Monthly Archives: April 2018

Weekend Snapshots 60: Hoop Dreams Edition

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Friday

My daughter has been pining for a basketball hoop for ages. I was dithering, mostly because the thought of having to put it together filled me with dread. When I was shopping around, I saw that it was possible to pay someone to do the assembly and I seriously considered it. On Friday I picked my daughter up after her quartet/violin recital practice and we finally went to pick up her long-awaited basketball hoop. I asked the kids for help getting the box out of the back of the car. To my surprise, they not only got it out of the car, they immediately got to work assembling it.

They worked for as long as they could, using flashlights until they finally gave up for the night.

I helped too, obviously…by holding a flashlight.

Saturday

My daughter spent the morning diligently warming up for her violin recital…

As always, her big brothers did their best to help her keep her eye on the ball.

We were running early, so we killed a few minutes at the library, which happens to be right next door to the church where the recital took place…

We picked up a couple of Pocket Poems on our way out of the library…

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Show time!

Quickie post-recital haircut…

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…aaaaand back to work!

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I was feeling guilty for letting my kids do all the work putting the hoop together. I knew I should really lend a helping hand. I rolled up my sleeves and started to peel the plastic off the backboard. A gasp of outrage and betrayal stopped me dead in my tracks. I turned around to see my kids staring at me as if I had just kicked a kitten.

“That’s the best part! We’ve been saving that up for last!!”

“OH! Sorry!!”

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I went to meet my friend for dinner and a concert to take a break from my labors!

IMG_3908In keeping with the astronomy theme presaged by the Walt Whitman poem I had randomly picked at the library earlier that day, we heard Gustav Holst’s The Planets and Kaija Saariaho’s Orion.

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Sunday

After church it was back to work on the basketball hoop…

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The appreciative siblings gave the honor of making the first basket to the boy who did the lion’s share of the work:

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And then it was game on!IMG_3943IMG_3944IMG_3946IMG_3948

“True story,” I told my kids. I got my first ‘C’ ever because of basketball. We were doing a basketball unit in P.E. and your grade for the quarter was based on the average of a bunch of different layups. Every time you missed the basket, your grade would go down by a whole letter. So I ended up with a ‘C’.” My daughter sent the ball in my direction. “Here Mama, let’s see if you’ve improved!”

 

 

I got a B! I got a B!

 

 

 

 

Bewitched

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I still haven’t figured out what possessed my son to bring a cat inside the house. Unlike his siblings, he has never once clamored or cajoled for a pet. Unlike his siblings, he has never once fawned over an animal. I save photos and videos of pandas to a folder for my daughter to coo over. I routinely forward my older son articles about fish, octopus, or other sea creatures. I don’t bother saving any animal-related photos or articles for Jiminy Cricket, because I know he’s not interested.

Once I took my children to a goat farm during kidding season. The youngest and oldest were rapturous with joy as they nuzzled newborn goats. Jiminy Cricket stood off to the side with his hands jammed deep into his pockets and politely declined all offers to hold a baby goat. A couple times I took the kids to a live butterfly exhibit. The rest of us stood forlornly with outstretched hands, trying in vain to get a creature to alight on our fingers. The butterflies floated right past us and straight to JC, who stood there – a picture of suffering – his body shuddering with visceral horror and disgust as they landed all over him.

The boy has never even warmed up to any of our own pets:

When he takes the dogs out for their morning constitutional, he squeamishly wraps the torso of the one who refuses to walk down stairs in a paper towel, so his hands don’t actually have to make contact with his fur as he carries him to the yard.

So why would this boy insist on bringing a cat into the house? I can only conclude that he was overpowered by some potent feline bewitchment.

And how are things working out, you might be wondering?

Well…the words pussy whipped spring to mind.

For the first month or so after my son insisted on bringing the cat in, she didn’t budge from his bedroom. She stayed on a cat bed in the corner of his room unless she had to use the kitty litter, which he had set up right next to her bed. When I suggested moving the litter to the bathroom so it wouldn’t have to be in his bedroom, he demurred and said he didn’t think the cat would feel comfortable having to leave his room.

After she’d been with us for some time, I asked my son if she was starting to explore her surroundings a little more.

“Yes!” he replied. “Now sometimes she’ll come up to me when I’m working at my computer. At first I’ll feel her little velvet paws on my legs…and then I’ll feel her slowly sinking her claws into my flesh! Sometimes I’ll come into my room and I’ll need to sit down to do some work, but I can’t because she’ll be sitting on my chair and she just stares at me and she won’t move.”

“So do you kick her out of the chair?”

“No!” he said, clearly signaling with his tone of voice how preposterous he found that notion…”I just go away and come back a little later.”

After another few months passed, I started to hear strange thudding noises at night. Eventually, I figured out that it was the cat running back and forth, up and down the hallway. I’m convinced she’s in training…probably to murder my son while he sleeps.

“I think the cat needs to get some more exercise,” I proposed to my son. “Why don’t we try to let her outside for a little? I bet she’s really bored in your room, and would love to go out for a bit to stretch her legs!”

“I really don’t think that’s a good idea,” he replied.

One fine morning, I decided to insist. “Let’s just try to let her out for a little bit! We’ll let her right back in as soon as she wants to come back!”

“OK,” he said dubiously. He made his sister carry the cat down the stairs and to the door. He said he was afraid the cat would scratch him, but I’m pretty sure it’s because he didn’t want her to think it was his idea to make her go outside.

The minute the doors opened, the cat leapt out of my daughter’s arms and tore back upstairs to my son’s room, where she’s remained ever since. (Except of course when she trains in the hallway to murder him).

Like clockwork, the minute we sit down to dinner, the cat starts paging Jiminy from the top of the stairs.

“Oh,” he says, a guilty expression washing over his face, “Excuse me.”

He hustles up the stairs bearing food to the cat, as she continues to yowl at him the entire way. I swear to you, it sounds like: “Get. Your. Ass. Up. Here. NOW.”

He responds, “I’m coming. I’ll be right there. I’m on my way.”

In a much lower voice so she won’t hear, he mumbles: “Geez. I’m going as fast as I can. You don’t have to keep yelling at me.”

He comes back down the stairs and asks, “Mom, next time you go to the store, could you buy some more Fancy Feast, please? I like to alternate it with the Iams so she can have some variety.”

“Sure, Jiminy. Gotta keep the cat happy.”

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You looking at me?

 

 

Making History

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On Saturday, my son and I woke up BEFORE the crack of dawn to head to Richmond for the state-level National History Day competition…

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At the VMFA, which is next to the Virginia Historical Society and Museum.

For weeks my son and his fellow group members toiled over their entry: a documentary on the Mongolian revolution. I sent up endless trays of food to the three boys, who spent endless late nights working on their project. This was a real challenge for my early-to-bed-early-to-rise 15 year old, who starts to turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of 8 pm. During one all-nighter I could hear one of the boys doing a voiceover at around 3 am.  Right before the assignment was due, a storm knocked out the power for days. The boys were frantic. They ended up spending the weekend finishing up their project at a dad’s office, where the power had been restored. During that blackout weekend, they managed to track down a history professor at the University of Memphis, who had written one of the scant articles they could find on their topic. They emailed him and he agreed to do a Skype interview, which they incorporated into their documentary. Their hard work paid off at the regional tournament, where they came in 2nd place for group documentaries.

At the competition on Saturday, I got to watch the documentary for the first time. As I was congratulating the boys for their impressive final product, they told me their teacher had deemed their award-winning documentary only worthy of a B. What’s more – another teacher called them into her office after the regional competition to tell them that although they had advanced to the state tournament, they really didn’t deserve to. When I expressed shock at this, my son consoled me with an A+ answer: “Eh, it’s ok. It’s good to learn how to deal with things like that in life.”

Good thing those teachers weren’t the judges:

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With another 2nd place win, the boys are moving on to the national tournament. We all felt a bit like this:

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Willem van Heythuysen, 2006, Kehinde Wiley, VMFA

Weekend Snapshots 59: Austin Edition

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My siblings and I headed to Austin, Texas for a long weekend that was all about books…

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…and eating:img_3625.jpgimg_3627.jpg

…and family time:

…and more eating:

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Annabelle & her Boyz

While I was away, my oldest turned 18. I came back home just in time to celebrate his birthday with the Tres Leches Cake his little sis made for him.

Weekend Snapshots 58: Easter Fools Editions

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Friday

We celebrated the start of the kids’ spring break at Maru, the new Korean restaurant on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall.

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There are some interesting twists on the menu, like kimchi arancini.img_3497

And there are straight classics, like dolsot bibimbap.

The kids loved their bossam, (lettuce wraps).

Saturday

Virginia Bluebells always remind me of this scene in Sleeping Beauty, when the fairy godmothers try to outspell each other to make her dress blue, no pink, no blue!

When my mother-in-law’s primulas start blooming, I know it really is spring at last. 

I took the kids to see Fun Home at LiveArts. The themes and language were far more adult than I was expecting, but the musical was deeply moving and beautifully performed.

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Sunday

I awoke in the early hours of the morning to the sound of tape being ripped with ferocious intensity. The night before the younger two made their declaration of war. Their older brother asked to be left out of the battle. It took me a moment to figure out that the Great April Fools Easter War of 2018 had officially begun.

The noise I had heard was the sound of the 15 year old taping saran wrap to his sister’s bedroom door. She had frozen his toothbrush in a mug of water the night before. He retaliated by using his Water Pik against her like a makeshift water gun. She in turn attacked him with chalk fingerprints all over his choir robe.

Finally, after singing for two Easter services in a row, we were all feeling rather exhausted.

“Please, let’s stop this. I can’t take anymore,” the 15 year old said as we trudged back to the car.

The 12 year old was exultant: “Does that mean I won?!”

“Yes! You won. I’ll take my punishment. But, please let me do it tomorrow. I just can’t face it today.” (More on that later).

And so an Easter Armistice was declared.

The kids celebrated the end of war with the Easter egg hunt that awaited them back at home…

The biggest hit was the new basketball the Easter bunny left for them…

That evening we sat down to a traditional Easter dinner…if Easter just so happened to coincide with April Fool’s Day…The parents had one last trick up their sleeve:

Oh…and that punishment I mentioned earlier?

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