Amphibians

i realize i just posted another entry 2 days ago, but this is worth sharing. last night i took the kids to the mall to meet up with Paula so we could buy the kids spring clothing. we decided to eat dinner at the mall. when eating, we typically ask the kids about their days. JD had studied frogs and toads yesterday, so i asked him to talk about frogs and toads.

he explained how we are mammals and that we have warm blood. the frogs and toads have cold blood and they need to dig down and hibernate in the winter. i asked him to talk more about frogs and toads and he described some facts about frogs and toads and then he looked up at us and said, “did you know that frogs like living around water because they are amphibians?” when he used the word, “amphibian” i think paula and i both did a double-take. ;~)

today he is scheduled to learn about Vincent Van Gogh, so that should make for a fun discussion tonight.

Parent – teacher conferences

paula and i had our second parent/teacher conference with Ellie’s teacher this week. everything went just as you’d expect with our little gal. Ellie is doing first grade work in kindergarten and her teacher regularly provides Ellie with additional school work that her classmates are not doing. Mrs Stuursma explained that Ellie is very good about doing the extra work and not pointing it out to other kids or acting like she is any better than her classmates. good for Ellie. i asked her about it tonight and she said that she knows she does harder work, but that she should be doing harder work because she can do it. and, Ellie talked about wanting to do her personal best in school. Mrs Stuursma told us that she has been talking to Ellie about doing her personal best, so it’s nice to see this is something that Ellie has taken to heart.

Paula had a conference with JD’s teacher last week (or the week before). JD is also doing quite well. his memory is just fantastic and he regularly gets answers right when his class is questioned during group time. he is the little helper and is always willing to clean up after he plays and when it is time to make the transition into a new activity. it’s hard to believe that he has my genes, eh? heh heh. the teacher did say that JD needs to work on his emotions. he is a little too quick to cry and he will even cry if he feels bad for his friends (e.g., he made his friend Robert cry and seeing Robert cry made JD cry). JD will be going to Ellie’s school soon to get assessed for kindergarten or the pre kindergarten program called young fives. any kids born from sept. 1 – the end of december can potentially be placed in young fives instead of kindergarten . . . since they would technically be 4 years old when kindergarten starts. about 30 kids end up in young fives so that they can take an extra year to get ready for kindergarten. Paula and i think it might be good to let JD wait a year whether he ends up in young fives or not. the extra year would help him mature some more and get over the crying, but it would also allow some extra separation between Ellie and JD . . . and that has to be good for JD. so, we’ll see.

Circus circus

Okay, I have something against the circus from the get-go. I just can’t help but think about how cruel they must be to animals. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Every Tuesday and Thursday, a professor buddy of mine who has an office upstairs from me drops his daughter by (single dad) so she can walk to school with Ellie as they are in the same class. My friend has to teach an early class on those days. To say thanks, he bought us tickets to the circus last weekend. We all went together and Paula stayed home to clean up some of the mess the builders have created. We had much fun at the circus and I have added some new photos from the event and in the days around the circus. Click on Photos (top and right) to see the photos. Ellie rode the biggest pony they had and JD rode . . . well, he rode a bail of hay, but not very enthusiastically. Check out the photos and you’ll find one of him on the bail of hay.

Ellie surprised us the other day by writing her first book . . . without any help. You can see the photos I took of the pages in the same photo set that contains the circus shots. If you need help reading the words, I have a better version here for you to see a typed version as well. The fact that she can piece together sentences and create a whole story over various pages is something to behold. Very neato!

JD has been into counting lately. The other day he honestly counted to 229 before giving up. He knows that 300 comes after 299 and that next comes 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, and 900. He won’t start kindergarten for over a year, but there are kids in Ellie’s kindergarten class who can’t count beyond 20ish. JD is doing just swell.

Construction is coming along on the remodeling to our house. They should put up drywall tomorrow and then they’ll just have flooring and cabinents left along with painting. They put in the insulation today and that really caused everything to take shape. Looking good.

Family life

Our house is an absolute mess right now. We are remodeling and our house is in disarray. A few weeks ago, the work started and we are probably a month or so away from having an extra 1/2 bath and a whole new master’s suite. Previously, our bedroom was in between the kids’ bedrooms and we all shared a bathroom. After construction, we’ll take over the guest room and it will be larger and have a beautiful full bathroom and a huge walk-in closet. The entrance to our house from garage will be moved and the laundry room will be moved. Our square footage increases a little bit and we even managed to get a kitchen pantry out of this project. It’s pretty awesome to see the skeleton coming together.

I visited Ellie’s classroom last Thursday. I was lucky enough to have Ellie’s group come to my teaching station. Her group is just able to do so much more than the other groups who passed through my station with regard to the problems they could solve together. It’s easy to forget how advanced our little gal is because we’re so used to how quickly she picks up on things and we just come to expect much as the norm. But, spending time in Ellie’s classroom provides me with a glimpse of where most kids this age are performing.

JD is getting excited about school. And, he’s so excited at night and just loves to do homework. He can sit and write letters and say letter sounds for long periods of time. We’re still working on trying to “get” the concept of reading since he can say letter sounds, but he’s just not quite over the hump. He can get lucky, but he doesn’t quite get it. So close.

The kids have been enjoying the outdoors lately. The temps have been in the 60s for the past many days. We spent the whole weekend outside riding big wheels and scooters and playing at the playground again, and again, and again. Fun, fun times.

Finally, on Friday night the kids had their first sleep over. They both stayed over at Molly’s house (Ellie’s friend). It wasn’t a planned thing, but when it was decided the kids were all for it. And, I stayed up late on Friday just waiting for the call to come pick a child (or two) up. The call never came. They stayed and loved it.

Uncle Barry visits

Uncle Barry (Sean’s brother) came and had a fun visit this past weekend. He arrived on Friday and was able to accompany us as we took the kids to their first ski lessons on a slope not too far from our house. The kids were getting the hang of turning and all that jazz. Ellie loved skiing and JD thinks he needs to wait until he is 6 to try again. The thing is, JD was very, very good for his first time. He was turning left and right with the greatest of ease. I think he just felt like it was too much work. I’ll get him out on the slope very soon and show him how fun it can be. I have added photos of the ski lessons if you click on Photos (right somewhere or at the very top of this page).

We didn’t have anything planned while uncle Barry was here, but we spent a lot of time hanging out and just having funĀ (mostly eating and watching KU basketball). The kids wanted to play "wrestling" quite a bit. JD has the game figured out to where he has force fields and super strong armor such that he can’t be hurt. But, Barry helped JD learn that being invincible wasn’t all that fun . . . though, I have no doubt that this "lesson" will last until the next time we play wrestling. ;~)

Barry and I were able to take Ellie to her rehearsal for her big choir concert this past weekend. They were in the St. Cecilia’s Music Society, which is a very nice concert hall. The concert was on Sunday afternoon when I was taking Barry back to the airport. But, Paula filmed the concert so maybe I’ll be able to add video to the site some time soon.

Finally, Daryl has figured this out, but the rest of you can easily add comments without registering for this site. You just click on Comments under the title and add your name, email (it’ll stay hidden) and your comments and hit submit. Ta da! Try it out.