Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Reader

Last year at this time we were struggling. Struggling with what to do with Evan and school for this year.

After a lot of talking to friends, teachers and each other and ultimately listening to Evan and where he said he felt comfortable, we made our decision. He moved on to first grade this year and he has done fantastic.The main issues we worried about with him were reading and writing. In all other subjects he was right smack dab where he should be -with reading and writing he really struggled.

His first semester report card showed no evidence of any struggle. He presented me with the best report card I have ever seen one of my kids bring home. They are graded on a point system of one to five. Five means they are meeting expectations consistently and fours are meeting expectations most of the time, all the way down to one which is not meeting expectations. He had all fives except for one four. And he was totally bummed out about the four. I was thrilled with his grades, but a little skeptical, I mean if a kid is all fives right off the bat, where is he to go but down?

At his parent teacher conference his teacher had glowing things to say about him. She showed us writing samples that he did, and I don't think anyone could have wiped the smile off of my face. The difference in his writing in a matter of five months was unbelievable. He went from a paper with basically random letters strewn about it to complete sentences that we could read. We voiced to her our concerns from the previous spring and how we considered holding him back because of the reading and writing. She admitted to us that those subjects were not his strongest areas. He was a slow reader and lacked confidence in his abilities.

In his January report card, his grade in reading had dropped a bit. I was starting to worry a little that he was slipping behind. His teacher suggested that he needed more reading time at home. I tried to think of creative ways to get him reading. He is extremely critical of himself and very sensitive and to tell him that he has to read because he needs help in that area would totally make him shut down. So our reading time at night became the time we worked on it. I would read a book that Hailey picked out. Spencer would read his book and then Evan would read the book he picked, or we would take turns every other page if it had a lot of words. He seemed to like reading to all of us and it didn't seem out of the ordinary since Spencer was doing it as well.

A little over a month ago, something happened. One night after reading our books, he stayed in the bed with me and snuggled up and told me out of the blue that he was a good reader. I asked him if his teacher had told him that? He said "No, I just know that I am." It was like in that moment someone had flipped on a confidence switch in him. I swear I could almost see it.

His confidence started to escalate at the beginning of March - reading month. Each family in the school was sent home a copy of the book "The Indian in the Cupboard" to read aloud as a family each night. Every day the principal would call via the school wide alert system to ask a question about the chapter that was to be read that night. To say my boys loved this would be a gross understatement. This book was one of the highlights of their days. They fought over who got to answer the question and then fought over what the right answer was. They were having a "book club" at ages six and nine! I remember one night after our chapter Evan asked me "How many more chapters are there?" I told him there were four more and why did he want to know? Didn't he like the book? Was he that excited to get it over with? He replied "No! I LOVE the book! I wish it had a hundred more chapters!" By the way, I don't want to spoil the book for anyone that hasn't and wants to read it, but I was so choked up while reading the end of the book. I was trying to pull myself together but I had a huge lump in my throat and tears streaming down my face. I had to take a moment to compose myself and the kids were looking at me like I was insane. Hailey kept climbing onto the couch and patting my shoulder asking me if I was OK. I guess that is why I cried my eyes out at the end of Toy Story 3 - there's just something about kids and their toys.

Another part of reading month was a sort of contest they had at the school to get kids to read books and then have people pledge money to them that they would ultimately donate to buy books for children in Haiti. They called it "Helping Hands for Haiti". Each book you read, you write on a construction paper hand cut out and then it was displayed at the school. If you were not reading chapter books, you could read five smaller books and write them on the fingers to fill up your hand. Evan got really into this. The first night that he told me about the hands, he immediately asked if he could read some books to me. He came down from his room with a pile of them and I dug through until I found some easy readers. He read four books in no time with hardly any hang ups. I told him that he only needed one more book to fill his hand and then he could turn it in. He wanted to read another one. He ran back up to his room and came down with a book that I thought would be way too hard for him. He flew through it. He got stuck a few times, but he read it so much better than I thought he would. I was amazed. He had confidence. He knew he could do it. He gets to a word he doesn't know and I can hear him sounding it out. If the word still doesn't make sense to him, he will change the vowel sound from short to long until he figures it out. He has worked hard to get this far. I am so proud of him.

When I tuck him into bed at night he previously would play with his LEGOS or his Star Wars guys or talk to his dogs. Now he reads. Before when I would suggest that he read books or look at them on his own he would tell me "I don't want to. I can't read". Now he devours books. I will be sitting down on the couch watching TV and he will pop out of his room and yell over the stairs to me what book he just finished. My heart just swells up three sizes like that graphic of the Grinch. I can't say enough how proud I am of him.

He is a reader.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tearing up the track

Last Saturday was the Pinewood Derby. The Daytona 500 of Cub scout events. None of my boys, Trent included, are "car" guys. Spence and Ev like carving out the shape of their car and painting it whatever way they choose, but they are not thinking about aerodynamics or speed. Case in point, Evan made his car into a tank. Tanks aren't necessarily known for being speedy. Needless to say, my boys are in it for fun, not with the intent to win. Which in an event like this, is the way it should be.
Evan after racing his car down the track.
Spencer watching the races.
Spencer's turn to race his car.
Spencer and his car.
When the unimaginable happens, as it did with "Flame Thrower" two years ago, it is pretty sweet and completely genuine. Evan's "Tank Car" won second place in his Tiger division. He was a proud little guy.

Friday, March 18, 2011


It is fifty degrees outside.

There is a lot of this going on: Snow melting. Hallelujah! Don't think we didn't spread it around a little bit to get it to melt even faster. Because we did.

There is some of this going on: Tricycle riding around in the driveway.

There is a little bit of this going on: Playing chalk in the driveway. We are working on writing her name.

There is a lot of this going on: Big smiles as the realization hits that we are finally moving on to the next season.

There is also a lot of this going on: New life. I can see my little plants budding up all over the place. I even got out the Deer Stop and started spraying so they hopefully will not get munched before they have a chance to grow. The other night we saw eleven deer crossing our road and hanging out in our neighbors yard. Crazy.

There is some of this going on: Enjoying the last snow of the year. Hopefully.

There is also a lot of this going on: Tearing down and replacing of drywall.

My builder cousin has been over on our roof and in our house trying to figure out the source of our leak and fix it. They think they have it. I so pray that it is fixed. I know that my little leak and messy-out-of-order house is nothing compared to what is happening in Japan right now. When I am feeling overwhelmed by the chaos and the clutter of this, I take the time to realize how very lucky and blessed I am.

So now I am thinking about paint colors again. As long as we have to paint the wall - we might as well paint it a different color. Right?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

To catch a leprechaun

First you get out your trap that you made the year before and "fix" the top so that a new leprechaun can fall into the trap. Consider it a shame that you don't have the correct shade of green tissue paper and try not to obsess about it too much. I can't get over how cute the ladder is that we made for this thing. Sure we copied it right out of a magazine, but it is just so cute!

Load up the top of the trap with leftover flutterfetti from last year's production of Beauty and the Beast. Maybe I really do save everything. My excuse is that it was still in the hat and I am sticking to it. I told the kids I think next year we should paint some rocks gold.

The kids woke up on the morning of St. Patrick's Day to find the trap in disarray and green footprints leading up to it!

I was so frustrated with Hailey last night I really had second thoughts about the footprints. I wasn't feeling the "good mom" vibe and didn't feel like putting much more effort into anything - let alone leprechaun evidence.

This morning I was reminded why I do what I do. She ran into my bathroom while I was getting ready to come downstairs and was so excited about seeing those green footprints. At one point while they were examining their "treasure" she told me that today was her "best day ever". Sometimes the little things are so worth it. I will remember this morning for a long time.

They might not have caught the leprechaun, but they each got seven gold chocolate coins. A better deal in my opinion, because what in the world would we do with a leprechaun?

Hailey's vow to swear off candy didn't even last a full twenty four hours. She had been to the dentist the day before and had to have three cavities filled. She didn't like it much. She decided that black olives were taking over the spot in her heart that was once reserved for candy.

There is nothing better to wash down chocolate coins than some yummy green milk! Evan was the only kid that would drink it.

I kept telling them to just close their eyes and drink it and they would never know the difference. No luck. Spencer told me he didn't want to drink milk with food coloring because it might not be good for him. Maybe not son, but do you have any idea how many junky things you eat that have food coloring in them? How about your precious Kraft macaroni and fluorescent cheese?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wisdom from the Wee Wee Bug

Today at the store when I let her pick out some ice cream:

Mom: Do you want Chocolate? Mint Chip? Oreo kind? Which?

Hailey: The "hooray" kind.

Mom: The what kind?

Hailey: The "hooray" kind - you know with the confetti in it!

Mom: Candy Confetti? Why is that the "hooray" kind?

Hailey: Because that is what you say when you throw confetti!


When I was walking out the door to take the boys to the Mother-Son night hockey game:

Hailey: Mom! Mom! I need a hug!

As I leaned down to give her a hug she said "Don't ever leave a hug behind"!


While playing on my bed one morning:

Hailey: Mom! Get me off the floor! There are fire ants down here! I think the devil has fire ants! He really does! And they make you on FIRE!


One night during the ever present struggle to get her to bed:

Mom: Hailey, it is time for bed!

Hailey: NO!

Dad: You don't ever tell your Mom or Dad "no"!

Hailey: (In her sweetest voice) No please!


Trying on her new shoes for cousin Mirabel's dance party:

Hailey: At Mira's party I am totally gonna ROCK OUT!


One day while we were driving by the airport:

Hailey: Mom? Have you ever been on a plane?

Mom: Yes.

Hailey: Was I born?

Mom: No.

Hailey: Was I in your belly?

Mom: No, not yet.

Hailey: Oh, you mean I was still with God.


One of Hailey's favorite past times these days is to play "castle". We have played castle at least a hundred and sixty three times in the past week.

I totally cracked up the other day when she made the people of the castle go hunting for the treasure chest that goes with it.

She had the prince and made him say to the other people, "Come on guys - let's go find our cache!"

It was so funny to me how she related the treasure to the treasure hunting aspect of geocaching. Her daddy would be so proud!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


In preschool he scribbled over all of his papers.

Mostly in black crayon.

Now he comes home with this in his backpack.

I am amazed.

Do most almost ten year old boys draw this well? I don't think I could draw this well right now. Maybe I am just biased, but I think he is really good.

Friday, March 4, 2011

New material

Hailey and I went to the craft store today. I love the craft store. I get so inspired walking through the aisles. There are so many cool things that I want to buy, or try to do - it is like brain overload - inspiring and completely overwhelming at the same time.

Today our mission was some fabric. I love looking at fabric. It is soothing to my soul. I know that in the seamstress department, calling me "so so" is a complement. Also a pretty funny pun. But I like to try, and sometimes I even come up with something I am proud of.

Fat quarters. So cheap and endless possibilities. These babies are going to become headbands and camera straps. If you have any requests Da, let me know!

I have another project that I am going to try with these. I love them. I think they look springy and kind of nautical (which makes me think summer) at the same time.

I love looking at my fabric set up in a nice little pile, but actually starting the sewing is going to be the tough part. For one, my dining room where I usually set everything up is still in a Def con 5 disaster state with no timeline in site for normalcy. Heaven forbid I sew at one of the two craft areas that I set up in my house. That would just be too easy.

We had fun at the craft store and didn't go crazy at all. We wound up spending about twenty bucks on the material, some paints and a ceramic paint project for Hailey. I bought full yards of the terry cloth and the two cotton prints. The tutorial I am looking at only calls for 5/8 of a yard. But since I am bad at math and have no idea how to figure out 5/8 of a yard and I lack enough confidence in my sewing abilities to always feel the need for extra - I purchased a full yard of each. That way I will have plenty left to make another "one" when this turns out awesome. Look at my confidence! At least I think I will have enough. See kids - this is where your math works in the real world.

When we left we headed over to the Goodwill because it has been a few weeks and I have been feeling the bargain hunting urge. Mainly because I have a new favorite show -American Pickers. If you have never seen this show, look it up. It is on the history channel. It is about these two guys who travel all over the country looking for antiques and collectibles that they can resell in peoples junk. You would not believe the amount of stuff some of the people they "pick" have. It is a really cool show and I am not even kidding when I say that if makes me want to drive out into the country and start digging through people's barns and out buildings.

We were pretty successful at Goodwill. Some of our "picks" of the day were:
Three pairs of pants for Spencer. The two pairs of cords are Lands End. The cargos are GAP. Eight dollars for the three pairs.

You might think by looking at what I bought today and bought in the past that Spence must have pants coming out of his ears, but that is not the case. That kid is so rough on his pants. I swear they only last a few months at the most before they have holes in the knees. Trent told me that his biggest source of stress during last years school year was trying to find pants for Spencer in the morning. All of his pants had holes - he looked like a cute little hobo boy. So this year, I have made it a point to remedy the pants situation. Not to mention I pick out the kids clothes the night before school and lay them out for them. Just so much easier all around.

I found this dress for Hailey. I am not sure about it. Maybe out of style? I still thought it was cute. It is from the GAP and was two dollars so I figured for that price I would give it a shot.

Black short sleeve Children's Place sweater. Two dollars. I am putty for a short sleeve sweater on a little girl.

Another dress for Hailey that I wasn't sure about. I like the "shirt dress" style of it. I think it will look cute on her.

My favorite "pick" of the day. Old Navy jean jacket. I love the sweater collar on this thing. I am not sure if it is a boys or girls jacket. It was in the girls section. It really doesn't matter either way because I still think she is going to look so cute in this thing. It was four dollars and is in great shape.

In total we spent eighteen dollars at the Goodwill and got some great brand names at super bargain prices. We looked through the "stuff" there, but didn't buy anything. I had a wooden tray in my hands for a while that I put back. Also some wooden memory type block game that seemed kind of cute but maybe too young for my kids. I was trying to think of something else creative to use them for but came up with nothing. I am sure I will regret not purchasing those two things in a couple days when I see something awesome that I could have done with them.