Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Back to School 2014-2015!!!

And in the blink of an eye they are starting sixth grade (séptimo) and third (cuarto).

We got back from our AWESOME six-week vacay in MN and took one day off to help with the jet lag and colds Nico and I picked up right before our travel date. Then, it was back to school today!

I won't lie. It wasn't easy. I always remembered going back to school as a fun, carefree day. You would see new friends, open up and use spanking new supplies, and just hang out all day and not do much. But the nerves were going strong this morning and Agustin threw up right before going to class. He claims his shirt was too tight, but I'm sure it was nerves.

He has always been my sensitive one. Only yesterday he spent the better part of the morning crying his eyes out because we had left MN and the family. And the COUSINS!!!! And Reggie.  AND SCHMIDTY!!!! That was hard, and so yesterday I stayed home from work (poor Andres had to go in and work like a dog to catch up on everything that happened while we were out) and decided we would make a fun day of it, so we wouldn't be so heartbroken about being so far away from our amazing summer memories. We played Pay Day (found that one a few months ago stored away in Andres's childhood home. Man the kids love it! And it sure brings back some great memories.) and then Ecuador-opoly (this is one my family had made specially for us and some of the cards just make us smile: collect $100 for Agustin's first word, or pay $200 because Andres spends too much time in the bathroom! LOL!!! - Anyone remember this game?). Playing games all day helped calm him down.

But today both Andres and I had to work so we couldn't be there to see them off to school, and weren't there when they got home, and therefore I didn't get a first day of school pic.  But I got a favorable report (mostly).

Agus: four new friends, two who didn't come back, couldn't remember his teacher's name (until Nico told him - TYPICAL AGUS!!!!), liked his teacher but then got all upset because she took his cool State Fair pencils that change color with the heat of your hands and then yelled at him saying they were used but didn't give them back, upset because he was missing a notebook (which, for the record, wasn't on the supply list we received), needs his textbooks IMMEDIATELY or he will be expelled (the other parents told us that they aren't in stock at the moment but we will try tomorrow), got a little teary-eyed when he recounted all the rules and regulations the teacher had them write out in their notebooks (I think the teachers also act like a bunch of B's on the first days to scare the kids into being good - which is why quite a few people never even bother with the first few days of class and probably also why so many kids don't look forward to the first day like they do in the U.S. - but I will admit that - at least as a teacher in this culture - it is pretty necessary or you will be spending the rest of the school year hearing "No one ever said, I didn't know, It's not fair, " etc from every single kid),  but in all had a good day and sat next to Martín Teran.

Nico: two new friends, a few who didn't come back (Natalie was one - Agus teased him saying she will always be in his heart no matter where she is), a couple new ones, everyone was wearing the uniform he had on (so he was happy we chose the right one as we didn't know which one he was supposed to wear this week) but he didn't bother to ask what he is supposed to wear tomorrow TYPICAL NICO!!!! lol, wore his new Neymar cleats and was bothered by an older kid who told him he can't wear cleats to school and another kid who said Messi was better than Neymar (we told him to tell those kids not to be haters), was happy he didn't get homework, but oh yeah he has to study for the diagnostic tests (which, by definition are not to be studied for, but try telling that to teachers here), when asked what he was supposed to study said "A bunch of words" and when asked which words said "Any words you want!!!!" in an incredulous voice like I was an idiot for asking (TYPICAL Nico LOL!), but in general had a totally awesome day.

So there we have it! First day of the 2014-2015 school year over and done. May it be a good year!

Review of My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

I read Middlemarch by George Eliot for the first time about ten years ago, as a graduate student in a Liberal Arts program. That’s a bit surprising, seeing as I was an English major as an undergraduate with a specialization in British female authors of the 18th and 19th century. Perhaps because of the length, I’d never really considered reading it on my own. 

I chose this book, firstly, because of its title (I really enjoyed Middlemarch when I finally got around to reading it), and secondly, because of the cover. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover but honestly, I do and you can. I read this as an ebook, so the cover was the only thing visually attractive about the book, and I admit, I was drawn to it. I love a well-designed cover. It can tell you a lot about the book – whether it’s going to be funny, sarcastic, romantic, quirky. The cover of My Life in Middlemarch is subdued and quiet and proper and beautiful – much like the book itself. But don’t take that as a bad thing!

In this book, the author, Rebecca Mead, recounts her love of Middlemarch throughout her life, talking about the book and its author, others who have reviewed it, and even throwing in a little literary criticism for the record. She makes comparisons between herself and the characters in the book, herself and George Eliot, her life and the life of Dorothea. She doesn’t just limit herself to Middlemarch, however, and this – in my opinion – is what makes this book great, but it could possibly be off-putting to other readers. She refers to other books written by Eliot, other reviewers of Eliot’s work (such as Virginia Woolf), and even makes various “pilgrimages” to Eliot’s (neé Mary Ann Evans) house in Coventry. Here, with the references to all the English towns and places, I think it would have been nice for the author/publisher to have included a small map, and possibly even a small timeline of Eliot’s life/works. My Life in Middlemarch is a rich source of English literature in and of itself, however.

I enjoyed this book. I love to read about books and read about reading books, and there was just the right amount of literary criticism and “book talk” in it that reminded me of my happy college days as an English major reading and analyzing books from every angle. Mead does a great job of that. What perhaps was missing a bit was the memoir aspect. At times I felt like I didn’t really know the author at all, despite her pains to show me more. At other times, the connection between her life and Middlemarch felt a bit contrived, perhaps, although neither of these things affected my enjoyment of the book.

Do you need to have read Middlemarch to enjoy this book? No, I don’t think so, although I wish I had gone back and read Middlemarch before I decided to read this book. I think I would have “loved” this book had I done so, more than just “really enjoyed” it. And although I don’t think it is completely necessary to have read Middlemarch to like the writer’s style, I’m not really sure why you would read My Life in Middlemarch if you hadn’t read the original in the first place!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Edelweiss through Blogging for Books, but I was not compensated and all of the opinions stated are my own.