Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back to School, American-style

First day of school!

At the end of August, Misha started second grade and Sebby started preschool in Texas. It's a good experience for Misha to see what it's like to stand in a lunch line, to go to library class, and to learn what P.E. stands for. ("It's fiscultura," I told him, using the Russian. "It stands for physical education.") He enjoys his classes, especially art and science. He has a really nice teacher who is praised by all. He has no problem riding the bus, which stops at the end of our street. After giving me a hug, he hops on and waves to me out the window as the bus drives away. In writing class, he has been concocting wonderful paragraphs about unicycling, Egyptian pyramids, and Sherlock the dog. He earns admiration from his peers for his origami creations. However, one harder adjustment for him is the discipline system, which consists of getting a "conduct mark" for any of about 11 categories of school sins, from not following directions to talking in class. Though most kids get plenty of marks and shrug them off, Misha took his two marks last week so personally that it has very much dampened his excitement to go to school. Sebby was the opposite, in tears every morning for the first two weeks, but now walking confidently into his classroom each day, winking at the teachers (who eat it up) and his friends. Sebby's youthful and elastic language skills are evidenced by the (rather alarming) fact that he has picked up a serious Texan accent in the span of a month of going to preschool.

You can see Sebby's opinion of the first day of school.

Accompanying Misha to the bus.

Misha's second-grade classroom, filled with books, games and cool treasures.

Longboarding to the bus stop.

And unicycling to the bus stop.

Misha's school.

After one week of school, we all thoroughly enjoyed our three-day weekend. We visited the local splash park with Bud, and then all of us spent Labor Day touring the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory in Brenham and a self-made castle in Belville.

Splash park fun:

Ice Cream factory tour:

Me and Bud, ready to tour.

And the castle tour:
A somewhat eccentric soul decided to build his own castle after being inspired by a vacation to Europe. His fortress is beautiful, complete with a drawbridge, a moat, a portcullis, an inner courtyard, and towers. Touring it was like stepping into a fairy tale. And he gets to live there!

Sebby loved this massive, sweet dog.

Swordfights under the supervision of Lord Newman, castle owner.

A working trebuchet. 
The inside was no less impressive. The furniture was created to follow the medieval theme.

A little chapel.

Up into one of the towers...

which featured hanging bunk beds.
Another tower featured the dungeon.

When they're not in school, the kids and I find a plethora of fun projects to do. They both enjoy school, but they love being home so much, with the freedom to do whatever they please. I love how they savor their weekends, spending them creating instead of watching TV.

Brothers building an ant village. 
My dragon.

Chalk mazes for the uni.

"Chalk paint" - half water, half corn starch, plus dye.

Bud paints a face.

My lizard.

Misha's Phinneas. 

Painting with blue, or as Sebby now says, "blee-oo."

Bamboo pieces plus hot glue gun = cool jeeps. 

I made cupcakes specifically because I felt like drawing with frosting. The boys and I had a blast.

Misha wrote messages on his cupcakes.

Sebby made cool abstract designs with intense concentration.
Bud has a collection of Pinterest items that he picked out for the boys.

Like this project of mixing hot water and ice to create visible waves in a jar!

Jumping on ABCs to review sounds.

Ready for Uno. I love the jeans.

Finally, our first lizard capture after all these weeks! This one was in our bathtub.

Another visitor.

A hooded warbler who visited our porch.

Playing Magic.

Misha drew his own movie and I showed him how to put it in a box with two bamboo sticks to turn the reels. Sebby also jumped in enthusiastically and made his own long movie.

Misha's movie factory.

Two finished movies! They charged 50 cents per viewing, and used their earnings to buy dollar store toys.

Misha's water-bottle elevator that he sewed.

The longboard expert.

Skype chats with Daddy! We miss you!

Misha wearing Bud's shrunken wool sweater.

Another shrunken sweater and a kiss for Sebby.

Unicycling with Uncle Bud.

Reaching out ...


Such a big boy! Those buttons are tricky.

Celebrating Bud's night off by going to the Rainforest Cafe.

The cafe has beautiful aquariums and "rainstorms" with lightning and thunder every half hour. 

Before heading home, we zipped across the street to dip our feet in the ocean.

The wind, the waves, and the full moon created a dramatic, romantic feel.

Sebby in the waves. 
Our abandoned shoes 

Playing Harry Potter x-box with Bud

Chocolate chip cookies! We make them quite often. :)