What can I say? It's been that kind of month.
It wasn't all terrible. I took the girls to see Wicked on Friday night. Sylvia had seen it twice before, but this was Riley's first time, and she loved it. She's heard the cast recording at least a hundred times, so she enjoyed seeing what happens during those numbers, and how they all connect. She got a little tired and restless towards the end of the first act (which is kinda long), so I got them both buzzed with soda and candy at intermission and their sugar high got us through the rest of the show.
The show is still great. I'd still see it again. Sylvia enjoyed it just as much this time as the previous.
Riley may be turning a corner. Maybe. She had a good cry tonight, and that may be just what she needed to get all those icky feelings out once and for all.
We talked over the weekend about the waves of an emotion. We talked about things they might like to do to help them reach the shore when they're feeling the wave at its peak. Then they started fighting, and calming down was the last thing they wanted to do. We still need to work on how to get over that peak.
I've also been reading Yardsticks, a recommendation made by the former principal at KIPP (still a dear friend of ours). It is helping me understand their development a bit more so that I can know just where it is they're coming from. Yet another example of knowledge really being powerful.
I'm still in my own funk these days. A combination of nothing really going right, but I'm not beating myself over it anymore. I'm not fighting it, I'm not letting it take complete control. It's just there. It will pass. I've been through it enough to know that. And I know my own emotions/depression/general funkiness is probably not helping matters with the girls any. Riley is especially sympathetic, and is feeding off of me. But I cannot beat myself over it anymore as it'll just make things worse. I just have to let it be to a certain degree.
As I told a colleague this morning, "I got the girls to school on time. That, in itself, is an accomplishment. One thing at a time."
The only place I really do feel okay these days is in my work. Not like I'm perfect at my job yet, but I'm pleased with my progress thus far, and my colleagues seem to be pleased with it as well. Also, I've always loved to learn and there's still so much to learn that it keeps me stimulated.
Speaking of "love of learning," I just sent an email to Riley's teacher (which came back as undeliverable because she's not really an email person so didn't give me the right address, but which I've printed and will send with Riley to school tomorrow) about the homework and my concerns. I'll copy and paste the pertinent paragraphs:
I'm concerned about the amount of homework being given. Riley does as much as she can at the Boys & Girls Club after school, but still does not have enough time to finish while she's there. After work, dinner and baths, there's only so much time left for homework, and still allow for a good night's sleep.
I've read from numerous sources that the appropriate amount of homework should be 10 minutes per grade level. The reading alone is that much. I'm concerned that the true value being lost by piling on the homework is our children's love of learning.
I also have seen, from my older daughter, that more active homework for spelling/vocabulary - such as word searches, finding the proper word to go in a sentence, rhyming exercises - better prepares them to spell and use the words correctly than rote memorization or copying the word 10 - 50 times per week.
It's been a constant struggle for Riley to get her homework done, which wasn't the case in years past. While I realize that some of this is due to the transition period, I also fear that it's the homework itself that may be the problem.
I hope it's not too bitchy, but it's a battle worth fighting, I think. I've even seen studies (sorry, can't remember the links) that say that homework has no positive effect whatsoever, and can even have negative consequences. I don't know if I would go that far, but it seems to me that the homework should reinforce learning and give the teachers a chance to see where they are, and what they're understanding, rather than just writing ten spelling words five times, and 10 vocabulary words plus their definitions.
I'm sure my educator commenters will have much to say about this, and I look forward to reading it. As I said, I love to learn, and I'm anxious to hear varying points of view on this subject.
One last Riley note: she was on TV again - but just in passing. Michael Phelps went to visit the Burbank Boys & Girls Club today, and spoke to the kids. It made the news. Sylvia, poor thing, got there too late to see him. She was the one most looking forward to it (and the one that had my camera - so no pics either).
And one very last note: you may have noticed my new Obama avatar. I realize a few of you may disagree, and some of you agree wholeheartedly. It's not an attempt to change your vote, but I do want to say proudly where I stand. And I encourage everyone to do your own research. Please do not let conventions or pundits decide this campaign for you. Their voting records are readily available on the Senate website. Another great non-partisan resource (cited by Republicans and Dems alike) is FactCheck. It's easier and easier to get information these days, and really, it's the least we can do.
Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now. Your turn! Your comments always inspire and enlighten me - I could use that about now!