Last weekend I went away to my friend Lindsay's cabin near Ligonier. Lindsay's family built this cabin themselves, and she showed us a photo album that shows the construction, bit by bit, weekend by weekend. It's a fairly simple, but spacious structure, obviously meant for weekends away, obviously meant to house as many people as possible. It's the kind of place you feel immediately at peace at, not just because it was beautiful and quiet, but because the love of her family is imprinted there and seeps out of the walls, surrounding you as soon as you step inside. People care about that place, probably because it serves to bring loved ones together. Now that's a legacy.

It got me to thinking about legacy. What are the actions that M and I are taking now, that Laurel will one day consider her legacy? It really made me think deeply about what it means to be a role model, living your ideals through the ups and downs of daily life. What am I modeling in the checkout line at the Dunkin Donuts when it's taking forever and I have a pounding headache and a squirmy toddler who seems hell bent on "organizing" the bags of coffee beans in the display?

By the way, I bought exactly two blueberry cake Munchkin holes at the exhorbitant price of $.50 each, and presented them to Laurel while I drank my coffee. She opened the bag, handed one to me and said "tatoo" - which I think means thank you, which she uses universally to mean "please", "thank you" and "you're welcome". Then she leaned in and gave me a hug before carefully eating the other one. (Go ahead and say "awwwwww" over her cuteness.)

What legacy are you leaving?


Mom Weekend

I had the most amazing weekend. Airstream aside, it was my turn to head out of town for an overnight trip with my mom friends. We went to Lindsay's parents cabin near Ligonier. The weather couldn't have been better. It was cold, but that just makes sitting by the fire even cozier. We took a lot of walks around the cabin, and also at Lin Run park.

We spent hours talking. We don't have much of an opportunity to talk without interruption these days, what with all the toddlers racing around underfoot most of the time. It reminded me of our early days of motherhood - that first long, snowy winter, when we were always curled up nursing our babies in each other's living rooms.

The nature of my job exposes me to some of the very worst in parenting. It was nice to hear how each of us is striving to be good role models and good teachers and give our kids enough space to let them make mistakes and learn. Striving and sometimes struggling. There are still sleep issues and feeding issues and what-do-you-do-during-temper-tantrum issues.

I'm off to the races for another crazy week. Grades are due and I'll be hammering away at my stack of IEPs, and oh yeah, I might try to teach some math.


Our newest addition

This is our new old 1973 Airstream Overlander Intenational. For those of you not on FB.


I changed three poopy diapers today....

Yeah, I know...isn't that just part of parenting? But if you are going to go through all the rigmarole of getting your kid up at 5:30 in the morning and off to daycare, you hope to excuse yourself from some of the poop. One of the poops occurred in the library, where, of course, I did not have any diapers, as it was supposed to be a very quick trip. We had to go back out to the car, where I always keep spare food, diapers, wipes and clothes in the trunk. Unfortunately, after changing the diaper, I left it in the back of the car. When we went back to the car after visiting the bank...phew! It was pretty disgusting. Laurel picked out a Chanukah video at the library, I think because it had a picture of Bert on it. M pointed out that we don't have a DVD player, but Laurel doesn't seem to care, she just likes to carry the case around. Laurel collapsed in bed at 7:00p m and I'm headed that way myself after foolishly sleeping only 4 1/2 hours last night. (Which I can only blame a little bit on Laurel.)


Working Mom, Part 3

As a working mom, I go back and forth between thinking this whole juggling act is impossible-so-why-even-bother-to-mop-the-floors and feeling optimistic enough to start googling things like "working mom solutions" in an attempt to, well, start mopping my floors.

(Don't bother googling that...It turns out there are no solutions, at least not ones I hadn't already thought of. Lay your clothes out the night before. Get a crockpot. Etc. Etc.)

Instead of obsessing too much about my floors, I took Laurel outside today and we tackled an item that has been on my to do list since the fall...clean up the yard. The nice thing about living on a not-yet-gentrified city block is that your yard looks pretty dang good even if you do nothing, in comparison to vacant lots. However, ours was looking a bit rough around the edges, plus I wanted to set up our composting bin for spring. Laurel dragged around a full sized rake for a while and then systematically dumped all the potting soil out of a planter handful by handful. She's babbling a lot, and I tried to get her on video talking about what she was doing, but she wouldn't really say anything. (Sorry for the sideways video - I'm too tired to figure out how to rotate it). Our neighbor Marlene came out to say hi, and then it rained, so we came inside. Laurel saw a dozen or so buses go by, which about made her day. After dinner, we waited at the window for "dada-no-I-don't-know-dada" to come home.

The floor is still dirty.


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Testing, testing, 1,2,3

PSSA testing this week! I don't teach in a testing grade, so the pressure is not too intense. However, our entire school will be on a special schedule for the next week, to accommodate for 11th grade testing.

This mom made news as she opted her children out of the testing, officially for religious reasons, but in reality because she feels the tests do not provide an accurate assessment of the children or the school.


whew, etc.

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I think I've said this before, but Friday arrives in a jiffy for me these days. And I'm usually not that happy about Friday, because I have ten million things on my to-do list, and they all have little red high priority exclamation marks next to them. Goal #1: Provide excellent math instruction to a bunch of kids who are 3-5 years below grade level and hate math. Goal #2: Manage IEP case load for 26 students, which mainly involves staying ahead of the paperwork enough to avoid law suit. Goal #3: Smooth over adolescent drama. Or close classroom door and ignore. Except when said drama involves case load students and then do enough interventions to not get sued. Be sure to document them. Write everything down.

Answer phone calls from yell-y parents. Write lesson plans. Create unit tests. Post homework on website so parents will stop calling and yelling that their kid did not write down the homework in their planner and they don't know what to do. Attend a series of meetings that aim to address all these kids and how they suck at the PSSA. Attend a series of trainings required for new teachers that are utterly useless as they do not address Goals 1, 2 or 3. Make not one, but two portfolios documenting all the ways I am standards-based, curriculum-aligned, student-centered, etc., etc. Offer pretzels to hungry kids. Schedule IEP meetings. Fill out endless paperwork. Study for yet another teacher certification exam. Grade papers. Analyze old test scores to plan remedial lessons. Email teachers to check in on case load students. Battle the "Functional Code Error" on the copier machine. Take a ten minute lunch break. Stare longingly at the photo of your lovely husband and daughter, who never ask you to fill out any paperwork.

Yes, there are little successes where a student suddenly decides he'll teach himself to factor polynomials and then does. And the paycheck. And the promise of summer break. My job is worth while. But dang, it's a lot to juggle for my sleep-deprived brain.

Once that last bell rings, I'm out the door and on to Toddler World. It's kind of the opposite of high school. We can't rush anything. When you are walking down the street with a 16 month old, you must be prepared to stop unexpectedly and notice a stick. You must be ok with spending a half an hour on the swings. You need to understand toddler gibberish enough to know the diaper cannot, canNOT, be changed until we find the baby doll (or the front end loader, or the fish, or the cup). It has its own kind of exhaustion, I guess, but more of the happy, collapse-in-bed-with-a-smile-on-your-face variety.

But still Friday rolls around so quickly. And then it's another month, another year gone by. It makes me want to hold on to all these moments with my family. I was giving Mark a hug this morning and Laurel came running over and then it was a family hug with us all just wrapping our arms around each other and cuddling right there in the hallway outside the bathroom. That's joy like I've never known before. And I had that moment to guide me through the craziness of the day.

And now it's Friday night. I used to ease into the weekend with a little happy hour fun, maybe a dinner out. Today, I waited until M got home and then dashed over to the East End Brewery to fill up our growler. The beer is as delicious as ever, but instead of hanging out with friends, listening to music and playing games, M is coding and I'm baking muffins for the neighborhood workshop I'm helping out with tomorrow. I did two loads of laundry and washed the dishes. With any luck, I'll be able to sleep in past 6:00am tomorrow. (Seriously, 6:30 sounds heavenly to me).



Looking for a Travel Trailer

We're on the hunt for a used travel trailer to make a semi-permanent camp for this summer. If you know of anybody who is looking to get rid of one, or even would rent one to us for the summer, shoot me an email. We don't plan to haul it around, at least right now, so we're pretty much looking for something that is road-worthy enough to be dragged to a campground in Butler or Beaver County and left for the summer.


Laurel Slides

Lots going on, sorry if I have not emailed you back. Or returned your phone calls. Or replied on Facebook. I'm still thinking about you.

Enjoy this video of Laurel learning to go down the slide. It's a little grainy, as I took it with my phone. But I think the intense joy and excitement of being a toddler on a playground kind of comes through.