Spring should be for flowers

You guys, it is that time again….the time for spring sports. If you will recall, two years ago Zach started playing soccer at the Y and I was first introduced to the horror that is sports.  Last year, he played basketball which was marginally better, but getting him there still required a LOT of negotiating. Soccer in the fall was better than that, and we were headed in right direction but I still would not call it good. So when Alex wanted to sign him up for basketball I had to stifle a scream. I wanted him to do tennis or karate, something perhaps more individualized to try, and Alex agreed to that “in the spring”. Plus, Zach did say he wanted to play basketball, when we asked him.

THEN my friend Mary asked if we were going to play Little League. I said, yes, in the spring. Well, it turns out the spring is winter. We had to register him before January 1 or pay an extra $100. AND they changed the rules so he has to play as a 7 year old. We figured if he was going to do it, this year would be do it. We already missed coach pitch and actual tee ball and it only gets more competitive as they get older.  I am openly hoping he will not like it and we can scratch one sport off the list.

James so aptly personifies my feelings on all these games and practices.

We just can’t even.

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We are in the thick of it now and I DO NOT have a good attitude about it. Basketball has come to an end, but baseball feels never ending. I am kinda hesitant to trash it though, as those people seem to weld a lot of power and while I don’t think Zach wants to play again, I don’t want him to be blackballed (no pun intended) because his crazy mom ran her mouth on the internet. I feel they could make that happen….

So I will leave you with a photo of Zach at bat.

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It is pretty cute, if you don’t have to be there.

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!

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:
2013
2012
2011
2010
 James:
2013
2012

A Week with a Kindergartner

Last week Zach had no camps, and James was in school until 2, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Zach had been looking forward to this week for a few weeks, as I told him we could do whatever he wanted – this was his week.
I was looking forward to it as well, as it has recently hit me how much he will be in school in a few short weeks. His school day is 8-3:15. He can totally handle that much time, but it is big kid school. For real school that you can’t cut or be late to for valid reasons like your mom is too tired to pour you cereal. I wanted to have this time with him, just he and I, like we used to be. Plus just having one five year old is a piece of cake! No bathroom assistance needed. 

The first place he wanted to go was to the children’s museum. Murder. 
I am just over the museum. Oh, it is awesome, don’t get me wrong. There is so much to do and super cool educational stuff, blah, blah, I am just over it. We have been going since Zach could sit up. We would meet our playgroup up in the Tot Spot (where James went maybe twice) and let our first babies stare at themselves in the mirrors while we analyzed their sleep schedules and debated what kind of diapers really were the most absorbent.
But off we went. We made the vinyl mask and cape you see above, we climbed the huge climbing structure; we played a matching game and a fractions game. He loved every minute of it and wanted to go back the next day. We did not. We had grocery shopping and dentist appointments to keep us busy.
Wednesday I made him go to the kid’s center at the Y so I could do my Pilates/yoga class, and then we headed over to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 at the movie theater. We snuck in lunch and bought popcorn, drinks and sour patch kids. The movie ended right about the time James was done at school so we scooped him up and headed home. Don’t think the Walls are done with their day, it was only 2 pm. We had two more activities planned – all before dinner. We went and swam with our friends in the neighborhood (Hi Whitney!) and then took dinner over to a friend who had a baby (Hi Amanda!). I totally overstayed both places, as is my way and we didn’t get home until after six. Whoopsies. 
Thursday, blissfully, both boys went to Discover Gymnastics in the morning and I relished my glorious two and a half hours of alone time for the week. I got a bit over relaxed in those two hours and totally dropped the ball on swim lessons. Whoopsies again.
Friday, with James back in school, Zach and I headed back out to Splashtown with Ashley, Charley, Jen and Tyler. We went in May for Charley’s birthday and Zach loved it. I did not. I don’t like water parks. I don’t like the rides, they terrify me. My dad would tell me I am being a chicken, and he would be right. I am fully convinced I will flip out of my tube, my contacts will fly out of my eyes and I will drown. Nothing in between that could happen. The park is actually very nice and clean, with a great little kid’s area that our kids could do all on their own. I think even James would like that section.  
My first water park experience was actually better than I thought until one ride in particular. It was a covered tube ride that you go down in an inner tube. Charley refused to go down it and I insisted I would stay with her so that Ashley would not miss out. I am such a generous friend, as you all know me to be. So Ashley walked up 384 steps with Zach and about five minutes later she comes shooting out one of the slides. Then we wait on Zach. And we wait. A few more people come down, and then the lifeguard at the bottom blows her whistle to shut down the slide saying, “A little boy is stuck”. Holy shit. That is my little boy. And he is stuck in a dark slide many feet up in the air. The lifeguard confirms what he looks like and which tube he would be coming down (via Ashley) and runs up the steps. Meanwhile I am trying not to scream and position myself in front of the slides so when he comes out, I am the first thing his terrified face sees. 
About that time the life guard comes shooting out of the pink slide. Ashley, almost nicely, reminds her that he is in the yellow one. Up she darts again and down she comes in the yellow. At this point Ashley takes matters into her own hands and runs up the steps, coming down a few minutes later with Zach on her lap. Laughing. 
Another mom comments that she can’t believe that mother (Ashley) is staying so calm when her child is stuck in the slide. “Oh that is me”, I replied. I am the mom. Only one of us needed to be freaking out and Ashley had that covered for me. She really is generous.
Turns out that he was not stuck. They would not let him go down as the lifeguard (and I use that term loosely) at the top didn’t realize he was with Ashley and that she had gone down first. So once Ashley got to the top, she grabbed him, plopped him on her lap, with a warning to the lifeguard not to stop her and flew down the slide. Zach was none the wiser, while Ashley and I were both shaken and needed to take a break.
Later in the week Ashley calls Splashtown to discuss how the guard at the top handled the situation. Again, yes, this is not her child, don’t make a big deal. They end up giving her six passes for the park. So just to reiterate – we got six free passes to the park for Zachary NOT getting stuck in the tube slide. She is such a good friend on so many levels.
Luckily, no one got stuck this trip (I still refused to go down that ride) and I screamed my face off on the one ride I did go on, that my throat was sore for days. Days! And we all know how loud I talk anyway.
At least I was not traumatized this time. And my week was a success. Zach had fun, we got to spend one-on-one time together and hopefully I don’t have to go to Splashtown anytime soon. 

It got really hot in here

For James’s birthday party this year (vs. his actual birthday celebrated at Chuck-e-Cheese), I decided to do hold the weekend after his birthday aka not on the 4th of July weekend. We rented the same giant water slide from his first birthday which arrived at 7:00 am that morning. The boys slept until 8 (which they never do). I am not the least bit bitter about it, can’t you tell? I guess we did get our money’s worth!

So, it turns out that if you have a party on a non-holiday weekend, people show up. Like, a lot of people. We had about 24 kids plus their corresponding parents in my house.  Not outside, but IN my house. The water slide lasted exactly 30 minutes for the majority of the kids (except Miles, thankfully). The three year olds started it by coming inside and insisting on getting dressed. Not just to get cool, no, they wanted to get fully changed.

Vince was the lifeguard at the bottom of the slide, making sure that kids waited their turn and didn’t go down head first. Liv stood at the front door welcoming everyone inside. This was after she had iced all the cupcakes. Where was I? Talking to all my friends and trying to pretend it was not 82 degrees in the house. I told them both that I didn’t know what I would have done without them!

James wanted to have Team Umizoomi as his theme this year. Well, technically he wanted Umizoomi and Spider-Man both as themes. No. You get one theme and we go with it. My one concession was to let him have a left over Spider-Man candle on top of his pink cupcake.

Generous. I am so, so generous.

James is very into pink everything this year, so he only wanted pink cupcakes. Obviously, I ignored that and had Liv ice them in pink, green and blue; the Umizoomi colors. Topped with some rings from Etsy, and they were done.

For the party favors, I kept it simple and just grabbed a bunch of James’s favorite things, figuring what one three year old likes, others would as well. So in went a lollipop, cheddar-blasted Goldfish, a bouncy ball and fruit snacks. Side note: James 100% balked at my organic fruit snacks. Sorry, party goers.

Team Umizoomi is a team of tiny super heros that save Umicity using math. I am not kidding. They do a lot of measuring, counting and geometry. Geo does a lot of shape creating via his shape belt. I found a link on Pinterest to make belts like the one that Geo wears. It is orange with shapes all around it. I, of course, have no pictures of mine, because I finished them the night before.

For the record I would like to state that I whole-heartedly disagree with the no-favors moment. I am sure I actually didn’t need to state that, you all get me. I love to do the favors. It is fun for me. I don’t care what other people give out (at all) and you could throw a bag of chips at my children and they would scream, “BEST FAVORS EVER!!”. So again, let’s all just calm down.

You guys, I can’t even tell you how hot it got in my house. I was sweating like a fool. Everyone was crowded into the hottest part of my house (on a good day it is 77 degrees back here) and opening and closing the doors. I was so mortified. However,  no one (but the pregnant lady, sorry Lanie!) seemed in a hurry to leave, so I guess everyone was just used to be hot in July.

The finale of the party was a piñata . Oh, you are wondering where it is? Alex is holding it. In his hands. While James swings a bat at him.

So, a homemade piñata was not part of my party vision. Especially a tiny one that was not strong enough to be hung on a rope.

The weekend before the party, Zach asked if we could make a piñata, for fun. I said sure and looked up how to make paper mache. We had an old Chick-fil-a helium balloon lazily floating around the house, so I grabbed that we set to work. I didn’t add glue to the mix, because this was just for fun! It didn’t need to be strong!

We got elbow deep in paper mache, coating the entire balloon. We let it dry, Zach painted it, then we popped the balloon. About this time Alex walked in and said, “Oh, you guys are making a piñata for James’s party!” Zach got so excited and what I could do? Say, ummmm, sorry, but this is not my vision plus I did the paper mache wrong? Nope, hence us having a globe looking ball for an Umizoomi birthday party that pulled off its string a minute before we tried to hang it up.

The boys and I went to the store and I let them pick two kinds of hard candy to include. And really, all the kids liked it and Alex got his due for suggesting it, by having to hold it.

I need to stop calling him a baby

James turned three and I have not really processed it yet. I mean, I have, clearly we had two parties to celebrate, but I still think of him as my baby. Especially since I am trying to finish our 2012 photo album and keep seeing photos like this one.

But he is not that chubby faced baby of one, he is now three. With many opinions that he will share with you via a very loud voice and some exceptionally close talking.

On his actual birthday we had breakfast at Einstein’s and then he went to school, armed with pink cupcakes for his class. He wanted to go only one place for dinner, Chuck-e-Cheese. Of course. I invited Vince and Liv to come join us for the festivities. As if anyone could turn down animatronic mice and pizza. Vince came in early and took the boys to see Rio 2, as a birthday treat, which was an extra treat for me, since I just got to meet them at Chuck’s at 6.

James’s teacher’s made him this birthday crown that he decorated and wore most of the evening.

 Our family gets very intense on the basketball games.

 And cheating, that is totally, totally cheating, Zachary.

 What night would not be complete without a family photo in a parking lot?

So maybe our family gets intense on most games…given the photo of James on the motorcycle, Alex and Zach playing basketball, and me killing giant spiders attacking my jeep. They had already killed my guides!

Everyone, just calm down.

I stumbled upon a post from a blogger that I follow who created a theme for her year. I can’t be sure I am that warm and fuzzy, but then I saw this image from the January Oprah magazine.

It just spoke to me, so I tore it out and pinned it (with an actual pin) to the wall where I keep my jewelry. You know, for inspiration. I had been out of work six months, the holidays were over (thankfully) and now what? What did I want to do now? Do more blogging? Wear lipstick again? The world was my oyster – three days a week for four hours. What can I make happen?

Nothing, I have made nothing happen, but luckily this is not a blog post about that.

What this post is about is that 2014 is not so much about making things happen, but about the need for people to calm down. I can’t fix myself, but I can sure tell others what they need to do. And it is calm. down.

It became crystal clear that was the real theme, when I read this article about screen time, AKA the new hot topic for preschoolers. Having everything BPA free and organic is so 2013. It is screen time, screen time and screen time. This was just one of many posts I have read in the past year. Starting with “Dear mom on the iPhone” followed quickly with “Dear mom on the iPhone: you are doing fine“.

The article that settled in under my skin is not from a blog I follow, but I can guarantee you that the blogger is a wonderful woman and mom who is only trying to encourage and remind us exhausted mothers to not always give into the screen. And I know that some of us listened and took it to heart and are now better mothers.

However, after reading it the first thing that came to mind was – calm down. I mean, I love the points she makes for her kids and I totally want mine to think I want that.

“I want to talk to you when we are out to eat. I want to listen to your questions. I want to have training opportunities. I want to allow space for conversation that can take us deeper. And if you are always distracted with electronics, well… I might miss those moments.”

But right now, I don’t want that. I don’t want to answer any more questions. I don’t want to train. I don’t want deep conversations, I have them every time we are in the car (today it was why the homeless man is hungry and where did he get the cardboard). But I do recognize that, my kids are little and we are together all the time, so surely once they are bigger and not coming to me to pull up their underwear I will want all that she talks about.

I think it is more than that for me, though. I, personally, think technology is such a wonderful gift. Yes, can it be overused, but so can cookies. No one writes post after post about how cookies are evil and when people see kids with cookies they get sad for their future.  Calm down.

Think about how our mom’s had it rough. Imagine this if you will….Mom has to drag a sick kid to the doctor. She has taken off work, or has another kid in tow. They all have to wait for an hour,  with no way to entertain the children. She has read all the books in the place and all the ones she brought with her. The kids have eaten all the snacks and are now fighting. She had no recourse. You know what we have? Iphones. I can pull out my phone and within seconds everyone is quiet. I can take a minute to calm myself down and we don’t get kicked out of the waiting room.

Same goes for restaurants. I don’t bring the iPad with us, but I know plenty of parents who do and I don’t judge one bit. Because I pull out my phone in a similar situation to above. If the kids are finished eating and are starting to get rowdy, I take no shame in wanting to eat a meal without yelling. Plus, this is the benefit of the technology. We have to suffer with the dangers and grossness of the digital age; shouldn’t we at least get to enjoy the perks? Again, let’s just all calm down.

This weekend, I took the boys swimming out at their grandparent’s house and Liv wanted to see if the boys would like the books she downloaded for them. The one they are reading is about an otter that did something (I was on Facebook when they were reading and not really paying attention). But about every other page had an embedded link to a video of different types of otters swimming. They were enthralled. We don’t have otters at the Houston Zoo, so they could not see them in person.

I don’t really have a great and eloquent point to my rambling (no one is surprised). Plus, I could go on and on about how there are much bigger problems affecting America’s children, but I think that would circle me back to cookies and I am not taking a stand against those either.

I would just like it if we could all calm down and realize that the majority of parents are doing the best they can. We can’t begin to know what they deal with at home, why would we judge what they do in public?