Wednesday, August 31, 2011

first week of school and raspberry picking

The first week of school is a crazy patch work of fits and starts and not-quites, short days and meetings with teachers and forms to fill out and fees to pay. I've been to what feels like dozens of orientation sessions and open houses and met 1,000 other parents and kids whose names I promptly forgot (they all probably forgot my name, too, so it's okay). I'm just ready for it all to get rolling so I can feel like we're in a routine.

Today was Anya's first day of preschool...



...and Daniel's first day of kindergarten is tomorrow. Yesterday was the last day for the kids and me to enjoy our time together before school starts, so I said to the kids we could do whatever they wanted, their choice. I braced myself for a trip to the zoo or children's museum - fine places to visit, to be sure, but also guaranteed to be packed with families cramming in one last visit before the start of school. Instead, my children surprised me with a mutual request to go raspberry picking. I was more than happy to oblige.

We packed a modest picnic and headed down to Sutter's Ridge. It's not really that far from Madison, but driving out on those county roads makes it feel pretty remote. It was absolutely delightful. It was a cool and cloudy morning, and no one else was in the raspberry field but us. (A car full of hired pickers showed up, but they went to a different raspberry patch at the top of the hill, so we were essentially alone.)

This is the view from the raspberry field. See the horses? It's downright bucolic.



Here are my enthusiastic pickers, buckets in hand! The cart is unmanned and works by the honors system. You just stick your money into a lock box. I usually try and add a buck or two extra to account for all the berries we eat straight off the plants!



Finally, the irresistible raspberries themselves.



They were practically falling into our buckets off the plants. We came home with enough for a big batch of jam, some to freeze plain, and plenty to eat for snacks. I'm running out of room in the freezer, but it's still tempting to go back and get more for fruit sauce and popsicles and whatever else I can think of. I'm so glad my kids wanted to spend our special day berry-picking.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

THIS is why teachers need effective unions

I just copied and pasted this from defendwisconsin.org. It's a letter sent to the staff of the New Berlin district. Would YOU teach under these conditions? Would you want YOUR children being taught by people working under these conditions?

-----

Dear Staff-

Elections have consequences. The changes forced on us by Walker’s new laws appear to be but the tip of the iceberg. Below, I have outlined what the NBEA was told is contained in draft version of a new handbook meant to replace our legally binding contract. It was shared on a Smartboard with school leadership teams. This was not a collaborative effort, but presented as a completed draft. Leadership teams asked for clarification on items and were told there may be changes.

Please plan on attending the August 29′h School Board Meeting at New Berlin West meeting at 6:30 to impress upon the board the need for moderation and to ask they work with the union on this handbook. It is only through our solidarity that we can let the Board know we object to the punitive terms listed below. You do not need to speak unless you desire to do so; the NBEA will be speaking on your behalf. Do not let the BOE pass this quickly one day prior to the first day of school. We are asking that all teachers (and supportive family and friends) attend and be present at 6:30 PM in the parking lot west of the New Berlin West library to walk in together. Please wear Red. We will leave directly after the speakers are done and the regular meeting begins (approximately 7:30 PM). For those who plan on speaking, please email me- themes and issues you would like to raise.

More Time; Less Pay:

Workdays for elementary will increase by 60 minutes and Secondary by 30 minutes
Staff must be available to students before and after student schedules for at least 30 minutes per day
You can be required to work an additional unpaid 15 hours; no more than 3 hours a week
No set pay for overtime; only stipends
No pay for subbing during your preps; Principals can assign you to sub
Certified staff hours are 1520 per year full time (190 days for this year only)
The 2012-13 school year starts on August 15′h and runs until June 15′h
You may be required to start as early as 6:15 AM and end as late as 5:00 PM
No pay for any attendance at IEPs prior to 5:00 PM
You may be required to attend inservice or other training, outside your regular work schedule
Next year, if we do not change the political landscape, pay will be based on performance; pay is insured this year because of the NBEA agreement.
This Year, Elementary Will Be Working An Additional 205 Hours Without Additional Pay; Secondary An Additional 95 Hours Without Additional Pay; Next Year, Add 80 More Hours To That Total, Since We Will Be Starting August 15th And Ending June 15th

Insurance:

Full details not be revealed until September 8th; changes occur October 1
Possible 80/20 plan and we pay additional premium if the cost of insurance rises
$4,000 deductible with a $10 generic/ $50 brand drug cost
The deductible can be reduced by $3,000 if employee and spouse fully participate in the Wellness Program
Full participation in wellness program: health risk assessment, including biometrics, refrain from use of illegal drugs, participate in program to reduce risk factors, coaching, diet, behavior, follow up medical care, smoking cessation. 1st year: participate, 2nd year: have to take classes to reduce risk factors.
False reporting, such as claiming you do not smoke when you do, can result in dismissal.
Other details, such as increased co-pays TBD

Retirement:

$15,000 payout and age 55 retirement has been eliminated
Retire by 2016 at age 57 with 20 years at New Berlin, receive insurance until age 65
Retire by 2021 at 57 with 20 years, receive 3 years of insurance
Retire after 2021 no benefit packages given.
5.8% of your salary will be deducted for state retirement benefits (pension system)

The Ridiculous, Punitive New Rules:


You are not allowed to drop any licensure without the superintendent’s approval
Dress Code: Skirts below knee, no sweatshirts, no jeans, no large logos, no open shirts, etc.
Be dismissed for having students as friends on Facebook
Grievance: only in termination, discipline or alleged workplace safety issues; you cannot grieve non discipline issues are the items listed under non discipline items such as suspension, letters in file, plans of improvement, etc.
Jury Duty: regular pay, but you must show documentation to the district that you’ve tried to change the jury duty time to July and August
School calendar same, teacher convention will be professional development for this year only since it is part of the NBEA working agreement for this year.
Evaluations: Done yearly without notice
Collaborative time twice weekly for 2 hours a week.
You must report all traffic incidents (except speeding) or any tickets you have received to the District within 3 days or face dismissal even if it occurs during your time off
Take away all microwaves, refrigerators, and coffeemakers, even though each administrator and the District have these items.

Sick Days or Leave:

4 initial days and earn l!I day per month based on good attendance
However those who have accumulated over 45 days will not be awarded any days until they have used enough days to fall below the 45 day cap.
Long term disability reduced from 90% of pay to 60% of pay. If ill or have had surgery and do not have any sick time built up, you will be short pay. You will also have to pay your insurance premium during any disability leave.
No days will be added to sick bank, which will be discontinued after this year, erasing any safety net for those who become critically ill.

Want to Leave? Well, they are not letting us go without penalties:

Resign before first day of school, you must pay $200 plus board contributions of benefits (insurance).
Resigns after the first day school, $2000 plus benefits payments if not 60 days notice given
Compensation: -5taff will be issued a contract for pay not less than the amount of their pay in the year before the effective date of this handbook. Please report any effort to ask you to sign any additional “individual teaching contracts” unless they are co-curricular.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

my little vegetarian

A few weeks ago, Daniel announced that he wanted to "not eat meat anymore, just like Grandpa." Stuart's dad has been a vegetarian for several decades. This hasn't been easy, given that he has spent that time in southern Africa and south central Kansas. People in those places love eating meat, is what I'm saying. I'm not sure what inspired Daniel to declare himself meat-free, other than the fact that he clearly admires his grandpa and wants to imitate him. He's five years old, so I'm not sure how much the idea of killing an animal and butchering it for food is on his radar; in fact, since his announcement, he's made a couple of exceptions for meatballs and hot dogs because those are things he loves to eat.

The important thing, though, is that Daniel has asked us several times why Grandpa doesn't eat meat. And we answer as succinctly and clearly as we can*, in terms that we hope he understands. In fact, our response reflects why we are incredibly selective about the meat we eat, and why we have it so infrequently:

1. Because the way many animals are raised and butchered is cruel to them.
2. Because the way many animals are raised is bad (terrible, in fact) for the environment.
3. Because the way many animals are raised and butchered is bad for small farmers and rural communitites.
4. Because the way many animals are raised and butchered poses a serious threat to public health.
5. Because we need to be conscious of what we eat and the larger impact of what we put on the table every single night.

For my FIL, this means eating no meat at all, which is a standpoint I can identify with. Stuart and I were vegetarian for quite a while for all of those reasons, and buying meat that was sustainably produced was (still is) quite expensive. Years of pregnancy and breastfeeding - simultaneously, for a time - sent me back to eating meat on occasion because I just needed the protein and calories. (Also, I've lived in Wisconsin for over a decade and have developed an appreciation for brats I never could have anticipated as a young, naive, veggie-lovin' quasi-hippie college student. Also beer. Mmmm beer.)

I've been reading a book called Animal Factory by David Kirby (link to the official website that is NOT AMAZON!!), and I'm learning a lot about CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) and their impact to the environment and rural communities, and the people who have fought tirelessly against the devastating pollution they have caused. (It's not just the smell, yo, it's pig shit in the water supply). I'm learning about how the laws and government are essentially set up to protect factory farms and large corporations instead of individuals and smaller, sustainable operations. I'm learning about how ineffective the EPA, USDA and FDA really are at both state and federal levels. I'm learning that it's not just Republicans responsible for this carnage, either, I might add. There are serious systemic problems that need to be addressed.

Anyway, it's a good read and I would recommend it to anyone. And in a section recounting a conference for sustainable farming that was held shortly after the 9/11 attacks, there was a transcript of a prayer by Saint Basil:

O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, even our brothers and sisters the animals, to whom you have given the earth as their home in common with us. We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised our high dominion with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to you in song, has been a groan of pain. May we realize that they live, not for us alone, but for themselves and for you, and that they love the sweetness of life.

I think that says it in a nutshell.

So Little Daniel, if you want to be a vegetarian, you have my blessing. You're already such a picky eater, I might as well adjust.

*I think there are other personal and philosophical reasons that Stuart's dad doesn't eat meat. I won't try to put words in his mouth or pretend that I can articulate the details and nuances of his reasoning here. But I think the broad reasons are essentially the same.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

weekend highlights

Last night I tried to remember the last time we (by "we" I mean our family of four) had the weekend to ourselves. I think it might have been the weekend of July 4, though we did go to a grill-out and were frantically getting the basement ready for Stuart's parents, so I'm not even sure that counts. Anyway, as lovely a summer as we've had, with family visiting from out of town and traveling and all that, it was really nice to have a whole weekend with no traveling, no visitors, and no social obligations whatsoever. It helps that the weather has been so gorgeous you can't help but smile.

My only goals were to get the house clean and go raspberry-picking. The house isn't clean yet, though Stuart made some headway on a major organizing project downstairs, a project involving a trip to Home Depot to buy a hammer drill and subsequent trips to the hardware store for miscellaneous screws and such. And we did go raspberry-picking this morning, out at Door Creek Orchard, which is really more of a place for apples than raspberries, but we came home with 4 pints (2 of which have already been consumed; fresh raspberries are like candy) and the happy feeling of having spent an hour outdoors in one of the prettiest spots in Dane County. I plan to return several times in the next couple of months to pick apples, buy cider and enjoy the scenery.

Also, the owners of the orchard recently adopted a puppy named Georgia. Georgia is a rescue dog, and happens to be The Cutest Puppy I have ever met. We were all taken by Georgia, especially Anya, who absolutely loves animals. This she must get from her dad. I never had a pet growing up - one brief stint with a wily Houdini-like gerbil notwithstanding; I'll tell you all about it sometime - and as an adult, I've never been interested in pets. Too smelly, too much hair, too much poop to clean up, cats make my dad sneeze, our house is small - you name it, I have the excuse. But Stuart had pet dogs growing up; that combined our daughter's magnetic and automatic attraction to anything remotely furry and cute gives me the rather foreboding feeling that my family will one day all turn on me and beg for a pet, in particular a dog. And if we can find one even half as sweet and soft and cute as Georgia From The Apple Orchard, I might, just might, give in. I dunno...dogs may be cute, but they still can produce a heck of a lot of poop.

While I'm going on about animals, I might as well mention that while I was running early this morning, I saw a gorgeous pair of birds. I was running on a bike path by a golf course, and a woman out walking her dog beckoned to me and silently pointed out two large, tall, gangly birds with long beaks and red markings on their heads. "Herons?" I said quietly to her. "Egrets?" she responded, and we both shrugged, then continued on our respective ways. When I got home, I looked them up in the "wading birds" section of my bird book, and the closest match was Sandhill Cranes. I tell you this as an example of how I love encountering nature in my city. We live near a conservation park, where we sometimes see wild turkeys wandering the restored prairie, and we often hear coyotes at night when the bedroom windows are open; they start howling in response to the sirens of emergency vehicles and the barking of neighborhood dogs.

We've been eating well, too, this weekend. Last night Stuart made fried tofu, breaded with cornstarch and spices. This afternoon, the kids and I cut two giant bowls full of fresh herbs to make pesto. We made two batches of traditional basil pesto, plus one batch of pesto made with parsley and sage. It's something I've never tried before, but I have an abundance of parsley this year, and I didn't want it to go to waste. It turns out, by the way, that parsley pesto is delicious. I'm not sure how to use it yet, but maybe I'll toss it with chopped tomatoes from the garden and chunks of fresh mozzarella.

We have one full week plus a few days before the school year starts. Wish me luck, everyone. I thought I was all ready for Daniel to start kindergarten, but it may turn out to be harder than I anticipated. He's ready, I know, and it will be good for everyone for him to be in school, but as much as I hate to admit it, I'm realizing that I have some emotions to work through. Enrollment for Madison's elementary schools was a few days ago, and I went completely unprepared. I ran into a friend of mine, who saw my shell-shocked face and offered to take Daniel and Anya to the playground outside the school while I went through the line of forms to fill out and volunteer positions to sign up for. I gratefully accepted. I think what's so hard is that life is going to change, mostly for the better, but there is no going back, and I just need to be ready for that.

I'm glad I have had this weekend to spend time with my family and relax a little, and think about all of that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

famine

This evening as I was fixing dinner, I reflected briefly on the abundance of produce we have now. Dinner was pizza made from scratch, with fresh tomatoes and basil from the front yard serving as the main toppings. As I grated cheese and sprinkled kosher salt on the crust, Daniel and Anya were playing outside in the sprinkler, ostensibly watering the front garden, but I think they had moved it to maximize their fun, which meant the water was mostly hitting the grass instead of the plants I really wanted watered. No matter, I thought lightly, as long as they're having fun. Life is good.

Then NPR's All Things Considered turned to a report on the drought and famine in Somalia, and the terrible crisis of starvation and displacement. The host spent several minutes interviewing a medical doctor with a distinct southern accent, who detailed the extent of over-crowded refugee camps, malnourished mothers, children on the brink of death, a measles outbreak, and the difficulty addressing these problems with corrupt governments, renegade military officials and regional bureaucracies standing in the way. This doctor pointed out that the U.S. spends a fraction of a percent of its total spending on foreign aid, and to raise that number even a little bit could save many lives and make a big difference in this crisis. This doctor also implored listeners with a little cash to spare to give to any organization they trust to help alleviate the tremendous suffering in the horn of Africa.

As I listened to this interview, I was washing lettuce. Pulling the leaves out of the bowl of water, I paused and listened to the doctor on the radio tell how hydration treatments (water fortified with vitamins) could bring children back from the brink of death, and one treatment cost less than a penny. Here, I had an entire bowl full of water, enough to save a child's life, that I was about to pour down the sink. Consumed with guilt and sadness at my own naiveté, I took it outside to water some plants, though even that seemed frivolous since they were only flowers.

The interview concluded. "Thank you, Dr. Frist," the NPR hostess said, and then I realized why his southern twang was so familiar. This wasn't just any doctor. This was Dr. Bill Frist, former Republican Senator from Tennessee, the sort of guy I loved to hate when he was in office. That was during the Bush years, of course, when it was easy for people like me to rant and rave and despair at the things being done in Washington in the name of politics.

But it should come as no surprise, really, that Bill Frist is a real human being. I couldn't abide him as a politician, and I remember my husband and me saying, more than once, how could a medical doctor, a man of education and - supposedly - scientific and medical training, in good conscience stand so firmly against things like the reality of global warming and evolution and a woman's right to choose what happens to her own body and all that other stuff the right loves to hate? I suppose that is what separates the man from the politician. And also, he's presumably a rich guy who loves his low taxes and was willing to go along with all the rest of it to stay in office and gain prominence.

The super-cynic in me wants to know where Bill Frist the Senator stood on things like money spent on foreign aid and foreign policy for rogue governments like the one in Somalia before this crisis. The super-cynic in me is also curious to know what he will gain with his new non-profit and initiative to help the people there in a very public way. But I am setting all that aside now to say that until I knew who he was, I felt nothing but respect for this man, who is willing to go to one of the most miserable places on the planet to help people who are so desperate they are practically beyond hope. How many people can do that? I couldn't.

How many others are like him? Basically good people who - in my humble opinion- just don't belong on the political scene? Or people who, as politicians, get caught up in issues that really shouldn't even be a matter of national policy? Like LGBT rights and abortion and what is or isn't science...I don't know if it's more an indicator of our broken system or just the nature of politics or what. I tell you, the world is a crazy place.

Monday, August 15, 2011

summer's end

Summer is ending as fast as it started. We were only gone a week, but still there is a noticeable difference in the hours of daylight here. It's not so bright by 6:00 in the morning, and by a few minutes after 8:00 in the evening, darkness sets in pretty quickly. It doesn't matter how long I live up here in the "frozen north", as my family and extended family often refer to Madison, I will probably never get used to this. I certainly enjoy the weather - pleasantly warm days, cool nights and early mornings - but even now in mid-August, there is something about the daylight hours shortening and diminishing that has me braced for fall a little too soon.

This week I have to register Daniel at his school, and this time it is For Real School That Meets All Day, not just Preschool. He'll be spending most of his time away from home instead of most of his time with us at home. We are essentially ready for this, since too much time together usually results in whining and bickering and bad moods all around. It's still a big transition, though. I have a feeling the biggest adjustment will be for Anya, who has always, always had her big brother around to play with, to tell her what to do, and to help her get into trouble. Anya, for her part, will be in preschool three afternoons per week, where she can find her own identity and make more of her own friends. All this tugs at my heart just a little bit, but I can't imagine it any other way.

"What are you going to do with all your newfound free time?", a friend of mine asked me. She asked this not without irony because we all know that you never have as much free time as you anticipate. She, in fact, is in the exact same situation I am, kid-wise, with her oldest entering kindergarten, and her youngest enrolled in part time preschool, and feeling like for the first time in five or so years there might be time to breathe, or maybe even read a good book. The first answer that comes to my mind when people ask me this question is "Clean my house," but that is a pretty lame answer. Who wants to spend all their spare time cleaning? The second answer that comes to mind is "Maybe try to find some work accompanying," but that gets complicated fast with scheduling in time to practice and commute, and trying to work out how many after-school hours I would need to be available for playing in studio classes and such. It almost doesn't seem worth it.

Well. I can allow myself a little time to figure this out. In the meantime, I need to find both kids some proper school clothes before cooler weather sets in. Also, Anya needs new shoes yesterday because suddenly her little feet have grown bigger and none of her shoes fit anymore.

I remember back-to-school shopping when I was a kid. I loved it. I got to spend several hours at the mall with my mom and I got to pick out a whole pile of new clothes and we'd eat lunch in the food court. I always felt special. (I do not know if my mom remembers it this way; I think there were probably plenty of clothes-shopping trips where my little brother would run off and hide and we'd get tired and whine and it probably wasn't special at all, but that's not how I remember it now!). I remember that I would have a nice little pile of new clothes to wear and I wasn't allowed to wear them before school started, and it was really hard to wait. The first day, or even first week, of school, was pretty exciting.

Forgive me if I'm getting sentimental here. I've spent a lot of time reflecting on my childhood in the last week or two. For one thing, Daniel keeps asking me to tell him stories about when I was a kid. I can never come up with any good ones; maybe I wasn't a very interesting kid. But also, I spent the last week in south central Kansas visiting Stuart's parents and also visiting my extended family who were all in town for my cousin's wedding. One night we threw a party for my brother and his wife to celebrate their wedding, which was in Minnesota in December. Since none of the extended family could attend their actual wedding, we made a bunch of food and met at the family farm where many memories were made. We ate and talked and reminisced and visited a treehouse my cousin John built nearly 25 years ago in a hedge tree at the edge of a pasture. We watched the sheep run across a field. We watched the now-youngest generation of kids run around the yard much as we had done as the sun set.

That farm hasn't changed a whole lot since I was five and running around the yard. There's a new machine shed, I think, an old chicken coop is gone, and something else may have been added or torn down, but the landscape is essentially the same: same house, same rusty swing set, same huge vegetable garden (though I'm afraid the brutal heat and relentless drought scorched the earth and the garden produced very little this year and we won't even talk about the sorghum and soy crops because it's just too painful), same dirt road lined with hedge trees and yes, that old treehouse.

I spent Friday evening at another aunt and uncle's farm. They were hosting the rehearsal dinner for their daughter's wedding (my youngest cousin, who got hitched on Saturday). The groom's extended family were there, all from out of state, many from eastern states like Virginia and West Virginia. They had never been to Kansas before, or any place remotely like it. They were utterly fascinated by the farm, which seemed almost exotic. Much time was spent in the tractor shed admiring the machinery (my aunt and uncle are in possession of a rather large and impressive combine) and taking in the scenic view of fields and sky, the shed, and the windmill. Shortly before the food arrived, a storm rolled in. The Kansas sky is already impressive, but there is something amazing and humbling about watching dark clouds tumble across it. In minutes, the weather turned from warm and clear to blustery and dark and menacing. My aunt D cheerfully assured us that she had cleaned the basement in case we all had to go down to escape a tornado. Then the lights went out and we ate dinner in the dark.

Sometimes I miss Kansas. I didn't grow up there, but I still claim it as home, or one of my homes. It is the place where my ancestors made their home over a century ago. It is the place where many of my extended family (though not all of them) still live. I went to college there, met Stuart there. We even got married there ten years ago. I sometimes think if it weren't for the brutal summers and all the damn Republicans, I could actually live there.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

recall

Today is the big recall election day for six Republican state senators in Wisconsin. I'm in Kansas visiting family this week, but at the moment I am glued to the live feed on The Daily Page watching election results come in. I'm afraid it does not look good for the Democrats at this point in the evening. Of course, it is impossible to know right now what things will look like in the morning. Nothing has been normal in Wisconsin since the beginning of the year. I may be discouraged and cynical now, but it's important to remember that the struggle for people's rights is long and hard-fought. Giving up is not an option.

Friday, August 05, 2011

solidarity singalong

You don't hear about Wisconsin politics in the news so much anymore. There is certainly a lot to be discouraged about, now that Walker's had his way on so many pieces of legislation (the budget, the union-busting, the voter ID bill). But just because there aren't 100,000 people marching peacefully on the streets and through the Capitol in a snowstorm doesn't mean this is over, or that the citizens of Wisconsin have given up.

In March of this year, right after the mass protests ended with the DOA's lockdown of the Capitol building, someone began daily noontime sing alongs to keep a constant presence there. I've been a few times (and blogged it here back in April). Now, several months later, the Solidarity Sing Alongs are still going strong. I hadn't been in a long time, but JoyMama's post on Elvis Sightings last Wednesday detailing the Attack on the Red Balloon inspired me to go.

To get y'all up to speed, red heart balloons have been an important symbol of protest since the first march on the Capitol on Valentine's Day. One mylar helium balloon was stuck in the Capitol dome for months. When it finally came down on its own, people started bringing balloons to the noon hour Solidarity Sing Alongs and delivering them to legislators with notes as a form of protest. When a woman was delivering a balloon last Tuesday, a man working for the DOA actually attacked the balloon with a knife, stabbing himself in the process and leaving blood all over the floor. He was arrested a couple days later. Really, you should go read JoyMama's post about it; she explains it much better.

I bribed the kids with a trip to the children's museum downtown (which is right across the street from the Capitol, conveniently), then gave them a bag full of snacks to eat while we sang in the Rotunda.



It's amazing and uplifting to participate in the Sing Alongs. I love to sing (in groups), and the feeling of, well, solidarity is really something special. We raise our right fists when we sing the chorus to "Solidarity Forever!"



There are some wonderful signs and banners, too.





Next week, the perseverance of anti-Walker activists are put to the test. August 9 is the date for recall elections for six Republican state senators who stand with Walker and his policies that go against the public good in so many ways. Three Democrats are up for recall as well. If we can keep those three Democrats in the senate, and take over just three of those Republican seats, it will be a huge victory for the people of Wisconsin.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

10

Ten years ago today, Stuart and I got married. That's a whole decade, yo, and whenever I think about it, I get that surreal feeling of how ten years feels like a long time, while at the same time feels like it went really fast. We were living in Madison at the time, but got married in Kansas, where we'd gone to college together, and where many family and friends lived at the time.

This weekend we are leaving to spend a week in Kansas, where my cousin is getting married. I've been complaining to anyone who will listen that it would be nice to go there NOT in the blazing heat of summer, but heck, we got married in Kansas in August, so who am I to judge?

We never got to take a honeymoon because at the time we couldn't afford it, and then by the time we might have gotten around to it and could afford it, we had kids who were -and still are - too young to leave with anyone for more than a day and too young to take along and still enjoy ourselves.

We didn't plan anything big to celebrate, just dinner out. Unfortunately, that just got canceled because Daniel has a fever. I have to admit I'm really disappointed. It's been an incredibly busy summer with the basement remodeling wrapping up and lots of visitors from out of state. And no preschool. I've hardly had time to sit down and read a book, much less have a night off. Oh well. We can always re-schedule for some other night. I've got a fridge full of zucchini I've got to figure out what to do with anyway.

Well anyway, one disappointing day really doesn't matter in the scheme of things. It's been a great ten years with Stuart, and I'm looking forward to the next ten! Maybe one of these days we'll get to take a real vacation by ourselves!