Saturday, September 14, 2013


Jude's class performed today at Fiesta!, a festival organized each year by the Hispanic League of the Triad. They sang 2 songs. In the second song, the class played the part of boys and girls playing in the woods, and Jude and 3 others students were the wolf who was getting ready to come into the woods and scare them. Jude had the line, "Me estoy poniendo el chaleco." (I'm putting on my vest). 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Loving what is

“When we reach a state of pure awareness, we realize that there are no problems and therefore no need for solutions.” –Deepak Chopra

This line is from a meditation I got in an email this week, and it has really affected the way I am feeling about the start of school. You see when we perceive something as a problem, we have identified it as something that is wrong or bad, as well as something that requires a solution. But what I have come to understand is that even when a solution is reached it never erases the problem, nor the stress I had that was associated with the problem.

However, now, I realize that if I refrain from judging what is, I save myself a lot of stress. For example, the A/C went out on the Vibe this week. I could stress about it, worry about it, identify it in my mind as bad, but, at the end of the day, it’s a broken compressor. It has no idea what stress it is or is not causing, it just exists. The situation just is. So, rather than get upset, searching for a solution, I just thought about what action I could take. Drive car to the shop, get it fixed. The result is exactly the same as if I had identified the situation as a problem, yet the stress and worry were non-existent.

You just think about what is, and then you think about what action you might take to create something that is more congruent with your true self.

I am the head of a new committee at work, one that has never existed before, that focuses on literacy. It occurred to be that I formed the committee because I was trying to solve a problem. This was leading me on a chase to find the silver bullet. I felt like I was going to be responsible for the having the answer. But that’s not it at all. What is is that we have kids who cannot read. For each kid, there’s not going to be an answer. Literacy is too complex and layered for there to even be an answer. I was thinking this thought at 5 this morning when I remembered the Deepak quote. The committee is a group of people in action, not a group operating from the fear of not finding an answer.  Just like the car, all I need is to begin taking action, help spur others to action, and evaluate our action to determine if different types of action need to occur.

Could you imagine telling a 5th grader that he has a reading problem? It’s automatically a judgmental statement, it implies imperfection and that the child is imperfect or bad in some way. The truth is, that child is just as sweet and full of light as they have ever been and whether or not they read has nothing to do with it. So how is it a problem? It just is, and we are going to take action so that maybe one day we can say it isn’t. And from beginning to end, we identify that student as whole and perfect and full of light. And just as the opposite is true, helping the child won’t then make the child complete or perfect, it will just be another something that is. The child is already complete, literate or illiterate. We wouldn’t stop and observe a dog and comment that that dog is somehow imperfect because he is not cat. (An example from Don Miguel Ruiz). We must see our students as whole to begin with, they are enough because they are people. We know that a richness of being comes with the ability to read, so we take action to make that something the student can experience or take advantage of. To take Jon’s words, “That’s teaching with soul.”

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Our little reader

Our baby can read! We've been reading the Bone series with Jude, and this is my blog so I'm not going to worry about bragging. Jude reads Fone Bone's part in the graphic novel, and he does an awesome job. He reads with inflection, pauses at the right times, gets loud with the letters are in caps or's just really neat. I videoed him, and it doesn't really capture it completely because I think the camera made him a little nervous. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 4: The first 30 minutes are free

After the tremendous breakfast the day before, we headed back to Milk and Honey for breakfast again. This time I had the granola Jon had the day before. Jon ordered the pancakes, and they were incredible. They were true buttermilk pancakes with that sour flavor that plays off sweet syrup so well. The pancakes were stuffed with crunchy granola and cherries. They were so, so delicious. Jude ordered the fig, chocolate, strawberry coffee cake, which was also wonderful. He didn't finish it, so we were happy to take care of the leftovers as a midnight snack. 

It was raining as we packed up the car, and we were a bit disappointed because we wanted to go to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is free. We carried on and went to the zoo anyway so that we could see if the rain was really that bad or if we could make a go of it. We found that the zoo parking lot offered the first 30 minutes for free, so we took our time checking weather forecasts and sizing up the situation. After about 15 minutes we decided to go in and have some Chicago dogs and use the bathroom before leaving. We figured we could do that before the 30 minutes was up if Jon went around the block and started the time over. 

Jon and Jude circled the block while I went in to use the bathroom. Once we were all together in the zoo in the pouring rain, our sense of adventure was unlocked. We bought some ponchos, ate some hotdogs, and set out to explore. 

The jaguar was the highlight of the morning. He was up moving all around his enclosure, and we got some great pictures. Jude recently played the part of the jaguar in The Great Kapok Tree at school, so it was really cool to see a real jaguar. We stayed at the zoo for hours, having a wonderful time. We ended the day with some ice cream cones and hit the road back to Kentucky to see my family and pick up Lucy B. 

Day 3: CUBS WIN!

At the recommendation of the person we were renting our apartment from, we started off this day at Milk and Honey on Division St. This was a fantastic decision. Jude has a coconut scone and chocolate milk. This food pairing was perfect. The scone was crispy on the outside and soft in the center with toasted coconut throughout. I had the huevos rancheros, only available on the weekend. Served casserole-style, the crock had a corn tortilla in bottom and was layered with black beans, eggs, pico, and cheese. The crowning glory of the dish was a chipotle crema served on the side. Jon had the granola and yogurt with a side of bacon. We didn’t know at the time, but Milk and Honey is known for its granola, and it is available on the restaurant’s website for purchase. The granola was served over a bowl of yogurt and fresh fruit. Jon also ordered a side of bacon to share. The coffee was also delicious, but it was far overshadowed by the food.

We returned to the apartment for some down time before it was time to leave for Wrigleyville. I wrote the first two blog entries about Chicago, Jon read some structural equation modeling stuff for his dissertation, and Jude colored and played.

To go to Wrigley, we took the bus about 3 miles north and then walked the remaining mile east toward the park. The neighborhood was beautiful and the weather was perfect. We had planned to eat lunch in the neighborhood, but our big breakfast left us more in the mood for a snack. We ended up at Deuces, sharing the appetizer nachos.

We then went to Wrigleyville Sports to buy some Cubs gear before the game. Jon and I both picked out some new shirts and Jude got a big foam claw (huge hit). At this point, we were all set to go into the stadium.
Once we found our seats, Jon ventured out to get Jude a hotdog and us something to drink. We were excited to find our seats in the shade and the view was great. I have to take a second here just to than my husband for this trip. Since we started dating, he’s wanted to take me to Wrigley to see my favorite team play. It was just a really special experience, the green ivy, the huge, human-operated scoreboard in the outfield, seeing the Wrigleyville seats on the tops of adjacent buildings, singing “Take Me Out to the 
Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch. I found myself missing the game at times because I was paying so much attention to all the little details of the park.

The game itself was great and went into extra innings after the Pirates hit a solo homerun in the 9th. The Cubs won it in the 11th, and hot and happy, we ventured out to find dinner.

We ended up at a place pretty close to the stadium called Pick Me Up Café. Jon was unimpressed by the buffalo chicken wrap there, but Jude and I had some of the best food so far in Chicago. Jude had a short stack of pancakes with a berry sauce that we all loved. I had a salad that was topped with fresh, grilled peaches, goat cheese, and a house-made lime vinaigrette. It was amazing. I would go there again though I feel like I have to mention that when you walk in the door there is a sign talking about how they don’t have wifi, you can’t charge up your phone, and they don’t want you to stay and hangout all day there. I understand why they don’t, but the sign at the door sets a really negative tone when you first walk in—not very welcoming.

We took the mile walk back to our bus stop and rode the 3 miles back to our apartment. We were all exhausted, so after showers and pjs, we hit the hay. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 2: Taking it all in

We started out day 2 in Chicago with a 8am architecture cruise. They served muffins, coffee, and lemonade on the boat, so we didn’t have to stop for breakfast. This cruise is a little unique in that the early time allows for the boat to go through the locks and out onto Lake Michigan before heading up the Chicago River.

I went on a similar cruise back in 1999 with a school group and really enjoyed it. I was amazed, though not really surprised by how much the skyline has changed since then. It was really nice to be out on the water and see all the new buildings and the old. After the cruise we started down Columbus Ave. toward the Field Museum. We had thought about taking a bus, but after sitting on the boat for so long we wanted to stretch our legs. We stopped at Millennium Park on the way and saw a HUGE zumba class taking place in the amphitheater.  There was a ton of energy and music that we all took in. We then headed over to see Cloud Gate, which was a big highlight of the trip so far. We all were taken in by the reflection and the size of the artwork. We took a ton of pictures, and Jude was running all around the plaza. We took our time here and then set off south again.

En route to the museum, we realized we were very hungry and started to talk about lunch options. Just as we were about to get serious about looking for a place, we came upon a cricket game in the park. It was so cool! We’ve all seen the game on TV, but we’ve never seen it in person. I’m not sure how long we stayed to watch, but to be what looked like a pick up match between friends, it was really exciting. Only peeled away from the action by our rumbling tummies, we headed south again.

Jon and I had seen the Bongo Room described in the ALA dining guide to Chicago (the ALA conference was in Chicago this year), and we wanted to check it out. When we got close, we realized it was closed. A little disappointed, we checked out the restaurant next door, Artist’s Café. We were very happy with our food. Jon ordered a bowl that had scrambled eggs, sausage, gouda, mushrooms, onions, and potatoes. He was a bit disappointed in the ratio, feeling that the potatoes seemed like filler, but the taste was great. I had the fried green tomato sandwich. It was good. The tomatoes were fried nicely, but they weren’t really green enough, so it was missing that fruity flavor green tomatoes have that is the opposing taste of the fried part typically. However, the remoulade brought the whole sandwich back together. Jude had the kid’s grilled cheese, and he reported that it was good. Jude and I both had the housemade Chicago-style chips, which were awesome. They are bigger that the hot chips back home, and were spiced better, as well.

From Artist’s Café we headed back over to the museum campus to go to the field museum. We ended up staying at the museum for the better part of 4 hours, and we still barely cracked the surface. We stopped midway to have some baked goods at the in-house coffee shop and started in again. Nothing tastes better than a maple pecan bar and a big ole whole milk latte when you’re tired and hungry. A little museum tip, if you buy your tickets before you go, do not go in the main entrance, as you will still have to stand in line, and no one will help you to avoid this. Instead, go to the south entrance. Bathrooms are also small on the ground and upper levels. The bathrooms on the lower level are much larger and better for families. The museum was pack, and I never had to wait for the bathroom on the lower level.

Field Museum favorites:
Jon: The animal exhibits and the Hall of Gems
Jude: Learning how the dinosaurs died and the mummy boy in the ancient Egypt exhibit.
Amanda: The early humans exhibit and the Hall of Gems.

We headed back to our neighborhood for dinner, eating at Antique Taco on Milwaukee. They made Jude a quesadilla even though it wasn’t on the menu (lots of points for letting kids order off menu). Jon and I swapped tacos each having one of the carnitas and one of the fish tacos. We also ordered the guacamole and chips appetizer. The two tacos was plenty of food, and the flavors were amazing. I think I liked the fish taco the best, but even as I write this I’m remembering how delicious the bbq pork was. Jon ordered while I was in the bathroom, so was able to surprise me with aqua fresco to drink. I think the flavor was mango, but either was it was delicious and refreshing and had the perfect amount of sweetness.

We walked back to the apartment full and happy and tired once again. With everyone bathed and changed, we headed to bed.  

Day 1: Journey into the city

Our drive to Chicago went well, and we didn’t hit any traffic until we were well into the city limits. We occupied ourselves listening to Harry Potter and pointing out the vast fields of corn, soybeans, and windmills along the way. The weather was perfectly overcast without any rain, the perfect weather for driving.
We arrived and got settled into our apartment. Having been on the road for 2 days in a row, we took some time to relax on the back porch. The boys enjoyed the hammock, and I took a chair alongside them. We took a short walk in the neighborhood, Wicker Park, to a CVS to buy CTA passes for the bus. We took the 66 bus up Chicago all the way to Navy Pier. The 66 bus reminds me of the bus that goes up Calle 60 in Merida. It takes you pretty much everywhere you want to go and there are stops on nearly every block.

We arrived to a bustling Navy Pier. We were hungry and had decided to try a little food court Chicago Deep Dish at Connie’s. It was tasty though the sauce was under the toppings, so I’m not sure we were getting the real Chicago deep dish experience. On the other hand, we were starving, so we weren’t really worried about such details.

After dinner we set out to explore, enjoying the views of Lake Michigan and seeing all the people. After a crepe, a churro, an iced horchata, and a ride on the train, we went back into the food court area to let Jude “build a bear.”
Jude has been interested in building a bear for a while now, and we thought this vacation would be a great time and a bear would be a great early birthday gift, as well as a souvenir. However, Jude didn’t build a bear at all, he built a pug! Jude chose a pug from all the animals and has named it DJ. Jude also got to pick an outfit for his pug, a Chicago Cubs uniform! We had a lot of fun in the store, and now we have a new member of the family!

We were out way past Jude’s bedtime, and we all climbed into bed exhausted and happy from the day. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013


We pulled a fast one on my grandma today and pulled up at her birthday cook out by surprise. She was born on the Fourth of July 80 years ago. We had a great dinner and delicious desserts. Happy birthday, Grandma! We love you!

The trip today was the first leg of our journey to Chicago. The road trip was a fun one. We started things off talking about a protest song to contribute to the NC Music Love Army. It's a group of musicians who are fighting for change in North Carolina using the power of music. I've wanted to write a song with Jon forever, and I'm hoping this will work out on that. There is certainly nothing that riles me up more than what's going on in the NC Legislature right now. Even if we don't submit anything, I would really like to get a finished project out of this collaboration. If we don't get that far, I hope we have a good time :)

The second topic that came up was Grandma's Genius, and we totally think there should be a retrospective. 

Jude read most of the trip, but he took a little media break to watch "My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic" and "Justice League." The picture is from when he was watching "Justice League." He had called out that Superman had been poisoned, and he was a little tense about it. He started holding his pug when the action got too hot. The My Little Pony DVD came with our ponies we bought last week. So cool that he likes them because I LOVED My Little Ponies when I was little. It's also nice to have something we can play with that doesn't involve fighting.

After lunch we started listening to Harry Potter: The Sorcerer's Stone until we got to my mom's house. I had forgotten how much humor there was in the series. Listening to it is such a cool experience. I'm so glad to share one of my favorite book series with my fellas. Jude didn't really tune in the whole time, but every time we changed CDs, he asked for an update on the story. 

We're off to the Windy City tomorrow!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Twinkle Twinkle

Amanda taught Jude a song! The keys are labeled with note names, but he's playing from memory. It's awesome to see him practicing something!

Twinkle, Twinkle

We got out the ole Casio this week, and Jude learned a tune! I was talking to someone at a garden party recently who suggested that he learn piano before taking on the guitar so that he understands the structure of music, chords and such. I thought that if I taught Jude to play something, he might be more interested in learning more. So far, so good!