Poison won the Battle, I won the MF Garden

My very own one woman, nap time landscaping business is underway!

I toil as truck loads of workers park in front of my neighbors’ homes, pull their powerful, appropriate-for-the-job tools from their trucks, and remake landscapes in the span of a day.

I bend, pull, shovel, grunt, and sweat in my long pants, long-sleeved shirt and gloves with my crappy powerless tools, trying desperately to avoid the poison ivy hiding among the merely annoying ivy. During the hottest two hours of the day.

Here are the stages of my progress, though I missed taking a before-before picture when the ivy was all on the ground in front of these trees and I have yet to have a truly finished garden for an ‘after’ picture.

Step one:  Mow all the ivy that was in front of these trees.


Step two: Pull out the tangled mess left by the ivy. Unfortunately, the lawn mower only eats the leaves.


Step three:  Buy some hydrangeas, dig some holes, and plop the little f’ers in the holes. Then relocate some hostas.


Only one obnoxious battle scar from all of this. As a reminder, I was covered head to toe to avoid this poison ivy. Head to toe, people. That shit don’t play.





The NSN takes on the Yard

Summer is the best, but it also makes me bonkers. As a teacher, I have two months to pack in all my hobbies and interest (am I really complaining here?) But sometimes it makes my ADD take flight and my hands freeze.

Write some children’s lit? Read a book? Read about best practices in teaching? Become a landscape designer? Interior designer? Craft? Blog? Invent fun things to do with my kid? Exercise?

The list of fun is exhausting.

The jungle of the backyard has had my mind and hands on it since spring, so I may as well focus my energy on that second landscaping design career and make home my personal portfolio.  And, what the hell, I’ll blog about it too.

The hubby and I have lived in a single family home for almost three years and had a baby shortly after we moved in, so we kinda let the landscaping go.  And it went.

So now, to work.  First project up is the ivy.  Poison and otherwise.  Stay tuned.


Fifty Seven Pieces of Plastic Food

My little family of three fumbled through our first year of daycare last year, every night carefully scrubbing bottles and nipples and teeny breast pump pieces.  Remembering the crib sheets, the back up clothes, and bottles of milk so my child wouldn’t starve.  The pump and cooler in their flowery bag were my constant companions.

Then there were the volunteer hours  – often taking home loads of snot crusted bibs and blankies to wash. Summer was well deserved.

Ah, the start of year two.  No more weekly googling ‘how long can breast milk last?’ No more leaving one of those teeny breast pump pieces at home and having to ask my assistant principal to borrow hers before I burst. 

But the volunteer hours?  They just keep coming.

This weekend my husband and I found ourselves washing what had to be about fifty seven pieces of plastic food – broccoli, baguettes, some very realistic red peppers – then carefully squeezing the excess water out of each and every one of them.

Someday, when she stumbles in past curfew and swears up and down that she hates us and will never go to college, I’ll wish for the simple days of fifty seven pieces of plastic food.

Old Dog, New Job

imageWhen I was six, I cried each Saturday it was my turn to be the goalie.  I was terrified by the thought of missing a crucial save and letting my twirling, booger-picking teammates down.

When I was seven, I sat on the stairs and wailed when my parents signed me up for kid pitch softball, terrified I’d let myself down swing by swing.

New roles and responsibilities are not my bag.  I get scared shitless, give myself hives (or shingles), and finally get fucking going.

Next week I start a new role in my same school.  From Reading Specialist to Literacy Coach.  I am creating the job, the framework for the work I will do. I will be an agent of change for many who do not wish to change.  I will mentor, consult, cajole, and coach.  I will be asked questions I don’t yet know the answers to.  I will see teaching practices I abhor and will need to remain positive and focused on incremental change.  Teachers, parents, and most importantly children will rely on my ability to do my job well.  And my husband and daughter will need me to not bring my stress home.

It’s basically shit-ass scary.

But I say, “Be damned impending hives!” I won’t be that six year old, snot running down my chin for fear of failure.  I will be the woman – thoughtful, positive, fearless – that I’d like my daughter to see.  And I’ll prepare like a mother fucker.

What’s wrong with this picture?


Thinly veiled sexism.  Very thinly veiled, that’s what.  And, to quote one of my former students, “That’s a whole lotta white people” too.

In this thrilling number, a horribly unqualified squid wants to become president (sound familiar?) and searches for reasons upon which to base his qualifications.  Now, if this were a satirical book for adults, I may find it rather humorous given the current political climate.  But it’s not.  This is a children’s book. That many many girls will read.

I can only hope those little girls are being taught that pantsuits, skirts, and dresses are also perfectly presidential attire.

Fearful Unease

Full disclosure: I’m a lifelong democrat.  Raised to believe the government’s job is to support all of its people, regardless of class, race, or gender.  I’m also a feminist.  Raised to believe I am worthy of making my own choices in life.

The pundits claim there’s no excitement for Hillary’s candidacy.  I don’t think it’s a lack of excitement they’re witnessing.  I believe it to be a fearful unease of what is happening around us that is keeping us quiet.

This I know is true.

I am raising my daughter in a world in which a major political party calls a racist misogynist their candidate.  With members who use lewd jokes to mock the female candidate for president.  A party that has abandoned its core principles because winning is everything.

I might have to raise my daughter in a world in which her president dismisses her gender. A president who rates her body on a scale of 1-10. A president who reinforces the notion that her only purpose in life is to pleasure a man.

I might have to raise my daughter in a world in which her president calls whole countries of people ‘rapists and murderers’.  A president who mocks the disabled.  A president who uses his platform to stoke the flames of racism.

This I also know is true.

When she pads down the hall this morning in her fleece pjs, we’re going to start the day with our favorite chant – Hil-la-ry!

Ellie and I will not be kept quiet.


I don’t want to be the kind of mom who…

Shortly after becoming a mom, my insecurities about keeping this little Monchhichi alive hit with full force.  Those insecurities also came with a side of feeling judged at every turn.  And then I realized I felt like a different ‘kind of mom’ depending on who was doing the judging.

Around those who were more carefree about safety, I felt like an uptight fuddy duddy when I said the 9yo wasn’t aloud to carry the baby around the room.

Around those who felt babies should always be bundled up, I felt loosey goosey and neglectful when I had her in just a onesie and socks.

And from society the judgements changed with time. I heard, ‘Breastfeed! Breastfeed! Breastfeed!  Wait, she’s one?  Stop Breastfeeding!  Stop Breastfeeding!’

Lamenting this with my sister (mother of two) one day, I started to say, “I don’t want to be the kind of mom who…”  She stopped me right there.

“You’re not the kind of mom who.  You’re you.  With a kid.  Just be you.  With a kid.”

So that’s what I’m doing.  Oh sure, I’m still insecure about whether or not I’m making the right choices for my daughter, but I’ll be damned if I’ll make my decisions based on the judgements of others.

And most def, I will no longer use the ‘kind of mom’ phrase to judge other moms.  I’ll let the childless do that for us.

Thank you Carolyn.



“She’d Stay with you Forever

if she could,” said the vet, my tears reflected on her cheeks.

I looked back down at Wrigley, stroked her ear.  Here we were, cramped in the back of the truck and she was finally at peace.  No more throwing up.  No more losing weight. No more pain. 

A decade of love ending with what felt like an awful betrayal.

We’d been slowly marching toward this day for the past two months.  There was the last walk. The last peanut Frosty Paw.  The last good morning kiss. The last ride in the truck.

I tried to tell her.  I tried to explain it was for the best. She just looked at me with those soft, trusting eyes.  Tired eyes, for sure, but loving eyes just the same.

Some day soon I’ll write about all the heartwarming parts – the gleeful arrivals, the tail that beheaded Grandma’s prized lily, the inexhaustible loyalty, and even how she got me through labor.  I’ll thank the family who surrendered her to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.  I’ll be grateful for all the love, annoyances, and silliness that are wrapped up in our last ten years together.  But right now all I can think is,

I’d stay with her forever if I could.



Comfort food

Disclaimer:  The following is in no way fuel for the breast v. bottle argument…which isn’t usually perpetuated by Mamas anyway.Blog- squash-soup_4

I’ve always been a big fan of the comfort food.  I’ve been snuggled by my mom’s chicken soup, commiserated with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, and loved by a gooey grilled cheese. But until I became a mama, I never knew the power of the ultimate comfort food.  Breastmilk.

Uh oh, Peanut’s cranky from a long day at daycare?  Kiss, kiss, boob.

Boom.  Happy baby.

Can’t fall asleep?  Kiss, kiss, boob.

Boom. Sleepy baby.

Got a cold?  Ear infection?  Cutting a tooth?  kiss, kiss, boob, boob, boob.

Boom.  Happy baby.

Calms her dad pretty well too.


Well, stick my head in a laundry basket

imageJust your good old-fashioned Mama-driven sleep deprivation around here, with a side of sick dog, work stress and Zika. Here’s a sampling from my week with this addled brain in cause and effect form.


Wake up thirsty at 1:30am. Roll over, take a sip of water.  Bam. Awake like crazy.

Spend the hours between 2:30 and 4:30 alternating among checking flights for my friend’s upcoming Cancun wedding, googling the risks of Zika and getting pregnant, and wondering how to keep everyone happy with my decision to go or cancel – husband, friend, future babies, and of course, the village (cause you know the village is all up in our grills when we’re pregnant or trying).

And, Effect:

Drop off at daycare. Pull into the parking lot and hop out the front seat.  Open the back door to take out my kid.  Smile sweetly at her.  She smiles back. Starts rolling away from me. Dash to the front, pull the emergency brake, breathe.

Manage to save a student’s favorite sweatshirt from the lost and found. Triumphantly present it to her.  She explains hers is at home in the laundry.  In effect, I have stolen a kid’s sweatshirt.

Minutes after leaving work, text my colleague to apologize for forgetting to give her the thank you card I owe her.  She texts back.  I gave it to her. 

Pick up time at daycare.  Grab the kid, walk down the long hall and out the front door. Realize I have the wrong kid.  Kidding.  Have the right kid. But also have the blue puffy keep-the-floor-clean booties still attached to my feet.  Chuckles all around from the daycare ladies. 

As if stress weren’t enough, even the drama from sleep deprivation is exhausting. Might just take a page from my kid’s book and stick my head in the laundry basket.