My Little Valentines

14 02 2008

Remember passing out valentines in elementary school?  Either you made them, or bought the Looney Toon-or-Barbie or-whatever-was-popular-themed cards and passed them out to everyone in your class?  And remember decorating your paper bag with pride, the tiny post office that would receive all your glorious goodies?

This was my day today.

How fun it was to cut out little pieces of construction paper and address them to all my students, including a little note of what I love about each of them (done during yesterday’s snow day!).  The excitement was almost unbearable all day – while the unopened valentines sat on top of the bookshelf, and my heart-shaped cake sat in its box while we had to create polygons during math and work on our nonfiction-reading skills during reading.  Of course everyone just wanted to get to the valentines – even us teachers.  Finally, at 2:00, the main event began, and everyone ran around the room in a furry to pass out their cards and candy and chocolate, the ELL kids stopping me often to ask where their classmates sat, because they were still not familiar with their names.  I got back to my seat the the front of the table, and while eating my pink-frosted cupcake, opened my bag of valentines, and marveled at the artistic talent and thought that went into these cards (I even got a heart full of Russell Stovers – score!).

When I was this age, I seem to remember the passing out of valentines heavily laden with the romantic overtones that only a 4th grader could dream up – and it was completely stressful.  I was so impressed at how my teacher handled this event today in a year where these students are for sure still kids, but on the verge of being something a bit more: she wrote home that the rule was the students had to bring valentines for everyone, and made the theme be about friendship.  I loved that.  And it worked so well.

E. and I are celebrating V-day like we always do – by doing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.  Boycotting both the over-consumerist and overly-heterosexist nature of it all, with a dash of disdain for Hallmark essentially telling us exactly when to be romantic, we always decide to stick to our wedding anniversary as an extra-special occasion to celebrate US.  We do just fine without Hallmark and chocolate and jewlery stores, thank you very much.

But I dare say the excitement of celebrating V-day in 4th grade style completely made my day in a way I had no idea it would.  The surprises and  joys of working with kids never ceases to amaze me.

Hope yours was just as wonderful.



6 02 2008

I’ve been a bit overwhelmed and busy lately.  More than anything, I’ve been feeling a lot of different things, including:

  • completely overwhelmed at what I need to accomplish during my student teaching
  • exhausted from sleepless nights, coupled with teaching all day
  • a deep sadness at the loss of Emmy Lou – more than I ever thought I’d feel
  • sheer awe and humility at the intelligence, resilience, cleverness, affection, and persistence shown by 4th graders
  • appreciation and excitement that I get this time solely dedicated to learning how to be a teacher
  • profound wonderment that I had such a hard time deciding which Democratic candidate to vote for, and still in utter shock of the loss of feeling like I’m voting for the lesser of two evils (or, my favorite twist: the evil of two lessers), and instead feeling completely satisfied if either of the two front-runners get the nomination
  • a deepended love and appreication for E., who cares for Mr. E. all day and night, crafts diaper liners and homemade wipes, manages so many household importances, and does it all with such grace and without any complaint
  • complete relief and thankful that my mom, who is getting a lump removed from her breast, is ok and without a cancer diagnosis
  • completely in love with Mr. E., who stays on my mind all day, and is the first thing I want to see when I wake up, and when I walk in the door after a long day, and whose skin I’ll never tire of kissing

Endings and Beginnings

6 01 2008

Friday was my last day of work. Tomorrow I start student teaching, a.k.a. road to completing my degree and jump-starting my new career path. Leaving my job after 3 years was such a strange and surreal thing, and I’m still processing it. Among the many conversations between E. and I about it this weekend, she said, “Well, now it will be SO MUCH EASIER to answer people when they ask what you do!” To which I responded, “well, not really until I get my first teaching job.” E. said, “Well, you are student teaching and a grad student!” Oh ya. People ACTUALLY go to school full-time and that’s just what they do. Not thrown in there in the margins of working full-time. I forgot about that.

Just when I think baby-nesting has commenced in our house, more projects emerge. E. is little-miss-Susie-sewer and is working on creating our own handmade burp cloths (oh, why don’t we just call them puke rags like they really are?) and wipes. I never thought I’d have homemade baby wipes, and if it wasn’t for E.’s patience and determination with a sewing machine I don’t think I would! Co-sleeper is attached to the bed. Bassinett has been brought downstairs to the living room. Today I flipped through the (“alternative families”) baby book and re-arranged and took out unnecessary pages (no need for the “my egg donor” page). The bottom drawer in the kitchen whose handle fell off a long time ago and left hazardous screws sticking out has been fixed. Seriously – this baby NEEDS TO SHOW UP ALREADY so I have some distractions from all this DAMN WORK!!

Anytime, Moon. Anytime…

My Year of No Life/Full Life

31 12 2007

2007. What a year. So many milestones, transitions, and multiple count-downs. But damn, I’m glad it’s over.

I started the year calling it my “year of no life,” as I signed up for full-time graduate school, attending 4 classes at a time on nights and weekends. It was a bit much at times, but I soon learned that I found THE BEST GRADUATE DEGREE ON EARTH, because, well, it wasn’t really that much work! (which led me to do some double-checking as to its credibility, which all checked out ok, but this recent scandal doesn’t help its reputation much). So I plowed through the excruciatingly boring and annoying 4-hour classes, and actually learned some things about teaching. All in all, it’s exactly what I wanted (thanks to E. who discovered the program!)

Career-wise, I spent the year knowing I would be leaving at the end, which is a really interesting mindset in which to go to work every day (and perhaps the longest notice I could give an employer!). I took that time to fully appreciate what I liked about this job in my 3 years here, and also solidified why I’m switching gears to go into teaching. Being able to volunteer regularly at an after-school program was such a blessing – to be able to connect with students and form a relationship with local schools.

I had the wonderful milestone of my 10-year high school reunion, and took a solo trip to my hometown to see close friends as well as classmates I hadn’t seen in the full 10 years. It was an amazing experience to re-connect with these people who shared a great 4 years together (we have some intense school pride), and it felt really cool in a growing-up-come-full-circle kinda way.

Then came the news in May that forever changed our lives, that our 2+ years of trying for project baby ACTUALLY WORKED. I think I was in shock for the first few months, and then I let it sink in how extremely happy I was to finally create our family. It also started to sink in how much our lives are about to change, and leaving 2007 means leaving the “just the 2 of us” portion of our lives together (6 years). It’s a big change, but one we are both so ready for, and going into it we know our incredible bond will get us through all the midnight crying, the dirty diapers, and the years of watching in awe as our child grows up into his/her own person.

Perhaps because of all these huge life changes, I also spent some introspective time thinking more about community, connecting and giving to others, and my own spirituality. This is still in process, of course, but one thing I discovered is a deep connection to a church on the Cape where we’ll be moving next June, which seems like it will be a starting point for all three needs.

Moving! Right! 2007 also brought with it the BIG DECISION to move closer to E.’s family, perhaps the first decision in my life which feels completely grounded in this visceral need to be connected to family and to provide that for our child(ren). In other words, I feel SO FREAK’IN GROWN UP. And that is a WHOLE LOT about what 2007 meant for me. BIG transitions, BIG decisions, and BIG growth.

There was a year that E. and I coin the “nothing” year. When we count back to try to remember something and we hit this year (2002), our minds just go blank. We figured out it’s because in that year we didn’t move, switch jobs, or make any BIG decisions. We just were. Day in, day out, just lived. I’m sure that 2007 will be just the opposite, a very BIG year that laid the groundwork for the whopper 2008 promises to be, what with arrival of BABY, the BIG MOVE, and work transitions abound.

Bring it on.

Wishing you new inspiration, hope and promise of a fantastic new year.


17 12 2007

Today was my last day at the after school program I’ve been volunteering at once a week for a year.  I am glad to be moving onto student teaching, but am really sad that I won’t see these kids every week.  It couldn’t have been a better, more well-rounded day.  I helped one of my favorite kids with her homework – ah, rules of phonics, how I love thee.  I played games with a few other kids, realizing Connect Four is much more involved than it appears on the surface.  I even got to apply a band-aid to the finger of perhaps the cutest kindergartener I’ve ever met, who got a paper cut and was trying to decide how much of a big deal it was to her.  I think I prefer teaching the older kids, but I do love the moments where I can play “mom” to the young’ins.  SO. DAMN. CUTE.

A third grade girl who I don’t interact with much made me a card saying goodbye.  When the director of the program told her I would become a mom soon, and I followed up with “my wife is going to have a baby,” I watched as the wheels in her little brain strained to comprehend exactly what that meant.  Hey – at 8 years old I would have a hard time with that riddle!  This has happened several times at the program, and I think I’m getting better at anticipating their confusion and disbelief that this person who just played a round of “Go Fish” with them is married to a woman.   It shakes up their assumptions and possibly everything they thought they knew about the order of things, but I guess that’s what we all do when we really get to know each other.  I’ve found that kids understand it all the best.

I love you, job that allows me to get my coursework done…

11 12 2007

The perfect constellation* of nearing the end of my job and nearing vacation has afforded me ample time to wrap-up my thesis, as well as get some other papers polished and printed. Yae for chill jobs! I CAN’T IMAGINE doing this program while teaching, let alone while having a newborn at home. Again – a perfect constellation of timing, and for that I am so grateful.

Because of all this productivity for school, I’m awarding myself evenings filled with reading, which makes me so, so happy. Recent favs include Middlesex and Catcher in the Rye, the latter being part of my quest to read classics I somehow overlooked while in school, which after reading this realized that’s the exact moment these kind of books should be read. It was alright, but reading gave me the sense of needing to stop in certain sections and have a class discussion on some deeper meaning I was most likely missing. Ah well, I guess I can at least appreciate it for its shocking and “banned-book” status.

Right now I’m in the middle of Eat, Pray, Love, which is a bit of a challenge for me because it’s a memoir, and I’m a bit more into narrative at this point. But the author is witty and interesting, which are required traits for writers of memoirs. It also helps that she writes about food, spirituality and finding oneself, all topics I’m into. A bonus is that I learned that my bestest bud, who lives across the pond, is currently reading it as well, and I can’t wait to discuss certain parts of the book with her, one of our favorite activities.

I’m happy. My scrooge-like fog has lifted, which I think was a combination of PMS (damn, those mood swings keep happening EVERY MONTH!) and the fact that this string of life-changing events is finally about to be tied in its nice, neat little bow. Even a month ago, when the mountain of work on my thesis lay before me, and I had weeks (now 11 days!) of work left, and the holidays had to be dealt with – the string was a mess and I looked at it with disgust. Then I picked it up, organized the hell out of it, and began to tie. First the big loop, then around with the other end and through the whole. Within the next few weeks I’ll be done with my job, done with school, starting to student-teach, and the baby will soon be with us, and two bows will be tied together so pretty and neat and snug.

It’s been a long time com’in, but now it’s here.

*The first time I published this post, I realized I had written “constipation,” a word which I swear I have no idea why my mind told my fingers to type.

Where a small dose of OCD comes in handy…

28 11 2007

Countdowns: let’s recap:

11 more classes ’till I’m done with this semester

21 more days of working at my job

27 more days until Christmas

40 more days ’till I start my student teaching

57 more days until the baby is due

My mind is a never-ending ticking clock (I almost just typed “clicking tock”) and while it lives in the future, my body remains in the present.  Thankfully my sedentary haze has lifted and I’m exercising again.  So while I leave my body behind daily, at least I’m taking care of it again.  And I even worked out using E.’s ipod for the first time after resisting for so long a device that keeps us obsessively attached to our own inner world rather than our surroundings.  But just like the cell phone, I couldn’t escape the giddy excitement of new technology, nor the fact that walking briskly around a track like a hamster for a half hour listening to the intermittent grunts of tennis players tends to drive one completely bonkers.  I suppose there are some instances where plugging into your own digital music archive can be useful (my wife will NEVER let me hear the end of this, by the way).