News 2010

11.09.10 - ...and six months after that - Day 3173 / 2197

...and just like that Summer is over. And I look back at the web site and see where I left off and it's six months again!

MAY - We drove Owen out to the small town of Normal, IL for his Young Authors Conference. The event took most of the day. We arrived at the University and located the group Owen was in with and the rest of us headed off to see what there is to see in Normal. Answer: not a whole heck of a lot. And the rain didn't help much either. Later we went back and watched the presentation where Owen received a certificate of participation (at the reading of the title, Superbowl Forever, there was a murmur of approval from the dad's in the audience) and an autographed copy of the guest author's book ("Henry and the Crazed Chicken Pirates"). He made some friends and had a lot of fun there.

We took our time heading home, stopping off at the Route 66 Museum and Veteran's Museum on the way. Of course all Owen cared about were the guns and seemed to think that everyone who ever goes into the military gets killed.

Later in the month we went to a Lego show up near St Charles. This was at a Historical Society where a history of the Boy Scouts was on display. Owen seems to also think everyone who was in the Boy Scouts was killed as well.

JUNE means the end of school!

Adam lost his first two teeth this month!! The first was while he was at summer camp, and the second was while he was out shopping with mom. We have a pill container that we put the teeth in for under the pillow. Adam was very meticulous in making sure the container was easily accessible, and definitely under his pillow for the tooth fairy.

We treated the boys to their first trip to Six Flags Great America. It'd been around 20 years since I'd last been there and it's changed quite a bit but it was good to see some old favorites still lurking about. We did have some issues getting the boys on rides. I was forced to resort to not telling them what the ride we were going on actually did. I started the day off with taking them on the Demon - a classic and my personal first roller coaster. Let's just say the ride isn't as smooth as it used to be. We got slammed around quite a bit on it much to the displeasure of both the kids. Owen later said he didn't mind that it was a roller coaster, nor the surprise loops, but he hated how rough it was. At the end of the day I managed to get him to go on the Dark Knight roller coaster and THAT was a mistake. It was quite frightening and intense for Owen - an indoor, in-the-dark roller coaster.

The highlight of the day, however, was riding our old friend The Little Dipper from Kiddieland! Kiddieland closed last summer but Six Flags bought the rollercoaster and gave it some minor upgrades and we had fun riding it again.

Of note: we were waiting to ride the self-driving cars when around the corner came two guys dressed as the Blues Brothers and completely in character. They were performing locally for the movie's 30th Anniversary and Owen had just recently got some Blues Brothers education.

A week later we had a treat for the boys - Lego's BrickWorld convention! Four conference rooms packed with some amazing Lego creations from builders from all over the country. Adam was fascinated by the giant remote control robot Lego chess set.

JULY was vacation time and we all headed off to the UK. We spent some time in Sunderland(first time back since Adam was a baby). Owen got to see his first live soccer match - a pre season friendly of Sunderland vs Darlington, and a few days later we took Owen on a tour of Sunderland's Stadium of Light. Owen was given autographed photos of two of his favorite players - Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones (who has since been sold by the club to another team).

Then we ALL headed down to London for a few days, where amongst other things, we took a sightseeing tour (we had watched the UK's Junior Apprentice with Owen just before we left and he enjoyed seeing some familiar sights from the tv show) and later the same day Grandma and Grandpa took the boys to see the London production of Oliver. They were both enthralled but it was a very long day for them and they only just made it though the show.

AUGUST was a busy month as well with Owen starting his travelling soccer team! Earlier in the summer we decided he was ready to get out of the in house/recreational team and he tried out for the travelling team. Instead of playing all local teams within the soccer club he now represents the club at U-9 level and has games all over the area. Some games are as far as nearly 30 miles away.

The season started with a seeding tournament to determine what teams get matched with whom. Six games in two days, in 80-90 degrees, and it didn't go very well at all. Training for this was more along the lines of conditioning rather than coming together as a team and as a result they lost five of the matches, and winning only one.

A few weeks later, however, there was the local tournament and Owen's team won two of the three games, with the third being a tie (against a dirty playing team - having an extra player on the field until they were caught, and having a habit of kicking the ball out of bounds whenever possible).

They've had two more proper games since that - winning one and drawing on the other. One of the teams they lost to at the seeding tournament they played at the local tournament and in a normal game and they beat them both times.

SEPTEMBER brings us a new school year. Owen is starting third grade and Adam is starting Kindergarten.

As mentioned previously we decided to pull Adam from Montessori for kindergarten because we wanted to do as we did for Owen - Montessori in the morning, public school in the afternoon. However Montessori wouldn't allow us to do this again so we pulled him completely. Right now he is only attending mornings and he is enjoying it. It's very different for him. He's not used to all the commotion around him after several years of peaceful, quiet, subdued Montessori ways.

OCTOBER and NOVEMBER : We had our parent/teacher conferences for each of the boys. Much easier now that they are at the same school. Adam's teacher commented that she likes to call on him because he always takes the lesson into interesting directions. He might make a comment that wasn't where she was heading but still connected to the lesson... somehow. Owen has been placed in the top reading group for his class. He's doing quite well this year, with his only issue being in the area of Ideas. That is, having to explain himself in his writings. He tends to do the minimal writing when giving an answer.

Owen's travelling soccer season came to a close at the end of October. They had a great season, losing only one game. The final standings finally came out and, for his division, Owen's team came out in FIRST PLACE! After the final game Owen's coach came over to tell him he's the player who has improved the most over the course of the season. Indeed. By the end of the season Owen was right in there and came close a number of times to scoring a goal, a feat which, in the end, eluded him. But it's just a few short weeks off before the winter/indoor soccer season begins... although they are still doing their once a week 3 mile run!

For Halloween this year Owen shunned the superheroes and Star Wars characters and instead requested to be a zombie. And Adam, once again, decided he wanted to wear one of Owen's old costumes - a Star Wars Clone Trooper. Mom tried to get him to wear the Batman costume but he wasn't having it.

And, finally, our Adam turned SIX! He got to have a birthday celebration at school, then came home to open his presents. The following weekend was his birthday party and we decided to have it someplace new, a place called Jump Zone. It's really just a big room filled with inflatable slides and bounce houses but he and his friends had a ball. And a number of Adam's friends wound up having older brothers who knew Owen so they came too and Owen had friends to play with.

About 90% of Adam's gifts this year were of the Lego variety and every time he opened another one you could see the disappointment and jealousy in Owen's eyes...

- Seven pages of photos! (dated 10.23 and 11.09)
- Updated Monty's page
- Adam Art Club (1 image)


05.01.10 -Six Months Later... - Day 2981 / 2005

Well. Six months! I had fully intended to do more frequent yet smaller updates but as the boys get older free time to sit in front of the computer (and actually be able to concentrate on something) gets shorter and shorter! And, frankly, not a whole lot happens over the course of four weeks to warrant an update.

So let's pick up where we left off:

November means Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving means the circus is in town! As soon as Adam heard the circus was coming he knew he was going because we go every year and immediately he said he wanted one of those light up toys that they sell at these things. He wanted one last year but we said no. This year we gave in and he was ridiculously happy when the vendor handed it to him. I'm writing this five months later and he still plays with it.

December comes and with it comes Uncle Mike from England. And it doesn't matter how cold it is outside Owen was determined to take him to the park to play soccer. December also means winter concerts at the schools. Both were exercises in patience for us. Owen goofed with his friends throughout his, and, Adam, well... Adam's took place at the high school auditorium. As soon as Adam walked out on stage and he saw the packed house full of people he went into full Clown mode. He started posing and hamming it up which amused the audience and only encouraged him more. Then, just before the class was about to sing their first song the lights in the auditorium went out! At first we figured it was a mistake, but once we saw the glow-in-the-dark t-shirts we realized it was intentional. In fact two of the three songs they sang were performed in the dark - absolutely useless for photos or video.

December also brings Christmas and one of the things we got Owen was tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters. This was Owen's first live 'sport' event and he wasn't really sure what to expect. He'd seen the Globetrotters on tv in the past but he didn't remember it. While he was unsure before the game, once the Globetrotters came out and started their Magic Circle warm-up he was wow-ing and laughing along. Afterwards we got some autographs, including legend Curly Neal, a player from the 70s. While Adam got a lot of gifts as well, probably the best part of Christmas for him wasn't even a present - it was going to see Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel! Adam has been a Chipmunk fanatic for over a year. For at least seven months the only cd he listened to in his room was the Chipmunks' Christmas album. Earlier in the year, when we saw the trailer in the theater Adam sat there with a look of pure disbelief.

January was uneventful. The boys (finally!) returned to school after an exhausting winter break.

February: At the start of the school year Owen participated in his school's Young Authors program in which all students are encouraged to write their own book. As football season was starting up around this time Owen chose for his subject matter the Super Bowl and the never-ending rivalry between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. It was this month when we got the news that Owen's book, Super Bowl Forever!, was chosen to represent his school's second grade at the State conference in May! Everyone around him was excited and congratulated him on this honor, but he's not really sure what it means.

February was also Dad and Me day at Adam's school. This brought another frustrating performance from the class. The dad's were ushered in to the class room as the class was singing a song. Adam's teacher announced the kids were just warming up so we all got settled in and I set up my camera. The kids sang a couple of song and suddenly each child's name was called out so they could show their dad what they do all day. There was no introduction or dialog from the teacher. We were all a bit confused. Again. Adam demonstrated word building (where they are given an object and have to spell it out with cardboard letters. Each object has a specific word sound - like 'oy' in toy). He also demonstrated a giant world map puzzle that he likes to do. He's also been working very hard tracing each piece and making a giant world map.

March: Owen turned 8! Once again Owen passed on the idea of having a birthday party. Since he was off school the day before (while Adam wasn't) we treated Owen to two of his favorite things - we took him out for breakfast, and then bowling! On his actual birthday we took the boys to their favorite restaurant Red Robin.

In April we took the boys to the Museum of Science and Industry, primarily to take Owen to see his first IMAX film: Hubble.

Both the boys have been taking Young Artist classes at school. Adam seems to really be into it. While the work he brings home are mostly well done, it's his drawings he's doing at home which are really impressive. Unfortunately most of them are done on dry erase boards (the latest fad in the house) and if I don't take a picture right away they disappear forever. Owen is taking Young Artists classes as well for the second year in a row. In the past he's never shown a lot of interest in drawing but this is the year of Diary of a Wimpy Kid - a book series that all the kids are into right now. The book contains a number of cartoonish drawings that Owen started imitating, and then transformed into doing his own stuff.

Adam has also started taking chess classes at school. He's really enjoying it, even though he gets some of the pieces movements wrong.

Both boys, at nearly the same time, have completely gotten into reading. Owen can usually be found reading in his bed a good hour after bedtime and goes through several books a week. Adam is only halfway through his last set of Now I'm Reading books, but I don't think we'll bother finishing them. He, too, has started reading heavily on his own and just recently started reading through the Henry and Mudge series of books - a series Owen was reading in first grade! There has been discussions on if we should, or could, see if we could get Adam straight into first grade but his maturity isn't there. He still goes into crying fits when something doesn't go his way, or if he believes something to be true that isn't.

Other items of note: Soccer season started! Owen is now on one of the more advanced teams and a few more rules have been added to his games. He loves soccer but he's still a little afraid to go after the ball vigorously. Adam's in soccer as well but isn't nearly as interested. He spends most of his games goofing off and not paying attention to what's going on.

Finally, after almost a year, we've nearly cured Owen of his nail biting. We put little pieces of paper tape on his nails after school. When he'd stick his fingers in his mouth the tape reminded him and he took them out. He still gets at them occasionally but we actually get to cut them now.

- Five pages of photos!
- Adam's Art Club!
- Read Owen's book Super Bowl Forever! here (pdf)
- New video! (Adam Sings Christmas)