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School ... good news, now what?

I had parent-teacher conferences this week, and the first quarter's report cards came out.

I was not at all surprised that Rock made straight As -- I did too on my very first report card. And I was delighted with HardPlaces mix of A/C/A/C/A/B/A. "Delighted" may not be the right word, but I think he brought home only one A in academic classes in all of last year. He has gone from an F in spelling to an A. This is HUGE. Last year, there was some talk of testing him for a learning disability. This year, the teachers were saying, "He should be making As in my class." But he's not. Because he's HardPlace. He's a dreamer and he's disorganized. If he's not interested in something, it goes right by him; he doesn't know where his pencils are, let alone his homework. He's crazy-making, but he's making progress. I am thrilled.

Rock's teacher surprised me with her report, actually. After the general comments, she said that I should probably have him tested in a few years -- to see if he should be in an accelerated program. She said that they don't want to test on such young kids, because they often level out. As it is, Rock is reading on a late 3rd grade level, and he knows (and spells) 5th-grade vocabulary -- and he is the second-youngest child in his 1st-grad classroom. He and the youngest child already go to the resource teacher once a week for advanced work (the resource teacher usually helps the students who are struggling to stay on grade level).

So I have a conundrum. I really want to go back to Maryland when I am no longer needed here in Arizona. But both of these boys would be lost in the public schools -- for different reasons, but lost nonetheless -- and the private schools where we live are 100 percent unaffordable. I know that this school here in Tucson has been a godsend: The small classes have allowed the teachers to know and understand my boys, and the teachers themselves have had just the qualities each boy has needed.

I was beyond thrilled when they started sending Rock to the resource teacher: That boy is getting the attention and challenge that he needs. I may complain about having to drive 25 minutes each way every day twice a day (and sometimes thrice) ... but that is a small inconvenience to endure for the sake of Rock and HardPlace being in the place that is best for them.

Does that mean I have to stay in Tucson? even if it doesn't feel like the best place for me? Obviously, there is no answer to that right now, and I don't need to answer it right now, and a lot can happen between now and when I do need to answer it. And... right now, Tucson is where I need to be.

So just shut up, Alicia, and deal with what you have to deal with today.

Flying kites

Kite flying at pearson Park. Great fun was had by all.

What I do believe

My shooting star post generated more comments than I'd expected; and it made me think and rethink. If I don't believe in signs from the dearly departed, what do I believe in?

First and foremost:
  • I believe in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • I believe in a place where there is no pain or grief or sighing, but everlasting life.
  • I believe in the incredible, unfathomable goodness of God.
  • I believe that God created us for love and glory, not for death and suffering.
In no particular order:
  • I believe that everlasting life is not like anything any of us can imagine.
  • I believe that God is not like anything any of us can imagine.
  • I believe that the love of God is more comprehensive and all-consuming than anything any of us can imagine.
  • I believe that God can and does speak to us through signs (e.g., the star of the Magi) and dreams (e.g., the two Josephs --- Old Testament and New).
  • I believe that it is hard to know when God is speaking to us and when we just want someone (anyone) to tell us what to do or reassure us that everything is okay.
  • I believe in angels and miracles and that I have encountered both in my own life.
  • I believe in the communion of saints and in the power of prayer, including the prayers of those who have gone before us.
  • I believe in simple coincidence; I also believe that there are no coincidences, that the Universe is more beautiful and more mysterious and more tightly bound together than any of us can imagine.
  • I believe that stuff happens and that while there is a reason for all things that happen, not all things happen "for a reason."
  • I believe in the utter goodness of Life.
In the midst of the tumult and madness of life, it's good to step back and consider what I do believe in. I know there are some inconsistencies in the above credo. If I believe in signs and dreams from God, why not in the same from our loved ones who have died? If I believe the dead can participate in our prayer, why not in physical manifestations from them?

I don't know. I just don't. I guess I'm simply stubborn. As for that shooting star? I accept it as a gift from God, a blessing to help me make it through the ontological night. And I give thanks for the goodness of God and the beauty of the Universe.

The weather is changing

The temperature isn't dropping much, but the humidity sure is. I can feel it in my bones --- my knees to be specific.

In 1984 I tore the ACL in my left knee; in 1999, the ACL in my right knee. Tonight, both knees are screaming at me. The pain sneaked up on me; at first I wasn't even sure what hurt! It was just this vague oogie feeling. Then it focused: The knees started screaming and the pain is pulsing up and down my calves and thighs.

I feel like a crippled old lady. Now accepting tea and sympathy.

Six minutes later: The local weathercast ad said that a cold front is coming. I already knew that.


This is a bearded dragon, it belongs to Katie & Harry's older brother Luke. I'm not sure I could go to sleep if he was kept in my bedroom!

And did those fields...

We decided we had better dig up the Jerusalem Artichokes before it fell over. This plant produced a good crop. We had never eat them before, so we made them into crisps and they were lovely.

stubborn, adj.

1.a. Unreasonably, often perversely, unyielding; bullheaded.
b. Firmly resolved or determined; resolute, obstinate.
2. Characterized by perseverance; persistent.
3. Difficult to treat or deal with; resistant to treatment or effort.


I always have been stubborn, always will be. Case in point...

It was perfect Arizona weather last night. At bedtime I put on my nightie, poured a small snifter of B&B, and lounged by the pool gazing up at the stars. The beauty of the stars. The brilliance of the stars. The multitude of stars. The vastness of the sky. The universe. The emptiness. Oh, God, the emptiness.

I am so lonely, I choked. Again and again I cried aloud through tears, I am so lonely.

It's been a while since I have felt that loneliness. Or allowed myself to feel it. Or allowed myself to acknowledge feeling it. Last night, it slowly overtook me and demanded that I name it. Lonely. So goddamn lonely.

I lay there, awash in the terrible beauty of the sky, embracing its vast emptiness and cried out to my love, Oh Nick! And a shooting star streaked down the sky. Not a pencil-point dot, dropping and gone. But a blaze of brightness drawn down with the intensity of a Flair marker. Unmistakable and unbelievable.

Unbelievable. A lot of my widowed friends would say A sign! A sign! (Which always reminds me of that little guy saying De plane, boss! De plane!) Many widoweds would tell me that Nick sent the shooting star to let me know that he is with me, that I am not alone in the universe. They would post on the board about the wonderful sign they had just received and how close they felt to their spouse. But I can't do that, because I just don't believe.

Stubborn. So many people would have rejoiced in such an obvious sign from their beloved. But I couldn't wouldn't. It was much easier last night for me to see the falling star and believe in fairy tale superstitions. It was so easy for me to smile with the happiness of a child and say I wish I wish I wish ... that I didn't feel so lonely.

I smiled. I wished. I smiled some more. And I went inside to a deep and peaceful sleep.

Except for a bizarre dream about being in water and trying not to kill the tropical fish swimming in my bed.

Stranglers / La Folie (PV)

Lay back shut your eyes and enjoy!

Special blog award

Jenn, over at Bucolic Scribblings, received a really cool award the other day, honoring friendships made with other bloggers. In her post about it, Jenn writes I feel like I've become friends with these women bloggers, not because I've ever met them in real life, but because of the passion that comes through in their blogs. I feel like I'm a part of their lives, or at least, given a little window into parts of their lives. And how true that is.

I suppose I could give out the award Jenn received, but as soon as I read Jenn's post, I knew that I wanted to create a new one:

Ta-da! (It took me 3 days to figure out how to combine image and text and get it online. Phew!)

So, this award is for blogging friends whom I've never had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face. But I know that when I do, there will be laughter and hugs and utter delight (and good red wine).

My first BestFriendI'veNeverMet is Ali. She and I share the same brain, which makes life very tricky sometimes, especially when I try to think about something and forget that it's not my turn. Seriously, she writes and thinks about her journey on the WidowRoad, about her faith, about her life with her kids, about society in general in much the same way that I do.

Then there's Suzann. Wow. What can I say about her? She has supported me so tenderly. Our lives are utterly different and yet our hearts are entwined in a way that defies explanation or description.

Last, but certainly not least, I have to give this award to Sandy. She doesn't blog anymore, but when she did it was wonderful reading. Yesterday she sent me an email that had me laughing and grinning from ear to ear. I'm still smiling. And anyone who can make my heart so happy is certainly a wonderful friend.

Ladies, thank you for being a part of my life and for letting me peek in the window of your life.

Everyone, I would love to hear about the best friends you've never met. Feel free to give this award to the blog buddies who have meant the most to you. Or if you're not the award-giving type, just tell us about them here.

What color are YOUR lenses?

I was looking for something totally different when I found this quiz. I was startled by its accuracy.

You See the World Through Blue Colored Glasses

You live your life with tranquility. You have faith that things will work themselves out with time.

You judge all your interactions through the lens of hope. You try to get all the facts before forming your opinion.

You face challenges with wisdom. You know that all bad things pass, and you have the confidence to see problems through.

You see love as the utmost expression of trust. Your relationships tend to be peaceful and stable.

At your worst, you can be cool, melancholy, and detached. You sometimes have to step back from emotionally charged situations.

You are at your happiest when you are able to reflect and relax.


What a weekend! What a wonderful weekend.

I spent all day Friday and most of Saturday morning cleaning. The house sparkles, which always makes me feel good.

Saturday evening, we went to a campout at the boys' school ... tents, sleeping bags, bonfire, s'mores, the whole 9 yards. About 50 families were there, and the boys ran around with their buddies while the parents sat around talking and laughing. It was really wonderful. Since it was on the school property, which is totally fenced in, we could let them roam from the field to the playground to the bonfire to the bathrooms to the tents without worrying about it or needing to track them from one minute to the next.

I was tired and went to bed around 9:30. I tried to get Rock to come with me, but he was having too much fun. I think he came into the tent around 11:00 and HardPlace came in around midnight. And it was OKAY to let them be out there playing so late with their friends. I woke up around 1 a.m.; I sat by the huge mound of embers with a glass of wine, gazing at the myriad stars and thanking God for all good things.

Morning came too quickly, of course, and we were all sooo tired for lack of sleep. But Sunday was not to be a day of rest. We went to the most amazing air show ... model airplanes, 6 to 8 feet long doing aerobatics. It was a blast! The most spectacular part was having a REAL aerobatic plane, flown by a real human being doing joint maneuvers with a full-size model plane being controlled by someone on the ground. The model plane as big as the real plane, and it was breath-taking to watch them in formation.

The real pilot then did some solo aerobatics, talking to the crowd from the cockpit as he did them. At one point the ground announcer asked, "How many Gs did you pull on that curve?" "Yeah, that was a 9-G turn." Nine Gs. In a little plane doing idiotically dangerous maneuvers. Heart-stopping stuff!

Then we all went to my sister's house, because her oldest son was home from Tinker AFB in Oklahoma. Lots of love and laughter.

And exhaustion. Good, happy, exhaustion.


It's that time of year again.

Responsibility revisited

I wrote this on my way to the wunnerful widda wedding last week, and I never posted it. But here it is...

Your responses to the broken-fan post made me stop and think about the situation.

1. If Rock had broken something small ... a glass or pitcher, a toy, a photo frame, I would have apologized and most likely left it at that. But it was a significant object; I thought the fan itself was broken and it didn't seem right to ignore something that I expected to be costly.

2. If a visiting child broke something significant at my home, I would expect the parent to offer to replace it; I might not accept payment, but I really would expect the offer.

3. Rock was the culprit, not HardPlace. I know Rock to be a wild child, who has a hard time containing his energy and behaving appropriately in a given situation. I was more than willing to accept that he had gotten out of control and that there were consequences to be paid.

Interesting assumptions all the way around. Thank you for making me look at the situation through other eyes.

Does this image offend you?

Me neither. But it offends some people.

Rock's 1st grade class read the Maurice Sendak classic Where the Wild Things Are on Monday. Rock very excitedly told the teacher that we have the video (music by Carole King and narrated by Peter Schickele -- a must-have addition to any juvenile video library) who said he should bring it in the next day. Which he did on Tuesday. After the Wild Things (you make my heart sing!) is the story In the Night Kitchen, source of the above drawing.

On Wednesday, the principal and Rock's teacher got a full-page letter from a parent who was very upset that her child was shown a movie with a naked child in it. Ugh. The story is a dream sequence, and the little boy loses his clothes as he falls through the house down to the kitchen. And yes, the little boy has little boy parts. Tiny little boy parts. But large enough to offend the mother of the little boy who told her about them.

Sigh. Is In the Night Kitchen one of the books that Sarah Palin would have banned from the Wasilla Library? Maybe. Am I just another liberal leftie, who knows no bounds of decency? I suppose so. And quite frankly, I quite happy to be that way.

Beverley Food Market

As you can see it was very busy, full of people blagging free samples (us included!) I bought some extra hot chilli cheese and some chilli chocolate which was very nice.




What a joy it was to witness the happiness that Boris and Natasha bring to each other.

More tomorrow...

Hokey smokes, Bullwinkle!

They're getting married on Saturday!

I'll post photos when I return.

Is it that unusual?

Is it really so surprising when someone chooses to do the right thing? to accept responsibility?

Rock and HardPlace were playing at a neighbor's house yesterday. When they got home, HardPlace told me that Rock and the neighbor boy had been throwing a ball (in the house!) and that Rock had broken the ceiling fan. Oh no!

I don't really know the mom very well, not much beyond saying hello, and I didn't have her phone number. On the way home from dropping the boys off from school, I stopped by the bank and took out $100 cash. I didn't know how much the fan cost, but I didn't think it was a fancy one, and I figured that would be enough to cover a replacement.

NeighborLady was so surprised. She couldn't understand what I was doing. You don't have to do this. It was just an accident. I know it was an accident, but I do have to take responsibility for my kid's behavior. She just looked at me blankly. It wasn't that she hadn't expected me to pay for repairs; it simply had not occurred to her that I should.

It turns out that the fan itself was not broken, just the glass globe that covers the light. She kept one of the $20s and handed the rest to me. I gave her one back and said that it probably costs more than she thinks. You don't need to do this. Yes, I do. Thank you. It's the right thing.

As I walked away, the bewilderment in her voice echoed. She really didn't understand why I needed to pay for what my child had broken.

Is it that she is an aberration, without a sense of social responsibility? Or is it that our society has so degraded that such a fundamental principle has become alien? Is doing the right thing in everyday situations really so unusual? Why am I so surprised by NeighborLady's confusion?

Food for thought.

(BTW, if HardPlace had been the one who broke the cover, the money would be coming from his allowance; but Rock doesn't get an allowance, and his fear and trembling was sufficient.)