Thursday, June 27, 2013

today, cee and i went to pick jay up from a week of basketball camp at baylor. she had a great time, learned some cool ball-handling skills, and met lots of the players and coaches.

she still has some growing to do, but it was a great experience for her! and now she wants to go to baylor, which wasn't something i'd factored into my retirement plan, so guess who's going to be playing the lottery each week... :)

even though neither of them will admit it, i think it's pretty safe to say they missed each other.

jay couldn't wait to get home and see her brown dog, and instead we found this little brown guy chilled out on our back porch. for the few minutes he stayed still, we named him willie. sorry for the fuzzy resolution - it's part of the willie way.

once he realized we were watching, he went on ninja squirrel alert, and then dashed off into a tree (as squirrels do).

after willie was safely tucked away in a tree, i went out to check on my tomato plants. i am ridiculously excited about their progress!! to be more specific, i am completely stoked about the real leaves that are growing on my yellow pears!

i'm trying to overlook the fact that i've already had to stake my san marzano's to toothpicks - i'm thinking of them as my forest gumps...they just need a little help getting their sea legs. and the very bottom one, near the left (ish)? that's a brave, lone beefsteak. i keep whispering to them, 'grow. grow. you can do it. grow.'

i think it's working.

in the next picture, you see: four san marzanos on the left (staked/struggling), 3 yellow pears in the middle (thriving and still mourning the loss of one of their brethren), one brave beefsteak on the right (totally winning).

and just in case you're concerned that they aren't been tended to carefully on a daily basis, let me reassure you: browning is keeping a constant vigil over their well being. things are bound to flourish.

so, you know - collectively, we've got this covered.

grow, grow, grow!


oh, andy

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

andy borowitz cracks me up. period. he's really been on a roll this week...i love how he spins the serious things going on in the world into little slices of funny.

today he wrote about antonin scalia's post-doma ruling behavior...

on monday, borowitz wrote about snowden and the nsa...

i'm particularly fond of his piece about useful phrases for the surveillance state; however...

i think my most favorite thing he's written this year happened during the conclave for the new pope.

if you aren't already familiar with him, take a peek and enjoy.


what would isabella do?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

i’m half way through the gardner heist. when i stumbled across a mention of picasso’s le reve early on in the book, i knew i was going to love this book for more reasons than the fact that the frames are still hanging. 

as soon as i read the part that's bracketed, i was reminded of a piece that nora ephron wrote about this incident. it was right around the time i read her book i feel bad about my neck

the first time i read this piece by nora ephron, i was actually in vegas...and i love vegas with my whole entire heart. 

the first time i read this piece was when nora ephron was still alive (moment of silence – she was is one of my dream-dinner guests). 

and now i’m feeling compelled to spend the day watching nora ephron movies, and i'm craving a killer breakfast buffet and creamed corn. not the three forks kind (although that ranks in the top 5), but the kind with truffles. 

wanna know more about what steve wynn, nora ephron, and le reve have in common? here's your link to the piece.  


it's a framer

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

i won a highly esteemed award yesterday. before i show it to you, let me clarify that this is one of those ‘you say tomato, i say tomatto’ scenarios. and sweet little jay was so proud when she brought it to me (and i love her for it). 

a few things you should know before you completely and eternally judge me:

1) she says ‘keeping cloths on for the hole day’, while i prefer to say ‘wearing clothes that would allow me to greet guests at the front door (or shamelessly flee for our lives if necessary).’ tomato/tomatto.

2) i picked them up from a sunday night sleepover at 11:20 am yesterday. i was awarded this certificate at 9 pm. this means in her mind, i was dressed appropriately for almost ten consecutive hours.

3) it’s a good thing they were gone last week or else i'd probably be further behind in her terms of general civilized behavior.

we are in the midst of a week of soccer camp for cee. 5:30-8:30 each night this week. a little bit grueling, given the heat. at about five, i was rounding the girls up, filling water bottles, slathering sunscreen, spraying bug spray, and getting them ready to head out to the fields. 

and then this happened...

me: jay, aren’t you proud of me for  keeping my clothes on for two whole days in a row?

jay: mom, if you can’t be honest with yourself, who can you be honest with?

me: seriously? i absolutely achieved your goal for me today.

jay: it’s really okay, mom. we can try again tomorrow.

(collective sigh for all of humanity)

i shared our (my?) summer to do list with the girls. they added a few things to it. in addition to my list of ten things, they have added:

-get a garden
-clean browning every three weeks
-fill up money jar and count money in money jar every day until it’s full
-make a lemonade stand for charity
-pimp out playroom and backyard

gosh i love these little ladies to pieces. they keep me laughing throughout the better part of every single day. 

 alright - it's time to watch the spurs. 


top ten list, and other stuff

Thursday, June 13, 2013

school has been out for eight days. the girls have been frolicking throughout texas for the last seven days. i have gotten a lot done this week– i have officially marked everything off of my ‘things i need to get done this week’ list (except for one unwelcome agenda item scheduled for tomorrow), and i decided that we needed a top ten list of things to do this summer. here we go.

1. read the gardner heist. i first heard about this book in february and i’ve been dying to read it since then. here’s what i already love about this mystery: the curators left the frames up from where the original artwork was stolen! i’m not entirely sure why i like that so much, but i do…
6/26/13 update: finished it!! loved it. if you're into history, art, and scandal, then you've gotta give this a try. also, if it piques your interest, there have been recent news updates about it. fun! 

2. refinish the book shelf in my bedroom. as in remove the chipped, old paint, sand it down, and make it pretty. it’s a first rate eye-sore, and i didn’t realize it until tuesday.

3. read fall down 7 times get up 8. author debbie silver was one of the keynote speakers at the ira convention i attended in april. she was seriously funny. here are the notes i took down while watching her: that was my starter marriage, i'm a recovering middle school teacher, he's my step ex husband in law, middle school kids = hormones with feet. see? genius. here's a link to a book trailer...cute images + forward by carol ann tomlinson = gotta be good.

4. take (and pass) the reading specialist test. i submitted my final review assignment earlier today and now i wait for approval to take the exam. there are lots of theories i’ve forgotten in the last six months: the transactional one, the behaviorist one, the sociolinguistics one, and constructivist one. after i brush up on those, i’ll be ready to go!

5. grow tomatoes. they are seriously adorable little sprouts right now. my san marzanos and my yellow pears are off and running, but my beefsteaks are on the remedial track.

6/27/13 update: they're growing!!

6. speaking of running on the remedial track, that’s next on my list. if you know me, don’t laugh because i’m serious. i’ve never been a huge fan of running (unless it's a rare circumstance and i’m being chased), so this one is a little bit of a risky undertaking. but the girls and i are going to start running. really.

7. enjoy the twinkle lights that we set up in our backyard a couple of weeks ago. unfortunately, i haven’t stayed up late enough to enjoy them since school’s been out, what with my incessant need for catching up on all the sleep i lost during the school year. but i will. probably tomorrow evening. maybe.

8. float. the girls are finally big enough (and by big enough i mean their attention spans are long enough) to float the river. i have some inside info on a new stretch of the river to float, and i can’t wait to give it a whirl with my little ladies in tow.

9. make pickles. the theme for end of year teacher gifts this year involved ball jars. i got some cute jars in all shapes and sizes with some incredibly thoughtful gifts. so now i have cute, empty jars. may as well put them to good use.

10. make an advent calendar (a documented and rare example of me planning ahead). i have wanted to do this for approximately twelve years. i always remember that i’ve intended to do this on approximately december first, which is (ironically) the day i need to have it ready to use. this time, i’m going to put time on my side.

so there you have it. ten things to accomplish this summer. the first five are for me, and the last five are for the girls and me to do together. seems fair, i think?

i have a new blog that i’m completely loving right now, partly because she is hilarious and partly because i love reading about families who have gone through the international adoption process. jen hatmaker. i stumbled across her blog about a year ago, and found it again in may. 

oh, and she was on the today show on monday for a hilarious blog post she wrote about the end of the school year. no big deal. here’s a link to a great piece she wrote earlier today that might resonate with anyone who’s brave enough to be at home with their kids during the summer. hope you enjoy – she leaves me in a constant state of "i’m not worthy"-ness. in a good way, of course.

i can't wait for the girls to get home on saturday. i'm looking forward to a summer filled with lots of fun with these little ladies.


feeling antsy

Thursday, June 6, 2013

the other night, we grilled burgers. really, really good burgers.

when i lit the grill, i noticed a few wayward ants crawling leisurely on the handle and i figured they'd find someplace else to play as the grill started warming up.

when i went back to the grill a few minutes later, there was only one ant left.

it was frantically running in circles around the dial.

its 'help me' pheromones were undoubtedly masked by the heavy scent of propane, and all i could imagine was the ant yelling 'abort, abort!' to his friends...all ethan hunt style.

i don't know what the ant's fate was, but i know we had some amazing burgers.

i've kinda felt like the ant for the last few days - frantically running in circles, trying to get everything done for the end of the school year.

yesterday was my last day with students. today i learned new stuff for next year. tomorrow i will finish cleaning my class room, and then i will be ready to enjoy a much-needed brain break.

the girls are so excited for summer fun, and i am looking forward to relaxing with them. this will be the first summer in two years that i won't have grad school to juggle! but right now, all i need is a long, long nap...

oh, and if you love grilled burgers, you have to try this recipe. you can't go wrong with ina garten.


Super Mom

Saturday, June 1, 2013

70 weeks ago, Jay turned seven. She wanted a bowling birthday party, and that's exactly what she got. The party sounded like a great deal: the package included bowling, pizza, and drinks for each kid, and we had our own party hostess. They'd thought of everything as far as turn-key birthday parties go.

What I didn't anticipate was that I would be the only adult herding children into bowling groups and programming lanes and adding bumpers and putting on pairs of socks to feet that weren't my children's feet and velcroing shoes that were awkward and didn't fit all the tiny feet I didn't know. I also didn't anticipate that the girls' dad's new girl friend ('the 24 year old') would be in charge of getting the cookie cake, that she would be late, and that the day of the party would be the day I realized that she wasn't actually 'just his assistant.'

It was kind of weird, and I tried to ignore the glaringly obvious by keeping myself busy serving pizza and lemonade and giant pieces of cookie cake to 22 adorable 1st graders. At some point in the midst of my scrambling, one of Jay's friend's moms came up to me and gently asked if I was alright. The flustered look on my face was the only answer she needed, and she quickly jumped in and helped me as if she was a friend I'd known for years.

From extra slices of pizza to additional chunks of cookie, from cleaning up spills to taking pictures of Jay and me as gifts were opened, I was floored by the unexpected kindness of a complete stranger that day.

Later that night when the nagging ex-wife in me politely informed the girls' dad that a little help would have been appreciated during the party, he simply said, 'I'm sorry, you're right...but it looked like you and Super Mom had it under control - she was awesome!'

And we she did, and she was...Super Mom.

68 weeks ago, Jay came home with a box full of pictures. There were at least 100 prints, a cd, and an 8x10 - all pictures that Super Mom had taken and developed for us. Again, I was completely floored by the unexpected generosity of someone I barely knew, and I was certain that Super Mom wasn't nearly an accurate enough name for her.

When I wrote her a thank you note, I only knew was that her name was Dawn, that her daughter was a good friend of Jay's, and that I would never forget her kindness.

Nine days ago, we had a horrible and unexpected tragedy in our sweet town. A little boy in the sixth grade passed away, and he went to the same middle school where the girls will go after elementary. There is nothing I've experienced like the death of a child that instantly puts life into perfect perspective.

I felt like I'd been kicked in the shins eight days ago when the mom of one of my students informed me that her son had been in the boy's class in 4th and 5th grade. I was blown away six days ago when I read his obituary, and four days ago when I found out another one of my students would be a pall bearer, I felt like someone needed to quickly pinch me back into reality.

Two days ago, Jay came home and told me that one of her friend's brothers, who was in 6th grade, had passed away, and she was emphatic that it had to be the same boy. She explained that it was the older brother of the daughter of Super Mom...from her party last year.

I thought it couldn't possibly be true and maybe Jay had simply misunderstood.

But she was right. It was Dawn's son.

I didn't know him, but Cee knew him, and Jay just loves his little sister.

Today, I went to his funeral. I went as much for the girls as I went for the three students I teach this year who also knew him, but most of all, I went because it seemed like the very least I could do to support someone who showed me what it means to be unconditionally kind.

Today's was the first funeral I have ever attended for a child.

I've never seen a truer celebration of life, and I'm honestly sad that I didn't have the opportunity to know this boy because he sounded like an amazing little firecracker with a heart of gold and a mind that exceeded anything you'd ever in a million years expect of a sixth grader. And how could he not be with such an incredible mom as his matriarch?

When Dawn stood in front of the congregation and presented us with the eulogy for her son, I don't think there was a dry eye in the entire room. She was solid, she was confident, she was kind, and most of all, she was honest.

She did for an entire community something similar to what she did for me at Jay's birthday party. In a time of weakness, she put an entire population at ease with her comforting words of assurance. She reminded us that he is in a better place. She reinforced that he lived his young life to the fullest, and I think everyone who was there is thankful for the unassuming way she created a little bit of peace in the midst of something that seemed nearly unbearable at first glance.

70 weeks ago, Dawn got the nickname Super Mom; and after today, I've decided that Super Mom doesn't give her nearly enough credit for the strength she possesses.

For me, ever the over thinker, processing the events of the last week has been an overwhelming task. Once again, I find myself comforted by the kindness of people's spirits coming from places that are completely unexpected.

And once again, human potential quite simply astounds me.


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