Sunday, February 27, 2011

To Be or Not to Be

This past week was the 6th grades' Shakespeare performances at our school. And Finn, being in 6th grade, participated. Now if you had asked me a year ago that Finn would be excited to perform these plays and would even excel at them, I would say (with a Nacho Libre accent) "You're craaazie!" In the past I would never call Finn the dramatic type or the type that likes to draw attention to himself. He can be shy and quiet at times. But Finn has an awesome 6th grade teacher who works all year to help these kids "release their inner dork"- as she calls it. And the Shakespeare plays really highlight all her hard work. These plays are extremely well done. And it isn't a dumbed-down version of Shakespeare- it is the real thing- with costumes, set designs, staging and all. They do shortened versions of four different plays- "Hamlet", "Taming of the Shrew", "Macbeth" and "Mid-Summer's Night Dream" You can tell the teacher and parents who help really work with the kids on expression, dialogue, projection, style and humor. She even encourages them to add their own personality to their parts. Here is Finn as Demetrius in "Mid-Summer's Night Dream". He is fighting with Lysander over Helena. Originally they just fight with swords, but it was Finn's idea to add a light saber.

Soon after this fight, the girls- Helena and Hermia fight and it was Finn's idea to have the boys sit down with a tub of popcorn to watch the "Cat-fight."
And just to prove how much these plays have stretched Finn outside of his comfort zone, here he is begging Helena for a kiss:

Sorry- that would be Pertruchio's hat in the way!
These experiences really help the kids grow. It is awesome to see their humor, personality and confidence blossom right before your eyes.
Earlier last week Finn texted one of his friends who had missed the first day of the performances. This friend was playing Hamlet so Finn was letting him know he really needed to be there. The friend decided to text back right in the middle of scripture reading. I gave Finn "the look" when he got the text. He looked at it quickly and started laughing. I told him since it interrupted scripture study, he needed to share it with all of us. In response to Finn's pleadings for his presence, the friend texted, "I shall come to fulfill my role. Thou needst not worry."
Now you tell me, what other 6th graders would text that and think it is funny if they hadn't been exposed to Shakespeare.
Me thinks I needst not worry about what Finn is doing at school.
Helena, Hermia, Lysander & Demetrius

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Heaven Help Us, Not only do we have a persistent cough affecting our house, but we also have a bad case of Bieber Fever!

So I'll start with the persistent cough. It started with Finn about 2 months ago. He kept complaining about his cough, but since he had no other symptoms, I reassured him that it would go away eventually. It was just lingering. Then Annie , then Katie, then Suzie all got it. When Annie got it she also complained about her stomach & throat hurting and she had a low-grade fever too. Since I have been a mother for coming on 12 years, I have finally figured out that if your stomach hurts and your throat hurts, it could be strep throat. The third component in the strep throat trifecta is a headache. So for a few days when I woke Annie up I would ask her how she was feeling, focusing on if she had a headache too. One morning Finn was in the room when I was inquiring Annie about how she was feeling. He said with disgust, "How come you are so concerned about Annie and her cough? When I had that cough all you did was tell me it would go away. Then last year when I had a sunburn, you didn't do anything. But when Annie got a sunburn you rushed out to get medicine to help her feel better." I reminded him that Annie could rattle off a whole list of times we seemed to favor him over her. I mean how many times have I heard, "Dad, ALWAYS does (fill in the blank) with Finn and he NEVER does anything with me!" Needless to say, "Life isn't fair." is a common refrain in our household.

Which leads me to the next part of this post. Another recent common refrain in our house, also much to Finn's disgust, is "I just love Justin Bieber!" So my girls were too young to catch the Britney Spears craze, Hannah Montana was a glancing blow and the Jonas Brothers were just a flash in the pan compared to the case of Bieber Fever we got going on in our house. It began just a few weeks ago when Annie was watching her favorite show, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" with Justin as a guest star. Annie's quick rise in emotions and adoration for Justin mirrored the singer's career path itself: fast and furious. The spark ignited by the Makeover show roared to a blaze when she went to school and soon discovered other girls suffering from the same condition.

Pretty soon "Never Say Never" and "Baby, baby, oh" lyrics were filling our house and Annie was begging me to see the new Justin Bieber movie. I adamantly denied this request until I was talking with some girlfriends who told me they had taken their girls to it and said it was actually good. They even admitted they would see it again. So yesterday I gritted my teeth and took my girls to see the "Never Say Never" bio-documentary of a 16 year old who I am old enough to be his mother. Annie was literally on the edge of her seat with her mouth gaping half open during most of the movie. She didn't even eat a single kernel of popcorn. Katie on the other hand was quite bored by it and said all it was was singing and talking. She also admitted that all the girls screaming gave her headache. But she assured us all after that she still loved Justin Bieber. Suzie did pretty good during the movie. She was rockin out with the rest of the theater, but she did fall asleep during the last 20 minutes of the movie. I guess the climax of Justin getting over his sore throat and being able to perform at Madison Square Garden just didn't enthrall her all that much. (Sorry if I just spoiled the movie for you!)

And even though as an adult all this tween crush stuff can at times seem really silly to me, I do know that it is part of growing up. So I find myself biting my tongue when Annie talks about "how beautiful Justin Bieber is" because I too had a preteen crush. And it wasn't on someone cool like Michael Jackson and I was a little too old by the time New Kids on the Block came around. It was Jack Wagner. Ever heard of him? Don't worry... not that many people had either back in the eighties when I was 9. But my sister and I were big General Hospital fans where he played Frisco Jones. He also sang the one-hit wonder "All I Need." We even went to his concert, my first concert ever. I can't imagine what else he sang to fill the two hour concert, but it didn't matter. Because I too thought he was beautiful.

At this point I wanted to provide you with a little eye-candy in the form of a picture of Jack Wagner with his sweet mullet circa 1984, but I couldn't get the picture to load. So I will just direct you here if you really must see a picture of him. And in my search for a Jack Wagner picture I found a book called "Getting Over Jack Wagner: Love is Nothing like an eighties song." So I guess there are more people out there besides my sister and I who had a crush on Jack. I just wish there had been a cute name for our condition like there is for Annie. But having "Wagner Whooping Cough" just isn't as cool as "Bieber Fever!"

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Recurring Nightmare, Come True.

I believe dreams can be quite powerful. I have had dreams that have conveyed important messages. I have had dreams that have warned me. I have had dreams that have given me comfort. Of course I have also had dreams that have been complete nonsense. But I do have a few recurring dreams and one in particular I consider a nightmare of sorts.

This recurring nightmare goes something like this- I am back in college, it's toward the end of the semester and I still can't remember what my schedule is. I don't remember where my next class is or even what my next class is. Then I realize that I haven't done most of the work for the class and I will probably fail. And if you were me in college, that is a definite nightmare.

I'm not exactly sure what the deeper meaning of this recurring dream is- probably something about not feeling prepared. But I do think it is interesting that I always go back to a previous stage of life. My mom also a recurring nightmare that has varying settings, but she is always having to do something difficult with a bunch of little kids in toe. Which would be a step back in her life too.

Well about a month ago, my step back in time nightmare became my current reality. I am back in college for real. I am taking an Integrated Early Childhood Curriculum course at the U. There are various reasons why I am working on earning my Early Childhood License and renewing my teaching certificate at the same time, but for the main reason I can thank Mr. Obama and how his "generous" healthcare bill affects small business owners like Eric. So I have started on the path toward becoming a part-time kindergarten teacher so we can have reasonable insurance. Which is a reality for a lot of teachers who work for insurance and I'm just grateful I have a degree in a profession where I can get insurance as a part-time employee.

But it has been interesting being back in college as a 30 something way closer to her 40's than her 20's. On the first day I was worried I wouldn't be able to find my class. Where would I park? Where do I buy my books? Should I take just a notebook? If I do, would I look ancient because I don't have a laptop to take notes? But what if take a laptop and I look like a major geek? (In the end I decided it would be better to be "underdressed" rather than "overdressed" and just took a notebook. ) But the point is I found all the "insecurities" I felt in my recurring dream coming out for real before I started the class.

But now that I have been in class for a month now, I have found that being in college at 36 is way different from being in college at 18. It isn't nearly as stressful to me. Granted, I'm only taking one class, but I think I have commented more times in my current class than I did my whole first year of college. I've realized that having 4 children and being a stay-at-home mom for almost 12 years really has been useful when it comes to understanding child development. Obviously my confidence in the class is bolstered from already having my degree in elementary education and having taught for 5 years, but I am honestly enjoying it more than I thought it would.

And good news, since I started my class, I haven't had one nightmare about being in college and not being prepared. But I am a little worried about what recurring dream I could start having now. I'm afraid it may have something to do with being labor!