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Gavin did well in the Geography Bee. He said he got two answers right and two wrong. I guess they had to miss two before they got out. The questions were on World Geography and not just US Geography. The Bee included students from 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. I wish his teacher would have given us some information to prepare. Given that he didn’t study anything I think he did great. Maybe he can do it again next year.

The 4th graders found out last minute that an author would be in town doing book signings. Parker was so excited to go. I was extremely wary. Earlier in the year his teacher sent home all sorts of information about an author coming to the school. She was going to talk about the writing process and then sign books. Parker pulled out the puppy dog eyes and we quickly gave in. Who wouldn’t want a book signed by the author? The activity sounded really cool.

One year Brad Wilcox came to the school I was teaching at. He talked about the writing process and how he came up with the idea for Hip Hip Hooray for Annie McCray. He also talked about the message of the book – that kids need to believe in themselves and not have their self-esteem wrapped up in others. It was a great assembly and the bonus was the teachers got an autographed copy of the book. My kids have grown up on that book and we all love it.

Parker’s love for reading is still fairly new so I wanted to encourage him by buying him a book the author could sign. A week or so after we sent in the money we received notice that the author was very ill and had canceled her visit. I must have sent in cash because I have no evidence of writing a check. The teacher said she would send the money back. She may have and she may not have. It’s cash! There isn’t much of a paper trail with cash.

So I wasn’t too eager to pay for another book signing. Bless Parker’s heart, he didn’t even expect me to pay. He already planned on earning the money. There wasn’t much time to sign the permission slip for the field trip to the high school and send in the money for a book. Parker wiped down blinds to earn the money.

The last minute planning should have made me feel better. It was less likely she would cancel like the other author. I still had my doubts. I also wasn’t too thrilled that the event would take place at the local high school and involve who knows how many 4th graders. What if it wasn’t just limited to 4th graders? Everything about it sounded like it was more trouble than it was worth.

Then the teacher emailed the parents explaining the rules for having your own copy signed by the author. Good heavens this activity was complicated. Apparently the author was scribbling her name in each book and that was it. The books would be sent to the schools later when she was finished. Actually, the books would be signed and the bookstore would distribute copies to the schools. Checks were supposed to be made out to the bookstore. That seemed strange too.

I may not have been on board with the field trip but Parker could not wait. He’s excited to get the book later. He claims he can read it in 30 minutes. Hopefully it was worth the $10 he earned cleaning blinds.

He loved the field trip. His class sat on the second row. Close enough he could smell her sweat. Only he didn’t say that! She signed a couple of books before she started her presentation. Parker is convinced he saw his friend’s book in that pile. How he knows that is beyond me. Maybe that friend already owned a copy of the book and sent it in to be signed.

She talked about her inspiration for her book The One and Only Ivan. That’s the book Parker ordered. It’s based on a true story about a gorilla named Ivan. She showed gorilla videos. Then she talked about other animals because a lot of her stories involve animals. Parker was star struck and can’t wait to get his book. We’ll see how long it takes. 

Gwen went to her friend’s birthday party on Saturday. She had a blast and I just need to start taking her to that dance studio for lessons. It’s just up the street from us and almost directly underneath our dentist. The location can’t be beat. The prices seem reasonable for this area. The first lesson is a free trial so there’s really nothing to lose.

The girls learned and performed a dance in the middle of the party. We were busy working on Parker’s pinewood derby car. That’s a whole other story. Based on what Gwen remembers of the dance there wasn’t much to it. But it was a birthday party and the girls needed time to be crazy, play games, and eat cake too.


This is what we came up with for a bookmark to go with the Junie B. Jones books Gwen was giving. I spent quite a lot of time on Friday trying to come up with a simple yet cool bookmark. I’m pretty proud of it.

The flower took the most time. I wanted a 3D flower of some kind made of paper. I found flower ideas on Cricut.com but no instructions. I thought that was pretty lame. Heath wanted me to buy cartridges to make the flower. But none of the cartridges had the type of flower I wanted. The flower ideas I liked supposedly came from random cartridges like a cupcake liner cartridge. I could have bought that but I thought it would be a waste of money if all I used was one font from it.

The lady’s flowers looked like they were heart shapes stacked together. So I tried some things with hearts. Then I found a simple flower shape that was free. I resized it several times and layered them all together with a cute brad in the middle. The results were what I was looking for. We used Gwen’s scrapbook paper for everything. She chose black and white polka dot paper for the card. It needed to be dressed up somehow so I gave her my first flower. I love it. I hope Lauren loves it too. 

Speaking of reading, I tutored this afternoon. I like tutoring and I don’t like it all at the same time. It’s hard for me to end my day an hour earlier because it’s all about me! I’m selfish that way. Today I managed to get most of my cleaning done before I had to go.

Lately we haven’t been able to get through as much material. Edward is a sweetheart but he is easily distracted. The last couple times have been very painful trying to get through the lessons. All the tutors have mentioned the same thing in their notes.

His Friday tutor said they couldn’t finish one lesson but he/she/it never bothered to say what page they stopped on. So I redid the entire lesson. We finished the lesson but the bell rang before he finished reading the “book.” Normally we get through two lessons and I send him back to class for the last ten minutes.

He loves to look at word patterns. He tells me which words rhyme or he points out the similar spellings of words. He’s on task while not focusing on the actual lesson at all. I love his thinking though. I love seeing him make connections all on his own. He is learning, just not the way the program expects him to.

The primary purpose of the tutors for this program, is to devote the one on one attention the teachers can’t give these students. While he’s not following directions as given or staying focused he is learning. In his own way. I tutor him two days a week. The least I can do is let him learn his own way. I just hope the program director never finds out.

If he wants to close his eyes while he visualizes the spelling of sight words, who am I to tell him he has to use his finger to point and that’s all there is to it! If he wants to dissect each word or count the number of times “th” shows up on the list, so be it.

When I pray about him I pray that we can work together so he can learn how to read. Reading is powerful. The world is opened up when one can read.