Sunday, March 12, 2017

Literacy Laina

Alaina is well known for her love of reading and learning.  It is--in fact--unusual to see her without a book in her hand, especially during this past month as she has participated in her school's love of reading challenge.
In the past, this challenge was called the "reading Olympics," and the three students in each class with the top scores for number of minutes read during February received gold, silver, and bronze medals.
Alaina earned gold in both kindergarten and grade one, along with gift cards to her school's book fairs, so when she came home dejected on the first day of the reading challenge, I was a little surprised.
It turns out that the school changed the activity: instead of the kids with the most reading minutes receiving medals or prizes, the teachers would draw names from the children who turned in their reading logs on time.  Whether they read 10 minutes or 1000 minutes, their chances of winning would be the same (sort of a celebration of promptness in turning in assignments?).
I encouraged Alaina to set a reading goal for herself and do her best anyway, and--not surprisingly at all--she did exactly that.  Alaina told me she would read at least an hour every day, and ended the month with well over 2000 minutes.
At the school there is an assembly each month to honor a student who exemplifies a principle they are focusing on, and--also not surprisingly--Alaina's teacher chose her to represent literacy, the focus for this month.
And this weekend she and Eric put on their own "Literacy Day" at home, making posters about literacy and encouraging everyone to read.  Eric was dancing around the house saying, "It's Literacy Day!" (Thanks to Alaina--and storytime at the library--he actually knows what that means!)

So--Literacy Laina . . . I like the sound of that :)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Every Five Years?

Five years ago I was still in my 30s.  I had only three children--only one of whom was in school--and we lived down the road from my mom and dad. 
And five years ago Janae had her last "friends" birthday party. 
It had a Tinker-Bell theme, and I worked for many, many hours creating fairyland decorations and props.  Janae had lots of fun running around and playing with the girls she invited, but after the party she cried and cried, telling me how much she "hated" her party.

We all know Janae can be a little intense, but still--it was such a memorable experience for me that I have kind of encouraged Janae to stick to family parties.  Since we have lots of extended family around, this has still allowed for our little girl to celebrate her birthday with lots of people.  Some years she has opted for a bigger present instead of a party, or we've gone somewhere special, or Janae herself has said she didn't want to invite anyone from school or church, so it's never really seemed like anything was missing.
This year, though, Janae decided to have a small party with her two best friends.  I was a little nervous, but knew that after all these years, I had to say yes.
So . . . we talked about a theme (cats!), and Janae started decorating.
And this morning we painted,
and blow-dried,
and painted some more until the girls ended up with some sheep, a fox, and a bunny that they were pretty proud of. 

Then we came home for lunch--the girls continued to be creative, taking turns playing the violin and piano while the others danced, dressing up, playing Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings, and eating way too much pizza. 

Finally, the girls made their own ice cream sundaes and sang happy birthday.
I have to admit, I hardly had to do anything (except maybe spray and wash a few chocolate stains from the table cloth!). 
Janae is still happy and feels that it was a good experience.
So, overall, not too bad.
I guess five years can make a big difference....
And tomorrow she will really be 10!