We are going to the inauguration. Leaving Friday, staying in Columbus overnight--where we plan to see A Blogger You Know and Love and her family--arriving in DC on Saturday.
We have no plans to do anything in particular, as far as events go. But we do have plans to stay with Aunts Nancy and Laurel and just spend some quality time with same, while popping our heads out their Capitol Hill/Eastern Market door now and then to hear the roar of the crowds.
We will wander about on foot as far as they'll let us with a stroller and just take in the vibe. I do hope we will be near a jumbotron for the swearing in so Nat can see that. Maybe even squint into the distance and catch a glimpse of the live action, too. (At the first Clinton inauguration, we watched the thing squinting into the distance. We stood next to those with tickets, with only a rope between us and them. They didn't have seats either. I am betting that this time, too, we will do as well as we might have done with tickets.)
We are not planning to go anywhere that requires a security check (stood in line for two hours to hold a protest sign at the first GWB inauguration parade, can't imagine how long the lines for such things might be this year).
Nevertheless, I imagine the jubilant throngs of humanity will make a lasting impression on Nat and she can remind Selina about it too. I will take interesting photos and probably post them at Strollerderby, so check us out over there, starting Sunday, okay?
And when we get back, remind me to tell you all about our wonderful new church!
That is Selina's new battle cry. She runs behind Nat, arms outstretched, squeaking "metoo! metoo! metoo!"
It is adorable beyond words.
Love of Big Sister is gonna be the end of that kid, though, I tell you. Yesterday, Nat was running around the hardwood floors in socks, slipped and sort of belly flopped onto a (luckily) carpeted part of the floor. She survived, picked herself up and commenced to running again. Selina, having watched the whole thing, immediately launched herself--squealing with delight--face-first onto the part of the carpet where Nat had fallen. Then she giggled "Uh-oh!" scrambled up and did it again.
Selina is, shall we say, more physical than Nat was at this age? Than Nat is now?
Meanwhile, babysitter, J, the one whose name Selina chants like a mantra at all times, whether he is present or not (she is head over heels in love), is teaching Nat to play Go. I have no idea what it is, but J. is all into it, like crazy and he has been reading up on how to teach it to wee snappers. He told me that "all the really successful professional Go players started when they were, like, 3 or 4." I asked him if Nat could afford to keep me in the posh rest home in Honolulu to which I want to become accustomed in my dotage on a professional Go salary. He told me professional Go players make between $100,000 and $million a year, depending on how many tournaments they win.
"Carry on, good man!" I told him. Even Supreme Court justices need hobbies, right?
Nat, on her own, is reading things like "Daddy says we're going to grow vegetable soup." (Yes, from the book, wherein she also read "zucchini squash" which I can barely read myself) and "If you go outside today, be sure to take your umbrella."
I think she gained about a semester's worth of reading levels in about the past two weeks and I don't know how it happened.
Yeah, I'm bragging. Sorry, I can't help it. The kid positively blows me away.
Born Saturday at the National Zoo, a critically endangered Western Lowland Gorilla. I can really identify with the mom, can't you? Doing everything one-handed and going "okay that that's enough pulling my hair..."
One of the main reasons we want to home school is that we figure we'll never find a school with a curriculum we like, with any decent number of children of color, for tuition we can afford.
Except we just did.
We found a Montessori school near us that actually has a serious commitment to diversity and it's working. There are at least 2 or 3 African American kids per 15-20 kid class, and lots more non-Black kids of color, too.
The curriculum is classic Montessori, which I mostly like. I like the multi-age classrooms (each "level" incorporates 3 years), the individualized "work plans" for each student, the complete absence of grading (quarterly anecdotal reports) and the physical classroom space. What sometimes squicks me a little about Montessori is the emphasis on orderliness and the idea that there is One Right Way to do everything. But this particular school (we went for a private tour) seems to have a flexible enough attitude not to be too awful about that. I do like the emphasis on respecting the materials and each other and tidying up after yourself.
I wish Montessori didn't insist on calling everything the children do "work." I realize this was Maria Montessori's way to emphasize the importance of children's play, I just wish we could respect play, as play and not call it work. But that's kind of a semantic issue and I can get over it.
I am also not ready for Nat to be in a full-time school and don't think I will be for a long time. This program is three hours/five days. We might very well skip Fridays on a regular basis, if she goes, since Friday is usually "yea! Cole-mom is home, let's hang out with the family all together" day and Nat did so terribly when asked to just spend 45 minutes tap-dancing on Fridays last Fall.
If she goes, it will be in the Fall when she's four and a half. I am telling myself it's okay, because I am getting roughly this many hours of baby sitting, now, so it will still give me plenty of time to do all the same home school things I do now (or plan to do this spring, after not being able to keep on top much last fall during all our moving and settling).
Nat would get two full years of part-time before she went into the 6-9 year-olds class for an 8am-3pm day. I don't know how I feel about 8am-3pm days for a 6-year old. Maybe we can keep taking Fridays off or something, if we decide to do this school at that point. And Nat's birthday is in February, so she'll be fully six and a half then.
But this brings me to money. We can afford the half-days, as the money for that is slightly less than I'm paying for baby sitting now. The trouble is, we'd still need some baby sitting, because of Selina. But not as much. And the nice thing is I can spend the time when Nat is in school (and Selina isn't with a sitter) hanging out with Selina so she can get her own good strong home education going between now and 4 if we do this same thing with her.
I'm also reminding myself that we can not go to the 6-9 year old class if we don't want to or it doesn't seem like the best decision (or we can't afford the full-time tuition, the very same year Selina would be starting to do the 3-6 year old half days). I had been pleased to learn that school is not compulsory for kids until 7 years old in Illinois, and was thinking seven would be the first time I'd even consider school, but probably wait until nine. We could, theoretically, bring her home again for the 6-9 years and send her to the third level ("upper elementary" they call it) at nine and a half.
On the other hand, the Montessori place is small, with a 1:10 teacher:student ratio and it follows a lot of the same philosophy that attracts me to home schooling. Its weaknesses are music and physical education, but we'd have time (in the half-day years, anyway) to keep Suzuki and church choir and capoeira in our plans. I don't want us to be rushed and stressed and over-scheduled when Nat is only six, because she's in school full-time and trying to cram in "extracurricular" things. The school does keep to a half-hour homework limit after the kids hit the 9-12 year old class, so that bit seems reasonable.
We will apply for the fall and see what we see. I do think Nat will really enjoy it. It's totally up her alley. She will thrive with the freedom to explore the room and choose what she wants to do, and she will enjoy playing with the same other kids--at a range of ages--every day. I think she'll handle that "One Right Way" to do everything without getting a perfectionist or compulsive hang up, like some kids definitely do. I just hope she doesn't get bored with the One Way, or if she starts inventing her own ways, they let her. Because that's how she is. When she finishes out the learning curve for something, she complicates it. Most commonly, she complicates it by turning it on the adult who's trying to "teach her" and tries to teach the adult. "What sound does B make?" she'll ask "b-b-b" I'll say "Good, Mama Shannon, I'm so proud of you!" she'll praise.
Can't you just see her doing that with the counting beads to her Montessori teacher?
I saw it and thought "wow, he really is Black. And he's our president. We really have a Black president!" and got teary all over again.
Almost as amazing, the fact that he really is poor--or grew up that way. He really is just a person--an amazingly talented, incredibly gifted, fabulously lucky person, but a guy you might have bumped into ten years ago on the bus. In fact, since moving to Chicago, it's amazing how many people I have met who have their basic "bumped into Obama on the bus" stories.
I forget, because he looks so presidential behind podiums, etc. But standing next to all those other guys? It really looks like change, doesn't it?
Several readers were outraged at the photo and it was eventually replaced by a less disturbing one of a child gazing at some rubble.
Let me back up and tell you the process behind my decision to post the photo, knowing it would disturb some people.
Last night, while browsing for morning news, I could no longer avoid the fact that the events in Gaza are the leading story of every news outlet I use--t.v., radio, newspapers, online magazines, etc. The Guardian's headline "'I looked back and saw three of my children, dead'" was the last straw.
I felt that after a week of avoiding this story at Strollerderby, I couldn't do so any longer, in good conscience, seeing as it is the global story of the week. And as a mother, I couldn't stand reading any more about the deaths of civilians--many of them women and children--without drawing attention to the problem, given my ability to speak to a large audience of parents, whose heart-strings would probably be just as tugged as mine by this news.
I used the picture because I know all too well how words like "nearly 600 civilian deaths" can be skimmed over with a tut-tut and left sitting. A photo of babies killed in violence that has nothing at all to do with them? Of mourning family members? That was something that I felt would call out to people as loudly as the Guardian headline had called out to me.
So I posted the picture knowing it might get me in some trouble with readers and it did. But there are too many mothers who don't have the luxury of looking away. Those babies deserve to be properly mourned by us all--not skimmed over in pursuit of something funnier or cuter.
Here's how that went. I sold the full-skirted black one and about broke even on all the listing fees and on the shipping. I sold the short one with the gold sleeves, but the buyer turned out to be some flakey teenager and she never paid me. So I got rid of one dress for no profit and I ended up, after all this time having to move the rest of those silly dresses to Chicago.
Yesterday, in a bit of browsing for good Strollerderby stories, I came across this charity that provides prom dresses to local high school girls who can't afford to buy new ones. I immediately boxed up my remaining dresses (plus a couple of others I have recently--ahem--outgrown) and mailed them off to the Glass Slipper Project. It happens to be a Chicago-area organization, but you can donate no matter where you are. They take dresses, shoes, handbags, makeup (only new, unopened makeup) and other formalwear "necessities" for girls who want to attend prom.
Full disclosure: I never went to a prom until I chaperoned one while teaching high school. I never wanted to attend a prom. At my all-girls' high school, prom would have meant a big expenditure of hard-earned money for a date with someone's cousin and an evening of music the majority of girls at my school (very much not my friends and I) thought was cool in 1988.
My friends all decided to throw an "alternative prom" instead. We did "bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish" to determine the prom queen and I won, after the contest got narrowed to my best friend and me, and when I got to call the number of bubble gum pieces, I quickly counted in my head to determine if odds or evens would win and called it. So I cheated my best friend out of prom queen, you could say.
The king was one of four males in attendance, and my favorite high school teacher. So that was fun.
But just because prom is not my bag doesn't mean it isn't perfectly legit for prom to be some other girl's Biggest Event Ever. And that other girl deserves to be a queen in her own right, so give early and give often to the Glass Slipper Project, folks!