Saturday, August 30, 2014

The First Week

We survived the first week of school!

Rachel was a bit reluctant to start 1st grade. She has a different teacher than Katherine did, and she was sure that Mrs. H was not going to be "fun". And her first day was not the best... She got mad at a couple of boys in her class and hit them. This, of course, got her in trouble. And for all her orneriness, Rae hates to be in trouble. When her teacher came to talk to me after school, Rachel started sobbing. She cried most of the way home. She was planning on having Katherine sign her behavior chart and when I pointed out that she would still need to tell Dad, she cried some more. She eventually got herself under control and asked with all seriousness "Why do I have to have a punishment every single time I'm bad?"

Since that rocky first day, Rachel has done just fine in first grade. She has managed not to hit anyone else. She's played the triangle and maracas in music class. She's made some new friends. She aced her very first spelling test. And she thinks Mrs. H is "the best teacher ever!"

Katherine is now a 5th grader (a fact that continues to stun and amaze me...). She has known for years that once she finished 4th grade, she would move from the little elementary school where I teach to the large Intermediate School in the town where we live. She has worried about that since she was Rae's age and has been on major anxiety alert for the past six months. New school. New town. New friends. New routine. That was a LOT of change for my girl who hates change! But when the start of school finally rolled around, Kate couldn't wait to go. She was done worrying and was just ready for the adventure. And she has managed it all beautifully!

Katherine goes to school with Steve and rides the bus to her building, moves between classrooms and teachers for different subjects, finds her way around the building with 400 other 5th and 6th graders, does her homework in class, and rides the bus back to Steve's school at the end of the day. She thinks 5th grade is fabulous and hops out of bed ready to go every morning. She's delighted to have a wider diversity of kids in her classes and is looking forward to teachers asssigning "real work". She is also madly in love with the accessories of intermediate school - notebooks, binders, agenda book, photo ID. Her only complaint has been that orchestra is a zoo - with 60 kids trying out stringed instruments for the first time, I'm sure it is!

We are all enjoying sleeping in and taking it easy this Labor Day weekend, but when Tuesday rolls around, we'll all be ready to go back to school.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Asian Market at Botanica

Our favorite botanical gardens had an Asian Market this evening, with vendors selling food and trinkets and groups providing entertainment. Despite hot, steamy weather, we loaded up and went.

The girls were delighted to have a chance to wear their fancy Chinese clothes. Rachel's outfit was from her province and I've never seen anything like it anywhere else!
Katherine has outgrown all of her little girl silks and now shops the women's section of Chinese shops. Her newest blouse is gorgeous, and so grown up.
There were food vendors selling all sorts of Asian food - Chinese, Malaysian, Filipino, Taiwanese. We bought an assortment to share. Rice, noodles, egg rolls, dumplings, tea eggs, mochi balls, curry puffs, and the lovely coconut flavored jello stuff were all a hit!
This was Kate's ideal meal - lots of interesting tastes and textures.
Rachel was happy to sample food, sit on all the adults' laps, and play with Granny's camera.
After we finished eating, there was a lion dance performance. These lions were amazing!
There were also traditional dance performances by dancers of various ages, all in beautiful costumes.
It was too miserably hot and humid to explore the gardens, but I did make sure to visit the water lillies. I can never get enough of them!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Belly Flop

Our neighbor invited my girls to come and swim in her pool this evening. The girls were delighted to take her up on that idea!
After some splashing and posing...
...the pool party turned in to one long game of Name That Jump. Watch me do a bird jump! I call this one the Tornado! Here's a Vampire Bat! The Grandma! Let's do a Shark!

The last big splash of the summer was a lot of fun!

Friday, August 1, 2014

We Have a Winner!

Remember when Katherine took over the camera at the botanical gardens?
Well, she took some good pictures that day, including a beautiful shot of a water lily. Granny suggested that she enter some photos in the open class at the county fair. Kate thought that sounded fun, so we printed and mounted them and took them out to the fair grounds yesterday afternoon. This evening we went out to explore the fair and checked on her pictures. One got a red ribbon, which pleased Kate. And the other one, the one of the water lily?
It won a purple ribbon - top of the class! Katherine was really excited about that! The rest of the family was pretty proud, too.

Katherine has grown up watching me take pictures constantly. I am rarely without a camera, just in case. Granny is the same way, and I learned from her. Granny learned to love photography because of her Uncle George, who was always interested in pictures, and her grandfather, who ran a photography studio. I suppose this purple ribbon is proof that the "photography gene" has reached the fifth generation of my family. So watch out, there are shutterbugs everywhere!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Puddle Jumping

It rained all day here - a nice, gentle, soak-it-in rain. This afternoon I sent the girls out in their rain boots for a walk. They found the first puddle at the end of the drive way.
They took a few practice jumps...
...and kicks.
And then they let loose.
Double time!
Then I sent them off to the park, where bigger and better puddles awaited.
They eventually came home with their hair dripping and drenched from armpits to toes (which was pretty much the point of the whole adventure). They had to pour the water out of their boots before they came inside!
Puddle jumping - isn't it on every kid's bucket list?

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Big Stink

This evening, the girls and I went to visit the corpse flower at the local college. Corpse flowers are huge, rare jungle plants that only bloom after many years. Their blooms smell of rotten meat (to attract the flies that pollinate them) and only last a single day. They are extrememly bizarre!
It was certainly the largest and weirdest flower I have ever seen. And the stinkiest! Despite the once-in-a-lifetime viewing, Rachel was not impressed.
So long, giant corpse flower, it sure was an adventure to see you!

Flower Power

There were lots of beautiful flowers at the botanical gardens, of course. In fact, all of us kept getting distracted by the blooms while we were supposed to be posing for pictures. Every time I go to Botanica, I find a new interesting plant. Here are my favorites from this visit:

How can you not love a flower as big as your head? The blooms are beautiful, but the gigantic buds, enormous leaves, and shower head like seed pods look like something from Dr. Seuss!

Hardy Hibiscus
These are another gigantic flower - the blooms are as big as a dinner plate. The bees were happy to dine in them.
And the seed pods look just like Seymour, the carnivorous star of Little Shop of Horrors!
Feed me!!

Water Lilies
Oh, the water lilies...
I understand why Monet painted them so often.
They are so elegant and so serene.

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way