Friday, March 20, 2009

I Can Be An Author

It was my annual Gig Day at PQ Elementary School again today! The song this year is entitled "I Can Be An Author" and the inspiration for it was a Unit in Julie's 3rd Grade class devoted to learning how to structure and tell a story.

Her teachers Mrs. Grossman and Ms. Uslianer worked with the students on creating a "beginning, middle and end" to each story, being mindful of "punctuation" and "word choice", and practicing "dialog" and "fluency".

A few weekds ago the students had a chance to present their story to all the parents and I was amazed at how well they all did. So I decided to make that subject of my song this year and wrapped it all up into a little song and presented it today. Best part was Ms. Uslianer cried!

Here is the fully mixed MP3 with background tracks....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Julie's story....

So tonight julie presented a story to us that she had developed in her 3rdgrade class. Each kid in class got to read their story front of the class and their parents. Julie wrote this great story about flying a kite with her cousins Enma and Ellie and how they took turns flying the kite and then crashing it and working together to untangle it. There were visual descriptions of the scene and detailed dialog. All in the name of learning to become "writers". It was sweet and I took a picture. As a writer myself I couldn't have been prouder. And I told her that when I kissed her goodnight!

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Deck the Halls

Barely have we digested Thanksgiving dinner when the boxes in the basement are opened. I live for this. Except for the lights. I hate the lights. This year every strand blew out and every tree and garland that was pre-wired had to be undone and redone. But once we're past that nonsense I live for this, really. Fire up the holiday music and let's get to it. Julie's in her element. "We got a lot of work to do today, Mom!"

Big year for AJ. 5 is such a great age. It started with Halloween when the concept of trick-or-treating really clicked in and you could see the lightbulb going off in his head. Candy? At every house? Just ring the doorbell? They're giving it away? Cool!!

And now this year he and Julie decorated the playroom tree all by themselves and AJ was all, "I can do it! I can hang it! Need more hooks, Mom! No, let me, don't help, I want it right here..." In the end it was just the classic picture of a tree decorated from the middle down and the whole top is bare where they can't reach.

Each of them has a little tree in their room and AJ was very particular about his. I mean picky! The boat goes here. No here. Try it over there. No point it the other way. It's not straight. At one point he looked at me and said, "It has to look good, Mom! I want it to look nice!" Gee, wonder where he got that from....

The living room tree has all the Gladys Boalt ornaments. My mother-in-law has been giving them to me every year for 15 years now, and started a collection for each grandchild. AJ is collecting the Peter Pan series; I have the Nutcracker series; Julie was doing Alice in Wonderland for a while but then wanted Nutcracker ones too.

Tomorrow starts the Advent calendar. The kids take turns opening the day's door and there's a small gift or treat all through December, and then Santa brings just one big gift. The calendar boxes don't hold anything bigger than a jellybean so I put in notes with a clue to where something is hidden - Julie loves that part and she's at an age where you can be more cryptic with the clues or write the note in code that she has to figure out. Some nights it's a toy, others it's candy, sometimes the note will just read "fall asleep in Mommy's bed" or "let's go to Coldstone Creamery" or "bowling night". We've been collecting money all fall for charity so one of the nights we'll decide how we're going to spend it and do that together.

It just makes it all last longer. The days go by so fast. I mean, what the hell happened to November? It was like a three-week month. And watching the weekends rapidly fill up in December, it's crazy. So I like giving a little treat every night rather than one gigantic rave on the 25th.

I'm going now to load Christmas music on my iPod. To all a good night.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm going home with a what?!

Friends of ours have a month-old baby and regularly post pictures to their website. JP and I were looking at them last night and among them was that classic picture of mom and dad leaving the hospital with the newborn in the carseat.

Remember that?

This is a universal moment of new parenthood which only happens with your first child. You remember it. You dressed the baby, which took half an hour. You put the baby in the carseat, which took another half hour. You signed miscellaneous papers and got your shit together and made your way down to the lobby. All the while thinking:

They're not really letting us go home with a newborn, are they?

But maybe some nurses accompanied you down, and they smiled and cooed and waved. And you smiled and cooed and waved back, all the while thinking there was no WAY they were REALLY going to let you leave....with a newborn baby. You were sure that the minute you put a toe outside the automatic sliding doors, a cacophony of security alarms would sound and a steel cage would slam down, trapping you within. The nurses would release the cage in hysterics, high-fiving each other in the glee of having caught another sucker. Then you'd be off for vigorous training and certification before you'd be allowed to take custody again.

But no, they let you go home. With a baby.

And you drove home at 20 mph, frequently checking the rearview mirror, or probably one of you rode in the backseat, who are we kidding. And you arrived home and brought in your precious bundle in the carseat (thinking damn this thing is heavy and klutzy).

And you looked at your spouse. And looked at the baby. And looked at your house. And you said:

"So now what?"

I remember saying "I guess I'll go upstairs and unpack." And then I looked down and picked up the carseat with Julie and added, "And I guess I'll take you with me..."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In Case of Emergency: Add Water

AJ was pitching a fit tonight about dessert. Or lack thereof. Whatever. You ever just reach the limit? The well of patience is dry? The tank of tolerance is empty? The needle on the Give-a-Fuckometer barely moving?

I walked by where he was sprawled on the stairs, with, it so happens, my bottle of water in hand (still feeling the effects of last night's one tied on with Ilyse). I made a last polite request for him to go get into pajamas and brush teeth. He gave me a double-lungful of grief.

So I dumped the bottle out onto his head.

Wow, was he mad. He howled, "Hey that's not
nice!!" I didn't say anything because I was biting the inside of my cheek hard to keep from laughing. But hey, he got up off the stairs and got moving and a minute later he was laughing through the tears and in another minute it was all laughing. And he brushed his teeth and I told him to get three books and meet me in my bed, and he got three books and met me in my bed and we read and he's asleep up there now. So all's well.

But tell me I suck?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

All I Want for Christmas

"So I've been thinking about what to ask Santa Claus for," says Julie as I'm washing her hair.

"Let's hear it."

"Well, I want a Calico Critters house," is her opening bid ($99). "And a bedroom set for Julie." Julie being Julie Allbright, her American Girl doll ($118). "And some pajamas for her ($22) and the matching ones for me." ($40) "Oh, and I really want an iPod!" (Whew, done deal, she's getting mine when Santa Hubby brings me an iPhone)

"What else?" I ask.

"Well, I have some questions. Y'know. Things I want to know..."

"Like?" I prompt

"Well, just if he could tell me if Heaven is real. And what it's like. And if I get to be a mermaid. But mostly what it's like and if I'll go there because then if I know, I won't be so scared."

"Ah," says I, "those are excellent questions." I'm just trying to actively listen, not take over the conversation and see where she's going with this.

"Oh, and if he can tell me what happened to Mr. Bierman, I really want to know." This is my great-grandfather who abandoned the family and was ne'er heard from again so that branch of the family tree just ends cold. Julie is very bothered by this.

"So do I," I said, "I don't know why I never thought of asking Santa, I wonder if he knows..."

"He knows everything. Oh and one more thing, I want to ask him to let me fly."

"Fly? You mean in an airplane?"

"No. Fly. For real. In the sky. It's my dream. I want to ask him if he'll let me, Emma and Ellie fly when they come visit us."

"...Rinse off, now," I say, and close the shower door so I can just sit down on the bathmat and think all this through. JP and I always leave a note from Santa on the dining room table, next to the plate of cookie crumbs and half-drunk glass of milk. I'm blogging this half to preserve the moment and half to take notes on what Santa needs to cover in his yearly missive.

By the way, AJ wants a snowmobile for Christmas.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sassy Girls

For a few days Julie has been very occupied in the evenings with a notebook, pens and colored pencils. "What are you up to?" I asked, "You're so quiet!"

"I'm writing a story," she said, with the please don't disturb the creative process air of a true, engrossed artist.

And tonight she unveiled her masterpiece. I nearly fell off my chair. And I know this is partly the doing of her two incredible teachers, Mrs. G and Mrs. U. People told me they would light a fire under the kids in terms of reading and writing. I had an idea but I had no idea....