Friday, August 26, 2016

A willing learner and effective communicator

Sophia started school last week. With the return to our routine, I also started something new - job hunting.

It's not just any job that I'm hunting for. It's a job with purpose. I want to be in a position to make a difference, and I can wait a while or take a completely entry-level job to make that happen. 

Over the last couple of years, I've been the co-president of the Parent Teacher Organization at Sophia's school. She is lucky to go to one of the best schools in one of the best districts in the state. 

Along with the commitment I made to Sophia's school, I've been volunteering at a school in the Normandy District, which is in a much different position than Clayton. It's unaccredited, and its students can transfer out to other schools in the area as long as it remains that way. The two schools can be seen as completely different in some ways. However, in many ways, they are the same. I spend most of my time in both schools in the office. The administrators of both schools know all the kids by name. They are happy to see them in the morning, although in Normandy, there is a pushback on the kids who come in late too often. In Clayton, that's not really an issue. In both schools, the needs of the kids come first, and every step forward is celebrated. The difference is in the steps.

All this to say, I have grown a passion for equity in education. The kids in both schools are bright and sweet and want to do the right thing. They want to go to college, and for the most part, they still believe they can do just about anything. And, for the kids in Clayton, even the ones who don't live in the district, almost anything is within reach. For the kids in Normandy, it's going to be tougher. They shouldn't have to work twice as hard to get the same result. But they do. It's not only one problem - money or teachers - it's a thousand problems. Just because it's huge, doesn't mean it shouldn't be tackled and chipped away at. 

Lots of organizations are working on different aspects of these issues. Food, supplies, extra reading help, behavioral intervention to name a few. There are organizations working toward fixing the gaps at the high school level, so kids can come out and get a quality college education or get connected in the workforce. I have some ideas about which areas I want to invest in, but honestly, I just want to get the clear to jump in and I'll figure it out.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

First Day of School

Sophia is a little less giddy about the first day of school, but having friends around certainly helps! Can't wait to hear about the first day of fourth grade.

Monday, August 15, 2016

dog walker walkin' dog

Hey guys this is Sophia! I wanted to tell you about my experience walking this dog. This dog's name is Beau. He belongs to my neighbor. She is letting me walk her dog for $$$$$$! I don't just do it for the money though. Although the money is great.  I do it because I love dogs. Dogs are the best creatures on the planet. This was the first time I walked Beau. Beau is so cute!!!!! I REALLY like walking dogs now.  Even though I also have to be on "doody" duty.  It's 100% worth it. Also this was my last day of summer :(. Well lets end on that happy note. Bye!!!!!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Farewell, Summer!

School starts for Sophia on Tuesday. It's so hard to believe that another summer has come and gone. I love summer. That's an understatement. This summer, especially, has been one to remember.

I haven't had PTO work, and I decided at the beginning that I was going to wait until school actually starts up to pursue the next phase of whatever life will bring me. So, Sophia and I have been living completely and totally in the moment together.

Our huge list of things we wanted to do this summer is almost entirely checked off. We got more accomplished than we have in several summers. We've also had more time just hanging out at home - playing video games and watching TV, yes, but also lots of outdoor time and creative play. I have fully enjoyed this summer with Sophia. She turns 10 in September, and I just don't know how much longer she is going to want to spend her summer with her mom. I also don't know how much time there will be to spend together next summer.

Anyway, it's been the best summer I can remember, honestly. I am sad to see it go.

Here are a few highlights.

Tea for the ladies

Flo Rida and fireworks!

Feeding birds at Grant's Farm. (I was outside the cage because I do not like birds.)

Ah, the Circus!

Lots of fun with the Boysies, too!

And an adventure at City Museum.

This is just a slice of the fun we've had this summer, but it'll have to do.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Vacation Post

I truly intend to post more than once a month, but the summer has been so full and fun, partially full of couch laying and snuggling, that a blog post seems like way too much work. This does not bode well for my or Sophia's productivity in a few weeks, but I guess we'll deal with that when it comes.

We have been back for almost a week from our vacation to Portland and Seattle. That was one of the best trips we've had yet, and we've had a bunch of good ones.

We had a couple great beach days in Seattle. Erick and I got a little sunburnt. I always forget that the Seattle sun packs a little extra punch. It was worth it, though. I had my face sunscreened up, but my arms were sorely lacking. So at least I hope I didn't add any new cancer cells to my face. Downer.

One evening, we left our totally responsible and always surprisingly older kids (15, 12 and 9) at home to play video games while we headed out for some live music with our friends. Oh, did I mention that for our week in Seattle, we were staying in our friends' home? Because we did. And we still didn't tire of one another. Always amazing. But look at these faces! How could you lose?

Before we did Seattle, we did a bit of Oregon, and we loved it. In this picture, Sophia is actually quite congested, but she was a good sport. The higher we went (up Mt. Hood in the background), the more stuffy she got. But it was so beautiful!

This was a really strange landscape and riverbed called the White River. It's so interesting because the rocks here are different than they are anywhere nearby. We were fascinated. And Mt. Hood is hidden in the cloud behind us. Tricky guy.

All along the drive, we stopped at many picturesque locations just to see what they were all about. Water is always Sophia's favorite, and she can probably tell you about each water source we found and compare the temperature and speed to all the others. We saw all three of these and many more in our one drive through Oregon. There is so much exploring to do out there!

And now we're home and getting ready to start getting ready to start getting school supplies. Sophia is not looking forward to going back. This is the typical dread that settles in and dissipates on the first morning of school, kind of like the cloud over Mount Hood. That morning, she'll remember at the last moment to look back and say, "See ya!" 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Music Man and more

Our summer is more than half way over. That's so crazy to say out loud. For Sophia and I, this has been the best summer ever. I've not had PTO or anything else to worry about. She and I have gone and done almost everything on our very long list of summer things to do. Just generally, we've gotten along marvelously and had fun together. This age is just about ideal, I think. Sophia is hilarious and thoughtful and a great listener. She's always been all these things, I suppose, but now she can make her own snacks!

It sounds lazy for me to say that, but often when she asks for something, I'll get up at the same time just to prove it's not laziness that is making me say no. "No, I won't fill your water, but I'll get up when you do just to prove the point that I'm doing it so you learn to take care of yourself." That's probably much more about my own self-consciousness, but the fact remains that she does give me an eyeball if I seem to just be taking the easy way out.

Anyway, in the picture here, we are all headed to see The Music Man at The Muny. We all three love that musical, and we all three love The Muny. This wasn't our favorite version we've ever seen, but it was still just great. Marian and Harold are one of my favorite couples. Their song "Till There Was You" is so incredibly sweet and descriptive of new love.

In just over a week, the three of us will fly out to the Pacific Northwest to see some of our very bestest friends. Erick also has a full list of things he wants to do, particularly in Portland, so we're excited about that.

Meanwhile, Sophia's in advanced horseback riding camp. She's loving it, and she's mostly happy to be one of the youngest kids there, though I think she wishes she were farther along with all her skills.

And the summer begins to wane. I plan to squeeze every ounce of fun out of it that I possibly can. I hope you're doing the same!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

hi guys this is Sophia. I wanted to tell you about the summer weather here in St. Louis. Spring weather more like. It has been pouring down rain... But it has been humid as well. Right now, as I am typing, thunder is sounding and rain is pouring down. So as I say at times like these "Darn you Missouri!!!!!" Yes that is a straight quote from my book. Or at least it would be if someone would write me a book!!!!!!!!