Monday, October 13, 2014

Owl Hill Nature Sanctuary

Kids are on the last day of Fall Break and after several days of fevers along with tons of rain. It was time to get out of the house! Owl Hill offered a Fall Break day and we took advantage of it. It was a hit with Henry several weeks ago so I knew Evie would enjoy it too. 

My kids need more more exposure to nature and music - two components that are harder to add to their life in an organized way. I loved that the nature guide was available today to teach everyone about tadpoles, feeding goats and pointing the way towards scenic hiking paths.

We had a ball! It was several hours of fun without any crying or whining which if you are a Mama you know that is hard to come by sometimes. 

Evie and Henry were in their element exploring the Fairy Gardens, Beetle Dung and the makeshift pumpkin patch. They may have even been enchanted by the port a potty! It really is the little things in life that get our children excited.

We had a nice picnic and enjoyed the day together. Ladybugs even made an appearance at our picnic. There were just a few other families visiting which was a nice reprieve from the crowded spots all over town. 

I'd say their favorite parts were feeding the goats for Evie and "fishing" for rocks for Henry. Evie loved the goats and Henry loves anything to do with a shovel. 

Dirty, happy kids are the best! Look forward to going back in a few weeks for the next program day at Owl's Creek. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Week in Review

It's been a LONG time since I wrote about an entire week at The Niemeyer Nest. I decided it was time so I can remember these special days forever.

Monday: Both kids go to school on Monday! It's really nice because I can get my house back together from the weekend. Carl is out of town for this entire week so I took the morning off and watched two episodes of Homeland. It was perfect to relax and prepare for the rest of the week. After my show,  I went to Michael's to get supplies for Henry's class Halloween party and then to the library and the YMCA. I came home to finish making dinner to avoid working with an ornery sous chef. Henry gets picked up at 2:30. After I picked him up, we dropped the dinner off for a family with their third baby boy! Sweet little baby! Henry loves a baby! Then we played outside while we waited for sister. Evie gets home at 4:10 and then things really get busy. Monday is homework day in kindergarten so we usually tackle that right away.  Evie had drawn her P person with some bathroom humor -not my favorite but she had a substitute! I decided to let it slide while hoping for a natural consequence at school. We had a horrible thunderstorm and the power went out.

Tuesday: Our power finally came back on at 9:30 right before we left the house. Henry and I headed to a room parent meeting at preschool. He did so well! Last year, it was hard to keep him entertained this year he worked on his Spiderman coloring book and chatted with some friends. A few months makes a BIG difference! After our meeting, it was time for Book Club. We read In the Woods and it was fine but not my favorite. Kim made a delicious quiche and cinnamon bread which was the perfect way to fill my tummy on a rainy morning. We had a terrific discussion and chatted with everyone. Henry and the other children played together while we discussed the book. We left to see a beautiful day had emerged from the rain! It was the perfect time to take a walk and enjoy the warmth of sunshine. We waited for Evie and then made cookies and did some homework again. Evie is doing so great on syllables but sometimes her Southern accent confuses her a bit. I always want to remember her sweet voice saying "axe" with two syllables.

Wednesday: Both kids went to school and I volunteer every Wednesday in Evie's kindergarten class. It's my favorite day of the week! I love being back in the classroom and am amazed at everything these kids are working on in class. Evie's teacher is thrilled to have my help because they do not have assistants in this district! Shocking! I am not sure how she does it but I am happy to help for three hours every Wednesday. Her teacher is so sweet to let me help her and gives me some fun stuff to do since I am a "real teacher" as she refers to me. I helped the kids pick out "just right" books for their book baskets. Ten books for each child took quite some time. I graded some papers for her and helped a struggling student with her initial sounds. I pulled some worksheets and made little books for her. It is just mind-boggling to see the range of student ability in one class. The time flies by so quickly just like it did when I was a teacher. Of course, I stay for lunch with my favorite kindergartner! After volunteering, I usually meet a friend for a quick lunch, we went to Bruegger's this week. I came home to pick up the house and work on some laundry before picking up Henry. Evie got off the bus and we played with the boys a bit. Evie and Christian had made plans at school to play that afternoon. Pretty cute! I do not usually cook when Carl is gone but breakfast for dinner was on the menu. We had a carpet picnic in the den. Our night was going well until bath time. I got frustrated with Evie and then felt horrible about it. Mom guilt is rough!

Thursday: Henry stays home with me on Thursdays. Of course those days are special too! We met some friends from church at Pinkerton Park. Henry and JT had a great time playing while Libby resolved me of my mom guilt! I LOVE a good friend! It started raining so we had to cut our play date short. Henry and I ran some errands and then came home for a bit. We noticed Evie had forgotten her library book so we took it to her school. Not something I want her to get used to but I know she loves library day and really treasures selecting her own book to bring home. The parent volunteer was very accommodating when I told her I felt like a helicopter parent. She laughed and told me that is our life all day every day. It really resonated with me because this mom appears completely different from me culturally. I was in jeans and a t-shirt and she was wearing a traditional Middle Eastern head covering. Moms are the same though- we all want what is best for our children even when it could have been a great learning experience. The sun was out again so we made a beeline for the park and ran into a friend from church. This does not happen much since our church is in the next town. Rachel and I caught up while Henry played with her Henry. Rachel has six kids! I am in awe of how she manages every day life since I find two children hard sometimes.  We came home to wait for Evie  and then spent some time together. Evie and Henry had a babysitter while I headed out with a few friends to hear Glennon Doyle from Momastery. What a fun night! It was my second time to hear her speak and it was just as inspiring. Lots of good take aways! We were starving and decided to go out for Mexican afterwards. I stayed up way too late!

Friday: Morning came way too early. Both kids were up before 7 which is unusual especially when Carl is out of town. Evie and Henry were excited to get started on their Fall Break! I was too! We had a lazy morning at home. Rainy days are perfect for staying home to drink hot chocolate, play school, build forts and make crafts. Both kids were content to play and enjoy being home. We decided to sneak out between rain storms for some Chick fil A. Evie had not been to Chick  fil A in two months since starting kindergarten. It's really been a terrific day with my kiddos! Of course, it would have been nice to have pretty weather but I really appreciated the relaxed pace of the day spending time with each other. We are now anxiously awaiting Carl's return and then these kiddos are off to bed. It's been a LONG week!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Weekend Wrap-up: Pig Roast and Frozen

We had a spectacular fall weekend! I adore this time of year in Middle Tennessee - so much to do and gorgeous weather.

Friday: Pizza for dinner and a dance party is our end of the week tradition. Everyone is usually ready for bed early including Mama. 

Saturday: We went to Home Depot for the kids workshop. Both kids loved creating their own EMS truck and climbing into the firetruck. Fire safety month has already provided us with five fire hats and the month is still young. Carl worked in the yard all afternoon and the kids played nicely while I did a few things around the house. We made pumpkin muffins and they were delicious. Henry's friend Elliot invited us to a pig roast and it was a blast! We knew a few families from preschool and just from living here for so long now. Carl and I never pass up a chance to eat BBQ. Delicious! There was TONS of food and drink. The kids had the run of the yard and enjoyed themselves. Carl and I were able to chat with each other and our friends. There are some good parts to children getting older. Finishing conversations is definitely at the top of the list! What a fun night and it may have inspired us to have a big party at our house. 

Sunday: Henry slept late and Evie was up early. Not sure why they cannot both sleep late or both wake early. We skipped church and I was sorry by 10 when Evie and I had a little come to Jesus meeting. I can only imagine the years ahead with my Evie! Motherhood is filled with challenges. Carl and Evie went to Frozen on Ice. Evie picked Carl several weeks ago to take her because "Daddy never gets to take me anywhere fun." Such a sweet girl! I love that she thought out her decision so well. Henry picked the mall for his date with me. How did I get so lucky?  He loves to play in the play area and of course take a ride on the carousel. Our next stop was for milkshakes and Halloween decorations. Henry picked out a good pumpkin to get us started on our collection. People never just have one pumpkin anymore! Henry fell asleep on the way home and ended up feeling a bit under the weather this evening. Poor little buddy is having a time with his allergies. We made Asian Lettuce Wraps for dinner that were amazing. I am taking dinner half to a family with a new baby so it is always nice to cook in batches. 

That wraps up our fabulous fall weekend! Hope your week is gets off to a terrific start.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up: Birthday Party and a Bonfire

It was a super fun weekend! Just goes by too quickly.

Friday: Henry had a Walk a Thon at preschool and I helped with that for a bit. He is so adorable with his friends. Evie was thrilled to come home for the weekend. Me too - kindergarten is no joke. We are all ready for some down time. Carl grilled and we enjoyed a nice dinner without rushing for bedtime. 

Saturday: We took a long family walk to the park and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. Fall in Middle Tennessee is amazing and makes the harsh winter (harsh to me - maybe not harsh for a New Yorker.) Later, we headed to the Onello girls birthday party. Three girls with September birthdays make for a super fun celebration. It was at a gymnastics place and my kids had a ball. Best part of a birthday party is the cake and their cake was amazing. I should have had an extra piece. After the party, we went to their house for dinner and playtime. Evie and Abby have been friends since they were in our bellies so it's always fun to play together.

Sunday: Everyone slept in a bit but we still made it to church. Evie and Henry went to Sunday school for the first time. They loved it and so did we because adults can skip over to Starbucks which is such a nice treat. We had a lazy afternoon before heading to the church bonfire! Hands down one of our favorite church events. Evie and Henry were super excited to see their friends, make 'smores and hang out by the fire.  Two late nights in a row is still a lot for our kiddos but it was a great time. Fingers crossed everyone sleeps in tomorrow morning!

Hope y'all had a super weekend! It's almost October - my very favorite month. Cannot wait for pumpkins, crunchy leaves, trick or treat, festivals and of course adorable costumes. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thoughts on Kindergarten!

We are a month into kindergarten! It seems like a terrific time to jot down my thoughts so I can look back later to see how much has changed.

Teacher: Evie LOVES her teacher! I think she is the perfect mix of sweet and strict. She pushes Evie to work hard but also encourages her as person. I think she has excellent communication and is welcoming to parents in the classroom. Her teacher is a mom and gets what life is like with young children. I think she is the perfect teacher for Evie!What a wonderful answer to my prayers for Evie. I am so thankful for this teacher and the influence she will have on Evie this year. 

Bus: Evie loved the bus until last week and now she has decided she wants to be a car rider. She has decided the grass is greener but I am not ready to sit in car line yet. I am pretty sure she will change her mind again. Evie does love sitting with her friends from our neighborhood on the bus so that makes it seem like a treat. Henry is a big fan of the bus stop. He hangs out with the little brothers and brings a toy to pass the time. Henry announces the bus to everyone when he hears it coming. I like the bus stop too because it is a wonderful opportunity to connect with the neighbors. It sure is convenient since the bus stop is our front yard. 

Time: It is a LONG day. Evie leaves at 8 and gets home a few minutes after 4. The first few weeks it felt like the bus would never arrive. All of us have adjusted to the long days! Evie is tired by Thursday and exhausted by Friday but she is hanging in there. I still miss her a lot but am getting more accomplished while she is gone. Henry and I are really enjoying our time together too. He loves our "date days." Tuesday and Thursday are my two favorite days because I get to spend my days with the cutest three year old out there. Henry and I go to the zoo, the dirt pit, parks, story time and hang out with friends. We have a ball but definitely miss our Evie. I decided not to do any extra curricular activities this semester to allow Evie the time to adjust to her new routine. It has been wonderful to have lazy afternoons playing outside, reading books, drawing, or even watching our favorite shows.  

Homework: YIKES - I was not prepared for this much homework but I think it keeps me in the loop. Evie is really learning a lot. Her teacher creates a worksheet each week that reviews the skills for the week and then Evie has to cut out pictures for the letter of the week too. She reviews her flash cards every night too. Henry likes to do that for her and he holds them up to check her reading skills. 

Pace: Kindergarten is not what it used to be - I taught first grade for 7 years and still find this shocking! Evie is already writing and sorting rhyming words, counting syllables, solving equations and counting higher than my first graders could towards the end of the year. I volunteer in the classroom and see first hand that the ability levels are all over the board. These kids sit at tables and work like first graders for six or seven hours. It is truly unbelievable but the kids can do it! Evie keeps asking when she can play in the kitchen center. I told her I was not sure that is going to happen. Evie responded that there should not be a kitchen in the room if they cannot play with it. 

Friends: Evie is making lots of new friends and comes home with stories about them every day. Her feelings have been hurt and I am sure she has hurt feelings too. It seems like it is already becoming boys play with boys while the girls play with girls. Evie has always had lots of boy friends so it funny to hear her talk about boys as if they are from another planet. Campbell and Christian are excluded from her new preference for girls because they are still her best friends even if they are boys. She also likes the boys in her class but not the other boys in the kindergarten. Are you confused? We are too!

Lunch: Evie has bought her lunch twice but prefers for me to pack it. That works for me because canned fruit, frozen pizza and overcooked veggies are not nearly as nutritious as her ham sandwich, bell peppers with hummus and berries. She is packing a dessert now and thinks that is a real treat since dessert was not allowed in preschool. Dessert is a few gummy bears, a granola bar or a cookie.

Influence: Evie has been to preschool for years but this is the first time she has spent so much time away from me. It has been interesting to see how much she has changed. I am getting more sass and she seems like she has grown up so much in the last few weeks. Evie is being reminded a lot that we do everything without complaining or arguing even when we are in kindergarten! Sometimes I laugh at the things she has learned and sometimes it makes me sad to see her lose her innocence.  She did not know about divorce, adoption or even a friend that was different from her until now. Evie is embracing all the new changes and has become such a big girl. 

We are so proud of our Evie and look forward to seeing what this year brings for Evie and our family!