Wednesday, September 16, 2009

labour day holiday

We wanted to do more camping (after our Big Sur adventure.. post will be forthcoming...) before school started again but we didn't plan early enough to get a camping spot at one of the many local campgrounds/state parks/forestry campsites for labour day weekend. We wanted to camp with our neighbours Betsy and Eddie and their daughter Ruby but they were hesitant to make the adventure too big as Ruby had never been camping before and has always slept in her own room etc etc. In the end we decided to have a Labour Day family adventure at one of the many parks here in the East Bay. Eddie discovered that we could rent a boat on 4 of the water reserves around here. We chose the closest one (Lake Chabot) which is just east of Oakland (about 20 minute drive from here). We decided to invite Katie and Mary Anne along to make it more fun! There was no way to reserve a boat so we set out nice and early to snag ourselves a "patio boat"! (sorry I didn't manage to take a picture of it...) When we arrived it seemed as though there were lots of people already enjoying the outdoors but we were lucky to get one of the last boats available. The website had said that these boats could take 8 people or 1200 lbs so we thought we would be amply safe with 9 people -3 under 40 lbs! Unfortunately they insisted on the 8 people rule so we were forced to rent a canoe as well. In the end this was a GREAT fortune! Once we got out on the water we just hitched the canoe to the PBoat and carried on with all of us enjoying the cushions! Besides the canoe just being really fun to go in, it was rather essential for our 4 hour cruise up and down the reservoir. It meant that we could go ashore as the water level was too low to dock the patio boat!
The reservoir was lovely and quiet as all the boats run on electricity or muscle power. Really a wonderfully calm day.
Another happy piece of luck was that it was "free fishing" day! We had intended to fish and pay for the privilege but we didn't need too!! We rented 2 fishing poles which was enough for everyone who wanted to get their fill of casting and reeling. No wildlife was harmed or even tempted by our lures. . .

We all brought ample food for the day so we had a big feast on board. Eddie was a little disappointed not to go real camping as he was unable to use his fold-out camping KITCHEN! I am disappointed too because i didn't get to SEE Eddie's fold-out camping KITCHEN!! Maybe at another time. . .
By the end of our time on the boat we were ready to do other things or have naps etc so it was quite overwhelming when we got back to the dock to experience the numbers and the sound of the masses of people who came to Lake Chabot while we were busy cruising its waters! We decided to find a nice spot to hang out some more in our courtyard back home!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Miriam's accomplishments

I forgot to mention the things that Mimi has mastered these days or just things that are new which she (and We!) are excited about.

#1 No Diapers!! No wet beds!!! just a simple trip to the biffy before the adults go to bed and- presto- our girl has grown up and we aren't buying or washing diapers!!! yippeeeee!!!!

#2 moved to a cute toddler bed- She was MOST pleased about this. I think she was royally tired of sleeping in the play-pen bed that she has been in since we moved to Berkeley. I am super happy because it means that we have one less bed in their room!

#3 necklace beading
This girl has amazing ability to do fine motor skills and she loves it too.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Miriam's days

Mimi's first day of school at the Orange House (pictured here!!)

Miriam has been very busy these days! She started "school" at the Orange House the day before Ami went to Kindergarten so she had a head start with education this fall!! She is loving going to Daycare/preschool and the Orange house is a particularly lovely place and vibe. They always play nice music (including Suzuki book 1!) and they are very loving and responsive to the kids. It really feels like Mimi is at somebody else's home and that she gets to do stuff there that I don't think to do with her here. On Friday Helen (the woman who runs the business) said that she had a great time gluing! She always is glad to see me but also really jazzed about her experience. She wants to go there every day!
Mimi attends the Orange House with Ruby Gonzales (who also lives in the Nichols Apartments with us). We walk 1/2 a block to get there! Ruby is always stylishly dressed and very put-together and Mimi doesn't always leave the house quite like that! This photo is from their first day and I am not sure that Mimi wanted to have a picture together with Ruby! It is good for them to go together because they are the only girls! Helen tells me that if a childcare situation does not have a gender balance policy that boys far our-number girls... interesting...

Now that school has started up again at CDSP, I have resumed my childcare swaps with Sylvia. This year I get to look after her 2 girls and she looks after Mimi. Mimi and Alexandra seem to be getting along very well as you can see by these photos!

Although Sylvia is a dancer she has never encouraged Alexandra to be interested in dance and especially in ballet. Alexandra has other ideas!!!! And now Miriam seems to want to do pink ballerina things too! I just love this photo of them and Miriam's body and leg shape, her socks.. etc...
I am having fun looking after Alexandra's baby sister Johanna who was born at the beginning of June. She is super sweet and very forgiving and it is fun to have someone so little to hold and then be able to give them back!

Here is Mimi on our camping trip. By this point we were with our friends from All Souls Parish and we were so dusty (perhaps you can see it in the air..) it was quite unbelievable! Ami and Mimi really loved camping and we hope to do more of it in the near future.

This is Mimi singing a little song on an amazing beach on our Big Sur camping adventure.
Mimi is LOVING her new sandals that Gran sent for her!
She is showing signs of being a BIG character and loving a good joke and being an altogether awesome gal.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Amiel's first day of school

Today started earlier than usual with a wake-up rooster crowing at 6:30. There was a school bus to catch at 7:45!
As the alarm didn't seem to have much effect on our little scholar we had to employ the wake-up rattle-snake to rouse his weary bones! Miriam would have slept through the whole thing if we hadn't muscled her awake as well. A spiffy outfit of tan shorts, a short-sleeved shirt (one we got in Portland this past summer), and mismatched socks was chosen for the momentous day. Ami ate a "green egg" (kiwi fruit) and a piece of homemade toast to start his day and we headed out the door at 7:30 to walk up the hill to the school bus stop situated at Cedar and Le Roy. The entourage up the hill consisted of Amiel, Martin, Katie, Mary Anne, and a very sleepy Miriam. I decided to drive to the bus-stop in case our boy decided that he wasn't ready to ride the bus alone this morning and because I planned to meet him at his school when his bus arrived. Our new neighbours Lynne and Oryah came with me. Oryah is also enrolled at Washington in grade 2. The whole troupe of us waited at the appointed corner and it wasn't long before the great big yellow school bus came around the corner and down the hill. Without nary and ounce of fear (or even a look back to his nervous support group!) Ami boarded that bus and strode down the aisle to find a seat for himself. The bus had only a handful of kids on it and the bus driver was willing to take Oryah on the bus even though she isn't yet registered as a rider. Oryah is a very sweet girl and she got on and sat with our little boy!
After the bus departed we all looked at each other and confirmed that all of us were really not sure that he would be willing to go on the bus this morning. It is hard to gauge what makes him nervous but this was one thing we were all worried about. Then Lynne and I drove down to the school to await the bus...
We found a couple with a baby who had done exactly the same thing as us with their kindergartener daughter so we stood awaiting the bus arrival together. I'm not sure that we need have been there as the kids were greeted by the principal Rita Kimbell. She meets the bus kids every day and scurries them off to the school yard.

As you can see Ami managed to forget his backpack on the bus so we got to have our first lesson in not forgetting things! Luckily we noticed its absence when the bus was still sitting at the stop!
Ami and I made our way into the school yard where we found out that he was assigned to Ms Kessel's class. This is an arbitrary class list as there are 4 Kindergarten classes at Washington and the 4 teachers get to rotate around the classrooms for the first 3 days before they "balance" the classes" and finalize the class list. I hope that he gets to be in a classroom that is not in the basement.
Here he is about to go into his classroom from the school yard.Here he is on his chosen square (if there were a yellow one I'm sure that he would have picked it!)

The teacher told a story and then read a story (Miss Bindergarten gets ready for Kindergarten) and Ami was one of the students to offer some tidbit of his own experience during the telling. The parents were invited to be in the classroom for about 10 minutes and then we were dismissed (kicked-out) to go to the library to have coffee and Q & A with the principal and some PTA members.

So after that Lynne and I came home...
It was fairly strange to not have him around all day. Miriam (who was hanging out with Katie and Mary Anne while I was busy at the school) is such a different person and she happily plays with her toys and busies herself so easily that it feels somehow that I am not really parenting her. The house is quiet and restful without our boy.
Miriam and Martin and I hung out and it didn't seem too long before I started worrying about picking up the boy from the bus stop. It was an early release day today so the kids ended school at 1:30. Mimi and I went to wait for the bus at about 1:50 (since it is about a 10 minute drive...) but little Ams was the last off the bus and the only rider at 2:20 when he finally made it to Cedar and Le Roy. He looked a bit shell shocked, hot and tired and in the style of every child who goes to school did not have much to say about school when asked...

The report from the first day
Me: what was your favourite part?
Amiel: All of it - except the sunny part.

Things I have learned about the first day of school
He had snack (breakfast) provided by the school of a small bag of "Gorilla Munch" cereal, milk and the "worst peach in the world"!
He didn't eat all of his lunch (but he ate it when he got home!)
He played outside, read books, built things with blocks and legos, and met 2 other kindergarten teachers (Ms Wash -and the easy to remember- Miss Mimi!)
All in all he had a great day and wants to go back for more tomorrow. I will report on anything else I find out!!

I am amazed that I managed to make it though 5+ years as the principal care giver without giving up entirely. I am excited for Ami and his learning and new experiences and I hope that what I have provided for his life education will stand him in good stead and keep him safe.