It was a typical Friday night. I pulled up to the store parking lot to meet the bus from the school for blind, gather Amigo and his bags, and head home.
As he got in the car, he was full of excitement. "Mom, did you hear what's happening in Madison?" He continued talking, telling how he'd been learning about how the legislature works, what a quorum is and why it's important, and a lot about the process of writing and passing a law.
Then he dropped the bombshell.
"Mom, I wish I could go to Madison tomorrow for the demonstration."
I offered, "How about downtown on the plaza tomorrow afternoon?"
Amigo responded with an enthusiastic "Yeah!!"
So we made a sign for Amigo, I wore red to support my colleagues, and La Petite charged her camera to document the event. Here's the rest of the story. The top photo shows my neighbors, both retired high school teachers, great people and great teachers. No, they're not wearing Bear colors; those are the colors of my alma mater, West High School.
This was perhaps the youngest participant at the rally.
I don't usually show full face shots of my offspring, but they were so great together I couldn't resist.
I'll have more background on Saturday's post: personal experiences passed down through the family the old fashioned way, by the oral tradition. Well, the updated oral tradition: my relatives emailed me the stories they'd heard from my grandfather.
Both girls were home last weekend. It was good to have them home, even though they spent a good deal of time screaming "I hate you" at each other --- just before deciding to go to see the Justin Bieber movie together in a "my sister is my BFF" kind of way.
Jen and I made a little trip to the ER Sunday night. Nothing serious, as I mentioned earlier....but it gave us some time alone, away from the rest of our family, to chat...I told her all about how I gave new meaning to the words "business trip" one time, wound up in a soft cast on my foot for two weeks. Strange how you can have a bonding moment while waiting for x-rays to come back.
Becca and I had some "alone time" on Saturday. She'd gone to lunch with a friend, then found her way into Barnes & Noble, where she'd bought herself a new game -- she loves to play "Scene It" and was excited to find the new Disney version of the game. She came home and asked me to play -- she knows I'm a Disney fan, I've played other versions of "Scene It" and she thought we'd have some fun. It's been a long time since we played any sort of game together. Of course, she's much better at the game than I am....it's been a long time since I've had to "let her win". Whatever tasks remained undone that day, it was worth it to spend time with Becca like I used to....
It must have been Jen's 11th birthday, or maybe her 12th....There was an entertainment company, their primary business was providing DJ services at bar/bat mitzvahs, but they'd turned some unused space in their offices/warehouse into a casual party room....For a small fee, you could do a kids' party, two hours of a DJ/MC entertaining the kids, plus pizza and soda and a helper to serve the food. Parents were expected to provide the birthday cake. When I made a party there (and I made several), I also provided chips, goodie bags and my sisters' home-baked cookies.
Anyhow, for this particular party, I'd ordered a sheet cake from my favorite local bakery. The bakery was a good 20-30 minute ride from the party place. The cake was absolutely gorgeous, all pink and flowery and perfect. I carried it gingerly to my car, and drove as if I had raw eggs on the back seat and was afraid to break them. Handed the cake to the young lady who was to serve the food, and she put it in the back room.
About halfway through the party, the young lady approached me with a scared, sad look on her face and asked me to come into the back room.
It seems that the refrigerator in the back room was about 4 1/2 feet tall. She'd placed the cake on top of the refrigerator. And when she opened the refrigerator door to get the soda, the cake box (with the cake still inside!) flipped over.... The cake was still edible, of course, since it was in the box, but it certainly wasn't pretty anymore.
I had to bring Jen to the back room and show her the cake, because I didn't want her to get an unppleasant surprise when we sang "Happy Birthday". She took it surprisingly well.
Instead of coming up with a new post for today, i thought I'd repost an old entry from my blog, something that makes me think of sunshine and warm breezes and wearing flip flops....a memory of Becca's 15th birthday.
. Becca celebrated her 15th birthday on in July 2007. She had a birthday celebration before her actual birthday. she decided to make her 15th birthday a "girls night out". there were 15 of us -- my two sisters and I chaperoned 12 teenage girls -- Becca, Jen, Jen's friend Crystal and 8 of Becca's closest friends. I'm sure you can read 12 different versions of this story if you read facebook or myspace, because of of the girls had a wonderful evening and couldn't wait to tell everyone else about it. we asked all the girls to meet at our house, where Becca served chips and dip and entertained her friends on the back deck. then we loaded up the cars -- two minivans I rented for the occasion -- and drove into Manhattan. when we got into the cars I had the urge to say something "cute" like "Cinderella, your carriage awaits", because when Becca was a toddler she used to kick off her shoes in the car and I would make a "Cinderella" joke. but I refrained from goofy comments. we parked the cars in a garage on 45th street, right near the marriot Marquis. our first destination was John's Pizza. we ordered pizza and sodas and garlic bread and salads. yum! and the waiter brought a dessert with a candle in it for Becca in honor of her birthday. then we walked uptown. my "Cinderella" joke came back to haunt me then. Becca was wearing these lovely gold mettalic shoes, they had a 2 inch chunky heel. somehow she managed to break the heel of her shoe. my sisters dashed over to the M&M store on 49th street and bought her a pair of flip flops. the rest of us went to 50th street to the snapple theater center. this is a great little theater complex, in the theater district but considered "off Broadway" because of the size of the house -- each theater in the complex seats under 400 people. by the way, the restroom graffitti is a whole bunch of those "snapple real facts" like you get in the bottlecaps. our destination was the Jerry Orbach theater. fitting, as the show we saw was the fantasticks -- Orbach was the first to play El Gallo when the show opened at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in 1960 (it ran until 2002, and was revived at the snapple in 2006.) we had really really good seats. we were sitting in the first and second rows. right next to the orchestra pit. this is a sweet little romantic comedy, with the emphasis on "comedy". the show opens with El gallo singing the signature song "Try to Remember". all of the girls we brought to the theater are Broadway fans. in fact, Crystal is going to major in theater in college in September, Emily takes acting and voice lessons, etc., so we thought they'd love the play. but the "bonus" of course, was Anthony Federov, former American Idol contestant, in the roll of The Boy. every one of the girls in our party swore Anthony was looking right at her while he was singing. and then Jen became part of the show! she was sitting in the front row, on the aisle. at one point El Gallo dropped his hat into her lap. then he asked her to return the hat. Crystal told Jen "throw it to him!" she did, but the hat landed at his feet. he quipped "You must pitch for the Yankees." after the show, the girls decided to wait for Federov at the stage door. it was well worth the wait, Federov made Becca feel like Cinderella at the ball. he signed autographs and took pictures with all the girls. then he KISSED Becca. and he SANG to her -- "Happy Birthday Rebecca", Jen taped the audio on her phone and Erica did a video on her phone, which Erica is going to post on her facebook. afterwards I thanked him for making Becca's night so special.(Lord help me, now what do I do for Jen's birthday in November? ) of course, all the girls loved Becca's M & M footwear, so we had to stop at the MM & M store on our way back to the garage. and I had to run across the street to the Hershey Store. I bought some Hershey Kisses. we stopped at the Marriot Marquis (nicest public ladies' room in the theater district.) and that's when I gave Becca the chocolate and called it "birthday Kisses" (yeah, I know, too cute.) then we piled into the cars and drove home. Becca told me "this was the best birthday ever!"
Chuck thought my dream had a simple interpretation: I've been typing too much. I went to bed with a sore thumb. La Petite agreed. They may be right. I do have arthritic symptoms in my right thumb, and my left is catching up. I have a splint for the right wrist and thumb; I wear it at night to immobilize both and ease the pain somewhat.
So here's the dream.
I was in the emergency room - again. Same doctor, same staff, all recognized us from our back to back visits in early winter. This time, I was there because I'd dislocated my left thumb. Is that even possible? In my dream, the thumb had already been set, back in place, and the pain and swelling were gradually easing. Even so, it still hurt like the blazes. Dr. S had decided that I needed a cortisone shot in the joint. Disclaimer; I have no medical background and have no idea what would really be done at this point. It was a dream, remember? I've had many cortisone shots in my foot, so I know that they are very painful, but also very effective. I think the discussion went something like this.
Dr. S: Have you ever had a cortisone injection before?
Me: silent nod.
Dr. S: So you know what it feels like?
Me: silent nod
Dr. S: Okay, here goes.
Me: turn head, find focal point, breathe.
Chuck thinks it's as simple as going to bed with a sore thumb after being on the computer too much that day. He may be right. The other interpretations could be a little more complex.
Why was I completely unable to answer the doctor? I'm a verbal-linguistic person; words are my strength. I'm rarely intimidated by medical people. Was my silence significant?
The repeat visit to the ER - likely a flashback to the last one, when I opted not to be admitted to the hospital overnight and went to school to leave sub plans instead. Bad choice; I'll never do that again. At least in my dream I followed the doctor's instructions, no matter how painful.
Then again, there's that sore thumb. I'm relearning how to handle a keyboard and mouse in less painful ways, and I'm learning to limit the time I spend on the computer and prioritize that time more effectively.
Readers, chime in. What do you think of my dream? Simple, just a result of a sore thumb joint, or a deeper, more complicated meaning?
Now for the daughter. Hers was a bit more entertaining. We've traced the sources already; no need to interpret. Just enjoy.
The service crew, the techs from AT&T UVerse, had arrived at our home to finally replace the lines that stretch across the backyard. These lines have been nibble by squirrels, hit by lightning, and tangled around growing trees. We've been waiting a long time and we were so thrilled they turned up!
The techs replacing the line were (are you ready for this?) the Backstreet Boys.
The talented boy band members demonstrated their other skill by replacing the line successfully. When they were done, they climbed into their service van and drove away, singing.
Now here's the question: what were they singing? My contribution is this: "I am a lineman for the county." Come on, readers, let's hear it.
No, you never stop being a parent....but parenting college students is a very different world than parenting younger children.
the Oscar nominations were announced today, and I've seen 5 of the 10 films that were nominated for Best Picture.
My coworker has seen only one of the films --Toy Story 3. Seems her 3 year old is obsessed with all things Toy Story. Generally speaking, she and her husband don't go out alone very often -- an event or movie must be deemed "babysitter worthy" before they will choose to go.
That was me just a few years ago. Sometimes I miss those days.
I'm really enjoying the freedom I have now.
but I'm also looking forward to the time when Jen and Becca have kids of their own, and when something is deemed "baby sitter worthy" they call on Grandma to take care of the little ones.
So yesterday was the first day of class at Becca's school. Her second semester of college! She spent most of Monday packing up her things -- most of which she never unpacked when she came home in December. and, of course, she and I went shopping for groceries on Sunday because "the food in the cafeteria is awful." And we made a quick stop at Barnes & Noble -- she's her mother's daughter, she loves to read for pleasure. And my sister cooked, of course -- Becca went back to school with home made matzo ball soup, pot roast and brownies. And you know she hit me up for $$$ before she left for the dorm.
One of the biggest lessons Becca is learning isn't in a classroom, it's in the dorm. Her dorm is set up as apartments that can accomodate 4-6 students. Her apartment is set up for 6 -- it's got 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms as well as a living room and a kitchen. There are actually 7 girls living there (there would have been 8, but one girl dropped out the first week.) The girls are learning to live with each other, and sometimes there are stressful situations -- conflicts about doing the dishes and cleaning up the common areas, buying supplies, when to be quiet so others can study -- typical college roommate stuff. She's not happy, but she's learning to deal with it. She tells me that overall she gets along with all of the girls -- except one. Apparently the young lady doesn't have a concept of "private property" -- she's gone into Becca's bedroom more than once to "borrow" Becca's things without permission, and Becca now keeps her bedroom door locked when she's not at home. Becca doesn't mind sharing her pots and pans and dishes, but keep your hands off her clothes!
And then there's Jen. When you have a house off campus and a car of your own, you don't have to worry about when the dorms are open or closed -- you can come and go as you please. Her spring classes start next Monday, so she's going back to school on Saturday. But she's already been back to school twice since Christmas -- once for the New Year's Eve party, and again last weekend for her housemate's birthday.
I was a little nervous about her being up at school last weekend -- my Jets fan daughter in New England, with a house full of Patriots fans! Even her boyfriend is a Pats fan...He watched the game with her, and she didn't gloat -- too much -- when the Jets beat the Pats.
The situation kind of reminded her about the Giants' Superbowl victory a few years ago -- Jen and I were driving up to Connecticut during the game because we were planning to check out a college the next day. Jen's friend Billy kept texting her the whole time we were in the car, giving her details about the game. She got a text from Billy that the Giants won the game....just as we arrived at our hotel. When we walked into the hotel lobby, the first thing I noticed was a giant TV...and the long, sad faces of the hotel staff and other guests as they watched the post game show....I almost feared pulling out my NY driver's license....Was that really 3 years ago?
So the girls are home for winter break, and the conversations have turned to future plans. Jen is well on her way to achieving her educational goals, though there have been a few twists and turns along the way. Becca is trying to find herself right now; she's expressing dissatisfaction with some of her choices and is seeking new direction.
And then, of course, there are....boyfriends. Becca has been involved with someone she's known since high school. Jen, on the other hand, met someone at college. Someone who is not from Long Island. And it occurred to me that if the relationship goes somewhere, there's actually a possibility that my daughter may make her home in some part of the world other than where I live.
Each step, each decision, takes them further away from the little girls they used to be....I want them to become strong, confident women, with full and rich lives.
Pushing to the Winter Break is always a challenge at school. The moodiness. The excitement. The full moon and lunar eclipse, concurrent with a snowstorm and other mood-altering atmospheric conditions -- well, I can just say the last week of school in 2010 was more of a challenge than usual.
But I'm done. I survived. It's over.
It's more than over, though. I'm done - for the year. Not just 2010, but the full 2010-2011 school year. I'm taking a leave of absence from my teaching job from now until June.
Illness made teaching tough this year. Gout, flu-like virus, even the possibility of heart trouble had me missing more days than I wanted.
But more than that, school has been a struggle: a struggle that was making me sicker. I didn't sleep well at night. Worries kept me awake, and when sleep did come, I'd awaken in a head to toe sweat. Stomach aches every Monday morning, heartburn and headaches Sunday nights, there were too many symptoms to ignore.
There were tipping points. Getting hurt while preventing a student from throwing a chair. Getting threatened by a student and seeing no administrative response whatsoever. Spending time late at night to leave decent sub plans - against the doctor's advice - only to get all kinds of nasty notes about how my work hadn't been sufficient.
Between me, the doctor, and my family, we decided it was time: time to look into a long-term leave. A time to recover, to heal, both physically and mentally. A time to really examine my commitment to teaching and whether it can weather this kind of conflict. Before I make any kind of decision on my future, I need to rest. Rest, recover, and feel good again -- even on Mondays.