Monday, May 27, 2013

The Year of Kate

We've heard that certain years are better for children in school.  It could be they match up well with their teacher, or they're developmentally more ready for a challenge.  Whatever the case may be the stars aligned this year for Kate.  It seems she has the Midas Touch for practically everything.  Okay, not for baseball, but she is improving;).

One opportunity Kate's had is a special reading class.  The librarian (media specialist, or whatever her official title is) has pulled Kate and another classmate out of class, along with one other student, a couple of times per week.  The purpose was to stretch these students a little more since they were topping out in the classroom setting.  During this time the group has read books together and recently completed a technical book report, of sorts.

We weren't even sure all of what they were doing but one day we received a letter saying that Kate's group was one of the finalists for a technology award in the school district.  It asked us to attend the awards ceremony on a specified date.  The date came and sure enough, Kate's group won.  It was hilarious to see her reaction.  Her birth was dramatic and she has carried on in the same fashion.  She was just so excited, complete with the jumping up and down.  She expresses feelings that I may inwardly feel but would never outwardly show:).  Here's their winning night.

Her second experience was math related.  I don't know how widespread Math 24 is, but starting in the First Grade our county school district introduces this concept.  Here's a link to Wikipedia's version if you're really hankering for detail;).  Anyway each student learns and is timed on math facts.  There are the basic addition and subtraction but then another level is introduced where they have to complete two math sequences to get to the final answer, it's too hard to explain without visuals but it gets them thinking in a more complex manner.  After the students have learned their addition and subtraction up to 20, I think it is, a buzzer contraption is introduced.  Then it becomes a game of speed; whoever buzzes in first gets to complete the mathematical solution.  Anyway.  We weren't really in on all of the details until one day Wes and Kate said they were being tested on these facts to see who would represent their school at the county-wide competition.  Kate ended up being the top 1st grader.

We received another letter telling us she had a couple of weeks to prepare for the competition.  All representatives from their school, grades 1-8, would compete.  There ended up being 10 first graders she competed against.  We kind of went into it blind and with low expectations ... not that we weren't confident in her, but we had just been prepped by her teacher that she'd be up against stiff competition.  Anyway, it turned out to be a stressful night for me.  While Matt was sitting there cool as a cucumber, I was sweating bullets.  But Kate really surprised us with her speed and how well she kept it together.  Once again her dramatics came through when I looked over at her and she was doing deep yoga breaths I had taught her to employ if she ever felt stressed, but she was doing them with exaggerated flare:).  And a chatterbox!  The girl wouldn't stop talking between rounds!  You'd think Matt and I were the most social creatures on Earth to have produced such a girl.  It's just the opposite ... she takes everything we don't have and has magnified it 10-fold:).

Anyway.  Kate blew through rounds one and two, hardly letting anyone get a word, or buzzer, in edgewise.  Then came round three and she still cruised through with nary a blink.  Round four was a different story.  These kids were fast!  She held her own but in the end finished second or third in that round.  With all scores tallied through all four rounds Kate ended up 2nd place overall.  We were thrilled and she was very pleased. I think she was more excited about the trophy than anything, but when we explained the $50 book store gift card prize too, she thought it was pretty okay.

This girl has blossom and rocketed forward after a very turbulent kindergarten year.  It's amazing to me to see the growth she's seen this year.  We love you Miss Kate!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Our little boy turns 2

You blink and your baby is two!  How does that happen?

Black frosting = Black Teeth:)

We celebrated Joshua's birthday last week.  It was so fun to have the whole family get in on the planning.

This little guy has gotten way into Thomas the Train.  Wes loved trains too, but he was more into building the tracks and playing with the cars, not necessarily a character in the train family.  But Joshua goes absolutely crazy when he sees Thomas.

Because of this we decided to make a Thomas cake.  I haven't gotten on the cake making wagon and so my skills are hilarious, at best.  But with a little creativity and copying, Joshua didn't know the difference and squealed with delight when he saw it.
Don't you love the printed face?  Hey, that's my way of imitating fondant:).
Here are Joshua's stats at age two ... 27 lbs. (52%), 36" (91%).  He's long and lean:).

Joshua is full of fire, is very loud (not necessarily verbal, still very tonal), and loves his nightly routine with his dad.  We absolutely love this little guy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

3-2-1 Blast Off!

We live fairly close to Wallops Flight Facility, one of NASA's aeronautic research sites.  It's located on Virginia's Eastern Shore.

Last month they successfully launched the Antares Rocket.  From what I understand it was basically a test to prove that NASA could "rely on American companies to launch supplies and astronauts to the International Space Station." (that's from their website)
photo credit: NASA

After a couple of days delay, it was finally ready.  Our Elder's Quorum President at church works for a company who launches rockets too and he used to work at Wallop's, so he has a vested interest.  He kept us up to date about the launch and told us the third time would be a charm.  So we hopped in the van, drove about an hour down the shore, took off through some back roads and arrived at a small dock area just a hop, skip and a jump away from the launching facility.

There was a pretty good group there waiting.  A few of the cars must've had some special radio frequency they were listening to because within just a couple of minutes we heard, "45 seconds".  So we got out the camera and got pictures of our own.

It was pretty awesome.  It was loud, but not cover-your-ears loud.  You could feel the rumble all throughout your body and just the whole atmosphere is one I hope our kids remember.  They were pretty excited about the whole thing.  We were there for probably a total of 5 minutes from beginning to end, but it was sure worth the van ride:).

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Family Pet

Matt and I both grew up with family pets.  My family had its share of cats, and Matt's had dogs, cats, pigs, bummer lambs, but I've had no desire to enter that realm with our family.  However, by default we got a mini version of a pet that will probably satisfy our children's yearnings, at least for now.

Wes, Kate, Sophie and I were playing ball in our front yard when our neighbors came over and said they had a little friend to show us.  It was a tiny turtle about the size of a chocolate chip cookie.  Their dog found it and they figured our children would like to see it.

By the end of the conversation they asked if we wanted to keep it, and since we have our little kiddie wading pool in the back we figured we could keep it there until it grows a bit and then we can take it down the lane to the pond where lots of other turtles are.

We did a little research and think it's a Northern red-bellied Cooter.  If that's the case, we'd better get it to the pond soon:).

Kate's convinced it's a girl and calls her Lily.  Wes says it's a boy and calls it Ninji:).  This is a family pet we can handle.

Preschool Graduation

Sophie had a great year at preschool.  She went to one at a local high school where it was part of a technical program that students helped facilitate.  She had two adult teachers: Ms. B and Ms. B :)  ; there were a dozen or so high school student helpers too.  She loved every minute of it.

Friday's graduation was held at the high school auditorium.  That week's theme was 'the jungle' and so the children were given an animal print bandanna and told to wear it to graduation however they wanted to.  It was so cute.

Here's Sophie with her helpers and and a couple fun videos of the songs they performed.

 In the background of this one above is Sophie's favorite friend at school.

Each child was given an award by the student helpers that they thought fit the personalities.  Sophie was given the 'most likely to become a lawyer' award.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Baseball hasn't become our life right now but it gets plenty of attention.  There's one game once during the week and one on Saturdays, but soon we'll have a little break and have it just during the week.  It has been a learning experience and so different from when Matt and I were playing little league.

Every team is sponsored by a company so this is Wes and Kate modeling their jerseys before I realized they play with actual baseball pants.

Funny story ... first off - I never had real baseball pants until I played in high school, so we figured they didn't need them - they could just wear sweats or when it got hot, shorts.  No ho ho ... Matt came home from team pictures and said, "we gotta get them pants. They were the only ones out of all the teams not wearing pants."

A pitching maching pitches and each player gets to be at bat until they get a hit (up to 10 pitches), and the batters all bat through the line up until the teams switch.  That's been the first four weeks, but starting tomorrow it's three strikes and three out.  

Wes has done really well and is improving every week.  Kate is there for the social aspect:).  She usually never gets a hit, but we're working with her and it'll come.     

This is a picture of Wes at one of the games.

Side note.  I love living in a religious area.  At the season opening day it was a big deal.  All of the teams (probably 20 or more) paraded out onto the field after their individual member's names were read, then a pastor of a local church gave a prayer, asking that the season be a learning experience for all and that safety prevail.  It was awesome.  Not even in Utah, where it's a very religious state, would that have flown.  *Another side note on that front ... Sophie's preschool was a little late today so I saw them having snack and they repeated a prayer before eating.  Her preschool is at a local high school where it's a learning environment for students interested in studying early childhood education.

Getting a move on

Over the past several weeks Sophie has asked to learn to ride a bike.  It was about time to move Wes and Kate into bigger bikes and so the timing was perfect.  We were able to visit a local swap meet, per a friend's advice, and pick up the bigger bikes for $20 each.

Sophie wanted to have Kate's old bike "Buttercup", but I'd run over it at least twice and so both front and back tires were pretty wobbly.  Wes' bike "Cobra" was the second option, although Sophie wasn't very excited at first to ride a boy's bike:).

Finally today I spent all of 20 seconds putting training wheels on.  I told her to wait a minute and I'd go get the camera.  By the time I got out she was long gone:) ... enjoying her new found freedom.
So between downpours of rain today, we've been up and down the driveway and after finding Kate's bike helmet even took three spins around the cul-de-sac.  I think we're in business:).