Saturday, September 27, 2014

I Spy Letters

Harley and I are in the Year-Before-Kindergarten-Crunch. What that means at our house, is cramming everything we should have been working on since birth into 10 months. This is futile effort to catch my kid up to the kid who will be reading Steinbeck novels on his first day of Kindergarten.  I made an I SPY JAR for Nash before he started school to help him recognize his letters. Now the time has sadly come for Harley to take her turn with the I SPY JAR.  It is just rice and letter beads wrapped in a mason jar, with an accompanying packet of alphabet sheets. She circles a letter when she finds it, then tells me what the letter is, and occasionally she attempts to make the sound of that letter.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Typical Saturday

Don't you love the fall?  You can definitely feel autumn in the air here and along with it comes the busyness of the season.  Our Saturdays are spent going from one game to the next and trying to squeeze in time to watch our Cougars play football in the evening.  Harley started soccer a few weeks ago and she loves it.  She is very aggressive, which is no surprise with two big brothers. We think she is the cutest thing in cleats.
Nash is playing fall baseball. He is a talented little player and it is a ton of fun to watch him. 
He was also the youngest player at a special basketball camp  hosted by Christian Laettner of Duke Basketball fame. So, now he is shooting hoops every night that he isn't practicing baseball.

Atley is also playing soccer, mostly because he thinks we really want him too.  His games are long and a little too serious to suit him but it is good exercise.  He recently tried out for Musical Theater Club at his school. There were a little over 200 students who auditioned and only 60 accepted. We are happy to announce that Atley was one of them and will be performing Les Miserables in January. I don't have any pictures of him playing soccer or performing yet but here is a picture of him being punished for using POTTY talk during dinner time.  Yes, he was banished to eating his dinner on the potty.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Harley's Excuses

This is Harley and her friend A. Don't let that cute little face fool you, Harley is a master at getting exactly what she wants. She is full of a million excuses too. She hates cleaning up after herself and comes up with some real doozies to get out of work. Here are a few of her most recent excuses:

1. (Using a Robot Voice) "I'm not capable of that. I am a robot."
2. I'm allergic to working.
3. I'm sick. I think I have type 2 Diabetes.
4. (Using an Asian Accent)  I no understand. I a Chinese people.
5. I can't mom. I'm a lazy person. It is just who I am. You gotta get used to it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

School DAZE

My minions went back to school last week and we are already feeling over-scheduled, overly tired and pretty much OVER the excitement. I have enjoyed reading on Facebook and hearing from other mom's their reaction to the start of school. Some are super excited, some are super sad and everyone has an opinion.  Mine opinion falls somewhere in between those two sentiments. I shed plenty of tears when the boys boarded the bus and when I dropped Harley off at her first day of REAL preschool.  They are growing up. They are another year older and they think they are another year wiser too. I am also another year older and therefore they will never catch up to the wisdom of their mother.  For the first time in ten years, I have 2 hours to myself per day.  At first I thought like Harley when she said to me, "How depressing it must be to go home without anyone there to play with." I have to admit though, that part is pretty AWESOME. The house is finally getting back in working order and I am so caught up on life that I am contemplating a mini-Teen Wolf marathon this afternoon. Guilty Pleasures. THAT IS THE GOOD PART!
 What I hate about school is the 4 hours between the end of the school day and bed. There is no longer time for fun or adventure or playing. In fact, most days I feel like their is no longer time for childhood.  School forces me to become the ultimate TIGER MOM. The boys have oodles  and oodles of homework each night. Not to mention this week alone we have piano, soccer practice, two soccer games,  baseball practice, two baseball games, theater try-outs, trumpet practice, cub scouts, ballet and two back-to-school-nights where the teachers, administrators and PTA princesses make me feel like my child is not involved in nearly enough after school activities to ever become a well-rounded, successful adult. So, they throw 3 dozen more options at me and tell me how any or all of these activities are vital to my child's development. And I go home exhausted and totally confused. I need a cookie and a Diet Coke. To me back-to-school means this:  You better enjoy those 2 hours of alone time this afternoon because the rest of your day is going to be a living hell of driving, yelling, helping with homework, yelling, making dinner, yelling, driving, yelling, encouraging the practice of piano or trumpet or baseball, or soccer, yelling, driving, yelling, trying to get kids showered or bathed, yelling,reading e-mails about bad behavior, yelling, trying to get kids in bed, yelling, making lunches for the next day, crying. Hold on, I need another cookie and another Diet Coke. That is why I HATE SCHOOL! It is TOO MUCH, too much work, not enough recess, too much competition, not enough fun, too much to do, not enough down time.  Let some things go you say, don't over-schedule yourself, you say.  Go ahead and let your kid be the ONLY one who isn't proficient in three languages and can solve calculus problems in his head while dribbling a soccer ball, you say. Is this life everywhere or do I just live around a bunch of pretentious overachievers? 
BREATHE! As you can see we are still trying to find the right balance in our home.  That happy place where everyone is doing well enough in school, getting daily exercise, learning a musical instrument, developing their talents and mom isn't a raving lunatic.  
 AHH, but look how cute they are on the first day!  Atley is now a SAFETY PATROL. (Terrifying, right?) And of course Harley is running the world of miniature people. Did we ever really have a doubt?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My New Gig

The amazing ladies from the website SUGARDOODLE have asked me to write a weekly blog called, well, obviously Making Memories with the Butler Family. Sugardoodle has been one of my favorite resources for years, so I am very excited to be a part of this inspired site. They recently launched an updated and much more user-friendly site with lots of new features and some great information. I will be posting in THE SOUL SPA area of the site along with some great writers who are full of valuable information to help make our lives and relationships better and more meaningful.  Check it out!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

National Book Festival

We made our annual pilgrimage to the Library of Congress' National Book Festival this weekend. The festival moved from the National Mall to the Washington Convention Center this year and I am still trying to decide if that is better or worse. The highlights of our day included:  

1. Visiting of the Hall of States where Atley collected maps from each of the fifty states and from all the U.S. Territories
2. Exploring the PBS Kids Booth where Harley got to meet Peg and Cat, plus Curious George
3.  Meeting Captain Underpants and having his author sign our Captain Underpants book
4. Getting lots of free books, pencils, coloring books, book marks, stickers, buttons, rulers, posters, etc.
5. Lounging on the comfy bean bags enjoying our books

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Philadelphia Freedom

When our trip to the beach was rained out, we were forced to make alternative plans.  Instead, we took the kids to Pennsylvania with three objectives; visit Valley Forge, go to the King of Prussia Mall, and do all the touristy Philly stuff.
First stop was Valley Forge, where George Washington and his troops spent winter quarters during the Revolutionary War. We opted for the driving tour which gave a general overview of the conditions and history of Valley Forge and the war. Everyone learned lots, some more than they ever wanted to learn. My mom teases me that whenever I plan something for the family it always has to involve some historically significant learning experience.  And I guess she is right, but it really isn't because I am so anal about my kids learning this stuff. It is just because I am a really big nerd and those are the things I like to do. They will probably grow up to resent me for all the historical sites I have dragged them to, but they will thank me if they ever find themselves on JEOPARDY or WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE!
Baby George and Baby Martha

Sleeping like the soldiers slept, 12 to a cabin.
Monument to Revolutionary War Heroes.
Another Creature Captured.
Dandelion Wishes
Where George and Martha stayed during winter quarters. Just a tad nicer than the enlisted men's cabins.
The King of Prussia Mall is the largest mall in America.  Even bigger than the Mall OF America. So, we assumed it would be full of really cool things, like maybe a roller coaster or a fishing pond or something equally spectacular.  But, it was just a mall. After an hour, onward we went to Philadelphia.
I am a firm believer that food is an essential part of making any trip a success and Philly is famous for its food.  So, our first food stop was an early breakfast at Reading Terminal.  This is an old train terminal turned Farmer's Market/Fish Market/Craft Fair/Food Paradise.  It is full of Amish delicacies and wares among many other tasty treats. Atley and I opted for freshly baked donuts from Bieler's.  We ordered a dozen varying from Maple Bacon, S'mores, Pumpkin Cream, Peanut Butter & Chocolate, Glazed; really the possibilities were endless. I have NEVER tasted anything so amazing in my life. Scott, Nash and Harley decided on Crepes and they claim their food was even better. DOUBTFUL! For lunch we headed to South Philly to John's Roast Pork.  Scott had a traditional cheese steak and I had the roast pork with spinach. Delectable, but Scott said he preferred Tony Luke's steaks because Tony uses Cheez Whiz.
Yes, we ate dinner at Tony Luke's because you can never have too many Cheese Steaks or premature deaths by heart-attack. What else is there to do in  Philadelphia other than eat greasy-bad-for-you food? Why let me show you?
Independence Hall, where it all happened.
Atley copying a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Inside Independence Hall where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed.
Benjamin Franklin's Grave
Betsy Ross House

Throughout the historic district are little benches with signs that read, "Once Upon a Nation" where you can hear a kid-approved story about the founding or the founders of our country.

Inside Christ's Church sitting in George Washington and Benjamin Franklin's pews respectively. 

Philadelphia's nickname is the City of Brotherly Love and I witnessed two acts of brotherly love while we were there.  Perhaps I have grown a little callous when it comes to beggars on the street.  I usually avert my eyes and clutch the kid's hands a little tighter.  But, while visiting I saw genuine acts of kindness extended to those less fortunate. First,  I saw one gentleman give a homeless woman an entire box of Bieler's donuts outside of Reading Terminal. Then, I saw another individual bring a homeless man a cup of hot coffee. Simple things, not beyond my ability to bestow upon someone else. It made me reevaluate my actions and what they teach my children.

My Tiny Dancer

Our Special Harbor

We spent one afternoon at an awesome and totally free Spray Park called Our Special Harbor last week.  Not only is it a super fun spray park (only kids under 12) but there is an amazing play park beside it. Also helps that you can buy yummy Italian Ice there as well.