Monday, September 30, 2013

trip to Edmonton

the 51st bridge in Edmonton's River Valley

my cousin Kelsey, the bride, with new husband Justin

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

adventures with Liesl

Liesl and I very much enjoyed our first week together - we dropped Sebastian off at his kindergarten classroom every morning, with Liesl giving him a big hug and kiss goodbye, and then went on our way. We had our playgroup on Monday; on Tuesday we did some grocery shopping and met up with friends at a cafe; on Wednesday we visited the zoo and shopped at a kids' consignment sale; on Thursday we met up with Mary and Rowan to ride balance bikes at Laurelhurst park and attend our first dance class; and on Friday we went for a hike in Forest Park and then picked veggies from our garden. It was really so much easier with just one child's preferences, and one child's conversation to respond to, and one child to feed. But we missed Sebastian - Liesl kept asking about him - and playgrounds and hikes are not the same without his energy.

Liesl loved our dance class - it was a movement to music class, with the children flying, tip-toeing, twirling, marching, gliding, hopping, skipping. She listened with rapt attention to the teacher, Miss Erica, and assiduously followed all directions to freeze, dance, clean up, sit criss-cross applesauce, etc. It was so cute to watch and she can't wait to go back next week. I loved it too, and it made me wish I was the one dancing in a class.

The other super fun adventure was shopping at a consignment sale - Seb has never been interested in clothes or able to shop with me. But Liesl loved it. She stayed close to me, never running away or messing with things, and happily picked through the clothes. She tried things on and offered opinions about which things she preferred (the sparkly footie pjs, not the purple; the velour hoodie, not the pink fleece...). As a reward, we picked out a preemie sized footie pj set for her baby Fufu to wear, and she was delighted.  The sale itself was pretty amazing - a lot of good quality clothes for very little money. We got a winter jacket and snow pants for Sebastian, a rain jacket for Liesl, a monkey Halloween costume for L, and assorted sweaters and pants for Liesl to wear in the winter.

first week of kindergarten

Sebastian had a great first week of kindergarten. He came home each day hungry and tired, but happy, and able to talk about his classroom experiences and friends in a surprisingly detailed way. (This alone was a huge change from last year, when he was too tired and strung out to tell us much of anything.) He is ravenous for after-school snack and has been tucking into bed around 7 pm, but did not exhibit too many signs of stress during the week - no enormous temper tantrums, for instance. We were dreading them and are greatly relieved that the transition seems to be proceeding more smoothly than feared.

Every day he has two recesses: lunch recess (20 minutes to run around, 20 minutes to eat) and extra recess. Mrs. Huntley makes the whole class run one lap around the track during lunch recess, and he was very proud to tell us that he came in first every time. (Not sure if the other kids knew it was a race...?)  On Monday he had a music class; Tuesday and Wednesday were Phys Ed; Thursday was Technology; and Friday was Library. He liked the games they played in tech class (learning to use the mouse was my best guess as to the purpose of the games, from his description), loved PE and its little competitions, and thought the singing was fun. A class of 3rd-graders came to his class on Friday, and two of them were his buddies, helping him write down some favorite things and illustrate them. Mrs. Huntley read a couple of fun books, including one with chapters that he particularly enjoyed. They learned about bacteria on teeth - Seb was awestruck at the idea that tiny bugs lived in our bodies. They practiced writing out numbers 1-4 and some sight words, and he drew a picture of our family during writer's workshop.  He's apparently a little slower at writing than some of his peers, as he noted that some friends finished writing much sooner than he did and were allowed more "choice time". Hopefully he'll get quicker with practice.

He's also been pretty forthcoming about the other children in his class - who listens, who doesn't, who is the daily line leader, etc. He's been trying to make friends with the other boys - he likes S, but doesn't like the gun and shooting games that S plays during recess with another boy. He thought B was nice, but when he sat next to him at lunch for a second day B said to go away (why? who knows?).  He likes E, but E often plays with a different friend who Seb doesn't like as much. And so on. It hurts my heart a little to see him struggling to make friends, so earnest and sweet and interested in playing with other boys, and to have him be rejected even a little bit.

Here's to hoping that the second week is equally smooth, and that he starts to find his footing socially.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Forest Heights soccer club

Forest Heights has its own soccer club, for boys and girls from kindergarten on up. The older children play games on Saturdays and Sundays but these youngest ones just run around together. It seems that most of the kindergarten boys have joined, which is a great opportunity for Seb to meet the boys in other classes and for us to hang out with them outside of school hours. They practice and scrimmage on Friday afternoons from 5-6 on the field outside the school.
The first week was a bit crazy, and Steve has decided he's not impressed with the coaching (parent volunteers, for the most part), but Seb has so far been really excited about it. He's particularly excited about his jersey and cleats. We winced a bit about buying them - I mean, really? - but he loves to be properly outfitted, like the other boys on the team, and his excitement has proved infectious. It really is pretty cute to see 30 boys all running around in their matching jerseys.

We were in the store and they asked Sebastian what number he wanted to be, and he picked 5 - turns out there are a lot of 5's on the team, since they're all five years old. :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

pre-preschool playgroup

Since Sebastian is in kindergarten this fall, I decided to look for some activities for Liesl to do as well, to fill our days and find children for her to play with and to learn new things. One of my ideas was to start a regular weekly playgroup within the Meetup group we are part of, intended for 2-3 year olds, that would be moderately structured. A sort of pre-preschool experience. And so Monday was our first meeting - we hosted eight moms and kids here for a morning of playtime, snack, stories, songs, and coloring. It went really, really well. Liesl was thrilled to have friends over to play - it gave her something to look forward to after the sadness of dropping off Sebastian - and she did a wonderful job of sharing her toys.

Every time someone arrived Liesl ran to the front door to say hello; she shared all of her toys without incident, even taking down bins and showing children new toys to explore; she loved having snack foods together at our table and singing songs in circle time; and she stood on our stoop in order to wave goodbye to all of our guests. She was absolutely perfect. When I told her that all of these friends would be back next Monday again for a repeat playgroup, she was super excited. She made me sing the welcome/name song over and over to her today, repeating the names of her friends.

I read a couple of stories - Little Blue Truck and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom - and some of the other moms directed the singing of a few songs. The children responded really positively to the experience, playing nicely together, eating together at the table, and diving into the craft box when directed to draw pictures. I think it's going to be a fantastic Monday activity that Liesl and I are both going to look forward to, and I'm really excited about the moms that joined in and are helping me make this happen. (Yay for Portland!)

first day of kindergarten!

Sebastian started kindergarten today at Forest Park school - he was ready to go, calm and happy, eager to meet friends, and not anxious or scared at all. It's a bit of a miracle. (He whispered to me when I hugged him goodbye that his stomach didn't hurt at all - it usually hurts when he's feeling nervous about a new situation.)  We walked over, all four of us, and hung out in his classroom for a few minutes before leaving. I'd say Liesl was the only one feeling sad - poor baby girl, missing her playmate and wanting to stay in the cool classroom. She gave him a big hug, kissed him, and whispered "I love you" in his ear - so amazing.

On Thursday of last week we got to meet Seb's teacher, Joni Huntley, for an assessment meeting. She tested his math and literacy skills, as mandated by the Oregon Legislature, and observed his general school readiness. He had to write his letters and numbers, read some simple sight words, and do basic math problems. I had the chance to speak with her afterward and she said he did great - read everything, even out of context, and rocked the math section (thanks to Steve's games and native skills...). He was also calm, mature, and focused - such an enormous change from last year, when it was clear to us and to his teacher that he wasn't quite ready for the expectations of kindergarten. There was also a kindergarten social on Friday afternoon, so by this morning he'd met some kids and seen the school and was ready to go. There are three kindergarten classes at Forest Park (which is K-5), and there are 17 children in Sebastian's class. The room is bright and airy and well equipped with Legos, blocks, toys, books, etc.

play trains; New York; strawberry ice cream; how cars work
He came home happy and talkative this afternoon and I was so so glad to be able to be home with him - we read stories and cuddled, ate snack, and played outside. It was such a change from last year's kindergarten experience, when he had to take the bus to an after-school program and stay there until 5:30. He told me quite a bit about his day - they went on a tour of the whole school, including the gym, library, and "places that we aren't allowed to ever even go", like the teacher's lunch room. They had a music class where they sang songs. They had two outdoor recesses. He ate his lunch in the lunch room, which was a little crazy. He learned about bacteria and how they live in your body, and can infect your teeth, and that's why you need to brush teeth. (He was a little disappointed to learn that I knew about bacteria already - I think he thought he was learning something on the cutting edge. I'll have to play dumb next time.) They drew pictures in a little book about the first day, and read some stories, including one chapter of a longer book that he was particularly excited about. He was disappointed that they only read one chapter because he wanted to know what happened next. He couldn't remember the names of any other children but did recognize them around.

All in all, a huge success. No tantrums tonight, either. Can't wait for tomorrow, and the next day...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

happy anniversary at Peninsula Park!

Eight years ago we got married in Peninsula Park Rose Garden - a destination wedding in a random city that we just loved. It took a while, but we made it back here, and finally got to celebrate our anniversary in the place. We took the kids to the Rose Garden on the weekend and enjoyed the flowers and fountains and playground, and then had a date to ourselves - a little hike on the Wildwood trail, wandering northwest Portland, and dinner at Wildwood restaurant.