Sunday, December 12, 2010

Merry Christmas!

2010 Christmas Card?

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Announcement: My Child is 4 and Does Not go to Preschool!

So when I took a year off this year and decided I was going to keep the boys home with me, I never realized what interesting questions my children and I would be subjected to. People (strangers, mostly nosy mothers) will approach Julian at the playground or wherever, and ask him how old he is. When they find out that he's 4, the next question is, does he go to preschool. Then when he replies no, I get a funny look from said nosy mother. Then I feel like I have to go into this big explanation that he was in preschool last year and I'm a teacher and he's at home with me this year since I took a year off work. Really I didn't think that there was going to be this "stigma" that my child's not in PRESCHOOL!

So, I was venting about this to my husband and a friend this evening as we were leaving to go meet my family for dinner at a restaurant. Well, sure enough, end of dinner, the waitress comes over to the table and begins talking with Julian. Here's how the conversation goes:

Waitress: How old are you?
J: 4
W: Do you go to preschool?
J: No
W: Do you want to go to preschool?
J: No. I just go to church school.

Now, in my mind I'm going,  "WTF, here we go again." But this time I decide not to say anything because I really don't have to defend my choices to my waitress! Oh and when she asked if he wanted to go to preschool, I just wanted to say, "Oh, 'cause you're going to pay for it and send him there?"

So here comes the justice! Waitress comes over again and Julian's drawing in his notebook. She's talking to him and he's drawing and he makes some sort of picture for her. Mark says, "Why don't you write her name on it." She had just told us her name was Rhonda, so without hesitation or a moment of thought, Julian wrote, R-U-N-D-A. To which, of course, she was stunned. Then he proceeded to write his first and last name.
By this time, she said, "Wow! You're mommy sure works with you! You really don't need preschool!" Then he proceeded to write- mom, dad, Liam, Marln (Marilyn), and Pop (Pop-Pop).

I can only hope he continues doing this every time someone begins this dreaded conversation!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's November Already??

Greenfield Village

DFD Pumpkin Patch

A witch, the Verizon guy, a dalmatian,
and Woody from Toy Story.

Neighborhood "Spooktacular" Parade
I can't believe it's already November! We had lots of fun for Halloween. The kids went to lots of different parties and events. We visited two apple orchards and ate lots of cider (Liam's new favorite) and doughnuts, had fun on tractor and hay rides, visited the Dearborn Fire Station's Pumpkin Patch a few times,went on a haunted train ride a few times, participated in the Highland Neighborhood Associations Spooktacular parade, and went to a few parties.
 I think Julian's favorite thing was the skeleton we made out of plastic milk jugs. He told me one week that he wanted to learn about skeletons. So we did! He can tell you all about bones now and the names of bones. We visited out chiropractor (who is a great man) that week and he showed him some models of the spine and x-rays. Julian really enjoyed that. It's been fun (and interesting) being able to create his curriculum!
This year was the first year that Julian really voiced his opinion about what he wanted to be for Halloween. I already lots of costumes and decided the boys would be a fireman/firetruck and a dalmatian. Cute, right? Well, Julian was adamant that he was NOT going to wear the firetruck costume. He put on these toy Buzz Light Year Wings over his clothes and insisted he was Buzz Light Year. He went through the parade like that. So then I felt bad and took him to Target to see if they had any "real" costumes left. Of course, no Buzz, but they had 1 Woody costume left, in his size. Meant to be, I guess!
Liam really got the concept this year. I thought he wouldn't last very long trick-or-treating, but he proved us all wrong. Not only did he last, he was dancing and singing (Iron Man, of course) the whole time. In fact, he would have outlast the other kids had we let him. He was never scared. Went up to every house, said "trick-or-treat" and "thank you" to everyone! So proud of my little man! Speaking of proud, Liam is finally off ALL meds! I thought we'd never get to this point! Crossing my fingers that this continues!
We have so many upcoming things we are excited about too! This week we get to go on a field trip with our homeschool group to a police station! The boys will love it! We're also taking a trip to the Detroit Science Center. I'm also looking forward to Sunday when Julian sings in church with his preschool class! I can't wait to see my little singer!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WARNING- Proud Mommy Moment!!!

This is one of the writing assignments that Julian did yesterday. The directions asked him to look at the picture and come up with a story about what was happening. It also provided a word bank of short e words to help. On his own he wrote the sentence "There's a spiders web in Peg's way." Peg is the name of the hen flying the jet. It's from one of his reading books. Anyway, then he wanted to go on and write "A bat is on mom's shoulder." The only thing I helped him with on this sentence was the "sh" for shoulder. 
I'm so proud of him! He's learning so quickly and doing so well! It's been such a gift to be able to stay home with him and teach him.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Who Needs an Oven??

Never would have said that before until our oven broke. It's the never ending saga in our household. Basically, mom leaves job, cuts budget and oven breaks. That's Rummel luck for you!

The good news is we (we, as in Mark and his Dad with the help of his friend Tom who repairs appliances) know how to fix it. Well, we know now. Although through never ending trial and errors and parts that were ordered and didn't work and now having to go order a new part. So I guess it's still up in the air as to whether it will be fixed. It's been a month already!

So what's a girl to do?? Planning carefully! I've been cooking everything on the stove top. Now it's been so long, I'm getting more creative. Come to think of it, with all these "extra" appliances, we hardly really need a stove. For example, I made brownies tonight without an oven (I used the waffle iron), and they're really good! We warm the garlic bread for our pasta on the grill (just about anything can be cooked on a grill). I made apple crisp in a skillet and even found a cookie recipe that uses a skillet! We have a toaster oven, a roaster, a Crock Pot, and a bread machine. Those things can't take care of everything an oven can, but I think we're doing pretty well without an oven. Never would have imagined!

Waffle Iron Brownies Recipe
Waffle Brownies 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

These Are the Days of Our Lives.....

......and I hope my children will remember them, because I always will.

Today, we ventured out to The Henry Ford Estates. I hadn't planned on it, but it was turning out to be great weather and I was sick of going to the park. Julian had been learning about the signs of fall, so I figured why not. We ended up spending 2 hours walking all over the grounds (and didn't cover that much ground either). We stopped to look at the waterfall (our favorite). We found leaves, needles, bark, moss, fungus, sticks, flowers, logs, roots, geese, ducks, squirrels, eggs that were laid on a leaf, a pond, a river, a swamp, acorns, and (I'm sure you get the idea now).
Liam and Julian in front of the waterfall.

It was great fun exploring the grounds through the eyes of my children. It was great to see them feel free and adventuresome. Their curiosity piqued at each new sighting or change in direction of the path.
Taking a little snack break beside the pond.

I plan on taking them back many times over the year so that we can see how things change through the seasons. I really think that the more they see it and explore it, the more they will come to understand about nature. It's great to see the world outside of a book!


P.S. Sorry for the crappy cell phone pics. Forgot the camera!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

It's Back to School Time!

Mark is back to work and I'm not! I can't remember the last time I felt this happy. The only way I can describe it is bliss! I LOVE being home with the boys. Last week we watched a few of our friends' kids. The boys had someone new to play with every day. We also joined a Homeschool Group. We meet once a week at a school for gym time (run by a gym teacher) and outside play time. Then the kids meet inside for snack, crafts, and play time. They plan field trips and other activities too. We all had a great time meeting new friends! We also had fun going to the library yesterday and found out that they are having a Play dough contest! Ohhhh....the possibilities! Today we went to the Home Depot for the kid's workshop. Julian completed his third project today, a race car, and Liam made a football holder.

Julian and I started easing into his "school" routine this week. Last week we only did seat work (math and reading) for about 10 mins. a day. Then he would spend about 5-10 mins. doing some independent work (coloring and such). This week I'm going to try and double it by having him do work in the morning and afternoon.

I also picked up a (very) part-time gig! I'm TJing (Trivia Jockey) a Live Trivia show at Key West in Taylor on Sundays at 6pm! Last week was my first week, and although hardly anyone showed up, I managed to get 3 teams and we all had a good time. I love doing the trivia shows because I get out of the house for a little bit, get to have a lot of fun, and make money all at the same time! Lucky me!

To be continued.....

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First "Real" Vacation

Well, we've been up north and such as a family, however, we just got back from our first real family vacation. I actually started planning this about 4 years ago when I first heard about Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA (outside of Philadelphia). It's like Disney only a theme park with Sesame characters and the entire park is made for little kids! I figured this would be the perfect year to go since the boys are 2 and 4.

The drive was 10 hours long (which I wasn't looking forward to) and I figured that if we're going to drive that far, we're going to stay for awhile. I found a steal at a hotel outside the city in New Jersey. We had 5 full days to enjoy the city. The first two days we were at Sesame Place. To sum it up, Mark said it perfectly, "The first day at Sesame Place with the kids made my whole year." The kids enjoyed every minute of it, especially meeting Elmo for the first time. Even I was excited to meet all the characters.

After we had out fun at Sesame Place we spent 3 days doing "kid stuff" in the city. I wouldn't have thought that Philadelphia would be a good place for kids, but I was wrong! We spent one day playing at the Adventure Aquarium. We pet sharks, sting rays, and starfish. We even walked through a tunnel with sharks swimming over us. The next day we spent 4 hours (yes, count them, 1, 2, 3, 4 hours) at the Please Touch Museum. This museum was so much fun! We played in a life sized car garage, city (complete with hospital, construction site, and grocery store), water room, music room, and everyone's favorite Alice in Wonderland. Our last day didn't disappoint either. We toured quickly through the Franklin Institute (which is a child's hands-on museum teaching them about all of Ben Franklin's inventions). Julian's favorite was the planterium show and Mark liked the Sky Bike. We left there and toured the city on top of a double-decker bus. The first for all the boys!

We had tons of fun, and made great memories!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Liam's Two!

Dearest Liam,

Happy 2nd Birthday Bubba! I am so proud to be your mommy. We have been through some rough times in your short life, but I am so grateful to God that he saw us through that journey of your life and you are now a happy, healthy, amazing little boy.

This past year you have learned to walk and talk. And with each day you're melting our hearts with your abundant love for life. Daddy and I can see how much you love to run, sing, dance, and be as active as you can. And you have a talent for sports already. You're constantly hitting balls and saying, "shoot" ! You love to snuggle with us at night and always want to have a book read to you. Our favorite moments are when you wake up from a nap and want to lay in our arms as we're reclined in the brown chair. You love to watch the Golf channel with your Dad then. Sometimes you even get mad if it's not on!

People can't get past your adorable big eyes and smile. You are such a flirt too! Too bad for the other lady's out there, 'cause you are mine!

Liam, I can't tell you enough how much I love you and how happy you make me! You make everyone in our family so happy. I look forward to many years to come, but with sadness we say good-bye to your baby years! But don't forget, I will love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.

Forever and Always,

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Family Movie Night

This summer we've started the family movie night tradition. Liam's finally getting to an age where he'll sit (sometimes only for a bit) and watch the movie. Most of the movies I've been getting are older ones that I can pick up from the library, but the kids love them just the same.

I remember movie night as a kid. We would spend some time on Fri. night after dinner going to Blockbuster and each picking out a movie. Then we would get home and watch something together. What is it about watching a movie together that seems so bonding??

Our movie nights start out by ordering a pizza, followed by eating popcorn and watching a movie on a big blanket spread out on the living room floor with lots of pillows. This last week, however, getting a movie from the library backfired on me. I wanted the kids to see Aladdin, but the DVD was so scratched up that we couldn't even make it to the menu. Well, Uncle Stephen rescued the night with his netflix account. We were able to watch Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs on my laptop. We ended up moving movie night that night to our bed so we could all see the tiny screen.

I think just having us all together, doing the same thing, snuggling, and happy is what I love about movie night.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why is Summer so Short???

Why does summer vacation seem so long in my head, but in reality is always so short???
Lately, we've been hanging out more at home. Mark's been working summer school in the morning. I've been hanging with the boys then and teaching them the beautiful art form of sleeping in. This week they've slept until 9-9:30am. I never thought I would ever see this stage of my life reappear again! The kids and I slowly get up, eat breakfast, and get ready. We clean up and do some chores and then head out for the day. I find that since the boys have been able to wake up when they are ready, they are happier and more relaxed. It's so nice to not have to hurry up and rush out the door.
Julian is no longer taking naps so now Liam's nap time is reserved for him and mommy to do some "work". We've basically been doing reading, writing and word work. I'm so impressed with how quickly he learns and how he remembers EVERYTHING! He likes to learn and is so eager to work with mommy. Thanks to the new pool, Julian has found a new love. We're in it daily and Julian will now swim completely under water. I never signed him up for swimming lessons this year, but he really is becoming a self-taught swimmer.
Liam is growing up so quickly too. This week he transitioned into his "big boy bed". He's been doing great! He's been talking up a storm too. I can't believe that he'll be 2 in 2 weeks!
As for me, I'm getting the last odds and ends together for the 3-day walk. Making sure I have all the right "tools" for the walk. I'm really excited, but so nervous too! I just hope the weather is nice!!! Pray for me !!!!!
Next weekend is homecoming, the weekend after that is the walk and Liam's b-day and then as soon as that is over we are going to PA to go to Sesame Place and Hershey (which I have yet to book). I think we'll see the beach of Lake Huron once more too.
I love summer, but it really is too short!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Goodbye Babies!

Over four years ago, before Julian was born, Mark spent so much time putting together this beautiful nursery.

Julian spent two years in there and then Liam. Next month Liam will turn two. Our convertable crib finally came apart today and is now a bed. It seems too weird to not have crib in our house. Soon we will have two "big boy" rooms in our house. ((((SIGH))) Where does the time go??

And this is how I'll always remember this special room:

**I'll post pics soon of the new rooms soon!**

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Decision to Stay at Home

This year I have decided to stay home from work and stay home with the kids. I'm very lucky that my employer allows me to take a leave for up to 3 years and I'm guaranteed my position back and any salary increases. Great deal, right?

So, why, is the question that I hear all the time! Well, it was a series of things actually. For one, I've always wanted to stay home with the boys or at least only work part time, but I was never able to until this year.

So, really, that wasn't really the reason why. It really started back last year. Without going through everything from March- June, the long and short of it was that Liam was very sick. We had spent lots of time at Children's Hospital seeing various specialists and two weeks before school let out I realized that he couldn't go back to daycare and had to stay home. The summer went by and his health began improving. Then at the end of the school year I was laid off, as usual, however, I was told that I was going to be brought back to a position in my building as a technology and reading coach. I was really excited about this position because I would be able to use and teach others all the interesting things I had learned the previous years about technology and use what I had learned from my master's degree (reading). Well, the day before I went back to work, I was called back to teaching a preschool classroom. I was told though that it was a glitch, report there the first day, and we'll move you back to your own building. Later that day I was moved to a different building, then on my Fri. off before Labor Day weekend I was told I was going to be teaching Kindergarten at a different building. This time they said there was no way they were going to move me back to my old building. Boy, was my principal mad! Anyways, I walked into a completely empty classroom. Literally NO materials. Now, the year before I was sure that I would never teach Kindergarten again because I just didn't have the patience for the little ones while I had my own little ones at home (never say never right?).Well, needless to say I had to make the best of this situation. Thankfully God was looking out for me and I ended up with a parapro, who is beyond awesome and has become a lifelong friend, as well as the other kindergarten teacher in the building. I really thought God's looking out for my best interest. Never question him!
Well, come November, we went back to one of Liam's specialists and found out that his growth was slowing down and diagnosed him with failure to thrive. At this point I was ready to walk out the door and leave my job behind. Instead, I thought rationally and Mark and I, both, applied for an intermittent FML leave. Mark and I worked a part time schedule from Thanksgiving until Christmas break so that we could stay home with Liam and make sure he was getting what he needed.
During this whole mess in December, I found out that cuts were being made throughout the district because the state cut funding and I would be laid off Feb.1, 2010. Well, honestly, with all the problems we were dealing with Liam, I felt like this was blessing!
Jan. 29 was to be my last day with my kindergartners. Sad day, but I was looking forward to staying home. On the evening of Thur. Jan 28 I just happened to check my work email to see that they were calling me back from lay off and placing me back at my old building (where I was supposed to be at the beginning of the school year) to teach kindergarten. Oiy vay! I was not prepared for that.
The next weekend I spent packing up my old kindergarten classroom and moving into a new building and setting up a new kindergarten classroom. Now any teacher knows how difficult and time consuming it is to set up a classroom and this was the second time in less than 6 months for me. Not only that, but I was to be teaching the "at-risk" kindergartners (basically the ones who were identified as the lowest academically). So basically, a BIG challenge.
I faced each change and transition with a positive attitude. I didn't waste time complaining, griping and groaning because I knew I needed to stay positive. And I was. I did the best I could do. Well, working that hard, and stressing about doing well at work and doing what's best at home took a big toll on my body.
See, after I had Julian I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and through the years of taking meds. and doing other holistic treatments, I finally realized that what helps me is to eliminate stress and/or do things that eliminate stress. Well, easier said than done. Towards March I felt weaker, but not bad. After Easter break in April I started feeling much worse. By May, it was a struggle to make it through the day. Although I had been off meds. for more than 2 years at this point I was desperate to do anything to get some relief. I went to a Fibromyalgia specialist, who also diagnosed with me with Chronic Fatigue. Insurance didn't cover her proposed treatment of daily injections, herbal meds., and IV's twice a week. I decided I couldn't put myself through the treatments.
By the end of May I couldn't make it through a full week at work and when I did go to work the afternoons were unbearable. I would come home and immediately crash on the couch and stay there for the rest of the night. I couldn't make dinner, watch my kids play, or even take a walk around the block.
In a way, my job was killing me. I didn't want to be this kind of mother, or teacher. I was doing a disservice to my family and the people I work for. So this was the "last straw" for me. After talking to Mark about it (and thankfully getting his full blessing) I put in for a leave. After finishing the school year, I have felt like a big "bear" got off my back. I don't have to sit around all summer, laid off, waiting to find out 2 days before school starts where and what I'll be teaching. All I have to worry about now are my boys, and really, that's all that matters!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

No More Excuses!!

That's right. I have no more excuses as to why I can't keep up on this blog. I'm not working for awhile and the kids are getting bigger and less needy. Wow, I never thought the day would come.
We're enjoying our summer. Of course, it's going by too quickly, as usual. We spent 5 days up in Oscoda at my dad's condo with him, Marilyn, Tim, and Stephen. It was pretty crowded in there, but thank goodness the weather cooperated and we spent most of the time outside. Julian and I had fun jumping the waves of Lake Huron and all the boys had a great time building sand castles. On the fourth we partied at our yearly condo association picnic/bbq. Lots of fun playing games and eating. The boys got their first chance to play with water balloons. The boys also got to finally enjoy sparklers and pop 'ems too. Liam got his first taste of a smores and whoa did he love it! The night was capped off with the annual city's fireworks. It just so happens that they go off on our beach, so we just have to step out onto the deck. It's perfect!!!
Right before we went to Oscoda we went to B.'s house (a good friend) who just happened to have a very small pool. It's one of those blue blow up Intex pools. Anyways it was really small, which was perfect for the boys, and just big enought that Mark and I could go in and enjoy ourselves. It also came with a filter which was awesome because we were so sick of dumping water and letting pools air dry. We went home that night and began our internet search for one. Of course, being late in June, pool season was coming to an end and we couldn't find the size we wanted. We happend to go to Toys R Us that night and they had two different kinds on clearance. One was a 10ftX30" and the other was 12ftX36" for a dollar more. Since it's always been my dream to have a pool, I begged Mark for the bigger one and got my way (as ya babe).
As soon as we got home from vacation Mark about melted to a puddle putting that pool up for us. Trust me, we have already gotten our money out of it. We've been in it practically everyday. I even got to sit outside with a book and then lay in the pool for a full hour one day when the boys were taking a nap. Talk about luxury!
That's pretty much all that we've been doing for now. Mark's back at work for the next couple of weeks teaching a summer school class. Can't wait for that to be over with. August is already jam packed. Can't wait to share all the fun things we have planned!