Thursday, May 31, 2007

Swim Practice

Swim practice started on Tuesday. This year for the first time the kids are not practicing at the same time. A's is 10-11, M's is 11-12. I've seen it before, but it really struck me today how different the practices are. The big kid practice is mostly just swim laps. The coach tells them how many laps to do of what and they're off and swimming. With the little kids its a lot more constant direction and attention from the coach.

A is working on his backstroke here. It's hard to learn to keep in the center of the lane - especially when several kids are practicing in the same lane together.

M is working on his breaststroke. It took me several tries to get a shot of him with his head up, breathing. The first two pretty much all you could see was the top of his head.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Weekend with D & K

Here are the birthday boys just after lunch.

Uncle D had a good time being silly with both the boys.

Here Uncle D is getting ready to try to toss M into the air - just before they are getting ready to leave.

Aunt K enjoyed the boys too, only not with quite as much rough-housing.

We hadn't had overnight visitors (at least not of the adult variety) in a long while, so our guest room had been overtaken by its other uses - mainly my sewing room. It also does duty as gift wrapping area at Christmas. The bed makes a pretty good staging area for my projects. This is not even quite as bad as it was, but you can see that there was a long way to go before it was suitable for hosting guests.

By the time they got here, though, it was looking reasonably presentable.

I think I should put up something on the wall behind the bed - it looks altogether too bare.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Happy Birthday D!

It's been somewhat of a birthday weekend for D. His twin brother, Uncle D, and wife were here for a wedding in her family and they spent some extra time with us. We all had a great time.

We had a birthday dinner of ribs on Saturday. Uncle D brought - Arkadia for D/us. We played it Saturday night.
We had birthday cheesecake on Monday.
Today the 4 of us adults went out for lunch at a hole-in-the-wall Jamaican place.
After they left, the kids and I gave D our presents.
Then after Scouts, my mom came over with presents for D and we had more birthday cheesecake.

Arkadia is cool. We had a good time playing it. It plays much faster after you've played it once and figured out a bit. We also played San Juan and Bohnanza (aka the bean game). A really enjoyed playing the bean game.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Graduation attire for D

D went to graduation Friday night. He was still wearing his robes when he came home, so of course I had to get a photo. Doesn't he look professorial?


End of the Year Awards for M

Friday was the last day of school and the big finale of end of the year 5th grade stuff. First they had awards in the classroom for each individual class.

M's teacher had each child come up once and read off all the awards they each had received. Each kid had a bunch, since they all had things like
recorder class
meeting AR goals
meeting CCC goals
promotion (to 6th grade) certificate

Many of the kids had the Book It! and 6 Flags Reading Club - as M did.

M also got Perfect Attendance, for 4th quarter and for the whole year.

M's special awards in the classroom were:
Boy with the highest AR points
4H Green Clover award
4th Quarter Principal's List (all A's)
Best Reader - voted by his classmates

Then after all the classroom awards, they sent us all to the cafeteria for the grade level awards. Here they called kids for categories of awards, so some kids went up multiple times.

M got awards for:
highest AR points in the entire 5th grade (over 300)
Presidental Education Awards Program - all A's all year (complete with GW Bush's signature)
Media Center helper
Beta club member

The theme of the celebrations was a take-off on D!sney's H!gh School Musical. So all the kids sang "We're all in this together" for us all. It was cute.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

End of the Year Awards for A

Tuesday was the end of the year party and awards ceremony for A's class. It was almost an all day affair. I got there around 9 to help set up. The awards ceremony was from 9:30-10:30. The kids played outside until about 11:30 - bubbles, hula hoops, limbo. Then we served hotdogs, chips, watermelon. And then cake, for one kid's birthday. Then they played some more until finally going in at almost 1pm.

A really raked in the awards. He got 2 for reading programs - Book It , for completing all 6 months and Six Flags Read to Succeed, for reading 6 hours in 6 weeks, of non-homework reading. Many of the kids got one or both of these awards.

The school participates in the AR program, where the kids take a test after reading a book and get points for comprehension. A got 2nd place with 50 (50.7, he reminds me) points. They were expected to get 20 points.

The teacher gave out awards for the boy and girl who had the highest averages in math, spelling and reading. A took top honors in both math and reading! She also gave out awards for the kids who got 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in CCC (a go at your own pace computerized instruction program). A got 1st in math and 2nd in reading.

A's teacher gave each student an individualized award - his was something like "keeps me on my toes". A was always interested in delving deeper into a given topic and would correct the teacher when she would try to simplify things. He would also catch much of the oblique comments and sarcasm that the teacher and assistants would bandy back and forth at times.

My mom and I both got recognized for coming in and helping in the classroom once a week. My mom spent most of her time working one-on-one with one particular student helping him with his reading. Here she is with the teacher and S.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Living at the school

I feel like I've been living at the kid's school this week. I've been there enough I should be getting paid!

M: 1.5 hrs - help with Beta club party and last minute planning for 5th grade celebration
T: 4 hrs - prepping for, helping with, and attending A's awards and end of year party
W: 3.5 hrs - decorating cafeteria for 5th grade celebration
Th: 4 hrs - final decorating and helping with 5th grade lunch and yearbook signing party

Tomorrow will be another 2 hours of party/awards for 5th grade. Someone asked if I could come in 1.5 hrs early to set up, but I said no. For one thing, I don't think there is much to do and for another, I'm also getting ready for D's brother and wife to come in for the weekend. I still have to go to the grocery store again.

More later on this weeks activities when I can get the camera downloaded and maybe find time...


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Children's Sunday at Church

This Sunday was the end of Sunday school at church. The kids put on the service, taking over all the adult roles, except for priest. A and several others from his Sunday School class (K-2) took turns reading the Old Testament lesson. Later, A narrated as they showed off what the Children's Church did.

M's class (3rd - 5th) enacted the creation story as part of the sermon. M also sang with the children's choir - their last performance until next fall. M says, yay, no more choir practice!

Since the kids were taking on the adult roles, the adults took on the kids role, as acolytes. D took his turn as an acolyte this year:


Monday, May 21, 2007

Pool party

We went to a party hosted by one of D's co-workers on Sat evening. They had a pool and so the kids were all excited.

The weather was a bit cool, so D and I didn't think we would be going in, but the pool was heated. So we did end up going in for a bit (thanks also to bugging from certain kids).

The party reiterated to me just how important it is to have the kids in swim team and previously in swimming lessons. I was watching the pool off and on, but not completely, since I know that M and A are both good swimmers. At one point, I hear one of the other kids hollering "Daddy, Daddy". At first I thought he was just looking for his dad's attention, but then I noticed that he was flailing around and had lost his pool noodle. So I went over and grabbed him. He was less than a foot from the edge of the pool, yet didn't/wouldn't/couldn't grab the side to help himself. This kid is a year younger than A, but couldn't swim and had no safety (other than a pool noodle - which he obviously lost somehow). When A was still a non-swimmer, either he was wearing a life jacket or one of us was right there in the water working with him one-on-one.

This is partly why the kids continue on swim team. I know that if you don't continue to be swimming, you can lose those skills. I've talked to several people about swim team recently and several have said, "oh, my kid doesn't really want to do that" or "he's not sure about that". My answer: my kids didn't get to choose whether to take swim lessons, they don't really get a choice on swim team at this point either. Luckily, even though both kids thought they wouldn't like it, they both do. They may not like every moment of it, but overall its fun and its great for their swimming skills. I tell parents to have the kids try it for a week, at least. Swimming is a life skill.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

5th grade field day

Friday was a busy day. M had field day ALL DAY. They played kickball from 8 am til 2 pm, with a bit of a break for lunch and activity period. M's class had PE. I know they need PE more often than once a week, but PE on a day when they are playing 2 games of kickball already, it seems a bit overkill.

I was there much of the day, with a break to take Pounce to the vet (the vet thinks perhaps she tangled with a dog) and get some lunch. I got to see M in both games he played. He complains that he isn't a good fielder, but I saw him get the ball and throw it to 2nd and get someone out. I got to see him score a run also.

The way they played was interesting. They played 2 innings per game, but instead of having 3 outs per inning, the inning lasted until everyone had kicked. So, with 27 players, there were potentially a LOT of runs and/or outs.

In the first game, M's team won 24 to something (in the low teens). By the second game (winners of first 2 games played each other), both teams were playing a bit better. They tied 13-13 for the championship game.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Another pair of new glasses for M

M got new glasses last month. We went back after a few days for adjustment, as I expected. But then we had to go back again after about a week. And maybe again. At one point the technician said that if the glasses needed yet another adjustment within the next 2 weeks, they would replace the glasses. Guess what - within one week, they were out of whack again. Each time it was that the temple pieces got bent out of shape. We think its that that pair was the first pair that didn't have spring hinges.

So last week, when they adjusted them yet again, they brought out the tray of glasses and told M to pick a new set of frames. My only restriction was that they must have spring hinges. We picked them up yesterday. These are a bit different looking from his previous pairs - they are silver, rather than a tortoise-shell look.

M being very silly, but also a good close-up of his new glasses.

I was very pleased that they replaced them at no charge. And that he could pick out any (of the special offer) new frames. I was worried that he would have to find a new pair of frames that would fit the old lenses - which might have been difficult. So far M is happy with these.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

M's first Court of Honor

Last night was the first Court of Honor that M's Boy Scout troop has had since he joined. Since he was actually being awarded a rank, Scout, which is the first, very basic rank (strikes me as Boy Scout's version of the Bobcat badge), we all went.

M and the other new Scouts, waiting for awards:

D and I went up with M, as they want to award the parent a pin. I now have 3 Scout pins - for M making Scout rank, M's arrow of light and another I got as a den leader. M is jealous - he thinks the pins are way cooler than the patches he gets.

After the Court of Honor, they had an Eagle ceremony. We stayed to watch. It was pretty cool. I pointed out to M that the boy gets a pin for Eagle, as well as the parents. They wouldn't normally have an Eagle ceremony with the Court of Honor, but evidently they had been having a hard time scheduling the Eagle ceremony - the 2 boys earned their Eagles in December and January.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A's Challenge class choices

A brought home his form last week to select classes for next year for Challenge. We took notes at an open house they held to see what he might want to take. Tonight we filled out the form. He had to rank each class from top to bottom choice. He will get 6 classes (out of the 16 offered).

His top choices:
Medieval Time Traveler: Interested in King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table? Travel back in time and find out what real knights had to endure? Middle Age customs are sure to intrigue you!

R.M.S. Titanic: Investigate the history of the Titanic, her sinking, the discovery of her wreckage as well as facts abut icebergs. We will use Titanic Crossing to take us on the adventure of a lifetime.

Animals on the Edge: Raise your paw, claw, flipper or wing and make your vote count for animals in danger. Find out why your animal is having difficulty staying on planet Earth.

Art Explorations: Explore art media through projects based on ther styles and methods used by well-known artists. We will draw, paint, weave, sculpt and use pastels to learn artists' techniques.

The Coral Reef: Learn about the plants and animals that live in the Coral Reef Ecosystem as well as the reasons for habitat loss while reaing The Cay.

Math Counts: Learn the secrets of solving word problems and other math skills, along with having fun being math detectives.

Entomology: Yuck! Why do we need bugs anyway? Investigate the habitats of insects, the role they play in our environment and how we couldn't live without them.

Cultural Traveler: Ever wondered why other cultures do, say and celebrate different things? Come explore various cultures through literature, art, cooking, and celebrations.

I made A put a math class in his top 6. He didn't really want to, but he really does well in math and he isn't being challenged in math AT ALL in the regular classroom.

At first A wasn't sure about entomology, but M talked about how cool a class it was when he took it in 3rd grade - they got to eat chocolate covered bugs even.

There were another 8 choices of classes, but most likely all 6 of his classes will come from this list of top 8. We won't find out until school starts which ones he got though.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Arrow of Light

Tonight M finally had his Arrow of Light ceremony and crossover to Boy Scouts. The Arrow of Light is the highest award a Cub Scout can earn, and the only Cub Scout award they can wear on their Boy Scout uniform.

I got a special Arrow of Light pin too. Here's M pinning it on me.

M and I by the Arrow of Light candles.

M taking his Boy Scout oath (still in Cub Scout neckerchief, epaulets, and hat here).

M crossing the bridge from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts

M getting his new Boy Scout epaulets and neckerchief from the Scoutmaster of his new Troop.

Our pack only had 2 Webelos II to cross over into Boy Scouts this year and they were going to different Boy Scout Troops, so we had 2 different Scoutmasters there to receive the boys.

M thought the ceremony a bit silly as he has been attending with the Boy Scouts for about 2 months now and had already received the red epaulets and green neckercheif on his campout last month. Tonight we had to remove the Boy Scout stuff (worn for the campout he was on today), put back on the Cub Scout rank - so that they could take it back off again in the ceremony and re-replace the Boy Scout insignia. Yes, it was redundant, but we parents like ceremonies and I was here this time to get photo evidence.

Meanwhile, A got his Wolf badge and crossed over to being a Bear tonight too.
A getting his awards.

A in his new Bear regalia (and finally getting to hold the dog that came with one family to the ceremony).

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Friday, May 11, 2007

It feels like Saturday

Today has felt like Saturday all day.

We have a 3 day weekend this week, due to no snow this summer. The kids are majorly bummed that its been several years since we've had a decent snow. But, we were all happy to have our free snow day today, or as they put it our no-snow day.

M went to a sleepover birthday party last night. Didn't get up until almost 10 am, when the host mom woke them up. That is unheard of for M. He's usually a very early riser - before 7 am, even when he's stayed up late, even after 2 months of summer.

While M l was at his sleepover, D and I took A out to dinner at a Mexican place. It was pretty good. We went there specifically because M doesn't like Mexican food. A had a burrito and was surprised to find it had sauce on it. He liked it, but he was expecting to be able to pick it up and eat it with his hands.

We wanted to go to the pool today, but there's no water in the pool. Well, there's about a foot of water in the deep end. Ack. It's hot here. Maybe not hot enough for ME to go all the way into the pool, but I would certainly stand on the steps while the kids went in. D didn't know they were going to drain the pool and he's on the neighborhood board. I hope they get it filled back up soon. Swim team practice should be starting soon. There was a hint that it might start earlier this year, but I guess not, as Monday would be a week earlier than usual. I hope they can at least start on time.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Summer haircuts

It was finally time to trim the gory locks again. The weather is hot here, and looks like it will be staying that way for at least the next 4 months.

Both the kids were trying to dance around and keep me from taking their picture! Didn't work! hah

We haven't turned on the AC yet, but it will probably be sometime within the next month. I'm hoping to make it into June at least before it needs to go on.

Many if not most people around here have already turned on the AC. One way we stave off the AC is the "window dance". In the evening once it has cooled off, we open up various windows. At bedtime we turn on the attic fan (sometimes called a whole house fan). It pulls cool air in from outside and cools the house down nicely. It usually runs for a couple of hours. Then in the morning after everyone is off to school, I'll turn the fan back on to cool the house down even more. I would turn on the fan as soon as I get up, but the kids complain that then the house is cold, with the breeze blowing over them. I can often get the house down into the upper 60's. Then the fan goes off and the windows get shut, usually by 9 am, to keep in the cool.

In June, when we often would only need the AC for a few hours in mid-afternoon, we can go to the pool to cool off and between wet bodies and being past the heat of the day, we can manage to last another week or so. Anything to delay the high electric bills from the AC.

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We finally got a chance to go to our local strawberry farm yesterday and pick. My mom and I and both kids picked 3 buckets (gallons?) of berries in about 30 minutes. Plus, of course, those not quite perfect ones that we had to eat.

We've picked strawberries here for years, probably since A was about 2. By now, both kids are master pickers.

My mom took home one bucket, there's one bucket for us, and one bucket I split up among the kids' teachers and assistant teachers for teacher appreciation week. And, wow, were the teachers appreciative! Several commented on how the berries brought back memories of picking there in the past and A's teacher said she would probably go pick this weekend.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Photos from A's field day

Life's crazy busy here (and I've been down with some sort of sinus thing). So here are some pictures til I get time for a real post...

I thought these were cute of A being both halves of a wheelbarrow team.


Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Craziness has Started

The school year is starting to wind down - or is it wind up? It's going fast and furious around here this month.


Field Day for A: 8 am til noon. That's a long time in the hot sun for 2nd graders and adults alike.

Open House at the gifted center 5:30-7:30 AND parent orientation at the middle school 6:30-7:30 Oops, conflict time here. We had to do a "cannibals and missionaries" to get all of us where we needed to be. My mom picked the kids and me up to head to the open house and D met us there. We all looked at the classwork M and A have been doing and A got to preview 3rd grade classes that he might want to sign up for next year. Then D and I dashed off to the parent orientation at the middle school (across town), while my mom took the kids home (stopping at Sonic to feed them dinner). We could have taken the kids to the parent meeting but both (especially A) would have been bored. D and I got some good information from both visits (but no dinner ever).


Popsicle party for the straight A students: 10:30-12:30 Finding all the right students, and explaining that this was only for all A's and only for the last report card (not the progress report that some were thinking of). Oh, and we got our May cold snap just in time for eating popsicles outside. Thursday it was hot and humid, Friday it was downright chilly.

And in the midst of coralling students to go chill with the popsicles, I was taking yet more photos of 5th graders. I think I got every single kid, in groups of 2 or more, while eating lunch. It's hard to make sure we get every kid's photo. I know there was at least one kid absent Friday - and I know I haven't gotten a photo of her, maybe my partner has - I hope. I'll have to make sure I get a photo of her next week or at field day...

Friday evening M had a birthday party 7-? while D and I had an awards banquet for his school, starting at 7, downtown, at least 45 minutes away. Luckily the birthday mom offered that M could go home with them and spend the night so my mom didn't have to keep A up late to go retrieve M. The party evidently wasn't over til 10:30, but D and I didn't get home til almost midnight. The awards banquet was nice, but too long. Its always too long - they try to shorten it, but somehow it always gets lengthened again. As the years go on, I know more of the kids from D's classes so the banquet is even more interesting. It will get really interesting in a few years when M and one of the other teachers kids are both eligible for the magnet program. And of course many of M's friends will also be eligible and considering the program.

Luckily today has been mostly quiet, but the crazy schedule will continue for the next 3 weeks. On Friday, I joked with the secretary at school that I should just sign in to the school constantly for the rest of the school year. I will be there at least every other day for the next 3 weeks, and the last week of school I already have marked to be there T, W, Th and Fri.

A lot of the school craziness is dealing with 5th grade, so maybe it won't be this crazy next year. It seems busier than last year (but I think I think that every year). I realized yesterday that it will be really crazy when A is in 5th grade, because then I will have both kids "graduating" from their respective schools (in 5th and 8th) and the schools will not likely be coordinating plans!

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Shrimp with Rice Noodles

M went to Wednesday night service at church with my mom, so I took advantage of his abscence and made a dish he wouldn't like. Shrimp with rice noodles. A pronounced it "yummy".

I found the recipe in the food section a few weeks ago and thought I had all the ingredients. Well, almost - I'd gotten the rice noodles, but not fish sauce. Of course I only discovered this as I got the recipe out and started to fix it. Oh well, no fish sauce, just try spicy black bean sauce I found in the fridge. Then I discovered that we were almost out of soy sauce. Oh well, again, just dump in all we have. I added some pea pods too. It all came together quite nicely.

We set the table with chopsticks. A likes trying to use chopsticks, but doesn't really have the hang of them yet. However, he managed to eat his entire meal, including the canteloupe with chopsticks and without a fork! We cut up the cantaloupe slices with the edge of the chopstick and then he speared the canteloupe on the chopstick. I ate similarly. D ate most of the noodles with chopsticks, but resorted to a fork for the last of the noodles and all the canteloupe.

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5th grade recorder concert

Last night was the annual 5th grade recorder concert**. The kids have been learning the recorder all year this year and tonight was their only performance. M and a friend are warming up:

I tried to get a photo of M during the concert, but
a) I was too far away
b) there was a taller girl in between M and me.

After the concert, they had a reception outside (cookies and drinks). The kids all ran around goofing off. I took a bunch (maybe 20) more pictures for the photo CD project. There were a couple with M that I thought interesting.

M goofing off with a friend:

M with his friend J. I was amazed when I looked at this picture this morning, at how much taller M is than J. I would swear that they were the same height at Christmas! I checked in some other photos, and no its not a trick of perspective. M really is that much taller!

I guess I need to measure M again...

**They have been doing recorder concerts for a few years now, ever since they stopped the band program in the elementary school. I'm really sorry they stopped it. They said they needed to spend more time working on the basics with the kids. But studies show that music helps math skills. And besides, even if they did need to spend more time on basics with some kids, why not let those who are doing well, do something with band? As it is now, they have to decide on band without really knowing much about it. And if they choose band for middle school, it takes away 4 9-week electives. Since they have to take PE and health, that would leave them with only 2 elective slots (9 weeks each).

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

April Book Binge

Mary P. had a challenge for April - to record all the books you've read. It's daunting to see her list - how does she do it with watching small children all day. My 2 are in school much of the day and I've only managed a few books. But, then again, this was April, the month of the dreadest income taxes.

Without further ado, my list:

Bad Medicine by Aimee and David Thurlo: Good mystery. I've enjoyed several of this series (and have another to waiting for me to start it). I'm going back and catching the earlier books that our library doesn't have (thank you interlibrary loan, accesible from home!)

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown: I've been meaning to read this for a while. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't quite what I expected. I don't see what everyone got so worked up about.

The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers by Lilian Jackson Braun: Exactly what I expected (well, a little unexpected twist). I've been reading this series for years, probably since my MIL introduced me to them when D and I were dating.

Books on tape*:
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares: Interesting story. I wasn't sure what to expect, but somehow it wasn't this. Couldn't listen to it for almost a week as it wasn't necessarily kid appropriate.

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot: About half-way through it so far. A bit teen drama-ish, but interesting enough.

M is the one who would have a truly impressive list, though he can't be bothered to keep up with what all he reads. We went to the library today and he checked out a stack at least 2 feet high!

*My radio is on the fritz in the car, constantly switching stations, so I've been listening to books on tape in the car mostly since the beginning of the year.