Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Retro Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Bill took today off from work to get ready for one of his favorite holidays.  Before the end of the night, the final touches including a fog machine and enough candy to ensure diabetes for all will be going down.

We had a fabulous time Saturday night at our neighborhood party.  Ben announced that he had eaten 13 cookies and 3 doughnuts as he was laying naked on the bathroom floor post party.  Mom commented that it served him right to have a monster tummy ache.  Ian was hesitant to go outside for the party as he is in a scared of everything phase.  He opted to stay inside for the first hour of the party working the same floor puzzle over and over.  It took the words "doughnut" to get him outside.

Bill took the boys to buy costumes very early this year for optimal selection.  Ben is a G.I. Joe Black Opps Ninja, Ian a dinosaur.  Pictures tomorrow along with our porch decked out.  People have commented that they LOVE our decorations, or is Bill smoking crack with the 5 different types of lights, 7 pumpkins, and my contribution of a giant scarecrow.  All I can say is I hoisted 50 lbs of real fruit over the front door for Christmas. I got nothing people.

Before we close out a great October tonight with trick or treating, a quick look back at past Halloweens.


A cute puppy dog infant bunting

A frog in blue Pumas

A Race Car driver

An Astronaut

2010- Buzz Lightyear (Ben)  and Mr. Potato Head (Ian) (part of Vinson Family at Disney as Toy Story characters.. aka Mom will NEVER make costumes again!)

 2011- Capt America (Ben) and a (very cute) Monkey Ian

Happy Halloween all!  Have fun, be safe, and keep a stash of the best candy for yourself!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Working on 23

Another year, another anniversary of my favorite day of the year.

October 28th has come and gone for the past 23 years with little fanfare.  I did buy a big bouquet of yellow lilies for the kitchen counter and took the dog for an extra long walk enjoying the leaves at their peak.

We spent today as a family, first at church, then at a food truck rodeo stuffing our faces with bacon covered maple bourbon doughnuts, dumplings, ice cream, and the largest, greasiest burger I've ever seen.  No calories counted, not a one on this day.

So many times I wish for a do-over. Not a single regret today. I got exactly what I wanted, a normal, nothing significant day spent with the people I love most.

Best of all, the chance to do it all again tomorrow.

Friday, October 26, 2012

An Occasional Friday Series- Gonna Wear the Hell Out of This!

I've been working on a short list of items I want to add to my fall wardrobe.  I'm concentrating mainly on work as I wear essentially the same thing on weekends, jeans and a black turtleneck and clogs.  I might, just might wear this new sweater I've ordered from Sundance.

Days here have continued to be warm, thus I'm still wearing sandals and open toed shoes (yes with a pedicure).  I found this very cute lightweight dark denim shirtwaist dress at Gap and loved it do much that I bought the scarf right off the mannequin while waiting in line to pay.  I *hope* to make this a 4 season dress with leggings underneath once colder.  By the way I get more comments on my Tom's wedges every time I wear them.  They are super comfortable and dress anything up.  By them at Nordstroms in store or online.

Next up are the white jeans.  My friend Kim, who is my style go-to, assured me that I CAN continue to wear white into fall as long as it's paired appropriately.  Not only do I get another place to wear this belt I love, but damn if I don't love these jeans.

Someone commented they hadn't worn white jeans since high school.  My comment, "since I never owned them in high school, I'm going to wear the hell out of these for as long as I (tastefully) can!"

Next up was what has been my fall uniform.  Wear it to a pumpkin patch, you bet.  To the State Fair, right again.  The crazy thing is both the cropped jeans and jacket are both from Banana Republic, a store I seldom shop in due to cost, but love their casual outfits.  I got both pieces at a Kenya fundraising yard sale and cost less than $15 together. Score.

A couple of weeks ago Bill and I did a date night which turned into Heather just shopping and Bill hanging out at the Apple Store.  I blitzed store after store trying on clothes including trying on party dresses for fun.

I've been looking for the right pair of red pants (or jeans).  Too cute!

One of the things on my list is a charcoal shift dress that I can dress up professionally for work as well as casually for a date night.

I really like this print from White House, Black Market.

But then I found this from Garnet Hill.

I am totally in  love with this dress.  It is made of super soft Merino wool and paired with a low slung chunky double wrap belt also on order from Garnet HilL I can not wait for it to get a little colder.  I have some argyle patterned tights I'm going to pair with boots for a winter look.

I *might* even be tempted to buy these suede wedge shoes in funky purple to also wear with this dress.  Wait.. who am I kidding, I would totally go for the basic, understated color!

Think I might wear the hell out of this dress?


Hell Yes. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Digging out

End of the quarter means one thing:

I'm burning the midnight oil to wrap up this semester, grade piles and piles of late work.  Really, a district wide policy that allows for late work for an entire quarter teaches what life skill exactly?

As we wrap up these last two weeks going into the election I want to take every, single blowhard politician who gives lip service to education and junk punch them. 

But first I want them to walk one day in any teacher, any school, any level.  Then they can justify cutting budgets, freezing salaries for years on end, or coming up with ridiculous names like Race to the Top that just demoralize.

If you want real education reform, it starts at home. It takes an enormous investment of time and energy (from everyone) and yes, money.

So to any politician on any level, you want my vote, show me that you value what I do and don't use me for political gain.

ps- Also don't run your campaign out of my mailbox.  If only I could take all that wasted paper used on campaign fliers and use it in the classroom for a useful purpose.

Oh wait, I just did.  I used it to teach propaganda techniques and money spent by special interest groups.      

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wake me when the hour is over

For a WHOLE FULL HOUR yesterday I was waiting on Ben at an appointment with the new psychologist. 

For a WHOLE FULL HOUR it was quiet.

For a WHOLE FULL HOUR I sat in the warm afternoon light cascading over me

For a WHOLE FULL HOUR I updated the ever present duel work/home to-do list

For a WHOLE FULL HOUR I made a small dent in my massive end of quarter grading

For a WHOLE FULL HOUR I contemplated
all the things I could do at future visits:  read a book, take a walk around the surrounding wooded area, I even thought about the luxury of a short nap.

Of course when that hour was up it was back to the traffic filled day care pick up, and poopy toddler pants, and the nightly drama that is our life. 

Worth a $40 copay to feel like we took even the smallest of steps to help, AMAZING! But equally amazing to find a whole hour to myself was icing on the cake.

Monday, October 22, 2012

So worth red paint in my favorite jeans

It was an absolute beautiful fall weekend here in NC.  Bill had wanted to get one more camping trip in before it became too cold. Saturday night we each took a kid and had a date night. 

Bill and Ben camped to my night with Ian. On our date night we walked to feed the ducks, playground time, spaghetti dinner mess, then snuggled on the couch watching Dinosaur train and eating a K pop (what Ian currently calls all suckers since Ben calls them candy pops.)

I stayed up entirely too late in a quiet house cleaning and then grading a ginormous stack of papers while watching a Downton Abbey marathon.  Sunday we did church and once Bill was home I took the boys to the NC Museum of Art fallfest.  Since they have reopened after a massive renovation I've been meaning to take them and explore. 

They had several kids themed activities including veggie stamping on canvas.  The boys loved making shapes, then making a total mess.  Mom loved researching how to get red paint out of her jeans later that night. 

In the next room was build and then draw a still life. Ben sat for nearly 30 minutes drawing, completely focused.  He was so proud of his final creation.  I think he showed every single person on the way out his art.  Ian and I took turns drawing his "happy socks" (smiley face socks he loves and keeps demanding to wear) then covering it up with Ian's contribution, scribbling.   

We toured several exhibits which I was floored at the questions Ben was asking about what medium (he knew this word?) was used and why some paintings you had to come up with what you thought they were about.  again... all this from his weekly art class at school?

Afterwards we sat outside eating Loco pops which I have yet to find a flavor I don't like. Yesterday I had pumpkin spiced chai to the boys cookies and cream. 

On the way home Ben commented that he wanted to go  back and see the other building's art.  He went on to ask if on our upcoming weekend trip to Washington DC to see the Air and Space museum if they had more museums. 

uh.. yes... and uh... YES, lots and lots of museums that have different types of art!   I'm thinking we are going to making more than one mom/Ben overnight trip before 1st grade is over.

Last night we were talking about if we wanted to continue soccer for the next season or other options.

I showed him some of the art classes offered through the Town of Cary and we signed up online for winter classes including: "Ninjas, Monsters, and Dinosaur Drawing", "Bringing the Outside Inside", and a beginning clay basics class. 

By finishing a clay basics we can then take advantage of the kids open studio open on Sundays once a month. 

In all seriousness I love that right now this is something he really loves doing, can focus on for an extended amount of time, and is proud of himself. 

A triple win, for sure.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A conversation with our daycare provider

Ms. Amy- Wow Ian you have TWO incident reports today, what happened to you (this as Ian hands her the two injury reports I've just signed)

Ian- "I fall down outside, I hit head on water fountain. I drink all water, no more"

Ms. Amy- I think Ian may get the award for most incident reports ever by a child at PCA.  You  (talking to Ian) always are such a happy boy, even when you have a big boo boo

Heather- "you know at one point I wondered if he had that disease where you can like cut your hand off and not know it. I know he doesn't but he regularly busts it at home and just keeps going strong, pointing to the bandaid on his head from hitting the brick fireplace earlier in the week."

Ms. Amy-"I'm sure having a big brother at home has toughened him up"

Heather- "yes, two of their favorite games to play are called BULL TAG and TACKLE DOWN"

Ms. Amy- "Oh my, you have your hands full."

Heather- "Understatement of the year" (thinking to myself that at pick-up just minutes earlier, Ben had a red day and also was reprimanded for throwing rocks at a school window in the after school program.)

On a totally different note two of Ian's favorite things to do are read books and puzzles.  Both are great when he needs something to help him focus and calm down. The other night he pulled out one of Ben's old 30 piece puzzles and managed to do most of it while I was making dinner. 

On another note, we are being seen later today for the appointment.  Regardless of how this treatment plays out, I know that what I am doing in THIS moment is all I can do. I have to focus on where he is today at age six and not play out worst case scenarios.

Thanks for ongoing support in the good fight. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Insert Profanity Here

This is goning be a short (ish) post for 2 reasons.

1. I have a test over 3 branches of government to write, 17 students to contact parents over grades and/or behavior, then document and then write up to administration, as well as very large stack of grading.  All of this before tomorrow and oh I still have 75% of the day left to teach. 

2.  Yesterday I lost a 25 page document and had to re-create it from scratch.

I'll throw in a 3rd.. I really don't want to write anything else at this point.

The back story is we are meeting tomorrow with a therapist for Ben's evaluation for ADHD management.  We do not want to postpone this visit as we got not so great news at a recent pediatrician visit plus we have been waiting to get in to be seen already.  She requested that we send some documentation a couple of days before for her to review.

Enter in the developmental history to be completed before this visit.  Think the movie Back to School when Rodney Dangerfield has only one question to answer on the final exam, but it had like 72 parts. 

This describes this document.  It has sections A-L each with around 20-40 specific questions.  These questions are uber detailed and frankly having to write the phrase, "history of suicide on paternal side" is not fun to write once, better yet a 2nd time. Seriously, I wanted to cry when I recounted some of the most difficult parts of raising Ben as well as recount my own background in the unfun.   

I've been working on my part (each parent has to do a separate evaluation) for the better part of a week.  Yesterday I was editing and was within maybe 10 mins of sending to be reviewed.

Horror or horrors when I send myself a final copy to keep and find that the majority of the document is gone.  After looking in every place I know and also can assure you I was saving regularly, I call Bill.  He offers to come home so you can only guess how the conversation went down.

He spent at least 2 hours pulling out the stops to find the edited finished document.  He used to run the computer labs at our (yes, small) college so when he declares that he has no logical reason why it is gone and I must start over, I trust he is right.

Insert profanity here.   

Luckily Ben was having a good night and by 8 pm I had gotten both to bed (Bill was making up lost time from work.) and I started trying to recreate what had taken an estimated 15-20 hours of time to draft. 

Bill finished his part and it was sent around 4:15 this morning and felt like a shell of the original version. No word yet if she will have time to fully review and we can keep the appointment. 

I'm keeping my fingers crossed, would you as well?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Weekend Part 2-Deep Fried Goodness

What do you get when you mix a beautiful fall day + 2 wild boys + the opportunity to eat food that equals my love of porkrinds?

It's NC state fair time!  Bill and I have gone to the fair every single fall since we moved in 1999.  When Ben was a cute, squishy 5 month old we put him in his Halloween costume, a brown bear bunting, and headed out. We didn't ride many rides that year, but I don't miss the food for anything!

Simply put, it is one of my favorite things to do all year and a highlight of living in NC.
I'm in love with this family picture.  May I see the boys this happy on the hardest of days.

Gameplan: get to the fair before the midway opened to redeem our tickets, grab scratch made biscuits and be the first in line for the kiddie rides.  The kids actually both slept until 8 am after we were out later than normal seeing our friend's band play at a local pizza place on Saturday night.  We literally got them up and put them in the car without telling them the final destination only to be met with whoops and screaming when they realized where we were!

First up, Ian's shirt says it all... FEED ME, some NC state food.  Everyone got their favorites since all calories do not count if consumed at a fair.

Ever wonder what fools willingly hauls a giant stuffed Scooby Doo around the fair.  We now fall into that category, as within the first hour Bill allowed the boys to play one of the midway games.

Make that he paid some toothless carny to let each boy swing a sledge hammer. Ben took away a giant inflatable sword, Ian a hammer.

Can we just say I thought this was a bad idea.  Mom had the forethought to take a break when they were relentlessly hitting each other as well as strangers.  We stopped near a giant tree letting them pound to their hearts content. 

Yes I got some stares from those wondering if this was some type of added benefit to the Village of Yesteryear, but I just saw it as a chance to burn off energy.

Boys. Boys now with giant inflatable weapons. Thanks, Bill.

Each of us took turns riding with the boys, Ian was especially fearless and wanted to ride everything.  I could eat up his toddler cuteness in those sunglasses.

  The boys loved the monster trucks.

But not as much as mom!

Did I mention I love the fair?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Weekend Part 1- Scarecrow Bill

There is a forthcoming picture of our front porch, decked out in Halloween lights, pumpkins a plenty, hay bales, and our most recent addition, a scarecrow Bill.

Saturday was gorgeous here in NC, sunny high of 70 with no humidity.  I took the boys to one of my favorite places in Raleigh, Logan's Trading Post.  If local and you have never been go either in Spring or Fall to buy plants. 

Not only are you supporting a a great local business they have a super yummy cafe for lunch.  Go for the marinated carrots and homemade soups, both are hands down both worth the trip. The kids loved the frequent trains that passed by, especially Ian who was screaming, "my choo choo" at the top of his lungs for everyones lunchtime enjoyment. 

First up the bounce house, hay dig for candy, then pumpkin painting. Then on to the big kahuna and the real reason I wanted to go, to make a scarecrow.  Bill offered some too big clothes and in theory a scarecrow Bill seemed to be a good idea. 

****Note to self- Next year make a scarecrow boy or even baby and it took an enormous amount of hay and newspaper to stuff a 3x shirt!****

One massive splinter in mom's hand later, and Ben had all but finished up and was trying to take a bag of hay home for his project box. 

I did set my foot down at the idea of hay in my kitchen, thinking of some horrid episode of Trading Spaces where they glued hay to the kitchen walls.  Instead he took home extra twine and cardboard. 

Final result was a very proud Ben and a perfect addition to our porch rocking chair. 

Next up tomorrow, part 2 of our weekend. Deep fried goodness at the NC State Fair!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Big Fall Family Fun List!

I LOVE fall.  Hands down, it is my favorite season of the year.  A couple of items on the list are holdovers from the summer we enjoyed (or never got to complete)
What's going down at the Vinson house this fall?
  1. Trip to Hill Ridge farm pumpkin patch
  2. State Fair!!!!!!!
  3. Decorate the house/carve pumpkins for Halloween
  4. Help plan a block party
  5. Build a Scarecrow at Logan's Harvest Day
  6. Participate in a costume parade
  7. Visit Eno river state park (picnic/nature hike)
  8. SPCA Howl-A Ween (dog costume contest)
  9. Lego Store Build Saturday
  10. Nature scavenger hunt with the V boys
  11. Bill/Ben camping trip
  12. Paddle boats at Bond park
  13. Pick apples
  14. Jump in a GIANT pile of leaves
  15. Make at least one fall-themed craft
  16. Try out a new area playground
  17. Make an indoor campfire for Smores
  18. Cooking afternoon with our friend Katie L.
  19. Family game or puzzle night
  20. Y Guides Event
  21. Ride the New Hill train
  22. Make a 2012 stepping stone for our pond
  23. Food truck rodeo at the NC Museum of Art

Up this weekend, the State Fair. Bring on some NC fried goodness and people watching at its best.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Double take

I picked Ben up last week at after school only to see what looked like some 1977 Junior High gym coach running towards me. 

Seriously, given some knee high tube socks and sweat bands I might have asked him if I needed to run the mile.

What the Hell Bill?  When I said, "Ben had a pair of red shorts in the dryer and needs to wear one for fire safety day" he could have picked one of TWO different pairs, both that fall into Ben's infamous swishy short category.

Instead he picked Ian's 24 month shorts,

and gave them to Ben to wear.

Even funnier was when I picked up Ian he had on the exact same shorts, just the blue version.

Ben usually picks his clothes or at least part of each day.  Looks like I need to also help Bill in the same department.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Maybe not a 20% weekend, but close

Actually I don't think I would know what to do if someone told me I had to only do 20% of what I normally try to knock out over the 48 hours called Saturday and Sunday, but this weekend might come close.

Friday night we took the kids to my school's homecoming football game.  The kids did great, we sat with fellow teachers families and I had the chance to see several old students home from college.

After being at this school since we opened our doors 6 years ago it's unbelievably satisfying to see all that has been built from the ground up.

Saturday it was insanely warm, sunny and beautiful. We took advantage of time to walk the dog, work outside on Halloween decorations, plant fall flowers and do some much needed yardwork.

I sat on the porch swing and finished a book while Bill took the kids to the library and for Halloween costumes.  Both nights I went to bed early and tried to knock out the last of the cold.  I also managed to get some much needed exercise in both days.

Sunday was the opposite of warm, as it was cold and rainy.  Bill stayed at home with the kids in pjs until noon while I went to church and hit the grocery. 

Bill and Ben went to their first Y Guides meeting and both returned excited about upcoming events including camping, Krispy Kreame behind the scenes tour and a camp jamboree in November.

Ian and I stayed behind while I finished up some cooking, housework, and work for school. Once home the boys carved our first pumpkin of the season and continued working on the outside decorations (we are STILL not finished, make that Bill is still not finished.)

Maybe not the most exciting weekend, but I'm ready to start a busy week without being sick.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Quick check in

Not quite sure how it got to be Friday but I've been battling a nasty cold all week.  Ian has been sick as well, so outside of work life has been piling up.  Bill has been gone several nights so once I've gotten kids in bed I've been comatose or close to it zonked out on cold meds. 

The good news is I'm better today, as well as Ian.  So far Ben and Bill have escaped being sick due to my hyperness about handwashing and cleaning surfaces. 

We are planning on taking the boys to my school's homecoming tonight as well as finishing decorating the house for Halloween over the weekend.  Ben and Bill have their first Y-Guides meeting Sunday. 

My overall goal is to get caught up with housework and school work to start the week off not feeling overwhelmed. 

Sometimes you need a laying low week from everyone (especially since you don't want to spread germs.)  That sums up this week.

Happy weekend everyone-

Monday, October 1, 2012

Welcome October

Pumpkin patch visits, Halloween party planning, jumping in giant piles of leaves, cool nights that beg for the first fire of the season, fleeting warm afternoons reminiscent of summer days, butternut squash soup with Parmesan crisps, my fall/winter uniform of my favorite jeans, a black turtleneck, and clogs, toddler overalls for Ian and jeans with double knees for sliding for Ben, sleeping curled up with my favorite blanket, returning inside on cold mornings for a needed fuzzy jacket, crisp apples in lunch bags, the NC State Fair in all it's deep-fried goodness, decked out front porches a glow in Halloween decorations thanks to my 3 kids at heart, warm fall spiced lattes, steakhouse chili in triplicate batches, costume shopping with the boys for the perfect ensemble, trick or treating in our beloved neighborhood, fall walks for leaves and other outdoor treasures a plenty, time to celebrate my favorite season of the year once again.

Another month of limited to-do lists other than to enjoy all 31 days with my two favorite pumpkin pickers.