Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bible Museum, Kindergarten completion, commended, & the beach!

Busy, busy time of year! School is almost out...yippee!
Gracie has had 2 fantastic Bible Class teachers on Wednesday night for the past couple of quarters. This last Wednesday, the 3rd-5th grade students put on a "Living Bible Museum" for all of us. It was really cute! The students dressed up as a Bible character and stood like a statue until someone touched them. At that point, they would begin talking, telling about who "they" were.
Dressed all in purple....can you guess who Gracie was?
Yep! She is Lydia, seller of purple! Found in the book of Acts. I love her costume because that purple bathrobe was made for ME by Maw Maw, my precious grandmother who passed away when I was pregnant with Katie. It has been worn by Gracie and now Katie, and served as a great part of Gracie's costume!
This was one of my favorites: King Agrippa...eaten by worms! He had gummy worms hung all over him. It was great!
Thursday was the Kindergarten awards ceremony and picnic at school. They sang some really cute songs for us, received Kindergarten completion certificates, then we got to go outside to the park and have a picnic and the kids were able to play.

Katie has had a wonderful Kindergarten year, and we are so proud of her! She has a great teacher who has helped her to be successful. It is amazing how much she has learned. We were able to take home her journals from throughout the year. I LOVE looking at how far she's come and how well she is doing now with her writing. I LOVE a teacher who encourages writing. I mean, DAILY encouragement and then taking the time to express to the students how far they've come and CELEBRATE that!
Katie is all about dragging books around these days which I LOVE! She loves to read the "I Can Read" books because she can read them well. She will read them over & over. She has ventured into a couple of chapter books...Magic Tree House, Rainbow Fairies...but seems happier sticking with the smaller books. I think she got frustrated when she tried to do too much too soon, but her confidence is getting bigger each day, and she's doing GREAT! She likes to have her turn when we do their Bible reading and can really do even more than she thinks she can! Last night, she took books to dinner. LOVE it!
One day, she wanted to read as we walked to school!

Here is my pretty girl at her Kindergarten picnic.
Here are some funny pictures of Ellie. She is a silly goofball and can say, "CHEESE!!!!!" really well!
One of the not-so-charming things she does is rifle through her sisters' backpacks & bags! Not much is safe around her!

I'd like to say a couple of things about my wonderful, sweet, amazing 9 year old daughter. I asked a friend the other day if it's too weird to say that I want to be like my children when I grow up? She just possesses so many qualities that I admire. This is my blog where I record memories for my family, so I want to make note of her TAKS scores for this year. I hesitated to put them because I don't want to just look braggy, but Chris & I are SO proud of her, and the main purpose of this blog is not for others to read it (although I love it when people do) but to record memories for my family and to record my thoughts.
Part of what makes me proud of her is her attitude about it all. She is so unaffected by it all and so non-stressed out about things. I ADMIRE that and so wish I was more like that! LOL Yesterday, apparently, her teacher pulled the students out of the classroom and individually told the students their TAKS scores. For those of you not in Texas, the TAKS test is the BIIIIIG test here. So many stress about it..teachers, students, parents, etc. Houston ISD (not our school district) has BIG cheating accusations made against some of the administrators, teachers, etc. RIDICULOUS! Obviously, the testing in general isn't perfect, but this isn't about the positives vs. negatives of standardized testing. It is what it is. We're in the public schools in Texas, so it's what she needs to do. I'm okay with that. I admire the way she just does it and doesn't stress. I feel for those students who do stress, but I admire the way Gracie just does it because it's something she's supposed to do, and that's that.
She took Reading, Math, & Writing. In 4th grade, the writing test is a pretty big deal. In 3rd grade, she only did Reading & Math. For the writing test, they have a "question" part and then also write a composition which can be scored 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 (highest score). Obviously, you want to pass the test, but if miss only a specific number on each test, you get "commended" for that test. I'm not sure what the magic number is for each one. I think it just depends on how many are on the tests.
Well, Gracie got what her teacher referred to as a "Grand Slam!" She got commended on Reading, Commended on Math, and Commended on Writing with a "4" on her composition!!!!!!! We are soooooo proud of her!!!!!!! She said only 2 people in her class got a "4." The funniest thing about her receiving her scores is that she nonchalantly told me this morning, "Oh. We got our TAKS scores yesterday." like it was NO BIG DEAL! She cracks me up! I just love her so much and am so proud of the way she works hard, has such a desire to please, is easy to get along with, is such a good big sister to Ellie (she & Katie have been fighting a lot lately. grrrr), and is sooooo laid back. (She gets that from Chris 100%!) I credit her teachers with doing a great job of teaching her and apparently not stressing her out too much while doing so. Of course, I give God credit for giving her the ability to learn and the motivation & self discipline to do well in so many areas of life. I truly wish I could be more like her!
Today, we went to Galveston to spend the day at the beach. It was great! Gracie got a last minute invitation to sleep over at a friend's house last night. We told her she could but we'd have to pick her up around 7:30. Her friend's parents said that was okay, so this morning we picked her up at 7:30 and off we went! We got to the beach around 9:30. It wasn't very crowded and even when more people showed up, it was mostly families which was really nice. It, of course, got hotter as the day went on, but we had an umbrella (probably need 2 so all of can be in the shade more often) and the water was nice, too. At one point, Chris was going to leave to get more sunscreen and pick up some lunch. He said he would take Ellie to get her out of the sun for a bit. Well, Katie & Gracie both wanted to go with him, too. So..........that left me by myself at the beach. Wow; that was tough sitting there under my umbrella ALONE with a nice breeze blowing and my book to read. heeheehee
They stayed gone about 40 minutes, then they were kind of ready to play some more after taking a break in the a/c. We stayed til about 2:30. When Katie curled up on Chris's lap and Gracie was just sitting there trying to get as much into the shade of the umbrella as she could, and Ellie was just wanting to snack, we decided it was time to go!
Chris & I wanted some seafood, so we found a place called Shrimp 'N Stuff. We didn't want all of us to go in; Katie & Ellie had already fallen asleep (of course they woke up when we stopped) but he went & got himself some fried catfish (which isn't technically seafood I don't guess!), cole slaw, fries & hushpuppies and got me some boiled shrimp, cole slaw, & hushpuppies. It was good! Gracie & Katie snacked off of ours while Ellie just tried to roll the hushpuppy like it was a ball.
Here are some pictures of our day!

We saw several dolphins jumping out of the water, and I was lucky to actually get a picture with one of the fins! It was neat because Gracie said, just as we got there, that she wanted to see a dolphin!
Here, Chris is showing the girls some crabs who were fighting under the water right near them.

Ellie was hesitant at first but warmed up to the water quickly. She especially liked being with Gracie in the water.

Gracie wanted us to bury her. Of course, then Katie & Ellie wanted to join in.

Ellie enjoyed snacking and didn't mind a little extra sand in her teeth!

It was a good day!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Open House, etc........

We had Open House tonight at the girls' school, along with yearbook & autograph book signing, picking up cookie dough orders, and a Chick Fil A picnic at the park next to the school. It was VERY well attended (to say the least) and a great night for it. Hot, yes. Muggy, yes. BUT, there was a breeze every now & then, so it really was a nice night. Gracie & Katie enjoyed running around, getting friends to sign their books, looking at work in their classrooms, taking pictures with teachers, eating Chick Fil A, & running around playing games. School will be over SOON! We like school around this house, but it will be nice to have a break.

I loved this cute bulletin board the Kinder teachers had each done for their classes. Very cute! I'm not sure exactly why Katie's picture is stapled right in the middle of her face, BUT it's still really cute! HARD to believe that my Katie will be going to 1st grade next year!

I was so excited when I went into Katie's classroom and saw her JOURNAL laying on her table. The journals haven't been sent home, and I've been looking forward to reading hers since she started Kindergarten. However, as Gracie pointed out to me, we still couldn't take them. We could look at it, but they still have writing to do, so I guess I'll wait another 2 weeks. It's okay....I LOOK FORWARD to reading them! There was only 1 set out that Mrs. B said was from since April. She said there is much more. Yea! I love reading my children's writing! This entry is so neat to us-the way she put so much detail. (Click to make it bigger.)

I love Kinder work!

Mrs. B has been a fantastic teacher for Katie this year! She has taught her so much and kept such a positive attitude with the students & parents. She's always willing to offer insight into how Katie is doing, and is always very positive in what she says. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and Katie has been blessed to be in her class!

I loved looking at the work in Gracie's room. They do a lot of Texas history in 4th grade, and her teacher has done some neat things with that. Today, they went on a fun field trip to a ranch where Gracie said they learned about pioneers, etc. She really enjoyed it.

I love this "Texas Battles" book she made. She wrote about the different battles and made it into a pop up book. I love how she took her time on it and made it look so nice.

Here is an assignment that was posted on the bulletin board, along with the rest of the class. I snapped a picture of it but didn't really look to see what it was exactly. I just knew I liked she look of it! Writing & artwork. I just really like the idea of making a book or pamphlet or piece of artwork out of an assignment rather than just writing down basic facts alone.

Here is the 'brand' she created. Funny thing is, the Shanks family really had a family brand on the sheep ranch where his grandparents live and worked for many years. They would brand the cattle with it. It was a heart with an "S" in it. She didn't even know that when she created this one; very similar!

Her little cowgirl & cattle drive are so cute!

I think one of the things I like about these projects is simply that they were done, even though 4th grade is such a 'big' grade as far as testing, etc. I like that her teacher has made this history series fun.

Here is a cute story she wrote about her daddy fighting in WWII, her going blind because she hit herself in the eye with a hammer, and her seeing eye dog being killed by a drunk driver! It's kind of hard to read the way I had to take pictures of it. Click on it to see it bigger. I like the way her teacher has taught her to pay attention to the parts of what she is writing so that her writing will include different aspects, such as talking, thinking, etc.. Maybe I'm just a nerd!!!!!!! LOL

Mrs. F has been a good teacher for Gracie. I know Gracie has grown & learned a lot this year, and I have appreciated the fact that Mrs. F has a faith in God and is open about it. I haven't gotten to develop as close of a relationship with her as I would like to, but I don't really have any real reason to complain. There are a lot of things about her that I really like. I guess I wish every year could be a Kinder type year! :)

Mrs. D was Gracie's "switch teacher" this year & taught her well in Math; she has really gained in her knowledge in this area! Gracie showed us her Science journal tonight which was full of a lot of stuff, so I know she's learned a lot in that area as well. I'll admit to not really getting to know her too well; she seems a bit hard to get to know, BUT Gracie has learned a lot and done well, so why complain? Not every teacher can be young & spunky, right?! :)
Speaking of young & spunky :) here is a picture of the girls with their beloved Mrs. S! She was Gracie's teacher last year, and we all just love her! I pray that Katie can have her one year, too. She is one of those teachers who makes each child feel SPECIAL and goes above & BEYOND to be a good teacher & friend. She has been most helpful to us part of this year by picking up Gracie on the days when she has newsletter since she has to be at school early. It has helped me to not have to get Katie & Ellie out that early and then come back home for a short while then go back out again to take Katie to school. She is great!
Mrs. T was a student teacher in Gracie's class last semester, then she was hired as a 3rd grade teacher for this semester. She told us tonight that she might teach 1st grade next year, so maybe Katie will be lucky enough to get her next year! I'm not sure who she "needs" for 1st grade, but I have a pretty good feeling about Mrs. T., so I think I'd be good with her!

Gracie loves art, and she has some really good pieces in her portfolio.
Here she is pointing out the flip flop. She asked me if I could tell that's what it is. It is a weave. I can see it!
In other news:
Life is plugging right along for us in the Shanks family. Things are a bit hectic right now with trying to get everything done that needs to be done in the last few weeks of school...end of year party, end of Kindergarten picnic, awards assemblies, end of year Friendship School program, Open House, etc., etc., etc. It's a happy time too though, and we are all looking forward to a BUSY yet fun summer. Hopefully, we will find time for some relaxation as well. I'm sure we will, and we will enjoy time at the pools too!
Ellie has decided she likes this hat that Katie wore in VBS a couple years ago. She has also decided she likes to play with the pretend mustard and pretend knives. Random.

She is such a fun little girl and growing up so quickly! She received a 2nd birthday party invitation today for a little boy who is only about 10 days older than her. Wow; hard to believe she is almost 2!

The other day, she climbed up on the tricyle all by herself. She is really close to being able to ride it. Her legs just need to be a bit longer!

Ellie loves her sissies!!!!!!! The other day, Gracie was doing her homework on the living room floor. Problem was that Ellie wanted to help her! LOL

Gracie is doing great as she finishes up 4th grade. She continues to amaze us with how well she does with school. She has kept up her straight A's. She had a B on a progress report, but she had it pulled up by the time report cards came out. We are very proud of her. She is enjoying being on the newsletter staff and continues to enjoy being on student council. Next year she will be in 5TH GRADE! This is her last summer to not be in the youth group at church. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!
She's not perfect though...........let's see, she can be a bit forgetful about things, such as where to put her shoes when she takes them off, she tends to antagonize Katie way too often (but is fantastic with Ellie!), and she makes this funny little face with a bit of an eye roll when we're embarrassing. LOL
BUT she is great, and we LOVE her! We are BLESSED to have this amazing 9 year old as our daughter!

She played the violin for a mini talent show at school this past week. We are very proud of her for doing it. She did mess up which SHE recognized on her own, so I think maybe she'll argue less about practicing! She was a little embarrassed.

Katie sang a song, "Little Wonders" from 'Meet the Robinsons' for her mini talent show. She was so cute!

Ellie had her End of the Year program at Friendship School today. It was precious!

She wasn't so sure about performing. They were "playing" recorders to 'Yankee Doodle.'

Uh Oh! Her recorder has become a sword! I guess there has to be 1 in every class!
I love the little face she's making here. A bit mischievous!
"....for only God in Heaven can make a butterfly!"
Our precious little cutie!