Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Amazing Abigail

Where to start with Miss Abby. She really is such an amazing girl that I don't know where to begin. Well, I guess I'll start with the most recent. Saturday was a very special day for Abby, she was baptised and became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was such a sweet baptismal service - Cameron's parents came out for the event (I think they've been to all their grandkids' baptisms) and we also had a few friends from the ward attend. Abby asked Grandma Julie to give the talk on baptism and her Primary teacher to give the talk on the Holy Ghost. Both talks were excellent and I enjoyed them. I hope that Abby was listening, too - I'm sure she was. I think she was a little overwhelmed at being the center of attention, I know that I would be. Unfortunately in all the hub-bub of trying to get to the chapel on time I totally forgot to grab the camera. Luckily Grandma and Grandpa didn't. So here is a picture of us after the service.

What else to tell you about - well, she had a little birthday party, I mean after all, how many times do you turn 8? She had the choice of having a bigger party or having a smaller sleepover. She choose the sleepover. So she invited her 3 best friends and they were all able to make it. It was a fun night. The girls all played for a while and then we had make your own pizza for dinner. After jammies were put on they got a little facial and pedicure (by yours truly) and relaxed while watching a movie. Here's a picture of Abby and her girl friends.

Don't you just love that they're all in the awkward "my teeth are too big for my mouth" stage? Good thing it happens before they really start caring too much about their appearance, otherwise we'd miss out on those truly happy smiles.

Abby also had lots of things going on during the last week of school. She was Outstanding Citizen for the school year in her class (I think there was a boy selected from her class as well). She was super excited. Here's Abby and daddy at the awards ceremony:

At that same assembly Abby got another award that we didn't even know about! Luckily we stuck around, talking to some friends and waiting for the volunteer recognition thing-a-ma-gigger that was supposed to be afterwards.

So the whole school had a poster contest with the theme of "Our Laie Bay". There was an artist that was painting a couple of murals on the school and this was part of that. The murals are based on the same theme - but that's a post for another day. Back to Abby. Well, she won honorable mention in the poster contest. And, by the way, I totally love her poster. She did a fantastic job with it. It's now hanging over our table. Here she is getting her award - she was totally surprised, too. They didn't tell anyone who won, except the top 3 places, I think they contacted the parents so they were there. Anyway, picture:

And here's one last picture of Abby with her teacher from this year, Mrs. Kitagawa. I think Abby will get along great with all her teachers, she's just that kind of student (and hopefully she'll stay that way), but I really think Mrs. Kitagawa was sad to see her leave.

What else can I tell you about Abby? She truly is amazing. She is quite the helper around the house, especially when it comes to Juliana. I'm not sure how, but she can carry Juliana around - and that's seriously like half her body weight in baby! Abby brings Juliana into our room pretty much every morning and if I happen to not hear her wake up in the middle of the night she'll bring Juliana in then, too. And she doesn't ever complain about it.

She's an amazing student. Not only does she do her work, but she does it well, and I think she actually enjoys it. I know she enjoys math and she definitely enjoys reading. For most of this last school year her reading homework has been to read for 20 minutes everyday. She can read whatever she wants, and honestly, most days she reads way more than just 20 minutes. And she can be reading a bunch of books at once - definitely something she gets from her dad. I'm a one book person myself - I need to finish one before I can move on. But Abby (and Cameron) can be reading multiple books and still know what's going on in each one. I don't know how they do it.

Abby's pretty much the best 8 year-old anyone could ask for. She's generally the child that I worry the least about. She can keep herself entertained, entertain others as needed (LOVE that), and usually has a great attitude. Not only that, but she does what she knows is expected of her, and like just about everything she does, she does it well. She loves to play with her friends, she loves to play with her brother and sisters (well, most of the time), and she is constantly leaving me cards and pictures that tell me just how much she loves me. I can't wait to see just how much more amazing Abby becomes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Jubilant Juliana

{There are (many) video clips in this post. So if you get this as an email, you'll need to click here to go to the actuall blog to view the videos.}

Juliana really is a jubilant baby. She's happy 90% of the time, and usually when she is grumpy its for a good reason. She's so easy to just take along wherever we need to go, even when we have to drive into town. She's just starting to develop her own little sense of humor - and trust me, if she doesn't think it's funny she's not going to laugh.
Here are a few highlights of her emerging personality over the last few months.

Taking her first steps. She actually did this last month while Cameron was in Utah. By the time he got home she was toddling around everywhere. A fun surprise for him.

She purrs - she doesn't do this as much as she used to, but at night she does this when we play with her, after the other kids are in bed.

She does a pretty darn good Darth Vader impression (really this is hilarious in person, the video doesn't do it justice).

A fashionista revealed - she's very recently begun to bring me clothes from her room that she wants put on. Here is a sampling of one of her fashion creations.

And the view from behind - because it's just as cute.

She's super sensitive to mosquito bites. Seriously, they turn into enormous hives. And the of course she wants to scratch them and it just goes down hill from there. If we put a bandaid on them, she just picks that off, too. We did however find some tattoo bandaids that she hasn't been able to remove, so we use those as much as we can. Here's a picture of her last bite - it was a big one. Weeks later it has finally healed up, but you can still see the mark on her leg where the skin is still red.

And she loves to dance. Anytime she hears ANY music she starts dancing. Even without music sometimes! She's a dancing fool.

{Sorry, I can't seem to find my video of her bustin' a move. I'll have to take a new one and post it soon.}

She's a bit of a neat freak. Well, ok, we'll just say she's a good helper. She likes to pick things up, which is normally great, but can be a little discouraging when you're trying to fold laundry. But otherwise it comes in handy (as anyone who has seen our house on a daily basis can appreciate).

Her most recent obsession is drinking from regular cups. She would do this all day if someone would sit with her and help her out - doing it herself doesn't last too long, once she dumps all the water on herself she's pretty much done.

She sure talks a lot, but most of the time we have no idea what she is saying. Her English vocabulary is still very limited (as in "uh oh" and "maaa-maaa") but I have a feeling that one of these days she's just going to starting talking in full on sentences.

Juliana is an interesting mix of the whole family - and really she only got good traits of each of us. She's got a love of reading from Abby (ok, so she's really just into looking, pointing, babbling, and then turning the page). She's got a need to know how things work from Isaac. She's got a need to look good (and primp) from Danielle. She's got her beautiful dark eyes and hair, and her olive-ish skin from her dad. And she got her laid back attitude from her mom.

All in all, she's quite the package, and the perfect little addition to our family. She's always excited to see us - even if you just walk in the other room, she just lights up when you come back. She keeps us all smiling, and and she gives us lots of loves, from hugs and kisses to blowing kisses and waving goodbye.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Incredible Isaac

I decided to write up a few posts that each feature one of the children. They are all doing such great things lately and have so much going on. I thought it would be fun for me and for them to have a post completely devoted to just them!

I'm going to start with Isaac. Sometimes I think the poor boy is missing out on some of life because he only has sisters. But he's a good sport and he a lot of times he plays along with girly things (against his wishes) just to keep the peace.

Isaac's been up to a lot lately. School has been keeping him busy and he's been working hard at being a good student. His hard work paid off last month when he found out that the was Super Citizen for his class in May. Daddy happened to be in Utah when they recognized him, but Juliana and I were there to celebrate with him (and Abby was in the audience, too).

And this week marked another celebration - Isaac graduated from Kindergarten! He was super excited for this, since I didn't have him participate in the graduation last year (since he wasn't moving on to 1st grade). He was up at 5:45am and by 6:15 he had gotten himself dressed in his "Sunday Best" without any help. From then until 6:45 when I got up, he was in every 5 minutes asking where his tie was. See, his teacher, Mrs. Saizon, gave all the boys in the class Eagle Scout/Missionary ties. {Yes, you can do that sort of thing in this community and totally get away with it. It's kind of cool. I'm pretty sure everyone in Isaac's class, including Mrs. Saizon, is LDS. I'm sure Mrs. Saizon wouldn't have called it a missionary tie to anyone who wasn't.} Isaac was really excited to wear it, but I didn't want to put it on until we were in the classroom at school, since he had to eat breakfast still. ANYWAY - he was ready.

The ceremony was yesterday (Thursday) morning. And after it was over, he got to come home. And the girls still have school today, so that was special, too (though I think he's already bored and it's only 9am).

Here's Isaac shaking the Principal's hand, Mrs. Voorhies.

Here's Isaac with his teacher Mrs. Saizon - after the donning of the leis. Isaac ended up giving his kukui nut lei to her - he wanted her to have one. It was super sweet. {The kukui nut one is the one that looks like black and brown beads.}

Isaac really loves Mrs. Saizon. He actually started out in her class last year. I told her up front that I was planning to hold him back for a second year of kindergarten, simply because of his birthday (Christmas Eve - he was only 4 when he started kindergarten). She really wasn't too happy about that, but didn't make a stink because I think she figured we'd deal with it later (and secretly I think she thought she would talk me out of it). Well, they formed a new kindergarten class in about November that year and he ended up moving to that class (they just moved the last 20 students to register to make it fair). I think that was one of the best things that could have happened to Isaac. His teacher last year, Mrs. Ah Sue, was much more laid back and less rigid with the students - that's what Isaac needed then. She was very supportive of having Isaac repeat Kindergarten, not because she thought he needed to, but because I wanted to. She definitely went to bat for me with the administration. They were not happy to have a Jr. Kindergarten repeat - it was kind of a matter of pride that since the program had started a few years before that all the Jr. Kindergartener has moved up to 1st grade.

{Side note - Jr. Kindergarteners are any students who were not yet 5 when the school year started. They were not in their own class, they were just mixed in with everyone else. The theory is that the students get started earlier, which is supposedly better for them (especially in a lower economic status area, which Laie definitely is), but if they need the extra year repeating kindergarten is a option for them. However, like I said, it was a matter of pride that Laie Elementary had always moved all the Jr. Kindergartens up to 1st grade. I had talked to one of the teachers when Abby was in kindergarten and she was concerned and felt really pressured to pass all her students, even though there were a few she didn't feel comfortable having move on. I didn't want Isaac to be one of those. I wanted him to be ready for 1st grade without haven't to play any catch up later. I would rather he be a little ahead of the game instead of always feeling behind. Make sense, right? OK, back to the story.}

Anyway, Mrs. Ah Sue let the administrations know my concerns. I talked to a councilor about it briefly and after getting a little flak about if, I guess they finally decided it wasn't worth the argument, because they let me have him repeat. And I found out at the beginning of this school year that after I choose and succeeded at holding Isaac back that 6 other students (well there parents) decided to go the same route.

OK, that took way to long to explaining - what I'm really getting at is how much we love Mrs. Saizon! I was excited that Isaac was assigned to her class again this year - we was ready for her. Mrs. Saizon is a most amazing teacher. She instills responsibility, honesty, hard work, all the values that you want your child to have. And she does it in such a loving way. She's a more structured (which is why Isaac needed something different last year), but in a kind way that helps the students to learn how to learn and to be in charge of their learning. I don't know how she does it - she has an amazing talent for working with children. {If I could do my student teaching with her, I would do it in a heart beat.} Isaac learned so much more from her than just academics. He's always saying her motto - I think she had them say it everyday at school:

"To be the best that I can be, the choice is always up to me."

I mean seriously people - kindergarteners that now only know this - they understand and believe it. I just goes to show the power of a good teacher, especially in the early years of schooling.

I asked Isaac what his favorite thing about Mrs. Saizon is and he said:
"She's nice. She let me be Super Citizen (obviously this was a big deal to him). She gives the best hugs."

My favorite thing about Mrs. Saizon - besides all that I've already mentioned - is that anytime she brought up something that needed addressing with Isaac, she always supplemented it with something that he did well. For example, Isaac has had continual problems with staying focused in class (and at home,too). We would have regular conversations about this, discussing things that have worked to help him. Always somewhere in the those conversations she would mention something that Isaac did really well. She was impressed with his ability to build contraptions with Legos and constructor sets that she had in the room - not just the things he build, but that he could describe all the details of it and what everything did.

And when it came right down to it, she wasn't afraid to say that though it wouldn't have been her choice to do so, she did agree that Isaac greatly benefited from staying in kindergarten another year.

OK, this post got HUGELY long. And I've wandered from Isaac and his accomplishments.

I have one last picture of Isaac and his special guests. Grandma and Grandpa Peterson made the trek out the Hawaii for Abby's upcoming baptism and a stay at their timeshare on Kauai (which we get to stay at, too, super excited about that) and they just happened to arrive in time to attend Isaac's graduation. I think it just made it that much more special for him and I so happy that they were able to make it (without even planning ahead for it). Here is a picture taken after the festivities (and it's a good shot of his special tie).

Isaac's really such an amazing boy. He's very loving - I don't know many six year old boys who still want to give their mom (and baby sister) a hug and a kiss (in front of his classmates) before they start their school day. He can climb anything - trees, swing sets, monkey bars, poles in random places. He has an amazing imagination and definitely does not lack in the creativity department. He is a budding artist, who I hope will continue to develop those talents - and I hope that I remember to keep helping him with that, too.

If there's anything you want to add about the Incredible Isaac - leave it in a comment and I will pass it on to him.

Up next - the Jubilant Juliana...