Monday, June 27, 2011

Camping Pictures

Tarp being layed down:Tent being layed out The cooks discussing what tonight's meal will be Also, known as the overseer's of the tent being put up properly

Finally...tent is done...Now it's ready for inspection:

Approved! time to move in our sleeping stuff
Wood for the cooks...notice the little hatchet vs. the big axe
The sprite of the camp

She's inspecting the housing of the puppies
Sorry....batteries died~

Camping 101

We did it! Makenna has been asking since May (maybe even April) to go camping in June. We, on the very last weekend of June, finally obliged her request. Even though it was for one night, it’s amazing how much crap you have to pack to go. Next time, and yes, we hope to have a next time, maybe even this summer, it definitely should be for two days with the amount of time and effort it takes to pack the car and unpack the car.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get many pictures as I’ve used the camera so much with the graduations that I forgot to charge the battery and within the first 10 minutes of being there, my batteries died.

We went up to Robert Treeman Park in Ithaca and camped with my brother Jared and his family. Luckily Jared is an avid camper, being that he’s the Boy Scout leader at church, and was able to help us put up our tent quickly. He also came prepared with things that we didn’t have and/or forgot.

After setting up the tent, Jared got busy on a fire to cook dinner. We of course copped out and went the easy root with hot dogs. I guess the real easy root would’ve been to stop at McDonald’s and brought food with us…so we weren’t that bad. Then after that came the time we’ve been waiting for since back at my last post about it….SMORES~

Both Makenna and Eli were more interested in just eating the Marshmallow’s and then Makenna just wanted the chocolate. I finally put my foot down and said – Smores or nothing! They were using up our supplies. Not really, I of course gave in and let them eat the marshmallows – but I did put my foot down on the chocolate.

By this time it was “late” – like 9pm or so and Makenna just wanted to go to bed. This surprised my brother who wished he had a child who would tell him that they just want to go to bed. So we tucked her into her sleeping bag on top of a comfy air mattress and off to sleep she went.

The rest of us started playing cards until it started to rain. Then we quickly packed our stuff up and took cover in our tents. We had borrowed a tent from Chris’s parents – that they had never used – but sealed. Luckily I took the side I did as Chris got up in the middle of the night due to rain dripping on his head. Guess the tent wasn’t sealed well enough.

Next morning, 6:30am to be exact, Makenna woke up and I got up with her. We hung around a bit and I had to repeatedly tell her I didn’t know about swimming or not for the day. It was kind of rainy on and off.

After breakfast and clean-up, we decided to go on a 3 mile hike. Why on earth we thought we could do that with 4 adults, three kids under the age of 5 and two dogs is beyond me. But we got through it. Luckily we took the path that was mostly down-hill. Being that we had two cars we left one car at the top and one at the bottom so we only had to hike one way. I can’t imagine having to hike back up another 3 miles! I’d say by mile two, Eli (who’s 3) and Makenna (who’s 4) had enough of hiking. So a lot of carrying ensued. The baby, Abbie (who’s 1) already had a comfy spot in a baby carrier strapped to my brother so she didn’t complain.

Also surprising was the dogs who have never been walked this much in their life. It was actually good for them as they started to learn to walk with us without pulling on the leash. Plus it gave them opportunities to inter-act with other dogs and people. They are definitely more “bark than bite” dogs. They sound fierce as they bark (okay, as the yip,) but then when people try to come up to pet them, they cower.

After the hike it started pouring. I figured swimming was out of the question, but the skies cleared up and the nagging ensued by my child. We got some lunch and then I convinced Chris to take her swimming while I read a book back at the campsite and took a nap. Best decision I made. They came back from swimming – what they could do of it – as it was in the bottom pool of a waterfall and it was freezing cold they said. So they didn’t really swim too much.

After that, we packed it in and went home – to unpack it all. I still say it was a great trip, loved the hike even though my one knee is a bit sore and I had to walk very tentatively as I forgot my ankle brace. Makenna did really well with it all – besides the constant nagging for this or that and the dogs learned some lessons too.

Hopefully there will be a “camping 201” post before the end of the Summer.

Helping daddy pound in the stake

UPK Graduation

Daddy doesn't seem to be able to take a picture (or notice that he's taken a picture) without squinty eyes.

On June 24th, Makenna had her second graduation from UPK. It wasn’t something we had initially planned, having her in two pre-school type classes, but I’m glad we did. She really enjoyed Miss Susan and Miss Stacey’s class and would ask every day if she had class with these two teachers.

Graduation was more low-key than the ECC graduation but it was still very nice. I had to try holding back the tears as soon as I dropped her off to her classroom for the last time. I went upstairs to the auditorium and waited for the ceremonies to begin and fought tooth and nails to not cry.

As part of the “gifts” for the kids/parents I received a report card of sorts telling me how Makenna did in the Fall of 2010 compared to the Spring of 2011 in certain areas. Most of them had improvement, but some areas, we need to obviously work on.
On the wall also hung a picture of “What I want to be when I grow up.” Makenna drew a picture of herself as a princess. While I admire this wish, I can only hope it pays well. I realize it’s the dream of many little girls, and I hope it can come true for her. That would mean that the new Royals (William and Kate) better get busy in the baby-making department and it better be a male heir to the throne and he better be willing to marry an older woman.

Makenna with friend Sarah

ECC Graduation

Our Graduating Girl! Our first of two graduations occurred on June 16th. I was preparing myself to be full of tears and tissues. As it was, I forgot the tissues, and due to exhaustion, or knowing I still had a second graduation, had no tears.

I helped on the committee to prepare for this graduation and it came out fairly well. I was in charge of gifts for the kids and with help from Makenna got the gift boxes (pencil boxes with school supplies) ready in time.

Makenna did well with her songs and walking up to get her diploma. Unfortunately, she didn’t stand still long enough for me to get a picture of her after receiving her diploma but I’m still so very proud of her confidence and all the knowledge she received from going to the ECC (early Childhood Center). I’m very glad that she had great teachers, Miss Dusty, Miss Jean, and then Miss Chrissy (when Miss Jean left). I think there may have been another teacher in there somewhere too.

Miss Dusty
Miss Jean

Miss Chrissy

With friend Mallory With friend AndyDiploma!
Her teacher gave me a book that had projects that she had saved throughout the year that Makenna had done and it was neat to look back and see some of the work she had done. It also included pictures of Makenna throughout the year. Little do they know, I also have saved various projects and have a notebook full of laminated pictures to go along with this one.

I’m amazed at all that she learned and Makenna is so ready for kindergarten, as she keeps telling me she can’t wait to go. I on the other hand, will most likely have many tears for that day!

Grandma & Grandpa Jones

Mom & Dad

Too much partying - ready for bed!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


‘Isn’t she lovely, isn’t she wonderful….” (Stevie Wonder)

This is what goes through my head initially when I hear the word lovely. But at some point, the word which would indicate an admiration of something beautiful to look at turns to a word of frustration and disgust – as it has done in our household.

The funny thing is that I didn’t realize it until Makenna started saying it this past week when she dropped food on to herself. I kind of stopped, said, “Did you just say lovely?” She replied she did and then asked why I asked. I just said, “I thought it was funny how you said it, that’s all.”

Then the next day, a marker and/or a crayon hit the floor from a major coloring project of hers, and again, a sigh of frustration and the word, “lovely,” as she bent down to pick it up. This has happened a few more times at least and although I laugh at her using the word in such a manner, I have no one to blame but myself…again.

It got me thinking about what other words have their meaning skewed into some sort of derogatory diatribe to where when you use it, you no longer have the beauty of the word but the ugly end of it. Another one I know I’m guilty of is using “Joy” as a way of being sarcastic when someone or something does not sit with me well.

I wonder if someone commented to Makenna that she looked lovely, if she would be offended. Oh Joy, I have yet again tainted my daughter with my wayward words.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


We had grand plans to have a campout as a test run this past Friday night. But being that Chris was so tired (don't understand why - as he just came back from a red-eye flight from England,) we scrapped the camping and just went straight to the Smore's - and boy did we enjoy them!

By the way, the shirt Makenna is wearing, is one that she made at Pre-school.


This past weekend was the health fair at Chris’s church.  We have the obligatory shot of Makenna on the horse (pony).  I only had a couple of good shots to choose from as I was watching a dance crew and Chris took her out for the ride.

I tried to also get her to go into the fire truck but this was as close as she wanted to get.               

The next day, on Sunday, was a picnic at Cole Park with his church and I wish we had gotten a picture of her after she had slipped and fell in the mud as she was covered. I guess with all her tears, we didn’t think of taking a picture. My mind was racing about how I was going to clean her shirt.

Other than that, a rather tame weekend as Chris just returned from England and had to catch up on some sleep. This week proves to be a lot more hectic (and filled with tears from mommy) as Makenna graduates from her morning pre-school on Thursday night. I’ve been on the graduation committee so I’ve got to help decorate, and I got gift boxes together for the kids.

Makenna brought home from her morning preschool some reminders of what it was like the first day of school back in September. There was a hand-print, a small rope, a picture, and a paper stating what she liked. We could compare the hand-print to her hand now and see how she’s grown. Then take the rope and hold it up and see how much she’s really grown. To look at the picture you can see her baby face and just how she’s grown in features and maturity. The paper was just funny because she said her favorite book was “Bambi” and I swear we don’t have a Bambi book that I know of.

When we showed daddy this morning, Makenna then turned to me and said, “Mommy, it makes you sad.” I said that yes it does make me sad to see how fast she’s growing up but that’s okay because I know she has to grow.

Just yesterday I was looking back at our blog from England ( and looking at some of the pictures and videos. I have to say the videos really brought tears (of laughter) to my eyes to watch her and especially listen to her little English accent back then. I’m so glad we kept that blog and wish our lives were that interesting and adventure filled now.

I guess for now I’ll have her milestones of growing and learning. Plus, I’m now back on a volleyball league for the Summer (Yeah!) and we have a double header tonight. Chris is just praying that I don’t get hurt in my “advanced” age. Then he’ll be the one crying!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

NYSEG - Say You're Sorry

I’ve been putting off this post as I didn’t really want to re-live the misery of the past holiday weekend.

It started on Thursday night (May 26th,) with warnings of a tornado and a really bad rainstorm. Around 9pm or so, we lost power and it didn’t look like it was coming back for some time. Being that the winds were picking up and we no longer had direct news (TV) regarding actual tornados, we decided to get Makenna out of bed and bring her down to the cellar.

We went down for about a half hour when it seemed as though the storm passed. We put Makenna back to bed and went to bed ourselves hoping for power by morning. No such luck. In fact, it wasn’t until four days later, Monday Night around 9pm, that we again received power.

This made for a difficult, holiday weekend. Chris had to keep running out to take care of the generator and switch its power between keeping the refrigerator cold and giving us hot water. I kept trying to remind myself that we’re definitely more fortunate than those who’ve recently been hit by tornados.

But as time wears on with no electric, so do your nerves and patience. Even Makenna was getting upset that she couldn’t watch her shows, or play her Wii, or watch a DVD on the big TV. Although it gave us more time to play other games that she enjoys.

The frustration really set in on Sunday when there was a glimmer of hope that we would have electric. When we left for church, we saw some NYSEG crews (or those contracted by NYSEG,) looking for the problem. When we came home from church they were installing a new pole, about half a mile from our house.

By Sunday night, with nothing to do, we went out for ice cream. On our way home we were pointing to the houses that now had electricity. Then we got about 4 houses away from ours and noticed they were dark and we knew the crews had left for the night.

At one point on Saturday we thought about going up to the cottage but then realized that it may not have power either. We tried calling some random cottages but it seemed as though a cell tower was down. Then I tried having someone without a cell call but they didn’t even get through at all – just a dead line. So we figured that there was no power.

Makenna and I, along with my brother Josh and his girls, went up to the cottage on Sunday and found there was actually power. But, to add to the frustrating weekend, the pump to the well seized and we were not getting any water. I guess I knew what Monday would be like – trying to fix this new problem.

Monday morning I broke down and went to the fire house and got dry ice and water. Chris had started the chest freezer on Sunday and we transferred the frozen food down to it along with the dry ice and some bagged ice. Then off to the cottage we went.

Somehow, out of sheer luck, or determination, Chris was able to get the pump working. At least we had one thing go right. As the day went on, and the mosquitos had quite a meal on us all, I started to feel hot and achy.

Everyone left and just as I feared, our car got stuck in the mud at the bottom of the hill. I was so upset for not learning from past experience and that everyone had already left. I was in the car telling Makenna that we had to pray for God’s help to get us out. She asked why and I tried to explain to her that it was important to ask God to help us in all things.
She then told me that I needed to tell God I was sorry. I was astonished. I said, “Why do I have to tell God I’m sorry?” She just repeated that I had to tell Him I was sorry. This really got me thinking. We definitely should’ve learned from the last time and she was right, I had to say I was sorry.

We got out from our predicament with some help of a neighbor up at the cottage and got home just after nine. That’s when we saw NYSEG finishing up and that we had finally gotten power back. Even though I just wanted to crawl into bed, there was too much to do.

I wish I could say the week got better but on Tuesday I swallowed a contact and had to cover my eye for the rest of the day until I got home to replace it. Then on Wednesday Makenna came home with a high fever that continued into Thursday. I was going to take her back to school on Friday but noticed that her throat was really swollen and took her to the doctors. She ended up being fine but stayed home anyways. We think it was because she went swimming in the lake on Monday and probably caught some kind of bacteria from it.

I felt like I needed a vacation away from this past week. I guess a lot of the frustration with NYSEG came with the knowledge from a former employee that they just hire contractors who don’t know the area well.

Plus, it didn’t help that we kept calling and hearing that at the beginning of the ordeal there were 65 people in our area without power. By Sunday night they were down to 15, of which we were one of them.

Maybe NYSEG needs to say sorry to God too.

As for us, we've already changed providers.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

School Registration - Part Two

Last Wednesday, May 25th, I took Makenna for Kindergarten registration at the school whose district we are in.

I guess it went well, but I do have some concerns. The first “station” that we had to stop at, I filled out paperwork and Makenna had to tell the lady what letters she was being shown (both uppercase and lowercase letters). Makenna got them all right and the lady said, “Wow, you’re the first person in 3 days to get them all correct.” Even though I felt proud I was a bit concerned. Makenna took some more reading comprehension type tests, and even though she didn’t do great on those, the lady giving it felt Makenna was more than ready to start Kindergarten.

My concern really grew when the lady then asked Makenna if she went to pre-school. Makenna replied yes. Then the lady said, “Do you go to the pre-school here?” Makenna, said yes, and the lady immediately acted surprised, and said, “You do?” I explained that Makenna does go to pre-school just not at Harpursville. The lady then seemed to react as if then it all made sense to her. Why she seemed surprised the Makenna knew all her letters if she was going to their pre-school, why she knew all her letters, etc. It was as if the lady was shocked that someone that she thought was going to their pre-school might actually know all their letters, both upper and lowercase. I felt this didn’t bode too well for the school.

This continued further when at another station I got the same reaction when the person giving Makenna a test thought she was going to preschool there but then when I explained where she went, they then reacted as though it all made sense that she was more than qualified and prepared to attend kindergarten.

The last station was more for me as I got to talk to a guidance counselor about any questions I might have. My first had to do with the bus situation. I said how I’m uncomfortable that she has to get on it so early (around 6:50 am) and ride on it with bigger kids for 40 plus minutes. The counselor said she understood my fears and that the little kids sit more towards the front and the older towards the back. She also explained that there are camera’s on the bus “when they’re working.” - Again, not a great feeling.

I then asked about the future and what types of advanced courses would be offered if we stayed in the district long enough to have Makenna in high school and she said that it was based on financial aid which I didn’t realize.

The counselor went on to explain how they do conflict resolution in each grade level, which I like, but then when I talked to another parent about it, who works in a school (not this one), he seemed surprised that they start it in kindergarten. He conveyed to me that they typically start that type of teaching more towards middle school setting.

The counselor kept continuing on about a group called the “banana splits” – which is a group that’s held for children of parents who are divorced or separated. Why she felt the need to tell me this I was unsure, and as she continued on to proudly tell me how they have about 30-40 kids in the group currently, all I could think of is “what am I sending my daughter to?” I’m sure this is a very helpful outlet for kids who need this, but again, why was she telling me this?

We then took the 40-50 minute trip back to Makenna’s pre-school where I talked to her current teachers about my experience. One of them told me that the school is good but has a different feel to it as it’s made up of a lot of foster kids. That explains the banana-splits I thought.
Makenna was excited by the prospect of going there because there are two playgrounds that she can choose to play on and she expressed repeatedly that she wanted to go on the wooden one. I am still unsure about what is the best for her but it seems that her dad has for the most part made up his mind to have her start here and if we see that we’re having problems/issues with the decision, then we can change.

Looking to the future, I see a lot of cranky mornings as her dad thinks that she can still do her 7-8pm bedtime routine without any repercussions. Also, if she stays in this district I see a lot of “out of the way” driving to her extra-curricular activities. At least with the other school it was on the way home to some extent. This is completely 20 minutes in another direction that I would never go…except for this reason.

Ugghh – I’m not looking forward to the first day of school for so many reasons.