Thursday, April 30, 2009

digital stanley

It seems to be tradition that in the second grade you read Flat Stanley and do a project. (If you aren't familiar with the book, Stanley wakes up one morning, flattened by his large bulletin board, which has fallen on top of him. While there are some problems, he discovers some perks too, such as getting to be mailed to his friend's home across the country.) The kids make a paper copy of Flat Stanley and mail him to someone they know. That person is supposed to gather information about their town, take photos of Stanley at famous places in town, and educate the second grade class about where Stanley visited.

Pook came home with his project in April and I glanced through my address book for potential victims agreeable friends or family members. Oooh! CD's sister and family are living in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates! And, she's a teacher with young enough kids to get into a project like this! Extra postage notwithstanding, it was perfect. Off he went.

I decided that the story about Stanley could be updated. (Pook is uninterested in writing this, so I guess it's up to me.) How about, instead of a bulletin board falling on him, a flat screen monitor squashed him? Then, instead of becoming flat, he could become digitized! I suggested to CD's sister that she simply email photos of Stanley back to us instead of mailing it all snail mail. It would save time and money.

Stanley's photos arrived last week and I promptly sent them all in to be printed. She'd put captions with each and Winkflash actually prints them on the back, simplifying the process. We printed out her email as a narrative and he presented his project to the class yesterday. He sounded proud of his project, and as enthusiastic as Pook ever gets about school presentations. (Standing before a crowd not being his forte.)

To summarize J, L and S's work for Pook:

The distance between Abu Dhabi, UAE and Atlanta, Georgia, USA is 7591 miles.

Tourist Stanley went first to the Corniche, a stretch of beach, gardens, and walkways running along the edge of Abu Dhabi island. He was wearing sunglasses, a t-shirt that says "Abu Dhabi", jeans and tennis shoes for his tour. It was hot, about 93 degrees, but breezy and not humid.

After leaving the Corniche, we went to see the Emirates Palace-- a very elegant and expensive hotel.

After lunch, Stanley wanted to play at the beach and changed into swim trunks and an Abu Dhabi cap. Abu Dhabi has lovely beaches, with clear calm water. Some of the beaches are on the Corniche, and those cost a little money to go to, but they also have nice bathrooms! The beach we went to with Stanley doesn't cost anything, but it also doesn't have any bathrooms! On a hot day, it's nice to cool off in the water and play in the sand. We didn't stay too long, though. We forgot the sunscreen!

Stanley decided he wanted to dress in the traditional Arab clothes, called a dishdash and a head scarf. Once he was looking like an Emirati, he wanted to do more traditional things. So we went to the desert to play in the sand dunes. There are still people who travel in the desert using camels, so Stanley got his picture taken next to one that was full of rugs, chests, and packages. He had to be careful because camels will spit if they are mad!

Thank you Aunt J, L and S! We know Stanley had a great time! We'll work on digitizing ourselves next!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

time on my hands

Today is the only day with Nothing written in that little white box in the calendar marked April 28, 2009. I could have written that Bug has a playdate after school, but since that technically adds to my day instead of making it busier, I left it off. Does anyone else find themselves marking time by the expiration dates on the milks at the grocery? I bought some today marked May 12, which has set off alarms in me concerning Pook's May 10th birthday. May is just around the corner and that means Busy. I keep answering Yes to all the end-of-year needs. I'll regret it, but right now they all seem feasible. I know, in the back of my mind, that with Bug's school letting out earlier this year (May 12!!) I'm going to go crazy as it all finishes up.

I'm posting some photos here of my downstairs half bathroom. This is what happens when I actually do have free time. It isn't often. I started the mural the first day that Pook attended his Parents Morning Out program in the fall of 2002. And I just got back to it.

The parrot had been "perched" on the glass shelf that is now above the toilet and by the palm tree. Ever since the shelf was moved, he has levitated. For about six years. The boys have recently colored additional parrots for the walls, the one visible by the palm tree is one of Pook's.

The fish were under the sink happily swimming until some drywall was repaired by the toilet, disturbing their ocean a bit. The white has never been repainted because, well, drywall is white so it hardly shows. Their swimming area is smaller now, but they haven't complained. I like that in about fish, even the live ones.

This winter a day arose, somewhat like today, with Nothing on the calendar. Except, unlike today it was cold. Today has been mostly about gardening. Different post. On that particular day, I got it in my head that the parrot needed a perch. That day. And this is what came of that free time.

Now I have a tree for my parrot to sit upon. And a vine because the tree needed a vine. But now the vine needs leaves. And flowers. And if it has flowers they should be trumpet flowers so then I can add a hummingbird.

I will finish before they graduate from high school. You heard it here.

Monday, April 27, 2009


We didn't have a creek at the State Park we visited this weekend. We had a lake with a beach. Since the weather was in the upper eighties, the kids were drawn to the water like, well, kids to water. Two of the twelve families had packed swim suits for their children. A couple small children dove in, fully dressed, without parental consultation. I watched my two, sitting at the water's edge, building castles and being so good, but missing out on so much. "Oh, just jump in!" They looked at me with wide eyes and they followed directions! The other parents too slowly relented and more and more children in clothing began to splash and play.

Now, mind you I said that the temperature was in the upper eighties. The air temperature. The water temperature, at least as measured by my naked ankles, was probably in the fifties. Bug's solution to the cold water was to splash in to his midsection or chest, then come storming out of the lake, flop onto the hot sand and roll. Or, he'd make a charming sand angel and then stand up, yell "Destroy!" and plow into it. Repeat for four hours.

Sunscreen? I had a dab. I put it on the kid's faces and the tops of my knees (first day in shorts). Pook chose to play and build his sand castles while still in his shirt; Bug removed his after it got heavy and wet. At some point we realized he needed his back protected, but the damage was done. We're all a bit sunburned. Both boys are being very whiny about it, having been protected from birth by a very caring and careful mother who really usually remembers these things so they don't yet know the feeling of Real Sunburn and who got burned herself anyway and is just as uncomfortable.

We had all hiked to the beach area/playground area/picnic area from the cabins. While it wasn't too far, it was straight downhill, or rather, straight uphill to go back. Wet, sandy, tired children. CD and a few other dads decided to hike it alone (read: in peace) and get cars and changes of clothing. I had spent the day preparing myself for the reaction they'd have when they discovered how the wet, sandy clothes chafed while hiking, so I was especially grateful.

Friday, April 24, 2009

it's all about the knees

Pook: I'm not sure how my glasses will look with shorts.
Me: Then don't wear them on your knees.

Bug: I only have pants with holes in the knees.
Me: Then wear shorts.
Bug: Then I'll get holes in my knees!

We, like most of the nation, just got Summer. Today. We've been faking it for a while, wearing sandals and a fleece on the same day, packing up the warm coats and then unpacking them. We had two or three warm days in January and it was enough that I started going through the boxes of hand-me-downs to see who could wear what. Pook has five drawers in his dresser, so I added the shorts and removed half the sweaters/sweatshirts. Bug has four drawers so his got crowded as I added them. Then came the questions every morning, "Shorts or pants? Long sleeves or short sleeves?" I'd check the forecast and we'd settle, most mornings, on pants with short sleeves plus a sweatshirt or light jacket in the morning.

I was eager for Bug to wear shorts because he, truly, has no pants without holes. Even Easter Sunday he was a bit more holy than he should have been. (I never get chances to use puns, or if I do I never think of them in time, so just chuckle and let me get by with it please! And, when you type a pun, do you type the original word or the pun? I'm ruining it. I know.) Pook has grown two sizes this school year, not giving him much time to wear his clothes out. (And, no, they'll never fit Bug because Pook is much skinnier.) Bug also has more shorts than there are days of summer. I let him choose a pile from the boxes of hand-me-downs and I'll give the rest away.

We're going cabin camping at Fort Mountain State Park this weekend. There will be creek splashing. I know because there is always creek splashing when there are boys and creeks. We once spent a whole vacation just throwing rocks into creeks when Pook was two and I was pregnant with Bug. The kids will be muddy and wet, so I've tried to pack for that reality. There are many choices of water shoes for Bug to pick among, but none that truly fit Pook. (Again, that growing thing.) We'll put the weather to the test and enjoy the weekend, wet, muddy and hopefully without any new holes in the knees.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Bug has strep. I liked him a lot more when he was just miserable and sick, yesterday. I snuggled him, read to him, played with him, kissed his hot head. Today, now that I know how contagious he is, I'm avoiding him. I'm not eager to sit too close. I'm not really wanting to breathe his breath. I watched him lick off the sticky handle of his fork at lunch and made a mental note to wash hands carefully after touching it. I don't want to make him as paranoid as I am, but I keep asking him to wash up or use magic soap when he coughs or blows his nose. I'm watching everything he touches so I can wash it all later- cups, blankets, markers.

Twenty four hours on antibiotics means he can go to school late tomorrow, but still attend. Both Monday and Tuesday he's been out of school anyway for parent conference days at the preschool and both he and I are getting restless being home together. He only has fifteen more days of school (they finish earlier this year-- May 12!) and I need to make the most of that time. I don't want to spend any of them sick either!

Monday, April 20, 2009

how does your garden grow?

It has been a disappointing spring in my yard. There are few silver bells and fewer cockle shells. I had great hopes, but things started too soon and most froze. For the most recent freeze, I draped my azaleas out front with every sheet I could spare.

I expected them to come into bloom that week. I think the reason they had only a few blooms wasn't that they hadn't started, but that they'd already frozen. I didn't think my gardenia had buds either, but this photo of one blackened bud next to one green bud shows otherwise. I'll expect a small display this year. Ditto for my dogwood trees and my climbing yellow rose, Lady Banks. Some years it smothers the arbor with yellow, this week it sparkles with only a few blooms.

One of the nice surprises I've had is the discovery of a native yellow azalea in my front yard. I'd never seen it before, but somehow I have a four foot bush with these lovely blooms. This should be what the new azaleas we bought look like. I protected them from the freeze with pillowcases on their heads! The area where we cleared away ivy looks bad, but I hope to get some ground covers in to replace the evil ivy.

The other nice surprise was the sight of tulip leaves when they finally emerged from their pot. Tulips are annuals here, and I'd hoped this view of pink blooms rising up from dark purple pansies would greet us in early spring. When they didn't show, I was convinced the squirrels had eaten them all. Instead, just later blooming. I will tuck a cherry tomato plant in here when the flowers are done. (Yes, we throw out pansies when it gets warm.) I will post about veggies soon. I'm making progress there too, but it is always slower than I want.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

mending my ways

mending (v) def 1: what Sister MD does for me to keep her hands busy on Christmas day while I read a new book. def 2: what my mother does while visiting when she sees our pathetic pile of clothes needing repairs

CD lost a button on his dress pants. He asked me to sew another button on. I asked him to sew another button on. He seems to have had a bad experience once sewing on a button which just fell off again, so he claims his mending days are over. He suggested we take them somewhere and pay for the button to be sewed back on. The pants sat in a pile with the light blue sweater which has now two buttons held on with safety pins and another completely missing (but I really like the sweater) and other miscellaneous kid clothes which I was hoping they would simply outgrow. Until... the black thread that was tangled around a whole load of clothes in the washer turned out to have been the hem on my new black pants.

I cleared out the table in our mess office which contains sewing stuff. I found a needle and thread. I went back downstairs for my glasses. I found a needle threading gizmo I'd never used before. I mended his pants. I hemmed my pants. I am optimistic that someday I will buy new buttons for the light blue sweater.

The rest of the mending requires a sewing machine. I have one. My resourceful mom made sure that I owned one identical to the one I'd learned on at her home. Except it has been years since I used it regularly (meaning, since I left home). Each time I have to change the dang thread I'm lost. I have a directions book. It has tiny pictures and an assumption that I know what a tension spring is when I look at a bobbin holding doodad. (See? I can toss around words like "bobbin", proving I'm not a complete novice here.) I mess around and find the phone number of the sewing machine store. I phone and some wonderful older woman talks me through my bobbin issue. I get off the phone, ready to go. But the machine jams. I call Mom. She can't help over the phone- apparently her knowledge of a sewing machine is kept in her fingers. I quit.

I have momentum. I have mending. I even have time. I have done this before. I just don't have enough memory in my fingers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

pet peeve

There were no tornadoes, but our neighborhood was torn up Monday morning by high winds. There was a huge tree which had fallen across the street, blocking our usual route home, and taking several wires with it. A former babysitter had a tall tree land across the garage roof of the house. Our worst discomfort was having the cable/internet out all day. Other areas were without power.

It had me thinking about my dependency for the computer. I was restless all day, checking regularly to see if it was back up. Without internet access I can't read the news. I can't correspond with others (easily) and when the power is out I've realized that I can't even search for phone numbers or addresses since we no longer keep a paper phone book around.

It drives me crazy when I go to a store and the computers are down. Sales clerks are incapable of selling anything without them. I can have exact change and I still get the same response. They want to use the system because it keeps inventory. (Or maybe they don't know how to add tax or make change and are afraid of messing up?)

Fortunately, schools are not so quick to give up old ways. Yes, they have all sorts of high tech educational tools that are useless without electricity. They've got some great screen on the wall that allows a teacher to "write" on it and show interactive materials to the class. The library scans books in and out. No physical card catalog to find your books- if the power is out you'll never find anything without a visual search up and down the shelves. But, schools haven't forgotten how to do things the old way. Our media specialist will accommodate a child and write his or her name down with a pencil to deal with later when the power turns back on.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

holiday weekend

We had a fun weekend after the kids came home (tired) from camping. I think we'd all felt like we'd had a weekend, so this was sort of a freebie. Our membership to Stone Mountain is about to expire, so I'd wanted to take the kids while they were on spring break. Because of the weather, this meant Saturday. Of course it was after I told them we'd go that I found out I was needed at church to help prepare for Easter, at 2pm. Still, I thought it would work.

We visited a part of the park none of us had visited before, an Antebellum Plantation. The kids were more interested than I expected, and we checked out homes of rich families and of slaves, a schoolhouse (one of the last one room schoolhouses in this area) and a farmyard with sheep, goats and pigs. The weather had not improved to meet the expectations offered by the forecast, but we had a picnic lunch anyway. After it we headed over to the miniature golf, Bug's favorite activity there. We hadn't seen anyone else at the park while we were in the lesser known area, the plantation, but suddenly it was crowded and to play mini golf we were going to have a long wait. Looking at the time, it was too late. The tears subsided in the car.

That evening, we decided somewhat spontaneously, to attend a Passover Seder service. I'd been to one when I was younger, but barely remembered the routine. We were promised it would be child friendly, which it was. While there was an hour long explanation of the story, it was intermingled with songs both traditional and added for the kids ("Don't sit on the Afikomen"!) and opportunities to nibble (Bug and Pook each ate boiled eggs they dipped in salt water). Bug would make a good Jew if the criteria were liking matzoh, parsley, horseradish and Manischewitz wine.) After the service was a nice meal and treats for the kids. They were surprised that most tables were throwing out their boiled eggs. I think they thought this was wasteful, and that at the very least, they should be donated to the Easter Bunny.

That same Easter Bunny had left baskets of goodies for the kids (and adults!) Sunday morning. They ate some candy before church, but there is never time for an egg hunt so we tried to distract them from the idea before leaving. Our church has a flower service on Easter where we all bring flowers to add to a huge center display and then all choose a different flower on our way out of the service. (This is what I'd helped prepare.) By the time we got home they'd forgotten and were distracted by some tiny Lego kits from their Easter baskets long enough for The Bunny to pay our backyard a visit. During lunch they noticed the plastic eggs outdoors and were much more patient than I expected, calmly waiting til we finished eating to ask to go hunt. Pook had suggested that the adults have baskets this year, and he also suggested that we find all the eggs and then split them evenly. Since The Bunny has taken to leaving coins as well as candy, we helped with the hunting but shared only in the candy portion. Jelly beans have come a long, long way since my childhood. There were also malted milk eggs and a variety of candy from the top shelf stash in the pantry. We sat outdoors playing with the plastic eggs and eating candy until it was almost all gone.

A promised whiffle ball game followed, then some Crazy Eights at the patio table. The weather had cooled by dinner time or we'd have stayed outdoors all day. It was nice to have Easter on the last day of Spring Break, at least since we stayed home. It polished off a week of fun activities- the Georgia Aquarium, camping and Stone Mountain.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Time alone.

I had scheduled lunch with one of my farmer friends (she provides part of my CSA as well as some awesome granola) for Wednesday before the guys decided to leave for their camping a day late. This meant that I actually left the house before they did. I took Pook to pick up his glasses at Costco (and saw some Legal Seafood clam chowder which I had to buy for my dinner) and came back to turn him over to his dad (with exclamations of both "Wow, it isn't fuzzy" and "I don't want to wear them all the time"). Then I gave out kisses and I left.

When I came home, it was eerily quiet. And a mess with all the odds and ends they'd not packed and the toys the boys had played with while CD fit it all into the car. Remembering my mom's advice (my dad took me and Sister MD camping and she'd spent the first day cleaning so she could relax the second day, but it rained so badly my dad came home a day early), I promptly went to work reading outside in the sun. After two chapters I decided to drive to the elementary school to transplant the rose I'd dug up to give them a month ago. It was odd to be at the school right at dismissal time, with no dismissal. The rose will look better there than with it's color (violet) clashing in my yard (the remaining roses are redish pink).

I continued my task of relaxing back at home, and also found myself filing away photos I'd taken from summer to Christmas at the same time. Suddenly I was hungry and it was 6:30. I heated my chowder (One serving size was only one cup of soup. Ha!) and took the remote to the sofa. I watched a repeat of my Seattle based medical show, then popped in my movie, A Good Year with Russell Crowe. Yawning on cue at 10:30, I located a comforter that hadn't been packed (Pook's) and went to bed, fortunately too tired to feel lonely.

I slept until after 8am, and did some yoga before breakfast. The kids hadn't seen the strawberries in the fridge, so I topped some granola with vanilla yogurt and berries and finished the extra behind-the-scenes bits of the dvd.

It was almost 11am before I was ready to head out for shoe shopping. I bought two pairs, neither what I'd have bought if my criteria were style before comfort, but both acceptable and both returnable (REI will take them back w/in two weeks even if worn outside and The Walking Company will take them back within a month if worn indoors). I didn't do any additional shopping since my wallet was cringing at the price of the sandals already. Good shoes are expensive! I'm used to cheap, replaceable shoes in the $30 range.

I took my book, Wuthering Heights, (Heathcliff has just returned, an adult) outdoors for lunch. I'd bought some yummy cheeses and I ate Brie, Jarlsberg and Munster with crackers and grapes while I read. There was a lot of action to observe. Someone or something has disturbed our carrot seedlings, but the few left are showing carroty-looking leaves. I watched as a chipmunk climbed deftly into my squirrel-proof feeder to snack. Mr. Bird Brain saw me outside, but continued his brain bashing unabashedly. A chickadee has a nest in a hand painted birdhouse that the kids painted two years ago. I was going to take it down to repair it before the bottom fell out, but then saw that it was occupied. If she doesn't care, I don't either. Nests abound. We removed one from the new garage door motor box just Sunday. Maybe I'll sprinkle the coneflower, black eyed Susan and alyssum seeds around today too. I hope we've had the last of the cold.

I actually started to get hot outside, so it seemed time to come in and be productive, briefly. The fish tank was happy with my decision. I always think about cleaning it for a week before someone dies and only when they go floating do I get around to it. Today was no exception, and a fish is now fertilizing my thyme plant (and another has been nibbled on and will go soon). I watered with the fish-poop water outdoors and with less smelly water indoors.

I'm meeting L, the other non-camping mom, for dinner tonight at a restaurant neither of us has visited but which has a patio which called to her when she drove past it. It should be nice enough to sit outdoors at least for drinks. Tomorrow morning I'll go to Old Folks Yoga (I'm going to call it that in front of someone sometime and be sorry) and then I expect my guys home.

I've done well with this unproductive time.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

tent camping in the arctic

It is snowing. We noticed it when suddenly the sun came out and drew our attention to the window.

The temps in Georgia are supposed to be incredibly low this week. The boys postponed their trip to avoid the predicted freeze Tuesday but tonight is supposed to be below forty still. I can hear the whining now as they get up and have to climb out of their sleeping bags. Or bag, since I'm betting they climb in with their dad to stay warm.

I haven't helped much with the preparations for this trip. I asked for a grocery list and I bought exactly what they requested (including food for three breakfasts for two mornings...) I will offer up any warm blankets they want (probably all of them). I washed all the dirty laundry they had.

Bug is concerned that I won't get to roast marshmallows with them. I'm concerned that CD will be out of his mind when they return, exhausted from no sleep and coping with tired and cold kids.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

camping and shopping and sleeping (pick two)

It is Spring Break. The boys are going camping for two nights with two friends and the dads. Two nights. That seems interesting enough, but then I realized that also means two days. I'm going out to dinner one night with the mom of the other kids, as she, too, celebrates some independence. But she works days, so won't be free to play with me the rest of the time. I'm not really sure what to do with myself. Two days here in the house with no kids. No carpools to drive. No arguments to break up. No cooking required of me. No laundry.

I'm thinking of painting the kitchen or building a retaining wall around one of my new azaleas. Both of those are things I actually want to do, and both need to be done. But somehow this feels like the wrong time for them. Productivity is the norm of my days. This is an unusual, probably one-time opportunity. I almost have a responsibility to be unproductive.

Instead, I think I'm going to do some shoe shopping. Right now I have only two pairs I can comfortably wear and it just isn't cutting it. I've got a running shoe which I never used to wear except to go to the gym. Now I hang out in them all the time. I also bought an expensive but good pair of black clogs which I've been living in. I tried a cute, expensive, and supposedly supportive shoe which would have bridged the seasons well, but doesn't seem to accommodate both me and the orthotic I'm now wearing regularly. I'm not sure what type of sandal I can wear with the insert either, but there must be something. I'm a barefoot person in the summers, or at least I used to be and wish I was still allowed. On doctor's orders, I am not to walk around barefoot.

So. Shoe shopping. Dinner with a friend. Lunch with a friend. Cuddling on my sofa with a good book and a cup of tea. In preparation, I have ordered a chick-flick to watch, and cracked open Wuthering Heights.

Friday, April 3, 2009

family rules

Here are some of our family's rules (in no particular order):
  1. no whining before breakfast
  2. don't wake Mama (unless there is blood or fire)
  3. be dressed for school before breakfast
  4. tell me about the wet bed in the morning
  5. no lego before breakfast or at bedtime
  6. don't wear navy blue with black
  7. never bother Mama when she's making a quiche
  8. taste everything
  9. don't hit your brother, even if I can't see you
  10. seatbelts before toys

Thursday, April 2, 2009

piano lessons

Bug to his carpool buddy: "I'm going to take piano lessons. I already know how to play though. Mostly I play classical." (12/08)

After much delay, we have started Bug in piano lessons. It'll be a busy spring with t-ball too. I'm usually a strong enforcer of the one-activity-at-a-time rule. However, piano counts as academic, and I'm letting Pook do chess club for that reason (same day and time for the chess and piano which might help.)

He will be her youngest pupil. She was a bit reluctant to start him, so I'm crossing my fingers that his enthusiasm will be contagious. He's so close to being able to read that he'll learn to read music and words simultaneously.

He's been asking to play for ages. Pook, while he enjoys good music, was never interested in piano lessons, but Bug has always wanted to play some type of music. He's really aiming for the tuba, possibly a trombone or trumpet, maybe even a string bass, but he's accepted that piano is the way to start. "When I'm really big, like in fourth grade, I can play another instrument." The county starts kids with musical instruments at school early, which is great. I have a few years yet to soundproof a room.

He got adjusted on the piano bench and was introduced to oreo cookies first. He was asked to find all the cookies and to touch the frosting. (pairs of black keys with the D in between). Then she introduced the C Family: Mother C in the middle with Father C and Brother C and their lower voices, and Sister C and Baby C who have higher voices. He found them, labeled them and played them up and down a few times. Then she introduced the neighbors, the G Family. He met Grandmother G, Grandfather G, Top G who stands on her head and Bottom Line G. (He didn't find out why Bottom Line G has his name yet). She gave him little cards with the family members drawn out so he could place them on our piano at home. And 45 minutes were up!

He was a bit wiggly and had to be asked to pay attention several times, but it wasn't a problem. We'll see if it improves as he gets used to the room and sights, or if he gets comfortable around her and more wiggly. He was told to practice twice a day for now, just finding the families and playing them up and down and mixed up.

Practice. Not good. I got him to the piano once pretty easily, but only for a few minutes. The second time was edging into bribe territory, which bothers me. Either he does this or he doesn't, but I don't want to have something else to fuss at him to do. Getting the kid dressed and out the door involves enough fussing around here. He still brings home "homework" from his school although I quit having him do it after the winter holidays. It isn't required, he knows his letters and numbers (although the writing of them would have been useful) but I was just so tired of the fussing. Next year in kindergarten homework won't be optional anymore. So, Internet. Anyone have suggestions for making required piano practice pleasant?