When Doodle was in first grade, I hosted a Halloween party for her and her friends. On Sunday, the tradition continued, with Tootle and 12 of her friends. At Doodle's party we made life size hay scarecrows. Fun, but messy. Tootle's party was not quite as ambitious but still packed with activities. First I took a picture of each girl in costume and then had them decorate a wooden frame in which I slipped the picture before they left (the joys of photo printers). Next they made a cute candy corn craft. And then I was crazy enough to have them make gak. After that, I sent them outside to wrap each other up as mummies. This was followed up by a pinata and a treasure hunt, adding up to two hours of nonstop shrieking, laughter, and fun. Tootle is Padme from Star Wars. I am still finding feathers from two of the party guests' cat costumes all over the house. We also had two High School Musical characters, a mouse, Hannah Montana, Princess Fiona from Shrek, two witches, a Washington Redskin, and my personal favorite, a flamenco dancer.
Doodle's soccer team ended their season with a win in the rain. It wasn't just rainy; it was windy too. The girls look like drowned rats in the team photo, but they are all smiling. 3-2-3 isn't bad for a first season of more competitive play. They had the top defense in their division, only allowing their opponents to score 5 goals. Doodle has stepped up her game in the past few weeks, especially as a defender. Today her coach told her that nothing gets by her, and it's true. She may be small, but she's mighty.
Last weekend Tootle spent hours writing a book about a bunny and his birthday. Here is the first page. Notice something a little different about this book? Yes, you have to read from the bottom to the top of the page. Every page of the 12-page book is like this. I guess years of being read to has no effect when you have a creative mind.
Even though Tootle spoke Chinese at a preschool level when we met her, once Tootle learned enough English to communicate with us, she emphatically refused to speak Chinese. She wouldn't listen to my friends/neighbors who tried to speak to her in Chinese. Despite my efforts to assure her that it was OK, even desirable, to retain her Chinese, she seemed to need to let it go in order to feel secure/fit in with us. This made me sad, but I gently encouraged rather than pushed her, aware that her secure attachment to us was more important than retaining a language.
After picking up a friend at an after school Chinese class last year, Tootle expressed interest in the class, but it was far too late to join in. This year she is part of the class, and this week she had her first lesson. She was so excited to share the words for teacher, here, goodbye, etc. She seemed a bit surprised that I knew most of these words too, and I explained that I had taken classes before traveling to China to bring her and her sister home. (I'm not sure why she was surprised: she already knew that I could say hello, how are you, I love you, I am your mom/sister, little sister, big sister, numbers from 1-10, etc.) I can't wait until she is able to teach me some words that I don't know, and I know that her tones will be far superior to mine. This is a pretty basic class that only meets for one hour a week, but it is an important baby step for Tootle.
My girls are being much better prepared for the work world and adult life in general than I was as a kid. They are being taught to freely share their ideas and value teamwork.
Doodle has been giving presentations in class since 1st grade, with a particular emphasis on presentation skills in 3rd and 4th grade. She is a skilled presenter, and I credit the early training for that. Her class has weekly meeting where they troubleshoot problems and share ideas. Last Friday Doodle and her Girl Scout troop went to a high adventure facility to do a little teambuilding and have some fun. I took the day off work and tagged along. It was fascinating to watch the girls solve problems and learn some concrete life lessons.
They started by dividing into two groups who went to either side of a wide wooden seesaw. They had to move to the other side without letting the seesaw touch the ground. After a few failures, the girls started to work as a team, with a few of the girls holding the seesaw to keep it from reaching the ground. That helped, but the teams still failed to cross the seesaw. The first two to make it successfully across were Doodle and her BFF/soccer teammate. I wasn't surprised that they succeeded because they held the key: they communicated as they crossed, moving slowly and ensuring that they were in sync. After that, everyone started to communicate better and to ace the challenge. Next the girls had to swing by a rope to the side that they started on. The problem was that the rope was in the clearing between the two sides, unreachable by either team. The girls removed their jackets and started to tie them together so they could reach for the rope. I could tell that this wasn't going to work. A few of the jackets being tossed around didn't make it to their destination, instead landing on the wood chips. This gave the girls the idea of using the jackets as stepping stones, allowing them to reach the rope and complete the task, while shivering without their hoodies. To me this was the most interesting lesson of the day: sometimes our mistakes ultimately result in our greatest achievements.
The girls also got into harnesses and climbed high up in a tree and then rappelled down. They ended the day by getting back into the harness and being pulled with a rope high into the air by their teammates. Once they were as high as they wanted to go they pulled a release lever and went for the swing ride of their lives. In the photo below Doodle is just beginning to be pulled to dizzying heights. I think Doodle went the highest and the fastest; she is a total blur in my basically unusable pictures. But her huge smile is ingrained in my brain.
And the hot dogs and s'mores cooked over the camp fire weren't bad either.
Today we received a note from Doodle's homeroom teacher, thanking us for some book donations to the classroom. She wrote: "They will be a great edition to our classroom library." Ugh. Luckily, she only teaches science and math. I would be much more disturbed if the language arts teacher penned the note.
Tootle had a day of nonstop fun: going from her soccer game (they won again and Tootle scored 2 again), to a fun fair, to an evening birthday party. By the time I picked her up from the birthday party at 9 p.m., she was too tired to walk the block home so I had to give her a piggyback ride.
Doodle was a wee bit tired tonight as well. Her soccer team played a 30-minute scrimmage right after their game, extending their game time to the same length as the pros. She played goalie in the scrimmage and is proud that she hasn't been scored upon (even though she has only played that position three times). I get so nervous when she is the goalkeeper: she is so petite and skinny. Her team tied both the official game and the scrimmage. Their record is now 2-2-2.
The girls had a day off school yesterday, so I took a vacation day. We decided to drop off some toys and Halloween costumes the girls have outgrown at a local consignment store. This is my new strategy to clear out the old stuff; it seems like soccer season puts a serious crimp in my ability to have a yard sale. I have an appointment to take holiday dresses in later this month.
Anyway, Tootle spied a pair of Ugg boots in her size. She tried them on and loved them, so I bought them because they were about one fifth their original cost and in excellent condition ($18, originally $90). What I didn't think about as I whipped out my cash was Doodle's displeasure that they didn't have any in her size. She started scouring the Internet for a pair almost as soon as she got home. If we don't find a discounted pair at the consignment store or on e-Bay in the next month, I likely will be paying retail. I'll just have to justify it as spending $108 for two pair, or $54 a pair. It looks like a big chunk of my first check from the consignment shop will be going to Uggs.
During a water break at Doodle's soccer practice the other night, the girls talked politics. It appears that the whole team is in Obama's corner, so they decided to come up with a few anti-McCain slogans. Clearly McCain's age was on the girls' minds because this is what they came up with:
McCain Needs a Cane McCain is as Slow as an Old Train
I'm so saddened and frightened by the venomous campaign this week. I can't believe that Sarah Palin would listen to someone in the crowd shout "Kill him" and not say anything to calm down the frenzied masses. I'm beginning to think that this woman is made of stone. Any remaining admiration/respect that I had for John McCain is now gone. I love fall, especially October, but I want this one to be over fast and for the vipers to go away so this country can heal.
One of the topics at the dinner table tonight was the "junior sleepover" birthday party that Tootle is going to this weekend. The party is from 6-9 p.m. , and the kids will wear their pajamas and watch a movie. Nana remarked that she thinks the party guests will include some boys, and the conversation took off from there.
Tootle: I want to smell delightful for the party.
Me: Why? Because there will be boys at the party?
Her reaction to our fit of laughter was far short of delightful. Later Tootle told me that I must have missed some lessons when I was young since I didn't know that you should smell good for boys. I'm in so much trouble when she's a teenager.
Wherever Tootle is you will often find her stuffed guinea pig Bumblebee. Bumblebee went with her to the recent sleepover party. I wonder what the other girls, with their more traditional teddy bears and blankets, thought of the rather unique guinea pig.
Tootle spent Sunday afternoon at a friend's house, while Doodle practiced flute and piano before running some errands with me. As soon as the girls were together again, they dragged a sleeping bag and other assorted items outside and enjoyed each other's company and the late afternoon sunshine.
We were blessed with perfect weather for a weekend that was more dominated than usual by soccer. In addition to the Saturday games, Doodle also had a Sunday morning game, and we went to the DC United game on Saturday night. Doodle's team won a sportsmanship award for the spring 08 season, and they were rewarded with free tickets to the DC United game (as well as t-shirts and knit scarves). Tootle came along, and she was impressed by the power of the pros. A professional soccer game is like no other sporting event that I've been to: the fans wave massive flags with the team's colors and beat drums. Unfortunately DC United played horribly so there wasn't much to cheer about. Our free seats truly were nosebleed seats; Doodle woke up in the middle of the night with a bloody nose. She wouldn't believe me when I told her about "nosebleed seats" until I challenged her to google it.
Tootle's team continues to dominate their opponents. Doodle's team continues to play awesome defense and to struggle on offense. They split their games this weekend and remain in the middle of their division's standings.
As Doodle finished her homework while halfway tuned into the vice presidential debate, she paused and asked, "Did she just say 'you've got.' Isn't that ungrammatical?" Doodle would make a better editor than some of the people I work with. I wonder if her question would cause the McCain camp to label my daughter as an elitist.