Sunday, November 8, 2009

I got yelled at today by the oil change guy. He informed me that when he tested the level of the oil, NOTHING showed up on the stick and didn't I know how detrimental that was to the engine? So sue me.
And David, bless his heart, was able to remove and put in our new toilet today, but got stuck on the silly Ikea cabinet, and now it hangs doorless and shelfless on the bathroom wall with all of our bathroom stuff sitting in piles on the floor.
I suppose that projects seem to look worse and worse right before they are done and amazing. Our old toilet? Gross. It took 4 flushes to get a 'normal' amount of debris down the hole. You'd have thought I was tossing dirty diapers in there expecting them to neatly flush away. I'm talking 2 squares. 4 flushes. Our new toilet doesn't flushes and fills in all of about 8 seconds. It's amazing. I didn't know such technology existed. It feels like such a luxury. And David is considering doing the sink tomorrow as well! Imagine that - hot water? It's been about a year....and our current sink is from about 1940 and has two faucets - one hot and one cold. I hate that. It's been so much less stressful without having to worry about the hot water, actually. In the mornings I feel like I'm living back in the 1800s, when on really cold mornings they had to crack the ice in the basin and splash icy water on their faces to freshen up. It's outrageous.
All this to say, it's great living in a house that is constantly in process.'s not always great. But at least we are kept on our toes. And we experience a tangible daily hope that I don't know I would if I were living in my dream 5 bedroom 3 1/2 bathroom home with a huge backyard and a playroom. I'll trade hope for the mansion someday. But for now I'll stick with our little suburban adventure.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dear God - what has happened?
School has started - we're back to our routine ...
6 30 am mom up coffee lunches work
7 00 am dad in shower Sullivan up breakfast drop off
4 00 pm mom pick-up dinner prep temper tantrum
6 00 pm dinner temper tantrum
7 30 pm bedtime for Sullivan

It's so awesome.(note the sarcasm) The sameness of it all gets a little old, but nice weekends have become so much nicer.
A few friends out there understand the pain of the working mother - the hats, the spreading thin. You have these roles - none of which feel very successful. Nighttimes are managing temper tantrums because your child is tired from a Long day at school. I don't even see him in the mornings - I leave too early, but also if I were around when he was up in the morning and he watched me leave, I don't know....he would go nuts.
It's easy to complain. So let me say that I really do love what I do. For the most part our time with Sullivan has become more precious and more sweet and more intentional. I appreciate it all so much more. And I really do love my job as well - it's really fun. It would just be more fun if I could cart around my two year old. I have a large closet in my room that his pack-and-play would definitely fit in. Naptime!

I actually feel like there's a lot on my heart these days. It's going to be a long year - surgery #3 is coming up - and again, it is so hard to describe what a parent feels. I used to say that suffering was all relative - you know, open heart surgery ... ear infection ... nobody likes to watch their child suffer. But I take that back. It's not relative. I would take almost anything over what he has to go through. Allergies? Bring them on. Bad cough? Yes please. The list goes on.
Listening to people talk about their healthy kids is old....(sorry - it just is).
The list of wishes is so long.
So life is full of fear. At the same time, it's so full of faith too. And waiting. And trusting that this too will shape and teach and open our hearts. I know that Sullivan will be a more understanding, more empathetic, more compassionate man because of his suffering. I hope that I will become a more patient, trusting, and loving woman, wife and mother as a result of all this.
Back when he was born I had a very brief moment of vulnerability which has since been replaced with a permenant lump in my throat. People wonder why I have avoided attending church like the plague and really it's just because it does something to me - it taps into a part of my heart that gives me great fear. I'm not sure that I'll ever feel ready to open that part of myself up, but I'm not sure that it's in my power to control the timing.

Who knows what I'm talking about. I'm watching the Phillies, drinking whiskey (!), and feeling cozy on this chilly October night. It's in there somewhere.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

We celebrated 5 years of marriage this weekend! And what a 5 years they have been....marked by some very distinct chapters thus far.

At a friends' wedding recently, upon hearing their vows - promising to love each other no matter what, we both had a similar reaction..."HA - just you think it's so easy now. Just you wait..." Such cynics after only 5 years.
And now thinking about it, it's really the hard stuff that brings all the beauty and the best parts of being in a relationship. So do you hope for the hard stuff? I don't think so - who doesn't want life to be happy-go-lucky? A white picket fence, no worries about finances, healthy families....that sounds good. But to wish that the hard stuff hadn't happened is really a waste of time. I guess it just is what it is. And we are more of who we are supposed to be because of it. Slightly refined, but with much more to go, I'm sorry to say.

Anyway, summer vacation has begun, and with 65 days left, I'm feeling pretty good. We had an amazing night at a new restaurant in Philly last night and as we drank our white wine and ate our roasted golden beets, foie gras, black sable, mackerel, cobbler, and bread pudding, who could complain about anything? Oh yeah, and the world's two most perfect cocktails. (French 75 and Sazerac...yum)

In about an hour we're off to celebrate a nephew's 3rd birthday with friends and nearly all of our family....things are looking up. Who's up for brunch next week??

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Philly News

So my kids come into school every morning with all kinds of news....
"I watched a movie last night."
"I played with my dog this morning."
"I saw my uncle at the zoo."

And today's news?
"Three kids on my block were killed."

HUH? I had heard about this sad sad news, but I didn't exactly realize that it happened in our area. It happened outside of a few of my kids' homes.

The saddest part, actually, was how normal about it they all were. Like it was no different from the uncle at the zoo or the dog at home.
Having my own son, I can't imagine having to grow up in a place where things like this happen and it's just a part of where you're from.
It's days like this.....
Part of what's hard about being a working mom in this environment is that I spend so much emotional energy on other people's children and feel sometimes like my own child gets my left-overs. Of course, I know that's not true, but reality is that my son is really lucky to have two parents and an extended family who love him, keep him safe and clean and fed, and who would do anything for him. There's a part of me that thinks his little gift right now to the world is his mommy's heart for other kids. Does that make sense? Of course it might take years of therapy to get over his mom ditching him in daycare full-time, but I don't think he doubts our love for him so I'm not too concerned about it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Two Years Old

Two years ago, on a stormy blue-mooned night, little Sullivan Lowing came into the world!
Technically it was two years and one day, because he was born at 6am after the stormy and blue-mooned night. Anyway, point is, he's two today. I hate bragging about my child, so here is a short and abbreviated list of all the things that are awesome about him.
1. He actually has recently started to make me laugh. He makes up weird games about milk and's hilarious.
2. He says, "Hi," to everybody. Literally, everybody. The kid has love for all - doesn't matter their age, race, smelly they are. Sometimes I confess that I steer him away from creepy looking old dudes, but he really does just love people.
3. His days are pretty much just him talking all day. He says all 60some words that he knows over and over and over. A 14 hour recitation of his own personal dictionary.
4. We toast before dinner. He likes to "cheers." So we say something like, "To Sullivan!" and he says, "Cheers," and clinks glasses and then takes a big swig of his milk.
5. Sullivan likes to clean up messes. Sometimes I'll put some mail/trash on the floor on purpose and he runs right over to put it all in the garbage can.

Anyway, that's our two-year old. I have lots of sappy sad things that might make you cry, but I'm keeping those things to myself tonight.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bedtime Musings

So, you know, I've been teaching in Philly for the past school year. Now, I've had significant experience, compared to some, teaching and working with kids in an inner-city setting and there's something that really disturbs me about the SD's 'attitude' or philosophy about what an effective teacher looks like. Literally looks like.
When did we sacrifice competence? Lord knows I've seen plenty of crappy teachers both white and otherwise. I'm not sure when having a 51% minority teacher rate as a goal became a good thing, or an admirable achievement. Wouldn't it be an improvement to find good, passionate, loyal educators who want to learn and do better regardless of what they look like or where they grew up? Look. I get it....I'll be the first to admit that our educational system favors one socioeconomic class over another. That the challenges my kids face at only 5 and 6 years old would be enough to put me in bed for a good 9 months doped up on prozac or something. And these kids come in every's not an easy road, for sure. But to say that a child would learn better from a teacher who physically resembles them? How about just to have a teacher that actually cares about you? How about a teacher who gives you a hug in the morning because there's nobody else who will?? How about a teacher who encourages to do better than is expected? I'm just saying that if the SD spent a little more time and money invested in quality teachers...I don't know. It just seems counter-productive. Give me $500,000.00 a year and I'll come up with some awesome ideas as well. And my kids don't have pencils or any more paper to write on? Puh-lease. Just another cog....
As you see, this is my new soap-box. And here is my solution.
1. Parent education. There are like, two things parents could do to help their kids significantly. Read to them, put them to bed on time. Done.
2. Invest in early education. Basic literacy skills are so important. Unfortunately, the SD doesn't appear to care all that much unless a kid is in a testing year. And trust me from experience, it's easier to teach a kindergartner how to read than it is to teach a 3rd grader.
3. Spend a little time letting teachers know that they are valuable. And no...asking me to make a dish to bring in to a teacher appreciation potluck doesn't suffice. And neither does a lame memo. Treat our time like it's valuable. Give us the training and encouragement to do what we've been hired to do.

That's it. Where's my big old salary and my fancy Mercedes? Let's go, people...enough with the band-aids and the excuses and the scape-goats. Let's actually get something done for a change!

Monday, March 23, 2009

I hate hearing other people 'brag' about their kids and I try to fly under the radar when it comes to my own.
That being said....
S is so cute these days. Coming into such a sweet age. He's come such a long way....those days in the ICU seem far far away. (although they are currently creeping up on us all too quickly again.)
My son loves to read. I always loved to read. Although in the past, oh, decade I've only been in the mood to read books I've already read. His two favorite stories these days are, "Are You My Mother?" and "Green Eggs and Ham."
In the mother book, he loves to point out the bird and the other animals, he makes noises along with the 'Snort,' and there's a certain point in the story when he starts to get really sad....just about when the baby bird has given up hope that his mommy will be found.
And in the 'Ham' book, he love to finish the sentences.
For all that's crazy about him, he absolutely loves his stories. He'll sit for a good 30-40 minutes all snuggled up in the lap, requesting his favorites by title. "Jamberry" is the blueberry book. "Jesus" is the Jesus Loves Me book. "Bus" is the "Jesus Is With Me" song. He laughs and names animals, points to his favorite parts....he even likes to read the stories back to you.
Full-time working mom kind of stinks...although we're flying to California in less than two weeks over my spring-break so there's a perk...but these little moments keep you going for sure. Not even 3 months until summer!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Resolutions

Forget New Year's Resolutions....
1. I will not wear over-sized sweatshirts from my husband's college days.
2. I got rid of all underwear and socks that have holes. Not cute. Who wants to look at big toes poking through an old sock??
3. One night a week, we will feed sullivan early and stick the kid in bed so that we can do our own thing. Wine, candles, and 20 month old don't mix so well.
4. I am thinking about not watching the Bachelor anymore. It's really kind of crappy and is TWO hours long. He hates it...I might compromise on this one. (Although with DVR it turns out to run about 75-90 minutes.
5. Keep letting him do the grocery shopping. This one I'm willing to relinquish happily.
6. Try to make the bed every morning. It's just better for mental health.
7. Make it a goal to get through #3 without talking about said child.
8. I'm considering taking longer showers...sometimes late in the day. We are somehow not paying a water bill, so until that starts coming in the mail I better milk it for all it's worth.
9. Breakfast. I would like to start enjoying it. Again, a lot can be said for mental health.
10. Get more babysitters. Go to the movies more.
This Valentine's Day, I'm sitting with one of my favorite men, while the other helps my Grandma and parents move furniture into her new living quarters.
Oh boy...this life.
It's so hard to not complain...I have to make a painfully conscious effort about every 10 minutes to NOT let something negative escape my lips. That's half the battle, right?
So this morning has been a sweet taste of life before full-time work. French toast, some errands...cuddling under a big warm blanket while Van watches a wild animal video and mom checks all the computer stuff. Maybe someday again.
Happy President's Day!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I was sitting in traffic this evening and was paused in the middle of an intersection, and when I looked at the car facing me (we were next to each other) I saw an old friend waving! We've actually run across paths in many random places in the past few months, in fact, our sons attend the same day-care.
Anyway, it made me remember the trip David and I took to Prague two years ago, now...a few months before the birth of our son. We were standing in line at the Tesco and there was a group of younger girls in front of us, with their pile of (much improved from when we were there) groceries...talking excitedly about the dinner they were planning back in their apartment.

Back in 1999(!) I was living in Prague with the above friend and another of our friends, and I remembered that feeling and how it was a feeling I always wanted to have again. Young, excited... we were three girls bumming around an ancient city the best we knew how. There were a few rough spots, but there was so much laughter and fun ... we took every opportunity to have an adventure (most of which ended up somehow with a long walk through scary woods). Waking up in the dark to see the sunrise over the Charles Bridge, finding our hotel in Paris in the early morning with no nothing. Lots of yummy food. Jumping out of a bus in Germany to load up on Pringles. Waking up in the middle of a blizzard in the Alps, getting ready for a Sound of Music tour. Flashing Scots. Want me to go on?
There's a part of soul...that still remains there. I think I'm ready to find her again.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Here's what I think.
The School District of Philadelphia spends too much time and energy on upper grades. I say, call the next 5-8 years a wash and focus energy on grades K-2. Don't you think that with a more solid foundation, inevitably things might improve? Our school is a perfect example of everything that's wrong with city education.
Test scores are low. (Testing starts in 3rd grade) Every year, the school spends months playing catch up with the older grades. As a kindergarten teacher, I can testify that we are completely ignored. Every once in a while someone will pop in unexpectedly, but for the most part? I could really be doing just about anything I wanted with the kids in my class. Set up a tee-shirt factory, for example, or get the kids knitting booties to sell on Etsy. The possibilities are endless.

I'll be honest. I thought Kindergarten was a joke. I had been doing the test prep catch up game in third grade prior to my current placement, and I can now see the real problem. Without a foundation in literacy, primarily, what hope is there? My principal commented on my last report cards, that I too many students on a level "A" and that I should move them up to a level "B". Huh? I asked, "Shouldn't the grades reflect their actual level? Those kids aren't "B" readers yet." I got no answer. And then realized that thanks to No Child Left Behind, one of Bush's so called legacies, low numbers equal no money. Awesome. And so hundreds of children are shoveled on up regardless of what they actually need.
I, a former disdainer of Kindergarten (and early childhood educators in general, sorry) am now thinking it's time to go get a Master's degree and get something done.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Office and 30 Rock are the only two funny shows on TV.
Top Chef is great, but Project Runway is's hard to feel like you can make an informed decision about who should win when you can't taste the food.
I'm a sucker for the teeny-bopper shows on MTV. The Hills and now The City. I'm a huge fan of Speidy. They are so gross and fascinating. And Whitney is the cutest. Lauren and Audrina can't hold a flame.
We have TV back now and DVR and it's been super fun. Especially since DVR can tape more than one show at a time.
I just read this and thought, "who cares?" and that just about sums it all up.
But I hold true to the first two. They're hilarious.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

So I really love working with kids in the city.
I suppose it started back in high-school when we used to do an after-school program in North Philly.
Anyway, there are many things to love about the job - the kids are hilarious..full of life and love and so hilarious with the crazy things they say and do. Some of them are shocking and a little ahead of their time, but the classroom is Never boring, that's for sure.
Once in a while you get a sobering reminder of how precarious their lives are...why they are grown up beyond their years - just in the types of things they have to live with that no 5 year old should have to.
On Monday I had a student who was picked up Very late...his mom is a little nutso, for sure, but she is definitely prompt at the end of the day. crazy but prompt. Supposedly she showed up to pick him up quite late and quite drunk. She passed out in the school office and proceeded to vomit in the guidance counselor's office. It took all of about 12 hours for him to be taken away from his mother and placed with his aunt. So sad... I guess these are the things that you don't really know what to do with. Picking up your own sweet boy at the end of the day, as does a hot meal and a large glass (or 2) of red wine.

Monday, January 5, 2009

back to work after a thrilling and relaxing vacation with the family.
ahh...the routine. the beautiful routine.
alarm clock, shower, getting dressed....
i've been thinking about trying to get onto deal or no deal.
i've decided that winning money on it is a pretty sure thing.
is that silly?
it beats some of my other get rich quick schemes.
in other news, the van man is growing bigger by the nanosecond.
he had this tremendous growth spurt...not that I'm a big fan of percentiles, but hey...
his vocabulary is pretty funny too...I wish I could record his little voice...
truck, cat, dog, pajamas, banana, what's that?, I touch, juice(for anything in a cup), cheese, crackers, this, upstairs, bye bye, and of course yes and his favorite NO...he imitates about everything...he jogs around the house and climbs onto everything he can ... he has a little stool that he moves around so that he can get up onto chairs and things....
because of delays, he now sees two therapists...a language teacher and his physical therapist. as a parent, I don't like to admit that he's been a little behind, but as an educator, I can appreciate the fact that two days of individualized care at day care is only a good thing.
we finally have the Internet, which is great...but we're watching a movie right now so bye-bye.