Tuesday, September 17, 2013

cece's first day of kindergarten, well kind of

A year and a half ago, I wrote a post about Cece's first day of preschool. Cece has been going to a Czech preschool called Happy Day for a year and a half. I cannot tell you what an answer to prayer this preschool is for us. Not only does Cece speak Czech now, she loves her preschool, her friends, her teachers, and she's learning more than just Czech.

I would wager to say that this is the best preschool in all the Czech Republic. (Have I been to other ones? No, but nonetheless.) A very nice Czech woman in our community had a vision to start a preschool that was student-centered, bilingual, and Montessori. And, while the building is not much to look at on the outside, yet (they are renovating it), inside, students are learning Czech and English, playing with Montessori manipulatives, and learning early literacy skills. Once a week, I teach a lesson there, and I have had a chance to meet with the teachers several times to talk lesson plans, unit outcomes, and what's best for students at this age.

Cece is still four, but this will likely be what they call here her year before school. Then, she'll start first class next year. Czech schools have 13 grades, and students usually start first class when they are six, so that's why it's hard to compare to the idea of Kindergarten. She's attending the same preschool as before, but this is her year before school.

(A little blurry, but Cece with her teacher Oli.)

We love Happy Day!

the best surprise, EVER!

About a month ago, I received this text message from my sister-in-law, Cait. Her and my brother Joel's wife, Crista, were scheming about his upcoming 30th birthday.

Well a few days later, I talked with Crista and she said that some friends and family were willing to chip in to buy a plane ticket for me to come "home" to Minnesota as a gift to Joel for his 30th birthday (happy birthday to me too, right?!). And then, a few days later, Crista asked if she got a few more people to chip in if I could bring Cece too. How could I say no? So, we purchased our plane tickets, and then, I didn't talk to my brother for two weeks as not to ruin the surprise. For those of you that don't know Joel, he's very intuitive. If I had talked to him on the phone, all I would have had to do was say, "hi, Joel", and he would have sensed something strange in my voice and likely would have asked, "Are you coming to Minnesota?" Thankfully, we didn't talk, and thankfully, Joel had no idea what his wife was planning for him!

On Thursday, August 29th, Cece and I began the flight across the ocean. We had a long layover in Chicago, and Cece was a trooper.

Cece and I arrived in Minnesota late Thursday night, the 29th of August. Rollie, Cait, and my mom picked us up at the airport. We had less than 24 hours to hide from Joel and keep our being there a secret. Joel's surprise party was planned for Friday night (his actual birthday is September 3rd). About 30 friends and family were planning to come to Rollie and Cait's house unbeknownst to Joel. His plan for that Friday night was to work on remodeling his kitchen, and we all knew he'd be annoyed about stopping that to "come to dinner" at Rollie and Cait's (a normal Friday night activity). Crista played it like a champ, and she acted annoyed at the invitation for dinner. So Joel and Crista begrudgingly headed to Rollie and Cait's for a very normal Friday night dinner, so Joel thought.

He never dreamed of what was waiting for him in a big box. Check out this video:

Joel's Birthday Surprise from Aleisha Stephens on Vimeo.

What a great present, huh? Cece said later that when it's her birthday, Joel needs to be wrapped in a box waiting to surprise her . . . we'll see.

Cece and I had the time of our lives for those few days in Minnesota.

And what about the boys? They stayed home with Daddy and ate ice cream!

I'm so glad Cece and I got to be at my brother's 30th birthday party.