Thursday, March 17, 2005

So, the other day I looked up and noticed a truck driving across the lake, followed by another truck. Crazy bastards, I thought, and went back to reading _Go, Dog, Go_.

* * * *

Today is St. Patrick's Day. For the first time, I remembered to wear green, and actually had both pants and a sweater clean to do so. I also really played up the day to Raelin and managed to get her into not only green pants, but an adorable green and blue plaid dress to go over it. We took a family photo. There is something about kids and holidays that make them much more palatable (not that Guiness is un-palatable) and besides, it breaks up the daily grind. Anyway, Raelin was really excited about wearing her saint patty's day dress, or at least, she was excited about my excited voice. probably the latter.

We were invited to a St. Patrick's Day potluck. I brought- get this- Guiness Steak Pie. Seriously. Found it on (or something like that). I bought some yummy natural steak, a hunk 'o bacon from the pig formerly known as Emily (for some reason a nametag was included in the packaging. gross to some, but I found it rather comforting that she was thought of enough to be named and well cared for. the info posted about the meat said that she was of an heirloom breed and rather rare. glad i used her bacon for a celebration), and of course, the guiness. browned the meat in butter (yum) then slow-cooked it in the oven in a bath of guiness (yummier) then topped it with a pie crust and finished it off (yummiest). it was well received and quite easy to do. We sang "Old 'Donald" in an Irish brogue on our way to the party and stuffed ourselves in a most delicious and un-nutritious fashion. a successful second St. Patrick's Day for the young lass of the family.

* * * * * *

So... Raelin is a um, unique child. I have already mentioned in a previous post that she often accompanies me to the bathroom. At certain times of the month, she notices that mommy does something a little extra in the bathroom. Enter Tampon Fascination. Now, *everytime* I go to the bathroom, she announced, "mommy change her tampON" repeat. several times. She would really like to " SEEEE it!? HOLD it?!!" but that's where mommy draws the line.

Seems that the other night in the tub, the plastic cow was in need of a tampON. Luckily I was able to duck out of what inevitably was to follow, "mommy... GET it?!....cow....tampON?!"

* * * *
We've had a rather social week and went to a potluck at our good friends' house last night. Their daughter is 6 months older than Raelin and they adore each other, but are only just now getting around to actually interacting. They're taking it one step at a time. Well, the other night I was beckoned to follow them upstairs. "C'mon, Elsa" Raelin said as they climed the stairs, much the same way she says, "C'mon, Reg" to the cat when she wants him to follow her at home. Elsa takes on the maternal role and steadies Raelin on the stairs and doesn't say much. When we made our rounds to the bathroom, Raelin wanted to sit on Elsa's potty. Elsa, who is fully potty-trained instantly saw that Raelin needed to pull her pants down to sit on the potty, so she started tugging. I had to help that one along, so now we have Raelin sitting on the potty appropriately. Of course she doesnt' need to pee but needs toilet paper anyway. She wipes and puts it in the potty. I tell her to put it in the big potty. Elsa observes that there's no pee in the potty and tells me so. I concur, but decide to leave out long explanations of why. Raelin takes out her toilet paper and toddles to the big potty. Elsa follows, fastidiously trying to wipe Raelin's butt. Raelin doesn't mind. Raelin drops in her toilet paper and returns to the little potty.

* * * *

So, I'll end my little vingettes with this- it was almost 50 degrees today!! I did errands in a sweater, no hat, no jacket. Granted i had on a light wool shirt underneath, but wow, i turned on the classic rock station and cracked the window and it was like, spring. never mind the crusty, nasty old snow piled on the side of the road. there is no turning back now, winter is getting the boot. she might leave kicking and screaming with another few inches of snow just to make her point, but whatever. it was almost 50 today. there is no replacing that euphoric feeling of spring coming after a winter like this. it's kind of indescribable. even the dogs were out in record numbers at the off-leash park where one golden retriever just couldn't stop humping. i tell you, spring fever is in the air.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Conversations with Raelin

Me: "hey Raelin, it's time to leave for Elsa's house. Let's get your coat on."
R: "coat on... rainbow jacket!."
Me: "Ok, here's your rainbow jacket""
R: " rainbow jacket."
Me: "ok... how about your red jacket?"
R: "red jacket? red jacketredjacketredjacket..."
Me: "put your arm in here..."
R: "no! no red jacket! rainbow. rainbow jacket"
Me: "ok. rainbow jacket."
R: "no! no rainbow... blue. blue jacket"
Me: "raelin. your choices are either the rainbow jacket or the red jacket. choose."
R: "choose. choose."
Me: "yes, you need to choose. rainbow, or red?"
R: ""
Me: "ok, red."
R: "nonononono! rainbowrainbowrainbow!"
Me: "Raelin, you chose red. You're going to wear red."
R: "nooooooooooo!!!!!nooooooooo!!!!"
Me: "1....2....3.....4.....5... put your arm in....6...7... thank you, now the other arm.....8...9...10. Thanks sweetheart, good choice."
R: "goodchoicegoodchoicegoodchoice...."
Me: "ok, raelin. shoes..."
R: "kitty cat boots! no... red boots!"


Monday, March 07, 2005

school, schmool

My young progeny and I attend the local Waldorf school every Friday for a Parent-Child class. There's a free play time during which much pretend soup is made and hundreds of tasks are started and abandoned mid-way, and then we clean up while singing about a gnome in a falsetto voice while setting the table. Before we sit down to our healthy snack/meal, we sing songs and do fun rhymes, watch a little puppet play and count how many kids try and put the ambience candle out with their bare hands. Raelin is the star of the class.

No, seriously, it's fun to kind of poke fun at Waldorf because its easy to do so, but it's a pretty amazing program. Rudolf Steiner, the founder, could be argued as either a genius or a freak and so he was probably a little of both. Anthroposophy was the philosophy he developed (at least, I think he developed it) and it's controversial among various crowds. I don't know all that much about it, but of what I do know it's like most things: much of it seems right on, some of it is downright weird and suspect.

But, onto the issues at hand.

Since we are part of the school community, even if it is only for one morning a week, we get the weekly news. This week the news arrived and I started reading the first article. Seems that the third grade has a class project.

Science fair? no.
Interviewing a grandparent? no.
Collecting money for tsunami victims? not quite.
Drawing up plans for world peace? 4th grade.

no, the third grade has secured an 11,000 grant to construct a New England style barn- designed by one retired architect grandparent- which will house outdoor gear including 20 pairs of brand-new cross country skis at reduced prices, a parachute, sleds, ropes, tools, etc... for general school use.

uh, i want my kid to do that!

i'm having a big dilemma about Raelin's school years, and she isn't even 2 yet. It's kind of scary. I told myself I would never be one of 'those' mothers, but here I am obsessing about where she should go to preschool and thinking we better get our names on some lists so we have options. Ok, correct me if i'm wrong, but I moved to Maine. Why the *hell* do I have to have my kid's name on a waiting list for preschool?

here is my crucial question: how important is elementary school? and does that importance outweigh other life experiences during those years? what i mean is, is it worth it to spend the money for her to go through her elementary years in a rich (mostly education wise, but clearly in general families tend to be better off at Waldorf schools), stimulating on all levels, beautiful environment.... OR to use that money as a family to both add to her college coffers (not that we even have the coffers yet. or the money, for that matter) and do to other things that could be pivotal in her life like trips, concerts, music or art lessons, etc... Could we as a loving, active, and creative family make that impact, or will being in a school like Waldorf have an even bigger effect that we could not have? (there is a lot about Waldorf that i'm not mentioning for lack of time and motivation to write about it, but you can check out the link if you are interested in learning more).

the other piece of this is- how much do I shelter her? At Waldorf, I won't have to worry about soda in the classroom or other kids bringing game boys or other garbage toys to school. She'll get outside everyday and won't have to take stupid standardized tests. if she's smart in one area, they'll challenge her in other areas, rather than just bump her up a grade, or put her in some gifted and talented class for an hour a day. She'll get to build a barn, for crying out loud.

and yet... there is soda and a plethora of garbage toys out there. There are kids who live differently from us, who have maybe never had wheat anything in their lives. Standardized tests are a reality, and finding one's own challenges in life is a skill that needs to be mastered. Part of me thinks that one of the biggests lessons of public school is learning to deal. The problem is, that most kids don't- they don't get the guidance and support to learn how to make the best of where they're at. Lots of teachers just don't care; and the ones that do are rare and make very big impressions. 'Course, even if she has crappy teachers, she will have 2 caring and invested parents, but we aren't the ones who have to endure school again for 7 hours a day.

I don't know. Its a tough call. So much of it is financial, but there are some big philosophical issues that I'm grappling with in this one. Both Kevin and I went to public school, and we turned out fine. But we were kids back in the day when, well, at least at my school we took standardized tests twice- 3rd grade and 8th grade. Now it's almost every year. There was no stupid No Child Left Behind Act and money was still given to art and music. Public schools are different now. And, I did well- got bumped up a grade for reading and whatnot. But.... I was bored a lot. I knew how to do well without a lot of effort and so I think I developed a habit of only doing what was enough. I sought enrichment outside of school to the point where I did so much I could barely keep up with it. In the end... who knows whether something Waldorf would have made a difference for me or not. How different could I be? I mean, no Waldorf and I'm still a nature-loving, wheat grubbing hippie.

I'm interested in what other people think about this. And remember, I'm talking about preschool through 8th grade, not even highschool. There's a great alternative highschool here that I pray will still be around- and that's she'll want to go there. But really... are those early years the most important, or ....? tell me. i'm listening.