Friday, December 23, 2011

Pomaika'i Winterfest

Dean's elementary school, Pomaika'i, had it's annual Winterfest event on friday night, December 9th. It was so much fun and so well done! We were extremely impressed!! Tutu came with us and we walked to the school from our house. The first thing Dean wanted to do was the scavenger hunt (the kid does love a good scavenger hunt!). Maui High School key club members were dispersed around campus to help with the scavenger hunt and the hunt took us all over the Pomaika'i campus solving little riddles and collecting stamps on a piece of paper to finally earn a prize at the end (a glow stick).

After receiving his prize, we visited with and got a photo with Santa, which was a huge success! They had an actual professional photographer on hand taking the photos and he took several shots and they turned out awesome in my opinion - and the prices were even cheaper than the mall package prices!

After Santa, we checked out the craft and food booths and then the Kindergarten teachers' Wish Tree. We found several of Mrs. Smith's wishes, which helped us finalize our holiday shopping for her (a few items for the classroom!). We also decorated gingerbread men in the cafeteria with Dean's lady friend Sienna.

The highlight of the night was the student performances, which were going on all evening on the outdoor stage in the courtyard area (our favorite was the Pomaika'i Ukulele Band!).

The entire kindergarten group (all SIX classes of them!!) got together and performed a song as a group - it was a bit like watching the teachers try to herd cats, but highly entertaining and absolutely adorable of course!!

After Dean's performance, we headed home - taking the long way through the neighborhood to check out all the festive Christmas lights!! It was definitely a fun-filled night - one of my favorites so far this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

5 Years Old

I can't believe I'm the mother of a 5-year-old!! Wow. Dean woke up on the morning of hi birthday, December 6th, to find a wall of balloons greeting him that he had to walk through - he loved that!

We didn't have a large "Friends" birthday party for him this year. We gave him the choice between a party and the weekend at the Grand and he chose the weekend at the Grand. We were happy with that!! We did have a little celebration at school on the day of his birthday. It's so cute what they do at school!! I made some little treat bags for all of his classmates - basically I just cut the tops off of paper lunch bags with pinking shears, folded the top over, and added a fun little handmade decoration to the front. I filled them with a small playdoh, bubbles and a pack of crayons. The school asks that we avoid sugary treats or candy when sharing gifts with friends, which was fine with me - but it did make it a bit more difficult to figure out something to do. The kids seemed fine with their treats though! And I have to say, I thought the bags turned out super cute! Joel of course thinks I'm crazy for putting so much effort into them when the kids probably throw them in the trash as soon as they leave school, but I can't help it. It would be physically painful for me to pass out a plastic bag or a plain paper bag. I just can't do it.

So anyway, back to the school celebration. I arrived at school with the treat bags 20 minutes before the end of the day. Mrs. Smith had the class come to the front of the room and line up on either side of the carpet, with Dean at one end. The kids dug deep down in their pockets to find their best wishes and then they sang a really cute version of the Happy Birthday song while Dean skipped back and forth between the two lines of kids with the kids singing and throwing their best wishes on Dean. It was so cute!! I seriously teared up a bit! They also sang another really cute song about how old you were yesterday and how old you are today. My introverted little Dean seemed to do great in the spotlight! I was so proud!!

After the singing and birthday wishes, we passed out treat bags and then the school day was over. Dean got to stand at the door and receive Birthday high fives from all his friends as they filed out of the classroom. It was so cute!!

After school, we went home and waited for Daddy to get home with cake. He called from Costco and gave Dean his choices - a clown with balloons or Christmas flowers. Dean chose the Christmas flowers.

We pretty much had cake for dinner and then opened a few presents from family - more Legos from Mommy and Daddy and a few other fun gifts that had arrived in the mail that week. But the highlight was definitely the Break your own Geodes and Rocks and Minerals book from Grandma Jo and Grandpa CR!! Dean was SUPER excited about that!!

We broke a few geodes and then Dean wanted me to get out the mini muffin tin for him to use to sort them to make a "Rock Collection", so he sorted them all out and then spent about half an hour looking through the book to research and try to figure out what kind of geodes he had. So much fun!!

Grand Weekend

Grandma Jo and Grandpa CR arrived safely yesterday afternoon from Kansas and we're so excited to have them here with us for Christmas again! It's a short visit this year, but I know we'll have lots of fun!! I'm going to try REALLY hard to get caught up with my blog posts before Christmas, so be prepared for several updates in the next few days!

The first weekend of December we celebrated a few milestones with a little staycation at the Grand Wailea Resort with Tutu - Dean's 5th Birthday, Tutu's 60th Birthday, and mine and Joel's 6th wedding Anniversary! It was lots of fun and Dean had a BLAST playing in the pools and going down all the slides for 3 days! (and he even got to go off the rope swing this time! He was pretty excited about that!). I have about a million photos to share so I'll just get right to them.

We had beautiful sunsets at the beach and Joel and I had a wonderful anniversary dinner at Humuhumunukunukuapua'a Restaurant for our anniversary (with a yummy drink from a coconut!). The weekend was the perfect way to celebrate!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tis the Season

We had a fabulous and mellow Thanksgiving at our house - Joel cooked as usual and it was delicious. My Mom and good family friend Jim Idoine joined us as usual. Unfortunately, Jayci had to work this year so she didn't make it on Thanksgiving day but she stopped by the day after for a plate of leftovers and to pick up a to-go container with more leftovers for later! And this year we were super happy to have our good friend Rusty join us (you may recognize Rusty's name more as "Coach Rusty" from gymnastics). It was lots of fun but somehow I managed to not take any photos. Sorry!

I did however pull the camera out plenty the day AFTER Thanksgiving as the Tapler Family Holiday Season officially kicked off!! We woke up Friday morning to find that Scout, our friendly Elf on the Shelf, had arrived from the North Pole sometime in the night with a very special gift for Dean and a letter! (I'll copy Scout's letter at the end of this post). Dean was pretty excited about this, unlike the last 2 years when he wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with the Elf on the Shelf! (For those of you unfamiliar with the Elf on the Shelf, you can read about him HERE). The Elf brought Dean a special Christmas Toy Shop Lego set that we've been working on for several weeks - we're hoping this will become a sort of holiday tradition and that the Holiday Lego sets will become part of our annual Christmas decorations. That's been lots of fun!

After our breakfast with the Elf, we got busy putting up our tree and decorating for Christmas. Dean was actually a pretty big help this year! He helped me sort ornaments and was *pretty* good about putting them on the tree and not wanting to put them all on one branch like in years past!

After all our hard work, we rewarded ourselves with a little bit of Lego time, working on our Christmas village / toy shop and a bit of silliness!

The following week on December 1st Dean was super excited for the start of the Lego City Advent Calendar - an entire 25 days of Legos to count down the days to Christmas!!

And here's a look at that special letter from the Elf on the Shelf for those of you who are interested: (and FYI, the term "Strong Choice" is a phrase they use at school that we are trying to reinforce by using frequently at home, in case you were wondering why you keep seeing those words).

Aloha Dean!

I'm back! Remember me? I am so excited that it's finally Christmas time and Santa has sent me on a Super Special Assignment to your house again this year! I had fun watching over you last year and I heard you've been a pretty good boy already this year. Keep working hard on making Strong Choices every day - listen to your Mommy and Daddy and the other grown-ups in your life and try to have good manners all the time. No whining and remember to be careful with your tone of voice. Clean up your toys and other things when you're done with them, don't leave messes. Show appreciation for the things you have and gifts you receive in your life. Get a good night's sleep every night so you have lots of energy for positive fun. Give aloha to your family and friends and everyone you meet. You're a good boy and I can't wait to go back to the North Pole each night and tell Santa about all the wonderful things you do and Strong Choices you make each day. Because I know you can do this, I decided to bring you an early Christmas present. Go ahead and open it and have fun! It will be a special project for you to enjoy in the next several weeks before Christmas.

(Your Elf on the Shelf).

Random Stuff

Just trying to get caught up with a few things. This post is full of just random stuff that I thought the family (and a few friends) might find interesting or entertaining. Most of it's kind of old. Sorry.

We've been going to the park quite a bit the last few months. Dean has 3 favorites - Keopuolani Park in Kahului, which is really cool but is already starting to show some wear and unfortunately doesn't seem to be kept up as well as it should. This has been quite the disappointment (mostly this is evident when we go there and all of the swings are missing or the grass around the play area is knee deep), but it's still one of the best play structures on Maui if you ask me. Then there's a brand new play structure at a little park in Wailuku just above Wailuku Elementary that Dean LOVES. This has become Dean and Joel's new frequent hangout. And it's always a special treat when we drive Upcountry and go to Giggle Hill and play on the big wooden play structure up there, which is also showing signs of wear, but is still super cool! Dean especially loves the rock climbing wall!

It took some time, but after a few months of kindergarten Dean finally got into the groove of daily homework. He still doesn't like homework, but he does it without too much of a fight. It's definitely easy work for him so that's not the problem, he just doesn't want to do it. He says "I don't want to do THIS work. I just want to do whatever I want to do." He also HATES coloring in pre-drawn pictures (as in coloring books or coloring pages), but loves to free-draw as long as you don't try to tell him what to draw, saying "No, I just want to draw / write / do whatever I want to do". We've tried explaining that life isn't like that and he better get used to it now, but he's having a bit of trouble grasping that. Only child syndrome? (I have to say this has gotten easier and I do think that Pomaikai's curriculum has helped with Dean's independent nature. But man, that kid is STUBBORN). We've established a pretty good homework routine of snack then homework immediately after school, then we do our reading before dinner and then a fun story before bed. So far that's working pretty well.

And I thought I'd share this scanned homework that made me laugh. The instructions say to "Look in your BEE book and write the sight words you can read". Dean's answer? "I can read all of them". It's true, but kind of a smart ass answer. I didn't make him correct it. It was too funny.

I think I've mentioned a few times on here how much Dean loves music. Specifically, my strange child loves classical music. If we're driving in the car and I'm listening to my personal preference, Classic Rock, he asks me to "change it to the real music Mommy", which means he wants me to change it to NPR where they're playing classical music. Weird, I know. He also has a knack for remembering and recognizing music - like he can hear a bit of classical music and identify the song and composer. Anyway, we've been keeping an eye on Craigslist for a piano for quite awhile and finally something decent that was in our price range came up last month and we grabbed it! It's old and needs to be tuned, but it's had one owner and is in really good condition and was really well cared for. Most importantly, Dean is super excited!! I haven't played since high school I think, but it all came back to me (at least the basics did - I know the notes and can still read music. I better after so many years of lessons and band!!). I've been VERY slowly working with Dean to teach him a few really basic things about the piano and reading music. He already knew some it, I think from watching Little Einsteins, and seems to have a natural ability for grasping the concepts. He doesn't quite have the motor control in his hands yet to hold them correctly at the keys, but that will come. I think we'll wait awhile and then get him signed up for lessons, although I've already heard that same "No, I just want to do whatever I want to do".

It's also been amazing to see Dean actually "writing" (drawing) his own music. He's been doing this for about a year now and obviously it's not playable, but it's so cute! And it's neat to see some elements that are popping up there that we've talked about (like the sharps and the crescendo, etc). I especially love that he wrote a H# and then realized that was wrong and crossed it out!! So cute.

And finally, one of my favorite ideas Dean's had lately...Dean loves to make lists and charts and lately he's been really into rocks and minerals and crystals and gems. He has a big bag of "gemstones" (which are really just these cheap little flat-backed multicolored rhinestone things from the craft store) that he likes to sort and label. Several weeks ago he decided he wanted to make a chart and asked me to print him a blank table to use. He told me what he wanted each column to say and I printed it up. He glued in all the different "gemstones" in the first column and then used a couple of different books to look up what he though each one was (he listed things like Peridot, Garnet, and Aquamarine) and named it, then there was a column for where each one was found and he wrote that in (he had things like Earth's Mantle, Sedementary Rock, and Igneous Rock), and then the last column was a number for the hardness of the gemstone and he wrote that in (some of those he wasn't able to find in any of his many books about rocks and minerals so he just wrote in a question mark instead). He was SO PROUD of his finished table and pinned it up on his bulletin board when he was done! And of course I loved that it kept him busy and quiet for a good hour and a half!! :-)

LinkAlso, I wanted to mention if you haven't checked out Dean's teacher's blog lately - What's Going On in B104 - be sure to go check it out!! Their class has been doing some really cool things. I especially loved the post about their time planting recently in the School Garden, which you can read HERE. Have I mentioned before how fortunate we feel that Dean gets to go to this amazing school!? I've been volunteering in Dean's classroom a few days a month and each time I'm there reinforces our decision to go ahead and start him in Kindergarten this year (most of you know how much we agonized over this decision) and to go with our neighborhood public school.