Thursday, November 24, 2016

6th Grade Poetry Assignment

Where I Am From

I am from the electric blanket,
from the Hostess and lemon-ginger tea.
I am from steep staircases.
(Splintered, warped, salt-dusted grey.)
I am from the blazing maple tree,
the browning pine,
both leaving their discards
crunching underneath my feet.

I am from Christmas and hilarious,
from Burke and Pollock and McFeat.
I am from the belting of Happy Birthday
and lingering around a round table.
From don’t-make-me-come-up-there
and don’t-you-spill-don’t-you-spill.
I am from kindness and caring.
Sending both out in hopes to ease
and be eased.

I am from Viking ships and windy hills,
swirl cookies and spice bars.
From the flat tire dad had and
how he was sure he had missed my arrival.
And the dance he had whenever I came home.
I am from the brown and gold album
with the pages too full and sliding out,
the images and memories fitting perfectly-

though not always neatly- in my heart.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

I Never Had a Big Sister Until I Went to MHC

Yes, I know I talk about my college too much. It comes up as often as possible. Not to brag or annoy, but because it is like a num num. It is still, besides my children, the most amazing thing I have ever done (and I have parasailed and ziplined and eaten an apple turnover AND a donut at the same this is big).

I went to revisit Mount Holyoke this weekend as I do every Fall with my bestie. Sometimes we end up there in Spring, too. We talk of bringing our kids there to run around and soak it in. I think I may go again next month with another friend/Alumna and her girls. I keep going back because of one reason: Mount Holyoke believed in a girl who did not believe in herself. (That'd be me) It is a place that centers me and recharges me. 

All my friends from college probably know this. Anyone from the college offices who have thanked me and asked me why I volunteer for them will hear me gush about the reason why. I am sure I have shared it with friends I have met since my years at MHC. Mount Holyoke took a chance with me and knew I could make it.  It was a total right-on move of theirs and I will never, ever stop thanking them. Ever. And it will make your ears bleed from listening and your eyes ache from rolling, but I won't even be embarrassed. That school is like the coolest older sister EVER. And I will tell everyone about her. She is my legend. She was the clearest mirror I have ever had in my life. So I go back there and I wander and I re-look at myself in that mirror and damn my ass looks good. You know? (not literally....well....yeah, maybe it does there. But I was using that as an analogy or metaphor or euphemism... something...)

I used to wander the campus junior and senior year with my friends saying, "I love this school and all it has taught me!!! (stage whisper) but I kinda want to be a mom, still." I was paranoid that my staying home once I had children would let the school down somehow. Some serious pioneers have graduated from there. And my alumna friends talk about how little we feel we have accomplished once we have read the class notes and learn about an alum building a school in a third world country out of reinforced, organic popsicle sticks, harvested sun power and a dream. (Wellllll, no. But some pretty amazing stuff.) But then I go wander the campus and feel a big sister harsh knuckle punch to the arm in which the college says "No, dweeb! Just impart who you are in the world. Give something and be smart about it!" I need that yearly punch in the arm.

MHC has no size or color or religion. She has them all. She has no judgements. She has diversity...not just of people, but of sweatpant styles and approaches to friendships. She is here and there and anywhere you want to be. She doesn't parent, you see. She big sisters. She gives you a funny look when you suggest something and then shrugs an "OK". She teaches you the lesson by making you go through the fire rather than preventing the fire as a parent might. She watches us stumble and fight and picks us up when we fall.... she doesn't dust us off, but throws us back in the center and says, "GET IT!! GET IT, YOU PUNK!!" or at least that is what she did for me. What she does for me still.

So I am back. I am feeling better after a weekend of non drama with my friend and a quick under arm pinch from the school. My head has cleared and my worries have lessened. If I made it through those 4 years of growth, development, and change unscathed and a better person, I can make it through life right now. Of course I can. And I am re-commited to being the kick-assiest. Not sure what that means exactly, but it will contain getting out there, outside of myself, and doing some great things.

And now, some inspiring words from Mary Lyon, the founder of Mount Holyoke College:

If anyone thinks he has no responsibilities, it is because he has not sought them out. 

There is nothing in the universe that I fear, but that I shall not know all my duty, or shall fail to do it. 

Go Forward, Attempt Great Things, Accomplish Great Things.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dirty Conscience

Oh....the guilt.
And yes, I have heard all the reasons why I should feel no guilt and they all make sense to me, but who would I be without the guilt? Surely not Kate Laird, I tell you.

Surely....not Kate Laird.

I was overwhelmed.
I went from a job I could balance to one that I became a wee bit obsessive about. This is why I knew I shouldn't take a head teaching job. I mean, I know myself. I know my crazy.
Don't poke at it!
But I poked and was not getting everything accomplished outside of teaching, prepping, driving and feeding.

I finally conceded, "OK! Fine. We will get house cleaners. But they have to wear shirts!"

My husband looked at me sideways in the car, "OK. Good idea."

"You know what I mean. I want some sort of uniform."
"Wow!" He was shocked. "I never thought I would hear a demand like that from you."
"They can't wear something I would wear because then it should obviously be me wearing it and cleaning my own durn house!"
"OK. Monogrammed shirts."
"Stop judging me."
"I am not judging you. I am loving you."
"You are judging me and laughing at me."
"I am doing neither. Well, I am laughing because you are feeling so guilty when you shouldn't be."

I did some on-line searches for a company and read posts in local groups I belonged to. Things like "If you are looking for a house cleaner, please consider X! She is great and we have had her cleaning for 15 years!"
And I would think: 15 years? Poor X! Leave her alone, damn you! Stop pimping her out. (sob) Let the woman rest!

I saw ads for a cleaning company we tried before and would zip by them. I couldn't call them again. One woman was wearing a flowing skirt I had eyed at TJMAXX while cleaning my house. Why, Kate, did you not just buy the friggin' skirt and come home and clean your own house? You are the worst.
You deserve no TJMAXX skirt ever again.

My husband found a company and pointed out to me the shirts they wore on the website with joy!

shut up.

And then he pointed to the car they would drive with a matching logo!

shut up.

We will call them.

We set up an initial cleaning which would be a payment per hour to get it up to "their code".

shut up.
(This was going to be a judgement in what I end up paying!)

Then we could pay a per visit fee.

The first thing that the team did was throw out my husband's bar of soap I had bought him that was jet black. Upon finding it missing in the shower, I wrung my hands and said "They assumed we had moldy soap! They assumed we were THAT BAD based on what they had to do to this house to get it up to "their code" of clean.
Oh my lord.
I can never meet these people.

I run around and clean before they come most times.
Of course I do.
It is quite motivating.

This Summer we are all home. I plan an outing each week so we aren't "underfoot" (read: shamed in person) when they arrive. I literally have a backdoor plan should they arrive before we abandon ship and wait out their window of appearance.
I am so serious about this.
(My husband has given up on me.)

The few times we do meet- the faces are often different the times I have been home- there is always a warm smile from those who have warm smiles or a business hello from those who are all business. I can't find judgement in their eyes....well I  could if I searched long enough or dwelled on it as only I would (and do).
They have arrived to work and are doing their job.
I get it.
I am sure no one feels guilt for my giving a refresher mini lesson on dividing fractions to their children, nor do I heave a heavy sigh when editing writing with a student.
I need to get over it.

But I won't.

Or maybe I will?

(I won't.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Little B, Little B

I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew something was missing...
Then, in my heart, I knew I had found that piece.

In a flash of brilliant sunlight, made up of all the world's kindness, the most earnest of hearts came forth on a Summer day:

Little B.

I thought that after he joined us we would feel the pull of the door close on our family. 
Instead, we all opened wide.

Brendan brought in the ham. 

He brought in the endless optimism we had never found so frequently in ourselves. 
He brought in possibilities.

He finds excitement in every day, in every thought, and in every opportunity.
He looks damn good in a suit, and he knows it.

B is number 3, and that suits him just fine. He took naps when he could find them.

He remains a lover of snuggles to the point that he named his teddy bear Snuggles.




Brendan is fascinated by emotion. He is the first comfort responder when there are tears. 
It was from his suit's breast pocket that came a handkerchief when he saw my reaction to my father being placed into the ground. 
He held it up for me to take and rubbed my back, never losing eye contact. 
He was 6 years old.

He is just so beautiful.

Brendan is wonderful company.

He loves to climb in bed to read to us.


He plays with those available to him, allowing himself to be outnumbered.

Brendan is a fortunate friend to have.

He jumps into any frame where the action is packed (or attention is focused).

Always needing to be seen.

Which has lead to his selfie craze...



which has yet to end.

We are amazed that he always achieves what he sets out for, whether it be a raffles basket, a vision made into reality, or a donut float he is unable to use anywhere.



                         (or cake at 10pm)

He also is so self-reflective. He explained to me one day that it is the getting that he loves more than the thing itself. He loves to win, but what he wins just fades after the excitement dies down. 
"Isn't that funny?" he asked. 
"I find it interesting." I said. 
"Yeah. That, too."

Little B, Little B. 
You are going to shine in the world. 
We are thankful we get to witness your life.
It is sure to be our favorite story ever to watch unfold.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Oh wow.
Hey look.
The beach weather is here.
Isn't that great?
About the beach weather?
It is.
I mean, I love swimming.
I love the picnic. The Pringles that are a part of our beach days.
I love the warmth and my kids' golding hair. Watching them swim and play and enjoy.

But I wonder.
I ask you.
What happened to this?

To this bathing suit?
Where did it go?
I am not sure it should have gone away.
Not in June.
Not in June with Irish skin and aging elasticity.
I think this suit would work well in June.
I get not wearing it all Summer.

Like for July, maybe this:

My friends and I could add this number to our beach rotation. 
That is OK with me. 
And we could take this fun picture all together? 
Who wants to? 
Want to get some of these bathing suits and take a fun picture? 
AND save our skin health the WHOLE time? 
Yes, me too.

Look at August! 

We are sharing a little more thigh. 
Look! A little more chest. 
That makes sense. 
Gather the last bits of vitamin D on the double Ds. 
(Or on the A minuses. Whatever.) 
We can end the summer in these outfits and have a real fun photo again. 
We can share it on Facebook with tags and location. 
It can read JCC! or Good Harbor! or Wingersheake-shake-shook whatever beach. 
And we could write it wrong like that! 
How funny to write it wrong while covering our thighs with these suits?!?! 
Let's do that.

I can't do it alone, guys. I can't old timey swimsuit alone. I will go too far. I'll be all 1850s and shizzle. With pantaloons. 

(Yes. Pantaloons.)

Beach weather. Awesome.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Lucky 13

On the day that you were born, your Da held you in long arms and loving gaze. He then went home and wrote you a letter. In that letter he said that the world was a better place for your being in it.


This is true.

Sweet Colleen, your very nature comes from the kindest of souls somewhere in our family tree.

Or perhaps you are the one to create its first root or its strong hold.

I have never known someone so calming as you.

I have never wanted to better myself in someone else's eyes as I have tried in your warm, deep blues.

I know I can be demanding.
I know that you are the reason I have learned to apologize.
I know that, for you, I have learned to outwardly accept myself.

You are quietly brave.
You are so amazingly funny!
You keep that close to you and I often dream that the world would see what we do.

Then I stop myself.
The world sees you as you want.

You've got this.


Your voice is so simple and sweet that when you sing, people listen to your warmth and feel your ease.

You are the best company one can keep.
You are the lighthouse in others' storms.

You question everything except your loyalty.

If I were 13, I would eat lunch with you and thank the world for you as my friend.


I did that 13 years ago when it was you and I in a new town.
I did that 9 years ago when your siblings were napping and we could sit together in the quiet.
I did that 4 years ago when we were starting in a new school and were both adjusting to it.

You accepted your role as big sister as you accepted your next breath. 

You are the peace-keeper.
You take the smaller slice.
You sit in the middle.
You give up your turn.

You suggest.
You encourage.

You are as selfless as humanly possible.

You have never been asked. It is simply your nature to nurture and appease.

You are the hearth of my heart.
I will always look for you.

In every school hallway, even after you have graduated.

On every couch with blankets and pillows on it, even after you have moved.

I will always look for you who became, in one day, my every breath, every joy, and every hug.

How did we get so lucky?