Monday, May 27, 2013

One Year Down, One to Go

It’s no secret that Riley is not a fan of preschool.  Therefore, I’m pleased to announce she is done.  At least with the first year.  Austin & Ellie each only had one year of preschool but we just didn’t feel that Riley was going to be ready for Kindergarten come the fall.  The fact that I can think of maybe 5 times out of the whole year that she willingly went to school (i.e.—no tears or clinging to my leg) played a big part in our decision.  I mean, you can’t really blame her….who wouldn’t want to hang out with me all day instead of some boring ol’ preschool!

Last week we had her last field trip to camp Kici Yapi.  It’s a day camp close to our house that is run by the YMCA.  It’s a fun place and she was excited to go.  There is one thing Riley loves about preschool:

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The Blue Goose.  That’s what they call their bus.  She loves riding on the bus; so we have that going for us when it is time for Kindergarten.

At the camp each group got to do an arts and crafts project, a nature hike, and archery.  Riley loves arts and crafts so that was a big hit.

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And when we got to archery the instructor, for the first time that day, had everyone’s complete attention!

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Whereas the boys couldn’t wait to get their hands on that bow, Riley was quite certain she wanted nothing to do with it.  I finally convinced (or dragged) her to give it a try.  I summoned my inner Indian Princess (I’m not being derogatory here….I was in a YMCA group growing up called Indian Princesses where we did things like archery and pow-wows) and showed her how to shoot her bow and arrow.  Her eyes lit up!  She loved it.  Unfortunately, we only got two arrows before it was time to go.

Next year she is signed up for a class called “Fabulous Fives”.  It goes without saying that she is not excited.  Maybe if they work the Blue Goose into the curriculum a little more she will be more willing.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Track and Field

Austin’s 2nd grade Track and Field day was last week.  I really like track and field day.  I liked as a kid and I like it now.  However, the events we did growing up, and the events they do now are quite different.  We had the standards: dashes, hurdles, long jump, standing long jump, high jump, etc.  Austin has the dashes and some modified hurdles.  And then they have: shoe kick, hippity hop, hula hooping, sack races, etc.  I have to say, watching their activities is pretty entertaining.  I’m especially impressed with the hula hoopers.

Anyway, this year Austin chose to defend his title with the hurdles and then he tried his luck with a sock fling and the hippity hop.

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The sock fling didn’t quite work out for him.  But, he kept his focus for the hurdles and came in second!

He followed it up with a round of high fives from his classmates.

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The hippity hop gave him a 3rd place (although my sister and I noticed that the gym teachers were very generous with the phrase “It’s a tie!”).

I really like Austin’s class this year.  He’s had good classes the past two years too, but this has been my favorite by far!  His teacher is amazing (she even provided me all these pictures).  He also has some good buddies in his class:

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That’s Ivan, Ty, and Austin.  As a side note, that water bottle Austin is holding was totally full.  When track and field was over, Austin probably could have smoked the competition with his dash to the bathroom.

The best part of track and field is the tug of war.  Last year Austin’s first grade class won the whole thing.  This year, despite their best efforts:

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They didn’t place. 

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It was a great day for cheering. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

A New Set of Wheels (Finally!)

Poor Riley has been zipping around on a tricycle for two years now.  Not even a tricycle, more like a very small “big wheel”.  In our defense, she did not want a bike last year when we offered.  This year her knees were just about hitting the handlebars as she pedaled and her sister and neighbor friend were constantly zipping past her on their bikes.  After one such incident she turned to me and said “Mom, I need a bike.”

The next day we went to Walmart and found one that suited her needs.  It helps that her “needs” were: a bell.

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Luckily, her Dora helmet came with a bell.  We picked up a basket to carry around her treasures, and she was off!

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Her sister and friend are still zipping past her but with another couple weeks of practice she’ll be right there with them.  The only thing she has perfected is ringing her bell.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Random Ellie

One of Ellie’s favorite past times is recording herself with the iPad.  She sings, she dances, she conducts fake interviews, she does impressions.  The list goes on.

Last night I was cleaning up some of the random videos and pictures she saves in the iPad to free up some memory.  Here’s a snippet of her in action:

Oh yeah, and she also randomly brings Jesus into a great majority of her work.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Punch It, Margret!

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Beautiful day for a drive to the park.

(Note to self:  ensure battery is fully charged before driving to park)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pretend with Me

We all know the weather has been fairly rotten around here.  We had those 2-3 nice, warm days, but wind/rain/snow has been the mix for far too long.  Today we decided to go on an adventure where we could pretend the nasty elements did not exist.  We went to the Como Park Conservatory.

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And, for the record, I don’t think this picture resembles any of my children.  Especially Austin’s sort of “evil” look.  But, it’s the only picture I had where they were all looking at me and it was sort of a crowded path so I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to hold up the line any longer.

We started off by examining some aquariums in the Children’s Discovery Center.  Austin never ceases to amaze me with his retention for animal facts.  We were looking for some poison dart frogs in one aquarium (they are often hard to find amongst all the tropical plants) and he excitedly found one and said “Oh!  These are the Panamanian Gold Dart frogs {don’t quote me on that}.  They are REALLY rare, thought to be extinct!”  I just kind of grinned and nodded.  Then I read the small print up above and he was completely right.  He said he thought maybe he heard it on an episode of “Nature” once.  Who says TV rots the brain?

We wound our way through the fern room and into this room.  I can’t remember what it was called but it smelled heavenly!

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Just ask Riley, who couldn’t stop herself from smelling everything!

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We decided we would plant some snapdragons this year.  They are fun little flowers!  I doubt ours will grow this tall, but they’re still fun!

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Ellie really loved the flowers above (azaleas?)

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The kids probably would have sat at the Koi pond for much longer, but we eventually had to drag them away to make room for the other kids who wanted a peek.

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The conservatory also had a bonsai tree exhibit going on.  I’m not sure if it’s always there or if it was a special exhibit but I really liked it.  Something about bonsai trees fascinate me.  This particular tree has been in training since 1955.  That person must have a very green thumb.  Incidentally, there is an “app for that”.  You can get an app on you smartphones where you can prune and take care of your own little digital bonsai.

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I thought our last stop would be the Tropics Trail.  It’s a beautifully humid area full of snakes and frogs and all sorts of creepy crawlies.  It’s well over 90 degrees in there.  Delightful.

And only at the Como Zoo will you find a Red Boa in a nasty old cooler with a thin layer of plexi glass being the only thing between you and him.  It’s my love hate relationship with the place.  Definitely close encounters with the animals, but the animals sure get the raw end of the deal.

At this point I would have been perfectly content to head home with my bones all warmed up from the hot steamy rooms.  But, we decided it was kind of dumb to drive all the way down there and not visit the attached zoo.  So, off to the zoo we went.  It was cold and miserable.  Only a few animals were out.  The rest were inside.  And the small buildings of the Como Zoo do NOT smell good.  Nonetheless, we got up close with a lion and a few other animals.

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Shortly after this we did convince the kids it was time to go.  I could have used one more quick trip through the tropics zone to warm up but we headed to the car instead.

It was a nice distraction from the dismal weather.  Hopefully we won’t need to pretend much longer.