Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rubber Ducky Party & FREE printables

My friend Kristy over at Emme & Me just celebrated her daughter's 9th birthday, and you wouldn't believe how CUTE her theme was!  Check it out here, and guess what?  She is even sharing with us the downloads for this amazing party package -- for FREE!

Thank you, Kristy!  
photo from

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Kindergarten, check!

Aislynn had a great year in Kindergarten!  She accomplished all that I wanted to her accomplish, in this exact order:

1) have fun & make friends
2) learn phonics
3) learn the "sight words"  (and, is, the, how, etc)
4) learn simple addition and subtraction

This list is WHY I send my kids to Kindergarten.  I think it's a FUN grade, and I like when they come home to me to homeschool already knowing how to read simple words and how to sound words out.  It just makes it that much easier for me if they can already do that.  And since Kindergarten over here in our public school is only 3 hours per day, well, I see no reason why they cannot join a class to learn that stuff.  

But my #1 reason for sending them to Kindergarten is for them to make friends.  That way, when they come home to homeschool for the next few years, we will have a list of friends to call to arrange playdates.  I want my kids to be connected to the children that they will be going to school with later on.

The only child who has not gone to Kindergarten is Avery.  She enjoyed preschool very much, but when the next year came around and it was time for Kindergarten, she said she wanted to homeschool.  She just did NOT want to go, and I didn't force her -- although I did try to persuade her.  But nope, she had her mind set.  So, she is my only one who skipped Kindergarten.  Instead, she homeschooled that year with some of her older siblings.  

But back to Aislynn...

On the second to the last day of school the Kindergarten classes had a carnival.  They do this every year, and it's always so much fun for the kids.  In the previous years with my other Kindergarteners, I had volunteered to work a booth.  But I chose not to this year, and tried my best not to feel quilty about it.  Because here's the thing:  when I work a booth, I cannot go around with my child to enjoy the carnival.  And I don't know, but lately I'm just feeling like time is going by too quickly!  My 7th child is already finished with Kindergarten, my youngest child is talking in full sentences,  my 3rd child is driving already, and my oldest child is working and going to college full time, and all the ones in between are doing new things, too.  I mean, they are just growing up so quickly,  and I guess I'm just feeling that reality a lot lately.

So this year, I decided to enjoy the carnival alongside my Kindergartener...

We had such a fun time, and she was so happy to walk with me, holding my hand, as she went from booth to booth to play the games.  So while I might not get an award for being the best volunteer of the year,  I earned my own award by being the best mommy that I could be that day.  And that is good enough for me!

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Yoga Girl

Each morning when the children get to school, they line up with their class and have to sit on the black top while the morning announcements are read.  Some kids listen attentively, and some kids just sort of zone out, like Aislynn is doing here...

and then some kids will make use of this down time with a little Yoga session....

This little girl is from Aislynn's Kindergarten class, and when I saw her doing this, I just had to take a picture!  Isn't this the cutest thing?   Yoga!  OMGosh, so funny!  

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

major leagues here we come

We are so excited for A.J. who recently was invited to try out for a PONY league baseball team!  This is an age 10 team, so A.J. was  one of the youngest at the try-outs (he just turned eight in March!)  We got the call today, and he made the final cut - he is now officially on the team!  

This is definitely going to challenge him.  I saw all the boys during try-outs, and wow, there were some really good players.  I believe about 20 boys tried out, and they only took 12 for the team, so we are very impressed with A.J. for making the cut.  I woke him up this morning to tell him the good news, and his smile  just made my morning.  He was so excited, and a bit surprised.  He honestly didn't think he'd make it onto the team.  

The try-outs were a bit intense for him.  During the second and final try-out day, he came up to me and said,  "Mom...I don't think the coach is going to pick me.  Do you see how these guys play?  They're really good!  And they are all older than me."  Then he took his voice down a notch, leaned into me and said, "See that one guy over there? He has armpit hair!"  (I guess that's intimidating for an eight year old!)

And so I said,  "Yep, there's some good players out there.  And it's true that they are older than you.  But there's nothing you can do about those others guys and how they play.  You can only control your own game. You are a good baseball player. Do your very best.  That's all you can do."   

So he continued on with the try-out, and at one point he got a bit discouraged after making a few errors, and he started to have attitude; kicking the dirt, keeping his arms crossed while in the outfield,  etc.  I could see the anger on his face, and it was affecting his play.  So I called him over to the fence and I whispered in his ear, "Listen to me.  If you don't make it onto this team it's because of your ATTITUDE, not your skill.  So you just better change your negative attitude right now, mister.  Do you understand?"   and he made a face, mumbled something under his breath,  then said, "fine!"  and walked back onto the field.

I was a bit rough but it's only because I know my kid.  He needed a good kick to the rear right then and there.  So I gave it to him (well, minus the kick to the rear)

Anyway, he went on after that to have a better try-out -- and ultimately made it onto the team!  It's very exciting!  This team will travel to nearby cities and towns for games and tournaments, and they use professional umpires, not volunteers.  

I'm  excited for A.J. because I really believe this team is going to challenge him and he will step up his game as a result.  And I'm so proud of him for not being intimidated (much!) and for giving it his all, even though he knew all the other players had two years on him.  I'm proud of his confidence and his love for the game.

Yep, it's going to be a fun season!

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sticks & Stones

Do you have someone to shop for 
who seems to already have everything?  

Maybe I can help with that!

In this post I am sharing one of my "Favorite Things" 
that can be given to just about anyone for any occasion.

wedding gift
anniversary gift
birthday gift
Mother's Day gift

Can you read what these signs say?


Isn't this the neatest idea?!!


Alphabet Photography by Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones alphabet photos are a high-end, luxury heirloom, and you have their word that they will maintain this status by never allowing Sticks and Stones alphabet pictures to be mass-produced. Explore the website, inspect each alphabet photo (there are many to choose from!)  You can see each alphabet photo in their Letters Gallery.

Sticks and Stones alphabet photography keepsakes are the only alphabet photos endorsed by Oprah Winfrey (listed as one of her "favorite things"); Martha Stewart; Rachael Ray; HGTV; CNBC; Fine Living; TBS; O, The Oprah Magazine; People; Better Homes and Gardens; Brides; Modern Bride; Parents; Lucky; Midwest Living; Relish; and many more publications around the country.

Sticks and Stones alphabet photography is perfect for the person who has everything, the perfect gift for every occasion: wedding, anniversary, birthday, etc.

You design your own sign right on their website.  Fun!

You can pick which type of letter you want.  
(notice that the "i" in Faith is different than the "i" in Alexis?)
Each letter of the alphabet has many different photos to choose from.

You design your name the way you want it to look, 
and then choose which frame you want.
And that's it!  It gets mailed right out to you.

Here is my daughter Afton with her Sticks & Stones sign

Sticks and Stones ~ definitely one of my "Favorite Things"

But wait! There's more!   <---- (always wanted to say that!)

If you want to create and order your own Sticks & Stones sign, just visit their website and enter the coupon code IBGIKL at check-out for 10% off your entire order!  That's right - save 10% just by entering the coupon code IBGIKL.

And if you act now...  <----- (always wanted to say that, too!)

Sticks and Stones has a BUY 1 get a second one at 50% off! special going on right now.  This is in addition to the 10% discount when you enter the coupon code IBGIKL

So now I've introduced you to an awesome company with a really cool product, and I've given you an opportunity to save money, too.  Yep, my work here is done ~ Happy Creating!

Father's Day, a busy week ahead, & Meet Me on Monday

This past Sunday was Father's Day.  Would you believe that I let a Father's Day go by without taking pictures??!!  Well, believe it, because that's exactly what happened.  Rich had to work on Father's Day, so after church Sunday morning we drove up to his station to spend a few hours with him.   When we got there,  I took my camera out to take a photo -- only to find that I had left the batteries on the charger AT HOME!  So needless to say, no Father's Day photos were taken that day.  I feel bad about that, but there's not much I can do about it now.

So in honor of Father's Day, and to show my love and appreciation for the father of my children, here are some of my most favorite photos of Rich with the kids, through the years:


I don't know that I'll have much spare time to blog this week.  It is the last week of school and there's a school function (or two or three) scheduled for each day of the week.  End-of-the-year classroom parties, 5th grade teacher vs. students baseball game, awards ceremonies, a Kindergarten carnival, etc.  I'm completely booked and stretched to my limits as far as schedules go.  I tell you I will be glad when this week is over!  I see plenty of beach days and pool days in our near future ~ and days without schedules!   That's what I love about summer ~ no schedules!  

I've joined the "Meet Me on Monday" blog hop, hosted by Java over at Never Growing Old, and here is how she explains it:

"Blogging  is a funny thing...we tell our most intimate thoughts for all to read  and yet most of the time I find myself sitting and wondering, "who is  this person!?"  I know them...but yet I don't know them!  I want  to know who the person is behind all those words so I thought of a great  way for all of us to "meet" each other!

Every Sunday 
Never Growing Old will post five get to know you  questions that you can copy and paste into your own Monday post and we  can all learn a little more about each and every one of us!!"

and here are this week's "meet me" questions, with my answers:

1.  What feature of the opposite sex do you notice first?
I think I notice first how he is dressed.  I remember when I first met Rich (at a night club) I was not attracted to him right away simply because of how he was dressed!  I know that sounds snobby, but I have to say it's true.  He had on jeans with snake skin boots, the kind with the pointy toe. Ugh!  Totally not my "type" at all.  But yet...something prompted me to say YES when he asked for my phone number that night :)
2.  Do you talk to yourself?  Not out loud, no.  But in my head? all the time!

3.  What is your current relationship status? Married for 19 years
4.  Do you have a garden?  No...but I wish I did.  I keep meaning to plant one.
5.  What is your favorite licorice flavor?  I only like RE VINES.  I love getting the BIG tub that they sell at Costco!

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Friday, June 17, 2011

my Saturday

I'm mentally trying to prepare for my Saturday.  The schedule is killer.  It scares me a bit, but I'm sure I've had worse.  Rich is working an overtime, and so it's all on me to tackle this day's demanding schedule.

Here is glimpse into my day:

9:00am  Mommy & Me "tea" with Aislynn's Daisy troop.
11:00am Kung Fu lesson for Aislynn, Andrew & A.J.  
1:00pm  drop off Avery at a birthday party
3:00pm  drop off Alex & A.J. at a birthday party
3:00pm  pick up Avery
5:00pm  pick up Alex & A.J.
5:15pm   drop off Aislynn at a birthday party
7:00pm  drop off Alex to another birthday party
7:00pm  pick up Aislynn
10:00pm  pick up Alex

(did I remember to pick up everyone? LOL)

As you can see, I have a few conflicting times where I'm supposed to be in two places at once.  I have yet to figure this out, but hopefully I can pick up or take someone a few minutes late.  Either that, or find someone I can carpool with.  It's always a challenge when I have to be in two places at once!

Of course I left out the routine stuff, like breakfast-lunch-dinner-snacks-brush teeth-laundry-clean up, etc ... and I have a few errands to run, including buying Andrew some new tennis shoes (I keep putting that off and the poor kid is running around in shoes with holes at the bottom - he's very hard on his shoes!)

I blog about this schedule NOT to complain...but just so that I'll remember these crazy days!  I love these crazy days, complete with near-impossible schedules.  I'm only thankful that there are no soccer or baseball games scheduled on Saturday!

But even if there were, you know I'd be able to pull it off :)


Me with Tony & Audriana at Tony's 5th grade violin recital
June 2002
check out how long my hair was!

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

it's coming...

It's almost here!

We have had a few warm days this past week.  It starts out a bit gloomy in the mornings, but then heats up in the afternoon.  The typical "June Gloom" of southern California.  Once July hits, it should be HOT all day long.  July, August and September are typically our Summer Months, and we spend a lot of time at the beach and at the pool.

Until summer is officially upon us, the kids are enjoying our inflatable backyard pool.  I mainly got this for Aria, so that she could splash around and "swim" - being that she's just two years old, this is a nice pool for her to play in.  But of course, the big kids like to get in it, too :)

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This weekend I am participating in the following blog hops:

Friend Finding Fridays  Let's Just Give It Away

Surf'n Saturday Blog Hop!

clean up: kids on aisle 4

Today I went to The Container Store.  And for those who know me, you know this is one of my most favorite places to be.  I love all the organizational "stuff" they have in this store.  My  mind goes wild as I look around and visualize all the neat ways I can organize my house.  I always have so much fun in this store...

But today?  Not so much.

Why not?  Because I brought these three with me:

Oh, I know what you are thinking.  So sweet, their smiling faces.  Well, don't let those angelic smiles fool you.  These three can be true terrors when they are together.  Especially when they are in a "boring" store, shopping with mom.

Aria wasn't so much trouble, actually.  She was sitting in the cart, so really, how much trouble could she be?  If you ignore her whining "When we go home? I want to go! I want to go home nowwwww!" over and over and over again, well...she wasn't all that bad.  

But the other two?  OMGosh.  They were awful.  They kept annoying each other ("stop looking at me!")  They kept touching each other ("stop touching me!")  and whenever I would stop to look at something, Aislynn and Andrew would take off down the aisles, chasing each other, pushing each other, laughing and carrying on.   Touching all the things on display.   Seriously, I looked like an out of control mom.  Not that I lost my temper - I didn't.  I was calm for the most part.  But I looked like one of those moms who has no control over her children.  

REALITY CHECK:  Today, I WAS one of those moms!

Contrary to popular belief,  I do not always have it all together.  These kids...they don't always listen to me.  In fact, sometimes they totally ignore me.  

Yes, that frustrates me.

  • Sometimes I yell and lose my temper, although not often in public.
  • I've been known to reach over and give them a pinch to get them to mind.  I do this while out and about, because a swat on the bum could get the CPS called on me.

They listen to their father WAY better than they listen to me. Rich can get control of the room with a simple clap of the hands.  Everyone stops the yelling, the fighting, the running around -- and all eyes are on Daddy.  Attention!  Just like that.

Yes, I'm a bit envious of that.  I wish I had that same effect on them.  But, that's not my role here, I suppose.  I'm the nurturer, the soft one.  I'm Mommy.  I'm okay with that, for the most part. 

One good thing came out of shopping with these three today:  I didn't spend all that much time in the store - we left early because they were making it miserable -  so naturally I didn't buy as much.  They saved us money.  That's a good thing, right?

Okay, so on a happier note, Afton took this picture of me the other morning as I was driving her and Audriana to school.  I'm looking pretty sporty in my car, don't you think?  This is NOT the 15 passenger van, but rather my "FUN" car that I zip around in when I don't have all the kids with me.  

All moms should have their own FUN car, don't you think?  We deserve it :)

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

U.S. Marine needs our prayers!

This is Cody with his cousin and little sister on the day he was deployed to Afghanistan.   His mother is a friend of mine, and I remember how anxious she was on this day.  Sending your baby off to war cannot be easy.  We prayed for his safety.

They received word on Sunday that Cody was seriously injured out on the field early Sunday morning.    He is in very critical condition. 

He is just 21 years old.  

Please pray for Cody, for his recovery, and that he is comforted by  those caring for him until his mom can be there by his side. It must be very scary to be so hurt and yet not surrounded by family. Please pray for Cody's mother, that she has a safe journey to her son.  As a mother myself, I can only imagine the overwhelming need and desire to be there with my baby when he is so hurt.  

Cody and his mother, Kerri, on the day he was deployed.

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Stalk Hop FridayBassgiraffe's Thoughts Thursday Blog Hop

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

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she sells sea shells

Because we live near the ocean, we go to the beach often.  And whenever we go to the beach, the kids love collecting sea shells.  They spend their time digging, looking for the best shells on the beach.  Each is very proud of his or her collection by the end of the day, having grown attached to all their shells for each one's unique beauty, and of course insist on bringing them all home.  All of them!  And I can never say NO to that, because well...they worked so hard gathering them.  I don't have the heart to make them leave their special shells behind.  So, they come home with us.  Every single time.

Can you  just imagine how many sea shells I have around this house?  

Once these precious shells are home, most end up in a bucket that sits in our garage.  And there they sit, month after month.  

So today I felt especially sorry for these neglected sea shells, and I decided to do something FUN with them.  So we got out our paint and paint brushes.

and we painted us some sea shells!

it was very serious work, as you can see from Andrew's concentration

Aria got busy with the paint, too.  
She loves doing what her older brothers and sisters do!

I painted a few myself ~ couldn't resist, as I love anything crafty.  

When we were through, I asked the kids what they thought we were supposed to do with all these colorful shells?  Andrew suggested putting them in the planters as decorations, and then Aislynn suggested they sell them at their next lemonade stand.  This suggestion got the most excitement.  So I guess that's what we'll be doing in the near future.

for sale

I'm thinking ... ten cents a shell?  What would you pay for them?  
Handcrafted by cute little kids =  Priceless!

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