Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mini Summer adventures Part 1

Here are a few of the fun things we did with the kids that we actually remembered to take some pictures of...

First, in June we went and rode horses at the neighbor's house.  Our neighbor Lena is so good about getting the kids on her best trained ponies and horses.  We planned to do a lot more of this through the summer, but between farm work and my work schedule it didn't happen more than a couple of times sadly.

Lena was great working with Ellie on leading Twix by the reins on her own.
 And each of the girls got a ride, of course.
 Kassidy mostly rode with Mckayla, but in typical Kassidy fashion was much more interested in the other horses, cats, cows, or any other animals around.
 Or, this pink ball.
 Even Gavin enjoyed sitting in the saddle for a few minutes.
Steve and I also got turns because Lena and the girls insisted, but those were some really bumpy, awkward rides on such a little pony...

Another day we took the girls fishing again at a local reservoir.  Ellie's early fishing luck continued.  We couldn't believe she caught this fish - before we even had all the kids out of the car!  We decided it was a little Blue Gill.
 Mckayla got her own massive catch as well - a little Perch.  Those were our only other catches of the summer between our few, quick fishing trips.  We hope to do more fishing next year as the girls loved it.

Another fun hobby we had this summer was watching killdeer nests.  Our first nest got destroyed, but this second one got marked so it would be safe.  Then one day Mama killdeer was going nuts - which honestly is amazing to me to see to this day - doing the broken wing act.  We went and checked the nest and sure enough it was empty!
 We eventually had to listen closely and watch where mama went to check after we walked away and found three little baby chicks!
 Steve was careful to wash his hands in alcohol before he touched this baby to show the kids and then we put them back.  After just a few days the chicks are mobile and we didn't see them anymore - although we "enjoyed" listening to killdeer in the early morning hours all summer long...

Ever wonder what 144,000 lady bugs looks like?  They fit into just two canvas bags...  We had a weevil problem in one of our hay fields and Steve and Ray decided to try using ladybugs to kill the weevil where the timing wasn't right to spray insecticide.  So, when the ladybugs arrived, it was a family affair releasing the lady bugs into the fields.
 Steve took the two little girls (Kassidy was in front) out on a four wheeler to release his sack.
 And Ellie accompanied Papa.
 While Grandma and Gavin hung out.  These two are such good buddies and it's awesome.

So, there are a few of our mini adventures from the first part of summer.  We had a pretty fun June, even working around pipe and my swim lesson and guarding schedule.

Free Fishing Day

The second Saturday of each June is Free Fishing Day here.  We missed last year, but wanted to make sure that we got to take the kids this year.  There is a fish hatchery here that does fishing for just kids on free fishing day each year, and we figured that was our best shot of the kids catching anything, so we headed there first.

We did mess up in assuming that June 10th would have nice weather, so when the day started off chilly and drizzling, we didn't actually have any coats for the kids...  But they had fun anyway.

The Gav-man watching everything from the background.

We couldn't put poles in until 9:00, and at about 9:010 and 20 seconds Ellie had one of the first bites of the day, leading to one of the first fish of the day.  She was a little excited...  She caught her second fish about 3 casts later.  You can see how thrilled MG was for all of her big sister's success...
 Our next fish came two at a time as Kassidy and Mckayla both caught their first fish at the exact same time.  Kassidy also was jumping up and down, and soon after one of the rangers was over talking to us about all the excitement.  The staff there were great interacting with the kids, ours and others who needed more help.
 Kassidy caught her second fish soon after, but MG kept losing fish and breaking lines.  Also, all the fish with no caution got caught pretty quickly, so by 20 minutes in everyone around the pond was getting a lot fewer bites.  Poor Mckayla was getting a bit frustrated as she had seen her sisters catch fish so quickly.  Eventually though, she caught her second fish (limit 2 each) and all of the smiles were well worth the wait.

  Here were the big fisher-women with their catches.

Right after we went to a reservoir in the area, and Ellie reeled a fish in to where she could see it before losing it - once again on her very first cast.  I'm afraid she may have rather unrealistic expectations when it comes to how successful she will be each time she goes fishing.  However, this was such a fun day and was one of Steve and my very favorite memories from the summer.  We will definitely be making this fishing trip a yearly tradition!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

End of School 2017

On May 24th Mckayla had her preschool graduation.  I was at my American Red Cross WSI class for work - and not happy about it.  Steve and Ellie went to graduation while Grandma and Papa Bennett watched Kassidy and Gavin so he could get pictures of MG.  Technically Mckayla still has one more year of preschool, but we put her in the 4-5 year old class last year to challenge her, not knowing that Idaho won't let you put a child in Kindergarten before their 5th birthday.

Mckayla had a great year with Miss Cherie, her preschool teacher.  She had some ups and downs with following the rules and interacting with her classmates, thinking she should be able to have her way all the time, but we have seen a lot of improvement in her writing and coloring as a result of preschool.  Mckayla also started reading some BOB books at home this year, which has been fun.  Here are some pictures from her graduation.
 The kids all sang some songs on the stage first.
 These next two pictures are of a goofy song where the kids eventually have thumbs up, elbows back, bums out, knees together, tongues out, and eyes shut while turning around.

 Then all of the kids got diplomas and trophies.  Steve said all of the kids got a trophy just for finishing the year, but if you ask Mckayla she got the hand trophy for being the best at shaking hands.  Classic Mckayla stories...

 Mckayla and Miss Cherie.  I love that if you look at her diploma picture, our happy girl who always makes goofy faces for pictures made a mad face - supposedly because the light was bright in her face.
 Steve also loves that there is a typo on her certificate so that it says Mckayla "competed" preschool, because he says that is more accurate.

May 25th was Ellie's last day of first grade.  What do say about Ellie's year?  She liked her teachers.  That's right, teachers.  We ended up switching Ellie just after 3rd quarter started.  Although her teacher was nice enough, we kept hearing different stories at home about a lack of control and classroom management that had us concerned.  We met with the principal and teacher a few times and thought we had things fixed to hear more troubling things from Ellie that seemed like the teacher was just trying to cover her tracks more with us.  The worst part was that Ellie had gone from a mostly self-directed table in Kindergarten and having no trouble and a great attitude to having a terrible attitude about her school work and only doing what she thought she absolutely HAD to.  We worried that although Ellie could coast through the year (her grades were fine) and be ok to start next year, that the work ethic, attitude, and expectations she was creating for school now would follow her through the rest of her life.  So, we changed teachers, because we had completely lost faith in her teacher as sad as it was.  Ellie's very first day in her new class she came home with about 10 times more school work she'd gotten done in the day.  Her class even felt different.  Kids were more on task and focused.  It was a great change for Ellie.  Ellie left Kindergarten at a beginning second grade reading level according to her state test.  At halfway through the school year Ellie only had 34 reading points in her old class.  She finished the year in her new class at 167 reading points.  That's the kind of difference we saw as she switched teachers. It was also fun to see Ellie get really into these chapter books about fairies by Daisy Meadows, even though they're honestly too easy for her...  Ellie's test scores the end of the year had her reading around a 4th grade level. She did have some ups and downs feeling like she had friends in her new school this year, but Ellie also tends to be a bit dramatic and emotional...  Our biggest issue was that Ellie consistently found other girls who she was convinced were her friends, but sounded to us like they were bullies.  Hopefully our many talks about how real friends act will eventually lead to Ellie standing up for herself more...  All things considered though, we came out the other end of the school year fairly well, if more nervous about who her second grade teacher will be.  Here was Ellie on the last day of 1st grade.

It's so crazy to me that next year we will have a second grader as well as two kids in preschool.  Mckayla will go to a new preschool next year to get ready for kindergarten and Kassidy will go back to Mckayla's old preschool for her first year in the 3 year old class.  Here's hoping that she doesn't lead a revolt and try to take over the preschool in the first couple of weeks.  We already apologized to the teacher for our "Wild One."  But she sure is fun!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Kassidy's Birthday Party

We celebrated Kassidy's birthday on May 6th, when cousins were with their parents so the kids could play together.  Where it is only Kassidy's third birthday we just planned to have a laid back family birthday party.  However, we somehow gave ourselves a lot of projects to do  in order to be ready for the party on Saturday...

The main project that comes with any of the kids' birthdays is making a cake.  Kassidy decided WEEKS ago that she would have a triceratops cake, and there was no changing her mind however I might try.  I finally decided that making a triceratops silhouette would be acceptable.  Then, because I seem to try something brand new with every cake, I made marshmallow fondant for the first time and made dinosaurs out of the fondant.  These are a few of her most commonly talked about dinosaurs.
The main dinosaur would of course be the triceratops.  I also played with a new cake decorating tip that my parents got me and that is what made all the orange stars.  Kassidy picked out the pink and blue beads and decided she wanted white frosting, but a rainbow of colors, which gives some insight into the seemingly random colors chosen.
 Here is her Eudimorphodon on the side of the cake.
 And the Tyrannosaurus Rex on the back side of the cake.
 I didn't have room for the Apatosaurus.  Here is my overly large triceratops down the side of the cake.  I actually liked him going off the side like this, even if it wasn't intentionally done that way to start with.
I was pretty pleased with how the cake turned out.  It was rainbow chip inside (per Kassidy's request) with strawberry and cream cheese filling.

The other big project we had that I didn't take pictures of was that we decided it would be fun to set up our downstairs family room with the surround sound system and projector and watch a movie for Kassidy's birthday.  Since she loves dinosaurs, we watched The Good Dinosaur, and ate Papa Murphy's pizzas (her favorite food).  This was a much bigger project than we gave ourselves time to accomplish and Papa Bennett and Steve put in a lot of hours Friday night and Saturday to get it done.  However, listening to all the kids giggle together, and sitting on our used sectional we recently got for that space while looking at a room full of family watching a movie in OUR basement - an awesome moment for me today...

After the movie and pizza we came upstairs to open presents.  Here is our birthday Triceratops excitedly running around with her balloons and happily wearing her "dinosaur skeleton" shirt.
 We got her some more shirts that weren't hand-me-downs and fit her interests right now.  We had her open those first, knowing they wouldn't be very exciting further into the gifts...
 Here she was excited about a new dinosaur book from Grandma and Papa Rose.  She got comfy and had to flip through the book before she moved on to more gifts.
 She gained a beautiful bow from Aunt Julie's gift and as soon as she saw it said "Ok, let's go." and tried to open the box.  However, it was getting late so we were shoving gifts at her and kept her opening presents.
 Steve and I got her a stick pony and she was excited and announced "I have a pony princess!" which is a favorite phrase of hers from Storybots Silly Songs.
 One of her favorite things was this little train set from Grandma and Papa Bennett with Dinosaur Train characters.
 I made her wait till the end to open the last few gifts, knowing we probably wouldn't get her back after she saw them.  First, her new stuffed triceratops from Grandma and Papa Rose.  A triceratops is the only answer she would give us when we asked what she wanted for her birthday, so we knew she would be excited.
 Next came this project of mine.  I saw a wall decal on amazon that was a little girl leading a triceratops.  It was so perfectly Kassidy - who will introduce herself as Triceratops to people.  But it was black and boring.  Then I saw this great rainbow watercolor of a triceratops on etsy.  I wanted to combine the ideas, but wasn't sure I could pull it off.  Some visits to the craft store, calls for advice to my sister Jennifer who paints with watercolors, and a LOT of hours and self-doubt later, I was really pleased with how her picture turned out.  It so captures Kassidy at 3 for me right now, and I hope she loves it for a long time and understands that it was a gift of labor and love, which makes it my favorite gift I've given her, because there's a bit of me in it.
Her last gift was the giant rainbow triceratops my parents got her, and she immediately started playing with the two triceratops together - almost like we discussed she would.

Don't you love when you inadvertently coordinate gifts?  So here is our little ginger with her rainbow triceratops next to the picture of the little ginger girl leading her rainbow triceratops!

After presents we got right on to cake as it was way later than we had originally planned for.  Kassidy held her two triceratops the whole time and happily started the birthday song to herself again.
 She did pretty well blowing out candles one at a time, even if Steve had to lift her chin so she stopped blowing under the third candle.

And that wrapped up our party.  All in all, I think it was a big success for our little dino-lover.  Kassidy tries our patience, but she is also so spunky, hilarious, and loving.  She is exceptionally bright and I love her original and creative way of looking at things.  We sure love our little Triceratops!  Happy birthday, Kass!