Sunday, August 17, 2014

Third Grade


I'm kind of in love with Jakson's tooth sticking out over his lip.

Getting baptized, mowing the lawn, now THIRD GRADE!  Where did the time go???  He will continue therapy at his clinic rather than attend public school again this year.   The progress that he has made in the past two years is phenomenal.  We are so blessed!  After consulting with his therapists, this will be the last nine months at Spectrum and he'll be mainstreamed again next fall.  I'm not a huge fan of the idea, though I can see that it will (hopefully) be beneficial for him in the long run.  But still, let's not talk about it.   Maybe it will be much like our soccer team experience: a lot of anxiety (on my part) for nothing!

Favorite movie: The Lego Movie
Favorite TV show: Phineas and Ferb
Favorite song: Radioactive (Imagine Dragons)
Favorite book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid   (When he first started reading these, he called it "Whompy Kid." Of course, that's how Zak and I refer to these books now. )
Favorite book character: Greg from Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Favorite friend: Robert
Favorite school subject: Math and Science
Favorite thing to do: Play video games
Favorite food: Indian food
Favorite place to go:  Disneyland (He first said, "home")
Favorite animal: A jaguar
What do you want to be when you grow up: Paleontologist ("Mom, why do you always ask that?")
What do you hope happens when you are in third grade? Earn iPad time.
Third grade goal: To listen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014




Storey spends two years planning her birthday parties (in fact, she has already informed me that her next party, in two years, will be spa themed.  Because "it's just so girly.  Spas are all about girls, Mom" Can you tell she just attended an amazing spa party for a friend yesterday?).  She changes her mind several times, understandably since it's a long time, but once she discovered the boot pinata last spring at Hobby Lobby, she was committed to a cowgirl party.    With lots of pink.  And her favorite boots. 

Texas is really rubbing off on her (though she doesn't say "y'all" or listen to country music....yet).

Thankfully a cowgirl party turned out to be an easy one to put together.  I found lots of great game ideas online, made a couple of purchases from Oriental Trading company, and, of course, got the coveted boot pinata that started it all.  The party was a big hit with the eight little girls.  Across the board, the favorite activity was the General Store---they love to shop already.


As the girls came in, they were each given a pink felt cowgirl hat and were directed to a table spread with all kinds of glittery and jeweled stickers (aka: bling) to decorate their hats.   In retrospect, I would have checked to make sure the jewels were going to stick well and maybe opted for foam hats instead.  They stayed on fine for the party, but Storey's have since started falling off.  The whining.  Oh, the whining.


They also each got a "wallet" that I made of cardstock.  Throughout the party, the girls earned play money (Party City( from the activities that they added to their wallets.   By the end of the party, each girl had about 12 bills she could use for shopping at the General Store.

The first game we played was Bingo.  It was anticlimactic.  I accidentally printed off eight of the exact same Bingo board.  Oops.   I printed it from here (there are several different boards to print so your game is more interesting).

Storey requested "Pin the tail on the donkey."  Originally I was going to make a fancy horse poster, but I have more important things on my plate so bought a poster at Party City for two bucks.  I'd like to pat myself on the back for that one.

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Storey is obsessed with balloons, so every year on her birthday she wakes up to pink balloons all over her room.  But then the balloons just hang out for weeks and travel to all of the other rooms in the house and there are tears when they pop and so on.  I figured the best way to fix all that was a rousing game of Pop the Pig.  I turned on some princess music (cowgirls like princess music) and they went to town popping the balloons.  Some girls jumped on them, some sat and bounced, some squeezed them with their arms until they popped.....but ALL of them covered their ears the whole time.  It was very entertaining to watch.  

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After the games, the girls strung together cowgirl bead necklaces (kits from Oriental Trading Co).  Six year old girls are so silly.  They told a lot of ridiculous jokes and giggled.   At one point "Let it Go" started playing and they all started singing at the top of their lungs. 

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Next was the highlight of the party: shopping at the General Store using the money they earned from all of the games.  Some of the items for "sale" were gumballs, suckers, wands, silly straws, pencils, and plastic rings.  The favorite purchase was definitely little diner notepads (like they use at restaurants to write down orders), found at Party City for 25 cents each.  The girls were so excited to play pretend with them. 

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Zak and I built the General Store (which is now a sandwich shop in the playroom and can become a lemonade stand, grocery store, or puppet theater) based loosely on this tutorial.  We used a piece of the flooring left over from our Phoenix house and some chalkboard paint to make the sign at the top.  The poles are made of scrap wood we already had in the garage.  Arena's suggestion to use zip ties to connect all of the crates together was GENIUS!


After the girls spent all of their money, we headed downstairs for some singing and cake.  It was SO hot outside that we sang the birthday song, blew out the candles, and then went inside to eat cake sitting on the kitchen floor.


Sidenote: I almost threw this cake out the kitchen window.  I do not enjoy decorating cakes and am not very good at it.  Simply frosting a cake almost sets me over the edge.  All those crumbs that get stuck in the frosting and then I have to try and figure out how to cover up the ugly....  It's a mess.   Thankfully I had some red and pink sprinkles, so I was able to mask some of my mistakes with those.  Then I stuck a dollar store horse in the top along with a little banner.  Bam.  Decorated.   Not Pinterest worthy, but Storey liked it and that's all that really matters.


After eating, we headed back out to the heat to bust open the boot pinata. Somehow this has become a Vermillion birthday party tradition. It didn't stay intact as long as some of the other pinatas we've partied with, but that was okay because that meant less time outside sweating.


Storey loved her party and had so much fun with her little friends. We are so grateful she has them. As for me, I'm excited not to host a birthday party for two more years!


Six year olds being silly

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Highlight of my week


After turning eight, Jakson was given the new chore of mowing the lawn. 

Well, mowing a small fraction of the lawn.  

Unfortunately, the lawn mower is both bigger and heavier than Jak and tends to lurch forward, sort of dragging him behind.  Also, he is easily distracted.  This past week he spent half of the time trying to mow quickly away from a dragonfly he thought was going to bite him.  Talk about erratic driving.  And a swervey lawn.

Watching him mow his little portion is one of the most entertaining thirty minutes of my week.

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I can't believe he's big enough to mow the lawn.  He was a tiny baby just a few minutes ago.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Art Camp 2014


A week after we moved in, I hosted art camp amidst the boxes.  Not one of my more brilliant ideas, but it was scheduled before we even put an offer on the house and the kids were really looking forward to it.  I girded my loins and put my teacher hat on.

I had six 5-8 year olds.  Perfection.  Art Camp was held upstairs, which is basically one big game room (or if you are the previous owners, a large and completely dark poker room).  I set up a long table with old plastic tablecloths covering the carpet (thankfully, since there were several paint spills).  I had been having issues with loving the new house the week before (our a/c wasn't working and several other first world problems), so utilizing that room and realizing how awesome it was made me start appreciating the house more.  I had our regular babysitter, AnaKaren, come and help out as my assistant.  She was fabulous and I'm not sure I could have done it without her.

On the first day as the kids came in, I had two stations set up.  One for decorating their art bins (filled with supplies for the week and labeled with their names) and the other for customizing their art smocks (white xl men t-shirts).  The kids were divided into two groups and switched stations after five minutes.  Some of the kids were very predictable in the way they personalized their shirts (Jakson drew Minecraft---shocker), but Storey decided to go avante garde with hers and drew a large, angry bull.  Sometimes I wonder....


Before getting started, I explained everything that was included in their art bins and all of the rules that we needed to follow to have a successful week. The main rule: don't do anything to harm another artist or their art.


Every day we started with a drawing prompt, shared our work, I introduced an artist and an aspect of their artwork that we would be studying, practiced it a bit, and used that as the inspiration for our "masterpiece."   I was pretty amazed at how much the kids retained about the artists and the different types of art. 

The whole week was so fun and ended with an art gallery Friday evening to show off all the masterpieces.  It has been such a crazy couple of months that taking the time to do something like this restored a little sanity for me.  And kept the kids away from the TV!

Showing off the gallery invitations they made.  Their masterpieces from Day One are strung on the wall behind them (in preparation for the Art Gallery that evening).

From the evening Art Gallery....
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More details in case you are interested:
Monday Lesson Plan (can you tell that I used to teach school???  This may be a dead giveaway :)):
  • Design shirts and decorate art bins 
  • Cover rules of Art Camp and go over supplies 
  • Introduce artist of the day: Kandinsky-father of abstract art.  Go through library books about artist discuss what they notice about his pieces (colorful and abstract).  Also go over the definition of abstract.  Explain that Kandinsky used a lot of color because he "heard" color and painted what he heard.  Listen to a couple of clips of songs and talk about what colors we hear in them.
  • Acquaint kids with Kandinsky's "Concentric Circles" and mediums for the day (watercolor and oil pastels)
  • Practice drawing concentric circles in sketchbooks 
  • Snack time
  • Teach kids how to use oil pastels and practice on "practice" water color paper (8.5x11)
  • artcollage2
  • For the masterpiece: Using large watercolor paper with a grid of 6 squares already drawn on it.  For each square, kids listen to a different piece of music and draw concentric circles with colors they hear using oil pastels.  After drawing circles (using at least three different colors), listen to the same songs again and choose one color watercolor to paint over the top, filling each square.   
  • Examples of songs-I didn't download anything special for this, just chose a variety of genres and tempos from CDs and songs on my computer: Popular from Wicked, Cotton Eyed Joe (I happened to have a CD with this, don't judge), a church hymn, an Imagine Dragons song, No More Monkey's Jumping On The Bed (from a kid song CD), and a dance song by Baha Men.
  • Pickup
  • Get sketchbooks as they come in.  Prompt: Listen to the classical music playing and sketch a picture of how it looks.   Some kids drew abstract drawings, others drew flowers and such.  Jakson drew a still life of his marble toy that he was laying next to....  You can't win 'em all.
  • Finish listening and painting from the day before (not in the original plan, but this took longer than I had predicted to finish)
  • Introduce artist of the day-Paul Klee.  Look through library books of his artwork (I put sticky notes on the pages beforehand--some of his art is not appropriate for children).  Discuss his phrase "take a line for a walk."  
  • Talk about different kinds of lines we use in art.  Hand out copies of this flier showing different types of lines.
  • Using the practice watercolor paper and a pencil, have each child trace their hand (and part of their arm).  Copy over it with sharpie.  Divide the hand into five sections.  Instruct the kids to fill each section with patterns of one type of line.  Choose a different type of line for each section.  
  • Show Paul Klee's Senecio.  Talk about his use of lines and minimal details. 
  • Pass out mirrors and masterpiece paper.  Explain self-portraits.  Have the kids draw self portraits step by step.  Draw a large oval for head, place hand at top of head and draw almond eyes underneath hand, etc.  Encourage kids to stay away from drawing lots of details, just lines.  Trace over pencil drawing with sharpie marker.  
  • At this point, we were supposed to finish these pieces with tissue paper but were running out of time.  I needed them to paint the background for Friday's masterpiece so that the paint would dry in time for them to work on the rest of it.  I instructed them to choose one watercolor that represented the sky and paint an entire masterpiece paper with that color.
  • Lay papers out to dry and pickup
  • Get sketchbooks as they come in and their "types of lines" handout. Review the types of lines by drawing pictures with those types of lines or completely filling pages with patterns of them.
  • Finish masterpiece from Wednesday.  Originally I wanted to use tissue paper cut into squares that would bleed the color onto the self portraits, but I went to several stores and couldn't find any.  Finally, I settled for regular tissue paper cut into squares and painted over the self portrait with a mixture of glue and water.  Still looked cool, but the self portraits were a little harder to see underneath than I would have liked.  
  • Discuss artist of the day: Romare Bearden.  Again, I had to be careful about the artwork that I showed the kids, but we talked about collage and using different types of materials to create layers and dimension in a piece of art.  We were also going to make small monochromatic collages with a bunch of materials I had collected, but didn't have time.
  • Masterpiece inspiration of the day: House in Cotton Field.  Have the kids create a collage of their home, their dream home, or their bedroom (a last minute addition because a couple of the girls wanted to make their bedroom).   Use magazines, newspaper, and construction paper for collages.
  • This was the least successful piece of art in my opinion.  I wish we would have had more time to discuss collage and monochromatic colors.  The kids still enjoyed making their collages (most of them had no idea what a collage was to begin with).
  • Write and paint invitations for the gallery.
  • Pick up
There are so many amazingly talented people that posted ideas I gleaned. 
What I would change for next time: Longer hours. Because I'd never done this before, I didn't exactly know how much time would be needed for each activity. I either underestimated or over planned. I had to cut out a few activities. Next year I will make sure each class day is 3 hours.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

April & May Moments


APRIL 11-One of the more exciting moments of April happened when Zak's car died under an overpass on the way home from a meeting in Sugarland.  Oh, how we love that car.  The kids refer to it as "The Wreck." A well deserved name.

APRIL 14-Jakson wanted to eat at "the place where people do tricks" for his birthday dinner. It took us two weeks to figure out he meant a hibachi grill.

APRIL 18-The Easter bunny brought a birthday-present-that-arrived-late for him and a Mary Poppins-esque umbrella for her.   Oh, and the movie Frozen.  Storey wrote a letter to the Easter bunny asking for it because she "knew mom and dad weren't going to buy it."

The kids are also already writing Christmas lists.  Jakson told me that he's going to ask for an iPad.  I told him that Santa doesn't usually bring such expensive gifts.  He said, "That's okay.  I'll just ask for $1000 instead."  Big expectations.  

APRIL 19-While we were cleaning out the garage, I found a box of old cards.  And inside one of them was a five dollar bill in a birthday card from my grandma.  It's been in there for, oh....FOURTEEN YEARS.  Well, thanks Grandma!

MAY 6-Storey's school hosted Moms and Muffins.  This year they did not have iced tea that I inadvertently drank thinking it was Kool-aid.  So that was a positive.  I think Storey ate 5 muffins.   We are so glad that we made the decision to keep her at Cornerstone this year instead of moving on to Kindergarten.  It was a much better fit for her.  She will be going into first grade in the fall at our the local elementary school and I am hoping it's a better public school experience than the one we had with Jakson.  My main concern with Storey is boredom.  And nonstop talking/questions as a result. 

MAY 18- I can't begin to tell you how happy this picture makes me.  I did something right as a parent!!

MAY 22-Jakson was able to start Cub Scouts after he turned eight. I think he is going to be the most dedicated Scout of all time. Less than a month into scouting and he earned his Bobcat. He was so proud.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Not dead


So much has happened since I wrote last--and I will eventually catch up on it because I want to document everything for our annual Blurb book.   We celebrated our 10th anniversary with a cruise, Storey finished up her last year of preschool and had her first dance recital, Jakson earned his Bobcat, and....we bought a house!  And moved!   It's been a little bit crazy to say the least.

We finally have the internet in our new home, so I have no excuse (well, besides time) not to get the posts written.  

Jakson came home from school one day with this new, awesome hat.  He was so proud.  My cute boy.  I just can't believe sometimes how big he has gotten.  Not my little puppy anymore...

Storey informed me that you must have hand sanitizer to "be a lady."   She saved and finally earned enough from chores to be able to buy her very own hand sanitizer.  What a thrill.  Not only did she choose sanitizer at the store, but also a package of travel tissues.    Watch out world.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Eight is Great


Jakson was baptized on May 10th.  He wanted to invite everyone that he'd ever met-all of his therapists, everyone at school, all of the was awesome.  In fact, he invited Great Grandma Blair when we were in Snowflake a couple of months ago and she ended up being able to come, thanks to Grandma Criddle.   Uncle Tyler, Aunt Melissa, and Aunt Megan also flew in for the weekend.   Grandpa and Grandma Vermillion were able to join us via the computer (which was pretty entertaining).  It was a full house!  We were so grateful for the enormous support he received.


For a long time, Jakson was scared to go under the water without goggles on.  Apparently goggles equal invincibility.  I bought some clear goggles but wanted to try and get him to the point where he could be immersed without them (kind of like the least restrictive environment at school).  We brought them as a backup, but Jak was able to get baptized without them, much to the disappointment of several attendees (it really would have been cute).


Storey exclaimed as Jak came out of the water, "Mom, I'm so proud of Jakson." Those two.  Melt my heart. She sang When I Am Baptized and did a fabulous job. She had practiced a lot and remembered all of the things that Sister Cook taught her about Italian vowels in choir.  :)


Piano: Jonathan Criddle (Uncle Jon)
Chorister: Clyde Criddle (Grandpa)

Opening Song: I Love To See The Temple
Opening Prayer: Crystal Criddle (Aunt Crystal)

Baptism Talk: Anne Criddle (Grandma)
Baptism: Zak Vermillion (Dad)
Witnesses: Clyde Criddle (Grandpa) and Tyler Vermillion (Uncle Tyler)

Holy Ghost Talk: Melissa Vermillion (Aunt Melissa)
Special Musical Number: When I Am Baptized sung by Storey Vermillion (sister) and accompanied by Anne Criddle (Grandma)
Confirmation: Zak Vermillion (Dad), Clyde Criddle (Grandpa), Tyler Vermillion (Uncle Tyler), Jonathan Criddle (Uncle Jon), Nate Kolbaba (family friend), Chris Crawford (Bishop)

Welcome To The Ward: Bishop Crawford

Closing Song: Families Can Be Together Forever
Closing Prayer: Bethany Vermillion (Mom)

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