Still Catching Up...

I wish I could devote more time to blogging these days, but the best I can do is to post when I can.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why I Love Black Friday

Black Friday is one of my favorite days of the year. The thrill of the victory, the agony of defeat. It is a bit of a gamble, but with proper preparation and planning there are many victories to be had. This year we had a few gifts to get, but our main focus was getting a vacuum cleaner.

So, with our #1 item in mind, we planned our morning around the Target 4am opening. And with an effective divide & conquer technique the Eagle got the vacuum cleaner while I got the handful of other items. Combining the awesome sale price with additional 10% and 5% discounts we made out like bandits! And we were out the door so quickly thanks to Target Kingston's wonderful line management. I wish I could say the same about the Walmart lines. Actually, I shouldn't complain too much about Walmart's line because if I hadn't stood there forever I wouldn't have found the $25 pink Leapster2 that someone left at the checkout (they were long gone from the toy aisles when I got there).

I love my new vacuum. Since I have so much extra time (OK not really, but I was curious), I vacuumed the family room with our old vacuum. Then I went back over the "already clean" floor with our new vacuum. What an amazing difference!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Catching Up

I know, not a lot of posts lately. Don't worry, there is plenty going on! I will be working to catch up on my posts and get started on my holiday posts. Meanwhile, you can read old posts to see what we did for the past 3 Christmases, here are some of my favorites:

The Gated Christmas Tree

My 2008 Christmas Card Goals - and no, you haven't been removed from my list. I have not successfully sent out cards for 5 years. One of these days...

"I Spy the Ornaments" Game


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Day - Freezing & Frying

It was a chilly Thanksgiving morning but not chilly enough to keep the runners home. Conveniently, this year was the inaugural running of the Thanksgiving Day Pilgrim 5K which started within walking distance of my father-in-law's house. The Tumbleweed ran alongside the Eagle & her two grandfathers and finished just ahead of them in 36:39. And she was super excited to get a medal at the finish line!

Once the runners were back, everyone got to work preparing Thanksgiving dinner. The kitchen was bustling, but not because someone was cooking a turkey. This year we had two deep fried turkeys. They were very good!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No more ponytails

These days I rarely get to the hair salon, so my hair had gotten pretty long. After taking a few preliminary measurements at home, I decided to get it cut short and donate the hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

While the kids went with the Eagle for the afternoon, I headed to the salon for a haircut. Being a particularly slow Sunday, it was just me and the stylist in the salon. She divided the hair into two ponytails (since it had some layering) and cut off two ponytails 10-10.5" long.

My hair is now shorter than it has ever been. I am adjusting. And waiting for it to grow back.

Santa Time!

Yes, we have become the family that plans a trip to see Santa before Thanksgiving. Actually, it ha varied from year to year, but now that the Tumbleweed is in school all day I can't go on a not-so-busy weekday morning anymore. And since we are all impatient, I figured earlier in the season before all the crowds were out would be better.

After writing lists, the kids and I were off to the mall. Our first stop was Macy's, to put our letters to Santa into the big red mailbox. The Macy's Believe Campaign will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish for each letter. And, the kids loved the "Santa Mail" mailbox and even suggested waiting for the elf to come get the mail.

Once we mailed our letters, we went to get in line for Santa. It was 15 minutes before Santa was to arrive and we were about 6th or 7th in line. Despite a good position in line, we did happen to be behind several families with crying toddlers so it took longer than I thought it would. Once we were there, the kids were awesome and for once, I didn't have to "make" anyone sit with Santa. I love this little moment that I captured between the Dandelion and Santa during this dialog:

Santa: "What would you like for Christmas?"
Dandelion: "A Pillow Pet"
Santa: "I see. A Pillow Pet"
Dandelion: "Yeah, a brown dog Pillow Pet"

On their Santa lists this year:

Dandelion: a Brown Dog Pillow Pet, a race car, a race car hat
Tumbleweed: a unicorn Pillow Pet, a Zooble treehouse, a Skwinke *

*Update: A few days after our visit with Santa, the Tumbleweed decided that she wanted to ask for an American Girl doll and wrote a revised letter Santa. She "really hopes he gets in time for the elves to make one!"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Preschool Harvest Dinner

The Dandelion's school held their first Harvest Dinner for the students and their families this week. While I am glad we went, it was a bit difficult. They had not really planned for the number of people who came, so it was beyond crowded. Thankfully we got their early (we had to wait around for nearly an hour after the Tumbleweed's gymnastics practice), because otherwise I don't think I would have even gone in!

They had lots of wonderful food, however the Dandelion was in a particularly picky mood and didn't want to eat anything except the desserts. And speaking of desserts, there were several desserts that did not follow the no peanut rules, and several that I couldn't tell. Once again, I pointed it out to the director who helped me by looking up some of the food ingredients online. We sat on the floor in a corner and tried to get the kids to eat, but it was a lost cause.

Finally the food was cleaned up and it was time for songs. The Dandelion didn't fully participate (it was 7:15 and nearly bedtime at this point) but he did sing a few of the songs.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pee Wee Basketball

When the letter about the town basketball sign-ups came home in her backpack, the Tumbleweed didn't even hesitate. "I can play, right?" she said. So after some discussion, we decided to give up the Saturday mornings that we got back at the end of soccer season and signed her up to play basketball.

After her first practice, she didn't want to leave! She came right home and got out her basketball and went to work on her dribbling. For nearly three hours! Needless to say, she was much better by lunchtime :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bus Book

I have just finished reading "The Read-Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease. It is an awesome book full of book recommendations to read to kids of all ages but, more importantly, it is a guide to teaching your children a love of reading.

As I have been reading, we have tried some of the advice and have had good success. The first thing I tried was reading stories at dinner. The kids loved hearing stories during while they ate! It had an interesting effect too --- the Dandelion ate his food without arguing. Wow. The reading did make it a little more difficult for me to eat (I was reading) and the Tumbleweed was so into the books she had to be reminded to eat her food a couple times, but any time the Dandelion eats his dinner is worth noting. After four stories they were mostly done with their food, but ran off to find more books for me to read and sat back down at the table. Wow. So now I have put together a book basket for the kitchen (and one for the bathroom) and the kids are enjoying the choosing our "dinner books".

A little further into the book the author talks about the importance of Sustained Silent Reading (reading to yourself) and the importance of not substituting it for bedtime stories with kids who can read. This was something that has started to happen in our house. The Tumbleweed is now able to read and, to save some time, I had been letting her "read for a half hour" instead of me reading to her or with her. So now we have gone back to more adult-read stories for her at bedtime and found a new time for her to read to herself --- while she waits for the bus. She has a "Bus Book" that is sitting by the stairs that she can read while she waits and she has gotten ready rather quickly each morning so she will have time to read. Wow.

Up next: we are hosting a Book Club Playgroup with our school-age MOMS Club friends. The kids will each be recommending their favorite book and, hopefully, inspiring their friends to try some new books! If you'd like to recommend a book for kids of any age, leave it in the comment section and I will include it on our Must Read Book List. I highly recommend The Read-Aloud Handbook for parents & educators this Christmas!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Daisy Scouts

The Tumbleweed was super excited her first Daisy Girl Scout meeting. We went to the local Girl Scout shop the day before to pick out her uniform. She looked at all of the patches in amazement. "I want to earn that one, and that one, and that one..." she said pointing to different designs. I explained to her that she would have plenty of opportunities to earn patches, but that we couldn't just buy them.

When the meeting finally rolled around, she was so excited to go! I am pretty sure she thought they were going to be selling cookies (because that is the only time we have encountered girl scouts before). Once she was there and saw all of the crafts, she made herself at home. She was also excited to see some familiar faces in the group.

Since the meeting she has been diligently working on memorizing the Girl Scout oath - the first step to earning her first patch ;)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick-or-Treat Math

Halloween was interesting this year because it was on a weekend, but still on a school night. It was nice to have all day to rest-up (both kids napped!!!). My parents were in town and helped put together an early dinner, get layers and costumes on and take the important Halloween photos.

Mulan & Buzz Lightyear went trick-or-treating around our neighborhood with Professor McGonnagall and Sheriff Woody. It was quite chilly but they covered a good distance, including some houses of kids that the Tumbleweed knows from the bus.

The conclusion of trick or treating meant it was time for a little math lesson and the opening of my "Halloween Store". I had carefully chosen several items for each child to "buy" and priced them with post it notes while they were napping. The Dandelion retired first and helped me sort his candy by color and count pieces. Afterward he traded it in for some stickers, pencils and a coloring set. The Tumbleweed went back out after warming up a bit and returned with even more candy. When she returned we created a bar graph of types of candy and practiced handwriting by listing the types of candy and how many there were. Then her candy was assigned 10¢ (miniatures/gum) and 25¢ (fun size) values so could use them to buy items that I had 'priced' accordingly. She did better at calculating her totals than I expected and was thrilled to buy a new Rainbow Fairy book, Bella Sara cards and a smelly eraser.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mummy Dance

The Tumbleweed is dancing at a new dance school this year after we struggled to find a studio with a class that fit in our schedule. Her new class is a Jazz & Hip Hop class and she loves it. It is a bit of a challenging time, mid afternoon on Saturday, so the Tumbleweed has had to make some tough choices about whether to go to a friend's birthday party or dance class.

They are already preparing for their January recital and are working hard to remember their steps. The teacher showed us a picture of the costume and it is super cute! They do a lot of serious work in this class, but they took a bit of a break this week to play some fun Halloween games.

Wrapped up like a Mummy

The Tumbleweed and her classmate make silly faces in the mirror during "Freeze Dance"

No Rainouts!

The fall 2010 soccer season was memorable, not only because it was the Dandelion's first season playing on a team and that the Eagle coached two teams, but also because we did not have to reschedule any games. I have to say, weather cancellations are the things I hate the most about soccer. I hate watching the radar and trying to decide if we can get practice in, I hate trying to contact parents at the last minute to let them know the plan and I hate when the weather changes and makes our decision look like a stupid one. But aside from a few drizzly practices, we had a pretty good season weather-wise.

The kids also had fun with lots of their friends playing on their teams this season. The Dandelion seemed to enjoy himself most of the time and did a good job of taking the ball down field if he got it. He got better at all aspects of the game and was able to score goals in quite a few games. I think he will be disappointed when he finds out there is no soccer this Saturday.

This was the Tumbleweed's 5th season of soccer and she is quite comfortable on the field. She had lots of friends on her team this year and she looked forward to seeing them twice a week. I think her biggest gains this season were on defense and at goalie, but she still loves playing offense (and scoring goals) the best.

We shall see what the spring brings, but I know I am most looking forward to the fact that the temperature increases through out the spring season. I much prefer watching in warm weather!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween at School

This year we didn't really have much planned in the week leading up to Halloween. Okay, that isn't totally true. We had a ton of plans, just not ones that required costumes and celebrated Halloween. The kids dressed up only twice, once for their school and once on Halloween.

The Dandelion's class party was Thursday. I had been careful not to pull out the Buzz Lightyear costume too early so the white didn't get ruined, but waiting created a bit of a situation as the Dandelion decided he wanted to be a pirate like last year instead. Finally, after seeing all of the kids in costume at school and wanting to be in the parade, he pulled on his costume and walked around saying "to infinity... and gymnastics!"

Despite my careful list-making and the school passing out a list of "safe" (nut-free) party options to the parents, someone still brought bakery cupcakes (with a "processed on" warning) to the party and the teachers put them out. Fortunately, the Dandelion was much more interested in the Halloween Oreos that I had brought and didn't even ask for a cupcake.

The Tumbleweed participated in the elementary school Halloween parade on Friday afternoon. It was quite different sending her off to school with her costume and hoping that she would be able to put it on herself. We arrived at the school forty-five minutes early to find complete chaos and huge crowds. (For future reference, go much earlier if you want to park close enough to let your sleeping child stay in the car.) It was fun to see her parading with her class, as well has her friends with their classes, but it was a heck of an operation to see her for about a minute.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Swimming with Goggles

Over the summer I realized that once school/soccer/gymnastics started in September, it was going to be difficult to get the Tumbleweed to a swimming lesson. I squeezed her into a lesson during August (Ray level), but I couldn't find a class for the Dandelion at the same time (Pike level). I promised him that we would do a lesson in the fall while she was at school.

With new goggles, he happily joined his class in September. He is such a different swimmer than the Tumbleweed was at the same age. She used to scream every time they did something she didn't like to do, which seemed to be just about everything at one point. He also doesn't like to swim on his back or jump off the starting blocks, but he doesn't scream about it. Miss Bethany gave him a good report at the end of the session and said he might even be ready to move up after one more session. He is already down to two bubbles and loves trying to jump off the side "really far".

Monday, October 18, 2010


With school in full swing and everyone starting to settle into routines, we had started noticing that we were so busy some days that the house needed some more attention. Initially, I thought this just required a new schedule for myself to get the housework done but after trying a couple of weeks of that, it was clear that the kids were playing a significant role in making messes and hardly contributing to the cleaning up.

So after some discussion we decided to hold a family meeting to discuss what it takes to be a family and what our expectations were. The Eagle & I had decided that there were four daily jobs that each of us was to do, and we explained them to the kids.

1- Make bed
2- Clean room
3- Clear dishes from the table after meals
4- Pick up toys/projects when done or before bed

Then we talked about the additional jobs that the kids would have each week. We came up with a list of four jobs for each of them, and had them choose three for the week. These jobs were not necessarily daily jobs, but they could be if the kids are super messy or they could just we once a week if the kids do their best to keep the house clean.

I made a chore chart so we would all know which jobs they were responsible for.

So far, the kids have been okay about doing their jobs. They have been reminded about their daily chores a bit, but hopefully they will become habit soon. There is some concern on the Tumbleweed's part about cleaning up her things before she goes to bed because she "wants to finish them in the morning", so we are working on terms that allow things to be left out on occasion. I am leaning towards giving them each a couple of "leave it out" passes for the month and they have to use them wisely, but the Eagle & I will decide before this Saturday's family meeting (yes, for now we are going to attempt to do the meetings every week during lunch on Saturdays).

There have only been a few times that we have asked them to do their "chosen" chores so far, and overall it seems that they understand what is expected but aren't too thrilled that they are being interrupted from whatever they are doing. Once again, I think they will get used to it if we are consistent. Being consistent is my toughest household job.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Have you voted today?

Okay, so when I first saw the contest I must admit, I did not imagine how much it would take on a life of it's own. And, even though I should have, how invested in winning the Tumbleweed would become.

I entered her in a contest where the winner gets to be illustrated into a future Fancy Nancy book. She helped brainstorm ideas of who would be a good friend for Nancy, and it was decided that she would be the one to introduce Fancy Nancy to sports. Sure she's fancy & dainty, but that doesn't mean she can't be an athlete, right?

We carefully selected an ensemble and had a fancy photo shoot after school while the Dandelion napped. She really got into character, and I wouldn't be surprised if she decides to write her own fancy stories with her character in it. I do love seeing her imagination run wild!

So, now she has me asking everyone I know to vote for her entry because she really wants to be in a book. Madness!?! Yes, but it is encouraging reading and exercise. You can vote here once a day.

I suppose it is slightly less time consuming than trying to win tickets to a concert on the radio, which I recall spending entire days waiting to hear the "Song of the Day" so I could call in. I never won anything, but it wasn't for a lack of trying.

Riding the Bus

Guess who got to ride a school bus for the first time? The Dandelion! He was very excited to go on a class field trip that involved riding a bus. I think he was also a little happy to not be dropped off at school without me, which he is still giving me a hard time about!

The class was headed to pick apples, which they were lucky to do because apple season has ended early this year and most places don't have any left to pick! But the orchard had saved apples for field trips and there were plenty of apples, even a lot of low ones, for the kids to pick.

He was very well behaved on the trip and enjoyed eating his apples (he had eaten at least half or more of three by the time we got back to school).

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Safe" Halloween Candy

The last post got me thinking... what candy can the Dandelion have? Obviously, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers bars are out. We also know that all M & Ms are not safe either. But it made me want to check out some of the more obscure candies that seem to only enter our world at Halloween.

I did a little searching and I found another blogger who has done a lot of label-reading and put together this list of Peanut-Free Candy. **Always recheck product labels before serving!!!**

Additionally, I have read that Sixlets were a good substitute for M&Ms, but for what ever reason they were not on the other list. **Always recheck product labels before serving!!!**

So if you are attending a Halloween party or handing out candy at your house this Halloween, perhaps you can pick one of the candies from these lists? The peanut-allergic kids will thank you :)

Melted Wax

Note to Self: Don't put crayons or candles in the attic for seasonal storage.

Today I pulled out the Halloween boxes and started sorting through the goodies. We have the usual cobwebs, black cats and bats, and of course some cute ornaments from my days working at Hallmark. I have "spooky" CDs, pumpkin stickers and coloring books that I pull out for just a couple weeks every year. And I even have special plates, place mats & cups from the clearance section a few years ago.

Yes, I love hitting the seasonal section on the day after a holiday. It is then that I stock up on things for the following year. From non-perishable things to hand out to trick-or-treaters or seasonal toys & games, I always stash some stuff away. Last year I picked up mini packs of crayons... well, apparently sometime this summer it was hot enough to melt wax in our attic. Oh well. I was comforted that they had a clearance sticker indicating that I had only spent $1.

The main reason I usually put things away is for my "Halloween Store". Since the Tumbleweed was 2 1/2 I have been offering trade-in deals for her candy (not all of it, but most of it). At 2 she really couldn't eat most of it (gum, caramel, fire balls, etc), so I gave her a choice, 10 pieces of candy would buy her a small toy or a sheet of stickers. Once we come in from trick-or-treating, we sort and count candy (*lots of great math lessons if you have time) and she decides which candy she likes best and wants to keep, and what she would like to use "at the store". After the success the first year I have always made sure to hit the clearance section to "restock" the store for the following year. I have also updated my "pricing" to go along with the increased value of some of the coveted toys and the increased amount of candy as she goes to more houses each year (the goal is still to get her to trade most of it in).

The Dandelion got to participate last year, but I actually think he will enjoy it more than the Tumbleweed this year. She is getting older and "wiser". She knows she likes candy, that's for sure. It might be harder to get her to trade it in for toys or books. The Dandelion, on the other hand, is going to have to trade in a lot of his candy, since he can't have anything made with or processed near peanuts or tree nuts.

The added bonus, since my kids are little and finish pretty early, I use their trade in candy to hand out to the older kids in the neighborhood who come by later. Okay, I still keep some of my favorites around, but much of the excess is generously given away for the neighbors to deal with.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Adventures in Cooking: Awesome Find!

This morning while the kids were both at school, I met up with some other moms whose kids are in school at Barnes & Noble for food & conversation. Since I was first to arrive I looked for a few magazines to flip through. Since I already had the current issues of the scrapbooking magazines, I looked for a couple other choices and hit the jackpot in the "kids" section.

Yum Food & Fun for Kids caught my eye and did not disappoint. I haven't tried a recipe yet, but they all look fabulous. I think the first one we will make, in honor of the Eagle's return from a business trip, will be from the Worldly Palates article.

There are so many "quick & easy" and "kids in the kitchen" and "picky eater friendly" recipes I can't wait to cook! (And that is saying a lot!)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fire Prevention Week

When I was a child, "participating in" fire prevention week meant spending an evening repeatedly climbing out of my sister's bedroom window waiting for the local fire department to drive by our house. They never did come past our house during our fire drills.

These days, the fire department has an open house and invites all of the school children to come. It was quite the social scene. I got to meet several kids from the Tumbleweed's class and bus, and we saw lots of friends too. The Tumbleweed's class (along with all of the first grade classes) wrote letters to the firemen and they were up on the wall at the firehouse.

The Tumbleweed's letter says:

"Dear Fire Fighter,
Thank you! How do you get your fire gear on? Are you always on the same truck? What is your favorite food? Do you save cats? Thank you for doing a grat job!"

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Everybody Loves a Parade

Being a member of the MOMS Club has all kinds of privileges, from group discounts on field trips to people to cook meals when you have a baby. What other group would enter a bunch of kids, 5 & under, in a parade? The kids think being a parade is the coolest thing, so this weekend we met up with our friends (my mom friends and their kid friends) for a 2 mile walk/scoot/bike through Grafton.

Of course the parade was not without its challenges --- chilly weather, a delayed start, horse poop in the road, the fire truck behind us sounding its horns, a big downhill coming out of town and tired kids. But we made it - and the kids loved it. They are both counting the days until they can be in another one.

PS - Thanks to my friend Amy for the picture of me & the kids. I have several parade pics, but none with me in them ;)

The Sound of Science?

I think the Dandelion just created his very first science experiment!

Dandelion: "Mommy, Look! When I clap with my glubs [gloves] on it is quiet"
Me: "Oooh, I like quiet clapping!"
Dandelion: "Want to hear me play the piano with glubs on?"
Me: "Do you think it will be quiet too?"
Dandelion: "Uh-huh" and runs off to the piano...
Me (listening to piano): "Well, was it quieter?"
Dandelion: "No, I can still play really LOUD!"

His Hypothesis: If clapping is quieter with gloves on, then piano playing will be quieter with gloves on.

The Conclusion: Piano playing with gloves does not sound different.

Okay, childhood is really a string of trial and error experiments, but I still like his mature thought process on this one!

Friday, October 1, 2010

SMART Boards & Spelling Tests

First Grade, Month 1

The first month of school has gone pretty smoothly. The Tumbleweed has made a huge adjustment, from Montessori half day to Public School full day, and has done it relatively well. Sure, we have had some rocky days, mornings where she wants to stay home "to do fun stuff" and afternoons where she doesn't "ever want to do homework again!" And, like most kids, she has tested the teacher's discipline system just to be sure what the boundaries are (nothing big, she just continued to color after everyone had put their papers away). Despite the bumps, she seems to have made some new friends, accepted the fact that words generally need to be written in lowercase letters, and done well on her first spelling & math tests. Her reading comprehension has improved as well. However she is still working on her spacing between words in a sentence and on taking her time when writing (she rushes and leaves out letters or words sometimes).

We all attended her Back-to-School Night and got to see her classroom, met her teacher and toured the art room, music room & gym. Classrooms have changed a bit since we were kids. Her classroom doesn't have a chalkboard. It doesn't have a dry erase board either. They have a SMART Board. I guess no one has the job to clean the erasers any more!

Unfortunately, on Back-to-School Night we found out that they had replaced science & social studies in the schedule with extra reading practice. This is very disappointing, but I have a couple well connected friends who are helping with the big push to bring it back.

In the meantime, we have been doing science at home with the help of the Messy Fingers blog. After doing our first series about magnets, the Tumbleweed decided she wanted to do a magnet experiment for show and tell. We talked it through and she practiced what she would do in class. She took a magnet, a nickel and a Franc to school and had her class guess whether the magnet would pick up the nickel or the franc. When she got home she was pleased to report that she had gotten to show her class the experiment, and she had indeed tricked them. So, at her own request, she managed to get science into the school day where the district apparently cannot. Hopefully that will change soon!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First Class Field Trip & Other Preschool News

Today was the Dandelion's first school field trip. They took a tour of the grocery store down the street. In order to make the groups manageable, the kids were split into four groups so only a portion of he Dandelion's classmates went with us today. Since they were mostly the youngest kids, it was a bit of a challenge keeping them from running off when they weren't strapped into carts!

The tour started with the floral department, where they took them into the back room and through the produce refrigerator. From there we headed to the pizza kitchen where the kids got to put the cheese on a pizza.

After that we headed to the lobster tank where the kids got to touch Larry the Lobster. The Dandelion was quite excited to see the lobsters but didn't want to touch it at all.

From there we headed over to the bakery, which was what I was afraid of. The Dandelion cannot eat things made in a bakery because they have peanuts/nuts so I generally steer clear of it, and today we were invited into the actual bakery. Fortunately the Dandelion was quite interested in the book of fancy cakes outside the bakery and didn't even notice that the other kids got to try squeezing frosting and that everyone got a sugar cookie to eat. Frankly, I couldn't have imagined it going any better.

The kids finished up by going back to pick up the cooked pizza and then got balloons from the floral department. The Dandelion (and his classmates) were thrilled to have balloons with their favorite characters!

So overall, the trip was fun. Actually, the class has had a lot of "special" activities so far this year. In addition to the grocery store trip, they have had a mini-golf fundraiser and a grandparents' snack day. The Dandelion was very excited when Papa came to his school for the day!

In other preschool news...

I am thrilled to report that there are weekly newsletters being sent home with what they are doing in class. This was one thing I missed most about being at other schools. I am too hands on to accept sending my kids "into a black hole" for school. I did not handle it well last year, and I am not doing too well with the whole going to school on a bus and staying there for 6.5 hours without me.

On the other hand, I am not so thrilled to report that the Dandelion has been struggling with drop-offs over the past week. He gets very clingy from the time we pull into the parking lot at school until I pry him off to get out the door. So far he doesn't really cry or scream about it, but he does put on his best pouty face and begs and pleads for me to stay at school with him. So it seems he does want to be there, he just wants me to be there too. However, the teachers have said that he seems to do it for show because as soon as I leave he acts completely normal, interacting with the teachers and other kids in the class. I do hope it blows over soon though, because I still feel bad leaving.

Additionally, he seems to be getting comfortable with people at school - from his teachers and classmates to the gymnastics teachers and the director, he does a great job of saying "hi" or "bye" with their name. He was also super excited about his first "homework", which wasn't actually homework. It was really his first handwriting worksheet. He was so proud of it. He came home and showed all of us his letter "S" paper. He seems so grown up these days!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nate the Great and other favorite books

The Tumbleweed has been on quite the reading kick lately. Between having library class at school every week and the school running a book fair, there have been plenty of new books around to capture her imagination. These days she is plowing through short chapter books, usually Junie B Jones or the Fairies books. We are working on branching out, but when left to her own devices she seems to gravitate to the same things. I have been impressed with how much her comprehension seems to have improved since school started. She is much better at answering questions about the book after she has read it. Yay - to her not grumbling & complaining when I ask "What was the book about?". Now she can even list the "characters" and tell me the "setting" and "plot"!

This weekend she picked up the book she got from Aunt Kasey for her birthday -- Nate the Great and the Big Sniff. Aunt Kasey picked this one because she and her dog Rufus were featured in a story in the "Extra Activities" section of the recent editions of the book. She seemed to really enjoy the book, and was eager to tell about what she read (although she still needs to work on her summarizing skills). Thanks Aunt Kasey!

Now we just have to work on not staying up too late reading on school nights! Hmmm... I wonder where she gets that from?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Apple Picking Minus One

The Tumbleweed has been struggling with going to school some mornings because she wants to stay home and "do fun things". I guess I can't blame her. It was kind of strange today when the Dandelion and I went off on a field trip with the MOMS Club and she didn't get to come with us. On one hand it was nice to have the quality time with him (and to have only one kid to chase around), but it did feel like we were missing someone. And of course when the Dandelion recapped the event for us during dinner I got a "See, I told you that all the fun stuff happens while I am at school" from the Tumbleweed.

I guess I better get used to it, because there are still almost two full years before the Dandelion is in school all day, and there are going to be lots of activities between now and then. Hopefully the Tumbleweed starts to accept it too.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mission: Organization - Sidetracked


As any homeowner can tell you, home improvement projects really take on a life of their own. Our basement organization project is no different. We started out on our organization journey three months ago determined to "clear the clutter". The basement is really coming along and is nearly complete, but along the way we have gotten a little sidetracked and organized a few other areas of the house. This includes the kids craft cabinet, our bedroom and, as previously mentioned, our living room. With momentum on our side, I decided to tackle our three hall closets. So while the kids were both at school, our organizer came by to help me sort & purge. By the time the Eagle came home from work, I had three surprises ready and waiting. (My apologies that there are no "before" pictures, I had the closets halfway emptied before I remembered!)

Closet #1 - Cleaning Supplies
This closet had previously held much of my office supplies, which had already been given a new home in the basement. We had already started putting the brooms & vacuum in it, but now it is all of the cleaning supplies.

Closet #2 - Bedroom Linens
This closet was holding a whole bunch of stuff that we moved in with and never really unpacked. We hardly ever had a reason to open it, yet it is a prime location. We relocated items that needed to be stored and donated the ones we no longer needed and - voila! - we had space for all of our sheets & blankets!

Closet #3 - Bathroom Linens
This had been our "linen closet". It was crammed with all of the sheets, towels, kitchen linens and other miscellaneous items. It was so full that things had started being shoved in wherever they fit, rather than being put away where they belonged. With the sheets & blankets in their new home, there was plenty of space for the towels!

We are close to wrapping up the basement project, so check back for the big reveal!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book Fair Flashback

This morning I volunteered at the Tumbleweed's school book fair. This is her first year at public school, and therefore my two hours of the book fair was the most time I have spent in the building so far. I didn't see her while I was there since the Dandelion's school hours did not overlap her library time, but I did get help out with a class of 2nd graders and a class of 3rd graders.

Being at the school brought back so many memories from my own childhood, particularly of attending my elementary school book fair (which is not the same school that the Tumbleweed attends). If you had asked me a week ago, "was there a stage at your school when you were in first grade?", I don't think I would have known the answer. But today memories suddenly came rushing back and I had a flashback to the school book fair which I now recall being held on the stage of the gymnasium, behind the closed curtains. Crazy.

I came home that afternoon, with the Dandelion napping and the Tumbleweed still at school, and dug out my memorabilia boxes from school. I was hunting for something specific, and I found it. It was my 1st grade journal from Mrs. Whitbourne's class. In it were mentions of my favorite class (art), field trips we took (grocery store, post office and a rained out trip to the zoo), a drawing of my sister & I in our Halloween costumes (a witch and Cheer Bear), and some of my favorite toys (My Little Pony & Cabbage Patch Kids). What an awesome time capsule it was.

I found a few other gems in the boxes, but tucked them all back away before the kids could get into anything. It is fun to take a trip down memory lane from time to time. I wonder what memories going to the school open house this week will bring back...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hawk Hill - 4 Years Later

When we first moved her four years ago we stuck pretty close to home. We had a one and a half year old, who didn't go to school yet and had very few activities. We didn't know our way around the neighboring towns. We hadn't found all of the local attractions. But that didn't mean we didn't do anything. We invited our friends out to visit and went apple picking at the orchard down the road.

Four years later, we are much busier driving all over town (and to the neighboring towns) for sports, activities and school. But just as we did our first fall, we supported our local orchard. The kids went apple picking with Papa. As always the train play structure was a big hit and they want to stop every day to play. The Tumbleweed is a bit bigger than she was four years ago.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Go Red Team!

The fall soccer season kicked-off this week. The Eagle is coaching both kids this year --- which means coaching 2 teams. And they were both assigned red jerseys. Madness!

The Tumbleweed's U6 team had the first game of the season on Friday night. She is on a team with a bunch of her friends again this year and they were all super excited to play. And they played awesome, the 5 five year olds each scored a goal! They don't really keep score, but if they did the red team would have won handily. Lots of fun, and funny moments, a perfect way to start the season.

The Dandelion finally got to take the field on Saturday morning for the U4 clinic & game. He has several little buddies on the team and they were absolutely adorable following along during warm-up and learning not to touch the ball with their hands. After 30 minutes of "practice", the kids lined up for a game.

Shin Guard Check!

The Dandelion kept his head in the game pretty well! He had a couple turns with the ball and took it straight upfield. Straight from where he started just happened to be five feet to the left of the un-manned goal, but that's okay :)

I'd say soccer weekend #1 was a success - and it was also the first fall season that hasn't started out with a rain-out. Fingers crossed for the rest of the season!