Thursday, January 26, 2006

Cupcakes, Five Year Olds, and Polly Angst

Well, here are more pictures of my beautiful five year olds AND of my Martha Stewart moment (the cupcakes!). At Pre-K, the girls are studying the arctic, and I attempted to make polar bear cupcakes for their birthday. Jeff said they looked like mice, but I told him that four and five year olds would think they looked like polar bears if we told them they were polar bears. Boy, was I wrong. I guess the kids in the class thought they were rabbits! Oh well, I tried!

The individual pictures of the girls are of when I made them pose on the evening of their birthday. I also did a hilarious birthday interview on video with each of them. I asked them about all kinds of things. The funniest answers were when I asked Emma what she liked the best about Grace, and she said, "She smells like maple syrup," which is true (and very observant, I thought) since Grace loves waffles more than anything on earth. Another silly moment was when I attempted to interview patient Grace, and Emma kept busting in on the interview. (Such a bossy boots!) "No, Grace, say you like horses too..." Poor Grace. Other than smelling like waffles, the gal needs her own identity!

Currently, my curse in life are Polly Pockets. Tiny dolls with plastic outfits that rip and plastic houses that lose pieces...a million pieces... is not my idea of fun. I'm all about Barbie! Barbie has hair to brush and real cloth outfits. Barbie has a cruise ship and a dream home. New Barbies have actual FEET (not those little pointed feet, but bigger feet so they can surf and stuff!)

Anyway, you can see the gals playing with some of their new Polly Pocket "towns"...a five year old's dream, and a mommy's worst nightmare. If I have to squeeze one more little plastic leg into a purple legwarmer, I'm going to lose it! Or at least lock myself in the playroom with my old Barbie dream home! :) hee hee hee

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Aloha...We're Five!

Emma and Grace's fifth birthday party was a hit. After arguing over princess parties, tea parties, and horse parties, the girls decided they would rather compromise than split their party into two separate parties. We decided to have a Luau. We had so much fun! Jeff and I grilled terriaki kabobs, my parents brought over two huge trays of fried rice, Costco provided the fruit trays and the cake, and cousin Johnette brought her famous spinach dip. Almost all of Emma and Grace's friends were there, dressed in their Hawaiian attire. They played Bingo and ran around the yard (it was a pretty nice day!)

Even though we had a fabulous time, Jeff and I were pooped! I think we're considering a Disneyland trip instead of a party next year...we'll stay in one of the fun hotels and just enjoy it. Of course, I say something like that every year, and we always end up with the girls asking, "But what about our party?" When I ask them where they want to have it, it's always the same. "At our house, of course!" This is their fourth party in this house! (Their first birthday party was at our Roma Drive house.)

I'm going to post one more blog with some more pictures of our big five-year-old girls. It's a pretty big deal around here!


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Because I Teach

I can't imagine having any job other than teacher. This picture was taken last year as my students and I were packing up my classroom (I was moving into my new room outside...a much better location!). I often bring costumes to school during my Shakespeare unit so that they can become another "persona" and have fun while getting through the often challenging text. For this picture, my AVID students decided to put on the costumes and act silly.

This past two weeks, being a teacher was difficult. I found out that a former student (not one seen in this picture) had committed suicide. Kenneth was one of those kids you just loved. He had an booming laugh and a great sense of humor. He could imitate "Stitch" from the movie Lilo and Stitch perfectly, and often did the voice for Emma and Grace if they saw him walking by after school. During our Shakespeare play and Renaissance Faire, he could speak in a perfect Shakespearean accent (even though he was African American who normally spoke with plenty of slang!) Whenver he would see me in the quad, he'd shout loudly, "Dawn Smith!!! Dawn Smith!!!" and I knew it was him, because no other kids call me "Dawn Smith."

Last Tuesday, I spoke at Kenneth's funeral. It was important for me to do tell his mom and dad how much he made us laugh, how much joy he brought, and how much he would be missed. It was difficult, but important. After sharing about him, I read a poem written by a pilot, about "flying high, dancing gracefully in the sky, and touching the face of God." I see Kenneth doing just that.

Until now, in nine years of teaching, I have never directly lost a student. One of MINE, the kids sitting in my room, making me laugh, adding their two cents into the discussion, reciting Shakespeare. I have never lost one of my own, and I guess I've been lucky. Teaching, like loving, makes you vulnerable! In nine years, I've probably taught over one thousand students. Call it luck, I guess, that so far I've only lost one. I know that this job, this passion of mine, will make me vulernable to loss. It gives me more resolve each day to make a difference in my students' lives, to treat them with kindness and compassion, and to help them see learning as fun. This is an enormous responsibility, but oh, what a reward! Other than motherhood, I wouldn't want any other job!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Twins on Ice

Today our 85- degree luck changed and we got our first big storm. It was very windy and it rained really hard! Jeff and I decided it would be a perfect day to take the girls ice skating. At first, Emma and Grace hung on to us, because there were some big ten-year-olds hogging the ice skating bars (see photo) that are meant to help the little ones learn to skate. (Wimps!) After two or three laps, our ankles and backs were killing us since we were bending down to help the girls. Eventually, we managed to snag two ice-skating-helpin-bars. (Sorry...I'm not sure what to call them!) The girls really took off, then! Grace, as usual, was fearless (and cut a lot of people off). Emma started out a lot more cautiously, but in the end was a strong skater! In fact, by the time we were about to leave, both Emma and Grace skated from the center of the rink to the exit without their bars. (It was Emma's idea...she is sitting on my lap as I type this and wants me to make that CLEAR.) more thing. Jeff and I had a little friendly husband/wife competition going about who was the best skater. I figured that since I was the roller skating QUEEN growing up, I would be, and I was right. My sweet husband fell TWICE (and at 6'5", Jeff falling was like watching timber falling in the forest!) I think I take the Smith family ice skating title for 2006.