Saturday, December 25, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Katharine lost her very first tooth yesterday at ECDC. It happened in the morning when they were listening to the "washing machine" song and dancing. She said she was spinning around so fast that it made it fall out and she felt it on her lip! Last night the tooth fairy came and brought her a dollar!!
Katharine is featured her sporting her new haircut - a little bit shorter to give the bangs a chance to catch up as we continue to grow them out.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
The day after Thanksgiving, several of the cousins headed out for a zoo trip. It rained a bit but that didn't stop us from taking it all in. We really loved seeing the Gorillas, walking through the Wallaby exhibit, riding the carousel, and milking the pretend cow.
The kids all had a great time (despite the straight face Katharine is giving here).
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Matt was enchanted with this cheery fellow. When we first encountered him Matt was in the stroller wearing his sunglasses. We pulled up in front of Santa, Matt looked at him, pulled down his sunglasses a bit, and peered at Santa over the top of his sunglasses in disbelief. It was priceless.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The weekend started with a shopping trip and ice cream with Scott and Ashleigh (see previous post) on Saturday. In the evening KK went to CSU with her Daddy to see a play. On Sunday morning she opened her presents from her family -- most exciting presents: new clothes from Nanna, a VTech VReader from Grandma and Grandpa Willert, a new fuzzy pink coat from Mom and Dad, and new pj's with silky pants from Grandmomma and Poppa. On Sunday afternoon she had a party at the Pirate playground at Folly Beach where LOTS of her school friends came plus Grandmomma and Poppa, Scott, Ashleigh and baby William, Olga, Mark and Nela! The kids had a blast busting a pinata, eating cupcakes, and running wild on the playground. She got lots of exciting presents from her friends including some fairies from Tinker Bell, My Little Pony toys, some arts and crafts items, a few books, and some puzzles. And she received a beautiful holiday dress from Olga, Mark, and Nela. The girl made out good! Thanks to everyone for caring, giving, and celebrating with us!
On Sunday evening as Katharine was brushing her teeth she looked in the mirror and said, "Phew, I'm finally 5!"
Katharine had a blast spending time with baby William (whom she adores) and Scott and Ashleigh. I think she felt very grown up and enjoyed having her good buddies all to herself. She told them she definitely wanted to do it again and definitely did NOT want Matthew to come.
She cruised the aisles of WalMart and finally settled on a princess party pack - a set of 4 tiaras, pageant banners (which she decided were the princess names), microphones, and jewelry. Ashleigh said once she settled on that, there was no changing her mind. She is definitely a very girly-girl but you got give her credit for knowing what she likes.
After the shopping, the gang headed to Jack's cosmic dogs to have an ice cream. Ashleigh asked her what her favorite thing about being 4 was and KK said, "being silly." Ashleigh then asked if she could still be silly now that she was 5 and KK confirmed that she thought that would be ok.
A big thanks to Scott and Ashleigh for helping to make KK's birthday so special!
Friday, November 19, 2010
Today Katharine's class conducted a bake sale to support Pennies for Peace (see work of Gregg Mortenson, "Three Cups of Tea"). She is featured here with two of her buddies, Evy and Sarah.
I was really impressed with Katharine's ability to describe to me the purpose of this bake sale earlier this week. She told that me they were having a bake sale to help Dr. Gregg build schools in countries where kids don't have schools and to help them get paper and pencils so they won't have to write their school work in the dirt with a stick. She also explained that if you have to write your school work in the dirt and it rains that the work would get washed away.
[Gregg Mortenson lives is American but has been living in Afghanistan raising money to build schools for children.]
Monday, November 15, 2010
Dan Schwartz: Great teachers make a world of difference
Updated: November 15, 2010, 11:26 AM
I wasn’t the class clown, but I had my moments. Most of the time I was bored gourdless in school. Then early in 10th grade, I was going through the motions of learning when a teacher passed out some dittos of Robert Frost poems. After sniffing the dittos — what made those things smell so good? — the teacher asked me to read one aloud, and after a couple of lines I began doing an impression of Frost.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” I began. “And I don’t care! I’m a cranky old man!”
The class went nuts. “That’s enough, Dan.”
I continued until “I doubted if I should ever come back,” at which point I rechanneled Frost and added, “I can’t come back! I’m Frosty the poem man!”
After more laughter, the teacher asked, “May we continue, Dan?”
Fearful of a referral, I continued on until “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by — so try and catch me coppers!”
I apologized, but I’d been conditioned to expect punishment. My classmates had been conditioned to stare and see how I’d react to that punishment. The teacher simply asked, “You don’t like Frost very much, do you?”
“Uh, not necessarily. It’s just we’re kind of sick of him. We read him every year. Sorry I made fun of your favorite poet.”
She s-l-o-w-l-y walked to the back row. Teachers used to hit students in those days. Actually, they still do in less-enlightened states like Texas and Florida.
Instead of hitting me, she handed me more dittos. “I think you’ll like these better.”
They smelled the same, but on the way back to her desk she said, “Frost is not my favorite poet. William Butler Yeats is.”
I breathed easier and thought, “Great. Who the hell is William Butler Yeats?”
The poems she gave me were from “A Coney Island of the Mind” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I read them and was hooked. I had rediscovered reading.
I began hanging out with other readers and trading paperbacks. They recommended works by other writers. In biology class, I’d prop my textbook on my desk to hide and read novels. This probably explains my biology grades, but by then I knew no matter what else I did in life, I wanted to read and maybe write. I even read Yeats.
Years later, my brother Matt sent me a postcard. “I found this cool bookstore in San Francisco. It’s run by a guy named Larry who says he’s a poet. Ever heard of him?” Matt had stumbled upon City Lights Bookstore. It’s owned by Ferlinghetti.
A few years after that, I attended a conference of the National Council of Teachers of English in San Francisco. Most of the sessions were great, but I do recall one where a teacher tried to convince us Frost’s “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening” was really about Santa Claus.
Matt kidnapped me from the conference. Without disclosing our destination, he walked me over to City Lights. Ferlinghetti wasn’t there that day, but I did get some books and my picture taken in front of the store.
The next day I was walking through the lunch-rush traffic when I thought I recognized someone. She was well past us when it dawned on me. I took a chance.
“Dr. Willert?” I hollered. She began walking back through the human tide. “How could you tell it was me?
We passed in a split second!” “Great teachers stand out in a crowd.”
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
It was a rough day but today is a new day and it can only be a better day!
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Saturday, November 06, 2010
The kids have also been on a couple of fun field trips lately. Matthew went on a horse-drawn carriage ride where they did a scavenger hunt for things around town (lucky for Matthew one of his classmate's parents works for a carriage company). Katharine has been on three field trips in the last couple of weeks. The first was a walk over to the new science center where she got to see their display of dinosaur bones. On the way back they walked through the College library to see a visiting artist who was creating a 3-dimensional piece of art made completely of recyclable objects she has collected. The second was to the Charleston Museum, complete with a bus ride on the downtown shuttle. Finally, on Friday they walked over to a Geology professor's classroom (Holland's mom), where she showed us various animal skeletons and talked about omnivores, carnivores, and herbivores and how we could tell the difference in one type or the other by the placement of their eyes and they types of teeth they have.
- Seems to now be struggling a bit more at ECDC more so than when we first started. He has a little bit of trouble transitioning to the classroom in the morning and is more likely to cling to me than in the first weeks of school. He also gets a "fussy" on his paper more often that Paul and I would like to see. We are trying to digest if this is normal two year old fussy, his teacher's style (she runs a pretty-tight ship and sets high expectations), or something more.
- Matthew is still sleeping in a big boy bed and will now get out of the bed, open the door, and come looking for us in the morning. (Believe it or not, it seems with both of my kids that it took them awhile to realize they actually had the freedom to get out of bed on their own).
- Matthew likes to count things and can count successfully as high as 11.
- He is proficient with his colors and can identify pretty much all the colors.
- He is taking yoga, which is offered to the two and three year olds through ECDC, (as his sister did before him) and seems to like it.
- He is becoming more attuned to emotions and will regularly ask me if I "bad" or "happy" where bad seems to represent the full range of negative emotions but particularly anger. If I am angry and I tell him I am bad he will continue to ask me if I am bad or happy until I say happy. This actually can be a nice reminder that it is ok to let go of anger and move on. It also just sort of cute. Occasionally, he will poll the whole family on their emotional status and then ask us to ask him if he is bad or happy so he can share his status with us.
- His class just finished a unit on wild animals and I am told that Matthew loved all the wild animals! It looks like a trip to the Zoo may be in order!
- He is a pretty fussy eater and has managed to weed out almost every fruit and vegetable from his diet. We have managed to sneak raisins back in to his diet by buying the yogurt covered ones and he will occasionally ingest a banana. I often wonder if a child can grow up on crackers and peanut butter sandwiches?
- Katharine is as strong verbally as she ever was but seems to be particularly focused on phonics (sounding out words and trying to get us to guess words by giving us the first sound), asking us to spell words or whole sentences (sometimes so she can write it down and sometimes just for fun), and asking the meaning of words (sometimes words that I am pretty sure she already knows the meanings to and sometimes new words).
- She is also recognizing a word as a unit of text pretty consistently and does some "reading from memory" which makes her feel like she is reading and, thus, makes her feel proud.
- She can be very shy in new situations and takes time to warm up. Then, at other times in situations where she is more comfortable, she is very gregarious.
- She is still taking dance classes and enjoying it. She is incredibly flexible and I am hoping we might get an opportunity to add in some gymnastics at some point in time (the logistics of actually incorporating that in our weekly schedule is a tough one!).
- She is also a pretty picky eater and turns her nose up at dinner probably more often that she eats it. She does at least eat a few more fruits than Matt in that she likes apples, strawberries, watermelon, and mandarin oranges.
- As extracurricular activities through school, Katharine is taking Chinese lessons and getting exposure to P.E. She has been fortunate that both of these topics have been offered for free: the Chinese lessons from some volunteer moms and the P.E. through the School of Education.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
As you can see Matthew is a tiger and Katharine is a lion with a tutu. Yes, that is a mane for a lion not a rooster or a turkey. The kids had a great time running free across the campus and hearing everyone tell them how cute they were. Who wouldn't love that!?
The kids are featured here before setting out on our cross-campus jaunt. I love the protective arm Katharine has around Matt - the good big sister!
The next picture features Katharine and her friend Anna Bess with their teacher, Jane.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Pictures taken with my new Retro Camera application on the Droid! I think these pictures do three things: 1) capture some neat emotions between the two of them, 2) look like they actually grew up in my generation, and 3) will be great to pull out when they are teenagers!
Friday, September 10, 2010
Katharine: As I came walking in to the classroom to pick KK up from school, she was playing in the block area and did not see me as I entered the room. She was holding a long wooden, rectangular block to the base of her chin and showing everyone saying, "look at my beard!" When she saw me, she said, "look at my beard, Mom!"
Matthew: We have started participating in the "Wednesday Night Live" series at church to get a bit more involved in the hopes that Katharine would begin to feel more comfortable there (and I think it is working). As we were leaving, we had to walk along a path that cuts through the cemetery to get to our car. All of sudden Matt went off the path and started to press his ear to the top of a headstone. He held his ear there for a second and then looked at me and said, "nobody in there!" He continued to do this to each headstone around him and pronounce, "nobody in there!" I have no idea what possessed him to do this and Paul simply said, "they must have gone to Heaven."
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Well, it has been a long time since I have done just a general family update. Here is how everyone is doing!
Paul has just begun his third year of teaching at Charleston Southern University and he is probably one of the most popular professors on campus! The kids just love him despite what he tells me about how strict he is in class. He definitely seems to have a gift with the students. He has also taken on some courses that are not his favorite: statistics and research methods. He much prefers pop culture and urban! His beard interests continue and his local club (The Holy City Beard and Moustache Society) is still going strong. We will be hosting another competition here in Charleston in February and are hoping to go to Norway so Paul can compete in the international competition. Paul continues to enjoy marathon running and triathlons (and is hoping to catch up with his brother who just completed his first Iron Man).
I am now in my fifth consecutive year with the College of Charleston and still ruling over the institutions survey processes. Full-time work and taking care of the kiddos gobble up a lot of time but I still love to take pictures and read novels! I have also joined a circle within our church and am on the advisory board for a local non-profit (Lowcountry Women with Wings) whose mission is to increase awareness of ovarian cancer. I have dreams of writing a sit-com and/or a novel someday and have starting experimenting with decoupage!
Katharine will be 5 in November and she is smart as a whip. She is in the 4K class at ECDC (the Butterflies class) with Ms. Jane Hart and is off to a roaring start. She is often described as a natural leader but still can be very shy until she in comfortable in an environment. She has an incredible vocabulary for a 5 year old and it is amazing the things she absorbs and remembers. As an example, the other day we were driving to school and I was listening to NPR and thinking the kids weren't paying it any attention. The story being covered was about air quality and the ozone and they were discussing how in some parts of the country mothers of children with asthma would come pick their kids up early so they wouldn't go outside on the playground and breathe the air, etc., etc. A minute or two goes by and Katharine says to me, "Matthew has asthma. Does that mean Matthew can't go outside?" Then she sniffs and says, "Is that that bad air I'm smelling?" So, to comfort her, I say, "Don't worry, we don't live in a part of the country where we have to worry about this air problem." To which she says, "Well, what if we travel somewhere and they have the bad air, will Matt be able to breathe the air?" And on and on it went (because she also still likes to talk A LOT). I was just really amazed that she listened to this story, seemed to interpret it's meaning, and related it back to our own family issues.
Katharine is participating in dance classes again this year and after a rocky first class she is back to loving it again. She is even adapting to the boy in the class, which after week one, she told me "she was not comfortable with."
Basically, she loves all things girly, glittery, or sparkly. She loves having her toenails painted, dressing up, and all types of pretend play. And, most of the time, she really loves her little brother!
Matthew has just begun his first year at ECDC and we are so excited to have him in Ms. Stephanie's class. She has the perfect personality for working with 2 year olds and we have been joking all summer that what Matt really needed was a good case of "Stephanie boot camp!" So far, Matt seems to love being a part of ECDC and he seems to be bonding well with Ms. Stephanie, the GAs, and the students. Matt seems to be the class clown and they often report how funny he is - that he makes funny faces and keeps them in stitches. Today he went marching in wearing his "new" sunglasses (KK's hand me downs that were hand me downs from Morgan and, fortunately, were black - which is probably why KK gave them up so easily).
Matthew likes all things boy - trucks, sports, and super heroes. Spider Man seems to be his favorite at the moment (not sure where this came from but he turns all super heroes into Spider Man). He is learning to count right now and do 1 through 5 pretty consistently and sometimes gets as high as 10 accurately. He also seems to be good at and to enjoy puzzles, something that Ms. Stephanie commented on during his home visit. His vocabulary has increased dramatically in the past few months and he now often uses full sentences rather than the short phrases and one word answers he used to give. He still doesn't talk nearly as much as his sister but he is coming in to his own as a real communicator. He is still a thumb sucker and will self-sooth by sucking his thumb and rubbing his ear with his other hand (which is pretty cute). While he is all boy, he still loves a good snuggle with mom or dad and we love that! He has shown minimal interest in potty-training so we have backed off of that for the time being. But, in the transition to "big-boyhood" he is sleeping more and more frequently in his big boy bed.
We were able to do some interesting travels over the summer months. In May, Paul and I took a kids-free trip to the Hudson Valley where my cousin Heather got married (on my 39th birthday). It was a great celebration and we were glad we could partake in it! While we were there we also had a wonderful lunch at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America), made a trip into the big apple, and a trip out to Brooklyn to see Philip and Mike. The kids got to spend some good quality time with Grandmomma and Poppa Roof while we were gone.
In June, Paul traveled to Bend, OR to participate in the US National Beard and Moustache competition. No prizes were garnered but he was the only representative from SC and he got to carry in the SC state flag during the ceremonies.
In August, the kids and I made a quick weekend trip to Alabama and to see Grandma and Grandpa Willert and Aunt Su-Su and Uncle Steve. We had a nice afternoon of swimming at Aunt Su-Su's, took several morning walks with Annie the dog, and got to see semi-wild foxes up close and personal.
We also spent time this summer continuing to enjoy our new house and the community pool!
This picture makes me laugh hysterically because Matt looks like he is about to let sweet Nela have it!
Monday, August 30, 2010
On another note, we went to the pediatric pulmanologist this morning for a check up regarding Matthew's asthma condition and, while they were very nice about it, I got the vibe they were not happy with me. I had experimented this summer with cutting way back on some of his asthma medications (with no deleterious effects I might add) and they did not seem to think that was ok. In particular, I had stopped completely the Flovent (which, I believe, helps to strengthen lung tissue) and their preference would have been that I go to one puff a day rather than completely stopping it as it takes two weeks before it starts working. I thought I would be fine starting back up now as we get ready for cold and flu season but the doctors said that they see a lot of asthma exacerbations in September with back to school. So, we will get back to it and hope he doesn't get sick in the next two weeks before the Flovent "kicks in" again. Matthew weighed in today and 26.7 pounds and 32 inches tall.
Matthew's current medicines as recommended by the pulmanologist:
Prevacid - 1 tablet per day dissolved in water, taken on an empty stomach with no food consumed for 20-30 minutes (seriously, try to make this happen with a 2 year old!)
Flovent - up to two puffs twice a day
Xoponex - taken through an inhaler or a nebulizer as needed for coughing and wheezing
Zyrtec - OTC taken as needed