Category Archives: education

In the Heart of the Sea…is my girl

Ahoy, mates!unnamed-7 Somewhere on the ocean blue, is a boat.

On this boat, in the heart of the sea…is my girl, Cope.

A daily text, tells me where this boat is sailing…

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This boat is hunkered down in the harbor of Connecticut near Mystic as Hurricane Joaquin shows off a bit.

unnamed-11With Cope are 21 of her classmates, a captain, and a crew of maritime educators. They are embarking on an adventure of a lifetime: “Ocean Classroom.”

unnamed-8 The boat is a schooner named The Roseway, of  The World Ocean School.

unnamed-24 Each student is allowed 1 large duffel bag and a smaller day pack for school books. The summer reading was In the Heart of the Sea, “where basically,” Cope summed up, “everyone eats each other.”

A cheery image for any parent, no?

In the Heart of the Sea is being turned into a movie and coming out this December, starring Chris Hemworth. It’s likely to be on the DO NOT WATCH list, alongside A Perfect Storm…and all other disastrous ocean films.

unnamed-25 Before embarking, Cope and her crew stayed together at a campsite in New Hampshire. We had our practice good-bye. Cope said, “This is just preparing you for when I go to college!” (said a bit too gleefully.)

I do not like this, not one bit. Let’s move on and not dwell on such things.

unnamed-26We drooled over her course materials, laid out on her cot. Cod! I suddenly wanted to know all about cod, too!

The crew travelled to Hurricane Island in Maine, then off to Gloucester, Massachusetts: the true embarkment of their ocean adventure (and the true embarkment of A Perfect Storm!)

unnamed-9 We visited with Cope for the last time until November 21st.

unnamed-19 “Mom, come see my bunk!”unnamed-17 Cope is up front by the bow (gotta use my ship language correctly!) Her father, The Professor, says that she’s sure to get lots of waves and ocean swells. And if the ship leaks, she’ll be sure to get wet. Isn’t that SUPER FUN????! One of the items on the packing list is Dramamine. And foul weather gear. And flippers. And a special knife for “rigging.”

unnamed-18 Here’s the kitchen.

How do they shower?

1. A bucket of sea water is dumped over head.

2. Shampoo.

3. A bucket of fresh water is dumped over head.

Done! Also: they swim a lot.

Each crew member is part of a watch group for 4-8 hours, 24 hours a day. I keep imagining what it will be like for these young sailors, sailing under the great light of the moon at 3 a.m., feeling the wind as the sails shift, speaking with dolphins, and watching the sun set and rise while pulling ropes on that beautiful schooner.

I do not worry about hurricanes, sharks, or pirates. Or cannibalism. I am excited, and yes, a bit jealous of this great adventure. If only I could fit into Cope’s pocket and see all that she is seeing. Cope is a lover of words and brought her journal. I imagine a stunning novel could come of it. What happens to a crew of 22 teenagers on a small ocean boat, together for 2 months? Oh, the possibilities…

unnamed-1 Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt and Uncle, and all the Boston cousins came to wave farewell. Paige said, “Oh, darn it! I forgot my white handkerchief to wave good-bye!”

After touring the boat (which was very crowded with parents and siblings) and chatting, we heard: “Okay, folks. I have to be the meanie. You have five minutes to say good-bye. FIVE!”

Perhaps I should have been better prepared. But I found myself a bit speechless. What advice would you give as your child as she sets sail for the next two months?

unnamed-4When I see this picture (which I don’t like of me, but why does it have to be about ME?) I can’t quite believe I’m a mom who has a child this old. Old enough to sail the ocean without me. Who is looking at me and is SO EXCITED TO EMBARK. (Thank you, Lindsey for the shots!)

Yes, I’m sure I was full of advice, but the only thing I could say was, “I love you so much.”

unnamed-28 unnamed-29There’s this odd feeling of…when you aren’t all together all the time, where there still be four of you?

unnamed-21 The siblings took the good-bye the hardest (though one sibling is excited about “exploring” her older sister’s room.)unnamed-3 unnamed-2 The boy misses her the most. He comes home wanting to tell her all about his soccer game and homework and high school and… she’s not there to tell.unnamed-6 And then, I swear, the boat started to move! This was getting real. Can you see her? She has two girls sitting on her lap. And yes, there are BOYS on the boat, too!unnamed-20 unnamed-16 unnamed-5 That boat kept going and going…and darn it, I wished I had my white handkerchief. Dave Pilla, Ocean Classroom coordinator and maritime expert shouted, “Hip-Hip…” and we all yelled back, “Hooray!” three times for good luck.unnamed-14 And then that Roseway fired a cannon shot that rivaled a pirate ship.unnamed-10 We waved and waved until that boat was out of sight.unnamed-12 Cousin posse; we shall not remove our ocean bracelets until our girl returns. unnamed-13The Roseway is headed to Mystic Seaport, the NYC Harbor School, Baltimore, Georgia, and Charleston. From there they will have 10-12 straight days at sea as they make their way to the Caribbean and eventually San Juan, Puerto Rico. Of course, this is all dependent on the weather. And Joaquin.

unnamed-27I’ve been given lots of advice since my girl sailed away. My two favorites: “Don’t be such a baby.” Ha. For real. And: “It was  very comforting to know Logan (her son) was always under the same moon as me.”

I thought of our girl as we watched the lunar eclipse on Sunday, as the bright light of the moon was shrouded in darkness and eventually a blood moon. I think of her as the sun sets and the sun rises on our fields of green and the weather begins to change and leaves fall to the ground. No matter where she sails, she is with us always.

I came across this right after she left. It made me think of her, too.unnamed-22Indeed, she’s had a very happy start. That lucky lucky duck!

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Stop Stealing Dreams: What Are Sports For?

Seth Godin wrote a manifesto called Stop Stealing Dreams: What is School For? and it was shared millions of times. He spoke at TedxYouth about the future of education, how we reward kids, and what we can do better. Both posts are worth diving into.

I love athletics. I know this doesn’t surprise you 🙂

So many life lessons.

It’s a shame more kids don’t get the chance to experience them.

My competitive streak still comes out when I’m running and have to catch that guy in front of me, when I’m sprinting down the soccer field and just can’t get there quite as easily as before, or when my children play the long-standing rival.

With age, sore knees, and raising children, perspective grows. When your child plays, there’s an opportunity to reflect on the point of it all.

Growing up I accepted the “cuts,” the “sorry, you’re not good enoughs,” the “varsity players vs. the junior varsity players” because, well, I didn’t get cut. (I considered it a shame math class didn’t make cuts.)

Until one day I did get cut. I was 15 and willing to quit track to wear a Westside cheerleading uniform. Rejection was a phone call. “Sorry, you didn’t make it.” As I sat gloomily in the kitchen, I imagined my try-out buddy getting picked up by all the popular senior cheerleaders and celebrated with vaseline in her hair, marker on their face, and other humiliations. Lucky! 

My mother considers this a blessing.

I was cut again in college. The list was posted outside the cross-country coach’s door after a grueling run on a freezing cold Idaho morning before the sun was even up. No conversation, just my name missing from the posted list.

That was TWENTY YEARS ago this fall and I can still feel the sting. I can still smell the cold Idaho air and the faint whiff of cow. I can still see the stars that twinkled on that morning. I can still remember what I prayed for…God, please let me run fast, please let me make this team. Please help me run my best.

I didn’t.

This is the stuff that stays with you.

Alas, not everyone can play or run on a college level, but by that time I could scrape my dreams off the Idaho track and keep going.

But for the kid who gets cut too early? That’s stealing dreams.

DSC_0407That’s not to say we shouldn’t strive for a high level of play.

That’s also not to say there shouldn’t be tiers.

But for every kid who wants to play, let them play.

This fall, Cope tried out for the girls varsity team soccer team. She was so scared she almost bailed. I pushed. Don’t not do it because you’re scared. That’s something you’ll always regret. 

After a week of a grueling two-a-day preseason, her name was on the list. “I can’t believe I made it,” she said, dazed. She’s young. She acknowledges she has to work on her ball handling.

You know why she made the team? The coach rewarded her preseason “hustle.”

Life lesson = guts matter. Grit trumps talent. Hard works = dreams come true.

I weep. I thank my lucky stars for such a coach.

AliciaslidesThis isn’t Cope – it’s Alicia. And it’s just a sweet shot. Um, you want to talk about grit and lessons on the field?

DSC_0413I love this photo. When Cope was devastated after a game (she’s incredibly hard on herself) this awesome team rallied.

(you wouldn’t believe how much begging I had to do for Cope to let me post this pic:)

Mentorship, compassion, kindness, love, courage, resilience

Life lessons right there on the soccer field

nelson And then there’s this guy. Lucky boy, he got his mom for a coach this year. (And once again I feel terrible because it’s really hard to coach and get good pictures of him.)

This year was a life-changing year. All summer he worked his tail off. He was obsessed with the world cup and Messi, watched his Youtube soccer videos, read about “the greatest soccer player in the world,” inspired that Messi is only 5’7.”

He practiced and practiced and practiced. He was never without a soccer ball. Okay, he did sleep. Once.

He started playing with me at summer soccer. Gerry, a boy’s varsity soccer captain went out of his way to make my boy feel good about his game. Free, life-changing mentorship.

In one summer my Nellie Mak was a tremendously better player, impacting the start of his eighth grade year. He had momentum. His confidence blossomed. He became a leader.

In our little town, at our little middle school, we don’t make cuts. And even though it creates some logistical headaches, everyone plays no matter the skill level.

But there are thousands of kids just like my son that get cut from their school team. So sad.

DSC_0074This year I had 30 kids. With only 11 kids that can play on the field at one time, is this a challenge? Uh, yeah.

Did we have the best year ever? Yep.

Do I want to keep all of these kids? YES. A million times yes.IMG_5537Because if there is one thing I’ve learned as a teacher and a coach, it’s this: human beings are remarkable. They’re ability will constantly surprise you.

DSC_0002With enough hustle, grit, and a little athletic ability mixed in, the kid who never played soccer before becomes a solid high school recruit.

For kids, athletics starts out as fun. But coaches are fired because they don’t “win.”

What are sports for?

What if we approached athletics as a learning environment, where attitude and effort counted as much as height and natural strength?

Seth Godin says, “When you’re six years old and you try out for the hockey team, only two things are going to get you picked ahead of the others: either you’re older (it’s true, check this out) or you were born with size or speed or some other advantage that wasn’t your choice.”

A seventh grader recently told me, “Adults say that winning doesn’t matter, but that’s always the first thing they ask – did you win?”

As a coach, I always try to remember: soccer is so great because it’s so FUN. Because it’s hard. Because it requires so much mental and physical effort. Because you get to play with a TEAM – those that are better than you and those you are better than. You get to make plays, learn to do the Maradona – you get to kick something! How FUN is that?

DSC_0041Some of my kids who I thought just weren’t very good last year showed up this year and they suddenly KNEW HOW TO PLAY SOCCER. All that dreaming over the summer, brain development, growing and kicking and running and world cup analysis. Coordination improved, dribbling clicked, bones, muscles, balance, the ability to see the field, anticipation – all of these things take time.

If I had cut them last year?

“What if we celebrated the students who regularly try the hardest, help each other the most and lead? What if we fast tracked those students, and made it clear to anyone else willing to adopt those attitudes that they could be celebrated too?”

IMG_5358Can’t you see their potential? 🙂

As a side bonus for coaching, you’ll get to ride THE BUS! Forget the field, this is really how you get to know a kid. I would tell you about “secret circle,” but sorry, I’m sworn to secrecy. Anyway, you probably don’t want to know.DSC_0697Our last game season was a friendly match-up on the turf, under the lights. It was the culmination of a near-perfect season. Lucky, lucky us – TURF! Screaming fans! All our dreams came true!DSC_0147Here’s my Brynnie-the-Pooh. She loves the game so much she laughs when she dribbles. DSC_0189Soccer makes stars shine in her eyesbrynne1 DSC_0230 DSC_0171 Perhaps you’ve heard me mention a few times how much I love this game?DSC_0417 And this guy. He just happened to come walking across my camera lens!DSC_0137The youngest roams during all these game. I hope she loves soccer some day, too. Right now she’s soft, sweet, and easily wounded. She could go either way. It depends on what kind of experience she has at an early age. I hope it’s a good one. Please don’t steal her dreams.

Recently Julia wrote of the origin of the word “compete.” We often connect compete with battle. Beat, destroy, annihilate, kill.

It really means:

compete: verb from Latin competere to seek together, from Latin com- petere  to come together, agree, to go to

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we saw team sports that way? Seek together. You’re right, Julia, that sounds so much better than “attack.”

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D.C. in Pictures & the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act

Fifty years ago this year, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed. President Kennedy was assassinated before he saw the day come, but when Lyndon Johnson signed the act, he said their was no better tribute to our fallen president.

Many of my personal heroes come from the civil rights era, and though a quick trip to D.C. came at a terribly busy time, I was easily talked into accompanying my husband.

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Our 4:30 wake-up call was worth this picture of the sky guy.

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Before meeting with kids at schools, we stopped in at the offices of Foulger-Pratt. These boys are Gregor’s former college roommates at BYU. We love these good boys. It’s been years and years since we’ve seen each other, but time had hardly seemed to pass at all. They said we looked exactly the same, but I wonder, are we getting older?

That night we went to a school to speak about Hogwarts. This admissions trip is vastly different than NYC. And it has everything to do with culture, family, and money. I felt so incredibly blessed to have good schools for my kids, that I’m not attending school fairs to get my child out of a terrible district with underfunded schools that don’t even have paper!

I love Hogwarts with all my heart and I wish everyone got a howler – but wouldn’t it be better if every single community made education a top priority and no one had to go outside their community to get a top-rate education? Sigh. School systems are tricky and sticky.

The next day was one of my biggest motivations for traveling to D.C.: A National Mall tour where millions of tourists visit to commemorate past presidents, iconic symbols of america, and to celebrate our veterans.

Beware: If you go to DC, don’t follow my route. It’s rather erratic. Go Here to get the full experience.

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We had a few hours, so to get around for our tour, we put on our running shoes. Armed with ipods, and me with my iphone for pictures, we started off.

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My tour guide was a little…fast. My tour was more like an interval sprint as I kept stopping to take pictures of what could be a once-in-a-lifetime-moment(!) and then had to sprint back up to my tour guide who was still running! I needed to work on speed anyway.

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So much history in this place. It took me a few trips to enjoy NYC, but I loved D.C. right away. Of course I was in a very clean and well-kept area, but the city had a clean, cool vibe.

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We didn’t stay long to chat with the IRS!

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At every street corner there were suits

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The architecture was incredible

IMG_5649 The Red Cross, inscribed with: “In Memory of the Heroic Women of the Civil War.” Love that.IMG_5653 Wicked CoolIMG_5657 IMG_5661 IMG_5668 The Washington Monument was built to honor George Washington, the first president of the United States. It’s a 555-foot marble obelisk tower overlooking D.C.IMG_5674 Found this in the middle of the National Mall. Made me feel right at home.IMG_5636Department of Commerce

IMG_5645 IMG_5643 The White HouseIMG_5647And bomb-sniffing dogs. Are they always around or just this morning?

Next we ran (sprinted) to the WWII Memorial. IMG_5712

From the Pacific the Atlantic…all the states are honored with the fallen

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I’ve observed: Musicians, songwriters, photographers, and writers find inspiration in sacred places.

IMG_5741 IMG_5735 The work of this artist is stunning, detailed, and poignantIMG_5733 IMG_5732

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I imagine this monument would mean that much more if I was sending my son or daughter into combat.

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From there we ran to the Lincoln Monument:IMG_5679

And I stood where Martin stood:IMG_5696This is where Dr. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. The next year, the Civil Rights Act was passed. Five years later he would be assassinated.IMG_5688The Lincoln Monument. We arrived sweating and tired from running up the stairs. It’s worth all the steps you’ll ever have to climb.

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In the middle of a work week in the middle of October, hundreds of tourists were taking pictures. It was striking – most were foreign speaking. Of all the places they could go on vacation, they came to America, the capitol of the United States to take pictures of the symbols and monuments we have built to represent freedom and equality.

Soon after, we were running again, me taking a photo and then sprinting…”Wait up!”

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The sprint was worth this photo. It was a gorgeous day.IMG_5751

Eventually we ran by the Smithsonian Castle and museum. By this point, 10 a.m., I was starving, my blood sugar low from lack of breakfast.

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But there were still photos to take. Like our nation’s capital…

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There was a ceremony taking place

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The view from the opposite end of the mall

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Like NYC, but to a lesser degree, souvenirs for sale. I just wanted food, not a shirt. Wait up, tour guide!

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Thankfully, 7 miles later, he found me an apple in the hotel gym. And I lived another day.

From there we headed to another part of D.C. where our “contact,” was.

While waiting, an old man came out. His name is Walter Ray. He was “just writing down some song lyrics.” And this guy, he’s like 80-years-old and he’s got civil rights history! He’s written songs for “I don’t know who all,” including the The Manhattans .

“Do you all like to write?” he asked.

Husband pointed to me, “She does.”

He shakes my hand and says, “The thing is, you gotta have ambition! You just gotta keep at it.”

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And I said, “Sir, I need to get your picture (even though I really hate my hair right now).” He obliged and after, showed me two of his published books of poetry.IMG_5816

I was sufficiently inspired.

IMG_5818 Walter’s walls were covered with memorabilia, including this picture. “That’s me with the man right there,” he says.

Walter Ray has two children, Roz and Walter Ray Jr. They are both lawyers. Roz has represented Bill Cosby, Kris Kross, Johnny Cochran – there was an entire wall of autographed photos, including Roz and Hilary Clinton.

Walter Ray jr showed up and we went for crab cakes and talked “business.” IMG_5814Walter looks like this laid-back, casual guy who you may not glance twice at. But he runs a non-profit to help kids go to school. When he starts talking I start taking notes. He knows every basketball stat there is, and connections to everyone in the city.

He hints at political “rats” and scandals, of people who are “distractions to the kids who could actually be somethin’ and you guys is the problem! Masquerading like you’re all that. Rats!” He says, “Satan has a team!”

He says that the best don’t always rise – “most of ’em are in the pen.” Kids, he says, need someone to believe in them. And this of course is where strong families come in.

Walter is working on a documentary of his uncle, Sam Jones, who won ten NBA rings for the Celtics – the second most EVER in history.

We could have listened to Walter all day, but when he writes his book, we’ll be first in line.

After that we headed to Virginia to meet kids at a school.IMG_5833 I took pictures of the art on the wall – how cool is this? It was done by artist-in-resident Stephen Parlato. I was so inspired, again wishing that all kids could get an education with an artist like this.IMG_5834

And then it was time to say adieu to D.C.

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We raced to the BMI, stopping to drop off our car rental, take a shuttle, grab some dinner, get through security, shove dinner in mouth, and hop on a plane for an hour and a half. We landed in Manchester NH at midnight and drove an hour home. We were greeted by dear grandmother who had watched our children for two days, played chauffeur, fed darlings, AND kept the house clean. I tell ya, we’ve got it good.

The next morning was a full day at Hogwarts as it was parent’s weekend. I walked around campus with my daughter, thinking of this opportunity she has. Not only is there magic, spells, and arithmetic, there are people who love her, take care of her, encourage her “to rise.”

Fifty years ago the civil rights act was passed, and though we still have problems and society isn’t perfect, we’ve come along way, haven’t we? I’m optimistic for the future. As Walter says, “the best don’t rise unless there’s someone tellin’ ’em what’s up.”

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Learning, Unlearning, Relearning

I’ve been learning all sorts of things lately.  For instance:


1.  Did you know that Target now sells Panera’s Cheddar Broccoli Soup?  This is based purely on something I heard.  But, it was a reliable source.  We could be in very big trouble.


2.  My 5th grader was sent outside in zero degree weather yesterday with his sleeves rolled up to study, “Behavioral and physical automatic thermoregulation.”  And he explained what this meant:  Physical thermoregulation is automatic, no control, shivering of the body to warm self, teeth chattering response.  Behavioral regulation is something you can control like hopping up and down insanely fast and rubbing arms to try to keep warm.  I’ve decided that rather than a cruel and unusual scientific experiment, this was pretty cool.


3.  Blogger vs. WordPress.  Some people say WordPress is more advanced.  Here’s one example:  If someone leaves you a comment you can have it sent to your email inbox.  Blogger does have this feature which I’ve recently discovered.  However, Wordpress lets you respond directly on your email, to the commenter’s email inbox and posts it directly to your comment box on your blog.  That, my friends, is pretty cool.


Blogger, are you listening?  


4.  My friend Becky passes me her People magazine when she done with it.  But this is the year I am giving it up!  Even when I think I’ve hidden it, too many times I’ve seen my eldest turning the pages in a trance-like state.  And it makes me cringe.  Besides my knee-jerk reaction to grabbing the “Best of” issue sitting on her desk yesterday (!), I don’t think I’ll miss it.


6.  Speaking of pop culture, I learned the other night that I just can’t watch a certain matchmaking season.  Maybe I’m at war with pop culture.  Why are we fascinated with famous people?  It’s like a glorified junior high rat race.  The more I know about celebrities the more I wonder why in the world there is anything to like about them.  War, I say.


7.  I’m so sick of politics.  The thought of another election wearies me.


8.  G. and I take turns being the pushover and the firm parent.  A certain child is staying home today.  I let her stay home and he was annoyed.  But we switch pushover/firm tendencies all the time.  What are the factors for this?   


9.  I learned last night that my husband was a college professor but his night to teach conflicted with my dance class and I was annoyed.  Wait, that was just a dream.  Aren’t dreams strange and curious?


10.  I learned there is only so long you put off cleaning the house and be on blogger before your 4-year-old puts her foot down and throws a tantrum.  We are throwing away, dejunking, cleaning the whole house today!  I’ve learned I get very excited at this prospect.


Have you learned anything recently?  Here’s a great quote for you:  




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The New Grad

If we are facebook friends you’ve probably already seen these photos…but gotta get this suff into our history!  No, I did not get a new camera.  These were taken with Gregor’s iphone and I was happy to get a record of the day.
The big graduation day came early.  We left the house at 7:15 Sunday morning and headed north toward Hanover.  Gregor was outfitted and lined up at 8:30, waiting until 9:45 for the graduation to actually begin.  As Hugh Nibley famously said…the robe of the apostate priesthood.  Makes me laugh.  We thought daddy looked dashing.
Luckily, the graduation was outside and we could get up and move around.  It was really cold, unusually cold for a June day!

We had our umbrellas just in case and the kids each had a blanket.  Cope suggested we wrap ourselves in a penguin huddle.  This lasted all of a few minutes until mom said, “Stop poking, wiggling, and tickling!”  Stop having fun!  We actually did have fun with all the kids only getting one time-out each 🙂

Good luck, Daddy!

We didn’t sit in seats.  We put our blankets on a lawn adjacent to the stage and could still see alright.  We played Go-Fish, UNO, and The Worst Case Scenario Survival Game.

Compliments of Grandma Heather.  Now I know how to eat a frog:  Boil the whole thing and eat it – no need to just eat the legs.  It’s a myth you will die from toxins in a frog body.  Oh, and I know how to eat a grasshopper too:  Pull off all the legs, head, and wings.  Cook over fire and wah-lah!  A delicious treat.  Want more?  We can play the game together!

As the hours passed…literally hours…the kids played and ran around.  They especially liked to wrap Paige up and carry her up the small hill.  Until they dropped her on her head and that ended that game.
I made 12 blueberry muffins, brought water and juice and pretzals, but by 11 the kids were complaining of starvation.  “I can’t go on any longer,” and “I’m really going to die!”  Wait, I said, it’s almost over.
Dartmouth does all the graduates together – all the medical degrees, engineering, Master’s (Gregor), Ph.D.s, and the undergraduates.  And every single name is called.  At 11:30, after CONAN O’BRIEN spoke (irreverent, captivating, hilarious, and good stuff!) they announced that now the undergraduates would be presented with diplomas.  All 982 of them.  And each name would be called!  Oh my goodness.  More wailing for want of food.  “You’d be terrible pioneers,” I said.  “I don’t care,” Cope said.  “I’m not a pioneer so I’m not used to it.”  They weren’t down with the pioneer talk.  “I want a cookie!” Paige screamed.
It could have been worse.  I could have been pregnant or nursing, or bent over walking with a one-year old, chasing a two or three year old.  Life has gotten easier!  
While waiting, we explored a beautiful campus church, a hindu temple, a dormitory, and a tree a squirrel ran up.  Overall, it was a great family day and a good experience for the kids to watch their father graduate and care about knowledge and education.
Yea!  A more educated man with a Master’s of Art and Liberal Studies.  If you want to talk digital colonialism, we can arrange that.
We left at 1:30, broke the sabbath, and bought food on the way home.  Our punishment was getting a speeding ticket on the highway.  “Don’t worry, Mama,” Gregor said.  “It’s only about the price of a new camera.”  If I were the slugging type…must not dwell further on the subject.
Congrats to you, GG.  We are proud of you.  Take a breather from classes and writing.  Now, I told him, it’s my turn 🙂
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Words

Tired of elbows on tables, perching on chairs, shoveling food in at dinner time, talking with mouths full, using hands to shove food in, barging in, borrowing without asking, shoving, teasing, interrupting adults…In December I decided there needed to be some changes around our house.  The right word just came to me:  Civility. Yes, this is the what we needed to make our home a haven of delight!  That word was supposed to be our word of the month.  It has now become our word of the year.  I actually think I see progress.

Perhaps as they leave our home, they will remember it out in the world.

Paige decided civility would be a tea party.  On the floor while I cooked.  Very nice.

Civility is defined as:   archaic : training in the humanities

2
a : civilized conduct; especially : courtesypolitenessb : a polite act or expression

Still working on it

Civility has been turned into song:  “Civility, that’s my by-word,” from “The Happiest Millionaire.”

It has turned into mockery:  “Civility,” mom says when two children are fighting.

“And above all,” Gregor chimes in with his finger in the air, “Composure,” in a sing-song voice.

“Dadddy!” Cope says.

Looking for more good words?  I discovered the New York Times best-selling parenting gurus, The Eyres, do a “value of the month.” Their website gives good examples and stories of how to use these values in your home.  I wrote out all 12 on cards to post.  Every month we get a new one.  So far:
January:  Loyalty and Dependability
February:  Respect
March:  Love
April:  Unselfishness and Sensitivity

Words have power – bring you down or raise you up depending on their usage in a sentence structure.  Mix them up and you get a different experience.  The last few years I have been much more cognizant and aware of the words I read.  I like to write down words I have never heard or used before, look them up, and use them in writing.  Idiosyncratic, tingo, laconic, mercurial.  Oh, there are so many good words.  
This weekend we get to hear more great words for general conference, always wonderful and inspired.
My twinner, Peter, is in town.  The kids adore him and won’t leave him alone.  We took him to Panera and got that newly discovered and amazing bagel – Cinnamon Crunch.  Oh my.  We stopped at the pet store where Cope once again used her most persuasive words to talk me into a guinea pig.  We left without one 🙂  More good words when Peter recited poetry from our childhood days and the kids practiced their poems for Poetry Night.  
The kids are now in bed and I am beginning the birthday plans for Nelson who turns TEN tomorrow.  We are having quite the feast for brunch, conference treats, and a special dinner by Daddy.  Nelson has requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  Mmmmm….it’s just one big party after another, with many words said in-between.  May we use the right ones, for it has been said that, “the word had a more powerful effect upon the people than the sword.”  Indeed.  Choose wisely.
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