Sunday, July 21, 2013

Change in Plans

This blog serves a couple of purposes.  One of those is to help chronicle what happens in our family.  I thought it fitting to post about a recent disappointment. 

For a while we have planned on enrolling Jonathan in kindergarten this year.  His birthday falls five days after the deadline so we figured we'd jump through a few hoops and in he'd go.   We read the literature provided by the district, registered him and awaited the necessary assessments.  He went through the final assessment a couple of weeks ago and then Wednesday we received "the letter".  I wasn't worried.  He is a beginning reader, takes in everything and is so willing to learn and loves discovery.  I thought for sure he'd make it.  I opened the letter after dinner and found out he has not met the criteria.  It seems we were jumping through the hoops with a blindfold on. 

Apparently, though I have to find the official policy on the district's website, to enroll in kindergarten or first grade early the proposed student must preform a grade level above that which they are trying to enter.  Now, I feel Jonathan is intelligent but I do not expect my almost five year to be a six year old, nor would I have tried to get him there.  I feel a little betrayed and upset over this whole situation.  Never in this entire process of registering and talking to administrators were we informed about policy #3110.  We could only find references to it in old school board minutes and details in a newspaper article.  There is no official school policy listed where I might easily find it. 

Had we known about this we would not have tried to enroll Jonathan.  Thankfully he's not too choked up about it.  He's ready to "play" for another year.  I think it's a shame though that five days makes a difference for a kids who is truly ready for school and others who need all sorts of support just because of their birthdays and an arbitrary deadline.  Hyrum reminds me not to get stuck on things I can't change so while I can't change this for Jonathan, I can change it for others.  We are working on making sure this policy becomes posted on the policy section of the district website and part of the kindergarten registration packet. 

All in all, I'm a little disappointed because I think we'll have the same boredom battle we have had over the past year and I think he is so ready.  I think it's a ridiculous policy but I am neither educator or psychologist so I'll do what I can so parents know the situation they are putting themselves and their children in.  I guess I just need to get a little more creative.

What do you do in the summertime?

The crew at dinner.

We play.  Hyrum's mom and sisters arrived at our house at 3 am Thursday morning.  We are really glad to have them with us.  We haven't seen Sarah and Rachel since last year and we can always see more of Grandma.  We wish Grandpa could be here too but we were glad his love for Scouting brought Lynnette, Rachel and Sarah to us.

We went to a theme park to splash in puddles.
We hung out Thursday so they could recuperate from their late night drive and then Friday we headed to Kennywood.  Kennywood is the local theme park.  Every year Google holds their summer picnic there for their employees and family.  It was great to have Grandma and Sarah and Rachel there because it meant we could buddy up on having fun and watching the kids.

Everyone had matching t-shirts--aside from the mustard yellow, they were pretty cool.
There was Kiddieland where riders had to be under 48-36".  It was perfect for Charlotte and great for Hannah and Jonathan too.  Hannah is just about to graduate from Kiddieland though as she gets taller every year.  The greatest thing though, in my opinion of course are the sprinklers attached to the trees.  They sprinkle toasty guests with a refreshing sprinkle.  The kids enjoyed splashing in the puddles at the Kiddieland location.

I was trying to get a picture of her chocolate covered face.  It didn't work so well.
We had a great time.  It was warm but manageable with the sprinklers.  Jonathan keeps asking when we can go back.  

What kids doesn't love a good puddle.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Seeing Spots?

Some of the kids had already shed their hides.

Yesterday a friend invited us to join them for Customer Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A.  We decided to join then and took our little herd to the restaurant today with spots and all.  With a little bit of felt, Wonder-Under,  white fabric, a few safety pins and tape we were ready to go.

Every time we go, I wonder why we don't go more often.  The staff is always friendly and so kind when one of my children inevitably spills something.  (Thank goodness this time it was only water)

This may become a regular on our calendar. 

Summer Gardening

Gardening has always been a part of my life.  In Texas, we re-introduced it with a garden of our own.  We watered, weeded and had pretty good success with tomatoes, carrots and beans.  We moved to Pittsburgh with grand dream of making sure we bought a house with good garden space.  Well, we have good garden space, it also happens to be the only flat part of the lawn we have as well as the only part that gets really good sun.  Add the need for a tract of lawn for the kids to play on and the deer that wonder through the back yard together and we decided to try container gardening.  We have a high deck off the family room making it quite accessible for watering and it gets decent sun.  I do have to run woodchuck/ground hogs off every once in a while but the plants seem to be doing well.

Left to right: carrots, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, front center: peppers

I have three planters of carrots, two for corn, two for peppers, three for tomatoes, and three for cucumbers.  I also have a small planter wtih some herbs in it.  I've fallen in love with fresh Basil. Burpee had a special container variety of corn so I thought I'd try it just for fun.  We had a pretty intense storm the other night that blow my corn down so we'll see if it revives.  We also bought a short variety of carrots so they should do really well in our containers.  My cucumbers have blossoms and there are some tomatoes on the vines.  I'm excited to see what we get from this little garden and see how we can expand and improve on it next year.  I already know I'll do more carrots.  We love carrots.

Sage, Parsley, Basil

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Oh Say, Can You See . . .

Our place settings for our 4th of July dinner.
The 4th of July, what a day!  I am so grateful for the opportunity we have to live in this country.  My sister-in-law said it best when she wrote about the great sacrifice of the people who fought and decided to seek independence.  I truly believe this country is blessed by God as we seek his will and work, by faith to maintain our freedoms.

That being said, I wanted to share a bit of our celebration.  We were going to have a party full of fireworks and tasty food, instead I think we did somethings that truly represents the idea of the American Dream.  We worked.  We ended up driving up to my parents to help them with some garden work they needed to get done.  We accomplished a lot between rain showers.

The men worked on the garden stockade to keep the deer out of the garden.  Over the course of two days, they dug 36 post holes and placed 40 posts in concrete.  My dad was putting up the fence today.  Mom and I weeded a bit and just tried to keep the munchkins happy.

We decorated stars and flags.
My mom, Hannah and I have started a tradition of painting our toenails when we get together.  This time it was flags and red, white and blue.
A quick game of croquet after dinner, before we all fell over from exhaustion.
The rainbow after the downpour we had just as the guys were placing the last four posts on Friday.

Singing camp songs by the fire.  One of my favorite things to do. 
They had worked really hard.  They were good sports to hang out with us Friday night.
The kids enjoyed the glow sticks and s'mores.
I am so glad we could help my parents and spend time with them.  They are such hardworking people and never cease to teach me how to be a better person.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Take Me Out to the Ball Game . . .

Last month we had the opportunity to attend a Pirates game.  Hyrum is a long time baseball fan.  He spent many nights falling asleep listening to Texas Rangers games on the radio, as a boy.  That love of baseball has been passed on to our children.  I even enjoy a good baseball game.  One of the plus sides of moving to Pittsburgh was that they had a pro-baseball team.  The Pirates haven't had a great team since the 80's but they are doing well this season.  We're in it for the game, not for the wins.

Trying to get a family picture with the cityscape in the background.  Pittsburgh has a lot of neat bridges.

Anyway, there was a late afternoon game making it perfect for getting kids in bed at a decent hour and also getting naps to those who needed one.  PNC Park has an extremely liberal food policy so we packed up the juice boxes, water, hot dogs, ketchup, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, bubble gum, Swedish fish, tootsie rolls, caramel corn, carrot sticks and apples and off we went.

The crew getting ready for the game--well, half of the crew.

It was a great experience.  I would definitely do it again.  The field and park complex is lovely.  These Pittsburghers take care of their teams, no matter what happens.   We got through the gate and were immediately greeted by a women who worked for Guest Services.  She told us about an office that was set up for families with small children.  We could take the kids there for a break, feeding, air conditioning, whatever.  It was so great.  We didn't use it but it was nice to just know it was available and that she had sought us out.  I was also really impressed with the fans.  I didn't hear any foul language or bad mouthing the other team.  Everyone just seemed to be there to have a good time.  They weren't even bugged by our kids.

The outfield with the city backdrop.

Our seat were high but they were great.  We could see everything and we were in the shade.  It was a warm day but not unbearable, being in the shade made it perfect.  The kids enjoyed their hot dogs and the seemingly endless flow of treats, a rare treat for them.  They even enjoyed the game a bit.  Spencer and Charlotte played musical chairs and took turns sitting with Hyrum or I.  Hannah and Jonathan were mostly into the game, though I think Jonathan just liked being able to chew bubble gum.  The game went into extra innings and eventually the Pirates lost in the 11th.

Our view of the field.

The kids were worn out and ready to go home and thankfully there was no traffic.  We stayed to the end and had no problem getting home, twenty minutes and we were at our door.  I love family adventures.  I hope we can do this again.  Go Bucs!