Monday, August 27, 2007


When you're five, you get to take the school bus to school.

When you're five, you can walk on the sidewalk in the parking lot and not have to hold hands.

When you're five, you get to go to Target and get a bunch of school supplies.

When you're five, you can open your own fruit snacks.

When you're five, you get to use the special Bible that has all the fun games in it.

When you're five, your feet reach the pedals on the Green Machine.

When you're five, you can ride your bike without training wheels and not fall.

When you're five, you can buckle yourself in the car.

When you're five, you get to play on a real soccer team. Outside. On grass. With soccer shoes and shinguards and real soccer uniforms.


LilKat2 really wants to be five.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Kindergarten Answers!

Well, the kindergarten stuff has all been resolved. Last week, I called around to find out if LilKat1 could transfer to another school that offered half-day kindergarten. I found a form that I was supposed to fill out and went down to the school that LilKat1 is currently enrolled in to turn it in. When I got to the school, it turned out that the principal was on the phone with the principal of the school that offered the half-day class. So all I had to do was wait around a bit and find out if the transfer would be ok'd or not.

A few minutes later, the principal came out to talk to me. She said that the transfers are normally denied, but since she had talked with the other principal and there is space available there, they would ok the transfer if we wanted. But she encouraged us to stay at LilKat1's current school and just have him leave early if we didn't want to have him there for the full day.

I told her that I was concerned that the class would go over things during the afternoon that he would miss. And when he came in for the morning portion, he would be behind. The principal showed me the layout of the class, and it turns out that this won't be a problem. In the morning portion of class, they learn about math, reading, writing, etc. It lasts for about 2 and a half hours. If we just had LilKat1 go to this part and then pick him up, it would be pretty much the same thing as him going to half-day kindergarten.

After the morning session, the kids go to lunch. They get about 45 minutes for this and then come back to class for a half hour rest time.

The afternoon session also lasts for about 2 and a half hours. The kids learn about science, social studies, art, and other stuff. I think they also learn Spanish during this time.

Since the things they learn in the afternoon are not related to the things they learn in the morning, we wouldn't have to worry about LilKat1 getting behind if he went home early. The teacher would provide us the details about what the kids will be learning about in the afternoon, so we could decide which components he could go to and which ones he could skip.

It seemed like a great option because LilKat1 would be able to get a half-day kindergarten experience if we want, but he could also go to the afternoon session if the class is doing something particularly interesting. He would be able to stay at his current school which is nice because that is where all of his neighborhood friends are going. And even if we pick him up before the afternoon session, he'll still be able to eat lunch with his friends and play with them before he goes home.

So that's what we decided to do. The kindergarten picnic is tonight, so LilKat1 will get to meet his teacher and the other kids in his class. We get to bring our own dinner, so LilKat1 has requested pizza and cookies. Earlier this summer, he was very nervous about kindergarten. But now, he's really starting to look forward to it.

Sunday School Comment of the Day

Last Sunday, we had a couple of special guests come in and talk to our Sunday School class. They are missionaries who have been living in Albania. They were talking about the other missionaries that they work with who come from countries around the world. Which lead to this exchange with one of the kids:


Guest Speaker: ...and these missionaries come from many different countries, England, Finland, the United States, Korea...

(boy raises hand)

Guest Speaker: Yes, in the back, do you have a questions?

Boy: Have you asked the people from Korea if they have nuclear weapons?

Guest Speaker: Ummm...well, we don't really talk much about political things like that. And these missionaries are from South Korea and not North Korea.

Boy:Oh...South Korea...Did you know that the people of South Korea play more video games than anyone else in the world?


Kids are funny.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Kindergarten Decisions

LilKat1 is going to be starting Kindergarten this September. The school that he is currently enrolled in has just switched from half-day kindergarten to full-day. When I went to the Kindergarten registration day, there was a form that you could fill out if you wanted full-day kindergarten. The cost for full-day was extra, something like $3000 for the year. There were 46 signatures on the form and only 20-something spots. I think I may have been the only one there who did not want the full-day class.  Well, I guess the response was so big that they decided to change all of the classes to full-day. Many parents were happy about this because a) their kid would get into a full-day class and b) they wouldn't have to pay extra for it.

Well, this means that LilKat1 will be in school from 8:30-2:50. That's over 6 hours! Doesn't that seem like a lot? We think so. So we're trying to figure out our options.

Option 1 is to have him go to the same private school that he went to preschool at. The cost for this would be something like $2600 for the year. He loves his school, so we know he'd have a great time there. Plus, he'd get an extra year of Christian education. But we wouldn't be able to afford to keep him there, so he'd have to transfer for 1st grade.

Option 2 is to try to get him into a charter school. There's one near by that has half-day kindergarten. They actually look like a fantastic school. But you have to do a lottery process to get in, so there's no guarantee that he would get in.

Option 3 is to try and do an in-district transfer to another public school that offers half day kindergarten. So far, this is the most appealing. We'd have the option of letting him stay at his new school up through 5th grade. We'd also have the option of sending LilKat2 and PrincessKat there as well. However, if we did that, our kids would be going to a different school than all of the other neighborhood kids. I don't know if this is a big deal, but it's something to think about. Furthermore, registration is happening right now, and it sounds like we'd need to get that process done really quickly before the classes got filled up.

Option 4 is to have him stay at his current school, but pick him up from class half-way through. I talked with the district supervisor about this and she said it was an option. I still need to talk with the principal about it. The benefit would be that if LilKat1 decided that he really liked school and wanted to stay the whole time, then he'd be able to. The downside would be that he would miss out on all of the afternoon activities and could possibly end up behind a bit.

Option 5 is to just have him stay at school and go full time.


Right now, I think option 3 is the most attractive. I have a call in right now for the in-district transfer stuff. I just hope it gets done quickly. There's another public school very close by that he could go to. Some of the kids that go there would actually live closer to us than some of the kids at his current school. On his soccer team, 2 of the other boys are already enrolled at the other school (I think). The half-day kindergarten goes from 8:20-10:40. Much more reasonable I think. You know, the more I think about it, the more I'm rooting for option 3 to work out.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Soccer Sneeze

So imagine you've just finished soccer practice. It's a hot August day, and you need a big drink of water. You grab your water bottle, take a big huge swig...and then sneeze! That happened to me today. It looked something like this (only without the booger...I think...well, no one mentioned anything about a booger, so I'm assuming there wasn't one...)

Shadows Over Camelot

Shadows Over Camelot is currently one of our favorite board games. It has a bunch of good things going for it.


1) It's a cooperative game - For some reason, I really like cooperative games. When I play games, I play with people that I like, so it's fun to be on the same team with them. I think the same thing goes for sports or video games. I'd usually rather play with one of my friends than against them. I know not everyone feels this way, but I do. There aren't a whole lot of cooperative games out there, so it's nice to have one that's well made.

2) You get to be either King Arthur or one of the other knights of the Round Table - I've always liked the King Arthur stories ever since I was a boy, so this is a great theme for me. The only problems that I could see would be if the people you're playing with start humming the songs from Excaliber throughout the game (which has happened) or make dumb Monty Python jokes the whole time (which has not yet happened). The knights all have different special abilities which adds a bit of flavor to each game.

3) It's a Days of Wonder game - As with all of the Days of Wonder games that I've seen, the components in this game are very nice. The artwork on the board and cards are fantastic. There are cool little miniature catapults and invaders. These could have easily have been cardboard tiles and not have affected game play at all, but having them as miniatures just makes the game seem that much nicer. And there's always the benefit of the Days of Wonder customer support should you ever need it.

4) There's a TRAITOR! - This is a cooperative game, but there is always the possibility that one of the players is a traitor. You have to make decisions as a team, but there's always the thought in the back of your head that one of the other players is trying to thwart your efforts. Before the game, each player is dealt one of eight loyalty cards. One of the cards says 'Traitor' on it. So the traitor is not necessarily in each game, but the possibility is always there.

Now, we haven't actually played with a the loyalty cards yet, but we have a good reason. And that reason is...

5) The game is hard! - When we played the first time, we got clobbered. The 2nd time we tried, we came close. On our third try, we barely won. In order to win, 2 of our 3 players had to sacrifice their own lives for the good of the team (one of these players was Mrs. BigKat. She really didn't want to do this. I mean she REALLY didn't want to. When I suggested it, it was clear that she didn't like the words that were coming out of my mouth.). And keep in mind, that we did this without playing with the possibility of a traitor! It's nice that the game is difficult because it really gave us a sense of accomplishment when we won.


Anyhow, if those reasons sound appealing to you, then I would highly recommend this game. So far, we've only played 3 player games (the minimum), and it sounds like it is even more fun with additional players. I've read that some people say that they have gotten to the point where the game has become too easy. But on the Days of Wonder forums, there are suggestions for making it a little harder. For us, that's a ways off. I think the game is plenty hard as it is.

You can get this game at places like Boards and Bits for ~$34. A little on the expensive side for games, but well worth it, I think.


Want more information? Try checking out Board Game Geek. They've got a lot more info and reviews over there.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Cast Iron

I love to cook. I especially love to barbecue and grill (and for those of you who didn't know, there is a difference between the two. And it has nothing to do with sauce. Just thought I'd throw that in there). I have a couple of nice ceramic cookers that I can cook almost anything on. So if I was going to cook a burger or a steak, you'd automatically think I would toss it on the grill, right?

Well, if you did, you'd be wrong!

I've been really enjoying cooking on my cast iron pan lately. Part of it is because when I cook, I usually have very little time to do so. It is much easier to get my pan to the right temperature on the stovetop, than it is to fire up my ceramic cooker and get it to the precise temperature that I want. I also don't have to worry about hotspots with my pan. Not having to worry about the temperature means that the food has a much greater chance of being cooked just right.

I can sear my meat nicely on the cast iron pan. It retains heat quite well. And I can also collect any bits from the bottom of the pan if I need to make a sauce (although I will usually go with my stainless steel pan to sear things if I'm going to be making sauce afterwards).

So is this strange? Sometimes I feel bad for wanting to cook my burgers in a pan rather than on a grill. I feel less manly somehow. I think if I had more free time, I'd probably fire up the grill, just because it's so much fun. But for right now, I'm far more satisfied with my pan-cooked steaks and burgers than my grill cooked ones.


At soccer practice today, LilKat1 scored his first soccer goal ever! We had a full group today, so we were able to do a 3 on 3 scrimmage. The kids were all in clump trying to get control of the ball. LilKat1 went right in the middle and gave it a good kick. The ball went right past everyone on the other team, traveled about 3/4 of the length of the field (about 20 feet altogether), and went right in the goal. I shouted at him 'LilKat1! You just scored a goal!' He was so pleased with himself. When we talked about it tonight, he said that it was his favorite part of practice, and he kept telling me about how he had never scored a soccer goal before. I was very proud of him.

When he played basketball, he would never go and get the ball. He only had a few rebounds, and the ones that he got were balls that happened to bounce into his hands. Yet here he was going after the ball in a big crowd of kids. I'm not sure how much of it is him growing up and how much of it is soccer just suiting him better. I know with basketball, he didn't like the idea of taking the ball from someone's hands (and in fact, in the YMCA league, players weren't allowed to steal the ball). And one time, he also got hit in the head with the ball that came off of the basket, which made him not so willing to stand near the hoop when his team was on offence. I actually remember him standing behind the basket so he wouldn't get hit. But in soccer, he seems a lot more confident going after the ball. Maybe it's because the ball is pretty much always a loose ball. No one is ever holding the ball. The closest they come is just standing near it. And if there's a big pile of kids around the ball, then they all seem to have equal claim to it. But I think there's something else to it as well. He doesn't mind getting right into the thick of things and getting tangled up with other kids and falling down. He thinks it's great fun. Much different than basketball. Who knows. Maybe he's just used to wrestling LilKat2 for his toys.

Well, in any case, I was a very proud Dad today. It was quite an accomplishment for him and he was very happy with himself. I felt really good for him. It was really a nice moment, seeing him attempt to do something that, for him, was rather difficult and succeeding. I hope this will help him to like the sport even more than he already does.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Last weekend, we took a family trip down to Grants Pass to see my dad. On Saturday, we went to the farmer's market at 11am and then went to lunch. We were going to meet up with my dad and his wife for ice cream at 1, so we had a little free time. I wanted to do something fun with the kids, so I thought we'd give letterboxing a try.

We had a great time! The idea is that you are given clues to find a hidden box. Some of the clues are pretty straightforward, and some require you to do a little bit of detective work. The hidden box contains a stamp and a notebook, and sometimes a stamp pad. When you go looking for the letterboxes, you bring a stamp and notebook of your own so that when you find the letterbox, you put your stamp in the letterbox notebook and the letterbox stamp in your notebook. That way, you can keep a journal of all of the letterboxes that you've found. And the person that letterbox itself will contain a journal of everyone that has found it.

The night before, I looked up a few letterboxes in Grants Pass. One of them was not far from the place where we had lunch. I told the kids that we were going Treasure Hunting. They got them interested. In the morning, we stopped at the store and purchased a couple of stamps for them (note: most letterbox hunters make their own custom stamps. Might be a fun project to do with the kids sometime). We drove down one of the downtown streets until it went into a residential area. A little ways in, there was a trailhead on the right. We parked and headed up towards it. The clue said to walk up the trail about 300 yards. 300 yards is not very far, but it is all uphill, so we had to listen to about 200 yards of Are-we-there-yet's. At one point, LilKat1 decided he was tired and wanted to sit. I told him that I thought the treasure was pretty close and he could sit and wait for Mrs. BigKat to catch up (she was lagging behind because a) she had worn flip-flops instead of shoes and b) she was carrying PrincessKat around in the backpack). LilKat2 wanted to keep up with me so we walked ahead. I only had to go up about 15 more yards before I saw the tree that we were looking for. I called down the hill, 'I think I found it!' and LilKat1 came running up at top speed.

The clue said that the box was hidden at the base of the tree. I carefully moved the pile of twigs and leaves that was mounded up there and sure enough, underneath everything was a small rectangular tupperware-like box. I brought it out to show the boys and they were so excited! We took out the contents of the box. There was a small homemade stamp made from an eraser, some old loose journal pages that had been written on by past letterboxers, and a half-filled journal. The boys stamped the handmade stamp into their notebooks and then put their stamps into the letterbox journal. It was interesting reading some of the past entries in the journal. People going back to 2003 had found the box and wrote about what a nice time they had hunting for it. A lot of them were doing it as a family, just as we were. Unfortunately, there was no pen in the letterbox and I had neglected to bring one of our own, so we weren't able to write our names in the journal page.

We started to head back, but LilKat2 wanted to keep going up the hill. He wanted to find more treasure. I told him that that was the only treasure there and that even if we kept going up the hill, we wouldn't find any more. He was a bit disappointed, but the thought of catching up with my dad to get ice cream made him happier.

This was a great family activity for us. The whole idea of following some directions to a secret location and actually finding a box where it says a box will be was really fun. We actually went out the next day and found 3 more letterboxes (and we brought a pencil with us this time!). I told the boys that there are a bunch of boxes around where we live, so they are very excited to do some treasure hunting in our town. 

Friday, August 3, 2007

Soccer practice #2

We had our second soccer practice yesterday. Again, it was a lot of fun. This time, I had some rewards for the kids. We have 4 rules that you need to follow on the team: listen, follow directions, be respectful, and be a part of the team. I told the kids that if they followed all of the directions, they'd get a sucker. 2 of the kids did really well. 3 of the kids did not. I had told them that if they all did well, they'd all get suckers. But if only some of them did well, then none of them would get suckers. I think this was a mistake. I had one kid who was obviously trying extra hard. He really earned that sucker. I should've given it to the 2 kids that followed the rules. I'll correct that next week.

LilKat1 really enjoys soccer practice, but he's not as good at it as some of the other kids. I think part of it is his personality. He's very social and he likes to be silly. So during some of the games, he does silly stuff instead of what he's supposed to do. I wonder if part of this is him being afraid of not doing well during the game, and just acting silly in order to keep himself from failing.

I remember doing that when I was little. In 5th grade, we had to shoot free throws. Everyone watched while you shot and your score was the number that you made. I was supposed to be good at basketball. But I knew that I could not make free throws very well. So I started shooting the ball in goofy ways, imitating the shots of various NBA guys, Patrick Ewing, Jamaal Wilkes, Michael Jordan, etc. I think I missed all of them, but it made the class laugh. And it made my score irrelevant because the kids figured that I would've probably scored better if I was actually trying.

I did this in school as well. I rarely studied for tests and never did much homework. Part of it was because I had things that I'd rather do, but part of it was because I wanted to be the best. And if I tried my hardest and didn't get the high score, then it would mean that I wasn't the smartest in class. In high school, there was some competition amongst the kids to try and get the top scores on tests. Sometimes I'd get the top score and sometimes I didn't. But when I didn't, I was always ok with it because I knew that the other kids knew that I got my scores without studying.

Anyhow, back to soccer...I think LilKat1 just needs to get more comfortable with the ball. When we do drills that involve running around without the ball, he has a great time because he's good at that. But he's not as good with the ball (a lot like me!) and I think he just needs a lot of reps to get him used to it. There's one boy on the team that is very good with the ball. But his whole family plays soccer, so I think that he's already had a lot of ball time. I think that once LilKat1 gets that, he'll start to enjoy the games more because he won't have to worry about failing so much.

I think I'll have a talk to him about it too. Just to let him know that he doesn't need to worry about not doing well at first. That might help too.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

First Soccer Practice

Yesterday, we had our first official soccer practice. Well, actually I take that back. It turned out that they hadn't reserved the practice fields so our first official practice will be Thursday. But the practice fields were open so we used them. So I guess it was an unofficial practice? Well, whatever it was, it was our first practice.

Wow, what a lot of fun! I think everyone had a great time. First of all, we came up with a team name. All the boys had different ideas, so we mashed them all together. Now we're the Power Beaver Monster Trucks. I hope another team doesn't pick that name too.

We did a bunch of fun games. They got a lot of good practice with the ball, but it was while doing something fun, rather than something boring. For example, we did 'Red Light, Green Light' with the ball. They had to practice going fast with the ball (green light), going slow with the ball (yellow light), and quickly stopping with the ball (red light).

The boys all seem very nice. They get tired quickly though. I had to give them 3 water breaks. One boy asked for a break after our first activity. I looked at my schedule and I hadn't planned a water break for 10 minutes. I was concerned that if I gave too many water breaks, it would take up too much practice time. I remember when I coached at the YMCA, the water breaks would take like 5 minutes. So I started my stopwatch and said 'Ok, you have 1 minute to get a drink. GO!' And they took off. I think we ended up with a 40 second water break. Some of the kids had to go pretty far to get to where their parents were to get their water. They actually got some good exercise just getting water!

I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season. I think we're going to have a great time. LilKat2 is very sad that he is not old enough to be on the team. But after practice, I let him play with the cones and things. And we spent some extra time kicking the ball all around the practice field.

I asked LilKat1 if he had a good time at soccer practice and he gave a very enthusiastic 'Yes!' I think he's going to like this much more than his YMCA basketball experience. First of all, it's 3 v 3, rather than 5 v 5. 5 v 5 is way too many kids on the court with nothing to do. Also, in YMCA basketball, you can't steal the ball. So there really isn't anything to do on defense. Plus the drills that the team did were really boring. Now we do lots of fun drills, plus we have the benefit of having 2 coaches and only 6 kids. Which will hopefully mean no bored kids.

Also, LilKat1 loves his soccer stuff. He loves having his own ball. He loves having his own water bottle. He loves having his own soccer cleats. And he really loves having his own shin guards. He wears those things all the time. Just around the house, to the store, over his pajamas, whatever. He just loves wearing them. After practice, he wanted to go play on the playground equipment. Mrs BigKat said that he could, but he'd have to change into his regular shoes. He thought about it for a second and decided that he would just kick the ball around with his brother. He chose not to play at the playground because he didn't want to take off his soccer shoes! He's going to love it when he gets his official soccer jersey, sock, and shorts.

Oh, and I'm thinking of creating a Power Beaver Monster Truck t-shirt for myself to wear at practices. I could make a bunch of iron on patches so that the kids could make their own shirts if they wanted. That should be fun!