Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Friday Assembly

Resident lambs, Sunny and Frisco, and chickens
Jack's school has an Assembly every Friday. Two things happen just before Assembly starts: 1 - there's coffee and morning snacks for the parents to encourage mingling and 2 - the younger kids are picked up by their "buddies" and escorted to the Assembly .
At the start of the school year, each preschooler is paired up with a buddy from
the 7th or 8th grade. Every Friday morning the buddies drop by the preschoolers' classrooms and the pairs walk to the schoolyard and sit together for Assembly. Afterwards, they get to play together for a bit. It's very sweet and Jack is really excited about his buddy, Paolo.
Jack and Paolo
The Assemblies start with everyone singing a Welcome Song and then kids are asked to step forward if they have a birthday in the coming week and they receive a Happy Birthday serenade from everyone. Each week is hosted by a class that does a little something for the crowd - starting with the oldest class at the first Assembly (8th grade) and working their way down one class at a time to the preschoolers.
This week's Assembly showcased the Farm & Garden program (the classes learn about sustainability, organic farming, and ecology in the small farm plot onsite at the school) and the resident farm animals (two sheep and a few chickens). So that the animals didn't get spooked, everyone silently, though enthusiastically, cheered in sign language (by raising our hands and flapping them back and forth) which was pretty fun to watch. A student escorted each animal out to the crowd while an MC recited a fun fact (the chicken, Nutmeg, lays blue eggs!) I was impressed that these city kids picked up the chickens and lovingly held them as they paraded around. I know I could never (or maybe want to?) catch a chicken and hold him in my arms.
Silent cheering
Lining up the kids and animals
The lambs are especially cute. They are "bummer" Babydoll Southdown lambs which means they were orphaned at birth and have been bottle fed so they are very attached to people. The breed is known to be easy to handle and are not aggressive. Because of their small size (they are only 24 inches tall when mature), miniature Southdowns are said to make outstanding weeders for use in orchards and vineyards. Their small hooves help break the soil surface without compacting it. And not only do they provide an organic alternative to pesticides, their manure helps improve soil fertility as well at the farm.
These Friday Assemblies have become a fun ritual for both Jack and me. Just as Jack looks forward to Assembly with his buddy, I'm looking forward to what the kids have in store for us next Friday.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Holy Bat-awesome

Jack's current obession is with superheros. So it was only fitting that we went to see a stage production today called "Batman Live".
We donned our superhero costumes for the event -- he in his Batman t-shirt, mask and cape; me in my Robin t-shirt and cape. (We are getting our money's worth from our Halloween costumes this year.)
Batman Live was pretty slick. Because it was held in a sports arena, the stage was huge, the ceiling was high up in the sky, and the light show was seizure inducing. The back wall was anchored by a 105-foot LED video screen shaped in the Batman logo. This was easily the most captivating part of the show -- the screen set the stage for each act with colorful graphics and imparted movement and mood, very cool. The production made full use of the stage with it's 42 person cast and of the vertical space where trapeze artists and Batman himself often swooped down to save Gotham City.
The show told the story of how Batman and Robin became the Dynamic Duo and starred all the familiar friends and foes -- CatWoman, the Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and Two-Face. The performance was non-stop with circus performances (after all, Robin was originally part of a circus act with this parents before being orphaned and taken under Batman's "wing"), a sprinking of magic, choreographed fight scenes, and even some pyrotechnics, fire, and cannons.
Holy Bat-awesome.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Meeting cousin Ethen

Zack, Jack, and Ethen
One of Jack's "little" cousins is in now in her mid-twenties and recently had a baby. Anne and her husband, Nate, live in Arizona and came back to Sacramento for a wedding with their new baby in tow last weekend.

Ethen was born on July 29th and entered the world in a big way at 9 pounds, 21 inches.

Jack and I drove up to Sacramento to meet cousin Ethen for the first time. It's incredible how you can forget how little and sleepy they are as newborns! Jack was mostly indifferent to Ethen as he slept, but did get a chance to hold his cousin with his favorite honorary cousin, Zach (boyfriend of Anne's sister, Amber).

In a family of three girls, it is exciting to have another little boy come along and I can imagine that it will be fun to see them grow up together.

Discovering the Zoo again

Jack, Auntie Linda, Mom
I'd forgotten how much fun the zoo was. I used to think how sad the conditions were for the animals and that Jack was too young to have that much fun. Then we went again recently and had a great time.

The animals seemed less on display when I read how they were rescued and cared for by the staff. Some had wings that didn't allow them to fly or other conditions that wouldn't make it safe for them in the wild.

Jack is now old enough to watch the animal demonstrations or to play with some of the interactive exhibits. There's a carousel, a train, and a petting zoo where you can brush the goats.

And if there's still energy left, the San Francisco Zoo is located right next to the beach and down the street from a restaurant that has an expansive lawn and outdoor seating.

All in all, a great day with a guaranteed long naptime afterwards.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What to Expect When You're Expecting

Jack's life is a little more complicated these days. Sometimes it's a school day and sometimes it's not. Mom picks me up from school on some days and Dad does on other days. I sleep at Mom's, I sleep at Dad's. Mom and Dad go to work on days that I don't have school so I get to play with a babysitter. Then, Jack asks every day if it's a school day. I know where he's going with that -- if it's not a school day then it's the weekend or a holiday and I can watch cartoons with Mom in bed.

It was clear that we needed some sort of system to set expectations about the coming day. And the more visual the better so he could easily identify what to expect. So I bought a bunch of stickers and posted the school calendar on the wall at Jack's eye level.

At the start of the week we lay out what to expect for that week. School days are designated with a crayon sticker. If Mom picks me up from school or I sleep at home then we put a flower sticker on that day, or a baseball sticker if I'm with Dad or overnight at his house. If our usual "manny" (male nanny) will be picking me up/babysitting me then he gets a car sticker. Friends' birthday parties are designated with a cupcake sticker. We even have stickers with a dozen different feelings that Jack can add to the calendar to express how he is feeling.

And at the end of each day, Jack crosses off the day and we talk about what to expect tomorrow.

Dynamic Duo

I asked Jack what he wanted to be for Halloween this year.
He definatively said Batman.
So be it.
In the meantime, Mom ordered herself a Robin t-shirt with attached cape and mask. 
Bring it on, Halloween.


It does not rain in San Francisco for 6 months out of the year. Fog yes, rain no. But last week after work, I was driving home and there were a few brief raindrops on my windshield. That's odd I thought.

Then the sky turned bright pink. And I could see people literally stopped in their tracks, some standing in the middle of the streets, people were taking out their cellphones and taking pictures of the sky as if aliens were coming to make contact.

And then I saw the most spectacular rainbow that lit up the sky and turned my already pink deco building a brighter shade of pink. It literally made me excited and happy, joyful feelings that I haven't had in a long time.
I couldn't capture its awesomeness with my iPhone, but I tried.

First Day of Preschool for Jackson

It was exciting when Jack was accepted to preschool earlier this year. When summer started, we decided to get him used to his new school, the teachers, kids, location, walk, etc. and enrolled him in the summer camps that were also held at the school. What a smart idea - get him used to the new routine and he'll be prepped for when classes officially starts in September.

Well, it never quite panned out that way. The summer camps were held in several two week sessions. So every two weeks there was turnover with the kids and Jack wasn't able to make friends. The preschoolers and older kids were often in the same session, but the older kids were allowed to play in areas of the schoolyard that the younger kids couldn't. The kids varied wildly from session to session as families came and went on vacation so there was no continuity between sessions as to which kids were attending. Jack would complain that there were "too many friends" at school and didn't want to go. The friendships and structure just weren't there. I couldn't wait until Labor Day when Jack would start a more structured day when school officially started, with the consistency of a daily routine and the same kids and teachers.

Jack started preschool the day after Labor Day - and what a difference. In just a day or two, he was right into the routine. Each morning upon arrival in the Teddy Bear classroom, Jack puts his lunchbox here, his jacket in his cubby over there, washes his hands, and "gets to work" (that is, he gets to choose what activity he wants to do - the science table with magnets, the water table, art, building, etc.) At 8:30am, the bell rings, Moms and Dads say their goodbyes, and all the kids gather for their "morning meeting". They sit "criss cross applesauce" in a circle, sing a welcome song, review what day it is (in English and Spanish no less), and what's on the agenda for the day.

Interestingly, it turns out there are 2 Jack's in his class. And they are both Jack B's. So, Jack goes by his full name in class: Jackson. Fun fact: both Jacks were born 3 days apart.

Anyway, we are off to a great start! Here are pictures of the first day of class.

My lunchbox goes here

I wash my hands
And get to work

A Vision of Loveliness

Truth be told, I have always wanted to get Stella a tutu. Two reasons: 1) she is always mistaken for a male dog and 2) in typical bulldog fashion, she throws her hindquarters back and forth when she walks so a tutu would accentuate her cute sway. Plus, it's getting towards Halloween and what better time of year to dress up your dog?
Recently I passed by a kids consignment store and decided to pop in and see if they had tutus. Turns out they had a huge selection (who knew?), and cheap. So I picked out the fluffiest pink one with lots of tulle and a satin wasteband studded with a few rhinestones. Perfect.