Saturday, November 21, 2009

[day 329... nov 25]

Cory and I visited Niall's class Tuesday morning before school, and found these photos up on the wall in that classroom show the progression of an outdoor project building a pit that became too deep to be safe for the kids any more.

Alice, Niall's teacher, described the situation in a note home last week: "Due to some heavy labor during outside time, the pit got considerably deeper and steeper. In addition to that they were severing the roots of some surrounding trees. When I looked at it yesterday afterschool there was no doubt in my mind that it was no longer safe to play in and around. I made the executive decision after school yesterday to close it and make it off limits until we could look closely at safety issues, and talk to the kids about next steps....Scientific investigation? Soil study? Sand box? Pond?

Apparently many of the kids were pretty indignant about the pit closure, and staged a protest march up and down the blacktop behind the Woods building, and wrote letters to Laurel, etc."

Niall and I had several chats about this on the day Alice felt she needed to close off the pit for safety, including on the drive home. Niall started off with huge excitement over the whole “save the pit” movement (“It’s amazingly easy to get people to join a group in protesting” was one choice comment – time to learn something about mob mentality pros and cons, perhaps? :P) and all the steps they had taken and their “rights” being trampled and “Maybe now they’ll listen to us” and more. Fascinating, and high level of excitement and need-to-share.

Then it came up again at bedtime, and although I didn’t want to get into it then (it was really late after the State of the School meeting), Niall really couldn’t let it go. Then it was anger, disappointment, sadness, frustration – “They never even *explained* why they closed the pit” and “They aren’t telling us anything even though they had a meeting about it.” We talked about safety and the need for grownups to sometimes make decisions that kids don’t like because grownups are responsible for the kids’ safety (based on their judgment, not always the same as the kids’ judgment) and the school has to be responsible about choices for legal and safety reasons.

But it really came down to that he thought there were ways the pit could be safe that weren’t being talked about and that in any case, kids just “need to be more careful.” Mostly a lot of disappointment because he and the other kids had worked so hard on it, I think.

Fortunately, Alice had a great discussion with the kids the next day and after airing their feelings and sharing frustrations, they brainstormed ideas about what to do with the pit now. Lots of creative ideas came up and they worked as a group to sort through them and strategize how to move forward.

A remarkable example of Little School thoughtfulness, a teacher's skill and caring, and emergent curriculum in action.

[day 328... nov 24]

This is the living room corner that has been overflowing with scrapbooking supplies and papers and photos to scrapbook for months (dare I say years?).

And this is the beginning of order and space in my new craft room (formerly Tynor's room). I've already worked on a scrapbook(a Christmases-past mini album project by Stacy Julian). Feels great!

[day 327... nov 23]

Wonderful day of relaxation, including a morning visit with my mom and a loooong (3 hour!) lunch and catching up with my friend Sue. Fabulous!

Sue and I were having such a great time that an elderly gentleman walked up on his way out and told Sue that he wanted some of whatever I was having. LOL!

(This photo is of Sue and her daughter, Amanda, at Amanda's 6th grade graduation last spring. I was too busy chatting to take any photos today!)

[day 326... nov 22]

Having fun with Niall and my laptop's Webcam.

And the same with Cory on another night.

[day 325... nov 21]

I just couldn't resist this "then and now" comparison. Cory is hugely into creating paper outfits and objects right now, and his older brother Tynor loved to do the same when he was younger.

Look how similar these two paper costumes are! So cool.

For the record, Cory is Boba Fett from Star Wars, and I'm not sure what Tynor was - maybe just standard armor.

[day 324... nov 20]

The big move is finally happening at work. We've been cramped into too few offices for the whole two years I've been with this group, with the promise of moving to new space and spreading out always "just around the corner."

It's finally here, and with 10+ years of seniority (which is how they decide these things), I'll go back to having a window office. That'll be nice, though as long as I have my own office and space, the rest is gravy. Our relatively-recently-reorg'd teams will be arranged near each other, too, which will be nice.

I'm not fond of packing and moving, but everything's done now, including three boxes at home, along with my red guest chair and my office chair (which they'll replace with something standard and uncomfortable otherwise!).And the best part? We get the three days off before Thanksgiving weekend so the movers can shuffle everyone around unencumbered. :-)

[day 323... nov 19]

Tomorrow Cory's class goes on a field trip to the Northwest Puppet Theater to see this play about Raven, the trickster. They've been reading stories in class and talking about the show, and are very excited to go on this big outing.

I remember Kellen and Tynor going to puppet shows there many years ago, and am glad that they're still performing. The theatre is in a former residence in Seattle, so the setting is a bit funky and down home - or comfortable and cozy, depending on how you look at it. The shows are great fun and very well done! I'm glad Cory will have the chance to attend on and can't wait to hear what he thinks of it.

[day 322... nov 18]

Tonight was a "State of the School" presentation at Little School, so it was a wild day. Work, then Niall's OT session over in Shoreline, a stop at a nearby McD's for dinner and playtime on the climber there, then back to Bellevue for the meeting.

Happily, the school provides free childcare for most of these evening events now, so Cory and Niall spent an hour or two in the familiar Extended Day classrooms with caregivers they know well. It made for a very late night, though, by the time the meeting was over at 8:30, then the drive home, then quick versions of bedtime routines, and off to bed. There were some very tired kids at school the next day, I'm afraid.

Cory spent his evening time working with Colleen (his lunch teacher during the school day) to make cool things out of K'nex. They made a great boat outline on the floor and Cory also made this AT-AT walker and light saber. He was very pleased with how they turned out, as you can see. :-)

[day 321... nov 17]

Every year, Carmen - the Spanish teacher at Little School - builds a beautiful Day of the Dead altar for the community to share memories about and honor the memory of their loved ones who have died. Some years I get organized enough to send photos with the boys of grandparents or others in our lives who have passed on, but it didn't quite happen this year.

Ten years ago, Kellen, Tynor and I traveled to Oaxaca with Susi, Martin and their kids for about ten days, timed to included the Day of the Dead - día de los muertos. The community there celebrates the festival in a huge way, with altars, sand paintings, skull-headed figures (catrinas), dances, performances. It was an amazing experience. We saw lots of other amazing sights in the area as well (despite Kellen being horribly sick a good part of the time, unfortunately), but día de los muertos was a major highlight.

[day 320... nov 16]

Cory has been very busy making paper objects of various kinds lately. Today when I arrived at Extended Day, Diana was signing the alphabet to him and he was creating a keyboard for this "laptop" - which comes complete with a mouse!

When we got home, he set it up next to my laptop and had me type on it, just so I could see how well it works. He was so pleased with himself. Wants to be just like his mother and type away on a laptop. Yikes!