Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Until we meet again...

August has been full of anniversaries...this last one isn't near as happy as the rest, but deserves a special post. 
Eight years ago today we said good-bye to our grandma after a long battle with cancer.  She fought so hard and had such a great attitude up until the very end, staying positive and praying all the way.  She was here for the first 18 months of Daniel's life, and I wish she could have been here to see my nephews and Joel come into the world and watch them all grow up.  She would have loved them so much!!  Happy for the all the fun memories, but it's still hard after all these years.
Until we meet again...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Four Months Old

Joel is four months old today & I can't believe it!  Here are some things he's been up to this month...I had a whole post typed and ready to go last night & lost it, so I'm probably going to miss something...
* Joel survived an earthquake and Hurricane Irene - all in the same week! 
* We read  On the Night You Were Born every night after his bath and tummy time.  He likes to look at the pictures and all the colors, giggling while I read.  It has been hard for me to read these past couple weeks as I was preparing to head back to work after 16 weeks at home with him :(
* He also loves another personal favorite of mine, Guess How Much I Love You.  In fact, I love this book so much, I got this with the boys' names on it. I read this book to Daniel every night when he was little, and he likes reading it to Joel now...the joys of a nine-year age difference!! :)
* Joel is showing more interest in his toys.  He likes to bring them close and investigate their bright colors and noises they make.  His favorites right now are his crinkle bug rattle & an Eric Carle elephant.
 * Joel still loves Monkey, and he continues to sleep through the night...in his swing.  But, he's sleeping...we're sleeping...it's a pretty good arrangement if you ask me.  I plan to continue until he doesn't fit in the swing...and we'll deal with that when the time comes.  He is not a good napper, but as long as he's sleeping through the night (and has been since he was 6-8 weeks old), I can't ask for much more   :)
* We've fed Joel cereal a few times, and he didn't show much interest...I decided to try it again last night, and he loved it!  I will probably feed it to him each night this week and then introduce some fruits and veggies next weekend after his four-month well visit.  I had big plans of buying a baby bullet and making our own baby food.  Then Dan asked if I was going to "buy it, use it a few times, and then find a special corner of the garage to keep it in and headed out to buy Gerber."   He was so right!  I decided to go the Gerber route, and we're now stocked up with all kinds of fruits and veggies!
 * Joel kept looking to one corner in his room and smiling & laughing.  We couldn't figure out what had him so intrigued...then we realized it was his white blanket with the big polka dots.  We thought maybe he was seeing something we couldn't & I got a little freaked out!  And then...his monitor in our bedroom kept lighting up when no one was in there...I kept making Dan go over to make sure nothing was there.  I'm chalking it up to the monitor being extra sensitive...and moving on!  Yikes!
* Joel can almost sit up on his own now.  He supports himself for a few seconds before toppling over.  We switched him from the "newborn" side to the "infant" side of his tub so he can sit up, and he loves it!  Bath time is still one of his favorite past times!
* He likes his jumperoo a lot more, and can finally touch the floor when he bounces high enough.  He loves bouncing to the music and playing with the animals :)
* Joel went to the babysitter for the first time a couple weeks ago so I could work in my classroom.  He did SO good!!!  He spent his first full week there last week, and it went okay, but not as well as I had hoped.  I dreaded going back to work & "he did alright" or "his day wasn't so great" were not things I wanted to hear at at the end of a long day at work.  Babies spit up and sometimes they don't nap when we want them to...but it's not that big of a deal!!  He had a great weekend at home, and I'm hoping it's just an adjustment phase he's going through!  Let's face it, it is a big change for all of us!!
And...these two, they're still pretty good buddies :)
Happy Monday! :)
*He weighed 16 lbs. 3 oz.  and measured 24 1/4 in. :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our week...we made it.

On Sunday night, I set my alarm for the first time since Daniel's last day of school in June.  True story.
I started back to work after four months of maternity leave bright and early Monday morning.  I am so grateful that I got to spend the first 16 weeks of Joel's life at home with him...and being with both boys all summer could not have been better!
Daniel started his first day of fourth grade in a new school & he not only survived it...he loves it, loves his teacher, and loves that he gets to eat lunch with friends from other classes. He had the BEST first day of school he's ever had.  Praise the Lord!!!  This is a true answer to our prayers!  Let's hope this continues as the homework begins next week ;)
It seems like he grew up overnight :/
We love the new backpack :)
First grade
Second grade
Third grade
Joel made it through his first full week at the babysitter...He did okay, but a few of the days I got reports that his day "wasn't so great" or "could have been better."  That is not what I want to hear after leaving him for eight hours.  But...what matters is that he is happy when we get home.  This whole getting up at 6:00 and being apart all day is for the birds, let me tell you.  It will take some adjusting for all of us!
Coming home to this smile makes me happy :)
Cuddly after his bath :)
I made it through two full days with my new kids.  I tend to forget just how needy a group of incoming five-year-olds are...until the very first day!  I was completely worn out when I got home Thursday night!  
"Hey teacher, when's lunch?"
"Can I get a drink?"
"I have to go to the bathroom"
"Can you tie my shoe?"
"I don't know how to write my name but I'll try." (from one of the cutest blue-eyed boys you've ever seen)...and try he did!  This is the first year since I started teaching that everyone could write their names on the first day of school.  Many of them have really neat personalities, and I'm looking forward to a good year!
Yesterday was much more relaxed...most of them remembered their morning jobs and how to "listen with their whole bodies" (from a new monster behavior plan I started...they love it and so do I)!
I wasn't quite as exhausted last night, but I'm so thankful the weekend is here.  We're awaiting the arrival of Irene and relaxing at home.  Have a great weekend...I'm spending mine with these guys :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

One year ago today...

we found out that he would be ours to keep :)

Baby showers - a hodgepodge

~ Link up at Kelly's Corner - Show Us Your Life: Baby Showers ~ 

Baby showers are so much fun!  I hosted showers for my sister and sister-in-law (and I've helped to plan lots of others).  I wish I had pictures, but my nephews (who those showers were for) are now 7 and 4...and I don't know where the pictures disappeared to!

We held my sister's shower in the fellowship hall of our church with about 50 guests.  I generated invitations on the computer and printed them on cute baby themed paper.  Her theme was teddy bears, so we decorated with bear tablecloths and other teddy bear decor.  My mom, sister, and her mother-in-law made all of the food.  We served a veggie tray, finger sandwiches, and other appetizers & snacks.  We sponge painted terracotta pots with pink, blue, green & yellow teddy bears as centerpieces on the tables and planted them with petunias.  Those also served as prizes for some of the games we played. We tied white mesh around votive candles and attached a cute baby poem and a plastic diaper pin to each one with pretty ribbon for favors at each place setting.

My sister-in-law's shower was similar, but she had a safari theme, so everything I did was in giraffes and yellow & green.  Favors for each place setting included giraffe-shaped cookies decorated with yellow & green icing (my mom, sister & I were up until wee hours of the morning piping frosting on these) wrapped in clear cellophane and tied with yellow & green ribbon.  They turned out to be soooooo adorable & I really wish I had pictures! For centerpieces, I used baby supplies (pacis, teething rings, powder, lotion, baby wash, shampoo, etc) as weights to hold the balloons down.  This was so cute & then my SIL could take the things home and use them for baby E :)

For both showers, I purchased cute prizes on clearance at Target and Bath & Body Works.  Games for both showers included:
* Baby Shower Memory Game
* Baby Bingo
* Timer game: Set a kitchen timer for random amounts of time.  When it goes off, the person whose gift the new mama is opening gets a prize.) - I can't find a website for this one, but it's simple & easy!
* Other games you could play

When my sister was pregnant with my younger nephew (who is now 3), I just made her a diaper cake & we celebrated with an ice cream cake to share in a small celebration with close family members :)
This froggie became F's "lovey"...he still carries it around... and I love that ;)

My most recent baby shower was my own!  My wonderful coworkers surprised me back in April before J was born.  It was a nautical theme, and I do have some pictures of that special day.  We didn't have time for games, because it was for breakfast before the school day started, and we only had about 30 minutes to eat and visit.  I waited to open my presents that night with my older son and husband when we got home. Food included baby sausage wraps & mini muffins :)
Sweet diaper cake, made by my good friend, Gina :)
Cute  gifts & lots of diapers...with onesies as decorations
Beautiful - and equally Delicious - nautical cake (chocolate w/ peanut butter icing - my fave!) made by my good friend's (Kim) sister
Cake table
sand toys for J...he can't wait to use them at the beach next summer :)
My sister and I always say that we would love to start up a party planning business...I wish we lived closer to each other so we could...that is our dream.  Maybe someday?  :)
And...if you haven't read my post about the BabyLegs giveaway, go here to enter! :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I think I can.

I've said it before...I'm a planner & an organizer.  I'm not a fan of change, drama, or debate.  I stress out when things don't go as planned.  It's the way I am.  I've tried to change, but I can't...no matter how hard I try....and believe me, lots of prayers have gone up (and are going up as I type).  I wish I could hit rewind and go back 16 weeks to when my baby boy was just two days old, and we were settling with our new family of four and new routines.  That is a change I could handle :)
I freak out when I'm under pressure. I have panic attacks when I'm in a large crowd & can't get out. I hyperventilate when I see snakes. I stress over how we're going to make it to visit everyone on holidays when we live 150 miles from our families. I worry about getting my classroom ready for each new school year. I dread leaving Joel when I go back to work tomorrow.  Juggling a full time job with too many changes to name, two kids...one with fourth grade homework & playing soccer three times a week and an almost 4-month-old baby...cooking dinner, keeping the house somewhat clean/organized, and making time for a ten-minute conversation with Dan before we all go to bed at the end of the night is not going to be easy, but I suppose I'm up for the challenge. I'm just praying praying and drawing on inner strength from above to get through all of this.
In the words of a favorite story I read to my kindergarten kids every year: I think I can...I think I can...I think I can... 
Good night ;)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy Saturday...and a Giveaway

I just realized this week that we have had over 1,000 visitors!  I think it's time for a giveaway...are you in?  I love BabyLegs!  I have seen them on so many babies & think they are so cute...and functional (they make for quick & easy diaper changes) but it has been way too hot to wear anything but onesies on my baby boy this summer!  I snagged a bunch of BabyLegs on clearance last winter & I can't wait to dress J in them on the cool days of fall that lie ahead.   Leave a comment at the end of this post for your chance to win a pair...two random readers will be chosen next weekend. Happy Saturday :)
J says "good luck."
*Disclaimer: I am not being compensated by BabyLegs...I just love their stuff & thought I'd share :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Share your back to school traditions...

~Link up at at Kelly's Corner - Show Us Your Life: Back to School Traditions.~

D is getting ready to start the year in fourth grade at a new school (our district has K-3 buildings, then it's onto intermediate school for 4-6).  I can't believe how fast the elementary years flew by...before we know it, J will be in kindergarten and we'll be sending D to high school. Not even thinking about it!!
Anyway...back to school reminds me that carefree summer days are over and that new beginnings are upon us.  As a teacher, I'm home all summer with my kids, so we really don't have any one tradition that we do every year.  We have a blast all summer long...and for that, I am forever grateful!
I always let D pick something fun to do on our last week off.  This year, he opted to go mini golfing, have lunch & ice cream, and then we stopped at Target to see what we could find in the way of deals.  It was a fun day, and I enjoyed spending it with both my boys :)
We also stock up on special snacks for during the school day and coming home after long hours of hard work.  We actually just got back from grocery shopping...Our full pantry & my empty wallet tell me that we've got plenty of goods on hand.   He chose Pringles packs, mini boxes of raisins, pudding & applesauce cups, and individual bags of  Cheez-its & fudge striped cookies.  :)
I don't dedicate one day to back to school shopping, because I like to pick up good deals when I see them.  We are out and about a few times a week during the summer searching for crazy good deals. :)  The internet is also a great place to snag back to school stuff at good prices.
New kickers are a must-have for every kid...we stopped at the Nike outlet on our way home from the beach in July to see what we could find.  After trying on just a couple pairs, he found the perfect ones!  He also got new socks and cleats...soccer season is already in full swing with practice two nights a week and games starting soon.
We hit Target's back to school section.  Hard.  He loaded up on mechanical pencils, colored pencils, markers, a crazy big canvas binder (think new generation Trapper Keeper - ha!), Penn State folders & notebooks, soccer ball erasers, highlighters and the like.  He may never use some of the stuff, but by golly if it was cool, we got it....because I'm a cool mom.  Well, maybe not, but it sounds good. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

TGIF (almost)

Get $5 off your next meal at Friday's.  Click on the image for your printable coupon  :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another great deal from Vera Bradley

One day only...Get the Mini Hipster by Vera Bradley for only $24.99 (Reg. $42)!  Hurry...this great deal ends TODAY!
Disclaimer: I am not being compensated by Vera Bradley...just sharing a good deal!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Let the running begin!

Going back to school marks the end of lazy summer days.  Sleeping until 9:30, lounging on the deck in pajamas until noon, bowling, swimming, playing in the sprinkler, beach vacations, $1 movie days, mini golf, and lunch at Chick-Fil-A will soon be swept away with waking up at 5:45 to the sound of an alarm (although I love the beach, ocean waves crashing on my sound machine that early in the morning don't sound much better than the annoying beeping that it replaces), shuffling to wake D up, getting dressed in something other than shorts, t-shirts & flip flops, putting on makeup, brushing my hair, being careful not to wake J before I get myself ready, running around like a crazy woman, and making it out the door by 7:20 with both boys in tow & ready to face the day!
Before J was born, I would tackle small chores (fold laundry, change the sheets, unload the dishwasher) before we left the house, but I'm thinking that won't happen as much...if at all.
I am still organized, but I feel like no matter how much planning I do, I'm never prepared for a last-minute episode of projectile vomiting or a diaper blow-out!  To make life a little easier, I combined some ideas I've read in various places and am hoping they work for us...fingers crossed!!

I typed a daily schedule for D to follow.  I don't like to nag (and he hates when I do), so hopefully this will help him to be more organized and independent in the mornings before leaving and when we get home in the afternoons.  I keep telling him he's in fourth grade and needs to be more responsible...hoping this helps!
Along with info from school (open house, ice cream socials, etc.) & soccer schedules, I printed the daily routine out and hung it on the door leading into the garage...that way I see it before we head out to get in the car in the morning & hopefully don't forget anything!  I've always done this, but things are so different with 20 pounds of baby and car seat carrier in your arms!
Then I jotted down a few daily reminders for myself on a Sunday - Saturday calendar that I keep on the fridge:

Homework has often been an issue in our house.  I've tried to set up schedules for getting it done in the past, but none of my ideas ever worked.  And I'm a teacher...yikes!  Even though we always got homework done, it sometimes became a hassle and/or argument.   This year, I'm enforcing the homework rules, and I'm not backing down.  D can either choose to do it in the living room (w/ no TV), at the dining room table, or at his desk (this was my desk at my grandparents' house when I was a little girl, and I refinished it a couple years ago)...I still love it.  Homework will be the first thing he does after we get home (after a quick snack) while I'm making dinner.  He keeps all of his favorite things there (everything Steelers & PSU, of course), so it makes it more inviting for him to sit down and work.  I might have to confiscate his laptop during homework time, though!

Lucky for me, D likes to buy school lunches, so that saves me lots of time.  I go online, put money in his account, and he's good to go!  I'm not a big fan of school lunches (unless I am pregnant - and that was last year!), so I take my lunch.  My plan is to pack it the night before...so hopefully I can stick with that and remember to grab it from the fridge before we leave.  I have always taken everything I possibly can out to the car the night before.  We always order out for lunch on Fridays, so that is one less thing for me to do at the end of a busy week...YAY for weekends!!!
I'm fortunate enough to have a wonderful babysitter who makes bottles & does laundry (bibs, burp cloths, blankets, etc) for J...so all I have to do is take him in the morning.  She lets me know when diapers, wipes & formula are running low, but other than those couple of things, we're set...and that saves me loads of time in the mornings!  
Oh, and my teacher bag...you know, the one we teachers drag home every night & sometimes it doesn't even make it into the house (because a big purse and lunch bag just aren't enough to carry out at the end of a long day)?  Well, if I do bring it in, it hangs on the door knob so I can drop "stuff" in it when I walk by...and hopefully it makes it back to the car later that night or the next morning on my way out! 
D keeps his backpack by the door so he can just pick it up and go in the morning...he loads it w/ homework and anything else he might need the night before.  I don't have a picture of that yet...I ordered him a Penn State backpack over a week ago & it's still not here yet...I've gone round & round with the company for two days now...we'll see how this goes...

Anyway, happy scheduling & routine-making for your kids as you start back to school in your house.  Let the running begin :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

We're ready for some soccer!

Tonight was D's first soccer practice of the season & I snapped a few quick shots before we left.  I can't believe how much he's grown since his first season four years ago :)

my personal favorite :)

August 2011
August 2007

Back to school offers from RoseArt

Click on the links below for back to school offers for teachers and parents :)


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Charm City

We spent the day at Inner Harbor in Baltimore to celebrate our 10th anniversary.  We had so much fun together!!!  Even though we missed the kids, it was nice to get away for the day. :)
Breakfast overlooking the harbor
This little shop looked so cute, but we didn't have time to stop.  I had to settle for a picture!
We went on a sightseeing cruise & learned so much about the history of Inner Harbor.
Rusty Scupper
Domino Sugar factory...the dot on top of the "i" is six feet tall...the entire sign is the size of a basketball court.
We couldn't have asked for prettier weather.
Ft. McHenry
This lighthouse was once home to those quarantined with typhoid fever & other diseases.
It was so breezy, but this is the only picture we got of the two of us together :)
A view of a mosque from our cruise
World Trade Center - Baltimore
Gourmet cupcakes...
They looked sooooo yummy!
I know I shouldn't have, but it's not every day you see an Amish family in Baltimore!  The kids were so cute!!
I spotted this little crab & thought I'd take his picture :)