Really - I say it every year, but with every year that passes, I just can't believe how quickly the years have flown by. He just looks so grown up to me now, and nothing drives it home more than a look back over time...
Love him so very much and am excited to celebrate him today. Graham has come so far in this past year, really making great strides in some things that have been challenging. He has so much heart, is incredibly empathetic, and continues to be so curious about the world around him.
I finished up his cake this morning - I started with the soccer ball cake, covered it in white frosting, then went to work adding the eyeball details...
Here's the end result - love it!
But that's for his party later on in the evening - I put a lid on it and got G's school treat to his classroom. I came back in the afternoon to help him pass it out, and join in the celebration.
I had a great time with G's class, then rounded up his buddies to go home with us after school.
Love his group of friends and G has been looking forward to this time with them for awhile now. He opened their gifts when we got home....
(his own stuffed eyeball from Ellie!)
They boys played and Ellie went over to Jim and Chery's for the evening so she didn't feel left out. We headed to Putters for our reserved laser tag time.
Graham noticed I paid for one extra person and asked who we were missing - I told him a mystery guest was joining us shortly. The boys were beyond excited to see that the mystery guest was their teacher, Miss Pond! (aka my friend Ashley)
So awesome of her to make time to do this, getting involved and actually getting in there to play laser tag with them!
(Getting their game faces on!)
They came out sweaty and happy, ready for pizza for dinner....
They played some or the arcade games and happened upon a game that was malfunctioning and spitting out tickets with no end in sight!
They did a fabulous job of sharing the winnings :) And then it was time for some cake!
The boys played outside when we got home - love that it's staying lighter later these days. Also loving how well these guys all got along....
I let G open another gift from me before getting ready for bed. He's been wanting a thermos for his lunchbox for quite awhile now - he's looking forward to taking some leftover mac&cheese in his lunch :)
The boys chatted a lot at bedtime, but eventually settled down....I think Graham had an amazing day!
Graham won't be with me when he wakes up on his birthday, so I was totally cool with him sneaking into my room early this morning and crawling into bed to hang out a little before we have to get up.
And since I got him something to wear on his birthday, I let him open a gift this morning :)
I thought the t-shirt would be good to wear, 'cause his classroom treat has to do with that eyeball there that's part of the Terraria game (the Eye of Cthulhu I'm told!). Speaking of that treat, I got to work on that and his cake tonight. First step was popping open bunches of Oreo cookies....
And then with chocolate chips, frosting, and a great deal of patience, I turned them into eyeballs!
It was a little time consuming, but Faith was kind enough to help me when she got home. Really saved me tons of time and it was nice to have some company too :) I think he's going to love sharing these with his class tomorrow....
His eyeball cake was also baked tonight - I bought the soccer ball cake mold and went for it after googling to see if there were any special instructions for baking a cake that shape. Will get it frosted and decorated in the morning!
Hi Jessica, sorry to track you down at work, it was the only contact info I could find.
You have a picture of the Eugenecelebration with a bunch of people blowing giant bubbles that is really wonderful... I am working with Selco Credit Union on the art for their new downtown branch remodel, and we would like to use your picture in a photo collage in the entry. Would you be interested in selling us one-time usage rights to use the image?
The collage is going to be various scenes of things that make living in Eugene special. The images will all be printed on stainless steel, so I would need to get the full size digital file if you have it. We are also putting up a thank you listing all of the photographers in the front by the collage. I pay $50 for a one-time usage fee, and I handle all the printing costs. It is going to be a very unique art installation, and we are really excited about it. I hope you are interested in helping out and having your photo featured!
please let me know if you have more questions about the project, process, or pricing.
I was flattered and excited that someone actually hunted me down to use one of my pictures - without hesitating I said yes! They sent me my check and promised to let me know when it was finished and up on display.
And then I kind of forgot about it. Life gets busy and no one emailed to tell me it was completed, but I figured it had to be. I don't go to that Selco branch often, and I thought about it a few times over the last year, but just never had the time when I was in the area to go look. But this week I decided it was way past time to check it out, and I stopped at Selco to see the display. And there it was - my bubble picture!
It's there on the far right of the 2nd row from the top. Here's the picture so you can get a better look at it.
It's a picture I had taken while we were waiting for the Eugene Celebration Parade one year. This group wasn't part of the parade, just having some fun before it all started (I love Eugene!)
And my name is on the plaque crediting all of the photographers....
So there ya go - I'm (a tiny!) part of the Eugene art scene now :) I LOVE taking pictures and the Eugene Celebration is definitely one of my favorite places to do that. I'm feeling really excited that one of those pictures was chosen to be displayed.
ACE stands for A Champion in Education, and it's a little like the Academy Awards of teaching here in Eugene and Springfield. I've never been to the ceremony before, but two of my co-workers and friends were nominated and I really wanted to go and show my support.
Yvette is one of the special education teachers I work with at Gilham. I had to really think about it, but I believe this is my 5th year working with her at Gilham. Yvette is absolutely AMAZING in so many ways. She cares so very much for the kids and goes above and beyond her regular duties to make sure they are getting what they need. She is compassionate, but also maintains very high expectations for the students. She has a military background, so she has the utmost respect for process and teamwork. She is kind to everyone, but quietly and strongly speaks her mind. She has become a wonderful friend and at times a mentor as my kids go through stages and phases. We have a deal that we'd give each other a heads up before either consider moving on from Gilham - I don't think either of us can imagine doing our job there without the other. I work closely with my special education teachers and it's so wonderful to find such amazing ones to sit in meetings with.
Speaking of wonderful friends and special education teachers, my dear friend Leila was also nominated in the Administrator category. A really impressive nomination since it's her first year as an administrator!
Leila and I became close friends very quickly when she was one of the special education teachers I worked with in my first full year at 4J. That was about 13 years ago now! She has been one of my very bestest friends ever since and I can't imagine my world without her in it. When I first met Leila I was absolutely stunned by how skilled and gifted she was with the kids she worked with, kids with some of the most challenging behaviors. She has a huge heart and just seems to instinctively know what kids need, and how to help them grow. All of this in a woman a handful of years younger than myself (and I like to think I was fairly young back then too!) She became the very same kind of friend, instinctively knowing just what to say and always willing to drop everything to help out if needed. I was heartbroken when we weren't at the same school any more, but so happy that we continued to make time for each other as friends outside of work. She eventually came down to the Ed Center to work with us as a consultant, and then went on to get her administrator license and get a job as one of the ESS administrators this past year. She's one of the bosses of me now! I have loved watching her grow to be even more amazing and accomplished. She is well respected among our colleagues - I think it's because she is honest, but also compassionate. She is able to speak her mind and share good or bad news in a way that is clear and concise, and you still love her after, no matter what she just told you! If we are lucky enough to keep her in 4J I have no doubt that she will become a legend there - really one of the greats.
The award ceremony was definitely a "feel-good" kind of event. Speakers from the community shared sweet stories of how educators have touched their lives, and hearing the stories of the people winning the awards was definitely inspiring. Education is not an easy field to be in right now - limited funding for schools, increased expectations for teachers without the support needed to meet them, and the ever increasing social-emotional needs of the children coming to us make it incredibly difficult to feel good about the job we're doing every day. What's always been a constant though, is the quality of the people I work with. It's always been the people that make coming to work every day fun and bearable - people like Leila and Yvette. They didn't win the awards, but they are definitely champions in my eyes and I feel honored to work with them every day.
Still LOVING our new sectional and really pleased with the rug we laid under it, it seemed like it might be time to make a couple more updates.
The read and blue boxes have been been bugging me a little and the rug by the door is starting to fall apart in the washing machine and dryer.
Just wasn't screaming "welcome home" to me anymore, so when I saw some bigger boxes on sale at Target I knew it was time to switch these up a little. I found a neutral but sturdy rug for inside the door at HomeGoods, and I'm much happier with the look now.
Pardon the clutter over there - lots of work and school stuff hanging out at the moment, along with some other things that could be thrown or put away. It's still a work in progress I guess.
The other area that was bugging me a little was over by the bunny cage. It just felt like we could use the space a little better - maybe put some sort of console table there.
I found a few options and texted them to Kenny to let him choose. I was good with any of the options, so I let him make the pick.
I think he chose well :) I like that this doesn't take up any space that wasn't already being used by the bunny cage, but just adds to it by giving us that table to get a couple things off the floor, and even some drawers (one of which is now housing my coloring book and pencils)
One more quick update - the mat outside the front door had definitely seen better days - love this one I found at Ross....
Will keep plugging away to make the space one we love to be in - still always on the lookout for an even bigger space to live in ;)
I was up early this morning to get G up and ready for his first game. They did pictures first - it was a beautiful day for baseball! Ellie had a soccer game at the same time, so Wil got her there and joined us at the end.
I took my big camera and got a couple shots of G warming up....
Graham and his team did great - so many of them were getting good solid hits and getting on base.
I LOVE watching baseball and am so excited to see Graham play again - I hope he continues to love to play :)
So excited to help out with Ellie's class field trip to the art museum at U of O. I did the same trip with G's class a couple years ago! Ellie's class ate at school before leaving, so while they ate, I helped get little habitats ready for their caterpillars!
When I went with G's class we took a bus, but today we went in cars - Ellie's friend Abigail K came in our car and so did Mrs. Simpson (the girls were pretty excited about that!) Love this shot of Ellie and Abigail on campus....
Mrs. Simpson got everyone on the steps for a picture before we went in - no easy task for sure!
Once inside we split into smaller groups to tour the museum - these kids did an awesome job of answering and asking questions. I loved looking around too - must remember to get back there to spend more time one day.
After the tour the kids got a little art lesson from some students....
Definitely something I knew Ellie would enjoy!
So much fun - and still finding things to enjoy even on the way back to the car. The girls found a bunch of ladybugs and had a hard time pulling themselves away...
As if a field trip wasn't enough, we also had the Gilham Carnival tonight! Both kids went home with friends after school so I could finish the work day, but I met up with them again shortly after the carnival began. I found G at one of his favorite activities with his buddy Andrew....
Ellie stuck closer by me - she had dinner out on the curb by one of the food trucks....
Then headed inside to wait in line for face painting - one of her very favorite things!
I gave the kids each 15 tickets to try and win raffle prizes. Graham concentrated his efforts on one particular basket containing all kind of LEGO items, but Ellie chose to sprinkle her tickets around here and there. I was absolutely STUNNED to hear her name called as having won the Spring/Gardening basket that her classroom put together!
It took us a couple trips to get it all out to the car, as there was also a full size rake and shovel as part of the winnings. Just the perfect win for Ellie as she and Faith have big plans to do some gardening this spring and summer!
Ellie stayed at her friend Abigail's for the night and Graham came home with me since Wil got stuck up in Portland later than expected and I needed to get G to baseball pictures early the next day anyhow. It was a great end to our week for sure!
It's been busy and I haven't taken a lot of pictures, but wanted to share what I do have...
Ellie's picture and Wall of Fame certificate is up in the hall at school!
Got a shot of G reading before bed one night - love when he gets into a book....
Also snuck a picture of him sleeping next to his Build-a-Bear dog, Frank, one night....
I was minding my own business one night, laying on the couch, when SugarBaby hopped up and squeezed in next to me.
Some Ellie art from a special art class the kids had on Thursday...
And finally this fun picture from Ellie's room before I went to bed one night. Love it when she's planned ahead and has her clothes out...especially when she sets them out just like she's going to wear them :)
It was just me and the kids this weekend as Faith went up to Portland to spend the weekend with her mom. We started with Ellie's soccer game on Saturday morning.
From there we went to the library, where the kids picked out some books and movies to take home. The kids seem to be enjoying library visits more these days, and I'm teaching them how we can search for books online and have them sent to our branch library to pick up. I think we'll be getting a lot of use out of the library this summer.
We stopped at the grocery store before heading home. Do you see SugarBaby overseeing the grocery unloading??
I rarely take the kids grocery shopping, but they were with me this time and talked me into buying these baby bananas (it's hard to say no when they're begging you to buy fruit!)
The weather was beautiful on Saturday, so we decided to bring the bunny outside to enjoy the fresh air. I'm so glad I hung on to this baby fencing!
I went back into the house to grab a couple things, and this was the scene when I came back out....
Nothing like a bunny to bring over the cute neighbor girls :) One of them eventually came out and shot baskets with G....
Saturday night was movie night - love cuddling up on the couch with these guys....
Another beautiful day on Sunday - the neighbor girls drove over for another peek at the bunny - lol
For a change of scenery, we made our way to the school to play on the playground a bit...
Faith came back home and showed us all of the goodies she got to go with her prom dress - so sparkly and pretty!
And the real princess in our house seems to have found an appropriate throne in Ellie's room....
This note that Ellie left me at bedtime was the perfect way to end the weekend....
....very happy that they feel loved and cared for....must be doing something right!
Kenny left for contract this morning. He's working on a different crew this year, so he's leaving earlier than usual. This means he'll be back earlier than usual though, at the beginning of October. He'll also be back for Faith's graduation from high school, so we'll be able to see him again in a little over a couple months. None of this makes it easier to watch him drive away though....
With Faith living here full time right now, I think it was extra hard for him to leave too. We've had such a good time being together as a family and it's always nice to have him here helping and supporting us all. Faith and I both retreated to our rooms after he left to have a few moments to process and be a little sad....but then it was time to keep moving forward.
Ellie had her first soccer game of the season, so I pulled myself together and went to cheer her on...
Faith had her friend Bree over to spend the night on Saturday, and we went prom dress hunting for Faith on Sunday. But first, make-up and hair out on the patio....
It took us awhile to find "the one", but I absolutely LOVE the dress that Faith has chosen - so elegant....
....and it fits her beautifully - no need for alterations! It's such an exciting time to be a bigger part of Faith's life and I'm feeling so lucky to have the opportunity.
We watched The Walking Dead season finale tonight and I spent much of the time looking like this!
Kind of how I'm feeling about the week ahead too....lol
Ellie was soooo excited to be chosen for the "Wall of Fame" at school this week!
We're still getting into the groove for soccer and baseball practice. Thankfully they are on the same nights, and this week it was so nice out on Wednesday that Ellie and I had a little picnic dinner while G was practicing.
Some Ellie art to share from the week....
She made this in my office at Holt before we went out for our picnic.
She created this in my office at Gilham on Friday morning before school - she really loves her brother these days, unfortunately he's not a big fan of her public displays of affection (i.e., hugs in the hall)
Friday was April 1st, and Graham totally got me when I picked him up from after-school care. He asked if he could talk to me privately, but we were on the way to the dentist so I really didn't have time. I told him we could talk later....but he kept going and said, "it's just the worst thing that's ever happened to me at school." He had a piece of paper in his hand and for a couple minutes he totally had me believing that he got an "uh-oh" at school. Ellie was totally going along with it, but Graham has a hard time really selling a lie. And when I saw the "uh oh", I knew I was on the receiving end of an April Fool's gag....
Graham's teacher, Miss Pond, had a bunch of old uh-oh forms and thought it would be fun to help play April Fool's jokes on the parents :)
We ended the week at the dentist - the kids absolutely LOVE going! They had them in spaces right next to each other, so I was able to sit in between and see what was going on everywhere.
Wil picked them up from me here, and I headed home....another busy, but good week in the books :)