The End is Near

Zach has one more soccer game before the season is over. FINALLY.

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Don’t get me wrong, this year is much better than last year, when he was four, James was two and I wanted to die. There has been basically no crying, except for when he has gotten “hurt” and marginally no complaining. He likes the games a lot but not the practices – which is totally normal. Plus, my dad got some great action shots of him where he looks like a for-real athlete!

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The downsides are the twice a week hour long practices at dinnertime. With James. But even that has been OK. They practice at an elementary school near us and like the helicopter mom I am, I let James climb and play on the playground 50 yards from me. Independence, that is what I am fostering.

But it was still just a lot of soccer. Lots of practice, lots of games, lots of sweaty soccer socks.

We had a great coach this year. Coach Brett lives on the street behind us and is the most positive supportive coach you could be lucky enough to get. Because that is how we did it – luck. I had to stop being so effusive about how great he was given I live with Zach’s last soccer coach and didn’t want him to take it totally personally.

For the end of the season, I put myself in charge of the thank you gift and made him this personalized water bottle and card with an Academy gift card from the full team inside. I love my team parents – they all just said “Sounds great!” and let me do what I want. You know those are my favorite kind of people.

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And since I have no boundaries, when one of the other moms asked what I did for our coach, as she was in charge for her other son’s team, I suggested the water bottle for him too. Naturally.

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Though at first sight “Coach Todd” looks kind of like  “Coach Toad”…perhaps I should have chosen a different font…

Click over to Teacher Gifts if you would like to order one for the coach in your life!

Halloween with a Power Ranger and Ninja Turtle

Zach and James were pretty set on their Halloween costumes this year. James insisted on being the red power ranger and Zach wanted to be the red ninja turtle. I didn’t post the photos on Facebook because I started drinking and forgot to take photos of my children. Luckily I have a new friend who saved me. These are her twins in the photo as a Texan and a Skylander.

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We hit two Halloween parties (because we like to challenge ourselves) which only served to pump the boys up even more for the trick or treating. At the second one we tried to force a piece of pizza in their faces, but I think I was the only one who ate. As soon as it was dusk, it was on.

You guys, it was all Lord of the Flies in our ‘hood.  Zach, the twins and some other boys were sprinting house to house up and down the street. People were everywhere and some streets were closed to cars. Parents were pulling wagons for little kids or coolers, or both in our case. We kept running into kids from both the boys schools and other random friends. It was like one long block party.

I legitimately lost Zach for about 10 minutes. Lost. No clue where he was. We were on my street, but a block down. We all know that I am not a hoverer, but even I was getting slightly concerned. Luckily he was still with the gang of boys. They had stopped for a candy break in an open lawn. I am sure the neighbors were thrilled.

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James and the twin’s little sister were slower on the take. James kept falling down in his costume (I don’t think he could see) then rolling around the yards just for fun. Finally he got the idea and he too started running house to house. I put Alex on him as clearly I am not fit to be in charge in the dark.

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When we decided to head back home, we ran into one of Zach’s classmates and his dad. We convinced him (with an alcoholic beverage) to trick or treat down to our house. The boys were so cute handing out candy, including some from their own bags. They sat out on the front stairs and forced everyone walking by to take some.

I can safely say this was the best Halloween so far. Everyone could basically do it on their own, the weather was perfectly cool and they could make it staying up so late. Except I do miss the angry parrot from three years ago…

Goal for next year – arm Zach with something to call me with when I lose him. Good thing he knows my number.

We were this close

I have been hiding something from James.  Back in summer I bought tickets to see Katy Perry. Katy Perry, the singer of James’s favorite song, Roar. I knew he would be so pissed if he found out.

My friend Laura is a big Katy Perry fan (“no one is bigger than Katy Perry” she maintains) so she emailed me and a few other people who solely listen to 95.7 in Houston.  I would not have called myself a giant Katy Perry fan, but what else would I have been doing on October 10th? Putting children to bed? Getting yelled at by James? No thank you. I decided I preferred to be with thousands of other people’s children.

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You guys, it did not disappoint. Laura got us tickets on the fifth row. FIVE ROWS FROM KATY PERRY. I had no idea. But, when you go to a pop star concert at 36 you might as well be on the 5th row. You can finally afford it. So can these gentlemen who arrived with their twenty-something “girlfriends” and sat in the 4th row.

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I don’t know why I have not been sitting that close my entire life. I mean, I do, but having done it, I totally should have used my rent money to get closer to the Indigo Girls. We could see the sweat on her dancers and got hit with so much confetti.

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And because I am 36 I can also afford all the Katy Perry merchandise I want, like this “shirt” that I call a sleep shirt. Who would wear that in public? It is like a super short dress but too long for a shirt. I do not understand these teenagers. But I love their music.

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And my children love the Katy Perry flashing wands I purchased them. They flash and strobe and you can wear it around your neck. Again, what teenager would want this? My five and three year olds think they are light sabers and love them.

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I recorded her singing Roar for James and he lit up when watching it. Luckily he didn’t understand that I got to see her this close and he didn’t.

Everyone needs a monogrammed pumpkin

And some greenery to nestle it in. Clearly.

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Last year around this time I was gifted with the cutting machine that would change my life. I know I am prone to exaggeration, but not this time. When my friend Courtney asked if I wanted her Silhouette machine I had no idea how much I would love it or use it. As in, I use it all the time.

Since she would not let me pay her for it, I made her a monogrammed pumpkin. How else would one say “thank you”?

Then, I made myself a little one to go next to my purple skeleton head and glass jar of more mini-pumpkins on the mantle. Alex just pretended like his life was not happening. But it is, ALEX. You have a purple glass skeleton head on your mantle.

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This year, I made one for my sister as you know I don’t like for her to be left out/she needs more decorations.

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And for my friend Maria. She is part of the Blue Pumpkin Project, which raises awareness of kids with food allergies. I love how the pumpkins look together!

If you don’t have a monogrammed pumpkin, now is the time to get one. The fake pumpkins are on sale at every craft store and the vinyl letters are so inexpensive on Etsy.

I thought it was a good idea

Zach has been in school now for six weeks now. Part of me can’t believe it has been that long and another part of me is already ready for a break. This getting up early thing is for the birds. Well, when you have grumps in the morning it is. Like myself.

It takes the boys about five minutes to really wake up. There is the turning on of the lights and me shaking them, but after about five minutes they are fully awake. And talking. On the other hand, it takes me like an hour to be awake. I am not exaggerating. I am actually being generous with the hour statement.

So I try to put on a “mommy is awake face” (I don’t ask for comments on how that is going) and push on. They get up, get dressed and then eat breakfast. At 7:30, breakfast has to be done to get shoes on, brush teeth and head to the garage.

Where we get on the bikes.

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Anyone who talked to me during the summer, knows how excited I was to bike to school. I can’t remember why now.

I have a bike trailer which James rides in, but not happily. Every. Single. Morning, he cries that he does not want to go. Please keep in mind we are a 4 minute ride from the school. We ride there, walk Zach in and ride back. it is like 15 minutes tops. Then we come back and James gets to play or watch a show before his school starts at 9. It does not matter. Every day, without fail, James will have a fit about some part of our morning routine. Most mornings I fly down our driveway with him screaming about how he does not want to go. People are going to start thinking I am a kidnapper.

One morning I decided to Love and Logic him with acceptable consequences and let him wear his pajamas and no shoes into Zach’s school. He was thrilled. I was not.

So I tried suggesting he ride his scooter home. This, obviously, took about ten minutes of negotiating on where he would be able to get out of the trailer (not on the street near school with all the traffic) and if he had to wear a helmet (yes).

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Success! This option worked well for a while, we could take all the time we needed to get home, no rushing and it ate up the time between drop offs.

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Then he got tripped up by an acorn, fell over the scooter and that option was done. It was a slight scrape, but you would have thought he broke something. Again, my neighbors might be calling CPS soon.

Plus there is the sweat. Oh my Lord the sweat. You would not think going less than a mile at a casual pace would make a girl sweat – but then you would not know me. This humidity is killing me. When we get home I have to put on all new clothes. Usually just more exercise clothes, obviously.

Then I drive James up to his school for his 9:00 am start time. As you might have guessed – he does not want to go there either. He finally stopped crying two weeks ago. As in, after he had been in school (THE SAME SCHOOL HE HAS ATTENDED SINCE HE WAS ONE) for four weeks. I mean, I love that I am his favorite and clearly he knows something the rest of you don’t and wants to hang out with me all the time, but dude, cut a mom some slack and be cool. I will be back in four hours.

So by 9:15-9:30 I feel like I have worked out, I have done a ton of negotiating and taken two modes of transportation. I am beat. Just reading this post exhausts me.

But Zach loves to bike. Loves it. I bought him a combination lock which uses a four letter word vs numbers for the code. I set it as one of his sight words he was struggling with and felt like the mom of the universe. Until I had to keep telling him it over and over while sweating at the bike lock. L-I-K-E. I don’t.

I think if I was more of a morning person this would be great. Zach is in a great mood in the morning. He is super chatty and wants to tell me all sorts of things about bugs and poop. I just have a really hard time wanting to hear it at 7:40 am.

But this was totally my idea and he is fully on-board. Plus, we all know I would just be sweating getting he and James in and out of the car in the morning. I am an equal opportunity sweater – Alex is so, so lucky to have me.

And I do like the ride home. While hot and stickyer, I love to hear the things he did that day when they are fresh in his mind. We go slower and chat the whole way. That sort of makes up for the morning. Sort of.

Not just a pretty face

If you are in my moms group (hi friends!) or paid attention my leaving note on my other blog (hi friends with attention to detail!) you have heard that I am starting a small business selling teacher gifts. As one of the husbands said, including mine, what exactly are you doing?

Valid question husbands.

Before I left work, I was forcing encouraging my boss to make this latte card for her daughter’s teachers. She said off-hand that I should start a business selling teacher gifts. I could not imagine taking anything else on at the time, so I just waved the idea off.  Then this past summer my friend Beth, who started selling the Rodan + Fields skin care line, wanted to partner with me to make end of summer gifts for teachers using the R+F sunscreen. We both loved the idea, but seeing as she lives in Baton Rouge, we just could not make it work.

But I decided to do a small test run of making various gifts for the end of the school year. I contacted some moms I know that are too busy for this stuff and/or don’t want to deal with M&Ms in a jar. I created a quick PDF and also had a link to my teacher gift Pinterest board. Everyone really liked the gifts I dropped off at their offices/homes, with instructions for them to take complete credit for it. My friend Allie even sent me some referrals (thank you again Allie!).

You guys, it was fun. I loved it actually.

Oh, but did I mention I sort of forgot to tell Alex about it? Whoopsies. I just felt silly for some reason and thought he would not think it was a good idea, so instead of being a grown up and telling him, I just went about my business (pun intended) and left him in the dark. He did not say ask any questions as to why our kitchen table was covered in bags, beach towels, insulated cups and glass jars. Not a peep. I do love him so for not questioning my crazy crafting. His attempt to avoid my crazy is one of my favorite things about him.

Don’t worry, I did finally tell him, but he insists on referring to it as my super-secret business.

So what am I doing exactly? Well, if you look up on the black ribbon under the heading of the blog, you will see Teacher Gifts.

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There I have my five offerings. The way it works is that you pick which item you would like and I create it for you and deliver it to your work or home. OK, I really could have just led with that sentence and saved you all a ton of time.

Anyway, if you don’t like those offerings or they don’t fit with what you need, you can send me a link to most anything on Pinterest, either on my board or others and I can re-create them for you. And, as always, I deliver!

I also have links to many of the printables here on the blog too. On the right hand side under Blog Categories, you can click either Printables, for all printable things, teacher and otherwise, or Teacher Gifts, which is pretty self-explanatory.

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PS are you loving my use of the Snipping Tool?

That is enough business talk for a while, back to stories of me getting peed on and run out of places.

But when you need a teacher gift, I hope you will think of me!

Don’t push me, MFAH

During the summer all over my Instagram feed were pictures with the #sotosummer. You all know I don’t like to be left out so I had to find out what this was, how could I do it and then post it on Instagram myself. I have total FOMO, in case you didn’t already know.

Once I realized it was at the Museum of Fine Arts my stomach sank. I am not on the best of terms with the MFAH. I mean, I am allowed in (so far) but they are not happy to see me coming.

Back in the spring, I took the boys one afternoon. Zach is very into art and I packed some crayons and drawing pads and thought he could draw what he saw as we walked around the museum. You would have thought we walked in carrying spray paint for the amount of stares we received and the number of docents following us around.

I mean, I get it, the art is priceless and the sculptures are old. However, I have a little boy who is fascinated with art and in whom I would like to cultivate a love of art. Can you give us some breathing room, Nancy?

But I do also have James.  A three year old who wants to touch, climb, smell, lick and caress everything.  He may or may not have darted up to what he thought was a wall, pushed against it an almost fell into a sculpture. It was metal, like it would have been hurt. But Nancy was NOT pleased.

I left with such a horrible feeling about the place. I felt like a bad mother because I have a three year old and like a failure for even trying to do something with art for Zach. Instead of getting sad about these feelings, I turned them into anger at the museum.

So when I decided we were going to the Soto exhibit, you know I went in guns hot. Don’t even come over here Nancy, I will cut you and your blunt cut bob.

To be clear, the exhibit is “A vast, floating sea of plastic strands suspended from the ceiling…”. Basically plastic spaghetti. My boys were enthralled. They walked (not ran) through it with their arms stretched out, they got lost in it and called to each other (not yelled) and we reunited in the middle to lay down and look up.

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But we were not alone….Nancy was back and brought Ray with her this time. At one point James was holding up the end of the strands and connecting them together to see if they were the same size. Ray rushed over and told me “He can’t be tugging on those, ma’am”. I did not even hesitate in my stare down of Ray and told him he was not. I was not going to get into it the fact that by James holding them up, it in fact took pressure off the hanging strands aka the opposite of “tugging”. He continued to stare and I continued to not tell James to stop.

And the boys loved the exhibit.

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I loved that they got to experience the art, touch it, wander through and enjoy it. They didn’t know about the anxiety I was feeling nor did they notice Nancy watching them.

As it should be, NANCY…..

Kindergarten is not messing around

So Zach has been in big time Kinder for four weeks now. We are starting to settle into a routine a bit and he is getting more comfortable in his class, aka he is getting in trouble for talking. We all knew this would happen, how could I possibly be surprised or mad given who his parents are? Plus I can distinctly remember my mother exclaiming to me, in a very exasperated tone, “Kinsey, can you just stop talking?” after I had my color changed from green to yellow to red for talking to Mindi Miller. I could not. Physically, I could not. I had SO much to say that she just HAD to hear, right that second. I still have fairly terrible impulse control.

But this is not about me (who are we kidding, blog readers, it always about me).

In his class, the only homework so far is to practice his sight words and read for 20 minutes. He can’t read so that means I have to read to him for 20 minutes. I clearly count the five minutes we read with James before bed, so I have made it 15. Now, we also have to write down one book he read and rate it. I thought this was merely a suggestion when the “Guided Reading” sheet came home, because as stated, he can’t read anything except “Subway” and “Chick-fil-A” on his own, but whoopies, no. He was supposed to fill it out. Luckily he knew this and reminded me the night before it was due. So he ran and got seven books that we have read at some point and we wrote them down and rated them. He kept wanting to check the box to show that he read it and I was all, “buddy, if you want to read it then learn to read”…he was not pleased with my suggestion. IMG_4653During open house with the teacher she gave us the list of 68 sight words they would be learning over the year, two a week. You all know I had restrain myself from printing them out that night. But I managed and the next day the second I dropped off James I got out my laminator and I was ready. You see, I found a link to a blog where the mom set up the sight words for printing complete with the traceable version on the back. I heart her, we are clearly crafting soul mates.

My mom read something when I was in elementary school about children memorizing better when a word is written on yellow paper versus white. I can still remember have nightmares about writing all my spelling words out on yellow index cards. So, I found two pieces of yellow cardstock and printed two sets on those. You can only imagine my disappointment in not having more than two pieces of yellow cardstock. How was that possible? I could not roll my eyes harder at myself. Luckily, as my mom says, the store had not run out so I was able to secure more the next day.

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Can you see my vision coming together?

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I love my laminator so hard. Even though, similar to the paper cutter, it is too small and I will need to be upgrading at some point it gets the job done. Plus, it is cute and can also make stickers.

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Darling, right? Wait, are sight words supposed to be darling? Don’t answer that.

And here is the issue with my darling flashcards….the list is for the Dolch Sight Words and Zach’s sight words are not the Dolch sight words, or not all of them are. So I have 64 laminated flash cards that may or may not be on his list. Of course. Of course I do. So now, for the ones I didn’t have I had to write them on the yellow card stock and make the tracing ones with little lines that are totally not up to my standards, but will have to do.

I hole punched them all and have them hanging on a ring ready to go. We flip through them each night and he reads them, spells them and uses them in a sentence. We may or may not trace them, depending on time. We have to get to our 20 minutes of reading after all.

Just in case you want to kiss up

I am really not on board with the “first day of school gifts”.  How could that not be sucking up, loud and clear? (This is foreshadowing, in case you are wondering). What I am in favor of, is a thank you gift for putting up with my child all summer AND yeah new school year. That clearly is not sucking up. Not in the least.

Last year I gave the teachers doughnuts in a cute container and it was a big hit. This year, I made this label for my friend Sonia. She needed something for the crossing guard at her daughter’s school (they have required drop-off and pick-up; a dream). Since men like smoothies, I suggested Smoothie King and with a card reading: “Thank you for making our days run smoothly”. I love a good pun.

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I have since made another one for Zach’s Kindergarten teacher with a gift to a local, kid friendly yogurt store (she has twin first graders) that says:

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So maybe I am on board with first day of school gifts….

Really, I am on board with gifts for teachers in most settings. Especially when they involve gift cards and me getting to make something. Plus, Zach’s first week was tough. I think he handled it great, but I know that is largely due to his teacher being so warm, calm and supportive. I can imagine her week and I thought a little treat for her family over the long weekend, was not too out of control. But my concept of “out of control” can tend to be skewed, I have been told.

In case you want to kiss up be supportive of your teacher, here is a link to the printable of the first card.

School’s back

You guys, I have a kindergartner, how is that possible when I am only 26 years old? And how is it possible this guy is in big-time elementary school?

His smiles were much more genuine then, but he still has the ability to shrink his eyes to 1/8th their normal large size when he smiles. He gets that from me – he is so lucky.

This is not going to be a weepy long post about my oldest starting kinder. Mainly because it has been done for me and I don’t really do weepy. This post is my favorite first day of school ones (not weepy, just funny) and this one made me cry. Everything has been said and it is all true. However, I didn’t cry, I practically danced out of the school and once I dropped James off, the only thing going through my head was:

I then spent an hour and a half at the grocery store (I had to make two trips and chat with friends) went to an eye doc appointment and prepped dinner. I could not have been happier. I then made what I thought was an awesome snack which both my children refused to eat asking instead for cheese and crackers. Naturally they did, it is the standard Wall snack. No worries, I polished off three to make myself feel better.

My friends keep asking me how I am doing, with a sympathetic look in their eye and I tell them I am fine. I am EXCITED. These boys are used to being in school. Zach likes it, James does as well once he gets past me not being there (I am awesome in his eyes, more of you should cry when I leave). Zach is so social and has oh, so many questions, he is a great fit for more schooling. He has already come home asking me to be sure to read him the author and the illustrator of the books we read before bed and has learned the sight word ‘am’. Kindergarten = success.

Oh there have some hiccups too. Like getting up early. No one in our family is thrilled with this plan and we are pretty terrible at it. But luckily since Zach has to wear a uniform (basically, he can chose from khaki or navy shorts and a red, navy or white shirt) him getting dressed is fairly easy. When he does not get distracted by legos or something. And since they eat lunch at 10:40 I don’t really worry if he doesn’t eat all that much breakfast.

We have been riding our bikes to school, since we live less than a mile away. My sister says I am such a stereotype. Totally. I just need some pedal pushers (now called skinny pants) and I could be a 1950s housewife.

Except that on the way home, this guy sneaks my phone out from the pocket and plays games on it.

He also started school and did great for about three days then realized that this was also for real. He goes every day and staged a revolt (see paragraph above about my awesomeness). The revolt involved full body convulsions on the floor and a piercing scream to go with it. You would not know it from these angelic photos, but he is a beast when he wants to be. Which is anytime I tell him “no”.

Happy first weeks of school my friends!

Here is the look back at the boys first days of school and the best example of the fact that clearly I birthed twins, 2.5 years apart.

Zach:
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 James:
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