Sunday, October 30, 2011

Artist at work

Katie works on a PTA Reflections entry. In these photos she's blending pastels with a sponge to create a grassy hill.

Before church this morning

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's not too late to scale back

From yesterday's Briefing:

My favorite childhood party was in 1979.
The entire first-grade class of Walnut Hill Elementary was invited. All the kids piled into the back of my dad’s red pickup truck, and we all spilled out at a small North Dallas park, where we ran around and played Red Rover and ate cake to celebrate my seventh birthday.
That party was better than ice cream at Swensen’s or rides at Penny Whistle Park. I didn’t need anything complicated — just time with friends.
The birthday party scene has grown up since then. I can’t count the number of times I’ve taken my children to Pump It Up, Main Event, Strikz, Chuck E. Cheese or one of a handful of gymnastics centers for a friend’s celebration.
I do know that all of those parties add up to thousands of dollars spent to entertain little kids. To make them feel special.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Yee haw

It's Red Ribbon Week at school, which means there's been a special theme day each day this week -- camo day, jersey day, red day and today's Western day.

Cooper and Katie are lobbying big time to return to Rainbow Trout Ranch this summer. (Well, there and Hawaii. Dream big, right?) They loved living the cowboy life in the summer of 2010, and they're eager to re-create it anyway they can -- even if it's just wearing boots and hats to school.

Couple a cowpokes doin' some homework

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lunchroom visit shows how far kids have come

From today's Briefing:

This school year is a series of lasts in our family.
It’s Cooper’s sixth and final year in grade school. We’ve already conquered his last meet-the-teacher night and last first day of elementary school, a cozy place where everybody knows your name.
As more last moments pile up, I’m feeling particularly sentimental.
Thankfully, I’ve got the perfect antidote in Katie, who still has almost five full years of elementary school. Cooper will be moving on to lockers and electives and a long list of teachers and a whole bunch of new students, but Katie still has years of cubbies and rotating specials and one classroom teacher and a smaller circle of friends.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy ending

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Cooper's attempt to become Student Council treasurer. And his attempt the following week to become class representative.

Here's the speech he wrote and delivered to his classmates.

Hello, my name is Cooper Damm, and as you probably know I am running for class representative.

As one of my favorite presidents, Abraham Lincoln, said “I do the very best I know how, the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”

I am trustworthy, loyal, kind, smart, and I never give up. I work well with others without arguing. I am creative. We can make Bledsoe even better by working for better soccer goals, better art supplies and better school supplies.

I will listen to the ideas of you, the students, to represent Mr. Jensen’s class. And I will cooperate with the board to help make your ideas a reality.

Thank you for letting me get up here and speak and please vote for me.

His perseverance paid off. His classmates elected him one of two class representatives to Student Council, and last week he was inducted in front of the whole school.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Impolite world makes it tougher to teach civility

From today's Briefing:

I feel like we’re living through a civility crisis.
Too many of us are talking when we should be quiet. Not enough of us are listening.
I’m not targeting politicians and the people who analyze them on television, though they could certainly use a scolding, too. I’m talking about us regular people. Folks who have forgotten the good manners they were taught at home — or perhaps never got the lesson.
There was no school Monday. A lot of families spent the day at the State Fair of Texas or the Ballpark inArlington. Everyone else, it seemed, was at the movies with me, my daughter and her friend. The three of us were lucky to find seats together, and we tried to not grumble as we squeezed into the second row, contorting our bodies and especially our necks in awkward positions in order to watch Dolphin Tale.
The movie had barely begun when a real-life drama broke out in the row behind us. A small child began to cry. Another child began to chatter.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

First-grade Katie

Katie is wearing glasses now, to correct her slight nearsightedness. (Special thanks to teacher Kelly Starnes, who noticed that Katie was having trouble reading the board during class.)

She chose the frames by herself -- they suit her very well! She takes excellent care of her glasses. Last week she asked to go to Nurse Morris' office twice -- both times because there were smudges on the lenses. When Nurse Morris offered to clean them with a tissue, Katie insisted that she stop and use "the special cleaning cloth." (We have since discussed that it's not necessary to clean smudges every single time they appear. And Katie's packing a "special cleaning cloth" in her bag each day.)

Yesterday was parent-teacher conference day. Katie's classroom teacher, Shannon Gallant, shared this writing and art sample.

From left: Katie, Margie, me (wearing green, my favorite color, and saying "let's go to Nana Yogurt") and Cooper

Text translation:
"I love my mommy. She is nice. I go to Nana Yogurt. I watch a lot of TV. My brother is Cooper."

My notes:
"I watch a lot of TV" makes me laugh -- I'm always certain that Cooper and Katie feel like they don't watch enough TV.

A giant M for the University of Michigan, in honor of Steve 

"My daddy died. He was so nice. My dog is a Scottie. I love my family. My dog barks a lot. I love writing."

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Before church today

Cooper and Katie couldn't sit down this morning. The bench was too wet from much-needed rain.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Living with highs and lows of elections

From today's Briefing:

Fifth-grade election season is tense. And mercifully short.
At our elementary school, only fifth-graders are allowed to run for student council offices: president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. They are elected by fifth- and fourth-graders.
To be eligible to run, a student must receive permission from all five grade-level teachers and turn in a written speech in advance. Two posters of a prescribed size are posted on a Monday, followed by speeches and voting that Friday.
Cooper and 43 of his fellow fifth-graders summoned the courage to enter the election. My son was among 15 candidates for treasurer.
Our kitchen table became campaign headquarters. Cooper drafted a succinct speech, extolling his trustworthiness and ideas for raising and spending money. Together we crafted posters with catchy slogans, friendly-yet-serious photos of the candidate and colorful-yet-tasteful borders.