Monday, June 17, 2013

One Week Down, Nine To Go!

Week one of summer vacation is quickly shrinking away in the rearview mirror and we're full-steam ahead into week two.

Last week was Tae Kwon Do camp, where Ethan broke boards and moved up 1/2 a stripe.  This week, he will be building things with those magical little blocks (and foot arch nemesis) at Lego camp.   Bedtimes have been erratic, and considerably later than usual.  Wake-ups have been downright teenager-esque.  This weekend Husband and I went in to his room to rouse him at 9am so we could go out for Father's Day breakfast.

When he's not sleeping in or breaking boards, we've been spending a lot of time at the pool.  From mid-afternoon until dinner time, you can generally find my kid cannonballing into the deep end or convulsing shivering his way over to the hot tub to fend off the hypothermia (ah, the perils of those with 0% body fat).

I've also instituted a 20-minute quiet reading time into each day, as well as a page or two out of one of those "summer bridge activity" books.  These have met with varying levels of success.  A couple weeks ago, Ethan read an entire Magic Tree House (Jack and Annie, those crazy kids got mixed up with some ninjas and age-appropriate chaos ensued) in one sitting.  I received a mini-book-report at the end of every chapter, along with the disclaimer, "I'm just going to read one more chapter," until there were no more chapters to read.  I might have been kvelling a bit; Ethan's always loved books, but until recently has been hesitant to really get into a book on his own, for the fun of it.  So I hoped that was the beginning of a voracious daily reading habit.  And maybe on some level it is, but for now it seems to have been a one-of sort of thing.  By late last week, Ethan was well into bargaining mode on exactly how many days and for just how long he had to read.  "How about I read for 10 minutes for 4 days and then get the rest of the week off?"  Um.  How about "no."  I reiterated management's 20-minutes each weekday policy and there was much whining.

But no amount of whining about reading compared to the outright rebellion I received when I introduced the workbook, with the rule that we will do ONE page (front and back), each week day.  One page of 1st grade review.  We're talking a five minute commitment, even with a heavy dose of day-dreaming and lollygagging stirred in the mix.  Oh my lord.  You'd have thought I was suggesting he master quantum physics and string theory (I don't know what either of those things are, but I've heard of them on NPR's Science Friday AND The Big Bang Theory) in his spare time between finding the cure for cancer and solving the problem of world hunger.  One page of a work book is apparently high-stakes pressure for a seven year old on summer vacation.  There was much, "I'm not supposed to have to do ANY work on summer vacation!!!!!" hand-wringing, and my favorite, "DON'T YOU CARE ABOUT MY HAPPINESS???!! I WILL NOT BE HAPPY IF I HAVE TO DO SCHOOL WORK! DON'T YOU CAAAAAAARE?"

How precious.

The best part was when I got him quieted down long enough to look at the first activity, which went something like this, "Look at each of the picture.  Then circle the consonant sound that each word begins with," followed by a picture of a cat with the letters "c" and "t" below it for options.

'THIS IS SO EEEEEEEASY!!!!" he squealed with delight and gladly went about his one page of brain-strain and told me repeatedly how I got purchased the wrong book because this was far too easy and he could be done with the whole book by the end of the week.  Of course, when I suggested if it was so easy, why not go ahead and do 3-4 pages at a sitting, he got all rule-follower-y on me and referred to the "Day One" at the top of the page.  "Mom, we're only supposed to do one page a day.  Those are the rules."  Fair enough.

Look, a bunch of pictures of Ethan at the pool. Note: a combination of squinting in the sun and his general weariness of my incessant need to document every moment of his life have led to the Chandler-esque fake smile of a child humoring his increasingly irritating mother.  He's got it tough.

Now that he's too big to hang in the kiddie pool during adult swim, a lime icy is the only thing that makes those infernal 15 minutes every hour tolerable.

Three years of swim lessons to coax the kid to put his head under water, and now Husband has taught him how to dive in one afternoon at the pool. Sigh.  Although, I must use the word "dive" very loosely, as you can see in this picture his foot is the first thing making contact with the water...

 what form...

omg, he's so annoyed at me!

His friend Harry is so willing to pose and smile for me, but Ethan insisted on floating away in every single picture I tried to take of them.

After tae kwon do camp, Ethan & Husband dug out Husband's old tae kwon do gear and we found this gem from his sparring days.  MACHO!

This weekend, after Ethan requested permission to make a random trip to Target to spend one of his birthday gift cards on "something I find, that I want!" I directed him up to the room where toys go to die his playroom, and told him to look in the closet for the pile of Chrismukkah/birthday presents that are still in their original packages and suggested that for the rest of the summer he treat that closet like his own private aisle at Target.  So he pulled out this gem-finding Smithsonian kit and we took turns smashing the hell out of it with the wooden chisel and dusting it off lovingly with the teeny little brush that came with the kit.  To date, we have found 10 little gems of varying degrees of "oooooh & ahhhhh"-ness.  Ethan loves goggles.

Oh, another pool picture! (out of order).  Please note, this is the only picture you will see of me this summer in a bathing suit.  You're welcome.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Last Week of Schooooooool!!!

Summer is in the air, interwebs.  This is Ethan's (and most of California's, I'm guessing) last week of school and the "let's spend 5 instructional days post-grade-hand-in playing UNO and having water balloon fights has commenced.  Bulletin boards lining the hallway that were just last week crammed with rainbow colored fish & 1st grade haikus about the four seasons are now stripped down naked and the hallway echoes just a little bit.  I spent yesterday afternoon dropping food coloring into various bowls of cake batter to make rainbow cupcakes for today's field trip to a local park.  In a few days, my baby will be a 2nd grader.

As sort of the big finale to their academic year, Ethan's class presented a theatrical production last Thursday called "Life Cycles," about biological phenomenon like adaption, food chain dynamics and metamorphosis--things I knew absolutely nothing about in 1st grade in the 70's.  Ethan & three of his friends were snakes, complete with hisssssing s's & slick sun glasses. They were, surprise surprise, the comic relief of the play, showing up when the hosts were trying to move things along, dropping one liners and being cheeky.  I'd post all eleventy billion videos I took during those 26 minutes, but considering there are 18 other kids in the videos, and I'd like to not end up on every other 1st grade parents' list of "people we loathe for putting pictures of our kid online without our permission," I'm not going to show you any.  Yeah, sorry about that. There'll probably be some on my Facebook page at some point and really only about 4 of you read this anyway, and you're my FB friends in the first place, so.  Fortunately, my iPhone took such horribly blurry pictures of the event, that I feel totally confident sharing a few of these pictures, as none of the children are really all that identifiable, including my own.

The cast party came complete with watermelon and juice boxes.  Just like Broadway.

Friday night, after dinner we went for a little walk in our 'hood. This tree?  Is massive.  Like three giant trunks all coming out of one tree massive.  I have to admit, a lot about why I fell in love with our house is because owning in this neighborhood meant I got to drive past this beast every day.  Nerd girl (um, me.) gets a little "ooooh, its like one of the Ents from Lord of the Rings"-y when she (I) drive/s by it. But if that tree's an Ent, that probably means the spiders I constantly find in our house--big, ugly brown things that come up through our drains and hang out in our showers and sinks (want to come for a visit?!) must be some sort of Shelob.  Ah, Mordor mountain living.

After that little adventure, we came home & roasted marshmallows in our little fire place.

Sir Persnickety von Fussypants prefers his marshmallows only the slightest bit toasted.  As in, wave them over the weakest flame of the lot for about 10 seconds, declare the whole process too complex and highly flammable, insist that you like them "this" way.  "This" way being not at all different from how they come out of the bag, except with a little puncture mark from the fork.  Apparently that puncture mark is where all the marshmallowy goodness is for him.

And that little 3-wick cintronella candle?  Is a joke.  Which meant that after about 3 marshmallows a piece (which really is quite enough, says my logical brain), we made the decision to head back indoors to avoid becoming a mosquito buffet.  But still--evening walks & roasting marshmallows! Yay summer!!

Saturday, Ethan went bowling and to Benihana's for lunch while I did exciting things like laundry and researching how to make your own cat food (a different post for a different day).  After that, we met friends at their pool club and stayed through dinner.  Note to self: you made the "never eat while in a bathing suit" rule last year for a reason.  Seriously.

As if all of that wasn't enough, on Sunday we got all rustic summer lovin' and joined friends at a honest to goodness, old-timey swimming hole in the mountains.  Like, a clearing in the trees and rocks, filled with running water, complete with rock cliffs for the I'm-wicked-invisible-and/or-wicked-stupid teenagers to take death-defying leaps into the waiting water below.

A quick Blue Steel pose before the frolicking begins...

so for those keeping score, that's one cliff to dive off of, one kick ass rope swing in the corner for soaring over the water and floats.  I'm afraid the pool pales in comparison. 

and look at all the pretty trees!

There was much floating aimlessly, like Sundays are meant to be. 

I didn't get in because the water felt like freezing cold needles jabbing at my ankles.  But this kid spent 2 hours floating in the just-barely-melted-icicles and pitched a pouty fit when it was time to get out.  Even though his lips were purple and his fingers were shriveled to tiny little pasty prunes.

Yesterday, Ethan woke up cranky & fake sick.  So I fake took his temperature and decided to go with it.  We ran errands....

cruising through the beer & wine aisle with a cart full of cake mix and frosting.  So very classy. 

Ethan helped me make the rainbow cupcakes.  Again--he's not sick.  So the breathing all over the cake batter?  Juuuuust fine.  He's an excellent stirrer.

will his cowlick ever go away?  I feel like it keeps getting bigger and crazier.  Like his hair is punishing us for hacking it off.

Really, these are more like tie-dye cupcakes than rainbow, but we can't all be Martha Stewart.

After the errands and the baking, I decided to start summer vacation reading a little early.  I haven't heard anything about required summer reading from E's school, but we're going to spend 30 minutes a day doing quiet reading during the weeks of summer break.  Ethan and I went out onto the porch with our books and two hours later, we were still reading.  Ethan read his Magic Treehouse book from cover to cover, announcing the completion of each chapter as he got to it. I got to finish my book, The Three Weismanns of Westport, which I loved.  And I got to watch Ethan throw himself completely into a book for the first time ever.  He's always loved being read to, and I'm pretty sure he's reading at grade level at this point, thanks to a teacher who didn't write him off two weeks into the year (but I'm not bitter or anything...).  But he's never just sat with a book and read 70 pages in one sitting.

He was pretty proud of himself, too.

This morning, I walked a much improved, especially considering he wasn't remotely close to sick to begin with, Ethan, and his classmates to the park for their end of year field trip.  After a quick run down of the rules from the teachers, the swarm of 1st graders descended on the play structures like a biblical, gleefully screamy plague of locusts.

How no one lost a finger on this contraption, I'll never know. So many kids crawling over each other to get to the top.

Seriously, is some catalogue photographer standing next to me tell him to strike these poses? 

When kick ball games and potato sack races collide...

all grownsed up.

I could hear my own hamstring tearing just watching him kick the ball...

No idea what was funny here, but omg, the cute!

Bring it, summer!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Where the Wild Things Are....

I was going to write this post last night, but then one of our neighborhood coyotes started yipping up a storm right behind our garage.  So instead of writing, I stood out on our side deck and listened to his barks echo all over the valley.  Until our up the hill neighbor opened his screen door and yelled, "SHUT UP!!!!"  Ahhh, nature lovers.  Although to be fair, its still a novelty to me; I'm guessing some day I'll see the coyote's howling as an annoyance on the same level as the puffy red squirrel who is constantly trying to get into my bird feeder.  At any given moment, I can be seen opening my screen door and lunging towards the feeder, waving a magazine and yelling "SHOO!!! Go away squirrel!! That food is for my birds!!"  Yes, my birds.  I own them.   I'm going to be an awesome old lady, with my birds and my cats.  My poor husband.

Yesterday morning as we were pulling out of our driveway, Ethan said, "Mommy, a deer!!" I slammed on the breaks afraid I was about to steamroll Bambi, even though my rearview camera showed no evidence of a deer, or anything else for that matter, in the green zone.  Except the cliff on the other side of the road from our driveway.  Yeah, there's a sheer-ish cliff right below our steeply inclined driveway.  Want to come over?!

"No, mommy, not behind the car, up there!"  Ethan pointed up into the brush/trees/rhododendron bushes that comprise our front yard.  Nope.  No deer.  "See?  His ears?" my eagle-eyed kid said and when I looked again, there it was.  So close, massive ears all perked up, just his face showing above one of the bushes.  He was just starting to get his antlers; they were nubby little things on his head, and his eyes were just massive.  Husband has also seen a spindly-legged, Bambi-spotted baby fawn recently as well.  And last week I caught a bunny hopping through our back yard.  I haven't seen the bobcat more than twice, which is kind of a bummer, because...well, you know me & cats.

In news of the more civilized and human kind, the kid is almost out of school--this time next week he'll only have one more full day??  I have to say, this year has been a rollercoaster for us, and I'm still not quite done being bitter about how Ethan (and Husband and I) were treated at his old school.  In talking to his new teacher, who's now had him in class for five months, I am certain more than ever that the old school was simply looking for a way to manage classroom behavior that required no effort on the part of the teacher.  His new teacher was shocked that they'd pushed so hard to have him evaluated at all, let alone medicated.  She assured me that in all these months, she's not seen one red flat that would have prompted her to suggest either.  This, after the old school sent him home early four days into school because he was "being silly," and was sitting us down to talk about a plan of action for evaluating and medicating our kid before the end of September.  Is it possible that he simply matured in that time and outgrew the sillies?  Sure.  Its also possible that the different structure of the new school is what he needed to be a successful learner.  Its also possible that he actually does have ADD/ADHD, but has clearly developed coping mechanisms at this new school that he was not given the option or the help to acquire in the old school.  Either way, he's happy now.  And he's learning, which the other school said he'd be utterly unable to do without medication.

This summer we'll be getting our Lego, Theater, Space & Tae Kwon Do camps on, as well as some trips to some places.  I tried to keep some of our time open, so we can do things like this hike we took on Sunday---

My boys are wicked outdoorsy 

There was a lengthy search for the perfect walking stick.  Husband and I were happy with Ethan's cast-offs. He is a very picky walking stick picker. 

We "discovered" what looked to be some sort of foundation stones off the trail.  Weird. 

Here I am, thinking we're taking a sweet mother & son photo. Seriously, how do I not yet realize that he's going to make a face 99.9% of the time?  

And again.  

I love me some trees.  Although the peaceful idyllic mood one generally associates with a hike through the wilderness, listening to the birds and the quiet hush of the breeze rustling the leaves was not quite our experience on Sunday.  No, this trail is on the other side of mountain highway from the local shooting range.  So, yeah.  Instead of hundreds of chirping birds, we heard hundreds of guns shooting hundreds of bullets at targets, about a mile away from us.  Constantly.  So, you know, super relaxing. 

 Stopping for a little z-bar, the hipster-pretending-to-be-a-hippie's choice in mid-hike snackage.  Also? When did he turn into a teenager?  

Tomorrow is Ethan's class play.  I've been furiously working to whip up signs to identify the characters and a program for the parents.  This involves a whole lot of scouring for clip art (which feels so mid-90's to me), yarn, construction paper and laminating machines.  I'm all kinds of volunteery.  Ethan is going to be a snake in his play, which is apparently called "Life Cycles."  He has to wear a white t-shirt, jeans and a pair of sunglasses.  He has been coming home for weeks boasting about how he's learned "all his lines" (probably a few words?) and that his teacher tells him he's the only one singing with "infection" (inflection, I guess?), so he's very proud of that, my little actor. 

So you're caught up on us.  Wild animals, gun hikes, and snake plays.  Its all good.