Friday, September 28, 2012

Bonfire - Letter to J

Monkey -

Last night, I had such a blast at the bonfire with you.  I'll get the pictures up next week, but right now I need to share moments from my heart.

We were blessed with Grandpa P unexpectedly being able to join us.  Grandma & Grandpa M changed their vacation plans to join us.  Sadly, Daddy had to work, so it was just the five of us.  And mommy was about 45 minutes late.

By the time I joined you, Grandpa P had made sure you were signed up for the hay ride.  Nadia, little Miss first grader herself, your morning buddy... The girl you consistently tell me how much you love her morning hugs, and her mom shared that you are her own personal fan club.  She asked you to wait for ride 3, so you could ride with her. 

Then she changed her mind, she didn't want to ride.  But you, went your own way - so excited for the ride.  You wanted to be right up front so you wouldn't miss a thing.  But your heart is so good and so loving, that when a buddy from Young Scholar's was sad to be going on the ride without his mom, you quickly gave up your seat and made your way over to him.  You let him know with your loving hug that it was okay and the ride would be fun because you two were together.

You ended up sitting in the middle of everyone towards the back, and really didn't have the see everything experience you had initially desired, but you were happy.  You made a friend smile & when you two both got off, he was as delighted as you were for having gone on the ride.

Thank you for your sweet, loving heart.

I have more to share on the night, and will as I publish the pictures, but that moment was my key point to the night.

You were so tired when we left, you were not able to keep your eyes open until we arrived home - a whole 10 minutes later.  Grandpa & I got you changed, then tucked into mommy's bed.  I love the stolen nights of putting you to sleep in our room.  They are becoming more rare, and I know they will all but disappear before I know it. 

You were very adamant about saying your prayers.  Listening to you thank the Lord for his daily gifts, is definitely a highlight of my night.  You were so insecure when we first started doing these daily prayers, but lately I've noticed you are getting more and more confident.  It's like praying before we eat.  You just do it - naturally.  Simply.  Joyfully.  You are setting the example I wanted for you.  Thank you for that.

As I tucked into bed, I snuggled you close.  The woodsmoke in your hair.  The little boy bad breath.  The simple joy of having you safe & beside me.  I am so blessed that you are my little boy.  You are perfect for me.  You are my buddy. 

I love you so much monkey.  Thank you for being you.

Even when you are cranky and tired.  I love you. 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fun Extended Family Day

After the football game Saturday, we drove to the Detroit area to see some close friends I haven't seen in far to long (a stop that was far to short, due to time) and then onto our hotel for the night.  Thankfully J fell asleep on the trip to our hotel, and stayed asleep for the night.

In the morning, Jeff & the girls came to join Grandma & Grandpa, J & me for a morning swim.  The pool was a bit chilly, but it made for such a fun start to spending time with my family.

And swim, oh man - J is a swimmer.  While the girls when to the hot tub, J went right for the big pool.  It was approximately 30 feet long and 5 feet deep in the *deep* end.  J promptly jumped in, causing fear in the hearts of the boys swimming in there.  To their surprise and delight, they had a new playmate. 

J was the youngest to join the crew of 3 (unchaperoned, which made me nutty) already in the pool.  The oldest was probably around 12, then 8, and the youngest was 5.  The oldest was a strong swimmer, but J beat the 8 year old in a swim contest from one end to the other. 

Yes, he was tickled with delight over this fact.
They had a no diving rule, so J made use of his cannon ball skills. 
And when we were done, man was he tired.

But not to tired to play.  After swimming, Aunt Kristi had made lunch.  The kiddos sat together enjoying this much to short time together, leaving the adults to relax and catchup as well. 

When we departed around 2:15 ET, J surprised no one with his promptly falling asleep.  Thankfully it was only an hour nap, so he still went down for the night fairly easy.  On Monday, Miss Cheryl & I had a game plan for getting him in position to fall asleep early.  There was no strong request or encouragement, but should he fall asleep - he'd be fed & bathed for the night. 

Miss Cheryl texted me at 5:30 - J was knocked out.  He slept pretty much until the morning wake-up, putting us in great shape for a great week.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

We have a...

I mentioned last week, how excited I was for Friday.  I've been waiting to share the chosen team, as I wanted to share the background fable with it.

From Forest Ridge Academy, written by the first Head of School.

The Hender-Monti Fable

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived in a small village a brave and courageous clan known far and wide as the Henders...and beyond the Ridge and in the beautiful Forest lived their friends and compatriots, the Montis.  Both clans worked together to improve the lives of the people and wee children living in this enchanted forest near the famous ridge.

It was custom at that time that all children were given their clan name, which consisted of their last name first; followed by the special name their parents had given them.

Into the Hender clan was born, one lovely, balmy day, a delightful baby boy who was the first son of the village professor.  He was affectionately named Hender - Son.

Now, lo and behold, on the same day, there was also born into the Monti clan a beautiful, bright-eyed girl.  Her parents chose the name Sarie for their baby, so she became known as Monti - Sarie.

As time passed, little Hender - Son and Monti - Sarie became good friends, and as they grew both learned the importance of education.  For they loved school and spent many happy hours acquiring the knowledge and skills they knew they would need to better adapt as citizens, not only of the beautiful ridge in the enchanted forest, but as true citizens of the world.

It also happened that there lived near the ridge an evil monster, whose primary goal was to prevent creativity and learning, so that the monster could control all persons with its influence.

To carry out its diabolical design, the monster cast an evil spell on Hender - Son and Monti - Sarie while they played in the glen.  They fell into a deep, deep sleep.  It is true that the only way they could be rescued would be for all the children to experience the joy of learning and understanding.  There was then created, on the ridge in the enchanted forest, an Academy of formal learning.  This school became known as Forest Ridge Academy

In due time, the formal training and the knowledge acquired by the children at Forest Ridge Academy broke the spell that had been cast upon Hender - Son and Monti - Sarie by the wicked monster.  Then the beautiful ridge in the enchanted forest was once again filled with happiness.

May the flame & spirit of Hender - Son and Monti - Sarie's dream, Forest Ridge Academy, forever burn brightly, so that no evil monster may ever, now or in the future cast its grotesque spell of ignorance and superstition on the children.

J desperately wanted to be a Hender.  I'm not sure why, although, I suspect it has to do with Mrs. Sandoval being one.  All I know is he told me repeatedly that he wanted to be a Hender.

I was seriously so nervous he'd draw a burgundy Monti strip, landing him in tear fest 2012.  I kept saying "You will be wearing both gray & burgundy, so whatever you pick, you & Mommy are going to be celebrating.  This is so exciting, and I cannot wait to see what team you are on."

"I know mom, but I really want to be a Hender"

Sigh.  (and when did I become mom... Sad)

With crossed fingers & toes, Mommy stood with the other Moms & Dads of his classmates taking pictures.  Celebrating this moment.  This team will be J's team for life. 

Alumni even cheer for their teams after graduation.

This is HUGE!!!
Boy was he one happy boy...

Monday, September 24, 2012

MSU Football

And really, all I can say is - they won.

My dad did his undergrad and graduate degree at Michigan State University.  Since then, my parentals have had MSU Football tickets for as long as I can recall.  I mean as in, in a snow suit as a child... In the later years, my parents added basketball tickets to their entertainment schedule. 

I call this - MSU's sharing of my inheritance.

In reality, I'm only sort of joking, but seriously - I never enjoyed going.  Best thing ever was turning 13 & able to stay home alone & read a book while my parents went with friends.  Neither my brother nor I ever went without anything we needed, and my dad worked very hard - so I cannot begrudge him from this activity.

But I won't lie, MSU raising the funding level has surpassed the price point my dad is willing to spend on these - considering he is a Snow Bird, did not break my heart.

It did however, ensure I attended a game this year... 

It started with Matt being a huge U of Illinois fan.  My Dad obviously being a huge MSU fan.  And my high school years being spent between MSU's campus & Olivet College's campus.  They were, after all, 35 minutes & 15 minutes respectively from the door of the fraternity houses of my brother's friends to the door of my house.  Not that I needed to that down to the second for curfew or anything.

Jacob has been showered in MSU gear for the past 2 years as Mommy shunned Daddy's joy, as he has ruled on all Pro teams.  As a result, J is a HUGE Spartan fan.  HUGE. 

My Mom & Dad have had the best time sharing this joy with J.  J always has to have his MSU gear packed when he sees Grandma & Grandpa.  He knows this is *their* thing.  Similar to White Sox with inlaws, due to Aunt Liz working for the Sox.

So of course, Grandpa HAD to treat J to a game.
And it was bouncing between 48 & 56 degrees F.

With rain.
Don't I look thrilled?

Seriously, it was a lot of fun.  And yet, I'm glad it is over.  J can always say he was center field 30 rows up in Spartan stadium, something that in all my years of going, could rarely say.  He is one lucky kid. 

And the happiness it gave my parents & J - made it totally worth it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Show & Tell

Today is such an exciting day.  I'm writing this before school, but set to post while we are partying at the bonfire. 

Fingers crossed.

Weather is predicting rain from noon on... :(

Today is the day that J will select his Hender / Monti team.  He will participate on this team from now until he leaves the school.  So as of now, that means, he will be on this team until he is ready to start high school in 9th grade.  If FRA does build the high school as is planned, then he could be on it from age 4 preschool through graduation of high school. 

This is a HUGE day!

And sadly, I don't think he gets it yet.  Mommy was way more excited & geeked over it this morning than J was.


What's a mom to do?  Shift gears.


Moving on...

J is excited over today being his "Show & Tell" day.  The theme this year is to have the item be related to the letter of the week (so this week was B), and for the kids to develop a couple of clues to have their classmates try to guess what it is.

I spelled and J wrote as we developed the clues.  This was a ton of fun as well!

The Clues:
Can you guess?  See below

While you attempt to guess, I will add - this is going to be a super busy weekend.  We are excited, but wow will it be busy.

Today is the Hender / Monti selection Pep Rally followed by the bonfire tonight.

Tomorrow is the MSU football game, followed by a visit with friends we haven't seen in far to long.  Then we are headed to our hotel room for the night by my brother's home.  My parents are accompanying us, hence our camping out at the hotel, plus we get a pool.  Bonus!

Sunday - spending the day with my brother & his family.  J is excited about seeing his grandparents tonight and tomorrow (both sets), but he is especially excited about getting to see his cousins.  He really thinks Camryn hung the cousin moon.  It is so fun for me to watch them play like they just saw each other yesterday.  Considering how far apart we live, I cannot help but cherish this blessing.

Have a great weekend! 

The Answer:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

More Birthday Party - Apple Orchard Pictures

Artie's mom sent me some pictures she snapped of J, so I have to share.

Moo Choo Train
 Jacob getting to tell Peter the Pumpkin eating dinosaur a joke.
 And yes, I sighed in relief that it did not contain poop or fart or anything else that we would never remotely want discussed by a child holding a microphone.

The very hungry goats!
After making it through one joke, Mommy may have stepped in to ensure a second joke wouldn't squeak out...

Pun intended.
He comes by it naturally.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

JK 1st Field Trip - Apple Orchard

J went on his first field trip with school on September 12th.  The Kindergartners and Junior Kindergartners visited County Line Apple Orchard.  Love this place.  It was the place of Artie's birthday the weekend before.  So much fun!

J came home with apples to make an apple cake.  They made apple sauce from orchard picked apples at school the for snack the next day.  I love listening to J talk all about his activities, and the things they do.  He is so happy.  SQUEE!

J was sad that Peter the pumpkin eating dinosaur was asleep during their visit, but the goats were still hungry so that made up for it.  :)

Since I could not join J on this field trip, I wanted him to know I was thinking of him... In atypical Ali fashion, I decided to be a tad artistic with his lunch bag.  They asked the kids come with disposable lunch sacks, as to not have to keep track of kids AND their stuff. 

I had a blast doing this for him. 
And yes, the kiss was added last - J requested it as part of the Kissing Hand theme being built upon this year.

<3 him="him">

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gathering Thoughts

Wow... Cannot believe it has been a week.  And only a week since I've made it over here.  Sigh.  What a week.

We've survived another close.  We are entering another business planning season.  Thankfully Daddy is on the same page as me, in regards to priorities... You are the only priority that matters.  I will do what I can do in the time I have to do it, otherwise, it isn't worth it.

And daddy agrees.  I cannot tell you how much it means to me that daddy agrees fully and completely with me on this point.

In other news, we have cleaned and reorganized the basement.  We are loving it.  You and I spent time down there yesterday.  You got dressed up as Spiderman, and created this whole world - including me, without needing me to participate fully.  You were good with my reading, enjoying your story line with a spare ear.

And this was after a very fun family day with Daddy.  We even found a plan for a future one again soon. 

We have hit our groove as a family.

In part, this is where we have started saying goodbye and shutting doors on possibilities as well though.  We have sorted your toys for the Spring garage sale.  We have also box a whale load of baby stuff for donation to a friend who is unexpectedly expecting, and my maternity stuff has gone to a co-worker.  Door closed.

Door open...  With the rearrangement of furniture, Daddy & I have found a new use for our sun room.  Our couch has already seen more people action than it had in ages. 

Fall is upon us.  Love, happiness and joy... Here's to continuing to celebrate 2012.  It has been a great year for us so far.

<3 you="you">

Monday, September 10, 2012

Apple Orchard - Birthday Party

J & I had such a busy fun weekend.  I felt like we were just catching our breath, when my alarm went off this morning.  Both J & I could have slept another hour or so...  Thankfully, he slept until I woke him up for school.

Two birthday parties on Saturday were followed by mowing the lawn, dinner and bed... Sunday, being Grandparents Day, were spent celebrating Aunt Liz's birthday & spending time with Grandma & Grandpa M.

I only have pictures from the first party, as Mommy totally slacked the rest of the weekend...  :-/

The Apple Orchard has been one of our favorite activities over the past few years.  J immediately figured out how to dig right into an apple straight from the tree his first year (age 2 1/2), to mommy's surprise.  So we've managed to go every year since... This year, with the early frosts, there are not many apples.  It is so bad, they are calling it an experience more than a picking expedition.  So this year, celebrating a birthday kind of worked perfectly.

The kiddos started at the Petting Zoo.  J happily fed animal after animal.  His working with Payton to take treats without being scared carried over into his feeding the greedy goats.  He was so proud of not shying away.

Although, he did say that one of them was a mean greedy goat & needed to be put on "time-out". 
The Petting Zoo was followed by Peter the Pumpkin Eater. 
And yes, J promptly grabbed the mike when offered to tell a joke.  I was betting money he'd tell a fart, poop, or something else equally embarrassing joke.  Instead, it was one about a Mommy that fell flat with the kids, but us parents chuckled at his bravery.

After a yummy lunch, the kiddos received their Jake hats...
Then got a ride on the Moo Choo Train...
J was so sad to leave his good friend Artie's birthday, but super excited about seeing Madi at Jump Zone for her birthday.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wow - When did that happen?

J's school has a pretty strict dress code.  Uniform Monday through Thursday, with Spirit Wear on Fridays.  Shoes are mostly all black or mostly all white.  Clothes must fit at the waist and be in good overall condition.  Boys must wear belts.  And absolutely no holes.  Even the stylish ones.

As a result, I have picked up a couple of pair jeans for J, but mostly I was relying on last years jeans to start the year.  Well, I was... Then today, I put them on him and hokey high tides.  Poor kiddo looked like he was trying to avoid the mud puddles. 

Obviously Mommy has some shopping to do. 

Thankfully, J is still young enough this did not cause drama this morning, as we had enough drama over falling asleep almost an hour late last night.  I'm so thankful tomorrow is Saturday.  Maybe this momma can kick her cold & recharge.

That said, I feel like my to-do list is never ending.

Sigh... At least jean shopping is a fun add. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The boy likes...


Yes, I know... It's random.  Neither his father nor I have any body art.  We are too straight laced for such permanence. 

I ALWAYS wanted a tattoo on my hip, but here I am 36 - a married mother, and have yet to believe I'm old enough to go acquire one.

But the boy...

Yes, the boy has found his fascination in body art.  He even took his first lesson in savings to acquire more body art.

See I bribe reward J for good behavior at the grocery store with a $0.25 for each trip.  It buys him a gum ball at the machine on our way out the door.  He's happy.  I'm happy.  Most importantly, we get groceries - so everyone's tummy is happy.

A couple of trips ago, however, J noticed an Angry Birds machine, and asked what it was.  In my haste to get the gumball and leave, I answered "Angry Bird sticker or tattoo machine.  It costs two quarters, which you don't have.  Grab your gumball and let's go."

J... Never one to be put off or rushed on anything.  Poky Little Puppy  Sigh.

"How can I get two quarters?"

After a good 10 minutes of explaining how J could *earn* $0.50, J decided he wanted me to save his quarter for the next trip.

Awesome.  Let's go.

Fast forward one week. 
Thankfully this is 3 days later.
J on the other hand... He's sad & wanting to know when it will come back.  I keep telling him when he is 30.  Like kissing - no body art until he's 30.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Christmas & Birthday came early this year...

Grandma & Grandpa P are never around these parts at Christmas or for J's birthday.  They are always great about giving him gifts when they get back in town (or before they leave), and for Jacob - this works out wonderfully... His gifts are never ending. 

This year, Grandma, knowing I'm feeling overwhelmed in toys, was really trying to find a good gift for Monkey.  A gift that we would both appreciate.  She'd tossed out a few ideas, but nothing stuck. 


Mommy mentioned how she & daddy had been discussing a trampoline.  Our dog run is perfect size for housing it.  The ground is level for safety, and being down to only Payton - there isn't much dog left for it.

Grandma jumped all over it.  Grandpa jumped on board immediately as well. 
And together, they surprised him this past weekend.
He hasn't stopped jumping yet.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

J's plans to spend Friday with Grandma & Grandpa were thwarted by Grandpa M having surgery the prior Friday.  Mommy had already told Miss Cheryl she could have the long weekend, so backup plan A was a bust.  Daddy was in the midst of close, so backup plan B was a bust.  As well as Grandma P having a Dr. appointment about her pesky kidney stones...

Backup Plan Mommy was in full effect.  And while I  stressed over pulling a vacation day ahead, I cannot lie - I LOVED this stolen day.  It was perfect for us to have this time to get our errands done in preparation for Grandma & Grandpa's arrival on Saturday. 
Fresh from Pigtails & Crewcuts.

Operation basement insulation, water heater repair, and throw in a toilet innards replacement for good measure was in full effect this Labor Day weekend.

Our basement has been fully lined in 2 inch insulation, and our exercise equipment has been completely put together.  I've even made a ton of progress on sorting for garage sale vs. donating J's baby stuff.

We still have to move the couch downstairs, run cable to the TV, clean the project/game table, and sort J's toys.  Oh yeah, move the two chairs from downstairs to upstairs.  Those + a new area rug & our Sun Room will finally become my reading sanctuary.  Going into fall & winter, that excites me more than I can tell you.

The only part of this project that worries me - sorting J's toys.  It is so hard to make choices on what to get rid of vs. what to keep when he hasn't outgrown all of his toys yet.  But we are overwhelmed in them, and I feel a calling to not only share on his behalf, but pull J into the process.  My mom had a wonderful idea, as we were standing there looking at the overwhelming pile of toys for me to sort, to put all toys away on shelves & see what he gets out & still plays with vs. what he just never seems to find that interest.  I like it AND it fits with my idea of clean floor.  This will be J's playroom.  He will be responsible for picking up his toys.  The bonus is it will give us room to play too.  Instead of having to pick and choose times to play, we will be able to start a game, leave it on the table, then come back after eating - or whatever. 

2012 has been such a wonderful year, and I'm looking forward to rounding it out strong.