Cruising along

well, the kids are nearing the end of the school year and they’re doing quite well. since Odyssey of the Mind has ended the kids finally have a bit more free time. they are both taking piano lessons and also tennis lessons. we’ve been playing lacrosse in the front yard quite a bit and we have had some great games of horse on the driveway. it’s great to get outside to enjoy the weather this spring. they are both reading like crazy and i am pretty sure J.D. knows everything about Star Wars that was every written or even imagined.

we are starting to plan some of our vacation stuff this for this summer and i think we’ll be heading back up to Mackinac Island and then on up into Canada to explore the north shores of Lake Superior. i am pretty sure we’ll find moose this summer. fingers crossed.

10th place at State

so, the State competition for Odyssey of the Mind was in Kentwood — a Grand Rapids suburb about 20 minutes from here. that was nice. we spent the whole day at East Kentwood High School as the kids competed in the morning and in the afternoon. Things didn’t go very well during Ellie’s long term problem (see video below) and they had some equipment malfunctions and other surprises that popped up. while the kids worked through things their final score in that particular event was considerably lower than their score at regionals so that was disappointing to the kids. they ended up tying the 3rd place team in the Spontaneous event, but they also had something go wrong during that event that caused them some grief as they were competing. so, at the end of the day they finished 10th in the State and the core group of 3rd graders have 2 more years of competing at this level. plus, in 2 years JD can be on the team with Ellie and that will be great. on the positive side, we were able to view other team presentations and even some of the high school presentations . . . this gave the kids a lot of ideas for next year as the creativity of some of the high school kids was just spectacular.

Saturday was also Ellie’s 9th birthday. we all took her out for dinner on Friday night and we went to Graydon’s Crossing — Derby Station. it‘s an English pub here in East Grand Rapids. mmmm. the weater was our first day being over 70 this spring so she had a great birthday.


Ellie is in 3rd grade and her school hasn’t had an Odyssey of the Mind team previously. The second year principal suggested that a team get submitted for this competition. Paula volunteered to coach along with 2 other moms and i volunteered to be a judge. none of us knew much about O.M. but we got online and studied up and started practices twice a week many months ago. the kids chose a problem to compete in and they even wrote their own script and made their props and scenery. the team consists of 2 fifth grade girls and 4 third graders. we figured this year would be good practice to learn about the competition and that the nucleus of 4 third graders could become very competitive in a year or 2. well, we woke up early and headed to the competition. the kids competed in their event and also competed in the Spontaneous event. when the awards show arrived at 6:00 PM tonight we found out that Ellie’s team had tied for first place — they’d won the tournament in their first try and now qualify for the State competition next month. wow!

so the problem they had to address was defined as the following:

Problem 3: The Lost Labor of Heracles
Divisions I, II, III & IV
Teams will create and present an original performance about the ancient Greek hero Heracles. In Greek Mythology, King Eurytheus ordered Heracles to perform 12 labors. The team will reenact Heracles performing one of the 12 labors, as well as a Lost Labor–a team-created thirteenth labor forgotten in history. The performance will also include a god or goddess from Greek Mythology, an original mythological creature that plays a role in the Lost Labor, and the team’s version of why the Lost Labor was forgotten in history.
Cost limit: $125 USD.

there were many more rules and requirements, but that gives you the gist of it. that being said, here is the video from the competition today (after you hit play, you can hit the HQ button to see higher quality — sorry the volume is so quite):

and actually, in this part of the O.M. competition Ellie’s team took 2nd place; however, in the Spontaneous event, Ellie’s team blew away the other schools. that bodes well for State if Ellie’s team can work to improve the production in the video. and if you want to get really technical, Ellie’s team beat the other team by 6/10 of a point. ;~) here is the actual score sheet showing the top 7 as that’s what i could fit in the screen shot:


2 front teeth

we were out eating last night when JD started crying. he had taken a bit of his food and his loose front tooth got knocked crooked a bit. 2 minutes later and he is missing his second front tooth. here’s a shot from the restaurant:


Sean on the news

so, i was interviewed for a story about iPods in education because a local school is using these mp3 players in their classes. 22 seconds of my interview made it onto the newscast . . . and they fail to mention my name or give me any credit, it’s me. unfortunately, they quickly put up the name of a female teacher at an area school — so i cover it up (or try). anyway, here it is —

it’s happening

we’ve become soccer moms . . . and it’s not even soccer season. our kids are busy all of the time. both kids are on the school’s Odyssey of the Mind team. JD is on the K-2nd grade team and Ellie is on the 3rd – 5th grade team. Ellie’s group even meets twice a week for a few hours. i guess this is serious stuff. additionally, Ellie is in the school play (Peter Pan is the play). when she’s not acting in the school play then she is in an acting class through the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. both kids are taking piano lessons. and JD is also doing a lego class and a science class through our local parks and recreation department. whew! add homework every night and we are feeling like we’re always on the go.

happy new year

Grandma and grandpa Cook are here and we all stayed up past midnight. Ellie went to a New Year’s Eve party and stayed all night. we were all a bit tired today, but the big news is that JD lost his second tooth. both teeth have been lost on a holiday now, so that made him pretty darn happy.

our Christmas was very nice. we were here in East Grand Rapids and had grandma and grandpa Mehochko here on X-mas morning. the kids both volunteered to be in the Christmas Pageant at church. they were 2 of the 5 narrators and were both the youngest narrators, so JD was well behind everyone else in age. but that didn’t stop them from going up to the pulpit and reading their pieces with nice and loud voices. very nicely done.

Santa was good to the kids this year, but the kids have been good kids all year so it was well deserved. this was the first year that the kids didn’t send Santa a letter and instead opted to just use email. Paula received a Wii Fit and she’s finally using the Wii for the first time. actually, we are all using the Fit. it provides us with a Wii Fit age and apparently JD and i are equal in Fit age. the boy is a bit out of shape. i think it has more to do with his lack of coordination. i don’t think 7 year olds are the target audience of the Wii Fit. heh. but it has us all moving a lot so that can’t be bad.

Happy new year everyone!

Mayor Ellie

Ellie came home the other day saying her classmates had nominated her as one of the 3 contenders for class mayor. she had a plan and was just sure she would be elected mayor. Paula and i tried to keep her prepared for someone else to win, just in case. well, the had the election today and Ellie was elected mayor of her class. they have a pretend city and they’re solving various civic type problems. how did Ellie do it? well, she noted that there were more girls in the class than boys. she gets along with every girl. the girls decided to only nominate Ellie and then they would all vote for Ellie. the boys unknowingly nominated 2 boys. they split their votes between the 2 boys. easy win for Ellie.


the snow has been falling and falling lately . . . with no respite in sight. most of it is lake effect so we’re feeling like a snowy Seattle. but, when you have a 7 and 8 year old the snow can mean only one thing — sledding. we hit the slopes down the street yesterday and had quite a bit of fun. we built a jump on the hill and Ellie tested it, but it wasn’t sturdy enough at first as she mostly plowed right through.


so, Ellie used her engineering passion to watch JD going over the jump and then tried to perfect things. the end result was some major air time like this for JD:


the kids are finally fully adjusted back to school. they’re keeping busy with homework and playing lacrosse, which they started right after we got back to the states. lacrosse is one of the sports that is available for boys in girls in East Grand Rapids schools so that’s quite different from where Paula and i grew up.

over Thanksgiving we decided to drive to Junction City, Kansas and surprise my mom and Bill. i called them when we were on the road and gave them about an 8 hour warning. normally i wouldn’t do that, but when grandma knows her grandkids are coming i am guessing that the surprise was well worth it. and they came through with some wonderful food and conversation. we saw Paula’s parents on the way down and we also managed to stop by and see Daryl Mellard and his friend Lisa, from Boise State. Daryl served a great dinner and the kids enjoyed playing his new Wii and showing Daryl how it works.

my father is now going through chemo and radiation for his throat cancer. things are going much better now than we ever expected more than a month ago. he’s staying in Denver full time now so Barry, my brother, is handling the tidbits that need to be handled. thanks Barry!

Halloween and more

we finally got settled and back on schedule . . . just in time for Halloween. Paula and i went to the grade school to watch the giant Halloween parade through the school. as JD walked past me he yelled, “Dad, I lost a tooth.” so Ellie lost her first tooth on X-Mas eve and JD lost his on Halloween. as for their costumes . . . Ellie was some princess from Pirates of the Caribbean and JD was a bounty hunter from Star Wars. Star Wars was very popular amongst his classmates. here are two photos as we prepared to head out trick-or-treating (JD had a mask as well, but i wanted his face visible for the photo):

may the force be with you
may the force be with you

and Ellie: