January and February (2/29/2008)

Mistakenly fearing that we were done with snow for the year, Dante and Daddy went sledding at Hyak with Evan and his family one weekend while Mommy stayed home with Izabela. It was not until a few weeks later at a school friend’s birthday party that Mommy discovered that Evan’s Mommy and Grandma Sandy worked together at Starbucks and were great friends. Evan has even been to Grandma and Grandpa’s house! Just goes to show that Daddy is terrible at making small talk. Anyhow, we were all tickled pink that Dante and Evan were such buddies, despite their constant bickering and boyish skirmishes.

On January 12th, Dante performed as a statue in the Duvall Performing Arts rendition of the Chronicles of Narnia. We were very proud of his ability to stand as still as a rock for so long, and then follow it up with an actual dance. Grandma, Grandpa and Baba Yaga (who returned from Poland only three days before) attended the performance as well. Mommy photographed it from the back row with her new flash, so Izabela was somewhat distressed by the lack of Mommy in the darkness.

After many years of planning, several failed-to-come-to-fruition contracts with loggers, and many months of delay, on January 16th, 2008 the first tree was downed in the Hays family front yard forest. Over the course of the next 2 weeks approximately one and a half acres of alder were logged, the brush cleared and burned, the landscape reshaped, and a brand new driveway graveled complete with a culvert at the bottom for drainage purposes. In the midst of all of this we had several snow days. The newly created driveway became the centerpiece of great delight as the children now had a real hill to sled down. Trips to Hyak would no longer be necessary provided an annual snow would appear.

Izabela is now able to correctly insert all the letters of the entire alphabet puzzle all by herself. She still has a hard time saying all the letters, but can identify about 80% of them reliably. She is actually quite proficient at puzzles and can point at the amorphous blank empty spots and identify what goes in them by saying things like: “kitty”, “auto” (car), ”dom” (house), and “atki” (kwiatki =flowers).


Dante completed all of the English timing sheets sometime in January and began working on Reading Comprehension packets. And although during the winter break he had shown no interest at all in preparing for the school Spelling Bee, when the deadline approached, he suddenly realized that the Spelling Bee was something one could “win” and actually had the chutzpah to get angry at Mommy for not forcing him to learn how to spell all the words on the list! Mommy was quite flustered by this reaction as she had clearly given Dante the choice and he had decided not to study the words during the break. So two days before the class eliminations for the school Spelling Bee they started studying the Kindergarten words together. Spelling is quite different from reading, however. Dante, who could read all of these words instantly without thinking had an extremely difficult time spelling even the simplest phonetic words even immediately after reading them. Practicing writing them down didn’t seem to help, either, which is the way Mommy learned all her spelling as a child. To Mommy (and Daddy’s) total amazement, however, he apparently did well enough in the class elimination that he was chosen, along with Anne (whom Dante describes as “the smartest kid I know”) to represent his class in the finals for all the pre-K and Kindergarten classes at the school.

The school Spelling Bee was a highly amusing event and meant to be more “fun” at this level than serious. Dante did reasonably well given his lack of preparation and the word he was finally eliminated on, “buy” which of course he spelled “by”, took out most of the remaining Pre-Kindergarteners. Anne hung in there a bit longer, but in the end it was a duel between two Kindergarteners. Adarsh emerged victorious with the word “anxious” from the 6th grade (!!) word list. Dante was very impressed and vowed to start studying right away for next year. As with all best laid plans, his aspiration ebbed several days later.

In the midst of the Spelling Bee preparations, Mommy’s knee, which had been bothering her for quite some number of months now, took a turn for the worse. Convinced she should finally do something about it, she went to a doctor. An MRI later, she was told she had a torn medial meniscus and would require surgery. Unfortunately the MRI also uncovered an incidental finding of a “soft spot” inside of her tibia the size of a quarter. She thus needed to get a bone oncologist to look at the MRI to confirm that it wasn’t anything that should preclude the arthroscopy. Oncologists are typically pretty busy and the message at the referred doctor’s office basically indicated that if you weren’t dying, you could expect to wait 8-10 weeks to get in for a consultation. But Mommy explained the situation to the nurse and she agreed to “shove the MRI in the doctor’s face” during a free moment and get him to say yea or nay and then dictate the results formally to Mommy’s knee surgeon. This took 2 weeks anyhow, but finally, Mommy’s surgery was scheduled for mid-March. In the meantime Mommy iced her knee on a daily basis and attempted to walk less, which was not easy. Izabela ended up missing several of her morning classes and kept Mommy company at home most of the time.

This actually meant that Izabela and Mommy had some more time to work on colors and numbers. Learning colors had seemed like a futile endeavor in the previous months, and remembering how long it took Dante to get his colors straight, Mommy was just about ready to give up and wait til Izabela began going to preschool, when all of a sudden Izabela began to sort colors. While she still frequently misidentified them, at least now she could group items of the exact same hue and saturation.

As for numbers, Izabela became interested in numbers as a result of listening to Dante practice his math timings. Of course her chanting numbers in the background while Dante was trying very hard to concentrate on the next problem was not always kindly looked upon.

Everyone’s afternoon schedule changed around a bit as Dante officially graduated from Advanced Super Mites in Gymnastics and Mommy began looking for a different level class for him. After trying a regular Intermediate class, in which the kids were considerably older, the teacher felt he would be even better off in the Little Aerials class, despite the fact that it was technically a girls-only class. Extremely lucky to find himself in a tiny class of 3, Dante began to flourish under the tutelage of Ms. Jenn, with whom he had never worked before.

The end of February brought with it the BCA Musical Performance at the Kirkland Performance Center. Mommy was highly disturbed that Dante came home singing totally unintelligible lyrics to London Bridge. As it turns out, his music teacher has a thick accent, and Dante was under the impression that “Build it up with gold and silver” was actually “Build it up with gold and cinnabar”, and that “Build it up with iron bars” was actually “Build it up with I Won bars”. Mommy thinks perhaps they should print out the lyrics next year. In any event, the show was cute, though not as impressive nor as heartfelt as the work done by Ms. Allison at Monroe Montessori at the spring concert the previous year.

And last but not least, Dante’s days at FasTracKids ended. Ms. Uzma discovered she was pregnant with twins, could not find a teaching replacement in time, and as such could no longer continue the business. We wish her well with her new life, which will no doubt be quite busy. Dante was devastated that he could not finish all 12 units of the program, but Mommy and Daddy presented him with a “diploma” listing the 11 units he had completed to cheer him up. This meant Dante now had Wednesday afternoons free.