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!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Kassidy's Birthday

One tradition in our family is that on their birthday, our kids get to go choose a place to get some ice cream (or often frozen yogurt).  Well, Kassidy's birthday was on Sunday when we don't shop, so we decided to go out Saturday to get her birthday treat.  Then we had a rather dramatic dinner where I fought for a solid half hour to get Kassidy to eat one bite of meatball - literally - and when I had decided we weren't going, Kassidy finally took a bite.  Welcome to life with Kassidy...  By now it was getting late, so we just headed to one of our closest ice cream shops.  

The girls each chose a flavored sherbet, watermelon and lime.
 Gavin decided to celebrate being 8 months old by trying butterscotch milkshake with Daddy and LOVED it after a hesitant first bite.
 Kassidy loved her watermelon ice cream.
 The big girls being goofy to show us their colored tongues.

Then today Kassidy picked her dress out for church and I got her ready to go.  She looked so cute I grabbed a few pictures of our birthday girl.  Actually, I took a lot of pictures of a very wiggly Kassidy...

After church Kassidy's nursery leaders gave her a gift, and they hit it out of the park with a stuffed stegosaurus.  She is definitely our dinosaur girl.  We also gave her a new outfit as a small gift where she will get her gifts from us at her birthday party.  Again, she got a "dinosaur skeletons!" shirt as she is so in love with all things dino right now.
 After dinner we just did a small treat, so she had candles in chocolate pudding.  It was fun to think back to when she hated all chocolate as a baby.  She was so excited to sing happy birthday to herself.

A couple fun Kassidy quotes as of late.  When I took Gavin's helmet off for a break this evening she brought the helmet to me and told me "He wants to be an astronaut." This is the way she has looked at his helmet the whole time, and especially at first it helped us to not feel so bad about his helmet that he was being an astronaut.  Today she also found a piece of paper I was practicing watercolors on for her birthday gift and she saw the bleeding colors and promptly announced, "Uh-oh... The rainbow is broken!"  That girl sure does come up with fun ways to look at things.

Kassidy is often so challenging for us.  That remains true.  She is so fun when she is fun, but is much less mature and yet more independent than her sisters were at the same age.  We have lots of fits but lots of laughs and snuggles too.  I love watching her excitedly bounce over and over when she is so happy about the smallest things in life.  We sure do love our little ginger!  Happy 3rd birthday to our Kassidy-Coo!

Mckayla's Run-In with the Law

This last Monday Mckayla's preschool went on a field trip.  I haven't gone with her on any field trips because I have our Wild One (aka Kassidy) and a baby to keep track of and feel like more of a distraction than a help.  However, Grandma and Grandpa offered to take the kids so I could focus on MG.  So, I drove Mckayla and a couple other girls to our local Courthouse to talk to a deputy from the Sheriff's department.

The kids first got to talk to the woman who runs dispatch.
 Then they got to take a look at a jail cell.  Mckayla said she thought the room looked pretty comfortable - probably because she didn't have to share it with Kassidy...
 Mckayla was the only one who was willing to climb into the driver seat.  There's a metaphor there somewhere...
 Then her and some of her classmates checked out the back seat, and we hope that's the only experience she ever has in the back of a law enforcement vehicle.
 Mckayla is not shy, so she enjoyed talking to the deputy.
I love that Mckayla's preschool class did this.  It's so important for children to see law enforcement officers as helpers who they can go to in time of need and not be afraid of.  The officer was really kind to the kids and they had a lot of fun during their brief visit.

My favorite moment came during our short drive back to preschool.  Mckayla was asking lots of questions and I was trying to field them.  Suddenly Mckayla went quiet and then I heard her whisper to one of her classmates, "My mom is really smart."  Where I am often doubted until Dad reinforces what I have said, it was a great thing to hear she thinks I know what I'm talking about.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter 2017

Alright, so this blog was originally meant to keep family that lived far from us up to date on all the fun things the kids were doing.  Well, we still have half our family far from us, so although this blog is literally years behind, I am going to try and get back at it.  My problem in the past was trying to catch up.  I realized that getting back to blogging is more important than trying to catch everything up from the last year and a half or so, so I am starting today and trying to keep it current instead.  With that being said, here are the fun things we did for Easter.

We started with an egg hunt on Saturday.  The big girls had been at a birthday party, and Kassidy had refused to nap, as had a teething Gavin, so if you wonder why everyone looks tired... They were.  We tried to split up the big girls and Kassidy to make sure Kassidy got her share of more readily apparent eggs.  Instead, Kassidy was - well, Kassidy.  She threw a fit and refused to get any eggs in her section because she wanted to go be with the big girls.  She wouldn't even pick up this egg right in front of her, or the others she ran to and then ran away from frustrated...
Mckayla found eggs on the porch.  We were at Grandma and Grandpa's since they like - have a yard.
 Kassidy was much happier when we gave up and let her go to the big girls' section and just dropped some of her eggs there.
 Ellie finding some of the more hidden eggs.
 Kassidy was finally content to go find eggs in her section when it wasn't a requirement.  I love that girl...
 Mckayla excited that she found one of the four "mismatched eggs" which had a little bit of change in them.  That girl is so excited about money right now.
 Grandma had gotten each of the girls "winder-rounders" and they enjoyed playing with those for a while once they had collected all the eggs.
 Ellie with her "winder-rounder."
 You can't tell in these pictures, but the wind was blowing and those things were spinning FAST.
  It was such a beautiful spring day!  Even if the wind was a bit chilly.
During this time the guys were content to hang out on the porch.  I love this picture of three generations of Bennett men.  
 Daddy and his boy.
 Gavin meeting Kingston.
 Our happy little guy.
That pretty well took care of Saturday's fun for us.  

Sunday we had a pretty busy day where we had a TERRIBLE night with MG being overly tired from the birthday party and waking up crying till she was hyperventilating and scared she couldn't breathe.  And, I was teaching Relief Society...  But, we did manage to get a few quick pictrures of the kids all dressed up in their Easter best before church.

Because things were so frantic in the morning we didn't end up doing baskets until after church.  As a result they were a bit rushed so we could get to dinner at Aunt Sheri's in time, but the girls still had fun and Gavin got some treats and a couple small things too.  Here the girls were excitedly watching Daddy bring out their baskets.
 The big girls got fishing poles as they are so excited to go fishing this summer.  They also got some small toys and treats.  I forgot to get pictures of their baskets ahead of time this year...
 Mckayla was excited about her striped socks and about getting some new shirts that aren't hand-me-downs.
 Kassidy must have shouted "I got my own panda!" for a solid 5 minutes.  It was glorious...
 Ellie clearly didn't read the box to realize it was a puzzle before she opened it and was pretty excited.
 And here's Gavin showing off his new Broncos tie and rattle.
 The big girls were excited to take a picture with their new stuffed animals.

 This year was a little strange with unknown territory for us as we have never done anything with the Easter Bunny before and the big girls suddenly had a great deal of interest in what the Easter Bunny brought.  It did lead us to a good laugh though when I was explaining to Ellie that we do our egg hunt on Saturday to have more time to focus on the real meaning of Easter on Sunday - the Resurrection of Jesus Christ - and that actually helps take some pressure off the Easter Bunny.  At which she responded, "Yeah, they do egg hunts on Sunday in Canada probably."  Goofy girl.

Also, one of my many accidental traditions that I love - here are the kids' baskets that their Easter gifts come in each year.  We added Gavin's basket this year, and I love that they are all hand-decorated with ribbon, but all different too.

 So, that was our Easter.  We hope you all had a great day and got to reflect on the joy that we can have from the miracle of the Resurrection of the Savior.  We are so grateful to know that He lives!