Monday, August 31, 2015

Temple Chai Sunday School Update

Here is the update from our kids' Sunday School teachers yesterday ...

From Ms. Ruth (Madi's Class):
Dear Parents,

Today we were excited to start the day painting our "apples" for our Apple Plate together with the "honey" container. We also had fun working on our Rosh Hashanah worksheets.  Thereafter we enjoyed our circle time learning more about the very special forthcoming Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. We spoke about all the beautiful traditions and read "Sound the Shofar".  We also spoke about the wonderful mitzvah of Tzedakah and said the "Sh'ma", reminding us that there is only one God.  Rabbi Mari visited our room, together with the Pre-K class, and she also told us many interesting facts about the Shofar and Rosh Hashanah, and blew the Shofar for us.  The children were fascinated and asked many questions.  She read "Where is God?" showing beautiful pictures that God is everywhere.

It was then time for snack and we pretended it was Shabbat, and said the Blessings for the Candles, Wine and Challah.  Lucas was our "abba" and Madi was our "eema".  Thank you so much to Riley Sloane's family for bringing in the delicious and nutritious snacks this week, and to Parker, who brought in a very large apple that we were able to enjoy altogether with honey.  The challah tasted good too with a little honey. We all wished each other a SWEET New Year!

We went to the Sanctuary for music with Cantor Wolman, together with the Pre-K and First Grade Classes. We sang a Bokertov song, sang the Sh'ma, and also a few songs for Rosh Hashanah.  He also blew the Shofar, and we learned some of the Shofar sounds.  We returned to our classroom to study some Aleph Bet, and today we worked on Bet and Vet, and worked on our pages for our Aleph Bet Books, which we will get at the end of the school year, when all the pages are completed.

We enjoyed a little outside time together with our friends, and thereafter we had some question and answer time, and did our goodbye circle, singing "Shalom Chaverim" and wishing each other Shavuah Tov (a good week).

Taking this opportunity of wishing you all a good week ahead, as well as to remind you that there will not be any Sunday School for the next two weeks, because of the Labor Day weekend and erev Rosh Hashanah. Wishing you all Shana Tova and a very Happy and Sweet New Year.

Kind regards,
Apple and Honey Plate
Studying the Aleph Bet
Singing with Cantor Wolman
Celebrating Shabbat
Rabbi Mari and the Shofar

From Ms. Julia (Aiden's Class):
Dear Pre-K Parents,

We enjoyed learning about Rosh Hashanah today.   We heard the story of “Sammy Spider’s First Rosh Hashanah.”  We dipped apples in honey for our snack, and more.

Rabbi Mari came to our classroom.  She blew the Shofar for us, and read the story “Where Is God?”

In Music, Cantor Wollman sang about the Shofar and its sounds.

I hope you enjoy the Rosh Hashanah pamphlet I sent home.  We also went over it in class.  I also sent another pamphlet home about the Hebrew letter Aleph for the children to explore.  

The New Year cards were fun to make.  The children glued and attached the stickers with fervor.

No Religious School for the next two weeks (Labor Day and Erev Rosh Hashanah.)
See you again on September 20.

Happy New Year to you and your family.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Madi's Masterpieces

Madilyn has been super busy coloring new art pieces for me to display.  She is becoming really creative and expressive in her drawing.  Love it!

"A Sunset with Clouds"

"A Chinese Food Restaurant"

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Aiden's Art

While at Religious School on Sunday, Aiden colored this little masterpiece.  He says it is a fish swimming on top of the ocean.  If you look really hard, you can decipher the orange fish at the top. Aiden typically doesn't like to color much, so I wanted to make sure to capture his first real art piece. I hope it is one of many, many more.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Temple Chai Sunday School

The kids both had their first day of Religious/Hebrew School yesterday.  Madilyn is in Ms. Ruth's Kindergarten class and Aiden is in Ms. Julia's Pre-K class.  They seemed to really enjoyed it, but Aiden admitted he was a little sad that he could not be in Madi's class with her.  Here is the verbiage that I received from each of their teacher's after class yesterday.  I love that we get an email telling us what their day entailed because when we asked the kids what they did all morning, they just replied, "Played. Colored. Sang. Ate challah."

From Ms. Ruth (Madilyn's Class):
Dear Parents,

Welcome to our first day of Sunday School. We had an amazing first day, and the class bonded so well together. We started the day coloring in a couple of pictures related to the forthcoming Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, including the Shofar, and spoke briefly about this tradition.

We were excited to have some circle time, where we got to know each other (discussing our favorite colors, food, animals and movies). We welcomed our new friends, Madrachim, (Alayna, Bryce and Julia), and spoke about our new routines, our rules for the class room, and the wonderful weekly Mitvah of Tzedakah!! This year our class is collecting for the very special organization called UMOM, and one of the representatives will be visiting our classroom sometime in September to tell us more about what UMOM is all about. We went into more detail about the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Birthday of the World. We also spoke about the traditions of sending New Year Cards to wish our friends and families a very Happy New Year, the blowing of the Shofar, the eating of apples dipped in honey, the round challah, etc. etc. We read "Happy Birthday, World" and "Sammy Spider's First Rosh Hashanah" which re-iterated some of the traditions listed above.

Thereafter we got together for our very special snack time, pretending it was Friday Night, choosing an Abba (Elliot) and Eema (Ellie), and saying the Blessings for the Candles, the Wine and of course, the Challah, which we all enjoyed eating!!! Thank you too to Madilyn (Madi) Landers' family for sending in the yummy snacks this week.

We then worked on our Honey Jar New Year Cards, and our mini individual New Year Cards, which we gave to our class friends, to wish them each a very Happy New Year (L'Shana Tova)!!

It was then time for us to work on our Aleph Bet, and we enjoyed singing the Aleph Bet a few times, while pointing to the actual Hebrew Letters, to start familiarizing ourselves with the Hebrew Aleph Bet. We also worked on our first page, namely the letter ALEPH. These weekly pages will be collected, and at the end of the school year, each student will receive an Aleph Bet Book, created by themselves!!

We were able to go outside to play for a short while, and to get together with some of our other friends, and then we went to the Sanctuary, together with the whole school for an Assembly. Our new Cantor, Cantor Wolman, and a few song leaders, lead us with some of our favorite tunes and songs, and introduced us to some new fascinating melodies as well. Our definite favorite was "It's the Tree of Life ......."

Before we knew it, it was time to say Shalom to our friends, and go home with our families.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead, and look forward to seeing you next week.

Madilyn and her Classmates
 In the Sanctuary singing with Cantor Wolman

From Ms. Julia (Aiden's Class): 
Dear Parents,

Our morning was filled with discoveries about our old and new friends, and our class.

We read the story, “In Our Image,” a very picturesque book that the children enjoyed.

We celebrated Shabbat. Our eema (mom) and abba (dad) were Gabbie and Aiden. They led us in the Shabbat blessings.

We decorated our folders with stars, stickers, markers, and more. The children will keep our weekly Hebrew letters in them, and I will send them home at the end of the year.

We discussed our one rule...respect. The children were happy to provide many meanings for this important word.

Our day closed with an assembly that had lots of music.

Have a great week.
Saturday, August 15, 2015

Madilyn's 1st Week of Kindergarten

Madilyn started kindergarten this past Monday.  It has been an emotional, but very exciting week for all of us.  Madi is loving school and starting to make friends.  She loves her nightly homework assignments and was excited to have her first test on Friday.  We are so proud of her and cannot wait to see how well she will progress throughout the school year.

The night before the first day of Kindergarten, Madilyn was so excited.  She wanted to get everything prepared for her first big day.  She laid out the clothes she was going to wear on her first day. She helped pack her lunch.  We read books about Kindergarten.  She even went to bed without any issues or excuses.  It was an exciting night.

Monday morning, Madilyn woke up and got dressed without any problems.  She was so excited.  If she was nervous, she didn't show it.  We took tons of "First Day" photos and headed out the door to drop her off at Lookout Mountain Elementary School in Moon Valley.  The entire family walked Madilyn to her kindergarten classroom.  Aiden wanted to see where Madi was going to be going to school.  When we arrived at her classroom, she walked in the room, hung up her backpack in the designated area, and sat on the letter "M" on the rug in the middle of the classroom as instructed by Mrs. Lillie. Madi was so brave -- no tears, no sadness.  Just a big smile letting her parents know that she was ready to learn, grow and play.  Josh and I couldn't help fight back our tears as we watched our little girl mature that morning into an independent kindergarten student.

After dropping Aiden off at preschool, I headed into the office for what ended up being a very long, crazy day. At 9:27am on Monday morning, about an hour or so after Madilyn started her first day at Lookout, I received an email from BASIS that stated the following:

Dear BASIS Applicant,
Congratulations! Madilyn Landers is being offered 2015-16 enrollment for grade K at BASIS Phoenix Central.

I couldn't believe it!?!  Madi has been on several charter school waiting lists all year, but hadn't been offered a spot yet.  Of course, it had to be on her first day of kindergarten at Lookout Mountain Elementary School. Now what are we to do?  Well, after discussing it with Josh, we both agreed that it was best for Madi to accept the offer from BASIS and enroll her in that school as soon as possible. So, I spent Monday afternoon enrolling our daughter at BASIS.  Madi finished out her day at Lookout Mountain, but as soon as school ended Josh picked her up and drove to BASIS so that she could have the opportunity to check out her new school and classroom.  Madi tends to be a little apprehensive about new situations, so we wanted make her feel as comfortable with this decision as much as we could.  She seemed to be really excited to try out her new school on Tuesday and meet her new teacher, Miss Arnold.

I, on the other hand, was a wreck.  I continued to second guess our decision, even though I knew it was a great educational opportunity for Madi.    BASIS is one of the best charter schools in the state. But, as with all learning institutions, their are pluses and minuses, so I just hoped that we were making the right decision for our daughter.  I, especially, wanted to make sure that she was going to be happy and that we weren't disrupting her world too much already.

Tuesday morning arrived and Madilyn, once again, was excited to try out her new school.  We did the whole first day of school experience all over again.  We took "First Day of BASIS" pictures.  And then, she grabbed her backpack and lunch, and off to school we went.  Madilyn's first day of kindergarten at BASIS was actually the school's fifth day of school.  We arrived at school and I walked Madi into the office so that an administrator could escort Madi up to her classroom on the second floor.  Before she walked away that morning, she gave me an extra long hug, but didn't shed a tear.  She was so brave.  I think that she was trying to stay strong for her mom, who was in tears as soon as I got back into my car.  I hoped she would have fun and enjoy her second first day of school as much as she did her first.

Around lunch time, I received this email from Madi's new BASIS teacher:

I just wanted to let you know Madilyn is doing great on her first day!!!
She had a few tears this morning but quickly rebounded and is happy as can be!!!
--Ms. Arnold

It made me feel so much better about everything.  Plus, when I picked up Madi from school, she said she had so much fun.  She was so excited about having math homework, about having a test on her sight words on Friday and about building with LEGOs during Engineering.  It looks like we have one happy student!

Here is what a typical day in kindergarten looks like for Madi:

Attendance & Morning Math Meeting
Snack & Recess
Language & Literacy
PE & Sports
Knowledge Acquisition: Civics, History & Science Discovery
Language & Literacy
Snack & Recess
Enrichment: Project Based Learning
Snack & Recess
Mandarin (M/W/F) or Engineering (T/TH)
Art (M) or Drama (W) or Music (F) or Engineering (T/TH)
Prepare for Dismissal

It is a pretty packed schedule, but so far Madi comes home loving school more and more each day. We are so proud of how well she adjusted to the entire situation this week.  Kids are so resilient.  She reminded me that change can be fun and exciting. I cannot wait to see what else I learn and explore through the eyes of a kindergartner.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Interview with Aiden at Age 4

My little man is four.  I cannot believe it.  Everyday this little guy impresses us with his wit, his athletic skills, his kindness, his stubbornness, his determination, his intelligence, his affection, and his overall boy-ness.  He makes our household so much fun and yet, a little challenging, all in one.  Either way, we couldn't imagine our lives without him.  Happy Birthday, Mr. Man!

As a continuation of a tradition I started with Madilyn, here are the answers to Aiden's interview questions at age four:
  1. What is your favorite color?  Blue
  2. What is your favorite food to eat?  Chicken Nuggets  
  3. What is your favorite television show?  How to Train Your Dragon
  4. Who is your favorite Super Hero?  Wonder Woman
  5. Who is your best friend?  Brayden
  6. Who is your teacher at preschool?  Ms. Jessie and Mrs. Christina  
  7. What is your favorite thing to do?  Watch a show
  8. What is your favorite fruit?  Bananas, grapes and cherries.  They are all tasty.
  9. What is your favorite toy?  All of them (Although he primarily focused on his LEGO sets.  Morning and night all he wants to do is build a space ship.)
  10. What is your favorite outfit to wear?  This one, the one he is wearing now.
  11. What is your favorite game to play?  Go Fish
  12. What is your favorite snack?   Gummy bears
  13. What is your favorite animal?  Hippos 
  14. What is your favorite book?  Batman Book, although it is broke
  15. What is your favorite breakfast foods?  Toast
  16. What is your favorite thing to do outside?  Play with bubbles and play soccer
  17. What is your favorite drink?  Milk and water.
  18. What is your favorite holiday?  Hanukkah
  19. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?  Iron Man Bear
  20. What is your favorite song?   "Lellow Submarine" by the Beatles
Aiden at his 4 Year Old Well Check
Weight: 36.6 pounds (55th Percentile)
Height: 40.5 Inches (56th Percentile)
Aiden as Robin
Aiden Blowing out Candles on his Birthday
Sunday, August 9, 2015

Let It Roll ~ Aiden's 4th Birthday Party!

This past Saturday, Aiden celebrated his fourth birthday at Let It Roll Bowl in Phoenix with family and friends.  What a fun party! The kids loved bowling.  It was a little chaotic, at first, but the kids, eventually, started to take turns and bowled their little hearts out.  In between frames, the kids enjoyed popcorn, pizza and cupcakes.  We will definitely take the kids bowling again soon.  Everyone had such a good time!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Meet the Teacher Night ...

Last Thursday while I was out of town on business, Madilyn attended her first ever Meet the Teacher event at Lookout Mountain Elementary School.  As she starts Kindergarten next week, we wanted her to get the opportunity to meet her teacher, Mrs. Lillie, and see her new classroom.  We thought this would make kindergarten a little less scary and help this transition go a little more smoothly.  Madilyn was very nervous and broke into tears before she even walked into the kindergarten building.  Per Josh, the tears continued to roll until Madilyn was approached by one of her preschool friends, Meadow, who gave her a big hug.  The girls then grabbed hands and walked into the building together even though they are not even in the same kindergarten classroom.  Madi did meet her teacher and checked out her classroom.  After her nervousness subsided, she became excited and couldn't wait to tell me all about it when I got home.  Let's hope now that she has met her teacher and has been exposed to her new surrounding that she will feel more comfortable and happy on her first day of school.

Madi being "shy" meeting her teacher
 Daddy, Madi and Mrs. Lillie chatting
 Madi and Mrs. Lillie
 Madi's Kindergarten Classroom
Monday, August 3, 2015

Water Slides!

Last week, the Farrell-Landers family visited one of our local water parks, Wet'N'Wild.  This was a first for the kids and they loved it!  We spent the entire day running from the water slides to the water structure to the wave pool to the lazy river.  The kids loved the wave pool the most.  I am sure this will become a favorite summer activity for our family.