The bottle-nose dolphin, in all her glory.
A piece of paper came home in Michaela's folder in January, announcing the famous annual Whale Museum. Every child was assigned a whale or dolphin and had to write a pretty impressive report about the animal as well as create a 3D version of the animal to put on display at the Whale Museum. Parents, teachers and other classes are then invited to come in and see the kids' work on Whale Museum Day.
The assignment suggested modelling clay, paper mache- anything to create this 3D model. I casually asked Michaela, "Soooooo... what are you going to make yours out of?" And she quickly answered, "Well, I'm going to sew one, of course."
Well, of course.
So that put the gears in motion: printing out pictures of bottle-nose dolphins, assembling a pattern on our living room floor for the stuffed animal out of manila folders taped together, a rather riotous trip to Joann Fabrics, where Michaela declared, "I'll know the fabric I want to use when I see it...", Mommy worrying that the fabric Michaela chose was too slippery and would be a nightmare to sew (it wasn't), cutting out the fabric, helping Michaela use my new sewing machine, Michaela and Jenna and I stuffing the heck out of it, rearranging the stuffing a dozen times, Michaela hand-sewing the fins and tail on while Mommy coaches, "Even stitches! Use even stitches!!", Michaela and Mommy almost coming to blows over the placement of the blowhole and whether anything would actually be coming out of it. Dan helped us make the stand for it out of a dowel screwed to a wooden plaque, and VIOLA! A bottle-nosed dolphin for the Whale Museum was born.
She did most of the work, but I think I did all of the fretting about it.
Michaela at the Whale Museum, showing off her creation.
And really, it turned out great. She had lots of kids asking her about it at the Whale Museum, including one kid who I swear stood next to it for about ten minutes, petting the side of the dolphin the whole time.
"Can I keep this when you're done?' he asked Michaela.
"No way!" she answered.
I had to leave the Whale Museum early to go to Jenna's classroom and teach another lesson from the Junior Achievement curriculum. I did Junior Achievement for Michaela's class in second grade, and being a mom who is sensitive to the fact that Everything Should Be Equal for All Her Children,, signed up in September to teach JA for Jenna's class, doing all five lessons in the first three weeks of February. It is a very, very well thought out and easy to teach package of lessons about working, jobs, community, and money, and is really a lot of fun. I also like doing it because I like to eyeball the kids in the girls' classes and this is a great opportunity to get to know them better. In first grade the girls are so sweet and pretty and charming and the boys are just as cute, friendly and guileless. Every lesson was based on this oversized poster of a community showing houses and businesses and people helping each other. The kids were utterly fascinated by this poster, and repeatedly said, "I wish I could jump into that poster and LIVE THERE!" at the beginning of each lesson. Which is kind of funny because we live in a really nice town with houses and businesses and people helping each other already.
The tough thing about teaching JA was that I had to do it at the end of day, because Jenna hates having me come into school and then leave, and her teacher thought it would be best if I came right before dismissal. That meant my whole schedule was screwed up, and Alec got to play those afternoons with my mom, which he loved, but did not get to nap. Which makes he and I quite cranky.
The fun thing about teaching JA was walking into the classroom, hearing the kids say, "Jenna! Your MOM IS HERE!" and then seeing Jenna's sweet little face light up when she saw me. It almost makes all those nights she screamed for hours in her crib all worth it. Not quite, but almost.