Thursday, May 30, 2013

Before May Gets Away

To say this month has been a whirlwind is, well, accurate. (I was going to come up with some witty comparison there, but you see, this whirlwind may have gotten the best of me.)

I need to record a few highlights of this month before we move into June and full-on Summer recklessness and then into July and Jay's upcoming 3rd Birthday! Ahhh!

1. May 9th BOTH kids got haircuts. Yes, as in Lizzy got her first little haircut. Just a trim straight across the back.

I don't have any pics of the haircut in progress as we were there for an appointment for Jay and I just held Lizzy and Mrs. Brandi snip, snip, snipped. But here is the after.

Ta-Dah! We're working our way to an all-one-length bob.

2. Jay is saying the craziest stuff. "You kidding me." "That's Bidiculous, Mom." and if you say "Jay, we're not doing that" He always says "Yes I'm Am.". He also told me yesterday that he was "just chillin'".

3. We joined our brand-new and very local Lifetime Fitness last week. So far its working best if we go in the morning and kids go to the playroom while I work out until they page me to come get my screaming velcro baby for 20 minutes then we come home for morning snack, Lizzy's morning nap, have lunch then go back later for a couple of hours at the pool before coming home and getting a bath and both down for naps while mom cooks dinner. Does that make you tired to read it? It made me tired just to type it.

The good news is that both kids love going to the pool, Jay really enjoys the playroom and hopefully Lizzy will calm down eventually and this is likely good for her.

4. I know I have reported that little Lizzy is a tad on the picky side...but I thought I'd share with you what she looks like after enjoying a peanut butter sandwich....

When she likes food, she likes it ALOT.but especially on her face and in her hair.

5. It's also important to note that Lizzy now smells like sunshine, sunscreen and peanut butter all the time. It's delightful. Really. Just as good as newborn baby smell. So if you see us, feel free to sniff her sweet sun-kissed pb-smeared head.

6. Jay turns 3 in 6 weeks. He's started doing many things more independently--going potty (good thing), unlocking the gate at the top of the stairs and walking down by himself (bad thing). So, there's that. He's also playing better with cousins and buddies which is a mega-relief for me.

7. Happy Summer y'all!! Look out June here we come!!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Wests this Week

It's been an unusual week for us, but not much exciting to report.

Lots of cooking and eating. Playing and keeping up with things around the house.

Just as I left to go get Jay from his last day of school last week, we got the unfortunate news that Joseph's grandmother passed away. It was a month to-the-day since my own grandmother's funeral.

So, we've been dealing that all that comes with a loss in the family while living our daily lives with our little ones.

I feel like I've heard dozens of messages lately telling me about the importance of the investment of TIME with your children. So, that is what we've been doing.

Joseph built this amazing swing...which has helped us all.

I've cooked, baked and fed us all into a comfortable place.

Lizzy went with us to Nanny's funeral on Thursday while Jay played at a friend's house. She has officially become a velcro baby as she would not go to ANYONE but me ALL day. My arm finally recovered sometime on Saturday. We then went to a buddies' birthday party and she did it again.

I believe we're starting to have "Sunday dinner" at our house. At least we did yesterday and plan to again this week. At first it will help us all to heal, then (hopefully) it will be a place of comfort and good memories for our children.

My mom always cooked on Sundays growing up (really, she cooked 2-3 meals a day, every day) and whomever wanted to come eat could. There was always a plate for you if you wanted to "fix" one. It just seemed normal to me as a child then when I was a teenager I looked forward to the time I could spend with my brothers and their families, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and friends.

It wasn't "Norman Rockwell"--we didn't even all eat at once, but it was consistently a time to come together, rest, eat and spend some time with loved ones. So, yesterday I cooked. Chicken and dressing, Squash Casserole, Macaroni and Cheese, Slaw, rolls, tea and peach cobbler. ("Yellow food" as Cathy would say)

Here's hoping for a great week and nothing out-of-the-ordinary for this crew.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Planning for Summer 2013

I've just started trying to "plan" for this summer. Jay's learned so much at school this year and has new skill sets--it just recently occurred to me that maybe I should have some goals for us to work toward this summer instead of just doing whatever comes to mind.

The toughest part seems to be how to incorporate some structure but also include Lizzy since she does not yet have some of the skills that come with completing your 1st year of preschool.

Instead of learning scripture (as in verses), I thought it might be best to just work on a few Bible stories. I've prayed about it and think we'll continue to work on Creation (as he's already learned about it in school), Noah's Ark (learning about obedience and listening to God), and the Good Samaritan (learning about helping, mercy and awareness of others).

I'm not totally sure how much or how involved our "lessons" will be. I'm going to start by reading these stories often from our different kid's Bibles, and just keeping these stories in my thoughts so when teaching opportunities arise we can talk about them.

I went to Hobby Lobby while Jay was at his last day of school and picked up some new art supplies, animal stamps and some things Lizzy can begin to do with us. (I've also been picking up more summer stuff along the way--bubbles, balls, sidewalk chalk, etc. just for fun)

Jay asks to make something almost every day so I hope to come up with some (or google some) crafts that will incorporate our stories we're working on this summer.

I also hope to help him with writing and pencil grasp this summer and maybe we can get a few letters mastered over the next 12 weeks.

This is one of those areas where I'm just trying to figure it out as I go....wait, I think I do that with everything....anyway, I've never taught children anything but swimming lessons (which Jay talks about daily and says "I don't want to go"-awesome.) so, I'll be happy to learn from others who have "been there done that" with their little ones and listening to Jay to guide us.

Of course, list-maker that I am I've made notes in my calendar with 3 or 4 fun things for us to try to work in each month over the summer like catching lightning bugs, camping out, baseball games and more. Going to Target for aisle wandering is not on the list in an effort to prevent that from happening too often.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

1st Last Day of Preschool

Today was Jay's (1st) Last day of Preschool

here he is on the 1st Day of Preschool
He has learned so much this year. Shapes, colors, counting, sharing, inside voice, prayers, manners and more and more.

He's grown physically and matured emotionally and spiritually.

It's hard to believe this school year has drawn to a close, it seems to have gone by so fast.

We're so grateful to the staff and teachers at our preschool. They are a wonderful team of leaders and examples for these little people and we're so lucky to have found this program.

Thank you Mrs. Beth for being an awesome 1st teacher! Jay will have lots of teachers over the years I can only hope they touch his heart and hold his hand the way you have this year!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day weekend

We had a lovely low-key Mother's Day around here. Daddy and Jay picked up breakfast while I got ready for church. The kids and I went to church, Daddio did his yard work, we ate lunch at home, kids napped and I caught up on laundry and began straightening out my closet.

(We moved in 8ish months ago and I just literally threw clothing and like items in our closet and randomly in dressers and have refused to address the situation until now. I've bought new socks 3 times since and could only find three odd socks this week, so to say that it was time for action is the understatement of the year.)

We did manage to play outside a bit. Lizzy was finishing her nap and Jay and I played...well, it turned into Daddio and I trying to teach Jay some ball games, which turned into Daddio and I trying to kick one of those giant bouncy balls as high and far as we could. Jay was tinkering with toys and play lawn tools, neither parent was injured all is well.

In other "news" Jay is on a taco-kick of epic proportions. I think we are on day 4 or 5 of dinner...he's had a few sandwiches at lunch but only after he's convinced that a taco isn't a logical choice.

"Son, we're at the Zoo and Mommy can't carry tacos in the diaper bag. They'll break. Eat your sandwich."

(I mean, I'm sure I could tote tacos around all over town, but we must draw the line somewhere. For now.)

Speaking of the zoo....I'm losing ground here. Until now, I've sort of been in control of our agenda, how long we stay, etc. um, that's basically over.

We wandered and wandered this time and I as attempted to get nearer the exits, I'll be darned if Jay didn't discover more, and more and MORE to do. So, although we live about 10 minutes from the zoo, I believe our trips will be no less than 4 hours from now on. But, they are a fun 4 hours, so I'm not complaining! Pack a snack, Liz.

So, that was our Mother's Day weekend. I'd love to share a pic of shiny, happy people, but at this stage of life busting out the camera for a family pic causes my people to become not exactly shiny and less than happy.

Here's a self pic from the train at the zoo instead! Lizzy can now say "choooo-choooooo"!

P.S. as for our mothers--I mailed Mimi a gift and Dede and I exchanged gifts on Thursday as she opted for a trip to the casino for Mother's Day. Just so we don't look like non-mom-loving heathens......

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Preschool Pictures and HOME

Here's Jay's 1st class photo!'s mine!

(I'm 2nd from the right, next to Heidi giving the wink!)

I just love both of these pictures so much. I remember quite a few things from preschool.

I remember loving it and my friends. One friend in this picture--Heidi Hooberry (i know, she had the best name ever. She's married now, but I bet lots of folks still use her maiden name.) and I remained friends for years and years into middle school and I believe were friends for a year or maybe 2 when this photo was taken. We met at preschool and it just amazes me to think that Jay will still know some (perhaps one or two or ALL) of these boys for years to come.

I've always said I'm a native Nashvillian (which I am) but just recently it occurred to me that while I am not "from here" my children are--and will be--"from here". Where we are now will be their home, this will be the area they return to after going out to explore their own worlds, this will be where they fondly remember holidays, schoolmates, dates and family.

One day they'll drive down this very street where we live now and perhaps tell their own family, "That's the house where I grew up..."

Maybe I'll be with them-or maybe I won't. But I pray that the feeling they have of Home is warm and comforting when the world is not. I pray they will always smile-inside and out-when they remember this house, these walls and our lives here.

I sometimes think I want a "bigger blog" or for more folks to "follow" our story, but what I'm realizing is that by living our story and making our memories and filling my kids with every ounce of goodness and warmth and happiness I have I'm giving them the introduction to their own stories...their backgrounds that will shape who they are, color their own family memories, holidays and moments they'll hold in their hearts.

Its a big (or as Jay would say-- "veryhugegiant") job. I do the best I can. Some days are victories and sometimes I need a do-over. I'm just so thankful that I (we--me and Daddio) get to do it.

I'm also so thankful for Jay's teacher--his very first one--and all that she has taught Jay this year. It truly amazes me that preschool teachers can wrangle half-a-dozen 2 year olds and not only teach lessons about numbers, shapes and colors but teach them that they are beautiful and special and how to love others and live as little people in this great big world outside of their homes.

What a great journey we're all on--so much learning and discovery happening all around! I'm so thankful for all that I continue to learn and pray I'm filling my two kiddos with the right things and helping to shape their stories into all that they want them to be., this little post to share preschool pics turned into something more than I thought it would....thanks for "listening"! Maybe I'm not the only one who remembers some of the lessons my first teachers taught and am working to pass them on everyday...

Friday, May 3, 2013

Play Day 2013 {and pigtails}

Today was Play Day at preschool. (the equivalent of Field Day for big kids) At some point today it is expected to rain...which it has not most of the activities were inside.

We jumped, played in the gym, did sidewalk chalk, bubbles, decorated cookies, got temporary tattoos, and ate snow cones.

And now for the phone pics!!

...and sweet Lizzy's still here--growing and changing everyday in every way! Her especially her hair!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Preschool Program 2013

I couldn't be more proud of Jay after his Preschool Program.

I am also SUPER proud of his teachers. The fact that they can get 30ish 2-to-3-year-olds to perform in front of 150 people absolutely amazes me.

A few highlights from this stage proud mom--

Jay's class (6 boys) was the first to enter the "stage". Jay was 4th  in line and looks out to the bleachers full of families and says. "Hey!" smiling and waving. It was so funny because no one else acknowledged our presence whatsoever.

Jay knew all of the songs (I think they did 10) and paid attention most of the time. There were times when you could see his mind wander (and his eyes and sometimes hands) but for the most part he did what he had been instructed to do.

I am just glad he didn't cry or protest and only picked his nose once a little. I am thrilled that he actually participated. Overjoyed that he did it with a smile on his face!!

And now, for family and friends who wish they were there..I present you with pics and videos from the morning!!!

Yall. Jay was super cute and I videoed with my camera with Lizzy in my lap. So, he's super cute. That's Mrs.  Beth, his teacher there beside the group and you are only seeing about 1/3 of the whole group. There were about 40 kids. Enjoy. Sorry for the motion sickness.

Baking, sharing, giving, receiving

As most every other typical two year old in the history of the world, Jay's  been a tad precocious lately and challenging many of the things I thought I knew about this parenting thing.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Daddio and I have changed our approach in many ways, changed our thinking and our actions in hopes of maintaining some clear boundaries while keeping Jay from full-blown meltdowns every five minutes and talking ugly "between the buoys" as they say.

One of the areas we're struggling with is sharing. With the start of preschool and new baby sister, most of the ways we've addressed sharing is "Don't take things away", "give her that back", etc.

So, after months of struggle in this area (some weeks more than others, like everything, it happens in phases) I've started trying to teach sharing, rather than correcting mistakes. And, since I am most comfortable in the kitchen, we'll start here.

Jay gets a big wooden spoon and a bowl of bananas to mash. I measure and together we mix a batch of banana bread.

We prepare four small pans and bake them up and I wrap them--for sharing.

Our first batch we shared with a family that is friends with our family who lost someone this week. Jay overheard me on the phone saying "that's so sad" ( this was the morning of our first banana bread day, we'd just taken it out of the oven) he asked "who's sad?" So I got off of the phone and told him who was sad, but not why, and he said "we take her some and make her happy?!?" By the way he was smiling, I knew something was clicking.

As we were baking today's batch, I asked Jay who we should share his bread with. He was stacking the little pans and as he laid them out he named teachers at his school. Great! So, batch #2 will be delivered tomorrow.

The goal is that he can actively learn sharing and giving and happiness, rather than simply be corrected a for taking a toy for the gazillionth time.I hope we can continue this project and similar ways of actively learning to share rather than "no, No, NO" and "don't, stop, quit".

So, if you know us and we randomly show up on your doorstep bearing baked goods, I hope you enjoy them and know that I'm grateful for your gratitude as we experiment with life lessons...and recipes.

And if you're looking for a GOOD go-to banana bread recipe- look no further. This one is great and not too complicated to manage with a 2 year old in the kitchen-which is saying a LOT. We added chocolate chips today so, its a great Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe too! Here is the link to lots of banana bread variations that look awesome, too!

Oh and today, we also baked a big loaf to keep at our house. Lessons learned for a happy marriage.