Updates

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This was our entryway display for St. Patrick’s Day this year. I’m never happy with the decorations you find in stores (they can be tacky) but then I realized we have a zillion little fairy/elf dolls, and voila!

Katie

  • It was raining as we walked out of church today, and Katie was thrilled. “Thank you, God! Thanks for the rain!” she cheerfully chirped as she skipped through the parking lot alongside me
  • This kid really loves kindergarten. We’ve been doing reading exercises every day in The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, or as we call it, “the big blue book” and as such she’s excelling at reading at school. She’s not a super-precocious reader (I was one of those, and I am skeptical that it benefits children to be reading novels in the K-2 years) but she’s a crackerjack decoder; it’s fun seeing her piece together the phonemic patterns.
  • We usually do reading time in the school parking lot in the morning. Eleanor needs to arrive at school early for safety patrol, so we have 15-20 minutes to wait in the car. We do a lesson in the big blue book, and if there’s time I read a picture book to her and William. For a while I went through a phase of reading exclusively Hans Christian Andersen stories. “The Brownie and the Grocer” remains my favorite HCA tale.
  • Katie is the only one of my kids who talks about school. The other kids prefer to give a brief anecdote or one-sentence summary of the day, but Katie will happily chatter on about every song, story, game, and friendship power play that happened that day.
  • (Which is how I know that she’s growing pumpkin plants in her classroom right now)
  • As I write this, Katie is watching Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses movie and dancing along with the characters. It’s the only Barbie movie that isn’t completely terrible.
  • The number of stuffies that Katie sleeps with every night is reaching critical mass. She carries a good dozen of them around the house with her, and when she wants to take them up to bed, she asks me to help her bundle them up in her blankie so she can haul them around without dropping any. Ergo, she often sleeps with a giant blankie-covered lump of stuffed animals in her bed. Sometimes the Treasured Stuffie of the Moment gets to rest on top of the blankie blob, like some kind of perverse Princess and the Pea-meets-King of the Mountain

William

  • It’s often difficult to get William to open up and talk about his interior life. I think I’ve written about that here before. He will gladly explain every detail of a process — a puzzle he completed, a science experiment at school, the rules of a game he likes to play — but dreams, hopes, feelings? Not so much. (Unless he believes he’s being treated unfairly, in which case he gets in a snit.)
  • In fact, during William’s parent-teacher conference, his teacher’s biggest complaint about him is that he doesn’t speak up much in class (that, and his terrible handwriting)
  • He still wears one of the two hats he got as Christmas presents almost every day, although not quite as frequently as in January. It’s nice to see his hair from time to time (by the way, he needs a haircut, which he hates).
  • He is the most self-sufficient of our children; Frances (our family’s piano teacher) was amazed when I mentioned that I do not help him at all with his daily instrument practice. He loves checklists and goal charts and calendars and faithfully brings me his piano practice log to have me sign off when he’s finished making music
  • William loves hugs and snuggles but firmly believes in kiss reciprocity: when I cuddle and kiss him, he keeps count of the number of kisses I give him and returns the exact same number of kisses. If I try to sneak in one or two more he immediately gives the same number back. Leaving things uneven drives him crazy.
  • He is still Katie’s #1 playmate, although his patience is tried every time he plays with her. Katie likes to dictate the play scenario, which he can only stand for so long.

Eleanor

  • Our girl is turning 12 next month, and she is both excited and sad about leaving Primary. She has two incredibly good buddies in her Primary class (Esther and Audrey) and they get together for playdates as often as I can make it happen. Last night I took them to watch Beauty and the Beast after the Women’s Session of General Conference. They giggled and said silly things all the way to the theater.
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Yes, we’re wearing dresses. Did I mention that it was right after conference?
  • It’s good that E. has buddies at church because she’s having a lonely time at school right now. Most of her school friends graduated into middle school last year, and her other sort-of buddies hang out with cliques that she can’t break into (they contain girls who have literally said “Hey Eleanor, can you step away for a moment because we want to talk about stuff without you around?” BLECH). Recess is lame for her right now, and she can’t figure out what to do with herself. There used to be a preference for kids to play Four-Square (which she loved), but then kickball games started up again (they were banned for a while) and everyone quit playing Four-Square. Kickball for Eleanor usually means getting yelled at by hyper-competitive kids who can’t deal with flaws in other people. (Kids who get yelly during casual pickup games totally deserve all the terrible dysfunctional relationships they are doomed to have as adults. Said Brooke.)
  • FORTUNATELY middle school is on the horizon — which would initially seem like a bad thingbut our school goes to great lengths to help kids avoid these kind of lonely experiences: every lunch period has multiple structured activities to participate in, and she’ll be in the same grade as her church buddies, and hopefully will run with her grade-older friends again.
  • Eleanor picked out her preferences for middle school classes – -she’s going to take Compression Math (where she’ll learn all of 7th/8th grade math in one year), Honors English, Honors Science, Honors Social Studies, and Spanish. We don’t know what her other elective will be, but she’s hoping for Art, Digital Communications, or Chef School. I love my smart, hard-working girl!
  • Today I gave her an early birthday present: a “real” quadruple-combo set of scriptures with her name inscribed on the front. The reason for the earliness is because E. lost her previous set of scriptures (including the bag!) and needs new ones to finish the requirements for her Faith in God Award. We have no idea where the old scriptures went, it’s super annoying.
  • This week Eleanor and I watched the BBC miniseries version of Pride & Prejudice, the one with Colin Firth. I had to spend a lot of time “translating” the dialogue for Eleanor, but she was totally into the story and really liked it. I don’t think she was as interested in the romance as much as she found all the socially awkward situations hilarious. Which is what Austen intended.

Jeff

  • The YM in our ward had a silent auction a few weeks ago to raise money for Scout Camp. Jeff auctioned off a sushi dinner, which he cooked and delivered last Sunday. The family who bid on his cooking were totally impressed. He made multiple platters of maki rolls (I love the caterpillar the best!), vegetarian nigiri (made with shiitake mushrooms!), inarizushi, and even included a container of miso soup and a bunch of wafer cookies he picked out at the Asian grocery store. Way to go, Chef Jeff! (Although I admit that Brian had a good hand in helping the operation.)
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Mmmm, I am drooling
  • Jeff sent in his registration materials for high school this week. He’s also going to be taking first-year Spanish, which is fun because he and Eleanor can study together. He also wants to do digital communications or computer programming as his high school “pathway.” We’ll see where he ends up when his schedule arrives.
  • We’re a little concerned about Jeff’s participation in Coro Vivo with the Seattle Children’s Chorus. When his voice changed, Jeff lost a lot of his vocal control and has a very difficult time singing on pitch any more. His choir director wants him to get a vocal coach. I’m happy to do this, but I have no idea where we’ll find the time to make this happen. The idea of adding one more extracurricular to our schedule is enough to make my head explode.
  • Jeff is a wonderful reader and it makes me happier than anything. He just finished Neal Schustermans’ Scythe and is now reading the latest Steve Sheinkin nonfiction (Undefeated). BUT it seems like Jeff is getting more reserved and I’m not connecting with him as much as I used to.
  • A big reason for this is because Jeff is the “assistant stage manager” for the middle school play right now, and he doesn’t come home from school until almost 5:00 p.m., a time that I’m usually spending carpooling other kids around or cooking dinner. I miss having our quiet one-on-one time when he would arrive home 45 minutes before the other kids.
  • Being asst. stage manager is a position Jeff created for himself, with permission from the play director. I’m not really sure what it is he does during rehearsals (I ask him but his answers are vague and garbled), but I think it’s great for him to get involved in something with his school community.

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Me:

  • Nothing special here, I just wanted to mention that I finally got around to making a recipe from the Lemonade cookbook and it was SOOO good. I took the “Roasted Cauliflower, Almond, Golden Raisin, Curry Vinaigrette” to the salad potluck at Women’s Conference and boy, it was tasty. I had a few recipe requests. It was nice to recommend the cookbook to more people!
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I added chopped chicken breast to the recipe to make it more main dish-y.

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