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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Playing House

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I remember playing house a lot when I was little. Not so much with my friends, but when I played alone.

We had this little miniature cardboard kitchen with a red sink and a window that looked out onto a backyard with a tree. I would prepare brightly-colored plastic meals for my Cabbage Patch kids and would talk to them as if we were a family. I folded and refolded their clothes  — infant onesies leftover from when my sister and I were tiny — and mimicked chores my mom did around the house.

I never imagined what this house actually looked like. Everything revolved around the kitchen though. The doll bunk beds were in the kitchen. We drove to the store in the kitchen. The kitchen was basically the only room in that world of pretend.

Maybe my earliest imaginings about a home are why Mr. Pirate and I do not have a deadline for fixing up the Jade House. Perhaps, I am still not yet sure what this house looks like either.

That’s why I drool a little bit when I read articles in the newspaper like this one about a family who built their dream home with repurposed materials. Their home seems so funky and thought out. They knew what they wanted and they made it happen with hard work and dedication.

Here at the Jade House, we have moments of inspired progress. This winter we worked on the baby’s room in large part because with three weeks left, the baby’s room just needed to happen. The walls are still a little bare, but all the furniture is in place. Or at least, in place until we figure out how this space is going to be used and we end up rearranging to make it better.

There are even fewer rules with your own house than there are with the pretend house of my childhood games. I feel embarrassed at times by the clutter and overall state of work-in-progress-affairs. And then my cousin just randomly stops by and we stand around in the kitchen and talk about books and life in general and it’s all good.

There’s no stress about making our home neat and tidy in that moment. Just laughter and an overall moment of peace.

When you get right down to it, I think that’s the home that I want the Jade House to be. That’s the house I want this little person to grow up in.




Living Women’s History

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We never made a big deal out of Women’s History Month in grade school.

Black History Month was a chance to learn about men like George Washington Carver and the Tuskegee Airmen and women like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth.  And for the longest time that was it. Then in Georgia I interviewed the co-owners of the funeral home that assisted in the preparations for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral as part of our paper’s month-long series on notable black people in our local community. And that made me reassess the way we Americans celebrate our history.

Basically, I think, we ignore it. That is, until it’s convenient to remember because of a mandated month celebrating where we’ve come from.

We overlook your Average Joes — people like H.E. and Evelyn Shelton of Hanley-Shelton funeral home — who left their own little mark on history. We neglect to remember that no matter how insignificant, everyone has a story. Even people whose distinction is that they were the only civilian to die at the Battle of Gettysburg.

So today’s post is a little tribute to all the things that other women have done to let me be who I am. This is my own celebration of Women’s History.

I am, however, also forever grateful to three dynamic, everyday women:

  • My mom, who hasn’t yet given up on me. She instilled in me one-third of my work ethic (Dad’s responsible for one of the other thirds, but that’s another post) and taught me that you can go off on completely random adventures with no more preparation than, “Hey! That looks like fun. Let’s go ride go-karts in our wedding clothes.” She’s also the one who had to personally deal with my rear-first entry into the world which has forever become one of my very best stories for why being stubborn isn’t a bad thing. It’s just part of who I am.
  • My big sister. I fly my nerd flag high and proud because of her. She exposed me to sci-fi and fantasy. To video games and to fencing. My alma mater is her alma mater because by the time she graduated from college, there was nowhere else I wanted to go. She is unbelievably awesome and my idea of a true Wonder Woman.
  • Mlle. Holt, English and French teacher extraordinaire … wherever she is. Her wit and defiance to curriculum conventions provided me with the role model I needed in high school. There was no fence-sitting in Ms. Holt’s class. She encouraged us to have opinions and to defend them. Even if it was only that Romeo was a milquetoast and not actually a character worth dying for. She also always had time for her students which counted for more than she may have ever imagined. Should I ever teach, I want to be my own version of her.

That is all.


Editor’s Note and attribution:

soomo publishing also does a really great video on the Declaration of Independence. They’re working on rethinking how materials are presented to students by integrating technology with learning. I think they’re seriously on to something.