Sunday, January 30, 2011

Birthday Party!

My family has a tradition. It started when I had my first birthday. My mother, at the time, was right in the middle of a stage in her life where she had become a cake decorator. For my birthday party she made me the cutest panda bear cake, and thus a tradition began. When I was pregnant with Lil, I went on an Ebay hunt for that same cake pan, and found it! So with each of my kids, I have made this same cake. Here are some pictures from Matthew's party.

The Birthday Boy in all his glory!
The cake in all IT'S glory- this was my fastest one yet... only 3 hours to decorate it! (That includes the 20 minutes to get Matthew down for his nap, and while trying to keep the kids entertained so they wouldn't make a mess of the house I cleaned up...)

When he got this hat as a gift, he got super excited. He thought it was a stuffed animal.

Then he found out the truth- what a bummer! Just a hat... (Mom loves it, though!)

Matthew loved the elephant rider he got from his grandparents.

He was totally mellow while being sung to.

See the chunk he took out of the toe? It's the most damage of all my kids. Lil and Lace just picked at the frosting...

After he had his fun with the cake, I handed him a cupcake. Notice the clean tray? He won't put the cupcake down.

"Oops! Dropped some cake- better get that. Wouldn't wanna waste it!"

Oh the joy of good ice cream (he won't let go of the chunk of cake in his left hand... pretty funny!)

Matthew poses with Uncle James. What good lookin' men! (Still holding that cake!)

Time to get cleaned up!

Happy Birthday Matthew! We love you!

Matthew turns 1!

On Friday, my little man turned 1 year old.

It has flown by so very fast!

Matthew was born Jan 28th a little after noon.

He was a monster baby (as my belly proved) weighing in at 9 lb. 2 oz.

He gave me all sorts of trouble for the first 5 months due to allergies.

He has (thankfully) outgrown his allergies, though he has been a bit of a sick baby this year.

Matthew is such a cute baby. He is pretty mellow. And he LOVES his Momma!

His sisters love him to pieces, and are quick to come to his rescue whenever he cries.

He is pretty sure he likes dad most of the time, and I would venture to guess that Dad likes him a lot too.

His smile is so contageous, and as he gets older he is quicker to laugh.

My only complaint is his lack of sleeping through the night...

but when I look at that handsome sleeping babe, how can I not just melt?

He has quite the sweet tooth and loves candy, more specifically suckers.

In true boy fashion he is a fan of guns...

He makes my life all sorts of fun, and is quick to find trouble.

His sweet personality really makes him a joy to have around.

I love my little man, and hope he knows how very blessed we feel to have him in our family. I love you Matthew!

Even if he does make me feel like I need this:

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Lesson Learned...

Lil has been a real teaching tool for me over the last few weeks. Which is true most of the time, really. Being my oldest child, I learn a lot through the trials and missteps of parenting. But this last week has been a real eye opener.

Lil's teacher is amazing. Let me start there. She had tested each kid in her class during the first two weeks of school on the High Frequency words that all 1st graders are expected to know. Then, she would keep track of the one's that the kids hadn't spelled right, and turned those into their spelling words. Lilia is a fantastic reader. She is one smart cookie- though, we did notice that even though she can read all the High Frequency words, she couldn't spell them all. For example, she can read "who" but when asked to spell it, she would say, "H-O-O." So the spelling homework was 5 words that belonged in the same family (ie. cat, fat, hat) and the first 5 words she couldn't spell from the HF list. When she passed them off on her spelling test, the next week would be another 5 "family" words, and the next 5 words from the HF list. At the beginning of the school year it became obvious that her homework was too easy. She was breezing through her whole week's homework in a day, and wasn't the slightest bit challenged by her spelling. Even though she had spelled them wrong, she needed only to look at them, and be told once for her to spell them right. Her first week of spelling homework, the words were:


These were way too easy for her. So I talked to her teacher. Turns out there were two other kids in class who were bored as well! So after some thought on how to handle it, her teacher set Lil and the other two kids up with 2nd grade spelling words. This was a program that one of the second grade teachers used, and the words were not the High Frequency words. Just words found at the level Lil had tested at (Level K). The first week of 2nd grade spelling, her words were:


Talk about a difference! Lil went from getting 100% on her spelling to 30% that first week. It became apparent to me that Lil would be able to handle these harder words, but not without a little extra attention being spent on them. Soooo- I talked to my cousin (A super fab school teacher) and I went back through my childhood to some of the techniques I was taught, and came up with extra spelling assignments that would help her remember and spell her words. Though the new assignments were fun (as fun as homework can be) they also took time. Lil went from spending about 10 minutes a day doing homework, to nearly an hour (though part of this could be because she would take her time and let her attention wander). Instead of spelling the words 3 times a week (like her homework insisted) I had her spelling them 6-9 times a week. MY only concern was this: I worried when she moved to 2nd grade spelling that by skipping past all those 1st grade words on the HF list, that she would never understand spelling because she had skipped over the more basic spelling lessons. Even if they are easy and require very little brain power from my braniac kid, I think it is still important to learn those lessons. Either way, she began passing her tests. Eventually (like 7 weeks later), Lilia was moved up to the next level's spelling as she had passed all the previous level's tests. Level L spelling was (as expected) harder than Level K, and it began to wear on Lil. And though she didn't mind the extra work when it paid off with passed spelling tests, it was now too much for her. Not only was she having a harder time with the homework, but she was spending an hour a day doing her spelling and was not passing the test.

Finally- she snapped. She sat at the table, in tears, because she hated her homework, and she didn't want to do it, and "what's the point, I am not going to pass my test, anyway..." I got upset and left the room. As I was pacing in my bedroom I kept thinking how maybe I should talk to her teacher, but darn it! I didn't want Lil to get behind the other two kids doing the second grade spelling! ... ... ....

Ohhhhhhhh crap. I am an AWFUL mom! I am pushing Lil too hard! And why? Because I wanted her to be the best. I didn't want the other kids to be ahead of her... I didn't matter to my mind that Lil was wearing down. It didn't matter that she was unhappy. She HAD to keep up! They say the first step in fixing a problem was realizing there IS a problem. I was GONNA fix this. NOW.

I instantly dropped to my knees and said a prayer. Then I talked to Joe. Got his opinion on how to fix the problem, and after talking with him I wrote her teacher a letter. Than I deleted the letter, and ended up talking to her teacher on the phone. I explained how Lil was doing too much. (The teacher had said at the beginning of the year that she only expects the kids to do 40 minutes of homework a day and 20 minutes of that should be the required reading that the whole school participates in) I explained how she was doing an hour of homework, plus the 20 minutes reading. I then went on to tell her how stressful it has made my life, and how frustrated Lil is with homework and spelling tests. She completely agreed that Lilia is too young to hate her homework so much, and that she was spending too much time doing something that wasn't reaping any rewards... After a nice talk she presented us with a solution that was EXACTLY what Joe and I had come up with, and we couldn't be more thrilled.

The plan is basically, that Lil will no longer do the 2nd grade spelling program, but she will not be moved back to the 1st grade program either. She will be somewhere in between. Instead of having 5 "family words" (sit, hit, pit...) she will have all 10 words from the high frequency list. Instead of just the 1st grade list, she has now been tested on the second grade list. This way she will get a solid foundation to build on. Her words this week:


MUCH better. And lesson learned.

The lesson I learned here?

I need to be more aware of what is best for my daughter vs. what I WANT for her.

Is there a lesson for anyone else to learn?

If we don't stand up for our children, who else will? If our kids are not challenged enough, or are too challenged, we need to be willing to talk to the teacher. And I did both. In the same year. Ugh! But at least Lil is where she needs to be. And what do ya know, she likes her homework again!

Friday, January 21, 2011

What a milestone!

It thrills me to no end, and yet breaks my heart to say that Matthew is officially a walkin' baby! Last weekend he decided to take a couple steps, and I tell ya, he has been addicted ever since! In just short of a week he went from a couple steps at a time to preferring to walk from "Point A" to "Point B." Yesterday he mastered standing up without any assistance, and today he mastered the ability to bend down and pick something up off the ground without falling!

The biggest difference between Matthew and his sisters is that he is so DRIVEN to walk. His sisters were in no hurry, and took plenty of time to get up the courage to walk. Matthew, on the other hand, from the second he took that first few steps his eyes lit up and he got so excited. With the girls, I would try to stand them up and they would "melt" and slowly sit down. Matthew would get so excited he would start "dancing" and would fall over because he couldn't keep his legs still enough to hold him up! He is such a cutie! SEE?

Friday, January 7, 2011


As is common for me every few months, I feel the need to write down some of the cute things my kids say. I don't ever want to forget how cute they are at this age. So without further ado:


Matthew has learned to boogy down. It's so DARN CUTE watching him dance along to any music. Unlike my daughters, who are notorious booty shakers, Matthew is a shimmy-er... He shakes his little shoulders like it's nobody's business!

He doesn't say much, and therefore Matt-ism's are not very plentiful. But he sure is a cutie!


Oh the funny things this girl says! Mostly just mispronunciations like:

Chock-lik (chocolate)
Lervis (nervous)
Bravey (gravy)

But occasionally I get a good story out of her.

Today she came up to me and told me it as Halloween! She was in her costume and ready for trick or treating fun. But she was sure to tell me we had to go trick or treating before dark because "the ghosts and bats will come out and scare me." I asked her how and she said, "The ghosts will say 'Oooo!' And the bats will say... um... 'BATS!' Yeah- bats say, 'BATS!'"

Yesterday Lilia brought how a bunch of silly bandz from school. (Click here to see what Silly Bandz are) They were sports silly bandz and so she had one of a guy playing football, a guy playing golf, etc. One of them was a soccer player. Lacey brought me all the different bandz and asked me what each one was. When she showed me the soccer player I said, "that's soccer." She looked at me confused and said, "He eats a sucker?"

Me: No honey, he is playing SOCCER
Lacey: He is eating a sucker?
Me: No- the game he is playing is soccer- not sucker, SOCCER. suck, soc, suck, soc... see the difference?
Lacey: (after a bit of thought) Okay. Soccer.
Me: Yeah!
Lacey: Mom, can I go eat a soccer, right now!?
Me: {sigh}


Lilia loves first grade. She especially love eating lunch at school. She came home the other day and told me all about her lunch.

"Mom- at school the have the most AMAZING nachos! I love them! The cheese on top is like a mixture of cheese, milk, and a little bit of ice cream! YUMMY!"

This last week as I was driving her to gymnastics Lil was telling me about her day. She was telling me how the playground was really icy, and they had to be careful at recess. She said, "So I almost slipped and fell at recess, but GOOD HEAVENS I didn't! " (I am assuming she meant "thank goodness")

Lil was telling me on that same drive about how her class has earned a party. And how "this party is gonna be great because its a popcorn and shoelace party!"

Me: A shoelace party?
Lil: Yeah! Orange Shoelaces.
Me: Orange Shoelaces?
Lil: Yeah! It's my teachers favorite drink! It has oranges, and milk, and ice, and sugar...
Me: Huh? OH! Orange JULIUS'
Lil: Yeah- Orange Shoelaces! It's gonna be great!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's 2011 already?

This year I actually talked to Joe about making a resolution. Oddly enough, we were both on the same page! We both felt the need to work on the same thing. Even more odd? Seems EVERYONE else feels the same way. I swear, I am being hit left, right and center by MANY people with the same resolution as me. (Is the suspense killing you yet? Probably not since the chances are good that it's your resolution too...)

The #1 Resolution for the new year:

Charity. I admire those who are naturally charitable. To an extent I believe most people are (myself included). BUT- I feel like I should be doing more. A couple thoughts on this.

I was reading quotes the other day and came across one that struck me just right. Keeping in mind that I am paraphrasing here, it said:

It's not Charity to give a hungry dog a bone. Charity is sharing your bone when you are as hungry as the dog.

What a fantastic way of putting it... I want to focus on giving of myself until I can FEEL the pinch.

On a much funnier note, I was tuning out Glenn Beck the other night (Joe was watching), and he too has resolved to be more charitable... his motto for the year:

"To the government: I've upped my charity, now up yours!"


A couple other things I wanna work on?

-Appreciating my children when they are awake. (Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate them- but I wish away half my day just WAITING for naptime... I don't wanna be like that anymore!)

-Eat healthier and start running.

-FHE. Gotta be better about that. My kids are getting old enough to notice...

How about you? Any plans for 2011?