Thursday, October 30, 2014

Spelling Bee

Big Boy's school is hosting a spelling bee.  Participation is optional.  To assist with preparation for those who want to participate, all of the students brought home a word list of about 450 words that are from grade 1-5 reading level.

Big Boy loves to read but spelling is not one of his strengths.  He spells phonetically and despite having a strong vocabulary and reading well above his grade level he seems to pay no attention to the way words are spelled.  In class each week he has a spelling test but otherwise phonetic spelling is not corrected at school in his grade so I generally don't worry about it.

I asked Big Boy whether he wanted to prepare for and participate in the spelling bee.  He participates in an extracurricular activity and our evenings and weekends are filled.  He doesn't need to take on another activity if he doesn't really want to.

Big Boy was on the fence.  Then he decided he wanted to participate because he wanted "to be good at something."  He is good at so many things (and I think he knows it) but what I'm assuming he meant was that he wanted to be good at something in front of the whole school, akin to playing a sport.

So we started to prepare.  I have no idea how to prepare for a spelling bee (and I'd love suggestions - we are still preparing because it's not taking place until next week!) so at first I thought I'd quiz him on the word list.  He got nearly all of the words wrong.  Then I had him study a small number of the words on the list before testing him.  He got most of those wrong as well.  We talk about how to spell each incorrect word, but it doesn't seem to help.  It seems like he struggles with spelling the words out loud instead of writing them down, so I've tried to have him visualize what they words would look like on a paper.  That didn't work either.  Nothing seems to work.

Now I'm worried about what to do.  Should I advise him to not participate so that he is not upset if he does poorly?  Or do I keep quiet and let him participate, prepare him the best I can, and then let the chips fall where they may?  He is a clever boy and he is so good at so many things, but if he is embarrassed during this spelling bee it might just crush him.  

This is an optional activity and he was not overly excited about maybe I should push him to sit this one out?  I just don't know.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Potty Party!

Tonight we are having a special supper and dessert to celebrate Baby Boy being potty trained!  

I declare him potty trained based on these facts:  

1.  He has been wearing underpants on our outings for about a month with only one accident.  It was a funny but terrible accident....he peed down his leg into his Croc shoe at Tuesday Morning a couple of weeks ago.  The pee actually formed a sad little puddle in the shoe.  It was easy to clean up - I took the Croc into the washroom and emptied it and then washed it out and changed his clothes.  The store floor wasn't even messy because the shoe held everything like a bowl.

2.  He has been waking up dry consistently for over 3 months.  But I haven't given up night diapers for protection because I hate changing wet bedding in the middle of the night.  We will use up our current packet of diapers during the nights and then evaluate whether he needs more or not.

3.  He tells me when he needs the potty and gives me enough time to get him to one.

4.  He is refusing to put on diapers or training pants except for sleep.  

That does it for me, he's trained!

I am so proud of him.  When the boys reach their milestones I'm usually a little sad.  I might shed a tear or nostalgically hang onto a souvenir.  Not for this.  I'm so happy to be over this hump - our whole family is trained now!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Picking Locks

I learned a new skill this evening - from Youtube!  I can now competently pick the bathroom and bedroom door locks in our house here.  Luckily no little boys were locked into the locked bathroom - Little Boy told me he used the "powers in his hands" to lock the bathroom door even though he was outside of the bathroom and there is no lock on that side of the door.  I have no idea what he did so I'm inclined to believe his explanation.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Just an update on today.  The kids were great at the zoo and my husband said they were no trouble at all!  They went to the party and a trick-or-treat even at the zoo.

After his nap I asked Little Boy what food they had at the party.  He told me:  "cupcakes, cookies, and choking hazards."

I told him on Saturday that gobstoppers were choking hazards and he thought that "choking hazard" was the name of the candy!  (It wasn't actually gobstoppers but candies that looked like them.)

Spa Day

I had a lovely day at the spa at the Houstonian today.  For our anniversary my husband got me a spa package to share with a friend (he didn't want to go).  Today I went with a friend and we had a lovely day.

We spent time in the different pools at the spa and then had massages, facials, and lunch.  It was a very relaxing day...

Meanwhile my husband took the kids to the zoo to a birthday party.  Apparently they were very well behaved and they had a blast.

Great day for everyone!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Little Boy Bakes....or...Why I bake with my boys.

On Saturday, Little Boy "baked" this cinnamon swirl bread:

What do I mean by "baked"?  Well, he didn't independently bake it - I helped and instructed him.  He is only 3 years old so he can't do the steps alone.  He cannot preheat an oven or neatly crack an egg or get out the ingredients.  He also could not read the instructions.

But, he could do some things.  He greased and floured the pan.   He helped measure ingredients, he added ingredients, and he did all of the stirring.  He also swirled the cinnamon mixture through and he tested the bread with a toothpick to see if we should bake it just a little longer.  And he served it to the family for bedtime snack.

Why bother?  I basically took a simple task (for me) and made it take a lot longer.  It became a messy job and required a lot of explanation, patience, and instruction.  You might think he didn't learn much...he doesn't know how to bake alone after baking with me a bunch of times and he probably could not explain what he helped with.

But he is he learned practical skills like how to grease and flour a pan and how to crack an egg.  He learned what a cake tester should look like when a cake is done.  He also learned less practical things like that baking is not scary.  He learned how important it is to know how to read instructions and he learned that yummy things can come from home as well as the shop.  He learned that he likes to make things for his family. 

Mainly though, he developed self-esteem.  He learned that he is a valuable team member, that he can accomplish things, and that he can complete tasks.  He can do real work that is necessary.  He is important and today one of the important things he did was to make our dessert.   He was so proud of his bread and enjoyed sharing it.  Successes like this make him confident.

I think having the kids help out is a lot of work but totally worth it....he probably can learn more from everyday experiences than workbooks and flashcards.  I plan to continue to invest our time in this way.

Busy Saturday

What a busy day....and we haven't even had supper yet!

We got up this morning and had a filling breakfast of porridge.  Then we cleaned up the boys and put on our Hallowe'en costumes.  Yep - a week before Hallowe'en!

We went to ArBOOretum, an event at the Houston Arboretum.  The event started at 10:00 a.m. for members (noon for everyone else) and even though we went right around that time it was already packed!  We had to park in the overflow parking and walk over.  The event tickets were $15.00 but as Arboretum members our admission was free.  We had a lot of fun, but I don't know if it would have been worth what admission would have cost for our family (I think $60.00).  

The event was fun but some of the other parents and children were very annoying, and because of the structure of the event we ended up going through all of the trick or treat stations with them.  Why is a queue such a puzzle?  You just stand behind the same person until it is your turn.  Also there was one mom who insisted on reading and commenting about the ingredients in the candy before she let her kids select their treats.  That took forever!  And a couple of kids who just couldn't decide what candy they wanted.  At each of the 9 stations where identical candy was on offer.  I just don't have the patience for some people!

Anyways....the trails at the Arboretum were transformed into a Hallowe'en spectacle.  First the kids went through a hay bale maze and then Little Boy went on a bouncy castle (Big Boy was too old).  Then we went down the trick or treat trail.  There were 9 trick or treat stations where the kids did various animal-themed activities to "earn" candy.  Their favourite was the zip line.

After the trick or treat trail the kids went on another bouncy castle and then we headed back to the car and rushed off to Little Boy's soccer game.  It was very hot and the game was a lunch/nap time.  It wasn't their best game but Little Boy had fun.

After that we hit Costco for a cheap lunch and then went home for naps.  I'm exhausted!