This year we're celebrating Niklas's birthday and his elementary school debut.
Niklas will tell Zoe the names of all of these buildings, even if he has to make them up.

  • September 2012
  • 2011-2012
  • 2010-2011
  • 2009-2010
  • 2008-2009
  • 2007-2008
  • 2006-2007

  • September 2012
  • 2011-2012
  • 2010-2011
  • 2009-2010
  • 2008-2009
  • 2007-2008
  • 2006-2007

  • 2012-09-30: Yesterday, the kids went to Alice's fifth birthday party. PAR-TAY! They both had a great time what with running around, eating cake, running around, smacking at a pinata and running around. Niklas and Alice also decided that ding-dong-ditch is an awesome game. Thankfully, they only played it at Alice's house. Zoe played with Jacob Koster Van Groos and blew some bubbles and whenever Alice's baby brother Charlie would cry, she would run over and say "it's all right, baby; it's all right." So, that was fun. You would think that what with the party and all that there would have been numerous photo ops, and you'd be right, though I failed to capitalize on most of them.
    2012-09-27: Zoe and I went to the gym today. She managed to play with the other children without brawling, at least for the two or three minutes that I watched her on the playroom spy cam, so that was cool. Often times, I'll look in on her and she'll be menacing some kid who had the foolish notion of trying to take something from her. Zoe is not to be trifled with.

    Niklas managed to complete his homework in five minutes today, so I made him do a bunch of math. He did that pretty quickly, too, but it was more of a challenge than shape identification, so I was cool with it.
    Zoe had her music class yesterday. She had fun:

    Zoe and I also hit the Target as Niklas had entrusted us with some of his birthday cash so we could get him a copy of the Avengers movie. As you may have guessed, Niklas spent his post homework time watching the Avengers.

    Today, Zoe and I were stymied in our efforts to leave the house and do something by some Sargent & Lundy related stuff. Zoe didn't mind on account of how she got to watch Little Einsteins about a thousand times. Niklas played Duck, Duck, Goose at school, which he's apparently a fan of. "Did anybody catch you when you picked the goose?" "Oh, no. No they did not." WRIGLEY SPEED!
    Despite the fact that this is the fourth week of school, this was the first time that Niklas actually had school on a Monday. He appears to be too young to have an appropriate hatred of Mondays, so that's a plus. He had homework for the first time today, too. It looks a lot like the stuff he did at preschool which I guess means we sent him to the right preschool. On the downside for him, it also means that I'm going to make him do a bunch of supplemental stuff on account of how kindergarten is no place for wheel spinning.

    Zoe had t-ball today. She seems to be developing an elaborate at-bat ritual which starts with her riding the bat like a horse and proceeds to some drum majorish stuff before finally arriving at a two year old's approximation of a batting stance. She also occasionally steps when she throws now instead of just saying "step".
    So, it's been pretty laid back the last few days. Niklas continues to build his way through his birthday Legos. This project has been remarkably unimpaired by Zoe, who has opted to play with Duplo (giant toddler Lego) blocks instead of trying to apply a smashing to Niklas's stuff. Zoe and I hit the playground while Niklas was at school last Friday; that was fun (mostly for Zoe). Niklas started Sunday School today. That went off without a hitch unless you count Zoe throwing a fit because she couldn't go as a hitch, which I don't because if such things were counted as hitches we would have way over the maximum number of hitches as allowed by law and our hitch insurance premiums would be outrageous.

    There are a few new pictures up
    here, but apparently the recent laid backedness has resulted in a relaxed attitude toward photo documentation.
    2012-09-19: So, yesterday was Niklas's last (ever, one would hope) day of home schooling. He knows all about waves now. Zoe's music class was canceled on our end by a localized Fukushima-style event, but other than that, she had a good day. Today, Niklas started back at school, which is awesome because I was pretty much all out of ideas. He had drama class again which apparently featured some sort of cat dance. Zoe and I ran some errands, one of which took us to the toy store. Zoe pretty much lost her mind running around there insisting that I look at nigh everything, so Christmas shopping this year should be pretty easy for Zoe.
    The teacher's strike has yet to be resolved, so Niklas once again spent the day learning at the J. Smith School For Technical Education And Casual Swearing. There was more math and reading (including the entirety of Green Eggs and Ham) and some science and since I get the impression that the JSSFTEACS curriculum is more intense than that at Alcott, I comped him a period of Lego construction. Also, today is Andrya's birthday, so we spent an art period making birthday cards.

    Zoe had her second t-ball class today. There was running, throwing and some particularly good hitting, but where she really excels compared to the other two year olds is her ability to not devolve into a pile of tears for absolutely no reason. Thanks for that, Zoe.
    Well, this weekend was action packed. On Friday, Niklas was once again subjected to my teaching stylings. I got him some math and reading workbooks at the store the other day, so he's been blasting through those. We also did some more experiments with electricity and we worked on his morse code skills. After school, I took Niklas and Zoe to the Oz Park playground which is pretty old school in that it's made primarily of wood and features super-fast metal slides. We avoided splinters and high speed slide injuries, so success.

    On Saturday, Niklas's Godfather stopped by and gave him a giant Lego fire station for his birthday, so that's pretty much what Niklas worked on yesterday (with a massive assist from Andrya). Andrya and the kids also ran some errands and then she took them to McDonald's for lunch, so that was pop-u-lar.

    Today was Niklas's birthday party at
    The Kid's Table. He, his friends Aaron, Alice and Nathan (and Zoe and assorted siblings) made cake, pizza, fruit kabobs and lemonade. It was a well run event that featured much, much less in the way of disastrous messes than I would have expected. After that, we went back to the house and Grandma and Papa Meeker came over along with Uncle Eric and his particular lady friend Shauntona. Niklas and Papa (and later Uncle Eric) spend most of the afternoon assembling a Lego Tie-Fighter that Aaron gave Niklas for his birthday. ("Aaron is the king of presents." - Niklas) Zoe and Grandma read a bunch of books and likely did a bunch of other stuff that I missed as I was watching football. Also, there was a Darth Vader cake.

    There are some new pictures up.
    2012-09-13: Birthday! Woooooooo! Woooooooooooooo! So, today was Niklas's sixth birthday. I made him do a bit of learning in the morning (math and reading, mostly), but seeing as how it was his birthday I comped him and Zoe a field trip to the zoo. Niklas had a great time but Zoe had a particularly great time offset by her particularly awful times when we made her leave the monkey house, the camels and the Children's Zoo thing where you climb on the giant climby thing. After the zoo, Niklas and I did some science experiments (he knows about circuit loops now) and then he played with some new Legos that Grandma and Grandpap Vennard gave him. He had pizza and ice cream for dinner, so it was a pretty successful birthday.
    Well, the CTU and CPS are still calling each other not terribly flattering things, so Niklas has been home the last couple of days and my career has a home educator has rolled on. Science seems to be his favorite thing so far. Yesterday, we studied trees by drawing some pictures and listing relevant tree parts, collecting some leaves and doing some leaf rubbings. Today, we did an experiment that proved that glasses of hot and cold water will reach room temperature if you let them sit around for a while. There was a digital thermometer involved, so Niklas found it more interesting than you might think. We've also done tons of math and reading, various art projects and we put together a giant map of the country.

    Zoe had her music class yesterday. You know who loves music class? Zoe. The snail puppet continues to be immensely popular as does any song that allows Zoe to jump up and down. She also apparently knows how to march, which I guess she picked up from TV as Andrya and I do very little marching around the house, especially not the kind where you take three normal steps and then throw in a rockette-style kick.
    So today was quite busy. CPS and the CTU are having a bit of a disagreement, so there was no school today. Instead, I was in charge of ensuring that Niklas is suitably educated. We did a bunch of addition and subtraction, worked on some fractions, gained a modicum of competence in the arena of time-telling, did some reading and a bit of coloring. We also used Science! to learn about primary and secondary colors:

    I tried to end the day with a music lesson wherein I would instruct Niklas and Zoe on how to keep 4/4 time, but that quickly devolved into competing polyrhythmic (or, perhaps more accurately, arhythmic) drum solos. That was fairly entertaining.

    Zoe had her first t-ball lesson today. Coach Jeff at Lil' Sluggers was nice enough to let Niklas practice with the four year olds, so he got a bit of recess/PE in today. Zoe, meanwhile, absolutely tore it up on the two year old side. After years of watching Niklas do the calisthenics at the beginning of class, she was thrilled to finally be able to do the jumping jacks and twists and toe-touches and whatever on her own. She did an awesome job of hitting the ball which I had been worried about given her propensity for holding the wrong end of the bat at home. She was literally the only two year old who didn't look inept at throwing the ball, so take that, two year old boys! Learn to throw like a girl.
    2012-09-09: Well, a fine time was had by all this past weekend. Niklas had another good day at school on Friday (4 for 4 to start his scholastic career) while Zoe checked my eyes and ears about a thousand times with her doctor kit. She also checked my reflexes in what some might call an over-zealous fashion; you might also say she pounded on my knees with a hammer.

    Yesterday, Niklas and I went to
    Star Wars Day at US Cellular Field with Jared and Aaron. The boys got to see a full size R2-D2, high five a bunch of storm troopers and get glared at ominously by Darth Vader and also an usher. There were five separate instances of fireworks being set off and also ice cream, hot dogs and lemonade, so success. Meanwhile, Zoe and Andrya went out for German dancing and high end macaroni and cheese.

    Today, the kids played some games with Andrya and later I took them to the playground where Niklas ran into a friend from school and Zoe monopolized a swing. Also, somebody added some new pictures to the appropriate page.
    2012-09-06: So yesterday, Zoe and I walked Niklas to school (he continues to be unfazed by the whole thing, so that's cool) and then hit the zoo. There's a back entrance deal there where you walk past a lily pond that Zoe hadn't been to before, so we went that way. She saw some ducks, which she always finds exciting. When we got to the zoo proper, Zoe wanted to "see the polar bear; see the zebra; see the monkeys; see the lion," so we did that. The lioness roared while we were looking at her; Zoe thought that was outstanding. We also saw the camels ("hmmmmph," said Zoe) and the alpacas, which Zoe insisted were llamas based on her love of this book. Meanwhile, Niklas had PE for the first time (the jumping jacks are different than the jumping jacks he did at Lil' Sluggers), went to music class where he learned a song about cheese and had drama class. I'm unclear as to what kind of drama the kindergartners were on about.

    Today, Zoe and I went to the gym. The playroom had some new toys including some one foot cube pillow type blocks that Zoe thought were the absolute greatest. They were stacked up four high when we got there and she ran full speed over to them and cold blew them up with a right cross. She spent the better part of an hour setting them up and knocking them down. "I build a tower and I knock it down! Then I sit on it." Niklas had science class today. They built some sort of structures out of toothpicks and marshmallows that look like molecular models, though Niklas insists that his is a building or perhaps an oven built for roasting marshmallows though he agreed with me that an oven built of marshmallows wouldn't be an ideal thing to roast marshmallows with.
    2012-09-04: So, Niklas's first day of school was a success. Much as Pump-It-Up was the highlight of a day at Chalk, recess was the highlight of his first day at Alcott. He also drew a picture of a scientist and listened to some stories and, one would assume, did five or six hours worth of other stuff. From the still working things out department, Niklas brought his art box home with him despite its clearly marked cubby space in the classroom.

    Zoe had a good time at her music class today. There were multiple songs that called for jumping up and down which is something she excels at. She also violently shook some shakers, chased a bunch of bubbles about and said "hi" to a snail puppet.
    Well. Niklas starts kindergarten tomorrow. He seems remarkably relaxed about it. Meanwhile, I'm having so much trouble wrapping my head around it that I forgot to get anything for his lunch box.

    Andrya: What did you get for Niklas's lunch tommorow?
    Jay: (slowly backs out of room; runs to the store)

    We're all set now. Zoe starts a new round of music class tomorrow, too, so big doin's are transpiring. Here are a few