Teaching Baltimore

May 4, 2015

Today I’m honored to be sharing a story at the online version of The Atlantic. And at least for a bit there, it was the top story! http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/05/a-field-trip-to-baltimore/392303/ It’s all about what happened when my students planned a trip to Baltimore within weeks of the Baltimore protests and riots. I hope you’ll be impressed with […]

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I am so grateful to my college friend Melissa Lawrence for allowing me to guest post at her terrific parenting site, CloudMom.  Melissa is a mother of five who shares all that she has learned in her years as a parent:  from swaddling to breastfeeding to learning not to take it all so darn seriously. […]

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The Summer of my Content

August 11, 2013

  This morning I stumbled across article that simply won’t get read enough, I am sure. It’s a New York Times article explaining a study of women’s job satisfaction when they are in positions of authority.  In explaining the gender gap in leadership, these social scientists looked at the perceived benefits (not even financial benefits) […]

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Today’s New York Times Well Blog carries an article about “Fat Talk,” that pernicious conversation that most women in my demographic have been schooled in since we were teenagers. Here are the rules of this incredibly destructive sort of conversation, carried on all day long among otherwise sane and competent women: 1. If you are […]

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Mother 101

May 12, 2013

June piles the children into a canoe on an Adirondack lake in 1949.  Black flies fill the air, biting and buzzing their little heads.  Being outdoors is good for you, she teaches, without saying a word.  I am decades in the future, my girls decades more.  But the lessons began long before they were needed, […]

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I’m trapped in a kitchen with eleven teenagers,  unable to speak a word.  Two are stirring pans over a hot stove, two are grating cheese (their fingers getting closer and closer to the blade as I type.)  Six are wielding knives, dangerously close to chopping off their own fingers.  Several of them are singing Justin […]

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On Empathy and Shoes

May 7, 2013

“Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children….you children last night made Walter Cunningham stand in my shoes for a minute.  That was enough.”    —   Atticus Finch, speaking to his children, in To Kill a Mockingbird   Teenagers are famously lacking in empathy.  Their inability to see another’s perspective is our chief complaint […]

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A is for The Aran Islands We spent Friday on a ferry trip then a guided tour of Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran islands, off the coast of Galway.  I will admit I had anticipated a little more local color (old women with weathered faces knitting beside their thatched cottages.) Still, our tourguide […]

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Perspective

August 14, 2012

This week we’re on vacation in rural Ireland, which is just as green, lush, and wild as you might imagine.  We are staying close to a particular site where they film all those movies that require a backdrop of timeless hilly beauty, and spending our days hiking. But even though we’re all on the same […]

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  “Why haven’t you been posting on your blog, Launa?” It’s a question I’ve been meaning to answer.  But it’s taken me awhile to set it all straight in my own mind before explaining it here to you. You know how sometimes when you haven’t spoken for awhile, you need to make some icky throat […]

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When I became a teacher, I thought my job was all about the lessons I needed to teach. But really, the first lesson I needed to learn was this: If something in my class or in my school wasn’t working, I could not expect it to start to benefit my students and their learning unless I changed. […]

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April is National Poetry Month. Blossoms mass on the cherry trees. Liquid light draws forth their pinks, brings into being colors I have not before seen. Blue from the open sky, Browns from the house paint on the doors and windows of 1st Street. Like an existential alarm clock, April calls out through the old […]

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Take a Load off, Annie

April 2, 2012

When my favorite blog (Motherlode) announced that its book club would be reading the newest book by one of my favorite authors (Annie Lamott) I signed on as fast as I could.  I was eager to see how Lamott would take on sudden, unexpected grandparenthood — and even more eager for the humor, oversharing, and dead-on […]

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Snorkeling to Africa

March 28, 2012

We are on vacation. Spending the whole two weeks of school vacation with our families: first with DH and his family, and a second week with my beloved sister, Auntie Gaela.  It is heaven, with a side order of coconut tart. Here in the tropics, nothing much ever happens. The TV screen stays black, books […]

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Lately, I’ve been parenting, living, and teaching much more than I have been writing.  I have been playing (music), sleeping, cooking, and thinking hard about things.  And the proposal of the book I love so much (first draft here) is out visiting some editors, hoping to find itself a new home. And while all that […]

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California Christmas

December 23, 2011

When I was young, each Christmas was exactly the same, and we needed it to be that way.  We decorated our tiny country church on the first Saturday in December, then sat in the front pews together and sang all the same hymns. Advent wreaths hung from invisible wire on each side of the pulpit.  […]

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What They Ought To Be

November 13, 2011

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.” — Goethe     I struggle a lot as a parent.  These most complicated relationships don’t come easily to me — the ones unfolding here in my house.  I admit my difficulties […]

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In Praise of Play

November 6, 2011

This weekend, we put aside work in favor of play.  I played music three different times:  first with the Tiki Brothers on Saturday night, belting out Aretha Franklin covers and singing harmony on Johnny Cash’s Big River.  DH came out to hear us, and we all stayed up way too late, enjoying the rare feeling […]

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Dinner at Roberta’s

October 24, 2011

The posts here are few and far between, but our adventures accelerate all the time. Here are the girls, grinning and goofy together the night we all went to Roberta’s pizza in Bushwick. The place is a ramshackle miracle,  old shipping containers nailed together to make a series of connected rooms.  They serve fancier dishes, […]

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Costume rental at Colonial Williamsburg came with instructions on proper deportment.  Both girls practiced walking like this most of the day. Later on, we bought them some flint and a steel, after which they spent the rest of the day making sparks, unconcerned that their enthusiastic efforts might be burn little holes in the dresses. […]

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Risk

September 6, 2011

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this. — Henry David Thoreau, cited on a million or so “Inspirational Quotations” websites   It’s […]

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This summer, I did not finish editing my book.  I did not make any money, or contribute to the economy in any way other than as a consumer and a traveler — buying food and sending my kids to summer camp.  I did not do very much yoga.  My garden still looks bleak and weedy. […]

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The Tiny Things

August 16, 2011

The beetles were getting romantic. The girls made a bouquet.   One of the thousands in the field. We saved these for you.

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A Hundred Generations Ago

August 12, 2011

Yesterday we drove to Nimes, (home of denim — as in “de Nimes,” – of Nimes.  Betcha didn’t know that!) We walked around the beautifully preserved Roman Temple, La Maison Carrée, which means “The Oblong House.”  The thing is spectacular. We learned all about Corinthian Columns (the crenelated, fancy ones, unlike basic Doric and Swirly […]

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Heaven

July 13, 2011

I keep finding myself in heaven this summer. Each time I arrive, the furniture and the people are slightly different, but so far, every heaven I have landed in this summer has several things in common. To get to heaven, I usually take a boat across some water, although sometimes I can get there in […]

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Ann Voskamp’s luminous book, One Thousand Gifts has been sitting on my bedside table for weeks.  I pick it up now and then to read a bit, but it’s tough going.  First of all, she’s intensely religious, so I have to do some translating from her worldview to mine, dealing with lots of references to […]

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Being Wrong

June 28, 2011

Recently, I posted one of my typical rants. In it, I may have argued that hordes of baby grownups had invaded my city with an eye to pushing me into middle age and irrelevance.  It was of course tongue-in-cheek.  At least kinda sorta. And then, my life taught me a lesson, as it tends to […]

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Tomorrow we drive to another University town in New Hampshire to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of DH’s much-beloved Aunt and Uncle.  Their three children and six grandchildren have conspired to throw a party that promises to be tender, elegant, and raucous at different moments of the evening.  Much like the two parties in the marriage […]

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Music Lessons

June 21, 2011

OK, OK — last Band Camp post.  I promise. In this one, I try to explain, mostly for my own edification, what I learned by singing and writing and playing.  I hope here to name what might be traveling home with me, aside from a whole lot of smelly laundry and a dozen nasty mosquito […]

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  I don’t like Mondays any more than do the Boomtown Rats, but the first day of Music Camp was stellar. The loons on the lake woke me at first light.  Instead of fighting my way back to sleep, I rose and walked to the glass house on the wide dock. As far as I […]

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The Family of Yes

June 19, 2011

Meet The Family of Yes. No, not the late 80’s super group. It’s us.  If you know us, you might be surprised to hear me call us anything but conflicted.  But this was my goal for us for a week as a family at Music Camp. That we say Yes.  At least that we would […]

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Unplugged

June 11, 2011

Early tomorrow morning, we head for Miles of Music camp (rather than Laundry Camp, thank god) for a full week of strings-driven folk music.  We will sleep in a cabin with screens for walls, and with no electricity.  We will eat at communal tables rather than walking fast with a hotdog and a Starbuck’s venti […]

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This weekend, DH and I went out to Rucola,   a super-swank new Italian bistro in Boerum Hill.  We were there for dinner with a couple of our oldest and dearest friends. I mean “oldest” as in I’ve known Stephanie since we were nine.  Not as in she’s old, or we’re old.  No damn way.  And […]

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I volunteered twice this week at 826NYC, a writing center created to inspire schoolkids.  To get into the center, you sneak through a real-live secret passageway in the back of a room that would otherwise appear to be a store selling Superhero Supplies.  Invisibility capes. Anti-Villain Disguise Masks. Paint cans with labels lovingly designed by […]

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