The Modernization of School Projects

Last week I attended Ella’s school’s “Art Showcase” to learn about how the teachers incorporate arts and technology into the standard curriculum. Ella loves school, brings home cool art, and seems to be learning a lot, so I was prepared to be generally impressed. Any organization that wants to provide the paint and glitter and do all of the clean up has my complete blessing. After all, at home we mostly just color computer-printed pictures of the Disney Princess Palace Pet “Blondie” over and over, so we probably need artistic backup.

D2's growing collection of Palace Pet print-outs.
D2’s growing collection of Palace Pet print-outs.

The showcase was also going to be a good chance for me to learn more about architecture class, one of her “specials.” I have heretofore been skeptical about architecture class because I figured it:

  1. Was in reality a class to appease the increasing number of helicopter parents trying to prep children too early and too aggressively for college, a northern-Virginia trend I fight hard to beat down.
  2. Would actually teach her about architecture and she would love it and then I’d have multiple people in the family who want to ‘appreciate and explore’ architecture. MI doesn’t need a partner in that crime.

After just one fourth-grade demo, though, I was completely on board. It was amazing to watch 8 year-old kids making scale models of Fort James on design software to complement a social studies project. I felt proud–if obsolete–to be raising, driving, and providing snacks to such geniuses. I now look forward to the future house Ella will design for me on her island.

Then I went to the demo of technology in storytelling–in Ella’s class!  She was so excited and reminded me beforehand to “remember my smartphone!” (I figured she wanted to star in lots of pictures and I was ready to snap away. Nope.) The demo included a project by each kindergartener where they had used a computer drawing program to illustrate the story of the Three Little Pigs. The children each recorded themselves narrating the story and then they pulled everything together into a video. I needed my smartphone to scan the QR code to pull up her specific project. After I hunted around the Google Play store for a QR reader ap, which I had not used before, I was ready to watch:

So, wow, right? I shared the link with my family (saving well over two dollars in postage, since you used to have to mail such things) and then had a few good laughs with my brother and sister about how we used to make dioramas in shoe boxes and I once won a state-wide prize for building a model that used parts from a toilet.

This is kindergarten education now, huh? Well, I am not backing away, afraid. (Why would you even think that?) The art showcase was school’s shot across the bow. And I will prepare. I am downloading apps. I am going to start reading all the fliers that come home (sorry, dear teachers, that we missed the one about recommended costumes for today’s 100th day of school festivities. Just saw that. . . Don’t worry, I recycled it.) And I am thinking of enrolling myself in the new STEM preschool that just opened in my neighborhood so that I can keep up.


 Time to step up art with Mom:

The time we took a piece of yellow paper and. . . painted it blue.
A tribute to the time we took a piece of yellow paper and… painted it blue.

Algorithms aren’t funny

Apparently math has a minimal sense of irony. That’ll teach me to do sarcastic research affiliated with my own account.

Last week I started pulling together information for a blog entry on a topic of great importance to me: workout attire. My initial ideas for the post were inspired by this insightful Redbook article, “How to Wear Workout Gear All Day.” I read the article, intrigued because I had previously thought that there was just one way to wear workout gear all day: put workout gear on in the morning and then. . . don’t change. Boom: workout gear all day.

Turns out, it was advice on how to ‘style’ workout clothing like real clothes. But, in my humble, finely-honed-and-generally-correct opinion, the advice was ridiculous. Like, ‘wear leggings with a sweater.’ OMG, finally good news on this! Someone should tell high school girls they can wear leggings all the time like pants. I anticipate that trend will be BIG. And universally flattering. ‘Wearing tennis shoes with whatever you want’–did you know that worked?! Pause for a minute to think of your growing wardrobe and how you can jump next to your toddler as he scooters way more comfortably than you would have in your heels. And I assert that an Anorak is neither a workout item, nor a work item. Even if you cuff it asymmetrically.


So, with budding insights like these, I decided to create an alternate list of how NOT to wear workout clothes–a list I think we can all agree is more important. So I began research, looking for ideas and images of some of the worst, weirdest workout outfits, gear, and trends out there. I had a good start. Like:

1. Cropped workout sweatshirts and long-sleeve shirtsReebok crop. Now, I liked cropped shirts as much as the next person: hardly at all. This is not ok, amIright? How often do you need to wear long sleeves but nothing on your stomach? Never, workout warriors. Never.

2. The other side of leggings: those paired post workout with a top that doesn’t cover your rear. Buzzfeed tried to help with the “Am I Wearing Pants?” flow chart, but a lot more education needs to be done on this topic. Learn the rules. Tell your friends.

3. Underwear as outerwear. Think of it as the slip dress of Crossfit. Like this, which is good for skiing under two other layers. But not by itself. Repeat after me: this is not a shirt. This is not a shirt.

4. Mesh: this is the new hotness in workout catalogs “to keep you cool.” Ok, with some of them that have venting in the back or knee or underarm. But companies have, as often happens, misapplied the trend and lost track of what we are trying to accomplish. This doesn’t keep you cool. Things like this and this keep creepy guys coming to group fitness classes and we need to work together to stop it right now.

5. Low crotch “jogger” pants. Fitness gear inspired by hoodlums of 1994.  Pass.  I like to be able to actually move in my workout gear. Plus, I think they are also called “harem” pants. Let’s reflect briefly on that as a society of empowered women.


I wanted *eight* things for my own list, though, to nicely parallel the Redbook article, so I ‘saved as draft’ and went to conduct more field observations at the gym. But before I could make any substantial breakthroughs, though, the magical internet advertising algorithms saw my browse history of unfortunate-looking fitness apparel and revved up its efforts to sell it to me.

So, I still don’t have items 6-8 for my list (feel free to propose in comments below, if you do!) but I see at least one ad at all times that would allow me–usually with free shipping!–to become my own worst dressed list.

Apparently math has a minimal sense of irony. That’ll teach me to do sarcastic research affiliated with my own account. I will be sure, in the future, to use MI’s persona. Just like I did back in 2013 when I needed to learn what “twerking” was (thinking of his ensuing months of article suggestions still makes me giggle).

Lessons learned. Go out there and wear your workout clothes.

Miley-Cyrus twerking day