Sunday, September 20, 2009

A really impressive pinata

We have the first few weeks of school behind us now and Dreamer is adjusting well to kindergarten. The twins think school is pretty fun too: Starlet likes to run around wearing Dreamer's backpack - and they both love it when we visit school on Fridays during lunch period and they get to sit with their sisters and the other big kids eating their PB&J's.

Here's a picture of the girls on the first day of school. They decided to wear matching outfits (not like there is a whole lot of variety with the uniforms)
Waiting for the bus. Dreamer's backback makes her look so small!

I'm really bummed I didn't bring my camera to Blaze and Dreamer's school "fiesta" on Friday night. I have to admit I get this bad attitude about school functions, that they are kind of lame and boring. But the girls were really excited about this one and since Dreamer just started kindergarten this was her first school party. So we all dressed up in bright colors and headed off to the school on Friday night. There were a bunch of activities for the kids, including a Mexican hat dance where the kids danced in a circle around a bunch of sombreros on the ground. They were each given red bandanas to twirl and wave around while they danced, it looked like so much fun I wanted to join in! When the music stopped the kids got to pick up whichever sombrero closest to them and see if there was a plastic duckie under the hat - whoever found a duckie got a sticker. Not your traditional Mexican hat dance, I believe, but the kids sure loved it.

But the best part of the fiesta was the pinata. This was a HUGE pinata and the toughest one I've ever seen before - it stood up to over 100 blows by some very determined kids. They started out letting the littlest kids have a shot so even the twins got to go up and take a swing. I thought for sure it would break before the second graders got their chance, but both Dreamer and Blaze got two hits at it and I think a few third graders even had a chance before it finally broke. Then it was also pretty impressive that when the candy finally showered down all the kids actually obeyed the rules and didn't push and shove and everyone got three pieces of candy (you can tell our school takes rules and discipline very seriously).

Here's one of those "life's little moments" that makes me still smile thinking about it. Last night we had Mom and Dad over for dinner at our house and after dinner we played cards. I've taught Dreamer how to play rummy but tonight we decided to play poker since that is Dad's favorite game, and I wanted to get him involved. The doctors seem to have finally adjusted his medicine for Parkinson's so he is steadier on his feet and able to get around more, but he is still clearly depressed - he hardly talks at all these days. His comment when I suggested that we play poker tonight was "well, I know you guys will make me anyway, whether I want to or not" - typical sour puss! But after the first few hands I could tell he was enjoying it (though he'd never admit it).

 We taught Blaze seven card stud and follow-the-Queen and no-peek and finally we ended with a hand of low-hold. I explained to Blaze how the lowest card in her hand was a wild card. So we got to the end of the hand and we were all showing our cards and Mom asked Blaze what her low-hold was. Blaze pointed to a three and said, "this is my youngest card." Of course we all laughed (she was too excited to care because she had actually WON the hand and she couldn't believe all the quarters she was raking in!) I actually saw my father SMILE.

Dreamer was "Star of the Week" this past week in kindergarten and got to make a poster about herself to take to school and show to all the other kids: pictures of her, her sisters, our pets (we sure have a lot of those!) and some of her favorite things. As we started working on her poster I realized I didn't have any recent pictures developed yet, so I promised Dreamer that I would get some pictures printed that night so her poster would be all ready to take into school in the morning. But after getting all the kids in bed I was too tired to make a run to Walmart to buy color ink for the printer, so I decided I would get up early in the morning and get the ink so I could print her pictures. Well, Dreamer woke up before I got back from Walmart and came downstairs expecting to see the pictures on her poster and when she saw that it was still pictureless, B. said she just BURST into tears and he had to hold and her and comfort her till I got back and we could finish the poster for our little "star."
I am so so SO happy Blaze finally made a breakthrough with her reading! All summer long she moaned and groaned about how much she hated reading, and of course that just made me so sad and frustrated because I love reading so much, it was so hard to see her struggle with it and hate it so much. But then my mom talked to my Aunt Connie who is a first grade teacher and she gave us some advice that made all the difference in the world. Blaze's reading program at school (Spalding) is very heavily phonics-based where kids learn how to sound out words based on phonograms. Even though Blaze knows all her phonograms she would just get overwhelmed, I think, having to constantly decode words.

Connie told Mom and I about a different approach. First I would read a paragraph out loud, pointing to each word, then I would read the same paragraph again outloud with Blaze saying the words along with me, and then she would read the same paragraph again herself. She loved reading this new way! She actually started looking forward to reading again, instead of groaning, and soon we would even start skipping the first part where I would read outloud by myself, and eventually when we'd be reading outloud together she'd tell me "stop Mom I can do it by myself." But best of all was last week when it was bed time and I told her she could stay up a little later as long as she was quiet, and she could read a book. AND SHE DID! She started reading an Amelia Bedelia book, and then the next morning she finished it, all by herself - of her own initiative. Oh thank you thank you thank you Lord! (and thank you Aunt Connie!) Now Dreamer is begging me to read a book with her the same way so she can "read by herself" too.

This is getting to be pretty long but I feel bad writing so much about Blaze and Dreamer and so little about the twins, so here's a little bit about Serious and Starlet. They sure do have different personalities.
Serious (older by just one minute) is the "boy" of the family. She likes to take things apart. She likes to grunt and she'll get really mad over the littlest things, like not being able to get her shoes on (B. calls her his mad little Chinaman). She doesn't care what she wears and she is the first to get dirty.
Starlet on the other hand is all girl. She will change her outfit at least three times a day. She loves to play dress up and preen and walk around like a model showing off her outfits. Starlet is also the devious one. She is a thinker and a planner and a manipulator. She knows how to work her expressions to get the most out of Grandma and Grandpa (whereas if Serious wants something she'll just grunt and grab until she gets it). One day at Grandma and Grandpa H's when Starlet discovered a basket of clean clothes in the basement, she decided to play dress-up. Mom and I found her prancing through the house with one of Grandma's silk panties draped over her!
Serious does this thing with her hands that I call her "happy hands". When she gets excited about something, it's like she's trying to clap her hands but she is too excited to actually get her hands close enough to clap, so she just shakes them. I haven't seen her do this in a while now, and I miss it, just like I still miss Starlet's warbling stage - she used to make the cutest little noise before she started talking. They are both getting out of the toddling stage, too, they can actually run now but I miss the adorable way they used to waddle when they tried to run. I keep thinking Serious's outgrown though is falling out of bed, but just when I think we are safe, I hear another loud thump and howl in the night!


  1. Yeah, I get that impression a lot. WHen I first went to see my best friend last year I don't think I said more then ten words to her the first week. :-D I have been working on my talking more though, and making very slow progress.
    I miss the girls so much!!! I was glad I got to see them at Sparks, I was thrilled when they all gave me a hug! I was worried that the twins would not remember me.
    As for election I was very happy to find you believe it too!! It is so rare I find someone who does. Is it a difficult to understand docterine I guess, but one that makes the Bible so much more understandable.
    Anyways, this is just a quick comment to answer yours. How is the book coming? And the class?
    See you on Tuesday God willing!

  2. Margo, I really enjoyed reading this entry. I think sometimes about the things that are "lost" along the way as the kids grow...those cute little things that disappear as they develop.

    Yay for Laine's reading! Once Jes gets through the phonetics part of our reading book, maybe we'll try that!