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Monday, December 31, 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

Good plan

Mommy: Are you excited to go to a new school next year?
Ellie: Yeah. I miss Michael and I will get to see him again.
Mommy: Wow. You still miss him?
Ellie: Yeah, and I'm still going to marry him.
Mommy: Do you think he is excited about that?
Ellie: Well I gave he is a year older now so maybe he doesn't think love is yucky anymore.
Mommy: Maybe.
Ellie: But I also like David. Sometimes I think I want to marry him instead.
Mommy: Oh man! How are you going to decide?
Ellie: Well I don't know if David thinks that love is yucky. I think he does because he's just a boy. Maybe when he gets bigger? But I think when I decide, I will pick the boy who is the nicest to me.
Mommy: That is a good plan!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Who loves Mommy the most?

Mommy: I love you both so much!
Addie: I love you so much I can't let you go, Mommy!
Mommy: Wow! That's a lot!
Ellie: I love you a hundred million and one.
Mommy: Holly smokes!
Addie: Mommy, I love you on Sunday!!!!
Mommy: Really?
Addie: Yeah! That's a lot, Mommy!
Mommy: It must be!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Pictures

The girls were excited to draw pictures for the grandparents...

Ellie started knowing exactly what Grandpa Lou and Grandmommy Jeanne would like: Santa and his reindeer. Everybody together now.... "WOW!!!"

Addie started with her signature "Rainbow and rocks."

Next Ellie knew exactly the picture to draw for Pappy and Grammie: Santa with his bag of toys going down the chimney. The words on the Christmas tree say "I love you Santa Claus."

Addie continued with her patented "rainbow and rocks."

Next Ellie drew the perfect picture for Gramma: A girl opening her presents on Christmas morning. How did she know that's Gramma's FAVORITE thing to do???

Addie starts to get tired of drawing pictures, but she makes up for it by calling it a "short" rainbow with rocks.

Finally, the perfect picture for Nana and Grandmpa: A partridge in a pear tree. Too cute. That partridge sure does look uncomfortable.

And last, but not least... "Pretty things" by Addie. If you say so, silly little girl.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry


Merry...
video

... more Merry...
video

... and enough Merry already?
video





Monday, December 24, 2012

Niffer's Winter Wonderland

It's that time of the year again and I have some new additions! Next year I may have to expand into other rooms! Is that a bad thing? I think not.








I am one very happy Niffer.  I hope that the girls feel like their holidays are just as magical and special as I do.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Have you heard the story about...

Have you heard the story about the flower?

"How the flowwr groow" by Ellie
Translation:  "How the Flower Grew" by Ellie.

Was upon tim there was a grl she plantid a flour
Translation:  Once upon a time there was a girl.  She planted a flower.

iT groow and groow in tll It was as Big as a jiwint
Translation:  It grew and grew until it was as big as a giant.


thE End
Translation not needed.

Have you heard the one about the rabbit?

Who is painting the rabbit!
It is me!

Hehehehe...  that's a good one.

I also like the one about the animals.

"A Book Bowt Anmos." ilshtradid by Ellie
Translation:  "A Book About Animals"  Illustrated (wow that's a big word) by Ellie

this mout liwin is skard
Translation:  This mountain lion is scared.

tihs Big Felo is not skard
Translation:  This big fellow is not scared.

this Elfit is vare high
Tranlation:  This elephant is very high.

But my favorite book of all time?  It has to be the one about the dragon.

"Spooky Fun!" by Ellie

There was a dragon who was friends with Riley.

One day dragon became a scary dragon.
(I love the angry look on the dragon's face and the fact that Riley is screaming "Aaaaa")

The boy laughed the dragon did not look scary.

The dragon was sad, but the boy made him laugh.
(Awww, the dragon is crying "waaaa" and Riley says "I am sorry.")

The end.
(I love that they fly off into the sunset.  "Bye!")


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ellie's Note

I stumbled across this note that Ellie wrote and it made me smile. Translation: "Mamma loves to make gnomes. Papa loves to tickle."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ellie's first parent-teacher conference

WARNING: This is a long post. Skip to the bottom "Art/Music/Physical Development" for the interesting and surprising assessment of Ellie.

I didn't think I would but I got emotional. How could I not? This little girl is one of the most beautiful things I have ever made and I'm always so in awe of her. Her first parent-teacher conference was no different, but it was interesting to hear how she is doing relative to the others in her class. Since have have no real comparison, we don't know if the things she's doing are "typical" or "advanced."

Mr. John sat us down and handed us her evaluation. He first started by explaining the scale (1-4) and that he rarely gives out 4's because he said that at this age it's typically "you either know it or you don't."

The first section was Literacy. Ellie got all 4's. Here is what he wrote for his comments:
"Ellie is a superb reader! She is very advanced and, as you know, can read primers fairly well, especially at her age. At this stage she is just putting finishing touches on sound combinations that she may not know from memory and repeating her exposure to these sounds will lead to quicker reading. She is amazingly quick to pick up new sound combinations, many times only taking two times to remember the sound a letter combination makes. Her sight word knowledge is amazing, she usually learns the words in the first day. She is ready for first grade at this stage (in terms of reading level) and continued reading both at school and at home should see her being at a reader level by the time she begins first grade!"

Mr. John is right. Ellie is SOOO proud of herself for knowing her sight words. She often tells us "Do you know how I know that? It's my sight word and I HAVE to know it!" She is so motivated to know as much as Mr. John gives her. She is constantly sounding out words she sees everywhere we go, like the names of stores or signs. I love watching her beam with pride after she sounds out a new word all by herself.

The next section was Writing. Ellie got mostly 4's and a few 3's. He says:
"For the second half of the year we will be doing more first grade level reading where there will be a heavy focus on phonetic reading and writing. Ellie is already doing much of her writing phonetically and is able to very accurately approximate the correct spellings of words. The amazing thing is that there have been many occasions of her being able to remember a non-phonetic spelling the next time she uses the word even days later. From a legibility perspective, she already has very precise and excellent handwriting technique. We do a bit of work on building up her writing skills beyond penmanship and phonetic writing and towards learning about story and sentence structure. Ellie does a wonderful job learning about how stories are structured and flow as well as how to construct sentences, even showing a desire to expand her sentences with adjectives."

I have to say that this has shocked us as well. We are constantly finding sentences (whether on a piece of homework, class project or a scrap piece of paper lying around the house) that Ellie phonetically sounds out. She's not afraid of big words, either. One shocker was when we read the following title:

Seriously girl? You wrote "Illustrated" phonetically??? Isn't that crazy?

The next section was Sciences (mostly 3's with a few 4's) and reads:
"Ellie has a wonderful understanding of science and the scientific method. She loves experiments and is usually the first to try to both come up with a hypothesis as well as try to figure out what happened. It is that inquisitive nature that we try to teach, not just the facts learned. Ellie has a great ever-widening knowledge of scientific facts and not only picks up ideas quickly, but also retains the information for a long period of time as well."

I do have to say that Ellie is SOOO proud of herself for being able to come up with solutions, both in "how do we get make something happen" as well as "how do we resolve conflict." She is always asking us "Mommy, am I good at coming up with solutions?" or telling us "I love myself because I'm good at coming up with solutions!"

Social Studies (mostly 3's) reads:
"Ellie has a wonderful understanding of important inforamtion of herself and to be able to use it to keep safe. She also has a great understanding of the world and people's differences. WHen learning about new social studies concepts, Ellie has a quick understanding that also leads to her wanting to know more about a topic."

I have to say it's the comment about "people's differences" that stands out for me. Everything this child does shows that she believes with every ounce of her body that it's ok to be different.

Mathematics (all 3's), Mr. John states:
"With Math, I do not give out 4's because I feel there is no advanced, you either know an aspect of math or you are developing that knowledge. Ellie is doing wonderful with math, she understands numerals and what they stand for and picks up quickly on some of the newer mathematical ideas that were introduced such as place value, greater than / less than, etc. She is quick to remember rote facts like additions and subtraction figures as well as quick to caculate answers. She enjoys the subject and looks forward to learning new ideas!"

Aww Math. Ellie likes to show off that she can do calculations in her head without using her fingers. She's a smart cookie.

OK... OK... I realize this is a long post about stuff that most people probably don't care to read, but here's where it REALLY got interesting for me. When it came time to talk about Art/Music/Physical Development, this is when I was in for s shock. Mr. John started with "And as I'm sure you know, Ellie is a true artist..."

A what? An artist? No, really, I didn't know that. Seriously, tell me more.

Here's what he wrote:
"Ellie creates very advanced artistic representatives and has a wonderful mastery of art techniques for her age. She loves to do art and is wonderfully precise with how she wants her artwork to look. She not only is capabel of creating very advanced artwork, but also is very creative as well. She addes touches and minor details that are beyond her years! She loves music and loves to create it as well as getting up and moving. Ellie understands the importance of movement and activity and looks forward to movement time each and everyday. She loves to learn new exercises or activities and then during free time later on tries to do the activity again."

I asked Mr. John for a couple examples of how Ellie's artwork demonstrates this advanced skill. This farm mosaic was one. Thank goodness I kept it. I guess I even knew SOMETHING was special about it. Mr. John said that most of the children would cut out large chunks of paper, sometimes even one piece per shape. Ellie, on the other hand, cut out tiny pieces of paper and actually made a MOSAIC. Where the other kids spent 15-20 minutes on the assignment, Ellie spent an hour and a half, over the course of 2 days, perfecting her mosaic.

The other example he gave was her dragon story. I have to say I love that one too. It makes me smile. Apparently the scales on the dragon's back, and the expressions on the dragon's face are detailed beyond her years. Wow. She's quite the perfectionist.

And in summary...
"Ellie has been an excellent student and wonderful leader for the Kindergarten classroom. She is excelling at every aspect in regards to her education and always serves as a model of great behavior throughout the day. She is very much first grade read and will undoubtedly continue to excel in her academic career!"

Keep it together, Mommy. I'm so proud of this gentle soul.

Monday, December 17, 2012

No Words, Only Actions

A few days ago a friend of mine told me this:
"So kind of you. You and Michael seem to have a bottomless reservoir of giving."

She doesn't know it (or maybe she does now that she's reading this post) how strongly that simple statement sat with me for days on end. The timing could not have been more perfect because it was those words that kept me strong the next few days.

Friday I was broken. What happened in Connecticut on December 14th left me broken even though I'm on the other side of the country. In my opinion, there are no words that can be said. Only actions, starting with a particularly long hug filled with happy tears when I saw my girls again.

Next I set out to do 28 good deeds for the 28 lives lost that day. Of course my husband offered to help, and so did my 5 year old daughter. So in the end, we did 56 good deeds, 2 for each loved one lost. Here's my list... I saved the best for last.

- 10 - Cake pops given to teachers at school as a small "Thank You"
- 5 - Starbucks gift cards for school administrators as a small "Thank You"
- 1 - Starbucks order for the person in line behind me
- 1 - Half tank of gas for a random stranger (that's all she needed)
- 1 - Full tank of gas for the next random stranger
- 2 - Teddy bears bought from the store and given to children walking in.
- 1 - Bag of food for the Food Share
- 1 - Offer to help a mother with her hands full carry her groceries to the car
- 3 - Starbucks gift cards to strangers at Target
- 2 - Toys for Toy Drive
- 2 - Offers for free gnomes, ended up compromising with half-priced
- 2 - Breakfasts for strangers paid for at Le Peep restaurant
- 1 - Larger than normal tip to breakfast waitress
- 1 - Christmas cactus bought as a surprise gift for a loved one
- 2 - homemade desserts given to loved ones

That brings the subtotal to 35 people touched, but I haven't told you the best ones yet. Remember how I said that Ellie and Addie wanted to help out too? Here are their contributions:

- 7 - Hand decorated ornaments given to elderly at nursing home

- 1 - Ellie offered to let Mommy and Daddy sit next to each other instead of fighting over who got to sit next to Mommy. She turned to me and said "Is that a good deed because it makes you smile?" I think it counts.

- 2 - Both Ellie and Addie got pink balloons from one grocery store. Then we went to another store and they decided to give their balloons to 2 other children! This was Ellie's idea and even Addie ended up deciding it was a good one!

- 3 - Ellie and Addie both drew pictures (see below) to pass out to random strangers, complete with a little note sure to put a smile on their face.

- 8 - Ellie and Addie had fun handing out 4 Handwritten reminders saying "You bring lots of smiles to those around you." Some people smiled and gave them hugs and returned the note so that we could make yet another person smile. The girls thought this was pretty funny.

Those gems add another 17 to the count, bringing the total up to 56 people touched by good deeds, all to honor those lives lost on Friday.

I do not make the claim that these small deeds make up for Friday's tragedy, but as I told my daughters, it's important to remember to not let the bad guys win.

On the way home from our good deed rampage, I had the following conversation with my girls...

Ellie: Mommy, I have something to tell you but it's important for you to not interrupt me because it's going to start out sounding mean but end up being really nice.

Mommy: Ok, I won't interrupt.

Ellie: I just don't think you're beautiful. I think you're WONDERFUL!

Mommy: WOW! What a nice compliment! Why do you say that?

Ellie: Because I like how you teach me that it feels good to make people smile. I didn't think it would feel so good but I like the way I feel in my tummy because I made lots of people smile today.

Mommy: That's just it, Ellie. That's the magic about giving. The more you give, the more you have.

Addie: Yeah and it's good that we're nice right, Mommy?

Mommy: Right, Addie!

And so I leave you with photos of the drawings that a few lucky unsuspecting strangers received tonight...

Life is good. Hold your little ones close tonight.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Diversity...

... I love that it's simply a non-issue for Ellie. Even her pictures prove it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Teenager Ellie

She has developed quite the fashion sense (keep in mind, this girl does have my genes), and her little sister certainly looks up to her. This photo speaks so loudly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012