Saturday, February 23, 2013

I get all these years as my own

Here it is. The last hoorah of my 30's. I told Kevin tonight that I was feeling introspective about it, and he thought I meant I was regretting it.

Not in the least.

I was just thinking about where I was in my life 10 years ago as I was living out the last of my 20's. It was a far different place. A far different space in my head.

The past decade changed a lot of things for me. Lost love. Found love. Parenthood. Lost Daddy. Lost Susan. Still have my momma, which is awesome.

I've learned to sew. I've learned to make pirogi. Heck, I even learned to make milk and birth babies. Not in that order.

No. I'm not upset about turning 40. I'm excited. Life just started getting good in my mid 30's and it's only getting better. I'm quite sure of it.

Now, I'm tired. Being 39 has been exhausting.

Peace out, 30's. You were a righteous decade.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's not Connie Britton's hair

Almost a year ago, I stopped coloring my hair. It was partly an "I-don't-give-a-shit" decision, and partly an "I'm-lucky-I-get-to-be-here-and-go-grey" decision.

I was angry. Bitter. We had just said good bye to Susan, and I was about to turn 39 years old. On that day, my 39th birthday, I decided to never complain about anything having to do with aging.

And I stopped coloring my hair.

I also wore nothing but pajamas for several months, but that's not really relevant to this story.

Here's the thing. I stopped coloring my hair as a kind of "fuck you" to the youth loving universe. I wanted to see my grey hair. I wanted to look at it and be reminded that some people would give anything to be here long enough to go grey.

Funny thing about the universe. The universe said to me, "Fuck you back. You're not really going grey."

Meh. I have a few sparkly grey hairs here and there. For the most part though, my hair, my real hair color is the color of the Carter family. My grandmother, who died at the ever so young age of 97, had maybe a dozen grey hairs at the time of her death. The rest of her hair was a light chestnut brown color with a hint of auburn highlights. She never colored it.

My great aunt and her daughters - same beautiful hair. The Carter hair.

Last week, I turned my back towards the mirror in my bathroom and held a hand mirror up to see the back of my hair. I was checking to see how close I was to achieving some Connie Britton style (not close enough ever).

It surprised me. The highlights and the auburn in my hair. The natural color that I had covered for so many many years. I didn't even know what my natural color was until now.

I stood there, staring at my hair, realizing that my hair is nothing but a completely cliche metaphor for life. A ridiculous motivational poster for being yourself.

Stop trying to be something you aren't. You might actually like what you really are.

It will never be Connie Britton, but I'm liking my hair. All curly and confused. Brown and auburn.

Bring it on, 40. Me and my Carter hair can totally take you.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Douglas it is. My kiddo is getting an a+ education.

We got the best news yesterday.

For months now, I've been trying to ready myself and my attitude for sending Christopher to our base school. I've been chanting the mantra of, "It is what you make of it," and reminding myself that he will have a good education no matter what. I was promising to be involved and present. I was sending the worry down the river on a leaf every day.

His base school is a tenth of a mile further from another elementary school where the rest of our neighborhood gets to go. Douglas Elementary is in our neighborhood, not across a busy street, and is exactly what I believe an school should be.

Arts and science. That is their magnet program. Not just STEM. But ARTS and science.

I've had so many conversations with other parents who reassure me that my children will get the arts because Kevin and I are artists. True. Kevin is also a scientist, but we wouldn't take science out of Christopher's education just because Kevin could cover that at home.

I've also been told that it's normal to just have music class once a week. Or art. Or drama. Just a "special" within the constructs of the core curriculum.

I'm actually alright with that.

What I believe arts in education should look like is not about a 30 minute music class. It's about using the arts in teaching everything else. Integrated.

I don't need Christopher's school to teach him to play an instrument, but they should be teaching him music as the ultimate example of math and language working in complete symbiosis.

I don't need Christopher's school to teach him modern dance, but they should be teaching him how to use movement to express himself, to exercise, and to have fun.

I don't need Christopher's school to teach him how to be a sculptor, but they should be using visual arts to teach spacial relations, geometry, color spectrum - you get my point.

When I talk about integrating the arts into the classroom, I'm talking about using creative learning. There are so many different ways that children learn. If you can harness the individual learning styles of children through creative learning styles, why wouldn't you?

I'm so grateful that Christopher will be at Douglas. It's one of two a+ elementary schools in Wake County. A model that I wish would be adopted by every school. From the a+ schools website,

"The A+ Schools Program is a whole-school reform model that views the arts as fundamental to teaching and learning in all subjects. A+ Schools combine interdisciplinary teaching and daily arts instruction, offering children opportunities to develop creative, innovative ways of thinking, learning and showing what they know. In A+ Schools, teaching the state’s mandated curriculum involves a collaborative, many-disciplined approach, with the arts continuously woven into every aspect of a child’s learning."

That's the difference. We don't teach children science because we expect them all to grow up and become professional scientists. We don't teach them Language Arts because we expect them all to grow up and become novelists. I don't even teach piano privately because I expect my students to grow up and become concert pianists.

We teach them these things because they are part of a whole education that they need to become productive citizens. Just like creative thinking and the arts are part of that education, like this Washington Post article points out, giving them skills that are never even touched in the traditional curriculum.

So I'm extremely excited about Christopher's placement at Douglas via the magnet program. Now. If we could get every school to adopt the a+ model and give every child the best chance, I would be over the moon.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Something's gotta give

Maybe I've told this story before, maybe not. As Christopher's birthday cupcakes sit baking in the oven, I can't help but tell it again.

It was time for a party. Susan's youngest was turning six. She called me up, like she did whenever cupcakes were in order, and asked me to tell her how to make buttercream frosting from scratch.

Real moms make the frosting for their child's cupcakes. From scratch.

Or something like that.

I start in with my "You let your butter get room temperature . . ."

Wait. You mean it sits out of the fridge? On the counter?

"Yes. It's fine. I promise. I would probably use two sticks. When it's soft enough, put it in your mixer and start to cream it. Watch it - when it's getting fluffy, then start to add your powdered sugar."

How much powdered sugar?

"Oh, I don't know. At least three cups. Probably four. Just keep adding it until you get the consistency you like."

Oh please. There has to be a recipe. Do you mean you are just making this up? You can't just make it up. 

"Alright. Hold on. I'll find a recipe."

So I did. I looked up a recipe and gave her exact measurements for the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Then, I got to the milk.

"It says 2-6 tablespoons of milk."


"Susan? You okay?"

SERIOUSLY? There is a big difference between 2 and 6 tablespoons of milk. This is a RECIPE. It's supposed to have MEASUREMENTS.

We laughed and laughed. Always the scientist. Always the artist.

She didn't end up making the frosting. She was just too tired. Within a week, she went into hospice care. And then we all know what happened.

I can't help it. When I make cupcakes, I can't help myself. Laughing at her frustration over my shoddy instructions. Crying over the fact that she didn't get to make the frosting.

Something has got to give.

I have more to write about. Colin is hilarious. Christopher is thriving. My momma was just here for a wonderful visit.

It's just when I'm in this space, I can't help but keep coming back to Susan.

Maybe I need a change. A fresh start. A new design. Maybe just a whole new blog.

I don't know. I know it's alright to miss her. I know it's alright to be happy and to be sad all at the same time.

But dang. I'm ready for my fingers to write about something else. Such is the downfall of free form, rambling blogging.