Saturday, December 11, 2010

12/11/2010 Tree-getting

Today we got our Christmas tree, but that hasn't been on my mind as much as Julian's "Heritage Figure" project. I hate these projects.

Next week is so busy that I asked his teacher to send it home this weekend with him, instead of Monday when the rest of the class will get them, so we could get a head start this weekend. Just what we want to be doing over the weekend when we're getting our Christmas tree and hosting a party: schoolwork.

Here's the project description, with a hand-written sample of what sort of things the kids would write.

Once again, the directive "Be Creative!" What pressure! Some of us just aren't! And, we should dress this figure together "as a family." Do they have any idea what it's like for us "as a family" on weeknights after we get home from work and CDC? OMG.

I know kids should be proud of their heritage and families and ancestors -- but not all can be. I tried to convince Julian to do an Irish farmer, since family rumor has it that my grandfather's grandparents came to the USA from Ireland during the Potato Famine. I described the story to him, but he wasn't very interested. And no wonder, by now we have no connection to that heritage.

I have to wonder how the emphasis on "heritage" and "passport to the USA" would play out in schools with primarily African-American children or children of illegal immigrants. It's a lot different when that heritage is recent, and primarily from affluent Asian families who came to the USA for a particular PhD program.

We fall somewhere in the middle; other than what little I know about my French heritage from my mother, I'm not very in touch with any of it. Dave's ancestors, what we know of them, assimilated centuries ago.

Aside from the challenge of the content, projects like this that kids can't do on their own are a serious pain for me. Maybe it's harder for us since our kids so far aren't great at doing them. Gabriel actually does well with writing, but anything that involves drawing or crafting take so much time and guidance from me -- from me! I'm no good at this either. Without my scrapbooking practice, I'd be completely lost. And Julian doesn't show much interest in the writing part.

Today, thanks to getting our tree, Kung Fu, and putting up lights and such, we didn't get anywhere on the school project, other than talking about it. Julian wants to do a kid with a USA T-shirt and wasn't taken by the Irish farmer idea.

It's always fun for kids to run around the tree lot.

It's never fun to stand for a photo! That isn't our tree, but the one we got is fairly similar. It wasn't hard at all to find a nice fluffy tree, which is now in our living room awaiting lights.

Party tomorrow! Finally, some sanity.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

12/9/2010 Dance Girl

Thanks Cousin Remi!

This dance dress came from her, and today, Remi's ballet slippers! As soon as she saw the ballet slippers, she ran upstairs to put on this dance dress. And the matching hair scrunchie around her stuffed kitty's neck.

At least today had one bright spot.


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

12/8/2010 Keeping up

Grocery-shopping, party-favor-shopping, class-candy-shopping -- I even filled up my car with gas. A productive evening, if not particularly relaxing.

At least I discovered a handy Web site to find snow parks:
California Sno-Parks. These seem more oriented toward snowmobilers than sledders, but there are areas for sledding and kid play. Many of the trails I rode on on the Sierra had signs for snowmobilers -- we might well end up on some of the same ones!

We'll see if we can pull off a one-day trip to sled and snow-play the week before Christmas. Life's stresses make those things all the more necessary.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

12/7/2010 To Dos

School is piling it one before the holiday break. It's just one thing after another that has to be sent in or prepared for.

I was feeling overwhelmed with everything that's due until I made a chronological list.

Now that I see it in writing, it doesn't seem like nearly as much. In fact, why don't I sign up for one of the Parent Cultural presentations or the book drive or the school holiday party? This definitely isn't enough for full-time working parents to keep up with, in addition to homework and keeping a household running and fed and maybe even giving my preschooler a glance from time to time.
Dec 8th 1st grade Adopt-a-family cash donation
Dec 9th 3rd grade Adopt-a-family cash donation
Dec 10th 3rd grade project due
Dec 10th 1st grade Potluck signup form due
Dec 10th 3rd grade Potluck signup form due
Dec 14th 3rd grade Recipe for Culture Study due
Dec 15th 3rd grade Bring in bag of colored candy
Dec 15th Make food for Multicultural potlucks
Dec 16th 1st grade Multicultural Potluck
Dec 16th 3rd grade Multicultural Potluck
Dec 16th Make muffins for Julian's class birthday party
Dec 17th 3rd grade Send gift for White Elephant exchange
Dec 17th 1st grade project due
Dec 17th 1st grade Julian's class birthday party
Dec 17th Preschool Holiday party

Weekend preparation:
Dec 11th:
Get and put up Christmas tree
Hang holiday lights
Get gift bags for Julian's party
Get a book for gift exchange for the party
Make Gabriel's recipe for Canada culture study
Make food for holiday party
Clean up house and prepare for holiday party

Dec 12th: Host Las Madres holiday party

One could argue that hosting the holiday party is the thing that could give, but why should the one fun thing that I actually want to do be dropped?

December 18th can't come soon enough.


Monday, December 06, 2010

12/6/2010 Belated Birthday

A parent sent me this photo today from Katrina's birthday party. The wide-eyed little girl watching has Katrina's exact birthday day.

This is why you never ask parents to take photos with their own cameras and send them along -- it takes forever. (In fairness, this particular photo was unsolicited and highly appreciated, but the point remains.)

I think Julian is OK with his birthday party being in his classroom this year, and only there. Somehow, every party has turned into a $300 affair, and times three kids that really adds up. Not to mention the potential for 3 parties per kid: class, friend, and family party on the actual day. Too much!

Julian will certainly get a family party on his actual birthday -- and of course with a home-baked cake. Hmm, which would be even more fun if we decorated together -- WHAT fun that would be, and what a fun mess we'd make, just me & him. But I can't say I'd be heartbroken to have his classmates as a captive audience in his classroom to do all the singing, mess-making, goody-bag-grabbing, and cupcake-eating in one handy convenient tidy afternoon. I'm just so overloaded all the time, it'd be nice to have this off my plate.

Julian comes home with goody-bag junk all the time from classmate birthday celebrations, so I know this is done frequently. I just don't know if the classroom parties replace home/friend parties. He hasn't been invited to an "offsite" birthday party yet, but has come home with at least 6 goody bags so far this year.

Besides, I need to save my planning time for some really great ideas I have for trips coming up....! As psyched as I am for our first ski trip in January, right now my mind is on Death Valley in April!!


Sunday, December 05, 2010

12/5/2010 Blue day

Memorial service for our friend Kari this afternoon. Actually, it was really nice to hear from so many people in different parts of his life how his personality, zeal, enthusiasm, and childlike abandon pervaded every activity he took up.

Bad headache day. Worse, vacations at work are over. Not mine, someone else's. My work life has been really quite pleasant the past 3 weeks. That will all change tomorrow.

But for tonight I can ponder how on earth it could be that someone with so much life and so many friends could be gone.