Friday, October 31, 2008

Everything's Coming Up Pink

birthday face

She's six years old now. Six. I can barely wrap my brain around it. How many more paper-crown-wearing, delightfully uninhibited childlike parties are left before she's "too old" for such things? The little-girl years seem to be rushing by like a strong river current now, bubbling and splashing and tumbling along toward the ocean of adulthood at breakneck speed.

But for now, at least for a little while, I get to experience the sheer joy of a plain ol' "little kid." I'm loving it. She had a great birthday this year, celebrated first with friends and family on the Saturday before her actual date of birth. There were pink decorations, gifts of pink clothing, a pink crown, and even a pink Uglydoll (Peaco, by request).

make a wish

Bella & Grayson

opening Morgan's gift

Grandmommy Lynette & Bella

Andrea & Bella

On the day after Bella's (actual) birthday this year, a couple of major things took place, both of which I'll be posting about separately later:

After a birthday/farewell party with her kindergarten class, complete with pink (of course) cupcakes, she did go ahead and transfer to a first-grade class. There is much more to this story, but suffice it to say, until I have a chance to elaborate, that this is a far, far better fit for her, in every way. I'm blown away by her improvement in attitude, engagement, and just plain interest. It's a good thing. And you all helped.

More importantly right now, Bella's grandmother, my mom, as many of you already know via Twitter, Facebook, and BYC, went into the hospital that same day and underwent a double radical mastectomy. Yep, leave it to my mother to time her breast cancer to coincide with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As you might imagine, there is a lot more to talk about, but this is the first time I've had the energy plus a few spare minutes (prior to my passing out, which will be happening any second now) to even update this much. I apologize to anyone whose emails, messages, or phone calls I might've been missing over the last few weeks. I haven't been home much, and when I have, I haven't been conscious much.

I can tell you, very briefly, that Mom responded to her diagnosis exactly the way those of us who love her would want her to--immediately, decisively, and with extreme prejudice. She is now almost two weeks out of surgery, and I'm happy to report that her lymph nodes were negative for cancer. She's looking amazingly well (as usual), and rallying like a champion. She's a bit miserable from the surgical drains that are still in, but the woman is truly inspiring in this struggle, as in everything.

We have not yet seen the medical oncologist or determined the next step in the course of her treatment, but from all early indicators, my mother should be around for many, many more of Bella's birthdays.

Grandmom & Bella

And we would certainly not have it any other way.

(Oh, and Bella's showing-you-her-bottom-teeth smile in so many of these pictures? She has her first LOOSE TOOTH, an event which has been awaited with all the eagerness which you could possibly imagine any event ever being anticipated, plus some. It's a lower incisor, and yes, it's loose. And will fall out. Soon. NOT SOON ENOUGH, but soon. And she says she's "been told" that the Tooth Fairy leaves a dollar these days. You'd think that under current economic conditions, the Tooth Fairy would be trading in Yen by now, wouldn't you?)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Help, Oh, Help

bounce

As I'm sure most of you have gathered, there's lots of stuff going on around here right now. I'm behind on absolutely everything, and I apologize to everyone who's affected. I'll update on some of that later.

Right now, I'm wrestling with a dilemma that many of my friends and family have been telling me is coming, and of course, I'm bringing it to you, Internets, for your input, advice, opinions, and anything else you've got.

Bella will be six years old this month, and she's in kindergarten. She's also been reading for over a year, and has a couple other areas in which she demonstrates certain acedemic aptitude that is advanced beyond kindergarten level.

Today, when I picked her up from school, her teacher asked if I could come in for a moment and speak to her about Bella. The teacher and I were joined by the school's principal, the Gifted and Talented coordinator, and someone called curriculum specialist or academic coach or something like that. Long story short, they've ascertained that the kid is bright. Quelle surprise.

Now, the question being put to her father and I is, "What do you want to do about it?" And frankly, we don't know. The option of skipping her on up into first grade was offered right off the bat, and to be honest, the notion is a little jolting to me. The other option was keeping her where she is, and providing some special attention three times a week (provided that she "officially" tests into the G&T program) or so.

I have been hearing complaints from my daughter about school being "boring," and that she's "not learning anything." I've been telling her to be patient, and we'd see if we could do something about that. But what? Her teacher says that she does not complain at school, and has an attitude of polite patience in the classroom. Yeah. "Polite patience" pretty much sums up her attitude at home, too. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

So, here I am, in full information-gathering mode. If you have a story or some experience relating to this issue, AND I KNOW YOU DO, I'd like to hear it. In favor of grade-skipping, or against grade-skipping, or any experience with any solutions in between.

My sister and I were both October babies, and both fairly bright, and early readers. I started school early, while my sister started at the same age Bella did. I feel like my sister did better than I did at school, both academically and socially, and that she was better prepared for college at 18 than I was at 17. But how much of that is simply because our personalities were different? I just don't know.

Personally, I'm leaning toward keeping her where she is and trying to work hard to keep her engaged and interested. But how to do that? Is it even possible? By not letting her "skip ahead," am I actually holding her back? And how much of that feeling in me is powered by the overwhelming thought that, if she skips kindergarten, then that's ONE LESS YEAR I have with MY BABY?

Alex and I are already fighting about it, and I definitely don't want THAT. He wants to make a decision RIGHT NOW, and I know that he'd rather go ahead and advance her. I just want more information.

Anyone wanna give me some?