Sunday, June 29, 2008

the next venus and serena

Don't laugh, it could happen. And you know my maiden name, so there, they have a head start already.

The girls started tennis lessons on friday. All three are enrolled but Kate was in the midst of a potty training power struggle at lesson time, so I left her with John and just took E & A. The girls all have rackets courtesy of Aunt Terri and Uncle Randy and because Erin got an introductory lesson or two when we travelled to San Diego a couple of months ago, she announced to Allison that "she already knows how to play tennis, but in this class you'll learn to play too." This is a persistent theme with Erin. She also repeatedly claims to be able to speak Chinese because she knows about ten Mandarin words.

This local class is for kids ages 4-6 and appears to be taught by a few local high school players. Maybe they're in college. Adding to the evidence that I'm old is that I can't tell the difference anymore. They divided the kids into 4 per 1 instructor and started them out wearing these racket-mitt thingys to begin to learn some coordination in swinging for the ball.

Then they started learning proper body position and racket holding, and finally on to hitting. Erin was pretty good with the racket. I think softball helped her eye-hand coordination. She was among the best hitters on this first day of class.

finishing touches

John's two-week project, building the kids' new backyard playground, is coming to a close. He's been working on it all day and is still out there now putting the last hand holds on the rock climbing wall, and to be tackled in the next few days is laying down some bark chips around and I think he'll be more of less finished. We also have to move that plastic playhouse to a new location and get rid of the large plastic play structure nearby. They still used that as recently as a few weeks ago but once construction started on this they have totally ignored it. And I don't blame them, in both form and function it's extremely sad compared to this.

The girls have been playing on it with every finished stage--first the swings, then the sandbox underneath the fort, then climbing in the fort itself, and today the addition of a rope swing and slide. It's been a big hit. John considered getting a playground kit which includes sanded, treated, and pre-drilled lumber but he decided he didn't like the workmanship on those. So he ordered a kit which was a box of hardware and an instruction book, and he modified the suggested plans and purchased his own lumber.

At breakfast today the girls were telling John he needed to finish their fort.
"Your fort? It's MY fort! I'm gonna move in and no girls allowed."
"But if you live in there you won't have any bed!" observed Kate.
All that planning and work and he left out such a basic need.

A mid-week photo, and after the sandbox was filled.

Some pics from today:

And as for the location on the deck where we used to have the girls' swings...John got a hammock for father's day, and that appears to be the perfect spot for it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Today was Erin's last day of kindergarten, which is astounding to me. She had a great first year in school and she's learned and changed so much since last august. And looking over her final report card, her growth is pretty obvious. Their marks are "-" for "beginning the skill", "check mark" for "meets the standard" and "+" for "exceeds the standard". At the beginning of the year she had plenty of minuses and a few checks, this grade term she had mostly pluses. I'm glad we decided to enroll her in school this year, instead of redshirting her, as is so super-common around here for kids with fall birthdays.

This morning I took a few pictures at morning line-up. That's Erin's teacher off to face the last day with coffee in hand.

This whole last school week has been a lingering 4-day party, in my estimation. Monday was an all-day field trip to the aquarium, tuesday was "field day" , like a small carnival with all kinds out outdoor games and crafts going on, wednesday was a "reading field trip" where each child brought a blanket to sit on and books from home and they spent considerable time in the adjacent park reading books under the trees, and today was some sort of school-wide sing-a-long and an early dismissal.

So I picked up Erin along with her buddy Maia and took them and the twins out to lunch to celebrate "no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks" and I bit my tongue and did not teach them that song.

It always requires some extra thought in choosing a place which is cheesy and casual enough to offer coloring menus for the kids, and in this case, chimpanzee eye masks too, and not so cheesy that I won't like the food. But I think I chose a good compromise this time.

Kate was fascinated by the goings-on in the kitchen, clearly visible from our booth:

And some special desserts to top off the meal for the new first-graders.

Back at home, I thought I'd film Erin and her thoughts on her school year. This video is totally spontaneous, but amazingly enough Erin sounds pretty much 100% rehearsed for some reason.

FYI: "Sharing" is a weekly activity that all the kids do. There is a topic of the week that the kids must write about and then read their essay in front of the class, along with visual aids sometimes.

The girls all start a dancing class and beginning tennis next week, both of which will last the duration of Erin's short summer. It's first grade for her at the end of the first week of August, and preschool for the twins a few days later.

father's day

We spent father's day afternoon at John's parents' house where we managed to corral three of the four local Fergy dads for a barbecue. The grandparents' house is the girls' current absolute favorite destination since Grandma bought a whole slew of princess outfits and accessories for them to play dress up with.

I don't know where in the world, or why, Kate learned to curtsy.

The grill is always off limits to women and was off limits to the dads, who were supposed to be relaxing--well, relaxing as much as they could relax with 3 kids running around the house, fighting over outfits, and climbing on them (and in case you were wondering, plastic toy princess slippers are enormously loud on hard wood floors, adding oh so much more to the attempted serenity of the afternoon).

So John started giving Max some grilling lessons.

And all in all it was a really nice day. I think John is trying for father of the year however, as he is curently building the kids a new playground/swingset in our back yard. The lumber was delivered a week ago and John has been out back every evening after work well past the point of darkness usually. Here is the progress so far:

Pictured above is the beginning of the "fort" which will have a roof and feature a sandbox below which can convert ot a picnic table. There will be 3 swings on a structure to connect on the left side, a slide on the right, a climbing wall, and monkey bars. It's been quite a project so far.

Friday, June 13, 2008

at least it's better than Barney's theme song

I'm late in posting this. A couple of weeks ago, nicely situated between mom's and dad's day, the K/1 students put on a tribute show for the parents--gathering in the auditorium to sing a number of songs for us. It was really very sappy and cute.


Allison, to John, as they looked at a photo from our wedding on the family room wall:

"That's you dancing with mama! You were the Prince and mama was the Princess. Now you're just a married guy."

And speaking of Allison, she posed nicely wearing John's favorite shirt:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

and even more softball

I thought I'd written my last entry about Erin's softball team but the kids didn't get their trophies at their last game--the entire league receives their trophies at a saturday, end of the season wrap-up ceremony. So that was last saturday and we decided to have a team picnic dinner and play date at the park afterwards.

I was tempted to skip the ceremony and just show up for the team event, knowing that there would likely be, well who knows how many, but certainly TOO many speeches to listen to, and a thousand teams to get through from ages 5 to 13, and they'd have the insight to have the young kids sit the longest and get their trophies last.

John's enthusiasm for the event wasn't much greater than mine but he still decided to take Erin to the closing ceremony and I planned to show up later with the twins. I'm sure glad he made that call. As it turns out, yes, they did have too many speeches and they did make the little kids wait the longest, but not only did Erin receive the expected trophy for participation, but her coach chose her as "Most Improved Player" and she received an additional trophy for that distinction. She was the only player to receive two trophies on her team and she was really, really thrilled.

I showed up later with our dinner, and Kate and Allison were glad to see Sammy and Libby, the 3 year-old younger twin sisters of Erin's teammate Abby, and their usual partners in crime.

And following the picnic and some play time the girls enjoyed some great chocolate cupcakes, with official Sharks purple icing, and some semi-indoor soccer in the nearby gazebo.