Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring in the land of pleasant living

Okay, I am ashamed to admit this. Especially because I admitted in my first post that the main reason that we moved down here from Baltimore is that we really love living near water.

But during the winter months, I tend to not notice the various bodies of water are there.

That isn't to say that I don't see them at all. I am in no danger of driving into the Eastern Bay or the Kent Narrows due to my lack to notice. I just sort of see them in my peripheral vision and don't really pay that much attention. I mean, most of the time they are covered with ice or some kind of winter scum and aren't all that pretty or noticable anyway. Plus, I rarely if ever cross the Bay Bridge, so I don't have the whole of the Chesapeake smacking me in the face usually.

And then a day like today happens. The first real warm day of spring. There is a little bit of a chill still in there air, but you can feel the potential for warmer temperatures later on. The sun is out, and the light hits the Kent Narrows Bridge just right. There is a slight haze on the bridges that suggests how they might look this summer during the dog days of July and August. I love this time of year. The towns, Grasonville, Chester, and Stevensville, appear to be waking up from a long winter's hibernation, and the water looks like it could actually sustain a life form or two.

As I crossed the Kent Narrows Bridge today on my way back from the Safeway, I could see all the way to the lower half of Kent Island. I was suddenly reminded why I love living here. I love the fact that there is, just feet away from us, an entire ecosystem of life. An entire population of creatures that live in a world we can only imagine, but have no idea of the world above them. Rockfish, crabs, water snakes, and various other types of marine life are swimming among the sea grass, blissfully unaware that just above them we are rushing around trying to get kids to school, pay bills, buy food, and meet the myriad demands of human life on this planet.

I find contemplating their existence to be comforting. So, little fishies, enjoy the arrival of spring! At least until the weather gets a little warmer and I can try to catch you!!!

See you then!

Monday, December 20, 2010

If you could do it again. . .

You ever wonder what you would do if you could live your life all over again, knowing what you know now?? If you had complete knowledge of how life works and unlimited resources with which to achieve your goals? Would you be something completely different, or would you choose the same life path?

Now don't get me wrong. I am pretty satisfied with my life right at this exact moment in time. There are things I want still, but on the whole I am pretty cool with my life. I adore substitute teaching. I love the fact that it is teaching in it's purest form without the worry and hassle of grading papers and dealing with parents and the long list of stresses that regular classroom teachers deal with each day. I am especially proud of the fact that teachers will call me on their cell phones and chase me down the hallway asking if I am available. I have worked hard to cultivate a reputation as someone who can just be thrown into a classroom cold, handed a curriculum book, and handle any class with professionalism and grace. (wow, way to toot my own horn there. lol That came out surprisingly vain for a sec there, sorry) VERY long story short: I feel like I was really meant to do this all along. And I especially love being in a new classroom every day, having new adventures with new children I may have not met before.

But what if I was able to be someone different. Maybe just for a little while. If you had asked me this question last year, my answer would have been this: I would become a meteorologist. Maybe on The Weather Channel. This is in no small part due to my raging love for both Jim Cantore and the entire Weather Channel itself. (Don't believe me. This: and this: might convince you. Both written with love by me!)

But today I have a very different idea of what I would do. This idea was perhaps born from being trapped in the house since September without a car of my own, or maybe from currently reading "Eat, Pray, Love" or I suppose from multiple viewings of "Mamma Mia", but I think in my alternate life I would like to be a travel writer. I would travel the world having adventures and then writing about them. Given that the temperature outside hasn't risen above 40 degree in almost a month, I would probably start by traveling to somewhere warm, and then go from there. Doesn't that sound like a very exciting life to lead? Travelling to distant and exotic places, meeting new and different people, and then being paid to write about it? I suspect I would probably take to such a lifestyle very nicely if my reasons for loving substitute teaching are any indication. I appear to have a itch for adventure, no matter how small.

For the past two years, my in-laws have taken us on vacation in leu of Christmas gifts. We have been on a caribbean cruise and traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula. Both times I had a marvelous time soaking in the local atmosphere, speaking in my pathetic Spanish to natives, and revelling in the opportunity to experience life through a different set of parameters. I would love to travel beyond the Western Hemisphere and perhaps visit Wales, France, Spain, Greece, and India. (I am sooo loving this book: Eat, Pray, Love. Totally read it if you ever get the chance.) If I could visit all of these places, and get paid to do it, it seems like the perfect deal. The best of all possible situations to live in.

But as I think about it, I am not sure such a lifestyle, as exciting as it may be, would be conducive to raising two little children. And I love having my children. So maybe, despite my yearning for foreign adventure, I am living exactly the life I am supposed to be. Maybe I will get a chance to visit all the places I want to in my life, I think the slow, plodding path to them is my path after all. That way, I get to take my adorable babies with me.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Handmade Christmas: special or not?

I know, I know, I have been seriously neglecting my blog. I started substitute teaching this year, and I am being called day and night for work. I am purposely taking the rest of this week off to recover from Strep, so I finally have the time and energy to even think thoughts to put down, much less actually type them into some kind of coherant, readable format.

The subject on everyone's mind right now on the Delmarva is the weather. It is freakin' cold. As fascinating as that subject is right now, today I am going to push it off until tomorrow and tackle another topic weighing on my mind today: Christmas. Specifically handmade christmas presents.

If you have met me in person, then this subject shouldn't surprise you at all. In fact, your first thought probably is, "OH God, she is going to wax rhapsodic about the gosh darn craft studio again. Jeez, get a new topic!" Well, if that is your Christmas wish this year, consider me Santa Claus, because I actually want to talk about the practicality of handmade christmas gifts.

I just finished making a fabulous (I think) mosaiced Christmas present for my mother in law, and I am starting a (hopefully) beautiful garden stone for a very special person and family who has helped us a lot this year. As I was busy planning exactly what this stone would look like, my mom texted me to suggest that I make mosaiced Christmas trivets for everyone this year. (just in case you aren't familiar with the word, trivets are those ceramic tile thingies that you put hot dishes on) I also have some jewelry planned for a couple of people too.

I guess my question is: How do you feel about handmade Christmas gifts? Would you be happy to recieve one? Do you think the people in your life would be happy to recieve one? I sometimes never know. I would like to think that they convey thought and a desire to make someone happy by giving a piece of yourself, but I wonder sometimes if they have the capacity to seem cheap. Living in an area where everyone seems to shop at either Kmart or Michael Kors, (and believe me, there is nowhere in between the two in this area) I wonder how it comes across sometimes. Everyone loves getting handmade gifts from children, but what about other adults? What are your thoughts?

And just because I can't resist, if you want to handmake anything this season, please consider doing it at the Wye River Craft Studio in Grasonville, MD. There, I'm done. I'll shut up now.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Explain this show to me please. . .

Okay, will someone please explain "Army Wives" to me??

Not the actual concept, that I get. I live and work with enough of Army/Navy/Air Force wives here already and I get why the show is incredibly popular in this area. You literally cannot chuck a rock in this area without hitting some employee of "the fort".

What I don't get is the show itself. Maybe I need to watch more episodes to fully understand it. Maybe I will never get this show because I am not a military employee or spouse. My best friend, who is a former army wife, introduced me to this show off of her tivo a couple of weeks ago. I got to watch two episodes with her, including the incredibly dramatic season finale, (You know, the one where the presumed dead army something or other make a surprise appearance at his daughter's high school graduation), and it has been bothering me ever since. Not constantly, like I lie awake in bed pondering this, but every once in a while when I have nothing else to do I think about it.

And what I think about it how I just didn't get it. From what I saw, most scenes in this show seem to consist of different characters crying while Catherine Bell looks on with that incredibly selfless understanding look on her face.

Now I have cried in front of my kids and husband at different points in my life, but I think only once have I cried in front of a friend (and you know who you are, it was at at the playground and your house if that give you a clue). And if any of my friends ever shot me that look that C-Bell ever exhibited, I would probably smack them across the face to snap them out of it. I know it is supposed to be a look of caring and concern, but to me it just looks condescending and a tad bit self righteous.

But maybe that is just me. If you are a fan of this show and get a great deal of enjoyment out of it, could you please explain it to me? I want to hear your opinion.

And for the record, do you know why there isn't a show about the "other employees of the fort"? Because it would just be a bunch of women complaining about how their husbands are never home. And who the heck wants to watch that?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Random Thoughts about Math

I had a very odd thought today. It was a totally off the wall thought that I want to share here in case someone out there knows what the heck I am talking about. This odd thought concerned math. You know, Math. The school subject that a lot of us absolutely hated and couldn't wait to be rid of. (except we know now as adults that we are never actually rid of it, it follows us forever)

In an effort to get my mind off of all of the stress in my life, I sat down this morning to read the new Elin Hilderbrand novel, "The Island". In the book, there is a small part where one character was talking about how her son was at one point failing Trigonometry. She sent her husband to deal with the child's teacher at the parent/teacher conference, and he dealt with it by having a year long affair with said teacher. In recounting the story, she remarked that the worst part was that her son never actually learned any math that year. The teacher was passing him solely based on the affair with his father.

Now, as a former educator, there is so much I could say about that whole situation. SO MUCH. I could really go to town on this subject, but I'm not going to today. My mind went a totally different direction on this subject. I started thinking about higher math in general. Now, I never took Trig or Calculus. I just barely passed Algebra and I believe I passed Statistics, but I can't be absolutely sure. I liked to tell people that I just couldn't do it because it was too hard, and I just wasn't a math person. And this may well have been a little true. I was always artistic and very right brained, but mostly I realize now I just didn't want to concentrate and do the work required for these subjects. There were just too many things I would rather have been doing. There were dances to go to, boys to meet, the mall to hang out it, my ballet recitals to practice for, and art to create. There didn't seem to be a single moment allotted in my day to devote to learning higher math concepts.

Well, good Lord! Here was my thought for today: If I knew then what I know, I would probably be a math whiz. A mathmetician probably. With all the obligations in my life now as an adult and a parent, I would love it, LOVE IT, if someone told me that all I really needed to do for the next hour was sit down and learn math. Not referee fights between my children, worry about what to cook for dinner, or whether the bills are paid, just sit down and learn math. I almost think I would possibly find it relaxing.

But I guess that is the story of all our lives. If only we knew then what we know now. Oh, the things I would do if only I had that information back then.

What do you think you would do/be now if you knew then all that you know now???

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Oh My God!!! Save me from myself!!

I am so in trouble right now.

Two weekends ago the kids and I spent the afternoon at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael's MD for the Chesapeake Bay Folk Festival. We heard great music, saw terrific vendors, ate great food (crabcakes to die for!!!!) and met a fabulous local author. Her name was Rena Cherry Brown and she has written a riveting children's book called "Where do I Belong?" She was nice enough to read her book to my kids and I took beautiful pictures of the moment.

I had planned on writing all about our experiences when I got home. But then I got busy visiting other local events, and figured I would file all of these stories away until I could sit down and really do them literary justice.

And that would finally be today, except something happened between then and now to totally destroy my concentration. To give you a reference point, it has taken me about 45 minutes just to type the previous two paragraphs. (sad, I know)

Are you familiar with the Chesapeake Bay mosquito? I have found that there are two types of mosquitoes here on the coast. The first type lives here all year round. They are annoying, but not completely debilitating. They bite you, you itch a little bit, and in a day or so you are fine. The species that I came in contact with at my mother-in-law's house two days ago is a much more vindictive, evil variety of pest. They are very small and jet black. I don't know if they affect everyone like they do myself, but when they bite me, I can actually feel poison shooting into my body. Two days later, I am now scratching my appendages with hairbrushes. I am unable to concentrate on anything for very long other than the maddening itches that don't seem to find any relief. Calamine Lotion, doesn't do a thing for me. Benadryl, forget about it. I have even tried holistic remedies that do nothing but keep me busy during the application process, then let me down completely afterwards as I proceed to scratch them off.

So, with apologies to Ms. Cherry Brown, I must end this post today so I can wallow in my agony. I promise to truly write a post that will do her beautiful book justice as soon as I recover the use of my brain cells. Until then, please check out her website at and check out her book "Where do I belong?" You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Chesapeake Summer Storm Story

So, our story begins today with me deciding to take my very good friend Emily up on her offer to watch her kids for her. I desperately need a job, and she desperately needed someone she can trust to take care of her 4 year old, Jack, and 7 week old, baby Thomas. It seemed very fortunate for me that she would offer this as I just could really use some pocket money right about now.

She and her husband dropped off their children to my house at about 3:15. Her older son, Jack is right around my son's age, so I figured that they would play together nicely. My 6 year old loves babies, so I figured she could help me take care of baby Thomas.

Well, if only wishing made it so. Turns out that my daughter is playing with the older son, and my 3 year old is trying to take care of the baby with me. The first situation is working out very nicely. The two kids are keeping each other occupied and having a great time. The second situation is less than ideal. My 3 year old was bouncing on the sofa while I was trying to feed Thomas his bottle, and it was just not a pretty situation.

My solution to the problem was to take Thomas up to the master bedroom to feed him and relegate the rest of the kids to the basement to play.

I wish my story could end there, but I would be leaving out the massive biblical thunderstorm that hit next. Not a metaphorical thunderstorm (sh*tstorm?) but an actual thunderstorm with incredibly fast winds, continuous cloud to ground lightning, and torrential rains. I could hear it coming before it hit, but I never believed that it could have been as bad as it was.

The clouds were pitch black, and a second or two later the rains started. These were no gentle summer rains, but a waterfall of rain that dumped about an inch of water on the ground in roughly 10 minutes. As the rain started, I next heard the siren from the firehouse go off. A quick look out the window showed gale force winds whipping my outdoor toys and patio furniture around like the unfortunate cow in the movie "Twister". Oh shoot! My first time watching my friend's infant son, and we get hit by a tornado!!! Convinced that an actual twister was descending down upon us, I picked us baby Thomas and hightailed it down two flights of steps to join the rest of the children in the basement.

Some important information you need to know at this point is this: I am deathly afraid of thunderstorms. I am terrified of high winds, having had my parent's house hit by a large oak tree while on spring break from college. I am absolutely petrified of lightning. My biggest fear is not that it will kill me, but that it will hit me and NOT kill me. So, my biggest challenge at this point was to take care of the baby, my friend's 4 year old,and my own two children without letting on how much I was freaking out. I put the baby in the pack-n-play in the office, since it was the only room without windows, and sat down on the basement couch to watch Scooby-Doo with the rest of the kids. It was really hard, some of the flashes of lightning were REALLY close, but I think I held it together okay.

Long story short: we were fine. There was no twister, at least not that I can see. The rain stopped about 20 minutes later and eventually the sun came out. The children were fine, and their mother came back to pick them up around dinner time. There was a little flooding in the basement, but I was able to clean it up with a bath towel. I went out back and collected my things that had blown around the yard, enjoying the now cooler temperatures and lower humidity.

How do you deal with storms? Do your children deal with storms well, or are they afraid? Don't forget to stop by my online community (located just to the right of here) and weigh in on this issue.