Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Meet Jack the Elf

We've been seeing and hearing people talking about them for a couple of years now. It seems they're all the rage. And now, an Elf on the Shelf has finally found its way into our house, too.

We got a package in the mail from Gammie yesterday. In it was the Elf on the Shelf book, which we read at bedtime. The boys were very excited - they had been hearing about them, too. We were about halfway through the story when Josiah looked up at the shelf in his room and caught his breath. "Look, guys! There's an Elf on the Shelf! We have one, too!!!!" The book reading had to pause temporarily for all the whooping and hollering to die down. :)

Agreeing on a name was quite a task. We finally decided that our elf's name is "Jack." Josiah can call him "Jack-Mom" if he really wants too...but his real name is just "Jack."

And sure enough, this morning when the boys woke up, they found him in a different spot than last night. Today he was on top of the kitchen cabinets, where the play swords, stick horses, golf clubs, and anything else that might become a weapon live.
Welcome to our home, Jack / Jack-Mom! We hope to provide you with nothing but good reports to give to Santa, and look forward to finding you in all kinds of fun places!
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Monday, November 14, 2011

School Board Honoree

Each elementary school's own Reading Bee Champion was recognized at tonight's school board meeting. They got to wear their medals, have their names called out, and stand in front of everyone there. Pretty cool. At one point, when the speaker was talking about how smart they all have to be to earn this honor, he asked if any of them planned to be president someday. All of the kids just kind of looked at him, either shy or blank expressions on their faces. Except Conner. He proudly raised his hand, eagerly jumping up and down. Good grief. ;)

After the meeting we went to Braum's, as is becoming our celebration custom, to get some ice cream cones. And yes, here's Stribling Elementary's Reading Bee Champion, Burleson ISD's Reading Bee Runner-Up, the second best 2nd grade reader in Burleson, future president of the United States...who is really just an eight-year-old kid who still can't eat ice cream without getting it all over his face. Love it. Love him!

Fiddler Crab Escape!

A week or so ago, some of the boys' fish - Phineas and Buford - died. The wellsbrothers were sad - melodramatically so. "Can you see this tear? It's my 297th one." But that was over pretty quickly when they realized that they could go get new fish.

Micah quickly found a really cool ghost catfish - you can see right through him. He looks kind of like a fish skeleton.

And then we saw some fiddler crabs. Conner was in love. The crabs were in an aquarium, just like the fish. All the facts and care instructions looked very similar to those for the fish. The price was about the same. I figured, "Hey, why not"?"

So we took Ghost and Snappy home and dumped them in with the other fish. And everything was fine. For a couple of days, anyway...

Then one day I went in to check on the fish as usual, and I couldn't find Snappy. I figured he was just hiding, so I checked back again several times throughout the day. I still couldn't find him. By this point I figured he was dead, I just couldn't imagine where his body might be.

Later in the day, Josiah was looking for a very specific ball. I suggested that we look where it was supposed to be - the ball bucket. Now, the ball bucket sits in Josiah's room, right next to the dresser that the aquarium sits on. We dumped out all of the balls and began sorting through them, looking for Josiah's ball...and found Snappy! Not only was he in the ball bucket, but he was alive! Apparently he found a way to crawl out of the aquarium. And apparently he can live on both land and water!

I immediately scooped him up into a bowl and called Bret, but it took me forever to explain to him what had happened - I was literally speechless. We laughed and laughed and laughed...and then googled Fiddler Crabs. We learned a lot - fiddler crabs can live in both water and on the land. And pet stores often sell them as merely water creatures. And fiddler crab owners often find themselves frustrated because the crabs start getting desperate for a little air and then find a way out.


We ended up sticking Snappy back into the water, closing up the place we thought he got out of, and ran to Walmart. Now Snappy has a separate aquarium (the original smaller one), shallower water, a little tiki guy that he can crawl on...and a friend named Crabby. :)

Good grief. We'll see if we got it right this time...
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Conner's in the Newspaper!

Wowee zowee, Conner was in the newspaper today!!! There is a picture and an article about him and his Reading Bee accomplishments!

"When 8-year-old Conner Wells found out his great-grandfather had high blood pressure, he went straight to his second grade teacher, Cindy Joy, to learn everything he could about it.

"He always comes up to me and asks, 'Mrs. Joy, can I take this book home?'" Joy said. "He's taken everything home, including a medical dictionary.

The Stribling Elementary School student is a big reader. He was named the Burleson ISD's Reading Bee runner-up after he and nine other second-graders participated in the district Reading Bee competition. Part of the No Child Left Behind initiative, the competition is held at the district level across Texas. Conner represented Stribling as he read three passages for two judges Oct 17-18.

"I was kind of nervous because I've never been in front of judges," Conner said.

To practice for the competition, Conner was given stories to read as homework.

"Mrs. Joy sent me a ginormous book of stories to get ready for [the Reading Bee]," Conner said. "I read mostly sixth grade stories."

Conner was grinning from ear to ear when he found out about being the runner-up, Conner's father, Bret, said. He never expected to go this far in the competition, but his love for books is apparent, Bret said.

"I love reading," Conner said. "It's one of my favorite activities."

His favorite books include "39 Clues" and "Magic Tree House," and he recently finished a book about Mark Twain.

Conner knows exactly how many Accelerated Reading Program points he has - 55.4 as of Thursday. He has been a self-taught reader since he was 4, and takes after his father.

"I'm the book nerd," Bret said. "I sort of did the same thing when I was a kid."

Joy said she's never had to worry about keeping Conner busy.

"He's always got a book in his hand," she said.

Joy also describes Conner as a humble, curious kid. And an all-around learner.

"Conner really likes learning things," Joy said. "From sports to animals, he's always carrying around a sports encyclopedia or an animal encyclopedia."

Bret and his wife, Rachel, a preschool teacher, have already noticed some quirks about their son.

"He's a hugger, we've already learned," he said. "He's very confident, somewhat extroverted, which is an interesting combinations, to be bookish and extroverted."

When he's not reading, Conner is usually playing with his two younger brothers, 6-year-old Micah and 3-year-old Josiah.

"They really like to play karate with me," he said."

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Regional Reading Bee

A few weeks ago, Conner came home from school with a permission slip for us to sign. It said that he qualified to represent Stribling at the district Reading Bee in a couple of weeks. What? Were you in some kind of a contest? Did you win something? What's a Reading Bee? Conner, what IS this? And of course, he didn't know. ;)

So we read some more, asked some questions, did some research, and finally learned that it's a special thing for 2nd graders in Texas. Not all schools participate, but some do - and this was Burleson ISD's first year. A Reading Bee is a competition in which each child reads a passage in front of judges, and is scored on accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. They keep reading passages on higher and higher reading levels until there is a clear winner. Each school has a Reading Bee (in Stribling's case they just took the child with the highest reading test scores), each of those winners competes in a District Reading Bee, and then the district champion gets to go on to compete at the Regional Level. Very cool. Yes, of course you can do this, Conner! We're so proud of you!

Conner was later awarded a medal for being Stribling Elementary's Champion. And Conner's teacher sent home a book full of passages for him to practice reading. We tried to practice for a little while every night. Then on the night before the district competition, we had our own little practice Reading Bee. Micah, Josiah, BooBoo, and I were the judges. Conner read two passages to us, and did a fantastic job. On a scale of 1 to 10, Judge Micah even gave him a score of 5000! :)

We anxiously awaited news of the results. And we were thrilled to hear that Conner was the Runner-Up! Of all the 2nd graders in Burleson, he was one of the top two readers! His job would be an important one - he would need to continue to practice for a couple of weeks in case something happened and the District Champion was not able to represent Burleson at the Regional Competition. (During those weeks we had some important talks about why we really didn't need to be praying for the other kid to be sick... ;)

Finally, today was the day. And the phone never rang...which meant that all was well with the other kid. But Conner was still so anxious and excited, we asked if we could please come and at least watch the opening ceremonies, even though he wouldn't get to read. If nothing else, maybe we could take a little tour of the TCU campus (where it was being held) and make a morning of it.

Conner did get to meet Clifford...

...and after shedding a few tears when the opening ceremonies were finally over, we set out to walk around TCU. The boys can't wait to go to college - their daddy has informed them that college is all about playing soccer in the halls and taking whatever classes you want to. And since there really wasn't a good photo op at the Reading Bee, we decided to take a few at the Student Center.

Oh my Conner Bug. We are so, so, so very proud of you! We love you and enjoy all of the adventures you take us on. Keep on learning and reading, little man. We can't wait to see where we'll go next!
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cub Scouts at the Fire Station

Tonight Conner's Cub Scout pack was learning about community helpers, so we got to go to a fire house! (And no, these pictures aren't the best - I forgot my camera and was thrilled that I at least had my phone...) We have been to the fire house before, and even got to help wash the fire trucks. But this time we got to watch as they raised the big ladder all the way up in the air. Very cool.

Then the kids actually got to go into the backseat of the firetruck - in one door, all the way through and out the other!

The firemen also talked to the boys about fire safety, and what all they actually do. Thank you, BFD for all that you do to help our community!

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