Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bounce, Bounce!

Our church recently had a block party where they had all kinds of games and activities for kids and adults. The intent was to reach out to our community and give them something free and fun to do while presenting the message of Jesus. There was a great turnout. Lots of people from the church and the community came out to have fun, eat food, and play games. We didn't get there until close to the end; that's what happens when you have a toddler. The party began at his nap time and ended an hour after he woke up. Oh well, one more sacrifice we are happy to make for him :)

He woke up in a great mood, ate a quick lunch, and we headed to the church to have some fun.
Like I said before, most of the crowd had already come and gone, but all the games and activities were still up. Zue-Zue got us a snowcone while we headed to the jumpers to have fun. Eli loved the jumper and Mommy did, too. I even impressed Josh with my forward flip :) No, I didn't stick the landing, but I didn't break my neck either...success in my book! Check out the videos below for our jumping and flipping skills :)

I'm so happy that we have a church that is always looking for a way to give back and share the love of Jesus. We are so very blessed!

Isn't his rainbow nice?
He later discovered that rainbows don't come off that easily..ha ha!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Teacher Brain

When I was pregnant with Eli I had pregnancy brain for 9 months and several months after I delivered him. I literally felt my I.Q. losing points every month. Simple questions stumped me and I forgot EVERYTHING, still do in fact! So my question to you is if there is such a thing called teacher brain? All kidding aside, I walked into my classroom this morning and felt like it was my very first day on the job again. My classroom looked nice and neat, all my papers were in order, my books were laid out and ready to read, but for some reason I felt like a first year teacher all over again. I told a co-worker that I felt like I had amnesia and didn't have a clue where to go, what to do, who to talk to, etc. Great way to start off my 8TH YEAR OF TEACHING, isn't it? I mean it's not like I'm a new kid on the block (all you 80's kids will love that), but for some reason this morning I felt disconnected from it all. Maybe it was just a combination of nervousness and excitement though...

Somehow I managed to gather my wits about me, push the absent-minded teacher to the side, and I made it through the first official day of school with my new class. From what I can tell already, it's going to be a WONDERFUL year. My students are so sweet and barely talked at all today. Don't worry, I'm not naive enough to think that's going to last! We only went half a day today, but tomorrow I'll have them all day long, 8-3, with no breaks. Say a prayer for me when you read this :) Just kidding, well, not really! You may want to just keep me on that prayer list this year...especially if there is such a thing known as "teacher brain!"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back to the Real World

Tomorrow I officially become a working mom again. I've spent the past 3 days sitting in workshops, meeting parents, meeting students, organizing my room, printing labels, making lists, making more lists, and trying to keep my head above water...and that's just my job at school! I come home and try to squeeze as much time as I can get with my two boys while cooking dinner, cleaning, giving Eli his bath, and putting him to bed at night. Needless to say, my days have drastically increased in fullness, but I'm perfectly fine with that. I seem to sleep much better when I've worked my booty off all day :)

Today I met most of my first grade class and I think it's going to be another great year. My kiddos seem really sweet; in fact, a lot of their parents mentioned how shy they were...we'll have to see about that one though. Only time will tell! Tomorrow I report for work bright and early and get to meet more parents and students. Then I get the awesome job of taking these young little minds and teaching them and filling them up with lots and lots of enjoyable and memorable first grade experiences. It's going to be a great year!

My little boy is doing really well at his new sitter's house. Mrs. G has been very accommodating to us and has been so patient with Eli. He goes to her very easily in the mornings and doesn't actually cry-though he does kill me with his pouty face and eyes he gives me every morning. He's eating well, playing well, and sleeping well there and seems happy. He's happy so I'm happy :) He is supposed to start pre-school sometime next month. I'm excited about this for him. We just have to work out a few drop off and pick up kinks and everything will be set. He's going to learn so much and make some sweet new friends. It's going to be a good year for him, too.

I don't have pictures to post, but I wanted to at least update you with our lives. I've got lots of posts (with pictures) started, but I haven't uploaded all the pictures yet. I'll try to do that soon because I know no one reads words. You're all here for pics of my cutie :)

Say a prayer for me and for all the teachers you know out there. Pray for us to have wisdom and patience and for us to be true examples of Jesus to our students all day long. Pray for my little boy, too. Pray that he keeps having wonderful days at Mrs. G's and that he makes a smooth transition to pre-school. Thanks, everyone! I'll be posting soon...well, at least I hope so!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Truths about Teachers

For the past two weeks, I've steadily been working in my classroom at school trying to get it together before my students arrive next Thursday. I know! Crazy, right? Where did the summer go? I think back on everything Eli and I did this summer and even though it seems like a lot it's hard for me to believe that two whole months have already come and gone. It's such a bittersweet moment for me. On one hand, I LOVE that I was able to spend all day with my little boy. I LOVE that we've been able to go swimming, go to the zoo, go to museums, visit with family and friends, sleep in, do fun art activities, etc., etc. I hate going back to work because I know we won't get to do all that during the day anymore; we'll be resigned to try to squeeze stuff like that in on weekends and holiday breaks. On the other hand though, I LOVE my job. I love my co-workers. I love having a job where I feel fulfilled and content at the end of the day. I love feeling like I am making a difference in children's lives. So there's my problem...I love being a mommy and I love being a teacher. In a perfect world, I'd go to work for half a day and then get the other half to spend one on one with Eli. Alas, this world isn't perfect, so for now I'm going to make the best of my situation.

In other news, Eli has switched sitters again. Finding childcare for your child is just about the hardest thing there is about having children. All of our sitters have been WONDERFUL, but due to extenuating circumstances they haven't been able to continue watching Eli. The new place he is going is great. Mrs. G keeps kids in her home so it's not your typical daycare atmosphere, but Eli gets to have lots of socialization, which is definitely needed after being with me all summer long. Josh and I know most of the parents of the kids Mrs. G keeps, so she came highly recommended. We feel very blessed that he's able to go here, because otherwise it would have meant a long commute for us in the mornings. This week was his trial run there. He went half a day Monday through Wednesday and a full day Thursday and Friday. The first day was rough on him, but every day after that has been better and better. He still cries when I leave him, but he does that when we leave him in the church nursery. He's just gotten very attached to his mommy this summer so it's going to be a slow process for him, but we feel like he'll get to the point where he'll be running to her door when I drop him off in the least, I'm hoping for that! Say a prayer for him and for us, if you don't mind :)

While Eli went to Mrs. G's house this week, I went to my classroom to clean, organize, and make it look cute. It took a full two weeks, but I finally did it! I love the way my classroom looks right now; in fact, this is the cutest it will ever look this year! Ha ha! While I was working I had some random thoughts about teaching and decorating:

1. Border makes everything better. No lie. You can slap a poster on the wall and you can call it a decoration, but put some cute border around it and now you have a eye catching display. I found myself putting border on EVERYTHING this week in order to make my classroom look cute. Bulletin boards, chalkboards, magnetic boards, posters, bookshelves, doors. You name it, border can probably go around it!

Notice the cute border? See how great everything looks with border? :)

2. Using clear packing tape to affix things to a table should only happen in emergency situations. If you must use clear packing tape to put something on a table, please loop it and stick it on the back. DO NOT LAY IT FLAT ON THE TABLE! I spent about 45 minutes scraping glue residue from the tape off one of my tables. WASTED TIME is what I call that! Do you know what else I could have done in 45 minutes? LOTS!

3. Teachers will go to any length to make their room look cute. Want to put a beach umbrella in one of your centers, but don't have a place to put it? Drill a hole in a table, of course! Want to mount your SMART board to your wall? Drill some holes in the whiteboard at the front of your room.

Totally drilled holes into my whiteboard without permission and then mounted my Smart Board.

4. The credo "Beg for forgiveness and don't ask permission" has been closely followed this week (see above example of the table and umbrella situation).

5. Teachers are ADDICTED to colorful, bright plastic storage bins. The stores know this, too, so they stockpile plastic storage bins for all the addicts like me who want to make their classrooms look like a rainbow threw up in it. Ha ha ha! The first step is admittance, so here I go. I, Amanda, have way too many plastic storage bins in my room. I am a plastic storage bin addict. There now I'm on the road to recovery. Just keep me away from Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, and Dollar General until school season is over. I may be able to make it without buying another plastic storage bin with help :)

Notice all the plastic?

Lots of plastic containers on this shelf, but I love being organized!

6. The cleanest my classroom will ever be is right now. Thursday morning, 20 germ filled kids are going to make their way to my classroom and start touching all my freshly dusted, antibacterial wiped, spic and span materials and germs will start multiplying. Hello, science experiment! I was taping down some cords earlier in the week and had one of those "A-ha!" moments. I realized that I was actually SITTING, yes, sitting on my classroom floor. This NEVER happens during the year because of all the germs that are breeding down there. Our floors do get cleaned but it's not every week. During the summer, they sweep, mop and put some type of sealant on our floors to make them nice and shiny and clean, so the best time to sit on the floor is right now.

The computer area...clean and germ free for now.

7. TLC should totally call me so I can pitch my new idea for a show to them. We go in and surprise teachers and completely update their classroom with the latest technology and gadgets, paint the classroom and make it look modern and chic, and get all the materials they would ever want for them to use. How wonderful would that be? I know that every teacher in my hall would love a gift like that. Oh, and if someone from TLC is reading this, I'd love to be a consultant and I know about 3 other teachers from my school that would love to be consultants as well. Contact us! :)

See, TLC? I love decorating classrooms! Call me :)

8. I'm not only addicted to brightly colored plastic storage bins, but I'm also addicted to pens. I have upwards of 100+ pens in my classroom and I use maybe 10% of that on a monthly basis. Yeah, I guess I should just come out and say it. I'm addicted to school supplies. I actually get giddy when the stores start putting out their new supplies for the upcoming school year. I guess that makes me a super dork, but I can live with that. I'll be the super dork with the coolest school supplies ever :)

9. Teachers are the biggest cheaters and stealers ever. We walk in each other's classrooms and steal ideas all the time. It's okay though because we all do it. This is probably why it takes us so long to decorate and arrange our classrooms though; at least for me it probably is the reason. I walk in Teacher A's room and love how she has her desks arranged so I go back to mine and arrange mine like that. Then I walk into Teacher B's room and I love how she has her bulletin board decorated, so I go in my classroom, take down my fully functional already decorated bulletin board and change it out to look like Teacher B's. We're just a bunch of goofy, plastic storage bin loving FOLLOWERS.

10. It's for all the reasons that I just listed above that I absolutely LOVE what I do. I feel that it is more than a job, it's a calling. I like to poke fun, but I have no doubt in my mind that I am doing exactly what God put me on this earth to do. I am so thankful to do what I do. I can't wait to see what wonderful things God has in store for this school year. It's going to be a great one!

21 Months

Dear Eli,

This summer together has been one of my favorite summers ever! You are so much fun and I have LOVED spending every single day with you watching you play, learn and grow right before my eyes. I look back at pictures of you when school ended and compare them to the way you look now and it's hard to believe that you could grow up and change so much in just three short months, but you have! It's all happening quite too fast in my opinion, but I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to watch you and be a witness to all the wonderful things you are doing. You make my heart smile so big!

In three short months, we'll be celebrating your 2nd birthday! WHAT? How did that happen? The first year flew by quite fast, but the second one went at lightning speed. I can't believe that my baby is now a toddler full of smiles, laughs, and giggles that melt my heart. You are so sweet and so precious to be around. I love being able to experience things all over again through your eyes. Here's how you're growing!

Eating: You still weigh around the same, but your eating habits have gotten SO MUCH BETTER! You love fresh fruit, green vegetables, mashed potatoes, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, cereal, cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, Nutella, crackers, waffles, pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and popsicles. We usually leave you alone at meal time because you want to do it all by yourself, or as you always say, "Aw-wah do!" (You still have yet to say your name the right way. I guess Molly's way sounds so much better.) You are even getting much more accurate with your spoon and fork at meal times. You like milk and drink it without any hesitation. I still give you one Pedia-sure drink every day and if you do have chocolate milk, I mix it with Ovaltine. Hey, a few more vitamins and minerals can't hurt and it really does taste the same as the Nestle stuff.

Sleeping: You still love to wake Mommy up in the middle of the night some nights, but you are going to bed so much easier now. You actually WANT to get in your crib and go to sleep at the end of the day and you don't fight it anymore. PRAISE GOD!!!! Our routine has stayed pretty much the same. You eat your dinner, get a bath, get your jammies on, read a couple of books, say our night night prayers, and then you get into your crib. I turn off the lights, turn on your Praise Baby Sleepytime Lullabies CD and sit in the chair for about one song before leaving the room. The first time I did this you kept saying, "Ma-ma sit cair?" (Momma, sit in chair?). It took you about 4 or 5 songs before you would go to sleep on your own, but now you're out before the first song ends. Lately you've actually skipped the books and gone straight to bed after your bath. I don't argue with you at all. I'm just thrilled that you're going to sleep on your own without having to be rocked! We bought you a toddler bed (we would have gone to a twin, but you are a WILD sleeper and I have enough gray hairs for now, thank you very much!) but since you're doing so well in your crib, we don't see any reason to upset that routine right now. We'll have the toddler bed on stand-by if we need it now :)

Physically: You mostly wear 18 month clothes, but some 2T shirts fit you. Your little waist and booty are so small though that you probably won't be in a 2T short/pant for a long time and if you do reach it soon it'll be because you need the length. Everyone that knew your Daddy when he was a little boy said you are built exactly like him...long torso and skinny everywhere else. I think you look small but when you get around other children your age you are actually quite average in height. Your latest thing is jumping. You want to jump off anything and everything you can. You don't just jump off things either, jumping from the floor is fine with you, too. You barely clear the floor, but you make a BIG show of it. It's the cutest thing I've ever seen! You absolutely think you're jumping super high every time and we all act like you do, too! You don't walk anywhere anymore. You run, jump, or do some weird skip-hop thing you created. Walking is so overrated anyway :) To get you to go places with us we usually challenge you to a running race and it works magically every time. You are getting much better at hitting the ball off the tee, shooting the basketball, kicking a soccer ball, and hitting a golf ball. YOU ARE ALL BOY!

Temperament: You are so determined. Yesterday, you tried to walk across those concrete boulder things (the things that are in parking spaces to let you know when you're close enough) about 100 times. I was so worried that you were going to fall and bust your head open, knock your teeth out, get a concussion, or all the above, but every time I tried to help you, you'd push my hands away and tell me, "No, Ma-ma, go sit." Yeah, you were sidelining me already. You're not even 2 and you're doing that; what am I going to do with you when you're a teenager??? Not that I listened to you...I'm still the Mommy, after all! You finally walked across them by yourself-with Mommy nearby-and you were so proud of yourself. Keep that determination, my sweet boy. You will need that drive to help you achieve your goals one day. You're also very short tempered (you don't get that from me). We have now reached the point in your little toddler life where if something isn't working out to your liking you chunk it across the room. I can't tell you how many times you have been to time out because you've thrown something in anger. We're trying our hardest to work on this but I have a feeling it's going to take a lot more time outs. You're an outdoor lover. You could stay outside in the 100+ heat and it would be perfectly fine with you. That's one of the things that's been the hardest about this summer is that you want to be outside all the time, but you have a hard time understanding why you can't. This is why we've spent so much time at the pool. If I'm going to be outside, I at least want to be near a body of water! I've also let you play on your own on the back patio and to you it was the greatest thing ever. You played your little heart drawing on the concrete with your chalk, playing with Maggie, mowing the grass with your mower, and playing with your toys. I watched you from the window and every time I asked you if you wanted to come in you'd shake your head back and forth saying, "No tank-do, Ma-ma." (No, thank you, Momma). You are also very happy. You are always giggling, laughing, and smiling about something. No matter what your moods though, like the book we always read, I love you through and through!

Verbally: You completely understand everything we say in normal conversation and usually repeat our words still like a mockingbird. You know so many words now and I love hearing you talk. I can't wait until we can start having full conversations with each other. I know you have so much going on in that little head of yours :) and I'd love to hear all about it!

New Changes: Since the beginning of August, you've been going to a new daycare. It's a home daycare and the lady there came highly recommended. The first few times you went there it was kind of rough...mostly because you were in a new place, with new kids, and a lady that was not your Mommy. With time it's gotten much better. You don't cry when I leave you there anymore, which makes leaving you much easier. Mrs. G says you nap with the other kids just like you're supposed to now (for the first 2 weeks you napped on the couch in her living room) and you're eating really well. You do music, crafts, and even Your Baby Can Read. I love that you're getting so much socialization and making lots of friends-friends you'll probably have for a very long time! You brought home two papers the other day that you "colored" during craft time the other day and I completely goobed out and put them on the refrigerator immediately. It was your first piece of "work" ever! I wonder what I'm going to do when you start pre-school in a couple of weeks and you bring home your first "work" there :)

Baton Rouge Zoo

The last Friday before I had to head back to school Eli and I went to Baton Rouge for the day to go to the zoo there. I'd always heard that they had a really good zoo, so I wanted to see for myself. Other than it being INCREDIBLY HOT, we had such a good time. I think this has definitely been the summer for zoo trips for my little man and me. I mean, we've only been to four zoos this summer. Ha! They're so great for Eli though. He loves looking at the animals and loves being outside. It's a win-win situation for him! I've always loved zoos, so it's pretty great for me as well! In fact, this fall-when it isn't SCORCHING outside-we plan on taking Eli to the Tyler Zoo. It's the zoo I went to as a child, so it holds special memories for me. I can't wait!

We started our zoo day at the Ream of the Tiger exhibit. It was very neat to see the tigers up close. As I mentioned before, it was pretty hot, so the tigers were enjoying a blood popsicle. Eli didn't quite understand why they could have one and he couldn't.

After the tiger exhibit, we went to see the elephants. I love elephants! As luck would have it, we timed our arrival perfectly and were able to see the elephant show. Judy and Bosie, the two elephants, performed some tricks for their audience. It was neat to see these HUGE animals doing all those tricks.

Judy, the elephant, was up first and poor thing, she had arthritis and walked kind of funny. She was the oldest of the two, so she only performed a couple of tricks before she had to rest and let young Bosie handle the rest of the show. She was very supportive of her friend though :)

Bosie, the young elephant, was quite good at all her tricks. You'll have to watch the two videos at the to see the entire show. It was a wonderful experience for Eli and me!

One of my favorite parts of the day was when we got to stop for refreshments. Ahhh! We really needed those cold drinks. They tasted so good!

We visited all the animals of the safari.

Then Eli got to check out the animals at the petting zoo. He was quite taken with the goats. He kept going up to them and patting them.

This goat even let him sit next to him for a quick picture.

One of my favorite parts was getting to see the giraffes. Eli loved them, too. He walked up to the fence to talk to them and one of the giraffes moseyed by to say hi. He was SO CLOSE! He could easily have reached his neck down and licked Eli if he wanted to. After that I told Eli it was time to go and he proceeded to tell the giraffe, "Mone, raffe!' (Come on, giraffe!) Ha! I explained that the giraffe had to stay at the zoo because it was his home. Eli seemed satisfied with that explanation and told the giraffe bye.

We saw one more animals on our way out and that was the baby rhinoceros. She was hiding behind her mommy playing peek-a-boo but we were able to catch a quick glimpse of her.

We were all ready to leave the zoo when we heard the train whistle. When we got to the zoo that morning, the lady at the train station told us it wasn't working :( They fixed it while we were touring the zoo, so we made the train our last stop! Eli was so tired, but really wanted to ride the train.

Can you tell how hot it was?

We left the zoo and by the time we got to the traffic light at the end of the road, this is what I saw. O-U-T! He'd had a blast! I love our zoo days together!

My parents were in town visiting my brother, Joshua, and his new wife, Andrea, AND they were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. We called them when we left the zoo and met them at the mall to eat with them before we got back on the road. Eli was in a foul mood, totally not his fault though because he didn't get a good nap at all in the car. He slept the whole way to the mall and about 30 minutes afterward in his stroller, but was just cranky when he woke up....that is until Pop asked him whether he wanted to go for a ride on the carousel. He quickly said, "Uh-huh!"

The first time around he rode Mike, the tiger, to support our favorite college football team :)

Then he asked Pop if he could have "more" so they went for another ride on the bunny rabbit.

Pop switched with Grammy and Eli went for one final ride on a brown horse. Oh the joys of being spoiled rotten by the grandparents! What a fun, fun, fun day!

At the Car Wash...Working at the Car Wash, Yeah!

Towards the end of the summer, I was looking for things for Eli to do to get him out of the house and burn off some energy. The only problem is that we live in quite possibly the hottest state ever so anything we do outside MUST include water. We were outside one morning watching the garbage truck pick up the trash in the neighborhood when I noticed Eli's wagon was dirty. I immediately gathered up towels, a bucket, and some soap and put my little man to work!

We decided all of his vehicles needed a wash, so we had our work cut out for us. We started with the wagon since it was the dirtiest. Eli was such a great little helper. His favorite part was getting the washcloth wet for me. He'd reach all the way down to the bottom of the bucket because that's where the best soap suds hide you know! We're going to let him practice on his vehicles a few more times, but once he gets really good at it, we'll let him start washing our cars :)

Working 9 to 5

Over the summer Eli and I made lots of trips to visit Daddy at work. Anytime we passed the bank when we were driving, Eli would see the sign and say, "Da-da wuhk!" We'd get out of the car, enter the lobby, and Eli would immediately take off running right to Josh's office. He'd burst in there with the biggest smile on his face. He LOVED visiting his Daddy at work. He got to do lots of fun stuff there that he never gets to do at home, too. Daddy let him type on the computer, answer the phones, spin around in his chair, open and close the doors, and so much more. Tell me this kid hasn't seen his Daddy in action before! Look at him multi-task like a true workaholic!

More times than not Josh is EXTREMELY busy at the bank so Eli and I usually only stay for a short while. It's usually really hard to get Eli out of the bank because he loves playing with all the gadgets in Daddy's office. This particular day Eli didn't want to leave at all, so I said, "Go look at the water outside with Daddy." Sounds like a pretty innocent idea, doesn't it? Eli had other plans in mind. He didn't just "look" at the water; he wanted the ENTIRE experience. I now have "that" child. Go ahead and laugh, I'm sure everyone that passed by us on the highway that day and saw me freaking out because my son was swimming in the fountain laughed, too. I also became "that" mom who made her son strip down to his birthday suit before putting him in the carseat. Yeah, silly me didn't bring a diaper because we were just going to visit Daddy at work and what could possibly happen there? HA HA HA! I guess I learned my lesson :) Josh and Cliff, Josh's boss, did have a pretty good idea though about the fountain. What a great babysitter it would be for parents while they do banking business. Drop the kids off at the fountain, go inside the bank to do what you need to do, and pick up the kids on the way out. It'd be perfect! I guess now I'll have to be very careful about what distractions I use with my son.

Welcome to our bank! Drop off the kids and come on in!

Ever wondered how much liquid a Pamper can hold? I found out this day...A LOT!!!!

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