Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ross improves his time

Ross ran 15 seconds faster this week in his cross country meet. He was last, but hey, improvement is improvement! I wanted to show you his unique stance at the start:


And here he is approaching the finish:


He says he's going to start practicing more (team practice is only once a week). We'll see....

Today we went and dropped $$ at Fred Meyer. We all needed pants, Chris and I needed new pillows, and we found some Halloween stuff. It amazes me how fast we can spend money. Then again, we don't shop a lot, so when we do, we need to pick up a few things. Ross usually starts complaining that he wants to go home way before we're done, but he's a good sport, especially if one parent can entertain him a bit while the other shops.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Strategy meeting

I'm feeling a bit under the weather, so I'm trying to lay low today.

Chris and I met with Ross's teacher yesterday afternoon. We talked about how we could help Ross learn to be more focused in the classroom. We told her that we're glad that she enforces the natural consequences of his inattention (he has to stay in from recess to finish his work), but that he needs more help. I think she was surprised when we told him that he is frustrated and distressed about the situation, but I also think it grabbed her attention.

We talked about some strategies for helping him in the classroom and at home. It was positive and pleasant. I felt that she genuinely would like to help as much as she can. And I was upfront with her -- I know she has much more pressing problems in the classroom, but he really does want to do better, and he could use the help. So, we'll see how it goes. I'm not expecting miracles, but I do hope she can help him make progress.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fabric charms

Remember the felt that I made back in July? Well, I'm slowly making it into fabric charms for an ArtFiberfest swap. This summer, I cut it into small squares and rectangles, and put an eyelet into each piece. Now I'm beading around the edges and adding embroidery or sequins.


The felt has a blue/purple side and a white or white/blue side. I'm trying to make both sides look good, since people may use them in jewelry or attaching to bookmarks (or whatever other great ideas they have!). The felt is thick enough that I can hide thread in it, so that helps.

********************

Last night Chris and I went to the open house for Ross's gifted program. It was very impressive. The teachers all have a ton of experience with gifted students, and it was clear that they want to make this the best experience possible. Instead of accelerating the kids in academic subjects, they will get going more in depth with two topics.

The first semester will be point-of-view (What's my point of view? What are other people's points of view? How do I work with that knowledge?). The second semester will be a study of an Asian culture (I think Ross will be learning about Japan) -- art, food, music, etc. The whole program emphasizes going deep into a subject and learning higher thinking skills (analytical thinking, problem solving, and so on). It's going to be challenging. I hope it'll also be a real source of inspiration for Ross.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

First cross country meet

Ross is participating in the Spokane Youth Sports Association's cross country program this fall. Kids in grades one through three run a half-mile, the same distance that they have to run in physical education classes in school. All of the teams are boys and girls, and all grades.

Saturday was his first meet, in Holmberg Park in north Spokane. The course was a big loop around the park, up and down a fairly steep hill. Here he comes up the hill, with his coach (Chris Morlan) following with some encouragement.


Here he comes back down the hill (yeah gravity!):


Chugging into the finish line (his time was approximately 5 minutes 36 seconds):


This was the first time that he's run the half-mile that he did not stop and walk part of the course. A great accomplishment for him!

At the end, all the kids get participatory ribbons. Here he is with Turlon (sp.?), the coach's son who also goes to Jefferson Elementary:

Friday, September 21, 2007

Houdini heart

Journal page from last night -- I call it "Houdini heart."






We're reaching the end of the tomatoes. Ross helped me pick these after school yesterday. I had to snatch them away from him to get a quick picture before he gobbled one.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Late news

I finally heard from Kris at the MAC this morning.

I didn't get the job. But she was very nice, telling me that it was a very hard decision, and it came down to the fact that the other applicant had more classroom experience than I do. She told me that they even talked of applying for a grant so that they could contract with me to do some work for them! I told her that I would be open to that, to call me any time.

When I didn't hear from them Tuesday or Wednesday, I figured they'd offered the job to the other candidate. Honestly, though, I am not terribly disappointed. It would have been an interesting job. Yet I can't help feeling that maybe I'm supposed to be doing something else. I need to pour myself into my passions, and nothing less is going to do.

Pictures from Manito Park

As I mentioned yesterday, I went on an sketching expedition to Manito Park. Actually, I spent more time taking pictures than I spent drawing, but what a good excuse to show you some of the things I love about the place!

First I'll show you Duncan Gardens, the formal annual beds. I usually enter the park from this side. It is the place to get outdoor wedding photos.



Next, I wandered to the perennial garden. The mountain bluets had a visitor.


The rose garden is still looking good. The staff will be cutting it back for winter very soon. I'm not a big fan of hybrid tea roses (too fussy for me), but this one is just gorgeous.


I almost always visit all of the flower gardens before I head to my absolute favorite place in Manito Park, the Japanese garden. Yesterday, the staff was doing some maintenance, but I pretty much had it to myself. This is the lantern I chose to sketch:

My sketch is kinda goofy, but I don't mind. Hey, not everything you try is going to come out perfect. I try, I fail, I try something else.

You've probably heard it a million times, but art really is about the journey! It's been a big step for me to try drawing, and another big one to show it to people. It's valuable to share the process with others. I don't gloss over my difficulties, because I hope to encourage others to try new things, to be less afraid to fail.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Great news

  1. How appropriate -- the NY Times has an article about good wines for $10 or less! http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/19/dining/reviews/19wine.html.
  2. It's a lovely day in Spokane. I went to the Japanese garden in Manito Park for the first time in ages and sketched another Japanese lantern. It's going to be too cold to draw outdoors all too soon.
  3. Ross has been accepted into the gifted program (Tessera).

Chris and I are very happy about this, but also very apprehensive. He has trouble finishing his work on time now, so how's he going to handle having even more work? Tessera is one day a week. He'll get bussed from his elementary school to the Tessera site and spend the whole day there. Meanwhile, he'll still be responsible for whatever he misses in his regular classroom.

It'll be more work, but it could be a big motivator for him as well. Tessera will have more interesting and challenging lessons and activities. It could keep him from getting completely bored and frustrated with school. Frankly, if he doesn't go to Tessera, I don't know if he's going to give a damn about school in another year or two. There just aren't going to be a lot of incentives for him. (Chris and I remember our own school experiences all too well.)

The program is optional, so we could opt out if we think it's the best thing to do. We obviously have a lot of talking and thinking to do as a family. Chris and I also need to talk with his teacher to get her take on the situation. I think we're both leaning toward letting him do it, but we have to make sure he understands what's going to be expected of him.

PS: I haven't heard from the MAC folks yet about the job. I thought I would have heard by now, but hey, they are busy people, too. And honestly -- I won't be crushed if I don't get it. They may have already offered it to the other person, and are just waiting for their acceptance before they give me the news.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tomatoes and wine

My friend Bradley mailed me a Chicago Tribune article by Bill Daley, about matching fresh tomatoes with wine. (You can read the article here.) He personally dislikes fresh tomatoes, but being the good friend that he is, he indulged my weirdness and passed along the article.

I was intrigued. I'm not much of a wine connoisseur. I have my favorites, but mostly I'm happy to buy decent local wines in the very cheap range (under $10, better if under $7). It sounded fun to try my own taste test, so I scoured my grocery store for possibilities. Granted, the grocery store doesn't have the best wine selection, but it is readily available on a Sunday afternoon. I had hoped to find a Barbera, but no dice. The article also recommends a Pouilly Fume (way out of my price range at $20), but I did find a couple of bottles of Fume Blanc. In the end, I went for the inexpensive Hogue, screwtop and all, at $5.60. (I've bought Hogue reds before, and thought they were okay.)

I went home and prepared my taste test. I had tomatoes that I'd bought at the farmers' market on Saturday, which were very, very ripe. I cut one in half, salted it, and bit into its achingly red flesh. It didn't have a lot of acid to it -- quite sweet, actually. Then I sipped the Fume Blanc. It was too acidic for the tomato.

So, I decided to pick one of my slowly-ripening tomatoes in the front yard. It wasn't totally ripe, but it was fairly close. I prepared it in the same manner as the farmers' market tomato, and found it much more acidic. Now, the wine actually tasted great with the tomato! I really didn't think a white wine could be so appropriate, but it was.

Thanks for the adventure, Bradley. I may get a Barbera yet, since I have a few tomatoes that may ripen before the frost.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New flower bed

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not been discovered." -- Emerson

I started to dig a new flower bed yesterday. We have a small strip of grass and a hawthorn tree on the far side of our driveway. I decided to take out some of the grass by the street, and I'll plant daylillies and some spring bulbs (snowdrops and grape hyacinths). It should be a pretty, low maintenance garden once the daylillies are established.

It's a lot of work to dig up sod! Ross helped me for a while. Chris, who was doing other chores, came out and suggested an easier way that I'll try today. I was using a flat-bottomed shovel, but Chris thought I could use the flat end of the pickax to pry the grass loose. (It's hard to describe, but I'll try to post photos later.) Fortunately, I don't have a lot more sod to pull up.

Then it'll be off to a home improvement store for top soil, compost, wood chips, and edging. I probably won't get to that till next week. Still, it's great to be digging in the dirt once again!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Update

My Wednesday job interview was a little odd. I got to meet the person I'll be sharing the job with, as well as other members of the team. It was pretty informal, and I got asked a lot of off-the-cuff questions. I really didn't get a sense of how it went -- I felt that I didn't get to answer all of the questions completely, so that kind of bothers me. Thursday morning, they called to ask me for my references (they'd forgotten to ask on Wednesday), and my contact person said I should hear from them by early next week.

I did the best I could. I am not sitting around worrying about it. What will be, will be! Plus, I am just too darn busy to dwell on it.

******************

Ross is still having problems finishing his schoolwork in a timely manner. For whatever reasons, he is easily distracted, and Chris and I feel that we need to work with him now, or the problems will only grow worse. He doesn't have ADHD, but he needs help learning how to focus better. So, I bought 2 books this week: 10 Days to a Less Distracted Child by Jeffrey Bernstein, and Meeting the Challenge: Using Love and Logic to help children develop attention and behavior skills by Fay, Cline, and Sornson. I've started reading both of them. I can't say that I think either of them is "the answer," but I do think they will be a good starting point. We're fresh out of ideas, so these will give us some new options.

Bernstein writes that lots of gifted kids have this issue. It makes sense. They can find it hard to filter out the "important" information, when much of their world can be so fascinating to them. In addition, the average classroom does not engage them much of the time. They learn concepts quickly, and then they must sit through repetitive materials even though they are ready to move on. In Ross's case, he does enjoy the social aspects of school, so that helps keep him interested. But we see trouble coming down the road if he doesn't learn better strategies now.

********************

Bought some beads Friday -- the store had a 15% off sale. I needed some seed beads to finish my fabric charms (a swap at ArtFiberFest), plus I found some funky wooden ring beads, and I splurged on some African beads (blue whitehearts and some green and white striped ones). Frankly, this bead store is too expensive, but with a discount, it becomes more manageable. I have ideas for those wooden rings. . . .

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Words of gratitude

"I thank You God for this most amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirit of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes."
-e.e. cummings

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The ladies are finished; mushrooms!

I decided I'd better finish this collage! So, I doodled on some sewing pattern tissue, and cut out some dress views from the same pattern, and glued them on.


Then to blend everything in, I painted on some brown Dye-Na-Flow and the transparent red and yellow oxide paints (again).




It still needs something I think, but I've lost interest, so I'm moving on.

*******************

Looks what we found growing in our backyard! I even mowed around them yesterday.


Friday, September 7, 2007

The joy of orthodontics

Ross was fitted with a "dental appliance" yesterday. It's kind of like a retainer. It has a spring that is pushing on the back of one of his top front teeth. The tooth will move so that it sits in front of his bottom teeth, instead of in back of them (he has a "crossbite"). The spring is mounted on a set of wires that are essentially glued onto 2 of his back molars.

The dentist says it should only be on him 2 or 3 weeks, but it can't come off too soon for Ross. He was in some pain this morning, and in tears. I gave him tylenol, assured him that he'd get used to it soon, and that it wasn't going to hurt for 2 weeks. I briefly thought about letting him stay home, but I thought better of it. He needs to see that life will go on. (Chris said it'll do him some good to have to deal with some adversity!)

I drove him to school, and he thought the tylenol had kicked in by then. I assured him I'll stop by at lunchtime, with more tylenol if he needs it. I told him that he'll be so busy in school that he won't even think about it, and he seemed fine when I left.

I think he'll live!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Second interview coming up! and a photo of my babies

I was just about to blog this morning when I got a phone call from my contact at the MAC. She told me that I am tied with one other candidate for the job! So, there will be a second, more informal interview, when I will meet the person I'd be sharing the job with. It'll be next Wednesday.

I'm so excited, I'm kind of reeling! I knew the interview had gone well, but I'm surprised at how fast they got back to me. This will probably come down to the intangibles, such as the chemistry between people, how well I'd fit in, etc. What a great opportunity. I've been really curious about the "job-sharer," so at last I'll get to meet the person. Woo hoo! (Did I mention that I'm really excited?!!)

****************
Ross has to introduce himself by giving a little presentation in front of the class. His teacher sent home a lunch bag, on which he had to draw his favorite place (Aunt Cathy's Camp Chicken, of course). He then had to come up with 6-8 items to put in the bag that would represent parts of his life that he wanted to talk about. He's included one of his favorite books, a tiny meteorite we bought in Albuquerque, his Cub Scout kerchief, a tuning fork, his "squished penny" collection, and this photo of himself and Chaplin, which we took yesterday afternoon:


So here they are, my baby boy and my first "baby," Chaplin. As you can see, Chaplin wasn't thrilled about staying still for the camera -- he headed for a cozy spot under the shrubs as soon as Ross let him go.

Chaplin has been in good spirits. He loves to spend the afternoons napping in the back yard, and he usually has one or two short bursts of playtime every day. He has lost a lot of weight, but he is eating and drinking well, and he gets lots of treats. He's become a bit unsteady when jumping up, so we've tried to make things easier to reach (his litter box is on the first floor now, and he has a step stool to help him get into our bed).

We're having a professional family portrait done here at the house on Saturday. It was Chris's idea -- a good one, I think. We haven't had a portrait done since Ross was a baby, and it will be nice to have a photo of all of us together. Chaplin will always be part of the family.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Interview day

I wasn't thrilled about shopping for an interview outfit on Labor Day weekend, but it was, in its own way, fun, once I got over the overwhelming sea of black skirts and the continued lack of interesting clothes for those of us over 40 and over a size 10. I finally ended up with a long olive green moleskin skirt and an offwhite textured button-up blouse, and a pair of sensible brown mary janes by Ecco. You know -- teacher's clothes.

In my book, a new outfit means it's time to make new jewelry. I remembered that I had some beautiful olive green stone beads that I'd bought in Albuquerque, so I dug them out. They are large (approx. 1"), flat ovals of rhyolite. I decided to combine them with carnelian, then added seashells for something a little unexpected. I rediscovered a fabulous clasp I'd bought at a bead show, and the rest fell into place.


Beading is one of the handiest skills a girl can learn! Great accessories in 3 hours, which would have been much shorter if I'd made them before Ross got home from school.

I'm not heavily into the healing powers of crystals, but I do own The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall. I think that if I'm going to work with stones, then it doesn't hurt to have a source to reference. Here's what it says about rhyolite: "... ignites the potential and the creativity of the soul. ... It imparts a sense of self-respect and acceptance of your true self. Mentally, Rhyolite imparts the strength to deal calmly with challenging life circumstances and bring awareness of one's own strength."

And carnelian: "...grounds you in the present reality. A stabilizing stone with high energy, it is excellent for restoring vitality and motivation, and for stimulating creativity."

Pretty good stuff to wear on a job interview, eh?

*******************

The interview was today at 11. A panel of three women (the head educator, and 2 curators) took turns asking me questions from a set script. They were pretty broad and open-ended questions, lots to riff on. It was a fairly relaxed and casual group, and it was a fun interview. I was mostly relaxed and positive, and I did pretty well thinking on my feet. I know it went as well as I could have hoped.

Depending on how the rest of the interviews go, I should hear back from them at the end of this week, or by the end of next week if they go deeper into the applicant pool. I liked talking with them -- they could be great coworkers. At the end, one woman said she had to ask if I'd made my jewelry -- I love saying "yes!" and taking it off so that people can handle it and enjoy the beauty as much as I do.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First day of third grade



Ross was all business, getting ready for school this morning. He was even ready 10 minutes early -- highly unusual!

As we walked to school, I thought about how different it was last year. Everything was an unknown: the school, the teacher, the kids. I tried to be cool and calm, but I was uneasy inside. I'm sure some of it rubbed off on Ross.

This year, Ross knows most of the kids in his class. We've gotten used to the school. The teacher is an unknown quantity, but I feel confident that we can handle whatever comes our way. Ross has matured a little this summer, and he understands that Chris and I consider school to be his number one priority. We have expectations for his behavior that we will hold him to.

At the same time, I am embracing the fact that this is Ross' journey, not mine. He will make his share of mistakes. I cannot save him from himself, nor should I. I want to embrace who he is, and encourage him to be true to himself.

We parents have the luxury of time. Teachers try to teach their subjects to all the kids in the time that they are allowed, but not all kids develop on that pace. The longest view they get to take is over the course of one school year. We parents get to watch our children develop over years. We don't have to feel rushed that they are not exactly like their peers in every area. We can be patient and feel the blessing of watching our children unfold, just as they are supposed to. What a joy it is to get to know who my son is!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

How creative are you?

You Are 52% Creative

You are a quite creative person. You're always involved in at least on interesting project.
Keep it up and keep learning. Your creativity may bring you great things someday.


This was a weird little quiz. I don't know how much the questions really have to do with creativity, but heck, I'm a sucker for these things.