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May 5, 2012 / lafamiliacooper

First 5K!!!

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Maggie did her first 5k today! Montessori held its second annual walk and run this morning at Horseshoe Lake. All four children joined me: Jack on his bike, Ella run/walking with her friends Jordan and Kate, Maria in the stroller (with periodic running bursts), and Maggie run/walking with me for the whole time! She ran most of the first mile, when we stopped for our first water break. Since the race didn’t start until 9 AM it was VERY hot and sunny by that time; there was no shade at all on the course. By the time we reached the turnaround at 1.5 miles, Maggie was quite discouraged – hot, sweaty, tired, with an upset stomach and knees that hurt. I offered several times to give her a turn in Maria’s stroller, or a piggyback ride. (And I had already suggested we turn around early!) She refused all offers of help. She was determined to finish the whole thing all by herself. With a little more than a mile left, we spied a turtle stranded in a hot field. With a woman in an RV, we took a detour to investigate. The woman and I decided we would try to move the turtle into the shade; however, we soon leaned why this particular kind of turtle is called a snapping turtle. He was hot and tired and MAD. Scared both Maggie and Maria when he snapped at the woman. So we decided to leave him be, and instead call a park ranger when we returned. Perhaps something about the break helped Maggie, because she resumed her walk with no more complaints, and we finished the last mile. With a little less than a quarter mile to go, Jack showed up on his bike, and gamely encouraged Maggie to run the last little bit, which she did, right to the finish line, where Mrs Weber (one of Maggie’s favorite teachers) was waiting to give her a finisher ribbon. She DEFINITELY earned that ribbon!!!

May 4, 2012 / lafamiliacooper

Camp DuBois

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So Maggie and I are camping this week! Jack and I first came to Camp DuBois in the fall of 2007, and we both fell in love with it. It is a camp run by the United Methodist Church, and it is located just outside of Nashville, Illinois. It is a beautiful spot with a cluster of buildings and campsites around a lake. Montessori has been coming here for a L O N G time. On the agenda, as always: classroom and in-the-field botany lessons, nature walks, a hayride and cook out, pontoon boat rides, a creek walk, and not-so-tasty cafeteria food. (For some reason Jack and Ella love the food here. Overcooked and over salted.)

Montessori makes a trip to DuBois every fall and spring, and I think with the exception of the spring right after Maria was born, I have been to every camp. First with Jack; then Jack and Ella; then Jack, Ella, AND Maggie; then just the two girls this past fall; and now just Maggie since Ella and her class went to Seacamp this spring instead of Camp DuBois.

Maria is already looking forward to coming. When I put her to bed on Tuesday night, she cried and said, rather pathetically, “I know I am only four, but I REALLY want to see what Camp DuBois looks like.” She was not appeased by my telling her that she had actually already been to camp: in the fall of 2008 she accompanied me while I chaperoned Jack and Ella. Two more years and she will get to see it again, this time as a lower el student. (Gasp!)

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May 3, 2012 / lafamiliacooper

Wedding Fun!

Well, after months of waiting, Tim Owens and Chelsi Fair were married last weekend! The wedding included lots of “firsts” for all four children – Jack did not particularly enjoy his first tux, but he looked handsome nonetheless. Ella was thrilled to wear a long dress and sparkly silver sandals. She was also thrilled to have her hair done that morning with the other bridesmaids. (Of course now she expects me to curl it – with a flatiron – as well as the stylist!) Maggie bought high heels, but wound up keeping her flat sandals on through the ceremony, and Maria had joined Ella earlier in the day for her own hairdo – which the stylist also did curly, which was a relief (a stylist once straightened Maria’s hair and Maria was quite distressed!)

The wedding day was a long one, but according to all accounts, all four children greeted the day with patience and good humor. They hung out with Jeff and the rest of the wedding party, snacked, and did a lot of waiting.

The bad weather held off until just before the ceremony, when the skies really opened up. Luckily, the ceremony was moved to a tent, and the rain didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits in the least. I thought the ceremony was beautiful, and was really touched by the vows they had written themselves (and individually). Highlights from Chelsi: “I promise to be the bright part in your bad day.” And from Tim: “Here’s to chapter one.”

In spite of not having seen me all day, Maria was quite content to walk down the aisle with Maggie and throw her feathers as instructed. She also stood almost the entire ceremony at the altar, until she got cold and one of the bridesmaids, Jara, simply scooped her up and held her until the ceremony was over. Then, Jara put Maria down, and Maria recessed out of the tent with Jeff, Jack, Ella, and Maggie. When asked later what her favorite part of the wedding was, Maria replied, “Walking down the aisle with Maggie.”

A long day made for an early night, as Maria fell asleep in my arms around 8 o’clock, actually WHILE DANCING. We let her sleep in a booth for a while so that Ella and Maggie could enjoy dancing to, among others, We Are Family, YMCA, and Celebration. Of course Jack was ready to go at any time, and only needed to be torn away from the book he was reading.

Any discussion of the wedding would be remiss if it didn’t include mention of Lisa and Dan Scanlan, and Fred Licon. Dan and Fred are relatively new colleagues of Jeff, as they are all working on the online gaming project, Ocho. Both Fred and Dan have stayed at our house before, and are wonderful guests. All four kiddos really look forward to their visits. And meeting Dan’s wife Lisa was something they all had been looking forward to. And, not surprisingly, Lisa did not disappoint. She is sweet and funny and kind, and she has curly hair (!), so she helped with Maggie’s hair both for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. We all enjoyed the visit with the Scanlans and Fred, and we are looking forward to meeting the Scanlan children, as well as Fred’s fiancĂ© Kelly and his nieces.

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April 26, 2012 / lafamiliacooper

Summer’s coming…..

Looks as though Maggie was too hot to sleep in bed tonight…..

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April 25, 2012 / lafamiliacooper

Grandparent’s Day!

Metro East Montessori is hosting their second annual Grandparents’ Day today! The school is packed full of grandparents, parents, and children. All three Cooper girls were very excited that they had three grandparents in the rotation – no one ever had to be alone!!

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April 21, 2012 / lafamiliacooper

Baseball Season Is Here!

This is the second tournament of the season so far for the Edwardsville u11 Tigers. Unlike the first tournament (held in Jacksonville, IL) where we huddled to find a hint of shade in 90+ degrees and reapplied sunscreen by the minute, tonight I wore long underwear and multiple layers – blankets, mittens, hats and lots of hot chocolate were all crucial this evening! Jack has been playing first base this season and doing a stellar job there. Hitting didn’t quite go his way, but he played well. Lost 6-5 to Team Illini from Bethalto. They play again at noon tomorrow.

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April 18, 2012 / lafamiliacooper

WOOSE

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Yesterday at Woodland School, Jack’s challenge class presented a project they have been working on all year: World Organization of Space Exploration (the acronym is pronounced “woozy.”) Parents were invited to come and watch the presentations.

The children were assigned to countries (Jack’s was Japan), and then within each group assigned to a role (Jack’s was military officer). They then embarked on a mission to Mars.

Along the way they were required to learn about Mars’s physical environment and obstacles that could befall humans, make plans and provisions for the length of their stay, and keep in contact with their home country; they created a website to record their findings. So the presentations were power point slides of their websites.

On paper, it is sort of a cool concept, but Jack never really seemed that engaged by this one, and, watching the presentations, the whole thing felt a little forced. Although to Jack’s credit, his writing and spelling abilities were excellent, and his fluency while reading in front of the group was great. Also from Japan were his buddies Ben Earle (soccer) and Kieran Flanagan (a neighborhood friend who, sadly, just moved across town), and Joseph (whom I believes Ella knows through Suzuki. Small town, USA)