Kid Update

This is a collage of pics from “Divas and Donuts” at the elementary school. It used to be called “Moms and Muffins,” but they decided to change the name to be more inclusive. Brian was in charge of running the event this year, and he did a great job!


  • She’s very aware that kindergarten is almost finished, especially since her teachers at school refer to her class as “almost first graders.” This past Friday she brought home a June calendar from school, and wanted me to circle “the day I will be a first grader” (aka the last day of school)
  • Since we have to arrive at school early for Safety Patrol, Katie and I have begun a habit of hanging out in the car and doing reading lessons while waiting for school to start. She’s moving very well through my Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading book, and I read picture books to her as well. A few weeks ago I found a complete boxed set of Cicely Barker’s “Flower Fairy” books, and Katie loves them. She’s convinced that all the fairies in the books are real.
  • Two weeks ago we watched The Dark Crystal for Old Movie Sunday, and she spent time turning our living room into a theater, complete with paper tickets (separate tickets for entering and exiting the theater), a rope across the entry, and a speech that she gave before the screening (“welcome to the movie theater. The exits are here and here . . .”)
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She used a garland of flowers as the roped-off entrance.
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The tickets she made. It says “Dark crystal ticket”
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Letting us know where the exits are
  • Last week we had a string of rain-free weather, which Katie is not used to dealing with. When she saw the weather forecast in the newspaper, she began to cry. “I am so tired of sunny!”
  • Seriously, when I took them to the Strawberry Festival during the 2nd week of May, she and William hid in my shadow to get out of the sun
Scenes from the Strawberry Festival


  • Katie is desperate for her siblings’ attention lately. This usually ends up with temper tantrums and lots of crying. She and William often get in fights, and I don’t know how to prevent them.
  • The Edmonds Musicianship Festival was the third week of May, and it was Katie’s first time participating. She did great — white and blue ribbons on her performances, and she got her face painted like a fox afterwards. Hooray!
Katie playing “Rodeo” for the Musicianship Festival
  • The year has wrapped up for Katie’s Daisy Girl Scout troop. It looks like we’re still going to have a troop next year, hooray! We finished the year with a visit from a group of Junior Girl Scouts (4th/5th graders) who came to teach our Daisies all about outdoor safety as part of their Bronze Award. I was majorly impressed by all the work the Juniors did, and our Daisies loved it!
Daisies & Juniors at troop meeting


  • Wim just finished a six-week after school robotics course. It made carpooling miserable (I would drive E. to dance early, then drive back and get Wim, take him home, then go back and pick up E. then go home again . . . uuuuuugh, it was two hours of driving but it was only temporary) but it made him light up like nothing else. He chattered about it the whole way home. They finished the class with a “robot Olympics.”
  • He just read Hatchet, since he observed how much Eleanor loved it (right now it’s her favorite book ever). But he doesn’t seem as absorbed by the story as she was. I’ll tell him “time to read,” and he’ll set a timer for 30 minutes, read for exactly that amount of time, and stop. Now he’s moved on to A Wrinkle in Time.
Playing “Simple Gifts” as a duet with Eleanor at the Musicianship Festival
We visited OMSI in Portland on Memorial Day to see the “Art of the Brick” exhibit
  • He is still doing that Kissing Equilibrium thing, where he must kiss me the exact number of times that I kiss him. Drives me kind of crazy, but it’s also endearing.
  • We finally forced him to cut his hair. He really dislikes haircuts and if it were up to him, he’d let it grow down to his waist, I’m sure. When we asked him why he disliked it, he said it was because he liked how we could all run our fingers through his big floppy locks.
Seriously crazy long hair
  • He got double blue ribbons for his solo performances at the Musicianship Festival. William is very self-motivated at his piano practice, so I’m not surprised at all that he did well. I don’t know if he has any great love of playing the instrument — like reading, he practices exactly what is required, and no more.
  • A while ago I read some parenting advice that said, “if you deposit time with your preteens, you can withdraw it from your teenagers,” and it’s very true. Unfortunately William is so quiet that he gets overlooked too often. Lately I’ve been making a point of taking him with me on my Tuesday night library visits. It’s nice having him to chat with on the way there and back.
  • Often he asks the most wonderful questions, like “if you chop up ice small enough, will it turn into water?” I replied that the friction from the blade would melt the ice first. “What if that didn’t matter, if the ice stayed at freezing temperatures?” I said that the you’d end up with very small ice crystals, not water. “What if you split the water molecules?” he went on. Love the way he thinks.
From the Lego exhibit at OMSI


  • Eleanor spent the week before Memorial Day weekend at Camp Orkila with all the other 6th graders from her school. She loved this trip SO MUCH — for days beforehand, she talked nonstop about counting down the days to camp, how she got to meet her counselors ahead of time, how we needed to drop everything and pack her bags right now (this was a week before camp started). She loved camp to pieces. The thing she looked forward to the most was taking a ride on a giant tree swing, and she was able to finagle two rides on the swing. Nice!
Sometimes she gets up early to exercise with me. Here we are drinking our protein smoothies afterwards
Giant slurpee on “bring your own container day” at 7-11. 
  • Elle has really become a sweet wonderful person lately. She’s working hard at getting along with everyone in the family, and I love that she’s maturing this way. On Wednesdays I have to drive her up to Lynnwood for her dance class, and chatting with her in the car is one of the best parts of the week.
  • She’s excited about finishing up elementary school and moving on to middle school next year. This Wednesday is her final band concert. I hope she doesn’t get too weepy during the “moving up” ceremony at the end of the school year.
At the “Art of the Brick” exhibit in Portland
  • YW is treating her nicely (“kids don’t sit on the floor to watch church movies like in Primary”) and she’s looking forward to Girl’s Camp this summer. There was even a High Adventure trip this past weekend for the YW, but she didn’t attend because she had the final concert with Seattle Children’s Chorus. She was not happy about that decision — she really wanted to go camp and hike the Dungeness Spit — but I think there’s a lesson to be learned about sticking to something you’ve already committed to and not dropping out just because something better comes along. Plus, she’s up for promotion to Arioso this year, and we don’t want to risk messing that up.
  • Back in the fall, Eleanor submitted a music composition to the PTA Reflections contest, and we just got it returned to her this past week. She was a finalist at the state level competition! Wow!! Her piano teacher, Frances (who helped her write the piece), is over the moon.
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Here’s her piece — it also got a blue ribbon at the Musicianship Festival


  • We’ve had a bit of discouragement with Jeff lately — a few weeks ago, we were informed by the school that he needs to retake pre-algebra next year. This was a big blow to Brian and I, since we work so hard to help him with math. It’s such a different track from the race-to-the-top way we did high school.
  • He remains the most enthusiastic reader of the four kids. William and Eleanor enjoy reading, but Jeff is the first one to actively seek out his book if it’s one he enjoys. Right now he’s tearing through Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, which is one of my most favorites ever, and it brings me so much joy.
Visiting our friends in Portland over Memorial Day
  • Magic: the Gathering is still his favorite hobby. I worry that he’s going to miss the Magic club once school is out. I can’t convince him to invite any of his club mates over to our house to play during the summer. He mentioned once that he’s concerned about how the other kids swear a lot, and even though I said that wouldn’t be a concern, he’s still not interested. But he does want to start going to Magic Nights at the local game pub. One of these days I need to take him to the game pub in Bothell that specializes in Magic and is decorated to look like the Green Dragon from Lord of the Rings. (It’s adorable.)
Trying out dim sum in Portland
  • Last night I left Jeff in charge of the kids while Brian and I were out. “Turn off the screens and do something else for an hour,” I ordered before I left. When I returned home, there was a cool cardboard fort on the dining room table. I thought it was something the kids worked on together, but no — Jeff ordered his siblings outside, then made the fort by himself. Although Katie was allowed to come in and scribble red marker on the floor as “blood puddles.”
  • He’s still singing with the Seattle Children’s Chorus, although we were asked by the directors to find him voice lessons. So for the last few months he’s been taking voice with a retired music professor who lives in our neighborhood. I think Jeff enjoys them — he’s always very engaged during his lessons, even if he initially fought with me over practicing voice at home. I’ve noticed improvements already. Brian is over the moon; he listens in on the lessons and makes mental notes so he can improve his own singing. Nowadays Jeff has settled in to the habit of coming home from school, practicing piano (on the organ, which he prefers) and then doing voice with me. He sits beside me on the piano while we do duet exercises, with one arm around my shoulders. It is the best.
  • Last week, Jeff came home sweating buckets, so I suggested he stop wearing his insulated jacket all the time. This made him a little upset and concerned.

    JEFF: Mom, is all this heat caused by global warming?
    ME: [looks outside at thermometer] It’s 77 degrees.
    JEFF: So that’s global warming, right?
    ME: Um . . . global warming is happening, but this specific temperature is caused by the fact that it is the first week of June.
    JEFF: So it’s going to STAY this hot??

    Later that night, I found William rummaging through his drawers in a panic, saying “It’s going to be EIGHTY TWO DEGREES tomorrow, Mom,” looking for shorts like he’s preparing for Armageddon.

Checking out the chemistry labs at OMSI

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