Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Small Victories

In addition to the fact that he opted to shave without 100 nagging reminders from me, this morning JT decided he should wear a rain jacket.  He decided this after he got soaked, but progress is progress no matter when it happens.

Parenting, for the win.

Monday, April 28, 2014


These boys have been friends since they were 4 years old.  I have been hearing their chattering voices for years.  Now, at the age of 14, they have an entire vocabulary and world of their own, one rooted in the fact that they know each other so well.  On Saturday, they participated in a school community service project cleaning up a local beach.  As I listened to them talk and laugh as they worked together to tackle the task, I was reminded of the power of their friendship.  It’s a great blessing.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Slow Down

The past few weeks have passed in a blur.  It seems like I have completed every household chore just a few days late, while some have gone ignored (talking about you cobwebs).  Then my washer broke and needed replacing, creating a whole new set of troubles.  At school, things are busier than usual and though I wasn’t the source of the busy, as an administrator, it was my responsibility to deal with the challenges.  I had able help from my principal and yet the days flew by and the to-do list grew longer.  JT has games and concerts and activities that are pleasant enough but must be planned and coordinated.  By the end of last week, I was exhausted.  

I came home to chores a-plenty.  The new washer spun through the backlog of laundry that had accumulated.  But the dryer’s squealing sound was now persistent and surely must be sign of a dryer apocalypse soon to come.  By 9 pm on Friday this all seemed overwhelming.  The fact that I had to be up by 6 the next morning to take a bus load of students to the beach for a community service project wasn’t helping my attitude.

I tucked my grumbly self into bed and fell asleep almost at once, vaguely heard rain in the night, and was awake by 4:30 am, my mind already racing with the chores and obligations that must be completed.  I got up to start making lists, my preferred method of taking command.  As I stood at the back window to watch the sunrise with a cup of coffee in hand, I was still feeling rather overwhelmed.  As the light infused the sky, a cardinal landed on a branch of my slowly blooming dogwood.  It was a lovely moment, fleeting as it was, and a much-needed reminder to slow down and cope with one thing at a time.

So I am taking a deep breath and facing the day’s challenges, reminded that this too shall pass.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Flower Friday

Tulips have begun to arrive in my corner of the world.  As the cheerful daffodils begin to fade, the stately tulips have taken center stage.  They will be followed by other blooms.  The reddish leaves in this picture are my peony bush, a treat from last Spring.

In another corner of the flowerbeds, a patch of hostas grows alongside the tulips that are getting ready to bloom.  

In keeping with the theme of the past Winter, we’re having a cool Spring, with few days that have managed to creep over 70.  Despite the chill, the Spring light in the mornings and at twilight is lovely.  To me, the relative mildness of the air and the lingering daylight over newly bloomed flowers, trees and plants is downright magical.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Real Life Texts with KO: Family Laundry edition

The backstory:  For most of my childhood, I lived rather in awe of my mother’s brother, my Uncle Dave.  Dave was loud and energetic and was the only person I knew who could boss my mom around. Uncle Dave was a force of nature and when he visited our house he would occasionally sit on the sofa and watch TV in his underwear, an impressive feat that none of the rest of us attempted.  JT has recently taken to removing his pants when he gets home.  Though Dave has been gone for a while, it seemed to me that JT was channeling his spirit.  I notified my sister.

Me:  JT has taken to sitting around the house in his underwear.  I blame Uncle Dave.

KO:  Fair enough, although I think you should consider blaming adolescence.

Me:  I am not convinced there is a difference.

For what it’s worth, if JT grew up to be like Uncle Dave, he’d be a kind, big-hearted, well-loved man.  One without pants, of course, but we all have our quirks.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Amidst the Chaos

I always forget the degree to which life goes insane just as spring takes off.  There is baseball and the start of end-of-the-year school events.  Add in final projects and assignments to be complete and the school year seems to come to a roaring close.

A mama like me needs a moment of zen in the midst of the hurry and these were mine last weekend.  I added some ribbon to craft paper eggs and dumped them all in a polka dot bucket.  

I added some pretty packages.

Cheerful is always happy.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Play Ball

Just as the major league players got started on pre-season preparation, JT’s own baseball season has arrived.  He’s working on hitting and catching and we’ve made some visits to the batting cages.  His baseball bag is filled with all his equipment and is being hauled to school every day.

Last year’s baseball season began in the cold Spring and I had hopes that our beloved Miss Amy would be well enough to attend a game or two, renewing our tradition.  As the season unfolded, it became painfully clear that Miss Amy wouldn’t see a game.  Years of game time chats and cheering on our favorite ball player came to a very sad end last April.

I think of Amy as the season unfolds.  She would have really loved watching our boy take a swing, steal a base, and guard the plate.  As each game begins, I think of her spirit and laughter.  I hear her voice in my head and I cheer a little louder in her honor.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Flower Friday

It’s an all-daffodil display around my house.  In this week’s chilly rain, they were a lovely treat to see each day.

Tulips aren’t far behind.  I have several sets planted, including these in the flower pots near my front steps.
That’s happy!

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Spring is a waiting season and it comes on slow at first.  A few crocus flowers emerge and when they begin to bloom, daffodils and tulips begin to poke through the soil.  The trees and forsythia look expectant but remain seemingly unchanged in the quiet woods.  At just a glance, it seems as if Spring may never arrive.  

There is a wooded drive near my house and when the weather turns mild, I make every excuse to drive it, on the lookout for any sign that the trees will begin to green up.  I am impatient for progress and yearn for the leaves and flowers to arrive.  It always seems to happen overnight.  Last weekend’s Friday night rain and mild Saturday and Sunday were just the ticket and this week the displays have really begun.

The woods have a haze of green and more will rapidly follow.  The splendid tulip trees, which bloom early, are on full display all over town.
The forsythia have turned bright yellow.
In some sunny areas, pink and white dogwoods have begun to bloom.  Mine lives in more shade and is just now getting ready to pop open.
As sure as the days are getting longer, more warmth will arrive.  It will bring tulips and lush grass; hostas and soil warm enough for dahlia bulbs.  Garden daydreams occupy my free time.  Spring, you are lovely.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Consolation Prize

A few weeks ago, I was at Ikea and the soundtrack was awesome ‘80s music of the alternative/college radio station type.  I was reminded of my college days in Los Angeles.  I strolled around, feeling young and hip.  In the lighting department was a couple, not particularly young by my observation, and they were also enjoying the music.  The woman said to the man, “The 80s had such great music,” and I silently nodded my agreement.  And then things took a turn when the man responded,  “It would have been great to be alive then.”

He wasn’t referring to being old enough to have appreciated ‘80s music in the actual 1980s.  No, he was noting that he wasn’t even alive in the ‘80s.  Internet, in that Ikea moment I faced reality: I’m old.

At least I have cool music as consolation.

Monday, April 14, 2014

4 Minutes

When my baby was first born 14 years ago, a friend told me, “the nights are long, but the years are short.”  At the time, with a newborn who had reversed his days and nights, the nights are long part of that statement seemed all too true.  As for short years, time quickly showed me the truth of that notion.

I’ve taken to sharing the idea when friends of mine have newborns and I think of it when my tall teenage boy lopes up the stairs two at a time.  Dutch filmmaker Frans Hoffmeester must have heard a similar adage.  His incredible work with film of his daughter Lotte is well worth a viewing.  It’s a reminder of just how fleeting time can be.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Real Life Conversations with T: Fiber edition

The backstory: T and I scored breakfast at Mickey D’s on Saturday morning in advance of a trip to the car wash.

S:  My Egg McMuffin wrapper promises that this sandwich features 8 grams of whole wheat.  That seems unlikely.

T:  They are including the paper wrapper.

Nutrition, for the win.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Real Life Conversations at School: Bankers edition

The backstory:  My 6th graders are studying Medieval Europe and are designing their own coat of arms.  As part of that process, we learned about the symbols, colors, and themes of medieval heraldry.  This entailed exposure to some new words.

Student K:  What does fidelity mean?

Me:  It means that someone is honest, faithful, and trustworthy.

Student T:  Oh, that’s why banks use it in their names.

Student M:  Banks?  They aren’t trustworthy at all.  They shouldn’t use that word to describe themselves.

This declaration was accepted as fact by the class.  Banks, take note: the 6th grade knows what you have done and they don’t approve.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Flower Friday: April 11

The week has been a lovely combination of rain and sunny days, some edging toward 70 degrees.   The flower bulbs have taken note and if I had the time to pause and watch, I would practically be able to see them growing taller.  Prospects are best in the flowerbeds that receive the most sun.  That’s the case here, in my front yard.
And along the hostas in the backyard, where these cheerful daffodils greeted me this week.
Prospects for more flowers are good and a few more days of warmth and sunlight will bring about a burst of green everywhere.  That’s happy!

Monday, April 07, 2014

Real Life Conversations with T: Gaydar Adjustment edition

The backstory: T and I are watching Flea Market Finds and there are two women looking to sell a chair.  We have an unkind inside joke about certain lesbian couples who look so much like one another that they qualify as dyke-alikes.

T:  Are they a couple?  They don’t look alike.

S:  Of course they are a couple.  They are wearing matching plaid shirts.

Claims were made about glasses and picture quality, but either way, I win.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Flower Friday

Yesterday, the temperature soared past 65 and the sunlight and warmth seemed to make us all giddy.  At school, the 5th and 6th graders burst outside for recess in the open air.   At home, my neighbors were walking their dogs, pushing strollers, riding bikes, and lighting their grills for bbq suppers.  I spent some time in the porch rocker, absorbing it all.  My front yard flowerbeds face north and the blooms take a little longer to present themselves.  As usual, the little crocus flowers appear first.

The tulip and daffodil bulbs that survived the squirrels are growing a bit every day.

It feels like we’ve turned a corner and Spring has embraced us.  Lovely!

Thursday, April 03, 2014


During the school year I’m an early riser, waking up around 5:30 am.  Once the clocks are moved forward, it is dark at that hour.  But I hear the birds chirping; often the very first sign of Spring.  We don’t have many blooms to show for ourselves right now but the birds are a lovely treat each day, a welcome sign of the blooms, warmth, and light that will soon fill our days.  That’s happy!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Big Bet

The Backstory:  As New Jersey’s own Governor Christie positions himself for a 2016 run for the presidency, I am considering the implications of a President Christie.  This is the first in a series of occasional discussions about the real leadership of Governor Christie.  Spoiler alert: I’m not a fan.

A few months ago, on-line gambling became legal in New Jersey.  From the comfort of our own homes, we can sink ourselves into debt and despair.  The on-line casino ads, which are everywhere, suggest how much fun it would be to roll the dice while going about our daily business.  The ads are clever, though a closer look is always chilling to me.  Somehow, I find it hard to believe that that regular folks cast a fishing line and then pick up their iPhone to play a round of poker.  Something tells me that on-line gambling is a lot less benign than the adverts suggest..  

In fact, legalization was a calculated decision by the state, which hopes to fill its coffers with millions of dollars.  Governor Christie’s fiscal year 2014 budget is counting on a $160 million a year from the games.  Thus far, the state has pulled in just 2% of that, a grand total of just north of 3 million.  There is no way that New Jersey will come close to the forecast $160 million.  In the event that we did approach that total, it would be a function of choosing a method of fundraising that is morally bankrupt.  It seems like a poor choice.

I  don’t oppose the existence of Las Vegas, and goodness knows I’m not opposed to gambling, per se.  I’ve bought the occasional Power Ball ticket (when the ads come on the telly warning me not to invest my life savings in lottery tickets, I know the time to buy a ticket has arrived).  I play in the office March Madness pool.  But I am aware that the primary losers in the gambling world are typically folks who can ill-afford to lose.  It horrifies me that my state, a place notorious for its environment of corruption, has chosen gambling to try and balance its budget.  The entire idea is simply ridiculous.  There is cold comfort in the notion that we will fail.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

April 1: Your Monthly Dogwood

We had a truckload of rain over the weekend and once the flood waters recede, some warmth and sunlight is expected this week.  That sets the stage for an explosion of green outdoors.  The forsythia usually go first, with bright yellow flowers.  Then the grass will turn a lush green color, a daffodil or two will open, and and shortly the dogwood will get in on the action.  It’s clearly getting ready.

But blooms are not imminent.

So I wait, checking out the tree each morning, hopeful if not quite patient.