Thursday, October 11, 2012

10/11/12 Teacher Conferences

The past two weeks have been parent-teacher conferences. This year, the teachers made no attempt to coordinate, so each child got their own date and time.

Julian's teacher conference is always the one I brace myself for the most, and this time was no exception. I really like his teacher, a young energetic non-nonsense woman with 16 years experience in 3rd grade at this school, and who who speaks crisply and with no hint of plaintiveness. I'd intercepted her at Back-to-School night last month, to tell her if she had any doubts about how to deal with Julian, not to doubt herself at all: come down hard and fast, and don't believe any of his excuses. She found that out on her own quickly!

All that said, she was also one of the first teachers who said, quite genuinely and with backup, that he's quite bright. She says he makes connections and asks questions that are well beyond 3rd-grade level. His reading and verbal articulation are well past his level -- which is a flag regarding his writing level. His writing is simplistic and reads more like that of a 2nd-grader.

She has more trouble than not getting to apply himself, but when he does, he's great. She showed us this example of a "happy face sentence," which means she'd solicit sentences from the class about a topic, and discuss their complexity levels and put them into categories called "down face," "even face" and "happy face." She showed us this set of sentences about the Native American Mulan, because Julian had come up with the happy-face sentence.

This only furthers my belief that Julian will basically outgrow his annoying attributes, and will shine in school when he deems it sufficiently interesting. I just hope that's in time for college admissions!


Monday, October 08, 2012

10/8/12 Old Friends

Last week while I was at the conference in Buffalo, I had time on and off to catch up with correspondence.

Idle in my hotel room during a break, I sent a message to my longtime friend Beth Gorell, who I met through motorcycling while I was at UCLA. She already had a motorcycle, and was also height-challenged, so was something of a mentor to me! Later when I moved back to the Bay Area, Beth and I would meet for marathon dinner nights, picking a place that was open late so we could yak into the week hours. This dropped off when we both had babies, miraculously a few months apart, and the joke turned that we needed to see each other at least as often as she changed her hairstyle.

Today I was back at work, and having a particularly bad Monday morning. I got a call from our front desk, usually about irritating spam call that our kind receptionist screens for me. But my headset battery was dead, so I walked out to the front desk -- and there was Beth! With her business partner husband, Pete. "Wanna go out for lunch?"


It so happened they were in the same building for a business meeting. And at lunchtime -- what timing! I was so happy, I RAN back to my office to grab my bag.

We had a terrific catch-up lunch, during which I told Beth that some advice she'd given me during my career/life/motorcycle-wreck crisis in 1993, was such good advice that I still repeat it to other friends, even as recently as last week. She'd said that sometimes when you're faced with a really difficult decision, that more time doesn't always help make that decision. For really hard black-and-white decisions, that really boil down to what you want in your heart, she was so right.

(That particular decision for me was about which job offer to take, and while it might seem amusing in retrospect, I took it very seriously and to heart: was I going to make THE BIG SHIFT from software development to network engineering?!)

We joked about being "old" friends, but Beth hasn't aged a bit in the 20 years I've known her. To me, she looks like a guardian angel, who lifted me out of the dumps and back to life.

Many of the friends I made that year -- Beth, Jim, Lisa, Reid and Rubye -- I'm still close to, and now have known for almost two decades. How lucky I am to have longtime friends who I feel really know me -- and now I have a whole "new" set of "old" friends that I've known for a decade through my Mom connections.

There really are some good things about getting older, and old friends are by far the best part!


Sunday, October 07, 2012

10/7/12 Lawn mowing

I just discovered the best way to mow the lawn: get a kid to do it!

Gabriel insisted he could handle the lawnmower, and to my surprise, he could. It turns out, he didn't anticipate how much harder it would be to push the mower over tall wet grass with the blades moving, but, this is Gabriel we're talking about and of course he didn't give up.

This wasn't out of the goodness of his heart or anything, it was for $5. But that's totally worth it! What could be more old-fashioned or down-home traditional than kids mowing lawns for money?