We Love Preschool!

I can't believe it, but Ava's year of preschool has already come and gone! 
 This was her first day shot, back in September.  What a peanut!!!  Of course back then, I thought she looked like such a big girl but now I'm looking at that face and thinking what a little thing she was.  We were fortunate to send her to the preschool at our Church, which was super handy for me considering Travis was in the building and he sometimes drove her in.  Not to mention that more than once he saved me while I was running late and ran downstairs to pick her up for me!  It was a great fit for us and I am thankful we sent her there.  We didn't have big expectations for preschool and no real goals that we were hoping she'd achieve.  We just wanted this first "school" experience to be fun and for her to enjoy being in a classroom setting with new friends and new teachers.   
 For everything we hoped it would be, it really was much more!  We carpooled with our friends and this is how the two of them looked back in September.  We watched Ava bloom  and grow all year, coming out of her shell with her peers and making some sweet friends along the way.  
To say she loved preschool would be a major understatement!  Every morning she woke up the first question she asked was, "Is this a school day Mom?"  If it was she was delighted and immediately picked out what she wanted to wear and imagined what they'd do that day.  If it wasn't a school day, she was bummed and we'd start our countdown until she could be back at school!  The last day was very bittersweet for us.  It was sweet for us to realize this was now a memory in her childhood and a little bitter for her to realize it was over!  
 She will be just fine though, Kindergarten is an extremely promising reward on the horizon and she can't wait!  I can't believe how much these two have grown and matured this year.  They are good little buddies and had such a fun year carpooling on Mondays and Tuesdays.  I will miss their giggling in my backseat each week and the many hilarious conversations they had, in between singing all of the Frozen songs!  
Ava definitely got a little taller this year and grew into a whole new wardrobe too.  That little backpack was so funny to me this year, it was quirky and darling just like her!  It also seems to have shrunk when I see it in this picture.  When she started school it took up her whole back and now it's just a bit smaller.
We loved going to her two parent-teacher conferences over the year and hearing about our girl from her teachers.  We know what she's like at home and with family and in our world at Church, but it was fun to hear what she was like in a totally different setting with lots of kids she didn't know.  We're proud of her and thankful that she was a good friend and respectful and obedient to her teachers all year.  It was fun to watch her skills develop as we thought they would but more important for us to hear and see her heart grow in love with Jesus and with others.  
 Last weekend I bought a set of the BOB books for her to try and read.  I had a feeling she was ready, she's been sounding words out forever and is always talking about what words "start with" but we hadn't really worked on it together.  
This girl just made us laugh!  After about 20 minutes of helping her sound the words out, the next thing I know she's plowing through the first 4 books reading them!  
She was so proud of herself (and so were we!) and she read them aloud to me, to Trav, to Texie and to my parents on FaceTime.  Seriously, as if my heart could handle one more milestone???  What a fun thing to have a big girl on our hands and obviously we are excited about the whole new world of her reading ahead.  I foresee some read alouds with her brothers in the near future :)   
So last Monday was her last real day and Tuesday was her end of the year program and Graduation!  Now before I had a daughter in preschool I would have rolled my eyes at the sound of preschool graduation.  Seriously.  Do we have to celebrate everything???   But like everything else in parenting,  now that it's my child, it sounded like the most precious thing ever!  ha ha!!  
We were all very excited and Ava had been saving this outfit from her birthday for her big day!  It was an extra special treat to have Texie with us to celebrate.  She painted Ava's toes and fingernails and bought her some new sandals...she was darling! 
We have been hearing so many songs for weeks and weeks as her class practiced and Ava let us in on a few "surprises" we might see that morning!  This girl was SO thrilled to be on stage and to have us there watching.  Even from Christmas time until now, it was fun to see the difference in her confidence level and her excitement.  
And not one to be left out, Carter was just as excited about the morning's activities.  He's been hearing all about it for weeks too and Ava notoriously makes him play "school" with her every afternoon, so he was ready! Ha! 
It would be crazy to not also see how much Carter has grown up over this past year.  He really had a hard time with Ava being at school at the beginning of the year but as he got used to it, we got to spend such fun time together and I watched him really grow in his ability to entertain himself.  Something he hasn't always needed to do because of Ava, but now he does it so well and often even when she's home.  I think that's been a really good thing for both of them and it will help a lot when she's gone all day next Fall.  
I brought my big zoom lens and was so thankful I did!  Ava was hilarious, very serious about each song or verse they said, but SO excited too!

 Her sweet little class.  She enjoyed all her new friends so much and told me all about each of them most days.  
This is Ava saying the "Pledge to the Bible" with her hand on her stomach, apparently! 
Because she was at a Christian preschool, she learned some precious truths this year.  She can name the Fruits of the Spirit, all the books in the New Testament, the Armor of God, and several other verses in addition to many other spiritual truths that the Lord used her teachers to plant deep in her heart.  I think that is my favorite thing about Preschool.  How special and important to have her teachers and the staff feeding her soul, not just her mind.  
 Her expressions and actions were cracking me up! 

"And I just thank you Father for making me, ME!"  
I loved this song and remembered every word from when I sang it at home as a little girl too! 
 These little cuties were cracking up during the "Chicken Song" for a good reason... of their teachers graciously danced in a chicken costume for our benefit! 
 Ava couldn't wait for us to see that! 
 So fun, we loved every minute! 
 Especially this little march down the aisle for all the graduates headed to Kindergarten!  
 Be still my heart....Can't you just see this picture side by side with her Senior graduation someday??
Going on stage for her certificate and handshake!  

Just loved that hat sliding down her little head! 
 What a wonderful year Ava had with her two teachers.  They were a blessing to us and so dear to her. She just talked and talked about them all the time and when she played school most days, I'd hear her mimicking everything they said or did that day! 
 There is something so invaluable about teachers who love Jesus and who take the time and effort to weave Him into their classroom.  I will miss that the most!  I loved leaving her in their care.  
Proof that she grew!  Her little name and height lines are to her left.  She was still one of the shortest in her class but she did shoot up this year! 
 So sweet to have Texie with us!!  Ava was thrilled to share this day with her! 
My big girl.  What a fun year!!  
Next up on the Preschool train is Carter!  We aren't sure if he'll start in the Fall, we may wait until I'm on my feet a little bit with 3 kids and send him in January, but he's got two years he could go until he starts Kindergarten and he's excited to go to "Ava's school" too!  

One year down!  Thirteen to go!!  
Daddy had to go back to work after Ava's ceremony but Texie and I took the kids to Culver's for lunch.  It was a big morning and this is about how we were all feeling that afternoon!  Tired but thankful for a great year and a great end to the year.  
We loved Preschool and I would do it again in a heartbeat for Carter and Walker!  

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