Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tired of Doing Stuff

This week is kicking my butt. Between Open House on Monday, planning for our street’s block party Tuesday and Bunco tonight, I’m ready to have a nice night at home. But tomorrow’s Karate. Fortunately, Karate is pretty short—only an hour—so we should be able to get in, learn the new technique (Roundhouses this week!), and get home pretty earlyish. I definitely don’t want to do anything Friday night. However, it feels like there was something planned for that night that I’m forgetting. I’m sure it will come to me. Probably Thursday night right before I go to sleep. :(

I didn’t get to see Laura at all today, excepting the gentle petting of her head I gave her a little while ago over the railing of her crib. I hate days where I run so much that I miss an entire day of my children’s lives. I know that’s melodramatic, but it really does kind of bother me. I did enjoy Bunco tonight, but I’m glad that I don’t have any more big stuff planned for the week.

Weekend, here we come!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book’n It

My boy can read.

I mean, yeah, he can’t read everything, but he can dang sure try. It’s pretty cool watching him evolve into this reading person. We sit, snuggled on the couch, and he reads various library books. In the past, I’ve always kind of directed him specifically toward several books and let him freely choose one or two of his own. He would always kind of give mine a chance, but he was always really into the ones he picked on his own. So tonight, I let him have total control over the books he got.

It helped that when we got to the library one of the little girls in his class was there, too. He was very excited to see her and they spent the majority of the time running back and forth around the children’s area, picking books, bringing them to me or the little girl’s mom and then running off to find more. The girl’s mom and I had a really good talk—they’re new to the area and I shared our favorite parks and museums—and I think they will be a fun family to get together with for play dates at some point.

So we got home with the new books and Harrison and I (eventually after all the other evening crap that had to be done) sat on the couch and he read to me about the Punk Farm Animals who went on tour and sang about the wheels on the van going round and round. My favorite part was when he would sing the song in his best rocker voice. He cracks me up in his earnestness and enthusiasm. I imagine he’ll go into the performing arts in some way or other. :)

Monday, September 28, 2009


Open House was tonight. I always worry about the impression we give off as parents. Are we too lenient in not beating the boy every time he interrupts as we’re trying to talk to someone? Are we too strict, threatening to spank him if he gets out of line? Do we toe the line by saying more or less? Does the teacher look at us and think to herself, “Oh, well that finally makes sense!” about his behavior? (As an aside, I’ve had this particular “Ah ha!” moment many times.)

I think, in the grand scheme of things, I’ve found my counterbalance for the worry, though. At the school tonight, we met Harrison’s teacher and then he showed us around the campus. We saw the computer room, the music room and where he sits in the cafeteria (any of the seats that don’t have pink paper taped to them—they sit boy-girl-boy-girl, I guess to avoid any boy-boy-boy misbehavior).

As we were leaving the school, one of the other parents walked past us. Now, I’m typically not a judgmental person. As a larger girl, I don’t like to cast aspersions on another person’s weight, especially another woman’s. We have enough people telling us we’re not society’s ideal and so I tend to be a live and let live kind of gal. But this girl was not small. Nor was she wearing a bra. She was,  however, wearing a very snugly fitting pair of pants and a one shouldered snug black stretchy top. The entire outfit was finished up with a pair of platform sandals at least three inches tall.

Any worries about not being a good enough parent went right out the door with this woman’s camel toe and muffin top.

I kind of wish I had taken a picture.

I don’t judge her for wearing that outfit, in general. If that’s what makes her happy, more power. But you know? When you’re heading up to meet your kid’s teacher and principal and the parents of his or her classmates, is the one shouldered top that is two sizes two snug the right choice? Was it laundry day? Was everything else she had to wear in the washing machine? Was she wearing it, Scarlett O’Hara-style, because her husband had accused her of cheating on him and he wanted the entire town to see her looking that way?

I wish I had been a fly on the wall when that ensemble choice was made.

But then, I really don’t.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

No Joiner, He

Harrison has never been one of those kids who enjoys participatory television. I mean, he’ll watch it well enough—he’s not got any problem with that, but if someone asks a question and expects the audience from home to answer, he’s just not down with it. Never has been. Blue’s Clues,  Sesame Street, anything with a problem to solve and an audience to ask questions to. I’d always try to encourage him to participate—ask him what the answer to the question was, that kind of thing—but he’d never want to do it.

Which brings us to this evening. Robert had gone to get groceries and I had both kids at home while I was trying to get some laundry done. I decided to put Little Einsteins on for them to watch. We had watched it yesterday and both kids were pretty entranced with it, so I figured it was a no-brainer.

If you’ve ever seen Little Einsteins, you know that there are participatory events in it. “Pat-pat-pat!” “Clap-clap-clap” “Sing along!” That kind of stuff.

So we’re watching it, Laura from the floor where she’s looking up with big, solemn eyes at the magic box hanging from the wall, Harrison from the couch where he’s sipping his milk and eating his cheese sticks while never removing his eyes from the screen and me standing behind the couch, sorting and folding laundry.

The first “Pat pat pat!” comes up and I try to get him to do it. I pat-pat-pat my own legs and he just looks at me, then turns back to the TV.

The “Clap-clap-clap!” comes up and I clap along while he gives me the stink eye.

Another “Pat-pat-pat!” happens and as I begin patting enthusiastically, he looks at me with narrowed eyes and says, “Don’t you have some work you need to be doing?”

He’s already ready for management. I guess if I’ve got time to lean, I’ve got time to clean. :)

As a side note, later on in the show I was away from the couch, reloading the washing machine and I heard him “Pat-pat-pat” and raise his arms, screaming for the Rocket to take off. I guess maybe he just didn’t want an audience. Psychologically, there’s a lot there that I understand.

Goofy kid.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Speak, Oh Muse…

I often don’t know what I’m going to write about when I sit down at night. And it invariably ends up being night time when I write. Chasing two kids and trying to get life done and keep hubby happy and any number of other things, all during the day, just doesn’t foster the clarity of mind I need when I write. So usually around 11 pm or so, I head to the keyboard and clickity clack for about half an hour or more, hoping the Muse won’t neglect me on this night. But I usually don’t know what the Muse will be telling me until I actually sit down and start de-jellifying my head.

I think about things throughout the day, though, and wonder how I would write them up if I were to sit down at a keyboard just at that moment. I might have five or six majorish things happen in a day and say to myself about each one, “Well, that will make an interesting story tonight!” Sometimes, it’s not even that major a thing but will just be a funny turn of phrase Harrison uses or a look that Laura gives me. At the end of the day, as I’m sifting through all these things, I am sometimes surprised at what the Muse decides will be the story for the day.

I’ve been writing this day-to-day business now for over three months—the date came and went without me even noticing. One quarter of a year, documented for future reference. A slice of my life, as it were. I like that I didn’t even notice when it happened—it makes me feel like I’m not just counting days anymore but that I’m really getting into the nitty gritty of my days. Telling real stories instead of “Today [fill in the blank] happened. It was [fill in emotion].” I feel like I’m moving on past the Mad Libs version of my life story, so that’s pretty cool.

I also like that I’m noticing these things in my day-to-day life. I’m not sure if I noticed things as much before I started this. I’m sure I must have. I can’t imagine just walking through life like a zombie, never seeing the sweetness of a smile or smelling the crispness on the air. I just don’t remember doing it. Now, though, I think back and even if I don’t write about it, I feel like I experience things more solidly.

So what did I do today? I slept late. (Thank you honey! You’re the best!) I played with the kids and watched some TV with Harrison. (He’s not gotten to watch much TV since school started up, so I think a little bit of Saturday morning cartoons is just about perfect.) I worked on the booklet I’m making for Harrison’s Karate class. (They have this paragraph of related-but-not-specifically-related stuff they want him to learn for his yellow belt test but it’s boring as crap to read. I’m taking each sentence of the paragraph and giving him an image that goes with it, as well as some stuff to color. I think he’ll be able to remember the information better that way.) Cody, Amy and Cody’s mom came over for supper. (We ate low carb Cheeseburger Casserole, which was pretty awesome. Amy made cheesecake but I didn’t eat my whole piece since I was close to my limit for the day. Hope she didn’t mind me not eating it—it was pretty good. :) ) Bathed both kids, Harrison once and Laura twice. (Laura vomited what looked like an entire bottle on Robert when I tried giving her her antibiotics. Oh yeah, she’s got a UTI—again—so we’ll probably be going to Dallas again at some point to see her specialist again. RE: the vomit, though, I think I hit her gag reflex with the medicine dropper because she didn’t have any other kind of symptoms.) We all played Beatles Rock Band. It’s pretty cool.

Written out like that, my day looks kind of bland. That said, though, I feel that, overall, it’s been a good day. I spent time with my family, we had some friends over, and everyone is more or less healthy. It’s hard to complain about that.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Fair Day

Oh, my, I’m so very tired. It’s a good tired, though. Mom and I got up at the butt crack of dawn this morning and left the house, loaded down with student artworks, heading to the State Fair for the Glue-A-Shoe contest. I have almost come to the decision that I might could become a morning person, granted enough coffee is provided.

After a pleasant drive west (away from the blinding sun!), we got to the fair grounds with about 30 minutes to spare. Turns out it wasn’t just the contest happening today, but also the fair, itself! Holy crap! So there’s $10 for parking. Another $15 per person for entry to the fair. I’ve got the $2 per student collected and so that will cover some, but I was going to have to cover a good bit myself, since I had to miss yesterday and didn’t get to collect payment from everyone before I left.

You might imagine how incensed I was that none of these fees (excepting the $2 entry fee for the contest) was mentioned anywhere at all on the entry registration form. But I figured, ‘Whatever, I got up at a ridiculous hour, drove three hours to get here and I’m not giving up now!’ So I paid my $10 parking fee. After finagling my way to the very first row of the parking lot to within 10 yards of the entrance gate (!!!), mom and I both loaded up with as many shoes as we could carry and headed over to get in line and pay to get in.

Enter Mom: Deus Ex Machina.

Mom saw that there was a booth that was completely line-less, even though there were people in it. The sign overhead said it was for ‘Cash Only,’ but mom figured that nothing was ventured, nothing was gained so she went over (carrying her six shoe sculptures) to ask if we could pay with credit cards there. After a quick mumbled conversation, mom waved me over and the woman told me that since we were entering an event, we could go on through.

For Free.


So that rocked my world. We slipped in, headed up the path and got our shoes entered in plenty of time. The other people in line were duly impressed with my genius students. We had, among others, a Shoe (Sous) Chef, a surf board (Surfin’ Shoe-S-A) and Judge Shoedy (Judy). After a very long, very frustrating judging session that they let us watch, we finally got the results. While the Shoe Chef was overlooked (foul, I say!), Judge Shoedy and Shooby-Doo got Honorable Mentions. Considering we had never entered the fair before and I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants, I’m pretty proud. Next year, we’re going to dominate.

After the judging and wagging all the non-placing (I hate calling them losing!) sculptures back to my rather auspiciously parked van, mom and I head back in to check out the fair some.

For Free. :)

We rode the ferris wheel, of course. We walked around and saw the exhibits. We smelled the food. (I’m proud to say that I didn’t eat a single bit of Fair Food—I had brought a light lunch and while we were returning stuff to the van I noshed on it.)

I love the sensory experience of the fair. The sounds of the game callers, the rides, the crowds. The smell of deep fried everything (they have Deep Fried Butter this year—holy cow!). The gamey smell of the animals when you pass their barn. The feel of the wind on your face when you’re at the top of the wheel, watching the miniature rides below whip tiny little ant people from side to side. For someone as antisocial and agoraphobic as I am, it’s amazing that I enjoy the fair as much as I do, but I think it’s the same thing as visiting a big city like New York. I don’t know all those people and so if I have a meltdown, I’m not worried about someone filing it away in their brains for the next time they see me. For some reason, when I don’t have to worry about that, I calm down a bit and don’t mind being around so many people who insist on breathing my air.

So. The fair was good. The contest was good. Time with mom was good—we don’t get to do that kind of just-her-and-me thing very often and so it was cool to do that today. Being out of work was pretty awesome, although I’m ready to head back on Monday and get back in the groove. But before I do that, I’m heading to the bedroom and hitting the hay. I’ve been up since 5 am and I’m exhausted!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I stayed home with the girl today. She was “sick,” so they tell me, but to see her playing, you’d never believe it. If she wasn’t laughing, she was playing and when she was doing neither of those, she was eating or sleeping. Fever, schmever—the doctor said she had a virus, but I think she’s teething. The poo is of a slimy/playdoughy texture (yeah, tmi—I know). She is drooling a good bit. She coughs from time to time, but I think it might be drainage from all the danged drooling she’s doing. We do know it’s not the flu, so I’m grateful there, but really, she hasn’t had another fever spike since Robert picked her up from daycare on Wednesday afternoon.

She talked tonight, though, so that’s pretty cool. (Yeah, why didn’t I lead with that, right?) I was walking into the room after taking the boy to karate class (good class tonight—side kicks!), and I said something to Robert. As soon as she heard me, she turned her head and said, “Mama,” much to the amazement of me and mom (who is visiting tonight—long story). The boys were a bit blasé about it all—Robert claims to have heard her say it before and Harrison doesn’t really care—but I was pretty stoked about it. Sure beats Harrison’s “Duck” first word talking. :)

Now off to bed to get up at the butt crack of dawn to drive to Dallas in the morning to take my kids’ sculptures to the State Fair. I’m really excited about entering these works in the contest and I hope to have good news to post tomorrow! Just wish I didn’t have to be up sooooooo early to be there by 9 am. Sigh.

Off to bed!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Go Read A Book!

Banned Book Week is coming up.

As a former Book Chick, this is a big deal to me. I worked for years in book stores, catering to the needs and desires of the book-buying public. My favorite time of year was always the time when we would haul out the tables and pile them high with books that had been (or currently were) banned.

Now, under the First Amendment, we have the freedom of speech and by proxy, the freedom to read pretty much whatever we dang well want. But plenty of parents and community members all across this great land have decided over the years that they know much better than anyone else what is right and appropriate to be sprinkled into the minds of others.

I don’t have a problem with parents choosing to opt out of allowing their kids to read things that they disagree with. I would prefer that parents talk over the books with their kids and help the kids decide whether they are appropriate. Instead of playing the martinet and demanding their wishes be fulfilled, it always seemed to me that it would be more effective if the child and parent discussed why a book didn’t fit into a family’s moral codes and go from there.  But I’m a realist and I know that there are plenty of parents who prefer to make those decisions on their own. Whatever. They’re your kids, do with them what you will (legally, of course).

My problem is when these same self-righteous parents decide to tell me that I or my children shouldn’t be reading something because it’s “bad for us.” You may wear blinders all you want, but I prefer to make my own choices, thankyouverymuch. I will decide what my children consume, entertainment-wise, and I don’t need any busybodies butting into that decision. My kid plays video games, but my husband and I have talked about which ones are appropriate for him to play. My kid watches movies and TV, but we have discussed what he does not need to see. He is just getting going on the reading front, but when the time comes for him to choose books himself that don’t involve the Bernstein Bears or a Dr. Seuss character, you can bet we’ll be talking about those as well.

Check out these links for videos, BBW merchandise and just plain old good information:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vegetarians Need Not Apply

We’re back on the low carb wagon.

I’m actually pretty excited about it. Now that we’re definitely done with having kids and I’m kind of catching my breath from becoming a parent again six and one-half months ago, I feel like we’ve got a fighting chance. We’ve tried dieting in the past few months, but I will be the first to admit that I was halfhearted about it, at best. I wanted the results, but I just didn’t have the energy to put into making it happen.

So now, school is back in, the kids are in their respective schooling/care facilities and time isn’t going to slow down any more than it already is. Robert went grocery shopping last night and spent a ton of money on meats and the various things that go with this lifestyle. I was not truly prepared this morning, but I soldiered through and amazingly didn’t cheat once, even though I had several chances to do so.

After a nap when we got home from school, I sent Harrison to play in his room and I spent several hours getting food prepped so that it would be ready to grab and run. I just don’t have time for a lot of sit-down meals, but grabbing a few peeled boiled eggs or meat muffins and eating them while I’m driving to work is totally doable. After getting the ‘to go’ foods made and put away, I pulled out the stuff for one of my old favorites, Cheesy Chili Pork Chops. It’s a quick, super easy recipe that tastes phenomenal and is very filling. As a bonus, I had enough left over to pack a chop for lunch tomorrow.

My biggest immediate hurdle will be not pigging out at BUNCO tomorrow night. I am going to pick up some kind of carby crap to take—cake, cookies, whatever—but I’m going to eat two or three meat muffins before I head so I won’t be hungry and all I’ll do while there is drink diet soda or coffee. I think I’m going to be able to do it.

I’m tired of excuses. I’m tired of huffing and puffing at the top of one flight of stairs. I’m tired of aches and pains that are too much for someone my age.

So we’ll see.

We’ll see.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lemon Starch

I ironed a shirt for Harrison tonight. I don’t iron. Ever. I mean, I press seams as I’m sewing garments, but I don’t iron clothes as a general rule. Tomorrow is school picture day, though, and even though he wears the same shirt I ironed to church all the time “dryer pressed,” I wanted to make sure he looked nice since there would be photographic evidence. :)

The smell of the starch kind of threw me for a loop. My grandma always used lemon scented spray starch on her laundry. I never much paid attention to it, but the smell was always kind of there when I was a kid.

During the summer of 1990, I remember going to spend a week or two in Arkansas with my grandparents. Grandpa and my cousin Jody had convinced me to get up on stage with them at the monthly jam session they had with their musical friends. I couldn’t play an instrument to save my life, but I could sing, so I figured that would be just dandy.

In preparation for my night on the stage, Grandma took special care with my wardrobe. She washed and dried my clothes, which was not that out of the ordinary, but she also ironed them. Now, I come by my not caring to iron honestly—my mom never much cared to iron either. We did a lot of wash-n-wear when I was a kid. I still do. It always seemed a senseless task to me since an hour after you put the garment on, it’s just going to be wrinkled all over again. If we were wearing something that was ridiculously wrinkled, we’d spot press it and call it good, but we didn’t sit around ironing stuff just because it had been wet at some point and had then been dried. That was crazy talk.

So when my Grandma ironed the woven cotton shirt, I didn’t think too much about it—it was kind of wrinkled and I might have done the same thing in the same situation. What got me was when Grandma started ironing my blue jeans. Never in my life had I considered the need to iron jeans. I still think it’s kind of silly, but I’ll tell you what, it was probably the smoothest feeling pair of pants I ever wore. The tangy smell of lemon scented starch hung about me all night up on that stage, through the good (my voice sounded pretty nice) as well as the bad (my timing was pretty terrible, which I still contend would have been better if we had had at least one run through of the songs I was singing before the crowds showed up). What’s more, they looked good. Grandma knew that all of Sparkman, Arkansas was going to be there that night and she wanted to make sure her little girl looked as nice as possible.

To this day, the smell of lemon starch reminds me of my Grandma. I don’t use it often—I’m usually a steam and nothing much else kind of girl (when I bother to iron at all), but every now and then I break out the can and spritz and glide. I had forgotten about the smell and its associations until tonight when I was ironing Harrison’s shirt. The first spray, though, caused me to buckle at the knees though and even now, several hours later, I’m still a little choked up thinking about Grandma.

It’s the little things that matter and I suppose I want Harrison to look nice for his pictures tomorrow the same way that Grandma wanted me to look nice for Sparkman. In the grand scheme, it doesn’t make a hill of beans. He’ll probably be rumpled regardless of how much I try to dress him up. But I hope he smells the lemons and makes a sensory connection. I hope he always thinks of lemon starch as a happy smell.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

No Man, Really, It Could Happen!

Just got done watching The Karate Kid on TCM. Man, I love ‘80s movies.

I love the audacity of the filmmakers. They took completely implausible plots and made us believe them. I mean, really—a kid moves from New Jersey to LA, gets into trouble with the local martial arts hooligans and an aging maintenance man comes to his rescue, karate chopping him some Cobra Kai butt. When the kid and old man go down to the dogo to try to talk the local sensei into calling off his attack squad, the overly militaristic teacher talks them into entering the All Valley Karate Championship instead. The kid, who has never studied karate a day in his life, trains in the most unconventional manner imaginable—wax on, wax off! sand on, sand off!—and goes on to defeat his nemesis in a black belt competition. Yeah. The kid beat all the other black belts in Los Angeles. With a geed up leg.

Wax on. Wax off.

I know we just started karate lessons and I sound like an insufferable know-it-all, but really, this is just silly. By this logic, if I could get Pat Morita to train Harrison for the next two months, Harrison could win the championship tournament and be the coolest kid in town.

Oh wait. Pat Morita’s dead.


Guess we’re going to have to do it the old fashioned way.

All this aside, I really do love this movie. Wonder what Ralph Macchio is up to these days? And Elizabeth Shue?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Clowning Around

We had what is technically considered the first big event through the Longview Children’s Museum today (which has been renamed, but I’m not at liberty to discuss it at the moment—big media announcement coming up in our neck of the woods—how self-important am I? :) ). Byron held his clowning workshop and we had a really good time playing with make-up and making goofy faces. I really did not expect Harrison to participate in this, as 1) he was too young for the original middle school age bracket that was suggested for the event and 2) he spent the night with my parents so he could get a haircut. I figured he wouldn’t be back home until well after the class was over at noon.

However, I got an email recently from Mike saying that they needed warm bodies; would Harrison or any of his friends be interested? The age limit had been rescinded. I passed the info on to a few friends who are in town, but didn’t figure the boy would be back from my folks’ in time. As it turned out, Dad was just about to drive up to my house for drop-off this morning when the class was about to begin. The obvious solution was to have them join us at the senior center where the class was being held.

Despite the age issue, Harrison did pretty well at the class. He paid attention to Byron’s demo and laughed at all the right moments. (He is five, after all and Byron is a clown…) When we were presented with the make-up, Harrison started smearing the white all over his face like a pro, blending much better than I would have figured possible. He got a little loosey-goosey when he started applying color with big rings of red around his eyes and mouth, but I think overall, the final result, if a little creepy, was pretty well done.

He talked me into doing my make-up as well, which was pretty fun. I took my time and tried to get it “right” and, considering that this was amateur quality makeup (especially the pencils for outlining!), I feel like I did a pretty good job. At the very least, Harrison and I had a really good time ‘clowning around’ and I think it will be one of those things we look back on and talk about for years to come.

I only got one good picture on my phone, but I’ll be getting more from Dad (who stayed around to take lots and lots of photos) tomorrow, so I’ll try to get them posted soon.


Friday, September 18, 2009


So we did pushups and sit-ups this morning. Man, are my arms feeling it. Man, am I a wuss—10 pushups and I’m sore. Man, I need to get in shape.

Now that Laura’s here and there is no more possibility of having kids, I think I am ready to do something about losing the baby weight. I lost most of the Laura Weight pretty quickly (although I fear I’ve gained a little of it back—I’m afraid to get on a scale until I’m ready to do something real about it), but I’m still carrying around a good 30 pounds of Harrison Weight.

I think, psychologically, I just wasn’t prepared to go through all the work and effort to lose the weight from his gestation when I knew that I’d be turning right around and gaining it back. The year or so before we decided to try getting pregnant with him, Robert and I had lost a lot of weight and were really the fittest we had ever been as adults. It had been a hard won battle and we were very proud of ourselves. But the baby chub that came along the next year was very depressing and I don’t think we every really shook it off. We had lost some of our fluff, but it was very stubborn and, knowing that we would be trying for another baby in the near future, I fear that I didn’t take my end of it very seriously.

In all honesty, I’m not sure I’m ready for the whole shooting match of strict diet and heavy exercise. I think that I want to try to get back into having some physical activity regularly before I try to eat monastically. I think that if I can get my stamina and a little flexibility back, the rest might fall into place.

At the very least, it would be nice to be able to climb a flight of stairs at work (which I do each and every day at work) and not be winded at the top.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Harrison started karate tonight. I’m cautiously hopeful that he’s going to take to it well. As noted in the swimming lessons this past summer, he has a tendency to play around while being instructed on stuff and I can see that that could become a problem here, too. However, I think that the folks running the classes will put up with far less tomfoolery than did the sweet young girls who taught at the pool. So maybe he’ll learn some self discipline while he’s learning self defense.

He seemed to have a pretty good time for most of the night. Toward the end of the lesson, he started to get upset that he wasn’t allowed to get up and move around, but aside from that he was cool with it all. This is only the second round of classes he’s ever taken outside of school. I don’t know that he has the self control to stay on task for an entire hour yet. However, the lure of the gi seems like it might be good incentive for him to work.


Part of his ‘homework’ for karate is that he has to make his bed every morning, keep his room clean and do 10 reps each of sit-ups and pushups. Failure to do these things will result in having to do extra pushups at class. I’m not sure how that’s going to pan out with a five-year-old, but we’ll see. I think I might try to do the sit-ups and pushups with him, but probably won’t be making my bed every morning and keeping my room neat.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Patriot

At the end of each school day, Harrison comes to my classroom from the Primary campus. We sit and talk about what happened in his class with his friends and the things he learned that day and perhaps what he ate for lunch, of sailing ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings. I enjoy my time with him—he’s such an earnest little creature, it’s hard not to love hearing him describe the events of his day.

My favorite ritual of late is saying the Pledge with him. Most days, after my students have left in a large, braying herd, Harrison will look around and eventually see my American and Texas flags hanging at the front of the room. Whatever I’m doing, when I see him notice them, I always smile to myself because I know what’s coming next. The script is almost always the same with few variations:

“Mommy, we need to say our American Flag!” He always emphasizes the American part.

“Oh, yeah, I almost forgot! Thank you, Harrison, for reminding me that we need to say our Pledge!”

We stand up, place our hands over our hearts and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, very solemn, very serious.

“Now the Texas flag, Mommy!”

So we turn and recite the Texas Pledge.

I asked him the other day if he didn’t say the Pledge in his Kindergarten classroom. “We do say the American Flag in class, but I like saying it in your class, Mommy.”

Today, we had to run out of the room pretty quickly since I had a chiropractor appointment after school. Fortunately, there were two American flags outside my chiropractor’s office, so as soon as we were buckled into our seats, we held hands over hearts and recited our Pledge. I figured just this once, since we were on our way out of the parking lot, it would be all right to sit down. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Love Letter To My Children

Listening to the hubby rock out on “Hotel California” in the living room with accompaniment from Laura on the tambourine (read: her rattle).

God, I adore her. I adore both of my kids. I worried when we decided to have another baby because I thought I could never love anyone else as much as I loved my son. Or worse, I figured that to make up for the love I’d be giving her, I’d have to love him less. Those of you with more than one kid will know this is poppycock. You do love them both. It is different, though, and I don’t think it’s just because they are of different gender.

I feel very fortunate that I had the lightning-bolt-love-at-first-sight with both of my kids. I know it’s pretty common for people to not attach to their kids emotionally for a while, feeling instead like their house has been invaded by an insistent alien who wants nothing but food, clean diapers and sleep, pretty much in that order. While I have been a bit vexed over these things, as well as the lack of sleep, social life and ability to talk about anything non-baby (or so people seem to think!), I have still held to the wonder of being steward to such fascinating wards.

I’ve tried really hard to not make my son a ‘Momma’s Boy.’ He’s not clingy at all, but he definitely has a connection with me. He still cuddles with me on the couch in the mornings when we’re not running full steam ahead, trying to get dressed and ready for school. I hold him, big grasshopper legs tucked up and cow-licked head cuddled up to my cheek. He tells me his secrets, his hopes and his dreams. When he’s had a bad day, he wants me to hold him and make him feel better. He delights in being goofy, dancing and making voices for as long as it takes to make his audience break into laughter, which is not very long, as it tends to happen.

The girl, on the other hand, is still developing. She’s so full of joy, it’s almost too much to take. Everyone—everyone—who deals with her on a regular basis comments on how easy going she is. She’s always smiling, always laughing and always watching the world around her. She delights in catching your eye and throwing you a toothless grin so all encompassing it takes your breath away. She is joy. I love watching her experience new things. When she ‘reads’ a book, she looks at the pages in wonder, pat-pat-pats them as if surprised that there are babies and puppies in there!, and very slyly brings the board pages up to her mouth for a quick taste. While she’s got your hand that’s holding the book up near her mouth, she’ll sneak a quick slobber test on it to see if your taste has changed. After each new activity, she’ll catch your eye to see if you saw her do it and then she’ll giggle like a mad child.

My children are different, my love for them different, but neither is better or worse. Neither is more important. They both delight my senses and make my head spin in dazed Mommy Love.

I always swore I wouldn’t be one of “those moms” who never shut up about their kids. I knew that no one else would give a crap about my kids; that there was no point  telling people over and over and over about them because who cared? I’m ashamed to admit, though, that I get it now. I know why people talk so much about their kids. Unfortunately, though, now everyone has to listen to me talk ad nauseum about them because I can talk for days and days, far longer than anyone—even their grandparents—would ever want to hear.

When I see my children, I’m happy.

I’m tired. I’m sore. I wish I had money and time to go to the gym, both having been hijacked by little people who have the most adorable ways about them. I’d love to have a social life, go see friends, see a movie. Heck, I’d love to be able to sit around and just read if I wanted to, no matter whether it’s nap time or not. Oh, and I’d love to be able to sleep later than 7:30 on the weekend (and that’s on a good day…).

But I wouldn't trade the experiences Robert and I have had over the past 6 years for anything in the world.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Do we really need another dead celebrity fan post?

Apparently we do.

I didn’t give much of a thought when Farah died. She’d had cancer for a while. Besides which, I was too young to have watched anything she was on in her heyday so by the time I knew who she was, she was just another actress. Michael Jackson kind of bummed me out, but I didn’t go on and on about it. I mean, yeah, I listened to his music when I was a kid. I still listen to Thriller from time to time—it’s a good album. But whether he actually did or did not molest those children, I’ve always had a hard time respecting him from the ‘90s on. Even if he didn’t do it, it’s stupid to put yourself in that kind of situation. It’s just asking for trouble. I wouldn’t have trusted him in a room with my children for a heartbeat, and I feel terrible for saying that of the dead, but gut instinct has to come first when you are dealing with your kids.

So I didn’t stress too much over those passings.

I’m pretty sad about Patrick Swayze, though. He was a hometown boy from Houston who made it big and played some pretty iconic roles. I remember my 8th grade Reading teacher telling stories about she and he had worked together at the now defunct Astroworld and dated. If I remember correctly, she played one of the suited characters and he danced in one of the stage shows. This was huge news to all us girls, especially considering she told this story to us in 1988, the year after Dirty Dancing became the hit that it was. I remember wearing shorts—scandalously long compared to today’s standards—and rolling them up to the top of the knee like Baby and getting in trouble because they were too short. Yep, that was the ‘80s. :)

I know, as an adult looking back, that the movie was pretty campy and that it was not top level cinema. (I refuse to call it crap, regardless of how Robert feels about it.) However, my friends and I watched it over and over and over and over [and over and over and….] and for us, it was just short of movie Nirvana. There was a time in my life that I could quote the movie verbatim, and not just that crappy ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’ line that everyone knows. I cannot overstate how important this silly movie was in my life.

By all accounts, Swayze knew he wasn’t going to make it. He had said that he probably had five years, tops, to live.

What a waste of talent, energy and passion.

RIP Patrick Swayze and thanks for all the great memories.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fair Enough

So we piddled this weekend.

After Harrison’s debacle at school on Friday, we decided to just stay at home for the weekend and not cavort around, having fun. To be fair, we had a pretty good time at home, playing with toys, watching the DirectTV guy install our new dish (Four hours! Good grief! We made that poor guy earn his pay!), and being scientists.

But for the first time in years, we missed the fair, which kind of made me sad since we’ve gone for the vast majority of the past 20 years. Early on, I knew Robert was “The One” when I had a digestive mishap (read: I puked all over him) on the Zipper and, after washing the mac and cheese off my shirt, he offered to let me wear his that was slightly less messy and wet. (For the record, no alcohol was involved. I had just eaten too much supper too soon before we left the house and the ride spun us right round, baby right round like a record, baby, right round, round round.)

Later, we went for the corny games and prizes. I had lots of crappy stuffed animals on my walls in my younger days, all a slight knock-off version of their inspiration character. Perhaps Winnie The Bear, or Calvin and Hops. Similar. Definitely not the same.

More recently, we’ve enjoyed taking Harrison to the fair. He loves the rides. I, on the other hand, sit by in mute horror, watching him whip around corners on the baby roller coaster that can’t possibly be any good for him. All the other parents laugh and hold up their beers and funnel cakes in celebration when their little angels come around the corner. I wave and smile while he’s whipping past and cringe, afraid to look, the rest of the time.

So we missed the local fair and likely won’t go to the Tyler fair as it’s seemed in the past few years that it’s a little more low brow than we tend to like. (Because we like our carnies with class, you know…) But I’m pretty set on going to the State Fair in October. I’ve got kids competing in one of the art competitions up there, so I’m excited about that. But aside from that, I really just like seeing Big Tex, eating the fried Twinkies (!!!) and riding the giant Ferris wheel from which you can see the entire city laid out in an iridescent glow.

But no Zipper this year. Probably no Zipper ever again.


Saturday, September 12, 2009


When I was a kid, I really liked science. I always liked the experimentation and documentation that it fostered. Were it not for the math skills that I was sadly lacking, I can imagine that I might have wanted to go into a scientific field. Graphs of information really did it for me. Case in point: I decided to document the books I read over the course of a year. For each third of the year, I had a different type of chart—bar, line, pie. I made the skeleton of the charts on poster board, tacked them up on my wall and every time I read a book, it was documented. At the end of each marking period, I would take my findings and grid it out, seeing where I had had lulls in my reading and where I couldn’t put books down. I can’t remember which month had the most, but I remember really enjoying the process and I remember that I read a lot of books that year.

A while back, Harrison and I participated in the Super Summer Swap. Harrison got a pirate chest from his pen pal, John, that was filled with all kinds of goodies. We’ve been slowly meting out the prizes in it, making the booty last as long as we could. One week, Harrison ate the candy ring and another week, he played with the stickers, creating a kind of a collage.

This weekend, Harrison got out the Incredible Growing Alligator to play with. I decided to make it a learning experience because, well, I’m just that kind of dork. Thing is, the boy is having a blast with it. We made a chart (my favorite part of any experiment) and documented the alligator’s length in centimeters—14 cm. (I refuse to do science with Imperial measurements. Base ten has always made more sense to me and if I could, I would drop this whole inches and miles business in a heartbeat.)

After “John” the alligator (named, of course, for his pen pal) had soaked for an hour, we took him out, blotted him dry and measured him. Harrison was very excited to see that it had grown half a centimeter. Another hour, though, brought no growth at all. The third hour brought our measurement up to 14.7 cm and at this point, we decided to make our guesses about what would happen in the next hour. Harrison guessed that “John” would get bigger while I thought it might take the same pattern of grow/don’t grow, so I guessed it would stay the same. Much to Harrison’s delight, after the fourth hour in water, “John” had grown to 14.9 cm. We’re leaving it in water for 12 hours overnight, which will bring it up to a total of 16 hours soaking. Both the boy and I think it will be considerably larger in the morning.

All of this is to say that my son is having fun with this experiment. He is learning about hypothesizing and documenting. Perhaps as important, if not more so, he is seeing that we can have differing ideas about how something will go and that just because I’m the adult, I’m not always the ultimate source of knowledge. I want him to learn to trust his judgment and I think this activity is fostering that.

Thank you again John and Kelly for participating with us—we continue to have fun with the pirate chest and it’s contents!

[P.S. I’ve got photos and video documenting the whole process that I’ll be posting soon!]

Friday, September 11, 2009

He Has A Plan…

Harrison was ugly at school today. Very ugly. I won’t go into specifics, but suffice it to say that I was horrified and embarrassed for him. We discussed it after we got back to my room (no pep rally today!) and I think he understands the severity of what he did. I think.

We discussed options for better ways to express how angry he was. Later, when I was deep in thought (read: on the toilet), he came up to me and said, “Mommy, do you want to hear my plan?”

Well, of course I did. I have written it down as best as memory serves, trying to keep as much of the “Harrison-speak” in it as possible.

“What I need is a angry face in my belly. Then, when I’m angry, my friends will see it and know I’m angry. I need a machine in my back that I can pull a stick on and it will pull the angry face out of my belly. Then, when you push the stick back in, the angry face will come back.”

Why the angry face has to come back, I don’t know, but that was his idea.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Watching Every Body Loves Raymond and listening to the girl snore in her swing. Had a good day. It really scares me that my classes are as pleasant as they have been. While I would never commit the hubris of claiming they're all perfect classes with perfect kids, even the lazier kids are pretty pleasant to have around. They're basically good kids and I'm enjoying teaching them.
Good meeting for the children's museum tonight. Looking forward to the clowning workshop next weekend. REALLY looking forward to the sciencey-type stuff we talked about for the spring! More on that later, as we get plans made!
About to head to bed. While everyone, indeed, loves Raymond, I love sleep more.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Looking Up

Got my butt handed to me on a platter tonight while playing Scrabble with Amy. It’s been a long time since someone beat me at Scrabble. You know how, in Fight Club, Ed Norton’s teeth fell out from being hit but he kind of liked it because he was actually feeling things for the first time? I won’t say I’m as emotionally numb as Tyler Durden, but it felt pretty good to find someone who could stump me. Makes me want to work harder to win next time. I like it.

Robert had Guys’ Night tonight, so it was me, Amy and the kids. Harrison loves visitors and he loves Amy. It helps that she lets him climb all over her like a billy goat. (Him being the goat—not her!) He showed her his new ‘Ninjan Turtles’ and sang all the songs he’s been learning at school. In all, the kids were great and we all had a really good time.

Work is going pretty well, too. The kids have been working on their shoe sculptures and they’re looking really cool. This has been a real trial by fire for my kids and it’s been enlightening to see how they approached the project. Just from these two weeks of work, I can see who is going to be uninhibited in unleashing their creativity and who is going to need coaxing along. Even many of the coaxed kids are doing some pretty neat stuff with their sculptures, so it’s pretty much a win all around. I’m so excited for the kids—they’re going to be doing some super cool stuff this year and I feel like jumping right into the fray like this is going to make it easier when we settle down to the nuts and bolts of learning about art. At the very least, they will have already had one success under their belt with minimal ‘formal’ teaching, so they should have their confidence bolstered pretty well for when I start showing them specific techniques.

I see a good year coming up!

(And yeah, that’s corny as crap, but I just can’t help being optimistic this year. Must be the Anne of Green Gables books I’m re-reading that put me into a cup-beyond-half-full-such-that-it’s-overflowing breed of cheer.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back in the Grind

Glad this is a short week, since I’m only one day in and I’m already getting tired. Maybe if I would get off my rear and get in the bed at a decent hour… Sigh.

Had a pretty uneventful day. Kids at school were not terrible—some were even pretty good. Got the stink eye from my boss about not getting prior permission to enter my kids’ works in a competition, but I guess that one is my own fault so I’m not going to complain too much over it. Harrison got good remarks on his behavior at school (hallelujah!), but I forgot his backpack in my classroom, so we’ll need to get it before he catches the bus in the morning. That’s doable, I think.

Went to the library this evening while hubby watched the kids.

I love the library. I love that it’s (mostly) quiet and you don’t have to feel compelled to talk to people, even though you’re in the same room with them. I love that it’s a storehouse of knowledge and that, even were I to read every day, I’d barely ever scratch its surface. I love that the people who work there—mostly elderly ladies at our branch, but any gender, any age—never seem to mind my questions and often won’t rest until they’ve helped me find what I’m looking for. Many’s the time I’ve given up on the search for a book, headed to the checkout line and had one of them run up to me with book in hand, triumphant and glorious.

I think it’s the same thing I experienced when I worked at Hastings and later at Waldenbooks in the mall. Any fool can and does go into the music section of the store (or into the music store next door at the mall). Folks don’t often venture into book stores unless they are readers, at least to a certain extent. Even if they’re there for the latest installment of some crap writer who just regurgitates the same story over and over and over (I’m talking about you, Danielle Steel! And you, foundation of writers who took over for V.C. Andrews when she died! And every romance/western/special ops/etc. serial novelist out there!), at least they’re reading! At least words pass in front of their eyes, travel up to their brains and are in some way comprehended. You don’t get a lot of that at the music counter.

I loved helping someone find the perfect book and I think the librarians at my local branch love helping me find the knowledge I seek. It’s as simple as that.

Now to read. Or actually sleep. And read later. Because I love to read (when I’m well rested)! :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lazy Labor Day

Starting off with a few things I have already noted at Facebook today, so if you’ve already read this business, feel free to skim or skip as much or more than you normally do. Or read it word for word. Whatever. Put as much Labor into it as you like. ;)


Took Harrison to the park today. He was King of the Mountain with his bag of “Ninjan Mutant Turtles,” and made me very proud of his generosity as he offered to let the other kids play with them too. I overheard him and a new friend talking and the following exchange was made:

Harrison: "You wanna play Ninjan Turtles with me?"

New Friend: "Sure. If it's got weapons and bad guys, I like it."

You have to love when kids are honest like that. :)


I’m so sick and tired of hearing about this Obama talking to the school children crap. After reading the speech, I’m even more pissed off that so much energy and anger has been wasted on it.

I'm far less worried about an elected official telling my kids that they need to work hard to accomplish their goals than I am about the marketing of movies to my son that are much too mature for him. Giving a kid a toy for Transformers/GI Joe/Spiderman/etc. and then filling the accompanying movie with vulgar language, sexual innuendo (or the actual act) and extreme violence seems much worse a sin to me. Obama's going to speak to the kids once. Commercials run EVERY DAY. Even if you don't watch that much TV, you see the print ads everywhere. We don't even eat at Burger King very much, but we drive by one that has very prominent door ads every day on the way to school; every day, Harrison asks about getting whatever toy they are peddling. Every day.

Even if you could block out the TV ads, the print ads and take a different route to school/work, you still have other families to contend with. Try as I might to ban the Power Rangers in our house (more because I just didn't want to have to watch it and have my brain cells leak out every time--we did the same thing with Jay Jay the Jet Plane, too), his friends at school still played Power Rangers, and so he still came home talking about it and begging for PR toys and clothes.

I guess maybe if Obama were marketing his speech with t-shirts and toys, I might be concerned, but I don't think there's that level of stupid happening just yet. :)


On to the new news!

We had a neighborhood get-together tonight, which I thought was really cool. I remember having a lot of cookouts with my neighbors when I was growing up. We knew the families who lived around us. We played with their kids, we drank water in their kitchens when we got too hot from being outside all day playing (none of this sitting down, playing video game crap for us!), and if we messed up, they let our parents know on the double so that when we got home the switch was waiting for us. We watched out for each other.

Since becoming an adult (i.e., married and not living at home), I’ve not known the names of the vast majority of my neighbors. I visited one lady when we lived in Marshall a time or two, but really, we only ever talked to our neighbors when we were outside working in the yard (as rarely as humanly possible!) or if we were out on the occasional ‘round the block walk.’ We knew even less people when we lived in Kilgore, and we lived there for eight years!

We’ve lived in Longview for coming up on three years now and we know some of our neighbors by sight. We have gotten kind of familiar with the family across the street since they have kids who are the same age as our kids, but we see them probably once a month or less. We’ve waved at most of the people we met tonight, but have never stopped to have an honest-to-God conversation with them.

Tonight, though, we all went a few doors over and gathered in the backyard of one of the neighbors and had a good ‘getting to know you’ session. There were, of course, those who already knew each other, but there were plenty of us who didn’t know many people at all. It was cool because it was low-key—there were no big activities involved aside from eating. We sat and chatted about kids, school, gardening and danged squirrels. At one point, a gun was brought out to shoot a marauding squirrel in the pecan tree, but apparently the rodent saw the trouble headed his way and thus the kids avoided having a Bambi/dead animal moment. :)

Weird Rifleman moment aside (and even that was kind of funny), it was a really good afternoon. We talked about getting together for the upcoming National Night Out, which I have wanted to participate in for several years now, so I’m excited about that. Apparently, Texans are the only ones who complained about the beginning of August being too hot, so the national organization has moved our date to October 6. Sounds like it’s going to be cool!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Support Jerry’s Kids!

Watching the MDA telethon with Jerry Lewis tonight. Man, Jerry’s looking pretty good for 83. About 10 years ago, my mom saw him in a hospital down in Houston, I guess getting some tests run or something and she said he was looking pretty rough. Glad to see that he’s apparently doing better. 

I remember when I was a kid in Houston, my mom worked the local telephone bank for the telethon one year. That was back in the days that if you were plebian, there was no real chance for you to be on TV unless you made the 6 o’clock news for something pretty terrible. The idea that we could see flashes of mom on the TV, answering phones in the background, seemed pretty exotic to us kids. Nowadays, you can’t even see the phone bank on the show—just the performers and the screen telling how much they’ve made. Somehow, this has taken away a little bit of the magic of the show for me. It’s still a worthy cause, though, so I guess I’ll forgive them the changing of the times.

In other news, we went to Canton with the kids today. Weather wasn’t terrible—definitely better than the 100+ temperatures of summer—but we’re pretty much an inside family so even low 90s was more than we could handle for long. The kids were hot, but we kept them pretty well watered up and they came through well enough. Harrison got a bag full of “Ninjan Mutant Turtles,” Laura got a tie dyed onesie and a Cookie Monster purse (for future use—a girl can’t start collecting purses early enough!) and Robert and I got hats. The guy selling me my hat tried to claim that it was made by some Amish folks, but the label on the hatband said “Made in China.” It irks me that people feel it necessary to imbue something with a fake story to make me want to buy it. It was a nice hat—very large, will be great for gardening—and I would have bought it regardless of its maker. I actually did buy it regardless of it’s maker. So why do they have to give me a line? Salesmen. Sheesh.

Really glad to have tomorrow off. I’m needing to get recharged before heading back to work on Tuesday. I’m just almost back into my groove, but I think this little bit of break will be a big help in getting fully up to speed.

Alas, I don’t have the energy of an 83 year old man who is staying up for sick kids all night, so I’m hitting the hay.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Had a good day relaxing with the fam today. The boys went to see G-Force, which Harrison proclaimed awesome. While they were out and Laura napped, I got caught up on reading two weeks of Ottobre emails (digest of a Yahoo group so most of the "emails" had 25 posts to read). After finally skimming and getting the salient points, Laura woke up and she and I played in her room. She is getting so dextrous! She's starting to sit up, usually with minimal support. As long as she's got the Boppy or my leg to lean back against occasionally, she will sit up, lean forward and grab something, and return to her upright position pretty skillfully. She still can't get herself upright on her own, but if you sit her up, she's good to go.
After the boys got back and Harrison had a nap, we went out in the backyard and played croquet. Neither of them had ever played before. I, on the other hand, spent the better part of my Junior year playing during PE class. It beat the heck out of watching kids shoot baskets from the stands, which was what I did Freshman and Sophomore years. (Why, again, do I have weight problems?)
The mosquitoes tried to carry Harrison off, but the rest of the family went pretty much untouched. He seems to be the dish of choice around here so he sometimes gets put into the position of sacrificial lamb. He handled it well, though, and after my patented Mommy Care, his bites disappeared, even to the one on the tip of his nose.
Tomorrow we are heading to Canton to see if we can spend any money. I'm betting we can. ;)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Almost blew it…!

For the first time in over two months, I almost forgot to post! Yikes!

Cody came over for supper tonight. We’ve been sitting around, watching The Sopranos and just enjoying the idea that there is no work tomorrow, Sunday or Monday. Life is good when you face a three day weekend. (As a side note, man! I miss The Sopranos! That was such a good show!)

School was pretty good. The kids are coming along nicely on their sculptures, and I have high expectations that some of them are going to be really good. It excites me to see the ideas these guys are coming up with. Very creative, both in the ideas themselves and in the realization of those ideas into tangible forms.

Harrison got to see the end of a pep rally this afternoon, so he’s ready now to come to high school for good. He thinks it’s all about girls jumping around in short skirts, the band playing loudly and getting to scream as much and as loudly as you want.

Which, in retrospect, sounds vaguely similar to the high school experience that many of my students have come to expect. :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A few words before heading to bed…

Will I ever get used to this new schedule? I’m sure I must, but it’s driving me crazy in the meantime. If I’m not in bed by 11 PM, or midnight at the very latest, I am absolutely useless the next day. To make sure Harrison catches his bus, we leave the house by five minutes after 7 AM. I have done well, time-wise, the past two weeks, but I worry about what’s going to happen if I loosen up my grip any. I don’t want the rope of my time zipping through my hand, giving me a metaphorical blister.

I think the worst of it all is that I just don’t have any time to myself anymore. Not that I had loads of time alone this summer, but now with classes back in session, I’ve got even less. Probably the fact that I didn’t get a lot of ‘me time’ has made it that much worse because I didn’t get my batteries fully recharged. I enjoy spending time with the kids and I enjoy spending time with Robert, but I just wonder if I’m ever going to get any time to unwind on my own ever again.

Maybe next summer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Creativity and Compassion

Working on some cool stuff with the kids at work. I’m kind of doing a trial-by-fire thing here at the beginning of the year where the kids are creating a sculpture with little to no formal instruction on creating a sculpture. I’m kind of using it as a ‘What can you do?’ measuring tool. They’re getting a test grade for their finished project, but I’m looking more at their work ethic, their attention to detail and, most importantly, their creative flow and how willing they are to open it up.

I don’t expect kids who have never had any art instruction at all to be fully operational in the creativity department, but I do expect them to be open to suggestion and at least make an attempt. I tell the kids over and over that I wouldn’t expect them to come in to French class on the first day and already know how to speak French. By those same standards, I don’t expect them to come into Art class already knowing how to draw or sculpt or create in any mature way. That’s why I’m paid the big bucks (ha!)—to teach them how to do it. It’s always interesting to see which ones are willing and able to open that flow up and use it. It’s also nice to watch the latent bloomers finally ‘get’ something and get all excited about it.

I enjoy my job because for some of these kids, I and my co-workers are the only positive influence they ever see. It’s a big responsibility, being an example for people. There are plenty of times I want to just cuss a kid out for their flagrant disobedience and disrespect. But the fact is, I’m always the adult. Always. If I see that kid at Target a month later, I’m not going to tell them I think they’re an idiot, even if I kind of feel that way. Fact is, they probably get told that at home, if not by a sibling, perhaps by a parent. Fact is, they probably already tell themselves that they’re an idiot every day. Fact is, they probably acted up in my class because they wanted to a) impress their friends with how much trouble they could get into, b) they probably didn’t care, or c) they probably didn’t know any better. Meeting some of these kids’ parents clarifies behavior patterns in ways you would not believe.

I don’t have any lofty aspirations about being ‘the teacher that made me change my life around,’ or ‘the teacher who inspired my work that received a Nobel Peace Prize.’ I know I’m probably never going to win any kind of Teacher of the Year award. I’m ok with that. It means more to me to see students I had last year, the year before or several years hence. When they come up and give me a hug, tells me what’s going on in their lives and they are not in jail, on drugs or out to shoot me, I figure I have succeeded on some level.

I always say that I’m not at the school to be the kids’ friend—they have plenty of friends their own age and they need me to be an adult and not another person on whom to dump their personal baggage. But the truth is, while I’m still the Adult and while I still maintain the level of discipline needed (or at least try to), I am interested in their lives, I do want to see them succeed and I do look forward to seeing them. I guess in some way, that does make us friends.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yarn Weaver

My boy has quite the imagination.

Today when we were driving home from school, I, being conversational, asked how his day went.

Apparently, Caden, one of the boys in Harrison’s class went running today, presumably during recess. Also apparently, the teacher, Mrs. D., chased after him. Perhaps she just called for him to come back. With the story telling panache my son brandishes, who can tell?

The story, according to my son, is that Caden went running. He ran so fast that Mrs. D. ran after him, trying to catch him. When that didn’t work, she jumped in her car and began chasing him. That Caden, though, was quite the runner . He was able to outrun the car, even when Mrs. D. pushed the “fast button” (what I can only assume is a form of nitrous oxide or some other car-going-faster-button-pushing thing—while mechanically inclined, I’m not so much car knowledge inclined). So Caden’s running really fast, Mrs. D. is speeding along in her car, pushing her ‘fast button’ and Caden runs home. Mrs. D. is falling down on the job, though, because all the other 15-20 kids in Harrison’s class are now driving the car. Not sure what they did with Mrs. D. They reach Caden’s house and ask Caden’s Mommy where he is and she says he’s not home so that means they drove to the wrong house.

The story kind of rambles on and on with Harrison proclaiming that Caden never came back to school again.

I’m not sure if this is some kind of fantasy my son has concocted in response to Caden’s behavior—is he a bully who the kids just don’t want around?—or if it’s just something my son dreamed up when a boy went running and the teacher made him come back. Either way, it’s kind of impressive that he went this far with it. Usually, his stories are complete rehashes of whatever we just watched with him as the hero. Harrison is Peter Parker/Spiderman. Harrison is Voltron. Harrison is Optimus Prime. Harrison is Blossom (from Powerpuff Girls—don’t get me started…).

All I can say is that if Caden can run this well at five years old, I can’t wait to see what he’ll be doing in high school.