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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Teacher Conference

I went in for the parent-teacher conference on Thursday. It's amazing how Lily's teacher perceives her in contrast to how she is at home. She had some of the same concerns we've seen in that Lily sometimes has trouble staying focused when there are more interesting things to do. She also is a bit sloppy and careless in how she organizes things. These are things we will work on over the summer.

I told Mrs. Slocum about the conversation we heard in the back of the van when Lily was yelling at Noah to take the lettuce off of his jr. bacon cheeseburger. She said that she had not seen that side of Lily but that if she had then "you and I would know each other a lot better." I thought that was pretty funny.

Overall, Mrs. Slocum has really enjoyed having Lily in her class and thinks that she will do just fine in third grade. That's what we expected, but it's always nice to get that validated from someone who sees a lot of her in a different setting.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A New Trick

My class started an hour late tonight, so I got to eat dinner with the family. Neither Amanda nor I felt much like cooking, so I got the Little Caesar's pizza that the kids expected and really wanted, while Amanda prepared salads for us. Dinner was pleasant and uneventful. I left with a promise from both kids that they would take it easy on their mom since she was feeling tired.

Those turned out to be pie crust promises. Lily was very upset when told that she had to go to bed at 8:15 because she wanted to finish a video. Nevermind that she was already up past her bed time. She freaked out anyway.

But what was really remarkable was what happened earlier. Noah acted up a little bit and Amanda sent him to his room. He was unhappy about this, as could be expected. He decided to slam his door when he went to his room. Lily seemed surprised when Amanda told her that he learned that from her. That's not behavior we want emulated.

It has taken a while, but Noah is starting to give us more trouble than he had previously. He's not terrible by any means, but he's not as easy as he was. I think that we're prepared for it though. Hard knocks and all.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter

We had a lovely Resurrection Day celebration at our house, though it was a bit more low-key than usual. Since I kept busy with the kids yesterday I did not do the lamb cake. Since I didn't get the mold out for the cake I forgot about the lamb butter. However, we did have a ham. We had the family over and everyone brought something. It was a bit simpler than usual, but it was still quite good. I think that few missed the lamb cake in favor of the Cheesecake Factory sampler pack I got at Sam's Club.

Lily and Noah got Easter baskets with presents from the dollar store. Noah's favorite was a miniature bowling set, but of course the pins are already scattered. He doesn't seem to mind too much though. Noah still needs to work on his finding skills, but we're getting there. In the afternoon we did a little Easter egg hunt with the kids, though Clark is still a year away from participating. I had not mowed the grass in a while, so the eggs pretty much hid themselves. Noah did a little better with the eggs than the basket.

The good news is that the kids really like ham. This will make things easy for us for a few days. Salty, but easy.

We also started going to a different church for a variety of reasons. I had to do a dump and dash with Noah as he was not happy about going to a new class. Of course, he was all sunshine when we picked him up. Lily would not go to her room, so stayed with us through the service. But Amanda got her wheels turning last night. Lily is now going to go to the class to think about how we should do the kids ministry at our church. We didn't promise her that we would implement any of her ideas, but she is excited about being able to participate. Now she's excited about going to the kids' group.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sew Nice

We had a mellow day on Wednesday, which was just fine after all the excitement of the beach on Monday and our adventures on Tuesday. Grandpa and I took the kids to the park to ride their bikes, but they quickly grew more interested in the game of catch we had going on. We went back to the house to find Amanda and her mom working on some sewing projects. Amanda bought some pants at Goodwill and turned them into either shorts or capris. Since her mom has some pretty good seamstress skills Amanda learned how to do this for herself. They got it done and had good results.

The neat thing is that Lily really got into using the sewing machine. Nana had some scraps of fabric and let Lily sew some lines on them. She made a loop of fabric and has enjoyed playing with that. There was something about the process that really intrigued her. Perhaps it's one more thing for her to add to her list of career aspirations.

The highlight of the day for me was getting ice cream at a the Ice Cream Doctor. The guy who served our ice cream seemed to be in his 50s and was maybe a touch faded from his use of pharmaceuticals over the years. When he saw Jack he immediately said, "Gregory Peck!" Jack was flattered, but not as much when he saw how hard a time this guy had with keeping our orders straight.

Thursday we went back to the beach. That took up most of the day. The great thing about that particular Gulf of Mexico beach is that even when the tide is in Lily can walk about over 100 yards and the water is still no higher than her chest. It's nice not to have to worry much about the kids.

Wild Time

Now that we're back from our trip to Florida I will try to summarize some of our days. Tuesday we went to the Homosassa Wildlife Park. This is actually a Florida State Park now, but it was previously a roadside attraction on US-19. You really have a hard time topping pre-interstate Florida for roadside attractions. This was the home of such celebrities as Flipper and Gentle Ben at one point. Now it is the home of alligators, manatees, and mosquitoes. We arrived just in time to catch the 20 minute boat ride from where we parked to the main park. It was a nice ride, but the mosquitoes were terrible. I think Amanda counted over a dozen that she killed on the way there.

Once we were there we checked out some of the animals, but we really wanted to catch the manatee show. The manatees were fun, but sitting still that long was kind of a mistake. I killed a mosquito on Noah's arm that had already eaten. That was a little bit gross, but at least it paid for its last meal.

Once we finished hearing all about how wonderful manatees are we took the tram back to our car, went to CVS, bought some bug spray that they had helpfully located at the front counter, and then went back for a lovely picnic. We went back into the park to check out what they had to see.

We saw some pretty big gators sunning themselves. We also saw a Florida Panther (not on skates) and various birds. I'd say the highlight of the birds was being within 10 yards of a bunch of bald eagles. Normally you see a bald eagle through binoculars when you're on a kayak or a canoe. This time they were right there. I'm not sure why they couldn't fly, but there they were.

After that we went to the Homosassa Butterfly House. The tour started with a short video that they had produced. It was a really beautiful video explaining the life-cycle of the butterfly. I noticed that they used the word "designed" to describe how caterpillars work and found that intriguing in contrast with the language used by the manatee park ranger. Lily corrected their use of "feeding tube" with "proboscis." Lily has a general dislike for bugs, but she is all about the butterflies. The highlight for Lily is that they let her release a butterfly into the habitat that they have set up for them. It was really neat, but Noah was pretty disinterested.

We ended the day with a visit with Amanda's grandma and dinner at her aunt and uncle's house. The kids got to take another dip in the pool, which of course they enjoyed. It ended up being a really nice day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brave Girl

We've had a nice visit so far here in Florida with Grandpa and Nana. We arrived on Saturday at around 7:30, visited for a bit, then went to bed. Sunday we had church and then a visit with an Aunt and Uncle. They have a pool, which was a big benefit for Lily. They also have a water slide.

A few years ago, I made Lily "madder than a hornet" (per Uncle Art) when I splashed her from the water slide. She thought she was safely out of harm's way, but I got her. This time she became more bold in the pool. She managed to swim back and forth in the deep end. The pool is not that big, but it's big enough to have scared her in the past.

The biggest thing was her going off of the slide. She was of course terrified at first, but Amanda paid her off with a quarter. Once she got the hang of it she started to really enjoy it. This is a big deal for her as she had to overcome some terror to do it.

Meanwhile, Noah had a bad experience. He slipped on the steps and fell sideways into the pool. After that he was traumatized and would not really get into the pool. He is going to get some lessons this summer which should help. Lily is also ready for one last set of lessons so she can learn strokes. It's pretty exciting to see this progress with her.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ready for Summer

Amanda took Lily shopping for her annual swimsuit. Lily expressed an interest in a tankini this year, which is encouraging since everyone knows that is the appropriate swimsuit for a Christian girl. Actually, she wanted one because she knows that she can't have a bikini (and understands the need to be modest), but she does want to be able to go to the bathroom easily. That's my girl thinking practically.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Making the Grade

We got Lily's third quarter report card last week. The only difference from the previous quarter was that she got a 3* in math instead of just a 3. For those of you who don't understand the grading system, that means she is above grade level in math. It does not mean that she is a super-genius in math, but that she is doing very well. Isn't that obvious? :)

I remember that I just got check marks when I was in second grade, so I guess that these numbers give us a little bit more to go off of. Either way, she's doing well and we're happy about that. I am going to meet her teacher for the end of year conference in a couple of weeks. We suspect that all is well, but it's always good to hear an experienced educator's opinion. We're also glad that Lily is 3 for 3 on having good teachers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Little Caniacs

We got some free tickets to the Hurricanes' game on Saturday evening, so I took the kids. I wanted to take them for a while, but the games are so expensive I didn't think it was worth it considering they would not likely make it through the game. But when they were free I had to jump at the chance. Thanks Ian!

This was game 82 and they had to win it to make the playoffs. I figured that the atmosphere would be electric. It was except that about a third of the people were dressed as red seats and didn't cheer much. But the folks who were there got loud and stayed loud to support their team even though the team played terribly. It was sad to see them go out like they did. Plus, it was surreal for me to root against the Lightning after having season tickets for three years. But I wanted to get Lily and Noah engaged in the local team.

The best part for me was the player introduction time.  It is perhaps a bit trite to play "Rock You Like a Hurricane," but it works. Noah's face just lit up and he made a wonderous "o" with his mouth as the spotlights started moving around and the music started. We were sitting way way way up high, but the sound up there was incredible. It was fantastic to see how much they enjoyed just being there and taking it all in.

Lily actually got into the game a little bit. At first she was just afraid of falling out of her seat and tumbling down to the ice. We really were up high. She started to get the hang of icing and offsides. She admonished me for not cheering enough at times. It was really great for her.

Noah did well too, though of course he couldn't quite grasp what was happening. Lily at least cheered when the Canes scored, but Noah didn't quite get it. By the end he was more interested in reading the letters on our row and on the steps in the aisle than the game. We left after an empty-net goal made it 5-2 with just a few minutes to go.

Lily was not as into the Storm Squad as I thought she'd be. That's just as well. I haven't figured out why hockey needs cheerleaders either. Since it was game 82 it was fan appreciation day too. They gave away several sweaters and other miscellaneous stuff. Lily very astutely noticed that only people in the lower bowl with the good seats got free stuff. Funny how that works.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rite of Passage

It finally happened. Earlier this week we wondered what had happened to the spring in the middle of the toilet paper holder. It's fairly common that one of the kids knocks it down, but we couldn't find it anywhere in the bathroom. We eventually got a confession out of Noah that he flushed it.

We lived with some very poor flushing performance for a few days and then yesterday I finally had to do the deed. I took the toilet apart and was able to pry out the spring, some toilet paper, and assorted whatnot. I asked Lily if she wanted a Tootsie Roll, but didn't get the joke right away.

The good news is that everything is back together again. It just was not how I wanted to spend my Saturday morning. I spent the afternoon putting up a new mailbox as the wood on our old post had given way. It was time for a new mailbox as well, so we have a nice new plastic one. Lily wanted us to buy an $80 mailbox so we could have a slot and a lock, but I think I convinced her it was unnecessary. Either way, we weren't going to buy it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day Out

Noah had himself a very busy day yesterday. The weather was postcard beautiful, so that meant the usual playtime after preschool with his friends at Bond Park. He and Amanda got home around 3:00 or 3:30. After I got Lily from the bus she learned her spelling words and vacuumed the living room. This caused a little consternation because she was muttering under her breath in imitation of Amanda telling her that she was missing spots. Her excuse for missing spots was that she "is not a professional."

We needed groceries anyway, so I took the kids out to Sam's for groceries and a very salty dinner. Lily and Noah both managed to eat one of the Nathan's 1/4 lb hot dogs. I had a slice of pizza. We all split a pretzel and a Fanta orange drink. Lily liked it, but Noah thought it was too sour. He made the funniest face after each sip, but kept coming back for more. In retrospect, I wish I had captured it on video. You'd think he had just sucked on a lemon.

We finished things out by getting milkshakes at Jake's Wayback Burgers. I'm glad that we tried them, but I think that they were overpriced and mediocre compared to what you can get at Cook-Out or Chick-Fil-A. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed them well enough and I think we can declare the evening a success.

Note - blogging will likely resume its old daily schedule after May 13. That's the day I'm supposed to graduate. Until then, it's a little busy here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Disco Lily

I was going through the photos from Christmastime and came upon this gem. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: If you're lent to hysterical laughter you may want to use the bathroom before viewing

video