21 November 2008

friday photos: first grade update edition

Last week we had James' parent-teacher conference. We suspected that the conference, like all previous conferences with James' teachers, would be fine, because he is bright and, with the occasional exception of talking too much, generally well-behaved.

Also, I had heard a funny story from our neighbor a week or two earlier after his conference with his daughter's teacher. Neighbor Girl and James are in different classes this year, but still play together every day after school. NG's teacher was asking NG's dad about what NG does outside of school, and NG's dad mentioned that NG plays with her neighbor James a lot. NG's teacher said, "Oh, you mean Smart James from the other class?"

So, knowing that other teachers in the school know our son as "Smart James" had us feeling pretty relaxed going into this conference.

We love James' teacher this year. Mrs. M. is friendly, enthusiastic and experienced, and best of all, she loves James to pieces and couldn't say enough about how well he is doing in school. The only issue that came up at the conference was when we told Mrs. M. that James thinks school is too easy and he would love to have more challenging work (something he's told us on a regular basis since school began this year). Luckily Mrs. M. realizes how bright James is, and that he could benefit from more challenging work, but unfortunately it seems she has little flexibility to provide him with more challenges. Because of the requirements and structure of the first-grade routine, Mrs. M. doesn't have time to work individually with James on advanced material. And it certainly wouldn't be fair to ask her to put in extra work for a kid who's already excelling when she probably has her hands full trying to keep some of the other kids up to speed with regular class work.

So we're trying to spend some extra time working with James at home. Last weekend I bought him a 320-page workbook of second grade skills, which he is currently flying through with little trouble. He is perfectly content to sit down and fill out worksheet after worksheet of spelling and math problems. Good practice for his handwriting, too. And we're currently reading Beverly Cleary's Ramona books, which James is enjoying just as much as I did at his age.

I never realized when James started school that it would be so much more work for us, but the older he gets, the more fun we are all having.

Oh, and a word on Evan: I discovered yesterday that he can recognize the numbers 1-9, when I thought he didn't know any of them. Smart kids!


07 November 2008

friday photos: end of autumn edition

One of the nice things about renting is that you don't have to do any yardwork, but you do get to enjoy the fruits of the maintenance crew's labor. They recently took a leafblower to some areas of the complex, and for about a week my kids have been eying a particularly enormous pile of leaves near the end of our street.

We've had gorgeous weather this week, but both Greg and I have been fighting off some kind of vague undefinable illness for a few days, so it wasn't until yesterday that I felt ambitious enough to actually take the kids to the end of the street to play in the leaves.

And this leaf pile, oh my gosh, the kids were tunneling through it, they were swimming in it, they were at times completely buried and lost from sight. They had an absolute blast. And good thing, too, because this morning some workers from the town came by and took away all those leaves.


04 November 2008

election day

Happy Election Day! I hope you're all going out to vote today.

James has the day off of school today, so after breakfast all four of us headed down to our town hall to vote. No voter drama here -- there was one couple ahead of us in line, voting went off without a hitch, and the poll workers gave my kids their own "I Voted Today" stickers. Then we headed to Starbucks for our free coffee (we don't have a Ben & Jerry's near us, and I didn't know about Krispy Kreme in time or else my children would have been in a sugar coma before lunchtime).

I have to say, regardless of political affiliations or opinions, Election Day is so exciting to me. It was so nice waiting in Starbucks and seeing almost every other person wearing wearing an "I Voted Today" sticker, and conversing with fellow voters. Evan finally changed his mind about McCain and was chattering happily about Obama, to the delight of other customers. We overheard one pair of customers telling another pair to make sure they vote today, because their employers have to give them time to vote.

I've been seeing a lot of inspirational stories in the news lately, about people waiting in line for up to six hours to vote early, about elderly people registering to vote for the first time in their lives because of this election. I know several people who've donated their time to help campaign during this election. James came home from school yesterday shouting excitedly that his school had elected Obama.

Election fever, it's everywhere.

And I have heard stories about voter fraud, about sneaky measures to impede people's right to vote or to disenfranchise people, rumors that the election will be stolen by one side or the other. Obviously there are some problems with our voting system. But to see people's hope and optimism and excitement and patriotism in the face of these challenges is just so heart-warming to me. I feel so happy to be an American today, to be able to be part of this process, to voice my opinion, to be part of something so much bigger than myself.

Please vote today. And feel free to share any interesting election day stories!


02 November 2008

happy belated halloween

...from your two favorite junior superheroes: