Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Last Bits of Summer

Summer is quickly winding down to a close and I'm sad to see it go. It's been a fun on filled with so many good times!
What is summer without lots of grilling out?
or riding with the windows down, music up?
What is summer without enjoying your dog at the park (see the video)?
or indulging in some chocolate covered strawberries with your special someone?
What is summer without some bare skin and super cool shades?
or without some YUMMY mega-large Blizzard treats?
Good-bye summer we will miss you (and especially you, Blizzard-of-the-month for August: Oreo Brownie Earthquake)!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Types of Mom Friends

I love all the parenting magazines I get and enjoy most of the articles. I do, however, fall behind in my reading of them. We keep all the magazines by the toilet (best place to do a little reading, obviously) and when I get a new one I just stick it in the magazine holder and grab one when I'm doing my thing. I just read the August 2009 issues of Parenting Early Years and stumbled across an article that got me thinking. It was all about the different types of friends that every mom needs to have and why. I got to thinking about the friends I have and where they fit on this list and also the kind of friend that I am to other people.

Friend #1: The Mom in the Same Boat: You need her b/c she "gets it." And you can keep her by trying to spend some one-on-one time without the kids and make it fun. Yes, you're busy with work, kids, errands, house, and other craziness but the more mom time away from play dates, the better. Make a date-you both deserve it and probably for the exact same reasons!

I feel like I have several friends that are in the same situation in life that I'm in (isn't that a blessing?)! Especially all my mom blog friends!!! Even though my mommy blog friends may not be friends I often see in "real life,", they are still legit friends. I love that we can share tips and experiences with each other, especially Rachael, Katie, and Kelly ~ I'm so thankful to have you girls in my life :)

As far as friends I actually get to see face-to-face, I am meeting more and more people in my situation in life. Of course Crissy and I have been friends a loooong time and now we are both mommies! And Robyn and I met through blogging but have become fast real-life friends. I'm so appreciative of both of these friendships as we can get together with our kids and have a great time. We understand if one of us is late or can't go out or has to cancel due to kid issues. We can feel free to discipline each other's kids without worry and can speak our opinions to each other freely. Both of these friends are strong Christian mothers AND awesome wives so both of them have similar goals to me. We want to get to Heaven and have happy, healthy marriages while being the best moms possible. I love that I'm getting closer and closer to both Crissy and Robyn and I feel like both of them have the potential to be life-long friends. In these relationships I feel like I'm giving as much as I'm taking because just like I enjoy being around some one in a similar stage of life to me, I know they enjoy it too!

We're still in similar stages of life even if she has 3x as many kids as I do :)
kids one month apart...if we get pregnant at the same time again then we'd really be in the same boat!
Friend #2: The No-Kids Pal: You need her for adult conversation and so you can act like you're still "cool." Single or non-mom friends are a testament for you that there is life outside of children and help you get a break from constant mom chatter. You can keep this friend by putting aside all the mommy stuff for an hour or two and taking time to find out what's new with her. Compromise is always key, even if your pal adores your kids.

My first thought when I think of my no-kids pal is Ashley. Since she's several years younger than I am I've always been in a different stage of life than she's been in. Lately though, our stages are different stages just aren't matching up. I'm busy being mommy and wife and she's just gotten into a very serious relationship that eats up all her time and energy. So we struggle to meet in the middle and find that compromise to make time for each other to foster our friendship. I do have other no-kids friends and I'm thankful for their friendships as well! Katie is my life-long-no-matter-what friend and I think we do a good job of keeping Kye out of our time together most of the time. Since Kye goes to bed so early it's easy to have "us" time be it watching Grey's or playing board games!

we've always just "clicked" when we're together
 fun nights are still possible, thanks to early bedtimes :)
My longest running baby free pal is Danielle. We've been good friends since high school and I don't know what I'd do without her! Even though she's not a mommy (yet) or even married (yet! a little over a month away!) she's still offered me some really, really amazing advice. Her strong faith has been SO inspiring for me and I love that the older we get, the closer we grow together. I know we'll always be friends and I hope she QUICKLY joins the mommy club (honeymoon baby, please!). I'm meeting some new baby-free friends and I'm hopeful that we can grow closer together as time goes on. I LOVE friends that don't have babies as it really does help me remember that my whole world isn't KYE and I think I do well not talking non-stop about my kid all the time. At least I think I do?

my longest running best friend!
Ashley T, one of my new baby-free (at least for now!) friends
Friend #3: The Been-There-Done-That Mom: You need her because she gets you through your "I don't know what I'm supposed to do next" moments. You can keep her easily because she probably loves giving advice as much as you love getting it. If you have asked for help, try to remember to call and tell her how well her ideas worked out. And even though you may not know yet what it's like to be in her shoes, you can still be a sounding board for her older-kid problems.

I don't really have this friend and I don't think I'm this friend for anyone else either. I'm trying to get to know the women at our church better because many of them have young children who are older than Kye but still young enough where their moms will remember when they were Kye's age! I think we're all naturally drawn to people like us and people with children near our kids age so they can play together. Lorelai is one month older than Kye and right now it still sometimes feels like Robyn has more knowledge than I do just because there are still some things that change within a month, but that will end soon. Also Crissy has Stevie who is about a year old than Kye but that even balances out at some point ya know? Really the most advice I probably get from a friend who I feel like has been-there-done-that is Kelly, my blog friend! I've only met her twice in person but she's my go-to with any Babywise related questions. I also feel like I'm that friend for her because there are some things I've dealt with that she hasn't with Babywise, and other things she has that I haven't. I for real want to make a friend like this though and hope to be one too!!! Anyone with a young baby want to adopt me as your been-there-done-that friend? I'm down!

a little more of a mommy-expert than I am (by a month!)
she's an all-in-one friend: one kid older, one kid about the same age, and now one younger!
my Babywise Buddy!
Friend #4: The I'll-Do-Anything-For-You Buddy: You need her because she'll help you with your garage sale, drive your kids to soccer, and bring over lasagna when you're dealing with a crisis. Friendships don't come with vows like marriages do so it's important to remind your friends that you care. Return the favor whenever you can to help keep this friend.

Hands down this friend for me is Katie. I cannot think of any other person who has ever done as much for me as she has. She's helped us move. She's helped us have garage sales. She drove up from Tallahassee for my last-min graduation ceremony. She suffered heat for all Zach's football games (and an interesting trips for a couple of them too). She was my right-hand-woman with all things wedding. She went above and beyond comforting me when Nana died. She cried (happy tears!) when we told her we were pregnant. She was at the hospital when Kye was born. We've gone through LOTS of friends but she's the one constant one. She's a saint in my book and I strive to be half as giving and loving and thoughtful as she is! If only the world could have more Katies in it..it'd be a better place for sure :) The great thing about our friendship is we KNOW we're both (and Zach too) always there for each other so we're not afraid to ask anything of the other one and not ever afraid that the friendship will fade!

making posters for all the games? def. a legit friend!
Friend #5: The Slightly Glam Girlfriend: You need her for inspiration (is is possible to be a fashionable mom), advice (how does she get out the door looking so great?), and a wardrobe you can borrow. You admire her got-it-togetherness, so tell her.  She surely works hard for it and will appreciate the compliment. Watch out for your own jealousy or embarrassment though. Most of us feel that way sometimes but if she's a real friend she's not trying to make you feel bad . She likes you for you - though if you're still wearing mom jeans, maybe she can help you trade up!

No offense to any of my friends...but I don't really have someone like this. I know Autumn (who takes many of Kye's professional pictures) inspired me as a mom when I saw her house and how you couldn't even tell she HAD a kid. All her toys were neatly put away and hidden out of clear site (I try to keep my house this way too, so thanks Autumn!). And another mom who I don't even know well personally inspired me b/c she's in her late 30's, has 3 kids and is HOT. Like amazingly hot. I don't even see her anymore but I always think of her and how I want to look like THAT someday. But I don't really look at someone and think they have it more together than I do. Many of my friends do have it together, don't get me wrong, I just think I have it together just as well as they do. I mean I made a goal for myself to not let myself go no matter HOW many kids I have and I think I've done well sticking to that goal :)

Friend #6: The Brutally Honest Pal: We all need to hear the truth, sometimes. But if your friend cares enough to tell you not just what you want to hear, then she's a keeper. For many women, sisters play this role; for others it's a lifetime friend, or a particularly outspoken newer one. The trick is distinguishing between someone who's just bossy and someone who actually puts thought about you into her opinions. If may take a day or two for you to digest what she's told you, but once you have done so, call your friend and thank her for being honest.

I know, without a doubt, that I AM this person. I realized at a young age that my facial expressions give away what I'm thinking. I'm a terrible liar so why try? Now that I'm a Christian I've learned to verbalize things nicer, and I've learned when to keep my mouth shut. But typically I say what I think and I will always be honest about my opinions (WHEN asked for them!). I think of all my friends, Rachael is the most like me. Sure, she's a blog-friend but I feel like we bond over our raw honesty. We sugar coat a little, but not much, and I love that she'll say her thoughts (I asked months ago if Kye's hair needed to be cut and she's didn't hesitate to say "YES"!). I'm not saying my other friends aren't honest with me, because I think they all are, I just know Rachael is pretty filter-free like I am and I LOVE that about her!

we NEED a more current picture please lady ;)
This article inspired me to work on being the I'll-Do-Anything-For-You Buddy friend in ALL my relationships in life. Serving others is so important and I don't think I do it enough! What friends do you have that fit these categories? I hope that I am one of these friends for you and if not let's get to know each other better!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kye's Lowndes Football Game

As many of you may remember from my post last year about high school football, it's a BIG deal around here. Have you ever seen the show Friday Night Lights? Well, it could totally be set in Valdosta, GA instead of Texas b/c it's just as hardcore here as it is there. For real.  If you're from Valdosta then you "get it." If not? Then you seriously don't understand (which would be ME).

This season is Cole's, Zach's cousin, senior football season and he's the starting quarterback. Around here that means he's a BIG DEAL. Of course I totally support going to all the home games in order to see Cole, I'm not heartless here people! It does help knowing that this will be the last season we have to go to for awhile though ;)

We actually bought season tickets to the games this year so we are going to be attending games on the reg for awhile! Last season we missed several of them (darn) since we didn't have season tickets and they often SELL OUT. The few games we went to it worked out okay taking Kye because he was actually still small enough to fit in the baby carrier car seat and he would sleep during the game no problem. Remember his first game and this adorable picture?
This season we knew it'd be a little trickier since he's older now, obviously not able to be in a carry car seat, and knows when it's time to go to bed. We decided to take him to the first game of the season (last Friday night) for a test run then decide how to handle the rest of the season. I assumed it'd be his first and last game...and I was right! 

We headed out to TAILGATE at 5:30 (game didn't start until 8!). All of Zach's fam was out there and Mr. Rusty even had the RV. No joke! Kye was super cute and had a great time following all the "big kids" around and eating off everyone's plate.

Lookin' fly with his GAK (Great Aunt Karen)
Walking with Big Papa
driving the RV like a pro!
We didn't even leave the tailgating until 7:45 which was already past Kye's bed time. He was still being sweet but was kinda misbehaving because he was so tired. I was feeling the guilty mommy feeling and the game hadn't even started yet!

Outside the stadium
He really enjoyed watching some of the game and Zach was so proud to have his son there with him. Even though I don't understand why our whole town shuts down on Friday nights, I do love seeing my husband so proud to be a daddy. He loves showing off his son (almost as much as he loves getting his own attention from people)! It was funny because while we were sitting watching the game I overheard the people behind us whispering "wasn't that the guy who was on ESPN?" haha gotta love gettin' recognized. Zach is such a celeb. I, of course, didn't share that with Zach - didn't want it going to his head ;)

watching Cole play!
All the snacks I had packed lasted awhile but he was just exhausted. It was pitiful. He looked at the field and said "bye bye" and "nite nite" to it. He wanted to go to sleep. You know when you go to Walmart at 10:00 and you see some lady there with her kids? And you think "um, your kid should be in the BED lady!" Well...I felt like that Walmart mom. Sure, there were TONS of kids all around us. And yeah, in this town no one was judging me for having my son at a football game (I'm probably more likely to be judged for not taking him!). But still, I knew I wasn't doing what was best for my child. And seeing him so sleepy and not having fun bugged me. I'm proud of myself though because I didn't say a word. Zach actually did! He said we needed to go ahead and leave at halftime because he felt guilty (do I have the world's greatest daddy as a husband or whhhhhat?!).

Yes, he had his paci and his monkey-it was well passed his bedtime!
"nite nite football"
We left at halftime, changed him into his pjs in the car, and he was hardcore asleep before we even got home. We actually pulled in the driveway right around 9:30 so it wasn't even that late but we knew that we are not going to put him through that again. For the rest of this season Zach and I will be going to the games without him and we'll find a sitter to stay at the house while he's sleeping. Maybe we'll luck out and he won't want to go to another game until he's in high school?!? A girl can dream right?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Petsmart: Valdosta's Zoo

Valdosta doesn't have a zoo (unless you want to pay like $40 to go to Wild Adventures, no thanks) so Kye and I made Petsmart our own zoo. He had fun and I felt like it was semi-educational so it worked! I'm sure we'll be going there on the reg until Zach breaks down and drives us to a legit zoo :)

We got to see the exotic bird exhibit,
enjoy feeding time at the killer wale tanks,
watch wild Australian mice sleep,
and even come face-to-face with the lions and tigers!
While we enjoyed it I doubt the workers did since there was probably a lot of glass cleaner used after our visit!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Learning Time

As I mentioned in my post about Kye's new schedule, I have been feeling a lot of guilt lately over my parenting. I know that many of you think I'm hardcore but I wasn't feeling hardcore enough. I felt like the things in my schedule gave Kye TONS of playtime but that it is time for some learning time too. I'm about 80% sure that Kye will go to pre-school and I want him to be well prepared for those days. I want him to be a good student and understand how to sit still and listen. It's not like kids just walk into a classroom and magically acquire those skills. They need to be taught...and right now I'm the one who should be teaching him!

I stumbled across this site (which is labeled "Activity Board" under my "Sites I love" section on the ride sidebar in case you want to reference it in the future!) because the Babywise Blog Mom actually uses it for her learning time with her kids. In my book she's practically Super Mom so if she does something I trust that it's worthwhile to also do myself. She does a variation of the schedule and this is her post about what she does for learning time each day.

My goal is to have at least 20-30 min a day of learning time. This program is based off the concept of having a theme each week and learning board where we put pictures of the things we are covering each day. I am a PERFECTIONIST so the "Old Emily" would have stressed over the activity board and made it perfect. With our house for sale and pretty much everything in storage (including all my craft supplies) I've had to create "New Emily" and she realized it didn't make sense to stress over it. It made the most sense to buy a poster board from the Dollar Store and just write with a Sharpie. So that's what I did :)

Before beginning the lessons you need an activity board. You can click on my picture to make it larger. It takes like 5 seconds to make! 
The lady that designed this program must have been thinking of me when she made it because it's VERY lined out and structured. I know I could probably come up with a TON of fun, educational activities for us to do each day. But honestly, I am such a perfectionist that I would spend HOURS researching everything and end up stressing myself out. So I am just doing exactly what the site recommends doing. The program will last 26 weeks total. After I went ahead and started the program I realized that it's actually meant for a two year old and that they also have one for an 18 month old. No problem, I just decided I'll do this program twice (again, me trying not to stress). I mean 26 weeks from now will Kye really remember that we already studied the cow? It'll be good to learn it all again and maybe I'll have it down to be a good teacher too!

Like I mentioned earlier, each week has a theme and has activities revolved around that theme. I'm not going to go in a bunch of details here (why bother when you can visit the site yourself?) but it's all SO easy to do. That site literally lays out EVERY detail you need and has links to print off all the sheets. I'm also glad that it's VERY affordable for us to do. All I needed to buy was the poster board and books off the reading list (but Mom's been hooking me up with those...thanks Gramma!). To me, books are always a good investment anyway and you can find them so cheap online or at garage sales and the site has a LONG list of books that would fit each theme so they aren't too hard to find.

Since the site is the best resource, I'm just going to briefly go over what we do each day for those of you that may be interested! If anyone decides to do the program and you have ANY questions please let me know!

Monday: on Mondays I introduce the theme of the week and have Kye color a picture of that theme or of the vocab word for the week. I read over the lesson for that week and read off any poems or sing any songs that are included in it. If the song is something legit then I will google it and play it on youtube for Kye while I sing along and dance (please no one ever walk in on me during this part of the lesson ok?) I put a picture of both the theme and vocab word on our poster and show them to Kye. If the gross motor skills activity is doable with an 18 month old then we do that as well. And we read one or both (Mom's been doing awesome getting us two books per theme!) books for that week.
Tuesday: I introduce the shape or color for that week (they alternate weeks). Many of the activities revolving the shape and color aren't suitable for Kye's age yet but I will go around the house with him and show him that shape or color and put a drawing of it on our poster. If it's a color then I will have him color a page using only that color. Everyday I have Kye color something as it helps keep his interest!

I will also review the vocab word and theme by showing him the poster, reading the poems, singing songs, and reading one or both books.
Wednesday: I introduce the letter for that week. I love the printouts off the website! I let Kye color it and will also guide his hand to draw it (I didn't do that the first week obviously but I do now). I bought pudding to use to trace the letter in too which will be fun. I put the letter on our poster and be sure to point out the letter anytime we see it (as well as letters we have learned in previous weeks). One tip I learned from the Babywise Mom was to buy a set of bath letters and use them when teaching the letter of the week. Luckily I already had a set (unopened b/c you know me I save everything new haha) and I've started each Wednesday putting away the letter from the previous week and getting out the letter for that week. Then during each diaper change I will have Kye hold the letter (and chew on it) while we go over allll the words that start with that letter as well as the sounds it makes. It makes diaper changing easier and helps him learn!

I will also review everything on our poster from earlier in the week and read any poems, sing any songs, and read one or both books based on the theme for the week.
Thursday: I introduce the number for the week. I will give him pretzels in the number for the week as well as crayons to use when coloring. I write it out and put it on the learning board for him to see and I also make matching cards with that number (for 1 I put spell out "one" and draw a "1" on an index card then I put one sticker on another index card). I will also draw the appropriate number of shapes for that week matching up to the number of the week and count them. When I read any books during that day I will be sure to count out the number of things we see in that number.

I will also review everything on our poster from earlier in the week and read any poems, sing any songs, and read one or both books based on the theme for the week.
Friday: I introduce the nursery rhyme for the week and recite it often throughout the next week. I put the words to it on our poster. If the fine motor skills activity is something we can do then I will try to do that on Fridays as well and it's a review day to go over EVERYTHING we've learned all week. In review we use all the number cards from previous weeks and play a matching game (not that he can match any yet). Friday is also booklet day where we review our booklet from previous weeks (I haven't made mine yet but I will...it's a book where you have a page for each week and you put the shape/color, letter and number on that page). We will read any poems, sing any songs, and read the books based on the theme that day as well.
I love that we do learning time first thing in the morning as then I can feel like I am a "good mommy" for the rest of the day! haha. I seriously don't stress about any of this and if we skip a day (like we're out of town or something) then we just spend some extra time going over it the next time we do it. If we miss the morning time then I do it all in the afternoon. I feel like since we're going to do the whole program twice anyway that it's okay if we don't do it on the reg the first time. This is just a practice round :) I try to remember to have Kye show Daddy what he learned each day as well as I think it's important to include Zach in everything I can (but not me singing and dancing to the weekly song ok?) Once Kye turns 18 months old I plan to start more crafts with him (mostly from this site and the book The Toddlers Busy Book) but again I'm not going to stress over it (seeing as that book is in a box somewhere or potentially in storage). Can you tell I've been trying to chill out a little bit? Do you think it's working?

Take it or leave it but this is what we do each day for learning time...and I really love it!
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