My collaborative learning group because, well, I’ve learned SO MUCH. This last meeting, we all passed around assignments that work for us in the classroom and it was like hitting the jackpot! I have at least 8 new assignments that I can implement into my classes. Also, there’s always food and I’m always hungry by the time I get to the meeting, so food is definitely something to be thankful for.
Luke’s birthday was on Friday, and it’s hard to believe he’s 3 years old. I constantly ask myself the tired phrase of most mothers, “where did the time go?” I miss the days when he was just a tiny infant, snuggled up against me in his sling, as I carried him from place to place. But I love watching him learn and grow and become, really, a tiny little man. And hearing him say, “good night, mama, I love you,” before he falls asleep every night makes my heart feel like it’s going to burst from my chest. Three months ago he couldn’t say those words, couldn’t put them in a sentence. Now he can. Tomorrow he’ll say something just as wonderful. And that’s the beauty of watching your kids grow up, I think. That’s also the beauty of Luke. Because as much as he’s the destroyer of his house and like to break anything he can get his hands on, he’s also the sweetest, kindest, most cuddly little guy I’ve ever known. I think his heart may be twice the size of others. He carries more love in it then most people I know.
Since it was his birthday, he got whatever he wanted, which included pancakes with ice-cream for breakfast and a park picnic with my sister, her kids, and my mom.
Luke’s birthday party was the next day, a day when friends and family and a whole bunch of little kids came to have a very simple, park party. To be honest, I’ve been so busy that I didn’t have time to plan anything elaborate or even send out homemade birthday cards like I’ve done every year previously. This year I sent out a hastily written email to friends asking them to join us at the park. I ordered pizza, bought a cake, strung up some balloons, and bought a pretty cheap pinata (Of a ball. Because really, I have a serious problem with people/character-shaped pinatas. I mean, who really thinks it’s a good idea to have kids beat, oh, say, Dora the Explorer until she breaks a part? Seems to me that kids hitting a small, Latino-American inspired character until she basically dies is wrong on so many levels.). Despite my doubts about how much fun this simple party would be, it seems everyone had a blast, especially Luke.
Hail on an evening when it seemed cold, sure, but not cold enough to hail. Hail that lasted for almost 15 minutes. Hail that gathered on our roof so it looked like it had snowed. Hail that sent Maddie running outside to gather it, play in it, and pretend, even if just for a few minutes, that she lived somewhere in the mountains where it snows all the time.
A family dinner night that included my mom and dad, me and the kids, my sister and her family, plus my two uncles, Michael and Tommy (who is visiting from Japan). It was a great dinner, and my sister opened her house and cooked for all of us. It was nice to see my mom and her two brothers together and the evening got even better when the entire family played an impromptu game of baseball. Surprisingly my mom did the best out of all of us. Somewhat surprisingly, I actually had a few great hits. Even the little kids hit the ball (with some help). Maddie, unfortunately, will never be a baseball player. Especially since she closes her eyes as soon as the ball comes toward her. Thankfully, she great at other things.
Usually I’m so busy during the week that I rarely get good, quality time with friends, but this week I got to do it twice!
My good friend Jason came over on a Saturday afternoon and we just sat at the table and talked about our lives. Then Monday night, my friend Andy and I shared a bottle of wine and we just talked about our lives. Both times, I felt this great connection to my friend and him to me. It’s such a wonderful part of my life to have deep conversations with those friends that know me well. I’m grateful I had a chance to slow down, connect, and enjoy their friendship; it’s not something to ever take for granted.
Finally, a few weeks ago, I was getting my usual morning cup of coffee at my favorite coffee shop/bookstore when I picked up a book just lying around and purchased it. It was Michael Ondaatje book, The English Patient. I, of course, had seen the movie years ago, but I never knew it was a book, and I have no idea what made me buy the book (especially since I made myself a promise not to buy one more book until I finish reading the ones I already own. But actually I’ve already broken that promise several times. I guess this makes my argument null and void). A few nights ago, I picked it up and started reading.
And couldn’t stop but then also didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want the story to end. It was honestly one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary fiction and for the most part, it’s good: great plots, thoughtful and interesting characters, deep ideas. But all these contemporary books seem to lack one thing: poetic prose (except for Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses. This book had it all as well). The prose, the rich language of The English Patient, wrapped around me like I was submerged in fragrant bath water. My words don’t do it justice. It was just eloquent and beautiful and I feel in love. Deeply in love. So in love that I believe I’ll start reading it again.
So to end this busy, thankful week, a quote from The English Patient, one of the best I’ve ever read:
“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden as if in caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography–to be marked by nature, not to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owed or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps.”