Friday, October 30, 2009


I'm officially exhausted by Halloween and all its attendant duties. Shame on the soccer powers-that-be who decided that it would be a good idea for the under 10 girls to play TWO games on the day-of! Risa and Vida play at 9:00 and 4:45, which will leave them exhausted by the time they don, respectively, their pirate and harlequin costumes. They will be a Miss Pissed Pirate and Miss Holy Hell Harlequin.

We have 1,000 pumpkins, but none of them are carved.

I am making pumpkin soup tomorrow, which is something of a solace.

Also, I think I will melt peanut butter cups into the caramel. Apple, meet your new dip.

I don't remember the last time I was so excited about daylight savings time. Oh blessed extra hour of sleep.

Lea wears glasses now, same as I did when I was her age. I found it vaguely traumatizing when it happened to me, but today the glasses are so cute. On her first day at school, her friends came running. "Wow, Lea, you got GLASSES! You look COOOOOOL!"

We ate at a Brazilian Meat Palace (not the official name, silly) last night, and I have yet to recover. 'Twas a festival of beefiness, a parade of protein. But they also had pork encrusted with parmesan cheese. And chicken wrapped in bacon. And endlessly filled little plates of crispy polenta. So sick. So wrong. So very right.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Messy Nest

I could, if it were my nature, spend the entire day picking up after my children: shoes under the table, cardboard bits from class project, library book on the mantle, party favors, backpacks, lip balms, change purses, socks, shin guards, ponytail holders, hats, colored pencils, gluestick, homework folder. But it is not my nature. I do, however, shuffle the most offending items (backpack under the dining room table, for example) to their proper place. Why do I do this? Because sometimes I can't bear to order them around for the 276th time in 24 hours. Some would scoff, I suppose. Yes, children should learn to pick up after themselves. But also, children should not only be spoken to in an unbroken string of do-this and do-that and don't-do-this and don't-do-that. Sometimes I just need to let them be.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Day that Came Out of Left Field

Yesterday was weird. First of all, I actually submitted a story, an occurrence which happens about as often as a solar eclipse. Here's my modus operandi: I get ready to submit, and then I read over the piece, and then—for a variety of reasons, some ridiculous and some not so ridiculous—I demur. I repeat this many times as the deadline looms ever and ever closer. And then nine times out of ten I decide I'm a horrible writer, and I don't send the piece. Today, though, I was in an inexplicable throw-caution-to-the-wind mood, a start-living-or-start-dying mood, a get-over-it-you-dork mood, a what's-the-worse-that-could-happen mood. Like that. So, almost without thinking, I sent a little story out into the mean, mean world.

Also yesterday, while meeting with a non-profit group to discuss (yet again) ways to engage our Spanish-speaking parents more fully with our school culture, I was offered a job. This gave me great pause. "Your kids are older now," said the job-offerer, a lovely woman whose personality can convince an entire room filled with less-than-inspired people that their greatness is yet to be revealed. She knows this about my kids because she also offered me a job four years ago. "You gotta move on, girl," she added, one eyebrow raised.

And there is something to what she says. Really, how much longer do I remain in the rabid school-volunteer phase of my life? Soon the kids will be off to scary Middle School, where parent services are not so in-demand, and then what will I do with myself? The obvious answer is: write, stupid. But the truth is that I write more when my schedule is constricted. Leave me free and easy, and I will loll about doing very little. Fill up my calendar, and I grow determined to squeeze in writing time. Frankly, a job would help—not hinder—my output (it would do little for the state of my house, but that's another subject altogether).

Later, I broached the subject of Mothers Who Work Somewhere Besides Home with my children. The two older ones thought it would be "cool" for me to work. "Mom," said Vida, "I want you to be excellent."

I almost asked, "What do you mean? Am I not now excellent?" But then I decided that was a can of worms best left unopened. I turned to my youngest, and she squeezed her face up as if someone had pinched her really hard, began to cry, and said, "No, mama, no..."

Then one of the twins berated her, and she ran off weeping to her room. The other twin then berated the berating twin, and went to comfort her crying sister.

I ate some potato chips.

It was all too much for me, really.

And then later in the evening, I attended a PTA meeting at which much of the Latino outreach work we've done so far this year bore fruit. Big, fat, delicious, low-hanging fruit. I went to sleep very happy.

Still, weird day.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I Want to Eat a Tootie in My Tootooooon

Today, in support of Jumpstart's "Read for the Record" campaign, a bunch of parents invaded the Preschool and Kindergarten classes to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to small groups of kids. In the opinion of your Nesting Ground Mistress, there are few activities more joyous. Plus, courtesy of one of our mom's generous employers, every kid received a brand new, shiny copy of the book.

I'm sure most of you know the story and are familiar with the stunning collages: there's a hungry caterpillar, and he eats a ton of fruit and snacks and gets, of course, a terrible stomachache. Then he eats through a big leaf and feels better. He builds himself a cocoon, goes to sleep for two weeks, and emerges a beautiful, gorge-a-mous butterfly.

While reading to my first group, I turned to the page with the large illustration of the cocoon, and this little girl started screaming and pointing. "A tootoooon! A tootooooon! It's...a... tootooooon!" And it was just so remarkably cute that I didn't even bother to correct her, and now there are five little kids skipping through their lives thinking a cocoon is a tootooooon. Somehow, I don't think it will ruin their lives.

Of course, I had to e-mail my little cousin (who is an educator), and she responded that there is a little girl in her Kindergarten that says "tootie" instead of "cookie."

So now all I want to do is eat a chocolate chip tootie in my tiny tootooooon. I'd invite you, but there's only room for one.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Post In Which I Reveal the Reason Why I'm Once Again Engaged In a Scorching Love Affair with Writing

It's hard to believe that I've never taken a class at Kearny Street Workshop, but there you go: I've never taken a class at Kearny Street Workshop. Until this weekend, that is. And it is SO good. Which leaves me to wonder, of course, if it's ALWAYS so good. I already know that the answer, though, is no. Because there are too many variables at play. First, the instructor must be wonderful (generous, brilliant, accessible, truly present), the space must be conducive to creativity (clean, pleasant, generally distraction-free, with natural light, and let's see, what else...white walls), and—this is the trickiest thing of all—the group must be a pitch-perfect mix of writers.

All three of those heady requirements have been met by the workshop I'm attending (today was day 1), and this despite the fact that the other half of the space at PariSoMa was taken over by something called the Arse Elektronika festival. "You might walk out of this room and see, I don't know, robots fucking or something," said our teacher. See why I so enjoy her? Her name, by the way, is Minal Hajratwala.

I won't continue, as one of our group agreements is "confidentiality." (Do you think this post breaches it? I hope not) I will just add, though, that it helps so very much that your Nesting Ground Mistress is an old lady now, as this workshop would have been wasted on the young version of me. And whaddayaknow: that confession works well with the theme of the workshop, which is—of course it is—"Lost & Found."