kindergarten progress

I am amazed at how much my daughter has learned and grown in Kindergarten. Her last day was Thursday, and she came off the bus a combination of smiles and a little sadness behind her eyes that I’m pretty sure only I could see.

“Are you happy you’re all done with school?” I asked her. “Yeah,” she said. “But I didn’t want to leave the classroom. Or the school. Or the bus. Or my friends.” I knew what she felt; I distinctly remember kissing the wall of my kindergarten classroom when nobody was looking because I was really, really going to miss it, and even at 5, I knew it.

But I assured her that the summer would be just as fun. And so would her Wednesdays and Fridays at summer camp. And then First Grade! She would be a first grader come fall.

Her teacher sent home all the binders and workbooks they had been using throughout the year.  I had seen some of them because I was a frequent helper in the classroom. But there was one that especially caught my eye – it was a monthly writing sample.  I could not believe how she went from barely legible scribbles to complete sentences with detail in pictures. And how a teacher of 24 wiggly little 5 and 6 year olds can successfully teach so much to all these kids.

I’m so grateful for all S has learned….it brought tears to my eyes looking through her little “science notebook” and leadership binder.  In a way so much is expected of our kindergarteners now – but I think she did okay!

hold your friends close, dear daughter

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S came running off the bus the other day with half of a best friend necklace around her neck. “Mama, look! My friend gave me this. We’re best friends!” and the joy on her face lit me up as well. “She has the other half and we are going to be friends forever!”

I hope she and M are friends forever. But in reality, I know that kindergarten friendships sometimes fade.  Just like ones in grade school, middle school, high school, and even into adulthood. But I also know that she will find some friends that are just gems, like I did, and that they will be one of the most important parts of her life.

So dear daughter, I wish you an amazing lifetime of blossoming and joyous friendships. In the beginning, they will be the friends that you swing with, bike with, and play house with. Then those friendships will transition to those of confidants; you will giggle with secrets of boys and groan about homework together. Then you’ll enter another phase – one where your friends will carry you through heartache, significant life changes and disappointments. Some of those disappointments may be through broken friendships – but you will have friends to carry you through those as well.

And I hope you give your heart to your friends as well, and give them all the love they need through their own ups and downs. That, dear S, is an important part of a friendship – how you both support them and celebrate their joys alongside them.

Most of all, dear daughter – I wish you a circle of friends that wrap you in their love. That know from one look what you are thinking and feeling. And that can sense when you need a little something that only a good friend can provide. And I hope that you know what a treasure a good friend is. Hold them close to your heart and give them all the love you can in return.

problem solving

It’s amazing to me how these little brains think.  And, every once in a while, I learn a lesson from watching them.

I can’t even keep track of how many times I’ve said to my daughter “no honey I don’t think that will work” – when sure enough, it does.  Or even to my two year old son – “I don’t think that will fit in there” and sure enough it does. They have persistence. They keep trying.

As an adult, I often give up. If I’m tired, if it’s not worth pushing, if it causes conflict – I just decide it’s not worth it. And I guess that’s okay. My husband is better at this – he’s a pretty persistent guy. If we have a problem, he seeks out creative solutions and it’s boxed in by the normal confines of how something should be done.

Kids start problem solving early – and the first time they do it, we’re always like “wow that was smart of them!” I think we as adults can watch these little teachers and learn too. Sometimes there are creative ways to get to what we want.

tonight, the dishes sat

Our evening routine usually goes something like this:

After dinner, I start cleaning up the kitchen (dishes, counters, etc.).  Hubby usually entertains S and C while I do that. They often end up going downstairs to the basement or somewhere other than the kitchen so I can work.

Then, when I’m done I either join in the play or pick up the house. (By the time the kids are in bed, we are so pooped that it’s nice to have the house tidy beforehand so we can just relax.) Hubby is usually still with the kids, sometimes outside. Then it’s usually time for C to go down – I warm up a sippy of milk for him and go fetch him to take up to his room. Hubby then usually spends some time with S (bath or play) until it’s her bedtime.

Today, S said to me “mama can you and I play until you have to put C to bed?” My first answer was “no, you should go play with daddy, mama has to clean up.” But I quickly took that back.  I said, “sure!” and she was shocked.

So we played. We did magna tiles. We played with a little horse/vet lego set she had just finished building. We colored. All the way until I had to put C to bed.

And you know what? We still had to clean up after.  We still had to do the dishes. But it wasn’t the end of the world. In fact, I felt like I had a more fulfilled evening. I actually spent the end of the day with my kids instead of picking up from the end of our long day.

So yes, S (and C) – I vow to do that more often.  Play.  And let the dishes/kitchen/house sit and wait for me. It’s time well spent.

toy find – the aquadoodle mat!

Okay so my kids have been LOVING this thing so I wanted to share.

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It comes with a pen (or two, depending on which package you get) – and they draw with WATER. But the mats have different colored sections, and hidden letters…so it’s more fun! It’s big enough (as you can see) that both my 2 and 5 1/2 year old can play together, and best of all NO MESS. What they draw dries in a few minutes, so there is always room for another picture. Now that my daughter is reading/writing a little, she enjoys working on her letters. C is just thrilled that we gave him a “pen” that makes marks on something.

It looks like there are a few versions available now, but mine was the classic one (only came with one pen, so beware!). Extra pens are available.

Hope your kids enjoy this gem as much as mine do!

my kids will never be toys ‘r us kids

I’m sitting here attempting to use the rest of our Toys ‘R Us gift cards and I’m feeling a little sad.  I can’t help but feel that my kids are going to miss out on something.

It’s not like we go to the toy store all the time – it’s actually a rare treat.  But it’s always nice to know it’s there.  A giant, entire store FILLED with toys. I mean where do you even start? In this day of instant gratification and being able to get anything in 2 days (sometimes sooner!) courtesy of Amazon Prime, the toy store was a place where I feel like kids could still peruse, touch, and decide.

I still remember the jingle when the commercial would come on.  And not that I want my kid to be a “toys ‘r us kid” or anything – but I’m wondering now where I’ll take them for that occasional visit.  A toy section in Target is a possibility. But there was just something about buying toys in a place that didn’t also sell home goods and clothing.

I guess this is a sign of the times though – as I think about all the other retailers that have either gone out of business or are in the midst of bankruptcy filings – our kids’ world is going to be a little different. They will do more digitally and virtually. And perhaps the physical stores they go into will me more experiential – movie theaters, trampoline parks, etc.

I will spend the rest of my gift cards but with a little sadness in my heart – the last purchase I will ever make at a Toys ‘R Us store.

When boredom strikes

Let them be bored. I’ve heard that so often lately…in this age of electronics and just plain old busyness. So I decided to try it one morning.

S woke up and as usual said “mama what are we going to do today?” It was Saturday, so usually we would have an outing of some kind planned in the morning, and then we’d spend the afternoon around the house, outside, etc. But this time I said “we’re actually going to have a family weekend. We’re going to spend all day today and tomorrow here at home and play inside and out!”

That didn’t go over well. C just turned two so he was oblivious. But S whined and complained. “I’m so bored. There’s nothing to do.” I encouraged her to go to her playroom and pick out a game. Or that we could bring the easel up from the basement and she could paint. Or we could do a puzzle. Or we could read. She stomped off to her room about an hour into the morning.

Then I found a piece of paper slid out under her door.

And she was. She made a few ‘books’ that day. She used her imagination and when given a big chunk of unstructured time, she came up with fun illustrations and words that she asked us to staple together for her later that day.

Having spent time in her kindergarten class, I know how structured her days are. We are a common core state; so much has changed from when I was in kindergarten. Kids move from one activity to another quickly. There is a not a lot of time for free play or socializing apart from the 15 min morning recess and 20 min lunch one. Their days are filled with worksheets, reading books, math puzzles and the like. This reinforced for me the need for more “boredom days” where there is time and space to let the mind wander.

So we’ll be doing more of these days. S may not like it – but especially with summer coming, I think we’ll have plenty of opportunities and she’ll learn to love them.