A New Spark

June also brought with it a somewhat new adventure for Maurah.  She joined MainStage Academy of Dance in the winter and showcased her work throughout these past months in a beautiful gala.  We truly didn't know what to expect, as this was our first time having a child in a dance academy, but these performances blew us away!  The stage Maurah performed on is the same one where we see the Nutcracker every year....a large stage with a large audience for such a little girl - I wasn't sure if she would make it through the performance or not!  I minded the rules to not take pictures while the dancers were on the stage, but I can tell you that she had the biggest smile on her face the entire time she was up there, no nerves at all.  It was one of those moments where you see this little flicker inside of your child and you can tell that something is definitely lighting up within them.  These are some of the moments I love the most about parenting.

The younger girls' dressing room door was decorated with these stars by their teachers...so sweet!

Maurah's 3rd grade teacher got to see her do her thing on that stage because her daughter performs in the same academy...we love Mrs. Shaver!!

Grandpa Dave came in for the night so he could cheer Maurah on as well!

Maurah and her sweet friend Lola:

Director Bray leading Maurah and her classmates onto the stage so they could be applauded.

Maurah's teacher, who instilled this newfound love in her, did an incredible job being the Black Swan in Swan Lake.  At 16, she has been accepted to an all-dance school in Florida and is moving away this summer!  We will miss her!

 Some more of Maurah's cheering squad:

While most of the above photos were taken with my phone, I had to have Maurah do a photo shoot and use my good camera.  She's just too beautiful to not capture!

We're not sure where this new spark for dance will take Maurah, but it sure has been fun cheering her on this year.  We're so thankful for MainStage and its influence!

A Farewell

June has brought with it a LOT of excitement and newness around here.  The very first day of this month was one that still brings me to tears as I write this post.  My oldest, my boy, officially closed out all of his years in elementary school with a 5th grade celebration.

The families of all of the fifth graders packed into the gym for a luncheon and celebration of all of these kiddos and these last six years.  Cole and his class sang a few songs, ending with What a Wonderful World.  I'm not posting the videos because, to be perfectly honest, I was shaking so badly, I was trying to keep all of my emotions in.  Because of that, the video quality is less than sub-par.  But my goodness, was it sweet to hear their voices sing words that are so meaningful.

Love all of those sweet faces adorning those cupcakes.

Cole and his buddy Jack:

This is what they REALLY wanted to be doing during the luncheon!  ;) 

Jake made his schedule so he could pop in and be here in the middle of his work day, and of course, I missed getting a picture of him with Cole.  I am still bumming about that!  But, the way our schedule worked out, Jake's mom was able to be here with us.  Living hundreds of miles away from grandparents doesn't usually afford us the opportunity to celebrate things like this with them, so that was a rare treat!

Cole and his good friend Austin:

Fabulous teacher and director of KM Explore, Ms. Dahm:

Cole's first-ever male teacher....who totally "gets" Cole's personality and made learning so fun for him, Mr. Fronk:

A bunch of almost-6th graders (and a few of their siblings!):

Crazy crew of boys:

Out of all of our kids, Cole is the one who has had the most transitions in school.  He started 4K when we lived in Michigan, and moved to Wisconsin where he finished out his last 6 weeks of preschool in a district we no longer live in.  We then moved to another town where he went to the local elementary (still within our current school district), but once KM Explore Charter became an option, we believed in their vision of learning so much and moved our kids again to have them attend this school.

I can't even begin to put words to what a journey it's been and how all of the teachers here have supported our family and loved us through numerous seasons, both joyful and difficult.  We have watched Cole grow immensely within the security and love these teachers have provided.  Jake and I have grown as parents too, gleaning much wisdom from some of these teachers who are ahead of us on this journey.

I can still remember the day I signed Cole up for preschool, feeling like we had made it...we were finally in a season where our kids were in elementary school.  It sounded so grown up; like we were actual adults raising actual people.  But now, with us saying goodbye to elementary school, I feel like we're so young.  We're not ready.  Because, you know, middle school is only 3 years...and 3 years are like blinking.

Still...I look at this guy and I know he's ready.  And that's what matters.  We're so proud of him and the person he's becoming.  I know this is just the beginning of some pretty awesome adventures with him.  And I couldn't love that more.


February Little Things

February was a month packed with lots of fun.

We kicked it off with some Superbowl fun.  Jake made a Superbowl Bingo game for the kids they filled out with Starbursts.  Any time they got a Bingo, they were able to get a load of candy to eat.

This was our very unhealthy spread...

Which this girl was totally jazzed about!

Laina had a sleepover with at her friend's and I got this text from my friend about the girls' afternoon:
She said one of the neighbors is an elderly gentleman who they've never seen smile or be incredibly warm.  My friend was a little hesitant to have the girls stop at his place, but she said he smiled hugely and was so touched by their thoughtfulness.  These girls are world changers, I tell you.  We ended up taking Sophia with us to watch Cole play basketball that morning.  I love how they always hold hands anywhere they go.

Hayden spent a lot of time making origami butterflies and decorating them beautifully to hang above her bed.

I check on the kids each night still before I head to bed myself, and this particular night, my breath was taken away by this guy.  I see this amazing young man he's becoming and my baby boy who made me a mama all at once.

We watched that amazing kid play a lot of basketball this month with an amazing coach and team.  This is one sport I can never tire of watching, and Cole's season did not disappoint.

We did a special Valentine's hairstyle for school...

And that face of that little love bug makes me smile so much!

This one does too, all dressed in her red for the day!

The weather has been unseasonably warm for Wisconsin winters....well, unseasonably warm for anything that contains the word winter!  We got up to the 70s and these kids were so grateful to get to be outside on the trampoline sans jackets!

The weather had us outside a ton, and we all LOVED getting that fresh air.  Maurah is thinking about playing softball this spring, so she was all about playing catch.

Our friends have been watching the kids after school on Tuesdays and I got a text saying they were just taking their babies for a walk.  I love how Maurah is crazy and Brooks looks like he is wondering what's going on!  ;)

We went back to our daily charts which helps us get ourselves organized around here.  I get away from doing these so often, but am always so glad when we get back on track.  The kids don't typically mind doing their jobs when it's laid out like this and it helps us keep up with all things house and home.

The kids have to do 30 minutes of reading to mark off of their charts, and I love hearing this little lady read with all of her inflections.

Hayden helped me make cheesy bread for dinner one night...it's so fun to have the kids getting older and able to truly help more, making the work more fun for us all!

Maurah has been working hard at ballet and I LOVE that this experience has reunited her with a great friend who started at a new school this year.

Cole had a friend over and the boys went to town with their bball skills.

This guy is just the sweetest and I'm so thankful for his friendship to Cole.

Maurah and Hayden had a friend over too and the girls set away promptly getting their nails beautified.

The kids made personal pizzas which is what I did almost all of the time that I spent the night at my best friend's house growing up.  These guys were amazing little chefs!


Laina still amazes me with the things she comes up with to create.  This was her little mural she made for her friend who had been away from school for a few days:

We went costume shopping for the kids' musical (posted HERE) and Cole proceeded to scare the bejeebers out of me with this:

This was during Laina's sleepover so it ended up being a really fun date with these older three.  After all of our running errands, a visit for froyo was a must!

This was definitely a great way to wrap up this month!

A New Spark

June also brought with it a somewhat new adventure for Maurah.  She joined MainStage Academy of Dance in the winter and showcased her work t...