Friday, September 27, 2013

Schooly things

So I think we know what we're doing. Margaret is taking violin, Lego engineering, the Waldorf kindergarten class, and now clay. A friend of hers takes clay and really loves it, so they sent us a coupon to try a free class out. When I picked her up, one of the instructors told me she never left the wheel and she showed me the three things she made: 2 plates and a flower pot. They were painted with glaze and just needed firing in the kiln. So I guess that means she likes pottery! Luckily, our charter school will pay for that as well. Yay! Now we need to clear off a couple of shelves for all the stuff she's going to be making- 3 pieces a week?!

Our ES (I think that stands for Educational Supervisor) came by today. In order to get the funds, the school has to "prove" that the students are doing learning, so we have to supply work samples monthly. We have to do 4 samples: language arts, math, science, and social studies. I thought I'd share what we did.

Language Arts: I found a printable online of lots of letters and the student is supposed to circle the vowels. Margaret is learning to read and I'll give her "rules" like, "When there's the e there, it makes the vowel say its name," so having her identify vowels fit in.

Math: Printed this out and had her color it, cut it, and write the answer to all the questions on each page.

Science: Did one of those simple sink/float demonstrations and she wrote down which things sank or floated in the bucket of water. Nice and simple. She's actually been really interested in conservation lately, so I think next month we'll do an environmental project. Maybe. Or label the parts of a pumpkin.

Social Science: Printed out a copy of the California state flag and she colored it.

They just want the bare minimum. The teacher said that the gardening in the Waldorf class or the construction in the Lego class can count as science, so if I want to take a picture of her doing those things and send that in, that's fine. Drawing a picture of the family can count as social studies. You pretty much can't mess up kindergarten.

What about Isaac? Well, while Margaret is in her Lego and clay classes, we go to a nearby park. It would a waste of time to cycle home and then turn around and cycle back to pick her up at the end of the class.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


A couple of posts ago, I mentioned how I got a little anxious dropping Margaret off at Lego class on the first day so I felt somewhat empathetic to other moms dropping off their kindergarteners for the first time at school. I get very cerebral and my brain was doing this:

Ok. Dropping her off. I read so many "drop her off" posts on Facebook recently. It's normal to be nervous, but don't don't don't be the clingy mom. Turn and go. But the teacher- I don't even know him. I'm sure there's a background check. It's a class full of other kids, what's going to happen? Oh and there's her one friend. At least she'll know him. I don't think I've ever done a "drop off" class before. Let's make sure it's drop off. "Is this a drop off class?" Ok it is. "Alright Margaret, I'm going to go. I'll be back. Do you want a hug?" Oh goodness, the hug was not necessary and I'm just being clingy. Abort! Abort! Get out of there before you turn into the clingy mom! "Um. Ok, Margaret. Bye!" Ok. Walk away, walk away. Am I walking funny? Do I look natural or like a nervous clingy mom. One last time: she's fine, you'll be back soon. Now you need to go grocery shopping.

In my brain I was very paranoid. But you know, I did get over it. Then this week, Margaret started going to a once a week Waldorf kindergarten class and one of the other students is also in her Lego class. The mom came up to me and mentioned that she was watching me drop Margaret off that first day (Oh no! She could see right through me!) and said that it was the best drop off she's ever seen and I didn't look nervous and Margaret was totally fine and confident.

So yay! Watch me pull the wool over everyone's eyes! I'm totally confident and instill awesome confidence in my children. Haha!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Weddings and such

Since I have The Exponent as a Mormon blogging outlet, I haven't needed to do much here. (Self-promotion: if you teach YWs, The Exponent now does YW lesson plans as well as RS lesson plans and I posted this one last week for an October lesson.)

But I read the Slate article, Sorry Your Friends Can't Come to Your Mormon Wedding and had lots of thoughts.

First, let me give some background. I got married ridiculously young (20) and got extremely lucky in the craps game of finding a spouse. Really lucky.

Also, I grew up Mormon (still am!) and the thing about Mormons... well, we really get ourselves involved in "marriage." See exhibits: that polygamy thing we try to ignore and Prop 8 (which the Church is also doing a pretty good "ignore" on).

Anyway, I grew up with lessons that emphasized getting married in the temple over not. Which is funny because my own parents did the "get married civilly, then a temple sealing a year later" route themselves.

Mormons like to tout the "families are forever" message as one of the most important aspects of the religion, and to be able to have an "eternal family" you need to be "sealed" in the temple. This typically revolves around the marriage relationship: couples are sealed together at marriage (or afterwards) and then children are sealed to the parents, thus keeping the family "together forever." The Slate article above demonstrates that in places in the world where weddings must be public, a Mormon couple can be married civilly then sealed not long afterwards. In places where governments don't require that, there is huge pressure to be married in the temple first and not have to wait a year for the sealing. One drawback: only other adult temple-worthy Mormons (temple worthy means you are baptized and pass an interview with 2 local leaders), so that leaves out a lot of people- even younger siblings (my sister was my 1 bridesmaid and she couldn't attend our sealing).

My family who came. Four of them (McKay and I and my parents) saw the sealing. Four out of nine is a failing grade.
To be honest, I'm not particularly close with a lot of my extended family (and admittedly, even siblings), so it didn't bother me too much that some people sat outside during the sealing. After all, it was just what you did. Although, now that I think about it... wow. HARSH. I need to go and apologize to the grandparents. During the sealing there was some obvious imbalance. The side of the room that my family sat one was very empty. There is the cultural pressure to be sealed first to "prove" you hadn't sinned. If you had premarital sex, you wouldn't be "temple-worthy" and would probably get civilly married and sealed a year later. Without that cultural pressure, would I have gotten married civilly first? I don't know, maybe. I hope the Family First Weddings site get a lot of traction and the policy changes because it is so obviously policy and not doctrine.

Another thing I never gave much thought to was vows. The sealing is specific and the ceremony has to be said exactly how it is said, but no one talks about what is said. I didn't know my vows ahead a time and it would have been impossible for me to know. Of course, I was practical about vows and it really didn't matter to me. In fact, I didn't get why people cared to write their own vows: no matter what you say, marriage is the same on paper. I could write my vows to say that every night after dinner we'd play laser tag, but once the marriage certificate is signed, I would get the same legal results of any other marriage: visitation rights in hospitals, legal requirement to support subsequent children, tax benefits of filing jointly, etc. So really, who cares about what the vows say? As shallow as it sounds, it wasn't until the "Royal Wedding" and hearing that they wrote their own vows that I finally "got it" and realized: oh! it's supposed to be a way to confess your love to the other person in front of your friends and family. The whole purpose of weddings just went right over my head. I probably should have just gotten married at the courthouse.

Not totally related to Mormon-ness, but sort of... When it came to the other aspects of getting married: wedding colors, bridal party, venue, photographer, etc., I felt like I had to prove that I wasn't a bridezilla. Except for the colors (purple and light blue), everything else was done so that I wasn't a burden on my parents. The photographer was a NASCAR photographer, so no experience with weddings, but he was cheap!
Look! The temple is sideways! That's because you have to pretend we're racing around in circles at ridiculously high speeds. 
I wish I had gotten better pictures, though. I lied to my parents about the cost of my wedding dress and made up the extra out of my own pocket so I could have the one I wanted.
I look like a cupcake and I rock the cupcake look. Poofy!
My sister was the only bridesmaid and she got to pick a dress that was on clearance on the Internet that matched the colors. I didn't get my hair professionally done- I got up at 6 in the morning to do it myself and it was so humid that day that by the end of the pictures it looked like I had dreads (which are fine, but not the look I was going for) and I pulled it back for the reception to hide my amateur curling job. Also, I forgot to wear the very expensive wedding hat my mother-in-law bought for me. Yeah, I was just impressing all the people that day...

Dreads gone! Also, when it was time to cut the cake, I kind of went ahead without McKay because I had never really been to many weddings and didn't know how it was "done." I just wanted to share the wealth of cake! Also, people get upset if you cut the cake by yourself. Tradition!
I was totally fine with a reception in a boring church building- and part of the room was under construction... yes. I let my mom pick out the centerpieces (I actually liked them- no qualms!) but food was finger foods, no dinner. Music was off my brother's iPod. I attempted to turn it into a party, but it just wasn't. I felt most badly for my high school friends who came. They probably expected a WEDDING PARTY and I gave them a half-done cultural hall with appetizers and an iPod. They were the nicest people and gave us gifts from our actual registry, too. And not the cheap gifts! I feel like a loser to have done that to them.

See the wood behind me? Yeah... that's not supposed to show. Yay construction. Yay "cultural hall."
Our second reception was similar- I let McKay's mom pick out everything because I didn't want to be a burden. It was fine for a Mormon affair, but it didn't scream "wedding" and I worried that all these random family members I was meeting for the first time would think that that reception was a reflection of the things I liked. No, it wasn't. Also, unfortunately (through no one's fault), I started my period the day of that reception, so I was crampy and bloated and in all the pictures I look worried. Honestly, during one dance, I asked McKay if he thought no one would notice if I went into the bathroom and just cried for a while. They would have.

My worried look is seen here, but you can see it in pretty much all the pictures from the California reception.
But what can we do? I guess all I can do is do better for my own children, if they decide to get married (right now Margaret doesn't want to get married because she'd rather live with us in our house forever- haha!).

And I think this leads me to another thing I've decided. I want us to have a vow renewal. Probably at our 10 year. This past August was our 7th anniversary, so we've got 3 more years to save and plan. "Save" because I'm thinking that if I want my extended family there, we're probably going to have to pay their way- after all, they already came out for the first one. Or maybe it'll just be a small thing with McKay and me. But I'd like to do things on my own terms without pressure for anything. And I want a party- an actual party where I'm actually happy and not stressed about periods and hair that doesn't do anything because it's too humid in August in Illinois. Basically, this is a long post saying I want to actually celebrate the awesome thing McKay and I have and have the small people we've welcomed in to our family present. And I'm a little vain. And I think Mormon weddings need to change. I'm happy I'm married and that we have a life together, but we probably could  have started it off with a little less NASCAR and a little more fun. I need a party.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

And They're Off!

Guess what! We got into the Lego class and the charter school is paying for it! Yay! She had her first class last week and she loved it. I got to feel the "dropping your kid off with a stranger you've never met before, but have to trust that the state background check is thorough" moment just like all the other back to school families. That's the nervousness that everyone else feels, yes?

We decided against 4-H this year because it looks like she'd be able to go to only one of the projects regularly and that project happens right before Lego class and... I couldn't do the commute that fast. But no worries, there is always next year. 4-H isn't going anywhere.

She's taking violin and Lego engineering. We're not sure about the writing class yet. The school won't pay for it because the person offering it is not a vendor with the charter, but we'll check out the open house for it anyway. That class won't start until October. Even if we don't do the writing class, I want to keep that teacher in mind. She teaches literature classes for homeschooled high schoolers- this year it's a class on American women writers.

There is a local person who used to teach Waldorf kindergarten and she has a class that is all morning once a week where the kids do water color and gardening. We might look into that.

So yeah... our week is filling up! But it's fun. And Margaret has already started some early reading. She sounded out "Stop" while we were on the bus on Labor Day. And she spent this morning copying down the words of a short story. Why? For fun, I guess. It was her idea. When she was about 2/3 of the way done she complained to me about how long it was taking and I told her she could stop whenever she wanted. It took her over an hour, but she finished reading and copying the 6 sentences, all the while being interrupted on occasion by her siblings. That girl has focus.

Now I have to figure out where to spend the rest of the money the charter gives us. To the Internet!

Monday, September 09, 2013

New Bay Bridge!

Labor Day weekend the Bay Bridge was shut down and BART ran service around the clock while the new eastern stretch of the Bay Bridge was being set up. It's now up and running and much prettier than the old Bay Bridge (even though the Bay lights were fun!).

Also, there is a bike/pedestrian path! It only goes out to Yerba Buena Island, but in a couple of years, it'll stretch to San Francisco. Until then, it is the world's longest bike pier. Haha! Here I am on the path (but not at the end yet!). Also, the sun is in my eyes.

The East Bay Bicycle Coalition led a bike tour when it opened last Tuesday, but I was not able to go on opening day. Instead, I went with my friend Sariah on Friday night. She had gone on Tuesday and said it was very crowded. Here are the two bridges next to each other:

The trip out is all uphill, but it's slight. I was by myself on the bike, so it was pretty easy (no children!). The whole trip from the house to the bridge and back was 11.7 miles- and I live pretty close to Emeryville! The path closes at 8pm, so afterwards we had smoothies and rode home in the dark!

 Random candid shot:

Me and the new bridge. We're best friends.

The old Bay Bridge. It will sadly be demolished.

Oakland is that way.

Sariah and I together.

And by the old bridge. With a police officer on the side. Imagine having that job! "Um, I stand on the end of the pedestrian/bike path to make sure no one tresspasses onto Yerba Buena Island. Pretty intense."