Saturday, August 31, 2013

August in an instant

As predicted, August was slower. It was harder. It was lonelier. 

But slow can be a very good thing. 

Hard makes you appreciate the easy, the comfortable, the known. 

And lonely makes you think. About your friends, your family, your goals and your priorities. 

So although August was slower, harder and lonelier, it definitely wasn't empty. It was just a different kind of full.

Friday, August 30, 2013

two weeks of color

Leah's kindergarten class spent the first two weeks of school reviewing colors (among many other things). But to help some of the kids be more exited about and feel a part of kindergarten, they were supposed to dress in certain colors each day. 

The final day was "favorite color day" and either Leah has a LOT of favorite colors or her body just couldn't give me a clear answer that we went with the rainbow. She seemed pleased. 

Is this not the smiliest and most colorful collage you've ever seen?!

And, since we took almost all of the pictures while we were waiting for the bus, I'll take a minute to show off her fancy new bus vest. We zip this sweet contraption on her in the morning and it hooks her right into the bus, no too-small-baby-seat needed. Hip hip! (I'll admit, I did have to try 47 times the first morning to get it right...and still ended up putting it on backward. And we tried 46 times the next day. But a few weeks later, we've got it down.)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

antique tractor show

When it comes to tractors, we usually like the green and yellow variety. 

But when it comes to antique tractors, we are no respectors. We like all of the colors. 

(Including pink.) 

We like 'em big. 

We like 'em small. 

We like the not-so-well known ones...and the really famous ones. 

We even like taking rides behind them. 

And then, after we're done admiring all of the vintage tractors, we like to pet the modern animals. 

A lot. 

For a long time.  

Perfect way to spend a humid Saturday afternoon.         

Monday, August 19, 2013


I really like the idea of introducing a family theme each year as school begins; something that everyone in the family can benefit from and work on. 

This year, I decided on "Kindness Begins With Me" and based it off a children's song from our church of the same name:
I want to be kind to everyone, for that is right you see. 
So I say to myself, "Remember this: Kindness begins with me."
I really like the simplicity of this song. Something someone as little as Kate can understand, but important enough for even Ryan and I to remember throughout the year.

It got really fancy at our kitchen table for theme dinner that night. Um no, not really. I just whipped out that fabulous bunting that can be used for everything, printed out our theme and called it good. 

Here's to a kind year!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

chicago, the first

We headed to Chicago today for what is the first of hopefully many trips there now that we are so close. We did visit two years ago on our way to New Hampshire (here and here) and I knew then that I wanted to come back!

This particular trip we went to see people, not things, so it was short and successful. 

Part one took us to the Navy Pier to hang out with Mike again. He was in training there for his new job while his family had moved to California without him. Wish they had been with us!! We walked around the pier to see part of the air show (seriously every time these boys heard a plane, they stopped dead in their tracks and looked skyward). Then we ate lunch on the pier and walked around the city a bit. It was a busy day in Chicago, but great weather and lots of fun. 

After we said our goodbyes to Mike, we headed north to Lincoln Park Zoo to meet up with the F family, who we met two years ago. We were excited to see A and E again and could not wait to meet miss O who was born just about 2 months before Katers. 

We leisurely walked around the zoo and amazingly felt completely normal since there were two silly Rett girls, two crazy one year olds and one big sister who just knew how to deal with it all! 

Honestly, I was so amazed watching A. She is closer in age to Leah than E is and she just played with her! Lots of little kids interact with Leah, ask her questions, try to include her, etc. and it's fabulous. But it really is hard to just play with her! And A was a pro. They twirled and chased and danced and giggled and it made my heart soar. These siblings are something else. 

One of my favorite moments of the day was in the gorilla house when we took a minute to sit and relax and the dads switched girls to chat for a bit. Just about died. 

I just love the F family and can't wait to see them more often now that we are a bit closer!

After a delicious pizza dinner, we headed to our car to make the drive home. But of course we stopped at Trader Joe's first. Because, how could you not!?

Chicago, we'll be back. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kindergarten: take 2

They say when the corn is taller than you, it's time for school to start. Well, I checked:

And in the words of Curly McLain, "The corn is as high as an elephant's eye, and it looks like it's climbing clear up to the sky."'s time for school to start.

And let me tell you, the Laytons were READY. Leah was ready and mom was ready. We debated for months as to whether we should have Miss Ribbons repeat kindergarten or send her on to first grade. We took into account the academic ratings of both her previous and new schools, the rigor of her  day-to-day, the fact that everyone is new in kindergarten (not just Leah), and more. And we decided on kindergarten. I'll be honest, even after the decision was made formal, I still had my hesitations. How do you explain to your daughter that she is repeating a grade for no fault of her own!? We basically told her that kindergarten in Iowa is a little different than in New Hampshire, so we needed to do it in both places! 

And so far, I'm extremely pleased with our decision. She has a fabulous team full of teachers, aides, counselors, therapists and peers who already love her to pieces and are striving for her best and that makes it easy to send her off on the bus each morning. 

This summer was a marathon. I know we had a lot of help from family and friends, but not being in our own space, then being in our own unfamiliar space and taking care of all of Leah and Kate's needs 24/7 begins to wear on a person! Sometimes I wish I was one of those moms who cried alligator tears when her children head back to school, but I'm not. I know that Leah loves it and I love that she is getting help and services that I simply can't provide as a one man show. I only have so many tricks up my sleeve and it seems Leah tires of them pretty quickly each summer.

So, just like Curly McLain, "I've got a wonderful feeling" about kindergarten take two.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

first visitor!

And the award for our first visitor goes to:
Mike Holbrook!!

Thanks for taking time away from your training to come and see us in our new habitat. Hopefully the tractors, tug of war and tiny tuckies were enough to bring you back (with your family next time!). 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tug Fest

We experienced the best of the midwest this weekend at what is known as Tug Fest - a giant tug of war between Iowa and Illinois across the Mississippi River. 

Eleven different teams from both states register to tug for three minutes per tug. Three minutes! That's a long time!! Best out of 11 tugs wins.

This year? Iowa won. 

After the tug, we enjoyed some carnival-style refreshments in the shade (fried oreos, funnel cakes, lemonade and snow cones) and some world class people watching (mullets were out in force).

I think the midwest is going to suit us just fine.

Friday, August 9, 2013

DQ for dad

Today I introduced my girls to the goodness that is the cherry dipped cone at Dairy Queen in honor of what would have been my dad's 61st birthday (yesterday).

When I was little, it was a big treat to head to DQ as a family. We'd always order two chocolate dipped cones (for my mom and Kelli), two butterscotch dipped cones (for Scotty and Danny) and two cherry dipped cones (for me and my dad). 


So I figured I'd continue the tradition. 

It was kind of a circus trying to keep the cones (yes, we got two) far enough away from me to keep four extra hands out of the way but close enough to serve them both. 

But it was a delicious circus. Happy birthday dad!