Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Tooth Fairy AND the Easter Bunny?

It's pretty clear that our little Janae is growing up.  She turned six at the beginning of the month, and--as of this afternoon--she is riding a bike without training wheels. 

Normally this would be a post on its own, but in true Janae style, our little girl has already topped herself with another major event. 

After dinner, she and Ben were playing on their beanbag chair.  Ben jumped onto the chair beside Janae, and she said when she flew up in the air, she thought, "There's something in my mouth."  That something turned out to be a tooth!  Janae's two bottom teeth have been wiggling a lot this month, and for the past few days this particular one had been hanging by a thread.

Janae went running around the house screaming, "I LOST MY TOOTH!! I LOST MY TOOTH!!" We were all so excited for her.

But still not able to leave it at that, Janae went outside to ride her bike.  She and Ben bumped into each other with their bikes, and out flew ANOTHER tooth (the other loose one, luckily!).

Janae took this one a little more calmly--after all the other excitement of the day, but I am just astounded at all the growing up our little girl has done over the past few hours.

So . . . I guess we will be expecting not only the Easter Bunny but also the Tooth Fairy tonight :) 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

To LA and Back Again

Last year we went to Los Angeles to visit my sister Anita and her family during spring break.  We left a snowstorm behind and were playing outside in shorts a few hours later.  On our way home, I turned to Jason and said, "We should do this every year for spring break!" 

So . . . in January I started looking up tickets, and by February we'd booked our flight :)

This time we left early on a cold and rainy morning and were enjoying the sun and sand by the afternoon! 

Although the highlight of our trip was definitely spending time with our family,

Anita took us to some of the most beautiful places in Southern California!  We saw lots of palm trees

and sunshine!

We walked over to see Kya's softball game.
Alaina, just outside the gates.

And Janae got to try "surfing" (This is a whole other story that I won't record here.  I'll just say that we'd watched Soul Surfer a few times before we'd left for our vacation, and things didn't turn out quite how Janae had imagined. . . .)

The beach was warmer than we'd expected, and all of the kids got into the water.  Ben had the hardest time leaving--he and Tyson were having so much fun building in the sand.

The following day we went to a huge science center where we saw a space craft called The Endeavor--which had been strapped to an airplane and flown into LAX--then driven through the streets of Los Angeles (including some close to Anita's neighborhood) to the museum.  The kids had fun learning and building, then walking through the rose gardens nearby--we wished we could have stayed longer and done more.

Our next big adventure was a trip to Legoland, near San Diego.

Benjamin LOVES Lego and was looking forward to this part of the trip as much as Janae was looking forward to surfing :)

The weather was perfect, and the kids had lots of fun on the rides (especially once we found some that Alaina was old enough to try!).

There were also lots of Star Wars creations that amazed and inspired Ben (he's been trying to re-create some of the effects since we've got home). 

Another highlight of our vacation was a trip to Malibu where we explored the tide pools and enjoyed the amazing scenery at the beach.  

We saw star fish, anemones, crabs, and lots of mussels.  Later we even saw some dolphins jumping in the water, not too far from the shore where we were standing.  I'd never seen anything like it!

And once again the water was warm enough for some of us to enjoy getting wet!

On our last day we squeezed in a trip to Menchie's for some frozen yogurt--just a couple of hours before our flight :)

 It all went by way too fast--but we were happy that when we did come home it was to sunshine and spring weather :)

Today it was back to work (I will write more about Ben's paper route soon!), but we have a week's worth of good memories to keep us going until summer break.

I think we all agree that spring break with Auntie Nita is definitely the way to go!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Celebrating Six

Janae wanted four things for her sixth birthday: she wanted to go swimming, she wanted to go out for pizza, she wanted a Dairy Queen cake, and she wanted a bike.

Easy enough!

The bike came first.  We picked it out about a month ago and had it hidden in our shed.  On Saturday, though, we had a rare non-rainy day, and we decided to give the bike to Janae a few days early so she could enjoy it on a ride around the neighborhood.  Since then she has been riding around our deck, rain or shine!

We went swimming Monday night, joined by one of our favoire "big girls" who has always had a soft spot for our G-G.

We got to the pool at 6:30, and one of the first things Janae did was measure herself to see if she was tall enough to ride the slide (this was the only pool where she wasn't tall enough last summer!).

But as I already knew from all the too-short skirts and pants, Janae has GROWN quite a bit; luckily it was enough. 

The slide was supposed to open at 7, but it didn't end up starting up until 8, so we all waited a long time.  Finally, though, Janae was able to slide down SIX times in honor of her special day :)

Yesterday morning Janae woke up to gifts from Alaina and Ben.  (When Jason took them shopping Alaina picked out the stuffed sheep pictured . . . and has pretty much claimed it as her own; fortunately Janae seems to have overlooked this.)

She then enjoyed some pink milk while showing off her TWO loose teeth

We found out on Monday that Janae would be honored for her reading achievements, as well as for her birthday, on March 5 :)  She'd earned a silver medal in her school's reading Olympics for reading the second-highest number of minutes in her class during February (just over 1300 minutes).  She got to stand on a podium and receive her medal (along with a gift certificate for the school book fair) during an assembly that afternoon!

(Incidentally, Ben also won silver for his class!)

After picking out her THREE new (free!) books at the book fair, Janae headed home to visit with Jason's mom and sister who came over with some gifts. 

After that it was out for pizza

and then home for ice cream cake with more of our family.

It's nice when we can actually make their wishes come true!

And it was fun to celebrate our six-year-old girl :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Inspired By Fearless Writing ...

In Janae's kindergarten class the kids have been introduced to the concept of being "fearless writers." This essentially means that they just try to write, not worrying about whether or not they are doing it "correctly." They've been taught that it's okay for their work to look like "kid writing," and that--at least at this stage--it doesn't matter if their writing has non-standard spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc.

You might think that as a former writing teacher I would resist or even oppose this idea, but I actually love it. Writing is a creative process that flows along much better without the inhibition of trying to do it correctly--especially at these early stages and for these really young writers.

As you might imagine, Janae-the-Brave has no problem whatsoever with being a fearless writer--and we have had many instances at home where our kindergartener has demonstrated her lack of writing fear. One was around Christmas when she coloured a box to give me as a gift. She addressed it "To the Lamb," explaining that she didn't know how to write "Lisa" :)  She didn't worry that calling me "The Lamb" might sound weird--she wanted to address something to me and did.  Another example I found while tidying up the toy shelf--

Definitely no fear here (very sweet, too, that she was thinking of her mom and dad--and also that the pen she used happened to be washable!).

I've also noticed lately that "fearless speaking" is really what allows little children to learn to talk--they don't worry about speaking "properly," just about expressing their feelings or ideas.  Imagine if a toddler only spoke when he or she knew that the grammar, pronunciation, and word choice were all correct!  Clearly, young children learn by trying and making mistakes, and this doesn't embarrass them.   

One of my favorite things is to hear the word variations Alaina comes up with as she communicates in a free and open way that is oblivious to "correctness." The other day, for example, Alaina asked me to "colden" her dinner, and she almost always says "goed" instead of "went," as in "We goed to the school."  One day Alaina told me she didn't want to be "holden" (held), and another time she asked me what my "picnic name" was (meaning "nick-name").  Three-year-old Alaina is definitely a "fearless speaker."

As it turns out, I liked these ideas of fearless writing and speaking so much that I decided to be a "fearless mathematician" a few weeks ago when I was working on the books for Jason's business. Instead of laboring over the payroll (recording deductions, figuring out the employer's contributions, etc.), I just blazed through the math, not worrying about getting all the calculations perfect. Unfortunately when I finished up I realized everything was off by more than a few dollars--and I wasn't exactly sure where to go back to fix it. (Don't worry--it will all be checked over by an actual accountant before the year is over....)

And then I thought why not just be a "fearless driver of the broken van that sounds like a garbage truck whenever the breaks are applied," which I attempted today, or even the "fearless taker of the van to the repair shop," which I might try tomorrow.

However it plays out, I definitely think "fearless" is the way to go.  Those kindergarten teachers really know what they are doing!