The Business of Private Kindergarten


Our little town only offers half-day kindergarten, and with my husband, my mom, and I working full-time, it doesn't make sense to put Lewie into a 2.5 hour kindergarten program and then a non-enriching after care program for 4 hours!  Plus, it doesn't seem fair that children in surrounding towns will be benefiting from a full-day curriculum.  (Won't my son get behind?)

So, I made a decision early on that we would place my son in a private, full-day kindergarten, so he would benefit from a full-day curriculum while having plenty of activities and experiences to keep him entertained during the day.  The only problem, however, is the price tag... 

The cheapest program we've found is $1000 per month or $10,000 for 10 months.  They go up from there with some costing $22,000 for 10 months!!  OUCH!

As it turns out, visiting kindergarten programs are not much different from visiting colleges.  We either set-up a school tour or go to an "open house," and we get all sorts of pamplets and literature about the curriculum, the classes, the tuition, and even the financial aid.  (By the way, these schools are only generous with families that have more than one kid.)

Over a month ago, we visited our second private kindergarten called Alphabet Academy.  Here they're known for this amazing garden where they grow seasonal fruits and vegetables all year round and then create culinary masterpieces in their kitchen.  That's right...there's no packing lunches or snacks here; instead, all children and teachers are given the same food to eat--a certified home made, locally grown meal without growth hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides. 

Some other interesting features of this kindergarten is their Yoga program, their art classes (that only use recycled materials), and their very elaborate activities including Obstacle Olympics, map making, Venn diagrams, etc. etc.

A second school we just visited last week boasts about its outside Nature's Classroom (yes, lots of classes are conducted outside), and its foreign language curriculum in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese!

At first, I was a little swept away by the hype.  Of course my son needs to go to a kindergarten with a professional chef to feed him daily.

Then I gave myself a reality check.  I don't even have the time to prepare fresh, wholesome, organic meals.  Even more, my son will be going to public school in first grade--home to chicken nuggets and Ellio's pizza.  Won't this school make adapting to public school even that much harder?

Call me old fashioned, but at the end of the day, I just want my son to have a kind, supportive kindergarten teacher that will help him with his reading, writing, and math skills and then give him a chance to play.  He doesn't need to learn Mandarin Chinese--send him outside to get some fresh air, sun, and a chance to play on the swings or get dirty in a sandbox.  

I'm not preparing my five year-old son to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company; I just want my five year-old to learn, play, and have a chance to socialize with other kids.

So, right now I'm in a quandary.  Where will he go to kindergarten?  How much money will be spending?  Will he enjoy his new school?  And, will his new school still allow him to be a kid?  There are a few more open houses on the horizon... 

Please keep your fingers crossed for us.

Mother's Day 2014 Recap


Sunday was an all-around fun Mother's Day.  First, we started it with a visit from the Tooth Fairy.  (Yes, my son lost his very first tooth!) 

Then, I was surprised by a beautiful bouquet of flowers that my son picked out for me all by himself!  It was pink and orange--his favorite colors--and it had a butterfly on top.  My husband had try to convince him to buy me an angel (since I have a small collection), but my son was convinced that I had to have this bouquet of flowers with a butterfly.  He couldn't have bought me a more perfect gift.  I LOVE receiving flowers, and the butterfly reminds me of my grandmother; in fact, any time I see a butterfly, I often think it's my grandmother saying "hello" from above.

At noon, it was time to take Lewie to swim lessons and watch him swim all by himself.  The teacher had him jump into the pool from the diving board, which is yet another mini-milestone.  Going to his lesson was a BIG DEAL for me because there are many Sundays that I use the time to stay home and correct papers instead.  This Sunday was different.  This Sunday was about being with my little buddy.

After swim lessons, we headed over to my in-laws to wish my mother-in-law, my two sisters-in-law, and my niece a happy Mother's day.  Lewie was able to enjoy being with his cousins for a while--all five of them to be exact--and he even got a little jealous when watching me play with his younger ones on the trampoline:  "Hey, only I get to sit on my Mommy's lap!"

Finally, we ended the day by picking up my mom for dinner.  I made reservations at this quaint restaurant called The Hopkins Inn, which is know for its patio dining.  The scenery from the patio was like eye candy;  from one direction, we could see a breathtaking view of its nearby vineyard and from the other, we had a bird's eye view of Lake Waramaug.  Even Lewie, who often complains about eating at restaurants, liked the place and the food.  (He was disappointed that they didn't have chocolate chip pancakes, but the crepes filled with ice cream and drizzled in hot fudge sure made up for it!)

My son's lower right tooth is missing, but you can't see it in this picture.

Five is a hard age to get my son to just sit and smile with me.

Lewie just loves his Gramy!

My two boys relaxing by the lake after a full meal.

So happy to celebrate Mother's Day with my mom!

The patio at the Hopkins Inn.

This restaurant has been an inn since 1847.

A view of where we were just sitting.

The vineyard next door.

The last picture I could take before my family got restless with me. 
(I could have spent the whole day taking pictures of the vineyard.)

This year's Mother's day was perfect; I feel blessed to be able to have spent it with my own mom, my husband, my in-laws, and my little boy.  This year I celebrated five full years of being a Mommy, and there is nothing in this world I'd rather be! 

Train City (In Our Living Room)


Over the past few months, my son's obsession with trains has heightened.   We moved from the Thomas Wooden Railway collection to the Thomas Trackmaster Train sets, where the trains now move themselves.
Train Heaven
"Look Mommy!  Watch Percy go!"

It all started when Grammy (my mom) took him to Toys R Us to buy him some Trackmaster tracks and a train of his choice; he chose a remote control Percy.  He was so in love with his new train set that he asked me if we could make something special for Grammy, and so one evening last month, my husband, Little Lewie, and me all gathered around the kitchen table to help make Grammy a special card.  Once the card was done, Lewie grabbed a few toys to put around the card, and then proceeded to call Grammy to come over to our house.  (She lives next door.)  He turned off the light, and when she came over, he flipped the light on and yelled "Surprise!!  I have something special for you Grammy on the table."

My husband and I just looked at each other and grinned;  it was one of our proudest moments.  The whole surprise for Grammy was Lewie's idea--from the card, to the toy gifts, right down to shutting off the light...

A few weeks later, Lewie got another Trackmaster set for Easter and a few more trains from the Easter Bunny.  Now my living room looks like this...

The Polar Express is by the window, his Thomas Trackmaster set is in the middle, and his train table is on the right.

I must admit that it's been fun watching this "new stage."  For years, I've been watching my son push trains around on his train table and making comments like, "Watch out, Express coming through."  Now he's been putting his own train tracks together, making all sorts of interesting mountains, tunnels, twists and turns.  

The only problem or minor complaint I have with this stage is that we don't have much room. Our kitchen and bedrooms are tiny, so the only available space in the house is our living room, and let's just say that both Mommy and Daddy have been known to trip on these masterpieces a LOT, especially when we forget about them in the dark.  

Oh well, seeing that it gives him hours upon hours of enjoyment, it's a small price to pay.  Lewie will be the first one to tell me, "Mommy, I'm using my imagination."  Yay for trains!