Thursday, September 27, 2012

Still Gone...

We are still on vacation...

I'll be back Monday :)
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Morning Routine

With the dawn of the new school year has also come some new implementations to "try" to make our days go a little smoother.

One of the parts of our days that needed some tweaking was our morning routine.  We do the same exact thing  And yet I was having to repeat myself every morning.  Brush your teeth! Get dressed!  Make your bed!  

Gotta tell you, it was getting really old, really quick.  So we started using these for their morning routines.  Calvin's has these little pictures since he can't read yet.  And yes, I know, I can't draw anything to save my life.

No pinterest postings here :)

Calvin insists on following this step by step.  Emma has one in her room too and she switches her things up, making sure at the end that she has done everything.

It has saved so much time and has helped us all so much!  One of the things that I know the children didn't like was teethbrushing.  Emma always had to fight with Cal when they brushed their teeth at the same time...he was always picking on her or hiding the toothpaste, or just in general being a brother :)  Now he brushes his teeth the same time every morning so she doesn't have to do it at the same time as him.  That has cut down on the fighting immensely!  Happiness all around :)

I bought these slot kajiggers from the dollar bins at Target.  They've had them the last 3 years around school time so if you want to do this sometime make sure you keep your eye open next July.

Does anyone else have a morning routine posted for their kids?  Does it help your family too?
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lucy Liu

While we are in Disney my parent's are going to watch Lucy.  We will miss her so much!  I can't believe how in love with this dog I have become!  She has such a love for our family and especially for our children.  She is always watching over them and making sure they are where they are supposed to be.  If she doesn't she whines like none other which is so cute!  It's almost like she's tattling!

Anyway, Lucy doesn't eat when we are gone which is horrible on me!  I just feel so bad for her!  Even when she is home, if we are gone she will wait for us to come home before she eats her food.

We are so lucky to have our little Lucy!
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Monday, September 17, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Product Recommendation: Tag Reader

  Cal received a Tag Reader for his birthday.  Nick's amazing cousin Jodee and her family gave it to him.  I was blown away by their thoughtful gift.  I had never thought to get Cal one and it has proven to be just perfect for him.  Cal's tag reader is pictures above.  They come in different colors and I think different themes.  You can check them out here.
 Here are the books we have so far.  Even though it is Cal's, Emma loves to play with it too.  It is so amazing!  Why is it amazing you ask?  Well there are different levels you can set the tag reader at.  It can read the entire page to kids, word by word, or sound out when help is needed.  You can also touch it on a page and get random information on things.  For example Cal has a Cars book and they are racing in China. You can touch on the page and learn all about facts regarding China.  You can touch on the moon and learn about lunar cycles.  It is pretty neat!
 Cal loves to do that Tag reader during quiet time.  Sometimes if he is having a really hard time falling asleep at night we'll let him break it out then too.  Some of the features I like about the actual wand thing-y are that, one you can see it is thicker and therefore good for little hands.  It also has a place where you can plug in earphones.  We do that sometimes at night or it is good for car rides.  It also has a volume control too.  When the kids were little we had some toys that were so stinkin' blaringly loud and there was no way to turn them down...don't you just hate that?  This is not that way my friends.
There are all kinds of books for the tag system: i spy books, puzzle books, beginning reader books, foreign language books, learning books.  In addition to books there are maps, flashcards, and games you can use your tag reader on.  We are planning on getting Cal the world map for Christmas to learn the names of country's and fun facts.

If all of this doesn't sound amazing enough, there is more!  One of the things I am obsessed with is the online function of the tag reader.  You can plug it into your computer and it will tell you everything about your child's progress.  Anything and everything you want to know.  How long it takes them to get through a page, which math troubles are stumping them, what they are really excelling at, how long they use it at a time.  Tons and tons.  It helps me know Cal a little better.

The only thing I don't like about the tag is the battery situation.  We have two types of batteries on our house.  The first kind are the cheapys you buy at the dollar store.  When  you put those in the tag and turn it on the first time it almost immediately tells me it is time to change the batteries.  They must not have a lot of juice in them.  The second kind we have are rechargeable and I HIGHLY recommend these for your reader.  Otherwise, you'll go through a ton of batteries.  Ugh.

So there's my recommendation.  If you are looking for a Christmas gift for a little one, I would highly recommend it.  They even have a tag jr.  which is for smaller people.  We got one for our niece...shhhhh.  Hope you enjoy your Tag Reader.  If you have one, let me know how you like it!

*by the way, I was not paid, coerced or threatened into giving a recommendation :)  Just thought you'd want to know*
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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Art Festival

This weekend there was nothing to do on our agenda!


However, I always seem to make the situation entirely too stressful as I don't want to waste our precious time, but also want to find something totally cool to do. 

So this morning we went and did a tad bit of garage saleing...we found nothing!

And then we went to our city's art festival.  We had so much fun!  We first sought out our neighbor's who have amazing art work and who love our kids...score!

We then made our way to an art area where the kids could participate in a project.  We are pretty siked about it. The city took a picture of an area of the city, graphed it out into a bunch of squares and then you get a 12x12 tile to paint your square on.  They are going to put them all together and make it a permenant art work in the city.  The kids are super excited that their work will always be there to see.  :) 

We had oodles of fun.  There were culinary artists and ice sculptures and music and painters and singers and...

What we really liked though were the potters.  We kind of stumbled upon some potters on our way to find a bathroom.  Emma and I watched them for a while while Nick and Cal were in the bathroom.  Then we switched bathroom teams and it was Emma and my turn.  While we were in there apparently Cal watched for a few moments and then blurted out to the potter "I want to do that!" Nick said she loved his enthusiasm and was more than happy to give him a go.

 Cal getting his apron on...isn't it just adorable how big it is?
 Waiting at the wheel...
 And we're off!
 This is his very small, I am really, really enjoying this smirk. 
 Here's the ariel view of his creation
  And here is his in the front. 

The potter lady let us take it home and it is in our secretary now, drying, drying, drying. 

Unless you have a kiln I could use?  No? 

I was AMAZED by this act.  Cal used to never talk to people!  And here he was telling someone he didn't know what he wanted to do.  UHHH mazing!   Also, Cal is in therapy for sensory issues. He has a very rough touch and has a hard time managing his hands. 

Nick and I were stunned that he could do this!  The lady would tell him to put all of his fingers together and press gently and he would do it! 

We are looking for pottery classes for kids as young as he is but so far haven't found anything.  But we're dragging clay out more and more around the house and he loves doing this. 

So those were our experiences at the art was such a fun day!

**sorry about the horrid quality of these pictures.  Everything is very white washed.  These are cell phone pictures as we forgot the camera.  I very much dislike our phone pics**
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lego Man

 What is it about boys and legos?  They are somehow innately connected in a powerful way.  Cal could play forever with Legos.  And where he wants to go is dependent on the amount of legos available to hime. 

Take speech therapy.  Cal used to hate therapy.  Until Miss Katie brought in legos.  Now he can't wait to go back to see her. 

It's kind of strange really.  :)
 This is Cal.  In his room almost every day.  Every minute of every day.  Notice what is to the right of him?
 Yep, that's right.  It's a lego table!  Isn't it neat?  I scored this puppy at a garage sale for $15.00.   I thought it was a steal.  As you can see Cal uses it to store all of his junk rather than actually building things.  Which means we have to walk all over legos on the floor, all the time looking at this lego table which could so nicely house all of his creations.  But I digress...Moving onto creations:

 This is one of Cal's creations.  Does anyone know what this is supposed to be?  His imagination is so cute to me.  Love, love, love it. 
 And then there is this...this I can see is a horse.  I love how he can make things up and build them. 
 Here's something that is so funny to me!  He loves to build and rebuild little men so here he built a little see-saw for them...isn't that the cutest thing?
Here are the little guys playing with the playground equiptment.  They apparently are very small as Cal told me they can't get their underpants back up when they go potty so I need to "stick around" to help as he put it:)  Love that boy!
So there's our story of legos...taking over our lives!  Just kidding.  We feel so lucky to have found something that Cal loves to do!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wide Open Spaces

What is it about these children that I love so much?

This isn't a particularly good picture.  But I love pictures of them side by side where I can compare their features. 

This past weekend we went to an Arts Festival.  We had such a great time but the thing I loved the most was the weather.  There was a gentle breeze and one of those skys that just reminds you of the awesomeness of God...huge puffy clouds floating through a piercing blue sky.  Love. 

They are just getting so big and so grown up.  I can't believe how much I love these two. 

And believe it or not but I hardly ever have the intention of dressing them alike.  Somehow it just happens that they coordinate.  I dress Emma and Nick dresses Cal and we somehow always come out of their bedrooms with kids who are dressed in coordinating outfits.  It's weird I tell ya...

just weird
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Monday, September 10, 2012

The Nutcracker

This past weekend Emma auditioned to be in the Nutcracker in our city.  While there are several large ballet company's in our area, the Nutcracker is put on by the biggest and most prestigious. 
This audition was something that Emma had no idea she was even doing until that morning and I must tell you, from a mother's stand point it could not have gone worse! 
Earlier in the week I had gone through Emma's things and realized she had 1 pair of ballet tights and no leotards that fit! 
So the night before her audition we had an event to go to but I managed to frantically make it to the store and buy a leotard.  I mean, we were running in and out of the store!  I found one I REALLY liked but bought another one just in case. 
In the morning I went to dress her and couldn't find her tights anywhere!  I was going balistic!  What on earth did I do with them?  I had had them in my hand just days before and then suddenly they were gone!!!
Nick found them in her t-shirt drawer.  While I have no idea whose fault it is, I have a pretty good guess...mine!!!
I went to put her leotard on her and it was huge!!!  Thankfully I had bought the backup and that one fit! 
The final piece of the puzzle were her ballet slippers.  She had worn them last year in her class and they had been huge!  The "stellar" mother I am didn't think to try them on and lo-and behold, they were WAY too small!  I had Nick cut out the elastic band that runs around the piping on the top and luckily they would at least go on her feet...they were so small!!!  I felt terrible for her but assured her she would have them on for just a couple of minutes. 
I threw her hair in a bun and we were off! 
Good thing her audition was close!
When we got there, I could not believe how many girls there were!  There was practically no where to sit and we finally found a place...on the floor!  We had to fill out an application, include a cover shot of her, and even paid just to have her audition.  It all seemed kind of over the top to us po-dunk people.  I was so nervous; Emma didn't really seem to care.  I was nervous though, because, what do you say to a little girl who doesn't get a part?  I just didn't want to see her upset.

 After waiting for what seemed like forever they FINALLY called her in with the rest of the litte girls her age.  They were horribly behind schedule.  We waited and finally some girls started to trickle downstairs.  But no Emma.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  Still no Emma.  So Nick went upstairs to look for her.  And he caught her in the audition.  Isn't she just adorable! 
 Here she is again.  Looking back I figured that the girls who came down first survived the first round of auditions, were made mice and then sent downstairs.  Emma was undergoing a second round of proud of that girl!
 FINALLY she came downstairs with her little envelope.  I don't think she had any idea what the envelope meant.  Don't you just love the staircase?  This is where I took ballet too and I loved it.  The building is an old, old school and it is just perfect for a ballet studio.  I think there are four floors of nothing but ballet rooms. 
Don't you love her little bun and her little leg warmers?  She is just so adorable! 

When she finally came to me with the envelope, we opened it up and found out she had been accepted as a lamb!  We are so proud of her.  And if I am thinking right, she will be on stage with the shepherdess and will do a little routine with her...does anyone else know? 

We are so excited for her!  We have to sign an official contract and send it in this week.  The girl will end up practicing two hours a week...that's a lot for a 6 year old! 

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cube Console

Nick made the workboxes which I talked about here.  And since he is amazing he started taking orders on what else I needed.  One of the things I really wanted was a central place for all of the supplies. 
Last year the kids had their own sets of supplies in their desks.  It went well part of the time and the rest of the time I listened to this:
I can't find my orange colored pencil. 
Cal borrowed my blue crayon and won't give it back. 
I can't find my pencil sharpener...
Ugh, it got old.  There had to be another way!   I also had these cute bins with no where to really keep them and binders and things that just had no home. 
 So Nick came up with this!  Isn't it just darling!!!  We homeschool on the third floor and the windows are pretty close to the floor.  I believe this console kajigger is only 13 inches high but I love that it fits so snuggly underneath the window.  I also like that there is now a buffer between the children and the window.  While the kids are very well behaved and we've never had any scares or anything, there's still something that just freaks me out about kids around a window 3 stories up. 

Anyway, the cube shaped bins hold papers and flashcards.  The binders on the left hold all of the kids' school work that they have completed.  The magazine holders hold...tada!!!  Magazines!  Shocking, I know!  But it helps me to keep track of all of the curriculum catalogs, "mailbox" classroom magazines, and the like. 
 Here's our pencil holder and a smattering of what nots in the other side.  These were at Hobby Lobby last year.  I fell in love with the colors and prints in the pattern.  I think they are actually gardening things and not for the office.  The above is a set of pots with a handle in between.  But it works.  And I love it.
 Our globe which was mine when I was a girl.  Did you know that one year I actually asked for a globe for Christmas?  What kind of nerd asks for a globe?  It was something that just didn't have a home in our classroom.  I stole this firetruck from Cal's room and it now is our glue stick holder.  Love vintage wood toys like this truck!
 Is there anything better than school supplies?  Just looking at all of the colors and options makes me smile.  How fun!  In the picture above you can see that this is a strawberry that I thought of this idea.  We had a strawberry box that we just never used and I love using it in this way. 
And finally had to include this.  Last year to make the time go by faster Cal would randomly glue things together.  Or tape them.  He would  have stapled them if I had let him, I'm sure.  This was one of the things that he made.  Isn't it cute, a little snowflake?  It actually looks like a snowflake!  Proud of that kid. 

So there's a little tour of what Nick made for me.  It's just perfect, he's perfect, and life is perfect.  So blessed!
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Sleep Deprived and Loving It

Yesterday was our second day of homeschool.  Already I am exhausted.  We schooled at Panera, picked up Cal, had a quick lunch, continued on with school, and then had some quiet time, which consisted of laundry and cooking and cleaning.  After quiet time was over we headed out to walk the dog, then came back home to get some more cleaning done and make dinner.  After dinner we took the kids to the nearby riverwalk to ride their bikes, and then it was home to put kiddos to bed.  Usually I am kind of happy after putting the kids to bed because that is when alone time with Nick starts. 

N to the No last night.  Last night I tucked the kids in feeling like I was just getting started.  As I had to get things put into workboxes for today, pack up our school bag to do school at therapy, rearrange the books on our new bookshelf (totally not necessary I was just trying to be psycho apparently), pay bills, clean the kitchen from dinner, and on and on and on....

I feel like I am buring my candle at both ends.  There's just no way that I can wake up at 4:00 in the morning and try to go to bed at midnight.  I don't think it's going to work. 

On top of that my adorable annoying husband loves to snore, so when I do go to bed about 50% of the time I cannot sleep at all.  Every morning after a night of no sleep because of his ridiculousness I am fed the same lie..."I'll go to the doctor and get some help."  But it has not happened.  Ugh. 

For the past four years I was up MULTIPLE times with Cal as he couldn't sleep.  We started him on medication that helped his sleep in June. 

In July Nick started to snore. 

Ah, pure bliss that month of sleep I got (read my dry horrid sarcasm here). 

So slowly but surely these guys in my life are trying to kill me.  Some type of old chinese torture technique I suppose.  Or nazi. 

That's what I get for marrying a man of German descent. Oh great. 

Cause of death? 

Lack of sleep.  Hahaha.  They'll dance on my grave.   It will be some type of Oktoberfest celebration, I'm sure. 

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes.  So two days into school and I am already exhausted.  My solutions have been to hire a cleaning lady.  Or to run away from home.  Maybe both.  Irony always gets the last word my friends. 

Sorry, this makes no sense.  I am tired.  And I think my shoes are tied too tight.  My brain is sending all of my blood to my feet in an effort for them to not be cauterized or something.  If I knew how to do spell check on this new computer I would spell check cauterize.  But I don't.  And my blood is in my feet. 

So now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go teach my children.  I'm sure you're glad that I am in charge of their education right about now, right? 

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Preschool & Panera

Cal goes to preschool 3 days a week now.  I am so excited for him.  He gets so happy when he knows he gets to go see his buddy, Adason and his teachers. 
I love having him go to preschool.  It is a nice break for me to concentrate on Emma and her school work.  Next year I will be teaching them both so I am considering these years as homeschool buffers, easing me into schooling with one child at a time. 
The only problem that arises from Cal's preschool is the time that is lost in driving.  It takes 20 minutes to get to and from the school so that is 40 minutes lost in driving round trip that we could be spending in school. 
While it may not seem like a lot, we already are going later in the day than last year, and I just don't want to have to tack on an additional 40 minutes onto the end of the school day if I don't have to. 
The solution?
On the south side of our city there is a shopping plaza with a couple different cafes and restaurants.  So I am pretty sure that we are going to be doing school there!  Last year we did this a few time but not consistetly! 
The best thing though is that Nick has time off each week.  So according to my nerdy calculations, the most times I will ever have to take Cal to preschool and do school with Emma is two.  Only two times!  And sometimes it is only one!  So I can totally do this!!!  Right?  Right!  Excuse me as I give myself a pep talk right in front of you! 
Anyway, so my plan is that we will break it up between Starbucks and where we went today...Panera!  I love Panera!  I've been going low carb lately so it was killer not ordering one of their ginormous bagels schmeared with cream cheese.  But I was good.  I got a coffee.  And a lemonade for my daughter.  At 9:00 in the morning :)  
 Here is what Emma worked on...
 Here is what I worked on...
I worked on this too... Hazelnut coffee with cinnamon, a splenda, and skim milk...yummy!

So that is how we are making homeschool work!  I am so blessed by Emma and  her ability and willingness to do school wherever.  I'm not so sure that this will work next year with two of them, but we will see.  And if it doesn't, it's nice to know that I won't have to. 

What other places do you "home"school?  Do you Panera-school too?  :)
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Well We Survived

Yesterday was our first day back to school. 

We muddled through.

Emma is six but we have her a grade ahead so she started second grade!  Ah second grade...the good old days where you got to learn cursive, multiplying, and all the other fun stuff. 

Cal is four and started his last year of preschool before becoming a kindergartener...or first grader like his sister (pronounced SEE-ster here) did.  He passed the Kindergarten entrance exam at the age of two...does that make you entitled to skip a grade?  We shall see I guess. 

The children had to be woken up earlier than usual.  Not that we let them sleep in any glutonous amount of time, but they do usually sleep in until about 8.  The 7 am wake up time was not welcomed.  I remind them that the bus would pick them up at 7:23 A.M. if we went to public school.  Down the street.  In the dark.  So we'd have to be awake a lot earlier if we did that. 

We had baked oatmeal with blueberries.  I used this recipe which I loved however the remaining 75% of my family complained about the bananas.  Next time I think I'll try it without those.  :/  Weird banana hating people. 

Anyway, we all took Cal to school together as a family and then when we got home Emma and I hightailed it up to the classroom for school.  We had such a great time! 

This year we are having to go longer in our day to get everything done.  Last year we could be done before lunch.  This year we are going to have to go back up for a couple of subjects after we eat.  It's not bad at all, just differet and takes some getting used to. 

The only thing that Cal had to say about his day was how apparently disgruntled he was after "some boy I don't know" cut in line.  Boys...they don't have much of a knack for details, do they? 

So that's a little about our first day back to school.  Hope everyone else had a great first day back too!  Are you all starting back to school now or have you been back for some time?
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vote Now: Outfit Combo

So I need your opinion pleae!  Not that I am winning any awards for fashion or anything but I always like to think I can at least manage to dress myself in a way that will not invoke laughing.  Snickering and the like. 

But here I am with a fashion question.  In the Spring Nick and I are going to get our pictures taken.  Our 10 year anniversary is coming up so we want to do something really special.  For those of you who don't know, we don't really have wedding pictures.  Or any nice pictures of just the two of us.  So we are going to have a photo shoot with just us and then some family ones, and then some of just the kiddos.  I am so, so super excited.

So excited in fact that despite it being 6 months away, I am already planning away.  Mainly because we are going to get our pictures taken by this amazing vintage photographer, Annie.  She's good friends with a good friend of mine and I just couldn't be more thrilled.  You can see her work here.  See, what I mean?  Amazing! 

So anyway, I am looking for a vintagey dress that I will just love.  I've found this one I am thinking of buying:
What do you think?  It's called the "North Shore" dress and is from Shabby Apple.  Love their site and if you haven't heard of the site, don't say I didn't warn you...their site is addicting!  I could spend hours on it imagining the soirees I would have with all of these dresses.  Anyway, the dress... which I figure is appropriate seeing as I'm Hawaiian and all :).  So this is the dress I am planning on cutting off arms and legs to buy. 

And here comes my fashion question.  Drum roll please...

I know, the suspense is just killing you, right? 

My question is, can I wear that dress with these shoes? 

Source: via Lindsay on Pinterest

I already own these shoes, so if I didn't have to go out and buy new shoes too, that would be swell.  And in case you haven't noticed...I kind of have this thing for pink.  I like to incorporate pink into my outfit at least somewhere.  And I know, I know...they kind of look like stripper shoes.  But I bought them at Kohls, not poledancing r-us or something. And if you think mine are glam, my sister has the pair that is norhing but the glitter on the heel.  Oh, lalala :)

I think they would be cute but maybe I am wrong.  And if I am wrong, I would love for you to advise me on what kind of shoes I should buy.  The polls are now open to vote and share your opinions! :)
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Monday, September 3, 2012

A Peek inside Emma's Room

Don't you just love little girl's rooms?  I know I do.  They always seem to be kind of magical.  There are so many things to see and do that it is always fun for me to just linger and check everything out. 
Now that Emma is getting older (how and when did this girl get to be 6?  I have no recollection of this!!!) I love going in and just seeing how she's rearranged stuff.  She's gaining her own sense of organization and of doing things.  So here's a little peek at her room: 
Emma and Calvin playing with Calico Critters.  Do your little ones play with these guys?  We love them so much but geez a lou are they pricey.  Salty.  Minty.  Moving on. 
Love that the Calico Critter house has lights that turn on!
This is the Calico Critter's kitchen
And their living room...
And dressing room and bedroom.  Oh, la, la.
I love seeing a highchair ready to feed a baby a cupcake and neon worm.  Yum, yum.  And who doesn't love feather boas in the background? 
Emma's nightstand is always a smattering of hodgepodge fun.  Today we see Ariel's shoes and a pencil...too cute!
She also keeps her baseball trophy on her nightstand.  Our girlie is super proud of this and we are super proud of her. :)
Here's a shot of her vanity...stick on earrings tucked behind a bottle. 
Here I am taking a picture...hi!  Love how she's hung a necklace :)
If you ever wonder if Emma has enough shoes the answer is a rosounding ...YES!  We have so many shoes!  I am somewhat of a shoe fanatic! 
Here's her toybox...someone needs to clean!  Good thing it's a three day weekend!
I love making bows which means Emma has WAY too many bows.  Well, according to my husband she has too many bows.  According to me, she doesn't have enough!  Here are just a few of her corker bows and the such.  There are many, many more!
Emma's fishing trophy and a picture of her <3 p="p">
Love this Norman Rockwell looks just like my Emma (you can click to enlarge)
And finally we have her picture/paper/whatever holder that her cousins gave her.  We stick odds and ends in there that we like to see...thank  you notes, chuck e. cheese photos, sport shots, first trips to the dentist papers and the like. 

So there's a little taste of our home.  Hope you got your girl fix if you're an all boy family!  She has so much more stuff (dress up clothes anyone?) but that's all we have time for today...we have to go clean out a toy box now :).

Happy Labor Day!
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