Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lady Bulldogs

Todd has coached Riley's Upward team the past two years.  This year, because of low numbers, they combined age groups and his team consists of 1st-3rd grades.  Woo Hoo!  Macie is on his team, too!  this will be wonderful, right?

Here is the first game in pictures:
Starting with a prayer-

Macie graciously volunteers to sit out the first quarter-

Riley realizes she is a good 4 inches taller than anyone else on the other team and really starts to do some damage-

Macie gets subbed in for the second quarter-

Macie plays for about thirty seconds and then goes running off the court in tears-

Todd quickly sends someone in for Mace and can't convince her to go in the rest of the game-

Riley scores a lot (and even does two lay-ups after much sideline yelling from mom)-

Todd's aggressive coaching style (no yelling, but he will point you in the right direction if you start heading for the other team's basket)-

They had their second Upward game last Saturday and Todd knew they would only have five players.  I could see that Macie would have the same problem, so I convinced Todd to call a girl from another team to play with us.  Sure enough, Macie went in twice and came out crying twice.  Todd gave up and let the other girl play.  After the score was about 36-2 the other coach realized what was happening and MADE Todd play Macie.  She probably spent equal time on the court as she did hugging Todd's leg, but she eventually started running up and down the court.  She played some awesome defense, but she is so worried that she isn't doing the right thing that it is painful.  After being forced to play she said she liked it and will even willingly play next game.  We will see.
She played last year and was fine.  Maybe having Dad be the coach was a bad idea. 


Grandma and Grandpa Johnson and Lizzy and Amy drove from Denver to visit us after Christmas.  Amy left a couple of days early to spend time with her man, Dave, in St. Louis, but we didn't let that stop the party! 
Grandma brought supplies to make party hats, candy poppers, streamers, and resolution cards.

We counted down the clock and had sparkling cider to celebrate the new 9 p.m.
Carver made it, but Charlotte crashed early and missed out.

Some last minute Connect Four with Lizzy.

 Bowling!  We didn't pay for Carver and that was the biggest mistake we've made in a long time.  I figured he'd lose interest and only want to throw the ball down one or two times, but he wanted to every time! And nobody wanted to give up their turn.  Lesson learned.
I am so grateful the Johnsons came to visit.  Christmas break can be pretty long without any family around.  With them here there was never a dull moment! Thank you!

Christmas 2012

For years I've been saying we need to stop buying lame toys for Christmas.  This year I finally did it.  I told myself I would rather buy each child one really good gift rather then a handful of plastic toys that they toss aside after a few minutes.  Aside from some stocking stuffers, that is exactly what we did.
Riley got an Ipod touch and an Otterbox.  Macie got a Kindle Fire and a case.  Charlotte got an "American Girl" doll, and Carver got a train table. 
And guess what?  They all still play with them. 

My mom made adorable dresses for the girls and a tie for Carv.  Todd's mom sent money and the kids got to go to Children's Place and pick out their own new outfit, which is very rare and exciting for them since I buy all of their clothes when I am alone searching for good deals.

Christmas break meant Mom slept in and Dad made nummy breakfast every morning.

Christmas Eve

After the fun and games we went home to make cookies for Santa.

This Christmas we did something different that turned out to be a huge success.  Remember all the fighting and whining?  After Thanksgiving I knew we needed something to curb the negative behavior.  I also wanted to find a way for the kids to enjoy the spirit of giving, rather than wanting and me! me! me!
I made out a weekly chart where each child had seven dollars, one for each day.  I explained that they could earn a dollar a day until Christmas and then they could use that money to buy a gift for whatever sibling they drew. However, if they were naughty or rude, they would lose the dollar for the day. Or, in Riley's case, if you were incredibly defiant and crazy, you could lose many dollars in one day.
Also, if I caught you doing something nice or you were helpful or did an extra job around the house, you could earn money, one quarter at a time.  It worked quite well.  After the first two weeks Riley had earned a minimal amount and we had a discussion about being able to buy a good gift for your person.  Like, how would you feel if the person who has your name was really naughty and only spent two dollars on you?   She still ended up with the least amount of money, but she got Macie a very generous gift by also using her birthday money, which humbled me and made me very proud. .
We opened our hard-earned sibling gifts on Christmas Eve so we could really appreciate them :)
Macie got Charlotte a Dream Light. 
Charlotte got Carver a race car that does a wheelie.
Riley got Macie a little sister necklace, fake fingernails, and a lava lamp. 
Carver got Riley a bunch of mechanical pencils and an art book.
Charlotte had earned the most so she went to the dollar store and got everyone another gift. 
I was so proud of them!  Riley could have only used her earned money and gotten Macie something small, but she really wanted to get her what she had asked for.  Charlotte could have kept her extra money, but she wanted to give to everyone.
They all got what they wanted, but they were most happy about giving their person what they wanted. 

We also opened and put on our new Christmas jammies.  I blanked on getting a picture of them all together, dang it.  Then we turned on the Christmas tree lights and watched Elf until bedtime. 
The past two years we've done a secret Santa for a family in need and dropped presents on thier doorstep Christmas Eve, but I heard another person was doing it so I decided we would do the twelve days of Christmas for another family instead. I hoped it would make a bigger impact because the kids could be more involved in dropping off the little gifts and it would last twelve times longer :) For twelve days we dropped a little gift that cooresponded with a Christmas story off on their door step.  Riley was the designated runner, but we all had fun watching and waiting for them to answer the door and find the gift. 
So yeah.  Not to brag, but after eight years of Christmas with children I think we are finally figuring it out.   

The First Annual Owensboro Christmas Cup

About a week before Christmas we had another family move into the Branch.  Nothing short of a miracle, I tell you.  The Norton's were the family who came in October.  This family that most recently arrived are the Ortons.  What are the chances?  Maybe the Horton's are on their way.  Anyway, the Nortons have FIVE kids!  Hello!  Primary was six, then nine, now we have fourteen or more! 
Well, being that we are all away from extended family, we decided to get together on Christmas Eve day to pass the time.  We met at the church gym, which is really about a quarter of a gym covered in carpet, to play some games.  Last minute I threw together some games and found an old trophy to award the highest scoring family.
We did relays, crab walk, balloon between the legs, dribbling, paper airplane contest and stuff like that.


When we had run out of ideas we said the kid that could hold still the longest would take the trophy.  Much to Cole's unliking, Henry was still the longest and the Orton's have the trophy for the year. 


Riley tried out and sang with the Kentucky Youth Chorale, which is kind of a big deal.  They performed with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra and Laurie Gayle Stephensen, who is a Tony Award winning Broadway artist, and it was amazingly beautiful.  Riley loves to sing, and this is quite the talented bunch of kids with some very knowledgeable, professional teachers.  It was an incredible experience.  Unfortunately she was only able to participate in the first semester since basketball started in January and the weekly rehearsal was on the same night as all her D-league games. It was a total bummer for her.  I felt so horrible. 
When she signed up we knew things would get complicated come basketball season and that she would likely have to make a choice...I just don't think she realized how difficult the choice would be. And just so you know, I had absolutely no influence on her decision.  I knew how much she loved choir, but I also knew she really wanted to play basketball, so I left it up to her.  There may have been a little unspoken pressure since Todd had already signed up to be the coach of her team, but we won't dwell on that. 

(I've uploaded videos here of Riley's choir and Charlotte's program, but they only seem to work when using Google, go there :))
Charlotte was an all-star at her preschool Christmas program.  Each of the kids in her class was assigned a country and said "Merry Christmas" in his or her given language.  There was a lot of incomprehensible mumbling until they got to Charlotte and she confidently said, "Germany! Froehliche Weihnachten!"

And, since this post is months overdue, I have to include Riley and Macie's report cards.  Macie improved her reading and math scores by crazy amounts!  Macie loves to read and play teacher.  She doesn't even let me help her with homework.  She has a little classroom set up and she pretends she is the teacher presenting the homework material to her class.  She goes over every step and detail with them, explaining how to do it and talking through difficult points.  I figure it must really be helping her comprehension - not only does she do the work, but she teaches it as well!
Riley also did excellent and achieved her goal of all A's. Riley is a perfectionist, but also a procrastinator.  Interesting combination. I feel like I have to nag and nag to get her started on her homework and reading, but once she starts she is usually fine.  Studying for tests in interesting.  She has some idea that she can't study by herself, so she spends hours demanding that I study with her and quiz her.  I've explained over and over that she needs to study and then I will quiz her, but she's not buying it.  On average, I would say she spends an hour complaining to every fifteen minutes of actual study time.  She does, however, sometimes set her alarm clock early and study for ten or fifteen minutes in the morning if she is nervous, which I think shows a lot of discipline for a nine-year-old. 
Charlotte is in her last year of preschool.  Normally she would be placed in the four-year-old class, but her "principal" called before the year started and asked if it would be ok to put her in the pre-K class which is for the kids who are older, more advanced, and usually in their third year of preschool.  (Mostly because they only had four other kids sign up and needed to even things out, but also because he said Charlotte was at the top of her class the year before :))
There are only five kids in the class and she has learned SO much.  She is already reading and I couldn't be prouder of her!

And, Carver is potty trained!  One morning we were watching Daniel Tiger and the episode was all about going on the potty.  Thirty minutes of Daniel Tiger and his friends on the potty.  "STOP what you are doing and go potty fast"...I can still hear the song.  Well, I saw the opportunity and went with it.  Amazingly, Carv had complete bladder control on day one.  I kid you not.  In the first two days he had two accidents and that was it.  Number two was another story.  It would completely catch him off guard.  So much so, that it was pretty cute.  All of a sudden he would say, "Potty!  Potty!" and take off running, but he was always about ten seconds too late. 
On day two I was giving Macie and bath.  I was sitting on the toilet (you know, to wash Macie's hair and stuff) and Carv was playing on the floor in the bathroom.  All of a sudden he looked up, his eyes got big, and he said, "oh boy," real concerned like.  I whisked him up and had him on the potty in seconds.  In my haste, his load fell on the floor as I ripped his underwear off. 
In frustration I explained that he has to get on the potty FIRST.  The poos have to go in the potty, not in your pants or on the floor!
"I know Mom. I sowwy," he said as he looked down and hung his head. 
How can you be angry with that?!  Dang kid is too cute. 
The next day we were at a friend's house and we ran to the potty.  Once again, load in his pants. (Thank goodness for solid movements this week.  I really lucked out. TMI?  Oh well.)
Carv sat on the potty and demanded, "Put it in the potty, Mom!"
I did, and he exclaimed, "I DID IT! Poo's in the potty! I DID IT!"
Seriously.  Too funny.  Explanation of how the poo had to be deposited in the potty by him, not by me followed, but once again, all I could do was smile. 
He had three "accidents", but has gone on the potty ever since.  Even wakes up dry from bed.

So really, gloating and story telling over, I just wanted to record how incredibly awesome my kids are.  I know I complain a lot about all the arguing, whining and back talk, but they are great kids. Their teachers and friends love them and praise them for their kind, pleasant behavior. 
I am a lucky mom.