Monday, August 29, 2011

A Good Day

Here's a little 'day-in-the-life' post - probably more for me than for you, but I love reading these on other blogs and I think it's a fun way to capture the day-to-day (the "ordinary extraordinary!") around here.

I slept in just a bit this morning, but still managed to get everyone up, dressed, fed, and headed to school on time this morning - actually, just a tad bit ahead of schedule!  Even though I didn't pack lunches the night before.  Even though I grabbed my own breakfast, which I normally skip - a banana in the car counts, right?  J did about 1/2 of the preparation of his own breakfast - currently he's loving grits with a little butter and cheddar cheese.  M ate dry cereal, one of her most frequent breakfast selections (Although on Sunday she managed a collaborative effort for some pb toast with banana- she got an assist from her brother on some toast, sliced her own banana, and when I came downstairs she asked me to help with the peanut butter so she could put it all together.  A little more complicated, but still a success!)  ((OK - all of these food-prep accomplishments make me realize that my kids have grown up A LOT over the summer!))  But I digress - into the car, drive to school (including a reminder about our plan for the afternoon), park and walk in....  J asked me to walk him to his class today (he asked to do it solo on the first day, and we typically do drive-through drop-off unless it's my volunteer day)!

The kids' school requires volunteer hours as a condition of enrollment - one hour per week per child.  My two hours are on Monday, and usually include some combination of copying, grading, cutting things out, or filing/organization.  I've been doing this for one hour/week for the same teacher for 3 years now.  We 'get' each other, so it's easy to figure out how she'd like something done - especially if it's a busy morning and she's just left me a few sketchy notes about what she needs.  It's not really a guessing game for me.  My second hour of the week has changed each year, and this year I'm working the same type of classroom assistant 'job' for another teacher.  I'm not sure she was expecting me there today, as she didn't have anything set aside for me.  But she did have a project I could start working on - organizing the two puzzle/game closets that she shares with another teacher.  I forgot to mention that when I got up this morning, I put on a dress.  A short, summery dress.  Not exactly closet-cleaning attire.  However, I manged to go through all but one shelf and had a lovely, Southern 'glow' to show for it.  I will still get to spend plenty of time making sure games have the right pieces, repairing boxes, and eliminating games/puzzles that are beyond repair.  Next time, I'll dress for the job!

Afterwards, lunch with a friend!  I have a standing lunch date with a close friend - we try to have lunch at least every other week during the school year.  Believe it or not, we had lunch on Friday and again today - we are catching up on what happened over the summer!  We do go to church together, and sure we can email or connect on Facebook, but there's just nothing quit like a girls' lunch out!

A quick trip to the bank, the grocery store, and a stop by the house were next.  I checked email, worked out some scheduling issues (wow, is our fall getting busy already), got the mail, and then it was time to go pick up my two kiddos from school! 

We had some interesting conversation on the way home.  M told me a story about how her friend from Texas sat at her table during lunch today.  When I asked if maybe she meant another friend, she said no - her friend from TX had decided to get a new house so she could go to school here, because they were *best* friends.  I love her imagination!  But some days, it's harder to figure out what part of her accounting of the day is most accurate. :)  J had another good day (with another story about math!) and ate lunch with a new classmate.  It's interesting to think that there are kids in his class that I know (from my volunteer time in other pods besides the one he was in the last couple of years) and that he doesn't, when you consider that I'm there way fewer hours per week than he is in school.  It's also exciting for me, though, because it means he's meeting new people - something that can be a struggle for him sometimes.  He is certainly like me in that respect.

Today was the first day of homework for 2nd graders, and also the first day of daily homework.  Ks and 1s get a homework packet on Monday to be turned in on Thursday - and you can complete it at your leisure.  J was not as excited about homework, but I was hoping it wouldn't be too much of a challenge since he was told during Open House that homework should only take 30-45 minutes (and that includes 15 minutes of reading).  Let's just say that when writing is involved, we typically spend a little more time on it than average - and Mondays are writing days.  In the end, though, J used 10 spelling words in 8 sentences which ended up being a pretty good little story about Cub Scouts.  I was really proud of him, and I think he surprised himself with how well it all turned out.  There was also some math in there, which he finished in a flash, and a math/logic game that we played several times while we talked about strategy. 

M has been a little disappointed to not have homework these past few days, and was disappointed when she realized that J had homework and she did not.  A few days ago, I made a math worksheet for her to complete, but today she occupied herself with coloring while J and I were concerned with his homework.  I do hope she is still as excited about homework when she has some assigned by the teacher!

If all of that wasn't great enough, I still had to figure out what to cook for dinner.  I did not do so well at planning ahead for the evening!  However, I did have some shredded beef in the fridge (which was supposed to become taquitos, until my second pack of tortillas would not cooperate) and those darn, too-thick tortillas.  Plan B = tostadas!  We almost always have black beans in the pantry, and had plenty of lettuce and tomatoes from this weekend's fruit and veggie co-op.  I have had plenty of limes and avocados around lately, too (I love guacamole just a little too much).  Although J told me he didn't really like the smell of the tortillas frying, that little stinker ate two tostadas!  M even ate one - with beef and beans! - and seemed to enjoy it.  We had fruit on the side, which was also a huge hit with M.  Afterwards, I surprised the kiddos with dessert - vanilla ice cream I'd just made this afternoon, topped with bananas and chocolate syrup.  For a throw-together meal, it seemed to be a hit - and 'how much my family enjoyed the meal' is a bigger measure of success for me than how well I planned or how fancy/complicated the preparation.  I think I got an A+!

Getting the kids to bed is always the toughest part of my day.  They want to play games or play with toys and just have fun - and who can blame them?  Instead, it's time for stuff like brushing teeth and picking out tomorrow's clothes.  We have started reading at bedtime again - we sort of fall off of the wagon over the summer - and the kids are excited about that.  I switched up the routine a bit tonight from pjs, teeth, read to pjs, read, teeth - and nobody fussed about brushing teeth tonight.  Dilly-dallied, yes, but not the same kind of reluctance we usually see.  Hmmm - food for thought.  Another way the evening routine is just a bit different is that, instead of reading one book to both kids, I am reading to M while J reads silently.  After I tuck her in, I go into his room to talk about what he's read and then tuck him in.  The plan is he will pick out a chapter book that he wants to read, I will read it first, and then he will read it (while I work on his next selection).  That way, we can discuss the book - which is hard to do for a book you've never read!  We will probably work through some beginner chapter books in this fashion starting next week.  I'm hoping he will get excited about this plan and really be motivated to read for comprehension and not simply accuracy.  I think (hope) I'm going to be doing a LOT of reading!

Now that the kids are asleep, and this post is nearly complete, I think I may head off to bed with my Girl Scout Leader training materials and my laptop in case I can squeeze in the online training tonight.  After I do one last sweep through the kitchen - I think the dishwasher just finished its load.

How have the first few days of school gone for you and your kids?  If it's still summer for you, how are you wrapping up the summer and preparing for the 'new year'?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Day Recap

Mister J started 2nd grade today.  So far, he's told me all about having lunch in the cafeteria (kids at our school have lunch in their classrooms through 1st grade), how he has 'green lunch' and how there are five different lunch sessions to choose from.   He also said that he started learning multiplication today, and that this was his favorite part of the day!

Miss M started Kindergarten today.  She told me that she has a new friend named Remmi (who I happen to know is a first-grader).  She learned abut "plus-ing" (addition), and when asked for an example she told us that 7+8=15.  M was also very excited to go on the big kids' playground (the pre-Ks play on a different playground).  Her favorite thing about the playground was the 'twirly slide', and her favorite thing about the day was playing in Home Living during centers.

I'm sure we'll learn more over dinner, and I hope to post some of today's photos, too!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I just tweeted, and wanted to share:

"Suddenly I feel oddly unprepared for 1st day of school.  Lunches & supplies packed.  Forms completed.  Backpacks at door.  #crazymama #notears"

We had a good day today.  Miss M had a friend over, and the kids played really well together until that mid-afternoon hour when sleepiness seems to hit for M.  While they played, I got a good bit of work done (mostly sorting through all of the paper that seems to collect on every flat surface in the house).  After we took our friend home, I took Miss M to get her hair trimmed.  Thankfully there was only a 5-minute wait!  Then to St@ples for some last-minute school supply purchases.  The store was packed, and we only managed to get half of our list.  Boo.  (Why we don't have the true supply list until 2 days before school begins is a whole 'nother topic.)  Then to the grocery store for limes, the one missing ingredient for a chicken marinade I need to prep and freeze asap. 

Unfortunately, we had a rushed dinner this evening, but did manage a bit of snuggle time before heading upstairs for baths and bed.  Things kind of went downhill at that point.  M needed a bath, J needed to clean up the rest of his trains, I needed to buzz J's hair, then he also needed a shower.  Then I helped M select her outfit for tomorrow - which went much more smoothly than expected.  Then teeth-brushing and tucking in.  Whew!  I was disappointed that Mister J got to bed much later than I'd hoped.  Mostly due to dragging his feet on the clean-up (even though he knew it was a 'must-do' chore).  By 9:30, I was thinking about climbing into bed myself!

I didn't go to bed that early, but perhaps I should have.  While I was not going to bed, these are the things that popped up on my 'worry list' this evening:

What will I pack for lunch?  (Been doing this for two years now - why am I stressing?)
Did I get all of their supplies packed?  (Um, yes - you've been over the list a few times now...)
Wait - M said she wants me to pack a change of clothes just in case!  (Just needed to put them in a zip-top bag....)
Snacks!  Don't forget to pack snacks, too!  (I've forgotten to pack J's snack a few more times than I'd like to admit, and this is the first time M has needed me to pack a snack, so this is a valid worry.)
Pictures!!!!  Don't forget to take pictures!!!  (Um, duh....)
What will we have for breakfast?  (You'd laugh if you could see how many boxes of cereal are in my pantry.)
 I'm planning to have breakfast with some friends, and then...?  Don't get me wrong, there is plenty on my to-do list - but suddenly I find myself thinking, "The house is going to be sooooo quiet!"  Any other day, I'd be happy to be alone in my house - because that never happens.

Now that we've been together all summer, I think I'm going to miss their sweet faces tomorrow.....

Let's Get Literal

As the kids were on their way out of the door to play, I asked Miss M to "get a pair of shoes for playing outside."  Apparently, it wasn't clear that I wanted her to put them on.  In a hurry to get outside with the boys (we have a friend over today), she left these on the porch, just outside of the back door.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Countdown to School!

I have been looking forward to the start of the school year, and I'm feeling even more excited about it now that we've had the opportunity to sit down with each of the kids' teachers to talk about the upcoming year, expectations, etc.  This year, we have a kindergartener (in a blended K-1 classroom) and a 2nd grader!

While our teacher meetings went well, they didn't go quite as I would have expected.  We met with Mister J's teacher first, a very enthusiastic woman with a moderately strong Northern accent.  Mister J suddenly became uncharacteristically shy when his teacher asked him a few simple questions (parents' names, phone number, etc.).  When he did answer her questions, he spoke so quickly she had to ask him to slow down.  Miss M, on the other hand, was quite happy to talk with Mister J's teacher about summer vacation and give plenty of detail!

Then we were off to meet with Miss M's teacher, a calm, soft-spoken woman.  Mister J made himself at home investigating the classroom and reading some books.  Miss M was checking things out with him for a few minutes, and when she sat down with us to talk to her teacher she kept mumbling her answers.  Shyness struck again!  I'm sure she will show her true, outgoing, spirited self in no time!

This evening, I'm gathering papers and library cards that need to go to school, renewing our PTA membership, and re-linking my VIC card.  Tomorrow, I'll be gathering supplies to pack into backpacks, doing some laundry, and planning to pack lunches for the first time since June!  

Happy New (School) Year!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy New Year!

Nope, it's not January, but it's the beginning of another school year.  If you're like me, you count years not necessarily by calendar year, but by school year.  And a new school year means a new calendar!  

I'm a little behind this year - I just ordered my new momAgenda.  Since it begins in August, I'll have missed almost the entire first month.  *sigh*  But I'm still excited about getting a brand-new planner!

For the past two years, I've used the momAgenda desktop (first in fuschia, then in turquoise).  I debated a bit this year - kelly green faux crocodile or soft gold?  I've always wanted a green one, but the soft gold looked so, so pretty!  Then, at a Girl Scout meeting tonight, a friend of mine had the Home Office edition in charcoal.  Yes, I looked through her momAgenda - and periodically peeked in it when I thought of other features I wanted to check out.  (She was very tolerant!)  

I'd briefly considered the Home Office edition before, but worried that it would be too big.  Then I realized that since my Desktop never fit in my purse anyway, what was the difference?  The spiral binding, the pockets, and the tabs helped me finalize my decision.  It's always nice to see and hold something that personal before you buy it, I think!  

There was just one more important decision - the color!  Hot pink, turquoise, zebra, or charcoal?  Hmmmm...

I chose zebra!  Yep, surprised me, too!  

Ok, so here's where I tell you that if you want your own momAgenda, you can click here and - if you are a first time customer - you get 10% off of your order (of $15 or more) and I also get a little credit in the form of momAgenda dollars (to help me support my momAgenda habit).  

What kind of calendar do you use?  Pen-and-paper?  Electronic?  Do you have one calendar for yourself and one for the family?  How do you keep yourself organized?

PS - You are welcome to take a peek at my momAgenda anytime!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Has it seemed a little quiet around here lately?  There's a good reason for that.  We've been on vacation!  Well, not all of us - Daddy stayed home while the kids, my mom, and I flew to Texas to visit my cousin and his family.  We missed Daddy an awful lot, but he wasn't alone for long!  While we were gone, his parents arrived to help out with a BIG project around here (which they are still working on).  I'll recap the project in a later post, but for now - vacation photos!  (And these are the ones from my mom's camera - thanks, Mom!!!)

Let me start by saying that it was HOT here before we left, and Texas had a break in the heat there just as we arrived - which made the temp the same as what we'd just left.  Thankful for that little break in their weather!  And, thankful for plenty of opportunities to go swimming!

We picked up a set of 'floaties' for Miss M before we left, knowing they would help her feel a bit more at ease in the water.  No worries, there were still plenty of adults keeping an eye on the kiddos!  She was soon swimming from one end of the pool to the other!

And this guy, who has made great strides in his swimming lessons at school, also showed off a new talent.  He's floating on his back!  That's Lily checking him out.  She's a funny dog - loves to catch a ball, but she can't quite make herself drop it back off in your hand or lap.  Instead, she enlists the help of Minnie.  Lily will drop it a few feet away, then Minnie will pick it up and bring it back for you to throw again.

We took a trip to the local Hong Kong Market (So cool!  Lots of interesting fruits and veggies!) to pick up some veggies and these guys for dinner (two crab and one lobster).  Miss M was not quite convinced that these could possibly be tasty.

My cousin's home is totally kid-friendly.  You already know about the pool and the dogs, but there were also plenty of TOYS!  Miss M got to play with the doll house and Polly Pockets that you see below, and also some teeny-tiny Polly Pockets (which the three kids eventually turned into a Polly-meets-Monopoly kind of game).

 And they had a few Legos, too....

We also did some touristy stuff while we were there.

The Beer Can House

My sweet kiddos

My favorite feature of the Beer Can House

 The Children's Museum

Also (no photos yet, but hopefully soon)...
NASA (Johnson Space Center) - it rained while we were there, for the first time in several months.
Kemah Boardwalk - dinner outdoors at The Flying Dutchman, which would not have been quite so nice without the rain earlier in the day to cool things off
Whole Foods - this might seem an odd stop, but it was a new store (and I loooove grocery stores!) so it even had some draw for the "locals."  Also, we got to see an electric car out front - plugged in for a charge!  Mister J was fascinated!

As if all of this wasn't exciting enough, guess who lost a tooth while we were there?  He was quite confident that the tooth fairy could find him all the way out in Texas.  Sure enough, there was a dollar under his pillow the next morning!
Please excuse that piece of gum in his mouth.  Gum has become quite the favorite around here lately.

As for me, I had time for some reading, some swimming, lots of visiting and laughing, lots of talk about food/cooking/the amazing grocery prices (noticeably less than here), and way too much eating!  My mom cooked some of her favorite recipes, we enjoyed my cousin's grilling and juicing (a-ma-zing), and had some fantastic meals out, too.  (Pappasita's is on my must-do list for our next visit!)

I'm sure I've left some things out, and I know I have more cute photos to post (which I may get around to - or not), but I have to say that I came home so relaxed!  We had a pretty much non-schedule kind of vacation (not the kind where you come home and need a vacation to get over your vacation) and it was wonderful!  The kids really missed Daddy early on - and I was really anxious to get home to him towards the end of our trip!  But I have to say, he looked really well-rested when we got home!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What I'm Reading

While we are busy packing fun into the last days of summer, I'm also enjoying a bit of time reading. I started "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" (by Barbara Kingsover) a few days ago and I'm already trying to figure out how much of our backyard can be reasonably turned into garden beds. Not too long ago, I mentioned wanting to try out lettuces, potatoes, garlic, and more. I'm less than 100 pages in, and I'm wondering now about fruit trees, berries, and more.

Is it to late to decide to live on a farm?

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You Can Find Me Here...

Hi Friends! I'm posting over at Triad Moms on Main today. Head on over to learn about our experience with geocaching, and how it's great family fun where ever you are!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sleep Tight?

Oh, how I love to snuggle with my babies (who are not really babies anymore)!  Truly, I do.  But when it comes to having my 5-year-old crawl into bed at 4am - well, I have mixed emotions

I secretly love it - but honestly,  it's not the best sleep for me :(

Miss M is OK (that is, doesn't come to my bed at night) if she and Mister J sleep in the same room.  I am probably making it hard for her to learn to soothe herself back to sleep on her own since, for most of the summer, one of the kids usually camps out on the floor of the other's room.  When I do this, she rarely comes into our room.  Otherwise, she wakes up at 4am and comes into bed with us on a pretty regular basis.

We moved her back to her own room two nights ago, and for the past two nights, she's come into our room in the wee hours of the morning.  I'm certain it has to do with the security of knowing someone else is there in the middle of the night.  Just having her nightlight and stuffies is not enough. 

As I was tucking her in tonight, she asked if she could sleep with me.  I told her that she needed to sleep in her bed, and that if she came to my room I would help her back to bed.  She was immediately weepy.  And I was sad for her - and probably for me, too.

I feel like it is my responsibility to help her grow up, even if I don't want to - whether it's because I secretly love the early morning snuggles or because I just don't want to get out of my bed at 4am.

Believe it or not, I do want my children to grow up.  But there is some innocence that I want to hold on to for as long as possible!


This is hard work!