Helena’s Photos

All the photos here were done by Helena except a couple. Most were from our trip to New York.

Here is a self portrait.

On the road.


Little brother.


Best friend.


At the Ground Round.







On dad’s birthday on the way to the zoo.

Liam again.

Helena Loses a Tooth

Mom has been telling Helena to pull out her tooth in front for a long time. Helena really began working on it tonight when she realized that it was really loose.

Back in June, Helena fell outside and made her two front, bottom teeth loose. Apparently, her mouth thought that her baby teeth were gone, so her adult teeth began to come in. So there isn’t a huge gap in her mouth because there have been two teeth in the back already up just waiting for the old renters to finally move out.

The tooth fairy only gave a dollar. If you see her, please call her a cheapskate.

I should mention that Helena was very excited when her tooth came out. It was just before bedtime, and she couldn’t stop laughing and talking about it. I’m not sure how she ever got to sleep.



Dad’s Birthday

With the official Towne birthday hat on.

I’m not sure what I’m making a face for.

Liam enjoying the cake. He usually takes one or two bites of sweets and then stops. Not this time.

Daaaaad…..
Dalen not in her correct seat.




Dalen looking smart.

Dalen looking not so smart.

Ada’s face was scratched up because of a big fall at the zoo. No pictures of the zoo this year because the camera was left in the van.

Nice picture of Helena.

Helena Goes to School

I don’t have any photos of her first day except for the one below of her getting off the bus in front of my school, where she’ll be going everyday after school for the next 13 years (as long as I’m not fired before then). But here is how the day sort of went.

Helena was a bit nervous before she left for school in the morning. I packed her first lunch (“peanut butter and jelly sandwich – not the kind with the peanut butter and jelly mixed, but just plain peanut butter and strawberry jelly” – in her lunch box, and put it in her backpack with her sneakers.

When on the back porch before leaving, she told Dalen that she didn’t want things to change, which, of course made Dalen cry. But when I took Helena to school, she was pretty good. She goes to Minneapolis Kids at the school (in a trailer adjacent to the school, actually) in the morning, which is a day-care type of thing. I stayed with her for about twenty minutes, but she was a little nervous about playing with the other kids, although most of the other kindergarteners were the same way. So we played with some My Pretty Pony toys before I left for work. There weren’t any tears, and as far as I know, there haven’t been any at all since.

She gets a cafeteria number that she has to know in order to get food. Minneapolis Public Schools no longer accepts cash – all accounts must be paid for online or before school in advance, so for a week I made sure that she knew her number. As soon as she got to school, they had a name tag for her with the number right on it, anyway. Turns out that Helena didn’t go to breakfast because she said that she wasn’t hungry. I was convinced that she was too nervous about going into the cafeteria (fear of the unknown) because Helena isn’t one to turn free food down. (She has since gotten used to it and has gone in for breakfast, although she is quick to point out that the egg-muffin sandwich isn’t any good).

At lunchtime, I went back down to Minneapolis Kids to walk her to Kindergarten. Since Minneapolis Kids walk her over there each day, I was just going to walk beside her. When I arrived, she was playing with the other kids on the playground. I think every kid was playing by themselves – Helena happened to be climbing. They called all the kids over to line up and they took them inside the trailer to get their backpacks. I talked to two other parents who were there as well, but when the kids came out, Helena wasn’t there. Something got mixed up and she ended up in the wrong group, so I went in to get her and walked her over myself.

Ms. Sisler, her kindergarten teacher, asked the kids to sit down in a circle, which they all did (amazingly, only about 12 of the 25 kids were there on time – I still can’t figure that out) and she gave the kids directions about what they need to do each day when they come in (pick up their attendance stick and put it in the blue cup, put their backpacks in the cubby, clean their hands with the sanitizer, and then write their names down on a piece of paper on her desk). She was given a t-shirt with her name on it (I haven’t seen it since) and asked to draw a picture. I gave her a kiss and she told me goodbye. She seemed to be doing really well, although very quiet (just like the others).

Dalen went to Lake Harriet to help Helena get on bus number 3 which would take her to my school which is where she gets dropped off (there are bus stops here in Minneapolis – kids aren’t necessarily dropped off at their homes). She sat in the front seat. Dalen drove to my school and we both were there to get her off the bus. Helena told us about the older boys (grades 1 and 2!) that were in the back of the bus chanting, “We like girls” over and over.

Other than that, she didn’t give too many details of her day. Now, after seven days of school, she lets out a little bit more each day (what the boys say in the back of the bus, she mentions friends like Olivia, Cozette, and Cole, and how she doesn’t like Ms. Sisler’s substitute). She has me make lunch for her every other day now, and buys lunch in the cafeteria on the other days.

The worst thing that has happened from my perspective is the day she got on the wrong bus. After she got going, Helena did realize that she was on the wrong bus and told the drive, “I’m on the wrong bus!”. The driver radioed the correct bus, and they both met back at the school and Helena got on the correct one. But it didn’t seem to faze Helena that much. On Thursday of this week (day six of school) the bus driver missed the stop in front of my school. As the bus went by, I saw Helena in her front seat, but she didn’t say anything to the bus driver. The bus went around the corner of the school rather than stopping at the next block. I assumed that the driver realized his mistake and was going to go around the block. I went into the school to look out the other side to see if I could see th bus, but I never did. So I walked out the door by her stop once again and began talking to one of my new students while waiting for Helena to be dropped off.

After talking to her for a few minutes, she asks what I am doing waiting outside, and I tell her that I’m waiting for Helena. She asks how old she is. I tell her five. My student then says that just before I came out of the school the second time, she saw a little girl running up the hill and going in to the school. Yep, Helena was waiting in my room. She was dropped off two blocks away, but found her way. She was quite excited that she looked both ways before crossing the road.

The next day I called the school to make sure that she was dropped off properly, but as I waved frantically at the bus driver, he drove right past the stop again (but he did wave back!) I ran the two blocks as quick as I could in my work shoes, and somehow did catch up before he drove off after dropping Helena off. He checked his route schedule and realized his mistake, so it shouldn’t happen again.

Helena told Dalen a story while picking out clothes for the next day about older boys making fun of her because her underwear was showing on the playground. Then Helena said that she just made it up so that she wouldn’t have to wear jeans that she didn’t like. I believe the first story, but Helena is smart enough to pull something like this off, so I can’t be entirely sure. If it is true, I’m going to kick some first grader’s ass!

My students have warmed to her. She was the most popular kid at the football game on Friday. Having her at a neighborhood school that isn’t part of her own neighborhood will cause some headaches, but so far she is doing really well, except for forgetting her lunch box and jacket almost every day.