Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cats vs. Dogs

I would think that if you asked a teacher to name one of the hardest parts of their job, one of the things that would top the list would be how to keep kids motivated.  Fortunately for Evan's teachers, it doesn't take much to get him excited about something.  He came home from school yesterday with a new reading program called "Paws for Reading".  The premise of it is that you pick a side to read for - dogs or cats - and then you keep track of the minutes you read on a website that you log into.  The website tallies the total minutes read for each team and even breaks it down to your specific class.  One cool bonus about the whole deal is for every twenty minutes you read and log on to record it, Scholastic will donate a book to charity.
Yesterday was early release day at school.  Spencer went home with a friend and Hailey and I were working on her homework so it was pretty quiet in the house.  Evan decided he was going to start his reading.  A little while later, this is how I found him. 

He dragged the couch pillows to the dining room table and laid there and read, surrounded by his piles of books.  I wouldn't think it would be that comfortable, but whatever works.

I took this shot of the website before he was finished logging his minutes for the day.  He read one hundred and twenty minutes yesterday.  Putting the cats in the lead for his class!  The site keeps you interested by unlocking special badges for certain minute amounts.  Yesterday he earned his first badge (a collar) and a special print out of a bookmark that he could use to log additional minutes with.   I haven't seen him so excited about anything in a long time.  He kept on telling me that the cats were going to CRUSH the dogs!  Needless to say I am very impressed by this reading program.  It obviously works wonders for Evan. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thrify Thursday

I have been wanting to hit the thrift stores lately in the worst way, I just haven't been able to find the time until this morning.  My intent was to get a good start on Halloween (I think my kids have finally decided what they want to be) but I didn't have any luck with that.  I think I may have to drag out the old sewing machine and actually "make make" the costumes this year as opposed to just putting them together.

Oh Valueland!  How I love thee!  I found a cute pink fleecy sweatshirt for me.  Since I have to be seen in public at the bus stop every morning I find myself needing some new casual threads.  I got Hailey a pink and sparkly silver striped top for fifty cents.  I was super excited about this fleecy jacket/sweatshirt I found.  I initially thought it would be for Evan, but it would probably fit Spencer as well.  I will have to see which one is in need of a fall jacket.  It was even half off so $1.50 for something my boys will fight over.

At Goodwill number two I found two polo shirts for Spencer.  One an actual Polo brand - $2.00 each.  I found Hailey a cute little ruffled Old Navy shirt that I think will match perfectly with a super cute skirt my sister bought her that I love, but have a hard time matching tops to.

 I really scored at Goodwill number one.  I spent twenty five dollars which is probably a thrift store record for me.    I found Spencer this gray and black lightweight sweater.  The boy lacks in dressy clothes.  I found this dress for Hailey at the last minute which was kind of a impromptu buy.  It is actually brown and turquoise though it looks black in the photo.  It is a size six so it should fit her next summer.  I guess for three dollars you can't really go wrong with a cute summer dress.  Whether she really needs it or not.

At the same Goodwill I found this shirt with an eight on it for Evan that I thought he would get a kick out of since it is his age.   I also nabbed up this cat frame which is going in the pile of Christmas gifts.  Once I slap a photo of Dickens in there - a nice $1.50 gift for my cat loving boy.

One of my giant scores of the day was this red wool GAP coat that I found for Hailey.  It was three dollars at Goodwill number one.  It was a size too big for her, but I could not pass it up.  A name brand wool coat for three dollars! It is a classic that will never go out of style!

 Look how cute the back is with the little buttons!  I was so excited!

Another great find was at the Rescue Mission store where I grabbed this frame for three dollars.  I like the "when I am an old woman I will wear purple" quote, but in cleaning my office I found many pieces of my kids artwork that I want to hang.  I was going to make a list and wait for a great Hobby Lobby sale but now I can cross one of those frames off.  Even on sale I would have paid three times what I did for a frame like that.

And last but not least, our new beach chair.  This was ten dollars at the Goodwill, but I knew it was worth it because I bought my mom the exact same chair for her birthday last month and paid almost three times  the cost of this one!  It will have to sit on the shelf for a few months, but will get plenty of use next summer!

No Halloween costumes, but a great day of bargain hunting!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hat Day!!!

So teaching myself how to shoot in manual mode is not going so well.  I don't know why I can't get it.  Maybe I give up too quickly.  It can't be that hard.  I thought I had the camera all set to go this morning to get the shots of the kids in their hats for hat day.  When I took Hailey outside and did a test shot, this is what I got...

Not good.  After a bit of adjusting (I don't know what I am doing - basically just changing the shutter speed) I got this shot.  Better.  The focus is all right and seems fairly sharp, but the color is atrocious. 

After hanging out for a few minutes with my best friend Photoshop.  I turned it into this.   Acceptable, but I don't like to have to do that much work in PS for a snapshot.   Basically all my photos from this morning have been Photoshopped to a shell of their former self.  I am not proud, but still determined to learn.

Hailey in her stylin' hat.  She fought with me tooth and nail this morning that she didn't want to wear that pink sweater.  She was thanking me when we got outside and she saw for herself how chilly it really was.

Captain Evan sporting his hat we picked up after the Munising Shipwreck tour.  Fun memories, fun hat.  The boys at the bus stop who were all sporting their super creative (not) baseball hats thought he was the bomb dot com.

Spencer opted for his Mickey Mouse ears  hat.  Then after I took his picture changed his mind and decided he wanted to borrow Evan's hat.  After getting Evan's permission that he could wear it, we took another photo and he promptly shoved the hat into his back pack and told me he would put it on at school.

He didn't say anything, but my gut tells me that he is getting to that age where he wants to make sure that his friends have hats on and he is not the only one.  That kind of makes me sad.  I know it is all part of growing up, but I really want my kids to hold on to their own individual, quirky selves.  Even if it is hard.  Even if they are deemed "not cool".  I want them to stand out from the crowd and show the world how amazing they really are.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Spirit Week Day 2

Today was "Mis-match Day" or as we used to call it back in the day - "Clash Day".  Or you could really call it "what my kids would wear everyday if I didn't intervene" day.
Here they are in all their Mis-matched glory.  It was chilly out this morning so I knew that my picture taking time was going to be severly limited.  I added pressure to myself by practicing shooting in manual mode yesterday and keeping the camera in manual to get these shots.  I almost switched it back over to program mode as the kids were getting antsy, but pressed on.  Not great, but not awful.  I decided it is time to figure manual out.  Long past time.  Wish me luck. 

Stay tuned tomorrow for "Hat Day".  Always a favorite around here!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Crazy sock day

Today was Crazy Sock Day - the first day of Spirit Week at school.  This is always a fun week for the kids, but I don't think Evan could have been more excited about the theme for today. 

It was difficult for him to find a pair of shoes that would fit the bulk of the slipper socks in them.   I think his feet will be hurting before the end of the day.  Good thing Mondays are short days.  As he was struggling to put his shoes on he said to me "They feel really tight so I don't think they will come off.  That's good because I wouldn't want anything to happen to these puppies!"  Indeed!

On a totally unrelated note, I don't know what is going on with my camera lately.  I don't feel like I am getting a sharp focus at all.  I need to figure out a place to get it professionally cleaned - I think it took a beating getting dragged around Florida for two weeks.  So here is a totally blurred out picture of the whole crazy sock ensembles.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vay Vay

Evan wanted to pick out his own outfit for school picture day today.  I told him that was fine but he had to choose something that was a little nice.

He told me he would pick something that was nice, but not too fancy.   He picked out a dark blue striped shirt that I probably wouldn't have picked, but it was fine.  At least it wasn't a Super Mario t-shirt.

As he was rooting through his closet he told me that someday soon he wanted to wear his coat to school.   I didn't know what he was talking about because he wears a coat to school most mornings.   Evan doesn't like to be cold - a cold Evan is a sad Evan.

"This coat" he said, pulling out his sport jacket.  "You know a coat like the Presidents wear." 

Oh Vay Vay!  I just couldn't love you anymore!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Our diamond in the rough

I was looking through my picture files today and found so many summer shots that I never got around to posting.  
Spencer participated in a week long acting camp this summer.  I have always been a little leery about signing the kids up for stuff like this because summer is so short and I sort of feel weird about making them go to "class" and not getting to do typical summer stuff.   When I asked him if he wanted to do it he was enthusiastic and excited so I figured we would give it a try. 
The camp was the last week of July and couldn't have come at a better time.  We were blessed with a gorgeous summer.  So fabulous that the kids actually complained about having to go to the beach or the pool AGAIN!  When your boys just want to sit in the house and watch TV or play video games when it is sunny and ninety degrees outside, sending them to "class" is a wonderful thing. 
Every day from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon Spencer and his fellow actors rehearsed for Aladdin Jr.   Spencer was thrilled to tell me after the first day of class that he had auditioned for and got the part of the lamp salesman who is also the narrator.   One morning as I was driving Spencer to the theatre he told me that he was glad that I had convinced him to do all the Saturday morning acting classes - even when he said he didn't want to - because they had really prepared him for this camp.  I told him that just proved that he should always listen to his mother.


The pictures didn't turn out great because the lighting in the theatre is atrocious and with no flash allowed - you get what you get.   The performance was held on Spencer's eleventh birthday.  It was pretty ironic to us because when I was pregnant with Spencer eleven years ago, we were sitting in this theatre watching A Chorus Line when I went into labor.   Here he is eleven years later on that stage. 
Maybe he was born to be an actor.

After the performance we went home and started the birthday festivities.  His birthday wish came true when he opened up his ipod touch.  It has not been far from his hands since.

His buddies started heading over and we took them to dinner at the Red Tomato then back to our house for cake and a sleepover.

Make a wish Gooey Boo!  May all your dreams come true!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

There they go...

Today was a big day for our family!   Back to school!  For the first and only time, all three kids are in the same building.  It will be so nice to only have to drive to one location this year.   There are a lot of pictures in this post.  I tend to go a little nuts with back to school photos - maybe since I know they will be gone all day for the next nine months I tend to get a little sentimental. 
Spencer is in fifth grade.  Big man on campus.  Ready to break the hearts of all the little girls on the playground.  He would kill me if he knew I typed that.  Hailey told me that already yesterday a little girl told her on the playground that her brother Spencer was cute.  When she told Spencer I thought he would be appalled but he just looked at her and said "who"?   Can't wait for those preteen years!  Oh wait!  YES I CAN!

Something about a new pair of shoes to start the year makes me happy.  If only he will keep them tied!

Evan is starting third grade with a teacher that is new to the school.  We met her at open house and she seems great.   Evan is an introvert, so I hope she can break his shell and get to know his heart.  Those that do know what an amazing kid he is.

Poor middle child did not need a new pair of tennis shoes since we bought him a pair last spring.  He wore his trusty old Crocs anyway.  Evan does not need to be dazzled.  He likes what he likes, and he likes his Crocs.

How is it even possible that my newborn baby is starting Kindergarten?  All day Kindergarten at that.  I am still not thrilled about it, but I know she will love it and that is what really matters.   She was as brave as she could be and so was I.  Even when the teacher read The Kissing Hand to the class.  Even when my loving friends were trying to egg on my tears.  Even as I walked out of the room and saw other mothers with tears a flowing. 

I am not sure about it all yet.  It was a weird day.  I was not sad, just restless.  I wanted to hear how the day went and how much fun she had.  It was quiet around here.  I am not accustomed to such long periods of quiet.

The new sandal we procured the night before school from the clearance rack at Meijer.  Probably not super conducive to gravelly playgrounds, but soon it will be boots on those cute little toeseys!

And there go the three biggest parts of my heart. 

I walked them down to the bus stop and waited with them.  I actually think I have to since Hailey is only in Kindergarten.  I better find my boots for those winter days.  As Hailey waited I could tell she was a little bit apprehensive.

After a quick pep talk from big brother...

...she was ready to ride the bus. 

 She has only been dying to ride this bus for the last five and a half years!  One of my favorite moments of the whole day was when Evan and Hailey were finishing up breakfast and he told her to sit down so he could give her some instructions about school.  I wish I had written them down because I am at a loss.  I know that one was that if she wanted to trade something with someone at lunch make sure you get the thing first otherwise they will take your thing and maybe not give you theirs.  Good advice.  Hopefully not learned from experience or I may have to go to the school and kick a bully's bum.

 My other favorite moment of the day was when I walked down to meet the bus after school.  Of course I was late so the kids were already walking up the road.  When Hailey saw me she broke into a run and ran into my arms and spider monkey hugged me with all her might.  She said she had a great day, she just missed me. 

Kindergarten really wears a girl out.