Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Vocabulary Parade

Two days before school (finally) ended, the Fourth Graders had their Vocabulary Parade.  This was my first experience at the Vocab Parade, since Henry went to our old school for fourth grade and our old school principal was against all outdoor activities or creativity.  

I know - that was a bold and sweeping generalization, but what can I say.  Maybe it was just the teachers that Henry happened to get... but the projects that he was assigned always seemed better suited to killing the love of learning than fostering it.  

Thankfully for all the children who did not move to houses outside of that school district, our old school has a new principal who by all accounts is much more relaxed and happy and our old school is now great place to spend the school year.  The Dementors have left the building.  

But that's not what this post is about.  This post is about the adorable Vocabulary Parade.  I have left on a ridiculous (and obnoxious) tangent.  


Each child was given a spelling word or a geographical term that the fourth graders had learned over the school year and they had to make a sandwich board with that word and it's definition.

Georgia's word was Hyperbole and she chose to draw a cartoon and decorate her poster with sentences that demonstrated her word.

Other children got extremely creative.  I couldn't believe the wonderful boards that paraded by me.  I don't usually include photos of other people's children on my blog, but I just had to show off some of these children.  (and I won't put anyone's name so you won't be able to google them).

Look at this Transparent poster!

And the 3-D Mt. Rushmore!

I also loved this dear friend of Georgia's who was the only child to use a black poster board:

Isn't that awesome?

I also loved Volcano:

and "Parts of a Flower"

Georgia's class was at the tail end of the parade, and they moved at a fast clip:

I managed to get about 30 photos of her though, don't worry.

This Vocabulary Parade was one of my all-time favorite school events.  It's an adorable tradition and it was great to see how each child chose to interpret the assignment.  I hope they continue to do the parade for at least two more years so Josie can do it, too.  

And that's the last school post of the year!  Happy summer, everyone!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Last Day of School

Our school year is finally over and I took Last Day of School photos to commemorate the wonderful occasion.  I love putting the First Day and Last Day photos together so I can see how much the children have grown each year.  

Here's Henry on the first day of school (his ears are at the bottom of my mantel):

And Here is Henry on the last day of school (his ears are at the top of the mantel):

Georgia on the first day:

And Georgia on the last day:

Georgia would like you all to know that she is not actually bald, even though the above photo makes her look so.  She is wearing her hair pulled back in a pony tail and is wearing a gray headband and she is in the shadow of the mantel.  In fact, Georgia's head barely fit under the edge of the mantel.  By the end of the summer, I'm expecting to have to pose her a few inches forward.

And bringing up the rear, is Josie (First Day of School):

and on the last day:

Sadly, not to much growth to report, but she looks older, no?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I planned a special surprise for Georgia last Friday.  When I picked her up from school, I told her that we needed to drive to Concord to run an errand and then when we arrived, I whipped out my camera and told her that she was getting her ears pierced.


(It's a great surprise photo, no?)

Years ago, I told the girls that they could get their ears pierced when they turned ten.  Georgia and Josie were probably five and three at the time, so ten seemed like a long way off and a figure that they would forget before the big day arrived.  But I should  have known that my children never forget.  

Well, they never forget a reward or a present... raincoats, backpacks, homework assignments, well, yes.  They do forget those.  But trips to the candy store, a promised book or getting their ears pierced at age ten?  That, they never forget.

The only problem about my Age 10 rule was that Georgia turned 10 during her soccer season and newly pierced earrings and soccer do not mix.  Many soccer referees make you take your earrings out before a game and new earrings need to stay in for 4-6 weeks.  

We had to make the executive decision to wait until summer, but I never said when.

We went to a great, family-owned jewelry store to get Georgia's ears pierced.  The first step was to sign the enormously long release form and choose earrings:

Georgia chose white gold, medium-sized, balls.

And then came the hard part.  The jeweler used a marker to figure out where the holes should be and Georgia squirmed and had a hard time standing still.  

Georgia, it turns out, has very ticklish earlobes.

Who would have guessed?

And then the jeweler went right to work.  She handed Georgia a teddy bear to hold and she started with Georgia's right ear.


It hurt more than Georgia imagined!

Which sucked, considering that Georgia still had another ear to go.  

Not wanting to spend her life lopsided, Georgia agreed to continue.

And voila!

Pierced ears!  

It was a fun surprise and Georgia loves her new earrings.  Hopefully it hurt enough that she will be discouraged from ever getting another piercing again!

hee, hee!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Final Exams

I know most of you have been done with school and have been enjoying the hot, leisurely days of summer vacation for weeks now.... but some of us (the unfortunate few who live in New England and had six WRETCHED and UNNECESSARY snow days) are still getting up at 6am, packing bag lunches and dragging our children to school each morning.  And this weekend -- as if attending school during the dregs of June wasn't bad enough -- some of us have to study for five, year-encompassing final exams.  

In our family, that someone is Henry.

Henry had his first two exams on Friday - Spanish and English.  And on Monday, he has to take his two hardest exams - Science and Geography.  Henry is a good student and he's done well in school this year... but studying is not his forte and studying ALONE is going completely against Henry's grain.  Henry likes to share his misery (and he likes to have people quiz him).

So on Saturday morning, bright and early, I helped Henry study for his Geography exam for three hours.  We made flash cards for the vocabulary words and we went through all his old tests and quizzees.  I helped him to remember the key parts of the different units and I think we made a lot of headway.

But I am absolutely exhausted and I never want to know another fact about the world or it's political systems.

Don't even say the word "E-A-R-T-H" to me.  I'll scream.

I swear I will.

In the afternoon, Gordy took over the teacher role and he and Henry tackled science.

They went through the study guides, they read passages from the book... there was laughter, there were tears, more than one explative was proclaimed but in the end, the successes outnumbered the failures (at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

And now Gordy is exhausted.  And he would like you to never mention anything about genetics, photosynthesis or mitosis every again.

I don't remember if I took final exams when I was in seventh grade, but mercy maud.  Do other towns put their middle schoolers (and their parents) through this nonsense?  I just can't see why we need to prove that a 13 year old can retain a year's worth of knowledge after the longest school year in history, in the heat of the summer and at the end of June.  

Especially when he's been tested on the lessons all year long.  

We have another marathon study day today (Sunday) and then we send the poor boy to the wolves.  What's done is done and what's learned has been learned.

Until he takes his math final on Tuesday.

Good grief, right!?!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Small Victories

Also titled:  We Finished More Projects and The Rain Finally Stopped

We're approaching the end of the second to last week of the longest academic year in history.  Georgia "celebrated" by finishing her final school project:  The Vocabulary Word Sandwich Board.  

Georgia's word was Hyperbole.

I took a giant step back on this project and allowed Georgia to read the instructions and work on her board all by herself.

I want her to be more independent, but there was another reason as well.  

Henry has six final exams this year and I've been busy quizzing him on English terms and Spanish phrases.  He has his first two finals tomorrow and the rest next week. 

The best news of the week was that it stopped raining and our landscape contractors were able to (almost completely) finish our rock wall.  Josie and I went outside yesterday to inspect the work.

Our backyard is still a large mud pit and a disaster zone.

But those hideous wooden steps are finally gone

And there are good dirt mountain features that Josie enjoyed climbing.

The boulders that were removed from the perimeter of the property are still hanging out by our house.  Josie did her best imitation of the Statue of Liberty on one:

The wall is supposed to be totally finished by the end of today, but I'm not holding my breath.  It was actually scheduled to be completed yesterday, but things were slowed down when a large delivery truck broke down in our driveway, blocking the way for the rest of the deliveries to arrive and ended with the leaking of hydraulic fluid all over our drive.  

It's never a dull moment around here.

Five more days until vacation!!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

School Hasn't Ended Yet...

nor have the school projects.  In fact, in addition to the project I'm about to tell you about, Georgia has ANOTHER project that is due on Thursday.  And Henry has a week and a half of final exams.  It feels like summer, it looks like summer and yet summer still hasn't arrived in our little town.

Case in point:  The Expert Project.

Assignment:  become an "expert" in a topic and teach the skill to your class.
Educational opportunity:  Learn to follow directions, learn to present to a class full of your peers - all while doing something "fun" with your parents.
End of The Year Parental Annoyance Level (out of 10):  10

Georgia chose to learn how to make ice cream without using a churn or one of those LLBean ball thing-ies.  Basically, what this "skill" consisted of was having your mother drive to the grocery store to buy whole milk and sea salt and remembering to turn the ice maker on inside the fridge.  I'd better get an A.

Georgia poured and measured and then she shook:

She shook to the left.

She shook to the right.

She shook while making funny faces:

She shook while she danced a jig:

And she shook while photo-bombing her father.

The end result was flavored, sugared ice milk.

I'm not sure if I would call Georgia an Expert in the field of ice cream making, but it was the best that we could do.  

The next morning, I packed up a cooler full of milk, sugar, salt, vanilla and ice and I helped Georgia drag it all to school.  Apparently the presentation went well - at least it went better than the boy who became an expert in Magic Card Tricks who mistakenly told everyone the secret as he went along (whoops).  

Georgia has yet another project to do before school ends.  It's a vocabulary sandwich board for the famous Fourth Grade Vocabulary Parade.  

I know!  Lucky me, right?  This is exactly what I want to be doing instead of sunning myself at the pool.  Nothing says Enjoying Your Summer Vacation more than a Fourth Grade Vocab Parade!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Great Garden Project Begins

On Monday, the landscape construction crew arrived at my house to begin the Great Garden Project of 2013, but before they did, I went outside and snapped a few last minute "Before" photos for my album.

I'm glad I did because it's nice to see some order now that my yard is total chaos.

On Monday, the crew brought a Bobcat up the small slope into our backyard and they began the day with ripping from their perch, the gigantic boulders that lined our backyard.

And then the workers used the Bobcat to dig an enormous trench where our rock wall will be built.  They dug up the yard and removed the wooden steps and a few more trees. 

And then all the workers left for the day.

At which point, the skies opened up and it poured rain for three days.

For three days, our "yard" was a gigantic mud pit and I spent most of those 72 hours, nervously waiting for the neighbors to complain about mudslides and for Honey Boo Boo or the cast of that MTV West Virginia show to arrive with four wheelers to take advantage of our perfect conditions.

On the fifth day, the sun came out just enough for the workers to return and for the rock wall to begin.

The project is going so much slower than I had anticipated but I guess that's what happens when you are working with mother nature in New England.

It's a hard lesson for me to learn.  I'm an impatient person by nature, and when projects like this begin, I expect them to be finished a minute later.  Two minutes, tops.

The sun was out this morning (for a brief period, mind you, we are supposed to get more rain tonight and for the next two days, sigh) and I took some new photos of the disaster zone.

When the crew left on Friday, the heavens had literally opened up.  A Nor'easter was working it's way through Massachusetts and it was raining harder than I'd seen in a long time.  It's hard to tell what was left as a work in progress and what is just the utter mess of a yard torn up.

I am told - by both the contractor and by our wonderful landscape designer - that this is the absolute worst part and from here on, things will steadily improve.  I know it's true and yet I wish the weather would cooperate long enough for those steadily improving conditions to actually occur.  It will be a wonderful day when I am sitting on the patio (where that tent and those tarps are lying now), with my feet up, sipping a summery cocktail and reading my book.  

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