Monday, September 16, 2013

First weeks of first grade


Here is a summary of some notes I’ve taken over Kylie’s first weeks of school. She loves her new school. And Karen and I are very happy with the curriculum and her teachers.

Journal writing.
Kylie’s favorite part of the day is the first 30 minutes in the morning when she gets to write in her journal. The teacher has a journal prompt on the screen/board each day such as “My favorite sport is…” Kylie writes first and then gets to draw a picture and color it with crayons to illustrate her journal writing. We would love to see her journal but it is a part of her schoolwork that stays in her desk.

Plus on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Kylie gets an additional 45 minutes where she gets to write fictional stories.

Kylie has an hour devoted to reading every day. The first 15 minutes consist of a reading lesson, then 35-40 minutes of reading time, and then a 5-10 minute close. Mrs. Lenhart either puts a bin of books onto the table of four desks for the children to choose from or she has books in each of the children’s individual bags. Once the children have their books, they are allowed to sit on pillows or beanbags in their classroom for their daily bit of reading. During their reading time, Mrs. Lenhart works individually with some students and does assessments. Her school follows the Fountas and Pinnell language arts curriculum.

Spelling and Word Study.
Kylie has 20 minutes devoted to spelling every day. Although Kylie hasn’t brought home a spelling list to learn, she has had several spelling tests where the teacher is getting an idea of the spelling skills of her class. The children put up privacy shields around their workspace when they are taking a test. The children also have 20 minutes of word study each day. So far, they’ve worked on learning about each other’s names such as how many syllables in their names and the beginning and ending letters.

Karen and I really like that Mrs. Lenhart corrects Kylie’s backwards 4’s, 5’s, 7’s and 9’s in her math work. Kylie didn’t get any corrections for that in kindergarten. Kylie has an hour of math each day. So far her math work has included counting to ten, identifying what comes before and after numbers to ten, and reading and writing the number words zero to ten and number bonds up to ten. Her school follows the Singapore Math curriculum.

Her school uses D'Nealian style of handwriting which is different from “Handwriting without Tears” form of writing that Kylie learned in kindergarten. Fortunately, there is a handwriting guide on Kylie’s desk for her reference. It’s a bit of a change for Kylie to switch to this more cursive style of printing but she’s learning it well.

Other studies:
Computer and French
On Mondays Kylie has an hour-long computer class. She loved the class where she used a computer to draw a circle, fill the circle with color, take a picture of herself using the computer camera, resize the picture to fit in her circle, and print the picture. The children’s pictures were put on a bulletin board outside their class. Kylie loves her computer class.

On Mondays Kylie also has thirty minutes of French lessons. She is a little behind her classmates in this topic because her kindergarten school emphasized Spanish. But I’m sure Kylie will soon be up to speed learning how to speak French colors, numbers and sing French songs.

Library, Art and Science
On Tuesdays, Kylie gets to spend 45 minutes in the Library and gets to check out 2-3 books. Following the library time, she gets 45 minutes of Art and later in the afternoon, she gets a 30-minute Science lesson. For Science, she gets to go into the other 1st grade classroom and learn about that classroom’s pet teacup pig named Priscilla. Kylie loves Priscilla. She came home and drew a beautiful Priscilla picture and made her a snack of Cheerios. She got to feed her a Cheerio the following day. Later in the Fall, they will study different Science topics but right now, Kylie loves learning about Priscilla the pig.

Music, Social Studies and Drama
On Thursdays Kylie has a 40 minute Music class. The children has created their own musical rhythms using characters like hearts or squares. For example a heart shape could symbolize at “ta” sound and a square could symbolize a “sh” sound. Kylie’s favorite pattern was two slow ta’s and 3 fast sh’s. Kylie has a 40 minute Social Studies class. Right now that class is studying a character development piece "How Full is Your Bucket". It’s all about being kind and helpful and not being mean. Kylie has really enjoyed the fact that the children have individual classroom mail boxes where you can send nice notes to one another. She has written several notes and received some too. And in her 30 minute Drama class, the kids have been paired up in two’s and practice being mirrors for one another—where one child moves slowly and the partner tries to copy it precisely. There are no words during this exercise, but I’m sure there are lots of giggles.

Kylie has 30 minutes of a PE class on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in addition to her daily 30 minutes of recess. The PE coach has lots of very creative, team-building games that use balls, beanbags, cones and flags for props.

Other items I don’t want to forget:
Classroom Treasure Chest. Kylie’s teacher rewards good behavior by giving out pennies to the children. On Fridays, the teacher opens the treasure chest where the kids can “buy” small items like yo-yos, stickers, or sticky hands. The items all cost differently so the kids can buy something with the 1-2 pennies they have earned that week. Or they can save their pennies to buy an item that costs 5-25 cents. Kylie was thrilled with this until she learned that the pennies were plastic pennies. Instead of buying something with the pennies, Kylie just wanted to keep the money which cracked us up. Still, she has chosen to buy something each Friday and is pleased with her rewards.

Classroom roles:
Each week, Kylie gets assigned a new classroom role. The first week is was floor monitor—checking to make sure the floor are cleaned. The second week it was pillow piler—one who returns any pillows back to their correct positions. But for both weeks, Kylie didn’t get to “do” anything because the floors and pillows were tended to by the other children. But I love how conscientious Kylie has been about her role.

2 Moms
Lastly, I want to write how impressed Karen and I have been with the school’s communication with us. All of their school forms have “parent” or “guardian” instead of “mother” and “father”. All of their letters to us have had the correct salutations. The teachers and the principal have been as warm and welcoming to us as they have been to the other parents. But we haven’t experienced that “let’s be extra nice to the gay family” vibe. It’s been perfectly equal which has been perfectly lovely.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kylie's classroom

I thought you might like to see inside Kylie's classroom. On the morning of Friday, August 16th, we had a "meet the teacher" event at the school where we dropped off Kylie's school supplies.

This is the entry.

Kylie gets to wear a backpack to carry her homework and lunch. The children have wooden cubbies outside the classroom to store their belongings. Kylie's cubby is the first on the left of the classroom door.

This is Kylie's teacher Ms. Lenhart. Several of her previous years' students stopped by to tell her about their summers. Karen and I took this as a good sign.

There are 16 students in Ms. Lenhart's class. 8 boys and 8 girls. You can see that there are four groups of tables made up of four desks. Kylie's desk is at the table closest to Ms. Lenhart. Kylie got the far left desk which is fortunate because she is left handed.
There is an opening under the desk for a little box that holds pencils, glue stick and crayons along with Kylie's daily journal.

Kylie gets to visit the school library on Mondays but I love how many books there are in the classroom. There is an hour of reading time scheduled for every school day. I also love how Kylie has a view of the outdoors from her classroom.

Sweet little nook.

Kylie has an hour of technology once a week. This computer lab is next to her classroom.

Kylie was very impressed with her gift of Smarties from her teacher!

First day of first grade

Tuesday was Kylie's first day of first grade at her new school. I asked Kylie if I could take some pictures and she readily agreed. Our little girl likes to strike a pose.
And while she looks lovely and I love it when her little-girl belly shows, this pose was just too forced for my tastes. I've found that I can get a more natural look from Kylie but it usually takes me behaving like an goofball. So I quickly started bouncing up and down singing "The Wonderful Things about Tiggers" song.
Singing and acting silly got me some lovely giggles.


And there's that full-out laugh that I love so well.

This is probably one of the last photos with all her upper baby teeth. Her two front teeth are loose and her left one is so loose, it could go any day.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The triathlon race

The August 17th morning of the Believestrong triathlon in Orlando, FL was perfect. It had rained the night before which cooled the temps to a pleasant 78º. It was still dark when I set up my bike and stuff in the transition area and I got my arms marked with my race number 35. 35 was Karen’s high school and college basketball number. She and I thought it was lucky and kind of cool to have this number written with a large sharpee on both of my arms. I had a T for triathlon written on my left calf (there was also a duathlon that day) and my age on my right calf. After setting up and getting marked, I wanted to go to the lake. There was an awesome sunrise over Lake Mary Jane.



I loved this lake. It was so pretty and warm and it wasn’t weedy at all like Lake Butler where I had practiced. I waded right in and did some warm-up strokes. I felt completely calm. These next two pictures are two of my favorites. All morning, Kylie kept hugging me and telling me she loved me and wished me luck over and over. It was so sweet. After we had our short race meeting and the race started for the men, the women were instructed to wade in to our ankles. Kylie wished me one more good-luck and I turned to blow her a kiss.



In the picture, you can see the closest large orange buoy. If you look to the left side of the picture, you can see another buoy. And there was another buoy on the far right. The three buoys made a triangle. And for this race, we would swim two loops around the triangle. I started off strong and was so glad that I didn’t get hit or kicked in the initial rush. But when I took my first sighting, I was way off course and veering too far to the right. This happened over and over as I went around the first two buoys. I would think I was swimming straight and I would sight and I would be far to the right again. After rounding the second buoy, I got a bit better. I started pulling with my left arm more and holding my head so that in my mind it seemed like I was swimming in a diagonal. And somehow this kept me swimming straighter. I was pleased with how calm I stayed but it was disconcerting to keep loosing my bearings. I did more breaststroke than I thought I would. But my breaststroke was really strong. I actually passed another swimmer as I was breaststroking and she was freestyling. I ended up sighting about every 2 breaths and I was worried that this was slowing me way down. I was also worried at one point about the timing chip strapped to my ankle. I thought it was falling off. I reached down and touched it and realized that I wasn’t going to be able to tighten it up. So I just prayed that it would stay on for the swim and luckily it did! When I had done time trials in the pool, I consistently swam 1500K in 34-35 minutes. I didn’t know it when I left the lake, but I had completed this part of the race in 31 minutes.


After leaving the lake, there was a .18mile run down a beach, onto some grass, onto a road and back onto the grass of transition. If you look in the distance of these next two photos, there is a small orange flag. That’s where our transition area was located. After tightening my timing chip on my ankle, I started running barefoot and chatting with Karen a bit as she took some pictures. She smiled, gave me a big thumbs up and reminded me to “Go, run!” I laughed because I was so proud that I had just swam a mile that I could have jogged and talked with her the whole way. I ran this part of the transition in 2:10.


When I got to transition, I used a sports water bottle to squirt the worse of the dirt and sand off my feet. And I put on my socks, shoes, tank, race belt, bike gloves and helmet. I thought I was moving as fast as I could but I was actually in T1 (transition 1) for 5:40. When I told my awesome trainer Joy my T1 time, she laughed as asked me if I had gotten a massage while I was there! I’m shocked that I spent so much time there! Almost all of the bikes were gone from T1 when I left but I was prepared for this. I knew that there were some really fast athletes out there. And I just stayed focused on doing my race and not worrying about coming in last.


Then it was time for the bike ride. I did my best to walk/jog my bike up to the mount area. Karen snapped this great picture as I mounted my bike and then….paused. My head was screaming, “Go, go!” but my body just sat there and took it all in. The race volunteer yelled “Mount, mount!” and Karen yelled, “Mount!” and that was enough to get me going. Off, on the bike, I went.


The first five miles were so hard. Little did I know that I was on a long, slow incline. It seemed flat to me. I only knew that I was only biking at 13.5-14mph. I was fussing at myself thinking, “This won’t do. You’ve got to go Wendy! You must go faster!” Finally, at 5 miles, I crested the hill, leveled out and flew. I looked down and was going 17mph. “Oohhh….I was on a hill. Well no wonder I was going slow. Ok. It’s going to be ok now!” I was so happy that I wasn’t going to end up with a 2 hour bike ride that I really enjoyed the rest of the 25 miles. Most of the race course was loops through neighborhoods but all the turns had volunteers with flags, showing us the turns. The turns and the u-turns were much easier than the tighter turns I had practiced. I smiled and spoke with the other race participants I saw. I smiled and thanked all the volunteers and police officers.

And I was so tickled to see Karen and Kylie at the halfway point u-turn. They hollered and cheered and I was so happy that you can almost here my “Wheeee” in this picture.


My goal was to finish the 25 miles in 1:40. But I actually finished in 1:29. I just knew that I was sooo happy pulling back into the transition area to begin my run. For me, the hardest parts were over.


In T2/transition 2, I stowed my bike, downed 8oz of Gatorade, took off my helmet and put on my running hat and re-tied my shoes. But unfortunately, I did not strap on my Garmin. My Garmin battery was completely dead. I had charged it but then stowed it in my transition bag and it must have gotten bumped and turned on and somehow run down. Regardless, it was dead. And headphones and music are prohibited in triathlons. I was warned to not even try to get away with wearing music because it could cause a time penalty. So here I was without Garmin and without music, two items I always use when I run.

I ran out of T2 in just 1:58 and started the run. The run was held in the Moss Park campground. But I was not prepared for the fact that the entire run was on a dirt/sand road. The dirt and sand was fairly loose. As my ankles and knees wobbled I thought, “Well I didn’t prepare for this. Let’s see how it goes.” Overall this surface was easier on my hips but harder on my knees and ankles. And the run course wasn’t marked for mileage. So I had no idea how far I had run. I only knew that I had two loops to cover. I was so happy to see Karen at the halfway mark of the run. And Kylie ran out to high-five me. Isn’t that a great picture of she and I running together?!




As I passed Karen and Kylie, I could hear the cheers and music of the finish line as people were finishing. That part was hard because I still had 2.8 miles to run. Plus the temperature was 84º and it seemed more humid. But I settled in with the knowledge that I was almost done. For the entire run, since I didn’t have my Garmin, I had to ask myself, “Are you running as fast as you can but not flat out sprinting?” and I kept answering yep, going as fast as I can. On the last loop, I passed three other runners and there was some satisfaction in that. But for the entire run, my feet were squishing in all the sweat pooled in my shoes. And some grit had embedded above my left heel and caused a huge blister that I thought was bleeding it hurt so badly. My right knee started twinging pretty badly and I was in marathon flashbacks with that pain. But I kept pushing on until I saw the finish shoot.

As soon as I entered the shoot, I was filled with all-consuming pride, joy and happiness. I started wiggling my butt as I danced/ran around with my hands thrown over my head screaming out loud, “I did it! I did it! I did it!”




And the fabulous racers who had finished and were lining the shoot cheered and laughed and celebrated with me.



As soon as I finished, I leaned against a tree as my family brought me water and Gatorade. I peeled off my shoes and socks and was relieved that I had many angry blisters but that none were bleeding. And then I asked Karen my time and she told me the clock time was 3:04. I was blown away. I thought this triathlon would take me 3:15 – 3:30. I was prepared to be very happy with anything less than 3:30. Karen ran over to the timekeeper and was told my official chip time was 3:01:35. I was so astonished that I actually said, “I don’t think that’s possible. I don’t see how I could have been that fast. Please check again!” Dutifully, she checked again and then announced, “The timekeeper said you need to stay for the award ceremony. You won your age group. You are going to get a medal.” Oh my heavens! Now I was dumbfounded.

When I found out a few weeks ago that most triathlons don’t give out medals to all finishers, I was crushed. I really love my race medals. I couldn’t believe that they give out medals like candy at 5K’s and 10K’s but that they wouldn’t give a medal for an accomplishment like a triathlon?! But now, Karen was telling me that I was actually going to get a medal. I was overwhelmingly happy.


Someone had asked me which was more difficult—the marathon or this Olympic-distance triathlon. My answer was that the marathon was physically harder. But the triathlon was mentally and emotionally harder. It’s just harder to balance all three sports. I’ve had such a huge learning curve with regards to swimming and biking. Literally coming from not being able to swim but one lap and not knowing how to ride a bike at all to this triathlon race has been such a long, laborious, hard, and magnificent journey. I’ve had my share of crying meltdowns about it. Do you know why I cry and worry and obsess? Because under it all, I love this sport and this training. It means sooo much to me. It’s hard to convey how much it means and what an epic goal this has been. I feel so blessed. And I’m so grateful to my Karen, my Kylie, my trainer Joy, my swim coach Gus and many others as they have helped me along my journey.


Here’s the official stats:
15K/.932 mile swim: 31:49 (2:07 per 100m or 1:56 per 100 yards)
2:10 beach run, 5:40 T1
40K/ 24.85 mile bike: 1:29:58 (16.85 pace)
T2: 1:58
9K/ 5.6 mile run: 46:53 (8.22 pace)
Total time: 3:01:35

Monday, August 19, 2013

We are here!

We have had a wonderful and busy Summer!

Kylie was in many day Summer camps. Like Lego camp, soccer and basketball camp, art camps and more. Her camps were mostly 9-12 but we had many busy afternoons with lots of trips to the area parks, local waterparks, library and so forth. Plus, Kylie has had twice-weekly swim lessons and karate lessons.

I’ve been training for an Olympic-distance triathlon. I trained 6 days a week for a total of 7-8 hours per week. When you add drive times and shower and stretch times, you might as well double that to the training taking up as much time as a part-time job.

Karen had lots of travel in June and July. When she wasn’t traveling for work, she was making trips to visit her family in Tennessee in order to help her father whose has had many serious health issues.

So with our busy Summer, blogging and scrapbooking got left behind. Even though I love these activities, there simply wasn’t the time nor energy. But now, heaven bless us! School has started! Hurray! So I’m working on scrapping some pictures from the Summer and am committed to keeping you updated via the blog about our lives.

Hopefully, we still have some readers out there. Thanks for hanging out with us and stay tuned!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Disney Dream Cruise Photos

Our Disney Dream Cruise pictures are up on Flickr. Just click here to see the set!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Project Life Weeks 11 & 12

You can see my whole 2013 set of Project Life pages (including the weeks I haven't posted on the blog) by clicking here. To view the credits of items I've used, click on the picture.

Project Life Week 12 page 1

Kylie got her first stripe- a blue stripe- on her white belt on Monday March 18th. She got it for knowing her first round of punch combinations.

We needed a new birdfeeder solution when the raccoons learned to open the top of the feeders and scoop out all the birdseed. Karen indulged me with this new birdpost with baffle for our two feeders and it is working beautifully! I can still see the birds as I’m working in the kitchen which simply delights me.

Kylie has learned to swing high!

Karen taught her new SQL Exadata Performance Optimization class from home last week. It was a change to our schedule to have her on the phone and computer until 5:00 each day but we made it work. I took Kylie to the park or to karate class so that Karen could teach in a quiet environment. And it was so much nicer to have her at home with us rather than her teaching in some city away from us.

Blues guitarist Fruteland Jackson entertained Discovery students with music and a little history of the blues.

Project Life Week 12 page 2

Easter Egg hunt at Kylie’s school on Friday. She proudly showed us her “non-candy” loot.

Kylie has started reading the “Rainbow Fairy” book series. Since March 1st, she has read six of them:
Pearl the Cloud Fairy
Bella the Bunny Fairy
Melodie the Music Fairy
Zoe the Skating Fairy
Gemma the Gymnastics Fairy

On Friday, after the egg hunt and lunch, the children had a wonderful afternoon spent in the garden. As you can see in the above photo, Kylie has no problem getting dirty. Neither does her teacher Ms. Kirby nor her friends Carly (left) and Carolyn (right).

Kylie had her first choir performance on Sunday March 24th. Karen and I both attended the 11:00 service to watch her perform. Kylie sang “Come Enjoy God’s Festive Springtime” by Telemann. She did a great job! Afterwards, she enjoyed the children’s portion of the Palm Sunday service.

Project Life Week 11 page 1

Project Life Week 11 page 2

Remember this: Kylie learned to make God's Eyes this week.

With a little help from her "lefty" mom, Kylie learned how to tie bows on shoes. We bough her this pair of size 12 shoes.

Love this story: I want to ride the dolphin because I'm going to be a marine biologist when I grow up.

School was out on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday we went to the zoo. And we started our Friday with watching this lovely IMAX 3D movie "Under the Sea". After lunch on Friday, we had a playdate with Carolyn at the park.

Rainbow cookies--we took sugar cookie dough, colored it with food coloring and rolled out some large rainbow cookies. We gave some cookies to Kylie's teachers.

Thanks for looking! Click on the photos to view the credits. If you want to see other Project Life Projects, see
The Mom Creative

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Kylie's First Choir Performance

Kylie had her first church choir performance today. It's not a great video but you can see little Kylie in the center of the row. She is wearing a striped dress and a white headband.

Come enjoy God’s festive springtime
Hasten come rejoice in God’s Greatness
Come and fill your hearts with joy
Come and fill your hearts with joy

Come enjoy God’s festive springtime,
Come, come quickly, hasten
Come and fill your hearts with joy
Come and fill your hearts with joy
Come and fill your hearts with joy

The love of God is all embracing
Enfolding all those who seek him
O pledge thy love
O pledge thy faith and love to God
O, O pledge faith and love to God
O, O pledge thy faith and love to God.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Zoo Trip

Here are a few pictures from last Thursday's zoo trip.

The Dinosaur exhibit is back at the zoo. Kylie had fun walking up to each dinosaur and calmly announcing, "I'm not afraid of you."

We visited the new Butterfly exhibit. Kylie met this young man who won her heart when he gave her a crystal amethyst. I checked with his parents and they said it was okay. The two kids walked around discussing the pretty fairy houses and the few butterflies that were braving our cooler temperatures. I sat on a bench and listened to the tinkling music while keeping an eye on them. It was lovely. Kylie usually zooms through exhibits but because this young man was there with her, we stayed with the butterflies for over 20 minutes.

Kylie and I both love the blue manatee near the petting zoo.


She still loves the carousel. She wanted to ride the dolphin because now she wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up.



I caught this delighted smile when this bird crossed Kylie's path. She was sitting still and watching the otters swim. This bird walked by and right when it was in front of Kylie, it squawked and shook its feathers at her. She cooly raised on eyebrow at it and then started giggling.


After the zoo, Kylie dressed as a butterfly and did some dancing around. I managed this quick shot when she wasn't looking.
Dancing butterfly