Snowball Fight in Adventure Field

Sometimes, we just have fun.

We’ve got a structured evening routine, here on Breaking Tradition, but it does leave room for fun and games.

For example, yesterday, I came home and read with Beanie while dinner cooked.  Then, after I ate, I got her started on “homework,” which meant writing a letter to a friend in Michigan. Then, after piano practice time, we played rhyme Dominoes.

After that, we had an hour until shower time.  What were a mother and daughter to do?

Well, we headed out to “Adventure Field.”  There are two good-sized grassy areas in the marina, and Beanie has named them Adventure Field and Chaos Field.  Last night, she wanted to go to Adventure Field.

We couldn’t find her ball, so we brought a bag of cloth “snowballs,” made by one of our friends in Michigan.   A fun (and funny!) evening ensued.












I hope your October is treating you equally as well!


In Praise of my Mischievous Child


I keep a secret from my daughter.  There is something I don’t tell her, when I’m giving her a time-out or discussing the reason for the bad report from her teacher.

I am secretly happy that she gets into trouble.

Beanie isn’t angry.  She doesn’t get in trouble for deliberately harming anyone.

What Beanie does is test limits.  She conducts social experiments.  She’ll put her hand on the fire alarm to observe her teachers’ reactions.  She’ll say a bad word, to see what happens. She hits her friends, because she thinks it’s funny.


Of course, we show her what happens when she crosses a line.  We don’t encourage her to “misbehave.”

But I still like that she does it.  I like that she believes enough in her own worth to be unafraid of making mistakes. She’s not afraid to try new things, make mistakes, and learn.

Can we say the same for ourselves?


I know that I have always been a people-pleaser.  I have always been terrified of doing anything that might offend, or lead someone to “not like me.”  Being socially shunned has always been my fear.

And because of this fear, I have been afraid to try. Better not to rock the boat, than to do something “wrong.”  And when I inevitably made mistakes anyway, it led to a ridiculous drama in my head.  I admonished myself for being so stupid, and spent more time regretting the fact that I tried something that didn’t work, rather than learning from it.


Beanie is not a people-pleaser.  She doesn’t feel the need to do anything or be a certain way in order to be loved.  Yet she also has no desire to hurt anyone’s feelings.  She realizes that her experiments won’t hurt anyone’ feelings, at least not in a way that a hug and an “I’m sorry” won’t fix.

Beanie doesn’t freak out when she makes a mistake.  She thinks no less of herself.  She merely  learns from it, and, if not, she repeats the “lesson.”  


And the most amazing part of it all?  While staying true to herself, Beanie DOES have a lot of friends.  In the three schools she has attended, she has been quite popular in all of them.  She is very successful, socially, even after being the “new kid” twice.

I think we all might have something to learn from that kid.


First Day Excitement!

The first day of school has always been exciting for Beanie!  Even though she’s done it four times now.

Onto the bus for Head Start when she was 4…

Now'r School 069


In Grand Haven the weekend before she boarded the Head Start bus once again when she was 5…



Getting ready to ride a bigger bus to kindergarten, when we lived in our apartment in Clear Lake…



This year, however, there were some changes!  Beanie would not be riding the bus through Clear Lake Shores

Somebody's excited!

Somebody’s excited!









Don't worry, she took off her life jacket when she got there!

Don’t worry, she took off her life jacket when she got there!












It’s only a couple blocks (less than a mile) from our marina to the school, and we thought bicycling would be easier and quicker than riding the bus or dropping her off by car.  When we get a dinghy, there is a canal that ends across the street from the school, so she will probably arrive by boat then.

Beanie had an excellent first day.  This year, she is in a co-taught class, like she was in preschool.  In kindergarten, she was in a general education class, with an aide who came to work with her for 30 minutes each day.  Her teacher and case manager recommended inclusion for her this year, so that a special education teacher or aide would always be in the room, though not specifically to work with Beanie.  That way, Beanie could get the one-on-one time she required, without being stuck with a certain time period where she got the extra support.  So she is in a general education classroom, with the same expectations as the other kids, but there is also a special education teacher in the room.  (I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but I spend the majority of my day co-teaching as a special education teacher at the intermediate level).  She will also continue to get OT and speech.  I think this will be perfect for her!

As for Beanie’s opinion?   I think her joyful rendition of the school song spoke volumes.



I’ve never told you that sometimes I’m a bad mom.

I don’t always remember to read with my daughter every night.  I didn’t do a single in-kind activity with her during her last semester of preschool.  Some nights, I forego the bath, because we were out so late having fun.  And she’s often the one who reminds me that her teeth need brushing.

I am the parent who forgets to sign the forms for school, and needs frequent e-mail reminders.  Some nights, when we’re at the boat, we pick up a Happy Meal for her to enjoy.  Bedtime involves her watching Cinderella, until she’s ready to go to bed (which, surprisingly, always happens at a reasonable hour).  In spite of my resolve to be “natural” and “countercultural,” she knows all of the Disney princesses by name, owns numerous electronic toys, and loves playing Mario Kart with Rob and me.

Our life is one of squalor.  While we once aspired to have the elegant label of “minimalists,” we now live in a way that transcends labels.  My bicycle, with my helmet slung off of the handlebars, is the focal point of our living room.  Beanie’s tricycle stands next to it; there is no point in putting it away, because she rides it nearly everyday.  At times, her toy train runs through the entire apartment, acting as a means of transporting her toys from one room to another.  Boxes are strewn about, with boat and moped parts ordered from around the world.  Behind our table, a tiller handle is propped up against the wall (oddly enough, we don’t have sails stashed anywhere in our apartment.  That might be a first).  The once-empty master bedroom is now completely full.  The plastic kitchen that we pulled out of the dumpster has become a Doc McStuffins hospital, with a few teacups hanging amidst the stuffed animals.  In the middle of the floor, Beanie’s bicycle and scooter stand ready for action.  Her cardboard playhouse occupies the wall opposite the kitchen, and that is where she enjoys her movies.  The closet is filled with toys removed from the toybox, and her Pikachu and pirate costumes are strewn about on the floor.

It was in this squalor that my morning began, today.  I had made my way through our kitchen, filled with the remnants from last night’s cooking experiment (I have yet to have success with perogies, but I won’t stop trying!), and created some coffee for Rob and me.  After coffee and conversation, followed by a shower and my morning routine, I made my current favorite breakfast, one fried egg with pepper jack cheese. So far, I’ve loved 10 pounds off of my body, by eating simply and mindfully.

While fully enjoying the soft yolk and crispy whites, I heard some chattering just before the master bedroom door opened with a cracking sound.  Beanie emerges, with her hair disheveled, wearing the sundress she fell asleep in, with temporary princess tattoos covering her arms.  With a sleepy smile, she climbs onto my lap and leans against me, her ear over my heart.

A year ago, she could not speak in sentences.  Today, she proclaims, “I love you, Mommy!”

She draws her head back, grins at me, and relives our spring break adventures.  “I go to Kemah boardwalk,” she begins.  “I ride Jungle Bounce.  It is so high!  I go to music park (the park near our marina slip has an area where you can stomp the ground and hear a great drum beat.  At the end of this post is a video of Beanie dancing to it).  I go to Houston Children’s Museum.  I want to be a doctor.  Or an ambulance.”

I know she means “paramedic.”  I smile at her.  The world is your oyster, Beanie.

I’ve finished my egg, and it’s time for her to eat something.  Breakfast and lunch are when Beanie eats the most, and she’s still pretty twiggy, so I’m always eager to get her lots of healthy calories.  I consider making her a PBJ, but today seems to require something special.

I’m not a good cook.  But I have a friend who is, so I used his pancake recipe.  I poured too much batter into my cast iron pan, and it spread to completely cover the surface.  Thus, Beanie was treated to a “gigantic pancake,” which she excitedly took, once I had placed it on a plate.

“I want a Pacman pancake!” she announced.  I asked her if she wanted me to make it into a Pacman.  “No, I make a Pacman pancake,” she insisted.

So Jelly Bean joyfully ate her creation, then caught me trying to make more giant pancakes for the rest of the week.  She danced in front of the container in which I was placing them, until I gave her one more.

Later today, she will head over to Grandma and Grandpa’s apartment, where she will spend the night.  On Monday, she will accompany me to the gym, for my yoga class, and she looks forward to playing with the kids in the nursery.

I’m not supermom.  But who is?  Within the squalor of our life is something very real, very pure, and very deep.

This is love.


Pictures from my Commute (and a Bean)

I have decided that, for now, I will do one written and one pictorial post each week.  Normally, the pics will be on Friday, but I’m not in a very verbal mood today.

Here are my pictures for this week.  First, my commute:








pink sky




That’s the beauty I see every morning, from my bicycle.  Of course, this was an unusually spectacular sunrise, preceding a very crazy storm!  But the beauty that morning, is the best way to describe my emotional and spiritual state today.

And here is Beanie, out trick-or-treating.  We are glad the storm let up, just in time!



Have a wonderful week!

Another Storm

Note:  Two days ago, I began to feel anxious and fearful–completely in survival mode once again.  I dissected it, and found nothing.  Until I realized that I was actually coming down with something, and my moods (and limited capacity for rational thought) were just reactions to feeling sick.  Today, finally, the room began to feel like Moonraker at anchor, so I left work early and took a day off. 

But I am sharing with you a very special post that I wrote, two falls ago, about an incident that happened in my classroom, early in my teaching career.  I hid this post after I wrote it–I had no subscribers at the time, back at, and I didn’t plug it on Facebook, because I thought it was too personal.  My, how things have changed!  This is about a student, but there are no personal details, so his ananonymity is protected.  I hope you enjoy it.

At this time, on this day, every year, a certain student weighs heavily on my mind.

If all went well, he graduated last year. I hope all went well. I hope his success continued after I was no longer a part of his life.

Seven years ago, on this day, that student physically harmed me. He caused an injury that left me in constant pain for over a year. Three months of physical therapy led to an almost-miraculous improvement. After that, I was still noticeably weaker until our sailing trip from Tawas to Bay City. At that time, I had to take the tiller with my left arm through higher winds than we had ever encountered. That run was physically exhausting, but it never caused any pain to my damaged arm muscles. My left arm has been as strong as my right since then.

November 2004 was a time that challenged me. It taught me to rely on my team members; those who held me up and supported me through such a dark time, and those who challenged me to see everything in a different light. When I saw what could possibly be, I fought to keep this student under my care, in spite of the damage–both physically and emotionally–that I had sustained. Then, as we worked together, I saw a life transformed, a story changed. The student who damaged my body went on to achieve straight A’s. I was humbled; I was awed.

Those of us on his team were connected; we were bonded by the fact that we had all witnessed–and been part of–a miracle. To this day, even though we rarely speak of it, we have a strong friendship resulting from that experience.

I took the helm through the storm. But a helmsman is no greater than her crew. Had I not been told the coordinates, I could not have gotten us through the fog.

That year, on this day, I learned to believe. To believe in the power of a human being to change, to become something wonderful once given the right supports. To believe in the power of forgiveness, of moving past your own injuries to care for the wounds of others. To believe that tomorrow is something that can’t be seen, something that can be wonderful.

I would never ask to relive the experience. But it has changed me, and I am grateful to be the person I have become.


Care to Join Me in My Challenge?

I know that I was going to give you a few days to read my sailing stories.

But an idea has been bouncing around in my head, and time in running a bit short, so I wanted to throw this challenge out there. Hear me out on this, then feel free to go back and read my sailing stories from yesterday.

You see, the past few days have been a time of reconciliation for me. I’ve made peace within–with my own perfections, with an unknown future, with the risks we are taking, and with my own notion of unworthiness. I’ve made peace, and gotten to work decluttering.

But something still was missing.

I’ve felt the need to DO something. As the work on the house is consuming all of my time, I feel like our individual situation, is also consuming all of my time and energy. It is the drive to do something, outside of our family, outside of our little bubble, that was been causing me unrest.

Donating is something that I often do, when I do not have extra time to spare. I remember the excellent job we all did on Gracyn‘s fundraiser (Gracyn is doing quite well, by the way!), and the helping with medical expenses is an issue I feel quite strongly about, for a variety of reasons. So, I have been challenging myself to donate–any amount I can spare, even $1 sometimes–to a child in need of medical fundraising. I wasn’t going to tell you about this challenge–it’s something I’m doing on my own–but I thought that maybe you would like to help.

So here’s what I’m going to do. Once a month, I’ll feature a child who needs help. I’ll choose one who is not near their goal, so that we can surprise their family with a little bit of help. This time, there are no give-aways, and I don’t even necessarily want to know whether you’re participating. I’m going to donate anonymously, and I urge you to do the same. I’m just going to throw it out there, and let things happen as they may.

So, for this month, I want you to consider 3-year-old Abby.

Abby had a massive stroke while undergoing heart surgery, and is running out of insurance to cover her therapies, as she recovers.  Having a child in therapy myself, I know how quickly the expenses can add up.  And Abby needs quite a bit.  She is relearning how to walk, talk, and even eat.  She will be requiring therapy for some time.

So please, visit this site to help Abby’s family out, with the financial end of things.  Remember, EVERY little bit helps–a bunch of people giving $1 adds up to a bunch of $.  The family only has 15 days left on their fundraiser, and they are barely halfway to their goal.

So let’s see what we can do to help!