Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Picture Blog

Okay, I haven't been around the Internet too much in the last week or so. Life has a way of interfering with the computer, doesn't it? I did finally manage to figure out how to import pix even with Vista which I've heard some people actually like.

Here are some sort of recent pictures.

Mother's Day - I wasn't sure if Philip was expressing love or trying to get me to smell his armpit. In teen boy world, those two things could be related:

This is a sneak picture my kids took when I was talking to them. Later, they used it as a basis to critique my hair. I tried explaining how I didn't have a chance to comb it that morning since no one could find socks, deodorant, or homework papers. They didn't buy it, and last night I drove to a haircut appointment:

Our first bloom in the perennial garden:

Emma's ballet recital:

One of the cats. This is Jade. We will have additional cat news very, very soon:

(and no, Jade isn't pregnant)

A building corner in the East Village of Manhattan that I liked so much, I took a picture of it. Sometimes it's fun to feel like a tourist in a place you've been around all your life:

I took this picture because I liked Emma's sentence: "Mom, come here quick. Dad is going out to walk the dog and he is dressed like a homeless priest." (I should say we've been having a lot of rain) What you don't see here is that he tied this poncho with a spare piece of rope when he couldn't find the belt. Emma is still recovering from her father's anti fashion choice:

I'll be back soon, after I finish final revisions on my newest manuscript finish up all the end of the year parties, concerts, and lunches.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dance Recital Season

On Saturday, my ten year old has her dance recital. I was one of those moms who took her to dance class at the age of three, then sat in the audience and cried when they came out and did an adorably shaky tap dance in the spring. We all cried, the moms, and presented our daughters with bouquets of flowers that were almost bigger than they were. I don't think any of the husbands understood this ritual, but they tolerated it well.

I know this is an area of my marriage that still puzzles my husband: he has no idea why I take her to these classes and then sit there and cry when she dances. I think he might start crying if I ever told him what we pay for these classes and costumes. I have sneaked into dance studios with bills rolled up in my pocket like I'm paying off gambling debt.

This year, Emma did tell me she's thinking of not taking ballet in the fall. The girls who dance, she explained, are snotty, and the teachers play favorites. (Sigh. I was wondering when she would notice that)

I sat through the rehearsal on Sunday, thinking something else: there is a wild obesity problem in kids. I don't watch a lot of tv, but I do read, and I knew about this, but to see the kids in tights and tutus touches you in a way that statistics never can. And the weirdest thing is their parents.

If you have a chubby child, that's one thing. But to put that child in tights and a tiara in front of hundreds of people is an entirely different thing. And the kids move, so the chub bounces around in terribly unappealing ways. I thought something about watching them was making me lightheaded until I realized I was holding my breath until they were done.

I get the dance classes are to help the kid lose weight, but recitals are entirely optional and you have to pay for them. Why do they do it?

And while I was sitting there, I was also thinking there is, on the whole, not a whole lot written about dance and dance classes in YA lit. There's tons of stuff on football and soccer and track, but I can't think of any MG or YA books that talk about the experience of having been involved with dance. Maybe I'm just ignorant on this, but it's a pretty common experience of American girls, and books on it seem far and few between.

Come to think of it, there's not a whole lot on cheerleading either, at least that I can think of. Cheerleading seems to be where a lot of former dance students land (but not my daughter -- her comment was, "Like I would ever cheer for a boy...) But cheerleading is getting huge, at least around here. And since it's uniquely YA territory, I would think titles would spring to mind. Did I miss them?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Field Trips

On Thursday, I chaperoned my daughter's field trip to one of those colonial villages where people walk around dressed like colonists and we carry a list of 156 detailed questions (euphemistically termed "a scavenger hunt") to be answered in one hour and fifty three minutes. Aside from the fact that history always reminds me that I am glad I live in the present, here is what I learned:

1. We do not live in South Jersey like everyone says. If we live in South Jersey, we live in the northern regions of it because Cape May and its ferry are a long bus ride away. It is twice as long on the way home after the purchase of harmonicas, pop guns, and shrill trainstop whistles. I mean, really, did colonists have trains? Wasn't that more around Lincoln's time? I thought they were big on horses.

2.A bus load of ten year olds, a warmly humid day and the odor of warming milk create symptoms of panic in me.

3.Somebody will get freaked out by the muskets, graves, and villages of cobwebs spun in the rafters. Unfortunately, on this trip, it was me. I even started wondering if the people dressed up as printers and book binders weren't reincarnations of old souls. After that thought, I told the kids it was time to break for lunch.

4. Fifth graders function under watchful eyes in much the same manner as prisoners do. They have their own hierarchy of power, a complicated bartering system, and they communicate silently via their DS's.

5. My daughter has no respect for assumed authority. I was standing there in the drizzle, frantically trying to answer the questions on the scavenger hunt when she said to me,"Mom, just put it down. They never check that stuff. They just put it in the recycle bin."

6. There is always one "career" mother on the trip who spends the entire time texting or consulting her Blackberry while her group scatters into the roped off areas and goes to feed the ducks despite all the warning signs NOT to feed them. Their freedom causes mighty dissension in the more attended groups.

7. My daughter and I have totally different perspectives about field trips. On the way back, I kept asking her and her friends questions about what she had learned.

"Moooommmm," she groaned, "we like field trips because we don't have to do any work." Her fellow inmates cheered this statement.

I do wonder if kids learn anything during these pricey excursions. Maybe I just don't see what they are learning, but I do know the most excitement was conjured during our time in the gift shop. (My daughter spent her entire allotment on colonial candy)

I think history is hard to get across; I couldn't abide it in school. I learned history by reading novels set during certain time periods. I still can't think of the Civil War without thinking of Scarlett, Melanie and the red soil of Tara. So how do you teach kids history without force feeding them?