Jack-O-Lantern Boy

Fritz just lost his second top front tooth making a total of 3 holes (well, one small one and one huge one) in his mouth. And he’s got one more loose tooth on the bottom.


Taekwondo Tournament

Yesterday we all competed in a taekwondo tournament between the Victory schools in the area.


Adrian got best forward roll for his board break (they don’t score the little people the same as they score everyone else), Fritz got 4th (participation) for his traditional form and 3rd for his traditional weapons form (nunchucks), and Cameron got 1st place for both his traditional form and extreme weapons form.

Adrian, Cameron, Fritz

Jamie got 3rd for his traditional form, Ani got a participation award, and I got 3rd for board breaking.

Jamie, Ani, Me

Standardized Test Season is Upon Us

The other day I took the paper my older kids brought home with them a few weeks ago and highlighted the dates of the standardized tests they’ll be taking. Ani’s first is on Monday (English). She also had to take algebra and biology. Cameron will have to take reading and math.

I hate standardized tests. I get that we apparently have to prove kids are learning something in a way that isn’t teacher given grades. But I’m not sure standardized tests is the way to do that.

A few times over the course of the year so far they’ve taken what they call benchmark tests. These tests give an idea of how well the kids are doing in class and whether they are likely to pass. But those benchmarks have pretty much nothing to do with the reality of classroom work and assignments.

For example, Cameron got a 64% on his most recent reading benchmark. This was apparently a “good” score. If it was the actual test he would’ve passed by a large margin. Never mind his next lowest grade for the quarter was 80%. The benchmark scores count in their final grades (though his reading teacher actually dropped the benchmark score in his third quarter grade calculation because it was so ridiculously out of the norm for him). Ani’s had some similar way out of the norm scores on her benchmarks, too.

For the last week and a half in Ani’s English class they have been prepping for the test on Monday. Basically learning how to pass. This means that’s 2 full weeks (plus random days through the school year) devoted to test prep. They could have used that time to learn things that are actually relevant in the real world.

Standardized testing doesn’t start until 3rd grade. And yet my kindergartener and second grader were doing test-prep-lite on occasion. From early on these kids start getting stressed over these tests. Ani’s a bit anxious about her English test on Monday. Never mind she’s gotten high A’s all three quarters this year in English. Then again, a sophomore friend who is brilliant failed his English STAAR last year the first time he took it. He had A’s every quarter in English, too.

The superintendent said he’d get rid of the standardized tests if he could, if they weren’t required by the state. I know a lot of parents would stand up and cheer if he did.

My Fourth Reader

I taught three kids to read, but my fourth insisted that he had to go to school and have a teacher teach him to read. Mommies can’t do that. Never mind he had already learned his letters, their sounds, how to sound out CVC words, and a few sight words at home. In public kindergarten, he learned just a few more sight words he didn’t already know. That’s it for learning to read in 5 months. Since I brought him back home in January, I’ve been working on teaching him to read (actually we started after school before I pulled him out). I got Primary Arts of Language: Reading (which we love). And now he is reading. Reading quite easily, actually.

On Friday, since he had proven he could read all the words in the first reader without a problem (well, down is still giving him a little trouble), he got the reader. This video is him reading it the second time (he actually read it better the first time because he was much less distracted). The video is very long and I mostly just videoed it so when he is older he can watch it and see himself reading his first ever book. I don’t have a good stapler so I had to put it together a bit wonky (it’s 28 pages long plus the cover) so when I tried to video him holding and reading it, it didn’t work out because he was more concerned about the flapping pages and strange placement of the staples. It worked better with me holding the book while he read (and Cameron using the camera), but he still had some random questions and comments every so often.

If you had told me 2 years ago…

…that we’d be doing taekwondo – and enjoying it – today, I’d’ve asked you what you were smoking. And I’d’ve been pretty sure it was something very, very strong.


We were couch potatoes. Cameron used to play outside, but as he got older, even he started preferring to sit on his butt all day long.


None of us liked sports. We didn’t like to exercise. I didn’t even like to sweat! Ever.


Then – and who knows what we were thinking – we signed up for taekwondo. For four months 5 of us took classes twice a week and now Ani does as well.


It’s not just taekwondo either. Four of us do kickboxing, too (0-3 times a week depending on our schedules).


And the crazy part? We love it! We absolutely love it! It feels good. It’s fun to do together as a family. It’s totally awesome!

Pi Day 2014

We celebrate Pi Day (3/14) every year with pizza and pie for dinner. This year I discovered I signed up to feed the sister missionaries on Pi Day (just happened to be an open slot… it didn’t even occur to me when I signed up what day it was).

This year we made four pizzas. One cheese, one pepperoni (with the pepperoni making pi of course), and two Mediterranean (one with kalamata olives, one without).

Pi Day

For dessert Ani made a cherry pie and I made a chocolate cream pie.

Pi Day

Our celebration was made totally awesome because the sisters totally got it. In fact, one was in the MTC Pi Day last year and her parents sent her a pie to celebrate. She had memorized Pi to 314 places in high school just for fun. When it came time to share a spiritual thought, they tried Alma 3:14 and then Mosiah 3:14. Neither were especially obviously good for a spiritual thought, but they managed to totally tie them together and give a lovely Pi Day thought to leave us with!