Tuesday, December 22, 2009


5 years now of leaving what I'm making my 'home' for where my family is - which will always be home because it's where they are.

this is a hard thing to figure out. I love being here - it's cozy, they're here...but I'm not "back home" I'm visiting...right?

What part of me is still here? Some of my belongings - though not a lot, mostly ornaments, books, and my empty dresser - my heart - for sure - but am I supposed to come back and melt back in or be different? It's a hard line to figure out. I'm grateful I am independent and confident enough to be ok with calling my apartment home...many go right back to being a 'kid' again when they live with their parents, not sure that's the way to go. Still hard to figure though...

Home for the Holidays.

Monday, November 30, 2009

amazing grace

I ache - my heart aches - I go for hours unthinking and then WHAM it's like bricks and this huge gaping whole left by such a small girl. Her beaming smile, giggles, backwards hugs, Hello Kitty socks, six pack, gymnist body, adorable accent (from where - not sure!), and obsession with Matt & the "Disney Game." The anticipation waiting for her to arrive - counting the months, weeks, days - meeting her, unable to hold her long enough to cuddle (always on the go). Sunday - asking her to hug me before she left - making her turn back to where I was standing and scooping her up in a bear hug - a kiss on the cheek, "I love you and I'll see you soon k?"

Amazing Grace.

  • a state of sanctification by God; the state of one who is under such divine influence;
  • elegance and beauty of movement or expression;
  • seemliness: a sense of propriety and consideration for others;
  • a disposition to kindness and compassion;
  • decorate: make more attractive by adding ornament, colour, etc.;
  • a short prayer of thanks before a meal
  • deck: be beautiful to look at;
  • the free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God;
  • a beautiful girl brought into and deeply a part of our family - now a real princess with her King but taken so soon

{amazing grace}

Friday, October 09, 2009

expectations of change

Haven't seen much since 1/20/09 - the day a lot of people counted down to...myself included. And now the man has received the Nobel Peace Prize. I suppose it has lost its value somewhat seeing as they nominated him only 10 days after he was elected. Simply because he is the first African American President? Or because he got more people to vote? He could continue to not get anything done and be satisfied because he has now received Man of the Year and the Nobel Peace Prize for doing absolutely nothing but existing and running for office. I respect him - I voted for him - but the Nobel Peace Prize should be reserved for fantastic work.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I have to believe change happens and is possible. I have to believe 1 person making small changes everyday affects at least 1 person who then affects at least 1 person...and that ripples make waves. I have to believe culture changes - that we can learn from mistakes, tragedies, and successes. I have to believe that 300 people standing up for a cause or change can in turn affect 300 more and suddenly we looking at over a thousand people impacted by what started as a small organization of leaders. I have to believe in the change that occurs in 21 individuals who learn with me for a year. I have to believe I can make a difference.


Because if change isn't possible and I can't affect change - why wake up? Why get out of bed other than to benefit myself (and honestly I would rather be in bed!) and to eat and drink coffee? Why hold doors, say bless you, let someone merge in front of you, hold a child's hand, offer support in class, walk someone home, intervene in a conversation? Why NOT? I have to believe in change because every morning I wake up and go to a classroom full of 21 first graders who do not know the world around them and if change isn't possible then it would be my job to prepare them for a cruel, dangerous, violent, and suffering world. But that's not my job and who can look in the huge brown eyes of a little girl and tell her that she couldn't be president because she's a black female? Or judge the peanut of a boy by decided he will be one of those who assaults 1 in 4 women when he grows up? You cannot spend everyday with children and ignore the possibility of change. We need change - for them - with them - through them - and I'm in exactly the place where change has to start.

I can 'be different' on campus - I can say different things - do different things - get involved - look different because I like change but that won't keep first graders from growing up and perpetuating whatever system they experience at home and in school. The change starts small - with small people...small, bright, optimistic, untainted people who believe in change.

So yes, I believe in change and I make change and it matters.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

2 weeks of loneliness, overwhelming amounts of work, lack of purpose at internship and in general...I'm tired, worn out by treading water and trying to stay afloat.

Realized that perhaps what I needed was connection.

Hug someone, hear someone, talk to someone - about more than class, the weather, and sports - heart pouring and sharing, mending, and breaking but a togetherness that is casual, critical, and glorifying, uplifting, refreshing, and joy-restoring.

A connection makes a circuit whole - the electricity can move and I can do this, I can swim I can float I can make purpose, find purpose, and be purposeful because I am not alone.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

blank notebooks. crisp college-ruled pages, new pens - the smell of old classrooms at UConn.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Saw Julie& Julia - at the risk of being cliche, it was inspiring, I get intense joy & satisfaction out of cooking. I will not blog it but I will try at least 1 new recipe a week (NOT Julia Child's - Joy of Cooking or Rachel Ray) until I finish school...when I join the "real world" I will do it more often.

There I said it. Now I have to do it.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

lock box on the door

There's a lock box on my grandparent's front porch. It holds the key to their home ... to my 2nd home ... to the heart of our family. This home is all I know - all my mom knows, all my uncle knows.

I walked out as they walked in - tried to smile and appear unstartled by their intrusion.
Should I let go and spill it?
Do they have any idea what it feels like to suddenly see them gaping at every nook and cranny in the house, analyzing the costs and benefits?
Oh you should know:
the stairs creak there's no way around it
the sun shines in the room at the top of the stairs and wakes you up early.
the birds love the feeder by the kitchen and when it's empty they climb on the screen.
the backyard fills with bees in the summer - I remember being stung there
there used to be a hammock between the two trees out back
the round garden used to be a pool - swam there night and day, sometimes washed my hair and when I was little I skinny dipped.
The tree to the right by the road is great for climbing
the guest house smells like pool chemicals and bird seed, I love it.
the basketball hoop is old but it is special
the front yard is the perfect size for massive family wiffle ball games
the front room is a great place to nap
the fireplace is the coziest place in the house
the recliner is essential to the memories here
family pictures work best on the back stair
you'll need a swing out front, they're taking that one with them
the attic is scary
the basement door has an old lock but it makes a great noise and those stairs creak too
keep the spare key on the front porch
the pantry is a great place to hide
always hang christmas ornaments from the beam
the weeping cherry out front is special - don't cut it down
the gravel on the driveway lets you know that someone is home
flash the front lights when someone leaves - it lets them know you love them and miss them already

they won't know...they can't know - this isn't their home, it's Gaga&Papa's.
I'm not ready for change.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Impatient Musings

Clearly I have more time to write when I'm home ....

So lately (well ok it's not lately it's been awhile now) everyone's engagement photos, weddings, etc and unfortunately it's not helping my patience at all.
So here's a word vomit musing from the mouth of an impatient girl.

Right Now....I have 1 degree, I can be home for a month, away for a week, and back to the east to work, I can take off and travel, I can be lazy all day if I choose, I can indulge myself with an episode of Grey's or The Office, I can take random photos for fun, I can waste time writing in a blog, I can read books in the sun, I can shop, I can buy concert tickets for weeknight concerts in Massachusetts or Hartford and know that I'll figure out a way to get there, I can call home everyday - sometimes more -, I am not entirely self-sufficient and that's OK for now, I can cook when I want - or not when I don't, I can ask for help to get somewhere or stay somewhere and it's ok, I can stay up till 3 just having fun or go to bed at 10 and not worry about getting things done, I can spontaneously go on a day trip, I can tag along on other people's vacations, I can stalk other people's weddings in secret (ha), I can be paid for taking care of children, I can dive into a school and become very involved without concern for other aspects of my life.... the list goes on.

Patience (pā-shəns) is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.

That means I can wait even though sometimes it aches and sometimes it seems like forever because Someday....I will have my own engagement photos, wedding and reception plus honeymoon, Someday I will keep a house clean, cook all the time, get up early for work every morning, pay all kinds of bills, garden, have a dog, and have kids. Someday I will have to plan when I go on vacation or a day trip. Someday isn't that far away so for this moment - today - tomorrow- this week even this year it's my job to enjoy and not wish away. Moments to savor and use up to the very last drop of energy and memory, thoughts and feelings to spill onto blank pages and capture with frames and laughs....not time to count down to or spend hours daydreaming beyond. I have right now and I have someday.....but I have to live and enjoy right now before I get to someday - right?!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Plane Writing....

I spent time reflecting on Student Teaching on the plane yesterday, looking over notes I wrote as I observed in the classroom and reflecting on what that looked like when I took over - this is only an excerpt and it's mostly an effort to have things in more than one place to remind me later. I also set out to list what stands out about each child...

Thoughts Now: I realize how many of those management methods I used and found effective. The most impressive is Mrs. Delaney’s use of “The Angry Teacher” – an almost alter persona that she can take on or off and allows her to use a firm voice and then let it go and give the students a second chance Although I never borrowed that technique while she was in the room, I did use “You are making me use my angry voice and Miss Stowe does not like to be angry, can you fix it so we can go back to learning?”

First Day as a “Student Teacher”
7:45 felt early, empty&weird, the classroom feels familiar which I am grateful for. Concerns: having to be the same, not being able to try new things, not having behavior under control, people watching me teach – people I don’t know . Hope: to love it, to show that I love it, to try new things, to instill a love for reading, to get involved and do new things with faculty, to meet other staff members

2/3& 2/4 I did story and lines to get a handle on management and take over small pieces at a time – I remember feeling inadequate and unprepared to have the class alone in the hall and worrying that they wouldn’t make me ‘look’ like a teacher. Kids can’t make me look like a teacher, I am a teacher and I want them to be and look like students!

That’s where my regular reflections end – everything else is in my binder….quick notes here and there, some days full reflection.

The kids? They’ve stolen my heart and will always hold a first grip on my heart. Especially Jaquan, Jaime, Johannes….the list goes on.
Marcus’ toothless smile and dirty shirts,
Diamond’s reluctant and obstinate behavior, but ear to ear grin
Nyzaiah’s awkward gait and teddy bear heart, bright blue eyes
Jeremiah’s sparkle and big broad shoulders, I so want him to stop being lazy
Emily’s need to be helpful, her love for her parents serving in Iraq, her concern for her friends but anger towards her brother and grandmother
Jaime’s need to fidget and hum and choose what he does but fantastic creativity and spontaneous hugs for me – the way I love him when everyone else gets frustrated by him
Kiara’s constant touching and itching but crave for love, her scabs, peeling lips, and sores
Maheshwar’s little accent and old man ways, love for learning and his friendship with Sheik
Joshua’s need to be affirmed and the time he asked if I was done talking,
Adrian’s dad every morning and how they said goodbye,
Abel’s brilliant attention and obsession with UConn,
Myrka’s little Latina attitude but sensitive side,
Melvin F’s cheeks and electric smile ( he gets it from mom) and how upset he would get during reading tests but he got more confident!
Sheik’s daydreaming and constant reminders for Sanitizer – how much he was like Ian
Asia’s love for her sisters and mom, sense of fashion and always needing me to unbutton her pants at the bathroom because she had a belly
Amanda’s initial shyness and inattention but eventual trust and love and how wonderful her parents were
Jaquan’s handsome face in the morning with a tie and sweater, breath-taking hugs, need to make me happy but inevitable inability to control his body
Melvin S’s need for space, brilliance, love for Mrs. Delaney and unbelievable attention to everyone else following the rules
Yeshera’s spontaneous need to hop off the carpet, love for books, little glasses, change in behavior after medicine for ADHD, great listening, and ‘strategy pillow’
Tylehjah’s heart-breaking shyness and fear of adults, sensitivity, inability to focus or answer questions, love for Hanna Montana
Xaymara’s sudden independence and love for the ‘light’ of learning, ability to read and work alone, and sensitivity regarding earning points and getting to the treasure box

From Reading:
Johanne’s backwards grammar and sweet face and daily “good morning Miss Stowe”
John’s backwards thinking but great answers and steady growth

.........to be continued

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

1st Grade Woes and Woos

I teach first grade now. I am 'Miss' to 21 latino, Indian, and African American students at an inner city school that is failing to meet AYP (Look it up) and just laid off its librarian, para (special ed assistant), 2 special ed teachers, and a health teacher because of budget cuts. Don't get me started - I'll save a rant on the education system for another day. But right now it's beautiful, my window is cracked about 6 inches and I can hear birds, feel the crisp Marin breeze, and see Mount Baldy, usually brown but now a crisp Irish green. I'm on break and my first graders are home - doing whatever it is first graders do when they don't go to school, most likely watching TV and playing video games, a few will go outside but most won't.

On the plane I opened my writing notebook - hadn't since January and felt it was time to pour some thoughts onto paper. On January 20th I wrote "I wonder what consumes the minds of first graders" and on 3/21 I wrote

I'm beginning to know what consumes the minds of first graders: what everyone else is doing, toys, recess, a good story, and change - they are obsessed with change. Also cutting in line.

On a plane home - realized I too am obsessed with change, I hear everythng the engines do and I flinch with every turbulent bump. Uconn Hoodie gives me sense of pride. Been eager to leave school all week - but ached today - it was a typical UConn weekend, people playing and walking.

Ate Brunch at North - a very familiar feeling that is about to change. Guess I'm similar to my 1st graders. hmm.

The more I think about it the more I realize I really am obsessed with change - stuck sometimes on wanting to have change, dreading it, hoping for it, paying for it, scared of it and hating it. Granted change for me isn't a change in what time we have music or whether we are reading a book or a poem or writing or doing math but rather, getting ready to graduate, getting a hair cut, thinking about the future, think about my friends' futures (!), flying back and forth, what to do with my summer, what I should wear today - and tomorrow. Change is growing up, change is being patient....

better ask my first graders about that

Friday, January 16, 2009

Things I would write on a post-it to describe my current state of being:

Need healthy, well cooked meals.

Am ready for friends to be here.

Should go to the movies.

Should get another job-running out of money.

Am I passionate about enough things?

I need to do more.

Want to dance?

Need to read - in front of a fire.

I like coffee. Alot.

I do not like the cold.

I think I need earmuffs.

Snow is beautiful and peaceful but when it freezes over it is angry and hurtful.

A lot of stretching, discussing, pushing issues, and disagreeing or agreeing is exhausting.

I need a nap.

I love blank paper.

I love crossword puzzles.

Grocery shopping makes me happy.

Garlic makes life more fragrant.

Music makes or breaks car time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Airport again! Waiting for Connecticut flights I always look for people I know – some sense of pride that we are all going to the same small state and the likelihood of seeing someone familiar is pretty decent. Business people, students, and young professionals – sitting & waiting for a flight that’s delayed 30 minutes. Funny we all sort of treat delays differently. I saw it as the opportunity to buy a decongestant in hopes of not being in pain and as time to get food rather than fill myself on biscoff cookies and peanuts. Others are complaining and the rest just sitting – looking somewhat irritated. This airport is not nearly as exciting as JFK, smaller with only 2 terminals and in a strange location – the Ohio and Kentucky line. People are not in a rush but leisurely strolling with bags and jackets, standing around, on the phone, and eating food. We’re south – sort of – so I got Chick-Filet, a favorite of mine. There’s snow outside, have to admit it dampened my confidence upon landing but I was more concerned with my ears and the fact that I thought my eardrum might explode on the plane.
Sat next to a young guy from the Bay Area who is a ‘photographer’ and filmmaker and editor – headed to a secluded cabin in Toronto to edit a film. He photographs bikers and he still uses 35mm film! Nice guy, made me realize how easy it is to engage in conversation with perfect strangers when there is only a small seat between you and a 3 ½ hour flight ahead.

Well interrupted from writing and from my trip back – maintenance issues on our plane made us all get off and walk several gates to wait to board a new one. Yikes. Increasingly aware that traveling takes us all out of our comfort zone, I sit with my fiddle, my backpack, my knitting (YES! Knitting!) and now my laptop. Most people are watching the news – official announcements of the vote count for Obama (didn’t realize that was still a question) among arguments from Palin that she tried to get out of the Couric interview and suggestions from Marvel that Obama star in a Spider Man comic book. Everyone is on a phone or looking tired, suddenly the airport is quiet and closed – in the short period of time it took for us to get on and off a plane all the stores and restaurants shut down. Strangers engage in conversation and people take advantage of the ability to stand or walk. Not sure how I would have felt about flying on that plane even if they had fixed the flap stuck up…a new one is better (I suppose) but the hour and 29 minute flight seems too long when all I want is to be done with airports, boarding zones and popping ears.


Thursday, January 08, 2009


Is it bad that the only part of leaving tomorrow that I am excited about is that I get to people watch on the plane and in the airport?

It's impossible to put words around the feeling of leaving home for a long period of time - Thanksgiving was easy, I knew I was coming right back but now with spring and summer up in the air and the possibility of my family moving, there is an unknown distance between now and when I next am home - or at least with my family. It is a strange tearing feeling, a suddenly very alone and very forced to rely on my own independence, surrounded by people who may think they understand who I am but can never truly know me in the way my immediate family does - who else saw me lose all my teeth, have chicken pox, get on the bus the first time, cry when my cat ran away, carry kittens around like dolls, take forever to ride a two-wheeler, wear braces (yes even head gear), have to get picked up from sleepovers in the middle of the night....the list goes on but these are the things that shape me and if one doesn't see where I've been, how can they see who I am? I love who I am when I'm home and it's hard to let go in the same way anywhere else. But here goes - yet another semester away and just a little further in the painful process of 'cutting the cord.' Ouch. It kind of sucks.

Thus - I can just look forward to people watching in the airport.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Cereal Girl

Feeling like I need to write but not really positive I have something worth writing about so I'm going to try something new again...

I used a website for educators who want to write with their classes: www.writingfix.com and then used the random personal list generator to get me going

And chose: "List all the BREAKFAST CEREALS you remember eating in your lifetime. Choose several from your completed list and write a piece about HOW BREAKFAST CEREALS CAN DETERMINE THE TYPE OF PERSON YOU BECOME."

- Honeycomb @ Gaga's house
- Kix
- Trix (getting a box for Easter)
- Lucky Charms in a minibox while camping
- Hating Frosted Miniwheats because they get soggy
- hating raisin bran unless sugar and raisins are added after the fact
- hating 'bunny food' (kashi) until recently
- Sugar Smacks - not called that anymore
- Corn pops
- Grits (mm)
- Cream of Wheat - haven't had it in awhile
- Captain Crunch - makes my mouth feel weird
- Fruit Loops - turn the milk brown
- Rice Krispies - mm but better in bar form
Cheerios - remember when the multigrain and frosted kind came out? Honey nut is still my favorite
- Chex - yum! Corn are my favorite
- Krispix - like Chex only better shapes
- Special K - meh it's weird and it sometimes gets stuck on your tongue and hurts.

How breakfast cereals determine the type of person you become?
That's a stretch but I do think eating breakfast in general can affect the type of person you are, not that you are stuck a certain way if you never ate breakfast but that by starting your day with breakfast you may behave in a particular manner or be a different person than when you don't. I think taking time to start your day - even if for 10 minutes to sit and eat, think, gather your wits before trudging through the day, you have a more balanced and organized mental start. You've had time to think through what will be going on and what needs to happen, and you've given your body a chance to wake up its systems and get going. Aside from the scientific research surrounding breakfast, I think the time it takes to pour a bowl of cereal says something about caring about starting off with the right mindset, body care, and tempo. The type of cereal is a different story - I love to snack on Lucky Charms in the afternoon - meaning? I probably am a 7 year old at heart. I sometimes crave Cheerios when I'm sick or late at night - meaning? I was probably fed them as a baby and given them after being sick to my stomach, like everyone else. I love the noise rice krispies make - meaning? If food sounds good it tastes better. I hate eating sugar cereal for breakfast - I'm always hungry too soon and it feels weird in my mouth - meaning? I grew up. I love transferring in the Atlanta airport because I can get grits for breakfast - meaning? I should live in the South. Ok maybe not so much but this is where I think we can't say anything about breakfast cereal and its correlation to personality, I think just whether you eat breakfast or not. I suppose the difference between granola bars and cereal or eggs and cereal might say more about the type of person - or at least how they operate on a schedule and use their time than whether they pour Corn Pops or Captain Krunch Oops All Berries in their bowls.

What was for breakfast this morning? An EggMcMuffin - proving I am in fact an American who falls for the Golden Arches everytime and that getting up and going out early with mom is made even better by a cup of Peets coffee and a paper wrapped sandwich : ).

Thursday, January 01, 2009

"Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds." - Elie Wiesel

food for thought.