Monday, January 12

Little speller

Ever since Mia participated in the spelling bee as a Kindergartener in Ohio Virtual Academy, I've been pressuring NVVA to allow younger grades to participate in bees.  No response but "sorry, we don't do that."  I'm completely unimpressed with this school and don't recommend it to anyone who was hoping to rely on their school for any social opportunities.  We've relied completely on church and the rec centers over the years for group activities that I didn't have to organize myself.

Speaking of which, I figured that was the only way to get my kids in a bee before 6th grade. So a few months ago I approached the RISE Resource Center about enrolling as a home schooling co-op in the Scripps Spelling Bee.  It costs quite a bit to enroll, so I wasn't sure they'd want to, and my back up plan was just to do an informal one at my house.  But they wrote back a few days later and said they'd paid the enrollment fee, and told me my new username and password!

There was already a sponsor in our area- a person who will pay for the local champion to go to nationals, so I was very thankful I didn't have to worry about finding anyone for that, too.

I got to learn all the rules and proctor the bee.  It was so fun to look into the kids' eyes as they concentrated so hard.  I was worried that I would mispronounce something, or have to judge something that someone disagreed with.  I worried that being the mom of three of the kids would be weird- that I'd have to somehow prove I wasn't favoring them, but it turned out to be very straightforward.  All of the kids were so excited, and the parents were so supportive and positive.  It went very smoothly for a room full of bee novices.

Bree was in about 10 rounds, Anya hung on for about 20 rounds, and after about 25 rounds, it was down to Mia and a very dedicated 7th grade boy, whose parents were on the front row, and had commented on how nerve-wracking the experience was for all of them.  Mia and the boy must have done at least 30 words each before they even got to words they had to think about.  His parents had been sitting on the edges of their seats and straining to hear, but after a while they were reclined on each other looking quite relaxed.  It took a long time, but they finally started getting to words that made them think.  The other boy got out on a word he most likely knew, but just got confused doing the order or the letters of apologize.  (Or apologise- he could have done either.  Weird, huh?)

So Mia had to finish the round, and then spell the Championship round word correctly, and then she won!  It turned out perfectly, because Scripps won't allow someone her age to go to nationals, so the 7th grade boy still got to advance, and we didn't have to feel too bad for his blunder or losing to a 4th grader.

Good job, girl!

Monday, January 5

This time last year: January

I've been thinking, since I neglected my blog so badly last year, I might just do a little updating each corresponding month this year.  

Last year at this time, we had just gotten some AWESOME gift cards from my sister, Lara for Christmas.  We used one to visit the Secret Garden of Siegfried and Roy at the Mirage. (And we still have another one to use!)

 Our first trip was fun, except the girls had somehow got it into their heads that they were going to swim with, or pet dolphins. So even though they were seeing them in real life for the first time, they were having trouble appreciating it.  Then, about one minute after I took this picture, Kael ran back up the ramp, tripped, and hit his head on the edge of the knee-high pool enclosure wall.

While Zach was in the restroom getting the blood wiped off Kael's face and out of his eye, I talked with the employee who was helping us, and waiting to see if we needed an ambulance.  I asked if there was any way they could let us come back.  They took our tickets and got permission to let us use them again later.  

We dropped Kael and Zach off at the hospital and I took the kids home while Zach stitched Kael up in the E.R.  

Like usual, I couldn't find anyone to stay with the kids, so after I got Declan down for a nap, Mia babysat while I went to pick up the guys.  Kael was watching Spongebob and getting a popsicle.

We went back the next month.  The kids were just as excited about playing on the lit-up floor as they were about seeing the dolphins and wild cats.  

As we walked up to the ticket booth, the girl said, "Hey, I remember you guys!" and asked about Kael's cut.  The stitches had been out a couple of weeks, and it looked pretty good.  When we got to the dolphin area, a gal right behind us said loudly, "Who wants to paint with a dolphin?!"  I turned around and saw her glance at me, so I pointed to the twins and told her they would love to- it would be their birthday dream come true.  She immediately looked sheepish and apologized for yelling so loudly. She had been talking to a little girl next to us whose parents had paid for the painting activity.  Then she called a trainer over and asked them if they would let the girls touch a dolphin during the next show.  They told us to wait exactly where we were, and they'd make sure the kids got to pet a dolphin.  And they did!  They pulled one out by the tail like they do for weighing, and all the kids got to feel its slimy skin.

Then we went to the wild cat area, and Seigfried was standing there!  So we took a picture with him. He pretended to be taming Kael. 

Kael's accident had a happy ending.  We had so much more fun the second time around.

 Here's our January calendar page:

Saturday, January 3

Baby Talk

The last couple of months I've been so entertained by Declan's emerging vocabulary, and his pronunciation.  Each of his four older siblings had their unique and adorable speech impediments.  I went so far as to tell Mia not to correct Kael's lingering mispronunciations just because I loved them so much and didn't want them to disappear.  One more way of holding on to my babies' babyhood a little longer.

  Declan, though! In almost every facet of his development he has been my first kid to do everything.  First kid to figure out and actually use the bouncing swing, first to never use a bottle, first to fit into the size of clothing that matched his age, first to have no jaundice trouble, first climber, first to bean me in the head with a toy, first to enjoy sand as a baby.  The list goes on, but the one first I've been noticing lately, is his ability to mimic any word that we throw at him.  He can say Bree's name with the "R." Kael's name includes the "L." When he needs help figuring out the Wii, he comes up to me and says "Please help me?" "L"s and all. He points to what he wants and says "I want...this."

When we were playing Settlers of Catan and he kept climbing onto the table and grabbing Anya's pieces, we told him to get down and he just looked at us like we were rude and said "I'm tryin' to play the gaaame."

Some words do come out a little garbled, and we crack up from cuteness.  And then the ones he does get crack us up with amazement.  Either way, we laugh a lot when he talks, so he does plenty of it.

  I guess I can handle one kid depriving me of speech impediments.  Heaven knows I'll be hanging onto my last child's babyhood way longer than any of the others, even without them!


Thursday, January 1

New Year's play at our house

Here's what New Year's Eve looked like at my house.

We stayed up late playing Settlers of Catan for the 5th time since Santa brought it on Christmas.  I won for the fifth time. That's what I get for being the only adult playing a strategy game half the time.

So far New Year's Day is looking like me waiting for the girls to wake up.  I made a special breakfast and everything, thinking they were getting up with the boys and I.  When I called up to tell them it was ready, I got no answer, ha.

We've got the usual resolutions planned: stop eating sugar, have a better attitude with each other, be more physically active, keep up better on school work.  I've also decided to start blogging more regularly.  My goal is to have something to print as a family record at the end of the year.  Facebook does have a cool company that will gather all your posts and pictures and print them, and we've done two volumes spanning 2007 to now, but it's mostly made up of quick blurbs.  I've missed writing. And since no one reads blogs anymore, I don't feel so exhibitionist as before. ;)  I haven't decided yet if I should set a rule to write every day or not.  I'll try it for a while and see.  I might end up satisfied with a minimum weekly entry.

I kind of want to set a resolution to keep the kids from playing so many video games.  I'm watching Declan play Wii fit plus.  He actually knows how to navigate to and play his favorite exercise games, including skateboarding, where he has to stand with one foot on the board and pretend to skate board.  He's really good!  These crazy 21st century toddlers who can use i-pods and tablets before they can talk.   We also got Disney Infiniti for Christmas, which is a problem game.  Only two player, and not really set up with definitive game endings.  And so glitchy. When they're not whining about whose turn it is, the stupid thing is frozen.

Anyway, I'm not sure we need to cut down on the games yet.  I've just labeled them as bad time-wasters, but they ARE helping keep them moving.  It's cold, the pool has been replaced by the sandbox, no one wants to play outside for a while.

We'll see.