Thursday, January 28, 2016

End of year interviews

Since we were in Florida at the end of the year, I forgot to do my end of year interviews with the kids.  For some reason, I remembered today and conducted them. 

NOAH (whose whole attitude is, “Let's get this over with”)

What is your favorite memory so far?
The time in Chicago when we took a walk by the fountains.
Why do you like that one so much?
I liked finding the secret passageway back to the hotel.

What is something you couldn't do before but now you can?
I can touch that basement rafter.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A physical therapist?

Do you think it's possible to change the world?
Why not?
Too many people, too many different opinions for one person to do.

If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
Probably on a cruise to Alaska, or somewhere like that, because I don't like hot weather.

What is your favorite book?
Last Shot by John Feinstein

If you had a pet dragon, what would you name it?
Noah: What color is it?
Me: Orange.
Noah: Big or little?
Me: Big.
Noah: Something to do with fire maybe, because it's orange. I don't really know what I'd name a dragon. I might call him Halitosis, because he has fire breath.

Describe yourself in one word.

If you lived in space, what would you miss on Earth?
Probably real food, because they eat freeze dried stuff.

If you were a teacher and could teach your students anything, what would you teach them?
[After much deliberation] Probably how to build stuff and fix stuff.

What was the best part of 2015?
The cruise was the best part, obviously.
[I offered him the opportunity to speak freely at the end of my list of questions. He declined.]

SARAH (whose whole attitude is, “Oh my gosh I'm on camera! I love being the center of attention!)
What is your favorite memory so far?
My first gymnastics meet.

What is something you couldn't do before but now you can?
My round off back handspring, and my aerialA bunch of gymnastics moves, basically.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I have a list of things: a baker, a hairstylist, a home designer (like a decorator), an artist, an actor, a movie writer, oh my goodness the list goes on and on.

Do you think it's possible to change the world?
Like when I grow up, I want to become the first female grand master. IF gymnastics doesn't take over my life. Which it probably will.

If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
I know this really isn't an option, but I would go inside a TV for vacation. Lots of things you can do inside a TV.

What is your favorite book?
I like a bunch. Harry Potter, Clementine, The Benedict Society, Phantom Tollbooth, all the Middle Schools, I Funny, and just recently, Good Call. Oh, and all the Ramonas! I forgot about those. I like a lot of books.
Do you like Beverly Clearly or James Patterson better?
Ooooh, that's a hard one. I like James Patterson better, because it's very versatile for a bunch of kids and it has perspectives from girls' and boys' view from junior high.

If you had a pet dragon, what would you name it?
[without hesitation] Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback. Yes! Yes.

Describe yourself in one word.

If you lived in space, what would you miss on Earth?
My house and everything in it. Not my house, the contents of it. And probably gymnastics too.
[At this point we had a side discussion about the possibilities of gymnastics in space.]

If you were a teacher and could teach your students anything, what would you teach them?
What not to do during life. How to have a good life. A good life class. Everything I missed during my life and what I would revise if I had to redo my life as a child.

What was the best part of 2015?
That's a hard one. Probably the cruise. I'd probably say the cruise. Or my birthday.

[At this point, my battery died, but I offered her the opportunity to speak freely, and she did, for quite some time. One gem of hers that I wrote down was, “Live life to the fullest because you only get to live life once.”]

Saturday, January 23, 2016

And a little child shall lead them

I saw that the library was having a knitting class and thought it would be something Sarah and I could do together.   It was advertised for ages twelve and up, and since Sarah is only eleven, I called the library and asked for special permission to bring her and was told I could.

Today was the class.  The teacher started demonstrating and talking, and I felt lost, as I always do at these kinds of things.  I'm not good at or interested in crafts and handiwork. But my Sarah was obviously hanging on every word and picked it right up with no trouble at all. Soon she had half a scarf knitted while I was still trying to figure out how to make a slipknot.

Somehow I got my yarn ball tangled up on the rungs of my chair, so I was bent over trying to untangle that for a good five minutes.  When I came back up, with all the blood having rushed to my head to pound around in there, I saw a crowd of adults gathered around my daughter.  She was patiently, confidently teaching them how to knit. She ended up going around kneeling in front of those who asked for help, which was most of the class.
Not for the first time, I was proud and in awe of her.  Several of our classmates told me that she has a natural crafting ability and a great affinity for teaching.  Despite Sarah's repeated efforts, I never did catch on and ended up with a lump of twisted yarn tied around my neck, but most people took home beautiful hand-knitted scarves. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The magic died

Today I found out that my first teacher, Mrs. Lillian Burnett, died.  The main thing I remember about her class was the letter people.  She had this set of inflatable people with a different letter on each one.  On the day she was going to reveal that day's letter, Mrs. Burnett would have us put our heads down, close our eyes, and chant, "I believe in magic" as she huffed and puffed and blew up the letter person. The first time, I obeyed like everyone else, and when the teacher told us to open our eyes, the letter person had "magically" appeared. 

Even as a six-year-old, I was a skeptic.  I didn't believe in magic, even though I had obediently chanted along with everyone else.  The next time a letter person was to appear, I put my head down with everyone else, but I did not chant, and I did not close my eyes.  I peeked out from under my squinted eyelids and watched Mrs. Burnett blowing up the limp, wrinkled blob until it became the letter B. Then she announced that we could open our eyes, and everyone was amazed.  Then we got to go forward and trace the letter with our finger and say the sound it made. 

Mrs. Burnett was a jolly, loving, fun lady.  Perfect for a kindergarten teacher.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Power outage

We were in school when the power went out this morning.  We didn't even notice, because we were involved in a project that didn't require electricity, and it's a bright, sunny day.  I was vaguely aware that the house seemed unusually quiet, but didn't give it any thought.  Sarah discovered at some point that the power was off, so we went into conservation mode. It was already starting to feel cold in here. 
 I wouldn't let anyone open the fridge, so we had jerky for lunch.
The freezer was off limits too, so Noah went outside to gather snow to use for ice. That let in a lot of cold air, so I told him no more trips outside either. It's amazing how so much changes without electricity, and all the things we take for granted. Thankfully it's back on now.


We did a big fingerprint project in school today.  First we read this book, which every adoptive family should read:
Then we talked a lot about fingerprints, uniqueness, birth parents, whorls, loops, and arches.  We looked at this wonderful book for inpiration:
And then we made fingerprint creatures.  I remember enjoying making those when I was a kid.

Noah's afro guy

 Noah's fingerprints around his stamp with his Korean name on it.

 Sarah's making a fingerprint bird.

The paper towel we used to wipe the ink off our fingers.

 Shadow got involved and made a furry blurry pawprint.
Sarah even made a family out of her toeprints.

First day back

Today is our first day back to school after vacation. We're reading The Phantom Tollbooth, which is a clever little book.  While we were reading about the cities of Digitopolis and Dictionopolis, the kids thought we should make alphanumeric cookies.  They know I'm a sucker for including food in school.  The kitchen is a great classroom. The recipe provided the first good lesson. I had Sarah read it and figure out what was wrong with it and propose possible solutions.
It didn't take her long to spot it.  "Well how much flour are we supposed to put in?  Hmm...I guess we could just add flour 1/4 cup at a time until it looks like the right texture." We consulted other sugar cookie recipes to compare and figured it would probably need about 2 cups of flour. I made them do math while the dough chilled.
Sarah put the cookie cutters in alphabetical order.

 Noah cut a few too, but I didn't get a picture of him. He was mostly stuck on math, of which he apparently forgot a lot during break.
Sarah frosted them and brought me a plate.