Tuesday, August 30, 2011

1st Grade and Preschool

Samantha started 1st Grade last week. She had a rough first day--I think it had to do with the guilt over the uneaten sandwich. By day 2 she was eager to go back--as if I was really worried. The first week was homework lite--only one math sheet which she can do in a few minutes. We're finally up to at least 25 minutes. Thank goodness.

I am one of those mothers who thinks that homework should be challenging, even at first grade. Last year, as the end of the school year was near, Samantha's homework was severely inadequate. She was through it so fast I wondered why the teacher even bothered.

This week Samantha received a reading log, much like last year, and is expected to read or be read to 20 minutes each day. She wanted to read me easy books for 20 minutes. Instead I made her take out one of her more challenging books and read to me. Begrudgingly she chose a Baby-Sitters book (earlier years of the Baby-Sitters Club that was popular when I was a preteen). She's read me at least 2 chapters each day. Meany, huh?

Alyssa started preschool today. She had lunch by 10:30 and was dressed by 11. School started at 12. She was so excited she wanted to help Daddy prepare her lunch. She was upset before we left when she discovered that I did not make her a sandwich or a pig-in-a-blanket. She thought she was going to get a second lunch. It took a few minutes to convince her that she wasn't going to be that hungry before she let me zip up the raisin/peanuts and the grapes.

We found her cubby, put her stuff away, and then she turned to me and asked, "Can I go play now?" She was so ready! I told her I was going to leave and go back to work. For about 20 seconds she looked like she was worried and then she asked, "Can I stay and play with Mrs. Higgins?" Once I said yes, she was ready for me to leave.

When I went to pick her up she ran out and said, "I had sooo much fun!"

It really is so much easier with the second one. I had to smile when I saw another mom wiping her tears as she left her baby behind.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Roughin' It

I finally got to take a vacation--I can be a workaholic if I let myself. So after my boss told me I needed a vacation I dug my heels in. I have felt the need lately to be surrounded by redwoods, needing the earthy smell of dirt and wildflowers and the soft sounds of pine needles in the afternoon breeze. So I booked us (everything is ONLINE!) three nights in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. Only 3.5 hours from our house, there is really no excuse not to visit more often.

Al and I knew it would be an interesting trip because this was the first time Alyssa would be sleeping in a sleeping bag, not in a playpen. The girls were so excited that first night.  Alyssa was jumping from air mattress to air mattress. And she did cry and it took us 1.5 to 2 hours to get her back to sleep. She was scared of the dark and the forest noises. But I pulled her air mattress next to mine and held her hand until she fell asleep. When she woke up she felt like a big girl for surviving the night.

Al and I haven't been to this park since 2000 and it feels like a lot has changed. I've never stayed in Sequoia, always in Kings Canyon, so this was a new experience for me as well.

General Sherman Tree
We took only two hikes while there, but there is a lot of driving involved since the roads are slow, windy, and most are undergoing some kind of repair. Plus the kids aren't used to hiking so some of the climbing seemed too much for them. We hiked to General Sherman, the world's largest tree, and the Big Trees trail, which is a loop around a meadow surrounded by Giant Sequoia trees. In the five or so times I've been to the park, the Big Trees trail has to be the most amazing trail I've ever taken. It was self-guided and was filled with the ecology of the Sequoia trees. They are truly beautiful and amazing.

Big Trees Trail

We always visit the Visitor's Center in any NP, but this time I asked about the Junior Ranger Program. Kevin and I did that at Zion NP when we were kids. It is one of the most memorable experiences of my life. We spent a week in "classes" with a Park Ranger learning about the environment, animals, plants, etc. at Zion. We were so proud of our earned badges. So when we were at Sequoia I asked about the JR Program. Samantha picked up a booklet and she completed her jobs to earn her badge.

Samantha had to take a hike and tell what she learned. She had to show what is right and wrong about park behavior, i.e., we don't feed bears, dogs are always on a leash, and we don't scratch our initials on trees. She also had to tell what things she'd seen. Her final task was to collect garbage around her campground or on a trail and bring it to the park ranger. She was so excited.

As we were leaving we stopped at the Kings Canyon Visitor Center and she turned in her booklet. She raised her right hand and promised to protect the park, to continue to learn about the park and all other national parks, and to teach others about the park. She got her badge and proudly wore it all the way home.

On the way home she said she wanted to live in Sequoia like the other park rangers when she grows up. Ah, a beautiful dream--I used to share the same one and still do, sometimes. I think it would be an awesome retirement to be a Park Ranger.

The girls were sad to come home, but considering how successful this trip was I am sure we'll be going back really soon.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Porcupine Therapy

I had my first acupuncture treatment today at 7 am, an hour drive from my house. I was alert (thankfully) and ready for some relief from my persistent migraines. Luckily I was in one of those migraines when I made the appointment. I had also noted that my ankles had been hurting again, but that it was likely due to my lack of exercise.

I got a needle in my head for the migraines, one in each arm above the elbow, one in each cheek next to my lip, and one in each ankle. I didn't really feel the ones in my face or head, but the ones in my ankles were somewhat painful. At first everything felt okay, but then the Dr. came in to manipulate the ones in my ankles to break up "the blockage." I was having a hard time relaxing after the manipulation so I started humming "Om." It worked at calming me and focusing my attention from the pain in my ankle--think a cramp in the arch and toes.

The Dr. described the body as an X and so the left ankle corresponds to the right arm and vice versa. This was certainly true when the ankle pain went away--I felt the muscles in my right shoulder relax and then my foot was fine.

I can't wait to see what next week will be like. I find ancient Chinese medicine fascinating.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lagging behind

I've been seriously lagging behind my grand plans. Samantha's desk and chair are still in their original ugly state and I haven't even begun to sand off the old paint. It's probably just as well considering I haven't got any spray paint on hand and the local hardware store always seems to be out of white spray paint.

I also (blame this one on my mom) got into an artwork project for my bedroom--vintage typewriter keys. We (Mom and I) found the tutorial on a website and I just couldn't resist: http://www.acharmingnest.com/2011/06/diy-pottery-barn-knock-off-vintage-keys.html Anything to do with letters, ampersand included (&), and I'm bound to want to put it in my house somewhere. It goes with that whole love of books and writing thing I've got going on. I've got most of the letters done and the numbers are next. I think it's really neat.

We'll probably use it to torture Alyssa--gotta memorize those letters kid!

School is almost here and the girls are excited. I am too. It means there will be hours of silence in the house and no more daddy daycare! Our calendar is already filling up fast and that doesn't even include ballet yet.

Cheers for the last two weeks of summer vacation! Enjoy.