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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'd rather be a Ballet Mom than a Soccer Mom, or Coming to Terms with my Inner Stage Mom

If I needed a 19th century novel title for what I was feeling a few days ago it would be the title above. I ran into a fellow ballet Mom on my walk and after I got home this post title just came to me. She had been talking about what parts her daughter has in this year's Nutcracker production. Emma is not dancing in the Nutcracker this year as the rehearsals conflict with soccer games. I am glad she is trying something new, though I keep calling practice rehearsal, and I confess that watching games in the glorgeous Fall weather has been fun so far -- but I was sad that I wasn't going to get to be a stage Mom this Christmas time -- still, I guess I could still volunteer to help out backstage. I also have to come to terms with my competitive nature -- I want her to be the best at whatever she does and to do lots of things. I actively hold this back so as not to put undue pressure on her -- wonder if it's working. It's her life -- and getting the balance between pushing and encouraging and giving space is not the easiest thing to do. I am glad that she is getting lots of free, unstructured time to play outside and in with the other kids on our street and her friends.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A day in the Life Of ... (Part 2)

Yes, it has taken me over two weeks to get back to this. Life and computer access intervened.

So, we were at:
Leave for Dermatologist apt. in Providence. I thought I had left plenty of time -- 30 minutes -- to drive the 12 miles to the doctor's office, but I underestimated traffic around our state capitol between 3 and 4 in the afternoon. After getting off the jammed highway, I made my way over the city streets where at least I was moving and arrived at the appointment by 4. That's an average of 16 miles per hour. The dermatologist is always running late so that was no problem. We needed to get out of there by 4:45 so we could get back to Barrington for soccer practice. A miracle occurred and we were done by then and managed to actually get back to Barrington before soccer practice started at 5:20. Somehow there was much less traffic at 5:00pm. Go figure!

Arrive at soccer practice at Barrington Middle School. This is the first of the bi-weekly special practice sessions with the British Challenger coaches. It was fun listening to their accents, plus it was a fabulous day and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out and watching. I even offered to drive our next door neighbor's daughter home too. I ran into our friend Ann who was picking up her son James from his earlier soccer practice and had a nice chat with one of the other Mom's on Emma's team. When practice was over we stopped at the Del's Lemonade Truck -- parking very cleverly just in time for practice to end -- and the girls got frozen lemonades. By the way -- Del's Lemonade is one of the two state drinks of Rhode Island, the other being Coffee Milk (yes, that is just like chocolate milk, only with coffee syrup).

Drive home from practice and drop off Diana.
Pre-heat oven to cook frozen pizza. Cook pizza and put out carrots and ranch dressing.

Eat dinner together with Jim and Emma. I can't remember the details of that particular dinner, but we probably talked about Emma's school day, soccer, the Dr. apt., what was going on at work for both of us, what was on TV. The usual...

Emma takes a shower, while I do general post dinner clean-up in the kitchen and dining room (which is also our entryway -- mudroom -- and general dropping point for things).

All sit down and watch a sit-com re-run together. It was probably Two and a Half Men, which, if Emma understood half of what was going on, would be definitely inappropriate for her. I guess we are "bad" parents. But we enjoy the relaxing time together and the laughs.

Emma and I sit down to read a bedtime story. Sometimes we share reading, sometimes I read, sometimes she does. This evening I continued reading a book that was an absolute favorite of mine when I was Emma's age and lived in England. It's called First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton, and is all about a girl who is going to boarding school for the first time at age 12, and about everything that happens at boarding school. I read it in about 1973 and it is actually pretty dated and I have to explain the British English language usages. For example: torch = flashlight, maths = mathematics, cloakroom = closet or changing area, crisps = potato chips, chips = french fries, prep = homework, etc.... She's enjoying it and often begs me to read "just another chapter" please. I get to reminisce about being Emma's age and my then obsession with boarding school. I even drew floor plans of Malory Towers based on the descriptions in the books when I was her age. The great thing is there are 5 more to go in the series and I still have all of them -- though they are in very acidic yellowed paperbacks. Emma drew floor plans of the Chimney Corners Camp dining hall before she went to camp there -- based on her memory from the open house and the website, so I guess she has some of the same genes as I do!

Emma's bedtime. Mom and Dad's free time. Again, I don't know what we did that night, but we often hang out and watch TV (Food Network, HGTV, History etc...), or read, or sometimes I go downstairs and work on the computer, or if we want to watch different things on TV or one wants to read and the other watch TV I will go out to the sun room and hang out there. We might have been power watching Session Two of Heroes on DVD in preparation for the Season Three premier which was last night.

Mommy bedtime.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Day in the Life Of .... (Part One)

Monday, September 8, 2008. Second week of school year.

I am one of those geeks who loved the beginning of the school year -- all those new books and fresh clean notebooks and stationary supplies. All the excitement and status of moving up a grade. All those neat new things to learn.

So, as we start the second week of the school year I thought I'd document at least a day in the life of me. So here it is:

6:30 am
Wake up, let Maggie (dog) out, feed Maggie, wake-up Emma, take a shower, get dressed, make lunch for Emma and for me, make sure Emma is ready and has her school stuff ready, get my work stuff ready.

7:40 am
Walk up the street to wait for the school bus with the other Milton Road Moms. I enjoy this chatty time where we catch each other up on what's been going on and what's new in town/street, parenting stories, tips and techniques, and sometimes even national/world events (but not often). I also enjoy chatting with the kids -- particularly the little brothers and sisters who are waiting for older siblings to get on the bus. My favorites are: Patrick, Elizabeth and Owen. Sometimes this is the most social part of my day!

7:50 am
Bus #2 arrives and loads up with Milton Road kids for trip to Primrose Hill Elementary School (K-3). When everyone is around we have: William (gr.1), Sophia (gr.1), Kayla (gr.2), Olivia (gr.2), Emma (gr.3), Tommy (gr.3), Ben (gr.2). Wave to kids as bus leaves and have final chat time with other Moms as we head back home. I was taking the bus to work on this day so I continued across the main road to wait for the RIPTA (public bus) to Providence which stops across from the end of our road. There is a large church there (St. Luke's) so I can wait back from the road at the edge of their parking lot which makes it a nicer place to wait than right on the road. I read my book and drink coffee from a travel mug while I wait.

8:06 am
Bus arrives. It always arrives at 8:06 because this is the second stop on the line. This particular route only runs at several times in the morning commute period and then again in the afternoon, every hour. I spend the ride again reading my book. Right now I am reading Crashing Through by Robert Kurson. It's our September book club book and is a non-fictional account of Michael May who regained his sight after being blind most of his life -- though I haven't gotten that far yet. It's really quite interesting because it raises lots and lots of questions about the difference between our sighted view of the world and the way blind people perceive the world. I was particularly struck by the idea of what it would be like for all of us to know and judge each other by criteria other than what we look like -- I think what we look like -- no matter how hard we try otherwise -- is a HUGE factor in our response to and assesment of other people.

8:35 am
Arrive at work and change my frame of mind from the big thoughts raised in Crashing Through to the smaller more mundane world of managing information and library resources for a mid-sized law firm. I was working through my "to do" and "follow-up on" lists and piles on my desk, including the ones I have been avoiding.

12:30 pm
Take a break and go for a 10 minutes walk along South Main and Water streets. It's a gorgeous New England Summer day, not too hot, not humid, breezy, sunny. I do some window shopping and then walk back along the river and stop to read one of the historic information signs posted along the riverwalk park. Again, I am a geek and I really like to discover local history facts. I found out that the brass plaques along the walk mark the original shipping wharves and are the exact width of the wharf itself. I don't really get a lunch hour or half hour since I am squishing 6 hours of work into the school day, but I do try to take a 15 minute break -- I should go for a walk more often as it was refreshing. Here's a photo of the exact view I had while walking along the river.

12:45 pm
Back to work and eat my sandwich at my desk while reading library related and other blogs. Then do some research for my boss on foreclosure rates in New England. We do a lot of foreclosure and bankruptcy work.

2:20 pm
Leave to catch the 2:25pm bus home. Bus only goes once an hour and I have to get home for Emma. I like to take the bus because as I said earlier I can read and relax not pay attention to the morning traffic. I also can save the $12/day it costs to park downtown (that's the cheapest rate I have found). This is the first day I have taken the bus this school year because my bus gets me home by 3:00pm and Emma's bus arrives at 2:55pm. This was a good day to test this since Jim was working from home and could meet Emma at her bus. We are thinking about letting her walk home and let herself in for the 5 minutes until I arrive. In reality it usually takes us 5 minutes to walk down the street to our house after her bus arrives since we are catching up with each other and talking to the other Mom's and kids. So, as I got off the bus I saw Jim and Emma walking up our front steps. That gives me an idea of how much time she would be alone. Also, there are at least 3 other Mom's at home at that time of day with their kids on our street who she could go to as a resource.

3:00 pm
At home getting ready to drive Emma to a dermatologist appointment in Providence. She needed to get ready for her soccer practice which we would go to immediately after her appointment, and I changed my clothes into something I wanted to watch soccer practice in.

3:15 pm
Leave for Doctor appointment

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of Third Grade

Today was the day. Everyone gathered at the end of the street to wait for the bus -- which was so late that Emma ended up riding to school with Miss Miriam and her daughters Elizabeth and Kayla and with Olivia from next door. The bus came right after they left of course. So, here are some shots of our morning. There is a huge crowd of kids in the K-5th grade taking the bus together. All on our street with only 16 houses on it!

Maggie and I met Emma at the bus stop after school -- by all accounts the first day went well. She has 8 girls and 11 boys in her class, including her two good friends from her class last year -- Katie and Ally and one of the boys on our street. So, here's to third grade -- I think Mom is ready.

Home from camp and to the Shore

So we headed off to pick Emma up from Chimney Corners on August 16th. We got there at 9:45 and she was one of the last to be picked up from her cabin so it was very very quiet compared to Mom's weekend. We said goodbye to her counselors Dana and Ally and to Chimney Corners for this Summer. We headed home with a stop for lunch at Friendly's to mirror our trip up 4 weeks earlier. I then spent two days doing laundry -- that's finished, but there are still some things to go through -- mostly Emma's mementos from camp.

After a short two days at home Emma and I packed up again and headed off to the Jersey Shore to my Mom's house for a couple of days. We wanted to break the journey to my Dad's into two parts and to catch up with my Mom, my sister and of course the twins Amelia and Nikolas. They are really talking all the time now and I was being called to read and play -- I am "Aunt Beouf" pronounced as in the French for beef.

Emma spent part of a day with her new friend from camp Erin who spends the Summers in Stone Harbor on 105th street just a few blocks from my Mom's house at 110th street. I had a great time playing on the beach with Nicky and Mia and then reading and talking with Mom and her friends when they went in to nap. It was a absolutely gorgeous day with no humidity. I even swam -- though the water in the Atlantic never really warmed up this Summer. One of my Mom's neighbors -- a woman in her 90s (she looks like she's in her 70s or early 80s) came down to swim as she does everyday with her thermometer and informed us that it was only 68 degrees and to cold for her. I found her an inspiration -- I want to be that active and look that great in my 90s.

Here are the twins on the beach that day.

After a couple of days there Emma and headed for Cape May to take the ferry to Lewes Delaware and then drive the to Dad and Hazel's house on the Eastern Shore or Maryland in Snow Hill. They are about a half hour from Salisbury, Ocean City and Chicoteague, Va. We were greeted by their two dogs -- who both jumped into the car to welcome us -- Bella was wet so that wasn't the greatest welcome, but you have to admire her exuberance.

Here they are relaxing after a long hard day -- Bella is the black lab on the chair and Pumpkin is the white west highland terrier on the footstool.

Dad has a swimming pool so we obviously spent a lot of time hanging out around it. We had several fantastic days of lower humidity and sunshine. Emma had a terrific time playing with her friend Hannah who she met last Summer when she was at Dad's. Hannah lives around the corner from Dad and just started 4th grade today and she's only about 6 months older. They play really well together and I get lots of time to read or do whatever as they entertain each other. Hannah's an only child too so I know she enjoys it. They had several sleep overs -- some at Dad's and some at Hannah's. Here they are playing in the pool -- this is actually at Uncle Larry's pool also in Snow Hill where we were for a crab feast (hard shelled blue crabs steamed in old Bay seasoning which we picked the meat out of ourselves).

One night Emma helped Dad (Papa) make pizza. He bought the dough from Trader Joe's and they rolled in out into circles and then put all the toppings on. It was really good!

We also got to meet Hazel's daughter Caroline and her boyfriend Joel. They arrived a couple of days before we had to head back to school and work. They live in Paris. Joel is French and Caroline is Irish, but has been living in France for many years. After hearing so much about them it was really great to finally meet them and hang out by the pool and share food and wine and a trip to the water park and a boat ride on the Pocomoke with Uncle Larry and Aunt Sue on their boat. It was another gorgeous evening and we enjoyed wine and snacks. Larry let Emma drive the boat a lot of the way!! Here she is:

Here are Caroline and Joel on the boat. Emma asked Caroline if she could call her Auntie Caroline and she said yes so that's what Emma called her the rest of the time! Well, she is my step-sister so that makes her an Aunt.

I will probably post some more photos on Facebook or Snapfish, but enjoy these in the meatime!