Monday, May 22, 2017

Ellie's first dance recital and preschool end of year program

Elinor began a ballet/tap class in February after seeing a few videos of ballerinas.  She was happy to see that Alina, one of her preschool classmates, was also in her dance class.  Alina took Ellie by the hand that first week and led her into the dance room, where she introduced her to the teacher.  "This is Ellie. She doesn't talk much."  And talk she didn't.  Every week she came to dance class and listened to the teacher's instructions and danced her little heart out and didn't make a peep.  Some days she loved it and some days she wasn't so sure about it.

At the recital this week she was given the award for "Dancer of the Year" in her group, proof that all her hard work hadn't gone unnoticed.  She was so nervous onstage that she couldn't even say her name into the microphone when presented the award, but she did an amazing job during the dance number.  Unfortunately, she was in the back row and you can only see her little head peeking out from behind one of the girls middle in this picture.  They danced to Eva Cassidy's rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and I've maybe cried a few times just watching her practice.  Afterward, she was so proud of herself for doing such a hard and scary thing!  She was so proud of her trophy, and we were so proud of her.  Way to go, Ellie!
Next up for the end of year festivities was her preschool graduation program.  Since her preschool class was a mixed age group only half the class was actually graduating.  Ellie enjoyed every minute of preschool this year.  It was the true highlight of her week and she was devastated that there would be a summer break.  She'll be going back to the same preschool next year, partly because she loves it so much and partly because it's just down the street from us.  Yay, proximity!  Also, Teacher Leslie is the best around!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

SoCal Vacation! Legoland! Disneyland!

So the company I work for offers hefty referral bonuses and since I referred two friends who are now working here the company gave me quite a hefty bonus.  So we decided to go to Legoland and Disneyland!  We went down at the end of April and stayed for a week.  We first went to San Diego and spent two day at Legoland.  Robin and Zeke and Raiphe joined us for our San Diego stint and the kids loved having their cousins with them!  On Saturday we explored the Carlsbad area and then went to LegoLand that Sunday and Monday.  Sunday was pretty rough and crowded but Monday went down as one of the greatest days any of us have ever experienced at a theme park.  Hardly any crowds.  No lines anywhere.  It was incredible.

Then Monday night we drove up to Anaheim for our 3-day Disneyland stint.  The weather was pretty hot but not as scorching as our last trip to Disneyland back in September 2014.  Definitely bearable.  We had timed the trip so the lines wouldn't be that bad and really it was pretty great.  We took advantage of the "ride swapping" system they have where one parent can stay behind and they give you extra fast passes to come back.  We went on Space Mountain so many times!  Isaac, Ellie and Sammy were all big enough to go so we really made it a focus.  The best line of the week came from Sammy when he exclaimed "IT SCARED THE BANANAS OUT OF ME!!!"  By the way - check out all those empty seats in the Space Mountain car!  SOO GOOD!  And yeah, I was totally too cheap to purchase the photo they took.  :)

BTW, that "grey stuff" WAS delicious!

The other kids weren't tall enough so Isaac and Maxine did the new and improved Matterhorn.  Isaac was impressed :) 

So it turns out if you want to see a parade at Disneyland you have to get there way before it starts and stake a claim.  There was a lot of waiting and a lot of heat and a few unhappy campers...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Catching up

It's been a long time since our last post.  I think the main culprit is our decision to homeschool Sammy starting back in November, which not-coincidentally is the month of our last blog post.  I don't think I've even moved any pictures from our camera over to the computer since November.  In fact, I haven't taken many pictures at all since November.  So to sum up, homeschooling has really kicked my butt this year!  Sammy had been begging to try it out since he started first grade, so we finally gave in thinking it would work out fine.  And it has in the sense that we have gotten through most of the school year, but there were a lot of growing pains with Sammy getting used to learning at home and me trying to juggle my time with school and the girls and running errands (I mostly failed all all of those).  Note that keeping the house clean isn't on that list, because the house is never clean anymore.  Not ever.  Despite all the difficulties, I have seen some really great benefits from it for Sammy and am ultimately glad we did it this year.  That being said, he'll be going back to Lakeview Academy next year with Isaac.  I think the rest of the family is ready to have their mom back!

On a not-school-related note, Sammy is just as into Lego and creating things as ever. His creations range from impressive feats of engineering to detailed scenes complete with back stories for each character.  He prefers villains over heroes because they have cooler stuff and look cooler.  I'm hoping that's the only reason.
Being home all day with the girls this year has actually ended (for the most part) his aversion to playing with Ellie.  The two get along famously now.  Except when they fight... He is still so good with Daisy, and I'm pretty sure he's her favorite sibling to play with right now.  He's gone through a huge growth spurt recently and eats like a little horse!  Still hates mushy textures - no Malt-O-Meal, mushrooms, cream cheese, or squash for this guy!  He reads very well and has great comprehension and generally prefers non-fiction books.  He loves exploring his pet subjects in great depth.  One night the boys asked Collin about viruses, which started a lengthy conversation including YouTube videos about the T4 bacteriophage virus and how it works.  As soon as they were done Sammy had to run to his legos to build a model of a T4, then the boys created a comic about it.  It was amazing! 

The other morning Sammy woke up and was suddenly possessed with a need to make a salami sandwich to save for lunch later.  I thought it was a little weird but humored him.  When lunchtime came he proudly brought out the sandwich and presented it to me for my lunch.  I wanted to hug and kiss the snot out of that sweet kid!

Isaac just lost his third baby tooth this week.  It's slow going for him, but the dentist says it's actually a good thing.  He is generally very responsible and does his Saturday morning chores without being asked.  He's doing well in third grade and continues his friendship with his li'l bestie, Gage.  He started reading the Five Kingdoms series by Brandon Mull, which is his first "big book" series (the four books average 450 pages each).  He wants to read the Harry Potter series once he's finished with the latest book. We practiced our emotional displays one night.  Isaac's got some pretty good ones:
Sammy wanted to get in on the action:
His interest in Legos is waning a bit, which has caused some readjustment in his friendship with Sammy.  He went through a Pokemon phase at the end of last year, but since his teachers banned the cards from school he lost interest fairly quickly.  Thankfully, the three oldest kids recently discovered Stikbots, which are little poseable figures meant for stop motion animation.  Here's their first Stikbot animation:

We celebrated Isaac's 9th birthday with a Pokemon-themed party. I played around with Photoshop to make the invitations and was quite pleased with the result. He invited a few of his friends and we partied it up. We made our own poke-pizzas, held target practice on Team Rocket, had a pokemonGO hunt with repurposed Easter eggs and mini-pokemon figures as the prizes, traded pokemon, and of course had pokemon tournaments.  It was a raging success! 

His actual birthday was a much more low-key affair.  He went to school in the morning, then opened presents when he got home.  He requested sushi for dinner (*sniff* I'm so proud of my boy!), then we came home and had apple pie for his birthday "cake."
Ellie is the family spitfire.  She's got this explosive, incredible personality that is most accurately described as Muppet-like.  She loves hard and she fights hard - nothing comes in halves with this kid!  She has just started putting together her own Lego creations, which has really cemented hers and Sammy's friendship.  About a month ago she started figuring out how to read simple words on her own and can now read through some of the easier BOB books on her own!  She loves her preschool class, and I love that it's just down the street from us.  She asked to take dance lessons, so last month I signed her up for a ballet/tap class that she absolutely loves.  Once of her preschool friends is in the same class and has helped her to feel more comfortable in it.  On her first day she took Ellie by the hand and led her in to the dance room where she introduced her to the teacher: "This is Ellie.  She doesn't talk much."  Ha!  Ellie did a part of her recital routine for Collin the other night (set to Eva Cassidy's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow") and I was nearly in tears watching her and realizing her purity and beauty.  She has a love-hate relationship with Daisy: That is, she loves Daisy but Daisy hates how much Ellie gets in her personal space.  Still, the two have been known to play marvelously together.

Daisy is mostly definitely the baby of the family.  She has every single person wrapped around her cute little fingers.  She talks a ton, sings songs, speaks in full sentence (not all of which are fully coherent), dances and spins frequently, eats cereal like it's going out of style, and hates dresses.  She is aware when she needs a diaper change and will tell Collin or me, then go grab a diaper and a bag of wipes and lie down on the floor to wait for us.  It's hilarious and very practical.  She loves reading books with or without our help. 
She has Opinions!  "Don't want a cracker!" was one of her first full sentences, spoken in the middle of the night last month when she woke up hungry for Cheerios and milk.  She insists on feeding herself now, and I think her high chair days are numbered.  She thinks she likes cuddling until she actually starts to cuddle.  She hates snow.  She gets insanely jealous and possessive of her things: her toys, Mom's lap, the chair she sat on yesterday...  Another favorite is taking selfies.  It's impossible to pull out a phone or camera without her stopping whatever she's doing to mug at the camera and say "Sheeeez!"  She calls Ellie "Nornie" and Isaac "Ough-t."  Her sleep for the past six months has mostly been horrible, but it's gotten a little better recently.  Fingers crossed that keeps up!

The older kids like Collin to tell them a different bedtime story each night. One night several months ago he was running out of original ideas, and thus out of desperation was born Scamps, the rascally dog!  Scamps gets into all kinds of wacky hijinks and adventures, and has even been used to teach some very serious life lessons to the kids.  Now the kids like coming up with concepts for his Scamps stories: Scamps goes to a dog park, Scamps and Fido (his recently-added new best friend) chase some cats, Scamps goes to space, etc.  They all completely love it, and I'm pretty sure that any dog we might ever get in the future will be named Scamps.

I took the boys to see their (and my!) first production of The Nutcracker ballet this Christmas.  We all loved it - yes, even the boys!

Sheena invited us to an indoor kids' climbing place called Funtopia.  The kids were placed in harnesses and set free on all the climbing walls and squishy block climbing towers.  They all conquered their fears and had a blast.

Christmas with the Parrishes was lovely, with the exception of all the kids catching a gnarly stomach bug the week leading up to it.  Isaac was the last to fall to the bug, so he was still a little sick on Christmas Day, which was a real bummer.  He was fine the following day when we headed out to Las Vegas to visit my parents at their new house. 

We got all kinds of memberships this years: The Leonardo museum, the aquarium, and the zoo.  The kids have been enjoying it.

With all the craziness of this school year and the stress of Collin's work lately, we decided to push our family vacation up much sooner this year.  We're doing an epic week of Legoland and Disneyland, and the kids are beyond excited!  So am I!