Sunday, October 31, 2010


Today my baby turns 9. Nine is a big deal. I think my real childhood memories began at nine. Not including the ones that are attached to photos, or stories, or family anecdotes. I remember my 4th grade teacher, the beautiful 28ish year old Mrs. Deborah Penney, (a teacher named Deborah, how very chic) with her Farrah Fawcett wings, blouses with puffy sleeves and high heeled boots. I adored her. She was sweet and kind and patient. I was the classic type A nervous kid. 100s on every spelling and math test. Nail biter. I did that weird nervous blinking thing sometimes. Somewhere in my mom's attic is a polyurethaned certificate I received that my dad made into a plaque that reads "Highest Achievement in Second Grade". You get the idea.

Well, in 4th grade you were able to go from writing in pencil (babies!) to writing in pen. It was probably early November when Mrs. Penney started calling students up row by row, checking notebooks for neatness, erasings, etc. I had this one nailed. My work was pristine. I underlined with a ruler just because I liked the way it looked. Like everything else, this one was mine. Then she called me up and flipped thru my notebook, breezing through the pages. Waiting for the nod, I stood there smiling. My smile slowly turned to an awkward grimace, when I realized what she was saying to me. The bored scribbles and doodles in the front and back of my notebook were preventing me from moving on to pen!! The rest of the memory fades, and I can only assume that I had to either take my notebook home and put a paper bag book cover on it, or sit down with a fat pink eraser and get to work removing the mess from my otherwise perfect notebook. I was floored and humiliated. My confidence dissolved like the etchings of a pencil.

Yesterday I was at my daughter's school. She is in fourth grade. Youngest and smallest in her class. Sometimes I worry about her because some of the kids in her class will start to turn 10 this month, because their parents decided to wait to send them to kindergarten. We were faced with that option 5 (gasp!) years ago, and decided to send her. I never wanted to her to look back on that decision and question that we didn't think she could handle it. So we sent her. And she's been fine. She's always been the middle of the pack, the kid that every teacher has said makes their job easier, but maybe not the strongest reader, or a "mathaholic". She's a hard worker and goal oriented. Yesterday she and 11 other 4th graders (out of maybe 85 kids) were "knighted" in math. That means they memorized and passed 5 minute drills for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and are honored in front of their peers and parents for their hard work. Yesterday was the first knighting ceremony of the year and my kid was up there. She was dubbed Dame Erin with a meter stick, in a purple fur robe. I am so proud of her. I hope she remembers that day.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I was all set to write another mom driven sepia fuzzy memory blog today. Instead I am livid and scared and exhausted from finding out that a young woman was raped and assaulted in my neighborhood this morning at 7 am. She was jogging. She jogged through my neighborhood, a half a block from my kids' school and was pulled into the bushes by some creep in front of my daughter's classmate's home. On a main street. In the rain. I am sick over this.
We bought our house in this picture perfect neighborhood, one of the United States top 8 up and coming cities to live in. Our schools are excellent. The cost of living is good. We are less than a mile from Hartford. I want to blame this on living so close to a crime laiden city. But I'm pretty sure the pervert that did this isn't some inner city kid. He's described as a thin, 5'10" man around the age of 40. He's not just a rapist. He's a thief that took so much from that poor girl today. And he has impacted an entire neighborhood of people trying to do the right thing for their families. My kids aren't allowed to ride their bikes without us anymore. I don't want them playing right out in front of my house on the swing hanging from our tree. I'm so sad.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Present

So I have always been one of those people that when I would get an LL Bean or J. Crew catalog, I imagined myself in the rugged outdoors, sipping coffee on a pier, wearing wellies with my kids fishing, swinging their boot clad legs over the side. At least that was before J. Crew went vintage glam, when I owned more rollneck sweaters than I could wear. The truth is, I'm not outdoorsy, or rugged for that matter, and if my kids caught a fish I wouldn't know the first thing to do with it. Let alone, let them sit on the edge of the pier without a lifejacket and a firm hand on their shoulder. I would create these picture montages in my head of how life would be so perfect, if only I had the right setting, and accessories.

I had visions of my wedding pictures playing out like a Martha Stewart magazine. Black and white close-ups of us walking, him holding the train of my dress so it wouldn't drag. A shot of my perfectly pedicured foot in my Kenneth Cole stiletto. The best man's toast. Cut to reality. I have $2000 worth of random (not artsy) candids and the ridiculous 12x12 leather bound album of posed family shots. My bunion didn't fit in the stiletto. They went back to the store and I picked up white "satin" Totes ballet slippers to wear with my dress. And the toast was mostly about basketball and teamwork. I think. I am scowling into my champagne glass in those pictures. But there was one good thing that I remember the best man saying at the end of the toast, "Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is a gift, that's why it's called the present."  At the time I was so wrapped up in the fact that the toast really had nothing to do with me that it took me watching our wedding video to catch it.

Then I had kids. And the disillusionment only grew. Getting the perfect Christmas card, the perfect 1st birthday party, handprint and footprint plates to mark every 3 months of growth. Uh-uh. The thing that noone mentions in all of those baby books and magazines is that reality is messy, and forgetful, and tired, and sometimes throws up on things. The paint your own pottery plates never happened. I have no idea what my 9 year old's first word was. No idea what the 7 and 5 year olds' were either. Baby books? Never happened.

Now I have an inexpensive Kodak EasyShare camera. Best thing I ever bought for myself. I set that jammy on Sepia, and go to town, photographing life as I see it, through my sepia colored glasses. My sisters and I joke whenever I post my sepia pictures. We say that it "tells a story, every time". So I take pictures of my kids walking ahead of me, or squatting at the shoreline, or climbing on rocks. Everyone photographs better, because it's so forgiving, and it gives the illusion that you are looking back in time. Sharing a memory. And then I rush to post it on Facebook. "Look at all of my wonderful memories! What a picture perfect life!"

There was a time this summer, when my husband was deployed by the Coast Guard to Louisiana for 2 months. I was at the Cape with the kids, having a terrible day. I was tired. I missed Tom. I had absolutely had it, and I still had about 5 weeks to go before I would get any kind of break. And there I was, camera set on sepia, trying to get the perfect shot. At one point I put the camera back in my bag because I felt like a sham. Trying to create happy memories, when I was anything but happy. But then I took it back out, took a deep breath and went back to trying to get the kids to stand in the perfect light, casting the perfect shadow. Isn't that what we are all trying to do?