Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kindergarten - days 2 and 3

I don't plan on chronicling every single day of Lucas' school life, but bear with me...

Lucas continues to love his school. This has been such a huge relief for us, as we remember how it used to take Lucas a long time to warm up to new things, and the going was never easy.

I think back to the school tours, open houses, and other pre-admissions events for all these schools, and the one thing that stood out about this school was that they really emphasized how from day one they foster and promote a shared sense of community and respect. And it really shows, even with just 3 days under our belt.

- I was waiting for Lucas after school and a few of the older kids were walking by. One boy said to the other, "It's pretty fun to have a whole new group of kindergarteners here." And one of the girls said, "Yeah, did you see how cute they are?" It was really nice to hear that. I'm sure there will be issues, but at least on day three, they felt a sense of responsibility toward the littler ones.

- When Lucas' friend was on one of the Flying Turtles and fell off face first, immediately one of the school plans went into effect. The older kids with him shot up their arms and yelled, "He's hurt! I don't know his name, but he's hurt!" And two of the after school teachers went over to see how he was (he survived the Flying Turtle incident with just a few scrapes).

- The one hard part about this school is that it's hard to drag Lucas away. When I went to pick him up the other day he just kept playing. The after school director went up to him and essentially said, "We all manage this program together. One of the biggest rules is that you need to listen to other kids, the teachers, and your parents. That's why the after school program works so well and that's why we get to have fun here." Then he asked Lucas repeat it back to him and we were on our way.

- Aside from the Flying Turtles, the other most-coveted items are the bottom boards. They're little skateboards that they ride on, sitting on their bottoms. They can ride down this little ramp (see above), or tie ropes to them and pull each other around on the black-top. One of the other things about after school is that the older kids teach the younger kids how to do things, instead of the teachers doing it. Lucas tried the b-board on day one, but was very cautious and mostly kind of scooted down the ramp. But by day 3, he had mastered it with the help of his coach, who's standing off to the side.

On Friday morning parents were invited to stay for the morning all-school assembly to raise the flags. The 4th graders are in charge of raising the flags every day, but this was the first time this year. The 4th grade teacher talked about the flags, but what I thought was nice, was that she started with a world view, with a school alum singing the "World Anthem", she had an amazing voice and I got the chills. Fresh from watching a lot of the speeches from the Democratic National Convention, I was feeling especially patriotic. Then all the kids sang "This Land is Your Land" and I got downright weepy.

Then when I picked up Lucas yesterday afternoon, I saw pieces of paper taped up along the main corridor. Here's one of the signs.
The rest were more general, "Go Obama", "Vote for Obama", "Obama for Change". You gotta love living in the Bay Area.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

1st day of kindergarten!!!

(This is a long post, so if you just want the synopsis - Lucas loved everything about school! Yay)

I'll start with the day before K, which was Tuesday.

We went to a kindergarten get-together at a local park the day before school with his future classmates and their teachers. Even on the drive over there, thoughts were bent toward the first day of school, "Will I have fun at my new school? What if I don't like the teachers?" Once we got there we introduced Lucas to his teachers. And we all, parents included, sat down in a big circle time. Kevin and I were surprised when Lucas raised his hand during circle time to ask a question. "Will we have circle time at school?" The teachers assured him that they would have not one, but two circle times a day. At the end of circle time the teachers gathered the kids around to read a book about a kid who is getting ready to go to kindergarten (surprise!).
After the book, the kids went running wild throughout the park. I introduced Lucas to a boy who, rumor had it, loves LEGOS and Star Wars as much as Lucas. And immediately they were off and running. Lucas' new buddy invited us (actually he really invited Lucas) to dinner with him. So we hit Rubio's with Lucas' new found buddy and his family, plus another incoming kindergarten family.It was hard for Lucas to tear himself away from his new buddy, but we finally tore those two apart. Lucas talking on the way home about organizing a play date, etc.

Lucas awoke the next morning with some extra energy, which I account for as nervous energy. He got dressed in his school t-shirt and expressed his energy with a long string of potty talk. We told him to get his jollies out before he got into that classroom because it would end there. During the drive, he again expressed some concern about his new school, "I think one of my teachers is a vampire."

But once we got to school, he was all business. He was too busy to pose in front of the school sign, like the kid in the upper left, he wanted to get to the playground and start playing.

We also tried posing for a family photo at the playground, but it was hard to contain Lucas, so this is the best one we got. Lucas immediately sought out his new buddy. They found each other and started to do what any crazy 5-year olds would do on the first day of school...
Actually, they weren't trying to escape, they just wanted to get up to that tree and swing from the branches.

At 8:40, the kids lined up and filed inside their new classroom, found their cubbies and hung up their goods.

The class starts each day with a morning "meeting", this time the parents were invited to stay. The teachers, Liz and Diep, introduced themselves and asked all the kids to introduce themselves and tell everyone their favorite animals. Lucas of course said his was a tiger.The first order of business was the calendar and weather chart. Lucas looked at me with a smile because they did the same thing at his old school. And Lucas, like most kids, loves routine and familiarity.
They talked about bathroom etiquette (they taught them to use the sign language sign for bathroom, which surprisingly, is not holding your crotch) and directed them to the bathroom which is in the classroom (another source of concern for Lucas, "What if I can't find the bathroom?"). Then they went through the rest of the day's schedule and took roll call.

The the teachers said, "Now it's time to say goodbye to your parents." The kids turned around and waved and we were ushered to the music room with the other kindergarten parents. At this parent coffee, I signed our lives away to eScrip, joined probably one too many committees and chatted it up with the other parents. Even Kevin was unusually social, the parents seemed relaxed and relieved that the first drop off was over.

Back at the office, it was hard not to think about Lucas and how he was getting along on his first day of school. I left work early so I could pick him up just a little bit after the afterschool program started.

I got there and he was still in his fencing class. I peeked in and saw him, with some of the kids from his class. He was having a great time. Aside from fencing with these foam swords (not much difference than the light saber wars we have at home), they had lots of jumping exercises.After fencing we walked down to the afterschool area. And once we got down there he didn't want to leave. He and one of the kids from his class were playing LEGOs, then some older girls taught him the finer points of the flying turtle.After about an hour, Lucas was finally ready to leave. He was talking to me about all the things they did that day, nonstop, and could not stop smiling.
  • We have recess and lunch outside, and recess is the same as playtime at my old school, but recess is for bigger kids.
  • I played LEGOs and there are all sorts of different LEGO pieces at school, like windshields.
  • So-and-so also had a Speed Racer snack box, just like mine.
  • We did a scavenger hunt, but not to find treasures, to find things in the classroom, like tissues, glue, paper...
  • I got to do fencing with some of the older kids (I think his class is K-2) and I did really good.

I think this photo as we left school sums up Lucas' experience on his first day of kindergarten.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yet another day at the office

I have pictures of all of Lucas’ big events, except for what happened today at work. He was at work with me all day. Chris, one of the guys in our warehouse told me that when I bring Lucas in, he will give him a ride in the forklift.

Of course, this was huge news for Lucas and he looked forward to it all day.

Post-lunch we headed over to the warehouse. Not only did he get to ride in the forklift, but Chris let him DRIVE the forklift…yes, drive.

Lucas got to control the gas and brake, steer (though after a couple minutes Chris took over the steering), and he also got to do some real work. Chris had him go over to a pallet of Clif products, pull the lever to lift it up onto the lift, and drove it over to the other side of the warehouse.

Lucas’ mouth was wide open the whole time. I thought he was going to start drooling any minute. I, on the other hand, was sweating. Lucas couldn’t believe it. And frankly, neither could I.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another day at the office

I'm fortunate enough to have found a job working at ClifBar, yes the company that makes those little bars that you eat when you go for a hike, or in our case, when you're sitting in traffic with a hungry 5-year old.

On Tuesday we had a party at work. Lucas and Kevin came by to check out my new office. Clif has all sorts of fun things for big and little kids to do.

Lucas got to sit in the forklift in our warehouse.And they both had fun on the climbing wall in the office.

As far as my job goes, it's been great so far. My title is "Women's Experience Manager" for the LUNA brand. And specifically, I market LUNA to pregnant women, moms, and other folks who we call "Mavens", who are ambassadors to the LUNA brand and go out in their community and hand out LUNA samples and tell people all the great things about LUNA bars.

Clif has tons of employee perks, which I immediately started taking advantage of:

- on site gym with free personal trainers
- 30+ fitness classes a week, also free
- on site nutritionist, free
- subsidized massages ($30 for an hour, half that for half hour)
- $5 organic lunches on site a couple days a week
- dog-friendly office (Maggie has enjoyed coming into the office with me a few times already)
- on site hair cut appointments
- on site car wash and detailing (I've washed my car more times in the past month than in the last three years)
- and of course, as many Clif products as I can eat (I'm currently trying to wean myself down to 1/2 a bar a day)
- beginning mid-October, I'll be able to take half days on Friday.

Anyway, that's where I am during the day. Not too shabby for a full-time gig.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kindergarten jitters

With kindergarten starting up this Wednesday, Lucas has been dealing with leaving his friends and teachers who he loves behind and starting up at a brand new school with all new kids. Unfortunately, none of his friends will be going to his school.

A couple weeks ago we had a informal picnic at his new school with other incoming kindergarten kids. There were about 10 kids there, all girls, but a couple in his class. He had a great time and on the way home asked, "Mommy, when can I go back to that school?" I assured him that in a few weeks he would be going Monday-Friday and seeing those same kids plus many more.

Then last week I made the fatal error of having one of his preschool teachers babysit. They had a wonderful time, but the next day he said, "I'm never going to see Catherine again!" And it kind of went down hill from there.
  • When he said, "I want to go back to Growing Light," I told him that all his friends are moving on to different schools so we went through his class photo and talked about where all the kids are going. I assured him that we would still do play dates with his friends and continue to meet up on Sundays with a few of them for baseball/soccer/sport du jour.
  • He asks me at least once a day, "Will I have fun at my new school?" I ask him what types of things he likes to do at school, and for the most part, I can assure him that he will be able to do those same things at his new school.
  • I also remind him of the other fun things that he will do at his new school that they didn't have at his old school - fencing and playing in the loft in his classroom, both of which he is very excited about.
Not sure if this is related, but it probably is, Lucas has been talking a lot about death. Like "I don't want to die. I don't want you or daddy to die. I don't want anybody to die..." and the list goes on.

On the outside I reassure him that no one he knows is dying or has plans to die anytime soon. But on the inside I'm thinking, "Dude, no one's dying, it's just kindergarten!"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Playdate from hell

This past week Lucas was home with Kevin. Kevin had some work to do so we set up a couple kids to come over to play with Lucas.

The first one went swimmingly. Lucas and his friend mostly made mud pies in the backyard. Kevin fixed them a lunch of yogurt and chips and guacamole (!!). According to Kevin, "They were really good. I peeked in on them a couple times but they were just having a great time." Lucas' friend went home happy, albeit muddy.

Then we had the second play date a couple days later. Throughout the day I checked in with Kevin, these are the reports I got back:

- they were making mud pies using Maggie's pooh
- Lucas' friend picked up Maggie's pooh by hand
- they cut a hole in the screen so they could climb out onto the roof (luckily, they only cut the screen and Kevin caught them before they went AWOL)

We were both anxious for Lucas' friend's dad to come back and get this little urchin out of our house.

When I got home, I asked Lucas how his play date went. He told me most of what happened. Then he also added in this tasty tidbit, "And my friend ate Maggie's dog pooh." Some other things this wild child did:

- climbed to the top of Lucas' closet and opened up all my new cans of tennis balls and left those sharp little lids everywhere
- ripped photos out of a book
- ripped some pages out of a book
- smudged the walls along the staircase

Granted, it could have been Lucas who had done these things, but I highly doubt it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

He did it!

Lucas graduated from his preschool today. There was a big celebration, each of the 4 classes took their turn on stage to perform.

Lucas' class sang a song, which was hard to hear because it was really loud in the room (everyone, including kids, had already been sitting for almost an hour and were restless) and the kids, while I'm sure they sang their hearts out, had masks on, which covered their mouths.The best moment was when they called Lucas' name to get his diploma and he went up and got it. (Last year when they called his name, he refused to go up and get his diploma.) There was no bowing, posing for the camera, or other theatrics on his part. He just went up and took it from the teacher, but that was fine by us.
I wonder if Lucas is thinking, "Yay, I graduated!!!"

Afterward Lucas and his friends had a great time running around and engaging in general 5-year old rowdiness.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Talking politics

Lucas and I walked to the store tonight to pick up a few groceries. On our walk we passed by multiple Obama signs in people's windows or in their yards.

Lucas: Who are you going to vote for? Barack Obama or John McCain?
Me: Barack Obama.
Lucas: Why, is John McCain a bad man?
Me: He's not a bad man, but I don't agree with some things he says.
Lucas: Does he say bad things?
Me: I think some of the things he wants to do aren't good for the country or the world.
Lucas: Is it because he's so old and forgets things? You know, his hair is all white. He's very very old.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cute as a ...

As of today at 12:25 pm, I have a brand new nephew named Jack. I know his parents don't like me to post photos of their kids, but believe me, he's a cutie!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"What's for dinner?"

For years I've fantasized about meal planning...yes, meal planning. The idea that you would sit down on Sunday night and plan out each and every meal for the week: to shop more efficiently, to diversify the menu, and to mitigate any dramas at meal time (Lucas, not Kevin). I think Mrs. Cunningham and June Cleaver probably did this with their families, and look how easy their lives looked!!!

So three weeks ago, the weekend before I started working again, Lucas and I sat down and mapped out what he would eat for breakfast each weekday morning. We started with breakfast because Lucas is not a morning person, so our weekday mornings can be the most challenging time of the week. It went surprisingly well that week, and he ended up eating something different every morning.

The next week, I was just planning on doing breakfast again, but Lucas suggested we do all our meals. So we did. We had a couple incidents when our plans changed and we had to move things, but overall, it went well. It was the first week without a single quesadilla for dinner, and only one peanut butter sandwich for lunch!

I can't believe I never did this before, but it makes so much sense. Tuesday dinner is chicken, that means Wednesday lunch he gets chicken noodle soup, of course!

And of course, the shopping is so much easier. We just look at the list, assess what we have in house, and go to the store. No more meandering the aisles, lost in a daze about what I should buy. It's very liberating actually.

So this past weekend, Lucas said to me, "We have to make our menu for the week!" (Success!) I think this has worked so well for us because Lucas knows he has a voice in the process and gets to make a lot of the choices. We also have a couple standards...Friday night is macaroni and cheese, and every Sunday morning we have waffles.

My ultimate goal is to get to at least 10 weeks of menus so we can just rotate them in and out.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Now playing on a wall near you

We haven't had a TV in our house since we moved when we redid our house, I guess that was 2005. So we have been watching DVDs, shows on iTunes and other online sources all on our computers, mostly our little laptops.

But a few weeks ago, Kevin came home with a new toy - a projector! So now we watch movies like regular people, the wall in our living room shows the picture at about 6 feet by 4 feet ... pretty awesome! Now we can sit comfortably in a room, instead of huddled together like media-starved monkeys. We also came through on our promise to Lucas that he could watch Star Wars when he turned 5. I anticipated that the morning of his birthday, he would be asking us when we could watch the movie. But he didn't even bring it up until a few days later. So we got the DVD and watched it.

I don't think he was really into the story, he had much more fun asking questions and trying to identify the characters, spaceships, and creatures that he saw on the big "screen".

Now all we need is a sticky floor and the smell of popcorn drowning in butter, and it'll really be like we're at the movies.

Welcome to the year 2008!

My mom made her first online purchase. I'm so proud of her.