Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Applesauce Fit

Please excuse my daughter. It seems she has some ice cream on her face. See, she really shouldn't have ice cream. But do you also notice the tears in her beautiful eyes? Those are not tears of sadness or anger. They are tears of a pretty girl who believes that she is tragically deprived of all things yummy.
It all started when dinner time arrived. I steamed some veggies for her and while they were cooking I fed her some applesauce. She LOVES applesauce. And I bought granny smith apple applesauce today and she seemed to love that even more. But unfortunately she finished the container just in time for her to eat her veggies....or so one would think. She in fact did not want steamed veggies. Nosiree, she wanted applesauce and there was nothing anyone could do about it. It took me quite awhile to realize what she wanted and by the time I did she was in the middle of a full-blown fit. So, instead of just giving her what she wanted, by this time we were all annoyed (read: angry) and I wasn't about to give in to the fit and give her what she wanted.
So I did the next best thing. Dustin and I decided we could not handle this *behavior* all the way to bedtime and we wanted some ice cream. We loaded up in the car to take her mind off her fit, to kill some time, and to get some delicious waffle cones at Baskin Robbins. Dustin got his ice cream and immediately I saw the flaw in my perfect plan. Reese wanted that ice cream so bad she threw an even bigger fit in the middle of Baskin Robbins until we gave her some. This time she did happen to get her way. I just couldn't do it again, for the sanity of my marriage and my mental health, the child (deprived as she may so be) got the ice cream.
Here is what I learned: 1. Applesauce comes at the end of the meal. 2. Always have back ups ready and waiting to be served. 3. Giving ice cream in lieu of applesauce may or may not be the correct answer. 4. Sunday evening can be the best or the worst time to get your way if you are a child. Either your mother is too tired to argue anymore or she will dig her heels in until she hits China with them. 5. Ice cream solves all ailments.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Color Book

It's no question that books are an important part of our family. Right now actually we are all 3 reading and that is a pretty big accomplishment getting Dustin to read. I've mentioned in the past how much I like Sandra Boynton or many other books but I've never really talked about how much I love the process of reading to Reese.

When she was really little I laid her on the bed and let her look up at the pictures. When she was that size I could read 10-15 books at a time and she'd stay engaged in them for a long time. She'd laugh at the silly voices I'd make and we would go to the library for more books every week.

Now that she's a little older the way reading looks is a little different. We usually sit down sometime in the evening after dinner and get out a few board books. She beats on them and feels the pages and textures. Sometimes she eats them and sometimes she just sits patiently and lets me read her a few. She is an easy audience because she can sit still for several books without getting antsy. We read a book several days in a row before we switch out and get a new pile. And we've read every book in our little library about 300 times. I even recited one of our favorites for a friend today. (Right now my mom is reciting, "I hit the ball, I made it fly, I hit the ball oh my oh my.")

Anyway, my point is, reading is important to us, people read to learn, to enjoy pictures, stories and snuggling time with our loved ones. Most of the time we read for enjoyment. I always hope she is learning but at this age, and while she doesn't talk, it's hard to see if she's getting anything from them....that is until tonight. Tonight we read a book about colors. Each page has a bunch of pictures and the reader picks out the object that is a certain color. The first page was yellow, I told her to point to it and I'll be danged if she didn't point right to it. "Sure, I thought, but let's see if she can do it again." Red was next and again, right to it. We turned the page again and this time it was a green grasshopper. That little stinker went three for three and picked the color out each time.

I guess all this reading has paid off. She IS learning something, she IS paying attention and Mama IS so happy at the Baby Einstein I have here at my house!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Birthday Party!

When I was a freshman in high school we were given an assignment to write about our hero. I found the assignment pretty dumb; what high school kid has a hero? So I decided to write about someone who may or may not be a hero. I think it started out a little smart ass but there was definitely something to it. I chose to write about my Uncle Walter. (And yes, I heard the collective snort of laughter).

I chose him to be silly, I don't think I could've verbalized my feelings about what a real hero was when I was 15. And I probably wasn't willing to dive that deep into my thoughts either. So I thought it would be most appropriate to write about my beer-drinking, speech-slurring crazy uncle. The man who I was supposed to drive around and road trip with on my 16th birthday (to his credit, he would be the only one drinking), the man who told us to "pour a little beer on it" when we got a scrape or scratch. The man who gets down in his back because when he's had a little too much to drink he also has a little trouble making his way down the street. The man who calls everyone Dickhead, whether it be because he just enjoys calling people that or because he doesn't remember their name, I'll never quite know for sure. And the man who strips at all of his friends' milestone birthdays, probably because he loves to be the center of attention.

But in all seriousness, he is one of the best guys I know. He took care of us when my dad died. He and my step dad call each other brother-in-law (and okay maybe it's more of a joke, but still....). He took care of his wife when she was dying of cancer. He wouldn't dare miss a graduation, shower, wedding or birthday of any of us (and okay he probably would get "double drunk" while he was there, but he'd be there by golly). And he texted me after Reese was born to tell me that "Little Reese Olinger is gonna be something." Notice he couldn't quite bring himself to say "Neal?"

This weekend was his 70th birthday and his girlfriend, daughter, and my mom and stepdad threw him a surprise party at our house. And after all the ways he's been around for us, I wanted to make sure I was there for his big birthday. People brought tons of food, we had karaoke, and there were plenty of beers to go around. It was obvious that there are many people that love him tons, but maybe not as much as we do. So, Uncle Walter, Walt, or Dick, here's to you on your 70th birthday! Here's to many more years of golf, Pepsi Tournaments and Natural Lights. And here's to hoping the population would just "pay attention!" Happy Birthday!!

The Quiet Book

A few months ago I wrote about "The Quiet Book." You can read about that here. But I also found out that my review of the book is featured on the author of the book's blog. I began subscribing to the blog and now they are having a contest to win some of the original artwork from the book. I am super excited about it so I wanted to share in case you were interested in checking out the contest. You can enter here.

Good luck!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The First Day of School

My oh my! The first day of school. It is like sprinting through a marathon. Fast paced, all day long. Yesterday I barely ate and for two days now I haven't been able to use the bathroom.

I have a good class so far. Lots of girls, and I wonder who will win the title of Alpha. I hope I do.

I do have to admit that I'm mourning the loss of about 19 4th graders. Their beautiful faces stop to say good morning or give me a quick hug and they're off to bigger and better things. But I realized something today as Andrew headed down the hall. I told him to have a great day and he stopped, looked me in the eye and said, "I hope you have a great day too Mrs. Neal." That is what I taught them. That is what they took away from me and that is what makes me proud.

And as I start this year I think of the things I took for granted and I am stopping and slowing down. I am making sure chairs are pushed in, polite words are said, and that 26 kiddos remember to pay attention to the world around them. Maybe they'll get 3s and 4s on the MAP, maybe they won't. But maybe they'll stop and look me in the eye to tell me to have a great day someday.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Deakan Comes to Visit

Yesterday we had the pleasure of babysitting Deakan, my nephew. He is still an itty bitty baby and so adorably small and sweet. He still makes those little squeaks and tiny cries that I kind of forgot about. (That or maybe they didn't seem "little" and "tiny" when it was my newborn making them.) He doesn't roll off the couch or try to crawl under the bed dragging baseball bats, tissue paper, and rolls of ribbon with him. He doesn't spit baby food in anyone's face or try to yank my curtains to the ground. Nor does he grab ahold of my neck and turn and squeeze or pull my hair. He was absolutely the sweetest little thing ever. He just snuggled up in his swaddle, cuddled right up to me and laid quiet and still while he learned some bad habits from his wild woman cousin. We got along beautifully, Reese really loved him and never even once acted jealous. She really wanted to "love" on him but unfortunately her "love" is a little rough for an itty bitty. I do think she was whispering bad words in his ear once when I turned my back though. We really hope we will be able to have Deakan back very soon, he was so nice to have around and although we may not be throwing away the birth control we just might look back on the newborn stage without a shudder of pain anymore. Thanks for visiting Deakan! Come back soon!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bath Time

Reese loves bath time. It is such a fun job and we really look forward to bath night every other day. Tonight we put a few bubbles in and probably a little too much water because she kept trying to drink it. But it turned out to be very exciting to splash around and play with them. She looked adorable and we couldn't help but snap a few shots.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back to School Night

Whew! What a long day! I'm exhausted but excited about the new school year. Tonight we had Back to School Night and parents came to drop off supplies and meet the teacher. I had all kinds of great kiddos in my room and some new challenges that ought to keep me on my toes this school year.

It will be an interesting year this year. This is the first time I haven't had all the "paper work" part of the job (schedules, class lists, etc) ready to go on the first day. We got two new printers this year and before they removed every other printer in the building they installed the non-working two that will be our's to use all year. Yes, you read that right. We have two printers in our building and the rest were taken out before the two were up and running. There's a possibility we could go three weeks without a printer. So the paper part of our job was lacking slightly this week and I really felt the crunch of that problem during my work day today.

But I do have to say my room looks fantastic. The bulletin boards are better than ever and it's a nice haven for kids to come to everyday. I have some great kids that I've been looking forward to having since they were in kindergarten. But new kids means leaving the old and I'm pretty sad about this fact this year. It's no secret they were my loves. They were absolutely wonderful and I really hated watching them bypass my room and head down for bigger and better prospects. I had a couple come ask me my opinion on their new teacher (don't worry, 4th grade teachers are the BEST) and ask me to please become a 4th grade teacher. And I had one bring a gift to her old teacher; that really made my day.

And so I guess it is official. I have a new class. It's a new year. To everything there is a season...

Monday, August 9, 2010

The First Day of School

Today was the first day of school. Not in the typical way, you know with kids and their excitement and first day jitters. This was more of the first day sit-in-meetings and put-up-bulletin-boards kind of way. The talk-to-your-friends-and-not-get-anything-done way. The I-have-so-much-to-do-and-my-to-do-list-is-getting-longer-not-shorter kind of way. And let me tell you, I am TIRED. Reese is tired and I'd say her babysitter is so tired she may not get out of bed in the morning.

Her poor babysitter. Poor, poor Elisha. Reese is one of three other teacher's kids that go to Elisha's everyday. This is a really good thing for us most of the time but today we dumped our kids on her after a nice summer break and I'm sure it was a lot of work. When I picked up Reese, Elisha's face was red and she described her day as "busy." What a kind word for "crazy." We will be very lucky if she answers the door tomorrow! God Bless her kind soul.

But we made it through. Only a few tears shed by Momma today and it will only get easier. So, back to school it is. And only 180-some more to go!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Reese and I are having a battle of boundries. I set them and she is determined to break them. I don't ask for much, she can't have the computer or any electronics for that matter. I also would prefer she didn't pull on my skin and hair when I hold her. Okay, and the dog bowl is off limits too.

This week she has worked and I mean worked to defy my every rule. I really don't think it is because she finds my hair all the fascinating but because I tell her no. She is fascinated by the fact that I refuse to give her something she wants. We went through the battle of me saying "Ouch" and pulling away for a good 10 minutes before she finally stopped pulling but knock on wood, she hasn't done it since.

And the CD player, computer, cable box, oh goodness don't get me started. We have been pulling her back and distracting every minute of the last week. As soon as I get her away from it she heads right back. I know she is testing to see if I will make her move again. And I do, over and over and over. So far this morning I have moved her 8 times. 8 times.

Sure, I could move it. Sure I could put away all my valuables for the next few years but I won't. What would she learn by that? And then when she goes to someone's house? It would be a nightmare. So, slowly but surely we are having a battle of boundaries. I will win.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

9 Months

Wow! 9 months already. Time has flown by! I can't believe how much Reese has changed and grown in these few months and especially over the summer. She has become such a happy, interactive little girl and I just can't say enough about how sweet and fun she is.

In just a few short months she has learned to do so much. Crawling, clapping, holding her own bottle. She can smile and laugh so bright and sweet it could melt even the hardest of hearts. She can throw a fit with the best of them too but funny how a Momma only remembers the best parts of a baby. She sits mild tempered in restaurants and can ride in a stroller for hours, content as a girl can be. She brings books to my lap and we sit and read and touch pictures several times a day. She loves banging on colored rings and her stacking cups and jumping in her jumperoo. She falls asleep in the car and then lays her head on your shoulder when she gets out. She growls like a grizzly bear but then cackles when you do the same. Her favorite game is a tie between peekaboo and pat-a-cake. But the most fun of all is bathtime.

We had our 9 month appointment today for her. She weighed a whopping 18 lbs and was 26 inches long. That's a lot of growth in 9 months and I'm so proud. She's a good eater, she'll eat anything from pesto to beets to whipped cream.

All in all, I'd say we have a happy, healthy, BEAUTIFUL baby. She makes our life a lot brighter and a lot busier. So, enjoy a few pictures of my beautiful baby girl. I think you might enjoy them as much as I do!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Last Sunday

I'm feeling a little icky tonight knowing that this is my last Sunday. Sunday's are usually a day of dread for me but summer changes all of that. I am so excited to spend each week with my little girl that Sunday night passes without much thought to the usual dread of the upcoming week. But this Sunday I know it's my last and I better make the best of the week ahead.

Don't get me wrong, I love being a teacher. I really love the kiddos who come in smiling each day. And I love getting up and having a purpose and a routine too. It's nice to have a reason to take a shower and put on a little make up each day. I also take a lot of pride in my career. It is important to me to be a good teacher and to make even one day better for a kid.

But tonight we played airplane with dinner and we cuddled on the bed before bathtime. She came up and put her head on my lap and I rubbed her back. I put her in a bubble bath and we giggled all through it. She looked up at me with her little triangled eyelashes and wet hair and smiled and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy. I am lucky to have these evening routines no matter what, but I know in just a few short days time someone else will be rocking her to sleep for her nap and someone else will have to shield themselves from flying peas that don't really want to be swallowed.

School starts in just one week and wow has this summer flown by. Soon it will be time for jeans and bonfires and football games on Friday nights. And since I can't comfort myself with the thought of saying goodbye each day to Reese I will have to be thankful for the summer I had with her and the Thanksgiving break only a few short weeks away, followed by Christmas and Martin Luther King Jr Day.... So, I guess, thank goodness for having the best job where I get the best of both worlds. Thank goodness for keeping my sanity by getting out of this house and thank goodness for coming home and having dinner and story time but mostly thank goodness for little girls who love their mommys only slightly less than the mommy loves her.
Yesterday we had a great day. We spent our morning eating pancakes and being lazy. Then we decided to load up and go to the pool. That was a lot of fun, Reese really liked splashing around with Dustin and Halee had a great time going down the slides and playing in the fountains.
We didn't really have any definite plans for Saturday night and some friends called and were going to Swagger, a restaurant that was on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. They are really just a hole in the wall dive down in Waldo that is more of a bar than anything. Anyway, because of their small status they have been more than a little understaffed since the episode. They have been overrun with customers, for good reason, they have awesome food. But our poor waitress was drenched in sweat and they all looked like they had been running ragged for a long time. We also had to wait for a VERY long time for our food. But it was fantastic and we were glad we toughed it out.

But Halee does have to go home today. We are going to miss having her around. She's been a great extra pair of hands to have around and I think Dustin has loved having someone to swat with hangers and throw stuff at. Reese is going to miss Aunt Halee for sure because she thinks Halee is about the funniest person on earth. We had a great time this weekend, Halee, please come back and visit!!