It's close to 7am, and the sun is starting to assert its presence. I'm sitting at the dining table with a cup of tea, listening to Ellie read "Lost and Found" to Stephanie in the playroom. Over the weekend, Markus erected our super-cheapo tent in there, and those girls have filled it with toys, blankets, cushions and books. It is their current reading spot. Ellie has exploded into reading. Just as she does with everything else from walking and talking onward, she goes ages, tarrying over a skill to the point I start to wonder if there's a problematic reason why she won't do it...and then BOOM! SHE'S GOT IT!
In true Montessori fashion, writing exploded first. She began to write on everything. I bought her a notebook and her own pen (oh, the joy!), and when she failed to pack it, I bought her a new one in Bali so she could continue her important work while on holiday. She wants to write on the computer all the time, but I still restrict that quite heavily as I still view it as screen time that should be minimized. Perhaps I can find her a typewriter... I bet she'd love it! Birthday idea just sprung up here...
Since moving up to Middle Primary, we've watched our Ellie blossom again. In the Montessori environment, the classes are mixed-age. She is in with the kids from age 6-9 now (though they tend to move them up again by or just before that 9th birthday). At first, we had serious reservations about moving her up two terms early. We were concerned the kids would tease her about her age (she's not six until September), and she is so incredibly sensitive. Most kids don't move up until they are reading and writing well, but Ellie was doing neither. We envisaged this as a starting point of endless teasing. One of her older friends was already in the class but had formed a tight friendship of two with another girl, and I was afraid their exclusivity would keep her from integrating. I've been half-tempted for months to pull her out of the school entirely and homeschool her, though we were never big in the homeschooling camp before. We had been watching Ellie wilt for so long, and we weren't at all convinced the move to the next age group was well-timed. I am so happy to be wrong!
While we still maintain that the school moved her up for its own purposes (not for her readiness as it claims), she has really come into her own again since the change. She loves going to school! She has been so unimpressed with these winter holidays, asking every day if it's a school day and seeming quite disappointed when it is not. Rather than being phased by that tight friendship I worried about, she hasn't really noticed. She jumped right into friendships with other kids, and she has reported none of the teasing that had us so concerned.
Academically, she became a huge fan of maths. Every day she was telling us tales of her math notebook and all the pages she is filling with her math work. She enjoys addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. To pass time on the drive from Ubud to the airport, Markus fed her word problems and she didn't want to stop! Looking at the traffic, he would ask questions like: "There are two motorcycles on the road. Then, four more motorcycles turn onto the same road. How many motorcycles are there?" Six. Correct! "Now, three of the motorcycles turn left and one turns right. How many motorcycles are still going straight?" Two. She'd nail it every time! After nearly 30 minutes of this, Markus was running out of ideas about motorcycle math, so she had a simple solution: "Let's do shirts!"
And now, we're getting into reading. Her world will never be the same again.
Today was our first day back to routine after two weeks of change. Markus went back to work. The girls were home with me since school is out on winter holidays. The weather was cold and rainy.
After the girls were in bed asleep, Markus asked me what we did today. "Did you play with them much?" he asked. "Not really," I answered, a bit puzzled at what we had actually done all day...so I started to list out loud our day's events.
Ellie was up early today. Stephanie woke up after Markus had left for work, sleeping late because she napped yesterday and thus went to bed late. At her request, I played games with her in the playroom as best I could through her grumpy-sleepy haze. Once she was awake and happy, I started chores while they played together. I washed our sheets, went through every piece of the girls' clothes to weed out what fits and what doesn't and reorganized. We went to three grocery stores this morning to complete my week's shopping list (sheesh!). They were so patient with that process that we stopped in for a cookie at a cafe after shop #2. After grocery shopping, we came home and ate lunch. They played for a while and then we baked a chocolate cake, as Ellie insisted at the break of dawn that today is Lolo's birthday. While the cake was in the oven, I gave the girls a bath in the indoor pool and cut their hair. While the cake cooled, we wandered across to grocery store #4 across the street to buy extra cake decorating goodies Ellie had deemed absolutely necessary after consulting a cookbook on children's birthday cakes (a book she kept on hand for five hours and declared was actually her copy, not mine). Back home again, whip up some chocolate buttercream frosting and decorate the cake. Host Lolo's birthday party, although Ellie remains unimpressed with me for not inviting other guests from school at her last minute request. The girls played and danced to some music while I cleaned up the kitchen. Then, we all had story time for about half an hour. They were both starting to get tired and teary when I heard Markus come home.
Amazing. It didn't feel like a big day, but we were so busy all day long! I wanted to record it, this glimpse into the day of this mama and this family. Nothing special, yet everything special. It's good to be home.