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Archive for February, 2012

Oh, That Makes Sense

Today, I learned where my dad and aunts got their grit (read “stubborn determination”):


I am her namesake, and I don’t think I’ve fallen too far from the tree, either…

Which makes for an exciting day.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

Grandma’s Time

I forgot about a great tradition that my grandparents have always had- a cocktail before dinner.

Maybe I forgot because I was never old enough to take part, but I remember watching my Grandpa make spritzers each night when he’d get get home from work. He’d make me one, too, if I begged a bit- orange juice and tonic. Yum! Even now, I like adding bubbles to juices to make them a bit sparkly.

Tonight, I finally got to share in the long-standing tradition. After working hard all day, my Grandma (who seems tireless and graceful no matter what she does) suggested that we “sit down and act like ladies.” This included talking over cheese and crackers and a glass of wine.

The wine was refreshing and well deserved… I should also mention that it was from a bottle. This is significant because I also have many memories of boxed wine on their fridge shelf. (Apparently, I took a strong interest in drinking from an early age! I wonder why…). The spout apparatus was especially intriguing, and sometimes I was able to pour the glasses if Grandpa would let me.

Anyway, it was a really sweet thing to be able to share in something that I can remember from all the way back as a little one at 401 Laurel. Celebrating the end of a day of hard work always seems worth it! Celebrating with Grandma is even better!

The Joys of Travel

Hello dear friends. I’m sorry for my absence, but I’m back- mostly because I wanted to share this amazing photo that I took today:


I hope that you found the illustration as delightful as I did!

I had NO idea that flight attendants would get helmets if/when our oxygen masks deployed. I know this is horrible, but this knowledge actually makes a little piece of me want to see it happen!

I’m in North Carolina this week, visiting my grandma. I brought a digital recorder to preserve some of her great stories. Maybe she’ll let me share some here!

Good Ridance!

I love throwing things away. By throw away, I mean “get it out of my sight.” It could be giving something away, donating, recycling… whatever! If I’ve had it and get to get rid of it, I’m happy!

Here is a small sampling of things that give me pleasure:

  • Clean out the fridge and throw stuff away
  • Discard old clothes from the closet and donate
  • Recycle a shampoo bottle
  • Use up food from the cabinet

If you looked at the photo of my desk last week (click here), you wouldn’t believe me when I told you that I like to throw stuff out. Paper, filing, and Rachel Ray are my nemeses. This week, not only did I defeat some swarmy piles of paper, we reorganized the office and gave 3 lovely pieces of furniture to good homes.

In a moment of clarity on Monday, I realized that, in a few short weeks, we would need to sleep when my pregnant sister-in-law, Rebecca, comes to visit with her baby, Annabel. Our choice? Buy an air mattress or a futon. Since we’d like to be moving soon, though, we balked at the idea of spending money on something that we might not need in our new home. What to do? I turned to trusty old Craigslist and found a free, clean futon. (No, really, it is.) 5 minutes after the first realization, we were set to pick up the solution to our problem later that night when I got off of work.

And then it hit me. Where were we going to put this large piece of furniture? I rushed home, posted the three items in the office that we’ve wanted to get rid of on Craigslist for free, and left for work. Within 30 minutes, all three pieces were promised. Within 4 hours, they were emptied out and gone! A few hours later, our office was a disaster, but it had a new-to-us futon and a finally assembled bookshelf (from that last trip to IKEA). We’d been putting off doing much with the office because we didn’t want to spend money, but in reality, putting several hours of craziness into it made it so much better … and no money was spent! (Plus, we got to build the dog tunnel.) Quite an accomplishment for one day.

Now, that desk piled in papers- GONE! It’s no longer a source of guilt and frustration, because it’s not there any more. Hooray! If you can’t beat it… get rid of it!

We now have a guest room (aka an office with a futon) and less cluttered house. Eventually, I’ll get to the rest of the filing and clean out the closet, but for one week, this is good enough.


You know that you’re cold when you wonder why you’re not supposed to put yourself in the dryer.  

I actually contemplated it for a little while tonight.  I’m wearing jeans, a fleece, socks, a scarf, and a jacket.  The heat is on, and I still have ice blood.  It’s been happening for the last few days.  Even in the bath, I couldn’t get nice and warm.

When I asked Chris my question- why you’re not supposed to put yourself in the dryer, you know what he responded?  “Because you can’t push the button.”

That’s my man.


VD 2012

I’m freaking out a little, all because of a poem.  This was my bright idea, stealing a page from my Uncle Jim’s play book.  Each year, he writes his Valentine, my Aunt Nancy, a poem.  How romantic!  How lovely!  I wanted in!

People say, “Every day should be Valentine’s Day,” and while I can get behind the sentiment, it’s usually not.  When was the last time you got flowers, just because it was Monday.  Or bought a great gift because it was February 1st.  If that’s a normal part of your routine, good for you.  I’m proud of you!  While I wish we skewed toward romantic and lovey-dovey all the time, in my mind, Valentine’s Day still gets to be extra-special.

To be really honest, I’ve always loved the day- whether single or taken- and have good memories.  My mom always gave really cute gifts to her kids.  In Vegas, my first boyfriend gave me a Snoopy mirror and comb set.  In 3rd grade, Comninos Zachary gave me a beautiful, handmade declaration of lacy love.  (I don’t think we ever talked after that.)  In the past, I loved going out drinking and enjoying singledom with my girlfriends, and now, I spend the day thinking about how much my husband loves me.  It’s a lot, in case you haven’t met him.  It’s never been about the gifts, because (aside from the ones I already mentioned) I actually can’t remember anything that I’ve ever been given.  Oops!

Since I was working and Chris and I decided no gifts or cards this year, Valentine’s Day was shaping up to be pretty boring day. After reading about Jim and Nancy’s tradition, I asked Chris if it was something that he would like to do.  His response was “I’m on it.”  The man loves a haiku, what can I say?

Finally, mine is written!  We exchanged poems, and his is just beautiful.  He really has a sweet heart.  My was the first love poem I’ve ever written.  Enough said.

Honey’s to Chris topped everything off, though:

Honey Hearts Chris

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dog Tunnel

Tonight, instead of blogging, Chris and I made a dog tunnel.

Honey's head in tunnel

Using the IKEA box that we had just emptied, we coerced a very skiddish dog into crawling all the way through.  This was hysterical, joyous, and really talented!  We totally high-fived when we did it!

On one hand, we had success in teasing Honey through the tunnel.  On the other, it made me sad that Wholesome Hounds didn’t really make it, since the Just Liver Treats were what convinced her to go all the way through.

Honey's butt in tunnel

Either way, Chris and I had an awesome time rearranging our house and getting the dog to belly crawl through a box.  Very successful night.  I’ll let you know tomorrow all about the changes to the house.

Tonight, I’ll remind you that we got our dog to walk through a cardboard tunnel.  We’re (read “Chris is”) that good.  He’s got a knack for this dog!


Taking My Own Advice

As a first-year teacher, I had no idea what I was doing a good majority of the time.  Somehow, someone somewhere thought that I (22 and fresh out of college) was even just a little qualified to teach Social Studies to 7th graders at IS 292 in Brooklyn.  I lasted one whole semester and cried every single day.

When I called my mom to tell her how tough it was and how I was so miserable, she actually laughed at me- hysterically, I might add.  She said, truthfully, “You were the only one who DIDN’T think this would be hard.”  She was right, but my good intentions, hard work, and best efforts were no match against my own inexperience or the school culture that came long before me and lasted long after.

Despite this, I did the best that I could and tried to connect with students in meaningful ways.  I kept my cool and soothed nervous hearts when panicked families fled to the school to get the kids on 9/11; I helped to fight racism and the fear of the “other” in the weeks after after the attacks; I memorized every single name and face; I squeezed in desks for a class that was already well over the legal limit.  Even some of the toughest kids had bright days.

Ultimately, it took one girl with a knife- in my classroom, the safe space that I had created- threatening another to push me past my limit.  The school responded by completely ignoring the situation, and I knew then that there was no way I could keep going.  If I couldn’t keep the kids safe, I certainly couldn’t teach them.

The “little missy from Vermont” (as a colleague, who lasted for an even shorter time than I did, called me at the beginning) was no match for Vermont St., East New York.  I gave my resignation, and at the start of the new semester, I moved on to a different school with a similar population. Because the administration was very supportive, my experience there, though challenging, was much different.  I stayed there a year and a half before leaving for California.

I thought about this today, because I had writer’s block.  I just didn’t have anything to say, but to stay true to my commitment to myself, I needed to post something here.

For some reason, my memory went back to that first semester of teaching at 292.  To throw a little more excitement into the mix, the administration gave me one period a day of Writing.  It’s so sad to write this, but no matter what I did, I could not engage the majority of my students to write.  The only time I was mildly successful was at the very beginning of the period when they were getting settled in.  Each day, I had a prompt or free write for them to complete.  The only real rule in the assignment was that they had to keep writing for the entire time.  Some days in was 5 minutes, but it was never more than 10.

You would have thought that I was asking them to do something unjust, immoral, or downright nasty.  They dug their heals in, but (usually), I convinced them.  “Just write anything, even if it’s ‘I don’t know what to write,’ or write the first thing that comes to your mind,” I bargained with them.  And it worked.  Even the laziest, most stubborn kid would do one of those, and it made the classroom peaceful enough for the other students who were trying to write to think their thoughts.

So today, I just sat down and wrote the first thing that came to my head.  It’s not what showed up here, but it gave my voice a chance to warm up.  At least my advice was useful to someone!

The Little Guy

I read today that the average new house in America is down to 2,400 square feet.  Since we are one half the size of the average family, I think it’s appropriate that our house is one half the size of the average house.


Our house, for now. Totally cuter inside!

That realization doesn’t make trips to Costco easier, though.  Organic chicken broth!  Toilet paper!  Pens!  Oh my.  Even though I would love to buy all these things in bulk, there is noooo space in my house.

When we moved into this little bungalow, I had an a epiphany.  If you save money on buying in bulk, you also have to spend extra money paying for the space that those things take up.  So, for now, even though I can’t save money buying in bulk, at least I’m saving money on rent.

While it makes trips to Costco a test of willpower and determination, I’ll take it!  Being thankful about the little things makes life that much sweeter.

My Favorite Sign of Spring

I didn’t see poppies when growing up in Vermont, though my mom has them in her garden now.

They’re my favorite part of spring in California. Their vibrant colors and papery petals are so joyous!



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