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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Preschool Graduation

Luke is officially a preschool graduate and he couldn't be more proud.  He has had the absolute best time this year in preschool, learned so much and made some great friends, so what better way to end than with a celebration of these cute kiddos.

A few days before graduation we went for his end of year testing.  They reviewed recognition of capital and lower case letters, letter sounds, recognition of numbers 1-10 and basic shapes, and counting. Miss Nikki had marked what he knew when they tested at the beginning of the year so that we could see his progress.  I was completely amazed at how much he has learned and retained.  He struggled a little to distinguish between some of the lower case letters, but otherwise, he knew almost everything that was asked.  At the beginning of the year he only knew a few in each category so the progress was huge.  Luke is the very youngest in the class (most of the kids will go to kindergarten next year) and Miss Nikki said that he kept up with the rest of the kids without a problem.  When we decided to start him in preschool, academics were actually secondary to me - I wanted him to make some friends and learn how to work with other adults and kids.  Socially, his experience has been completely successful.  He has really enjoyed being with the other kids - playing in the sand box, show and tell, puzzles, stories, and role playing.  All of his academic successes are a total bonus and should set him for a great school year next year. 

When he first arrived at the graduation, Luke seemed a little overwhelmed, and not quite ready to participate. The graduation started with a slide show with photos and video clips of memories and activities throughout the year.  There were a lot of silly moments and by the time it was over, Luke was laughing and couldn't wait to get up on stage with his class.  They sang several songs and each kid had a speaking part.  Luke had worked hard to memorize his and he was so happy to stand up and say the full thing without any help.  In fact, we practiced with him so much that I think the whole family knows the part - including Ruby...."Hi, my name is Luke.  This year Miss Nikki taught us all about the Winter Olympics.  We had bobsled races and rode the luge."  It was so cute to watch all of the kids and how excited they were when the program was over.  I loved the sense of accomplishment that it instilled.

Oh how this boy loves Miss Nikki.  The night before the graduation I went in to kiss him good night and he was crying great big tears.  When I asked him what was wrong, he said that he was really going to miss Miss Nikki and he was so sad not to go back to preschool.  I told him I understood and that he was lucky to have had such a great teacher.  Then I reminded him that he could still visit Miss Nikki and see her a lot.  That seemed to cheer him up a little.  We could not have asked for a better teacher for Luke's first school experience.  She obviously loves the kids and loves what she does, and everyone around her can feel it - especially Luke.

When we were about ready to go, 
He said that he needed just one more picture with Miss Nikki.

I missed getting a better shot of this "group hug", but I loved watching the moment.  It was such a carefree, unscripted moment between these little buddies.  I am sad for Luke that he won't get to say his playmates each week. 

Family support is the best and I am so glad Luke has experienced that early. 


This page from his yearbook brought back so many memories - it doesn't seem possible that he has experienced so much in what feels like such a short time.  The process of graduating and all that it meant for Luke did get me a little emotional.  As his mama, I want to see Luke soar and experience every good thing that is out there.  But it is so hard for me to lose my baby and let him fly.  Seems like a sentiment I will be expressing for the rest of his life. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tulum and Turtles

The last few times we have been to Mexico, Tim has actually convinced me to leave the hotel to do a little exploring.  For this trip he had some vouchers to use and planned a day trip to Tulum and Akumal to swim with the turtles.   I had previously been to both places, but this time we got the VIP treatment from our tour company and the adventures were especially great.  We talked Amy into going with us and all had the best day.

After being picked up at our resort, we made a quick stop at Xel-Ha to transfer buses and meet up with the rest of the group that would be joining us at Tulum.

Since the first time I went to Tulum, it has been one of my favorite places to visit.  The beauty is truly breathtaking and, it is easy to understand why the Mayans would have chosen this location.  Usually we just explore on our own, but since this was Amy's first time, we decided to stick with a guide to learn more of the history and details.  I was so glad that we did.  The guide we had was really interesting and shared information that I hadn't ever known - he was also pretty brief and stuck to the highlights.  The guide was Mayan and spoke from that background, but gave a pretty balanced account of the ruins and is ancestors.   This history is fascinating, but the views are really my favorite.

There are four watchtowers throughout the complex which gave the Mayans strategic advantages. This particular tower also served as natural hurricane warning system.  It was built in such a way that if the wind gets to a certain speed (high enough to be dangerous), it would whistle as it blew through the tower.  Pretty amazing that they had so much knowledge about construction and the weather.  

We learned a lot more about the social structure of the society.  Apparently the commoners all lived outside of the walls - the only people allowed inside the walls were nobles and priests, those born to the right families.  

The beach area was a perfect place for the Mayans to meet and trade with fellow tribe members and other groups from all along the coast 

Iguanas are everywhere at Tulum

Our tour guide was great, but Tim took enough pictures to provide his own tour.  I like to call this a "selfie" guided tour of Tulum, courtesy of Tim.  He hits all of the highlights.

Inspired to take my own 

After Tulum we drove deep into the jungle where we stopped and had lunch.  From there, we went to the town of Akumal to get ready for the chance to snorkel in the bay.  The turtles love the area  and spend their days there because of a type of grass that grows on the ocean floor. Even with a waterproof protector for my phone, it was tough to get any fantastic photos, but snorkeling with the turtles at Akumal was completely unforgettable.  We spent an hour or two in the water and were amazed at the majesty of these giant sea turtles.   When it was time to breathe, they would surface right next to us and didn't seem to even notice we were there.  In addition to the turtles, we saw a giant eagle ray and several big sting rays. Tim found and followed a large silver fish until our guide quickly warned him that it was a barracuda. Definitely not friendly.  Swimming with the turtles was the perfect end to the day, and to our vacation. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

That's Why God Made Mexico

As many times as I have been to Mexico, I am still always completely in awe of the beauty.  The resorts are impressive and I appreciate how much it takes to maintain the grounds so beautifully. However, they can never compare with the beauty created by God.  Nature is really at its finest in Mexico and nothing makes me happier than to just sit and enjoy.