Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Popularity Contest

I ran the photo booth at MTHS's Homecoming Dance last Saturday night, which meant that I photographed the group and couple shots of the Homecoming Court.  While doing so, I realized something:

This term I have every one of those ten kids (King, Queen, and two escorts from each of the four classes) either in class or as an active member of at least one of my after-school activities.

Let me 'splain:  That means that every member of the Homecoming Court is a Speech kid or a Drama kid.  Over half of the group are both.  Heck, two of them are also on the Stage Crew.

The Stage Crew, people.  Techies as Homecoming royalty.

Mountain Town High School is really weird.

P.S.  There was also a junior who showed up wearing a formal black and silver tuxedo vest over a long-sleeved camo shirt.

P.P.S.  And a bunch of kids asked me to come dance with them since I looked bored.  I declined, since I needed to stand guard over the camera/money box; but it was a) super nice of them and b) weird that they're nice enough to want to make sure the grownups are having fun too.

P.P.P.S.  I was a little sad I didn't take them up on it when the "Superman" song came on and I discovered I know the choreography better than they do.

P.P.P.P.S.  Seriously, though. It's like I'm teaching at Wayside School.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sibling Gifts

At the "Welcome Home Masons" celebration Sunday (i.e. Mom, Dad, Jack and I + a plate of cookies + two balloons), Jack declared "This is the best birthday ever!"

I can see his point.  Based on this sole experience, birthdays mean presents, sweets, and a lot of adult attention regardless of whether it's his birthday or his brother's.

Sam gets a blanket, Jack gets a Transformer.  Sam gets a set of onesies, Jack gets a Transformer.  Sam gets a rattle, Jack gets a Transformer.  Why shouldn't Jack think sibling birthdays are the best?  He definitely won in the good present category.  I'm curious to see what he thinks of it a year from now when there's no matching present for him each time Baby Brother gets a package.

Then again, knowing these grandparents, this double-spoilage may continue for a while.  Neither set seems inclined to give up an excuse to buy things for the grandchildren.  In fact, it seems to be something that continues even into one's thirties, for my parents arrived Friday night with a present for me as well.

Rachel gets a baby, Manda gets a taser:

With a bonus torso poster for practicing!

My dad was terrified by inspired by my recent run-in with the criminal world of tissue distribution.  "I'm seeing a blog entry all about 'My Paranoid Dad,'" he joked as I examined my new weapon.  But, just like when he used to claim we were so embarrassed by our goofy parents in high school (We weren't.  My parents are awesome.  I knew that even in the midst of my worst pink-glasses-and-tucked-in-t-shirts teenage years), I assured him that I didn't think that at all.  I'm actually rather glad to have a good defense system next to my bed.  It sure beats my old system of Prayer + The Golf Club I Found on My Balcony.  

Don't knock the golf club too much, though.  It delivers a blow of greater concentrated force than your usual baseball bat; although it does require you to get within swinging distance of the Bad Guy, unlike this:

15-feet throw, baby!

As if the gift of safety isn't good enough, it came in my favorite kind of packaging:

Ironic packaging!

Peace, Health, and Happiness indeed!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Jack's Day: The Children's Museum of Denver

When Rachel and I discussed her birth plan several months ago, she fretted over what to do with Jack when she went into labor.  To me the answer was obvious.  "You call me," I told her.

I am the aunt, and here I had a chance to be relevant.  Being the aunt is something that people keep offering up as a consolation prize for being single (and therefore childless).  While I am unfamiliar myself with what it's like to have a close extended family (through no fault of my own aunts and uncles - they're all people I really like, but we rarely lived anywhere close to family while I was growing up), I am game to believe that there's a benefit to having a lot of adults around who like you.

So I updated my sub plans every day for the last week and a half, read through Rachel's incredibly detailed birth plan emails (Do you know which tube of toothpaste is the preferred one?  I do!)*, packed an overnight bag for the trunk of my car, and on Thursday afternoon when Rachel said she was heading to the hospital to be induced, I called in for a sub and drove up to their place to be the aunt.

It was too close to Jack's bedtime once Rachel and Ben left for us to do much more than watch the Tangled bonus short ("Silly lizard!  Silly horse!") and commence the multi-step bedtime routine.  But, oh, did I have plans for this guy once he got up in the morning!

Rachel's discomfort and impatience aside, I was glad her labor was delayed.  I wanted to take Jack to the Children's Museum on our day together; and when I looked up the times the weekend before, I was dismayed to read that the museum was closed for its annual cleaning this Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Her slow uterus meant that we got to play there after all.

And what a place it was!  Jack hadn't been there in his memory before, but he sure perked up once we got inside and saw the full-sized fire truck:

We climbed all over it, and Jack was quick to point out the smoke "over there!" that he could put out with the mounted hose.

He even had a turn in the driver's seat:

From there we headed upstairs and discovered a cardboard/woodworking station complete with tools, scraps to work with, and tiny little safety goggles:

After five minutes there, it was on to the train tracks:

One aspect I loved was that each station had costumes for the kids to wear.  My favorite outfits had to be the purple lab coats and safety goggles of the Bubble Room:

But then, this room also had the best activities.  From large hoops to hand-held plastic wands, they had all kinds of bubble-making devices:

Amid each station of bubble solution, there were hoses continually emitted water vapor that you could use to inflate cloudy bubbles:

and in one corner was a pulley system that let you enclose yourself in a full-sized bubble cage.

Jack spent a long time there (almost 15 minutes!), but he soon became distracted by the number of orange balls we kept seeing in another section of the museum.  So, off to the ball room!

There were giant pinball-like walls, machines that let you send balls into the air by jumping on a platform, and a whole section where you built paths out of foam bridges and stairs to create circuits connecting tubes that suck the balls up onto a course above your head to the tubes that spat them back down again.  It was pretty freakin' entertaining for both the 3 year old and the 33 year old.

We also played in the oversized backyard,

climbed inside a tunnel filled with stuffed mushrooms and gigantic earthworms (ew),

painted pictures:

stamped blue jellyfish:

went shopping at Whole Foods (oh, Colorado!):

cleaned up their disastrous produce aisle:

roasted the produce:

and then ran it all through the check-out stand:

And when I say "we," I mean it.  Every activity was accompanied by a "Come on, 'Manda!" and I dove right in.  Literally, in the case of the backyard tunnel.  By 1:00 we were both hungry and Jack was tired enough to flop right down on the firemen's beds when we headed back downstairs:

but not tired enough to miss out on the chance to ride the life-sized cow statue outside.

We headed back to his house for a sleepy lunch:

and a couple hours of Quiet Time.  Fortunately, the grandparents arrived just at the end of nap, bringing with them all kinds of toddler entertainment:

(Warning - turns out Jack is a major cheater when it comes to the Sneaky Snacky Squirrel game!)

They take their jobs as Spoilers seriously, these grandparents: watch out, little Sam.  You've got all kinds of adults around who like you too.

* (Actually, despite my teasing, Rachel and I both inherited the planner/need-to-control-things gene so these emails were appreciated)

Totally a Coincidence

Me and Sam:

Me, Andy, and Jack:

I can't speak for Rachel's children, but I promise I wear other colors.

Friday, September 13, 2013

An Aunt Twice Over

I have a new nephew!

Meet Samwise ("Sam") Storm Mason:

At five days past due, Rachel induced; and they finally convinced him to come out.  He's 9lb 8oz, so it was about time.

Here's Jack and Grandma Susan saying "Hi," for the first time:

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A Comment I'm Uncertain How to Take

"You know what I just realized, Waterhouse?"

"What?"  Second period, Speech, just ended, and I am tidying up my room before heading out the door for hall duty.  This student, a senior in my Speech class, is also my TA for 3rd period.  He helps me push the chairs back into a circle for the next class.

"I just realized that you're my teacher."

I give him my "That's weird/I'm skeptical" look.  He gets this look a lot.  It's part of why I like him.

"I know!" he says.  "But I just haven't ever really thought of you as my teacher before."

This kid has done Speech for two years, the musical for three, and he's taken all of my classes multiple times (not because of failing - he's a smart kid with good grades; our school allows repeats of electives).  I've had him every semester since his freshman year, which is why this comment strikes me as odd.

"What do you think has been happening the last three years?"  I ask.  "Haven't I been teaching you?"

"Yeah!" he says with enthusiasm.  "But, I don't know, it just didn't feel like you're my teacher.  But then today you were up there and I was like, 'Whoa.  You're a teacher.'"

"What did you think I was?"

"I don't know.  Like a friend.  Someone who talks about cool stuff."

"Is this something you've experienced with your other teachers?"  I head down the corridor towards the hall to monitor the passing period.

"Nope," he says cheerfully, tagging alongside me.  "Just you!"

"Huh," I say as he dashes away to greet a group of friends.  "Okay then."

Sunday, September 01, 2013

A Happy Saturday

The nice thing about being sick on a holiday weekend is that I don't have to wrestle with the "Should I call in sick tomorrow?" dilemma.  I have a whole 'nother day to curl up in a fetal position on my couch in my sick flannel and watch "Sherlock" before going back to educate the disease-ridden children.

Happily, the worst of the cold hit me after my plans finished yesterday, which meant I got to enjoy a pleasant (albeit stuffy-nosed) day.

It began when Rachel texted me saying she needed to get out of the house.  More specifically, Ben had ordered her to "go have fun."  Our solution:


We met up with Ben and Jack for lunch at Qdoba, then I ran a few errands before driving out to the airport to rendezvous with Jason.

He had a 2 hour layover en route to visit his parents in Reno, so we got to catch up a bit in person.  It was an all-too-brief delight.

From DIA I headed back to Denver to meet Lisa for dinner here:

They've remodeled Parisi's since the last time I was there and it wasn't as good as I remembered.  Happily, though, Lisa's company continues to be as enjoyable as ever.

After dinner we drove to the Esquire to meet up with Rachel to see:

It was incredibly stupid, yet hilarious.  The stuffed fowl and carefully-placed gilded leaves were great touches, but seeing Gaius Baltar playing a fawning romantic lead to Jennifer Coolidge is what really makes it worth the watching.

Altogether, a lovely way to spend a Saturday.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have a box of tissues to clutch.