Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dean jumps off the diving board

Dean's been taking swimming lessons again for a few weeks. We signed up at the last minute, so all the group classes were filled up already, so he's in a private class with Ariel, a young college student, and he LOVES it. I actually think this is working out better for him. The class time is shorter (30 minutes instead of 45 minutes) so he doesn't get as cold and of course it's all one-on-one instruction, so it's tailored to his needs. He's doing really well and today he wanted to jump off the diving board. He jumped off into Ariel's waiting arms and he LOVED it!! He ended up jumping off about 5 or 6 times before Ariel finally had to just tell him the diving board was closed. Here's some video of his first jump - sorry for all the loud background noise, it was super windy in Kihei today! And remember if you get the e-mail updates, you'll have to go to the actual blog HERE and scroll down to this post to watch the video.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Solar System Project & 4th of July

We actually had a super chill Fourth of July, spending the day at home. I asked Dean what he wanted to do when he woke up that morning and he said "make a Solar System". I asked him how he wanted to make a Solar System and he said "a Solar System Project", in a tone that suggested I was a complete idiot. I asked him what kind of project and he thought about it for a minute and said "maybe a poster", just like that, all on his own. I think he might have had something different in mind than what we ended up doing, but he LOVED his Solar System Project!!

I ran to K-Mart and bought a couple of black poster boards and then let Dean dig through my gigantic stash of cardstock to pick out the colors he wanted to use for each planet. I pulled out my Big Shot die cutting machine and a bunch of different sizes of circle dies and a glue stick and we got to work! Dean actually did pretty much everything himself - only needing help with drawing the "islands" on Earth (Daddy did that) and punching out shapes for the asteroids. - he picked out which size each planet should be and put them in order all by himself.

We started with the Sun - obviously this isn't to scale! I did draw the half circle for him, tracing around a paper plate, but Dean did all of the cutting and gluing himself. Then I showed him how to use the Big Shot and the dies to cut out the circles for the planets -he thought that was REALLY cool! (and if you look closely you can kind of see our new furniture in the background).

Once we got the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars glued on and I was trying to move him along to Jupiter, Dean had a minor meltdown because "NO!! Jupiter isn't next Mommy!" First we needed to do the Asteroid Belt. Great. The Asteroid Belt. Now what the hell am I going to use for Asteroids?? I ended up using a little flower punch (failing to mention it was a flower punch to Dean, instead calling it an Asteroid Punch), which worked PERFECTLY and Dean happily glued on a bunch of asteroids while telling me all about Ceres and how it's the smallest dwarf planet, but it's actually in the Asteroid Belt and not in the Kuiper Belt like the others. (um, OK, sure. I had to look that up later, but it turns out he's right. I hate it when my 3-yr-old makes me look dumb and talks about stuff that I'm pretty sure I've never even heard of).

So anyway, Dean proceeded to glue on the rest of the planets - getting creative with Jupiter and Saturn (I did help him cut the ring for Saturn and the strips for Jupiter, although the concept was all Dean's). The only other time Dean got a little upset was because Jupiter was missing the Great Red Spot, which was easily fixed with a small oval die and some red cardstock. Dean insisted on adding the Kuiper Belt after Neptune and making it the same color as Pluto, because technically "Pluto isn't a real planet, it's just a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt like Eris". Duh.

And finally after about 2 hours, we were done. Dean was SOOOOO proud of himself!!
Dean was about ready for a nap after all that hard work, so we had some lunch and he went into his room to read for a little while and then took his nap.

After naptime, we had a fun 4th of July picnic in the front yard, ending with some yummy summer cupcakes from Whole Foods! Dean LOVES those cupcakes!!
Making 4th of July shakas!!
We finished the night sharing a giant watermelon with the neighbors and watching the neighborhood shoot off fireworks all over our street. Dean did one sparkler and threw a few of those Snap Pop things on the ground that pop when they hit the ground. But other than that, he was content to just sit in the grass and watch all the craziness in the rest of the neighborhood (thank goodness!).

Just another day in paradise...

Monday, July 5 was a holiday for us - no work - so we spent the morning at Keawakapu Beach. That seems to be "our thing" for holidays. Dean had a blast, as usual. He's becoming fearless in the water, which makes me a nervous wreck. I didn't get pics of it, but he will play right in the surf break and just get tumbled by the waves. He loves it!!

Kaiser Anniversary Party

On Saturday, July 31, the company I work for - Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, which is part of the Kaiser Permanente family - had a party on Maui to celebrate it's 50th Anniversary. I didn't have huge expectations for the party. Don't get me wrong - Kaiser is an AMAZING company to work for and they treat their employees extremely well. But I've been there for 6 years now and in all that time they've never had a company party. Wait, I think they had a Holiday Party my first year, but they haven't had one since. I don't think Kaiser is big on spending money on extravagant employee parties (which is as it should be in my opinion).

But I was pleasantly surprised by the Anniversary Celebration. It was actually pretty awesome! I took Joel, Dean and my Mom. They had it at the Maui Ocean Center, after the place had closed to the public - so it was only Kaiser employees there. They had a really nice buffet dinner in the restaurant with super yummy food, and seated us outside right above Maalaea boat harbor at sunset. We had free admission to the Ocean Center (which normally costs about $20 per adult admission) and there were fun games and crafts set up throughout the center for kids. There was a live band playing really good music in the central courtyard area and they even gave us scrips to use at the Cafe to get coffee or snacks or ice cream later in the night. They had some special stuff set up too - like a couple of the green sea turtles were out of the exhibit with one of the "Turtle Keepers" and they let us actually touch the turtles!! (something you are not supposed to do in the wild) so that was really cool!! And they gave all of us a 20% off coupon to the gift shop, which I actually think is one of the nicer gift shops on Maui. It was a really fun night! I think they had a pretty good turnout - Most of the PT staff were there and I saw several of the physicians and nurses and lots of administrative staff. It was nice to see everyone's families and kids too.

We hadn't been to the Ocean Center in awhile - the last several times we've taken Dean he hasn't really shown much interest in any of it, just running through the buildings and not really paying much attention to anything. But this time he was really into it - looking in every single fish tank and reading all the signs and pointing out all the fish and anemone and sea urchins that he knows the names of. We don't go very often because it's so expensive and not worth it if Dean's not going to be interested in looking at things. But now I'm thinking we may need to get a family pass for Christmas this year.

They also had a photographer there to take a family photo, which turned out OK. This is a scanned copy of the photo, so it's a little grainy looking, but you get the idea.

Na Koa Ikaika Maui

Joel took Dean to a game last night to see Maui's new professional baseball team, Na Koa Ikaika Maui. The team is part of the Golden Baseball League, a professional baseball league operating in the western United States, Hawaii, Mexico and Canada. This is Na Koa Ikaika's first season and it's kind of fun to have something new to do. I didn't go to the game. (I was in Wailea with my friend Sarah - she was picking up a birthday gift for her girlfriend Tiare - HAPPY BIRTHDAY TIARE!! - from Tiffany's, no less - those girls spoil each other more than any other couple I know). But apparently the baseball games at Maehara Stadium are the place to see and be seen on Maui - Joel and Dean ran into my friend Lauren and her son Noah along with Lauren's fiance Andrew and Lauren's Mom. Dean and Noah had fun running around, playing, harassing the Menehune mascot (I think he's a Menehune? I'm not really sure) and generally not paying any attention at all to the actual baseball playing. They also ran into the Rappeneckers and the Ellers. (well, Joel only saw Steve and Matt and of course he didn't ask about Jennifer or Amanda or the kids - typical man). But still. It is a small island.

Here are some pics of Dean and Noah...

I think I might have to join them next time.

First Day of School

Today was the first "official" day of the fall semester for Dean at Children's Garden Preschool. It's his 2nd year there and as I mentioned previously, he is in the Turtle class this year - for now anyway. He may be moving up mid-year to the Dolphin class depending on our decision for when to start him in kindergarten, which I'm sure I'll go into great detail about at another time as I am agonizing over the decision that could potentially affect his education and school experience for the rest of his life. I never knew I'd be making these types of stressful, possibly life-altering decisions so soon!! But I've been doing lots of research and have been in contact with Sue Pennington in Oklahoma, who is a well-known expert in the field of Education for Gifted Children. We had a very interesting long conversation last week about Dean, my options, and her experience with children like him. I have a lot to think about. Right now though her initial suggestion, based on the things he is doing now as a 3-yr-old, is to have him tested (probably a battery of aptitude tests including an IQ test) as she feels he is showing signs of being "extraordinarily gifted" (whatever that means), but basically I am going to have my hands full in the future and will likely need to be extremely involved in his education from the beginning. So not only do I now need to decide when to start him in kindergarten but look into where his educational needs will best be met - at our public school (the one near us is actually better than most on the island, but Hawaii public schools are in a sad state right now) or start looking into private school options, which are extremely expensive. I've only had a chance to explore the cost of one local private school and the yearly tuition for lower elementary school is about $11,000. {sigh}. That's not exactly in our budget right now. However, the more research I do about gifted kids and really look at the things Dean is doing now, the more freaked out I get. Especially when I see how CRAZY fast he seems to be progressing completely and totally on his own. And then I read so much about how children like Dean (and can I just stop for a minute and mention how much I really REALLY hate using phrases such as "children like Dean" as I personally think it is a terrible thing to label any child, but how else do you have this conversation!?) have very distinct educational needs (often termed "Gifted Needs" Education) but that very few teachers are actually trained to meet those needs. So much of the focus is on Special Needs Education (an area that should definitely get it's fair share of attention), but Gifted Needs kids are often completely overlooked. And interestingly, the research is showing that Gifted Needs kids have educational needs that are as different from the "norm" as Special Needs kids. So yeah, I'm freaking out just a little about all of this. All I really want is for Dean to be happy and to enjoy his childhood. The crazy thing is that right now he seems happiest when he's learning, and most of that is completely intrinsic, self-motivated learning. So how do you NOT let a child pursue that?

Anyway....back to the first day of school....

So even though Dean has been attending Children's Garden all summer, the past 2 months have been a pretty laid back "Summer Program" with fewer kids and less structure than the regular school year. But today marked the start of the regular Turtle curriculum.

I tried to get at least one cute "First Day of School" picture of Dean before we left the house, but he wasn't exactly cooperating, as you can see below...

He's still pretty cute though!

Here's a look at what his day will be like as a Turtle:
8:15-8:30 - Outside time in the Big Play yard
8:30-8:40 - Wash Hands
8:40-9:00 - Circle Time
9:00-9:30 - Snack / Potty / Carpet Time
9:30-10:20 - Outside Time
10:20-10:30 - Wash Hands
10:30 - 11:30 - 1/2 Group Journey Into Literacy
1/2 Group Art / Preacademics (switch at the half hour)
11:30-11:45 - Music
11:45-12:30 - Lunch
12:30-2:00 - Naptime
2:00-3:00 - Wake up time, Potty, Snack
3:00-3:45 - Playhouse
3:45-5:00 - Small Yard

We usually try to pick Dean up around 4:30 so he has plenty of time to play outside with his friends after naptime, but it's not too long of a day for him. Right now his best buddies are Maddox and Cole. The other kids in his class that I see him playing with are Jovie and Crash. He is ALWAYS filthy at the end of the day, and I mean FILTHY - the first thing we do is take a bath when we get home. Sometimes we don't even let him in the house, but just hose him off outside!! None of the kids wear shoes at school, but there is a "shoe shelf" outside the classroom where they leave their slippers (flip flops). It's so cute to see all those little slippers all lined up outside the door!!