Friday, November 22, 2013

Hit or Miss

Some days are a hit: everything goes well, the lunch is packed, eaten and enjoyed, the friends are friendly, fun and funny, and the world is a happy little fishbowl of harmoniously swimming guppies.

Other days, everything SUCKS. I have starred in both of these lately.

Having two little ones is a challenge, and God bless those with more. Two littles and a full-time job PLUS planning a dance production, attempting to prep/clean up for the holidays, trying to get ahead with new technology and basically trying to SURVIVE is straight chaos. Unmitigated, step-over-the-landmine-if-you-can CHAOS.

Case in point: The Halloween decorations that I put up (early, mind you) were painstakingly taken down and put in the upstairs hallway, the limbo before the attic. They are still there. Thanksgiving is in one week. I have had no time to put them into the actual attic.

Time has been flying by so quickly, and while I do feel like I am accomplishing a lot, sleep is falling by the wayside. I haven't slept a normal night since, oh, August. And it's taking a toll.

Like, if anyone asks me a question that requires a complex answer, I will SHANK them. But in an attempt to stay eloquent:

As one who is lucky enough to be a full-time teacher during the year and a full-time stay-at-home-mom during the summer, I have experienced the joys and trials of both. And while I have always been upfront about the fact that being a SAHM is harder than my job, yesterday was an exception. Yesterday, I spent my workday prepping and planning for Parent-Teacher Conferences, which is usually not a big deal; the same types of parents asking the same types of questions: "How do we motivate him?" "Why won't she stop talking?" and while every student truly is special and unique, their age group brings about certain factions of questions. So it's a fairly easy, albeit repetitive, evening. 

So while the familiarity of my 20th PT Conference was a relief, the fact that I wouldn't see my kids was a bummer. John is in a deliciously huggy stage, and while Em's behavior of late indicates that she's growing into a strong-willed little lady, she's still my redheaded angel, and I wanted to hang out with her. 

But I missed it. I missed a whole day. Yes, I went home during my break, nursed my son and made my daughter dinner. Yes, I read her new "book," listened to her stories about school, made her favorite sandwich and snacks for tomorrow's lunch and helped her with her sticker book. I helped her choose a movie and comfy pjs and a cute tv show to watch until her Daddy got home. Yes, I kissed them before I left, told them I loved them, and promised I'd be back soon.

But I missed everything else. I missed whatever Em and her babysitter (who I adore) were laughing about when I came home, I missed her smile when she got out of school, I missed her crazy after-school excitement when she's bursting to tell me the latest thing Madison/Addison said/wore in class. I missed putting her to bed, and hearing her sleepy "Love you, Mama" right before she falls asleep. I missed Chubby's latest mischievous foray into the snack cabinet. I missed it. Missed it all.

There are times when parenthood is a hit or miss. Sometimes I hit all the marks and feel like Supermom. Other days I feel like I've been hit by a bus because I missed the moments. 

I drove home knowing I'd had a successful workday, but the buzz wore off knowing I'd be coming home to to a sleeping house. Luckily, John was awake, watching tv with his dad, a chubby mini-shadow of his future self. He didn't turn to look at me when I got in the door, but when he heard my voice, he ran to me with his arms in the air. And even though I was exhausted, even though I had spent the last five hours talking to other people about their children and wanted to get out of my suit and into my bed, I picked him up, and held him close.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

13 Things

So the Facebook world is sharing this new trend: here are some facts about yours truly.

1.     I have to write every day; recently it’s been in a blog that I’m considering sharing called Marlethemom. But it’s not quite ready yet. I’ll keep you posted. (haha - guess you figured that one out!)

2.     I’m a chronic and compulsive list-maker. I have lists of “things to do” “songs/steps to choreograph/to” “people to reach out to” and about a million other crazy ones. I make them all the time, every day, and I have a special notebook with just lists in it.

3.     I love paper, notes, post-its, cards, stationery, pens, and anything to do with books and words. In another life, I own a paeperie in Paris that I tend to at night after I dance at the Paris Opera Ballet. (Since this is my fantasy life, I also have really great hair.)

4.     I believe in heaven; I believe that babies choose us as parents, and I believe I will see all my loved ones again one day. Some days that belief gets me through the fact that my grandfathers never met my husband or my children.

5.     The fact that my husband proposed to me in Paris is one of the most poetic things that has ever happened in my life. I feel confident that when I am old, I will remember that day with clarity, though I might forget my own name. Ditto for our wedding day.

6.     Anyone who knows me already knows how much I love my job; I feel called to be a teacher and I am proud and happy to be one every day. (Not ALL day every day, but every day.) I think teaching is an honor and a privilege, and I feel lucky to get to know some very cool people when they’re just kids. I’m forever indebted to the three men who gave me my start in teaching. Also, the classes of 2000 and 2010 will always have a special place in my heart – I started teaching when 2000 were in sixth grade, and for the seven years I knew the class of 2010, I met my husband, got engaged, got married, got pregnant and had my daughter. 

7.     If I wasn’t a teacher, I’d be a dancer, but in my dream life I’d also be longer and leaner. I am so happy that my daughter has my husband’s build. I will never push her to be a dancer, but I am thrilled that she loves it, and that she already has the physical gifts if she wants them.

8.     My love for The Great Gatsby is deep and real! Even though I can quote almost the entire book, I love when my students point out something I didn’t know. I could read it all day and I think the language is beautiful.

9.     When I was 21, I competed in a national dance championship in Virginia Beach; my grandfather was in the hospital, nearing the end of his battle with cancer. Before I went onstage, there was a blackout in the building except for the light I was standing under. I felt like it was a sign from God. I asked Him for help and I got it; I gave the performance of my life, won my division, and brought the trophy home to my grandfather.

10. There are certain songs and scenes that never fail to make me cry (happy or sad tears), no matter how many times I’ve seen, read or heard them. John Proctor’s speech at the end of The Crucible, the end of The Great Gatsby, the end of Steel Magnolias, the music I choreographed Frank McCarthy’s tribute to, the music when the Christmas tree grows in The Nutcracker…the list goes on…

11. I have ridiculously sharp and accurate hearing that seems to get better with age. I hear EVERYTHING, from whispers to noises to full conversations, even from the other side of the room. My students try to test me with this skill, and I always catch them. That being said, it’s not a gift I asked for, and I often end up hearing things I DO NOT want to know.

12. I have a deep affinity and respect for anything having to do with the ocean, and I feel most at peace there. One of my dreams is to have a home on Martha’s Vineyard, which is my happy place. I wear an anchor around my neck every day for about a hundred different reasons, and loving the ocean is one of them. Having ancestors who were fishermen is another.

13. I love my children deeply and fiercely and am amazed that I physically created them. It blows my mind.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dear Lord, this is...

...not easy. Thus far, my kids have destroyed three rooms in the house, and I'm hiding upstairs until I hear one of them call my name.

And there it is. Later!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

From Mom to Mom

Being a teacher yields so many gifts: being around young, enthusiastic, energetic people all day; getting to talk about the things I love and hopefully can inspire others to feel the same way; the list goes on. But one of my favorite parts of teaching is seeing who these people are going to be one day. So while I would not be so bold as to "friend" a former student on Facebook, I am always happy to accept their requests, and to see who they have become. 

The class of 2000 was always so special to me. As a new teacher, fresh out of college, I was given a one-week chance to prove myself and my potential to a class of sixth-graders while their teacher was on leave. I was twenty-two, and they were twelve. That ten-year gap seemed enormous then, but not quite large enough! To be honest, I was as excited as I was terrified. Luckily, I not only survived the week, I enjoyed it. I was hired, and managed to teach this group of students as seventh-, ninth- and eleventh-graders. Needless to say, I will remember all of them, and in a way, I feel like we grew up together. 

And watching them grow up has been fantastic; I've attended their weddings, held their babies, applauded their many successes and prayed for their stumbles. And then one of my students gave birth to a beautiful little boy who looked just like his Mama and Uncle - same olive skin, same smile, same hair, same beautiful eyes - and I watched the student I once knew grow into a mom, and a voice and an advocate for all moms of babies with Down Syndrome, which is one very small piece of who this little sweetie is. As I watched her October posts bring awareness to all of us during this month, I wrote this to her and posted it on her Facebook wall.

From Mom to Mom: Dear Danielle,

As a mother, and your former teacher, all I can say is how incredibly proud I am of you. I hope I’m not overstepping a line by posting this on fb, but I wanted to tell you that I think you are amazing, and I'm sure I’m not the only one!

When you were in high school, you were bold, bright, and beautiful. You were also blessed with talent, intelligence, and confidence, which is a powerful combination. When you graduated, I thought, “That girl is going to make the world listen to her.” I had no idea how true this would be!

I’ve learned something every day from reading your fb posts. You have educated us, informed us, and reminded us that names, labels, and diagnoses really don’t mean what we think they mean, and that love can change anything. You will always be an educator, and most importantly, Drew’s advocate. True, his challenges will be your challenges, but his triumphs will be your triumphs, because you taught him and encouraged him every step of the way.

I am so happy that you have been blessed with the joy of motherhood, but more than that, I am so happy for baby Drew. I believe in my heart that all babies come from heaven, and that they choose us as their parents. I believe Drew chose you for his mom. And I believe it was the first, and certainly not the last, brilliant and remarkable thing he did.

I’m sorry I will not be able to walk by your side for Drew’s Crew, but I will always be in your corner!

Marla Pascucci-Byrne

The moral of the story: Say what you mean. Life is short. I was so proud of her and wanted to take a few minutes to tell her so. There are times in life when I haven't said what I was thinking, or the writer in me took over and kept saying "It's just not right," and the revisions have taken forever, and the moment has passed me by. But this time I wrote from the heart. Sure, I double and triple checked it, but I wanted her to get it while she was in the moment. I'll always be happy I did.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Girl

How is it possible that I have a five-year-old daughter? It's true. Tonight at 12:33 marks the 5th birthday of my firstborn. I am amazed that I could love someone this much. But I am not perfect, and I make mistakes. So here is my flawed letter to my beautiful girl:

Dearest Emerson,

Tomorrow morning, you will be five years old. Mommy remembers everything about the day you were born - how excited and nervous I was, how tired and hopeful and crazy and scared and happy. How I wanted so much to see your little face, and how you turned out to look so different than I imagined, and how perfect and beautiful you were from the very first moments you were here. I will always love you with everything that I am,and I will always be here to support you and your dreams with love and strength and a listening ear.

Age 4 brought a lot of changes for you.You got a new brother just about two months before your birthday last year, and it was a positive adjustment. You went to New York, Canada and Martha's Vineyard. You had your third dance recital, you went to Pre-K at Saint Joseph's in Wakefield and started Kindergarten at Saint Patrick's in Stoneham. You finished your time at Miss Eileen's. You were a flower girl in my cousin's wedding and you stole the show. You always, always, steal everyone's hearts, especially your Nanny. You said goodbye to your babysitter Jesse as she left for camp and then college, and you sent her letters to both places. When I leave for work in the morning, you run to the window to wave or open the door and yell, "I love you! I love you so much!"and some mornings I hide the tears so you can't see them. You had a birthday party at our house with a 'princess bouncy house," just like you wanted. 

Some days, Mommy is a great Mommy and makes you smile and laugh. Some days I am not. When you are old enough to read this, really read this, I will tell you about the days you made me crazy. About the days when I told you to get dressed for the twelfth time so we wouldn't be late. About the days when you wanted to hide under your covers and I had to dress you there. About the times when I got frustrated and yelled at you, and always ultimately made myself feel worse for upsetting you, but didn't know how to handle the situation better. About the times I had to referee you and your one-year-old brother. About the time I wrote a note to your teacher at school, telling her you had a little cold and packing you some nice little tissues, and you took it out of your folder and stuffed it into your backpack so she wouldn't see it. (You came clean later, but it was gutsy. You told me you "didn't want to be different" and I respect it. But wow.) About the weird dynamic that evolves between your Nanny, you and me when we are together, and how your Nanny feels I'm too hard on you, so she overcompensates by spoiling you, which makes me mad. About how sorry I am that I'm not as patient as I could be, and how I will strive to be the best Mommy I can be.

The world is here for you, and I want to give it to you with both of my hands. Tonight you told me I was "the best Mommy in the world" and I hope you always feel this way. I hope you always feel the love I have for you, and as we grow, we will grow together.

All my heart,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


My little, beautiful boy took his first steps today!!!!!

It started out like any ordinary day - hectic and stressful. To be honest, the nighttime routine is anything but relaxing, the sleeping hours and restless, and the morning chaos is unnerving. After a few weeks of this with some busy weekends in between, I have been TAXED.

And then, out of the blue, my little son stood at the couch, reached for me, and took three beautiful baby steps into my arms.

And suddenly, the world was a beautiful place to be.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Any day now

What a month - so much is happening. I can't even.

Okay, so here's a bulleted list:
  • Em is in kindergarten and has more little things to do than I can handle. In addition to becoming a mom who packs lunch and snack every day, I now wash uniforms, lay out uniforms (down to the socks and undies, plus coordinating hair bows and headbands), check and empty school folders, put all over the completed papers into a nice binder, and generally attempt to manage the tornado of little assignments ("Bring a family photo! Bring three apples! What is the date of your Baptism?  Bring a photo of your Christening Day!") not to mention the barrage of invitations for birthday parties for children whose names I do not yet know and parents I have not yet met. It's EX.HAUS.TING.
  • John is moving and grooving. In addition to his tiny little bottom teeth that started showing just before he turned one, he now has two top teeth that are poking out and looking exactly like his sister's. It's so cute I can't even describe it. He's cruising around the house and getting into everything: the cabinets under the sink, the (formerly) neatly folded t-shirt stacks in his sister's bottom drawer, my trash can. He is harder to nurse now, but I am incredibly proud of myself and of him for sticking with it so long. He is purely lovely and mischievous and I want to squeeze him all day.
Some days, life is heaven. Other days, it's another story. But seeing them look up at me makes think of a sweet moment I shared with my mom. I had asked her when she felt like a grown up, when she truly felt like she'd arrived on the doorstep of adulthood. I expected her to say something like, "When you graduated from college," or "When you got married" - but her response was something I had never expected.

"Any day now," she said, and smiled.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Back to Cool

Oh, happy day! My classroom is a light, beautiful, baby blue! Sigh...

Let me back up. I have been teaching at APS for twenty years, and the color scheme has always been a variation of green; that is, mint green subway-tiled walls in the hallways, and classrooms with various shades of beige. Despite my love for all things Bobbi Brown, that vanilla/beige color on walls does little for the complexion or the spirit. So I sent an email to my facilities coordinator to see if I could use this light blue paint my husband and used for our bedroom

My facilities coordinator came up with an even better idea: they had some light blue paint left over from the nurse's office, and they she'd have the summer kids paint for me! So exciting!

Honestly, it is so refreshing and light - I love it! Sometimes it's the littlest things =)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Happiest of birthdays, my love!

People often say that life is measured by the moments that take your breath away. My darling John Sawyer turned one this month, and in the days since then, here is how he has done just that:

My dearest, darling son,

Every day with you is a blessing, a surprise, an adventure, and a beautiful song. You have made me the proudest Mommy, and I thank you for making my life complete. You fill my heart with wonder and joy, and I fall in love with you every day. You are growing so fast, and I stand in awe at your curiosity, intelligence, and inquisitive smile. You love your big sister so much, and you want so badly to do everything she does. You watch so carefully and try things yourself right away! Here are some of the things you have learned to do this month:

  • You crawled up an entire flight of stairs, opened the door at the top, and yelled, "Ma-MAH!"
  • You stood atop his sister's chair and tried to turn the lights on and off
  • When I took the chair away to prevent you from doing it again, you dragged it back into place, tried again, this time crawling from the chair to the table!
  • You climbed up onto a box of blocks, sat there proudly and smiled away.
  • You stand proudly and love inching along furniture.
  • You love to open doors, play with hinges and any kind of button, and you take batteries out of the remote and roll them around.
  • You grew two little edges of your bottom middle teeth, and the top ones are just showing little white shadows of coming through.
  • You try to type too:                            b   

           ,;hdc       m,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,n,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,mm,,      c         bb
             B          ?X   \ CC

        MJ  cv   00bvn
0n6b                                                                                                                                    000V           V 0                0 .  0 

I love you with every part of my heart, my little love. Stay smart, happy and inquistive. Thank you for making me your Mommy.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Timing is All

If you had seen me a few years back (okay, like 12) you'd probably have seen me with my friend C. Generously blessed with a beautiful smile, enviable cheekbones and an inherent sense of style, C was my sidekick in my single days. Together we went to clubs that are no longer in business, drank way too many things with the cute suffix -tini (flirtini! apple-tini!) and frolicked along the Boston sidewalks, waiting for our princes to come. More than a decade later, our tastes have changed in some ways, but not the important ones. True, marriage and children have made us more mature than material, but getting together still feels fun and light. Last week, we finally cleared some time to get together at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum last week. Even though the weather and the littles schedules made our visit together a short one, it was wonderful to see each other. It was like no time had passed at all, which is the best kind of friendship, don't you think? In any case, I felt rejuvenated by seeing my dear friend, and though I could have talked to her all day, our small visit gave me a large dose of happy.

However, my daughter, like her grandmother, has the "more is more" philosophy when it comes to playdates. For example, last Friday, my parents and I took the Em and John to Chuck E. Cheese, which I usually don't enjoy. The food is usually mediocre, the noise level is unparalleled, and I have to spend a fortune to come home with a "prize" that usually breaks or gets lost immediately. But Em loves it. Anyway, our visit last week was surprisingly fun; the menu included a salad bar, John was happily noshing away on pizza crust, and Em played games, won a zillion tickets, and earned a licorice stick. A few hours later, full and happy, we headed home.

Whew, Game over, I thought while driving.
"Mommy?" Em perked up.
"What's up, pal?"
"Where are we going now?"
Going? Is she serious? I'm going to pass out. "We're going home now, Em. Aren't you tired?"
"Well, after we left Chuck E. Cheese, the fun kind of deflated out of the day."

I had to smile; not only did her use of the word "deflated" crack me up, but I realized she is at that wonderful point of childhood, where everything is magical and exciting. The romantic in me loves her desire for adventure and zest for more, while the realist in me wants to get home, wash her hands twelve times and feed her vegetables.

So I remind myself of the childhood memories I have, of the fun times that seemed like they lasted for hours. Maybe they were only moments. But when I look back on them, I get that same rejuvenated feeling. That same rush. And I smile.

Summer sighting: I actually shot baskets cleanly through the hoop. The things we do for love (and tickets at Chuck E. Cheese.)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


In my adult life, I've been moved by the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, so much so that I've given one of my children his surname. I wanted my beloved child to have that powerful yet reserved strength as a piece of their identity, and feel as confident and sure as the writer himself did. (Of course this American Literature teacher also had a moment of remorse when I looked at the six-pound wee babe to whom I'd bequeathed this singular, yet daunting name. Said child has certainly lived up to it. But I digress.) Emerson is a master of words, and one of his most famous and impressive writings is his essay Self-Reliance, which I love, and which I'll circle back to in a moment. 

Anyway, my husband and I returned from an idyllic vacation a few weeks ago to a small host of craziness, including, but not limited to the following: 

  • a failed central air system most likely caused by the external compressor being hit by lightening
  • a failing set of appliances, including the dishwasher and stove
  • a painstakingly-researched big screen tv that not only flickered and died for seemingly no reason, but which will also take six to eight weeks to repair

Did I mention that all of this happened during a six-day heatwave
No AC. No TV. No patience.

We had just come back from this decadent vacation where so much was wonderful and fun, and the re-entry to regular life seemed cruel, not to mention financially dreadful. Though my husband's suggestion of attempting the remainder of the summer AC-free was appealing to my wallet, it was tough on my psyche. I don't fare well in the heat, and while I may have waved a delicately embroidered handkerchief while I glistened in the sun under a parasol in a past life, in this one, the heat makes me feel faint, sleepy and triggers my asthma. In a word: Unfun.

I felt so helpless and upset. I complained about it to my friends, family, and anyone who would listen. What I came to realize was that it was time to take a page from my favorite writer (in every sense) and step up. Yes, the above things were certainly annoying and undeserved. But at the end of the day, there are two little people who rely on me. And as much as I can rant and snark about what's going on, my daughter still needs a clean soccer shirt for her lesson tomorrow, my son still needs his jelly sandwich cut up into little squares, and I still need to kiss and hug them to get back to where I need to be. 

"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Other Woman, or Other Mom, Part Deux

A few posts ago, I talked about Other Mom, my new mom pal whose adorable twins gave my kids the most wonderful playdate we'd ever had. Today we decided to tempt fate and go to the zoo together in an attempt at a repeat performance.

It worked.

I don't know exactly how it happens, but it starts with the kids getting along so well. Three children together can pose a challenging dynamic in regular situations, and when two of the three are siblings, let alone twins, you may be in for a twisty ride. But with these kiddos, their chemistry is palpable and their enthusiasm is contagious.

As for the parents, we get along so well, which is pretty terrific, seeing that many playdates involve kids who are only minutely interested in each other while the parents chatter away, or parents who look at each other awkwardly while their kids are tearing up the playground together. But fortunately, we mesh. Other Mom says things that are literally about to come out of my mouth; she is fair and funny, and she holds her kids to high, but not unreasonable standards. We are similar enough that we give the same warnings and expect the same rules about behavior, and eating, et cetera, but we are different enough that I think, "Hm, I'm using that,"when she comes up with a creative way to handle a situation. Similarly, when I see behavior in her children that I see in my own, it gives me perspective. 

Her sweet daughter brings our the best in mine, and her little son was content to push my son's stroller around the entire zoo. After a few moments in front of the misters, her son gave mine a mohawk, with his little waves peaking straight. It was only one of the adorable moments of the day.

After a playdate with this family, I feel happy and validated, while other playdates leave me feeling frazzled and in need of a nap or a nip.

The only downside is that I kind of feel like I am cheating on some of my other mom friends. Just don't tell them, ok? I'll let them down easy. It's not them, it's me.

Summer sighting and fun fact: Koala bears sleep 20 hours a day. I am jealous.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Chronological confusion: I Guess This is Growing Up

Our vacation was spectacular, don't get me wrong. But during our getaway, I started to notice little things about my daughter that made me tilt my head and say, Hmm. My little girl is growing up. Maybe it's because John's inherent roly-poly babyness is so apparent; he's crawling so fast now, he screeches "Da-DAH" with joy when he sees my husband and "Mumumum" when he sees me. His littleness makes her bigness seem bigger, and yet my daughter is only about to turn five. How is this happening?

Most importantly, does this make us grown-ups? I remember asking my mother when she felt like a grown-up. I expected her to answer with something familiar, like, "When I had you," or "When you graduated from college." Her answer: "Any day now." 

She was 40 then. I'm 42 now.

I guess part of my chronological confusion lies in the fact that time seems to be passing in a different way now that I have children. As a teacher, I have always been aware of the preciousness of time: I only have a few months to teach this unit/weeks to finish this book/minutes to grade this paper. In the classroom, I am constantly and consistently keeping an eye on the clock in both a literal and figurative sense. But with my children, it's different. I feel shocked when I see my daughter's skinny ankles peeking out of her favorite fleece pants that were inches too long a few months ago. I am floored when I turn to see my son inching along the couch in a valiant attempt to steal the tv remote.

Sure, I throw almost all their clothing in the dryer (the days of calmly draping my delicates over my shower rod to dry for the day are long gone) but my lack of laundry skills isn't solely responsible for her floods. And yes, I knew John would start to pull up and creep along furniture one day, since his love of anything with buttons has been apparent since he took my calculator off my desk. While nursing. 

In short, I knew they'd start to grown up. I just didn't know it would happen so fast.

I think my children are so special, so wondrous and so incredible - not in the idyllic sense of "Oh, I believe they are perrrrfect," but in the very real sense of being awed by the things they say and do, and the glimpses of the people they will become. When my daughter offers the last bite of ice cream to her brother, when my son reaches his chubby arms to his sister and tries to bite her face (which is his version of kissing), when the two of them literally look for each other and smile even when they were duelling moments ago with the straws from their drinks, I am humbled by the grace they possess. 

I hope I can live up to it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Martha's Vineyard, My Island Home

Though I can proudly call Boston my home, MV has my heart; there is something so special about this Island! When I was student here many years ago (in Northeastern's  MV Summer Workshop) I just fell in love with it. Everything about it was so quaint and lovely, and the ancestral Italian fishermen in my past must have sent me a siren song to love it. It worked. 

So imagine how excited I was to bring my two little ones to the Island for the first time this summer! I planned a trip for all of us that would celebrate both the 4th of July (which tends to be a hectic holiday around here) and my 6th anniversary on July 7. 

On Wednesday the 3rd, we checked into the most fabulous hotel, The Harbor View in Edgartown. (Originally, we were supposed to stay at a little Inn called the Hob Knob - also known as the Hob Snob, as they didn't allow children,forgot to mention that when I booked the place weeks ago, and subsequently asked us to leave. I was livid, but ironically, the manager wrangled us a room at the Harbor View, which was where I wanted to stay all along.) The Harbor View is like an upscale Kellerman's from Dirty Dancing - plenty of activities for the kids, which was perfect. We just fell in love with the place. We had dinner at The Wharf and enjoyed Red, White and Blueberry Ice Cream at Mad Martha's, of course! I bumped into former Austin students Bridget and Shannon Kent while walking in Edgartown, and we capped off the night with a night swim for Emerson - who swam with noodles for the first time!

On Thursday the 4th, we hung out at the hotel all day; after an amazing buffet at Water Street, we visited the Edgartown Lighthouse and took part in all the festivities: stringing star beads for 4th of July necklaces, making ice cream, watching the annual Edgartown parade and trying to secure the best seats for the fireworks. Though the actual fireworks were so hazy because of the mugginess, it was an idyllic day. Em was excited, John fell asleep, and it was a wonderful celebration. I also bumped into Max Gouveia, who I taught at Austin and who works at the hotel.

We took a midnight cab ride over to the Wesley Hotel in Oaks Bluff, which was an perfectly located as it was run down and creepy. We slept on the towels I packed, and vowed never to stay there again. Bye, Wesley Hotel. See ya never!

On Friday the 5th, we checked out the Gingerbread Houses, which Em loved, and had breakfast at Linda Jean's, where we bumped into another student - Miss Molly Waitt, who nannies in OB. Small world. We also took the kids to the Flying Horses Carousel, which was so sweet. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, because the horses, although ancient, still spark excitement in every child and adult. Em was so adorable and streeeetched out to reach for the brass ring, which gave me a Catcher in the Rye flashback. I can't believe how fast she's growing up. We headed back to Edgartown (whew!)  to stay at the Chappy House Cottage at the Kelley House Hotel, a sister Hotel to the Harbor View and had an incredible dinner on the roof deck at the Seafood Shanty. I saw Sean and Julianne Lenehan (more Austin grads) and was so proud to learn that Jules was teaching English in Thailand.

On Saturday the 6th, we had a very chill day by the pool. Em and Peter flew her ladybug kite by the lighthouse and went to the beach while John and I relaxed and took a long stroll. Traveling with two little kids means we have to "divide and conquer," especially to keep them both happy. But a nice anniversary dinner at Alchemy was just the ticket. Pete and I did shots to celebrate, which was hilarious. I'm sure the waiter thought we were crazy.

Sunday the 7th was our last day, and we chilled by the pool again before our last lunch at the Atlantic, and did a little shopping, where I finally got my Martha's Vineyard Alex and Ani bracelet. Our taxi driver was so fun - he was also a 7/7/07 groom and drove us out to the East Chop lighthouse where he had his ceremony. Talk about if everything on the Island wasn't enchanting enough...

...and I can't wait to go back.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Happy anniversary to the man who proposed to me in the most romantic city in the world. I will always love you, the beautiful family we have created together, and, of course, Paris. 7/7/07

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Best date ever

What a day - what a date! After a morning at the "Protecting God's Children" workshop (sponsored by St. Patrick's School) and a too-cute morning trying on kindergarten uniforms, I went on the best date ever. With a woman I hardly knew (I'll call her Other Mom), her twins, and my two kids. And it was absolutely terrific.

Do you know those playdates where everyone gets along, no one draws blood or breaks down, and you leave feeling like you found a new friend? Me neither, usually. Most times, I spend the day feeling uptight and alert for any undesirable behavior in my own kids or the dates'. But this time, the kids played together well, ate most of their pizza dinner, laughed uproariously, and begged to have another date soon. The conversation between Other Mom and I was easy and fun; she was upbeat and warm with just the right amount of sarcasm and snarkiness to make me feel like I'd found a friend. 

I met Other Mom early in the school year, but since we both have full-time jobs, we weren't always at the pick-up/drop-off, park playdates or after-school momapalooza's at the playground together. And though my daughter had requested time with her daughter, I imagined she was referring to another little girl with the same name. But seeing them holding hands and playing together at their preschool graduation was so dear and lovely that Other Mom and I decided our kids must get some playdates on the calendar. And we made a plan. And we stuck to it. And it was fun.

I guess the best part was its simplicity. I plan things all the time that fall through: that perfect outfit that the baby poops on. That adorable gift with the beautiful wrapping that never makes its way to the party. That clean kitchen that becomes a battleground with one swipe of a chubby arm and a handful of cheerios.

But this came together smoothly, and we left each other's company tired and happy - as it should be.

Summer sighting: Beauty personified: My daughter running in the park with her friends, wearing her pink sunhat with her red hair flying out behind her. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Home Sweet...Whatever

So here I sit, after day 6 of summer vacation. It was a stay-cation day, or house arrest, depending on your definition. In short, I resigned myself to completing those tasks around the house that I'd prefer to ignore, i.e. summer cleanup. As any teacher can tell you, summer is our break, yes, but it's the first time in months we actually have free time to do all the things that come in second all year while we're correcting papers, writing recommendations, composing thoughtful emails to parents whose kids drive us crazy, and working into the night after our kids are asleep to be the best we can be for your kids.  (And if you're reading this thinking, "teachers have it made - they only work nine months out of the year, etc." then you don't know any teachers very well.)

Anyway, after a lovely conversation with the souls at Pottery Barn Kids (God bless their summer sale), I went into crazy cleaning mode this morning: boxing up old toys, making piles for recycling, trash, dry cleaners, Goodwill, and so on, I also moved two rooms of furniture around in an ever-present attempt to gain more space in our home, and I carted at least four trips of seasonal stuff to the attic. 

My children were rockstars; my daughter played by herself, humming and coloring, planning playdates with everyone she knows, and avoiding eating anything of real substance. My son giggled and snuggled, nursed and slept, nursed and slept. The rain made everything feel cozy and content. It was optimal clean-up mode for Mom, and I accomplished a lot today. 

But as anyone who has two little kids will tell you, it never really ends. The messes do get cleaned up, and my house is spotless when my kids are sleeping. My window for having all the laundry done and put away lasts as about long as the pauses between my almost-five-year-old's questions. 

I. Am. Tired.

And I'll have to do this all again in another week or so. But maybe the piles will be smaller next time. 

Here's hoping.

Summer sighting: No one, unless you count the bunny in the backyard. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Family: The Ties That Bind

Today was the first Father's Day with my sweet son. He was as cherubic as always, peachy and sweet, happy, upbeat and bright-eyed, which was a nice departure than the "your son has pneumonia" glazed look we both sported for the last few days. Emerson, as always, surprises me with the combination of simplicity and beauty she possesses. She is a beautiful child, inside and out. But enough bragging! It's Father's Day!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Kids Today

For the most part, this blog is just a collection of the thoughts in my head, a collusion of the world around me and the things that rattle and shake free from my mind.

Other times, I just feel like bitching. This is one.

I will preface this by saying that I know my kids are not perfect. They are wonderfully imperfect, often delightfully irreverent, and definitely sweet, funny, creative, and kind. They are NOT, however, aggressive. Even in their most irritating, whiny moments, they are not physically aggressive. Though I have certainly made mistakes, and often felt like throwing myself out a window during Emerson's infancy, I have never, ever raised a hand to her. So I do not tolerate it in other children. But today I dealt with the flip side. Today I dealt with the kids who walked away from my child, and wouldn't listen to her. And to me, it hurt just as much as a slap.

Yes, there are times when little kids will play together and get out of hand. they'll run, trip, clunk, et cetera. They'll reach for the same toy and screech "Miiiiiiinnnneee" until their voices are hoarse. But today, Emerson was ignored. My sweet, articulate little B was trying to talk to her friend, and the little creeps ignored her and ran away. 

As an only child, trying to reconcile these dynamics is a constant question for me, Is this normal? Do I get involved? Do I ignore this? How much/how long do I let it go? 

Let me also say that ours is a hearing-compromised household. My husband's profound hearing loss on one side affects us all. Some days, his hearing is perfect and everything is normal; we converse and laugh as all families do. Other days, we are not so lucky, and both my husband's and my frustration levels climb. In my deepest thoughts, I respect my tiny daughter for the way she handles her father's hearing loss - sometimes she is far more graceful and patient than I am. She has learned (mostly) to repeat things or say them in a different way to make my husband understand. She has been commended by all of her teachers for being a particularly articulate child, one who most recently employed "Speaking of..." into her verbal repertoire. She is a good talker and a great listener. And yes, sometimes, we fall prey to the "Just a minute, Em" when she wants to tell us something, we don't intentionally ignore her words. But today's encounter was with children who could hear everything she said, and chose not to.

Speaking of siblings, all of this frustration was happening as John was smiling with happiness at his first ride on the swing. His Royal Chubbiness was happily drifting back and forth on the same baby swings Em had loved, and his bliss was written all over those deliciously peachy cheeks.  My heart swelled for his first, and ached for Em's. I guess that's what parenting is all about. 

Summer sighting: Former student and parent-to-be, Cari Reynolds, our waitress at Burton's.

Friday, June 14, 2013

First Friday, First Flight

After much anticipation (and trepidation on the part of the older faculty), Austin Prep has iPads! Thus I am being paid to use the newest technology, learn from and and impart it to my students. For three days, Austin is in iPad training, and this girl is past falling in love with her new toy - she's obsessed.

The best thing about it is the productivity - I feel like a super version of myself. I have notes and lists organized into one app as opposed to the notes, lists and post-its everywhere. I'm making a commitment to be more streamlined and organized with my calendar and I'm loving the little check that you can actually put into the box at the side.

I am also committing to revamping the organization of my own life; with all the commitments for work, school, Emerson's school, and our calendar (with its zillion subtleties that get amplified as the family "invasions" make their way across from the West Coast) it seems only fitting to revamp it all. Declutter for an hour a day.

In short: Try to make it easier on myself so that the big things seem little, thus the little things become easier.

That being said, we ate at the most amazing restaurant today, where the seafood was literally the best I'd ever eaten. 
Summer sighting: The largest shrimp I'd ever seen.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

School's out: school's in!

It's official! School's out! Austin Prep is over for the year, and in another of the great ironies of my life, my first day free was spent in school again! But this was different - Emerson and I had visiting day for kindergarten at Saint Patrick's! We had visited in the spring, and I had really taken to one of the teachers - she and her co-teacher were so warm, kind, and funny...secretly, I had prayed they'd be Emerson's teachers this year, and our prayers were answered!

Emerson has the most wonderful teachers, and we're both excited to see a few familiar faces: Ella, her buddy from the last three years at Encore Dance Studio, Derek, her pal from Saint Joseph's Pre-K, and Christina, whose mom was my friend way back in Stoneham Junior High days. Needless to say, my butterflies were in full effect, but Emerson, with her characteristic sweetness and enthusiasm, took to her new surroundings like a little duck to water.