13 September 2012

Giant backpack

Yesterday, in the car, A1 asked me if I liked being a doctor better than being a photographer.  I had a visceral reaction, nearly yelling at him that I would never prefer being a photographer.  Never ever ever, in the ardently pubescent voice of Taylor Swift.  Never.  Ever.

Throughout this past summer, while on the brink of having 2 kids in elementary school, I fantasized about so many things, both wildly irrational as well as firmly realistic.  I thought the notion of taking a part time job in a joint practice somewhere belonged in the latter category.  Coming to the realization that that idea actually belongs in the realm of pure fantasy has been hard for me these past few days since school has started.

I'm grateful for my eye and my gear, but only so far as they help me preserve precious moments like this one:

I nearly burst out in tears watching my baby move so far ahead of me.  He seemed so big and independent, yet so tiny compared to his gigantic backpack.  How long would that backpack be so relatively big?  Another year--maybe two?  That's it.  There will be nothing left but outgrown clothes...and photographs.

12 September 2012

Others' art

I've been so busy that I haven't create opportunities for the boys to make art at home.  That's a rather odd turn of events for our family. 

Thank goodness for OCMA's monthly Free Sundays.  Five projects and a live show.  Woohoo!

Orange International Street Fair

Who needs a compact?  (Okay, maybe I do because I've been coveting the Canon S100 for a while now.)  I couldn't bear to lug along the heavy DSLR on such a hot day when my iPhone is more than enough for me.

Bury it!

I don't like it when the top post is a negative one so I'm going to shove it further down by posting these pics of the boys' first day of school:


And...I'm done!

The boys started school last Wednesday and I had visions of going to the gym and sewing again. 

Ha! 

Please.

Last week, I spent days in the classrooms and nights working on various classroom-related projects, including but certainly not limited to those pesky photo rosters that involve over 30 individual portraits per classroom.  These are those rosters I promised I'd never do again last year at this time (and probably the year before as well because my self-proclamations are ineffective like that).  Thus far, I've done 6 classrooms, I'm in the middle of 1 more, and I still have one that I promised to do but on which I have yet to even begin.  I'm not sure anyone realizes that it takes me over 2 hours to pull each one together after I've carved out the time to visit the classroom and snap the original portraits.

So by last Friday afternoon, after 3 days of ignoring my children and my house (this is where I force the "like a tornado hit it" simile) and sleeping no more than 5 hours a night, I was burnt out!  We had a little swim playdate at the house and I, not so facetiously, declared to the other moms that I was going to get a full time job because I was never so busy and stressed out when I was working outside the home.  They talked me off the ledge and I even made plans with one of the moms for this Monday morning because she knows I have difficulty standing my ground and she wanted to give me a real reason not to end up at school.

Shocking news!  I never made it to see her on Monday.  I have been in the classroom this entire week, and working on dissertation-length emails since I'm somehow the Room Parent in BOTH classes (I volunteered to share the position in one class but was assigned for the other).  This is all to the detriment of my soccer coaching skills (I intended to read up on the rules of the game and the skills and drills necessary for my little guys), my poor Wolf Cub den (I still have no concrete plans for the year to come and I'm not Wolf Leader trained yet even though our first meeting in a day and half), my photog "business" (I know there are plenty of unanswered emails but I just haven't had the time to get back to everyone who is trying to schedule their holiday shoots yet), my blog (I love it here!  I miss it here...), and of course, the worst hit of all, the aforementioned kids and house.  We ran off to the ice rink tonight without a single snack for the boys because I didn't have time to pack anything (or go grocery shopping, for that matter)--dinner is usually at 5pm but tonight they went until 7pm without any food.  Yes.  That's what become of me and my parenting.  I'm lucky we even made it to and fro since the gas tank is just about on empty and I haven't had a chance to fill it up (Isn't that the metaphor of all metaphors?).

I really wouldn't mind it too much if it really were truly in the service of the boys' academic experience.  But now I'm not even sure for what I'm doing all of this.  Yes, yes...this many paragraphs down, I'm FINALLY getting to my point.

Yesterday afternoon, I walked into A1's classroom.  He was among 6 classmates assigned to a parent leader.  And let me tell you, I applaud this woman who took her time and put forth her valuable energy to blindly come into a classroom with which she's completely unfamiliar.  But she and A1's teacher were doing exactly the same thing.  That means that A1 would never rotate to his teacher.  He was with this learning center in lieu of being with his teacher!  Again, I have nothing against this parent or any of the other parents who are so gracious with their time, but so many of them are admittedly weak in English (Yeah, yeah, we'll talk about a classroom full of Asian GATE kids later...) and express their discomfort in working with the students, particularly on amorphous, abstract material (Once, again, we'll talk about that Asian math thing later...).

Optimally, we parents come into the classroom in order to complete clerical tasks that would otherwise occupy the teachers' attention and reduce their time or ability to teach the class.  Last year, this was not the case in A1's classroom.  When we broke into small groups, the children would rotate through some motivated, skilled parents and some less motivated, less skilled parents.  But eventually, they would have focused attention from their teacher during one of those rotations.  Having a confused parent is still better than quiet, independent (read: busy) work while biding their time to be taught by the teacher, so I didn't question it.  But now, having witnessed what happened on Tuesday, I wonder if A1 has frequently been passed off in the past, if his many of his experiences in First Grade were with a parent volunteer instead of his teacher.

And that brings up to the ledge off of which I'm about to leap happily and willingly.  *I* can teach him better than these obviously uncomfortable, English-challenged moms.  Tonight, I've neglected my school-related duties and I've been looking at classroom ratios and considering the option of moving to another part of the country.  I've checked out private schools and charter schools. 

I would have addressed this with A1's teacher when I first saw it, but I didn't realize how hard it would hit me.  So now, the Head Cheerleader of this little parent volunteer squad has lost her way.  I'm off the Kool-Aid and that will make it hard to do my job.  I'm usually the one to rally the troops, but how long can I fake it with all this cynicism brimming forth?  I made this giant matrix to request volunteers for every hour of every instructional day for this school year.  Again...shocker: It's virtually empty.  But I'm not about to send out more emails requesting volunteers if it means my son will be under their tutelage instead of his teacher's.

There is a 5th grade GATE class on our campus whose usual teacher is on extended medical leave.  The class is being taught by a permanent substitute and many are frustrated that it is not a GATE-experienced teacher and inflamed by the fact that she was officially their physical education coach last year.  Well, hey, at least she's a credentialed teacher!  It's many steps up from the random parent who doesn't even want to be put in a position where they are providing instruction.

Posts here are nothing without photos, so here are some unrelated, "Mama, Mama take a picture of this," shots.

A2 built these by himself and is very proud.  Never mind the unwashed, chlorine fried hair:

These belong to A1 but he wanted me to capture them without their maker in the shot:

09 September 2012

Progress...

What has become of the world?  I was reading an article on The New York Times site by The Associated Press and in the first 3 short paragraphs, there were 2 typos.  And this was not some fluffy lifestyle article--it was a piece on the attacks by insurgents in Iraq.  I'm sure more errors abounded in the rest of the article, but I had to click away. 

Teenagers' texts and Facebook book posts almost require creative destruction of language, but an AP article in the NYTimes?!?

I'm not an altogether unhip person.  I understand why the boys are not being taught cursive writing in school (I have such fond memories of those penmanship lessons!), but will grammar be the next to fly out the window? 

Unrelated photos of the boys follow.  As we approach Fall, it's been getting darker and darker for after-dinner swims.  I love the second shot when the boys finally noticed the low hanging moon and just stood there, marveling at it and discussing its oddness with each other.