Category Archives: Motherhood

school

I’m fairly amused by L’s writing.  Because she’s going to French school, she writes her numbers the French way, and they write English exclusively in cursive.

Sample 1:

I’m too lazy to search for a writing sample at the moment . Maybe later.

So far, I’m actually extremely pleased with L’s school.  H and I thought the academics were probably sub-par, a conclusion we drew form the 90s era “computer lab” and the fact that they obviously have a much smaller pool of teachers to draw from.  But I think the coursework is actually fairly rigorous for first grade.  Memorizing 10 lines of French poetry every couple weeks is on the face of it rather pointless, but I think it’s teaching L a type of rigor that will serve her well.  Weekly spelling tests in French and even French worksheets are always challenging, just due to the language barrier.   L’s French has taken off, thankfully.  (At one point late last school year, I was wondering if she would ever learn.)

On the social side, I am worried.  I see in L all the things that I myself struggled with in elementary school – paralyzing shyness and general social awkwardness that my sister never struggled with, and similarly, L’s little sister has no issues with.  In addition, L has a level of cautiousness that I never had, and the combination I fear will make life difficult for her as she grows older.  Her teacher says she is usually on her own at recess, apparently by choice, because she considers the games too rough.  (L says the same thing.)  Her teacher is absolutely wonderful and working to help her include herself in the games, but just as lack of ability in math or reading given a different rate of learning will become more pronounced, I fear the same will happen with social skills.

For myself, I feel that I’ve managed to attain enough social skills to function relatively well in society and at work.  My theory is that most people plateau at some point, maybe 16 or 18 or 21, and for those of us who were behind, if we continue to work at it, we can catch up.  I do feel I caught up a bit.  In school, I do think i struggled doubly because I was much younger than everyone else, thanks to starting school in PA with a 12/31 deadline and a 12/23 birthday and then moving.  L is nearly a full year older than I was in first grade, and I’m hopeful that that will help her navigate a little better socially.

school days

L’s been back at school now for about a month.  Homework started in week 2, and it’s more or less ramped up since then.  Occasionally she has a worksheet to do, and those are no big deal.  What’s much, much harder are things that require studying.  First of all, she has two spelling tests each week, one in French and one in English.  Trying to get her to study has been like pulling teeth.

Then, she had to memorize a French poem that was about 16 lines long.  Now, Jonathan and I both studied French in school, but that was a long time ago, and many parents are in the same boat, so the teacher sent home a recording of the poem being read.  But that just makes it that much harder to learn, as we have to try and play the recording over and over again, at least until we can pronounce it properly.  (To our ears anyway – L is not impressed by our French.)  Learning a 16 line poem or song in English wouldn’t necessarily be a walk in the park, even.  So that was a challenge and nearly brought us to blows.  After a couple weeks to learn the first poem, we all heaved a sign of relief . . . and then L brought home another French poem to learn today.

We’re also struggling to figure out what she’s supposed to have done when.  I expected she’d just bring home a worksheet or something due the next day, but we’re getting a bunch of these studying tasks with a few days lead time that require our participation.

Friends with kids . . . is this similar to your experience?  I don’t see why homework is necessary in first grade anyway.

On the plus side, L told me she made a new friend today, with a new girl who only speaks French.  (It’s funny how L classifies kids in her class.  Last year she insisted – accurately no doubt – that she didn’t speak French.  All the other kids in her class were classified as English speakers, French speakers or both – no wiggle room.  You either speak a language or you don’t.)  Anyway, even after a year, L hadn’t owned up to actually speaking any French except on rare occasion.  But now’s she’s starting to admit she does speak a bit, and she apparently had a conversation with her new friend in French, which is kind of cool.

 

in my mind, in my head

Loving the Gigi d’Agostino mix of In My Mind.

I’ve been reading to Isla for about four years now.  Every night.  It’s one of the most effortless parts of parenting for me.  The kids are happy, and I’m happy.  Reading kids books, the picture books, can make me a little crazy.  I don’t mind the good ones (Ox Cart Man, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, Make Way for Ducklings, etc.) but the lame ones are just horrid.  Chapter books, though.  I love them.  The kids are still letting me pick, and I’ve been picking ALL my childhood favorites.  I wanted to make a list, so here goes.

Surprise Island (Boxcare Children #2), The BFG, Stuart Little, Where The Mountain Meets the Moon, Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories (I can’t recommend this one), The Moffats, Abel’s Island, Strawberry Girl, Island of Blue Dolphins, Caddie Woodlawn (twice), The Secret Garden*, Over Sea Under Stone, Heidi*, The Trumpet of the Swan, The Family Under the Bridge, Betsy-Tacy, Little House on the Prairie* (thrice), Pippi Longstocking, Little House in the Big Woods* (twice), Fantastic Mr. Fox, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Winnie-the-Pooh, Danger in Ancient Rome, Rescue on the Oregon Trail, Charlotte’s Web (twice), James and the Giant Peach, The Tale of Despereaux, The First Four Years, Those Happy Golden Years, Little Town on the Prairie* (twice), The Long Winter (twice), By The Shores of Silver Lake (twice), On The Banks of Plum Creek* (twice), Matilda*, Anne of Green Gables*, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I may have missed one or two, but that’s the bulk of them. 45 readings of 36 books.  There are still a good few I want to read.  A Little Princess.  Joan Aiken’s series, including my favorite, The Stolen Lake.  Maybe James Herriot.  Little Women.  What am I forgetting?  I finally bought the first four of The Magic Treehouse, mainly to appeal to Briony.  I’ve actually read her a few Amelia Bedelia.  She’s been slower than Isla to take to the chapter books.  Isla loved LHOTP at age 2, whereas Bri is only really now having the patience and vocabulary to appreciate them at age 4.  Anyway, I thought the treehouse books might appeal to her.

I can see Isla’s reading comprehension growing by leaps and bounds these days.  Whereas before she definitely missed a lot of subtleties (in the early days, she missed a lot of important story points, never mind the subtleties), she follows the story much more closely these days.  Bri still misses a lot, but she seems to enjoy listening anyway.

movies and dance

I watched a lot of TV last month when I wasn’t feeling well.  I really got quite sick of Netflix.  Nevertheless, there were a few things worth watching in there.

Lion – such a great movie.  I high recommend it.

Broadchurch, Season 1 & 2 – Nothing like a good British detective show

Orbiter 9 – not awesome, but kind of fun.  Reminded me a little of Moon.

Safe – a teenage girl is lost in suburbia.  Surprisingly good.

Lost in Space – space geeks unite.

Touch the Wall – love this documentary on Missy Franklin and Kara Lynn Joyce (swimmers)

Gone Baby Gone – great movie about the search for a missing child

I injured myself trying to get back into running too quickly, so I’ve been slacking lately.  I’ll try running again today, and hopefully my IT band, which I believe is the injury, will be happier than last weekend.  Running is such a huge time commitment, and it’s been nice the last couple of weeks to feel well and have that extra time to be lazy and knit and just do whatever.

I’m still trying to get L into a dance class.  She just loves ballet so much.  I don’t understand it, honestly.  My feelings on ballet are decidedly mixed.  I like that dance combines music and athletic activity, but I don’t like: the general obsession with attire, the terrible things it does to feet, the excessive skinniness of professionals, the tights – who wants to sweat in tights? and tights on men?, the fuss about the performances for little kids, and on and on.  I also hate that around here you have to sign up for dance for an entire year.  With sports, you sign up for a season.  You can do soccer in the fall, swim in the winter, and T-ball in the spring.  I hate to put L in more than one or max two activities at a time, and the constant commitment to dance is really annoying.

However, the bottom line is that she loves it.  Finding a class is non-trivial because there are just not that many commercial establishments within 15 minutes of where we live, which would be the preferred max distance I’d like to drive.  Of the dance places, many have their classes on Saturdays or after 6 pm, neither of which is ideal.  Saturday is a non-starter because you have to show up or they won’t let your kid be in the show, which I don’t care about whatsoever, but L definitely will, and I don’t want to give away our Saturdays for 9 months!  So, we did a trial class at a place not too far away to see if they’d let her into the 7-year-old class as a backup if she doesn’t get off the waitlist at this other place which is an inconvenient drive into North Bellevue.  Ug!  Anyway, bottom line is that L was so excited when she heard about the trial class, just because it was a ballet class that she got to go to.  She ran around the house screaming and jumping, which is not typical behavior at all for her.

At the end, the teacher said she was fine for the class, so we have a backup option, even if I’m quite un-enthused about dance every Thursday night extending past her bedtime.  I felt like quite the dance mom, as she has her ballet themed dance bag (very pink and frilly and not bought by me) and had her ballet outfit on, whereas most of the other kids were just in shorts.

 

swim lessons

I’m so proud of L.  She was promoted to Level IV of the Y swimming classes today.  Basically, she’s learned how to do the crawl and side-breathe.   She can still only swim about 10 yards before she needs a break.  On a macro level, it’s not a big deal.  My brother was already swimming competitively at age 6, as do many, many kids back where I grew up.  Still, it’s been an uphill battle here.  First of all, global warming aside, we still don’t have THAT much truly hot weather here in Seattle.  It’s in the 80s to low 90s the last few days, but as of Wednesday it’ll be back in the 70s.  There are very few neighborhood pools here.  Most pools have limited “free swim” time, just lessons and classes most of the day.

Then, I started L in swim lessons at 3.  The teacher promptly dunked her.  Hysterics ensued, and we ended up dropping out.  (It didn’t help that Bri was an infant in arms at that point.)  We sporadically did swim through the years, and she finally made it out of Level I (water acclimation) into Level II (Water Movement.)  Water Movement is more or less where they learn to swim.  To get out of Level II, you need to be able to kind of swim, not gracefully, but definitely swim.  And she was stuck in Water Movement forever.  We kept not signing up for lessons for one reason or another – classes were full or it wasn’t convenient or whatever.  Finally, this summer, I decided these children were going to learn to swim.  The Y does lessons Monday through Thursday in summer to two week sessions, and so both girls started going to the lessons four days a week.  Our awesome nanny found a pool that actually had free swim in the afternoons and started taking them swimming a few times a week in addition to lessons.  And finally, not surprisingly, they started making progress.

Some things are easy for L.  Reading, studying, art, dance, things that aren’t physical or scary.  Those things are easy.  But things like swimming, riding a bike, and probably lots of things to come, are not easy at all.  And the satisfaction when she learned to ride her bike and now learned to swim is just huge.  It feels so good for both of us.