First day jitters

It’s been a summer of change for us: some good, some bad. But today marked the official end of summer vacation for the daughter as she headed back to school. 20130910-233750.jpgBut it’s different this year with a new home in another state and a whole new set of expectations to try to live up to. We had a rough start to it and I can only hope that things improve as she learns the ropes.

It’s hard being a mother, perhaps particularly so a single mother, sending your kid into a situation you know will be traumatic. My girl has a tough shell, but like all of us she’s tender and more than anything I want to be close enough to take her hand and tell her it’ll be okay, that I believe in her every minute, every hour of every day.

I know she’s wonderful and funny and smart and pretty. I just want her to know it, too.

Celebrating Solstice

Every year the kids’ school spends the week before Winter Break in a flurry of activities that culminate in what is simply known by the school community as Solstice. Each grade presents a song or a poem or a dance; something to celebrate the lengthening of days and return of the sun. It’s a proud moment for parents at every grade.

This year was even more so… Audrey played in her marimba band to start off the show and I got a front row seat reserved just for the “parent of the Moon.” Stuart had said, three years ago, that when he was a senior and had the chance, he would be the Moon. And this year there seemed to be no question about it. No tryouts. No requests. He was the Moon, the antagonist of the story.

Stuart as the Moon with his minions.
The high schoolers getting ready for the Solstice celebration.
The power animals hanging in the Commons.

Each child and most staff members take part in creating a power animal, from kindergarten through high school. No sketching or scissors allowed. You simply tear your animal out of a folded sheet of construction paper. Inside, everyone writes a goal, hope or dream for the coming year then staples their animal onto the string. The scraps, left from creating the animal are used to write down the bad thoughts, habits and experiences you want to get rid of. Class by class these scraps are compiled into paper bags and on the day of the Solstice celebration, they are burned on the bonfire. A final farewell.

Mine was an octopus, but it never got on a string–the joy of being part of Special Ed and not a classroom. Instead it’s tacked to the wall by my desk. Inside I wrote: Don’t be afraid to accept new opportunities.

It's like a big hippie-fest with all the drumming and dancing.

Free Time

It’s all the kids have these days–hours and hours to do as they please. Of course, this often resorts to playing video games, but not always. On Saturday evening, Audrey and I went swimming with some students (past and present) while Stuart rested. He’s had a cold for the past few days. I managed to press through the embarrassment of a bathing suit, just for my daughter’s sake, and enjoyed swimming in the cool evening for a couple of hours.

The past two days have been only in the low 80s, much cooler than the past week. It began heating (and humidifying) again last night, so I’m expecting another hot one today.


For a project that Audrey is working on, we needed plain, unlined paper. There are a few shops at the market that sell school supplies, so we decided to check there first (rather than take the taxi to the supermarket). Sure enough, four stalls in a woman had an open pack of A4 paper. “Bao nhieu?” Out came a string of words and I caught the 10,000VND part, but something came after it. Six.. something, it sounded like. She repeated it and I though perhaps it’s 10,000VND for six pieces of paper, though it sounded like a ridiculously low number. Then along comes a Hong Duc student to help me out. Yep, 10,000VND, but for 60 pieces, not six. So I handed her the money and we waited patiently for her to count out exactly 60 pieces of unlined paper and wrap them in plastic for us.


Anyone know how to use fresh turmeric? I couldn’t seem to get the shopkeeper to understand that I wanted dried turmeric and she threw the fresh root into my bag. I haven’t a clue how to use it and have had little luck hunting online.

Really, I must buy some more spices when I get paid and head back to Hanoi.