Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nervous about teacher meeting

Athena takes her time at everything she does.  It can often be really frustrating because she can hold everyone up as we wait for her to get moving along.  Being slow, and meticulous has been a trait of hers ever since she has been able to do anything for herself.  It can be quite frustrating, but it's something that, as her parent, I have learned to deal with.
She takes this behavior to school with her work.  She takes longer than the other children to finish her assignments.  Her teacher has a policy that the kids cannot participate in free play until they have finished their work.  For Athena, this pretty much rules at free play for her.  This is something she has brought up as a concern for her, and as a result has concerned me.  Studies are consistent in showing that free play is a very important part of a child's social, physical, and educational health.  Many schools have started increasing the amount of free time their children receive, and have been showing increases in good behavior and in test scores.
Last night Athena drew a picture on her homework for Kim.  It was Athena sitting at a table by herself, with children running around the table playing.  Kim said it broke her heart, and it did the same to me when she told me about it.
I had expressed concern over this before to Kim and told her I wanted to meet with the teacher about this.  Kim has cautioned me about this.  I think, as a teacher, she understands how difficult it can be for teachers to be bombarded with parents who think they know her job better than she does.  She talked me out of it.

Today I e-mailed the teacher telling her that I would like to meet with her.  I think Athena's teachers is one of the more strict teachers.  She is also one of the oldest, meaning she has older fashioned views on education.
I understand that the teacher is trying to teach Athena how to complete work on time, and is also trying to stress the importance of completing work.  However, I think there are three major problems.
The first is that after months of using the technique of withholding free time, Athena continues to be slow and meticulous, going over every detail of her work.  The teacher's strategy is clearly ineffective at reaching the desired goal.  I can't imagine how continuing a failed strategy is helpful to anyone.
The second is that Athena is already very studious.  She loves learning and education.  She is always eager to learn new things.  She isn't lacking in education or studies.  Education is part of the culture of our household.  What she doesn't have enough of is play time with friends.  Removing free play with peers her age to make time for make studies serves no purpose.  She is being given extra time of something she is already immersed in, and taken away time for something she is not getting enough of.
Third, Athena's behavior of a slow meticulous worker is not necessarily bad.  In many ways I think she inherits much of that trait from me.  When other people prefer to quickly do something in a sloppy manner, I prefer to take my time out to do things right.  When we do homework with Athena was can sometimes get frustrated.  If her homework is to color in a picture, she will make each part of the picture a different color, and she has very specific reasons why something must be a certain color.  She will go real slow to make sure that she doesn't go out of the lines.  If she messes up she will often get really upset and feel that the whole thing is ruined.  This is just the person she is, and I don't think any amount of work is going to change it.
So anyways.  I'm pretty nervous about this meeting.  I don't like going to people and telling them they are doing their job wrong and they need to do things my way.  I don't expect her to receive what I have to say very well, and I expect that the meeting will ultimately be unproductive.  I hope I'm wrong.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Get ready West Coast.

Kim and I are planning a trip to the west coast this summer.  We are going to start by dropping the kids off at Kim's parents in Sacrament and then camp at Yosemite Park.
Initially I just thought this would be cool, but as I look into the logistics of camping at Yosemite I'm realizing that it is: 1) More difficult to figure out how camping there works, and 2) Going to be completely amazing.  Of the thirteen camp grounds they have, seven will be open at the time we are planning to arrive (June 12th.) Of those seven, five take reservations.  Having a reservation is a must as I don't plan on showing up, only to realize all sites have been taken.
I'm having a difficult time picking the one that most interests me.  Ideally the one that has the fewer amenities and are the more secluded.  To me, the best camping is running out in the woods with a backpack, shovel and roll of toilet paper.  We won't be going quite that far, but I'd prefer to not be camping next to a Winnebago if I can help it.
The website warns that camp sites get reserved in minutes after reservations go live.  The earliest time to reserve for the time period we will be there is January 15th, so I've marked my calendar and asked Google to send me e-mail reminder the day before and day off reservations.
After Yosemite Kim will go to her parents and I'm going to Seattle to spend a few days with my friend Michael Bassage-Glock.  I haven't actually called him yet to tell him, but I think I'll be getting on that soon.  I'd really like to take the train up there, but I'm afraid the trip might be crazy long and may just opt for flying if I have to. Actually I just checked and it appears that if I leave on the 17th at 12pm (their only departure to Seattle), then I will arrive at 9pm the next day, so the train might not be the best option.
After a return to Seattle, at some point the whole family will make our way down to Apple Valley, CA to visit with my dad.
In all, this summer trip should rock harder than most anything I've ever done.  I'm quite looking forward to it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Saint George Island

Kim' parents came to town last weekend with a reserved vacation house at Saint George Island.  Saturday, December 26th, we stayed our first night.
I was scheduled to make dinner that night, but a lot of hiccups blew my plans of making veggie stir-fry.  I had to settle for broccoli and rice, which wasn't all that great.
Sunday I went back home because I had to work.  I was supposed to get an application released to Beta before the new years, but we didn't quite get that done.  I was still able to get Thursday off, and Thursday a little after noon I drove back over to the island.
When I got there everyone was crowded in the TV room playing Wii Fit.  Athena and Arianna gave me great big hugs.  Apparently, while I was gone Arianna was a stinker, and Kim was looking forward to passing off Arianna's behavior problems to me.  However, she was very good the whole rest of the time I was there.

About an hour after I arrived Scott's parents showed up too.  Kim and I had a long walk down the beach with Mike, Scott's dad.  We had a lot to talk about and it was very pleasant.  His parents are extremely nice, and even though it was the first time for all of us meeting them, they fit right in.
Apparently Scott's dad was excited that there were men there as he was looking forward to watching the game, however none of the men there where into football.  I was playing Wii with the girls when he walked into the TV room and said, "Who's into football."  We just kind of looked blankly at him and he realized that football wasn't going to happen and walked off kind dissapointed.. Kim mentioned to Athena that we would need to turn the Wii off soon so that he could watch football.  I told Kim that nobody ever turned off football so I could play Wii, so I wasn't going to turn off the Wii so others could watch football.

When I laid Arianna down to bed that Thursday night, a task that had apparently been hellish throughout the week, I got her to lay right down without any problems and she went to sleep.  I took the opportunity to revel in my own glory for the rest of the night.
On New Years night I went up to Harry A's Bar with Scott, Katie, Annmarie and Tyson.  I was the designated driver since I don't really drink anyhow.
When we go there Rob and Dawn, Sue's son and his wife, had been there quite a while and had reserved us a little corner at the bar.  On the TV was some car and motorcycle trick-show.  Right before countdown they struggled to find the New York ball-drop, but found it too late so there was no real countdown.
Later we headed home with plans to hang out by the pool, which where cast aside as people's desire to sleep overtook a night of hanging out.  When it was finally just Scott and I we decided to just turn in as well.
Friday, Steve showed me where I could get some good oysters for cheap.  I got about thirty oysters for seven bucks.  Back at the house I ate those up raw.  We had some really good hot sauce Kim picked up for me in Saint Augustine a few months ago.  Some people were not into eating raw Oysters so Scott and I grilled the rest.
That night Annmarie and Tyson made burritos with a little bit of everything else that had not been cooked yet. It was a good dinner for our final night, and I finished it off with the last of the uneaten oysters.
I think it was Friday night, but during that weekend Katie and Scott agreed to get married, which meant Chris was on cloud nine for the rest of the time.
This morning we all woke up and through all our stuff in the car.  Kim followed me over the bridge and we ate at a little diner off of highway 98.  The food was good and the people where real nice.

Kim drove home and I picked up a half-bushel of oysters.  I tried two places to find a non-Styrofoam cooler, but nobody had what I wanted.  I ended up taking the bags off of the roof of the VW and putting the oysters up there.
Right before the Wakulla River I picked up two hitch-hikers.  They where on their way to the flea market.  I dropped them off at a friends house that is about two-miles from my neighborhood.
Back at home Kim and I unloaded everything and then took a nap.  When we got back up we put away more of our stuff.  I finally fixed a leaky water-faucet outside.  Then we headed up to Sue's for dinner with Chris and Steve.  We had pizza and Sue and I dined on some of the oysters.
Athena's ear had been bothering her that night.  During the toast to Katie and Scott, Athena was crying because her ear was hurting so bad.  I loaded her up while Kim said he goodbyes and we headed home.
Steve leaves for California very early in the morning, but Chris will be here until Wednesday.