Monday, August 22, 2011

how we do back to school... and our new dog

This is an expensive time of year for our family.  As many of you know, all three of our kids have birthdays between Aug. 24 and Sept. 3 (a 10 day span!), plus two nieces, a nephew and two brothers with birthdays in these few weeks time too.  Phew!  It feels like Christmas in August around here with all the wrapping going on!

And now with Addie in school, there's the back to school expenses too.
Since we can't afford to do the traditional "back-to-school-shopping," and I still want my kids to experience the fun of having fresh clothes to start the new school year, we just do it a little differently here.  And our wallets thank us tremendously.  

So, what do we do?  It's not really that novel of an idea, and I'm sure some of you do it too.  I shop all year round, picking up clearance items (especially targeting the huge sales in January and July) and also hitting up garage sales with like-new clothes for great prices.  As I buy the clothes, I store them all away in the back of my closet (don't tell my kids) and then about a week before school we have... 
"Back To School Night!" 

I put all their clothes in gift bags and it feels like a birthday party!  The kids love it!  I even do it for Tate and Millie even though they're not in school.  It's fun for them to get new (or like new) clothes too!  

The best part is the price I pay for these clothes.  These Hello Kitty jeans were the most expensive item and I got them for under $6 at Dillard's!

Gymboree skirt = $3.49
Crazy 8's top = $2.99

Crazy 8 dress = $2.99

And the clothes kept coming out.  All purchased for between $1- $5.74!

 We also filled a container with preschool workbooks, flashcards, pencils and crayons for Millie to start her at-home-preschool with mommy.

 And then we made sure these clothes got good use at school!

 Oh, and for those of you who were wondering how Adeline's first week of first grade was...
It was AWESOME!!!
She's loving it, of course!  She loves her teacher, she's made lots of new friends, and she still gets to see last year's friends at recess. 

My biggest worry with her at school is getting hurt feelings from mean kids, because I dealt with a lot of that in elementary school.  But so far, she seems to be handling that well.  This morning when I put a Curious George bandaid on her itchy bug bite, she got a little sad and told me that a boy in her class made fun of her last week for her bandaid and hollered to everyone, "Adeline likes Curious George!"  Fortunately, the other kids didn't go along with him (they probably like Curious George too) and Addie said she just didn't say anything.  But it obviously bothered her.  So, no, I didn't make her wear a Curious George bandaid again.  I took it off and put on a normal one.

 And Millie has been having fun doing preschool with mommy.  We do it every-other-day during nap time (so we don't have any distractions from Tate.)  And every day she asks, "Is it preschool today?  Please?!"  :)

Here's a picture of Tate.  Just because.  :)

Oh, and about our new dog....
This was Odie a few months ago (I didn't have any newer pics of him with his even longer, shaggier hair).

And then I took him to the groomers.  And I brought home this dog.

Pretty sure that's not Odie...
but an older, wiser, more serious dog?  
Must be the beard.  ;)

Monday, August 15, 2011

first day of first grade

 My first grader.

FIRST grader!

 6:40 a.m. - The morning starts out a little rough... since she's been wearing flip-flops and dressy sandals most of the summer, mommy didn't realize that NONE of her bazillion sensible, cute playground shoes fit her!  NONE. Especially not the ones I had laid out for her.  We try on shoe after shoe after shoe.  Who knew her feet grew a whole size in less than 2 months?!  We finally find a pair, although a little big, that will work as long as she wears thick socks with them.

7:10 - Breakfast.
7:18 - Wake Tate up (who was not so happy to be woken up at such an early hour).
7:23 - Check backpack for essentials and insert lunch.
7:25 - Rush out the door for some pictures. But not too many because now we're running behind thanks to the shoe fiasco.

7:27 - Begin our beautiful walk to school.

7:30 - Get partway down the street, and poor little Adeline gets a little too close to the stroller and trips over the wheel, falling and skinning her knee.  We all rush back to the house where I run and get a bandaid.  She's fine.  Still excited for school.  I start questioning the time and if we should drive instead.  But it's too beautiful outside, so we proceed to walk again.

7:44 - We finally make it to school.

 This is the hardest part for me.  
The locker.  
Last year they hung their stuff up in closets in the kindergarten room.
So safe and cozy.
This year her locker is way out in the hall.
Not so safe and cozy.
Way too independent.

When we walk into the room, I think we're late.  Nearly all the kids but one or two are all sitting quietly in their seats and there are no other parents to be seen.
I check the clock.


"Doesn't school start at 7:55?" I ask, afraid that they had changed the starting time and not informed me.
"Yes," replies the super sweet (I mean, really really incredibly sweet - LOVE her!) teacher.

So I have a another minute to take one more picture.
A real desk this year instead of tables!

And we leave.
Mommy's heart sinks.
And keeps sinking.

I'm not quite sure why, but this year feels even harder for me than last year.  Maybe it's because I wasn't as prepared.  With Kindergarten, there's more info sent to you ahead of time, more parent prep nights at school, more communication with the teacher.  With first grade, they expect you to know everything, which I guess I should.  There's just not as much warning and then *BAM* all of a sudden, it's the middle of August (which is so absurd) and my little girl's gone all day.  :(

I think the only thing that will help this sinking heart today is seeing that sweet little smile... in about an hour now!  And hearing all about her wonderful day.  I'm praying it was wonderful.  I'm sure it was.  She makes friends very easily and loves to learn (both traits that we are very thankful for!).

But in the meantime, this little sweetie was also very excited for today.
We started preschool at home today!  We spent an hour (during nap time) going over some brand new workbooks and learning lots of new things.  It was great having some quality one-on-one time with her.

49 minutes 'til we pick up Addie!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Adeline's Wizard of Oz party

Addie had her first "friend birthday party" this year.  Although her birthday isn't until September 3rd, she wanted to have her party before school starts next week so she could invite her friends from last year's class.  I was thrilled when she chose a Wizard of Oz theme.  A classic that this mama loves too!

Every good party starts with invitations.  I stole this idea from this website.  Yes, I'll admit it.  I'm an idea thief.  So sue me.
There weren't really smears on the invitations.  That was done for the blog so you creepers (you know who you are) won't come hunt us down.

Addie had fun putting the glitter glue on Dorothy's slippers.

Time to decorate!  We made a birthday banner to match the invitations.  Please excuse the poor lighting.  I'm obviously not the best photographer.

Addie came up with this sign all by herself.  :)

 We turned our front walk into a yellow brick road.  Don't worry, it's washable paint, although after hosing it down this morning, I still have quite a bit of scrubbing left to do...

 Chad made this beautiful balloon arch for "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Luckily, our house happened to land on the Wicked Witch of the East before the party started.

 If you haven't seen the movie in awhile, this sign may not make sense to you.  Our bell really does work.

 Millie was Glinda, Tate was the Mayor of Munchkin Land, and of course Adeline was Dorothy (thanks to my friend Abby's $3 find at a garage sale!)

 Our sweet neighbor lady even brought over Toto!

 The birthday girl!

 Chad was a good sport and even made his own Tin man costume.  It was such a huge hit that the girls drew names to take home his hat.  I was Auntie Em (with a huge bosom), and my mom even got into it and made her own lion costume (tail, ears and wig) and let me paint her face.

 The food was straight from the Land of Oz.

"Over the Rainbow" fruit

Emerald City jello

Glinda's Wand-wiches (pb&j)

Totos in a Blanket

 And of course, the cake.  Obviously, I'm not a professional cake-decorator either.

Oh that girl.  She melts my heart.

The coolest part of the cake was definitely the inside.

 I got the directions from this blog.

This is what the batter looks like in the pan.

And this is what the mess looks like.  Lots of bowls, but totally worth it!

And of course we had to have Melting Witch punch!

Complete with dry ice.  (Thanks, Krista, for that idea!)  The kids were mesmerized by the smoke.

Of course we had to have party games too!
This is our homemade version of Pin the Slippers on Dorothy.

 Then we played Musical Chairs with the Wizard of Oz soundtrack.

It came down to these two.

And Adeline won!  (No, I was not biased... I turned my back on them so I wouldn't know who was in front of the chair when I stopped the music!  That girl is just super competitive!)

After that, the girls lined up to play Melt the Witch.

I painted a simple witch on cardboard (obviously, I'm not a professional artist either) with washable paint.

The battle was on between the Wicked Witch and Glinda the Good Witch!
Glinda took her down easy.

She wasn't melting fast enough, so Auntie Em had to get the hose out.  Anything to help her little Dorothy.

The game winners got "Emerald City Putty."

The whole party gang.
Aren't they adorable?

We couldn't send these darlings home empty handed.
So we filled straw baskets with:
* Oz character rings
*Glinda's wands
*Yellow Brick Road chocolates (Hershey's miniatures wrapped with yellow paper and topped with a homemade label.)

*Lollipops from the Munchkin Lollipop Guild

*Homemade coloring books
Complete with free coloring pages found on the internet.

And Auntie Em's homemade strawberry jam.

The last of the partygoers (the three Dorothys, Glinda, and Toto) had a little dance party to Oz music.  :)

It was a lot of work, but it was definitely all worth it.  Adeline has thanked me a bazillion times and even thanked God for me in her prayers last night.  Awww.  :)  The only problem is that I'll probably never be able to top this.  It's all down hill from here...