Wednesday, March 11, 2009

my Irish girl

I'm attempting to get ready for St. Patrick's Day - not that we are having any huge festivities or anything, but one of the most enjoyable perks of having a baby (aside from the joy of raising a child, having the most natural, amazing love for another human being etc. etc. - all the mushy stuff) is getting to dress the baby up in cute outfits, especially a baby girl.
So naturally, a holiday mandates a cute outfit, and normally the stores are full of overpriced onesies, t-shirts - the works. So it was much to my dismay to find nothing for St. Patrick's Day. I realize of course that not everyone is Irish, but it is a recognized holiday, and stores love to make a profit on baby stuff...
Plus, I must admit, I do have a bit of an alternative motive here as well. Being my daughter, she is Irish. Being my husband's daughter, she is Italian. I can almost guarantee you now that she will dote on the Italian side, just as I've seen my husband's cousins, with the same background do. Granted, the Italians have the upper hand with the constant family gatherings centered around all the fabulous food. My family has a hard time fighting that, but our tradition of hot dogs and mac and cheese (store bought, not even homemade) doesn't stand a chance. Plus, it would seem only fair that since Syracuse is proudly populated by both Italians and Irish that the heritages would stand on equal ground, but somehow, being Italian again gets the upper hand.
Why do I care? I shouldn't, I know, but it already bugs me that my in-laws put so much emphasis on their Italian heritage - perhaps because it's something I'm shut out of - as much as I'm there, it's not something I can really be a part of. I took an Italian class before my wedding so that I could give a speech in Italian to my in-laws at our rehearsal dinner. Still, I can understand some and speak even less, but my in-laws speak primarily Italian in their home, even when I'm there, and they don't often translate for me. My mother-in-law (whom my daughter is named after) takes care of her during the day, so no doubt my daughter will be bilingual - which is awesome. Still, it's a part of her that isn't a part of me, and that's difficult.

So back to my original line of thought - the St. Patrick's Day outfit. This is my holiday, and while my husband can't stand corned beef, he does at least appreciate the holiday. And his aunt is hosting a dinner on Sunday to celebrate St. Patrick's day, so all of my husband's family will be there and this is my one legitimate opportunity to remind them, subtly, through a super-cute outfit, that she's my daughter too, that she's part me, that there is life beyond being Italian.
So tomorrow, I'm off to Marshall's, outfit hunting... wish me luck (luck o' the irish, of course)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


So in following my new teaching mantra of not asking the students to do anything that I wouldn't do, I had to follow some of my own Transcendental instructions yesterday. After dragging my students through some of Thoreau's quotes from Walden, (Okay, some of them are budding transcendentalists, most of them looked like they'd been injured) we discussed the concept of simplifying our lives. I asked my students if they could simplify their lives, as Thoreau instructed, to 10 details or fewer - ten things/people/passions/things to spend on.
So here's my list:
my daughter
my marriage (those these two are inexorably tied)
learning/my education
family (beyond the three of us)
coffee (& the newspaper, though that's covered under reading, technically)

I'm looking at my priorities, and I think I'm okay with my list. It speaks volumes (especially since I see where I put teaching - though I've been having a rough week, so that might creep back up a little higher later - but at least it made the list...)
I'm now trying to keep these things in mind as I'm really stressed out. I'm on overload right now: work for my grad class, regular school work, creating materials for the professional development workshop I'm teaching in three weeks, my curriculum revision meeting tomorrow (never a peaceful affair), becoming a mentor (was just asked today to mentor the new teacher), working on my department presentation for next month - not to mention spending time with my daughter and my husband, hands down my two favorite, most important people in the whole world.
So where do I find balance in all of this? How do I keep my head above water? This is something I'd better figure out if I'm going to attempt a doctoral program next year. And I need to keep contributing at school, and I do really like this new way of teaching I'm developing - but it's way more active, which means I'm getting way less done during the day!
My first step - I've started setting my alarm 30 minutes earlier and I'm doing some yoga first thing in the morning. Did I mention that I haven't really exercised (if giving birth doesn't count) since I became pregnant a year and a half ago? So that's something I can do for me.
Balancing the rest of it? Well, I'm still working that out...