Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Wrap Up

In April I/we

-Celebrated Ian's 3rd birthday with a Jump Zone party and monster themed cupcakes
-Had a week long spring break/Camp Mommy with lots of fun places visited. I <3 Three Bears Acres!
-Read 3 books, The Nobodies Album is making Best of 2013 for sure. You're Not Doing it Right, sadly a disappointment.  No Taco Party, Part II as hoped
-Took the boys to Touch a Truck
-Went to the Duke documentary Film Festival and vow to buy a weekend pass for 2014
-Developed 2 new workout plans with the trainer involving running a series of laps and stairs and using the TRX bands. I've been doing it 3x for the better part of a month and wow it is intense upper body and core workout.
-Volunteered three times with Ben's class
-Got Ben and Ian registered and enrolled for summer camps. Hello Jr Jazzercise.
- Helped chaperone 50 awesomely well behaved students to Philadelphia, Amish Country, and Gettysburg on a History Club field trip
-Regretted buying Ben a play musket on said field trip.  He is one step away from reliving the Lincoln assassination on a nightly basis
-Purchased new spring clothes including 20th high school reunion dress contender
-Ben and Bill camping weekend at Camp Seagull with Y Guides
-Completed the purge of all Baby and Toddler loot, almost all gone minus one box leaving tomorrow en route to a happy 1 year old ready to get his Lightening McQueen on.

I love April for the abounding flowers, including one of my bushes with it's buds a burstin' a few weeks ago. This past week house/deck/porches were powerwashed, new plants bought, and dreams of summer porch sitting realized.

No April wrap up is complete without this beauty of an actual musket demonstration we happened to have timed our Gettysburg trip to see.  Awesome on all kinds of levels of history dorkery.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Friends only let friends listen to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

Cue to Saturday night when my friend came over to let our kids play (her son is a couple of years older, but did great with Ian) and grill out.  It was the first time using our newly powerwashed screened in back porch and it was the perfect way to spend a Saturday night.

She showed up with cheese, alcohol, and chocolate and a killer playlist including the above title circa 1982 funk band classic.  We played outside, prepped food, danced in my kitchen, and chatted up the events of the last couple weeks. After dinner we walked to get ice cream with the boys. I was asleep well before 11 pm being the fun loving, thrill seeking middle aged mom I am.

The rest of the weekend was fairly uneventful including grading this gazillion number of projects involving 1920s biographies on a bag, Depression era photobooks all to Season 2 blitz of Arrested Development.  Ian and I hung out, playing with cars, watching Dinosaur train, eating pancakes for breakfast, sleeping until 7 each morning. Yesterday I did a ton of yardwork before the rain moved in, we went to church and ran a bunch of errands before Bill got home with Ben from their camping weekend.

Last night I met up with some teacher friends at what is becoming our go-to place for margaritas.  As I was going in I pushed my body against the window in some lame mime-like fashion trying to get their attention.  Not noticing I was hovering over some unsuspecting couple eating dinner, it was too embarrassingly funny when I had to make the walk of shame past their table to meet up with my friends.

Bill reported he and Ben had a good weekend.  Ben tried lots of new activities not including the Joy Boy Boat event.  Pictures to come as once home last night he was long since asleep, tired from the weekend.

The six week countdown until summer break is on.  The "eat ice cream poster child" is starting early.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Joy Boy boat cruise is the tip of the iceburg

Oh hi, it would be Friday and the best intentions to post this week have instead been replaced by time spent:

1. getting unearthed at work
2. getting unearthed at home
3. falling asleep at inappropriate moments.

Let's make that falling asleep in class while talking.  I'm mortified that it happened again with the same students, including my old next door neighbor's son!

Actually the week has gone down well.  I met up with friends, took the boys, ok threatened, a nasty 3 year old sassy Ian within an inch of his life at Science Night at Ben's school.  I finished two books I've been reading over the month, lots of stuff related to school including puling together a speakeasy with jazz music for my history classes.

*Note no alcohol, rather enough soda and doughnuts to encourage diabetes as a graduation present for all.

Ian has had a horrible week and we are moving to trying something new in conjunction with his teachers after time spent in the directors office multiple days. Did I mention I have a love/hate relationship with Age 3.   Lucky me I get him all weekend alone.

Actually, we are planning some time to play at home, with a friend who is coming over to grill out and keep me company (and drink), plans to walk to feed ducks and get ice cream.  We are going to the farmers market to get plants with a stop at our favorite Raleigh park on Sunday after we swing by my work.

I have close to 150 projects to grade so I reckon my nights are going to be filled with mindless TV and grading once Ian is down.  Do I hear Mad Men or an Arrested Development marathon in honor of TODAY being one month and counting to the release of new episodes. Can you taste the excitement of the return of the Cornballer!!!

Bill and Ben are heading to an all weekend camp out near the coast with their Y Guides troop.  It is the district "jamboree type" event for the spring.  I'll have to admit that I'm a little jealous looking at the agenda.

I didn't even ask what the "Joy Boy Boat Cruise" even was. Frightening.

Happy weekend-

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

History Club Trip!

Do you recognize this room?  (Beth H. you can't answer!)

In this room the Declaration of Independence was written and later signed.  It's the same space that our Constitution was also signed after many historic compromises.  It is hallowed ground to those of us who try to inspire the same level of interest as a profession to uninterested teenagers.

I'm not going to lie, I think I almost got a little choked up listening to the presentation by the National Park Service talk about the history in the room.

I'm back at work today after taking yesterday to recover from 72 hours on the go continually.  I have a few pictures to share and stories to tell because of course on OUR trip we see a wreck happen within feet of our group crossing a street,  a NORMAL free the weed campaign next to Boy Scouts playing frisbee in front of Independence Hall, and oh yes... the morning WE are at Gettysburg we happened upon a Civil War Confederate reenactment showing how to fire muskets.

Commence wet pants for that last event.

The trip was total history dorkery at it's best.  Case in point, these awesome socks purchased at the National Constitution Center.

History rules people.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday Gumbo

Check in-

Ian's 3rd birthday party was a success.  Bill was the voice of reason and talked me out of a party at the house. Instead we opted for our favorite jump place.  We invited Ian's friends from school and our neighbors.  Ian outlasted every child at the party by a full hour after everyone had left. My friend Eileen of Sugar Mama's cakes made these super cute monster cupcakes.

Ian had his 3 year old check up this week and clocked in at 31 lbs and 37 inches, 50% for both percentiles.  He was especially proud of his new Spiderman underwear and mom was equally proud to say that he has made leaps and bounds on potty training.

Sunday we headed out to Touch a Truck and climbed all over anything with wheels.  Ben didn't believe me when I told him that my Push up trumped his ice cream sandwich until he tasted it! Once again Ian proved that he is the poster child for ice cream enjoyment.

This week has been especially sad, starting with the horrible bombings in Boston on Monday and then yesterday hearing of the news of the defeat in the Senate of most every measure on gun control.  My heart again is broken for the parents of the Sandy Hook shooting, many who were in the gallery watching a complete and total disservice to the life and memory of their children.  I again found myself sidestepping planned lessons at work to focus on the implications of the bombings as well as focusing on the potential outcome of the Senate. Both events, a reminder to hug my kids more because I can.

Yesterday I met with Ben's teacher for his end of year conference and then met with his counselor at LDC later same day.  Both were productive meetings in which I didn't feel like a giant parental failure for once.  On the academic front Ben has moved from being behind in reading at the start of the school year to being right on target and reading on a beginning 2nd grade level with 2 months left to go in this school year.  He has asked for copies of several books we keep checking out for his own growing bedroom shelf collection. His teacher gave us several suggestions to keep him reading and moving to harder books over the summer.

On the behavior front he has made progress and his teacher noted that the most recent med change reflects better attention overall and some appetite at lunch.  After much discussion, we are not going to pursue any type of IEP or 504 designation for him.  Both his doctor, counselor and now teacher all agree that they don't think the school would classify him as needing services as he is on grade level and has made measurable growth since last year.  Bill and I agreed but also want to keep it on the front burner should things change in the 2nd grade.

We have been blessed with two strong teachers in a row and again asked for a teacher placement and recommendation which was brought up before I could even ask at the meeting.  His teacher this year also is passing along some of the modifications she has been using all year like preferential seating to his 2nd grade teacher.  If at some point we need to move to a legal classification, we will.  We are ending the school year in the best possible place, and for that I am very thankful.

Tomorrow I'm leaving around 4:30 am with 55 high school students en route to Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and the Amish country.  Before you an even get in line to slap sense into me, I wanted to go and jumped at the change to chaperone along with 5 other members of my department.  I have taught many of the participants and frankly they are good kids whom I'm not worried about having to make middle of the night phone calls to parents. Simply be along just as a chaperone along for the ride with my own room, 8 full children under 7 free hours to read or watch movies on the bus, and did I mention that I will be at Gettysburg on the 150th anniversary?

Call me crazy if you must, but do wish us some good travel karma and for our general safety while gone.   I've already promised Bill a t-shirt from the "Amish Experience" attraction we are hitting up on the drive up.  Somehow "Amish" and "experience" makes me think churning butter will be involved or maybe making us help build a barn.  Something tells me as we pass through Intercourse, PA the bus will be filled with potty humor, likely lead by yours truly.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday Sweet Ian

My Sweet Ian, 

Today you are three.  What a crazy ride the last year has brought. A year ago you were just starting to string words together. Today you have the gift of gab. A year ago we should have bought stock in Band Aids as you were unsteady on your feet.

Yesterday under a beautiful, warm spring afternoon you were running with the neighborhood boys trying to do most anything Ben and his friends included you in playing.

You have flourished this past year as we visited family in Florida and Atlanta, saw Uncle Brian, took trips to Disney, on a train, the beach, the zoo, area museums, and many a sun drenched afternoon just playing at home.

At three you love shoveling sand, trucks of all shapes and sizes that haul your collection of rocks and sticks, Legos stuffed in your pockets, and riding our menagerie of scooters and trikes.

You have thrived at school with teachers who love you and have unending patience with your potty successes (and misses) as well as your desire to be into everything and anything.  Ms. Jigna and Ms. Heather report you love puzzles best and are first to run over to any hurt friend as ask if they are ok.

I find you most days at pickup snuggled with a book or at the knee of your teacher listening intently to one being read.  I'm frankly amazed at any amount of focus after a long day at school and hope this is an indicator of future school readiness.  

As your mom I hope you will remember that I strived  for meaning through activity and time spent with you and Ben over anything I could buy.  I hope that when you parent your own children that you will remember you were loved regardless of any antics infamous with this difficult age.  Even on the the most trying and exhausting of days your laugh helps me remember that while the days are long, the time short.

You continuously tell me you are a big brother, not a little brother.  You can hold your own with Ben in most any fight and frankly at nearly 20 lbs lighter you are a scrappy contender.  You contribute to our loud and chaotic family life.  You have taken on more responsibility in this last year, and for that I am proud of your growing maturity.

When I promised at our much anticipated ivf transfer that I would see you again in nine months, I had hopes that you would complete our family. I wished that you would grow into a loving, sweet child. Everyday you prove that dream reality. You are a gift of love and light.  

Happy birthday my littlest blue-eyed boy.  May your next trip around the sun be as bright at your smile.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring break week recap

While not officially over until 12:01 am Sunday night, for all intensive purposes our week away from school is coming to an end.  While we would have loved to have had a mini-vacation not involving our kitchen table we have had a good week.  While on spring break we have:

1.  Visited 3 Bears Acres.
2.  Saw the Titanic Exhibit at the NC Museum of Natural History
3.  Ate Locopops, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, biscuits, hushpuppies
4.  Toured many a local park on a week of mostly sunny, warm afternoons
5.  Mom refilled the freezer with meals (*only mom cared about this item)
6.  Pulled out art supplies and got messy
7.  Started working on plans for a small raised bed veggie garden
8.  Planned a summer vacation
9.  Did lots of yard work
10. Purchased most of Ian's upcoming birthday gifts
11. Did a minimal amount of school work
12. Hit the library for new books
13. Overnight trip to the beach
14. Toured the USS North Carolina
15. Played with sand, chalk, our fort. Mom's car is a repository for found sticks and rocks.
16. Walked out dog daily to the neighborhood lake to feed the ducks
17. Mom managed 4 gym workouts including meeting with the trainer at o'dark thirty
18. Booked a mother's day weekend trip for Mom + V boys
19. Finalized summer day camp plans.  * Jr Jazzercise was booked first and we planned around the one week it is offered all summer.
20. Created a big spring family fun list

While the weekend is just starting and several items are on the agenda including mom going to the Full Frame Documentary film festival and our going most likely to Durham Science and Life, NC Zoo, or Pullen Park before weekend out.

Overall we've had a good break from school and work and with 9 more weeks until summer break we are already jumping with excitement.

Ben, Ian, their Mom

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Three Bears Acres

If you asked the average kid to list what they would include in theme park I'm fairly sure you would get a rehash of any Disney trip.  But would they include?

  • mud kitchen
  • sling shot arena
  • archery
  • paddle boats
  • s'mores by a fire pit
  • hay jump
  • maze
  • giant jumping pillow pit
  • play speed boat
  • massive play structure with unique multi-kid swings, forts, and slides a plenty
  • cargo net
  • fishing
  • giant tubes to roll down a hill
  • and a slalom downhill 4 person racing slide

When my friend told me about Three Bears Acres and that her kids had spent almost four hours, I mentioned that I bet my boys would stay until closing.  We did.  I literally had to pry a pot full of mud out of Ian's hand and Ben off the jumping pit as the owner was giving us the stink eye to leave.

I want to encourage Triangle friends to check out Three Bears Acres.  While a little drive, about 45 minutes from west Cary, the drive out was nice filled with scenic lakes and is located near Falls Lake camping. The location in Creedmoor is a 15 minute drive off of 540.

I talked to the owner about having Ben's Y guides plan their end of the year family fest. She was all too happy to talk about cutting us a group rate with s'mores included for each participant. She also would allow us rope off the picnic area for a specific time without an extra charge.

It was obvious that parents planned this location, from super clean restrooms with a changing table loaded with extra wipes to a snack stand with reasonable priced kid choices.

I would recommend packing lunches and several snacks.  They have a shady picnic tables and benches everywhere.  I would also recommend taking a change of clothes or at least extra towels as expect to be dirty.

Case in point, Ian's clothes

I asked the owner how this kid paradise came to fruition and it was just as you imagined, she asked her own school age kids as well as many nights over wine with like-minded mom friends for ideas.  Not only is this one of the most kid-friendly places we've visited, just try not to race your kids down the giant slide or jump along side your kids.  While Ben and Ian were exhausted, so was I from playing.

Pricing is located on their website and was in line with most of the area jump houses and paid museums.  They are offering year long passes and are adding water play for the summer.

*Of note is a reduced rate for kids ages 2-5 on Thursday mornings. This place was planned by parents, not a corporate behemoth.

If local, please check out this newest place to play.  Word of mouth is the best type of advertising.  I would like them succeed providing family fun for years to come as well as help a local small business.

Happy (tired) kids = Happy parents

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

We're on a boat. A really, really BIG boat

Saturday I drove the boys down for a short overnight visit to visit our family friends the Hunters.  The goal was two fold:

1.  Get the boys out of the house since Campy Mommy is in full effect this spring break week
2.  Pick up more teaching files from US History teacher guru Laura H.

From the last time we had all five boys all six years and under we knew that it would not be a trip of relaxation, but rather on par with wrangling cats.  By end of night we actually had SEVEN children we were responsible.  *More in a minute as neither Laura or I will never, ever be pregnant again.

We met up in Southport, NC for a spring festival.  Instead of going to the festival we hit a nearby playground.  The 3 year olds were completely entranced with the "music tars" in a store window as we wandered along.   Mom was pushing for a stop by this awesome outdoor bar that serves shrimp and cocktails.  Sadly we settled for Trolley Stop hot dogs.  I did get my with cheddar cheese, chili, and slaw and it was this side of food heaven.

We ate by the garrison looking out over the water and let the boys chase each other on the grass.  We then headed by the Maritime museum where Ian and Laura's 3 year old twins, Max and Leo managed to touch every.single.thing with a "do not touch" sign. Note that other than laughing hysterically at a pan flute playing vendor we never graced a piece of the festival.

We headed back to Laura's mom's house on Oak Island where we settled in on the porch chatting  while the kids did more chasing and running around for the afternoon.  At some point child #6 (an sweet as sugar 8 year old girl that Laura was babysitting for her mom's friend) showed up and we took her along with us to the beach.

While the weather outside was warm and sunny, the ocean was cold and wet.

Don't tell Max, Leo, Ian, Ben, or Eli.  All jumped in the ocean within the first few minutes of arriving leading to a sad, sad progression home earlier than we had planned.

The little kids went to bed while the older ones watched a movie until the entrance of child #7, a 4 year old that showed up at nearly 9 pm, whose parents were also going to a 60th birthday party Laura's mom was hosting off site on the same night.

Cue to Laura and I with WTF looks as no one knew this kid was coming and all hell broke loose once he arrived. I immediately put Ben to bed and Laura did the same with Eli.  Note kid count is now two and by 11:00 it was zero.

The next day as we were driving home I stopped at the USS North Carolina and took the boys on what has to be described as an endurance test of all feats.

We climbed from top to bottom of the battleship. The boys were in testosterone overdrive and mom was  worn slap out.  I definitely score points that as we are hardcore potty training Ian and only using diapers at night, I did the whole ship without an accident.   A fun, but exhausting short road trip.  While tiring the battleship was really, really cool.

Monday, April 1, 2013

March Wrap Up

In March I/we

- Read two books with close to 900 pages between them. Granted one was on audiobook, but it clocked in at 504 pages. The Dovekeepers will make a best book of 2013.  I finished the other, Serena, just to hate on the myriad of ways they killed people in the timber industry for book club discussion later this week.
-Just started You're Not Doing it Right by Michael Ian Black.  Yes, of Taco Party Fame. High expectations abound.
- Bill and I saw comedian Jim Gaffigan for a belated anniversary gift.
- Managed to work out at least once a week, sometimes 2-3 times. No personal training all month :(
- Long weekend visit from Grandmommy Pam, Uncle Jamie including Ben seeing his first live hockey game.
-Weekend spent in Wilmington with friends including touring the USS North Carolina and wrangling our 5 boys .
-Massive freeze ahead went down and have now restocked my freezer for rest of the school semester
- Made spring crafts with the kids including an Easter egg tree for our yard.  Does building a fort of moving boxes count as a craft?
-Ongoing potty training success with Ian, including climbing all over the battleship yesterday and not one accident.  Major mom points or mom dodged a bullet points.
- I volunteered twice at Ben's school and Bill chaperoned a field trip to NC Museum of Natural Sciences
- I made 120 cupcakes for my high school students, Ben's story and snack, and Ian's class party.
-Ongoing purge of all baby/toddler items.  Goal to finish over spring break.
-Y Guides trips for Ben including a monster truck rally and overnight camp out at Marbles

By far the most awesome thing that happened this month was this:

Not pancakes, but who ate them. Ben has been eating more, putting on weight, and in general reacting well to a new medication.  My fingers are crossed that by his 7th birthday he will be in range for normal weight.

No April Fool's joke on me, this is a step in the right direction.