Tuesday, March 26, 2013



Well, Friday was "a big one"... 


... and frankly I'm happy to be an age that finally matches how I think of myself. 

It was very much of a standard day for one and all, and that's just how I wanted it.  


I did a double-take after checking the weather, certain that I had tapped on the wrong town.  A bit of rain and snow?  Here?  In late March?  Apparently my birthday weather follows me, as there always seems to be a chance of rain or snow on my birthday. Dark billowy clouds alternated with cold sunshine all day. 

Don was at work in the morning but expected a half day, and the fact that he is hardly ever in town on my birthday made his presence gift enough.  However, while the kids and I were at Amy's dance class, he sneaked home and filled the house with balloons.  The kids thought this was the greatest thing ever.  I was just glad to be home after driving around in Friday afternoon traffic, and not feeling terribly in the party spirit.  A couple of nice phone conversations with friends and family and a cup of coffee set me straight, and the rest of our afternoon and evening was lovely. 


I made my own cake and the kiddos added the sprinkles.  
A big number 3 candle on top seemed as good as any. 




Dinner was Sausage-Kale soup, homemade bread, and martini(s). And cake. 


The whole weekend was cold and rainy, but we did manage a short local "hike" and went to church on Sunday. It was a just-right sort of birthday weekend. 


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Kindergarten: the Verdict

I have to begin by saying again how very much I appreciated the long and thoughtful comments that so many left both here and on facebook, the last time I wrote about my kindergarten dilemma.  I seriously considered printing them all out and going through each with a highlighter because I thought you all brought such unique perspectives to all angles of the discussion.  It was so helpful.

So anyway, when I wrote last, about six weeks or so ago, I was pretty much deciding between homeschooling and private kindergarten.  Even after posting and reviewing the comments I still felt stuck bouncing between those two choices day after day.  Eventually though, one floated to the top, and after all that close analysis of those two options...

We've chosen public school.  For now.  And here's why.

As I brought my dilemma to my local associates I started getting some unexpectedly positive reviews of the public elementary school Amy would be attending here.  Amy's preschool teacher, in fact, sends her three girls there and gave it such glowing praise we had to go see for ourselves.  And it turns out, you can't judge a book by its window-less cover.

Turns out this local school is a gem within the district.  It is small (comparable to what I attended).  The teachers, parents, and staff are all extremely devoted to the kids and programs there.  It is as secure as any parent can hope for these days.  It is bright, covered in artwork, and nicely laid out.

And Amy loved it.  Or, more accurately, she loved the cafeteria.  And when she said that I instantly thought, if she finds the noisy, smelly lunch room appealing, she can handle the rest, no question.

And from there the it all started making sense.  Regarding the cost of private kindergarten: I realized I was guilty of the same thing Congress tries to pull - baseline budgeting.  Just because it would only be "$150 more than what we are paying per month now" (which seems like a small sum), does not change the fact that we were talking about upwards of $3500 for the year (which is, in fact, quite a large amount of money).  So really, could we afford it?  Also, as much as I love her sweet little nursery school, she's going to be a six-year-old for most of her kindergarten year.  If she were a young "5" starting kindergarten, I might have more reason to keep her with the little kids.  As it is, I think she's going to be more than ready for a more challenging environment by the time the school year rolls around.

Also, as I hinted at somewhere back, I realized that I was projecting way too much of my own personality into the school decision.  I am most definitely an anti-social introvert.  I fit in fine at school, being simply "the quiet one", but if homeschool was an option for me I would have begged my mom to take it.  Amy, on the other hand, is a quiet girl for sure, but she needs a much higher degree of stimulation than I do.  She likes the noise and bustle of school, and loves the stream of input she can get there - both from what she observes of her peers to what she learns from her teacher.  As her preschool teacher keeps repeating to me, she craves knowledge.  Could I provide her with that?  Probably, but I might exhaust myself in the process.

As for homeschooling, I earnestly hope it can be part of our story at some point.  When William is a year or two into school I can quite easily see us all taking a year or more off the schooling grid to learn as a family.  I really want the chance to be my children's teacher, and guide them as they pursue their interests and aptitudes.  I think we'd all have a tremendous amount of fun doing it.

But, I don't want to be the one to fight with Amy over how she holds her pencil.

I think a year or two of school routine, academic skills, and all the rest will help set us up for more productive homeschooling at some later point, when we will be ready for the break.

And truly, I don't think I could feel totally convicted in my decision to homeschool without seeing first-hand what public school is like these days, and for my kids.  I don't want to deprive them of an experience, even if it may prove to be a dubious one.

Other minor point worth noting: the elementary school is about 2 miles away; the private school about 7.  We'd be talking about a $500 price tag just for the gas to drive her out and back twice a day, not to mention the most tedious 15 minutes of red lights through Sketchy McSketchville you could ever imagine.  The public school is literally right up the road.  Less travel wear and tear on everyone.

The biggest drawback is still the hours.  I still don't understand why 5- and 6-year-olds need to spend from 7:30 to 2:10 away from home, every day.  It seems like an exhausting waste of time.  Interestingly, every other parent I've spoken to feels the same way.  So why can't we go back to half-day kindergarten, people? The only saving grace is remembering again that Amy will be on the older side; she will have a maturity advantage and if every other kid can hack it, I am sure she can too.  Plus, this is the girl that is Never Tired, so having somewhere to be every morning might be just the ticket to finally getting a predictable, early bedtime.

Also worth noting: the elementary school she will attend, being so near the base, is about 75% military kids.  Amy will be in the company of kids from all over the country, who are used to doing exactly what she does: try new things every other year.  Toss in art class, music, gym class, a gorgeous library and computer lab and I think she'll have enough to make it worth her while.

And then we can reassess for first grade, after we move.

So that's the story.  Long enough?  I'm sure I've left out some part of the equation but that's a pretty good snapshot of what's been in my head through this whole process.  We haven't actually registered yet but my conviction has continued to grow as the weeks pass.  When asked the question, "Where will she go for kindergarten?" I have found myself more and more confident in my response: "She'll go to public school."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Where Were We?


Well, it was lovely to be in such a regular blogging routine last month; I miss it now that I seem to have slipped back to my barely-weekly posting schedule.  So let's catch up a bit, shall we?  Apologies in advance  for what will probably be an excruciating amount of detail.  It's my therapy. 

Daylight savings time is for the birds.  Of course I have fond memories of playing outside after dinner in the long summer evenings of my childhood.  But it pretty much ends there.  Daylight savings beginning in March only means that not only is it still cold in the mornings, but it is once again dark, too.  I could barely get Amy to sleep at a decent hour as it was, never mind her now feeling REALLY energized at the new "early" bedtime.  Now I know why my mother always hated changing time. 

We have, however, gotten our preschool-morning routine down to a science and have found ourselves out the door pleasantly on-time despite the late wake-ups.  Have I mentioned how much Amy loves school?  I think she is still glad to be home most of the time, but her enthusiasm for her school days is certainly more than I ever had, ever.  Oh, and a decision has been reached on the kindergarten subject, but I'll save that update for another time.  

Don got home at the beginning of March.  He was away for all of February, doing all sorts of shiny Coast Guard things in dangerous and beautiful places. I'm proud of him, but was reminded in a very first-hand way that behind every story that makes us citizens proud of our military, there is a family at home that just wants their husband/daddy to get done with work and come home.  It was a long month.  Oh, and just today Don was unexpectedly awarded the Joint Services Achievement Medal, for the work he did last June at the Tradewinds conference in Barbados. This makes his tenth ribbon (but who's counting) and highest award yet.  Sorry for bragging, but he works so hard and I get rather giddy when he gets the recognition he never seeks but very much deserves.  

I had the pleasure of my parents' company for much of the last few weeks.  The kids and I met up with my mom at my grandparents' house and after spending a rainy but nice weekend with them brought Mom back here for a two-week visit.  My dad joined us for the last week, and all in all it was a lovely time.  I miss my mommy and daddy and love their company, and love my kids' fondness for them both.  Living far apart may be a challenge but it is also a blessing, because it allows for these long visits, where my folks get to see the kids at all times of the day, totally in their element, and not just as a special short visit.  Good stuff.  

Let's see, what else?  Sewing - nada.  Crocheting - working not very earnestly on a giant-granny style afghan using those darn leftover skeins of Supersaver yarn that just won't go away.  I have been making great progress on my little cross-stitch lighthouse scene, and will soon be beginning the back-stitching and detail work, then done!  Very exciting.  

I've been mildly obsessed with the kitten cam. How can anyone not be?  Every evening, five or ten (or thirty) minutes watching those little guys is about as soothing as it gets.  

We did some great local adventuring last weekend.  All the pictures are on my phone, and there are too many to email myself like I usually do which means I'll have to -gasp!- get out the cord and load them up properly.  Then I'll share.  

Hmm.  There's probably more I'm sure but I think that will do for now.  Ollie's been helping me write this, and was a little jealous of Humphrey getting the cameo pictures up top.  


Oh, and he likes watching the kitten cam, too. 

Anyway, that's enough for now.  More sooner rather than later, I hope! Thanks for checking in. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Some New Dirt


It's a little bit of a bummer when a front loader and dump truck show up to fill in the favorite mud puddle/ frog pond, but having Bob the Builder in your backyard for the morning kinda makes up for it.