Friday, August 29, 2014

Thank You Teachers

I have now met all of the new teachers including a full blown information night tonight at Z's school. I really do think this is going to be another great year for them. I loved their teacher's from last year and I will never forget all that they did for my kiddos. I have wanted to share the love and show the two thank you cards that we made at the end of last year, but I never got around to it. I know this is the worst time to spark ideas for end of the year thank you cards since school has just begun, but I figure it's better late than never. Here goes...

For SJ I used her recent portrait from her 4 year session and customized a Thank You message to be printed out on a 4x6. I found an endless amount of chalkboard fonts online and for the chalkboard background I went with the one from this link. I picked up some clear party favor bags from Target and filled the bag with dove chocolates.

I was so happy with how they all turned out. By all, I mean several. Z had one teacher to say thank you to. SJ has an entourage of therapists, teachers, and other team members that we want to show our gratitude to.

 When I went into SJ's school this year I saw that the secretary had her thank you card displayed on her desk and it made me smile. 

For Z we took a different approach. I made a little book out of all the decades that he dressed up as throughout the year. I can now see that I blogged about 50's day, 70's, and 80's day, but I don't think I ever did a post about when he dressed like he was 100 years old!? What a shame. Here are some photos of that.

I can't believe I never posted these! Anyway, back to the thank you card. This was the cover which was a phrase that was significant to the whole class.

On the inside there were a couple group photos from the Christmas party and field trip and it said 

Mrs. Baker was my Kindergarten teacher.

Then a couple photos of Z dressed in 1950's attire (for the 50th day of school) and it said "thanks to her I had many HAPPY DAYS". Then along with the 1970's photos it said "she made school GROOVY"

Turn the page to the 1980's and you'll see that she was also "TOTALLY AWESOME", and lastly for the 100th day when he dressed like he was 100 years old it said "Now I feel wise beyond my years". 

I know it's not the most polished booklet. It was just a simple little token which cost next to nothing, but I was extremely flattered by his teacher's response. She said it was the best thank you card she had ever received and had planned to laminate it. I'm so glad that she liked it because she really is an amazing teacher. 

In fact I would like to say thank you to all the teachers that might be reading this. I have had lots of friends who taught over the years and I had some pretty great teachers growing up, but I never understood just how invaluable teachers are until my children started school. From that point on I became eternally grateful for all that you do for our children and for our future! What a calling. Whether you just started, or are about to, best wishes this year. 

I am going to try and do some link ups more often so today I am partying with


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Collections From The First Day

Z started 1st grade on Tuesday the 19th. 

J praying over Z before school.

I took a couple photos on his way out the door, but I saved what I considered his "first day outfit" with his new shoes and clothes for Thursday because I wanted to get pics of him and his sister together and SJ didn't start until Thursday. 
I wasn't too emotional dropping him off since this is his second year at this school and he's been ready for first grade for a while now. However I did get teary eyed after we bumped into Mrs. B, his kindergarten teacher from last year. She enthusiastically greeted us as we approached the building. Then she began talking to a mom who has multiple children that have had Mrs. B as a teacher. I overheard Mrs. B say "well, I hope you don't miss seeing me too much". Then the mom said, well there is always next year! Chloe will be going into Kindergarten" That's when it hit me that SJ will be in Kindergarten next year and she will not have Mrs. B. It was one of those weird mom moments that I can't explain because I love the deaf school that SJ goes to and there is no doubt that she will have an amazing kindergarten teacher. If it wasn't for SJ we wouldn't live here and have the privilege of knowing Mrs. B at all. So it doesn't make sense for me to get choked up, but it was a little tear for the reminder that our lives are a bit different than most. No big deal though. 

As far as SJ's first day she did great. 

She was at the school most of the summer anyway so it's not a huge transition other than teachers and it's a much longer day. This year will be the same as last except new teachers, a new classmate, and no nap time. I think there are about  40 children in the school total which includes from babies up to 2nd grade. Half of those children are in preschool with SJ and in her specific speech class there are only TWO children. She has a new partner this year, but it is a little girl she knew from last year. 

 I haven't had much time to get to know their teachers yet, but I can tell that both Z and SJ both have warm, caring, inspiring teachers again this year. Praise the Lord! 

Transportation is a little different this time around because we will NOT be using the bus. I thought maybe SJ would ride the bus this year, but I had some reservations and in the end it didn't work schedule wise. SJ's school begins at 8:30 and Z is at 9:00. They are only 6 minutes apart so this works out perfectly for me to drop them off. However, SJ gets out at 3:30 and Z school gets out at 3:55. This should be fine, except their pick up system at Z's school is weird. I have to park the car walk in and sign him out everyday and get out the door before the buses load. That is why they want you there at 3:40 which is cutting it close. Last year I conceded and had him ride the bus, which I wasn't too worried about since Kindergartners are kept separate from the rest of the school, but this year I am determined to make it work so that I can bring him myself. I feel good about this decision, but there have already been some struggles like SJ throwing a fit and refusing to go into Z's school. Or in a couple weeks when they are closing the road to SJ's school for a while which will double my commute! I'm brainstorming what the plan for that will be.

 I feel so incredibly optimistic about this year. I have shared before about how good it feels to be settled for now compared to the trials that we've recently been through. Now it's like, we know the drill. We have a system in place. WE'VE GOT THIS!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Weeee Did It!!!!

Well guys Z started the 1st grade two days ago and SJ starts tomorrow. We have officially survived summer break 2014. One more quick disclaimer before I wrap this thing up, I do love my children. I love having them near me. I enjoy all the nostalgia of the endless summer days. BUT it is a challenge to allow the children to appreciate all that summer has to offer when you live in a modest apartment with no indoor or outdoor play options. We're happy, we're thriving, all is well. No pity needed, I am just keeping it real. School being in session lifts an enormous weight off of my shoulders. I feel good about the 12 weeks that we did have at home though, and I can't believe that this is the final 6 activities to add to the 66 already listed!

1. Dancing

Alright, I admit it this one was for the mama for sure, but it's a family activity that we did together and I am so thrilled that I had the opportunity. It was 1940's week at the Cincinnati Museum center, which is my FAVORITE time period.

I dressed the part and although I didn't do any swing dancing I watched the experts and had a great time.

The kids never turn down a chance to go to the museum so they had fun too.

2. Rest

Maybe resting is an activity, but it needs to be on the list because sometimes that is what we need. Especially when all three kiddos get a virus. I hauled all three of them to the doctor and he said they would be okay within a couple days and they were. At least it happened before school.

3. Movie in the Park

I love these outdoor movies! This particular one was a showing of The Bee Movie at the Nature center where they served rice crispy type snacks made with honey combs. How cute! I'll admit that it was cold and it sprinkled a little bit, but I gave the movie and the atmosphere two enthusiastic thumbs up!

4. Sports Complex

In anticipation of summer I got a groupon for the gym where the kids had swim lessons last year. They also have trampolines and a giant play land. We still have a membership there until September so we'll be back during the school year too.

5. Ikea

Z and SJ LOVE Ikea. I think they love it more than a 30 year suburben mom on a budget. In other words they really really love it. Of course the ball pit and the movies are a big hit, but they even like the food court and kids decor. This was our first visit all summer. I used the opportunity to pick up some bowls and dish towels. Fun for all.

6. Community Story Time

I mentioned the reading clubs that Z participated in this year. Well, I finally managed to get him to Barnes and Noble where he turned in his reading list for a free Ninjago book. While we were there we saw that they were going to have a reading of Pete the Cat and the New Guy. Z loves Pete the Cat so we went back on Saturday for their story time.

That's it. I plan to make a comprehensive list for myself so that next year when I am in the same boat (as far as I know we will still be here next year and I'll share more about that later) I will remember all the fun that we had and be remind myself how The Messies do summer.

Monday, August 18, 2014

All of The Things I Haven't Been Doing

Every week I have blogged about what's happening on the home front over the summer. We've done a lot and I have one final update that I will report about soon. However, there are a lot of things I haven't done since school let out, and I thought it would be appropriate to share those things too.

Remember the new years resolutions I wrote about at the beginning of the year? Yeah, me neither, but I looked them up and doing Fly Lady was one of them. Well, the only kind of flying I've done lately was our summer trip to Vermont. There has been no schedule, no cleaning, and no organizing other than the  little bit of maintenance it takes to keep our home from looking like the victim of a tornado.

Oh and remember when I talked about going Gluten free or at least eating somewhat healthy? Well, most Ben & Jerry's ice-cream is Gluten free so that much I have stayed true to. Yeah, pretty much all bets are off this summer. Our diet would absolutely mortify Jarod, Jenny and Jillian. By which I mean the subway guy, Jenny Craig diet lady, and girl from the biggest loser.

Then there is this really cool program called where children can learn computer science. Z does  used to do the lessons all the time. The point is, it's another one of those really wonderful ideas that just hasn't been realistic to implement recently.

There was a time when I did cloth diapers and reusable shopping bags. There was also a time I was going to finish redoing this website! The list could go on, but do I feel bad? No. This summer I've handled what I can handle. This whole section of life for that matter. J has been in school full time and some overtime. I've been in single-mom mode and even if that wasn't my excuse I don't feel guilty for not being super mom/wife/woman. And of course you shouldn't either (just in case anyone reads this and has those feelings, not that any woman ever would). I mean, it would be super if I could keep my children from coloring every inch of their bodies with a marker

or if I didn't send the school lunches packed up in breast milk storage bags

or if I didn't discover an old avocado in the kids room hiding among the children's stuffed animals.

That would be super, but I'll take what I can get. I probably shouldn't use the word SUPER, because I am superb in many areas, perfection is more of what I am referring too. Regardless of all that I haven't done, I feel like we've had a successful summer. For us today is the very last day before school starts back up. It's a super fun Monday for us, I hope it will be for you too!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer's Caboose

I can't believe it. It's almost here. The end of summer break. It wasn't so bad that I can't stand to look at it for another second, it's just the feeling of accomplishment that makes me giddy. I knew it would be tough, and it was. Some days were better than others, but what I am really here to write about last week. The first week in August. 

Let's take a look at some of my phone photos to see what we did for our boredom busters. 

1. Yard Sales

I am totally digging yard sale season and it can be a fantastic family activity. Sure my little ones weren't thrilled with the idea when I introduced it, but we struck gold when we came upon three houses in a row with young families that had lots of gently used items that they were practically giving away. Actually, some of it they were literally giving away. We showed up right before the sale ended and they were going to donate the items anyway so they said take what you want. The kids and I walked away with bags of stuff and a smile on our faces. 

 I got some cute tops the one in this pic still has the tag on it.

I got so many pajamas that I had to divide them up and give them away! 

I also had to clean out our closets to make room so the next day I was able to pay it forward by giving away some of the stuff that still looks great, but isn't worn anymore. When I put Z to bed that night he actually THANKED me for taking him to the yard sale. Happy day!

2. Company

We don't usually have people over because we are so squished in our little abode. However, last week my brother and niece and nephew were in the area so they stopped by. We ate frozen pizza and fruit salad and the kids had playtime. It makes me we want to have friends and family over more often! 

3. National Night Out

There was a festival in the parking lot of a nearby Target store where all of our local heroes came out with trucks, boats, and equipment that you could actually go interact with. It was a way to promote awareness of crime prevention and community safety. There were also tons of vendors giving away freebies including dinner, snow cones, and cotton candy. I am telling you we had a blast! And it was completely free. You know I love free. 

It was Sedona's first time trying cotton candy. I love how that is all you see in the photo above.

4. Sleep Over 

We spent a couple nights at my parents house last week. Our husbands all had work to do so it was just my mom, sister in law, me, and 6 children ages 6 and under. When my sil told my niece E that we were going to have a slumber party she froze, got wide eyed, and said "Wait a minute! Do you know what that's called!?" Then raising her voice to a shriek she said "SLEEP OVER!!!" and started to dance around.  The next day My sil did their hair in matching pig tails and they looked sooo cute.

 It was a nice visit

5. TV 

We like to stay active, but I also wanted to mention that sometimes the kids veg out on netflix (when I can get them to slow down for 20 minutes if you know what I mean). I didn't think my summer boredom busters list would be complete without mentioning this familiar summer pastime. The above photo was taken at a Doctors visit. We've had a lot of those lately with getting school physicals and all.

6. Nature time 

The Cincinnati Nature Center Playscape is one of the coolest places for kids that I have ever visited. They just celebrated their 3 year anniversary and had a big party with crafts, scavenger hunts, and prizes. The weather was gorgeous! What a way to finish out the final days of summer. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SJ's 2nd Year of Preschool

I can't believe this will be SJ's last year of preschool. I never  necessarily even planned for my children to even go to preschool, but as you know SJ case is a little different. The idea that a year from now she will be starting kindergarten really shocks me! I suppose I am getting ahead of myself. One year at a time. I am so very anxious (in a good way) to see what this year will hold for her.

You may have noticed I have a page on my blog now that is dedicated strictly to SJ's story and her current progress. I don't have any recent updates because I feel like we have been at a stand still over the summer. I always keep a log of new words and phrases that I notice SJ saying and the last time I did an entry was the end of June. Maybe some of it's because I have been too busy to notice, or maybe it's because she was on vacation and out of school so she is just plateauing. Or perhaps this would be a slower time anyway. These burst of vocabulary breakthroughs do tend to happen in waves. I'll be glad to have her back in school full time though, and not because I want to be away from her because I don't. 

It's just that I can tell a difference in her progress when 
they are purposefully working towards speech compared to the incidental learning that usually happens at home.

She has two new teachers this year. One is for academics the other is speech. I hate change and having school age children has forced me to adapt to new people on a regular basis. Bleh! However, I LOVED her therapist in Louisville, I loved her teacher in the toddler program, and her therapist last year, and I am sure these two lovely ladies that she is currently paired with will be just as nice of a fit. I already have a good feeling about it since SJ received a card addressed to her personally with a hand written note inside. It told SJ to her to let her mom and dad know that she will be in the classroom on a certain day and time and to come by to say hi. In other words, meet the teacher.

Last year's teacher and this summers therapists. She will forever have a special place in our hearts!

I do have one little prayer request which isn't really hearing or CI related, but it kind of is. SJ has always had huge tonsils. She snores like a 50 year old man and she has since she was a one year old. Seriously. However, we have had many experienced Doctors and Pediatricians take note of this fact without showing any concern. My mom brings it up a couple times a year because she just wants to make sure SJ is safe and her airway passages are clear. Then SJ's team of therapists brought it up at our end of their meeting and told me to talk to her ENT about it at our next appointment so last week when I saw her Otolaryngologist I did just that.

He said that her tonsils are a 3+, and that is on a scale that ranges up to 4. So they are in fact big, but without frequent strep throat or sleep apnea (neither of which she deals with) there is no reason to remove them. In fact there is some kind of a cautery tool that they would normally use for surgery that cannot be used on SJ because of her implants. An alternative procedure would affect the coronary bleeding which is an added risk to consider when weighing how valuable this surgery would be to her. Once again it doesn't mean that they are ruling it out and don't want to do the surgery, but he is going to reevaluate in a year and see if she has grown into them at all. He said sometimes these things correct themselves with time. I don't know why there always has to be another hand, but on the other hand he said there are advantages to doing the surgery while the child is still young. It's easier on them, so we don't want to put it off if it is inevitable.

Sheesh. Don't quote me on all the details of that because I wrote down what the Doctor said, but I don't have the paper in front of me. I just remember him saying to not worry about her for now because there is space in her mouth, so she is fine. It would be my heart's desire that she would not have to go through another surgery if we can avoid it. I pray that this situation will be cleared up without any medical intervention. In the grand scheme of things it is not an earth shattering concern and I do believe God's hand has her covered head to toe.

So that's what is happening with the girlie. She has had a wonderful summer.

 I am sure she is going to be bummed to realize it's over, but happy to be reunited with her friends. One week to go!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Breastfeeding in a dress

Breast is best, but can it work in a dress? See what I did there? First of all, about the breast is best, it's a slogan I'm quoting and it's scientifically proven, at least for now. Some people can't breast feed their baby. Some people don't want to. I don't care how you feed your baby. This particular post is about breastfeeding, but please don't be offended if you're path looks different than mine! I have been the first to admit that the thing I would miss the most if I couldn't breast feed would be the freebies. Not the nutrition, not the bonding, but the flat out frugality of it. The second favorite is getting to eat all of those bonus calories! How noble of me. I am such a sacrificial lactavist.

I have breastfed for 4 and 1/2 years between my three children over the course of 7 years. I started out like most new moms, kind of awkward and self conscious, but now I am comfortable enough to breastfeed on an airplane with the toddlers head resting on the arm of the male college student sitting next to me. I prefer not to be in that position again, I am just saying I don't give a rat's patootie anymore.

I used to think there was no way of breast feeding in a dress because you would have to pull the whole garment up so I would choose my outfits accordingly.

Since then I have learned that I could gear my shopping toward dresses that I could nurse my baby in simply by pulling the neck line down. Whether sporting buttons, a crisscross wrap style, or even strapless most styles these days are very accommodating.

Here are just some of the dresses that I have to choose from.

This is an instagram I posted of the dresses I packed for my trip to New York and I have easily nursed in all three outfits. 

Here is one that I cannot wear while breastfeeding! It's super form fitting and really high up in the front.

Although, one time I witnessed a mom wear a shift dress like this for her babies dedication and then when it was time to nurse she went to the cry room and had someone help her unzip the top of her dress  so that she could feed the newborn. That's quite a bit of effort, but I guess it shows that it can be done if you are really set on a particular outfit.

The point is, if you are breastfeeding, don't be afraid to branch out. I recommend layering with nursing tanks and nursing bras. Those are my go to for wearing under everything. It just makes life simpler during this season. My advice to new moms that are just starting out, wear what you feel comfortable in and when in doubt practice at home first to see if you can nurse your baby with ease in a certain ensemble. I promise you I have done this on many occasions before I have determined what to wear. You are better off giving it a go in private before you are at a restaurant and realize the material isn't as stretchy as you thought all the while trying to console the hungry screaming baby in your arms.

By the way, it is World Breastfeeding Week (or at least it was) so to all the women out there that are feeling exhausted, embarrassed, or the many that are just in love with the whole experience I hope you are encouraged that you are doing a great job. Hooray for the normal, beautiful, natural thing that it is!