Wednesday, November 28, 2007

going old school

Today our son had a shadow day at Archbishop Spalding school. For those not involved in the private school admission process, a "shadow day" is a day spent with a student of the school, attending classes with them, eating lunch in the cafeteria, along with a short interview and a writing sample.

We also had our parent interview the same day.

The school was very old-fashioned. I felt like I had been transported back to my high school. Cinderblock painted walls, ugly dark hallways, joyless students slumped over desks... GRIM.

Our son hated it. I was glad he didn't like it. I must be raising him right ;-)

Learning theory has come along way. Architectural design has made leaps and bounds. Work is no longer factory based/ So why are there still this factory style schools, churning out people whose main asset is the ability to sit at a desk for long periods of time?


Monday, November 26, 2007

poking procrastination in the eye

I am poking procrastination right in the eye. I have my paper topic approved, and it isn't even due for two more weeks. I bought my first xmas present today, and it isn't even close to xmas (by my reckoning). WOW!!!!

This isn't me. I wait until the very last minute, using that good old panic sweat as fuel. I can't seem to get moving without the jolt of adrenaline added by the fear of blowing a deadline.

So why the turnaround? I think I am just panicking early....

Saturday, November 24, 2007

application is in the mail

Our son's high school application to The Park School is in the mail. I have very mixed feelings about it. I want him to get in, if it's the right place for him. It is a lovely school, with the right values (i.e. mine). It is the kind of opportunity I want to provide. But. Is it right for my child, or is it right for me? Am I setting him up for success, or for failure? He would fit in, socially. He is certainly smart enough. But are his skills up to it?

Oh well. It is now out of my hands. We will see what happens.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

a grateful heart

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I have had a great year, and I'm approaching the holiday with a grateful heart. I give thanks for my wonderful husband, a terrific son, friends who enrich my life, a good and challenging job, interesting classes, amazing in-laws, a healthy new niece, a strong new connection with my brother.

I am truly lucky, and grateful for all of it!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

steeped in evil

It is the beginning of the holiday season, and I am steeped in evil. It is term-paper time. My tentative title is "A Candle in the Darkness: The Treatment of Evil in Literature". We have to cover all twelve works we read this semester, and discuss the treatment of evil, and posit our own theories. We also have to use at least 5 outside sources.

So every night I read a little evil. So far, I have read People of the Lie, The Roots of Evil, and am working through The History of Hell, and Evil, Ethics and Literature. It is amazing how a scholarly treatment of the subject can suck all the life out of it. Evil should be fascinating. It should be the car wreck you can't turn away from on the highway. It should be the thing you know is waiting in the dark basement. The poised snake, waiting to strike. It should not be dull.

It should be exciting enough to write a 18-20 page paper in the next three weeks.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

the expanding universe

I am enjoying watching my son's universe expand. This weekend he went with friends to Anime USA, an anime convention in Virginia. While there, he bought himself some jewelry (!) and some art (!!). Neither of these things has been on his horizon before. He is starting to be cognizant that clothing says something about you. It is a kind of social shorthand. And he can express his taste and interests through jewelry and art.

On Saturday he went to the con with several other teens, one of the kids' mother and her boyfriend. Today he went with a girl he "likes" and her mother. He navigated both social settings quite well, something he would not have been able to do even two years ago.

He is starting to find himself, and is beginning the journey of separating from us. It is a real pleasure to watch. It is more subtle than the excitement we felt when he started walking and talking, but it is no less momentous, I think.

And sweet.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Coveting is probably not good for the soul, but god help me, I COVET this:

This is from and if you haven't checked out his site, you really should. He is a craftsman, and has created a number of gorgeous items in the steampunk genre.

If I won the lottery, I would buy everything he has for sale. I really truly would. Daily objects should be things of beauty.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

thirteen is not a man

Okay, this is for all the lonely teachers out there. Thirteen is NOT a man. You may feel affection for your thirteen year old student. It is only affection. It is not LOVE, not lust. You are NOT soulmates.

The teacher that ran off to Mexico with her 13 year old student was just fired from her job. Before now, she was on administrative leave, despite having crossed state lines with a 13 year old boy.

I admit that this whole story hit a sore spot with me. I am the mother of a thirteen year old boy. I have spent thirteen years protecting him, watching out for him, warning him about strangers, when I apparently should have been telling him his teachers are DANGEROUS. Seriously, as my son has gotten older, I have started to relax. I assume pedophiles like kids that look like, well, kids. So as my son matures, I have begun to think he is "safe" from this sort of creep. And then another thirteen year old gets abused by a teacher.

Enough is enough.

Monday, November 12, 2007

public vs private education

A neighbor stopped by last night, to let me know about a community project. Our neighborhood is adopting the local elementary school, Govans Elementary. We will be purchasing much needed supplies from a wish-list each teacher provided. In my case, this means baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, and sweat pants (I have a pre-K classroom for this time).

We are doing this for complicated reasons, many of which come down to guilt. We don't send our children to Govans. Almost exclusively, the neighborhood children attend private schools in the area. Govans is a poor, urban elementary school, attended mostly by the children in the adjoining neighborhoods.

Most of us feel bad for abandoning the public school system. We "believe" in public education, we feel it is important, but we don't act on our belief, at least not in the form of putting our children into the school. And we realize that pulling our kids out makes the system weaker. We are involved parents who truly care about our kids getting the best education, i.e. we are exactly what the school needs to improve. The new principal of the school, when asked what the neighborhood could do to help, was pretty succinct. "Send your kids here."

If it were that simple, I would cheer. But. The school is terrible. It isn't working for the kids who are there now, and it wouldn't work for my child. I am unwilling to sacrifice my child's best interests for my principles.

So how do we get to the point where the public schools are good, and we don't need private schools to fill the gap? One of this country's greatest strengths is our free education, available to all children. It weakens us when we have a two-tier system, with good education for those who can afford it, and a poor education for everyone else. We need people with skills, with knowledge, in order for our country to thrive. How did we mess it up so badly? or has it always been this bad? and how do we fix it??

Monday, November 05, 2007

out of the blue

In the last couple of weeks, I've heard from two people that I had lost touch with. Oddly, I worked with both of them, at the same company, years ago, but heard from each separately and independently. I love this sort of "out of the blue" experience. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to know I am remembered.

I am also one of those people who look for patterns in things. So when I hear from two folks I knew in connection with each other, I see a pattern and wonder -- what is the universe telling me? Maybe nothing. Maybe things just line up that way some times, but I doubt it. I tend to think that the universe reveals itself (god, that sounds new agey as hell!) in bits and pieces, fits and starts. And so I watch, I listen, and hopefully I learn.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Choose civility

I LOVE THIS!!! Howard County has started a Choose Civility program, to encourage people to be more civil toward one another. I hope this catches on. I feel the breakdown in manners has been a real detriment to society.

A book by a Hopkins professor that I hope becomes a huge bestseller: