Tag Archives: school

reading, writing and reasonableness

18 Sep

I am pro-school.

Pro-education.

Pro-academia.

Pro-books, college-rule paper, graph paper, poster board, dictionaries, pink erasers, messy desks, atlases, recesses and fresh bottles of Elmer’s School Glue.

I love history, and hate math, like a normal person. I still grimace at the memory of the Presidential Fitness test, in which the only event I could complete with any confidence was the Shuttle Run. (Only recently did it occur to me President Reagan didn’t wake up, do his Chin-Ups, the Sit & Reach and the Shuttle Run before heading over to the Oval Office to keep “Red Dawn” from happening in real life. If he was making us do the Shuttle Run, he should have been doing it too.)

Like you, I took Home Economics, Drama, Band, Journalism, Speech & Debate, Photography and German. And, like you, it turns out I was terrible at some things and pretty good at other things, which I guess, is one of the coolest parts of our shared human experience.

But now I’m grown and don’t remember any German and as my kids will be quick to tell you, very little Home Ec. I have a high school sophomore and a fourth grader which gives us an uncomfortable front row seat to how much school has changed since the olden days, and how it has also weirdly stayed the same.

I never thought though, when I was actively hating Algebra from my graffiti-ridden classroom desk (only minimal graffiti from me) that I would one day get to re-live it through my kids, and hate it all over again, all the while wondering if I should pretend that I love it and use it all the time. “Just the other day, I was trying to figure out how much wall-to-wall shag carpet I would need, while slicing a pie ten ways, and figuring out how many rulers I can buy with 11 cents.”

Somehow, totally objective black and white math is different, having made way for creative thinking and areas of gray; adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing – the terminology is different, the methods are new.

Apparently my 1984 method of multiplying is the Shuttle Run of Math. I haven’t been excited to learn the new stuff, until this week. When the fourth grader unzipped his backpack, pulled out the red homework folder (the folder of doom), and a workbook sheet, simply entitled, “Reasonableness.”

Reasonableness

His assignment and lesson for the day was… Reasonableness.

Johan is selling baseball cards for $.45 apiece. He is selling 8 cards and says he’ll make $32.40

Now, is that reasonable? No, it’s not. Johan is being ridiculous.

I’ve never been more excited about new math! In fact, I think half of a school year could easily be spent on this one topic. The other half can go to state capitals and quiet reading, but September through mid-January? Reasonableness. In fact, more kids should major in Reasonableness, and shoot for the stars, break the glass ceiling and become Doctors of Reasonableness!

Why stop at Reasonableness?

“What do you have 3rd period?”

“Humility. You?”

“Oh, I have Honor.”

“Honors English?”

“No, just Honor.”

“Oh, right, I hear the teacher’s amazing.”

Generosity. Self-Control. Respect. Perseverance. Humor. Spelling for the Texting Generation. Common Sense.

I’ve started planning the curriculum.

Johan has two hours to get his homework done, do his chores, eat dinner, and enjoy some time spent talking to the family who loves him and wants to hear about his day. Knowing homework takes an hour, chores take 15 minutes, dinner usually a half hour, and that his parents love him very much, how much time should Johan budget for Snapchat? No, Johan, not two hours.

Your mom’s had a long day of… laundry? Looking at your baby pictures? Working? Coming up with stuff to bug you about? (Who knows what moms do all day, am I right?) Anyway, she looks more tired than usual. She is holding a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket and a frozen bag of peas. Is it a good idea to say, “Is that what we’re having for dinner?” No, Johan, it is not.

You use the last of the paper in your shared printer. Do you a) alert somebody b) pretend you did not notice and hurry away c) walk the 10 feet to the storage closet, get a fresh ream of paper, and fill the tray? You fill the dang tray, Johan.

Here, let me give you the answers for the next ten questions.

Hold the door.

Give him his money back.

Don’t say anything to her.

Tell him, but in the kindest way possible.

Put gas in the tank.

Write a thank you note.

Manage your expectations.

Take out the garbage.

Invite her to go with you.

Leave the 20% tip.

And don’t forget about the advanced course everybody should aspire to – Reasonableness with Oneself.

It’s been the longest week ever. Your kid, Johan has been a real handful. You haven’t been to the gym, and it feels like forever since you’ve practiced a Shuttle Run. Everybody else makes it to the gym; why can’t you? Everybody else has it together. Why don’t you? Everybody else knows what they’re doing with their life, why don’t you?

Correct Answer: Nobody has it together all of the time, and don’t worry about what those other people are doing. You got a chicken and a vegetable on the table this week, and kept your cool with Johan, and that’s pretty good. Take a nap, watch some TV, and just like, make yourself a really good to-do list for next week. It’s reasonable to assume that next week, is totally your week.

Thanks for reading. If you’re not too busy trying to figure out new math, follow me on Instagram, @colleenweems

my fortune: recycle or compost?

20 Aug

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Every once in a while I threaten to go to graduate school. Each time, my very supportive husband who’s in the midst of getting yet another graduate degree affirms, I could totally go back to school if I wanted to.

“I think I want to go to law school. Do you think I could do it?”

“You could do it. Go for it.

“An MFA?”

“ Why not?”

“An MBA?”

“Sure.”

“Accounting? I always kind of wished I was an accountant.”

“You hate math pretty much more than anything, but if you really feel like that’s what you want to do, I’m sure you could.”

“I think I heard somewhere you can get a Masters Degree in Pop Culture. What about a Ph.D? I could be Dr. Pop Culture. I’ve pretty much already done the research.”

Unfortunately, none of these forays into higher learning would help me in navigating the disposal of our lunchtime waste at one of our fine San Francisco malls.

The trash/recycling/compost complex loomed behind us as the boys and I enjoyed a leisurely lunch of room-temperature poststickers (“there are delicious potsitickers  around the corner from our house! Let’s get conrndogs!” one of us usually argues.) I noticed that since our last mall visit, the recycling powers-that-be or the mall powers-that-be had the bright idea of adding a waste disposal instructional video that was now playing on a loop on a flat screen TV right above the waste bins.

Perhaps they filmed this video after watching security camera footage of our family confused and arguing at the bins about where to put our corndog sticks.

When the potstickers were gone, and the cookies were pillaged for their fortunes, we gathered our mountain of wrappers, utensils, cups, and plates, and stood in line at the waste disposal annex that, I’m pretty sure, occupies the space where Chess King used to be. I looked back and forth from six straw wrapper halves to the examples posted in the display cases above Recycling, Compost, and Trash, or as they call it, “Landfill” to make sure you think three times before you put your cherry lemonade cup in that hole.

The panic set in when I saw the kind of plate I had was not represented on the wall of examples.

“Do I pour the sticky potsticker sauce in compost before I recycle the cup? I have a different fork than the one on the board; mine might be made of potato or corn. We do this fine at home; why is it so difficult at the mall? The mall’s supposed to be fun! What kind of paper is my cookie’s fortune written on? Is it coated?”

“You’re not keeping your fortune?”

“I’ve had enough adventure for one year, thanks. I’m not thrilled that more ‘awaits.’ Anyway, crummy fortunes aren’t covered in this video, and now there’s a line behind us.”

“Mom, I’ve had lots of practice at my new school; we have this same set-up,” said the middle schooler as he adeptly took over. “It took me forever to do this my first day, and there wasn’t a video,” he continued as he buzzed around me in a blur of recycling, “but then it got easier.”

The soon-to-be 2nd grader piped in as he composted his napkins. “My teacher gave me a garbage buddy to help me after lunch on my first day.”

Planet Earth might be happy to know our malls and schools are, at this moment, assigning garbage buddies and hosting a generation of whiz kid Reducers, Reusers, and Recyclers. Just wait until they get THEIR graduate degrees.

*I still do not know which bin the corn dog stick goes in

but that’s my school: the mustang swan song

12 Mar

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Dad called with the news. “They’re closing your school.”

“No. Sierra Gardens? What? Why? No!”

(Sorry, Bears, Trees and Bruins, not that other school of mine you love to hate.)

“They voted… it will close next year.”

“I’m sorry, that’s sad,” John said sincerely when I told him the news, “I still get sad when we drive by my old school.”

John’s long abandoned elementary school is for sure, totally haunted. Lincoln Elementary, brick and forlorn, sits abandoned on the main road in the small Idaho town of his childhood, still sporting a reader board that now says “ead to you ids 20 mins a day.”

John’s high school moved somewhere else too, leaving the hallowed halls he once roamed to become a rock climbing gym or self storage center, or possibly both.

John’s were those cool “inside” schools of John Hughes movies with real cafeterias and giant lockers for winter coats; cool to California kids who were stuck eating outside and with classrooms that opened directly into all that sunshine instead of echoey hallways that probably smelled like sweat and old paper.

During our 15 years of marriage, I had not been terribly sensitive to the fact that those pieces of John’s youth had been summarily shuttered.

Of course I don’t like that my school is closing. Opened in 1957, Sierra Gardens has weathered a lot. Think of all those little Mustangs talking about Nixon, Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and astronauts landing on the moon. We heard about the Challenger disaster in the middle of class, and worried about Russians parachuting down onto the playground, like in Red Dawn.

Whoever voted to close it obviously didn’t scamper down to the creek’s edge, play kickball in the lower flats, or Chinese jumprope outside Room 20.  They didn’t wonder why the basketball courts were always covered in seagulls or  taste Doritos for the first time at their 3rd grade desk. They didn’t learn to spell stuff there, and read stuff, and write cursive without really understanding why a capital cursive Q looks like a 2. They didn’t know which drinking fountains would give barely a trickle or shoot you straight in the eye. They didn’t learn they hate math and love writing and that Shel Silverstein was a genius. They didn’t have a principal with a handlebar mustache or a first grade teacher named Mrs. Beaver.  They didn’t get to be the Student Body Secretary or dutifully wear their Mustang T-Shirt on Spirit Day, or make the friends that I made there.  Nope; because if they did, Sierra Gardens would be getting a historical registry number instead.

My friend Doug wrote a bit in his blog about the liability of being too sentimental; something of which I am terribly, terribly guilty. I am an advocate for change and progress, but a big sap at the same time, which makes for a lot of confusing feelings.

So while I will miss you, I will never forget you Sierra Gardens, even when you are a rock climbing gym or a collection of old building shells with two haunted portables; and I look forward to tapping into my unending supply of your stories to bore my children, and their children, and their children’s children far into the future.

I will not miss the bathrooms though. The bathrooms were gross.

*That photo up there gives you a peek at one corner of Sierra Gardens, circa 1985. That’s me in the grey jacket and the extra bangs cut specifically to cover  my surprisingly normal looking ears. Mostly though, it’s my amazing, quirky, smart, kind, funny, talented class and group of friends from Room 20, whom I am very proud to know then and now. I guess just like a church isn’t the building, a school isn’t either.

check please

5 Oct

Thanks to autumn, good ol’ fashioned check writing is alive and well: school donations, school photos, church camp, hot lunch, fall carnival, wrapping paper fundraisers, magazine fundraisers, cookie dough fundraisers, field trips, sports registration, class party contributions, and most recently, the kindergarten book order.

If you are not currently placing kids’ book orders, it’s likely the same company, and same process from when you were a kid (especially you, Gen X’ers.) It’s a little newspapery thing you get that looks like the Pennysaver, but it’s chock full of kids’ titles at great prices. Ring a bell? You may remember waiting anxiously for your own books to be delivered to class, and when the day finally came, you’d see what your friends got, and you’d look at what you got, and back to what they got. You’d realize that while your friend could look forward to happily thumbing through a nearly wordless print version of the latest greatest cartoon, you were saddled with a Caldecott or Newbery award winner. The gold seal on the front would give it away. Gold seal=serious=thinking.

I wrote out my check, tore it from the newly depleted checkbook, and handed it to our kindergartener to keep track of until he could deliver it.

“Can you please make sure to give this directly to your teacher? It’s a check.”

Blank stare.

“It’s like money.”

The blank stare was replaced by delight with a mildly alarming hint of scheming and wheel turning.

“It’s not money that you can do anything with. It’s a piece of paper that represents money.”

Blank stare followed by, “Why is USC on the envelope?”

“They sent me the envelope so I could send them a check too, for a donation.”

“Why aren’t you sending them the check then?”

“Um, we get a lot of those envelopes, and I will another day, but today it’s for the book order.”

“What book order?”

“I ordered you books from that piece of paper you brought home.”

“Wait…what?”

“I picked a couple of books for you from the paper, and then ordered them, and they need this check.”

“Let me see what you’re talking about,” he said, “I didn’t know about this.” Have you seen your own words and expressions mirrored back at you? It’s disconcerting.

I handed him the flimsy little catalog. He pointed directly to the Star Wars book on the front, “that one.”

“Yes, I saw that, but I don’t think it has words, and you’re learning to read words. Real words! Plus we have a lot of Star Wars books, both with and without words.”  I actually prefer the ones with just pictures, because then Zach doesn’t have to correct my pronunciation as I stumble over Padawan, and Luminara Unduli. (Oh, how I miss Luke.)

“Then that one.”

“The one about Mater?”

“Oh, that’s Mater? I guess not, I’m in kindergarten.”

“I thought this other one looked good – it said that it’s for both of us to read together – one part for you to read, and one part for me to read,” otherwise known as any book ever printed that has more than one sentence.

“Also, this Thanksgiving one,” I continued, trying to erase his skeptical look, “The turkey is looking for disguises. Sounds funny.”

Realizing the Star Wars portion of the discussion was over, he nodded and ran away with the check.

“Get it?” I called after him, “See, he needs disguises because he’s trying to escape Thanksgiving! He’s a turkey! On Thanksgiving! Funny!”

I thought it sounded funny, but once I said the plot out loud, I realized it was also kind of sad, and kind of gross, because next month, I will be eating a turkey who will have likely suffered the consequences of not having the resources to come up with adequate disguises.

We tucked the USC envelope with the carefully completed book order into his backpack. I’d been meticulous because I was thinking of the book order volunteer on the other end of this transaction. I had been the book order lady once, when our oldest was in pre-school. Talk about transactions and high finance…I was the book order person for the whole school! Everybody! 2-year-olds….3-year-olds….4-year- olds….all of them. That’s a lot of “Skeleton Hiccups,” “Brown Bear, Brown Bear…” and “Fancy Nancy. “

A USC football game would be humming along while I sat on our couch in our seminary apartment, sorting through checks and tallying the number of “If You Give a Pig A Pancake” from the order forms.

I’d shove an order form in front of John who was trying to learn Hebrew and watch football, “Hey, do you think this is a two? Or a seven? Do you think they want seven copies of ‘Pinkalicious?’ Two, definitely two. They paid for two. Good, I did not want to have to call them.” But inevitably, I would have to call, and my palms would sweat, because my half of the conversation would go something like this:

“Hi my name’s Colleen and I’m calling about your book order through the Children’s Center? Yes, you ordered from two different catalogs, so I’ll need two checks. Yes, two separate checks. The Dragonfly order form is different from the regular one…yes, I know, it’s complicated. So can I please get two new checks and I’ll give you this one back? I understand that’s three checks for two books totaling $8. I know, I’m sorry, listen, I didn’t make up this rule, but unfortunately, if you’d like me to fill this order for you, I’ll need two checks. No, I’m not threatening you…ok, it’s a dumb, dumb, ridiculous rule, there, I said it…so, you’ll send the checks tomorrow? With your 4-year-old? Perfect.”

welcome class of 2024

16 Aug

The sign hanging on the tree was written in big bubbly blue and gold letters, “Welcome Class of 2024.”

Could this be the place? 2024? This must be a picnic for kids much, much, muuuuch older than my 5-year-old. I glanced around the park, hoping to spot another group.

“What about me, mom?” asked the older one pointing at the sign, “when do I graduate?”

“Give me a minute to do the math even though you were born in 2000 and I should know it off the top of my head.…..2018. You’re the class of 2018.”  That couldn’t be right either; I think that’s when my New York Magazine subscription expires.

We’d pulled up to the kindergarten picnic and mixer a few minutes late, which had not been my intention. Unsure of current kindergarten party etiquette, I was shooting for an on-time arrival, but it took 15 minutes to find the 2024 graduate’s shoes; the black shoes, not the blue shoes, because you only get one shot at making a first impression. (For future reference, 15 minutes seems to be exactly “fashionably late” for kindergarten social events, unlike the 20-30 minute late arrival expected at your standard 3rd or 4th grade mixers.)

There were kids all over the play structure, hovering at the food table, and running off into the trees. I greeted a friend and asked where her son was. “He’s over there in the fort, getting tics.”

None of the kids at the mixer though, seemed to be mixing.

Zach would not leave his dad’s or older brother’s side as much as Jake tried to shake him. A lady by the watermelon pointed at her two boys. That soon-to-be kindergartener had suddenly taken a keen interest in watching over his toddler brother, shooing away any other kids who happened by.

A darling little girl skipped past, and I called Zach over.

“Can you say hi, Zach? This is Maddie…she might be in your class.”

“Uuuuggh!  Mooooooom, Where’s Jacob? What’s he doing? I need to go see him.”

“Wait! Say hi to Maddie! Come back, Zach! Woop, there goes Maddie, too. Nice to meet you Maaaaadddddiiiieee!”

Hoping to benefit from the experience of my 2018 graduate’s elementary school years, I knew this was no time to be shy. These other grown ups? The ones trying to calmly manage premature cookie intake and facilitate introductions of kids who would rather squeeze their eyes shut and make fart noises with their mouths, than say “hello?” These are our new classmates. We are going to be chaperoning field trips to the wildlife museum, setting up book fairs, and lamenting homework and eye rolling with these people for years.

I went in with both guns ablazin’, introducing myself to anyone who even glanced in my direction. I think maybe a couple of them were there for some soccer thing, and not in fact to fete the class of 2024, but by golly, I was going to be nice in case I got to see them again at Back to School Night or in the frozen foods section at Safeway.

Fortified by half eaten hot dogs, juicy watermelon and chocolate chip cookies, the little kids finally started to acknowledge each other, playing chase, up and down the slide and around the tree.

Jake would intermittently join in the chase games, and then sit moodily on top of the play structure until finally one of his buddies showed up —  another older brother. The two big guys loped joyfully away to play Frisbee and take advantage of their well developed hand-eye coordination that, unlike their smaller playmates, would allow them to actually catch the Frisbee.

Back on the playground, the little boys outnumbered the little girls  3 to 1, though the girls outstyled the boys something fierce. Dressed to impress, they came ready to mix in bows, sundresses, and sparkly accessories – all of which were now covered in watermelon drippings. Big ups to the girl in the tiara and chocolate mustache.

The gaggle of stick-wielding, sticky faced boys provided a glimpse into the future – Comic-Con 2026, to be exact. The 5-year-old fanboys made their allegiances known through their T-shirts.

“Which kid is yours?”

“Batman.”

“Star Wars.”

When it was my turn, I pointed toward the snack table, “Indiana Jones.”

Soon the unwieldy yelling, chasing and unabashed snacking, gave way to little kids looking for a comfortable place to sit down, or in some unfortunate cases, lay down.

The parents exchanged information on smart phones, plucked dirty picnic blankets from the grass to leave, and then their dirtier, sweaty crumpled children.

The Class of 2024 sign had fallen from its spot on the tree into the dirt.

“What did you think, Zach?,” we asked as he rested his head on his car seat.

“Good. Hey, what’s the name of that kid who’s my new best friend? That kid I was playing with?”

“The one who threw up?”

“No, the other guy. The one with the stick. I like that guy. I’m gonna look for him at school.”

Jake shook his head and stared out the window. He’d looked huge to me today, towering over Zach and his new best friends. I realized at that moment, that this big kid started kindergarten practically yesterday,  just a few precious days before the birth of his brother, and this coming week he would be in the same boat as Zach –one of the younger, shorter, less experienced newbies on campus.

He’s registering for middle school.

6th grade – the kindergarten of teenagers, complete with fanboy T-shirts, sparkly accessories, and awkward introductions, but perhaps with fewer fart noises (fingers crossed!) and more cell phones. Wish us luck.

interlude

8 Jun

Between lying in the Disneyworld sun (it’s like they have their own sun!), and lying in bed melodramatically clutching Kleenex in each hand, and lying on the couch surrounded by work notebooks and papers and sticky notes with cryptic half-words scrawled on them, I’ve been occupied. Indisposed? (Either way sounds bathroom related. Everything sounds bathroom related when you’re surrounded by boys all the time.)

I of course would be completely honored and totally surprised if anybody noticed it had been a while since I posted anything. But I noticed, because small funny illustrative moments kept happening, and I couldn’t take advantage of them like I had grown blissfully accustomed to. And I didn’t take notes like I promised myself I would. I’ve walked by my laptop, and run a finger along the top, wistfully recalling how once upon a time I could sit over there *points* typity type type typing the night away while uncharacteristically letting shows stack up in my DVR. (I would very much like to tell you, and in short order, about my waterpark temper tantrum, the bodyguard in the Gucci sunglasses with the book of Sudoku puzzles, Ponce de Leon, the art of confiscation and a less than magical turn on the Magical Express.)

It’s been a whirlwind of activity and emotion that have included a blinding flurry of work and work functions as well as the sun soaked giddiness of a much appreciated vacation and getting to see old friends…all accompanied by the intense desperation for a nap, a mug of tea and a decongestant.

I had a feeling it was bad when three people walked past my office door in a day, gave me a cursory glance and wave, then doubled back to ask if I was ok. I caught a glimpse of my reflection. Wild haired and tired eyed and sorely in need of lipstick.

We’re all victims/offenders of busy (depends on how you look at it), but what’s so acutely new to me this time are the byproducts of being a kid of aging parents and a parent of aging kids. Every conversation in our house is anchored by preschool and or 5th grade “graduation” and what’s next for the boys; what’s next at work; or what’s next as we navigate the unfun health stuff of one of our parents toward what we expect to be a positive, and frankly, more fun outcome.  And then there’s the part where we remind ourselves that it could be a lot worse, and it’s actually the perfect time to count our blessings, and then I feel junky for feeling sorry for myself in the first place. (I just cannot be the only person who does that.)

As I sit in the middle of happy and hard things last week, this week and next, I’m hopeful for the return of the sun, and maybe some sense of normal. I’ve asked for prayers without hesitation, and bent many an ear, and look forward to returning the favor.

atrophy

24 Aug

Atrophy. If school wasn’t starting in two days, it certainly seems that would be the word of the week, and I wouldn’t be able to tell you how to spell it.  Looking around the house, it is essentially a time capsule from June of 2010. The backpack is slumped in a corner where it was dropped on the last day of school. The fool-proof organizing system of boxes and document holders with which I am continually tinkering, still spews papers from the top, mocking my good intentions.  Feeling entirely too much like an adult, I had to take pause this week and wonder, where did my summer, once so full of promise and untold delights…yes, THAT summer, go?

The last week of August already tends to be one of mixed emotions. The kids have dissolved into mini-delinquents whose sole purpose for punching each other is force of habit, but they shyly admit that they might indeed just be ready for regular school stuff. And while I fancy myself fairly footloose and moderately fancy free, I’m pretty stoked about having some structure reintroduced into our lives.

Faced with the reality of summer’s end, Jake shimmied out of one of his beloved baseball tees and into a collared shirt for school pictures this afternoon, followed by a peek into his new class. The glimmer of joy came when he realized he scored one of two air conditioned classrooms.

The glimmer disappeared with the school supply shopping. It should come as no surprise that when you’re shopping for pencils and paper, the biggest smiles are on the parents’ faces. You’ve seen the commercials. It’s totally true. Grown-ups chipper with anticipation, happily checking off otherwise mundane items from their lists.

 “3-ring binders? Theeeeere they aaaaarre!” …this from a smiling cherubic woman with a Blue Tooth headset firmly in place and the lilting sing-song voice of Snow White. She was followed by a wincing teenager whose hands were shoved defiantly into his pockets.

 All over the store, parents were holding up items, saying “which one?” enthusiastically trying to sell kids on the luxury of choice that they have in the color of their binder, their notebooks, their pencil case –  offering perhaps a semblance of control in a situation where essentially, young students have little. Jake haphazardly pointed at the red, the blue, the black. It seems he would have been happy if we were picking out a leather office chair or fax machine…that’s where his attention was.

 But now, as my tall funny fifth grader, and my cuddly sweet last-year-of-pre-schooler are not punching each other and tucked snugly into bed, I’m having a heck of a time being excited about launching into a new year without a firm grasp on what happened to the last 12 weeks? Where have we been that I didn’t finish the recipe project or paint the living room? How cute is it that I thought that I might?

Let’s see, the DVR sputtered out its last CSI weeks ago – dead of fatigue.  (Killing your DVR with overuse doesn’t result in the prideful feeling you’d think it would.) When that noble piece of technology finally went, it took about 18 hours of stored treasures that I had reserved for the summer programming drought. So aside from the recent delicious start of Mad Men, I wasn’t near the TV like I usually am. Hmm…the evenings were too cold to lounge around outside and spray down the boys with a hose, though there were moments I considered it. And I’m just as far into The Girl  With the Dragon Tattoo as I was in June.

Even my personal magazine pile has doubled. Have I really been that behind on Entertainment Weekly? Well, not entirely. I almost forgot to feed the boys dinner the day the fall movie preview issue arrived. And all those issues of The Economist? I did take the time to toss those, so that’s good.

So I did an exercise to get to the bottom of this mystery. Please, please, please don’t stop reading when I say this. OK, it involves Twilight, but it has a point. During the 9 hours of special features on the DVD that I watched as happily as I did the actual movie, the screenwriter, Melissa Rosenberg said she read the first book in a single sitting, focused on the scenes & images that stood out from this initial read – and then structured the screenplay around those. So I did the same thing, but to rediscover the highlights of a season past.

 Melodramatically closing my eyes…I flitted back to the ill-advised but glorious Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast in Las Vegas. The 4th of July fireworks over Disneyland. Sitting in the theater watching Eclipse with my friend Margie and a gaggle of really rowdy and inappropriate mothers. My friend Megan making me dinner in my own kitchen, and having a mom talk with the little one when I was just too tired to do it myself. Jacob jumping himself silly on a trampoline for his 10th birthday. Trying and failing to get our hands on chocolate covered bacon at the State Fair. The butterflies in my stomach when my handsome husband appeared on the escalator at the airport, finally home from Zimbabwe. The sinking feeling I had when I realized the gifts he brought the boys were two vuvuzelas. The plotting of where I could accidentally lose two vuvuzelas. A couple of great end-of-summer parties with old friends, and new friends, and many many appetizers. And then there was starting this blog, which during the nail-biting hemming and hawing stages of discernment about it, felt kinda self-indulgent, overly revealing, a little brave, a tad silly, and maybe a little bit cathartic.

And so now I will post this piece, walk by the backpack and filing system, and hop into bed with the triumphant posession of a summer well-spent. I suppose there are worse things than atrophy of housecleaning.