Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Pronounce that "live" to rhyme with "jive" as in:

My new website is now live.

That's the website for Rivendell, my meditation hangout place.

Comments? On the site? On the name?

And oh yeah, what a week this has been getting ready for school to start. The only real reason I'm staying up late right now writing about Rivendell is that I'm too exhausted to work but still wound up and needing to wind down.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Teaching Log #4: Eagle

On our last day in Portland last week, I ran out alone on an errand to so ship a wonderful painting to myself of some sheep. (It's painted by my mom and ND loved it when she saw it.) Before heading back to my parents' house, I stopped off at Wild Oats. I wanted to see if they had any beautiful handmade mugs with animal pictures on them. My idea was to find something enormous for my tea that would inspire me, especially on difficult mornings when I needed an extra push to have confidence in myself.

Sure enough they had some mugs. I had just picked up the first one when my mom called and told me ND was beside herself and needed me to come home. I was about to put the mug back. After all, I hadn't had time to sort out whether the right sort of totem for me would be a whale, a wolf or what. But I looked again at the one I was holding. It was an eagle.

Eagles are beautiful creatures. Graceful, gorgeous and so determined. They're almost a little scary. I've always gone for gentle animals in the past, but lately I've discovered the importance or really believing in myself, defining clear goals, and going for them. That's what I think of eagles doing. They are impressive without begging attention for themselves. Then they see their prey and they glide down. Silently and precisely.

I decided ND could wait 30 more seconds (there was no line) and I got the mug.

So tomorrow is the first day back. I'm not fearful this year the way I sometimes have been. I know I'll be pumping with adrenaline by this time tomorrow and for the rest of the week and will have to work very hard,

but I know what I'm doing.

Already there have been three emails today from school that have annoyed, upset or stressed me out. But I'm not going to let them bother me.

I'm an eagle.

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Silver Maybe?

If there was an olympic competition for unique breastfeeding situations, I would want to enter it. I know I wouldn't have a chance at the gold. That's for people with multiple children nursing. I thought I had a shot at it when we were camping and I managed to nurse ND while we were both in our life jackets. But today was even more impressive. I had an acupuncture appointment. I've never done that before and, because it was kind of a last minute thing, could not leave ND anywhere. She was fine for about 3 minutes and then started to desperately need me. The office staff tried to take her to another area so I could finish, although I knew it would never work, no matter how much I told them. I tried to just lie their quietly and be okay with her crying.

Finally, though, they brought her back to me and the poor thing kept reaching for me even though I was lying facedown and covered with little needles. I finally asked them to lie her on the table next to me and I managed to scootch over a little and nurse with her. She whimpered sadly for awhile and even tried to talk and tell me how sad she'd been and how much she missed me, but mostly she just gulped away. It was very sweet. I couldn't help but feel proud that only I could give her what she wanted, and that I could even under those awkward circumstances.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Nine About ND

It's been a long time since I've just written about ND, and she's doing SO many amazing things lately. Here nine-month birthday is coming up, and I should probably say 9 things about her then, but I want to do it now while I'm thinking about it:

1. She says Mama, as in "Mamamamamamamama" usually if she's hungry. If she's REALLY upset she'll even say "EEEEma!" I usually refer to myself as Mama, so I'm pretty sure she knows what she's talking about. She also says "Yaaaay!" under the right circumstances. And once, I think she said "key," as in "kitty."

2. She loves animals. She laughs more when up close to an animal than in almost any other circumstance. Her favorites are A. (our cat), goats at petting zoos, and our friend's brand new puppy - a labradoodle - named Pippin.

3. She is starting to crawl. Not like her friend NBwho can thump across a room pretty fast, but she's getting there. (Scroll down on that link and you'll see the two of them together.)

4. She is also cruising a bit. We have this rectangular basket in the living room where I put a lot of her toys. The morning before we left for Portland, she turned it over and used it as a walker, pushing it right up against the bookcase. She started tugging on one of her board books on the second-from-the-bottom-shelf. After about five minutes, she got it down. Suddenly this lightbulb of pure joy lit above her head and she started pulling them off in bunches, as many as she could. She started with a pile of her own books, then did some of the cookbooks and Calvin and Hobbes on the bottom. I just sat and looked on in amused horror.

5. She sometimes pushes my hand away now. I respect that.

6. She loves playing in water but is not yet comfortable with pools.

7. She is eating lots of solid food and especially loves cheerios. She likes waving a spoon around. I'm losing patience with spooning food into her mouth. I much prefer just dumping finger-food onto her tray.

8. She responds to her name now and recognizes my voice. She may play quietly with someone else, but then if she hears me will become upset and want to be with me.

9. I thought about teaching her baby sign language, but I'm agreeing now with a friend of mine that she communicates clearly enough to me that I don't feel a strong need. She also really wants to talk, so I don't know that we need that other step. It would be fun, but I'm just not consistent teaching it to her at all.

And now it's late late late and I should be getting to bed.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007


I've been in Portland for the past week or so. Just got back last night. I have a lot to tell, I suppose, but probably won't get to much of it. It's late, we haven't slept much the past few nights, and I'm driving to see a friend in upstate New York tomorrow morning. I'd love to post some photos too, but my batteries are dead and I can't find the battery recharger. Yet, if I don't tell any of it now, I never will.

Oh, the woes of readjusting.

One very bright light...

I told most of my friends in Portland that I'm past the year of hating New Jersey and am now ready to change things. That's something I've talked about a lot in here. So during several of my sleepless nights (sleepless because ND was teething (I think) and then I got to worrying about things even after I fell asleep) I worried a lot about getting paper recycling going in the school. Today I was able to contact the right parent to help this really get going. She's even having a meeting tomorrow with the principal, so hooray for that!

While in Portland, my dad showed me this article from The Forward about Greening synagogues. Three quotes I want to share:

1. “We’re not just doing this because it’s a good thing for the world,” said Rabbi Joel Baker, executive director of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s Pacific Southwest region. “We’re doing it because it’s incumbent on us as Jews to do it.”

2. Wallach attributed the Jewish community’s heavy involvement to both its high level of organization and the willingness on the part of three of its denominations — the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements — to band together around the issue.

3. While the West Coast may seem to be more fertile terrain for environmentally conscious institutions, the East Coast has its fair share of synagogues that are breaking new ground on green building. The national COEJL organization launched a Green Synagogues program in New Jersey, which includes, among others, Congregation Sharey Tefilo-Israel, a Reform synagogue in South Orange, N.J., and Kesher, an Orthodox congregation in Englewood, N.J.

To me this begs one obvious question:

Why is my little shul the ONLY Orthodox shul mentioned in the article?

It's a little exciting to be the one, and embarassing that it's the only one. I don't think this is a lack on the part of the media to report wonderful green-ness in the Orthodox world although I do think we often are sometimes irrelevant in the larger Jewish community. I think it's slowness on the part of Orthodox institutions to pick up on social responsibility and I think it's because we isolate ourselves and want to be different than the non-Orthodox branches of Judaism. That's my guess anyway.

We've got our work cut out for us. I'm happy to have a cause.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Teaching Log #3: Tree Time

It's still early August, but I'm starting to think about school now.

Had a meeting Tuesday here with my assistant and the other teacher who works with her (also second grade). Today assistant (J.) and I met again, in the classroom.

There will be a lot to do later, like right before school starts, but I don't feel the need to do any more real planning at this point.

I'm psyched to be working with J. because she's also a nature-lover. She works at a kennel in addition to her work at the school. We decided together today that we'd like the class to have a special tree that we visit regularly. We'll make it part of calendar time. So at least weekly we should check in about the weather and about what's happening out there with the tree. We also want to put a tree on the door of the classroom. And since there are little windows in the door, we want to make them look like knots in the tree bark and have a squirrel peek through. Let's see how much is imagination and how much can actually materialize.

We went ahead and chose a tree because there are only two in the classroom. We got a leaf down and it has this funky fuzzy thing on it. I went to the Flat Rock Brook Nature Center to ask about it. The guy didn't know a lot, at his own admission, but he says it's some kind of oak tree. (I feel like I should have known that.) He gave me a number I can call and send the leaf to get more detail on what kind of oak and if this is a fungus on it or whatever.

Anyone want to take any guesses on what it is before we get a verdict?

I found myself looking very closely at the leaf, and thinking who in my life I'm learned from to do that. There aren't many people in the world that look that closely at leaves and try to understand them. Now that I've picked up on it, especially from people like Emarcy, I want to be a role model in doing this with the kids.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Camping Trip 2007

Sorry I've been so on-hiatus-ish. Although I guess you're thinking... "Phew! Less blog to read!" (I, for one, admit to almost never reading blogs these days. I place priorities on those belonging to friends.)

Last week Wednesday through Thursday, ND and I went camping with Emarcy again like last year. Same place, but now with the baby OUTSIDE the belly.

In that post from last year, alissa asked if the future baby would sit quietly while I meditated. Well, we didn't try that. Sitting on precarious rocks is probably not the best place to experiment with letting go of baby. But we did sit together in the morning and look at the ducks.

It felt more rushed this year because everything takes more time with a baby, but I think the trip overall was even better than last year. We didn't go on any big hikes so I didn't end up napping to get rid of a headache. Instead we spent all of Thursday at the lake. First we canoed, than sat in the water on the beach. Emarcy and I took turns swimming a little too. She swam a lot actually. She loves swimming. I swam a little (yes, while wearing all those clothes with the swimsuit underneath... modesty...). My only regret about the trip was that I didn't swim more, and the reason for that is that I got worried about leaving ND with Emarcy. Don't know what I was worried about. That they'd get bored without me? They were clearly having plenty of fun just sitting on a beach blanket together, but what are you going to do?

Also, it didn't rain. What a difference it makes when it doesn't rain. (Look at the last photo on that post.

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