Wednesday, June 30, 2010

John got home Sunday night, tired but happy. Since then, I've been busily working away, and everyone else has been busy, too, so not much has been happening to report on. John had over 400 pictures(!) from his Russia trip, but he managed to weed them down to somehere in the 200s. Last night he got them posted, but not completely labeled, to Flickr.

Hannah is suddenly eager to work on her school project about Texas because otherwise she has to study Latin. Rather than make her wade through a bunch of stuff online, I bought her a book to use while I was in Texas in March. It's a rather simple book, but the project is for English class, and her classmates haven't gotten so good in English yet that they could follow something too complicated, so I guess it will work out.

-Nee in Germany, not dead yet

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Wisdom of Hannah

Walking to the bus with Hannah on one of the play nights last week, I asked her about her grades. She told me that her Latin teacher thought she could get her grade up if she put in some more work. Then, she said the most amazing thing: "Mom, will you help me?" I told her that was the first time I could recall her asking me for help with school (usually I just boss her around, unasked). Then I mentioned that I had just bought a book for her to help with Latin (I do that a lot--our collection is quite extensive). She moaned and groaned. I pointed out that she *had* asked for my help. "Yes, but I didn't say I wouldn't complain." That was so Hannah, I just burst out laughing.

Play Report

At Hannah's school, extracurricular activities aren't extensions of regular classes like when I was in school in Texas, for instance, classes for band or drama. Instead, they are completely voluntary, after-school clubs. I think (this is Hannah's first year) participation gets marked in the kids' end-of-year report cards, but there is no grade for it. This year, Hannah joined the theater club, to mine and John's surprise, and this week, they put on their play, three times.

Since John has been out of town all week and therefore unable to pull his weight in the areas of attendance at the play and accompanying Hannah home after 8 p.m., I have been to all three shows. I now consider myself somewhat of an expert on Hannah's club's adaptation of Sarah Weeks's novel, So B. It.

The basic premise of the play in the stripped-down version I saw (there's more plot info at the amazon link above) was that a girl living with her mentally retarded mother and an agoraphobic neighbor runs away to travel across the country to try to find out about her mother's past and her own roots. Hannah played the role of the girl's father, who lives in the home where the girl's mother had once lived.

The play opened with a bunch of girls in white dancing around the stage with some white boxes that got left behind. The boxes were the main props in the play, serving as chairs, tables, beds, benches, even a bus. The bus scene was really well done, too. The boxes as bus seats were offset from each other so all of the passengers--an elderly pair of sisters (one of whom complained the whole time), a mother and bratty kid, a lady who talked nonstop about her cats when given the slightest opening, the main character--were visible to the audience. A screen had been placed at the back of the stage, and passing scenery was projected on to it. The only bit that was kind of off was the sound effects for the bus motor--it sounded like a souped-up lawn mower.

All in all, I thought they did a really good job.

After the third performance, the kids had to stick around to dismantle as much of the stage as the could; Hannah's school is in a historical building in the old part of town, meaning there is not a lot of space inside or outside where they could have expanded to add a theather, so they have to cram their performances in the foyer of the school. Some work men will probably be there on Monday to take down the risers. I waited out in the courtyard with some other parents and jotted this all down before I forgot. I was also driven slightly mad by the delicious smell of grilled meat wafting over from the far end of the courtyard. I mentioned the space issue with Hannah's school; the building forms a U at one end of a courtyard, and the other U is made up of a church and either some apartments or a co-op (Hannah wasn't sure). They have a yard that is fenced off from the school courtyard and seemed to be having a grill party. Hannah and I agree that it must suck to live that close to a high school, especially when the kids are out in the courtyard during their breaks.

John took our digital camera to Russia with him, so I had to take photos with an old analog camera. I'll try to come back and add a photo or two later when I have the film developed.

-Nee in Germany forgot her ticket for the third performance at home