Wednesday, September 19, 2007

To remind you of the ones you love

I believe, with all of my heart, that life is made up not of the big dramatic moments....but the tiny little ones in between. Weddings are great. And magical and beautiful and special and amazing and all that jazz. But they are a day. It is the small moments, the ordinary moments, that build a life together. The way Russ rubs my back when he first gets out of bed on the way to the bathroom to shave and shower. The way Cosette shouts "I am your munchkin!" when I ask where my munchkin is. The way my students laugh at me when I stumble over my words and end up saying BLAH! in a very loud voice. The way my mom's cheek feels when I kiss her hello--soft and warm and very mom-like. The way my sister laughs at me when she is the only one who catches me doing something totally stupid. The way my mother and father in law greet me with the biggest smiles on their faces, no matter where we are or what we are doing. These small moments are the moments that make up a life and that build memories....

Nothing reminds me of this more than Nonnie. Lately, there have been moments in my life that have reminded me of her. One of those moments happened recently.

I have been slowly making an effort to become more "Italian". To learn the home cooked meals like Nonnie used to make. Well, this summer, I decided to try something new--making sauce using tomatoes from my backyard. The best part about this story is that my memory of how this worked was clearly skewed. I remember Nonnie's rather large veggie garden. And I remember the fireplace she had outside. And I clearly remember a big pot on that fireplace, where she'd toss tomatoes, seemingly fresh off the vine, to cook.

Apparently, there were a few steps in between that I missed. When I asked my mom if I needed to dice the tomatoes, or just toss them in the pot whole, she laughed and explained the process. First you wash them and cut off the tops. Next you boil them until the skin just begins to crack. Then you cold shock them, and peel them. If you are really snazzy you can seed them now too, but I'm not that snazzy, and neither was my Nonnie. Then you chop them roughly and then, and only then, can you cook them in the big pot that I remember.

A few weekends ago, I did this (again....the first time I went to my Mom's house to learn). In that moment, with tomatoes standing like sentinels on my counter, spatters from the sauce all over my stove, the smell of fresh sauce bubbling away and all of the accouterments of cooking scattered across my kitchen....well, in that moment, I felt closer to Nonnie than I have in awhile. These are the memories of her that will last a lifetime, and that I will cherish for a lifetime.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Put in my a four year old

I babysat for my two nieces tonight. The oldest, at four, managed to put me in my place, and make me feel like I was a complete moron....Here's how it went:

Me: Juliette, come eat your dinner.

Juliette: Can I have cereal instead?

Me: (Reaching for a bowl) O.K., come sit down to eat it.

Juliette: No, Auntie Lisa, a bag.

Me: A bag? What do you mean?

Juliette: (sucking her thumb and looking confused) A bag.

Me: Juliette, I don't understand, how will you eat cereal in a bag? Will you show me?

Juliette: (Louder and slower than before, as if she is talking to someone really slow, or really hard of hearing, and carefully enunciating the words)
(I could practically hear the exasperation in her voice.)
I'll show you Auntie Lisa.
(She walks over to the ziploc bags, pulls one out, and mimes eating cereal from it.)
Like this.

Me: Oh! You don't want milk on your cereal then? OK....(I pour it in the bag and Juliette, finally satisfied, settles in to eat her cereal.)

I, suppressing laughter, call my husband to tell him how my four year old niece managed to make me feel like I was a complete idiot.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Big Day

This past Tuesday was a Big Day. Let's recap:

I started the day by chairing my first ever Professional Development/ School Improvement Plan Committee meeting. I've been a member of this committee for several years now, and the chairs are always teachers, and always men (at least since I've done it) and, always men who aspire to be a principal so none of them are actually around anymore. Last year, when yet another man took a job as an administrator and left us without a chair I marched myself into my Principal's office and let him know that it was time for a woman to take charge. A woman who is going to stick around for a few years and can keep some consistency going on the committee. Of course he agreed (mostly because no one else wanted to do it) and I became the new chair. Tuesday was our first meeting, and, if I do say so myself, it went really well. Thank you. Thank you very much.

The day continued pretty normally, except for the fact that I left an hour and a half early to head to my doctor's appointment. Note: when a doctor tells you a test is no big deal, don't believe him. My doctor claimed the HSG test would be a simple procedure, ten minutes tops, just a little cramping....folks, it HURT LIKE HELL. The kind of hurt that makes you get all hot and sweaty and feel like you are going to vomit. Anyway. The best part was, as I was laying there, half naked, exposed with tubes sticking out of me, sweating and trying to NOT be a baby, two men stroll in, stick their faces in mine and introduce themselves. Hi there. Sorry I can't shake your hand right now, I'm kinda hurting and concentrating on not puking and oh yeah, NAKED from the waist down. Never fear, they were the radiologists, and they were supposed to be there. The test ended, I sipped a cup of tea with my mother in law afterwards and then drove back to school. Because my day wasn't over.
(Wait, you want to know the test results? Well....they of course are not in officially, but at first glance everything looked OK. There was spillage, which means my tubes are open, but they also think they saw "adhesions" near the end of my tubes. My doctor should be calling soon to confirm, and tell me next steps which might involve some sort of laproscopic procedure.)

So, back to my day.....I drove back to school, threw up my schedule, passed out morning work, organized my desk, grabbed the homework and dashed out the door to shovel some food into my mouth before my first administrative class.
That's right, school has started. And oh boy, has it ever. Class runs from 7-10 on Tuesday nights (although the professor promised us she'd get us out by 9:30). The first class was what you'd expect- introductions, get to know you work, syllabus etc. She made us do math, but I guess I can't complain since it is a course on Assessment and Evaluation of Data. I was doing OK until she handed out the syllabus. That's when I started giggling. The kind of crazy, half-sleep-deprived-half-maniacal laugh that you can't stop? Yeah, that one. She is going to make us Work. To give you an idea: our first homework assignment is to read six chapters, complete a few 2-3 minute oral presentations on talking points she assigned and fill out a project proposal for the work that comprises most of our grade. The best part about this portion of my day is that I went and chatted with her because the second class (next week) falls on the same day as Open House. Now, I don't like to miss class, so I was already nervous about talking to her, but I felt reassured when she mentioned that if we can't come to class we should let her know, and she even mentioned Open House as a reason to miss class. So, I'm chatting with her and I let her know that I have Open House next week. She asks me when, I tell her 7, and then she says "OK, you can come to the earlier class that day. It runs from 4-7." Wait, what??? Yup. She's not excusing me. That means this Tuesday I have to teach a full day, run to class then run back to school to present to twenty four sets of parents. And then, (yes it gets better) she gives me EXTRA homework because the earlier class has so many people that there weren't enough oral talking points to go around, so she passed out articles to read and orally present on. So, lucky me, gets to read two articles in addition to all of the other work. It's a good thing I like being a student.

My day ended with a drive home and a fight with the online system of my new grad school. Forty five minutes later, I finally get into the system, see all of the course materials I need to and crawl tiredly into bed, with a full mind and a tired, slightly sore, body.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Nope, I'm not talking about the Home Shopping Guide (does that even exist?!? I know Home Shopping Network does....maybe I made up the G part. Whatever, it works.) I'm talking about my newest vocabulary word to add to my growing list.

The last time I wrote about this, my prolactin levels were high and I had to get retested. Which I did. And all was normal. Happy news. Is it bad that I felt a little let down? I had hoped that this would be the answer, and that all would be fixed with a few magic pills. But, apparently, as I've been told, it's better that they aren't high. (Funny how that information comes out AFTER you find out your levels are normal.)

Are you like me? Are you wondering why they were high in the first place? If one test says levels are high, and another says levels are normal--which do you trust? Shouldn't I get retested? One more shot to see if they really are normal, or if that was a fluke? I guess not, because the process continues...

Next, Russ went for his test. My neighbor tried to tell me that he had it much worse off than me. The embarassment! The horror! Until I told her about what's coming next for me, and suddenly she changed her tune. Anyway. All is well (much to his relief) with him. He worried, as I do, that there was something wrong. That this difficulty would be his fault. Dare I tell him that with his relief, my worry, my nervousness, increased? If it isn't him, then it has to be me.

Now comes the fun part.


I haven't googled this one. I got enough information from the doctor to figure out that I don't really want more. Let's just say this: this test involves sticking tubes and dye where dye and tubes shouldn't be. "10 minutes in and out" my doctor claims. No big deal--just take motrin an hour before, antiobiotics for three days and, oh yeah, have dye dripping out of you for an hour. Not ten minutes. It's like Drano he claims. Cleans ya' right out. Now, I like cleaning, but this kind, it doesn't sound so fun. The doctor also claimed I could work it in around my schedule--as long as it's between Days 7-10 of my cycle of course. Any day within those days. Which happened to fall when I have Rosh Hashanah off. Perfect! I should have known better....I don't really get to arrange it around my schedule. It's really arranged around radiology's schedule. And my doctor. And any patients who are, you know, giving birth at the time. So, I might have to take a day off. In the second week of school.

Which I don't even care about. I'll take a month off and have all sorts of tubes shoved in all sorts of places if it means I'll get a baby at the end of it.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

You know you have a great class when...

1) Your first homework assignment is to write each spelling word twice.
And half a dozen kids didn't do the assignment because they didn't understand the directions.

2) A student asks if they can go to the bathroom. You say yes.
And he goes and stands outside the bathroom door, looking bewildered, for a full minute. So you explain that he should knock, then enter as long as no one says anything from inside the bathroom.

3) You are discussing what they already know about rivers to launch our science unit on the River Basin System.
And one student says rivers have water in them.

4) It takes one student four days to figure out that the student sitting directly next to him hasn't been in school.
And the other twenty three haven't even noticed.

I have more stories but I am sure you are getting the idea. I can already tell it is going to be a very interesting year!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Random thoughts inspired by the start of a new school year

It is amazing....and I don't know why I always forget this...but it is amazing how once school starts, you hit the ground running. And it is also amazing...and again, I don't know why I always forget exhausting it is being a teacher. At least at first.

The thing about third graders is that they know so much, and yet, they know so little. Everything needs to be reviewed, from lining up to playing on the playground. Bathroom rules to where to store our reading books. It's exhausting repeating directions for every little thing they do. It gets easier--soon they will know the rituals and routines of our classroom well enough to be reminding me of what they are. But right now....well, right now I spend my days explaining and re- explaining everything. And I do mean everything. Today, for example, I had to explain how to knock on the bathroom door. (Yes, I have a bathroom in my classroom, and yes, I really did have to explain how to knock on the door. I really can't make this stuff up.)

It doesn't help that I have a student teacher. I mean, it does, because with twenty five kids in the room you'll take any extra hands you can get. Plus it means if I need to sneak out to go the bathroom (the adult bathroom that is), well, I can. Without worrying something will happen that will cost me my job. But it doesn't help in the sense that I am trying to model all the right behaviors. I mean, not that I wouldn't be anyway, but you are really on top of your game when you have someone scrutinizing you. Taking notes on things you say and do. (No joke, she has a notebook where she keeps frantically scribbling ideas.) Knowing that you are being watched constantly means, for me at least, that I have to be overly prepared and planned. More so than normal I mean. I like to be that way anyway at the beginning of the year--because not only do you explain everything a hundred times, you also can't leave them with a second of free time. Not now at least. If you give them an inch at this point in the year then you've lost them and it will take every trick in the book to get them back again. So, having a student teacher--helpful, very helpful. But also, not so much.

So. That's that. We are off to a good start. And, oh yeah, here are some pictures. Did I mention I rearranged my WHOLE classroom at 3:00 the day before school? I swear I must have been smoking something to make that decision. But I wasn't. And I did. And I love it so much more than my old arrangement. And I scored an extra book case. Make friends with the custodian. It's such a good thing.