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A Tea Party

Christian was up at the crack of dawn this morning, which was a blessing in disguise.  Normally he is very hard to get up.  Since I had to be in his class with the stitching it really helped that he bounced out of bed bright and early...we had a lot of time to get ready and get out the door. 

He, of course, wore his nice clothes for the tea party.

I brought his tie over and he shouted,"Cool!  I get to wear a tie!"  It was very cute.  Then he said,"Do I look handsome?" 

Quite.  I think I am going to be in trouble one day.

I could write too much here about what a crazy morning it ended up being, but I think that I'm going to skip all that, at least for now.  The main thing is that in the end I had a plan for Eliana, got her set up, and went to the hostess' house to help prepare for the tea. 

They had already done so much!  This was her formal dining room, where several guests would take their tea, but it was also where the artwork was showcased.  It was amazing.  I was so impressed with what these children had created.  You can see some of their work in the picture above, and below is Christian's painting.

The title is A Flurry of Lines and Dots

Since we were there early, and there wasn't much left to do, I wandered and took pictures.

Our table

The silver is mine; I inherited it from a woman that my dad took care of for a long time.  It was very sweet of her to leave me her silver, as I didn't know her well.  But she loved my dad, and his family just as much.  This was the first time I had ever used it.

The china belongs to the grandmother of one of Christian's classmates.  China is so lovely, isn't it?

The dining room

The above tea set is an antique that belongs to one of the moms.  The china on the table was used for the first time today.  How fun!  Who would have thought - a first grade tea party for the inaugural use of one's wedding china.

The food

Strawberries and lovely little sandwiches...and scones.  You can't have tea without scones.

The children arrived in several cars and were announced at the door.  They carried with them the hats that they had made for the mothers and their special guests.

Once everyone had come in and all hats were given to the special ladies, we gave our attention to the artwork.  The school's art teacher was there, and had an award for each piece.  I wish I had a recording of the names of the awards!  She was so creative and each one was unique, paying attention to the style of art that each person used, as well as other things that were indicative of individual personalities.  Each child received a button for their work as well as a small framed picture of it.  One of the dads was present to speak about each artists' contribution and introduce the awards.  He did a great job.

Once the awards were done, we all sat down to tea!  Not before a picture, of course.

Christian wasn't sure what his tea was going to taste like...

But how can you go wrong with two lumps of sugar and milk in a two ounce cup of tea?

He liked it so much that he shouted across the table to his friend that it REALLY WAS GOOD!

This picture makes me laugh because he looks so unimpressed.  He liked the tea very much though.

Michaela, on the other hand, had a hard time getting hers right.  It was too sweet, and then too dark (her words).

She always takes these things in stride, though.  She is too sweet, and so very light!

What kind of mother would I be if I didn't get a picture of them together?

They are always so thrilled to get their picture taken with one another...

Indeed, what kind of tea party would it be without brotherly/sisterly love?

After everyone was done with their tea we all moved back into the living area for one final presentation.  We revisited the Sandcastle Competition as each team received a certificate for their sand creation.  Christian's team's castle was designated "The Most Mysterious". 

You can always tell when the end of the tea party is near by the untucked shirt. 

We said goodbye shortly after this.  The children in Christian's class are tight.  Toward the end of the tea party they were all piled on the sofa looking through the program which showcased each team's sandcastle.  I can't believe that this year is almost over, but what a year it has been.  They have learned so much, but even more than that, they have done so much.  He will remember this class and this year for a long time.


Does This Look Like First Grade to You?

Christian's class is reading A Bear Called Paddington.  His teacher is also making sure they get to experience some of the adventures that Paddington has in his stories.  One such adventure (I gather, I haven't read it-can you believe that?!) is a sandcastle competition.  The classmates drew names in order to create teams, then worked to design their sandcastle in class (after some standardized testing they had all last week...what fun to follow a couple of hours of hard work each day!), brought in supplies, and headed to a playground in order to execute the architectural plans they had laid out on paper. 

It was a little hard to tell what they thought of playing in the sand working together to build their sandcastles instead of sitting in the classroom for the last two hours of school.

 The sand area was big enough for all of the teams, as well as the younger siblings of the students to have a space to dig and build, too.

An almost finished castle...

Christian was on a team with another boy as well as a girl.  They designed what they called a dungeon, and they named it "The Dark Castle". 

By the time they had set the characters and smaller details up around it, I found myself thinking of both Skeletor's castle (please tell me you remember Skeletor) as well as Prince Humperdinck's "Pit of Despair" in The Princess Bride.  If you have only seen the movie (which I do think is excellent-one of my all-time favorites) then you must also read the book.  That is an order, and I am not a bossy person in general.

They had to speak with the judge (Christian's teacher's best friend and Expert Sandcastle Judger) about their work.

This interview was followed by more climbing...

and some very cute cupcakes (what is wrong with me that I didn't take a picture of those); then the bell rang.  

Wait!  There was no bell, since we were at a playground!

I don't remember doing anything like this in school!  Christian has had a great year, and I can't believe that it's almost over.

I also can't believe that that means he will soon be a second grader.  You look at those feet and tell me that he's not still my baby!  I won't believe you. 

I won't!



We can play our best defense...

We can give it our all...

We can be alert and ready for action...

We can keep our eyes on the ball...

We can sometimes succeed in that defense...

But then there are times we are just not able to keep the other team from scoring a goal.

Soccer?  It's just a game. But in life, the defeats can seem overwhelming. 

Christian had a hard time at his game today; he sat out one quarter and cried because his team rarely scores and has never won.  He is a good soccer player and most of the boys on the team try really hard.  The thing is, they go to a very small private school.  There is no playing field, and while they do get a recess each day they play on a small playground within the church's campus.  The kids that they play soccer against go to bigger schools and likely play soccer almost every day.  They know what they are doing.  They are aggressive, too.  So, Christian's team struggles to compete with these guys who are more savvy on the field. 

I felt like Christian seemed like the day was too much for me at one point.  I couldn't play defense.  I had a terrible experience with Eliana in a store; terrible, like, I had to leave she was screaming so loudly.  There were women who actually said, so that I could hear them,"Oh my gosh!"  I didn't know what made me more upset.  I have to say, we both carried on in the car-she screamed at me, and I responded in a way that was less than grown-up.  I finally realized that I just needed to be quiet.  When we got home she crashed in the bed with Mike and I escaped for a bit all by myself. 

The rest of the day was a little better.  I had to finish it out, right?  Just like Christian had to get back in the game.  He joined his team again, and while he was still upset he played hard till the end.  And although they lost, he chose not to dwell on that.  There was a cookie, after all!  It's good when you can taste the sweet after defeat. 

I confess that I go to the wrong place for the sweet.  I want to be more diligent about seeking sweetness in a better place.  Psalm 34:8 says,"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."  Isn't that beautiful?  Refuge is defined in this way:  shelter or protection from danger or distress;  a place that provides shelter or protection; something to which one has recourse in difficulty (Merriam-Webster online).  There is no better place to go than to the Lord.  It is something that I know and yet am still learning.



Speaking of Hands On (I Promise I'll Stop After This)

Christian's teacher has a motto for her classroom; it is this famous saying from Confucius:

I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.

Mrs. C. is big on her students doing whatever it is that they are studying.  Her class is very hands on, from seashells to dinosaurs (and I am not kidding-I have a shell imprinted in plaster and a giant brontosaurus that is a good six feet long and four feet high stuck up on a shelf in Christian's room), they do with their hands something that will help them understand what it is they are studying.

Just recently the class was learning about opposites.  For homework Christian had to come up with at least fifty opposite pairs (down/up; left/right; frown/smile) and bring them to class.  Then each student made an opposite book.  This, my dear friends, is too good not to share.  And so, I proudly present to you...


by:  Christian Walker

Big and Small     (please note how displeased "Small" is...bigger must indeed be better)

Boy and Girl     (the difference is, gratefully, in the hair; his take on the difference between the sexes made him declare that Shaun White was a girl when he took off his helmet after his snowboarding run) 

Bright and Dark

Cold and Hot     (one of my favorites; he makes his characters talk..."br" and "It's too hot outside!"  Also, someone inside is taunting the one who is outside with an obnoxious,"ha")

Dirty and Clean     (and long and lean)

Dumb and Smart     (I am so glad finally to know what all those little swirlies twirling around my head are!)

Dead and Alive     (The is so telling, no?)

Fast and Slow     (another one of my favorites...I love the burst coming from the car's behind-ha)

Hard and Soft    

Loud and Quiet     (Please.  That mouth.  I know you can barely see it, but the loud guy has a giant circle for a mouth.)

Mountain and Valley     (Don't miss the unfortunate little guy plummeting to the earth, minus a parachute.  There is also an unhappy home owner.  In case you can't see the words, they are saying, respectively,"help I'm falling" and "hey, why do I have to have the smallest house.")  (I left the punctuation as it is on his paper.)

There were several other pages...this book made me smile and laugh.  I love seeing Christian's work.  He is so thoughtful, and I think his personality comes through in everything that he does.  He is a quirky, funny, creative fellow. 

And by the end of the year, our house will be full of his projects and his head will be full of understanding.


Christian's Teacher Must Have Magical Powers

Our house was full of noise this afternoon.  And a lot of loud children.  And kids who yelled and hollered.  And they were noisy, too.

They had fun.  It was a party after all.

I basically took care of the cake, and Mike did everything else, including clean the toilet.  He is a better man than you all can know.  I am not saying this to be charmingly self-deprecating...I was really not that, um, enthusiastic about a houseful of children right after school on a Friday afternoon.  Mike did everything that needed to be done so that Christian could have a good time at his party.

I want to share my cake experience quickly.  At first things were going well.  I had the bottom cake made, which was just a 9 x 13 that I transformed into a body of water with some colored frosting.  I had the body of the dinosaur placed on the 9 x 13 and frosted.  I just needed to add the neck and head of my brontosaurus and place it so that it was eating leaves off of my foliagey cupcakes.

This did not look good.  I was worried that I was going to end up with what looked like the tail end of the dinosaur and a dino poop.  A very big dino poop.

I tried and tried to make the first neck/head work, but I ended up dropping (no pun intended) it down the disposal.  I had a tiny bit of Rice Krispie treats left and made a much shorter neck and head.  Then I put a skewer through the long part and was able to stick in down into my cake.  It worked!  I was so relieved.  It didn't end up like the one in my imagination, but it was all right.

Now, since this blog isn't ALL about me (it isn't, is it?) I'll get back to Christian's party.

The first thing we did was serve hot chocolate.  Smart, right?  No wonder they were such maniacs.  Actually, half of them didn't even drink it.  But it did get them to sit at the table for a few minutes before the mayhem officially began.

Mike showed them a book that he found, which has life-size parts of dinosaurs in it.  (Pictures, I mean.  Not actual dino parts.  Just to clarify.)  It was pretty neat.

There are things like life-size teeth in the book (and claws, and heads of smaller dinos, and poo-poo, too)...

Mike had set up a game of bowling (soda cans with construction paper, and a home-made boulder/bowling ball, which they enjoyed. 

We also had a pinata (I'm too lazy to figure out the little symbol over the "n" there...I know it's supposed to be there, though.  Add it in your head, please.)...

It was so funny to watch them try to bust that thing.  They hit it pretty hard, but it was a sturdy little dino.

This guy took his arms way back and then swang with all his might.  He hit the wall, and almost hit Mike. 

Michaela gave it a solid whack, but still no candy.

The kids wanted Mike to have a turn, and they all crowded in the living room so they could watch him swing.  Finally there was success!

And of course, there was cake. 

The kids seemed to have fun and Christian loved having people here.  He also opened his presents just before we ate dinner and was so happy with everything; he has some very generous friends. 

Three guesses what Christian really likes to do these days.

And now I have to decide if I'm going to wash some laundry and then some dishes by hand (our dishwasher, the new one, is being weird in the same way as that other one...sounds fishy to me).  The laundry I don't have to do by hand.  That I have a machine for. 

Sometime tonight I need to figure out a good way to let my husband know how much I appreciate him as well.  He did an amazing job with pre-party stuff and crowd control (also known as yelling-louder-than-the-crowd-in-order-to-get-their-attention-and-move-them-to-the-next-thing), and he accomplished this on a small amount of sleep last night.  If I had an award, I would give him one. 

 Something like this...

Oh, he deserves so much more.