Monthly Archives: November 2009

>On the Eve of Thankfulness

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’m very glad that I have an extra day to prep before we host Thanksgiving on Friday. We are doing it a day late this year because Chris is technically on duty tomorrow and a friend of mine is coming on Friday, so it just made sense to postpone it. Instead, we are going to a friend’s house to eat tomorrow, which means I can make my cheesy potato casserole! I also made some pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans. I already sampled one and it was really tasty.

So this year, here is what I am thankful for:

-Finally owning a house, and a really cool one at that.
-The health of my whole family.
-Enough money to have a great Thanksgiving feast.
-Two meals, both with good friends.
-A sweet dog.
-A great job.
-Being back in New York.
-A new president in the White House, especially since I voted for him.

I could go on and on but basically I’m glad that I have a lot to be thankful for this year.

I hope everyone else had such a kick ass year. I’m almost certain next year will be even better.

>Progress

>A few days ago I was looking at the sidebar on this blog about stuff I hoped to accomplish now and into next year. It’s amazing how I’m ahead of the game with some stuff, and still not fully caught up with others.

Example, we pretty much eat entirely by local food cycles now, with the exception of going out to eat, which isn’t too often. However, a lot of times I give in to my biggest weakness (Target) when I need something quickly.

I actually bought bread today because I’m not feeling well and I didn’t want to make it tonight. That being said, it’s from a great local bakery, and I’ve been making bread every week for several months now. I seriously still can’t believe that, but I’m very proud of it.

Plus we are going to have a fully local Thanksgiving as well.

All I can say is that 2010 is looking good right now. I feel confident going in that we will just continue to learn and grow on our journey with this, and hopefully inspire others along the way.

>5

>I can’t even believe that my kiddo is 5 today. I know it’s very trite to say that “time flies” or “they grow up so fast,” but there certainly is a truth to it. In only about 6 more years he will start to go through puberty and I’ll suddenly be very uncool and he will have weird BO and hairy arms. Only a few years after that he will drive (and I will start taking Xanax) and before I know it he will be at college, or as a traveling roadie for a metal band. The latter being more plausible because college will probably cost a million dollars (literally) by the time that he’s there.

Well, these last 5 years have been crazy, stressful, silly, and most importantly- the best 5 years of my life so far. I’m not sure if having a kid makes you more grown-up or makes you a better person, but it certainly allows you to realize weird traits about yourself that will most likely be at least a partial cause of your child’s therapy sessions when they are an adult.

>On Matters of Learning and Education

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In the past few weeks I’ve read a lot of books about homeschooling and alternative schooling. Part of me wishes that I had the innate gifts of being a homeschooling parent, but presently I do not. However, reading these books (and the ones that are next on my list) has helped a great deal in understanding what kind of a learner I am, and what kind of obstacles Jack will encounter.

We were hesitant to enroll him because of his age, but then decided to anyway. About a month in I decided to check out a pre-K to see if we should switch him. I wasn’t impressed and didn’t think it would help. After that, I felt a lot better about deciding to send him to school. He is friends with his classmates and he likes his teacher. He never really complains about having to go either.

A few weeks ago we had parent/teacher conferences. I’m glad I had started my reading before going, or I may have freaked out a little. Basically, Jack is “behind” in some stuff, but we’ve actually seen many improvements at home. He can recognize words, almost every letter, he can count up to 40, and so on. When “tested” at school he has a tendency to forget or freeze up or just zone out. He’s not really showing them everything that he knows. Normally I would’ve been upset by this or angry with him, but now it doesn’t even bother me.

In school I was always a good student. I did my work, I participated in class, I asked for help if it was needed, and I did well on tests. Except “standardized” tests. I never did horribly, I was usually above average, but my scores on those tests didn’t match up as high as the rest of my academic markers. In high school, I got a 1090 on my SATs and felt like crap about it. I went to a very competitive college prep school so anything less than 1200 meant that you were virtually retarded. In comparison, people I knew at public schools looked at my score like some incredible feat. At the end of the day I got into the college I wanted, regardless of any score. I had the college experience I wanted, in the city I wanted, and that’s really all that matters.

I don’t know if Jack will ever be on the Honor Society, or be in AP classes or do well on government issued tests, but I really don’t care. He has more to offer society than a brain full of unimportant stuff. I have a brain full of unimportant stuff and a college degree from a private, Jesuit university and the “most successful” position I’ve ever held was acquired with help from neither of those things. And now I struggle with not even being 30 and feeling like I have no clue what to do about my “professional life.”

Basically, I like school for what it can offer: friends, fun activities, interaction with others (including adults), and structure. But I take it with a grain of salt. Chris and I are first and foremost Jack’s teachers. I want him to know that he has to respect the adults at his school, but that doesn’t mean he has to agree with them. That he has to take the tests and do the same stuff as everyone else, but that his future won’t be ruined if it takes him a few extra months to read on his own.

I felt a lot of pressure in school and it has stayed with me all of these years. I am going to try my best to not do the same with Jack. After all, the most “successful” person I know in my life is my stepdad. He may not fit traditional definitions of “success” but I find it astonishing that he can build a house with his hands but barely knows how to check email. He’s done just about every job I can think of and he’s done well at all of them. He’s a horrible speller and I’ve never seen him read anything other than a newspaper. I want Jack to do what he loves, even if it’s something “silly” by conventional standards.

>Community

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I’m really glad that I finally feel like part of a community. In college I sort of did, but it wasn’t very diverse since we were all roughly the same age with the same interests and attitudes. Not to say that there weren’t any differences, but we pretty much came together out of a sense of common traits.

Now that we own a house, I feel like I’m part of a community in a true sense. It’s wonderful that one set of neighbors are very much like us, but most of our neighbors aren’t. We get along well with everyone though. I like that our neighbor’s daughter can babysit and that Jack is almost the same age as their younger daughter. I like that I’m very close to work and that many of our customers are regulars. I like that I go into shops and people recognize me as well.

It’s great that I finally have opportunities to help out at Jack’s school and that I know his teacher and principal. I also love being part of the PTA, which is something that still makes me giggle when I think about it.

Growing up in bigger cities, I feel like I really missed out on a lot of this. I don’t regret living in those places, but there is something to be said about feeling comfortable enough to have your neighbors over for dinner, or to borrow a drill or a cup of sugar.

I hope that we always live in a place that feels like this.

>Baking Away

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Currently we have two pies cooling on the counter. I’m incredibly excited to have a piece. The pies are based off of a recipe by Kate McDermott. She lives in Seattle and teaches small classes out of her home, on pie making. The classes cost $125, so I’m willing to bet that this pie will be the best I’ve ever tasted. Did I mention the classes book up all the time?

The crust was used to make a pumpkin pie last week, and it was heaven. I licked a bit of the filling out of the bowl when Chris was done making it and it tasted delightful.

It’s so incredibly hard to be patient. I just want to dive right into those pies! His coworkers are lucky bastards, they will get to eat a whole pie tomorrow. Damn them.

>Great Grandmas are so wise

>When my mom was just here, and we made our pumpkin pie, she taught me what I should do with my extra crusts. This is something she learned from her Grandma, my Great Grandma Russo.

Take your dough scraps, ball them back up, and roll it back out. Get out butter, spread some on, then sprinkle with brown sugar. Roll the whole thing up, and cut into inch wide pieces. Then put them on a baking sheet in the oven with your pie while it’s cooking. It could take 10-15 minutes, depending on the temp that your pie is cooking at. Just keep an eye on them.

Take them out, give them a few minutes to cool, and snack away while your pie is baking! I must say that I love to learn nifty tricks from people who lived ages ago and weren’t as willing to just toss something in the trash because there wasn’t an obvious use for it.