Friday, September 23, 2011

A is for Alphabet

Pk has started school and as part of the kindergarten programme in her classroom, there is a letter and a colour of the week. I love it! She may not be entirely in love with school (her feelings are very mixed at the moment) but her mom is certainly having fun.

The letter of the week is something that has become a wonderful project for us. Each child is supposed to take in one item that begins with that letter. I want to go one better and have Pk take in one experience connected to the letter. For the letter A, we went apple picking.

The wagon ride was a fun way to begin.

I got Pk to help me make an apple pie (we love this "Deep Dish Apple Pie" which only has a top crust over lovely filling - I'd share the recipe but it comes from my mom's old cookbook)
We also made this applesauce that we love
I plan to make this a year of memories that we can keep forever and part of that is a scrapbook.

Her teacher also has colour days. Once a week, the kids are supposed to wear clothing that fits the colour theme, if they have it (and no, it isn't all that sensitive to the kids who don't have parents who will go and buy them clothing to follow the colour for that week but up here, that isn't really an issue most of the time). I've come to realise just how much the colours available follow the trends - this month, it was red, orange and yellow. For red, I was lucky that we already had a red shirt and pants, for orange, all I could find were orange socks and the shirt with orange flowers (which I happen to really like on Pk) and a yellow shirt at Old Navy. Now when pink day comes, we will have that covered from head to toe!

I'm having a ridiculous amount of fun with this. I hope that Pk does, too!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall Nesting Party

I was driving home this afternoon, with a pumpkin spice latte, with the cool rain outside the car and I got thinking about fall. It is absolutely my favourite season. I love the deeper blue of the sky, the rich colours of the leaves, the smell of the air and all of the wonderful activities. I can't get enough of it and I try to bring that feeling into our house.

Over at "The Inspired Room", Melissa hosts an annual "Fall Nesting Party". I get very excited about it and back in August, I found myself going back to last year to see when it happened. I couldn't wait (I think that may be the best part of the changing seasons - looking forward to the wonderful times to come)

I always put out my fall stuff after Pk's birthday on Labour Day weekend. I know that fall doesn't start until closer to the end of September but as a teacher, September can be so crazy, if I don't do it before back to school time, it often doesn't happen. I've also always loved to change my space around - I love the fresh feeling of a new furniture arrangement, a shift in colour or the full change of my displays. After the cool, open, airy look I strive for in summer, I love to change the table clothes to fall colours, to put out lots of candles and to bring the harvest inside with corn, gourds and pumpkins.

I love my new luminaries that you see in the photo above. Pk's sitter sells Partylite and while I am often horrified by their prices, a. I want to support J and b. I love these luminaries. They have changeable panels so the pumpkins for fall switch to snowflakes for winter, delicate flowers for spring and something for summer that escapes me right now. I bought the smaller ones a couple of years ago (leaves, spiders and snowflakes) and have loved them. When I saw these newer, larger ones, I had to have them. I love the way that they look when lit.
Please excuse the horrible quality of the photos. My decent camera died and the one we bought to replace it is having problems, too. I bought a little cheapie until I can get the other two fixed and the quality of these pics are horrible.
As you can see, we have an overabundance of tomatoes that needs to be dealt with and we picked apples on the weekend and are overflowing with them, too. Add the smell of the apples simmering into applesauce to the ambiance of the house and it's hard to see how things can get better!

Keep an eye for my fall list - I've been meaning to get to that post for a while. It is coming, I promise!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Other Side

Having a child is so interesting for me. I've been a teacher for a long time (I started in '97, you do the math) and I have experienced all of these annual rituals of the school year (starting school, "Meet the Teacher Night", concerts, etc) over and over again, but never as a parent. It's fascinating to experience it all from the other side.

Tonight was Pk's Meet the Teacher Night. I've done these over and over. Every year, we frantically try to get work up on the walls, get the kids' desks tidy, write up handouts about everything in the programme and rush back to school in the evening to meet everyone. I am always a bit nervous, always anticipating the parent who is going to ask me something that I am not expecting which leaves me feeling a bit unsure on my feet. We've had crazy parents, combative parents (although this is much rarer than one might expect based on what I hear from other teachers), out-of-control children and, worst of all, that parent who just won't leave at the end of the night. Every year, there is discussion in the staff meeting about the fact that this is not an interview night and that we are not there to discuss individual children with their parents. We are there to outline the programme and be available for questions. Every year, I end up doing interviews with every parent. I could be tough and refuse to answer the question that every parent asks, whether out loud or through their eyes - "How is my child doing and do you like him/her?" Personally, unlike many teachers, I don't mind telling parents that. So many parents work and we don't ever get to see each other, it's the least I can do. And, to be totally frank, I don't really feel like trying to set up parent interviews before or after school, it makes sense to talk when the parents are already there.

Tonight, I developed a much greater understanding of why every parent wants that little interview. Pk won't tell me anything about her class (other than that she cries a lot, she says). Dh and I have been so curious to know how she spends her day and whether she is, in fact, crying all the time. We arrived to the school and there were cars for blocks (many children are bused to our school from surrounding farming areas so driving is necessary for those parents). The halls were crammed with families, the book fair was so crowded that we didn't even attempt it. We wandered somewhat aimlessly down to the kindergarten wing - it was obvious that since we had come in a different door that the one Pk typically uses, she had no clue where she was going. Once we entered the classroom, it was bedlam (this teacher has two groups of children so she has 46 families to see in two hours). I tried to get Pk to take me on a tour but she wasn't especially interested in showing me much other than the class computers. I desperately wanted to talk to the teacher and find out how she was doing (and whether she was liked). It was so busy, we only had a couple of seconds and all that I really got was that 1. Pk is very sweet, 2. no, she isn't outright crying but she has episodes of chin quivering and seems to wander the classroom clutching the notes I write in her lunch each day and 3. she is eating part of her lunch for snack and hasn't shared with her teacher that she has a snack in her bag in its own cloth bag with the word SNACK printed hugely in permanent marker.

I realise that her teacher has only had her at school for four days and really doesn't know her but I wanted more. I also have to say that I have been a bit surprised at the school - I don't find it as welcoming as the one at which I work (if the Principal was there, I didn't see him and ours is always either outside in the hallway doing a meet and greet or meeting parents in the classrooms). It reminded me that when I do our "Meet the Teacher" night next Thursday, I am going to go out of my way to let parents know that all is well, that I like their children and that they are welcome.

I think that having a child in the school system is definitely going to make me a much better teacher.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thanks as always to Ginny at "Small Things" - I love having the goal of the weekly check-in to keep me on track!
I haven't had much of a chance to knit or to take photos - both my cameras seem to be under the weather and the knitting has been almost non-existent. I have found a way to solve both problems - I am now knitting while I watch Pk's show with her in the evening ("Wordworld" - ugh) and I bought a cheap camera to tide me over (hence the very poor quality photo). I'm on an M.C. Beaton kick, catching up on the books in her Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin Series that I had missed (both are kind of fun but nowhere near as good as they were when they started out). I'm still knitting the leaf dishcloths, which make a nice project when there isn't much time - I can finish one in a couple of hours. I've ordered some yarn to start my Christmas knitting and I can't wait for it to arrive.

As always, I am looking forward to seeing what everyone else is reading/stitching!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dining with Royalty

September 1st is Pk's birthday and we have an annual tradition with local friends that Pk's party always happens then. This year she was determined that she was going to have a "fairy princess tea party" and we were determined to make it happen.

We have had such fun with this! I spent the summer combing yard sales, church sales and thrift stores for inexpensive (read: CHEAP) teapots and china. I ended up going a bit nuts and buying plates, small bowls, teacups, saucers and teapots (I think I now own every tacky teapot available). We found lovely invites on Etsy and for take home gifts, we decided to buy a puzzle tailored to each child's interests. While the theme was "dress up", we made it clear that our gentlemen (and ladies, for that matter) could come as anything they wanted, as long as it was a bit out of the ordinary. People were very obliging.

I spent the days leading up to the party cooking. There were strawberry cupcakes with swiss buttercream frosting (these are AMAZING), white chocolate dipped strawberries (but I used pink sugar instead of blue), heart marshmallows and rainbow fruit kababs. We did sandwiches, veggies and dip, chips and drinks. I did the Martha Stewart Poms (which looked lovely) and we had balloons everywhere. It was insane and so much fun!

Sorry the photos are out of order, some were taken by me and some by friends (my camera decided to stop working early on in the party so these were taken later for me by others). Pk was so lucky in the thoughtful gifts she received. We came away from the day, yet again, feeling extremely grateful to be surrounded by such wonderful people!

Pin the crown on the princess

Each child was able to pour his or her drinks from his or her own teapot and they thought that was wonderful

Dh did the streamers and I have to say that he did a wonderful job

Our guests beginning the tea

Best friends


the sweet table, which, if I do say so myself, looked pretty spiffy (other than the buttercream which decided to melt a bit, since the day was so incredibly humid)

one of our knights

this gift was amazing, a full princess kit, complete with a homemade tutu, a shirt with a crown, jewels and "Princess Pk" on it

being spoiled by grandmas

during gift opening

the gift that stole the show - a box of six pairs of pretty heels - it will be weeks before I recover from the sight of one of our young knights trying to master walking in heels

Little Bean was a big fan of the shoes, too!

So sappy but sweet - Pk's best friend - they each got a matching necklace, one says "Best" and one says "Friends"

I can't tell you how much fun we had planning this party but I am glad that it will be a year before we have to plan another!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Starting School

As so often happens, I am starting here with an apology. Sadly, when life gets busy, the blog seems to be the first thing to go. I'll try to be better but I won't bother making any promises.

Last week was a BIG week in our house. Pk started school at the same time that Dh and I returned back to work after a summer at home. Fortunately, my parents were able to come up for the week to deliver Pk to her first day at school. Ours does a staggered entry and the JKs only go for 90 minutes on their first day and we wouldn't have been able to manage drop off and pick up otherwise.

Pk was so excited but unfortunately, our start was a bit rough. Sadly and unlikely as it sounds, poor Pk had been stung by a wasp four times in the last month, rendering her absolutely terrified to be outside. We had arranged for Pk and her two best friends to walk to school together (with their parents). We wanted to get pictures and have it be a wonderful time. The boys were thrilled but Pk's fear of bees meant that she was NOT interested in being outside and until they were actually going into school, she was a mess. All the photos are awful since she was doing that "ugly cry" - you know the one I mean.
I would love to post more photos but a. the best ones were taken by my friend and she hasn't sent them yet and b. there are pictures of lots of other kids and I can't post them here since I don't have permission. On the plus side, my mom did get some lovely ones when she came out of school and as you can probably see, she loved it. Her teacher is the one that we were hoping she would get and she is in love. She walks around singing the songs from school and it turns out that our lovely neighbour from across the street is her lunch monitor and can keep an eye on her for us. She has been taken care by the big girls she knows from daycare and she seems to be loving the social part of school.

On the first day, they all got a crown and they got to add stickers - Pk used princess stickers, which just made the day all the more perfect for her. On the second day, she got a birthday crown (since her birthday was the week before - that's another post!) and her teacher made a fuss over her. She is in love with school and we couldn't be happier.

I have to say that it has been interesting to work out my feelings about school. Before she went, I had a lot of worries and trying to get logistics worked out. Interestingly, the first day, when everyone said I would be a crying mess, I was in pretty good shape (other than for a bit in the afternoon when I got rather emotional about the fact that I hadn't been able to take her myself). I liked school as a kid and I am really excited for Pk. I think she is going to be really happy being with her friends, singing songs, reading stories and working. I see school as a really good opportunity for her - I suppose that is easier for me given that we live in a great school district and her teacher is a friend of mine who I have seen in action. She even had homework this weekend and we had fun sitting down to do it (and, I might add now, SHE did it, not me - I am NOT going to be that mother). Tonight, I did her Scholastic order and getting her books was fun!

So far, we are all enjoying the school experience... I hope that keeps happening!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Girl

On this day, four years ago, I met Pk. It was a somewhat scary delivery for both of us but the second I met her, I knew that it was worth it. It's so strange to me to think that Dh and I had debated whether we ever wanted to have children. It probably sounds cliche but until Pk arrived, I had no idea what life was meant to be. She has brought us so much joy.
Here she is at one. That was a fun party but I had no idea what I was doing!

Her second birthday was a Veggietales party. We kept it small but had so much fun.
Her third birthday was more ambitious - she started with a party at the home daycare she attends and then had a party at a local farm. So much fun!

Today was the party at daycare and on Saturday, we are having a fairy princess tea party. I can't wait. Throwing parties is so much fun, especially when they are to celebrate someone that I adore.
Thank you, beautiful girl, for bringing us so much joy. We can't wait to spend the next year with you!