Archive for July, 2010

Where does it end?

I don’t know how many times I thought this today as I watched my son romp around the playground and trot off to the beach with my dad at Moreau Lake.

This summer has been the first time that we’ve had to find programming for Isaac because he wasn’t getting full summer educational programming. Yes, we were spoiled. BUT, it was a CPSE IEP type thing, so we knew it had to come to an end sometime.

So, this summer, we concentrated on things that I did as a kid that made summer fun. Doug didn’t do a lot of these things, because, as I tell him all of the time, he had a deprived childhood. He never went to summer camp, he never really went camping or did any of the things that I feel make a summer.

So, we took Isaac for swim lessons, sent him to park camp (awesome first camp experience by the way..) and then have now sent him to literacy camp, so that he can maintain his reading skills. Yes, literacy camp is run by the school, so it’s technically an educational experience, but it’s only 3 weeks out of our summer. Not the good ol’ 8-ish weeks we’re used to! We’ve driven places, ran around like gangbusters and today, went out to Moreau Lake State park for a day of picnicing and fun.

This leads me back to my first statement-in kind of a round about way.

As I was watching Isaac romp, I thought about all of the camps that I got advertisements for. Hockey, drama, pre high adventure, swim, “summer enrichment”, Montessori-the list goes on and on and on.

So, where does programming and overscheduling end and going to camp or having adventures just for the sake of being outside and playing start? Why do some parents feel the need to have their child’s entire summer experience pre-programmed with sports, or some other type of hardcore programming when you could just toss the kid into general program and let them experience life and having summer fun?

I don’t get it.

During the school year, the pressure to perform is so intense, even at the lowest levels. Why do kids need to spend their summer being pressured to perform at one thing or another? Have we as a society lost sight of the fact that kids do need to have space to run and be free and touch and do?

So, where does it end?

For me, it ends when school lets out. Yes, there are educational opportunities, and if we need summer reading, we do it, but for the most part-summer is free, easy and fun. Not heavily programmed and regimented with lots of pressure. There’s plenty of time for pressure when school starts back again in the fall.

July 30, 2010 at 10:57 pm Leave a comment

Summer o’ stuff-the K’NEX construction vehicles

As part of the Sheblogs blog tour, I’ve been given the opportunity to review and give away a few things….

First on the list are these little beauties!
oooh! Vehicles!

yes, these are K’nex!

What we have here are the Series 2 Construction Vehicles from their vehicles collection. There’s a giant excavator, a dump truck and a bulldozer. Each kit has over 200 parts and either a motor (the dump truck and bulldozer) or a sound block (the excavator).

In the interest of full disclosure here, I need to state the following.

I am normally not a “building bricks” person. In my family, my sister and brother in law are the ones who love this stuff. Isaac has seemed to inherit the “building brick” knack that I so lack. But then again, the lego table was used as punishment in my day care. So, call it an aversion…but I digress.

So, I opened the box of k’nex stuff and the first thing we started working on was the giant Excavavator.
To my absolute delight and shock, this was one of the easiest projects of this type I’ve undertaken.

We first broke out the instruction booklet:
ooh. Instructions! Let's follow them!

and I loved the fact that my emerging reader didn’t have to stress too much, because he could follow the pictures and tell me what small pieces he needed help with and where they went.
how to put the treads on
putting the wheels on

and as quickly as we had sorted the pieces, we had a rolling chassis.
Ooh! Rolling chassis!

I was impressed at the absolute ease of this sucker! Holy Cow! I figured Isaac and I were going to have to spend hours and hours and both of us would end up wanting to murder the other one, but that wasn’t the case! It was FUN!

Until…

I had to play emergency vet.

See this small, fuzzy, innocently sleeping thing?
Yep, That's Bear looking innocent...

Yeah. He decided he wanted to help us build the excavator. We did the pick up and deposit him out of the craft room we were using as the build area, but he kept coming back. Finally, he decided that he had had enough of swatting the bricks and took one into his mouth and and tried to chew it.

yeah.

So, I quickly grabbed Bear by the scruff of the neck and popped his jaw open and swept the brick out. I did NOT want to have my kitten forced to wear the Cone of Shame!

Once Bear got that treatment, he retreated to the position under the rocking chair where he could watch, think he was in on the action, but not be grabbed, scruffed and mouth swept. Nutjob cat.

But all in all, I think that the K’nex construction vehicles have changed my opinion of building kits. I’d totally do other ones now, and can’t wait to dig into the other two that are sitting on the chair in the craft room turned “build area.”

here’s a picture of the excavator without the crane. Note that the cab actually swivels!!!
neat, huh?

This only took us an hour and a half, even with the brief cat interlude.

So, K’nex has graciously offered to give one of my gawkers a full set (just like the one pictured above) of the Series 2 Construction Vehicles! You’ll be able to make your own giant excavator, dump truck and bulldozer.

Cool, huh?

So, wanna know how you can get these?
First, leave a comment on this post telling me about the last time you built with legos, k’nex or another building material. What did you build? was it a kit or did you go all free form?

Then, there are these ways:

Go visit another stop on the Sheblogs Summer Blog Tour! Enter their giveaway and comment here with which one you entered.

Follow Kileigh7 on twitter and tweet about this giveaway.

Go visit K’nex and tell me what other product you’d really love to try your hand at building.

The giveaway will end on August 11th, 2010 at 9pm Eastern time. I’ll be using my favorite random number generator to select the winner from all comments received!

Disclosure-I received this set of K’nex vehicles as part of the 2010 SheBlogs summer tour, plus a set to give away to my readers. There was no compensation received. The opinions and photos are mine and mine alone.

July 28, 2010 at 7:27 am 20 comments

Summer School and the Newly Minted First grade response

So, the summer of activities continues. We’ve finished with swim lessons, park camp and VBS-and moved on to Summer Literacy at school.

Since today was day 1 of summer literacy, we dragged Isaac out of bed and then brought him to “camp.” There, I found the following:
1. I can’t walk him to his classroom. The teachers come out and get the kids and then bring them out at the end of the day.
2. The kids are grouped by the grade the just finished rather than the grade they are entering. This caused a NICE uproar with my child.

yeah. I was thrilled with both of those. I was super thrilled with the second one. Isaac was NOT a happy camper. I got the ticked off response as only he can do. Whine petulantly and then when I call him on it, walk away with the hangdog look.

What bugged me the most about this morning was that there were a few parents who embodied the “suburban snob” that I have come to loathe and refuse to get myself sucked into being.

Apparently in years past, there was busing for this program. This year, due to budget constraints, there was no busing. BUT, there is busing for the 12 month students. These are the kids who are in need of school services 12 months out of the year per their IEPs. These are kids who don’t qualify for the low key summer literacy program because they need a smidge more than this.

This mom was complaining to the high heavens that her kids deserved busing and how she was going to have to get a 3 year old out the door to drop the kids off. Umm…hello? Your 2 other kids are getting 4 days a week of 3 hour a day instruction for free. There’s a maximum of 10 kids in each class. AND there’s a teacher aide in each! Suck up and deal. Driving your kids isn’t the worst thing in the world.

But Isaac came home and was ok with the entire thing. He was exhausted from the weeks prior, so he came home and crashed.

So, we’ll see how this goes. 3 weeks…and then we’re all done…

July 26, 2010 at 1:57 pm 2 comments

Hi Bear!

Lately, Doug has taken to calling me Olivia Walton because I take in as he puts it, “every stray that comes in my path.”

This was no exception.

About a month ago, I took in a small black kitten. Doug yelled. I pleaded the case of the kitten that was going to be dumped outside of a pet store by people who “Just didn’t want him” anymore.

I confronted Doug with the facts that since this kitten was black, he had less of a chance of being taken in than any other color of kitten…and he would give Booger a break from Sabrina.
Doug relented. The small kitten stayed, amongst the mutterings of  “FINE Ma Walton!” Then, Doug asked his name. Then he started petting the kitten and the loud purrrrrr started.

So, meet Bear.

Hi, Bear!

So, Bear has decided to make our house his home. He does things like pounce, play with my hair (ouch!) and run through the house at mach 20.

He also does things like this:
Yes, he is scaling the frog tank in the vain hopes that he can get the frogs.

and he does things that I don’t think are as adorable, such as attempting to beat up my pump tubing. I think he even got his teeth through one time…as I ended up with a “no delivery” alarm after a session of beating up my tubing.

But he’s got a forever home with us…and all of the love he needs. And we’re thrilled to have his manic energy in the house. He is absolutely rediculous. And we love it.

July 24, 2010 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

In which my brain is a muddled mess.

Today started off like any other day. Get up, kick Isaac out the door to camp and Doug and I went to breakfast. We got home and went about our business. Doug went straight to the basement to do the garbage and cat boxes, I went upstairs to write an email and work on the reviews that need to go up for the Summer O’ Stuff.

Then, it happened. Doug came flying up the stairs telling me that Booger was dead. I thought he was kidding. I really did. How could my sweet Booger be really gone?

Suffice to say, he wasn’t kidding.

It was then it all hit me. I broke into tears and started to make phone calls. What the heck do you do with an animal corpse? Do you bury it, do you what? I had absolutely no clue.

So, I called the vet first and they said that I could do one of two things-bury her in the back yard or have her cremated. I could do the cremation one of two ways-private, where I got the ashes back or a general one where I wouldn’t get the ashes back.

I figured getting the ashes back would be creepy as all heck. Seriously. I loved her to death and all, but seriously. What the heck do I need her ashes for? What would I do with them? I couldn’t find a logical thing to do with them, so I asked the vet fora  bit of time and hung up. I then made a few other phone calls about final arrangements.

After a few minutes, we settled on taking her to Hudson Mohawk Humane Society.

I sobbed the whole way down, and Doug held back tears. He had to drive. I was in zero shape to drive for anything. When we got there, Doug carried her in as I filled out the paperwork and paid for the entire thing.  Doug finally broke and as soon as they took her back, he dashed out the door to the car.

I asked they be gentle with her. Asked that they remind her one last time she was loved dearly and would be sorely missed.

They promised they would. I’m holding them to that.

I don’t know how I’m going to explain all of this to Isaac. Booger was just as much his cat as ours. He loved her, snuggled her (even against her best judgment) and laughed at her eternal brainlessness.

I went book hunting, but the one that came highest recommended,  I think I’m going to pass on. I went through it and the last bit of the book deals with the last best thing about this child’s pet being that his body would decompose and turn into fertilizer.

Umm…I’m having a hard enough time saying goodbye without explaining decomposition to my child. So, Now I’m on the hunt for another book. I told Isaac, and I don’t think he totally gets it. I really don’t. Frankly, I’m such a muddled mess that I don’t even have my head around her being gone.

Heck. I’m just getting around Furball being gone.

I know there are good things in everything, but right now, I’m having a hard time seeing the forest through the trees. I can think of a million good and funny things about her. Right now, all I can think about is the fact that she’s gone and I almost feel as if it’s my fault in some backhanded way. I’m still thinking the usual coulda-woulda-shoulda.

So, goodbye my beloved Booger. Our car engine kitty, nap buddy and all around great furever friend.

Booger, holding my knitting with style

Don’t think for a second that you’ll be forgotten.

July 23, 2010 at 3:24 pm 1 comment

Summer O’ Stuff-Hello, Shutterfly!

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the Summer o’ Stuff! There will be all sorts of goodies coming for the next month-ish for giveaway until I go back to the classroom again and actually have work to do.  Yeah, you heard that right. I’m going back to work…but I digress. I’ll talk about the new place another time. Right now, this is SUMMER O’ STUFF!

The first thing up on the big Summer O’ Stuff is something near and dear to my heart-SHUTTERFLY!

I’ve loved Shutterfly for a long time. It was introduced to me by some friends when I was looking for the perfect Christmas card. I didn’t like the mall prices, and was really needing something with Isaac’s photo on it to appease the family in far away places. So, I clicked on Shutterfly and whammo-neato Christmas Photo Cards and lots to choose from! I had the hardest time picking. But it was fun, and I got a neat card to fly out to all of the family (at that point) back on the East Coast. PLUS, it beat mall pricing and it got to me quickly, because I’m that kind of procrastinator.

Fast forward to this year. I forgot about the annual holiday/Christmas card until the last possible ever loving second. So, the first thing I thought of was Shutterfly! I dove onto Shutterfly and browsed the holiday cards and came up with one that totally fit us and the bill-one that said “Peace, Love and Yetis.” I ordered those and had them in a matter of 2 days, and post haste flew the 4×7.9 cards out to the relatives in the midwest, complete with 3 pictures of Isaac playing hockey.

Then, there are the photbooks. I’ve been procrastinating on making Isaac’s baby scrapbook, but they make it so easy to do! You’ve got your choice of either a full DIY or using their templates. So, when it comes time to finally get it all done, I’ll totally be peeking at these.

Can I tell you that Shutterfly is a procrastinator’s dream? They’re easy to use, quick and fun. Plus, those of us who are easily distracted (me!) can save things for later fixing and review.

So, from my beloved Shutterfly, 3 (yes, 3) of my gawkers will get

A code for 40 free photo cards!

So, here’s how you get ’em!

Mandatory entry

Go visit Shutterfly and tell me what kind of cards you’d use your 40 freebies on.

Optional entries

  • Follow Kileigh7 on twitter and tweet about the giveaway (and leave a comment!)
  • Like Shutterfly on Facebook and leave a comment on their wall!
  • Visit Shutterfly and tell me what your favorite product other than cards is!

The giveaway ends on July 30, 9 PM Eastern time! I’ll pick 3 winners from all comments submitted using a random number generator.

Disclosure

I received 40 photo cards of my choice from Shutterfly and 3 codes to give away in exchange for my honest review of Shutterfly services. There was no other compensation received. All of the opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone.

July 22, 2010 at 8:05 am 8 comments

How long have I been doing this?

Holy cow! It’s my BLOGAVERSARY!!!

When I think about how long I’ve been at this-5 years-I can’t believe it. This little corner of the web has been mine for 5 years.

In that time I’ve…

  • Moved twice. Once cross country and once to the suburban hell I now live in.
  • knitted more things and made more crafting errors than humanly possible.
  • Sat through a Wiggles show. And survived. They still creep me out.
  • realized that sitting on the parent end of an IEP meeting is worse than writing a triennial review.
  • tried being a soccer mom, but turned into a hockey mom!
  • Checked a few things off of my “to do in life” list-like work at Disneyland and be a Barista.
  • survived backpack and bed fiascos
  • been through surgeries on every one of us in this house and survived to tell the tale on the other end.
  • lost a beloved pet and gained a new one.
  • met some interesting people along the way…
  • and posted some classic pictures of people in my life.

So here’s to another year. I know there will be  more insanity and circus like things happening, so stay tuned.

July 20, 2010 at 7:14 am 4 comments

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