Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My kids' school is the best

When we were doing school planning for Jake, he was set to start kindergarten at Redding School of the Arts. I knew the founders, and we really liked everything about the school.

Then came the divorce (can I just start calling my life BD & AD?) and transportation issues and afterschool care seemed overwhelming. So they went to Manzanita, and West Redding Preschool for their afterschool care.

Both great schools. Honestly. Jake's kindergarten teacher was amazing. She is an amazing, nurturing woman, and a wonderful teacher. Of course, because it's a public school, they promptly transfered her to 5th grade.

Jake's first grade year went well. His teacher wasn't so warm, but first grade is different, anyway. She learned his personality, and what made him tick, and how he learned, and he did very well.

This year, Jake started 2nd grade, and Emme started kindergarten, and it came to a screeching halt. Jake hated school. His grades were poor. He was bored, and acted up. His math skills seemed to regress. His reading stopped getting better.

Every morning I'd drop Emme off at school and she would cry and cry and cry. And run out of the room to try to follow me. She was learning well, but the funny thing was that often I'd stop into the classroom to help out and the TV would be on. She watched at least 3 half-hour programs a a 5 hour day.

We did our research, and decided on North Woods Discovery School. It's a charter school. There are only 200 kids in k-8. The principal knows them each by name. They have music and art and drama and they focus on science, math, and technology. These kids are amazing.

3 1/2 months later, and Jake is at his grade level for all subjects, and he LOVES school and loves learning. Emme races to her class without a backward glance. They are excited to go to school every day.

Tonight they had an ice cream social at Coldstone. All the proceeds are going to support their music program. The xylophone group played (they want marimbas, but can't afford them yet). They're cleverly called the Mallet Heads.

We had a great evening, eating ice cream, listening to the beat of music from Zimbabwe and Latin America.

Monday, May 19, 2008

It Came from Beneath the Sea

Thanks to Google Alerts, I found this faboo blog that wrote about my father yesterday! WooHoo! Since he died when I was two, and he was 70, I don't remember him, but thankfully there are lots of folks out there who seem to find him interesting enough to write about him still.
Monster Movie Music

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My Stirring Family - Help!

A couple weeks ago I was reading Shane's book (rereading it now) and he talks about abortion, and how life doesn't end at birth - maybe we should consider having a pregnant girl move in.

Tonight we were getting ready to greet the Stirring kids (I'm helping out in the infant room) and one of the girls had a prayer request...she needs a place to stay - NOW. Roommate issues necessitated her moving out, she's been staying on couches, and is running out of options. Without thinking, I offered my son's room - he sleeps on a mattress in my room, so it's basically just storage right now. And she accepted! And - she's five months pregnant and alone.

So, if anyone out there has some extra full-size sheets, they'd be most welcome! My son's black sheets (he loves them) show every bit of dog & cat hair, no matter how frequently they're washed. I want to offer her a little something more - girly.

Unrelated note - I was wondering today how I'd manage in the infant room - with my back. All of a sudden I got an idea - grabbed one of Jake's balls. Kind of like a tennis ball, but softer. I laid on my back and put the ball right under where it hurt. The pressure felt great. I laid there and thought about healing...and heard a very loud pop. And it's okay now! Still a bit sore, but nothing terrible. This is after two chiropractors and a physical therapist tried to get the joint back in line, without success. So, guess who I'm thanking today? PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!

Off to straighten up Jake's room, as our newest friend arrives tomorrow!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

So, I haven't been blogging

I made a vow I'd post every day this year. Basically, I've been sucking at it. Meet my nemesis, pictured above.

When I was a kid, my step-dad had problems with his sacroiliac. I thought that was hysterical....not the fact he was in the pain, but the NAME OF IT! Really, it's ridiculous, isn't it?

Anyway, I've been having pain there since I was 18. I remember EXACTLY when it started. Of course, I was taking 6 dance classes a week, sleeping too little, working and studying too much. I could actually pop it back in myself.

Fast forward a few years, and it took a MAJOR back seat to my endometriosis. In fact, when I'd show doctors where it hurt, they immediately all thought it was referred pain.

So, the older I get, the worse it gets. I mean WORSE. I mean beyond painful. How do you do it, Sean?????

Now, I've found a doc who has shown me on an x-ray that I'm not imagining the pain. Actually, the technical term he used was that it was ENTIRELY mucked up. He wants me to get an MRI and have someone stick a giant needle in in the joint. Every three months.

If I could even afford that, I might consider it. But worst of all, HE. HAS. BANNED. ME. FROM. BELLY. DANCE!!!!!! He has NO IDEA how wonderful it feels to balance a sword on your head! He has no idea how dance has carried me always. You name it - I started with ballet (pre-ballet, actually), tap, modern, jazz, African. And middle eastern dance, the one in which I'd found myself. The dance of the desert, of women, of just goll-durn fun!

How belly dance SAVED. MY. SANITY. during my divorce. AP-PARENTLY, though, hip circles and ohmis aggravate the SI joint.

And my hypermobile joints don't help.

I didn't even blog for Mother's Day.

A most troubling day for me.

My mom died when I was 10. I loved her as all little girls love their moms - with an unconditional and all-encompassing love. I remember the love of reading she passed on to me. The nights we'd stay up late, snuggling and watching Alfred Hitchcock movies. The way we ate artichokes, and the marrow out of bones. The way she cared for me when I was sick, or when I burned my leg when I was nine. Though it must have been horribly difficult, she cleaned my 3rd degree burn every day and convinced me I would live (since I'd heard that people with 3rd degree burns died, I was convinced it was happening to me). She was so beautiful. She was, really. She was a model, and started a modeling agency in LA with Nina and Virgina Blanchard - really, look it up.

The night my parents met at the Trocadero restaurant in LA. My father, the Russian, saw my mom across the room. The next day the "Daily Variety" had a headline that told what he said when he saw her. "My heart is on fire!" Big time.....

So, when Mother's Day rolls around, I used to just withdraw, because I get cranky. It got a little better after I became a mom myself, but I still MISS. MY. MOMMY.

And frankly, when the kids were younger, it still didn't mean that much.

But this year, Jake wrote me a letter:

For Mom, by Jake.
Mom, you are:
Lovely as a puppy, lovely as a kitten, and beautiful as a diamond.
Mom, I love how: you care for me when I am sick, you are full of surprises, and I love you very much.
You are my mom.
You are my hero and my role model.
Happy Mother's Day!
Love, Jake

I think Mother's Day is my favorite holiday, after all.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Make a Mother's Heart Stop

Went to bed early last night. Woo hoo. I have "nesty" kids. They like to sleep with me. The three of us share a two-bedroom apartment. Jake has his own room, and Emme and I share a bedroom. It's plenty big enough for her twin bed, my queen bed, two dressers, a toybox, and a bookcase. I've finally been able to get the kids out of my nice queen bed by putting Jake's mattress on my floor. He doesn't like being in his room by himself. Frankly, I can't blame him. It's a new concept, a room to oneself. Kids almost always grew up sharing rooms. Heck, when I was in a foster home in high school, we averaged 20 people in a five bedroom house. Even with a couple kids on a sofabed in the living room, and a couple of rollaways, we still had at least four to a bedroom. And I loved it.

So, last night, Emme was sound asleep in her bed. I put Jake to bed about 8:30, and decided to crawl into bed myself. Back pain has necessitated medications that make me sleeeepy. I read for a few minutes, then nodded off.

Something woke me at 11:15. I was having a strange dream (funny how I remembered it then, but can't now). Decided to get up for a glass of water. I looked over at Emme, sleeping peacefully. Tried to pull her thumb out of her mouth. Hah.

Looked down at Jake's bed. No Jake. Hmmmm, he must have climbed into my bed. No Jake. Maybe he went into his own room???? No Jake. Okay, maybe he was having trouble sleeping, and went downstairs. No Jake. By now, I'm panicking. Searching everywhere. Doors are still double locked. What in the world? Calm down. Search logically.


Sound asleep. The cat was next to him on one side, and the dog on the other. I looked under both sides of the bed, to see if I could pull him out. I was afraid I'd wake him up, so I left him there. This morning he had no memory of sleeping under the bed, as when we woke up this morning - he was back IN MY BED.

By the way, if you seem him, don't tell him you saw a picture of him wearing a necklace. Just tell him his glasses are cool, okay?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Circle of Life

Driving to school this morning. Beautiful day, happy children, relaxed mom.

"Mom, were you ever pregnant?" asked my 8 year old son. "No, honey. Since you and your sister were adopted, I was never pregnant"

"When a woman is pregnant, it's the beginning of a new life cycle."

"Yes, Jake. It is."

"Just like a bug."


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Do Not Stand Silent

Do Not Stand Silent: Remembering Kristallnacht 1938
Days of Remembrance, April 27 - May 4, 2008

“If you saw a fanatical mob pillage and burn a church or synagogue you would not stand silent...”
— Thomas E. Dewey in The New York Times, November 12, 1938, p. 4.

The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as our nation's annual commemoration of the Holocaust, just as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is our permanent living memorial to the victims. This year Holocaust Remembrance Day is Friday May 2, 2008. The Museum has designated "Do Not Stand Silent: Remembering Kristallnacht 1938" as the focus for the 2008 observance.

Seventy years ago, on November 9-10, 1938, the Nazis staged vicious pogroms (state sanctioned, anti-Jewish riots) called Kristallnacht against the Jewish community of Germany. Initially a cynical reference to alleged Jewish wealth (hence the literal meaning, “Night of Crystal”), the name Kristallnacht (now commonly translated as “Night of Broken Glass”) refers to the untold numbers of broken windows of synagogues, Jewish-owned stores, community centers, and homes plundered and destroyed during the pogroms. For over 48 hours, violent mobs—made up of Nazi Party officials, Nazi storm troopers, and Hitler Youth dressed in street clothes and joined by some civilians— rampaged through the streets of German cities assaulting Jews and vandalizing their property. They destroyed hundreds of synagogues, setting many of them on fire. Under orders to let the fires burn but to prevent the flames from spreading to other buildings, firefighters stood by. Antisemitic mobs smashed shop windows and looted thousands of Jewish-owned stores. They desecrated sacred artifacts such as Torah scrolls and ravaged Jewish cemeteries. About 100 innocent Jews lost their lives in the violence.

Nazi officials proclaimed the Jews responsible for the riots, and imposed a collective fine of one billion Reich marks (about $400 million at 1938 rates) on the German-Jewish community. Acting on orders from Gestapo (secret state police) headquarters, police officers did nothing to prevent the destruction. Instead, they arrested nearly 30,000 Jewish men aged 16 to 60 and deported them to concentration camps simply because they were Jewish. There the SS subjected them to brutal treatment. Most of the men were released over the next three months on the condition that they begin the process of emigration from Germany.

Many ordinary people looked on as Nazi mobs assaulted Jews and Jewish-owned property. Most disapproved but took no action. Some, especially young men, were drawn to the wanton violence and plunder and joined in the destruction. Some few individuals attempted to provide aid and support to the victims of the riots. Their actions illustrated the limits of Nazi antisemitic propaganda and were a reminder of the many opportunities for individuals to show compassion and concern, without necessarily endangering themselves or their families.

One of the most striking actions on Kristallnacht was that taken by police Lieutenant Wilhelm Krützfeld, the commander of a police precinct in Berlin. In the early hours of November 10, 1938, Nazi hooligans prepared to set the Oranienburger Strasse synagogue on fire. Lieutenant Krützfeld rushed to the scene and ordered the mob away. He explained that the synagogue had been a protected historical landmark for decades and, drawing his pistol, that he would uphold the law requiring its protection. Krützfeld ordered the fire brigade to stand guard to ensure the integrity of the synagogue. Additionally, in at least three German villages (Warmsried, Derching, and Laimering) civic leaders and local clergy acted to stop the riots against Jews in those villages. In Leipzig, sacred Torah scrolls were saved from destruction and desecration when an anonymous phone call warned the community of the impending violence. Long thought lost, the scrolls were discovered in 1998 hidden in the roof of the library at the University of Leipzig.

During the pogrom and its aftermath, some sympathetic officials quietly informed Jewish friends that their names appeared on lists for arrest. Jewish men across Germany sought desperately to hide. Some ordinary Germans and Jews holding non-German passports (who were exempt from the police action) offered them sanctuary and assistance. Ephraim Handler, the leader of the Jewish community in Magdeburg, for example, escaped arrest. With the help of friends, he was able to book passage on the train to Berlin and back, thereby avoiding arrest. Famed German boxer Max Schmeling hid the two teenage sons of his Jewish friend, David Lewin, in his rooms at the Excelsior Hotel in Berlin. Other Germans made clear their disapproval of the pogroms. Father Bernhard Lichtenberg, a Catholic priest at St Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin, closed each evening service after Kristallnacht with public prayers for Jews and those held in concentration camps.

Johanna Gerechter Neumann describes Kristallnacht in Hamburg [1990 interview].
Johanna Gerechter Neumann describes Kristallnacht in Hamburg [1990 interview]. USHMM - Collections
Kristallnacht was a turning point in history. The pogroms marked a shift from antisemitic rhetoric to violent, aggressive anti-Jewish measures that would culminate in the Holocaust—the systematic, state sponsored murder of Jews. The violence shocked the world that had been hopeful for peace in the aftermath of the Munich agreement less than six weeks before. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States commented in a press conference on November 15, 1938, “I myself could scarcely believe that such things could occur in a twentieth century civilization.” He recalled the U.S. ambassador to Germany for consultation.

Taken from the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website.

Right now there is a genocide in Darfur. Once you've heard about it, can you really stand silent? I'm fasting for Darfur right now, and sending the money to Gabriel.
Darfur Redding

Stop Genocide Now