Friday, June 15, 2012

A Modest Proposal

Sher, Pastor Mike Carlson, and Yaj
One week from tomorrow, Sheridan and Ya-Jhu are getting married. We are hosting the rehearsal dinner and making all the food for the reception and housing quite a few guests. Some prep has been done, but not nearly enough. So what am I doing tonight?

Blogging, of course! Click-clacking away at the computer keyboard helps me forget that a) the cake (a massive undertaking) so far exists only in my mind b) while the groom has (just) purchased a new suit, groomsman PJ has (just) discovered that his suit pants are AWOL and c) my petition to the folks at "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" for a total house overhaul has, to date, gone unanswered. Distractions, please!

And here's one: for this, my upcoming 55th post (but who's counting? me!)--one for each year of my life--I am issuing a challenge to you, Constant Reader. Suggest a subject for my next post! Few holds barred (you know that this is a family blog, right?). What topic would you like to see me wax, if not eloquent, just plain wax about? I am in the mood to tackle a new subject!! Send me your thoughts in the next few days and I will choose the material for my next blog post.

Meanwhile, wish us luck as we attempt to pull it all together for Sher and Yaj, two of my favorite people on earth, who deserve a beautiful day and all the best life has to offer. We can do this, right? Right? Thank you, I think so too. Mostly.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Home Sweet Homeschool

Sher composing

PJ, happy U.D. high school grad
So now there are three. Three homeschooled teens out of five total kiddos. Evan and PJ loved traditional high school, and thrived there. Indeed, had they asked to homeschool I cannot say if they—or I—would have survived the experience. Both boys were wont to procrastinate about assignments until zero hour (or beyond). When Evan was in fifth grade, he completely blew off a book report, a diorama affair involving shoeboxes, construction paper and glue. Not only did he not make his diorama, he didn’t even bother to read the book. To teach him a lesson, I marched him into class, empty-handed. His golden-hearted teacher, Mrs. Ulrich: “Now, Evan, you didn’t do the assignment so I can’t give you an A. But if you get it done you can certainly get a B+!” Yay! Lesson learned! Don’t bother following directions, you’ll always get a second chance! PJ was not much better, waiting till the very last minute most of the time. It was challenging enough mothering these two without attempting to teach them as well. 

Sheridan, Rosie and Julie were different. For a variety of reasons, when they were high school juniors they flew the Upper Dublin coop. Sher had music conservatory on his radar screen; to that end he was spending six hours a day composing and practicing—on top of a regular school schedule. Rosie was in Thailand as a junior, and returned to the States a different person—or at least, not a person thrilled by pep rallies and locker decorating. Julie was restless, dreaming of travel and work and more of an independent life. In each case, we agreed to pull them out of school for home education.

Julie in London
It’s been quite a ride. All three kids had a plan, and it just fell to Steve and me to get out of their way and let them go for it. Sheridan wrote some terrific papers and aced Algebra II. Rose took Astronomy at community college. Julie used her trips to London, Guatemala and Hawaii as inspiration for essays, photo journal and poetry. I feel silly accepting praise for teaching them—they really taught themselves. In addition, it was a total joy to have them around during the day. Julie and I have gotten some great walks in; Rose and I enjoyed coffee dates; I loved my sneak peeks at Sher’s new pieces.

Yesterday I accompanied Jules for her annual portfolio review. Her homeschool evaluator looked over all of her year’s work and pronounced it complete. Now it will go to the school district for another examination. Julie is bubbling over with plans for her senior year—a trip to Italy, Chemistry at community college, 25 books to read. If her experience is like her siblings', she’ll get into a good college with no problem.

However they’ve been schooled, they are on their way. Responding to learning in their own styles. One by one on the launch pad, eager to jump into the rest of their lives.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Adventures in Babysitting

Steve and I weren’t exactly social butterflies when our brood was young, but because I was quite often performing, we funded college (or so it seemed) for a parade of babysitters. Most of them we loved—Karin, Liz, Kristy, Beth—and the kids loved them too. There were troubles with a few. I recall one summer when a young lady was our regular sitter while we were running the children’s theatre. She raved about my cookies and brownies, so I made sure there was always a supply of goodies when she came over. One night when we got home, she was passed out on the sofa. When she came to, she informed us that she was diabetic and probably shouldn’t have been eating sweets. Oops. Another time we made dinner for everyone just before we left, and returned five hours later to find the roast chicken and fixings still sitting on the counter, spoiling in the heat, and the babysitter on the phone in the kitchen with a friend, totally oblivious. 

We couldn’t wait for Sheridan to be old enough to watch his sibs. At 12, we figured he was ready to take on the responsibility for a short while. I put Julie to bed and off we went to a rare dinner out. About an hour later, I called home to check in. Sher answered the phone with “Hi—wait. Are you not here?” Seems he was so engrossed in composing that he hadn’t even registered our rather pointed goodbyes. With visions of 4 year old PJ running amok, we sped home. Luckily, all was well, but we got the message from our absent-minded professor.

Evan, a popular sitter
When it was Evan’s turn, he quickly became the go-to sitter, especially for families of boys. He played football with them, and soccer, and video games, and Legos. He didn't seem to mind babysitting, and earned a pretty penny doing so. In contrast, Rose sat because of the cash only, and was expert at setting early bedtimes (6 PM if she could swing it!) so that she could read or watch TV uninterrupted.

PJ was another Evan—rough and tumble and much in demand. Now Julie is our resident babysitter, and she’s amazingly good. Children and parents love her. She plays with the kids willingly, and not only cleans up after a meal, but straightens other rooms as well. Her customers get a lot of bang for their buck.  

One of these days the grandbabies will start to arrive. What kind of parents will my offspring be? Can I base my guesses on their babysitting styles? Probably not—I couldn’t have cared less about children and was a Sheridan/Rose kind of sitter. Look at me now.  I’m sure they’ll all do fine. 

Then it will be their turn to hire teens and hope for the best when they go out. Circle of life! I believe in guardian angels, and I pray they will watch over them all: the parents, the sitters and the sat.