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Reality Fail


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It feels normal again already


Tessa and Sylvie started back to school yesterday and it already feels like summer never happened. I expected this week to be stressful and full of difficult re-acquaintings to the joys of alarm clocks, but so far David Bryne had it right, it's the same as it ever was. Granted it's only Tuesday so it could all blow up by the weeks end.

Both girls are liking their teachers and their classmates although there are many faces and names to learn still. Waking up isn't as bad as I had feared, the school traffic has been better than I remembered, getting chores and homework done does eat up the afternoon but it just feels good to be productive and orderly again. I did miss them an awful lot more than I thought I would though. Aren't you supposed to cry for kindergarten, not 1st and 4th graders?

Third Grade

I lost my third grade picture somewhere along the way and it makes me sad. Mostly because it is no doubt a gem of bad hair and fashion. So here's a little collage of elementary age pics although I'm such a bad judge of my own age I'm not sure when they're exactly from.

Third grade was Ms. Rhodie and I remember three things from this year: First her stern way of yelling "freeze" to an unruly class upon which we had to stop anything we were doing and in complete silence put our heads down on our folded arms on top our desk. Or if we were in the hall we had to put our folded arms out in the air and still put our heads down. Like tired zombies or something. Second I remember the time we were making dipped wax candles and she left a burner going in the back of the class at lunch and the paraffin wax exploded. No one was in the room thank goodness. And my third memory is the very first ever novel I read: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. (I bought it for Tessa a few years ago and she loved it too.) From that time on all the way through high school I always had a novel at my desk in case there was a moment or two of down time to be found. Yay books!

Oh, and my teacher looked like a female version the mean sensei from Karate Kid. The real Karate Kid thank you very much. I really did like her though.


Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm glad and sad both to be done with these books. I don't remember any series pulling me in quite so much. Even after my high enjoyment of first two books I wasn't sure she could draw me in again, but the third was just as great. There were so many aspects of the main character that I really identified with and the action and the romance really kept me moving along. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Peeta in their life.

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Second Grade

I remember loving this outfit. I guessing clown collars will find peak popularity among second graders. And I do love outfits with flair.

Second grade is where things start to feel a little more solid for me. This was my first grade at the elementary that I would finish out at, T.O. Smith in good old Ogden, Utah. There was a major vibe of new kid going on for me this year, but it didn't kill me. In fact I don't really remember a ton of social anxiety at school although it was unfortunately thick at church and that had some spill over effect. Mrs. Gunderson was my 2nd grade teacher and I remember liking her although I can't exactly pinpoint why. I remember a lot about the playground this year. Not much in the classroom other than the first day after getting my glasses and being amazed at how crisp the letter on the blackboard looked. And then back to the playground where I broke them not once but twice that year. Most spectacularly by getting hit in the face with the tether ball. Considering I had glass lenses back then I guess I'm lucky not to have put an eye out. Not such a fan of tether ball after that.

I remember pink and blue corduroy pants that I would endlessly peg throughout the day to feel like I was fitting in. And moon boots - chasing boys with moon boots on is one sport I can get behind. Hop scotch figured in there somewhere too. And chinese jump rope although that's probably more in the older grades. And four square. So much fun stuff! But suffice it to say that the playground behind the elementary school is a major fixture in my memory. Recess and lunch felt like hours and hours. My girls have such short recesses now it seems like they must have been cut down since my day, but I guess kid memories sometimes play tricks on you.

I remember one winter, although it may not have been 2nd grade, where the snow was so deep that we made igloos on the edges of the playground where the plow had stacked it up 5 or 6 feet high. I remember a giant crack on the blacktop that made me worry about earthquakes. That and the frequent earthquake drills where we had to climb under our desks. I remember playing shadow tag in the front of the school before the bell rang. So much playing and not a single real memory from the classroom. I'm sure I enjoyed school work because that's kind of always been my style, but I guess we weren't doing anything that was super hard or ground breaking. I don't really remember reading yet, that doesnt' start until 3rd grade which seems strange when Sylvie is already reading chapter books before 1st grade starts and Tessa was the same. They're gonna be smart cookies those girls.

Worst sleepover ever


Well, to be fair, by the end of it all things had sorted themselves out. But there were some pretty rough moments along the way. I had told Tessa she could invite some friends over for a sleepover before school began. Of course she was thrilled and the whole thing was to be the biggest event ever. And the girls were sweet and had great fun to begin with. Towards ten o'clock on girl from down the street needed to go home. She's younger than the rest and didn't want to sleep at our house so Tessa and two of her friends walked her home. Then they stopped off at Tessa's bff's house (also on the street) to say hello to her new kitty. And that's where things went sour. They were gone longer than I had expected and I had called around a bit to find out where they were. I was told they were visiting the kitty so I waited a bit longer. Then the three girls appeared at my door wailing and sobbing like crazy. At first I thought they were just being silly, but I quickly saw that the tears were real. Bff's kitty had died. The day before in fact but her parents had kept it a secret, not wanting to upset her. So now the news was out right in the middle of Tessa's sleepover. Tessa was just as distraught as the kitty's owner. Just huge and incredible tears. It was just a giant pitiable mess. I really did feel awful for the girls but they were carrying on in such a strange register that I had to almost stifle back giggles as well. The girls cried and cried for probably a half an hour and then they just sat and stared at each other, no one really knowing what to do. It seemed strange to carry on with slumber party silliness when bff (and Tessa still too) was so visibly distraught. I tried to loosen things up with root beer and some playstation distraction therapy. They eventually moved on and sounded like little girls again, but I have to wonder how poor bff is doing a few days after. Mourning and slumber parties are a bad mix.

P.S. I have no idea what I'm going to do with my tender-hearted daughter when one of our doggies kicks the bucket. Oh dear.

First Grade

I am just adorable, aren't I? And my mom was overly fond of plaid. I guess I don't remember an overmuch of that fabric on me, but it is one of my defining memories of my brother's early years. He'll probably kill me for posting this (not that he reads my blog, brat!) but I have to make my point visually. Totally wrong point in time chronologically since he wasn't born until I was eight, but the plaid tangent has got me on the hook.

So anyway, first grade. Dee Elementary was the school although I can't recall my teacher's name. Our school was circular and all the classrooms were open to the center section with only three walls. This seems strange to me and I'd love to go back and verify that this is not craziness in my head. I remember making butter in a jar and I remember having a friend named Amber that had the same green striped shirt as I did. That is the universe at work I tell you. I remember being 100 kinds of stressed out because I didn't know how to double dutch jump rope. Or really any kind of jump rope. These things apparently mattered. My best friend's name was Brandon and we had chicken pox together. Yes, I covered all this in my homes post but there are only about five memories to choose from so I'll have to recycle in this context. I do also remember my first social bullying incident where one of my neighborhood friends told me that she wouldn't be my friend any more if I walked to school with another girl because she was black. I told friend number one to buzz off even though I was totally terrified to do so. Yay Amber's tiny backbone!



The start of school has me nostalgic and I figured I'd work a little more personal history into my blog. Not really sure how far and deep my walk down memory lane will take me but since I've been known to ramble (and not so much with the editing) feel free to laugh a the pics and then skip the rest.

Let's just take a moment here to appreciate the fashion of the early 80s. That suit is a far cry from the shorts and t-shirts my girls wear to school. I'll go ahead and blame my mom for the fashion sense, but as my pictures move through time they only get worse as I become responsible for my clothing choices.

So I covered a lot of this in my post on places I've lived, but I attended three different kindergartens. The first was in Salt Lake City, Utah and it was the one that think of most when I think of kindergarten. I had neighborhood friends there and played on the street so much that there are some serious fond memories associated with that time and place. I had two best friends (pictured here) and one had a little brother so madly in love with me that he grabbed me one day, pulled me under a blanket and landed a big kiss on my lips. I remember walking to school, patronizing the neighborhood candy store, and generally running amok all over the place - the kind of freedom that doesn't seem to be a part of my girls life.

Anyway, I remember starting kindergarten and loving it. Ms. Burger (or something else slightly funny and food related to a 4 year old) was my teacher and I loved the stations she had set up all around the room. I can't picture her any more or much else other than a vague glimpse of what the classroom looked like.

Part way through the year we moved to Ridgecrest, California. Not a locale I highly recommend unless you love sand and hate all else. I don't remember the school or my teacher much - we were only there for about 3 months. I just have the most fragile images in my head of the playground and the windows lining the classroom where we sat our lunches. I was a little afraid here. New kid and stuff.

Then back to Utah where my third school was in Ogden. The memories here are pretty much nil. I can recall the bathroom of our apartment where I fell in the toilet when the lid wasn't put down, but that's about it. Funny the things that stick. I also remember riding on the back of my dad's motorcycle for long, long trips. He would make me tickle his sides continually so he'd know I hadn't fallen asleep and slipped off the back. And of course there was the goat that lived in our apartment complex and would ram against our front door and terrorize me. I have no idea.

When I look at Sylvie getting ready to start 1st grade next week I wonder if her memories of kindergarten will be so jumbled and tenuous. It seems like what our life is all about, these school functions and volunteering and homework and classmate discussion. A whole universe even. And to contrast that with the shards of what I still have of my own experience it makes me realize how quickly it all passes. Is that what they mean when they say "not to sweat the small stuff"?

A Good Fall

A Good Fall: StoriesA Good Fall: Stories by Ha Jin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed these stories but they didn't necessarily make me feel satisfied or mystified either. The characters were interesting and the stories well drawn though.

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The New Kings of Nonfiction


The New Kings of NonfictionThe New Kings of Nonfiction by Ira Glass

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The collected writing in this book really is a shining example of how good non-fiction can be. The pieces were quite varied, but almost all completely intriguing. It made me want to subscribe to even more meaty magazines that I couldn't possibly have the time to read.

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It's a good thing the library doesn't charge rentals fees


I can't seem to walk through the library without picking up a few more titles regardless of how many I already have on my nightstand. Save me from myself.

North this time

South last weekend, North this weekend - how's that for seeing some Texas? I bought Dave some tickets to see his beloved Red Sox for Father's Day so we trekked up to Dallas to see them play the Rangers. We decided to go with friends and made a weekend of it. We saw the Museum of Nature and Science before the game and the next day before heading home we went to the Dallas World Aquarium. We even had some time to spare so we stopped off in Waco on the way home to see the Dr. Pepper museum. I'm a Pepper, are you? Lots of Texas fun packed into two days.

Life gets garbled by google


It's become great sport to try and decipher the way google transcribes my voice mail messages. This is an actual message I got last night when my home teacher called to try and set up an appointment to visit our family.

Hey this is (name changed to protect the innocent) from some really weird and I just wanted to see you. When would be a good time for us to come by and home teach. I don't need a little. But questions. Hours are, but if you're not able to make it. I guess I can just come by. Muslims or something. My phone number is xxx-xxxx.

Beach trip


Our good friends invited us on a last minute trip to Corpus Christi to play at the beach. We haven't really seen much of our adopted state in the two years we've been here so we were glad to join in on the fun. It's only about four hours out to the lovely beaches of Padre Island, so we got an early start on Friday morning and had all afternoon to play in the waves. I am not a fan of the beach. Way too many thing stacked against it - namely sun, sand, salt water, and bathing suits. But it really was a perfect little trip and we will certainly be going back. We stayed Friday night, enjoyed more beach on Saturday and then headed home in the evening. Dirty, sandy, sunburned, and exhausted. But all totally worth it.

Some lessons learned:
  • Sand is evil but a good shower after arriving back home will erase most of the memories
  • Spray on sunscreen does not work when applied on a windy beach. Ouch!
  • Looking east into the ocean is weird
  • Jelly fish sting, but only for a moment
  • Beach umbrella + 3 inch deep water on the shelf = perfect spot to sit all day
  • Wet sand, shallow water, fish and jellies for the kids to hunt, and plenty of seashells to collect make for some incredibly happy kids
Lots more photos in our SmugMug gallery here.

Family Fun

I'll back track for a moment here and share a few pictures from our family night out last week to Main Event. One of those all purpose have fun and spend way too much money trying to amass enough tickets to buy win a tootsie roll from the prize booth kind of establishments. They have a summer time Monday night special and we had been promising to take the girls all summer long. We got to bowl, played a round of mini golf, two stints in the fantastic rock climbing room, laser tag, and a good dose of arcade action.

Rock climbing was by far the hit of the night. And it really was a total blast. Sylvie was afraid of it but since our pass made it essentially free, we figured we'd suit her up and see how she did - no worries of wasted admission. She went up and down the wall probably over 20 times, each time venturing about one step higher until by the end of the night she was only a few feet from the top of the wall. Tessa totally fell in love with the sport too. She even tried the intermediate walls but found it vexing for her non adult sized legs. I was surpirsed how much I enjoyed it, definitely something we'll try again. Bowling on the other hand is something I am bad enough at to never fully enjoy.

We at the beach


It is time to see some Texas

My baby is six!


Happy Birthday to my beautiful Sylvie. It's really, really (really) hard to process that my baby girl is six years old. Not when I look at her and realize the fantastic girl she has become and all of the great things she can do. But just hard when I realize that I'm not the mom of young babies any more. This is certainly not new territory when it comes to parenting - kids grow up and obviously it means that I'm getting older too. Just having a self indulgent moment here.

Sylvie's birthday was lots of fun. Presents first thing consisting of mostly lots of zhu-zhu pet gear that she's been hoping on for ages and ages. Then a little trip to the lego store to spend some birthday money. That place is so fun - I have designs on some of their kits myself. In the afternoon Sylvie had a party at a pottery painting place and it was lots of fun to celebrate with her friends. We went out to eat at Canoli Joe's, a favorite spot for the whole family, and went to the pool afterward to play around. Busy and fun day.