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The fall weather here in Cameron Park has been wonderful. This last weekend, we got to one of the typical fall chores - raking up leaves.

And then, playing in them.

I didn't let the kids play too long. However, once we had the big pile made, Corwin did the most amazing front flip right into the pile of leaves, and almost disappeared into it.

I wish that I had the video camera handy to capture that ... but oh well. These flips he did are pretty good too.
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Those of you who follow me on twitter may have noticed that the family took a trip across the country, and I posted about once a day about the trip. We drove about 4250 miles over about 16 days. Went from California to Iowa, spending nights in Nevada, Utah, and Nebraska on the way. Then, went to Minnesota, did a festival in Decorah, IA. Visited my father-in-law and his brother in Red Wing, Minnesota; Maiden Rock, Wisconsin; and LaCrosse, Wisconsin. During the trip, we decided that we had a chance to see parts of the country we had never seen before - so we went back through South Dakota (saw Mount Rushmore and some of the Black Hills area) and Wyoming (drove through Yellowstone and saw Old Faithful).

The kids were overall pretty good during the trip. I can't say that they really enjoyed it, since all the sitting in the car was quite boring for them. They started wanting to see the "Bee Movie" over and over again - maybe seeking one familiar thing with constant change going on around them. They ate lots of cheap Kraft macaroni and cheese at all the diners we stopped at. I won't say it was all bad for them - they did get some good play time in hotel swimming pools, and both seemed to really enjoy the cave in South Dakota.
holyhippie: (Corwin)
A while back, I posted something about how Corwin would say to me "I don't love you, Daddy". Well, by now he's mostly grown out of that sort of emotional blackmail. Now, it's Kjersti's turn.

She's telling me, usually in a shout "Daddy, I don't like or love you!". Somehow, I find this easier to deal with than when Corwin did the same thing - and it's all about the timing and delivery. When Kjersti plays this game with me. I know that she's mad at me. After all, she's in the middle of throwing a fit. When Corwin did it, he was holding onto his upset about something else that happened a while ago.

Either way, it's not an insult I take personally, or get upset about - it's just a way of my kids telling me that they are mad at me. And, that they have progressed far enough with their emotional development for the concept that withholding their love from somebody, may upset the target.
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Here is the family, showing off a couple of Christmas items.

The wooden track is from [livejournal.com profile] drarwenchicken. The marbles I got for Corwin. The camera is a present from me to the family.

We've been having a lazy week, staying in pajamas all day.
holyhippie: (Corwin)

Recently Corwin had his sixth birthday. This wasn't a big deal, for some strange reason. Corwin says that for his seventh birthday he wants a Fiesta.

Today, however, we hit a milestone - Corwin lost his first baby tooth. Now we can enjoy that icon of childhood - the gap-toothed first grader!
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Yet another milestone in my little boy growing up - two weeks ago (Aug 13), Corwin started first grade.

So far, he seems happy about it and is doing just fine.

I'm not sure I'm doing as well. This means a few changes for us. For one thing, class starts at 8:00am. Those of you who know Valkyrie and I well, know that we are not morning people. We like to be asleep at 8:00am.

Oh well. We are adjusting. So far, I think we have been no more than 5 minutes late.

Another big change - where we drop Corwin off and pick him up. For his Kindergarten class, we would walk him all the way to the door of the class. Now, we are supposed to drop him at the curb and let him get himself to the classroom.

There's a part of me that is rebelling at this - No! He's too young! He'll get lost! - but the more rational part is saying This is necessary. You must give him more responsibility and freedom. He's old enough, and he's doing just fine.

Sigh. Being a parent is hard. I think it's not going to get any easier for a while.

I suppose it's a positive sign that the principal knows him by name? Last friday, I dropped Corwin at the curb, and the principal walked him partway to his classroom.
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Yesterday (Friday) was Corwin's last day of kindergarten. Way back when he had his first day of kindergarten I mentioned that he started chatting with the girl sitting across from him. Well, that girl is Casey, and she became a good friend of Corwin's. Here are pictures of the two of them, on the first and last days of Kindergarten.

Corwin was the youngest in his class. Casey isn't more than two months older than him - yet she's noticeably taller.

Of course, Corwin passed Kindergarten. His report card was a whole bunch of plusses (performing at level) and one check (improving toward standard.) The check was because he doesn't always pay attention to tasks in class. He also got told that he needs to work on his handwriting. Neither of these things are surprising to me, or unexpected. Five year old boys will have short attention spans and bad handwriting.

Right now, Corwin is sitting on my lap, watching me type this. I fully expect that in a few years, he can safely forget how to write, and just learn to type - like I have.
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Just something about Corwin's smile really appeals to me.

This was taken with Mommy's camera phone, a Motorola Krzr.
holyhippie: (Corwin)
A lazy Sunday at home. I'm coming upstairs to check on what's going on with the kids.

Corwin is running around excitedly shouting: MOMMY! NINETEEN! IT'S NINETEEN!

I'm thinking: What the hell?

The story is this - Mommy and Corwin are cleaning the toilets. Mommy put the liquid in to soak, and told Corwin that they had to let it sit until the clock hit nineteen minutes past the hour.

Corwin, all excited and impatient to clean the toilet, sits by the clock, waiting for it to turn to nineteen. As soon as it does, he has to go and get Mommy; so he does, shouting as loud as he can.

Meanwhile, I'm standing around boggling at the scene: My five-year old son, is all excited about cleaning the toilet.

I wonder how long this will last.
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Yes, I haven't been posting much of anything here. There's a bunch of reasons for that, that I may write about sometime - or not. We'll see.

The kids didn't want to go to sleep last night. I left both of them in bed, crying. Kjersti had a bit of a tummy bug, and slept alot during the day yesterday, so wasn't tired enough to just go to sleep. After me rocking her and puting her down three times, and her mommy rocking her twice, I finally said "Enough!" - and she laid down crying. Corwin has been acting very anxious lately, with lots of trips to the bathroom, demanding company in his room at night, and saying that he's scared of everything. I finally had to tell him "Enough!" and leave him in bed, crying.

I'm convinced that I did the right thing. But I still don't feel great about it. Damn it, being a parent is tough.
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Video behind the cut )
My son, with some help from his mommy, created this poem. I especially like the movements he makes when he performs it.

In case you didn't catch the words:

Baby palm tree,
standing by the sea,
growing some leaves,
waving in the breeze!
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Originally uploaded by capitanholyhippie.
A picture of Corwin's bedroom, all finished. I can't really capture the whole room in just one picture, so I'm showing this one off because it shows most of the elements in his room - the clouds on the ceiling, the wall, the border, and his dresser and bed.
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We picked Corwin up on time, and he had a big grin on his face, and said he had fun.

He drew something that looked vaguely like him as a dinosaur with a green and orange backpack.

When we dropped Corwin off, Kjersti came with us - Valkyrie and I both wanted to be there, so it became a family expidition. I carried Kjersti back to the car, and when we got there, she said very somberly "Kjersti miss Corwin".
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Today, we dropped Corwin off for his first day of Kindergarten.

He seemed fine with it, and started chatting with the girl sitting across the table from him right away.

Valkyrie and I are a bit emotional with a big swirl of mixed feelings - this is quite a milestone for him, marking the transition from no official stuff to do day to day, to school five days a week. This is a big day.
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Last night, my brother [livejournal.com profile] evannichols alerted me to the firing of one of my son's heroes - Melanie Martinez, the host of The Good Night Show on PBS Kids Sprout.

The reason she was fired - Melanie notified the network that a couple of videos that she made seven years ago were circulating on the Internet. While there is nothing in these videos that your average teen doesn't know about and hear at school, they are sexual in nature, and as such Not Safe For Work. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, here they are: Anal Sex and Vibrators.

I have to say, I'm pretty ticked off by this, and by how the network handled it. In my opinion, they did more damage to Melanie and themselves by firing her, than ever would have happened with a simple "Yeah, she did those videos. So what?" reaction.

One of our indulgences is TV. Corwin gets to watch a LOT of TV. Or, more specifically, Corwin gets to watch a lot of PBS Kids Sprout. That has programming on 24 hours a day that we don't mind him watching. There are a couple of other places that have things we don't mind him watching (Noggin and the local PBS channel), but their preschool programs are mostly on in the mornings. After 3pm, there really isn't anything on cable that he can watch, except PBS Kids Sprout, and starting at 3pm is when Melanie used to come on.

The way the Good Night show worked, is that each evening would have a theme, and there would be various short segments between the other kids shows where Melanie would come on and tell stories, play games, or show kids how to make crafts. Corwin loved the crafts. Frequently, right after one of the craft segments, Corwin would be screaming at me "I WANT TO MAKE THE MELANIE CRAFT!"

From how the show was structured it was pretty clear nothing was live, and all the little segments were filmed separately, then assembled into a show on any given night. Melanie had just one constant costume and look. All the segments were repeated, some quite frequently. Starting July 10th, they had a season switch, and started showing all new segments, with a new character introduced and a slightly different look for Melanie.

We noticed something wrong recently when, suddenly, Melanie wasn't there. No explanation, just different, nondescript filler between the shows.

This leads to one of the points where I think the network handled this poorly - why did they have to completely purge her from the air? Yes, I can understand no new segments being filmed, but they did something jarring to their audience by simply making her disappear. Because of this, Valkyrie had to explain a new concept to Corwin, to try and tell him "Melanie was fired".

From the statement that PBS Kids Sprout made:
PBS KIDS Sprout has determined that the dialogue in this video is inappropriate for her role as a preschool program host and may undermine her character’s credibility with our audience.
While I have to agree that the videos are inappropriate for a preschool audience, I in no way see how that automatically disqualifies her as a preschool program host. The videos in question are not videos I would show Corwin. Corwin is not old enough for these videos. They are completely irrelevant to "The Good Night Show's" target audience: preschoolers. I would certainly object if Melanie started talking about anal sex or vibrators on air, or those videos were shown on PBS Kids sprout. But they were not, and Melanie's performance of her job was excellent.

Instead, what this network has done is shown themselves as a capricious and bad employer, undermined their credibility with me, and lost themselves audience. Starting today, we will be turning off the TV at 3pm, and will not be watching PBS Kids Sprout during the time they had Melanie on.
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Originally uploaded by capitanholyhippie.
Yesterday, in our little excursion to Old Town Sacramento and the train museum, I bought Corwin a very cheap kite. It came in a hard plastic circular pouch about two inches in diameter. This made him very happy and excited, and he was carrying it around calling it his "Badge".

Today, we went to the nearby park, and flew our kites. I have one similar to Corwin's, only a bit bigger, and with a long tail. There wasn't a lot of wind, but enough to hold these kites in the air.

Corwin did great with the kite. I was very pleased. He held on to the little winder with the string, wound and unwound the string, ran to get it into the air ... ran quite a bit, too. And had a lot of fun flying the kites. I had fun too, and Valkyrie grabbed the camera to get this snap of us playing together.

After we finished up with the kites, we headed back to the playground on the other side of the parking lot. I noticed a patch of ground between the parking lot and the soccer field smouldering, and the couple who was playing soccer standing by it, kicking at it. They claimed that it was started with a cigarette, and seemed to have a plan to put it out ... so I went on to the playground and watched Corwin play there for a while.

When we were ready to leave, I noticed that the fire was not out, and that the guy who was playing soccer had dissappeared, leaving the girl kicking balls into the goal. They had apparently tried to kick a circle of dirt around the smouldering fire, to act as a firebreak, without really putting it out. Not wanting to leave the ground smouldering (and noticing besides that the firebreak wasn't working very well) I fished around for a way to put it out. Nearby was a water fountain - an empty water bottle would get water from there to the fire. Also nearby was a trash can with empty water bottles - check, all that is needed. Three or four round trips to the water fountain later, I'm pretty sure the fire is really, completely, out.

Now we leave, with my concience clear. However, just to be on the safe side, we stop by the fire department (it's on the way to the grocery store) and tell them that there was a fire there. They say "oh yeah, we know that place, it happens all the time" and that they would send a engine right over.
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Corwin, being a kid, doesn't necessarily track what is going on off in Adult world.  I'm sure he has been hearing Valkyrie and I talking about the theft of my backpack, and how this one simple act has been looming over my life since it happened.  But I'm also certain he doesn't understand it, or pay attention most of the time.

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We recently received a letter from Blue Oak elementary stating that Corwin will be starting the new school year in the Montessori kindergarten.

I'm pretty happy. I hope this will be a good start for formal schools. Corwin is clearly a bright kid, and I think a teacher willing to work with him is what is needed.
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Valkyrie and I are not fans of the current political administration of this country. We occasionaly rant to each other about this.

So, this night over dinner, we are ranting. And one or the other of us says "George W Bush". I'm not sure who, and it isn't important, but Corwin hears us and parrots us in a low voice ... "George W Bush".

So Valkyrie and I continue ranting at each other. But, I'm at least partially listening to Corwin too, and the next thing I hear him say is "Watch out Monkey About".

The rants come to a screeching halt, and I break down laughing. Valkyrie didn't hear Corwin clearly, so I have to explain what Corwin just said to her. She breaks down laughing. Corwin is looking at us like we are crazy, wondering what the heck we found so funny.

The thing is ... I didn't expect political commentary like that coming from my son (yet), saying "George W Bush", then "Watch Out Monkey About"; like the president is the monkey we need to watch out for.

What really happened in there is that Corwin was bored, so parroted part of what Mommy and Daddy were talking about, lost interest in that, then started to read his T-Shirt. He didn't know that he'd end up making a comment (that his parents agree with) about the president.
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Just a note - Corwin can read. He's taking an interest in learning and practicing this skill now, and spends a lot of time saying what letter a word begins with, and what letters are in a word.

Yesterday morning, he woke up around seven AM (early for him), and started reading one of his Ladybug magazines to himself, in bed. I'm so proud - that's a great habit to have.
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