On the Chopping Block

My favorite part about the Internet is getting to know regular people. Regular people don’t get media training. We don’t know that we don’t have to repeat ourselves. We don’t speak from talking points to make soundbites. If we get something wrong, it’s accidental and not a manipulation ploy. Knowing that still, somehow, those are the most cringe parts of listening to myself on The Chopping Block at

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“What’s a Movie?” “It’s a form of entertainment that enacts a story by sound and a sequence of images giving the illusion of continuous movement, but that doesn’t matter right now.”

Young@Heart DVD

Dad has pretty much always questioned authority, thumbed his nose at convention, and rebelled against whatever he felt like. He keeps his mind open for continuing revelations even when those are that the status quo ain’t all that bad. For example, after much study he concluded that Elvis is probably dead and aliens are probably not a direct threat, but he’s had enough of the hospital so, smell ya later.

Dad, this movie is for you.

Since we don’t have a television at the moment (CURSES!), I’ve been watching a lot of digital video discs. I stumbled across Young@Heart: You’re Never too Old to Rock at the Pima County Library. This movie is my new best friend and proves that punk was around long before Punk. You don’t have to have pink hair, though blue works nicely. I LOLed at this movie, but I was also deeply touched. Do yourself a favor, if you aren’t going to rent the movie, at least Google their performances of Forever Young and Fix You, though they are more powerful in context.

I had dinner at “the club” with the Bendicksons the other night and we discussed the lineup for the 2010 Tucson International Children’s Film Festival. In the past they have shown movies like Howl’s Moving Castle, Egon and Donci, Azur and Asmar: The Princes’ Quest, Shaolin Soccer, Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro, The Red Balloon, White Mane, Strings, Please Vote for Me, Microcosmos and even US films like The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T and Creature From the Black Lagoonin 3D. This year there are only two films that interest me. Perhaps the line-up is a little too Western? I’ve seen all the movies.

The solution? Saturday night Movie Time at the Bendicksons. Last week, it was on a Friday because the Bendicksons are all punk like that. They don’t need no stinkin’ badges. This week, they are going tropical with George of the Jungle followed by Tarzan. The plan is to wax nostalgic all DeAnza (RIP) like with their late night double feature picture show.

Perhaps they might consider City of Bees: A Children’s Guide to Bees out of Denmark for a future screening ala Microcosmos. I always love to see insects buzzing about and kiddos running in fields in their underwear, but the narrator uses his preschool voice and that is a huge turn-off. The information is appropriate for an older kid and there is some sick propolis action. Also, there is a seven page guidebook that is a little worksheet-y and perhaps a twee young for my kids, but since the 8 YO Girl did a project on bees for Hawt Mz, she is on it like honey on a comb. And just for that local touch, the guidebook has a link to a University of Arizona URL that provides lesson plans for kids K-12.

For family night, Handsome Hubster rented Airplane! That part compelling him to push the envelope is still in tact. Somewhere, I lost my obvious punk edge (never could afford the accouterments anyway) and became a little mommy-two-shoes as evidenced by my watching City of Bees with the 8 YO followed by subsequent Internet searches for further study, but deep down I have the heart of a RebL as placed by my daddy-o, who never wanted me to call him “Shirley” either. Turns out Dad’s cancer is Stage 4 and he’ll decide soon if he wants to ward it off with chemo or garlic or both or neither. I’m grateful for my dad and the community who have come out in such numbers they sometimes must wait their turn. You can follow him and whatever he chooses to tell you here. As for me, I’m off to the Bendicksons.

Did I mention I am a sellout Amazon Associate? I am and even managed to make $2 off you suckers!

Cornball Corn Dog Lover

Yes, we recycle gray water. Yes, we are mindful of our utility usage. Yes, I buy only grass fed beef. Yes, we eat veggies from our garden. Still, a boy’s gotta love what a boy’s gotta love, and my boy loves corn dogs. He loves corn dogs so much that when one of his teachers assigned a project on architecture, he constructed a museum for the documentation of the storied past of the corn dog. When another teacher assigned a five paragraph, three point essay for his writing journal, he found a way to honor his obsession. Oddly, he never once mentions mustard.

Favorite Food — by 10 YO Boy

I love corn dogs becuase they taste awsome. They also never get boring. Last of all they are finger goods but your finger never touches theme.

Corn dogs never get boring becuase you can eat all week and never tier the taste out. I know becuase I eat corn dog almost every time I eat out.

Corn dogs are my favorit food becuase they are a cleaner finger food because they have a stick.

That why corn dogs are my favorit food becuase they taste awsome. They also don’t tier. And therd of all they are a clean finger food.

If you say so, I will let down the nets* and maybe answer the door**

Last week I dreamed that my son put together an intricate project rather like a LEGO construction. A teacher allowed the smashing of the project (or did it herself). I tried to collect the pieces on a blanket, but was chased away by the teacher before all was gathered.

I scooped up the blanket and dashed off to Spanish. That teacher was busy roving around the school, but never entering her classroom. I chased her around speaking Spanish, though she couldn’t be bothered. Finally, she turned on me and stated that she was all together wrapped up in her thoughts about her husband and would I please go away.

With a sigh, I sat down next to a very sad older man who told me that he had been ordered to quit playing his violin. In fact, his violin had been taken from him by the powers that be. I told him to ignore that nonsense, get a new violin, and chase his happiness. He left to do just that. Later an angry teacher informed me that his building had a no music policy. The man was kicked out of his home as a result of picking up his instrument. I pressed her for more information and she grudgingly admitted that he had a new place to live and was happier, however I had stirred the pot and things definitely should not be changed — even if for the better.

I sat down and cried. The principal stumbled upon me and draped his arm over my shoulders as I cried and cried. Maybe I even sobbed a little.

Aside from the fact that it is clear by the way I can’t easily identify myself or my son as the student that I have a severe detachment disorder, this dream is odd in how OBVIOUS it relates to my ongoing “where the f*** is my kid going to school next year” dilemma. I’d much rather be dreaming about falling, or having my teeth fall out, or being chased by zombies.
But wait! There’s more! I had another dream last night. I was in a huge concert hall attending an audience participation performance. We were all playing along and once in a while an audience member would be spotlighted for a singing solo. Willie Nelson sang from a few aisles behind me! Then a performer handed the microphone to some American Idol flunky who refused to sing. He used the microphone instead to say this was stupid and everyone should bail. A few audience members did just that. Then a few more. American Idol wouldn’t quit deriding the effort and the hall continued to bleed its contents and I stared at more empty chairs. I began to sing louder but just a few joined that effort. I took the microphone and asked if everyone couldn’t just wait. Couldn’t we give the performance a chance to shine? Weren’t we all just enjoying ourselves? Don’t be sheep to the false Idol! Didn’t you hear Willie Nelson sing? Willie Freaking NELSON!

But people continued to leave and I woke up to rain outside my window and the remembrance of a promise to go to church to watch my daughter light the Word and maybe get rid of a few more boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

My last two posts were not simply about moving and fighting. They were about the right time and the right way to move and the fights worth having and when to have them. Obviously, I have some unresolved issues as my memories, my present, and my dreams have smacked up against each other amping my already angsty existence.

* Luke 5:1-11 ish. I’d better just cast my damn net. I don’t know what I’m fishing for, but there’s something in here somewhere I’m supposed to know, be, do. Jesus was the master of teaching through allegory. As I’m not much of an allegorist, or teacher, I probably should quit telling tales of my misspent youth and my frustrating dreamland. So, to be more pointed (or blunt?):
1) I don’t want to move and I don’t want to merge and I am trying to be sensitive that my kids may be concerned about such movement and mergement.
2) I am well acquainted with fighting with my fists, though I haven’t done so in nearly three decades. It typically leads to more fights and bruised people. Fighting with words is not so eloquent. Fighting with solutions to meet the needs of all involved is difficult at best and impossible most of the time. Must I continue fighting a fight that makes me fight with my friends, as well as those who shouldn’t be enemies, for a goal that may not be achievable or if it is it will be achieved after our time?
3) Also, for the love of whatever you love, can we who comment on news stories agree to stop being vindictive and quit punishing kids? Could we work together to support kids? I know there is a better way. If you are ever presented the opportunity, please persuade people to be pissed all they want at whomever they want but that their vengeance shouldn’t be exacted on children?
4) I really need some untroubled sleep.

**In case it’s not obvious, I’m the sinner and I’m not entirely sure if I want to answer the door, much less how to answer.

Motherhood Obsession

I’ve discovered that, for work, Twitter is a billion times better for getting my info/gossip fix than anything else and that I act like a total techie jerk when my boss sends me a message like, “This is something so and so should know about ASAP.” Meanwhile I’m thinking, “Yesterday’s news.”

And so if you’ve been following my personal Twitter feed you know that lately I’m all about my great parenting and how God commands my kids to acknowledge my great parenting. This swim suit spied at My Parents Were Awesome would enhance my great parenting, don’t you think? You can tell it’s the perfect swimwear for moms by how it accentuates the firmly-held hand of a young ‘un being dragged to the water. Seriously, I hope someone on Project Runway makes this suit this season. It’s freaking awesome! This is where you say, “Your obsessions are yesterday’s news.” Fortunately, I obsess a lot.

It’s hard not to. Moms get the blame for everything and when they aren’t the target for blame, then they are self-questioning or loathing. Choices, so many choices, with their pros and cons leave us looking over the fence where indeed the grass is greener (bending light, yo). Should I continue to pursue systems think, inquiry-based, performing/visual arts focused education for my kid in a happily diverse school? Or am I, like Hitler’s mother, creating spoiled darlings by encouraging their artistic ambitions though they have no talent? (Yeah, she totally got the blame for that! Fortunately, my spoiled darlings do have talent.) Screw it. If I’m going to mess up my ankle biting rugrats no matter what, then I’m going to have fun and I’m going to do it in that swimsuit.

Studly gets a name

Did I mention I’m in love?

The darling girl from this video aside, how amazing was her teacher? The woman who put this together is doing her student teaching in the 7 YO’s classroom. I watched around 24 of these videos and the narrative in each brought out the unique voice of the first or second grade author. I once received a letter from Nora Ephron in which she discussed the importance of voice and once a writer discovers that voice, it should be coveted — maintained for life. Most folks never get into that groove and so it is a testament to, er, I don’t have a code name for her. How about we just call her “Studly” because she can no longer be considered a student teacher but a studly teacher?

This was the capstone piece to a unit Studly did on transportation. Here are photos and a short movie a parent put together from a field trip the kids took as part of Studly’s transportation unit. Pay special attention to the last little bell ringer because she’s dreamy.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to Studly. Her term in the 7 YO’s classroom is over. We will celebrate with gifts from parents and letters from students placed in a canvas bag embellished by none other than my baby girl. I won’t say more, because you never know who’s reading in (no one is reading in, but saying that sort of thing ratchets up the suspense, doncha think?)

When I posted the 9 YO boy’s Tucson Winter, I went on a search of Just Another Banana’s bog because I remember she ran to the bird sanctuary one snowy day to snap some photos. I couldn’t find her snowy cacti pictures, so I went to the school’s Web site to see if they had possibly loaded some. Instead I took a trip down memory lane.

That place is special and is where community for me first burst into full bloom. One person has an idea, another does research, yet another gathers the supplies, and before you know it, you’re placing the tiles for a human sundial.

I love that hat.

You can see how the project proceeded here. Follow the links for the human sundial. Maybe check out the plan identifier links too. You’ll see photos of Fungal Heart’s eldest.

We can all consider this my Thanksgiving post as it’s way full of the gratitudinal mush one wold expect this time of year.

Students in the News

Hawt Mz got the kids busy setting up their own market as their first quarter project. The kids started with a field trip to a local grocer. Then they researched food groups, product labels, grocery geography, and grocer careers. Of course, Mz can’t make a move without the paparazzi, so the first of three news crews came to visit. The 7 YO is in the back of the garden row, planting with her green fingernails, and in the chicken coop.

See? It’s not just that Hawt Mz is an awesome, newsworthy teacher, she also looks damn good on video. We should all be so blessed. Unfortunately for her, her students outshone her in the classroom. Their research was, oh my. Impressive. Their preparation and presentation was insanely inspiring. My kid presented honey — from bee anatomy, hive construction, and honey production to the human use of honey and beeswax.

(Budget cut/funding rant providing an awesome transition to picking up my son at his school deleted because it seemed tangential to my unabashed bragging, but you can imagine an amazing transition right here.)

Upon retrieving the 9 YO from his school, a note explaining that he’s one of 32 students at his school selected by the art teacher to upload some of his work to Artsonia was thrust in my face.

Artsonia is a Web site that sells you stuff – postcards, bags, temporary tattoos — featuring the artwork of your kid. They donate 15% of the sales to the school. I think that’s how it works. So, if you are so inclined, go on over and comment on the 9 YO’s watercolor leaves (inspired by his idea of a flag for New Canada and sneaking in a hidden flame thrower). Buy something if you want, or not, but love the colors. I’m starting to understand Caddo’s pride (her daughters have earned some prestigious art awards and yet I find no mention on her blog or her Facebook page, otherwise they would be linked).

I should do that thing where I tell my blog to suggest other similar posts, but I suspect it’s only available for Word Press and I cannot be bothered. Instead, I’ll do it the old fashioned way by writing my own. The Fine, Fine Market reminds me of when the 7 YO’s former classroom transformed into a news paper publisher. Additionally, the 9 YO’s art teacher’s compliments on his art reminds me of his stamp art accolades.