Thursday, April 30, 2009

We Love This Dog



Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Carry Me You Will


Most nights when we tell the kids it's time for bed, Ella asks to be carried to bed "like a princess" (picture a bride being carried across the threshold). Like clockwork, Jack then requests to be carried to bed "like a prince", which strangely enough resembles the princess carry. The past few nights, however, Jack's request has changed. He now asks to be carried to bed "like Yoda" (picture Yoda gliding on his little hover craft through the halls of Jedi headquarters). Man, I really do hope he doesn't start talking like the little green guy!

They Grow Up So Fast



Last Thursday night we attended Beginners' Day for all rising kindergarteners at our elementary school. We watched a movie created by a 5th grader highlighting what this year's kindergarteners get to do each day, the special programs available to them, and what they have accomplished. When the kindergarten teachers called the kids wearing their bear color (Ella was given an orange bear to pin to her shirt when we arrived), Ella was so excited to line up she nearly knocked over a few dads. Ella went to a kindergarten class for stories, songs, coloring, and a snack. While the kids were experiencing life as a kindergartener, we parents listened to talks from the school nurse, teachers, the principal, and other administrators. Some of the presentations were on requirements and rules (it's kind of scary how once your kid enters school the law dictates their attendance requirements...I'm already losing my control...), but the principal spoke to our true concerns. She noted that the majority of us there that night were sending their first child off to school in the Fall and then read us an essay regarding a parent's desire to ensure each teacher sees how special her child is. The essay talks about how hard that first day of school is for the parent and stresses the importance of caring in a teacher's repetoire. The principal then went on to talk about how the benefit of opening a new school is that she had the opportunity to hand-select all of her teachers. She looked for that "element of caring" in each of her teachers. We were able to see that first hand that night with all of the kindergarten teachers we met. When I picked Ella up from her class, she was sitting in "her" teacher's lap and did not want to leave. The whole night I had to fight back the tears. Ella is exuberantly ready to head off to kindergarten....but I'm not ready to let her.

The Transfer of a Trust
by Susan Wojciechowski

The realization has finally hit me – my child is starting kindergarten. The syndrome hits me every year just when school is starting. It’s always the same. At 7:00am, the school bus whizzes to a stop at the end of my driveway. My child waves an uncertain goodbye and climbs aboard. The door whooshes shut and the bus rumbles slowly out of sight.
I go back on the porch for another cup of tea, a peaceful cup at last. I spread the paper open in front of me and start to cry.
I snap the paper to attention and pretend to read. My tears blur the words into a muddy jumble. This is nonsense. I should be glad school is back in session. No more sticky kitchen floor, no more sliding door left open, no more trail of Kool-Aid across the rug.
It’s no use. I want to jump in the car and follow the bus to school. I want to peek around the corner of the building to make sure my baby has found the right classroom, has not gotten knocked over by bullies, has remembered to carry her lunch box off the bus.
But more than that, I want to glimpse into her classroom. I have no need to check the bulletin boards or the lesson plans. I want to look into the teacher’s soul. I want to find some hint of assurance that she is worthy to continue what I have these past years begun.
For, when each of my children turned 5, they were suddenly snatched from me. I had, up till then, been the overwhelming influence on their development. Their values were my values, their world was shaped by what I wanted them to see, hear, experience. All at once a teacher, stranger was taking my place.
And so, I cry on the first day of school. I cry because my child is entering a world into which I cannot, no matter how desperately I long to, intrude. I cry because some stranger is taking over the job, not of teaching my child math or reading, but of nurturing his development of self. And I wonder if she’ll do it with the dedication I demand.
Each September I fight an overwhelming urge to rush to school to remind the teacher what a very special little person my child is; that he is not just one of a roomful of pupils – he is MY CHILD, would she please, please treat him accordingly. Would she be so kind as to try to get to know his/her complex personality, his/her weaknesses. Would she try never to humiliate him or belittle him; would she notice his bad days and on those days treat him ever so gently because he is, after all, not just one of a sea of little bodies – he is special. He’s mine.
But of course I can’t do that, can’t dictate caring to every teacher my children will encounter. I can only hope that each one of them will know that for all the fantastic educational tools a teacher might use and for all her mastery of subject matter and exciting lesson plans, and for all her intelligence, her most basic responsibility will be unfulfilled if the element of caring is missing. And the key to that, in my mind, lies in seeing each pupil as somebody’s precious child.
So I sit on my back porch, drinking a peaceful cup of tea and pretending to read and hope that my children’s teachers see them as unique, complex, fragile, vulnerable beings. I can only hope that the reason they are teachers after all, is to bring each student ever closer to his potential, not just as a mind, but as a heart and soul as well.

And, speaking of growing up fast and getting ready to fly, our chicks look like birds now and we often find them flapping away in the nest.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Feelin' the Force

"The Force is with me."


"No, the Force is with me." And so the battle ensues....

Brooke's Magic

Our friend Brooke Brown has the incredible ability to capture our children's souls with her camera. Thanks for sharing your talents with us, Brooke!






Sunday, April 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Noah!



Thanks for having us at your awesome party! Sprinklers, jumpy, cake, and great friends--definitely a 4th birthday party worthy of your coolness.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Messy Artists

Today I took the kids to the Mint Museum of Art for another art class together. Ella really loves these classes but Jack wasn't quite so won over last time. In order to get Jack more involved this time, I specifically chose this month's class for us because it was called "Squiggles, Stripes & Splatters!". Jack is the self-proclaimed artist of "messy things". Sometimes he implies that his "messy things" style means that he is not artistic. I loved having this opportunity to show him that his unique style is art--we celebrated "messy" art by viewing and being inspired by artwork of Joan Miró, Jean Dubuffet, and Jackson Pollock. This point might have been lost on him (too absorbed in the mess-making and snack-eating to have an epiphany, I suppose), but we all had fun nonetheless. Even Ella, who loves to color inside the lines and draw things as they appear to her, dug this kind of modern art.
example sculpture by Dubuffet
We did some automatic drawing on paper--we painted lines on the paper, careful not to pick our markers up until a song we were singing was over. Then, we painted some styrofoam "sculptures" á la Jean Dubuffet with black lines and red and blue stripes. After snack, it was outside for some Jackson Pollock inspired splatter paintings. Messy, indeed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Adventures of Curious George


Ella brought Curious George home from school on Friday. This "class pet" had been passed from kid to kid for over three months (and I'd heard about it from Ella for over three months) and it was finally her turn to monkey-sit for the weekend. Ella was so excited about this that she was singing a song about it as her teacher walked her from the classroom to my car when I picked her up on Friday. George joined us on all of our adventures this weekend, including going to Kids in Motion, tagging along for Sunday School, and joining us for our bike ride today in Freedom Park. Ella took such good care of him, making him a bed each night and sharing her food with him at each meal, that she's now convinced that she could take care of her very own pet. We're definitely not thinking dog and, although Jack wished on a star on Friday night for a hamster again, we think we're still too young for hamsters. A fish, however, might be in our future...although, that definitely wouldn't allow for the kind of adventures we've had with George this weekend.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bird Watchers


I keep trying to catch a picture of all of the baby birds with their beaks open, but of course Mama bird is always close by with a meal when that is happening. It is amazing how quickly these birds are growing. Their beaks and eyes are developing by the day! Anyone want to come over and do some bird watching with us?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

I never thought I'd be so happy to see a package from Amazon.com on my mailbox. Oh happy day--my new camera battery arrived today! Boy did I miss my digital SLR.


"Why did you take away the color? I like colors." Just having a little fun, Ella, seeing how much I can make your freckles stand out.

Kids (and Parents) in Motion

Posted by Jonathan

Today was the Junior League’s annual “Kids In Motion” fund raising event for their Healthy Child Initiative. The money raised today will help benefit children in Charlotte who are in need of medical, dental, and mental health care. Trish has volunteered at this event for the past four years – and I’m amazed at the power of this organization to raise some serious dollars to help local health care efforts.

Since Trish was tied up in a soda / popcorn / cotton candy booth all morning, the kids and I got to enjoy all the booths and activities that Kids In Motion had to offer. So, you’ve got a guest blogger for today.

We met Smokey the Bear, toured tons of vehicles (a fire truck, a police car, an ambulance, the Girl Scout bus, and a real NASCAR race car), and did a few art projects, including making some pinwheels. One of the day’s highlights was meeting the creator of Professor Pocket, a series of CDs, that Ella and Jack love, designed to teach Spanish to children. Of course, dancing with Professor Pocket on stage can work up an appetite, so we topped the trip off with rainbow colored ice cream. Thankfully, Mom understands the draw of blue, yellow, and pink ice cream and wasn’t too disappointed that we didn’t buy our treat from her booth.

We saw so many friends there today. Thanks to all for coming – it was all for a great cause!
p.s. Ella's new friend, Curious George, is her class pet that is sleeping over for the weekend. He goes on all of our adventures this weekend with us and we'll write a journal about it before we return him to her class on Tuesday. Ella's taking very good care of George.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dinner Interrupted

Jonathan and I were out tonight for a "parent's night out" at a nice restaurant. A few tables away from us a couple was out with their 2-month old baby. The baby squawked a few times (we've heard worse) so the daddy took her outside. I related to the mom's NEED to return to society so we weren't disturbed at all by this interruption of our "adult-only" night. It really brought back some memories for us--one in particular, actually. When Jack was about 2 months old, and still refusing any bottles, we went out for a dinner, a break from the routine I so desperately needed. After we ordered, what was a sweet and calm baby boy turned into a little baby demon (red face, purple eyebrows, screams). Jonathan took him outside. I kept waiting for the boys to return for dinner but Ella and I ended up eating our entire meals and then getting Jonathan's to go. We met them outside to find out that Jack was still screaming over 30 minutes later. Passers-by had actually offered to run in to a nearby Eckerd to buy him a pacifier...but, of course, Jack didn't take pacifiers... Needless to say, Jonathan still has an aversion to that restaurant.

After reminiscing on that memory (that we can laugh about now) we got a real kick out of thinking about something Jack said to us a few weeks ago. He said, "Ya' know, I didn't really like being a baby." We said, "Yeah, Jack, we know, we know."

We love you, Jack. And we're very glad you like being a sweet big boy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chicks, Man...


The morning after our last post on our bird's nest in our front door wreath, two more eggs appeared for a total of five. Yesterday morning we awoke to the wonderful surprise of a nest full of baby birdies. Whenever we notice that mama bird is out of the nest, we take the opportunity to check in on the little chicks. How wonderful it is to have front-row seats for this miracle of life.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

The Easter Bunny came to our house last night and filled Ella's and Jack's baskets full of toys, puzzles, stickers, and goodies. And, there were eggs hidden all over our backyard. What fun the kids had finding all of them! I think I'll be getting my Easter gift of a new battery for my camera in a few days--after diligently charging the battery last night in preparation of this glorious photo op (beautiful weather, dressed up kids...), I promptly dropped the battery in my rush to load it into my DSLR. So, back to the old point-and-shoot for a few days. One little fall and the battery's as dead as my hopes for awesome Easter pictures. I suppose we'll manage, but I do miss those close ups.





Saturday, April 11, 2009

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away


Jack's predilection for Star Wars has gone beyond obsession these days. He plays Star Wars scenarios all day, every day with any toy he can get his hands on. His new light saber of choice is an old wooden-handled spatula. His knights have been Star Wars characters, his beloved Transformers have now become Star Wars characters, and even big Zurg and little Zurg are now Jango and Boba Fett. And he is constantly role-playing Star Wars. Sometimes Jack won't respond unless we call him Yoda. Ella refuses to play most times, so I'm either Padme, Asoka, or Princess Leah...which can be fun when Jonathan gets to be Hans Solo ;-).

When Jonathan called Jack out on this fixation of his, I suppose the response wasn't too surprising.

Jonathan: Jack, you're obsessed!

Jack: No, I'm Yoda.

The Best of Both Worlds?

We sent Ella off to an all girls party today and got back Hannah Montana!
Tap. Tap. Tap. "Is this thing on?"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Eggstravaganza

It's Easter egg decorating time! First, we made some Easter artwork for the Easter Bunny and then we got to dying and painting eggs. And, for the third year running, Jack will have a blue-dyed hand for Easter.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

SUPER Slide

The Browns got a super-fun new slide (although I think there was more jumping going on than sliding) and they invited us over to help them break it in. Of course, even without the large primary-colored distraction, it's always a good time with these good friends. Check out Brooke's blog to see more of the fun, including Jack trying to eat some dead worms, and some great pictures of the kids.

Jack's holding on tight to a buddy that Noah ran in to his room to get for Jack--so sweet.


Miles looks surprisingly calm as the wild-haired creature climbed up to get him.

Ella got such a kick out this picture. "Hilarious!", as Brooke says.

When you're the best of friends, it doesn't take much to have a good time.

Great Day for a Picnic

Ella, Jack, and I took advantage of the terrific weather, and the time off from school, to enjoy a midday playdate of a picnic and some play time. Ella and Jack truly relish the time we spend with Baden and Ilse. I'm already worried about next year when Baden and Ella start kindergarten at different schools, with different schedules, how we'll find the time to continue to nurture this very special relationship.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sweetheart

After dinner tonight Jack got to pick a piece of candy for dessert from his bag of leftover treats from parties and holidays. He chose some sweethearts, leftover from Valentine's Day no less. Jack always enforces the "rule" that sweethearts must be read before consumed.

Jack: What does it say?
Jonathan: It says 'Love Her'.
Jack: That means love mommy.

I just didn't want to forget my little sweetheart moment.

Fiesta Time!

Unsure about the rain this morning, we cancelled a trip to the zoo and headed over to an indoor playground we'd heard about from friends in a place called Plaza Fiesta. I have never seen such a big indoor play area. It was 6 stories tall! We went with Brooke and her boys and all of the kids were just beside themselves in awe. It was fun to watch them slide down one after another after another after another, and then all climb back up together. By the time they came down for lunch they were all little sweat mongers. Just a few hours of climbing, sliding, and playing in that setup and they were worn out enough for a 7:30pm bedtime (after a very thorough bath, of course).