Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania

Last year we spent Thanksgiving in Ohio. This year we traveled to Grandma Debbie and Poppy Dave’s House. We took the train with Aunt Beth. 

Waiting to board the train in Boston.

Becky slept for a while.

Entering New York City there was a pretty view of the city.

Cloey came with us! 

Grandma Debbie worked hard on the custom placeholders for each person, all 19 of us!

Above is Aiden, he is 5 and the youngest. 

Becky didn’t look as cute as Aiden with the pilgrim hat on her head. But she is cute none the less.

Cousin Jake, his sister cousin Mandy and Jake’s wife Kim. Kim and Jake are Aiden’s parents.

Ally and I took Cloey for a short walk but it was so cold we had to turn back.

The 3 of us washing dishes after dinner!

Ally and Aunt Pam

Mandy, Ally, Cloey & Becky

Thank goodness cousin Emily brought apple pie! Ally had 2 servings.

After dessert the younger generations went for a walk. This is Ally’s selfie at sunset.

It is hard to take a great group selfie in freezing cold weather in the dark but we all were smiling so I call that a win.

Aunt Louise (Dave’s sister), Uncle Tommy (Aunt Pam’s husband), Becky and Beth.

Uncle Denny (Aunt Cindy’s husband and Mandy and Jake’s dad), Ally and Uncle Jim (Aunt Polly’s husband and Sarah and Emily’s dad).

The 4 sisters in Age order left to right: Cindy, Debbie, Polly and Pam.

Cousin Emily and her fiancée Greg.

Dave and Beth

Our family.

Our family with a classic photo bomb by Aunt Beth!

It was a very nice Thanksgiving gathering. After all the relatives left Ally, Beth and I headed out for our now tradition of Target on Thanksgiving night. Ally got 7 shirts!!! And we got a few Christmas gifts and Ally had fun spending some of her birthday money on new makeup and other fun stuff.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Guat Girls Party

Sunday Morning we continued Ally's birthday festivities by hosting the Guatemala Girls. It has become our tradition - and we think of it like a "family" party - that Ally celebrate with the Guat Girls. They are after all pretty much family - 10+ years of monthly gatherings. The girls all get along and enjoy spending time together.

Ally, Rosa, Gabi & Roxie spent quite a bit of time upstairs coloring rocks - they turned out beautiful and it was a great project for the girls to work on - and chat and hang out. The moms hung out in the kitchen - ate some bagels and fruit and then the girls came down to eat. They had a blast sitting and chatting and - they devoured some fruit. We had some child chopsticks out and they were so silly eating blueberries and grapes with the chopsticks. Honestly what I loved most was how they all get along and are so comfortable with each other.

After brunch they played some games - we had planned on these games for Ally's Saturday party as well but that group had so much fun with the blind makeovers that they never played any of the other games. It worked out really well - because then Ally played them with her Guat Girls.

First up was moving mini marshmallows using only chopsticks from one bowl to another. Sorry no pictures of that. The girls played one vs one and Alice timed them - how many could one girl move in 30 seconds. Rosa was the winner.

Then it was the straw game - moving Skittles candies from one bowl to the other using only a straw. Ally did pretty well at this one but I think Rosa won that too.

Of course Chubby Bunny is always a fun game - who can put the most full size marshmallows in her mouth at once. Rosa was the winner yet again- 6!!!! I will say that Ally and Gabi had 5 each and Roxie 4. Each girl ran to the trash can to spit them out - it was pretty gross. But so much fun. Below are the Chubby Bunny pictures.

After Chubby Bunny it was time for the Oreo Game - this is when you put an Oreo cookie on your forehead and without using your hands try to move it down your face and into your mouth. It was hilarious. Gabi accomplished it first, and then Ally - but we had fun watching them all try. And getting to eat the Oreo after wards is a fun treat. 

I love this picture of Ally blowing out her candle.

Rosa, Gabi, Ally, Roxie & Alice. The Guatemala Girls.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

School Update

Last night we had Ally's parent teacher conference.  It was the best conference we have ever had.

Finally teachers seem to "get" Ally. We were told that she has fantastic listening skills and that they count listening as part of class participation. Its still true that Ally hardly ever raises her hand or volunteers in class - but she always knows the answer when called upon and she is an active participant in small group activities. One teacher actually said "she is a delight to have in class and so kind to her classmates". The other two teachers we met with agreed. 

Ally is at or above grade level in reading and writing in both Spanish and English. Math has been a bit of a struggle this year but we met with her teacher and the math specialist a few weeks ago and we have a plan for additional support for Ally in Math. Ally's social studies teacher said Ally is very organized and is doing well in his class. 

Engaged, actively listening, paying attention, hard worker, organized, kind, quiet. These are qualities and characteristics that have been a part of Ally for her whole life. It was such a relief to have teachers recognize these as the positive traits they are and not just harp on how Ally needs to improve her class participation. Her English teacher told us one of her goals is to encourage Ally's leadership skills this year (she is also Ally's homeroom teacher and teacher for their group/team building class). It was just amazing to have teachers see Ally and "get her" and not just overlook her as the quiet one who should raise her hand more. 

Our main concern going into the conference was that to us Ally has seemed unorganized and had a lack of focus this year. She has misplaced her assignment book a couple of time and doesn't always seems to know the homework. Seem is key here. Her teachers were floored - to them Ally is organized and on top of things. So our perception at home is not actually the picture of what is happening at school. Becky and I are pretty aware that this is typical tween/adolescent behavior  to appear this way at home and not be that way at school. And its another relief that Ally is organized and is doing well. 

Ally thinks she is doing well - she has told me this year "I'm smart". She works hard during school to complete class work so she doesn't have so much homework - with her gymnastics and dance schedule its hard to do homework - so she is really motivated to get work done at school and not have to take it home. 

In English they wrote and illustrated their own graphic novels this Fall and her teacher told us she was really impressed with Ally - how hard she worked during class and how incredible her illustrations were. She is a gifted artist. 

This post has been a big brag. I'm just so proud of Ally. Middle School is a big deal - even in a K-8 school like she goes to - and I am thrilled she is doing so well and managing things.  I've always felt like one of our main parenting challenges was to not mess up who Ally is. She is inherently kind and I want her to stay that way. The world needs more kind and more thoughtful people. It needs more listeners and less talkers. 

Enough on the serious - check out the pose Ally did the other night on the main stairs in our new house. Yes that is her own leg. 

I guess I should add flexible to the list above of her inherent qualities. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Happy Birthday Ally

On Ally’s 12 birthday it was also our move day. Crazy day. Becky and I both took the day off work. We had to close on the house and supervise movers. While moving we also had painters painting our bedrooms and bathroom in the old house. Tenants move in today. 
Ally went to school, ballet and gymnastics practice. She got home around 830pm. We worked hard to have her room set up. She unpacked a little and got to sleep about 930pm. Then was up at 615am Saturday for her 7am practice. After practice it was home to unpack, shower and decorate for her school birthday party. 

Just like every year Aunt Beth came over for the party and she and Ally decorated. I didn’t get a picture of the two of them. But they had fun.  The party was 5-9pm. The girls hung out in our new 3rd floor family room, ate pizza for dinner then played a game of “blind makeovers” at Ally’s request we had make your own ice cream sundaes for dessert and after that did a craft and then they watched a movie, Ocean’s 8. Movie ended and they all went home. 

Then this morning we hosted Ally’s Guatemala Girls party. Bagels and store bought cake. Fun party games and they painted rocks for a craft. 

Now we are all resting and trying to relax and enjoy our new house.

Donuts for breakfast! And family celebration.

Becky and I in front of our new house and after we signed all the papers at Closing.

I had to walk Spotted the fish 150 yards from the old
Condo to our new house.

Ally loves her new room.

Saturday morning we stopped by the old place after practice for one last look. And last couple of pictures.

All ready for her party.

Beth and Ally did an amazing job at decorating the 3rd floor party room. We have it set up as a tv room on one side and a guest/study area on the other side.
This year Ally told me “I trust you” to pick out all of the decorations. So I did.

Ally at the ice cream bar. 

Starting with Ally who is at 1o’clock:
Ally, Ellie, Olive, Maya, Daniela, Else, Colette, Juli, Catalina, Willow and Angie.
These are Ally’s school friends, she’s known these girls for many years. Everyone she invited was able to come and she was thrilled.

After dinner was the “blind makeover game”: one girl wore a blindfold and had to apply makeup to a second girl. There was also a 3rd girl who acted as an assistant and handed the makeup artist the makeup. 

Cata did Ally’s makeup 

Daniela make-ing up Maya.

Willow’s was pretty scary.

Ally did pretty well with Juli’s makeup.

The group shot of makeup 

Birthday girl!

Sisters bonding while assembling our new coffee table.

Such a whirlwind of 36 hours. We are so grateful and happy.