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Dillo told me in the car last night that sweat was microscopic water that gets on your skin.  So I noted what an excellent word microscopic was, and reiterated what it meant, and then we were off on a microscopic kick.  Such that when we got home and had cheese and crackers he asked for "that which cheese with microscopic dots of black in it" (by which he meant Boursin, which the children ADORE.)

At dinner Casper and I had a hilarious conversation about her relationship with Eliza, which has been making her insane and weepy all week. She was bemoaning the fact that Eliza "makes" her sit with her at lunch and I told her she was in charge of who she sits with and she confessed that she actually sites with Eliza because Eliza gives her the Ritz Bits from her lunch!  She confessed this like it was some huge dark secret and I was hard-pressed not to laugh out loud.  In general, though, this Eliza situation is maddening - to hear Casper talk Eliza is a spoiled mean girl, and while Eliza is sort of bossy, she is actually not evil, you know?  They are definitely fremeies this week, though, and I have been encouraging distance.  As I keep telling Casper, Eliza cannot actually make her do anything - she is in charge of her own choices.
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Last day of school today, Casper came home with a book of stories each of her classmates wrote about her. Several people mentioned that she likes or loves Thomas. The story by Thomas goes:

"[Casper] is a super friend because she is nice. She is also pretty. She is a good friend. She is the one I want to marry. Me and her have a lot in common. We both like ice cream and cake, and stuff like that. She is invited to my birthday party. She is a good friend. I also lllooovvveee her! She is my most granted girl friend."

It was illustrated with a picture of them getting married. He's in a top hat.

He's actually a total doll, and his parents are great. If they still love each other in 20 years, I will be all for the wedding. And I will trot out this paper to embarrass them with.
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Casper went to a birthday sleepover last night, 3 houses down, with 5 other girls, all of whom are in her class at school. It sounds like it went okay, except when they were going to bed, she was being noisy and the other girls yelled at her, so she went and slept in another room all by herself and pretty much played by herself in the morning. I haven't talked to her about it (mr. flea did), but it makes me so sad, the social issues thing. I know kids are just kids and learning to deal with stuff, and I think she found a good solution. But at the same time it brings up some of the negative social dynamics in the class that I thought had faded. The dueling bossy girls were both at the party.

Meanwhile back at the homestead, Dillo planned a "sleepover" for himself in the living room. He fell asleep in his sleeping back watching Olympics, but woke up coughing at 10 and we had a long night after that. He's developed a phlegmy chest cold, and kept freaking out at coughing up mucus, and waking himself up. So, while last night we had a queen, a double, and 3 single beds set up in our house (the extras from overnight guests on Weds.), Dillo slept on my chest on the couch most of the night.

I hauled myself out to sell Girl Scout cookie at Target (sans Casper) at 9am, and had a good time getting to know some new people. One of whom turns out to be Vic Chesnutt's sister. Athens being Athens.

Despite serious trying, we couldn't get either kid to nap today, so we're feeding them and hoping they fall asleep sooon! Although it was gronky, it was a beautiful day, and I did some yard work and hope to do more tomorrow.
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Casper was singing in the shower last night, as she is wont to do, and I was sitting and giggling and just thinking how AWESOME she is. So I thought I should tell you.

She sings a lot, in the shower or in the car while we're driving, or when she's playing by herself. She makes up her own songs, and while the music lines tend to owe a lot to pop culture as seen on, say, Nickelodeon, the words are wonderful. One memorable song was, "I'm a tiny tiny tiny hobo ... from Hoboken." Last night it was, "Orange is a color, orange is a color, in the raaaaiiiiiinbow! Crimson is a color..." She also likes to strike poses and look at herself in the mirror.

She's increasingly tall and slim, currently wearing about a 7 slim in pants, and size 2 shoes. She's about 49 inches tall and Wii fit put her at 52 pounds in Ohio. She's picking her own hairstyles but is happy with the less-than-professional job I do cutting her hair. Currently she has a chin-length bob and bangs. Her hair is a golden blonde. She often has blue circles under her eyes at the end of the day, but overall she's a pretty child, medium-featured, pretty blue eyes. She likes to wear jeans or skirts and leggings and sneakers (generally converse-style). She wears more black than most 6 year olds I suspect, but she also likes frills and bling, and is perfectly happy to wear neutral or even boys' clothes sometimes.

She's still reading at grade level for first grade, which is to say slowly with sounding out and help required. I did her guided reading last night and she tended to guess with words based ion what she knew the sentence was going to say, not actually looking at them. (I said, "Look at the letters," about 17 times.) The new Electric Company on PBS is pitched EXACTLY at her level, and she really likes it, so we watch it most days. She's good at math and finds it pretty easy - can count and manage change, addition and subtraction up to 20. I don't think she's fully grasped the 1s, 10s, and 100s place concept, and we might add a little more math play to our home stuff. I started reading The Secret Garden to her last night and she is interested in it.

She still loves to draw and do art projects. She very carefully cut out a paper doll from a book I had from my childhood, and was using some giraffe-print scrapbooking paper someone at work gave me to make extra clothes for it, tracing the doll to get the shape right. She likes detail and elaboration. I don't see as much of the large-motor activity, but she's doing Tae Kwan Do twice a week still and likes it, and passed her orange belt test right before the break. She plays well with others (not her brother, but he's transitioning right now and they haven't worked it out yet) and the bad social stuff in her class and after school seems to have settled down a lot.

I am so interested to see how she's growing up.
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We had our first teacher conference yesterday, with Mrs. C. I felt generally good about it.

1. Social issues. Mrs. C acknowledges that this class had a very different vibe from her class last year, especially driven by the fact that there are two outspoken and competitive girls who seem to be setting the social dynamic. She is trying to get the class more involved in collaborative work, but this group hasn't gelled as well as some of her previous classes. It's a pity, since Casper seems to be good at and enjoy the collaborative work. The social issues are going to be discussed with the parents in question, and I ran into one of them after school and we had a good talk. Mrs. C knew that the dynamic was occurring in recess, but I was able to tell her that it was also happening in after school.

Mrs. C's concern about Casper is that she is shy in class, won't speak up, and sometimes when she does she used a baby voice or a very quiet voice. We said, "OUR KID OMGAREYOUKIDDING?" and told Mrs. C some anecdotes (like Casper's mean notes) that I think opened her eyes. She was interested in my suggestion that Casper held things back at school. When I talked to Casper about it at home, it was clear that this is a problem - she got very shy and embarrassed. She said the Mrs. B (the parapro) yells a lot (huh? wouldn't have expected that, and Mrs. B runs girl scouts which Casper loves). So we had a pep talk about speaking up and not worrying about being wrong, that Mrs. C loves her and wants to hear her voice.

The other concern Mrs. C had was Casper's distractability, especially when they are seated on the floor working together. Interestingly, at the end of the session mr. flea remarked that he was having a hard time focusing on our conversation because there was so much going on in the room (i.e. in the decorations and work posted). And Casper has always been a little daydreamy - I think this is just her nature, and there's not a whole lot we can do to change it. Homework at home has been a problem, with maintaining focus. We've had to take Dillo completely away.

2. Reading. Casper is right at the "normal" point for first graders. It's a little hard to be there, because there are 7 kids in the class who are reading way above grade level, and obviously everyone in the class can see that. Mrs. C wanted to emphasize that Casper was doing well and making progress and she should not feel bad about her reading skills (nor should we) because she is not exceptional. Happily at least one of Casper's friends is in her reading group. I see some clear progress when she reads to me - which she is now more willing to do and more able to do fluently. Mrs. C also had some good suggestions that we can use when we do the reading homework, to keep her from reciting the book from memory based on the pictures (which is her tendency). We've also been watching some of the new Electric Company at home, and it's pitched exactly at Casper's current level, and she seems to like it.

3. Math. Casper picks stuff up easily (she totally got greater than and less than instantly), and loves that this work is more hands-on and collabroative. No content concerns at all with math.

I think there will be some social fallout in the class based on conversations Mrs. C had with parents. I'm interested to see what happens. I'm also thinking of asking Casper's friend Penny's mother to keep her after school one day a week, as a sort of break from the very long day she has with all the same girls, some of whom fight with each other which stresses Casper out. I still think the main after school teachers aren't very good.
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Last week at some point I found a tiny little note in Casper's book bag. It had a list of "best friends" and included Ali Cat (Allison), Siena, Katie Sue, Mrs. C, and Mrs. B. Both of the latter (Casper's teacher and the aide) had the word "love" written next to them. I think it's cute that Casper loves her teacher, but I was a little concerned about this process of writing notes about who is one's best friend and who is not.

Yesterday she brought home another list in Siena's handwriting. It was divided in two and labeled "good friends" and "bad friends." Casper was on the good side, as were Katie Sue, Allison, and Dynasty, a couple of other people I don't know, and Mommy and Daddy (hee!). On the "bad" side were a girl I know from after school, a boy in Casper and Siena's class, and a couple of other names I don't know. Notably absent from the entire list was Siena's twin brother!

I know kids do stuff like this; I probably did it myself when I was a little girl, though I don't really remember it. We've not made a big deal about it, but mentioned to Casper that it's important to treat everyone well even though there are some people we get along with better than others.

What do y'all think? Is it worth taking any further? I know Siena's mother well and could bring it up as a "common problem of 6 year old girls" thing (as opposed to a "your kid sucks" thing.) Should I mention it to the after school people (which is where I think it is happening), or Mrs. C the teacher?

Ugh.

ION I think I am getting my act together to take us to NC this weekend (western). Anyone want to join us? The weather looks a tad iffy, but that actually might make it easier to find last-minute camping spaces.

IOON I need to buy a Daisy Girl Scout uniform. Yoicks!
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On Monday we received a big packet in the mail informing us that Casper's new school failed No Child Left Behind this year - did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress goals. So we have the option to transfer to another school, or have a school-paid tutor for our child. Since they only test in grades 3, 4, and 5, and the Montessori program phase-in only reaches grade 3 this year (I think), I'm not too worried, but it is disappointing.

Today was the open house (1-2 pm; apparently in the past they did it at night and I'm sure going to ask them to do it that way in future). We found Casper's name on the list in the Pre-K/K hallway. She is going to have Mrs. B as her teacher, and be in a class of 14 kids, 6 5 year olds and 8 four year olds. Kid names: Logan, Maya, Nelly, Stephen, Ofelia, Lauren, Isabelle, Alejandro, Gabriel, America, Karen, Leslie, Tamara, Dylan, Stephanie. Which, plus Casper makes 16 kids, so I have no idea what's up - the list was copied from the printed class list on the wall plus the sheet where people signed in their kids, so maybe Nelly is a nickname of Ofelia, or they've added a kid or two since the class list was printed. About 10 kid-parent sets actually showed up. Stephanie has been in Casper's class at the day care for 2 years now, so that's nice, although they aren't particularly close (and her parents didn't come). We don't know any of the other families (yet).

Casper LOVED the classroom. It has an internal bathroom (one of our worries), a guinea pig, a doll house (a very caucasian doll family; I wonder if I can ask Mrs. B if we could get some non-white people too), and lots of cool stuff. Casper didn't want to leave after an hour, and had to be dragged to the bathroom while doing the pee-pee dance. She was also pretty outgoing with some of the other kids and didn't hesitate to start talking/playing with them.

Mrs. B is a newlywed, new to the city and the school and the Montessori method, although she's been teaching Pre-K or K for 3 years already. If she's any older than 24 I'll eat my hat. She seemed shy with the parents and answering questions about school routines and bureaucracy, but more confident with the kids. She's only had the intensive 3-week training in the Montessori method, and will be doing intensive training throughout the year, but she seems really interested in the method. When I asked about cupcakes for the birthday, she reminded me that part of the Whole Child thing was healthy snacks (but in a really nice way, not a holier than thou way.) I hope she has a good mentor, and I'd like to see that she has a steely side at some point, or I'll worry about discipline (Casper is an arguer and a weaseller!) but I am hopeful that this will be a good class despite her youth.

Most of the Park Mommy families are concentrated in the classes with the two returning, senior teachers, both of whom have good reputations. I wonder if this is coincidence or political networking, but oh well, what can you do.

ugh

Aug. 13th, 2007 02:07 pm
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I am feeling overwhelmed at work today - I have had to put off things for several weeks, and can't seem to get caught up - so what am I obsessing about? Whether or not to sign Casper up for 4 year old soccer, and if so, which league, and is it too late, and what are the social implications of each. No, this is not calming me down.

I m idiot.

I also spent a lot of the weekend socializing with parents and observing children socializing, and would love to be able to write up a long insightful post about it (also, the differences between Durham and Chapel Hill). Unfortunately I have been deserted by time, eloquence and insight, so I will simply say that I am a social moron and even while sitting there telling myself that I MUST strike up conversation with nice-looking person, and the only thing required is to ask, "Which child is yours?", I simply cannot. However, Casper seems to be in a phase of social ease and great creativity, such that after 2 hours spent playing with new people at the School playground playdate, she left with me saying, "Bye! I'm being captured by my evil witch mommy!" and on the way home said, "I like my Name School."

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