For Parents: judging each other is totally in our hands and heads

eleanor-roosevelt-no-one-can-make-you-feel-inferior-without-your-consentIt’s that time of year again. It’s time to judge each other as parents! Actually, it seems like it’s always that time of year.

But the end of the school year is especially tough for parents because it’s been a long year of rushed mornings and rushed homework and unexpected sick days and drama-filled tales from the playground and PTA requests and calls home and conflict about dress codes and testing and standards and on and on. Much of this is out of our control and we are left to react or respond after-the-fact. Some of it is larger than our children or our school or our town. But the whole judging each other thing is totally in our hands and heads.

Other people may say mean things or roll their eyes or condemn your parenting choices. And that’s on them. I could go into all the reasons others may feel obliged to publicly comment on others’ parenting choices, but there’s no need. What you and I have control over is how we respond and how much we allow in.

So when a parent who hates crafting makes fun of the cute treats and trinkets you created for the class, smile and know the kids think they are amazing. When another parent raises an eyebrow because you showed up late (or couldn’t make it) to the class play, know that your child will love telling you all about what you missed — complete with elaborate detail.

When you say YES every time the PTA asks for your time and someone rolls her eyes and calls you a busy-body, shrug and know that the we all really, really appreciate your willingness. When you say NO every time the PTA asks for your time and someone smirks and sighs, know that we all really, really understand that it’s not what everyone can or wants to do.

And when the parent who is doing everything you wish you could or would or wanted to looks up and smiles, just smile back. And if that parent looks up and grimaces or looks about to burst into tears, smile back.

Know that we are all just doing the best we can — and that might change from day to day. Other people’s judgement (real or perceived) can’t hurt you unless you let it in. Be kind to others and be kind to yourself.

/lecture

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Social Collisions Solved

The source of many misunderstandings: Shy and socially awkward people think no one else is. Outgoing and gregarious people think everyone else is. 

little miss shyAs someone who considers herself shy and socially awkward (despite few people ever believing me), I’ve become hyper aware of how brief public interactions can be perceived. Where to rest a gaze while walking through town, how loud (or quiet) to make a greeting, how wide to smile in passing without seeming creepy, how invisible I was the last time I met you — and so on — all obsess those of us further along on the shyness scale. To help me remember it’s not all about me, I came up with the gem bolded above. Let me know if you agree, and the next time we pass, please remember that I’m not trying to seem (overly) creepy, I’m just working on my social graces.

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Your life, trying to be remembered

A friend posted this today — April 28th — and it expresses part of the complexity that is mourning. Life goes on, and as time passes, we start to live in moments and hours and even days when those we’ve lost figure less and less in our thoughts. And then we think of Chirashi or hands held or promises made as the end drew near, and the grief comes flooding back.

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Happy Birthday, Opa!

I’ve been telling my kids that we should remember the silly and fun moments with Opa, and they tell me okay. And then we all realize that there won’t be new silly and fun moments to add to that collection of memories filed under Opa. And then we are sad together.

And that’s still okay. Because life goes on and grows and builds itself around the past.

And that’s as it should be.

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Inspiration at {verdigreen}

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The display windows are always carefully and beautifully put together from scratch.

When I say “inspiration” it means vicariously soaking in other people’s artistic or creative projects with paints and craft items. And that’s where it ends: I feel inspired. I love to look, imagine, be tempted to distress furniture and wonder about cutting paper into whimsical patterns to waft from invisible hooks. Imagining doing all these things and living among them is a little like taking a long weekend into fantasy land.

That’s why I like to stop in to {verdigreen} once in a while. Wandering around the store and workshop has all the inspiration I need with none of the pressure to actually create. Although, it’s good to know that if I get the urge, the shop is there with everything I need to get crafty and creative. Those with more confidence in their abilities and more desire to create rather than admire can find inspiration at {verdigreen} as well as all the tools necessary to help it come to life.

Wrapping paper that's gorgeous enough to frame.

Wrapping paper that’s gorgeous enough to frame.

Azie, the owner and artistic force at the shop, told me that craft-curious people can bring in a small project and try out different Annie Sloan products and the various tools {verdigreen} has to figure out if committing to a purchase of paint, wax, and brushes will bring joy or regret. For those who like or need more guidance, there are also workshops in various techniques. Azie also said that she or one of her super-knowledgable staff make sure to consult and advise customers about color, use, and amount of product needed for a particular project. Check out the website to check for workshops, and maybe I’ll see you there if I’m inspired. In NYC? Manhattan has a brand new {verdigreen} shop in the East Village!

Check out the brand new space here.

Either way, I’ll be wandering the store soaking in the funky vibe and creative details.

Stencils: Art even I can do!

Stencils: Art even I can do!

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Guilty Pleasures: Television Edition

I like television. I watch more than I should. But it’s so good! One of my guilty pleasures for a while now — okay for over four seasons now — has been Once Upon A Time. I’ve made peace with the Disney connection, accepted that it’s more soap opera than fairy tale, and kept up with the drama and characters as they enrage, disappoint, and make me crazy.

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My favorite character is Regina, the once (and perhaps future) Evil Queen. Her character is deeper and more “human” than most. Her flays are relatable. And her character has taken the most twists and turns without become a flat version of any stereotype.

So there. That’s my guilty pleasure on the TeeVee. What’s yours?

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S.O.F.I.A. Celebrates Five Years of Service

You know someone in an abusive relationship. Yes, you do. We all do. And as Mr. Rogers always told us in times of despair, “Look for the Helpers.” One of the organizations that has been a “Helper” for the last five years is Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates. And in May, S.O.F.I.A. will be celebrating its five years of advocacy by honoring three people who represent three different aspects of its work.

SOFIA galaAssemblyman Thomas Giblin is being honored for his profound and passionate support of S.O.F.I.A.’s programs and events to empower survivors of domestic violence. Ms. Joanne Paul, whose daughter Monica was shot and killed by an ex-boyfriend, is being honored as a representative of family members and friends who resolve to move forward while reaching out to others who have lost loved ones to domestic violence. Mrs. Karla Wheeler-Suliman is being honored as the face of domestic violence survival and an active volunteer and supporter of S.O.F.I.A.

Please consider joining us on May 14th, 2015 at the Richfield Regency in Verona for dinner, community, and helping to raise funds toward the S.O.F.I.A. Safe House and the continuation of our programs. Sponsorship opportunities are also available!

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Women’s History X

X is for Women Whose Names We Don't Know

Congratulations, Stephanie! You (or the recipient of your shout out) will receive a copy of Rad American Women!

A friend (Thanks, Amy!) recently posted a link to this post on Dangerous Minds about an ABC book called Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries.

I love the look of it. I love the highlighted women. I love that it used the Oxford Comma the way I do. I love the graphics. Sloppy, happy love all around.

I especially love the X page. We all know women (and men, yes I know! but this is March for one day more) who remain in the shadows — either by choice or otherwise — and show amazing strength, creativity, care, and just plain stellar power in ways that don’t make them (in)famous for their 15 minutes or longer of fame.

I’m going to ask anyone who knows a woman like that to shout her out in comments. I’ll pick one comment randomly, and that person will receive a copy of this AMAZING book! This is not sponsored, no one else is paying for it or asking me to post this. I just really love it. (Don’t believe me? Re-read the second paragraph.)

If you want to go ahead and buy the book on your own, please do so at a local bookstore and not on Amazon. Please? Pretty please?

Comment away!

Continental USA only, please

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Glad I Saw It: Newark Over NYC

Ellis Island MuseumMy cousin was here visiting last week, and we took the boat out to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. We decided one was better from afar, but we got off to explore the stories of people who had experienced a time that seemed terrifying and incredible to us. As someone who has no direct ties to Ellis Island, I can tell you that visiting the museum there is well worth your time (and the cash) no matter your lineage. Don’t be shy about going up to all the floors and peeking into all the rooms. Truly a moving experience.

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PARCCing in Moderation: A Discussion

THINK before you speak

Random Image I try to keep in mind during discussions.

My friend Eugene Stern, who is pretty good with Mathematics and stuff, asked me to have a public discussion about some of the issues surrounding the Common Core and PARCC. In our neck of the woods, it feels like there are only two polarizing camps, but since neither one of us felt suited to those discussions, we thought there might be others who’d want to read something hovering closer to the middle. I was reticent, but the nastier the other public discussions became, the more I wanted to put this out there too. So, here you go. I’m cross-posting with Sense Made Here, and the fantastic mathbabe has agreed to cross-post as well. Enjoy.

ES: PARCC testing is beginning in New Jersey this month. There’s been lots of anxiety and confusion in Montclair and elsewhere as parents debate whether to have their kids take the test or opt out. How do you think about it, both as a teacher and as a parent?

KW: My simple answer is that my kids will sit for PARCC. However, and this is where is gets grainy, that doesn’t mean I consider myself a cheerleader for the exam or for the Common Core curriculum in general. Continue reading

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Glad I Saw It: Style

IMG_0716I’m extremely grateful to people who have an eye for style. I definitely don’t have it. And I’m okay with that. But it sure is nice to stumble into spaces created by people with the kind of style I’d like to have.

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