Archive for » June, 2012 «

It started two Sundays ago.

My heart sank when hubby pulled into the Lowe’s parking lot after lunch. Going to Lowe’s with him is as much fun as pouring salt water over a paper cut on my finger.

Resigned to my unhappy fate, I decided to issue him a warning like this: “Fine! I will go into Lowe’s with you today. Because today is Father’s Day. But remember, EVERY DAY is Mother’s Day. So don’t piss me off!”

I lagged behind them into the gigantic Lowe’s store. To my dismay, the three of them headed straight for the paint aisle. So much for that warning…

The kids have been begging to paint one of their bedrooms their favorite color of orange. And their dad is going along with it. I am the only one in the family sane enough to find the idea of painting a room in colossal orange disagreeable. Clearly, he was trying to evoke Father’s Day privilege to override my unwavering objection to their orange room plan.

Luckily, I am smarter than the three of them combined, and knew that childish brains are easy to distract. I rushed to them with a big grin.

“Hey, if you guys are interested in painting, I know a great project for you guys!” me

“What’s that?” the three of them turned to me.

“Remember that very nice table and chair set from Pottery Barns your aunt bought for you guys?” me.

“Yeah.” the three of them.

“Well, they look really beat up under all that sun and rain for the past few years. You never even use it anymore. But, if you guys cleaning it up, fix it up a bit, and add a new coat of paint, we can definitely squeeze a few more years of good use out of them again.” me.

Old outdoor table set

“Hmm….” the three of them.

“And you can paint them in any color you like! Orange, for example. I will be fine with any color you choose.” me.

“Yeah!!!” the kids cheered.

“That sounds fun.” hubby approved.

“Great! Go make your color selection. I will go visit the appliance section, and I will come back to meet you guys.” me.

The kitchen appliance section at Lowe’s is my favorite. I love the shining appliances standing neatly in a row all staring back at me. After about 20 minutes of drooling there, I headed back to the paint aisle.

“Mom, we picked out 5 colors.” my baby ran over and announced happily. “We are going to paint each of them in a different color.”

Five chosen color samples

“FIVE colors?” me. Something was not so perfect with this plan. And it was not because my idea back-fired on me, rather it was my husband who mismanaged my fine idea.

“Yes, we are going to paint the table orange, then each of the chairs in a different color.” my 11-year-old explained helpfully.

“What, are you kidding me?” I looked at my husband. “So we are going to pick up 5 gallons of paint just to paint a kid’s table and chair set? That is the most inefficient and uneconomical way to paint!”

“We also need to pick up primer and base paint, and probably exterior protection varnish.” hubby added.

Luckily, a Lowe’s paint specialist came to our rescue. He was the nicest guy. He offered to dispense my kids’ 5 chosen colors into sample jars for us. Each sample jar cost just $2.50, so he saved us a small fortune that day. And we didn’t have to store 5 big jars of bright paint colors in our garage for the next 20 years. Bless his heart!

So that afternoon, the kids and hubby got to work. I left them alone.

This project ended up taking them two weekends. They cleaned and sanded the surface.

Sanding the table surface

They did the base paint in white, then had such fun turning their old tables and chairs into new with fun colors.

Their coloring project in progress!

This turned out to be a great Father’s Day project. And now, we have this “brand new” Potter Barn table set in our backyard.

New outdoor table set.

Previous related post: Mother’s Day Terror
For Sure…I Guarantee It!

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This baby is graduating grade school!

Can you believe it!? This cute little thing just graduated from grade school, and is ready to tackle the next big world, known as middle school, in the coming fall.

All grown up!!

My good nature usually forbids me from bragging, but the key word today is “usually”, so, brace yourselves for earnest bragging here.

My heart overflowed with pride when my 11-year-old stepped up to the podium to deliver her graduation speech to a great hall jam packed with students, teachers, parents, families, and friends. She was one of the four students chosen to deliver speeches for their prospective classrooms.

Graduation speech

She is a great speaker. Her speech was awesome!

After the student speeches, she was one of the a dozen or so students brought back up to the stage again to receive the all-year gold honor roll award.

I sat in the audience, beaming with pride the whole time, and very satisfied with my accomplished youngster. But there was MORE…

Every year, our school presents one special award to a graduating 6th grader who is the best overall student. This award is given to a student not only for academic achievement, but also who is well-rounded, in terms of social, emotional, extracurricular participation, and behavior excellence. And the winner of this award is chosen by our 6th grade teachers.

We were thrilled to hear Athena’s name being announced by our principal as the recipient of this award for the class of 2012.

Graduation awards

In case you are wondering…no, I am NOT a tiger mom. There is one strong clue in my child’s graduation speech that proves my non-tiger mom status.

Below is Athena’s 6th grade graduation speech:

Over the Years

When I started elementary school, I didn’t know what to expect. It just seemed so different from the small Montessori school I attended for preschool and pre-k. I was used to just playing educational games all day, eating snacks, lunch, having naptime, and more snacks, so I was filled with questions like: Will kindergarten be the same? Will the teachers and the other students be nice? Will we still have snacks? I hoped kindergarten would be fun for me. So I stepped into the little gate around the kindergarten building and began my time here at JFS.

Every year I liked being here more and more. In kindergarten, we did little kindergarten things like teddy-bear picnics. That doesn’t happen in other grades. First grade was also a good time, and was different still from the previous year because it was full-day instead of half-day. We even ate school lunch. In second grade, I made two good friends that are still my friends now. We were also in the same class in third grade, which was, for me, very unlike second grade. I was in a combo class, and since half of my teacher’s time was devoted to the 2nd graders, many 3rd graders learned to become more independent learners. Fourth was an exciting, somewhat stressful year when we started getting letter grades. Now, instead of being the biggest of the little kids, we were the littlest of the big kids. In the fifth grade, my class took part in a project called NaNoWriMo, which was a fun month-long novel-writing experience. Many students, including me, even published our books. Now, in sixth grade, my class is doing many fun projects. Previously, on Young Author’s Fair, students wrote random stories, but this year, we wrote a journal of someone that lived in an ancient civilization, then made a poster, artifact, and diorama to go with it. Every year brought new pleasures and surprises, ones that made my time at JFS all the more enjoyable.

Probably everyone here has people to thank, people that have helped them through their time at JFS. There are many people who deserve the sincerest gratitude. There’s teachers, parents, friends, even siblings that may have helped us through our six or seven years here. My parents have always been supportive of me and happy to help me whenever I needed. They don’t do my work for me, but they always will help if I have questions about my homework or troubles with my projects. Even my little sister helps me with my schoolwork, in her own little-sister way. Whenever I’m doing a project that looks fun, she always buzzes around my shoulder, constantly asking, “Can I help? Oh, you want the clay? I’ll get the clay! Then after that, can I help you?” Friends also can be helpful, encouraging, excited at your successes and disappointed about your failures. They comfort you when you do badly and try to help you do better. And of course, all the wonderful teachers here at JFS. They are always open to any questions, listen to new ideas, are fair with assignments and tests, and go through lessons thoroughly and clearly. Every year, they have tried in any way to help shape all of the students into good kids, and they have succeeded.

So this ends our time at James F. Smith. We’ve learned everything we need for now and thanked those who have helped us. We’ve said goodbye to everyone here, some we may not see again, we’ve finished our last assignment, we’ve eaten our last cafeteria lunch, we’ve received our last report card. Every year, students are excited for the beginning of summer, the marking of when you finish your previous grade and get ready to start your next year. This summer, there will be that same excitement, but mixed in with a dose of sadness of leaving the school we’ve been at for so long and apprehensiveness at starting something entirely new. But this time, there will be a proud knowledge, too. The knowledge that we will start middle school knowing that we have been prepared to tackle any challenge posed to us.

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The Goddess of Wisdom
Wacky Family
A Tribute to Young Writers

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I had very little sleep last Saturday night, and it was due to my own doing, sort of…

For the past few months I suffered from mixed feelings about my 11-year-old leaving our much-loved elementary school and moving on to middle school. Then I decided that the best way to chase away such mixed feelings is to embrace the occasion, and the best way to embrace the occasion is to throw an extra-special party.

I plotted to invite my 6th grader’s best friends to a sleepover graduation party. And the extra special part of this party is that it’s hosted at a hotel. It will just feel so grown-up!

My 11-year-old must not understand the exclusivity of “best” friends. She handed me a list of 6 best friends.

You have six best friends?! What hotel will want to accommodate 1 adult and 7 kids!?

Unfazed, I went Google-ing. I am a great online researcher. I found a rare 2 bedroom suite at the Hyatt House, about a 20 minute drive from my house.

Hyatt House Hotel

This suite was perfect! 2 bedroom rooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room, and full kitchen. I booked it.

Bedroom with two queen beds

Invitations went out, and indeed best friends, everybody came.

On Saturday, my 11-year-old and I checked in promptly at 3PM. We brought in loads of treats and drinks for the party. I also brought a few games and Arts-and-Crafts kits from my’s warehouse.

We had two hours to get the room ready before our guests arrived. I immediately unloaded all the drinks, fruits, and ice cream into the refrigerator and put away all the chips and sugary snacks in the kitchen area.

We decorated the living room area with a big gradation banner and balloons.

Graduation Banner and balloon

Then at around 5PM, the excited friends arrived with their overnight bags, and the party began.

At 6:30PM, I walked the 7 chatty girls across the parking lot to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner. Sweet Tomatoes offers a huge buffet-styled salad bar, soup bar, baked goods, and dessert bar. It was the perfect kind of restaurant for this group of kids. They can choose what to put on their own plates. And Sweet Tomatoes gave you that healthy feel, which was much in need for me to feel guiltless about those sugary snacks I have back in the room.

I have known most of these kids for many years now, and they are all indeed good friends, so they all got along, and played well together.

My only instructions to them were “no screaming” and “no yelling”. I am happy to report that I did not have to repeat my instructions to them even once. They are all great kids. But this did not mean that they are peace-loving and quiet kids. In fact, the evening was full of cheerful chattering and happy laughter.

I mostly left them alone, and stayed out of their way. I situated myself in one of the bedrooms and caught up on a great deal of reading.

Reading by myself in one of the bedrooms

I only barged in on them on a few occasions to prepare their snack trays, snap a few pictures, and offer them ice cream from the freezer.

Party trays for the kids

They spent the evening playing games, doing arts and crafts, playing with the ukelele guitars they brought, singing along with their iTunes music, and dancing.

I disappointed them at midnight, when I told them to get into their pj’s and get ready for bed. I felt bad, so I told them that they could still talk on their beds until they fall asleep.

Big mistake! They chatted and giggled until well after 2AM. I was sleeping on the sofa bed in the living room, and their noises kept me awake until they all fell into slumber.

The sleep did not last long. I was awoke by talking and giggling noises before sun-break. It was just after 6AM. I could hear the girls from one of the bedrooms playing a board game on their bed.

They outsmarted me. They conspired to set one of their phones to wake them up at 6AM in order to play. I had not thought to tell them that they could not do that.

Shortly after 8AM, we took the elevator to the main floor for the complimentary breakfast buffet. This hotel served a great hot breakfast. I consider any hotel breakfast is great if their offerings are heavy on protein. The kids love bacon and sausages, and loaded their plates with them, plus pancakes, bread with butter and jam, yogurt, milk and juice. They even have made-to-order omelets. And strong coffee for me. The kids made multiple trips back to the buffet line. They all sat together in one big table, and ate happily for about an hour while I sat eating in a corner by myself by the bar and watched TV.

We went back to our suite, and they played some more. They made beautiful bracelets and sea-shelled necklaces for one another before their parents came to pick them up.

A beautiful bracelet made from one of the Arts & Craft kits

By noon, we checked out of the hotel and drove back home. I felt happy..that I didn’t have to spend hours cleaning up after a party and deal with three loads of laundry.

Best of all, I felt ready for that official 6th grade graduation coming up this week.

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The Big 8

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