That's a Wrap!

Ava's big year in Kindergarten came to a close in early June! 
We were all excited for the end of the year to finally be upon us! 
Bring on sleeping later, playing in jammies, no more carpool and being together all summer!!  Yay!!!
Although summer has been a welcomed changed and reprieve from the schedule, Ava had such a wonderful experience in school and we loved watching her enjoy it and grow in new ways. I spent many hours worrying and wondering if we made the right choice to send her where we did and then praying and asking the Lord to take care of her and provide for her before the year began. I'm amazed when I look back at how He answered those prayers and stilled our fears before that first day ever began. He was so faithful to us and His presence and care was very real to Ava this year and we praise Him for that!
Not only did Ava grow up this year but so did her brothers! This is such a classic picture of the monkeys waiting for her at home every day! They missed her every time we dropped her off and were so happy to see her again when we would pick her up. It was quite an experience to be without my girl every day, that took some time for my heart to get used to, but she loved it so much that it became much easier to send her off knowing she was happy to go. 
And to think Walker was a newborn in an infant carrier when we sent her on her first day, and a tank now! Time flies!  I love these pictures of him, wrangling him for a picture is nearly impossible these days! 
It was beach day on the last day, which admittedly, I barely had the bandwidth left to celebrate. So many dress up days this year, I made a half-hearted attempt to help her look "beachy" while mostly just focusing on the fact that the daily grind was almost OVER!! 
I never got over dropping her off and watching her walk by herself into school everyday. She did finally look so much bigger and older by the end of the year but for the first 5 months or so, I could have cried every time she left me!  Thankfully she almost never looked back, she just marched her cute self into the building every morning, always so excited to be there. 
We were most anxious to find out who Ava's teacher would be last summer and He just blessed us with the sweetest and most wonderful gift in Mrs. Fogarty. She was perfect for our first school teacher and Ava adored her. I am so thankful to God for pairing us with her and we loved getting to know her all year as she taught our Ava. We were truly sad to say good-bye to her on the last day, but I know Ava will love seeing her in the halls next year!
We also got to see one of her special friends as we were leaving! These two were two peas in a pod this year, I know she will miss her this summer. At each of Ava's conferences we heard about how compassionate and kind Ava was to her classmates, always concerned about anyone who was sick or sad or struggling. She came home with lots of stories and we spent time praying for different kids in her class at dinner.  There were also some great teachable moments this year, as she got a taste of what it's like to be left out when you don't want to play something or how it hurts to be talked about. For reasons God is in control of, Ava has experienced this exact same thing before with girls who haven't always been very kind to's hard to see that but at the same time, it's given Travis and I lots of opportunities to talk about it with her, to help build her character and to remind her of her true identity that is defined by what Jesus says of her. It's also a good time to encourage her to be a good friend too, regardless of what someone else does or says. She has a tender heart and sweet disposition by nature and I hope she never loses that! Standing up for herself has been something we've worked on a lot, but being a friend to the kids who don't always fit in or get included is an area we've seen her shine in. School was a learning experience for ALL of us! But it's really the first of many, right? Life isn't always what you imagine it will be but God is always good and He is trustworthy and faithful to us. We have loved helping Ava see and believe that this year as best as she can. Who knew Kindergarten social dynamics could already feel complex?? 
Fun to watch the staff line up to do a big wave send-off as the buses pulled out for the last time...
...which was a big moment for the boys and I too, because it meant that we survived the carpool this year!!! I feel like we should get an award for that, really!!!
Truly, that was the miracle here! Every morning and every afternoon, we waited and waited and waited...rain or shine, in the warmth and freezing cold...I nursed Walker many afternoons in the back seat and we listened to him scream when he decided I wasn't moving fast enough! We watched movies, listened to the radio, talked to Daddy on the phone, read books, and ate snacks. It was not an easy thing day in and day out, many times we all wished we could just stay home. But our girl was worth it and no one was more happy to see it end for the summer than Carter and I! 
And maybe Walker!?! I think he was happy to be done with all that car seat time, too!
We celebrated the end of the year with dinner out and ice-cream. Ava's school didn't do a graduation ceremony (which was GREAT in our's Kindergarten after all!) so we let Ava choose a dinner spot (Noodles) and then we treated everyone with some fro-yo to cap the year off!
Our new first grader! 
Walker was the proud recipient of Ava's hard work and enjoyed his first ice-cream outing too!
He earned it with all those hours logged in the car and all those naps that were interrupted!
And Carter earned it as well! Preschool is on the horizon for him this Fall, more changes for everyone!!

I thought I would share some funny pics of Ava's dress-up days from this Winter and Spring. Truly this year was one party after another, in the midst of all that learning! I don't ever recall having a dress up day when I was younger (in elementary school) but they sure employ them now! 
On the 100th day of school, the teachers asked the kids to dress up like 100 year olds to celebrate! 
Ha ha! Pinterest to the rescue, we scrolled through lots of pics there for some inspiration. She was the cutest old lady I've ever seen!
We sprayed her hair with some white temporary color and dug through her closet and mine to come up with her look. Not surprising, she was VERY opinionated about all of her accessories!
She was hilarious! We had AWANA at Church that night, which was also funny as she retained a few of her "old lady" things while she was at Church. We got some funny looks and giggles! 
Valentine's Day!
Which meant treats for the teachers...
...and a kiss from her Daddy, who reminded her about who her only Valentine was, him!
Disney day! 
PJ and stuffed animal day!
St. Patrick's day!  Thankfully Carter had a hand-me-down t-shirt from a friend she could wear, otherwise I was basically empty handed for this holiday. I've been making lots of mental notes for next year and the years to come :) 
Mid-Winter, Ava took a little after school drawing class and she loved it! She brought home lots of beautiful art and we loved what she was able to do!  So far, art is her thing. She loves, loves, loves to color and draw and paint and create. She spends hours doing all of the above and it was fun for her to take a little class with some other kids at her school who love to create as well. 
Her birthday!
Field day!
And beach day/the last day of school...exhausting, right??  I welcomed summer so intensely, mostly for a break from all these theme days! I could hardly keep up! 
One of my sweetest memories from the year was these little lunchtime notes we exchanged. While I packed her lunch, I left her a note each day during that first week, thinking it would just be for that week so that she wouldn't miss me- I know, first time school mom right here!  Naturally she loved them so much and began asking me to write her another one each time she had cold lunch, so I did! Fast forward to the end of the year and I ended up writing tons of them and as I discovered, she kept each one of them in her lunch box! Sweet girl. I loved knowing she smiled when she found them each time and that she didn't ever want to throw them away. Wonder if the boys will be into this someday?? Probably not so much the princess stickers and rainbow colors, but maybe some cars and trucks would make them feel loved too :) 
I'll have to remember to stock up on notecards and stickers for next year!
Ava, you did it! We love you, we are proud of you and we are excited for your school journey to continue! We will always encourage you to do your best in school and to work hard, but we are most proud that you were a blessing to your teacher, a good friend to all of your classmates and a little shining light for Jesus! Those are the things that matter most to us and always will. 
We love you, Ava! 


Vintage Love

If you've followed me for a few years, you know that I have previously spent many summers (not to mention Fall, Winter, and Spring) creating and designing flowers for brides. I have a little floral business that grew into more than I ever expected it to and I have loved it! I'm currently on a little break from weddings, it's just too much to manage with three little kids underfoot right now and although I do miss it, I love being a Mommy more! However, I did have a fun opportunity this Spring to design a bouquet for my Aunt who was getting married in June and I wanted to share it with you. The wedding was in Iowa, but I was able to create her bouquet because it was a departure from my normal fresh flowers and it was made with permanent materials instead. 
She was inspired by the vintage jewelry she found while thrift shopping and asked me to incorporate them into a bouquet that would fit her outdoor/romantic/vintage theme. I almost never get a chance to use permanent flowers, so this was kind of exciting and gave me an outlet for all my pent-up creativity. 
I'm glad I said yes! 
She sent me home from a visit with some gorgeous things she'd found and then I picked up a few more things to help hold it all together and tie in her theme. 
She was looking for something with mostly ivory to set off all of the jewelry, but she also wanted touches of blush, peach and a soft turquoise incorporated to tie in what the bridesmaids were wearing.  
I couldn't wait to get started and then my little Ava caught wind of what I was doing and wanted to help too!  Sweet girl. She must have known that would be music to her Mama's ears! She has witnessed many of my wedding designs from start to finish and has helped me deliver them a few times too. I would LOVE it if she and I became a mother-daughter design duo someday, who knows? She climbed right up on my bed and told me, "Mom, I'm SO excited to do this! It's my first time to design!" 
How could I turn that face down??
We put this feather clip in her hair and she played around with some of the silk flowers, pretending it was her big day. I called Travis in to see her and we both got a lump in our throats imaging how quickly that day will come someday. We both caught a glimpse of her grown up self as she smiled at me through the camera. 
Oh, how we love her! 
We played around for a couple of hours with everything and then I finished! 
This is the front.
A side view
Another side view
And the back. 
Just like a fresh flower bouquet I wanted it to be beautiful from all sides, no matter how you hold it or which was it was facing.
I brought my little helper outside and asked her to model it for me so I could photograph it. 
I love the way the light hit it and made it sparkle!
This was so fun to do, I truly love how it turned out and that it was so different from what everyone else does. 
My Aunt found some really gorgeous pieces to use but I kept thinking, this kind of bouquet would be so fun to make with family pieces too. Wouldn't this be so sentimental with your Grandmother's or Mother's jewelry?? You could take it apart after the big day or keep it forever as is. Either way, what a fun way to use pieces that mean something on your wedding day. 
It was also so NICE to make a bouquet that could be done way ahead of time, as opposed to the day before when you use fresh. I loved that part! No stress for the florist   :) 
It's not for everyone but, if vintage is your thing you might love it too. You could do so many shapes and sizes, depending on what pieces you have to work with.  
Regardless, can we just agree that my model is the sweetest girl you have ever seen??  More than the bouquet in her hands, I was amazed at what my camera captured...Our precious, kindhearted, and sweet natured girl. She is looking so grown up to me lately, so much older. It's a beautiful thing...
Happy Wedding Day to my Aunt Sharae, I am glad I was able to make this. 
And a big thank you to my right-hand girl! Let's do this together more often, okay?