Saturday, February 28, 2009

Setting Up The Book Fair

I absolutely could not have done this without so much help. My friends Melanie and Jeri offered to jump in and help which is great considering they don't even have kids at our school (and even more great because Jeri is a book fair diva when it comes to setting up and running!). Mel spent pratically the entire 2 hours setting up and organizing the poster display (so many more posters than I ever considered there would be so this was no small task!) while Jeri and three others helped me set up the tables.

This was no small job and I am so thankful for the help.

Check it out:
We went from this:

To this:

In a mere two hours. :) Bring it on - we're ready!

We found a Clifford costume in one of the boxes so we convinced Ingrid, my co-chair, to put it on. Pretty funny! :)

So if anyone is looking for me next week - you'll know where to find me. :) Here's hoping for a wildly successful book fair!

Skate Away

This morning I took the kids over to our one and only roller skating rink to take part in Tot Lessons. This is a beginner class for kids aged 3-7. It's a drop-in class so we can go when we want and not feel pressured. Which is good because I'm not really sure how the kids feel about going again. Well - I do at this very moment because they are both saying they want to go back but several times during the 45 minute lesson they both voiced unhappiness and frustration marked with pointed "I'm never doing this again!" feelings.

I was out on the floor as well but definitely not in skates. I'd hate to think what one fall to the floor would do to my back and besides, it was much easier to steady both kids, who were lunging for me and hanging on me, with both feet firmly on the ground. Let's just say that between setting up the book fair last night and roller skating this morning my back is hating me. Ugh.

When we first got there, both kids were so excited they could barely contain themselves and there were other families that we knew so we all enjoyed seeing familiar faces. We got the skates on and off they went! The instructor came over and gave them some one on one time and Kaylen took to it like a duck to water (which is no surprise - she loves her princess skates and skates around the house often). Kelton was a bit slower and more reserved but he did what was asked of him as well.

Then the class started and Kelton ran hot and cold on whether he would do it or not. He left, then came back, then left. Kaylen stuck with it but they lost her excitement for it when he wanted everyone to learn to skate backwards. I have to agree a bit with her - it is a lot to ask of children who are barely able to *walk* backwards without falling all over themselves. :)

She had a few moments of meltdown panic but we were in the homestretch. A game of Hokey Pokey and two free skate songs and we were done. I was breathing a sigh of relief because my back was killing me and I was tired of trying to keep the kids engaged.

And then, wouldn't you know it, came the phrase "THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!" from Kelton. I spun on my heels and said "What?" with a confused look in my eyes. He responded that he had had a great time and that he wants to come back next week. "Me, too!" said Kaylen as she jumped up and down.


"You do?" I asked


Then Kelton said something that made me laugh "Mom...I think I was judging a book by the cover again. I need to give it a chance."

Dang I love that boy. :)

And yes - she is wearing pants! (This is two days in a row for pants!!! WAHOO!) :) I told her that pants would provide more padding if she fell and she didn't even question me. Kelton opted for sweats because they are fluffier than jeans so he'd have more padding as well. :)

Friday, February 27, 2009


Tonight while Kelton was brushing his teeth he said "I wish these pajamas didn't have this tag. It bugs me."

So I walked up behind him and yanked the tag out.

"You are so strong, Mom!" said a clearly impressed little boy.

I said, "Yes I am." and continued on my way into another room.

When I walked back by the bathroom I heard Kelton talking to himself. He said:

"Note to self: Mom can beat me up."

:) :) :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

I was just now talking on the phone with my dad while the kids are out playing in the yard (or shall we just call it what it is: the mud field). And then...a knock on the door.

I ask my dad to hold on a second and I answer it to find a woman standing there with the screen door open (which personally I find wrong. I have a screen door for a reason. Don't open it! If I want you to gain access to my house, I will open it and invite you in.). The woman looks me up and down and then says, "Is Dawson here?"

I look perplexed and say "I'm sorry but you have the wrong house. There is no Dawson here." (and just why am *I* sorry?)

And here is where it gets good: She gets huffy with me! Seriously. She acts all put out, turns on her high heels and walks away as she mutters under her breath.

Like it's MY fault she has the wrong house???


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Page

Tonight, a little more than two months after I received it for my birthday, I finally got around to uninstalling my Photoshop Elements 4 program (it has never worked properly on Vista) and installing Photoshop Elements 7. It took more than an hour to accomplish this task. For some reason, the uninstall took forever!

The new format of PSE is so completely different! Eeeeeek! It took me a bit to figure out the basics but I did manage to create a page. I'm not 100% crazy about it but at least I did a page, right? To be fair, I did see a page very much like this in a magazine today. Not exactly like, of course, but I did try to mimic it. Not sure it worked for me but hey - at least it's something. I seem to have my own style though I'd be hard pressed to tell you what it is...."ridiculously simple" comes to mind but you know, it's a style that works for me. :)
Still - you gotta give me credit for trying something new. :)

credit: Dani Mogstadt's kit "Don't Rain on My Parade"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Will Not Eat Green Eggs and Ham...

...I will not eat them Sam I am.

Well - he wouldn't eat the green eggs but I hear he made short work of the ham. :)

Today was Dr. Seuss Breakfast: Green Eggs and Ham at Kelton's school. It's an annual event for first graders and their parents in our school district. While parents are invited and encouraged to attend, younger siblings are not and since Grandma wasn't available to stay with Kaylen we decided that Dakota would join Kelton. I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend everything but because of school and work, Dakota doesn't. Kelton really wanted to share the experience with her since he had a choice. I was ok with that - but I admit to wanting to go just the same. :)

Since I wasn't there, I don't have a first hand account. I do, however, have photos. After the event was over Dakota drove over to my Moms Club meeting and handed off the camera (Thanks, honey!) and told me all about it. It sounds like it was fun.

The Aqua Doodle

Yesterday the donation center truck was by and among all the things they hauled away was the Aqua Doodle. Can I be honest here and tell you that a little piece of me died as the truck drove away?

Yes, I took the toy out of the house.
Yes, I put it out and marked it for pick up.
No, the kids don't know it's gone but then, they haven't really played with it in a long while now.
Yes, we needed the space for all the new games and toys they have recently been given.
Yes, I know it was time to let it go.

And yet......

Oh and yet.

I just want to cry every time I send away pieces of their baby and toddlerhood. We have had that Aqua Doodle since Kelton was about 18 months old. It's gone through two toddlers scribbling on it. It's been fun but lately it has only collected dust.

It was time.

And still....

Monday, February 23, 2009

Working the Homework

I'm sure this is old news for many of you but just the same, I'll recap:

Kelton has been swimming in homework. Drowning, actually.

It has grown over the months to be intense with 20 minutes mandatory reading a day and what was up to an hour of writing (because he does need extra support for penmanship but an hour? Overkill - and making us both miserable.). I have all but cut out the writing part and instead we are focusing for about 15 minutes a day on the correct (and neat) letter formation. God bless his little heart but man did he have awful penmanship. His imagination for stories is outstanding but trying to figure out what he wrote? Forget it!

He's doing so much better now but it hasn't been without a struggle and price. It was really doing a number on the time he and I spent together - not to mention impacting family time for Kaylen as well. It got pretty ugly so I emailed his teacher and she revised the writing plan for him....only it increased his writing time. So - I made the decision to go about it in a more productive way; using less time and the basics of writing that I learned as a child. None of this fancy D'Nealian stuff which is great and all but when you don't have a handle on the basic letter shapes in a readable format, it just adds to the chaos. (D'Nealian is the "adopted" style of our school district. as well as many others in the country.)

And it's working. We have cut homework down from two hours a day (which was insane and waaaaaay too much!) to 20 minutes in the morning and 15 in the evening. We are much happier.

At least - until Friday's homework packet came home.


Nine pages of writing (and I'm taking "writing" not just complete the word or circle the word) and four pages of math. That, my friends, is THIRTEEN pages of homework.


And more insane? It took three hours to accomplish. That's right - half a school day to do the weekend homework. Even if that homework was broken down over 7 days that would have been roughly 25 minutes a day. Over 5 days would have been approx. 35 minutes a day. Plus the 20 minutes of reading and 15 minutes of writing.

It doesn't take a math major to know this is too much for a 6 year old. And I'm not going to lie - way too much for me.

I was less than happy. Waaaaay less than happy. I wrote a message on a post it note and stuck it on the top paper in his homework file that went back to school today. The note said "This took 3 hours to complete. It is too much!" (Passive-aggressive, much? Yes, thanks for asking.)

This afternoon when Kelton arrived home he presented me with a post-it note from his teacher. It said:

"Kelton should've gotten only one handwriting/reading page instead of six. The "Wonder Stories" were stapled to his reading page by accident. I apologize for the inconvenience. Mrs. T"

That's right people. Remind me to thank the teacher's aide next time I see her. Those 6 pages are what took the most amount of time to do and, hands down, caused the most frustration for all of us.

I know it was just a mistake and yet - it doesn't make it feel any better. It doesn't give us back the time. It doesn't erase the frustration. It doesn't give us back the sunny early part of the day when we could have been out and about playing or going for a bike ride. It doesn't give us back the family time we missed and it doesn't give Kaylen back time when she wasn't hushed and pushed from the room so that we could get the homework done.

Inconvenience? Yeah - I'll say. :(

On the up side, Kelton is really hoping this has earned him a few weeks of no writing assignments. I didn't want to dash his hope because it's exactly what I am hoping for as well. It seems like we earned it. :)

The Book Fair Display Case

Look what I did this morning?!?! I am oh so very proud of myself.

The walls aren't really pink.....I don't know why it comes off that way. But still - it's a sight to behond, isn't it? :)

I'll take that gold star now, please. :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Locked In

This morning I sent the kids to the bathroom to brush their teeth while I washed the breakfast dishes. I heard chattering going on but didn't really pay much mind until I heard something that caught my attention. I couldn't even tell you what is was right now but it was enough to make me shut off the water and ask "Does Kaylen need something?"

I heard back "Kaylen is locked in the bathroom." from Kelton.

And then I heard what must have been what I heard to start with.....quiet crying which hinged on the verge of growing louder.


I went to the bathroom door and asked her to try to unlock the handle. The crying became hysterical. "I can't!" she sobbed.

I went to find the screw driver which I knew could pop open the door. But I am out of practice. When Kelton was three I did monthly unlock drills on the bathroom door. When he was four and locked Kaylen in my bedroom, I realized I should have practiced on my bedroom door, too.

Today I realized that if you don't practice picking locks, you lose your skill. Use it or lose it. Bummer.

The crying continued with little fingers poking out from under the door. I held her tiny fingers for a couple of seconds and then tried to get her to calm down. Finally...finally she grew quiet enough that she could hear me. I had her look at the handle and then told her to move the circle with the line it in so it went straight across. A couple tries later she got it and the door opened.

While I comforted Kaylen I was plotting my revenge deciding what discipline road I would take.

I decided to have Kelton do a few chores (because I had wasted time when I could have been doing things to get Kaylen free) and then he had to play whatever games Kaylen wanted to play until it was time for the bus (I have declared Friday morning "homework free" time which means it's his one free morning to do what he wants before school. It's a cherished treat for him so it was a big deal to lose it.). They played Cooties and the new Sorry game (Kaylen got to go first for each game - it was only fair - which was really hard for Mr. I'm Always First Because I Say So.) and then it was time for the bus. Kaylen became all misty and said "But he hasn't played ballerina yet!"

I was not quite over being ticked off at him so I calmly said "It's time for school now but when he gets home tonight he *will* play ballerina with you." That was met with groans galore from the lock-happy boy child. I just looked at him and said "Remember this next time you feel like locking your sister in a room."

And yes, he had to play ballerina with her. But because she is much nicer than me, she didn't make him wear a ballet outfit.* :)

*Kidding....kind of.

Bingo Update

At last look, the following was my criteria for a successful event:

Will there be enough pizza?
Will the popcorn machine actually make popcorn?
Will the pizza arrive on time and still be hot when it's served? Will we sell enough food and bingo cards to at least break even?

I am happy to report that the answer to all is YES YES YES and YES!!!

We had plenty (as in too much) pizza but that's ok. We sold off the remaining intact pizzas for $5 each and sold each and every one.

The popcorn maker worked well and much popcorn was enjoyed by the masses. The machine was borrowed because the one our school used to have *ahem* disappeared when the principal retired and everyone from the old PTO left last year. And, ironically enough, the PTO account was all but emptied out about that time as well. But I'm not's just the kids who suffer. Grrrr.


The pizza was indeed still hot and people seemed quite happy.

And we did more than break even. After expenses we walked away with a profit of approx. $340 which more than covers the cost of the brand new popcorn machine we are purchasing for the school.

Everyone seemed to have a really good time and, wouldn't you know it, my son won one of the Bingo games. I missed seeing it but I heard it was a three person bingo and they did a "number off" (calling out one more number and whoever had that number on their card won) and he walked away with the prize. Not a bad one either - an electronic version of "Sorry". He also won a book bag by being the only first grader with a certain number on his card.

Kaylen didn't win anything and her complete and absolute breakdown at the end of the evening proved that point. Poor girl - she has my luck. Which is no luck. Kelton, however, is one of the luckiest people I've ever met.

We, as a PTO, learned a great deal from our first Bingo Night and will be able to implement a few new things in May when we do a Bingo for Books night.

First things first though - the Book Fair starts in just a week. There is much to do between then and now and so, so, so much to do the week of. It's going to busy....but then, what else is new? :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009


It's PTO Bingo Night at school. Weeks in the planning all come down to the next few hours. Will there be enough pizza? Will the popcorn machine actually make popcorn? Will the pizza arrive on time and still be hot when it's served? Will we sell enough food and bingo cards to at least break even? I think we are past hoping for a profit on this (fund raising? What's that? *sigh*) and focusing on just breaking even.

And the big question: Will there be a big turn out?

Dakota is coming home tonight to take the kids so I can help with all that needs to be done (while still spending time being with my family in the midst of all of it). Instead of have Friday Family Night she will use that as her study night. I know she is stressing over a huge paper that she needs to write but the kids really wanted her to come to Bingo Night so it was their idea to give up Family Movie Night in favor of having her at Bingo.

It's going to be interesting to see how this all plays out. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Family Portraits

This past Sunday we went to Flash Portraits and had family portraits taken. This one photo session has been a long time coming and way past due. We've been having annual family photos taken every year since Kelton was born and yet last year time got away from us and we never had them done.

As you will see - we had wanted to go for our usual, and classic, look of jeans and turtlenecks. I know it drives my sister crazy but we like the look - it's timeless and it's nice to look back and not be distracted by the clothes. It's our version of black and white, I guess. :) This year, however, you will notice that little Miss I Am Who I Am shook things up. She was going to wear a dress and that was that. I have to say, she does look adorable. :)

(note to my sister: I hope someday she doesn't look back and say "Geez Mom! What were you thinking when you had me wear THAT?" like I tend to do when I look back at some of the *ahem* "outfits" we wore in family pictures. But if she does - I'm sending her to you for an explanation. :) )

And now - for your viewing pleasure:

(click on the last two to get a closer look)


Sunsweet Chocolate Plum Sweets are DELICIOUS!!

I also have to say that I need to learn moderation.

I'm just saying..... :)

Nature Kids

Monday the kids decided they wanted to take a "treasure walk" around the neighborhood so we leashed up the dogs, grabbed treasure bags and headed out.

A "treasure walk" could also be known as a "nature walk" but in the case of my kids, they like to search for all sorts of treasures; be it a broken toy, an interesting piece of trash or whatever. It is not, however, to be confused with a "trash walk" which we also take. Those involve trash bags and gloves and we pick up trash along our walking route. we went on our treasure walk. The kids found leaves, sticks, rocks and branches. They also found a broken toy, a broken jewel case and a few leaves from fake flowers. It was a *very* successful walk.

Back home they set about washing the things that could be washed.

Then Kaylen ran off to her room and returned with a shirt and fleece pants. She then asked if I would help her make a "Nature Scout Uniform" just like Ruby's Bunny Scout Uniform. (For those not in the know: Ruby is the big sister bunny on Max and Ruby, a Nick, Jr. TV show.)

I went to my room and retrieved a container of safety pins and set about putting her nature treasures on her shirt. She was beside herself with joy.

Once it was done we carefully slipped the shirt over her head and she proudly wore her uniform for the next few hours.

You just have to admire her creativity, don't you? :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What a Cute Little Kitty

Last Wednesday I walked into the living room to find a cute little kitty had moved in with us.

Are you finished admiring her sweetness? Oh good - then let me just say that she used her brother's non-washable marker. Did you giggle a little? Yeah - me too. But then let's go one step further: the next day was the scheduled appointment to have the photo of both kids with me taken.

Now remember: non-washable. Red.


I, of course, had to get a photo first. And then out came the cloth for scrubbing. I managed to make them all but disappear on her face but the ones on her legs? I'm just glad you can't see her legs in the photo. :)


Beautiful Sunshine

The other day I was swimming in things to do when a sweet little voice said "Mom? I know how you can have some fun right now. How 'bout taking picture of me outside."

Personally, I think this was just her way of getting me to go outside with her on a crisp, beautiful February day. Still - I was happy to take the camera out and snap some shots of my beautiful sunshine girl. Next time perhaps I will remember to check the lens for small finger prints. :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Appetizers and a Movie

The kids are asleep and we are going to be settling in to watch a movie soon. Right now Dakota is happily working in the kitchen making a couple of different appetizers. They are, after all, the best part of any meal. :)

The smell of bacon fills the air - Yum! She is making potato skins and mushroom snacks (two of my very favorite things!) and she is making plenty! I have a feeling after eating everything tonight I will be looking for a good weight loss pill! Oh well - I'm sure I'm not the only one after all the chocolate and goodies that accompany Valentines Day! :)

100 Days of School

Kelton came home with a bunch of homework for his 4 days weekend and among all the papers was the assignment to make a display of some sort to mark the 100th Day of School, which is this coming Wednesday. I noticed last year that schools really have come to embrace what they call a "milestone". I'm not sure I would call it that but whatever. Maybe some day someone will explain the significance of this mark. Is it akin to "the first 100 days in office"? :)

Anyway - Kelton's assignment was to come up with a collection of things totaling 100. It could be stickers, pennies, marshmallows, etc. The choice was his to make.

We talked it over and he hit upon what I think was a great idea - 100 pictures of Kelton. As a group, all the photos have a common link; Kelton is in each and every one.

This morning I ran out and picked up a small photo book that holds exactly 100 photos and then Kelton and I got down the business. I pulled out photo albums, starting with Kelton's birth, and Kelton went through them all (and there were a LOT of albums!) and carefully selected 100 photos. Well - to be fair, we had 2002 to February 2005 in real photos and 2005 to current in digital on the computer because yes, I am terrible about printing out hard copies of photos. I'm not even sure where we would put more photo albums. I have years of photos on an external hard drive so I loaded what we needed on a flash drive and then printed out.

He selected quite a few from his first year but he had strict requirements: no naked pictures, no diaper only pictures and no pictures of him with his binky. A tall order to be sure.

We did it though and the finished book is something he is very proud of. I think it was a clever 100 Day Collection - and I hope his teacher will too.

(This is the cover page I made for the book. I think it's pretty fun. :) )

We Know How to Rock Valentines Day!

After Dakota finished studying today we decided to take our Valentine Celebration on the road. The kids really wanted to go to McDonald's for their special treat so we headed there (oh yeah - we know how to party!). Sadly, the play area was locked up so they didn't get to play but they still had a good time. We even hit the Red Box on the way out. Gotta love movies for a $1.00.

After an early meal, we headed out to Fred Meyer (think Kroger's for those of you not in this area) to return a dress that Dakota's sister had given Kaylen for her birthday. Kaylen had deemed the dress "too itchy" and there is no point keeping something she will never wear. Luckily, Dakota's sister was already in the know about Kaylen's sensory issues surrounding clothes so she handed us the receipt at Kaylen's birthday party.

We found a dress that passed Kaylen's inspection (and yes, that includes trying it on and wearing it for a bit to make sure it's acceptable) and all was right with the world.

We decided to look around for a while because who doesn't like to look at rows of toys and tv stands? :) The kids had a great time just being out and about. A nice way to spend a Valentines Day evening. Life sure changes once you have kids. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Through the Years

This tradition got started without my even knowing. When Kelton was a year and a half he and I went in and had some photos taken. I loved the one of him on my back so it's the one we bought. The next year I was pregnant with Kaylen and I wanted a photo to mark Kelton and I together alone and we ended up with the same post because it was easy and looked good.

Then Kaylen was born and the day after her first "stop breathing" episode I had a primal need to document the three of us together. So - we went in and Kelton remembered hanging on my back and wanted to do that. It worked. And it has continued to work through the years.

We went in this morning for our annual photo and when I was putting it in the frame the stack of years gone by was waiting for me. I thought I would post and share them. I can't tell you how these photos fill my heart.

My babies and me.

Kelton (20 months)

Kelton (2.5years)

Kelton (3.5 years )
Kaylen (11 months)

Kelton (4.5 years)
Kaylen (2 years)

Kelton (5.5 years)
Kaylen (3 years)

And now...this years:

Kelton (6.5 years)
Kaylen (4 years)

This is a pose Kelton wanted. It didn't turn out half bad....of the kids. :)