Thursday, March 22, 2018

Fun math

I love when teachers can find the time to make learning fun. They have so much to do with testing and paperwork and trying to discipline kids without actually being able to discipline kids that I'm always impressed when they're able to get creative.

Biscuit is learning about fractions in his math class. And what better way to think about fractions than with slices of pizza!

Each student was to create a paper pizza with at least four toppings on several different slices. Then they had to figure out the fraction for each slice.

Since Biscuit likes his pizza with either just cheese or cheese and pepperoni, he decided he would make a candy pizza. I've mentioned before that my boy isn't very artistic, so I tried to make it as easy as possible for him. I figured the math part was more important than the artistic expression.

He said he wanted a cookie crust with chocolate sauce and candy toppings. I helped him come up with toppings that would be easy to cut up. We used a hole puncher for sprinkles, construction paper squares for Starburst, rolled up brown construction paper for Tootsie Rolls and a shape punch with toothpicks for lollipops.

And just to make it even better, we stopped by a pizza place near our house and asked them if we could buy an empty box. The guy behind the counter said he wouldn't charge us for the box, but if a dollar ended up in the tip jar, he wouldn't be offended.

Here's Biscuit's pizza:

Whoever invented the glue stick was a genius! It's SO much neater than a squirt bottle of glue.

The fractions were: 
Lollipops - 8/8 because there were 8 lollipops on 8 slices
Starburst - 3/4 because there were 3 Starburst on 4 slices
And so on.

He got an A+, so I guess his teacher thought it was a pretty good pizza project.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Welcome home Spy Dad

Jeff's flight back home was going to get to our airport at 11:38 p.m. Saturday night. And Biscuit was overjoyed that 1. he was going to the airport, and 2. it was going to be dang-near midnight when we got there.

The airport is literally 7 minutes from our house - door-to-door.

I helped him make a welcome home sign. My boy is super smart, but the child is not artistic at all. Bless his heart.

Biscuit had a birthday party that afternoon. The weather was really nice, so all the boys played outside. And they ran and ran and ran. I was worried that he was going to be wiped out by 11:38 p.m. I asked him if he wanted to take a nap, but he said no.

I shouldn't have worried. He was so excited to get to the airport and get Jeff that he was completely wired from the time we left the house.

He had a whole story line worked out.

"Okay, Mom," he said. "We're both spies, and we have to be really sneaky when we go to the airport. We don't know which people are really coming to pick people up or if they're bad guys who will try to ruin our mission."

"What is our mission?" I asked him.

"We have to rendezvous with the asset," he said. "And everybody will think this is a welcome home sign but really, it's encoded with a secret message."

"What does the secret message say?" I asked him.

"We don't know," he said. "It's just for the asset. You know, for Spy Dad."

I was impressed with the imagination of his plan.

The welcome home sign with the secret encoded message.

Asset secured.

Jeff had a little bit of extra time one evening, so he wandered around the downtown area of Boise. He said it was a nice town, and that you can definitely tell it's a college town.

He went into a bookstore and wandered around. He came across a stuff animal of the main character in a book series Biscuit loves. So of course he had to bring it home.

He put it on top of his clothes in his suitcase. When he and Biscuit pulled his suitcase off the conveyor at baggage claim, he told Biscuit to lay it down and open it for a surprise.

Jeff was only gone five days, but it felt like a month! Biscuit and I are both glad he's back!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

See ya, Dad

Our local college sports teams have been doing really well this year. And that means that Jeff has been traveling a good bit.

We're always torn between being happy for the teams but sad that Jeff has to go away.

Tuesday afternoon, Biscuit and I put him on a plane to Boise, Idaho, for the first round of the basketball tournament. None of us were terribly happy about it, but we got to the airport in time to hang out for a little while together.

Nowadays, you barely walk into the airport, and you have to say your goodbyes. You can't walk with your loved ones to the gate. Biscuit didn't like that part.

After Jeff left us and started through security, Biscuit and I went to a little cafe where you can see the runway. Biscuit said we had to stay until we saw Jeff's plane take off.

Biscuit was getting impatient, and he was a bit sad, too. So we got some snacks, found a booth right at the window and waited.

And took funny pictures.

Time for Biscuit's weekly piano lesson was drawing near, so I told him that if we didn't see Jeff's plane take off by 5 p.m., we had to leave anyway.

I guess I just needed to say it out loud because right after that, Jeff's plane came roaring down the runway.

Well, I say roaring, but as loud as those planes are, we couldn't hear a thing inside the cafe.

As soon as the plane was out of sight, Biscuit and I high-tailed it out of the airport to get to his piano lesson. We made it with five minutes to spare. Biscuit has another piano competition next weekend, so we definitely didn't need to miss his lesson.

It took Biscuit a few minutes to settle down enough to listen, but once he got focused, he had a good lesson.

We went out to dinner as usual, and I invited one of our friends to meet us there. Biscuit seemed to enjoy having a distraction from being sad about Jeff's leaving.

We make it just fine when Jeff is gone, but we definitely like it better when he's with us.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Two out of three

I bet if you were to go back to every March since I've been writing this blog, you'd see posts about the fact that I hate basketball.

I don't hate the actual sport. I just hate that it takes Jeff away from Biscuit and me so much early in each year.

Last weekend, he was in Asheville, N.C. This weekend, he was in Norfolk, Va. And this week, he'll be going to Boise, Idaho. And as tournaments go, if the team wins the game on Thursday, they'll have to play again Saturday. But they have a media day Wednesday, which means he flies out on Tuesday.

I hate to root against the home teams here, but as soon as they lose, Jeff gets to come home.

In the meantime ...

One of the tae kwon do studios in town had a deal with Biscuit's school this past week. They came and gave them an hour of lessons each day, then they had a graduation ceremony Saturday. The whole week was $20, and we found out at the graduation event that the studio had donated the money to the school for new P.E. equipment. It ended up being a $2,500 donation.

I guess they make their money when kids get the bug and want to start taking lessons.

Biscuit enjoyed it, although he isn't the most athletic of kids! I'm not sure if he'll want to try it out or not. He'll be playing baseball soon, so we don't want to get him too scheduled.

Part of the graduation ceremony was board breaking. Biscuit's birthday was at a tae kwon do studio this year (I'll have to retro post some photos), and they broke boards with their hands. At this event, they broke boards with their feet.

The woman who has working with Biscuit in the video below is the master trainer at this particular studio. She's from Korea and took lessons from the time she was a kid.

I really liked her body language when she was letting Biscuit know he wasn't showing enough energy!

Check him out:

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A musical world

The third grade had a musical tonight about how no matter what country your from, music is a universal language.

They sang songs from different countries and in different languages. It was really a cute program. 

We had to replace my camera late last summer, and Jeff hasn't played with it a whole lot. So he was getting all creative with the program for the program.

The songs the kids sang.

Biscuit's class.

Biscuit was sort of hidden, so I didn't get any great photos of him in the crowd.

They encouraged the kids to dress up in clothes representing other countries. I wasn't feeling that creative, so Biscuit had on an American flag T-shirt. He was representing the country he came from.

Here are snippets from a couple of the songs.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Hard lesson learned

Biscuit had a piano competition this afternoon. Well, they don't call it a competition. They call it a piano festival. But it's a competition.

Remember the videos I posted earlier this week? Those are the two songs he played.

The competition is at one of the colleges here. The kids are on Spring Break, so the festival takes over part of the music building.

The way it works is that we get a time slot ahead of time. Biscuit was supposed to play at 3:18 p.m. Not 3:17 or 3:19, mind you, but 3:18.

We arrived and got him signed in. There are things you have to do like write down the names of the songs you'll play and the composers. You also have to number the measures of the songs. So when the judges are writing their critiques, they can say, "The tempo should be slower at Measure 17" or other things like that.

So they told us which room Biscuit would be in, and we headed down the hall.

We got to the room at 3:10, and the monitor (the person who checks you off the list and tells you when to go in) asked Biscuit's name.

He told her, and she said, "Okay, we're ready for you now. You're the last student for the day."

They were ready for us, but we weren't ready for them. Biscuit was still wearing his jacket, and we didn't have his books open to the songs, so it was a bit of a mess.

They almost always run late, so we were counting on Biscuit having at least 10 minutes to chill before he had to go in and play.

He walked in and said he did a quick warm-up to get the feel of the piano. Then played his songs. The rooms are sound-proof offices, so once he's in there, we can't hear a thing. He was back in the hallway in about 5 minutes. Literally.

A few minutes went by, and the judge came out and handed his score sheet and books to the monitor. The monitor handed them to us, and we looked down for his score.

He got an excellent-plus.

Now, most people would be excited about that. The top score is superior, and excellent is the next score down. Essentially, getting an excellent-plus is like getting a B-plus in school. But as long as Biscuit has been doing these things, he has only gotten superior scores.

I was prepared for him to score less than usual. The songs he played are challenging for someone of his skill level. For example, the last chord of one of the songs requires him to reach a full octave. That's eight piano keys with his little hands. I can reach 10 with my grown-up hands. He also wasn't as comfortable with the songs as he usually is. 

I was also worried about how quickly they took him in the room, right after he had run all the way from the parking deck to the music building, then up a flight of stairs, then walked down a long hallway. I guess maybe I should've asked for a couple of minutes for him to chill out. I don't think it would've changed his score, but he might have felt calmer.

I texted his teacher and asked where he was. We were on the left hall, and he was on the right hall. I could tell by the look on Biscuit's face that he was about to cry.

Jeff and I always tell him that we don't care what his score is. And we mean it. For us, it's more important that he puts in the work and does the best he can do. And we always tell him that we'll take him for a treat no matter what his score it. And we mean that, too.

We met up with his teacher. He read the comments, and he wasn't pleased. He said, "She's just a tough, tough judge."

Here's the thing, because I'm his mama, and I want him to be happy all the time, I want to say, "They called you in too early. She was too tough. You didn't have time to calm down before you played."

But ultimately, I think not getting a superior is kind of a good lesson. 

He has a month before his next competition, and I think the lower score at this one will make him work harder for that one.

We left the university and headed to the treat place he requested.

Along the way, he was kind of snippy with Jeff and me, and as we were coming out of the bakery, I dropped the box with my leftover cake in it. (The box didn't open, thank goodness!) But Biscuit made a really smart aleck remark about it and laughed.

This was not typical Biscuit behavior, so once we got in the car, I asked him, "What's up, dude?"

"What do you  mean?" he asked.

I told him he was being rude and pretty mean, and that those behaviors weren't really like him.

We finally talked it out enough to find out that he was a lot more disappointed than he was letting on. And he was taking it out on Jeff and me.

He felt bad and apologized, and I explain to him that it's hard to figure out your feelings.

"Sometimes when I'm in a bad mood, I'll say something mean to Dad, when he has nothing to do with why my mood is bad," I told him. "The thing is, though, you need to figure out why you're feeling what you're feeling so you won't take things out on the wrong people."

"Or if you do take it out on the wrong people, you should apologize, right?" Biscuit asked.

"Exactly," I told him.

He's got a month to get ready for the next one, so we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Out of the mouth of my babe

A few things Biscuit has said recently:

Tough tunes: Biscuit is practicing two songs to play at a couple of upcoming piano competitions. And as it should be, his songs are getting harder as he goes along.

He's working out of one of my old piano books right now — one that I played from when I had been taking lessons about a year and a half longer than he's been taking!

He played one of the songs really well the other day, and I told him so.

He pretended to be breathing hard.

"What's wrong?" I asked him.

"My fingers really got a workout on that one," he said.

Good morning: Biscuit is somewhat of a morning person. Even if he hasn't had enough sleep, he's usually pretty good in the morning.

I asked him recently, "How do you wake up in such a good mood every morning?"

Ever the explainer, Biscuit said, "Well, Mom, I use all my senses."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well," he said, "I open my eyes and look around. Then I listen to see if it's raining or if I can hear birds. Then I use my sense of touch while I stretch, stretch, stretch. Then I brush my teeth and get the nasty taste out of my mouth. And when I go downstairs, I can smell whatever you're making me for breakfast. And then I use my taste again to eat my breakfast."

"That's a really good way to go about it," I said.

"It works for me," he said.

Animal learning: Biscuit loves animal books. And after he reads them, he has to tell us all about what he read. And he remembers it all!

He recently read a book about sea life, and of course, he told me that I needed to hear all about it.

"Mom," he said, "whale sharks suck." 

"They what?" I said to him.

"No," he said, "I don’t mean the figurative kind of suck. You know, the bad one. I mean they literally suck. They suck fish into their mouths. Those fish are propelled into the whale sharks' mouth. How cool is that?!"

"Pretty cool, dude," I said. "Pretty cool."