Thursday, 21 November 2013

4 Things

I was tasked with coming up with 4 unexpected/surprising things about myself, courtesy of a friend on Facebook.

1. Though I am petrified of heights, I have "ride in a hot air balloon" on my lifetime To Do list.
2. I am collecting hilarious or meaningful quotes from middle schoolers, and secretly think I may make a book someday... even if it's just a Shutterfly book for myself. It even has a title, but I'm not telling, 'cause what if I really do decide to publish it?
3. I really, viscerally hate the Game of Life. I feel like it is judging my life choices (stop here and get married! choose the family path OR the career path!), and determining the overall success of life (MY life!) by the amount of money I earn.  And don't even get me STARTED on the little pink and blue people. Ugh.
4. A part of me truly believes that my car may, at any moment, begin flying. This is especially true when cresting a hill or going over a speed bump. It could happen.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Labels

I keep wanting to Write About Labels with some sort of adolescent zeal. About how much I hate them (stupid, limiting labels), about how we don't even need them. "Oh man, labels!" I want to exclaim, in tones of great exasperation. I want to rant, and rave, and whine and...  But the thing is, that's all a little bit hard to buy, coming from someone who wears some labels proudly, perhaps even obnoxiously. It would be hard to take me seriously, considering that I use the label "Feminist" like it's a second name. And so I have been pondering this for a while, and here is what I have concluded.

Labels are... tricky. They are like clothes. Some fit like they were made for us, and we are so proud to wear them in public. We know they look good. Even if they don't, they are so darn comfortable. That is the "feminist" label to me. It fits like it was made for me, and I wear it comfortably all the time. It didn't even have to be altered to fit me-- no qualifiers are necessary! Feel free to talk to me about it. It's a well placed label, and I love it.

Other labels, though, are a little more iffy. Some are more like those clothes I have hanging in the farthest reaches of my closet. There is something about them that makes it impossible to just cast them off, but nothing so appealing that I would wear them in public. They are scratchy, or they don't fit right. They're just uncomfortable. Periodically they get donated to Goodwill-- just because they aren't right for me doesn't mean they are wrong for everyone.

That's how a lot of other labels are. Some are just too restrictive, kind of irritating, and don't reflect "me." They aren't bad, per say, but they aren't exactly right.

So I treat labels like I treat my clothes: I wear those that fit comfortably and reflect who I am. And if it's not the Goldilocks of clothes (or labels)? If it's too much of something, or not enough of another? Well, then. I simply decline to embrace it.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Terminal Velocity

Well, it's happened. And I am not too pleased about it. It seems that, using my current (pretty decent) systems if organization and time management, I have reached maximum capacity; important commitments are being edged out of my brain. Last Tuesday, I absolutely and totally forgot to bring Neptune to his orthodontist appointment. Not only that, but it didn't even realize I had forgotten until his mom forwarded me an email from the orthodontist.

Oops.

The following day, in a burst of trying to make up for my unintended flakiness (with regards to the orthodontist, among other things), I approached my To Do list with zeal. On Wednesday, I:

Run errands to....
... The grocery store
.... Costco
... The Container Store
... All the Best Petcare
... UPS
... Wal-Greens

Called and scheduled/re-scheduled...
... One doctor's appointment
... One orthodontist appointment
... One hair cut


Taken kids from/to...
... School
... The doctor's office
... The hair salon
... The orthodontist
... Piano lessons
... Karate
... Soccer

Picked up forms from...
... The person who did my observation yesterday
... The doctors' office (a different doctors' office)

And I have developed the habit of actually looking at my calendar on a regular basis. That's pretty important too.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

I've heard this thing about the best laid plans...

When I started this Masters in Teaching programme, I was very clear about my goals. (In my head, I mean. And to the people I knew pre-programme.) I was in this process for two things: 1) The piece of paper that would allow me to be a teacher 2) Mutually supportive professional relationships. I knew it would be a small group, and planning to make friends seemed like a tall order. Plus, I had friends. Awesome friends. I have always felt very, very lucky to have the friendships I do.

So there was 0 pressure on the whole friendship front. I was excited to make professional contacts, and eager to jump through the hoops that would place me in front of the classroom. I had dragged my heals about going back to school for a long time, but having decided, I was eager to Get Going.

And then... well, I made friends. Kind of by accident, but to my great delight. My cohort is full of wonderful people, and I am lucky to be jumping through hoops alongside them. We are quite the circus act, but we're in it together! 

On Saturday, our instructor did not show up for our 9:00 class. When 9:30 rolled around, the office manager poked her head in. "No instructor?"

"Nope."

"I tried calling him, but I am not getting an answer. You have a class at 1:30, right?"

"Yep."

"Why don't you just plan on coming back for that."

We grinned at each other. Just... peace out? Forget class altogether for the morning? We could do that! Lacie, Ruka, Grace and I headed back to my house for tea, the fox video, and exchanging of house decorating/renovating opinions (yes, really). For lunch, we headed to a local dim sum place, and made it back to school for our 1:30 class.

It was a glorious, fun, relaxing morning. I just delight in this group of ladies; we are so different, but we have such fun together, and work together so very well.

I am positively thrilled that my plan to Not Make Friends failed so spectacularly. 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Novelty

Like most people in the world, I have areas of strength, and areas in need of (ahem) growth. I regularly find myself saying, "Well, I guess I should write off a career in professional ____________!" (Careers I have eliminated include professional disc golf, jewelry making, Chinese-speaking, cooking, etc) I may carry on doing these things recreationally/as needed, but I have no illusions about my natural skills.

It's ok, I tell myself. I have other talents.

At this point, I find myself chewing on my lip. What are those skills? Well, I'm nice...

The other day, I conclusively put my finger on A Skill. I'm good at Novelty!

I get bored with routine myself, and I expect nothing less from those with whom I associate. Therefore, I like to insert some sparkles into daily life.

For example, I make the kids "To Do" lists pretty regularly. On the lists are chores, homework, events, practices/rehearsals, etc. Useful as they are, though, we all get kind of tired of them now and then. Today, we didn't have "To Do" lists...we had "To Do" balloons!


Pop a balloon, get a required activity! Included activities: science homework, tidying up bedrooms, walking the dog, doing the macarena, and hugging Blythe. All important things!








Tuesday, 24 September 2013

What do you do?

People ask each other all of the time, "So, what do you do?" It always, always means, "What is your job?" What, though, if we couldn't answer with that? Several months ago, I saw a writing prompt to this effect, and have been thinking about it off and on ever since. If I couldn't answer with my job (nanny) or my grad school experiences (masters in teaching, student teaching in a 7th grade classroom), what would I say?

What do I do?

I read. I cry at silly things. I laugh easily. I dance like no one is watching (even when, actually, people are). I worry about things that don't matter. I make up songs. I take hundreds-- thousands-- of pictures. I scrapbook. I make an active effort to absorb sunlight. I make lists, and schedule things, but I still sometimes forget to do them. I go to weddings. I delight in my friendships. I procrastinate. I clean as little as possible. I write about as much as I clean (but I do enjoy it so much more).

I think. I analyse. I ponder.


Really, even without taking my job into consideration at all, I am very busy.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Evolution

I spend a lot of my life being So Fascinated. I am So Fascinated by people, by animals, by nature, simply by the way things work. I am nearly constantly In Awe of Something. Those of you who know me in real life are chuckling to yourselves now, as you are undoubtedly familiar with my rapturous explanations and swirling thought processes. It's why I was a psych major, I think-- because I just can't help being Amazed, particularly by people.

Right now, the subject of my amazement has been How Friendships Evolve. I know, I know. It sounds like a psych study, doesn't it? "How friendships evolve: A multidimensional study of female friendships between the ages of 6 and 83" or whatever. But, while I think that would actually be a very interesting study, and I would be So Fascinated to read it, that's not my point at all.

My point is more... So, you know when you are having dinner with a friend? And you realize that Wow, you have known them for X years? And you think of all the things that the younger version of yourselves didn't know? All of the things you couldn't have predicted? Yeah. That.

This summer, I danced at Daisy's wedding. I knew, knew for a fact, that she was 25 years old. But, honestly, I couldn't see her as anything but an 8 year old. I saw us swimming in the pool in her backyard, taking my dog for a walk (on two leashes, so we could each hold one) (this was a tiny dog, mind you), building enormous forts in her family room. I saw sunburns, and birthday parties, and family trips. And, if I focused my eyes just right, and really concentrated-- well, then I could see a woman; a bride.

I have been having this experience a lot, lately. On Monday, Lynn and I got drinks after work. As we were leaning close together, laughing or shaking our heads ruefully, sharing the details of our lives, I had a flashback to about when we had first met. No, honestly, I remembered when I had first learned about her. I was working for the K family over the summers, and had been part of a nanny share with the S family that first year (2006). During the school year, I learned that the S family was going to hire a nanny of their own, and we would all essentially turn into one large playgroup over the summer. (The playgroup wasn't required, mind you, but it was predicted. The kids were all very good friends.) I wondered about this. While I was excited by the idea of a colleague, I was a bit skeptical. Part of this was due to KK's interest in how Lynn and I would get along. We were very different people, he informed me. Part of it was due to my natural hesitancy when it comes to meeting new people. And the most embarrassing part (that I will only JUST NOW admit, 7 years later) is that I was really worried that the kids would all like her better.

Sitting on the other end of this, drinking beer with the woman I worried so much over meeting, I can't help but laugh. Of course the kids sometimes liked her better-- just like they sometimes liked me better. They're kids. And we are different people (KK was not wrong), but not in a way that ever has prevented us from being friends. We are both enthusiastic, energetic, caring people. She is a hilarious goof who would wrestle with the kids and run around for hours. I am the creative type, who will advocate for painting in shaving cream, or hanging up water balloon piñatas. We complemented each other beautifully, and thoroughly enjoyed our time together. And, somewhere along the line, after hours of hanging out with the kids, we became actual friends.

When thinking about these evolutions, I almost think of friendships as a cross-section. What you see on the outside conceals so many mesmerizing layers underneath. Thinking along these lines is almost unavoidable once I start. I see the kids as all of their ages at once, occasionally blindsided when I realize how grown up they are. I send a birthday greeting to a friend on her 26th birthday, and can't help but remember when she turned 14. She's a lawyer now, but I will always sort of see her as the skinny blonde girl with freckles and a school uniform, who I met on the first day of 7th grade at my new British school in Taiwan. When I see friends from college, I am amazed by everything that has happened in only seven short years-- the depth of the friendship we share, the arc of experiences behind and ahead of us.

I'm just... fascinated.




Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The EOSSH

Currently I am working on putting together the End of Summer Scavenger Hunt. Now in its 8th year, the EOSSH is a full day scavenger hunt involving an assortment of challenges, costumes, foods, and problem solving, depending on the year. Organizing each one takes approximately 10-15 hours, which means I will have spent close to 100 hours working on these after this year's. Wow. As all of these hours are after work (after all, the kids can't see what I am doing, or the who,e thing is ruined), this labour of love turns me into a "volunteer" scavenger hunt organizer, of sorts. I have so much for organizing them, though, and the kids have so much fun doing them, that it all works out.

And that, I think, is about as much as I can say about that for now. After all,I wouldn't want the scavengers to get any hints, now would I? And while they don't read this blog. One never knows if they will suddenly begin. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

And here we are.

Summer goes faster every year. Hopefully the trueness of the statement makes up for the triteness of it. Who has not marvelled at how quickly the days go by, how fast the weeks disappear? I, for one, am repeatedly stunned. I went into the summer with an almost grim determination. We would have fun, damnit. All of us. Every day. Shit would get done. Fun would be had. And that's all there was to it. 

I whipped out the calendar, the colour coded pens (yes, these are things I always use, so no surprises there), and made a huge wall calendar. We talked about what we wanted to make a point of doing, what was especially important, and so on. I did my best to keep the conversation light, the ideas flowing. Inside my head, though, I was already scheduling. It's how I operate, as anyone who knows me can attest.

And then. Despite, because of, or parallel to my scheduling... summer happened. It has been full of The Great Outdoors, crafting opportunities, creative improv games, sleeping late (not for me, of course-- and never late enough for The Teens), delicious food and... well, fun. I want to spend a few weeks this fall detailing some of our adventures, for posterity, and also in case anyone needs inspiration for a Fun Thing To Do In The Greater Seattle Area. 

For these last few days of summer, though, I'm just diving in head first. Bring on the friends, and the sunscreen, and the crafts, and the outdoors. Bring on the school supply shopping, the new jeans, the first-day-of-school jitters. 

Because shit got done. And fun was had. And I am calling this summer A Success. 



Monday, 19 August 2013

Whirlwind


Today I flew out of Montana, had a layover in Colorado, and now find myself in a hotel bar just outside of Indianapolis. It is sort of like living my childhood in fast forward (hotel bar aside, of course-- those didn't function prominently in my childhood). I have spent part of every year (at least a few days in the winter, sometimes multiple months in the summer) in Montana. I lived in Colorado for a a year and a bit as a "tween," and Indiana was childhood headquarters-- complete with "night games" outside in the cul de sac, endless sleepovers, ice cream trucks, and living spitting distance from the neighborhood pool. (Are neighbourhood pools even a thing anymore? I haven't heard of one since we moved.)

Now I'm back. Back in the Suburbs. Back in the humidity. Back here, in the middle. I feel almost gleeful, driving here. Drinking here. Seeing my childhood BFF get married, for goodnesssake. Who is the adult here?

There is no way the answer is "me."

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Summer

This is summer.

 When there are snow cones and friends and swimming and paddle boats. This is when there is sun screen and ice cream and a trampoline. This is when there are weddings and parties and vacations and vaccinations for the coming school year.

This is when there are water balloon pinatas. And forts. And picnics.

This is when there is camping in a yurt.

This is when blogging falls even farther down the priority list.

Because it is
Too
Busy
Being
Summer

Monday, 27 May 2013

Bachelorette Party I



From a couple of weeks ago


Holy weekend, friends! Left to my own devices, I tend to schedule some downtime in, for strategic sleeping/rejuvenating purposes. This weekend? Yeah, notsomuch.

I spent Friday evening with a lovely group of ladies from school, and we worked on our presentation for next Saturday. And by "worked on our presentation" I mean "talked about boys and cats, and drank wine." It was calm, and lovely, and wonderful. And we even got some work done-- bonus points.

Saturday included class from 8-5, which was only bearable because of some of my classmates. It was a long day, kids. But! Post-class, I headed off to Seattle for Lacies bachelorette party! Lacie is a friend of mine from school (we were at her home on Friday), and getting to know her has been a major silver lining of this whole jumping-through-hoops academic experience. Good people, that one.

We spent the evening drinking cocktails, playing games, and laughing. It was a delight. Lacie's BFF organised it all, and did a fantastic job. The next morning involved a room service breakfast and SUN! A rare enough occurrence for us. Maybe that is why we woke up at 7? Oy.



After a short recovery period (ie a shower) and lunch/dinner in Fremont with Lacie and her Fiancé, I whisked Clover and Panda away for the much-anticipated Bryan Stars Tour Concert. Aaand, because we had VIP tickets, the evening started out with a meet and greet with All The Bands! And Late Nite Reading remembered the girls from last time! And Drake Christopher was there! And so was Her Bright Skies! And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you either (a) have not spoken to me in the last 24 hours or (b) are not part of the teen girl cult following! Geez, it's like you have never even heard of YouTube. What is this, 1997?

I got home at about 11 last night, just in time for bedtime before I had to be at work at 7 this morning.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Monday!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Wedding Season


I'm getting it down to an art: sincere best wishes, a set of salad bowls, travel plans, and greeting cards. RSVP as soon as possible. Offer advice only if asked. Make yourself useful.

Oh, wedding season. Unlike the holidays, Wedding Season is marked by a period of years rather than months (though that too). This year is particularly wedding heavy, with Lacie, Marigold, and Esquire all marrying their now-husbands in the past week. 




Terra and Aglio, are up next in July, and Daisy will be in August. Of course, several of these glorious events come with bachelorette parties or bridal showers, and they all involve near-endless opportunities to discuss wardrobe choices, scheduling decisions, and menu options.




I love it, actually. Their joy is like a tangible thing, and it brings me such happiness to be a part of it. I am delighted to roll up my sleeves and address some invitations, set out the centerpieces, or find the Neosporin. I revel in the opportunity to celebrate their love and commitment with friends, dancing arm-in-arm with some of the people I love the best.

And, at this point, I've almost got the logistics down: RSVP ASAP. Offer advice only when asked. Share my genuine delight, and help however possible. It's an exhausting season, but I'm not sure there is a better one.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

A Dream Come True

I got a wonderful education at ScrippsCollegeForWomen, but also gained something so much more-- some of the very best friends a girl could ever hope for. And then, so kindly, I met some of their friends-- and they're pretty incredible themselves.

This weekend in Phoenix was wonderful. It involved impromptu fully/partially clothed swimming, cheap gin, lots of champagne, dancing, a photo shoot on a diving board, a three day sleepover, a hot tub, laughing so hard my stomach hurt and I couldn't breathe, and-- oh yes-- the marriage of a dear friend.



Monday, 20 May 2013

En Route to Phoenix

Note: I wrote this on Thursday in the plane, but was far too focused on Fun With Friends! this weekend to post it. SO I'll post it now, and then add the follow up later, I guess. For those of you following along at home.


I hope I didn't run into you as I skipped into the airport, roller bag trundling along behind me. I hope I didn't blind you with my glowing joy. I hope you were too distracted by your own adventures to be even kind of interested in mine.

I going to Phoenix. Phoenix,guys!

Right, ok, I see your point. It isn't exactly a holiday destination, though the weather forecast (100 degrees! sunny!) may suggest otherwise. I'm not going for a weekend to myself, though-- I'm traveling there to witness and celebrate Esquire's wedding, along with Hans, Aslan, Wednesday, Ginny, Fae, and Chip: dear, dear friends from college who I have not seen for far too long. I've seen each of them since college (though only just, in Fae's case-- two months after we graduated), but we haven't all been together for several years. And furthermore, a contingent of the Oregon group will also be there.

"Excited" doesn't even begin to cover it.

Other than the wedding, I'm not sure what we will do. Maybe we will explore Phoenix. Maybe we will go to my favourite tourist destination in the continental UnitedStates. Maybe we will drink. Maybe we will sit around perfectly soberly (in terms of spirits, not spirits (ah- see what I did there?)). And I will be equally happy no matter what.

I reserved a minivan for our rental car, guys.* I won't be parted from these people by more than arm's length for even a moment.

So I don't know what this weekend holds, but I know I am more excited than I have been in a very long time!




*Don't worry, Aslan is on alert to tell me if I pull out a pair of baggy khaki shorts and sensible sneakers. She will put a stop to it immediately.**

**This shouldn't be an issue. I brought almost exclusively twirly dresses.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Chivalry

I have heard that chivalry is dead. It is always said with a shake of the head, a pursing of the lips. It's dead, and that's all there is to it.

Given the sorrow of the messenger, it seems inappropriate to launch into a rousing rendition of "ding dong, the witch is dead," so I bite my tongue. I weave my fingers together to keep the jazz hands under control, and I keep my feet firmly on the ground-- there will be no dancing in celebration yet.

Because, damnit, chivalry is not dead. But I think it's on it's way. In its place, I hope to find the most unusual of social beasts: manners.

Oh yes, let's keep those two seperate, shall we?

When you are using good manners, you are treating everyone with respect and kindness, regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, ability, clothing choices... You get the idea. Chewing with your mouth closed? Holding the door when someone has an armload of groceries? Sending a thank you note? Those are manners, and they apply to all. Use them. Really. People notice.

Chivalry, on the other hand, is based on the idea that a laaaady cannot or should not do a damn thing for herself. Holding a door for a woman because she's a woman? Letting her get on/off the elevator first?  Opening the car door for her, even though that means you have to walk around the car twice? Yeah, that's just silly. And-- wait for it-- sexist.

Yes, yes, I know. You have the purest of intentions. You've been raised "right." You just want to be respectful.

You know what's respect? Treating a person as a person, not as a delicate piece of spun sugar. Looking at your behaviour, and realizing when it is out-dated.

Of course you can still hold the door open for me, if you get to it first. I'll do the same for you! And if I look like I'm struggling with a suitcase, a purse, some grocery bags, and all the tea in China... Well, yes, I very well might appreciate your help carrying or holding some things-- and I will happily do the same for you, if you ever need it.

But taking my tiny suitcase from me when it is the only thing I am carrying? Tripping all over yourself to let me be the first off of the elevator? Dashing ahead to grab the door, before I'm forced to
open it with my sweet little feminine hand?

That makes us both look ridiculous.

So when chivalry dies, I'll be at the wake. I'll be singing, and dancing, and wildly disrespectful of the dearly departed. And when the food has been eaten, and the wine has been drunk, and we are all heading for the door, well. If you get there first, you can hold it for us both. But if I'm the first, I'll do the holding, k?



Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mama

"Hello?"
"Howdy!"

In the days before we had caller ID, or exclusively used cell phones, I would occasionally answer the phone to find my grandfather on the end of the line. We'd launch into some friendly small talk, until, apropos of nothing, as far as I can tell, Grandpa would burst into uproarious laughter.

It took me years to figure out what he was laughing at.

I don't remember how it came to light, but I finally learned what was so very funny; whenever I answered the phone, my greeting (and initial conversation) sounded exactly like my mother. He would assume he was talking to her, until I said something that clearly identified me, at which point he would crack up in surprise.

I can't say I'm turning into my mother, but I can say that I am supremely fortunate to be influenced, taught, and raised by her. Her tone of voice is not the only thing I have unintentionally adopted, never mind the multitude of skills and qualities that I am patiently (and not so patiently) trying to cultivate within myself.

When people meet my mom, after knowing me, there is an inevitable moment of, "Ohhhhh...." And I am always so flattered.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

LOL.

Just so you know, it's all a game.

This "doing dishes." This "running errands." This "having a job" and "looking after kids." It's all a jolly laugh, a joke. Come on, guys, I'm like... 10. But see me pretending to be a grown up? I almost had you fooled, huh? These kids who call me "Ms" are so confused! Anyone who refers to me as ma'am has clearly been smoking something.

Ha!

Me! An adult!

It's laughable.

Except for laundry.

I can't explain it, but I feel so grown up, so capable when I'm doing laundry. Sorting, washing, drying, folding. Measure the soap. Turn the dial. When I'm doing laundry, I'm a real adult.

But other than that?

Oh yeah, it's totally a joke.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

I found this...

...when I was glancing through my"blogs in progress" file. I wrote it while the kids, their grandparents, and I were en route to Montana. Just reading through it brought me back to that place of content.

Sigh.




Right now, right this very moment, I can say that there is nowhere else I would rather be. I'm in a large Suburban, confidently piloted by Clover and Neptune's grandfather. Their grandmother sits next to him, playing Solitaire on her phone.

And I'm in the backseat with Clover and Neptune, their long legs crossing my lap, their heads pillowed in puffy winter coats. They are sleeping, or dozing, or trying to. The world is slipping fluidly by outside, the darkness parting for our headlights, the snow reflecting their glow.

We have been reading A Christmas Carol. It is peaceful, quiet, warm.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

EVERY DAY IN MAY?!

Well, let's try it, shall we? I mean, May is only the most HORRENDOUSLY BUSY MONTH EVER, so trying to fit in a little daily blogging shouldn't too bad.

Oy.

I missed Day 1 (the story of my life in 250 words)
And I missed Day 2 (Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at)
But I DID blog on those two days, so that counts for something, right? 

And then I blogged on Friday, so that should count for something. Not about "things that make me uncomfortable," but it still. It was blogging.

(Side note: Things that make me uncomfortable: When people in a position of authority do/say things that I am not in a position to correct, but that I find offensive. For example, saying something is "so gay" or "so retarded." No excuse to say it, but I can't correct them because of my position. Arrrghh the agony.)

But SATURDAY. Which I am also writing on FRIDAY, because I'll be busy all of Saturday.

Favourite quote: For anyone who has met me in real life, or read this blog for more than 2.5 minutes, you already know it. But I'll share it anyway, just in case:

Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. 

I'm not going to ruin it by explaining it to death. Just... think about it. Internalise it. 


Friday, 3 May 2013

Overheard


Pom Pom: I'm staying to play soccer after school, Panda, so I won't be home until 6.

Panda: Ok, thanks for letting me know. I'll be at karate by then, but you should probably leave Mom a note.

Pom Pom: Oh, I already told her.

Panda: Yeah, but you should still leave a note. Remember when she called me in a
panic because she forgot you were at crochet club?

Pom Pom: Good point.



And then she left a note for her mother.
Do you think the girls give sibling lessons?

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Wait, what?

I saw a bumper sticker this morning that said this:
To which I can only ask... Wait. What?

I mean, look. I'm passionately pro-choice. I think it's a woman's (or couple's) decision, and I really encourage you to do what is right for you/your family, whether that is carrying a pregnancy to term or choosing to terminate it.

But even if I didn't believe that, I'm pretty sure you are still "pregnant" whether it is with a zygote, embryo, fetus, or, sure, a baby.

Or, following their logic through, if I'm pregnant with, say, an embryo... and I believe it to be any embryo, not a "baby" yet... then, by this logic, I'm not pregnant. Woohoo! Free from all potentially challenging moral issues!

I've seen a lot of bumper stickers for all sorts of different political/social issues that get me all lathered up in a righteous froth. This is not one of them, however. This one, I just find very puzzling.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

"Oh, you'll never see them again" and other LIES

"You'll never see them again" is the only lie I'm actually going to address at present, but it is the LYING-EST LIE, so I do feel it deserves my full attention... and yours.

All those times people say, oh-so-reassuringly, "Relax, you'll never see any of these people again," they are lying to you. They may not know it, but they are. 

My life exists to prove this.

7 years ago (holy hell), I headed off to college. As I was discussing my plans with a friend of mine, she perked up. "Really? Scripps?" she asked, "That's so funny. I think Rayne is going there too!" And, indeed, she was. Rayne was a classmate of mine in middle school.

In middle school, in Taiwan.

In my teeny, tiny British middle school in Taipei. 30 students in the whole grade, and one of them was going to be at Scripps, a teeny, tiny liberal arts college in Southern California. What were the odds?

It was great. I like Rayne, and she was incredibly helpful when I was stuck on my Chinese homework. She actually lived upstairs from me during our Sophomore year, and I would stroll back from her room humming "It's a small world" under my breath.

So that was weird, but life is weird, right?

Then, several years later, I was visiting a friends in England (in fact, one of them was the same friend who told me about Rayne coming to Scripps). We were discussing plans for the evening, and I was actively resisting going dancing. "I don't want to," I whined. "I'll look ridiculous!" Anna shook her head. "Why do you care? You'll never see any of these people ever again." I considered her point. Yes, I would look like a fool, but she was right. The likelihood of me ever meeting any of these people in the future was miniscule. Plus, even if I DID see one of them again, we would certainly never remember each other. And Anna and Eesa had seen me do enough stupid things; a little embarrassing dancing was unlikely to ruin a friendship that had begun in 7th grade.

So, ok. I acquiesced.

We fancied ourselves up, and headed to Cindy's, one of several clubs in Cambridge. As we entered the club, we took stock of our surroundings. The slightly sticky carpet, sweetness of alcohol in the area, the flurry of movement from our fellow uninhibited dancers... and a swirl of remarkably familiar dark red hair. Erin?

Erin had been my host when I had been a prospective student at Scripps. That year, she actually lived right down the hall from me. We greeted each other with an excited hug, and with repeated gasping in amazement. What was she doing there? What was I doing there?

Yep, I would definitely be seeing her again.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Day of Silence

The Day of Silence is a day that is dedicated to showing support for LGBTQ youth who have had their voices silenced-- by bullying, by a general lack of regard for their experiences and input, by suicide, by the limits that our society places on people who don't conform to the heterosexual/cisgender "ideal." It is a day that is made special not only by what it stands for, but also who participates. In the schools, where students are bullied every day... that is where kids are speaking up by staying silent.

I am so very, very proud that this year, Panda, Pom Pom, Clover, and Neptune have all decided to join the ranks of students across the country who are saying that enough is enough.




Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Pick Your Battles

I've always heard "pick your battles." It's strong advice, given by strong people, to strong people.

Is this a hill you want to die on?

What are you trying to achieve?

I am, for all of my many faults, an extremely reflective individual. In fact, some (me) would list that among my faults. I ask myself these questions all the time. Often before a request leaves my mouth, but sometimes after. 

Is this something I want to pursue? 

Will the energy (and potential misery) be worth the end result?

Will I gain or lose respect by handling this situation in this way?

What do I want him/her to learn?

Will this help him/her grow as a person?

Is there enough time for this to be a battle?

Think. Think. Think.

Generally, here is what I've concluded:

Hills to die on
- Treating people with kindness
- Getting chores and homework done
- Health and hygiene matters

Not worth the battle
- Pretty much everything else.
- Yeah, ok, like everything else.
- For example. The precise standards of bedroom tidiness. 


Breathe in, breathe out. Think.

What am I trying to achieve? 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Math, you say? SINGING, you say?!

I'm not really a... "math person." I was never one of those folks who just loooved math, who saw the magical way the numbers would have to fall. The logic wasn't clear for me. I could do it, I always did fine, but it wasn't intuitive or enjoyable. At all.

Last Saturday, we had a wonderful, wonderful class with a middle school math teacher. She was enthusiastic, fun, and extremely energetic. She likes math, but she loves students, and that really made me think about this whole "teaching math" thing differently.

By which I mean, it made me think about teaching math at all.

I think the real turning point came when she encouraged (ahem, *required* us) to come up with songs or chants to remember information about rates, ratio, and proportion. Extra points (life points, not class points) if we could come up with a "total physical response" to help kids remember the terms or ideas.

Oh yeah. This is my kinda thing.

I turned to my group with great excitement. Together, we came up with the following work of staggering genius.

Feel free to sing it out loud, in public, on the daily. That's what I've been doing. Just make sure you're singing it to the tune of "Winter Wonderland."


Rates, ratio, and proportion
All compare the values "a" and "b"
If "a" gets multiplied by a number
Then "b" gets multiplied equally

To simplify, use division
For equivalents, use multiplication

And then you will see
What "a" is to "b"
Looking at numbers comparatively


You may now applaud.  

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

You can lead a kid from technology...

I'm sitting at the table, typing this blog post on my iPad, which is snuggled inside a little keyboard case. In or out of its case, my iPad is rapidly becoming my brain, outside of my body. It has my lists, notes, address book, recipes... everything. 

Next to me, within easy reach, is my phone. And yeah, it's smart. Some days it seems like my phone is smarter than I am. And I take advantage of it, I do. Plans are made by texting, e-mailing, Facebooking from anywhere. Google is accessed daily. How late is the restaurant open? And how do I get there anyway?

On the floor by my feet is my bag, which holds my iPod (source of Music and Dancing), and six trillion cameras. I'm trying to be less crazy about the whole picture thing, because I don't want remembering an experience to get in the way of living it, but... I love my cameras, especially my DSLR. 

So what I'm saying is, I'm drowning in technology. And even while I love it-- and I really, really do-- I hate it. I hate that almost anyone can reach me at any moment (though I'm getting better about simply not answering my phone if I don't want to). I hate that I have to rely on Will Power and Self-Control to do things like day dream and people watch rather than skim through Facebook or watch a YouTube video of a hilarious dog. I hate that it gives me the ability to do work Anywhere, so there is literally never an excuse for me not to be working on something. I'm not saying anything new, here. I know most people feel the same way, actually. But it's really come to the forefront for me recently, as I've been watching the kids.

They are transforming from people who like to Do Things and Go Places into kids who would really rather just be on Twitter, kthanxbye. If we can't post what we're doing on Instagram, what's the point? Is this activity REALLY going to be more fun than playing Plants Versus Zombies, or using that weird paint-colour-swirl app? I don't THINK so. (Don't you roll your eyes at me.) 

And YES, it is important for kids to know how this technology works, and to feel comfortable with it, because by this time next year we will all have chips embedded in our brains that turn us INTO iPads. But, look, it shouldn't come at the expense of experiencing a three dimensional life. Boredom is good. Playing in the rain is way more valuable than whining about the rain on your fav social media (they do, actually, agree with me on this one). I get so frustrated seeing people (kids, adults... but MY kids, specifically) so plugged in to what is happening next on their iPod touches, Kindle Fires, laptops... you name it. We set time limits, o' course, but they are hard to stick to and monitor. These devices are picked up and put down a hundred gazillion times a day, in five or ten or twenty minute increments. 

Or maybe this is what's bothering me the most: it's taken over their conversations. I hear about Twitter posts, and Instagram conversations, and the latest bands more than I ever hear about what they're thinking or feeling. More than their conversations, more than their activities, this technology seems to have taken over their brains. I feel like I'm jumping up and down, windmilling my arms in the air: "Hello! Hello? I'm over here! Let's play!" 

And they will. It's not that they never put stuff down, it's not like they never do anything else. I keep talking to them about current events and interesting ideas, keep insisting on outings and activities. Once they are led to water, they will drink. But far be it from them to suggest we find a stream. 





 









Monday, 25 March 2013

10 Things I Can't Do

1, Start and finish a task in the same, continuous block of time
2. Put down and pick up projects and still feel like I'm accomplishing things

1 & 2 are kind of in conflict.

3. Speak another language fluently
4. Get through a day without a list and/or calendar
5. Lie
6. Be late to an appointment, class, dinner, or lesson (and not feel awful/guilty/disorganised/stressed)
7. Find my way around an unfamiliar (or, ok, very familiar) city without a map or directions
8. Get all parts of a meal ready at the same time. Ever.
9. Sound casual if I'm not feeling casual. Can't fake it. I guess that goes along with #5.
10. Get this post together in time for the Thursday Writer's Workshop. Oops.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

It IS Spring...

5 years ago, my mom adopted a precious little hedgehog named Luna. Luna became a library pet, and was much cuddled and fussed over. Most hedgehogs are a bit, well, prickly. Not Luna, though! Despite the spiky exterior, she was the very soul of mellowness as hundreds of children would gently stroke and admire her.



Sadly, a couple of weeks ago, my mother noticed a growth on her mouth. It was diagnosed as mouth cancer, and Luna was put to sleep a week ago. She had become unable to eat or drink, and we did not want the sweet creature to suffer. It was very sad, but truly necessary.

Later that day, my mom dug a hole in the backyard, and gently removed the small hedgehog from the cage where she had been lying in wake. Luna was still wrapped in her fleece blanket, in the customary hedgehog-ball. When Mom lifted her up, she peered inside.

That was when I got involved. She came into the kitchen with a horrified expression on her face, pro-offering the bundle of hedgehog. "Is... is she still breathing?" she asked.

The pit dropped out of my stomach, but not because I thought that was likely. I was sure that Mom must be seeing things, or that her hands were trembling and giving the hedgehog the appearance of life. Feeling slightly anxious, I gazed in at the small creature... the small, breathing creature. Cupping her in my hands, I stared at my mom, and then back at the hedgehog. Yep, she was still alive.

We returned her to her cage, cozy under her heat lamp. Surely, we reasoned, she must be comatose. She cannot possibly be in any pain. No doubt she will peacefully slip from this life to the next.

She spent the weekend under her heat lamp, asleep, unconscious, or simply too miserable to move. I guess we will never know, but by Monday she was, well...

She was up and about. She was eating. She was drinking.

I guess Spring really IS all about rebirth and new life, huh?


Friday, 8 March 2013

The Survival Instinct of Dodo Birds

Yesterday, I got a phone call. "Hello, this is the nurse calling from Middle School. I have Clover here in the office. She hit her head on a pole, and needs to be picked up."

On a... on a pole?

At this point, I barely bat an eye. I've been in training for years, and have heard my fair share of outrageous injury stories. The kids have stubbed their toes on the pavement, gotten thumbs tangled in soccer cleats, and generally just given the Band-Aid brand a fair share of business. These past months, though, have really taken the cake.

Back in January, Clover hit herself in the face with her violin, earning a genuine black eye for her trouble.

A couple of weeks later, Neptune was playing tag at recess, and ran full force into the side of a shed, giving himself a concussion. (He stayed home from school the next day, as did Clover-- she had the flu. It was a par-tay. I organised the craft closet.)

Two weeks ago, Neptune swallowed a dime. Yep, a dime. And yeah, he's 10. He was fine, of course. But... Seriously? It was an accident, but.. Again. Seriously?

And then, yesterday, that phone call from the nurse.

Girl ran into a pole. And has a concussion.

Don't worry, she'll survive. At least, this time.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Kiddo

I hate the word "kiddo." I'm not even sure why. In my mind, though, it should only be used somewhat sarcastically. "Tough luck, kiddo." It could also be used when expressing sympathy: "I'm sorry, kiddo. I know you're disappointed."

What will grates on my nerves, however, is using the word when not addressing a child. "What are the kiddos doing today?"

I cannot possibly explain why I find this so deeply unpleasant. But, there you are.

"Kiddos."

Shudder.

Acceptable alternatives include: kids. children. kidlets. young'uns. yotlots (youth of today, leaders of tomorrow). tiny creatures. etc.




Saturday, 2 March 2013

Dream Come True

Being a teenage girl was different before YouTube. While it was very possible to obsess over your favourite celebrities, it was more difficult to obtain endless information about them. We all pretty much relied on the glossy magazines that came out once a month, or word-of-mouth gossip from friends. Sure, we used the internet too, but not in the way that it is used now.

You can learn anything on YouTube. Physics. Math. Cooking. Fondant sculpture. And, of course, everything you could ever want to know about your favourite boy band.

This is where Clover and Panda's interest lies at present. They have been busily researching Late Nite Reading, watching every video that features them, and following all of the various tributaries too. They have discovered Catching Your Clouds, Rocky Loves Emily, Farewell My Love, and more that I will likely never remember.

Late Nite Reading holds a special place in their hearts... and even moreso now.

Last week, they attended a Late Nite Reading concert.

And then...

Then...

They got to meet them.

Oh yes.

The drummer in Late Nite Reading is a close family friend, and so I was able to "use my connections" (ie beg and bully Drew into hanging out with us-- because I was dying to hear stories of his adventures, and the girls were dying to be within real life's arm reach of the band).

In case you're wondering what "dream come true" looks like, it involves meeting your favourite band ever that you watch allthetime on YouTube. It involves attending their real-live concert, and singing and dancing along. It involves meeting up with them at Pike Place Market, and showing them the gum wall. 

Nope, it doesn't get cooler than that.



Thursday, 28 February 2013

Sims

Did you ever play the computer game The Sims?

If you didn't, no great loss. It's kind of like real life (Sims get jobs, go swimming, occasionally burn down the kitchen, etc), but more boring. They speak in a weird language, are wholly incapable of doing anything for themselves, and seem to not possess an ounce of common sense.

They are sort of like young children, in that way.

They also live in a crazy, fast-forward version of time. An hour of real life time is about a week in Sims world (or... something... I don't actually remember). It's super, super fast. As soon as you have finally fed your Sim breakfast, it's almost dinner time. It's all you can do to keep them fed, rested, and toileted. It really is an uphill battle. There's no time for work, no time for hobbies, it's just a grind to keep that little floating diamond even partially green.

(If you've never played Sims, I've lost you. But just go with me on this.)

More and more I'm feeling like I'm living in Sims Time. It's an alternate reality where I'm always short on time and just struggling to keep everyone fed and rested. Homework done is a necessity, hobbies are secondary. Extra credit if there's time for something fun.

We're living in Sims time here, folks. Let's keep it movin'.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Xanga Memoirs


A window into my world at age 16. Watch out, it's treacherous. I chose the entries carefully, so that you wouldn't think I was TOO crazy at age 16. Unfortunately, I think that's unavoidable. Still, when Kathy suggested posting a week's worth of entries "as if we were 16" for a Writer's Workshop challenge, it made me realise... I have a week's worth of entries from when I was 16. On Xanga! Oh, 16. 


June 5, 2003

ARGH what a birthday. A chinese exam AND the worst maths exam I have had in my entire LIFE. Maybe I can go live somewhere where maths isn't needed...like...uh...under my bed? I could live there with the demon who will reach out and grab my ankle if I don't jump into bed fast enough.
Well, anywhere where maths is unnecessary. I'm not picky.
Happy Birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday dear Blythe
Happy birthday to me
Isn't it scary that I'm 16 years old??? AHHHHHHHHH I should be, like, a rebel or something! But seriously. 16 sounds ancient. I've got one foot in the grave! I'll soon need a cane, I expect.
To all who had to take the exams, I hope they were better for you than they were for me

October 13, 2003
Hello, my friends,
Oh. My. God. How is it that we should be thinking about college this early? WHY AM I THINKING ABOUT COLLEGE? It seems that getting into a university or college is extremely competitive and one needs to be very involved in school, have good grades, etc. I guess International Award is a good choice, then? It would seem so. But what I want to know is- how do people choose a college? I mean, in America alone there are literally hundreds of universities and colleges. I’m thinking liberal arts college, and then on to graduate school, to focus on a more specific subject for a career. Anybody know of MacalesterCollege? It’s in St PaulMinnesota, and sounds really good. Any opinions, let me know.
college/university sounds quite interesting, but very stressful to get in to!! And I’m still stuck on how one narrows down one’s choices. I mean, especially if you aren’t that influenced by location- what if you are just as interested in East coast schools as west coast schools, etc? HOW COME WE DON’T LEARN THIS IN HIGH SCHOOL? I’ve got a list of about a million different universities and colleges, I guess I might as well take a quick look at many of them.
Or just start with the liberal arts colleges.
Wish me luck, everybody!

November 10, 2003
Hi again.
I just remembered, having read my friend's site, that we have a fricking debate today. and I am debating against fricking coca cola. And I fricking want fricking coca cola at our fricking school.
I hope the other fricking side wins.
Isn't fricking the coolest word EVER?
I think so.
Anyways, at least try to appreciate that I'm having a hard time getting my head round this idea of a debate.
Ermm... what was I going to say? Oh yeah, auditions. well we had auditions for the high school production of "Little Shop of Horrors" yesterday, and it was dead freaky. LOL and like three out of the five people that were there when I was read the exact same lines I was reading for my audition. Hahaha! Oh well! I guess we'll see what comes of it. Hope I get a part though.
Anyways, talk to you later



March 05, 2004
hello blythe's avid fans!
this is anna. she is packing for the ia walk, and so ive hijacked her computerbot and writing a xanga entry for her
but i have not anything to say. blythe does tho. she says : "im hiding my laundry" (while applying foundation)
don't ask me...i'm just the undertaker.
ok well we must be off to eat lovely thai food at thai heaven muahahhahahahaha yumyum coconut chicken..........
okiedokie. blythe just told me she will get mad if i get more comments than she does on her other entries, so let's make her fuming so we can boil water and have a cuppa on her head.
im nto making sense any more so im going to go
and a word from blythe:" is that blended"?
luv anna


Saturday, 23 February 2013

As Long as we Both Shall Live

It's hard to make friends after college.

It's so easy when you're in school-- you see the same people every day for weeks, and so you can gradually transition from, "Can I borrow a pencil?" to "How was your weekend?" to "Want to get lunch [at the dining hall]?" and so on. Eventually, you are BFFs who can't exist without each other. That is just the way it goes, and that whole progression takes about 2.4 seconds.

Ok, sometimes it takes somewhat longer than that, but it is a very natural series of interactions.

Not so, after college.

Post-college, making friends becomes (1) a challenge and (2) surprisingly stressful. I think the mind games (at least that I play with myself) are every bit as intense as the dating-related mind games. Hoping someone will want to be your friend is even more stressful, I think. After all, if someone doesn't want to date you... fair enough. Maybe the person is not single, or maybe not looking for a relationship. But if someone doesn't want to be your friend? No way around that-- that's personal.

No one says, "Oh, no, you seem great. It's just... I have a friend already, you know?"

If you extend an offer of friendship and are declined, well, that just kind of sucks.

So the dance is very intricate, in order to avoid exactly that scenario. At some point in the "casual" conversations, it is possible to begin to glean if maybe this other person might possibly be interested in a friendship. Maybe.

Then, cautiously, you can extend an invitation to take your friendship a step farther. Coffee, perhaps. A drink? Lunch, if you are daring.

Hold your breath in anticipation, but try to look super relaxed. Maybe, even if she turns you down, it's just because she's busy.

Or maybe because she hates you and never wants to spend time with you ever no matter what. That is an equally likely possibility.

 The level of energy that can go into this is immense.

Want to go get a cup of coffee as long as we both shall live?*



*Many thanks to Twirl for her way of phrasing this. I laughed for about half an hour, and continue to chuckle whenever I think of this. So awkward. So. True.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Teenage Mutant (Ninja Turtle)

I lost the front seat of my car on Wednesday. It was a wonderful storage place for my coat, library books, bag... It was a great place, that front seat. And now, it's gone.

Or not gone, I suppose, so much as Occupied.

In the state of Washington, one is legally allowed to ride in the front seat of the car when one is 13.

And Clover is.

I find this to be a level of Shocking that I have not previously experienced. Though I am somehow surprised by their new ages every year, this year has really caught me off-guard. Thirteen. A teenager. Oy.

We made a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cake for her birthday.

"Get it, Dad? Get it?" she asked. "Teenage mutant ninja turtle?"
He smiled and nodded at her. "Yep, I get it."
"Get it, K? Get it?" I asked. "Teenage Mutant?"
He laughed. He got it.

She has her teenage mutant moments, of course. We all went through that, some more (or less) gracefully than others.

Those moments, though, are not the important ones. Those are not the ones I'll be remembering.

Instead, I'll be remembering her pulling back her hair with a grin, to reveal her newly pierced ears.
I'll be remembering her (sometimes outrageous) experiments with make up.
Her enthusiasm for new adventures.
Her emerging responsibility and independence.
Her sense of humour.

I have very fond memories of her earlier years, but I have equally wonderful memories of the past year-- and I have no doubt that 13 will bring much love, laughter, and fun.

So bring it on, teenage mutant. I'm excited for all of it.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Two Digits

It passes quickly, you know. Each year, one month flows into the next. The children get incrementally taller, stronger, funnier. I rarely stop to think about it until another birthday shows up.

This year, it's 10. Ten! Two digits. Ten years. One hundred and twenty months. Five hundred twenty weeks.  That's actually quite a bit of life experience, right there. There's a lot more to be had, of course, but it's enough for some things. Ten years. Wow. 

It's enough to know that Sour Patch Kids are the best candy

It's enough to know that you should keep your elbows off the table (even though that's really hard). 

It's enough to know that superheros are great, especially if they are Marvel superheros, but that they ain't got nothin' on airsoft guns (sigh). 

It's enough to know that science and PE are fun, that social studies can be really interesting (or really NOT), and that long division is hard (but can be done).

 It's enough to know that good things happen, and so do bad things, and that, actually, a lot of these things will work themselves out with time.

It's enough to know that turning up the music in the car, and singing along, is a great form of stress relief.

It's young enough to not care about ice cream dripping down your arm, or smudges on your shirt.

It's old enough to worry about being on time, but only for certain things.

It's old enough to mostly remember your homework and library books, to mostly create and/or follow a to do list. 

It's enough to you know that you are loved, and that there are many good adventures to be had.

It's enough. And it's wonderful.

Happy Birthday, Neptune.

Friday, 15 February 2013

People First Language

In case you have not jumped on the "People First Language" band wagon, I want to invite you to climb aboard.

I would like to invite you to refer to people not as their diagnoses, but as themselves.

I would like to encourage you to think of people, not labels.

Glitter is a young woman with a developmental delay, not a Developmentally Delayed Woman.

That child, over there? He is a child with an autism spectrum disorder. He is not an Autistic Child.

I would like to demand, in fact, that you think of the people first.

**And yes, of course, thinking of the people first means calling people what they wish to be called. And if that isn't People First Language, it is still "people first language," if ya know what I mean.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Really, I do this to myself

My life would be easier, you know, if I didn't care so much. I care about people, animals, punctuality, grammar, the environment, my job, the people related to my job, academics.... it goes on and on.

But really, you know what would make my life way, way easier?

If I just didn't give a damn about holidays.

Think about it. No holidays. No themed decorations or dinners, no festive songs, no cards, no gifts.

It's easier, it's cheaper, it's... sadder.

And so, despite the expense, the frivolity, the time (oh god, the time), I carry on. I embrace the holidays. And it works, actually, really well. Most of the time. I have time to give all of my energies to Christmas (we decorated! we sang! we visited lights and gingerbread houses!), Hanukkah (homemade candles! I even learned a prayer!), Easter (egg hunt!), Passover (plagues made out of ShrinkyDinks!)(yeah, ok, that one is weird). And then. just when I'm recovering from the December holidays... it hits.

February.

Oh man, guys. February. The entire K family has birthdays that fall within one week of each other. One week. It's birthday week! Clover and A even share a birthday. That's how ridiculous this is. And, oh hey, it's also the same week as Valentine's day! And this year, it's also the same week as Chinese New Year!

And, because the elementary school is great, family night at book fair is ALSO during that week, and we couldn't possibly miss that now could we? 

And so, our week looks like this:

Monday: Family night at book fair
Tuesday: Chinese New Year celebration (And yeah, ok, technically CNY is Sunday. But I don't work on Sundays. And Monday is already taken up with book fair. And there is no way I am not celebrating this with the children.)
Wednesday: Clover and A's birthday
Thursday: Valentine's Day
Friday: Neptune's pre-birthday (they will be out of town on his actual birthday, so we are celebrating a bit early)

And ok, yeah, I could just not celebrate CNY.

Or, I guess, we don't actually need a themed dinner and homemade Valentines.

And, well, yes, Neptune's birthday isn't actually until Monday, and we could celebrate when he gets back. Except, you know, I gave him the choice. And he chose Friday.

So I'm pulling out my apron, my heart cookie cutters, tulle, glitter, calligraphy brushes, and red envelopes. I'm wishing everyone a xin nian kuai le and telling them gong xi fa cai. I'm singing happy birthday until my voice is horse, and putting glitter heart stickers on every surface I can reach.

And I'm loving every minute.



Or, well... most of the minutes.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Cooking Triumphantly

Recently, I have been cooking triumphantly.

Though I have always fed the children, of course, it's only within the past couple of weeks that I have been cooking. Chicken, steak, tofu, Quorn, potatoes, Duck Feast (ie breakfast for dinner), you name it. It's not artistic, it's not challenging, but it is Cooking.

Every night when I Produce a Dinner, I feel almost deserving of applause. Now, if that isn't a sign of The Times and My Life, I'm not sure what is. Regardless of how silly that is, though, it's how I feel.

I triumphantly marinade, cook, serve. I sit down with the children, and smile across the table at them.

I'm not the only one who is enjoying this, though. Even though this greater variety means that "favourite" foods are less likely to be served and dinner, and that trying of new things will be required. Even though it is now a Required Activity for the evening. Even though.

The kids are very pleased with this arrangement. They are really enjoying sitting around the table, chatting about our days, and enjoying each other's company. They are also eating better, though I don't think that is apparent to them.

It has only taken a couple of weeks, but they are into the rhythm. They ask what dinner will be, cheerfully accept that snacks are "fruit or veggie only" after about 4:30, and cheerfully help to set or clear the table.

It is pleasant. And I am Triumphant.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Another Tranche of this Vie

"Well, let's see if we can find out more about the venue first, ok? We need to talk with your parents about whether they are ok with you going to this concert."

"As long as I'm with you, they won't mind! You're the most responsible member of this family."

Monday, 4 February 2013

Not Yet

Not yet, please.

I don't want her to have to deal with that yet.

I don't want her heart to hurt yet.

I don't want her to know about this darkness yet.

I don't want her to know that sometimes caring is not enough

Sometimes nothing you can say is enough

Nothing you can do is enough

I don't want her to know that, ever.

But at least... I don't want her to know that yet.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

25

25. It sounded so old just a few years ago. Maybe it sounds even older now that I am 25, and am creeping ever closer to 26 (and nothavinghealthinsurancethroughmydadohmygod). Maybe to you it doesn't sound old at all, because you have Perspective.

But I'm 25. It's the oldest I've ever been, and the youngest I will ever be again. 

25. Lordy.

My life is full of goals, adventures, love, routine, and laughter, but sometimes one experience or another stands out. Sometimes I have an experience that makes me realise I am, in this moment, so very, very 25. 

Please see: Lady Gaga.

Dash, Aslan and I went to see her concert on January 14th, and it was phenomenal. Aslan came up from Portland, I got out of work early (thanks, K), and all three of us convened for The Event. 

Because Dash and I were coming straight from work, we were dressed in our street clothes. We looked fine, of course, but... not right for Lady Gaga. We had brought costumes, and were debating where to change when we found ourselves, almost by accident, in the Tacoma Dome parking lot. Once in, we were certainly not leaving. 

And so, because we are 25, because we came from work, because we love Lady Gaga and costumes and dancing and make up and fun, because it was the only option, really, we changed in the car. We were transformed. From Responsible Adults by day, to lace-tulle-and-spandex clad Creatures of Music. We applied make up by the dome light of the car, using gold eyeliner, bright shadows, and lipstick liberally, even though we couldn't quite see what were doing. I fell over backwards, trying to pull on a stiletto boot in the back seat of my quite-small car. There wasn't far to fall.



In the concert we sang, we danced, we cheered and stomped our feet. 

And then, after the concert,
when our voices were horse,
and our feet were sore

After the concert we drove home, still singing. We made it to bed by 1:30-- joyful, exhausted, exultant.

And four hours later, I crawled back out of bed-- to go to work.

Because I'm 25. 


Thursday, 31 January 2013

Miss Schaller

You know how I feel about using code names on this blog. It started out to protect privacy, and has evolved into something that is just downright fun. MY name may give you the ability to find me in the Real World (it's kind of unusual), but most names I could mention wouldn't help you at all. I can tell you that I have a friend named Sara. There, now you can track me down and stalk me, right?

Right.

So anyway.

I like code names, but they are mostly just for fun. In this case, however, I'm trying something new. I'm going to tell you about my second grade teacher, Miss Schaller, who was a creature of sparkle and magic. I strongly suspect that in a past life she was a unicorn. She was that. amazing.

The summer before second grade, I heard about our two different options for teachers. Mrs Ferrin taught one second grade class, and Miss Schaller taught the other. My friend was dying to have Miss Schaller, and I was desperate to have Mrs Ferrin. As luck would have it, of course, the opposite assignments came about, and I found myself in Miss Schaller's class on the first day of school. It was one of the great pieces of luck in my life.

Miss Schaller was young, fun, enthusiastic, and a zoo keeper. I mean, she wasn't really a zoo keeper, but in our classroom we had quite the assortment of critters. Hercules was a large grey rabbit you could take out on a leash at recess, if you had enough stickers on your chart. Quills was a friendly hedgehog (the first I had ever seen). Pattern and Diamond were two small turtles, not very creatively named by an 8 year old... me. There was also a mudpuppy, and a couple of frogs. Yes, friends, it was a hell of a classroom. It would have stood out anywhere, but in suburban Indiana, it was downright exotic.

And that wasn't even the end of it.

Miss Schaller practically oozed kindness and delight in activities. She! Loved! Everything! While I feel certain that one or another of us must have awoken her frustration at some point, I have no memory of this. She is packed away in my brain, a memory made by an 8 year old, as someone who was endlessly smiley.

She danced in the front of the classroom, waved her hands enthusiastically as she explained, got us all involved in projects all of the time, and threw her chalk in the air once to make a point. (It promptly vanished, and we were all awe-struck. It was later discovered, I believe, in the creases of one of the hanging maps... but that did nothing to convince us that Miss Schaller wasn't magical.)

From Miss Schaller, I learned about the parasaurolophus (my favourite dinosaur to this day), and how to write an informal letter. She taught us to spell, to research, and (much to my disgust) units of math that I have blocked from my mind. I know that math drills involved "board races," which I loathed, but even at 8 I realised that no one was perfect. Board races were Miss Schaller's one great flaw.

We put on puppet shows. We learned that air had weight (who knew??) and we performed experiment after experiment.

I want to teach middle school, not second grade, but Miss Schaller is certainly one of the reasons I want to teach at all.


**This post is part of the Writer's Workshop, over at http://www.mamakatslosinit.com/**