Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The GGs arrive on the scene

I tell you what, Grandmom and Grandad McClain are movers and shakers. They moved and shook themselves all the way to Rochester from Louisville by car and kept busy the entire time they were here! Jackson calls them GGmom and GGdad (Greatgrandmom and Greatgrandad), hence the nickname, "The GGs." There were two things on my "I love you Grandad, will you please fix this?" List. That morphed into about 6 things, as he busied himself around our house: purchasing and using WD40 for all the squeeky doors, repairing a blind that had gotten wopperjawed, fixing the wiring so that a lamp would work, replacing the spray mechanism to two of our faucets, fixing the knob and handle to our front door, and working on a drain.

Meanwhile, Grandmom wouldn't sit down before she tidied Jackson's toys any chance she got, helped cooking and cleaning dishes, tended to Lilly's food and water, helped me organize all of my winter wear, sewed on a button and got out a stain from a coat, and motivated my quest to research winter wear options for my upcoming Minnesota WINTER.

Geez. Will I be that productive when I'm that age? I hope so. Enjoy the pics below. We had a blast. Thanks GGs!!! The Arthur's love and appreciate you!
We made a trip to an outlying town of Redwing, known for the shoe store and its pretty awesome pottery... this was at a park outlooking the area (jackson is playing in the street...err, I mean, waiting in the car)
GGmom does not let anything stop her! Here she is on hands and knees building blocks with Jackson! (Grandma Lynette, look at that great outfit you purchased Jackson!!!)
At one of Mayo's facilities, this is the crew during the tour Scott gave. Surprise, Jackson wanted down.
A breather in one of Mayo's BEAUTIFUL outside courtyards...
Jackson studying the floral landscaping.

Something has changed

Remember how I always describe my child as good-natured, low-maintanence, and generally content? Jackson chose the weekend GGdad and GGdad (Great Grandmom and Great Grandad) came into town to show the colors of a more hyper, vocally expressive, easily irritated, and awnry side we had not seen before. Quite crazy how he went to bed Friday night one kid and woke up Saturday morning another! At first, we discounted his hard-to-satisfy-ness as feeling icky from his 15 months shots, which happened Friday late afternoon.

But the reality is - since this behavior has continued for a few days - I think we're in a phase. Strolling him during the tour Scott gave the GGs of Mayo and enduring his outbreaks at a nice restaurant prove to be challenges now... they once were effortless endeavors. Once he realizes that his mother has no sympathy for whining or uncooperative behavior, he will become that angel again (yeah right!).

Pray for short phase. Pray for short phase. Pray for short phase.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Opposite of Love - FEAR

Oh, I was so angry today at school, I coulda rung a couple kids' necks. I seriously think my 7th grade study hall class could have seen steam coming out of my ears, if they'd looked hard enough.

I was SO lucky going through school. I have NO IDEA how I escaped the cruel and unfair manifestation of "cool" kids doing everything in their power to maintain that status, at the expense of those they deem "uncool." I was neither. Good ole, middle-of-the-ground Tricia.

But I remember watching it happen. And, now that I am adult, I have watched too much news, read too many articles, and learned too much about school shootings/violence to allow for ANY kind of intolerance of others to exist in MY classroom. I forbid it. I work desperately hard to set a culture and climate in my room that allows for love (OK, middle schoolers wouldn't call it that - but that's what it is... dropping the masks, letting go of defining "cool" and "not cool," and being the nicest versions of themselves). It's amazing, when it happens.

During my last class of the morning today, which I only have every other day, and which is just a study hall (so I really don't INTERACT or have a chance to build that same climate because they don't know me and I don't know them), I observed two students openly laughing about a story about a fellow student. Making fun. LOUDLY. Right in front of me. Right in front of those who had already gathered in the room. LIKE IT WAS OK. These two students are pretty funny kids, well-liked, witty - the kind of kids that have a natural leadership power that makes people listen. "Cool," I suppose.

I just let them finish their little mascarade. The period started. And then I called them to my desk. And I LET THEM HAVE IT.
It was so out of character for me that I think they were literally SCARED of me. Good. Let them know the wrath of Mrs. Arthur.

FEAR. It's a horribly debilitating entity in this world. It keeps those who FEAR losing their "cool" status maintaining that divide between themselves and those different from them. It prevents those with the "uncool" status from living into their amazing potential, for FEAR of the wrath they might receive by being themselves.

Yesterday I was watching the 5:00 news and the big story was how a high school in Minneapolis had a repeat outbreak of hate messages in the school. Messages on lockers and bathroom walls reading "All niggers should die." Are you kidding me?

Hate might be confused as the opposite of love. But give me one act of hate that isn't motivated by FEAR.

Ugh, nasty fear. I say it's the evil working in our world.

PS. I know this is so heavy, but I am SO glad I am working with young people. Think about what power teachers have to turn some of these habits upside down? As far as I'm concerned, math is secondary to that lesson of life.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy Arthurs and Lost Shoe




I tried to interest Jackson in another round of art class. But, to no avail. The introduction of chalk went so-so. He discovered that, when thrown on the concrete, one piece of chalk turns to two. This little math lesson seemed more important to him than making color with them. Oh well.


Also, you will see, upon looking pretty closely, that Jackson's sandal went overboard on a walk in our neighborhood yesterday. Thank goodness, our journey took us on a there and back, because we were well over a mile past the location of the shoe itself before we realized he was sporting only one. On our way back, expecting to see it cushioned in a nice husk of grass or safely on the sidewalk, we were quite surprised and tickled to view it smack dab in the center of the street. It made it out safe and sound!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cut

Did I tell you that I chopped the back of Jackson's hair? When his dad looked at him in the mall play place Saturday morning and then whispered to me, "I am pretty sure what we originally were going for as "shaggy" has turned into a "mullet," that was all it took. I got out our scissors and gave a swift and easy cut to the back. What's left may not be straight, but his mullet is now gone. Thank goodness.

My longest friend Rachel

This is a short, yet meaningful tribute to one of my best and longest friends, Rachel Jacobs. See, when I was in the first grade with her in Mrs. Hodge-Trice's class, we hit it off. Our parents were both involved with the PTA and became friends there, so between them and us - it was a match made in heaven. Rachel moved shortly after 1st grade to Richmond, KY (from Lou) and we kept in touch by writing REAL letters (imagine that, a true, bonified pen pal!) and making trips back and forth in the summer (I can still remember sitting in the back seat of one of those car rides with Mitchell, Rachel's dad, spouting off math problems, "If we're at mile 233 and we are getting off the interstate at mile 410, how many miles do we have to go?" Rachel beat me EVERY time... guess SHE shoulda been the math teacher, heh?).

From there she moved to St. Louis, and from there she moved to Dallas (Austin), TX. And from there, MOST recently, she moved to Chicago. All by her lonesome. A woman in control of her own destiny. I'm so proud of her and think she is one of the most intelligent and reflective friends I know. Not to mention the oldest one, who - despite our distance and lack of involvement in the daily workings of life - know the parts of each other that most people don't... the 6-year-old thru 29-year-old parts. That's a long time to know someone.

Rachel turns 29 today. And I wish her a happy, happy birthday. She got the news of being offered a new job and the news of her father's more optimistic health outlook for her birthday. Hope you get lots more, too, Rachel~!!!

Gorgeous

Goegeous, gorgeous, gorgeous... that's how our weather is right now. I have power and I have sunlight and I have 70-some degree temps. Which is more than can be said for my peeps in Col. and Lou. Poor things. I am just floored by all the ick yall have had to go through with Ike's aftermath in Kentucky and Ohio. When you get tired of going out to eat for meals, or slowly pitching your condiments in your fridge (due to power outage), take a drive to Minnesota. All is well here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Introducing Nancye






My dad is engaged! To a woman named Nancye. She and he visited this weekend here in Rochester for the first time... and it was a great chance to get to know Nancye well. Nancye lives in the same condo development in Louisville and they met there a few months ago. The two of them hit it off well immediately, and so here they are. ENGAGED!

I wanted to share a couple pictures (guess where??? at OXBOW PARK, where we ALWAYS take visitors!). Nancye taught Jackson how to play chase, so the two of them were constantly in a chasing war... so cute. And Jackson showed off all of his tricks for Papa John too: blowing kisses, dancing to music (halarious!), pointing when prompted to his hair, nose, and tooth (ears and eyes are taking awhile longer), hugging, signing "more" and "all done" (good God above, I thought I may never live to see te day my child used those motions - I felt like I was signing to a brick wall for the first 15 1/2 months of his life... but he got it!), and swinging on the swing (then subsequently cry when we had to leave the swing in the park).

Our delightful visitors left this morning... THANKS for a great time, Dad and Nancye!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Catching up for lost time





I totally forgot to post a few pictures from a few weeks ago. First few are of Grandma Diane and Grandpa Ricci during their stay (at Oxblow Park, our favorite place!), and the next few are at the local pool during the last really warm weekend.

A real fun day

As I mentioned before, Autumn is in full swing this week here in Minnesota. Today we dressed in sweatshirts and headed out to celebrate that fact with a hayride, apple picking, and animal-viewing at a fun orchard in a local small town. The event was planned by the Mothers and More group I have mentioned getting involved with here. (P.S. Shanti and Emily, I think, are budding into buds [did you get the clever play on words?] from that group. Yey! Shanti gave me her cell phone number... a big step in the friend-finding endeavor!) Quick funny story... Jackson, along with the other kids, decided he couldn't wait till home to crunch right into the readily available apples dangling juicily from the low-hanging branches. So from branch to mouth one went. Since it was getting to be lunch-time toward the end of our orchard visit, we watched him munch the whole thing down. About all that left were seeds! And then, on the car ride home, he was still hungry/cranky so we caved and handed him ANOTHER one of Fall's bounty from our stash (I know, enough natural sugar to wire a large mammel!). For the first couple minutes of the car ride home, he was vigorously crunching away. Then we heard him get quieter and looking, clearly, groggier... Scott and I about fell over laughing when, at the next stoplight, we turned around to find Jackson had grown SO sleepy that he was eating his apple with his eyes closed. EYES CLOSED! So funny.
















The apple-eating-in-the-car picture. In three minutes, he was "sleep eating."

Did I show you the "new" deck?

We've spent a great deal of time out on our newly stained/sealed deck the past couple weeks... ESPECIALLY since we purchased outdoor patio furniture to boot (MAJOR Labor Day Fall Sale)! See below the day the power washer came through and now the beautiful result. (Candles on patio table are the remaining evidence from tonight's Arthur Family Fall Festival: chili for dinner, apple pie for dessert and hot chocolate for night cap!).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ghandi & Frank Lucas

Last weekend, Scott and I spent two of our weekend nights in front of the TV watching a movie. Fri night was Ghandi. Add him to my list of favorite people. Jesus is #1 with the stories of his character, selflessness, servanthood, discipline and commitment to a higher calling on his life (regardless of whether you believe him to be God or not, given you own personal faith background) I used to have MLK placed right around 2 on the list. But I believe Ghandi just bumped him down. In watching that movie, I couldn't help but liken that man to Jesus. He was an amazing influence in his time, teaching about non-violence, the follies of money and material things, that we are all EQUAL in God's eyes, it goes on and on. Scott rolled his eyes when I placed "Ghandi" on Netflix. And they were still rolling right up to minute 5 of the movie. He was sucked in. If you are in a need-to-believe-in-mankind-again mood, watch this flick.

After Saturday night's movie, I felt like I needed to re-watch Ghandi. Because "American Gangster" could not have been more on the polar opposite side of the moral spectrum. Based on a true story, this movie is about the black man Frank Lucas, who propelled himself into a drug enterprise by eliminating the "middle man" in drug purchasing, going straight to the source in Vietnam and other eastern countries. A NY cop assigned to hunt down this man in a time when heroin was INFECTING the city and CORRUPTING the drug trafficing police ends up doing so succesfully, placing Frank Lucas behind bars.

The message we, as viewers, heard a few times throughout the movie is that Frank Lucas, the real man, could have done ANYTHING. He had that personality that exhibited the law of attraction. He looked at the "business" he ran as just that: a business. And the methods, style, intelligence, and leadership he used to run that business was impressive. He was so smart about the psychology of people, that HE could have led the people of India to independence. I guess what I'm trying to say here, is that some people got leadership and some people have less of it. Ghandi chose to use his for God and for people. Frank Lucas chose to use his for himself and for his pleasure.

But here's what we couldn't believe. In the process of imprisoning Frank Lucas, the cop who arrested him spends the next couple years "working" with Frank in jail to uncover all of the crooked drug trafficing police who were being paid off to keep heroin alive and well on the streets (those crooked cops may as well have been drug dealers, as far as I'm concerned - criminals just alike). In all that time together, Frank and the cop who nailed him became friends, kindred spirits if you will. And in the "special features" part of the DVD, where they show the REAL men (instead of D. Washington and R. Crowe)... we are told that one is Godfather to the other's grandchild. Like real, true FRIENDS. Frank is out of jail now. And the two spend TIME together. I couldn't get over it. They should be enemies. They should hate each other. I'm still talking about it. It just amazes me.

So, when you have rated R only eyes around, rent that movie. It's a downer, but a WELL done movie.

You may need to watch Ghandi a second time after exposing yourself to American Gangster.

Kentucky? Ohio?

What are your temps like?

Cuz here, we have moved into full-fledged FALL. I noticed last week a tree with about 8 yellow leaves on it. And although the army of green leaves surrounding them clearly outnumbered those few colorful ones, it was then that I realized it: Fall comes earlier here. Now we haven't moved into heavy sweatshirt weather or even need-a-hot-chocolate-to-make-it-through-an-evening (which happens every winter night in the Arthur home - in, you guessed it, the Cocoa-motion) kind of weather. But I can feel those days a coming. The temp at this moment is 62 degrees. Delightfully sunny, yet a bit brisk.

No leaves are FALLING. But a few more trees have become partially colorful this week. I LOVE Fall, so there are no complaints on my end... except that Jackson might be Halloweening in a parka if things progress too much more quickly. Ha.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Yey, day 1 just fine

Today went great. Tomorrow will be the true test because I have my full load (today my two 6th grade classes didn't see me, because they were "orienting" with their homeroom teachers). But Jackson did great with Miss Cassie, his 7 -11 am sitter - and I LOVE being back in a building filled with hormonal preteen entergy! Strange, I know.

One quick story. One of my students, Taylor, proved to be quite the little twirp today. Court Jester, smart ellic, Full of himself. I knew this kid was going to be a challenge when, after collecting his info sheet, read after the prompt "Parent Name(s)" : "BIGFOOT" Thanks, Taylor. Clever one. I'm gonna soccer punch that kid with MY big foot if he doesn't grow up. Ha!