First day of school, 2014 edition.

The kids are bus riders to and from their new school, so this morning we walked to their bus stop. We therefore got to meet all those neighbors with kids in elementary school who share that stop, and who we’d not yet met since moving into the neighborhood.

The girls have actually been excited about the new school year for a couple of weeks now. I know, I know…that’ll get crushed out of them in due course, but for now? I’m rolling with it.

addy-erin-1stSchoolDay2014

 

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Black belts x 2!

Those of you who remember my occasional comments about my daughters know that they both practice Taekwondo, and have been doing so for a handful of years. Addy started just before she turned 3, and Erin was about the same age when she started. Last December, not long after turning 6, Addy earned her first degree black belt, and today, a few months shy of her own sixth birthday, Erin joined her. I need to double-check with the school, but it’s very possible Erin is their youngest student to reach that rank.

Addy also earned a mid-term star for her own belt today, as she’s still working toward earning second degree status and probably won’t be ready to promote to that rank for at least another year.

See, this is why I’m not going to be too worried when they start dating. By the time that becomes a thing, both girls will be able to kick the ass of anyone messing with them. I’m just going to make some popcorn, sit back, watch the carnage unfold, and maybe offer constructive critiques after the bodies are buried. Parents of sons hoping to date my daughters: They better behave themselves. You have been warned.

Also? I’m working to establish Princess Ninja Assassins, Inc. I figure I can have their college tuitions taken care of by the time they’re in middle school.

Of course, the big plus here is that now that they’ll once again be in the same class, Taekwondo will only be on our evening schedule two nights a week, instead of four. Huzzah!

WE ARE IN A BOOK! makes my kids laugh. Me, too.

This should come as a shock to no one, but my kids like books.

Yes, my wife and I pushed the book thing pretty hard from very early on. Even before our first daughter was born, I was prepping for the day when we would be reading to our offspring. I was stocking up on all sorts of story books, ones with lots of pictures for when she might just sit on the floor and flip pages, to books we could read aloud while she sat in our lap.

For those keeping score, I absolutely made sure to acquire a brand-spankin’ new copy of Where the Wild Things Are, and also How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Indeed, on a trip to Washington, D.C. the summer before my oldest was born, I was in the gift shop at the National Air and Space Museum, and that seemed like a good time to pick up another Dr. Seuss title, There’s No Place Like Space!, as well as Curious George and the Rocket.

Hey, I like to be ready for any situation, you know.

Of course, there was no avoiding certain other interests of mine from bleeding into my role as a new daddy. For example:

addytrek2

What can I say?

Anyway, the kids have continued to enjoy books pretty much from the jump. Both enjoy reading (Addy does very well for a first grader, and Erin in Kindergarten is coming along, too), and trips to the library and the book store are a regular occurrence. Addy always exceeds her “monthly reading minutes” quota for class, and Erin is hitting her “ten books a month” within the first few days and is always wanting to impress her teacher by filling out the back of that paper with even more titles.

Me. Proud Papa.

Toward the end of the last school year, Addy came home from Kindergarten with a book she had won as part of some kind of contest. At first glance it appeared to be a typical book aimed at preschoolers and up, but the first time I read it, I decided that it’s definitely one of the funniest children’s books I’ve come across. I simply could not stop laughing…not so much at the book itself but in the way you just have to read it when you read it out loud, and the reaction from the kids listening to you read it.

What is this mysterious tome? I’m glad you asked:

WeAreInABook

Mo Willems’ We Are In A Book! is a whimsically “self-aware” little tale featuring two of the authors’ popular characters, Elephant and Piggie, who begin the book by hanging out doing nothing, only to realize that they are being watched.

They are being watched by….you. The Reader!

Now armed with this knowledge, Elephant and Piggie begin to “make” the Reader do stuff: Say words they find funny, turn pages to find more funny things and so on. Then things go full-tilt meta as the characters realize that the book will soon end. Worse? They know on exactly what page the book will end!

WeAreInABook-Page48

Ermahgerd.

The book is humorous enough all on its own, but the effect is amplified when you read it out loud to an attentive audience–in my case, a 7 and 5-year old girl, and (though she tries to pretend she’s not listening) their mother. You can’t help but “act out” the dialogue in a book like this, which of course just makes the kids laugh that much harder, and since I’m a sucker for trying to make people laugh, I think we all know at this point that there’s no escaping this for me.

We Are In A Book! was a New York Times Bestseller when it was released in 2010, and was selected in 2011 as a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. It’s one of my kids’ favorite books to read and reread on their own and it was because of a recent request for me to read it aloud to them (with all the flair I could bring to bear, for those of you who needed an unnecessary rhyme, just then) that I had it on my mind today. Such are the perils of parenthood.

Anyway, if you’re the parent of a youngling to whom you read, or who is just starting out learning to read, you may want to give We Are In A Book! a look-see. Be sure to check out Mo Willems’ other offerings, because the dude definitely has it going on.

Kid pics. Because.

Been a while since I gloated about the kids. They’ve been in school for a week now, Addy to 1st grade and Erin to Kindergarten, and both seem to be enjoying their teachers, catching up with friends and making new friends. I’ll admit I was a bit worried about Erin at first, as she was entering a wholly new environment and without any of her friends from pre-school. My concerns were misplaced, as in the finest Ward fashion she has taken to the new routine and is already kicking butt and taking names.

(Side note: Erin also promoted earlier this evening at Taekwondo, where she earned her “red-black” belt. This means she’s been recommended by her instructors to train for eventual testing and promotion to black belt. Suh-weet. It’ll be nice having two ninja assassins living at my beck and call. One’s usually sufficient, but I think we all can agree that having a second one can definitely come in handy.)

Anyway, back to school. Here’s the pics I took on Day 1:

Addy-FirstDay   Erin-FirstDay

Yes, I’ll get back to talking about Star Trek, bacon, porn and other inane topics in due course, but I warned you at the beginning that the occasional #ProudPapa moments would be the price you pay to hang out here for any appreciable length of time.

Introducing….The Graduate!

Five down. Thirteen to go.

For those wondering what the fuss is about “graduating” pre-school, I guess I should clarify: Rather than regular ol’ daycare, we enrolled her (and her sister before her) in a Montessori early learning school. It was more like traditional daycare when they were babies, of course, but even by the time kids become “mobile infants” their teachers start introducing them to various learning techniques and concepts. By the time the girls were 2 and 3 years old, they were starting to learn in a variety of areas, and of course there also was the socialization aspect of being around their peers.

The development process has been, in a word, staggering. Having already seen the fruits of all that early work paying off with her older sister this past year as she moved from the Montessori school to Kindergarten, I’m confident the transition will be just as successful with the coming school year.

But for now, we celebrate. 🙂

Happy GeekDaddy Day…to me!

Because it’s Father’s Day, here are some of my favorite “GeekDaddy” pics with the girls.

November 2006. Addy’s 2 months old, and already doomed:

June 2008. There’s a new kid on the block, so now I can delegate the indoctrination process….

August 2008, and still one of my all-time faves:

August 2010. It’s not all Star Trek here at the Manor. I mean, I have a rather extensive library….

January 2011. Not a GeekDaddy Moment per se, but we were at Disney World. Does that count? Besides, I love her smile in this one.

January 2011. Superman and his not-so super friends!

November 2011. Spuds: the Final Frontier!

More to come, undoubtedly…..