Friday, June 12, 2015

Elena's Last Day of Kindergarten

It seemed like this day would not come - everyone else has been out of school for a while, and now that it is officially completed, the summer will fly- for many reasons. One is just keeping them busy. One is that we are moving. The final reason, I guess, is that summer always flies! I have truly felt grateful for the lush, greenness of these last few weeks. I feel like I am more conscious of the heavy, humid air and all the changes that are about to swirl around us. I feel a bit like we are being swept up and moved along - apparently I am a little more planted here than I thought.
Elena's last day of kindergarten has ended a week of bringing home artfolios (I wondered what she was doing all year in there!), math workbooks, and journals. It all feels bittersweet as I have dropped her off a hundred times and more, watching her run to the kindergarten door, her arms out in front of her with her giant backpack slogging side-to-side, looking like it might tip her over. How she never, ever looked back once she left the car or hardly even said goodbye as she climbed out. It was all about the friends on the other side. And then her eyes searching a bit nervously at pick-up time, wondering if I would be there, always a little worried that I might not be. And, truthfully, I was a few minutes late enough times that I got to see her beautiful face framed in the window between the kindergarten classroom doors, and then see her disappear and come rushing out the side door.
I got to know the kids in her class by listening to her talk about them and by going in each Wednesday to read to the class. Papa got to go a few times, and Meme went once, too. I began to enjoy very much going to the class and seeing their intent little faces and hearing Evan say, "Hey, you got your haircut," and on the last day, "Not again!" So maybe I was the only parent who went almost every week, but I felt sad when I would ask Elena if any parent came to read to the class and she would say, "No, no one came!" If I'm not home from work to do things like that, I don't know why I am!
Elena did not want to stop for this picture as we were walking toward the school, but she did stop and give me a bit of a grin. Just for a second.

I have seen so many changes in Elena this last year and I have been amazed at how fast she has learned. One of the biggest things this spring has been the interest in friends. The neighborhood kids have become quite a bunch - playing "adventures," swordfights, tag, a water fight a few days ago, and making mud pies (one of my favorites.) Some of the kids, especially Maren, like finding bugs and collecting them. Worms, moths, butterflies, roly-polys... whatever they can find. This stage of childhood is brimming with discovery and it's fun to be a parent watching it unfold. It is also pulling at my heartstrings, watching them fly farther from the nest and needing us less - though there is still a lot to be taught and a lot for me to learn, too. That's what it's all about, yes? I'm not sure who is learning more from whom :)

The pictures below are from an after-school celebration today at a fellow kindergartner's house. The kiddos had a great time playing freeze game, drawing, a short stint outside in the cool rain and upstairs... 
 Everyone looks so happy! Love this~

 I had watched Olivia and Maren sit next to each other and scoot, scoot, scoot their chairs closer together. So cute! 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rewind to October 2013

We spent many Thursday afternoons at a library in Chicago near the home of a classmate of Elena's, Naomi, at their storytimes, which lasted an hour and always included a craft and playtime. 
Elena and Maren would make themselves comfortable. 

 The BeanBag Song

 Apparently getting used to preschool was a little tiring. During quiet time, Elena began taking naps again. She would often cover her head with the blanket, and much to my surprise, she was out.

 This is Elena in my Grandma's earrings, given to me by Meme and kept in a box in my drawer. The fun of clip on earrings and dress-up!

 HI Mom! I picked out my outfit today!

 Maren with Sleeping Baby

 Maren and I took a trip on our own to Meme and Tim's and went with them to Ames, where they were doing a dance demonstration

 Maren dancing the polka

 Dinner at a local place in costume. Baby is safe!

 Crafts at Ms. Sharon's storytime in Chicago. 
Elena got the shorts from the learning center on loan... she loved them for a few days.

 Maren and her books
After storytime

 Elena and her bedtime crew

 At a pumpkin patch in the North Suburbs. We went on a hayride and learned about gourds, petted goats, had hot cocoa and lots of fun 

 At Wagner Farm
Collecting these eggs never gets old!!!
I can't help but wonder how Grandma Nedved would have giggled at this and if the girls would have loved collecting eggs with her. She told me I could have a penny for each one I broke as we were washing them :-)

 Maren (looking tired) waiting to put the eggs in the crates

 Outside the farm on a tractor
Oh, the wind!

 The scarf song with Ms. Sharon

 Ready for anything
 Beautiful fall trees at the blue and green park in Morton Grove

 Ms. Edyta's four year-old class in Halloween costume

 Dressing up for storytime with Ms. Sharon

 Maren and Ms. Penny

 So happy after going trick or treating with Ms. Diane's class

Dancing with babies
(but they took the fall off of dance classes)

 They were both looking so cute, I just wanted a picture of them. Elena was not in the mood for a picture so I told Maren to make her laugh. She started tickling her and I got better pics than I hoped for.

 Halloween in the rain 2013

 Pinkalicious - their first live show

That is gum- with peanut butter all over it, in Elena's hair. It probably took me a half hour to get it out. After almost no cutting, it was free. Messy!

 Playtime in our chonies

 Maren with her bug catcher, Elena smiling and having fun after the learning center

 Loving Lulu

 Catching snowflakes

 Sisters stop for a quick pose at Kyla's house

 Full blown leaf play

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The First Day of Kindergarten

Tomorrow is Elena's first actual day of kindergarten. On Wednesday she went from 9-9:45 to get acquainted with the teacher, and four other students. Our neighbor from across the street will be in her class, also. I am interested to see how tomorrow will go, as I believe that I will be leaving her at the door. This has been the tough part in the past, the dropping off. At least she will know someone in the class and she met a girl on Wednesday, too. She has been quite excited to start, and it has been a big deal for her to be starting kindergarten. I am glad - there does not seem to be the anxiety that has been there in year's past. For me, either! I guess I feel confident in her teacher and in Elena. I know she will do well. I am also relieved that it is only a half day. Not the popular opinion of most parents I have talked with about that, but I think that is making it easier, knowing that she is only there half day. 

Rewind to September 2013

Looking Back

It is amazing to look back a year and see how different they look - how little! What a great time to compare and think of the year gone by and be sentimental about the milestones ahead.

 With Grandpa for his birthday.

 So excited to take a trip to Iowa in the Jeep!

 Maren loves her LuLu. And taking pictures of her with LuLu!

 Playing with toys at Grandpa's

 At Jonquil Terrace Park on the roll-y slide

 Gotta love that big cheesy grin. This time the babies are going down, too.

 One morning while Elena was at preschool, I got my flute out and let Maren have a try. This is her on the piccolo, which is harder than the flute. I can't really play it any more. But Maren had a great time working on playing both of them. 

 Had to include this snapshot I took from the parking lot, watching Kirk and Maren walk around the building. Sometimes - sometimes often - I get that feeling in my chest, how little they are, how precious these days are and I want to remember them that way forever. If only I could freeze time. How blonde and tiny she looks!

 What on Earth?? You might ask. Well, this is the Famous Spicy Square. This is the little patch on Elena'a beloved Blankie (it's a girl, I've learned) that she scratched and rubbed and eventually wore off of her blanket. You can see where it has been stitched back on. She wanted a picture of it to remember it.

 Elena made her very own creation from Diego and Dora blocks. Love how proud she was of this!

 Heading in for the first day of 4 year-old preschool (2013) with Ms. Edyta and Ms. Jill

 Playing in the classroom.
I really liked the way they eased them in this year. For forty-five minutes, they came in with half the class and a parent and got used to the teacher and classroom.

 Sitting at circle time. She brought her lamb from Meme's house with her.

A budding Picasso at work.... or play

Maren and I went and had a little treat to celebrate Elena's first day

That first day and the anticipation of it... exhausting.
A nap for a girl who does not nap. Except the first week or so of school.

On the preschool playground together.

Maren's first day of 3 year-old preschool 2013 with Ms. Diane and Ms. Penny.

Love that little smile. Was she nervous? 
I don't think so. She told me later: "Mama. I taught myself not to cry."

I got to be there on the very first day so I got to snap pictures.