a new tab

This morning, I spent a little time reading about the seven mistakes all new crafters make when they open up an Etsy shop. It has been on my mind this fantasy of having my own little studio but could I really? Would anyone be interested in pottery made by me in an overly saturated market or when a trip to Target could easily yield some cheap and cheerful pieces? My friend, Lyndsay, suggested yesterday that I think about making my pottery and sharing it with the world (or at least with those in the world willing to bring misshapen ceramics into their lives). The mistakes in starting a craft shop are many including: not having enough pieces in the gallery, not utilizing search engine optimization, not having consistent or clear branding, not taking photos that are staged well and, therefore, not allowing the created pieces to shine. I am about to make all of those mistakes.

You might have noticed that there is a new tab at the top of the blog called “pottery shop.” I am about to make all the mistakes here in branding and making my shop a presence in this fast-paced world of social media. BUT I also feel like having been a teacher now for almost ten years (WOW, how is that even possible), has demonstrated countless times  the power of learning by doing. So here we go. I am going to do a lot of changes to that tab’s format, layout, structure, but the heart will always be the same to share these little pieces coming off the wheel.

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A funny mother’s day

Last year’s Mother’s Day was a little silly. In some ways, these holidays in which we  pause and share some extra love to a parent can be a little bit of a set-up. Maybe it is just me, but I imagine a day of laying in bed late (like 9AM-10AM late) followed by everyone getting along, no messes, no fuss, and lots of indulgences. And while much of this could in theory happen you cannot take the Mother out of Mother’s day. And there is the set-up. I love my kiddos and husband with every ounce of my being but no day will ever go by without a little fiasco on the spectrum of silly, family drama. When you have a 2 year old and a 3 year old, it is inevitable and the more you can embrace it, the more likely you will laugh when it unravels. Ironically, this year’s Mother’s Day came pretty close to perfection and awesome-sauce. David made my favorite Dutch pancakes with homemade whipped cream, we enjoyed a stroll through Cambridge to a little coffee shop for a latte, ate too much for second breakfast including chicken and waffles at Tupelo, and then headed home for nap time for the boys and pottery for me. Tantrums were at a minimum and family time was a delightful maximum. But last year’s Mother’s Day was definitely more “eventful.”

Brunch is my favorite. Breakfast at an in-between hour full of delicious decadences like ricotta cream pancakes and honey lattes and I am ready to go! Last year, Henry was two and Owen just turned one. I thought I was in the “sweet spot” of motherhood. No more breast-feeding and two independent kiddos to dine out with. Today, I can look back and say that was a good time but this current situation is even sweeter. But anyway, back to last year:

Owen was a gaggy kiddo. Seriously, every single meal Owen would eat some random thing and begin to epically choke. He would purse his lips out, make a growl, and look as though a second more he would pass out. Typically, I would panic, grab him, flip him upside down, and bang on his back. There was a 50% chance that he would dislodge the the item (be it a morsel of chicken or a crumb of bread or a spoon of applesauce) and continue enjoying his dinner as though nothing had just occurred. The other 50% of the time he would vomit his dinner up and then continue to enjoy his dinner as though nothing had occurred. Either situation left me sweating and exhausted from the roller coaster of panic to disgust to confusion over what I should clean first. We never made it through a single meal for months on end without this kid having a good ole choke.

So why did we think brunch on Mother’s Day would be any different? Well, I held out hope that the stars would align and Mother’s Day would be special and therefore if he only ate truly soft items or stuck to purely liquid foods we would make it through brunch at the cottage in Wellesley without an issue. We sat at the table amidst a crowded dining area filled with loads and loads of moms and children of all ages. We ordered and chatted and mostly maintained a state of calm with the kids and a handful of little table toys. Owen was to eat some scrambled eggs and I was ready to sip my latte and have some crab cake Benedict. The meal went on like this for maybe 30 or 40 minutes and I remember sighing and thinking: Wow, this is amazing.

And then it happened. Owen’s breath caught in his throat, he was choking on barely a finger-nail sized piece of mushy scrambled egg! HOW COULD THIS BE HAPPENING?!?!? I tried not to panic. This was routine and like a well-practiced, first-responder I hoisted him out of his chair, tipped his head toward the floor and administered a solid thud thud to his back. The egg flopped out and placing him back in his seat, it seemed like the crisis was averted. Taking the napkin to the egg bit on the floor, I sat back up in my chair just in time for it. Owen’s choke was the 50% in which he lost his breakfast contents. He spued the contents of his baby breakfast which somehow multiplied on the way out all over himself and the plate in front of him. I WAS THAT MOM!  How could I have come to a fancy-ish brunch with a sick kid? Except everyone at my table KNEW he wasn’t sick, this was standard non-sick behavior. I did the only thing I could think of. I sacrificed every clothe napkin on the table to cover his spillage and then stripped him naked to his diaper. I took his clothes and asked David to throw them in the garbage in the bathroom. As though a Navy Seal on a covert Op, David snuck off to complete his assignment. No use saving that little shirt and pant if our dignity was also gone! The waiter came back to the table and you could see he was pausing. You could almost read his mind saying, “Something happened here.” The baby was naked but everyone else was dressed in button-downs or sun-dresses, everyone was nervously laughing and in unison we asked for the check!

We walked out into the sunny parking lot like we had just sprung from jail and raced to the car as though anyone from the restaurant would follow us. Buckling the kids into the car, we turned on the ignition and looked at each other the only way parents do when you are simultaneously thinking: this is nuts, WTF, and I love this family.

watch out blue apron

A new Stop & Shop opened about 2 miles from my house. What makes this extra appealing isn’t just a new grocery store in suburbia, but it has a drive-thru Starbucks too! Yes, we are living the mom dreams over here in the Metro-west. And to make this sell even more desirable, the first kiosk when you enter the pristine grocer is a section of curated dinner preps. It is exactly like those meal delivery services like plated, one potato, and blue apron minus all that packaging waste! One bag filled with all the ingredients needed to prepare a quick, delicious home cooked dinner. Just grab the bag and head home and have dinner prepped and ready in approximately 20-30 minutes. As a working mamma, this is life-saving. A habit has recently formed in which this “meal kit” dinner is our Tuesday night cuisine.

Tuesdays are a bit of a hustle. It is after Monday which is always tough. Anyone else feel more tired on Tuesday than Monday? I guess Monday I run on adrenaline but Tuesday my body is like, “Oh hey we have to do this again?” And then after getting home from my hour long, traffic-filled commute it is time to get dinner on the table before I sneak off to pottery class. In an attempt to not only eat pizza quesadillas or frozen chicken fingers,  this Stop and Shop “kit thing” has been awesome! And David liked it so much he requested it join the dinner rotation and therefore, it is appearing here on the blog for posterity, since unless I log it, I will forget all about how to make it (and of course I threw out the recipe card because I am such a purger!).

Pork Chops and Sweet Potato Hash

2 bone in pork chops (or more if needed)

Salt and pepper

1 sweet potato

1 gala or honey crisp apple

thyme

honey

chicken broth (about a 1/2 cup)

3 strips of bacon

red onion

You will need two pan on the stovetop for this. In one pan, add some olive oil and bring to a medium-high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork and cook each side in the pan for about 4-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the chop. Once the pork is cooked remove from the pan and add in the chicken broth, some thyme, and honey. Stir and let simmer until reduced by half. This will become a nice deglaze sauce for the chops.  In the second pan, add some olive oil and diced bacon, apples, sweet potato, and red onion, and some more thyme. Cook for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Plate together and enjoy! Super simple, flavorful, and delicious.

Goodbye Class of 2018

Each spring, the seniors leave campus about a month before the year ends to go off and work on fun projects or in internships. Prior to their excited departure, we come together as a community to wish them well and bid them the beginning of a number of escalating adieus. The first is called “Senior Send-off,” and it is one of my favorite events. The students dress in their college gear, faculty share some encouragements and wisdoms, and the sixth graders sing to the departing class and give each member a white rose, and they are off. This class was special. But I probably feel that way honestly about each class. There is something so beautifully sad to watch a group of young people grow, learn, challenge, and then move on. Some of them we will know about their next steps and others will choose to move into their future without turning back. Regardless, I will miss this group and wonder what they are up to and what cool things they are trying out and who they are becoming. It was a complete honor to address them yesterday. It makes saying goodbye even harder:

“Nine years ago in my first year of teaching here at Beaver, I used to have this recurring dream, or nightmare really. Standing in my classroom, working through some lesson about how History is the most important subject you will ever know, Mr. Hutton would walk into the room and say, “That’s enough. Thank you for trying.” I was suffering from a severe case of “Imposter Syndrome.” Being a teacher was new, different, and uncomfortable and everyday I felt like I was making mistakes, lots of mistakes.

That is where you come in, as your Grade Team Leader and teacher, you have been my greatest teachers in the art of perseverance. Recent pundits have described you, the Class of 2018, as risk averse. They say that as “young people raised in a post-2008 Recession America, you witnessed the loss of 9 million jobs along with 8 million homes due to foreclosure.” You have seen that the cliff really does have an edge. They describe you as “careful realists.” After reading this, I got defensive. The pundits have it all wrong. I have learned to make mistakes and be risk-ready and risk-willing by watching you embrace the line between the well-beaten path and the unexpected outcome. These last four years, I have seen first-hand your self-directed and confident pursuit of your academic passions. It is cliche for an older generation to be concerned about the rising one. But I am not concerned about you.

You have shaped this community. Your imprint on Beaver will be long-lasting because you drive the change we see in the hallways through your willingness to take on new initiatives, to become entrepreneurs, to adhere to service, to attend conferences that challenged your perceptions on race and identity and inclusion, to lead dialogues, to walk out, to get messy in a design process not knowing exactly what your deliverable would be on the other side, to travel to distant places in order to bridge relationships, to build teams on the turf, to share your soul on the stage, and to always make it to class on time (mostly).

Harvard Business Review has noted in various articles that “men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.” When the women were asked about this, it was discovered that those who weren’t applying believed they needed the qualifications not just to do the job but to get hired in the first place. They didn’t see the importance of advocacy, relationships, and a creative approach to framing one’s expertise. These are three skills you have in spades.  As someone who was once quite risk averse and as someone who is lucky enough to watch students every day question, react, respond, and defy, I know you have that mindset. So I have a few hopes for you the Class of 2018:

That you remember the relationships you have fostered here.  That you continue to trust yourself. That you never stop asking questions, lots and lots of questions. That you are not afraid to ask for help. And that you never take yourself out of the game, even if you don’t feel qualified. In teaching many of you this senior spring, I saw the importance of laughter and of not taking ourselves too seriously. Because let’s be serious, our classes together got a bit ridiculous and your pranks made us all laugh (and roll our eyes). So stay playful. It’s your best quality. And remove from yourself that false expectation of perfection.  As the author Daniel Pink notes, “Make excellent mistakes.” It will bring you closer to yourself, to others, and to that destination you feel yourself moving towards every day. Dare to dream, dare to reach, and dare to be daring. Thank you.”