6 posts categorized "School"

May 28, 2010

They're heeere!

IMG_2020 The massive truck pulled up and settled down with a thunk in front of our neighbor's house yesterday.  The door creaked open and out spilled boxes, rolls of paper, boxes and boxes of tape and a mountain of shrink wrap.  It wasn't long before the only sounds in the house were the screech of the tape being pulled off the roll and the crumpling of massive amounts of paper (can I apologize to the trees once again?).

IMG_2016 Despite the fact I thought it would be a crazy day..well, it was a bit nutty when the movers, plumber and painter arrived almost at the same time, two out of three needed payment by check (and the checkbook was with me while I got the kids to school and the sitter), and assistance with matching colors and the occasional, "This goes (insert piece of furniture labeled "DON'T MOVE" here*), right?" floated down the stairs while Peter struggled to multi-task.

IMG_2017 I had stayed at the hotel the night before so the kids could get settled and sleep, while Peter opted for the occasional catnap on the couch.  He stayed the night at the house in order to finish up a few remaining organizational issues. He was the first (and only) on the scene when they arrived.  After getting the kids where they needed to go, I arrived to pay folks and assess the general situation.  The packing was already well under way by the time I took a good look, and the by noon, it seemed as though the downstairs was ready to be loaded on a truck.  Not entirely the case, but the movers assured and re-assured us that this was by far not their most difficult move.  Not that it should be, but that worry always sits there in the back of my mind...

IMG_2018 In fact, things went so smoothly, that both of us had time to retreat to the hotel, shower, and don our Sunday best for Kelsey's school concert and art show last night.  We finished up the night with a trip to the local yogurt shop with friends and treated ourselves to take-out Chinese, before heading back to the hotel to finish homework, get the kids to bed, and hopefully get a bit of shut-eye ourselves before starting all over again this morning.   Now off to get another cup of coffee and then soon the truck loading will begin! One more day, one more day....

*The movers later pointed out that the "don't move" signs were tiny .5 inch by .5 inch Post It note flags (one per item), not the poster board size sign in red marker one might normally expect.

May 14, 2010

It was just a tiny lump

IMG_1914  in my throat until I opened the card, and found that the girls in my troop and their parents had written the sweetest note possible. Tonight was our last Brownie meeting, and at the very end the other co-leader and I were presented with gift bags and roses.  I was so touched just by that gesture, and did not expect (a way too big) gift card inside nor the card that took me from a bit verklempt to completely overwhelmed.

A good thing that I did not peek earlier than when we returned to the house for the evening.  We had a busy night tonight, with the Brownie meeting running almost concurrently with Cait's Open House.   Nicholas, Caitlin and Peter headed to her middle school and Kelsey and I arrived there as soon as we could.  

IMG_1903 IMG_1907 IMG_1905 IMG_1911

We were able to visit with almost all of her teachers, and the reports were just glowing. I was very curious to hear what her Language Arts teacher had to say, and her comments mirrored our thoughts that Cait had matured quite a bit throughout the year and truly enjoyed her work.  One of her big projects for the year, if not the most involved, was a compilation of correspondence with a friend or relative of a different generation.

Cait had to choose an older family member or friend and write to them throughout the year.  The two were to share information such as likes and dislikes, differences between their generations, and strive to learn a bit more than they might just through conversation.  Cait picked her Great-Uncle Bill, who also happens to be her godfather.

They exchanged letters, and Cait created a beautiful album around their written conversations.  She had a chance to foster their relationship, and realized, I think, that while some things have changed drastically through the years (technology) other things remain the same (having to babysit one's younger siblings from time to time).  She did a lovely illustration on the cover, and both her project and a poetry book were on display tonight for all to see.

We also visited her math classroom and were thrilled to hear that her extra work at home has been quite apparent to the teacher.  Nicholas enjoyed flirting with the teacher and she made a comment about "Someday you will be here for middle school!"

Um, no, he won't. Sigh.  Back to those letters to the schools, one down, three to go....

April 29, 2010

It's a little smudged,

IMG_1798 but the feeling is there.  It's Teacher Appreciation Week at Kelsey's school. On Tuesday, each child was to take in a card of some sort.  Kelsey wrote out this card for her teacher, and then enclosed a Starbucks gift card.

I didn't read the card until she was tucked into her bed.  I didn't tear up, but I thought it was incredibly sweet.  I remember liking some of my teachers, but never to the point of not wanting school to end or being upset about leaving school early.

Fast forward to our car ride home tonight.  We were out getting shoes for her First Communion (on Saturday), and ran a few more quick errands.  We were on the way home and almost to our exit when it hit me that I had completely blanked on tomorrow's teacher treat.  It can be anything from a pack of stickers to a hand-written card.  What did Kelsey come up with?

"I want to make Mrs. H. a card, and put a photo of me on it, and then she will always remember me."

Cue waterworks on my part.  It's not even the leaving, in this case, it is her matter-of-fact responses to everything.  Even when we asked how she felt about the move recently, she simply stated,

"Well, let's move and then we can always come back and visit.  I could come back next spring for maybe a week and visit with my friends.  Let's do that, that's a good idea."

Is there such a thing as being too well-adjusted? 

October 14, 2009

You can take the boy out of Iceland,

IMG_3112 IMG_3113 but you can't take Iceland out of the boy.  Now we realize he is not *technically* Icelandic, but he enjoyed a taste of Icelandic babyhood prior to departing Reykjavik.  We took many a long walk in all types of weather.  Like other babies, he slept in his stroller outside, cozy and warm, but with all of the good, fresh air.  We have continued the tradition here, and he still has days where he dozes outside.  The natural white noise of barking dogs and the wind whistling in the trees helps him sleep soundly.

Many things, however, have changed.  Local reactions to weather do not, in any way, parallel those we saw in Reykjavik.  One of the first things we learned about living in Iceland, was that life goes on, weather or not.  Coming out of northern Virginia, we weren't quite prepared for the variety of offerings the meteorological gods threw our way, but we eventually woke up, saw the light, and adjusted.

HPa630n-770 After first arriving, and beginning school, Cait used to freeze on the playground. She *only* had a warm jacket, ski pants, and gloves.   Then I realized that LL Bean just didn't cut it there.  I headed to the nearest 66 North, and invested in two "super-suits" for both Caitlin and Kelsey.  Cait went from hanging out by the wall, and wringing her hands, to running around with the rest of the kids, no matter what the sky sent down.

Kelsey also played outside in anything, and everything and loved it.  The kids jumped on the trampoline in snow, with nothing other than long sleeves on.  The school rules included mandatory outside time.  If you wanted a bunch of kids with pent-up energy, keep them inside after lunch, and watch things go haywire.

IMG_3118 Then we moved to California, brought oodles of winter and wet weather gear, and landed in the middle of a drought.  Water restrictions galore, tawny hills everywhere, and no umbrellas in sight.  We were told "fall - spring is the rainy season," and finally the rains came on November 1.  We were thrilled to see the skies finally open on that gloomy Saturday morning.  It continued to rain frequently, and we were loving it...until the kids went back to school.

I noticed the oddity the first time it was drizzling at drop-off.  I thought I was in the wrong place, as there were no lines of children, just one or two teachers hurrying the kids inside.  Turns out if so much as a raindrop falls, they are rushed inside as though it is hailing (in any respect).  And when it was still raining at lunchtime?

They had indoor recess, and watched tv. I was confused, and angry.  Watched tv?  Why on earth weren't they outside, playing in the rain?  Well, that's not the way it's done here.  If I remember correctly, it probably was the same in Virginia, but the Icelandic way had become natural to me.

The rainy season has come early this year, and I am revisiting last year's debacle.  Do I fight the system?  Do I offer to personally outfit the entire school with proper rain gear, to include teachers and parents?  Do I suck it up and shut up?  I honestly don't know what to do.  I would love to regale the principal with tales of my immune-system strengthened children, or how kids really enjoy jumping in puddles and will not catch a cold simply because they are outside (remember the properly clothed part).

IMG_3119 No, they will get out their energy, and retreat to the indoors, happy for the warmth, but glad for the wild and free moments trying to catch raindrops on their tongues.  Sadly, I fear I am one of the few, and my opinion will be shunned for the more popular idea that sickness will be rampant, or the kids will be wet and miserable.

So, we will have our own outdoor times.  Auntie Shannon fully outfitted Nicholas in outdoor gear for his birthday, and he has finally grown into it.  He has a jacket, pants, and puddle-stomping boots (complete with ba-bas*).  Today was not the first storm (that one took us by surprise a few weeks back), but definitely the most vigorous we have had.  Nicholas played with planters, tried to catch water in a shovel, jumped in the puddles, and watched Kelsey dive under the water pouring off the roof test her umbrella's strength.  We finally ambled inside after a good 30 minutes, and were all tired and happy campers.  It's not Iceland, but it will do for now.

*Ba-ba: his current catch-all term for an animal. 

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.



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?


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.


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!