Sunday, June 19, 2016

Personal Goals

Kailey got an award at school on the last full day of school for achieving her personal goals -- which was the character theme that her school was working on over the previous month.  More specifically, her teacher gave her and one other student the award for their project-based work.  He said that Kailey takes her project based work to the next level, not just mastering the learning goals, but adding a level of detail that goes above and beyond.

This was such an appropriate award for her and a fantastic way to end a terrific school year. 
Kailey has been having a hard time with the end of the school year drawing near.  She has had a really special year and has so enjoyed all the class projects that she got recognized for in the assembly. Even on the very last day of school today, Kai was chattering in the car as we headed towards campus about raptors, the Yurok tribe, steelhead and the other things they learned over the year.  The project-based learning that Mr. C referenced when giving her the award involves picking a theme (ie: steelhead) to teach math, science, writing, reading, group work, etc is right up Kai's alley.  She has really enjoyed digging deep into the different topics and she just put a great deal of time and effort into every project.

During the raptor project, she didn't get her poster board completed the day they had in class to complete it.  She came home that evening and was a complete wreck.  She was distraught that her project was not completed to her standards.  And it was supposed to be presented at the Open House at school that evening.  Kai was so upset that she might have to present an incomplete project.  We brainstormed how she might carve out time in the school day before the Open House (which wasn't until evening) in order to finish the project.  Kai really became a full on student this year.  She wanted to perform her best and master all aspects of the subjects they were covering.  She said to me last night as we were cuddling in bed before she went to sleep, "I love school.  I'm excited about summer but I really love school." 

When she was in Kindergarten, we filled out a questionnaire about what our goals for Kailey were over that year. The number one thing we wrote was that she come away from the year excited about school and with a love of learning.  Needless to says, our goals were not met that year.  But, this year, Mr. C has inspired the confidence, thirst for knowledge, and a passion for school that were our goals for Kai that first year.  She has an exciting summer where hopefully -- through art, science, aquatics, theater, and soccer camp -- her love of learning and quest to do her best continues to be fostered.  And, I hope her third grade teacher can continue to inspire her.  It was a special year. 

Thank you, Mr. C.

Mr. Manners

Alden's personality is so infectious and irresistible.  He radiates joy and passion and intensity.  He's also exceptionally well mannered, for someone so young.  I've been in many a conversation with other moms after saying to our children, "what do you say?" when they are given something and - once again - forget the gratitude.  Most children need constant reminders to say "thank you" or "please".  But, most of the time, Alden starts with a please.  And his unprompted "dit dous" catch me off guard and warm my spirit every time he does it -- which is most of the time.  Nearly every time we hand Alden something he wants, the first thing he says is "dit dou!" 

Linda Ann was saying awhile back that, for a time, he seemed to think that the worlds "please" and "thank you" meant that he should immediately get whatever he desired.  He thought of them more as magic words that translated into immediate gratification. 

But, he's learned that - especially "thank you" -- is an expression of gratitude.  And, when he says it, he really means it.  It's so sincere.  He's even incorporated "thank-yous" into his make believe.  We go through the drive-thru at Starbucks every once in awhile (really, not nearly as much as you'd expect -- we're pretty good about making coffee at home).  But, this week, the carafe of our coffee pot broke and so we were without a coffee maker for the latter half of the week (we now have a new coffee maker -- it turns out that I hated that coffee maker anyway and the carafe was a good excuse to buy ANOTHER coffee maker.  Man, we've been through a lot of those. How hard is it to make a good coffee maker?!?!?)  Anyway, we went through the drive-thru at Starbucks a few days in a row because of the coffee maker fiasco.  And, we also had Alden with us because he's been waking up at 5:30 AM and so we've been ready to go by 7 AM lately (even though we don't have child care until 8 AM!)

On Friday, when we were going through the drive-thru, Kailey shouts from the back seat, "Alden is doing it!"  And, indeed, Alden was talking to his window, pretending to hand money out the window and then accepting something back through his window and shouting, "DIT DOU!" before pretending to take a sip.  It was hilarious.  Thank you!  Even in his pretend play. 

While I was writing this, Alden just came over to me and said, "lap" and pointed at my lap where my computer is sitting, clearly wanting to take the spot of the computer and cuddle in.  I, of course, let him.  He's such a snuggle bug. 

I love you so much, Mr. Alden!!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Heading Into Summer

Although the weather has not been as hot this year as the previous two years that we've been in Sacramento, it definitely feels like summer is upon us.   We're in the mad dash that accompanies the end of the school year.  And, this year, it's also a transition time for us because our time with our nanny, Linda Ann, is coming to an end and Alden will be transitioning to his Montessori school starting in July. 

We've been transitioning to the summer way of life the last few weeks -- spending weekends on bike rides, barbequing with friends, going to the county fair, heading to our neighborhood pool on the days that creep over 100 degrees, and taking day trips to the river or zoo, playing in our garden and harvesting our tomatoes, making pies and other summer treats, and enjoying each other's company.

Alden has really been enjoying our adventures.  It's amazing what a difference a year makes.  Alden now really understands everything that is going on around him.  He wants to be part of the action and participating in all the activities.  One of his favorite new phrases is, "my turn!"  And he demands to have a turn with every activity.  He was SO excited to be able to ride the rides at the county fair, and Kai -- being the amazing big sister she always is -- was happy to ride along with him, drumming up his excitement and making a big deal about the cars and ladybugs that do nothing but go round in circles. 

Alden also is able to anticipate activities.  When we were out exploring various spots on the North Fork of the American River recently, Alden was getting extremely restless in the car.  We were on a somewhat treacherous road with many deep pot holes and a cliff (with no guard rail) on one side of the winding and steep path.  It was a bit concerning, and difficult to navigate with a shouting, yelling, whining toddler in the back.  We told him to be quiet and he yelled, "NOOOOO!" with all his two year old might.  Then I asked him if he wanted more orange juice (we had stopped earlier in the day and got "bug juice" which is essentially Kool-Aid and Kai had gotten the blue flavor and Alden the orange flavor), he considered this for a moment and then said, "Blue.  Me blue."  I asked him if he wanted the blue juice and he said, "YESSS!"  I told him to look outside and asked him if he saw a store.  He looked and confirmed that there was no store.  So then I told him that he needed to be quiet until he saw the store -- and if he was quiet until he saw the store then he could have blue juice at the store.  We still had a good 20 minutes of driving before we'd get there, so I was pretty sure this wasn't going to work for more than 5 minutes.  But, he got really quiet.  About 5 minutes later, he started to whine softly and I said, "Alden, if you whine, no blue juice."  He grew quiet again, scanning outside to see if we were any closer to a store.  At one point, he pointed outside at some trees and clouds and yelled, "ORE! ORE!" pretending to see the store.  I said, "Alden, that's a tree.  Not a store."  He smiled mischievously.  But, somehow, it worked.  We pulled up to the store eventually and Eric asked if I should just run in or if they should all get out.  I was already mostly out of the car, as was Kailey, and I said, "go ahead and park and come in."  Alden did not totally understand what was going on -- he just knew that Kai and I were out of the car at the place with the juice while he was still in the car, and he lost his mind.  Eric said he was screaming his head off while he parked. I was in the store looking at the juice case when Alden came tearing into the store with a deranged look in his eyes while he tore around the corner to where I was standing, huffing and puffing and pointing at the juice while shouting, "ME.  JUICE.  BLUE.  ME."  It was hilarious.  It was also so impressive that he managed to stop whining for 20 minutes, earning himself that precious blue juice.

It is going to be a fun summer.  Alden and Kai enjoy playing with each other so much -- and she is so good about including him in activities.  I think he is going to love being in school.  And, Kai has an impressive line up of camps and other fun activities.  My goal is to write at least a weekly update of our adventures -- but, for now, here are the pictures for our lead-up to a summer of fun: