Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Lessons Begin!

My neighbor, Jenny and I are making a concerted effort to keep our girls busy this summer.  Given the chance, I'm sure both our girls (Josie and Katie) would spend hours on the computer or in front of the TV.  Both of the girls are registered in the Summer Bridge program at their elementary school.  Classes take place on Tuesday and Thursday from 9-12.  Both girls will be tackling work for the grade level they enter in the Fall.

That schedule leaves a lot of time to plan other educational opportunities.  Jenny works until 2PM, but when she gets home, she conducts a Math class for the girls.  Classes are from 2:15 - 3:00 every week day, except Thursday.  (Thursday they both have piano lessons).  Jenny has also scheduled a visit to an evening concert and a weekend camping trip for the girls.

I've been trying my hand at scheduling field trips and at-home lessons for the girls.  Today, we had our first Field Trip to Centennial Farm.  They have a lot of hands-on exhibits for the kids to explore.  They update births of new animals on their website, so we were very excited to see the new calves, kids and chicks born in recent weeks.  There is a huge agricultural display - featuring fruits and vegetables that are grown on-site and donated to a local homeless shelter.  Both of the girls had never seen how artichokes or brussel sprouts look in the field, and I was amazed by the varieties of peppers grown!  We also learned about natural/organic methods used to control pests that bother both plants and animals.  Here are some more photos from our farm visit:


Another BIG event that took place this past week was Maddie starting college!  She is enrolled for the summer session at her college and Sunday was move-in day for the dorm she will be living in until early August.  I didn't want to go overboard with the photos - both Maddie and I were very, very nervous.  The drive from my sister's house to the college was nearly silent, interrupted only by our big, deep inhales of breath.  We both were very nauseous - fear of the unknown had both of us tense.  Luckily, all of that fear and anxiety disappeared within 2 minutes of meeting Maddie's roommate and her family.  What a wonderful group of folks.  Here's the few photos I took of Maddie's dorm room before being shooed away:

Entrance to the Dorm

Still unpacking - the fridge was a graduation present from Aunt Claudine and Aunt Suzanne.

Maddie's new closet and dresser - I'm sure this is the cleanest it will be for the next 6 weeks!

Maddie's home for the next 6 weeks!

Our summer activities resume tomorrow with a visit to the Sawdust Art Festival.  Josie and Katie are both 'artistic' types, so I'm sure they are going to love all the vendors - not to mention the free concerts that take place throughout the day!  For myself, I'm hoping I won't run into anything I 'have to have' - easy way to go broke!

Our next learning trip, on Monday, will be to a local Ramakrishna Monastery.  They have a 'spiritual trail' which presents symbols from all major world religions, and features indigenous plants and wildlife.  It will be a wonderfully peaceful outing for the girls.

Hope everyone has an outstanding weekend!  Staaayyy Cool!

Monday, June 11, 2012

June is All About Josie!

Now that we have all of Maddie's events out of the way, we made room for little Josie to start filling in her calendar with events just for her!

On June 2, Josie performed in her first Piano Recital.  She has been taking lessons with Miss Sherri since the Fall.  She has progressed so well that we purchased a piano for her about a month ago.  For the past four weeks, the house has been filled with the rich sound of Josie, Katie and Nyra having piano duels while preparing for their respective recitals.  We couldn't be happier - or more proud.

Josie loves playing the piano.  She never has to be reminded to practice and will do so for well over the time required by her instructor.  On the big day she performed beautifully.  She remembered to sit properly and to stand then bow after her piece.

Here are some photos from the day:

Josie with her Gung Gung and MaMa

PopPop and Aunt Claudine

Josie's proud family

On Monday, June 4th Josie's class took a field trip to the Long Beach Aquarium.  Knowing that she would be leaving for college in a matter of weeks, Maddie volunteered as a chaperone for the outing.  Josie was beyond thrilled!
The girls had a great time.  It had been a while since Maddie had been on a school bus - and Josie made sure to reserve a seat for just the two of them.  We have noticed that Josie has the slight flaw of not 'sharing' particularly well... especially when it comes to her family!  She relaxed enough to allow Maddie to take on chaperoning duties for her two friends, Emily and Kennedy.

Kennedy (l) and Emily (r)

Josie was called upon to help place kelp in the marine habitat.

Maddie goofing with her 'charges'!

Maddie fell in love with all of Josie's classmates, noting that all were amazingly well behaved and respectful.  Josie's teacher, Mrs. S and the other Moms complimented Maddie often - telling her how wonderful it was to see two sisters so devoted to each other.  Before Josie came to us, I would dream that Maddie would be the kind of Big Sister she has turned out to be.  Josie adores Maddie completely and I know she will suffer greatly when Maddie leaves us to attend college. So, we're all savoring these moments, and dreading the impending separation.

... One more of the girls before signing off.  Hope everyone enjoys these last few weeks of school!  We still have Field Day, Pizza Party Day and a retirement party for Josie's teacher in the next 10 days!  After that - East Coast here we come!!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Month for Maddie...The Graduate!

 The month of May has been all about Maddie. As she prepared to graduate from High School, the list of events and obligation seemed to multiply hourly. I'm sure many of you who have had a child graduate from HS and/or college know how this last month has been. Absolutely crazy!

 I guess the first 'graduation event' we attended was Senior awards night. I was amazed at the accomplishments of Maddie's classmates! There were at least 25 International Baccalaureate diplomas awarded. One Air Force Academy candidate; about 10 Ivy leaguers; and many academic superlatives. Maddie's class had two Valedictorians and two Salutatorians. The school also won the California State HS Football championship back in November - so a few of boys got full athletic scholarships to USC and other prestigious universities.

 Alas, no award for Maddie. She was, however, listed in the program for having received a scholarship to the university she will be attending. Every bit helps, so it was a big deal to us. Here's me and Maddie on our way to Senior Awards Night:


 A few days later we were thrilled to have my high school friend,(and post-college roommate)Karen, come for a visit. Her arrival was specifically scheduled so that she could see Maddie go to her Prom. How great is that?! The girls adore their 'Auntie Karen'! Karen lightened the load for me by taking Maddie shopping (which I REALLY don't like doing at all!) and also accompanying her to make-up and hair appointments on the day of the Prom. It really was wonderful to have my dear friend near for such a monumental occasion. This was Maddie's first and only Prom, so it was really exciting for all of us!

Maddie and 'Auntie Karen'

Maddie and Israel                        Photo by Susie Kim

The party bus to the prom                   Photo by Susie Kim

Israel and Maddie                           Photo by Susie Kim

During the week between Prom and graduation, there were a few commitments at school.  We also sent Auntie Karen home to Maryland and welcomed my Dad, my sister Claudine and James' parents - who were all in town to attend Maddie's graduation.

Once we were seated for the graduation, I felt a bit overwhelmed.  I clearly recalled how, within hours after she was born I thought, "Oh My God, how am I going to send her to college?!"  And there we were, at the end of 12 years of struggle and joy, watching her graduate!  I know that these days high school graduation is a 'given' - the most basic of requirements to enter 'the real world'.  But, for our family, it was truly a milestone.  Maddie attended 7 schools in that 12 year span - seemingly always the New Kid, never really able to root herself too long.  We are all looking forward to Maddie attending college - where she can make those 'life-long' friends and study the subjects that help her determine who she will be in the years to come.  Here are some photos from Friday's Graduation ceremony:

Maddie with her Gung Gung and Ma Ma (paternal grandparents)

Maddie and her PopPop (my Dad)

Maddie and Israel

...with Aunt Claudine


...with her so very proud parents!

It was a great day for our entire family, and we missed those family members who were unable to be on hand to share the day.

We took advantage of the fact that we would have family in town when we scheduled another important event on Saturday, June 2nd. Josie performed in her first piano recital!! My next post will be all about our precious Josie and her awesome musical debut! Until then....