Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Who needs apple picking when you can climb and play?

One of my favorite things to do in the fall is to pack up and head to the East to a cute apple growing community for all of their fresh baked apple deliciousness, enjoy the cool weather, drink fresh apple cider, and, since having kids, watch them run around and play. 
Last year we didn't get up there much and I was really bummed. 
Next to Halloween, it's one thing I look forward to the most in the fall. 
This fall has been so busy so far, and most of the shops close down for the season between Halloween and Thanksgiving before the snow comes and the cut your own Christmas tree lots open. So I decided, what the heck and this past Sunday the kids and I packed up and went on an adventure to check out a farm we have only been to once in December once the season was almost completely over.
They had a blast on all of the new and the improved stuff that they had available for kids. 
From the miniature village with a sheriff's station, school, shops, a beautiful little church complete with pews, and more to a maze with areas to climb, to swings, slides and even a decommissioned boat, Moose and Squirrel had a blast.
They were coated in so many layers of dirt from running, falling, and the occasional temper tantrum that they left dirt marks on the bathroom floor of our house when we got home. 
All of our shoes are still coated in several layers of dirt 3 days later. 
With my minions, the dirtier you are, the more fun you're having. SO you know they had a ton of fun.
I spent the time just following them through all of the different areas, making sure they stayed safe, were polite, and taking as many non-blurry pictures as was human;y possible.

We ended up leaving without any apple products on this trip, but we did leave with enough memories to last us until the next time we go and are able to make even more.

Kindergarten, birthday parties and babywearing, OH MY... an update on life lately

Holy cow has it been a crazy last few weeks.
Moose got moved into a Montessori Kindergarten class and has been doing great.
We had parent-teacher conferences on October 7th and he is above and beyond where he needs to be so early in the school year.
The teacher's only negative remark is that he likes to talk, and show how much he knows, so he has to be reminded to use an inside voice, do his work quietly, and raise his hand. Which doesn't surprise me since we have been working on those kinds of things at home with him for a long time.
Moose has 2 volumes: loud and louder.
And when he knows about something, he likes to blurt out the answer to show just how much he knows and to get the acknowledgement of just how smart he is.
He's a smarty pants and likes to hear others tell him.
Anyway, it has been a great move for him and he is making some friendships that will hopefully last him a nice long time.

In between getting him into kindergarten and settled, helping him do homework, and all of our other daily craziness, I spent the last few weeks preparing for Moose's epic Harry Potter themed 5th birthday party, which took place on October 8th.
It was no easy fete hand carving wand gifts, preparing a "Prisoner of Azkaban" themed photo booth,  creating a dementor from scratch with a dollar tree plastic skull, "creepy cloth" and random items found around the house, and lots of other things.
I have been a crazy bundle of stress trying to get everything put together and perfect for the big day as to not disappoint my little wizards, but my Wizarding World loving friends and family.
In the end, the party went off with only a few flaws, but the kids had a great time, the food tasted great, and I got to see all my hard work in action.
I'm thrilled it's over though.

Last week, Squirrel and I (with a guest appearance from Moose and our puppy Hagrid) participated in a couple of great scavenger hunts in honor or International Babywearing Week (IBW), hosted by Risaroo Baby Carriers and Risaroo Wovens facebook groups. We had some good laughs, some great snuggles, and great adventures.
Through out IBW, I entered lots of great giveaways from some amazing babywearing companies, and then Monday evening, I got the honor of purchasing my first Cari Slings woven wrap for just the cost of shipping. I am very excitedly awaiting it's arrival to try out a short wrap to see if it will make a quick carry option for when we are on the go.

Now with Halloween hovering in the near future, my focus has gone from party planning to cloak making for Moose and Squirrel to wear when they dress up as Hogwarts students in a mere 19 days and creating Disney masterpieces for me (and possibly the boys) to wear when we head to The Happiest Place on Earth (aka Disneyland) next month!

I swear, life seemed to move so fast before Moose started school, but the last few months have literally flown by.

I have some great products to share in a few days once I can get some good action shots, so be on the lookout for those!

That's all for now, so I'll leave you with a few fun pictures from the party and a couple of favorites from IBW.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Update on kindergarten evaluations

It has been a crazy few weeks.
I met with Moose's teacher on September 1, happy birthday to me, to talk about our reasons behind wanting to have him evaluated and possibly moved up to kindergarten.
Unexpectedly, the meeting went great.
She had noticed a few things with him that showed the potential to be ready for moving up.
I set up a date to bring him in to have her start evaluations and we were on our way.
His first day of evaluations went great and his next day was set for the following Wednesday (after a long holiday break from school).
It felt like "hurry up and wait" to get an answer of find out any information for that matter.
I knew his first session has gone well, but not really how well.
And I had no clue on his second session as he had class directly after and parent's aren't allowed in the room when the evaluation is going on.

Yesterday I got to meet with the principal and his teacher to go over the results and see what our options were, if any.
It went better than I could have expected.
I was hoping for the best. To hear them say that he is bright, caring, mature enough, etc to go on to kindergarten and the district approves the switch.
But I was definitely preparing for the worst.
To have them either say that the maturity wasn't there yet (which would be ridiculous compared to his classmates in preschool who were in the age bracket to go straight to kindergarten) or that his is ready for kindergarten, but the district denied the move.
I knew what my moves would be, who I was going to next and that we would end up with either Moose in Kindergarten where he belonged, or back in his preschool with his teacher from last year who would be able to help him continue to grow.
I knew, no matter how nice his Transitional Kindergarten teacher was, he would not be staying in a class where the teacher admits she has nothing left to teach him, just working on a few things like remembering to raise his hand and not interrupting.

So yesterday I was left surprised and thrilled that not only did the fight I had prepared myself for NOT have to take place, but the district offered us three different options to pick from. THREE! 
I went from preparing to fight a district, to having to decide what program would be the best for his future.
In the end, we decided that a Montessori program at his current school would most like benefit him and his personality the best.
Today I get to do a small tour of the classroom and see how it works for a little bit.

To say I am thrilled is an understatement.
I can't wait to get an idea of what he is going to be doing in the near future.

Now is the wait to find out when they are going to move him up to the next level.

I'll update again after today.   

Monday, August 29, 2016

Moose's first day of school and the fight for his education

Moose had his first day of school almost 2 weeks ago. 
It went great, no tears from any of us (me, Moose or Squirrel) and he has been excited to go every day since then. He even asks why he can't go on the weekend.
Despite it all being seemingly perfect, we were left wondering when the evaluations we were told and read about would be done. Then back to school night came and left more concerns about what this school year could hold for him and his education. 
Moose is a smart kid, we've known it for a while, but last year his preschool teacher put an idea into my head that isn't going away until questions are answered.
You see, she told us that Moose evaluates as being ready for kindergarten, that there should be evaluations over the summer to see where he is at school wise, and then they should offer to bump him up to regular kindergarten once he turns 5 in October.
When there were none of them over the summer, I went on to the district's website and looked up the information on Transitional Kindergarten. It says directly on their website that observations and assessments are done in class and then teacher can talk to the parents about possibly moving the child up to regular kindergarten.
"How do I know if my child should be enrolled in Transitional Kindergarten instead of a regular one-year kindergarten program?
If your child's birthday falls between September 2 and December 2, California law mandates placement in a Transitional Kindergarten program.  After assessment and observation by Transitional Kindergarten staff, there may be conversation about placement in a one-year kindergarten program (with parent permission) if that appears to be the best placement for the child. " -Directly from the district website
At back to school night on the 25th, nothing about that was mentioned by his teacher, so I had to ask.
I don't have an issue with Moose staying in Transitional Kindergarten if that is where he truly belongs, but after listening to his teacher talk about where other kids in his class are with their educations, Moose is leaps and bounds ahead.
Where they are learning to count and identify numbers to 10, Moose can go past 100 when counting and identify random numbers up to 100.
While his class is learning the alphabet, how to write it and phonics for each letter, Moose knows the entire alphabet in upper and lower case, not only writes letters but writes words, and not only knows most of the sounds letters can make, but is reading books. He finished 10 early reader books in 6 days.
His preschool teacher did so much to encourage him, help him grow and excel that we fear he will slide backwards when he is so far ahead of everyone else. 
While he sets the bar high for his classmates, where is the room for him to grow?
And will he get the work he needs to not only refresh what he knows, but to keep him moving forward?
After contacting his teacher about having his evaluated for regular kindergarten, we have been met with hesitation. It seems funny, since if he is ready for kindergarten, a teacher would want to allow her student to get the most of their education, but if they aren't then she has a better idea of where that child is and how she can help him to blossom more and be more prepared for the following school year. 
Having to go run around collecting paperwork to show her he deserves to have the evaluation done feels like another fight. One I was hoping we weren't going to have.
Only, instead of fighting what seemed like endless doctors for a diagnosis, treatment and understanding, I'mm fighting a teacher for his education.

Here is moose on his first day of school, excited to see what "big boy" school his in store for him

Working on basic math

a note he wrote all by himself

his reading chart, he finished book 10 last night

Monday, August 1, 2016

My new favorite find for my kids

With Moose starting transitional kindergarten soon, I wanted to get him a workbook to help refresh everything he learned in preschool last year, to help him with some of the newer things we have started working on over the summer, and even some new things we haven't thought about working on yet.
I've been looking for the right book for a few months now, but haven't been able to find one that met my requirements at the price point I wanted.
Then one day after checking all of the kindergarten books that our local Target store had to offer, I decided to go look at Sam's Club and see if they had anything better.
After walking through the book isle for a few minutes and looking through every educational book they had, including a few 1st grade ones, I came across the Get Ready for School Kindergarten book. 
To say that I was impressed is an understatement.
At $12.95 it was priced a little more than I was originally looking to spend, but it is completely worth every penny. Honestly, it is probably worth the $17.95 MSRP with the amount of material you receive.
It is put together similar to a binder with very easy to flip pages that I'm not worried my 4 year old will accidentally rip out if he flips them a little too hard. 

When you open the cover, you are greeted with a very easy to read table of contents that not only gives you the pages that each section begins on, but the color coding for that section to make for easy navigation between the different lessons.

There are so many different activities for kids to help them not only learn but retain the information the book supplies. It goes above and beyond what I had expected from a educational activity book. For example: In the alphabet section, there are 2-4 pages dedicated to each letter with different activities to help kids not only learn to write and identify each letter, but to know what sound it makes and identify words that start with that letter. 


Moose has enjoyed working on his book a little each day. He has gotten through several letters and their activities, worked on some sight words, and numbers. 
I can't wait to see how much more he is able to learn as we get through more and more, and to get into some of the suggested reading.
Watching him finish each page makes my heart swell as he celebrates his accomplishments and knowing that with each day and every page that he works on, he is getting more and more ready for kindergarten to begin.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

School is coming

As August gets closer and closer, 
I am reminded how little time is left until Moose starts big kid school.

He starts a program called "transitional kindergarten" this year, which is supposed to be in between preschool and kindergarten for kids who won't be 5 years old by the state deadline.

The cool thing about the program is that teachers will be watching and evaluating the kids to see which are ready for kindergarten and which need the extra year. 

The kids who are ready can get moved up to the one year kinder program with their parents' permission or they can stay in the two year program.

It is crazy to think that my little boy is growing up so fast and not only is going to be in a regular school, rather a school with just preschoolers, but he may be moved up to a traditional kindergarten class sooner than we had expected.

It's really exciting that he is getting to move on to bigger and better things, but a bit sad that my little boy is growing up.

He isn't my little baby anymore, my crazy toddler, he is a big kid.
And in two weeks, he'll be a big, elementary school attending kid.

I can't wait to post about his first day and updates on how he is doing. 
I'm so proud of him.

Now if only the school would get the information out with who his teacher is, which classroom he'll be in, and what supplies he'll need we'll be set!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

InStyler BLU Turbo Ionic Dryer review

I have never been a fan of hair dryers. I didn't even buy one for myself until a few years ago and I only used it on the rare occasion that I needed my hair dried fairly quickly before going somewhere. My hair always felt dry and unhealthy after blow drying, it was such a turn off. 
Then one day I was contacted to try out and write a review for the InStyler BLU Turbo Iconic Dryer and i decided to give it a try. 
I'll never buy another hair dryer again after trying this one out. It has changed my whole view on how a hair dryer should work and how it should make your hair feel.

The InStyler BLU Turbo Iconic Dryer comes neatly packaged with all of it's awesome accessories including the dryer, concentrator attachment, diffuser attachment, and instructions.

One of the best things about this dryer is there are a lot of different options for you to choose so you can customize your drying experience to best match your hair type, amount of frizz control you need, and to help you achieve maximum shine in minimum time.


It is truly amazing how many different combinations you can do for if you want to dry and eliminate frizz, dry and enhance curls, dry and straighten, add texture, add shine, etc. 
And to get such a great product in a hair dryer that is so incredibly light just makes me more of a fan.

I'll admit, the $89.99 price tag from Amazon can be a bit of a turn off at first, especially if you are on a budget, but this is one of those products where you get what you pay for.
Rather than spend a lot of money buying cheap hair dryers that leave hair more damaged, that end up costing you even more money in hair products for repairing that damage, spend the extra and get a top quality hair dryer that will help your hair be healthier and look it's absolute best.
I've never been more happy to own a hair dryer until now.

If you want to buy one of these guys for yourself, you can find them on Amazon for $89.99

or directly from InStyler, which comes with a mini dryer too for one payment of $119.85 (plus tax)
or one payment of $14.95, then 3 monthly payments of $39.95

I received this product for free to try and review. Regardless all opinions written here are 100% my own.