Friday, September 26, 2014

Presto Pesto Love

Pin It      I love this pesto! It goes with everything! I put it on sandwiches, pasta, sausage, veggies, chicken...anything really. It is the absolutely perfect pesto. After so many people have asked for the recipe I figured I would post it here. The original recipe can be found HERE on Food Network. The Sandwich King of Food Network came up with this delicious date night sandwich only a man could conjure up (and I have made it and loved it!) but the pesto he put on it was to die for! I altered it a bit for my taste and to compensate for the fact that we do not have fresh basil at our Commissary (still working on that one...) and what do you know? Perfection! 

What you need:
1 Tub of Basil Pesto (plain)
1 Head of Garlic (roasted)
2 Tbl of fresh Rosemary
1/4 C Romano Cheese
1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil


How To:


Roast your Garlic :)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the end off your garlic and wrap in tinfoil. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for about thirty minutes or until smelly good and browned.


Puree your Rosemary, Cheese, and Garlic together in a food processor (or Ninja) until semi fine. Add the Pesto and some of the Olive Oil. Add more Olive Oil as needed until smooth. This Pesto is a little on the white side due to the cheese and garlic so don't worry. 


That's it. It's that easy. Now my favorite recipe for it is this.

Italian Hoagie Roll
Deli Turkey
Deli Ham
Roasted Red Peppers
Swiss Cheese
Rosemary Garlic Pesto
Mayo

Load it all up together. Wrap it in tinfoil and place on a baking sheet. Throw it in that oven that is still preheated (you know you forgot to turn that oven off with all the chaos going on Mama!) and place a heavy skillet on top. Let it stay in there for around 20 minutes. It will be a nice grilled panini when it comes out. 

Cut it in to slices, make some Lemonade, and invite some friends over for a Play Date.

Enjoy the recipes Ladies!



Best Wishes,
Jules and Monkey!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Hurt behind the Truth

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His Best Friend "Al the Moose"

    I have a rule with my son that when things happen in life that are unfair or hurtful, I tell him the truth. It's not easy but as parents it's necessary. I'm not talking is there a Santa (still believe in him) or who ate my Jelly Beans (probably me...) but why did they call me names or why don't they want to play with me questions.

The ones that punch you in the face as parent and bring out your inner Chuck Norris.

    I've spent so many moments in a church hallway, a park bench, and now tomorrow my own home, explaining to my son that there are people out there that are sometimes just mean. Sometimes they don't know any better. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they are asking honest questions about him and sometimes they are asking him to change. The one consistent thing in these talks is that my son is hurt and crying and doesn't understand why people are mean. Too be honest...neither do I.

    For those who haven't read any other posts here, My son is an amazing, strong willed, red-headed
Shout out to the Parents who have taken "that walk"...
bolt of energy that tires me out on my good days. The reality is I wouldn't change that. He got really sick when he was about 6 months old with chronic ear infections. Just one right after the other till his little drums busted...and then started over again. He has such a high pain tolerance that most of the time you wouldn't know he was sick. He was always smiling and laughing. The problem is that he wasn't hearing. We weren't able to communicate. So we taught ourselves our version of sign language based on what he was already trying to sign. As well, he was really good at reading faces and body language so that helped him understand what was going on to a degree. After he had tubes put in at 2 years old, his hearing got better, his speech therapy has helped his actual speech, but his comprehension still has some holes in it. This is where it gets complicated. People see a rambunctious 5 year old who is willfully disobedient. In reality he is a 4 year old who has trouble assessing the situations sometimes and over compensates by being crazy. Don't get me wrong...he's willfully disobedient too, but not every time like people think.
Willfully Crazy here as he "runs away"
yet again.


He's too loud because he can't hear his own volume correctly.

He's too big for his own age group.

He's too "dumb" for the older kids.

He's easily hurt by every insult thrown at him by everyone like Frankenstein, Monster, Stupid...You understanding the picture yet? Here's where I get angry though. Kids are kids. They learn as they make mistakes. Adults though? They should know better.

    I found out last night that a situation that I thought was a non-issue is actually a big issue. That two sweet friends of mine are stuck in the middle having to choose sides like it's middle school again. That apparently another girl, a mom nonetheless, will not be in the same room as me because...who knows why. Last I heard it was vaccination opinion differences but given that it has escalated this far over the course of a few months without me knowing about the seriousness till this week, who knows the reason now. What I do know is this girl putting her foot down in such a childish manner has caused our mutual friends to have separate play dates, girls night ins, you name it. It went so far that when we were invited to the same play date, one of us couldn't go.

    My sweet friend was put in the position of "uninviting" us to appease this mom. I honestly don't blame them. It's simple logistics and timing. But I do blame the mom who started this. Who couldn't come to me like an adult and talk things over when all we had was a simple difference of opinion. Because now, thanks to her actions I get to explain to my little boy tomorrow when he asks "when are we going to go see my friends?" in reference to the play date he knows is happening...that we aren't going. Not because of him. But because someone has an issue with a decision I made in regards to him. A decision I have the right to make. What's worse is that none of this will affect her. She won't be the one wiping his tears, or explaining that it's really not him this time. She will be able to get away scott free on this matter when it comes to the damage to my son. And she probably won't even realize it.

    I know there are some that are reading this and thinking, "just lie to him then". I don't do that with my son for two reasons. First, it's a commandment. Thou shalt not lie. One I'm pretty adamant about. Second, if I want my son to trust me then he has to know he can. Lying undermines trust like nothing else. The truth hurts like nothing else sometimes but it has never undermined trust. He needs to know that I will always be honest with him on these issues so in the future we have a foundation to help us through bigger issues that can have an even bigger impact on him.

    I get that we all parent differently. We are all different people with different beliefs and different backgrounds. But while I would normally be nice and wrap this up with a great little pick me up today I'm not. Today is different because today I get to be the bad guy and break my little boys heart and then try and repair it. So while we go about our parenting today can we all remember that we don't have the right to inflict our beliefs on others. We don't have the right to bully others. We certainly don't have the right to dictate to others how to raise their kids. And if we can't get that, then remember simply that your actions as adults have an impact on innocent children. 






Best Wishes,
Jules & Monkey

Friday, August 29, 2014

Packing like a Pro

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Over the river and through the woods to Crazy Town we go...you know you sang it :) Every time we take a vacation I go crazy. There is a week when I live on coffee and lists and feel like i'm always forgetting something. It's a week of planning and cleaning and packing and prepping and hair-pulling and...insert bad mommy habit here. But in the end, we have everything we need, the trip goes smoothly, and the lil' monster is happy on the car ride. Both Ways! So this time I'm sharing my lists and awesome crazy with you - so you can appear less crazy :)

To start with you will need:

  • A Pen
  • A Trip Notebook (A three ring binder with a clear insert on the front)
  • Clear page protectors (dollar tree has packs of 10 that have a 3 hole punch)
  • Blank Paper for random notes to yourself :)
I then added my Notebook cover page.

From there I use my page protectors to build our trip. Here's the order I use. You can do it differently, obviously, if you want.
  1. Trip Cover page: Destination, Dates To & From, Occasion if needed
  2. Printed Map To & From (in case there is no GPS reception)
  3. Hotel Confirmation Page
  4. Activities we are doing / Itinerary
**When the trip is over I put all the pages together in one page protector behind the Cover Page and put it in the back of the book. The next time we would like to go to that destination we have most of the info ready to go!

Next up is the car...the dreaded car. I actually take most of the responsibility for our car because I drive it the most. It is the quintessential Mom Mobile and as such I like to do most of the work with it. I keep it up to date season wise so come trip time there are a few things to do to prep it.
Normally how my car looks minus the stroller that resides in it :)
**My hanging organizer is a shoe rack from dollar tree that I cut in half and nailed in. We don't plan on selling our car. Just driving her till she dies :( The other organizer is a traditional car organizer from an Auto Store that I have had longer than I have been married...That's been with me through all 5 of my cars. You all need one. Seriously. Now. :)
  • Clean it: Take out the trash, Vacuum it, Get those random toys out. Wipe down the windows and surfaces. 
  • Restock your supplies. I keep a first aid kit, a medicine bucket, a restaurant activity kit, and extra diapers / wipes / trash bags in my car at all times. I also keep tissues packs in the doors for the random runny noses. As well, an extra outfit for oops-es since my son still has the occasional accident when he is sleeping.
  • I maintain car tools for breakdowns in my car as well. We live in Mississippi right now but I did my time in PA with a car that liked to breakdown...I learned my lesson. I always keep a few hot hands, ponchos, umbrellas, flashlight, tools, fuses, as well as the basic car jack / spare tire. 
Now when I know trips are coming up I take the toy bucket out of the car and replace the toys so they seem brand new. Best Mom trick E-vah!!! I also start in on the trip fun. Trips are tough enough with kids, but cranky kids make a trip unbearable. With a little planning any trip can fly by and be a lot of fun actually. Most of the ideas I use I got from friends, family, Pinterest, his nursery, his speech therapist, VBS...the places are endless. Just raid your home first before buying anything, and talk to everyone for great ideas!
The Trip "Kick-Off" Bag

  1. He had a bag to kick the trip off. Some old toys from a garage sale he
    The Blue Bucket holds his toys on the floor
    normally. On trips, it's within arms reach :)
    had forgotten about plus a new cowboy gun and sheriff's badge (to be the man of the house while Dad was away). Bonus: That bag was used to collect treasures along the way throughout the vacation!He had his Toy Bucket back with "new" toys.
  2. I bought a kid desk at Michael's on discount since it was a little beat up to help him with his art projects. Highly suggest these things. This one tucked neatly into the back of the chair when not in use :)
  3. He has a Kurio with lots of educational kids games and netflix (bonus!) but didn't even ask for it this time :)
  4. The Bonus Bags. Best idea ever! Brown lunch bags with random toys in it. I mark them 1- whatever (normally one for every other hour of the trip both ways) and close them up. Bring a dice and let them roll. Use these bags as bribes, incentives, lures into the restrooms...I don't care...They are awesome! I Never give Monkey the toys out of his happy meals because he's too busy playing or sleeping, so they all go into a box for later. I raid that for these bags :) When he's (fill in the blank here) I let him roll the dice and he gets the bag to match that number.
  5. The Fruit Loop "Candy" Bracelets. A snack Ziploc bag with
    Fruit Loops and a Bendy in it. They string the Fruit Loops on it then you close it up and they can wear it while they eat it :) Self Contained fun game that will last awhile, and its a snack! Two-fer!
  6. Small Cookie Sheet and Magnets. Put the Magnets in a Ziploc Bag for your own Sanity.
  7. Empty Egg Carton and colored Puffs. They can sort to they're hearts content. You can be super cool and put stickers in the bottom of the egg carton for them to match the colors to. 
  8. Extra plastic cups as well for sorting is always fun. 
  9. Coloring books with wonder color markers and stickers. Just remember to turn your  OCD off because those stickers will end up in weird places :) The endless giggles will make it worth it though.
  10. Pillow :)
    Car Pillows go a long way...and are not hard to make ladies :)
     **Get a solid Flexi-Bucket for the front seat that can hold the extra games, toys, and food within arms reach to make life easier. This is especially necessary if you are road-tripping by yourself! Otherwise get a little one that fits by your feet and when you stop, change it out! Keep them guessing or you will be miserable.
My "Blue Bucket" with extra activities, My Orange cooler tote with
snacks / drinks, and my new yellow Life Bag with my Trip Notebook :)

Plan your food. Its easy to pack breakfast and lunch. Freeze some water bottles as ice packs and throw some fresh fruit and bagels in a cooler. I always bring some PB&J and deli meat / cheese as well as an unopened juice bottle for Monkey. As well, pack some snack packs of your favorite things and keep it handy. I gave Monkey his own Snack container (old Baby Wipes container) that he could choose things from. A little freedom can go a long way in making kids happy. And don't forget to bring some for the ride home :)

Suitcases! the bane of my existence...Its been too long since we have been on a plane so this is in no way how to pack according to weight restrictions. This is how to pack with kids. Period. I use my trusty Packing List - Toddler. Altered from the original Packing List - Baby. I throw everything in the suitcase as it is washed so it doesn't get worn and then two days before the trip I lay everything on the bed and match up the outfits, fill in the blanks on the lists, and stuff the suitcases. My hubby and I share one suitcase and our son has one. That leaves a cooler, tech bag, life bag, pack~n~play, and stroller to pack. Remember I have a permanent diaper bag with a change of clothes in the car :) 

     My son's suitcase is packed a little differently than ours. I put his outfits together (underwear and socks included) and put them in gallon Ziploc bags. Push the air out when you seal them and they lay really flat. They also double as dirty laundry bags so if there is an accident you don't have to worry about the smell or mess in the suitcase. Bonus, your kid can get dressed themselves without your fear of not matching. If you need certain outfits for certain days, just number the bags to match the days in your vacation. His blankets, noise machine, diapers, etc...all go in his bag so I pack his carefully.

I always clean my house before leaving for vacation. It's why I stress so much. The timing is so close together that I feel like I'm sleep deprived going in. However, I hate coming home relaxed to a huge mess and more work. I change the sheets, clean the bathrooms, do all the laundry, and run the dishes as i'm walking out the door. Don't leave laundry in the washer or dishes in the sink as that will cause a huge smell and no one likes a smelly home fresh from vacation. I also throw some powder down on the carpet and vacuum the day before so everything smells amazing and feels amazing. We always leave really early in the morning so we leave the house beautiful :) I love it but it does take some work. 
Our Lt. Logan going to the Dog Sitter! If you take your animals in the car, get them proper restraints. We were going five houses down, but he is normally in a harness with his car leash :)
If you have animals, please take some time to find the best place for them. They are family and deserve to be treated as such. We now have 2 dogs, 1 cat (who thinks she's a god), and a turtle. The turtle is the easiest out of them all :) We have to board the dogs and find someone to come once a day to the house for the other two. I print out Caretaker Lists for anyone who has our animals to help. I included them to give you an idea of what to include. At the top I also try to write who they are going to and the dates we are going to be gone. 
After Animals, Before Children...

That trash bucket is a permanent feature and I love it!

We have a Bear Rug that my Son takes everywhere right now :)
Freaking people out on the highway was fun though...

Trips are time consuming and difficult but with a little planning and work they can be a lot of fun and definitely easier than we anticipate. Keep everything for your trip in your binder. In the long run, the best thing to remember is that the trip is not about the destination, it's about the journey. It's about those adorable little people in the back seat taking that journey with you. It may not be like that vacation you used to have where you packed a duffle bag and hit the road for the beach and sipped margaritas but this time is so much better. You get to be a pirate and a cowgirl and a princess all in one day. You will be told "you're the best" a hundred times over a simple candy bracelet. You will get to see about twenty different restrooms and suddenly appreciate yours so much more :) You will be exhausted and beat down and smell like cleaning solutions and yet there will still be a precious little person who wants to climb into bed with you and snuggle when you get to your destination. Because, let's face it, we're parents. We're Moms. Our destination is our children. and it's the best destination in the world.





Best Wishes,
Jules & Monkey




Thursday, July 31, 2014

I Quit!

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     Mom Wars blow! Let's face it, no matter where we turn, there is media and strangers telling us we are doing this mothering thing wrong. I don't know about you but I am done! I know who I am as a mom and wife and while I may trip every now and again it's normally because this pesky Mom War keeps getting in the way and shoving it's opinion in my face. So today I am covering the big issues from both sides and we are all going to learn what is Acceptable Behavior together. And then we are all going to
 Dun dun DUN!!!!(belt :D) QUIT! together :) 
   Now I know that the video is long, but seriously, we women have a  lot of issues! like, this list is the short list...now on to the good stuff! Simply click on the hyperlink below (above the photo) and wait for the download to finish. I'm sorry if it takes a moment, it's a part of Google Share with longer videos :)


     Now let's all say it together: "Not Acceptable Behavior".





Best Wishes,
Jules & Monkey


















Friday, March 21, 2014

New Home, Same World

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She's ready to go!
  Our move is finally over and the last picture is, well...almost hung. We were blessed to have a contracted move to base housing and even more blessed to have a house in a cul-de-sac that is full of other kids Monkey's age. The move however, like all moves took planning, patience, and a level of understanding for each other that we don't normally have to have. In my previous post - Not Uprooting, Just Replanting - I mentioned a few things that we use to assist in our moves. This time around I went ahead and put all my other tricks down too. I figured I would share them all with you so you could have your own easy move guide as well!

  My first step is getting my go-to supplies:
  • Accordion Folder
  • Clipboard and Pad-folio combo (Target sells them for about $12 and they are awesome multi-taskers)
  • Two pens, different colors (I use black and red)
  • Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!!!!

   Secondly, I always have a calendar and utilize a schedule but in a move 
He's such a goof...
my calendars either get erased or are too small to be effective. Because of that, I print out a weekly calendar for the week of our move and live on that till we are in our new place. All our moves have happened on a weekend, so all my preparations have started around Tuesday and ended around Monday. Here's the one I use:  Weekly Calendar.

   Next, is my reminder list for my Utilities. If possible, print it front and back to make it easier on yourself. I write down the companies as we remember them, call them, write down if we are getting a deposit back, even if they are coming to either house for anything and on what day. The best part is it is all on one sheet and my Hubby knows where to find it when he needs to do the bills come payday. Just remember to keep the latest bills in your Accordion File so even if you are not settled in to the new house you can still stay on track and not get penalized for late payments. 

     **Side note: always keep your utility companies programmed into your phone to make it easier to pay or solve an issue. If your pay online, bookmark the page. As well, keep a list of your account numbers and PW's for your significant other in a safe location. That way if something happens and someone needs to assist you with that part of your day it will be less stressful.


Pick your battles during a move people.
Pick your battles.
 Also, Your accordion file will come in handy for a few things. Here's my favorites:

  • Important Family Documents (to keep them safe in the move)
  • Bills, to make paying easier
  • Separating money: get cash for your cleaners, sitters, etc and put them in separate files with notes for an easier day. that way no matter who is taking care of that "chore" it is laid out and can't be messed up due to stress or mis-communication.
  • Paperwork from the movers
   Lastly, for my family is food. I always shop on payday and normally cook every night. When we move though I try to empty the fridge as much as possible so I change how I shop. We go to a lot of munchies and sandwiches and purposefully build in a few days for take-out. Don't forget that most likely you won't be shopping for a few days after the move as well so plan for that as well. Take-out, freezer meals, sandwiches, etc...to get you through. If you have a grill - use it! And don't forget your paper plates :)
  
Take a moment to just let it all out! 
Cracking out!
   I mentioned at the beginning, moves take planning, patience, and understanding. I can help you Plan, but learning to have Patience with the process and the companies is all you. The area my family has had the biggest learning curve personally is Understanding. Every move is different, every age is different, even every day is different. We go into our moves knowing there is going to be upheaval and issues and back pain even. The cat will hide in the empty closets and the dog will go crazy about the new back yard. My child will crack out on the latest cartoon addiction for days while I try to unpack as quickly as possible all while telling myself the back pain is worth it as long as we can get back to "normal" quicker. My husband will keep the coffee pot running 24/7 just to survive the chaos and somewhere in there we will end up laughing at everything. Nothing will be normal but everything will be ok and through every move we learn a little more about each other and have a little more understanding for each other. Just remember that moves affect everyone differently. Step back occasionally and see how the ones you love are coping.




Don't forget to do a date in folks :) and Laugh!







Best Wishes,
Jules & Hubby 


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Not Uprooting just Replanting!

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My Boys are Crazy!!!
   We are moving. Again. I have moved so many times in my life that when I married my Airman moving was not a hangup in my mind, it was another part of our great adventure story. When we had our son, however, moving took a turn for the complicated. To adults, Movers who come in and pack up our stuff and move it onto a truck are lifesavers, grape flavored...to toddlers they are bad men who are disrupting their world and taking their stuff. In order to ease up on the issues that moving can create it takes a little planning and a lot of help. So as the master of lists I sat down and figured out what I needed to do to make this transition as easy on my son as possible. 

   We are moving in town. That in and of itself helps. While we love our current house and the big yard the distance from our stationed base is tough on our family. It cuts us off from our community and has made us feel isolated. So my husband suggested moving into Base Housing. We took a look (and I did some research into the floor plans, community layouts, drama issues, etc) and decided that all pros outweighed the few cons. We also found out that we qualified for a contracted move so my Husband and I don't have to lug the furniture ourselves up all those stairs! Thank goodness! It left us with a few things that needed to be handled that are pretty common across the board for moving.

  • My Child's Sanity
  • Cleaning
  • Food / Opened Products
  • Overnight Accommodations
  • Animals
So let's tackle these one by one.
My Child's Sanity: 
Awesome Splash Pad with Pixie Pads :)
 I know that it can be traumatizing whether he is there when it is happening or not but when professional movers come in they are loaded down with exacto knives, scissors, and tape guns. My child likes to touch everything. I like to monitor the movers as they care about the number of boxes over the fragile items being at the bottom...(read that as antique american flag under pile of stilettos last time we moved). Balancing those two can be tricky so we decided that having a family member come into town and taking care of Monkey was a better idea. He gets to spend time running around with family and going to fun places all while missing his house being torn apart. He gets to spend the night at a hotel room with them and then in his own room in the new house the next night if all goes according to plan. Changing rooms can be traumatic enough for a three year old. Try to eliminate the soon to be questions and issues by getting ahead of them. Pack a bag of toys up and hide them away till the day of. Pack an overnight bag including their favorite stuffed animal and PJ's. Anything needed for their bedtime routine as well, i.e. sound machines, humidifiers, etc. I know it sounds like a lot but it is about making them feel like they are at home to eliminate the possibility of screwing with their schedules. You will be tired enough, you don't need a toddler who doesn't want to sleep on top of that.

Cleaning:
   Most Yard Sale sites have people who are willing to clean for fairly decent prices. Ask for a Move Out clean. They will deep clean the bathrooms, kitchen, windows, and even the fans and baseboards. Most places have requirements for what needs to be cleaned before they will sign off on your move out. It will affect your deposit as well, so be aware of the cleaning. 
   I also like to have a carpet cleaner come in out of courtesy since we have a kid and animals. Most apartments will offer it but if you rent a house they won't. However it can also affect your deposit so plan wisely. If you have tile or wood Carpet Cleaning places can clean those as well but we use our Kirby personally (best Christmas gift ever from my Hubby). You also can use various cleaning products and do it yourself with a sponge and bucket and save yourself some money. I'm a fan of Seventh Generation everything personally so you could find something in their line to use that will be safe and effective.

Food / Opened Products:
I keep finding him sitting in the fridge
during the summer...like a pregnant chick :)
     No moving company will pack or move opened food or chemical containers. If you are moving out of town you just plan appropriately and  give things away or leave the cleaning and painting supplies behind. When you move in town you pack them in boxes and transport them yourselves. Just double check the lids on everything and throw a tarp or paint cloth down in your car to protect your interior in case anything spills. No reason to buy anything you don't need to so take your food with you. Your cupboards you can clean out ahead of time and take over as you go but your fridge you need to plan ahead for. Box quickly, take it straight over, and unpack right away. No need to waste food because of poor planning and the more food you save, the more money you save (which will come in handy as your wallet is probably hemorrhaging money right now). Don't forget to plan that before your cleaning crew comes in to the old house and after the new house fridge has been wiped down. 

Overnight Accommodations:
   We are using a Military amenity with this move. The Contracted Move is being paid for by the Air Force but the timing sometimes can take awhile. As well, our beds may not always be available to be used. You can ask the movers to save the beds to last but you will still end up with a night or two without a home or a bed so plan accordingly. If you are military, use the hotel on base and save some money. If you aren't take a look in advance at some hotels close to where you are moving and make a reservation for one night on either side of what you think you will need it for. You can always call and change the reservation as needed but better safe than sorry.

Animals:
A Boy and his Dog :)
 



  If you have animals please take them into consideration. If you have animals who are super sensitive (like our cat) board them at a place they know. If you can take their stuff to the new house first and get them set up in a safe area where you can close the door then do that. Just take into consideration that they are family too and they have their own temperaments. You don't want to traumatize them either with this. If they are easy going like our dog, a new bone in the new back yard is all he needs but hey...each animal is different so be considerate.






Military Specific:
  •  All On-Base moves possibly qualify for Contracted Moves. Check it out!
    • You will need your Pre-lease form for your AF150 form (double check to make sure that is still correct as the military always changes things :D)
    • Forest City is in charge of a lot of Privatized Base Housing but all Bases have their own websites with a housing link. Check your base to make sure who is in charge of yours. As well, it will help you research your area, floor plans, community plans, etc. 
    • Don't be afraid to request things like your preferred housing layout or community. It never hurts to ask! 
    • Once your AF150 is filled out (by the active duty member) you can request a start date for your move. Try to take holidays and weekends into account as they will slow things down, rack up hotel costs, and make things harder on your toddler. A little planning can go a long way so ask a lot of questions and whip out those calendars! 
   Moves are a part of our lives and I never run away from the adventure of them, but I do plan for them. I have a printable list that I use that breaks this entire blog down into easy reminders so I can check them off one by one (it makes me feel accomplished :D). You can print it HERE yourself! I hope your move goes as smooth as possible and just remember, whatever goes wrong just becomes a great story to tell later down the line. 


Best Wishes,
Jules & Monkey
   

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pre-Schooling Preparations

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Outside the Dallas, TX Museum of Science, such a fun day!

   ***Let me start this with every child is different and every parent is different. However, every preschool requires the same skills from our children upon starting.*** 
  
  I have a son that is this bright, fun loving, energetic child that seems to pick up on every skill I never want him to learn...read that: plunge rubber duckies in the toilet for fun.
Wandering the hallways before his surgery true Monkey style :)
However, due to some never ending ear infections when he was little he suffered from some blown ear drums, scarring, and even had tubes put in because I finally insisted on them (joy of military doctors) that led to some impaired speech ability. Because of this situation that God allowed in our lives, I was able to learn some things about not only hearing and speech but children as a whole and how they learn.
  
  First, kids will always be able to communicate. My son taught himself and me his own version of sign language when he was 6 months old. It was frustrating and tedious at times but it worked. Over time he learned words, created his own, or would just point.
   
   Second, children learn comprehension while they learn sounds and words. Up and down are not just noise. They have meaning. Our children learn to comprehend those meanings while they learn the sounds. 
   
   Third, we can create learning issues when hearing issues come into play. My son learned sounds wrong and did not learn to comprehend what they meant correctly because of the ear infections (he was hearing under water for over a year basically to over simplify his situation). To him learning became a disconnected exercise. 
  
    As a mom it can be disheartening to watch your child struggle to communicate and to be understood.  We want our children to enjoy their childhood and once we fix the pain we want everything to magically be better! Unfortunately life doesn't work that way and with preschool coming up I knew that my son would struggle and even start late if I didn't do something.  So I did what I do best and I did research.  I talked to everyone I could and found out that most children start out somewhat behind. What?! In Mississippi "more than 40 percent of students in Mississippi are not ready for kindergarten"  according to the study released last year. The article goes on to say that one of the kids in every class were reported to have to repeat kindergarten. Repeat Kindergarten!!!
                                                     What in the world!?! 



As mom's we assume because we prepare our kids to function in the home and not run in the road that they are OK in school. We teach them to not touch sharp objects, not talk back, use the big boy potty, be respectful, be careful when Superman flying off the back of the couch, fix their own snacks even but today's schools start farther ahead than when we were little. They want our kids to already know their numbers and colors and shapes. Those scissors that we tell them to leave alone, they need to know how to use them... And so our children start out behind.  I knew Monkey needed to play catch up but teachers every where are saying that all children need to be prepped. So that's what we are doing. It's taken a while but we got a rhythm down and even a few of our favorite supplies to share! 


To be fair, he was running away in
this picture...he made it to the garage before
turning around for dinner :)








So here's how:
   1. Give your child a ten minute warning so they can end what they are doing. Let them transition happily for better results.
   2. Take 30 minutes a day and play a game and / or read.
   3. Mix it up. Keep it fun. Monkey asks to do school now because he gets specific attention and plays "games". 
   4. Focus on specific goals. I personally like this print out from a former teacher. I keep it in his folder and check off the points as we reach those goals.
   5. Find a time during the day that is best for your child. Being well rested and full will help with their concentration. 
   6. Set expectations during school.  Focus, sit up, no getting out of your chair,  etc and be consistent!  We use our dining room table and Monkey knows to stay in his chair and listen to and follow requests. He sits up and because scissors are in play now we don't grab things. 
  7. Finally, pay attention to your child.  Some days they will just be off. Don't push it. If they are not able to get what you are teaching try a new method or a new time. It took months to figure out Monkey' s rhythm. It may take time for you too.
   
   The cool part is he learned 2 years of vocabulary in 6 months! I am one proud Mama over here :) He is a non-stop talking spit fire who has a huge dose of curiosity and sarcasm all rolled into one little body.  It takes patience and work but it is worth it. I know he will be ready for school when he starts now and that makes me breathe a sigh of relief. 
  
    Monkey has his own school box as well as a school bucket / shelf. Here are a few of my favorite multi-taskers as well as what he has (based on professional suggestions).

School Box:
 ~ Colored Pencils
 ~Crayons (jumbo sized for little fingers)
 ~ Pencil Sharpener
 ~Glue Stick (purple so we can see where it goes on)
 ~Safety Kids Scissors with an auto open spring
 ~Pipe Cleaners
 ~Stickers (cause they're fun :D)
**I found all of his stuff at the Dollar Tree**

School Bucket
 ~Construction Paper
 ~Assorted Pom-Poms (Sorting by size and color)
 ~Dr Seuss Matching Game (disclaimer: Monkey received this as a birthday gift from another really great Momma and it is a really long game but it can be used to find things by color, shapes, animals, pairs, etc...he even learned left, right, top, and bottom from this. It's one of his favorites and we haven't even played it with the cards face down yet :D)
 ~Mickey Mouse Matching Cards: Dollar General carries some great Disney sets that have colors, Shapes, and their favorite characters all rolled into one!
 ~Various other card sets that involve matching for pictures, words, shapes, numbers, etc...
 ~Brain Games Kids: Toddler Time ( This is a staple for us. Regardless of what else we do, we always do some of this book. It has a little of everything on a fun challenging template.)
                                            
   I knew with Monkey's background that we had some work to do. I didn't know though that he wasn't going to be as far behind as I was anticipating. With all of his hard work and the time and dedication throughout the day both in school and out he has caught up to where he needs to be. We are lucky enough now to be working on things that are fun and just extra at this point. I never thought a year ago we would be at this point. I'm grateful to come from a family of teachers that always emphasized education as a staple in life above all else but in all honesty, Monkey has done all the hard work. He is one dedicated little man! Just remember, no matter where you start that school at this age should be fun for them. Use it to get to know your kid better, enjoy the time with them, and no matter what... remember that they (like everybody else) have talents that don't always translate to a school desk. 

                                                  




Best Wishes
Jules, Monkey, Hubby, 
Mimi, and Papa MayMay
(the two original teachers :D)