{7 Quick Takes} Thoughts on Hamilton, “pretend school” and memory

Hello, gentle readers…hope your week has been lovely.  Linking up again with Kelly to let you in on what’s been happening around here…

ONE

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I am sort-of behind the times, but just recently discovered and immediately jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon.  I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on Amazon nearly non-stop for a few weeks now, and I love it.

I was a history major in college and I always thought, reading about Alexander Hamilton, “what a stud!” first, but then, “this guy was the epitome of the American Dream”.  He rose from illegitimacy and poverty to become one of the most influential of the Founders.  He had such a fascinating, nuanced life and that’s why this musical really excites me.

Plus, the hip-hop?  That’s pretty darn revolutionary for a Broadway show about an 18th Century Federalist.  It could have been a tired, classical story about an interesting guy, but Lin-Manuel Miranda does such great things with his writing that it makes the early days of America fresh and exciting.  And relatable.  Which is a complaint I think a lot of young people have about the study of history.

(Why do I  have to learn about this?  What does it matter to me?  These people in the past are nothing like me, they have nothing in common with me.)

Miranda took it a step further and cast people of all ethnic backgrounds as the central (historically Anglo-Saxon/white) characters.  And it is brilliant.  The story transcends race and gender and solidifies the fact that no matter our backgrounds or ethnicity, ALL AMERICANS have a right to the heritage of our nation.  And that is just fabulous.

Plus, the music is super-catchy.  If you haven’t, I encourage you to check out the soundtrack (even if you’re not a musical fan…this one might change your mind!).  If you’re waiting to see it on Broadway, it is probably going to be a long wait – it’s basically sold out into 2018!

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Alexander Hamilton (left) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (right) as Alexander Hamilton

TWO

The older two started school Aug 28th.  I had to laugh at Bellie (1st grade) when she came home after that first day.  It was an excited, breathless, stream of consciousness about eating lunch at school and riding the bus with her brother and seeing her friends and she loves her teacher and she got to help in the library and she used her new pencils and she loves her teacher did she tell me she loves her teacher?  And Junior (4th grade) came home and grunted “fine” when I asked him how his first day was.  Haha, the difference between boys and girls.  (Or 1st and 4th grade?)

THREE

I attempted to begin homeschooling my preschooler on Tuesday.  I had tried to get him excited about the prospect (We did not enroll him in “away from home” preschool this fall because A) at almost 4 he is showing a stubborn lack of interest in being potty-trained and B) I really don’t want to have to shuttle anyone back and forth to a 2-hour preschool when it takes me 1 hour round-trip  to get there.  This is my one year to be free from that!).  Anyhow, I told Spike that I was going to teach him at home.  He responded, “I get to go to pretend school?  Yay!”  Initially, I thought, that’s cool he calls it “pretend”, I know it is real, and it will be awesome.  Well, it turns out he really thought we were only going to “pretend” we were at school.  I barely got through the morning prayer and the pledge before he got sidetracked and started throwing a fit about playing with his Lego car.  I tried to lovingly refocus him, I attempted to move onto something I thought he would enjoy (coloring), I finally resorted to giving him a time-out.  He sat on the steps screaming, “I hate pretend school!  I don’t want to do pretend school any more!”  So I decided we would probably just take a break for the day.  I don’t want him completely hating it if I push it on him.  I vow to try it again next week.  I will keep trying for a bit but if it appears he is just not ready, perhaps he might not be.  I will keep you updated.

FOUR

The baby has some weird skin thing going on.  It looks like a rash or maybe psoriasis, is mostly on her chin and around her eye.  It looks very dry and red and patchy.  The only thing I can think of is it appeared around the time the kids were doing swimming lessons last month.  So perhaps a reaction to the chlorine or something?  It has been a couple of weeks since we’ve been swimming, though, so I don’t know what is going on.  Junior had some weird eczema around that age that eventually subsided, but this appears different.  I hate skin conditions in kids…one thing can look very much like another thing.  Something serious that needs treatment can appear just like something else that only needs to be washed with a gentle soap and moisturized.  It could be a reaction to some kind of detergent or it could be an allergy to some kind of food.  In that case, it can take months to figure it out while removing and adding stimuli to the child’s life.  Gaaah.  At least it doesn’t seem itchy or bothersome to Evvie.  She just looks somewhat ghastly.

FIVE

Our garden is overflowing and I couldn’t be more irritated.  I know that sounds totally awful, but it is true.  I love the idea of gardening.  I like having fresh herbs and lettuce to pick when I am making a salad or cooking and need just a little bit of parsley instead of running to the store.  But…but…even when you plant just one, little, teeny zucchini plant you somehow wind up with 5,634,592 zucchinis that you need to figure out what the heck to do with!  I have at least 3 friends who begrudgingly took one or two to make zucchini bread.  Hubby’s been cubing it and sautee-ing it with butter and Parmesan cheese (yummy actually, but not when you have it served for every meal for every day for a month!)

We have tomatoes and plums and really hard, not delicious pears strewn all over my counter.  The fruit is not so bad: the kids eat it constantly.  Unfortunately, those children still in diapers (I’m looking at you, Mr. I Hate Pretend School) tend to bless me with delightful pants to change after consuming all of that fiber.  Hubby was raised with the Depression-Era mindset (I am pretty sure he is actually a vampire who grew up in the 30’s) that you use EVERY LAST available piece of food for SOMETHING, no matter how ugly it is, how full of worms it may happen to be (yeah, our apples didn’t do so well this year), or how bad it tastes.  If it is not rotting or full of mold, you better dang well figure out some way to cook it, freeze it, or preserve it.  Of course, since Hubby is at work all day, this generally gets “intended” my way….and I honestly have tons of things I would rather be doing.  Hence the resentment over my bounteous garden.  I am blessed.

SIX

I have to go to the library today.  My kids love the library.  I love the library.  But I hate going with my kids to the library.

SEVEN

I am reading this fascinating (although a little technical) book: Permanent Present Tense: The Incredible Life of the Amnesic Patient, H.M. by Suzanne Corkin (2013).

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I became interested in this subject because a new nonfiction book about the same thing was recently published:

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My library hasn’t acquired this new book yet (Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich, who is the grandson of the brain surgeon who operated on H.M.) but a search led me to the other one.

Permanent Present Tense tells the story of Henry Molaison, a 27-year-old epileptic who underwent an experimental surgery in 1953 to remove part of his brain in order to relieve his seizures.  It seemed to work somewhat, but tragically included the added side-effect of Henry never being able to create any long-term memories.  His life really was in “permanent present tense” as he forgot everything after about 30 seconds.

As a result, for the next half-century, Henry agreed to be studied by neurologists to discover the intricacies and nuances of the brain.

Fascinatingly, only Henry’s long-term memory of things after his surgery was affected.  He could remember things from before, and his intelligence and personality remained the same.

Henry passed away in 2008, before that, he was only referred to in scientific circles as “Patient H.M.”  He contributed greatly to our understanding of how the brain works, most importantly memory.

I have always been very fascinated with the brain and the history of how brain injuries and mental illness have been treated.  In the first part of the 20th Century, lobotomies were considered appropriate and acceptable treatment for a wide range of conditions, among them depression and schizophrenia.  They were used, with some success, on patients with epilepsy, but up until recently doctors were not sure precisely which areas of the brain were able to be removed or damaged to yield results without damaging other brain functions (such as memory).

I’m only about half-way through but am engrossed.  I feel devastated for Henry and his family to have to have enriched science and medicine through their loss, but it really did open up a whole knew era of understanding about the brain.  Alternately, the book calls into question the lengths we as a society are willing to experiment on human “guinea pigs”(drug trials, for example) to further our goals to find treatment for disease.

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{7 Quick Takes} Weekly Mismash, Vol. 9

A day late on these, but better late than never, right?

Linking up with Kelly et al again…

{ONE}

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Helping me clean the bathroom before Grandma & Grandpa get here.

My in-laws are here.  This is always a little bit tough for me.  I am just so used to my own routine, my own way of doing things and it is challenging to have visitors who come in and “move my cheese” so to speak.  They are good people and they love my kids.  And since my father is no longer around and my mom doesn’t isn’t super-involved with the whole grandmother thing, I appreciate that my children have the regular opportunity to get to know their paternal grandparents.  We live so far away from family that we are not able to see our relatives very often.  I really need to focus on the good, rewarding things about their visit and downplay the frustrations.  Nevertheless, it is hard!

{TWO}

School starts here in a little over a week.  I will have a fourth and first-grader this year.  Where does the time go?  I feel like my summer went way too fast, but we actually did A LOT this vacation.  Of course I always intent to accomplish more – like work inch by inch throughout my storage room decluttering.  Ha, with a curious toddler and boisterous older kids…like that is a realistic goal!

{THREE}

I am going to attempt to do home school preschool for Spike this year.  He could technically go to real-live-preschool because he is three but….*he is not potty trained*.  That, and I have a strong aversion to driving the 1 hour round-trip to a brick and mortar preschool twice a week.  So I am going to see what I can do at home.  I am excited but worried that I will lose my motivation right away.  I attempted the same with piano lessons for my older two and never went more than two weeks!

{FOUR}

And while we’re talking about piano lessons, I should mention I am going to try to jump on the homeschool piano lesson bandwagon again.  I figure if I confess this here, you all might keep me accountable to actually setting a time and sticking to it.  I’ll let you know how both teaching endeavors go.

{FIVE}

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Love. This. Mystery.  Broadchurch starring David Tennant is my new favorite Netflix show.  It is a BBC drama-mystery (surprise surprise…I love me some British television) but I just think it is so well-done.  I finished watching the second season and I think both the acting and the writing are superb.  Obviously the content is somewhat disturbing (especially for me, as a mother) in dealing with the murder of a teenage boy, but the complex emotions and relationships between a community are presented so realistically and grittily that I truly was gripped.

{SIX}

Visiting the set of Antiques Roadshow Salt Lake last weekend was fun but we waited in line a long time.  I went to the actual event with Bellie.  I’ll admit, there weren’t many kids there (and, hey, there weren’t many in the under 50 crowd either!) but she did really well.  My great-grandmother’s pocket watch turned out to actually be worth less than I thought it would be, but the appraiser was super-nice and made a point of telling Bellie how lucky she was that one day if she was very lucky, this priceless family treasure (that, monetarily wasn’t worth very much but who cares?)would someday be hers.  I thought it was cute that he involved her in the appraisal.  But no, we did not get selected to appear on camera.  Unless they decide we are cool enough to feature in the “Feedback Booth” section at the end.  Will keep you posted on that one!

{SEVEN}

My baby girl said her first real sentence last week!  She’s barely 19 months old, so I figure that’s pretty OK.  Her big brother fell asleep in the car and she said, “He is seepy”.  Which, aside from the fact she needs to work a little on her enunciation, I believe counts!  I am just loving this age.  She can repeat most of the words we say, although Grandma and Grandpa haven’t been in the same room when she’s said their names.  Both sound kind-of like “Gumpa”…

HAVE a GREAT week!