Monday, November 30, 2009

Out on a limb

Rosie & her brother Dash; E.L. & her brother J.M., sweet as can be!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving at the Strings was, as always, thanks to the wonderful cooks I'm related to, quite a delicious treat. Here's a photo of the spread.

The menu was:
oven-roasted turkey, giblet gravy, stuffing, wild rice with cranberries & turkey, jellied cranberry (y'know, the kind shaped like the can! yum), stewed okra w/tomatoes, strawberry-baked ham, sweet potato dinner rolls, traditional mashed potatoes, red beans & rice, roasted potatoes, apple crisp, pumpkin pie

Man, it all tasted wonderful! After dinner we took the kids for a walk to a local park. They'd been playing for a while when my mom noted aloud that it was going to get dark soon and asked Dash, "and what comes out when it gets dark?" thinking he'd say something cute like, "the Moon!" or "owls!"

But, no, his face melted into terror, he looked all around in fear, and screamed that he wanted to go home NOW and in a CAR. I got us all motivated to leave and convinced Dash that it really wasn't that dark yet and we'd be home before dark even if we walked. So, why, might you ask, was Dash so terrified about being outside after dark?

Have any of you seen one or all of these horror movies? Dash has, with his daddy. The answer is: ZOMBIES.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Weegee LOVES Grandma Sheila!

We brought the family parrot, Weegee, out for our Thanksgiving dinner, so he could enjoy time with the flock and eat some tasty comestibles. But, really, he was only starved for some attention from Grandma Sheila. We tried feeding him some scraps from his table-side cage. He was not interested, and just bobbed his head and chirped for Grandma. We let him out to sit on the back of Grandma Sheila's chair, where he accepted some potato from her. It wasn't too long before we realized that he was only taking food from her hand in hopes that he could catch her finger and climb on.

He sat on her shoulder for as long as she tolerated him, all feathers fluffed in happiness, giving her kisses, and begging for the privilege of drinking from her water glass. In bird terms, this is LOVE.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grade-school dioramas: How much should a parent help?

A few weeks ago, Rosie came home from school with an assignment from her first-grade teacher: an open-ended home project. The guidance was simple, the subject was the First Thanksgiving, and it must have a written part and a visual part. It needed to be directed by the student as much as possible. And it was due today.

Rosie just turned 7, and while she draws very well and likes to write stories, I knew that I was going to be helping. A lot. I was determined to let her make the decisions and try not to influence her too much. But in the flurry to finish before bedtime last night, she was upset that I was "doing all of it." So not true!! I perked her up with this pep talk:

"Who picked the subject?" (How the Indeins Helpt the Pilgrims)
"Me," said Rosie.
"Who wrote the story?" (Two pages of prose on maize farming, Wampanaug-style)
"Me," said Rosie.
"Who drew the illustrations?" (Her two pages had four hand-drawn & -colored scenes, total.)
"Me," said Rosie.
"Who drew and cut out all the plant pieces?" (Her shoe-box diorama showed three stages of corn plant, using cut construction paper and pipe cleaners.)
"Me," said Rosie.
"Who decided to make popcorn to hand out to her classmates?"
"Me," said Rosie.
"Who wrote the title on the box and signed her name?"
"Me," said Rosie.
"See? All I did was make the box and help with the pipe cleaners! Most of it was you, sweetie."

After letting this sink in, a huge smile crept onto her face showing sincere pride in all that she'd done. For sure, I was helping every step of the way, because she needed motivating to get it all done in time, but all the work underlying the diorama's theme and basic elements came from her. So that her presentation would run more smoothly and she could face her classmates, I copied her story (that ended up taped —by her— onto the shoebox lid) onto note cards. She was so very excited about the end result, she was bouncing off the walls and kept saying, "I can't wait for Mrs. Clark to see this!" It warms my heart to see her this revved-up about school work.

I'm planning on videotaping her presentation tonight and posting it up here. Look for it! I was so focused on FINISHING IN TIME that I didn't take any photos. I know we must tonight—or soon, before her brother destroys the shoebox—her presentation's adorable.

So, how much did I actually do? I'm not telling. The way I built-out the shoebox was rather complex. But she truthfully did everything I asked about above.

UPDATE: Silly me, of course her teacher is keeping the presentation at school, set up in the school library, no less! Who knows when I'll be seeing it again at home for videotaping or otherwise?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November raspberries

I had given up on the garden this late in the season. Running around
with Dash, I caught a flash of red in the backyard. What the?
Raspberries! I picked about two cups of them. Who knew, in November
they'd still be fruiting?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Was an 11-year-old Devo Wife

It was 1981. Three of my junior-high school friends and I were obsessed with new wave music, specifically, The Police, David Bowie, Blondie, and Devo. I forget exactly how these friends and I found each other in junior high, but I recall that a little girl-scout-type non-friend from my bus stop told me that if I stayed friends with them I'd get a "bad reputation." I think I had to look that up, as I had no idea what she was talking about. It was easy enough to ignore her. My friends, sisters Mary & Judi Huff and Linda Smith, did have a bit of roughness about them, living on the poorer side of town and all coming from broken homes (Mary & Judi talked about wanting their step-father dead, regularly), but they'd befriended me, unlike the girl-scout-types, and I was drawn to their edginess and anti-mainstream attitudes.

We were all crazy about Devo, reading all the liner notes, memorizing their personal info, singing their songs and memorizing the lyrics. We were from the Midwest, they were from the Midwest; there were four of us and there were four (or five, math is hard) of them; it was kismet. We each "married" a Devo member, became "spudgirls" and made ourselves the red dome hats out of cardboard. Judi was the oldest and "married" Mark Mothersbaugh, Mary got hitched to Jerry Casale, Linda wed Bob Casale, and I pled my troth to Bob Mothersbaugh. I got Bob 1, mostly because he was deemed least attractive with his long face and large nose and the other girls were all bigger than me—not much room to argue. We sang and danced around to their albums, banging into each other, and being totally goofy whenever we met up, for months. Good times.

It's 2009 and I just saw Devo on tour with some very favorite friends at the 9:30 club in DC on Sunday night. It was amazing!! Devo played fast, hard, and loud, kept the energy high and ROCKED. It was one of the best shows I've seen in a long time. The guys, all in their late-50s, performed famously, keeping the bizarre theatrics they're known for, and stunning us all with the joy they seemed to have, out on tour singing tunes from their 30-year-old album, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! It was glorious.

I'd told Kelly about the whole Devo marriage thing, and she jokingly told me during the show, "Your husband's held up well!" Hilariously, after Booji Boy tossed out bouncy balls during the encore song, Beautiful World, and I caught one (well, fished it off the floor), the guy standing behind me asked a non-sequitor, "Was that your wedding ring?"

Maybe it was. Maybe it was...

Friday, November 13, 2009

My seven-year-old first-grader, Rosie

(photo of Rosie & friend Ava, wearing makeup)

Rosie is seven years old today! So much has happened in this year, 2008-2009. She finished Kindergarten, which was quite a struggle structurally for her, but she soared academically. She had her first summer break ever and spent it split up at sports camps (she almost knows how to swim!), with Grandma S, and at the Rehoboth beach house. She started First Grade with a new teacher and a new group of first and second graders in her multi-age class.

She made new friends at school, got over her fear of dogs at the bus stop, has gotten quite good at dressing herself for school in the morning, and just recently (please let this be a solid new skill!!) she's been cleaning up her room all by herself without being asked. I think her room is looking better than the rest of the house, actually.

Rosie is so sweet, as always, very affectionate, loving, and playful. She loves playdates with her friends, riding bikes, and her art, ballet, & tap classes. She is so creative! She's always drawing and painting and writing stories about her artwork. I'm so glad her new teacher is nurturing her creativity in the classroom.

Rosie has been setting new boundaries with her brother—while they've been happy to share most things and play very well together, she's recently establishing "her" territory and excluding him more than earlier. We knew this was bound to happen and are gently steering them to move in their own directions without hurting each other. She is a strong-willed girl, that child of mine and Monkeyrotica's.

Watching her grow into a maturing little girl is amazing and bittersweet at the same time. She still wants to cuddle in my arms, and I can see the baby she once was, but then she becomes so brightly independent and mature in her decision-making that I see the young woman that she'll become eventually. Not too soon.

Happy birthday, sweet Rosie!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mrs. Clark LOVES Rosie

I had the first conference of the year with Rosie's 1st-Grade teacher. If you recall, by this time last year, we had received numerous communications with her kindergarten teacher, phone calls from the school principal (and vice principal), Rosie'd been in the Principal's office more than once, and it had been suggested that we put Rosie on a behavior contract. All the feedback I'd been getting was negative.

So, I already knew that Mrs. Clark's teaching style was "night and day" from Miss M's, I'd had absolutely no written notes come home, and in the couple of emails I'd sent through asking for info, I got just a sentence or two. Other parents who I like a great deal have told me that Mrs. Clark is awesome, is great with the kids, and has a very open atmosphere in the multi-age (1st & 2nd grade) classroom. Not sure whether the lack of info was a sign of a teacher who had too much on her hands to pay attention to Rosie or what, I was unsure what to expect.

Turns out, Mrs. Clark adores Rosie. She told me that Rosie is very high-functioning in reading and writing and has put her at a 2nd-Grade level. Rosie is a creative individual who solves challenges her own way and often wants to try a different route to a solution than the rest of her peers. She's a hard worker, an independent starter, always on task with some project or another, but may have difficulty transitioning to a new center if she's in the middle of some other work. Rosie doesn't have any specific friends in the class (other than Margaret), but is friendly with most. She doesn't care what the other kids think — if there's any bullying going on, she stays out of it. Mrs. Clark thinks these are all qualities that will serve her well later in life. She feels that Rosie has a mature attitude, is quite smart, and acts almost teenagerish some of the time (this was said positively).

She still might not finish her assignments on time, but Mrs. Clark isn't a stickler about this, as long as they come in soon enough. In the beginning weeks of school Rosie did a few strange things like hid behind the coat racks or lurked in the boys room without permission, but Mrs. Clark didn't call her out or make special notice for it. She just let Rosie know in a few words that it needed to stop and Rosie stopped. Rosie takes a lot of pride in her work and loves Mrs. Clark right back. 1st Grade has been great so far!

Next project up is a Pilgrim Project, to be completed at home, on any topic related to pilgrims, in any creative way Rosie wants.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Finally, the Recital Movie

First a disclaimer. I didn't know Monkeyrotica was taping my class' dance performance at the studio's recital this summer—I had only thought my friend Brent was (who I was so happy and thankful had come with his lovely wife Chris to watch and support my dancing obsession!!) and that his camera had malfunctioned. So I was relieved and excited when I discovered this video in our archives a while back and found that there was some documentation! Honestly, the lot of them were sitting fairly far back in the auditorium and I was hardly expecting much of a recording at all.

Enjoy this dance, set to Mannheim Steamroller's Come Back to the Sea. The recital theme for 2009 was "Celebrations" and ours is celebrating a Day at the Beach. It has very fluid, lyrical choreography that requires grace and strength. In my class, there are actually six dancers, but I think you only see three on stage for the most part (due to framing), then flashes of others as the choreography plays out.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

On the down-low with H1N1

Unless you all want to hear about how I didn't get the H1N1 vaccine at the MRC volunteer clinic because of pre-existing asthma (and no shots were available, only flumist), and how our family aged out of the clinic that was offered (only ages 18 months to 3 years were eligible), and then how Dash came down with strep and H1N1 last Tuesday, and then passed it on to me, I don't have much to say.

I haven't been in the office since last Wednesday, because first I was caring for Dash, then I became contagious. I'm still not out of the woods, with a dramatic relapse today, most likely due to me getting cocky with how much better I was feeling this morning. I started off with my teleworking routine of getting a coffee and a bagel, which was delightful. Bagels usually fill me up, so I wasn't hungry for an especially long time. During that time, I got a bunch of work done, saw a doctor for the first time, who prescribed me an expectorant/cough suppressant with codeine. The bottle didn't say "don't take on an empty stomach" or any such thing, so I just dosed up and continued working. It did warn that it could make me dizzy and to not drive while on the meds.

So, around 2:30 p.m., I felt a bit light headed, and thought, gee, I ought to eat some lunch or drink something. I got up, walked a few feet, said "oh boy," to myself and then passed out on the couch. My improved health was wrecked with a relapse. But, I'm probably oversharing. I'll be teleworking and taking better care of myself for the rest of the week, I think. Missing meals when sick = bad.
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