Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New addiction: knitting

A friend kindly introduced me to knitting last week. She forgot to tell me that this activity can be highly addictive! I cannot stop now! She showed me how to do the most basic stitch, and to learn more, I went to YouTube, of course, to watch knitting videos! The ones by cyberseams.com are great. Just go to YouTube.com and search "how to knit." Start with the basic stitch video -- you can do an entire scarf with what you learn from there. I've already finished two scarves and am a quarter of the way through another. I don't have the most beautiful stitch going yet and I get tangled up sometimes, literally, but I keep going -- keep plowing through. So, my scarves don't look perfect, but they're so fun to do and I'm getting better and better as I slowly figure out the nuances of knitting on my own. Maybe I'll get some photos up sometime.

Play school

The weather's been glorious here! This past Sunday, Maylin and I had a "homeschool" morning -- her idea! We had a gardening "class" (planted our avocado trees which we had started from fresh pits in early September), cooking "class" (she helped me make a puffed apple pancake for brunch), she did some phonics and spelling in her BrainQuest workbook, we played a couple impromptu games with some addition flashcards, and then spent hours on the playground across the street (and made a couple new friends!). I can't think of a more fun day with Maylin. She's so enthusiastic about learning! I don't want to miss a minute of it!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A new beginning for America

That was the most exciting election ever! The Armitage family is very happy about the results -- what a turning point for America. I was surprised by how calm and serious Obama was when giving his speech in Chicago. No giddiness, not as many smiles as I would have expected. I guess, in the state our country is in, you can't celebrate for too long. There's so much work to be done, and he must have already felt the weight of all that on his shoulders.

I woke up half expecting the world to look different outside, but no, it looked the same. To me though, something feels different. I feel hopeful that America will get its priorities straight and move forward towards a better future.

P.S. McCain gave a very nice speech in Arizona. He showed excellent sportsmanship -- I actually felt sorry for him. The world would have been a different place if he had won the Republic nomination in 2000.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Egads: the horrors of shopping for a preschool

I don't know if people have this problem outside of Berkeley, but the preschools here are either really expensive, have hardly any structure (not much different from a daycare), or both. And the waitlists for the expensive ones are really long. Some people recommend signing up your child while s/he is in utero. I'm even thinking of starting my own neighborhood pre-school co-op. I can do just about everything the expensive schools offer. Teach music, art, science, letter recognition and writing...but I don't have chickens in the backyard for egg collection (yes, one school has chickens!). But then, maybe I might be willing to pay someone to do what I can do just so I can have some time to myself. Because really, do I want to take care of four or five little children besides my own? Elementary school-age, no problem. But preschool age is a whole different ballgame.

Maylin went to public preschool in France, and boy, was that easy. It was easy because we didn't have a choice. You were assigned a school in your neighborhood, assigned a teacher...the only choice I had to make was whether or not she would get a school lunch. Plus, the quality of preschool education there is excellent. By American standards, it would be considered too structured, but it was just perfect for Maylin who was ready for it. Kids are never too young to learn some discipline and be orderly. Of course, give kids time to play and explore, but let them learn how to sit quietly in a seat and work, if only for a few minutes. They have the capacity to learn! The transition to kindergarten will be so much easier, especially for boys who tend to be the ones who can't sit still.