Friday, June 14, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Homeschool, Verdi and the Pata-Pata


Woefully behind. That's how I am this week...missing birthdays of friends and family, remembering Father's Day for my husband but not for my stepdad or my children's godfather (which caused me to remember that we didn't do anything for Mother's Day for their godmother, either).

On top of everything I definitely am not.

What I am on top of is my notes in the Verdi Requiem. I have learned those parts cold, and I am ready to sing tomorrow night. My only real worry at this point is that I'll be overcome by emotion, get choked up amidst all the "salve me"s and be unable to sing adequately. Here's hoping the lump in my throat doesn't get so big that I can't produce a sound.

After a week of carpooling to rehearsal an hour each way every single night, I feel quite bonded with my driving companions and will miss chatting with them when the weekend is done. It's amazing the range of subjects we have covered: geriatric drivers (and what we will do when we become them), how to know if radishes are ready, what kind of stain is best for a thin veneer table top that didn't take the first stain, things we have heard on NPR (specifically Ira Glass's interview of a blind man about being lost in a hotel room), the entire plot of Gianni Schicchi, the small-town politics of the "from heres" versus the "come heres," the Blue Man Group. Good times.

Speaking of the Blue Man Group...which just reminds me of Tobias F√ľnke...George and I finished the new season of Arrested Development this week on Netflix. Did you watch? What did you think?


While I've been busy rehearsing, SuperSam and George have been watching BBC documentaries on dinosaurs every single night. George has been leaving Sam these amazing hand-drawn dinosaur-themed messages every morning, always related to what they watched the night before. This was my favorite one:

"Don't let him choose what's for dinner." Why? Because he apparently eats HORSES. My son thought it was hilarious and made jokes about it all day. "Hey, Mama, I think we should let the Gastornis decide what's for breakfast. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!"...and full-scale rolling on the floor laughter followed.

I'm sure there is a place in his brain where he's just filing all of this information away for future use.


Speaking of SuperSam's brain, I promised you a report on our trip to the state homeschool convention. (If you missed the whole homeschooling epiphany, here it is.) I had definite concerns going into this trip. I wasn't sure the people at the convention were my crowd (especially since I'm not yet sure what that is...Charlotte Mason? Unschoolers? Classical? Some combination of all of it?)

My worries that I wouldn't fit in were exaggerated. As my friend (who was also attending the conference) pointed out, homeschooling is way more diverse than it was 20 years ago. There were all kinds of people there. The main way in which I didn't fit in was that I didn't have one of those rolly cart thingys.


Actual rolly cart thingy seen outside the convention center

Seriously, y'all, everybody has one of those. They sell them at almost every booth where they sell curriculum and owl pellets for dissection and laser kits and solar system models and maps and build-your-own-rabbit-hutch-kits and math worksheets and handwriting practice sheets. It made my head spin. The exhibit hall filled with vendors was completely and entirely overwhelming...so overwhelming that I decided on the spot that I wasn't going to buy anything at all. I did end up getting a laminated placemat with a world map on one side and a US map on the other side, and SuperSam bought a kit to build a model of the solar system. We came up a few cents short of the $15 minimum to use our debit card (and I stubbornly refuse to learn that I should carry cash), so I also paid 60 cents for a small plastic kitten that I promptly lost.

Those eight women I saw that I thought from a distance were Michelle Duggar were not actually Michelle Duggar (whom I never saw). She was the keynote speaker (well, half of the keynote, since JimBob was speaking, too), but since we were attending for free as a family with a rising kindergartner, we didn't have tickets. I'm kind of sorry I missed her.

The biggest thing I learned from the conference was that I can do hard things. Taking three small children on my own, overnight, to a conference and several stores and The Hotel Pool (an epic story for another day) reminded me that I am stronger and more resourceful than I think. My friend and I parked our vans near each other and helped each other keep watch, but we were essentially each flying solo...and we did it well.

Emboldened by my relatively successful trip, I even stopped for the bathroom at a McDonald's on the way home and spontaneously took all three children in for ice cream while we were there. It was fine. I managed everyone by myself.

Things you do that don't kill you really do make you stronger.


While we were in the parking lot at Trader Joe's with my friend's children (she had run inside to pick up a few things), SuperSam suddenly declared that he had to go to the bathroom so badly that he couldn't possibly hold it. Having stubbornly ignored my sister's helpful suggestion a few weeks ago that I start carrying a potty in the back of the van for these instances, I was stuck. There was no way I could take my four-year-old, my two 20 month olds, my friend's three-year-old and her 20 month old into the store to use the bathroom (especially not with SuperSam about to wet himself).

I stood him outside the van, blocked him with my body on one side and the van door on the other, and told him to go in the parking lot. I am horribly embarrassed to say this, but I didn't know what else to do. I prayed the whole time we wouldn't see anyone we knew (a legitimate fear, since the last time I was at this particular Trader Joe's I randomly saw my college roommate and her husband and their kids).

We didn't see anyone we knew.

On the downside, SuperSam saw his own puddle, got all excited that he was wearing Crocs (his "splashing" shoes) and...well, you can guess what he did. I wiped the shoes and his feet down with baby wipes before he got back into the van (because I have also stubbornly ignored my sister's helpful suggestion that I carry Clorox wipes in the car for these instances).

Sigh. There might be a theme emerging with all this stubborn ignoring.

Do you know the Pata-Pata? It's a song from South Africa recorded by Miriam Makeba that was introduced in the US in the 1960s. George had it on a CD a few years back and it became a family favorite with Baby SuperSam. A few days ago, SuperSam decided we needed to learn how to do the dance that goes with the song. We googled it and found this:


It can't be authentic, but it's easy enough that even I can basically do it without crashing into any walls. My children love it and have asked to do it every day. It's an incredibly freeing thing to dance with them. They don't know that I "can't dance." They just move to the music and laugh and smile, and so do I. I didn't even need to have half a glass of wine first (my normal minimum for actually dancing).  Maybe I'm loosening up?


Finally, I haven't told you that George and I are on a running streak. If you follow me on Twitter (dere_abbey) or Instagram (dere_abbey), you might already have known. I've run at least a mile for 19 days in a row now. The streak is part of an effort by Runners' World to keep runners from slumping between spring and fall training seasons. It started May 27 (Memorial Day) and runs through July 4 (Independence Day)...39 days altogether. I'm taking it easy to avoid injury, since my big (way more important) goal is to run the Richmond Marathon in November. We'll celebrate the end of the streak with a 2 mile race at Jockey's Ridge on July 4, which I'll be running with my other sister (not the one of potty-carrying wisdom but the one who lives in Nome!). I can't wait to see her.



This is quite long for a Quick Takes. Sorry about that. I had a lot of catching up to do.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!