Friday, January 2, 2015

Reflections on elementary school, pt 1

My earliest school memories are a little blurry. I remember the look and layout of my kindergarten classroom and I remember having warm and fuzzy feelings towards my teacher, Mrs. Hershey. It's hard to know whether she was really that great or if it was just that her name was the same as my favorite food that engendered good will towards her. My favorite time was art, because I was obsessed with drawing pictures of myself wearing my favorite dress - my Easter dress from 1983, which was all white with puffy sleeves, a smocked bust, and thin slivers of ribbon trim at the bottom in blue, pink, and baby duck yellow. The ribbons were (obviously) my favorite part to draw and I was always very careful to make sure I drew them in the correct order that they actually appeared on my dress.

I went to a school called Parkview for kindergarten through 2nd grade, which was a slightly rundown, tan colored low-slung building from the 70's. We moved across town the summer after second grade, so when any of my memories take place at Parkview, I know I'm remembering Kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd grade.

I remember almost nothing about 1st grade. I can't even remember my teacher's name or conjure a visual of her in my head when I try. The same mostly goes for second grade, although I'm pretty sure my teacher was Miss Nelson. I remember this because there was a book that we used to read at home called Miss Nelson is Missing about an elementary school teacher that goes missing and it felt a little like I was associated with a quasi-celebrity by having an actual Miss Nelson for my teacher. It's possible Miss Nelson was actually my first grade teacher and the person I really don't remember is my second grade teacher. I know that there was another kid named Tim with the same last name as me and he liked to walk with scissors, eat paste and generally behave very poorly and my mother suffered much angst over the fact that people thought we were twins because of our shared last name.

I remember participating in the 'Pumpkin Run' at school in first or second grade (if it's not obvious, this was a "fun run" type activity that the school did during school hours in October each year) and eating shit super hard on the asphalt after literally 2 steps. It was a telling start to my lifelong non-relationship with running. I was mortified and sat with a teacher and an ice pack on my skinned knees while everyone else ran laps around the outdoor play area.

I remember there was a boy named Vincent who liked to chase me at recess and when I expressed my distress at this to my Mom, her advice was "Well, if you don't run, he can't chase you." This advice blew my mind. It was like my mom was a genius and a total moron at the same time. Because while factually true that it is impossible to chase a stationary object, it was the first hint I had that parents didn't know anything about being 6.

For most of my early elementary school years, I walked to school each morning with fellow neighbors and siblings, Craig and Kristin. They were older than me and knew the way and I was totally reliant on them to find my way to school. Perhaps another early indicator - this one of the oblivious car passenger I was bound to be as an adult. It was a winding route we took to school and they could have led me into the woods and left me for dead and 100% I would have followed them without question. When they went on vacation once I had to walk to school by myself and I literally wept with fear of getting lost. My Mom decided to make this a teaching moment and spent more time instilling confidence in me that I could do it by myself than it would have taken her to just drive me to school herself. I don't actually have any memory of the dreaded walk to school and I obviously didn't die so presumably it went fine, but I vividly recall weeping to her that I didn't even understand which button on the telephone poles made the correct crosswalk sign light up - Craig always hit those buttons for us. Again, my mother offered extremely accurate and totally moronic advice, "Just hit all the buttons on the telephone poll and eventually the one you need will turn to 'walk'". If I didn't understand anything about arrows and which way they pointed, then grown ups understood nothing about pride.

And lastly, I offer you this gem of a memory:
In either kindergarten or first grade, I was slated to start after-school care at the YMCA. I had gone there for full time care in the summer and was familiar with the facility, but the after-school program required me to wait for the YMCA van to pick me up in front of the school after class let out. I was shown where to wait in advance and was nervous but prepared. While waiting I was approached by a girl a year my senior who introduced herself as Jojo. Jojo told me that she had been getting picked up by the YMCA van after school for a while and that the drivers always thought it was super funny when the kids hid and they had to look for them at pick-up. Being a genius, I agreed that this did sound kind of funny. Also, I wanted to make a friend and be 'cool'. So we hid in a window well of the school, just around the corner from the pick-up location. I can picture the window well with Jojo and I crouched inside it together perfectly. I don't have any idea how long we hid, but I was told later that it was long enough to completely panic what I'm sure now was probably a 21 year old camp counselor-type who most definitely didn't think it was funny that 2 young girls were missing from the agreed upon pick-up location. Authorities may have been called, I don't remember. Eventually, we were located and taken to the YMCA headquarters where I proceeded to realize the scale of my error in judgement and spent the next 2-3 hours in a complete panic about what my mother would say when she picked me up and was told what had happened. This began a long and manic friendship with my more than a little WT friend Jojo that I'm 100% certain as a parent now terrified my parents and may have been a contributing factor to our move across town where I would hopefully start fraternizing with children who had better ideas of what would be "super funny".

These stories all have a slightly negative slant to them, which wasn't my intent at all. I swear that I had a happy and hilarious childhood with supportive parents and friends that weren't a bad influence! These were just some of the more entertaining stories that come to mind when I think of my early elementary school days. Stay tuned for my adventures of 3rd-5th grade at a new school in which I accidentally fart during Silent Sustained Reading, plagiarize a book report and get caught, and make friends with the school janitor named Fred.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Holiday Haps

Sugar Cookies:

Edie made us masks and they are fabulous:

Our cold, clear ferry ride to Vashon Island to meet Maggie's baby:
Hot cocoa on the island:
Little Lucy:
Our pretty ferry ride home:

Mother Daughter hot dogs at Po Boy in Ballard (she picked out the fake glasses to match her BFF who has legit glasses):
Meeting Santa!

Walking to the crazy Christmas house in our neighborhood:

In which I share a lot of dark, grainy photos

Late November and the first half of December have been full of activities. Here are some terrible photographs to prove it. First up is a trip to the Triple Door for Kristin and me to see a burlesque show that was A-mazing. And a little weird and funny.

On Thanksgiving night, we hosted some friends with babies for appetizers and had a nice, low key evening:

Baby Otis snoozed the entire time:

Baby Adeline skipped her nap and wore a jaunty, French cap that she pulled off before this photo:
We also spent some time in November at Nordstrom Rack trying on accessories.

We went to Orcas for the rest of the holiday weekend and ran into all our favorite relatives on the ferry, also heading to the island. Edie and Obie:

Edie and Luna at the cabin:

This looks super serious, but really we were just starving and digging in to dinner. This was Kathleen's birthday dinner (hence the sparkly disco ball):

Birthday dessert:

The weather that weekend was amazingly cold, crisp and clear. Javi and Jeff took an early morning hike out to the point and took these photos:

Meal time:

"Elsa came!!"

Play clay time:
I read this book approximately eleventy million times that weekend:

Jeff and Edie visited the famous gum wall at Pike Place (barf):
We hosted Edie's BFF for a movie night playdate after school and the two had a terrible time:
And of course, we picked out a christmas tree at our favorite in-city Hunter Tree Farm:

This was one of those rare times when expectations line up with your real life experience. I always want the tree process to be magical and it rarely is. But this year, we had fun picking a tree, played loud Christmas music, dimmed the lights and decorated the tree and the house with enthusiasm and it felt so much like christmas.

I'll share more photos soon of the last week or two.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dear Santa

Edie's letter to Santa is killing me with cuteness. Her words run from line to line without dashes, and no matter how many times I suggest that she put a little more space between words, she loves for them to all run together into one giant stream of consciousness (or one epic hashtag). That said, with very few exceptions, she wrote this entire letter and spelled everything without any help. The exceptions are "Dear Santa Claus", which I wrote on a separate piece of paper for her to copy (she doesn't like me hovering and telling her each letter one at a time - I'm told it's "VERY ANNOYING"), and I suggested she add an "e" to the end of the word "like", at which point I was summarily dismissed and she wrote the rest completely by herself while I was in a separate room wrapping presents. I thought this would be almost impossible to decipher but friends last night were able to figure out a good chunk of it without much help. I'll de-code it below the photo for those interested.
Dear Santa (giant comma) Claus, I woud like stompeez slipprs, an Elsa stufee (what we call stuffed animals) rappeng papr andb and sum suprisis Iv ban a good girl. 
ho! ho! ho! Marry Crismis from Edie Bee Culevr


I can't believe how determined this kid is sometimes. I really had my heart set on a perfectly worded letter that I recited to her letter by letter so it would basically look like a grown up wrote it in cute, kid handwriting. But she had such different ideas and I'm so glad I turned the control freak in me off (it wasn't easy) and just let her do this because, well maybe I don't really have to say why. I actually have no idea if this is advanced for her age, but to me, it feels like she just wrote a novel I'm so proud. 

Sadly, I'm pretty unimpressed with the actual items on the wish list. Stompeez slippers are these cheap made-in-China garbage that Santa sucked up and bought despite Jeff's (accurate) protests. And the Elsa stuffed animal is something that I think one of her aunts purchased to give her, so Santa isn't going to deliver on that one. I'm unclear if she wants a roll of wrapping paper, wants her presents wrapped in wrapping paper or if she just saw the roll of wrapping paper on the ground while writing the letter and threw it in for fun, but regardless she'll be getting some form of wrapping paper. I probably should have made her write the Santa letter earlier. But in my defense, Edie does things like this when SHE wants to and not sooner. As Jeff says, I think our issue with this kid is not going to be intelligence, but rather motivation. I'd asked her so many times earlier in the season about a letter to Santa and she shut me down every time. Until yesterday. SOO… sum suprisis it is! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014


I met up with my parents this afternoon, halfway between Seattle and Bellingham. Edie is staying with them until Thursday while I hop on a plane to the East coast for a work trip. I helped her into their car and then turned around and drove home by myself. As always, I have mixed feelings about leaving Edie behind, but this is an annual trip that I usually really enjoy, and Edie was super excited for her visit with my parents (and her cousin Caroline who is also staying with them this week), so I'm trying to let go. My parents managed to make it seem like I was doing them a favor to let them have Edie for 4 nights, so I couldn't be luckier on that front. Thanks Mom and Dad!

I apologize for the lack of quality posts of late. The truth behind my blog-slacking is that:

1. I fell down a Gilmore Girls rabbit hole. I never followed that show when it was current, but stumbled upon it a month or two ago and promptly began an epic marathon of 7 seasons, wrapping up tonight with the show finale. I'm not exactly sure what I'll do now without all that quirky banter in my life.

2. I've also been struck lately with a recurring desire that plagues me on occasion: to write a book. This happens about once a year and instead of inspiring me, it cripples me. I get all these flashes of ideas at the wrong time, like when driving on the freeway when I can't write anything down and then feel pissed when I can't remember the brilliant phrase or story line that ran through my head in the car. The obvious solution to this problem is to do absolutely nothing, right? Sorry, that was sarcasm. Because nothing is exactly what I've been doing and I'm pretty unimpressed with my response.

UGH! It is now almost 11pm and my alarm is slated to go off at an ungodly hour tomorrow… signing off until my return later this week. Happy almost-Christmas!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Parent teacher conference

I wrote this post right after Edie's parent teacher conference, so that would have been last Tuesday night. I'd planned to edit it and post on Wednesday night after putting Edie to bed. But then she claimed to be starving at 7:59pm shortly after brushing teeth and reading stories, but right before turning out the light and saying goodnight. In other words, she decided to pick a fight with me. Because we have a strict no eating after teeth brushing policy and she knows this. We even offer a bedtime snack at 7:15pm to avoid this exact scenario. Which she had turned down that night. So when I said no, she flipped out and acted like a total nightmare for about 20 minutes before deciding to be cool and going to bed exactly like nothing abnormal had happened at all. All of a sudden I felt less inclined to post this rave review of my amazing daughter and stellar parenting. But a week has passed and all is forgotten (or at least forgiven), so I suppose now I'll publish the post I wrote last week.

With no further ado….

We had our first parent teacher conference last night at Edie's school. This might seem ridiculous considering it's preschool, but they offer the chance to parents with children in the "5's" class to meet with the teacher and I took it.

I won't go into too much detail, but I wanted to write down somewhere for posterity what a proud moment it was for us as parents to hear what her teacher had to say. Because it was all just so lovely. Teacher Annette says she is very bright. On several occasions she mentioned that Edie is the only one in her entire class that can do certain things. For example, while quizzing Edie on the months of the year, she realized that Edie wasn't reciting them from memory, but rather was reading them off the wall where Annette has poster boards up for each month. She's in the most advanced reading group in her class where they divide the children into groups of 3, and she assured us that she would be at the top of her class in Kindergarten next year regardless of whether we went private or public. She said Edie is extremely gregarious and outgoing (shocker), and will not get lost in the larger class sizes at public school.

Perhaps even more important is that she is kind at school. And while she is entirely devoted to her BFF status with Shreya, Annette says they are never clique-y and always accept others into their group to play. The only not glowing remarks were:
 1. a passing comment on her chattiness and how it is only very occasionally an issue, to which Jeff replied, "I think that will be a lifelong challenge."  Ahem.
2. once in a while Shreya and Edie can be a bit "sneaky" about ensuring they are always put in the same group and paired together for activities.

Both made me smile because both remind me of my own childhood. I feel so, so lucky to be raising this charismatic, smart, and caring kid. Even if she does sometimes tell me that the dinner I made is gross. And by sometimes I mean every night that I don't make mac and cheese from a box.

Seriously though, the other night I showed up at school to pick Edie up and was stopped short in the little vestibule between the main hall and the music room where I knew Edie was. There was another Dad waiting there as well so I stopped, stunned by what we were looking at. In the music room (where the kids play at the end of the day), there were about 8 kids lined up with their backs to the lockers while one of the teaching assistants faced them. Edie was at one end of the line, closest to the vestibule where I was stopped and she was SINGING. Like, singing a SOLO. It's important to say that this has never happened - they are never singing when I show up at 5pm.

Everyone was just watching Edie while she sweetly (and totally out of tune-ly) sang 'Let it Go' from the movie Frozen. I died a hundred times. I was so many things at once - super confused as to what prompted this (did she ASK to sing? was everyone taking turns singing and I just walked in during Edie's turn?), proud (talent aside, my kid had the balls to belt out her favorite jam in front of everyone, including this random Dad looking on), a little embarrassed (did she demand everyone pay attention while she randomly sang her favorite song? And the music snob in me wondered whether she couldn't have picked something a little less predictable…sigh) but mostly I was just overwhelmed with emotion and protectiveness. She's so amazing and she's putting herself out there and it's just the beginning.

I discovered a few weeks ago that our street has been rezoned to a new neighborhood elementary school. The border for two schools was always in our backyard, but for the 2015-16 school year, it is being moved to our front yard. Edie will be going to a different school next year than I'd been picturing for the last year or two. I'm not sure it's really a bad thing, it's just a new thing. Both schools are considered good by big city public school standards and the principal at our new school is very well loved. So I guess we'll see. Crazy to think this time next year we'll be having a legit parent teacher conference with her kindergarten teacher.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

October Photo dump

We are very into the monkey bars right now. Like, VERY. And by "we" I mean Edie. Because I am actually pretty bored with sitting in the cold watching her swing to the second bar and then fall to the ground over and over. That said, I'm not a total jerk and it's touching to see how determined she is to get better. It's also been a little challenging to figure out the right way to encourage her efforts when she's being met with such slow progress. These things take time. The problem I think is that she's just so little. She can barely reach and we've had a hard time finding smaller monkey bar options that might offer her more success. This was taken at the playground across the street from her school where her class does recess, just before daylight savings, which has since eliminated our post-school practice sessions. She still begs to try during the weekends when it's not too wet and she's seeing some improvements. She can now make it to the third ring! Sometimes. It broke my heart a little when she finally got frustrated after about the 500th fall and said, "everyone in my class can do it! I'm terrible!!"

Heading out for our neighborhood halloween parade for the kiddies:

She did the parade with her neighbor pal Elana, here they are at the park afterwards sharing a Kit Kat:

Edie with her cousin Luna during Luna's 2nd birthday party:

Inspecting her scrambled eggs for pepper. I told her there was none, but she didn't believe me and proceeded to get her flashlight out to prove me wrong:
With her best friend Shreya. These two are completely inseparable. It's so nice that they have each other and I think Shreya is such a good little match for Edie - they have similar wits, temperaments, and share a strong passion for drawing princesses, cats, and everything Frozen. Every day, Edie comes home with cards that Shreya made her during art and all the pictures she draws at night are of her and Shreya in ball gowns.
My apple pie for an early Thanksgiving dinner with my family (work and life conflicts required an early get together):

A hilarious diorama Edie created with her Playmobile kit inside one of Jeff's organizing boxes that he usually uses for receipts:
My other adorable niece, Caroline wearing my big dangly earrings hooked around the top of her ears and feeling awfully proud: