Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Report

We've been on a reading bonanza here at Hall Manor!  Jilly asks us to read about 17,486 times a day, usually 3-5 books at a time.  Here are her favorites:

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumbs - Aunt Becky sent Jilly this one.   I hadn't heard of it before but it's perfect for Jilly.  It combines repetition, rhythm, rhyming, and learning body parts.  She asks for this one often.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom - Another one from Aunt Becky (just call her the book fairy!).  This is another I didn't know about- though I don't know how- it's great!  It's too funny to watch all the little letters climb up the tree.  Adorable.  Again, repetitive and rhythmic, so it's easy for Jilly to get into it, plus the ABCs, which she knows now, so it's a fun reinforcement for her. 

Jillian Jiggs - This is one my mom read me when I was little.  I often heard the immortal line, "Jillian!  Jillian!  Jillian Jiggs!  Your room looks like it's been lived in by pigs!"  So when we announced we were naming our daughter Jillian, my mom immediately exclaimed "We can get her the Jillian Jiggs books!!!" And did.  She bought all 5 books.  Jilly likes hearing her name so much and it's a silly story we can repeat to her often.  It's a bit long of a story (more for 5 years old), but the little lines in it are worth it.
Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? - A classic.  I have loved this book since I started kindergarten.  Beautiful, unique illustrations, a soothing cadence, and a simple story teaching colors and animals.  LOVE IT.

Polar Bear Polar Bear, What Do Your Hear? - A follow up to Brown Bear.  My Auntie Terry brought her this when they visited in October 2008, along with a stuffed polar bear.  Jilly loves to look through this book and 'read' it to herself.  It's a bit more exotic with it's animals (peacock, zebra, walrus, boa constrictor, etc) and sometimes the rhythm gets thrown off a little (hippopotamus has a LOT of syllables).  But it's still very fun.

Olivia (by Ian Falconer)- The way this book was written sounds just like how I would write a book.  My favorite page was "Sometime Ian just won't leave her alone, so Olivia had to be firm" with the accompanying picture of Olivia wearing a scary mask and little brother Ian running away. ;-)  I love it.  The illustrations are mostly gray scale, with touches of red, which are soothing and simple.  Jilly asks for "O-wiv-a" at least 3 times away.  We'll read it to her once or twice, then she'll 'read' it to herself over and over again.
And last but certainly not least, our very favorite Fox In Socks.  Steve insisted on buying this one a few months ago, just because he wanted to read it.  Jilly is now equally obsessed with it.  Her favorite page is with Bim and Ben and the bands that BOOM.  Seriously, she breaks out into giggles as soon as we turn to the page.  I personally have a rocky relationship with this book, because sure enough my tongue was quite lame and went numb the first time I read it, even though I was going slow (my plea: heed the warning on the cover!!).  So I decided that I wouldn't read it anymore, only Steve would.  Alas, sometimes Jilly wants it read and Steve isn't around to do it, so I've had to fill in.  I am warming up to it.  I like listening to it, but the actual speaking part makes me nervous and I get annoyed when I mess up.  But I digress.  This book is definitely #1 in our hearts and ears.

Jilly loves books with a strong rhythm, especially with repetitive phrases and rhyming.  She learns so much better through music (memorizes songs all the time), that I think the cadence of the poem-like stories really appeal to her.  We'll hear her chanting phrases from the books often.  Sometimes it's causes us to double take, like when she rushes saying Fox In Socks and it comes out Focking Socks. ;-)  But I think one of the cutest things is when she sits on the couch and recites Polar Bear Polar Bear to herself, while turning the pages.  "Hip-pah-mus, Hip-pa-mus, what da ya hear?  I hear Ze-bwa yehping."  It's cuter to hear, I promise. ;-) 

We are so thrilled that our kids love reading just as much as their parents do! 

Friday, April 9, 2010


Easter was a lot of fun at our house!  It was General Conference weekend, so instead of going to church like normal we got to stay at home and listen to our Church leaders speak via the internet.  I gotta say, that has got to be the best way to enjoy Conference- at home, on your couch, in your pajamas, eating food.  Awesome.  After our spirits had feasted, it was time to go over to Granny & Grampa's for an Easter Egg Hunt and dinner.  Of course, we had to get dolled up for it too.  I really loved the kids' outfits.

Here is Jilly beginning her hunt in the backyard.  The Easter Bunny did a great job and Jilly loved finding them all!

There were lots in the grass and flower beds all around.
Even up on the shed door handle!
When she had to go 'off-road' Jilly was very careful to not get dirty.
 The Easter Bunny tried to get really tricky at one point.

But Jilly found it anyway!

Look at how many she collected!  Her basket was overflowing!

We got a quick picture with her helpers, Mommy,
and Granny & Grampa.
Then we went inside to inspect her loot.  She got quite the haul!
They made such cool noises, as Auntie Juliet showed her how to shake them.
  Jason was too little to hunt for Easter Eggs, so he got a lot of cuddling instead.

We had to put Jilly's eggs away until after dinner, because all she wanted was the candy!  She comforted herself with the magnets from Granny's fridge.  She loved rolling them around and then was delighted when they stuck to the metal frame of the table!
After dinner, we sat down and took a nice family photo.  We don't get too many of them, the last one was from Jason's blessing, over 7 months ago!  So hooray!  

Our Easter was a wonderful day.  We had a good time as family, listening to the prophets and leaders, reflecting on Christ, the Atonement and Resurrection, and eating yummy food.  That's what it's all about, right?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Greg's Visit

Steve's brother Greg came to visit us during his Spring Break.  It was awesome!  We hadn't seen him in over 4 years!  That means he had never met our kiddos!  Scandalous, I tell you.  Anyway, he was here for an entire week and we had tons of fun.  We ate lots of good food, visited cool places and watched a TON of Lost.  Yep, we got Greggie hooked on it.  Excellent, another convert. ;-)  

We spent a lot of time lounging around the house.  The kids loved climbing on and playing with Uncle Greg, almost as much as he enjoyed it.  They loved having him.
Uncle Greg is really strong!

One day we took him out and about in Seattle.  He got to go on a scenic flight out of Lake Union and got some cool pictures.  This is the Aurora Bridge.

Husky Stadium.
Lake Sammamish.  If you look close, at the bottom of the picture, you'll see the Seattle Temple!
I-90 and Mercer Island.
I think this might be SR-520.
Qwest and Safeco Fields.
Big Pointy (as Steve calls it).

Touching down at Lake Union.
Greg, standing in front of the plane.

All of us!  (This is the only picture I think we took of all of us.)
After the plane ride, we went up to Voula's, a tasty restaurant at the very north end of Lake Union for brunch.  It's mostly a breakfast and lunch place, with a lot of Greek options.  Turns out they knew Greg was coming and planned their menu accordingly.

We drove Greg around UW campus, which was beautiful, but since it was raining, we didn't get out and walk around.  We headed home, but decided to detour to Edmonds and take him on a ferry ride.  We got there just a few minutes before the ferry left for Kingston, perfect timing!

Not so perfect was the fact that it was INSANELY WINDY.  Poor Jason hated the cold and wind, so we kept him inside the whole time, but we took some pictures of the rest of us out on the deck. 
Do you see how windy is?  Whitecaps all the way across. 

While we were halfway across, they made an announcement that Hood Canal Bridge was closed because the winds were like 50+ mph, and that there were branches down on the road right off the ferry.  Uh oh.  We thought maybe it wouldn't be too bad right in Kingston, so we could kill some time until the next ferry back.  We were wrong.  We got off and just walking down the pedestrian walkway was nuts.  It was so cold and windy, but we kept going.  As we walked into town, hoping to find a place to get out of the wind and maybe get Greg a coat or sweatshirt (neither he nor Steve had one), everything looked closed.  But I saw there were people inside.  I finally figured out, the power was out!  Yikes!  We looked at each other and decided to race back to the same ferry we'd just got off and head right back to Edmonds.  We booked it and just barely made it.  (Yay for Greg carrying Jilly so we could go faster.)
Ahhh, much better inside!

We wanted to go to Anthony's Beach Cafe to get Greg some fish.  He had two things he just had to do in Seattle, get fish and go to the temple.  He'd gone to the temple the day after he got here, so fish was left.  Of course, the whole Edmonds waterfront was out of power too!  So I called my sister (a former server at Anthony's and wise in the ways of fish-since I don't eat it!) and she recommended Scott's near Aurora Village.  We went there and dude, it was yummy!!  Greg really enjoyed his meal, I think he got halibut.

The kids were so well behaved the whole day we were out and about, but they were ready to relax when we got home.  We got them in some jammies and they cuddled up with Greg.

Gotta love having uncles visit!  We had such a good time with Greg, especially after so long!  We can't wait to have more visitors (hint, hint)!

First Day of School!

Today was a milestone in our lives.  Jillian started school!  We finished all her evaluations and had her IEP meeting on March 25th.  She qualified for special ed services in Communication, Social and Gross Motor skills (I'll put up details another time).  They said the best route was preschool.  So she now attends preschool at a local elementary school, Monday-Thursday 1:00pm-3:30pm.  Her teacher is Miss Myrna and she's quite adorable.  Jilly will also get Occupational and Speech therapies in class. It is an exciting step for her (and us) and we think it will be the best thing for her.  She was quite excited this morning to go!

She really loves the Dora backpack she picked out at Target.

Such a big girl, walking down the stairs all by herself.

But even in the car, she refused to let go of her backpack.  She loves the thing soooo much.  On Saturday, she wore it for a chunk of the day, even telling Steve at one point that she was "going to work".  Hehehe

It was a full family event to take her for her first day.  Daddy walked her to class, while Mommy photographed and carried Jason.

Once we got inside, we hung up her coat and backpack in her cubby and she went to go play right away. 

It was time for us to go and there were no tears, from either her or me.  I was quite proud of us both.  It was a little weird for me to leave my tiny little 3 year old at a school I didn't know well. (She looked so little in the big room, especially with all the other elementary school kids around!)  But it was fine.  She is in good hands.

We went home, Jason had a nap and otherwise, we just relaxed.  It was kind of nice to not have a little girl coming along behind us, tearing everything apart. ;-)  Soon enough it was time to go get her.  I went to her classroom as they were finishing music time; it was Raffi, so I knew she was fitting in well.  ;-)  The report was that she had a good day.  There are only two other girls in the class, so they were thrilled to see Jilly.  :-)  She didn't want to sit still for very long, but when they needed to re-direct her, she went along with it happily.  ::sigh of relief::  I think she's going to do well!

Jilly did fine leaving school, until I had to buckle her car seat.  Then she got mad.  So I gave her her sunglasses on the way home.  As we walked into the house, she was still wearing them.

We went upstairs and got hugs and kisses from Daddy.

It was an interesting day for us!  It's going to be neat to watch her learn and grow in preschool. She is just going to thrive, I'm sure!  Soon, she'll take the bus to and from school, but right now we're driving her to make the transition easier (plus they didn't have it set up yet).  Our little Birdie is so grown up!