5 Dollars

My life as an at-home momma of 3 amazing kids...it's kind of like shoveling snow in a blizzard.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ballerina girl in motion!

Today was Ruby's final ballet class. Family are invited in to watch the final class. Ruby had quite a turn out today with Nanny, Pappy, Grandma Dollar and cousins Tyler and Mitchell attending. (Along with Kaylee and me, of course.)

I was super impressed with how well she did today and I really hope that she holds on to the knowledge during her summer break from ballet. She has learned all the French terms and knows what movement goes with the name and how many of them translate. (I wish I had taken more than one year of French because I really think I could fill her head with it right now!) She answered most of Miss Johanna's questions about the terms before the other girls could. (And she was the youngest in the class today!)

She seems to like the barre work a lot. She has always hurried to be at the front of the barre. Today, when Miss Johanna turned on the music and came back to start the barre work, the other girls were goofing off and Ruby was right in perfect position and ready to go. She got to be the first rosebud and also the line leader for their movement around the room.

I really enjoy watching her because not only does she love ballet, she is really good at it. I hope she sticks with it because she seems to have a real natural talent for it. I wish I could have signed her up for the summer session, but I just don't see how it would have worked with swimming class. Hopefully she'll retain what she has learned over the summer break. She'll probably start dancing again in about 2 months or so.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Splashing in the Sprinkler

Bubbles and more bubbles!

A fun and relaxing weekend

On Saturday afternoon we went to see Over the Hedge. The kids really enjoyed it. Matt and I really liked the scene towards the end of the movie where Hammy got caffeine.

On Sunday the kids spent a lot of time outside playing in their new sprinkler and blowing bubbles. I think our backyard was very well watered this weekend.

On Monday we mostly relaxed around the house. I helped the kids catch a few bugs in their new bug box. We kept a spider in there overnight to watch her and then let her free on Tuesday morning.

Friday, May 26, 2006

First Grade Awards Day

Keithen received awards today for his work in math and spelling. He got 100% on all of his spelling tests this year and also got most of the challenge words right.

Beautiful Ballerina

Next week is Ruby's last ballet class and then she'll take the summer off from dancing to learn to swim. I'm pretty sure she wants to take up ballet again after summer vacation. I've promised her she can get new ballet shoes before she starts another session of dance classes.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dragorex hogwartsia update - Never tickle a sleeping dragon

The Children's Museum of Indianpolis press photos

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis press release

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis - Dracorex index - Click on the top picture to view a video of the unveiling. You can also catch a brief glimpse of the girls and me behind Steve Saulsbury.



Discovery Channel

Living the Scientific Life

I loved this quote -
According to Bakker, "Honoring an author with a species name is rare. But it should be done more often. Art, literature and science are three ways of seeing reality and sharing our exploration of the world. From now on, anyone thinking about Bone-Head dinosaurs will cite the Type [Specimen] of Dracorex hogwartsia housed at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis."

Also significant -
Some scientists think the herbivorous pachycephalosaurs used their knobby heads to headbutt each other. However, since no complete neck bones from pachycephalosaurs had ever been found, conclusive evidence for headbutting was lacking. But in addition to this skull, preparators at the Children's Museum also pieced together four nearly complete neck vertebrae for Dracorex hogwartsia. They discovered that these vertebrae have special anti-twist joints and enlarged muscle attachments sites, suggesting that these dinosaurs did engage in violent head-banging contests.

Google & Yahoo Search Engine Buzz

(For those who don't get the title of this post - "Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus" is the Hogwarts motto and translated into English it means "Never tickle a sleeping dragon." )

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Soccer season is over already?!

Tonight was Keithen's final soccer game. He played really well. It's amazing how far he's come over the past two years. He had an assist tonight, several blocks and several saves as goalie. I'm really proud of him because he's starting to play hard and really think about what he's doing and work together with other players.

And now...it's time for the hardware! This makes 7 trophies all lined up on his shelf.

And here are the two soccer stars in their shirts with their trophies.

Primal scream moment

A big black hole has opened up somewhere in our house and swallowed Kaylee's glasses. Poor girl isn't going to be able to see much until we find them. I swear I saw them on her dresser last night. We're waiting on a call from her eye doctor sometime this week to let us know when her new lenses arrive. She's getting bifocals. Hopefully, when the optician calls we'll have found her glasses so she'll have a pair of frames to put the new lenses in!

I just *knew* I saw her glasses on her dresser last night. I looked everywhere that they could logically ended up from there and had no luck. As a last resort, I climbed up into Keithen's bed to look for Kaylee's glasses. He was very difficult to get out of bed today and was messing around with the Harry Potter Legos on his shelf before school. Guess where her glasses were? Up on his shelf in the little blue box where he keeps his Lego guys. Guess who's busted now?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dracorex hogwartsia

Dracorex hogwartsia, a member of the pachycephalosaur family, was unveiled at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis today.

The newly discovered creature is the first dinosaur to be named by a children's museum. The name comes from the Latin words draco (dragon), rex (king), and hogwartsia (recognizing author J.K. Rowling's use of dragons in the Harry Potter books).

"The word just sprung into my mind," said paleontologist Dr. Robert Bakker. "This is the dragon of the Hogwarts Academy -- Hogwartsia!" Dr. Bakker even quoted Hagrid during the unveiling. There was also a written statement from Rowling which was quoted before the dinosaur was revealed.

Author J.K. Rowling wrote: “The naming of Dracorex hogwartsia is easily the most unexpected honour to have come my way since the publication of the Harry Potter books! I am absolutely thrilled to think that Hogwarts has made a small (claw?) mark upon the fascinating world of dinosaurs. I happen to know more on the subject of paleontology than many might credit, because my eldest daughter was Utahraptor-obsessed and I am now living with a passionate Tyrannosaurus rex-lover, aged three. My credibility has soared within my science-loving family, and I am very much looking forward to reading Dr. Bakker’s paper describing ‘my’ dinosaur, which I can’t help visualizing as a slightly less pyromaniac Hungarian Horntail.”

The fossil was discovered by three friends in South Dakota. It took around 2 years for the museum's Paleo Prep Lab to clean and restore the skull. The Dracorex hogwartsia display is currently located on level 2, just outside the elevators. After this summer Dracorex will move to his new home in Dinosphere.

Dr. Bakker speaks at the unveiling.

Kaylee in front of the assembled skeleton. (They put the Dracorex hogwartsia skull onto another pachycephalosaur to complete the body.)

Kaylee in front of the case with the sculpture of what the head may have looked like and the real fossilized skull.

The artists model of the head and the real fossil.

This is what I *love* about The Children's Museum. They work so hard to make everything hands on for the kids. There were interpreters with plastic replicas of the skull walking around for the kids to touch and explore. This guy spent quite a long time talking to Kaylee about the fossils.

Here he is...the king of the dragons! Dracorex hogwartsia was an herbivore about the size of a horse.

Here is what the head might have looked like when Dracorex hogwartsia was alive.

Here are the girls in front of a huge Chinese dragon head that is part of the display.

WRTV6 - 'Dracorex Hogwartsia' Makes Indy Debut - http://www.theindychannel.com/news/9252008/detail.html#

(The girls and I can be seen in the background of the WRTV6 report a couple of times. Ruby is in the stroller and I'm in the pink shirt. Kaylee is hopping around in a pink dress with a white shirt under it.

Indystar.com - New skull is 'dragon' fans to Children's Museum - http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060522/LOCAL/605220436

Dracorex hogwartsia - http://www.childrensmuseum.org/dinosphere/draco_rex/index.html

(I've actually seen the girls on all three local news channels now, but evidently the noon and 6:00 stories are slightly different so they aren't all available online. Unfortunately, the two where you can really SEE them aren't online right now!)

Friday, May 19, 2006

The IMCPL summer reading program is starting soon!

The 2006 summer reading program, "Lost in a Book" will start June 5 and continues through July 29 at the IMCPL. We've been participating in this program for about 3 years now. The kids (and parents!) earn points for reading (or listening to) library books. The points can be exchanged for prizes including small toys, paperback books, pool passes and other coupons for free stuff.

Lazy Ramadi

Check out Lazy Ramadi - yet another spoof of the SNL Lazy Sunday video.

One of the guys in this video is the cousin of Anna B.

Indy Star article

What a busy week we've had!

Last weekend Ruby had soccer on Saturday morning and then we went out of town for Mother's Day. We visited with all the Salem relatives. We went out to eat with Nanny and Pappy on Saturday night and then went to Mamaw Betty's house on Sunday afternoon. Grandma and Grandpa Williams and the dogs were there to visit too. Keithen gave me a small flowerpot that he decorated at school and the kids had been out and bought some computer games for me. We got home a bit later than we hoped, but did get to see most of the West Wing series finale.

Monday the girls finally had their "birthday" portraits done a couple of months late. I had put them off to give Ruby's scar on her forhead some time to heal. Our JCP portrait club membership had expired and I renewed it online not long ago. I talked them into letting me have my 4 free sheets off the new card by showing them Ruby's head and explaining that I couldn't have her pictures done in February as usual due to the stitches she had in her head right before her birthday! Then we ate lunch at Chick-fil-a and played on the indoor playground for a while. I bought some summer clothes for the kids at JCP and we browsed around the Disney Store for a while. I used my Mother's Day cash from my mom to take advantage of the 5 for $25 sale Victoria's Secret was having on their pink line and to get a few smelly things from Bath and Body Works.

On Tuesday we went to the library for storytime and checked out some new books. We're looking forward to the summer reading program starting next month. I'll be glad to see Keithen get some more time for pleasure reading when school is out in 2 weeks. Over his 3 week spring break he went through quite a stack of books.

Ruby had ballet class on Wednesday and then we spent some time at the park playing and enjoying the sunshine. We've seen so little sun lately that we've had to take advantage of the few times it has peeked out from behind the rain clouds!

On Thursday we had to stop by school to pick up donations for Keithen's Grandparents Day party. We went grocery shopping, bought Matt's birthday present and cleaned house. Pappy showed up right after Keithen got home from school. We had a big dinner together and then Ruby and I went back to school for a volunteer recognition program. I was surprised to find out that I fell into the 25-50 hour group and got a certificate this year for my volunteer time in the classroom and with the bookfair and such. We had some yummy desserts while we were there too. The principal congratulated us on Keithen's acceptance into EXCEL and thanked me for all my work at the school. I told him we'd have a Kindergarten student next year, so he wasn't totally losing our family when Keithen changes schools.

Thursday night I was pretty ticked off at our cable company. The cable went out around 7:00 on finale night for Will & Grace and ER. We managed to get an antenna hooked up to the TV in time to see all but the first 10 minutes of ER. All I can say is...WOW...I can't wait to see what happens and how they wrap up all the cliffhangers.

Friday morning we went to the school for the Grandparents Day party. The children had all written stories for their grandparents and they also did some reader's theatre presentations. They all did a great job. They have come so far this year in so many ways. Keithen's handwriting is so much better than this time last year. He did a really nice job of speaking loudly and clearly in their reader's theatre performance too. There were a ton of grandparents and special older friends present...I'm not sure how we fit everyone in the classroom.

Pappy left after lunch and now the girls and playing and I'm decompressing from a busy week. I'm hoping Matt gets to finish the yard and we get to do our planting this weekend. Next week I'm taking Keithen out of school early one day to go visit his new school. I think he's excited about that. Right now I'm wishing *I* had time for a nap!

Ruby's first trophy

Ruby got her trophy, certificate and "unicorn" (uniform shirt) at her last soccer practice last weekend. She was very proud of herself and can't wait until fall to do it again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The sun came out today and the ground seems to be mostly dried out. The girls and I enjoyed the sunshine at the park after Ruby's ballet class today.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tuesday night soccer - played on a very muddy field!

Keithen got to play goalie in the third quarter. He had some pretty good saves.

Then, when blocking a shot, he wiped out in the mud. He stayed in there until the end of the quarter but was pretty upset about being all wet and muddy when he came out for a drink. He didn't want to play the fourth quarter after that. Once he had a drink and realized that everyone thought he did great and wiped out because he was playing hard, he went back in.

We should get him mad before every game. He was aggressive and after the ball when he went back in!

Some pictures of the post-game muddy mess.

Busy weekend

We're off to the library this morning. I promise to update on our busy weekend later. I have pictures of Ruby with her very first soccer trophy to share! Hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Internet Predators

I'm sure you've all see the Dateline NBC reports on internet predators by now. They set up sting operations where deputies pose as underage posters (often as young as 12 years old) in internet chatrooms in order to catch sex offenders.

I saw this headline - Man kills self after Internet meeting - on IndyStar.com today and of course the Dateline reports were the first thing that came to my mind. A Michigan man drove to the home of a 16 year old Lebanon, IN girl after meeting her on the internet. He then threatened to kill her and himself. She managed to call police and save herself, but the man shot and killed himself on her front porch. She's lucky to be alive.

Parents, please remember to monitor your children's internet activity. You never know what kind of dangerous wacko may be out there just waiting to prey on the innocent.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Evolution of Dance

This is too good not to share. Click the link above and make sure to turn up your sound. Talk about a trip down memory lane!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

USA has the second worst newborn death rate in the modern world

The United States consistently earns a low rank in studies about newborn babies’ survival. Among 33 industrialized nations, the United States is currently tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly 5 per 1,000 babies, according to a new report. The really disturbing news is that, among blacks in the USA, there are 9 deaths per 1,000 live births. This statistic is closer to the infant mortality rates in developing nations than to those in the industrialized world! The lack of any national health insurance and short maternity leaves (practically non-existent for some low income mothers) likely contribute to the poor U.S. rankings. Those factors can lead to poor health care before and during pregnancy (sometimes no prenatal care at all). This lack of adequate health care increases the risk of a premature birth and a low birth weight baby, which are the leading causes of newborn death in industrialized countries. Other factors that may contribute to the USA’s low ranking are teen pregnancies and obesity rates.

What can be done to help reverse this disturbing trend?

Some things that could improve in my opinion: more affordable prenatal care available for all expectant mothers, better access to licensed professional midwives for low-risk mothers, caregivers who spend more than 5 minutes in the room with the expectent mother answering questions and providing information, mentoring programs for expectant teen mothers, better follow-up in the post-partum period, availability of information about and access to birth control to prevent closely spaced or unplanned pregnancies and better breastfeeding education and support.

For more information -

Monday, May 08, 2006

Helping our children become fluent readers

The percentage of Indiana children reading at a "below basic" level has grown from 32 percent in 1992 to 36 percent in 2005. Apparently, we are still leaving many children behind when it comes to reading fluency in Indiana. Exactly what is a fluent reader and how can we, as parents, help our children grow into fluent readers? A fluent reader reads quickly, smoothly, and with expression. A fluent reader has a large store of sight words; automatically decodes unknown words, and self-corrects. There are many ways that we can help teach our children to be fluent readers.

Expose your children to a variety of literature…non-fiction, picture books, chapter books, poetry, folk tales, and fairy tails.

Read aloud not only to your child, but WITH your child. Offering your child opportunities to practice reading aloud can help improve fluency. Consider taking turns. The parent reads one page out loud and the child reads the next page. There are even some early reader books set up this way, with one page written for the parent to read and the next page written with easier words for the child. (Check out http://www.webothread.com for some great shared reading books.)

Providing oral support for readers by practicing paired reading with parent helps to avoid disrupting fluency. In paired reading, if the child falters, then the parent jumps in and helps.

Good fluency instruction includes learning about the rhythm and expression of our language. Model good oral reading to your child at least two times per week. Children must hear and understand what fluent reading sounds like in order to learn to be fluent readers. Once you have modeled fluent reading, ask your child what you did that good readers do to see if they can recognize what makes a good reader.

Echo read with child (you read the line and then they repeat it). This works well with short poems or nursery rhymes. Then the two of you can read the poem together.Reading new materials or re-reading familiar materials both help improve fluency. Repeated readings of the same materials will help children recognize high frequency words.
Encourage fluency through phrasing. Teach your child to recognize sight words and common phrases. Work on chunking stories into phrases, sentences and paragraphs. Use phrase flashcards to promote fluency. Take a short poem and break it up into parts then practice reading each phrase fluently.
Encourage your child to write. Provide them with paper and writing materials and encourage journaling or story writing. Help younger children put their stories down on paper and let them illustrate them.Continue to provide positive feedback and support as your child becomes a more fluent reader – parents, neighbors, siblings and teachers can listen to the child read out loud.

Some helpful websites for parents who are working to grow fluent readers:

Sight words - http://www.createdbyteachers.com/sightfreemain.html
and http://www.theschoolbell.com/Links/Dolch/Contents.html

Chunking -http://www.literacyconnections.com/Phonograms.html

Starfall – http://www.starfall.com/

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lynda's party

We celebrated new births, old friends and remembered those who have passed on this past year with a warm and wonderful gathering at Lynda's house. Many thanks to Lynda for inviting us!