Friday, January 31, 2014

Jake's 6 year old check up, other updates

Jake had his big yearly check up a few weeks ago, and everything was right on track!

Height: 44.75 inches (36th percentile)
Weight: 41 lbs (20th percentile)

Tall and thin seems to be his consistent body type for the past few years...though if he doesn't watch out, our little bruiser, Liam is going to catch up to him soon! :)  The doctor said everything looked great, and he was pleased with his development.  We discussed a bit of nutrition stuff, since Jake is a very typical 6 year old who would survive on chicken nuggets if given the chance.  But since we don't really give him that chance, he often times will turn up his nose to a meal that he scarfed down the week before (??  I don't understand it either)  The doctor assured me that this is all completely normal, and as long as I'm offering healthy choices and (within reason) giving him options that he can fill up on (fruit, veggies, etc) then it's fine.  He said kids this age are known for eating huge portions one day, and hardly anything the next...or eating a huge lunch, then just picking at dinner.  He said he is completely ok with his growth, which has been consistent, so there's no need to press the issue.  PHEW! 

Last week, I had the chance to go into Jake's class for what they call "Fantastic Friday"; basically, it's a chance for parents to come in and either showcase a talent that they may have, or just do a project or read a book to the kids.  Since my talents consist of analyzing celebrity gossip and discussing reality shows in depth, I was stumped and felt like I wanted to do a bit more than go in and read a random book.  A friend of mine suggested a simple magic trick (thanks, Meghan!) so I found this super easy one on the Real Simple site and the kids loved it!  I also checked out some story books about magic from the library, and printed out some magic hat/wand coloring pages.  we were set for the afternoon!  It was so much fun to see Jake in his little world, with all of his little friends.  I'm so glad that the school does that, it was really a fun afternoon.  I decided to surprise him after that since he lets out of school much earlier than I normally pick up Liam, and we went bowling! 

I would like to showcase the fact that he beat me fair and square in the second game.  With bumpers.

Game #1
Game #2.  My skills fell apart.

I leave you with a cute pic of my little Lego builder, showing off some of his finished projects recently:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Recipe: Ranch Pesto Rigatoni Bake

Ranch Pesto Rigatoni Bake

1 box rigatoni (I didn't have rigatoni and used ziti, it was fine)
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup prepared pesto
28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained and slightly rinsed
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (I only ended up using 1 cup, see note below)

Cook and drain rigatoni, return to pot. Stir in ranch dressing, pesto, diced tomatoes, and one cup shredded mozzarella. Transfer pasta to a 2 quart baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella and parsley. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes until cheese is completely melted. 

*My notes: I thought the extra cup of cheese on top sounded like an excessive amount of cheese, so I just totally omitted that and it was good.  I do think it would have been too cheesy or too much like a traditional baked ziti if you did that.  Leaving the cheese out left it with more of just a light sauce. This ended up being a hit, and the recipe as is made a ton, we got 2 dinners out of it.  Original recipe found on pinterest, from the Mostly Homemade Mom blog. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jake's 6th Birthday Party--Cowabunga!!!

Last year for Jake's party, you may recall that I was feeling temporarily insane brave and decided to host a "Superhero Training Academy" at our house for Jake and 20 of his closest friends.  Plus their parents.  It was a great time and I don't regret it, but lesson learned!!  This party was being held some place where I didn't reside or have to clean after.

The answer as to where that would be was pretty easy when we went to a laser tag party for another friend a few months ago and the kids had a blast....Jake immediately requested the same for his party.  Works for me!  We found a laser tag place even closer to our house....Laser Storm ended up being a fun venue for the party!  Jake had also requested a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme (did we know these had made a huge comeback recently?) so I was able to throw in a few decorative elements to give him that theme. 

Here are some before pictures at our house....all of my boys were rocking TMNT shirts (Brian happened to already own one from a 90's themed party we went to last year, so that was handy!):

I didn't have a Ninja Turtle shirt (*sniff, sniff*) but they took pity on me and let me in some pictures anyway:

Time to head to the party!  We had quite a number of lil' ninja turtles coming (18 friends!) so we were put in the biggest party room they have, I can't speak to the size of the others.  But the one we had was sufficient, though left very little room for the parents to be.  Some of them were in the room, but most were hovering outside of the party room.  Which is ok for this age, the kids are totally fine by themselves anyway. 

Like I said, I didn't do too much as far as the ninja turtle theme (I had a whole pinterest board with homemade decorations and stuff, but really at the end of the day, I knew Jake would be happy with a new turtles shirt, some plates and some favor that's what I stuck with and made things easier on myself this year!!)  Simplify: my theme of 2014. 

Laser Storm provided a cake, but I also brought in a tray of brownies (and couldn't resist adding some turtles onto the top since I didn't order a themed cake this year!)

I forgot to get a shot of the favor bags, but I hit the jackpot at the dollar spot in Target right before Christmas (75% off!!!) and scored some markers, stickers, and stampers.  Threw all of that into a Ninja Turtles favor bag (and provided the masks on the table for the kids to take home) and the favors were covered. 

Time to party!! 

After assembling the kids in their adorable masks for a quick pic, they were off to the laser tag area!  I think it's safe to say that Jake and his friends had an absolute BLAST!  There were some kids who were a bit nervous to go in, but most of them were able to be calmed down and just a few had to have their parents join in at the last second.  But everyone came out of that arena talking excitedly about their adventure in there, with huge smiles on their faces.  That's all I needed.  Party success. 

After that, it was time to refuel their energy with some food!  Pizza was optional at the party place, so we got a few pizzas for everyone...they also let you bring in your own food, so my parents were kind enough to pick up a huge tray of chicken fingers and popcorn chicken from walmart for us.  There wasn't a ton of leftover food, so I'd say it was a hit. 

Time for cake and singing!

Look at the birthday boy's smile :)  love it.

After enjoying some cake/brownies, it was time for presents.  This kid hit in the jackpot in terms of Legos, which is awesome because he is obsessed!!

The birthday party package came with arcade tokens for each kid, so they were off and running after the presents!

Overall, I was happy with Laser Storm and would recommend it.  As I said, the party package included the cake, the room (with one party coordinator...that would be my only criticism, with 20 kids, I think there should have been 2 coordinators...our guy looked overwhelmed!), arcade tokens, drinks, paper products, and one game of laser tag.  They allowed me to bring in outside food, which was nice and had no issue putting out my tablecloths and masks on the table that I had dropped off the night before. 

It was an excellent "Shell-ebration".  Get it, SHELL-ebration, like the turtles?  Oh, nevermind.....

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Book Review: "The Girl You Left Behind" by Jojo Moyes

The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes

Description from France, 1916:  Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.

Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.

My review: I would definitely recommend this book, I couldn't put it down, especially about halfway through when the story really started to pick up. It was heartbreaking at times, but definitely worth the read.  If you liked Sarah's Key, you would love this book! 

Up next: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Do you want to build a snowman?

If your kids have seen Frozen and are anything like my kids, you probably now have the "do you want to build a snowman?" song stuck in your head.  You're welcome. On a related note, if you haven't gone to see Frozen yet....what are you waiting for?  One of my favorite Disney movies of all time.  It's right up there with The Little Mermaid for me, which is saying a lot. 

Anyway---I'm behind on posting pictures, so these are from two weekends ago when we still had a bit of snow on the ground.  At almost 40 degrees, it felt downright balmy outside!! 

There was some snowman building:

What?  You don't take selfies with your snowmen??

And there was some sledding!

Don't adjust your screen.  That's really me.  Outside.  On a sled.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Happy birthday, Jake!!

Dear Jake,

My buddy.  My little man.  Part of my heart.  You are six. SIX. You've had a big year this graduated from preschool and moved on to kindergarten. The transition was not an easy one for you, but I am proud of you for going there when you didn't want to, making friends when it wasn't easy for you, and being willing to learn every day.  The things you come home to tell me, and the knowledge you have acquired recently is amazing.  Your daddy and I are so proud of how far you've come in the past few months!!

Your strong suit really seems to be math, which I'm exceptionally happy about, since that is my weak area.  You are still working on your sight word skills, and becoming better and better about sounding out all kinds of words.  Sometimes you are frustrated because you can't read "all by yourself" just yet, but you are getting there....I know it will come to you soon and I can't wait to see it all click for you. 

Your favorite things right now seem to be superheroes, ninja turtles, Legos, and cars.  You are still into watching "Jake and the Neverland Pirates", "Octonauts", and the occasional "Scooby Doo".  You and Liam have been very into "movie days" lately, where you talk me into making popcorn and snuggling up under blankets for a movie on the weekends.  It's nice to have the downtime with both of you boys, and Daddy and I enjoy catching up on some of our favorite kids movies with you :)

You are still a fierce skier, and it never ceases to amaze me.  While you're cautious about many other things in life, you are fearless out on the slopes.  You show a lot of determination, for such a young guy, and I love that. If you're out in the yard playing baseball with daddy, you want to make sure you swing that bat so that you nail the ball.  If you're coloring a picture, you want to make sure you stay in the lines and use all the right colors.  If you're building a Lego set, there is no doubt in my mind that it will be perfect because I know you are following those directions to a T and will go back and fix anything that's wrong.

We are so proud of you, and we can't wait to see what you do next!! Happy birthday!!  

2.5 months old
1 year, 4 months
1.5 years...and one of my most favorite pictures of Jake, ever.
2.5 years old
3 years old...first time skiing
4 years old
5.5 years old
alllllmost 6 years old :)

Some mommy and me shots:
2 weeks old
a little over a year
2.5 years old
4.5 years old
5 years old

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2013 Reading Recap

 Here is the full list of books I've read in 2013 (have to post it here so I can delete it off of my sidebar to make room for the 2014 list!):

  • "Then Came You" (Jennifer Weiner)
  • "The Fault in our Stars" (John Green)
  • "Looking for Alaska" (John Green)
  • "Infamous" (Lauren Conrad)
  • "The Time of My Life" (Cecilia Ahern)
  • "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" (Maria Semple)
  • "The Engagements" (Courtney Sullivan)
  • "Seating Arrangements" (Maggie Shipstead)
  • "Bossypants" (Tina Fey)
  • "The Blue Bistro" (Elin Hilderbrandt)
  • "The Language of Flowers" (Vanessa Diffenbaugh)
  • "Summer Rental" (Mary Kay Andrews)
  • "I've Got Your Number" (Sophie Kinsella)
  • "Then Came You" (Jennifer Wiener)
  • "Starstruck" (Lauren Conrad)
  • "The Baker's Daughter" (Sarah McCoy)
  • "Fodor's Guide to Disney World 2013"
  • "Dreamfever" (Karen Moning)
  • "Shadowfever" (Karen Moning)
  • "Reconstructing Amelia" (Kimberly McCreight)

Some of those books were just so, so....but I have to say, this might have been my best year of books in a long time!  I really really loved so many of those books.  If I had to pick my favorites, they would be (in no particular order):

I just finished one called Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee that was just ok. Currently, I'm reading The Girl You Left Behind, by JoJo Moyes and it's very good!  Looking forward to making a dent in my book wish list in 2014!

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