leaves

Oct. 26th, 2012 09:02 pm
kip_w: (tree)
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I.
That wondrous moment
When one leaf, then another one
Drifts onto my tarp.

II.
I rake east to west
The wind blows it back again
To show me who's boss.

Things are getting busy. Incredibly, they are not as busy as they're going to get. My art history class (20th century) is a steady, two-day-a-week presence, with the occasional quiz (write write write write) or paper (type type type). Rehearsals are reaching a crescendo. Cathy's going away next week, leaving me to figure out how to get Sarah squared away on three nights when rehearsals go until 10:30. So today I raked leaves instead of going to the Y.

I've been pretty good about getting my exercise. Three trips to the Y a week for exercise machines. Five or six walks a week. Stretching six or seven times a week. Once in a while, though, I'll defer to the necessity of getting some particular task done, like mowing the lawn, which I may get to tomorrow, now that I've gotten about 90% of the leaves off the front. I also attacked and destroyed one of the damn bushes that wants to take over the world by the front doorway. The other will suffer the same fate, and then I'll see how much of the wretched ivy I can get rid of. And saw off the next tree branch that wants to fall when the wind blows. And hey, that'll mean fewer leaves, right? It's got to!

Last night was the night Sarah had to finish her invention for school, so we stepped it up a bit. It's a sort of combination doll house and games cabinet, made of cardboard, garnished with cloth, foam slabs, duck tape, and some rope for handles. Plus bobby pins, which we finally employed as a cunning way of latching it shut. Seems to work. Anyway, it's just a prototype. She came out with Zach from next door (across the back yard), and they joined in the raking and leaf blowing. Zach never helps at home, only at other people's houses. Sarah helps out at home <i>and</i> at other houses.

The weather threatens to come in. We've had two idyllic days in a row. It was above 80 today. I'm about to go for a walk, and expect it will still feel lovely. I'll see how they're doing on filling in the hole in the street that opened up about a week ago. I'll look at the yard signs this one place has to remind myself who not to vote for. I hope for decent weather tomorrow, long enough to mow the lawn and dismantle and stack Sarah's trampoline for the winter. It would be nice if they came for the leaves and the sticks out front before the storm comes through and redistributes them.
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kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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Last week: Sarah's team faced the Strikers, who beat them the last two times. This time the Meteors shut them out completely, which seems to have come as a surprise. The Strikers' goalie — whose iron toe sends the ball 3/4 of the way down the field — went through the high-five line slugging everybody on the hand.

Wednesday: Took Sarah's to Paola's, my favorite Mexican restaurant in town. There's a sign on the door thanking their patrons. Nuts. No more inside food; they're going to operate out of pushcarts at the park. Their food was delicious, not smothered in creamy sauce, and faster than McDonald's.

Yesterday: After a serious argument, a neighbor kid went home in tears. He was back soon after to pick up something he forgot, and Sarah (unprompted by me) gave a sincere and on-target apology that puts those of most grownups to shame.
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kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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"Sarah, why are these grapes in a bowl of water?"
"I was bobbing for them."
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kip_w: (Default)
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"This would make a good LJ post..." "I should catch up on LJ..." and like that. Sadly, the most interesting times in life are also the busiest. Some things I thought I should post about and didn't:

• Father's Day. Scrambled eggs and bacon (and a poem) from Sarah. Piano/vocal score to "Book of Mormon" and (when I find it) a new backpack!

• I went to a party for some parent volunteers (where I was the only male human) and had a swell time. As a result of it, somebody is coming over to look at our second piano, which is for sale now. Here's hoping!

• Trip to Michigan was a success; niece is married, and I got to see many relatives. Flickr photoset (40)

Gainsborough
Niece (married)

• My sister drove back to Colorado with Dad and a niece, arriving in time to be evacuated from their house because of the fire. They're in a hotel in town for now. They were allowed back in, and they replaced $250 of groceries before being told a couple of hours later that they would have to evacuate again. Lots of smoke in Fort Collins. The web cams showed it more clearly the other day. (Links to other Fort Collins cams are at left.)

• Sarah's about out of school for the year. Tomorrow's the last day of fourth grade. She's going into Band next year, playing a clarinet. They'll teach her how to play the clarinet. Sounds like she might get lessons too.

• I'm gradually getting back into the exercise routine, having achieved 3 YMCA visits a week, and doing a half hour of stretches in the morning whilst listening to Gunsmoke radio shows, which are a half hour long and entertaining.

• Sarah and I ventured out to the bridge over the creek on Knickerbocker the other evening to see fireflies. No fireflies were seen lighting up, however. As reports from Sarah and from Mark across the street both indicate fireflies have been present, more venturing will take place. Fireflies must be seen.

• Finally have a little bit of work to get busy on, so I'd probably better.
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kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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Sarah requested and got her introduction to the use of the lawn mower. She watched me check the oil, explaining as I went, and then I put in gas. I told her she can do that soon. She wheeled the mower into the back yard, where I determined that the part between the back deck and the hill was back to being very muddy after having dried out to where it was only somewhat muddy. We found a dry portion to work on.

She now knows that starting the mower is not an easy thing to do. She cut practice swathes through the once and future spot for the trampoline (I'm going to try and alternate places for it, as it seems to have an unfortunate effect on the place it sits). Then we were called in to dinner.

She's been keen on the lawn mower for a while. I think she even pushed our old one a time or two, back in Virginia, and again here. I'll be happy if she continues to have some interest in the lawn mowing chore.

I may update the 'Sarah' userpic some time. That one's from Massachusetts, and she's like twice that old now.
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assembled

May. 5th, 2012 02:24 pm
kip_w: (Default)
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There was some organized excursion to go see the Avengers movie yesterday, and I decided to go along with Sarah. I bought my ticket online (they already had purchased hers) and at the theater I found that everybody else was booked into the 3D showing. James's mother said I should just go in with them and gave me a pair of glasses to wear. I didn't want to be separated from everybody in a show that ended fifteen minutes later, so I went.

They must have been children's glasses, as they were at least an inch narrower than my skull. I carefully pulled the temples out and balanced the rest inside my glasses, like my sunglasses inserts. I needed to adjust every couple of minutes for the rest of the movie, which knocked me out of the show more than the illusion of depth pulled me into it. Perhaps some sort of head vise would have kept me properly oriented instead of allowing me to move microscopically in ways that made multiple images appear.

I tried turning the glasses the other way to see how things looked in negative 3D. It's a strange effect that I've had before with stereo slides that were pasted up the wrong way, and even more strangely by looking at a hologram from the back. In this case, it resulted in double images that would not resolve. (Beamjockey, if you're reading this, why double images??)

Anyway, the movie exceeded any and all expectations, even my expectation that it was going to be good and that I would enjoy it. I seem to have missed all the prequels except Iron Man and maybe the version of The Hulk that they consider canonical this week. The action sequences are exciting, fun, and totally implausible. The characters are all worth watching even when they're not supering around. I rather liked Agent Coulson, who is sort of like a fan who made it. The Black Widow is actually more impressive when she's not fighting than when she is. Her interrogation of Loki is one of many moments when I couldn't help smiling.

The level of wisecracking is very good, and not excessive. Whedon has enough confidence in his audience to set things up that don't pay off for a long time. There are tons of great lines, such as [transmission suddenly cuts out]
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[transmission suddenly resumes]
"Smash." Sarah was still quoting it when we got home. There's also a wonderful response to Loki's I'm-a-god-and-you're-just-riffraff moment. I was a little distracted waiting for Stan Lee to show up and get it over with. It's something like 4/5 of the way through the climactic battle. He'll be on a TV screen of reaction shots.

It's over two hours, though I didn't look at my watch until I was in the lobby. I got up and stood in the wheelchair gap in the back non-balcony row to see if the 3D was better away from the periphery of the theater. "He was with them," somebody said, and a moment later a man sitting by the gap asked me if I was with the row of kids that had just left. I said yes, and he said that after they were gone, he found a $20 on the floor right there (He indicated a spot. Oddly, when I think of the moment, I 'see' the bill just where he said.) and said it was in front of a seat right by Sarah's (he had seen me bring her her popcorn). I thanked him a half dozen times, and we chatted briefly, on the surprise appearance of a familiar-looking portion of a face at the end (my first thought was of this one character from the DC universe), and on the movie as a whole. I said it reminded me of why I used to read comic books in the first place, and it really was. It was all there — the repartee, the sets (their S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier is more believable than Steranko's), and the hitting each other. I thanked him a couple more times.

Then I left the text credits rolling and went out for fear everybody would have vanished if I waited any longer. I saw a manager and accosted him, telling him my tale of being led into a life of crime by my daughter's friend's mother, and offered to settle the difference, and he said everything was fine and he hoped I'd enjoyed the movie. Then I talked to Sarah, who said that Jacob had dropped a big bill during the show, and she had stopped looking for it after she bumped her head on the seat.

Then we went home, and Sarah told Cathy the best lines before I could.
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kip_w: (Default)
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Ten years old as of this month, and she wishes all to know that she does not smile for the camera.

Sarah, 12 Feb '12

At other times, she will smile as the occasion requires. She'll even laugh, provided she's watching a TV show with clip art laughter.
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Edited to de-awkward phrasingly.
kip_w: (Default)
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Sarah has been screaming more than usual lately. She says she is "The Scream" now — the one by Edvard Munch. Seems a pity Munch never did one about a whisper.
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reve vue

Nov. 4th, 2011 10:21 am
kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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Last night I dreamed that I was watching TV with Sarah in the room, and the cartoon I had on said that word that starts off like "sugar" but ends differently. And one second later, Sarah was saying it over and over.

Big deal, eh? Only for some reason, I kept remembering it. I don't know if I woke up over and over, and each time said "I need to remember this," or if I just dreamed I did, but my half-awake self thought it would be real socko for an LJ post. I held onto it through three subsequent dreams.

So here it is. I don't want to let my unconscious self down. That weirdo's capable of anything.
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kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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This year, Sarah designed the pumpkin and (with my supervision) did most of the carving and seed removal. Here we are after the triumphant conclusion.
pumpkin
She also got four strikes in two games when we went bowling.
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dandelions

Sep. 22nd, 2011 04:20 pm
kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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When Sarah sees a dandelion in our yard, she picks it. Then she holds it in her hands so that the flower sticks out toward me. "Momma had a baby," she chants, with her thumbs behind the blossom, "but the head POPPED OFF!" And on those words, she does her best to pop the flower off the stalk and at my face.

She says she learned this from Zach and Max.
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kip_w: (Default)
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We were in China for about two and a half weeks. You might have noticed I wasn't around! Since getting back, I wasn't around because of some major jobs I had to finish. One is now done and the other was done enough that I have taken a day off to just gibber a lot and get my photos organized.

I finished organizing a photoset taken from the almost 5,000 snaps on the trip — which include duplicates of the majority of shots, because I can't go back for retakes. I would take two or three (sometimes four) of a subject, shifting a little to the right in between, so that I'd get at least one decent shot out of it, and if I got two, I'd have a stereo pair. I also took a lot of pictures from moving buses, and if I find the time to get rid of all the ones like that that didn't come out, my hard drive will sigh happily and stand a little straighter.

Anyway, the first photoset was about 350 pictures. Nobody will look at that. So I went through and pulled the cream from that set and made a subset of 120 pictures. One in a hundred will look at that, and I don't feel like cutting down another one, so there we are. For the other 99, here's a sampling:

0862 Photo op
Here we are, climbing the Great Wall in 97° heat. The guard stations are cooler inside, especially if there's a breeze, but my party never wanted to stop inside, except when they met the donkey and wanted to pet it.

more behind el jumpo )

More at China, July 2011 and not quite so much more at China 2011 in Brief!
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last game

Jun. 29th, 2011 02:10 pm
kip_w: (Default)
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Last Saturday was the last game for Sarah's soccer team, the Pink Lightning. Next season, a new team, a new name. Sarah hopes fervently that it won't be pink. She hates pink these days. She wore a different shirt under her pink one, but she said it was because she didn't like how the pink one feels.

When we got to the field, there were eight players for the Lightning, and only five of the Blue Sharks (the only team who has beat us this season) had appeared. While I was doing something, Sarah was talking to the coaches, and when I looked up, she had shucked the pink and a blue shirt was revealed — not identical to the team shirt of the Sharks, but close enough. She played for them so they'd have enough members to field a team, and scored a goal on her teammates.

At the end, it was 2-2; a fine ending for the season! And without Sarah's initiative, there could not have been a game. Since Cathy was in New Orleans, I took her place as assistant coach, which mostly meant I was allowed to be on the field (and Cathy wasn't there to shoo me off of it).

I decided that I like seeing the game from the field. I'm not sure if there's anything I can do about it, though.
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paperwork

Jun. 9th, 2011 11:08 pm
kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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From November 4, 2002, a dispassionate look at our future daughter shows some of the things we didn't get to see ourselves. Following her birth name, date of birth, date of intake (to the Feixi Institute at two days of age), weight (6.6 kg), height (66.9 cm), sitting height (38 cm), number of teeth (4), and other metrics, we skip over her routine schedule — except to note with approval that she is fed many times each day and goes to the bathroom — and her diet, which is probably formula, but I can't read anything but the amounts.

SLEEP:
"Moderate sleep" is checked, and no note is made of the fact that she sucks her thumb (and a corner of a sleeve or blanket) at night.

PHYSICAL MOTOR SKILLS: Items that are checked off:
Standing for a moment being supported in the armpits.
Gazing at rattling rattle-drum.
Sitting up with his/her wrists being slightly pulled.
Seizing toys nearby.
Turning over by him/herself when laying face up.
Sitting without help
Walking being led by his/her hand.
Crawling.

Not checked: Tearing paper; Taking a toy building block in one hand, then taking another one by using the other hand; Standing with his two hands holding on to something; Holding a pill with his/her thumb and index finger; Using thumbs and index fingers freely; Standing for a moment by him/herself; Holding a pen with full hand and scribbling.

ADAPTABILITY TO THE ENVIRONMENT:
Finding out the source of a sound.
Reaching toy afar.
Ringing a bell consciously.

Not checked: Holding a piece of building block in hand while gazing at another piece; Looking for the dropped toys; Changing building block from one hand to another hand; Taking building blocks out of a cup; Using two pieces of building blocks to knock at each other; Putting building blocks into a cup; Putting cap on a bottle.

SPEECH AND SOCIALITY:
Recognizing an acquaintance
Turning head being called
Responding to the facial expression of adults

Not checked: Shouting in a loud voice; Making voice at someone or something; Showing excitement at food; Feeding him/herself biscuits; Imitating sound or voice; Imitating speaking; Showing a sign of refusal; Responding to other's asking for his/her belongings; Being cooperative when being put on clothes; Pointing at eyes, ears, nose, mouth and hands with his/her finger if so asked (two of them will do); Taking off socks.

By the time we got her, she was interested in food. She ate biscuits. Whenever we took her out, she would get the socks off of her feet, so that the Chinese grandmas would come over and put them back on and adjust her blankets and look at us as if we were not good parents.

PERSONALITIES:
Timid
Quiet
Fond of listening to music
Fond of playing with toys
Fond of singing
Talkative
Having a ready smile
Getting along with others well
Fond of quietness
Quick in reaction
Fairly introverted
Obstinate sometimes
Most close to caretaker

(I am unable to read the written answers to "Most favorite activity" and "Most favorite toy." I may take this over and ask Ning about it.)

Not checked: Shy; Active; Restless; Fond of imitating; Fond of reading picture books; Fond of playing games; Energetic; Fairly extroverted; Impatient sometimes; Most close to another baby with whom he/she shares a crib, or others.

So there it is. A loose portrait of our kid, four months before we finally met her. Interesting to me, anyway.
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comparison

Mar. 23rd, 2011 02:18 pm
kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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Here's Sarah in, more or less, the present day. Give or take a month and ten days.

We Are All Andy
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kip_w: (Default)
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P3240141 meet sw



On March 24, 2003, in China's Anhui Province, Cathy and I stood in a conference room at the Hefei Holiday Inn. Late in the morning, somebody handed us a thirteen-month-old girl named Xi Huan, who we renamed Sarah.

In honor of the occasion, here are some reprints from my Live Journal from 2006.


@ 2006-02-07 18:04:00
questions
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I waited at the door with the camera tonight, to get a picture of the last time my three-year-old daughter came in after school. Tomorrow she'll be a big four year old. I took a couple of shots. Sarah demanded a tuna sandwich. I managed to get a word in, to tell Cathy I'd finally heard back from the insurance people, and we weren't covered for vandalism. "Angie's grandpa died," announced Sarah.

I expressed sympathy. She asked why he died. "Probably because he was old," I said carefully. We proceeded into the den.

She asked me what other reasons people die. "Well," I ventured, "sometimes if they're in a really bad accident, or if they get really, really sick." I didn't want her to think you die from just any sickness. "I hope you don't die," she said. "Give me a tuna fish sandwich!"

more incontinent nostalgia on the other side )



ps: There's a certain amount of morbidity in the selections. It reflects that particular time in our life when she was figuring that stuff out. This can also be found at The New Pals Club Web-Log.

some days

Feb. 19th, 2011 12:52 pm
kip_w: (Default)
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Thursday.

Brought Sarah in early for principal's photo op with some kids. Exercised at the Y, then went in to finish up the animation (having spent eight hours or so already, I hoped four more would finish it). Due to some event, the only parking space was next to a bozo who was about a foot over the line. I had to pull up onto the snow and ice by the curb to leave some room. I had a bad feeling about it, so I took photos. Four and a half hours later, I found new dings on my car, on the side the bozo was on. Bozo had moved the clown car, reparking it to be only three inches over the line. Very clever. I took new photos and hurried home to be there for Sarah. Animation finished: 45 seconds total.

Friday.

It had unsnowed in the night. A lot. There was green stuff all over the yard. Temperatures of around 50, combined with morning drizzle and persistent gusts of wind from the west were taking snow off like a giant hair dryer. I heard my trash barrel come rolling up the driveway. Our neighbor across the street was collecting barrels and taking them to their owners. I thanked her, then went a few doors down and got the recycling container as well.

Spoke to nice campus officers. Brought photos on a CD. The officer had to leave suddenly to help someone having anaphylactic shock, so I made my way back to the office and filled out the form. Took a walk just as temperature started to cool down, staying in what sun remained as much as I could.

Saturday.

Unsnow went away. Everything's white again, including the air, where 50 mph gusts keep snow moving around. We made two-car cavalcade through slippery streets to take the Element in for service. I missed a turnoff, but when I got to the dealer, no Cathy. They told me she'd called, and the Element was in a ditch. I talked to her. She was okay, as was the car. She was waiting for a tow truck. Sarah and I headed home.

Called campus police again in response to a phone message, and while I had him there, ascertained that the victim from yesterday's anaphylactic incident was okay. Played some levels of Mario on Sarah's DS. Worked on postcard for library. Will soon get back to worklike activities. And DS.
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kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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Sarah had her birthday last Tuesday, and her party on Sunday, so she is definitely nine. We arranged a party at the Y, where she and her friends frolicked in the Adventure Center for a while, then adjourned
to the pool where I became the de facto chaperone for the boys, who found so much amusement turning the shower temperatures up and down for one another that I had to nag them to finish up, and they were
lucky I did, as there were 1.2 pieces of pizza per person left by that time.

She received some new Bey Blades (tops you can launch and pit against one another in an arena), and was spinning them on the floor upstairs, so I set up a saucer sled. She asked why, and before I could tell her, she'd figured out that the sled could act as an arena, so she tried it out.

Lately, her nearby friends seem to be tied up after school, so she's all for us going to the Y, where I can exercise and she can run around with whoever's there for a while. This seems like a good idea all around, and I'm glad she suggests it. Then when we're leaving, she asks if she can have some decaf, which she likes to muffle in enough half & half and sugar that it's about like a liquid candy bar.

This morning she was in the driveway finding loose sheetlets of ice so she could put them under her feet and slide around. I'm glad we live in a world that provides her with so much entertainment.
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kip_w: (Default)
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I'm snowed under. Class is keeping me pretty darn busy, even given that I've dropped several of my normal activities. The Comics Curmudgeon has been getting along without Muffaroo. Live Journal has had to do without my incisive comments and pithy posts. I missed three days of exercise at the Y: that's how serious it's been, and it's not over.

I did want to stop by and post an update, though. The things I still remember include Halloween. Sarah and I plotted the pumpkin carving beforehand. I took a photo and we went into Photoshop and tried out different designs. We went out trick-or-treating, and it snowed on us. Pretty much the only snow we've had this season, and it mixed with the sleet and came down on us when we were out. As a result, I guess, we got more stuff, because fewer hardy souls were out, and hosts often proffered multiple goodies to those of us who showed up.

Another thing I wanted to mention is that Sarah got interested in the colored duck tape we got for various past crafts. She decided to make bracelets with it, and took her bracelets to school, and now she's making more of them for other kids. Cathy took her to Michael's Art & Craft, and they got some fancy tape — leopard print and tie-dye print. That's my girl!

There's other stuff, but I can't remember it now. Must get back to homework. And next week: Toronto!
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kip_w: (hands)
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IMG_2568

The Keith Haring project went well. That was our first Art Ambassador unit of the year (two to go), and after much careful planning (followed by getting the careful plan rejected and making another one; repeat), we had a procedure. I'd show a video to each grade at lunchtime — we were going to show five or ten minutes of video, but I found that two and a half was a perfect length for the kids — then tell them when they go out for recess to stop over at the outside gym wall (not the wall ball wall, though) and add to the drawing I'd started earlier that morning. They drew and drew. It was great.

I was at Sarah's school from before 9:30 until after 1:30. After that, I had to take her to the dentist for a thrilling root canal. (Literally: "thrill" comes from the same root (ow) as "drill.") I was going to go back the next day for a repeat of the playground part, but the rain saved me, and I did homework instead. Anyway, here's a flickr set of the whole thing, with 42 photos and a short movie. My longer movies exceeded the 90-second limit of the service, but I was able to include a walk-past of one wall, anyway.
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