Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last First Day

Today my last year of graduate school begins.  Phew!  It is also my last first day of school ever.  I have enjoyed my master's program so far, but this semester promises to be challenging, at best.  I already have a mountain of reading to do and I haven't even been to a single class yet. 

People always ask me what courses I'm taking and since my schedule is usually determined by when I have childcare as opposed to personal interest, I can rarely remember the actual names and subject matter of my classes.  But, not this year.  This year, with the kids in school, I had a lot of freedom, well, more anyway, to pick and choose.  And here is the result:

Public Diplomacy -- if you know me well, you know that I can certainly benefit from any practical skills imparted in this course.  The focus of the class is diplomatic relationships between countries and organizations, but I suspect it is really just about getting along in the sandbox, just on a much grander scale.

Egypt: Authoritarianism to Revolution -- as of yet, there is no syllabus for this, but since much of what we'll be studying is in the process of unfolding, I suppose that stands that reason.

Research Methods in Democracy and Development -- this is exactly what you think it is.  Boring?  Maybe.  Useful, probably more so if I'd taken it at the beginning of my program, but there are still a lot of papers between me and graduation so all is not lost.

Transnational Justice -- the official course description states: "Transitional Justice addresses the question of how countries that are seeking to extricate themselves from massive human rights violations and undemocratic rule can best deal with their past in pursuit of the rule of law and participatory democracy. Central to this question is the need to ensure both peace and justice in fragile states living at the interregnum between the past and the future. Which comes first – justice or peace? Is it possible to have both? If so, under what circumstances?"

Don't you wish this were your schedule? 

As present I am anxious to begin even though I know very soon I will feel completely out of my depth and buried up to my neck in readings and writing assignments.
Summer fun with cousins Sloane and Taylor
But, in the end I know it will be like every other school year.  I'll get the work done and survive and then will have plenty of time to recuperate and savor that inevitable feeling of accomplishment.
Another cousin, Grafton, catching some rays

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We Love Washington, DC, #16

Last week the DC area experienced an earthquake, I'm sure you heard.  Luckily, the damage was mostly minor.  Sadly, however, the Washington Monument did not emerge unscathed.  In fact, because of the damage sustained, the Monument has been closed indefinitely.  It is impossible to think of Washington, DC, without this structure springing to mind.  It is symbol of freedom and liberty and an homage to a man without whom this Republic would likely never have been born.

On a cold, gray and dreary day this past April, we were fortunate enough to join the queue of ticket holders standing around the Monument's base waiting for our chance to ascend the 555 feet to its top.  In light of recent events, it is serendipitous that we did this when we had the chance.  The weather was miserable and we debated putting it off for a more favorable weekend.  And, although the views from the top were not as pristine as I have seen them in past visits, we saw enough to make our trip to the Monument more than worthwhile.  Caleb and Isaac loved being "so high" and pointing out the sights below that they have now come to identify with this great city.

It is interesting to note that while the Washington Monument is hollow, it is not empty.  The interior walls are adorned with 193 tributes stones from states, countries and various organizations to commemorate the heroism and valor of George Washington.  The elevator descends slowly down the shaft on the return trip and the walls are illuminated so these plaques become visible.  The lighting and speed make it impossible to capture them with more than one's eyes, but it is an impressive sight to behold.  For a list of these stones, click here.

 Waiting to go up.
 The views from the top: The Lincoln Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the Reflecting Pool under construction;
 the White House;
 the Capitol;
 and, the Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin.
 A lifesized, bronze statue of the man himself.

 The interior staircase.

The end of a successful visit and one more item crossed off our DC Bucket List.

Monday, August 29, 2011

First Day of School 2011

And, they're off!  After months of relaxed bedtimes and morning routines, it was difficult to get them going this morning.  But, after a little coaxing, some Little Einsteins to help assuage the shock of the early hour and the reminder of new shoes and backpacks they shifted gears and happily posed for a first day of school photo.

Caleb is in Kindergarten this year.  And, like every other parent in the world I am struggling to account for the time between bringing him home from the hospital and this morning.  It seems he has grown up without our even noticing and I can't help but think that sooner than I'd like he'll be on to even more mature pursuits.

Isaac is in Preschool and so happy to be going to school again after a year long hiatus.  He was nervous this morning and held my hand as tight as he ever has.  But, then, there were legos and toys and new friends and all worry of being left "alone" faded.

For both of them the school day is long, 8 hours.  I imagine Isaac will struggle a bit initially since he is accustomed to a 2.5 to 3 hour nap every day.  But, I know they're both in good hands with great teachers and aides and a staff committed to enhancing their well-being.  And, their being in school for so many hours ensures me the opportunity to focus on this, my penultimate semester of graduate school.  I've got 2 days until my classes begin, which means I have a mere 48 hours to tackle my "must be done, but impossible to do with kids in tow" list.  I suppose I'd better get started...

Happy First Day of School.  I've got a feeling this year is going to be a great one!  

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