Thanks to his ardent support of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, Larry was given the opportunity of a lifetime: To spend the day cruising the USS Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier, off the shores of San Diego. He invited Danny to join him for the excursion, and the result was the creation of lifelong memories.
The timing was excellent, as Danny has recently become very interested
in the military, and even speaks of joining the Navy. I'll admit I can
imagine him as being an excellent officer.
Learning to stand at attention.
I don't know that we'll ever fully know which one of them had the better time, but I do know the smiles were VERY big when I greeted them at the airport. In addition to the incredible Naval experience, Larry spent six hours at the San Diego Zoo with our wildlife-loving boy - and even finished off the day with dinner at a hibachi restaurant. He came home a VERY happy boy, and I think even understands just how lucky he is!
For several months, Laura has bemoaned the fact that she will NEVER lose a tooth. About a year ago, the dentist mentioned that she had a loose tooth. Well, that loose state must have only been detectable by a dental professional, because we certainly couldn't tell, and Laura couldn't even figure out which one to wiggle.
Last month, at her semi-annual cleaning, the dentist mentioned that it was quite loose, and since the permanent tooth was already present behind it, we really needed to get it out of there. She told us to give it a couple more weeks, and if it didn't come out then we should come back in and get some help. I was dreading this, and encouraged Laura to wiggle away, because Laura's very crowded mouth has led to several cavity fillings - translation: far too many visits to the dentist already. Unfortunately, the tooth didn't budge, so this morning we had to brave the office once again. That said, it was a pretty smooth experience (complete with laughing gas and numbing cream), with the added benefit of loosing TWO teeth. Double the Tooth Fairy loot!
Things got a bit more complicated later in the day, when she somehow lost the two tiny teeth out of the necklace she proudly wore all morning. Clare happened to be on duty when it happened, and she thankfully remembered that she had swallowed the first tooth she lost, and the Tooth Fairy still stopped by. After I reassured her the same once I got home, she made her peace with the loss. Nevertheless, right before bedtime she decided to write this note to cover her bases, and make sure the TF knew she lost TWO! (I particularly love the drawing of the fairy.)
This summer marked our second season of having three swimmers on the Byrnwyck Blue Dolphins - and the first with one of them as a junior coach! (It was also the second summer of my managing the team, and that is all I care to say about that aspect.)
Clare genuinely enjoyed coaching, and I think she is a natural. Danny started the season frustrated by how much work it was for him to swim, but by mid-season was enjoying the process and cared enough to put in some extra time with Clare. His efforts paid off, too, earning him a Swimmer of the Week honor. For her part, Laura was one of the more confident swimmers in her age group, showing that her winter training at the Y paid off.
Feeling awesome after their first-place performance in a relay.
Each of them also really enjoyed the camaraderie of the team. Laura loved her time with Meghan but also got to know some of the other girls in her age group, which was nice when we saw them at the pool outside of swim team. Danny loved having a "squad" for shooting hoops. And Clare was delighted to have more time with Hayden, who we recruited to the coaching staff.
As I've mentioned before, the five of us don't really get a lot of leisure time together. Between that and the fact that we skipped Florida last summer in favor of the Outer Banks, we were all really looking forward to our June vacation - and it did not disappoint!
Almost everything about the week was terrific, but the fact that all three kids really took to the beach this year was most likely the highlight. Presented with an iffy forecast, we just took it day by day and opted to take advantage of good weather pockets - of which there were far more than we originally feared. On our first trip to the beach, I introduced the three boogie boards I had optimistically picked up at Costco. I had envisioned Tim using the third, but it turns out Laura was a huge fan and perhaps the most proficient at it.
Water park fun
Throughout the week, we did all of our favorite things (in addition to several beach visits). We hit the Tampa water park on Monday, as the weather looked the most promising. This was Laura's first visit, and only my second, and all five of us had a grand time. Clare, Danny and Tim braved a couple of the more "intense" looking slides, but for the most part we all enjoyed a variety of rides.
In addition to the usual draws, Clare and I finally satisfied our yen to try parasailing. It was way more calm and relaxing than we anticipated. The views were gorgeous, and it was surprising how quiet it was so high up. Ultimately we decided that we were very glad we tried it, but probably don't need to do it again.
One other new (to us) outing was to head to St. Armand's Key for dinner, and then a stroll along Lido Beach at sunset. We had a gorgeous evening, had a stranger quickly take the "pyramid scheme" family photo at the top, and felt very, very blessed. We are family.
There are certain moments of the Kindergarten year that you can faithfully rely on happening, and be assured of enjoying, too. The first was "Hats Off to Mom," in which these sweet kids celebrated the many different hats we moms wear. Laura had the honor of narrating one of them (coach!), and I was so proud of her reading and speaking into a microphone in front of the gathering.
Second, at least at CKS, is the Kindergarten musical, which this year was "The Three Piggy Opera." DARLING! What's not to love about a show that includes the song, "I want a big, fat pig to eat!"?? As I sat in the audience of parents and watched the entire school file in to watch, it dawned on me why Laura kept telling me she was nervous for this performance, despite not having a specific role to play. That's a huge audience of BIG people watching them. But of course they shone! It was precious, as I know these moments and this age to be.
Clare's eighth grade year at Marist has come and gone, and once again she has collected several accolades. At the end-of-the-year Foundations Awards, she was recognized as the Outstanding Student in Science - a bit ironic, given this is one of her least favorite classes. But, perhaps more impressive because of that. Her performance in the school geography bee, winning for the second year in a row (without missing a single question) and earning another spot in the state bee, was highlighted. As was the fact that she and her debate partner, Moira, earned their varsity letters by successfully competing against high schoolers. She continues to dazzle us with her enthusiasm for learning.
She also continues to surprise us with her eagerness to try new things. In last night's final chorus concert, she and her friends Isa and Paula performed a solo - something they had to try out for in a relatively competitive environment. I have since gotten many compliments about her performance, too!
This girl is more than ready to tackle high school!
All three of the kids *really* look forward to their birthdays, and this year was no exception for Danny. Being a non-party year (in the blow-out sense of "party"), Danny came up with a great suggestion for how to celebrate: He invited 4 buddies over for an all-out nerf gun war in the backyard. Considering that he has been accumulating an impressive arsenal over the last year or so, it was nice to see them all get some solid use. And thankfully Mother Nature cooperated and gave us an incredibly beautiful, warm enough but not too warm, day!
After instructing Tim and I to hide the guns (and extra bullets) all around the back yard, the five boys let loose and proceeded to spend the next hour and a half in warfare heaven. Easiest party ever! Eventually they came in for some brownies and ice cream, then went back outside to play hoops until the moms started rolling in. We knew it was a successful event when each boy groaned at the sight of their ride home - no one was ready to leave! Danny ultimately pronounced it "the best birthday ever," which sealed the deal.
This was the culmination of a week of celebrations that began with our fivesome dining at his favorite place, Fogo de Chao. It really was a nice meal, the first time the five of us had been able to connect and relax in a while. From there we went home to enjoy his Hawaii Five-O inspired cake!
And a few days after that Donna and Larry arrived into town, which not only meant a nice visit with them but the big reveal of their gift to Danny: A trip to San Diego for a full-day excursion on the USS Roosevelt next month. Suffice to say, Danny is definitely excited about this!
A truly terrific boy deserves a truly terrific birthday, and Danny is most certainly terrific!