Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tenacious "D"

At Thanksgiving, Matt's parents brought a box of some of his childhood memories for us. I fell in love with this little guy & based our Christmas decorations this year around him. Photobucket

After about a week of searching, I stumbled on the perfect ornaments at Target.  They have a whole line of felted objects, in the perfect colors.  I'm calling it, "A Minimalist Peruvian Felt Christmas."  We HATE HATE HATE taking down Christmas, so we're decorating just enough to make it look festive.


Last Friday, Dev's school took a field trip to the local ice skating rink.  It's only a few miles from home and school, but we've just never taken the time to visit.  (Even though Santa brought Dev her own pink skates last year)  Somehow, the skates still fit a year later and we were ready to give them a whirl.

I wasn't sure how she would like it.


She didn't like it...she LOVED it.  After about an hour of nearly constant falling, she started to get the hang of it.  The falls were brutal to watch.  She would lose her balance and land hard on the ice.  She did this again and again and again, for two straight hours.  No breaks.  I will fully admit to being a major "helicopter parent" during the morning.  I kept asking her if she was ok, if she wanted a break, maybe just a sip of water.  After awhile, I just let her go and gave up trying.

One teacher told me she saw Devin take a very hard fall and skated over to check on her.  She asked if Dev was ok.  Guess who yelled, "I'M FINE!!!!  Stop asking me!!!!"  Then she looked up and saw it was Miss Katie and said, "Oh.  I thought you were my Mom."

It's interesting to see this little tenacious streak in her.  And, I love the fact that she's willing to try new things...really try them and immerse herself in the experience.  We've seen similar interest and commitment for swimming/diving, writing cursive, doing a handstand and tennis.  Her newest obsession is music, specifically the piano.  We bought a new keyboard and she plays it for about an hour each day.  (Formal piano lessons start in January)  She's so excited, as they have a piano at school and the lessons will be during the regular school day.


The skating instructors were excellent and taught the children how to fall properly.


They found holding on to each other was helpful.  (This is Dev and one of her best friends)


When we got back to school for lunch, I could see the look on her face.  The pain was setting in.  I was just about to leave school for tennis, when she begged me to take her home.  One look at her knees, plus she was soaking wet and cold....we went straight home:)

The next day was brutal.  She hobbled around like an old lady...no handstands, no jumping, content to watch movies and work on art all day.

I'm happy to report a full recovery after a day of rest.  And, she's resumed her daily schedule of non-stop movement.


Monday, December 3, 2012

A November Catch up

Tis the season to neglect my blog.  Everyday, I try to carve out a few minutes to download pictures and get a post up.  But, it's been pretty busy around these parts.  So, this is a catch up/catch all moment.

I continue to feel great, with no nausea and tons of energy.  Having my appetite back is like a whole new world, after spending more than a year feeling mostly awful.  So, I decided to let November be a "splurge" month and I fully enjoyed every minute.  But, the calendar tells me it's now December and the scale tells me it's time to start tracking my calories again.  I lost over 40 pounds after having Devin with Weight Watchers, but now I use "Livestrong MyPlate" app on the iphone.  It's free and is an easy way to track my food and exercise.  I lost about 20 more pounds, not eating and so now my goal is maintenance.  Which, in my experience, has been fairly challenging:)

It seems hard for me to write anything without bragging on Montessori.  The JCPS (local public school system) test scores came back lower than ever a few weeks ago.  Several of our "resides" schools were way below the acceptable level.  (I'm talking scores of 50-60% overall)  It's a shame there's such a broken system here, with so much evidence-based science proving there are OTHER options.  There are several cities in the US, with similar socio-economic problems, that found great success with the Montessori method.  (Nice job Milwaukee)

I love this video.  No words of explanation are needed in the short clip.  It looks SO much like the classroom's at Dev's school and how the children behave.  As a frequent substitute, it's actually a very interesting and "easy" job.  The children know exactly what and when to do things, because they decide!  Notice the children making their own choices of work, but still seeking guidance from the teacher in the background.  I also notice the careful and methodical way of treating classroom materials.
What's really crazy is seeing just how advanced some children are in the Early Childhood (3-6 years) class.  Most of the 3 year olds have no trouble getting their own snack, sitting an enjoying a conversation with a peer and cleaning up after themselves.  Which includes washing their own dishes and wiping the table/sweeping crumbs.  There are many 4-5 year olds reading and writing, counting in the thousands...it's astounding.    I truly enjoy watching the children's confidence grow as they mature and become comfortable in the classroom.


Devin continues to thrive in every way possible.  She's only missed a day of school for a mild cold and low fever.  Although her Elementary class is much more focused on academics than the Early Childhood, I'm so glad to see some basic practical life lessons.  Dev's teacher asked for any silver we needed polishing, so I sent my Great Grandmother's whole set!  The children did a great job and we used the silver for the first time in many years at Thanksgiving.


The obsession continues with gymnastics.  She pretty much practices handstands and cartwheels at any opportunity.  That includes 7:00 am, before school & most every afternoon.  She's been asking and asking to return to gymnastics lessons, but I'm not adding anything else to her after school time.  Chess and violin are both done during regular school time and we add tennis to Thursday afternoons.  That's enough for all of us...so gymnastics may have to wait until summer.  (We'll see....as I like to say to her)


There's nothing quite like a group of 1st grade girls, I've decided.  The social aspects of school are getting more complicated, as this is a new and important focus of life for the 6-7 year old.  For the most part, they get along well.  We've had a few hurt feelings, "secrets about me," and some general infighting.  She did NOT enjoy a field trip they took about a month ago.  I purposefully chose to not attend, so she could start to navigate these social outings without me.  I heard bits and pieces about the drama, but she got through it:)

The Outdoor Classroom received some new additions during the past few weeks.  These are some 1st graders enjoying the new chalkboard for the 1st time.


Just before Thanksgiving, MSL hosted a Fall Bake & Craft Sale.  I was in charge and freaking out that we wouldn't have enough items to sell on that Friday.  I was wrong.  Families brought cakes, muffins, cookies, pies, handmade scrubs and many other delicious treats.  The sale made right around $900.00!  As usual, I worried for nothing as we had WAY more food than we could sell.


Devin's class has a spelling quiz each Friday and they are asked to write a sentence they hear on the back.  This still makes me smile...

This is how fishermen make money in the off season.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Jump, Jump!

This weekend, the weather forecasters made it very clear we should get out and enjoy the sun and warmth. They were right, as it's 43 degrees and pouring rain this Monday morning. So, we took their advice and had a blast outside! Photobucket







Thursday, November 8, 2012

40 is Sporty

Last week I turned 40, which is the new 30.  And, I feel 25.  I did the math and it seems I'm 29 again!  I haven't talked much about it on this blog, but I spent a good portion of the last year feeling miserable.  It's been a very frustrating, painful and isolating journey, trying to find out what was causing my horrible nausea.  Doctor after doctor had no answers.  Friends would tell me, "Wow you look great!  What's your secret?"  Most of the time I would just say thank you and tell them I play tennis a lot.   The truth was, I spent days (and weeks) not eating.  Or, eating just enough rice and fruit to function.  Some days (a few in particular I will never forget) were very difficult.  Looking back, I don't know how I got through them.  If you can imagine spending every waking minute feeling like you're about to throw up, it was affecting every aspect of my life.  Grocery shopping, fixing meals, sitting at a restaurant, were straight up torture.

Thankfully, my primary care Dr. referred me to a GYN who seemed confident a change in hormones would help.  She was right.  I haven't had a single symptom since I started taking a new medicine and it feels like a miracle.  I have a new appreciation for feeling good...and normal.  I feel free to make plans and have fun, knowing I don't have to worry about nausea striking me down.

So, imagine my delight at the Corbett's Chef's Table for the Birthday dinner!  I could actually EAT!


Matt brought roses and Perrier home.  I guess after nearly 20 Birthdays together, he knows my style:)

On a different day, we decided to ask a couple over for dinner.  Which is a perfect time to try making a 14 layer cake!!  This is my kitchen prepped for baking.  The cake turned out great, but was a BEAST to get layered up.  The top 1/3 kept sliding around until I got the whole thing chilled in the fridge.  Our company seemed impressed!


More Jam: Photobucket

After 2 batches of strawberry jam, I wanted to try Blackberry.  (Plus Costco's Blackberries looked amazing)  Dev had a few days off school, so we went to work.  The jam tastes great, but I'm not a fan of all the seeds.  Next time, I will strain off the seeds before putting it in the jars.


Dev attended a Birthday party of a friend last weekend.  Remind me not to have 15 1st-4th graders at my house.  Ever.

Although, they did have a lot of fun!

This is one of her new, favorite friends who is a 2nd grader.  They really seem to have a great time with each other and I'm so glad has found girls she can have fun with.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

It's In the Can

For the first time in a couple of years, there will be NO Disney princess running around our house for Halloween. That's because Dev chose a "Bat Witch" as her costume!  She seems thrilled with it & I'm glad we have a "warm" costume...I think we're going to need it next week.

We had a great report card and conference from her 1st months at school.  Apparently, someone has blossomed into quite the social butterfly.  Our only concern is that she's getting enough work done in the mornings.  Her teacher says she's very content to chat, write stories and color....flitting about the room with all her friends.  Although I'm glad to hear she's coming out of her shell a bit, we're refocusing her efforts in the morning towards more meaningful school work.


They say there's a first time for everything and this week was my first time canning.  I read Pioneer Woman's Advice and called my Mother-In-Law to see what she thought.  Turns out Pioneer Woman uses the basic "Ball" recipe, as does my MIL.  It took me about a week to gather everything I needed and I waited for the first cold, rainy day.  Turns out that day was yesterday!

See.  I was ready!!!

Overall, it was very easy and a lot of fun to make.  I most enjoy baking because of its' science-like qualities and canning is very similar.  At the last second, I read in the "Ball Bible" that it's important to measure the dry ingredients (sugar) exactly.  Sure enough, I had almost a 1/2 cup too much.

I think mashing up the strawberries was my favorite part.  I'm going to make another batch this weekend with Devin home, so she can see how much fun it is.


All fires burning!  The cold day made it nice to stand by the stove all morning.Photobucket

Finished product!  I made 8 jars and had some extra for the fridge.  It tastes AMAZING!  There's no comparison to this and say, Smuckers.  This morning, I checked all the lids and they are concave and not popping or moving.  SUCCESS!  I did forget one step, to scrape off the jelly "scum" after boiling.  I guess I didn't see much of it, so I forgot.


So, I'm off to Costco ASAP to get more strawberries and hopefully some peaches.  These little jars will be perfect for our school Bake and Craft Sale in November.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy Happy, Joy Joy

The only way to describe the past few weeks is pure joy. Everyone is healthy and thriving & we spend most of our weekends outside. Someone FINALLY lost the other front tooth, which was a big deal. The Tooth Fairy made another visit and even left a note:)

Last weekend, we walked up and down Bardstown Road.   Devin enjoyed going into all the little shops, always looking for new earrings.  We'll be able to change her pierced earrings by the end of the week.  There's been no trouble with the starter set and her ears healed perfectly.  

I was shocked a few weeks ago, when I found one of her stuffed Golden Retrievers covered with "make up."  At 6.5 years, I figured we were past this stage.

Dev is growing up fast.  Her school experience has been amazing.  We couldn't ask for a better start to 1st Grade.  This weekend, we helped at an Open House for prospective families.  When I told her it was time to go, I heard an amazing sound...a whine of "awwwwww."  She said, "I wish it was a regular school day, so I could stay."  

The older children in class continue to be a source of inspiration and (sometimes) frustration.  She gets SO mad at herself if something she does isn't perfect in her eyes.  We're trying to help her manage expectations and value "mistakes."  I explained how I play certain tennis matches, knowing I will most likely lose.  But, it's the experience I enjoy...the exercise, the competition and learning from mistakes.  

Here's the happy girl, practicing her hand stands.  It's a borderline obsession at the moment.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Few Firsts

It was a week of firsts around here.

She's been "ready" to ride a bike for awhile.  But, she needed a bigger bike and we decided to wait until the Fall to buy one.  I figured the heat of the summer was best spent at the pool vs. running behind a bike and listening to her scream and cry.

After many frustrating attempts at teaching her to ride, I Googled "How to teach a child to ride a bike." They had a GREAT You Tube video about the subject and it held a miracle secret for us...take off the pedals!  Once we did that, she started instantly coasting and balancing.  All she had to worry about was coasting and steering.  Which is a lot, actually.  After a week of coasting up and down the sidewalk, I put the pedals back on and she was riding in 5 minutes.  No falls, no screaming, no tears.

Thank you Google.

After many tears, Photobucket

crashes, Photobucket

and skinned knees and elbows,

she finally

 figured out,

Photobuckethow to ride her bike:

We are spending lots of time outside in the glorious weather.
: Photobucket

 I spotted this huge Praying Mantis in the garden: Photobucket

At school this year, they are ALL getting violin lessons.  Can you imagine the sounds??  She showed a lot of interest and excitement so we decided to rent her a violin and split a private lesson with one of her friends.  The music teacher offers private lessons during regular school hours, so it's NOT another after school thing.  Chess on Mondays, violin on Tuesday and tennis on Thursdays is more than enough.  But, she seems happy and rested throughout the week.  I've observed at school how students can really take a breather when they need to...read a book, get a snack, work on the computer.  It's their choice during the day:)

She brought her first violin home. You might want to turn down the volume before hitting play: