A Little Humor Goes a Long Way...Especially with Reading...

7.10.2016

At the beginning of first grade, I was saddened to learn that Lewie was behind in his reading; his teacher recommended reading intervention, which they called Tier III Reading Services.  We agreed to Lewie receiving the extra help, but I then made it my mission to help Lewie with his reading on my own too.   We made frequent trips to the library, aimed for reading one book per day, and then created flashcards to practice our site words.

This summer, we have continued our reading practice.  Lewie has joined a summer reading class that meets on Saturday mornings, and we often have homework, which is meant to practice reading confidence and fluency.  We also continue visiting the library, with the goal of reading a book per day.

This summer, I'm proud to announce that Lewie is moving on to Level 2 readers, which fits his appropriate grade level.  Still, he also likes to choose his "old reliable" books, which have become his favorite.  While my son does love books about Minecraft and trains, his very favorite books this year have been by Mo Willems.

My son took his very first Mo Willems's book home from the school library in September:  The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog.  After Lewie renewed it several times, I finally encouraged him to bring home a new Pigeon book.  The next book was Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus followed by Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late.

                               Image result for pigeon books by mo willems  Image result for pigeon books by mo willems

Since then, Lewie has become a huge fan of Mo Willems's Elephant and Piggy Series as well.  We couldn't get enough of reading all 25 books this year, and we're still taking them out because they make us laugh.  Two of my personal favorites are A Big Guy Took My Ball and I Really Like Slop.

                                       Image result for Elephant and Piggie Books  Image result for Elephant and Piggie Books 

I have to say that getting Lewie interested in reading this year was a struggle, but once he found Mo Willems's books, his attitude has changed.  Now he loves going to the library, especially to find these books to read them over and over again.  If you have a struggling reader at home in kindergarten and first grade, then I highly suggest taking out some of these books.  You may just reignite your own interest in reading and laughing again.   (I haven't laughed at books since reading Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic, Jim Davis's Garfield Cartoon Books, and Judy Blume's Are You There God?  It's Me Margaret.)

Summer Camp

6.28.2016

Lewie started his first day of summer camp yesterday.  This year, instead of staying at Surreybrook (where he attended private kindergarten last year), he moved up with the "big" kids.  I decided to send him to Camp 565 at Chase Collegiate School (a private school for kindergarten up to twelfth grade).

We can't afford Chase during the school year, but their summer program, as it turns out, is very affordable.  I liked the school because of the low camper to camp counselor ratio (4 to 1) and because it provides a variety of fun activities--arts and crafts, cooking, theater, games, tennis, field trips, water play, music, and dancing.  Since Lewie, at age 7, is still discovering his likes and dislikes, I figure, why not expose it all to him?  Then I'll know what type of extra curricular activities he might want to pursue during the school year.

So far, day one was a success.  As much as he moped about going to camp because it would take him away from his beloved home and his computer, he came home singing a new tune.  As it turns out, he liked EVERYTHING.  A counselor nicknamed him "Lewie Proskills," a word that Lewie, evidently, made up himself.  His main counselor, Travis, is a senior at UCONN studying counseling and family therapy.  He loves acting, having performed in a variety of local theater productions, and he's a huge Harry Potter fan.  (I decided that I will start reading the books to Lewie this summer.)

So far, we're off to a good start...  Below are pictures his camp sent to us of the first day.  (We all signed a media release to allow our children's images to be posted.)


The Counselors at Camp 565--Travis, Lewie's Counselor, is on the bottom right.


My mom, Grammy, walking Lewie in on his first day...

The Chase Collegiate Campus...

Water Limbo

A kick-line?  I'm not sure Lewie is ready for the Rockettes.

The counselors are showing us how it's done!

First Bike Adventure with Little Lewie

6.16.2016

A few days ago, we went on our annual Delaware trip to visit family.  (It's more like a long four-day weekend, than a full vacation.)  We stayed in Rehoboth Beach, and just like last year, I eagerly awaited the opportunity to ride our bicycles on the boardwalk. 

Last summer, I requested a small bike with training wheels for Little Lewie, and I ran after him on the boardwalk trying to make sure he did his best to avoid any collisions with people, other bikers, etc.  It was fun, but it was a lot of pedaling for Little Lewie, and his excitement was worn away by sheer exhaustion.  In the end, I think I had more fun following him taking pictures than he did riding.

This year, thank goodness, was different.  I worked with Little Lewie this spring to help him learn to ride his bike without training wheels, and so he was eager also to test his new skill on the boardwalk.  We rented a bike he felt comfortable with, and then I rented a three-speed bicycle for myself.   The lady working at the bike rental shop gave me a map of the Rehoboth Beach area and showed me trails and backroads we could explore.  "The boardwalk is tough for young riders because there's so much traffic.  He'd be better off going on the backroads with you where there's very little cars or people," she advised.

I thought about it for a moment and decided she was right.  We both had bicycles now; why not take them out for a true bike adventure?  We followed Surf Avenue on the coast, which led us right into Henlopen Acres (a beautiful seaside community filled with multimillion dollar homes).  In Connecticut, such a place would have been labeled as a "private community" where outsiders are not welcome, but not here!  The very quiet roads and tall trees provided a park-like setting, and so we had a blast exploring the area, and I didn't have to worry about Little Lewie getting into any accidents.  Even more, the tall trees provided shade--which is not like the very hot, unprotected boardwalk.















This employee at the bike rental shop has the same name as Lewie.  Little Lewie really wanted a picture with him.  I think he reminds him of Lew, Sr. (our beloved Papa who past away last September)

We ended our second adventure with a cup of Rocky Road ice-cream--my favorite!

Little Lewie and I LOVED our bike adventure.  In fact, we loved it so much, we came back for a second time and explored new roads inside the community.  The folks at the bike rental place didn't even charge us for a second day's rental; they were so nice!

In April as I coaxed Lewie to push his bike without training wheels and practice gliding, I was daydreaming of a day when we could go riding and exploring together.  Little did I know we would have our first bike outing two months later!  We're on a "roll" now (no pun intended); I'm ready to begin planning some more--and Lewie, well he can't wait too.  He told me he loves "exploring."

Career Day: I am a YouTubber

6.08.2016

This Monday marked the start of Spirit Week at Little Lewie's grammar school; his very last day of first grade is next Wednesday.

Spirit week is new for us this year.  His kindergarten and preschools hosted a pajama day in the past--but not a full week of adventure (mismatch day, career day, dress like you're from another decade day, school spirit day, etc.)  Yesterday was Career Day, and Lewie proudly announced that he wanted to be a "YouTubber."  A YouTubber? I asked myself.  What type of profession is THAT?  Is it even a career?





The reality is that over the past several years, Lewie has developed a passion for watching YouTube videos and tutorials.  I still remember the transition like it was yesterday.  Around age 4, Lewie loved trains.  Daily, I would search "trains" under Google Images, so he could see a variety of train pictures. His little imagination raced furiously as he viewed the train pictures, made train sounds with his voice, and swirled his hands around like they were wheels.  (It was seriously the cutest thing to watch...)

One day, he clicked on one of his train pictures, and he found out it was a video.  Well, train pictures might be pretty awesome, but train videos (as I would soon learn) are seriously the coolest secret on earth.  Before long, Little Lewie started requesting train videos, and so the passion for almighty YouTube began...

Here are some of Lewie's favorite "YouTube" sensations:

Eric Siegel from Eric's Trains - a series of video tutorials about his "3 Rail O-Gauge and O-Scale train adventure"

Ramahfool - a series of funny Thomas the Train Trackmaster Videos  (Thomas the Trackmaster Show is funny if you're into this kind of boy humor)

Now that Lewie is "into" video games and Minecraft, his favorites have become EthanGamerTV, TheDiamondMinecart // Dan TDM, PopularMMOs Minecraft (known as Pat and Jen),  and FGTEEV (The Family Gaming Team).  (All of these are watched under supervision, of course.)

YouTube has replaced TV, and if I don't plan extracurricular activities, Lewie can easily spend the whole afternoon watching video after video.  Of course, now he's been watching videos on how to create his own website and make his own YouTube channel.  With him being only 7, I still feel he has a long way to go before he starts doing this (people can be mean); still, I won't discourage him when he's old enough to handle the responsibility...

Okay, back to my beginning paragraphs... Now choosing to be a YouTubber is not as admirable as say choosing to be a doctor or a firefighter, but I am certainly in no position to judge.  If we had Career Day at school circa 1982 (which we didn't), my seven year-old self would have certainly wanted to dress up like an MTV star with funky colored hair, bangle bracelets, and a pleather skirt.  I certainly wanted to be anything that would make me famous--an actress, model, singer, dancer...

So, my point in all this?  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  Lewie, have fun rocking your YouTube shirt on Career Day.  You never know where this crazy life journey will take you!

Scouting

5.31.2016

Our experience with the Cub Scouts this year, so far, has been extraordinary.  Lewie has learned so much about life and being a model citizen, and I hope as he continues year after year, he'll remember all of these important values.  Last fall, he did his first community service project as he "scouted" for food.  This spring, so far, he learned...

1)  Outdoor Ethics - During a recent walking stick ceremony (in April), Lewie earned his walking stick and went on his first real hike (about four miles).  He learned all about being careful with fire, showing consideration of others while camping/hiking, and following the principles of "Leave No Trace" and "Tread Lightly" when it comes to picking up after ourselves and being gentle with the earth.

The scouts brought a trash bag with them in case they saw any litter that needed to be picked up, and the Cub Scout Master pointed out ways our hikers could enjoy the environment with the least amount of physical disturbance to the plants and animals...











2)  Grow Something - In this "adventure," Lewie learned how plants grow and how to tend a garden.  I offered to have the den meeting at my house, and together, the three "Wolves" with their moms planted seeds, made a terrarium, and then started growing a sweet potato plant.

The scouts enjoyed making their terrariums the most.  They first had to put small rocks on the bottom of their glass cookie jar, followed by activated charcoal (to keep the container from growing mildew), and then potting soil.    The boys chose their plants (I bought about four different kinds), and after planting them, I let them choose their own special rock to put inside the terrarium for decoration.  (The rocks actually came from my own collection that I started as a kid.  My mom saved them in a glass jar in our furnace room!)








3)  Reverence, Honor, and Patriotism -  On Memorial Day, Lewie attended his first flag ceremony and had a chance to personally thank all the veterans in our town.  (One veteran recently celebrated his 100th birthday.)  For the first time, Lewie learned that Memorial Day is much more than just a day for parades and family picnics.  He learned it's a time to pay tribute to those who have served and died for our country. 








Yes, I'm pleased with the values Lewie is learning in scouting.  It's definitely one of the best decisions I've made this school year.  Growing up to be a responsible, trustworthy, helpful, and kind adult is priceless.

A Day to Celebrate Motherhood

5.24.2016

This month has been a whirlwind... Work has required me to attend numerous events--retirement parties, award banquets, commencement, and the like...  Then my son, of course, has been keeping me busy with rollerskating lessons, swim lessons, Cub Scout outings, and birthday parties.

Three weeks ago, May became further eventful when Lewie accidentally spilled a glass of water all over my laptop.  My first reaction was to think the computer would be fine after it had a chance to dry.  Not so.  Although I still have access to the internet, half the keys on my keyboard don't work.   I was forced to buy a new one, which should be arriving, finally, in a few more days.  It has been a long three weeks without one--and a long three weeks without blogging!

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Mother's Day came early this year, and so there was some last minute running around to buy gifts for my mom and mother-in-law.  The weekend was cold and rainy.  Still, the sun came out in time for us to have dinner at our favorite restaurant--The Hopkins Inn.  The past two years we were able to enjoy their beautiful patio overlooking Lake Waramaug.  This year, the patio was closed (due to the rain), but we still enjoyed eating in their very charming dining room, which dates back to the 1800s.

Although the restaurant is somewhat formal, our dinner conversation was the usual--lots of laughing, potty humor, and the typical jokes that entertain a seven year-old and forty-five year-old husband equally.  Heck, my mom and I enjoyed ourselves just as much.  "You can dress us up, but you can't take us out," seems to be the slogan that describes us best.

After dinner, we visited the Hopkins Vineyard next door, bought a few treats, and then returned home in time to start preparing for the work week once again.








Flowers from my "boys."

Going to the Hopkins Inn has now become a tradition for us for the past four years; it's an opportunity to treat my mom, family, and myself to a fancy dinner, and quite honestly, I wouldn't want to go anywhere else.  Still for me, Mother's Day is just a day because I feel loved and appreciated by my son all year long.  At age seven, he still gives me daily hugs, kisses, and "I love yous."  He asks me to play with him even if there's a group of friends nearby; he requests me to tuck him in at night; and he's overjoyed when I tell him I'm getting out from work early so we can spend the day together.  Yes, motherhood can be exhausting (and even a little frustrating when a computer needs to be replaced), but my days are now filled with meaning and purpose, which makes it oh so worth it!