Thursday, October 28, 2010

sweetest boy ever

--i truly believe i have the sweetest boy who ever was. yesterday was aidan's tae kwon do testing date. he did all his forms, some sparring, and even worked with his weapon. at the end of the testing period, they sit and each kid is called to get their new designation of rank. the ones with just belts (of whatever color) get a headband of that color, and the ones with a headband move up to the next color of belt. aidan was a yellow belt with a yellow headband going to a camouflage belt. most of his class was a yellow belt going to a yellow headband, with two camo belts going to a camo headband. so, aidan was in a class by him self...literally.
--anyway, everybody sat through the presentations, and when they went from the yellow headbands to the camo headbands, at first i thought they were saving him for last for some reason. yeah, not so much. they didn't have his belt on the table, and completely forgot to promote him. without calling out or jumping up and down, i tried to get one of the instrutors' attention. that didn't work. they finished the presentations and then moved everybody over for pictures. aidan was the last one to get up. his instructor came over to him, and i though i couldn't see aidan's face since his back was to me, i could tell by mr. gunzel's face that aidan was upset. he asked aidan what was wrong. i couldn't hear what he said, but mr. gunzel looked up at me with a concerned/apologetic smile, and called ms. moren over and ran to get his new belt. they were both upset that they had missed him, and ms. moren announced that they had one more presentation to make. that aidan was sooo mature that he sat quietly and then politely asked mr. gunzel if he made rank. then she praised his efforts and said the next class level better watch out, because he's moving up to "karate for kids" in january, from the "tiny tigers" class.
--when he got his belt he was beaming, sweet boy. he was very proud. when i got to talk to him, i asked him what he said to mr. gunzel. he said he said, "my mama told me i was going to get my camo belt today....." then he told me, "i was about to cry." him! and so proud of him too. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

a dash of southern

--we had a weekend of visitin'. my mom (li-li), my sister (aunt emily), my aunt joan, and my grandparents (meema and dee-daddy) came up by train for the weekend...well, emily drove over. we had a blast!
--it had been a long while since we've all been in va beach together, and it had been over a year since i saw meema, dee-daddy, and aunt joan, so it was soooooo nice to have them. we didn't get crazy and try to do too much, we just relaxed and talked and laughed and enjoyed the weekend. though, mama was convinced to ride the teeter-totter with sierra. ;)
--good times + good food + good family = goooooood!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

toeing the line

where exactly is that line at which i should start caring about what clothes i let my child leave the house wearing, versus the self-esteem building principle of letting her choose her own outfit??
have we crossed that line? i'm not sure which side of the line we're on, but we're toeing it all the same. i happen not to care so much about what she picks out so long as it's weather-appropriate and somewhat activity-appropriate. i almost reconsidered that philosophy when she walked out this morning. however, i let it/her go. and biased as i may be, she's still gorgeous. needless to say, my girl has no self-esteem problems! ;)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

pocket full of acorns

--we had a blast on our camping excursion this past weekend. (first of all, i let the kids have a dress-rehersal the weekend before in the living room...they thought it was fun sleeping in the tent.) we went to kiptopeke state park in cape charles, va, friday evening after work...after the camp store was closed. it said on the website not to bring your own firewood, and since the store was closed, while i set up the tent, i set the kids to work scrounging for wood. good thing i had packed cold fried chicken for dinner that night, because our meager supply of firewood only managed to cook considering that's all we needed to cook, it all worked out.

--after we made camp, we went for a walk to get our bearings, find the facilities, and see the sunset over the bay. got some great shots of the kids down by the water. after our walk we came back for dinner and dessert. s'mores received two thumbs up...but that wasn't a surprise.

--getting them to bed wasn't too hard, but not that easy either. we read stories and they crawled into their sleeping bags. however, sierra kept peeking out of the tent to see where i was, and chatting with aidan, so the whole go to bed with the sun thing didn't quite work out according to plan...though i knew they'd be up with the sun.

--the next morning we prepped for hiking. there were several trails to choose from, but in order to have the highest chance for children's enjoyment, i chose the one that included a butterfly garden and the bird-banding station. migratory birds fly over kiptopeke every year, and the volunteers have set up a banding station to tag and keep track of several species. it was really interesting to see.

--at the butterfly garden, we met a conservationist tagging monarch butterflies. she caught them in a net, put stickers on the underside of their wings and then released them. kids got to “help” her release them.

--when we moved on to the banding station, they had just brought in several birds. all over the park they have tiered nets set up that capture the birds, and every hour they go check the nets. after they band, weigh, measure, and chart each bird, they're released. kids got to touch many different kinds of birds, and even release a few themselves. they thought it was pretty awesome...which it was. (sorry for the retarded sideways videos...i really have to remember that i can't turn the camera that way for video....oops.)

--while we were at the banding station, there was a call on the radio that they'd captured two hawks and were taking them to the hawk observatory to let everybody see before they released them. so we made our way that way. we got to see a male and female cooper hawk and hear all about them. the male was a bit unhappy to be there, but wasn't too stressed, however was at times somewhat loud. the female was much larger than the male, and they said she could pick up a bird the size of a pigeon in her talons...while still in in the pigeon's flying and the hawk grabs it. pretty impressive. we actually "adopted" her. with a donation, as each bird is banded, they'll notify you if and when the bird is ever found again anywhere in the world...pretty cool.

--after lunch, and after i untangled the fishing line the kids managed to turn into knots, we tried our hand at fishing. sierra's attempt lasted an entire 20seconds before she tossed her pole on the ground (into the water) and she was in the water herself. aidan lasted longer, but eventually gave up. i didn't expect us to catch anything, but we had fun trying anyhow...then they had more fun playing and getting completely covered in sand and water. needless to say, shower time in the bath house was our next adventure.

--they played for a while until we ate, made s'mores again, and read some more stories before bed. the next morning...bright and ungodly early...we were up and about. i went ahead and packed up the camp after breakfast, and decided to try to actually make it past the butterfly garden this time when we hiked. sierra asked and asked when we would go hiking all morning, then while we were still within sight of the parking lot, she decided her “legs hurt” from walking so far. (click on the picture can see the cars behind us. photo by aidan...sierra took the next one.) i'm not sure what i said to turn that wonderful situation around, but we took advantage of her distraction and had a great hike. we looked for bugs, tracks, birds, feathers, leaves, animals, and just enjoyed the longest mile ever! unbeknownst to me, sierra filled two pockets with acorns that i found later that evening in the washing machine...good thing they're hardy little buggers and didn't destroy the laundry. we did leaf rubbings, saw beetles and spiders, and talked about not eating berries of unknown species. fabulous!

--so, final verdict is that camping is super fun...perfect weather helped make their first trip the first of many...we're already planning our next adventure. :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

once around the sun

--where to begin...where to begin...

--it's hard to believe i haven't sent out an update in an entire year (unless you count facebook status updates); but then it's also not so hard to believe. life has been very different and sometimes difficult this past year, though all in all it was a very good year. here's my disclaimer: this will be an insufficient recap of the past year, and pictures will not really relate to what i've written, however hoping you'll all enjoy it anyway.

--the kids and i are currently installed in our 3-bedroom townhouse in what billy somewhat-teasingly calls the ghetto...though i don't agree with that assessment. we've definitely cut our square-footage down, reduced our collection of possessions, and downgraded our use of certain utilities...all of which are really a good thing. but have no fear; we are safe and sound and thriving, surrounded by friendly neighbors, in a good school system, and very comfortable and happy.

--aidan started kindergarten this year. he goes to half-day class in the afternoon. i was somewhat disappointed that he wasn't in the morning class, though i was secretly hoping he'd be in the all-day class. morning class would have allowed him to ride the bus to school, which would have saved me morning daycare costs...and all-day (in addition to giving him more learning time) would have reduced it even more. however virginia beach uses the all-day classes for remedial purposes to make sure all kids leaving kindergarten are at the same they don't always begin it at the same level. needless to say, aidan blew the test out of the water...which of course made me super proud, while also making it necessary to pay for extra childcare. oh well. aidan was upset that he didn't get to ride the bus though, but understands he will ride next year. this year his daycare takes him to school and picks him up.

--it was sierra's first experience with any school setting when she started daycare this year. she took to it like i don't know what. i think there were two days when she didn't want me to leave her...but for the most part she runs off without looking back, as she's already screamed hello to multiple little friends before i've even signed them in at the door. she is, however, equally excited to see me when i pick her up, so that's good. she tells me that her favorite part of the day is playing with her friends.

--aidan is now beginning to read. he does quite well when he sits still and pays attention...though that's a pretty typical issue for a five-year-old boy. he was actually reading some beginner books before he started school. and since starting i've noticed that his writing and spelling have greatly improved. each day at dinner when i ask him what he did at school, he usually tells me about what game he played at recess until i ask him direct questions about what he learned. his typical response is "i don't remember" until prompted a bit more. (sierra's favorite response to what she did is "i didn't do nothin, mama" with the sly sideways look/grin. then, "i play in the playstation!") sweet boy that he is, aidan usually says his favorite part of the day is when i come to pick him up.

--he's been doing tae kwon do since january and getting quite good at it. he's enjoying class, getting better, and learning to focus...which honestly was my reason for choosing martial arts over sports at this point in his life. he's now a yellow-belt "decided." (they get the new belt/degree the first testing round when they're "recommended" for that level, then the headband when they test 8weeks or so later for the "decided" degree.) he's gone from white to orange to orange-decided to yellow to yellow-decided. he tests for his camo belt at the end of october. anyhow, it's interesting to see how he (and really his whole class) has progressed. they're not all the same belt/degree, but they're all improving. when i first started taking him, i was surprisingly disappointed in his "abilities." thinking i have a very coordinated child, as he's always been good at backyard sports and can't wait to play, loves to flip over and on furniture, can do a headstand for nearly a minute; watching him stand there unresponsive like he didn't understand that someone was speaking to him was not a comfortable moment for me. so, needless to say, we went home and practiced. i think some of it was that he didn't understand half of what they were asking him to he's never been allowed to hit or kick anything without getting in trouble, they're saying things in korean, and it's kinda loud in there with little ones "hi-yah'ing" at the top of their lungs all over the place. it took him about three classes to get comfortable enough to hi-yah out loud...then he turned around and grinned at me. he still has his spaz-out moments, but he has learned a lot and does really well in class. his favorite part is sparring because he's now in the leadership class where they spar and work with weapons. he does these random jump-spin-kicks...where the most damage he does to his partner is that he ends up on the floor instead of actually hitting him. oh, and lord help us if i forget the bag with all his gear that and complete melt down. but that's only happened once.

--sierra has grown so unbelievably much this past year. it's amazing. the difference between age two and three is crazy! she speaks in full-length stories, is totally potty-trained except for some nights (sorry for that to all who hate the nitty-gritty details i give...haha), and insists on doing most everything by herself. and when i say insist, she insists! i call her my italian princess...never thought something with skin and eyes that dark would come out of me...and even without my moniker, she truly believes she's a princess. (we did give her a princess birthday party maybe I have fed the image just a little...hmmm.) anyhow, she's the most stubborn thing i've ever met. billy tells me that's because she's a hunt-lady. now i consider myself pretty flexible and easy going, though can definitely be stubborn at certain times. but she wants to argue like it's her calling...sometimes just to do it...sometimes just for a reaction...and sometimes she really means it. and when she means it, she most definitely means it. she pitched the fit of all fits one morning when the dress she wanted to wear wasn't clean. she wore her "merica fwag" (american flag) dress two days before, yet it was time to wear it again. she cried like the world ended when i told her she'd have to pick something else. after several minutes of waiting for her to calm down...which didn't happen...i told her to pick something or i would. she grudgingly and screamingly chose something else then stood there and screamed and cried some more when i told her to put them on. a few minutes later she was still standing, clutching, screaming, and crying. so i told her to put them on or i'd put them on her. she screamed louder. so i put them on her. then she took them off and put them on herself. she wouldn't walk downstairs so i carried her down and sat her at the table, where she wouldn't say what she wanted to eat, didn't eat what i gave her to eat, and screamed some more. so after her non-breakfast, i didn't give her the option of choosing or even putting on her own shoes, put some on her and put her in the car...where she continued to scream and cry all the way to school. the only good thing about that morning was that they don't need much prep time in the morning and our drive isn't very i only had to listen to screaming for 45minutes. as soon as we got to school some little friend said "hi sarah." she stopped immediately...waterworks just turned off...and she said, "hi wee-yum" (william). gotta love it...

--so, this was obviously not an all-inclusive detailed description of our past year...apologies all around. however i plan to update pretty frequently, so check back. happy fall!