Wednesday, October 01, 2008

10/1/08 Getting sent home

Aww, how peaceful, how idyllic, how warm, this little scene of all three having breakfast together (Cream of Wheat with milk and strawberries for Julian).

The behind-the-scenes version, however, is a lot more hectic: tending the stove, cutting, arranging, mixing. Then it takes a long time to cool enough to eat, it's a sticky mess to clean up and the whole thing sucks up valuable seconds in the morning. And Katrina would only eat a few bites, though she couldn't get enough on Sunday.

But I can't resist putting raisins in the shape of a smiley-face on the cereal. And that's OK.

I left work at 12:30 today, because it's October 1st and my contract through the agency expired Sept. 30th, and my own corporation's approval as a vendor has been delayed again. It was all I could do to maintain a serious expression when my manager was somberly telling me to go home until the contract is straightened out, lest I not get paid.

YIPPEEE! I'm so outta here!

I made a beeline for Rancho San Antonio, and spent some quality time with the late-summer brown foliage and all the warm earthy scents. I had a very tough run on a modest route that used to be a "walk in the park" for me when I was in running shape, but I loved being reunited with the hills and the canyon and the tree canopy again.

I always stretch before I run, including some modified yoga poses (meaning, I don't know the right way to do it).

Stretching is supposed to help prevent tendonitis, on the off-chance my back would ever allow me to run enough for my ankles -- remember them? -- to become a problem again.

Tonight's homework struggle had me in tears. What an astounding PAIN IN THE ---- ...! well, you know.

Either Dave or I were completely absorbed in pushing Gabriel along for a full hour, and I was really starting to resent this control of our time. Meantime, Katrina peed twice in training pants, squandering a fabulous potty-training opportunity.

Every night, there are four elements to Gabriel's homework: a language exercise, spelling, a math exercise (now due the next day) -- these are supposed to take 10 minutes -- then an additional 10 minutes of reading.

Today the math exercise was exceptionally insipid: the student is supposed to tell the parent about their favorite Explorations mathematics exercise they did today, and then draw it!! Gabriel had no idea what an Explorations exercise was, and neither did we. It took over 10 minutes to drag out of him any math exercise he did today in class. Finally, he came up with Minute Math, but couldn't describe it well enough for me to understand what it was about. He did say it had to do with writing something on a whiteboard, so he drew a whiteboard, complete with the brand name of the whiteboard maker at the bottom. This is math homework?!

I'm starting to notice that the aspects of the homework I like the least are those that look for other ways of looking at something, to put a concept into context of day-to-day life experience, relate it to the real world, make it hands-on....I think that's called "whole learning" in modern parlance. Maybe this is based on the kind of kid I have, or kind of kid I was, but I'm much more of the mindset to give the basics, teach the tools, focus on fundamentals. Not exclusively -- you can't learn a language without conversing in it for example, but you still have to start with the grammar and vocabulary. I think real-life examples should support that learning, not drive it.

Overall the math and language work he does in class looks pretty good, but it's all language and math. It was Julian who informed us tonight that "...sound travels in waves!" Oh, really? "Yeah, through air and water!" He likes his Wednesday science classes.

Dave and I are already actively practicing and working on how to discuss our concerns with Gabriel's teacher at our 20-minute conference on Monday. "No no dear, don't jump up, slam your hand on the table and shout 'THIS IS STUPID!!!' Try again...let's start with the positives...."

Still, homework couldn't completely dim the glow from running on my dear trails again today.


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