September 2007

There is simply no reasoning with a 3-year old, example given:

M: “Will, why are you biting your nails?”

W: “I had to peel back the skin so that… so that… the caterpillar wouldn’t know that I’m in The Incredible Movie.”

M: (repeating) “Help me understand you. You are biting your nails so that a caterpillar wouldn’t know you are in The Incredibles movie?”

W: “No. Uh-huh. I peeled back the skin so that I could be super-fast!”

M: “Hold that thought. I need a piece of a paper to write this down.”

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Halloween Preview

Trying on their costumes directly over their pajamas.
Will: Peter Pan.

Kate: Tinker Bell.

Me & Paul: Wendy and Captain Hook. Paul and I probably won’t be in costume until Mardi Gras (we’ll hit the post-Halloween sales for costumes.) Will says I’ll have to be “tied to a pole” if I’m Wendy… something Paul finds particularly funny.

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Recruitment? Not quite.

From the website of Ben Ford, President of the Linux Users Group, Washington State University, on how to attract more women into their organization and ultimately into the field of computer science — by auctioning themselves off for “sorority girls” to “have their way with them”:

“The problem is that we’re all still nerds. Let’s face it, guys. If anyone’s going to bid on us, we’ll need some spicing up. And who better to help with that than sorority girls who like nothing better than a makeover?”

No. The problem is that you’re an idiot*. You know what might make women more interested in being around guys in the Linux Users Group? If the members understand women as intelligent equals with more to contribute than makeovers.

Is the idea that if the male dating pool in the computer science department is more attractive, more women will want to switch to that field? Is telling the world that they think sorority girls are so terribly inept that they can’t “fix their computers” or do “their stats homework” somehow going to make women come en masse to computer science mixers? (Ben offers this for examples of what the self-proclaimed nerds can do for “sorority girls.”)

No. The most likely scenario is that computer science majors at Washington State need a few classes in women’s studies.

And for the record, my brilliant math and computer science degree-holding husband couldn’t help me with my stats past day two of classes my first term. Logistically regress that, guys.

*”Yes, this is incredibly stereotypical and insensitive of me. But it’s funny. Don’t be offended.” How’dya like them apples?

Issues

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Maybe when he’s 16 I won’t care?

How long before he doesn’t want to sing a bedtime song?
How long before he doesn’t want a story?
How long before he doesn’t beg for cuddles, refuses my kisses, and pulls back from my hugs?

How long before those clear blue eyes deepen into a person who slips out of my life and into his own?

—-

Will was thrilled with tonight’s post-dinner activities, which included art projects and baking. Because it was quick and easy, I chose this recipe:

CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. salad oil
1 1/2 c. Gold Medal flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. (more or less) chocolate chips
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease bottoms of 12 medium muffin cups. Beat egg; stir in milk and oil. Mix in remaining ingredients just until flour is moistened. Batter should be lumpy.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan.

Nothing particularly revolutionary about it, but Will was thrilled. THRILLED. Watched them brown and rise through the oven door with the attentiveness of a child looking for Santa to come down the chimney.

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Children will listen

Recent Will-isms, inspired (unwittingly) by his parents:

“Mommy, if you don’t stay and cuddle with me, my head will explode.”

“I want to play my guitar like a ROCKET STAR!”

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Botch-a me, I botch-a you, and ev’rything goes crazy

The scene: me reading a bedtime story to Will, us lying together on his bed. Paul enters with Kate, who is hanging upside in his arms and shouting “MAMA” and something that sounds a lot like “COWABUNGA” over and over again. He puts Kate down on the bed, where she throws herself on top of me in a loud grunt.

“Someone demanded YOU,” he explains. I understand his position. Who is he to argue with her? He is mortal, after all.

Meanwhile, Kate has grabbed my shirt, pulled it up, and planted The Mother of All Zerbers directly on my belly. She looks up at us all and laughs.

I turn to Will. “Will, I think Daddy needs to finish your story. It seems Baby Kate needs me for a few minutes.”

Will (in a voice of experience): “I know. Because Katey is a Wild Animal.”

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Something familiar, Something peculiar

Will got dressed up on some of his new duds on Saturday to attend the Mobile Symphony with my parents for the First Time Ever. My Dad is into attending the Symphony the way some men are into, say, football. Everything is scheduled around the performance dates and a certain play can send him levitating*. My parents got the tickets to take Will months ago — I stayed home with Baby Kate.
This weekend’s performance of Disney Pops was especially geared for youngsters. The whole way to Mobile on Friday, we listened to favorite tunes (including ones that we regularly sing) and discussed which ones might be played by the orchestra. Will was SO EXCITED that on Saturday, he spoke of NOTHING ELSE but going to the Symphony. Although we did plenty Saturday morning to tire him out (visit to the Exploreum, lunch out with my Dad) his excitement spilled into naptime and The Little Man was unable to bring himself to go to sleep. (This is a big deal: remember, Will is Abeona’s champion napper!)
According to my parents, Will chattered on about the Symphony the WHOLE WAY there. Upon arrival, in their words, he was “the perfect child.” By all accounts, he loved it. The guest conductor was straight from Disney and arrived with a collection of other professional Disney-folk to spice things up. A large screen hung over the stage showing clips from movies that reflected the music. When the orchestra played “Feed the Birds,” Will perked up and announced that he knew all the words (like Walt Disney himself, the song is one of my very favorites and we sing it at bedtime each night). At intermission, Will went down to the patrons reception room, where supporters of the Symphony are invited for treats during performances. Will especially liked this part because it involved eating a lot of brownies with my Dad.
The second act had the big numbers… Under the Sea, Be Our Guest, and then the Finale: PIRATES (professional Disney actors) soaring in on ropes, landing on the stage, and having a huge sword-fight all over the stage to the Pirates of the Caribbean movie music. Can you imagine Will’s face?!? Whoa.

Imagine instead what it looked like when he found out about it the next morning. He fell asleep at some point (perhaps during Be Our Guest?) and was GONE. My parents tried all they could to wake him to see the pirates (can you picture their desperation?) but The Little Man was CHECKED OUT. Yo-ho-ho.
No matter. Will tells us that “his boy” LOVED that part of the Symphony. So it’s all good. Will can’t wait to go back for more.


*For the next performance (Halloween Pops) pieces include: Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King, The Imperial March (from Star Wars), the Spiderman theme, Funeral March of Marionette (Alfred Hitchcock theme), and music from the Harry Potter films (along with some other very popular pieces that I can’t quite remember at the moment). I think Dad really did float up for a few seconds when he read the program.

Travel

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’round and ’round in the Circle Game

Abeona held an Open House last Wednesday evening, showcases many of the ongoing projects the kids’ are creating and welcoming old and new friends, teachers, and community members into the school. The school looked fantastic. It is sometimes difficult to see all of the projects and activities occurring during daily pick-ups and drop-offs — this was a great opportunity to really examine how the kids are exploring their world and see the kind of things they create to understand it.Earlier in the week, I chaperoned on a walking trip to the library (where the kids got their very own cards and checked out their own books), and took the opportunity to take “standards” of each child and get a class picture. The teachers hung the pictures in the school’s main hallway to show our “Abeona family” — it was a great display. I loved that the walls of each room were filled with documentation: stories, songs, conversations, projects, and pictures. The space reflected how the kids were encouraged to create expressively and freely. A somewhat related aside. During the few days I spent in Mobile, I took the kids to the Gulf Coast Exploreum. We happened to be playing in The Wharf as a local Mom’s group gathered. Everyone was very nice and we joined the fray, all the kids playing nicely together. After a little while, a staff member read a story about dinosaurs and gave the kids supplies to make dinosaur shapes by painting on foam cut-outs. It was a great project and the older kids were eager to dive in. I sat back and watched Will accept his piece of paper, select a dinosaur, can of paint, and brush and get to work. Although I stayed nearby (mostly guarding the rest of the kids from Kate, who was exploring the area), I didn’t intervene in Will’s project. I was the only parent who didn’t. Further, the other parents were completely directive of their child’s projects: guiding their hands as they painted, showing them where to put the dinosaur so that each press was spread along the paper, helping them push each side of the foam neatly and evenly. I thought, What kind of fun is that? Will was among the younger in the group but he handled it all just fine. I wondered that if I weren’t constantly confronted with evidence of my child’s ability to create on his own, would I hover so? (Honest answer: without a doubt, yes.) Not to be hard on the Moms (I’m sure to some degree they were worried of the kids making messes in public) — but maybe we Moms need a course in how to incorporate Reggio methods at home. I think that sometimes Moms need some help knowing how to help our kids be kids — and get tips from the professionals on how to make it easy from start to clean-up.

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Thoughts on the passing of Marceau…

One of the highlight performances of my life was having the pleasure of seeing Marcel Marceau first as himself giving a moving speech about his life, and then as Bip, giving a tribute performance which included vignettes from some of his most famous pieces. For several years through middle and high school, I participated in a summer arts program where classes included working with a professional Mime. Our teacher had studied with Marceau — she took us through rigorous conditioning exercises and precise body isolation movements. We learned of body alignment, symmetry, and gain perspective on how to present the body as a form. Over the three summers I participated in her courses, I gained deep appreciation for the art of mime and a sense of what makes it a unique and culturally valuable form of art. Telling a story without words, grounded to the earth (as opposed to dance) is something that has been done for centuries. Clowns mimic and play to an audience; mimes can be both literal and abstract, telling a story or generating an emotional response through reflections on a serious or topical issue.

The recent “mimes freak me out” craze I think reflects the fact that many street mimes are simply not very good, rather than commentary of the art in itself. When people say “mimes scare me,” I sometimes must agree, with the caveat that I actually love the art. (As an aside, the art of miming didn’t really take off as commedia del’ arte until two characters — Zanni alone had a reputation more for clowning than for serious performance. It may suggest that as an impromptu art, more than one performer is necessary. To solo mimes: either be REALLY good, or run the risk of coming off as creepy.)

Years later, during college, I participated in Antonio Fava‘s Commedia del’ Arte school in Reggio Nell’ Emilia, Italy. (Yup, that’s the same town that started the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education used at Abeona and where I was first introduced to it.) Antonio and his family were wonderful. The school was an incredible experience: intense (work 6 days a week with public showings began the second night of training and continued every other night following), interesting (learning the history of the art), and stimulating (seeing contemporary examples of how commedia reflects and responds to current political and social issues). Supporting this kind of art was why I studied it in the first place. Learning in that environment was humbling and gratifying.*

Recently, I’ve exchanged emails with Antonio and Dina — she provided a personal contact for the Reggio schools and we have been brainstorming possibilities for Antonio to visit the NOLA area on his next book tour. It would be wonderful if this could pan out: the kids would love it. And I would love to help inspire and educate our next generation about the beauty of telling a story without words.


*Although one might see my professional and personal journey through the arts to counseling to social justice and health as a winding road with no reason, I maintain that has been enriching and fulfilling, providing a broad and valuable foundation in all of my academic endeavors. A host of examples available. Particularly for parents (like my own) who first refused and then worried about sending their kids to college for a liberal arts degree.

Issues

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Back off, Plagiarizers!

Thanks to the talents of my wonderful sister-in-law, I now have these beautiful buttons! I stuck the first one up in the right column but can’t remember how to alter the HTML to center in the column (will research later). Thanks, Emily! These are great!


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