Friday, May 25, 2012


A shout out to my dear friend and fellow poet, Elizabeth Maurer. She bravely invited me and the kids over for a playdate yesterday with her, her dog Max, and their trampoline. Later, she challenged me to write a poem about it and while I initially demurred, some phrases kept bouncing around in my head, trying to get out. 

So Lizzy, it's rough and yes, messy, but this one's for you.


Being a mother is messy
in ways having nothing to do
with blood, amniotic fluid
snot, urine, vomit
pureed carrots, mashed bananas
mud, grass stains
or crayon on a white wall.

A visit to a childless friend unravels
when three children (mine)
mix with overly friendly dog (hers)
and fancy landscaping (also hers).
The boundaries of whose mother I am blur
when my friend needs me
as much as my son
after he falls off her deck
and scrapes his back and elbows
on the volcanic rocks in her flowerbeds.

How can I explain to her
that next time may still be messy
even if dogs and children
are kept apart?
That being a parent is not just about preventing chaos
by compartmentalizing variables
but accepting it will still be unavoidable
when large minds housed in small bodies
learn the limits of their world
and their wills?

She cannot know
until it happens to her
how a woman’s hands leave the wheel
the instant she conceives
and never return.

I can hope, though
she will open herself, get her hands messy
and find the art of nurture can be learned
only in facing the fear
that what we have to offer 
will never be enough—
that giving up control
before the unthinkable even happens
is what prepares us
to be the calm eye
in the storm.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Here today, flan tomorrow

For the past year and a half, we've been using La Clase Divertida for our Spanish curriculum. Due to state budget cuts, CVA won't be offering it as approved curriculum next year, and I confess I'm a little sad to see our time with Señor and Señora Gamache come to an end. Despite the low-budget video production values, Jimmy and Audrey both look forward to watching each lesson and then doing the activities that go along with it--especially the cooking lessons.

This year we made torrijas (a sort of Spanish "french toast", and a huge hit with everyone), paella (not as much of a hit, so I ate the leftovers for lunch for about a week), and finally, flan. I have to say, the flan was actually the easiest to make, and the video instructions were quite helpful, since the written recipe in the teacher's manual was sketchy at best.

Jimmy and I made the flan yesterday afternoon--cooking while sharing our most flan-tastic puns with each other--then let it sit in the fridge overnight to set up. After lunch today, everyone had a slice and it was wonderfully rich and creamy. Just one more reason to love homeschool.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Keyed up

Jimmy's first recital was Monday evening. He played well, considering how nervous he was. And the choice of music was well-suited to his personality, I think.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Bio lab

Since last year we've been trying to observe protozoa for Jimmy's science classes. Two different orders of grow-it-yourself samples from a homeschool science company yielded no results. Last November I threw in the towel and decided to wait for warmer weather, hoping it would help the little critters to proliferate.

Fast forward to this spring, when I got smart and realized I could get protozoa locally at a convenient pond. After one failed attempt to find some on our own, Jim asked a colleague from the storm water department at work if he could recommend a good place to look. His buddy came through with a great spot to sample pond water, and this afternoon we got an eyeful of amoebae and paramecia. Apparently the key is to look for warmer, still water, rather than anything that is cool and moving. Good to know.