Monday, August 27, 2012

First day of school: 4th and 2nd grade

The 1st day of school is here for both myself and the kiddos!

It was sure bittersweet. Although I love my kids more than my luggage, and I have totally enjoyed our constant time together this summer, it was TIME for them to return to that school!

They didn't really want to take pictures this morning, but I was able to snap a few. 

Caleb-my 4th grader

Jansen-my 2nd grader

boys that don't want to take any more pictures

waiting in the cafeteria for school to start

Jansen waiting for class to begin
Here's to a fantastic year!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Meet the Teacher

Thank goodness Meet the Teacher is finished! The PTO provides school supply packets as a courtesy for many of our families. They have the option of pre-ordering them in the Spring or attempting to buy one of the extra packs at Meet the Teacher. Basically, we sold out!

We sold a ton of t-shirts, almost all of our supply packs, and started our fundraising for a new playground set. We currently don't have a playground, at our school, that all our children can use. 

My boys got the teachers that they were wanting, and I feel very encouraged this year. Jansen has about 5 of his friends in his classroom for 2nd grade, but we don't know who else is in Caleb's class. He is hoping that one of his friends in particular will be in there. He really connects with him and will be very upset if he isn't. 

We are now completely prepared for Monday's first day of school. That morning we have to be up super early to go buy a bunch of donuts for that morning's school breakfast. I am so ready!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hope Springs review

First let me start by saying, in all my 32 years, I have never (not once) gone to the movies by myself.

AND, from the ages of 16-18, I worked at the movie theater in town. Honestly, in my defense for that, each Thursday we would get the new releases for Friday and the employees were treated to midnight showings. Those were the good days. I was dating my husband, so he became my automatic "plus 1". I am pretty sure that we saw every movie released from 1996-1998...good and bad. 

Additionally, before you totally ream me for thoroughly enjoying this movie....I am obsessed with older actresses. As a child, my imaginary friend was Carol Burnett...I'm not sure how imaginary it was to have an actual living person as a friend, but I digress. Growing up, I collected all things Annette Funicello, Lucille Ball, and Olivia Newton John. Later it became Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. Don't try to pop quiz my friend Carmela can attest...I will win.

Maybe it is because my parents only had one child, and I was very sheltered, and was only allowed to listen to "their music" and watch their shows. Look at my 5 year old self singing along to the theme songs from Gilligan's Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Mr. Ed, and Green Acres. And I probably know every song from 1950 to the present. Super fan of disco right here! And none of my parent's friend's kids were my age, so my parents just drug me around with them and I hung out with all their friends. I have probably felt 40 years old my whole life.

Anyway, Friday, my husband was on graveyards and my parents were keeping my kiddos over night, so I went to the movies to see Hope Springs. LIBERATING! I got there in plenty of time, got whatever I wanted at the concession, didn't have to shush my kids or tell them to stop kicking the chair in front of them, I didn't have to listen to my husband's was cool!

First of all, this movie's trailer is very misleading. I would definitely not classify this as a comedy, although there were many moments that I laughed out loud, either from genuine humor or from the sheer discomfort I could feel coming from the screen. This movie tackles intimacy on a whole other level than we ever see in movies. And it was so refreshing not to see the "falling in love" part of relationships represented but the maintenance of a long standing relationship. It was bold, embarrassing, uncomfortable, poignant, relate able, and honest. Being married is tough, for those who have been married 5, 12, 25, 31, 49, or 55 years. I so got lost in this couple as they struggled to regain something they once had, but didn't know if they could reignite. I totally forgot that it was Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones on camera, because their therapy sessions were so honest. It seemed like the audience was watching some kind of reality documentary. There were several times that I felt so sorry and frustrated for this couple that I wanted to cry. And then I laughed hysterically.

In the end, this movie was amazing. I know people have been all up in arms over the fact that it deals with  sex over 50, but good grief...we are all human. We all have a human desire and need to be loved, heard, understood, valued, touched, validated. And Meryl Streep's character was so passive and quiet about her  displeasure with her relationship with her GRUMPY husband-in-a rut, it made me want to scream in the theater to just TELL HIM WHAT YOU FEEL! And I wanted to scream at him, STOP CRITICIZING AND COMPLAINING AND LOOK AT YOUR WIFE! Look at her, really look at her. Don't look past her! I took away the need to really pay attention to my relationship, every day. Focus on us more...not just sit in the same room not connecting on any level. And to quote Andy Cohen, "I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats!" I am going to go back to the movies to see it again, and you better believe I am going to buy the DVD when it comes out! 

By far my favorite movie I have seen all year (and I saw MAGIC MIKE!)...although a vast majority of them were cartoons. Summer entertainment, folks. 

If you do go see it, it is not for kids, unless you really want to explain the very personal ins and outs of a marriage. Good luck with that one friends. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Easy roasted sausage and peppers

Shout out to Pinterest...again!

You will need....sausage, cubed potatoes, sliced onion and green bell peppers, seasoning, and a drizzle of olive oil. 

Line a pan with foil, add your ingredients, toss with oil, and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. This was great over rice. How easy can you get? Yummy!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to school bulletin board

This morning I headed to the school to pass out our PTO goodies and get the PTO bulletin board ready.

As soon as you walk in our school, on the left is our bulletin board. We use it for important information and for fun theme weeks. Since it is back to school time, we wanted something general and cute for the first impression when new-comers walk into our school. 

I got the theme from Pinterest...and I have such a personal love for puzzle pieces with them being the symbol for Autism and all. 

School is just around the corner!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Jellystone Waller, TX....hey, hey Yogi Bear

We just returned from a quick 2 day trip to Waller to go camping one more time before school starts. Might I just say again, camping is not a vacation. 

An island trip, lounging on the beach....a vacation.

A cruise....a vacation.

Going to a hotel and casino....a vacation.

Camping is an adventure. 

I have to get that through my mind. This is not a vacation, it is not relaxing. It is hard work, and we are choosing to call it an adventure. 

It was only our second trip, and we lost a few things off the camper, and the grill that I bought my husband for Father's Day, broke and almost fell off the back. On the good side, my husband is a rock star.

It was sweltering at the campgrounds and he worked so hard to get everything set up. He connected up all the hoses, fixed the grill, grilled the dinner, took the boys to play games...he just worked hard. And he told me that he is frustrated by the camping experience. It will get better, my love. The set up day and the take down day is frustrating and difficult. But the enjoyment days are great!

I hardly took any pictures this time because we were just too busy hanging out. We went swimming at the water park, 

ate pizza and root beer floats at the snack bar, drove everywhere on the gold cart, rode bikes, 

grilled steaks, roasted marshmallows, 

walked the dog, played in the jungle gym, 

played at the arcade, shopped for extra supplies, listened to music under the trees, drove to the outdoor movie theater in the golf cart, wore glow bracelets, Caleb entered an ice cream eating contest, and just enjoyed each other. 

Speaking of ice cream eating contests...regular kids would be chomping at the bit to dunk their faces in ice cream and eat sprinkles and whipped cream. My Autistic kid wanted to eat the ice cream but was freaking out when he realized that they had chocolate and strawberry too. He only wanted vanilla. He was also very upset to see that each bowl of ice cream had whipped cream and sprinkles. Hello texture issues!

Then it almost pushed him over the edge when he realized this is not a contest using a spoon, it was a contest where you have to smash your face into the bowl. His exact words were, "I don't like to get messy."

But he did it. He put his face in the ice cream and ate it. He didn't win, but we bought a little something as a prize for overcoming some major anxiety, phobias, texture aversions, and tons of screaming children. Success!

Today we got home and I prepped all the rest of my PTO paperwork. This is the end of summer. I am feeling officially done with Summer. School is in a little over a week and I am done. Let's get this Fall session started!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Future Plans...

I am going back to school people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Back when I was 21, I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Community Health Education from Texas A&M. I always wanted to go to A&M, but unfortunately, they didn't have a nursing program. So I graduated, got married, and started working as a Developmental Specialist with children birth to 3. Once I had children and we realized our oldest had Autism, I started phasing out working and eventually quit in 2009. 

I have loved every second of staying home with my boys. It has allowed me to be present, available, and active in the PTO at their school. My husband and I were discussing when I thought would be a good time to go back to work. Honestly, what am I going to do with that degree? I DON'T want to go back to ECI at all. 

Our local community college now offers a 2 year program to become an RN. Since that was my original tendency, I started thinking about returning to school. I have all of the pre-requisites except for 2 classes. Every 2 year program begins registration in January for beginning in the Fall. You can apply for the program while enrolled in the pre-reqs, but me beginning the program when our oldest is starting middle school is NOT what I wanted to. 

So, I am going to try to get into school this take Medical Terminology online. Then I would either take Microbiology in the Spring or Summer. I would then wait until January 14 to apply to the nursing program, and begin the 2 year program August 2014, to finish in 2016. My children will be ending 5th and 7th grades. I just want to give Caleb as much time as possible to adjust to middle school and me be as available as possible. It also gives Jansen a full year in middle school to get acclimated. 

I realize that the time between finishing my pre-reqs and starting the program would be a full year, but that is how I need to do it with my family. I am in no hurry to finish. My children will be 18 and 20 when I am 42....that is so very young once they graduate high school. Then what? What do I do then? I work. So as long as I am finished by the time they graduate...we are good! LOL.

I am actually very excited. New student...age 32!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Free printable calendar

Now that my PTO binders are in order, I realized that there is no calendar in there. I love to put things into my phone calendar, but my preference is good old fashioned pencil and paper calendars.

I didn't buy one. I don't like the ones that are out there for some reason.

In my frustration, I did a Google search. Check it out.....HERE

How cute are these? She does such an amazingly adorable job making free printable calendar sheets. Oh how I wish she had 2013 out already.

I printed those up (thank you Angela!), attached them together, and I now have a calendar (at least until December) for the school year.

Go check out her website and see all of her super creative artwork!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

School organization

All through the year last year, I had my mind set on keeping very organized. Too bad I didn't follow through with it. Oh sure, I had folders, binders, manila envelopes. But did I use them? Not really.

Basically, papers were filed into the back of my calendar, the front of my calendar, the middle of the binder, and soon, I just stuck everything in a wicker basket.  This is what made me go crazy. 

I was dreading going through everything to get last year's binder squared away and this year's started. Hello, procrastination...I will see you tomorrow!

Yesterday was devoted to tackling the paper mountain. Everything was spread out in heaps and piles on my dining room table. If you didn't know it was under there, I am sure you would never know that we even had a dining room table. Craziness. 

But in the end, I fought and I WON!!! Everything from last year fit neatly into one binder, one calendar, and 2 manila folders in the back of said binder. I organized each divider by month and each divider, listed the events that we completed. In each section were copies of receipts for vendors, a detailed overview of each activity, names of people we spoke to, and copies of letters, newsletters, and agendas. At the front, I put in a board member list, our bylaws, position responsibilities, and a school calendar. It was a thing of beauty.

Something even more beautiful....this year's folder! For the most part, it has empty dividers!! The front has the same: and updated member list, revised bylaws, position responsibilities, a school calendar. And the first section had all of our school supply information, including the pre-sale list and labels I made yesterday. 

It was very comforting to see everything, it's easy to read, and I know where to find everything. Here's to hoping I will do a better job of filing as we go this year! 

Now that school shopping is done, supplies are packed in backpacks, PTO schedules and paperwork is complete, I am ready to go. A good 90% of me is over Summer, and ready to cruise into Fall. Cooler weather please come to my house soon!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Welcome back to our teachers....

Honestly, I don't think that any of my school's teachers read my blog, so if you are a teacher at my school, and read this post.....try to act surprised next week when these get put in your teacher boxes...pretty please....ummm kay????!!!!

As PTO President, I feel strongly about supporting my school and teachers. That is a really difficult job to have. So we like to put together just a few little things throughout the year just to let the staff know how much we appreciate them.

Enter: Panda Pens and a quick Panda note....

I am hand writing a little note of encouragement to each of our staff members. :) It seems more personal than typing something out.

Next week, when we return from our Jellystone trip, I will head up to the school to hand these out, and to decorate our PTO bulletin board at the front of the school. School starts August 27th!!!!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back to school gifts...

Today, I took my boys to JCPenney to get their free haircuts (They are doing free haircuts for the entire month of August for kids in Kinder-6th grade), and forgot that I had a Bath and Body works gift card my friend gave me for my birthday in May.

I don't go to the mall a lot and Bath and Body Works is one of the reasons why. I want to buy EVERYTHING in there!!!! It is like a beautiful fairy land in there! Dang, can't a girl power walk past the store without becoming intoxicated by the most amazing smells ever made??

We walked around for a while, smelling the goodness, and me ooohing and aaahhing over every glittery candle holder, sparkly body mist, and shimmery lip gloss. I wanted everything. And then I saw it!!!!

PANDA Antibacterial holders!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SWOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is our school mascot, and I am all on board with school pride. For one more year I will have a Polk Panda, and then my oldest will become a Clute Cougar...and at that time, we will be all about Cougar Pride!

I had to buy these for the boys' homeroom teachers (whoever they are) for a little Back to School gift. Each of the boys rummaged through the antibacterial lotions until they found a scent they wanted and we we left the store feeling joyous. It wasn't until we were halfway home when I realized I didn't get myself one!!!!! Double dang!

I will be back soon to get my own personal one for sure. I am the PTO President after all...gotta represent!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mickey Mouse glow sticks

We have TONS of glow bracelets and necklaces left over from our classroom VALENTINE project.

You know your kids. Every time you go to an event (a sports game, the circus, a parade, etc), they always beg, plead, and cry for glow necklaces. 

Well, on this cruise, there are night-time deck parties for families to enjoy. Why pay for these there, when we can bring our own? I paid something like $8 for a canister of 100 of these glow necklaces for the Valentine project, we used them at both my boys' birthday parties, and we will use them on this cruise. 

Let's make them a little more Mickey-fied though!

Black cardstock, Mickey Mouse head, thread the necklace through :)

This will be one of the FISH EXTENDER gifts we put in our extender as a little surprise for our boys. They go nuts over anything that glows!!!!