Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Of Homework and Hurricanes

School update: We are halfway through week three of first grade, and the honeymoon has ended for both Bella and myself. First grade is a lot of work and absolutely nothing like I remember it. I also don't remember it being so labor intensive for my parents (although I remember little of first grade so I'm probably wrong). According to the school handbook, Bella should have 30-45 minutes of homework per night, and most nights she does. The other night she was doing homework for an hour and a half. I would call if ridiculous, but most of it was for religion class so I would feel bad for calling it ridiculous. So I will say the amount of time spent on it was ridiculous. Of course, it is all still new to everyone and the bugs are still being worked out.Things will get better. I have had a couple of concerns with her teacher - there has been some communication issues, and she misspelled two words (suppose as 'supoose' and bring as 'breng' - made me feel a little funny but hey, she has 20 kids to write notes for, so maybe she was in a hurry). But it's early yet.

Her school has been fortunate enough to be graced with the addition of three Salesian sisters to the staff - one as principal, one as K4 aide and one whose exact job I'm not sure of but she is absolutely delightful to be around. Maybe that's her job. If so, she is doing a smashing job of it. The entire atmosphere of the school has changed. Even the parish/school priest has gone through a notable change in attitude. Things used to be bad - if he had to walk through the parking lot at carpool time he would do this brisk run/walk across the parking lot, pulling his baseball cap lower onto his head and hugging whatever he was carrying against him almost in a defensive pose. He wouldn't make eye contact or speak to anyone, even if they spoke to him. This year he stands in the middle of the two carpool lanes waving at every single car like a beauty pageant contestant. When Bella and I were walking up to her class for open house he stopped us outside the cafeteria and greeted us warmly, even jokingly asking Bella if she was looking forward to starting middle school. After we walked away Bella said, "Father Joe is nice this year". I really am thrilled with all the changes that have been made and I think it has made a good school into a great school.

And one of my favorite improvements? PTO meeting scheduling. Previously these meetings, especially the first one of the year, have taken HOURS. Literally, I would be leaving the school after 9PM. Last night, Father opened the PTO meeting with a prayer and then announced that:

1.) Every speaker would get 3-5 minutes of time to discuss whatever it was they were talking about
2.) Every speaker would be available after the meeting to answer any questions, soooo.....(and the next one was my favorite):
3.) No questions would be answered during the meeting

Oh, it was music to my ears. Sweeter words have never been spoken, at least not at a PTO meeting. I have never had a spouse available to put my kid (now kids) to bed, so every minute spent at a PTO meeting was a minute that my child was awake when she should have been asleep. So quick was good. Quick was very good. I did discover that Bella talks too much in class, and sometimes does not listen when she should, so we are working to put the kibosh on that.

We are having to adjust to a lot, all at once. The start of school. The ton of homework. My hours have been extended. Brian got moved to an overnight shift, working 8PM to 8AM four nights a week (and it SUCKS). Maw-Maw has been out of town (but coming back in a couple of weeks, much to Bella's relief). Auntie is getting ready to move (and Auntie has been Bella's babysitter pretty much since birth, so I'm expecting a pretty emotional departure). We are reeling, and it shows. My house is cluttered and mildly disgusting. I'm exhausted all the time. Things are kind of crazy, but I suppose eventually we will adjust. Life has been keeping us pretty busy. I'm desperately trying to incorporate some sort of schedule and routine in our lives, to get to some semblance of normalcy. We'll see.

I'm feeling a little hurried because I am babysitting my friend's three kids tonight while she has her 20-week ultrasound for her fourth child. But then I'm off work Thursday, so I can rest. Or frantically do housework to try and catch up on everything I've neglected the last week or two. Or three. Things are messy. I don't know what's required to have an area officially declared a disaster area by the government, but I could be close to qualifying.

And we are on Gustav watch - that horribly named tropical storm that's churning around and eyeballing the gulf coast. While the amount of time it takes for a hurricane to get near us is a wonderful thing, because it allows you to makes plans and/or get the heck out of dodge, it is maddening to have to wait. You can always tell when there's tropical weather looming, because almost every television you see is tuned to the weather channel. And every computer you pass is viewing the weather channel's website (as I am on my other tab, right now). And you talk about it, and hash it out, and discuss, and fret, and wonder at what point do you commence with all the time consuming preparations (plywood for the windows and whatnot), and it just becomes the very center of your world. We used to be in the very center of the projected path, but now we are a little further off center. I don't want anyone else to get hit, but I don't want us to get hit, either. Wish us luck!

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