Stamps, a book, and that plane again

January 11th, 2006

Once again it seems I’m posting Crusty-style– that is to say the morning of the day after instead of the night of the calendrical unit in question. I must admit it is a bit easier to spend a few minutes fresh in the morning typing up some thoughts than it is remembering at a ¼ past bedtime and then beating my already tired brane into action only to discover when I’m done that I stayed up more than an hour later than I’d meant to. Especially since lately I seem to be more tired than usual when I get up in the morning even though I have not been staying up later.

When I got home last night the only one who even seemed to notice was Gideon and he only noticed because he was playing at the top of the stairs in the entryway. Upon hearing the front door open and close, he poked his little face between the balusters and called out “Peekers, Dad!” It took a bit of cajoling, but I persuaded him finally to come down the stairs and give me a hug, after which he immediately took off again. Isaiah was fooling around in his room upstairs and Ruth was busy walking around talking to someone on the phone about something important (I guess) and didn’t want to be disturbed.

So I got in the van and went up the street to the post office for some new stamps. In case you didn’t know, postal rates have gone up. It now costs ¢39 to mail a regular first class letter and ¢24 for postcards. I am sure other rates went up too, but for those you’ll have to consult the USPS. The postman seemed a bit frazzled, but listening to his banter, I suppose that’s understandable since he’d been telling people the same thing over and over all day and probably getting flack from a bunch of them.

He had plenty of ¢39ers, but there are no new postcard stamps yet. He said they won’t come out till march.

“Well, that’s no problem. Give me some regular postcard stamps and some–”

“We don’t have any penny stamps,” he cut in.

“Uh, OK. The mall’s open till, what? Five-thirty, right?” I asked looking at my watch.

“They’re out too. You’ll have to try some other small post office.”

So I guess after a while, I’ll go up and see if the post office here by work has any ¢1 stamps. Maybe I’ll call first. It’s usually an annoyingly long wait there at lunchtime.

When I got home Ruth was off the phone and actually noticed my arrival. I suspect she must have noticed it the first time cause she said something to Gideon about Daddy (that’s me) “being back”.

Getting Isaiah to do his homework used to be a major hassle every night. Then we started making him do it about thirty minutes after he got home from school. That way he’d have a little time to wind down, but get to his work fairly early while he was still in daytime mode.

Well, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is his grandmother’s heart attack and then Ruth having to be available for her in the afternoons, we have gotten away from Isaiah doing his homework when he gets home from school and the level of frustration with homework is returning to its old levels. Last night was a prime example. For some reason he simply finds it impossible to just sit down and do it. Part of it, I’m sure is watching Gideon play while he’s working. Another part is that when you don’t start till five-thirty or six, it’s going to be well into the evening when you get done and it’s much harder to stick with something like that when everybody else around you is focusing not on work, but on relaxing from it.

He finally got it done, but it was almost supper time when he finished. After supper Ruth reminded us of something he’s supposed to have been working on for school. There is a young author’s contest for which submissions are due this Friday. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the information on it until last week. Nonetheless, Isaiah and I sat down and went to work thinking up a story.

I imposed what are probably rather rigid requirements for a first grader, but I think it helped him work through the process of conceiving of a story. I got out three sheets of paper and a pencil. On the first I wrote ‘Character:’, ‘Name:’, and ‘Description:’ on the next I wrote ‘Setting:’ ‘Time:’, ‘Time:’, and ‘Location:’ and on the third ‘Plot:’.

For each sheet of paper I made him answer questions about the particular topics. When working on the plot I reminded him that any good story has someone trying to do something, encountering a problem, and then solving the problem. We ended up with a pretty well fleshed-out concept for a book by a six year old, I think. We’ll see if we finish it by Friday. I think our prospects are slim, but even if we don’t we’re going to finish the book. In fact, if we don’t make the deadline we can take our time and produce a better product. As we work on it, I am doing my best to subtly guide his thinking process without taking charge of the story. I think I am doing a fairly good job as I force him to answer questions about what happens in the story and why. Like I say, we’ll see how it comes out.

When we’d finished working on our story concept, it was getting late and I decided instead of beginning to actually write the story itself, we’d take a break and work on assembling the model airplane we’d painted the parts of Sunday afternoon. We had a good time working together. I’d put some glue on a piece and tell him just how to stick them together– of course I did the hard ones, but he enjoyed watching almost as much as doing.

The airplane is now almost complete. The only problem is that since I spray painted all the parts already, the Elmer’s glue I was using to bond the pieces together is going to cut the mustard for affixing the lower wing (it’s a biplane) to the fuselage. That joint is just a flat rectangular area and the Elmer’s isn’t biting on the paint well enough to make a solid joint. We left the final two steps for later. I’ll hunt up some cyanoacrylate (Krazy Glue) and we’ll finish it for good.

After the boys were in bed, Ruth needed my help scanning and printing some pages for a project she’d been working on all night. She has to produce documentation to the school board of the work she’s done this year at Isaiah’s school in her capacity as parent involvement coordinator. This documentation, you see, is the evidence required to be paid a non-trivial stipend. She really does do a lot of work at the school. She’s not only the parent involvement coordinator, she’s also the president of the Parent Teacher’s Organization. It’s handy that the two jobs overlap a great deal, but it also means there is always plenty for her to do.

Once we’d finished putting together all the stuff she wanted in her folder, I chatted with a pal on AIM for a few minutes and it was already past the time I’d wanted to go to bed. So, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post– here I am posting Crusty-style.

Now all I have to do is work on getting these things done in the morning (instead of the late afternoon) and I’ll be set.