The Best Day of Summer

Yesterday was the best day of summer vacation. I realize it’s only day four, but I think it might be as good as it’s gonna get.  For me as a parent, that is.

There was no swimming. No picnic. No sunshine. No flip-flops involved. I shoe-shopped with my children, I took them out to lunch, we grocery-shopped. I divided our grocery list into three categories (dairy, produce, other) and we each took a basket and met back at check-out lane two to see how we fared; it was fun and a brilliant parenting moment!

And then, after we got home, I suggested they help me with my photo project from the basement.  And seriously, they were SO into it. I took photos from the past twenty years in six bins and put them on the dining room table with about six empty albums and basically let them do their own thing.  They each took a photo album and put pictures of themselves in it; some w/Mom or Dad or Grandpa or Grandmother. Katie even suggested that when she’s older she might like to see herself as a “bink”.  The hours went by. They were busy. They were helping me and not realizing it. No obnoxious meddling in each others space.

By the end of the evening, they had amassed the evidence which unequivocally points to them being loved by their parents.  They felt all warm and fuzzy.

Brilliant x 2.

It can, and will, all go to shit from here. But yesterday was a great day.

The Possibility of Work

It’s back. The possibility. The possibilities.

I’ve thought long and hard about this one.

People try to dissuade me from pursuing this. And yet.

Today, after using my small but growing network, I sent an email with my resume attached to pursue the possibility of part time work with mywebgrocer.com.  My contacts gave me the name of who to write. I did. Today. Before lunch. By 2pm, my phone had wrung. I was just about to take a nap. I was surprised. And yet I wasn’t.

That’s why I had to be sure I wanted to pursue this. I felt there was a good chance I’d get a call. Not just because I had help getting my foot in the door, but becuase I’m well qualified.

So, I talked with the lovely woman from HR who had been directed to follow up by the EVP I had written.  I was a little dismayed to talk to HR and not someone deeper in the organization, but it does show the company has a process and it likely works with efficiency. I like that.

I admit I’m a bit rusty discussing my career from 6 years ago. All in all, I think I did well. I was myself. I was candid.  She will talk with the operations department and see if they want to follow-up some more.

I now am left wondering about the possibility of work. It will mean utter chaos at home. It will mean childcare coverage in the summer. It will also mean a new world of work will open to me. And despite that everyone says I should’t , I really really want to work.

It’s nice to ski during the day, but I don’t do it much. It’s nice to walk outdoors and I would very much miss that. But I feel like I’m ready to try fitting both into my life.

Fingers crossed to learn more and maybe go meet these folks in person.

Am I about to shake up everyone’s life? Let’s hope so!

School vs. Parent

I went to a meeting last week held by the principals of the three schools that comprise the district’s K-5 education system.  Several notes went home about it.  The topic was albeit dry and vague…something about the new student-led conferences.  The meeting was in the evening, 6:30P, with child care provided.  I was fortunate to not have to bring my children.

There might have been 15 parents representing the three schools in attendance.  There were a grand total of three including myself from my children’s elementary school.

I appreciate the school system making the time to prepare these meetings and the effort to communicate.  I do. Really.

But after absorbing the content and the parent feedback and the administration response, I begin to wonder why I bother attending, and have more insight into why fewer parents attend.

It seems the administration is dropping the 2nd of two parent-teacher conferences and replacing them with a “student-led” conference”.  This is supposed to reap huge rewards for children: they will develop greater pride in their work, take ownership over their performance and enhance communication skills as they prepare and deliver their presentations…to…their…parents?  Ok. Ok.  I can see some value in this.  But for me and just about every concerned parent in the room, our kids are already telling us how they’re doing in school and telling us how the test went and showing us the marks on their homework assignments.   And now the teachers are going to take time from “teaching” to guide them through how to assess and present their conference material to their parents.

AYYGHH.

Overwhelmingly, the feedback from this group went the lines of “this is all well and good, but don’t take away my highly valuable one-on-one meeting with the teacher!”  And the administration says, “try it and give us your feedback afterwards”.  Oh and they added “you can still arrange a one-on-one meeting with your teacher afterward”.

So, the way this is going to go is this: teachers will prepare our K-5 children to prepare their message to their parents <sigh>, parents attend a meeting with their child in one corner of the room where three other families occupy respective corners, the teacher floats by, and thirty minutes later, after seeing my child’s work, I  can give written feedback before leaving.  Oh, and the kids only attend school a half day that day.

Should the parents want to speak to the teacher privately, the onus is on them.  As if last week’s meeting was not enough evidence that getting parents out to meetings is nearly impossible.

After all the schools have completed this process, the administration will review the data and declare that the new SLC were an overwhelming success, after all, only about 3-5 families/school had any strong negative feedback.  Year two, fewer families offer feedback. Year three, most families forget there ever was another system.  And voila, we have another successful district-wide implementation of a program directed at supporting the weaker performing children — the ones whose parents are not as available to talk to their kids and see the random papers in their backpacks.

Now that I’ve been apart of this process, I really feel a little duped.  I feel like the system is going this route. Just because the only outspoken families in the school won’t amount to a majority, this is a done deal.

I really want to be positive, but I don’t like the feeling that the writing is on the wall.

The Asolutely SCARIEST part of all this, is that after I distilled all this, my reaction was “Maybe I should run for an open school board position!

Recycling Art & The Little Bits of Everything

I used to be a saver. Ok, I still save some things. I have buried deep in the basement letters from my tween years through my courting days with my husband.  And some stuff I inherited from now deceased relatives which was already neatly packed in their house and I just moved it into mine intact.  But since having kids, I am constantly trying to throw things out.  Sometimes I have to be sneaky about it.

Recently, I stumbled upon my old business cards.  Now these would have moved here in their box from the office desk to the moving box to the home desk drawer without thinking.  Yesterday, while in a lather looking for tax documents, I found them and immediately pitched them. I didn’t really even think twice about it.  I did note that I was glad it didn’t bother me to toss them and did think that I could save them for my kids to play with, but I knew if I saved them, I would find them all over the house used in any wide range of new ways.  Today, Russ put them in the recycling bin as a part of our regular Saturday “trash roundup”.

Now my children love to save and create stuff. It really starts in preschool where they make any wide range of “recycling art” and it comes home for Mama to admire their trash creations of the day.  In elementary school it continues. The kindergarten teacher requests parents to bring in small recycling objects.  My youngest, Katie, is so well behaved that while each child has only one official day at the “creation station” she gets to go almost every day.  The result of course is that I am greeted by someone’s trash repurposed as art at least three days a week.

Don’t get me wrong. I really do appreciate the creative exercise my children get from this. And I love that they get to play and be imaginative without it costing more than my annual costco purchase of scotch tape.    What I do mind is how these recycling art projects result in little bits of everything everywhere.  There are typically two results of all this creativity:

Situation #1:  “Mom, I “gave” you that! You can’t throw it away!” Ah yes, so what am I to do with this “parking garage” constructed of someone’s d’animals yogurt container (not recyclable, btw), a coffee filter (clean), a toothpaste box (mine that I had donated now returned to me), and random small pieces of string.  So, I save it. I display it for as long as I can tolerate.  About four days.  Then it disappears.

Situation #2:  “Mom, I’m still using that!” The “creations” that are not gifted are co-opted into play.  So, the d’animals container (YUCK, btw) taped to a cereal box with mini-champagne flutes (like from a party favor) become part of a game with stuffed animals.  Now, the trash project, is in my family room with the animals, the blocks and the car garage (made of recyled boxes).  Or the bedroom walls are decorated with their “art”.

Today  my children have been playing so nicely together.  I love it when they are in that good groove where they play imaginative games.  They started with matchbox cars before I awoke and then took it outside and then came back in with a handful of recycling from the bins in the garage.

What did they come in with? My business cards!  They are now being used as “credit cards” for their game of shopping.  Strewn across the breakfast bar is all the cardboard contents of my recycling bin, tape, scissors, and my business cards.  The really great news is that I no longer have any emotional attachment to those cards, so at least I don’t have an emotional response to them. It’s all the same clutter to me.

I haven’t been up in their bedrooms yet, but I can almost guarantee you there are at least 2 cartons of eggs in at least 4 pieces.  The business cards might be up there too.  I think I’ll go check!

Alas…

Why?

I started a blog earlier this year entitled “Tales of a Flatlander” about my experiences living in Vermont as a southern ex-pat.  I’ve so enjoyed writing that blog I decided to start another, in part because I found many of my posts were drifting toward life as a mother and the challenges and humor associated with parenting and I didn’t want them to dilute the focus of my other blog.

So today is day one of Are We There Yet?  I figure the title covers the familiar refrain of children worldwide as they travel with family to one place or another.  For my family, we travel enough that they don’t often ask that question, however, as parents, we often wonder if we are there yet, where “there” is either the next phase in our child’s development or the next phase in our adult life as parents.

I often write of our life as a great adventure.  Parenting is the greatest adventure of all. Where yesterday is no particular indicator of today and today cannot accurately predict where tomorrow will go.

Together, we can travel on this journey and decide “are we there yet?” at each turn!