Even at 9, I knew how to rock

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StereophonicThat stereo over there was my pride and joy when I was 9 years old. I got it for Christmas and I played it practically every day until I got a bigger one when I was 16.

This model, from JCPenney, had a tape recorder, a record player, an 8-track, and an AM-FM radio and two speakers. It also had a microphone jack, which I used often while singing along with Olivia Newton-John and other stars of the early ’80s. I would rock out with my permed hair, my headbands and legwarmers. And I have pictures to prove it.

Once I upgraded to a two-tape-deck stereo (bye, bye 8-track), this one was relegated to music duty in the shed, where we shot pool, roller-skated and played basketball.

A few weeks ago, Riley and I were at my parents’ house and saw that they had cleaned out the shed and rescued the stereo. Miraculously, 30 years later, it still worked. We played Charley Pride and Merle Haggard records and Alabama cassettes. We didn’t have any 8-tracks around the house, but maybe we can dig one up somewhere. Only one speaker works; the wire on the second one was likely gnawed by mice looking for dinner.

After leaving the stereo at my folks’ house for a couple of weeks, I finally brought it home with me. It now gives the guest room some character and some tunes. And still looks pretty good.

What was once a 9-year-old’s symbol of growing up has now become a 39-year-old’s symbol of childhood. Funny how that works. Rock on, y’all!

When is it OK to move on?

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What I've been doing

Has it been long enough? It’s been more than a year that I’ve been on my own … which isn’t long at all seeing that I was married for 15 years.

Is it OK to admit that I miss not a specific person but companionship? Having someone to hang out on the couch with, to watch cruddy preseason football with? Or should I pretend that being lonely is just fine?

Is there a timeline for getting back out into the world? Do I want to try it again? Not marriage. Heck, no. Just someone to watch football with, go to a movie, get coffee, catch a concert, have a beer, hang out. Maybe more, maybe less.

I do get lonesome sometimes when Riley isn’t here. The house is so quiet without her energy and joy that I just turn on the Braves while I read or write or unpack all the boxes I packed when I thought I might move.

Of course, I enjoy many aspects of my alone time. If I want to go out with friends, I go. The bathroom counter space and walk-in closet are all mine. I can stay up all night reading. My razors are lasting quite a long time. Obviously, there are some benefits.

Still, though, as the great Bruce said, we all need that human touch. Even me.

AV therapy, softball, dance, Bama basketball

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Since Riley’s therapy was cut back to every other week, we’ve been focusing on getting her to think about graduating from auditory-verbal. She has two goals right now:

1. Look at the person who’s talking
and the person you’re talking to.
2. Talk in complete sentences.

She’s doing pretty well with those two objectives, but I still have to prompt her occasionally.

Our therapist completed vocabulary testing last week and to everyone’s surprise Riley scored at or above her chronological age! We think it’s the first time she has hit or surpassed her “real” age and not her hearing age. She is on the right path.

We are working on synonyms and antonyms, idioms, context clues and inferences – important things heading into fourth grade next year. Riley is also supposed to be making notes of words she doesn’t know when comes across them in her reading.

Report cards come home Thursday, so that will tell the tale. Her weekly grades are mostly A’s and B’s, with a smattering of C’s and a D here and there. No more F’s, though. The lower grades seem to come whenever new material is introduced, which is why preteaching is so important. And, obviously, I haven’t been doing enough of that lately.

Also, her class is reviewing for state testing in math right now. Third-graders take the SAT (I think that’s the name), and I’m anxious to see how she does. Geometry, fractions and decimals have all been part of the curriculum this year.

Dance class is getting busier … she’s taking only acrobatics this year, but costumes are coming soon and picture day is in two weeks. Riley is good at acro; she’s almost got the back walkover and a one-hand cartwheel is a piece of cake. Next year, I’ll probably let her go back to taking two or three classes because dance is something she excels at.

Softball is starting next week; several practices have been rained out, so her team this year (all new to her except for two) will be rough around the edges. I will brag a bit about Riley, though. She is one of the fastest and has one of the strongest arms on the team. Her throwing is much improved.

The divorce was final last month, and I’m selling the house. I’m glad it is over, and we can move forward.

Oh, and, Roll Tide! Basketball season was fun, but I think the Tide got hosed by being left out of the NCAA Tournament. Winning the NIT would be nice, though. Go, Bama!

Bon Jovi 45 and other treasures

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When it comes to divorce, it’s about more than a marriage ending. It’s also about splitting up all your stuff! While we’ve taken care of everything in the house, we still need to dig through the boxes of past lives in the attic. So that’s what I was doing when I found this:

Yes. That is a 45 rpm. A record. A vinyl disc with a hole in the middle. You play it on a record player. It cost me $1.63 plus tax at Walmart, probably in 1986.

“Living on a Prayer” was in a box with two old diaries (one from high school, one from junior college), three New Kids on the Block t-shirts (two concert, one fan club), old cassette tapes and VHS videos, old letters (sadly, none about love), high school and college transcripts and other memorabilia.

One of the aforementioned cassette tapes contained some rare gems mined from Top 40 radio back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Like this:

And this:

And my theme song:

I’ve been rocking like it’s 1992 in my truck (the location of the only cassette player I have) on the way to and from work every day. Man, I love these songs … and the memories they bring … before I got serious about a boy, before responsibilities, when the possibilities of life were endless …

Then the tape stops and I’m snapped back to reality. But only until it flips to the other side and I hear this (Dude? Cornrows? Really? SMH):

And this:

Peace out, y’all!

Good progress

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Some good news about Riley and her auditory-verbal therapy … our therapist cut us back to every other week instead of every week! After seven years of weekly sessions (give or take holidays and illnesses), it’s nice that she’s made so much progress that we can go less often.

Her expressive vocabulary is better, her sentences are better and her conversation skills are better. I think a lot has to do with her social life, too. She plays softball and dances and has lots of friends who treat her like a “normal” kid. Her teachers and coaches expect the same out of her as they do other kids. She has accommodations at school, but she’s still expected to do everything.

Riley’s teacher makes her use correct sentence structure even when she knows what Riley is trying to say. I do the same at home. Her coaches often ask her for clarification, too. Everyone is working together to get the best out of Riley, and it’s paying off.

Third-grade math is a bit of a struggle, but she’s catching on. Slowly. This carrying the one and taking away the one and multiplication is tough. She’ll get three or four problems right, then miss one or two. One thing I’ve done to help her is have her tell me how to solve the problem. We go column by column and she tells me what to do and what numbers to write. Then we check our work with the calculator. That works pretty well.

She has two projects to do over fall break: a book report and a multiplication model. She hasn’t picked her book yet, but she’s finished her model using candy to illustrate 2×9=18. That’s my girl! Anything hands-on she loves and will get cracking on it right away. She did the same with her “All About Me” poster at the beginning of school. Finished it the day it was assigned.

She makes my life beautiful.

Dance the night away

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Riley’s dance recital was two nights last week. Her first night was ballet; the second night was acrobatics and jazz. She did wonderfully–she knew where everyone was supposed to be, and she helped get them there. She loves dancing and it shows! We are so proud of her and everything she has accomplished in her two years on stage.

Getting ready backstage before One Dance

Riley waves to her adoring public after the first-night finale

Waiting her turn for her one-handed cartwheel during Cotton-Eyed Joe

Backstage getting ready for Jailhouse Rock

Proud parents with our dancer girl

Random thoughts

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My fantastic friend This Belle Rocks awarded me with Gorgeous Blogger and Versatile Blogger awards. Sweet!

So in the spirit of following the rules, here are 7 random things about me:

1. I have a widow’s peak, so no blunt bangs for me.

2. Summer is my favorite season. I love hot weather.

3. When I was little I wanted to be a gymnast or a dancer.

4. I’m psyched that Riley loves both those things.

5. I have two crooked toes on my left foot.

6. I experience deja vu and a sort of ESP thing a lot. But I keep it quiet.

7. I’m addicted to Mountain Dew.

Tag! You’re it:

Val at Cochlear Kids

Nanette at Say it, don’t spray it

Mari at Mari’s Virtual Notebook

Football is for Girls

Meg at Exile on Main Street

I haven’t been around much lately because I’ve been busy with work, end-of-school activities, softball and dance recitals. I hope to get back to blogging more regularly. OK, that’s it. Gotta run!

Jason Castro goes hip-hop

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Thanks to Castrocopia for this little gem: a hip-hop class set to Jason Castro’s “Let’s Just Fall in Love Again.”

A friend and I are going to see Jason in a couple of weeks in Birmingham at Workplay. This will be the first time I’ve seen him since the “American Idol” tour stop in D.C., which was a blast. I’m looking forward to hanging out with friends and hearing Jason’s new songs.