Back to School 2009

Well, I survived the first week of school!
This year is one of the first years I was REALLY dreading going back.
I wasn't excited at all. Once August hit, I got really bummed that summer was almost over & that my days of hanging out with the girls all day were coming to an end. As long as some of the days staying at home with them feel, I really do love spending my days with them.
One reason that I wasn't looking forward to going back to school this year is because I am teaching more classes this year. After I had Kate, I started teaching part-time. Because I teach middle school, I don't have to job share, which is awesome! For the past 2 years, I have taught 4 classes each day & I was done at 11:45. It was a SWEET set up. I was usually home by noon & was able to have lunch with Kate before putting her down for her nap.

Well, this year we lost a math teacher at our school (because of budget stuff) and so the rest of the math department had to absorb her classes. Basically, I had to take another class because if I didn't, there wouldn't be anyone else who could teach it. So, now that means I teach 5 classes (teaching 6 is full time) and I have to stay through lunch because my last class is after lunch. Now, I am not done until 1:05.

I know it is only an hour and 20 minutes longer, but it seems much longer than that. The first week was crazy. By the time I picked up the girls & got home it was after 1:30 each day. I have to put Kate down for her nap as soon as we get home and that bums me out because I don't get to hang out with her until AFTER she gets up around 3:30 (or 4!).

Oh yeah, and we got new textbooks for the students, so I have to re-invent all my curriculum and plan everything from scratch. I have SO much prep work to do now. Blah.
Even though I am not thrilled with my new schedule, I am thankful that I have job at a school where I absolutely love teaching at. I love the school & love my co-workers/friends who I teach with. I find part of this ironic though because I DIDN'T want to teach more and there are so many teachers who were laid off or had there hours cut back because of budget cuts. So, I am trying to look on the bright side and be thankful for the situation I am in! I told Kevin that we should put the extra money I am making for teaching my extra class toward a fund for us to go to Hawaii next summer (hint, hint)

I think I have a great group of students this year. I have a set of twins that I baby sat when they were a few months old! I have my high school friend's younger brother in a class. And, I have one of our really close family friend's daughter in my class, which is always fun. I have over 35 students whose sibling I have had in years past.In one class alone, I have 16 students of siblings that I have had! Fun!

And, I really felt old when I realized that this group of students was born in 1997! Ack! That is when I graduated high school. I feel so old!

I have 150 students this year, so that means a lot of tests to correct and a lot of name to start memorizing. I hope to have them all memorized by the end of this week.

My favorite story for the week was from the first day of school. I went over my class policy, told them about my procedures, homework policies, etc.
At the end of class, this student comes up to me and says,
"Mrs. Larson, you do everything like my math teacher did last year. You remind me of her."
I asked him who his teacher was last year and he says, "I didn't go to this school, I went to GR".
(My younger sister teaches math at GR)
I say to the student, "Was Miss C. your math teacher?"
"Yes" , he says.
"That is my younger sister" I tell the student.

Oh my gosh, so funny! I can't believe I have one of my sisters old students. And, the funniest part is that when she started teaching 2 years ago, I told her all my policies & procedures and how I ran my classes, etc. because I think I have a pretty good system going on. So, she runs her math class pretty much identically to how I run my class.
Rebecca and I had a good laugh about that one.

The first week went smoothly. It helped that I got my hair cut & highlighted last Saturday and went back to school shopping for some new clothes. Horray for retail therapy.

I am SO extremely thankful to my mom and Kevin's mom who are still watching the girls for us while I am at work. My mom has even cut back her hours at work so that she can watch the girls for me. Thanks for the sacrifice you are making! The girls (and us) are so lucky to have their Grandmas watch them each day.

And, you probably noticed there are no pictures on this post. (ack!!!)
I haven't had time to take ANY pictures of the girls this week!
I haven't taken a single picture in a week. That must be some sort of record for me. A record I do not like!
I am charging my camera battery as we speak. I can't wait to get behind the lens tomorrow, I am itching to get some pics of the girls.


I was Featured!

Kate's Carnival Party was featured today at Creative Parties & Showers click HERE to check it out!

This is such a fun website that has a ton of great party planning tips & ideas. There are some fun & creative party ideas. I love this site!

I have been known to get a little out of control with party planning, but I LOVE planning parties! And, I really love going to parties!

I can't wait to share Claire's 1st birthday party that is coming up in a few weeks. I promised Kevin I wouldn't go over the top with her party.....


I wish..........

I started a blog when I was preggo with Kate.
I read blogs back in 2006 & 2007...why didn't I start one then? Silly Me!

Because I feel like I need to document some things for her on the blog, every once in awhile, I am going to start doing something called

"Flashback Friday"
stay tuned for Friday's post....


7 years

August 24, 2002
One of the best days of my life!
We dated for 5 months, got engaged on February 15th (yes, the day AFTER Valentines Day, Kevin doesn't like Hallmark Holidays) and 6 months later tied the knot
in front of 250 of our closest family & friends!
Me & my bridesmaids:I had 2 Maids of Honor, both my sisters!
Kevin & his groomsmen:
Our wedding party:
We look so young!
I love you, Kevin! Thanks for being an amazing husband & father.
I am beyond blessed!

Thanks for an amazing 7 years of marriage and for "not getting sick of" me yet ;)
And, this post wouldn't be complete without wishing my parents,
Happy 35th Anniversary!
Yes, we got married the same day as my parents. It happened to be a coincidence. August 24th was one of the only dates left in summer that we could get married (since we had such a short engagement), so we booked it!
Jimmy & Mimi: August 24, 1974


Jimmy's Homemade Ice Cream

Every year on the 3rd of July, my dad (Jimmy) makes homemade ice cream for the 4th of July Sausage Fest. Seriously, it is the BEST ice cream in the entire world.
It is not good for you, at all, but hey, it's only once a year, right?!?
I have been meaning to post this since the beginning of July, but I totally forgot about it until a few days ago when I was organizing my pictures. Oops!
So, here you go Jimmy's Homemade Ice Cream!
This is what you need:
All the ingredients above are for the "base" or if you wanted to make vanilla ice cream.
Vanilla is boring to our family, so we always make at least 2 flavors.
We ALWAYS make Cookies & Cream. It is hands down, THE BEST. So, grab a pack of these:
The other flavor we make is either Butterfinger or Reeces Peanut Butter Cup. I like Reeces SO much, but this year, Butterfinger was Jimmy's pick (that is his favorite)
This year, Jimmy decided to try out a new flavor. He decided to make a batch of Peppermint ice cream! We added these to the base:
Jimmy's recipe was adapted from this cookbook:
Here are the steps & ingredients for EACH batch in Jimmy "language"
I have deciphered it for you, because Jimmy talk is hard to understand!
(We made 3 batches, so we did these steps 3 times)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2.5 cups milk
7.5 egg yolks, beaten
2.5 tablespoons vanilla
4 cups whipping cream

Step 1: Add sugar, salt, milk to a saucepan & cook over medium heat:
Step 2: Beat the egg yolks:

Step 3: Add the egg yolks to the salt/sugar/milk mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until heat bubbles appear around edge of pan (about 10 minutes).
Step 4: Take mixture off the stove and cool to room temperature. We made an ice bath for it, like this:
Then we placed the saucepan in the ice bath for 10 minutes:
Step 5: Stir in vanilla to the cooled mixutre:
Step 6: Stir in the cream to the mixture:
Step 7: Strain the mixture into the ice cream canister (so that you don't get any clumps)
Step 8: Prepare your toppings! For the Cookies & Cream & Butterfinger, we crushed about 2 cups worth. We put them in a ziplock bag and used a rolling pin to crush them.
Step 9: Mix in half of the topping (about 1 cup) and then put in the ice cream maker spindle!
Now it's time for the ice cream maker!
Here is what you need for that:
Ice, Rock Salt & an Ice Cream Maker!
Step 10: Place can into wooden barrel. Alternate layers of rock salt & ice until you reach the top of the barrel:

Step 11: Plug in the Ice Cream Maker & let it do it's job!
Step 12: About 10 minutes in, check on your ice cream & then add the last 1 cup of topping:
Step 13: Plug the machine back in & let it continue churning. The machine will automatically stop when the ice cream is done!
This is what you will see:
Step 14: Take your ice cream from the canister & put it into tupperware.
We use these:
Remove the ice cream maker spindle:
And, pour into the tupperware!
One Batch of ice cream fits perfectly into 1 Large Ziploc Brand container:
That is what the Cookies & Cream looks like! It is AMAZING! The BEST Ice Cream EVER!
If you were to make more than 1 batch, then you would just make the "base" and then add whatever toppings or flavor you want. One batch makes a ton, but since we were making this for a large crowd at a party, we made 3 batches.
Here is what the Butterfinger looks like:

Here is the peppermint:
Note: We added 2 cups of crushed starmints & it wasn't minty enough, so you could always add a little peppermint extract.
The ice cream is really soft once you take it out of the maker, so we freeze our ice cream in the containers for a few hours to harden it up.
Step 15: Enjoy!!!!
Kate is a fan!
Jimmy's ice cream isn't hard to make. It takes a little bit of time, but it is WORTH it!
You can also make an extra batch to put in pint or quart tubs & store them in the freezer and give them away to friends
for their birthday. It is also the perfect dessert to bring to a friend with a meal after they have a new baby! You can't go wrong with homemade ice cream!


Adventures in Potty Training

Warning: This is a very long post about what it has been like to potty train Kate.
But there are some cute pictures of Kate at the bottom that have nothing to do with potty training. Feel free to skip the reading & scroll down to the pictures!

I decided to document some of the process so we can look back on it and remember what to do and not to do when we decide to potty train Claire.

We finally decided to potty train Kate, I mean she is 2.5 years old, it is about time.
To be honest, I haven't been in a rush to potty train her. I really didn't mind having 2 in diapers, it was actually convenient because I didn't have to be "bothered" by finding a bathroom for Kate if we were out running errands, at the park or on a trip.

My goal was to potty train Kate this summer, since I have it off and it would be a great time to do it.
I had planned on potty training her the first week of summer, but then she got strep, so I postponed the process until now. We had a lot of trips, vacations & events planned this summer and potty training was just going to get in the way of the.
So, with 1 week left before I go back to work, here we are!
We used the 3 day potty training method. It was pretty hard core, we followed it all, except we are using pull ups for naps & nighttime. First, I need to say that Kevin is a HERO because he took a week off work to support me in this venture & so we could also do a stay-cation this week. My husband rocks. For reals.

Preface - Monday, August 10
8:00 pm As we are putting Kate to bed, we show her all her big girl underpants (that she picked out with me at Target) She picks out the pair she is going to wear tomorrow & after we put on her diaper, we give the rest of her diapers to Claire.
*Technically, this is now August 11th*
1:00am -4:00 am Kate is WIDE awake, Kevin and I switch off going into her room, she is happy & wants cheerios. I have a feeling that Day 1 of cold turkey potty training is going to be rough...

Here is what we did for potty treats.
We have a step stool in their bathroom for her to use to wash her hands. The top step opens up & stores things. So, I put her potty treats in that:
Close up of her potty treats (gummy vitamins which she calls "candy", m&m's and stickers) If she goes pee, she gets 1 treat. If she goes #2, well, she gets 2 treats!
We even got her new Hello Kitty soap that she picked out:
Day 1 - Tuesday, August 11
8:30am - Kate wakes up crying. Great.
I go into her room & she tells me to turn off the lights "outside" (aka: the sun) and that she wants to go back to bed (what?!?)
I get her out of her crib & excitedly tell her that she gets to wear her big girl underwear today.
Kate's response? NO!!! Don't change my diaper, I want my diaper on.
"I don't want big girl underwear, I want my diaper"
Lots of crying from Kate. Lots.
I want to give up at this point, but I know that is pathetic.
Kevin comes in & is able to calm down Kate & we remind her that she is a big girl & that Claire needs her diapers.
She picks out her underwear & we go downstairs and make pancakes.
Every 15 minutes we say to her, "Make sure you tell mommy or daddy if you need to go potty"
She had 3 accidents before noon. Every time, we would take her to the bathroom & have her sit on the potty. She refused to sit on the potty & would arch her back to avoid it. Awesome....not.
In the afternoon, Kevin had a meeting for work that he couldn't miss, so he went to that for a couple hours.
Kate has another accident & then I clean her up & put her down for a nap. She is freaking out about not having a diaper on for her nap & is HYSTERICAL.
At this time, Claire has a huge poo, so I go change her. Kate is still SCREAMING & then Ihear her gagging and then puking. I run to Kate's room and she has thrown up in her crib, all over the bumper, bedskirt, the carpet below the crib & herself. I grab her & take her to the bathroom. she pukes 4 more times in the sink.
She was so upset about the trauma of potty training and not wearing a diaper that it caused her to get physically sick.
Can you say Mommy Guilt?
Kate is crying and I now I am crying. Ugh.
Kate end up hanging out on the couch with me & ends up falling asleep for about an hour (in her underwear) she wakes up dry & I tell her I am so proud & she gets an m&m. I feel like I needed to celebrate SOMETHING. ANYTHING.
She has 2 more accidents that afternoon. Kevin gets home and she tells Kevin she has to, the go upstairs & she actually sits on the potty for 10 seconds. She doesnt go, but I am thrilled she was actually willing to sit on it.
A few more times before bed, she asks to sit on the potty, but never goes pee on the potty.

As we go to bed that night, Kevin and I agree that we are in Potty Training Hell.
I am convinced that Claire will be potty trained before Kate.

Day 2 - Wednesday, August 12
9:30 Kate wakes up (pull up is wet) We take her to sit on the potty, she sits for about 2 minutes, doesn't go, but she isn't scared to sit on the potty!

For the next 2 hours, Kate tells us she needs to go potty probably 1o times. Each time we take her to the potty, she sits for a few minutes but doesn't go. That is okay, at least she is sitting on the potty & telling us. She tells us that she is a big girl, she wears underwear and Claire is a baby who wears diapers. I am feeling hopeful...she is starting to get it, right?!?!

12:00 She has an accident in the bathroom, she didn't make it to the potty in time. She almost made it!
We try and put her down for a nap at 2 (we put on her pull up, which we call her special sleeping underwear) She tells us she has to poop (which is probably true, she hasn't gone in 2 days and I have mixed in prune juice with her regular juice for the past 2 days (she gets stopped up sometimes)
We sit in the bathroom while she tries to poop for an hour, on and off, on and off.
5:00 she FINALLY goes pee on the potty!!!!
She held it for 5 hours. I am impressed, she has a strong bladder.

The rest of the night, she keeps telling us she has to poo, and we pretty much hang out in the bathroom for 2 hours on and off while she tries to go. No poop.
Kate goes to bed & at 10:30 she calls to us & tells us she has to the potty. And, she does! Yay! Then at 4 am she wakes up saying the same thing, and sure enough she goes again! She is finally starting to get it!

What a difference a day makes!

Day 3 - Thursday, August 13

Kate wakes up at 9:00 and her pull up is DRY!
She went on the potty 3 times after she got up, but didn't actually pee.
We go downstairs to make breakfast and she has an accident.
2 steps forward, 1 step back.
The rest of the day, she does great and tells us she has to go on the potty every 15 minutes. She doesn't have an accident the rest of the day.
The only issue is that she still hasn't gone poop, so I am adding prune juice to her apple juice AND I put Benefiber in her milk.
All day, she was telling us she had to go poop and would sit and sit and sit on the potty trying to go. I could tell she was in pain & just needed to get it out.
Finally, that night, she went poop and then went again, and then went again.
Poor thing, this was at 10 at night and we kept having to get her out in and out of her crib. The good news is that she made it to the potty everytime, so there were no poop accidents!
But, this potty training thing has REALLY screwed up her naps & nighttime sleep. Normally she sleeps from 7:30/8pm to 7:30/8am every night and takes a 2 hour afternoon nap. She has been so concerned and focused on going on the potty that she tells us every 5 minutes at night that she has to go on the potty. This goes on from about 8 pm to 10 pm at night. It has been exhausting.
Day 4 - Friday August 14
Kate wakes up dry again & goes pee on the potty as soon as she gets up.
We went to the zoo with friends today (pictures of that coming soon)
I was curious to see how Kate would do in a public setting, especially because she doesnt like the big toliet and refuses to sit on ours at home.
Well, I was right, she would not sit on the potty at the zoo despite telling us she needed to go. Finally as we were leaving, I took her to the potty 1 more time and she actually sat on it! She didn't go pee, but it's the baby steps people!

Kevin and I went out to dinner tonight & his parents watched the girls for a few hours.
We dropped the girls off & told Kate that Grandma only had a big toilet at her house, so she would have to go on that. And, it worked! She sat on it several times & wasn't scared of it anymore.
When we picked them up and got back to our house, Kate went on the big potty at our house also & even went pee in it.

Our goal is to get rid of the little potty in the next week or so!

But, again tonight, she wouldn't go to sleep because she kept telling us she had to go pee every 2 minutes. She is using this as a ploy to not go to bed. So, we need to figure out the balance of that. We are sick of taking her to the potty 30 times after she is in bed, but at the same time, don't want her to wet the bed. She needs to go to sleep and not stay up until 10 pm going to the bathroom every 2 minutes. Some of those times, she actually squeezes out a little pee, so we don't know what to do with that. She is manipulating the nighttime situation & we are getting worked by a 2.5 year old!

All in all, I feel pretty good about Kate's progress the past few days.
Is she 100% potty trained? No, but she is getting close.
It has been amazing to see what she has done in the past 4 days. We went cold turkey from diapers to underwear & I am so proud of her. She is totally catching on & aware of her body. Kevin and I need patience and encouragement the next few days and weeks or until she totally "gets" it. I feel good about what she has proven to us in 4 short days.

Here are some random pics of Kate that I took the other day. Don't worry, they have nothing to do with potty training. Since this post is only on potty talk, I thought I would change the subject and end it with some cuteness of Kate helping me water flowers.


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