I simply cannot believe it. It is not possible that my son is old enough to go to school. He's just a baby. Well, maybe he's a toddler, walking before he's a year old, trying to get into everything. Or maybe he's the kind two year old who notices that his sister spit up and runs to get a towel before I've even noticed. The three year old boy getting faster and faster, and loving all things outdoors, sun or rain, summer or winter? The four year old going to preschool, and the only boy who could pay attention and sit still all class? This first born of mine, who reminds me of myself but with a lot more physical agility, is five years old, and he started school today. The pictures are for you Mom, in memory of every first day of school we ever had, which always started with a picture. It was hard to get a good shot in the rush of getting two kids out the door, but here are my three favorites. The top photo is on our front porch, and the other two are at school: outside the classroom and at his seat. I love this five year old, and I think that he will like school. The first day was fun!
I came upon Jackson giving Caroline a "horsie-back ride" the other day, and the amazing thing to me was that Jack can actually carry her. In this first picture both of her feet are off the ground. Caroline has good balance, and Jack has great strength! Lately he'll sometimes pick her up and she'll grip tightly and he can carry her around. She's three quarters of his weight, and I'm pretty sure I can't pick up someone who weighs three quarters of my weight! Here's three pictures of the action, just for fun:
This birthday boy loves balloons, and he chose this outfit himself, because they were good party clothes, as he said. We had a wonderful party for Jack's birthday. Beforehand we had asked him what he wanted to do: have some kids over, or go out to dinner, but he said he wanted to invite everyone and have a BIG party. So we did! It was a lot of people, and a lot going on, but Jackson was a gentleman to the end. Happy Birthday to my favorite five year old. I love your caring and responsible nature that you mix with boyish fun. Here is a catalogue of the party in pictures: mostly it's about good food, good friends, and good fun! Three girls, each seven months apart, playing on the swingset. From the left, Elizabeth, Marilyn, and Caroline. Two cute mamas: Lindsey and Betsy. Will enjoying the nice weather (finally!) on the back porch. Phil made a book for Jackson and Caroline, starring them and Millard the Moose. Here he reads Caroline her copy while Trystan and Papa listen. The Beltran's came! Trace was given a smoker the day before, by a friend who was frustrated with it, so he made us two kinds of ribs, barbequed and smoked, along with whole chickens, and New York steaks. It was all accompanied by corn on the cob, coleslaw, beans, and smoked nuts. Yum! Andrew and Taylor were there, and Andrew brought Jack his own pair of Wrangler's as a gift. He can be a real cowboy now! We opened gifts with those who had little kids first, and spread the rest of the gifts over the course of the evening. Here Jackson and Marilyn, good friends, are opening her gift. Jack and Phil reading his copy of the book Phil made. Grandpa Chuck and Grandma Caroline gave Jack a sleeping bag, with a map to going camping in the backyard. He's slept in it most nights since, but in his bedroom. Here his cousin Natalie helps him try it out. Chuck's brother Ben and his wife Roz happened to be in town on their way to a grandson's graduation, so they made it to Jack's party too. It was good to see them! This is a bunch of Fike boys: Ted, Andrew, Tim, and Jack. Do they look related? Dave reads Jack his pirate birthday card. The birthday boy at the end of the evening in his new Giant's hat. Happy Birthday Jack!
Shoot! I've been uploading these pictures to the blog for days (anyone have any tips for a faster way to upload them?), and they're not all here. I'll publish this anyway, with more to come--like the pictures of the amazing quilt that Aunt Becky made him. It's everybody's new favorite blanket.
Today was a busy day for Jackson, Caroline and I. First we had our first outing to the zoo with Jack's preschool. It was the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary, which takes in only rescued animals, so it was smaller than most zoos, but perfect for us.
We got to see monkeys, bunnies, red fox, coyotes, wolves, two tigers, two bears, deer, peacocks, chickens, bobcats, raccoons, and a mountain lion. There was also a wild boar and a pair of sheep. All the animals were up close and personal which was fun for little people, and different but exciting for me too. You don't often see a tiger or a bear from three to ten feet away. It's quite something.
Jack and Caroline are both quite a bit smaller than the seven foot wingspan of a Golden Eagle. And they really liked the deer, despite how common they are.
After our trip to the zoo we finished our day by celebrating Christmas tea with Grandma Jo. Her friend Peggy McQuerry organized a tea for her since she won't be here for Christmas, and I think she was overwhelmed with the amount of gifts she received. The kids sure had fun helping her open them though!
What could be better than a day that looks like this? The kids and I cleaned off the back porch on Saturday and put out the summer cushions and pillows. Best of all (for us anyway) was that Trace came home early from his golf tournament, so we got to sit outside and have dinner together. Fresh strawberries and cherries from the farmer's market, and hamburgers that Trace made. Yum! Of course it rained on Monday, and because I had seen the weather report calling for merely "showers" (the cushions would be okay with a few drops of rain, right?), I didn't bring them back in, and they'll probably take the rest of the week to dry off. But they were sure nice on Saturday!
I do realize that all of my posts have been about Jackson lately, but he really did get a new haircut that he wants to show off. He was so cute this morning when I woke him up to get ready for preschool. I told him that it was time to take a shower, and he told me that he needed to put gel in his hair first! The hairdresser yesterday styled his hair with gel after his "Andrew cut"/crew cut, and he was determined that it look just as cool today. Four year olds are too cute! I did explain that the gel would come after the shower, so he was okay with that. We borrowed some of dad's so that Jack could have "poky" hair again, just like yesterday. He calls it an Andrew cut because he wanted it cut just like his big brother Andrew.
The rest of the story of these pictures is that we went for a walk to the creek that's across the street from our house. Caroline wanted to leave from our house, and to bring Sam (our dog), and Jack wanted to find water, so this satisfied everyone, to Jack's surprise. He had forgotten about this creek. It's probably at least a half mile from our house, so they did a good job hiking there and back, especially with their wet shoes and clothes on the uphill track that is the way home. They both got in the water, which is a perfect 4-6 inches deep where we were, yet with a few deeper holes so that Sam could swim. Fun was had by everyone!
I'll close with a video of each of them wading in/across the creek. They're not great videos, but they do show how much fun they were both having, and they want to share them. Don't you love the sound of running water?
As I start to type this, Caroline is telling me that, "dancers are doing dancer things and artists are doing artist things and I am a dancer and Jack-y is an artist."
Yesterday is the first time i have every seen Jack do anything recognizable with his painting: he painted a stick person, complete with eyes. Today he was painting again, a lion, and I was so impressed that I took a picture to share with all of you. It has a mane, eyes, and a mouth, and all in the appropriate place. This is especially amazing because it comes from my son who has been able to throw a ball right to you since before he was a year old (he has great gross motor skills, and always has!), but who has very little fine motor skills ability. He knows his letters, but he has a lot of trouble writing them. It was so fun to see his progress in the last two days, and his pride as I took a picture of his lion to show everyone. Well done Jackson!
Two weeks ago Grandma Jo had Jack and Caroline for the weekend while Trace and Becky and I went to the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) conference in Anaheim. We had a great time, and connected with others in the coffee industry, but I think the kids had more fun! Grandma Jo lives next to the church, with a wide open parking lot, flat, and perfect for biking. At the time, both kids had "balance bikes," meaning that we had taken the training wheels and pedals off (Aunt Katie's superb recommendation) so that they could work on their balance. By the end of the weekend Jack could balance for twenty seconds while going down a gentle slope. The next weekend, three days ago, Trace spent ten minutes, or less, working with Jack on how to get started with pedals, and that was that. Jack can now ride a two-wheeler! He's very excited, and he was going on daily rides with Trace, at least until the rain/snow started again yesterday. So maybe that was only two days of riding, but he loved it!
Caroline is sure that she also learned to ride a two-wheeler. She's been telling everyone, whenever I mention that Jack can ride a bike. We actually put her training wheels back on, thinking that maybe she could keep up a little better, so she does get to pedal on her bike now: thus she can ride a two wheeler. She pedals now doesn't she? That's the definition in her mind anyway. She is quite excited that she finally got her own, purple, bike helmet, as you can see in these pictures. She's been wearing it a lot, and tells everyone how safe she is. The most impressive to me, however, was how Trace got her back to the house when she was tired from all the bike riding:I'm quite sure that I can't ride a bike while holding a kid with one arm, but Trace made it look easy! I'll finish with a video of the new bike rider coming toward me up the street. He's an expert now!
Our three-year old Caroline Virginia Fike was given this chair by her grandmother Caroline Viola Fike. It is an amazing story, well told in the card that accompanied the chair. In case it's hard to read small, I'm going to reprint it here. The card in the last two pictures says:
Dear Caroline, When I was your age, three years old, my Mom and Dad gave me this little chair for my birthday. This picture is of me with the very same little chair. I'm playing with my dolls on the porch of our house. That was 70 years ago! The chair stayed at my Mom and Dad's house and dairy farm in Porterville, California most of those years. This is where I grew up with my older sister Patricia and my older brother Fred. A few years ago Grandpa Chuck brought the chair to our house in Grass Valley. He has been waiting for just the right time to restore it for someone very special; that special someone is you: Caroline Virginia Fike.
Our little girl is three! This is a whole series of pictures of Caroline's birthday party. The fact that it was her birthday all day was a hard concept for a three-year-old. When she woke up in the morning and I told her "Happy Birthday," she responded: but nobody is here yet. She repeated that line all day. To her a birthday is all about the party, and her party didn't start until 5pm. It was a perfect time, especially since both kids had at least an hour nap beforehand. She loved her party, and she was so excited about all her friends being there, and opening presents (she loves gifts: she's always wrapping things up and giving them to people).
This first picture is from the night before, working on her cake together. Then we move to the party pictures. Here she's looking quite excited about this big gift from Grandma Caroline and Grandpa Chuck. She was also excited when her friends Elizabeth and Marilyn arrived, and she opened her gift from Elizabeth (neither of them could wait:)): food for her new kitchen. Trace spent the afternoon and evening preparing a sumptuous feast for everyone: yum! We had delicious tacos, with a choice of mild chicken, spicy chicken, or medium beef. Something for every taste! The most amazing Aunt Becky made Caroline a bunny for her birthday, and they had a special time opening it together. Caroline was Becky's shadow when everyone first arrived: all the people were a little overwhelming for a few minutes. Lindsey and her son Graham, so sweet. Caroline wearing the Clement's special birthday crown. Aunt Katie loaned it to us via Grandma Jo for Caroline's birthday. Thanks for sharing! Sitting in her new chair from Grandma Caroline. I'll do an entire blog post on that later. It was very special. Opening Dave's gift with him. Lindsey and Betsy with their two boys visiting. Trystan, Marilyn, and Caroline playing with Caroline's pretend cookie set--perfect for her new toy kitchen. The Beltrans, who kindly brought a gift for Jackson too. Singing happy birthday: time for cake!
Caroline blowing out her candles. Sitting on Dave's lap putting on her purple goggles from Tracie. The three roomies. Beautiful Betsy and her son Andrew. Aunt Heide and Caroline. Finishing the night dancing for Mike and Ellen. We're glad you're three Caroline. You are a treasured part of our family. You keep us all laughing, and melt our hearts with your smiles and cuddle times. I'm excited to see you grow in the years to come. I love you!