Wednesday, August 27, 2008


All of the family photo albums my parents made when my brother and I were little kids include classic shots of me in tears.  I guess it is pretty funny in retrospect, but it sure didn't seem so at the time.  Now seeing my daughter in tears makes me wonder about the frustration kids must feel so often growing up.  Trying new things -- failing -- sometimes succeeding -- it must be stressful.  Since I've been a mom, it seems clear to me that this frustration is why we don't remember being babies.  Learning to eat and walk, growing teeth, climbing stairs and furniture and falling on our butts or our heads -- the stakes are too high for it to not be monumentally frustrating.  So once we learn it, we forget it -- or the process of it, anyway.  

Some people say they don't remember the pain of childbirth.  Maybe this is a similar thing -- it is so meaningful that we don't want it to live in our memories negatively -- we want it to be filled with the tearful kisses and joy of holding that new life for the first time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I got out of the house today!  Ok, ok -- I know all of you who are not encumbered with two under two have no idea how BIG this is -- just humor me for a second.  My next door neighbor, who has a newborn and a 2 1/2 year old and I, with my newborn and my 14-month old, loaded up our double strollers and walked to Milo Borden Park.  The babies slept in their strollers and enjoyed the shade and the breeze.  The big girls got to swing and climb and slide and run around.  The mammas chased and spotted and gabbed.  Not a bad effort, I must say.  We even laughed as we panted our way up the hill that had been a pleasant downward roll on the way to the park.  It felt so good to be out in the sunshine and to stretch my legs. I feel like I've been sitting for months.  The kids looked adorable enjoying what might be one of the nicest days of the summer.  Pictures, you ask?  Oh, gimme a break!  I was lucky I remembered to bring the children.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's never just black or white

Isn't it funny how some people are still afraid of the idea of having a black president?  Here is a  good read, written by a student in my dad's graduate opinion-writing course at De Paul University.  Check it out!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Paranoia, not so concealed

In the news yesterday was a story about the Harrold, Texas school district, which will allow its teachers to carry concealed firearms "to deter and protect against school shootings when classes begin next month."  As an educator, I am shocked and disappointed.  Schools have long been gun-free zones, and the group behind the decision to allow teachers to come to school packing heat suggests that this is the cause of some of the school shootings with which we are all too familiar.  Funny, I don't remember any of the disturbed teens referencing this federal policy as the reason behind their rampages.  I do remember kids who clearly had serious problems that went unnoticed or just avoided.  The story says that the district researched other options.  I wonder what those might have been?  Has the Harrold, Texas school district already maximized its security efforts with guards and metal detectors?  Has the district initiated a robust intervention program for students who display signs of trouble?  Was it just easier and cheaper to tell the teachers to defend themselves with guns?

What kind of a lesson is this for students?  I have always felt as an educator that my most important job was to demonstrate to my high school students appropriate adult behavior, civility, manners, and compassion.  It would never occur to me, despite the fact that I've taught in two tough districts -- the Bronx, NY and Newark, NJ -- to carry a gun.  My protection has always been treating others with respect.  And you know what? I was respected in return.  This is the lesson that I want my students to learn, not that they can "protect" themselves if they carry a weapon.

Let's hope that Harrold, Texas is the first and last district to make such a poor policy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What day is it?

Sitting up with Lucy in the early, early morning hours, I was thinking about why I have trouble keeping track of what day it is.  It's pretty simple, actually:  weekends are no longer days off.  Obviously, being a mom is a 24/7/365 kind of job.  But since the schedule never changes (or since there never is a schedule -- I'm not sure which), all the days are the same.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I don't have that feeling of dread anymore that was the staple of late Sunday afternoon and evening; I used to get it right around the time the second NFL game started.  I don't have to switch gears for the Monday morning rush and then again for the Friday getaway.  It's all the same, sweatpanted, barfed-on, baby-snuggling bliss.

On the flip side, my husband has to go from day job to night job on weekdays. Weekends are like the second job that doesn't pay well but gets you to the next paycheck. Even though he never stops being a dad (obviously) it's almost like moonlighting.  Don't tell the boss if you need to be out one day to take care of family business.  Try to appear to have had 8 hours of sleep and a good workout when in reality you had 4 hours of sleep and did 547 laps around the upstairs trying to ease the gas bubbles out of the newborn's belly.  I suppose it is a workout.

People hold weekends sacred because they can let it all hang out.  Since mine hangs out all the time, the need to day-worship has disappeared -- and so has some of that great anticipation of free time to come.  What am I doing this weekend?  All the same mundane diaper-changing and feeding things I did Monday through Friday -- hopefully just in the company of my husband.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pop-up books

Josephine loves pop-up books and lift-the-flap books. Anything by Karen Katz is a favorite.  She is obsessed with a Strawberry Shortcake pop-up that requires the reader to sing along with some tinny tunes.  (I confess to hiding this one from her, but of course, she's already figured it out.) 
Lately her goal seems to be to muscle the flap or pop-up right out of the book, but still, these are the ones she very seriously carries to me each day to read to her over and over again.  I recently read The Crawly Caterpillar to her, and it reminded me so much of my recent pregnancies and births:

The Crawly Caterpillar
by Judith Nicholls

Underneath a droopy leaf,
something small and yellow lay.
Who was waiting in the egg,
and who just flew away?
Something wiggled, wriggled, jiggled,
then crawled out on leafy green.
It nibbled, gnawed, and guzzled,
until the leaf could not be seen!
It nibbled, gnawed, and guzzled.
It grew and grew and grew!
"I'm sleepy now," said the caterpillar.
"I know just what I must do."
She turned into a chrysalis
and hid there, dark and still.
She slept, she dreamt, she waited;
she waited there until...
Her hiding place split open.
Out she crept with folded wings!
She spread them wide and wondered,
"Just what are these fluttery things?"
She raised them high, then higher
into the summer sky,
and sang down to her garden,
"I am a butterfly!"

Monday, August 4, 2008

Resting up

...for Monday Night Baseball!  Cubs vs. Astros, 7 p.m. EST on ESPN.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Family dinner

My husband, my two daughters, and I went out to dinner tonight.  Mostly, Michael just wanted to get me out of the house.  We attempted to go to the new branch of the Village Trattoria in South Orange, NJ, but we were not impressed by what we found when we got there.  Basic pizza place.  We decided to split and head over to Arturo's in Maplewood -- also a pizza place, but so much more.  The special pasta was fazzoletti with locally-grown organic beet greens and parmigiano reggiano.  Come on!  Why eat anywhere else?  This pasta was perfect -- hand cut and beautifully cooked.  The greens were soft but smoky from a little red onion (or maybe it was shallot) and the whole dish a bit salty from the parmigiano.  mmmmmmmm.  

Only slightly better than the food was the sight of Josephine assisting her father in demolishing Arturo's famous margherita pizza (not available for delivery due to quality control issues -- I LOVE this place).  It was a large pie.  As soon as Josephine ate the bits of pizza we gave her, she would motion to the pie and grunt.  Repeatedly.  Until she was given more to devour.  (Similar to her dad, I must say.)  Usually Josephine has piles of food in her bib and highchair after a meal, but not tonight.  She also gobbled up two of four handmade ravioli.  She ate as though we starve her at home -- and we don't.  I guess she really is our daughter, huh?

Of course I didn't have my camera with us.  I took some cell phone pictures, and if I can figure out how to get them off of my phone, I'll post them.  Until then, go to Arturo's and get yourself whatever the genius there has on special and one of those margherita pies, too.