Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Poetry Victory

Remember me writing about Poetry Out Loud? A National Poetry Recitation Contest? High school students across the country have been memorizing and performing poems this winter in front of judges, all hoping to make it to Nationals in Washington D.C. in April. My student Will was our school winner, and he went on to the Regional Competition and made it to the state finals. Last night I, and some of my students, went to Camden for the state finals, and after some very stiff competition, Will won the whole thing. He now goes to Washington D.C. as the representative of the state of Maine.

And I'm a little misty-eyed about it.

The following information is for my fellow poetry lovers, teachers, and/or anyone who cares to read on:

Will has a natural stage presence and a very sophisticated reading voice. In fact, the first week of school I told him he had a future in radio. Great voice. But he also worked very hard and took the contest very seriously. He recited these poems over and over and he perfected his delivery of them.
He performed three poems:
"The Secret of the Machines" by Rudyard Kipling
"Mingus at the Showplace" by William Matthews (incidentally, the father of our dear friend Sebastian Matthews)
"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by William Wordsworth.

It was a night to remember, a true celebration. After all three rounds of poetry and the judges' deliberation, they called up the 10 performers one at a time to issue awards, saving the runner up and the winner for last. So as the other students were called up, and Will was clearly having more and more of a chance, I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest.

When they called the runner up's name, and Will was the only one left, in a true moment of grace and poise, I grabbed him by the shoulders and said: "SHUT UP!"

And then I found his mommy in the audience and we cried and cried. Our Bangor boy, off to Nationals. He wins a nice cash prize, plus $500 for our school to buy poetry books (yes!) and an all-expenses-paid trip to D.C with his folks.
Here he is getting his award from all sorts of important people in the arts:

With his adorable parents

Will would like you to think his look is very casual, but the hair and that purple sweatshirt are very deliberate decisions, and he'd kill me for saying that.

A celebratory dinner in Camden. Cheers to Will!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

There she goes talking about that bread dough again.

I don't know who I think I am, having this many posts about food and baking, but I can't stop myself. I'm pretty sure Skyler thinks all moms take pictures of their food before eating it.

Since I discovered the bread recipe described here, we have had a constant supply of dough in the fridge. It's a miracle. Fresh baked bread for dinner every night of the week.

And, this! Same dough, different product. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins and pecans, and then roll it up:

(this was our snow day breakfast)

And, this! Same dough, add a cup of dark chocolate chunks and a cup of walnuts during the mixing process.

And last night I nestled a big pile of cracked pepper and parmesan cheese into the middle of a loaf of the standard boule. Yum.

Reed's Time-out series

1. Time out for hitting.

2. When time out is over, he heads for support.

3. She has been there. She understands.

On the way to work

I was telling Skyler this morning that next year she wouldn't be going to Kimmie's anymore, but to school every day.

Skyler: Five days of school?
Me: Yes, because you are such a big girl and big girls go to school.
Skyler: And then the year after that I start work?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The mandatory sledding pictures from February in Maine

Some portraits

Friday, February 20, 2009

School vacation

Our week is almost up. I started planning and grading today, which is the sure sign that the end is near. We are getting geared up to head back into this super-long stretch (that month that starts with M is coming), but we aren't going to start talking about that yet.

Reed officially gave up his nap because we can't keep him in his room. We tried each day and his antics were entertaining (coming down after 20 minutes wearing different pants and my hat, or singing to us through the heating vent in his room) but there was definitely no sleeping going on up there.

Sam and I got back on our regular (swim/run respectively) training schedules, we took the kids to the pool nearly every day, and did a bunch of projects, reading, snuggling, and baking.

Which was good, but I still wish we went somewhere warm{er}, {ish, even}.

This is my most impatient time of year. I'm going to work really hard not to dwell on it, this slow shift in seasons.
Maybe you can help.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reed's latest tricks

Mommy is drinking beer and making videos again.

I'm about to change your life

I didn't believe until I tried it. And now I can't imagine my life without it.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is a cookbook that gives you the easiest, most unbelievable bread recipe. My friend Suzanne hooked me on this, and I just have to spread the good news.

I'm not kidding! 5 minutes! You DO NOT HAVE TO KNEAD THIS DOUGH!

Just throw 4 ingredients in a bowl, and let it sit. When you are ready to bake it, you take out a hunk and give it a few squeezes into shape, and bake it. And it is crusty and delicious.

I'm going to give you the Master Recipe, but you really need to get the book because there are a ton of variations.
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbs yeast
1 1/2 tbs kosher or sea salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached all-purpose flour
(they do have whole wheat recipes, but this is not one)

You mix it (no kneading!) and let it sit for 2 hours at room temp.

Then put in the fridge for a while (at least a few hours, and up to two weeks) covered loosely until you are ready to bake it. When you are ready (are you ready yet?) to bake it, just cut off a hunk about the size of a grapefruit, form it into a ball with just a little flour to help keep it from sticking to your hands, then give it some slash marks, let it hang for 20 minutes on the counter,

and then bake for 25 minutes at 450 on a pizza stone dusted with cornmeal. (oh yeah, and place a small pan of water on the rack under the bread which creates steam and helps the crust get crusty).

And then? EAT IT. And don't worry, b/c you have 3 more loaves waiting in the fridge.

Read the book for the whole story and all the things you can make from this base. One EASY variation was pizza dough. Here are Reed and Ella choosing their toppings.

Friday, February 13, 2009

it's time for a post about running!

This week is an important one for three reasons:
1. Red Sox pitchers and catchers started spring training, which to me is equally as sweet as the longer light in the evening and the birds chirping in the morning.
2. we are on school vacation, and we are NOT moving (like last year!)
3. it is week one of half marathon training, this time hal higdon's intermediate plan instead of novice ( i know!).

Meredith and I are planning to run the Big Lake Half Marathon in Alton Bay, NH on Lake Winnepesauke, which if you don't know, is a very significant place in my life, the same place where NELP takes place and where I met Sam. It is GORGEOUS there.
We are making a CHILDLESS WEEKEND out of it and staying in a HOTEL (added inspiration for when running gets hard).

So, this training is our 2009 kick-off for what looks to be an ambitious year for running, which, if you followed the tortured beginning to my running career, might be totally miraculous. I have successfully maintained a solid base of running 3-4 times a week and usually 4 miles at a time all year (also miraculous considering Sam's coaching schedule).

One twist is that I'm playing indoor soccer once a week now to mix things up. I'm on a team with:
3/4 normal moms like me, and

Off we go! (I just MIGHT be writing about running and all that it brings up for me in the future)

you are definitely the bread and the knife.

Yesterday was the regional competition for Poetry Out Loud (a national poetry recitation contest). My student Will, our school's representative, did an excellent job and placed in the top 5 which means he goes on to states in 2 weeks. One student recited this Billy Collins poem as his choice yesterday and it made me smile for the rest of the day thinking about it.

So here is a Valentine's poem for you to read to someone you love in the kind of way this poem describes.
Mine is for Sam, but sometimes he really is the pine-scented air for me, but probably not the pigeon.

by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass

and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker

and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.

There is just no way you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close

to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner

nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,

that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley,

and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I am not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow-- the wine.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Just like that!

My dear and VERY pregnant Adrienne has been on my mind a lot, as her due date for her second baby was yesterday.

So, last night when I was online, I noticed she was too. I messaged her because I figured she was an unhappy and impatient mama and could use some lovin'. Here is our little chat:

8:00 PM me: honey?
are you there?
8:01 PM Adrienne: was just looking for your number!
me: should i call you right now?
Adrienne: we have news!
me: shut up.
Adrienne: yes
8:02 PM me: are you home?
Adrienne: yes
me: I'm calling you right now.


And I did, and guess what?

She had her baby, a girl, Jolee Lyn Abramson, that morning and she was home already! Just like that! Good work, Abramsons! We can't wait to meet her!

Monday, February 9, 2009

did we mention that Reed loves swimming?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

on birthdays and happiness

Jason and I have very close birthdays so we often celebrate together. This year Meredith cooked us a huge, delicious feast and there was wine and there was much laughter and it was a good, good time. Actually, I haven't laughed that hard for such an extended block of time since I can remember. It may have been the wine combined with exhaustion from such a busy weekend, but man! Everything was just so funny, including me, or at least I thought so. All jokes aside, I am a lucky girl to have the friends I have.

Jason and I both love the Red Sox, in case you wondered, as does almost everyone else at the table (it's okay, Suzanne. we still love you).

This was last night. Today was my birthday. I'll go ahead and tell you that I'm 35 and feeling pretty good about it. Generally, I find that I'm happier and happier with every year that I age. I figure by the time I'm 80 I'm going to be whopping it up 24 hours a day. Hooray for getting older!

Here are the highlights from my day:

Sleeping late.
Breakfast in bed. (Me: "Skyler! This is so nice! Did you help Daddy make this?" Skyler: "No, actually.")
Reed's little birthday party (pictures coming).
40 degree and sunny weather!
a 4-mile outside run with Meredith that started out in the beautiful dusk light and came back under a full moon (I know, danger danger! running in the dark on icy sidewalks!)
Sam cooking dinner right now. Both kids asleep before 7pm.

Reedo the cupcake bandit

Just cupcakes, hats, balloons and our best friends for Reed's little party.
What else do we need?

Here is Killian taking charge of the pinata. He took care of business as the resident big kid in the house.

Several times throughout our gathering, Reed went missing and was found with suspicious amounts of frosting on his mouth and nose. When we caught him in the act, he had one simple thing to say:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Little favor bags that won't drive you crazy

That is my intention... giving things moms won't want to throw away as soon as the kids are home from the party. So, this time, just some snacks and these little wooden boxes from A.C. Moore. Today is Reed's little party at Kimmie's... they are probably getting ready for cupcakes right now!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, little man

Look, Aunt Liesel! The animals came today!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Who loves ya, kid?

I love the monthly news letters that come home from Skyler's preschool because they are one of the only ways I can glimpse what kind of kid Skyler is away from home.
Each month, there is a monthly question and all the kids' responses are included.

Monthly question:
Who is your sweetheart and why?

Speaking of Reed, tomorrow he turns 2, which means I can't call him Baby Reed anymore. And that's all I have to say about that.

And now, back to work: "Okay, everyone. If we could all just fold a little laundry...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Shiny, Happy People swimming

This video has taken me a while to compile, so I have to stop even though I'm not happy with the abrupt ending. I need to get ready for tomorrow, so I'm done for now.
(turn up the volume!)