Tuesday, January 25, 2011

School and Other Activities

Mary Louise is doing fine in school. It is different so she is still learning the routine and expectations. She is telling time, counting money and regrouping 2 digit numbers. Next week, she has a report about tigers to present to the class. (The mascot for the high school is the Tiger. Teaching school spirit starts very young here- Lots of links between the high school and the younger schools evidently). She has been reading some books about tigers and gathering her notes. The report is basically a form to complete with some specific questions and then writing some facts about the tiger. She also has to make a poster or a model of the animal. Of course, she already has some ideas about this. We are waiting for her to be tested and trained to do SRA. I don't think this school does AR but SRA. Her class has smart boards and tables. She enjoys playing math games on the tables. She is doing fine.
Forrest goes to Preschool story time on Mondays. I personally think he is bored with it or maybe Mommy being there dampens his independence. He likes the stories and will share with them but he doesn't want to play the games or participate in the music. On Mondays, both kids go to a sign language class at the library (Have I shared that this library is amazing!?) He enjoys the sign language class and can sign his name and several other words already. I love sign language. It was one of the best things I ever did with both of them as babies. Baby signs were great and now this should be good for them. I want them to have an appreciation for their senses and not take for granted the ability to see, hear and talk with spoken words. I want them to have empathy for those who can't and to be able to help them and connect with people who rely on sign language for communication.
Forrest and I have found a few other activities in the area to attend to learn something and/or to play with others. Mommy and Forrest both enjoy the Thursday morning Bible study at a local church. He actually gets the My First Look lesson from the previous Sunday. I love, love that because that is the material we used at our Milledgeville church. It is wonderful material!!!!
Forrest still has UPWARD basketball and soccer should start in late February. We are keeping busy and meeting new people while learning about the area.


Snow usually falls every day. Some days we get more snow than others. Ohio cut back the number of snow days a few years ago when the state legislated a longer or more school days. They opted to cut back from five to three snow days instead of starting earlier or ending later. (Ohio also doesn't have as many holidays like the fall break that we have grown accustomed to.) With the really crazy weather right before Christmas, they used all of the snow days up already. Typically, around MLK the weather gets bad enough to be out of school. Luckily, we haven't had the snow for that this year, but I am reminded that January AND February are the two worse months. One almost done and one to go! Now the snow days come if there is more than 18 inches overnight or white out conditions are present. So getting out of school for snow is very rare! We just go about our business in the snow. The powers that be are now discussing adding back the other 2 snow days- we will see. Until then lots of hot chocolate, warm clothes and thankful for heating.

Akron Civic Theater

Mary Louise was out of school on Martin Luther King Day. A mommy at the preschool story time told me about the Festival of Nations that was to be held that day in Akron at the Civic Theater. We found out where the theater was and went! I was surprised to find it very much like the Fox Theater in Atlanta. It is actually one of the last five atmospheric theaters in the USA. The Fox is one of them, too. This theater was not as big or as nicely maintained as the Fox. It has a volunteer group that raises money to re carpet and repaint it so it has taken a bit of time to restore it. The Civic does have a "ghost". As far as we understand, the ghost's name is Loretta and she is a parrot. The story is that in the 1930s, she was allowed to fly around the theater until one day she bit a patron. She lost her flying privileges then. She is now a stuffed feature in one of the alcoves of the theater.
We had a good time at the Festival of Nations. There were lots of exhibits with food from different countries like Ireland, Poland, Germany, and China. At one exhibit the kids played some Japanese instruments and at another had their names written in Chinese. In the theater there were different groups that did native dances from their countries. It was very interesting to see them dressed in their native dress and shoes. The shoes were especially very interesting. The shoes that the Polish dancers wore looked like elf shoes! German, Polish, Hungarian (a Hungarian church is nearby us) and Russian descent people are here. There are even neighborhoods of these cultures in the larger cities of Cleveland and Akron to some degree. The most interesting dancers were the last group - the Irish dancers. Their costumes were beautiful and their talent -Wow! They are really athletes. They could jump so high and their arms rarely ever moved from their sides. They all wore wigs with very tight and springy curls. Several of them are going to some world and national competitions- the world competition is in Ireland. Maybe Irish dance is something we should start doing.
On Sunday we went back to the Civic with Daddy. There is a group of doctors in Akron that have written and perform a musical show about health and hygiene. It was called Zobopago. The music was interesting and entertaining for the adults as well. Forrest especially enjoyed it. He is definitely a boy and likes the rock and roll type music. He sat quietly but would nod his head with the music. He still talks about how much he liked the show. The only problem with that day was the temperature. It was a very cold and miserable walk to and from the theater on Sunday. It has been bitterly cold here for the past week. Highs have been in the low teens with wind chills below zero.
We are going back in March to see a puppet/play show about Annie Oakley. Mary Louise is very excited because she learned about her at Eagle Ridge. She has told us many times about Annie including on the drive to Ohio. Forrest found out the Imagination Movers are coming to the Civic so he is hoping we can go see them. The theater is neat and there are other things downtown Akron like Art and History museums. One museum is dedicated to inventors.We also found an ice skating rink downtown. We learned that marbles were once made here and at one museum someone gives marble playing lessons. Another adventure soon for us in Akron!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snowy Day

Forrest outside on the afternoon shoveled drive.
We have been getting a lot of snow today. It has been snowing since Tuesday around lunch and has not stopped. The wind has been blowing and drifts have been building up, one built up in front of our front door which made it hard to open the screen door. Forrest and I went out to shovel yet again this afternoon. We were surprised to find the sidewalk cleared for us - Thanks to our neighbor, Mike. He has the little girl that rides the bus with Mary Louise. Before I finished the driveway, our other neighbor, Lou, came out with his snow blower and finished the bottom of the drive for me. I guess they are feeling sorry for this middle-aged Southern girl who is evidently a novice at Northern winters and this one is supposedly a bit colder and snowier than normal. I guess I will be doing some banana bread baking soon in exchage for the machine help and some helpful snow shoveling advice offered by our nice neighbors.

Snow Fun

Fun in the snow

Our little house in the snow- after Mommy shoveled

Snow ball fight!

Snow angels

We had a few days without any additional snow. It started snowing again on Tuesday after lunch and pretty much has not stopped. Mommy shoveled around 3pm on Tuesday and then again Wednesday am. She has to shovel the sidewalk just so Mary Louise can get to the bus stop two doors down. She shoveled about 6 inches in the am. The house picture shows what the house looked like after she shoveled. The snow has continued to fall all day.

This week Mary Louise has had Dibbles testing at school. She has reading and math homework due on Friday. She has started riding the bus this week. We walk down two houses to meet the bus. Another first grader meets us there and rides the bus with her. She tried a dance class last week. She had fun and met Mommy's friend, Ms. Jessica's little girl. They were fast friends immediately. But Mary Louise would like to try Brownies for the remainder of the year. So we are hoping to get involved with the troop that meets at her school.

Forrest goes to a Preschool Storytime class at the library on Mondays with Ms. Joanne. There are about 12 kids in his class. They hear stories, sing songs and play games. This week, Mommy went to a mommy gathering, kind of like MOPS. Forrest played in a big gym with other four and five year olds and watched a BOZ movie and did some activities about the movie and creation. He is having class with Mommy in the basement at our activity table. This week we are learning about the letter "W" and words that begin with that letter. We are going to make waffles and are talking
about wheels and weather. He is learning to read words in the -at and -an family and is reading Story 1 in the Jack and Jilly readers. We are making patterns and counting and estimating while playing with our Trios, monster trucks and Lincoln Logs. He enjoys having his own computer time with PBS Kids, Disney and Nick, Jr. (No Sissy to take over). Forrest is very excited about starting Upwards Basketball this week! He has been practicing his dribbling with an imaginary basketball all week.

This week, Mommy starts a Bible study at the same church building went to for the Mommy Time. It is called Crazy Love(Francis Chan). She is very excited about it because we get to meet more mommies and kids. This study alternates with discussion one week and service in the community the following week. It should be a lot of fun!

We are hoping to get connected as a family this week to a small group from the church we have been attending. Mary Louise and Forrest really enjoy MoKids and meeting in the theatre.

We are finding new friends and new activities to do. There are lots of museums, theatres and other activities. We have some field trip adventures scheduled for the upcoming weeks already. We can't wait to share more of our adventures in Ohio with you soon!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Daddy in the snow.

Forrest on his sled.

Somewhere in that snow is Daddy!

Mary Louise on the hill.

Forrest having fun in the snow.

Our first sledding experience was not as much fun as we had hoped. First, Mary Louise forgot her snow pants. Mommy didn't catch that one until we had already left the house. Then the snow was really light, fluffy and deep. The sleds just sank into the snow. Unless you got a good running start, you didn't go very far. Mary Louise had a problem with this. Then the hill Mommy picked out, which was at Mary Louise's school, was not as steep as it needed to be. She thought it would be a good starter hill, but maybe not with this kind of snow. Mary Louise got cold quickly without her snow pants and ended up in the van with Mommy. Mommy was cold just standing at the bottom of the hill. It was a particularly cold day. Daddy took a turn and was almost buried by the snow. He made it down the hill but he got a good running start. Forrest did pretty well. He usually made it about halfway before stopping. We will go again.We will be better prepared and on a better hill. There are several good hills around the area. Sledding is just not as easy as it looks especially if the snow is very light and fluffy!

Shoveling Experts

We spend a lot of time shoveling snow. When we first got to our house, the snow was really deep on the drive and in the yard. Mommy shoveled early that first morning just to make sure the movers could walk everything in. Luckily, it melted later in the week and we discovered how wide our drive actually was. Now we are determined not to let the snow overtake us. We are probably a bit obsessive about it. Mommy likes to try to get the packed down snow from the tire tracks up but that is hard. Mommy usually goes out early in the am before Daddy leaves for work to shovel any snow from the overnight. Then we shovel again in the afternoon and again after the kids are asleep. We are the only ones it seems to be concerned about the snow. Mommy is sure everyone passing by (a busy road) can tell we "ain't from around here". We may just be a bit obsessed about keeping the driveway and sidewalks clean but it is really gratifying when the sun does come out and we can see actual pavement from the melting. We are getting to be snow shoveling experts. We have found that pushing the snow is much more effective than trying to lift it all up. We have devised efficient ways of shoveling as a tandem team. Shoveling at the end of the drive is a bit challenging with all the oncoming traffic, but never fear, we have figured out the best way and safest way to do that, too! Leave it to a Georgia Tech engineeer to come up with that one!
Yes, we know that snow blowers exist. But there are evidently different types of snow blowers and within those groups different qualities of blowers. They are all rather expensive. So Mommy's suggestion is to research what we need which will be determined on how much we actually will need to blow once we get our house (this one is a rental). And looking for one during the off season may save some money as well. Right now, it is a good workout. (Mommy should have great looking arms and shoulders by spring time). Besides what a sense of accomplishment when it is done and it is a good family activity.
Forrest is very helpful in shoveling the snow. He has volunteered to shovel the deck for Mommy. He did an excellent job and is very good at getting the sidewalk cleared.

Wilcox Primary

Mary Louise's Take on School - Part 1
I love my new teacher, Mrs. Fink. Guess what, Mrs.Drew and Ms. Ellison! I have lockers! I also have to unpack all of my stuff before the bell rings. We don't have to wear uniforms. I do have to have snow pants and snow boots. I have to change my snow boots into my tennis shoes. I have learned how to tell time. I have two motor mouths in my class. Their names are Sarah Z. and Mary Louise, except I don't talk during class. Guess what! I have this huge super art room. The art teacher's name is Mr. Tait. I have this wonderful, wonderful music teacher and a wonderful gym teacher and computer teacher. Guess what! I ride the bus now!!! My bus number is 18. My bus driver's name is Bus Driver Bob.
The first thing I do when I get to school is to unpack my stuff and put it in my locker. Then the bell rings (8:25). I get my morning work. I write and count money. I still have timed tests. I made a 99 on my timed test. I only missed one math fact. After morning work, we go over the trick words and the spelling test words. We then count one set of coins and move on. We do some other stuff and then go to P.E., Music, Art or Computer.

Mommy's Take
The schools are divided by grades. Wilcox Primary has the Kindergarten and First Graders. There are a few Pre-K classes but it is mostly for the kids at risk.Then there is a 2nd and 3rd grade school which is about a block from our little house. The 4th-6th grade are in another school then the 7-8th and then the high school. All of the schools start and dismiss at different times. The buses make the different routes to get each school's students. Everyone is encouraged to ride the bus. Mary Louise will ride the bus, too. She is on the bus with only the children that go to her school in our neighborhood area. There are 12 classes for each grade level. Mary Louise has 25 kids in her class which is the average for all the classes. Her class has the high achievers for the most part. So her class is going to be challenging and keep her very busy. Her teacher, Mrs. Fink, is very nice. She has a nephew that plays 2nd base for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets baseball team. So that is a plus in our book. Go Jackets!!
The school is an older looking school. It has a loud old-fashioned bell like the ones I heard when in school ions ago. It has a small school feel even though there are at least 600 children there. Her room is on the hall labeled "Lincoln Lane". All of the hallways have names like that. There are lockers built into the walls in the hallways. She has a locker. I will have to get a picture of her at her locker later to show everyone. She is quite proud of it. She has had to figure out how to get her bookbag, coat, snow pants, lunch box, tennis shoes in the locker quickly and efficiently. She usually wears the snow boots to school and changes into her other boots or tennis shoes. She has to get all of her homework out of her bookbag and get everything hung up or put away before the 8:25 bell rings. Snow boots are typically left in the hall outside the lockers. So if you walk down the hall, you would see hundreds of snow boots lined up waiting to be put on.
Her lunch is around noon. After lunch is recess. They go out unless the windchill is super duper cold. They told me what it was but I was still taking in the fact that they go out at all. Anyway, students must have snow pants, snow boots, coat, gloves, hat before being allowed outside. If a student doesn't have their gear, they sit in the office and play with some coloring books and block like toys for the recess time. No uniforms but mandatory snow gear.
She has made some friends. One friend, Sarah, is a talker. But she has been very helpful orienting Mary Louise to the room's routine and other things about the school. I have met her mom and her sister who is Forrest's age. They are very nice and life-long residents. She tells me that usually a big snow comes around MLK's holiday. This is when they usually have snow days, but those 3 days have been used up BEFORE the Christmas break (highly unusual). She doesn't think we will have that kind of snow at MLK -"the weather patterns are not setting up for that kind of snow". I haven't been able to figure out any weather patterns here yet. Everything is gray, cold and snowy all the time. I am counting on her life-long experience and knowledge.
Wilcox is a nice little school. It seems to have very caring teachers and involved parents. I think Mary Louise will enjoy the remainder of her first grade year. She seems to have just picked up where she left off in Georgia with the exception of figuring out all the snow gear.
2nd Day of School- As we get in the van to go Mary Louise sees all of the snow falling and says, "Do we have to go to school today? It is snowing?" Guess what?! School is in unless there is white out conditions or 18 inches or more has fallen overnight. Very different from the South.

Here We Are!

The trip to Ohio was very long! We left after getting the cats from the vet in SC around 8am. We drove thru lots of high wind in the North Carolina and Virginia mountains. It was a beautiful drive. We got to Ohio around 6pm. Everything was snowy and icy. We found our little house and got the kitties all settled before going to get dinner at a neat resturant- Quaker Steak and Lube (there is one in Douglasville)and then we went to Cleveland to get Daddy's car at the airport.

The moving truck came early the next morning. When we were moving out, Mary Louise and Forrest played outside and rode scooters until they had to be loaded. It was comfortable and nice outside. When we were moving in, it was cold and snowy. Riding scooters was not an option. Playing in the snow was fun until feet got wet and cold. Quickly, we knew we needed better gear to play outside. The snow melted by the weekend but more was to come.

We drove to Pittsburg, PA to an L.L.Bean store to get mom and dad new boots. That trip is like going to Atlanta from Milledgeville. We discovered that Mr. Rogers has a museum there so we know of at least one adventure to plan for a weekend or day out of school. The picture above is outside the store in Pittsburg. Daddy got boots that look like those and Mommy's are not as tall.

We went to a church in Cleveland called Momementum. It meets in a movie theatre. "They had kids ministry rooms in the movie theatre. The kids loved it."-Mary Louise.

There are more boxes to unpack or sort through to find the things we need in our little house and lots more to discover in the area. So here we are in Ohio at last. It is snowy and cold but we are all together again. Life will be an adventure.