Friday, July 29, 2011

School Supplies: Love 'em, hate 'em.

I have a love/hate relationship with school supply shopping.   I LOVE school supplies!  As a kid, I would pick them out, and then spend the next several weeks organizing and reorganizing my backpack.  As an adult, I still enjoy that particular isle in the store.  That may have been the best thing about having an office job was having all the fun office accessories.  But shopping for other people's supplies is not as fun admittedly. Usually, my girls pick out very plain binders and folders when I show them where the fancy ones are.  I don't get it.   Last year I took each girl separately to the store.  There was no confusion, we simply went down their lists, got everything, went home and showed Daddy.  This summer, I just haven't had the luxury of one-on-one time so all four kids got to come for the adventure.  It went as you can imagine. 

The girls tried to keep all of their things on separate ends of the shopping cart.  They slid together and mixed up.  Anna tried at one point to just carry her stuff.  That didn't work either.  Have you seen their lists?  It's a lot of stuff to try to carry.  Isabella doesn't really have a list for preschool and she wanted something.  Sam just desperately wanted to go look at the cars in the toy isle.  In the end, Sam got a car, Isabella got a miniature Rapunzel, and Sophia and Anna got a cart-full of school supplies but were upset I didn't then buy them a toy.  Seriously. 

I love the kids' school.  They have great teachers and an amazing principal.  And as PTO president, I spend a lot of my time helping to raise money for the school -- all of it for totally worthwhile projects.  But when it comes to school supplies, I often cringe.  Our first grade teacher needs each student to bring six black dry erase markers.  Six?  So each student -- 20 - 25 students all need to bring six dry erase markers.  You do the math and that is a huge amount of markers to go through in a year.  Are the teachers using one every day and a half?  If so, are they not replacing the lid?  How is it even possible to need that many markers in a school year?  Apparently in 3rd grade they don't write on the board as much or the teachers have realized how to replace the lid more often since we only have to bring 4.  Only.

Tennis shoes are my other major complaint.  The gym was new a year and a half ago and when it opened up all the kids needed a new pair of shoes for gym.  They are left in the classroom and put on and taken off before and after gym class.  I understand the gym floor is nice and the rationale is that when the kids wear their shoes out on the playground and around home they get little pebbles in them that can scratch the floor.  I get that.  But, gyms are built to be used, right?  When adults come in to play ball, I'm guessing they don't have separate shoes they wear.  And in all honesty, I've walked in there before with less-than-brand-new shoes on that I wore crossing the street to get to the school's front door.  

So, my problem with the shoes is the expense.  Shoes aren't cheap -- even the cheap ones aren't cheap.  And, it's a huge time waste for our teachers.  The shoe changing doesn't take place in gym using up gym time.  It takes place in their classrooms using educational time.  You can imagine it's not a fast process for kindergartners and first graders.  Even if the gym shoes are Velcro -- their regular shoes might not be.   I just think our floors could use a few scratches, our wallets a few extra dollars, and our teachers a little more classroom time to teach.  Just my opinion though. 

Next year when I have all three girls needing supplies I will reconsider this process.  Either I will A) take them one-on-one and try to enjoy the time watching them pick out their own special supplies or B) go by myself, get everything they need, and come home and surprise them.  Plan B is looking pretty good right now! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

My little goofball

This shirt that Aunt Angela picked out for Sam's birthday is perfect.  Sam is my little goofball.  Always willing to do whatever it takes to make us laugh.  Especially at the dinner table. Sometimes I think his entire goal is just to make his sisters giggle and interrupt the meal.  I tell people that God brought him into my life just to make sure I smile and laugh all day long. 

Today, we were shopping for school clothes at Old Navy.  And Sam heard the song change over the speakers in the store.  He stood up in the shopping cart and started dancing.  The boy loves to dance!  And he's got some pretty funny moves!  (Yes, I know it's dangerous and I normally don't allow standing in a cart....but he was so stinkin' cute and I stood right there to keep him safe.)  So thanks, Aunt Angela for the perfect shirt for my crazy boy!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"I'm Free!"

Yep, it's official.  My baby is now three.  Though, if you ask him he'll say he's "free."  Pretty cute.  Since he loves cars almost exclusively, I made him a race track cake in the shape of a 3.  It was super easy and I just couldn't picture myself making more car cakes like last year. 
Three years goes by quickly!

Happy Birthday Handsome Sam!  We love you!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Confession # 7

There's just something about passing out and throwing up to get a weekend started!  Am I right?  Oye!  Now, before you get the wrong idea, let me explain...

This weekend Sophia had her league swim meet, a two day event with 8 area teams.  For most of the kids, it was their final meet for the summer.  Only the best move on.  But it is July in Kansas which means it's hot outside.  Really hot.  Like "Severe Heat Warning" hot. (Which, I later looked up and found that it means there's extreme danger of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and cramping- FYI.) Not the best two days to spend sitting outside all day long surrounded by lots and lots of concrete. 

We got to the swim meet in time for warm-ups.  Then the team had a quick meeting.  I looked over and Sophia fell face forward, landing on her hands and knees completely confused.  I'm pretty sure she blacked out a bit because she later told me she got really dizzy, confused, everything went black and her legs went wobbly.  I went over there and we walked back to where we had our stuff.  She then promptly threw up (all over my new purse). Lovely. The day produced record heat of 109, and that doesn't include the heat index.  Not a great way to start the meet.  Luckily she had a few hours to recover before she swam.  If you ever really can recover in that type of heat.  There was no amount of shade possible to cool you down out there - though Aunt Ronda's "mister" helped!  Luckily a $5 stuffed monkey named Coconut can make any girl feel better. 

Day 2 started out better.  Sophia was selected to represent her team during opening ceremonies swimming while holding a flag during the national anthem.  She was so excited!  She was chosen for her hard work - not missing a single practice (except for our vacation) -  7 practices plus a meet each week.  Most of that is due to the fact that Chris woke her up and took her every morning.  She was also chosen for her improvements during the season.  She started out not being able to swim the width of the pool.  Then over the course of the swim season she dropped a full minute off of all her times.  That takes work!  At league she swam personal bests in all of her individual races and her relay team took 4th.   It was also pretty awesome to swim at the same meet as her older cousin Bailey!

Overall, she earned 17 ribbons this summer -- which as we counted was a few more than her Daddy did at that age.  He turned out to be a pretty awesome swimmer so she was pumped about that.  Now we officially get a 1 month break before school starts.  I think we're going to totally veg out and relax for the entire month! 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I survived VBS!

I think I'd like a shirt that says, "I survived VBS!"  Because after about 9 months of planning it, and a couple of weeks of living and breathing everything VBS, I feel like I've earned the right to wear the shirt. 

In all honesty, VBS week is my favorite week every year in the church.  The building is decorated in a fun way.  Who doesn't love a good theme?  There are tons of kids everywhere.  Crafts - need I say more.  Fun music.  Adults dancing who normally wouldn't.  Lots of laughter, noise and controlled chaos.  Tons of adult volunteers, young and adult, new and very experienced.  And the planning.  Ahh, the planning.  That's one of the best parts for an organizing and planning fool like me.  I like to have all the details worked out ready to be executed.  Then hopefully, each night things will run smoothly and nobody will know the months of planning it took to make it all happen.  And then I fade into the background and let the more outgoing folks shine.  Perfect. 

All week long we taught children about the Bible and how to live out God's Recipes for life.  Some come to church every Sunday.  Some come once a year to VBS.  Others may not step foot in a church for years to come.  But we're planting seeds. Lots of tiny, precious seeds.  That's the very best part.  Seeing kids excited to be at church.  Skipping ball games to come.  Heading on vacations a little later than planned.  All so they can come to church.  AWESOME!  Now we just need to keep the momentum going the other 51 weeks out of the year.  Who's with me?   

As I said, "I survived," but I'm not sure my kids did.  Besides VBS we also had 3 days of swim meets this week.  So by Saturday, Sam took a 6 hour nap.  Yep, 6 hours.  Then was awake for 2 hours and then went back to bed.  Sophia and Anna basically put themselves down for bed at 5 pm before even eating dinner.  Isabella seemed remarkably perky, but that's normal.  And Chris and I are dragging big-time.  Too bad he has a paper due tomorrow because the man could use some serious sleep!  I'm thinking VBS, work, grad school, swim meets and taking care of the family was just a bit much for one week.  Good thing that next week things slow down a bit for us.  Chris and Sam have birthdays, but other than that, we're going to take it easy! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Vacation

Vacation, all I ever wanted, vacation all I ever needed... Luckily, Chris' family has a cabin in Colorado so free lodging makes it actually possible for a family of six to go on vacation.

Day 1:  Travel day.  We learned early that with four kids and an entire day of travel the secret is to make a few really good stops.  We stop for a picnic (cheap) and play at a park for an hour or at a rest stop where the kids can chase Chris around.  Or if the weather is bad we'll resort to a McDonald's play land.  The key is to get them moving around so they can sit again for 3-4 hours.  We also always buy a few new movies so they actually capture their attention.  One thing I learned this year is I am much too old to ride a Merry Go Round.  So dizzy!

Day 2:  Flat tire to start the day.  And in a river town, most places are closed on the weekends so the owners can enjoy the outdoors.  One place, luckily, was open and fixed our flat in just a few minutes for only $20.  Nice.  Then we headed for a hike, to the grocery store for food and down for naps followed by a hike around a mountain lake.

Day 3:  Best. Day. Ever.  We woke up early and hiked a trail to see a waterfall.  We do this hike every year, but this year we didn't have any kids who needed carried, or any who whined.  Shocking!  After the hike we went to a ghost town which I really think is better known for it's chipmunks that you can feed.  Good times.  We picnicked at another mountain lake, came back to the cabin to nap and then went to a nearby hot springs with a giant alpine slide.  Lots of fun! 

Day 4:  Sun burnt and tired.  We took the kids horseback riding at a favorite place of ours.  All four kids could ride this year with Isabella and Sam riding with Chris and I.  Sam was pretty scared by the horses at first and refused to ride with Chris, but once he was on the saddle with me he thoroughly enjoyed our horse "Squirt."  Another picnic in a park before heading back to the cabin.  
Day 5:  Still a bit sun burnt.  Took the kids to the tacky tourist shop for some hats because our eyes were pretty sensitive too.  We've never been to Colorado without any afternoon rain showers.  But it was gorgeous!  We hiked Cottonwood Pass and again no whiners and no kids needed carried!  I think they're finally getting old enough to enjoy hiking.  We got to play in snow too.  Another lovely picnic and back home for naps.  Good times.  Chris' parents came up that afternoon and we watched Chris and the girls tube down the stream in front of the cabin. 

Day 6:  Whitewater River Rafting (without the kids)!!!!  Need I say more.  It was amazing.  Chris and I hadn't rafted in at least 10 years probably so this was awesome.  The river was high.  Like 5x the normal level.  The rapids were huge, the sun was out, it was great.  Between rapids there was even a brief time where we were told someone could hop into the river...the guide pulling us back in before the rapid section.  Yours truly was the only one to take him up on the offer.  Awesome!!  But, not very graceful on the raft reentry.  That day Chris' brother and niece came out to visit and the afternoon showers dampened our playground picnic.   But the cabin time was fun.

Day 7:  Sore.  Very sore.  Rafting takes a lot of stomach, back, shoulder and arm strength....all weak areas for me.  The pain was worth it.  Chris, his brother and dad took a 6 mile hike (about 5+ hours long) while his mom and I took the 5 kids to the park, ate lunch and got down for naps.  While the guys were rained and hailed on and very tired when they got back, I still honestly believe watching all 5 kiddos was at least more mentally exhausting. 

Day 8:  Drive home.  While it's sad to leave beautiful Colorado it's also nice to come home feeling refreshed.  Though 7 loads of laundry later, I might have disagreed.  Colorado is such a great place for vacations.  Tons of free activities and a few amazing ones that cost make a good mix.  24/7 quality family time.  Perfect.  Until next year, I'll just have to live off of these memories.

Monday, July 4, 2011

One Giant Slip and Slide

Happy 4th of July!  It's that time of year again.  The time where people spend gobs of money to blow things up, grill burgers, put flags on the sides of their houses, and have parties centered around ridiculously large slip and slides. 

Oh, maybe that's just us.  Or, more precisely, that's just my Dad.  He spreads out giant plastic sheeting on his back yard, hooks up a sprayer hose, adds a little dish soap, and the kids have one fantastic slip and slide.  And hours of fun.

We had lots and lots of little girls and one brave Sam going down the slide.  He can certainly use a few boy cousins someday!  Luckily the boy next door came over to help him out! 

Notes for next year.  1) Adults need a separate lane so they don't slam into the kids.  2) Little ones like to lick/sip the water, maybe the dish soap isn't the necessary.  3) One at a time would be a little better.  Some of the crashes were pretty big. 

In the end, the kids had a great time and were worn out by the end of the day, the moms sat in the shade and the dads got to show off.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.  Happy 4th of July!