Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Goodbye, Jeff!

Yesterday my brother Jeff left the state of Florida. He's been living here for five years, first going to Stetson, and then working for a year. He's off to Pennsylvania to work for the summer and then start grad school at Penn State main campus. We'll miss having him at all the holiday dinners, but we'll grill some peeps in his honor next year.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Family Size

Don't believe anyone who says three children is easier than two, or two children are easier than one. Last night Benjamin slept over at a friend's, while Alexander slept at Grandma and Grandpa's. We were left with just Jonathan. Sitting at dinner, with only one child to feed and watch, we realized that we never appreciated how easy it was with just one child. We love our family the way it is, but it's nice every once in awhile to sit back and relax with just one. Now I have to prepare myself for the chaos when both boys come home in an hour. And it's raining outside. It will be quite a day. When does school start again????

Look who's growing!

We now have official evidence that Jonathan, who has consistently been in the 10th percentile for height and weight, has grown. On Saturday, when we went to EPCOT, he was finally tall enough to go on two big rides - Test Track and Soarin'. We started with Soarin', which he loved, as you can see by the top picture. Then we ventured over to Test Track, where you ride in a car that goes over 60 MPH. Here he is, sitting between Mommy and Daddy, not enjoying the ride one bit. We thought he would love it, since he plays with cars 24/7. Turns out it was a little too fast and intense for him. So next time we'll skip Test Track and ride Soarin' over and over!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

School's Out!

No more classrooms, no more books, no more teachers, dirty looks! That's right, today was, sadly, the last day of school. We now have until August 20th to keep the boys entertained and not fighting. They both had a great year at school. We couldn't have asked for better teachers. Alexander said he cried on the bus because he was sad that school was out. Thank you Ms. Clayton and Ms. Morris for a fabulous year of school! Thank you Miss Joyce for safe rides to and from school each day.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Summer Trip

Here's a picture of Dave, Jodie, and Liesl from when they visited at Christmas time. We can't wait to see how much Liesl has grown when we get to Duluth this summer. Which brings me to...
We're in the midst of planning our summer excursion. We're also watching gas prices with dread as they climb higher and higher. I have to keep reminding myself that even if gas is $4 a gallon, it's still cheaper than buying 5 plane tickets! Here are our tentative plans:

  • June 9 - 10: Drive to Indianapolis, with a stop at Mammoth Cave

  • June 10 - 12: Stay in Indianapolis with Karen's college roommate Loui and her husband Carl

  • June 12 - 14: Stay at Wisconsin Dells

  • June 14 - 20: Stay with Dave, Jodie, and Liesl in Duluth. Karen is running Grandma's half marathon, and Dave is running the full marathon. Chris and Alexander are also running a 5K the night before the marathon.

  • June 20 - 22: Stay with our friends the Elmquists (Jonathan's best friend!) in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. They moved there in December and we can't wait to see them again.

  • June 22-23: Drive to Toronto

  • June 23 - 27: Stay in Toronto and explore the city. We've never been there, and are excited to see it. We're also going to check out Niagra Falls!

  • June 27: Drive to Lewisburg and stay with Cindi's family

  • June 28: Drive to Allentown!!!!! It will be our "home base" for the rest of the trip.

  • June 30: Karen's 20th high school reunion. Are we really that old???

  • July 1 - 7: Bear Creek Camp for Benjamin and Alexander!!! Alexander is staying for 3 nights, and after we drop him off, Chris and I are going to stay at a hotel in the Poconos.

  • July 16 - 20: Chris and I go to NYC for the week with a group from Volusia County Schools. The three boys are staying with Gram and Pop-Pop and attending their VBS.

  • Sometime after July 20th: Drive home! We have to be home by July 27th, when we have tickets to see the London Symphony Orchestra perfoming Beethoven's Ninth Symphony! One of our friends, Gretchen, is in the chorus.

Well, that's a not-so-short summary of our trip. We hope to visit many of our friends while we are in Allentown in July. If you have any suggestions for our trip, let us know!!! We have 3 DVD screens to install in our car, which should help our trip go smoother.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

We found a preschool!

Jonathan had a great year at Wee Hawks! I'm hoping to get back to teaching this coming school year, and Wee Hawks' hours won't work when both of us are employed full time. So yesterday Mom Weinrich and I went preschool/daycare hunting. Our first two stops weren't promising. Jonathan clung to me, even crawling under my skirt. At one school, the director told us some personal things about the children. Not good. We weren't even allowed in the next school. So we went to our last stop, the Montessori School of Port Orange. I could tell almost immediately that it was different from the others. The director was professional, the facility was spotless, and Jonathan left me to try out some of the toys! Inside they have the equivalent of a McDonalds playyard (but without the transfat) and a waterfall table where the kids use dikes to redirect the water. Their outside, SHADED playyard is over an acre in size. Most importantly, the teachers are all Montessori certified. In the classrooms, the students were working alone or in small groups with age-appropriate manipulatives. The classroom was organized and inviting. The school costs about $25 a week more than the others, but there is no comparison in the quality. It comes out to about $100 a month, or $1,000 for the school year. I think Jonathan is worth the thousand dollars. Today I dropped off his paperwork and registration fee. He asked me if I was going to let him stay. That's a great sign!!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mile Club Awards

Today I was at the boys' school for the Mile Club awards. Every Tuesday after school, the mile club meets in the field behind the school. Members walk, run, or jog around a 1/4 mile course which winds through a nature trail, the PE field, and sidewalks. After each lap, they are given a popsicle stick to keep track of their laps. Throughout the year, they add up the miles. After 105 laps (26.2 miles) they receive a marathon shirt. Three of the kids logged over 100 miles!!!! Benjamin was the official member, but parents and siblings are welcome, so I brought Alexander and Jonathan every Tuesday and we all ran together. Alexander finished his "marathon" on the very last week. Jonathan didn't run laps. Instead he would sit at the picnic tables for awhile, then walk a little, then sit again. It was neat how the kids in the club adopted him. I never knew who he would be walking with, but there was always someone next to him encouraging him. Since they all participated, I took a picture with all the boys. Benjamin is holding his plaque, which was donated by a local doctor. With all the childhood obesity in our country, this is a great club! Let's get our kids moving at an early age in a positive way!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The smoke returns

Yesterday morning, I was scheduled to run 12 miles. I dutifully set my alarm for 6:30 AM. After I had eaten breakfast, I realized it looked awfully foggy outside. Unfortunately, it was a mix of fog and smoke. I decided not to run in the smoke, and drove over to the YMCA instead. I took this picture on the way. As I was running, I was watching CNN and found out that there are fires in California and MINNESOTA! Hopefully Dave and Jodie aren't experiencing the same smoky conditions were are. The smoke did clear out by noon, and today was clear again. Right now it looks like rain...here's hoping!!!

You can tell Jonathan is the third child because...

When we were at the grocery store on Friday, I bought him a gallon of chocolate milk. Just because he asked. I don't think the other boys had chocolate milk until they got to school and bought it at lunch. Lucky kid.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Sunny days are here again!

On the way home from the YMCA this morning, I saw the sun for the first time in a week. It wasn't obscured by the smoke or haze. The winds have shifted, and our area is clear of smoke for the time being. We can open the windows and play outside again! Yea!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Smoke, Day 3

Well, it's not quite as smoky today. Unlike yesterday, the children were allowed to go outside for recess. I thought all of this smoke was from the local fire, but it turns out it is being blown here from Georgia. It seems that there is a tropical depression sitting off the coast of GA/FL, which is bringing high winds and blowing smoke as far as Miami. A tropical storm is just what we need to put out the fires, but this one has hardly any rain associated with it and gusty winds. The newspaper said the smoky conditions could persist through June. I sure hope not, or we just may start our summer vacation a few weeks early. School is out May 23rd. Anyone up for some visitors???

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Smoke, day two

Today is worse than yesterday. There is a smoky haze that has settled all over our area. It's thick enough that the boys' school cancelled outside recess and PE classes. These pictures were taken looking down our street both ways. The smell is everywhere - in the house, the car, even the school!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Birthday relatives

Jonathan was lucky to have relatives here for his birthday. Here are pictures of Gram and Pop-Pop, Grandma and Grandpa, and Uncle Jeff. He's holding some of the vehicles he got for his birthday. If it has wheels, he likes it!

Where there's smoke...

Uh-oh. Florida is burning up again. In 1998, When Benjamin was 5 months old, we had wildfires for two months. It was so bad that we flew to Pennsylvania 2 weeks earlier than planned. This year looks to be bad again. Last night, when I woke up in the middle of the night, I could smell the smoke IN OUR HOUSE! Yuck! It's not necessarily smoky, but the smell is very strong today. There is a huge fire about 20 miles north of us, and today the winds are, of course, blowing from the north. We need rain!!!!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Dance Recital

This past weekend was very busy. We had Wee Hawks graduation, Jonathan's birthday, and Benjamin and Alexander's dance recital. Yes, our boys both take dance. It all started three years ago when we evacuated for Hurricane Francis. We went to Atlanta with Anita, Chris, and their kids. Anita is a dance instructor, and she convinced Benjamin to try dance class. Turns out he loved it. This is his third year of taking tap, ballet, and jazz. Above is a picture is from his tap number. Notice his outfit - I made it! Alexander began dance this year. He takes only ballet because he loves the teacher "Miss Brooke." Here he is at the end of his number. We were very proud of the boys. A year ago, I would never have believed that Alexander would set foot on a stage with a few hundred people watching. Benjamin has improved immensely since last year. Anita says at the age of 9 they start to have awareness of their body movements and really start to progress. It was a great night, and fortunately both sets of grandparents could be there to enjoy it.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

An Ode to Wee Hawks

Friday was "graduation day" at Wee Hawks, Jonathan's preschool. They had a cute celebration in the auditorium where "undergraduates" (those not going to kindergarten) got preschool awards and "graduates" (those going to kindergarten) wore caps and gowns and received diplomoas. Then they performed songs and fingerplays for the parents and grandparents. Everyone, that is, except for Jonathan. He had to be practically carried out to get his award, and then refused to participate in any of the songs. He started by folding his hands across his chest and frowning (see above) and then progressed to turning his back to the entire audience. What a proud moment. After the official ceremony, we went to the library, where each child received a superstar award. Some of them were "most social," "best singer," "biggest flirt," and "most likely to succeed." They went alphabetically, so we had to wait awhile for Jonathan's. We began speculating as to what he would get. Based on the graduation ceremony, we expected "most stubborn" or "best impersionation of spaghetti." We were delighted when he was given "most kind-hearted." To me, that was the best award given out the whole day!
We are blessed to have found the Wee Hawks program. Benjamin and Alexander also attended, both for two years. Wee Hawks is held on Spruce Creek High School campus (the Hawks), and is taught by juniors and seniors who have gone through the child development courses. It is everything I could want in a preschool. It meets Tues-Fri from 7:50 - 10:50 (to accomodate the high school schedule) and is very inexpensive ($24 a week!!!). Everyday they do crafts, have "free play," play outside, eat a snack, and listen to stories. Within all these activites they are exposed to letters and counting. What they don't do is try to teach the kids to read. They let kids be kids and learn through play. And that's what preschools should be about.