Saturday, December 4, 2010

fingers crossed

We have an accepted offer on a house we love and should sign contracts this week. Our mortgage application is in and both our house and the one we plan to buy have appraised well. In a month, we should be in the new house. Very exciting, but the amount of packing and organizing to be done is daunting. The most hilarious part of moving will be how our small amount of mismatched furniture will look in a much bigger house. We plan to get stuff from Craig's List and Freecycle once we move so we have places to sit and some lights.

This is my last post until we are settled in the new house after the holidays. Happy holidays to all.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

to be continued...

Our day to day existence has been so hectic for the last few weeks that I find myself really looking forward to having off Veteran's day off next Thursday and I am completely beside myself that I will have 5 days off in a row for Thanksgiving and auntie Heather is visiting. We are in contract to sell our home--- can I get a boom shaka-laka!!! And we are looking for a home.... we actually found one we love, but we are investigating all possibilities. We are doing mortgage paperwork, nightly homework, grading, spending way too much time on real estate websites, freaking out a little, etc... Its probably going to get worse before it gets better, I mean we still have to pack up, get a Christmas together for the kids, keep going to work.... So, I don't think there will be much blogging here for the next few weeks as we try to get the next stage of our life put together. But, we are so excited... to move to the woods, near a very cool city, have more space, so many things to look forward to... I will probably pop back into blog exciting updates as our real estate dealings work themselves out or maybe I'll be too tired to do anything, its still to early to tell.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

the wanderer

Jove is happiest when he is outside and free to explore. Lately he has been mentioning to me that he plans to be a "wanderer" when he grows up and he will backpack around and camp in the wilderness. He says he would marry but only have one child because you can't carry around a lot of children when you are wandering. One day we saw an RV on the way home from school and I explained what RVs are to him, he decided he should use his piggy bank money to buy one one day. When I ask him about how he plans to get food while he wanders, his answer varies from having me send it to him through the mail to growing it or collecting it himself. I love that he has uninhibited dreams about his future. He also says that maybe he'll be a science teacher (since teachers don't have to work all of the time, he says) or a marine biologist or he'll work with technology. He has told me to get more non-fiction books (books about real stuff, he calls them) because there is so much to learn about. I love talking to Jove right now.

Jupiter took Jove on his first overnight backpacking trip this summer after Jove got his own gear for his 6th birthday. Jove is tough, tougher than me, we both say. He will get dirty, hurt, walk long distances without complaint. He loves adventure and embraces life completely.

I find myself watching Jove get taller and more mature and I want to freeze him as his 6 year old free-spirited self... soak in his sense of wonder about the world... remember his goofy toothless grin... be patient with questions about RVs...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

different lens Haiku

I find his pictures
six months of his camera
capturing moments

Friday, August 20, 2010

summer fun

Our backyard pool finally feels worth its while this summer. Jove can swim independently and it has been super hot so the pool is getting used almost every single day. Two of our neighbors have their grandsons with them almost every day and they come over to swim with Jove all the time. Miranda has made the leap from floating in a tube to swimming with the vest by herself.

We were supposed to go our good friends' house in Virginia this week but their kids are pretty sick so we had postpone our trip indefinitely (boo hoo). We were all very sad not to able to go and had a lot of open days on our calendar. Jove requested a trip to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania for the day. The park reminded me a lot of Cedar Point in Ohio but it had more stuff for kids and a water park area. Miranda rode a log plume ride and only moderately freaked out and Jove rode real roller coasters for the first time. I think he is braver than I am. This park will definitely be the one we go to for a few years.

This week Jupiter and I have started to have daily evening conversations about teaching matters. The wind down into the school year has begun. I am glad we are both teachers for so many reasons and being able to share the joy of the summer as a family is on the top of my list. We have so many ideas for extended summer trips for the future as the kids are older and able to do more things: next summer we will travel in the Dominican Republic, we want to go out West with the kids and I really want to do a multi-week trip to Australia and Indonesia. We still have some end of summer adventures planned for the next couple of weeks: Jove and Jupiter's backpacking trip, a week of nature summer camp for Jove and a trip to a Renaissance Faire. And, every evening I will be working on my lessons.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

always a michigander

Going to Michigan makes me feel nostalgic and sentimental, more this year than in past years... perhaps it is because my grandparents are aging and I wish I had more time with them, maybe it is because Michigan feels like a place I visit and grew up in, but one I will probably never live in again or maybe because so many people I love so much are there and I don't get to see them that much... for whatever reason, I feel more appreciative of my time there and sad to leave it behind.

I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, but my parents are spending their summers in retirement on Lake Huron in a beautiful home. We spent a few days there swimming and playing on the beach, the kids (including me) rode a jet ski for the first time, I kayaked with Miranda (who, along with me, was relieved it was calmer than the jet ski), my mom (the Artist) did rock and T-shirt painting with the kids, we had a beach bonfire with fireworks, swung on the swing looking out over the water, went to town for ice cream and watched birds. It is a calming place: the water, the woods, being with family.

I want my kids to know and appreciate the natural beauty of Michigan like I do. As a kid, my parents took my brother and I to hike the Sleeping Bear Dunes near Traverse City. As a child, I felt like I was trekking through the desert. My dad hiked the arduous dunes with us down to Lake Michigan which was beautiful. Can anyone who has not seen the Great Lakes understand how majestic they are? I told Jove that I did the same hike when I was young and he said that he would bring his kids there one day.

We visited one of my oldest friend's parents who have watched me grow up and change since I was a teenager and now they get to see my children grow and change.

I feel loved: by my parents, my brother, my grandparents and my chosen extended family

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


He has brought them all up on wild berries, they say,
Like birds. They store a great many away.
They eat them the year round, and those they don't eat
They sell in the store and buy shoes for their feet.”
Who cares what they say? It's a nice way to live,
Just taking what Nature is willing to give...

From Blueberries by Robert Frost

Jove and Miranda don their berry picking outfits. Jove wears long pants because he knows the vines have spines and Miranda wears her strawberry dress because fashion is important, even on woodland adventures. We found a bunch of wineberry bushes on a trail in a nearby park last year and when I ran past ripe ones a couple of weeks ago I knew we were ready to go on our berry-picking adventure. Jove is the worker bee and doesn't eat any and Miranda eats all of them and says, "one for me, one for the basket," but in the end she has none.
I tried wineberry smoothies with disastrous results and wineberry syrup on pancakes with fresh wineberries with much happier eaters. Miranda ate the rest of them as snacks.

This past week we were invited to the family lake house of one of Jove's classmates in Massachussets. The clear, deep lake was surrounded by pines and there were blueberry bushes in front of the house right on the water. While Jove and his buddy made the biggest paper airplane ever, Miranda rode an inflatable Orca while I fed her fresh wild blueberries. Jove's buddy's mom made a fresh blueberry pie with fresh whipped cream.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

teachable moments

---- Being with my parents makes me feel taken care of even though I'm all grown up
---- Miranda will always be my favorite ballerina

---- Being outdoors and camping are good for the soul
----Jove and Miranda love to be together (except when they don't) and are lucky to have each other

---- Popsicles bought by grandpa always taste magical, especially when its ungodly hot

----Working hard makes you strong

Life around here has been very busy this last month with a lot of work on the house. Certain moments serve to remind me of all of the fun we are having when we are not doing house stuff and all of the love, growth and change we experience everyday.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Our Jove turned six two days ago and in celebration of all that makes him unique (and copying a blogging friend), I want to share with all of you the special things about Jove. It is an exciting time of new friendships and experiences and lots of accomplishments.

We had Jove's birthday party at one of our favorite nature centers and Jove got to pick the animals for the wildlife show, no fuzzy chinchillas here, all reptiles except for the tarantula.

Jove loves....

Getting dirty: Jove can play with sand or dirt for hours making balls, digging canals or building up earthen walls, redirecting the flow of water through the yard, mixing in plant parts or side walk chalk dust for special mixes.

To watch wildlife: Sometimes I will peer back through the kitchen window and Jove is down at ground level watching an insect. He collects bugs for his permanent collection, he identifies birds, raises butterflies, he catches snakes and builds houses for them. One book that he chooses for storytime is an illustrated encyclopedia of life on Earth. He embodies the concept of a sense of wonder about nature.

Talking/socializing: Jove is a talker (wonder where he gets that from...). He makes friends easily and gets along and plays with children of all ages. He is confident and will often be the leader of the shenanigans in a group of kids.

Being "Crazy:" Jupiter is pretty fearless and I am not. Jove says I need to come over the crazy side of the family. He rides his bike fast, climbs rocks and trees and then jumps off and gets cuts and scrapes and doesn't blink. I can only imagine what he'll want to do in ten years

Cakes and other sweets: We usually only have cake at birthdays and minimal junk food in the house, so when Jove gets a piece of cake at a party he savors it. He'll sit enraptured by his cake while other kids run around. He licks the plate clean...

I feel so lucky to have such a fun spirited and adventurous little boy as my son.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Many times over the past few weeks I have thought of witty blog entries or status updates, but I have had no time to write them. I don't really have the time now, but I am sitting down to exhale.

Our house is on the market and we should start showings in the next few days. We are so excited to sell and move onto more land and to a little less hustle and bustle. Getting the house cleaned up, emptied out and repaired everywhere has been keeping us very busy. This house has not ever been so neat and tidy since we have lived here.

We are also in the throes of the end of the school year: both ours and the kids. The kids definitely are having more fun with their parties and such and us with our state science exams. We finish the end of next week.

Our good friends who live in Virginia stayed with us last week and it was so fun to be all together again. My mother-in-law left yesterday and Jup leaves tomorrow for a very important family wedding in DR that I wish we could all go to. My parents come next weekend to celebrate Jove's 6th birthday.

Certainly the two biggest developments around here that are both a couple of months old at this point is that Miranda is potty trained and Jove is reading books on his own. After 6 years (with a month break) of changing diapers, I felt like uncorking champagne when Miranda became a big girl. Jove is a super-reader and we have started keeping track of all the books he reads independently (30 so far) and he says once he has read 100 he wants to have a cake to celebrate.
Yay for peeing and reading all by yourself!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

the end of an era

We are spending all free moments cleaning, boxing up and going through our possessions in an attempt to make our house look more presentable to put it on the market for sale and less like it was just broken into and someone was searching for a toy... or like the contents of a pre-school were dumped all over it. You get the picture.

So, one item that had to go was our beloved pretend trampoline, otherwise known as a forty year old twin mattress that lived and loved on the floor of the kids room. We got Jove a shiny, new mattress set when he moved into a big boy bed many years ago and we put the old mattress, that had belonged to my great-grandmother in Houghton Lake, Michigan, onto the floor intending to put it out at the curb on bulk garbage day. Jove decided he loved having an old mattress on the floor and declared that it was going to stay and he jumped on it for an hour straight to prove his point of how awesome it was. So, it stayed; being jumped on, napped on, nursed on and hosting house guests.

A couple of weeks ago we decided that we had to get rid of it, finally.

We can't show the house to prospective buyers with a mattress on the floor and carting it to a new location and storing it in the meantime seems impractical. So, we talked to the kids about it and even gave them a final night of jumping, but I wasn't prepared for how emotional saying goodbye to the mattress was going to be. Jove protested and recruited Miranda to his cause. He cried and argued. Finally, he decided that he would survive if we took a picture of it to remember it. He also said we should write stories about it and maybe I could make a scrapbook page about it.

For a couple of days I felt very emotional about the whole thing, probably more about moving and saying goodbye to this house than the mattress....

goodbye, pretend trampoline.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Earth Day 2010

Aldo Leopold, considered by many to be the creator of the land ethic, wrote these words in 1948 in the foreword to his classic A Sand County Almanac:

There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot.

... Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher 'standard of living' is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us in the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television, and the chance to see a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech.

These wild things, I admit, had little human value until mechanization assured us a good breakfast, and until science disclosed the drama of where they come from and how they live. The whole conflict thus boils down to a question of degree. We of the minority see a law of diminishing returns in progress, our opponents do not.

Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. There is no other way for land to survive the impact of mechanized man, nor for us to reap from it the esthetic harvest it is capable, under science, of contributing to culture.

... But wherever the truth may lie, this much is crystal-clear: our bigger-and-better society is now like a hypochondriac, so obsessed with its own economic health as to have lost the capacity to be healthy. The whole world is so greedy for more bathtubs that it has lost the stability necessary to build them, or even turn off the tap. Nothing could be salutary at this stage than a little healthy contempt for a plethora of material blessings.
Perhaps such a shift in values can be achieved by reappraising things unnatural, tame and confined in terms of things natural, wild and free.

I can't help but ponder what Leopold would say about the "progress" humanity has made since 1948. The duality of more protected land and better environmental laws contrasting with our new obsessions and expanded pursuit of wealth.

I read this to my environmental science students and we discussed the possibilities of shifting from a nation of consumers to a nation of producers who creatively work to support other people that are not beholden only to corporations, but to their communities and to the land. Some of my students have "aha" moments in the classroom and some of them are cynical. I tell them, "How can you can be so cynical when you're only seventeen?" They tell me, "We're New Yorkers."

I took all of my classes to the Nature Study Woods to hike and to clean up litter. One of my earth science students made Earth cupcakes and I read them The Lorax by Dr. Suess. My environmental science students read poems that they wrote or found. My favorite part of being in the woods with my students is when they make their own observations about nature and start to have their own connection to the place.

Happy Earth day!

Finding a Jack-in-the Pulpit flower for the first time.