Sunday, August 28, 2011

Clarification about Pomaika'i Fun Run

A friend asked a very good question about the Pomaika'i Fun Run fundraiser (see previous post). For clarification, Dean will be running in the Fun Run. Jennifer will NOT be running. I repeat, Jennifer will NOT be running. Sorry to disappoint. I know it would have been highly entertaining, but not gonna happen. Jen doesn't run. ;-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pomaika'i Fun Run

Aloha Family and Friends! Dean has made a video message for you regarding the Pomaika'i Fun Run. If you're reading this blog post in an e-mail subscription message, you'll have to go to the blog HERE to watch Dean's video.

In case you can't understand Dean, here's what he said: "Aloha Family and Friends. Pomaika'i is having its 5th Annual Fun Run on September 30. My school's goal is to raise $40,000 for the arts and technology programs that are being affected by budget cuts. Please help my school by donating. Thank you. I love you."

Your donations are tax deductible!! (I will send you the FED ID#). You can make checks payable to Pomaika'i PTSA and mail them directly to me (e-mail me for my address if you need it). We have to turn in the Fun Run Collection Envelope by September 16. Most of you live far away so Dean can't come knock on your door. We're not asking you to buy wrapping paper or candy bars or some other crap where the school only gets a portion of the money. 100% of the money you send will go to Dean's school. And HOPEFULLY this is the only time we'll have to ask you this year!! :-)

Thank you!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When creativity strikes...

Because sometimes he just does better work in his underwear and a pair of swim goggles while markering on a leftover piece of cardboard torn from a box...who am I to judge?

(don't ask me...I was minding my own business in the other room and walked in to find him like this. All on his own.)

The Groove and First Homework

We're getting into the groove of the school routine as we're about mid-way through the 2nd week of Kindergarten. Dean's still loving it, although I'm convinced they put some kind of crazy-juice into those school lunches. He has come home from school the last several days COMPLETELY wound up. I mean more hyper than I've ever seen him, like he's on crack or something (does crack make you hyper? I don't know. Speed maybe?). I don't know what it is. Joel thinks it's just the transition and he just needs some more time to get settled into things. I'm saying we give it another few weeks and then start sending home lunches and do our own little experiment. Maybe it's that damn chocolate milk!! ha! I certainly hope he's not behaving this way AT school because it's BAD. He has been super naughty from the time we get home until he goes to bed - mostly just being way more hyper than usual and not listening at all. Dean's always had a lot of energy, but this is out of character for him and a pretty sudden change. I'm sure it's just the transition and huge change in his routine, but it's about to drive me crazy!! But all of that aside, I'm glad that he's enjoying school and he's definitely loving it!

This past weekend, Dean and I made a card for Mrs. Smith to thank her for making Dean's first week of Kindergarten a success. I made the actual card and Dean wrote on the inside. He was so proud of himself for writing lower case letters, something he HATES doing!! It was pretty cute! Although his upper case letters are definitely more legible. Here's a look at his work:

Dean also had his first homework assignment this week, the "I Am Special Project". This was a project for us to do together with Dean (and we all know how much I love a project!!). We were given a piece of cardstock and instructions to "decorate this paper by adding things to it that tells us about your kindergartener. You can decorate both sides with pictures, stickers, drawings, stamps, and words". OK, well...this is kinda my thing. And we WERE given TWO sides of the know. ;-) But really, I'll admit I cheated a little. You might remember we had a similar assignment when Dean was in the Turtle Class a few years ago at Children's Garden preschool. And I created a pretty cool digital scrapbook page with all of this kind of information on there. It was a really neat project and Dean still loves looking at that page. So I pulled up that layout in Photoshop and used it as a template to create a new page. I had to resize it to fit the piece of cardstock and I used all new photos and re-wrote all of the "About Dean" stuff. Then I printed it out and we decided to use it as the front side of his project. It's super cute! And for the record, it was actually Dean's idea to do this. When I explained the project to him he excitedly said "I know!" and ran to his room and got the page I had made for his Turtle Class assignment and said "I can use this". I had to convince him that it was old and we needed to change it, but he really wanted to use it. Who am I to argue with that? So he helped me pick out the pictures and he did tell me the things he wanted to say about himself. I'm sure it's way overboard and hopefully he won't have too much trouble presenting it to the class. Regardless it will be a really cool keepsake! Here's what it looked like:

Then I told Dean he needed to decorate the back of the paper himself. I told him he could draw something or we could use stickers or whatever he wanted, but it needed to be something special about him. He said he wanted to make a Solar System picture "because I looooove Space. That would be really cool, right?". Yes, Dean. That would be really cool!! He decided he wanted to draw the planets on construction paper and cut each one out and then glue it onto the paper. That lasted for about 3 planets and then he was "really really tired" and it took A LOT of encouragement to get him to finish. But he pulled through and finished. Once he finished cutting and gluing all of the planets, he decided they needed to be labeled. I was MAJORLY impressed with his labeling skills - he wrote all of the planet names himself and did an excellent job with the spelling, only misspelling Mercury, Jupiter and Neptune because he left off a letter and Saturn because he swapped the R and the U. My favorite thing though is his creative "arrowing"!! He was so particular about drawing those arrows just so. Oh, and the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, which he added with a red marker at the very end. We can't forget that!!

And here he is working on that awesome Solar System picture:

So that's it. First homework assignment complete (and forever documented on the blog, soon to be scrapbooked!! ha ha!).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

First Week of Kindergarten

Dean had an AWESOME first week of Kindergarten!! He loved it! He only attended 2 days - half day Tuesday and a full day Thursday - and both days had a huge smile on his face when I picked him up. Thursday started out a little rough because I made him wear his Keens (close-toed shoes), which he did NOT want to do and he was a little teary and literally dragging his feet walking to the building and when it was time to go inside. I worried about it all day, regretting that I had pushed the issue. But he was happy when school was out, but was wearing his slippers and not his Keens, however Mrs. Smith said he had worn his Keens ALL DAY until the last 15 minutes!! YAY!! He had 2 stickers on his shirt and Mrs. Smith told him to be sure and tell me why he got 2 stickers. He said "one is for wearing my Keens all day until 15 minutes and another one for good cutting with scissors and good gluing". So far, things seem to be going great!! The first week of school only half of the kindergarten kids were there each day (which is why he only attended Tuesday and Thursday - the other half attended Wednesday and Friday). Next week all of the kids will be there together every day!

Mrs. Smith was kind enough to e-mail me several photos of Dean at school this past week, which of course I LOVE. Love that connection and communication!! I thought I'd share them with you, along with what she wrote in her e-mail. (we're loving her more each day!!).

Mrs. Smith said "Here he was doing center time and building with friends at the Lego center. In the other picture he was learning how to make tiny dots of glue and practicing his cutting skills. On this day we created our 1st piece of art in kindergarten!"

Mrs. Smith said "here's Dean playing with the shape blocks. I took an overhead view of his creation. Very cool! Also, he spent a long time at the writing center. He was exploring the stamps and telling me all about the fact that he does not like the color orange. I then learned that Dean loves to sing as he works. He was singing a tune of his own and it was the cutest thing I had heard. I told him I liked his singing and he looked at me and said "you do???!!!", he's adorable and makes me smile. I am so glad he's in my class!"

We are also glad Dean is in Mrs. Smith's class! We celebrated a successful first week of Kindergarten by driving over to Lahaina today to go to Barnes and Noble to buy Dean a couple of new books (our big Borders store closed a few months ago and we also just lost our Borders Express store at the mall, so no more book stores in Kahului...I can't wait for those fun Book club order things you get in Elementary school!! Those were the BEST! Do they still do those?? I hope so!). He was SO EXCITED to see that Barnes and Noble carries the entire Basher Books collection! He picked out the Physics (! Yes, my 4-yr-old wanted a Physics book. I know. He's kind of weird like that. But how do you say no to that??) and Rocks & Minerals. He also got a new National Geographic Kids Weird but True book and had fun reading that to us ALL THE WAY home. Did YOU know that Kangaroos can't hop backwards and that Owls don't move their eyeballs?? Yeah, me either.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

First Day of Kindergarten

Well, we all survived our First REAL Day of Kindergarten!! Dean LOVED it!! It was much harder for Mom and Dad. Because Pomaika'i Elementary school is so close to our house, we decided to walk to school today. But first, we took several First Day of Kindergarten photos in the front yard. Dean was fairly cooperative for these, although he did ask "Do we have to do this EVERY year now?". Yes, of course. My child learns fast around here!

After pictures in the yard, we headed to school. Dean was SUPER excited, but he didn't carry his backpack the whole way. I really don't blame him - it's kind of big and it was pretty heavy for such a little guy, with a towel, a change of clothes, his close-toed shoes, a snack and a full water bottle all inside! We made him carry it a little ways, then Joel carried it until we got to the school and then Dean had to carry it the rest of the way to class.

Once we got to the school, we found the little Honu (turtle) painted on the sidewalk, which is where Mrs. Smith's (Dean's teacher) class had been instructed to line up in the mornings. All of the children were waiting along with a lot of anxious-looking parents! Dean got to meet Mrs. Smith, although he didn't have much to say to her before school while Joel and I were still there. Right at 7:45, Mrs. Smith told us we needed to say good-bye and for the children to follow her and they all lined up and followed her into the building to go to Kindergarten! This was the first time Dean seemed a little anxious. He gave me a hug and even gave Joel a kiss and he looked really scared - there were A LOT of people there and it probably seemed really chaotic to him (it definitely did to me!). But even though I could tell he was scared, he didn't complain at all, he lined right up and followed his teacher right into the building. It was so hard to watch him go!! I think I did a pretty good job of holding myself together, but I was emotional.

Today was just a half day and I took off work for the day, knowing I would probably be a mess most of the day and I wanted to be there to take Dean to school and pick him up. So I walked back to school at noon to pick him up. He came out of the building with his class with a HUGE smile on his face, ran up to me and gave me a big hug and told me how much fun he had! The first thing he told me was that they have a class pet and it's a turtle, but he didn't know what it's name is. We said good-bye to Mrs. Smith and headed home. He chattered cheerfully the whole way home. He told me he met lots of new friends, but he couldn't remember all of their names. He said he drew and colored his name for his cubby and something about his cubby being a chair (I'm not really sure what that means, but maybe the chairs have baskets on the backs of them that hold their things?) He also talked a lot about lunchtime, which was in the cafeteria. He said they ate Spaghetti and meatballs, bread, "leaves" (aka salad), pineapple, and chocolate milk. I asked him if he ate everything and he said "not really. I drank all of my chocolate milk and ate all of my pineapple and maybe about 20 bites of spaghetti". I'm not sure I believe the 20 bites bit, but we'll see. He definitely wasn't starving when he got home, so he must have eaten something! When I asked him later what his favorite part of kindergarten was he said it was the chocolate milk! Then he said "No, it's 2 things. Number 1 is the chocolate milk and number 2 is my new friends". He's so cute! I'm just so glad that he's excited about school and learning and that he had so much fun.

I also wanted to let our families know that his teacher, Mrs. Smith, has a Class Blog - which of course I absolutely LOVE. She will be updating it throughout the year with photos, classroom updates and other cool stuff that's going on with Dean's class. It might be fun to check out periodically throughout the year (I'll try to let you know when she posts something really cool). There's not much there yet other than a welcome picture, but I'm very excited about this!! HERE is the link. We're very excited about Mrs. Smith - she is young and excited about teaching and seems to have a lot of energy. We spoke to her briefly after Parent Orientation and she remembered Dean from assessments last week (she is the teacher who administered his assessment). We talked a bit about where Dean is academically and I feel really good for now - mostly just that she is aware of the situation and is going to try to work with him a bit, maybe giving him a little bit of extra work that's a little more advanced so that he doesn't get bored. I'm not worried about things right now. I think that at this age, most of the learning is so fun that he really won't be too bored yet. But the main thing is that Mrs. Smith seems really cool and open and we like her!!

Overall I think we're headed into a really fun and exciting time for Dean and I'm so happy that he's happy about this!!

And for documentation purposes, here is the Pomaika'i Kindergarten Daily Schedule:
7:45-8:00 - Morning Routine, Attendance
8:00-9:30 - Language Arts - We follow the Harcourt "Story Town" Series, though this curriculum may be revived when necessary
9:30-9:45 - Recess - Juice and snack (from home) can be consumed in the cafeteria during the first 10 minutes of recess
9:50-10:00 - Restroom
10:00-10:45 - Math - We follow the Pearson / Scott Foresman Program called "Investigations"
10:45-11:15 - Lunch
11:15-11:30 - Recess
11:30-12:15 - Rest Time / Cool Down
12:15-1:00 - Social Studies / Science / P.E. - We follow the SPARK Program for PE
1:00-1:40 - Centers - This time allows for the children to practice in making choices, socializing, compromising, and in other words, practicing skills that they will need to become successful, happy adults (somewhere way down the road)
1:40-1:50 - Clean Up
1:50-2:00 - Closing Activities
2:00 - Dismissal
*Reminder - Visual Art, Music, Drama and Dance are incorporated into all curricular areas as Pomaika'i is an Arts-Integrated School.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Week in the Life - Day 2

Continuing in my Week in the Life project today (you can find my Day 1 Post HERE). I took plenty photos today but wasn't as good at writing down the details as I was yesterday, however I think I got enough to get a nice overview of our day and I will probably remember most of it as I type up this post...

A nice wholesome breakfast of Frosted Flakes at 7:00 a.m. after seeing Joel off to the gym and then work - played it safe after yesterday's egg debacle. (and yes, Dean's pajamas are pretty much just underwear).

Headed to Dean's first day of Kindergarten at Pomaika'i Elementary School. Technically, today was just assessments, but as far as Dean was concerned it was the first day of Kindergarten. He was SO excited (and full of fake smiles for the camera). We're really excited about Dean's school, which is the only Arts-Integrated public school in the state of Hawaii. If you're interested, you can watch a short video about the school and it's Arts-Integrated program HERE. The only bad news of the day was finding out the kids have to wear close-toed shoes to play on the playground at recess!! (BAD news as Dean does NOT like to wear shoes!) - but they don't have to wear shoes inside the classroom. We were told most of the kids wear their slippers (flip flops for you mainlanders) to school, take them off at the classroom door, bring a pair of tennis shoes in their backpack to change into at recess, then change back to their slippers to take back off at the classroom door! That will probably be our plan. I'm trying to figure out if Keens or Crocs will work for close-toed shoes??

The assessments seemed to go well, although Dean didn't tell me much about it other than he had fun. He was excited to see his friend Sienna. He played with her a bit before the teachers came to collect the 7 kids in our assessment session to take them to a classroom separate from the parents' waiting area for their assessments. When the teachers came into where we were waiting with the kids playing, they said "Ok friends, say goodbye to your Mommies and Daddies and come with us, we're going to go play in another classroom". Some of the other kids ran to their parents and didn't want to leave, others waved and looked apprehensive. Dean didn't even look my way - couldn't even spare me a glance, let alone a wave goodbye. He took off for the door and happily went with the teachers, no hesitation at all! It was a proud but somewhat bittersweet moment!! I'm really glad he's so excited!! While he was in his assessment, the parents received information about kindergarten, lots of paperwork and schedules, and were able to ask questions of one of the PTSA board members and the school's Parent-Community Facilitator. It was very helpful. Here is Dean playing nicely with Sienna in one of the classrooms.

We stopped by the school office after the assessments to pay for school lunches and to pick up his school supplies, which I opted to order from Akamai School Supplies. I'm sure I ended up paying a bit more than if I had purchased the items myself, but it was completely hassle-free and the company donates 10% of the cost to the school. The school told us that they raised almost $800 this year through Akamai! The company delivered the box of supplies to the school office and we picked them up today and will take them with us to Parent Orientation next Monday when we get his class assignment. I'll definitely be doing this again in the future!

The assessment took a little over an hour and then we had a few errands to run (I had taken the day off of work so we could make it a special day). I had told Dean that we would go out for a treat after school to celebrate and we could get any treat he wanted (within reason). He chose Krispy Kreme, so Krispy Kreme it was!

After our treat, Dean had some independent arts and crafts time at the dining room table. He made a "Puzzle Picture" - I'm not sure if this is something he learned to do at preschool or if he just made it up, but I was impressed.

While Dean was occupied with his craftiness, I got busy in his room and started clearing out some things that I knew he wouldn't miss if we got rid of them (toys mostly). I got everything reorganized, including his closet, and filled up a large box with "Garage Sale" items.

Yesterday I spent some time revamping our My Job Chart page (this is a website we use for tracking daily "chores" and rewards with Dean. It's a great site and it's helped A LOT) and we implemented our new "system" today. Dean has been wanting to spend WAY too much time on the computer and playing computer games. He really mostly plays just educational games, but still - there needed to be some defined boundaries set as school was starting. So Dean now has not only some well-defined limits to both computer and TV time, but he has to "earn" that time through the accumulation of points on My Job Chart. When he wants some computer or TV time, he logs onto My Job Chart and has to "spend" some of his accumulated points. We think this is teaching him several valuable lessons including time management, accountability, and even some math skills in the addition and subtraction of the points (we set up the point value for different "chores" and how much it "costs" for the computer and TV time). He also has the option to bank his points and redeem them for money, so it teaches him some early money management skills too. And as a 4.5-yr-old, most of his "chores" are pretty basic - he gets points for things like brushing his teeth without arguing, eating a serving of vegetables (always an issue with Dean), helping put his laundry away, feeding the cats, clearing the table, and the big one is that he gets a large number of points when he reads a book out loud to us (in fact, right now reading a book out loud to us equals 10 minutes of computer time). Dean is able to read chapter books now, so he quickly figured out to pick the easiest books in his stash that he can read the quickest. He's been picking books that are not at all challenging for him, but that's fine. The point is that he's reading out loud every day (and we spend a few minutes after talking about the story to make sure he's comprehending). He can accumulate as many points as he wants in a day, but for now we're putting a limit of 30 minutes of educational computer or TV time per day during the week. He can have a little more than this on the weekends or holidays. We're not really sure how this will work or if 30 minutes is the right amount, but we'll try it and tweak it if we need to. He does still love to play outside and is super active, but he just doesn't really play with toys or seem to PLAY inside. We're wanting to encourage more DOING even when he's inside (getting him outside isn't a problem right now, which is good, but we want to keep it that way). So anyway, I wasn't planning on all of that detail in this post, but oh well. Here he is earning some points by reading one of his easier Diego books to me, and then he did spend some points today and played for 15 minutes on

After Joel got home from work, we moved some of the furniture around in Dean's room so it's ready to go when his desk arrives (hopefully later this week). The desk will go basically where the train table is (that's the black table thing on the right side of the photo. We have the table top turned upside down as Dean mostly uses it as a table to do arts and crafts on right now). It doesn't look like it in the picture, but there's lots of room on the other side of the bed between it and the wall system and there should be plenty of space between the desk and the bed as well. I think this setup with work really nicely. We'll move the train table out of the room when the desk arrives. Dean seemed to like the new arrangement and played and read in his room until it was time to eat dinner.

After dinner and bath, Dean brushed teeth and got ready for bed. We're also working on a more regular bedtime and evening routine now that school is starting - we've strayed a bit over the summer.

We're shooting for an 8:00 bedtime on school nights. We almost made it tonight. Dean was in his bed by 8:15, ready for stories (even though he can read perfectly well, we still read to him almost every night before bed).

Once Dean was settled in bed for the night, Joel and I kicked our feet up on the couch to enjoy a little Daily Show with Jon Stewart to end the day.