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Showing posts from 2011

A Poem for Friday

My Mother Pieced Quilts Teresa Paloma Acosta they were just meant as covers in winters as weapons against pounding january winds but it was just that every morning I awoke to these october ripened canvases passed my hand across their cloth faces and began to wonder how you pieced all these together these strips of gentle communion cotton and flannel nightgowns wedding organdies dime store velvets how you shaped patterns square and oblong and round positioned balanced then cemented them with your thread a steel needle a thimble how the thread darted in and out galloping along the frayed edges, tucking them in as you did us at night oh how you stretched and turned and re-arranged your michigan spring faded curtain pieces my father's santa fe work shirt the summer denims, the tweed of fall in the evening you sat at your canvas ---our cracked linoleum floor -the drawing board me lounging on your arm and you staking out the plan; whether to put the lilac purple of easter- against

Fall!

Fall is my favorite time of year for so many reasons. The oppressive heat of summer is finally coming to an end, football season is in full swing, and pumpkin-flavored everything abounds. The weather was so wonderful last weekend that we decided to take Atticus out and about to enjoy the beautiful day. And then, of course, was Halloween. I was that mom that waited until the last minute to buy Atticus a costume and every Target, Goodwill, and Spirit Halloween Store was completely picked over, leaving only crappy plastic masks and cartoon character get-ups in the wake of cooler, more unique costumes that responsible (likely stay-at-home) moms with time on their hands already purchased back in September. I thought all was lost, until my friend and coworker lent me his son's dinosaur costume from last year and, well, I'll let the cuteness speak for itself...

Mama is a four-letter word

Growing up in the suburbs, I've always equated the idea of motherhood with SUV's, home-cooked meals, and the dreaded mom jeans (or worse, ill-fitting khaki capris and running shoes. Together). Even though my own mother was extremely fashionable and worked full-time, most of my friends' moms were entirely too involved in their kids' lives and defined themselves purely by their role as mother. As a result, I spent a good part of my twenties swearing that I would never have kids, then relenting and swearing I would never have kids before 30. In my mind, it felt like becoming a mother meant I would be forced to join the ranks of the poorly dressed and uncool. I recognize now how silly and even judgmental that made me, but for a young, twenty-something in Austin, TX (where identity is EVERYTHING), mama was a four-letter word. It meant a house in a master-planned community and the end of my social life. It meant spitup-stained chinos and a DVD player in my car that aired &qu

Damn the Man; Save the Empire [Of Public Schools]

Privatization is ruining education in this country. Forget the notion that uninvolved parents, lazy teachers, and increasing numbers of non-English speaking students are weighing down our public schools; these things might require a little extra work on our part, but we could manage if we weren't spending most of our time helping Pearson make their next $1 billion. The mega-corporation pretty much runs the educational industry and is responsible for 99% of the crap that makes teachers hate their jobs. To mention Pearson in front of a room full of teachers is akin to flashing a photograph of Obama at a Tea Party convention, but in the eyes of those outside education, it's just another business.

Musings on the Sobering Reality of Natural Disaster

Texas is on fire, and I'm not referring to the heat (which has, oddly, been bearable this week). According to my lunchtime perusal through CNN headlines, some part of our state has been burning for 300 days straight, and the Bastrop fires are the most recent and devastating. Since the blaze began on Sunday, 34,000 acres have become engulfed in flames and nearly 600 homes lost. My heart goes out to those who have lost property and pets during these trying times.  Just Saturday Brian and I were talking about going to Bastrop State Park of all places to savor the fall-like weather we've been so desperate to enjoy after Austin's hottest summer on record. We drank our coffee on the patio and enjoyed the breeze, contemplating how we would collect baby and dog for a hike to welcome the new season. But word of the fire spread as quickly as the flames, and we watched in horror as the local media told of new destruction, updating their numbers in 30-minute intervals (and yet I could

Black is the New Black

Back to school. It was much harder this time around than the last, probably because I have an adorable 14-month-old that is no longer the main focus of my day. Instead, I'm now responsible for 165 unruly adolescents who want nothing to do with me, as I'm forcing them to write essays instead of sleep until noon. That said, there was a transaction worth mentioning that pretty much sums up my first week: Student: Miss, you're black on the inside. Me: What? Student: You're black on the inside. Me: Wait, like black as in awesome? Student: If you have to ask, then you get demoted back to white. Damn it; I was so close.

Catering to Cool

All right, hipsters…let me lay one on you. I think you're very cool and that band you like is awesome (wait, what's that? You like a new band? And I've never heard of them? How very original), but I have a bone to pick. Brian and I were given the incredible opportunity to put on clothing and leave the house for somewhere other than work in what most of you take for granted every Friday and Saturday night. Grandma decided it was time for a special night with her special little guy, which meant we were free to go get dinner and then meet friends for drinks afterwards.

Operation Meltdown

Wow. Just, wow. Today was one of those days that further confirms why I will never be a stay-at-home mom. Ever. Granted, it's all the result of a 9-inch square of fabric that is, apparently, irreplaceable. You see, Atticus received a wonderful security blanket upon his arrival into this cruel, cruel world and he's spent the last 12 months growing rather attached to it. He doesn't sleep, eat, ride in the car, poop, or do anything without said blankie. As a result, we've been great at keeping track of the damn thing. We won't leave anywhere without first asking each other, "do we have the blankie?" So imagine my surprise when suddenly, WITHOUT LEAVING THE HOUSE, it disappeared. Really. As in, poof, it's gone. I've never looked so hard for anything in my life . The couch was ripped apart, the living rendered a disaster zone, but still no blankie. The most infuriating thing is that it must. be. here. somewhere. My only theories are as follows:

Raising the next member of the GOP

Brian and I have always joked that the only way Atticus can rebel against us is to become a Republican. We can accept pretty much any lifestyle choice except the one that, ironically, isn't very accepting. It's not that we don't appreciate a little fiscal conservancy or state rights in favor of a smaller federal government. All of that would be great if the GOP actually embraced those mantras instead of spending most of their time limiting gay rights and abandoning education in favor of big business...but I digress. I mention all this because, according to a recent Harvard study, we've just moved one step closer to driving the kid to Young Republican meetings at the State Capitol.

Stuff that Happened

I know, I know. I've been gone awhile. Sorry. Summer vacation leads me to a state-of-being hovering somewhere between doing nothing and everything all at once. For example, Brian and I just got back from Ouray, CO for our friends' wedding, spent a few days lying on the couch upon our return so I could play with Atticus and watch reruns of My So-Called Life, before hopping on a plane yesterday to North Carolina. In other words, when I'm not crossing the country, I prefer to do a whole lot of nothing, and updating the blog does not fit into either category. But since I've waited so long to say anything on here, I guess I'll update you on the past few weeks in pictures. Here's what you've missed:

First New Song of the Summer

Despite chasing the kid around for what feels like weeks (it's technically been a day. really. one day), I still found some time to write music. I cranked this one out during morning nap time, so forgive the abysmal sound quality. Hopefully I'll have a chance to write more as the months go by...you know, assuming Atticus stops spilling sugar all over the floor. Oh crap, time to go.

The Reason for Sunday

Texas, You're Crazy. But I Still Love You

Ah, politics. In a state like Texas, it rarely goes the way I want it to. Take the current legislative session, for example. The GOP has a supermajority, making legislation like the Sonogram and "Loser Pays" Bills as easy to pass as a community college course in Philosophy. It's maddening to watch from my liberal sidelines as women's rights, education, and the environment take a back seat to corporate interests. The three biggest blows to the state are as follows:

5 Reasons to Love Summer (Even in Texas)

Summer is upon us. Ok, so maybe it's more upon me, seeing as how I get three months off to really experience Nature's way of saying, "hey, sorry it was so cold in January. Now you can go swimming and sleep without socks." Of course, summer in Texas is a pretty shitty apology, Nature. It's hot and dry and with the lake levels dropping like they have been, all the remaining swimming holes will likely be waterless by June. Nevertheless, it's still my favorite season and here's why: 1. BOOKS It's the only time of the year when I can really sit down and read a book. Sure, I read throughout the year, but by the time I get home from work and feed the kid and get him in bed, I read all of three pages before falling asleep. Even with a little one to chase around over the summer, he still naps twice a day, which means I get to curl up with a copy of A Visit from the Goon Squad and actually finish it in one week instead of five . 2. ROAD TRIPS No

Dirty Hippie...

...get a job!

I was told my blog needs music...

My school hosted a talent show last week and teachers were asked to perform in between the student acts, a proposal that scared me into silence until another teacher volunteered me  (damn you, Cavazos!). I reluctantly agreed, but spent weeks agonizing over what song to play. I narrowed it down to two and had Brian record me playing both so I could make an educated decision before getting on stage and embarrassing myself with something that sounds like crap. The first is an original that I wrote a few years back, the second is my cover of Patty Griffin's "Top of the World." Because I can't think of any interesting posts to add to the blog this week, this is what you get. Enjoy!  

My Parenting "Mistakes"

When I was pregnant with Atticus, I'll be the first to admit that I broke a few of the rules. I had the occasional glass of wine after the first trimester, I ate deli meat, and drank a cup of coffee each morning (after my morning-sickness-plagued stomach could handle it, of course). As you've probably guessed, I'm not one for paranoia. Not that I wasn't constantly worried about miscarriages, birth defects, and early labor; every first-time mother is. It's just that I felt if any of the aforementioned things were to happen to my precious little bundle, it wouldn't be because I indulged in a glass of champagne on my anniversary. It would be because genetics, bad luck, or other forces beyond my control were to blame. Of course, when I had Atticus, everything changed. I remember coming home from the hospital with my pediatrician's gift of Your Baby's First Year glued to my left hand, while I held my nursing little man with the other. I read it over and ov

the kid's got ojos

Sleepless Babies, Standardized Tests, and other Nonsense

Ugh. Exhaustion. I haven't felt this tired since Little Man was 3 months old and waking up twice each night to eat. Maybe that's because Little Man is, once again, waking up twice each night to eat. I'm assuming it's a growth spurt, as he's due for one, but SERIOUSLY. Brian and I have worked out a great system to catch up on our sleep on the weekends, though, which involves me getting up with the baby on Saturday mornings so he can sleep in, then he allows me to enjoy a few extra hours on Sunday. Of course, Monday morning always comes too soon…

SXSW

Austin's greatest week just wrapped up and I'm relatively certain the city's collective hangover will severely limit productivity at work tomorrow. We were lucky enough to have my mom's mad babysitting skills and really go all in this year for music, parties, and entirely too much free beer. The results were some new discoveries and quite a few revisits from old favorites. While the lineup was not as saturated with the awesomeness of years past, there were more than a few great shows worth mentioning: 1. The Head and The Heart: this alone made my entire SXSW experience worthwhile. Not only is their music delightfully pop-y and soulful (to accomplish both is a feat in itself), but they're not bad looking either. hehe. I can't stop listening to this track: 2. GIVERS: They played after The Head and The Heart, and considering how much I gushed over them above, it was a tough act to follow, but they captured my ears' attention nicely.  3. The Cool Kids:

My Intervention from Things

Brian and I watched the documentary 180° South last night, in which an avid climber and surfer journeys from the California coast to Chilean Patagonia in the hopes of climbing Cerro Corcovado. As is to be expected, the journey becomes more fulfilling than the destination and the underlying theme of conservation becomes apparent early on. This lesson is especially poignant in areas of South America where the government is to blame for environmental catastrophe. In Chile, the Pinochet government of the 1970’s sold the country’s water rights to private industries, who in turn built damns and factories that have since contaminated the rivers and coastline and threatened the way of life for local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. The government argues that these “adjustments” (their words, not mine) to the Chilean landscape are necessary for the sake of progress, but it makes me question what progress is really necessary and what crosses the line into parasitic. Case in point (and a fact

KiteFest 2011

Another beautiful day in Austin, Tx Yummy husband Yummy Strap I don't know this kid, which likely raises all kinds of ethical questions considering I took her picture, but she was damn cute and I couldn't resist.

Reading Makes You Smart: Who Knew?

While I am primarily an English teacher, I do have one section of Reading Intervention, a class intended for struggling readers and those that have not passed the state-mandated standardized test in that area. For the most part, these students are those whose first language is not English, have a learning disability, or face other circumstances that result in academic problems. At the end of class today, one of these students asked me if I read to my son. “Of course!” I said. “That’s what parents do.” The look he gave me was one of both humor and shame, and I immediately realized that his parents rarely, if ever, read him a bedtime story. Then I asked the class the same question and not a single student out of 22 struggling readers opened a book with their parents on a regular or even semi-regular basis. This got me thinking about all my students and any correlation that may exist between parents who read and the students who have the skills to be successful, so I took a poll:

The Great Education Debate: My Two Cents

Teachers are getting a bad rap this week, as if our admittedly powerful unions are responsible for all our country’s problems. I find it odd that teachers’ pensions are an area of concern, yet the regulation of the mortgage and banking industries, which got us in the financial quagmire that has deemed bills like the one in Wisconsin a viable option, remain largely ignored in the debate. I get it, tax dollars pay for my health benefits and retirement plan (as well as my salary), while many Americans are forced to buy into their own 401Ks and pay for health insurance out of their own pockets. I get that. Keep in mind, however, that I pay taxes, too, which essentially means that I’m paying a portion of my own salary and benefits with MY OWN SALARY.

Our remodeling adventure

I’m really proud of Atticus’ room…I mean really, really. Some of you know the complete chaos that existed in our home in the days and weeks before our son arrived. Our house was a crazy maze of bedrooms and not much living space, and in order to get to our master bedroom, we had to walk through what we wanted to be the nursery. As a result (and when I was 5 months pregnant), we embarked on remodeling journey of moderate proportions that ended up becoming epic (did I mention I was pregnant?). The result was incredible and well worth the dust and stress and holy-shit-will-we-finish-this-before-Atticus-arrives? conversations. Our living room got bigger and I got a completely closed-off nursery to nest…here’s the result: The mural I painted to match my owl theme. My older sister surprised me with the gorgeous Dwell Studio sheet shet and I built the room around it (she's also responsible for the crib, which belonged to my 10-year-old niece when she was a baby...she kept it all these

Can Facebook Save the World?

The recent Middle East developments have forced me to ponder the pros and cons of social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the like get a lot of guff from cerebrals who claim that these venues are cheapening communication, and I can’t say I argue with them. Add to that obvious privacy issues and a consumerist culture that was out of control before people were updating their status every few hours with the beer they’re drinking or the clothes they’re coveting this season and we're that much closer to trouble. I know a part of me worries for Atticus, who will grow up lacking the knowledge of what the world was like without his picture posted across the internet (without his explicit permission, no less). As a teacher, I directly see the ill effects of acronyms and a custom of communication that celebrates brevity to a fault; an essay that uses “because” instead of “cuz” is likely to bring me to tears.

A Poem for Friday

Permanently By Kenneth Koch One day the Nouns were clustered in the street. An Adjective walked by, with her dark beauty. The Nouns were struck, moved, changed. The next day a Verb drove up, and created the Sentence. Each Sentence says one thing for example, “Although it was a dark rainy day when the Adjective walked by, I shall remember the pure and sweet expression on her face until The day I Perish from the green, effective earth.” Or, “Will you please close the window, Andrew?” Or, for example, “Thank you, the pink pot of flowers on the window sill has changed Color recently To a light yellow, due to the heat from the boiler factory which exists nearby.” In the springtime the Sentences and the Nouns lay silently on the grass, A lonely Conjunction here and there would call, “And! But!” But the Adjective did not emerge As the Adjective is lost in the sentence, So I am lost in your eyes, ears, nose, and throat You have enchanted me with a single kiss Which can

Baby cheeks

District Layoffs

Assuming you don't live under a rock or spend ALL of your time reading tmz.com, you've likely heard that the state of Texas is facing a pretty significant budget crisis and that education is bearing the brunt of proposed cuts. Forgive me for the following political rant, but Rick Perry is a fucking moron. I mean, seriously. He was just reelected based on a campaign claiming Texas is not facing any serious financial shortfalls, and then three months later turns around and cuts $10 billion from educational spending because Texas is facing a huge budget deficit. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, you've got to admit that's pretty shitty behavior. The Austin Independent School District just announced massive layoffs, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,017 positions, many of which are currently under contract. This hit our campus hard and we're losing 12 teachers next year, 4 in the Math department alone. Naturally, no actual work is being done today because

Cloth Diapering 101

We got a lot of strange looks when we announced our decision to use cloth diapers with Atticus, though they were mainly from our parents, aunts, uncles, and others who remember the days of folding and safety pins. Cloth diapers have come a long way over the years and we've established a system that works really well for our lives. And hell, we feel pretty damn good that we're not contributing more waste to our overcrowded landfills. That said, we don't have a high efficiency washer/dryer, so I'm assuming our energy use is higher than it should be. My hope is that, once you factor in the energy used to make disposables, it's a fair trade (though please let me know if I'm wrong). Here's our system: 1. We use all-in-ones, which function pretty much like a typical disposable. There's an insert that goes inside the cover that we pull out when it's washed, then stuff back in before we put it on baby. We were told by many that these are the only type of

Snow Day

It's not often that we Texans get a glimpse of snow; and when we do, it rarely sticks to the ground. Brian and I both got the day off and we spent it drinking cocoa and watching season 4 of "Lost." All in all, it was a damn good day.

I Won't Call it Art...

...But here's my latest craft. I shredded pages from Farenheit 451 (the irony is not lost on me, but I can't say it holds any significant meaning) and used a flour and water paste to adhere it to canvas. Then I took old fabric and mounted it in a floral pattern with a glue gun. All in all, I found a great new way to decorate the walls of my living room with old shit lying around the house! Hooray for recycling!

Here we go...

Blogs are impossible to start. Seriously. It’s not that I don’t have a lot to say…it’s just that, as I write this post, I have a baby screaming for attention from across the room because our behemoth dog won’t stop trying to steal his cracker. Atticus loves crackers, but it’s pretty much the only solid food he enjoys these days. At 8 months old, he should be gobbling down all manner of sloppy baby food goo, but he’s just not interested. Our pediatrician went so far as to suggest it might be a developmental delay requiring the assistance of a pathologist. I’m not quite ready to consider that yet, as it’s not that he can’t eat solid food, he just won’t. Which sucks because my mom got us this really cool baby food maker for Christmas that’s currently collecting dust and taking up Brian’s precious counterspace in the kitchen. We’re hoping there will come a day when we can whip up a batch of organic applesauce and actually have him eat it instead of what currently takes place, which is