Thursday, August 23, 2018

Naive Set Theory

Naive Set Theory. That's what Max's recent lesson was about... "set theory," but simple so they call it "naive." He's enrolled in Mathematical Reasoning, for summer, and finally he has a class he describes as challenging, rigorous, which prompted Maria to ask, "But fun, right?" And Max brightened, "Yes. Fun." He brings the fun home, sharing his favorite lessons, and concepts. Our first lesson was Saturday morning, after his first week in class. Last night he came home with Geoff, after 9pm, eager to share something new. Step by step, patiently and with enthusiasm he took Maria through the symbols, abstractions, and reasoning of set theory, until at last they finished with a truth table. I am enjoying these new expressions, like proving through contradiction, and naive set theory.

Yesterday there was a parent orientation at Maria's school, and I walked into the room in time to hear an administrator ask the parents something to the effect of... Is everyone excited to get their kids out of the house and back to school?

No, I said aloud.

I get that it's meant to be "humorous," and maybe it's actually appealing to some families. But it makes me sad, and I cannot relate to the cultural tone and attitudes about children, about our own children, that we must be eager to "get away from them," that they "lie," that they are "untrustworthy," "have poor taste," are "annoying." And the expectation always seems to be that if you're keeping it real, not boasting, then you should nod in agreement, share your own kids these days flavored anecdote. Maria gets a variety of this culture fail, too, whenever people tease her about having brothers, suggesting they are probably "mean" or "bullying" or that she must be "tormented" by them. When she was younger, and these comments were directed at her, she looked confused, and would ask, "What do they mean? Why do people say 'brothers aren't nice?'" Now, she's accustomed to the small talk, and declares "My brothers are great. I love them," with a look and tone that dares anyone to say otherwise.

My calendar is already marked with every half-day, school holiday, and long weekend, because I am excited for the time we will have together, as a family, when I can hear their ideas, cook and craft with them, travel, explore, and read aloud with them. It's not to say that I love every kind of music they enjoy, or that I relish finding abandoned socks in the living room... but I have poor taste and bad habits, too, so? I don't see any good in constantly expressing this "joke" that children are doing everything wrong, that we need to get away from them. I don't feel it, and I don't want to perpetuate the norm, because it is false, and damaging.

Now I'm all fired up. And smiling about my effusive views. Don't get me started on those horrible videos from one generation describing all the failings, and shortcomings of an upcoming generation! Seriously! Sometimes a little criticism comes in handy, but all of the hyper-critical, negative labeling, and blaming is a destructive mess!

Now, I am really fired up.

My hygienist had news for me, "You are grinding your teeth, clenching your jaw." And we had a whole discussion about how the state of the world has got a lot of us grinding our teeth. So, I'm supposed to consider taking some magnesium, and maybe I should cut back on news consumption. Of course, when the news is good, that has got to be good for my clenched jaw, and all the rest of my bones, I am sure. Come to think of it, my jaw might feel better if I just went ahead and opened up about what I think and feel, getting fired up and effusive, and saying aloud, "No, I am not excited about my children leaving the house! I am excited about them loving school, and sharing their enthusiasm. I am excited about buying fresh notebooks and more pencils, and supporting the robotics team, and weekends and holidays. Also, I am keeping them home when they are sick, or if we find something better to do."

In other news...

Maria and I found those filter things that put masks and hats and glasses on your picture. We are so late to the party, I'm not sure there is a party! But we had the best time with these, and William played with us, too. And, for the record... I am really darn adorable with a bunny nose, sparkle eyes, and fluff ears. I had no idea.

My latest shawl is done. I wanted it to have more than one or two colors, and I tried to add different stitches. It started to curl... which I guess is because of the varying stitches. But, I like it. And I'm already making a blanket now. Also, someone at the dentist's office saw me crocheting, and asked where I learned (that's a whole story)... she says I stitch "over" and that's not typical of English or American crocheting style. It was a funny exchange. I wonder what would happen if I try wrapping the yarn under, instead of over...

Our plum tree gave us more plums than last year. We hope this tasty trend continues. And everyone in our local area should get ready to come over for passionfruit, soon. And our avocado pits our sprouting. Countdown to guacamole starts now! (ahem)

I finally dared myself to actually use the lotion bar I ordered from Posie. I have this terrible habit of saving special things for the "right" time, and that is rarely a good thing. So, at bedtime, I indulge, and massage my hands with this beautiful lotion bar. It smells, and feels, as pretty as it looks.

If she didn't have a backpack, already, this Black Panther backpack is Maria's ideal backpack. (For some sad reason her mom is trying to make a point about economizing and being practical... blah, blah, blah.)

Wait... do I have a backpack? A back to school backpack? My class starts the first week of September. Everyone is excited to get me out of the house and back to school! lol

Sunday, August 19, 2018

August New Year

Somewhere in August, maybe early September, it feels like we are beginning a New Year. Partly it's to do with school; a large part, I am sure. I feel it too, because of other changes, like how our town gets quieter, visitors go home, the beaches empty out, and we begin to anticipate holidays... The Holidays. I suppose I could think of it as a grande finale to the old year, the last hurrah before 2019. But that is not how I think of it. I am in the mood to tidy corners, sharpen pencils, and do anything that will brighten the mood for a fresh start, for a new year.

It's kind of too soon, to think of pumpkins, to picture where we will put a Christmas tree, to decide on Thanksgiving side dishes. But only kind of... in some ways, I feel it's as good a time as any. I am craving warm socks on cool floors, different colors, comfort foods coming out of the oven. Of course, it would be a tremendous boon if the weather would cooperate. People are going back to school, and I see more and more comments like, 'Summer is fading,''More signs of Fall,' and for 2 seconds it makes me perk up, and feel wishful. If only we could bypass Santa Ana winds, and the hottest days of the year, and no one would miss the dread Fire Season, which comes earlier and earlier, stays longer and longer.

Tutu Ruth took Maria back-to-school shopping. High school shopping. The whole outing was an adventure and delight, including seeing pretty shops, reminiscing, and finding the best fitting, most comfy, and darling pair of jeans. These are the style pants that Maria designs and puts on the characters she creates and illustrates, and I know just what she means when she says, "I love that I can find the pants I have been imagining and wanting, but now it means they will be everywhere, and popular, and it will seem as though I'm copying."

9 more days... sigh. When I think of it, when I look at this picture, I just want to start all over, go back to the days when she could be by my side all day long. I don't regret anything, there's little I would change (I would take more pictures!) I have just loved it all so much, with each of my children... the days, and moments, the laughter, adventures, lessons, and challenges, the discoveries, love, and wonder, the honor of being their Mom, and especially of seeing them be, and become. Back to school, and even the freshman year of high school is hardly the end of childhood, of parenting, but I've been here 3 times before, and I know too well, that this is a gate, a threshold, and we will pass through it more swiftly than I can bear. There are moments when I catch myself thinking of Max, and seeing him through high school, but that's done and over; he's a junior at university. I cannot keep up.

Seeing her, I feel an invocation of blessings swell up and catch in the back of my throat, words to pour out over her, like an intercession, a shield against real harm. In living, to grow, we have setbacks, disappointments, missteps... these are inevitable, and conducive, too. But, you know... we want our children to have their chance, to be safe, to face challenges and enjoy success, know what it is to make their own dreams come true. And just now, when I am expected to step back and let go, a little more, I cannot help but want to give her advice, and tips, magic, whole grains, witty quips, daring, and resilience... really just the confidence in herself of all that I already see in her. And if I could watch, if I could sit unobserved at the back of a room... I would love to see her in Japanese class, watch her find the best place to eat her lunch, have the pleasure of seeing her story unfold, just a little bit more.

August skies are what redeem all of summer's lesser qualities. I love the storm clouds that appear in our eastern horizon, over the foothills and mountains of the county. Thunderheads, and great towering cumulonimbus thrill me. I can forgive the muggy heat, the sleepless nights, the overcrowded beaches, so long as the sky puts on its summer show, the blockbuster cloud displays of August.

Alex is in Fullerton, a couple of hours north, helping Bambi move into her apartment. Back to school. It's everywhere. She can come back here on some weekends, and during breaks, but I simply like it better when everyone is nearby. That's it. Too many friends, and most of my family is far-flung, and there's no remedy or compensation for missing them, for feeling sentimental and nostalgic, and wishing we knew each other, had time together like we did in the old days.

Oh what a mushy, sad mood I feel. You have no idea. Be sure, I am being constrained and rational, compared with what I think and feel.

Here are the last two of the game I played on IG, 7 books, without review or explanation. And since CB is not IG, I will annotate, because that is my prerogative. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society saved me from becoming a complete non-reader. Here is something I am extremely embarrassed, loathe, to admit, but I've hardly read a novel since... I don't know when. I read. I read the news, articles, blog posts, recipes, letters, snippets, bits, practical columns, necessary verses, but nothing narrative, nothing between two covers, with a protagonist, setting, plot. I'd lost my way with long-form stories, best-sellers, classics, substantive chronicles. Maybe I felt too busy. Maybe there was too much of any number of obstacles and justifications, between me and a good read. But. Whatever. I saw the movie, first, then listened to the Audible, and now I have the book. And that's so backwards and unfamiliar from how I ever do anything, did anything... I hardly recognize myself. But, maybe that's something to consider... maybe I need to take some time and become acquainted with me. Maybe this new year feeling and back to school shifts is for me, too. Nothing stays the same, season to season, year to year. Perhaps I should reconsider what I believe(d) about who I am and how I do things, and reacquaint myself with me, today, and tomorrow.

This shawl has become (another) prayer shawl, and in it go my best thoughts, recollections, and hopes for peace and comfort for people I care for. In each stitch and new row are my concern, love, best wishes for us all.

Well. My head is buzzing, and I feel like stopping at this moment is like leaving an unfinished row in my crocheting. But, I am going to pause with the blogging, just now. I am going to start a load of laundry, consider what's for lunch, and give my newfound thoughts some consideration.