Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Am Eleanor Roosevelt

Aubrey's 3rd grade Biography assignment* was so much fun. She was supposed to read the biography of an important person in history, write a report on their life, and present that person to the class along with a homemade puppet.

Here's paper mache Eleanor and her handler, Aubrey!

Aubs did all the mache work, the painting, the sewing, the designing, the hot gluing, the wig-work, the Good Will glasses purchase, the dental work... 

I've grown quite fond of Eleanor, too!
Aubrey's pal Jasmine came over a few times and made paper mache Amelia Earhart.

Here's Aubrey presenting Eleanor to the class -- well, actually, this is Eleanor presenting herself to the class and mentioning Aubrey briefly.
Eleanor spoke in a squeaky, quavering voice, explaining that she was known for having a weak voice when speaking in public, but that she worked very hard on it to ultimately become a notable, effective public speaker.

Eleanor also pointed out that she was well aware that most people thought she was unattractive -- even her own mother -- but she learned early on that "to receive love, she must give love."

Some of the most impressive information was that Eleanor was First Lady of the United States for the 12 years her husband was in office, but after he died she stayed in the public eye and became even more influential as the US representative to the United Nations, where she headed the drafting of the world's first Human Rights Declaration.

What an amazing woman. I'm so glad Aubrey got to "meet" her!

*Dane got to "meet" George Washington last year if you want to check that out.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Four Generations and a Sweet Surprise

Oh, I'm so behind on posting. I'm going to attempt to pump out several updates, though, so my kids won't wonder what happened to February of 2011 when they're reading this in 2050. Whoa, they'll be 50 and 48 then. I'll be 80. Okay,Time Warp Time: Anj, Mick, Dane, Aubrey -- if you're reading this now and it's 2050, "Hello, and love love."

Moving on.

In January we took a whirlwind weekend trip to the Tacoma area. Since Jan wasn't able to cruise with us at Christmas and was taking a long while healing from infection, we decided to show up with some mojo, aka Grandkid love. It was great.

The kids stayed with her and Mike a couple nights; Mick and I stayed the whole time with my parents in Puyallup. The kids stayed there with us, too, for half the time. I think they liked the mojo as well; we hadn't seen them since September.

Our visit was just a couple weeks shy of Aubrey's 9th birthday, and since grandparents and great-grandparents and Karen! weren't going to be down to Ashland for that event, we threw Aubs a little surprise party in Puyallup. She was truly surprised.

My parents, Mick's parents, my mom's mom (G.G. = Great Grandma) and Don's parents (Vi and Gran) all came, as did Karen and my Aunt Laurie (Aubrey's Great Aunt Laurie).

Little Aubs was in rare form. She visited with everybody and let her brother help her organize and open her presents. After each gift, she looked for the giver and then went and gave them hugs and told them what she liked best about the gift. I couldn't have told her to do that any better!

Here are some photos that almost got left in the warehouse:

Karen brought the flower cake I'd sent her for her birthday a few days before. There's mom with Socksy.

Jan, Mike, G.G., Mema, Great Grandma Vi

Oh, that cat got a lot of attention that weekend.

Aubs, Socks, and Vi.

Great Grandpa Gran with Dane.

GrandDad and Freaky.

GrandDad and Birthday Girl.

The Great Grandmas, Vi and G.G.

Dane and Poppa and the squishies.

Grammy's elaborate gift.

A Grammy-assembled art kit with everything in it a kid could want. The older cousins and her bro have them; it was Aubsie's turn!

Mom with her sister, my Auntie Laurie, aka Auntie Sugar.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Boys Behaving Beautifully

Dane's buddy Nic is spending the night. They spent a good part of the evening working on their electricity experiments for the Science Fair (a post yet to come).

Now they're watching How to Train Your Dragon.

This is what I heard earlier when they were deciding to watch the movie:

Dane: You wanna watch How to Train Your Dragon?

Nic: Sure, I've seen it before, but I like that movie.

Dane: I know, I love that movie. You know how it's, well, kind of touching?

[Folks, I kid you not.]

Nic: Yeah... I know what you mean. There are parts when he's with the dragon that really give me a sense of longing.

[Again, I kid you not!]

Dane: Yeah, there are parts that really get me. Even though I might see them like eight times, they just always get me.

And scene.

It kind of reminds me of this post a few years ago. I hope some things never change.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Update

We put a lot of hours and hard work into creating those personalized "you are" and "what I like about you" Valentines. 
At one point, Dane said, "Um, it's easier to think up the stuff that annoys me about some of these people" and "Next year I kinda just want to write the To and From part on the Valentine." 
Then he lined all of them up on the table and re-read them, smiling.
Happy Valentines Day to you from me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What I LIke About You

The other night we discussed what Valentines Day is supposed to be about: showing love and appreciation. With that, the kids decided to try a new approach to classroom Valentine cards this year: they're going to write one thing on each card that they like about the recipient. It'll take a little more work, but it'll be worth it.

Check out how cutie-patootie they are so far:

With some photocopying savvy, we printed these suckers up for $2.22! or, as Dane put it, "'one eleven' for me and 'one eleven' for Aubs."

Then there was much joy to be had in using the paper cutter to slice and divide.

When we finished that, Aubrey colored hers in while Dane was at a batting clinic. She modeled hers after "I am" poems her class had done earlier in the week. Hers are "You are" poems, and the one above is to her teacher, Debi.

It says: to: Debi - you are a teacher who makes me want to learn.

Other cards:

to: Autumn - you are an excellent artest. I love your Drawings.

to: Sissy - you are a funny girl and I like your laugh.

to: Bodhi - you are wound up and full of Energy, + lots of fun.

to: Corbin - you are funny, play full and nice.

to: Felicity - you are sweet and creative. Your Halloween costumes are great.

and on and on with comments about skiing/singing/writing abilities, being hilarious, athletic, and funny.

Dane has colored his running dogs red, but that one above is a special card for his pal, Nic. It's a fox. I can't wait to see what Dane writes. He started one last night for a girl in his class. It reads: To: Chloe. You're a good friend and so good at drawing.

Wouldn't you like to get a card like that?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ray Bradbury and the Art of Parenting

Since I’m participating in this year’s Write 1 Sub 1 challenge – a writing commitment inspired by Ray Bradbury’s early career goal to write and submit a story every week, and where Write 1 Sub 1 writers write one piece and submit it either every week or every month for a year – I think it’s only fitting to re-visit something I wrote a few years ago, the second time I read Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing.

I think it was 2007, which means Dane and Aubrey were probably 6 and 5.

Here’s what I wrote:

I’m re-reading and re-loving Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. I love the full sense Bradbury has of himself as a human being (and how he’s had it since birth – he says he remembers being circumcised at four days old!), and I love how this sense of himself as a human being has given him a full sense of himself as a writer.

He learned early on to embrace his passions, which he says he did at age 9 after a month of misery in the aftermath of destroying all of his Buck Rogers collection because his friends had ridiculed him. When he recognized he’d cut off and betrayed a huge part of himself in doing that, he decided those people weren’t his friends – they were actually his enemies – and went back to passionately collecting, daydreaming, and embracing his loves.

That all made me appreciate Ray Bradbury. I appreciate his insights for myself as a writer with lofty goals and an inexplicable desire to write. His words remind me to commit to whatever I want, regardless of the opposition, and to just do it over and over and over again because I love it and want to get better.

That’s obvious, though. I definitely should’ve gotten that from a book on writing.

However, it surprised me to realize that I also appreciate his perspective because I’m a parent.

Acknowledging that we should embrace our passions, regardless of outside opinion, makes me appreciate my children’s loves. Dane loves dinosaurs, Star Wars and Pokemon. He loves drawing them, dreaming about them, talking about them. Aubrey loves princesses, flowers, fairies, and anything pretty.

In the same ways I’m moved to write, my children are moved by their passions.

I think of Dane and his Pokemon fixation – how he’s only seen a movie of them once, but he collects books and sits and draws image after image after image and has a shoe box full of his miniature drawings – and I want him to keep going with those goofy little creatures that half his classmates think are stupid. (The other half loves them. I think Dane’s already decided: live and let live.)

And I think of Aubrey with her back porch fairy notes, weighted with tiny daisies and pebbles, and how she lives for the notes they (I) leave her on a misty night. How she curls her letters and numbers like they do, spending hours on her elbows, writing and clipping and designing, and telling them she likes to think of them feasting under foxgloves.

It’s easy to get annoyed by obsessions, or not respect the time and energy they take from the obsessor. It’s also not bad to introduce kids to new things so they diversity their learning, but there is time to acknowledge a groove, to feed a passion, to relish an obsession. That’s how you gain the role of expert – even if it’s self-appointed.

It's also how you learn to live your life with the confidence to pursue whatever you want.

Ray Bradbury’s book is called Zen in the Art of Writing, but it seems to me he could’ve just as easily called it Zen in the Art of Parenting.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Aubrey's Minis

Aubrey made mini-cupcakes from scratch last night for her class and decorated them herself. She baked them for her 9th birthday, but perhaps she was promoting Breast Cancer Awareness, too?