Friday, December 19, 2008

Mission Free

Okay, forget what I said about loving that mission project. After a few hours wielding a hot glue gun and tending to the emotional needs of a stressed out 9-year-old with a project deadline looming over her head I'm ready for some serious fun. Why did I stop drinking? That's right, too much fun. Good thing I saw the light at 26.

This week saw a 6-hour field trip to a nearby mission complete with foot-stomping-in-a-mud-pit to make adobe bricks (brrrrr!); several major tests; two class parties and a class trip to an ice rink; regular class assignments. AND THE DUE DATE OF THE MISSION REPORT! Pity the poor parents who have a few fingers in school activities, prepare for Christmas holidays and try to breathe at the same time. How many days left until Christmas, anyway?

Danny has been listening to a CD called "The Sleep Fairy" at bedtime. I just heard the opening words. "Hi, Sweetie, it's me, the Sleep Fairy." Someday years from now I'm gonna try the phrase on him and see if he konks out.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nothing Wrong with my Brain

According to the MRI, there is nothing wrong with my brain. Wonderful news that is, isn't it?

After Christmas I will head on down the specialist trail to learn the cause of the headaches, cognitive goofiness, balance problems. Anyone dealt with thyroid issues after breast cancer treatment? An endocrinologist may hold the answer.

I'm giving myself the gift of No Worries for Christmas. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go wrap your present. (Hint: I tend to give what I like receiving.)


Painting the Mission

In some weird moment of teaching wisdom it was decided that scheduling the Big Mission Project of Fourth Grade should occur the uber hectic week before Christmas break. We're on top of it, of course. The model is glued and awaiting paint and things; the almost-final draft has been typed and just needs a final check, the bibliography and TOC; cover page art is percolating in the 9-year-old girl's brain. Hey, it's only Wednesday morning. We have hours to go.

Last night I encouraged Gracie to go on to bed and let me give the foam model a little "wash" of adobe-colored paint. Maybe a test of trim color. Nothing too much, there'd be plenty for her to do. She agreed, perhaps a bit reluctantly. At last, this homework supervision aspect of parenthood is paying dividends. I kept my involvement to a primer coat of custom, creamy brick tempera with darker tan edging on the window and door trims to reflect aging. Added a chocolate brown running strip below the roofline. Will wait to consult with Grace on the roof color.

Umm, really, I held back. She gets off today at 12:30 and we'll work together then. The bells need to be affixed, nests built and swallows attached, cemetery fence painted, grass and trees landscaped, farm critters arranged...

Two hours, thirty minutes and counting. I will not go near the paint, glue or supplies. Need a hobby, need a hobby, need a hobby...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Life is (almost) a Dog Park

I used to think life was a playground. You know, there were bullies in pinstripes and ball hogs in pumps. In a corner would be the fair play buddies, the sunshine sisters smiling in all weather, the go go guys running their sweat-dripping games. No more. Now I really believe life should be a dog park.

We spend 6 or 7 hours a week at a nearby dog park with Puppy Face, "we" being me, son and daughter and Puppy Face being the year old Roscoe, half German Short Hair Pointer and half French Bulldog. People watching has nothing on dog watching. The subtleties of the canine social gathering is an intricate weave: the give and take, nip and bump, bark and growl, tug and push. Roscoe is a regular in the 4-6 pm bunch. He's the happy guy, a runner who delights in being the fastest. He's sleek and beautiful to watch when he races against another sprinter, or glances over his shoulder to see the pack chasing him. A pitbull owner described Roscoe as an undercover bulldog, since he looks mostly pointer but will growl when his boundaries are being encroached. Confident, not arrogant. He never tires and rarely wants to head home. I scoop his 40 pound body up and walk him out, with him riding my hip and mouthing his squishy ball like a pacifier.

The dog park has all kinds. Jake is the shepherd mix who has been known to start fights. He's come a long way, I heard, thanks to the work his owner devoted to him. Roscoe outran Jake's nips and learned quickly to neutralize his aggressive body language; a week ago I saw Roscoe try to get Jake to play tug.

Duke, a 70 pound Rottie a few months younger than Roscoe, is one of his best friends. They greet each other with face licks. Before Roscoe developed a great affection for the squishy ball (he carries it continuously at the park) he used to play tug with Duke. A piece of rope would work, and often Roscoe would be the one to offer an end to Duke. Despite their mismatched sizes, Roscoe held his own; he's 40 pounds of solid bulldog MUSCLE. The complete delight of two dogs testing their strength against each other compels humans to stand still, watch and smile.

Yesterday a new bloodhound showed up. Lucy is a referee. Whenever another dog became a little too pushy or crossed some canine line in the sand she would let loose with a string of deep baying reprimands. Lucy approached the offending dog while talking, loudly; even Jake backed down with a slightly irritated look on his face. Lucy was either irreproachable in her reasoning or simply too annoying to argue with on the matter.

Honesty is a common language in the dog park. A dog might not like another dog; they will communicate that in various ways, in varying degrees, and if they can't avoid each other or resolve the problem they'll escalate it until it is resolved. Few dogs carry around hurt feelings or nurse grudges for long. Not at the dog park. Take me to the dog park.

Will the other dogs play with me, I wonder?