Friday, April 16, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
He jumped up and down.
He swung his new belt over his head like a lasso.
He danced around in circles.
He assumed the "Rocky" pose (I didn't even know he knew who "Rocky" was.)
All from the back row of the class, while little lines of white soldiers stood solemnly, exchanging their old belts for new, and hanging their old belts around their necks. Finally his instructor had pity and went back to calm him down and help him with his new belt.
I am SO proud of my son!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Sarah's First Communion is coming up May 1, so I have additional incentive, but the primary "push" is the simple fact that I've been feeling as though the walls are closing in on me, and it's time to do something about it! My goal is to tackle one area each week, and include "before" and "after" pictures of each. (I know, how humiliating. But it's good for me.)
Here's the schedule I have planned so far:
* Week 1: Office and taxes. Goal -- organize my office so I'm ready for the new study/work paradigm that is soon to become my life. Move futon to basement, put grandpa's old library table in its place, etc. I'm hiring two strong-backed young men to do the lifting on Saturday.
* Week 2: Bedrooms. Remove everything we no longer need or can no longer use; put in basement for next week's sorting. Remove children's toys and put them downstairs as well.
* Week 3: BASEMENT. I have my friend and professional organizer Monica Rem coming this week to go through this corner of my world, since I simply do not feel up to the challenge.
* Week 4: Kitchen/DR. Finish painting and organizing kitchen, getting rid of anything I don't always use. Replace the verticle blind slats, and install cafe curtains in my kitchen window. If time allows, tackle laundry room as well. (If my friend Katy is available, I may have her help me on Friday.)
* Week 5: Living Room and Hallway. Finish painting, and set up pictures going up the stairs. New window treatment for window (something the dog can't destroy with her watchdog antics during the day, with shade for nighttime).
* Week 6: Family Room. Paint and declutter. Hang some new pictures.
* Week 7: Holy Week. Mini-retreat in my beautiful home!
Feel free to nag me if you don't see regular reports on progress!
Monday, February 01, 2010
Years ago when I was working at Servant, our marketing/sales experts used to say that it takes seven seconds, on average, for a customer to decide whether to purchase a particular book on a store shelf. Seven seconds, on average, to study the front cover, back cover, TOC, and first couple of pages.
The same principles apply to proposals. When I was going through the slush pile, it took about that long to evaluate a proposal for possible publication: cover letter, TOC, and first three pages. If at any point it didn't grab me, I'd put it into the reject pile.
Could your query pass the seven-second test?
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
For a variety of reasons, Craig and I have been seriously discussing a secondary (full-time) career path for me. And to accommodate those plans, for a while now I've been evaluating my life, trying to figure out which of the many hats I wear need to be shelved to make room.
Blogging? As I considered this, AnnArbor.com contacted me to ask if they could run my blogposts from Extraordinary Moms Network on their site, giving me a local presence to go with the broader exposure I get from CatholicMom.com and CatholicExchange.com.
Eliminate Facebook? In the past week I've been contacted by six different people, including two relatives, I'd lost touch with over the years. And with nearly 600 "friends" on my list, it seems to fit neatly in that "author platform" thing publishers are forever yammering about.
Boosters? Tempting -- though losing our VP (for medical reasons) makes me wonder if there will be someone else to fill the gap. My family has also benefitted in small but tangible ways. Sarah's reading scores jumped over 100 points, at least partly from the IEP that was put in place this fall. Money from working in the office and after-school tutoring is helping the checkbook. The daily contact with the school has helped me make personal connections with other parents.
Other volunteering? Each assignment, each commitment by itself doesn't take a lot of time ... Together, wow!
But yesterday Sarah said something to me that might provide a clue. We had talked about her joining her brother's tae kwan do class when she turned eight (which she did a few weeks ago). We got her a uniform, and signed her up. But when it came time for her to start her first class, she balked. "But I don't WANT to do tae kwan do. I want to do my HOMEWORK!"
Smart little girl, she saw that while her brother was occupied with his lessons, she had mom's undivided attention. And later, she said to me, "Besides. If I want to start until Christopher gets his NEXT belt, then he can teach ME and I won't have to make so many mistakes!"
Which brings me full-circle to the initial question: "What do you do?" Well, truth be told ... mostly circles. Figuring things out. Making mistakes. And trying to keep all those hats in balance.
Monday, January 18, 2010
At the risk of sounding like an aging old prune, I gotta tell ya ... I gained a renewed respect for the effects of aging on the body after a day of casting myself (alternating head-first and feet-first) into various wave formations. Let's just say I was sorely (seriously) tempted to blow a week's grocery money on the second-floor spa. I ached. All over.
Just as painful, though, was the realization that I am officially Invisimom. We always wound up behind a bevvy of sweet young things (I dubbed them "Can Can Girls" - "cute and nubile" with swimsuits hardly bigger than a postage stamp). They would zip through the lines, giving the young men whiplash, so quickly did heads turn, while I languished with two screaming kids, waiting for our chance to launch. (When at last we were noticed, it usually involved a shrill whistle blast.)
Don't get me wrong. I had fun. The kids fell into bed, exhausted, at night. Craig and I read, swam, strolled, and ate. We had dinner together EVERY NIGHT. And we both were able to nap to our hearts' content (not at the same time ... one of us had to keep an eye on the water.)
At the same time, it made me realize that time is indeed marching on. The kids are growing, and if I blink again I'm sure it will be Sarah that causes the neckstrain (though you'd better believe her suit will be SIGNIFICANTLY larger than a postage stamp).
It's Monday night. Back to the trenches.
I am a South Arbor student.
I can make a difference by doing my personal best.
I will work hard, and practice good manners.
My heart believes it; my actions will show it!
Throughout the workday, lessons have a dual focus of academics and “global virtues” like integrity, perseverance, compassion, wisdom, and self-control. In classrooms, older students serve as “reading buddies” to younger children. Parents flip flashcards and put up bulletin boards. Hallways are dotted with posters advertising penny drives, book fairs, and a seasonal “giving tree.”
At South Arbor, charity begins at home . . . and it continues in the classroom. This generosity is modeled by faculty and staff; last summer several South Arbor teachers went to Zimbabwe to train local teachers. During the school year, Principle Tim DiLaura mentors two other charter schools in addition to working at South Arbor full time.
This year, we are having to work harder than ever just to make ends meet. While traditional public schools in Michigan lost $213 per student in state funding, South Arbor Academy lost $700 per student – a half-million dollars – in state funding. This despite the fact that our students scored much higher on national testing than students in traditional public schools (86% of our students scored at or above grade level, a rate much higher than that of traditional public school students).
The South Arbor Booster Club, a 501(c)3 organization that raises funds to provide cultural and academic opportunities for the students of South Arbor – science and writing fairs, spelling bees, drug awareness programs, special assemblies, classroom and field trip allowances, and other extra-curricular enrichment activities. Our goal is $50,000 – one-tenth of the money lost from state budget cuts. With this kind of money, we can buy learning much-needed resources and books, and add appreciably to other needs identified by teachers and parents alike.
On February 27, we are holding our annual Spring Auction. We are seeking a variety of donations – autographed books, educational and recreational products, and financial contributions – for this purpose. All contributions are fully tax-deductible.
Won’t you help us meeting our target? Thanks in advance for your help!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will
remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."
"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each
day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34).
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
"There is TOO a Tooth Fairy. Right, Mom?"
"No, there's not -- it's always Mom and Dad, right Mom?"
*sigh* For a moment, I envied those parents who from Day One refuse to fan the flames of fiction in the hearts of their children. No Easter Bunny. No Santa. And no Tooth Fairy.
Sadly, I've never lost an opportunity to fan those particular flames. I was also mildly annoyed with Christopher for bursting his little sister's bubble like that. So I messed with him a little.
"So ... Christopher. How did you come to decide this? Was it something one of your classmates said?"
"Uh-huh. Josh said he peeked last night, and saw his Dad put the money under his pillow. He says it's always Moms and Dads. No fairies."
"Well, let's think about that for a moment. Doesn't Josh have an older brother, who might have told him about the Tooth Fairy?"
"So is it possible that the Tooth Fairy stopped coming to the Trout house because the Big Brother didn't believe in her any more, and the parents didn't want to spoil it for Josh?"
In the rearview mirror, Christopher's eyes furrowed as he thought about this one. "Well... but the last time I was at the dentist, I lost a tooth and the Tooth Fairy didn't come and give me money for that one."
"Well, that just means the Tooth Fairy sometimes makes mistakes. It doesn't prove she doesn't exist. I make mistakes, you make mistakes ... We all make mistakes sometimes."
Now his eyebrows were so furrowed they nearly touched. "Well..."
"Listen, Christopher. You don't have to believe in the story of the Tooth Fairy if you don't want to. You're a big kid now, and maybe you're too big for the idea of the Tooth Fairy. But you should know that if you spoil it for your little sister, the Tooth Fairy might just get so mad that she doesn't come around any more. And you wouldn' want THAT to happen, would you?"
That did it. Impromptu, in unison: "I BELIEVE IN THE TOOTH FAIRY!!!!"
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
I swear, you'd have thought we were skinning her alive. Even though she remembered (after the fact) the sage advice I'd given her about the best way to get a shot: just try to relax and think of something else, so your muscles don't tense up.
Yeah, right. One look at those plastic toothpicks, and we practically had to unhook her ten little fingernails from the ceiling tiles. My shins are going to be sporting shiners for a week.
Still, when it was all over, she turned off the waterworks, smiled at me brightly and said, "I was a GOOD GIRL! Do I get my treat now?"
*sigh.* That depends ... do I get one, too?