Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Good day to fly

Off to New Jersey. Seat near the front. Window. No one next to me. Starbucks in belly. It's a good day to fly.
(Trying not to miss my bug and my hub.) (Failing miserably.)

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Soccer Soccer Soccer

I'm as surprised as anyone that I'm totally digging this Soccer Mom role.  But digging it I am.

I've also become the de facto team photographer.  I see the other moms with their little point & shoots with the crappy zooms and the slow shutter speeds and the delay and I think, "No way, man. Someone's gotta get this decently.  It's too good to not capture!"  What began as an effort to get some shots of my kid playing has evolved into a mission to get good images of every girl on our team playing.

Since most of ya'all only care about seeing pix of Zozer, though, that's what I'll post here.  A little sampling.

It's seriously eating into my free time, though.  Tonight I reviewed the 728 images I shot at today's game alone, and edited 102 for posting to my secure Flickr account.  Yesterday I took 701 shots and wound up with 77 to share.  (Game yesterday the reschedule from being rained out last Sunday.)

I hope we don't have any more two-game weekends.  Holy smokes.  I didn't even play and I'm tired!

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Saturday, September 24, 2011


Zozer and I went to see my Gran this morning.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall goodness

After work I raced home and changed into jeans, a long sleeve shirt, and a jacket.  And for kicks, I wound my new, way-too-long-softest-material-ever scarf around my neck.  Then I walked up to church/school to watch my kid play soccer and my husband coach.

Perfect fall night.  I sat with the other parents on cold aluminum bleachers, exchanging stories about school and kids and work and pets and all that stuff parents of kindergartners have in common. Soccer moms and soccer dads and soccer girls.

And then the three of us, our little family, piled into M's car for the short ride home to potato soup with crackers and warm baths to take the chill off.  Zoe and I tried to get dinner out, even trying the whole "democratic vote" trick.  I could tell M was beat, though, and just wanted a quiet night at home with his girls.  And so home we went, and it was really, really good.  As usual, he was right.

I'm excited about fall.  There are lots of good things in the fall.  My nephew's football games.  Zoe's soccer games.  Getting to know the other kindergarten parents and becoming part of a new community.  Trips to New York and France in the offing, and a personal trip to northern California where I'll be immersed in all things photography with incredible women who share my passion.  Caramel apples.  Pumpkin patches.  M is working on this year's Christmas display - and the boy is outdoing himself to such a degree that I'm really not sure he'll ever be able to top it.  I mean, the shit he's working on is so freaking fantastic that even I can't wait for the holidays.  Which is good because Zoe spontaneously broke out into the Jingle Bells chorus this morning.

I signed up for the Worldwide Photo Walk again this year.  Did it a few years back, but since then my photo buddy moved to Chicago (and now Kansas City) and I got busy with work, and frankly, I just forgot about it.  But this year someone is leading a group in the small community adjacent to mine (the last time I participated we walked in downtown STL) and I thought, "Hell, I have a new photo buddy now."  I'm taking Zozer!  However, the girl has some serious equipment deficiencies with her Fischer Price camera.

I dug out our little Nikon point & shoot that we purchased right before we had her.  The thought was that it would be our "diaper bag camera," we'd always have with us to document our new life.  It worked fairly well for that purpose, but more often than not I chose to go ahead and lug the D100 (then replaced by the D300) for the flexibility it gave me.  I still get insanely frustrated by the shutter lag on point & shoots.  Then I scored the iPhone and the P&S became virtually unneeded.  I'd clean off the card and charge it up for some of M's international travels, but even he eventually moved to shooting primarily with his cell phone.  The Nikonette sat dormant for many, many months.

I debated giving it to Zoe.  It's not very complicated, but it's a nice piece of equipment.  Then I realized that the girl has practically grown up with an iPhone and an iPad, and many other fairly complex and expensive items, and we've never had an issue.  So I dug it out, cleaned off the card and charged it up.  I showed her once how to use it, and she's been off to the races.  The flash is much more powerful than the one on her kiddy camera, so I've found myself walking around with bright spots in my vision a lot lately, and the poor cats are probably nearly blind.  But she loves it, and her photographs are of higher quality, and she's taking very good care of it.  So we're set for our upcoming Photo Walk!

Oh, and another thing I'm loving about fall?  Well, this fall, in particular...

We've officially retained an architect.  Squeeeeeeee!

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

With the lights out, it's less dangerous

For me, as I'm sure it is for many of you, there is some music that instantly transports you back in time.  Maybe it's a seminal moment in your life, or maybe it's just really fond memories.

This morning, on the way into work, NPR did a story on the upcoming anniversary of Nirvana's sophomore album, Nevermind.  Otherwise known as The Anthem of My Generation.  It turns 20 on Saturday.

Twenty years.  Twenty f*cking years since Nevermind hit the airwaves.  Holy crap.

Twenty years ago I had just graduated from high school and was experiencing the heady days of freshman year of college. Which consisted mainly of meeting new people, laughing my ass off, and alas, Sig Nu After Hours.  Needless to say, studying was not high on my list of priorities which doubtless contributed to my demise as a future engineer.

Sigma Nu was the fraternity across the street from my sorority.  I adored the boys there.  They did things like make their pledges take turns being sober drivers on party nights and invite us over for a formal dinner (prepared and served by them) every once in awhile.  (It backfired one year, though, when they invited us over the week after St. Pat's and, too late, realized that all the salad dressing was still green from their run of dying everything edible - and not - kelly green to celebrate.  Not too appetizing, guys.)  They also did things like drag crappy couches out to the front lawn of their house to yell across the street during our rush parties, loudly "rating" the girls hoping to pledge my house.  I longed to be with them instead of going through sorority rush antics designed to make us all look like idiots.  I was a Sig Nu little sis, and I learned quickly that the longstanding tradition of After Hours parties on Wednesday night meant that you made sure to not register for an early Tues/Thurs class.

So when I hear "Smells Like Teen Spirit," or "Lithium," or "Come As You Are," I am 18 again.  Moving through Sig Nu's concrete and vinyl basement (designed specifically to be easily hosed out the morning after parties - very smart move) looking for friends and the vintage bathtub on casters that held iced beer, "tea," or jello shots, depending on the night.

And I think to myself, "Damn, that was twenty years ago?"

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I'm seeing images everywhere again.  This is refreshing, and a relief.  I'm reading a book called Why People Photograph, and just last night I read an essay that discussed artists losing their way, and those who get so lost they never make it back.  That is one of my biggest fears.  I go through dormant periods like anyone, but at those times I become passionately afraid that the dormancy will last forever and my gear will grow dusty, and someday I will have to just throw it all out (because digital gear, as we all know, goes vintage about 30 seconds after you pay for it).  And when that happens there will be a giant hole in who I am.  And how on earth would I fill that?  It's been a part of my life for so long now, is there anything that could even replace it?  Thinking about this gives me the willies.

But it's back now, which means I haven't lost it yet, and for that I'm grateful.  It's back just in time for me to capture Zoe's new experiences of kindergarten and soccer, and my nephew's football games (at which the above was taken...my niece ambling down the bleachers while looking for her brother on the field).  It's back just in time for me to really experience Camp Shutter Sisters, which is a month away.  It's back just in time for me to stop worrying already, and just shoot.

I once was lost, but now am found.  Was blind, but now I see.
-John Newton

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Waiting for the Train

Every year, on Zoe's birthday, we go to the Zoo.  I worried that the tradition would end this year with her being in school and all, but we just went later in the day when she got out at 3.

Every year, on Zoe's birthday, we've taken the same picture of her at the Zoo.  I'm not sure how this started, but it did, and now the Red Rocks station holds a special place in our heart.

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Down and out

Got the call over lunch to go pick up my girl at school.  She made it a half day, and then just couldn't go anymore.  We figured something was wrong this weekend when she got up Saturday morning, ate breakfast, and went back to bed.  She never, ever does that.  Sunday was a lazy day around the house, and while she didn't quite seem herself, she did seem much improved.  This morning she was nearly 100%, but I think kindergarten just wore her out faster than normal.

When I entered the nurse's office, Zo was sitting on a small, paper-covered bench in a side room, looking forlorn.  She didn't even perk up when she saw me.  She just crawled into my arms, sighed heavily, and laid her head on my shoulder.  Poor baby.

She spent two hours in bed once I got her home, then rested on the couch and watched Monsters, Inc.  She absolutely loves that movie.  She thinks it's hilarious that the monsters are afraid of little kids, and cracks up laughing when they scream.  I worked in the office, laughing too, hearing scream-giggle-scream-giggle.

She's home tomorrow, too, as her slight fever warrants a day off.  Can't go back until she's fever-free for 24 hours.  Her teacher told me something is going around and it's taking about five days to get over.  If Saturday was her first day, we've got three down and two to go.  She should be recovered just in time for soccer practice.  Priorities, you know.

Tonight is quiet.  Zozer is asleep, and M is watching the Rams game at a local pub with the other kindergarten dads.  I'm editing photographs, and listening to the crickets chirp outside.  And an owl!  For the first time since we've lived here, I hear an owl hooting.  I don't think he's real close, but I can hear him and that makes me happy.  If our air conditioner worked, our house would probably be closed up tight and I'd miss it.  There really is good in nearly everything.

Pix tomorrow!  After months and months of feeling like I lost my sight, I'm finally getting it back.  Wanting to capture Zoe's soccer games put the camera back in my hands, and that's pretty much all it took.  Plus a new backpack that holds both my gear and my Macbook.

Working from home tomorrow, while keeping an eye on my sweet Zozer.  I'm cursing the day M threw away my deep fryer.  When I was a little girl and I stayed home sick from school, my mama always made me toasted ravioli.  We'd snuggle up in bed and eat t-ravs and watch corny daytime TV and laugh.  Love.

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My little view

Saturday night we went to a birthday party for a family friend's 10-year-old daughter.  Double digits means, apparently, that one is too sophisticated to play with mere children.  At past parties, Zoe was snatched from her parents and sucked into the world of free-spirited play with all the cousins of this large, loving family.  Expecting much the same this time, I took her hand and climbed the steps to the playroom, where two of the girls had hidden from the boring adults.  As soon as we entered the room, I felt the chill as they stopped talking and looked at us.  I ignored it.  "Hi!  Would you guys mind if Zoe played up here with you?"

They stammered and stuttered and looked at each other, and it became quickly apparent that they wished to play alone, thankyouverymuch.  One of them fetched a small container of My Little Ponies and thrust it into Zoe's hands.  "Here.  Do you like My Little Pony?  You can take this downstairs and play." and with that we were summarily dismissed.

Thankfully Zoe is still too young to be insulted by this.  I, however, was upset on her behalf.  I realize kids will be kids, and they don't know Zoe all that well, and she's a mere 6 years old compared to their worldly 10ness, but still.  One should be gracious and accommodating to one's guests, regardless of one's personal preferences.  So Zoe and I and her grandmother sat on the floor downstairs, in the middle of the adult segment of the party, and played My Little Pony.  One of the moms figured out what was going on and, despite my entreaties to let it lie, charged upstairs to rectify the situation.  Nothing changed, but I'm glad she recognized the inherent lack of courtesy.

This is what I want to ensure my daughter never does.  I want her to foster a spirit of inclusion, not exclusion.  I want her to be open-minded and fair and...well...courteous.  We are still watching our Little House DVDs, and the current episode is dealing with tensions between White People and Injuns.  Whether it's racial tension and misunderstanding between cultures, or a basic sense of entitlement, it all comes down to common courtesy and respect.  People are different, be it because of their skin color or their economic status or their age or level of education.  Some folks don't believe in Jesus, some do.  Some don't believe in God, and some subscribe to a religion with no particular godhead but that states people should just be kind to each other.

I think there's enough room in this world for all of us, and that everyone will be a lot happier if we are just courteous to each other.  That means opening the door for folks who have their hands full.  It means driving as though there are other people on the road.  It means hanging up the damn phone or taking a break from texting to be with the people right in front of you.  Be in the moment, this moment.  And recognize that our differences are to be celebrated, not reviled.  This world would be a pretty crappy, boring place if we were all perfectly alike.  I much rather enjoy learning about what makes us all different, and accepting those differences rather than judging them.

Given all this, though, I still don't get the idea behind My Little Pony.  I mean, really?  Horses don't come in pastel colors with cute designs on their flanks.  It's just not natural.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

What kind of day has it been

A day packed with experiences and sights. Joy and tears. A goodbye and a reunion.
It was a good day, well lived and felt deeply.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dinner for one

I had no dinner plans tonight. It was heavenly.
Normally I go out with colleagues. This is always very good, in that I get to know people with whom I work. But sometimes, after a long couple days packed with meetings, I just want to eat quietly and maybe enjoy a glass of wine. That rarely happens.
I went to an Italian place right across the street from my hotel. First time there, but won't be the last. Mmmmm. Yummy.
Back at the hotel, in jammies and in bed. And it's not even 8:30! Bliss.
Missing my girl and my M like crazy though. Can't wait to get home tomorrow.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's raining, it's pouring, the airport is boring

Waiting for my 8:10 to KC. Tried Business Select this time - no security wait and boarding #A5! Also learned to look ahead and find the lane without the damn full-body scanner. I don't care about the scan...I'm all for safety and security. I'm just sick of being scanned every dang time I fly.
I read an article recently about the airport of the future. There will be three lanes, one for those who have been thoroughly vetted and who are frequent travelers. Those folks won't be stopped and made to go through all this hassle. The airport of the future can't come soon enough.
Leaving STL with a clear desk, having stayed up last night to pay and file bills, balance the checkbook, etc. I'm not sure why that makes me feel easier about traveling, but it does. What does not make me feel better is the sobbing from Zozo the night before. Thin little arms encircle my neck and I hear, "Mama! I don't want you to go to Kansas City!" It's a verbal knife in the gut. Poor M, he tries so hard to make it better: "Hey! Knuckle-bump! Daddy-Daughter time! Mom's gonna miss all the fun. We're gonna have a blast!" At which she sobs harder.
It's only because Mom is the parent who, after a long, hectic day and faced with the daunting prospect of making dinner, says, "Hey...wouldn't it be great to have Cheerios for dinner?!" whereas Daddy is the responsible parent who ensures our family eats healthy, balanced meals. Everyone knows Cheerios for dinner is way more fun than a nice piece of salmon with fresh green beans, fruit and yogurt.
This trip to KC is at least blessedly short, as they usually are, and its main purpose is to say goodbye to my French boss. After a decade in the States, he's being called home to corporate HQ in Libourne. I'll still work for him, but we all know everything changes when you're across the ocean versus across the state. He's adorably French, and a fantastic leader. I will miss him.
Other meetings scheduled up the yingyang, of course. The days will fly by. Pun intended!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Our girl

This just makes me happy, so I thought I'd share.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Kindergarten Soccer: Game 1

Well, yesterday we had our first game of the season.  Lots of fun, lots of laughing, and a few boo-boos, one incurred before the game even began when cleats on concrete caused a face-plant and some pretty horrific looking road rash all down the side of a cute little face (not Zozo's).  After some quiet time in the car with her mom, the little girl manned up and played the entire game.  Rock star.  They all looked so adorable in their uniforms.  The shorts were all way too large, even though they were size "small."  They were more like soccer skorts, I guess you could say, since they looked like they were wearing skirts.

We learned something new about kindergarten soccer yesterday.  Or, to clarify, about the competitive nature of kindergarten soccer.  Our school, about a month and a half ago, said, "Hey, lookee there...we've got enough girls for two teams!" And then we pretty much randomly split 'em up based on a philosophy of, "We've met you once or twice, and our girls seem to get along, so yeah, you should be on our team."

Go Team!
Our competitors did things a little differently.  They apparently evaluated their girls and created teams based on skill level and experience.  Then they scheduled multiple pre-season practices and even a tournament to get some experience.  This resulted in yesterday's match being akin to me and my preschool mommy friends taking on the US Women's World Cup team.  While we are indeed some badass preschool mommies, there are just certain areas that aren't our strong suits.

Who had fun?
However, since M's primary goal is to ensure all our girls have a good time, and counts that as a win, I'd say the game was a resounding victory.  After the last whistle had blown, M gathered his team around, told them how proud he was of them, and asked a couple questions.  "Who is tired?"  Little hands shot up in the air.  "Okay, good.  That means you had fun, right?  Who had fun?"  Again, lots of hands were raised.  "And who will come play with us on Thursday, at practice?"  All the girls affirmed that yes, he still had a team and yes, they'd be there Thursday.  Then we fed them Rice Krispy treats and juice boxes just to be sure.

    The final score of 5-0 would have been drastically worse had it not been for a tough little girl named Anna, who fearlessly charged the ball and then fell on it countless times to prevent the competition from scoring.  M's taken to calling her The Wall, and I think it fits.  Anna has an older brother who plays soccer, and it's quite apparent she's been blocking his kicks for awhile so some Amazon kindergartners comin' at her weren't no big thang.  How did M know to place Anna in the goal?  Well, before the game started Anna ran up to him and said, "I wanna be goalie!"  M replied, "Well, I just happen to need a goalie, so that works out just fine."  Done.  Kid knows her strengths.

    How many players do we have?
    M was in the thick of things, as kindergarten soccer coaches are allowed to run the field with their teams.  He knew every whistle blow before it happened, save for one.  When that happened, he looked around quizzically, and I could see the "WTF?" on his face as he faced the ref.  "Too many players on the field."  "Huh?"  He whipped around to look at the sidelines, and assistant coach Bill did likewise as he said, "I didn't substitute anyone!"  Well, further inspection showed a completely empty sideline, devoid of girls in blue and gold.  Our three extra players had gotten bored and decided to join the fun on their own.  Oops.

    My child really, really likes to try cartwheels on the field.  And sometimes she prefers to skip rather than run.  She's not the only one.

    Parent Tunnel
    After the game, our parents rushed the field and made a tunnel with their arms for our girls to run through.  The other team ran through as well, but that's okay.  The whole thing was so freakin' cool.  We have a great team, in both the players and the parents.  This season is going to be amazing.  I am thrilled to be a soccer mom, and a coach's wife.

    I made a ton of photographs, the final selection of which is up on a private Flickr page.  If you'd like to see them, private message me and I'll get you hooked up.  I can't post many of them here because their uniforms say their school names on the front.

    She didn't fall.
    This was to amuse herself while waiting to play.

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    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Honor through helping

    Ten years ago, I worked at the American Red Cross.  I was a measly little marketing specialist, doing my part to help my chapter raise money and awareness so we could help local families impacted by fire and flood, and send out volunteers and supplies to communities hit by natural disasters.  We trained folks in first aid and CPR and how to use an AED.  We helped people be prepared, and even learn how to swim.  Hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes were regular occurrences, and I was proud to work for a large, national organization that could quickly spin into action to help others while doing the daily work of making our communities safer.

    Then, the morning of September 11, 2001, everything changed.

    I was driving into work that morning, listening to NPR.  (Well, some things never change. I still listen to NPR every morning.)  One of the Morning Edition broadcasters noted between stories that an airplane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.  Given the tone, and its insertion between other news stories, I immediately dismissed it as an errant Cessna or other small aircraft simply because nothing else was even remotely imaginable.  A couple minutes later, the reporter came back to report a second airplane had hit the Towers.

    That's when I knew there was something big going on, and my chapter, my organization, would be impacted.  Frustrated with the lack of reporting on NPR, I flipped first to KMOX, then to any station that wasn't playing music.  Up and down the dial, desperately trying to find a station that could tell me what the hell was going on.  No one could say, because no one knew.  I drove faster.

    Then my cell phone started ringing.

    I pulled into our parking lot, talking to whomever it was.  I can't remember who first called me, because it felt like I was on the phone for much of the next six months.  I hit the ground running that morning, much like my colleagues all across the country.  I don't remember many of the details, but a few points stick out.

    We had to assign one person to simply stand and watch the television bank and alert the rest of us when something big had happened.  I will never forget her scream, "The tower is falling!"  It was the one moment that day when we all came to a stop and just watched in horror.

    I couldn't find my husband.  He was traveling, and in Minnesota.  Although he was far away from Manhattan, I couldn't reach him.  Air travel was being canceled, and our world was falling apart, and I couldn't get a hold of him.  My MIL and I stayed in contact throughout that morning, "Did you hear from him?"  "No, did you?"  We tried to keep the panic from our voices, but weren't very successful.  We cried together on the phone, out of fear and with sympathy for the wounds inflicted on our country.  He was deep inside a 3M plant that morning, with no cell phone service and no idea what was happening.  We found that out hours later.

    When the FAA canceled all flights in the U.S. and rental car companies began selling out, M's boss had the foresight to rent him a car immediately.  Without contacting M, without a moment's hesitation, he got my husband a car to ensure he could get home. I will never, ever forget this act of prescient kindness.  The one-way, last-minute rental cost M's company a fortune, and Jeff never batted an eye.  The thing I wanted more than all else was to see and hold M.  Had it not been for Jeff's phone call, it would have been days or even a week before M could have gotten home.

    The weeks after were a blur of activity.  We all went in early and stayed late.  Phone banks and telethons and organizing volunteers and supplies and even our ERV, or emergency response vehicle.  An ERV is basically a box truck with windows in the sides, from which food and supplies are distributed.  We sent three or four volunteers off to New York with one of our two ERVs.  It came back six months later looking as though it had been through a war.  A mirror was missing, and the sides were dented and gashed.

    I would return home each night exhausted mentally and physically.  M wanted to watch the news, catch up on what was happening at Ground Zero.  I was living it every day, for 10 to 12 hours at a time, and couldn't stomach any more once I got home.

    At some point in those harried, hectic months, an asshole politician (okay, I realize that's redundant) in Washington, DC, decided that the Red Cross couldn't possibly be doing anything worthwhile.  We began to be hit with negative media attention and letters from this man that were dozens of pages long and filled with accusations.  Allegations ranged from inappropriate spending on a fancy new phone system and new vehicles to high salaries for our executives.

    We were crushed.  Everyone I knew at Red Cross had been working tirelessly to help our fellow Americans.  The money we used for the "fancy" phone system was actually a much-needed upgrade to our disaster hotline, which had been woefully overwhelmed in the days after 9/11 (the old system actually crashed at one point, which didn't benefit anyone).  The new vehicles were emergency response vehicles, which helped us reach disaster-stricken areas faster and more safely. And I'll be the first person to stand up and say that our executives earned every single penny of their salaries.  They were making a fraction of what they could have commanded in the private sector, and they, like the rest of us, essentially gave up their personal lives to help for months on end.  The stress our leaders carried was evident on their faces and in the graying of their hair.

    The Red Cross fund raising system was logical, to me.  When a disaster happens, you can't wait for donations to come in and accounting to figure it out all out before you respond.  It just doesn't work like that.  When a disaster happens, the Red Cross has to be ready to go.  Command posts are established immediately, supplies and volunteers are dispatched, shelters are set up.  Red Cross volunteers and staff are typically on the scene of a disaster second only to firefighters, police and other professional emergency responders.  All this takes money in the bank.  So, we'd use the money raised from the last disaster to help victims of this disaster.  Then the money raised from this disaster would help the victims of the next.  This is not rocket science, people.  It's the best way to enable an organization be ready 24/7/365 to help.  Actually, it's the only way.

    Well, the asshole politician didn't bother to stop and think about that.  He didn't bother to think for one second that perhaps the organization that had been helping Americans since 1881 had things figured out.  He didn't bother to think that donations raised from a tornado or a hurricane or a flood hundreds of miles away and months before enabled our people to be at Ground Zero within hours, helping our firefighters and police officers and victims.  He just didn't think.  And his actions forever impaired fundraising for US disaster relief organizations.

    This year, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I encourage you to make a financial contribution to the American Red Cross or the disaster relief organization of your choice.  Go donate blood, or time.  I haven't worked there in years, but I will always hold a special place in my heart, and will always be proud of my service and the unwavering dedication of my colleagues.  Do me a favor, when you donate money, don't specify how you want it used.  Trust me, the Red Cross is a good, honest steward of your money.  They know best where it's needed and how to help as many people as possible.  I hope we never experience the likes of 9/11 ever again, but the next natural disaster is waiting in the wings, and the next, and the next, and the next.  Help the Red Cross be ready to respond, ready to help.

    They just might help you, or someone you love.

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    Friday, September 09, 2011

    Angels and demons

    He's taken to calling her "convict," which I think is funny in that she's never even been incarcerated...just, you know, verbally disciplined and now...written up.


    After soccer practice last night, Zoe pulled out her blue "home" folder.  This stays in her backpack and shuttles between school and home, messages and drawings and fundraising info enclosed.  She's gotten into the routine of emptying her blue folder almost first-thing after we get home, which is good because if we don't do it immediately we'll all forget.

    Out of a small stack of papers, she pulled a yellow sheet (the last page of a triplicate form) and brought it forth.  "You're not going to be happy."

    She was right.

    Turns out that the only reason I didn't get a call from the principal two days in a row is that the principal was in a principal's meeting, and was unable to bawl out my kid.  Again.

    Yesterday's crime?  Throwing rocks at the storage shed, repeatedly and without heeding verbal warnings to stop, and then hiding behind said shed, which is most definitely not in the safe play area.


    What's ironic is that the second sheet pulled from her blue folder was her sticker chart.  Full of stickers awarded for good behavior in the classroom.  So.  She's an angel inside, and a little hellion on the playground.

    We talked and talked, and talked some more.  Cried.  Well, sobbed actually.  Discussed how we love her and, in this case, we most certainly do not like her current outdoor actions and choices.  This morning, we wrote a note to her teacher asking for contact and sent it back with the signed yellow paper.  After dropping her off, we parked the car and headed into church for a Welcome Back mass for students and parents.  Kindergartners didn't come in until the end.  It was a lovely way to start the day, especially given the anxiety that goes along with having to sign off on a form saying, essentially, "Yes, I am well aware that my child is exhibiting delinquent behavior."

    After the mass, as we headed into the school for a small parents' reception, we saw Mrs. K, Zoe's teacher.  She offered to meet with us immediately as the children were heading into PE anyway.  Perfect. Another parent was volunteering in the room at the time, so we stood in a small, cramped teachers lounge to talk.  Basically, Mrs. K noticed the same thing we did (one behavior inside, another out), and thinks it stems very much from what we think: she's being influenced by another child who has less-than-stellar behavior.  The other child is in the other kindergarten class, so Zoe only sees her at lunch, recess and aftercare.


    You know, as a mother, the first solution, the easiest solution, that comes to mind is this: limit exposure.  Keep my kid away from the bad seed.  There.  Done.  She goes back to being my sweet, adorable Zozo whom teachers and other parents love.

    But then I realized that by doing that, by sheltering her, I'll never give her the opportunity to learn how to stand up for herself when she knows something is wrong.  She needs to learn how to function in a society where so many bad things happen, and so many choices are given.  She needs to know how to stand up for what's right, always.

    Mrs. K said that they (she, the recess monitor, and the after-care teacher) are watching things, and for now, they'll continue to let them play together.  The hope is that Zoe's "goodness" will rub off on the other child.  I think the chance of this is slim to none, given how I've seen that child behave in other situations.  (It usually takes multiple commands, in increasing volume and tone, and then usually a physical interference to get the child to mind.  And I've seen this repeatedly.)  While I'm not pleased about that at all (my 6-year-old child isn't responsible for transforming someone else's poor behavior or correcting someone else's parenting mistakes), I do want to see if she, ahem, grows a pair and learns to stand up for herself.

    So, for now, we just wait and see.  And talk about how we must do these things:

    1. Don't hide.
    2. Don't throw rocks at the shed.
    3. Mind your elders.
    A friend of ours told us before mass that her college freshman, less than a week into classes, got busted for minor-in-possession.  Great.  So it just keeps getting easier, huh?!


    Wednesday, September 07, 2011

    Our lives, in bullet points

    Hmmm.  Okay.  I think at this point brief (okay, maybe not so brief) bullet points are in order to get us all caught up.

    • We met with another architect firm, have a third interview scheduled for Monday, and a fourth in the wings (I just gotta find the time to call him).  We are quickly determining what we like, and what we don't like.  And it's starting to freak me out a little bit that we're actually going to move forward.  I've been dreaming about this for so long, and had halfway convinced myself that our broken house is what we'd return to after seeing Zoe graduate from college, shaking our heads ruefully and chuckling, "Well, we never quite did get around to rebuilding, did we?"
    • Went to Bowling Green, KY, to celebrate the National Corvette Museum's 17th anniversary.  We saw a Shaker Village (incredible) and a dairy/cheese farm (also very cool) and lots and lots of pretty cars.  Also did a fair amount of damage in the gift shop.  I love these little trips that allow us to be just a couple for awhile.  That's what happens when you have a car that seats only two.  We also laughed a ton, and shared some experiences that we'll laugh about for a long time.  "What would you call that thing she was wearing?"  "Ummm, a muumuu.  And a strapless one at that!"
    • Zoe started soccer, and M started coaching.  She'll do great, and he's a fantastic coach.  Her season starts this Sunday with a 4 p.m. game, and I'm looking forward to that and the rest of the season.  Should be a lot of fun.  She has the most adorable little black and pink soccer cleats, and she runs like the freakin' wind.  While I can't quite believe I'm now officially a soccer mom, I'm pretty excited about it.
    • I submitted one of my photographs to a small national parks competition and achieved honorable mention.  Pretty sure they gave honorable mention status to everyone who didn't earn first, second or third, but still.  I can go on their website and there I am.  This was a big step for me as I don't normally enter my photographs in competitions.  Too afraid of the rejection.  Turns out it ain't so painful.  Private message me if you want the link (can't give it here...have to maintain my Internets anonymity for privacy).
    • At our Corvette Club meeting last night, I was called up to the front of the room and presented with a plaque.  Seems a national organization thinks our newsletter, which I took over editing about 6 or 7 issues ago, was worthy of second place in their national competition (300+ entrants).  Our ambassador had submitted our newsletter, and she learned over the weekend that we placed.  She decided to present me with the award in front of our whole club. It was really, really neat.  I was given the plaque to bring home.  Not sure how long it'll be on display in the kitchen, but for now, I like it there.  In the meantime, I've got some work to do: namely, track down first place and find out what the hell I have to do to beat it next year.
    • Got a call today from Zoe's principal.  I was on a concall when it came...and as I'm sure any parent would, I'll hang up with the Pope if a call from Zoe's school rings through.  At the end of recess, a bell signals the children to line up by their teacher to return inside.  Today, the bell rang, the children lined up, and the teachers led them inside.  A quick headcount showed two little girls missing from the group.  It seems that our daughter, along with another child, decided that instead of lining up, it would be more fun to run and hide.  So they did. Granted, the playground was teeming with first and second grade children, and adult supervisors, so it wasn't particularly hard to hide in plain sight.  She was quickly busted, and the principal told me she laid into them pretty good.  Zozo apparently burst into tears and apologized profusely.  The principal told me that she feels Zoe was "a victim of peer pressure."  Oh, you bet your sweet ass there will be a discussion about this tonight.  I'm not so upset about the hiding as the peer pressure thing.  Girlfriend needs to make her own decisions, whether that involves misbehaving or not.
    • I've been cleaning out the house, and it feels good.  I've been absolutely ruthless.  There have been a few things I've hesitated about...maybe I should keep this...and then I think about having to pack it, move it, move it again, and unpack it, and any sentimentality I had goes right out the window.  The whole house is feeling clean, clear and light.  M keeps commenting about how much he likes the change, and I just feel like I can breathe again.  I should have done this ages ago.
    All in all, life is good.  I'm sure something will come along soon to upset the apple cart, but for now I'm going to enjoy it, and the fine weather that means it's not a big deal that our air conditioning doesn't work.

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