Thursday, August 25, 2011

A fifth grader!

Somebody please slow down time.  I cannot believe this is Kendra's last year of elementary school.  Sigh.  Of course, I wanted to take a few pics to remember this day. 

The preparation:  Setting out clothes the night before, getting the supplies ready.  

Cute shorts and pants courtesy of Bama.  We got the shoes.

Kendra mod-podged torn scrapping paper on the covers of her spirals to make them different.  CUTE!

Time to get up!

Such a sweet, peaceful face.  Can't believe it belongs to a fifth grader!
The traditional "pose in front of the house" pic.  It was before sunrise!

Grade 5!
R, Kendra and H---all teacher kids, great friends.

Kendra with her teachers, Mrs. Meier and Mrs. Kirk.  Kendra switches classes for the first time this year--Kirk for ELA and social studies and Meier for math and science.  I teased them that they dressed alike for the first day.  Super great teachers...LOVE THEM!
Kendra came home from the first day of school and could not stop talking!  She was so excited about her teachers, had many, many stories to tell.  She had been worried about fifth grade--not about the teachers but more about the workload.  Rumor was that they got piled with homework.  Well, the teachers made some changes and it seems like the homework load is going to be lighter than she had with that mean teacher last year.  :-)  She was THRILLED.  Fantastic start to the year. 

By the way, my new class started out well, too.  I have a bunch of sweet kiddos.  Of course, there is some "getting into shape" to do, but we'll be on track in no time!  :-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New family pet

Kendra's dad likes to live vicariously through Kendra.  He loves animals, and he wants to experience ownership of many kinds of animals by buying them for Kendra.  So far, I've agreed to hermit crabs and aquatic frogs.  That would be in addition to the beta fish and the hound dog we already own.  Two summers ago he and his parents visited Michigan while we were there and tried to saddle me help Kendra rescue a distressed frog and turtle from a local creek.  The turtle died that night, and we found a happy home for the frog in the very nice man-made pond of the neighbor of my mom (the frog still abides there). Thank goodness. 

So last spring Kirk sprung upon me that he wanted to buy Kendra a chinchilla.  Um, no.  No, no, no.  Kirk is a researching kind of guy--doesn't make decisions about major purchases quickly.  He researched, I still said no.  Especially when I heard about daily dust baths.  Daily.  Dust.  Baths.  Um, again I say.  NO.

Kendra has wanted some kind of lizard creature for a long time.  I am not opposed to lizards, so to speak.  They are kinda cute sometimes.  I AM opposed to the very pricey set-up they require (heat lamps, wet and dry areas, etc).  So I told Kendra to tell her dad that instead of the chinchilla I would agree to a bearded dragon purchase.  He came the week before school started (he comes while I have meetings so he can spend the week with Kendra) and TA DA!  We now have a new family pet named Tex.  Kirk is big on making sure he gets the best of the best, so this beardie lives in quite the deluxe habitat.  He really is a cute fellow, and has been very personable---he lets you hold him a long time, sits on Kendra's shoulder for good bits of time, and has acclimated really well to his new place.  The pet store told us to expect that he wouldn't eat for several days but he ate on the second day we had him.  The REALLY cool thing about him is that he is 100% Kendra's responsibility.  She can open the cage, clean up the messes, feed him, water him, etc.  ALL by herself.  She couldn't do all of the care of any of the other pets we have (fish tank too heavy for her to carry to clean, hermit crabs bit her on first day so she was scared of them, etc).  She has morning and evening responsibilities with Tex, and she really enjoys interacting with him.  My argument for more animals has always been that I do not need one more thing to take care of---I already have a dog, fish, daughter, house, and 42 students to worry about.  But Kendra is fully in charge of Tex.  Except I buy the food (live crickets, by the way, who also have their own little house).  But Kendra takes care of him fully.  Cool. 

His name is Tex for the slight orange coloring he has---UT's colors are orange and white

On Kendra's shoulder---Seriously,I think he was posing!  :-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Third and final birthday-palooza!

We always have a small "friend" birthday celebration when we get back from Michigan each summer.  Summer birthday + neighborhood pool = easy, cheap party.  This year's friend party theme was "beach".   Kendra invited her four besties (one was out of town and couldn't come) for a swim and sleepover.  For the favors we did sand pails with a bag of Goldfish and a fun beach-themed water bottle.

We started out at the pool.  My friend Missie came to hang with me while the girls swam (bonus--friend time for me, too!).   We came home and did the revolving door shower for all.

Showered up--they all wanted side pony tails.  :-)
 Kendra opened her gifts from her friends.   She got some fun stuff!  Check out that darling little denim purse!

Then I put all the girls in the car and we went to Pizza Garden which is a pizza buffet place.  The girls loaded up with pizza, salad, and sodas.  I usually just get Little Caesar's cheapo pizzas, but this was nice because there was zero cleanup for me!

We decided to do something different for dessert this year.  I usually make a cake or cupcakes (which I did for Palooza #1) but we thought it would be fun for Kendra to teach her besties some of the skills she learned in our cake decorating class last spring.  So I made beachy cut-out sugar cookies and Kendra taught the girls how to use a star tip to decorate them.  They got to pick which colors we made, and they did a really great job.  They got to make a couple to eat that night and then I put the rest of what they made in clear treat bags for them to take home to their families.
The set-up

Kendra doing the demo..."We have our bag at 12:00"  She sounded just like our instructor! 

H having a go at the palm tree cookie

R & K concentrating hard!

Check out these beauties!

Candles don't go in cookies, so we had Kendra just hold 'em!
All sugared up and ready to go, we played "Spin the Nail Polish Bottle", a game I read about online.  We picked out many colors of polish, and the girls sat in a square (four people = square, not circle).  We used a pie plate and the girls took turns spinning a color of polish they pulled randomly from a bag.  When the polish stopped spinning the girl who the cap was pointing to had to paint one nail that color.  They had a great time doing this!

We wrapped up the festivities with a theme-appropriate movie--"Soul Surfer".  FANTASTIC movie, the girls loved it.  Of course, popcorn and Root Beer are necessities for movies and our hound dog Grady had oodles of fun nabbing the pieces of popcorn the girls tossed for him.

We had pancakes for breakfast and the girls all made bracelets from the kit that H had given to Kendra as a gift.  Another successful celebration.  Whew!  That's the last one!  :-)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Nashville and Birthday Palooza number 2!

A long time ago, my brother called me.  Doesn't sound big, but he doesn't call often.   I love him, he loves me, we just don't chat on the phone.  Anywhoooooo....he called and said he wanted to try to have the whole family get together in the summer, and he thought it would work great if we met somewhere in the middle when Kendra and I made our trek home from Michigan to Texas.  My sister and her hubs LOVE Nashville, and I had wanted to go for a long time, so we decided to go there.  My mom and her husband, my sis and her fam, and Kendra and I all took off from Michigan and my brother and his fam drove up from where they live in Alabama.  We spent a long weekend together in Music City!!!!

Friday:  Erin's fam and Kendra and I actually left on Thursday and spent the night in Louisville.  Jack had "business" there, so his company picked up that tab that night.  So we arrived in Nashville just after lunch time Friday, and the rest wouldn't be there until the evening.  We got settled in at our hotel--we stayed at a Drury Inn which allowed dogs (because our hound comes with us to Michigan, and well, we couldn't just leave him there when we were going home!).  They were very reasonably priced and had a great hot breakfast daily, as well as a dinner thing called a "kickback"----it was mostly bad-bad-BAD-for-you food (nachos, potato bar, hot dogs) but it was FREE and with all the kids we had, we took advantage!

After checking in we headed down for the first view of downtown Nashville for Kendra and I .  We went to some of the favorite Honky Tonks of the Garnett crew and heard some decent live music. 

Erin and Jack

The Friday early crew.  Please note my cowboy boots.  A big splurge for me on this trip!

Girlies upstairs listening to the band.

My mom and Troy got stuck in a traffic from a major accident and my brother got stuck at work longer than he hoped, so both of them didn't arrive til pretty late.  We just hung out at the pool, ate the "kickback" food (and felt gross afterward) and waited for them all.


We started the morning by taking a tour of the Opryland Hotel.  This place is stunning!  It is really a city unto itself.   It was amazing to think that it was devastated by the Nashville floods last year.  Apparently the waters reached the 2nd floor rooms.  Wow.

Bama, Papa and the grandkids

Us three kids:  my brother Brendan, sister Erin, and me

Kendra and mom

I thought this was a cool photo op--if I was a better photog the lighting would have been considered!

All the kiddos!
After the Opryland tour, we grabbed a quick Wendy's lunch and headed to downtown.  Our mission was Tootsies---a honky-tonk that does "open auditions" every Saturday afternoon.   My two nephews are A-MAZE-ING drummers.  I'm not just being  a bragging aunt.  Seriously.  Jack is 13 years old, and he played at Tootsies two years ago.  He played two songs, with his dad singing one of them.  Rocked the house.  People around me were talking in amazement while I sat with a foolish grin on  my face.   

Then my nephew Luke stepped up.  He is seven years old.  SEVEN.  I'm going to let my brother's words explain these two boys.  My brother is a drummer, as is my dad.  So they know more than the average Joe about evaluating talent in that arena.  Brendan says that Jack is excellent--he will listen to what others will tell him to help him be even better.  He is awesome and will continue to get even more awesome.  But Luke.  He says Luke is unteachable.  At first that sort of offended my sister.  But then he explained.  He said that Luke has innate talent and nobody is going to teach him anything.  Crazy good.   Here's another thing about Luke.  He is not a fan of having people's eyes on him.  His whole life he's been like that---he gets really shy sometimes.  But not with drums!  He got up and played while his dad sang, and there was not one inch of space to stand in that room.     Luke was jamming so hard he broke a stick!  He did not break rhythm one bit--and the house drummer just handed him a new stick and he kept on going!!!!  Let me tell you how awesome it was to be in that audience hearing all these people talking about my two nephews.  We're not supposed to be prideful, but I'm telling ya, I had me some serious PRIDE!  I took video, but no pics.

Saturday night:  a rare treat for me...a night out with my siblings and their spouses without the kids.  Downtown we went again after we fed the kids and left them to swim to their hearts content with Bama and Papa.  Lots of the Honky Tonks allow children to come in up until about 7 p.m., but there are several that don't allow kids during the day at all.  Those are some of Jack and Erin's favorite places to go, so we got all gussied up for nightlife and went out.  Sadly the music was disappointing that night---sometimes you find tremendous talent and sometimes not.  This was a "not" night.  But we still had fun.

Sunday:  Jack and Erin love Sunday mornings in Nashville because lots of times the places have talent who sing the old country stuff, which they love.  So again, we headed downtown.  This was Kendra's real birthday!!!  And what she wanted to do most of all was shop.  So some folks sat and listened to music and some of us shopped.  Kendra really, really wanted a cowboy hat.  She had birthday money from Uncle B and Bama, so we went looking.  She found this great hat for a very reasonable price:

We met The King while shopping  :-)

The plan for the day also involved an ice cream to celebrate the birthday, and we went to a Sanders ice cream shop.  My mom was in hog heaven because when she was a teenager she used to scoop Sanders ice cream at one of their shops.  She loved telling the stories to the grandkids.

Our last stop for the afternoon was at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, where the two-person band called Kendra up to the stage to sing Happy Birthday to her.

As we had eaten the "kickback" dinners two nights in a row, we had planned to go to a restaurant called Demos's, which by Jack and Erin's account had excellent food for fairly cheap.  It was delicious!  I swear the bread had some addictive substance in it.  Our waitress was outstanding---so much so that I asked for a manager to tell him how great she was.  We had a blast and ate well, and Kendra got to have a delicious birthday dinner complete with singing and dessert!

The girlies before dinner

At the restaurant for K's birthday

The yummy cake which Kendra shared with all her cousins! 
Sunday night:  After we got back to the hotel we hung out for a while and let the kids swim one last time.  My BIL Jack said we had to have a Senorita Sendoff in their suite--I'm not sure how he came up with the name but it stuck!  We all gathered to say our goodbyes.  It was not pretty.  You see, most of the time, Kendra and I say goodbye to my sister's family at their house and drive off and do the same with my mom and Troy.  They never deal with the wreckage that is my daughter as we leave them.  Well, this time, they saw, and she started quite the avalanche.  Kendra started crying, then Tessa, then my sister, then my was a hot mess.  But then it got worse because poor little Luke, the youngest little buddy, lost it.  Just lost it.  Luke really bonded with my brother's son, Briggs, this trip and he was not happy to have to leave him after only a few days.  It took him a good hour to calm down, my sister later told me.  Sigh.

I'm really glad my brother called and made this suggestion.  I think we might try a different place next year---it would be fun to explore other locations.  Heck, the kids would be more than happy to just hang out and swim all day long.  As long as they get to be together, that's all that counts.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Misc. Michigan pictures

I had a few pictures that didn't really qualify for an entire blog post by themselves but are cute enough that I want to document them. 

Impromptu cousins water balloon fight

Right over Kendra's head!

My nephew Jack being a goofball wearing Kendra's sparkly silver sunglasses

Kendra and Tessa in their matching $5 skirts.  Yep, $5!!!

My sis, Erin, my cousin, Heather, and me.  Don't mind the bananas that appear to be emerging from my chest.

The common sight of the Kendra/Tessa sleepover.  So sweet!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Birthday-palooza Part 1

You know, Kendra has quite the sweet deal when it comes to her birthday.  She gets to celebrate AT LEAST twice.  Once in Michigan with that bunch of family, then once with friends when we get back home to Texas.  This year it felt like she had a zillion celebrations!  The first was the ear piercing extravaganza.  The piercing and earrings were part of her birthday gift from Bama and Papa, and that day started with a really yummy breakfast at a cool diner, then the earring experience with cousins, topped off with ice cream at the mall.  Then she got her card from my dad when we went to visit.  He always gives the kids a couple lottery scratch cards, and this year she won $5!  Woo!

The next celebration was the traditional dinner and kickball game at Bama and Papa's house.  Kendra had requested a Hawaiian luau theme.  We had ham, grilled pineapple (YUM!), and summer-y salads for dinner.  Kendra and I used our skills we learned in our cake decorating class to make the flowers to put on cupcakes, then I arranged the cupcakes to look like a lei.  (At least it is supposed to look like a lei!)  I got necklace leis and coconut cups for the kids as party favors.

Um, these girls don't have too many more years before they are causing their daddy's ulcers, do they?
After dinner we had the third annual Kendra's Birthday Kickball Game.   It was really hot that day---we all felt like we were melting!  Michigan heat comes with a HUGE dose of humidity, so it felt very much like running through pea soup.  But it is tradition, so the game must go on!  This year Kendra chose herself and Uncle Jack to be team captains.  My mom was the all-time pitcher, and Papa Troy was the umpire (due to a foot injury).  
Team "Number One" with Captain Kendra, Tessa, Pat,  Jack and me

Team "Bieber"  My niece is obsessed!  Captain Uncle Jack, Aunt Erin, Gracie, Luke and Big Jack

Bama, the all-time pitcher
After we all melted into puddles we headed in for cake, ice cream and presents.
An earring holder from the Garnetts.  They also got her the Selena Gomez CD.
Cute PJs from the other Garnetts--my BIL's parents who are like an extra set of g'parents to Kendra

And the gift from her dad and I...

Yes, that is an iPad.  Lest anyone think that my kid is rotten, let me 'splain.  Kendra's dad purchased a very nice iPad for himself a while back- the kind with mega memory.  Apparently, he got a BOGO deal when he got his---this one was free.  So we gave it to Kendra for her birthday.  There is NO WAY she would have gotten one any other way.  :-) 

So, birthday part 1--success!  Part two is comin'!