Friday, February 27, 2009

Transformers Meet Polly Pocket

Jack had the place all to himself today. Big sister Ella was at school and then went straight to a playdate until after dinner. So Jack had the rule of the roost, all of the toys, all of the rooms, and, most importantly, the trampoline all to himself. Jack loves this time to himself--he actually has control over the stories he plays out and the games he plays (not that I'm saying Ella is the alpha in this relationship...). While Ella is my "where're we going next?" kid, Jack is perfectly happy to stay home with his toys and imagination. One story line I overheard today was when Jack was playing with his Transformers and Spider Man. They were all saying to each other, "Time to put on our costumes. You put on your costume and I will, too." This is the state I found his Transformers--all dolled up in Polly Pocket clothes! I love the high heels on Acid Storm, the jet. Spider Man looks like he has a lampshade on his head. I guess it was a crazy party!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sweet Buns!

Sorry, I couldn't resist...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

If I Were a Train...

If Ella were a Thomas & Friends train she would be Rosie.
Rosie is fiesty, fun and very free-spirited. She is a tomboy tank engine - despite the fact that she's pink!

Thomas & Friends has a Jack, of course, who is the friendliest front loader they've ever seen. He's eager to please and often takes on tasks he shouldn't. I tend to think that Jack's better described by Harold the Helicopter, however. He brings a welcome spot of dash to the quiet landscape of Sodor whenever he appears and even if the noise he makes is occasionally wearing, he is good-hearted and the engines are always pleased to see him.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Extra! Extra!

"Nice Superman Super Hero" Saves the Day!

Wrestles "Wild Sea Monster"!

"Super Wonder Woman" is Saved!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Guests Be Warned!

Our sweet Ella toots quite a bit. We're always teasing her that she's stinking up the house. A few weeks ago Ella heard Brooke mention that they now have a "crying room" to which someone who's crying must remove themselves. So after hearing about the Browns' special room Ella decided that we needed a "tooting room" so she wouldn't stink up the house anymore. When asked which room it should be, she couldn't pick one so we suggested it should be her room. Of course, Ella wasn't too keen on that idea and didn't bring it up again. Tonight at dinner Jack tooted. I joked that he should've gone to Ella's room, you know, our "tooting room". Ella was almost brought to tears by this idea--how could she ever sleep in a stinky room?? I quickly relented and said we were just teasing her. She smiled and said, "Yeah, let's make the guest room our tooting room." Luckily, all of the guests we have come stay are family. You've all been warned! Sometimes I think maybe my kids get too much fiber...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oh We're Going to a Hukilau

I hate to highlight every instructional video we get for the kids from Netflix, but this one holds a special place in my heart. After we relunctantly returned YogaKids (the kids still do yoga poses throughout the day), we received Be a Hula Girl in the mail. Not only was it filmed where Jonathan and I went to a luau on our honeymoon in Maui, but the video taught a hula dance to The Hukilau Song, a song my mom taught me as a kid. Sometime during my childhood my mom was in a hula dancing troupe. I think she had a tape with hula music on it and I definitely remember her dancing to The Hukilau Song. We even used to play with her Pu'ili bamboo sticks she used in her dances. Ella must've gotten those 'old Hawaiian way' hip moves from her Nonni who's new favorite form of exercise is Zumba class. She got the clumsy move at the end from me. Be warned, Nonni, Ella's going to be asking for more hula instruction during our visit next month!

Monday, February 16, 2009

She's Full of Surprises

Tonight at dinner Ella asked if she could box when she's a grown up. We asked her if she knew what boxing was. She pointed at a t.v. that was on mute and said, "Yeah, I just saw it on t.v." So I asked her, "Ella, do you really want to hit someone else and let someone else hit you?" She thought for a moment, got a little shifty eyed and said (with a little bit of attitude, mind you), "Uh, yeah." She's got spunk, I'll give her that! She's going to give us a run for our money...

She's already smarter than me. Last night at dinner she asked if she could start watching Hannah Montana because all of her friends do. I said that Hannah Montana's 16 years old and the show is about things 16-year-olds do. Ella immediately countered, "Well, Aurora [Sleeping Beauty] is 16 and we watch that." And, so is Ariel (the Little Mermaid). Uh, yeah, good point. This is what Jonathan called getting myself into a verbal cul-de-sac. Luckily I was able to distract her with bread....Should I have gone with the "If your friends jumped off a bridge..." argument? Now I totally understand "because I said so" as a response to all of their "Why's"--this is because you wake up one day and they're smarter than you are. I just didn't think it would be when she was 4.

Monday = Fun Day

President's Day meant a day off for Jonathan and the kids. The public school kids had to go to school today to make up our first snow day (Charlotte's school calendar apparently doesn't have room for even one snow day--doesn't quite make sense to me). But, it provided the perfect opportunity for us to check out the "jumpy place" without the masses of school kids. Jonathan and I got to sit and chat while we watched the kids run and jump and climb for over two hours straight--it was almost like a date! We topped the night off with a pizza dinner benefiting our church's work with World Vision's 30 Hour Famine. The kids had fun playing with some pizza dough and downed their noodles. The best part of the meal was when the waitress told us that our kids had the best manners (all the hounding on them has paid off!). What a fun day!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Girls Just Wanna' Have Fun

Who needs boys to have a fun Valentine's Day?? Not these girls! Well, actually, I did have a nice Valentine's Day with my boy, but for part of today Ella and I had a great playdate with Jen and Harper. Jen and I got to catch up while the girls got manicures and some face and hair glitter, did some stage dancing and performing, played dress up, and had a tea party lunch. Sounds like a 4-year-old girl's dream, eh? As, Girls Just Wanna' Have Fun is one of Harper's favorite songs (it's on her Barbie guitar), Ella sang along with it when it played on the radio during our drive from getting their manicures to lunch, and these girls did have a ton of fun, this post practically named itself! Thanks, Jen and Harper, for the fun playdate! We hope to see you again soon!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Just Jack

If you call Jack "Jackaroo" or "Jack Attack" he'll say, "Nooo, it's just Jack." Of course, he doesn't say it with very much enthusiasm or add any jazz hands to it, but to him he is always "just Jack".
To us, he's more than just Jack. He's the sweet little boy with kissable cheeks, who cuddles with us in the early morning hours, and who can give hugs that make any kind of stress melt away. Two pet names he actually likes, and in fact encourages, are "Sweetie Pie" and "Cutie Pie"--he'll correct me if I call him "Sweet Pea" or "Cutie Petutie".
Jack's our baby and, because of his sweet lispy voice, I often forget that Ella and he are only 16 months apart--then a complex thought or big words cross his lips and I remember again just how much he's maturing! Any of you who have talked to Jack recently, though, know that sometimes he can be a little hard to understand. Out of context, sometimes I can't figure out what he's saying. I try to ask questions to help me figure out what he's trying to communicate with me and, until recently, he would get really frustrated with me. Our school district has a special program for children ages 3+ with speech development delays to receive speech therapy. Jack probably won't qualify for the program, but I figured there was no harm in him receiving an evaluation and checking the program out (hey, we've paid our share of taxes!). So, Jack had his evaluation this week. He was interviewed alone for about 45 minutes. The door to their room was open and I was standing in the doorway of the room next door so I could listen in. I was just amazed how well this sweet little 3 1/2 year old could follow instructions, answer questions, and actually develop rapport with a grown-up he had just met. He aced all of the questions to determine his understanding and use of language, as well as the questions aimed at determining his critical thinking skills. (I just love this--after looking at a picture of girl whose ice cream had fallen off the cone, Ms. Laurie asked him what he would do if his ice cream fell off. He answered matter of factly, "Eat the cone." She says she usually gets a shrug on that one or they say they'd cry. I like his attitude.) Anyways, I really liked this process because having a specialist assess him really helped us pinpoint the sounds he hasn't mastered. I had trouble thinking of the specific sounds he has trouble with when asked over the phone while calling to make the appointment. A few sounds, like saying the 'w' sound for l's, are not expected to be fully developed at his age. However, she noticed that he uses the 'f' sound at the beginning of quite a few words. I can totally pick up on this now and help him practice these words. Tonight at dinner, for instance, Jack said, "I'm fick." Jonathan and I both looked at him and asked, "You're sick?" Ella said, "You're thick?" Jack calmly said to us all, "No, I mean I'm fast." "Oh, you're quick." So by staying cool and telling us in a different way what he was trying to say, we can tell he's maturing in so many ways--hopefully his speech will soon reflect that. Ms. Laurie gave us a few tips on ways we can practice certain sounds at home, so I think we're on the right track to give him that little nudge he needs to improve his articulation. Hopefully, grandparents, you'll start hearing a difference next time you're on the phone with Sweetie Pie Jack! He says the cutest, cleverest things and I don't want to miss any of it!

The 4's Valentine's Day Program

The four-year-old classes gave a concert for their families today at Ella's school. Ella was the only kid wearing her hat that they had made in class and I think it looked rather cute. She was in the front row, but of course I wasn't smart enough to bring my zoom lens so these are the shots I was able to get. The kids sang 10 songs or more! I was so impressed that they remembered all of the songs and their dances so well. Too cute! It's fun to think we'll be watching Jack in this show next year.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Girl and Her Camera

Ella takes her camera just about everywhere these days and takes quite a few pictures, sometimes when you least expect it! She now says that the type of artist that she wants to grow up to be is a photographer. I've been trying to learn more about my camera these days, so I'm hoping we can share this passion together. You'll see from her pictures, though, that she likes being on the other side of the camera, too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dem Bones

We've recently read the book Dem Bones, watched the Scholastic video of the story, and listened to the audio book. Ella and Jack love this book and the song. We've been singing the song quite a bit lately and the kids love spouting all of the little factoids they've learned from the book about bones and their purposes.

Today, Ella took a day off from school to go to an imaging center. She had an ultrasound of her kidneys. They put that jelly on her belly and I told her she looked just like I did when they took the pictures of her in my belly that we had shown her. Of course, these images on the screen weren't quite so interesting. Next, she had a Voiding Cystourethrogram performed. It's about as fun as it sounds. They filled her bladder with dye and took x-rays of it filling and emptying. Basically, they were checking to make sure her kidneys looked normal and healthy and that there is no reflux from her bladder to her kidneys. Ella was a trooper and really hung in there. But, when the process got pretty uncomfortable, she got pretty upset. The live x-ray feed was shown on a t.v. in the room. We could, of course, see her bladder, but we could also see her backbone, hip bone, and thigh bones. I couldn't be more thankful for Dem Bones at this point because I distracted her for the last 10 minutes of the procedure by talking about her bones. We also sang Dem Bones, Dem Bones over and over and over again--it continued out to the parking garage with Ella yelling "Hear The Word of the Lord!" I guess that's not a bad thing to be echoing around the garage of a hospital. The good news is that everything looks normal and is operating as it should.

Thigh bone connected to da hip bone.
Hip bone connected to da back bone...

Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones
Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones
Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones,
Hear The Word of the Lord.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Taking in Some Culture

Jonathan took me on a grand excursion to a Charlotte Symphony concert among the social elite of Charlotte--I thought that was definitely worth posting about. Of course, Ella and Jack tagged along, and, well, it was one of their Lollipops shows for kids, but c'mon, it was still a little culture (something most of my mommy-focused days lack--and at this concert you didn't look too odd doing baby talk...uh, I hope you remember that commercial).
We saw the story of Cinderella acted out by a life-sized puppet group while the Charlotte Symphony performed Sergei Prokofiev’s music for the ballet. Before the performance, the kids got a chance to partake in some music-inspired crafts and try a few instruments on their own. During the show, the conductor highlighted the various groups of instruments and then talked about how the music could be used to highlight/demonstrate various emotions in the story. Ella and Jack were enthralled. Jack's favorite instrument--the tuba. Ella wants a harp. This was definitely a day of culture we all enjoyed.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Way to Go, Ella!

Ella was highlighted in this week's newsletter from her class! She insisted on bringing her Dot book to school (from the BOB series of books) and apparently read it to her class. The letter of the week was 'D', so I guess it fit in nicely with their lessons. Ella was so proud that she could read the words in the book that she wanted to share that with her friends. We're proud of her, too!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Our Little Yogis

Like school today, both Ella's and Jack's gymnastics classes were cancelled because of the snow. This left the kids both yearning to "get some exercise" in another way (they accompany us to the gym, or hear us talking about it, at least a couple of times a week so I guess that's where they picked that up). Luckily, Yoga Kids arrived today from Netflix--I thought it could be fun for them. They've seen me do some exercise videos at home before, so they were really in to the idea. It was so cute to see them follow along and do all of the poses. Jack loved the Downward Dog pose and Ella's favorite was the Flamingo. Ella did the video twice and they both asked if they could do it again after dinner. I guess time will tell if they've been bitten by they yoga bug.

More Snow!

We didn't get quite as much snow this time and it was a lot colder, but we still had a great time playing outside--and this time luckily Jonathan got to join in on the fun!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Just Another Manic Monday

While everyone else might dread each Monday, still "wishing it were Sunday", I actually look forward to this day. On Mondays, Ella and I drop Jack off at school (something he looks forward to) and hang out together. I'm savoring these Mondays in this last year before Ella starts kindergarten. Since the holidays, Ella and I have taken her bike to the park after we drop him off. She rides and I try to keep up (I think of it as interval training because sometimes she has me walking, other times in all out sprints). Once she has worn me out, we head to the library for a bit and then usually run a few errands before we pick up Jack.

Today was a special day, however--not only was it Groundhog Day, it was also Jack's half birthday. He is officially 3 1/2 now and that "1/2" is quite a landmark for a child. This day was extra special for Jack because he got to celebrate this rite of passage with his class. As an August birthday the poor kid never has the chance to wear the birthday crown and enjoy a special treat with his Mom and class at school on his birthday. So this year we decided to celebrate on his half birthday. I made Groundhog cookies for his class and Ella and I joined his class for playground time and lunch. Jack's teachers even made him a "3 1/2" crown and he got to blow out a candle. I think Groundhog Day will always be a special day in this house...Not sure I'll make those cookies again, though--that took about 3 hours!

Our day didn't stop here. Like most Mondays, after school we met up with our good friends Baden and Ilse. Yes, Baden is still Ella's "boyfriend". This is definitely a very special relationship.

Still donning his crown, Jack did get a few funny looks for the "3 1/2" on the birthday crown.