Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Days of School

Both Boogie and Buggy started school this week. Boogie started first grade yesterday and Buggy entered the preschool world today starting in the 3's class.

Find comfort in Mama's bed
Boogie has been bouncing off the walls the past few weeks. He has been excitable and has had amazing energy. There didn't seem to be enough for him to do to exert all of his excess energy.  He finally brought it up on Thursday that he was a little nervous about school. I think that while he knew that he would be starting school again, not knowing the exact day or his teacher, it made him anxious. It helped immensely that we were able to check out the class lists on Thursday night. He knew his teacher and it helped that his kindergarten teacher is known for playing good-natured pranks with Boogie's new teacher.  We attended his school's open house on Friday and met his teacher. He was really pleased when she said she knew him and that she had seen him in Mr. S's class last year. He also had two former classmates in the same class. They were able to pick their seats and he chose to sit with them.  I am really excited to know one of the parents in the class. She and I got along really well last year and we were both happy to have our children in the same class again.

After meeting Boogie's teacher, Boogie was ready to go next door to see his kindergarten teacher and give him a big hug. Even Buggy gave Boogie's kindergarten teacher a hug. It made starting first grade a lot less scary. However, on Sunday night, I did find Boogie fast asleep in my bed when I finally climbed the stairs much later in the evening.  I guess he was more anxious than I realized. Hubby put him back in his bed and we prepared ourselves for having a first grader in the family.

Buggy and Lola on the way to Boogie's school
Boogie woke up early, ate breakfast, brushed his teeth, and dressed himself without having to be asked. He was so excited!  My mom came over to walk Boogie to school. The kids loved seeing her.

It was a great day and Boogie had so much to share with us when he came home from school. I think this will be another wonderful year. Thanks, Mr. S. for choosing a good teacher for our Boogie Man.

We finished Boogie's first day of school with a dinner of his choice made by Mommy and a trip to our favorite ice cream stand for dessert.

Today was Buggy's very first day of preschool. She is in a 3's class and has the same teacher Boogie had when he was three.  We love Mrs. E. and I love that she teaches that we make God #1 in our lives. Buggy was up one hour earlier than she had to be this morning. She was so excited to pull out her new book bag.  Hubby took the day off so that I could go with Buggy to her class. Her school requires that a parent stay with the preschooler for the first day and they ask that siblings stay home. So Hubby took the day off and he and Bananas walked Boogie to school while Buggy and I went to her school.  We started our morning with a yummy breakfast of caramel rolls and bacon and left in our separate directions. Buggy was a bit shy today, but advocated for herself twice when wanted more stickers to decorate her paper.  I loved that when I couldn't give her more stickers, she politely asked her teacher who was handing out more.  Buggy is excited to go again on Thursday and to go by herself. I think she will be just fine.

Buggy's first ever first day of preschool!
We will finish her special day with a dinner out at our favorite family restaurant and maybe a dessert. She was excited to be able to choose the restaurant to honor her first ever first day of school!

I'm a little nervous about how I'm going to juggle Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  Boogie can be at school as early as 8:30 and Buggy needs to be at her school by 8:45. I think I'm going to have to put everyone in the car, drop off Boogie at the front of the school, keep on going and take Buggy to school. It will mean a lot of coordination and compliant children. It means that I will have to be on the ball and have everything ready each morning.  It means I'll have to be realistic and know that Buggy may be late a few times because things happen.  I'll have to cut myself a break when things don't go smoothly when we have very little wiggle room in our time frame.

I'm looking forward to the big kids starting on their new adventures and for some special one-on-one time with Mr. Bananas.  It's going to be a good year!

Super confident 1st Grader!

How we like to end the first day of school.

That backpack is bigger than Buggy!

Happy to be starting preschool.
Happy to be starting 1st Grade!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Week at the Beach

My 3 Loves Enjoying the Beach
Earlier this month we rented a small townhouse at the beach. It was our first time doing this and we wondered how it would go.  We invited my parents to join us because I thought they would really enjoy the week with their grandkids as they have in the past, but they were unable to make it.

Due to a snafu in our directions it took us a whopping 6 hours portal to portal. Ugh!  The trip really shouldn't have taken more than 4 hours, but you know. Fortunately, it did not put a damper on our plans.  The kids were excited and so were we.

Mr. Bananas on the beach for the first time
After arriving at our townhouse, we unpacked, let the kids choose their beds, had dinner, and we decided to walk to the beach for a quick look and then search for ice cream.  It was the very first time Mr. Bananas has ever been to the beach. It was neat to see his face as his little toes touched sand for the first time.  Boogie loved it and couldn't wait to race into the water. It was torture for him not to go into the water. We wouldn't let him because he wasn't wearing his swimsuit.

After a walk around the beach we quickly found ice cream and dug in. Nothing like a soft serve cone with sprinkles at the beach. Yum!

We spent the rest of our vacation on the following schedule:  wake up, breakfast, pack for the beach, go to the beach, picnic at the beach, walk home and straight to the community pool (0.4 miles and across a busy but easily crossable highway), swim for a 30 minutes, walk across the parking lot to our home, baths, naps, wake up for dinner, eat dinner, head out to the boardwalk, eat ice cream (I think we hit every ice cream joint on the boardwalk during our one week stay), walk home, put the kids to bed, Hubby and I watch the Olympics, head to bed, and repeat.  It was fabulous!

During our vacation I was able to catch up with a dear friend whom I haven't seen in months.  It was nice to see her and to catch up. It was nice that we were at the beach at the same time and I'm grateful she was able to meet us on the beach for a day.

Checking out Epito's ipad
We were also able to spend time with the beloved Epitos. Our friends from our church also have a home at the beach and we rented a home just a few miles from them.  We saw each other 3 or 4 times during our vacation and the kids enjoyed spending time with them. We spent an entire day at their beautiful home enjoying brunch, a walk around the neighborhood, and playing games. Boogie and Epita enjoyed a rousing game of Battleship and we found out that Boogie cheats. It was humorous.  He would bend down pretending to pick something up off the floor, sidle over and glance at Epita's board. She was very good natured about it.

Boogie and Epita playing Battleship
The kids loved spending time with the Epitos and we were very fortunate to see them once again at the beach the next day. On our final day at the beach, they spoiled us and provided lunch so that we wouldn't have to stop on the way home.  We also came home to find that my mom very graciously organized the kitchen, dining room, family room, front hall, and library. I really, really need to acquire those skills!

We brought home two pets: Goldie and Key Lime. The kids were thrilled with their new hermit crabs, but within a week poor Key Lime decided to leave this world.  I think it had to do with how excitedly Buggy shook her when she showed Key Lime to her friends.  Oops!
The kiddos enjoying some downtime at the townhouse.

We had fun and made memories. This is what I love about being a full-time Mom and wife to my family. I was able to focus on them and enjoy every single moment. All in all, it was a pretty fabulous vacation and hope to do it again next year with my favorite people!

Mr. B and Daddy

Feeling the sand between his toes.

Chilling at the townhouse

Boogie reading his new animal book at the townhouse.

Mr. B. checking out the sand for the first time.

Checking out the beach in the sunshine

Beach Babe

Boogie very rarely joined us on the sand. He was on the go and loved the beach!

How every trip to the beach should end!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thank You Flipper Coaches

I could go on and on about how much I love Summer swim team. It was wonderful to have both of the big kids swimming this Summer and as a result Mr. Bananas is trying to mimic their arms and legs every time he gets into the water. I think I'll have three swimmers very soon!

I loved our Flipper coaches and thought they did an excellent job working with the children. They assessed the kids and grouped them by ability and helping them to accomplish some very basic water skills. Buggy's group learned how to put their face in the water and how to float. I didn't expect more than that. I really wanted her to work on feeling comfortable in the water. As a result, when we go to the pool she loves to show me how can put her whole body in the water, even her face. Last year she wouldn't do that. This year, she can't wait to be in the water.

Boogie learned to swim freestyle and swam in several meets. I was hoping he would progress this year, but didn't want to put to much pressure on him. He did so well and next year we'll work on the backstroke.

Too bad, Mr. Bananas can't join yet. He's so excited to be in the water. Like Boogie, he truly is a water baby.

The coaches were fantastic. I was trying to figure out a nice thank you gift for each of them. But there were 8 coaches who were worked with my children. Giving them each a $5 gift card didn't seem enough, but if I gave them each a $10 gift card it would be too much for my budget. I did contribute to the coaches' gift and gave them a check, but I also wanted the coaches to know how appreciative I was as a parent. They were professional, friendly, and personable.  I never heard them raise their voices or act unkindly or frustrated with any of the children. And working with 50 kids, that's gotta be tough.  But the coaches were wonderful.

One day as the kids and I were walking through Trader Joe's we decided to buy each of the coaches a big flower.  Sunflowers for the boy coaches and pink Gerber daisies for the girl coaches. I let each of the kids pick the flowers. On the last day of Flipper classes I wrote out a thank you note.  After the session Boogie gave each of the girl coaches 3 pink daisies and Buggy gave each of the boy coaches a sunflower. It was neat to see the coaches' faces light up. They were touched by my kids' gesture. Their reaction confirmed that going with a simple, humble gift was better than trying to "pay" them with a gift card for their hard work this Summer.  I really wanted to ask the coaches for a picture with my kids, but didn't want to bother them. I was so relieved when one of the coaches gathered all the coaches and said he wanted a picture with all of them and my kids.  I got my picture and so did he. I look forward to next Summer and another swim season. Go Flippers!

Flipper Season 2012

I also love that most of the coaches are lifeguards at our pool. I feel an extra layer of security while we're at the pool because they know my kids and their abilities. I am also touched that they take the time to talk to my kids between shifts. It really makes us feel that we are part of a community and not just a Summer activity.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Lunch with Daddy

This is the last week of Summer vacation and the weather has been gorgeous. We had an awesome playdate on Tuesday, on Thursday we are going to visit my sister-in-law for a much needed catching up session, and on Friday we have an open house for Boogie's school and we are going to meet his 1st grade teacher.  Today I did not have anything planned and I thought we'd go to the gym, but after some thought I checked with Hubby who, amazingly, did not have any meetings or conference calls scheduled.  The kids and I ended up taking the train into the city and meeting him for lunch.  We took advantage of the great weather and ate lunch outside.  Two of Hubby's coworkers joined us and the kids and I had a great time. I'm grateful for this time together, especially since Hubby will be leaving soon for a 5-6 week business trip (yikes!).

Buggy and Mr. Bananas occupying themselves on the train.

Boogie reading about his favorite topic: animals! 

Trying to look like Daddy at work.

Hanging out in Daddy's office.

Being silly in Daddy's office.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Easy Homemade (Just a Few More Hours at $0.99)

Easy Homemade

Easy Homemade is available for a few more hours for only $0.99. Click here to view more details. After tonight, you will still be able to buy the ebook, but the price will jump to $3.99, which is still a great price for this book. But if you can get it for under a dollar, why not? Check it out and happy cooking!

Monday, August 20, 2012

11th Wedding Anniversary

11 Years Later
Last month, Hubby and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary! I can't believe we've been married that long, yet at the same time, it seems only yesterday that I finally had the courage to speak to the cute boy in my Legacy class.

All of the best times in my life have been shared with my husband, and so have some of the most devastating. Yet, through it all, he has been there right by my side. I am blessed.

Last year when we were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary we had an infant, so dreams of a weekend getaway just the two of us wasn't going to happen.  Hubby declared that we will celebrate our decade of marriage on our 11th wedding anniversary. He had grand plans of taking a long weekend and traveling, just the two of us.  The closer we came to our anniversary, the antsier I became because I was worried about childcare.  I thought about splitting up the kids and sending them to different family and friends or trying to send all three of them to one home for the weekend. Then a falling out happened with one of the parties and I just didn't think we could swing it.

Our anniversary gift to one another: A play set for the kids
We thought about shortening the weekend away. Then we thought about doing just a night away. Then it ended up with us buying a play set for the kids and hiring a babysitter so that we could do dinner out, just the two of us.  Our thoughts of going away to Vegas, maybe Florida, to how about New Jersey, to anything only a short distance away, ending up being "Hey, I'm glad you're still mine and I'm still yours, let's do dinner."

In about 4 years, my eldest niece will be considered an adult and I think we'll have to wait until then so that we can have someone stay with our kids for the weekend while we celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.  Well, I can dream can't I?

The last 11 years have had their ups and downs and through it all we have been blessed with 3 amazing kids and a love that keeps getting stronger.

Happy 11 years, Superman! I'm looking forward to many more with you! Love, Lois xoxo

As I reflect on our marriage, we still put God first and I'm grateful that we have chosen to be of the same mind and having the same love for one another. We are so blessed.

"Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind." (Philippians 2:2)

If it's loveAnd we decide that it's forever, no one else could do it betterIf it's loveAnd we're two birds of a feather then the rest is just whatever
And if I'm addicted to loving you and you're addicted to my love tooWe can be them two birds of a feather that flock togetherLove, love, we got to have something to keep us togetherLove, love, that's enough for me (Train--If It's Love)
Read more: TRAIN - IF IT'S LOVE LYRICS http://www.metrolyrics.com/if-its-love-lyrics-train.html#ixzz247HVm8BN
Copied from MetroLyrics.com 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bible Camp

After the swim season finished with a fun banquet filled with yummy food, certificate, and trophies, my big kids participated in this year's Vacation Bible School at our church. This was Boogie's 4th year at camp, but it was his first year to participate in Big Camp.  This was Buggy's first year at camp and she loved it.

I was asked to be volunteer coordinator again.  I waited a few days to type a nice email saying "No, not this year, but I'll be happy to lead one of the groups" because my first reaction was "Hell no!" And I didn't think that was an appropriate response.  I really didn't enjoy being the volunteer coordinator last year. A lot of it had to do with having a nursing infant who had reflux and screamed all the time, lack of much needed sleep, and becoming frustrated with volunteers who didn't understand that they needed to go through the archdiocesan's mandatory class on protecting our children and required fingerprinting.  If you want to work with children within our parish, you absolutely have to take the class and be fingerprinted as part of the background check. As a parent, I realize it's not an easy thing to find time to take the class and journey about an hour's train ride for a 5 minute fingerprinting if you missed the oh-so-convenient (NOT!) one day a month on a random Tuesday fingerprinting at a nearby parish.  However, as a parent, I really don't want someone working with my child(ren) who has not gone through the class or through a background check, and I'm pretty sure the other parents felt the same way.  Anyhoo...I said, "no, thank you" to being the volunteer coordinator.

However, I was very much looking forward to leading one of the camp groups. Each of the big kids wanted me to lead their group and that would have been impossible. So I signed up to be a volunteer and told the kids that I allowed the director to place me wherever she needed the most help and that I did ask to be placed in one of their classes. Both kids were okay with that and it alleviated any guilt on my part for not being in both classes at once.

Buggy and Cha Cha enjoying a break outside
It was totally the right decision to be a group leader this year. I was placed in Buggy's class as a preschool teacher for 3 year olds.  We had the added bonus of having Buggy's friend Cha-Cha in the same group. The girls loved being at camp together.  I lucked out and had a very reliable teen be my teacher's helper. I had several teens, but I hand-picked S. because I knew she would be awesome. I rarely had to direct her to do anything, she went with instinct and made my life easier while working with 13(!) preschoolers.  I had other teens, but they needed more direction. It was nice to have S. just get things done when I was busy teaching the class.

I had a great group of preschoolers and loved having them in my class. I LOVED teaching them and I LOVED that it was only a week.  Hats off to full-time preschool teachers. It takes a very special person to lovingly teach and handle preschool children.  

Buggy loved her time at camp. We visited Peru 1600AD and learned about St. Rose and St. Martin de Porres. We made crafts, watched a mini-drama on the saints acted out by some of the teen helpers, learned new songs, and tried making different things in the market place.

Boogie loved his time as well and came home full of stories of his day around the market place.  He brought home a ton of crafts and learned so much about the saints.

Mr. Bananas was able to be in the nursery while I taught. He was able to go on daily walks around the camp with the nursery helpers and see what everyone was doing.

All in all it was a good time had by all.  

Cha Cha
This year I realized that I am much better suited as a group leader for campers than I am organizing and planning camp.  I am definitely capable of being on the leadership team, but I don't enjoy it. I want to have a happy heart when I volunteer and my heart was swelling with happiness when I taught and interacted with my preschoolers.  That's where I belong and hope to be next year. Yes, next year. We'll be participating in camp again next year and my kids can't wait!


Buggy making bread in the market place

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Easy Homemade: Homemade Pantry Staples for the Busy Modern Family

Easy Homemade

I've been following Mandi at Life...Your Way for several years now. I started following her to get some new ideas for organization. I've continued to follow her as she has expanded her site to include also include tips on mothering, living green, work life, blogging, and so much more.  As a self-proclaimed discombobulated mommy, I'm always looking for ways to make my life easier.

Mandi has just launched her new ebook: Easy Homemade:Homemade Pantry Staples for the Busy Modern Family.  As I was reading this, I was excited to try some of the recipes. I would love to provide my family pantry staples that eliminate some of the questionable ingredients that we find in food that causes them to have long-term shelf life.  As a mother juggling three children and all of their activities I find it difficult to find the time to make food from scratch.  However, Mandi has broken it down to make it easy, with many recipes using 5-7 ingredients.  I definitely want to get back to basics and cook from scratch just like my mom did when I was a little girl.

Mandi is launching her ebook for the low price of $0.99. You can find the book for your Kindle on Amazon or for your Nook at Barnes and Noble.  Enjoy and happy cooking!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: For Bridget

I was hoping to visit with my sister-in-law several times this Summer. I think we were able to squeeze in one play date and haven't been able to see each other since, except at full family gatherings. We were trying to see each other before my family's trip to the beach, but with my washing machine on the fritz and trying to pack for the trip, we just couldn't make it happen.  My goddaughter, who is my sister-in-law's youngest child, has been wanting to see our Mr. Bananas and to see how big he has gotten, and how many teeth he has.  Fortunately, while we have not been able to see her, with technology I was able to snap a picture of Mr. Bananas with my phone and send it to her mom.

This picture is for you Miss Bridget! I look forward to seeing you next week.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Catching Up: Starting with Boogie!

I realize it's been over a month since I lasted posted! Time has gotten away from me. The end of the Summer has been so busy with the end of Swim Team, Bible Camp, celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary, and our trip to the beach.  I vowed that I would spend every day of our time at the beach blogging and catching up and instead I spent my free time napping, reading, and watching the Olympics and it was glorious!

I don't want to minimize anything so I'll do my best to catch up. Especially since this is my digital scrap book and I want my children to be able to read this some day and read about the memories we made.

It will probably take several posts to catch up, but here it goes:

Lost his 4th Tooth
The day after the the Flipper Mini Meet Boogie lost his 4th tooth. He's now that adorable kid without the two front teeth and I love it. It has taken months for the 3rd tooth to grow in, but it finally is growing in. How did he get to be so big? I can't believe he's starting 1st grade in a little less than 2 weeks. WHA?!?

Just two days after losing his 4th tooth, Boogie swam in another B meet and my parents were able to be there to cheer him on.  This was the first time he swam the entire length of the pool by himself without anyone in the lane with him.  Boogie swam all by himself and was awesome. It was also cool to see all the coaches gathered around his lane cheering him on. He came in last, which was also 4th place and I couldn't be prouder. IT WAS AWESOME!!!!  The Head Flipper Coach's mother has a tradition of giving a dollar to kids when they swim across the pool in their first meet.  She gave Boogie a dollar for the "snack shack" and he was able to get whatever he wanted in addition to whatever I promised him for swimming across by himself. He was one happy kid.

Boogie with his dollar from Mrs. H.
Boogie swam in the last B meet the following week. He was still nervous about swimming by himself and I was worried when I found out that Coach Paul wouldn't be there. There are several assistant Flipper coaches, but Coach Paul has been the one to "rescue" Boogie when he didn't make it across the pool. I didn't think anyone would need to rescue him, but I was relieved when the Big Team Coach, Alex, offered to put on her swimsuit before his race in case he needed her. He didn't, he swam across the pool by himself with all the coaches, Hubby, my parents, his siblings, and I all cheering for him. He once again earned a 4th place ribbon (last place) and the coveted black "personal best" ribbon. He shaved a ton of time of his previous week's race and he was more proud of that than his "finisher ribbon." (He calls the last place ribbon a finisher ribbon and is not impressed, much like McKayla Maroney when she earned her silver medal, instead of gold, in vaulting).

Halfway through the meet, Hubby took the little kids home for baths and bed. I had to stay until the end of the meet as ribbon writer and Boogie stayed with me.  He hung out with me and then we decided to go to McDonald's with the rest of the team to pick up his ribbon. He was totally stoked to find out that he got to eat whatever he wanted (my big guy was craving a cheeseburger) and he received a free mini McFlurry when he presented his ribbon. When his coach called his name for his ribbon, I thought Boogie was going to take off. He was flapping his arms and jumping up and down in all of his excitement. I think it's really cool that our local McDonald's does this for the kids on the swim team.  The best part of the night is that Boogie told me I was the "best mama ever" and "I love you so much, Mama." It was wonderful to share this time with him. We stayed up late, ate ice cream, and spent time together just the two of us and I'm so grateful. He's growing up so fast and I don't want to miss a minute of it.