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4 posts from September 2009

September 29, 2009

Fed Watch

image from www.life.com

image from www.life.com

If you have access to CNN, or any news channel for that matter, and feel up to watching it for hours, you might just catch of glimpse of my favorite Fed.  Well, my favorite Fed, but if you are even remotely a "fan" of this blog, then he might be yours, too.

It is that time of year again, and Peter is well into his visit to the Big Apple for UNGA.  This is a great opportunity each fall (while we are stateside) for Pete to miss key family events like soccer games, leaf raking (or, in our case, pine needle raking), and lots of fun with homework.  In other words, he doesn't miss too much, and we are insanely jealous of his free, fun-filled trip to New York.   I am grateful, though, that he will return in time for Parent-Teacher conferences;  I am not sure I can handle that much excitement by myself. 

If you need a refresher of what Pete might look like while "working", check out the photo.  Granted, he isn't following the same person, but you get the idea. Just look for those key identifying features:  tall, dark suit, sunglasses, and one of those ear thing-a-ma-jigs (great for costumes!). I should be off to bed, but maybe I will just check CNN one more time...

What's that? Oh, you heard there was a piece on this very topic last week?  Well, not Pete, necessarily, but this division of the State Department?  Yes, CBS had a quick story on their news segment late last week.  For those of you wanting more than just a photo, check out what this reporter learned during his three days with DS

Please note: photos are courtesy of Life.  They were originally found on Getty Images, but borrowed through  Life as they allow one to display said photos on personal blogs (those that are not out there to make money) without charge. Thanks, very generous of you guys, since chances of me getting this photo-op, oh, zero to none?!

September 23, 2009

Too Short

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of a life, but very well-lived. Today would have been your 65th birthday.  Since I can't call, here's hoping it's a good one, wherever you may be.  Happy Birthday, Mom, with much love from all of us.

1997-0

September 20, 2009

Second Grade Shenanigans

I realized I posted Cait's first day of school almost immediately (in my mind), and then completely failed to put much up (anything) about Kelsey.  Second grade is no less important than middle school, especially to Kelsey, and she seems to be adjusting very well.

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I say "seems" as the drop-off/pick-up procedure is much different this year.  Drop-off is still in the back, but pick-up used to be at the classrooms.  In theory, it was probably not ideal for the teachers. Parents arrived early, congregated, chatted, and may have been a distraction for the kids still working.  Generally, no one arrived more than 5-10 minutes early, but when kids are already counting the minutes until the end of the school day...

Instead of seeing the teacher on a daily basis, even if to just wave hello and not bowl her over with 20 questions while she is trying to pack up and get home to her kids, we see her for a few seconds at drop-off.  Well, if we make it to drop-off.  Lately, we have had to zip around the front so she could hurry to the classrom, rather than congregate with friends in the back for a few minutes.

With Cait at a new school and this area not offering busing (really, folks who manage this area of school issues, what ARE you thinking?), we have to make it to two schools within 10 minutes each morning.  So, instead of one bus carting 50-60 kids, you have 40-50 individual cars dropping kids off.  I would gladly pay for a bus service, but apparently the powers that be prefer the additional traffic, pollution, and congestion of many cars trying to drop off several hundred kids in 15 minutes.

I will grant that many kids walk, ride their bikes or scooter.  However, most seem to live a lot closer, and have much lighter backpacks.  The daily cathunk-cathunk of Cait's backpack down the stairs still has me thinking something has fallen the first time I hear it each morning.  We are in a carpool, which helps immensely, but the school bus issue really needs to be revisited.  Though I am fairly sure if one ever showed up  that Nicholas would be tearfully jealous of Cait.  Who can forget Kelsey crying because she couldn't ride the big, yellow bus with Cait ?  Has it really been 5 years?

Since I do not have a daily chance to pester the teacher about Kelsey (as if), I move along believing that she is doing terribly well in all subjects.  Most papers come home stamped with happy faces, and a good or great on them.  She generally gives me a blow-by-blow, and I have not received any worrisome phone calls, emails, or FB updates. Well, we still have some math issues, but for the most part have vastly improved in that arena. Though if she spent half the time on math that she does on reading...NOT that I am complaining, but balance is a good thing, right?

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As Caitlin is in the Girls Chorus this year (and deeply enjoying it), we figured Kelsey should have an extra activity (read: sport).   She has always enjoyed playing soccer with Pete in the backyard, and even though (by San Ramon standards), she has practically reached retirement age, we decided it was time to try having her join a genuine soccer team.  Oh, and Pete volunteered to help assist the coach.  We thought that might add a nice bit of "quality time" to their day.

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Now, Coach Pete (apparently when you volunteer to help the coach, you actually volunteer to BE the coach) is having a grand ole time with two practices and a game each week.  Once on a team, the idea of playing soccer with folks other than her easygoing dad scared the pants off Kelsey.  I tried a small bribe*, it worked, and she practices, plays, and really seems to like it.  Maybe not her career, but she is enjoying it, and that's all that matters. It also doesn't hurt that she has a heckuva nice guy for a coach, and the few extra hours together each week have been really good for them.

*Yes, extremely bad parenting technique, and I normally don't use it.  However, it worked for the first few practices, and she then forgot about it.  Blast me if you will, but what's done is done, and she is having fun.

September 04, 2009

Middle School Madness

IMG_2991 has begun.  We shopped, sorted, filed, labeled, packed, and prepped.  Oh, wait, she's 11.  Caitlin did all of the aforementioned with little or no help from us.  Well, one of us drove the car, and one of us paid for the school supplies, but other than that, she was on her own.  By choice, of course.

We took the obligatory picture on the front stoop with her carpool buddy, and with Kelsey. No, I don't know why they couldn't stand next to one another.  And, with that, she was off.  We waved until the car drove around the corner (yes, I even took a picture of the car driving away...I am hopeless). 

How's it going?  By all accounts, absolutely fine.  Her school has a nifty system called Schoolloop, which is a way we can all keep track of her homework and grades by merely logging into a website.  I suppose I should actually credit the school district, not the school, but I do applaud the school for using the system. Grades and scores are uploaded by the teachers per their schedule (daily, weekly, bimonthly) and there are never any (well, none thus far) surprises regarding grades, homework completion, or project due dates.

Last night was the official back to school night, and Peter and I were both able to attend (thank you, Sittercity!).  We visited all 7 classes, and received fairly comprehensive overviews of what would be studied.  Cait takes her "Core" (Readers' and Writers' workshops and Social Studies) classes with one teacher, and the rest of the classes (science, math, gym, and home ec (yes, an elective!) are with separate teachers.

I can't say we were disappointed in any aspect of the evening, and I was quite happy with the "rules" of the school. Rather than a crime & punishment style of authority, it is an action & consequence.  If she wears a hat inside, it isn't a crime, just an action.  There is the consequence that she loses the hat (for the day), but there is no punishment.  The same is true for gum chewing, dress code violations, and cell phone use.  They have a theory that middle school is hard enough for 'tweens and young teens, and try to teach them how to learn from their mistakes rather than just mete out meaningless punishments that shame them without teaching them. 

So, that's really that.  She comes home, works on homework, naps, eats dinner, finishes the homework, and reads.  Other than going to bed earlier (yes, earlier) not much is different.  I can't say it has been super-easy, as math has presented a few challenges, but she is adapting well and has no problem getting up and going in the morning.  It probably doesn't hurt that her Core teacher stresses that one should read, read, read, read, read, and read.  I think Cait's placement in that class was more than perfect!