Thursday, March 29, 2012

New York State of Mind

Central Park at 72nd Street
Spent a few hours roaming NYC with my sis-in-law. I hadn't seen her in 3 years but it felt like 3 weeks. It was soooooooooooooo nice. She is so easy going and pleasant. As the "local" I lead her around. We had no agenda, just pleasant conversation and no stress. Kind of like this picture.

New York wasn't awash with tourists. Or, if it was, we didn't see them. No crowds anywhere. We window shopped, and ate lunch.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stay tuned: Redo

Sometimes you say things you wish you hadn't. Othertimes your thoughts change over time. Flip flop, flip flop. Sometimes it's not really a flip flop, just a nuance. Sometimes you just aren't sure what you mean.

Lying at the chiropractor's I pondered the morning's blog. I remembered several of my kids' teachers. They go way beyond their contract. Some of them LOVE my kids. How do you compensate that? The truth is that you can't. Caring teachers - the kind my kids will remember far into their adulthood - are a goldmine. My blog below doesn't take into account two things. Many teachers teach more than HS teachers mentioned below. My kids' teachers regularly e-mail me at all hours of the week and weekend. They have met with me before school, during and after school and recently a teacher called for an impromptu 8pm teleconference that lasted about 45 minutes. Far beyond her contract!

No matter where I bump into a teacher, they always ask about my kids.

Of course we have had teachers that don't go the extra mile. I remember wondering about teachers back at EFA (my high school), and thinking "does he (the teacher) think this math class is as boring as I do?" Then there was Mrs. Mix who brought a dead language back to life and Mrs. Whatshername who made us learn about supreme court cases - like Brown V. Board and taught us WHY the 1950s and 1960s were so crucial to our lives. She was an older teacher who easily remembered these events (she would have remembered WWII too), as I now remember the changing world of Hostages in Iran, Anita Hill and Rodney King. I went on to major in Government and am sure that her class was an important push in that direction. If only I could remember her name....

My 5th grade teacher Mrs. Hoffman taught me so many practical things: household budgeting, how to write a check, what a union is, how important it is to read to children. And that it is important to dress warmly on a cold day. She made me feel loved. I think she's still alive - I should tell her.

Yes, I want my teachers to teach more than a few hours a day. And yes, I want them to well-compensated for this work. I know that only a special few will make such a huge impact that my children reminisce about them in their 40s. But when they do... the do.

The other thing that the blog below doesn't take into account is something very simple. Something I forget with all the union's rhetoric.

Teachers - individual teachers - many of them at least - probably hate conflict as much as I do. Some of them are - perhaps many of them - feel as uncomfortable around this fight as I would. I wish the conflict would end.

In my own life I see how little conflict I actually can tolerate. Even a small confrontation bothers me for months. Much of my life is built upon making others happy simply so that I can keep the peace. I bet there are plenty of teachers who just want this contractual fight to end so they can move on with their lives.

I know that's how I feel. Negotiate - find a solution and move on.

This morning's blog. Please take with 1-2 grains of salt:

Haven't blogged in while. I just haven't been feeling well - and I haven't been involved in much outside the four walls of our house.

This weekend my brother and sister-in-law are coming to the East Coast from their home in the Idaho. I can't wait to see them! I haven't seen my SIL in over 3 years. It's my personal goal to see them more often! Our focus is often on my husband's family since we visit them once or twice a year - as often as they see us. It will be great to have a long weekend with mine (Thurs-Mon)! Last Easter T's brother and family came for 12 days. Five days with my brother and SIL is true treat!

Being with them will also be a nice distraction from the frustrating state of Bridgewater school politics. Looks like there is nothing productive going on there. With a child entering the High School in the fall, I hope this is settled before soon. I am convinced that this will end with the s-word (strike). I worry about how her "resume" will compare to others when she applies for colleges in a few years, and "Incomplete due to strike" doesn't sound like a winner.

On the other hand - three hours and twenty minutes of instructional time at a $60K salary is a pretty cushy gig....

but classes are big at the High School. Too big. For each of these classes, teachers may have 35 kids - in a writing class, that can be a lot of pages of papers to correct... (between checking bathrooms for pot-smokers and truants).

Glad it's not my problem... Back to blogging in a few days.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vernal equinox

"It's been a stressful week in Lake Woebegone, my hometown..."

Or so Garrison Keillor might say if he were to describe my life on his radio show. Not only have I been juggling falling balls, my nose hasn't stopped running (and I haven't been running enough to prepare for my half marathon next month, so I'm stressed about that too).

One of the "falling balls" are my allergies. I've tried it all: multiple medicines, nose spray, eye drops, a neti pot, extra sleep, spicy food and even wine. I've tried staying indoors, I've tried fresh air. I've tried walking, and running, and extra showers. Extra sleep seems to help my state of mind, but hasn't done much for my sinuses.

Now I'm at the acceptance stage of this battle: pollen is the stronger force. I'm just going to have to grin and bear it.

I'm also knitting.

Life reflected in a dress I've started to knit for myself. I keep starting, ripping out what I've done and restarting. Today my friend Pam helped me make a plan (with a somewhat different design) which will require me to rip out my work again, but hopefully for the final time. She made me feel a bit better, since it seems the original design may be the issue, and not my lack of skill. But life is sometimes like that - you need to hit the restart button. If you are fixing a computer you know you may have to hit it multiple times. Try something, if it doesn't work, try another method - hot tea with lemon? Perhaps?

Or honey... "try local honey - it is like getting an (anti-)allergy shot each day". Or so I've been told.

But it's the vernal equinox. A day of new beginnings. The days are getting longer and the winter that never came is officially behind us. My shoes are celebrate the occasion.

I'm going to take them outside to enjoy some sun. But with it... I'm taking my Kleenex.  Some things are just too beautiful - and you have to enjoy them. Like this sunny day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Passing by my chinny chin chin

Beyond the beautiful day....

I am loving this weather. Really loving it. High 60s/Low 70s and sun here in Bridgewater. Yesterday I ran (alone) for more than an hour in 70F and sun. Today I walked with a friend, and wished we could have walked for hours.

Now I feel it. My eyes are burning, my nose vacillates between burning and itching. Like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs you can find where I am by following used tissues.

Both C and I awoke convinced we'd both contracted pink eye. Nope. Diagnosis: "Allergy eyes".  $25 co-pay for the visit, and $50 co-pay for eye drops (I think a $50 bottle of wine would work better for me). At those prices and with those results I didn't bother checking my doctor. At $50 for the teeniest, tiniest bottle of drops - I can't imagine what they put in them at these prices- I think C and I can risk co-contamination and share the drops. I'll wash my hands and roll the dice.

I feel like the entire day has been half-finished projects. I start one thing, drop it (and with it, some tissues), start another. 1/3 of the laundry still needs folding. I picked up knitting and after a few minutes I put it down to work on something else (and there are tissues there too). I started to sort papers, but they ended up back in a pile (no tissues - this was on the kitchen table). At least I found a long-overdue bill and paid that.

ADD - Allergic deficit disorder.

I am grateful that the sun has set. It's the appropriate hour to put on my pajamas and call it a day.

If today had a grade, it would be 66%. When I was walking with my friend the world was 100%. When I saw my son's final movies at Film School (they will be posted here on Saturday - last Falls are up now, for N click on "kids") it was 100%.

The rest of the day - was a 30%.

66% is passing by the chinny chin chin. I'll take it, cause I'm not giving another ounce of effort into pi day. Someone else can work out the equations. It's 8:21pm on Pi Day. Better known as BEDTIME.

My favorite saying rings so true:
"Tomorrow's a new day, with no mistakes in it!"

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday - list day

I have a lot on my plate - who doesn't on this Monday?

List day. Today I look over what needs to "get done" this week. It's always a combination of actual tasks with "other things". Some weeks I'm focused on work. Some weeks I am focused on district issues. Last week I spent a lot of time putting together and organizing my new office. This week I will have to continue clearing out the parts of the house that the new office is supposed to relieve from paperwork, and focus on work.

View from the lift. The snow is fake but the air is fresh.
But it's the "I wants" that I am drawn to now. I don't want to think about the business right now. I don't want to think about the laundry or sorting closets. I don't want to think about groceries. And I definitely don't want to think about taxes. I don't want to bathe the dog.

Yesterday I spent six blissful hours on the slopes of Big Boulder. I didn't mind the slushy conditions brought on by beautifully mild temperatures. While only mildly supervising the kids, I'd ski down the hill and rest on each lift enjoying music and my own thoughts.

But Sunday is over. Monday's challenges are here.

Hopefully I can summon some of yesterday's fresh air and good vibes through out the week. It's supposed to be sunny and in the low 70s several days this week. That sounds like a great place to start seeking motivation.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Did you hear? It's international women's day...

(Written Thursday, published Friday)

Til alle mine fantastisk flotte kvinnelige fjesbogvenner - HIPP HURRA FOR OSS PÅ KVINNEDAGEN!
(To all my fantastic female facebook friends - HURRAH FOR US ON WOMEN'S DAY)

Gratulerer til alle medsøstre med dagen i dag, 8. mars! ♥
(Best wishes to my sisters on our day, March 8th)

Gratulerer med dagen til alle jenter/damer/kvinner! :-)
(Happy Int'l Women's Day to all girls/ladies/women!)

Ihanaa päivää teille rakkaat ihanat naiset! ♥
Olkoon päiväsi täynnä iloa, onnea ja rakkautta! ♥
(Happy day to all the dear, lovely women
May your day be filled with joy, happiness and love!)

And my mother-in-law sent me a message with a quote from Pippi Longstocking:

"I haven't tried that before, so I know I can do it!"

This morning my facebook page was filled with many such wishes from my friends in Europe. 

While it may be a day to celebrate around the world, here in America I don't feel like celebrating. (None of my friends have mentioned it. Is Women's day only something they mention in the left wing media, like Huffington Post and NPR?) I keep thinking about that horrible man's media frenzy - calling a woman a slut and a prostitute for using birth control and her audacity for expecting it to be covered under her student medical insurance. Then he demanded that she post sex videos so that the "rest of us" get something back for our investment. 

Then to boot, instead of saying that he's being a misogynist, several presidential candidates basically agreed with what he's said, but called it a "poor choice of words". Does that mean slut and prostitute should be replaced by whore? Should he have gone farther? Or are they defending the logic but didn't like his slurs? 

Some days I'm really grateful to live in this beautiful country. We have opportunities, we have a melting pot like no other in the world. We have the rights to be who we are. To conform or not. To believe in any God we want - or not. To say what we believe, even when its hateful. 

But today is one of those days when it would be nice to live somewhere that celebrates the woman. I feel like instead of getting ahead in the past six months women have been falling behind. We don't even realize it ourselves half the time. Women who work shun women who stay home. Women who stay home condemn working moms as bad mothers. The ostracism starts at a very young age. Girls are horrid to each other without seeing that there are consequences to these actions: if a middle school girl calls someone a bitch, then she subconsciously reinforces that it's ok to use the term. 

It isn't just about rights, access to education, healthcare, work, love, equality. It's about celebrating what women are. Their accomplishments and challenges. Be it saving the world, figuring out a huge sales plan, reading (or writing) a wonderful book, helping a needy friend, or changing diapers. 

Congratulations, women, on all your successes. Whatever shape they take.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Just heard an interesting Webinar about adding volunteerism to your resume. Very interesting stuff. So many of us do professional tasks in our unpaid and/or non-profit ventures and, as I learned, it certainly has a place on the paper used to market yourself.

I've had the chance to try many different things by volunteering, both in and out of the school district. It's also a great way to network and get to know your community. Most of it I never even considered "relevant experience" but of course it is! Last fall I organized a book fair that sold over $11K of books in 6 days.... (organizational skills, managing people, finances and (minor) marketing). That's just one example. I'm sure you have many.

For now, however, the shining sun beckons, and I am about to "get to know my community" in a different way... by going for a long run.

Whatever you do, or where ever you are, if your weather is as nice as in Bridgewater I encourage you to turn off the computer and catch some rays.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A room of MY own

When I'm done with this, I'm off to Amazon dot com to order Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. After 18 years of co-habitation with my darling husband, I have a room of my own. Many people falsely assume that the entire house is mine, or perhaps that the kitchen is mine, or the master bedroom. But not here. I have many friends who decorate at whim - the only pre-purchase consult being their bank account. Not me. My husband is actually very aware of how we decorate, and with a few exceptions he and I have equal say. The basement is his man-cave, nicer than most grown-up's apartments. And now I have an office.

My hope is to make it 50% office, 50% refuge. A work space surrounded by things I love. Although there is a bit more work to be done this morning I moved myself in and after I hit publish, I'll put together an invoice. Great way to use the space, I'd say!

I have a new-found sense of self. New vigor to take on my start-up company's challenges. Half of my desk is devoted to my company. I need to teach myself Quickbooks (see green library book to left of laptop), web design and (of course) learn more about the industry. With a couple of pictures of my kids - from when they were small.

On the other side of the desk I have my personal life's stuff. A small picture of my parents dancing, their foreheads and noses touching, knitting books and a few balls of yarn (I plan to use yarn as a theme in decorating).

I still have a ways to go - hanging curtains, finding a rug, assembling an IKEA bookshelf and going through books currently in the other bookshelf are just the first part of the list - and my new office will relieve our home's common areas of insurmountable mess. The school district may have gone paperless, but that doesn't mean parents have! Papers need an appropriate space in the new office. Add "buy cool file folders" to the list.

Signing off now. I have work to do.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Panus Bridgewaterius

Bread is done!
I love to bake bread. If it didn't leave the kitchen such a mess I'd bake bread every day. Bread requires patience. It takes time, and it needs someone who is willing to clean the mess. That doesn't sound like me. Yes, I sound about 100 years old. Who knew when I was 17 that I'd actually enjoy domestic tasks like baking and knitting.

There is something visceral in kneading dough. Turning four boring ingredients (flour, water, salt and yeast) into something that rises, warming the senses and filling the house with a tempting aroma, makes me feel a sense of accomplishment like little else. Who doesn't love fresh bread?

But bread-making isn't in my nature - I hate the clean up. Flour and water = sticky mess. It finds its way everywhere. In every crevice of my hand. Underneath my finger nails, then in my hair. The mess diminishes the enjoyment.

It's been a long week in Lake Woebegone-Bridgewater. School shootings in other states don't seem so far away when the local high school is delayed due to a bomb threat. It was so 21st century: e-mailed from an anonymous account.

Other highlights of the week: One of my kids nagged me as I drove the five miles to her school about how it will embarrass her too much if I go watch her cheer - until I couldn't take it anymore and barked at her until the earth shook. My other kid gave the finger to a parent. Yes. The middle one. Yes, it was in jest. Yes, I am MORTIFIED. Turns out, though - he didn't. The parents misunderstood - but I made my son cry when I said "YOU ARE NEVER ALLOWED TO GIVE ANYONE, ESPECIALLY A PARENT THE FINGER!" It was clear he wasn't faking with his tears and "What are you talking about???" The parent misunderstood. He was pointing from his eyes (with 2 fingers shaped like a V) to the Dad's. In an "I'm watching you..." gesture.

Friday is here. I seek my PJs. I seek a glass of red wine. I seek comfort foods (bread and pasta - to hell with Atkins). I seek peace and security and warmth and love.

Peep, peep. The timer goes off. Something beautiful accomplished amidst my seemingly chaotic life.