News 2008

11.08.08 - I Love You Ten - Day 2442 / 1466

(yes i know, long time since the last update, but so much has been going on and the entire site needed re-coding)

"I Love You Ten" is an Adam-ism. Over the summer during a typical 'i love you' 'i love you too' exchange Adam responded with a 'i love you ten.' Cute, but it also demonstrated he understanding of numbers and size. It's now a normal phrase around our house, unless he is angry at you to which you are rated an 'i love you one.' Owen and Monty, incidentally, are currently rated an 'i love you 100.'

First up: this last weekend Adam turned four!! He has grown up so much over the last few months and has become quite a character. He's always happy and goofy. His not-getting-his-own-way tantrums have started to decrease and he always wants to play with Owen - even waking him up early in the morning to play (which we wish he'd stop doing).

He wanted a Speed Racer themed party and that's what he got. We had it at the usual place and Adam had NINE friends at his party. Five of which were new friends from school, the rest were older friends from the neighborhood.

Adam has started going to school full days at Montessori in the same class that Owen had. Since Montessori has mixed ages in the class many of the older kids were classmates of Owen's last year. On the very first day Adam made a new friend, a boy named Ethan, and the two are practically inseparable (which isn't always a good thing we hear). He absolutely loves going to school every day, loves having to wear a uniform (see photo section), and loves being a 'big boy'. And his teachers adore him as well. They've watched him grow up from all the times I've picked Owen up at school. The only real problem is that he's always tired and hungry by the end of the school day which makes evening time a challenge.

Owen is doing very well in First Grade. Academically he is ahead of much of his class. His teacher told us in the several years she's been teaching First Grade she's never given a student an "Exceed" mark in the 1st quarter for math. In reading, First Graders are expected to read at a level C, but Owen reads at a level I or J. (there is no official scale for these levels, but you can imagine what the level of reading is from those letters). He is very interested in Science.

The challenges have been with Owen's behavior and attention during school. This was enough of a concern of ours that we scheduled a meeting with his teacher several weeks before the Parent-Teacher conference. Essentially we told her about Owen and how he works. He is very competitive and since they seem to encourage kids with some sort of reward system, he discussed alternates that would resonate with him. While most kids wanted the candy and junk toys, Owen wanted more learning chances. Since this meeting his work has improved and he isn't bringing home incomplete work any more.

I noted above that Owen is competitive and he absolutely is. This is clearly demonstrated by the sudden acceleration in his soccer playing skills. When he started playing soccer he seemed more interested in just running up and down the field. This year the whole concept of the game clicked with him and now he is considered one of the top players on the team.

He is also keenly interested in sports of all kinds. Earlier this summer, when the Olympics was on, Owen took advantage of every chance he found to watch it - no matter what the sport (tho he was mostly interested in volleyball having just learned how to play at summer camp). He even built an Olympic swimming pool out of Legos.

Over the summer we returned to the Wisconsin Dells for a longer visit. It didn't go as well as last time - the boys completely misbehaved the entire time. Adam, however, demonstrated that he's clearly the daredevil of the two. On the first day we went to Noah's Ark Waterpark. We spent the entire morning trying to convince the kids to play and go down the slides, but they were having none of it. By the afternoon, however, we found a few slides they had no problem going on and we did... again and again and again and again... I took Owen on one first and when we reached the bottom Adam said he wanted to go. I was a little concerned about this but I took him anyway. He absolutely loved it and laughed and giggled the entire way down. Owen got a little annoyed that Adam always wanted to go down the faster slide, while Owen himself preferred the slower slide.

Halloween passed as well and this year Owen dressed as a Star Wars Storm Trooper, while Adam surprised us by asking to be Superman, rather than Speed Racer. Seeing as Owen was Superman when he was four we already had a costume!

Adam has been in physical therapy for his legs. He was a late walker and as such his legs did not develop the muscle tone they should have. We had him in therapy last year but it didn't go very well. The therapist was unengaged and the exercises weren't interesting. Also, the other patients in the waiting room were much worse cases, and sometimes this frightened Adam.

Things got better in the Spring when we insisted Adam learn to pedal his bikes. This helped his legs develop better and he isn't as clumsy in his walking as he used to be. We decided to send him back the physical therapy and went with a different plan. His new therapist is doing a much better job. Since he is at the local hospital for his sessions the patients in the waiting room are elderly and everyone delights when Adam bursts into the waiting room full of energy and excitement.


8.11.08 - The Tooth Fairy Cometh - Day 2353 / 1377

(we've been using front page to prepare this website for six years. now no one supports it. so until i redo every page here the site will look funny. everything should be here, it just won't look so pretty)

We really intended to update this a month ago but... well.

Not long after the last update Adam graduated from his preschool and Owen graduated from Kindergarten / Montessori! At Adam's school the end of year party was held at a park and each child was given a special award. Adam's declared him a Future Train Engineer. He's not all that into the train sets anymore, but we're not surprised by this. Next year he will be going to Owen's Montessori school, and will even have the same teacher. We'll be putting him in full time because we've noticed the children going full time seemed a little bit more advanced in some things than Owen was. Meanwhile, Owen had an end of year concert where each of the kindergarten classes performed for the parents. You can see a clip in the video section.

We've kept the boys busy over the summer. Both have been in Summer Camp nearly every morning at Adam's old preschool. Additionally, Owen attended Safety Town - hosted by the local police department - Safety Town teaches 5-7 year olds all about safety. How to act if there's a fire, how to call 911, household items that may look like another edible item that can really be poisonous, etc. They even have built a miniature town where the kids drive around in little cars learning about traffic signals and the 'rules of the road', with hopefully not too much road rage.

We took the boys to a local amusement park called Kiddieland. It's geared for kids under ten so all the rides, apart from a few for the older kids, were all the gentle kiddie rides. We figured we'd be there a couple of hours but wound up staying nearly the entire day! We would have stayed longer but Adam was getting grumpy and hungry. There was one particular ride that Adam went on a dozen times or more. And every time he went on it he HAD to ride the same yellow and black car. (he'll tell you blue is his favorite color, but he will go for yellow every time. The car also reminded him of Racer X's car from Speed Racer which is his favorite character of the Speed Racer tv show - which has been VERY big in our house since last April). If he saw another kid in this car he got very upset! Owen got to ride his very first Big Kid ride - the Pirate Ship Ride! Mom watched from the ground and reports that Owen was looking very unsure during the entire ride, and he was very quiet during it. When it slowed down he told me he felt like he was going to fall off. I turned this into a science lesson for him and explained gravity (which he knows something about already) and he felt better about the whole thing. And when we rejoined Mom he yelled out "I wanna go on it AGAIN!!"

And finally, the tooth that had been hanging on by a thread in Owen's mouth finally fell out after nearly two months! He was very excited and proud of this. His adult tooth was all but fully grown by the time it came out! We told him that night we'd put it under his pillow for the tooth fairy and maybe she'll come and give him some money for it. Well the tooth fairy came that night and boy was she in a bad mood. The weather got very bad as we neared bedtime. The skies grew dark and frightening. As the wind began to pick up we went outside to secure some of the lighter items in the yard. Almost instantly everything on the deck started sliding around, the grill even fell over. I ordered everyone into the basement while I made sure our glass table was sorta safe then headed down myself. We found out the next day that a tornado touched down about a half a mile from us while I was outside! It was a small tornado but, still, 100 homes were damaged, 25 severe. Just our grill needs to be replaced so we got off lucky. After the warning passed we enjoyed a spectacular lightning show for the next hour. Owen got five bucks.

- New pics!
- Two new videos!


5.12.08 - Balancing - Day 2262 / 1286

Big few weeks it's been! Shortly after Owen's birthday we decided to take Adam (and Monty) out for a walk, but insisted that Adam ride one of his tricycles. Why? Because last summer he flat out refused to use the pedals. He would only push himself along with his toes, which completely demolished his shoes! We knew it would be a struggle but we also knew that by the end of it he would be using his pedals. And he was! Little did we expect it'd take nearly an hour to walk around the block, tho.

Up next was Owen. We tried, briefly, to get him to ride his bike without training wheels last summer but none of us was feeling it so we didn't press it. When I told him recently we were going to try again he was afraid. I told him that, yes, he was probably going to fall but he'd have on his helmet, a jacket, gloves for his hands and all that was only if I couldn't catch him in time. Eventually he gave in. And he was doing it on his first try! He didn't go far, but he went much farther than I expected, and I let go of him long before I told him I did. By midweek he was racing up and down the sidewalk, turning in people's driveways like he's been doing it for ages.

The Proclaimers were in town recently to do a concert (you'll know them from their enormous hit song some years back). Last time we saw them, about 2.5 years ago, they invited us to bring Owen and Adam to the sound check the next time they played Chicago (knowing the boys loved their music). And we did! We all had a great time and enjoyed a private mini concert. Adam drummed on the bar and sang along while Owen and I danced around. They were even allowed on stage to play the real drums! Later that night, at the proper concert, they dedicated a song to all four of us by name.

Owen is doing great in his reading. He loses confidence occasionally (this seems to be an issue with him for a number of things) but he never regresses. He has also started drawing more often. It seems there was a kid in his class who was really good at drawing and would laugh at Owen's work. This, too, shook his confidence and he would refuse to draw. Yvonne showed him a few things, such as how to draw a tree, and he was off and running. He also writes stories. They're short little one or two sentence things, but he spells everything out himself (to sometimes riotous and clever results).

Meanwhile, Owen seems to finally have a loose tooth! He is very proud and excited. Several kids in his class have already lost teeth. (personally, Y and I are not looking forward to having to deal with those things coming out. neither of us dealt with it very well as kids)

Adam continues to grow and change into a big boy. It seems every couple of days you look at him and he's a little bit different. Physically he's getting huge! At three he's wearing four year old clothes and is nearly as tall as Owen is. He has recently started Cookery classes - just like Owen loved when he was this age. He seems more interested in cooking than the eating, tho. Recently he and Yvonne were picking up Owen from Montessori and Adam began reading numbers off the artwork on the walls. A passing teacher stopped and registered her surprise. He has also begun attempting to write his name.

Both boys recently had a Mommy and Me Day - on the same day! At Adam's school the children prepared a snack for all the moms themselves, and performed a number of songs. This time he wasn't shy at all and sang his little heart out.

Meanwhile, over at Owen's school, Owen demonstrated 'egg preparation' (peeling a hard boiled egg, using an egg slicer, and placing a slice on RITZ crackers and serving to the class); reading " Go Dog Go" (a book that's, frankly, far beneath him), Four Long Chain (see last entry's discussion on Five Long Chain).

Finally, the boys have really started to enjoy each other's company. They play together more often and there is, occasionally, less fighting. In the mornings especially. When Owen wakes up he'll go into Adam's room and the two will play Legos or race cars together (Owen's floor being far too messy with bits of Lego every where possible!)

- TONS of new Art Club!
- New Photos
- New video of the boys enjoying the Proclaimers, and playing the drums!


3.2.08 - Owen Turns Six!! - Day 2191 / 1215

Owen turned six today! Every day he grows more and more mature. He and Adam still fight and argue but he also tries to help Adam with things Adam is having trouble with. (Adam is not always open to such assistance, however...) Even in regards to Monty -- last year, when Monty was very sick and in the animal hospital Owen couldn't have cared less. Now, after Monty's birthday, Owen expressed concern at how old Monty was getting and that he didn't want to lose him.

Lego continues to be the Favorite Toy in the house. Owen got a ton of it for Christmas. In the weeks leading up to Christmas I made him rebuild all the Lego models we've bought for him (he usually dismantles them within a few days, if not hours). This was designed to give him more Lego toys to play with the new sets he was going to get. But it surprisingly opened a door of creativity in him. The models he constructed out of the left over parts were much more intricately designed than the stuff he would build a few weeks before. You can clearly see design elements he picked up building the various models in quick succession.

He is doing fantastic in his reading! We've started him on the Now I'm Reading series. He is now cruising his way through the fourth series of books. When he completes this he will be on the Independent Reading level (and he's very excited about it). Recently he grabbed a book from the bookcase in his room and nearly read the entire thing! He only had trouble with the larger words like "wonderful". According to his recent Parent / Teacher conference at Montessori he is just short of learning all the First Grade level Sight Words - far beyond what most of the kids in his Kindergarten class are doing.

Speaking of Kindergarten; we are continually growing more disappointed in what we are hearing and seeing coming from his class. His teacher has been absent 15% of the school year. It's gotten to the point where Owen, and apparently the other kids as well, enjoy the substitute teacher more. They don't sing as much or listen to the teacher read stories as much with the substitute, Owen tells us. At the beginning of the school year it was impressed upon us by the principal that this teacher was the best they had. We'll be complaining to the school board at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, over at Montessori we had our annual Daddy and Me Day where the Daddies come in and the kids show off some of their favorite activities. Owen showed me the Five Long Chain (these come in various denominations and help the kids count in multiples), a complicated 3D puzzle, and the Sum Swamp math game (tho we didn't have time for that) which he loves. There are three dice (two numbered, one marked with + or -. The kids add or subtract the two numbers and it determines how many spaces they advance or move backwards on the board.

We're not sure how it snuck up on us but Adam has become so grown up! All of a sudden he is walking and talking, having conversations and explaining things... Just the other day he was playing with a Lego spaceship Owen had built and shouted out very rapidly "10, 9, 8, 7, 654321 BLAST OFF!!"

He still loves going to school and is doing very well. Each school day they study a letter in the alphabet. Now Adam knows every letter they've covered on sight. That's pretty good compared to the number of letters kids are expected to know as they enter kindergarten. He tries to read everything he sees now.

Adam's school held two Winter productions - the first was more of a Christmas party at which all the kids performed. Except Adam, that is. For some reason he got upset and sat down with a grumpy look on his face. Perhaps he couldn't find us. After a while, however, he joined in. The second was a proper Winter Pageant and he participated fully in that one.

We've decided to put Adam in Montessori next year for the full day. With Owen in 1st Grade, and Adam in school all day we will finally have no kids in the house which will, hopefully, relax our schedule and allow us to get more things done. We're not sure how he will take to going from mornings twice a week to all day all week. He will more than likely be in the same class that Owen is in now. So he will know the teachers and the teachers all know him.

Finally - Apparently the funniest thing to small children is the word "mister." They probably got this from me ("Look here, mister!"). It's Mister This and Mister That. Mister Dump Truck. Mister Lego. Mister Spoon. Mister Staircase. Anything those two can think of they'll stick Mister in front of and laugh hysterically.

Added -
- Four pages of new pictures!
- Moved 2007 entries to top menu bar.