Friday, July 30, 2010

Swimming Class and Strawberry Cake

Swimming lessons are going, well, 'swimmingly' -- for Zoe ....

..... and for Ella (who works very hard to keep her chin out of the water)!!

This past Monday was lesson #3, and for the first time both girls 'swam' on their own a short distance, wearing their float belts and using the noodles, and later in the lesson they swam only wearing their float belts. It was very exciting and quite the moment!!

I love how much trust the girls have in their wonderful teacher Alyssa .....

..... and I LOVE the big smile of a new SWIMMER!!

It also was pretty cute watching all four kids swim on their own -- they reminded me of little ducklings paddling along in the water : )

This past Wednesday was lesson #4 and I have to say I'm happily surprised at how quickly Zoe and Ella are getting comfortable in the water and learning all these new skills. They both jumped in twice and totally went underwater (wearing their float belts) and they each swam half the distance of the pool on their own, and back (again wearing their float belts). Each time they looked at me they had the BIGGEST smiles on their faces and my own face was sore by the end of class from my own big smiles -- it's going so well and I couldn't be more proud : )

And even though these next photos have nothing to do with swimming, the girls and I made a little cake the other day and it turned out so pretty I just had to share : )

Simplicity at it's best:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Three Things, Two Pictures and One Video

1) One year ago today Ella had her kidney surgery.
A few months ago she had her follow-up ultrasound and things are looking GOOD!! The deflux appears to be working based on the ultrasound images and the fact that Ella hasn't had any infections this past year. Whew!! We won't know for sure there is no urine leakage unless we do a more invasive procedure, but since things are looking good we decided not to do that at this point. We still need to keep a close eye on her and if it seems like she has an infection get her in right away, then next spring we'll do another ultrasound and go from there. Works for us, and what a relief!!

2) Zoe is still going to her speech class 1x a week (Ella goes too, though the focus is on Zoe) and has been working hard. She can now make the 'G' and 'K' sounds by herself, but it took quite a bit to get to this point -- she actually had to teach her tongue how to move the correct way! Since then she has been working hard to make the correct sounds while saying words that either begin, end or have those sounds in the middle of the words, and for a while it has been hit or miss. She can do it, but she has to stop and think about it and really focus to make sure she makes those sounds. For a few weeks her teacher wasn't hearing any progress, but since we've had a talk about how important it is to practice she's made some nice gains and is continuing now to move forward.

3) For the past few months Ella and Zoe have really been into looking at books, drawing pictures and doing sound spelling with me. Right after they turned four they asked if I would teach them how to read (their pal Jia, who is 6 months older than they are, has read fluently for about 6 months and has been quite the inspiration for Zoe and Ella). I always enjoyed teaching young kids beginning literacy skills but working with my own daughters has been THE BEST : ) I've kept their 'lessons' low-key, but they've had so much fun with it and are both reading at a good beginning level (Ella is into it more than Zoe is at this point) and both girls know over 30 site words (that's a guess, I haven't counted them). I also think it's funny they decided when I'm their teacher I'm not 'mommy', I am 'Mrs. Book'. I'll take that title any day : )

And even though these pictures were taken in May, I thought they were too cute not to post:
Zoe with her drawing of a pig ....

..... Ella with her drawing of a bird.

The same with this video, it was taken early last spring and the girls were singing their morning greeting song from preschool -- I thought it was a riot, especially the very ending.
I just watched it again and the ending that I found to be so funny was cut off, so it's not as funny as I thought it was. But if you use your imagination you can picture Ella slipping on the pile of books she was not supposed to be standing on and falling on her bum. She didn't get hurt and the expression on her face was great -- but it's pretty lame to have to explain why a video was funny : )

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sports Class: Soccer Day

Zoe and Ella started a once a week, for six weeks, sports class today called 'Sports of all Sorts'. Today (in 45 minute), they learned how to play soccer ...... and it was pretty entertaining watching from the sidelines. I think they look like pros already with their soccer stances (E and Z in yellow shirts).

Zoe kicking the ball .....

.... Ella kicking the ball.

Next week the kids learn basketball -- that should be pretty entertaining too {grin}.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pool Party for Two, Plus One Guest

Ella and Zoe have been enjoying their backyard pool A LOT this summer, with and without swimming suits .......

..... while wearing their cowgirl hats .....

..... and while wearing great big smiles on their faces!!

They even invited a little toad they found to join in the fun .....

..... lucky toad, don't ya think?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Bible School

Ella and Zoe were part of a fun, interactive and unique Summer Bible School experience last week called C²U – Creation, Creativity, and You! Each evening started off with a family-friendly dinner and then the children explored their creative side by painting, sculpting, and designing personalized works of art; they discovered creation stories from around the world (Native American, Eskimo, Nigerian and Guatemalan) while local artists paint them live; and they enjoyed fun games and lively global music!!

Each night there was a different theme that focused on the Creation Story (land, flowers and trees, animals and people); and the music, art, games and books all related to that theme.

*Ella painting her bottle on the first night*

*Zoe painting her bottle the first night*

*Learning new songs during Music Time*

*Ella's Monet inspired painting (the art for the FLOWERS theme)*

*Zoe's Monet inspired painting*

*Body Prayer and Meditation at the end of the evening*

*Listening to Pastor Brandon share the Creation Story and how WE are all creators too, with the artists working in the background*

*Listening to local artist Tina explain how to create
Ashanti Akuaba Dolls*

*Ella and Zoe's Akuaba Dolls
(art that tied in with the PEOPLE theme)*

*Listening to a story and watching the story spoken in sign language*
The little guy in the white with his name tag on the back of his shirt is deaf so his dad signed the stories, which was an additional, really neat part of the experience.

*Doing an experiment to SEE the energy in our bodies*

*Ending an evening with Yoga to calm and center their energy*

*Body Prayer with Ms. Nora*

Sunday morning the C2U kids sang a New Guinean Traditional song called 'Roll Over the Ocean' at the church service -- it was really lovely, quite touching and a fun way to end their week. (I have no idea how to get rid of this underlining and it's driving me nuts.).

Zoe and Ella in front of the group tree all the kids made, using the bottles they painted the first night -- lots of glitter and sparkles, a total hit!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sand Play Dough

Last week Ella and Zoe, Irene and Julia (the 2 1/2 year old twins I babysit), and Tom and I went to our neighborhood beach and built a sandcastle and a sand turtle.
*the turtle is on the left in front of Ella*

This week the girls and I made homemade SAND PLAY DOUGH and individual sandcastles, using a super easy recipe from Family Fun magazine:
1) Mix 1 cup of sand, 1/2 cup cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon alum to a saucepan and use a wooden spoon to combine them completely.
2) Add 3/4 cup water and stir the mixture until it is smooth and the cornstarch is dissolved.
3) Cook the clay over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. The clay should start to thicken within a minute or two (this part got to be quite the arm work-out).
4) After about 3 minutes of cooking, the clay will have thickened to the consistency of play dough.

Then the girls went to town squishing, forming, building, sculpting and creating their own unique sandcastles.

The final touch was adding flowers (we didn't have any seashells on hand). I think they turned out really cute and the process itself was a lot of fun : )

*Zoe's Sandcastle*

*Ella's Sandcastle*

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another Milestone

Ella and Zoe had their first swim class last night -- another first for them, and an exciting one. They have been *swimming* in our little backyard pools and neighborhood lake since the summer they were a year old, and have always enjoyed the water (though they're not fond of getting splashed or getting their faces wet), but they haven't had any official swim training yet and were more than ready : )

I had such fun watching them do things they havn't tried before, even when they were a little nervous or apprehensive, and watching them trust their teacher Alyssa. I was a proud mama that's for sure.

And since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a couple of pictures to document their latest milestone met: