23 May 2017

Tales of a Preschool Room Mom

When Jane started preschool three years ago I signed up to be one of her class room moms because the teacher said something like "it's really easy to do it now when they're small" ... and that was true. The time/energy input was very minimal. I can't remember anything I did except the teacher gave me an orchid plant at the end as a thank you (which promptly died because I have black thumbs).

We switched schools after that year, just because Jane became old enough and got accepted into the university's preschool program. I was pregnant so didn't act as room mom last year, but this year, her second in the program I did volunteer.

There was not a whole lot to do, because the teachers manage most everything. But the teacher appreciation stuff led to some work, not so much in time investment but stress and annoyance (and money). The school's parent committee did a center-wide effort to give the teachers' lunches during the week, but they needed money for that. I also needed to ask for money for our class teacher gifts (the whole school decided to just do the same thing -- Visa gift cards -- which is smart and surely more appreciated than tchotckes). The mom in charge of that center-wide effort certainly had more work to do than me, but my part with our class was certainly enough for me.

In reality it was just a few emails, accepting the money from people and then buying the cards and gift cards. I also took a class picture because the center didn't do photo day this year. A couple things I learned that could be helpful for other room parents:
  • PayPal does not take a percentage of money when it's marked as a gift. This was a gift for our teachers, so no ethical concerns either. I had assumed PayPal would reduce the money for the teachers and discouraged people from using that (just give me cash or check directly). But some did anyway and there was no problem. It was much easier for all involved, since I could just transfer it into my bank account. If I ever do that again I will definitely ask people to just do PayPal!
  • The bank sells Visa gift cards, at least our credit union does. And they only cost $2.50 each. At a store, where I intended to buy them, they'd be at least $6 each! That was a good tip from another mom who had been room mom before, and I'm glad she told me that!
I definitely had to pitch in more money than I probably would have had I just been donating to the effort. I wanted to get it to a round number, and I had to contribute more than our share for the center effort of lunches because the ask for that came late and most parents didn't even respond to that request.

We had almost 100% participation in the teacher gift. I put all the kids' names on the card of course though! The amount of money varied from $10 up to $65! The one family that didn't give was surprising to me, and it was hard to restrain myself from directly asking that mom to be sure she'd received my emails asking for the donations! In the end we collected $400, to be split between our two teachers. Not a bad thank you gift!

08 March 2017

A Day Without A Woman: What is Labor?

Today is A Day Without a Woman.

I'm "on strike" today, although I can't fully release myself from child care. Partly because I'm a nursing mom and partly because someone's gotta do it and it might as well be me. Shawn is leaning into housework and child care otherwise though. And we're all wearing red! And not spending any money today.

It's made me think about what labor is, since some things I do for myself, just general self care. I'd make a meal for myself if I didn't have the family to labor for. (To get around it I made a casserole yesterday that we can just heat and eat.) I'd also make my bed, so I made my half and Shawn made his half - LOL!

Does blogging count as labor? You could say I'm a small, woman-owned business, which is one of the exceptions for where strikers can shop. Even if it does count as labor, I'm still writing because I want to mark this day.

When talking about it with Jane (and fighting with her about wearing red instead of her favorite Avenger's shirt), I explained that boys and girls are equal, and we deserve equal pay for equal work. She quickly asked about Donald Trump, and I explained that this particular issue existed before him and will after him too.

06 March 2017

Crochet: White Baby Blanket

I finished this blanket just before its intended baby was born, but I didn't get it in the mail quickly enough. Today it will be on its way to the new baby boy! (We didn't know he was a boy before he's born.)

This is kind of a mishmash blanket. I did the ripple/chevron pattern from a baby pattern book, and I didn't like the number so set it at seven on the up, seven on the down. This has ridges created by front-post and back-post double crochets. I did the pattern of which rows have which stitches based on this Red Heart afghan.

After I finished the sizing was off -- it wasn't wide enough for a real baby blanket. SO I added some border stitches, using the same front/back post stitches to make the ridges. And I finished off with reverse single crochet that makes a similar ridge/rope-like edge.

So it's a little wonky but is one of a kind. And it was made with love and prayer for the life of this special boy.

01 March 2017

Taking Up Space

I've been watching Roseanne reruns on this over-the-air channel called Laff. I really like the show -- something I watched as a kid and probably didn't "get" most of it. I laugh during every episode and some of the "viewer discretion advised" storylines are relevant still (abortion, racism, abuse, gay marriage).

One thing I like too is the daughters -- Darlene and Becky -- and how they're not wearing skimpy clothes or lots of make up. They look like regular people, and at least at the start of the series before plastic surgery so does Roseanne. Part of the clothing choices was due to the 90s I guess, when flannel and jeans were in, but I'm sure it was also a conscious decision on the part of the creators. One guest star was the opposite of "regular" when Traci Lords played a waitress for a few episodes. In one she wore a tight blue dress and looked so thin relative to the other characters that I took notice. It made me start thinking about what it would be like be so small and to take up so little space.

Within a couple days this post, The Trash Heap Has Spoken, came up in an email newsletter I read. It was really speaking to some of the thoughts I was having -- what does it mean to be in a body that's "too" big. I've been living in a big body as long as I can remember. Even when it's smaller it always feels big -- I felt big as young as maybe 10. But maybe it would be OK to be fat like this:
Unapologetic fat women embrace the philosophy of displacement. They manifest the audacity of space-taking. They cleave the very air. This is not just fatness of the body, it is fatness of the mind. If you have a fat body, you take up room by default. If you have a fat mind, you choose to take up room. 
In high school I was a perfectly fine size, and as an athlete I was the healthiest I could ever hope to be. But I was still bigger than a lot of the girls. One was size 5 -- not sure how that came up, but you know everyone knows everything in locker rooms. I was size 11, and I looked at her and at me and said "even if I lost a ton of weight I doubt my bones would even be that small for me to be a size 5." She said "oh I'm sure you could." She meant it as a kind thing, and in the moment/actual conversation that's how I took it. But obviously remembering it across twenty (20!) years it hasn't settled as something good.

23 February 2017

Mardi Gras Mambo

Heard this for the first time today, and Jane and I can't stop singing it! It was perfect, on the way to her Trike-a-thon at school. Really need to replace my regular camera lens, as I didn't get too many good photos with my longer lens!

18 January 2017

Nightmare Scenario: Parade Danger

From The Advocate, our local newspaper, Child dies after being struck by float in Abbeville's Martin Luther King Day parade:
A child struck by a float during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade Monday in Abbeville has died.
Witnesses say the child was struck by the vehicle pulling the float after entering the roadway for a piece of candy or throw. No barricades were placed along the roadway during the parade.
There's a bit more to the story, with a little shaming of the mom (she was watching other children in addition to this one), but basically five paragraphs about this nightmare scenario.

I watched a story about it on one of our local TV stations last night. It was not the lead story (that went to a rash of break ins at our university's football stadium -- WTF/who cares), and it was just as short. There was a picture of the child and a bit of interview with a grieving relative. But nothing about taking steps to ensure safety of other children at future parades (we have parades so often in Louisiana it is ridiculous). There was basically no real reporting at all (in either media).

If this child were white the reporting would have been different. Lead story, more complex reporting with an eye to stopping this type of tragedy in the future. The distance of the town from Baton Rouge doesn't matter. They do huge packages about little towns when there's a sensational crime  So I can only surmise that this coverage is light because of the child's race.

There's no reporting even on the number of other children/people who have died at parades (and you know there have been others). Asking parade organizers at the upcoming Mardi Gras parades for their take on the loss and how they'll be improving safety to avoid that at their parades. That kind of thing.

I didn't think I had the capacity to care about things that aren't strictly national politics with the dumpster fire that's going on in Washington, but obviously I do. And this is awful and scary. I hate that a family has to deal with the loss of a child over candy.

10 January 2017

Second Verse, Same as the First

Jane is still not a dancer.

She has done much better in this new dance class we tried out at our local recreation park system. But there have been problems of a different sort.

Basically the teacher has a conflict in her regular job, and with traffic she can't arrive to the class on time at 5 p.m. So she moved the class start time to 5:15 p.m. She often doesn't arrive until 5:30 p.m. And then class still ends around 6 p.m. because there's an older girls' class that starts then (although she said she moved that class start time to 6:15 p.m. too). Some of the older girls start arriving at 5:45, which means Jane's class can be as short as 15 minutes without any distraction.

Jane's unable to show me too much of what she's learned. She enjoyed the class though. There was supposed to be a parent watch evening, but we never even got to do that because the teacher was THAT disorganized. I'm disappointed to have put more time and effort into this and still have no photos or recital experience to show for it. But we're moving on.

(And of course I'd already paid for the recital/costume fee, but they said it can be refunded ... if nothing else they could pass it along to another student I think as a scholarship. It's not ideal, but I deserve some consequence for the mistake of paying in advance!)

Jane's going to try a theater program instead. She's in basketball too this season, so she has an athletic activity and an arts activity. Soon she can start piano lessons, which she's interested in. There's just so much we'd like her to do and not enough time to do it all!

Can our lives really continue like this? Will our world still keep turning after inauguration day? What about after the first nuclear bomb is sent? Does it matter if America crumbles around us? I am so worried and sick about it ... but I still have a preschooler who has activities, a baby who is developing gorgeously and my usual gripes, physical problems (wrist/carpal tunnel lately as the sinus stuff finally clears out I hope) and TV TV TV to watch (OMG Sherlock!). These are my golden days, and they are almost over...