Friday, September 28, 2012

The End of Read-a-Thon

Yesterday was the awards assembly for the school read-a-thon. Since it had an Olympics theme, kids were encouraged to wear sports "stuff" for the awards assembly. Our girl:
A little piece of my Tar Heel soul cried, but she was so excited.

She read 496 minutes in 14 days, far exceeding her 300 minute goal. She also raised $185 for her school; thank you so much to all of you that supported the cause!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Daily Dose of Cuteness

Brace yourself for some serious cuteness. Crystal captured this on her cell in dance class this week. The girls learned this little number in five minutes for fun.

If you don't smile, it might be time to have your face muscles checked....


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

That Van

If there was ever any doubt that I am a suburban mom, let me just clear that up:
 The van is now fully blinged out with the dance studio bumper magnet, the elementary school bumper magnet, and one for the grassroots organization I joined that works to keep the local food bank stocked.

But wait...there's more! Someone, and if I ever find out who there will be a meaningful conversation had, decided to start a trend around these parts in which children are allowed to put stickers all over the back side windows of their cars. The result from the outside is a white mass of mess and I can only imagine the stickiness of the eventual clean up. The trend is spreading, though, and we've been listening to choruses of pleas about the situation and injustice of their boring back windows. Since I am a sucker for all things festive and holiday, and since it is officially fall, a compromise was reached:
Window clings! From the outside, you really can't see them, but the boring windows have been vanquished. Evan laughs every time he gets in the car, and Issa thinks she pulled off a coup. I'll call that a victory...and we are officially that van.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


One of my mama worries is that I don't get enough time with Evan. I know it's crazy. I'm allowed. Issa and I have ballet, and we have time everyday on the way to school and between school and when we get Evan. Evan and I don't get much one on one time, so when we do, it feels so good.

Yesterday, Issa was playing next door when I picked up Evan, and the little man and I had some high quality time--with bubble gum. He found a couple pieces of that lovely pink gum in the candy bin and asked if he could have it. Since I don't think he's quite ready for that plunge, I tried to explain what it was and why he couldn't have it. I finally decided it was easier to demonstrate. My goal was to prove how hard it was to chew, but then I started blowing bubbles. It's an involuntary response.

What I was not prepared for was Evan response: he cracked up. I'm talking belly laughter that ends in a giggle and a sigh...every time I blew a bubble for the twenty minutes my jaw held up. He literally threw himself back on the couch he was laughing so hard. It was hysterical. I love that full body laugh, and I love that he's still little enough that a bubble can make the world stop, and I love that he and I had that moment yesterday.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dinosaurs, Lions, and Giraffes...oh my!

We decided to take a spontaneous trip to the zoo this weekend! We love our zoo, and we were extra excited because they have a special dinosaur exhibit there right now!
To enter the zoo, we cross a long wooden bridge over a swamp, and this guy was the first critter we saw:
 I do not know how to impress upon you the size of this guy. His shell was probably about three feet long, and he was fast. The kids fell in love.

Our crew:
 There is a giraffe hiding behind Daddy. I would have the shot all lined up, and right when I snapped it the giraffe would move. We did get to see Juma, the giraffe baby, who is huge for a baby and super cute!

It was also great ape weekend, so Issa got to try her hand at making a gorilla nest:
 Brad and I were cracking up watching her make the nest. Other kids were just grabbing branches and making a pile. Issa had heard that some gorillas actually weave their nests, and so she decided to weave hers. The gorilla keeper was giggling and proclaimed it the best nest ever. Issa was very happy.

We finally made it to see the dinosaurs:
 Issa was really excited:
 As was Evan:
 I just love that face. They loved watching the dinosaurs move and listening to the sounds they think they might have made.

This was my favorite:
 Do you see all of those baby t-rexes in that pile of branches? They think the mama t-rexes used to make huge branch piles to hide their babies. For some reason, I find that hysterical.

What I did not find hysterical was getting squirted in the seat by dinosaur "venom," also known as water. As it turns out, some dinosaurs actually sprayed predators or prey with a venom, and these dinosaurs demonstrated that. I missed the sign, and I took a direct shot. My family thought it was hysterical; I did not.

It was an expedition:
 We also saw lions, gorillas, chimps, baboons, and all manner of other creatures. It was a great day!

At the end, the kids wanted to stop by the gift store with their own money that they have been earning. Issa chose this penguin:
 I finally figured it out. Issa is trying to collect four of every kind of animal she has so she has a mommy, daddy, brother, and sister. She is too cute.

Evan chose a gorilla:
He named him Akiba, which is the name of the African entrance to the zoo.

It was a great start to fall, and we have big plans to make at least one more trip before it gets too cold!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Record

The work-life balance this week...not so much happening. The proof:
That has to be a new record. It also doesn't include the load in the washer, the load in the dryer, and the load folded on top. Yes...we had to use beach towels to shower this morning. Good grief. I suppose I should go get on that...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Every once in a while, I am thrilled to be wrong. Yesterday was one of those moments.

I have always believed that while you can teach a lot, there are some things you just can't teach--especially when it comes to teaching. I can teach lesson planning, classroom management, and even how to talk to kids. I didn't think I could teach what we call withitness, the ability to see everything and respond to it all at the same time--often without words. It's that teacher presence, the magic good teachers have that makes a room go quiet with a glance and catches the behavior right before it happens.

I have a student teacher that can plan and she can teach. Give her any content, and she works magic. But...she had been missing that teacher magic. We've been chipping away at it, but she still didn't have that presence. So, we worked on it yesterday. We practiced. I taped. We listened. And then...I put her in front of kids.

She started teaching, and the cooperating teacher left the room. I heard the rumble, and then I saw the magic. She stood a little taller, arched an eyebrow, and the room went quiet. She started teaching, and there was a meaningful look towards a boy who was about to dig through his desk. And the kids engaged. They laughed while they learned, and I saw magic--even when three students vomited.

I was so proud...and so wrong...and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

If You Send a Dad to the Grocery... never know what he is going to bring home. He went for kiwi. He came home with dragon fruit (not pictured) and this:
 It's a horned melon. It has a fancy name, but I forget what it is. The dragon fruit tasted like honeydew embedded with sesame seeds. I don't recommend it. The horned melon was a bit more successful. Daddy did the honors:
 You actually scoop out the insides, and it's almost like a jelly with big seeds. We served it in tart shells:
It tastes a lot like green bananas. Daddy and I are fans. The kids aren't so sure about the texture. And, as a side note, he also did bring home the kiwi.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Beach Birthday

Saturday, we finished the birthday celebration with a trip to the beach. We don't have as many pictures this trip, but we had just as much fun!
Evan is still our sand guy:
 Does life get any better than a bulldozer in the sand?

Issa is still our water girl:
 The water was perfect, and the storms had created a fabulous sand bar about 50 feet off the shore. The water in between was only about thigh high on me and very still. It also meant we were wading in a giant tide pool, and for the first time we got to experience a bit more ocean life. We saw a ton of small fish and watched some fishermen catch their own bait. Issa and I also learned how to catch sand fiddlers:
 A little boy actually taught us, and he was slightly appauled that a grown woman didn't know how to do this. They are like tiny little crabs, and you can find them by the hundreds--literally--once you learn what to look for: little antennae sticking out of the sand.

We ended our trip at the aquarium, which starts with the required alligator picture:
 Evan in the crab:
 Issa in the crab:
 We visited Hrme's friends and relations. (By the way, that is the way we are spelling Hermee these days. Issa wrote it that way, and I decided it's her crab, her spelling.) We also got to pet sting rays, sharks, and anemone--oh my!

Issa posed this picture:
 And this one:
 And the required frog on the way out picture:
There is just nothing better than a trip to the ocean, and this one was a little more special since a hermit crab has joined the family. It's funny to see the kids look for hermit crab shells, and it was the first time they were this intensely curious about ocean life. I'll take it!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Too Sweet

Brace yourself for the cuteness:
This is a page from Evan's "All About Me" book at school. It speaks for itself...just melts this mama's heart.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Happy birthday, Issa!

Issa had a fabulous birthday--as evidenced by the fact that I resigned myself to yoga pants, a sweater, and a day of dragging myself through the utter exhaustion today. That's really the sign of a great birthday, my friends.
Issa's school asks families to bring cupcakes to lunch on birthdays, and I was happy to comply. Issa chose this cupcake cake:
 Does it look familiar? It should. She chose the same design last year. The girl loves some fairies. And...I won some good mom points with Issa's teacher because I brought both heavy napkins for cupcake distribution and baby wipes for icing clean-up. (As a side note, I'm beginning to wonder when I will stop buying wipes, and I'm beginning to think it may coincide with Evan going to college. They are just handy.)

In a moment that simultaneously melted and broke my heart, one of the little boys in Issa's class came up to me after the singing and the eating, and offered me a dollar for the cupcake. I suppressed my giggle, thanked him, but said he really didn't need to pay me for the cupcake. He looked at me with the most earnest eyes and informed me he "would be happy to contribute to Issa's birthday." And so it begins...and for the record I did not take the dollar.

I left the school cupcake-less (hurrah) and ran home to clean up the kitchen from the cake decorating and finish the birthday prep. Issa came home to this:
 She wanted a Shake It Up party, which is a show on Disney she loves. We agreed I could probably handle the logo:
 She really wanted the main characters:
 I know my limits. She was thrilled with the cake, and for those who are counting this is cake five.

As thrilled as she was with the cake, it did not even compare to her gift:
 That, folks, is a hermit crab home. The face says it all.

After she opened her gift, we headed to Chuck E. Cheese for dinner. She and Evan had a blast, and Daddy and I survived. A few highlights because there are no pictures--survival mode prevails every time we go. Evan can shoot a basketball! That kid scored 41 points and six tickets in his best round. His form is actually correct, and he is in love. (My daddy and Gramps were smiling last night.) Issa loves the horse racing games, which is also in her blood. Daddy and I may never be the same after seeing the robotic animal band sing "Life is a Highway." Both kids had a great time there, though, and then we headed to PetSmart to adopt a hermit crab.

Apparently, a hermit crab puts you just over the line into a real adoption with paperwork and everything. It's very formal and very fancy--just ask Issa. She fell in love with Hermee the Hermit Crab:
 Evan kind of likes him, too:
 (Please ignore my filthy chairs. I clearly chose white before children, and there is no point in recovering them until we're through the spilling phase, which may also align with Evan going to college.)

Our evening ended with cake:
And a very, very happy six year old.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, Issa!

A certain someone has a very special day today:
I can't believe my baby needs two hands to display her age. When did she get so big?
The big birthday is off to a roaring start! She woke up to this:
 Nothing says "Happy birthday," quite like a balloon curtain in your doorway. The tooth fairy also made her appearance last night and left another whole dollar in the magic box. What more could a girl ask for?

Let me tell you....a hermit crab. Issa desperately wants a hermit crab for her birthday, and Daddy and I decided to oblige. So yesterday, I spent some time on the interwebs researching the little buggers. Then I headed to PetSmart to procure everything but the crab (we'll get that as a family tonight) and ask my questions. When I walked in, the kid who was in the hermit crab department looked familiar, and he was very helpful. He assured me they are very easy pets, and he showed me the kit we needed and assured me I really didn't need several of the other hermit crab gadgets because I am not planning to breed hermit crabs. (Why oh why would I do that?)

After roughly the ten millionth question, sweet PetSmart kid looks at me and says, "Ma'am, please don't take this the wrong way, but aren't you the lady that fussed her beta fish to death? Hermit crabs are really easy pets, but you can fuss them to death."

Why, yes, PetSmart kid, I am the lady that fussed her beta to death, and I will take this kit and be on my way via the rock I would like to crawl under, thank you very much. You can't make this stuff up, folks.

All of that is to say, Happy Birthday, sweet Issa! We have a big day planned for you, and I hope you have many, many happy returns of the day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Breaking News...

We have some breaking news around here this morning:
Yep. Our girl lost her second tooth this morning. And by lost, I mean I pulled. It has been insanely loose for the past few days, and she was whining this morning that it hurt when she bit into her banana. That is a sure sign it's just time.

I would love to say it was a lovely moment in which her tooth glided into my hand. But it was more a moment of me trying not to scream at my child. She wanted me to pull it, but she wanted me to pull it without touching it. That's highly possible, you know. Then, when I tried to put my hand in there the first time, the little rat actually bit me. Not hard, and I don't think it was intentional. Her nerves just got the better of her. Needless to say, I announced I was out. But...she promised to not bite me again, so I gave it one more try. Voila!

The tooth is already in her magic box awaiting the tooth fairy. It's going to be a very big morning for a certain little girl tomorrow. A birthday and a fairy visit; it doesn't get any better.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Great Birthday Tea Party

Every once in while, something goes really right, and Issa's tea party was really right in every way. The decor...
I made teacup cakes:
 The view from the top:
 The tea cup candles were a huge hit, and the cups matched two of the cups on her plates.

The tea party buffet:
 We made build your own tarts:
 The shells were pie crusts cut with flower cookie cutters and baked in muffin tins. The girls then put vanilla yogurt and fresh fruit inside.

Cheddar biscuits and princess punch:
 And a big empty table for the party:
 The big activity was making their own tea party hats:
 Issa was very excited to get everything laid out for her friends:
 We had fabulous flowers, feathers, ribbons, and birds. Let me tell you, there were some fancy hats.

The empty boxes looked very cute around our big tea set:
 The boxes were on standby for the pinata loot.

And most importantly, the birthday girl:
 This is what the girls saw as they entered:
 Please notice the pinata!

As the girls arrived, they set straight to hat making:
 It is very serious business:
 Very fancy:
After the hats were finished, we decided to let them dry while the girls (and Evan) pulled the pinata:
 Thank goodness for Daddy:
 The bottom of the pot ripped off just as planned, but the treats were stuck inside. Oops. He shook everything loose, and only one child got bonked with a bubble ring. The girls found this process hysterical. Somewhere in here I was declared the best mom ever. It made my heart very happy.

Once the loot had been examined and squealed over, the girls had their tea party and opened gifts. It was fun to see how the gifts paralleled the relationships Issa has with each girl. Dance, art, dress up. Very cute.

Then, it was time for cake:
 And then the real highlight. Shelby and Miss Crystal gave Issa a glitter tattoo kit, and Issa decided everyone needed tattoos:
  Miss Steph also stopped by and got drafted into helping:
 And Daddy got conned into participating:
 You have to love a man with a sparkly pink unicorn on his bicep.

The girls ended the party playing dress up upstairs and just being them. It was lovely.

When the party was officially over, those that had to leave did, and Daddy decided that the neighbors should stay for pizza:
We sat at the table in the kitchen and listened to the girls play and laugh in the other room. It was just a purely perfect day. Issa declared it the best birthday party ever, and nothing made me happier than seeing her smile. Happy birthday, sweet girl.