Sunday, June 20, 2010

two outta three ain't bad

The last day of school was the first day of something else. We've been attending the local Highland Games each summer and the girls have enjoyed watching the dancing performed there, among other things. Erin has been after me for nearly a year about wanting to try Irish or Scottish dancing lessons. For a while I forgot to look into it and then it was softball season, which consumes our entire spring. But I promised her to find something for her to try out when softball ended this year.

It turns out that despite the large population around here these are not activities that are in high demand. Shocking, I know. There is only one Irish dancing "school", and only one Scottish highland dancing "school". School in parentheses because each one actually takes place in a private residence. Well the Irish dancing school only offers lessons to beginning children on wednesday afternoons, at which time I'm always working, and the highland dancing is offered on my days off. So the decision of which to try was made for us.

Though this was Erin's idea I signed up all three for a trial class thinking that this, unlike softball, could be THE activity for Allison. She always loves performing in school plays or German school performances and seems to generally like being the center of attention. Dancing, on stage, in an elaborate outfit, with an audience someday, this is gonna be right up her alley.

The girls were taught by a teenager who is a master whatever-it's-called already, under the supervision of the school director. She was nice and friendly and good with the kids. They started to learn different foot positions and jumping...

and whatever the lessons at the bar are for...

and hand and arm positions and coordinating those with the foot positions.

Clearly, I'm an expert at describing this stuff, but anyway, she seemed like a capable teacher to me and despite none of my girls being as naturally talented as the other little girl or the little boy in class obviously were, it looked to me like everyone was having fun and that this was a promising new thing to do for a short while or a long while.

When the lesson was over and shoes were back on and we were in the car I asked everyone what they thought. "I LOVED it!" said Erin, who was advised to begin a different beginner's class for slightly older children next week.
"I didn't love it," predictably added Kate the Contrarian.
"Okay," I responded, "this was just a trial class, you don't have to do it next week."
"NO! I WANT to do it next week. I actually liked it. I was kidding," Kate corrected.
"I didn't like it! At all!" added Allison, to my surprise.
"Really? Why not?"
"There was TOO much standing!" she clarified, with a grumpy expression and tone for added emphasis.

Friday, June 18, 2010

the last day

The girls' school has a different calendar than most, so the last day of school was this past thursday. And just this month their school's application to become a "California Distinguished School" was accepted, which apparently goes to 5% of public schools each year. I don't really understand this program. If 5% of schools are given this award every year then eventually most every school will have it, rendering it, like many awards, meaningless. Anyway, Erin's teacher was one of three who wrote up the lengthy proposal for the honor and the three of them traveled to the capital building in Sacramento? No...Disneyland...a week ago to accept the award. Actually, I have a lot more respect for Disneyland than I do Sacramento.

On the last day of school the district superintendent brought our school their official new CDS flag and the kids gathered to see it raised for the first time, and to have a last day of school sing- along.

There was absolutely no wind, so the new flag didn't create a great impression.

One of the teachers played piano, another guitar, and both Erin and Allison's teachers led the singing. Parents were invited to join.

I spotted Allison in the crowd, and Kate too, since the K/1 students were seated in the front. Erin's class was too far back for me to get a good picture of her.

The kids sang "Grand old Flag" and the school song and a few others before heading back to their classes to gather their things and say their goodbyes.

Then my kindergarten graduates emerged with their big bags full of final art projects and such to take home, and Allison got a last hug from her teacher.

After getting Erin and meeting up with another Kindergarten graduate, the twins' friend Jake, we decided to get a group photo and go out to celebrate the end of school together. We took the kids out for pizza to a local place that has a playground inside and let them run wild for a while, until they tired themselves out and then they sat and colored at the table.

It's hard for me to believe that Kindergarten is over and I have two first-graders now who are nearly 6. My babies surely aren't babies anymore. This past school year has been one of my favorites, whether or not it makes sense for me to have an opinion like that one way or the other. Each of them has THE most wonderful teachers I could possibly imagine, and each teacher was matched so well with their different personalities. The good news is that since students stay with one teacher for two grades, each of them will be back in the same classrooms with the same teachers next year.

I spent one full school day per week helping in their classes and I enjoyed doing that so much more than I thought I would. I started that as something that would be for their benefit but it was just as good for me too. Kate and Allison's educational career is off to a good start and Erin continues to surprise John and me. The beginning of first and third grade is a mere six weeks away. I wonder what new adventures lie ahead.

a good boy scout would have come in handy

After school one day last week, Erin's girls scout troop held a final meeting as a play date and potluck in the park next to the school. The girls have been together for two years now and everyone (I think) is returning next year for their final year as a Brownie.

Then last weekend the troop got together at a local amusement park. "You used to WORK here Mommy?!?" Erin exclaimed. "That would be soooooooo cool!"

Um....yeah, no it wasn't.

Finally this summer Erin seems to have hit the critical height limit to go on most of the larger rides, including this swing ride which she just loved (she's the one with her arms outstretched).

The girls rode tons of things since most of them seemed to like thrill rides as much as Erin does. They went on several of the biggest fastest coasters and very fast spinning rides too. Sometimes the scouts joined me and John and the twins on smaller rides (the twins and Erin have a 4 inch height differential, and an even larger bravery differential.) Most often they split away from us since there were two other moms along who didn't have younger siblings in tow.

We all ate lunch together while we watched a musical show featuring the Peanuts characters, and before the show started they came into the audience and asked if either Kate or Allison would be part of the show. Kate wanted no part of that. Allison was thrilled. So John and Allison sat down in the front row in preparation for her cue to come on stage.
The show was about living on a farm and such and featured some of the hokey-est song adaptations ever. John texted me from his new front row seat, "Kill me now."

After lunch the big girls split from us again while we took the twins on some of the tamer rides and because it was a very warm day the twins ran through some of the fountains and sprinklers to cool off.

Then we caught up with the girl scouts again, or I should say we saw one mom (our co-leader) and her daughter waiting at the exit of a ride. Maya came running up to me, "Do you know where Erin is?" she asked frantically.
"WHAT?" I yelled, "She was with you and the others! What happened?"
Then her mom came over and explained to me that while the other mom and the rest of the group went into the big water ride, she wasn't sure that Erin was with them. John and I entered the ride from the exit side and made our way up the line until we found the group and sure enough, Erin wasn't there and no one knew where she was.

This place has security people all over so I wasn't so worried that Erin would be taken or harmed as much as worried about long it would take to find her (she knows her home phone number and address, but not our cell numbers) and how terrified she'd become in the process of getting back to us.

I grabbed Kate and headed to the "Lost Parents" building I noticed as we passed it a few minutes back and John and Allison stayed in the vicinity of where they last saw her to look around. Several minutes later I got a call from John, he spotted Erin with a security guard and got her. She was terribly upset and had been lost for I gather about 10 minutes. We had a simple talk about what to do if she ever becomes lost just a few weeks ago but she didn't follow my instructions, I was disappointed to learn. And I never fully pieced together exactly how she got separated from the others, but after he calmed down she wanted to stay and ride more rides, so we did.

Certainly not the best day at an amusement park we've ever had, but Erin hasn't dwelled on what happened and hasn't even mentioned it since.

Don't boy scouts learn tracking and stuff like that? Maybe the girls need to learn those skills too. I think at the very least they need to work on a buddy system concept badge.

open house

About the time most schools were ending for the summer, our school held its last open house. We came to school after dinner one evening and visited all three classes and the kids showed us their what projects they've been working on lately, and some they've been working on all year. We decided to visit each room as a group one at a time and I instructed everyone to be patient when we were in one of their sisters' rooms so that we could be sure to see everything in every class. These lectures beforehand do no good, I don't know why I bother.

Of course, I'm in class every week and I've helped the kids work on several of these projects and/or been the one to display them on the walls. John was really interested to see everything for the first time so I mostly stayed to the side and took pictures while John listened to the kids' explanations. I also tried to keep Erin from rushing Kate and Allison to get done "so we could go to her class now". When Erin wasn't pushing them to hurry up she simply served to ruin their enthusiasm by saying things like "oh, that's eeeeeeeeasy, I remember when I did that".

Since Kate and Allison's classes are open to each other, Allison could see her classmates and her teacher chatting together and she was jumping up and down, bursting at the seams waiting for our turn to go into her class.

And lastly was Erin, who first showed us the long creative story she'd recently completed about Steven the Hairy Spider. She was really proud of her final creative writing assignment (which I hadn't seen before, it was entirely planned and written in class).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

kite runners

The girls received kites as party favors at a birthday party a little while ago (well, a few weeks ago is a little while ago to me, it's eternity to them). They've been asking to fly these kites not quite every day, but almost. But we've had a rainy May combined with being buried in softball for the past couple of months and they always to bring up the subject at the wrong times either schedule- or weather-wise.

The last couple of times that John brought up the possibility of kite flying there wasn't any wind, but this afternoon the weather and our schedule were in sync, and we went to the park around the corner.

The wind was actually just perfect and all the kites were launched without trouble. John gave them pointers on when to run and when to stand still to keep the kites up. These were small kites and everyone seemed to manage them well. They flew them for about a half hour and then went to the playground to play before coming home on the scooters.

After taking some pictures I went off grocery shopping, and got the full report later, when I came home to find John and the girls mixing up some hard-earned lemonade. Perhaps now their kite-flying fascination will is satisfied, for a couple of days at least.