Friday, December 10, 2010

The Female Form As Force of Nature

Lately I've begun formulating new thought processes regarding my body.  I've been very fortunate in that I take after my mother physically.  We can gain weight very quickly but we can also lose it just as quickly.  The main difference is that she was done having kids before I had my first.  Baby making mid thirties poses new challenges if you are expecting to go back to the body you had before.

After almost two years since I had my baby, my body has not returned to the way it was.  I don't think it ever will.  I haven't given up and I will continue my practice of yoga (which is about so much more than my appearance) and am doing specific abdominal work (learned while becoming certified for postnatal yoga instruction).  The point is finding the place of balance.  I want to be healthy and I want to continue doing things that make me healthy but I also want to let go of the part of me who longs for what once was.  I carried a human being in my body for nine months and then nursed her for 18 more.  Not to mention that without there even being a baby in the mix, hitting your middle thirties changes things-big time.  I know women who have babies and then look as if it never happened, I have to admit that I envy them-and I have to point out that this baby making stuff (usually) happened in their twenties.

I keep looking at the clothes I used to wear and how they made me feel that I was able to communicate something about myself to the rest of the world simply by wearing them.  Many of them look silly on me now and although I never would have thought myself to be "skinny" before, I now look like a grown woman trying on kids clothes.  Finding things that flatter a more curvy figure and still communicate "me" is at best, difficult.  It is making me question who it is that I think I am, in fact, and the answer is not easily reached.

The new process I'm working on goes something like this....view your body as the result of what it has done and is capable of.  I grew an entire person inside of me and provided everything she needed for survival once she emerged from my womb.  I was careful with body products used, food eaten, air breathed, etc.  Now, my midsection is different from the one I was so accustomed to...and it should be.  Something happened there that is happening each day to women all over the world-a quiet force of nature taking over their bodies, their thoughts, and their emotions.  All for the insane privilege of bringing their little one into the universe...

I also carry her with this body, care for her, and make our house into a home.  I make my husband very happy with it, too and I have to say that he has told me he enjoys the more curvy frame I now sport.

What do I do for myself with it?  While practicing yoga I am able to create more energy or subdue it and always am able to transition from mere movement to a place of worship wherein I thank my creator for this healthy body and for the lifelong joy I have found in simply moving it.  Which brings me to dancing-dancing is my natural element, it brings out the fiercest desire in me to translate with my body what I'm hearing and what it's doing to me.  I have always thought it would be so amazing to be able to sing (which I can't-it's quite dreadful when I do), but if I were to have to choose, I could not imagine a life without dance.  I also have girlfriends who I have grown exponentially closer with because we share a love of tearing up a dance floor with each other.

I have to keep catching myself in the middle of dissatisfaction and remind myself that I'm dissatisfied because I only see my body through the eyes of comparison.  I compare it to the bodies of other women and I compare it to my own past body.  I am going to rewire my brain and maybe it won't ever be 100%, but I will start viewing it as the sacred place of creation, love, and art that it is.

I will be gentle with myself.  A lovely friend gave me a refrigerator magnet last year reading, "Be gentle with yourself.  You are a child of the universe, no less than the moon and the stars.  In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul."  I will not harm myself through thoughts that bring me down but will love myself and be grateful for this gift that I have.

Yes, body-you are not as tight as you used to be, but you are strong, nurturing, capable, sensual, musically inclined, and bring me closer to God.  For all of these reasons, and more, I thank you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Poo-Poo Yogabutt

Today while practicing yoga (as usual, via Fit TV on dvr), I was ready to get into a decent relaxation at savasana time.  Usually I press stop on the dvr and take a regular 5+ minutes to do so.  I think I should preface this by saying that I have taken to practicing while Ever is up rather than her nap time like I did before.  It's just more beneficial for me to do it earlier in the day.

Mental picture:  Me, eyes closed, palms up, laying flat, relaxed, breathing....ahhhhhh...then sudden pressure on my collarbone almost simultaneously accompanied by a puff of poopie diaper air shooting up my nostrils on an inhale.  Eyes open, and there is a little stinky butt right in front of my face that rotates quickly and turns into a pair of happy little aquamarine eyes and a roughly placed sandcastle mold of Mount Rushmore right on my face and the word "pet-ty" (pretty).

Yes, that is my savasana-she made me laugh so hard (ok, a little painfully with that toy shoved into my nose).  I kissed her little face all over, scooped her up, and hurried upstairs to work my poopie butt magic.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Baby Picks Nasty Jar Meat Over Yummy French Toast-What's This World Coming To?

I just fed Ever for the fourth time today.  She is now in a phase that is exquisitely frustrating for me. She will sit in front of her food for an hour without eating it.  Not because she doesn't want it, it's because she would like for me to sit in front of her and feed her, bite by very
solid food eating

This came after this afternoon's self congratulatory pat at my mommy genius/productivity.  Today we went to 2 mommy play groups-the morning group was play time/learning activities and the afternoon group was a totally fun music/dance class mommy group.  I was feeling so satisfied with myself, by the way.  What is it about doing this stuff that makes me feel like I'm such a great mom as opposed to when I don't do this stuff?  Maybe it just lifts my mood-getting out and talking to some grown ups, going down the slide with her, shaking kiddy maracas while jumping around like a kookaburra Carmen Miranda...which in turn makes me feel like a better mom.  I guess I just answered my own question.

Add to that:  when she woke from her nap, rather than jumping into our evening routine in the usual frenetically tired way I typically do, I sat down with her in her room and played quietly with her, read with her, and cuddled her.  During this time I planned exactly what to do when I got downstairs-her linner (lunch/dinner, in case you think it's a type-o), my linner, and also dinner.

Sooooo...after my faboo idea of making french toast for her, I came down and made some very yummy food.  I know, because I ate a slice and thought to myself, "Dang, this is good."  Ever had hers served with a little dipping dish of yogurt.  She quickly turned herself into yogurt Santa Claus and then proceeded to sit there with her untouched french toast for
Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhh!!  She didn't even want a bite of it if I fed it to her slowly.

So, I busted out the Gerber that I keep on hand for these occasions.  I just feel like she SHOULD be eating only solid food made by me-because there are tons of moms out there who are either lying about it or really giving their kids fresh food for almost every meal.  I had to breathe more shallowly while giving her that funky meat from the jar while pondering how she could eschew the french toast in favor of this stuff....?!?!?!?


I'm sure this is not the most exciting thing anyone has read today-it's more of a venting post than anything else.  Feel free to charge me for any precious minutes of your life I may have wasted with my mama laments or share your own via comments.  Not sure how I'd pay up should you choose to charge-hopefully you like french toast.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

You Know How Ridiculously Much You Love Them When...

They come at you with a cold and give you a slimy boogie kiss right on the mouth and then scamper off leaving you giggling and trying to wipe it off.

Especially if you're normally a germaphobe who hates to be sick such as myself under normal circumstances.

But, being a mama who is head over heels for your little one is anything but normal-and blissfully so, I might add.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Highly Recommended Beauty Stuff

Today, I am just going to highly recommend a couple of  beauty items I cannot live without.

This does not settle, cake, or other words, it doesn't make you look good for 10 minutes only to make you look horrible for the rest of the day.

This mascara does actually give straighter lashes more curl.  I still use my curler, but this mascara does not let them falter once curled.  **The regular one is okay, but the waterproof is the one that I LOVE**

Shu Uemura, eat your heart out.  This curler is great for not pulling out lashes, gives a natural curl and can also give a more dramatic curl (depending on how it's used), and comes with the lovely bonus of being produced by Japonesque.  I love this company and have loyally used only their eyelash curlers since 1996.

All you have to do for refills is visit their site, select the item needing refills, and they will send you free refills for the LIFE OF THE CURLER!!  No, I'm not joking.  Buy it.

Japonesque Curler Refill Program

More to come later...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blah Blah Blah, Whine Whine Whine

Watching Julie & Julia-getting blogspiration...had an alarmingly unproductive day today.
Yesterday's toys on the ground...
Yesterday's dishes in the machine... 

I think you get the picture...

I happened to tune in just when author Julie Powell played by Amy Adams is convinced she has no readers, asks if anyone is reading, and then gets a comment from her mother asking her why she's doing it because clearly no one is reading.

I know there must be readers, many of my lovely FB friends are followers...and I blog for myself as much as for it to be read.  

Well, that's about it for this whiny post.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Open Hand, Full Spirit

Making time to separate from my daily routine is the crushed red pepper in the plate of my life.  For me, crushed red pepper makes almost anything edible better and more enjoyable.

On Sunday we spent the afternoon being totally lazy at the beach.  There is no better time to go than a mild early autumn day.  We ran on the shore, Jabez and Eric jumped from giant rock to giant rock, and we searched for beautiful shells/stones.

While searching,  time seemed suspended.  We were laying in a belt of these pebbles, shells, and stones-which were smoothed and softened by the water.  Everlyse was completely consumed by this-she came to me to drop different treasures she had found into my palm with utter pride and excitement.  Jay proved himself to have an unfailing ability to locate the most exquisite finds with his budding artist's eye, as well.  Eric and I just absorbed it, enjoyed it, and were fed spiritually by it.  From time to time Everlyse would pop her face right in front of mine, say something I would have given my left eye to understand in her sing-song voice filled with happiness, and get back to work.  It was like taking a deep breath of life giving oxygen that went right to my soul.

Today, we hit the playground, Everlyse and I.  She practiced all of her newfound skills and had a great time.  Before heading home, I scooped her up onto my lap and got on the swings with her.  I made up a song about us sitting on the swing and she just melted into me.  The warm autumn air picked up her random curls and her sweet baby smell filled me up.  I cried right there, so happy to have stopped just long enough to receive this gift.

I often feel that I don't spend enough time in prayer...but it is at times like this that I understand my very life is a prayer.  Being still and opening my hand in quiet expectation guarantees that God will fill it with a miracle.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Who Needs Date Night When There's Lazy Saturday?

Best Saturday in a loooooooooooooong time.  Nothing planned to go and do, so we woke up late (Ever was even in on it, apparently-she slept until after 10:30-and Jay was up but totally covert ops about it), ate pancakes/eggs/sausage, and listened to The Perishers station on Pandora (The Perishers being on my top 5, maybe even top 3 list of artists).

While listening, Gravity played (by Embrace), one of the songs from our wedding slideshow-to be posted soon.  I asked Eric to dance and we did-with Everlyse wandering over trying to feed us a cheerio she found under the table, with toys all over the floor, still unshowered-he in flannel pants and me in an old flannel shirt.  Of course, we both turned into a couple of crying fools over how perfect it all can be sometimes.  We don't get many date nights, but times like these are worth so much more.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

She Laughs at the Days To Come

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel. Prov 31:26

Deep sigh as I read this verse.  So many women I know are clothed with strength and with dignity, open their mouths in wisdom, and upon their tongues rests kindly counsel.  Definitely not enough to make up for the dire shortage of such women in the world, however.

I'm sure the first thing to come to people's minds is "What about men?"  True, there are many shortages in the department of men.  But, as my refrigerator magnet quotes-"Be the change you wish to see in the world."  Ghandi so wisely pointed out that nothing changes if it doesn't begin with the self.  How you begin the journey is up to you and personal, but the desire and the openness needs to begin inside.

Clothed with strength and dignity...strength is a tough one for womanhood, isn't it?  We are fickle creatures filled with doubt and sadly a vast capacity for envy.  This combination is what leads us in fruitless circles trying to be the MOST beautiful, interesting, enviable, attended to, etc. etc.  We do things to hurt other women in order to feed this hunger.  Stealing a mate from another woman, for instance.  If that woman happens to be beautiful, interesting, entertaining, etc...then SO much the better!  This proves that one is even more so-doesn't it?!?!

Sadly, it does not.  It does prove that one is a desperate, pathetic, sad little creature who is weak.  Quite the opposite, in fact, of being clothed with strength.

Which brings us to the latter trait of good character, dignity.  Oh the shamelessness that abounds and is even celebrated.  One could say "nowadays," but it is not so-it has always been.  Although, it's become so much worse.  I remember what it felt like to be cast aside as a teenager by a boy who had previously been so interested in me for another who-well-someone who would meet his physical needs.  This has happened to most women, perhaps at a different age or in a different context.  Another female who is willing to trade or degrade herself for attention somehow manages to get the attention of someone who should be able to see you for the miraculous creation you are, the treasure worth seeking.  But, no.  He does not want to seek any hidden matter how worthy the jewels are.  He'd rather pick up the plastic shiny thing right at his feet than do anything more challenging.  The sad thing is that he is unaware of what he is missing and thinks he's made the most fulfilling choice.

There are also men who  really want to find a woman who will bring them to the next level-make them a better version of themselves and bring them closer to God.  These men very quickly recognize a woman with dignity and as soon as they find her, they snag her for themselves.  It might not be the easiest thing in the world for them to do so, but they do it, and they never regret it.

How does a woman "laugh at the days to come"?  No, it's not foolish laughter, I'm sure.  It's the laughter that comes with knowing.  The knowledge that you have withstood what would have taken down so many others, the knowledge that you have not sold yourself out for selfish and maybe desperate reasons.  The knowledge that God is faithful and perfect-this specific knowledge can eradicate so much of the doubt and anger that pushes us to make decisions that eat away at our beauty, like rust.  When we don't know why something happened, or when something we want to happen will happen, or why someone we know/trust has failed, or why we fail ourselves-that is the time to take shelter in the knowledge that God is perfect in His faithfulness.  Nobody else is, but He is...and resting in that will bring laughter and confidence about what is to come, even if that laughter is mixed with tears.

If only I could open my mouth in wisdom more often...sometimes I know it's not so.  I give it a shot, though.  I really do.  Sure, I can complain with the best of them and for those who've been in a car with me during a frustrating drive, they know that I most certainly do not always open my mouth in wisdom...but, I intend to.  Through years of practicing this one, I have learned that being quiet is many times more effective than speaking.  If someone is trying to take from you and you remain quiet, you're not giving them anything.  Even better, if there are witnesses-it makes that person seem witless.  If I have brought something up at least once or twice and am against a wall, I  don't give up-but I do stop speaking to the person about it.  I take it up with God.  Some new insight will always come of those conversations along with much needed patience.

Before we speak, it's so important to think first about WHERE these thoughts/ideas originate.  We need to take ownership of every single thought that flies through our brains.  Destructive thoughts lead us on a path away from creation and away from life.  They lead us to death-we die to who we are and to our reason for being born.  Take hold of your thoughts and reject what destroys your well being and your capacity for love-love for yourself, love for others, and most importantly-ability to receive love from God.  Without being able to receive, you will run out of love the way a car runs out of gas.  God's love comes directly and indirectly, through him and through others.  Keeping your thoughts true will color what you say and how you say it.

Kindly counsel, giving words that are a balm over a wound, is a tricky practice.  In yogic teaching, there are the life principles called Yama and Niyamas.  The first two Yamas are Non-Violence (Ahimsa) and Truthfulness (Satya).  One of the most interesting classes I took while studying to become a yoga teacher involved a discussion of how one could practice both at once.  Sometimes telling the truth causes pain to another.  So, should a person avoid the truth in order to practice non-violence?  I have struggled with this myself.  For me, the answer I have found is that it's very much in the timing and in the receptiveness of the receiver.  If there is something possibly painful to discuss and you have been asked for advice (receptiveness), proceed with prayer.  Ask God to make that person's heart soft, and then wait.  The time for the needed message will arrive and it will likely be very obvious to you that the time is right.  If it's not asked for and it's someone you need to speak with, again-begin with prayer, then wait.

There is not enough truth telling amongst friendships between women.  We don't want to aggravate a situation or possibly lose a friend.  It's not helpful in the long term, however to try to distract a person from what is happening.  If you have no prompt towards helping with kind words of wisdom, don't say anything.  Let it lie where it is.  I have been hurt and know so many others who have been hurt when someone who means well gives unsolicited advice too rashly or else compares it to themselves.  This makes a person feel as if you're judging and comparing, and in that comparison, have decided that you are clearly superior for having done it better.

I know that women aren't out in the world deliberately trying to cause all the drama we do.  Most women, anyhow.  It's the result of damage, of confusion, of sadness-really, too much of anything negative weakens us.  But, we can be an example that disproves the image of happiness sold by film/magazines/our own selves.  If we move through this world in grace and dignity, if we speak wisely, and if (most importantly) we do this out of love it will send out a tiny, perfect, and powerful ripple into our world.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wind Shadows

Amazing discovery-while playing with Ever in her room today, I noticed that the air blowing about outside her window was casting faint shadows over the sunlit carpet. It left me feeling a little bit awestruck, I suppose it's the St. Francis in me that falls most in love with God through His creation.
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Almost Heaven

The conundrum of my daily life...when Everlyse brings me the greatest joys, it is inevitably accompanied by pain of equal measure. Never does my family feel as far away as they do when I want their witness to our little one.

Part of it comes from my own joy in sharing her The other part comes from the joy I know they get from even the smallest moments with her.

As I write this, she is pointing to a picture of me together with my parents, brother, and sister while saying her names for them. Once again she has me smiling through my own tears.
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Mommy with a Passion

Motherhood...the movie.  I don't know why this film only got 2 stars except that it was likely reviewed by people who had not experienced motherhood in a similar way.  Uma is great playing the kind of role I LOVE her in-quirky/awkward/still undeniably gorgeous underneath it all, albeit quietly so.

I don't have the same exact daily struggle that her character (Eliza) does.  I do relate to the sense of loss tempered with the love for her family that she is experiencing.

There is a line in the movie in which Eliza (having nearly experienced a breakdown/meltdown) is discussing her state with her husband (after he added to her aggravation by reading and making "suggestions" to a piece of her writing in a very insensitive manner).  She says that the daily "concrete and specific tasks" she performs as a mother make it nearly impossible to have or experience a life with passion.

I had never heard it put into words before...this tugging I feel within that tells me something is being lost.  It's myself...and I don't mean to say that it's a bad idea to become a mother or to take it a step further and decide to raise your child yourself and put your career on hold.  I do have some days when it feels as if the daily routine of feed/clean/feed/clean/feed/clean has worn down at me to the point of having little excitement about much of anything.

Daily, while Ever naps, I make a choice.  I can either write or get some exercise.  It's a tough choice for me...I want to get rid of my baby gut, but I feel at least a little bit accomplished when I write.  It would be great if I could do both each day and maybe I'll figure it out sometime.

The most helpful thing for me is to revisit myself a few years ago.  I wanted this and was terrified of wanting this all at once.  Eric was nowhere in sight and I honestly don't think I could have invented a person who would love me the way that he does.  He loves being a husband and a father.  He honors our marriage and our family in each of his choices and I cannot help but do the same for him.

Now, I am a mother to our daughter and to Eric's nine year old son and all of the ways I feel gifted at leading and teaching are put to the test daily in the smallest ways....such as feeding and cleaning.  I remember this as I become aggravated and I put my gratitude and love behind these seemingly insignificant mommy tasks.

I think of my own mother and how it felt to come home after school and to smell the sopa de arroz outside the door before I even got in.  It felt like heaven.  To this day when I'm making it, I'm tempted to run outside and stand in front of my house in hopes of feeling that again.  If safe had a smell, it was that. Sopa de arroz wafting outside my parents house on an autumn day....

I think of this and I remind myself daily that one day Ever and Jay will be parents, what they see, hear, taste, and smell now will influence them for a lifetime.  Their ideas of safe and of home are being formed subconsciously in the smallest ways.  I am part of that, and all of these small things gather into something substantial and valuable.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Trying to Get Back to the Pre-Baby Bod

So, I finally got semi-serious about doing something more focused about my post-Everlyse body.  It really has never been much of a serious challenge for me to be on the thin side-but after having Everlyse and nursing her for eighteen months, my body was finally my own again as of August and still about fifteen pounds heavier than normal.

I decided to begin with the Special K challenge.  It was a good kick start-my appetite gradually decreased, it was easy to follow, and I do enjoy eating Special K.  The down side was that it left me feeling a little lethargic in the afternoons...but, I did lose seven pounds in less than three weeks.

Alas, those pounds did not take my mommy-muffin top with them.  This particular pooch that most mommies know is  like a friend who says they're just going to crash at your place while looking for an apartment yet 5 months later are asking you to buy the toilet paper with the bears in the commercial because what you have isn't good enough for their lazy bum.

I am giving said pooch an eviction notice.  I am continuing my yoga practice and am adding more targeted work.  For a couple of weeks, I started using the Tracy Anderson Post Pregnancy workout DVD.  I think it's a great workout albeit a little depressing because Tracy is a size 1/2.  Yes, a 1/2, she's not quite a 1, but the size of her head likely prevents her from being a size zero.  She declares repeatedly that she gained sixty pounds while pregnant.  I want to believe her when she says my "skin will come back to the muscle" on the pooch flap, but it's hard to trust someone who looks like the last time they ate bread was when she was busy gaining the sixty pregnancy pounds.  I think I might throw this one in from time to time rather than make it my go to pooch patrol.

Today I decided to go for a slow but steady approach to "winning" the race.   I busted out with my older DVD, the Accelerated Body Sculpting DVD with Mari Winsor.  This is a good and very well rounded toning workout.  I actually enjoy it, rather than being in a slight state of torment throughout each exercise.  The exercises are challenging, varied, and the amount of repetition is effective without becoming torturous.

So, the plan more Special K challenge.  Although, for breakfast I do eat it-that, or low fat Nutri Grain waffles with fruit (on days that I want to feel special).  For lunch, something sensible and energy providing because I do have a 20 month old to chase after all.  For dinner, whatever I feel like making in a portion that makes sense for it being the last meal of my day and rather late.  Snacks are raw almonds, dried apricots, a Special K bar, and 1 or 2 squares of dark chocolate.

I will likely do the Pilates workout more often and throw in the Tracy Anderson DVD if I'm feeling bored.  For my creative self, I will also do the Shimmy bellydance workout I DVR from FIT TV.

I am enjoying getting back into some of my clothes-especially now that my bra size is almost back to normal.  I think that none of this would actually be an issue for me if I could wear all of my clothes and keep the pooch...but that isn't the case.  There are many things that I very much love wearing and cannot because of my midsection.

Wish me luck, today I did my workout with Ever climbing all over me and it was not the easiest thing in the world to do.  I just know that if successful, I will feel that much more myself and also be more physically prepared for the baby that Eric and I would like to have after Ever gets a little older.

Here's to not having to suck it in!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Uncertain Witness

I have to admit, I'm kind of in the neighborhood of terrified regarding the possible "cabin fever" that might be on the horizon for myself and Ever as colder weather approaches.  A pretty consistent part of our routine involves fresh air in the form of playground outings, beach visits, and walks.  I know that there will still be the opportunity to do these things albeit in our jackets...I also know that there will be days when the weather is just too yucky for it.

I'm sure that I can find many things for Ever to learn during this time, but it's also a time for me to get outside of the box-literally-when I get outdoors.  I'm sure you'll see some postings in the coming weeks regarding what I'll be doing about it.

Today is rainy, so I busted out with a notebook and pencil.  Everlyse was overjoyed at the prospect of expressing herself on paper (which you can see on the youtube link).

I just don't want to fail her in some way.  It doesn't seem to matter how much I give for her or my family, somehow I have a nagging feeling inside of me that it isn't enough.  My brain says it is, but apparently my brain can't tell my feelings what to do.

I'll continue to do my best and live with the nagging-maybe tell that voice to shut her yammering once in a while so that I can enjoy this exquisite little creature that God so graciously bestowed me with.  I am present in so many life moments with her in a way that I know I've been before when face to face with a miracle (the whisper of leaves, the light bulb going off over a child's head when an idea is given birth to, the rising up of pure joy in the form of laughter).  What I'm witnessing with Ever is something incomparable and wondrous to behold.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Get In The Classroom Or Shut Your Mouth

I commented the following on a teacher friend and former colleague's Facebook page after someone she knows wrote about how easy teachers have it.  It turns out Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg has donated $100 million dollars to Newark schools and will be working with Mayor Booker regarding how it's to be used...  

Um, Danny-don't know you-but you need to get yourself in a classroom for a minute before you start talking smack like you know something. There is absolutely nothing that you could compare it to-maybe other teachers may have things a bit easier, but in Newark-there is nothing comparable. Your entire life is engulfed by it, no matter how you try to find balance.

Yahaira, we know the truth, girlfriend.

I don't know what they'll do with that money, but they need to put that check in someone's name that has NOTHING to do with that school system. The money needs to come out as a result of real systemic change taking place. Changing the "it's who you know" mentality-changing the expectation that children are only learning when they're sitting like catatonic little robots and are motivated by fear to learn rather than their natural curiosity-changing the way new teachers are NOT trained and are told to CONFORM all while preaching that kids unique abilities are to be cultivated....which is just an impossible juxtaposition.

My heart is still in Newark. I'm just not sure how long it will take for me to recover from the brokenness I feel after dedicating myself YES 24/7 to my kids and their families at Horton, I still can't visualize myself in any classroom because I remember what it felt like to be engulfed in each child's life and in my hopes/expectations for them and the incredible frustration of being limited from what I was trying to do.

According to the Huffington Post, this money will be used through a foundation to benefit schools in America with a special focus on schools in Newark.  I don't know that money itself will do the trick, but I would absolutely love to see real change in the public school system there.  TEAM charter schools are already doing an amazing job of proving that the problem is not the students or their environment, the problem is the system.  As for Mark Zuckerberg, it's so heartening to know that someone at his level of success is finding ways to share his blessings with others.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Handy Man

It's nice to be surprised once in awhile.

As long as I've known Eric (my husband), he's never been more than a couple of feet away from a laptop.  He is so skilled at most things involving technology (and creativity) that he's now built a career upon it.

I wasn't prepared to find out that he.....
is handy around the house?!?!?!?

My dad is super handy.  In fact, his name is Manny.  Yep, there's a show on the Disney channel called Handy Manny and they based it on him.  At least it seems that way....
Eric likes to joke that if you handed my dad a few 2X4's and some wire he'd build you a computer.

I had kind of resigned myself to thinking that although he does light stuff around the house, Eric's probably not going to do things I've seen my dad do.

I was wrong.  The lovely thing is, now Eric has it in writing, in public, that I admitted to being wrong about something involving him, haha.

On weekends, when there's stuff to do, Eric refers to himself as S.H.I.T.  Super Husband In Training.  S.H.I.T. then tackles his S.H.I.T. list and admits to feeling very satisfied as things get marked off of it.

Last night after getting home a little after 8, he hung a curtain rod in the family room and then put together 2 IKEA wardrobes.  By MIDNIGHT....I was in awe.

Like I said, it's nice to be surprised once in awhile.  So, maybe he's not going to get an old waterbed frame and turn it into a wall entertainment/shelving unit like my dad has done, but he no longer needs to I.T. at the end of his title.  Of course, there are so very many reasons he doesn't need the I.T. at the end of his title having nothing to do with doing stuff around the house, but I'll save those for another post.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Boys Go To Work and Girls Stay at Home

Today I met a very lovely mommy from Ireland at the playground who has lived here in Jersey for seven years.  As we discussed the challenges of being a stay-at-home, she said that she is concerned about her daughter's impression of a woman's role.  Her daughter has said that "boys go to work and girls stay home."  Her mother has been pointing out women she and her daughter encounter in professional positions and explains to her that they are at "work."  

I said her daughter (a three year old) is probably old enough for her to explain that although she isn't leaving home to work, she is in fact doing a very difficult and important job.  Also, now that I'm thinking of it...her daughter is probably old enough to understand her if she explains that she is staying home to raise her herself and to teach her things only she could teach her.

Anyhow, it just resonated with me.  As mothers, guilt follows us everywhere.  She was very happy in a career role, but with all of their family in Ireland, just couldn't get comfortable with leaving her little one with strangers (which is exactly why I decided to take time off from my career).

I hope that the love with which she has made her choices is what makes an impression on her daughter over time.  I hope the same for myself and for other stay at home moms and dads who decide that they are willing to sacrifice the income and the social respect that come with having a professional career in order to raise their own children.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to Take a Pre-Menstrual Health Day

1.  Go easy on yourself.  It's okay to be tired and yes, a little lazy right now.
2.  Dark chocolate
3.  Notting Hill...or maybe The Holiday
4.  Cuddles (from any willing victim)
5.  A hot (or at least warm) bath
6.  Zero guilt about any of the above listed remedies

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Baby Einstein vs. Eebee Baby

Blogging sans computer...
My computer's hard drive pooped out yesterday.  Sigh. 

Today I decided to give my opinion of the Eebee Baby video series.  The back cover touts it as the"non" Baby Einstein. I thought I should try something different.  Hmmm, I've never thought of using a light switch to teach Ever the difference between on and off (she says snarkily)...

Everlyse knows how to sign many household words and say them after viewing Baby Einstein's sign language DVD's for nap wind-down.

Anyhow, the key to getting something out of a learning tool is practice. The learning videos produced by Baby Einstein are a great tool for both parent and child.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why I Love Frittata

1.  You can eat it for any meal
2.  All you need are eggs and whatever else is in your refrigerator
3.  It's almost like eating quiche
4.  You only need 20 minutes and it's a whole meal in ONE pan
5.  Sure, you need to use the oven...but, it is so worth it

Today's frittata for linner was made with green peppers, onion, corn tortilla, and feta cheese-I made it with roasted red potatoes on the side because I felt like having some potatoes (equally good in the frittata), but my roasted potatoes are really yummy on their own.

It was good.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Things I Learned From My Mom, Wonder Woman, and Morgan Fairchild

Today while "putting on my face," as my mom used to say, I thought about the time I take each day in doing so.  I do this even if I'm not going anywhere.  Sometimes it feels like a chore and sometimes it feels like a treat.  Most of the time it feels like a small place in my day where I can go and just be the woman I dreamed of being as a little girl.

My little girl image of a grown up woman was a mixture of 10 % Wonder Woman, 10 % Morgan Fairchild ("Dallas", anyone?), and 60% my mother with the other 20% being filled in by other random characters, such as Joan Jett.  I watched my mom apply liquid eyeliner every day and do her hair-I asked her where we were going.  She replied, "Nowhere, I just feel better after I put on my face."  I could see that she did, too.  Her mood was lifted, plus, she was gorgeous.  Morgan Fairchild gave me the impression that I would have a fancy bedroom and have my slippers at the bedside when ready for bed.  Which I do (not so much a fancy bedroom, but slippers by the bed, anyhow)...and I religiously apply cream to my hands and feet before bed as well.  Wonder woman instilled in me the idea that with the right, arm bands, corset-I could leap over buildings and fight injustice all while looking extremely hot.

So, as I do my make-up I have a special time to myself.  My husband knows that the kids should not be in the room with me during this time if at all possible.  He entertains them downstairs.  On weekdays I usually do this during Ever's (my 18 month old) nap or before she wakes. It's quiet and it's a luxury to sit at my vanity and do my thing.  Some days I put thought into my outfit...other days (like today), I'm in my husband's t-shirt and some shorts.  No matter about the outfit, I feel pretty.

If I think on how many times Eric (my husband) has commented on my appearance vs. housework it's a no brainer.  He very often thanks me for making the effort (even though he knows it's more for me than anything or anyone else), he may not say "Wow, you did your makeup," but he'll take a look at me and say something about how beautiful or how sexy I am. 

So, if you ever find yourself in a frumpslump (as I like to call it), bust out your makeup kit.  It doesn't take much-you know what your basics are that make you feel like yourself.  Take care of yourself...the laundry isn't going anywhere.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Letter to the 2010 Newark TFA Members From a 2006 Alum

I am thinking on the first days I spent in the classroom as an El Paso transplant in Newark.  I came through Teach For America...after the grueling time spent over the summer teaching in Philly making do with somewhere around 20-30 minutes of sleep a night and a degree in teaching-I thought I was prepared.

Nothing can prepare you.  That first year for me would have made the most weathered teacher retire or resign.  Most of my students came from a kindergarten teacher in his last year before retirement.  Aside from the fact that they were extreme behavior problems, he let them enjoy perennial recess rather than trying to teach them something.  They came to me and were bereft at the thought of working.  No matter, I worked, cried, and met them where they were.  Nearly all of them made progress beyond the one year average.  Of course, sometimes you have the couple that you make some progress with but the perfect storm happens to be taking place in their lives and it prevents you from building up much over the foundation you've laid-I just thought of the ways I was able to teach them how to function so much better in a classroom and get along with others.

After that year, I came to know myself and my style.  I began believing in myself.  I have always been the type to question respect has to be earned.  Of course, administrators either respected my work ethic and the ideals to which I clung (most stringently was the refusal to waste my students' time) or hated the way they always had to come up with a good reason for me to jump through whatever hoop they decided to put up for me that particular week.  They also would have been a lot more comfortable had I been a lot less intelligent...or at least just lied and smiled about it all.

Anyhow....2010 Newark TFA members getting ready for your first day tomorrow...
You won't get much sleep.  You will be perplexed at how you were able to ace everything put in front of you throughout your entire life, yet you can't help that one student learn to read/write/do fractions/younameit, your heart will break, you will think about your students when you're not with them-imagining them in the various dangerous situations they live through daily and wishing you could cover them with an umbrella of safety, you will say it's all about the kids but it will suck beyond all levels of suckage when you work until 7 or 8 at night before going home and it goes unappreciated when your observation is negative because that one kid decided today was the day she was not going to open her math book when you asked her to or another student messed up and got up without raising a hand (even though you didn't let it disrupt the lesson for the other kids), you will wonder how they will survive without you-but when you see them the next year you'll see that they're ok (although they miss you and randomly show up in your classroom before school starts or after school), you will never, ever forget these children.  The look of wonder they have while hearing a story, the amazing expression that takes place when the light bulb goes off, the sweetness of making a new friend or forgiving an old one...these things will stay in your mind and in  your heart forever.

You are doing something valuable, brave, and life-changing.  Never forget that.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tilapia Tacos For Dinner Tonight...

Tilapia Soft Corn Tortilla Tacos with Avocado, Toasted Peppers/Onions, L/T, and leftover Chipotle Salsa with Sopa de Arroz, and Lentejas.  My Corona served w/half a lime squeezed into a salt rimmed glass, Eric's out of the bottle w/a lime in it.


Own It

Looking at myself today, I began to get the negative attitude I tend to get while looking at my face.  It's as if I am unable to see it as a whole but instead find little bits and pieces to be unhappy it was the luggage my mother so generously  bequeathed me that likes to live under my eyes.

Then, I just told myself to snap the F out of it.  I spent too many years stuck in this frame of mind-maybe it came from beginning modeling and pageants at 13...or maybe it's just the way American women in general deal with their reflection in the mirror.  Whatever it is, I'm shutting it down.

I look at photos of myself during my teen years, during my early twenties, and can't believe how much time I wasted comparing myself to others and/or being generally unsatisfied with my skin/hair/weight/fillintheblank.  I just know that in a few years, I'll look back at myself in the present...I don't want to feel angry about wasted time in negativity.  I want to know that I owned my inimitable translation of womanhood.

I begun this a few years ago, but it's amazing how easy it is to backslide-especially after a big change (in my case, motherhood).  It takes practice and consistency-but I will do this.  I want my baby girl to grow up and see herself through God's eyes rather than the fickle lens of popular idealogy.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

To Elle Magazine RE: Article "Find Your Bliss"

Rachel Combe's article in June's issue titled "Find Your Bliss" was interesting until I got to the part of the article discussing parenthood.  I wonder what "studies" she researched which said that "mothers get more pleasure from almost anything other than taking care of their kids.  The birth of a child causes a dramatic drop in marital satisfaction that doesn't recover until the children leave home."  I am a stay at home mom, I relocated with Teach for America after graduating magna cum laude , taught for three years, and decided to care for my child myself.  Yes, sometimes going to the bathroom is a challenge, maybe my nails are kind of haggard (which never would have happened before baby), BUT I do not find myself in the midst of caring for her thinking that I would rather be doing just about anything else at that particular moment.  On the contrary, I often find myself utterly grateful that I am privileged to be able to take the time off from my career to be the one who is caring for her and witnessing too many small miracles a day to catalog.  Was it a challenge on our marriage when our daughter was born?  Yes.  It was a challenge in the bedroom-but that has completely recovered and even gotten better.  Added to that, there is something very amazing about working as a team to care for a brand new human being who has entered your lives without an instruction manual-that aspect of our marriage received a big boost.  

It was an offensive article made even more so by the way the author goes on to see both sides of the argument for finding pleasure in running.  Really?  You can find the time to defend the pleasure found in a jog but can't be bothered to address the joys that most certainly do come with having a family?  

I thought that as women we had progressed beyond the feminism which declared that women were only allowed to be satisfied if they were defying tradition.  I thought we had come to a place in which a woman's decision to be more "traditional" and have a family was as respected as the choice to put career first because the point is that as women we can choose our own happiness.  Apparently Ms. Combe hasn't received that memo-her remark regarding getting our tubes tied because of what some studies say was imbecilic.  Her lack of respect for parents everywhere is just flat out insulting.

Getting Older...

Thank you, God for hot (or at least warm) showers.

I thought that all the years of being active and flexible with activities such as dance and yoga would have given me at least another 10 to 15 years before I began to "feel" old.  I'm thirty-five.

It's like just getting down the stairs in the morning (if I haven't showered yet) instantly turns me into my abuela...."Ay dios mio!"..."Ay camarada!"..."Mis pies..."

Such is life, I suppose.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mom is not enough?

I wonder how other moms feel about this issue I experience...
It seems that whenever I'm around people making conversation, they ask about things I do aside from mothering...which is totally fine, except that I am a full time stay at home mom.

I don't think it makes much sense to disregard this part of my life because it doesn't occur in a money generating setting. I recently became certified to instruct yoga. Most of the questions I've fielded during the time I was taking the course and since graduating have to do with that topic. It's probably about 5-10% of my life right now.

I was a first grade teacher before and people asked about my class and my students-I am still a teacher, but in a different setting. My job has not lost validity because I don't draw a paycheck.

I know those that are asking are really genuinely interested in me. I do. I would just like to discuss some of the many things that I do-teaching my baby to use sign language, her favorite books, working with my stepson on responsibility and attitude, making a frittata with just about anything I find in the refrigerator, finding time for prayer in the midst of it, etc.