Aylin Marie is 6!!!

How on earth did that really happen? Sorry for the belated post, I had been waiting for the full birthday festivities to conclude, and since they spanned more than a week... Her birthday was on a Thursday, so I surprised her with waffles in bed before getting ready for school. She also came home to balloons and presents that I wasn't going to let her open until after her father got home. I'm such a meanie... :D She also had ballet that evening, so she had to wait until we got home from that before we let her tear open all her gifts. Then Friday evening is when we had the family birthday dinner and cake. We had a blast filling up balloons and decorating with Uncle Richard. The birthday girl was rather particular in her requests for the evening. She wanted waffles for her birthday dinner, she wanted a "round chocolate cake with layers, smooth chocolate frosting, and pink strawberry frosting for the words and decorations, and strawberries on it for decoration. Also sparkly candles for the cake" She got all of those things, except for the sparkly candles. We had snow early in the week and I wasn't able to make it to the store. I ordered, instead, some fun candles from Amazon that had colored flames to match the candles. That was apparently not an acceptable substitution.

After the birthday evening, part of her birthday gift from mom and dad was a special day out at the mall with mom. This included a lunch out to a place of her choosing, pedicures, and a movie. She chose P.F. Changs, and we got a super yummy dessert with chocolate and raspberries. Then we enjoyed a little pamper time and pretty toes. We had intended to stroll around the mall, but it was SO. Cold! We had snow flurries while we were out walking. So we made a stop in to the candy store, and popped in a few other placed before finally ending up at the movie theater where we watched Paddington Bear.

To end it all, she got to spend the following weekend (SLEEPOVER!!) with Papa Joe and Grandma Linda in Harrison where she was thoroughly spoiled and loved on. All the while Jeff and I jumped on the opportunity for a kid-less weekend, and took our friends up on an invitation to enjoy their cottage for the weekend. The snow ALMOST kept us from the fun weekend away, but in the end we made it to our destinations safely, and back home with no major issues.

Fabulous February Snow Day #2 2.17.15

So we got to have 2 snow days in a row after a week of intersession. So here are a few things we did to keep occupied:

Aylin could NOT wait, once again to get out and play in the snow. It was a struggle just to get her to wait until 8am. She just had to make faces in the snow so she piled up the snow on the sidewalk, I gave her some oyster crackers and frozen beans to use to make faces. Then the left over crackers she made a bowl in the snow so the birds could eat them. Such a sweetheart. <3

After a bit of snow time found The Last Unicorn on Amazon Instant and caught some oldschool flix. Then I introduced her to the joys of mac and cheese with hot dogs. We also made a grape Sno Cone with grape koolade, she was ecstatic. :D

Next I made some oatmeal scotchies! and Aylin made a fun marshmallow rainbow!
Then we topped the day off with a cold weather classic: Potato Corn Chowder.

and I was SO THANKFUL that school was back in session on Wednesday!!! :D

Fabulous February Snow Day #1 2.16.15

We're enjoying a fabulous February snow day, the first of the 2014-2015 school year. Aylin could hardly wait to get out into the snow. It was straight up 8am when she burst out the front door. Dressed with 2 pairs of leggings with a pair of knee high socks on top, and gloves that didn't stay on for very long. The squealing and giggling lasted pretty well the whole 30 minutes she spent out there. Then she had the bright idea to request a cup so she could fill it and make a Sno Cone. So once she warmed up enough in front of the fireplace she made a Sno Cone with her cup of snow and an apple juice box. To kill a bit of time and get my morning devotional in (that i usually wait to work on after she's off to school...) I turned her loose with craft supplies and she cut, glued, and glittered till her heart's content. Then, of course, the day called for grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch. So now we're settled in, enjoying a bit of down time watching Mary Poppins!

I hope everyone else is staying warm and cozy and enjoying a lazy day as well as you can! :)


Aylin Jan - Feb 2015

Here are a few fun things that have been happening the last couple of months with Aylin:

1) The Ginger Girl is going to start taking ballet - She is SUPER EXCITED (if I cold make those words glow and sparkle maybe then it would truly convey her excitement). We're joining some friends from community group where the ballet is taught at a church and they use praise and worship music. It'll be fun to have friends to do an after school activity with. At the end of 3 months they do a recital, and Aylin is already geared up for it even though she hasn't yet attended her first class. She's also thoroughly convinced that she already knows every thing there is to know about ballet and she's just going to go dance with friends. I love her confidence, but sometimes... Oy.


2) And before ever introducing the idea of ballet lessons to the Ginger Girl simply cannot keep still if there is a groovy beat (or soft and flowing music, just any music at all really), so here she is dancing along at one of our runs to Starbucks.


3) THIS is a super fun kiddo. She was a real trooper when some of my intricately planned details ended up in the trash. The PLAN had been that on this particular Friday I would attend her school's monthly assembly (otherwise known as BASH) where she'd get called as a February Birthday, and then I would stay for the day at the school and assist with the class Valentines party. However the class party ended up moving to Thursday instead and I had a conflict and was then unable to attend. So I still attended BASH, where she not only got her Happy Birthday recognition, but ALSO got an AWARD for Extraordinary Effort (WOO)! Then I stayed and had lunch with her and we did crazy things like take goofy photos and look up silly cat pictures on my phone.


4) This is the sweetheart who was ecstatic to have her Daddy go attend the "Doughnuts with Dad" event at school with her.


5) The Ginger Girl enjoying her raspberry Hot Chocolate at Kennedy Coffee which HAS HER NAME ON IT (Oh my goodness the excitement was so real). We had a super fun family date night where we went to Chili's for dinner followed up with yummy hot drinks for all.


6) The Ginger Girl growing up without my permission... The headphones and ipod in her big chair just really get me. How did she get this big?!


7) The Ginger Girl on her FAVORITE thing EVAR at the playground. This girl just HEARTS swings. I'm confident that if we had one in our yard we would almost never see her. When she talks about recess at school it almost always involves the swings and who she was with on the swings. 


8) PIANO - Oh my goodness! I can't even, ya'll. My heart is so full right now. When we first acquired the piano from the sweet Acosta family Aylin was not interested in being shown how to play (reference previous point about knowing all about ballet before even taking a lesson...) so I just let it be for a while. I didn't want to force it and for it to become not fun. My mom sent me a lot of my old piano music - including lots of the beginners workbooks that I used when I learned how to play so many moons ago. Well we've hit a sweet spot finally! She wanted to learn how to play an actual song, rather than something she made up. So we're starting out very slowly and "lessons" only take place when they're requested. But we're both loving the process right now, and I'm ecstatic to be able to teach her.


9) And last but not least (And clearly my photos are out of order...) The Ginger Girl all dolled up for our sweet friend's - Joel & Cari - wedding. What a beautiful day that was, and we all had so much fun! Woo!

Pulling back from Facebook and reviving the blog!

In an effort to pull back from my facebook usage, I intend to start using the blog as my means to "update the world" on the goings on in the Melton Casa. As a result I intend to start doing more frequent updates, most likely monthly, on what Aylin is up to along with all her fun pictures. If I can manage it I may even process through a back log of photos and post date some posts. We'll see how much time I get and how much I actually end up managing.

You've been warned! :D

A day with The Ginger Girl and her Valentines

My day with the Ginger Girl at school:

First was BASH (!!!!!!!)

Birthday recognitions

Extraordinary Effort winner for her class

Then I surprised her and told her that I'd be coming back to have lunch with her, and the following is a result of our sillies at lunch:


And as a tag-along for Valentines since I wasn't able to make her Valentines day party these are the super cute Valentines we made for her class. I can't even tell you how tickled I was when she announced that she wanted to *make* her Valentines this year. We had made them the last few years at preschool, but I was sure she would want one of the store bought Frozen themed (or Hello Kitty!) Valentines. But NO! She wanted to make them. "You're a hoot valentine!"

At the Valentine Party

2014 - A look in the rearview

January

By January we were already sick and tired of snow, and being cooped up in the house. So. Much. Snow.

February

Aylin turned 5.

We added pets to the Melton Casa - FISH

Jeff received his 1 year evaluation which was hugely positive, and awesome considering he had completely changed career fields.

Teena hit the 5 pounds lost mark.

March

Jeff ran a 10k

Jeff and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary.

April

I (Teena) walked across the overpass bridge separating me from Bentonville and walked the 2.5 miles to the square in downtown Bentonville.

Jeff ran a 5k with his work buddies, while Aylin and I participated in the fun run. While doing so I realized that maybe I could do this running thing, too.

Teena hit the 10 pounds lost mark.


May

Teena began using the C25K training app, and started running for the first time.

June

Aylin graduated from her preschool class at Mary's Little Lamb's.

Teena, Aylin, and Uncle Richard traveled to Tennessee to meet up with more of the Leach crew for a week with the family to (pre)Celebrate Dad's (Tom Leach) 60th birthday!

July

Ayin went to spend a week with her Papa Joe and Grama Linda in Harrison, while Jeff and I packed in 3 dates into the week. One of which ended abruptly when a roach fell from the light fixture above our table into Jeff's plate of food that we had *just* finished with. Another of the dates was a fun evening at the AMP sitting on the lawn watching Alison Krauss with Union Station and Willie Nelson.

Aylin, along with momma and daddy attended her new school's open house.

August

Aylin began Kindergarten with a bang. There was much to get accustomed to, but once we fell into rhythm things started moving more smoothly. This took between 6 and 8 weeks for the behavior problems to clear up.

Teena hit the 15 pounds lost mark.

September

The Melton family plugged into a community group.

Aylin began to READ.

October

Aylin attended her very first field trip to a pumpkin patch with the kindergarten class.

Jeff and I attended our very first Parent Teacher conference, which was super positive.

Aylin chose Merida (not Elsa!) as her Halloween costume

Jeff accepted a new job with IT company IFWORLD

I survived the 2 year anniversary of my IIH Diagnosis

I experimented with making homemade applesauce, and then canning it.

November

We celebrated Jeff's last birthday in his 30's

I took my very first longer run on a trail, and survived.

I made my very first 100% from scratch pumpkin pie, and it was a huge hit!

December

We had our largest ever sign up for the Fellowship rEcess EVER and it was a super awesome day!

We celebrated Teena's fourth anniversary of her 29th birthday.


KiNdErGaRtEn!!


I can say with absolute certainty that we had no clue what it was that we were getting into when God saw fit to bless us with the amazing kid in Aylin Marie. With that, we also had no idea what we were about to experience with Kindergarten. We enrolled Aylin in a non-traditional schedule school, or year 'round schedule. So school for Aylin started earlier than others - August 1st. The first several weeks were tough on so many levels. Aylin took several weeks ( or maybe 7 or 8...) to settle in and stop the shenanigans. We didn't find out until days before school started that the bus service didn't run for the first 2 weeks and 1 day (until the normal school schedule started) so we had to quickly scramble and figure out alternate morning and afternoon arrangements to get our munchkin to and from school. Thanks to sweet friends who connected me to other new friends, family, and Jeff being flexible ( and his job allowing him to flex!) we made it through those first few weeks until the bus started running.

We dealt with several behavioral issues that really just took the rug out from under us. I've since heard from several other mom's that it's a pretty typical thing for kiddo's especially just starting out in Kindergarten to test those boundaries until they learn the ropes. But really, it was quite the punch in the gut to get 4 notes sent home within the first 3 weeks. Especially the one where we were told she kicked a class mate. When I attempted to get the back story and understand the situation I was even more disheartened when I gave her every possible escape to excuse the behavior away, only to find that there was no reason - she just kicked another kid just to kick them. Ugh. But after adjusting our "reward" system to more closely match what she was seeing at school (a clip up/down chart) and consequences at home for days where there was bad behavior at school we finally were able to dial things in and settle in to a good rhythm.

Jeff and I had our first parent teacher conference a few weeks ago (just before we hit our 2 week fall break) and were extremely pleased. The teacher echoed everything we were seeing already. She was encouraged and proud of how well Aylin was coming along after the first few tough weeks. We were pretty pleased at the beginning of the year when we found that Aylin's teacher has been a teacher since I (Teena) was in Kindergarten: 28 years! So this is not her first rodeo, and she clearly has a gift for working with children. But it was so nice to hear from her that she was proud of Aylin for working so hard and that she was seeing her making great strides in the behavioral department. It was also interesting to hear that (and according to Jeff he was the same way) that even though Aylin has a hard time sitting still, she's clearly paying attention and learning a lot. So the struggle has been more in helping her understand that when she's not sitting still, she's not being respectful to the people she should be listening to, and she's distracting her classmates. Her teacher mentioned that she often will call on her when they are in circle time and she's not sitting still in an attempt to catch her off guard, and she gets the answer right every time. It was also fun to hear (and see at home) how her reading is advancing. She's already at least a semester ahead on her teacher's expectation for where she should be. She loves to sound things out and write us beautiful little phonetically written notes All. The. Time. Anything and everything she can get her hands on she's trying to read. It's quite fun.

Walking to the bus has been an interesting adjustment. The bus is supposed to arrive at 6:58, it's a 1/4 mile walk from our house to the front of the neighborhood where the bus meets. So we (attempt) to leave the house by 6:50 to walk to the stop. So far (fingers crossed!!) we haven't missed the bus, even once! There was ONE time where the bus arrived early and we were only half way there when I realized it was OUR bus and not the middle schoolers bus that meets at the same location about 5 minutes before our bus arrives. But this day ours was running early and I freaked. We moved towards the center of the road and I made sure our flashlights were swinging so that hopefully he could see us amongst all the cars parked on the side of the road in the dark. So here we were just a-running down the middle of the road in the dark (but we had our flashlights!) trying to make it to the bus. He almost left, but then he did see us and waited for us to get there at our (slow) run. It wasn't until after she'd gotten on the bus and waved goodbye and blew me kisses that I looked at my phone to realize that even still it was 2-3 minutes before her usual pick up time. So far we've also been pretty lucky so that if it's raining Jeff can drive us down to the stop and we can wait in the car until the bus arrives so that we don't get soaked. There was only once when he had a coffee appointment with a friend in the early hours that it also happened to be raining that we had to make it to the bus stop on our own, and you know what? We survived!

We also had a super fun time at her first field trip to a pumpkin patch. The kids were ecstatic, and really well behaved. And almost a month later she's still spouting pumpkin facts (the life cycle of a pumpkin is..., this type of pumpkin is called... etc) I was tickled to be asked by another classroom mom if I would like to carpool with her and get to tag along on the field trip.

Kindergarten, it's a whole new world!

Bye-bye Preschool, Hello Kindergarten!

2 days from now, our little princess will be officially out of preschool. 2 months and 3 days from now she'll be starting kindergarten. Wow. Just wow. How did we seriously get here? Completion of the kindergarten assessment just affirmed for me what I already know: she's a rock star when it comes to letters and numbers but sometimes has a hard time staying on task and following instructions through. And what prekindergartener would that *not* describe?  She is super ecstatic about starting kindergarten, she fell in love with the school when she got to tour it a few weeks ago. She got to meet some of the specialty teachers; Art, Spanish, Computer Labs, Librarian. She got to see the playground and walk through where each class plants their own garden. As is the case for most mom's in my shoes I'm eager, apprehensive, and proud all rolled into one.  She'll be a bus rider, and she can't wait for me to come and eat lunch with her  I better eat that up while it lasts. I'm sure in another 7 years (or less) she'll be begging me not to. Apprehension and nervousness for my baby aside, I'm really excited about what this year will bring. This is going to open up a whole new world for our eager learner. Truly, raising this little wonder has been the greatest gift and the biggest blessing I have ever received. It's not easy, but I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. It's a wonderful thing to watch your child learn and grow. My cup runneth over.

My Kiddo Is Growing Up

It seems as though in front of our very eyes our little girl has gone from a baby faced sweetie to a big kid. She's growing like crazy. She's long and lean; 3 feet 3.5 inches these days but her waist has hardly grown. She can wear the same shorts she wore last summer, they're just shorter on her. She's so active and independent these days; I struggle constantly between letting her do things on her own because she can/should, or insisting on assistance because she needs it. Of course she thinks she can do everything, so when I have to swoop in to assist she usually wants to fight it. It's a pretty great reminder for how our Father gently guides us, and how frustrating the process can be at times.