Sunday, March 11, 2018

Stage mom: part 1 (Katie)

Katie's school is unique in a lot of ways but one really stands out to me: all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders are required to identify a career they are interested in learning about and then do an internship. At the end of the year they present on their experience to the rest of the school (there are about 8 total kids in grades 6, 7, and 8 and less than 30 kids in the whole school, so this is much more interactive than it sounds).

Many kids work with animal shelters, libraries, pre-schools and such and those are great experiences. Katie wanted to do anything related to sewing and/or theater. After her experience in the local children's theater in the fall (village woman in Beauty and the Beast) she really wanted to see more backstage action.

A series of emails and calls in January landed her the dream job: intern for the costume designer at the local city ballet as they prepared to do Aladdin.

Short version: she spent 3-4 weekend mornings at the costume designer's house looking at sketches and then following her instructions to cut out and sew together some of the costumes. She did hand work and some machine work. She attended the dress fitting days and helped record notes on needed alterations and then brought home a basket of items to alter. In the past 10 days she has put in at least 25 hours at the theater watching dress rehearsals, doing on-the-spot repairs and alterations, and helping ensure all costume pieces are in the proper dressing rooms and fitting correctly.  Yesterday we attended the show as guests and today she spent another 6 hours at the theater do pre-show repairs and organization, doing backstage work during the show, and then helping pack up all of the hundreds of details and get them loaded out onto the truck back to the main studio.

It was an amazing experience, and she's already been assured more opportunities on future shows if she wants them. I'm crazy impressed with her for doing such a huge activity at 12!

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Someone turns eleven today!

Dear Jorge,

Today you turn eleven. 

This year you've discovered the world of role playing games. Every Friday after school you head to your friend's house for an afternoon of D&D and snacks. On the way home you regale me with stories of the bard's attempt to defeat the warlock and the near-death of a cleric but the heroic rescue from the half-orc/half-human soldier. Your group of buddies is funny and interesting and a great combination of geeky and creative.

You are starting to take life more carefully -- slower handwriting, more careful work in your math classes, and a general sense of focus. The frantic energy of the past 4 years is slowing down and concentrating into something like real passion and interest instead of a scramble to experience all the things at one time.  It's fun to see you bury yourself in a series of comic books or a project like a stop-motion animation.

Your hair is a shaggy mop, your glasses are big and self-tinting in the sun, your favorite coat in the world is your fleece black-and-red checkered coat. You love robotics and outdoors and figuring out the underlying rules and patterns of life (again, no longer simply slamming into every wall to see which ones hold, you're now interested in understanding how and why things work). You sleep in a robe and slippers in your bed -- a little burrito of fleece.

You love snuggles and candy and spicy foods and trying new things. You adore your extended family even when you think the immediate family is a bit of a prison ward. You alternate being best friends with both Katie and August -- rarely both at the same time -- and are rarely seen alone. You're an extrovert to the highest degree. You crave interaction, noise, togetherness, and movement at all times. For the rest of us (who need a nap after more than 30 minutes of direct interaction with people) it's boggling and it's just a good thing that there are so many of us in this house so you can direct that spotlight of energy and interaction at someone else when one of us runs out of batteries.

Your sense of humor is sly and dry, usually, but when something amuses you, there's a steady bubble of giggles that you can't stop. Your head tips over and magnets onto someone's arm every single time. Giggle-giggle-giggle-press-head-into-bicep. I think you're part cat. Like pretty much every pre-teen boy in the world, you are especially amused by any jokes that involve gassiness or rear-ends.

You and I still struggle endlessly to move past a pattern of fighting and frustration. There's so much emotional damage and a huge barrier there; but we're working on it. It's worth the effort, but some days feel like swimming through a pool packed with jellyfish -- every single thing creates a painful mess. I'll never stop trying, though -- even though some days we both need to just walk to our separate rooms until we figure out a new approach.

Love you, Captain. I hope that turning eleven is everything you hoped for.


Friday, January 19, 2018

Sewing internship

This girl! She had her first interview today, scoring an internship with the costume design team at the local professional ballet! She'll be shadowing the designer as she moves from ideas to drawings to pattern to creation. She'll be helping to sew items and add embellishments ...and then the adjustments and dress rehearsals all the way up to the process of moving costumes over to the theater and putting them in dressing rooms, being backstage to make alterations and repairs during the shows, and then packing up and bringing all of the pieces back to the studio.

I'm so excited for her to have a chance to see two of her passions (dance/theater and sewing) come together! She is going to learn so much and get to be part of bringing all the characters to life. Internships as a middle school requirement were a bit odd sounding to me when I first heard it. Today, I was able to  show up to an interview with her, prompt her a bit when she didn't brag on herself hard enough, and then help her follow through with thank you emails and other real-world skills that are so much harder to learn on your own! And now...sewing!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Lasso Maria

Auggie dances around this line of little boy and big kid. He reads whole novels (recently, The Hobbit and Gulliver's Travels) and adores square roots and algebra and just started cooking his own eggs each morning (cracking and everything!).

On the other hand, he loves playing with his Hot Wheels. Today he set up his Gator Gulch track and spent hours putting them in competition, ranking them, awarding them medals, and encouraging them to keep trying.

His favorite is named Lasso Maria. No one knows why, and that pretty much sums up August.

(There's also Blank. Blank didn't appear in any photos as he's just a chassis. )

Thursday, January 11, 2018

So this is pretty much par for the course these days...

Mid day email from a teacher...

If I tell you I laughed out loud at the "they disagreed about whether it was returned" part, will you judge me as a bad mom or just realize that the crazy is starting to wear me down?

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Vaguely unsubstantial job update stuff

Teaching: last semester I took on a 6-course load. Note that most faculty teach 2-3, at the very most 4 courses in a semester. I was ready to pull my already all-gray hair out.

Research: I can only hope that my co-authors are all willing to still reply to my emails when I finally get back to our projects this month. It has been hard to do anything besides the teaching.

Tenure: no real news. The appeals last spring triggered a new committee to consider my case. They will submit a recommendation to the powers-that-be and then I'll eventually hear something which could be as late as May.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Economics and inflation: Auggie edition

"Mom. Back when you could buy a piece of candy for, like, 25 cents, was that because money was worth more or because stuff was worth less?"

Dude! He's 7! And he's wondering about currency inflation vs. costs of products.

So I explained inflation with something close to the Big Mac Index -- when I was a teenager working a minimum wage job, an hour of work was just about enough to buy a super value meal. Now Maryna works a minimum wage job and even though she earns about 175% of my minimum wage, an hour's pay is still barely enough take-home to get a super value meal. So the value of the money has changed, but not the value of the goods relative to the value of work.

And then we switched topics to Pokemon, naturally.