Sunday, September 16, 2012

Art on the Walls...

Needs more in the way of coziness...suggestions please. 

A week ago, I was staring at my new blank walls and wanting something fresh to hang up. Not having much in the way of funds, I thought I might make something. Not having much in the way of creative energy, I thought I might copy something. Googling, "line drawings Picasso", led me to this East  Asian design . I did not project it but looked at it a bit as I drew with pencil on heavy watercolor paper. It's  a circular design of flowers, leaves and buds. The great thing about it is that it can be colored if I get tired of the black and white. It could be a bit of a hanging work-in-progress. I like the idea of art hanging on the walls and changing/evolving. I like the idea that it is something to look at and something to do.

In other news, the boys have made two new friends in our little neighborhood. The boys seem to be coping well with the new schedule and other changes in their lives.

And back to the subject of art, I bought a beautiful original framed work from my friend, the artist- Kim Carlino , while at her art opening. It is a small watercolor from her Cosmos series. And I went to my other friend, Emily Neuberger's book signing and scored a signed copy of her new book, "Show Me a Story", which, incidentally just won the Dr. Toy Best of 2012 award.

I feel blessed. In friends. In family. In work. Thanks.

Monday, August 27, 2012

P.S- New Digs

In the spirit of positive thinking-

best things about the new dwelling

hiking trails everywhere you turn, perfect for my trail running habit
close to my new job (less than 2 miles close)
close to boys' school
close to boys' dad
almost too much space
washer and dryer in my own basement
car port (no crazy ice-scraping!!! Yipppeee!!!)
lovely kitchen!!!

And yes, my new couch is purple. So there. 

The Fair, Modern Family Style

I took the boys to the fair. An old timey country fair in one of the hilltowns. We went with my mom. And the boyfriend and his daughter. And the ex and his girlfriend. Yes, folks. We did.

I started a post a week ago about how hard it is. All of this. The separation, the changing schedules, the flux, the monitoring of feelings. How the older one has been a bit more sensitive than his already sensitive self, how the younger one has been a bit more angry than his spitfire self. How that hurts me. Because usually, as a parent we get to shield our kids from so many of life's bruises. And to be the partial cause of the anguish, well, it sucks. I have this pain in my chest so often now. And it is this messy amalgam of sadness, anxiety, mourning, and tenderness.

I did not finish that post because I am persevering to be positive. I am trying to be forgiving with myself.  I couldn't bear to publish a post that did not have a positive bent. Not now, when everything has been so difficult- moving, new job, separation etc. I know it is important to be in the moment, to let the sadness wash over you, to feel it. I do that plenty. It is hard to do that. And yet isn't it equally challenging to find the light? So, here is the light.

We were invited to go to the fair by my boyfriend. And because the boys' dad also wanted to take the boys to the fair, I said, why not join us. And he brought his girlfriend, whom the boys love.  And it was in front of the antique cars that my sweet Henry said softly that he wanted us to stay together. Instead of splitting up for an hour like I gently posed. And so we did. We shared lemonade. The dads chatted about how rickety the machines were. The mom and the gf talked about work, being in the same field. Lemonade was sipped, rides were rode, 4 horned goats were patted. It was natural. It was pretty easy, surprisingly so.   

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Minnow Fishing

       Curwood Castle

I wish I could offer a clear headed, orderly guide to searching for the perfect abode. I can't. Finding and securing an apt. in this area is akin to trying to grasp a blue minnow in a shimmering pool of mostly blue-green minnows while wearing rubber gloves.

If I had to come up with some rules... these are what they would be. I know they are useless. Sorry.

1. Forget perfect.

Perfect for us location-wise would be a place that is close to our closest friends, my place of work, their school and that place does not exist. Perfect would be a house with running/hiking trails in the back and a sidewalk that leads to the library. Perfect would be a place where I could have chickens and, on lonely nights when my kids are with their dad, perfect would be a place where I could walk two blocks and be at a girlfriend's house. Perfect does not exist. Forget Perfect.

2. Get a Raise.

Rent is steep here. Alps steep. No wonder why there are so many homeless people around Western Mass. steep. A couple weeks ago. I was in the waiting room at the docs (about to find out that I need pt for a weak/strained periformous muscle aka- weak arse, which is apparently common with runners which made me feel good bc my doc called me a runner) and I was thinking about my budget. I was feeling a bit sick thinking about trying to pay for rent, utilities, loans, car payments, insurance, cell phone, food, gas and miscelleny on my piddly salary. I was trying to think of what I could do to make more money.  I was planning on asking for a raise. But I knew it was unlikely to get me far. Little did I know, that  a few days later I would be offered a job. A job with a pretty serious salary increase. It's not like I am going to trade my economy car in for an SUV and start wearing Manolo Blahniks, but I will be able to buy insurance for my kids. And we won't be living on peanut butter and popcorn.

3. Weigh the possibilities

The boys need space. They are active outdoor kids and I love that about them. I don't love the probable lyme disease that we are currently treating for Ez. But I love that they spend most of their time outside. I love that their knees are skinned and they are dirty until winter. Most city apt.s don't have the space my kids need. But my kids also want a cat and many country apt.s don't offer that option. Can we happily live in a city apt. that is a block from the YMCA and a huge park if we have a cat? Can we live in a country apt. that has gobs of space outside but no neighbors and no little critter for the kids to love? YEGADS. They voted for city with a cat. I made no promises.

4. Ya get what ya get.

And you try not to to get upset. I have applied for two apt.s now. I did not get the first one. I may not get the second one. Neither one was perfect, see #1. I am trying not to be too attached to the second apt. I applied for. I have not heard yet. It is a 25 minute drive to their school. It is close to friends. The yard is a postage stamp (with blueberries) but it is a hop to the Y and a great park and it is on a dead end street. We can have a cat.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Bullet Train and Other Things I Have Been Doing...

1. Loving My Job- Recently I described my job as the experience of getting on a bullet train on Monday morning and being spit out on Friday. I don't love the frenetic pace. I miss my own children but overall I love what I do. For real. I love working with my kids. I think about my students all of the time. I want to be the best teacher. I want to make a difference and I think I do. A tiny one. I am constantly thinking about how to be a better teacher. I have such deep empathy for what some of them have seen and lived through. 
It's a challenge and I like it, mostly. I feel like I am constantly weaving in and out of disequilibrium. Feeling one minute like, "Yes, I get this. I can do this." and the next moment trying to figure out what is going on and how to solve a new set of problems. I am getting better at enjoying this process. But I do have pleasant thoughts about one day knowing exactly what to do and how to do it every single time. Though I know that is not quite possible! 
I also love the people I work with. I have never been surrounded by so many YES! people. So many people who spend such an enormous volume of time, helping, caring, being positive, being that essential, bright, shiny light in so many people's lives.  I love it. The support is somewhat akin to my experience at a women's college. Only when I was in college I felt a little bit on the fringe and I don't anymore. 

2. Running- I started running in January around the same time I started my job. I needed to exercise. I needed it to be cheap and convenient. I now run at least 3 times a week for 40 minutes. I feel so good.  A good portion of my run is on a trail near a pond and it is beautiful and serene. I am convinced that this is essential for my sanity. I even run in Springfield after work.  At a park.  With a coworker. It's safe mom, don't worry.  

3. Getting excited about my mandolin. And thinking a lot about playing it. Regularly. Real soon. 

4. Looking for apartments. Which is turning out to be very depressing. I realized the other day that every time I find one that looks lovely but is unaffordable, I feel a bit rejected. As in, "This apartment is so great, it's lovely. I'd be comfortable here. But, nope, it was meant for someone else. Someone who has more money." And goshdarnnit. I worked my butt of to get where I am. I have a degree. A license. A real job. Debt.  And it's hard to find a rental that I can afford.  And they go fast here.  Superfast. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

i cried at work

It happens. It especially happens to teachers. So I don't feel wimpy or pathetic.

I was at work the other day, sitting in my little nook. The nook where I sit with kids and try to help them catch up their peers in their literacy and math skills. No easy feat. Especially when a lot of these kiddos have a lot going on. And by a lot going on I mean, poverty, P.T.S.D, Specific Learning Disabilities, domestic violence, hunger, ADHD, Autism, neurological disabilities etc. Sometimes they don't want to de students. How can you blame them? And, what do you do then? I don't know. I have no magic answer. But I sometimes feel like I should.

And I also feel a little tired and guilty for not seeing my kids as much. And sometimes I even feel a little lonely.

So I was in my nook. Not imagining that there were tears that needed to come out. Sitting in a tiny chair surrounded by papers. And Rosaria poked her head in. Rosaria is a voluptuous, beautiful,  Puerto Rican 5th grade Sp.Ed teacher who tells it like it is. Rosaria, or mama, as we call her, delivered her first hug and kiss to me on my first day of work. She calls me mamita (little mama)  and on this particular morning she said I looked like a gift  (because my blouse had a bow on it). She asked me how I was, in her extremely thick Puerto Rican accent. I said I was fine. And at that same moment I realized I was lying and I choked out, "Actually, I'm not .." before I burst into tears. At first Rosaria said, "No, none of that mamita." Then, when she realized these were earnest tears, she swept me up into her perfumed, glistening-with-bling, bosom and brought me into her room.

She asked me what my biggest problem was. We started with that and then she listened as I told her all of my problems/concerns, professional and personal. She listened. She gave me practical advice. And then she told me her story.  Which, duh, was way more dramatic and rife with serious problems than mine. Though she didn't tell me to make me feel like mine were less.

I left that room feeling abluted and calm.

It was good.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Meet my next Boyfriend.

Ah, James.  I knew you'd see the light eventually.

Just kidding. Unfortunately.

I am not going to date for awhile. I actually went on a few dates with a friend of  a friend recently. He was nice, smart, cute, etc. but with a new job I don't have time for it. And I don't have the emotional energy for it either.

So I am going to focus on teaching and mothering and yes, playing the mandolin. I don't have time for lessons but I will start this Spring or Summer. And before taking a few lessons I will treat myself to a lovely mandolin when I get my first paycheck. Nothing fancy but I have had my eye on a vintage resonator model at our local music shop for a few months now....This is not it but it might be close.    

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Pinned Image
Image from Ludmila Crigan-Mihajlovic via Lindsey Fowler

It almost seems to early to be saying this. It has only been three days. However, the days have not been easy and I have had a real taste of what my job is going to be like day in, day out, and so I feel like I can say with some confidence, that Allelujah ! I love it.

I am also completely OVERWHELMED.

And a little SCARED.



What do I love about it?

First of all, the kids. I  currently have ten kids on my caseload, 3 Kindergartners and 7 third graders, but it is growing.  They are all children of color, mostly African American but with a few Latinos/ Latinas. They are affectionate, super bright, full of personality kiddos. All of their challenges and strengths are different and getting to know them has been so much fun. I get hugs!!!

The teachers and staff in the school have been incredibly supportive and encouraging. I have spent the first week trying to gauge what they need from me, what works best for different teachers etc. They all seem to be very flexible and easy to work with.

The commute is not ideal (40+ minutes and sometimes heavy urban traffic) but absolutely doable.

The feeling of having worked for two and a half years on something that was stressful and challenging but that ultimately led to me getting a meaningful job that I enjoy and that I feel is so important and that "pays in money", as Ezra likes to put it, is an incredible feeling.

Thank you to all my friends and family who gave me any support be it in the form of a hug, a listening ear,  a word of encouragement etc.

I feel so grateful.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Better Brekky for the New Year...

Today, I squeezed orange juice for my kids. They ate it with peanut butter toast. Henry had a fried egg with cholula hot sauce on it and more toast to sop up the runny yolks. Ezra had a side of plain yogurt with a drizzling of maple syrup. For me, it was water, coffee, egg with hot sauce and toast.  I always start my day with a a big glass of about 20 ounces of water.
Often we have cold cereal. Or oatmeal. Though Ezra has yogurt almost every day. He is not a big breakfast eater.

Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Get the pdf for this nifty breakfast flow chart here.

As well as thinking about breakfast, I have been thinking a bit about getting my own place. In a few months I will have hopefully saved up enough for a bitty apt. My dream apt. is half of an old house, in the country, with woods and fields for the boys to romp in. We would be allowed a dog or a cat. We would be allowed chickens. Rent would be less than $900. No carpets. Two floors. Lots of southern exposure. It is a bit of a dream but I think it is possible.

In the meantime, I think about sofas. I am actually quite bipolar when it comes to sofa preference.

If I had a zillion dollars. I would be purchasing a tufted or otherwise beautiful anthropologie sofa in the next year...

But it is more likely to be Raymour and Flanagan or IKEA for me...


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