Category Archives: summer reading

March Madness and Three Little Pigs

So we are all into March madness over here, both the basketball kind and the kind brought on by prolonged winter cabin fever.  Lucky for me, Susanna Leonard Hill is sponsoring a March Madness writing contest to help alleviate some of the boredom and restlessness that has settled into my brain. This one requires a 400 word max fractured Fairy Tale. thIt’s all just for fun (and a few great prizes) so give it a try, you just might get hooked!

http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-march-madness-writing-contest-is.html

Inspired by almost-true events:

Go outside Three Little Pigs!! 

Once upon a time there were three little pigs.

Three little, lazy pigs that just sat around all day and did nothing but play video games.

Until, one sunny day when Mama Pig decided she couldn’t take it anymore.

“That’s it!” She said, pointing to the door. “I have had enough! Go. Out. SIDE!”

“What?” said the First Pig.

“You want us to go out… there?” said the Second Pig.

“But, there’s never anything to do outside.” complained the Third Pig.

Mama Pig threw open the door.

“Have an adventure! Use your imagination! Just go outside, NOW!”

So the three miserable, lazy pigs went outside.

“It’s sooo hot out here,” moaned the First Pig.

“I’m sooo bored,” whined the Second

“I miss my video games,” cried the Third.

A dark shadow crept slowly along the fence.

“Little pig, little pigs, let me in,” whispered a deep, gravely voice.

“The wolf! Mom! Mom!” The three pigs banged on the door.

“Go away,” said Mama Pig from inside the house.

The three pigs stared at one another.

“Quick!” said Pig Number One. “To the straw pile!”

The three pigs ran across the lawn and burrowed their way into the middle of the straw.

“Ha!” laughed the Wolf. “Do you really think that measly house made of hay is going to keep me away? I am going to huff and puff…”

The three pigs dug as fast as they could through the back of the straw pile.

“To the tree house!” yelled the Second Pig.

The three pigs clambered up the ladder to the tree house and slammed the door shut.

Snap!

A branch snapped, and then another, and another.

Snap!
Snap!

Suddenly through the wall came the wolf’s furry head, his red, beady eyes and his pointed teeth.

“Really, a house made of sticks?” He snarled.

The three pigs quickly threw themselves out of the treehouse, landing one by one with a thud on the dirt below.

“Over there! Behind that brick wall!” yelled Pig Number Three.

The three pigs scampered behind the wall but they knew it was no use;

sharp claws soon crept over the rocks…

“Help! We’re doomed!” They cried.

“Pigs! Oh, Pigs, time for din-ner!” Yelled Mama Pig.

“Awww, already?” said Pig Number One.

“That was way more fun that video games!” Said Pig Number Two

“Sure was.” Said Pig Number Three. “See you tomorrow Wolf?

“See you tomorrow Pigs.”

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The Playground

Image

As the weather improves I have been frequenting the playground with my youngest daughter and every time I am there I see parents chatting away on their phones as their kids play and I think to myself, “I wish there was a No Cellphone sign here.” One of those signs hanging on the fence with a picture of a cell phone on it and a big black X through it. Perhaps just a gentle reminder to all of us to hang up and play, run around, be silly.

It seems to me that cellphones have taken over our lives!  We can’t seem to be without one for five minutes and it really is so ridiculous. I know it is hard to believe but I survived a good portion of my life without a cell phone and whats-more my parents never had a cell phone and they not only survived but they managed to raise twelve fairly normal kids! How did they do that?

Believe me, I am not lecturing, I am just as bad as the next person. If I am in my car (or on the playground) and suddenly realize I don’t have my cell phone my heart rate skyrockets. Oh no! What if someone is trying to reach me and I’m not available?! What if there’s an emergency? What if my son stubs his toe at school or my oldest forgot her homework, or my friend calls to tell me about some juicy gossip from the book club that I missed? Breathe, breathe. How far away am I ? Should I go back and get it?

Okay, seriously, how many true emergencies happen to you in one day? Or one week? Unless you’re a brain surgeon or the CEO of Google do you really need to be available at all times to everybody?

I sort of miss the days of going to the playground B.C. (before cell phones) because back then, any news, any “emergency”, any gossip would just need to wait. I simply wasn’t available. I was busy. At the playground. With my kids.

THE PLAYGROUND

You said, “Let’s go to the playground today.

We’ll spend some time together and have fun while we play.”

“Yippee!” I yelled, “I know just what we’ll do!”

And I ran to get my sweatshirt and find my left shoe.

First, we’ll swing high on the swings and go down the big slide,

then hang down from the bars and play “you search while I hide.”

“Hello? Where are you?”  You will say with a smile,

(Knowing exactly where I am, all of the while).

Then we’ll look up at the clouds and see funny things,

like a rabbit with pajamas and a bear that can sing.

We’ll dig holes in the sandbox and pour sand in the trucks,

then walk down to the pond and feed bread to the ducks.

But when we got to the park I knew it wasn’t to be,

because the first thing you did… was sit under the tree.

“Go and play.”  You said, “I’ll just make one quick call.

It won’t take but a moment, really, no time at all.”

So, I tried a few cartwheels and a front forward roll

went to the sandbox and dug a huge hole.

I called, “Look at this!” to you as you sat,

but you just turned away, caught up in your chat.

You sat over there yakking away on your phone

leaving me to play, by myself… all-alone.

So, I glanced up to the sky but saw nothing there,

no silly cloud animals, just blank, empty air.

I climbed the tall climber and tried out a new trick,

then I sat on the swing and gave a few little kicks.

And after a while you yelled, “Com’on! Time to go!”

and I walked to the car; my head down, my feet slow.

And as you buckled me in, you said, “Oh, what a great day!

I’m so glad that we came to the playground to play.

Wasn’t it fun, but, boy, it went by real fast,

I wish I could find a way to make these special days last…”

Anne Sawan 2013

Telling the truth, the whole truth…….

Plane approaching ZRH

Image by Adnan Yahya via Flickr

Hey ! I am a guest blogger on adoption.com this week!  You can find my article there at

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://adoptive-parenting.adoptionblogs.com/weblogs/telling-the-truth

This is the piece I wrote…

Telling The Truth:

It was a beautiful day yesterday. A treasure to enjoy before the cold weather sets in.  Early fall, the sun was shining, the leaves just starting to turn orange, red and yellow.  We ran around as a family; cleaning the garage, cheering at soccer games, friends stopped by, the boys looked for frogs and played wiffle ball in the backyard. In the afternoon, my husband piled as many boys as he could fit in his car and took them out to lunch. I took Eliza, my four year old in my car. She wanted McDonalds (sorry health nuts), or Old McDonalds, as she calls it, so we went to get her Happy Meal, and I got the requisite boring mom salad.  We whipped through the drive thru and brought our lunch home to enjoy outside on the porch.

The house was momentarily still, as the boys were away and it was just my daughter and I enjoying our picnic.  We sat outside munching away, the leaves falling around us, and high above a plane flew quietly overhead.

“Look, Eliza a plane,” I said.

Planes play a significant, symbolic role in our little lives. At bedtime, I often tell Eliza a short story of her adoption. She will whisper to me, “Tell me the baby Eliza story.” And I will whisper back in the dark about the baby that needed a family, and the family that needed a baby. About how her dad and I got on a plane that flew high across the ocean to get her. We wrapped her in a soft, pink blanket and took turns holding her the whole way back on the plane.  When we got home, there was a big party for everyone to meet her, and her brothers and sister had made a beautiful Welcome Home sign that spread across the whole front porch.

It’s a soothing ritual and a way for her to always know a piece of her story. Just a piece.  I have never ventured far outside of the story. I have never explained what “adoption” means. It is just a word she knows.  It has been enough, for now.

But as we sat out there on the porch, looking at the blue sky and the plane sailing smoothly across, I thought, I should start telling her now.  So she will always know.  Not just that adoption means love forever, but the nitty-gritty physical part of the adoption; that another woman gave birth to her, that she was not created in my body, as her siblings were, but that another mom and dad created her…that whole piece I have left out.  I felt like I should introduce the concept soon, she is almost school age, she sees other women who are pregnant and is starting to ask, ”Why is her tummy so big?” Soon she will say, “I was in your tummy too once, right?” With my biological kids it was easy, “Yes you were! I remember you kicking me!” But now….what do I say?

It’s easy to tell her a bedtime story about a plane and wrapping her in a blanket of love…it’s not so easy to look beyond that. So, I thought I will tell her gently, slowly and we can talk about it in pieces, as kids thankfully do. I want her to always know so it is never a surprise, just a natural part of who she is…but I guess I also want her to know to make it easier for me.  So she doesn’t turn to me in public and say, “ I was in your tummy too, right?” So we can have our own discussions, on our own terms and then she can say just as proudly as any child, “I was born in someone else’s tummy and in my mom’s heart! ”

So on a splendid fall day, in a moment of quiet and sharing, I thought, “Here I go.”

“You know what?” I said, cheerfully.

She turned and looked at me. A chicken nugget in one hand. Her eyes big and brown, her long hair tousled, her sparkly shoes always on the wrong feet, glimmering in the sun.

“What mom?”

And in a sudden unexpected rush, I felt my throat close. Tears appeared out of nowhere. I couldn’t say it. I choked.  Because the truth is, I want her to be from my tummy. I want to be the one that felt her kick. That pushed her out into her dad’s waiting arms. I want to avoid the questions that will surely come, the possible pain she may have. I don’t ever want her to ever feel “less than” or unwanted. She is so not that.

“That plane sure is beautiful,” I said.

“Yeah!” she said. “I came on a plane, and you and daddy!”

“We sure did,” I said. “Come on, want me to push you on the swing?”

Anne Cavanaugh-Sawan

agsawan.wordpress.com

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. ~Desmond Tutu

Teeth, Feet and Fly…..

Kenny Rogers - Nov 2004 Photo by Alan C. Teepl...

Image via Wikipedia

Funny, the things we remember from our childhood. Often, it’s not the big expensive trip or the thing that cost the most, but the little pieces that make up the bigger ones: the crazy family car rides, the chaos involved in actually taking the family photos, the tree in the front yard.

Another story I wrote also made it to Editors Picks in The Readers Digest contest.  It is on the front page as of now, titled “Eddie.”

It is about the “photo” tree we had our yard growing up. The maple tree where we would stand and take all of our family event photos, first day of school, First Communion, prom, etc.

“Eddie”

His name is Eddie. The big, tall maple that lived in our front yard. We named it Eddie because momma always said there was a refreshing eddy of a breeze that would come right around that tree in the sticky, hot summer. Eddie is in all our family photographs, the first day of school: “Go stand near Eddie so I can take a picture.” Easter: “Kids line up near Eddie. Quick, before you go get your church clothes all dirty!” Prom: “Why don’t you and George go stand over near Eddie? Ya’ll look so grownup!” Eddie was the home base for our massive neighborhood games of hide and seek “I gotcha ya!” “No way. I tagged Eddie first!” Eddie is still the first thing I see when I pull up to my parents’ house. A few less leaves, bending perhaps a bit more, but standing proud, delivering his cool breeze.

Do you like the Southern effect I threw in there? I think I wrote this after seeing The Help.

(My other Editors Pick, Sunday Car Ride, is now on the third page as more Life Stories flow in.  Some of them are pretty good…but ignore those and vote for mine, http://apps.facebook.com/yourlifecontest/node/)

Don’t you wonder what sorts of things your children will carry with them into adulthood?

I came across an article recently about Randy Pausch. You all probably know who he was, the Carnegie Mellon professor who was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, gave a lecture to his students titled, The Last Lecture, which went viral and was viewed and read by people all over the world.  Originally written for his children, he shared it with a million others.  You can find his lecture on YouTube, or buy the book version.  It was a wonderful speech, the wisdom of a dying man, full of the kind of guidance and value only those in such a position can give.  Sadly Randy Pausch died in 2008.

The columnist in the piece I read asked people to send in one piece of  advice they wished to share with their children.

“One?” I thought, “That’s impossible.”

We humans love to give advice. We have whole magazines full of advice on how to parent better, how to lose weight, how to be sexier, how to clean your house.  And then there are books and movies and talk shows full of advice. Every month professional advice givers are coming up with new suggestions for us; people like Oprah (the almighty advice giver), Dr. Oz (who makes me want to run out and buy vats of disinfectant), and Charlie Sheen (who also makes me want to run out and buy vats of disinfectant).  Just please don’t take any instructions from that horrid Snookie person on MTV.

I realized that, thanks to all the media and wise people who have gone before me such as Randy Pausch, Dr. Seuss and Kenny Rogers, all the good advice has already been given. (What? You never thought of Kenny Rogers as a philosopher?)

“Do not tell people how to live their lives. Just tell them stories. And they will figure out how those stories apply to them.” (Randy Pausch).

 “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” (Dr. Seuss).

“You better know when to fold them, know when to hold them, know when to walk away and know when to run…”  (The great Kenny Rogers, he is as of this writing still alive, although his plastic surgery debacle is awful!)

“Man,” I thought. “That’s not fair! Those people got to give a lot of advice! Not just one piddly little piece, lots!”

So…then I thought, I have some life knowledge I would like to share, but I can’t narrow all that valuable insight down to just one thing! Forty or fifty things maybe, but not one! I mean, who can only give ONE piece of advice?  Especially someone like me; I am a woman, a parent and a psychologist. That combination SCREAMS advice giving!

So, after mulling it over for some time, I managed to condense my infinite wisdom down to just three crucial life recommendations I would like to now pass on to the next generation.

Get your pens and paper ready!

Teeth, Feet, Fly.

When I was in college, a friend and I had a rule that when we were out and went to the ladies room, before returning to the table (or the bar), we were to check our teeth (for wayward pieces of food that might be stuck in there), feet (for a piece of toilet paper that might be trailing on the bottom) and fly (to make certain it was properly fastened).

Simple, basic, straightforward advice.

And while you are at it, teeth, feet and fly can also be expanded to looking after other proper hygiene issues such as brush, floss, deodorize, and wash. If you smell bad and look bad, you won’t get in the door: not for a date, not for a job.

This advice may help get you in but the rest is up to you.  (Such as look people in the eye, without being creepy.  Smile and answer them when they talk to you.)

And don’t forget to discreetly tell your friends when they have something in their teeth, or if their fly is down.  Wouldn’t you want to know? Isn’t that what a true friend does? Tells you when something is not quite right? Helps you out when you are in a jam?

(See how I managed to sneak in a lot of advice there? It’s a mom trick.)

Never Say Never.

Never Say Never.

Not as in a, “fight for what you want, and stand up for yourself” Justin Bieber sort of thing, (What? You never heard the Bieber song, “Never Say Never?” You obviously don’t have a teenage girl).

Although that’s all good and true, and you should stick to your guns and not give up (sneaking in more mom advice here), what I mean is never say, “I would never do that!” Because the truth is, we don’t know what we would do, or not do in certain situations. What words we might say, or how we might act.

I am not saying you shouldn’t have your beliefs, or values, those are important, but just realize there are situations in life in which we all become strangers to ourselves, and do and say things we may not recognize.  And if you say, ‘I would never do that,” in a judgmental way about someone else’s behavior and then later do something similar….it’s just awkward for everyone (Ted Haggard).

And, no matter what, when you are a parent don’t ever say, “My kid would never do that!” That is like the kiss of death! Once you look at someone else’s child’s antics and say, “Oh my God, my child would never do that!” I can pretty much guarantee you; your kid is going to do whatever it is… or worse.

Marry the one who makes you laugh the most.

Forget the one who your friends think is the cutest, or the one your parents think will be the most successful.  Life is long, trying and tiring at times.

Marry the one who makes you laugh the most.

Marry the one who makes you giggle at the most improper times.

Who makes you smile at the same time you are crying.

The one who makes you see the absurdity in all of it all: in life, in others, in yourself.

The one who makes you laugh when you come home from an important job interview in tears and tell him/her that you just realized that you had some leftover green thing from lunch  in your teeth the entire time.

Or who makes you smile inappropriately when you catch his eye in the middle of a serious school meeting regarding your child’s less than stellar behavior.

Marry the one who brings you joy, instead of flowers.

(Unless you are lucky like me and find someone with all of those aforementioned qualities, then go for it of course.)

So there it is.

My three pieces of advice  for the next generation.

Now it is you chance. What three important things do you want to say to your children, or family, or friends, or dogs before you go?

If you had three pieces of wisdom to pass on, what would they be?

There is no guarantee anyone will listen but I bet the next time you go the restroom you will remember Teeth, Feet and Fly….

Gym Class Heroes

I started up my tennis lessons again last week. I never even held a tennis racket in my hands until two years ago when a couple of friends asked me if I wanted to join them for a “Tennis for Dummies” class (that is not really what the sports club called it, I just thought the title seemed appropriate).

I had recently left my job and had some free time so I thought, Why not? If Serena Williams can do it, how hard can it be? Right?

(Have you seen that girl’s muscles? I am still waiting to get arms like that.)

So I joined and let me tell you, I stunk! Terrible! But it was fun and pretty much we all stunk together, so it was okay.  Fast-forward to now, I am probably just a hair above stinking, so my teacher told me to try the next level up class (I think she is like Mrs. Puff on SpongeBob and I am the sponge/student she is trying to get rid of).

That is where I was last week.  I felt unsure of myself, really wanted to skip the whole thing, pretend I was ill or had something glamorous like tennis elbow, but I forced myself to go and during the warm up… it became pretty obvious who the Uber players were and who the not-so Uber players were going to be. Guess where I fell…

After the warm up, the instructors told us to pair up a with a partner to begin the real playing, and then it happened …

A flashback to those gym classes of so long ago…

Picking teams, picking partners, the shifting of feet, sideways glances, praying you aren’t picked last, or hoping you aren’t paired with so and so…UGH!!

Suffice it to say, I made it through. I was sweating like a pig, and couldn’t move my arms the next day (Come on Serena arms!) but it was fun, and sorry Uber players, like Arnold and Charlie Sheen, I will be back.

That recent experience really made me think, and was a good reminder for me as a parent, as to what it is like to be put in a situation where you don’t feel ready or comfortable. How it feels not to know other people in the group. To have to try and prove yourself even if you know you aren’t as good as the others. How it feels not to be picked first. Or maybe even at all….it pretty much sucks.

My oldest son George is a natural athlete. I am not trying to brag, I am just stating a strength of his.  Since he was in the womb he has been athletic. I remember him kicking and shooting hoops in- utero and I was like, “What the hell is going on in there!”  My stomach constantly looked like some weird scene from Alien, and I swear I saw a Nike sign tattooed across my stretched skin. He walked at nine months, and ran at nine months, one day. I wanted to get a helmet for his head because was so small with his big baby head careening into everything.

Finally he was old enough for organized sports, and had a place to put all that energy. Thank God! And he loves it.  Sports is his niche. Maybe not everyones niche, but definitely his.

He does well, he tries hard, he dedicates himself, but there are times like anyone when he fails…and he gets down on himself.

I wrote the story below, The Baseball Game, after I heard him say how much he stunk at something when he didn’t make a team he was vying for. After I wrote it, I read it to my youngest son, Teddy.

He said, “I like it, and I get it. Georgie is George and Andy is me, isn’t he mom?”

No pulling the wool over that kid’s eyes.

I wrote this story for my oldest son, and for the kids that love sports. Those that put their heart and soul into each game. Those that cheer when they win and cry when they lose.  I also wrote it for those kids who don’t always do well in sports, or who really just don’t have an interest in them. I know those kids too. I get it. And it hurts when you are picked last or not at all.

 The Baseball Game

George was the biggest kid in fifth grade at Highland Elementary, and the fastest and the strongest, and the coolest.

And no one thought he was cooler more than Andy.

Andy was the smallest, the slowest, the weakest and definitely not the coolest kid in fifth grade at Highland Elementary.

Everything George did was cool.

He never cried, never. Not even when he stapled his hand in art class. He just waved his hand in the air with the big staple sticking out and everyone cheered, except Mrs. Pritchard who looked like she was going to faint.

Andy poked himself in the eye with his pencil by mistake once. He cried and Mrs. Pritchard fainted.

George landed a triple flip off the high bars at recess and everyone cheered, except for Mrs. Pritchard who turned really pale and had to go sit in the shade with an ice pack on her head.

Andy tried to hang upside down on the low bar for ten seconds, but he fell off after eight seconds, busted his nose, chipped a tooth and scraped his knee. Mrs. Pritchard fainted.

George always wore his baseball hat backwards and his pants real low, just like the teenagers at the high school.  Andy tried to wear his pants low once but they just slipped off in the middle of gym class and everyone laughed at his Captain Fantastic underwear.

And George always hit home runs in baseball.  Always.

Andy… didn’t.

At the end of the school year it was a tradition for the Highland Fifth Graders to play the Harris School Fifth graders.  The winning school got bragging rights for a whole year. Harris School had won five years in a row.  That was a lot of bragging to listen too.

But, this year everyone just knew Highland was going to win, after all they had George.

Game day came. Highland School filled the bleachers to the right, Harris School filled the bleachers to the left.

“Batter up!” Yelled Mrs. Pritchard, the umpire.

The game began. It was hot. It was sticky. It was awesome. Strikes, home runs, kids sliding in, kids getting out.

Finally it was the bottom of the ninth inning. Two outs, bases loaded, Highland was down by one.

George walked to the plate.

“Georgie, Georgie!” The whole school cheered.

This was it! They were sure to win now! The crowd roared with excitement.

George readied his bat, and tilted his head. The pitcher wound up, and…

ZOOM!

“Strike one!” Called Mrs. Pritchard.

WHOOSH!

“Ball!” Called Mrs. Pritchard.

WHIZZZ!

George swung!

“STIR-IKE!” Yelled the umpire, adjusting her face cage.

George shook his head, gripped the bat tighter, glared at the pitcher, and took a deep breath.

The pitcher wound up again and,

SHUMMMM!

George swung! He swung hard! He swung fast!

CRACK!

Straight to centerfield!  That ball was going, going….

The center fielder from Harris School began to run. He ran!  He ran fast, his glove stretching out, out, reaching, reaching and… PLOP!

The ball landed right in his glove.

“You’re out!” Mrs. Pritchard managed to yell, right before she fainted from surprise.

A loud cheer rose from the left side of the field. Harris School had won… again!

The Highland fifth graders all sat in silence.

Was it possible? Did it really happen? They had lost? George was out?

George sat with his head in hands as all the students silently filed past.  Everyone left. Everyone that is, except for Andy.

Andy scooted down from the stands and sat quietly next to George.

“I stink,” muttered George, shaking his head.

Andy scooted closer and sniffed, “No you don’t,” he said.

“No, I mean I stink. I stink in baseball! I stink! I stink at everything!” said George, a tear slipping down his cheek.

“Wow, that sure is a lot to stink at,” said Andy.

He thought for a moment.

“You don’t stink at everything.”

“You’re really good at stapling your body parts.”

“You’re really good at scaring Mrs. Pritchard.”

“And you’re really good at chewing with your mouth open.”

“I do that?” asked George.

“Sure, everyday at lunch,” said Andy.

“Is it gross?” asked George.

“Yeah, sort of, but in a really fascinating, disgusting, cool sort of way,” said Andy.

They sat together for a while.

“Want me to teach you how to play baseball?” said George.

“No thanks, I already asked that kid from the other team to teach me tomorrow,” said Andy. “But you could help me launch my sonic rocket to the moon.”

George smiled.

“Sure, why not,” He said.

He reached over and turned Andy’s hat around backwards. “Know what, you’re pretty cool.”

“And you know what,” said Andy, turning his hat back around and wrinkling his nose.  “You do stink a little.”

Summer….

So, I wasn’t planning on posting again so soon, but I had something to say and I have never been very good at keeping my mouth shut. I wanted to post a link to this article in last week’s Boston Globe, Parade Magazine, by  Mitch Albom. I thought it was fantastic. (http://www.parade.com/news/views/mitch-albom/110807-the-joys-of-summer.html).

I can’t say it better than him, but let me try to sum it up for you. Basically he is saying, when did we lose summer? When did we decide  to let our anxiety, our competitiveness, our need to keep up with the Joneses in every way, take over our lives? And why are the schools making all the rules for us? Summer is supposed to be a vacation. VA-CA-TION!   Is your child not going to make it in this world because instead of doing their summer reading, summer math, book reports, they stayed up playing flashlight tag and night swimming? Are they going to fail because they didn’t go to the right camp or get some sort of academic enrichment? I think they’ll be okay.

I love to read. I read as a kid all the time. I practically grew up  in the  library. It was air-conditioned,  free, and quiet.  All good things in the hot summer when you come from a large family.  If I could, I would do nothing else but read all day. I just resent the fact that our children are slowly being required to do more and more academic work over their summer break.  And it isn’t just summer, it’s over winter break, Thanksgiving break, February break, and long weekends as well.  How would you feel if you planned a vacation, say in the Bahamas. You are looking forward to sitting on the beach, swimming in the waves, hanging out and reconnecting with your family, and then, on your way out the door your boss hands you a stack of papers saying, “Hey, have a great vacation! Oh, and by the way, have all these reports done by the time you come back.”  I see this over and over again with my kids. They are pulling out backpacks on the plane, worrying while we are at Disney about studying for tests, or trying to finish the research paper they were assigned. Crazy. That’s  it. I am done ranting, for now….