Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Favorite Part of Today

I wasn't feeling well and didn't do anything monumental today (always disappointing on a three- day weekend) BUT I did have some splendid moments....

Emma reading "Gallop, Oh Gallop"- a poem about horses, out loud. She read it so beautifully. I can't believe how well that child reads aloud!

Grace telling me that Grandma Otti said that if she didn't clean her ears, cabbage would grow out of them. Grace was quite concerned about this.

Talking to Matt on the phone. When I was asking him about graduation gifts, my (almost) 18-year-old stepson said, "Dawn, I make 200.00 a week. I buy myself whatever I want." I wish I were in a place in life when I thought 200.00 a week was a surplus!

Finishing cleaning my house. I HATE doing it, but when I am done, and the house is really clean, it feels SO good. I bribed the girls to help me (beyond normal chores)...I had those girls vacuuming under couch cushions and polishing base boards. They rocked!

Going to Trader Joes. MAN I love that store. My favorite purchases- Vanana Yorgurt (the perfect mixture of vanilla and banana), Emergencee (Dana's recommendation to help me feel better), Lemon Curd (I adore it!) and organic raspberries. Yum.'s past ten and I'm going to put on my pajamas and watch a movie or READ in bed. I know it's late, but my OTHER favorite part of today is that there is NO SCHOOL tomorrow and the gals and I are sleeping in.

Friday, May 09, 2008

School: Projects and Parties

Ian and his Immigrant Report

Me, Mary, and Nicole
Mary and Jeff (top)
Katherine and Dana's baby, Blake

Emma, Josie, Grace, Mikail, Sophie, and Jade

Now that it's May, school is winding down for everyone.

One of my great joys this year has been tutoring my nephew, Ian. In exchange for Grace's dance lessons, I take Ian in the afternoons and we work on homework. He's been working really hard, and his progress has been significant! (I call my truck the "tutor bus" because after school I have Ian, Emma, and Grace, along with their backpacks, lunch bags, and projects.) Recently, Ian was assigned an "Immigrant Project;" he had to research one of his relatives and the way he or she came to the United States.

Ian and I truly bonded over our research of Adomas Zakarouski, Ian's great, great grandfather (my great grandfather.) At just sixteen, Adomas boarded a tramp steamer in Lithuania and travelled to Ellis Island. Once in America, he moved to Illinois, where he met his wife (Great, Great Grandma) and they started a sewing business. When Adomas died, he left Great Grandma with no money; she moved into a Polish neighborhood and in order to fit in, she changed her name to Zakarski, the Polish form of Zakarouski. Every time she moved to a new neighborhood, she changed her name.

Adomas's son was my grandfather, Stanley Raymond Zakar. "Grandpa Ray" as we called him, grew up and joined the Navy, and his officers told him to shorten his name because Zakarouski was too difficult to pronounce. He shortened it to Zakar, which is my dad's last name and my maiden name.

Ian made the most rockin' immigrant project board known to man! We are both very proud of it. We added maps, pictures, and his report, and the entire board's colors were those of the Lithuanian flag. We felt pretty crafty and clever when we were finished!

The best part of tutoring Ian was recently when my sister said that when he received his progress report (which was very, very good) he couldn't wait to show me. :) He's such a punkin pie I tell ya!

Other school news: Our English department had a party/bbq and all of us ate (a lot) while the kids played. I work with a wonderful group of friends, and I love watching our kids grow up together.

School's almost out and I can't wait for summer break to begin, but I must say that parties and projects have been rather enjoyable this year. :)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Glamour Cowgirl and Dance Class Dropout

I love this picture. It is a perfect photographic display of my daughters' personalities.

Emma is in a sensible tank top and blue jeans; we're about to go visit the pony with our friend Kylie (on the right) and Emma wants to be prepared for some real horse interaction. She put on the hat to humor the other girls, but she'll take it off once we get to the ranch so she can wear her helmet.

Grace is all glammed up to go riding, although once we get to the ranch, she will not ride at all. She'll run around showing Kylie all of the things to do: swing on the swingset, find the pig in the hay stack, visit the new baby horse, jump on the trampoline....but she won't ride. Grace is wearing her pink cowgirl hat (with the tiara), her pink Roxy capri pants (not sensible to ride in) and horse socks. Grace is NOT wearing boots because she loaned them to Kylie so Kylie could be a "real cowgirl" like Grace. :)

Miss Emma Claire rides Pony Gypsi like a little pro. She gallops around the arena with her buns sticking to that saddle like peanut butter. When (and if) Grace gets on the pony, the pony just stands there. Gypsi is smart enough to know that Grace has NO IDEA how to control her, so Gypsi just stays put, or tries to squeeze her head under the arena fence to eat grass.

Now dance class is another story.

Emma decided NOT to take Hip Hop because Hannah Montana bugs her.

Grace enrolled in two Hip Hop classes, as well as ballet and tap. She dances four afternoons a week.

Emma asked Auntie if she could NOT wear her hair in a bun and NOT wear pink. Auntie said those were the rules. Emma complied, and didn't complain, but didn't look thrilled.

Grace has 900 dance outfit combinations- jazz pants, footless tights, velvet ballet leotards, sparkle skirts. Some are hand-me-downs, some are Emma's old stuff, and some are Grace's. She doesn't care, as long as she can throw together a new ensemble for each class.

Grace is truly a talented dancer and she has the willowy body of a ballerina. She is a total dancin' kiss-up, raising her hand to answer Auntie's questions, and folding her hands quietly while Auntie helps the other students.

Emma's short tenure as a ballerina consisted of messing around in the back of the class, stomping across the dance floor, and zoning out. Finally one day, she came out of dance class with her face all blotchy and she quit. "I get too tired doing dance. I'd rather ride pony any old day." And that was that.

Emma's ballet slippers are now in Grace's closet, and Grace's pink cowgirl boots are clean and shiny.


Emma and Gracie remind me of my sister Danielle and me. Danielle doesn't read; I adore books. Danielle hates English class at school. I teach English. She dances beautifully; I am unbelievably uncoordinated! Danielle loves to exercise; I have to force myself to go to the gym.

But...I love her to death. Being so different has only brought us closer together. I know Emma and Grace will be just as close, if not closer than we are.