Sunday, August 30, 2009

P's Birthday

Ohhh, we had the best time on Miss P's 5th birthday! Her actual birthday was the second day of kindergarten, so it was a bit of a blur, but we decorated the breakfast table with balloons and made waffles, my mom took her out to lunch and shopping, and we ended the day with gift opening and playing. So all in all, a special day.

The main event - her Pinkalicious party - was last Saturday. Read about some of the planning here and here. I fretted a bit last week about our guest list, and made a bunch of modifications, and it turned out awesome! It was the first birthday party she really, really enjoyed I think. I had a bit of an epiphany about her as well.

P really likes structured activities and is kind of a different kid in those situations. I've gotten letters in the past from parents about their kindergarten student that have told me how much their child is more comfortable in structured 'tell me what to do' situations, as opposed to free play. I was always a bit mystified by that. Don't all kids want free range time? But that is the sort of girl P is too. When I've volunteered in Sunday School and preschool, P is always raising her hand, and is quite involved. Her kindergarten teacher told me that she is behaving the same way now. However, at recess, when everyone just runs out and starts playing, she kind of hangs back, looks around, and is quiet and tentative. I so want her to be more bold, outgoing, and leader-like. Yet, I know we have to accept our kids in their full package. I know she'll eventually warm up and become more comfortable. (I hope. I think we are going to have to have some major monkey bar lessons.) Anyway, I think the reason why she liked the cooking party so much was its structure. Something was being taught. Someone was structuring the activity. In that environment, I had to shush her a few times (during the story reading) because she was so animated. I saw a few kids at times look slightly bored, which I felt a little bad about, but then remembered that the 'Pump it Up' type parties aren't really P's speed either, but we always go and are enthusiastic.

P's favorite part of the party was the karaoke. She loves to sing! So do I - her dad and I did a little spontaneous duet which garnered some applause.

Final words on P turning 5 -- we had her five year old well check-up a few weeks before, and I have to say, I felt so proud! P is very healthy inside and out and is right where she should be. I can't help but feel like I am a big part of that!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Paige's First Day of Kindergarten!

She did it! Miss P made it through her first day of kindergarten. Her preschool was nice, but very minus the bells and whistles, so we've been excited for this new adventure.

I had a very 'working mother' experience. The three of us got ready together at home in the morning, and then E took P out for a special 'first day doughnut,' while I headed into school alone. I had to miss taking her into her classroom and witnessing those first few minutes, as I had my student teacher to connect with and my students arriving.

Strangely though, I didn't really mind. I already am so familiar with her classroom, and kind of could close my eyes and imagine the general experience. Besides, P and I share so many special experiences, it was nice to see E have a chance to take the lead and make his own memory with her. Being together at the same school, I know we'll have a lot of time together.
When Kindergarten dismissed at 10:10 (!), E and P came to tell me everything in my classroom, then walked back across the playground to get this shot in front of her room.

Tomorrow is another big day - P's 5th birthday! We have decorated the dining room with balloons and a banner as a breakfast surprise. My mom is picking her up from school and taking her to lunch and shopping for a new outfit. After I pick her up, we'll go home to open presents, play, and have her request - a spaghetti dinner. In lieu of Ed or I making a cake for her, she requested a 'Kara's cupcake,' so that will be our dessert. Saturday is her big birthday party and I hope it goes well! We are having it at a kids' cooking school, which I thought would be simpler on me, but as I have less control, I am now worrying about what might go wrong!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beautiful birthday parties!

ACR says, "Look, I'm one years old!"

We had two big birthday parties yesterday. First was our darling niece ACR's first birthday. We took hardly any pictures as P was initially shy and doing her Kling-on impression. The party was a Hawaiian Luau, with a dee-licious Hawaiian BBQ spread, and darling decorations. And, my sister-in-law did make ACR's first cake above. Hello, supermom! : ) There was a little bounce house, water table and fun things for the small fry set to do. Everybody was happy. ACR was doing her #1 baby impression and smiled as she was passed around, fed sugar, etc., and missed her nap. What a doll! My twin niece and nephew whose birthdays we celebrated in May (age 2) were also there and they've gotten so big!!

We drove straight from there back to our neighborhood and attended the fifth birthday of our good friend's son, B. He had a pirate theme, and as usual, the fam went
all out. Below is the fantastic cupcake spread his mom made.
There was a pirate map to decorate, a story, and then a hunt for treasure. It is so nice to have a party with just a handful of kids!

The birthday boy!

Miss P was excited about her shark cupcake. He was made out of a twinkie!

The pirate crew!
The dads in the 'Pirates of the Carribean' bounce house.
Dads hamming it up in the 'Dramatic Play' pirate ship.
Our favorite pirate!

Friday, August 21, 2009


So reality is starting to hit that I am working full-time! This is scary, as even as a part-timer, I was a workaholic. In my last few years (as part-time), I basically got in early, worked, picked up P in the late afternoon, with just enough time to go home and start the dinner dance. Then, a little playtime, bath, and bedtime routine. Then, after P was in bed, I often pulled out more work. After that, it was making lunches and preparing/packing up for the next day until I collapsed with 30 minutes to an hour before sleep (on a good day). That was Mon, Tues, Wed. Is every day going to be like that now for me??? Back then, I at least had Thursday and Friday (and the weekend!) to recover. I would love to make a pact with myself that I will leave by 4:00 every day. Or that I'll stay late just one day a week, and then I won't bring work home.

In other news, I am excited to attend two birthday parties tomorrow. One for my niece who is turning one. Woo hoo! It is a Luau-themed party. The other for a good friend's son turning five. His party is a pirate theme. I love birthday parties!!! Miss P's is next weekend. (Back to ranting. I have some negative relatives. Sadly my niece keeps telling Miss P, "my mom doesn't want me to go to your birthday party." Nice.)

Anyway, I have one thing going for me routine-wise. Two of my girlfriends and I are doing weekly jogs at the Campbell track. So I've got that going on tomorrow, and then the b-day parties. Sunday, I will be going into my classroom to finish up in the morning (school starts Monday!), and then I think we'll do something special with Paige to round out the last day before school.

I think my big theme this school year will be to strive to keep connected with Miss P and E, throughout the stress that our new schedules will demand. And continue to be the hands on parent I've always been. And to stay sane!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


In Paige's half-done baby book, there is a spread called 'The many faces of Paige.' In it, 4 month old Paige is shown yawning, giggling, looking peaceful, screaming, etc. I suppose the above could be sort of her updated version. In case you can't tell, the second one is a self-portrait from her car seat.

Back to School and Ballet

Today was my first contracted day of the 2009-10 school year! And my first day as a full-time teacher in 5 years. I've been in and out for the past week, but now they've got me! It's already been crazy with changes and issues. I wish I could say more!

I will have a student teacher from Stanford this Fall, and am also thinking of starting a blog for the classroom. I considered making it private, but then I thought some parents might have trouble accepting invites, and I assume they would then have to get a google account to log on? So now I'm thinking I will send home a questionnaire to each family to determine who is OK with me including their child's picture and/or first name on the blog. Thought it would be fun for families to see pics of their kids along with a story about what they were doing/learning. (And pretty easy for me). If no one is OK with pictures, I can at least share anecdotes that I might not have a chance to share in conversation.

Monday and Tuesday, Miss P palled around with E and I in our classrooms, and we tried to make it pleasurable. She had her final dance class and we had a couple of quick playdates. I really see a lot value in Ballet, for its focus on coordination and balance. Unfortunately, P says she isn't interested in continuing (although she seems to really enjoy the class while she is doing it). Fortunately, she would like to resume swimming lessons. (We like that, because swim lessons are at the 'Y' and mom can get two guaranteed workouts a week!) P enjoyed today at Grandma's where she feasted on 'pull-aparts' (a breakfast sweet) and McDonald's for lunch along with her cousin. She will have more of the same tomorrow, and then will be in the company of our good friends on Friday. With two working parents, I always feel relieved to have just one to shlepp around (I mean that in the most loving way possible.)

OK, back to work for me!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Like Mother, like daughter

P and I both love to shop, and finding just the right gift is one of our favorite things to do. We have some birthdays coming up so I went to my 'gift shelf' and pulled down all the gifts that I've been buying and stowing to take stock. While I did that, Miss P decided to design birthday cards.

Here is the front of the card. It just includes the recipient's name with pink and purple swirls around it.

Her signature on the back. Do you like the backwards, "Paige Love," This was all totally independent of help.

This is most of what I had on the gift shelf. Note: if I know you read the blog, I did not include your child's gift! I always have our friends, nieces, nephews, etc., upcoming birthdays in the back of my mind, and when I see something for them (especially if on sale) - I buy it - and onto the gift shelf it goes.
I picked these up at the $1 aisle at Target. Paired with a gift card, this could be a cute teacher 'welcome to the new school year' gift.
Let's make this fun - I tag:
1) One Fabulous Mom
2) Biscuits are Never Boring
3)Happy Homemaker
4) Clemsongirl and the Coach
5) Preppy 101

Share a photo of your gift shelf or closet, latest gift you bought, or your wrapping supply favorites.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Besides getting ready for kindergarten here on the home front, what else has been going on??

Well, we did go ahead and decide to buy the townhome. See pictures here. Now we've got a big to-do list before moving in. After selling our current place, we'll need to move to a transitional place for a couple of months (oh, joy), and then finally to our new home in February. With that on my plate, I neglected to have all of my Cinderella days attacking areas of the current house that need to be decluttered.
Guess I'll have some late nights ahead of me!

Have you ever found, the busier you are, the more you seem to be able to get done? Guess it is a momentum thing.

We also had my much younger (9 year old, to be exact) half sister staying with us for about a week. It was fun to try and channel my 'inner tween.' I put together a big craft kit for her to do during down-time and also stocked up on American Girl and Discovery Girl magazines. Quizzes! I tivo'd her favorite shows and we watched 'Her Best Move,' an ABCFamily Channel soccer movie. (Little sister either wants to be a special education teacher, professional soccer player, or chef, upon growing up.) I think her favorite thing was all the computer time, however! We swam, went to the academy of sciences in SF, hiked, went to the Children's Discovery Museum in SJ, shopped and went out to dinner. I think she had a good time!

Now that she's gone, this week has been all about getting back to business. I returned to my classroom Monday for the first time, and loved getting reacquainted with my room. Now that the novelty has worn off though, I hear the clock ticking and am realizing how much I have to get done. It's a bit of a rude awakening after a pretty stress-free summer. Again, thank goodness I actually love my job! I have a new student teacher who I will meet next week.

Oh, and I have gained, like 10 pounds this summer, from eating and being lazy! I'm doing all my awesome camouflage tricks and have moved into my big pants. Thank goodness the new school year will kick my butt!

We are also takin' care of business at home. We've done P's shots and have her five year old check up today. We've also gotten haircuts and had dentist visits. Check, check, check!

At the end of the day, I am collapsing in bed with my stack of magazines. Bliss! (Loving getting P back to early bedtime!) Last night, my girlfriend and I saw Julie and Julia and loved it!

What's new with you??

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to School - Command Center Update!

(This was fun to make - a little color for P's bulletin board)

Not pretty, but I think it will be functional! Here is the end result - 'so far.' There is no 'before' picture, but take it from me - this is an improvement. We repurposed some bulletin boards, got some adhesive hooks, played with some lettering and file folders, and wa-lah! First pass at our command center. (Calendar not pictured).

This is P's board. Half of the board is designated for school stuff, the other half for 'everything else.'

We'll use this I think for her homework, as well as any other papers that need to be turned in.
These bags are just for 'show.' One for her backpack, and one for her library bag. Above is a to-do list chart for us, as we are preparing to sell and move!

My measly bulletin board. The little basket stows her 'home' school supplies - totable from room to room.

Do you have a command center? (I defined this to P as a 'Taking Control' area). Share, please! My Back to School posts are receiving very little love!! Time to move on???

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back to School - Command Centers!

I need to create a 'Family Command Center! I want a place for Miss P to keep her backpack, library bag, weekly folder, homework, and important school postings. And a more attractively organized system for E and I wouldn't hurt either! Even though we will be moving in a few months (more on that later), I am eager to get organized! Can I do it with spending zero (or very little) moolah ??? Stay tuned to find out......

Out of the mouth of babes

Paige says..."You know what my motto is?"
"Nature is nice!"
Yes it is, Paige

Friday, August 7, 2009

Will catch up soon

Having a little house guest has been a little time consuming. Will be back soon with updates and a continuation of the back to school series. Now it's off for a hike and to the museum!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Back to School Series Day 3 - 'Learning on the Run'

We have a houseguest for the rest of the week, and I have plans tonight, so I'm on the run! (Like usual). I thought what better time to do a quick post on how we fit in learning activities while on the go!

Let's say it's Friday evening, and you are sitting at Chili's restaurant waiting for your fajitias and kids' meals. Perfect opportunity for a quick educational game! Draw a number line (zero to ten) on a napkin or piece of paper. Then play this game - Guess the Number. The idea is to give clues that require your child to use problem solving skills, basic knowledge, and their number line as a resource. Your clue might be something along the lines of..."I'm a number that is smaller than 10, but bigger than 7, and I look like two donuts on top of each other." The game might challenge higher order thinking skills - "I'm a number that equals the same number of sides a triangle has." You can also mix in language skills. "I'm a number that means diez in Spanish." You get the idea.

Of course this game can be modified to be much easier or more difficult. With younger friends, we've played 'What color am I.' With older kids you could play, 'What 3-dimensional shape am I?'

How do you keep your kids' minds in shape over the summer?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back 2 School Series - Day 2 - or "What Not to Wear"

(I'll be wearing my teacher hat a bit as I post this....!)

If you have a young child starting school this month, and they don't require a uniform, here are my tips for what to wear (and not to wear) to school!

*For starters, hold off on the big school shop until late September/early October. At least here in CA, the weather is quite warm until mid-October. His or her summer clothes will work fine until then. Also, it gives your kiddo a chance to check out what friends are wearing, and, let's face it, they are going to end up wanting a few things their buddies have.

*Layers always work well. Again, I'm thinking of our local Bay Area climate - occasional overcast early mornings, that make way for warmer days. Dress light, and then always bring a hoodie!

*Make sure your child can fully dress him or herself. Miss P is still mastering snaps, so she will wear 'pull on' pants until she does. Shoes with laces, overalls, and any other 'tricky' clothing can be part of the weekend wardrobe for now.

*Even if they beg, make sure your darling leaves all jewelry at home. (Have you read Lily's Purple Plastic Purse?) These sparkly, removable accessories prove to be too tempting. Either the child removes it and can't put it back on independently, accidentally breaks it and then breaks down, or is surrounded by others who want to try it on or just look at it. Best bet - keep it at home!

*If you have a girl who favors dresses and skirts, make sure she is wearing something underneath them! Leggings or bike shorts work, or you can splurge for 'Monkeybar Buddies' pictured above. For the $12, they are well made, (supposedly) very comfortable and stylish.

*With either girls or boys, make sure you label all of their clothing! So many things end up at the lost and found. Kindergartners and first graders in particular have a harder time tracking all of their jackets, sweatshirts, etc., as they are used to the close eye and loving reminder of multiple teachers/aides/parents at preschool. Welcome to the big leagues, kiddos!

*IMHO, stay away from 'I'll send you to a time out', 'My sister made me do it' type rude t-shirts for kids. 'Nuff said.

*This is kind of a 'no-brainer,' but...always pick out your child's school clothes with him/her the night before. Down to the shoes. I select two choices that I know will work for the weather and any event I know will be going on that day. Then she get to make the 'final call.'

Finally, keep an extra set of clothes in your child's just never know.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Back to School Series - Day 1 - Lunchboxes!

August is here, and for most parents, that means one thing - Back to School Time! As the mom of an incoming kindergartner, I am very excited to get Miss P off to a great start. She already is set with a great school and an awesome teacher....we are blessed! Now it's all about getting organized, and prepped. Since I will also be going back to work full-time (as a kindergarten teacher with my own class on the other side of the playground), I am salivating at the idea of being ultra-organized. And yes, I have my 'Paige's kindergarten binder' ready to go!

Today's topic is lunches and lunchboxes. E usually packs P's lunch and abhors it. I'm thinking of taking over the job and making it fun. I love the kid-friendly, healthy meals that work quite well in Bento Boxes.
Haven't heard of bento? Bento is the japanese word for a 'packed meal' - usually a lunch, that has internal dividers so that different kinds of foods sit in their own little compartments.

Check out this set from This is the basic bento at $22.99. You have to get the insulated outer lunchbox as well. I think the whole thing costs close to $40. I love the compartments, but the outer lunchbox is not so cute, and I don't see where you could put a water bottle.

Here is the Fairfax style from Pottery Barn Kids. Not exactly a bento, and not sure where a water bottle would fit inside this one either, but it sure is cute.

Above are the Spencer food containers that fit into the PBK lunch boxes, making it Bento like.

Below is the Brannan style from PBK. A water bottle would fit in either the top or bottom pouch (albeit, on its side). I would get the pink one for P with her name on it and fill it with the spencer containers above. However it is lacking the 'flat tray' style, that makes the Bento so easy.

I think we are going to hit some stores, so we can play and see what works. I also have to check some online reviews.

Now for the bento style food itself:

You can make your bentos either super fancy, or just nice, simple and healthy. The idea is to use foods from each food group, with an emphasis on fruits, veggies, protein and carbs. Lots of variety, small portions, and making the food look appealing are key components. You'll see some that resemble a work of art (don't think I'll be going that far)

Check out photos for more ideas for what to pack inside the lunches here.
And come back tomorrow for the next installment in my Back to School Series!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Happy August!

I just opened my yahoo browser and the 'theme' (a la google) is an animated school bus and school house! Shouldn't that be for September???????

Just got home from our Las Madres Summer BBQ. Everybody had a blast! We have a bunch of former teachers in the group, so it was filled with activities. We had stilts (the kid kind using cans and strings), play tents, did tattoos, made ice-cream, and enjoyed a delicious buffet. Lorrie put together a movie chronicling our group from birth to age five - tears! We (I) have misplaced our camera charger, and have ordered a new one. Therefore we have no pictures of this fine event. Hoping someone will email me a few group shots!

I am planning a 'Get Ready for School' series I think starting on Monday! E and I are spending almost every spare moment we have together debating the 'great house dilemma.' We have not been on the same page, but amazingly have had very good, respectful discussions. Stay tuned!