Monday, September 27, 2010

Old Stuff

Forever ago, or maybe it was just Labor Day (I can hardly tell the difference anymore), Chris and I took the kids to the Florida Aquarium. It was awfully crowded, being a holiday and such, but we still had a good time.

These jellies were so gorgeous! The lights in the aquarium change colors and make those squishy little fellas look so magical.

And here are a few of my favorite photos from the day:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Little Bit

I could not let my favorite seasonal change pass without a little bit of something. Granted, with homework and work and all the other stuff in my life right now, there wasn't much that I could pull together.
So, I got a pumpkin.

A tiny, lonely, perfect pumpkin.

He was aiming to be festive, but he didn't quite make it on his own, so I added a couple of candles.

And that was better. Certainly not the customary celebration of years past, but it was something. I made an apple crisp and my family came over for a bit and it was good. We listened to Vivaldi and sipped on coffee brewed with a cinnamon stick. Then we packed it all back up and I find myself here, wanting to make it all last a bit longer, or even just wanting to go to bed early. Alas, it is not to be. My English homework will not be denied any longer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lickety Split

I'd be willing to bet that this has never happened to you:

It's an interesting thing, working with kids. They're all so unique and so amazing. But unlike school teachers, as a piano teacher, I have a real cross-section of the under-18 set in my life. I have teenagers and little bitty ones, I have brave ones and I have extra-shy ones. I have a few with disabilities too, and I love that about the studio where I teach.
This afternoon, I was sitting in the lobby of the studio with a girl who has Down's Sydnrome. She's not my student, but I've taught her once or twice as a substitute or assistant, so she knows me.
A huge smile crossed her face when I walked through the door, looking for my next student. She patted the chair next to hers, waving me closer. So I sat down.
I was wearing a pair of sandals and she reached toward my desperately-in-need-of-a-pumice-stone heel and asked me, eyes full of concern, "what happened?" She seemed certain a horrible accident had caused these injuries.

I need a pedicure.
So what?
I have bigger things to worry about.

I answered her, "Oh, honey. It's just dry, that's all. I'm alright." And before I knew what was happening, lightning fast,

she licked my foot.

I mean, I guess I did say it was dry...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In the Garden

I did a little bit of gardening this morning, and I do mean a little bit. It is still nasty-hot here. Nonetheless, it's time to turn our thoughts toward fall gardening, here in the lovely balmy sunshine-y hellishly hot state of Florida.
I cleaned out my raised vegetable bed to prepare for the beet seedlings and a couple of tomatoes that I have sprouting, tucked safely in their newspaper cups on the back porch. In the process, I really made a mess of things for a lot of critters. I was tempted to wail, "Oh, the humanity!" as I watched the circle of life unfold on that tiny stage, but then I remembered that these were not humans, but bugs and pests.
Nonetheless, I am compelled to offer an open letter of apology:

To the Displaced Residents of the Raised Garden Bed,
I am sincerely sorry that I have disturbed your quiet settlement. With its tall grasses and flowering weeds, and a vegetable plant that was occasionally dropping overripe, rotting fruit for you to nibble, I am certain that you presumed this to be an ideal location to live and procreate.
To the lizard: I am sorry that I disturbed your nest. Your eggs were so tiny and perfect. I really admired the workmanship. And the babies that were jumping from weed to weed were adorable. On the bright side, I unearthed a lot of small bugs for you to eat.
To the stink bugs: I'm sorry I flicked you off my arm in a moment of panic. You have grown so numerous under the cover of weeds and I was just taken by complete surprise when so many of you jumped on me. I will presume hereafter that it was intended as an enthusiastic greeting, since we haven't seen each other all summer. I will be more careful in the future.
To the ants: Well, in your case, I am not sorry. You bite me all the time and leave swollen welts filled with pus. Nothing that causes pus can be up to any good at all. Yes, yes - you are hard workers. I've heard that since elementary school. But really? Did you have to start attacking the snails? It was like watching urban rioting after a natural disaster. Inexcusable.
And finally, to the snails: I like you guys. I find you unendingly endearing. I have gone out of my way to not crush you in my driveway and to smile while you turn my sweet potato vines into lacy wisps of nothingness. If I don't even harvest any sweet potatoes this year because they had no leaves with which to gather nutrients from the sun, I will probably forgive you anyway because you are so darn cute. I love how you carry a swirly, round house on your back. I like anything that is round, and I loathe straight edges and sharp corners. You embody all that I love in nature. Well, except for the slime. Seriously. Yuck. To you, I offer my most heartfelt sorrow. I didn't realize that my raised garden bed was the epicenter of your culture in my yard. I will weep for the tiny ones that are now exposed to the sun and for the larger, older ones that struggled to right themselves, having been tumbled over by my aggressive weeding techniques. I will mourn the loss of those who were still eating the grasses and have now landed in the trash heap, still attached to the last morsel they will ever enjoy. Yes, I am most sorry for you, snails.
My garden is where I work, battling the elements, taming nature and coaxing what nutritious food I can out of the dirt and seeds. The elements that I have to fight? Yeah. You guys are some of them. You eat my food. I mean, you're cute and everything (I'm talking to you, snails), but I'm not sweating and getting dirty to give you a nice meal. So, it's time for those of you who survived this morning to find a new home. I'm giving you a week. Then I'm coming at the dirt with a hoe and you do not want to be in my way.

The sweaty lady with dirty fingernails.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happiness, Defined

Know something that makes me happy?
Babies eating cake.

I lieu of a substantive post today, I give you more pictures of my darling nephew at his first birthday party.

Daily Bliss: serious, street-flooding rain
Wake-up Playlist: The Black Keys, Everlasting Light

Saturday, September 4, 2010

How It's Going

Now that school has started for both myself and the kids and everyone has been made aware of our ridiculous schedule by my loud complaining, I am getting lots of very nice questions.
When I run into friends, the first thing they ask is, "So, how's it going with school and everything?" I usually roll my eyes and mumble something about "overwhelmed" and you might hear me say something about feeling really old. So, I thought I'd pound out a more thorough answer here, both for you, my friends, and for myself.
Truthfully, yeah - I'm overwhelmed.
There are moments when I seriously question my sanity.
What was I thinking?
I am exhausted.
My classes are full of overly confident 20-year-olds and the only other grown-up sitting down to learn is, frankly, really weird. You know the one - they always stay after class to try and engage the professor in meaningful discussion, confident that they are already experts in the topic at hand when, in fact, they are not. She will probably not be my friend.
My husband has been traveling and, though he's at home right now, he's getting ready to leave again for a very long while. In fact, most of this semester, I will be on my own with all of this.
My English professor is way too serious about Comp II. I'm not even kidding. Right now, I'm wishing I'd gone to the trouble of finding my AP English scores. I like to write. Composition should be fun, shouldn't it?
I was complaining to Chris on the phone about all of it and he generously offered this nugget of husbandly concern: "Now are you sorry you volunteered to be the Band Booster president?"
And yes. Maybe I am. But only a little.
Most moms who go back to school talk about all the sacrifices their family makes for them to be able to chase their dreams.
I don't want to be one of those moms.
I am not exactly chasing a dream, I am seizing an opportunity that came my way and I guess I don't feel like that's reason enough to ask my family to "make sacrifices." My kids do a lot of great stuff and I like to stay involved in it. I don't intend for that to change just because I'm going to school.

At least, not yet.

Don't get me wrong - I'm grateful. I didn't appreciate the opportunity to have an education when I was 18 and I threw it away. This time around, I am humble and happy to be learning.

I'm just super uncomfortable.

Everything about this experience lies far outside the bounds of my comfort zone.

I'm two weeks in and I still don't know how it's all going to work out. My dishes aren't getting done and I'm lucky to just get my shoes put away at the end of the day. Okay, fine. I haven't even been putting my shoes away.


But the kids have gotten where they needed to be, with all of the appropriate equipment and I have only forgotten about one piano student. That's not too bad. I made it to all the Band Booster meetings and have kept up with lunch accounts at school. My first math quiz? 100%, thankyouverymuch. Music theory homework? All turned in. Every last scale with its three accompanying minor scales. Handwritten.


So, it's going well, I guess.
I just don't know for how long.

Daily Bliss: Cupcakes. I made cupcakes and I'm not sorry. I needed one. It was a cupcake emergency.
Wake-up Playlist: Lisa Hannigan, Ocean and a Rock

Friday, September 3, 2010


My friend Walt arranged for a piece of Emma's artwork to be on display in a gallery tonight. I cannot even tell you how much this means to me or how much it meant to Emma.
We kept it a secret from her and I wish I could have captured her face when she turned around and saw her artwork on the wall, but I was too busy watching her to think about framing and clicking.

A small room and the wrong lens meant that I couldn't get her and her work-in-its-entirety in the shot, but here is a full shot of her piece:

She was so thrilled.
She got right on the phone and told a few important people about it.

We enjoyed walking around and seeing other peoples' work and talking to folks we knew from here and there. Then we went to get a piece of pizza at our favorite downtown spot.

And I made a discovery.
Sometimes, when a boy thinks you are taking a picture of "only" his sister, he will sit still and not make a funny face. And then, you can shift the focus ever-so-slightly and get an actual picture of a 13-year-old boy.

He is not often caught on camera. It's pretty great when that happens.