Friends & Family

Back to School, 2020 Style

Posing with our Fancy Octopus craft and their Pointillism Paintings

This year, most kids I know are going back to school without actually going back to school. Here in western Washington, school districts are starting the year with 100% distance learning, with plans to adjust to part-time in-person learning as the situation with COVID evolves. My news feed is full of back-to-school pictures of a new style, with students sitting at kitchen tables or even tucked in bed.

But my kids won’t be distance learning. They’ll be in the classroom–which is what we now call our dining room. They’ll have an excellent student-to-teacher ratio–because their teacher will be me.

Continue reading “Back to School, 2020 Style”
Friends & Family, House & Home

Stay-at-Home

At first I said my life hadn’t changed.

I’m always home, I said.

OK:

There had been hours in the car and trips to the gas station, the grocery store, minutes and hours wandering aisles looking at nothing I needed. These had been wasted. I would not miss them.

There had been mornings alone in coffee shops, staring at blank pages and blinking cursors. Journal entries written in the front seat of my car in the parking lot, sketches made with my seat belt still buckled, the radio mumbling away the extra minutes I built into my schedule.

There had been waiting: for appointments, in lines, at traffic lights. An hour each Thursday, reading while my daughter danced ballet. An hour each Friday, a crossword completed while she sang.

These had been wasted. I would not miss them.

These had been lonely. Pointless.

Time spent with no budget:
staring at the mortar between bricks,
my pencil running over rough paper,
trying to capture the shadows
that would become darkness–a smear
of graphite next to a jotted phone number.

BUT:

These were the throw-away times. I would never miss them.

Friends & Family

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Remember when no one shared photos of Christmas morning because they were all bed-headed and crusty-eyed?

Remember when “sharing photos” meant getting your film developed and handing someone a photo album or just a pile of prints to flip through?

Remember slide shows?

Remember when your dad set up the camcorder in the living room to record the opening of the presents and then no one ever watched it?

Ever?

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Friends & Family

The Santa Secret

I was in the second grade when I unmasked Santa. I’d had my suspicions for a while: the handwriting on the gift tags, the fact that Santa used the same wrapping paper as my parents did, and I’m sure I’d heard rumblings around the playground or maybe from my older brother. But whatever evidence I brought before them, my parents stood by Santa. Coincidence, they said. Santa’s helpers, they said. Go to bed, they said.

I spent that Christmas season snooping. I finally found my proof on Christmas day, not long after I received a beautiful Barbie dream house, pre-assembled under the tree. I was probably helping clean up wrapping paper, or perhaps making a last-ditch effort to make my point, but I found the box for the Barbie dream house in the garage, and my parents could pretend no longer.

I was not angry. I did not feel betrayed; I felt proud. Proud of myself for figuring it out. And I was grateful for my Barbie dream house, whoever gave it to me.

As I prepared to have my own children, I wondered whether I’d uphold the Santa myth. I didn’t want to lie to my children. Then again, I didn’t want to burden them with knowledge they couldn’t share with their classmates. I heard a lot of young parents considering the same conundrum. When they were babies, though, it was all academic.

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Friends & Family

How Christmas Movies Made Me a Better Parent (All Year Long)

Have you ever noticed how people talk a lot about how children learn, but they don’t have the same conversations about adults?

Maybe learning seems more important when the mind is young and malleable. Maybe we tend to forget about our own minds and hearts when we take on the responsibility of someone else’s. Maybe we don’t realize how much we keep learning as adults or how important it is that we keep learning well.

Learning is a particular concern of mine, and not just for my children. I’m the type of person who could have happily become a professional student, and failing that, I’ve become my own teacher. I’m a student of music, literature, foreign language, art, crafts, and even business.

I’m also a student of humanity.

Continue reading “How Christmas Movies Made Me a Better Parent (All Year Long)”
Friends & Family

Christmas Time is Here…

…bringing on a full-on identity crisis. With the exception of a couple angsty holidays in my 20s, I’ve always loved Christmas. But I’ve always felt conflicted about loving Christmas, like, am I the sort of person who loves Christmas? I rally hard (although less hard now that I have kids) against a lot that Christmas-season brings to the table, things like: consumerism, out-decorating your neighbors, unabashed and aggressive displays of religion that I worry it makes others feel excluded, buying clothes to be worn only once or twice, and the uptick in depression and anxiety for so many people. You know, just light stuff. Continue reading “Christmas Time is Here…”