This is a dime I found in a parking lot in Maine. And then carried with me on the AT the following year...all the way from Georgia back to Maine. I kept it after that and carried it around, mainly because it was attached to an LED flashlight that I find handy.

Today I was moving some things around in the attic. Laurel is such a little monkey that we are going to liberate her from her crib before she ends up diving over the edge and falling on her head. So I was dragging a mattress down from the attic when I found a box of stuff. Archives. Things that were deemed too important to throw away, but not important enough to frame. I found a calendar that they gave me at Magee when I found out I was pregnant. It came with little stickers and you are supposed to record important dates in your pregnancy and the first few months of your child's life.

February 19; Week 5 - Positive Pregnancy Test
March 10; Week 8 - First prenatal appointment
April 12; Week 12 - Told friends about my pregnancy, heard baby's heartbeat for the first time
June 4; Week 20 Ultrasound - felt baby move for the first time
July 22; Week 27 - prenatal appointment
August 17; Week 30 - childbirth class

It's nice to know the exact dates of these things, but this particular artifact failed to record that jerk of a doctor who did my first prenatal appointment (and persuaded me to transfer to the Midwives at Magee). I wrote down nothing about the 7 months of morning sickness or the vacation we took in August when I did nothing but bob around in the swimming pool and sleep on the couch all week. It's just a piece of the puzzle. If I ever want to refresh my memory, I could cross reference my calendar and emails sent to friends with blog posts. But all of that lives in the Cloud, so to speak.

I tossed the calendar after I showed it to Laurel. We're doing some decluttering and I'm finding the need to be choosy about what I surround myself with. What makes me keep a dime I carried around in my backpack and get rid of a pregnancy memento? Both were life changing events. Maybe because I have a living artifact of the latter.

Speaking of artifacts and memory, I think M and I will remember Laurel's first word as backpack, even though it technically isn't. She has said doggie and kitty and bus and car for a while. But when we say backpack, she runs and gets her carrier, and jumps up and down until we put her in it and go outside. And then she says backpack over and over again while we're walking around. Memories are selective, and sometimes I wonder if you do a disservice to yourself and others by documenting or holding on to artifacts from everything. Maybe there are things that are better left distorted by the passage of time. And am I actually relinquishing any artifacts by committing them to the Cloud and tossing the paper copy?



Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

It's puzzling to me, how the weeks just seem to disappear. I blinked this week and it was Friday. I just entered grades for progress reports. This means that the third quarter is halfway done. Or, the school year is 5/8 over. (Yes, I'm a math teacher.) I haven't let myself think of summer break, because frankly, life is mostly about getting everybody dressed and out the door every morning until it's time for everybody to get a bath and go to bed, and then the whole thing repeats. But now summer break seems like a reality, and it's time to consider signing a contract for another year of teaching.


Family Sunday

Best weekend ever.

Made Valentines with Laurel. Udipi and D's with friends. Laurel in curlers. Birthday cake. Walk in the sunshine. Common Place coffee. Volunteering at the Co-op. New books from the library. East End beer and cider. Pizza.


Happy Birthday, M!

Laurel and I are sitting here waiting for M to come back from running a few quick errands. When he gets home, we're going to give him his birthday presents. I can't wait for this because, well, things like birthdays are so much more fun with a little kid. Laurel picked out his presents and made him a card.

Last night my parents watched Laurel. M and I went out and ate way too much Indian food with Stan, Jack, Tony and Rita. The best part of the night was when dinner was over and Rita said, "I feel like having a beer. Let's go to D's" and we did! (By the way, the late happy hour specials at the Monroeville location are amazing.)

I first met M when he was sixteen years old. He was awesome then, and just gets better with age. I wish him all the best on this day and another 31 years at least.


Me, on top of the world...

This is me, on top of the world. I'm with Bushwhacker, a guy who seems to set out on the AT every year. I wonder if he's going this year. I imagine M is the one taking a photo. I look tough there because I was tough. And maybe my physical strength has faded with time, but the mental lessons are here to stay.

Today the theme of my lecture was "confusion is part of the process" - but it was really about not giving up when something gets hard. My students mostly give up. When they don't know how to solve a problem, they work madly to look as if they are thinking, but are really just avoiding eye contact with me.

I called them out on it today and we worked through a stupid word problem about the rotation of a baseball. They should have known to just use the formula for a circumference because it was on the same worksheet with a bunch of problems about circumference. It concerns me that they struggle with navigating worksheets. If I was going to write a math textbook, I would take all the word problems and mix them up, so you would actually have to think about it, but Pearson is on the predictable side.
However, much of school, and life, is not about really thinking or problem solving, it's about knowing what to do automatically by reading the cues in your environment.

They get mad because I make them write about what is confusing. It's not enough to say I don't know. You have to say why, you have to pick apart the little things you didn't know you knew, but are there, just under the surface. You have to share your ideas. Tell me where your Knowing stopped and your Confusion started.

Much of school, and life, is about perseverance. Sucking it up and powering through fatigue or pain. Trying and failing and trying again. I'm twice as old, so I can't get mad at them for not having had the opportunity to push themselves. But sometimes I still get mad.

At 14, I was playing soccer and taking Ray Peter's Geometry class. My dad had just started working, and my brother and sister and I were on our own for a few hours after school. I had to do chores and cook dinner sometimes. I honestly can't remember doing homework. Did I study after school? I know we generally didn't watch tv at my house, but I loved to sneak and watch the Guiding Light before my brother and sister got off the bus. I didn't know M yet, but he was around, our circles of friends weaving in and out of each other.

M is baking again. Check Flickr later for another picture - I'm sure he'll take one. Here's a secret...he sucked at baking a year ago. Many of his first attempts were barely edible. But he's good at taking his confusion or his failure and figuring out what went wrong, and turning it in to something right. And now he churns out artisan quality bread once or twice a week.

That's what I want my students to take away this year. I want them to say "I hated math in August, but now I know what to do with a two step equation. And I want to try a three-step."


On Parenting

My parents brought down this yellow and orange Little Tikes plastic picnic table that anyone in their 30s will remember having as a child. I've been yearning for a little table for Laurel ever since she started getting obsessed with "writing". I'm also tired of wrestling her into the high chair twice a day. She has this way of stiffening her body so that I can't get her legs in. Also, she has mastered the ability to somehow stand up in the high chair, even with the straps securely fastened. A baby in the 75th percentile for height and the 25th for weight makes for a highly capable escape artist. I imagined that we could begin to have civil meals, without the yelling, screaming and near falling, while Laurel would sit nicely at her pint-size place setting.

However, I must say, eating dinner at the little table is not without its downsides. Right now I'm looking at an utter catastrophe of smashed cheerios and dried up kale leaves littering the living room. I definitely should have moved the table into the kitchen before the meal started. Laurel liked eating at her little table, but she lacks the attention span to actually stay sitting there through the three bowls of potato soup she demanded. (Not being in the high chair meant that she could march her bowl into the kitchen and hold it up, yelling until I poured her more soup.)

The ear infection is fading, and we're sort of getting back into the routine. She's still waking up a couple of times a night, but I'm confident that she'll be back to sleeping through within a week. And as always, she's quite agreeable at bedtime...she flips the switch on the light, throws her baby in her crib, and curls up in a little ball. No fuss, and utterly pleasant for me. So, here I sit, staring down a mess in the kitchen and a stack of math journals to read.

Naturally, I'm going to pour myself a glass of East End beer screw around the on the internet. East End comes in growlers and won't stay fresh for very long...I really have no choice.

I used to be a pretty die-hard advocate for stay-at-home-parenting. But in a theoretical way. I had stay at home parents and it worked fine for me. I didn't really know anybody who used daycare when I was growing up, and I guess I always imagined it being much more dreary and jail-like than it actually is. My image was more in line with a Romanian orphanage than the average licensed child care center. And besides, why would you not want to raise your own kids, I heard myself say on more than one occasion. When I picked her up at daycare today I had a sudden realization that daycare is not the problem. Laurel likes her daycare. She likes the teachers, she likes the kids, she likes the toys. The routine works for her.

Still, it's not without its drawbacks. Juggling who has to stay home and calling in favors from your relatives when your kid is sick for an entire week. Having to go to work on very little sleep some days. Finding a spare moment for yourself when laundry or food prep or cleaning the toilet is constantly, urgently needed.

It was with these thoughts that I stumbled upon a couple of book reviews and blogs. Getting to 50/50 and Equally Shared Parenting are two books that grew out of blogs that grew out of several entrepenuerial women making their husbands do more housework. I grew momentarily excited over the Childraising Equality Scale, where you can sit down with your partner and see who does more "toy assembling" and who does more "toilet training" and make sure everybody's doing their fair share. I could not imagine spending my precious increments of adult time with M by discussing those issues. I do the bulk of the weekday childcare because I have a job that lets me out at 2:40. I'm home when Laurel is awake. No use in having an argument about that.

But then, I stumbled across a blog post called "Is your life interesting or happy?".

The test items themselves were edited in a tongue-in-cheek way by the blogger and they don't really bear any real relevance to my life. Still, it could be telling.

For instance, I was not particularly happy as a child. I was raised Catholic. I spent many formative staring down a life-size crucified Jesus from the front pew of our church. So, there's a minus one for me in the happy column.

And no, I did not even know that $200 jeans existed. I guess I assume that everyone buys jeans at Old Navy for 39 bucks and the frugal among us wait until they go on sale. Don't even get me started on the eyebrows.

However, at the end of the day, this is the question that lingers in my mind.

There is no doubt that my life is interesting (I plan to audition for the Moth the next time they have an open mic locally with my "Pants-less hooker steals a pair of socks" tale...really, it's hard to top that story). But can one's life be both interesting and happy?

You tell me, along with any insights about how two working parents juggle the responsibilities of a work and home.


It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Yes, the weather is still frightful, but my reference is actually to the drink the M is mixing us up right now, as we prepare to watch the Social Network. Yes, life has come to this...OnDemand movies and pajamas at 9:00pm.

Laurel is on the mend from a very unpleasant illness which was finally diagnosed as a double ear infection. We went up to visit M's parents today and had fun eating waffles and playing with toys and seeing dogs and looking at the bird feeder. There is still a lot of snow up at their place, but it felt too damp and unpleasant to go outside, especially with a fire roaring in the living room.

M, of course, did some baking today. Our house may look a little messy right now, but it smells awesome.