Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter 2008

Easter is a major holiday in the UK - a four day "bank holiday" weekend, which means no school or work on Good Friday or "Easter Monday". We have taken advantage of the extra down time to get caught up...on sleep, housework, and family photos!
On Friday, we all spent several hours doing "spring cleaning" type activities: dusting, vacuuming, cleaning, laundry, mopping floors, and just general all-round tidying up. You'd think with a much smaller house it would be a much faster task, but no, it still takes most of the day. Besides the obvious motivation of wanting to have the house look nicer, we had extra motivation this time: our flat has been invaded over the past few days by mice - eek! (You can read about it on Chris' blog - no need to spend time in our Easter post talking about mice)
On Saturday, we all went to a movie and enjoyed hearing Jim Carrey remind us that "a person's a person, no matter how small" in Horton Hears a Who! We also spent several hours decorating Easter eggs and putting up Easter decorations around the house. Because we like to focus on Easter itself on Easter Sunday, we also did Easter baskets for the children on Saturday morning. Here's a picture of some of our Easter eggs and other crafts. Especially note the eggs on the right, which were painted by hand by Chase at school this week. Oh, and of course, that's his Superman Easter basket in the background!
Here are some chicks and a bunny that the kids glued together. The cards in the background were also one of the crafts we did together. The egg cups were one of Isabelle's Christmas gifts last year.
Today, Easter Sunday, we had to be at Church extra early to rehearse with the choir. Getting to church early is a challenge for us on a good day, but this morning, it was extra fun because it started to snow as we were walking out the door! Luckily, we managed to catch a bus that was being driven by a Formula 1 race car driver moonlighting as a bus driver, and made it to South Kensington in record time and only five minutes late (which in Mormon standard time is like twenty minutes early!)
While we were singing, Isabelle and Chase got out the crayons and began drawing. Isabelle drew a really nice picture of Mary Magdalene kneeling at the empty tomb, but when we sat down to write this blog entry, we couldn't find the drawing. If we find it in the next few days, we'll add it here, but below are two of Chase's drawings. The first is a drawing of Jesus with Chase (note Jesus' red sash) and the second is a picture of the Hyde Park church building where we attend church.
Monday morning update: We found Isabelle's drawing. If you can't read the speech bubble, it says "My Saviour. He is gone!"
And of course, after church, we had to make sure we captured everyone's Easter Sunday outfits. Isabelle had a new teal dress and crocheted cardigan that we found on Oxford Street after looking through five or six different stores. Chase got a new tan linen vest and trousers from Marks & Spencer, but decided he liked it better when he just wore the trousers (you can't call them "pants" here, because that means "underpants") with a pink polo and his navy blue blazer. Mom and dad dressed to match. Anne with a teal blouse and white skirt, and Chris with tan slacks, pink tie, and navy blazer.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Isabelle's Schoolwork

Isabelle is in Year 2 at school. Since the school system is completely different from the school system in the States, she isn't really in the equivalant of either first or second grade, but she does seem to be in just the right place. She is a good student and has a teacher who keeps her sufficiently challenged.

Half Term Research Paper

Over the half term break the students were given an assignment to write a research paper on a famous person such as Christopher Columbus, Florence Nightingale or Henry the VIII. Isabelle began researching Florence Nightingale, but changed her mind at the last minute and asked us if she could write her paper on Joseph Smith. We told her she could, and offered a little guidance to keep it appropriately factual (vs. spiritual):

She ended up writing a page more than was required and was mentioned (among two other students) in front of the class. Her teacher was impressed with her quality of work and told us in her our parent/teacher meeting that she was happy to read something she hadn't already read a million times before.

Note the clipart of Joseph Smith - one of the lessons they had in school was how to use Google to search for images, then cut and paste those images into Word. (Sorry Mom, we'll have to show her how to use Yahoo! to do the same thing, but for now she uses Google.)

Katie Morag

Katie Morag Island Stories is a book that they've been studying in Year 2. The children have recently been writing their own stories about Katie Morag. There is a weekly assembly for years 1-6 where some of the best work done is shared in front of everyone. Last week Isabelle's story about Katie Morag was read in front of the school. The next day, I was at the school for a literacy event they were holding after school. Both her teacher and the Year 4 teacher told me they were very impressed with her composition. In fact, the Year 4 teacher told Isabelle that he went back to his classroom and told his students in amazement, "Class, we just heard a paper from a student in Year 2!" and they responded with, "I know! It was amazing!"

I've been told that I will get a copy of it, so as soon as it is sent home, I will post it. (I can hardly wait!)

Parent/Teacher Meeting

We recently met with her teacher for parent/teacher conferences, where we were pleased to hear a long list of Isabelle's admirable qualities. We were told that Isabelle...:

  • ...gets along with everyone
  • ...fits in with the other students as though she's been here all school year, even though she's only been here a little over two months
  • persistent in finding the answers even when something is difficult (her teacher explained that often students will shy away from a challenge and stick to their strengths)
  • ...asks questions as needed until she understands
  • ...chooses to work with other students who are focussed when given a choice of students with whom to work, rather than just choose her friends as most kids will do
  • extremely creative and does quality work (we were shown a beautifully painted Chinese mask, which has also been shown in the schoolwide "good work" assembly)

We are so proud of Isabelle. She often surprises us with her maturity and discipline when it comes to her education.

Note: We are using this blog not only as a way to keep family and friends up to date on our busy lives but also as a way to keep a journal. We aren't posting stuff about our kids to initiate (or respond to) any "my kid's better than your kid" blog wars! :-)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Newest Thread

So clearly, I'm not the best blogger on the internet, or rather consistent blogging has not yet risen to the top ten of my priority list. We have had, however, some fun things happen over the last few weeks;

Chris's brother, Mark and his fiance Katie were married on the Carnival Triumph on January 19 and then kindly allowed the entire Taber Clan to join them on their honeymoon cruise in the Eastern Carribean. We all had a lot of fun and I especially enjoyed having new sisters-in-law to pal around with. Andrew (another Taber brother) is engaged to Polina and their wedding is set for June 22 in New York. 9-10 hours on an airplane with a 5 hour time change is a lot on either end of such a trip, so we all spent a day and half sleeping before we sent the children back to school - what's one more day in the life of a kindergartener or a 2nd grader? So the next day Chris went back to work, the children went back to school, and I went back to bed...for hours. For some reason, I could not keep my eyes open. As it turns out, there was a very good reason. The newest thread in the Taber Tapestry is child number 3!

So I've heard number 3 is the hardest. So far this seems to be true as far as the pregnancy is concerned; I have had to sleep more, and whoever named it "morning sickness" probably was never actually pregnant. The nausea seems to be all day long and the hormones have turned me into crazy person. Fortunately, my family still likes me and Chris says they already new I was crazy, and we've made it through the first 12 weeks. And we are all looking forward to the middle trimester. Not that anyone's asked my opinion, but I think aside from the first time 'round, pregnancy should only consist of the middle trimester. The time when you are typically past the morning sickness, have grown enough to start wearing clothes that are meant for a pregnant body (rather than just making due with what you've got), and are past the narcolepsy and generally you are feeling pretty good and enjoy that new Mommy glow.

Anyway, I recently had my first ultrasound and met with my new health care team (midwife, endocrinologist, etc) at the hospital where the baby will be delivered, and everything seems to be developing as it should.
It's been fun involving the children now that they're really old enough to understand what's going on. When we first sat them down to tell them why mommy had such a short fuse and was taking 3 hour naps everyday, they were both really excited. Isabelle's immediate response was,

"I knew that's what you were going to say!"

"Oh really? How did you know?"

"I prayed about it," she responded matter-of-factly. Ahh, the faith of a child... Since then Isabelle has kept us updated on the weekly developments as outlined in Your Pregnancy Week By Week and Chase has recommendations for names on a daily basis. The first he came up with (supposing it might be twins) was "Batman and Robin." One might think he was just being a cute 4-year-old, but those of us who know Chase recognize that he already has a quick wit! Daddy and I added, "or Kate and Duplicate if it's girls! Or Pete and Repeat!" (in honor of Pete from the cruise) All in all, he actually has come up with some nice names as well, but I think we will wait until we have more of an idea of whether it's going to be a boy or a girl.

Speaking of Batman, Chase just turned 5 on Monday and we threw him a Batman/Superheros party yesterday. He came up with his own guest list including, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, a teenager and some grown ups. We played musical chairs (to the Batman TV show theme), pin the mask on Batman, decorated and ate cupcakes and Chris led the procession outside for some Superhero poses and poppers that shoot streamers. Oh, and Chris had printed out several choices of Superhero symbols for the children to wear - hence the need for Superhero poses. We all had a great time and I am grateful that Chase is 5!

Our next adventure will be another trip to the States in April to celebrate Grandpa's (Alan's) 60th birthday? (Think I should bring the pin the mask on Batman game?)