Friday, March 30, 2012

The Play's The Thing

"A play!  There's going to be a play!" 

No, not Shakespeare's Hamlet but an original production written by our music teacher: The Medieval Musical!

Katherine is so excited about the 5th grade school play.  Here's a girl who signs up for drama camps in the summer.  A girl who writes, directs and stars in her own basement productions on a regular basis.  She immediately takes the script into her room to practice for her audition and to analyze the pros and cons of each part.

"I want to be Queen," she announces after much consideration.  "Or Princess Caroline or Princess Catherine.  If I'm Princess Catherine I'll ask Mrs. White if she can change the C to a K.  My next choices are Peasant 1, Peasant 2 or the Jester."  The production is a musical so Katherine wanders around the house singing, "I want to be queen," in preparation for the singing part of the audition.

After school auditions, Katherine is so excited.  We bump into her teacher in the hall.  "Oh Allison, I wish you could have seen Katherine's audition," she says to me.  "She had such stage presence!  She was such a natural!"

The next day I am rushing to meet Katherine by the flagpole.  I'm behind schedule and I'm worried that she'll be upset when I'm not in my usual spot.  Sure enough,  I find her crying hysterically.  But it turns out she didn't even notice I was late.

"We got our parts for the play today," she sobs.  "I'm not the queen.   I'm not Princess Caroline.  I'm not Princess Catherine.  I'm not even Peasant 1 or Peasant 2!"

"Are you the jester, then?" I ask.

"No!" she wails.  "I'm, I'm....I'm a kitchen maid." She can barely spit out the words.

At first my protective instict kicks in.  I see my beautiful daughter hurting.  I want to help her.  I want to fix it.  I want to complain to the teacher about the unfairness of it all.  Why have students write a list of their top 6 choices if it's not possible to give everyone what they want?  Why praise an amazing and creative audition to get hopes up?

Instead I take some deep breaths and I wait.  I wait until she's calmed down.  I wait until I've had time to think.  Then I give her a Great Big Mom Pep Talk.  I tell her it was a tough competition and she did her best.  I tell her she can choose to be gracious to her friends who landed those coveted roles.  I tell her that every role is important.  That sometimes small roles done well can have more impact than the big roles.  In short, I tell her to be the best kitchen maid ever.

Last night we saw The Medieval Musical.  Katherine's main scene is towards the end.  While the royalty sit primly at the banquet table talking of expensive fabric and dancing Greensleeves with the knights, the kitchen maids wait in the wings.  After the banquet, the kitchen maids emerge with brooms as partners while they dance around the banquet hall cleaning dishes and fending off giant rats competing for table scraps.  Katherine looks so animated and happy despite her soot covered face. 

I may be a little biased, but I think she is one of the best kitchen maids ever.

The group of best kitchen maids ever!

Friday, March 23, 2012

In Like A Lamb, Out Like a Lion?

March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

Well, that's the way it usually goes.  March got it backwards this year. 

During the first half of this March we had gentle rains, budding trees and mild temperatures.  Last weekend (still technically Winter, by the way) we went down to the Tidal Basin to see the Cherry Blossoms.  The trees are a beautiful soft pink with every branch extending its fluffy efflorescence.

The second half of our March is more fierce.  Outside on the playground I hear the roaring of sneezes as all the budding plants and flowers have sent the pollen count into overdrive.  The sun's rays are like a lion's mane--thick and strong with temperatures already topping 80 degrees.  Mornings I race down to the basement to scrounge in the storage boxes for my short sleeves and sandals since my closet has turtlenecks and corduroys still hanging in a row.

Even without the unusual March temperatures, Spring is ferocious for me because it kicks off our busy season.  Girls On The Run begins with practices twice a week for me as a coach and Katherine as a participant.  Guitar continues with Jack (my only responsibility here is nagging about practice-whew!) and of course Girl Scouts (really looking forward to our two night camping trip where we get to dig our own latrine...hmm, might have to refer back to I'm Not Complaining But... to remind myself why I volunteered to be a Girl Scout leader).  The biggest time commitment will be baseball.  Jack has practice 2 days a week and games 2 days a week.  I only teach kindergarten but I know that 2 + 2 =4 nights of baseball.

Those are only the extracurricular activities, of course.  In school, both kids have their Standards Of Learning tests in the Spring.  We refer to them as SOL's... in more ways than one!  In addition, I will be transitioning to a full time position to finish the year.  One of my co-workers is expecting her first baby.  I am so excited for her to become a mom!  I will finish out the year in her classroom when she gives birth to her son. 

Spring, like a lamb and out like a lion.  The astrological sign of the lion is a Leo-- actually a summer birthday. Leos are said to be are warm of spirit, eager for action and driven by a desire to be loved for what they bring to others. Leos are magnanimous leaders and faithful servants.  I'm not a Leo but if acting like a lion means I will be brave and strong throughout my busy spring, I say bring it on.

Roar!  And Happy Spring!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy 100th Anniversary Girl Scouts

Katherine's Bronze Award Ceremony was tonight.  The girls picked March 12, 2012 as their goal so they could receive their awards on the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts.  It was a wonderful ceremony.
Katherine receives her pin from our area director.
Being congratulated by  our Virginia Senator Janet Howell
Congratulations to the whole troop!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Friday Friends

On Friday I was driving to work thinking about the 20 things on my "To Do" list that had nothing to do with work.  "Luckily it's Friday," I think, "so I have the weekend to get stuff done."  This thought depresses me though.  After a long week I don't want get anything done except put my feet up, have a glass of wine (or two!) and share some laughs with friends.

Even as the small, spontaneous part of my brain is relishing a casual social evening, the rational, fastidious brain argues against it.  "Having people over is a lot of work.  First you need to clean your house.  Then plan the menu, grocery shop, cook, walk the dog,'re tired.  Cozy up in your p.j's, order a pizza and go to bed early."

Surprisingly, spontaneous brain battles back.  "Friday Friends are different.  They don't care about your list of chores."

I have certain criteria for my Friday Friends.  Friday Friends are not coming over to judge the cleanliness of my house or the quality of my culinary skills.  Friday Friends don't mind that we keep the lights low to camoflauge a week's worth of dust and dirt. Friday Friends don't expect the colors of a fresh flower centerpiece to echo the theme of the matching cocktail napkins.  Friday Friends dress casually and keep me company while I boil water for spaghetti.  And last, Friday Friends know that I start yawning a lot around 9:00 pm.  They pretend to be tired too and head on home for the night. 

Friday Friends don't care about my list of chores.  They love me for who I am.

With that, spontaneous brain won rational brain over.  We invited some friends to join us for dinner.  I explained the principles of Friday Friends to our guests.  They followed most of the rules, except that we were having so much fun I forgot to start yawning at 9:00 pm.   

Our friends only had one question: "Why limit the rules to Fridays?"  They love us just the way we are-- every day of the week. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Do You Like Green Eggs and Ham?

Would you like them
in a house?
Would you like them
with a mouse?

"Would you like to help cook green eggs and ham?" Leah asks me.

Leah is my friend.  I love visiting her room and taking part in her creative lessons.  The first week of March we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Suess-- a big deal in this kindergarten class.

Sometimes Leah reminds me of Sam-I-Am.  She has wonderfully crazy ideas that are a little out of my comfort zone, but she encourages me to try them anyway.

Would you eat them
in a box?
Would you eat them
with a fox?

Eggs.  Bacon.  Mixing bowls.  Green food coloring.  Spatula.  Spoons.  When I arrive in the classroom she has my supplies lined up along side a brand new electric griddle.   "Have at it," she says.  I have never used an electric griddle.  I have never cooked green eggs.  I have never fried bacon for 24.
"How do you think I should do this?" I ask.

Turns out Leah has never cooked eggs on a griddle before either.

Would you? Could you?
In a car?
Eat them! Eat them!
Here they are.

If I were doing this alone...wait, back up.  There's no "if" here because if I were alone there's no way I would be attempting this.  Leah has faith in me though, so I decide I can figure this out.  I pull the griddle from its protective wrapping and begin reading the directions.  How hard can this be?

Soon the smell of cooking bacon rises into the air.  Sizzling, crackling, steaming...or is that smoke? Hmmm, I really don't want to explain to the principal, "We evacuated the whole school when I triggered the sprinkler system by frying pork fat in the classroom."  We quickly open the door and windows to get a cross breeze and I stand over the greasy shriveling slabs fanning madly with multiple sheets of paper towels.  Crisis averted.  Bacon crispy.  Now I turn my attention to the eggs. 

You may like them.
You will see.
You may like them
in a tree?

practicing egg cracking techniques
The students come back one at a time to crack an egg into the bowl.  I wish I had a video camera at this point because words can not capture the sight of 24 different kindergarteners using 24 different egg cracking techniques.  For a few, this was their first attempt.  Some were too gentle.  Some got shells in the bowl.  Some missed the bowl completely.  One little boy simply grabbed the egg in his fist and squeezed.  That got the job done! (If you ever try this yourself, I recommend having an extra carton of eggs on hand.)  We added the a few drops of green food coloring whisked the eggs into a green frothy mixture.

Could you, would you,
with a goat?
Would you, could you,
on a boat?

At last the green eggs and ham are cooked and ready to serve.  We line them up on paper plates to distribute to the class.  I can't help but wonder how many kindergarteners will actually try them.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised when most of them do.  I'm not the only one who benefits from getting out of my comfort zone to challenge myself and try new things.  Leah has that affect on her students every single day. 

I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,