Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kindergarten Countdown

The Squid starts kindergarten this August and I'm thinking of starting a pool around who's more excited - me or the Squid. Classes start on Aug 27 - or maybe it's the Aug. 28 - but first we have to get through Kindergarten Round-up on March 22.

I don't know the time, but the date is already plugged into my phone. I have to go to the dentist and give a talk that day, but it'll all be worked around the roundup at Northrich Elementary.

Since friends have been debating lately whether to send their kid to kindergarten or hold him back, I'm almost afraid to admit that the thought never crossed my mind. I've never even considered the possibility that the Squid wouldn't start school this fall. She'll turn 5 in June, so she'll be on the younger side, but she won't be the youngest.

Here's why I haven't considered it:

She's incredibly social - I fully expect to get letters from from school about the Squid passing notes, talking in class, etc. She'll probably surprise me, but she's a total social butterfly compared to me at that age. Definitely a first-child in terms of stubbornness, and she can be a bit overbearing, but she's incredibly dedicated to whatever she's working on and she can focus (if she wants to).

As for the basic skills, she's still perfecting writing the alphabet, but she knows all her letters, is comfortable counting, and is starting to recognize words that are written down. She also works well with others, and genuinely thinks about things before she answers a question - a skill her mother could use some work on from time to time. She still blurts random comments out from time to time, but that's her parents fault. (If nothing else, blame the parents, right??).

She also knows her address and her parents' real names (not just mommy and daddy). We probably need to teach her our phone number - she's not getting a cell phone for kindergarten.

Is there anything else she needs to do to prep for kindergarten??

Zoo Funnies

We're not particularly great about actually applying stickers to the sticker chart we keep posted on the fridge for the Squid. It gets lost amongst all the coupons, pictures, recipes, and other junk we keep there. So it's a big deal when she fills in all the spaces and almost always involves a trip to the zoo. 

We have two zoos in the area - the Dallas Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo - but we almost always go to the Dallas one because we can take the train (a train ride for the girls!) and it's closer. It's generally cheaper, too, but maybe that's because we only go to the Zoo when it's discounted admission (re: the recent Penguin Days - $5 a pop for everyone 3 and older. Can't beat that!!)

Anyway, the Dallas Zoo has improved SO much these past few years. The girls LOVE the African Safari  area, and we're all looking forward to the new Koala exhibit opening. That should be really cool. The Squid and the Monkey both have their own Safari Passports now, so they get a new stamp every time we check in to Base Camp. The Squid loves hers, but the Monkey just wants to color and rip the pages out of hers.... just like a 2-year-old. We'd be golden if I could remember to bring either one to the Zoo. A volunteer took pity on me last time and gave the girls new passports with extra stamps because I said I'd left mine at home. Some of the volunteers are real sticklers about the "only one stamp per visit" rule, but if you go when there are a lot of people at the desk, you can generally get another stamp. It helps to ask nicely! 

Going to the Zoo with a two-year-old and a 4.5 year old is definitely an experience that I'm not sure I would recommend to those with a faint heart. We took the double stroller mainly for the Monkey, but she absolutely refused to be strapped into or even sit on the edge of the stroller. She used it as a ladder to see the animals, but not for traveling. She wanted to walk - actually "strut" with her hips swishing from side to side. That girl has attitude and style, and yes, both the husband and I realize that we are so in for it when they become teens. 

The Squid, on the other hand, walked for a bit, but then rode in the stroller between EVERY single exhibit - even if it was all of 100 feet away. I think she was afraid we'd leave her with the monkeys or something. The thought did cross my mind once or twice.... just kidding. 

The weather that day was fabulous, so all the animals were out. We saw the elephants, giraffes, penguins, lions, gorillas (woo hoo! We saw 2 of them playing), chimps, etc. We also saw the sole rhino and a tiger (just barely - he was pacing the edge of his area; seemed to be having a moment). We skipped the bugs, snakes, and reptiles this time. Watching your child have a total meltdown in the middle of a room filled with giant snakes on the other side of a single glass pane is not something I want to experience ever, ever, ever again. 

I've about decided that the secret to a successful trip to the zoo  - or any other place with kids - is to take food. Lots and lots and lots of food - and don't forget the gummy bears for dessert!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lenten Confessions

Lent has never been a big part of my life. I've watched as friends gave up sodas, candy, and/or ice cream for the six-week season with some sense of awe but mostly a "you're giving up what? and why?" attitude. Being a Unitarian-Universalist meant I was exposed to many other religions including Catholicism, but I've never participated in many of the more ritualistic aspects of Judeo-Christian religions such as confession, Lent, etc.

Unfortunately, that knowledge hasn't kept me from unintentionally and usually naively sticking my foot in my mouth from time to time. 

Case in point: In high school, I once walked up to a classmate on Ash Wednesday and told them "in confidence" and away from traffic that she had a big smudge of charcoal on her forehead. I still remember the dumbfounded look she gave me. I couldn't tell you her name or even what she said, but her facial expression has stuck with me. It was the "OMG, did you really just say that!"

In my defense, I spent at least 2 hours of every day in the main art studio at my high school - so I always had charcoal, paint, chalk, etc. under my fingernails, on my hands and arms, and sometimes on my face. I was one of the "art students," so I really didn't care. I actually always appreciated it when someone told me that I had missed a smudge of charcoal under my eye or on the side of my forehead. This person did not.

I have since opted to check the calendar before offering up my two cents and a tissue to others with charcoal on their foreheads!