Done and done!

You guys, I am beat! I am so glad this last week of school is over. I mean, not really as I am staring down “17 sleeps”, as they say in Zach’s kindergarten class, with my children but glad that this hectic week is winding down.

Why so hectic, Kinsey? You are not trying to boss people around at work AND make teacher gifts for the end of the year AND figure out what to bring to the holiday party at their school AND oh, crap what to give to your co-workers. So, so true, my friends.

However, what I was doing was making those teacher gifts so that other mom’s didn’t have to. And I loved it! Check out what I have been doing.

For my #1 client, Ashley, I made these cups for her daughter’s class party. They are filled with “hot cocoa” chex mix and topped with a tag I created. I die at the cuteness. This might be my crowning achievement.IMG_5327

But then, I do love these hand-painted wooden spoons and a dish towel I did for my friend Ginny. She had two grandma teachers to deal with and we figured grandmas love a dishtowel. Or not. Either way I got to paint and cure wooden spoons! No matter that I had to open some windows as to not poison my children with the gas coming off them. Calm down, I sent them outside to play and turned on the vent fan too.

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Oh and the gift card wreathes! How cute did these turn out? Shout out to my friend Nadine for coming up with this idea for me while we waited in traffic getting to the Nutcracker market. I even sold one to a lady who was not my friend. Seriously, I picked her right up in the Kindergarten parking lot, thanks to my friend Lindsey who was showing off the wreath I did for her.IMG_6811

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I also made some additional sports bottles for Ashley. I am so proud of the whistle I can’t even tell you. Alex would like me to stop talking about it, but I know you don’t mind. I had to stare at that for a ridiculously long time to get it right….IMG_5299

I whipped up some insulated cups with a single letter for my friend Bethany. Whenever I see these at Target I buy them out. Again, Alex would like me see me change this too. Not happening. No one needs to walk by the side of the guest bed, mind your own business.IMG_5352

For Zach’s teacher and his teacher’s aide, I wanted to give them something their families could do together. I saw on Pinterest that you can purchase a Redbox gift certificate and I thought that would be perfect. There were some cute cards with the saying, “Just settle down for a long Movie Night”. But, since I like to make my life challenging I decided that was not good enough for me. I wanted to give some popcorn as well, and since microwave popcorn is apparently made by the devil, I choose these tiny kernels we have tried. They make really good popcorn and don’t get stuck in your teeth. I like how the gifts turned out, even if the kernels are a wee bit heavy for a five year old to carry.

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I also gave the Smoothly cards to my crossing guards. Ms. Bernice said she could cry. I guess Ms. Bernice loves Smoothie King as much as my boys do.

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I also gave the iTunes wrap to the mailman and James’s swim coach.

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And I was so glad I had some extra Nailed It gifts completed as James’s teachers and the support staff at his school got them. No stress for me!

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The biggest seller of the year though, was the Warm Wishes gift that is filled with cocoa mix, marshmallows and mints. We will not even discuss the number of times I had to drive to Ikea for more and more glass jars. Worth it, obviously, but Ikea and I are currently on a break.

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I would like to thank all my friends for supporting me this season!! It was so much fun to help everyone and I hope your teachers love it too. After the school break I will be gearing up for Valentine’s day. But for the next 17 sleeps I will be spending so much quality time with my children. I am clearly going to have to use some of my profits for more alcohol.

Another easy craft project

Well hello my friends! Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving? Pretending like you are working but thinking about all you have to do during that meeting you had this morning?

I know you will all want to run out and complete this yourself. Similar to my 10 Step Smore’s Cookie Bags, it was so, so simple and I have helpfully included the step-by-step instructions. Let’s begin.

1. Have a friend who wants teacher gifts and lets you create whatever you want – aka Ashley. Send her “suggestions” and then be fully supportive of the darling one she chooses.

2. Go to Randall’s, HEB and Target looking for the pumpkins. Claw through the candy corn (who needs that much?) to find the pumpkins hidden at the bottom. Buy them in bulk like there is a hurricane coming and candy pumpkins turn into water. Call them “groceries” to your husband.

3. Decide that simple, darling tags are way too pedestrian for you (no matter how much you like them), oh ruler of the Silhouette program and begin to envision a new one.

4. Realize you might think too highly of yourself and hang out with your children for 15 minutes to snap you back to reality.

5. Rush to Michael’s (they open at 9:00 am) to purchase the Mason jars. Realize the normal size ones are on sale (always) and that when you speedily recreate that tag it will be a perfect fit.

6. Drive across the street to Jo-Ann’s and purchase fabric with pumpkins on it. Check the link again and note she used cupcake liners and feel like a fool.

7. Push past your feelings, pretend you don’t have bills to pay and laundry to do and spend some time getting the tags just right. Print and cut.

8. Go back to the original blog and while actually reading her notes, see that she used stamps and want to cry. Make a note to pay more attention in the future.

9. Realize you don’t have the right color card stock; drive back to Michael’s.

10. Put it all together and notice that you hate it. All of it.

See? So simple!

Needless to say, I recreated the tags, went back to Jo-Ann’s, fought with my Silhouette machine and FINALLY my vision came to life.

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In case you are smarter than me and want to just print and cut, here are my tags for you.

I made an extra one for Zach’s teacher, but still have bags and bags of pumpkins…I am pretty sure some other teachers in H-town need this little gift, right? Email/Facebook Message/Contact on the blog me!

Monster Cookies and Deyhydration

The weekend before Halloween tried to kill me. I mean, I guess it I did it to myself, but you know I don’t like to take credit for negative things. Really it was just the Saturday of the weekend, when we had a soccer game, the UNT vs. Rice game and then the fall carnival at Zach’s school. Any one or two of those things would have been plenty, but all three spelled disaster for me.

All started fine at the soccer game at 8:30 a.m. My parents were in town for the football game, and as is their tradition, the boys went to spend the night with them at the hotel. Granny Marsh and Papa Wayne are so lucky they are loved so much and to get to share a bed with my wiggly boys. Sooooo lucky.

I had to swing by and get Zach at 7:50 for team photos while everyone else met us at the game. The Walls were there too and I insisted we take a photo of all grandparents. No grandparents were particularly excited, but I have one photo of both my grandmothers with me and one with both my grandfathers and I treasure those photos. To the grand-kids they are all their family and I wanted that photo for my boys.

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My mother noted that the entire neighborhood must be at the soccer game and she is basically right. Liv found someone from their neighborhood (of course) and I saw three of my friends who are not even on Zach’s team. The league Zach plays in is huge and people from all over the inner city play in it. Plus, the teams are small with only six kids on each team.

The boys insisted on going back to the hotel with my parents (again, so, so lucky) so Alex and I grabbed a quick breakfast with his parents then headed to the football game.

You all know my love of Rice football games. For real, I love them. My mom had brought the boys matching UNT shirts and small footballs they played with the entire game. We moved seats about four times and everyone is just so happy to be there and relaxed.

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James and my mom are saying “Go Eagles! Go UNT!” –  just getting ready in the parking lot.

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My parents were very pleased to learn about the Roost (where you can drink in the stadium) and even though UNT lost, we had a fun time.

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It is borderline insulting how my boys look just like their father. Rude.

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But that was not the end of our day. James, Alex and I came home early so James could take a nap and I could make cookies for the Sweet Shop at the school carnival. Why yes, I do stay at home and should have made them during the week, thank you for noting that.

I was determined to make these monster cookies I had pinned last year. They looked fairly straight forward and darling. And they were.

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So during the hour and a half before I had to leave to set up, I stood up and made dough, rolled it in powdered sugar, baked it then stuck in the eyes. Then I had to put them in individual bags, of course.

I changed (again) and raced up to the elementary school to help set up Zach’s class booth at the carnival. I sat down around four and waited for Alex, the boys and my parents to get there. The boys immediately went in different directions as there was so much to do!

Zach loved this giant inflatable slide and James went racing through the ones for little kids.

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Around five I was chatting with some of my friends and started feeling bad. Like I might throw up and my stomach was cramping like crazy, bad. They immediately thought I was pregnant (NO) because they had been discussing how hard having three kids is when I bolted off. I assured them there was no way, though I did appreciate their concern.

I tried to drink some water and sit down but it just got worse. Alex finally told me that I looked like I felt sick and should go home. You guys, I was concerned I was not going to make it home. But I did and started pounding water. I have not felt that bad since I had the flu. While I was laying shivering on the couch I counted how much I had to drink that day. The entire day I had: one coffee, two diet coke, one beer and one bottle of water. From 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Factor in a lot of standing and sweating it was no wonder my body wanted to shut down.

Luckily, I had Alex and my parents who didn’t even miss a beat. Alex and the boys stayed at the carnival for a while longer, getting to do all they wanted and my parents went and got food for the boys. They came and picked them up to head to the hotel (again, so, so, lucky) all while I laid on the couch drinking as much water as I could handle. By 7:00 I was feeling close to normal and starving. I took that as a good sign.

But I was so bummed to miss the rest of the carnival. I really was. I love those things. Apparently there was an obstacle course and the cake walk. Plus someone was dressed as Frankenstein in the principal’s office who would walk around once in a while.

Hopefully I have learned my lesson and will do better next year. But I am a slow learner, so it is anyone’s guess.

Why am I the only one who understands

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This past Friday the Dad’s club at Zach’s elementary hosted a Dad’s camp out on the school grounds. Now, let me ask you – what do you think that means? Well, apparently I am the only one who understood that it means the dads and kids camp out in a tent on the playground. My mother in law thought they would be “camping” inside. My friend Mary asked if they were staying all night – I gave her the crazy eye and said, “of course” and Alex combined them both and kept asking what they would be doing, where they would be sleeping AND if they would be staying all night.

I repeat, it is a CAMP OUT. How am I the only one who gets this?

Please keep in mind I don’t camp. At all. Aside from my long run at Camp Cho-Yeh summer camp I don’t like sleeping outside.

I asked Alex if he would be purchasing a tent and he said they could use the one that my mom bought for Zach at the River and sent home with us recently. While it is an actual tent, it is about 4 x4.  Alex is 6.1, just for your information.

Here is a model of what the row of tents looked like with our mini-one included.

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No joke. It was hilarious. Alex tried to sleep diagonally and ended up having to sleep with his feet out the door. Hilarious. He also promptly lost Zach’s sleeping bag, so they had to open up the cone shaped one I stole from my friend Kate back in 2011  and use a blanket on top. I am hoping to find Zach’s in the lost and found as technically it is Liv’s and she is not going to be pleased to hear about this.

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Apparently the entire night is one big free for all. The dads sit around and talk and the kids run wild. Alex said he went inside during the movie time to find Zach and the twins riding a chair down the ramp from the stage. Zach assured him it was totally safe and totally fine. I think they finally went to sleep around eleven.

Oh, it also rained a bit and Alex had some how put the cover for the tent under the tent so they had to use the sleeping bag cover as a rain shield. I am not making any of this up.

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As you can imagine, James was not pleased to be left out of these shenanigans. I had to bribe him with a trip to Chick-fil-a, the cupcake store AND with a viewing of Frozen. We scooped up Mary (she forgave me for the crazy eye) and her little girl and had a relaxing night, only being in charge of two children.

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James and I finished off our night with a trip to Randall’s for soft dog food for Norm. He got his teeth cleaned and apparently needed softer food. I let James ride the Ernie and Bert fire truck because I was feeling generous. And he looks so cute on it.

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Can you tell how tired he is? Drinking his “hot milk from his baby cup”? Don’t even start – I know he is waaaay too old for me to be heating up his milk AND for that cup. I don’t have the energy to care.

Anyway, everyone had fun. Alex and Zach were exhausted the next morning from the no sleeping in a little tent plus the 8:30 a.m. soccer game. But it was the most quiet afternoon ever in the Wall house. Both Alex and James took a nap and Zach and I laid on our respective couches and watch TV. Delightful.

I personally am looking forward to two years down the road when Alex will have both boys with him at the camp out. Hopefully in a bigger tent.

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.

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.

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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