Tuesday, October 26, 2010

LEGO Grand Opening

Matt learned of a LEGO event happening this past weekend at a mall in nearby Glendale.  A master LEGO builder was there constructing an 8ft tall Yoda to celebrate the opening of the malls new LEGO store.  The kids had a great time!!

Here’s a shot of the smaller Yoda that appears will be inside the larger 8 ft Yoda.


The instruction sheet to build a 4x brick that is a larger version of the basic small 8 “peg” lego.


Aidan so proud of his block!!


Emma’s block.


Handing the Master LEGO builder our blocks to add to the project.


Their Certificate as a LEGO builder.


Another LEGO creation they loved.  And here’s cutest.best.baby.shopper.ever.


We stepped away from the LEGO event to go into the Disney store.  When we came out the master builder was quizzing the crowd on Star Wars trivia.  Matt TOTALLY could have won…..won a Star Wars Lego kit!  He looked so sad to not be a part of the contest.  My teary Star Wars geek. :)

And one last note.  This is an actually traffic sign on our way to the mall.  If you have to count several times on the sign and then compare based on lines of car beside you to even know which lane you’re in- that’s a bad thing. :) Evidence #34 why I do not drive unless necessary. :)


Monday, October 25, 2010

Mother Daughter Date Night

Emma and I enjoyed a  mother daughter date night Friday after conferences.  She wanted time with just mommy and I jumped at the chance to get away from the boys and have girl time.

She’s a girl after my own heart. Pei Wei lettuce wraps. Yummo.


No girls night is complete without shopping. A quick stop at Target for some…Nutcrackers?!?!?!  Evidence of my children’s crazy obsession.  We do not own a single.nutcracker. I’m not sure where the fascination came from?!?!  Soldiers, Queen, King, teacher, football player, hula girl & rocker oh my!


Her favorite of the night.  Teacher Nutcracker.  She wanted to get it for her teacher Mr. D. :)


No trip complete without a sweet treat.  She ate about half of it before falling asleep.  I drove home to the sound of her sweet little snore.


Where did the time go?  She’s so big.  Having a night out with just her makes me realize how we often overlook and miss chances to connect with Emma b/c of her little brothers.  We had great chats and I hope we can do it more often.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

PT Conferences

The much awaited Parent Teacher conferences finally arrived.  I was not really looking forward to it and have been having lots of anxiety about Emma’s school experience this year.  Here’s the very long winded review of the whole ordeal.  If you want the basics….she’ll stay in school there…no homeschooling and scroll all the way to the end of the post to read Matt’s response.  :)

(For background: Emma started the year with Mrs. B. but with the first grade class growing to 43 students the first week they split the class after only one week of school.  They moved a 6th grade teacher Mr. D down to 1st grade. Wow.  Adjustment.  Emma ended up in his class.  She loves him.  She thinks he is the funniest teacher ever. 

After 3 weeks in his class NOTHING had come home from school.  No communication.  No homework.  No papers.  No busy work.  NOOOOthing.  Finally in late Sept he held an “open house”  for parents to come in to meet him.  I went.  I had tooons of question.  One being the list of 1000 words she came home with.  Second being spelling that she was upset by, claimed she was no good at and that she didn’t win the spelling bee and wasn’t ready for the test.  Yet I had received no info on words to be studying with her.  In the open house he basically said they are studying the sight/attack words – the list of 1000 and working on Geography skills and proud the kids can make an excel spreadsheet and doing money for math. 

Yes Emma can name the continents.  She can explain the continental drift theory.  But mentions nothing of reading, writing, letters, sounds, numbers, math.  Nada.  He said he had been busy assessing students and is having students make skills sheets listing the 1st grade skills that will serve as the children’s list of skills to work on and complete.  So I left the open house then aware of the 25 words PER WEEK that she was to study for spelling and the comfort of knowing a skill sheet would soon be made and brought home to give me a clue.)

So I go to conferences excited to see a binder Emma spoke of with her work in it.  I asked if it was work she had completed and the teacher graded- she said yes.  Since it had been a month since the open house I expected to also see a completed skills sheet to start working on. 

We go to NO binder and NO skills sheet.  A listing of wonderful grades to make any parent proud with no examples of work.  No graded papers.  No visible assessments. Rave reviews of her work and behavior. 

I ask about math.  Still doing money? He then admits he’s done much less math with the kids than he should.

I ask about the now list of 50 spelling words she supposed to be studying.  I explain all the ways we are studying with her (home tests, spellingcity.com, typing or writing words 3xs each, etc) however with NO spelling tests coming home I have NO idea how she is doing, if what we are doing at home is helping her?!?!?!??! He says “Oh, i guess parents are working with the kids and I should maybe send the tests home.” REALLLY!!??

I know her handwriting is poor (she gets it from her daddy :) ).  He says they haven’t done a lot on that and wants to teach the kids how to write their letters like an art form.  He showed us how to chisel a pencil by scribbling it thus the lead slanted and can make beautiful letters. Wow. Thanks.

I asked since writing was her lowest grade (B) if I should be dictating sentences for her to write.  Write sentences about a story etc.  What does she need to improve on? He said sure, but they won’t focus a lot on writing until the kids can make their letters perfectly.  Which if you recall above they haven’t started doing yet!!

It boils down to he and I have different, or varying, well how about POLAR OPPOSITE teaching styles and I am trrrrying hard to respect his said “style”. How are we different?

He: is anti phonics and set on the kids memorized his list of 1000 words. Me: sight words are great and very important, but for decoding phonics and learning phonograms is very helpful.

He: is very laid back in his class environment.  It’s a non-primary feeling classroom.  The kids are allowed to sit with who ever, where ever and I mean where ever as in sit on the table, on chairs on the floor and have the choice whether to wear their shoes and sometimes even take off their socks.  I witnessed his class next to Mrs. B’s class the other day.  Her class walking in line on the sidewalk.  His alllll over the sidewalk, lawn, some in front of him some behind. Chaos. Me: opposite of all listed above. Walk in line.  Sit in your chair (or rug during whole group), socks and shoes on as a safety issue.  First graders are not ready to make the decision on who it is best for them to sit by to facilitate the best learning environment.

He: Kids test kids.  The “smarter” kids that are on higher word lists test the lower kids.  Me: I am the teacher and should administer assessments for 1st graders!!How accurate is an assessment of a 1st grader given by a 1st grader? This ideal of his has created Emma a sense of “I’m not good at ____.” and “I’m not as smart as____”.

He: uses no curriculum.  There is no math “book” or work book. No apparent reading series. No handwriting workbook. Is this an AZ thing or a Mr. D thing? I’m not sure. He does seem to base the skills he’s “doing” off the “big book” from the district.  The 1st grade Outcomes I assume. Me: as a school they need curriculum so the 1st grade students receive the same content.  Presented in different ways perhaps b/c of varying teaching styles, but similar skills at least.

He: refuses to teach whole group lessons.  All things are taught through centers and I guess what you’d call self discovery.  He sees no sense in teaching to the whole group b/c you are over some kids heads and others are bored b/c they already know it. Me: I agree with a whole group lesson it’s hit and miss….but you start with whole group and then supplement for the higher/lower children.  I’m not convinced a 1st grader has the focus/attention to self teach allll day long.  I have a feeling that is why Emma speaks a lot about playing “library” each day.

I feel part of the reason we receive no communication on what they are working on is b/c he really doesn’t know from day to day.  Word lists are pretty consistent, spelling sometimes, little math by his own admission.  Lots of geography, but let’s be honest the continents are something Emma could do now or in 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th grade once she’s learned to read, do basic math, write sentences, etc. Right?

So to conclude all this rambling I have to be honest and perhaps put my tail between my legs.  Saturday AM Emma picks up a book, sits down and reads the entire book to me.  It was not a repetitive rhyming book or even a book we’ve ready often at all.  So, maybe this guy knows something after all?

We are very blessed that Emma is a wonderful student.  She adapts well to her environment.  Has always received rave reviews with her attitude & behavior at school.  Never a problem even once.  To that I am grateful.  I know next year if she were to get a very structured teacher she would simply adapt to that expectation.  However, I’m not sure all her other classmates can do the same. 

So we will hang in there.  Hope to see spelling tests come home.  Work on writing and keep drilling on those sight words.  We are on list 200-299…out of 1000. Ugh.

Oh and BTW Matt’s summary “Yea.  He’s a bit hippy for me.” Six words and one contraction to my thousand(s) words explanation. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Misc junk

- I have TP envy.  I wonder will my toilet paper ever look like it does on TV.  Instead of like this:


If there was a competition on unrolling TP without it tearing Isaac would be the grand champion.  For sure.


- I was the worst daughter-in-law ever.  My in laws came for a visit and I took very few pictures.  Here’s about all I got…

Took them to our fav Mexican place (when I say “fav” I mean good, but NOTHING as good as El Maguey in Winfield)


Papa holding a sleepy baby…Gma in the cropped off background.  The only evidence I have that they were here!  How terrible of me!!

There’s a balloon artist that is there and makes A.mazing balloons for the kids.

Emma got a cat.  Aidan got his love… an airplane which the artist made to go on Aidan’s head.  He witnessed Aidan’s inability to sit still and figured the airplane stood the best chance of survival out of his hands.


Isaac a pumpkin. 


We got our “anti-sun” plan in place while they were here.  My MIL and I found bamboo roman shades (50% off whootwhoot!) and drapery panels to finish out our kitchen/patio doors/hearth room window and protect the children from sunburn while eating breakfast. Pics to follow when complete.

Dwain enjoyed his time watching the boys, eating decadent bologna sandwiches and put to work hanging blinds. :)  He’s such a easy going guy!!

We enjoyed several movies at Matt’s cinema.  The kids modeled their Halloween costumes.  Cleaned the yard a bit.  It was great to have someone from “home” here and I think they enjoyed shaving 20 hours off their travel time by flying in!!


- I’m pretty certain CPS will be investigating me soon. 

To change things up a bit this week at story time we took a seat toward the front of the group.  As the teacher approached the front the crowd  quieted right as Aidan standing beside me stroking Isaac’s cheek says “Ahh…mommy.  I like this baby.  We should keep him” WHAT?!?! Hello the BABY is your BROTHER!!!  Of course I try to loudly explain this fact to the crowd that had now changed their attention to the teacher and made a note to call CPS when story time was over to inspect this woman who is obviously in possession of a child that is not in fact hers and apparently gets rid of children she (or her opinionated 3 yr old) deems “unkeepable”.


- Pacci Boy. 

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Isaac loves one thing in life as much or more than his mommy- his pacci!! On this day he located 3 (which is a miracle b/c we usually can’t find any!) and carried them around in a little box occasionally changing out for a different color.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Unexpectedly Perfect Day

Took advantage of the overcast cooler day, and the fact that Emma had a 1/2 day of school.  Picked her up and headed straight to the park…

Aidan chillin’ in the lawn sprinklers and driving with his cool shades.

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Emma had a “whale” of a time.  Cute lil’ man splashin’ in a puddle.

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Emma trying to teach Aidan how to pump his legs.


He would rather be super man.  Then there’s Ms. Diva.


Aidan the “rock climber”.  Isaac chillin’ with the shades.

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Peek-A-Boo Isaac.  I see you!!


He 1/2 loves swinging, is 1/2 terrified. He melts my heart. And makes me wonder if he’ll grow into his monster sized feet?? :)


Then the fun began.  Emma decided they should roll down the hill. The same girl who hates be be dirty…but you’ll do crazy things when you’re having green grass withdraws.


AHHHHHH! Collision!!!!

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Might better be called Isaac bowling.


Then they decided to roll down the hill and run allllll the way across the grassy area to an orange construction cone. Whew!! It was a long way!


And they’re off…


With Isaac right behind them.


Lots of running on those little legs!!!


The prissy girl, with grass in her hair. :)


But that prissy girl loves her little bubby. :)


**No children were injured or experienced vomiting during the play or rolling-down-the-hill process. Thank heavens!

QT Fun

A few weeks back we attended the annual QT picnic that daddy was in charge of putting on.  Lots of fun…even though we weren’t able to win any prizes :)



Slides that get too hot thus daddy had to save the day:


Dunk tank that daddy was in (but we missed) to help raise $$ for United Way:


Burger, dogs, chicken, 15 gallons of beans made my Matt himself, Bingo games, poker games and lots and lots of prizes.


Didn’t get very good pictures of the event…but we had fun and it was under 90 degrees!! Yeah!

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