Thursday, April 10, 2014

OMG, Funniest Thing Ever! (Maria Semple)


(Originally appeared in the New Yorker.  I read it at the back of Maria's book, Where'd You Go, Bernadette? - GREAT book.)

(This made me laugh so hard I not only cried but I was also literally rolling on the floor.  I'm not kidding.)

'Hi, everyone!
The Mountain Room is gearing up for its Day of the Dead celebration on Friday.  Please send in photos of loved ones for our altar.  All parents are welcome to come by on Wednesday afternoon to help us make candles and decorate skulls.

Hi again,
Because I've gotten some questions about my last email, there is nothing "wrong" with Halloween.  The Day of the Dead is the Mexican version, a time of remembrance.  Many of you chose Little Learners because of our emphasis on global awareness.  Our celebration on Friday is an example of that.  The skulls we're decorating are sugar skulls.  I should have made that more clear.

Some of you have expressed concern about your children celebrating a holiday with the word "dead" in it.  I asked Eleanor's mom, who's a pediatrician, and here's what she said: "Preschoolers tend to see death as temporary and reversible.  Therefore, I see nothing traumatic about the Day of the Dead." I hope this helps.

Dear Parents:
In response to the email we all received from Maddie's parents, in which they shared their decision to raise their daughter dogma-free, yes, there will be an altar, but please be assured that the Day of the Dead is a pagan celebration of life and has nothing to do with God.  Keep those photos coming!

Perhaps "pagan" was a poor word choice.  I feel like we're veering a bit off track, so here's what I'll do.  I'll start setting up our altar now, so that today at pickup you can see for yourselves how colorful and harmless the Day of the Dead truly is.

The photos should be of loved ones who have passed.  Max's grandmother was understandably shaken when she came in and saw a photo of herself on our altar.  But the candles and skulls were cute, right?

Mountain Room Parents:
It's late and I can't possibly respond to each and every email. (Not that it comes up a lot in conversation, but I have children, too.)  As the skulls have clearly become a distraction, I decided to throw them away. They're in the compost.  I'm looking at them now.  You can, too, tomorrow at drop-off.  I just placed a "No Basura" card on the bin to make sure it doesn't get emptied.  Finally, to those parents who are offended by our Day of the Dead celebration, I'd like to point out that there are parents who are offended that you are offended.

Dear Parents:
Thanks to their group email, we now know that the families of Millie and Jaden M. recognize Jesus Christ as their Savior.  There still seems to be some confusion about why, if we want to celebrate life, we're actually celebrating death.  To better explain this "bewildering detour", I've asked Adela, who works in the office and makes waffles for us on Wednesdays, and who was born in Mexico, to write you directly.

Hola a los Padres:
El Dia de los Muertos begins with a parade through the zocalo, where we toss oranges into decorated coffins.  The skeletons drive us in the bus to the cemetery and we molest the spirits from under the ground with candy and traditional Mexican music.  We write poems called calveras, which laugh at the living.  In Mexico, it is a rejoicing time of ofrendas, picnics, and dancing on graves.

I sincerely apologize for Adela's email.  I would have looked it over, but I was at my daughter's piano recital.  (Three kids, in case you're wondering, one who's allergic to everything, even wind.)  For now, let's agree that email has reached its limits.  How about we process our feelings face to face? 9 A.M. tomorrow?

Dear Parents:
Some of you chose to engage in our dialogue.  Some chose to form a human chain.  Others had jobs (!) to go to.  So we're all up to speed, let me recap this morning's discussion.

- Satan isn't driving our bus.  Little Learners does not have a bus.  If we did, I wouldn't still need parent drivers for the field trip to the cider mill.  Anyone? I didn't think so.
-  Ofrenda means "offering".  It's just a thing we put on the altar.  Any random thing.  A bottle of Fanta.  Unopened, not poisoned.  Just a bottle of Fanta.
- We're moving past the word "altar" and calling it what is really is: a Seahawks blanket draped over some cinder blocks.
- Adela will not be preparing food anymore and Waffle Wednesday will be suspended.  (That didn't make us any new friends in the Rainbow and Sunshine Rooms!)
- On Friday morning, I will divide the Mountain Room into three groups: those who wish to celebrate the Day of the Dead; those who wish to celebrate Halloween; and Maddie, who will make nondenominational potato prints in the corner.

Dear Mountain Room Parents:
Today I learned not to have open flames in the same room as a costume parade.  ... I learned that I will be unemployed on Monday...
Happy Halloween!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Breaking News...It's Hard to Believe...We May Not Be Able to Admit It Yet...But Spring is Coming!

I couldn't believe it.  I had to call over my daughter to make sure I wasn't hallucinating.  It was astounding!  It was amazing!  I never thought I'd see the day.  I almost bent over and kissed the tiny little green shoots.

Spring is a possibility.  Winter will not, in fact, last forever.  I know, I know.  Take a moment to let it sink in.

I think we should all vow never to complain about the heat this summer.  Never.  Ever.

I can't remember the last time I will be this happy to see the spring.

And maybe it's too soon...but I have to add one more picture.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Around the Bay 30K!

I did my first Around the Bay 30K!  I am a trail runner, so I don't do road runs very often.  But this race, being so large and well-known, was on my bucket list.  It was quite something to run with thousands of other runners.  I loved watching the column of runners stream over bridges.  It is fun to run on roads with good views, as it's such a unique way to see the city.  Or crazy.  That too!

It was a well-run race, and the long sleeve technical shirt you get is awesome.  Also the hat and medal.  But please - thousands of runners means more port a potties needed.

I enjoyed reading the signs people held up.  Some of my favourites:

Worst. Parade. Ever.
Your Feet Hurt Because You're Kicking Butt!
Go, random stranger, Go!
You've Got Stamina...Call Me!
Can You Run Against Rob Ford?

I was so happy to see the Grim Reaper.  That sounds strange.  But it means, as he says, that The End is Near!  (Great make up, btw.)

I saw two people down on the ground and multiple others stretching out IT bands and sore legs.  I have been there, and it sucks.  I was so happy not to feel any IT band pain the whole race!  Thank you, foam roller.  My hips were sore by the end, but manageable.

I enjoyed the run, finished upright and smiling, and didn't injure myself.  Goal accomplished!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tom Odell - Hold Me

I love this British singer/songwriter.  His whole album is amazing.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

My children all have attitudes.  How did this happen?  Is it something in the water?

Oh, I know, it's just something everyone goes through.  It's part of growing up, of becoming independent. Yeah, yeah.  That doesn't mean I have to like it, does it?

Somewhere my parents are laughing and talking about 'karma'.

The other morning, it was the usual mad morning rush to get out of the house, and Ryan didn't have his gloves on.

I yelled, "Where are they?!"

He responded, "Somewhere over the rainbow."

Really?  Where does he get these things?

(I'm going to try this at work.  Where is that report, you want to know?  Somewhere over the rainbow.)

Another day recently, the school called me to say that my daughter's pants had gotten soaked with snow during break and that I needed to bring a new pair of pants over.  I was at work at the time.  I asked to speak with her, expecting that she would be upset.  She picked up the phone and called pleasantly, "Hey, mom, how's it hangin'?"

She is six years old.  (She was obviously devastated.)

My other son likes to mess with my mind.  I'll say, "Colin!  You haven't put your dish in the dishwasher!"

He will run in, throw the dish in the dishwasher and then say, "What are you talking about, Mom?  There's no dish! I don't know what you're talking about.  Jeez."  and he'll give me a strange look like I'M the crazy one.

I need to get out more!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Is There Anything More Fun Than A Maple Syrup Festival? (Rhetorical Question)

Okay, I admit it.  I love maple syrup.  What's not to love?  And I love a good maple syrup festival.  I love being in the woods on a good day, but woods that also contain a horse-drawn wagon ride and maple syrup?  Perfection!