Thursday, September 22, 2011


I had Back to School Night last night. And today I'm yarg. (yawn + argh = yarg)

But! It was back in July when we took the boys on our first big canoeing adventure! We headed up to Strawberry and spent a few days on a private lake (let's call it a pond) and also went to Bardsley Reservoir. No phones. No computers. No television. Best cheeseburger on the face of the planet at the snack shack near Pinecrest Lake. Soft serve ice cream for breakfast. Three fights over how to steer the canoe. Sore shoulders for three weeks.  Heaven on earth, really.

 Just noticed that Thing Two is doing The Robot in this picture. Dying laughing over here, really.
 You can't see her in this picture, but puppy Lego is in Scotty's lap here. She loved canoeing!

 I remember laying out in the sun to get a tan in high school. I don't remember a six year old laying on me when I did,
Learned (a bit late) that our canoe anchoring system was not sufficient for the ride home. (not to worry, we made it! and so did our 52 pound, 17 foot, canoe!) Was reminded that I can always call my daddy when I need help. Haven't had to do that for awhile, but I had such a familiar rush of well-being when I looked at Erik, after helplessly tiptoeing down blocked off side roads still an hour and a half from home (a 3 hour drive already creeping up on 4 hours and no end in sight), and said, "Let's call my dad. He'll know what to do." And he did. Love him. When he caught up with us on the backroads leading to the Altamont Pass, with enough rope to secure a navy fleet, he found me giggling helplessly at the absurdity of chasing our foam mounts down the road, through barbed wire fences, and across farmers' fields, as they rolled away like chicklets from our swaying and bobbing canoe.

He shook his head (not without affection) and said, "You're so much like your mother." I'm pretty sure I saw Erik shudder.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


The spring was a very difficult time for me. My amazing and beloved grandma's steep illness and death in May brought one of the most difficult school year's I've ever experienced to a halting and bitter close. I needed the summer to regroup and recoup. I wasn't at all sure that I would be teaching this fall, or at least, I wasn't at all sure it would be at this school, or in this district. It was an impossible situation, and I certainly didn't see this fall coming together any better than the way the spring ended.

It would be nearly impossible to explain the violence exhibited by a great portion of my students last school year. Their stories are not my stories to tell; let me just state emphatically that the kind of chaotic lives that result in 8 year olds who attack adults on campus, stand on kids' necks and try to stab them with a ruler, try to hang themselves in a garage, respond to every interaction with anger and physical's not something I wish on anyone, let alone little kids who are still forming. You expect a handful of "behavior problems" in any class of 33. But this? This was not that. Promise. I'm not prone to hyperbole when it comes to children, either. I don't exaggerate or feel sorry for myself; I'm not out to win the Pity Olympics for What I Had To Deal With This Year. I say it with total humility and great sadness, that I don't know how much of a positive impact I was able to have, overall, when I was so worn down and so overwhelmed by the day-to-dayness of those four walls.

All that to say! I tiptoed into this summer and had several great adventures and many quiet days. I can't share them all here, of course, but I few stand out in my mind. Today's is an awesome adventure in Chicago during the last week of June. I went for work as a consultant for the non-profit organization that I work with that works with teachers on improving math instruction. I worked with an amazing group of about 80 K-8 teachers, administrators, and coaches. And I worked with one of my favorite colleagues.

It was my first visit to Chicago, and I totally and completely fell in love. I've not spent much time at all in the midwest, to be honest. Drove through it twice in my life for cross-country trips. Flew over to get to New York and the East Coast. But really? The Rockies to the Appalachians....kind of a mystery to me. Overall impression: incredibly friendly people, insane amounts of steakhouses, and Chicago is a beautiful, fun city.

I'm so spoiled to be from San Francisco, which I happen to think (with some bias) is the most beautiful, vibrant, exciting, and fun city in the country. But I have to say, Chicago was amazing. I spent two days there by myself after the rest of my colleagues went home (long story) and I fell in love.

You better believe I was going to Wrigley, no matter what! But, unbelievably, the Giants
were on a roadtrip to play the Cubbies that week! So Wednesday found us down in
Wrigley Town. It was everything you've heard, and more. It was so rowdy, and cozy, and amazing.
A "W" would have been better, I won't lie, but we got to hear the Cubbie's Song and yes,
I admit, we were humming right along on the way out. : )

 The architectural river tour is amazing. HIGHLY recommend if you get down out that way.
The Willis Tower used to the Sear Tower. There are new observation decks made completely of glass, floor, walls, ceiling. It was an amazing experience to walk out "into thin air" and hover over
downtown Chicago. Even more amazing to watch people freak out about it. Holy cow. Watching grown men and women crawl on the glass floors of the balconies? Surreal.
 I'm not a shopper (understatement) but I walked all the way down Michigan Avenue, just for people
watching purposes, and ended up down at Grant Park, the Art Institute museum, and the outdoor festival of Taste, where I sweated it out with thousands of my closest strangers, and ate ice cream
and spinach stuffed pizza. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon!
 The river that runs through the city. It's so charming there!
 I stopped to knit under The Bean in Memorial Park.

It's possible that my fabulous two days in Chicago was more attributable to the quiet of my hotel room, (where I read, soaked in a hot tub, and generally thought deep thoughts), or to the quiet dinners at Xoco and Luxe and the Greek food and the deep dish pizzas....

Maybe, afterall, I just needed a few days where I was "Mia" instead of "mama" or "maestra". A nice little palette cleanser to the end of the school year!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rip Van Winkle

I love fall. Even though it means the end of my summer garden, and that I need to do SOMETHING about all these tomatoes. I think today will be that day....
 Easily the best garden I've ever had! Cucumbers and all manner of tomatoes (those yellow ones? oh my!), plus two kinds of squash, honeydew melon (small but oh so sweet!), and more eggplants than probably any one person ought to eat.  But I'm doing my best!
The pole beans were a huge success! Many summer meals consisted of steamed beans and white corn on the cob, with just a little salt added to each. I wish I could grow corn just doesn't get hot enough with the lovely bay marine layer. Maybe I need a greenhouse....oh yes, I think I do!  Let me get right on that.

Oh! By the way? Are you surprised to see me? : ) I've been missing in action....not really checking facebook, or the blog, or anything else for that matter. But I miss it. And I miss you. Fall is the perfect time for new beginnings....don't you agree?