Saturday, November 29, 2008

Orlando Visits


While down in Orlando we had a chance to meet a new little friend and catch up with an old dear one as well. My college roommate, Cari, had a little girl named Josie in August. We were so happy to have the chance to meet her. Ella loved holding her and gave her lots of kisses.
We also paid Great Grandma June a visit. Ella and Jack love telling her stories. And, since Great Grandma June shares their love for dolls and stuffed animals, her house is always a fun place to play.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving

We had an awesome Thanksgiving weekend spending time with Jonathan's family in St. Augustine. It appears that I'm not the only aspiring photographer in the family--Jonathan took some amazing shots of the kids with his brother and Dad at a playground while I was out with the ladies bargain hunting on Black Friday. See them all at http://picasaweb.google.com/redish76/Thanksgiving#.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ella, as told to her teacher, is thankful for her whole family, her Barbie dolls, the colorful leaves, and her hats. Jack says he is thankful for Mommy and Ella, the roads, and God. And I couldn't be more thankful for all of the wonderful family and friends we've been blessed to have in our lives. I think Jonathan's thankful for beer. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Heartbreaker


I bumped in to a mom of one of Ella's school friends today while the kids were at school. She said she'd been meaning to email me because she had a cute story to tell me. Her son, Spencer, apparently talks about Ella quite a bit and considers her his girl. At the Fall Festival last month he even dragged his grandmother over to meet Ella. Ella talks about Spencer, too, and considers him a good friend. So, last Friday Spencer got in to his mom's car after school and told her he was sad. When she asked him why he said, "Well, Ella and I broke out and Jake and Ella broke in." She has no idea where he might've heard the terminology of "breaking up" to misuse it in the appropriate context. I couldn't get it out of Ella what went down last Friday when she and Spencer "broke out". She says they are still good friends. And I never hear her talk about Jake. So apparently she's stringing along four boys--Spencer, Jake, Griffin, and Baden. Although, to her, Baden's still the real deal.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lots of Kisses

For the past month or so, Ella and Jack have been filling a jar with Hershey Kisses, each one earned by a "please" or "thank you" witnessed by us. Once the jar was filled they would earn their major award of new bicycles! Jonathan and I decided not to add the bikes to a Christmas morning that already has promise of extreme awesomeness (I think I've seen one too many Kung Fu Panda commercials), but instead turn it into a learning opportunity. We've been reminding them to say their please and thank you's for literally years to no avail. This exercise has definitely improved their good manners. After over a month of earning nearly 150 Hershey Kisses, this morning they actually put the last kiss in the jar. Great job, Ella and Jack! (We've already had the talk about keeping the manners up even though there's no more goal...hopefully it works!)

Jack has tried a bicycle several times and seems neither particularly interested or adept at it. So, we got him a Big Wheels, the Original Big Wheels. Jonathan and I both rode ours well in to elementary school so we figure even if we get him a bike in a year he can still ride this for fun. (Jonathan said he rode his Chips big wheels until he was like 9. Nana, do you still have it?) Unfortunately, for now Jack's legs need to grow maybe an inch before he can ride it comfortably even with the seat as far as up as it can go (it said ages 3+--poor kid hopefully won't stay 25th percentile height forever...). He's already done better on it than he does on a bicycle, though.

Ella couldn't be more excited to have a bicycle. I think we'll have to hit the greenways soon together on our hangin' out Mondays....well, maybe when it warms up a bit (the low last night was 18 degrees! Yikes!).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lunch and a Show


Ella and Jack love going to "the city" and love watching shows. So, what better way to spend a day than taking in a show at the Children's Theatre of Charlotte in uptown topped off by pizza and noodles for lunch. The kids laughed hysterically at The Taradiddle Tales show that is simply three players with no costumes, no set, and very few props telling stories from around the world. Afterwards, Ella and Jack did some acting of their own.

Goofy








Grumpy


Surprised

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Daddy!


Jonathan's birthday is today, so if you get a chance please wish him a happy one. A few days ago we were telling the kids that Daddy's birthday is coming up. Ella looks at him and says, "How old are you going to be?" To which Jonathan replies, "Thirty-three." She starts to look a little flustered, goes in for a hug, and blurts out, "Are you going to heaven?"
Our kids aren't even school age and we still feel young enough to admit our ages on the blog, yet they're already starting in on the "you're sooo old" routine....at least it was in a sweet way, I guess. Anyways, happy birthday, Jonathan! We love you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Playin' Hooky

We played hooky from school today to spend a fun morning taking an art class at the Mint Museum (we love this place, if you haven't noticed!). Today's class was a holiday-themed Great Paper Caper so the kids made printed holiday cards and painted and stamped patterned wrapping paper. Ella digs this stuff so much and worked completely independently. She's so original, too. While showing the steps to make a stamp out of meat trays for the holiday cards, the teacher explained that the cards would be blue and the paint would be white so a snowman is a good choice. Ella set to work without hesitation and drew and then cut out an angel for her stamp. I was just so impressed with her self determination. Jack cut out about half of his snowman and then needed help. He did all of the detail work (the face, etc.) on the snowman himself. After a fun "hunt" around the museum for patterns, we came back for some messy painting of some wrapping paper.







Jack was probably most enthused about the snack and juice box, but I think since Ella enjoys these classes so much he might just have to tag along to a few more next year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Last Class

Today marked the end of our 12 weeks with Ms. Pam in our Music Readiness class. The kids loved this class, had a ball every week, and learned a ton. During our drive to class today, Ella was working pretty hard to try to negotiate with me for the class to continue on, indefinitely I guess. She had trouble understanding that it was really out of my control. Today's class was a best of the best of all of the songs and lessons they did over the past 12 weeks. The kids got to pick their favorites. Ella and Jack were both so engaged in this program that I know we definitely need to keep music in their lives. Each of their learning styles were highlighted a bit in these classes, too. Jack picks up on facts and details so easily--what eighth and quarter notes look like, the names of notes, what an octave means. Ella, the free spirit she seems to be, has a natural rhythm and can sing notes with the teacher. The best part of today's class, however, seemed to be showing off for Daddy who came to watch this last hurrah.

Their favorite part of beating the rhythm to a song about a horse is when the horse goes in to a full gallop. I thought this picture gave the full effect of just how fast they were moving.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nature Lovers

Every time we step out the door, Ella and Jack quickly start checking the ground, grass, street, or wherever we are for natural things to fill their pockets. I can't tell you how many times I've washed rocks, acorns, leaves, and who knows what else in my washing machine! Ella started an acorn collection last year from the preschool playground and still continues to add to it. She keeps her collection in a little tupperware container and earlier in the year, when 'A' was the letter of the week, while I was cleaning it out so she could bring it in to school for show-and-tell, much to my surprise, I found a little green (alive!) worm amongst the acorns. This warranted the "whoop!" sound Jonathan says I always make when I'm surprised by a bug. This also warranted a talk with Ella about perhaps being more selective about what she brings home...

Lately, of course, as it is Fall in North Carolina, the nature collection of choice is fallen leaves. Ella brings a bouquet of them home from preschool each day (imagine about 20 times as big as the one she's holding in these pictures). Apparently she's made a new friend named Griffin who is her acorn and leaf hunting partner at school (Baden, watch out!). The leaves actually look beautiful in a vase but only last about a day before they're brown, dry, and a crumbly mess. I'm not looking to change these nature-loving habits, in fact I loved our nature walk the other day. But, you'll be hearing a lot more than a "whoop" from me if either of them ever brings home a snake!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sick Leave

You might've noticed the diminished activity on the blog. Well, there's been some diminished activity around here this week, too. Fortunately, the kids are perfectly well but I, however, have been battling a very rough cold with a cough. My voice was gone most of the week or really needed some resting. That truly made it hard to be an effective parent--it was harder to get everyone going and give them their instructions in the morning, the kids were disappointed because I couldn't answer the barrage of thought-provoking questions they pour at me during every car ride, and every day I felt so guilty because I couldn't read them any books. Anywho, luckily Jonathan was around a lot this week to do the fun things with them that I just didn't have the energy to do. They had a few funny/interesting conversations.

Sunday night we came home from dinner after it was dark. Jonathan stayed outside with the kids for a minute because they wanted to wish upon a star. They're adamant about not telling anyone what they wish for because, of course, then it won't come true. But, I guess it's ok for it to be overheard because they both wished out loud (clever Jack, to make sure he was covering all of his bases, even gave Jonathan the side glance to make sure he was listening). Jack said to the star, "I wish I had a hamster in a cage that could live in my room." Of course, he made the rookie mistake of not putting a timeline on that so it's probably a wish that won't come true until he's old enough to clean the cage himself. Ella had a negotiation with the star. She said, "I wish I had pink roses. No, not light pink roses. Medium pink roses." I hope they are this specific with Santa!

Speaking of Santa, earlier this week Jonathan was showing us all a picture of some sort of deer a friend had photographed in his backyard and emailed to him. It seriously looked like a reindeer. So we joked with the kids that, uh oh, maybe it's one of Santa's reindeer and he can't find his way back to the North Pole. This, I guess, gave Jonathan the open door to tease the kids that Santa will probably be going to both of our neighbors' houses but might not stop here. The kids, of course concerned, insisted they were good. When Jonathan mentioned that they have been antagonizing each other quite a bit lately Ella turned to Jack and said, "Jack, let's stop beating each other." They nodded in agreement, exchanged "I love you"'s and shuffled off together holding hands. Sounds like a good plan to get on the "Nice" list.

I'm definitely feeling better so we should be back on track soon. We'll get some pictures posted this weekend.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chance of Rain?

Well, I guess the weatherman did say "chance" of rain, but when it's greater than 50% you still expect to see some clouds. Saturday, however, was another gorgeous cloud-free day. And we had no where in particular to go....thank goodness!

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Nature Walk


This week's letter of the week for Ella's class was 'N'. Her homework for the weekend was to take a Nature walk and collect things in nature to use to decorate a turkey picture for class on Tuesday. Today was another gorgeous, unseasonably warm day so we decided to venture out right after we pulled in from school (plus, Daddy was on an important phone call so it was a good excuse to get the kids out of the house).

We hadn't quite moved in to our house this time last year, and we were still in a drought so the leaves might not have been as pretty, so this is the first time we've enjoyed the beautiful Fall leaves right in our own backyard. The woods behind us provided the perfect place to explore nature today and see what treasures we could find. The kids brought home an array of colorful leaves, bark, berries, grasses, and even some tree fungus. And, we spotted some wildlife along the way--nothing too exciting (thank goodness no snakes!), just some roly polies, big spiders, and termites (yikes!).



Gator helped us with the hunt.





Jack had to decorate his own. My guess is that he'll be doing this next year, too. You should hear some of the conversations these two have. Since Jack has the teachers that Ella had last year, she's constantly drilling him on what they're doing now. They literally had an argument on how exactly the song A Tooty Ta! goes. Ella, I guess, felt the need to bring it up with Jack's teachers that they weren't teaching it correctly this year. Ms. Melando informed me that they revisited the song this week in order to address any concerns Ella might've had. Now we're all clear that you do in fact stick your tongue out during part of the song.

Ella's singing a fairy song while she decorates her turkey.

First Art Contest

The kids submitted their first entries in to an art contest this week--I'm sure it will be the first of many as the years go by. I remember entering quite a few when I was little, even winning an ice cream party for my friends one time in 1st grade (correct me if I'm wrong, Mom, that's my memory of it)! This art contest is being held by the Mint Museum and is to select the artwork for the holiday cards they send out to members. Members' kids up to age 12 could enter, so I'm sure there will be some very intricate, beautiful entries. The real prize for my kids will be to see their art on display at the museum during the kids' holiday party (another first for Jack)!

It was hard to get in to the holiday mindset this early on in the season, so I was looking for a little inspiration. I decided to inspire the kids with some Andy Warhol holiday art, as the Mint Museum currently has a special Andy Warhol exhibit. Ella and Jack had fun using paint, cookie cutters, stamps, sponges, glue, buttons, and a lot of other embellishments to create their masterpieces.

Here is Ella's inspiration, Andy Warhol's Christmas Wreath.


And, here is Ella's Button Berry Wreath. She cleverly used a butterfly-shaped sponge to make the bow on her wreath. She painted inside a holly cookie cutter twice around in a circle to form the wreath.



Here is Jack's inspiration, Andy Warhol's Fairy and Christmas Ornaments and Tree Decorations.



And here is Jack's Colorful Ornaments.


Ella made one of these, too, but we entered the wreath in to the contest.





Monday, November 3, 2008

A Full Day

School's out for a couple of days for the election, so Ella, Jack, and I tried to take full advantage of the break and fit in some special activities. This morning we got to see the first full dress rehearsal of a Junior League and Grey Seal Puppets show called "You Are What You Eat". This show for young kids about healthy eating and exercise will tour the area schools. The kids really enjoyed it--they chanted "you are what you eat" at lunch and after dinner we counted together how many servings of fruits and vegetables they'd had today. After the show, we took a walk on a greenway, checked out the beautiful fall foliage, and played at a playground. After a pleasant (and healthy!) lunch out together, we headed home for some serious artwork. It's not often I get the paints out, but the Mint Museum of Art is having an art contest for kids to pick artwork for the holiday card they will send out to members. All of the entries will be on display at the museum for a childrens' holiday party, so I couldn't let Ella pass up another opportunity to pursue her dream to become a professional artist. I think Jack will get a kick out of seeing his art on display, too!