Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back to School!

I have a lot of summer left to write about. You know me well enough by now to know that it may or may not happen. I hope it does because there were a lot of lovely things in the second have of the summer. For now, though, I thought I'd give a quick update about Kindergarten. Duncan started a week ago, and things have been going well. Three of his friends from Little Professors are in his Kindergarten class, which helped the transition a lot. Each day I have asked him if he learned any of the other kids' names; each day he says he has not. Today, however, he told be he made a new (nameless) friend, and then I watched them walk into school together, hand-in-hand. He's enjoying the "specials" (art, physical education, music, library, and something called "project adventure"). He claims that he hasn't "learned" anything, but I'm not sure I trust that assessment. Tonight at dinner we were playing "what was your best thing that happened today" and "what was the worst." To the latter, Duncan responded "Nothing." I asked "So there was nothing today you didn't like?" "No," he reassured me. I think that's a great statement about how Kindergarten is going!

First day pictures:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Back in Time

It turned out that Old Sturbridge Village was a perfect place to spend the 4th of July. It felt right to be connected to the period when the Revolution occurred, and OSV provided many activities centered around the Revolution. Artillery demonstrations, a town parade (including a calf), an opportunity to purchase Independence Day Cake (it was not what you would think), and a reading of the Declaration of Independence supplemented the everyday exhibits provided at the museum.

We tried to hit some exhibits we didn't get to see on our last visit as well as some favorites. Much like our last visit, Duncan really enjoyed watching people make things. We had a nice talk with the tinsmith, who gave Duncan a biscuit cutter and assured me that the Revolution would not lead to a tin shortage because he would get it illegally from Canada, where it was cheaper anyway. The potter showed off his skills again (and I'm sure the picture I took of him this year is identical to the one I took two years ago). Duncan was mesmerized by the blacksmith. I suppose it was the fire; aren't we all drawn to it in some kind of primordial way? We thought with the dangers of blacksmithing that children wouldn't be involved, but we discovered that the blacksmith had an 11 year old apprentice, who was part of the OSV's summer program.

We took a horse drawn carriage ride (well, it wasn't a carriage, but I don't remember what it was called ; forgive me) and a boat ride across the pond and looked at the variety of ways the Colonists harnessed the river for transportation, carding wool, and sawing wood. It was difficult to drag Duncan away from the water pump; other than the boat ride, it probably had the longest line of anything at OSV as the children took turns splashing in the water and drinking it, to cries of parents who insisted "DON'T DRINK THAT!"

Of course, you can never predict what will and won't appeal to children. One of Duncan's favorite parts of the trip was our stay in the hotel. The novelty of the hotel, the pool, and the free continental breakfast (complete with waffles) enticed him like a trip to a 4 star resort. "Look, this hotel even has a safe!" I think he was sadder to leave the hotel than to leave the Village, but we all had a great time, and Jamie and I were reassured enough that we could survive a night in a hotel with Duncan that we feel brave enough to try it again!  Maybe with a historic trip to Mystic!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Just Own the Night Like the 4th of July

This year, we took Duncan to his first fireworks display. Because he's pretty sensitive to the effects of sleep deprivation, we haven't wanted to keep him out that late at night; however, this summer, he has shown a slightly improved ability to sleep in so we thought it would be worth a try. Our original plan was to stay overnight in Sturbridge, watch the fireworks display at Old Sturbridge Village on the 3rd, and then spend the 4th at Old Sturbridge Village, soaking in the history. At the last minute, the fireworks were canceled at Old Sturbridge because one of their possible launch sites was flooded from early July rains; the other had been destroyed in a tornado. Instead, we took Duncan to Lime Rock Park. We had a nice picnic and were entertained by the cast of Rent from Sharon Playhouse. There was a visiting group of hearing impaired children from a summer camp, and it was heartwarming to watch as their counselors jumped into signing the songs for the kids. One of the counselors stole the show; Jamie thought he was part of the cast at first. He knew the songs well and added so much emotion that he seemed like he had rehearsed with them. Actually, I was really impressed with those counselors. While they were waiting for the sun to go down, they quickly got the kids involved in races rolling down the hill, leapfrog, and, of course, singing Katy Perry's "Firework," on repeat.

Finally, the sun went down; it was a struggle for Duncan to stay awake, but he enjoyed the fireworks immensely.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Graduation! (Bring Your Own Airquotes)

My baby boy "graduated" from preschool! Honestly, I expected to be overcome with motherly emotion, that kind where pride, anxiety about the future, and the sense of ceremony combine to set an unmistakably emotional scene. Or is that just me? No? Anyway, I expected there to be tears, but it really wasn't much of a ceremony (as is appropriate, I believe, for preschool). Miss Anne called each kid out the side door onto the deck, one by one, handed him/her a certificate, and sent the little ones to stand in line for a picture. Then we had a potluck dinner. And cake. I did tear up once when we arrived, but really, that was the only opportunity I had because here's what happened.

Duncan, who had talked excitedly about "graduation" all week, at home and at school, was overcome with anxiety, possibly sadness, and an overwhelming sense of pissiness for the actual event. Look at these faces:  

Then, once the "ceremony" was over, and the girls turned back into tomboys, and teachers turned back into teachers, and he was cautious but relieved.

And finally, he was won over by the opportunity to spend extra time in the sand.

In the end, he had a great time and allowed us a few extra do-overs with the camera. This is a MUCH better one for the archives.

Well, baby boy (because you will always be my baby boy, even if you fight it every time I dare speak the words), welcome to Kindergarten! 

Fathers' Day 2011

Way, way back, when summer was fresh and new...and in fact, I wasn't even on vacation yet...we celebrated Fathers' Day. It is becoming our tradition to attend a minor league baseball game on Fathers' Day. It's a pretty great setup. Jamie gets to enjoy some baseball; there is plenty of family activity to keep Duncan from getting bored, and there's lots of good people watching for me. The baseball, the cheaper food (than at Yankee Stadium), the mascots:  it's a no brainer.

But first, we gave Jamie a hammock. I wish we had all found more time for it this summer. It is sheer heaven to lie in the hammock on the perfect summer day, daydreaming or reading a book. Check out Duncan's choice of reading material that week. It was all about mummies, Pompeii, and gross insects.

And then we were off to the game. We caught a Tri-City Valleycats game in Troy. I have no idea who won. I'm pretty sure it was the Vermont Lake Monsters. Seriously.

See how intently the boy is watching the game? His interest was partly encouraged by how close we were. We were in the first row! See how close we were?! It makes it a lot easier to follow what's going on, even if a 5 year old would rather watch cars race around the outfield and people dressed as catsup, mustard, and relish running the base lines.

All in all, it was a great tribute to Dad and fun way to usher in summer!

Monday, July 25, 2011

April, Maine, and June: The Cruelest Month

The school year was a fight to the finish, and April, May, and June tied for the busiest, craziest, and insanest months of the year. I can't even remember the details now, honestly. It's a blur. May is always crazy so that was okay, but April got it started early, and June was not to be outdone. There was a parade of visitors at school, followed by a conference at which my colleague and I gave a knockout presentation, followed very closely by the SAT, which I read to a young man with anxiety AND dyslexia, followed by Founders' Day, followed by diagnostic testing of all the kidlets, followed by exam review, followed by exams, followed by graduation, all wrapped up with interviews of candidates for teachers AND an Elementary Director. Somewhere in there I attended the Smart Kids with LD gala, where my tutoring student won an award, and the Graduates' Dinner, where I toasted my graduating senior. Because of the relentless winter we had, we had to extend the school year by three days, which meant that I had no time off before I had to start getting ready for our June tutor training course. The next thing I knew, it was the end of June. Seriously.

Random picture of me, taken by me, in the hotel at the conference so I could send a photo home for Duncan.

Duncan being a ham.

 Mothers' Day at Hancock Shaker Villiage, where we had a picnic and visited the baby animals.  Look how cute Duncan is...then pretend I'm not in the picture.
Oh my gosh.  I wanted to take him home!

I did take him home.  But not in his Shaker outfit.

My former student, Samantha, came for Founders' Day to be on a panel of alums talking about life with dyslexia. One of the great things that happened this spring was that I helped her win an Intel Reader in a contest on Facebook.

August won a Special Recognition Award from Smart Kids with LD, for being an all around pretty cool guy.  Well, it was actually for his work running Kildonan's chapter of Project Eye-to-Eye, an organization cofounded by Jonathan Mooney, seen here with August.

Taylor graduated.

So, yeah, it was crazy, but I can't deny that a lot of good came from it too. I love my family. I love my job. I love my vacation that comes at the end of it all. Tune in next time, when I talk about the beach, the fireworks, the bikes, or other fun things of summer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


April began with an April Fools' snowstorm,

but Easter renewed our faith in Spring,

and Colin celebrated another birthday!

Try to Keep Up, Will 'Ya

We took a trip to Maine during spring break, and we stopped at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art on the way. 

Jamie and I spent a day in Portland while Grandma and Grandpa babysat.

And Jamie, Duncan, and I spent a day at the Maine Maritime Museum. I loved this museum and recommend it highly. It kept Duncan entertained for a good part of the day. He was interested in the old boat exhibits, the workshop where small boats are built, and the sculpture designed to give visitors an idea of the size of ships that used to be built on site. There was a great exhibit about Maine in the Cold War, which I would have devoured if Duncan hadn't been pretty much done by that point.  We all want to go back for a tour of Bath Iron Works after eyeing the enormous iron ships being built down the street.