Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grade One

Ami started Grade One on the day after Labour Day (or he started First Grade on the day after Labor Day!). When was arrived at Washington on our Xtracycle we were a little bit late and we encountered Ms Mimi as she was taking her class into the school. Ami was feeling a bit hesitant about the whole experience - arriving late (the other kids started on the Wednesday before), not knowing who his teacher was going to be. . .
Ms Mimi was very warm and welcoming to him and he was his usual "shy-at-first-greeting" self. Then she said "Ms Laurance is waiting for you"! He was so darling in his reaction. Under his breath I could hear him say "Just who I wanted!" He was full of smiles then.
Ms Laurance is the beautiful and elegant, always nice teacher who's room is next door to Ms Mimi's so the school routine really hasn't changed at all!
His first days and weeks were a little rocky as he was figuring out the dynamics of his class, the rules of the room, the expectations of the teacher etc. He wasn't so sure that he liked school all that much. Now things are looking up and he is quite happy with school and Ms Laurance.
In Grade One the students sit at little designated tables with other children (Ami sits with 3 other kids). Ms Laurance is very big into giving incentive rewards for homework done and other accomplishments. She is very successful with this! I am having trouble with the concept that homework would be required for grade one. It is very difficult to get him to do it and I hate being the person making him do something that I don't believe in. Grrrr. He says that he doesn't like math so I have been working on helping him to understand how important math is to being an engineer. I think his problem is that he finds what they are doing in math boring. . . .
Ami really likes the science teacher who comes to their class on Wednesdays. I haven't heard much about what they learn - all I've heard is that it is great!

Ami's reading is impressive. At the beginning of the year we were given a list of words that Grade Ones are supposed to practice so that will be able to read (sight reading- not figuring out the individual words) 75/80 words. Well Ami can already read them all. It makes me wonder if boredom will set in in school. . .
Ami stayed home from school today as he was feeling a little under the weather. He did agree to do some school work with me over the course of the day. It was quite fun really. If I had a curriculum I think we could probably do homeschooling but we would need a big group of other home schooled friends to play with. That wouldn't be so hard or so bad!!

Katie and I have decided to make sure that we do all the things we want to do in the Bay Area before graduation in May. To that end I think I will be taking Ami out of school maybe even one day a week to enrich our experience here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Trip From BC to Berk

Well, it was a marathon.
Martin and I left Sorrento BC at 9 AM on Labour Day Saturday and set out for Vancouver. The drive was very nice and it was lovely to get to spend time together (alone) on the first leg of our big road trip. I learned from the last time that I traveled from the interior to the coast to check in regularly with the traffic report on News 1130. We knew that we had a really big day in front of us with our plans to drive right into Point Grey to pick up the kids at the Elfert's place. However our heart sank when we heard that the lineups at the borders were 3.5 hours at Peace Arch, 3+ hours at Pacific Truck Crossing and 1-2 hours in the valley. We determined that it would be best for us to do some double-backing so that we wouldn't have to wait for such an excruciatingly long time at the border. We arrived at the Elfert's at around 2:30 and by the time we packed all our earthly goods in the car... it was close to 4. I checked the traffic online and found that the wait at Peace Arch was 5-10 minutes and that the valley crossings were closer to 1-2 hours now. I guess everyone had the same idea as we had had!
Indeed there was no wait at the border at all and we breezed through and all our papers were in order. First stress alleviated. . . .

We drove south to a place called Marysville, north of Everett, where we stopped for dinner. We like to go to places that aren't big chains and we saw some signs for "Boondockers Cafe" along the highway that looked somewhat interesting. I imagined it would be an American-fare place but when we arrived and saw the menu and the proprietors we realized that we did much better than we had imagined. The lovely east-indian family who ran the place had indian food on the menu as a "special". We were delighted! The kids loved it and ate well. The hosts were impressed by our children's adventurous taste and we loved the low key atmosphere and ability to put on jammies and brush teeth before "bed". They gave the kids bubble-gum ice-cream for dessert! At the restaurant I was able to phone La Quinta in Portland to make a reservation for the night. We didn't reserve a hotel room in advance or even earlier in the day as we had no idea about how far we would be able to make it, or if we would have any issues at the border.
The kids slept well while we motored along and we made it to Portland by midnight.

In the morning we had breakfast in their breakfast room. It was pretty crappy but oh so convenient and it is really nice to be able to have pets in the hotel.

The Sunday is a bit of a blur for me now but we left at 9 AM and arrived at 11PM in Berkeley. We stopped for lunch around Medford (?) at a disappointing restaurant that didn't have any sort of fresh veggies unless it was a salad. . . . no such thing as carrot sticks or anything. I imagine all the food there comes on a big truck- pre-cut, pre-sliced, pre-cooked? We had a nice play at a local park We managed to go to the same restaurant for dinner in Redding as we had gone to on the way up to Canada in May. The Black Bear Diner. It is a little local chain- California and maybe into Oregon? The kids really like it because they have the option of getting breakfast for dinner!!!
We stopped at a drive-in cappuccino bar on our way out of town. It felt so civilized to order a really inexpensive and yet yummy coffee without getting out of our car.
One of the spectacular sights we saw was the sunset outside of Redding CA with the black 3D silhouettes of trees, layers of hills and incredibly orange skies.
I think that this night might have been Mimi's first time seeing stars. She was astounded to see them in the night sky out the windows of the car. "Mum, Look! Stars!!!"
We arrived back in Berk at 11, approaching from a different trajectory than usual-via Walnut Creek. Everyone was glad to be back home.

I am sorry to say that I have no pictures of any part of our trip... :(

where to start...

Best laid plans to rival Caitlin's blogging regimen seem to have been left by the side of the road... Perhaps it's because I have been fighting a number of things since getting back to Berkeley.

First, FLEAS. We arrived home from our marathon travel from BC (more on that in another post) to find our house totally infested with fleas. I have never ever seen anything so disgusting and disturbing. The poor cat was so unhappy and Bodhi followed suit within seconds of arrival...
clean-up/infestation removal has included various eco-friendly measures (excessive vacuuming, cleaning, carefully removing reams of fleas from pets and killing them individually) as well as the less eco-friendly measures such as chemically treating our house with Flea Fog. We had to remove ourselves and pets from the premises for 3-4 hours. Luckily that meant that we went up to have some quality time at Tilden Park- the kids and I picked black-berries and played with Ami's new walkie-talkies while Martin did his meditation homework! Then we got to go out for sushi at our favourite place "Jo-shu-ya". Now we are depending on Advantage (which was ridiculously expensive at the vet's) to work its magic but it means that our four footed friends are still bearing the brunt of the flea fight and I still feel them crawling on me whether or not they really are. . . .

Second, my computer, in connection with my feline roommate, seemed to understand my wishes that I would spend less time on it. Maggie managed to knock over a full glass of water on my keyboard which rendered it useless... I spent quite a few days figuring out how to type messages to people without using m, n, b, l, a or the space bar. It was a challenge that I was glad to see the end of. Thanks to a classmate of Martin I now have a cute wireless keyboard with a wireless mouse. I thought it might help with the clutter on my desk some how. It hasn't.

Third, I had do finish a transcription of a lecture by Anat Baniel from my last training. Always interesting, always time-consuming.

Fourth, my computer is full. I can't load all my pictures on it and i feel like blog posts should always have pictures (1000 words after all).

Fifth, my computer only has 1/2 a screen now. The right hand side has completely busted. It just doesn't invite me to spend any pleasure time at my desk. Martin is planning a trip to the Mac store tomorrow to see what he can do to get them to stand behind their product. It is only 3.5 years old. :(

Sixth, I was feeling daunted but now I've fixed that by starting to write so here goes. . . .