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Tuckered, But Smiling

April 23, 2008 at 2:06pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Whew, I’m tired. Last night marked my 27th match of the high school soccer season, which began back on March 13. I have three more matches this week, bringing my regular season total up to an even 30, followed by six district matches next week. Thirty-six high school games is a lot to squeeze into seven weeks, especially when you consider that number doesn’t include the college spring games, indoor games, and Latino league games I did during that same stretch. I don’t know what sort of assignments I’ll get at the state tournament—or if I’ll get any at all—but by the end of the high school season it’s likely I will surpass the 50 game mark in just two months.

On the plus side, my conditioning is as good as it has been in a while. I have lost ten pounds since the start of the season, and I generally feel pretty good running around on the field. I even survived Sunday’s slate of three 90-minute games in pretty good shape. (It helped that I got to top it all off with a trip to Cristina’s in Crete for one of their awesome empanadas smothered in spicy green chile.) There’s a downside, too. My energy level is dropping, and that nagging twinge in my hamstring from the second week of the season isn’t getting any better with all the abuse I’ve heaped on it. But I’ll be fine. I have enough fuel in the tank to get me through districts, and then I’ll have a week off before state.

And I have emotional health on my side. On Friday I teamed up with an awesome company to do software development and support, along with a little website development. That makes two partnerships with very strong, respected companies to go along with the other contract jobs I pick up here and there. As a freelancer, having two stable sources of income is a huge weight off my shoulders. Plus, it means I can focus more on the fun side of contract gigs, rather than having to see each job as “that one covers next week’s groceries, that one will take care of the car insurance…”.

It doesn’t hurt that it’s spring. I can’t wait to have some time to work in the yard and garden, and to just spend time outside doing as little as possible. That sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Monkeys and Llamas and Trains, Oh My!

April 21, 2008 at 1:51pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Missus had to work for a couple hours on Saturday, so I decided that Robbie and I would go to the zoo. What started out as a boys day on the town turned into a family affair; we were joined by my parents and my sister’s family. If you’re planning to go to the zoo, be forewarned that it’s still in rough shape from the winter. They didn’t finish all of their off-season projects. If you like things “neat and tidy”, you may want to wait a month or so. Plus, things will be more green by then. But if your kid is like Robbie, he won’t give a hoot about that.

Robbie had fun donating coins:

Lincoln Children's Zoo

He loved watching the monkeys play:

Lincoln Children's Zoo

Lincoln Children's Zoo

This could have been a great shot of Robbie and his cousin Sam, but I was in such a rush to capture it, I screwed up the framing:

Lincoln Children's Zoo

What are you looking at?

image

Robbie tells grandpa about the camels:

Lincoln Children's Zoo

When will the train start moving?

Lincoln Children's Zoo

The Human Brain is Awesome

April 15, 2008 at 8:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Just a few days ago I asked The Missus, rhetorically, “Can a person form a memory of something he doesn’t have the capability to describe?” In particular, I wondered if one of the reasons we don’t remember much about our childhoods is that we lack the language necessary to describe it to ourselves. If I as a one year-old can’t encode my perceptions of that thing in any coherent way, how can I later recall those perceptions in any useful form?

Today The Missus and Robbie (sort of) conducted an experiment. It was opening day at the zoo, and being such a nice (if windy) day, they just had to go. The Missus and I wondered if Robbie would remember anything at all about the zoo. After all, his last visit was when he was 17-months old, roughly six months ago. He had almost no vocabulary then; I think the only relevant word he knew six months ago was “doggy”, which he used to describe any animal with four legs.

So color me shocked when The Missus told me that not only did Robbie remember the zoo, he called out “Train! Train!” as they pulled into the driveway and before he had seen (or heard) the train. In other words, he remembered an aspect of the zoo that he didn’t have a word for the last time he saw it. He had stored a memory of the train in a way that was useful enough to him that he could give it a name as the memory rushed back. Six months later, despite all of the zillions of additional bits of knowledge and memories he has created in the mean time, Robbie managed to take a fuzzy memory of an object, associate it with the visual image of his current location, and come up with the correct word to describe the object.

I don’t know about you, but that fascinates the crap out of me.

Are Public Schools the Best Schools?

April 15, 2008 at 8:34pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

My father-in-law has built a successful career as a professor with an expertise in early childhood literacy. He has written and edited books, authored dozens of papers, presented at conferences around the world, and so on. The guy knows his stuff. Although I don’t always agree with his conclusions (or the routes he takes to get there), I can’t deny the guy knows America’s education system—especially early childhood and elementary education—as well as anybody. In many ways he has helped shape it.

The Missus and Robbie flew out to visit her parents this past weekend. Apparently “Grandpa Rick” really bonded well with Robbie. At one point while those two were playing, The Missus asked her father a question. “Do you think public schools do a good job educating kids?”

He stopped to choose his words before answering. “I think a good teacher in a good public school provides as good an education as you can find anywhere,” he began. “However, there are a lot of mediocre teachers, and mediocre schools, and mediocre administrators out there. There are a lot of ways for kids to get less of an education than they need and deserve.”

He then added, “If I were a parent deciding where to send my child to school, and if I had the resources, I would consider home schooling or a private school.”

When The Missus told me this upon her return, I couldn’t help but be surprised. My father-in-law has never been the private school type. He has always struck me as a staunch NEA backer, an ardent proponent of strong public schools. I’ve always thought that in his eyes, home schoolers are just wacky right-wing Christians, and private schoolers are either snooty rich folks or ... well, wacky right-wing Christians. But if I’m not mistaken, he almost suggested we go that route with Robbie.

We don’t exactly have the resources right now to keep Robbie out of public school, but who knows where we will stand in a few years when he is ready for kindergarten. Will we send him four blocks down the street to Zemann? I’m pretty sure we will. But when a pro all but says “You might want to think twice about that”, you can’t help but take some time to do just that.

Tuesday is Trash Day!

April 8, 2008 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I don’t know how many other Lincoln households get excited about Tuesdays, but we here at the Wilson house sure get bubbly. Today was no different. Why the excitement? Why, Tuesday is trash day, of course!

I know, that doesn’t sound like cause for jubilation, but I assure you it is. For many weeks now Robbie has taken to stationing himself on the back of the couch, watching out the front window for the arrival of the big white Uribe Refuse truck. And when it arrives ... “BIG TRUCK TAKE TRASH!” Robbie gets so animated you’d think Clifford the Big Red Dog had just strolled through the yard.

For the past two weeks, a younger guy has noticed Robbie in the window. He always takes a second to stop and wave, which really gets Robbie going. “BYE!” he’ll holler while waving like mad. As the mornings get warmer, I’m sure Robbie will want to station himself on the front porch to watch the action. That will really be a thrill.

The joy of trash day lasts throughout the week. Over the past week, each night as I said goodnight Robbie reminded me “big truck take trash”. “Today is Thursday,” I would tell him. “Trash day is on Tuesday.” And Robbie would drift off to sleep, no doubt having fantastic dreams a la “Trash of the Titans”.

Yesterday, Robbie and The Missus went to the Y, as is their routine. Inside the childcare area, Robbie’s friend Ty looked glum. “What’s wrong, Ty?” asked The Missus.

“It’s Monday,” he replied. “I wish it was Tuesday, cuz then my dad would be home”.

Robbie’s ears perked up. “TUESDAY?! BIG TRUCK TAKE TRASH!” As you can see, Robbie often speaks in capital letters.

And so, with yet another trash day gone by, we anxiously await the next one. Come back soon, trash men!

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