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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Fools

Halle and Arden played a joke on me.  They got me.  My heart stopped when I saw this.  Naughty girls. 
pretending to have cut herself with a knife.  That's ketchup of course.

Jack at thirteen months

Words that he says:  Dada, Halle (hi-eee), Jack, hey, hi, banana (baaa), here (hih), thankyou (thih-thoo) firetruck (iii- uh).  He still refuses to say mama.

Lazy boy is not walking.  He will pull up and cruise while holding on, but his preferred method of transportation is crawling.  He started bear crawling last week, so I think he is really close to walking. 

He loves to go outside.  He loves to play with sticks and play in the sandbox.

I'm sure I'm biased, but he seems bright.  He figures out how to do stuff.  He knows how to knock a ball off of the tee using a bat (while sitting of course....because he's lazy.)  I've seen him try to dribble a ball after he saw Halle doing it.  He attempted a push-up after seeing me do one.  And he's been doing the swiping motion on my iPhone since he was six months old.  It's intriguing to watch a toddler figure things out on their own. 

He eats, and eats, and eats.  The boy can put away some food.  Which is probably why he is in the 92nd percentile for his weight.  He's got a big ole head-  97th percentile.  And he's a shorty-  14th percentile.

Bath time is a favorite of his.  He loves to make big splashes and play with his bath toys. 

His poops are like clockwork.   Two every single day....Before 10 am.  Is that a guy thing? 

He sleeps about 12 hours at night.  He loves his big teddy bear and his blanket.  He sucks his thumb while he sleeps. 
He says vroom vroom when he plays with cars.  This is my favorite thing to watch him do.
he is pushing the ball around with a bat
Jack cruising around the table.  He always has a plumber's crack so I decided to keep his diaper up with suspenders.  ;)
Just enjoying being outside.  He will sit outside for hours playing with grass and sticks and dirt.

Where the Wild Things Are

My house is a disaster zone 90% of the time.  Seriously worried that the government will come condemn the place. Ok, maybe it's not that bad, but at times it's almost Hoarders material. 

These are the reasons why my house is a mess.


and this

and sometimes this
Once upon a time (a year ago actually) I had it in my head that my house would be perfect and spotless.  I mean, I would be home all the time so the laundry would be done, the dishes would always be put away, and my toilets would sparkle, right???    Then reality set in.  And reality is now crawling and has a mischievous sister.  My house constantly has Cheerios on the floor, spilled chocolate milk (spill-proof cups are NOT spill-proof, by the way) clean laundry mixed with dirty laundry, dirty diapers, dishes over-piling, and all the crap the kids have pulled out to play with (toy makers should be imprisoned for all the cluttering little pieces they make.) 

I clean my house inside and out.  Thirty minutes later there should be caution tape up.  Jack has pulled all of my clothes out of a drawer, DVDs out of a cabinet, and all of the wipies out of the box.  Arden has decided to play dress up with every pair of shoes I own and then use 39 markers to color one picture.  Their attention spans are 4 seconds tops so before you know it they are on to the next thing.  Arden will clean up when I tell her to, but ONLY if I'm constantly on her to do it.  I try to confine Jack to his playpen or walker, but then he just screams and screams because he wants to get out and explore.  At this point I go on strike because I decide I'm not going to spend my whole life cleaning; the little creatures that overrun it can figure it out on their own, lol.

He found the hairband bin

random brown PlayDoh I found in my shoe

one day's work in Arden's room

This is a toilet paper roll that Arden chunked in the toilet.  This is Charmin MEGA roll.  I was so mad!  Note there is no water in the toilet... because the paper soaked it all up.

 I'm really not complaining.  I LOVE my job as a stay at home mom and all the craziness it entails.  And thankfully I have a husband who understands there's wild animals living among us.  It's just that I need a cage.  A really big one the size of my house.  The end.  :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Arden's Favorite Things Fourth Birthday Party

If you haven't figured out by now I love to plan parties!  I enjoy the challenges of finding the perfect decor, staying within a budget, and making the cake.  I almost enjoy the planning more than the actual party. :)  I wanted this birthday to be big and special for Arden since she didn't have anything special last year.  I had a newborn and just wasn't up to it. 

I hoped to make Arden's 4th birthday unique and filled with my own ideas.  This was hard for me since practically every idea has already been done.  Pinterest will prove that.  Now I LOVE Pinterest and used some ideas from there, but I am proud to say that I did a lot of stuff on my own.  It might not have come out exactly as I envisioned, but it was fun trying!

This post will be both about the preparations and the party itself. Will I be bragging on myself in this post? Heck yeah!  I worked hard on this party and did an awesome job if I do say so myself! 

I racked my brain for weeks trying to come up with the perfect theme for Arden's party.  Initially Arden wanted a Caillou party.  BORING!  Then I thought about a fishing party since she loves to fish.  My Little Pony, Barbie, Dora, and other themes came to mind.  I just didn't want to do any of those.  I wanted to do something more original.  So I thought of an idea to feature all of Arden's favorite things!  I scanned Pinterest to see if others had done this, too.  I found one lady that did a favorite things party for her 90 year old grandma.  It was a really cute party and I copied her idea of the frame as the centerpiece.

Now that I decided on a theme, let the planning begin!  I created an original invitation with the help of iMovie, YouTube, and Crystal's voice (because we all know I sound like a tortured cat when I sing.)
Here is the invitation.  It's sung to the tune from the Sound of Music.  I absolutely love how it turned out!  Check it out!

Arden's favorite color is yellow.  Perfect!  My kitchen walls are yellow.  I like the trendy yellow and gray color scheme so that is what I chose as the party colors.

The curtains are made out of two yards of cloth and strips of fabric.  The tablecloth is also just cloth from Hobby Lobby.  The signs flanking the table are lists of her favorites.
Wooden/paper plaques featuring Arden's favorites.

the circle garland is just paper circles attached to string.  I like to use floss for string because it's sturdy.

Pinterest-inspired wall decorations.  The circles on the wall are made from an assortment of tissue paper, printer paper, and construction paper. I love how they came out. I might just leave them up!

My creation.  "Adore" in yellow
a rag-tie garland I made from strips of fabric.  Arden also wore a rag-tutu.  Arden's favorite drink is chocolate milk so I used empty Starbucks Frappucino bottles to mimic old-fashioned milk jugs.  I found the old-fashion paper straws on Etsy.  I served chocolate milk and lemonade (another of Arden's favorite drinks) 

The kids then used stickers to personalize their bottles.

I served Arden's favorite foods:  pizza, goldfish, Cheetos, cheese, and fruit, and marshmallows.  She also loves hotdogs so I served pigs in a blanket as an alternative.

My creation. Caillou pizzas for the kids. Pepperoni and macaroni for his cap. Peppercorns for his face. I know, I'm awesome. ;)

Arden is attached to her baby blanket and calls it "Sweet Blankey"

Marshmallow Roses because she loves marshmallows, loves flowers, and her middle name is Rose.
Arden's favorite stuffed animal is a Hallmark interactive stuffed dog named Bell. Bell is not mainstream so I tried to think of a way to implement her into the party theme. That's when I decided to make the cake look like Bell! Considering this is my first 3-D cake ever to make for a party, I think it turned out really good. Crystal and Jessica gave me guidance as I was carving it out. I scared them more than once as I made bold moves with the cake. I think they had a heart attack when I picked up and repositioned the entire head! So funny. They were so concerned that I would crumble the entire project. I know it doesn't look perfect, but not too shabby for an amateur! 
The making of Bell
finished product

Arden with Bell... and Bell

Another of my creations..  cake pops in the shape of puzzle pieces. Pre-icing they were interlocking to form one big puzzle. Let me tell ya these were a pain in the butt! Crystal and I had trouble figuring out how to put the stupid puzzle back together after I cut them!
The Main Attraction
What little kid doesn't want a Pony at her party?  Especially when My Little Pony is a favorite toy.  We had so much fun with this animal.  We were supposed to only have the pony for two hours.  The guy that owns the pony asked if he could drop it off the night before the party because he had to work the next day.  So we had the horse for 24 hours!  Score!  The guy gave us pink hair spray to paint the mane and tail.  Arden immediately named the pony Fluttershy and tried to put bows on its hair.  Poor pony considering she was a very obvious he.  He also pooped.  And pooped.  And pooped.  Along with neighing.  Very loudly.  Brian had plans to ride him up and down the street.  For the pony's sake I didn't allow it. 
The kids took turns at the party riding it.  They chased it around, fed it, and petted it.  It was the highlight of the party.  The bigger kids even had a chance to ride it.

The kids know that when they come to my parties I will have activities planned. Immediately I was being asked when the games were going to start.  Ha! 
Pinterest-inspired fishing game.  I made fishing poles out of sticks, strings, and magnets.  I then made 30 fish out of foam and paperclips.  The kids fished by picking up the fish with the magnetized pole.  They had twenty seconds to get as many fish as possible.  They then got to choose a prize for every fish they caught.   
cheap and easy dollar store game.  Pin the Star on the Princess Wand

And of course there was the trusty sandbox and swingset.  I also had bubbles and a bubble machine to keep the kids entertained.  The weather wasn't as gorgeous as it was for Jack's birthday party, but it was still mild and pretty.   
After cake Arden opened some great gifts:
cute clothes, shoes, toys, purses, makeup, a water-spinning Cinderella, Build a Bear gift card, Barbies, My Little Pony, Rapunzel PlayDoh, handmade bows, and a remote controlled Barbie car!
In her new green shoes with her remote controlled Barbie car.

Party Favors
A creation of mine: pillowcase bags.  I worked hard on these bad boys.  I asked each mom to submit a list of each of her kid's favorite things.  I used to generate customized word art for each guest.  I then printed them onto iron-on transfers and put them on pillowcases.  I inserted a drawstring  into each pillow case so that they became pillowcase/bags.  They can be used as a traditional pillowcase, as laundry bags, as overnight bags, or whatever.  
All of the Word Arts I created

an example of the party favors.
As a pillow

as an overnight bag

And the lovely Halle modeling it as a laundry bag, lol
Well that sums up the party.  It was a success, and as usual I was extrememly exhausted by the end of it.  It was a good exhaustion though, and I hope Arden forever remembers the party with her own song, Caillou pizza, the Bell cake, and the pooping pony.  :)  Arden told me, "This is the best birthday party ever!"  That made it worth the effort.  :)

and a random picture of brother Jack chillin out enjoying a marshmallow pop

So..... we have decided to homeschool Halle.

If you would have asked me a year ago if I would ever homeschool I would probably have slapped you.  Not really, but I never thought of myself or my kids as the homeschooling type.  Even with my best friend and some of my other friends being homeschoolers, the thought of me homeschooling made me shudder.

In the past I've had the same reservations toward homeschooling as the rest of organized-school advocates:
*she won't get to interact socially with others
*I'll fail to teach her what she needs to know in order to get into a good college and/or to be a successful adult.
*she won't learn how to solve problems on her own. 
*she won't learn how to work with peers during team projects.
*she won't get to experience the good, bad, and memorable "rites of passage" that traditional school offers (i.e. school dances, prom, drama class, football games, favorite teachers, bad teachers, school spirit, passing notes in class, lockers, gossiping, bad cafeteria food, the social hierarchy, secret crushes, etc etc etc.)

So what made me change my mind?  Well.... Halle did....along with a lot of research.  Halle approached me in the Fall of last year and said she wanted to be homeschooled.  I think I probably laughed..... laughed very loudly.  But she has been adamant about it, and over time God has softened  Brian's and my heart toward homeschooling.  Now I couldn't be more excited!

Initially she came to me with a list of pros and cons on homeschooling.  She wanted to show me that she was serious about her request to be homeschooled and that she had already weighed out her options.  I asked her to pray about it everyday over the course of a few months and then let me know afterward if she still felt the same way. 

Some of the pros that she listed were: learning at her own pace, field trips, more free time to do extracurricular activities, not having to deal with negative peer pressure, not having to deal with pre-teen/teen drama, tailored learning toward her interests (dolphins for example),  doing a lot more project-based learning, and family vacations are not limited to school breaks.

After doing a lot of research on homeschooling this is what I've learned:
*On average a homeschooler with outperform a public schooler on standardized tests such as the SAT.
*Homeschoolers are not socially inept like much of society thinks.
*Close to 100% of homeschoolers become responsible members of society and are active in their communities.
*There are many social opportunities, support systems, homeschool co-ops, college classes, and teaching resources available.  The sky is the limit!

So..... Will we homeschool Halle all the way through high school?  Will we homeschool our other children?  Will we put our kids in a private school if homeschooling doesn't work for our family?  I have no freaking clue; that's too far in the future :).  We can only take it one step at a time.  There's too many variables in play to decide right now.  I am committed to the next year of Halle's education, and then we will make a decision from there.  I am open to enrolling her back in public school if this doesn't work out.  I trust that Halle will be successful no matter the circumstances.  I just have to trust in the Lord and the right decisions will come at the right time.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Little Mommies

That's what my girls think they are, anyway. 

Halle scolds Arden, and most of the time it's when Arden is being disrespectful to me.  Halle uses the rational, calm, yet stern mom-voice that I use.  "Arden, you don't talk to Mommy that way."  "Arden you need to say you're sorry to Mommy because that wasn't nice."  "Arden, Mommy asked you a question.  When she asks you a question you need to answer her."  Halle says all of these things in the exact tone that I use and sounds exactly me.  It's so funny.... and nice to know that Kid 1's got my back.

Arden has her turn of being mommy when she is scolding Jack.  Arden tends to take on the meaner, eratic, badder mom-version of me....  the one that she tends to personally encounter on a regular basis.  "Jack!  Stop!  No, bad boy!"  "No, Jack, don't do that!  Leave that alone!"  "Jack!  Do that again and you're gonna be in BIG trouble!"  "Do you need a spanking?"  Halle then intervenes.  "Arden, Jack is just a baby.  Be nice to him.  Would you want someone to be mean to you?"  
Ha!!!  Kids.  Gotta love 'em.  :)