Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

It has been a long tiring, but good day. We went and picked up a few things at the store and then went on a small nature hike at the park with the kids. CJ needed some fall items for school next week so we took advantage of the nice weather and everyone being home and did that. That was lots of fun. Then we came home for lunch and decorated our little pumpkins. CJ got a kick out of coloring on the pumpkins with markers. I really wasn't sure what was so funny, but he sure was enjoying it. Then he went down for a nap with some fight and we carved pumpkins with the girls. This was the first year Natalie did her pumpkin by herself. She did a really nice job on her pumpkin. Kaitlyn designed hers and I recreated it for her and Joe did CJ's. Then we relaxed for a few hours before it was time for dinner and then got ready for trick or treating. This was our first year in our new neighborhood so we weren't too sure what to expect. The kids made out great! Collectively they have 15 pounds of candy. I envision a lot of this getting thrown out. We were all very tired when we got back to the house shortly after 8. I sent the girls to shower while we inspected the candy to make sure it was safe. Cleaned CJ all up and got him ready for bed and sent everyone to bed. Well, after each got a sample of some of their candy. They should all sleep good tonight though.

Here are some pictures from our evening. I forgot my camera for our nature walk.

3 pumpkins (left to right Kaitlyn's, CJ's, and Natalie's)

My 3 trick or treaters. A witch, a puppy, and a hippie

Bark bark says the puppy

I'll get you my pretty says the witch

Peace says the hippie

CJ had a blast this year trick or treating by the way. He was so funny. Even said trick or treat when people opened the door and thank you for the candy. Then he'd bark for them by saying bark bark just like that. At one point he started randomly telling people about the fireworks that we had heard and how they scared him. He was quite the little chatter box tonight and everyone was getting such a kick out of him.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

CJ's 3rd Birthday party

CJ will be turning 3 in just 2 days. So today we had a Handy Manny birthday party for him. Turning 3 is fun because they start to get the idea that these things are for them. And as the day wore on and we got closer and closer to party time the excitement was just building. The decorations went up and he declared, "For me!" The presents were put on the table and he declared, "Presents, for me!" The finishing touches put on the cake and he declared, "My cake!" Then he'd walk around the house saying, "Happy Birthday for me!" Just so cute watching the excitement build. Here's a little peek at his special day...

This was a dump truck made as a bean bag toss, but as we were finishing it he got behind it and looked through the window like this:and I just had to snap a picture. And let me tell you the bean bag toss was a huge hit so this is something I will likely be trying again.

None of my parties are ever complete without some sort of variation on Pin the tail on the donkey. This time it was pin the glove on Handy Manny

Every little boy wants his very own excavator. And what could be better than an excavator cake?

Time to sing happy birthday and blow out the candles.

And CJ actually got two cakes for his birthday. I had asked my mom if she would want to make the cake, but I was kind of late in asking her. The excavator cake said it only fed 8 and I was worried it wouldn't be enough so my mom offered to make a second cake in chocolate instead. Well, I'm not passing up chocolate cake from my mom even if it is CJ's birthday and he doesn't like chocolate cake. So my mom made this cute cake with Pat from Handy Manny on it. So now you all know where I get my baking talents from. Although, my mom is much better at actually decorating than I am.

Pin the glove on Handy Manny was lots of fun.Natalie won, but the jury is still out on whether or not she actually cheated. There apparently was some practicing before hand on her part. And Kaitlyn's is way up there on the door. We all got a good laugh at her attempt.

CJ had a glove on his head. Silly boy.

It was a really fun day and CJ got lots of very nice presents which he has been enjoying tonight. I'm glad so many friends and family got to come and share the day with us. Those who couldn't make it were missed. Only a little over a day left of CJ being 2!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Fairytale Continues...

When we left off Queen Monica she was eagerly anticipating the arrival of her new little princess. The arrival is still very eagerly anticipated and things are moving along well. Queen Monica has received her flu shot. Her blood pressure was slightly more elevated than it has been recently, so something to watch of course. Luckily the princess is suffering no ill effects from any increasing blood pressure problems of the queen. The princess weighs just over a pound and is growing nicely. She's in the 75th percentile. So much like Princess Natalie and Princess Kaitlyn it appears that she will be on the larger side. So something the doctors like to see when there are blood pressure concerns. Queen Monica's blood pressure will be checked again in a week just to make sure that it's not starting to creep back up. And in the meantime this little princess has been kicking up a storm. So all continues to go well.

To be continued...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pumpkin Picking 2010

Every year we enjoy going to a local farm for some traditional New England style pumpkin picking. A hayride and a field of pumpkins to pick through at a quaint little New England farm store. This year they weren't running the hayride when we got there. Although, it did begin to run after we left. So we got our exercise for sure. We started out though enjoying the wooden figures at the beginning of the property that the kids love to climb up on...

Then the kids went over to "milk the cow"...

And our day of course wouldn't be complete without seeing a pig and a pug in a crib in the barn...

Then we made the trek down the hill towards the field of pumpkins. This is what I love about autumn, the beautiful scenery. It really doesn't get any prettier than this:

We had to play around on the bikes and the train for a little while...

Then the search began for the perfect pumpkin...

The kids had gotten pumpkins from their grandparents a few weeks ago so we were just going to do little pumpkins, but Natalie's pumpkin was rotting so hers needed replacing:

Kaitlyn picked out a cute little pumpkin to paint:

And CJ insisted on this lovely little pumpkin:

We had a nice time. Disappointed about the hayride not running, but we had a beautiful day for pumpkin picking and the kids had a good time.

A Visit from the Firehouse

October is Fire Safety month. So of course every young child must have a visit to the firehouse or a visit from the firehouse to learn about fire safety. CJ's class was no different. Because they are 3 year old all of their "field trips" come to them. It's just easier on busing because of car seat laws and all of that. So the local fire department came to CJ's school yesterday to talk to the children. Now having participated in similar field trips with my children numerous times over the years I knew part of the demonstration was going to be one of the firemen putting all of his gear on to show the children what he would look like if he came to your house in a fire. So they would be prepared and not afraid. I wasn't too sure how CJ would take that. I also wasn't sure if they would sound their sirens on the truck at all because for whatever reason while CJ is all boy and loves all things with wheels and engines he generally cries when he hears a firetruck siren. So I asked his teacher if I could come that day just in case. She welcomed the extra help in the classroom of course.

CJ was so excited that I was there. So the firetruck showed up and all of the children sat on the curb listening intently to what the firemen had to say

They discussed all things fire safety. Don't touch matches or the stove. Call 911 if there's an emergency. Don't try to put out a fire. How you get out of your house if you're sleeping and there is a fire. And all of that very important information. Now of course CJ is still in a crib. He has never attempted to get out of his crib before so I doubt he would in a fire. He sat their listening to the whole thing though. And then the fireman put his gear on.

I thought for sure there would be tears. And there were by three other children in the class, but not by CJ. He sat there just like this:

I wonder how he would have been if the fireman came closer to him or he had to touch him though. Hmmm. After they did stop, drop, and roll. They had the 4 year old class, some kindergarten and 1st graders out there too though so they only took a few volunteers. None from the 3 year old class though. That's okay, not too sure that too many of them would have wanted to do that. Then the kids got to line up to take a turn looking inside the truck.

The 3 years olds on their rope. Not all of the kids wanted to go on the truck, but CJ sure did. His teacher had to warn the fireman about how light CJ is. I guess in comparison to the rest of the kids in the class he's a feather and she worried he'd get tossed 50 feet in the air. CJ proudly climbed up there and sat in the seat and looked out the window...

And that was the end of the visit from the firehouse. I left and came back and CJ told me all about the firetruck as if I hadn't been there and seen the whole thing. He informed his sisters at dinner last night that there were tools on the truck. Ahhh, that must have been the absolute highlight of the entire thing. The boy sure does love his tools.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Parent Teacher Conferences

It's that time of year again. The dreaded parent/teacher conferences. Well, not dreaded. I usually have a pretty good idea of what to expect since I try to talk to the kids teachers on a regular basis. Parent/Teacher conferences become just a formality really. I have done all three kids conferences now though and as usual there really were no big surprises.

Let me start with CJ. There wasn't too much to say. He is polite and doing as well as can be expected for a not even 3 year old preschooler away from mom for the first time. He gets along great with all of the other children. They all really like him and are excited to see him. He's doing well with using the potty at school. He is not potty trained by any means, but he does on occasion say that he has to go. So we'll keep working on that. He likes to dump toys and then walk away. He has been good about following directions to clean them up. He does that here too, but won't clean them up. You can see right here what he likes to do...

He threw his toys out of the toy box and then climbed in it. Just look at that face. A devious fellow he is.

His teacher said in group he will just sit there. Won't really sing or do any of the hand motions or anything which she found strange. I told her that's always the way he has been. Takes it all in. I assured her though that at home he is attempting to repeat the things he's learning. He's often attempting to sing his ABC's and has even started doing "The Wheels on the Bus". I got proof of that tonight too...

So as you can see he's doing very well.

Now Kaitlyn, her conference lasted the longest, but it was all good. I am so pleased with how well everything is going for her this year. Her teacher is so encouraging. He LOVES Kaitlyn. Wishes he had more students like her that truly wanted to learn. So he has been so great in finding ways to encourage that in anyway possible. He says she has a great mind. She really gets stories even those beyond her reading level that are read to her she can retell them and answer questions about it. She's an in the moment writer which is hard to teach I guess at this age. So for example if she's writing about a trip to the store she will start with the trip to the store and not with she got up and it was sunny out that morning. We have to work on her listing of things, but he will get that with her in time. All in all things were positive and he really gets Kaitlyn which I am so happy to see. He sent me to talk to her special ed teacher who I must say had me breathing a huge sigh of relief when I went there. They are finally teaching her that letters are sounds and when grouped together with other letters they will make other sounds. Not the memorizing words they were trying to get her to do. It's the Wilson Program they are using with her and I've heard great things about this. I have even seen improvement in her reading this year already in the short time she has been doing this. In all honesty I think Kaitlyn eventually will be able to decode and read words better than her sister who is an excellent reader. I feel like we're moving in the right direction with her. So very happy with her hard work and the help of her wonderful teachers this year.

Now for Natalie. She also got a progress report today. She wasn't happy with her grades, but I assured her she has time to pull them up and get them where she wants them. Now she knows what she needs to work on. She got all A's and B's except for Social Studies she got a C. I wasn't too surprised by her grades. So lets see I'll go in order of subject by how I spoke to her teachers. I started out with her Language Arts teacher where she has a 95 average. There wasn't much to say about her. Her teacher LOVES her. She said she's a great student and I should be very proud. I am. I love those reports. She hands all of her work in on time and it's all great work. I talked to her about the after school Literary magazine that she's doing with the kids and told her that I think Natalie would be interested in that so she's going to talk to her about it. It's creative writing. She'll be great at that. So she's very excited to talk to Natalie about that. She has no concerns about Natalie and showed me a test she just graded of her which she got a 97 on. So she's continuing the great work there.

Next I moved onto her Science teacher. She said she is pretty quiet in class. She'd like to hear from her more, but she's doing great. Handing in all of her work on time and everything. She has an 84 average in that class, but there's lots of room for improvement there. Many extra credit assignments she can complete. She would like to hear from her more in class too. Ahhh, story of her life. That's always the thing I get about Natalie. We discussed that at length today actually too. And when I came home I told her that her teachers truly want to hear what she has to say so they will welcome any input she can give.

After Science I moved onto her math class. She also has an 84 average in there. He said that all her work is complete and handed in on time. He's not sure if she's understanding things or not because again she doesn't talk in class. Hmmm, see a pattern here. But he can't see where she's having problems if she's not coming to him and often won't find out things until test time. It is very early in the year. He said conferences are even earlier than usual this year too so normally they would have more grades to go off of. So again lots of room for her to improve.

Finally there's Social Studies. Unfortunately this is the class that Natalie struggles the most in with a 77 average there. And unfortunately that's the one teacher who was not there tonight. Something about he was going to try to get there, but he injured his eye today or something. So I had to leave my name and phone number on a piece of paper for him to call me and do a phone conference. But I know we're going to hear she doesn't talk enough in class. I would like to find out about extra credit and ways she can improve her grade. I have also talked to Natalie about going to him before or after class and discussing ways to bring up her grade. They are doing a lot in geography right now which she finds boring. Maybe eventually it will become more interesting for her, but right now she just doesn't like it. I can't say I blame her since Social Studies was usually my worst subject too. But I get the feeling from all of her other teachers that they really want to do everything possible to help them succeed. So if Natalie's not happy with her grades (which she's not) then she can do something about them. She just needs to get herself noticed I think and ask for help or find out about extra credit. Since all of the other team teachers had this same attitude about her I'm pretty sure with a little extra work she can get that grade where she wants it.

So that is it. Parent/teacher conferences are done until April. For the most part all of these changes we've experienced in education this year are going well. I'm very pleased with all of my kids hard work, good manners, and respect that they show their teachers.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin Festival

Today the city hosted a pumpkin festival. They've done this before, but we've never gone. A week or so ago CJ had come home from school with a flyer looking for pumpkin carvers. We thought that sounded like fun so we'd enter a pumpkin in CJ's name for his school. So that's what we did. We decided we mine as well enjoy all of the other free events from the day too. So after Joe got home from work we put the kids costumes on and headed to the pumpkin drop off with our carved pumpkin and then walked around and went over to the library for story, crafts, and refreshments. Then it was time to line up for the costume parade which brought us back to where the pumpkins were. We were cold and in need of food at that point and there was still a while until the judging and lighting of the pumpkins so we headed home for dinner. Then went back to see CJ's pumpkin lit. He did not win any prizes for it, but we heard lots of good feedback about it and of course CJ loved it so that's all that matters. But here was our afternoon/evening at the Pumpkin Festival...

This is CJ's pumpkin before we brought it to the festival

CJ met Mickey Mouse

A hippie and a witch

A puppy and a witch

A hippie

During our parade walk an old man stepped out into the road, pointed at Natalie, and said, "I used to date the girl!" I didn't know if I should go off on him for making a comment like that about an 11 year old girl or laugh it off. I chose to laugh it off, but still couldn't believe that he would say that about a child.

Walking in the parade

CJ's pumpkin with all the others

CJ's pumpkin all lit

CJ with his Mickey Mouse pumpkin

It was a fun event and we are already talking about what to enter for next years pumpkin judging.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cancer Sucks!

There's no other word to sum up how terrible Cancer is. I have seen family go through the terrible scare of Cancer and have even watched a friend battle Cancer with her young 3 year old daughter. Cancer does not discriminate. It's not a disease for the old. It doesn't matter if you're white, black, or purple. There's seemingly no rhyme or reason to it at all. Cancer has struck it's ugly head with a very good friend of mine once again. I watched her as 3 years ago she found out that her ex and the father of her oldest son was diagnosed with throat Cancer and then not long after her mother was diagnosed with Cancer as well.

I watched as she brought her mother to many doctor's appointments and dealt with a lot of trying things. Her mother pulled through and is in remission. Her ex pulled through and was in remission until recently he was diagnosed with throat Cancer again. My friend is in disbelief about it right now. I'm not really sure what the right words to say to her are or if there are even right words to say. I guess just be there for her when she needs someone. It is so hard though because there just seems to be no reason why one would stay in remission and one wouldn't. I would imagine the worries about her mother are being all stirred up again too. Really just plain and simple Cancer sucks!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

So much for Customer Loyalty

I have been using Dish Network for the past 3 plus years for my television needs. I have been a loyal customer paying my bill ever single month without problem. Recently I've been looking for ways to cut back on some of our monthly bills. One of the bills I wanted to cut was our TV, phone, and internet. So I called up Direct TV to get a bundled package. After much discussion I found one that would give me some $80 a month savings in that area. But being the loyal Dish customer that I am I decided to give them a chance to offer me the same or better. So I called them and was told they have no bundle packages in my area. All they could offer me was $10 off of my bill a month. Well, that certainly isn't enough savings there and I was very aggravated that a customer who is telling them that they are going to leave to go with a company that can offer them two receivers for less than that plus phone and internet, but they still can't give me anything better. That's just really quite sad. Has me wondering what ever happened to giving the customer what they wanted? What ever happened to showing a little customer appreciation. And on top of all of this I would also have to pay a $15 installation fee in order for them to give me an upgraded box. Just does not seem much like they are trying to keep their customers. Sure they can offer new customers some great discounted package, but existing customers have to pay more. This just does not seem right. And because of that Dish Network it appears that you have lost a customer to Direct TV. I hope you're happy!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Fairytale Announcement

Once upon a time there was a queen named Queen Monica. She lived with her King, Joe, and two little princesses and a handsome little prince. One day this family was struck by tragedy in the loss of another little princess. Sadly it was just not meant to be with that little girl and the royal family mourned her so.

Then one fine day Queen Monica got some joyous news. She would be given another chance to raise a 3rd little princess and that day will come sometime around February 9, 2011. So continue to follow this fairytale story as it is far from over. We're hoping for a wonderful happily ever after as a family of 6.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Watching My Boy

Today I was out and about and had some time to kill. I didn't want to drive home only to have to go back out to pick CJ up from school so I headed to the school very early to pick him up. I was prepared with some word searches and paper and pen to work on plans for CJ's birthday party. It was nice to just sit in the quiet car without looking around at the many tasks I must accomplish at home.

Shortly before CJ's dismissal the children had come out to play so I sat and watched what my little man does when he thinks I am not around. I watched him just stand there while other children ran all around the playground. Then two boys came up to him with a ball and started playing catch with him. They were cheering him on too and giving him hugs. I couldn't help but tear up sitting there watching these children interact with my son in that way.

CJ spent the rest of the time just running around with these boys and seemingly having a blast. Then they lined up for dismissal and I went over to get him and he came running right up to me. CJ is the smallest in his class. It really would be very easy for him to get pushed around. And I know that it does happen, but I also love this age and how it doesn't matter what your skill level or what your differences are. Kids this age just don't care. They will take you under their wing and play with you. I know it won't always be like this, but I do hope that CJ can always find and make a few good friends who will be there and look out for him. And I will happily watch from a distance as he figures things out, but always be there for him when things don't go as well as they did for him today. Sure would be nice though if we all could have the innocence of a 3 year old. I know some grown ups who could have taken a lesson or two from these children on the playground today.

Friday, October 1, 2010


CJ has been in preschool for less than a month now. In that month I have seen so many changes in him. I'd say mostly for the good. Some things I've noticed...

1. He actually will walk up and down the stairs. In the past he would stand on the top or bottom of the stairs insisting that someone pick him up. Now he'll actually go up and down them. It takes him forever, but he's trying.

2. He no longer cries when going to school. He actually talks about going to school and can't wait to be there.

3. He attempts to read along when you're reading a book to him. He points out what's happening in the pictures and will make up his own stories.

4. He has actually peed on the potty. It has only happened twice. Once at home and once at school, but it's a start.

5. He tells stories about his day and asks questions.

6. He tries to mimic his teacher by holding up his book to read it to you like you're his class of students.

7, He insists on doing things for himself. Putting shoes on, pulling pants up, taking coat off. He says, "Me do it!"

8. He washes his hands all the time. Usually he does it without being told to, but even if you tell him to he's running into the bathroom to do it.

9. He has really gotten into a routine and tells me what we are going to do next.

All of these things have already happened within the first month of school. I can only imagine what my little sponge will be like by the time June gets here. Might just be a completely different kid by then...