Wednesday, June 30, 2010

taking an opportunity to illustrate a point with cats

I am exhausted. I spent the day at the school helping with field day. The kids really were good, but at one point another mom helper turned to me and said, "I now know what they mean when they say 'it's like herding cats.'"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

it takes a village to make a school report fabulous

Several weeks ago, Andrew got an assignment to do a report on a county in Utah. He picked Box Elder because we would be traveling through on our way to Seattle. We got a few pictures, but, and no offense to those residents of Box Elder County, there is just not a heck of a lot to see and report on. Their claim to fame is the Golden Spike Site.

We were just going to read about it and get some pictures off the web. Grandpa Huff didn't think that was sufficient. So, Saturday, two days before the report was due, he took Andrew on a field trip to see it in person.

They took pictures and got brochures. Andrew's favorite part was getting a smashed penny for his growing collection.

As we were going through the information, I remembered a song that we learned about the Golden Spike when I was in school--the very not-famous Wedding of the Rails.

I thought that I would surely find a version of this hit somewhere on the web. I was shocked to not find it anywhere. I had given up on being able to introduce my kids to this song from my childhood. Then we went to my parents' house. I mentioned that I was looking for an audio recording of the song. My mom pulled out her teacher music file--she had the sheet music.

Mike said that he thought it was about time that the Huff family made their contribution to the world-wide web and get that song out there for others to enjoy. My mom got a very talented neighbor to come and accompany us and the whole gang sang it for Andrew, and for posterity.

Mike was the cameraman because, well, we don't ask him to sing. (He has other talents.)

In order to protect the innocent (my dear family members that jumped right in to help) I will not post the actual video version (but if you must know, we totally killed it.)

Here are a few shots that I figured out how to take from the video that Mike shot on his iPhone.

Natalie, Landon, Mom, Andrew, me, and my Mom's talented neighbor.

Randy, Camille, Erika, Ryan, Natalie and Landon.

Even Erika and Landon joined in, and they had never heard the song before. Erika did get a little spooked by Ryan's enthusiasm for the song. We tried explaining it to her--we grew up singing it--we all learned it in school and Mom taught it to her fourth-graders.

We cannot stop singing this song around here. I get songs stuck in my head and the rest of the family has to suffer. (Although, I am relieved for Jessi's sake that she has another song to occupy her mind--I feel like a horrible parent that she keeps singing, "I want your ugly, I want your disease." In the best interest of the children, we have taken a break from Lady Gaga.)

Andrew had to prepare a poster and a "float" that showcased his county. The float was to be made of boxes that the child would carry. Andrew decided that he wanted his to be a bit larger and he wanted to be a part of the float. At first he wanted it to go around his waist, but then he decided to put trains on it to depict the meeting of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific. I strongly encouraged him to just make it a box that he could carry. It was not to be. He wanted to "wear" his float.

He decided that he would poke his head through the top.

It was one of those times that as a parent I struggled to let go of the control--to let him have artistic license and do what he wanted.

Mike put the song on the iPod and found some mini speakers to install on the float. That way when people saw the float they heard the song.

He pulled out some of his Thomas trains and track to make a model of the Wedding of the Rails. Mike found a little nail that Andrew painted yellow. Then he wanted some glitter to make it look gold. We used spray glue to get sand on the surface and Mike got some sagebrush from the field.

We used the posters Grandpa got him and the pictures he took of the site.

He did his presentation in class. Oh, how I wanted to be a fly on the wall. He came home and told us that it went well. He presented his poster and then "put on" the float. He told them about the Golden Spike and then...he pushed play on the iPod and sang the song to his class.

I worried--I hoped they didn't laugh. I was happy for him that he is confident to do something like that. I asked him what the response was like. He told me that the kids liked it. He also told me that one of his friends told him that it took a lot of guts to do that. Yes it did.

So, what did I learn from this experience?

I need to let go and let the kids express themselves and be creative and do some things that I may not have done.

I want to continue to teach my kids to have confidence--to believe they can do hard things, to not care what other's think of them.

I need to continue creating a family legacy of stories--memories we make together. This story will be added to the good ones-- the chipmunks at Angel's Landing, Mom's portrayal of a llama at Fish Lake, the Grizwald-style travel in D.C., the high-end sleeping accommodations in Orlando after 9-11. I can just see us all, with grey hair and grandkids of our own, talking about the time we rocked the railroad song in Mom's front room.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

If you give Alisa a project...

she's going to find another project to go with it.

Ironically, the story Jessi chose last night was, If You Give a Pig a Pancake. These stories have been some of our favorites, but last night I realized just how much they apply to my life.

Mike has diagnosed me with the "shiny object" condition. I tend to get distracted while doing projects.

Here is the latest story.

Since moving into our home 1.75 years ago, I have been planning the built-ins for the laundry room. I knew that I wanted us to build them ourselves so that I could get exactly what I wanted. Grandpa Peel taught Mike well, so with his building skills and my director/designer/painter skills I knew we could pull it off.

Well, I had drawn up the plans (in my mind--that one's for you, Mimi) and then on paper. We finally had a weekend with some free time so I declared that we would commence the construction. Memorial Day would be the day. And, the project would be completed by Saturday.

We got a jump start and bought the supplies and started cutting wood on Saturday. Of course it took longer than I had planned, but it is sturdy and straight and well-built. I am now in the process of painting it.

We added bead board to the back of the cabinet. So I figured that while we were already living in sawdust we might as well do the bead board I had planned for the bench entry area from the garage. It looks great, but the paint I had won't work for it so it is primed and ready for paint.

But then I realize that I want to paint the entire laundry room--you know to make it more cheery. I get this wild notion that adding a happy color to the walls will aid me in the drudgery that takes place in that room.

I decided on pale blue and I actually let Bev pick the color (trying to let go of a few control issues.) That is half done.

I now think that I want a much brighter light in the laundry room because, as I previously mentioned, a bright room will fix all of my problems.

So, since I am in the middle of all of these paining projects and have it all over my hands and nails, I might as well paint that lamp base I bought.

One day last week Andrew started a conversation with me by saying, "No offense Mom, but when were you going to go to the store?" Apparently buying food had been put on hold.

I know that, along with me finding shiny objects and wanting the project to be perfect, one of the reasons projects take a while is that I do have these little people relying on me to be present and take care of them. We did eat take-out more last week than we have in ages. My house looked like my room did when I was a teenager. The kids got a lot of "independent play time." But, they still got their stories and homework help and baths and snuggles. I think they survived.

Mike has been extremely patient with the mess. He worked his tail off last week. Every night when he came home from work we worked on the cabinet. He took the kids swimming and fishing to give me time to paint. He has earned some serious husband points.

That, and I still find him very appealing when he is covered in sawdust.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010