Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Harry is learning to read....

Last week at school, Harry's kindergarten class started a new reading program. Its one that is carried over from the classroom to the home. Its been really fun helping Harry every night with his reading homework.

"The Wet Dog" I could recite the whole thing to you...lol! The first night was like pulling teeth and was painful for both of us. He did not want to listen, let alone look at the book. He was more interested in anything else....agh whats a mom to do? After taking him to bed, I actually cried thinking, I don't know what I am doing here? How do I get a 6yr old to listen and focus when they really are not interested? Is he ever going to read?
This is going to be an uphill battle I thought, but.....

By the second night, after some coaxing, bribing and positive encouragement Harry decided he would really try and read the words. After 10 mins he was reading the first two pages and recognized all the sight words...woo hoo! It was all I could do to not jump on his bed with joy!

Friday came around and it was the day to hand all the homework in (he answered a question every night which I had to sign off on!) He was so excited about completeing the questions, we got through the first week! He earned his reward from the book basket that I had put together for him (OK so its bribery, but its paying off!) He chose a spiderman coloring page and I could tell he was proud of himself for getting to Friday with everything completed "Mom I can read!"

We had a wonderful week of reading and learning. It was a battle and not easy for Harry, but he did not give up and by the end of the week he was able to read the entire book...sigh!
What a great mommy moment, I'm so proud of my little guy!

Here is a new favorite website of ours, great in helping kids learn letters, phonics and reading. Not to mention, independence and accomplishment!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tonight at Karate...
Even though he was a little tired and not really wanting to go, he came home happy and excited to tell me of all the cool things he did tonight. They even stayed a little longer to watch the next class practice, which is the black belt class!

Harry is here in his Karate class with Master Chung. He's loving the moves he is learning, we'll have to take some video of it soon....its super cute! Especially the sounds they make....Hiya!

The school here is really focused on teaching the kids discipline, focus, confidence, concentration and respect. Its great for really helping a certain distracted 6yr old learn how to listen and follow direction from someone other than his parents. Tonight they sent home a chart that we need to fill out everyday with Harry and it is all to do with his listening and concentration at home....Love it!!!
Second Week of our Aussie Trip:
Christmas in the Hunter Valley
Grandma & Grandpa

A short 30min drive from Wangi Wangi and we arrived in the beautiful wine district of News South Whales...The Hunter Valley.
This is where we were to spend the next week out at Dave's moms B&B in one of her cottages, nestled in the vines on Kelman vineyard.


Here's a map.....

We had a wonderful week, catching up with family, relaxing at the cottage, exploring the Hunter Valley and the vinyards in a classic convertible car, wine tasting, chocolate tasting....and lots more!

Dave, Grandma and the boys went swimming every morning
at the
local pool. Which they loved, they even had swimming lessons for a few days.
We had barbies (BBQ's) out on the deck most nights under the stars, joined by the company of a colony of bats, which Harry found to be very entertaining.
Mom and I spent some more time painting, playing cards and reading home magazines! I even managed to finish a novel while staying here!

We had lots of visitors, Steve came to stay for a night, it was so great catching up with the new daddy! Hayden came and stayed with us for a few nights, which was wonderful. Mom came out to visit a few times, which was so nice to just, chat and paint.

While Hayden was with us We all went out to the Hunter Valley zoo together and got to hangout with some local animals....

The boys loved chasing the baby peacocks around, it was hilarious watching them scatter at the sight of one of my boys, the mom peacock would screech back at the boys to say stay away from my babies, it scarred them and they came running to me...a little ironic!
They had a wonderful opportunity to pat a koala and a wombat and feed the kangaroos and
wallaby. We saw emus and ostriches in full run across the fields and loved hearing the cockatoos talking...hello, hello! Harry was amazed that birds could talk.
Another wonderful highlight of this part of our stay was the beautiful Hu
nter Valley Garden Christmas lights. It was so nice to walk around out doors at Christmas, looking at the lights in the heat! Not having to rug up in scarves and coats. The lights were so magical and it was quite the adventure walking through the huge grounds. We bumped into Santa so the kids had to say hi, and give hugs. Dave whispered into Santa's ear the boys names, Santa said "hello Harrison" well that was it. Harry was jumping up and down with pure excitement and a beaming smile..."Santa knows my name!!!" A totally priceless moment. Santa then went on to say be good to your brother and listen to your mom and dad. What a great Santa!

The boys had a ride in a small kids ferriswheel. That went on and on and on. Had to be the longest ride ever. We then realised that it had broken down and would not stop. A very scarry moment for all parents watching. The opperator started to grab the kids out as they came
around. There were my two little guys right up the top, baning on the side...let me out! Finally they were able to figure it out and get all the kids out safely...I was ready to become hysterical! Thank god it was over!

During our stay in the Hunter Valley, the weather was perfect. Sunny and Hot with a little breaze that made you want to sit outside under a tree and soak it all in. I love this pic, it shows the beautiful sun beams...

We celebrated Christmas with Dave's Moms family while here. This was also our first chance to meet our new gorgeous nephew, Tyler and sweetie pie niece, Keeley. Lots of snuggles were had that day. Great Grandpa Leask was also there and it was so good to be with family. Grandma put on a beautiful traditional Christmas lunch, Turkey and Ham with all the trimmings....yum! We then finished the day with a movie down in the theater.
What a wonderful day, thanks Mum for all the great memories of Christmas and our stay out at the Hunter!

Unfortunately our cammera was playing up through this part of our trip, if anyone has pics from Chrissy day, or any other parts of our Hunter Valley stay we would love to see them and I would love to add them to the blog...thanks =)

Swimming success!
Not a great pic, but shows the pool I guess! Even zoomed in, Harry is behind the teacher and Thomas is under the water....lol!

The boys loved their first swimming lesson. For a group lesson environment, they really did have more like private lessons. Very small classes, in fact Harry was the only one in his class and Thomas's class had 3 instructors with 4 kids. What a great opportunity for them to get some great one on one time in the water!

As soon as he met his teacher, Harry could not wait! Splash and he jumped in the water!
Thomas on the other hand was not as ready to make a splash! After 5mins of coaxing him in the water, we ended up having to leave him in the hands of the wonderful instructors and walk away.

Dave and I walked up to the mezzanine level to watch with the rest of the parents. Oh, are we doing the right thing? Is he not as ready as we thought? As we came to the stairs, we could hear his laughter from the stairwell....yay!
As soon as we took a peek to see how Thomas was going, we realized he was having a ball! He was in the water and loving it!
Harry was floating on his back with assistance and doing a great job at what he was asked. He was really trying to do his best...so proud of him!

What a great start to their swimming lessons here at home, we hope it continues to go this smoothly!
The boys are taking classes at the local High School - Hazen and we highly recommend it!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Swimming Lessons.....brrrr!

We have signed the boys up to continue their swimming lessons here in Seattle. They started having lessons when we were back in Aus...where it is hot and sunny!
But honestly, here its a little hard to get excited about swimming when it's so cold and wet out. Luckily the pool is heated to a beautiful warm temp and its indoors (with no windows, we don't need to see how miserable it is outside!)
The boys start tonight, fingers crossed it all goes well.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

First Week of our Aussie Trip:
Christmas at Wangi Wangi
Nana & Granddad

First of all, for my USA friends and maybe most of my Australian friends too...Wangi Wangi, where in the world is Wangi Wangi? If you fly into Sydney, drive 2.5hrs north and you reach Wangi Wangi. Its located on Lake Maquarie about 30mins before you get to Newcastle. OK so I am bad at directions but hopefully that will give you a little idea where we stayed and where my parents live.
Oh a map......even better! (Its the point in the middle of the lake)

The noise of cicada's, the bite from a mozzie, the annoyance of blowies, thongs on feet, cozies on the boys and a VB in hand on a hot humid Aussie summer day....it feels good to be back!
We stayed at my parents for a week and it felt like a beach vacation, it was wonderfully relaxing. Dave and I stayed out in my mums art studio which made it feel even more like a holiday. While the kids stayed in the house with Nana and Granddad....brilliant! A whole week of not waking up to the kids, got to love grandparents. We really didn't do much this week, except hangout around Wangi, catch up with family, play cards late into the night and eat lots of well loved Aussie food!

Here are some of our favorite Wangi memories:

The boys enjoying Fairy bread or as we now call it "Nana bread" Bread with butter and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands....yummo! Traditional Aussie kids party food. This photo was taken out on the side veranda (covered patio) even when it rained we sat out here and played cards, it was usually too hot to be indoors and the coolness of the rain was quite welcoming, not to mention familiar to these Seattlites!

The sandpit that Granddad built just for the boys stay....thanks dad, they still talk about it!

The local pub which has a children's playground in the beer garden....gotta love Aussie kid friendly pubs! We did and we made the most of that.

Hayden's Christmas present to everyone this year was a yummy dinner out at a beautiful restaurant on the lake called Brown Sugar. What a fun family get together and oh so fancy!

We spent a "early" Christmas day together as we were going to be in Tassie for the real Christmas day. Kids won't know the difference and I really think more the better...hehe!
We had pressies, Family which included all of my immediate family, Gwanny, Auntie Kath and Fiona from Canberra and Uncle Rob and Jo from Syd.
Fresh local prawns, mums potato salad, yummy leg of ham and lots and lots of sides....mmmm
And the good old traditional Christmas desert...Trifle! What a memorable Christmas day, one which my mom had been planning for along time, thanks mom!

I also picked up a paintbrush while I was there, something I really hadn't done since high school. Mum had her painting group on Thursday so I tagged along and all I can say is, I am hooked! I have since completed 5 paintings and loving it.

Wonderful time had by all!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

While we were gone....It snowed & snowed!

Here is a pic that our neighbors took of our house during the crazy snow storm!
Thanks Carrie and Jason for being such wonderful neighbors and capturing this for us while we were gone.
Its hard to believe there is a road under all that snow, looks so pretty and oh so fun!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Not another Diet!

Hell yeah another diet and I am totally pumped and motivated! Especially just after watching the biggest loser on TV, I am so not going down that track!
I have just signed up for an online group that Michele suggested and is doing too...called the Self Diet Club. Its always fun to lose weight with friends...wish us luck =)


I thought about posting my starting weight here to help keep track of my progress. Yeah right, I don't think so.

Here's to a healthy life and to working off all the Aussie foods recently consumed, meat pies, sausage rolls, smiths chips, tim tams oh and the list goes on....
3am and still awake!!!
...............I hate jet lag Grrrr!
Gwanny & her great grand kids

One of the biggest highlights of our trip to Australia is our first stop, which is always a visit to my Grandmas! Love my Grandma and I LOVE seeing my boys with her (her only Great Grand kids). Grandma is my moms mom and is who I want to grow up to be!

You may read the title and think its a spelling mistake, Gwanny? Don't you mean Granny?....Its what my boys love calling her, its like their special name for just her and its a lot easier than saying Great Granny Gwen. So its Gwanny for short! Love it!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

How to get a Six year old to eat Broccoli!

"Mom I hate that green stuff!"

Its always a battle to get the boys to eat their greens, especially Broccoli.

Is it bad for a parent to lie to their child by playing on their strong belief that one day they will grow up to be a power ranger? Or to exploit the fact that your child is obsessed with all things Power Rangers and is easily swayed by any suggestion of PR?
Anyway, what ever works...right?

"Harry, Power Rangers eat Broccoli! This is called Power Ranger Broccoli and its what makes them strong. Eat one and lets see if you grow big muscles?"

Well need I say more...hahaha! Gobble Gobble Gobble!
"Mommy do you see my muscles yet?"

Shock! Do I try it again and push my luck or be content that at least he has eaten one little tree of broccoli. OK, it went better than expected lets try it again....

"Harry, I see your muscle in that arm, but what about the other arm? Eat another piece of Broccoli so your other arm can grow strong too. Your so lucky to have muscles"

With out blinking he says (mind you pushing his bowl in my direction)
"Well, here mommy you have the rest of my broccoli so you can grow muscles too!"
Thought it was too good to be true....LOL!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

From sunshine to snow!

A real tan in December.....nice
The weather in Aus was just beautiful, we had rain for a few days but even then it was still warm and T-shirt weather. A real Australian summer complete with thunderstorms, hail and hot humid weather.

The kids had a ball playing outside most days, running around with bare feet enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Playing in the sandpit that Granddad built for them. Wearing summer clothes that had only been used a few times in Seattle due to the seemingly short summer last year. Gosh it was good to be out doors!

Seattle on the other hand was experiencing the worst snow storm in 10years, just our luck to miss a white Christmas! 15inches in one day...yikes! We had friends snowed in for days, the airport was closed and no one was going anywhere. It would have been a sight to see (I think our neighbors snapped some shots of our house, will post when we get them...thanks C & J)

This pic was taken just up the street from us

It was pretty extreme going from 31/92 deg in Sydney to 3/38 deg in Seattle....brrrr!
On arriving home, we discovered that we had no running water. It turns out with the extreme cold our water pipes burst while we were gone. Thanks to our neighbor who called the Fire department to turn off the water we avoided a huge water bill not to mention a flooded yard!

The snow can still be seen in places around the place, it must have been one amazing snow storm.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Our Aussie Adventure....
Sun Christmas Family Fun Times

I was really hoping to blog our trip while in Aus but getting to the internet proved to be tricky. If we were not near a computer we were busy catching up with family and friends, what a busy time!

The trip was off to a great start, bags packed and on our way to the airport, on time and all! On checking in we were upgraded to premium economy....wooo hooo! This is a new class between economy and business. Finally a flight were Dave and his legs would fit....ha! The flight was better than expected, the boys slept and the movies were all ones I had not yet seen.

We arrived in Sydney to a humid hot day. The sun was shining and there was a firmilar warmth that I had not felt in years. It was good to be home!

From the moment we touched down to the time we took off, every moment was spent with family and friends.
First stop Grandmas, we always head straight there from the airport to say hi. Then it was on to my parents were we stayed for the first week in Wangi Wangi located on beautiful Lake Maquaire. Here we got to take a break and relax with my family. During this time we also celebrated our 9th Wedding aniversary.
Next we were off to the Hunter Valley and stayed in the Kelman vineyards. Where Dave's mom has a beautiful B&B and a rustic log cabin. Again a wonderful time of catching up with family.

Then we were off to Tasmainia were we stayed with Dave's dad and stepmom in their beautifully restored bank in the middle of Hobart, this is where we were for Christmas and the best way to describe it was magical!

After a short stay in Tassi we were back on the plane for Sydney. We next stayed with Pete and Caz Dave's brother and sister in-law. But before we knew it we were packing our bags ready to head home to Seattle. Seriously, blink and it was all over.

Millions of memories made in a time that flew by way to quickly.
This was a Christmas holiday never to forget!

I know this is a very brief summary of what we were up too, I will be blogging some of the stories from our trip over the next few days, check back soon!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!
First New years resolution.....get back to blogging

So I know its totally cliche to welcome the new year in and talk about your resolutions and plans for the year to come. But I am so excited about the year ahead and what I want to do, I just had to get them down.
Starting with getting back to daily blogging. So much has happened since my last blog that I will dedicate January to catching everyone up on our Aussie holiday and Chrissy celebrations.
Here are some of the things we are looking forward too this year...
  • To stay in better touch with family and friends.
  • This year Dave and I are going to learn French together in preparation for our trip to France (Hopefully for our 10th wedding anniversary which is also this year!)
  • I want to learn to cook fancy gourmet foods and will be enrolling in a cooking class at the local Tech. Looking forward to more entertaining with friends.
  • To keep the house clean and organized while teaching the boys this valuable life skill too.
  • To weekly teach my boys a life virtue and help them to be well rounded.
  • To focus on my friends and strengthen the wonderful friendships I am already blessed to have.
  • And of cause there is the good old weight loss resolution, of cause I will be making some lifestyle changes here and look forward to learning how to cook healthier. I'm even seriously considering to attempt a half marathon this year...time to get in shape!