April, May and June (6/19/2009)
The day after returning from Florida, it was Easter. Somehow knowing that all of the community Easter Egg Hunts would be missed due to airplane travel, the Easter bunny left a bunch of plastic eggs out on the Hays family lawn. As Daddy had conveniently neglected to mow it, finding them was indeed a challenge. Both Dante and Izabela thoroughly enjoyed competing only with each other for all of the eggs. Though Dante “won” by, unsurprisingly, recovering the most eggs, he announced it would be fun to put all the treasures from inside the eggs into the family candy cauldron and share with everyone. Both children also found the bunny had left large chocolate bunnies for each of them, which they systematically dismembered and consumed over the next week.

While Dante’s life experiences were broadened with performances of “Cats” at the Paramount Theater, and “Walking with the Dinosaurs” at the Key Arena, Izabela’s horizons were expanded in a more age-appropriate fashion; she was invited to two birthday parties (one for Tesla, from Gymboree, and one for Cassidy, from gymnastics class). Cassidy’s birthday was princess-themed, which gave Izabela her first taste of the Disney phenomenon. Not completely overcome with Princess-Mania, she was, nevertheless, intrigued by the clothing, jewelry, and associated girly fluff. She loved making princess crowns and dancing to princess songs. But the biggest hit of the party for all the girls turned out to be a game of “Dressing up Cassidy’s Daddy” with princess paraphernalia. The entire mob of 3-5 year old princesses were tickled pink at the obvious ludicrousness of adorning a Daddy with sparkly, fluffy, bright pink and purple necklaces, rings, bracelets, hair clips, etc.

The rest of April was marked by the planting of the Hays Family Orchard. Twenty-three fruit and nut trees were planted and surrounded with fencing to keep them away from the perpetually hungry resident deer. As this work was being done by professionals, Mommy and Baba Yaga began once again to work in the garden, which would continue throughout May and June, creating a “Polish nook” for black, red and white currants and gooseberries. They even found some authentic Polish Alpine Strawberries online and are hoping they will spread.

Mommy’s garden is usually quite beautiful by Mother’s Day, and this year was no different. But thanks to Baba Yaga’s seemingly incessant energy, it took on a much more refined and organized appearance. Mother’s Day was also memorable as it was the first time Dante rode his bicycle without training wheels. Somewhat late with this skill, Baba Yaga helped make it happen by allowing Dante to practice on the flat concrete outside of her home. Izabela, not quite ready to pedal her tricycle on her own, did however love being pushed around in it so she could be more like her brother.

As you may recall, Dante had essentially exceeded the level of gymnastics classes being offered at Northwest Aerials for boys and as he seemed more interested than ever in continuing to improve in the sport, Mommy had begun the hunt for a new gym and coach. After doing a lot of research, talking with the Moms of numerous gymnasts, and to a certain extent, letting fate guide her, Dante found himself trying out at Eastside Gymnastics Academy in Woodinville. Due to a set of strange circumstances, EGA had just acquired the Northshore Gymnastics Boys Team and coach.

While Mommy had been somewhat concerned that Dante would not pass muster skill-wise and would not be considered for the team, her fears were unfounded. Dante took to his new environment like a fish returning to its favorite pool of water. Surrounded by a group of older boys (though a few are only a few months older) focused on training, learning, competing with each other and yet being helpful and supportive of each other’s efforts, he could barely wait til the semester at Northwest Aerials would be over and he could join the team for real. In the meantime, his new coaches allowed him to “drop by” any time he could make it before officially starting in July. Each day after school when Mommy and Izabela would pick him up, Dante would ask “can we go to Eastside Gymnastics today?” As both May and June were chock-full of activities and performances, he only managed to train with the EGA boys about once every two weeks. But he firmly established himself as a future member and even received an EGA t-shirt with his named embroidered on it as a welcoming gift.

Near the end of May, Dante’s “Where in the World?” photograph (originally taken for Reflections) also won 3rd place in the Valley Art Show in the primary division (K-2nd grade). But the month could not be complete without the annual Duvall Performing Arts Recital.

This year, Ms. Rachel put on a show of Wagnerian complexity (and length), combining the story of Tinkerbell and Pixie Hollow with that of Peter Pan. Involving two separate casts, there were two performances to accommodate all of the parents in the now seemingly too small Cedarcrest High School venue. Each performance lasted about three and a half hours.

Izabela and her class were originally going to be teddy bears, but they morphed into butterflies, and when their costumes arrived it was discovered that they actually came with flowers instead of wings. But no one seemed to care as to the exact nature of their characters, as the little tuttu’d puff balls looked cute enough to eat. At the dress rehearsal, Izabela did her entire dance with her back to the audience, doing a beautiful job following her teacher’s motions but obviously making picture-taking nearly impossible. Mommy had a talk with her about stage orientation. As that went way over her head, Mommy tried a different tactic and told her that if she wanted Grandma and Grandpa and Daddy and Baba Yaga to see her dancing, she would have to face them. That seemed to do the trick, and the performance went reasonably well. The youngest in her group, everyone was extremely proud of her.

Dante danced 3 dances in each performance, including a dance for which he was cast as “Little Peter Pan”. Fondly referred to as “The Dream Team”, his class did a beautiful job with both their solo Dream Dance and in their Toy Nursery Dance. Dante also loved dancing with the Hip Hoppin’ Tinks, though this routine was less refined due to the sudden inflation of his Hip Hop class size, which went from 5 to about 18 rather suddenly.

Somewhere along the way, to compensate for the change in his hip hop class, Dante insisted on trying a Street Jazz class at Northwest Aerials, which occurred before one of his gymnastics classes. Although he technically did it on a “drop in” basis, he never missed a class. Finding there what he was missing at DPA, Dante, his friend Laphonso, and three other girls learned a fun yet tasteful routine to Usher’s Yeah!, which they performed at the Northwest Aerials Dance Recital at the Kirkland Performance Center in the middle of June.

Which brings us to Kindergarten Graduation and the End of the School Year. Dante finished the year with excellent marks, completed his multiplication and division timings, and passed the end of year exams (for 1st grade!) with 100% scores in math and 99% in English (having gotten one question wrong out of 140).

Although she had no school to “finish”, Izabela essentially completed working on her lower case alphabet and is beginning to count quite far by herself, though thirty still sounds exactly the same as forty. She frequently asks while still in the car “Mommy, when we get home, can I play the piano?” So when they get home, there is a race to see who can get to the piano first. She has also indicated that “when I get bigger, I want to play the violin, like Mommy”. Unfortunately, her retention is rather low and it takes her hundreds of repetitions in order to learn basic melody patterns. But the desire is there. We will see where it leads.