Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mountain Tops

The A family had a great ski trip. The F family, our companion family, also had a great time. The F family has a 3.10 year old daughter, AF, and all the kids had a great time with each other. The F family has a 4 month old boy who stayed with his grandmother.
TR has skied before. This was AF and QT's first time on skis and QT was amazing. AF was good but I think she thinks like a 6 year old and was a bit afraid.
At one point the instructor had the kids ski to the middle of a hill and she stopped them and then had them ski down the rest of the hill. QT is a daredevil and evaded the instructor and skied down the full "kiddie" hill alone. After that she let him ski without trying to slow him. He didn't fall the entire day.
Mr A says their strong core is why they can ski well. TR fell once but was able to get up withher skis on. I have to take my skis off to get back up- unless someone pulls me. I need to get to work on my core. I will be unstoppable.
TR has been begging for a play date. The ski trip was a playdate on steroids. The kids got to go sledding down hill. They loved it. I was so happy that the 3 year old girl on the trip is a thinker. She and TR could talk and play creative games. They played doctor and gave a pillow chest compressions. The F family dad is a fireman, but when I asked, he said his daughter did not know CPR. I love it when kids play games that require thinking and being creative.
Both husbands love to cook and both wives were laid back. It was great!
The husbands planned the trip, and we both have that husband as the traditional man dynamic. Ya'll know real men cook! Both men coach football at the same school, are from L.A. and the wife is a psychologist from Northern Calfornia doing special education, I do education law. They are a bit younger than us, and met in undergrad at Cal while we met as working adults, but we had lots in common as families. It was also great to talk to other conservative black folks. By conservative, I mean people who believe democratic policy hurts blacks and cause us to believe we need them or benefit from them.
Anyway when we were in L.A. all of TR's friends of all races (from the park and children of friends we made) were on the brighter side. Because that is what we were surrounded by, I figured that all kids were similar. I have no idea what type of circles we were mingling in, but I thought curious, thoughtful, well spoken kids were the norm.
Have I blogged about this before?
I used to have strangers in L.A. comment on how well my kids spoke and how smart they were. I would wonder what kids they knew. Every kid I interacted with at the park and at birthday parties, spoke in complete and descriptive sentences and seemed to be quick.
When we moved to the bay and started preschool, I discovered that all kids are not similiar. Our L.A. experience was perfect for our family. The F family is moving 2 hours up North this summer so we will enjoy as many outings as we can. We already have two more family outings planned. I am very pleased that we have found a playmate that my kids can talk to and play with.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Who Am I?

I
I mostly operate in a vacuum. I am okay with that. When I exit my vacuum and peek at the world it's informative.
I am trying to view who I am, in relation to who God is. If I do that I won't think too highly of myself or others or too lowly of myself or others.
God has given us each gifts, and my job is to utilize my gift and try to encourage others.
If I try to see who I am in relation to other people, it leads me to trouble. I look at what I do, my challenges, my background and wonder why some others do/have more of less, then I accomplish nothing but ego stroking or self-bashing.
I think "hater" is super duper overused and often used when people just have different tastes. I think true hating happens when people compare people and ignore that other people are also designed. No need to compare unqiqe things. Just be a better me.

Friday, February 22, 2013

I might as well blog

My response to S30 on my issue with public schools got lengthy so it is now a blog. I put my reasons in bold, because it is too much to read. I talk about my thoughts but have never written them, so it all poured out.
primarily I want an environment that is somewhat aligned with my values. I think children need recess. This is major to me. I know TR needs recess. I believe kindergarten and first grade are where students learn to love or hate learning. I think public school teachers have been banned from teaching in a manner to develop learners.
1) I do not agree with scripted teaching. I used to sub in Oakland and I used to do lots of kindergarten classes. It used to be fun. It was a half day but totally exhausting. It was non stop, with constant transitions. There were no worksheets. I enjoyed seeing what teachers had planned and knowing the bossy little kids would keep me to their daily routine. The last year I subbed, the district moved to Open Court which is scripted. I thought open court was the worst and most boring useless curriculum ever. I dreaded seeing it. Then came worksheets. It was like taking all of the color from a rainbow. Those little kids were robbed! Scripted Curriculum
This scripted set up does not have time for questions and answers. I don't want my kids trained to just accept facts. I encourage them to respectfully question things. Their questions often drive me wacky but I do my best to answer Or tell them to ask Mr A or my mom. I run into little kids who don't want to touch and who don't ask why. I don't think that is a good thing.
2) I am 100% opposed to paced instruction Oakland uses paced curriculum, so throughout the district every class is supposed to be on the same page, same day at the same time. I lean towards conspiracy, so I don't trust that design. The students don't have time to be curious or give thought, or discuss ideas. The kids are discouraged from thinking about the stuff because it's timed. I prefer interactive and I think a teacher should be free to alter her lesson plan if she sees a need.
3) Recess has been removed from kindergarten. I encourage play and our schools have eliminated play. I was shopping for a school that believes in recess and allows 5-6 year olds to move. I took my kids to a school yard in oakland in summer 2011 and it had a beautiful play structure. It was a hot day. The structure had a fence and I walked the entire fence and discovered it was completely fenced. The school had summer school, but no recess. I was sweating and carrying two kids who were excited to get to play. How did parents let this happen? I am protesting with my feet.
4). I am raising my kids with my Christian religion. If they say homosexuality is a sin, or if they reject a class-mates same-sex advance based on religion, they would be sent to counseling (without parental consent)for intolerance/ bullying. I don't know how the gay history curriculum will be implemented and when. Public schools in CA allow kids as young as kindergarten to be called a different gender and by a different name, without notice to parents. When girls are 12 the schools will arrange for them to go to planned parenthood for abortions and/or birth control shots. I am opting out of that.
5) I do not like all of the testing or grading schools based on tests. Schools have to tests kids who are intellectually disabled and have other learning disabilities and who are English as a Second Language. Of course scores will be low. That is not failure.
6.I don't think brand new learners should be graded. My cousin put her son's first report card on fb. He got all A's. I think little kids should have their work corrected not graded. I think kids should be taught that they are learners. The value in learning is bigger than the grade. The schools we want don't grade until 3rd grade or so. They have pre-planned meetings with the parents on the students work, skills and ability.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

School in the summer.

TR will be going to summer school (transition kindergarten) this year. We have paid the non-refundable deposit. I think she will enjoy herself. I think it will be rough on QT, but Mr A plans to take him to practice so hopefully he will transition well to spending hours away from his sister 5 days a week.
One of the mother's at gymnastics has a child who attended the summer school last year and she said her daughter loved it and will return for 1st grade summer this year.
I am quite worried about the economy. If people and governments do not have money, then that limits earnings for everyone. Private school is a necessary luxury for me. Prayerfully we will be able to comfortably fund it for 2 kids for the next 15 years.
Tne more I consider traditional school, the more I dislike it. It does not seem family friendly. School takes children away from family for the best part of daylight hours and teaches them things folks I don't know, say they should learn.
Gymnastics
TR was doing some type of skill this weekend at church and a member was saying how amazing her strength was. I told him she is a competitive gymnast. He sorta ignored me and chuckled and commented on what she had just done. Mr A told him she really is a competitive gymnast and that she trains each week for x hours.
At preschool a couple of parents have stopped us and told us she has natural talent for gymnastics. I tell them she is a competitive gymnast. Last week a father told me she had climbed to the top of a fence and did 15 pull-ups.
We tell her to do her skills only at gym but, it's hard for her not to practice. When we put her in bed at night, she practices her handstands. I have stopped making her stop practicing when she is home. People get a little scared when they see a little kid do a flip and end in a handstand. They think she is going to fall, and by the second time they realize she really is a gymnast.
TR's coach and I had a nice chat. She told me that the kids are getting along better and that of the 4, all but one have dominant personalities. She says everyone talks to the girl who does not have a dominant personality because the rest butt heads. When TR was 1 or 2 my cousin, a school psychologist for the District's gifted program, told me we would be getting calls everyday from TR's teacher. She said the teacher would be telling us that TR was trying to run the class.
I suspected the other girls would be similiar to TR. I was right. The coach said they like gymnasts with dominant personalities but those types also try to tell the coach how to coach (which they do not want), so they have to learn how to be coached.
Good thing she only has 4 kids. I am sure I would be driven crazy by a bunch of bossy kids.
Labor
I have very found memories of QT's birth. I am a little annoyed that he still has the mark from the ankle bracelet. He was in the hospital one day and it bruised him.
Anyway, I am pleased my kiddies are close in age. It was rough having 2 under 2, it was rough trying to carry two babies but I knew that they would love it being so close in age and growing together. I love listening to them chat at night. It's hilarious. They have great conversations. I will have to record them or night.
When QT was born, Mr A kept saying, "thank you for my son". I am glad I have a son. TR challenges me and QT challenges Mr. A. It's good to have one kid kiss you, when the other storms off and pouts. It's crazy to recognize the parenting dynamics based on sex. QT will cuddle me and attacks Mr. A.
At practice yesterday, a coach asked QT who taught him to throw (he throws and catches) extremely well and he said, 'my mommy'. Everyone in the room knew Mr. A taught him, but he gave his mommy the credit. Yaay for sons!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Keeping up with the A family

I pondered trying to spell A's like the joneses, but I did not want us to look like 'the Ases'.

Gymnastics TR's coach told me another competitive team coach and she, were figuring out if TR would go to team next season (fall 2013-summer 2014.   The other coach saw TR do a press hand stand (she does a full split, from the split she pushes herself to a handstand) and asked her age.

Kids have to be 6 to compete but TR will be 5 this year and since she will turn 6 during that competition year, she may make it. The only snag is. . . . she acts like a 4 year old. I thought it was funny, when the coach said she acts like she is 4. I agree, my 4 year old is 4.
Her ability is older but her behavior is pretty well aligned her age. She is playful and affectionate. I am okay with that because I hope that her love of gymnastics and experiencing her age will delay her burnout. Right now she views gymnastics as total fun. She does not realize she is in the advanced class, probably because she was never in the class for her age group.

When we were in L.A. she was 2 in the 4 year old class and 3 when she started preschool advanced.

I have recently accepted that she has talent.was a babe people would stop me, ask her age and comment on how well she walked. I never knew and never asked how kids her age walked. Now I realize that little kids walk and observers are hoping the kid does not fall. TR and QT skipped that toddle phase. Mr A says it's because he built their core early. His Magic Carpet was building core strength. As seen here

On Appreciating My Mate

I had a interesting dream on the night before Valentine's Day. I dreamed I met Mr A and after getting to know him, I told him he should ask to me to marry him. I was flirting with him and he was firm on saying it could not work. In my dream I was divorced and he didn't want a divorced woman. I think he liked me because he was paying attention to me but he was firm in the background of the woman he would date.

En-T-way, imagine my joy when I awoke and he was next to me! Even in my dreams I knew he was the man for me. I chose well when I chose him. I held him a little closer after that dream. It was a good reminder for me to appreciate Mr. A, and to enjoy my spark for him as I did when our relationship was brand spanking new.

Big Boys

We are taking QT skiing for his birthday. We are traveling with another couple ad their kids. TR will be so happy. She keeps telling me she wants to go somewhere with another mommy and kid, like we did in L.A

Mr A and the other husband are friends and have gotten the kids together but this will be my first time meeting the wife. I am sure I will like her because for some crazy reason, I always like wives/gfs of Mr A's friends. Sadly, pretty much all of his friends end up single as soon as I get cozy with the women.

I digress. QT will be 3! He is excited. Since all of his friends are on the high school football team his party will be there. Mr A says the football kids are excited. They love QT and he loves them.

I miss L.A. weather and lifestyle a lot but the move was great for QT and TR. QT gets to be a part of the team. At private school, he gets to sit on the sidelines and he actually spent every game, sitting on Mr A's shoulders. At practice the kids took great care of him and treated him like he was on the team.

When TR went to practice the cheerleaders would come to get her and treat her like she was on the team.

I think its great for young kids to mingle with teens and here my kiddies get that.

Mr A had gotten hired at a top L.A. private school and the head coach who hired him was recently let go. The coaches at his public high school in L.A. also got fired. We left L.A. at a good time for his coaching career .

Me

After many years, I have finally begun reading a book for leisure. I am so excited, especially because the book is from the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I still miss that show and I wonder what would have come, so the book will fill that void.

Pinterest is assisting me in deciding on how to decorate the office. I am a fan. Photos will be slow in coming because I buy pieces. It can take a long time when decorating piece by piece.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Outdoors

The grass is still news to us, so, here are photos of today's soccer game.
My kids are athletes.


TR is ready for kindergarten.  When she completed her kinder screen, she (all the kids) were given a "toy".  Yesterday she told QT the story of how she got the toy.  She told him she had been to 
kindergarten, that she had snacks, she had fun and because she had a good day, she got the toy.

She told QT she wanted to go back to kindergarten every day but I told her she would go back when she turned 5. I am glad she had a great day.  She got to meet the kindergarten teachers and get an idea of what a kindergarten day might be like.

During her preschool show and tell he talked about her kindergarten.  Prayerfully the school staff likes her more than she liked them and will send us a letter of admission.

I do not think I have had a mid-day nap since we moved. I am exhausted.  The kids usually eat at 8 am, so I am up at 7 am.  Starting school is going to be rough. We will have to wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, and off to school for a certain time each day.  I miss 9 am or 10 school start times. Being at school for 8 or thereabouts might be a challenge.

I do plan to enjoy kindergarten.  I want to volunteer at least once per week. We work at TR's preschool at least 2x per month.  I won't say it's fun.  It used to be fun. It's interesting and the kids have fun.  I enjoy peeking at TR to see how she works but when parents work, they have to be there for all of the kids, so I can't focus on my kid.  The park was much more fun. The kids at the park were a different bunch.






Monday, February 11, 2013

Closer to Costco. Further from whole foods. Closer to family.

When we lived in L.A. we were within 4 miles of 2 Whole Foods and within 10 miles  from 3 Costco stores.
Here in Oakland we are nearly 9 miles from the nearest Whole Foods and 3 miles from the nearest Costco. Oakland has major city attributes but functions  like it wants to be a town with nothing but a freeway to connect San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
We used to make multiple trips to Whole Foods and because Whole Foods and Erewhon were within walking distance of Mr. A's work, we would always have our stuff fresh from the store. We could buy the breakfast sausage that had to be cooked in 2 days, every two days because it was convenient to do so.
Now we buy our hormone free milk and cage free eggs from Costco because it's closer to home and we need those items frequently.
Quick runs to Whole Foods or random stops browsing in Trader Joe's have ended.
But we made the choice where to live. We chose a priority. We gave up warm sunny days and proximity to the good stuff, to be near family. I wish my mother would have moved to L.A. That would have been fun. Her grandfather Hardy and his brother started his California life in Pasadena and some of her favorite cousins (the grandchildren of Hardy's brother) are in L.A.
Anyway we are here. Time to adapt.

We've finally got grass in the yard!



We have a full home office downstairs that makes me feel like the Cosby's.  Business is run down here.  Mr A and TR were having a meeting in this photo. I plan to put her on the payroll in 2013.  She is a dedicated worker.  The office is my current project. Consider this the before photo.   It has to be 
an office space for our two child workers and the adults.  

TR seems to enjoy preschool. It's playbased and lots of hands on activities.  
How to identify a high quality play based Preschool

We don't go to school everyday but we do, do something everyday.  I think I would be great at 
homeschool. I have lots of ideas and not enough time for the activities.




The kids love the grass. I have to end this post because QT just went to the back doors, tried to open them and told me he wants to go outside.
.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Middle School part 2

I sorta feel like gymnastics/private school is my repeat of middle school. I would prefer to opt out of the social stuff but this time around its my social kid who needs me to put my social butterfly wings on.
I have realized that every black mother at gymnastics has her kid(s) in private school. Many of the parents of other races also are in private, but I have spoken to every black parent and know that each one is in private and at leat one in home school.
When we first went to the gym, I chatted with a black mother who was from L.A. and had actually taken gymastics at TR's L.A. gym as a kid. We toured a school, that we chose not to apply to and the same woman was there volunteering in her child's kindergarten class. We spoke. When we met I told her we had scheduled a tour at the school her daughter attended. We usually spoke at gymnastics.
The woman was listed as a parent to contact for prospective families. I called her and she never called back. That was back in December. Today I saw her again after not seeing her since December and she intentionally ignored me. So odd.
I wonder if she is upset because TR and her daughter spent a day in the same class. After TR's first class, TR was moved to pre-team. I notice the parents of the competitive kids talk to each other and the recreation kids parents talk to each other.
The gym has all competive kids on one side, so if a parent is looking to the left, you know their kid is competitive. The competitive team parents spend more days and hours at the gym, so the formation of groups is somewhat natural.
I have always liked to talk to random people at random times, so getting in a clique is not in my makeup. I like to sit and talk with parents, but because the kids are split, I end up being unable to watch TR if I choose to chat with a recreation parent, because if a recreation parent is watching their kid, I would have to turn my back to that parent to watch TR. There is also a seating issue. You move you lose. I might bring a portable chair. This might give me the flexibility to mingle.
QT dropped out of gymnastics at the end of January, so now my only reason to sit on the recreation side, is to talk to people. I don't think QT really liked gymnastics. He liked his teacher and she left (I suspect she went to the circus) and he said that now that his friend was gone he did not want to do the sport. The class was not cheap, so I did not argue with him. I asked for a refund! I am pleased my 2 year old will tell me he doesn't want to do something.
Last week at gymnastics I spoke to a grandmother who has a granddaughter at the school we applied to. Today the girl's mother brought the child. The mother and I spoke and she said she had also disliked the school we did not apply to. She said she left that school's tour early.
This whole private school- gymnastics situation has shown me that I will likely have to continue seeing the same people. I have to participate in this social game because TR's personality seeks to make friends and socialize.
I used to take TR to gymnastics with just enough time to start class. After she notified me of her desire to be white I have began getting her there at least 10-15 minutes early so she can socialize with her teammates. I can tell that she feels more a part of the group now. Her teammates greet her, they play and they talk before class. I am pleased to know the exclusion she may have felt was not about skin but about time to socialize before practice.
When I was growing up, I got to class right before the bell rang or shortly after. My siblings would get out of the car early to socialize. I would remain in the warm car and have my mother drop me off as close to my classroom door as possible. I am the same as an adult. It's interesting because I am the same type of social media person. I notice bloggers socialize by tweet and other networks, and I miss a lot of back stories and relationship building. Blog cliques form, and I just want to read blogs without having an alliance or allegiance.
I want TR to be social but I don't want her to place high value on friendships. Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers always taught that we didn't have friends. We can be friendly and socialize but your family is what you have. This social media behavior kids engage in makes me want to enforce to my kids that they do not have friends. If they know people are not a friend, an insulting tweet won't have them pondering suicide.
Words hurt but unkind words from friends hurt more. I remember reading a blog and the author had said something like, butterflies die when I write. I had exchanged emails with that blogger and was surprised to know she thought that. That stung a little and surprised me a lot.
If adults have blog and twitter wars, and if adults publicize private conversations on the internet to be mean, I know kids will worse and kids will be very affected by unkind things publicized.
I will play the social game but I will make sure TR understands it is a game. Family is who you build your friendships with. And stay off twitter and away from twits who tweet mean things.
QT is reserved like me. TR is social like her daddy. I think TR values her friends and will be hurt by unkind actions. QT will keep distance from people and will not be surprised by their behavior. I think life is harder for social women, because a man will see you down and walk away. Women see you down and want an audience as the plunge a knife in your gut and twist it. But that is just my unscientific opinion as I ponder ways to get TR not to be too concerned or focused with what people think or say about her.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Satisfied?

business is doing very well. We now have 6 people, including Mr A and me working in the business.
Today I realized that I had thought I would have multiple successful businesses at this stage of life. I am slightly disappointed in myself, with where I am. I am not weary in well doing but . . . . . .I feel I was capable of more.
I should have listened to my mother when she said to build my business consistently. In my 20's I would get a lump sum and stop working for months.
When opportunity meets preparation. I had lots of opportunity throughout my life but I was not always prepared or willing. Fortunately opportunity kept looking for me.
I am now internally motivated, which is great. I used to want to live in L.A. because being poor or middle income, amongst visible trappings of wealth, kept me motivated. It was a reminder that there is more to accomplish. It felt great to live in L.A. and be able to walk in Bloomingdale or NM knowing I could afford to buy my kids clothes and have a nice post shopping lunch.
Now we are back in the bay where luxury vehicles and visible wealth are fairly rare, but I maintain my motivation. I think the sun impacts behavior. L.A. was more concerned about appearances. I think sunny skies hada kot to do with that. I saw $100k+ cars daily in L.A. In Oakland I wonder what is wrong with the driver of such vehicles. It is so different.
This past weekend TR told me she wants my mother to move to Los Angeles. She said she will pack up and move back to L.A. if my mother moves. I asked her if she missed L.A. and she told me she misses the sun there, that Oakland does not have much sun. She said the lack of sun makes her miss her swimming and other activities and she has forgotten how to swim.
I AM
....... a competitive mom. I figure I may as well accept it and not be out of control and in denial. Last week the coach said TR has begun to cry when doing pull ups. TR told me she cried because she wanted to do 100. She said 100 is her favorite number and she wanted to do more than the other girls.
My little girl is competitive too! On the bright side, I believe you are only as good as your strongest competitor. There is another girl in TR's class who is pretty good. TR is driving herself to be better than tht girl.
I occasionally oppose some sharp attorneys and I appreciate that, because it drives me to strive for excellence. It lets me know I can operate on my toes. I also learn and sharpen my own skills.
It is rough to watch someone do something better than my kid, but I am glad my kid responds to competition by working to get better.
I want to be around the folks who are striving for their best and that is the contest where winning feels best. Even losing is digestible when the competition is fierce.