Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Halloween Store

Each night, before we put Stella in her room (where, and I still can't believe I can write this, she walks herself to bed, lays herself down and sleeps through the night), I ask Stella what she wants to dream about.

"What are you going to dream about tonight, honey?"

And if she doesn't have an answer, I give her an idea - usually something fun we did that day, something involving her cats or me or Dave or her Mamaw or whatever. Something sweet and soothing.

I do this because, as a child, I was an incredibly troubled sleeper. And part of the reason I was so troubled was because it seemed every time I closed my eyes, I had a nightmare.

A dream that people had broken into the house to murder us, but nobody would listen when I told them to evacuate.

A dream that a nuclear bomb was headed for the U.S. but I couldn't find my mom.

A dream that I fell into a manhole on the street and ended up in Hell.

I will do everything in my power to keep Stella from experiencing such terrifying, sleepless nights. So now, while she's young and impressionable, I'm teaching her to think of relaxing, comforting images as she soothes off.

About a month ago, Dave, Stella and I headed to the local "Halloween Express," Louisville's answer to NYC's Ricky's - an overpriced Mecca of goulish rubber masks and sexy fill-in-the-blank costumes. (Sexy Mad Hatter? Really?)

Stella loved it. Loved it to pieces. Even the enormous, mewing, head-swaying black cat with red eyes. "Wodo!" she called out to it lovingly, assuming it was Cromwell and not wanting to leave its side.

That night, when I asked her what she would dream about, she proclaimed, "HALLOWEEN STORE!" So we imagined roaming the aisles, Wodo by our side, before she drifted off.

The funny thing is, ever since then, that's the thing she wishes to dream about every night when I ask her the question. Including the other night, when she talked about bringing the entire family to the Halloween Store, including Bubbie and Aunt Nora.

I kind of hope this sticks for a long time. I kind of hope next Spring, as the buds begin to blossom and the air begins to warm, that Stella will reply "Halloween Store" when I inquire about her dreams.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Present Problem Solving

The following pictures have nothing to do with this post, but they're awfully cute:

Stella's current obsession: a bed packed with many of the things she loves.

One of her many fabulous outfits.

Turtle Sitting.

So, here's the thing: your first year in a new school, in a new state, on a new grade, with a new curriculum -- well, it might as well just be your first year teaching, period. I'm so blessed to have an incredibly supportive staff and administration, but still. I am working my butt off.

It doesn't help that I got straight into Pollyanna mode at the beginning of the year, saying yes to two projects I love so much that there was no possible way I could turn them down:
1. The Future Problem Solving component of the Academic Team
2. Drama Club

But I really couldn't let either of those activities happen without me, so I guess I'm in the best of all possible outcomes right now. It just also happens to be the MUCH busier of the two.

For those who don't know, the Future Problem Solving Team is a team of four kiddos, given a possible future problem to which they must brainstorm a solution. IT IS SO COOL. If you're a complete and total nerd like me, that is.

A possible problem could be workplace rage on the rise due to the increasing use of robots in multiple industries in the year 2031. Students would come up with 16 possible problems that would arise from this, such as economic breakdown or an increase in domestic violence. Then they would determine the main, underlying problem causing all the problems - such as workers feeling insecure and disgruntled about possibly losing their jobs . Then they would brainstorm 16 possible solutions to the underlying problem, such as site-based counseling committees aimed to intervene when a worker feels unstable. After that, they develop their own set of criteria by which to chose their best possible solution, and plug their 8 best solutions into the approval grid to narrow it down. And finally, FINALLY, after all that, they create a detailed action plan - paragraphs of well-thought-out and researched suggestions - that will alleviate this future conundrum that may or may not ever happen.

To many, that sounds like pure and utter torture. To me, now and back when I was in middle school, this is heaven.

Perhaps it was an intricate escape from the turmoil that was my home-life. Perhaps I preferred to live in a the future rather than face my unstable present. Perhaps it was a ridiculous excuse to keep hanging out with my ex-boyfriend, for whom I still carried a torch.

Or maybe it's just that I've always loved digging myself out of complicated situations. Hmm...


Although I haven't posted in a while, posting has been on my mind. Driving to work (yes, New York friends, driving is part of my daily life now), eating my 25-minute lunch, the 5 second lull when classes change, the quiet right after Stella falls asleep -- these are all moments I find myself fantasizing about what I should write when I have the "time and energy." I just have to face the fact that I'll never have the "time and energy." I just have to make it happen from time to time.

But here's what's been on my mind:
1. Toddler obsessions: Stella's two plastic whales that are her version of a security blanket (and the fear that keeps us up at night that we'll lose one or both).
2. Cliched but true working mommy guilt: why do we suffer from this so much more than daddies?
3. Public education: the conundrum to end all conundrums. My thoughts on how our current system is flawed, how I'd like to fix it, and how I'd like to personally thank George W. Bush for No Child Left Behind and the insane amount of testing that came with it. (Bet you'd like to know HOW I'd thank him, wouldn't you?)
4. How quickly I've acclimated to the comfort of living in KY: laundry and dishwasher in apartment, parking space, balcony, central air, nice people, accessible everything. How easily I've adapted, and how I'm not sure I could go back to Big Apple Living after all this.
5. What I do miss about NYC. And it's not just my friends, although I miss my friends tremendously.

So, blog, like exercising and calling my loved ones, I vow to get to you more often.