Friday, February 28, 2014

Barn Dance

Grace's school has an annual tradition in which all 4th and 5th graders participate in week long dancing lessons by Evo Bluestein.  At the end of the week, her school holds a live barn dance. We actually dreaded going somewhat- after a full work week, the idea of a barn dance wasn't exactly compelling.  However, it turned out to be such a fun evening!  It was interesting to watch as boys asked Grace to dance (gulp), and yet it all still seemed so "innocent."  Grace got to dance with her very good friend, CJ, for several dances, and she also danced with Jason.  After Jeremy felt a little more comfortable, he and I also joined in the fun.  He was a quick learner and impressed a ton of people.  I would highly recommend this event to other Manchester families.  Hope we can go again next year!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Chuc Mung Nam Moi (in Fresno!)

Lunar New Year was actually celebrated in the Central Valley this year!  First time ever!  And I learned of the celebration from a poster on the window of a nail salon, ha!  I was very excited to take our family to this event, but I knew that with it being the first year, it'd probably be small.
Grace proudly wore her ao dai.  Jeremy really wanted to wear his, but sadly, it didn't fit.
 Excited to get li xi!
Grace loved trying the fried fish balls

I was right- the New Year's event has a long ways to go, but I really appreciated being among all the  Vietnamese people.  This time of year always makes me homesick, but this event did ease that this year. I hope our kids will continue to get opportunities to experience our culture in this area in years to come.
Chuc Mung Nam Moi!

Proud of Grace!

Jeremy got a lot of attention for his accomplishments earlier in the month and the spotlight turned to Grace the week after.  I was able to take a half day off work and go to her 1st Semester awards ceremony.  She got recognized for participating in cross country, high honors (straight As), and for Block M (an award in which students have to meet requirements in academics, sports, extra-curricular activities, etc.) 
To earn a 4.0 GPA is amazing in itself  but what impressed us the most was that she was able to earn straight As despite a very, very busy semester that included piano, violin, cross country, weekly art class, and volleyball clinics.  It was not easy- there were times when I thought the pressure would be too much.  Somehow, she made it through with flying colors.  We have asked and wondered if there was something she could give up, but alas, she is determined to do it all.  This next semester, she has decided not to continue with softball.  I was actually very shocked, considering how much she loved playing all-star softball last year.  After participating in volleyball clinics every year for the past several years, she has decided she wants to go further this year.  She will be playing club volleyball this semester for the Hoover Patriots club.  Already, this has involved two-hour practices twice a week and weekend tournaments will be starting up really soon.  It looks like 2nd semester will be just as busy as the 1st semester!

Proud of Jeremy!

We are proud of Jeremy!  He was selected as his class' Student of the Month for Dec.-Jan. for the Character Trait of Responsibility.  Hawks of the Month are recognized with a special pizza lunch on the stage and the principal reads aloud a paragraph from the teacher.
I must say, this actually describes Jeremy pretty well!  We were driving to school the next morning and he asked, "Was Grace as responsible as me when she was my age?  Was she forgetful?"  "She was good at a lot of other things, but yes, she was forgetful.  We're all good with different things."  There was a brief pause before he answered with, "You're right- Grace is good at being forgetful!"  The guy is responsible AND funny!
 (Sorry for the fuzzy picture- it's posted out of my reach on the Hawks of the Month wall!)

In the same week, we found out that Jeremy was one of a handful students who were recognized for being able to read 100 Kindergarten words.  At our school, kids who reach this marker get presented with a certificate and a t-shirt from our principal.  
His teacher later informed us that he's actually quite beyond that marker.  According to Accelerated Reader, he's actually reading at a 2.4 reading level. (Here he is pointing at the 2.9 reading level of this Froggy book).
That's second grade reading level... and he's in kindergarten!  To put things in perspective, I have two students in my fifth grade class who are reading at the same level as him.  Yikes...  
Jeremy is having an amazing year and we are immensely proud of him!

Winter Break

It seems like we always go out of town somewhere whenever we're on break, but it was soooo nice to not have anything planned this Winter Break. The relaxation was much needed!

With all our free time, Grace found things to do to keep her busy.  She looked on Pinterest for a recipe for ripe bananas and made some Chocolate Chip Banana Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream frosting.  I was really proud of her because she made everything herself from start to finish.  She even used a ziploc baggie to pipe on the frosting. (Our family LOVES to watch cooking and baking shows).

I was able to spend time with my former Herndon Barstow co-workers.  They had a wine tasting- fun!  It was so great to reconnect with friends.
 I spent some time doing some deep cleaning.  These two baskets hold almost every card/invitation/announcement that we've gotten since we've been married (not including Christmas cards- those are in other boxes).  It took me hours, but I was able to go through both baskets.  It was so fun to walk down memory lane... I did throw out some items, but couldn't part with most of it!  I cleared some space though, so that's good!
I was also able to finish up projects here and there.  I finally found a frame for these amazing postcards that Jason bought me for Christmas.  We saw these paintings in Edmonton last summer and I fell in love.  The actual paintings and prints are somewhat pricey, but I absolutely love this postcard series. It  will be a wonderful reminder to me of my hometown. 
It was such a nice Winter Break!

Hello, 2014!

Jeremy got sick right after Christmas and it put off our annual Christmas get-together with the Wiens family.  We ended up going up to our family cabin at Shaver Lake with him still not 100%, but there was no way we wanted to cancel our annual traditions!
First up was our Ugly Gift Exchange.  We got them a very tacky, albeit sentimental plaque that said, "Bestest Friends."  They got us an woodland bear figurine (knowing how much we love babies).
We decided to try something new for our kids' gift exchange.  Rather than buying gifts, we had them make gifts for each other.  It was actually very sweet.  The girls made each other friendship bracelets. 
Here are the boys with their gifts: Jeremy made Levi a marshmallow shooter and Levi made Jeremy robot string art.  (Jeremy actually made Star Wars themed gifts, but we didn't realize he was sick when he made them, so we helped him come up with Plan B). 

Later that night, the Lee family joined us.  The Cos weren't able to join us this year- they were in the Philippines!  We missed them!
It was such a bummer that there was no snow this year.  The kids kept plenty busy playing together.  Jill, Christa, and I were able to go on walks and spend time catching up.  Jason, Adam, and Aaron had their annual beer tasting, though this year, they spread the tasting out over several days.
On New Year's Eve, we once again had a fake countdown so that we could send the kids to bed and enjoy the rest of our night, hahaha.  As Grace and Charlotte get older, I doubt we'll be able to continue doing this, but at least this year, we let the girls stay up a little later as they hung out together in their room.
 Happy New Year!

 We love that Jill makes New Year's Cookies/Fritters every year!  Yum!

Such a blessing to be able to start off a new year with our close friends!

Blogging in 2014

With the start of a new year, I've been going back and forth trying to decide whether or not to continue blogging.  I have had the hardest time finding time to blog, but this alone has made me realize how much I really want to.  The bottom line is, I love blogging.  I love reflecting and journaling about the ins and outs of our family's life...  I have printed off our blog by years, and it makes me so happy when I see our kids reading through the blog books together.  They love reading about the things they used to do when they were younger, and they love seeing the pictures, too.  So, despite being far behind, I have decided that I will continue to blog in 2014.