Thursday, August 26, 2010

We Are the Change


We received an e-mail from the principal informing us that the school received extra funding and will be hiring a Kindergarten, 1st grade and 3rd grade teacher. I guess we squeaked loud enough. 34 kids spread out among 3 class rooms will make for a much, much better learning environment.

Right after getting the e-mail, I made sure that Morgan would be staying in Ms. A's classroom. And yep, sure enough. Ms. A is going to make sure she stays and receives the stability that she needs.

It's all coming together. Whew!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Last week Morgan brought home her place mat from school. I was surprised that she had this and asked her if she was supposed to bring it home. Yes, she replied, there isn't enough room for it. Not enough room? When we were there for Back to School Night they all fit fine. What do you mean there's not enough room? Well come to find out, they added even more kids to the classroom (for a grand total of 34) and now they don't all fit around the tables any more. You got to be kidding me!! Here we go again!

A bunch of us have called around and found out that we are the only district with such overcrowded classrooms this year. Our numbers are 50% more then any other districts. Other charter or special admission schools in our districts are not as overcrowded either. Several of us parents have been writing letters to the superintendent. Once our questions became direct, he stopped corresponding with us. I'm not sure what our next course of action will be, but these numbers are simply not acceptable.

Morgan brought home her worksheets that she completed in the classroom. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say waiting for 34 kids to finish their assignments is not productive! What do you think?

Here is the front of her sheets:

And here is the backside:

Nah, she doesn't have too much time on her hands between activities.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Colorado Campground

This past weekend we went camping at Colorado Campground outside of Woodland Park.

At the end of the campground is a path to a lake.

We discovered lots of creatures like crayfish, minnows and ducks.

Since we were going to a lake, Morgan wanted to bring her net to try and catch frogs. There were no frogs, but she entertained herself for hours catching minnows.

It wasn't enough for her to catch them all day long, we went back the second day and she spent another hour catching and releasing her small fish friends.

We also did some geocaching. The first cache took us on a mile adventure through tall grass, across a stream and under barbed wired fences to the middle of nowhere.

Figuring that one crazy adventure was enough, we decided to drive to the rest of the geocaches, which lead to some fun four-wheel driving.

There is only one more camping trip to do this summer. I can't believe the season is almost over.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Heart Ms. A

I can not stress enough how much I love, love, love Morgan's teacher this year. Here are just a couple of reasons:

Morgan's class has lunch (more like brunch) at 10:40 am, then they get their 15 minute recess. They are literally sitting in that classroom from 11:14 until 2:30. Ms. A did not like this so she went to the principal and begged her to add an afternoon recess for the 1st graders. And she got it!

After a couple of days at school, I approached Ms. A regarding Morgan's 504 for her SPD. Ms. A had not had a chance to read it yet, but was really surprised to hear that Morgan had special needs. She told me that if I wouldn't have let her know, she would never have guessed because she's doing so well in the classroom. And Ms. A knows all about SPD because her son has the same thing. Morgan is with a teacher that totally gets it. Such a relief!

We had a follow up conversation a couple days later to see how things were progressing. We've been noticing that her SPD behavior (especially her oral need to suck on things) has been more prevalent since school started. I think the stress to sit still and listen so intensely in such a huge class has been getting to her a bit. Ms. A told us that she's really proud of how well Morgan has been able to self-regulate her needs, that even in 1st grade Morgan seems to have a handle on her issues. Then she told us that was a testimony to how well we have been parenting to her special needs, which of course made me feel even more wonderful.

Yesterday, another student noticed Morgan chewing gum in the classroom and tattled on her. Instead of just brushing it aside, Ms. A sat the child down with Morgan present and explained to the other child why Morgan got to chew gum. She's teaching the kids that everyone is different and some of them might have special needs - it's not something to be embarrassed about or hidden. You could tell it really made Morgan feel good to have this sort of conversation.

Oh yes. I heart Ms. A!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jackson Lake State Park

This weekend we camped at Jackson Lake State Park and the one word I can use to describe it is: HOT! It was so hot that even the water was too warm. It was so hot that we spent most of the afternoon hanging out in the shade thinking about how hot it was. It was just so hot!

We spent the weekend swimming, fishing, geocaching and just hanging out.

In the evening we roasted the most ginormous marshmallows that I have ever seen courtesy of my parents. These things are HUGE.

They make a regular sized marshmallow look like it has the punes.

They take up two full-sized graham crackers and still oozy out the sides.

Even the kids said that they were too much. After eating one, you felt like you could run around the whole lake.

The main highlight of the trip was the night time vistors that swarmed the area - tons and tons of toads ranging in size from giant parents to tiny little babies. The kids loved trying to catch them all. Roan was definetely the king toad catcher, sometimes having up to three of them in his hands.

While a little more timid then Roan, Morgan still held her own - literally.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Our 1st Grader

Yesterday was Morgan's first day of 1st grade. I can't believe how much she's changed in one year. She no looks so much older then she did when she headed off to kindergarten.

First Day of 1st Grade:

1st day of Kindergarten:

As a matter of fact, all three of them look more grown-up.

There were a few changes this year. We got a cross-guard for our street (yeah!) and her class lines up in the back of the school were the playground is. Morgan was pretty excited to get to play before class, until she saw all the older kids and how packed the playground was. There are a whooping 32 kids in her class and the teacher doesn't have an aide (boo!). It is a district mandate that 1st graders have a half hour of homework every night, but her teacher told us that if our kids can't handle homework after 8 hours in class then don't worry about it. Just read to the kids for 10 minutes a day and that will help them more then the worksheets. Her teacher announced that she has a zero tolerance policy for name calling, bulling or physical contact. She also explained that everyone in the classroom is considered a big extended family and she instills the principal that we look after our family. This should be a big chance compared to last years every-kid-for-themselves-go-ahead-and-duke-it-out-just-get-over-the-fact-that-your-kids-being-picked-on policy. Can I say that I already love her teacher.

I picked Morgan up from the neighbors and asked her how her day was. She told me she was too tired to talk about it. She told me it was the same things they did in Kindergarten, no surprises and nothing new. At 6 pm last night, Morgan was asking to go to bed. By 6:45 she was in bed and by the time I checked in on her at 7:30 she was sound asleep. It's exhausting being a 1st grader!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Water World

This weekend we spent the day at Water World and I would have to say that Morgan has conquered her fears regarding water. This girl was raring to go on the slides, doing most of them without any hesitation (at 43" tall, she wasn't tall enough to do a lot of the rides. The cut off was 48") This made the day a bit more fun for Mark and I as well as we could spend more time away from the kiddie pools. Mark and I even took turns riding The Lines, a six story straight plunge.

Morgan's biggest conquer was the
TurboRacer: an eight-track water slide that shoots patrons at up to 22 mph on 410 feet of track. At 61 feet tall, the ride is touted by Water World as the tallest of its kind in the world. Riders lay on their bellies on a blue foam mat and slide through a tube and sharp turns. Click on the link above to see what it looks like since I can't find an actual picture of the slide.

When we got to the top, she panicked a little bit. You start by shooting into a covered looping slide and this, along with going head first scared her. She decided she didn't want to ride it, so I went down by myself (8 people can go at a time) while Mark stayed with her. I have to admit, this ride scared me more then The Line did because it felt a lot faster and your going around sharp curves. When I got to the bottom I was kind of glad she wasn't going on it because I thought it would be too much for her. I went back to the stairs and waited for them to come down. And waited and waited. They never came down the stairs because she had actually gone down the slide. She did it even though she was scared and she wanted to do it again! So I had to be brave and we did it again.

We stayed at the park until 45 minutes before it closed. We would have stayed longer, but a storm was coming in and the temperatures had drastically dropped.

All of these water adventures have drastically increased her swimming ability. I think 80% of her swimming issues were mental, and now that she's so comfortable in the water, she's really excelling. At swim on Tuesday, we were told she's ready for her swimming test. Wearing her street clothes, she must swim across the pool and be able to float for five seconds. If she passes she moves on to the next class. Needless to say, she's pretty excited and pretty proud.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Rocky Mountain National Park

This past weekend we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park for our camping trip. On Friday evening, after dinner we all attended the "Calling All Rangers" program at the auditorium. It was supposed to be for kids, but the first half of it was some pretty intense history. We did learn that National Parks are not protected forever. At any time, the people can vote to have a park removed. This was a pretty sad and disconcerning fact. The second half of the program was much more kid friendly. They had kids from the audience dress up in different ranger outfits and we had to guess what kind of job they did. Keaghan got choosen and she was an educational ranger. After the program, all the kids had the Ranger sign their Jr Ranger books.
The next morning we woke up to these views.

The bare mountain in this picture is considered the JFK mountain. Do you see it?

How about in this one? See his profile, and a little ways down his hand over his heart?

On Saturday, we went hiking on the Cub Lake trail. I use that term loosely as we probably didn't even go half a mile. Instead, the kids enjoyed scrambling up some rocks and playing forever in a river. Of course I forgot my camera again so just use your imagination.

After our mini-hike, we took it easy and hung around the campsite the rest of the day. The kids enjoyed putting on their own performances at the auditorium.

The next morning we packed up while the kids used the top of the camper as another one of their stages.

And then headed to the Visitor's Center where the kids sat down with a ranger to discuss their visit, turned in their books, got their Jr. Ranger badges.

On our way out, we stopped for a little while at the small amusement park outside RMNP. The slide was only $1 to go down, so Morgan went a few times.

The bumper boats were a rip off. We paid $6 and I think they were on it for only two minutes at the most.

We stopped two times on the way home to do some geocaching. Managed to find both of the caches we were looking for. We are starting to get better at this thing. It's very addictive and Morgan is always asking us when we can find more treasure. Good thing there are tons hidden right in our own backyard.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Getting Ready for School

Yes, you read that title right. While some of you are just getting out for summer, we go back to school August 4, in less then two weeks. Crazy eh?? Especially since there are still so many summer things we want to do. I guess we'll have to fit them in on the weekends.

Yesterday was registration day. We were very happy to find out that Morgan did receive the teacher we wanted: Ms. A. Ms A is known for her lovingly strict classroom. She also has two kiddos with special needs at home, making her a great match for Morgan. We found out that her friends Klayton, Roan and Kathy will all be in her classroom as well. We don't know about any of the other kids yet.

Now I need to go out and buy all her school supplies. I thought I had plenty of time, but it looks like I'm falling behind. Afterall, there is only a week and a half left.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

County Fair Time

I haven't been updated in awhile because my parents have been in town and we've been busy visiting. I hope to download some pictures soon and catch up our happenings.

Last night we went to the County Fair. The older I get, the scary the fair gets. It's the same rides year after year and I must admit, they are starting to look pretty run-down and I worry about their safety. Morgan, of course, doesn't notice and has a great time each year. This year she was tall enough to ride a couple of new ones. Her favorite was the scrambler which she rode with her hands up in the air. She claims to "love the pressure it puts on my body" so I think it's actually therapeutic for her Sensory Processing Disorder. Too bad we can't put one of those in our backyard!

She made a friend while riding the motorcycles and they were inseparable from then on out, holding hands and running from ride to ride together. It's amazing how easy it is for kids to make friends. They rode for about an hour or so together before it was time to leave.

Once again, we didn't see any of the animals or any of the other exhibits, it's always right to the fairway where we stay the whole time. We did get to watch a magician while we were eating dinner. Morgan really enjoyed him and was clapping and laughing out loud - not something she normal does while watching a performance.

She's already talking about going back next year. I just hope that they have some updated (or even fixed/cleaned up) rides.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Swim Party and Conquering Fears

We had Morgan's birthday party this Saturday at a local indoor pool. We had never been to this pool before, but Morgan wanted a place that had a slide she could go down (this one has a small splash park including a slide - which of course I didn't get picture of!) and I wanted a place indoors so I wouldn't have to worry about the weather. We scheduled the party from 4:30 - 6:30 which worked out perfect. I didn't realize they didn't have a private party room and that our tables would just be in open area, but since our party was later in the day, we had the place to ourselves by food and present time.

Every year Morgan picks a cake that isn't flat and every year it is an absolute disaster to cut. I guess it doesn't matter how it looks on the plate, only how it tastes in the belly.

The theme for the day was bravery. Morgan was so brave and tried two new things. First, she wanted to go on the slide in the deep end. This slide dumps you out a good four feet above the water. You can sort of tell how high up it is in the picture below, behind Laura's (in the white shirt) head. And did I mention it's in the deep end? And that Morgan's still not the best swimmer?

Well, we went with her over to slide and sat on the edge so we could rescue her if the need be while Eddie jumped into the water and tread water, waiting for her at the bottom. She climbed to the top and then sat there, and sat there, and sat there. Finally, she climbed back down the steps all shaken and upset. She agreed to try again if I stood at the bottom of the stairs near her. And this time, with a slight hesitation, she did it! And then she did it again, and again and again with us all just standing on the side. The funny thing is, that she never came up for a breathe after she went in. She would go down and immediately start swimming to the side. I later told her it would be easier if she came up, took a breath and then started to swim, but she informed me that she preferred it the other way.

After conquering the deep end slide, she really wanted to do the big slide. Technically, she was not tall enough to go down, but since her taller friends were doing it, we thought we'd see if they would let her anyways. After all, this slide ended in the shallow water, and if she could handle the other one, surely she could handle this one.

So she headed up there, made it passed the lifeguard, and we waited and waited and waited for her to come down. Finally, she climbed back down the steps all shaken and upset (sound familiar?). I offered to go up with her.

On the way up she told me her concerns. In one spot the sides were lower - would she fall out? Of course not. They would never, ever make it so a kid could fall out, they have to make it safe. The water at the top was really hard and it freaked her out. It's only hard at the top because it has to push all the way down the slide. Once you get going, it's fine.

When it got to be her turn, she asked the lifeguard to give her a little push. And down she went...

...again and again and again.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Celebrating her 6th Birthday

For Morgan's birthday, we first opened presents at home. She received the electronic game version of Guess Who?, unicorn Webkins, Magic Fabric Kit, Geomate Jr (a simple geocaching device for kids), a pair of binoculars (which were actually my five year service reward from my company but she was still thrilled to have her own pair) and we finally broke down and got her a Nintendo DS.

Then we went over to her friend's Roan's house for pizza and cupcakes (which Roan made especially for her). Roan was not going to be able to make Morgan's party, but still wanted to her help her celebrate. The two had a great time playing outside despite the rain. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures to share, as it's becoming more and more common for me to forget my camera behind.

Morgan's present from Roan was a Cheetah Pillow Pet, something she's wanted for a long time.

The next morning, Morgan told me "Mom. I still love my pillow pet, but it isn't a cheetah." Taken aback, I asked her why she would think that. She proceeded to explain to me that cheetah's have solid black spots while jaguars have the black circles with the dark brown on the inside, unless of course it's a black jaguar because there are two different types, and since her pillow pet does not have solid black spots he is a jaguar. I had to Google cheetah spots just to make sure she was correct. And of course she was!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In the Blink of an Eye


Happy 6th Birthday!

I am amazed at what a compassionate person you are becoming. The care that you exhibit to others is beyond your years. Your sense of humor and bubbly personality make me laugh and smile every day. You are so smart and aren't afraid to question things, many times proving that you know more about a subject then we do. I can't wait to see the ways in you will grow and develop in the coming year. I have no doubt you will continue to amaze me.

We love you buggaboo!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Zoo Camp - Twisted Tales

Last week Morgan attended the zoo camp. The theme for the week was Twisted Tales: We all know classic fairy tales that feature creatures but would the tale be the same from the animal's point of view?

All the campers had to wear the official Animal Tales T-shirt each day at the zoo.

They did so many things and learned so many neat things about animals. On Monday, they read "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" and learned about all things wolf. They played a really neat game called Find Your Pack! where each kid had a scented bottle and they had to find the rest of their pack by finding other kids with their matching scent. They also had a service dog as their animal visitor. Morgan was excited to share the fact that wolves smell better then cats, but cats hear better then wolves.

On Tuesday, they read "The Three Snow Bears", an adaption of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". They played Hibernation Food Hunt. When the lights were off, they had to sleep on their mats, when the lights were on, they had to find food super quick. I asked her if they had any animal visitors and she looked at me like I had three heads.

No mom, we learned about bears today.

Well yesterday you learned about wolves but you still had a visitor.

Yes, well there isn't an animal related to a bear that would be safe to bring into the classroom.

Alrighty then.

Wednesday was all about Turtles, Tortoises and other reptiles. They visited Tropical Discovery, had turtle dress-up time, learned about all the turtles of the world, played Pin the Tongue on the Frog and made tissue paper turtles.

They also had a box turtle visit the classroom. Morgan's fun fact to share for the day was that the turtle's shell grows with the turtle.

Thursday's theme was fast and slow animals. They created their own storybook called The Sloth and the Jaguar, a new take on The Tortoise and the Hare.

They also had a Sloth vs Jaguar Race, played Fast and Slow Simon Says and had a Tortoise and Hare Relay Race. The highlight of the day for her was a visit to the cheetah's exhibit, her favorite animal. She was still talking about the cheetah this weekend. I was informed that cheetahs are the only cat's who's claws don't retract? They stay out all the time so they can run fast through the long African grass. Looks like Morgan isn't the only one learning something new from the zoo camp.

Friday was the final day and Morgan was quite sad that it was over. The theme for the day was primates. They learned about African versus Asian primates, played move like a primate, had a gorilla grooming game, visited the primates and toured the Lorikeets (which had nothing to do with primates, but Morgan enjoyed non the less). At the end of the camp day, the families were invited to the Wildlife Show. Due to bad weather it was held inside. The kids sat up front with their groups while the parents hung out in the back of the room. They had a macaw and a red wing hawk, but the star of the show was the African Serval. We were too far back to get a picture, but here is what this cat looks like. He was kept on a leash and demonstrated how well he can leap 10 feet high into the air. It was amazing.

At the end of the show, each class performed a song. Morgan's room did Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

This by far was Morgan's favorite camp. Morgan has decided to she wants to be a zookeeper when she grows up. She wants to go to this camp EVERY WEEK next year, and for fall break, and for Christmas break and for any classes they have on Saturdays. While she won't be going every week next summer (there are only two different classes offered over the summer weeks, plus this camp is expensive) we want to encourage her love for animals and will be signing her up for other offerings through out the year.