Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Band Moms

This year, I've been pretty busy helping out the Band Moms. I seem to be on the "A-List" and get emails when they need help.

This morning, I helped get high school kids fitted for new marching band uniforms--finding the correct size for each kid, getting the pants hems snapped up (snaps! cool idea!), getting the right gauntlets and hats . . . we started a few weeks ago, have worked about an hour each day, and are finally done!

It's been so fun to hang out with them. I've gotten to be pretty close friends with Anne, "Karl's mom" :-) and we do things together besides band momming. So it's been a great social time for me as well as volunteer time.

I've never been that involved in my kids' activities--mostly because my kids aren't really that INTO activities. Robbie did soccer, and I brought treats when it was my turn, but never coached or anything. But I think some of these moms are real go-getters for their kids--involved in everything their kids do. Lots of them don't work, and some have odd-time jobs like mine, so they have time for it.

It's funny--I don't remember Band Moms from my youth. I don't remember parents being involved at all. My parents probably went to see us march once in a while, but I don't remember them doing uniforms--the older girls in the band did that! In fact, I don't remember parents being involved in any activities I did. Except for paying (though we didn't do expensive activities) and driving--until we could drive.

I like being involved in band, but I sometimes think we're not really doing the kids that great of a service. Wouldn't it be better for the kids to be responsible for getting the hems snapped up on their pants themselves? Or to have some of the older kids help with uniforms? Or have a bunch sign up to clean out the band room instead of the Moms doing it? Maybe not, but it seems like we kind of baby them.

And the parents going to every single activity--even staying for the Monday evening rehearsals. That seems odd to me. I like to see some of the events, but I also like it when Robbie comes home and tells us, with excitement, about the ones he went to. "It was so fun on the band bus . . . " It's HIS life, and it's fun to imagine his life apart from ours. I've always liked that.

I think it's easier for Moms (and some Dads, too) these days to be involved in their kids' lives. For one thing, most families are smaller! Back in the day, many of my friends had 3-4 siblings--parents were too busy with them to get involved with ONE kid's things. And maybe the expectations are higher for kids' activities today. You can't just go out and march and have fun, you need to be in 5 contests each fall (or maybe more) and be good enough to win. You can't have the older girls doing the uniforms for that to happen.

It sure is fun hanging out with the Band Moms, though. They need help checking the kids' uniforms before the game on Friday, so I'll be there!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back to blogging

Haven't blogged much; I think the boredom of summer was getting to me!

Don't get me wrong: I love summer. But in my role as adjunct college instructor and "mom of teen boys," my summer is a bit dull. Well, I did have some freelance writing work to do, but as for the other two roles, there's not much happening! I don't teach or do research in the summer, which is a nice break . . . but it's a LONG break, from early May until mid August. And being home in summer--to hang out with the boys--is fun, too, but at their age, it's not like I DO much with them! I just kind of need to be around. And that gets dull. Believe it or not, one can get tired of sitting around crocheting, reading novels, and doing small chores for months at a time!

Some days, I would have enjoyed going to a coffee house to hang out and chat with people. Or even go in to the office to pretend to be a professor again. And I suppose I could have left home to do that--but I would have been wondering what they've gotten up to while I was gone. They don't get into trouble, but they do invite people over (almost every day!), or sometimes head out to the pool, a friend's house, etc. etc. and I kind of want to know what's happening. Other moms of teens have agreed with this feeling.

(I feel comfortable leaving them for an hour or so--like to do an interview for a story or have a swim at the Y. But just for an hour or so, and just when I have a real task to do. Then I feel I need to come back.)

Maybe I should be more cell-phone savvy--that would make me available even if I leave the house. Gotta figure that one out for next summer.

I'm glad to get back to blogging. Not like I have much to share, but writing is good. Writing is like anything else I do--ballet, TKD, crocheting--it's use it or lose it. So I'm going to use it.

Every blog post needs photos. Here are some of pizza I made on the grill last night. I'd made it before, but this time, they turned out better!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A couple of things I made

Made these meringues with the egg whites (2) left over from making peach pie. As I said to the guys, they're basically air and sugar and a bit of chocolate (mini chocolate chips).

Also, I just finished this pencil case for my art pencils.
(The camera added a strange texture to the fabric, which is actually just a heavy chambray.)

I like the way it came out. Since I haven't been doing much drawing recently, I may just use it at work so I can see it more often.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Jane: Boys of Summer: Eli

Architecture, antiques, and cats have been at the heart of Eli's summer.

During the week that Robbie was at Jazz Camp, Eli went to an "Architecture and Archeology" class at Brucemore, the National Historic Site that's about a block from our house. He learned a lot and did some fun things, like getting a "nooks and crannies" tour of the mansion, learning about the homes in our neighborhood, and conducting a "dig" on the grounds. Just about every day, he will share some bit of knowledge about our neighborhood that he learned there.

We found some books about "Cedar Rapids, Then and Now" that have photos of our town in earlier years. He's enjoying looking at those.

He's good at art, so has been making some drawings of houses, and just started a floor plan of his "ideal house" which is a Victorian-style house.

Although we don't have a Victorian house, he now is the owner of a Victorian camera. When we visited my aunt and uncle in Philadelphia, they showed him a beautiful old camera that my Uncle Dave got from his dad, an antique dealer. They ended up giving it to Eli, who was thrilled. He's doing some research on it--we visited the History Center with it, and they sent photos of it to their appraiser.

Lately, he's been studying earlier history--Chinese history, in fact. He found a website that's helping him determine when some Chinese coins he owns were made. He has to learn a bit about the symbols to do that, and he's been reading a book about Chinese history. With some lawn-mowing money, he just ordered a half-kilo of old Chinese coins from e-bay . . .

Cats have been an ongoing theme for Eli, too. He's always been really good with animals, and made friends with several cats, most notably Romeo, an odd little cat that lives on our block. Romeo comes by frequently--looking for Eli, I think--and Eli hangs out with him on the patio.

One nice thing about the summer was that I got to spend some time with each boy by himself. While Robbie was at Jazz Camp, Eli and I biked around town, went to thrift stores, and worked in the yard. While Eli was with Bruce in Chicago, Robbie and I biked around town, went to the Wednesday lunch-lecture at Coe, and had supper at Genghis Grill. They make good companions.

Summer is tricky for the mom of teens. I knew all along that I did not want to be a cruise director and plan my kids' days, or entertain them all summer. But I knew, too, that when I'm not on their cases all day, they slink back to the computer/video game screens.

I guess I just decided not to worry too much about screen overdose. Maybe it's OK for them just to chill for most of the summer. I'm thinking that in a few years, they will need to have summer jobs, and in a few more years, jobs all year long. So what's wrong with a few summers of wasted time. It's been a delight to find that lots of their time hasn't been wasted, but used in creative and unique ways.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Jane: Boys of Summer: Robbie

The guys haven't been posting here much, so I thought I'd post a little update on their summer activities for those of you who are interested.

I'll start with Robbie, who just finished an interesting project.
Doesn't this look nice in our living room? It'll hold music and trumpet mutes so they don't spread out all over the floor . . .

He made it in a welding class which was taught for teens at the local community college over the past 3 days. Robbie LOVED learning to weld. They did stick and wire welding. I wish I had a photo of him welding, but I don't, so here's a generic welding image.
People seemed puzzled when I said he was taking a welding class. None of his friends was the least bit interested in joining him. But Robbie's always enjoyed making things, so it was a good class for him.

Here he is spray-painting the metal part in our garage after the class was over.
Besides that class, Robbie also went to Jazz camp at Simpson College in June. He really enjoyed that and it jump-started his practicing for the summer. Actually, his teachers said "don't call it practicing. That sounds like a chore. Call it 'playing your horn.'" Since Jazz camp, he's been playing his horn frequently and I can hear him becoming a better musician. Good thing, because several really good trumpet players left the high school band last year, and the younger ones will have to step up.

He's played in church several times, and he and his buddy Nathan played a trumpet/piano duet at both their churches. Wish I'd made a movie or recording, but I didn't. Maybe next time!

For fun, Robbie's been going to the pool, about every day that it's nice. He calls friends or contacts them on Facebook, and usually gets a few guys together. Or he just goes with Eli. They ride their bikes to the pool, then come back here for snacks and video gaming.

Speaking of video gaming, he's also created several games this summer, learning some different game programming languages or techniques. Maybe I'll get him to write about that because I don't understand it.

Although I am frustrated by the amount of time both boys spend at screens each day, I have to admit that they cheerfully comply when I ask them to do a chore, practice, or help me out with something . . . so I guess it's OK.