Leaving on the midnight train

When I woke up this morning I was missing a child. Eric had taken little Eric with him to school, where they watched the U.S. World Cup game instead of Eric teaching his class. It's hot. Too hot to teach, too hot to run, too hot to do house work, too hot to pack up your life.

We took a little trip to Atlanta this weekend. We visited the Atlanta Federal Reserve, who wants the rights to my husband for the next two years. I'm reluctantly -VERY reluctantly- handing him over, in exchange for a decent salary, health benefits and a shot at teaching position at a good school when he's done. Which he promises will be in two years, three at most. But I've heard promises like that before.

While Eric was being fingerprinted at the Fed to make sure he's not a crazy Arab terrorist (I tried to tell them I'm the crazy Arab in the family but they didn't listen), the kids and I watched through a glass wall while little robots with names like Abe and Felix wheeled huge amounts of cash up and down a dreary hallway. We learned that the Atlanta Fed shreds ten million dollars worth of unfit currency every day. I sometimes feel like that's what they're doing to my life, but I didn't tell them that.

We drove around Atlanta looking at house after house, trying to find one that I could actually see myself living in for the next two years. After two days, our best option had a rent double our mortgage here and, brace yourselves:

The front door opened into a closet.

Really, really.

Eric is still wishing we had snapped it up, but I had to draw the line somewhere. I will give up my home, my friends, my everything here in North Carolina but I WILL NOT ENTER MY HOUSE THROUGH A CLOSET. No, no, no!

Needless to say, I've done a lot of crying over the past few days. I'm a roots girl. I hate travel, I hate moving, I hate the end of the school year, all of it.

Someday I'll sink my roots down deep and never have to dig them up. That's what I keep telling myself, at least.


Teacher of my heart,

*This year, just like every year, I have cried and probably will cry a lot more over the end of the school year. I decided to write something that would express at least some of my feelings for the incredible teachers who have blessed my children's lives thus far.

Please, forgive me for the inadequacy of the little wrapped package in my son's backpack this morning. I know you must have lotion and candles to last you several lifetimes.

I wish I could give you a gift worthy of the one you have given me. I wish I could give you a room full of trophies, ribbons and framed diplomas. Except, instead of commemorating degrees and honors, there would be one for every moment of triumph when a reading concept has clicked; one for each argument you have compassionately helped settle, one for every tear you've dried, and every confidence-restoring hug you've given.

I wish I could give you a crystal ball that you could look into and see my son as he moves through the defining moments of his life. The day he gets his driver's license; his first day of his first job; the first time he holds his very own baby. You will be there, in all of them, because of the imprint you've made on his heart in one short school year. You did more than teach- you valued, you encouraged, you inspired.

I wish I could give you a paycheck that could compensate for all the early mornings you would have rather stayed in bed; all the expensive sweaters you never bought, all the dinner party conversations that passed you by because your job was not high-powered or prestigious in the world's eyes. You saw beyond that. You chose to listen the voice inside you that said your life's work was the most important thing in the world- the work of nurturing, guiding and shaping human beings.

There were days and weeks that I was not what I should have been for my son, when I fell short in my fulfillment of the sacred duties of motherhood, and on those days you were there- a refuge, a safe harbor, a wise friend. Where my words of praise were taken for granted, yours rang truer because you didn't 'have' to love him, and his confidence has blossomed under your care.

Of course I know that no tissue-wrapped present can ever repay the sacrifices you've made and the gifts you've offered. There is only end-of-the-year present worthy of a beloved teacher, and you have that already. It's the pure love that only a child's heart can feel.

Thank you, from the bottom of my soul. Though his memories of you will blur with time, the love and acceptance you have shown him is a part of him now. And I will never forget that.



Brigham went out to gather eggs the other day. I noticed he was wearing only underwear, so I wasn't surprised to hear Eric stop him at the door. He told him to put shoes on...

Let it never be said that our hens lead an uninteresting life. And do let it be said that they are fabulous pets. Yummy eggs every day for very minimal effort and almost no cost. We have two loyal customers who buy the extra eggs and just about cover the cost of the feed. Eric built the coop out of free scraps he found around town. And they're such fun to chase around the yard! Plus it adds to our aura of quirkiness- always a good thing.

Did I ever mention that I took a pottery class in January and February? It was fun and now we have some cool things to eat and drink out of. I think I'll make that a yearly tradition- a fun class to bring a little joy to those dreary winter months.

Did I also mention that I tried my hand at gardening this year? I picked a patch of dirt where weeds seemed to grow extra fast, poked some holes in the dirt, threw in some seeds that my cousin sent me in the mail and see what happened?! They grew!! I'm already dreaming of next year's garden...