Thursday, August 30, 2012

Parent's Orientation

Seems like just yesterday Mr. M & I walked through the doors of the Young Scholar class to meet Mrs. Bach, Mrs. Sandoval, Mrs. B & Mrs. Petner.  We did not know then, how truly impactful these wonderful women would be on our son. 

We were so delighted and amazed at the changes in maturity and academic development Jacob had in his age 3 preschool.

Matt & I have been so excited for what this year will be, knowing J's growth will be in triplicate as he enters a more structured classroom.  That said, we were no where near prepared for how orientation night would go this year.  Or that your class would be so small.  10 kids in your classroom.  I'm awed by the one on one attention you will receive.  A perfect fit for your learning style.

We met Mrs. Kaiser the first day of school, and my initial impression still holds.  She is more teacher and less loving parent.  Not bad, just the complete opposite of Mrs. Bach & Mrs. Sandoval, who were total parent first - teacher second  This is her first year teaching at FRA, and I think she is still getting her bearings a bit.  Much like us parents.

She was wonderfully informative.  Small details, oh so important to us as parents, were shared.  She explained how lunch worked.  How our little ones were eating in the cafeteria with, but separate from, the other K - 4th graders.  By September, the teachers will let the Aides address lunch with the kids, as right now they are there for additional assistance.  And coming back in January, the kids will be eating as part of the larger lunchroom.  EEK!

Naps, sigh.... Naps.  I'm mixed on missing naps.  After discussing how hard it is to wake J up, should he fall asleep on his own, Mrs. Kaiser learned first hand last Friday.  Since then, she watches and if he starts to doze, she'll quietly nudge him into looking at a book or another activity, which will keep him from totally relaxing into sleep. 

FRA treats JK as a transitional year packing the development of age 4 preschool and Kindergarten into one year.  Mrs. Kaiser only kind of laughed when she said "Entering Kindergarten next year the students need to be ready for Kindergarten being the new 1st grade."

We parents nervously laughed.

Mrs. Kaiser explained how she will be working to develop analytical thinking while teaching math concepts.  She introduced "Bubble Math" a new concept for me, as I only knew the "Bubble" concept in relation to brainstorming exercises.

Library time!  This year the kids are getting their own library cards for school.  They will have library time every Monday, with the ability to check out one book at a time.  J is so excited. 

Field Trips.  Oye ve.  1 a month with parental involvement expected on every other trip.  YIKES.  Thankfully Grandparents & family friends can pinch hit for us.  Yes, that would be you Grandma P, Grandma M and Miss Cheryl.  Oh, and Aunt Liz - you are more than welcome to join.  Unfortunately Mrs. Kaiser does not have the plans complete yet, but committed to at least giving us a head's up shortly so we can plan accordingly.

Heading into this year, I realize there will be a learning and adjustment curve not only for you little man, but us too.  We have to remember to take our time, be patient and kind with each other as we grow through these changes.

That said... Much like going into summer, I have so much hope, happiness, and just plain excitement for this 2012-2013 school year, I want to dance on ceilings and shout it out loud.

Love you Bud!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Just beacuse...

I took this picture last Friday, and since he has no school this Friday - I thought I'd share today.  Enjoy!
On a side note:  Mommy will be getting a bonus day with Monkey.  School's out & my initial plan hiccuped, as did my backup plan.  Heck, it's month end so even my Daddy plan was a failure.  Oh well, Mommy is unbelievably excited about this mishap.  It may cost me a vacation day in Dec, Dec 26th to be exact - since Daddy will have that day off, but my boss assures me I will earn that back in October...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ionia Free Fair 2012

I just realized, I never got around to posting the pictures from the IFF this year.  We had a blast!
We stopped and looked at the displays going into the park.  The first stop was the inside of a Dinosaur, from mouth to um excretion (if you know what I mean).  J loved feeling the heart, and while he got a little worried as we enter the belly, the fact he got the biggest laugh over being pushed out in a ginormous fart wave of air.
The National Guard was a huge hit as we talked to J about Grandpa's P time driving one of those during the Gulf War. 
We also fully enjoyed our share of *fair food*... nom,nom,nom
The corn dog was as big as he was, and we inhaled 2 elephant ears. 

Being 42 inches, J was just tall enough to enjoy the first set of rides beyond the kiddie zone. 

And let me just tell you how fearless this kid was. 

He did the drop twice.

And yes, he is already asking when we can go do that again. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sugar Free Pecan Pie

In an effort to reduce my mood swings, I decided to re-evaluate my diet.  As a result, I am eating a whole lot more wholesome foods, coupled with a whole lot less refined sugar. 

That said, with the feeling of fall in the air recently, I have been
Pecan Pie.

Seriously.  It has been OBNOXIOUS.  The crazy thing was, I had the hardest time finding a recipe that had all the goodness of my moms, with none of the sugar crashing mood swings.

Eventually, I gave up and decided to rewrite my own mother's tried-and-true recipe.

It.was.divine.  Totally hit the spot.

Will warn, it has a side benefit effect of torture if you enjoy more than a small slice at any one point in time.  I figure this keeps me honest in my goal to live well on veggies, while allowing me to enjoy the luxuries of dessert.

Sugar Free Pecan Pie
recipe adapted from Mom

2/3    almond flour
1/3    unsweetened flaked coconut
1       Splenda packet
3/4    stick butter

Mix with a pastry mixer (I used the hand held manual version)
Add additional almond flour until mix is similar to cheesecake crust

Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 mins

The coconut mixed in with the almond flour gives it a nice caramelized crunch that really satisfies as a crust.


3      eggs
1c    all purpose SF syrup
2/3c Ideal brown sugar
1/3c butter
1c    pecans
1/2c SF chocolate bites  (I used 5 individual wrapped candies cut into 4s)

Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 mins or until knife comes out clean.

I pulled mine out around 20 mins, as I mins (thinking that only applied to traditional crusts).  As a result it was pretty runny, but refrigerating it allowed it to harden up to the texture I was accustomed to having.  Also, I've read xathom can be added as a no flavor thickener. I have to play with that part. Regardless, this hit the spot with zero guilt!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Junior Kindergarten (JK)

Today Forest Ridge Academy (FRA) welcomed into the family.  Even though you were apart of the Young Scholar class, it isn't until you start Junior Kindergarten (JK) that you are welcomed into the school.

FRA is celebrating 30 years this year.  I learned when they first opened their doors, it was for 2 second graders and 11 first graders.  Today there are over 200 students enrolled between YS (age 3 preschool) and eighth grade.  As Mrs. Arnold, school principal, spoke about how quickly the time has gone, my heart caught in my throat realizing your time here will be over just as quickly.

Too quickly little man!

In September, we will be back to join you for the Pep Rally where you will draw your team membership; Monti or Hender.  We will then start donating Box Tops and Can Snaps in earnest as each one gets you closer to the year end celebratory pizza party.

Wow... Writing this is harder on Mommy than she would have thought.

This morning, I awoke to find my favorite little bed snuggler holding on to my arm.  It always amazes me that we start out with you in your bed, and you last there until well after Daddy joining me in bed... I never feel you scramble in between us.  And yet.  There you are.  Your arm looped through mine or your arm thrown around my neck. 

Love you little man!

As we awoke, you were so excited to start your day, and yet hesitant as well.  You were so excited both Mommy & Daddy would be there for the flower ceremony.  You wished we would stay the whole day though.  In your world, Mommy & Daddy would never work and every day would be family days.

Mommy agrees.  Totally!

When we arrived at school, you willingly stood before the FRA tree for me to capture the annual 1st day picture.  I was shocked to see how much you had grown from last Spring we did the last uniform day picture.  You looked so sharp. 
My heart over flows with happiness.  I love you so much little man.

Then it was off to your classroom to meet your new teacher, Mrs. Kaiser.  Since this was her first day at FRA, I think she was as nervous as you.  Mrs. Sandoval, your YS teacher in which you had the biggest crush, was also there to welcome you with a first day hug.  After showing us your cubby, you happily pushed daddy & me out the door to get some Mrs. Sandoval hugs. 

We all love your hugs and query "Can I tell/ask you one more thing?"

The actual program was so beautiful.  Mommy got so teary eyed as Mrs. Arnold spoke.  Then again as the names of your classmates were called. 

Then in serious form, as you were called.

Mrs. Arnold giving you the flower.
Mrs. Leitner (Board Member) giving you the biggest welcoming hug, which doubled as a find parents moment.
You ran out to me & daddy, then quickly ran to be with your class.
Your day had started, and you are so ready to be a Junior Kindergartner.

Daddy & I walked out talking how pleased we are to be able to have both the financial means and opportunity to send you to FRA.  Our hearts overflow with love and joy for you little man.

Oh... The things you will learn this year.  Happy 2012 - 2013 School Year.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Goodbye Summer! Hello Fall!

We have had an absolutely wonderful summer.  Lots of extremely warm days spent playing, swimming, and just generally having a blast.  This summer J had his first tubing experience and learned to swim to the bottom of the pool on his own to retrieve dive toys from the bottom of the pool. 

J has really exploded in trying new foods.  Veggies are still a challenge, but I will never argue with a child who chooses strawberries, apple slices, grapes and blueberries over potatoes.  I know my snacking on cauliflower, sugar snap peas and peppers will eventually intrigue him to share in the delights of healthy eating.  In the mean time, I'm celebrating his willingness to explore new main courses.  He has found he loves bacon and steak. 

J's willingness to eat new foods definitely made last week easier on the grandparents.  Grandma M supplied an assortment of food, but the highlight (per J) was her homemade Italian meatballs.  Grandma P stuck closer to mom tested tacos, bacon sandwiches, and steak.  We did learn, J just loves the *yellow* box of Cheerios.  Such a simple delight that provided grandma with the perfect "this is your one item" choice during a grocery shop.

I've learned that J needs to understand clear boundaries and expectations prior to entering events.  He is a creature of routine and habit, and varying from that is hard for him.  Since I find comfort in routine, I totally understand, and make sure I am clear with expectations prior to uncontrollable situations.  Other kids getting to run around the grocery store, while J is made to either sit in the cart or stay very close to me is hard for him to comprehend and understand.  But saying - if you sit in the cart until there is no room for you, then you walk nicely beside me will earn you a quarter for the gum machine on the way out - works beautifully for keeping him well behaved.  Even in the check out line, where this week, had been a tad sassy (doing away with naps is killing us both) during our shop, so he asked if he could earn his quarter back by picking up the check out lane items that are so tempting for little hands.  A box of suckers had been knocked over, Matchbox cars tossed aside, etc.  I was so proud of him as he asked for help matching up each item with its proper location and putting them away.  The smile showing me how proud he was of himself was that much more powerful.

Jacob has grown and changed so much in the past year, I could not be more proud of him if I tried.  He is curious and eager to learn.  Hours could fly by with the iPad working on words or simple math.  Then days later, J will show me through normal everyday life how those lessons are sinking in as he applies them to a situation.

Tomorrow he starts Junior Kindergarten.  With it comes the promise of more learning, renewed friendships, new friendships, and the continued enhancement of his learning.  It seems like just yesterday he was sucking his thumb during one of my weekly biophysical profiles.  Or how at 4 months he found his thumb.  Or his first steps during our visit to Marco in Dec 2008.  Or his racing to the front door on a full run to let everyone in for his 1st birthday.  Or his move to prefer real food over baby food.  Or his first paper sent home just have he turned 2 and Miss Angie had him in preschool.  Or how his language grew leaps and bounds in the first 3 months after he turned 2.  Celebrating birthdays.  Learning to swim on his own.  Getting his passport stamped.  His first day of Young Scholars.  His last day.    

and here we are... Summer over and life begins anew with the passing of another season.  Hello Fall!  We welcome you with an open heart and a joy of what is to come. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fun Time with Monkey!

J had an absolute blast with his paternal grandparents & Aunt Lucy (aka to everyone else: Aunt Liz).  They visited the train engine museum and then a Wild West museum / exhibit on Monday.  J was blissfully happy when we spoke with him.  Then Tuesday became a day with Aunt Liz at the Brookfield Zoo.  J was so proud of his Gorilla he got out of a machine, and will have to show me at Grandma's next time we visit.

As excited as he was when we left him, J was sad to see us go.  And as excited as he was to be home, he was sad to see Grandma go last night.  He just had so much fun. 

Since it rained, we turned it into a night of relaxing enjoyment.  We snuggled on the couch & watch Dora's gymnastic adventure.  We learned how to make Xfinity work on our iPads.  We unpacked little man, did laundry, and repacked little man for his next big adventure to his maternal grandparents.

All the while celebrating J's big project with Grandpa. 

After all the fun at the M's, we had to give him something to look forward to at the P's.  He seriously was unhappy for the never ending fun to end...

And the project?  Getting Grandma a birthday cake & candles to celebrate her birthday this weekend, since she turns 66 next Friday...

In the meantime, I'm getting things done I need to accomplish & relishing in the fun of our weekend...

Can you tell which J did vs. Mommy art? 

Till Saturday, when I can join the fun in Michigan.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What to do... What to do...

As summer is winding down, and school starts in 10 days (how is it time already????). J is off on the first of his two - two sleep stays with each set of grandparents. 

And he was one excited little boy!

At least until we actually left...

And then that only lasted moments, then it was off to fun!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Making Muffins

J loves to help out in the kitchen.  I love watching him.  I think it has helped his growth of eating, and I hope it continues to grow his meal options.

In that spirit, and considering it is in the 70's with rain today, Miss Cheryl pulled J into the kitchen to make muffins with her.

 Lining the pan...
Of course, he chose blueberry.  His favorite!

I'm glad he enjoying his time in the kitchen!

Huge thank you to Miss Cheryl for creating another wonderful afternoon for the Monkey while his dad & I worked.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

She's got new wheels...

Miss Skye recently had a birthday & is now a big 3 year old.  J was so happy to celebrate her birthday.  Although, he was rather bummed he missed out on the cakes enjoyed during the family celebration. 

That said, a play date was sufficient to remove any unhappiness over not scoring a piece of cake.  :-)

Especially when Skye turned over her keys to the new ride.
no, I did not ask him to put his arm around her, he just did it. 
Kind of like, he just leaned over and kissed her forehead during lunch on Saturday.

yes, we realize.  We are so in trouble in a few short years.  sigh...

J happily let her drive, until her understood how inexperienced he was, and this was pretty much the only time he let her drive.
Matt & I are anticipating similar behavior at 16.
Skye - you have to stay on the sidewalk.  Watch where you are going...

He's such a mini-me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back to School Dr's Appointment

Jacob had his back to school Dr's appointment today!  He is so funny & awesome.  They just wanted to keep him. 

I prepared J for peeing in a cup at home, and so he asked 1,000 questions when we got there.  He was so inquisitive the nurse let him help do the test strip & launch the machine that analyzes the sample.  Let me tell you how proud he was.  It cracked me up to no end.  Seriously.

He was thrilled, as he ended up with no shots this visit.  He is due for one next year, but that is next year's problem.

Today we smiled.

and laughed.

and enjoyed this 43 inches and 43 pounds wonderful, perfect little boy.

On a less fun note... He does have fluid in his right ear, so we will be going back in September after a month on Zyrtec to see if we need an ENT referral.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Scavenger Hunt

Doing this post from the iPad, so we'll have to see how it looks...  But I'm rather lazy, and just not inclined to fire up the old computer. 

Doing the mom thing, I sorted J's bag out to remove things we keep & to organize things that go back and forth (pillow & blanket).  Today J had an extra special list.  A scavenger hunt list.   They did the lists different from when I was a good. Instead of saying what they need to find, they recorded what the kids found. 

Here's J's list:

  1. Flowers
  2. Grass
  3. Birds
  4. People Walking
  5. Cars
  6. Airplane
  7. House
  8. People Working
  9. Toad / Frog
  10. Dog
What a great little hunter he was today...