Thursday, August 29, 2013


Somehow over the last 5 years, my baby grew up. From high-maintenance spirited newborn to high-maintenance strong-willed toddler to high-maintenance exuberant kindergartner, my sweet firstborn is now fully Little Girl. And she'd argue fiercely about the little part. She is as smart, fiesty, passionate, fun-loving, clever, dramatic, hilarious, determined, and big-hearted as ever. But with a gradually accumulating measure of maturity. Emphasis on gradually. And intermittently. Her understanding of complex and abstract concepts continues to amaze me. She asks questions and makes observations that would intrigue Nobel Prize winners and astrophysicists. She is wise far beyond her years, although this is sometimes mitigated by the fact that she knows it. And makes sure her parents know it, too. They say it's easier to make a horse "Whoa" than "Giddyup", so we're working on reigning in our firecracker of a pony just enough to keep her out of trouble. 

The big Five was a prolonged, eventful celebration suitable for Elle's over-the-top personality. We were on vacation in Kiawah for her actual birthday, and she had a grand Pink Lemonade party shared with her best friend Grace upon our return. There was no paucity of birthday desserts. Including a watermelon cake not pictured.

Or presents.

When I asked her what kind of party she wanted this year, Elle chose a pink lemonade party. I suppose after the Rainbow Party request last year, I should have been thankful I didn't have to bake a 6 layer multicolored cake. Far simpler, this year's choice required only a lemonade stand, lemonade, a host of pink and yellow confections, and some color-coded decor.

We served pink and yellow fruit kabobs, ham and cheese skewers, pink and yellow veggie straws (leaving my pantry with a bag of just green ones), cake, cupcakes, and raspberry sorbet in scooped-out lemon bowls. 

It was a hit. Elle and Grace loved serving lemonade to their guests, and even rewarded themselves for the hard work with a cup or two twenty of their own. 

Little sisters got in on the fun. 

Turns out, Elise can entertain herself indefinitely with a game of Twister.
The festivities were supposed to include swimming, but apparently we moved to the North Pole in mid-August for a freezing cold and rainy party day. Nonetheless, the birthday girls went for a dip. A shivering, blue-lipped dip. With a nose-bandaid to boot. The latter thanks to a nasty fall while running down the sidewalk. I've since encouraged her to catch herself with her hands, not facial bones.

Ready or not, my first baby is Five. Ready to start Kindergarten. Ready to take over the world.

Happy, happy birthday my sweet E. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Twas the night before Kindergarten.
Backpacks and lunches were packed.
Protesting children were laboriously coaxed into bed. For once, I indulged protests for a bit... knowing that I'd kiss a preschooler goodnight and but a kindergartner good morning made me a little more hesitant for bedtime to come.

After a little wardrobe drama, sparked by my child's irrational intolerance for anything resembling shorts/pants/bloomer-type-things and the no-visible-panties-when-hanging-upside-down-from-the-monkey-bars School Rule, we were ready for the big day. 

Parents can walk Kindergartners into school the first week, but I think I needed that luxury far more than she did. No anxiety whatsoever for my little adventurer. 

It was me who lingered a little too long at the door...

And made a few too many trips back and forth by the classroom, glancing by to peek in on the action.

Finally, after dropping by the Tissues and Treats gathering in the library for similarly grieving K-parents, little E and I loitered on the school grounds a little while longer left.

Future Summerfield Viking

E, of course, had a great day. And all in all, I did well too. Having the girls in full-time daycare definitely blunts the emotional upheaval I think some parents experience on the First Day. Still, Kindergarten seems like such a big, grown-up milestone, one that obliterates any last vestige of delusion that this little girl is still... well... little. I survived without tears at dropoff and busied myself throughout the day without too much in the way of melting down (although there was a continuous musical montage of Baby Elle playing in my head). But for some reason when I arrived to pick her up, and saw her at a distance waiting patiently in a line of Tiny People, wearing her backpack and holding onto her lunch bag, the tears welled up. She seemed so grown up, yet still so little. 

For comparison, here are the girls a year ago... on the first day of Pre-K for Elle, and on the first day of Kindergarten. Sitting still for a posed picture is no longer a viable option, clearly. 

Getting coherent details out of Elle about her day is sometimes difficult. Over the course of the first two days, I garnered the following tidbits:
-She likes Mrs. Lolley, her teacher. She is very nice and E didn't get in trouble not one time the whole day.
(insert Mom urging that not getting into trouble should be the default for every day)

-She made a bunch of new friends, but she can only remember Peyton's name. 
-Two boys who are bald got in trouble for not listening to the jungle gym teacher when he asked them to stop running. (editorial comment: I think she added the "jungle" descriptor to "gym" of her own accord)
-They do a lot of art. Every time they read a book, they do some art about it.
-There's a boy that she didn't get along with very well the first day, but they did better the second day.
-There's a kid named Ronald in her class and she can't help but giggle when the teacher calls his name because she thinks about McDonald's. 
-She had a little trouble opening her yogurt container but a nice girl suggested she twist instead of pull the lid, and she was right!

And to summarize the first 2 days, E announces as we're walking inside:
Mommy, everyone is so nice at school. There are no villains here.

I think a Kindergartner just coined the new school slogan: Summerfield Elementary: There are no Villains Here...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Goldings go to Kiawah

First ever family vacation to somewhere other than our beach house in Cherry Grove. I love having a beach house, don't get me wrong. But there is something gloriously different about vacationing in someone else's house/villa/hotel. The freedom of leaving a hair in the shower and knowing it won't be you extricating it from the drain. Not having to contemplate whether the filters need changing. Letting the kids jump on the bed without weighing the adverse effects on its structural longevity. New, unfamiliar surroundings to explore. A daily knock at the door heralding fresh towels and the luxury of crisply made beds. Turning the thermostat to whatever floats your boat without mentally calculating the impact on the electric bill.  It felt like... well... vacation. And a lovely one at that. 

I gave a few lectures at the conference, but otherwise we enjoyed each other, the beautiful island, and the perfect weather. 

I was inappropriately stressed about the 6ish hour drive, but the girls did great. A steady stream of activities and snacks saved the day and we survived rather unscathed. 

Call me strange, but I have very strong nostalgic memories of having breakfast on the balcony with my sister on our family beach vacations. If memory serves me correctly, Lucky Charms were the most commonly consumed delicacy. But I couldn't miss the opportunity to recreate the moment for the Es, who hopefully will grow up to wistfully remember their own Family Vacation Balcony Breakfasts. In the spirit of full disclosure, they ate cheerios with peaches and bananas rather than the traditional Lucky Charms, but I think they were still magically delicious. 

We enjoyed plenty of high-quality entertainment. 

Splashed around in the delightfully kid-friendly pool.



Ate lots of good food. 


And got a little grumpy when it was gone.

We braved alligator teeth. 

Watched the waves.

We celebrated a big day. 

And relaxed like we were... on vacation.