Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I try to be a good parent. I strive to support my kids' academic endeavors.  But sometimes, honestly, I wonder what the h**l those teachers are thinking.

What, for example, is the educational purpose of the diorama? Sure, we've all made one, but what does it prove you've learned?  You remember one scene from the book?  I tried doing a search on the internet, certain there were all sorts of academic sites praising the wonders of the diorama on the young mind, but I came up with nothing.  There are however, many many sites on how to make a diorama.  Really?!  Construction paper scenes in a shoebox is not exactly rocket science.  My daughter learned how to make a Powerpoint presentation in 3rd grade--why in sixth grade are they still asking her to glue stuff into a cardboard box?  And how many shoes does the school think I own that I have an endless supply of these boxes the night before the project is due?

Speaking of ridiculous requests from the schools, why do they think I have brown paper bags for my kids to cover their school books?  Who has paper bags anymore?  My son informed me he needed a book covered (of course for the next day) and the only paper bags I had were from the liquor store.  A bag from a fifth of tequila will not cover a text book. (And nor should it.)

I may not be a model parent.  I have been known to tell my kids they will never again have use for the algebra they're struggling to learn, and I once sent a kid to school doped up on children's Tylenol when they had a (slight) fever so I  could go to the gym.  The way I figure it, all the inconsequential stuff the school asks them to do is good training for real life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How I Got Here: Lent

How I Got Here: Lent: "I have been without Facebook for over a week now. In a fit of residual Catholic guilt, I gave it up for Lent. Only nine days into..."

How I Got Here: I'm with the Band

How I Got Here: I'm with the Band: "Today I went to a middle school basketball game. I got there late so I only saw the last 4 minutes of the 8th grade girls' game and on..."

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I have been without Facebook for over a week now.  In a fit of residual Catholic guilt, I gave it up for Lent. Only nine days into it and I'm beginning to repent.  Oh, what would Jesus do?

If Jesus had a Facebook account, I bet he'd have a lot of friends.  But would he have time to keep his status up to date, what with all the miracles and stuff?  "What a day! Healed a blind man and then walked on water. LOL."  Yeah, I don't think Jesus would say LOL.

I wonder if my 2nd grade teacher, Sister Judith, is on Facebook? (And would it be under "Sister Judith?")  She always had a way of sneaking up on you when you were goofing off and then get you with the vulcan death grip.  (I must say, it wasn't very Christian of her.)  Uh oh, I wonder if she's reading this right now?!  Sorry, Sister!  I'll do ten Hail Marys...

Is giving up Facebook making me a better Catholic?  I mean, if I was still a practicing Catholic?  (And if you "practice" being a Catholic, do you get better at it?)  While I definitely miss my daily forays into the silly land of Facebook, it seems there is too much real suffering in the world for these forty days to much affect my spiritual psyche.  But with all the natural disasters and political revolutions, it is nice to escape into a world where people LOL.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'm with the Band

Today I went to a middle school basketball game.  I got there late so I only saw the last 4 minutes of the 8th grade girls' game and only stayed for the first quarter of the 7th grade game.  Though I cheered them on just as loudly as the other parents, I wasn't really there to see the game.  I'd come to see the band--the Lakewood Middle School Pep Band.

When my older daughter first decided she wanted to join band, I was supportive and encouraging.  I'd never played a musical instrument myself (unless you count the blade of grass made into a whistle), but I'm always happy when my kids try new things.  She told us that the kids in band were cool.  Poor kid--she'd been in an advanced class since 2nd grade and all the smart kids in her class joined band.  She thought they were cool.  While part of me didn't want to knock these talented kids, I couldn't let her walk into her first day of middle school and be blindsided by the ways of the tweens.  I felt it my obligation as a parent to let her know not everyone in 6th grade was going to be impressed by her clarinet skills.  A great hook shot, maybe; being able to hit high C, probably not.

So I went to the game today to hear my daughter play.  I have to admit they were pretty good.  They've all come a long way since that first 5th grade band concert, with all the squeaks and squawks coming out of those shiny new instruments.  And while her musical skills may not guarantee her popularity, she was there with some very nice, decidedly un-geeky girls, all wearing their Pep Band t-shirts with a pony tail holder making it snug in the back. She smiled and laughed with her friends during breaks and played her clarinet-heart out during the songs.  I was not only very proud, but happy that she'd found this niche that fit her so well. 

What I want to know is would she be terribly embarrassed if I showed up at the next event with a shirt that says "I'm with the (Pep) Band"?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How Did I Get Here? And Where Was I Going??

Some days I'll be driving down the road and realize I'm not sure where I'm going.  Blame it on my mushy middle-aged mind, juggling three kids (not literally--they're all too heavy for that now) and all their activities, or the fact that my mini van doesn't have a GPS system.  Usually it's just a moments hesitation and then I'm back on track. Some days there's a u-turn involved (what I like to call the scenic route).  It takes a little longer, but I eventually get where I'm going.

Then there are days, especially after getting back in touch with an old friend who is in some far flung part of the world, when  it seems odd that they ended up there and I ended up here.  Maybe I should have taken a different route and traveled to some far away land.  Then I really do wonder "How did I get here?"

"Here" is the United States, where for all it's many failings, a child can really become anything they want.  A girl can be an astronaut, a boy can be a ballet dancer, and a mixed race child raised by a single mother can become president.  My great grandparents came to this country looking for a better life.  It seems that is the defining characteristic that binds the American people, no matter what their skin color or religion--adventurous, fearless people always looking for something better.  This is where I am.

"Here" is the Washington state, where it really does rain quite a lot.  Unless you live in the eastern half of the state, and then you're either too hot or buried in snow, wondering what happened to all the trees.  But my Washington is wet and mild.  It's  green most of the year and moss is the state plant.  The people are intelligent and laid back, lots of Scandanavian descendants.  We allow other nationalities, too, but we require them to learn the local language:  "Uff da" and "Ya sure, ya betcha."  My great grandparents came here from Norway and felt at home.  This is where I am.

"Here" is the Marysville/Arlington/Stanwood area.  Sometimes we're North Lakewood, sometimes Lake Goodwin, sometimes Seven Lakes.  It all depends on who you talk to .  To the locals "here" is Lakewood, a community defined by the school district boundary and the numerous lakes (Let's see:  Goodwin, Loma, Shoecraft, Ki...It's kind of like the seven dwarfs, I can never remember them all...Sleepy, Dopey and Doc?)  Our kids go to one of the three small elementary schools that are within spitting distance of each other.  (Okay, you'd have to be a pretty good spitter, but with a decent wind and proper hydration...)  Then they move next door to the middle school and then across the baseball field to the high school.  Many are proud to call themselves "Lakewood Lifers," people who have gone to these schools since kindergarten.  You do not need six degrees of separation to link anyone here--one or two will do.  This community is small but inclusive; me and my Southwest Washington ways were welcomed without hesitation.  I know my neighbors, my UPS driver, and the parents of my kids' friends.  Many of them went to school together.  We chose this place to be my home and this community to help us raise our kids. This is where I am.

"Here" is a 4 bedroom house, with a backyard big enough for a trampoline, an above ground pool and more weeds than we could ever pull in a lifetime.  I live here with my husband of 17 years, our 3 kids, and 2 dogs.  The mortgage may never be paid in full, the outside needs a paint job, and all of the light switches are always sticky.  Controlled chaos is the law of the land here, and while I may not rule with a iron fist (or a Tiger Mother discipline), the occupants of this place humor me.  I am loved 80% of the time, hated 5%, and ignored the rest.  This is where I am.

I still don't know how I got here, and I'm not sure I ever really knew where I was going, but here is a pretty good spot.