the raft was adventure enough. But she looks pretty exhilarated, too!
On Tuesday, we went riding at Vail Stables.

Look at that hunky cowboy, y'all.
Don't let those smiles fool you. Gryffy had a rough horse last year ("Montana" ate every shrub in sight) and was a bit nervous. This year, he got Lorelei's horse from last year, and she got to ride his. Which meant both of them were nervous.

But it was all worth it!
After horseback rides we parted ways, and I got to lunch with my second grade BFF, Erica, and her kids at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Denver.
Then we dropped Mark at the airport for a flight back to KC, and commenced our Mom & Kids continued road trip to the north toward Estes Park... (more to come)