Saturday, April 30, 2016

Gift Season!

It's time for gift-giving season! I know it isn't Christmas, but let's face it...May is FULL of gift-giving. We have Mother's Day, Teacher Appreciation, bridal gifts, bridesmaid gifts, and graduation gifts on the horizon! I try to keep the chatter about Keep Collective to a minimum on here, but I wanted to put a bug in your ear about it today for upcoming events!

If you'd like to browse our online catalog, click HERE. Contact me for more info!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Summer 2016 List!

Every summer for a while now I have made a list of fun to-dos for our family. It gives us some ideas on days when we're so bored and it gives our summer a little structure. This summer is SLAP FULL {there's a Southern expression for you!} of structure. We are so busy we don't have a ton of time for anything else, but I HATE that and want to make the most of our days and enjoy the time I have with my kiddos. I'm working all summer long. It isn't REAL work, but I'm the director of our preschool's summer camp this year so we're busy five out of ten weeks of summer just with that! We also have several trips planned, a week of VBS, two weeks of kids' camps at a local museum, and a week of baseball camp planned. And then school starts back AUGUST 2nd!!!! Can you believe that nonsense?

Our summer list begins May 1st and ends September 1st because I like to try to make our summer longer than the school system thinks that it is. It's 105* here for six months so summer should last longer than two months. are the things we'll be marking off the list this summer! I'm happy to share the non-water-marked version of this, just shoot me an email and I'll send it your way. And I highly recommend making these lists for your family. It's always fun to hear what your kids want to do and it's a nice way to set some goals for the time you'll have off!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Strawberry Pickin'

Last Wednesday, I went with Will's class to the strawberry patch! This is only his second field trip, but I've been to this particular farm four point six million bajillion times. I have the field trip memorized. It's fun to go with my babies, though! We had a great morning! {It also happened to be a preschool teacher work day and I have to say, it was SO much easier to spend the afternoon working when I had the morning to play!}

We started our morning picking strawberries in the field. Will got the hang of it very quickly! He filled his container up in no time at all {and ate the whole container by himself the same day!}. 

Next stop? Playground and ice cream!

Last stop was the  barn to see the animals followed by a wagon ride!

{This is Porkchop. Last year, he was small!}

Such a fun day with my little guy! Can't wait to take James back on a Saturday. We need more strawberries since someone ate them all up!

Friday, April 15, 2016


I am well aware that I haven't blogged in eons. Anna reminded me I'm supposed to blog 15 times this month and I've blogged TWICE. My computer is killin' me, Smalls! It is making it very, VERY hard for me to upload any pictures. I have deleted a bajillion things and it still insists that my hard drive is almost full. *Sigh* I'm trying! New York Part 2 is coming, as is Spring Break!

A few months ago I told you that Will had been referred by our preschool to have his speech evaluated. We did that and for six weeks we worked on our own at home perfecting his St- and Sp- sounds. While those improved immensely in the six weeks {and without much intervention by me, really!} he was not a huge fan of working on those with me. I found an iPhone app called Articulation Station that we used in our car {thank you, Beth, for the suggestion!} while we waited to pick up James. It gave us the blends that we were supposed to work on, but it got bonus points because it kept up with the time we spent working and how many he said correctly! It wasn't free, but I thought it was worth it. 

This post isn't going to entertain 99% of you, but I do like to have all of our information so that I can look back. I'm obviously not going to share ALL of the details with you, but I want to remember the experience.

While I was in New York, his Sunday School teacher who is also the preschool sped coordinator called to ask me how things had been going. We met after I returned and because I felt that he just wasn't getting as much as he needed from me, we had a formal evaluation made a few weeks ago. It was such an interesting experience. I was asked questions about his birth, his social development, and his physical development since birth. 

While I was answering questions to determine if he was developing appropriately for his age, he was being evaluated. The process was so interesting to watch. My favorite part was that when they tested his vocabulary, he blew them out of the water. They had a flip-chart that had four pictures per page. She would say a vocabulary word and he had to point to the picture of that word. For instance, for eruption, he should point to a picture of a volcano erupting. He kept going and going and going. Some of them were guesses, but a lot of them he knew. They stopped when he was in the 14-16 year old age range. Smart boy!

He also had to be evaluated by the school psychologist {it's just part of it}. She made him do all kinds of tricks! My favorite for this part was his answer for the question, "How are apples and bananas the same?" She was looking for: they are both fruit. Will said, "They aren't the same. One is juicy. One isn't." Cue hysterical laughter from everyone in the room. CLEARLY there isn't a problem with creativity or vocabulary. {And just for fun, "juicy" sounds like "deucey."}

SO. That was a few weeks ago before Spring Break. On Monday I got a call to schedule a meeting about whether or not he would be placed. Eddie joined us today and we met to discuss his results. It was VERY strange to be on the parent side of an IEP. I was part of an IEP team when I taught high school so I sat in on hours and hours of IEP meetings. Glad to report that my IEP meeting was a very POSITIVE thing because I've seen some very sad IEP meetings that just feel very hopeless. We met with the speech therapist, school psychologist, school representative {the pre-k principal}, and a pre-k teacher today. Will won't go to this school next year {he's staying at the school where I teach - it's private}, but he is being served by the public school system.

According to the school psychologist, he is a very average to above-average boy! He was scored based on cognition, communication, physical development, adaptive behavior development, and social/emotional development. He is on the high end of average in everything except communication. Want to know something funny? He's ABOVE average in communication. He has a lot to say and a huge vocabulary, but those sounds are holding him back! That was GREAT news to me! He's such a smart boy!

The speech therapist reported that, "He exhibits a severe articulation disorder characterized by substitutions, omissions, and phonological processes. It makes it difficult for him to communicate thoughts and ideas in a way that others can understand. His phonological delays negatively impact phonological awareness skills and pre-reading skills. He does exhibit more errors in connected speech than at the word level and speech intelligibility decreases in connected utterances." Whew! I am a little bit sad that he's classified as "severe" because I'm feeling guilty for not having gotten him in before now, but I do feel like we're on the right path! {A phonological processing disorder involves patterns of sound errors. Will substitutes all sounds made in the back of the mouth like "K" and "G" for those made in the front like "T" and "D." He says "Dames" for "James" and "Tup" for "Cup."}

The plan is that Will will start speech therapy two mornings a week - starting next week - to work on clusters, strident sounds, and K, G, and L sounds in words. There are a TON more sounds to work on, but that's what she has written down to start with. I'm so excited to see him make some improvements, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sad to hear that baby voice go. It's time, though. He's going to rock speech!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April Goals...

Doing some goal-setting to get things done around here. Life has just gotten busier and busier. I don't like being busy. I like being able to relax. BUT. We have a ton to do and it isn't going to get done with me relaxing. So here goes!

1. 100 miles on FitBit. Eeeek! MOVE!
2. Read 4 books.
3. Read 2 chapter books to the boys.
4. Finish Gilmore Girls.
5. Finish X-Files Season 2.
6. Finish Blue Bloods Season 4.
7. Read through April of The Bible in a Year.
8. Blog 15 times.
9. Make our Summer Bucket List.
10. Close SIX parties for Jamberry. {AHHH!}
11. Close THREE socials for Keep.
12. Get summer camps lined up for boys.
13. Sort through and remove ALL yard sale stuff from office.
14. Organize master closet.
15. Lose 5 pounds.
16. 64 ounces of water per day.
17. Front porch makeover! Get it done!

Monday, April 4, 2016

New York, New York, Part 1.

Back in the fall, Mom and I started chatting about taking a trip somewhere. We'd looked at a brochure for a local college that hosts trips for anyone and had discussed doing a short trip in April to London. It sounded really fun because it was completely planned out, but ultimately we decided not to do it. This was my first {long} trip away from my boys and may have even been the longest I had been away from Eddie since we'd been married! We settled on New York for a variety of reasons. We have a few friends that we wanted to see there and we'd been before so we knew a lot about it and {sort of} knew what we wanted to see and do. Mom has been MANY times to New York with Sonny, but I had only been once in 2002. It was also easier to get to and a quicker trip. I had to figure out help with the boys for school for a few days so we wanted something that made everyone's lives easier. We didn't even decide to go until January so we threw it together at almost the last minute.

We flew out Saturday, March 5th, from Jacksonville, Florida around 11:30 AM. We wanted a late enough flight that we could drive down that morning and an early enough flight to still be able to do something later that evening in New York. We LOVED flying out of Jacksonville. I've flown out of that airport before, but y' is just SO much easier to get through than Atlanta. Wow. No crowds! Easy, peasy! 

The flight up was uneventful and we got into New York early! All suitcases accounted for, we headed outside to find our car that I had booked. Cars took some figuring out for this trip. Everyone has a different opinion on what car service, cab, etc. to take and we tried several different options. From LaGuardia to our hotel we used Carmel Limo. It was EASY to use. I booked the car through their website the night before called them when we landed and they found us right away. It took us about 20-25 minutes to get to our hotel.

We stayed at Hudson New York on West 58th Street. It was actually a GREAT location. We were about a block away from Columbus Circle and Central Park, eighteen blocks away from the Museum of Natural History, and seven blocks away from the Gershwin Theater. We walked to and from all of the touristy places. The main parts of the hotel were very modern. Our room was sort of sparsely decorated and it was small for other parts of the world, but Mom said it was a large NYC hotel room. We aren't sure whether our room was a handicapped room or not, but our bathroom was large and the shower seemed to be a handicapped shower. I thought the hotel was fine and we would stay here again. It seemed clean and well kept. Aside from the putrid green color that seemed to be their signature, it was great!

After we arrived and checked into our hotel, we took our first walk and went into the very corner of Central Park. After we'd wandered a bit we got onto the subway {!!!} and managed to take two different trains to Lib and Bobby's apartment at the other end of the island. Their new apartment is just a few blocks from the 9/11 Memorial. 

Because the subways are open 24/7, they use the weekends to do any work they need to do so the train station closest to their apartment was closed and we got off at the station before and did some walking. I was using my phone's GPS to locate their apartment and as we were nearing their street, my phone died! I tried to pull up my email that had her address on Mom's phone and MOM's phone died!!! I knew which street it was and thought that I knew which apartment building it was so we walked until we found that and went into that building to ask the doorman to call them. He called and the people in the apartment I told him said they didn't know us. HAHAHAHA! I asked him if I could just plug my phone in for a minute {Mom had a charger} and show him the address so that he could help us. We did that and a few minutes later we headed to the building next door to the one we were in. We called Lib's apartment, she happily let us in, and we all had a good laugh about it! We successfully navigated the subway but failed on foot!

We had the best time catching up with Lib and Bobby. Poor Bobby was a champ to put up with three ladies talking about people and places he knew nothing about. {He later declined to go to dinner with us...we wore him out!} They'd just moved into their new apartment the weekend before and we loved being their first guests to stop by and visit. Lib was thrilled with her kitchen and had a spread for us when we arrived. The whole thing was spacious for NYC living and seemed to be in a great area! Check out their view!

Later, the girls walked to Le District for dinner. Le District is a large market that also has restaurants inside of it. It's similar to the Eataly concept, but French. I had Steak Frites (flank steak, salad, and fries) and it was delicious. Mom and Lib both had soup and salad. It wasn't at all crowded when we were there and the food was great and the service was good as well! We enjoyed dinner, chatted a bit longer, and then headed out because Mom and I were exhausted. It was after 10PM so Lib suggested we try out Uber and we used her app to get a car. It picked us up in under 5 minutes! After a short drive back to our hotel, we fell into bed and slept soundly! We had a great first day! Total walking: 4.87 miles.

Day Two {Sunday, March 6th!} was all about Brooklyn. We slept in a little bit and then spent the morning getting more acquainted with the area around our hotel. We walked back to Central Park and looked around a bit more, too. We had to get BACK on the subway again on Sunday morning and ride it {I think we changed trains once} all the way out to Brooklyn. Again, we were successful! We arrived in Brooklyn a little early so we spent a little time waiting for Mary and Jeff and Jeff's service dog {Fred? Frank? Mom couldn't ever remember his name! It was actually Earl} to arrive. They met us and we walked down near the water and just wandered around until we found a place that looked promising for lunch. We found a place called Atrium Dumbo that I thought was so neat! It looked teensy from the outside but was large inside and they had an interior wall that was completely covered in plants. It was beautiful. They showed us the watering system behind the plants. We saw several more walls like this in NYC while we were there. So interesting how they treat the space that they have. We're so used to large areas and spacious living! I ordered the Croque Monsieur and it was delicious! Everyone else had big cobb salads. They looked good, too! We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the area near the Brooklyn Bridge and visiting. We'd never met Jeff before so it was fun to chat with him about his work. They're planning to try to move to Asheville after Mary graduates {she's in grad school at Columbia} and finishes up her time in NYC. They're both ready to be done! We decided New York would be a hard city to live in if you're not from there. Atlanta is completely different and that's what they're used to.

Mid-afternoon we headed back into the city and we rested for a little bit at our hotel before heading out for dinner. We found an Italian restaurant right across the street from us called  Masseria Dei Vini. I had Ravioli Di Angelina - homemade cheese ravioli with tomato sauce - and Mom had Triangoli Ai Gamberi E Carciofi - homemade ravioli with shrimp and artichoke in a light tomato sauce. It was VERY good. It came with a bread basket as well that we devoured while we waited. It was a beautiful restaurant - I felt under dressed in jeans and Uggs - and the waiters were definitely Italian. I would go back again! It was a bonus that it was directly across the street from our hotel!

{This was by 4:30. The New Yorkers WALK. I am struggling to get 10,000 steps a day if I don't consciously think about going out and exercising.}

{Much to Eddie's dismay, I have started a collection of these. First, Animal Kingdom. Now, New York. We LOVED the Starbucks-on-every-corner concept. Lol! We had our favorites!}

Our second day was slower-paced but still very lovely! We enjoyed it! It was nice to spend two days seeing a few things from our friends' perspectives! Total walking on Day 2: 4.79 miles. More soon!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Soppy Easter!

I am going to be doing some back-pedaling this week on the blog because Mom and I went on a trip March 5-9 and I still haven't shared the pictures from that. My computer is FULL and I'm having a hard time getting my pictures to upload without crashing my computer so THAT is on the list this week. Backup, delete, upload!

Our Easter weekend was so much fun! It was SO much better than last year. (Ugh. Stomach bug for one last year. At least it was just one but it lasted for three days.) We had a great weekend, despite the FLOOD that we've lived through. (Not really a flood...just almost completely constant rain.)

On Friday we had our eggs hunts at school. I got to go to Will's party for a few minutes and watch them hunt eggs in their classroom.

After lunch at Barberitos, we headed {in the rain} to James' school for his egg hunt. His teacher reserved the cafeteria for them to hunt and it wound up being great. They could run {as could a certain preschooler and his best buddy who are UNBELIEVABLY wild together} and there was plenty of room! Plus, they fed them afterwards and it wasn't a mess in the classroom. We wound up checking James out at 2:30 when it was over {eek! we even walked right past the principal...but seriously, they were not getting those kids to do anything after that wild party!} and then we got home and there was a truancy letter in the mailbox for us. HAHAHAHAHAHA! {Never fear. He has LOTS of missed days this year, but all but 2 have doctor's excuses. It was just a reminder, not a notice of a meeting or anything.}

On Saturday we hit the ground running. The Easter Bunny visited our house overnight {we do the Easter Bunny the day before Easter because we go to early church AND I want it to be separate from the real reason we celebrate Easter...} The boys got lots of fun things for summer - new bathing suits, new Crocs, swim shirts, and a few new movies and books. Our Easter Bunny typically brings us things we'll need for summer that Mama was going to buy anyway.

{the egg-laying chicken has been the hit of the party...he says it's pooping, though. BOYS!}

We headed to our church's Easter egg hunt right after opening our Easter baskets. I was in charge of the cookie decorating station. Do you know what happens when you put a germaphobe in charge of a food station? I was a nervous wreck when it was all said and done! Whew! The best way to do it is put a cookie on a plate, scoop icing on the back of a spoon, and let them keep that spoon to lick. I handled ALL icing. I swapped out a few candy-scooping spoons, but overall I think it went great! {If you've never been around me, you may not know the height at which my germaphobe-ness reaches. I am off-the-charts.} The boys had a GREAT time hunting eggs {inside!}, singing, bouncing, and sliding.

We spent the evening at a friend's house for a "baby birthday party" as the boys kept calling it. It was our friends' one year old boy. It was a small shindig, but the food was DELISH and the boys had a great time playing with their buddies. {We have little stair-steps. B was born in June 2009, James in October 2009, T in June 2011, and Will in February 2012.}

On Sunday morning, my handsome boys and I headed off to early church. We were so thankful we went then because the 11 o'clock service was standing room only. Yikes! After Sunday School, we came home for Easter lunch with some of our family and a few friends. Everyone brought a side, Eddie and I had meat and dessert, and it was great time! 

Eddie and I each chose a sofa after everyone was gone and we slept for 2.5 hours! The boys slept 0 hours or minutes, but they rested with a movie so that was nice. We were wiped out! Here are pictures from Easters-past. I did not take a whole family picture this year, but I should have. Eddie did NOT wear the same khaki suit. Check out what Will's wearing and Eddie was his twin. I matched James in a green floral dress. 








We had such a good weekend! Hope your Easter was nice, too!