Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Feeling

Today is one of my most favorite days of the year.  The entire summer awaits us.  We've got some planned days and we've got a whole bunch of unplanned days.  Doesn't that sound dreamy?  Will we still do home reading and practice piano?  Probably.  But we all know how different it feels when you don't have to do something.  Not having to get up and go in the morning is a pretty good feeling.  

I'm starting to realize how quickly the school years are going to pass by.  And I will always be in awe of the how much these little students learn, accomplish, and grow both in height and in maturity over the year.  They are not the same kids leaving in June that started in September.  Callie rocked this grade one thing.  She worked hard.   She learned to English and French.  She rode her bike to school. She made great friendships. She loved her teachers. She made us proud.  And now it's time to rest and have some fun. 

Starting with our Festival Day rides...

The whole summer lies ahead.  Oh what a feeling!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Last Day

Good morning Blog world.  Today is the last day of Grade 1 for Callie.  And close to the last day of work for the mom.  Then we'll be singing a little Alice Cooper!  We are heading out the door armed with teacher gifts and excitement.  There will be time to reflect on all that's happening later.  For now, a phone photo dump...

 Can you spot the difference between these two pictures?

Big sister is also taking a new smile with her for the last day of school!
The sun is shining bright.  It's going to be a good day!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Life in June

What do you get when you mix a camping trip, a birthday, father's day and another visit from the tooth fairy all together?  Just another week of life in June for our family.

I chaperoned a school camping trip last week and it was awesome.  I used to chaperone this trip all the time before my girls came along.  The last time I rolled out my sleeping bag at Camp Whitney was eight years ago.  I'll just say it was nice to be back.  I went on this camping trip when I was in junior high.  I have some good memories from that time, even though they are a little fuzzy now. Going back the first time as an adult gave me an all new perspective. And this time, as I left my girls at home with their dad, I had another completely different experience.  I found myself thinking how much Callie would love it here.  I was excited for my girls to get to do this trip too someday.  I imagined what they will be like when they're finishing their grade eight year getting ready for the summer before high school.  I had lots of time to think as I hiked for two hours up King's Trail to the rock crevices and back down, three times!

When I got home from camp my monkeys were waiting for me.  Callie had stories to tell about riding her bike to school and her third visit from the tooth fairy.  Lexi told me about her graduation picnic at preschool. And they both reminded me that it was my birthday on Saturday.   

It was a beautiful day for a birthday.   It was a perfect way to start my last year in my thirties, a quiet supper in the backyard followed by a little cake and some sweet gifts.  Hmmm,  I wonder if I'll make more noise next year? This was the first time in a long while that I didn't get a bouquet of lilacs for my birthday. Spring was a little late showing up this year so I guess I will just have to take a rain-check on the lilacs.    

It just so happens that 39 years ago, I was born on the Saturday before Father's Day, just like this year.  I don't know how I got so lucky to have gotten the cream of the crop in the dad department.  But not a day goes by that I don't think about my good fortune.  

There was some talk amongst my teacher friends about Father's Day being a difficult topic in schools these days.  It's more challenging that Mother's Day.  The discussion was not a flippant one but a deep concern for respecting their students emotions and what effect it has on them when the dads of the classroom are compared and contrasted amongst classmates.  I don't know what the right answer is but I'm glad that my girls' teachers didn't throw out the baby with that bath water.  That just because some dads are difficult to talk about they didn't do away with Father's Day altogether. There are a lot of really great dads out there doing a lot of really awesome stuff for their kids and their families and they deserve their day.

We have one of those really great dads living right here in our house!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads doing the best they can with what they got.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Piano Recital and Other Stuff

Watching people make music has always amazed me.  Seeing them soak up the images of patterns of dots on lines in through the their eyes, filtering those images through the brain and transferring them out through fingers on  a keyboard seems like a small miracle to me.  And bonus marks if it is actually pleasant to listen to!  I've always wanted to be able to play the piano but always wanting to and actually doing are two very different ideas.  Enter the Music For Young Children program.  These are parented music classes where the child is taught to read and play music and the parent learns by default. So a year ago I signed Callie and I up for Tuesday lessons and this past weekend was the debut performance for the Level 1 Sunbeams.  The Sunbeams are the rookies in the piano recital.  They look up to the Level 2 Sunbeams and the ever so talented Moonbeams groups.

About an hour before it was time to go to the recital, my little pianist's anxieties were starting to surface.  She didn't want to go.  She wasn't feeling good.  She wasn't wearing a dress. She doesn't like piano.  She was tired. She wanted to stay home.  She was curled up under a blanket on the couch almost as if she was hoping that if she curled up small enough and hid well enough she would disappear or at best, I wouldn't see her.  

I was anticipating this reaction.  We've been here before. A new situation combined with not  knowing what to expect is a recipe for stress for my girl. But just because I've seen this before doesn't mean I really know what to do to help her.  I'm constantly debating in my mind what I should do, what I should say, how I can help her, what is going to get us out the door on time. All the time questioning whether I'm doing the right thing.  Second guessing myself.  But also knowing from experience that it will all be okay once we get there. Because showing up is the hardest part in matter how old you are.

So my strategy this time was to let Callie make as many choices as possible to bring her comfort when she's feeling so vulnerable.  I told her she could pick out what she wanted to wear. Whatever she wanted as long as it was clean.  She didn't have to wear fancy shoes.  I suggested she bring her McKenna doll or her blanket to help her feel better but she refused. Did she want to bring a snack? No.  How about a stuffie? No.  No.  No.

Eventually we made it to the church where the recital was being held.  Sister was still grumbly as we entered the building and found a seat in one of the pews near the front.  The light poured in through the meticulous stained glass windows as Callie sat nervously waiting for her turn to play the piece she chose for this night. She found some comfort in the familiar faces of the kids she knew from music lessons and from school.  She watched and listened intently to the pianists that played before her in the program.  And when it was her turn to play...

Sister NAILED IT!  She played Me and My Little Dog in front of the crowd and her Mama was busy waving her I'm so proud of you freak flag, taking videos and pictures of my brave, brave girl!  I could hardly believe that my girl was soaking up those patterns of dots on lines, filtering them images through her brain and transferring them out through her fingers on the piano!  Its amazing because I sat through those Tuesday lessons for a year and I've practiced alongside her and guess what... it's not easy!  She surpassed my abilities early on.  I'm still counting my fingers and looking for middle C!

I will even dare to say that by the time Callie finished her piano solo, sang the Friendly Sharp song, and played some bells that she was maybe even enjoying herself a little when it was time to sing the Dinosaur Teeth song in the finale.  Needless to say I smothered her with "I love yous, I'm so proud of yous, You can do hard things, Kiss, Kiss, Hug, Hugs"  when we got home.

Besides piano recitals, here's some other stuff that's been happening around here...

1.  Forest Fire.  Way to close to home for comfort.  Luckily this one had a happy ending.  We sat outside watching the planes fly overhead bravely telling the girls that it will be okay.  Meanwhile my brain was thinking about what I would pack if we had to move quickly.

2.  Cancelled Soccer Practice.  Callie declared, "this was the best soccer practice ever!"  Since we were already at the soccer field we decided to take a little walk down the road to the beach.  Once a jewel of a beach back in its day, now it's overgrown and the abandoned playground has an eerie feeling.

3. Great Grandma's Birthday.  She had her birthday crown on when we got there.  She is one beautiful princess.

4.  The Park.  It's what they like to do.  Especially if there's a slurpee store nearby.

5. Time to Plant.  I'm waiting until after the full moon in June like the oldtimers say before putting any plants in the ground.  Glad I did as the temperatures dropped and the snow fell on Friday.  Yes you read that right.  It snowed on June 6th.  Yuck!

6.  Another Loose Tooth.  Tooth number three is being wiggled constantly by her tongue or her fingers.  It's kinda just hanging there all twisty looking.  

7.  Pirate Ship.  Cool "new" used toy that I got from a friend who has 3 boys who were done with it.  I wonder how her boys would feel about all the princesses that are now swabbing the deck.

8.  Camping.  We got just a tiny taste of things to come on the weekend.  Campfire, fresh fish, s'mores, and a really cool mushroom cap.  Yes, we are counting the days until summer vaycay!  18 more to be exact!