All About Ava

Walker has pretty much owned the blog for the last six months, but I thought it was time to update you a little on his sister and brother.  Today I'm looking back on Ava and specifically her year so far in Kindergarten! 
 It's hard to believe we are already 5 months into the school year and this sweet little face looks much older.  I can't believe how much her hair has grown and how much bigger she is!  
If you'll recall, on the day we sent Ava to school, I cried my eyes out the entire day while Miss Ava hopped, skipped and smiled her way into her new school! After we picked her up on day 1, she was sold on school being the "most fun!" and we (Carter and I) resigned ourselves to accepting our new reality.  
Kindergarten was definitely all she hoped it would be!
 Since that "meet the teacher" night, we have been so thankful for Ava's teacher.  Ava just loves her and we have enjoyed getting to know her better and sitting with her at Ava's first conference.  She is a blessing to Ava's days and we have prayed, and keep praying, that Ava will be a blessing in her life. I'm thankful for an older, experienced teacher with four kids of her own!  She's made this year an easy transition for sure.  
We have learned quite a few things in this process, Ava and I.  Packing her back-pack, sending lunches, signing permission slips, returning library books, and remembering hats and gloves...we've had a learning curve together!  For the most part she is great at remembering things but every now and then we miss something.  I feel like no one prepared ME for the amount of work I would have in Kindergarten! Good grief, the special days, the fundraisers, the online everything accounts, the school spirit days, the posters...I'm ready for summer already. I feel like I really need to re-state my appreciation for the last 6 years at, were they ever laid back and relaxed!  School has put a major damper in my preference for quiet days at home.  
Carter and I spent the first few months like this, while waiting for Ava after school in the carpool lane! We are always excited to get our girl back! The carpool lane has become my second home this year, another reality I've come to accept.  I've never loved my minivan more! We live too close for Ava to ride a bus so we drop her off and pick her up everyday.  That has probably been the biggest adjustment to my daily life.  I no longer have a day with "no plans." Although it seems like a long window while she's in school (6.5 hours) it is amazing how quickly it flies by!  I really expected Ava to be more exhausted than she is, but she's adjusted very well and hasn't really had meltdowns related to her being overly tired.  
When the weather was still warm, we took the opportunity to walk to school most days.
 Have you ever seen a cuter Kindergartener??
I loved that time with her to talk about her day or say hi to new friends. I also used it as a great chance to get my daily exercise in and as soon as it got too cold for Walker to be out that long, I really missed burning those calories. So did Carter!  He loved those long walks together.  As soon as we can, we'll be bundling up to get back out there.  
 We got introduced to the P.A.W.S award at Ava's school, which we proudly celebrated the first time one came home!  We quickly realized those are handed out quite liberally when she started bringing them home daily, sometimes more than one a day! Haha! 
We are still proud, but maybe not rewarding her with treats every time  :) 
Ava's biggest concern each and every day is what she will wear  :) 
We talk about it, negotiate based on weather and then she likes to put something together and show me...oh man, I have totally met my match in her!  We've had some heated discussions of course, usually due to her desire to wear a sleeveless, summer dress when it's like 10 degrees outside!  I have chosen not to battle her and I usually go with what she chooses but every now and then I have to overrule her.  Travis always bursts into laughter and tells me that she's all mine when the teenage years hit!  She is as stubborn as a mule when she has her heart set on something.  
We've learned lots of give and take this year!  
Usually, she just wants as many colors of the rainbow as she can possibly wear! 
And how can I say no to that??
One of her very favorite weeks this year was when she was chosen to be the "Special K" at school.  Part of that title meant she needed to bring an "all about me" poster in and she couldn't wait.  
 She was supposed to put pictures of her family on there as well as some of her favorite things.  We made this together one weekend and she loved every minute of it.  We bought our supplies, printed our pictures and then she told me she wanted me to draw her favorite things, ha ha! I love what she chose to include.  I think she loved sharing this with her class.  She came home beaming and thoroughly enjoyed the line leader privileges all week, as well as some other perks in her classroom. 
 A few months in and Carter finally adjusted to Ava being gone all day, every day.  He really missed her and the first month was hard for him, but as Walker gets bigger he's enjoying that and once he clued in that he could play with all the toys he wanted to, his attitude drastically improved. 
 Still, when this is my view every afternoon, I think we all feel happy to be reunited! I love those two monkeys, way in the back!
We've had only one snow day this year, which is crazy for Minnesota, but we enjoyed it thoroughly and made some hot chocolate to celebrate while Ava poured through the American Girl catalog. 
 Once it officially became Winter, that meant the winter gear became part of the daily routine.  By now we have it down pat and she is great at getting herself all dressed and bundled up.  It's a lot for a little girl to remember but she does it every day! I love my little rainbow! 
The theme days have been totally hilarious and fun!  
This was 50's day when they celebrated the 50th day of school with a sock hop in the gym!  
Thank goodness for amazon and free 2 day shipping!  
That skirt came to our front door and it was perfect.  It came with the scarf and we had all the rest. 
Can you even stand her in those cat-eye glasses???  I wanted to be at her sock hop so badly! 
The very next week it was another theme day, this time it was Cowboy/Western day! We loved this one and although I could not find a cowboy hat at the last minute, she sure made one adorable cowgirl!
 The boots were a great purchase from Target before we left for our Texas trip! 
They've gotten constant use, she loves boots as much as her Mama I think :) 
Pajama day was a fun one and the perfect chance to wear her new Christmas jammies from Texie! 
 In the month of December, Ava's class learned about Christmas traditions all over the world, including this one from Sweden where the oldest girl in the family wears a wreath with candles to serve a traditional bread to her family.  Ava wore her cute crown everywhere for days, including on this morning while we ate breakfast at McDonalds!  
 While learning about Hanukkah, Ava remembered she had a dress from Israel that Trav brought home for her a couple of years ago.  It's one of her go-to dress up outfits but I never let her wear it outside the house because it's so thin and sheer. She convinced me this was the *perfect* occasion to wear it to school and so we let her. 
I thought the cowgirl boots were a nice touch, ha ha!

We had lots of good discussions during this series at school and were able to have a good dialog with her teacher who presented a Christian perspective on Christmas for two days.  We were very thankful for the balance and that was a sweet thing for Ava to recognize and for us to see her faith grow as she asked us questions and we got to encourage her to stand confidently in the truth.  Kindergarten has presented so many of these discussions and we are so proud of Ava and how tender her heart is toward her classmates and her teachers, and her desire to see them know Jesus.  We are more convinced than ever, that what happens at home far exceeds and trumps what happens at school.  Not that peers and other voices in her lives carry no weight, they certainly do, but we are learning how critical it is that we encourage her, build into her spiritually, seek her heart out daily, pray with her and for her every day and simply allow her to ask questions and process.  I can't believe the depths of her heart and how much she is capable of understanding, spiritually speaking.  For all the fear I may have felt going into a public school system, God has been faithful to us and He has shown us where His grace has gone before her and how He is taking care of her and giving our family opportunities to live our faith out and share Christ with gentleness and respect.  
The classroom teddy bear got to come home with Ava over Christmas break and oh my did she love that!  We had to take pictures with "buddy" for their class book and she was totally into it.  He made it into the annual sibling pic on the night we opened presents...
and even came to a Christmas party with friends! 
She loved adding our adventures with Buddy into the classroom book!
On the day of Ava's Christmas party at school, it was another pj day and lucky for Ava, she had just opened these from us the night before! Frozen still ranks right up there as one of her all time loves!
 I signed up to help at the party and it was very fun for me to be there and see Ava with all her buddies!  This is one of her little friends and she was so excited for me to meet her.  I spent most of the party spinning kids and blindfolding them so they could pin the carrot nose on frosty and win some tattoos!  Ha ha! 
 I think I shared these before but I love them. This envelope and the handcrafted stationary and ornament appeared under the tree one day! 
 Ava's love language is all things arts and crafts right now and she made us the best gifts at school! What a sweet surprise! 
 Here are some other sweet things she brought home over Christmas...I am learning how to love these and then quietly get rid of them when the next holiday is ushered in! She is so proud of each and every thing she makes, but oh mylanta, the paper that threatens to take over our house is never ending! 
She made this adorable menorah that she lovingly called a "canorah", ha ha! 
This came home recently, after they studied Martin Luther King, Jr.  Isn't that great??  We loved it!  She was so excited because her teacher told her class that he was a Pastor, just like Ava's Daddy.  
Very sweet. Trav told her he'd like to hang this in his office and that thrilled her too. 
Ava's typical routine as soon as she walks in the door is to immediately shed all of her school clothes and proceed directly to any of her many dress-up outfits.  She gets herself in character and then sits at her art table for at least 30 minutes before she barely acknowledges the rest of us.  I'd say it's her "decompressing time."  This "winter dress" is her current go-to.  She's in love with it and asks me constantly if she can wear it to church, school, to Target, etc.!  
Maybe the very best development of late is that my wonderful neighbor recently offered to come any day I need her to stay with the boys while I run to pick up Ava.  She saw me loading everyone up, day after day, and offered to ease my burden and allow Walker to keep napping.  I can't even tell you how great that has been!  I hated waking Walker up everyday in the afternoon, it really was screwing up his sleep and therefore the rest of the afternoon, and it's just kind of a pain to get everyone in the car only to sit in the carpool lane. Many days Walker cried the whole time and Carter told me a thousand times how bored he was.  This new arrangement is so much better!  We text most days and unless Trav is home or we have Awana, she comes right over and 15 minutes later I'm home with Ava.  Now I sort of look forward to those 15 minutes of peace and quiet before Ava gets in the van.  
I get to hear how her day was and then we get to go home and see the boys.  
It just never gets old picking up this polka-dot princess and seeing that smile when she climbs in! Kindergarten has been a great change for us, although it has been a change.  She is doing great academically and socially.  We love seeing her reading comprehension grow and her ability to do simple math and other skills.  She soaks up what she is learning and often comes home with a "hey, we just learned about that in school!" comment.  I can't believe how convenient it is to live so close to school.  I will be anxious to get back to walking sooner than later, but for now it is so nice to leave our garage and be there and back, 5 minutes later!  We have lots more fun in store, the 100th day is coming up soon (hello pinterest, help me out with some ideas!) and of course Valentine's day is this week, which is big business when you are  5. We've only had tears a couple of days, once when she realized that Texie was visiting and she'd miss out on the days' fun at home and again when she was sad about Carter going sledding with Travis.  Other than that, she springs out of bed each day and asks if it's a school day?  I've already started to gently point out a few things that will be different next year because really, Kindergarten is just one big party it seems! Snacks, naps, recess, dress up days, who wouldn't love that?? First grade might be a big disappointment  :) 

So there you have it, that's our girl in a nutshell these days.  She's loving school and we are loving the ways she is growing and changing.  It's hard to believe her sixth birthday is just around the corner.  I can't believe we are in these school days already and yet it's good and right and just what God has planned for Ava.  We just love her!  

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