Saturday, June 18, 2011

6/18/2011 Jake's beach birthday

Anyone who has our annual calendar will see that June's photos are all taken on the beach.

Last year, those photos were all taken at Julian's friend Jake's birthday party in Rio Del Mar, just south of Santa Cruz, less than an hours' drive from home. This is the only birthday party in which I'm happy to attend for the whole party!

Jake's mom and I made friends when we were waiting to drop off our new kindergartners (Jake and Julian) at school, and have stayed in loose touch since. Jake and Julian weren't in the same kindergarten or 1st-grade class, but we're holding out hope for 2nd grade!

The weatherman once again predicted cold and foggy -- GEE that's a leap in Santa Cruz in June -- but he was wrong once again, and the fog burned off early to reveal a sunny, beautiful day.

Gabriel and Julian wasted no time filling the water guns.

Katrina was reluctant to go into the water at first, saying she was afraid and that it'd be cold.

I persuaded her to get closer to the water, but it took the help of a brother to get her into the water.

The surf is unpredictable, and it caught both of us off-guard. I got soaked taking this photo, and Katrina got knocked over by the wave and shrieked in terror.

I quickly grabbed her and picked her up to a stand, still screaming in shock. But as soon as she was standing, she changed completely: "That was FUN!!" And after that, I couldn't get her out of the water.

Katrina ran around the water for most of the time we were at the beach, running into the water, running away from it. Twice I had to chase her down the beach as she drifted farther and farther away. I told her to stay near a lifeguard station with a big number 7 on it near us that could be seen from a distance, and she did.

Long after the boys gave up on the cold water, Katrina was still running in and out of it. I'd never seen her run so much! But eventually she was so cold she could barely move her fingers. Her lips were blue and she was covered in goosebumps. I wrapped her up to warm her up.

Moments later, she was right back at it. She refused to put on more clothes or stay on the sand where it was warmer, she was having SO much fun running in and out of the surf.

Meantime, the boys had teamed up with the birthday boy, Jake, and were busy on a major digging project. Jake's Dad is an experienced beachgoer, and he brings a serious shovel and digs a huge hole for the kids as soon as they arrive. He knows what he's doing, because something as simple as a huge hole is a huge hit. The boys spent the better part of the day digging more into the hole and bringing buckets of water to make a "river" into the hole.

I had a great time chatting with Jake's mom and other parents I'd met last year. Dad took the opportunity for a motorcycle ride and stopped by, to Katrina's delight.

As is always the case, we were among the last to leave. It took a good 40 minutes to get everything packed up and everyone de-sanded and ready to go. I had a rare opportunity for a photo-op, but had to promise them birthday cake for that (birthday cake and candles aren't practical on the beach).

I paid up though -- a trip to Whole Foods where they all picked their own "birthday cakes."

Beach days are tiring! The drive back was unusually quiet.

What a great way to start the summer!!


Friday, June 17, 2011

6/17/2011 Rose Blossom

Katrina...what a funny little thing she is.

Picking kids up this week has been crazy because they're all 3 in different places. I pick Katrina up first at preschool, then Gabriel at our usual CDC, then Julian at a YMCA daycamp where he took Martial Arts for a week (and he loved it). Despite this craziness, having the boys apart has been great for everyone. What a relief not getting behavior reports from teachers or camp counselors every day.

On the way to pick up Julian, which is farther than usual and along a new route, Katrina's been making a game of calling aloud names on street signs, and showing that she knows all their abbreviations, like "Rd" is Road, "Dr" is Drive, "Wy" is Way, etc. And sometimes she make a joke or laughs at a particular street name.

One sign that caught her eye a few days ago was Rose Blossom Drive. "Rose Blossom!" she called out, "That's my new name!!" And so, she's now Rose Blossom.

Rifling through this week's preschool work, I couldn't believe it when I saw the Name on this worksheet.

At least 3 of her worksheets, she'd put her name down as Rose Blossom!! Mis-spelled, but I can forgive a 4-3/4yo for that.

Other worksheets, she used her real name however. This worksheet caught my eye because it asks kids to write a sentence -- a sentence! These are preschoolers! This worksheet shows in the lower left corner that it's technically for Grade 1.

That's Cupertino for you. It's not just Katrina; her whole pre-K class is doing first-grade level work. Meantime other parts of California -- heck, even nearby in San Jose -- are struggling with getting kids up to par in just the basics. I hate it when teachers are criticized for "failing schools"; I think most teachers are very committed. It's families and parents that have the most to do with kids' success in school. Cupertino preschoolers are doing first-grade level work because of their parents -- even skeptical/lazy/apathetic ones like us who don't directly supplement their education at home. Our preschooler is writing sentences and doing basic subtraction without flashcards or tutoring or "educational" anything, and I think that's mostly because of her general environment at home.

Wherever she gets it, I love that Miss Rose Blossom's education opens the world up to her -- it means that she can read street signs, process what they mean, and be able to write a name down as her own and make a game of it.

Speaking of education, one thing I've finally learned: don't even bother putting away my "marking station" when the summer starts or when school starts! Every day it seems I have another item of clothing, towel, water bottle, whatever, to label. I have a whole kit of iron-on name labels, labels with no printed name that I can write on, and heavy-duty stickers for things like swim goggles. Good grief!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

6/16/2011 Short-timer

It's like I have senioritis. Though I have a zillion things to finish up at work before taking over a week off starting next week, part of me is already there!

AND, only FIVE more days of preschool!!! Ever!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

6/15/2011 Lemonade and broccoli

I don't know what got into her, but Katrina really really wanted to make lemonade tonight. Though it was hectic also preparing dinner, I said, OK!

So I taught her how to slice and squeeze a lemon, mix in the sugar, and add the water. It came out light and a little sour, but she was very proud of herself.

The only trouble was keeping Julian out of the way -- he butted into every step. I found a way to keep him occupied and involved though, and he really did help, by floret-ing tonight's broccoli.

I like my kitchen help!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

6/14/2011 Great day x 3

Gabriel had a great day at the CDC camp, his teachers gushed. It's like they'd never seen this side of him. "So helpful, loved making sand castles, and he likes to cook!"

Julian had a great day at the Y martial arts camp, he gushed. He talks about the stances and sequences he learned, and was so happy to come home with a new Tae Kwon Do uniform.

Katrina almost always has a great day at her preschool, and today was no different. Happy, cheerful, full of funny little comments and pointed remarks.

And people want to shorten summer vacation?! NO WAY!!


Monday, June 13, 2011

6/13/2011 Three's not a crowd

Dispersed! All 3 kids in different locations the next 2 weeks.

This week, Gabriel is at the CDC, Julian is at Martial Arts daycamp at the Y, and Katrina is still in preschool. Logistical nightmare for dropoffs and pickups.

But what a timesaver in listening to the boys' issues together at the CDC from the teachers, and their nonstop complaints about each other later!! Gabriel was happily busy with a Perplexus when I picked him up, and Julian had a grand time talking about the Tae Kwon Do moves he learned today, comparing to Kung Fu. What a relief!!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

6/12/2011 Bike weekend

The boys had Wheel Day at the CDC Friday. Since I was driving Dave's car, we figured this was the best way to get the bikes home.

Walking across streets of course.

Today, Sunday, our longtime moto-friends stopped by with their son Saul, who's 10 weeks older than Katrina. Charles has had his eye on Dave's old Moto Morini motorcycle for years, and I've had my eye on the space in the garage it's been taking up for more years. Charles bought Dave's bike, Sara and I had a chance to catch up, and Saul played with Katrina and the boys on and off. Very nice.

Sigh...someday again for myself too!