Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ringling Bros DRAGONS
We've taken G to the circus several times. Its always been enjoyable. The last time we went was really good. But this time was AWESOME!! We had the best seats we've ever had and they were CHEAP! I couldn't believe what a bargain it was. We got to do a one hour pre-show with the clowns and such and then the show was another two hours. Did I mention how great it was? By far the best circus I've ever seen. Yeah Ringling!

The pre show included a circus costume area for dressing up. There was this big bouncer thing too that G ended up not having time to check out. She was a bit bummed but I told her we could do it next time.
I'm pretty sure we saw this clown last time too!
I've mentioned before that G has become a lot more confident. I was happy to see that when they had a dance along time with the clowns she decided to join in.
This clown was really tall so part of his schtick was to measure the kids. G thought this was hysterical.
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Free clown noses are so much fun. G has a little tiny nose so it took many attempts to get it to stay long enough to snap her pic. Then she was done :-)
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More dancing with random clowns
Almost ready for the "greatest show on earth"!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Warning: read no further unless you're interested in my completely shameless bragging about my daughter...

I'm thrilled to say that Georgie is now, in my opinion, a real reader!! Yes, at just a few days over 4-1/2 yrs old she is now comfortably reading beginning chapter books!! Don't get the wrong impression, Georgiana, while bright, is not a super baby genius or anything. Her reading ability has not been accomplished without a lot of consistent effort on both our parts. Nevertheless, she is a READER!
By the time G was 3 to 3-1/2 she knew all her letters (capital and lowercase) and sounds. She was starting to understand the concept that linking sounds together made words and that when you put words together they make sentences and tell a story. She also had a good attention span. It was obvious that she was ready to move forward so, about a year ago, I started looking for some decent materials to teach her to read. What I found was that most of the beginner reading books (BOB, etc) were imo too difficult and moved too quickly. After spending a long time online reading amazon reviews, scouring a couple of homeschooling forums and giving it lots of thought, I finally chose The Reading Lesson: Teach Your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons.

About November of last year we opened The Reading Lesson book and began. When we started we spent about 5 mins a day working on her reading book. She liked it and would often bring it to me in the morning so we could do a little extra. As her endurance increased we moved up to spending about 10-15 mins a day working through the lessons. The 20 lessons are not intended to be completed in 20 days :-) Instead each lesson presents one or more phonics concepts. Sometimes it would take 7-10 days to finish a lesson, sometimes we'd move through it in 5 or 6. It just depended on how busy we were and how quickly G absorbed the phonics lessons presented. We had some setbacks most notably when we went on vacation in Feb. We were gone almost 3 weeks and although we brought the book with us, we only did it a couple of times. It did cause some backslide but we didn't stress about it, we'd just move forward.

Georgie finished the lesson book in about May or so which was pretty much in line with the 6 mos I anticipated would be required. After that we moved on to Step Readers. Step 1's were already too easy but we spent a month or so on Step 2's and quickly moved to Step 3's. About a month ago G realized that she could read. This was kind of a big moment for her and I think she had a decent understanding of the magnitude of the milestone. She began reading everything, everywhere and she liked it A LOT!

Next step was to move on to chapter books. This presented another challenge. Most of the beginning chapter books (they're apparantly called "transitional" books in the education world) are directed toward the 5-6 yr old crowd. G's mature enough for 4-1/2 but she's not a kindy or 1st grader and doesn't have the same experience. I needed to find something at the right level of difficulty that would appeal to her interests. Again, I scoured the internet forums, read amazon reviews and then, as I commonly do, posted a question on Rumor Queen to ask people's opinions. There's a wealth of knowledge there (lots of teachers and homeschooling parents) and most of them directed me to the Rainbow Magic fairy books.

This book series couldn't be more perfect for Georgie. The vocabulary is decent and the stories are light hearted ones about happy little girls who encounter fairies and other fanciful creatures. Almost everyone in the stories are good and nice. There are some bad guys ie goblins but they're not scary just silly. G was excited about reading them!

The first chapter took us about 3 mornings to work through (about 30 mins total). There was so much new about them: the font was smaller than she was used to, many more contractions, longer sentences, and even the concept of having to turn the page to complete a sentence. G acclimated quickly though and by the third or fourth chapter she could read one a day (about 10-12 mins). Best of all is that she enjoyed the story!

Monday, July 23, 2012 --G finished her first chapter book, Katie the Kitten Fairy,  and boy was she proud of herself! I'm proud of her too :-)
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Cow Appreciation Day
Its become an annual event! G loves characters and that silly cow is absolutely no exception. We were able to recycle the cow print dress from the last two years. It just keeps getting shorter and shorter. Maybe next year it will just be a top :-) Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dance Photos
The official ones! So cute :-)
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Downtown Riverside photo shoot
Another one of my Groupons led me to a new photographer. These things are kind of crapshoot. They're very inexpensive but you don't really know what you're going to get! We arranged to meet the photog near the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside for 45 mins or so. The girl was young and very sweet. G, as always, LOVED having her picture taken. A few weeks later I received the CD in the mail.

Cute huh?
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Near the end of the shoot the photograper suggested/insisted that we take a couple of pix together. I wasn't prepared to have my picture taken and was looking a little grubby. Oddly enough, I like this one of the three of us :-)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I Don't Cook
Really at all if I can avoid it. I know how to cook (not gourmet or anything but, you know, I can get something tasty on the table if required) but I hate to cook. I was the family cook for years and years. But then, probably 10 years ago, when our schedules changed and Bobby was getting home from work so much earlier than me, he started cooking. I clean up.

The whole point of this story is that, because I don't cook, I've never really cooked anything with G. We've "made" cookies. You know, the ones that come already made and in little squares and you just have to pop them onto a cookie sheet??? But pretty much that's about it. My mother thinks its a travesty, of course, because she's always been a really great cook and gets great pleasure in making stuff with lots and lots of ingredients and steps and stuff. But, yeah, that's not me ;-)

So the day before July 4th (July 3rd for those who don't want to do the math ;-) G asked me something about how a cake is made. This brought immediate guilt as I realized that the reason she has no idea how a cake is made is because I've never baked one with her. This prompted me to immediately promise that we'd bake a cake the next day. G was super excited! Off to the store I went to buy a cake mix and frosting... you didn't think I was going to do it from scratch did you??

First, G used her constantly improving reading skills to read the directions to me.
This box promised a "super moist" cake. Eh, not so much but that's ok.
She carefully cracked the eggs into the bowl...
Poured in the mix, oil and water...
We used the mixer which G thought was AWESOME!!! and then I explained the first rule of baking... all spoons and beaters must be licked before washing! G liked this rule.
Ready for the oven!
Then the hard part, waiting for it to bake. G was not patient with this part at all. She spent a lot of time standing in front of the oven asking if it was done.
Finally, it was done! and cool enough (barely) for frosting. G was really good at that part too and had no trouble remembering the "lick the spoon" rule when we were done with the spatula.
I manaaged to hunt down some sprinkles I had in the cupboard. Sprinkles don't go bad, right??
And then, the very best part... eating! Georgie proclaimed it "the best cake ever" and wolfed it down.
G liked baking so much that we ended up making another cake just a few days later. I must say that cooking with G is lots more fun than just regular old cooking. Maybe I'll try to work it into our schedule every once in awhile.

Of course it was still 4th of July: Swimming and BBQ at home came later. We'd planned to go to a fireworks show. G's never been before because I think they start too late for her. A wee bit more mommy guilt. But because July 4th was on a Wednesday this year and Bobby and I had work and G had school the next day, we skipped it. G was happy enough with the couple dozen poppers and sparklers we picked up for her to enjoy in the backyard.

After that... bed. It was a long day.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Independence Day
We were so fortunate to have beautiful weather this year. Last year it was incredibly hot! This year, lovely blue skies and warm. Nice.

July 4th is a quiet day for us. We decided to go to Claremont and check out the activities they have there. As ususal it was very nice. Live music, political and food booths as well as crafts and other kid activities kept us busy for awhile.

G began by working on her star wand. G is particular so this took quite awhile :-)
Finally complete!
G loves the playground they have at the park there. Truthfully, I do not understand why. The equipment is old and kind of beaten down and they have this old rough sand... maybe because its old and therefore looks different from the parks she's used to around our house??? Anyway, G climbed up onto this dino thing and then requested her photo be taken. G struck a pose
Our commander and chief  was "present" for photos ;-)
We remembered from last time that there was a water slide so we brought G's suit and towel with us in the event she wanted to give it a try. As soon as she saw it she was hooked! Luckily Bobby and I were able to find a spot in the shade to park ourselves for the hour and a half G spent going down the slide over and over and over and over again... climb the stairs...slide, climb the stairs...slide, etc. I think she must have done it 75 times or so before she'd had enough.
Daddy and Mommy (below) with our little star spangled girl.
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They had some tweens/teens from a local performing arts school there singing up on stage. G really enjoyed the music. So she could see better, she climbed up onto a chair and began to dance and wave her little flag to the music. It was quite entertaining to watch. I'm pretty sure there were more eyes on her than on the stage but G pays no attention to those around her when she's doing her moves. Dance like no one's watching sweetie :-)
After than we were pooped so we went home and took a nice nap.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Les Mis
Another classic I'd never seen. Les Mis was definitely on my show bucket list. It was being done at the Segerstrom Center in OC. My friend Candy went with me. We decided on a pre show dinner at Mortons. OK, I'm just going to say it, "YUM!" I could easily have made a meal of their bread alone. Its this huge round garlic loaf which is absolutely to die for. After that it was scallops and creamed spinach and, to top it all off, chocolate souffle!

With our bellies stuffed full of rich food we quickly made the two minute drive to the theater and got into our seats. I was a bit nervous about them actually because, by the time I bought them, the only options were the very front row or way, way back in the balcony. I chose the front row and hoped for the best. I have to say it was really neat being so close to the stage. For once I could really see the detail of the costumes and every single expression on the actors' faces. The only drawback is that we were so close that we could actually see their mike's which had a little speaker thing that dropped onto their foreheads. It was a bit distracting at first but I quickly go used to it and overall it was a fair trade off. Plus, no heads in front of you to block the view!

Most people know the story set in the early 1800s; after being imprisoned for 19 yrs for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving nephew, Jean Valjean breaks his parole and then spends the rest of his life seeking to maintain freedom and find peace and redemption.

The acting and singing were fantastic. The man who played Valjean did one particular song so beautifully I almost felt like giving him a standing ovation in the middle of the show. Don't worry. I showed restraint. But what a wonderful performance it was.

I was also impressed by the Segerstrom which is a very nice and modern styled venue. Being in OC it was definitely a different crowd than I'm used to in LA. I was completely tickled that at the souvenier table after the show everyone was lined up single file and waiting patiently to make their purchases. This is not something I've seen at the Pantages, ever. There, everyone just crowds around and pushes their way forward. Standing single file, so cute ;-)

I give the whole evening a 10+!

That enormous thing on the table in front of us is the $19 souffle :-)