Tuesday, July 27, 2010

As fun as cake

I am one post away from the Big 200th Post.  If you are a television show and talking 'episodes', you present a big celebratory cake for the cast and crew, toast champagne, and applaud the major accomplishment. If you are me, you do a review of all of the keywords people used in their online searches that brought them to my blog. Here are my top 25 favorites: 
  1. big wiggly things
  2. butt squished
  3. squished under her butt
  4. squished under my butt
  5. dare to be brave
  6. i know myself but that is all
  7. a boo about a father talks about sons and how he missed out on the small stuff
  8. joan cusack's teeth
  9. braces extremely near sighted
  10. breakfast television packing tips
  11. how munch supplies is needed to build a small home
  12. christmas story that's right, oink oink. show us how the piggies eat
  13. poo head and other names
  14. eaglets feces sticky
  15. it’s kinda funny do you know? love’s an odd thing to feel, the best and the worst i’ve ever known. and it doesn’t make compromises at all. it’s not fair at all, that i have to crave for you and that even the smallest smile drives me insane
  16. indan small boy looking to her anty in bathroom taking the shwer
  17. don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff pink monkey
  18. party like the irish
  19. husband power washer fetal position
  20. squealing lizard
  21. freeeeeedom!!!!!!!!! im single again!!!!
  22. the misery of small boobs
  23. vintage small boobs
  24. how did r2r2 help c3po?
  25. damn piles

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A dig into my past

The other day, I was having lunch with my kids and they were talking about school (they miss it), and I wondered how I was as a student when I was my kid's age.  When I reminisce about the early years of school, my academics aren't first on my mind, instead it's mostly about my friends, the teachers, the fun stuff.  Do I remember how I did in French class?  Not at all.  Language arts?  Umm, nope.  

I dig out my old school reports, which turn out to be a revealing window into my past, full of happy surprises, shock, and questions.  See, my beloved Waldorf school didn't give grades, instead, I got an annual hand-typed report listing every subject and how I did according to the teacher.  

This is the first sentence I read from my first grade report:  "Daria's exemplary behavior, sensitive nature, and diligence made her a great asset to our class."  

Oh yay, this is going to be so much fun!  Aaah, but of course I was a wonderful student that all of my teachers loved! 

I read on that in first grade I was "a good listener" (language arts), "has a rich imagination and an ability to express it" (drawing), "pleasure to watch Daria work" (woodcraft), "participated fully" (French), and many other most excellent remarks.

Only once did I feel a little concerned, but then kind of relieved when I read this: "What at first seemed like shyness is in reality an inner strength which already at this tender age can discriminate against participation or can enforce it, for I found out that Daria has 'a mind of her own'."

A "mind of my own", huh?  That's good, right?  Or was my teacher just forcing the words to sound nice?  I clearly remember that if I didn't like something or the teacher, I would protest, not in a tantrum snotty way, but sort of manner of fact.  Stubborn?  Not!  My young mind of my own had very discerning taste and stayed true to myself, that's all!

Moving on...

Second grade, here we go with the first paragraph:  "...This year, however, one felt, that the opposite of this confidence and at-oneness with the world was also experienced by Daria - much too soon.  A conscious setting one's self apart, a shutting one's self in, and 'I don't care' attitude - all these were painful to behold, for they do not properly belong to this young age.  I suspect a deep lying sadness in Daria, which even at times would surface in a show of attempted cynicism."  

Wow.  How sad.  What in the world was going on with me then?  I'm really not sure.  What is also hard is that I recognize myself in this young child - the setting myself apart (feeling like an outsider), the shutting in (putting up walls and cocooning), being rather cynical (just ask my husband), and sometimes the unexplained sadness and lack of joy. Have I always been this way?

Sure, the rest of the yearly reports produce wonderful insightful remarks which I relish (I had no idea I was so good at math?!), but the negative words mostly during second and third grade stand out like a sore thumb: "talks back in a disrespectful way", "easily frustrated and discouraged", "shows disagreement to almost everything asked of her in Eurythmy", "talks a great deal out of turn", and many more comments that are pretty harsh, even to the point of making my jaw drop in dismay. Ouch.

In all fairness to myself, many of the teachers were old school Waldorf to the extreme who lived 100% under the philosophy that embraced the whole individual, well, as long as they didn't challenge the traditional Steiner methods or beliefs.  Honestly, I thought the scowling Fraulein German teachers were mostly cold and mean. Eurythmy made me giggle because, well, it was weird and way too serious.  Sports was lame - the revolving door coaches never really taught us how to get better, so what was the point?  I had a hard time not expressing my disapproval.

Luckily, I came around and did much better in fourth and fifth grades.  Are my kids anything like how I was described as a child?  Academically, I see plenty of resemblances.  Many of the subjects that they excel in are the same that I loved, too.  I also see a lot of my kid's traits in the positive comments, but not so much in the negative.

What's loud and clear to me, is that my life was vastly different from theirs at that age.  When I was seven, I was profoundly affected by the divorce of my parents, I moved several times, I longed for the elusive affection and attention from my father, no siblings to take out my aggression on, and I was forced to grow up much too quickly.  These life experiences shaped who I was...and who I am today.  There's no blame here (please don't cry mom!), just the honest facts.  After all, I think I turned out okay, for the most part anyway.  I grew up striving for a different life for my kids, just like my mom did for me, and I see so many qualities in my children that I was missing in my youth, like loads of joy and confidence.

Speaking of my sweet kids, they listened intently as a read the best excerpts (both good and bad) from my school reports to my husband.  They just love hearing stories from when I was a kid, and I like them to hear that I wasn't perfect.  About an hour later, I ask them to get on their shoes for a walk to the library.  Talia struts out of her room announcing out loud "I am Talia and I have a mind of my own and I will wear two different socks if I want to".  I couldn't help but giggle.  It is obvious she wants to be just like her mommy.  I'm thinking she deserves an "Excellent" mark for her adorable cuteness.  

Monday, July 19, 2010

Glasses

"Excuse me, but I seem to have misplaced my glasses.  Did you happen to see them anywhere?"

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happymiss school

When it came time to picking a kindergarten for my children, only a single school came to mind: my dream of all dreams was for them to attend the beloved private Waldorf school of my childhood.  Just a few miles away from our home resides the beautiful hilltop campus, full of all that is Waldorf - creativity, nature, nurturing, music, art, wholesomeness, and an abundance of warm fuzzy memories.  I want my sweet deserving children to foster similar memories and experiences, so I put on my rose-colored blinders and dream really big, figuring there must be a way to make the out-of-our-league price-tag for tuition more reasonable and affordable.  I am determined, darnit!

Of course I realize the school is no longer the easy going hippy-crunchy school from the 1970's that generously allowed children of teachers to attend for free (that's how I got to go).  Despite receiving free tuition, I fit in well with children from wealthy families, famous celebrity families, and ultra-hippy families.  That's just how it was then (money didn't matter) and I am lucky for such a gift.  

Now, the school is mostly run by boards and committees and accountants.  But with the basic values still intact, they'd be thrilled at the prospect of a family like ours - an alumni family of a well respected teacher that gets and loves Waldorf.  Right?  They'd bend over backwards to offer financial help so we can afford the huge tuition.  Right?  Good karma, right?  Please pretty please!?

So, ya, umm, that doesn't happen.

Not even close.

And, I sobb.  I boo-hoo tears of utter disappointment of squashed dreams and deep sadness.  I cry and cry and cry and cry and cry.  I am depressed for days.  Totally crushed.  I can barely talk about it without getting emotional.  I am a mess.

Eventually, I pick myself up, shake off the upsetting and humbling experience, and get a grip.  I visit and apply to another much smaller (and when I say "much smaller" I'm not kidding) and newer private Waldorf school more within my relative price range.  Honestly, I'm not all together thrilled (scared to death!) about scraping together every last dollar to pay the tuition and I also notice lots of red flags with the school, but I look the other way, convinced this familiar and comfortable Waldorf education is the best for our family. 

Out of the blue, I remember somewhere in the cobwebs of my almost-forty mind, that about a year or so ago, my mom sent me the link to a website of a public (and free!!) charter school near my house.  I pull up the website.  Humm.  I drive by the school a few times.  Humm.  I take the tour.  Humm.  It's alright for a public school, nice and small, but it's not pretty Waldorfy yummy fairy goodness.  I decide what the heck and apply anyway, knowing full well about the lottery system for the few coveted slots, but happy at least it's an option...what the heck...just in case.

The lottery happens in April, and...we don't get a slot.  Damn.

The summer rolls around and with some (well, many) reservations, we make plans to attend the second choice Waldorf school, reluctantly resolved to make the best of it.

Then I get the phone call that changes everything:  we got two lottery slots at the public charter school due to an additional kindergarten class that was added.  OMG!   No way!  Wow.  We are given one day to decide to accept or not.

This is a difficult decision, after all, we already made up our minds to attend the private school, and now there is another option thrown in the mix.  Hummmmmmmm...

In the end, we realize that these lottery slots will most likely never come up again - once we give up the slots there is no going back. However, we can basically attend the private school at any time.  We decide...to take a huge leap of faith and give the charter school a try.

I have never regretted our decision.  Ever.  Our school is wonderful.  It's like the best of both worlds - free public education with the freedom to teach a progressive whole-child approach integrating art, music, democracy, and a wonderful diversity of students.  I feel like we belong there with our peers, and now many good friends- like a sort of cosmic destiny.
Thank goodness my beloved childhood school of choice didn't offer us much in the way of tuition assistance, making my big dream impossible to afford.  Besides the huge amount of money we saved (I calculated we saved over $265,000 for kindergarten through 8th grade tuition!!!), I can see now that it wasn't best for our family in many many many ways.  Who would've ever guessed I'd go from a sobbing heartbroken mess about losing out on my dream school, to happily thinking that if I was offered two full scholarships from the Waldorf school today, I would turn them down in favor of our little beloved charter school.  This fall, we will be entering our third year at the school, and...I'm still smiling.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lady's night

What's a lady to do on a Saturday night when her children are sleeping over at gramma's house, her sweet husband is out hanging with a friend, and she is blessed with a glorious solo evening of welcomed peace and quiet after a busy and emotional week of struggling to keep the energetic kids entertained and happy while balancing her own personal sanity during the third week of summer break?  Why, take-out yummy spicy sushi rolls from her favorite local sushi restaurant, a tall glass of red wine, and a chick flick in her comfiest jammies, of course!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hamburgerock

My son, Quinn, found this "rock" last time we visited our local beach.  Obviously it's not a natural rock.  My best guess is that it's two bricks with concrete in the middle that tumbled in the ocean for who knows how long, forming this neat and unusual shape.

As far as my kids are concerned, it's a hamburger rock and...it's really really cool.

I think it's special, too, but I can't help but wonder and daydream about where this came from originally.  Was it from a brick wall or walkway somewhere far far away that crumbled into the ocean during a horrible storm?  What kind of amazing story would this hamburgerock tell if it could?  How lucky we are to be the first ones to find and touch such a treasure! 

People line up to buy fancy newfangled gadgets when they hit the stores; items that excite and wow making our lives "easier" and more fun (I always smile at the "flame" app held up during the slow song at concerts - Bic lighters always did get hot after a while).  I am sadly and admittedly way behind the times.  I can't even (gasp!) check email and facebook on my phone!  Ya ya, I know, hang my head low in embarrassment.  But, how many people can say they have a hamburgerock like mine?  Anyone?  Anyone?