Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Here we go again

Hi there, friends and family for whom this blog is intended!

I'm sorry to have to do this to you, but this blog is going password-protected again.  As before, you will have to sign in with a password you choose.  I can't see it.  When I make the blog private, Google will send you an email inviting you to view the blog.  You will click the link in that email and set up a password.

I know it is so very much easier to check in with us when this is a public blog, but alas, sketchy behaviour* is once again motivating this change.  It's unfortunate, but I think it's either password protection or no more blogging.

I will make the change by the end of this week.

*What sketchy behaviour?  A significant number of visitors being directed here by a Russian porn site cannot be good.  I don't know how or why, but that needs to stop.  I've already gone into my flickr account and hidden the pics of our nudist Stephanie from her toddler years, but still.  I just can't have my words and images out there in this kind of crazy.

Peanut gallery

We were trying to get Ellie to figure some math tonight.  A 12th grader came to the door, collecting for charity.  She couldn't believe he was in high school because "he looked so old!"  If she is in 2nd grade and he is in 12th grade, how many years older is that?

Stephanie piped up with some guesses: "10!"  "12!"  "Painting!"

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Numbers of Ellie...and Stephanie

Ellie was completing a homework sheet "All About Me in Numbers" with questions like "What are the numbers in your street address?  What is your height in inches?"

The last question was "How many books do you own?"

This one was overwhelming.  I told her she didn't really have to go count them but to just make up a number higher than 100, like 147.  She asked if she could put 1000, but I thought that might overdo it.

Then Stephanie suggested, "Put '50 like a tiger'."


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

First day of Pre-K

Ellie wasn't the only girl in this family who started school on Wednesday.

first day at pre-K

Stephanie has started attending FriendShip preschool at the Presbyterian Church near our house.  The preschool is not religious, though they do say a prayer of thanks before snacktime.  It has a play-based learning model, which Stephanie loves!  She has been a happy camper since day one.  She was so very ready to go to school.  Of course, I'm sure it helps that last week was a starter week with only one hour of school each day for three days.  Her regular week will be daily "school" for only 2.5 hours, a far cry from her rigorous, highly regulated 8:30-1:30 days at her previous Montessori school.

I've always been a big believer in the Montessori method for under-6s.  While no one approach is perfect, I really like the emphasis on independence and structure in the Montessori system.  It was ideal for our rule-bound Ellie; not so much for our free-spirited Stephanie.  We always suspected that a play-based program would suit her personality better, but it wasn't worth sending the girls to two different schools to find out.  In this location, however, we have no choice about that; two different schools was our only option.  Stephanie is thrilled!

In the US, Kindergarten is the first year of mandatory schooling.  The year before that in most preschools is called Pre-Kindergarten or Pre-K.  Since Stephanie won't reach the Pennsylvania age cut-off for kindergarten until next year, she is in pre-k now. Her teacher, Mrs. Lear, is very kind, warm and experienced.  She gave up teaching kindergarten more than 10 years ago and has been teaching at this preschool ever since.  There are only seven other children in the afternoon class (mornings are more popular; we couldn't get in), so the small class size is fantastic.  From the very first day, Stephanie has gone in without a backward glance.  We're so happy we found a great place for her too.

  first day of pre-k

Back to school

her desk

Today, Ellie starts second grade at Sewickley Academy.  She is in Ms. Boehmig's (pronounced "Bay-mig") class.  Here, I actually got a smile as she sat down at her desk for the first time.

After months of change and without school, Ellie was understandably apprehensive this morning.  There were tears and fears of my leaving her there.  After a while, she let go of me long enough for me to go get her a tissue...and when I returned, her teacher had taken my place.  She was snuggled in close to Ellie, soothing her with kind words and offering reassurance.

  with her lovely teacher

This is going to be a great year!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Ellie's surprise party

Weeks ago, Ellie started looking ahead to her birthday (this Friday!).  All she wanted, she said, was to have a surprise party with her friends (from Australia...sigh).  I couldn't make that last part happen, and I was a bit worried about the first part too.  Although we live on a street overrun with little girls (22 on our street!), we haven't really made friends with them yet.  I wasn't sure how we could do a party, what's more a surprise party.  And then, it all worked out.

This past weekend, we drove to Northern Virginia to visit family.  With school starting on Wednesday, we knew this would be our last chance to drive over there until Thanksgiving.  While it was a bit whirlwind and exhausting, it was worth it!  We all enjoyed extra time with Mimi.  I was able to have a nice solo chat/visit with my grandpa and a girls' night out with my mom, sister and my grandpa's wife, Barbara.  The girls enjoyed their first iced custard while we visited Uncle Bob, Christina and baby Lily.   On Sunday, my sister and her husband, Matt, hosted a family brunch.  When she called to check the menu with me, I asked if perhaps we could have a balloon or two and call it a surprise party for Ellie.  Then, my mom got hold of the idea and there was no way she could stop at a balloon or two!  It was a full-blown, super-exciting princess-themed surprised birthday brunch party.  And the girl who only wanted a surprise party for her birthday this year...did she love it?  Decide for yourself.

birthday girl!

so excited!

Uncle Bob

surprise party banner

silly boys

opening presents

See those curled up feet?  That is true excitement.
Thank you to my family for this truly special event.  She was/is so very happy.  I know she will never forget it.