Tennies Annual Report: 2013

Tales of a Kindergartener's Nothing

Five-and-a-half year old Chloe started Kindergarten this fall, so she is in school full time. She really likes her teacher and classmates, and she enjoys seeing some of her other friends at lunch and recess. The family love getting the after-school recap, although some days we are already getting "I don't remember" or "nothing" as an answer to "What did you do at school today?" Anne and Adrian helped in Chloe's class, which gives a glimpse into Chloe's day. Chloe's favorite class is art, but she also really enjoys music and gym.

She is reading very fluently, which means we have to work harder to keep secrets. We can't even spell messages to each other without her figuring them out. (Pig Latin still works, though!)

This fall she took a six-week ballet class, and there will most likely be more classes in her future. (If you need a big smile, ask her to do a "sassy turn" that she learned in the jazz portion of her class.

Chloe's also a Daisy Girl Scout, and gets very excited for meeting days. Thus far she has walked in the UW-P Homecoming Parade, sold some sweets and started learning the qualities of a scout. In the next weeks, she will be caroling at a nursing home and she and I are going to see the Thumbelina ballet with her troop, complete with a back-stage tour! She has two loose teeth right now, and we think one might come out before Christmas.

The Help

Anne still loves being home with the kids, although it is a bit more stressful with Joe out of town so often. She has a regular babysitter, so she can play volleyball on Wednesday nights, which helps her sanity. She is also starting to get better, although sometimes her instinct is still to duck out of the way of the ball!

With Chloe in school and Adrian old enough to need a little less vigilant supervision, she is able to get more work done around the house. She did a lot of the finishing work on the bathroom, and discovered the importance of wearing a mask when sanding drywall.

She still make cakes on the side, and she has been adding to her repertoire of gluten-free cakes to meet the increased demand. She has been serving on the City Museum Board for four years, and when that term finished this summer, she was asked to join the Gallery Board, so she is meeting new people and learning about a different part of the community. She got to help hang some paintings for one of the exhibits, and the kids like going to see what is new. Most of her volunteer work is with Family Connections right now, the group that coordinates the playgroups we have enjoyed since Chloe was a baby. Among other things, she helped plan a Masquerade Ball fundraiser!

She is becoming active in a women's philanthropic group. She also recently rejoined a block-of-the-month club at a local quilt shop after a four year break, and is happy to sew regularly again.

The Odyssey

Although he still works for Esterline-AVISTA in Platteville, Joe has been working at a customer site in Rockford since September. Apparently the work on the 787 will never end, though it is for the pilot trainer this time. He has been able to come home most weekends, and made it back mid-week to go trick-or-treating. He is also starting a project in Connecticut, so he may be headed that way again soon.

Joe spent much of the summer enjoying his new hybrid road bike. He took it out on the local trails and brought the local neighborhood boys along. He also got a tag-a-long (a trailer that turns a bike into a tandem) for Chloe, and she loves going on adventures with him. He biked to and from work well into the fall, until he got exiled to Rockford. He did bring it to Rockford for a couple weeks, but biking weather seems to be over for a while. Also, the roads and drivers were not bike-friendly, especially as it is getting dark earlier, and Rockford is scary at night.

Joe has also been getting back into web programming. He has been playing with the Flask Python framework and boning up on his CSS and HTML. He even decided to do this report in HTML this year to work on his layout design.

The fish hobby that started last year is still strong. We are up to six fish tanks in the house, and he has a deal with a local pet shop to supply some fish and aquatic plants.

Hopefully next year's report will include more guitar and concerts for him.

A Boy and His Trucks

Adrian has definitely transitioned from toddler to pre-schooler. He is pretty coordinated (unless he is tired), and loves to help with whatever he can. He particularly likes helping in the kitchen, but if there is an opportunity to use tools to build or fix something, he is there.

He will be three in December, and he is excited to have some friends over for a small party. He has graduated from Baby and Toddler Storytime at the library, so he will be going to the Preschool Storytime sessions in 2014. (more stories - more plots! - and fewer songs). He is also one of the big kids at our playgroups, and he is usually pretty good about watching out for the little ones.

This fall he discovered how to turn on the CD player (and then an mp3 player), so our days have more dancing than ever. He has been grabbing the little guitar whenever Daddy starts playing. He has also been enjoying learning Chloe's school songs.

This year's obsession is construction. Over the summer we had to walk around the block to check on the diggers nearly every day to watch the progress of the road construction. His questions resulted in the whole family learning about excavators, loaders, graders, and more. He was a cement truck for Halloween, and requested an excavator on his birthday cake. (If anyone else has a little construction fan, look up Twenty Trucks and Truck Tunes on YouTube.)

All the Rest That's Fit to Print

The summer was filled with swimming lessons, park days, biking, lots of walking and lots of reading (Chloe logged nearly 300 books for the library's summer reading program!) Joe and Anne went to American Players Theater and saw the comedy "Too Many Husbands." They were also on a winning team for a trivia contest, mostly because of a last-minute walk-in who joined the team! In August we took a mini-vacation in the Dells and then a week-long family road-trip to Steamboat Springs, CO. We vacationed with Joe's family and met our new niece, Violet, who was just one month old at the time! We are sure we'll be making more trips west in the coming years, because Joe's parents just moved to Denver. It'll be hard having them so far away.

Our big house project this year was adding a half-bath upstairs. We started in March, and it has been functional for a few weeks, though it still needs a mirror and some trim installed. It has really been wonderful having it, and I feel much better knowing that the kids don't have to stagger down the stairs half-asleep if they need to go in the middle of the night.