Sunday, June 29, 2014

The After-Party

After the Fifth Graders Moved On, the PTA held a Wake - I mean an After Party - for the students and their families in the cafeteria.  Both Georgia and Josie were eager to get the party started as they both remembered cake and cookies after Henry's Grade five Moving On three years ago.  

And they like cake and cookies.

I am breaking my rule about posting photos of other people's children on my blog, but it seems strange to not include pictures of Georgia's friends and their goofy antics at the after-party.  

Many of these girls have been friends since they were little children, some Georgia only became friends with this year, but the are all very dear and a big part of Georgia's life.

The wake was one big photo op.

Georgia met her friend Margaret at Holly's School when they were two years old.  They bonded instantly and the friendship is still going strong.  

Margaret is also the sister of Henry's friend Sam (although the girls met years before the boys did), who comes with us to Block Island each summer.

Georgia's friend, May, is one of those new friends I mentioned.  This was the first year that Georgia and May were in the same class and for that, we are so grateful.  May and Georgia are like two peas in a pod and she really made fifth grade fun.

And of course, you will all recognize Ally, Georgia's soccer buddy.  

We stayed until (almost) the bitter end of the party.   Having no activities to dash off to, is a real luxury.

Two down, one to go.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Georgia Moves On

Is it just me, or does anyone else think it sounds oddly morbid to call Graduation, a "Moving On Ceremony"?  

At the very least, it's kind of kaiser-sosey-ish, right?

I'm not sure what happened to the word Graduation here in Massachusetts.  No one uses it.  Massachusettian children are simply not allowed to graduate from elementary school... instead, they "move on."  

Georgia did her moving on Monday night.

She dressed up for the occasion (please ignore the oozing scab on her knee and the multiple bruises on her shins).

Georgia has an enormous elementary school class - 95 kids Moved On from our school.  The school auditorium is tiny at best, so I did the math (95 kids x 2 parents) and decided that we needed to get to the school early in order to guarantee ourselves a seat.

My plan worked, which was a huge relief.  I prefer to be sitting down while my child is Moving On.

The fifth graders began the evening with two songs about growing up and leaving the nest - songs that were designed to bring tears to the eyes of overly emotional mothers.  I was not one of those overly emotional mothers.  It's pretty easy to stay dry-eyed if you keep in mind that these kids aren't leaving for college or a job and their own apartment.  They are going across the street (literally) to the Middle School.  The nest will hardly be empty.

Perhaps if we scrapped the whole Moving On concept and instead, called it a Graduation, the overly emotional mothers wouldn't continue to associate the event with a memorial service.

It's just a thought.

After the songs, the Principal spoke a few words about growing up.  Or about being good citizens.  I don't really remember.  I was ready for the Moving On Ceremony Awarding Of The Certificates.

Which happened soon enough.  Georgia climbed the steps, walked across the stage, shook hands with her teacher, got her certificate and made it all the way back down the stairs without tripping or falling on her rear end, and that, my dear readers, was the biggest achievement of her elementary school career.

Take that short leg!!!

I can walk across this stage and not trip once!  It's called PT, bi-otches!

And with that (smack) - she was gone.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Art Portfolio

During the school year, our children never bring home artwork.  It drives me crazy.  They hardly ever mention art class at all, even though they go once a week.  Occasionally, Georgia or Josie will mention a big assignment, but these great creations never make it home and we never get to see them.  

Until the end of the year that is, when the children lug home their Art Portfolio.

I love to see their art work, so I make a big fuss when the Portfolio comes home.

Well, I usually make a big fuss.  This year Georgia brought home a Portfolio with about four items inside - all black and white pencil drawings that looked like rough drafts.  Where was the clay?  Where was the string and the glue and the tissue paper?  Where was the paint and the craypas?  Georgia had no answer.  She only said that it wasn't the most fun art year she's ever had and she left it at that.

I've never met the art teacher at our school, but I am starting to wonder if she isn't going through some sort of dark period in her artistic career.  With Pinterest in this world, there's really no excuse for an elementary school art teacher to not come up with thousands of ideas for exciting art projects.  I understand that funding for the arts isn't what it used to be, but I can still name at least 10 really great art projects that I did in elementary school back in the seventies and eighties - all of which involved such exciting things as paper mache, needlepoint, foam board printing and mediums other than paper and pencil.

Josie brought her Portfolio home the following week and at least there was color.

But once again, the majority of the projects were pencil drawings that had been colored in with marker.

The most creative was an underground rabbit warren complete with media room and underground pool:

And there was one exception:  a clay building that Josie called The Color House:

I think it may be time to end the Portfolio process.  Maybe if the art teacher sent things home throughout the year, parents would start to notice that their little darlings weren't doing very much in art class and start to complain.  Art Education is very important and elementary school is the perfect age for children to experiment and take artistic risks.  By middle school, art is only taught for one semester and kids are at that self-conscious age where they don't want to do anything that might set them apart from the norm.  

Am I the only parent who has noticed a drop-off in quality in the Art Portfolio?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

An Outdoor Dance Party, Courtesy of Kinivo Mini-Speaker

We got the most adorable, little speaker in the mail the other day.  The kind people at Kinivo sent us one of their portable, mini-speakers to try and we used it's arrival as an excuse to have a cocktail and dance party out on our deck.  

The Kinivo mini-speaker is itty-bitty:  it fits easily into my hand and it is incredibly light-weight.  But don't let it's tiny size fool you.  The Kinivo mini-speaker may be small, but it's powerful.

The Kinivo speaker worked perfectly to amplify our iphones, and it's small, easily-mobile size let us bring music everywhere we went.  I am old enough that I remember boom boxes and walkmans.  Having a speaker that fits into your hand is a whole different definition of the word portable.

I let Josie try out the mini-speaker first.  Like all children of her generation, Josie can figure out electronics instinctively.  Within seconds of taking the Kinivo speaker out of the box, she had the charging cord plugged into an outlet and her dad's iphone plugged into the side.  

She then figured out that the top of the mini-speaker pops up, she pressed the on-button, easily adjusted the volume and began to dance.

The whole process was a quick and simple as can be.

Even I might have been able to do it.

After the mini-speaker battery was charged, we brought it outside to our deck and enjoyed music, cocktails and chips in the fresh air.  

And like moths to a flame, our children appeared, eager to stuff their faces with guacamole and to enjoy the tunes.

It was fabulous to finally have some music on our back porch.  Who needs fancy, expensive outdoor speakers installed when for under $20, you can own a Kinivo mini-speaker?  

The only real problem we encountered was deciding who got to control the iphone.  For the most part, Gordy took the role of DJ.

....but the girls had their turns, too.  Once you plug in your iphone, you don't have to do anything else with the speaker.  Controlling the playlist is done on the iphone itself.

This was an impromptu party, so the only invited guest other than our family was our neighbor Audrey who was over playing with the girls.

She wasn't so sure about the dance party at first, but soon the rhythm got to her, too.  Music is very infectious.

Bringing our dance party outside was great fun.  Thank you, Kinivo Mini-Speaker!  We think you're pretty great.  You're welcome to come to all our Dance Parties in the future.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The End of An Era

Today was the official end of an era.  Our family is done - DONE! - with all the mandatory swim/sailing tests at our pool.  Josephine passed her sailing swim test - the last water test she will ever have to endure.  

Oh Happy Day!

Do you happen to remember that at our pool, swimmers & sailors have to take their water proficiency tests during adult swims and therefore, have to preform said tests in front of a rapt audience of their peers?  

The swimming (deep water tests) are relatively quick and painless, but the sailing test has more opportunities for embarrassment and Josie was not looking forward to the whole endeavor.  

First of all, you have to dress like a boy.

And that is not easy for Miss I Love Pink.

And more importantly, Josie has never been thrilled about taking tests while her older siblings' friends are watching and cackling from the sidelines.

I couldn't change the dress code, but I could out-smart the whole audience component.  Josie, Georgia and I rushed to the pool right after school (our school gets out 20 minutes earlier than some of the other schools in our town) and Josie raced into the changing room while I went over to ask the life guard if he would mind missing his 15 minute break to give Josie her test.  

There was literally no one at the pool.  Our plan was working.

Exactly ten minutes after we arrived, the life guard blew his whistle which signaled Adult Swim (to us, since we were the only people there).

Josie adjusted the buttons on her button-down shirt and pulled on her water shoes.

Georgia gave her a few pointers and I told her not worry if she didn't pass this time around.  Lots of people have to take this test more than once, including her brother Henry, who, granted, had to take his test in the pool before the heater was installed and therefore, could hardly be blamed for stopping mid-exam when he could no longer feel his legs.

Oh the drama!

I was hoping that we wouldn't have to do a second test for Josie, though.  The thought of being done - DONE! - with all these tests made me way too excited for words.  I don't have children who take these things lightly, and I don't exactly crave stress and looming deadlines hanging over my head during my summer.  

And now the moment was upon us.  Josie slipped into the water and swam her first lap.  She did not complain about her clothes being heavy like Georgia did during her test two years ago.  She did not seem unduly phased by the entire thing.  We were still the only people at the pool.

Once both laps were finished, Josie had to remove all her clothes/shoes and then tread water for 5 minutes.  Once the embarrassing scramble to remove shirts and pants while treading water in the deep end was over, Josie didn't mind that people were now arriving and coming over to see what was going on.

Minute One.

Minute two.

Minute three.  The end was in sight.

Minute four.

Minute Five:  Success!

I couldn't be more pleased.  I'm so giddy to be finished, that I'm passing along our family's sailing test clothes to Josie's sailing partner, Dorothy.  So far four children have had the benefit of our lining-less pants, loose-button-holed shirt and too-big swim shoes.  Henry, Georgia, Caroline (Dorothy's sister --- hey!  I bet that's the first time older-sister Caroline has ever been described as DOROTHY's sister.  ha!) and Josie have all worn the outfit with success.  

Congratulations, Josie!  You're now ready for sailing!

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