Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

From our super kids…

{I think we got Gator’s Superman costume six years ago for his first Halloween. Gator wasn’t a huge fan of dressing up so the costume has been packed away ever since. Couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get all three kids together decked out like super heroes, though…}

{super girl, please save me from this humiliation…}

{Jonathan’s always a good sport, dressing up when he takes the kids out trick-or-treating. See y’all next year!}

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Amazing Maize Maze

We took advantage of a teacher workday, and the beautiful Fall weather, to head up to Huntersville for some fun in a corn maze with our friends Hayden, Ryan, and their Mom, Carolyn. The Amazing Maize Maze at Rural Hill is a 7-acre corn field with about 2.3 miles about trails (some that we covered more than once :) ), cut in the shape of a Conestoga Wagon (it’s something different every year that relates to the area’s history—a Conestoga, or covered wagon, brought Major John Davidson to this area in the 18th century). To get through the maze and complete your map, you must find a mailbox within each of the 12 maze sections. Within each mailbox is a piece of the map—once you have all of the pieces of your map, you have completed the challenge and can follow the map out of the maze. We found all of the mailboxes, finished our map, and made it to the maze’s exit in about an hour and a half (the fastest time being 44 minutes, the slowest 4 hours)—amazing, right?

{Most of the time we just let the kids lead the way. Each “team” carries a flag in case they need to signal for help.}

{There really wasn’t much corn out there and the stalks were dry and brown—it was a pretty dry late Summer/early Fall up here.}

{Picture by Ella. Just love Jack’s “It’s that way!” in the background.}

{Putting the final piece on our map.}

{Picture by Ella}

{Jack and Ella’s favorite part of the day—saying their names over the loud speaker when we had finished and wishing everyone else in the maze “Good luck!”.}

{A little victory cheer. Go us!}

Our 1st Grader

I met with Ella’s teacher this morning for an end-of-first-quarter parent/teacher conference. Ella is doing great in first grade and is “right where she should be”. Another perfect “report card” and no real concerns. The only big surprise about what her teacher said was that she had noticed that Ella had come out of her shell (??) since the beginning of the year and finally wasn’t shy (??) about answering questions she posed to the class. Ella, shy?? Oh well, I’m glad to hear she’s participating—and even if she was shy for a bit, it didn’t take her long to be herself again.

But, just as we had noticed, Ella’s teacher had also picked up on the fact that Ella’s reading has greatly improved just in the past month. She’s no longer intimidated by books that only have pictures on the chapter pages. She came home with a Judy Moody book from school last week and can read most of it (albeit slowly). Her class starts A.R. (Accelerated Reader, which involves reading books and then taking tests on the content of the books) on Monday—maybe this will motivate her even more to pick up a book more often of her own accord (i.e., without me nagging that she has to get in her 30 minutes for the day).

When Jonathan asked Ella what she thought her teacher might say about her in the conference, Ella said, “I would tell you that I can write five sentences together about something.” And, Ella called it. This is something her teacher has been working on with the entire class, using more detail to tell a story. Her teacher showed me some writing examples from the beginning of the year where Ella would write just a few related sentences during her free writing time and then, from just a few weeks ago, where she wrote the entire story of how she came to have a sling on her arm (including the part about the chair being on top of the couch) in about eight sentences. She has written about her loose tooth, my triathlon, the Browns’ Halloween party, the Mint Museum art contest (she’s still very proud of this accomplishment), how good at art her Nonni is, being a flower girl in Aunt Jacqui and Uncle Randy’s wedding, getting stitches on her toe, getting stitches on her eyebrow, and her Halloween costume. These are always very interesting (and amusing) to read…it always makes me think, too, that first grade teachers must know just about everything about their young students’ lives… And, I really can’t wait until all of this moves into creative writing—your own child’s stories must be better than any book.

She’s also doing great in the many other subjects she was assessed on—math, social studies, science, and behavior/following class rules. I glow with pride whenever I watch Ella tear through her math homework (still just addition, subtraction, shapes, patterns, and relationships)—I keep hoping she’ll have a love for the subject like I did in school. But, as of now, she says her favorite subject is science because of all of the fun experiments they do. So, bottom line—she’s enjoying school and progressing nicely. What more could we ask for? She has taken quite well to the big responsibility of being a grader. :) We’re very proud of our 1st grader!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Heart Faces: Pink

This week’s pink theme at I Heart Faces is in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

I can’t think of pink without thinking of my Ella. She’s 6 now and it’s still her favorite color. I just love the pink bow and the pink pout in this sweet picture of her from last June.

Check out the other pink entries and inspiring stories at I Heart Faces!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Gator!



Our sweet puppy is now 7 years old.  This year for Gator’s birthday we gave him a fence—he has enjoyed passing many an hour laying out in the grass on these cool Fall days, feeling the wind through his ears.  We love this dog.  Happy Birthday, Gator!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

We made our annual trek to the pumpkin patch this evening—we considered going last weekend, but it really didn’t feel like Fall with the 87-degree weather and all.  We live just around the corner from Hunter Farm and we’ve gotten our pumpkins there three of the last four years (see the 2008 post) because it’s easy, close, and still a lot of fun for the kids.  We had beautiful Fall weather today, cool and not a cloud in the sky.  This also means it was pretty sunny so,while the pumpkin patch is always a fave photo op, we had a lot of harsh shadows and crazy sun flare.  We did try to have a little fun with the shadows (see the family portrait and Mommy and Daddy moment below).  Obviously, I was in a collage kind of mood today.  :)





Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pretty in Pink

Just having fun in the backyard, enjoying the beautiful Fall weather…


Ella & Baden

Ella and Baden met about 4 years ago when they both started the 2’s at preschool together and, since that time, they’ve had a very special bond.  Baden will turn 7 years old this month and one of his special birthday requests was to take Ella out for a round of miniature golf.  Baden’s mom, Ivy, and Baden picked Ella up today for their little outing (and, although we discouraged this, Ella kept calling this a “date”).  They had a fun time playing putt-putt (Baden even got a hole in one!) and then had a late lunch together.  It was a really nice afternoon for Ella with a very special friend.  Ella couldn’t be happier that this time spent with her was one of Baden’s birthday requests.

This is a picture from Ella’s 3rd birthday party (it was an Ella Enchanted prince and princess party), when I first noticed how much Ella and Baden both enjoyed spending time together.  Ella still has this picture up in her room.

The next year, in the 3’s, Ella and Baden were not in the same class together but their classrooms were joined by a bathroom.  Two days a week they were at school together and on those mornings they would wait for each other in the adjoined bathroom for a morning hello and hug.

In the 4’s, Baden went to a new preschool.  These two missed each other so much (and I was enthused at this point that the feeling was mutual) that Baden’s mom and I planned a standing playdate each Monday after preschool at a nearby playground.

And last year, in kindergarten, Ella and Baden were on different school schedules (9am-4pm vs. 7am-2pm) so the playdates were fewer and farther between.  Did this dampen the relationship?  Not a bit.  It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes (and I know I’ve put this on my blog before, more than likely regarding some of my own friendships, but, like I said, it’s one of my faves), by English poet Robert Southey:  No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth.  There’s no doubt that these two greatly value each other.


If you keep up with our blog, none of this is probably new to you.  But, I have to say that the connection these two have, and that fact that it has held year after year, continues to amaze me and definitely needs to be documented to highlight its importance in Ella’s young life.  We have all benefited from this special relationship in the friendship we have developed with his wonderful family, and for that we are all thankful.  We’re also very thankful for the confidence and security Ella has felt from receiving the sweet attentions from such a remarkable boy.  I’m sure (and I do also hope) you’ll see many more posts to come about the friendship of Ella and Baden. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Our TK-er

Yesterday I had a parent-teacher conference with Jack’s TK teacher and it was truly eye opening.  We haven’t been giving this kid enough credit!  To say that it was a glowing review would be an understatement.  Jack is thriving in TK!  Actually, his teacher said that he could totally be in kindergarten right now and be excelling there.  Admittedly, I was surprised to hear that statement this early in the year, but I guess the teachers, the format, and the curriculum of TK have been just the right formula for Jack to take it all seriously.  She reiterated that they often point to Jack to show the other kids how they should be behaving.  He’s also very engaged in what is being taught or discussed, he’s excited about the activity centers, and he has made some very good friends (including one “Lily S.” who he tries to be bathroom monitor with each day so they can stand together in line).  Jack’s teacher showed me a worksheet that documented an evaluation they had performed to evaluate kindergarten readiness.  I get the impression typically at this point in the year there are development points and by the end of the year they should be met or exceeded.  Well, Jack has already exceeded all of them (it’s nothing mind-blowing, just number recognition, counting, letter sounds, understanding relationships, etc., etc.) and she was very impressed by him.  His teacher and I both agreed Jack will ultimately benefit from this extra year to mature, grow, and build his confidence (and honestly none of this review makes me second-guess sending Jack to TK this year—it’s a decision I know I’ll never regret).  Jack’s teacher postulated that perhaps he had matured quite a bit over the Summer (because Jack definitely misbehaved some in class last year, nothing serious but there were a few notes home and, yes, his new teachers had heard about it from last year’s teacher), but honestly I think this has all happened in the last 4 or 5 weeks he’s been in TK.  Nevertheless, Jonathan and I are incredibly proud parents.  And it is a relief to already feel comfortable that Jack will no doubt be prepared when he hits elementary school next year.  For now, though, we’re going to focus on enjoying this terrific year for Jack in TK with the teachers he loves so much. 

Lunch with Ella

It’s our rotten luck this year that Ella’s lunch each day at school is from 12:55 to 1:20pm.  Jack has preschool pick-up every weekday at his school, which is a good 20 minutes away from Ella’s school, starting at 12:50pm.  There’s just no chance I/we can make it to have lunch with her.  I’ve been considering either picking Jack up early one day or just having him play hooky (I mean, why not?  This is his last year to really do that.) just so we can meet Ella for lunch.  Who knows just how many more years I have where she’ll LET me come in to sit with her for lunch—I am not going to miss out on it this year!  Anyways, Jack’s school is repaving the parking lot and as a result his pick-up time moved up to 12:30pm today.  Jack and I jumped on this chance to enjoy a lunch with Ella at her school.  It was fun to finally see Ella with her classmates and be back in Ella’s school.  We also got to take advantage of the gorgeous weather by eating our lunch outside at the school’s picnic tables.  Ella, Jack, and I had a fun lunch together and sweet Ella felt very special.  I felt very special, too, because Ella seemed extremely proud to have her mom there.  :) 



{Ella had to take a picture of me if I was going to take one of her.  Part of the deal.  I always try to wear something pink or pretty when I visit Ella at school (hence the earrings and headband) because Ella always thanks me later for it.}