Tuesday, June 07, 2011

6/7/2011 LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!

School's OUT! Half-day, everyone dismissed after watching movies and loading up on candy, pretty much a continuation of the party theme of last week also. Honestly, why do we fret so much about 5 furlough days and a shortened school year? It seems like the whole last week and a half of school is a total waste anyway.

I took the day off partly because I had to (CDC closed today) but mostly because I wanted to. I spent the morning making phone calls to wrap up my father's affairs, then went for an unusually awesome run at Rancho San Antonio, one of my favorite places in the world. I got home just in time to finish my teacher thank-you cards, quick shower, zoom to school.

I really wanted to thank the boys' teachers profusely, since they both really went way out of their way to help us with them this year. Lots of extra effort, time, ideas, communication, and we really appreciated it.

Gabriel in particular has had the same teacher for the past 2 years, and we're really going to miss her. Not every teacher would tolerate his shenanigans the way she did, but she also saw his strengths and really tried to cultivate them. He says she's a "nice strict."

After school, we had lunch at home and then I took the boys to Inside Line Racing, an indoor remote-control car place at a nearby mall. My skin crawled at being inside a mall on such a nice day, but it was fun running the cars. The boys loved it.

We picked up Katrina a little early, where another teacher managed to get a photo of them in their "varsity" T-shirts. I didn't take the photo; I'm no expert photographer but I'd have moved to get rid of reflections in the background and fix the sun-on-the-camera problem. Still, the poses are delightful.

At home, the most marvelous scene developed: Julian playing "wall ball" against our neighbors' garage across the street, with our neighbors' two sons and another neighbors' two sons.

The two boys across the street are (as of today) in 3rd grade and kindergarten; the other two who live a few houses down are in 3rd and 1st grade. Also on our street and the adjacent court are a 1st-grade girl, a 2nd-grade girl, a 4th-grade girl, and two more kids in this age range who go to Collins.

Most have this: the ever-present non-English-speaking grandmother from the Old Country.

Katrina was also across the street, and I asked her how she got there. Though our street is very quiet (and WAY quieter now that our RV neighbors left), she knows she's not allowed to cross streets on her own.

Turns out, this is how.

She'd stand and holler for Julian to ferry her across, he'd stop his play and go get her! I disapprove of the running, but I'm glad they're following the important part of the rules (holding hands, looking).

I happened to catch the mom of the kids across the street, and actually met and talked to her. They've only been here, what, 2 years? It was time! She's terrific, and works at eBay. Like most of our newer neighbors, she's from China. She told me that their family and 4 others trade off picking up their kids from our school, then taking them to an after-school Mandarin academic learning center (there are zillions around here).

I asked her if she knew what went on two weeks ago with all the cops and firetrucks, a few days before the troublesome neighbors left, and she said she didn't know -- but two weeks prior, an iPad and a GPS were stolen out of her car! She knew exactly when, because they have a camera system that recorded her going out of their house carrying the equipment, then going back into her house to get something she'd forgotten, then coming back out again. (Unfortunately the camera was not pointed at the street so they couldn't see the activity in the car.) 24 seconds had elapsed, and her items were gone from her car. How awful!! I doubt it was the bad neighbors themselves, but they always had so many unsavory characters visiting and hanging around. She said that her husband wanted to move, but just in time, the patriarch of the parolees died, and his arguing sons sold the house and finally left.

We agreed that we should have a neighborhood party to welcome our new neighbors, a young Asian couple with a 14-month-old, though the woman apparently is a "native English speaker." We don't know yet when they're moving in, but we're encouraged by the (real) contractor trucks we've seen parked there.

I have a feeling we've underestimated how much our trashy neighbors brought the neighborhood down -- I think more than we really knew. With them gone, we might actually have the makings of a neighborhood. Now if only I knew Mandarin.

Congrats to the grads!


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