Thursday, March 28, 2013

Revisiting My Past

It is always interesting to go back to somewhere you have lived before.  As an Army Brat, I've lived all over the world - and I've had mixed experiences returning to those places - one key seems to be the distance in time since I lived in that spot.

I lived on a small Army Post in Germany for my seventh and eighth grade years.  My dad was the commander of this post, and with that came a certain amount of notoriety.  I couldn't sneeze without my mom getting a phone call from someone in this tight-knit community.  I loved this assignment - it was full of unique experiences that remain memorable and important as I reflect on those years.  One year after I moved, I returned to Germany as an oper for a German family we knew.  I was thrilled to get the chance to go back and see my friends.  I decided I would surprise them, so I bicycled onto post one day - and no one blinked at all.  Well, ok, a couple of people asked the traditional questions, like, how are your parents? How do you like your new place back in the US?  But, I didn't reconnect with any of my old friends.  Some had moved, some weren't there, it just wasn't the same.  Army Brats are really expected to move on.  "You'll make new friends," the moms say. But, I fantasized a little (probably a lot) about returning.  Due to my being so devastated by all the change, I decided then and there that I could never go back to the important places that I've lived - and I have stuck with that, for the most part. 

On our way to Boston, however, my husband suggested we stop in Newport, Rhode Island to see this beautiful city.  I spent my tenth grade year here - after leaving Germany - and I have vague memories of the place.  We drove into the city of Newport, entranced by the bridges and water - and headed straight for the base where my family had lived for that one short year.  Fort Adams is still there - on the edge of the peninsula, protecting Narraganset Bay, it is beautifully situated - and today I thought, Wow - I lived in this beautiful setting?  Truly, it is stunning.  Leaving the fort and heading for lunch, we happened by my old high school - for me now just a collection of mental images: doing Rock Lobster at a dance - shooting at the target range with the ROTC drill team - taking the PSAT test. Revisiting this place was not agonizing - and the changes we found, of course, were to be expected after so many years.  I was glad we had taken the time to drive by and stop.

Being so far past those formative middle and high school years, as so many of you know, it is much easier to "go back" to where you have left, revisit old territory, and really enjoy it.  I was much to close to still living there when I returned to Germany - and that expectation that nothing would change, and of course it all did, would haunt me for a while.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lobster Dreaming

I'm thinking a lot about lobster!  Headed to Boston tomorrow with the little dancer, and all I can think about is getting as much of that crustacean as possible, and maybe bringing some home!  Something about the rarity of eating lobster makes me imagine that buttery, sweet, tender taste.  Yum.  Lobster Newburgh, Lobster salad, Lobster mac and cheese, plain old lobster dipped in butter, lobster roll (even the lobster rolls at McDonalds are excellent!), I'll eat lobster everyway I can get it this weekend.

I'll let you know how it is. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Parents are Great People!

I come from a large family - five kids - and as each of us partnered up, the family has grown.  Add 6 grandkids, and family gatherings take on a whole new decibel level.  So, what I have found is that at those family get-togethers you don't spend much quality time with any one person.  Instead, we have a whole lot of funtastic group time. The "other half's" fit in very well - and a good time is had by all. 

We haven't had a family gathering for a while.  Yesterday the texts began flying back and forth about who was bringing ham for Easter, scalloped potatoes, or the traditional bunny cake.  I realized that I was going to miss this year's Easter family gathering, as my little family will be at an Irish Dance competition for the weekend.  I'm so bummed - but I was especially disappointed as I wasn't going to see my mom and dad - who only live 5 miles away, but whom we rarely see. 

So, I invited mom and dad for dinner - it's unusual that it was just them and us - and we had a wonderful time.  It's really nice to spend time with your parents as an adult!  I need to commit to doing that more - they are great people. 

Monday, March 25, 2013


Came home from shopping and sat down to join my son and husband for the end of their movie, Live and Let Die.  I walked downstairs into the tv room with some trepidation, as the most recent James Bond movie I watched, Skyfall, was actually very scary - I found myself tonight considering just going to bed rather than joining in and being terrified and traumatized by all of the violence.  

We gave my son the whole Bond collection for his 16th birthday, and he has been watching them carefully in time order.   How lucky for me that tonight's move was this 70's classic with Paul and Linda McCartney singing the theme song.  The music was really pretty good - the movie, well...

The seventies were rough, even for James Bond!  We are so spoiled now - the quality of movies and the technology makes them so believable!  Watching this movie, perhaps filmed when the green screen was considered advanced technology, was almost painful.  Roger Moore still plays a handsome 007 and a very young and of course, beautiful, Jane Seymour debuted in this film, but, the rest of the film was so dated - I couldn't take it seriously (are we supposed to?).

I did go to bed with nightmares after Skyfall - there were some brutal scenes that lived on in my memory.  Happily, that is not the case with Live and Let Die, I'll sleep soundly tonight, only dreaming, perhaps a passing worry, that the cars might return to that low slung, gas guzzling look so popular in 1973. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Delicious Day

Today was my spring break.  Waking up late, I lolled around and read in bed for a while.  After finally getting up, a hot shower with U2 as the accompaniment set the stage for a mellow day.  Grabbing my book I headed down to the living room, and wonderful husband made a warming fire in the fireplace.  Finishing one book, I opened another.  For lunch I moved 10 feet into the kitchen for yummy lentil stew - then back to the living room.  Stomach full, I began to feel warm and content.  Watching my head bob was very entertaining for the family, but husband took pity on me, stretched out my legs, and covered me with a warm blanket.  After a lovely nap, I'm still here, in front of the fire, covered by the blanket, and I'm not going anywhere today.

Back to work tomorrow. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Fever

I spent five hours detailing my kitchen today.  I only got half of it really cleaned, but that half is sparkly.

Cleaning isn't my first choice of activity any day, but that is especially true on the first Saturday of spring break.  When I got home from breakfast I began picking up and putting away random items that had been dropped in the kitchen, then washed last night's dishes, then wiped down the counters.  I realized I was a more than a little committed when I had removed everything from the counter top and was spraying the back splash with cleaner.  Grease marks came off the walls, my collection of glass cruets were soaped and washed, and even the toaster oven got a shake down.  Everywhere I turned there was another place to remove dust, unidentified crusties, or a layer of grease. How could I have missed this mess for the last few months? 

I am sure this burst of energy and motivation is a product of spring.  The birds are building new nests, the buds on the trees are peeping through, and the fish in the pond on the deck are emerging from their winter stasis. It was still freezing when I woke - but the high today is supposed to be 55 degrees!   Emerging from the cocoon of winter has caused me to subconsciously re-examine my world and refresh my nest in preparation for the season change.    

Four windows and a glass door, washed inside and out, mean that I will be able to clearly see spring move into our neighborhood.  I'll save the other half of the kitchen for tomorrow!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Special Friends

I was lucky enough to enjoy an afternoon and evening with a wonderful friend.  After delivering my 8th grader and her best buddies to the mall, I was trapped there until our meeting time, four long hours later. My friend came by the mall and there the two of us explored interesting stores, tried on clothes, and verbally gnashed our way around this huge space.  It was very fun to imagine the parallels between my daughter's experiences with her friends and my experiences with mine.  We were in Macy's (Jones' of New York section) while they were in Forever 21, but the shared experience was delightful to imagine.  

So lucky to have girl friends to celebrate the beginning of spring break with! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Preaching to the Choir, My Apologies

I went on a field trip today with a group of sixth graders.  I really liked the trip and the students were super.  The trip was hands on, engaging, well-organized...everything, really that a teacher is looking for when planning an "outside of the classroom" learning experience for students. 

On the bus ride home I found myself mentally arguing with those teachers who really feel they can't afford to ever take a field trip because the students miss time in the classroom.  And, I can see their side - we have a finite amount of time to teach and ensure that students have learned content, we can't afford to miss any of that. 

This, unfortunately, exemplifies for me how the education system in the United States needs to be re-visioned.  Yes, we need more time in the classroom - especially as states continue to add more and more content to our plates; add time to the day (our kids get out of school at 2:24), and add time to the school year.    Also  we need to redefine our purpose in education - this argument against field trips is fueled by a standardized test given at the end of the year.  The data collected from those end of year tests is vital and important, but, isn't our purpose broader in education that teaching students to pass a/the test?  Shouldn't we be concerned about the application of what students are learning - and doesn't that often get taught on field trips? 

Today, our sixth graders applied the science that they have been learning (in an energy unit) to many different real-life situations, including measuring solar power, exploring insulation (conservation of energy), energy waste and efficiency using a bike converter, and cold blooded vs warm blooded animals and energy. 

Field trips really aren't about being memorable...although many students remember them well...they are about addressing content learned and applying that learning in real-world settings - that sounds much more realistic than a standardized testing situation. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Images from my day

Sixth grade lunch duty: moving into the cafeteria the noise level was incredible.  From the other side of the door one can only imagine the chaos, possibly even mortal combat, that is happening inside based on the noise level.  Once inside the door, the mouths and bodies of three hundred sixth graders, like the locusts of biblical proportions, are devouring all the food in their sight, all the while running their mouths at the highest possible decibel level. 

Costco trip, mid-day:  Dashing in to Costco, I had a short, very specific, list: cake for today's staff meeting and picture frames.  Heading down the right side of the store I went directly to the locations of the products I wanted - then, stupidly, I walked down the opposite side to get to the cashier.  I was trapped.  Everywhere I turned was a snack surrounded by a pack (might they be called a pride?  a gaggle?) of super-sized grocery carts.  Maneuvering around carts abandoned as the drivers sought snacks, I felt my inner Indy-driver come on.  I zipped and steered and got into the shortest Costco line!
Dinner with my daughter:  we picked up fast food.  I know, bad mom.  We picked up my chicken salad and her sandwich, dropped them in the car and ran into another store for a quick minute.  Getting into the car after few minutes we both groaned over the mouthwatering smell.  Yum.  Three hours later, I hopped into the car to pick up my son, and the smell was still could it smell kind of gross now?

Two more days till spring break.  We got this.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Breathing Fire

I own so many delicious books.  Some are just trashy novels, but they brought escape in their interesting setting and romantic plot lines. (I have shelves of those ones with covers that cause my mother to blush.) Many are historical fiction, combining my love of history with the draw of a good story.  One standing bookcase is filled with science fiction and fantasy.  The science fiction is mostly my husbands, but I read it as well.  The fantasy is mostly mine - and I love it.

Within my reach, as I sit here typing, are at least four fantasy novels about dragons:  Dragon Riders of Pern, the Anne McCaffrey classic, Eragon, by the young writer Christopher Paolini, Dragon Rider, by Cornelia Funke, and Victory of Eagles, one in the series by Naomi Novik about her Napoleonic dragon, Temeraire.  All of these novelists were brilliant at imagining the relationships between dragons and their riders and creating incredibly realistic worlds in which the dragons and humans co-exist.  I love the character that the writer's imbue their dragons with - ancient intelligence, whimsy and humor, and integrity - interestingly, most dragons i've read reflect those traits. 

Any other good dragons out there?

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Five Things I'd Save

Read a great article today about a woman who had to evacuate her home.  Fortunately, everything turned out ok, a battery in a carbon monoxide detector needed replacing, but during that short time that she was displaced her life flashed before her eyes, and she considered the five items she would grab next time that, in the event of catastrophe, she would be devastated to lose. That stimulated my thinking, so here are my five: 

The picture of my sister and I when we were very young.  Pictures can be digitized and saved, I know, but this one sat on my Foley grandparents' bedroom dresser, and it shows us both at the terribly cute, albeit chubby, toddler age.  The picture is a treasure, though, because it brings back memories of visiting my grandparents: playing gin rummy until late in the night; fooling around on Gramma Lillian's organ, my sister played the feet keys and I played the hand keys; and eating at fancy restaurants where the waiters and waitresses knew my grandparents' names and where we got to drink Shirley Temples with the grown-ups.  

A family ancestry book that my Murphy grandfather wrote years ago is full of stories of life in upstate New York in the late 1800's and early 1900's, and it's really our record of his history in his voice.  In this book Grandpa shares his feelings of excitement at seeing Halley's comet all those years ago, as well as tragic stories of our Irish forebears and the trials and tribulations of their immigration trips to the US.

My favorite book of all time, Green Darkness, written by Anya Seton, must be taken.  This novel, historical fiction woven together between two times, caught my imagination in high school, and I reread it regularly even now.  The actual book is tattered and torn, but a new one wouldn't be the same.  In reflection, the book represents something of my transition from youth to young adult. 

I have a beautiful wooden Intarsia box that my husband made for me early in our marriage.  It is a complex piece with a rose in the center and made of a wonderful collection of naturally grained and colored wood.  The time and effort he put into the delicately carved lid charmed me all those years ago, and still does.

Finally, I have put in a special box two tiny outfits that my daughter and son wore when they were small.  My son's is his two-year-old Halloween costume, Winne the Pooh, which he continued to wear for at least another year and a half.  The hood up, ears perkily attached, he would run around the house comfortable in his bones. The other outfit my daughter wore, a pair of blue striped leggings and a butterfly blouse that captured her uplifting and positive little personality so well.

It is awful to consider the possibility of having to leave your home so abruptly, but it has been interesting to consider what I would take in the eventuality.  I'm sure I'll change my mind in the next few days.  But for now, these are the things that I want to hold close.  What about you?   



Sunday, March 17, 2013

In Like a Lion?

I love the saying that March comes "in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb."  There is such rhythm and predictability in that wisdom passed down over time.  However, I've always wondered if it truly applied here; was it a proverb from the Ould Country, still covered in snow at the beginning of March, or perhaps one that applied to our more northern neighbor states, poor people, also still covered in snow? 

After years now of attending the DC St. Patrick's Day Parade, there is nothing I can say about the middle of March that has anything to do with rhythm and predictability.  For the last two years I've written about peeling clothes off during the parade and watching for sunburn - this year we endured the very cold and even saw a few tiny snow flakes. Other parade days have rained like the dickens. 

As a parade participant mom, this means I have to come prepared for all weather scenarios.  In addition to the black duct tape we put on to protect the soft leather dancing shoes, Irish Dance moms carry extra socks and bobby pins of course, extra layers to go on under dancing costumes, extra layers to go on over dancing costumes, clear plastic ponchos for rain protection, and sun tan lotion.  Today my daughter's costume was partially a black mesh.  Couldn't put anything under that for warmth; fortunately, when she finally began the parade, the dancing kept her warm.  We both are thankful that it didn't rain.  There is nothing more miserable than dancing down Constitution Avenue in a very cold, wet rain. 

Perhaps the lion part of March in DC refers to complete weather unpredictability!  I believe I am now looking forward to the lamb part of March!   

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Stiff Competition!

I don't have a hard time remembering what it was like to apply for my first teaching job, although it seems so long ago now.  I remember wondering what principal's were looking for, as well as wondering how I was supposed to be impressive having had pretty much zero teaching experience.  I remember having some strong opinions on teaching and learning - very much based on what had not worked for me as a student.  Today I had the opportunity to sit on the other side of the interview table as a "round two" interviewer at our school districts' job fair. 

Candidates who had been briefly screened by the round one interviewers and whose credentials met the district expectations were sent upstairs for a more detailed interview.  Typically this meant that they were very impressive and we wanted to make sure someone in our district got a chance to talk to them before another district grabbed them.  So - for five hours, twenty minutes each, I asked experienced and inexperienced teachers to talk to me about their philosophy of teaching as well as some specifics about how to best meet the needs of the children in their care. 

I was very impressed.  The competition was extremely tough - I'm sure I would not have made it to the second round twenty-some odd years ago!  Congratulations and best of luck to all 700 candidates that came by today.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Beware the Ides of March!  What a day - and how ironic that I proctored the National Latin Exam today!  Funny, wish I had remembered to say that!  Today was nowhere near as tragic as Caesar's Ides, but it was a little crazy.  Consequently, I'm thrilled to have spent the evening with a good friend and now I"m headed to bed, before work begins again on the morrow. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blog Statistics...Fascinating!

I'm becoming a little obsessed with my blog.  I only post during the Slice Challenge, so I love that I can look back to other March posts (in previous years) and see what was happening in my world.  What I'm finding a little eerie is how repetitive I am.  My apologies to those of you who have been reading the last few years and may have happened upon my posts.  I have (for years now) written about my daughter and Irish Dance, my sweet son, the weather, daylight savings time, and the challenge of losing weight (over and over again.)

What I'm a little obsessed about now has to do more with the data associated with my blog.  Only this year have I learned about the Blog Statistics page with Blogger. I. Love. It! I don't check my blog first anymore, I check the blog overview to see how many posts overall I've written and how many views that I have had.  Ruth and Stacey have written about how powerful comments are....well, let me tell you, they are incredibly motivating.  I love checking the number of comments, (of course, I love reading the comments), I love to see where my comments/viewers are from and I'm interested to see when any comments were posted, as I think that when I post might impact the number of people who comment.  The only thing I don't really get - help me out if you know - is why I care about the browsers of people who post and the operating system.  Although, I am intrigued that over 50% of people reading my blog post using an apple product (IPad, IPhone, or Mac). 

Bottom-line, I'm having fun posting this year, and part has been the data that comes along with it.  Can't say I'm using that data for earth-shaking stuff, but it sure helps my motivation!  Thanks all!  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Plumps When You Eat 'Em

My apologies to those I might offend with a graphic description, but here goes...full disclosure.  I haven't been exercising, at all, for the last four weeks.  After years, literally, of walking 3 miles every weekday morning, I haven't walked at all - and I'm beginning to feel really miserable, both about my looks and how I really feel. 

In fact, I have a pair of tights on tonight that I've worn all day, (warning:  this is the graphic part), to go with my slimming, mostly black outfit, and I feel like I'm a sausage over-stuffed, ready to explode. 

I cooked and served over one hundred all beef, Ball Park Franks for the kids in play practice last night.  Watching those wieners plump when I boiled them, and then split, literally burst down the side, when I grabbed them from the water with my handy tongs...I couldn't help but think, that's where my body is heading.  It is time to get back on the bandwagon - any bandwagon, except the present one!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I was careless, I was lazy, I screwed something up that wasn't mine to fix or throw away.  Funny how an experience like that can send you right back to your "middle-school" you.  My adrenaline pumps, my defensive reaction (is this such a big deal?) kicks in, and I get angry at the person who is not responding the way I would like.  I was downright snarky. 

Now, I must apologize for two things:  first, for messing something up; and second, for my negative, over the top reaction.  Still, inside, the grown-up me is arguing with the middle-school me.

"It was an accident; you didn't mean it; it's not a big deal," the middle-school voice whines, hoping to diffuse the situation.

"NO EXCUSES", the grown-up me argues.  "Anything you say could be considered an excuse, and there is no excuse for careless, lazy behavior that ends badly." 

This is when I wish life had a do-over button.  Wouldn't that be nice?  I'd use it now. 

Monday, March 11, 2013


He got a haircut on Saturday and came out of the salon pretty disappointed,  "It's short, Mom, way shorter than I wanted."  He spent the rest of the day avoiding the family and generally sulking. I get it, I'm kind of sensitive about my hair as well.  He managed to make it through the rest of the weekend without irrevocably damaging family relations.

D-Day, though, is heading back to school, even high school, with a new haircut.  Being a stoic guy, he wouldn't say anything to me like, "I'm sure that someone will make a snide comment about my haircut; or, gym class will be hell when the guys see that I got a haircut," he just continued on, holding those feelings of anxiety in and snapping outwards at those who love him most, in anticipation of whatever will get dished out by his friends.

So this evening, worried as always, I asked him how the day went with his new haircut. "Did anyone say anything?"

"No, not really. No one mentioned it," he said, somewhat sheepishly.

"Well, it looks good," I said.  "I like it."  

"Thanks, thanks for being a mom," he replied, with a charming sixteen year-old grin,  a slight tilt to the lips, perfect teeth showing just a bit, his handsome haircut brushed to one side framing his beautiful brown eyes.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hmm, Still Grouchy

I'm really not ready for spring.  I'm happy to continue to wear bulky sweaters and corduroy pants and sidle by without glancing at the thin spring materials on display in my favorite stores.  I haven't yet experienced that burst of energy that jumpstarts a work-out schedule and instigates a push towards the bikini-ready body. Although I hear children playing outside, I have no desire to join my neighbors to catch up on four months of news. Last week's blast of winter was perfect - I was content cocooned in the library, wrapped in a fleece blanket and deeply enmeshed in a novel, why should I seek spring?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Best Give I Ever Gave

 Delicious smells waft upstairs, and I know that "the man who makes good smells and crumbs" (that's the dog's name for him) has started cooking something for dinner.  Tonight the sweet tang of curry is tantalizing me, and I wonder what recipe he is cooking. 

At my favorite bookstore a few weeks ago I found a small curry cookbook that had absolutely beautiful photographs of the food preparing process as well as wonderful descriptions of different types of curries and how they are prepared.  I bought the book because I love to look at pictures of food (just not cook), and my in-laws, Matt and I had been having a discussion about similarities and differences among the curries that we've eaten at different ethnic restaurants.  I hoped that this book 50 Great Curries of India could clarify our discussion of what curry officially is. It did, sort of. 

Turns out curry means "a meat or vegetable dish to be eaten with rice, which is considered to be the main dish of the meal." (pg 27)  The cookbook includes an incredible discussion of curries, including a curry philosophy section, before getting to the recipes starting on page 65.  I learned that eating curry should make us healthier, as curries integrate each of the six tastes necessary (in varying amounts) to have a healthy body.   These six tastes  - sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent - must be why describing the taste of curry is so complex! 

What I didn't realize is that Matt would totally get in to trying these different curry recipes, and I would get to be the lucky tester!  As of today we've had: curried chickpeas, curried kale, pork curry, curry with rice, name it, we've probably had it.  Last weekend Matt made a huge amount of curry base (lots and lots of onions simmered with those yummy spices) and he's been able to add that base to any vegetable side dish in order to tempt the kids and I to eat it. I wish I could say that our health has been positively impacted...can't, yet. 

But, finding that cookbook was a total bonus!   Tonight's curry:  Kale with Lima Beans and pork (no rice, Matt's on the no-carb diet).  Verdict - Pretty Tasty! Having a hubby that cooks - totally awesome!


I love my Friday nights - the weekend has begun, but the work of the weekend hasn't yet reared its ugly head!  I can escape guilt-free into whatever form of entertainment I am able to find.

This Friday evening started with a one-man play on the life of Michael Flatley performed by one of my daughter's Irish dance school buddies.  Both she and I headed home from that brilliant performance with music and dance humming through our veins.  Riverdance, she decided, we'd watch Riverdance as our entertainment for the evening..  I'm always happy to watch Flatley perform his unique take on Irish Dance...and the music, well, who can resist those pipes?  (Seriously!)

As we headed through the neighborhood - we could see our house - she suddenly said, "Mom, turn here.  We need to go to Target!"

"What?" I responded distractedly.

"Turn, I have the perfect movie for us to watch tonight, but we have to get it at Target."  Being in a Friday mood, I acquiesced. "Here we go, Mom.  Park at the far entrance, that's the closest," Rebecca directed. "Fast in, fast out!"

Settling in on the couch, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Tween movies haven't been known to hold my eyes open, and we're all tired on Friday evening. However, now that I've seen it twice...yes, we watched it twice this evening - I agree, this was a fun movie. In fact, it may become for Rebecca one of those generational movies whose message and relate-able teenage angst stays with you over the years.  Ultimately, Perfect Pitch was the ideal combination of music (both mine and hers) and dance, and contained a cast that reflected a pretty diverse group struggling to find their way.  I have to say - the PG 13 rating was appropriate (I blushed and she asked "What was that about?" a couple of times).  But, I could totally see this movie becoming The Breakfast Club of her generation.  In fact, The Breakfast Club played a pretty important part in Perfect Pitch and made me somewhat nostalgic for the eighties.  I loved Judd Nelson many years ago!

Bottom line, Friday nights are so special - and one that includes a movie that we both enjoyed - that's perfect!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Slice of Early Morning

Ran through the "back to normal" wake up routine this morning.  Hopped out of the shower and headed down to wake the middle schooler up.  That's always a tough job.  As I entered her hallway the glow of a light from under the door of her room greeted me .  Must've fallen asleep with her light on, again. Harrumph, I thought.

Gently swinging her door wide, I begin our ritual: "Hey Sweetie Pie, it's time to, huh?"  The zebra striped blanket that usually cozily covers her was flung to the side of her bed, and the bed was empty.  At that moment the bathroom door opened and my hard-to-wake-up girl walked out, dressed, with her hair rolled in curlers!  Stupidly, perhaps still half asleep, I said, "You're up?!"

"Yep," she responded.  "I decided I wanted curls in my hair, so I set my alarm for 5:30 and got right up.  In fact, Mom, I feel so great!  I'm wide awake, my bags are packed, and I'll be ready to go to school on time."  I went back up the stairs to get myself dressed and ready, awed by these changes that mark the arrival of maturity and slightly chagrined that she is so obviously capable.   

I will miss our little wake up routine; having my now-fourteen year old baby still need me for something as important as starting the day has been really special.  But, she's growing up, and the separation process she is beginning is healthy and appropriate.  I'm left, at the end of the day, struggling between feeling sadness that she's growing up so quickly and pride that she is becoming such an amazing young woman. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Just the Two of Us?

My husband and I snuck out of the house this morning in the middle of the snowstorm, leaving both our teenage kids sleeping contentedly in their beds.  We had both been given the day off, a welcome treat, and he wanted to go to the bookstore - I can never turn down a trip to the bookstore!   Leaving our house was no big deal - there was just a little snow on the ground. 

We ran our couple of errands, including a peaceful browse through the bargain books, and then we headed back to the house.  Walking in the door, both kids still asleep and unaware that we had been gone, I was struck by the fact that as our kids get older and move on my husband and I will do more and more of these kinds of errands with just each other.  I was sad for a minute - they have grown up so fast - but then I was relieved.  I like hanging out with Matt.  When the kids are gone, we'll have a good time!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I can't help but wonder...the whole Washington DC metro area is waiting on the edge of its proverbial seat for the snow to begin.  As I picked up my daughter from Irish dance lessons at nine o'clock this evening, I couldn't help but notice that the traffic was lighter than normal - perhaps there were fewer people on the roads in preparation for the Snowquester, as they're calling it.  "Good," I thought, "It's going to get nasty out here."

In anticipation of a possible day off tomorrow, both my daughter and I were feeling giggly and excited; we pulled in to McDonalds to pick up our annual Shamrock Shake available only in the month of March - yummy minty green with a cherry on top, what extravagance!  As we left the drive-in window I saw a man standing in a dark corner of the parking lot.  I couldn't help but wonder out loud if he was homeless.  A backpack hung heavily on his back, a bike sprawled against a road sign by him, and he stood there, expressionless, watching us drive past.

Maybe he was waiting to be picked up - a friend or family member was running late.  But his posture looked defeated. What if he is homeless?  If he is homeless, where can he go in the face of the extreme weather that is headed our way?  While our local shelter stays open, what if he don't know where to go for help?  What if he doesn't speak English? What will he do to stay warm tonight?  I couldn't help but wonder. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Managing Expectations?

I worked really hard today - and I'll have to tomorrow as well - to keep my hopes realistic.  I walked into the office this morning and the first piece of info tossed my way came in the form of a couple of questions:  "Ready for the snow this week? Think we'll get the day off?" 

I was flabbergasted.  If you read my post yesterday you'll know I was wrapped in my own grumpy world, so much so that I never even turned on the radio or the TV for news.  The potential for snow came as a surprise.  Hold on, I said to myself, don't get your hopes up for a big snow.  Those hopes've been dashed over and over again in the last few years. 

Around lunchtime the kids began to bubble.  "Did you hear about snow? Pajamas inside out and backwards Tuesday night! Ice cubes flushed down the toilet, as many as you can!"  What other weird weather myths can we implement to guarantee snow? 

I'm not going to let myself be disappointed.  The snow never comes, it's not going to happen.  There will be no snow day. 

This evening on the way home (I was glued to the station that does news and weather on the 8's) the radio commentator said this was the biggest predicted snowstorm in the last two years!  We could get more snow Wednesday than in the last two years total!  That's not saying much: the Metro area is predicted to get 3-7 inches.  Here in DC that can put a hold on just about everything.  If this were Colorado or Upstate New York, they'd laugh at that measly amount; they get 3-7 regularly during the winter - and the kids still go to school.  But here? 

Race you to the grocery to pick up toilet paper, hot chocolate, milk and eggs. I've already got wine - enough for the neighborhood.   Ooh - I'm starting to get excited. As soon as it starts to snow, come on over.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tomorrow I'll be better

I'm not a fan
of Sunday evenings.
As soon as dinner is done
I find myself carping at the kids and
snapping at the spouse.
What is going on in my head?

I've done laundry all day,
washed dishes fifty million times
since breakfast,
Mopped the kitchen floor
and vacuumed everywhere else,
I don't cook - but
I baked muffins for breakfast
for the week. Cleaned a bathroom
or two - and
nagged the teenaged children
to get their homework done and rooms cleaned,
again, and again, and again. 
Ah nagging - it's not good for the soul.

By Sunday night,
I'm ready for a good book
to help me escape.  But,
I have one more load to fold
and a project to edit.
I'm grumpy that the
weekend has gone by
so fast.   

Saturday, March 2, 2013


This will sound strange, but some of you will relate:  I love the middle school-aged child!  There is an earnestness and an intensity wrapped up in each unique package.  I wish, though, that we as a society did a better job acknowledging and celebrating the potential of each adolescent. Today I had the opportunity to attend a Bat Mitzvah, a Jewish ceremony honoring a thirteen year-old's coming of age - essentially the community recognition of a young persons' accepting of the responsibilities (both religious and not) of an adult.  What struck me the most was how supportive and respectful the community was of these young adolescents, honoring both their work to complete their Hebrew school studies as well as their poise and individuality while singing their passages of the Torah and sharing their personal connections. Such love flowed from the community members at the Bat Mitzvah, the two young people being celebrated positively glowed.

Later this afternoon my thirteen year-old daughter commented that the quinceanera she's heard about from her Latina friends and the Bat Mitzvah she experienced today were kind of similar to her Catholic confirmation, which is upcoming.  I nodded, although I refrained from saying that it probably wouldn't even come close to what she had seen today. 

I'm left wondering about how amazing it would be for every adolescent - often perceived as disengaged and misunderstood, even mistrusted by the communities they live in - to have the affirming experience of a day that celebrates and confirms them as valuable members of their communities.

What rite of passage can we put in place for today's youth?

Friday, March 1, 2013


I'm feeling a little to get back in the writing habit.  Glad the SoL is back again this year. 

I'm home, finally, after a long week and an even longer evening.  I think I've written about chaperoning the middle school dance before, but it is always worth re-examination.  Many times I come home on a dance night with a headache and a general distaste for today's pop culture and the messages that our young people are absorbing.  Arriving home tonight, my ears still buzzing a little from the rhythmic thumping, I'm awed at the confidence and strength of adolescence.  This evening about 60 seventh and eighth graders congregated in our cafeteria and danced the night away.  While I am sure there was some drama they worked hard to keep secret from the adults, for the most part there was a load of fun and dancing - and some incredibly gifted dance-thletes!  It was entertaining to watch the sometimes awkward and ungainly, yet graceful young people interact and engage with each other.  In the safety of the dark school cafeteria they were confident, in total control of their world, and their dance moves reflected this.  Energetic pulsing, arms flailing, perhaps the rest of life disappears to become the flashing lights and the gyrating bodies grouped closely together.