Continuing @GwenBell 's #best09 Blog Challenge...
Read all of my #best09 here.
December 21 - Best Project
End of school year memory book projects
A project I started this year that I am proud of is the culmination/end of school year project for Ben, Lily and Ava. This is a project that we do at Explorer Preschool for the kids - it is meant to be a gift for them and a symbol or record of their year. I struggled with it my first year at the school...in fact, I didn't do the project. I was just sort of...stuck. I wasn't sure what to do, I was overwhelmed with work at the time and I struggled with the twin thing - if I do X for Lily, I have to do X for Ben, but then it must be unique too...
In May of 2009, I figured it out and was really happy with my result. I used the kids' scanned in artwork from the year and made a collage out of it. Basically, a digital scrapbook page, with the collaged art work, their school photo and phrases that trigger memories from the year. It is a project I will keep going for each year of their schooling and I plan to make a book for each of the kids to keep all of the years' projects in. More about the project here.
December 22 - Best Startup
Clever Girls Collective
I have helped quite a few startups on the legal front, but Clever Girls Collective is my favorite of the year. The three founders of the company, Stefania Pomponi Butler, Cat Lincoln and Sheila Bernus Dowd - AKA "the Clever Girls" - have got it going on. They are all truly amazing women - so good at what they do, incredibly connected and just "good people." I loved working with them as they kicked off their company last Spring and can't wait to see what happens.
Disclosure: I hold a small ownership stake in Clever Girls.
December 23 - Best Web Tool
I started using Evernote at the beginning of the year and can't believe I just discovered it. When I first started using it, it was mainly a to-do list, because that is what seemed easiest to type up. After all, I do have a never-ending to-do list and I try all the time to GTD (Get Things Done) by getting it all out of my head and onto paper. But I quickly figured out that it can capture so much more. I take all of my meeting notes in it, I have my "life list" housed there, I take notes on wines I like, I manage my recipes and Christmas gift list. It is easy to tag and sort your notes. It ever searches handwritten notes, not that I do much of that. I KNOW there is so much more that I can do with Evernote, like scanning my kids' art to it or saving tweets I like, or 100 other ideas. Having an associated Evernote iPhone app, a desktop app and a web app makes it so that I can get to my stuff from anywhere (ah, I love the cloud).
December 24 - Best Learning Experience
This year, as Ben and Lily started kindergarten, I did too. Just when you have preschool down, it is time to switch it up and move on to a whole new thing. And a whole new thing it is. Kindergarten these days is not the kindergarten I went to - no longer is there (much) play. It is highly structured and academic (at least where my kids attend). And we are not in a competitive private school, we bike or scooter or walk (or drive...sometimes...ok, quite a lot lately) to our neighborhood public school. It is still more pressure and more homework that I anticipated. They ARE learning a lot and so am I.
Things I have learned so far in kindergarten
- The neighborhood community can be amazing - we have used it, given back to it, become a part of it. At the beginning of the year, one kinder mom threw a little playdate party at her house, I had a holiday party, another mom is talking about a Valentine's party...traditions can be born quickly. Park days on Wednesdays? Love them.
- As a twin parent with kids in two separate classes, I CAN ask the teacher to have birthday cake in one class (or otherwise make certain accomodations to make things a bit easier for me as the parent). They might say no, but I'll never know if I don't ask.
- Someday I WILL miss the early pickup time on a Wednesday. It's ok...see the neighborhood community note above. (I haven't missed yet, but I'm sure I will!)
- One of the best things we did was not to have a ton after school activities going on when the kids started kindergarten. We have all-day kindergarten (8-2), and that is a long day for them. I went to a talk last spring about not overscheduling and overstressing kids and the speaker noted that kids (until adolescence) should have HALF of their time for unscheduled, free play time. This is pretty far from the norm these days. We are starting one day of an after school science class in January, but that's all we have done for the past 9 months or so. School and play time is enough. t is tempting to do swimming and soccer and dance and this and that, but really...it is not good for them to have TOO much to do. Kids need to know how to figure out what to do when they are bored. And they need some down time. They are FIVE!
- Anything I do in my kids' classes (or at my kids school, even if I can't always volunteer in the classroom) will amaze them and help them learn. For instance, I am Ben and Lily's "Art Teacher" once a month. Although I am no great artist, I think the are in awe of this. And it is super fun and something I think we will all remember for years to come.
- A love of learning really starts and ends at home. I can't expect schools to do everything I want them to. Parents are their kids' first teacher after all.
- Patterns are math concepts. I had no idea! I'm sure my limited knowledge of the world will soon be surpassed by my smart kids...
December 25 - Best Gift
Our Christmas Puppy
The best gift this year was was the one Lily wrote to Santa to ask for - a puppy (I wrote about the gift on SV Moms). She is quickly becoming part of our family. Lily keeps asking if we really get to keep her and I keep saying (sometimes to my surprise)...yes!