Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Start of a New School Year

What a busy summer! Softball, cleaning out our garage, Yard Sale, Maui, Edmonton, and Disneyland...  Just like that, summer vacation is over, and here we, into a new school year! 

Jeremy:  Our big boy is a kindergartner!  We were faced with having to decide whether he should attend our home school, Kratt, or attend kindergarten at my school.  There were several factors to consider.
1)  If Jeremy went to Kratt, kindergarten there is only half-day, so he'd actually be in daycare for more of the day than in school!  In Central Unified, kindergarten is full-day. 
2)  I had taken a leave of absence the year Grace entered school to make sure that I could focus on her transition, and while we decided it wouldn't be an option for Jeremy's kindergarten year, having him come to my school would actually allow me to still be able to "be there" for him.
3)  Harvest is far from our home, so it'd be out of the way should Jason ever need to drive him or pick him up.
4)  Where would he go afterschool?  

Well, in the end, we decided to have him come to my school.  It has been GREAT! I have loved having him at my school.  I get to help him get situated in the cafeteria for breakfast in the morning, I get to see him here and there throughout the day (cute watching him walk down the hallway with his classmates), I get to see who his friends are, I can talk to his teacher whenever I want, and then we leave together. Our afterschool program's director agreed to let Jeremy attend the program even though it's for 1st-6th graders.  She figures that if Jeremy's ever any trouble, she could just send him back to me.  So, I am able to continue prepping and working without having to entertain him afterschool.  All of this sounds too good to be true, right?  And yet, it's true!  We are soooo thankful that everything worked out!

  First Day of School- Kindergarten
 (he said he chose to wear this top because "it's Harvest colors")

 leaving for school together
 Jeremy's teacher, Mrs. Ghelardi

Grace: Every year since kindergarten, I have walked Grace to her classroom on the first day of school.  When I asked her if she wanted me to walk her this year, she thought for a few minutes before saying, "I think I'll try going on the bus this year."  I felt a little emotional hearing that- a sign that my little girl is growing up!!!  Definitely moving into "upper grade" this year!  Good thing her school has a Meet and Greet where kids can come meet their teachers and see their classrooms.  Our whole family went, and I was glad that I got to take some pictures and officially meet her teacher.
At her desk was this handout.  She had to write down one thing she was nervous about, and one thing she was excited about.  Nervous:  that the work would be hard this year; Excited: to learn new things and learn about the state.   
 Grace's teacher, Mrs. Snyder

First Day of School- 4th Grade
Grace saw this top in Target a few weeks ago and knew that this is what she wanted to wear on her first day.  The Target near our house didn't have her size and she was so disappointed.  Luckily, Grandma found it on their Back-to-School shopping spree.  Such a cutie!
Jason:  The start of this school year marked a new beginning for Jason.  He has worked at Wawona Middle School for the past decade, but decided it was time for a change.  There have been changes at Wawona this past year, including his principal's retirement, and it just seemed like a good time to start something new.  Jason went to Fresno Unified's lateral job fair last spring, and Tenaya Middle School offered him a position.  So, Jason is now a Tenaya Brave, teaching 8th grade history.  Tenaya is the same distance to our house as Wawona was, but it's closer to Grace's bus stop at Kratt.  So, he's been picking Grace up from the bus stop every day after school and then the two of them return back to Tenaya for him to prep.  It has been a good change so far- he has connected really well with his department, and parent involvement and student demographics are noticeably different from Wawona.  With this new start, he probably won't get to coach this year, but the break is welcomed!

Jane:  Interestingly, I don't have anything to share about this new school year...  In all honesty, I had  imagined months prior that I too, would be starting something new this year.  I applied to be our district's GATE instructional coach this past spring.  As someone who has embraced differentiation in my classroom and has worked hard to incorporate varied learning opportunities for all learners, it was exciting to think that I could maybe help other teachers do the same for their students.  I was very reluctant to try for such a position, but I received so much affirmation and doors kept opening that I decided to see where it could lead.  It was an interesting process- I had to create a 10 minute presentation based on differentiation, instruction, and GATE principles and my interview panel consisted of six people.  I have been told by several panel members that my interview was outstanding.  However, I ended up not getting the job.  When I got off the phone with our district GATE director, I truly felt no emotion- I was... surprised (not to sound overconfident, but I'm not joking when I say that I received a lot of affirmation and doors easily opened in the whole process).  I wasn't upset, I didn't cry, I didn't feel rejected... I am usually a very emotional person and I cry easily.  It was very strange to me, that I didn't feel any of that.  In the weeks following, several things happened that made me think, "Gosh, I really am not ready to leave the classroom... I love being in here and having my own class, building personal relationships with my students, and I'm not ready to leave Harvest."  All of these events just confirmed for me that I'm exactly where I need to be!  Overall, I had a wonderful year last year- I am looking forward to another rewarding year and it's off to a good start!       

Here's to 2013-2014!!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Highlight of My Summer, LOL

Even though our summer travels took us all over, can you believe that this is the most time we've spent in Fresno in the summer since we've had kids?  Having more time here meant that we finally got around to cleaning out our garage!  It has been at least 5 years since we've been able to park both cars in the garage.  That's pretty embarrassing!  When I took my leave of absence from teaching for Grace's kindergarten year, I pretty much had to store all of my classroom items in our garage.  It has been a mess ever since!

In process...

 We had so much junk, we decided to hold a Yard Sale.  All kids seem to equate Yard Sale with Lemonade Stand- so that was Grace's responsibility.
The end result?  Our junk that has been sitting around our house ended up making us $250.  We didn't even have any big ticket items and were selling things at cheap prices to "clear them out!"

The result...
 Jason moved his work bench, organized his tools, and bought some new cabinets.
He bought some cabinets with doors for more storage.
Ta da!  Now we can park both of our cars in our garage!  This is a definite highlight of my summer!

"The Happiest Place on Earth"

Everyone's childhood memories should include Disneyland, right?  Jason and I decided long ago that since we love to travel and experience new things, our family would probably not be the kind that went to Disneyland every chance we got.  We definitely wanted to take our kids, but if we only went a few times, we wanted to make sure it was for something special.  We decided that it would be to celebrate a milestone- starting kindergarten!  Our family went several years ago for Grace, and with Jeremy entering kindergarten this year, our family has been looking forward to this special trip for quite some time.  Hard to believe that we're celebrating our "little boy" becoming a "big boy" and heading off to school!  

We returned from Edmonton on Saturday, rested up, did laundry, and repacked our bags to hit the road on Sunday.  We got a 3-day hopper pass and decided we'd spend a whole day in Disneyland, a whole day in California Adventure, and then the last day would be spent between the two parks.  We stayed at a suites hotel several miles from the parks and took advantage of their shuttle buses.  

Jason's mom came with us for Grace's trip, so of course we wanted her to come for Jeremy's trip.  Our friends, the Wiens family, got annual Disney passes this year, and so they also joined us. 

Jason's Memories
Jason's favorite ride was the Tower of Terror, and he somehow convinced Grace to go with him.  She did (and says it was her worst).
 He loved California Screaming (and went several times).  
He also says he loved hanging out with our friends, and that I went on some rides, particularly me on the Radiator Springs Racers.

Grace's Memories
"I will never forget going on the Tower of Terror.  It was so creepy and kinda scary.  I remember meeting lots of characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Mary Poppins.
I loved Star Tours, California Screaming rollercoaster, the Toy Story one, the Matterhorn, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Jedi Training."

Jeremy's Memories
"I remember the Cars Land rides.  I went on the water one (Grizzly Run).  I liked Buzz Lightyear and the Toy Story ride and Star Tours and Space Mountain and Water Mountain (Splash Mountain) and the one that goes around and around (Astro Orbitor).  I liked meeting Mickey and some other ones."

Jeremy was heartbroken he didn't get chosen to train as a Jedi (Grace did), and he cried for most of the show.  We felt so bad for him (he loves Star Wars), so we decided to get him a custom lightsaber so he could keep training at home. 

Jane's Memories
I am not a risk-taker... I get nauseous very easily... I do not like roller coasters...  I do not like that "tickle-in-your-tummy" feeling...  (I blame my parents!  I often think that if my parents had encouraged me to take more risks when I was younger, I wouldn't be such a scaredy-cat!  I can blame my parents because my sister and brother feel the exact same way as I do when it comes to roller coasters and stuff like this! It must connect back to my parents!)  Knowing this about myself, I am perfectly content to go along anyway and be a spectator.  I expect to sit around and wait while others go on rides and do "crazy" things, hahaha.  However, this trip was huge for me, in that I worked up a tiny bit of courage to go on a few rides.  It mostly came from thinking, "If Jeremy isn't scared, maybe I should try it..."  It's amazing, right, that my 5 year old son could make me totally re-evaluate fears I've had pretty much my whole life.  Anyway, I am proud of myself for going on:
 Splash Mountain (Mom and I got completely soaked!)
 Radiator Springs Racers (omg, what a ride)

I loved the shooting rides we went on- Astroblasters and Toy Story Midway Mania.
And while I waited for the others, I treated myself to snacks like:
I also spent time watching Gabe so that Aaron and Christa could go on rides (I wasn't going to ride anyway, so I was happy to hang out with him so they could go)
Such a cutie! 

Here are a few more random pics from our trip:

We overpaid to have breakfast with Micky and Friends (such a rip off, but since we did Ariel's Grotto with Grace, Jeremy got to choose Surf's Up)
We stayed late one evening for fireworks, and then next night, we stayed for the World of Colors show.  We enjoyed both, and the kids did great despite waking up early and staying up late for all of our 3 days.

Things We Could've Done Without
-Our musty and damp hotel room
-the awful traffic driving down to Disneyland (due to construction)
-Mike & Sully to the Rescue Ride (considering that we spent 45 mins. in line, this ride was a let down for all of us)
-can you believe that we can't think of anything else?!

Things We Want to Remember in Case We Go Again
-we brought our own food for lunch and snacks and then bought dinner in both parks
-no more character meals!!!
-Turtle Talk with Crush and the Animation building was a nice break from the heat
-California Adventure closes earlier than Disneyland
-the 2nd showing of the World of Colors is later, but would give us better views
-get Fast Passes for Radiator Springs Racers as soon as we get into the park!!!!
-buying Disney t-shirts beforehand at home saved us money as opposed to buying them for more at the parks

Our whole family had an AWESOME time and we are so glad we got to share such wonderful memories with Grandma and the Wiens family!