Monday, February 21, 2011

The Pemberton 50K

The Pemberton 50K in Scottsdale, AZ kicked off Team Baby Alex Foundation's 2011 season. The race was awesome. Such an incredible group of people who race ultras--very low key. Ultra running legend Pam Reed raced, and several of the top ultra runners either ran or manned the aid stations. Since I had just finished reading Pam Reed's book, it was a thrill to see her in person. She is tiny, and I believe one of the ways to save your joints if you are an ultra runner is to avoid carrying any extra weight!

Alex and Izzy came out to see me off and met me half way through. Alex loves a race. He was chanting "Go Mommy Go" at the start. Izzy was angry that I wasn't running with her in tow. The race started at 5pm and around 6:30 I turned on my headlamp. Running at night is a bit surreal and lots of fun. I finished in 5:58, and had a great time. We then spent the a week in AZ training in the McDowell Mountains, in hot, dry weather. Returned a bit achy and tired, but strong. It's snowing today in the northeast and I can't remember why we live here.

The best part of the week was seeing the kids blossom on the trails. Izzy is turning out to be an exceptional runner. We took the kids to the trails every day and let them dictate our speed and length. On the first day, we had to drag Izzy off the trail because we were all starving for breakfast. She would have kept going. Alex loves to say now that we are going for a "trail run". We took them to a nature hike that had pictures and samples of the flora and fauna and they learned a little about the AZ environment. Education trip.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

School Comparison

Choosing the right school for a child is difficult, especially when they are little and have trouble expressing what they like and don't like about a teacher or environment. Alex is such an agreeable child that he does his best to get along with everyone and be happy no matter the situation. It took a horrible experience with his montessori school this fall for us to realize that we needed to pay closer attention to Alex and Izzy's verbal and non-verbal cues in regard to their school setting, babysitters, playdates, etc. We left them in that school too long, hoping things would get better and suffered a very difficult few months following their withdrawal as we tried to make up for the damage done. Although I still support montessori methods in theory, I see how those methods could be used as a blanket to cover for poor teachers. When I found Izzy crying on a bench at her montessori school, and was told that she was crying because she was being forced to sit on the bench and would not be allowed to play with the other children until she put her shoes on by herself (at 21 months), and was told that montessori supports children doing things for themselves, I realized this school had completely misinterpreted Maria Montessori's message.

Last week we visited another school. I had to drag Izzy into the car because when I mentioned "school" she completely melted down, terrified of another bad experience. But, when I finally got both children in the door of this new school, they immediately relaxed. Izzy spent a few minutes apart from everyone as she assessed the situation. Alex jumped right in. By the end, they were totally unconcerned about whether I might leave them there for the day. They were happy. On the ride home, they both said they loved the school and wanted to attend. This was a huge change from the fall, when Izzy cried every day when I dropped her off and every day when I picked her up.

One thing I like about our new school is that the classes are small, no more than about 10 students per class. Additionally, it combines montessori methods with traditional play and teaching. It seems many private schools are adopting this method, of using the best of montessori with other more traditional teacher-centered instruction, to make the environment more comfortable for the children, especially the youngest ones. Although I am a former teacher with an Masters in Education, I am not an expert. I look at education through the eyes of my children now. They are bright, motivated children who crave knowledge. So, we are working as a team this time, evaluating schools (babysitters, friends, etc) together, to make the best decisions we can.