Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Update on the girls

First week of school went well. The girls are happy with their new teachers and are starting to make some new friends. The making friends part is taking a little longer than I had hoped since there's not much social time during the school day. The girls have 30 minutes of recess a day, not a lot considering they go to school from 8 AM to 3 PM every day. And those 30 minutes of recess includes walking in line to get in and out from the classroom etc.
This year Maddie has 2 teachers. One homeroom teacher and one for math and science which means they get to switch classrooms during the day. Both of them seem very nice. Lily's teacher seems wonderful as well.
They both have a lot more homework this year. Both have 10 minutes of reading each day (this will increase as the year goes on), 10 minutes of practicing math facts a day using flash cards, weekly spelling homework (pretest on Monday and final test on Friday) - Lily's spelling homework includes a daily practice activity, math homework comes home on Tuesday and is due by Thursday (they haven't started sending this home yet) and I'm sure Maddie will have some random homework in addition to this. A lot for a 7 and 9 year old but they're not complaining too much, they don't know any different.

A new ice skating session started this Saturday. Maddie has advanced from Basic skating to freeskate which she is very excited about. This Saturday she was practicing Waltz jumps and backwards crossover so it's certainly getting a lot harder. Lily is still in the final class of Basic skating, she's always been a step behind Maddie since Maddie advanced quicker in the beginning, and is doing really well. I will try to get some video clips up soon.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The countdown has begun

Five more days until school starts for the girls! Maddie's going into 4th grade this year and Lily's starting 2nd grade. Summer went by too quickly this year. At the same time we're ready to get back into some routines. The girls are excited to start a new school and meet their teachers and new friends. On Friday we'll have "Meet the teacher night" at school where they will get their class list and find out what teachers they will have. Very exciting!

This year the girls will also attend the Swedish school we have in the area. They meet one afternoon a week and studies focus on the Swedish language (communicating, reading, writing etc) as well as history, geography and social studies. They will also celebrate Swedish holidays and traditions throughout the year. The girls were a little hesitant to more school when I first brought it up but after reading more about all the fun stuff they will get to do there they got all excited. Swedish school start the second week of September so they will have a few weeks to get adjusted to regular school before it starts.

They will be pretty busy this year as they plan to continue ice skating as well. They are getting into more advanced skating now that will require more practice outside of class so next year we're planning on having one practice day a week in addition to class on Saturdays.

The homework load is surely to be a lot bigger than it was last year for both of them but particularly for Maddie. None of us are looking forward to that.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Around Minneapolis

Minnesota is known as "The land of 10,000 lakes". Minnesota's shoreline from its lakes and rivers provide more shoreline than California, Florida and Hawaii combined. Pretty cool.
Minnesota reminds us a lot of Sweden in general and after visiting there, it has certainly moved up on our list of possible places to move to....down the road.
One of the lakes we visited was lake Harriett, located only minutes from downtown Minneapolis. A very nice area, great scenery and beautiful homes. People out walking, biking, running and swimming everywhere.
Another day we made a drive to the "suburbs" west of Minneapolis. Absolutely beautiful out there too. We looked at some homes just for fun. A little more expensive up there (ok, a lot) compared to Texas but really....anywhere we'd move would be more expensive than Texas.
We stopped by Lake Minnetonka in Wayzata, love that place!
Here's pictures....

Minneapolis skyline.

The gardens by Lake Harriett.

Lake Harriett

Lucas and Maddie. I love this one.

One of the beaches at Lake Harriett.






Lily working on a sand castle.

The boys decided to go all in.

The rest are from Lake Minnetonka at Wayzata....


Jakie holding a frog.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mall of America

The largest mall in the United States with over 520 stores, several dozen restaurants and an indoor amusement park in the middle of it all. Pretty impressive! We stayed at a hotel just a mile down the road from the mall so we ended up visiting on several occasions. The only shopping we did was at H&M, other than that they actually didn't have any stores to offer that we don't have here in Dallas (the shopping mecca) but it was fun to walk around and look.
Michael and the girls went to the amusement park one evening while I stayed at the hotel with Lucas and Jacob. The noise and the crowds around the rides overwhelmed the boys a little and considering they don't like riding the carousel at the mall at home we decided not to waste our money taking them on any rides. The girls, however, had a great time riding the rides with Michael. They even went on some bigger rides like one of the big roller coasters, the log chute and the swings.
On our last night we met up with an old friend of ours that happened to be in Minneapolis. Dan and Michael used to work for the same airline and now Dan works at Delta and commutes to Minneapolis from Salt Lake City. We hadn't seen him in years so it was great catching up.

The Lego store seen from above.

View of the amusement park from the food court.

Souvenir shop.

The following pics are courtesy of Michael's iphone....

Before the first roller coaster ride.....


and after! They went 2 more times after this.

Picture with Dan.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Downtown Minneapolis

On our first day in Minneapolis we took the train to Downtown. It was a fairly comfortable 84 degrees (29 celsius) and sunny. We walked around a little and then we had lunch outside at Chipotle.
It was a very nice and clean downtown, we liked it a lot.
Downtown Minneapolis has a very cool skyway system that allows you to walk between buildings and you can thereby get anywhere in the city without ever going outside. This is due to the extreme cold in the winter when they sometimes have such cold temperatures that it's not safe to be outside for any extended period of time.

The station where we got off the train.

The girls were fascinated by the underground vents.

Nicolette mall and a skyway bridge.

Lucas having a cookie while waiting for our lunch...the line was long at lunch rush.


After the downtown visit we took the train back to mall of America, a place we ended up visiting multiple times. More to follow....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Road trip 2010 begins

We left town Monday the 25th, after being delayed a day and a half due to Maddie coming down with a bad ear infection and Lucas getting his hand burnt on a light bulb just before taking off. Not a great start.
The first day we drove about 8 hours to Kansas City, taking us through Oklahoma and into Missouri.

Entering Missouri. These clouds quickly turned into a rain storm.

After the storm we saw this beautiful double rainbow, only one can be seen in this photo but there was a smaller one to the left.

The sky at sunset was amazing.

It was pretty late before we got to the hotel but the boys (and the girls) were still smiling.

We got an early start on day two since the boys decided to get up at 7am, despite the late night the day before. We had about 7 hours of driving to get to Minneapolis and we arrived around 5pm.

Des Moines, Iowa

We ate a picnic lunch in this beautiful park outside Des Moines downtown.

The boys love to collect leaves and rocks and they had a really good time playing here.

Lucas playing around.

Craziness as usual.

Throwing rocks into Grays Lake.

Entering Minnesota.

More to follow....