Monday, December 21, 2009

feelin stitchy

This is my four yr. old. Not only has he been obsessed with dusting and wiping down the house constantly, he is also into embroidery. I was inspired by Red Bird Craft's post about embroidering with youngsters. Thanks again to Laura for the fabric samples. In lieu of embroidering cotton, we used a beautiful heavy duck in a lovely color. I drew a simple flower in pencil. Ezra picked some bright shades of floss and meticulously followed the lines I drew. Then he wrote his name in pencil and I meticulously followed his lines...OH, and yes those are shorts he is wearing. He wears shorts inside. With teeshirts. In the Winter. Because he is "cumfturble" that way. And we keep our thermostat at 60%. But as long as he puts pants on to go outside in December, I am not fightin it.

Now we are off to pack the car for an early morning trip. Finger Lakes, here we come!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

craft catch-up

I think if I had had two cups of coffee and was armed with ample duct tape I coulda been a contender in the helmet making arena. Alas, I only had masking tape and foil and Matty is careful to drink the rest of the pot after I have had my one cup of joe.
Espresso with cocoa and homemade marshmallows, essential for afternoon crafting.
Yesterday, while sipping the above beverage of the Gods, the boys and I made snowflakes using Martha's method of dissolving 3tbs of borax per 1 cup of water and then submerging some fuzzy pipe cleaner snowflakes in the solution for a few hours. We were surprised how quickly they crystallized. Every half hour or so the kids would peek at them to see if they had "grown".

I have been working on birds for a few weeks now. I am using the gorgeous wool samples that Laura gave me from her workplace. It is so much fun to work with high quality wool felt. I normally would have to settle for the cheap poly stuff. The colors of the wool are so subtle and gorgeous. Thanks Laura....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

sweet pillows of love

Oor marshmallows as we like to call them in this house....
n Friday, Ez and I made these delectable confections. Last year I infused them with peppermint oil. This year I just wanted vanilla but it turns out that they were destined for a dip in semi sweet chocolate and a sprinkling of lovely white nonpareils. We listened to Christmas oldies (Ella, Louis, Frank) while we mixed the sugary gelatinous mixture and then I played the Beatles later while dipping them. Ez did not take part in the dipping, he couldn't even stop himself from licking the confectioners sugar off the table so he was banned from the kitchen during this process. I always use Martha's recipe for marshmallows but there are tons out there.
Friday was a lot of fun for Ez and I, it seemed like the first Friday in ages when I had no papers due and not even preschool curriculum to think about. We wrestled ( it was too cold to go outside), we danced to Rihanna's new album (save the racier songs, and I always make sure to sing really loud over any naughty words). Rihanna has joined the boys "Favorite music" lexicon with Queen, Ratatat, Michael Jackson and a few others. And we made a train city with his tracks. AND when Matty came home home from an overnight in Boston, I got the hell outta Dodge and went to the store to get dish detergent and a new teapot (we seem to burn ours every year, long story), which somehow took me two hours!! This story is getting pretty boring so I'll stop here. I am just really happy to have a break and I am looking forward to going home and spending time with family.

P.S Auntie Michaela, if you want to make these when we come home, let me know. We can make it happen.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Seasonal Crafts so far...

The kids made these wreaths from the paper from a Campmore catalog. I can't find the link to the tutorial page right now but I will post it soon...found it

The boys and I made these British Royal nutcaracker/soldiers yesterday, in between icing Ezzies swollen arm* and writing my last paper! Next year we might just make the Jackson Five...And no, that dude is not supposed to be Hitler. I was going for Charlie Chaplin.
Ezzie wasn't having the Anglo interpretation.....He wanted his soldiers to have a "wild" vibe...

I remember first seeing these as a kid. My nana and aunts made them for our tree. I have always wanted to make more. All we did was paint some of those doll pins and glue a black pom pom on top. We used a sharpie for the faces. Henry was begging to do it all day and I was trying to put it off until I was done with school, but I could deal no more with his whining. I secretly sipped eggnog (where the hell is the Rum when you need it?) and played some Christmas oldies while the boys went nuts making their soldiers. Ez. was most excited about making swords for them.

* Ezra had a pretty bad reaction to his vaccine and I slept with him all weekend, woke up at midnight to give him Ibuprofin and Benadryl. It was awful. We went to the doctors twice. He is just fine but part of his arm resembles a..., well I can't even say. It is very swollen. It should start going down soon. I didn't tell anyone cause sometimes I worry more if I even talk about such things.

Up next... MARSHMALLOWS .....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

our classroom

Here are some photos of a special place where I spend a significant amount of time. I love our preschool. It is a school community that I am proud to be a part of. What I forgot to photograph was our beautiful atelier; our light-filled art studio that fosters our creative impulses with its bright windows and open shelves brimming with carefully displayed art supplies.

I also didn't include our tidy little kitchen, room 4 (currently empty of students due to low enrollment), our entryway where the children hang their coats and our yard.

At Renaissance, we are passionate about the Reggio method. We document the children while they work, we listen to them and follow their cues for themes and lesson plans and we focus on art, art, art.

The school is a community of equally important members; parents, students, instructors and the classroom are all teachers. Mutual respect and the knowledge that we all have something to teach each other are important elements of our program.

It is wonderful to work in a place where art and creativity are held in such high esteem.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's I mean, I'M ALIVE

Yes, I am. I finished the most dreaded paper yesterday and now have a bit smaller, much less worrisome list of things to do. Oh, and my kids have been swept up by their nana and brought to NY where they can bathe in the warmth of familial love from both sides of the family and remember that not all adults have laptops, books and rollerball pens as appendages. I miss them so much. I have never gone so long without kissing Ezzies plump cheeks and being squeezed by Henry's stronger and stronger hugs.

But, if they were here, I would be doing my best to ignore them and I wouldn't have had the time to go to Pintus with Curt and Maggie, to eat some yummy Indian food and be serenaded by a hot chick doing "the snake" and "shut the door", sheesh.

And when my eyes are burning from the glow of the screen and my brain feels a tad mushy, I need some down time. I make yo yos.

I have neglected posting for a while and so I did not post about the wonderful craft night at my friend Kim's the other week. Helen was there, knitting. And some unfamiliar faces showed up too. We got to watch a new friend spin dog hair into yarn. NO kidding. We drank vino, ate cookies, listened to soothing stories and swapped crafting, momming, parenting stories for a few hours. Great fun. That was when I started making the yo-yos. I hadn't been doing any crafting at all and yo-yo making requires very little: a needle, thread, small scraps of fabric, scissors and a circle template. It's sort of fun. They are so cute.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A pencil case and a theme song, or two

Thanks Mama. I love my new pencil bag. Kaffe Fasset makes such loud and happy fabric. It makes me smile every time I catch a glimpse of it. And my big bag is so much more organized.

It's no surprise that gospel songs make some of the best personal theme songs. Here are two songs that pop into my head when I am trying to calm down and not worry for crying out loud.

#1 and #2 ( I do love Bruce but I prefer Neko Case's version but couldn't find it...)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Molly's Blog

My sister Molly is an extraordinarily talented artist. I will say no more. Check out her new blog- Works by M.E. Carlisle...p.s she does commission work...

Monday, November 2, 2009

just imagine

So, just imagine a gal who likes to cook, and sew and knit (rather poorly), read novel after novel, grow vegetables and flowers, teach young kids, sing, play with her kids, hang out the laundry, paint, draw, sing some more. Just imagine that this same girl (seriously) can't tell her left from her right, can't ever remember a single number if it is more than 3 digits long, gets lost in any building with more than two corridors (especially if the color theme is beige), and had panic attacks in Math class since 10th grade. Imagine that this girl has to write a paper comparing legislation and regulation for her policy class. Imagine her blowing her nose on a hanky, drinking her throat coat tea and wrinkling up her face because she suddenly is convinced she has been writing her paper in a circle. Is it possible? She doesn't even know. She has never been very good with directions. But if you have ever taken a peek at regulations and statutes there are lots of numbers and letters and when they run out of those they start doubling and tripling them and using lower case and Roman numerals. And there are subsections that refer to even more subsections. It is absolutely brilliant.

I feel like Alice. In Wonderland or maybe even from Gertrude Stein's novel. Either would do.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a book and some bubbling 'strone

For my Literacy for LD class, I am tutoring a teen who has ADHD. Mostly we are working on reading comprehension skills, which you can imagine are tough for someone who has trouble focusing. We meet twice weekly and we discuss a book we are reading: Kristin Cashore's Graceling. It has been so much fun to see her warm up to this book. At first I was only having her work on elements that she could pull straight from the text but she has been making some really thoughtful inferences. I love this book. It is a Fantasy about a young girl who has a grace or uncanny skill. I won't spoil it by telling you what it is but I will say that she is a strong, confident, intelligent, female character within an adventurous story that has some real depth to it. It's a book I want my boys to read in a few years and I would definitely foist it on any daughter of mine. Oh yeah, and it's a Harcourt book so I got a free copy from Amy.

Today I am home with two sick kids. Ezra has a tiny cough and Henry has been battling a fever and cough for a few days now (no swine flu I am pretty sure). I have a ton of work to do, but I am trying to concentrate (except for a bit of therapeutic blogging) on the kids and domestic stuff. Thus the low sugar, high fiber oatmeal cookies and minestrone soup made with a bushel of garlic, oh and laundry, a bathtub full.

Right now the boys are drinking their tea (Ezra's current fave is Twinings Chamomile -Apple, Henry prefers Twinings Lemon-Ginger), eating popcorn and watching Curious George.

The sky is gray and drippy. Soup is bubbling on the stove and for the moment, everything is peaceful.

Mark Bittman's Minestrone, from How to Cook everything Vegetarian

1/4 c. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 1/2 -2 cups hard veg. such as potato, squash, turnips diced
salt and pepper
6 cups stock
1 cup cored peeled and seeded chopped tomato or canned
1 1/2 cup soft veg, such as green beans, zuchinni, cooked dried beans, kale etc.
parmesan rind cut into tiny pieces
1/2 c. chopped parsley

saute carrots , onions, celery in oil.
add hard veg., parmesan, salt, pepper, stock and tomato bring to a boil until veg is soft.
add soft veg. and parsley, simmer until very tender
adjust seasoning

So simple, easy and special, especially when every vegetable is local, except for the enormous Quaker potatoes the in-laws brought from Dill's garden in the Finger Lakes.

the real heroes

Yesterday I dragged Ezra with me to a rally in downtown Amherst, in the dark rain. Okay, so I did not have to drag him, lately he wants to go wherever I go, even if I say it's a boring meeting. There were about 30-40 other people there, some with kids in tow, many Spanish speaking. Professors, restaurant workers, moms, dads, students. All of us trying to stand up for the most vulnerable among us: the minorities, the low income, the kids. For some reason, and in the name of anti-segregation, the town board with support from many townspeople who are mainly white and seriously privileged, thinks that bussing the kids who receive free or reduced lunches around to disburse them more equally will somehow create equity.

These people do not understand the meaning of equity. Equity does not always mean THE SAME FOR EVERYBODY and clustering is not segregation. Minorities or non-English speakers or low income children, can benefit from being in a community with more of the same. If a town has a large population of Cambodians, placing them in the same school can allow that school to specialize in their language and culture and those children and their families will benefit from that specialization. It goes the same for any group of people. The town board is basing their decision on one study of a population of urban minorities and how they benefited from being placed in a suburban school system. This comparison is ridiculous and huge decisions like this cannot be based solely on ONE STUDY. That is ludicrous. Can I scream now?

How can these educated people call this segregation? How will my children benefit from being moved out of a top performing elementary school in their own community and being BUSSED to a school filled with privileged kids from the other side of town?

Somehow, I feel that if the privileged kids had to be bussed, the town would be in an uproar.

So, after this rally I had a half hour before my tutoring session with this young girl with ADHD. And then I had work to do. So, I did not have a lot of time and energy for an Ezra fit, But he had plenty of time and energy for one.

And so I missed the important meeting after the rally. And I felt so horrible. But I felt stretched to the limits.

AND I just want to thank all of the people out there who have everything stacked against them: socioeconomic status, race, class, single parenthood, lactose intolerance etc. and who still manage to go to a rally, got to a mtg. get out there and make their voices heard. They are the real heroes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

protest tomorrow...

Last Spring I did some very emotional posting about Henry's school closing.

The fight for Marks Meadow, our beloved school is not over!!!!

Join us!!!!

We Need YOUR SUPPORT and VOICE this Coming Tuesday!

PLEASE JOIN US This Coming TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27th, 2009 @ 4pm at The Amherst Commons.

We are organizing a MARCH TO PROTEST the Amherst Schools Committee’s Plan to REDISTRICT our elementary schoolsand the closing of Marks Meadow. The School Committee’s decision DOES NOT REFLECT THE NEEDS OF OUR CHILDREN nor their communities. We believe their plan will be harmful and divisive to the multicultural fabric of our town. We believe this plan will create animosity between those that struggle economically and those of a more privileged community. We don’t feel it is FAIR to bus children to new schools within the Amherst School system just because they qualify for FREE OR REDUCED LUNCH. Furthermore, we are not convinced that moving our children to new schools will improve the quality of their education. We feel that FORCED BUSSING OF LOW INCOME, MULTICULTURAL/ MULTILINGUAL CHILDREN IS OFFENSIVE.

We feel that those School Committee members that want to speak about
EQUITY should bring plans WITH MULTIPLE STUDIES OF TESTED RESULTS to improve the education of our children. They are basing their idea of redistricting on only one study. We do not think that dispersing children who qualify for free or reduced lunch and/or are multicultural/multilingual into more affluent schools will improve MCAS scores or their abilities to learn. On the contrary, the School Committee’s Redistricting Plan will isolate our children and their communities from the support they need.

We support the philosophy that children thrive in elementary schools that provide supportive environments in close proximity to their neighborhoods and families. We object to the comments made by a School Committee member on October 22nd, 2009, stating that Amherst did not need Marks Meadow and that he would have closed it “even if there was one million dollars to keep it open.” We disagree with his comments that “the money could be spent more wisely in other projects.” We feel that each of the elementary schools in the town of Amherst has a special relationship with the various communities they represent. To close Marks Meadow will be a severe blow to the communities and neighborhoods that make up North Amherst.

Please join us in supporting our children’s educational needs and our diverse community fabric this coming Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 @ 4pm at the Amherst Common.

NEED YOUR SUPPORT and VOICE in presenting our Grievances with the AMHERST SCHOOL Committee regarding their Committee’s Redistricting subcommittee plan. Please give us your VOICE and PRESENCE in ADDRESSING the needs of our CHILDREN. Their plan will sever the fabric of our multicultural community and isolate our children in their new placements. The School Committee’s plan to disperse the children who come from families who qualify for free and reduced lunch IS NOT in the best interest of those who are most vulnerable in our school system. The School Committee Redistricting plan WAS NOT created to address the academic needs of our children.

Sincerely yours in the struggle for our Children’s education..

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Work in Progress

This is a silhouette painting of our depressed fig tree. As soon as we bring it in in the Fall it begins to lose leaves. In the Spring it perks up again.

I like to call anything I do a W.I.P, it really alleviates any pressure I might feel about getting it right the first time.

I went to Emily's Autumn potluck last night. Nicole was there too. Lots of kids were running around, there was pumpkin carving and home brew and lots of yummy food and it was so nice to meet some of Emily's other friends. I came home inspired to do something other than read legislation/research and articles on literacy development. So today while the kids were running in and out of the sunshine and playing with sticks, I broke out the acrylics. I layered three silhouettes in different colors on top of each other. I think the colorway with this babe is off. I can paint over it easily though.

P.S Watched "Cheri" last night, starring Michelle Pfieffer and Rupert "absolutely scrumptious" Friend. It was delightful.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

hodge podge mish mosh tchachke

Imade two cakes today. Two of mayamade's apple cakes.Totally scrumptious, despite the fact that I only had coarse sea salt and was too lazy to pulverize it completely and so some bites were a bit... um... salty.

I have calmed down a bit about Henry. His teacher and I have been emailing a lot and I think I have a better handle on how he is doing. And I think he will be okay?

I am accepting applications for live-in nanny positions for the month of November. The pay is nil, the room and board is pathetic but your reward is that when you move out in November your life will look so much more peaceful, easy and quiet.

This morning ezra had a superfit. One new word, that belongs to him is superfit. And it has little to do with cardiovascular health except that it does expend some energy. It was right before I left for work. It is so ironic that as I am fighting back guilty tears thinking of him and his superfit, I am holding someone else's 3-4 yr. old. Messed up. Luckily I can call his teachers and have them reassure me by telling me that they are going to cuddle with him in a rocking chair at nap time and that he is smiling and laughing as we speak.

Today I went to the Eric Carle museum. and saw some gorgeous original paintings, drawings etc. of Tomie DePaola's, whom I love. Which made me want to paint or make something. And so I made cake. With some chunks of coarse salt.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"me" time, tea time

Some days I get home from work and I just have to find some "me" time before I go to class. Crazy right? Handwashing things like silk scarves and newly thrifted vintage aprons is relaxing to me. Don't start getting nutty and envisioning me with a washboard and bloody knuckles. The warm sudsy water, scented with peppermint dr. bronners and the quiet ticking of the clock is somehow quite soothing to me. And it is just the thing I need to do between wiping snotty noses, soothing tears, breaking up sandbox fights and reading about how to document experimental control for multiple baseline designs with three or more data series before my methods class.

Oh, and I can't leave out sipping an enormous cup of that delicious, slightly smoky, Darjeeling tea that Lalitha brought me from India. Perfect.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

just sayin...

The energy which makes a child hard to manage is the energy which later makes him a manager of life.
-Henry Ward Beecher

So, yeah, this is gonna be my motto. Just because it makes me feel so much better inside. Honestly, right now I don't care if it is a load of horse $%^&.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

therapy scarves

White linen that I plan to draw on and blue homespun

This morning Henry crawled into bed with me and whispered that he didn't want to go school anymore, it was too hard. Sometimes his teacher gives him a mean look because he can't pay attention and he tries so hard to pay attention but it is so difficult. He says there is too much hard work.

Well, what do you think I thought about all day?

It is hard enough trying to convince myself that I did not do anything stupid while he was growing in the womb and that the 24 hours of labor and the 3 days of NNICU and all of that wasn't my fault. Maybe it isn't, maybe it is, but there is nothing I can do to change it. What really tortures me is that right now I don't know what to do. Is he doing okay in school? Are his teachers and therapists doing all they can to help him? Should we change his I.E.P? Should I try to send him to private school? Will his vision ever get better? Will reading ever be easy, and what about sports? Should we do more therapy? I don't know. All I can do is go online and read what research I can find. And guess. And guess.

And go to JoAnn fabrics, buy some yardage, tear it up into scarves and fray the edges. Because I don't have time to be any craftier than that.

In other, lighter news. we went to a really lovely wedding. And we went apple picking and saw lots of family this weekend....

I do not love this photo of me but the boys look cute.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

new shoes...

So cute right? AND I get to wear them with an equally pretty almost-retro, subtly satiny, chocolate brown, shirt dress with a slightly full skirt. Nearly Mad Men material. Pictures next weekend. And thanks to Helen for asking me to be her MAID OF HONOR....AND Amy for helping me shop via internet and cell phone pictures. I can't make any consumer decisions regarding what I wear without you...

There are moments (like right now) when I am sitting, sipping my coffee, early in the morning and trying my darndest to wrap my head around the details of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and IDEA and how they are different (Thank God for Charts) and I think to myself: Why can't I open up my tender little brain and carefully pull out all of those lyrics to songs from the 80's that I don't really need. Let's face it, Belinda Carlisle after the GoGos, sooo not necessary and Don Henley? Don't need 'em. "Boys of summer" is a fun song but really I will survive if it comes on the radio and I don't know all the lyrics and Matty might just enjoy the quiet. I would replace all the space that Simply Red and Corey Hart and...(okay I will keep Duran Duran and Depeche Mode and Prince and OMD), I would replace it with stuff I want to remember now. What The Hell happened to my brain anyway?

This weekend I got very little done homework-wise. But, I did go out with two g-friends and I bought a pair of cute shoes that I honestly needed for a wedding. I might've worn my clogs if I wasn't actually IN the wedding...AND later today we have the choice of going to a garlic festival or apple picking. And really soon I am going to go back to reading. My saving grace in the reading department (which I am failing in right now) Is that I have jury duty tomorrow and I have heard that I will probably have some time to read then?

Friday, October 2, 2009


Drawing Courtesy Of Molly, Divine Miss M. Carlisle

This is Velma.
She wants you to enjoy your weekend.
She thinks you should probably make some soup.
Go apple picking.
Spend time with your children.
Sit down and draw some monsters with them and cover the kitchen wall with creepy pictures.
She thinks you should rethink your ambivalence concerning scented candles, they can be sort of cozy.
If you find the right, light scent.
Drink some hot spiced tea.
Bake some cornbread and make a pot of chili.
Ignore the rainy forecast. Go for that walk anyway.
Re-pot that houseplant, maybe it is a succulent, that is still sitting in a pathetic green plastic container.

In case you haven't guessed that is what my weekend looks like, except I will also be reading a lot of stuff for school and working on a paper.

Happy Weekend!


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