Friday, April 16, 2010

When time disappears it's because we're having fun.

That's what I keep telling myself!

I actually need to go back through my iCal and FB entries to figure out what the heck we've been doing to make the past couple weeks disappear. Well, we saw "How to Train Your Dragon," Katherine participated in Living Stations, there was a trip downtown (reminder: never ever go downtown when the Cherry Blossom Festival is going on... madness, I tell you, madness. OK not madness but), our Easter with our egg hunt, Rebecca started her caking class, and I still need to show you the photos from the HSM show, but mostly it's been a lot of homework on my end and cleaning house. FlyLady is now back on my schedule.

First things first though, Jonathon has been released from Speech Therapy! Yay! He has successfully added the "r" sound to the end of his words enough that now it's simply practice and catching him when he misses it. We can do that. For as much influence as we parents have, our day-to-day interactions and nit-picking can sometimes be less helpful. We've all had that infuriating thought "Why are my kids so much better behaved when someone else is in charge?" Well, it applies to other areas too. When Rebecca was little, she didn't like to read. Reading was hard, therefore it was no fun and she never read for pleasure to herself. By the time we came to Arlington Science Focus in 2005, she was half way through 1st grade and reading at a beginning K level. Her teacher (Ms. Riverson, awesome teacher) picked up on it right away and within a couple weeks we had a meeting to discuss Rebecca getting one-on-one reading help several times a week before school. I felt such a sense of relief, because no matter how hard I'd tried to get Rebecca reading on her own, she refused. Having a reading tutor made the difference. Within a couple months, Becca was more sure of herself and was decoding better, and was learning to enjoy reading for the sake of reading. By the end of the school year she was at grade level.
A year later when we were posted to Togo, I wrote an e-mail to both Ms. Riverson and the tutor thanking them for making such a difference in Rebecca's life. She was finally reading just above grade level and though she wasn't reading a ton by herself (that came a few years later with, of all books, Twilight) she enjoyed herself when she did. With that, she's excelling in all her classes. Reading is still a challenge to her, I can hear it when she reads aloud, but she learned that it was a challenge worth taking.
To the same end, Jonathon was pegged right off by his teacher this year for his speech troubles, notably the lack of the ending "r" sounds. I knew he had troubles, he knew he had issues, but at AISC there was no speech therapy option at the school or outside the school. Actually, I never checked outside the school, because I didn't think having him trained to speak correctly could be achieved by a South Indian speaking English. I still hold to that. It can be an adorable accent, as we heard when a friend's daughter gave a little speech in her Indian preschool class, but it's not what I wanted for specifically fixing an American speech problem. Jonathon started pull-outs with Ms. Ware in October, and now he's worked on it well enough he's back in class full-time. Phew. Add to that he's been recommended for Signet next year. It's all good.
What have we been up to? Spring Break went so swimmingly we were all sad to see it go. Except for the heat pump dying, nothing else has gone amiss. Now that I've said that.... perhaps I should toss some salt over a shoulder and avoid black cats crossing my path. Which is hard when you have 2 black cats in the house.
We saw "How to Train Your Dragon" which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. The soundtrack rocked (check it out, someone put the whole thing track by track on youtube... try it here.), the story was sweet, and it wasn't in 3D. Thank goodness, because we're already tired of 3D. Never managed to see "Alice in Wonderland" I guess that'll wait until it comes out on Netflix. But "Dragon" was a touching story and one well worth seeing again.
The second half of Spring Break included the Easter Triduum and Katherine had several rehearsals and then the performance of the Living Stations at church on Good Friday. The teens at church perform each of the Stations while a narrator tells what's going on and the youth choir sings. It was a beautiful program and I look forward to my girls participating again next year.
Saturday was simply gorgeous, as it should have been being cherry blossom time. Our tree burst into a bright pink poof...
Up the cherry tree
... which is now raining down upon us as thick as a snowstorm, but I'll take a carpet of pink over 2 feet of snow any day. We made our way downtown with one of Katherine's friends tagging along so the two girls could go to an Anime workshop at the Sackler Gallery.
4/3/10 - We took the kids downtownWe left the girls for the class and walked the rest of the kids to the Hirshhorn where I handed Jonathon the camera.
4/3/10 Smithsonia Magnolia 4/3/10 - Downtown 4/3/10 - Hirshhorn - Weebles wobble but they don't fall down
4/3/10 - Hirshhorn - I think it was titled "horse" 4/3/10 - Hirshhorn - the only piece Rebecca thought even slightly worthy of being called "art"
Modern art isn't our usual fare so it was interesting to see what the kids thought the pieces were supposed to be.
I took some photos too, though I think Jonathon's turned out better.
4/3/10 - Hirshhorn, the piece Becca said looked like a 2nd grader's work 4/3/10 - Hirshhorn "Red Yellow Blue" 4/3/10 - Hirshhorn refracting glass
It was fun and I do wish we'd gone to the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms, but the crowds were thick and no one was seriously into it but me. After the disappointment at the cherry blossom Curbside Cupcake truck, it's really no surprise we were ready to depart. DC really is best experienced anytime outside the Cherry Blossom through Labor Day season when it's cooler and freed from tourist stampedes. Rebecca said she really didn't like tourists, even when she was one. I concur.
Easter morning and off to church we went.
4/4/10 Easter Sunday!
Those are my babies. Please don't tell me how big they look.
We had lunch at my parents' house, a feast of ham with all the trimmings...
4/4/10 - My parents lay a gorgeous Easter table
...and an egg hunt.
4/4/10 - Easter Sunday egg hunt at grandma's house 4/4/10 - Jonathon opens his egg booty
Afterwards the kids were stuffed:
4/4/10 - The kids are stuffed with Easter ham
Periodically we try to get photos of the kids with the grandparents, so here is this year's:
4/4/10 - Easter with the grandparents.
Did I say we were stuffed? There's always room for cake. Becca made ours this year.
4/3/10 - Rebecca takes on making an Easter cake... 4/4/10 - Easter Sunday - finishing the cake 4/4/10 - Rebecca tries to protect her cake.
Sufficiently satiated, we returned home to have our own egg hunt. Each year we've done it by equal numbers of color-coded eggs. If they see an egg not of their color they leave it. What inevitably happens is Ian and I hide them willy nilly and then a couple are never seen again. What also inevitably happens is they'll find their eggs and then ask for another hunt. And another. And another. This year we decided to drag the whole thing out by cyphering their clues. Each kid had 10 eggs to find, each egg had a clue. But before they could start they had to figure out what their cypher even meant.
For Jonathon we did a substitution cypher. 1=A, 2=B, 3=C, etc. For Nicholas, a Caesar shift. A=D, B=E, C=F, etc. For Rebecca, a random cypher figured out by frequency. Katherine started with a substitution cypher for the first five clues. A=52, B=50, C=48, etc. For the next five she also had a random cypher figured out by frequency.
To start them all off, they each got a clue that had the same message but in their own cypher, and if they worked together they had an easier time to figure out what it said. Once they figured out the message they could then work on figuring out their own pattern. It took Rebecca the longest as hers was the hardest to start.
Once they could figure the words, then they had to figure the clues. The boys' were probably too easy, like "mail time" lead them to the mailbox, while the girls got "life is a highway" to bring them outside to the driveway or the car. Or "rubber ducky you're the one" to go to the bathtub. Or "I prefer them mismatched" led to the sock basket.
4/4/10 - Egg Hunt '10 clues.
So I mentioned Becca made the Easter cake. She's really into caking. She likes watching the cake shows on TV (Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes, Amazing Wedding Cakes, Gee I Wish Everyone Were Made of Cake...) so we signed her up for Cake Decorating 101 at our Joann's craft store. It's 4 classes, a couple hours each. Class #1 was basically all about the supplies she needs. For a $25 class fee I think we've spent nearly $100 on supplies. For class #2 she had to bring in a baked cake already frosted. They practiced some decorating methods and here is her first completed assignment:
Rebecca's first cake decorating class cake.
Next week she's to bring in cupcakes and they'll learn how to make flowers with stiff frosting. She's excited but she's also a touch overwhelmed. None of us had any clue all that cake decorating involved. All I can say is thank goodness for box cake mixes. They may not be the best tasting, but they are quick and easy to offset all the time she spends working on the frosting and decorating.
I'll end this post with a cute photo Katherine took of Jonathon. They were outside with the bubble machine.
Jonathon and Bubbles

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