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Apple Hill 2018

When I started thinking about taking the kids back to Apple Hill, I was bummed to see that my Evernote with all my research from last year had been deleted. Then I remembered I did a blog post so that definitely helped set the agenda for this year.

Apple Hill is crazy on weekends pretty much from September to December so I was trying to figure out a time for us to go. They didn't have a Monday off in October, but they did have two Thursdays -- one for conferences, and one the day after Halloween.We headed up on Thursday and made it quickly, with a stop in Folsom to charge the car and have lunch at In n Out. Then we continued 20 miles more and started at Apple Ridge Farms.  The boys liked mining for gems, Coco liked throwing rocks. She also loved arranging all the Christmas decor in the gift shop with Dedee. The boys and I played hide and seek in the maze for a long time, Coco joined in at the end. They had a lot of fun and were a dusty mess.

Next, we went on to Mill View Farm, which I didn't even know about last year and hadn't been written up anywhere. I came across a mention of it in a review and while the farm itself didn't have much, they had an old town built out for kids to play in and the boys had a blast playing Cops and Robbers. There was even a pirate ship. George asked to go back the next day but we ran out of time.

The kids were starting to get cranky and by this point it was almost 4pm so we thought it was time to go check in the hotel. We got everyone up in the room with some popcorn from the lobby and then had some time in the pool (but mostly hot tub) while I went to pick up the pizza. It was about 6:45 by the time we got upstairs for showers and shows. It had been a big day and no one had napped in the car since we drive before noon, which I thought would work to our advantage having everyone in one room. I got C down fairly quickly in her travel crib by the bathroom and the boys watched shows for awhile but their pull out couch was uncomfortable and I ended up waking up multiple times - to take G to the bathroom, to separate them when they were fighting because someone was on their side, etc. So we survived just fine but I definitely didn't sleep well and I don't think the boys did either.

We woke up and the kids got to have breakfast at the buffet in the pjs -- homemade waffles, hot cocoa and whipped cream. Then we packed up and were at our first farm, High Hill, by 9:30. This is the main farm with lots to do, but most of it didn't open until 10am. We got a couple of donuts and walked around by the pond, then watched the ponies get hooked up for the pony rides. All three were excited to ride, but William really was most interested in fishing. We got two poles but G quickly lost interest so William and I kept trying. We quickly caught, and then lost, one big one, but while I was helping William, one started biting on my line. In the end, we caught 3 fish total but stopped there since you can't throw them back... you have to pay to have them cleaned and then you can choose if you take them or not. It was already close to $50 for the three so my mom took them home, we'll see how they turn out! We got apple cider milk shakes (so good!), before getting in the car and driving over to Delfino Farms.

This one was pretty quiet but had a really pretty view. William was into the corn maze but the others weren't, so we kept walking to see the farm animals, then headed back up for a treat in their bake shop. William got his first caramel apple!

For our last stop, we went to Rainbow Orchards as I had read they make their own corndogs, George's favorite. We got some for lunch, as well as a cinnamon sugar apple donut (the best we tried!) and then got everyone ready for the drive home. I stopped by one other place that is known for their pies and got a frozen one to take home, so we'll see how that one turns out in a few weeks.

We were really lucky and had very little traffic on the way home, especially for a Friday. We left about 1:30 and were home by 4:30 and all three kids slept until about 4:00. They were crazy and had tons of energy last night, but I think everyone needed a good rest so it was worth it.

George at 5 1/2

  • 54 pounds and 47 inches. George tells us that there are 3 kids taller than him (and they are taller by quite a bit!) and they're also close to a year older than he is.
  • Wears size 13 or 13.5 shoes, size 6 clothes. His feet are getting wider too so some shoes I had bought already he won't be able to wear at all as they're just too tight across. At least William will get them brand new!
  • Loves Theater Arts most at school
  • Likes listening to books and takes it all in, but does best when he's doing something else, like a puzzle, while listening
  • Has dropped down to only eating pomegranate seeds and raspberries (we lost grapefruit and cuties most recently)
  • Likes to do 'challenges' and is keen to make a chart if we talk about a problem we need to work on and ask him to come up with ideas on how to solve
  • Has warmed up slightly and is a little bit better at shaking the Head of School's hand each morning (though sort of rushes through it)
  • Hates losing (o when he thinks they lose at soccer)
  • His writing has improved so much even in just a few weeks of being in school
  • He's made so much progress on his 'sh-' sound. I still notice it when he says it right (which is all the time now). He pronunciation of everything has really improved and we continue to recognize how he did it by really concentrating on how he had to say it.
  • He's had a few potty issues since starting K. He's someone who has to go often, but yet doesn't want to miss out on anything and sometimes it's just too late. We're working with him on ideas on how to prevent any accidents from happening.
  • Even after a long day/week of school, George never 'crashes'. Sure, there are moments (probably daily) when his attitude or behavior is just screaming 'I'm tired and cranky!!!' but usually dinner turns things around and he gets a second wind. He's done better the last week or so but for a while there, he was coming up several times telling us he couldn't fall asleep and finally doing so around 9pm, yet still up before 7.
  • He's gotten much more into drawing lately and we've also seen the improvement there. It used to be that he thought it was William's thing since he does seem to be advanced in that area but then William started wanting to draw at nighttime and now it's become part of the routine. I read until 7:30, then they can draw in their beds/lights off until 8pm. George really got into it at this point.
  • George is good about cleaning up his quiet time toys  (and often does before quiet time is over and just waits, talking to himself, until I tell him it's over)
  • Though he knew how to 'pump', the first week of K, we were at the park and he kept bugging me to come push him. He knew William could get himself going and get really high but he wasn't able to do that. I went and talked to him, challenged him to pump and swing for two minutes and in the end, he ended up swinging for 20 minutes. He totally figured it out and was so happy. Now, he'll often run straight to the swings and swing by himself for 15 minutes or longer.
  • Math comes easily to George. Dave is great about doing verbal math problems and G is quick to figure them out. He won a 'Math Wars' card game at Bingo night and while disappointed initially (he thought he'd be able to choose his prize, he got assigned a number that was associated with a certain prize), we already played it and was able to figure most of them out.
  • Homework is optional at Town school for the first couple of years, and only a worksheet is sent home each Friday at this point. I set the worksheets out Saturday morning and sort of leave it up to them to do. George likes to do his immediately (just like I would've).
  • There was a day they were playing at the park after school and one of their classmates was there who has a much older brother. He was trying to get George to play a game with him and kept saying, 'well, it's only for 10 year olds. You can't tell anyone that you're playing' (and of course I'm sitting like 10 feet away and hearing all this). I could see George thinking about it and he eventually came over and told me about it and asked me what he should do. I asked him what he thought he should do, he said he didn't know, and then I rephrased and said, 'do you think you should be playing a game for 10 year olds when you're 5?' He said, 'no', and ran off to do something else. A few minutes later, I hear this same boy try to wrangle William in and William without missing a beat, immediately says 'yes'. I feel like that sums up so much of their personalities :)
  • While George is sort of sloppy naturally -- doesn't like to dry his hands, doesn't care if his shirt is on backwards or his shoes are on the right feet -- he's very photogenic and especially when taking professional photos, is able to sit still, do a nice pose and smile. I'm always so surprised by this ;)
  • While table manner and manners and in general are still a work in progress for G, he has made some really good progress here
  • He still put things in his mouth (shirt collar, backpack strap, etc.)
  • George loves Coco so much and tells us her daily that she's the 'sweetest person in our family'. He and William also agreed that she's 'the number one person in our family' :)
  • The coach at school has told me on two separate occasions that William and George are the most loving brothers he's seen in all his years at Town. Glad they're showing that love somewhere as it usually isn't at home!

Favorite color: gold and yellow and green
Favorite show: Lego shows
Favorite movie: Ninjago and Incredibles 2
Favorite food: cake and candy
Favorite toy: legos
Favorite animal: Lion and hippo
Favorite sport: soccer and running
Favorite class: Theater Arts
Least favorite class: Music and Writing Workshop ('because now I have to spell')
What do you want to be when you grow up? Construction worker
Favorite place to visit: New York
Favorite pizza place: Giorgio's

We had George's conference the other day and met with his Reading teacher as well as his two kindergarten teachers. We were a little surprised when we got an email that George would be in a separate reading group with just a couple of other kids and would be leaving the classroom daily for reading class. We were mostly surprised because William was not selected for a similar reading group and we felt that George possibly had better letter recognition, sounds, etc. We're thrilled George is getting the extra attention and sort of joked with William's teachers, 'are you sure he doesn't need to be in a similar group?'. George definitely has some room for improvement with his writing so perhaps that's part of the reason he's in this group but even in just a few weeks, his writing has really gotten better. It was listed on his report that George is secure in counting and measurements, that he completes classwork on time and he listens and follows directions. Most other areas are beginner or developing which is right where he should be. Sometimes he'll goof off with some of the other boys and when I inquired, occasionally he's the one instigating. The teacher just says that they say, 'let's close that silly door' so we'll try that at home too. I also asked if he's a rule-enforcer or tells on other boys and the teacher said no, that there are certainly kids who come to mind for that and George isn't one of them. During Learning Choice time George likes to do the  blocks, art/coloring or animals. At recess, he plays basketball or tag/imaginary play.

George, while you often have so much energy and it's sometimes hard for you to sit still, you're also a pleaser and I feel like that will really benefit you when it comes to learning. Despite the energy, you can also make yourself sit down to get it done. I'm so excited to see where you'll be in 6 months!

William at 5 1/2

  • 41 lbs and 43 inches (there are a couple kids right around his height or shorter but most are taller in K)
  • Wears size 5 in clothes and 12 in shoes
  • William is such a fast runner and loves to play chase
  • He is so detailed in his art work and is constantly growing in his ability, adding new features and details. He gets frustrated when it doesn't turn out right, but mostly just when he's extra tired. I'm glad his doesn't usually do drawing when he gets home from school as I'm not sure it would go over well at that time.
  • He still loves listening to stories, whether books or books on cd. He has a great attention span for chapter books but still won't let me read Harry Potter as he says there aren't enough pictures.
  • The boys have a basic dress code of a collared shirt and no athletic-type pants or shorts. For the past six months or so, William has preferred to dress up more for church, adding a bow tie and a hand-me-down sport coat we got. One of his K teachers is a man who just moved from North Carolina for the job and wears a bow tie most days, otherwise a tie. Many of the boys, including George, end up wearing a polo most days but William prefers to wear a button-down shirt with bow tie every day, and for special occasions, he adds his sport coat. He even requested a belt.
  • William is still drawn to girls and often when we get to the park after school, he heads straight for this new friend Odette if she's there. The other day, he was playing with a classmate's 3-year old little sister and asked his mom if they could have a playdate :) He gets along well with boys too, but he definitely connects with girls.
  • William is really into building when at home, and I've also heard that's what he likes to do at recess at school. They have different outdoor blocks to play with. At home, he'll use Lincoln Logs, the big cardboard block, magnatiles, etc.
  • William often doesn't care about rewards or challenges, at least not like George does. I'll offer it up and if he's not motivated to begin with, usually whatever I'm offering doesn't incentivize him.
  • I hope William has Dave's natural smarts because I already predict the homework battle to be fierce with him. I leave out their optional homework each Saturday morning (to be returned on Monday) and ask him if he wants to do it several times throughout the weekend. So far he's decided to do it just once and it was after encouraging him to come back and finish it several different times.
  • William doesn't find as much comfort in our different routines -- setting the table, putting shoes away, etc (though he is very good at making his bed each morning!) and often I hear 'I'll do it later'. Whenever I actually let him wait until later, it doesn't end well as of course he still doesn't want to do it.
  • I think school will be easy for William in the way that it's easy for him to sit still and listen. He doesn't have

Favorite color: gold and green
Favorite show: Mickey
Favorite movie: Incredibles 2
Favorite food: cinnamon French toast
Favorite toy: rainbow ball
Favorite animal: python
Favorite sport: soccer
Favorite class: Theater Arts
Least favorite class: Music
What do you want to be when you grow up? Doctor
Favorite place to visit: Ma's house
Favorite pizza place: Tony's

We met with William's teachers Mrs. Hollister and Mr. Vick a few days ago and got a good report. William likes to build during 'Learning Choice' (the other options are art/coloring, games, legos and animals) but I guess William likes the keva blocks best.  At recess he likes to play soccer or be in the block area. The teachers say (after I specifically asked) that very rarely do they need to intervene and ask him to say something a different way or talk about how he handled something. He's been having such a rough time at home because I think he's tired and it's clear after talking to them that he's saving that behavior at home and it never comes out at school. He's 'secure' in counting, completes classwork on time and works neatly and carefully. Most of the other skills he's a beginner or his skills are developing, which is right on track for this point. They like that he's helpful to others, like when someone was asking out loud about how to spell something, William reminded them to take out their alphabet sheet from their folder and see if that would help. They were impressed that he thought about that on his own, but also that he suggested it to others. We were curious about how William is doing with reading since George is pulled out into a special reading group and we felt he was stronger thus far with letters. They're confident he's doing fine and is right in the mix with the others. I like how they did the conference, it was based off an interview they did with each child and filled in more commentary while discussing with us. Clearly William is passionate about drawing but in general his answers are really thoughtful.

Such a big year, can't wait to see what you're able to do at age 6!