Tag Archives: dance

Scenes from Saturday + Dance Hall Days

In the labyrinth of high school education, where every day presents a new academic challenge, there lies a subtler curriculum on the art of actually living that does not get measured on state testing but perhaps offers a much better measurement and insight into whether your child might be paying you rent for a basement studio space in twenty years time.

Michelle and I try to model our behavior for both girls but actually living through it yourself is a much better tutorial. Flashcards can help with the classroom learning, but learning to prioritize her academics, her friendships, her extracurriculars, and her self-care doesn’t come with a textbook.

Cecilia is starting to get a taste of that during freshman year. Recently overheard after a Friday night out with friends. “Jeez, Five Guys is expensive and I didn’t even get fries!” I can’t wait until that first real paycheck and she learns about FICA deductions.

It’s in these formative, freshman years that the notion of balancing time takes on a new dimension. She got a taste of that after the gumbo and beignets of her New Orleans trips. There was a lot of catch up time and a lot of late nights. High school, with its relentless schedule and its grinding, grading rubric, inadvertently teaches our children the importance of balancing academic pursuits with life’s quieter, yet equally significant, lessons.

As parents, our role is to guide them in discerning not just how to allocate their time, but how to imbue each chosen activity with purpose and meaning, preparing them for the nuanced complexities of adult life. The real education, it seems, lies not in the accumulation of grades, but in the gradual mastery of living a balanced life.

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Scenes from Saturday + Songs & Sauce

Heard this parenting nugget on a podcast at the end of a long work week where it often felt like I was dealing with children.

“The setbacks, mistakes, miscalculations, and failures we have shoved out of our children’s way are the very experiences that teach them how to be resourceful, persistent, innovative and resilient citizens of this world.”

The quote is from the book The Gift of Failure and what I liked most was the fact that the book/author didn’t solely focus on school or test performance, important, of course, but also recognizes the fact that schools don’t just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. They teach responsibility, organization, manners, and more – important life skills kids carry with them long after they leave the classroom.

You might need decent grades to get a foot in the door, but if you want to keep a job, or get promoted, how well you get along with your co-workers, how well you integrate within a team, and how you operate under stress is going to get you a lot farther than knowing the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

Can I make flash cards for life skills?

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Scenes from Saturday + Clean & Cozy

One week of January is gone. How are those resolutions going?

I occasionally find myself overwhelmed by the thought of writing another book or staying in shape for an entire year. It takes time to do anything worthwhile, but it helps to remember it doesn’t all get done in one chunk. Forget about the months ahead, forget about the weeks.

Focus on the day.

The calendar is a completely made up human construct. Thanks a lot Julius Caesar. (You can bet we had a flash card on that one.)

But no one can mess with the rhythm of night and day. The sun comes up, the sun goes down.

You do your work, you fight the battle on that day. Forget about the eternity of yesterday or tomorrow.

Making a change is the slow accumulation of a day’s worth of effort over time. One day at a time.

Most days I can handle that.

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Scenes from Saturday + Rain & Red Cups

I recently learned an important parenting lesson from Olive Garden. No, not from the overcooked pasta or undercooked bread sticks. Rather from Cecilia’s mere fascination with the restaurant. She really likes the pasta there. Or the idea of the pasta there. I can’t explain it. It’s sort of drives me crazy that she likes it so much. We go to many better establishments. Michelle makes homemade pasta. Heck, Ce’s eaten pasta in Rome in the shadow of the Colosseum. Why does this place have such a hold on her?

And then I realized I didn’t need to have an opinion. Just like the unlimited salad and breadsticks, Gary might bring them to the table, but I didn’t need to eat them. It’s possible to not have an opinion. I didn’t need to turn faux-grotto columns and reheated sauces into a thing or let it upset me. Why was I letting the mediocre alfredo provoke me? I shouldn’t.

I could curb my emotions. Who knew the OG could pack in the life lessons just as much as the calories? A good reminder for any Dad and a good reminder for the upcoming Thanksgiving week when we gather and inevitably rub elbows with friends and family who have different opinions. Don’t get mad. Tame your temper. Think of the Olive Garden.

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Scenes from Saturday + Pins & Needles

“Listening is how I started. I didn’t start when I was a piano player. I didn’t start as a composer. I started as a listener.” RIP composer Carla Bley. A force in jazz and a good potential role model for two young ladies in this house.

I sometimes put on her music to write depending on the scene. Swap out listening for reading and player for writer and the quote still works. You can’t be a writer without being a reader. I broke out of my reading slump by spending the last week slowly reading the fourth Thursday Murder Club. I didn’t want it to end. Equal parts thrilling, silly, and touching. I want to join a retirement community gang and solve crimes.

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Scenes from Saturday + Singin’ in the Rain

Favorite thing I read this week: “I bought the only physical encyclopedia still in print, and I regret nothing.”

I still have very clear memories of consulting our World Book volumes, stored in a glass bookcase in the hallway off the kitchen, for just about every school project from African elephants in elementary school to atomic theory in high school. I knew the World Book had a magic page in there somewhere to help me.

It’s only a matter of time before paper makes a full (even if ironic) comeback. The age of flash cards is not over yet!

Maybe sooner than I think. I did get an eye-rolling smile from Cece when she recounted her high school orientation day where departing seniors imparted lessons on the incoming freshman. A key lesson? Save your flash cards throughout the semester. The use of flash cards was a given. The tip was about flash card management!

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Scenes from Saturday + Dirty Dogs & Dance Drama

Two things collided this past week. Cecilia will soon graduate from middle school which led, naturally, to conversations about what she will do this summer and how she might need to start thinking about college prep. This led, naturally, to stress and unhappiness.

Talk of the approaching summer also led to discussions about what we, as a family, are going to do with my sabbatical time. Are we going somewhere? Doing something? Experiencing something? How will we maximize this rare opportunity? This led, naturally, to stress and unhappiness.

I realized later (while not sleeping because I was stressed) that no family is happy all the time. It’s impossible and probably not healthy. Happiness is like a wheel, we cycle through it. It comes and goes, but it doesn’t exist for us in the past or the future. Happiness only exists in the present. So we shouldn’t let the future come at the expense of what is right in front of us.

If we want to be a happy family, we should prioritize just being together. It doesn’t matter where. It’s sort of that simple. And that attainable.

The trick, of course, is holding onto it, because just as you grab it, the wheel keeps turning.

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