Wednesday, June 22, 2011

penguins no more

Countdown to the end of the school year was pretty busy, as usual. There were all sorts of extra things going on at school for the kids and any foolish volunteer parents.

The librarian asked for parents to come in and help her on one particular day. I showed up and observed about 10 moms repairing bindings and taping together ripped pages and relabeling books with their shelving numbers and such. The librarian looked up at me and said, very enthusiastically, "Hi, can you please take all the books on this whole half of the library and move them one shelf over to the left? Yeah, thanks so much."
I cut my library volunteering plan WAY short that day.

Later there was a potluck brunch for all the school volunteers put together by the teachers, which was nice. And second-to-last week of school I attended a field trip to the zoo with Kate's class. She was happy to have Jake and Tiffany in her group with me.

My troops visiting "Penguin Island", which kept them laughing constantly. The penguin is their school mascot, and Penguin Island is the name of one of the playgrounds at school. They lingered here for quite a while.

We had a great day at the zoo. I carried their lunches in a pack with me and we were able to wander the zoo and stop when we wanted and where we wanted for a lunch break. We met up with classmates here and there and saw Allison with her group a couple of times as well.

On the second-to-last day of school I attended a field trip to a technology museum with Erin's class and my group consisted of 6 girls. We watched a really spectacular Imax movie and the kids had fun with the various hands-on displays, but I hardly had a chance to observe or try out anything myself. The 6 of them never wanted to do the exact same thing at the same time and keeping track of my particular 6 girls with blue shirts and (except for Erin) black hair among SO many others was fairly exhausting.

Then came the very last day of school, which fell on one of my usual volunteering days. The first graders in the twins' village made these silhouettes with a little poem about themselves on each, and they took turns reading their poem to the class.

Later on the whole school gathered for a sing-along outside, with one teacher playing piano, one on guitar, and Erin's teacher and Allison's teacher leading the singing as usual.

And then some tying up loose ends in the classes and packing for home every single thing possible, and then the many goodbyes began. Erin's been at the school for four years and it wasn't the usual waving as you walk past knowing that you'll see these people again after the usual short six-week summer break.

Though I think I was really in denial about it at first, our kids being minorities in school created a whole bunch of strange situations. Though doing so was optional, for the fall we've enrolled them at the school near the new house which is ethnically much more "diverse".

The school principal has an open meeting with parents once a month, called the Parent-Principal exchange. They always took place in the morning shortly after school starts and I've attended several. There is typically between 5 and 15 parents there, more at the beginning of the school year and then it kind of drops off. At one meeting when Erin was in first grade, there were 5 other parents there, all Caucasian, which is an extraordinarily strange coincidence given that there are only about 20 white kids out of 525+ kids in the whole school. Our principal is Caucasian too. Surprised, we all kind of looked around at each other, and after a general question or two everyone launched into all the problems their kids have faced by being white and that became the whole discussion for the next 45 minutes. At the time, I didn't have much to say because I was still in my denial phase and there was nothing specific going on with Erin that I knew of, or at least acknowledged. By the next school year when the twins were there too and I was on campus much more often, I snapped out of it and a few months later we were house shopping.

We hope that their social life will improve and there will be more than 1 or 2 kids that they'll get to see outside of school. People I know whose kids go to the other school tell me how great and social and close-knit everyone is. I've visited the classrooms there, had a meeting with the principal, and talked to lots of people about the new school to help me make this transfer decision.

I'm convinced that overall this is the right thing to do, but I still felt pretty bad on that last school day. We literally won the lottery to get Erin into their old school and only 1 in 8 families get a spot. It has such a fabulous curriculum and atmosphere and philosophy and there is a whole laundry list of unique things that I really like and that drew me to apply for this school in the first place, which we won't have at the new school. It's been hard to think about all that the kids will be certainly leaving in hopes of something else I hope they'll gain. I hope I'm right.

The new school's mascot is the tigers. For a long while I think we're going to feel like penguins inside of tiger suits.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

kid quotes

These were all posted on facebook, but I'm putting them here because I plan to save the content of the blog for my children to be horrified by on a regular basis someday:

One of those Geico commercials with the caveman came on TV.
Allison (laughing): Look at that guy with all the hair! He looks like Jerry Brown!
Me (laughing): who?
Allison: Jerry Brown!
John (laughing): And who's Jerry Brown?
Allison: You know, that new guy, the Governmentor!

The girls got one of those magic 8-balls with their prize tickets at chuck e cheese last night. Now they are using it to decide EVERYTHING.
Kate: "Should I brush my hair before school?"
Whew. The answer was yes

Kate pronounced kids' softball superior to professional hockey because softball games have a designated "snack mom".

Allison: "I want to have a house where everything is pink, outside and inside--even the beer bottles."

Kate, while asking about jails, after we mentioned that even some big kids go to jail:
"I bet they have to do a lot of worksheets there. All math."

Erin to cousin Andrew: where do you work?
Andrew: at a non-profit.
Erin: what's a non-profit?
Andrew: it's a business that, ah, doesn't make money.
Erin: Oh, you mean a newspaper?

Crossing a toll bridge:
Kate: what was that for?
Me: the MAN is tryin' to keep us down!
Allison: yeah...AGAIN!
John: that's right.
...Kate: is the MAN taking our money and wasting it?
John: yes. They gotta pay that guy to stand there and take our money, for example.
Allison: I really don't get why they do that.
John: either do we.

Allison: "I didn't call Kate dumb. I said 'd-o-m' as in, the end of 'freedom' ".

John to kids, "what should mama get for Christmas?" Allison: "Just 100% cash."

spring pile-up

School's almost out, which means my calendar is overflowing with things to do. Everything seems to happen in May and early June.
The twins finished their softball season and I really came to like this new league. The coaching was a lot better and the league overall is better organized.

The girls really enjoyed themselves this season, as if you couldn't tell.

They received trophies and the t-shirts in the brightest possible color after their last game, and then the team went out for a pizza party.

I caught most of their game but missed the party because Erin and I had to be somewhere else. Weekends rarely have only one item per day going on anymore. I joined a band comprised of many of my friends from my college band, as well as many from the UC Berkeley Cal Band and Stanford Band. We had a gig to play at a festival in another town, so Erin and I headed there.

The girls had open house at school recently, where we have time to visit each of their classes and view a lot of their work, mainly larger in-class projects that they've spent many weeks on. Erin showed us her animal research report that she and a partner completed.

There was lots of pointing out examples of her work for John, who hadn't seen it before. I, on the other hand, have seen everything already. I've either prepped the materials, worked with the kids in class on these projects, put them on display in the classroom, or sometimes all three. So I always hung back and took pictures while the kids explained these projects to John.

Erin's Sandwich book report, which she chose to do as a hamburger. Each layer of the sandwich has a different component of the book report attached to it.

Erin with her fabulous teacher, Mrs. Feldman.

The routine in Kate and Allison's classes went much the same. And the toughest part about open house is that it only lasts an hour, and we have 3 classes to visit in that time, so we really couldn't linger and chat like most other families.

Kate and Mrs. Drake

Allison and Mrs. Smithwick

The girls have been with these teachers for two years and they're each really terrific. It's sad to know the girls will be leaving these teachers in particular. Big changes are coming in the fall.

We've also had a school book fair and a K/1 sing-a-long performance (John attended and a short video may follow). Before school is out the girls have one more field trip each (and I'm chaperoning), a field day, a read-in day, and Erin has a big speech presentation. Her speech was supposed to be given last week but she was terribly sick for several days and missed school. And that WASN'T on my calendar.