So, yeah, the last, what 4 months? happened November 26, 2013Posted by susan in 2011.
Oh my. I have fallen totally off the blogging bandwagon, which is not, in and of itself a bad thing, it’s just a thing. It’s sort of like quitting working out, it’s kind of hard to get back in the flow of something after so long (not that I would have any idea what that is like!)
So, yeah, we had a fall, and now we have a winter. Our windows are leaking, and we are digging into the box of blankets in order to snuggle on the sofa together. S has discovered the joy of reading to herself, which marks a big change in our lives together. We quit cable, and now only have netflix through the wii, which is also a nice thing to have. Plus, without trying to, we’ve given up weekday screen time for her. There’s just too much to fit in, and so far, when I say “no, but you can watch all you want on the weekend,” she’s been fine with it. When the weekend comes, we usually watch a movie on Friday and then she’ll gorge a bit on Saturday and then get bored. Problem solved.
We are planning to travel to the parental homestead for Christmas via train. It ended up being much, much cheaper than flying, in no small part because kids’ tickets are half price on Amtrak. When you add in the no parking fees (we can take a cab there and back for the cost of one day of airport parking), we’re all set. The way there won’t be so bad. We leave at 10:15 a.m., get to station A at 11:30 and then have an hour layover before getting on the long haul train. I figure the excitement of switching trains and checking out the dining room, club car, and viewing room will take up a bit of time, then a movie and some books. We might have dinner in the dining car, if it’s not too dear, then another book and bedtime. When she wakes up, we’ll be almost there. We arrive at 9:30, and then have to make our way from Windy City to homestead, which might be annoying, given bags and such, but at least will be interesting. The way back, our train departs at 9:30 p.m. I suspect that one will be harder, because we’ll have a long day the next day with nothing exciting. Hopefully, I can dig up some new movies for that half. I’m wondering–do you think if you check out a movie via redbox in one state, you can return it another? I guess I could google that. I welcome all train travel with 7 year olds advice.
Thanksgiving is this week. We are joining with generous friends. We have lots of arts and crafts to do over the long weekend. Let the glitter begin!
I’m trying to figure out next summer’s plans (already!). I’m going to apply to the writer’s workshop again. Unfortunately, the one that would be best for me is not going to work as it’s when S is still in school and can’t be sent to grandparent land. So I’m thinking. And I need to write a bunch of writing samples to make my attempts. I also have a short article due in a few weeks, and need to get the juices going again. I guess that’s a big piece of the return to bloggy land. I have to start writing!
Ring August 28, 2013Posted by susan in 2011.
On the first day of second grade, my alarm clock woke me up. Before I could turn the lights on in the bathroom, she was awake, too, and flying around the apartment. She got dressed, and we did hair and ate and did a little math. She bounced out of the apartment, out of the car, into the building.
I stopped to talk with an administrator on the way out, so I actually left after the morning bell.
Except there was no morning bell. They don’t have any bells at this school, just announcements, and a school-wide recitation of the pledge, and sometimes a singing of the school song and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” I wonder why the bells were set aside? I rather liked bells as a kid, that sliding into home feeling of sitting in your seat just as the rattle began, and the fire-rocket of departure at day’s end. When I was a teacher, I often yearned for the bell, the clatter that would rescue me from my own limits.
In chapel, today, the bell rang at 10:57. It’s supposed to ring on the hour, but it’s early. It’s been that way for years. It’s only because I had bells on the brain that I bothered to glance at my clock to figure out how early the bells are.
Fifty years ago today, a young preacher riffed off his existing sermon notes and wished to hear freedom ring from places I’ve been to and places I haven’t. He sought a world where little brown girls like the one that captures my heart can sit down with little white girls like I once was. I thought about the self-selected segregated tables in my daughter’s second grade class this morning. The teacher said she’d assign seats after the bell, the bell that doesn’t ring.
So at three, we rang the bells at the divinity school. This is no easy task. The bell is high. It is heavy, and the rope that dangles has been repaired often, and always threatens to break again. We ring it by hand only at commencement and let the automated system ring it 3 minutes early every hour the rest of the year.
Today at three, we rang the bell to commemorate a speech that happened before I was born. Two students agreed to ring the bell, and they ended up needing help from others, as well.
Nobody told us what we were to do while the bells rang, so a handful of us just ended up on the quad, standing around and waiting.
It took a while to get the bells going. I could hear the groaning gears before each pure clamor. They rang for just about two minutes.
And we stood there. Just four or five of us.
We stood there.
And then it seemed like there needed to be something to do, so we sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Most of us stopped after the first verse, but one student kept singing. I opened my phone to find the words to the other verses, and those around me joined her, huddled around a phone, singing about the day earth and heav’n ring. And then one of the bell-ringers prayed, his shirt drenched from the effort of ringing.
Ringing the bells requires effort, it seems. And it requires companionship. And a bit of sweat.
Selam says that today they rang bells in music class, because Dr. Marvin King wanted everybody to drink out of the same water fountains.
Then she remembered a song from kindergarten, and sang it for me, “Dr. King, Dr. King, Dr. King was a civil rights leader, Dr. King, Dr. King, he had a dream.”
The room redo–first steps August 13, 2013Posted by susan in 2011.
So I decided to go with a teal as a base color with hot pink. She wanted all pink, but I didn’t think I could take looking at a pepto bismol bottle every day. So here’s the bookcase before and after:
Then the dressers. So her old dresser was just really not up for the task of a little girl. The drawer pulls kept falling off, the drawers got stuck all the time, and it was just time for a mild upgrade. I got these two dressers at a yard sale for a combined 75 bucks. Then he charged me 5 bucks to deliver. The only downside was that he’d just painted both with a dark oil based paint, which is not fun to paint over, but the price is right and I think she’s going to love them. Here they are before:
Tonight, I’m going to put everything together–everything except wall stuff. Selam has been quite insistent that she wants to keep her bed next to the window, but with an extra dresser, we’re really running out of room if every single piece of furniture needs to be against the wall. She agreed to try it for one night in the other configuration, but I won’t be putting up any wall stuff until she’s committed to it.
Can’t wait to show her!
extreme makeover August 10, 2013Posted by susan in 2011.
So, wow. I have been nearly a month without internet at home. I’m so glad to have it back!
Selam is at camp, and I miss her like crazy.
While she’s gone, I’m working on a big-girl room upgrade for her. I’m painting one bookcase, two new to us dressers, and a tiny new to us bookcase. I’m also going to be painting some little things–frames and such.
She picked out a new bedspread. Its a crazy assortment of colors–fuschia, pink, teal, orange….mostly fuschia. I got her a new bedskirt and a pillow sham. I got her a bulletin board, and will be covering it with magenta fabric. We got a new lamp. I bought some tulle to make into giant pom poms. Oh, and I bought a bean bag chair cover. Last, there is a chair that a friend is giving me. Ooh, I almost forgot. There is also a new, small, Land of Nod wall unit. Today, I got some wall stickers, too–flowers and such.
Total cost? 284.
Am I a bargain genius or what?
Before and afters to come.
Workshop July 18, 2013Posted by susan in 2011.
So, I promised I’d write more about the workshop, but I’m finding that hard to do just yet. I think I need a bit more time. I also need internet at home. Home is my primary writing place (lunch hour scribbles like this one are the exception), and I have not replaced the internet service that I quit in a full-tilt Junie B Jones huffy. I bought a month’s worth of 3G for the Ipad, and when that’s out, I’ll buy the good stuff again. For a brief crazed moment I thought maybe I could live without it. I was wrong.
So, in lieu of a real post, here are bullets of cool writer’s workshop:
- I always say that I have no regrets about choosing to parent at an –ahem–later age. I’ve done everything I want to do. I take it back. After a week of writing, and reading and thinking, now I want to have more formal writing training–workshops, MFA maybe. But not that likely with the whole single mom gig. Not a regret, but a twinge, let’s say. A twinge. I can live with a twinge.
- I am not a very good reader. I found myself grasping for words of any kind to provide feedback to others. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it or didn’t read it. I just don’t have the vocabulary that would make my thoughts more concrete. This would be the downside of skipping out on lit and rhetoric in college (silly music major, writing is for everyone). I’m not sure how to tweak this deficit. I already read like a maniac. I think I need a book on how to read. Dick and Jane for the over-educated, anyone?
- I like to write.
- Having your piece workshopped on the first day results in people being extra kind.
- I checked work email just once. The first day. That’s it. I didn’t miss it.
- I do not have the ambition to write a book. I do have the ambition to be read, so I need to try to submit things again.
- I like to write. Have I mentioned that?
- Most people are far more complex than they let you see in person. Words are far more nuanced on the page than by voice.
- Having not much to do (compared to my ordinary life) made me want to take a lot of pictures. Odd that a workshop on words made me want to use pictures.
- I really like to write. I want to go back, too.
crowd source parenting again July 15, 2013Posted by susan in 2011.
So, first of all writing workshop? Wonderful. More on that later.
I’m actually thinking of some crowd source parenting right now.
A few months ago, Selam tried out for a girls choir. It’s a competitive group. 3000 girls tried out and they took under 200. What an honor! I was so surprised when we got the letter today!
The down side? This group is not a non-profit. It is a choir school. They charge tuition. Adding everything together–uniform, deposit, and monthly tuition, it comes up to a significant chunk of change, a chunk that is too large for me, most likely.
Now, we could maybe swing it if a couple of circumstances were met. First of all, if we got some scholarship money, which you can apply for (but you have to pay a deposit for the group before they tell you if you get any), AND if I used it as childcare one day a week (the rehearsals are from 3:30-5:30. If she were in the group that meets nearish to work, I could use my lunch hour to pick her up from school and get her to rehearsal, which would save me some after-school care money. But we’d also probably need to drop iceskating and maybe dance, too.
Why would it be good to do? Well, this group teaches music reading, and sight singing along with choral technique–these are good and important things. Also, a lot of girls from her school are in it, and so far, she doesn’t do anything with other kids from school, so that might be a nice entree. Last, if she sticks with it, there are great opportunities. The older girls travel all over the world.
Why wouldn’t it be good to do? Well, it’s a big time commitment, and if we have to drop other things, there is the risk of dropping the thing that she’s really good at in exchange for something that she’s maybe not the best at. Today, I saw about 5 minutes of her dance class. She’s good. She’s really, really good at that.
My crowd source question is this: How do you know where to put your money and energy? If I were to ask her (I’m not going to do that), she’d want to be in all of them. I know she would be excited about the choir, but I don’t know what she’d say to needing to drop dance to do choir. I don’t think she’s old enough to choose.
The other crowd source is how much is too much? She’s in girl scouts. That’s a required (you can’t quit if your mom is the leader). Right now, she’s in dance (ballet in the school year, and hip hop in the summer), and then she did a session –8 weeks–of ice skating last year. I feel like she’s on the cusp of being a decent ice skater, and would like her to do another session, just to have the basics down. She LOVES it, though, and wants to be in the olympics, when she’s not busy being a ballerina and a rock star.
I guess it’s a good problem to have. School is hard for her, so it’s good that she’s got these other talents to help plump up the old self esteem. What think ye? What would you do if you were the mama bear?
beach June 28, 2013Posted by susan in 2011.
It can take as long as forty five minutes to get there, to get to our beach, though it’s not all that far away. The hardest part is getting out of town. Once you get there you have to circle for parking most days, and then unload your stuff. We go often enough that our trunk doubles as a colossal beach bag. Each trip involves some decisions–blanket or chairs? sunshade or not? which sand toys? the kite? At this point, I usually think it’s not worth it. Then there’s the schlepping of all of our stuff. where the small one thinks a bucket might be just a little too much for her to carry. At that point, I think even more that it’s clearly not worth it.
But we haul our stuff across the lot, and drag it down the long boardwalk, through the bathhouses, and out onto the sand. We find a place, and set up shop. If we are with W, we set up near the snack bar because he doesn’t like crowds. If we are not, we set up as close to the water as we can, usually close to the bathhouses, because that’s where the kids cluster. Two chairs, and more for guests. A sunshade sometimes, or today, an umbrella. The toys are dumped onto the sand. I can barely get myself situated in my chair before Selam is in the water. She runs to the water, leaping over the line where the tide deposits all the shells. A few goose-steps. “It’s cold!” A few more, and then she dives under the water, her brown head bobbing, slick as an otter in the shallow waves.
She’s back and chattering, singing the song of the waves and the cold and the sand and the potential of sandcastles and cartwheels and sand angels. Every child at the beach is a potential friend. “Hi. Do you want to be my new friend?” They slither in the brown sugar, building castles, digging holes, finding rocks and shells that sparkle under the water, though when dry are merely grey and brown.
There are snacks to eat, special treats for the beach only–swedish fish and vinegar and sea salt chips in the tall cardboard cone. She drinks sports drink in an unnatural shade of blue that turns her tongue azure, and dries green on her chin. The seagulls flitter around, charmed by the chips, singing their plaintive stories.
Bubble wands are held up to the wind, and I always check to be sure that our neighbors are charmed and not annoyed. We may take a trip to the nature center, or not. We may bring out a kite to fly, or not. I may read or just stare into the space where the only thing that separates water from sky are the children in their bright swimsuits.
Time stands still. I never know what time it is. I never care. There are no televisions there, and only rarely does my phone come out. There are no sermons, no jobs, no bosses or bills, no bullies or math facts or DRA tests to distract. There is just wind, just water, just sticky arms and frosted legs, the smell of sunscreen and french fries, the sky wide enough for an unfettered hope.
We leave in time to grab dinner, usually, at the place we love–me for the fish and her for the carousel that twirls sticky girls in circles.
Home and spent, we drag the wet things into the apartment. There is always a bag of rocks and shells, dull and flat in the ziplock bag. “I thought they were pretty!” she cries.
They are, of course. Just add water.
staycating June 28, 2013Posted by susan in 2011.
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Selam finished school on Tuesday, and since we can’t start day camp until next Monday, I took the time off and we’ve been staycating.
The fun actually began last Friday, when Selam went on her first sleepover ever at a friend’s house. She did GREAT. On Saturday, we went to the beach and out for fish with our friends W and his mommy. On Sunday, we went BACK to the same beach and out for fish with our friends L and HER mommy. On Monday, she had school for a half day, and when it got out, we went to the library to stock up. On Tuesday, she had her last half day of school, and when it got out, we went to see Monsters U.
Wednesday, we went to a DIFFERENT beach to meet up with our friend P and his mama. on Thursday, we were supposed to meet W and his mama again, but they cancelled. we ended up just running errands. Then today, back to the beach again (and out for fish), with our friend E. So, in one week, that makes 4 playdates, 4 trips to the beach, 3 trips to the fish place (that has a carousel), 1 movie, and one overnight.
Next week is Girl Scout day camp. the week after that, I have my writing conference, and Selam is going to her grandparents for a week. Then we’re into JCC day camp for 4 weeks of almost normal.
Bullets of a month or so May 11, 2013Posted by susan in 2011.
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Wow, it’s gone way too long. Here’s what’s been up–
- Selam now sleeps in her own bed all night. This is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE. Three and a half years of trying, a few bribery attempts, and finally, she just decided to do it.
- We read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It rocked.
- Selam is SUPER excited about Mother’s Day. She has a secret that her grandparents helped her with, and something from school–a card, I think. She’s very, very excited. She’s going to be making me breakfast in bed, tomorrow, too. Toast and water.
- We made yogurt pops. I love them. Selam likes them okay, but she can definitely tell they are made with greek yogurt, which she doesn’t like. I think I might have to get some regular yogurt for this.
- I had to get tough on TV. She watches it via netflix, and some bigger kid shows had become interesting, shows she’d heard of from classmates. After a week, some new vocabulary started to show up, and I had to say no. We’re back to Arthur and Pinky Dinky Doo. The good news is that she hasn’t been as interested in TV lately, because she’s super psyched about reading! There are some easy books that she’s digging these days because they are chapter books, which is oh-so-grownup.
- The cat officially likes her the best now.
Musing April 22, 2013Posted by susan in 2011.
I’m supposed to be writing something on this prompt:
“Making deals is how we function with other people. ‘If you do this for me, I’ll do this for you in return.’ So it is not surprising for us to try making deals with God. ‘God, if you will spare my husband, I will never take anything for granted again.’”
Got any ideas? I’d like to use something bloggy as scaffolding. But then again, maybe not.
Spent last week with Selam on her spring break.
Also spent it checking the news pages. Nonstop.