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09.16.2012 - Paw prints across our hearts - Day 3850 / 2874

Monty

On July 16th we lost our friend, our first born, and furry child, Monty.

Monty joined our family in May of 1999 and has been with us for the entirety of our family life together. His passing has left an emptiness in our home and in our hearts.  We've updated Monty's page and have added a photo gallery of his life - from the day we brought him home, to the day we said goodbye.

At the start of summer was the soccer tryouts for the Fall season. Much to everyone's shock, Owen was dropped from his team. While he wasn't the best player, he was far from the worst. We're not sure why he was cut and no one will tell us. His coach intended Owen to be one of his first picks but couldn't be there for the tryouts and was shocked when he found out Owen was dropped. The professional trainer also expressed his disgust at Owen being cut and commented there were several kids he would have recommended dropping ahead of Owen. However, the entire club was poorly managed, heavily into cliques, and ego. After we got over the shock we were glad to be out of there.

Owen did, however, get signed on to another team - Panther SC. It was the first team he tried out for. He's very excited to be part of the new team, and even happier that the team color is the same as his favorite color - Orange!

The beginning of August was the seeding tournament in Rockford. It was the first time his new team played together and the first game was a disaster. They were losing 0-2 when a severe thunderstorm canceled the rest of the day.  Owen was not playing well at all and caught hell when we got to the hotel. Sometimes it seems all that's important to him is that he has on a uniform and is on the field... sometimes he forgets he actually needs to play, and play well. Three more games were played the next day and they won all three. Owen even got a goal in.

So far this season they have won every game, and by a landslide every time. The loss of the first day's worth of games at the tournamnet meant they were placed in a lower league than they should have been and are playing teams at a lower skill level. Owen's been scoring tho and last week scored his first 'hat trick' of three goals in one game. He's been dreaming of this for years!

They lost their first game this weekend at a nearby tournament. They made it into the championship game but played against a higher level team who had no problems playing dirty. Owen got punched in the face while he battled another player for the ball.

Meanwhile Adam continues TaeKwonDo and has progressed to his purple belt! He absolutely loves it and insists on having Ramen noodles for dinner on class nights - the food of ninjas.

Summer means summer camp. The boys returned to their outdoor summer camp and enjoyed it, tho Adam not as much. The second half of the summer we put them in a camp at their school which promised to be fun and educational. The boys love school and learning so they really enjoyed this, and it gave them both a head start to the school year.

Owen returned to school a Fifth grader and Adam is now in Second Grade. Adam has started in the Challenge Program which is at a different school, which means he needs to catch the bus. He enjoyes this and has found a friend to ride with. He loves his new school and teacher and is proud that he is doing Third Grade work!

We've finally received Owen's ISAT scores from Spring 2012 : In reading he scored a 258 (exceeds) and is in the 99th percentile nationally. In Math he scored a 280 (exceeds) and is in the 97th percentile nationally, and in Science he scored a 229 (upper end of meets - 237 needed to exceed) and landed in the 73rd percentile nationally.

Our vacation this year was back to California! We were thinking of a Disney Cruise, but after that cruise ship sank in Italy earlier this year both boys refused to get on one. We thought about Florida (with Disney World, Epcot, and a new Legoland) but it looked to be unbearably hot and humid, plus we couldn't figure out a schedule. Adam expressed interest in seeing where he was born - so California it was!

And we packed a lot in as well! Los Angeles - especially for Adam - we took them to the Natural History Museum to see their dinosaur exhibit, and to the La Brea Tar Pits, then down to San Diego for SeaWorld and Legoland, then up to Lake Forest to show the boys their roots, then off to Las Vegas and a visit to Hoover Dam. We intended on all going to see the Beatles LOVE but Adam got sick just as we were leaving for the show and wound up throwing up. He and Mom sat in the lobby while Owen and Dad saw the show.

Added:
- New photos
- Updated Monty's page
- Tribute to Monty in the Photo section

rule


05.17.2012 - Ninja-a-go-go! - Day 3728 / 2752

Bean

October - Since we didn't take a vacation this summer we treated the boys to a weekend up at the Dells in Wisconsin where we stayed at an indoor water park. The boys enjoyed it but we are still having an issue with them doing anything that involves excitement. I couldn't get either of them to do down the water slide until the end of our stay. They did, however, enjoy multiple GoKart rides.

November - Adam had his 7th birthday! His birthday fell on a Thursday this year so we did a little celebration for him at home, after school. We opened his presents then took him out to dinner. Two years ago he said he wanted to go to a place where they sing Happy Birthday to you. We picked Chili's as it seemed like That Kind of Place. Well, it wasn't. But while we were there the Beatles song Birthday came on over the piped in music. I pointed this out to Adam, who didn't seem to care. But when we asked him where he wanted to go this year he replied "I don't want to go to Chili's even though the Beatles sing Happy Birthday to you!" In the end he picked Red Robin. November seems a popular month of birthday's because while we were there, there were at least SIX other birthdays. Adam was not happy they weren't singing the traditional birthday song. However we requested it and they politely obliged.

Speaking of Adam and Tradition, he was NOT happy that Christmas decorations and ads were coming out even before Halloween. "Don't they know Thanksgiving comes first?!"

The day after his birthday the boys were off school so we had his birthday party on that night. We had it at Jump Zone again this year. We were a bit amazed at how popular Adam seems to be. All his friends wanted to sit next to him, and were tugging and pulling him in all directions. We observed this again at a school social event a few days later.

The reason the boys were off school was due to Parent - Teacher confernces. Both boys also received their report cards and received exceptional grades.

At the beginning and the end of each school year students are required to take a MAP test (Measure of Acedemic Progress). The tests are taken on a computer and are fluid, meaning if the child answers a question correctly the test becomes harder. If they get a question wrong they get an easier question.

Owen's scores were:
Reading : 209 (this puts Owen at the 75th percentile)
Math : 215 (this puts Owen in the 97th percenitle)

Adam's scores:
Reading : 202 (this puts Adam above the 99th percentile - the charts tops out at 193!)
Math : 193 (this put Adam in the 93rd percentile)

Both boys are voracious readers; reading in bed every night for at least an hour. Owen reads a book within three days.

Adam's class had a Thanksgiving Presentation. Everyone dressed in homemade turkey costumes and sang some songs. Afterwards each child took the microphone to announce what they were thankful for. Adam said 'Beyblades' and his friend Caleb said 'I am thankful for Adam.'

We hit the Chicago Toy and Game Fair again this year. The boys had a ton of fun trying out new games and toys. There was one new game that Adam tried called Stomple. After learning how to play the game he played a round against Mom and royally beat her. The staff member was impressed. The game is for 8 and up and Adam just turned 7. She felt he was very bright. On the other hand, however, we tried a game callled Hedbanz, which is a version of the game Celebrity Heads. Adam had trouble with this, relying on the tip card rather than thinking up his own questions.

December - The boys each had to write a book for Young Authors at school. Owen wrote a book called "Superheroes vs Zombies." Owen really got into this and in the end we had trouble with this because he kept adding to the story! Adam, who's been fascinated with ninjas lately, wrote a cute story called "The Ninja Who Was Afraid of the Dark." While he had the story he wanted to tell in his head getting him to actually write it down was an issue. We have this problem every week. He's required to write five or six sentences each week about something. Every week he sits there for over an hour huffing and puffing, saying he doesn't know what to write about. To solve the problem with his book we sat with him in front of the computer and he dictated the story while we typed it. The book can be seen in the Art Club in the sidebar.

The boys both worked hard on their books but unfortunately the school has stopped selecting the best books for each grade to send to the State Young Authors Conference and instead randomly chose five books to represent the school. We were really disappointed in this decision as after second grade the books are a requirement. A winner could be someone who has no interest in books or writing and couldn't care less about going. Both boys were proud of their books and took a lot of time with them.

For Christmas Adam finally got a Nintendo DS! We picked two games for him: Club Penguin (a popular kids game), and Fossil Fighters (because it involved digging for fossils, and building battle dinosaurs). The Fossil Fighters game, bought on a whim, was a big hit. It was the only game he played for months. Owen liked it so much he bought his own copy of the game to play. Adam sold his Leapster on eBay for $75!

January - Back in December, Owen's teacher started noticing he was squinting a lot and suggested we have his eyes tested and, you guessed it! Owen has glasses now. He doesn't wear them all the time, just for watching tv and reading the white board at school.

March - Owen turns ten! Owen really wanted to have a birthday party this year, and he wanted it at his indoor soccer place. Unfortunatly this wasn't in the cards for this year. We could only book the place on week nights, and most of his friends were going away for that weekend anyway. But he got a big surprise when his Uncle Mike came over from Europe during his birthday! bearing many cool soccer gifts! And, since Uncle Mike writes for the Sunderland game programme he was able to get Owen a birthday greeting in the next week's programme!

Meanwhile, Uncle Mike, who enjoys playing games, challenged Adam to a few rounds of Stomple. He lost every game!

This winter had been extremely mild (only one major snowfall) so we took advantage of the warm weather and set out to teach Adam to ride a bike. We tried breifly last summer but Adam was still a little too unfocused and it didn't go so well, and then it was such a hot summer no one wanted to go outside. It took a couple of tries but he finally got it! He has a little trouble keeping in a straight line (and staying on the sidewalk), and starting off, but he'll get there soon enough.

April - Last summer we were struggling with Adam's lack of interest in soccer. He keeps saying he doesn't like it, then insists we sign him up for it. We'd been looking for another interest for him. We tried pushing him towards music but he never really seemed interested. Since he had been hopping around the house like a ninja for the last six months we decided to try him on TaeKwonDo. He couldn't be happier! He takes it very seriously and tries his hardest every week (and insists on eating ramen for dinner on class nights). When his instructor asked us what we hoped to gain from the classes we told him Adam needed help focusing and paying attention. The instructor found this very hard to believe.

We did get quite a surprise this month. Adam's Young Author book was chosen by Brainstormers (a traveling theater group who encourages reading) to be made into a mini play and performed for his school! Adam didn't find out until his name was called out during the show and he handled it in a perfectly Adam way - with disinterest!

For years we've been wondering if Owen had some sort of ADHD issue. We finally addressed this issue with Owen's doctor who recognized the signs immediately. Owen has been taking a drug in the form of a patch for several weeks now. The patch allows us to better control when he's on the drug as it leaves his system within an hour or two of removal. There has been a definate change in his behavior and concentration while he's on the patch vs days we don't.

May - After some encouragement from his teacher, we had Adam tested for moving up to the Challenge/Gifted school. We are pleased to say he passed! We are in two minds on this, however. The program is not at his school and he would have to be bussed to a different school, which we are not happy with. On the other hand, we don't feel the our school will properly challenge him and we would, in essencece be held back by having to learn things at a lower level. Like now, for example, he's learning '+ 0's and '- 1's - far below what he is capable of.

After less than two months at TaeKwonDo, Adam has been given the go ahead to take his belt test - and he passed! He is now a Yellow Belt.

Added:
- New photos!
- Two new videos! The play based on Adam's book, and his first Belt test.
- Adam's book The Ninja Who Was Afraid of the Dark