1. My mom bought these pretend food sets for Zach (who loves to cook) in France this week. Naturally, one of them is an “aperitif tray.” Can’t wait to teach him how to make & serve us canapés and cocktails. Finally gonna start earning his keep around here!

     

  2. After a fairly quick and easy transition with Zach this morning at escuelita (I mean, they didn’t call me to come back so I assume he didn’t lose his shit when I left), I got a coffee, went to the park and sat in the sun, reading a book and listening to Carcass and Napalm Death in my headphones. If there’s a better way to spend a beautiful fall day when your big kid is off at big kid school and your little one is demonstrating his new-found independence from you, I can’t think of one.

    There are a lot of days when I envy women with careers, but today was a rare, happy day when I did not regret my decision to not lean in.

     

  3. I had a great time tonight being stupid with old friends, but now I remember that my younger kid is going to get up in 90 minutes and expect me to interact with him. I should have just stayed at my friend’s house, huh? At least I could have slept in a bit.

     
  4. Day 2 of preschool. Remains unimpressed. Here he is, declining to participate in circle time. “Don’t like dose babies, mama.” This experience is really making me appreciate Milo’s social qualities.

     
  5. thinkmexican:

    Paloma Noyola: The Face of Mexico’s Unleashed Potential

    When a report emerged in September 2012 that a girl from one of Matamoros’ poorest neighborhoods had attained the highest math score in Mexico, some doubted its veracity. It must be fake, they said.

    But it wasn’t fake. Her name is Paloma Noyola, and what most reports failed to mention is that almost all of her classmates also scored very high on the national math test. 10 scored in the 99.99% percentile.

    Paloma and her classmates also scored in the top percentile in language. Something special was happening at José Urbina López primary school in Matamoros, and Wired went to take a look.

    The high test scores turned out to be the work of a young teacher who also came from humble beginnings. Sergio Juárez Correa was tired of the monotony of teaching out of a book and wanted to try something new to help engage his students when he came across the work of Sugata Mitra, a UK university professor who had innovated a new pedagogy he called SOLE, or self organized learning environments. The new approach paid off.

    Although SOLE usually relies on unfettered Internet access for research, Juárez and his students had very limited access. Somehow, he still found a way to apply Mitra’s teachings and unleash their potential.

    From the beginning, Paloma’s exceptional abilities were evident:

    One day Juárez Correa went to his whiteboard and wrote “1 = 1.00.” Normally, at this point, he would start explaining the concept of fractions and decimals. Instead he just wrote “½ = ?” and “¼ = ?”

    “Think about that for a second,” he said, and walked out of the room.

    While the kids murmured, Juárez went to the school cafeteria, where children could buy breakfast and lunch for small change. He borrowed about 10 pesos in coins, worth about 75 cents, and walked back to his classroom, where he distributed a peso’s worth of coins to each table. He noticed that Paloma had already written .50 and .25 on a piece of paper.

    As Mr. Juárez implemented more of Mitra’s teachings in his classroom, Paloma continued to stand out as an exceptionally gifted student:

    Juárez Correa was impressed. But he was even more intrigued by Paloma. During these experiments, he noticed that she almost always came up with the answer immediately. Sometimes she explained things to her tablemates, other times she kept the answer to herself. Nobody had told him that she had an unusual gift. Yet even when he gave the class difficult questions, she quickly jotted down the answers. To test her limits, he challenged the class with a problem he was sure would stump her. He told the story of Carl Friedrich Gauss, the famous German mathematician, who was born in 1777.

    When Gauss was a schoolboy, one of his teachers asked the class to add up every number between 1 and 100. It was supposed to take an hour, but Gauss had the answer almost instantly.

    “Does anyone know how he did this?” Juárez Correa asked.

    A few students started trying to add up the numbers and soon realized it would take a long time. Paloma, working with her group, carefully wrote out a few sequences and looked at them for a moment. Then she raised her hand.

    “The answer is 5,050,” she said. “There are 50 pairs of 101.”

    Juárez Correa felt a chill. He’d never encountered a student with so much innate ability. He squatted next to her and asked why she hadn’t expressed much interest in math in the past, since she was clearly good at it.

    “Because no one made it this interesting,” she said.

    Although this Wired piece focuses mostly on Sugata Mitra, it does once again highlight the story of Paloma Noyola. Unfortunately, after a brief spurt of media attention, little on Paloma was ever mentioned and, as was pointed out by Wired, nothing was ever said of Mr. Juárez.

    As with most stories in the Mexican press — and those popular with the middle-class — things suddenly become very important once it’s featured in a gringo publication. Which is a very sad commentary. We hope, however, that this story pushes those in the press, state and federal government to look not to the United States for validation but to Mexicans like Sergio Juárez doing good work in places like Matamoros.

    The clear message in this story is that there are thousands of Paloma Noyolas going to school in Mexico who, just like her at one time, are not being challenged and therefore aren’t very interested in school. This story can, if we want it to, raise enough awareness to shift the discussion from poverty to opportunity.

    Paloma truly personifies both Mexico’s challenges and unleashed potential.

    Read the entire Wired story here: How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

    Editor’s note: As an addendum, Wired provided information on helping support Sugata Mitra and his School in the Clouds project, and although they donated school supplies and equipment to José Urbina López School, we’re interested in seeing if we can help set up a similar fund for Sergio Juárez, the teacher featured in this story.

    Also, $9,300 was raised to help fund Paloma’s education last year. We’re going to follow up with the economist who led the fundraising campaign to see how she’s doing. Stay tuned for the updates.

    Stay Connected: Twitter | Facebook

    (via neomexicanismos)

     

  6. It’s been a long week. After three days of getting both kids up, fed, dressed and out the door by 7:15am (Matt’s out of town so of course horrible insomnia kicked in and Zach woke up multiple times each might/up for good by 5:30 every morning), I realized that Milo’s hour-long school commute might be untenable for an entire year. I also started realizing that the after-school portion of the day was going to suck, especially once winter set in and hanging at the school playground wasn’t an option. I heard that there might be some open spots at a school a little closer to us, so after dropping Milo off at school, I dragged Z back to the train and went to investigate.

    I’ll save you the aggravating details (in short: no there’s no spot; yes there is please wait here; why are you here oh ok you’ll have to wait longer bc you need to talk to the parent coordinator and no I don’t know where he is [news flash, the PC at this school is useless!]; no there’s no spot; then, finally, wait a minute I’m going to do a physical headcount in the classrooms and see if there are any open spaces; yes there are, you have a spot!), but it was a long and aggravating morning that ended with good news. Except, of course, that I didn’t have Milo with me. “Oh you can’t register without the child.” (What’s the point of this rule?! You have proof of birth etc. Have people in the past fucked with the system for lulz or something? Like a bunch of 4chans kept showing up every summer and making up fake docs and registering fake kids just to post NYC DOE lulz? And finally the city was like, fuck these assholes now everyone has to bring their kid in person?) I explain that since I didn’t know if there open spots, I hadn’t brought my kid because I hadn’t wanted him to miss school. When I asked if I could just fill out some paperwork to take the spot and bring in Milo the next day, I got the “oh sorry we can’t register him unless he’s here and I can’t guarantee the spot until all of the paperwork is completed.”

    So off Z and I go, back on the train, back to BedStuy to pull Milo out of school. Back on the train to the new school, now with fully cranky toddler and confused four year old in tow. Paperwork, more waiting, more paperwork in between two year old screaming, all while I can feel my stuffy nose moving into serious sinusitis territory. BUT! We did it! We got a spot! At a school that is a mere 30 minute door to door commute, with a lovely teacher in a brand new pre-k classroom.

    Milo was much too weirded out by the day to jump into a new class mid-day, so I took them home, trying to fight off exhaustion and sickness, failing miserably but whatevs, man. That one day of shit has saved us a full year of misery and woe. Our commute this morning was so much better. Added bonus, his best friend goes to his new school, and there are several affordable after-school programs that are offered for pre-k kids.

    In other everything’s coming up Milhouse news, a spot opened up in the 2s program for Zach at Milo’s old preschool. Perhaps two mornings a week with other two year olds will help Zach to stop referring to other kids his age as “babies” (in a scornful and lofty tone like oh god look at those fucking BABIES would ya these babies should get a life amirite mama).

    This is all a very long-winded way of saying that I feel like I earned this night eating some left-over frozen pizza and drinking left-over wine and watching War Games on hbogo. And am thoroughly going to enjoy going out on Friday night with some buddies to see a double header of Shannon & the Clams/Liquor Store plus midnight show of Powertrip/White Lung.

    Most importantly though, Milo had a great day at his new school today. His teacher welcomed him with a big hug, and when I tried to say good-bye, he dismissed me with “you have to go now because I need to get ready to learn things.” He’s a pain in the ass, but I love him from to the outer reaches of the universe and back.

     
  7. Poor Sweet Baby. He screamed, cried and struggled so hard it took both myself and a nurse to hold him down so the Urgent Care doc could remove a glass sliver in his foot. After a few unsuccessful attempts, they almost sent us to the ER so he could be sedated. Finally got it out. He can’t/won’t walk on his foot yet, but should be fine by tomorrow. (I hope! He’s too heavy to carry around all day.) I’m still shaking though bc on our taxi ride home, a careless garbage truck driver almost caused us to crash into the wall of the expressway. The truck pushed us so far over that the side of the taxi was completely scraped up. Milo and I screamed, we braced for impact but luckily our cabbie was a good driver and didn’t lose control. To top it all off, the humidity today is triggering my asthma so I’m stuck puffing away on my inhaler. Can today just be over already please? And why did this have to happen during a week when my husband is out of the country? (at Casa de Chaos)

     

  8. Anonymous said: What about your husbands nationality?

    Goodness, really? His nationality (this does not mean what I think you think it means) is American. His cultural/ethnic/racial background (what I think you’re actually asking about) is Jewish (via ye old time honored Pale of Settlement to NYC by way of Ellis Island (yay something fun finally!) and Irish/Polish.

    I don’t get it. Am I about to be boycotted/lauded/a recipient of scholarships/chastised for cultural insensitivity or something?

     

  9. I occasionally get tagged in these things, but never have time or remember to do them. But here I am on a Friday night with husband out of town and mini-dudes asleep, so here goes:

    Rules: Insert your answers to the questions below. Then tag at least 10 followers or whatevs.

    • Name: Marina; lacabezadevaca on instagram

    • Birthday: April 19

    • Gender: female

    • Sexuality: haha I have two kids under 4

    • Height: 5’3.75 thank you very much

    • Time zone: EST

    • What time and date is it there: 10:15 pm on September 5, 2014.

    • Average hours of sleep I get each night: 8ish? But not all together because invariably someone wakes up

    • otps: Like momzilla, I googled this too. (I’m shamefully ignorant about pop culture things, although surprisingly knowledgeable about d-beat hardcore punk and early ’70s salsa) It’s a pairing of people in a thing you’re a fan of? I dunno, Nina and Patrick (what’s up australian tv!)? Is that how this works?

    • My most used phrase(s): Why is he crying

    • First word that comes to mind: fuckingjesuschristmotherfucker (said in my head before many interactions with my kids)

    • What I last said to a family member: I love you now please go to sleep before I become quite cross

    • One place that makes me happy & why: Hatteras, Outer Banks, NC. A place of much happiness and peace, plus beer drinking on the beach. See also, Culebra PR.

    • How many blankets I sleep under: Currently, one sheet. In the winter, several because I need the ambient temp in our room to be approx 24 degrees F.

    • Favorite beverage: Malbec wine.

    • The last movie I watched in the cinema: Captain America 2? Idk. I like to go to the movies by myself in the middle of the day, and I’m reasonably unpicky about this scheduling.

    • Three things I can’t live without: nonfiction books, hardcore shows, salsa/death metal depending on mood

    • Something I plan on learning: salsa dancing

    • A piece of advice for all my followers: Oh my god, I’m a horrible fuck up you would never want to take advice from me.

    • You all have to listen to this song: Skip steps one & three by Superchunk? Sonero Mayor by Wllie Colon? Your kid’s an asshole by Iron Reagan? Dramamine by Sebadoh? Cursed in Eternity by Mayhem? Idk, depends on what mood you’re in I guess

    Not tagging bc it seems like everyone I know on Tumblr has already done this

     

  10. We made it through the first day of public school, albeit pre-k style wherein the session only lasted one hour and the parents stayed in the classroom. Tomorrow I’ll drop him off at 8:15 and pick him up at 10:45. Monday starts the real deal day.

    Guys, Milo was amazing today. Introduced himself to a bunch of kids, built a goddamn house for a vampire (thoughtfully including a blood storage unit), and did not lose his shit or hold a grudge when this girl knocked his blocks over. I was quite proud of him! And you all know I’m kind of a jerk and not one to give out accolades freely.

    Still, the real stars of the day are two strangers and a dear friend. My friend Kristy, realizing that Matt was going to be out of town until next Friday, offered to watch Z so I could focus solely on Milo during this first morning. She even met me at the subway station because I was running late. Thank the gods for fellow-mama friends who embrace the “it takes a village” approach.

    Now, prepare this visual in your mind: citi mini stroller carrying a two year old toddler; a micro mini scooter and a folded up razor scooter dangling from the handle; two accompanying helmets, also clipped to the handle; a bag, laden with snacks and diapers and matchbox cars and cracker crumbs draped over the handle; there is also a 4 year old walking along side, and it is hot.

    We start to venture down into the subway after school. I get Zach out, try to talk him into starting to walk down the stairs by himself; he refuses. I sling my bag over my shoulder, I hoist Z up on one hip, I pick up one scooter then the other in my left hand, and prepare to carry down the stroller with my right. It’s precarious, and I’m sweating. Several people brush by me to hurry down the stairs. A gentleman swoops out of nowhere, tells me he’s got the stroller. He carries it all the way down into the stations. I thank him profusely, then realize that he’s going back upstairs. “My goodness,” I say, “you weren’t even coming down here? Sir, you have done a truly good deed.” He just laughs it off, says “oh don’t you worry about it, queen. You just have a blessed day and do something good for someone else.” Sir, I salute you.

    A few hours and errands later, hot and tired and even more bogged down with stuff, we attempt to transfer from the R to the f/g at 4th Ave. (For non-brooklynites, basically, this is a super shitty transfer involving several flights of stairs.) Zach is grumpy, refuses to vacate the stroller (I usually make him walk up the stairs on his own bc he’s two and it’s time to start pulling his weight in this family.) I start the wearisome process of removing and draping and carrying, make it up one flight, deposit stuff, go back down to retrieve heavy stroller with child inside. I make it back up, gird myself for 2 more flights. A dude comes down the stairs at that moment, asks if he can help. Haha no it’s cool, I say (I hate to be a bother to anyone), but he insists. Actually, I say, if you could carry these two scooters for me, it would be incredibly helpful. “I’ll carry those,” he says, “but I can also take the front of the stroller.” He does this all the way up two more flights of stairs, pausing to gently cajole Milo into continuing to the top. We get all the way up to the F/G platform, and i thank him profusely, especially when I realize that he’s going back down. “Aw,” he says, “it’s nothing…I don’t have kids but it looks hard. This is a terrible transfer and my mom didn’t raise me to look past people who need a little help.” Sir, I salute you and your mother. May I raise my own boys to be as respectful and solicitous of others.

     
  11. "Look, mama. I built a house. It’s a house for vampires. The front part is where they keep the blood." Seems like a normal thing to say in your pre-k classroom, right?

     
  12. First day of pre-k! This dude is stoked! (So am I!)

     

  13. Least favorite game of mine: why is this wet and what is wet with?

     

  14. We’re gearing up for the first day of school on Thursday. It’s only a 90 minute session for the pre-k kids, a kind of meet and greet of the teacher, so we’ll see the classroom, meet the teacher and half of the class, and I’ll stay with Milo the whole time. He’ll go by himself on Friday with the whole class for a half-day, then next week starts the full-time schedule of 8:15-2:25 every day.

    I was feeling pretty good about it until last night. He’s a really social kid, and he loved preschool and going to camp 5 days a week this summer. But the school he won a lottery place to is about a 50 minute subway commute each way, which means a long, early slog in the morning and afternoon (the latter done with a two year old in a stroller). I didn’t push too much to get him off the waiting list of our zoned school because they mostly do half-day classes. My thought was that a half-day schedule would be tough—with a PM session, we wouldn’t be able to do much in the morning bc I wouldn’t want to tire him out before school; with an AM session we’d be stuck with a long afternoon to get through. Then again, if we had a morning session, we could go to museums and do fun things together in the city.

    But last night I started thinking about the idea of him starting school full-time at 4 years old, with so many years ahead of him. And I worry that I accepted this program in a far off neighborhood over the half day option in our own because of my own selfish desire to not have to negotiate long hours at home with two maniacs. Milo going to camp full-time this summer was a real game changer for me. That daily breather from two young kids helped me to get back to a place, mentally and emotionally, where I enjoyed being a parent again, where I found actual pleasure in mothering, which in turn made me a happier person in general.

    So here I am, once again, struggling with guilt, and wondering if I’m doing the right thing for my kid or am I more motivated out of selfish desires for my own peace of mind. Ugh. I should call our school, shouldn’t I?

     

  15. Anonymous said: Are you Irish-American?

    This being Tumblr, I feel like if I say no, you’re going to tell me that I’ve acted in a culturally insensitive way to Irish-Americans since I’m not Irish-American. (Relax people, I’m just teasing. I actually love the social justice and cultural education scene and on here, it’s a big part of why I stick around. Don’t send me hate mail.)

    Anyway, I don’t really consider myself anything-American, tbh, just American. My father’s maternal grandfather was Irish (not sure if he was first or second generation though), and he married a Native American woman, so not a whole lot of Irish tradition/pride passed down through that line. My other ancestors (with the exception of my maternal grandfather, who immigrated here from Belgium when WW2 broke out) came over from England in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. Not too exciting, huh.