Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I just read online that a young mother at the edge of Houston hung herself and her four daughters in the closet of their mobile home. She hung them with sashes and belts - strips of cloth. The eight month old baby survives but the mother and the two, three, and five year olds died. The commentary says the other (poor, latina) "appeared depressed". Obviously she felt desperate and hopeless whether clinically depressed or not. I wonder if she was delusional or had simply given up. I wonder why life seemed so impossible for her and her girl children. I see this through so many lenses - brokenhearted grandmother seeing life cut off, mental health practitioner, feminist, liberal, human being concerned about classism and rascism. I look at the picture of the weedy toy strewn yard of that mobile home and then AOL news flashes to a special feature on the mansions of the superrich. " Money doesn't buy happiness " and crime happens in rich houses too but this seems like a societal issue to me - another family that is a casualty of our increasingly bimodal society. However I look at this story it makes me feel sad and sick.
Chris called me from the car about an hour ago to tell me that he and Ruth have moved back into their house in Round Rock. He was just driving back with food for them and James and the kids, who were helping unpack. It is cool to have them back, and I was especially touched and pleased by his consideration, calling to tell me all was well and that it is so much better coming back this year with no broken foot and the legacy of a good (not terrible) tenant. Seems like htis sumer is getting off to a good start.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Zachary is five, and he looks it - has crossed a threshold into being almost a school boy - bigger, very self-directed, more focused, using and working on understanding more and more words for complex concepts. He loved his zoo day, jumping from stepping stone to stepping stone, pretending to be a frog, calling back to the monkeys, stepping back for just a second after his first sight of the enormous anaconda. He did see the elephants, his reason for choosing the zoo as a destination - unfortunately didn't see them for long because he scraped his knee near the elephant enclosure and needed a band aid. I was impressed that both of his siblings bought him birthday presents - with their money and their planning - a stuffed elephant from KK and an elephant truck from Danny. They were thoughtful shoppers. We also rode the Breckenridge Park tiny train. Its fifty years old this year and I rode it for the first time when I was nine. I like it that our family has roots in one place and three (sometimes even four) generations have childhood memories of the same special places.

Bob had to go back to Corpus to finish closing the classroom and I miss him tonight but it was good having him home with a sense that he will be here for at least the summer. I cleaned out our closet Friday night, made it a two person closet again, put our favorite sheets on the bed. Today we grocery shopped together and layed in supplies for favorite meals. And last night we went to half price books and bought fantasy (Bob) and mystery (me). Ruth and Chris move home tomorrow, back into their sweet little house and we all be able to enjoy the pool again. I'm feeling happy about this summer.

In the midst of this disturbing war in Iraq, I found myself wanting to fly the flag this Memorial Day. I watched a national concert at Arlington National Cemetery and a special on four Congressional Medal of Honor winners fro a single town in Colorado. It touched me that the men who won the medal were honored more for extraordinary efforts to save others (military and civillian) than for killing - and that each of the heroes spoke of opposing soldiers with respect and wiht a clear sense of their humanity. They spoke of the horror of war - of the fear they felt. And the Memorial Day concert ended with "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." I know I'm idealistic - but that does give me a little hope.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bob is on his way home, though he will have to go back Tuesday to finish cleaning out the classroom. I didn't think one day cold be enough to finish. I wish I weren't working so I could go help him Tuesday, but my practice is really full right now and Tuesdays tend to be the busiest days. Bob didn't get the TA Brown job he interviewed for and hasn't gotten more calls about interviews. I don;t know if that means anything - if the principals are even calling yet. Maybe his age is working against him or maybe they really want Spanish speakers, or maybe they just haven't called yet. I'm OK emotionally with this as long as I don't set it up in y mind that it is better one way or the other - that he stay at Menger or come back. I know that I would like to have him here and it owuld be easier on us physically and financially and more fun - but I can't know that it is the right or best thing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The kids had their last day of the school year today. Now it is summer (for them) if not truly by season. Bob finishes up at Menger on Friday. When he comes home for the summer this time he may be coming home for good. Ruth and Chris are moving back into their house next week. KK is about to get her long desired and saved for puppy. So much is changing. I feel anxious about so much change, but also hopeful that these will be good changes for all of us.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Today was my last special Monday with just Zachary at my house while his parents worked and his big brother and sister were at school. Next week it will be summer and in fall Zachary will be a big kid at school too. He was a delight today. I'm enjoying watching his vocabulary blossom - things like knowing the name of the strap at the back of the sandal. Its easy to forget how challenging it is to learn to use language skillfully until you have the honor to experience someone learning it.

Next week Bob will be home for the summer, maybe for good. Ruth and Chris will be on the verge of moving back into their house. So much is changing - good changes. All change is unsettling and takes energy. I think everyone else in the family is more willing to initiate change than I am. I get settled, OK, peaceful with things as they are, even if they can be optimized.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fundamentalist demagogue Jerry Fallwell died today. I never wished him dead, and do believe strongly in freedo of speech and of religion, but I'm glad his voice is silenced. He claimed that AIDS was God's retribution for homosexualty and in general preached a harsh, sexist, nonuniversalist religion, nothing like the Christianity of the Sermon on the Mount. I hope the influence of the Christian right is beginning to fade - that more and more people will reject its oversimplifications.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bob's fourth graders did not do well on the TAKS test, either math or reading - much lower passing rates than last year - and he really feels that they have not learned their math, that it isn't just a testing artifact. He is sad and it has to be hard to go through the last week and a half with an injunction to keep teaching them math so they won't start next year behind, but very little motivation among the kids. Its hard to know what happened. He used many of the same techniques that worked well on TAKS preparation last year. I don't know how responsible it is appropriate for him to feel. He is supposed to teach them the math - and you can't teach someone who is not focused on learning. I hope this doesn't keep him from getting a job in Austin, since now he really feels like it would be better to have a fresh start somewhere without the history of this disappointment.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mothers' Day has ended and I feel good about the day, really loved by the generations that come after and connected to the generations that came before- right. I spent the day surrounded by family - cooking breakfast for the crew, feeding it to KK in bed where she lay exhausted from having danced until midnight at Ruth's friend's wedding last night, reveling in Danny's delight as he prepared breakfast dessert (Ooey Gooey chocolate delight) for all, enjoying church with a sleepy KK and a very grown up communion recieving Danny, spending a quiet afternoon with Ruth while Bob took the kids out, buying books, eating supper with Joanna while the kids played. I am tired tonight and struggle with the details of my busy life but really, it couldn't get much better than this. I just need to remember.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I was delighted this evening to have gotten to see Ruth's photographs of the children she taught and loved on the Fun Bus this semester. THey hang in basket hang, giggle, mug, pose, look sad, happy sweet, goofy, adorable. She catches each one and I want each one in my lap. I am so glad she was able to take her camera on her last day of this semester with the Fun Bus - to bring the kids home to me, nad also to merge two of her gifts, teaching children and catching spirit through photography.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bob had his interview with TA Brown and feels hopeful. The principal will probably be needing two teachers and will let Bob know by May 25, I' nervous about this job search process. Its expensive to keep two households and hard to live apart, but we know he has a job he likes at Menger. I hope he can get something that feels as good here in Austin, and the coward in me doesn't like "upsetting the apple cart" "trying to fix what isn't broken". I iss him though and a more normal family life would be good for all of us. Its just hard to wait.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

This weekend has been so sweet - ending as it did with Danny's first Holy Communion on Bob's and my eighteenth wedding anniversary. Danny was handsome and excited - also serious - in his new taupe suit and white tie, wearing the lace hankerchief that was his bonnet at baptism and will be featured (should he and his bride choose) in the boquet at his wedding. St. Austin's is a tender family church, full of good spirit and hope. I loved sitting in the reserved pew, full with family and old friends (family of the heart), celebrating a life cycle event.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

This weekend is so busy - so full of important life cycle events and moments from which change may flow.

Bob and Chris both attended the Austin Indepenent School District job fair - stood in lines, handed in resumes - so many teachers, some of them experienced, looking for jobs. Its hard to know who will be hiring. Bob was invited already to one interview - at TA Brown as little school a few blocks away from his old house (also a school James attended). It is exciting that he could be teaching there.

In the dance demonstration today, KK danced for the last time as a member of the Ballet Austin Youth division. Next year she will be part of the preprofessional division - no more lavender leotard - deep wine is next I think. I loved watching the demonstration - seeing the improvement of the dancers level by level from the little pre ballet children, awkward but very cute on stage in their blue leotards through the levels of youth ballet, one through three, each level markeclly more skilled and dancerly, poised, elegant, technically proficient. This year KK was one of the fabled "big dancers" who performed demonstration at the end of the program, showing the younger dancers what is in store if they keep working. She was required to wear just a touch of makeup and her hair in a low bun, Spanish style, at the nape of her neck. She wa sgorgeous and danced with grace and confidence. I of course remember her as a deaf kindergartener afraid to go back to ballet because she couldn't understand the teacher, as a ssecond grader losing her step in performance, even last year at the beginning struggling with the moves during watching day in character class. She has worked so hard, learned so much.

Tomorrow is Danny's day - his first Holy Comunion.