The Teacher

For the past few weeks my newsfeed on Facebook has filled with bright, mostly smiling, youthful faces. Dressed in their appropriately casual, clean and refreshed outfits. Adorning hopeful expressions with hungry brains shining through sparkling eyes.

It is that time of year again. If you have a child in school or if you yourself are a teacher, you have probably begun your school year. 

For me, it’s a time of reflection, but also, embarking on my second year of motherhood, the importance of my own responsibility now as a teacher of sorts settles heavily on my heart and mind.

We hope to homeschool our daughter, be it all they way through her educational experience, or simply as an add on to her traditional learning. There is no doubt she will learn from my husband and me. I think of my own education and how it is a continual process to this day. I hope that if nothing else I can convey this concept to her. That she has the power to educate herself and to soak up life’s lessons in whichever way she chooses.

Of course there will be “else”, she has been learning from us since day one, and every day presents us with another obvious reflection of her careful observation.

Being a teacher comes in all shapes and forms, whether it be through gaining a degree in education with a heavy background in traditional learning or through the simple moments an uncle spends with his nephew, encouraging something slightly different than whatever he has learned from his parents. 

I often feel that as a society we do not take these moments and opportunities seriously enough, considering these little sponges are the future in every sense of the word.

I have always responded best to information directed towards me in a practical sense, but as soon as any form of pretension raises its “delightful” head all is lost. I feel there is an art to educating in such a way that the people involved on both sides feel the possibility of growth in each other and that there is no superiority involved. 

It seems that things start getting a little fuzzy when any sort of class system comes into play, while of course someone younger can learn from the experience of an elder in any form, it is often from observation as opposed to picking and choosing an obvious presentation. 

In my relatively short existence of 32 years on this earth I hope I still feel this way well into old age, and that I never lose sight of the fact that education comes in all sizes. 

I cannot help but think of my Aunt Kelly, my husband’s mother’s sister, who handles this concept with great finesse. Having built up a computer programming and gaming set of classes in one of, if not the, most underprivileged schools in the inner city of Boston. She has written grants and beefed up her allowance all on her own merit, and all the while making direct, important, and significant relationships with the children she comes in contact with. They are children after all, while some might not seem them as such when passing on the street. These kids were born into an existence I cannot even imagine. A level of poverty and fear I’ve never had to experience. They don’t join gangs, they are born into them based on what street they live on. They walk home from school in odd groups, not large ones as not to appear threatening, but with one person up ahead 100ft and maybe two together down the middle of the street. They aren’t being bold or brazen, they are surviving. Many will not graduate, some will start working full time to help support their family, if they have a family. My point of this post is not to get too deep into this discussion but to shine light on the teachers like Kelly, who put their time and energy into bringing something good into the lives of people whom otherwise might be seen as a lost cause. Doing so, all the while, without being condescending or pretentious. Those two things get us nowhere. If someone is more knowledgable about something than someone else, that doesn’t make them more valuable than the other, because chances are the other person knows more in another respect. These life experiences have proven to me to hold more value than anything I’ve learned in a class room. I can usually tell when someone feels superior to me in some way or another, and whether it be true or not, I simply do not understand pushing to convey this thought. 

I challenge myself to keep this in mind while taking on the great responsibility of helping my child find her place in this world. It will not be easy, but I know it is imperative for me to do so in order to strive to be the best Mommy, Teacher, and STUDENT which she deserves. I will not challenge you, but I hope you will at least reflect on my words and possibly choose to challenge yourself. 

If we can all be a little more truthful, open minded, loving and accepting of one another we might just find ourselves living in a happier and ultimately better existence.


Lake Shore (un)Limited

When I think of train travel, my mind always goes to some old movie, where passengers are all packed away in little rooms dressed in suits and fancy hats, talking with accents, full of nostalgia and looking fabulous. In reality, I imagine they were somewhat uncomfortable, but never mind that. Trains are all about the visual.

A month and a half ago Luke was hired by his friend, Tim, to go out to Chicago and help with The Great American Lobster Fest. Tim has been producing the festival for three years now. It is tons of fun and will have its own dedicated blog post soon. For now let’s focus on the train trip.

At this age, Juliet is a constant ball of directed energy. So flying would have been difficult considering “sitting still” is just not something she wants to do. There is too much to touch, see, do, and I totally get it. I wouldn’t want her to be any other way. It is such a wondrous world to be witnessing, the combination of her curiosity and personality peeling away like the layers of an onion, revealing her precious soul to us in the most miraculous ways.

Hoping to facilitate this growth in the most positive way possible, it was a no brainer when we knew we’d be traveling to Chicago, we would do so by Train.  

We boarded our silver bullet and settled in for our 21 (ended up being 24) hour journey from Boston to Chicago.

We found a perfect group of four seats, and with the car being at about 50% capacity it seemed like we had really lucked out.

Then we arrived in Albany where we had to “switch trains”, which was actually getting off of the train going upstairs for a few minutes while they swapped some cars around then going back down and reboarding.

This is where things got a little hairy. We were some of the last passengers to board out of confusion over the whole process and it quickly became apparent that this leg (8 hrs) would be a while different trip. We could not find any seats together, so Luke sat directly in front of us and we proceeded to pass Juliet back and forth while also making regular trips up to the cafe just to break things up. I sat next to a 22 year old pediatric student on the verge of entering the real world of medicine. Actively pounding away at her application letter, fine tuning and over analyzing every aspect.

She was a lovely self proclaimed “Arab American” girl, who was quick to make friends with Juliet and also quick to tell me some hilariously terrifying stories from her own childhood.

She also spoke of her current relationship and how they are at the beginning stages of talking about marriage with their families.

He is Pakistani-Canadian, and his family is concerned about her coming from a background of divorce and being “damaged” in some way, while both sides are terribly concerned about the clash in their cultures. 

As she departed in Syracuse I wished her luck, and couldn’t help but see the reflections of my own existence in someone who was so incredibly different. I found myself feeling grateful to have the opportunity to expose Juliet to different ways of life and to hopefully help obliterate the fears that stand between basic humanity, which we all share, and culture, which can be incredibly different, but ultimately much more the same.

We were able to all sit together for this leg, and more people left at the next stop, opening up two full rows. This allowed us to stretch out a bit more and get some much needed sleep as the sun had sunk into the scenery and most of what we could see out our windows now was either ominous blackness or the ocassional flicker of lights from the passing towns.

We awoke somewhat refreshed, but very much ready for Chicago, and all that was in store, to present itself to us. Despite being quite weary we managed to enjoy this last bit before arriving 3 hours late to Union Station.

After an intense week of nonstop festival work (we lived and breathed it, all key employees/friends/family, 10 people, stayed together in one two bedroom apartment) 

For our return trip we splurged and booked a roomette last minute. While it was quite pricey it proved to be well worth it. 

Juliet enjoyed the exclusive Metropolitan lounge at the station while we waited for our cart to arrive and drive us to our train car, skipping out on having to wait in line or lug our luggage around.

We were escorted to our room by a friendly gentleman and all let out a big sigh of relief as we sank into our accommodations. Luke and I both proclaiming multiple times through our daze of exhaustion, “this is so worth it”.

Soon the man returned to turn our seats into bunk beds and we all three drifted off to sleep, headed home in style.

​When I awoke, I pulled back the curtains, revealing a bright sunny collection of trees and old abandoned buildings, zipping past us, cheering us onward. 

We headed to the dining car to take advantage of our free breakfast that came with our room.

Having slept comfortably through a majority of the trip, we are now just hours from home. 

Longing for our own bed and the sites and smells of our little country house in the woods. It is so nice to have the ability to jump into the intensity of city life for a week only to return to our chickens, garden, and puppy.