The Equation of Happiness

It’s no secret that my life is BIG. Not ‘just got back from Paris’ big, but ‘I fill every cranny of my life with amazing things that I could not stand to NOT be a part of but the sum of which utterly DOES ME IN’ big.

During the summer this is fine. I’m a teacher, and while I do spend an incredible amount of time planning and taking classes and reading during the summer, the most important thing that happens is that I have time to think and process. This cannot happen during the school year for reasons that parents and teachers can understand, so it happens during the summer. When there is time and space and five QUIET minutes. I drive, wearing running shorts and dirty t-shirts, to and from Colby’s various events, and think. I visit my friends, watch hockey games, read a bajillion books, swim every possible afternoon, play in the garden, and it all seems to work.

I can manage during the summer. Wearing Old yoga pants! Running shorts! Anything with an elastic waistband! We eat dinner at 10 p.m. and often that dinner consists of any variation of toast and whatever came in from the garden. Can you sense what’s coming here?

We’re going back to school.

Freshmen orientation is tomorrow and my very own special-flower-man-child-superstar-genius is In. My. Class.

Send prayers and wine.

Some people transition. They plan and pack bento box lunches and iron their work clothes. They have checklists and a plan. I, as you know, do not.

I have been grocery shopping in the garden for WEEKS.

My work clothes will never be pressed.

All of my child’s school supplies are in a warped cardboard box on the porch.

Yet, we ARE ready.

I mean, I just put lasagna in the oven and it is sure to boil over and ruin the oven any minute, but shit, I put LASAGNA in the OVEN. Let’s focus on accomplishments, people.

My syllabi are done, orientations completed, and posters hung. I have shiny classroom floors, an activity for tomorrow, and a really good feeling about where this year will take us. These kids are my PEOPLE. They love the same books and shows as I do and they are interested in EVERYTHING. We never lack a topic for conversation. At the end of every August I leave my own world, but in a way, I am going HOME.

I’ve also picked a fight with my husband about tomatoes and utterly neglected a towering stack of laundry that is now living in my green chair. It is judging me and I am maybe a little vindictive and refuse to cave into its snarky demands. Sheets. If you want to get in the closet than maybe you should slink your cotton ass up the stairs and put yourself away.

I’m busy.

Like the rest of you, I am still that carnival act spinning a million plates. Off my feet, head, hands, that pouch of baby weight that I meant to lose fourteen years ago . . . We’re spinning meals and spouses and soccer practice and new books – pets and car repairs and laundry – meetings and community and the best friends in the world. And while everyone around us says: “I don’t know how you do it!” we KNOW that we could not have it any other way. Each plate balances the other, and the loss of one would throw us irrevocably off kilter.

I explain this to my husband, friend, colleagues, etc. by telling them that all of these areas of my life contribute to my happiness. I like a lot of people and a lot of activities and a whole lotta Netflix; my dogs, good books, and music; taking classes and teaching classes and playing in the garden and reading about livestock.

After 34 years, I think this is just the way it is going to be. Not ‘crazy busy’, but dear God, so lucky.

How blessed we are.

A Week in Pictures

I’m sitting in my car, parked outside the music studio where Colby takes drum lessons.

Mother Nature decided I was tired, so she’s watering my garden for me.

It seemed like a good day to spend a paycheck. At Target, on school supplies. The irony.

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I had allergy testing done earlier this week.

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Now I will know what is like to live in Maine and not eat any seafood.

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Matt and I got our marriage license. I kept thinking they were gonna say no, but it turns out as long as we’re not first cousins we’re all set!

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I have painted my kitchen twice in the past two weeks. *facepalm*

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The sea foam green was good in theory. I like the present khaki MUCH better.

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I got a college ID much different from those I’ve had in the past. I think I look better in this one too.

We’ve been canning and freezing in the middle of all of this wedding planning kid carting new (extra) job ruckus. I think I can I think I can . . .

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Lost and Found II

It took me 15 minutes to find my car in the Target parking lot last week.

Last night I couldn’t find my debit card. I figured it was in my car. I couldn’t find either of my credit cards, I figured I hid them and couldn’t remember the act of hiding them or where I may have placed them.

As I pulled into work this morning, my phone rang. After I found said phone in the depths of my school bag, I answered. It was my bank – telling me that I left my debit card in the ATM yesterday.

I lost an assignment and rubric after photocopying for a student who needed the weekend work early. It showed up on my desk after work.

I found hope in a swath of sunshine during my morning class; patience with a group of students who continually challenge me. On the way to my car, I looked down at a streak of orange on the ground. It was my missing grading pen.

A little bit of lost and found for your Thursday, friends.

p.s. If you find my credit cards, will you let me know?

Report: 1st Annual Cookie Swap

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Pictures courtesy of Eve Wiles, preschool photographer extraordinaire.

 

We were all cookie swap virgins, well, to the best of my knowledge anyway. In an attempt to be organized and festive, we picked a kitchen and set a date to come together, visit, and bake cookies. After multiple hours, lessons in such things as: how to hold the baby, how to cream sugar and butter together, and how to totally gross out an 11-year-old boy with a kitchen full of women and, ahem, women talk; we each had a pile of cookies, dirty clothes, and wine-stained teeth.

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The non-bakers

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I spy with my little eye . . . Eve’s finger!
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Eve and Russell
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A bit weary of cookie making?

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Now these people here – a motley collection of childhood friends. Yes, we know how lucky we are. We really, really do. Nobody could blackmail me like any of these women could.

Festive.
Festive.

 

If you count success by the number of cookies baked and sheer amount of shameful gossip swapped, the day was wildly successful. Merry Christmas, my girls.

Just Call Me Martha: Peace and Productivity

Adventure Time!

Do you get it? The pop-culture kiddie show reference? I just knew you would.
Once upon a time, two young women spent their early adulthood adventuring together. At first, most of their time was spent walking a certain un-named someone in the Baby Jogger until he went to sleep – then they would rolllll him into the house and watch Sex and the City re-runs while he slept. Eventually they went back to school and got real jobs. Wouldn’t you know that they managed to find professions with a summer break. They went camping, to Phish shows. They even drank bottles (bottles I tell you) of wine smack in the middle of snow days.

Life was good.
Then life was crazy. They moved and switched jobs and (one of them… ahem) got married.

Finally, they were exhausted and lonely. They missed each other. So they went on an adventure.

oh yeah

You guessed it. I’m talking about myself. And Angie.

We spent last Tuesday exploring Little Wilson Falls in Elliotsville Township. In an unbelievable stroke of luck, we managed to arrive without incident (barring a near-death experience at an intersection in Monson). The area was familiar because My Dear Friend Angie and I, like most who grew up where we did, grew our hiking legs on Borestone Mountain.

Armed with PB & Js, junk food, and bathing suits: we had arrived.

Deceivingly calm, this pool empties into the falls.

It was a textbook August day in Maine: hot, humid and buggy. The climb up was easy enough, and we chose a trail overlooking the falls. Incidentally, we spent a little too much time talking and a little too little time paying attention to our surroundings. We followed a few different trails on the way down (um, which one did we take?).

M.A.T.C. sign-in box

The trail connects with the AT, and we spied a couple of through hikers. One chuckled as we approached a small climb, and I thought he was laughing at our general naivete and school-girl gigglyness. Nope. I have a feeling it was because he knew his buddy was taking a shit in the woods and we were going to come upon him quickly. Just about the time I was ready to ask Angie if she was having some issues, the poor guy emerged from the woods with a tell-tale bag. Question answered.

Lunchtime view

Let me tell you – this is an amazing little hike. I wouldn’t recommend it for most kiddos because of the sheer size of the falls and the very, very long drops. If I had brought Colby with me I would have been picturing traumatic brain injury, broken legs, and potential landing sites for Life Flight.

Snapping a mental picture to get me through a long, January day.

We, Angie and I,  agreed that it had been far too long since we had been on an adventure of any kind. The thing is, what we do tends not to matter. We’ve been stuck in traffic in Hartford for 9 million hours and the time, well, however we spend it, it has the same effect. I think the recipe is something like no husbands + no children + friends who will stop and let you drive if you think you’re going to puke = actually relaxing.  Not a day at the spa relaxing, but relaxing into yourself and a moment without worrying about someone’s health and safety, or worrying whether or not your traveling partner is enjoying the experience. So in February when I’m going out of my mind, will you all remind me of this? K. Thanks.

looking up
looking down 😉
top of the falls
the intrepid Angie gets far closer to the edge than I am comfortable with!

Now. What do you do at the end of a day like this? Well, if you’re me, you get naked in the parking lot because there are no changing rooms in the Maine woods. Then you go swimming.

I was a cheerleader. So what.
I stayed in long enough to numb my entire body.

It was lovely. We meandered home, stopping in Monson at a craft store and in Guilford in search of iced coffee and Dramamine. Funny enough, I arrived home a kinder and gentler mama. Maybe there is a lesson for me here?

Early Summer Roundup

Camp bedtime routine is obviously superior to that of home.
RHUBARB!
The requisite ruined shoes.
Camp Monopoly
. . . still Monopoly . . .
“Please, Colby. Can we just count up and see who won?!”
Matt takes over the kitchen.
Fresh off the grill – steamy and aromatic and YUM!
Cherry tomatoes, shaved fennel, mussels, white wine, olive oil, salt and crushed pepper. Grill in foil, serve with a good loaf of crusty bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, we’ve been busy trying to relax. I’ve found that a healthy combination of family, fresh air, exercise, good friends and good food is the recipe for a happy me. Funny how I’m not surprised.

July is packed full of camps and trips, so I’m trying to peck away at all of the house jobs I’ve either started or wanted to complete since we moved in (directly before the start of school) last year. I’m taking a class and working a couple of days a week, one from home and one on-site in an attempt to lessen the end-of-August frenzy. Colby is working on a solid teenaged sleeping pattern, and has been quite successful thus far.

Also. I’m reading like CRAZY. I have a couple of reviews in the works for you, but here’s the short list: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman, Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach, A Simple Act of Gratitude by Jon Kralik, The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan. Colby told me that I HAD to read the last two, and not so subtly placed the final book in the series on my nightstand last night.

I hope this rainy morning finds you well. I’m off to clean my house before two of my favorite young ladies show up for the day. If I can banish the dog hair and locate our tub of Thomas the Tank Engine toys all will be right on this end of town.