Tuesday, August 28, 2012

an easier, busy life

When school first starts I have so much excitement about a new year and new students~ but I on the other hand, I also get VERY overwhelmed with how busy life gets at home! I can barely think straight.... so you know what makes me feel better.... ORGANIZATION!

So I have started a few things that are life savers as we get into the swing of the school year with a school age child.

The back pack and important paper station!
Ivy and Tula (yes, even Tula) know to hang their backpacks up on the hooks each day.  I have also taught Ivy to take out her daily binder and put it in the "mailbox."  When life gets less hectic (post dinner time) I am able to look through the binder, her papers, and see what is left for me to do.  I assure Ivy that I will put what she needs back in her backpack before the morning.  This prevents papers flying all over the kitchen while we are trying to unpack bags and us losing something important.

Sunday Night Cooking
I don't love to cook, and I really don't love to cook after a day at work.  So, I plan on cooking a large meal on Sunday evening that we will be able to stretch to at least 2 nights.  Then we can eat easy on the other 2 nights.  This takes some of the craziness out of that terrible hour between coming home and dinner time, when everyone needs you and there isn't enough Mommy to go around!
The Clothes Rack
Clothes are a problem with Ivy and we do not have one extra minute to deliberate in the morning.  So I hung this little organizer in her closet.  Over the weekend she picks out 5 outfits to put in each slot making sure gym day has the proper attire.  Then in the morning there is no guess work, no changing minds.  She is allowed to pick out all of her outfits but she will loose that privilege if there are any clothes arguments in the morning.  That is a privilege worth keeping and not picking an outfit EVERY night has been wonderful!

Soaking up the outdoors
Nothing makes my family happy like getting outside! So right now while it is still nice (looking forward to it being a little cooler)  we are getting outside everyday.  Taking walks, riding bikes, drawing with chalk, or playing on the swing set is medicine to the soul!  

I know that in the next few weeks we will wind down and be settled into the new routine but for now organization is the key to my sanity! Any tips that you use that you would be willing to share? I'll take all I can get!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Back to School.... Starting Kindgergarten and Daycare

 On Wednesday morning, I switched roles from 7:55 to 2:50.... Mama was gone and Mrs. Smorstad was back!  Truth be told, the first week of school I feel a lot more like Mama to my 26 new comers than I do a teacher.  I know it is going to be another great school year!  But this year, there are bigger changes- more than just new students and new faces- but a new routine for my sweet girls!
 Our district does a phase in to Kindergarten so Ivy started on Thursday.  Daddy took her to school and she was ready to go with her new outfit, her fanciest pink bow, her rainbow tennis shoes, and a smile from ear to ear! He texted me pictures the whole morning and I was so excited to see her grinning (not holding onto him crying).  My principal so willingly offered for me to take her but I am afraid it would have resulted in tears- my children just perform like that for Mommy!  And for the next 5 years, she will be at Wilmore Elementary with me and I can walk her every single morning if she will let me!
 Ivy with her teacher, Mrs. Hoffner!  Ivy loves her dearly and keeps telling me about Mrs. Hoffner's rules encouraging me to enforce them with my 2nd graders!  :)  She is proud of how long she can "hold a bubble" and she is teaching Tula some of her new kindergarten tricks.   She has loved eating in the cafeteria, seeing lots of friends on the playground, and learning about Mrs. Hoffner's little boy and puppy dogs!
 Ivy is riding the bus both ways- what a BIG girl!  She was getting on the bus from Lefty Loop on her 2nd day of school.  In the afternoon, she rides to my school where I anticipate her arrival all afternoon!  The bus has been fun.  She says they sing songs and she is meeting new friends.  She came home Thursday and Friday very cheerful (Thank you, Jesus!) and ready to share all about her Kindergarten adventures. 
This year Tula has a new routine too!  I have to give all credit to God for helping child care always work out for our family.  This is hands down the biggest stress as a working mom, but He has answered prayers and provided clear direction year after year.  Tula started her first week at Wilmore Daycare ("Tuwa's School").  Ivy was able to go with her and stay in a 4 and 5 year old class Monday through Wednesday, where she met a new friend who is also in Mrs. Hoffner's class (Isn't God's plan so awesome!).  She also was able to tell me all about their day and Tula's day and she gave a mighty praise to Wilmore Daycare- putting all of my worries at rest.  Tula "reads" her daily report each evening as you see her telling us all about in the picture above.  
Mama: "Tula, can you tell us about your day?"
Tula runs to find her paper....
Tula: "1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11"
Mama:  "Oh, I see you are counting!"
Big deal- since this summer we never made it past 2! 
Tula: "Tigers! Cold Paint! Cookies!"
Mama:  "Did you pain a tiger for big cat week? And have cookies for snack? 
Tula: "Cheeeee...." 
Smiling for picture!

I sure am missing these sweet girls but I am thankful for our time together, big smiles, and good reports from our new schools! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer Hurrah!

Today is officially Ivy's last day of summer.... last day of being a little kid because tomorrow she is going to be a school aged kid, a kindergartner!
So to take my mind off of that.... I am going to tell you all about this little gal's special canoe trip with Pawpaw and Daddy!  This was her one last summer hurrah doing one of her favorite things- going to the river. Daddy and Ivy were thrilled to have Pawpaw as their special guest.
It was a gorgeous morning on the river.  I am thankful that the weather cooperated and God had His mighty hand in on making these plans come to life.
They found the perfect picnic spot!! Ivy says it was on a cliff..... I am thankful that it was just a little one. (Take note Daddy and Pawpaw, Tula can not EVER picnic on a cliff!  Two words- dare devil!)
Pawpaw and Ivy had so much fun being silly!  These two were dancing and being statues and catching up on lost time.
Even though it was chilly, Daddy and Ivy had to take a dip.  They love to say that you can't go to the river without a swim..... and I beg to differ!  I do not plan to swim in the river- ick!- ever! However, I am thankful that swimming in that murky water is a fear that I did not pass on to my little river rat.
As the day's adventures came to a close, Daddy and Pawpaw guided that pretty red canoe back home. Cheers that these 3 were able to have one last summer hurrah!
Tomorrow this little one starts school.  I am covering her with prayers this evening to have a great day, to feel confident in her new school setting, to meet new friends, and to come home cheerful rather than cranky from the long day (without a nap)!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A day at 3 zoos!!

The last day of summer, Nana, the girls, and I set out to enjoy a wonderful day. We packed it full of fun trips to 3 "zoos!" Not really, but it sort of felt like it!
First, we went to visit my Pawpaw at his assisted living facility.  We had an excellent visit with him and he was quite humored with Tula's silliness and enjoyed telling Ivy all about his life.  Since moving there, he is doing wonderful and seems so relaxed.  It is a blessing to see him so calm in this environment.  He was great but Tula and Ivy were a little nervous with some of the other "oldies" (Ivy calls them)..... thus we made this our first zoo trip of the day!
Next we drove over to the real zoo!  Tula's first zoo visit aside from Animal Kingdom in Disney World (which she doesn't remember) and Ivy's first visit to the zoo since she was 2! None the less, it was a great adventure. 
Tula loved the petting zoo and wanted to go "ober" all the fences to get a touch closer to the animals.  She was obsessed with the "Big Booty" (Thanks, nana!) Rhino and the Tiger (Grrrrr!). 
Ivy loved the baby giraffes and was quite humored by this moon walking Polar Bear.  He walked backwards then forwards then back again over and over.  So funny!  Ivy did not pet any petting zoo animals and told us that she was certain the tiger was mean because he wasn't wagging his tail- very perceptive for a 5 year old.
The highlight of the zoo was the carousel that we rode 3 times!  Ivy, Nana, and I couldn't stop laughing at the pure joy on Tula's face as she yelled "No hands! Up and down, up and down, up and down.....!" She enjoyed this so much and is still talking about her horsey. 
Zoo, numero tres, was definitely a zoo!  We had Open House for kindergarten.  It was so weird to sit on the other side of the table and be the parent.  We are so thrilled that Ivy has Mrs. Hoffner as a teacher and Ivy seemed so big walking into that room (tear....).   Mrs. Hoffner seems very calm and her room felt like a "rainbow" (all the bright colors, I guess) to Ivy who is currently obsessed with rainbows. 
The Jessamine Early Learning Village was bustling with children, parents, teachers, but all very organized.  Ivy is so excited to walk through the lunch line and go to the library. The wonderful adventure will begin on Thursday (prayers, please)!

Friday was definitely a great last day of summer.  We soaked up adventures from sun up to sun down and knowing that we were leaving behind the flexibility and calmness of summer.  However, when I look back over the months it's been a great one- 
*memories made- check
*lots of playing- check
*lazy mornings and late nights out- check, check....
*no regrets!

Happy last day of summer and cheers to the school year ahead!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

All God's Children

Ever since Ivy's 2nd birthday we have collected items for a charity in lieu of birthday presents.  In the past we have collected donations for a church's backpack program serving students in Fayette and Jessamine Counties.  I simply chose this because I knew the need was great and I was sure that our party guests could just pick some goodies up on their next grocery store trip.  This year was different and so exciting, all because of a little car conversation.

As we were driving along about a month before Ivy's birthday she made a bold statement.  "Surely there aren't still kids who need food in their backpacks this year!" She made a huff and I jumped right into preacher mode.... there are so many children in need and you get plenty of presents from your family members.... blah blah blah.  She quickly interrupted to clarify where she was going with this, "I just mean I think there are probably babies, who don't have back packs, that need stuff too.  I want to give presents to them."   Wow, did my voice change because I realized that the giving heart we had been trying to mold through the years was shining through.  She was choosing her own charity this year and I really wasn't surprised that it involved helping babies because Ivy loves babies!

So after some research I chose, All God's Children, a home for at risk teens who are pregnant or mothering to help them get on their feet.  They provide care for the mothers and children.  Ivy wanted to know the specifics- who were the babies and what did they need?  I called and learned that currently seven babies, between the ages of 10 and 19 months, live at the home with their mothers.  Along with the seven that live there several are served throughout the week through their daycare and preschool programs.  They were in need of several items but the person I talked to suggested that we focus on one area so that we could deliver in bulk.

So last Friday, we were able to take a load of finger foods and stage 2 baby foods to All God's Children.  Ivy's eyes were in shock as she met each of the little ones that she had collected presents for.  Allowing her to be a part of picking All God's Children and then getting to see the faces' of the lives her party would impact was huge.  It made it more than worth it to her... and to me!  She is still talking about the children she saw and what other needs they might have.  She is already preparing Tula for collecting items for her birthday in September.  I am thankful for the personal blessing we receive yearly as we give back to others through our birthday celebration!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The ALL DAY Birthday

We celebrated the BIG number 5 ALL DAY!

We started with a special birthday breakfast, opening presents at home, and getting ready for party time!
Upon Ivy's request, as she has been planning the details of her FRIEND party for the past 12 months, we had a rainbow birthday party! She really may go into the party planning business as she chose everything from the colorful foods to the invitation layout.  
She was absolutely giddy seeing each friend arrive.  She was thankful to celebrate with her closest friends and was excited to see all they brought for All God's Children, the charity she chose. The delivery to the "babies" will be soon! Last night, she was thankful for the "most perfect party!"

We ended the evening with her favorite dinner.... sushi at Malone's (she's a fancy one)! Then back to Nana and Pops house to open presents.  This ALL DAY birthday was the best day my sweet 5 year old could ask for!