Saturday, April 25, 2015

Conversations Overhead: Moving

Maggie: *sigh* I want to move.

Kaleia: Why? I like this house.

Maggie: Oh, Kaleia.  Moving is so fun! Everything gets put in boxes. Then, you get to help carry things down to a big truck for Mama and Papa. And when you get to the new house, you get to organize!

Kaleia: (unimpressed) Oh. I still don't want to move.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

2015 Tuition on the Track

Excitement Everywhere.
Sweat rolling down my face.
Running, happily around the track.
Talking, running, and walking with my senior buddy.
Thirst and stamps after every lap.
Hot sun shining brightly out.
Hot track, hot day, and hot people.
Loud speaker, noises everywhere, people talking and blasting music.
One lap, then two hugs for Mama and Papa.
14 colorful dots at the end.


Rough Draft:
Focused on action words and capturing all of the senses

Maggie's phone solicitation script:
Most of the time Maggie just left a message. If you were lucky enough to get her on the phone, the above was read with little punctuation or pausing to have a conversation with the potential donor. Usually the phone was handed off to Kaleia with much urging "Now, you ask for money." To which Kaleia's "script" was "Can I have some money too?"

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Pancake Problem

Shannon: "Wow, Kaleia! Another pancake? How many is that for you?"

Kaleia: "Three!"

Magnolia: "I've had three, too!"

Shannon: "I only had two! There is one left on the plate. I wonder how many I made this morning..."

Kaleia: "One, two..." Magnolia: "Let me figure it out!"

Shannon: "Let's all figure it out in our head and share the number we come up with."

Kaleia: "Nine!"

Magnolia: "That's what I got too! I knew my three and Kaleia's three made six, then Mama's two would be eight and one more makes nine!"

Shannon: "Kaleia, what was your strategy?"

Kaleia: "I just counted in my head."

Magnolia (giddy with excitement): "You gave us a story problem!"

Shannon: "Yeah, I guess I did."

Magnolia: "Now I have a pancake story problem for you, but its not addition. It's subtraction!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Story problems can be fun!

As a high school math teacher, I was excited to find an ally in my mathematics culture change mission in Maggie's 1st grade teacher. She is supporting Magnolia and her classmates to see the value of both the accuracy of their answers and the ability to communicate their process. At the fall parent information night, her teacher asked parents to think about the ways we approach reading at home; Cozy bedtime stories, cuddled up together, reading both the familiar and the new and exciting. Yet, most of us have less than "cozy" images of mathematics. It is viewed as drudgery or punishment, and only accessible for some people. Let's change that. Kids are natural mathematicians, wondering about patterns, estimating amounts, making comparisons. We only need to wonder with them. The more we do it, the easier it becomes.

If you need some support, there is a cool foundation called Bedtime Math. They have a few books and offer a nightly email to help give parents ideas.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

There's a Fairy in Our House!

Recently, Brian posted the following story to Facebook:
During dinner tonight, Kaleia (5.5), about to tell us something, looks at her palm, gasps, and then exclaims with conviction, "There's a real fairy in our house!" Then she giggles with glee.

Turns out her friend Ellery had drawn a fairy on her hand at school and told her that if she put water on it it would become real. Fast forward to dinner time: Kaleia, forgetting about the fairy hand drawing, washes her hands absent-mindedly... washing the drawing right off. She is REALLY hoping the fairy hasn't escaped the house.

Since she's 5--the age I started making lifelong memories--I'm always trying to guess which things she will reminisce about in twenty, thirty years. I'm guessing this might be one of them. I wish I had a video.

Tonight, Kaleia isn't taking any chances. Every door and window is checked before she washes her hands so that the fairy can't escape. 

Excited that the magic is working, Kaleia looks up in the mirror. Unfortunately, this is the exact moment the fairy disappears from her hands. Convinced because this permanent pen is washing off, it must be true, it must be magic, the fairy MUST be real! 

Skipping excitedly to me in the living room, Kaleia proclaims, "It worked!" Then asks, head slightly cocked to one side, "Have you seen her?"

Not wanting to disappoint her, "No...but I wasn't really looking. Fairies are really small, so maybe I missed her." 

"This one isn't small! It is the same size as the drawing on my hand. Ellery said. Maybe it's..." and she is off to hunt for the fairy that is surely hiding in our house. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Of all the strange arrangements of objects my children have surprised me with, this is by far the sketchiest. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

7 Weeks to 7 Years

I open up my toasty warm down, knee-length, winter jacket and draw my shivering eldest daughter inside. We are standing outside our church as part of our midnight Pascha (Easter) service.

As I do, Pascha 2008 comes flooding back, when my just-over-7-week old Magnolia slept, tucked inside my coat, while I sang the resurrection liturgy. Now, inside my coat again, my just-over-7-year old is awake and joining me in song.

The years have passed so quickly.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sisters...code on the couch together.

Magnolia is teaching Kaleia how to program using Scratch, Jr. on the iPad.  Kids these days.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Art Show and Auction

Every year, Catlin Gabel has an auction fundraiser. Each class creates an art project to contribute as an auction item. There is a corresponding art show in one of our galleries to display the pieces to be auctioned along with other art created this year. 

Click to see more about Magnolia and Kaleia's pieces

Monday, April 6, 2015

Faith of Children

One of Kaleia's teachers stopped me this week as I walked across campus, with a story to tell. Kaleia's group was the last to rotate through her unit on myths. To mix things up, the teacher pulled out a book that she hadn't yet used this year.

It began, "Once, two gods were talking..." Immediately she remembered why she doesn't use this book with kindergarteners. The group erupted.

"There are gods?!" "There are two gods?!"

Kaleia confidently speaks up, excited to help her friends out, "You don't know about Him?! God has been around for a long time, before even Jesus. He made everything and still makes things and takes care of us!"

There was push back. "That's not true. My mom says we came from fish!" Kaleia patiently handles the arguing, holding to her belief, trying to help her friends understand.

Magnolia is also unashamedly sharing her growing faith. During a recent morning meeting, a Catholic classmate shared that he was celebrating Easter. Maggie chimed in that she also celebrates Easter, but on a different date--a week later this year. The class added it to the class calendar. After school, Magnolia's teacher thanked her for speaking up and sharing her faith tradition.  Her teacher also told Maggie that as a child her family had Orthodox friends and she always loved celebrating Easter twice.

Since then, her teacher emailed to share, "Magnolia has been really excited to share with us all about her traditions and activities this week, so we are thrilled to be hearing all about it. She shared with us her week in review this morning in morning meeting and the kids were really interested in hearing more each day as the week progresses!" This lenten season in particular, Magnolia is hungry to learn more about our faith. She is devoted to keeping the 40-day fast, which is nearly vegan, reading along with each new service, paying attention, and asking great questions. Her friends are getting a play-by-play and as she learns about their faiths she is comparing and contrasting. She has been particularly interested in her Jewish friends' traditions, which dovetails nicely, since Passover is so closely connected to Pascha/Easter.

As Pascha draws near and I reflect on Christ's journey to the cross, I am inspired and convicted by the innocent desire of my children to tell their world what they know, what they've found, what they believe.

To those of you that have already celebrated the Resurrection, I say "Christ is Risen!" To my Orthodox friends, I wish you a blessed Holy Week and Pascha.

For those wanting to learn more about Holy Week in the Orthodox Church, here are a couple of good resources: Holy Week: An Explanation and Pascha is the new Passover. Or, even though you've already celebrated Easter once, why not celebrate it twice? Find an English-speaking Orthodox church in your area and experience for yourself the beauty and power of the Orthodox liturgies this week. If you have any questions before or after, feel free to ask!

Curious why Pascha and Western Easter are different dates this year? Here are a few good links: Date of PaschaThe Calendar of the Orthodox Church, and Lenten and Paschal Cycle 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

U is for ...

Most Wednesday mornings at our house you can hear, "Shoot! What are you going to bring for _____ week?" You would think that with this being our second consecutive year of kindergarten, we would have that one down. 

This week, with the theme being the letter "U," I groan, scanning the room for anything beginning with U and begin to brainstorm aloud. "I think there is an umbrella downstairs... Urchin... No, I don't think we have a sea urchin. Underwear?"

Kaleia's face lights up. Yes. That is it, she is going to make her teacher hold up underwear in front of the class. Oh dear. 

Magnolia's "U Week" item last year was no less controversial. The then medical-obsessed kindergarten Magnolia wanted to bring urine in one of her special cups.    

Don't worry, I talked her into just coloring water with yellow dye.