Tag Archives: moving


It’s a full-on blizzard today, and I couldn’t be happier. We were supposed to be moving into our new house but delayed it yesterday due to the impending storm. Last night, I was incredibly skeptical that we’d actually get any significant snowfall; I have more memories of the weather powers-that-be predicting storms that produced a paltry inch or two than memories of massive snowfalls. But this has been a true winter event: the airport is closed, interstates are closed, buses have shut down, and the world has slowed.

It occurred to me today that there’s probably a little part of me that still wishes I was Laura Ingalls Wilder, toughing it out on the prairie. I love the winter, but I know there are a lot of people here who truly hate the weather, snow in particular. I’ve had many raised eyebrows when making small talk and someone says, “Oh, I bet you miss that California weather!” and I say, “Not really. I missed the winter.” There are also plenty of people who think I’m going to get sick of it really fast, that I’m thinking back on my winter memories with rosy-colored snow goggles. And that may be true.

But here’s what I know is true right at this moment: I feel so alive. Call it cheesy, call it granola, call it whatever you like; I could not get this feeling in California, no matter how hard I tried. Snow demands attention, and when it comes down to it, I kind of love that it’s not easy to live with.

Today we had the idea of trekking the six blocks to our new house in order to shovel the walks in time for the movers tomorrow. We all suited up, but after only half a block, Griffin was not too happy (even though he was hitching a ride in the carrier). I volunteered to head over to the house by myself, and Andrew headed back to the apartment with Griffin. Most of the walks were not shoveled, and the streets had not been plowed, so it was just me, marching through snow, sometimes in drifts up to my hips. I arrived at the house and shoveled. Yes, it was hard work, and yes, it would probably stink if I had to do it every day, and yes, I had a great time. Maybe it was being alone for over two hours, maybe it was the familiar scrape and feel of the shovel, maybe it was the satisfaction of doing something start to finish without being interrupted, maybe it was the quiet stillness that comes with snow. All I know is that there is no place I’d rather be right now, and I’m loving every minute of being back here, smack dab in the middle of winter.

Playing Catch-Up

Our lives have been full lately, which is why we’re averaging only about one blog post a month! Things certainly have been going on, but we just haven’t been writing or putting up the pictures. Today I did a little catch up on the photo site and put together some photos from various things that have been happening this fall (even though it seems like we forget the camera more often than we remember it!). Some were big, some were little. But all point to the fact that we’re settling into our new lives here in Minnesota.

Click on any photo to take you to the full gallery.




Midwest Sunsets

Until moving back here I had forgotten one of the very best things about the midwest: sunset. In fact, I will broaden that to include the sky at all times of day (and night). The sky is huge. I always used to think that the apparent bigness of the sky was due to the flatness of the terrain. I still think that is part of it, but I also think that the clouds are often at a much higher altitude and the layers provide a lot of vertical perspective. I often feel dwarfed by the sky in a way that I never felt in the Bay Area. In California, I was often stunned by the physical landscape — come around a bend on the road and catch a glimpse of the bay or of Mt. Tam or Mt. Diablo. Here, that is rare (for me anyway). The landscape is fairly consistent: mostly flat, mostly agricultural (which has its own beauty, but doesn’t usually cause one to gasp). The sky — as if to make up for the relatively sedate landscape — is totally out of control (or, “out of pocket,” as my former students might say). I frequently see clouds that make me gasp, and of course the weather itself is mercurial and violent.

Last night, driving back from Saint Peter to Courtland, I experienced one of the most awesome sunsets of my life. The western horizon had a strip of clear sky, brilliant red-gold with the sun already out of sight. The clouds above were fringed with crimson, and on its own this would have been a lovely scene. But then, marching toward us and fading into the blackness of the eastern horizon was the most tremendous roof of clouds. They were dark and angry, with bizarre whorls and striations, a different pattern in every direction. Flickers of lightning occasionally illuminated the gloomy landscape, but mostly it was dark and ominous — think Donnie Darko, or some cheesy meteorological thriller where sixteen tornadoes might descend from the sky at once. Behind us, the world was swallowed up in the stormy darkness and it seemed like we were fleeing into the gleaming west. Truly amazing.

Apartment Pictures

We visited our new apartment in Saint Paul yesterday to take some pictures and measure a few things.  The current tenants are unbelievably friendly and welcoming.  I’ve included a few images below, or click here to see to full gallery (a dozen photos that walk you through the place).  Note that the furniture and decor are not ours, but check out the floors, built-ins, and colors!

Looking from the dining room into the living room. The sun room is through the far arch and the door on the right leads to the porch.
Dining room. Far door leads to the kitchen and the door on the left leads to the bathroom and two bedrooms.
Bedroom (this will be Griffin's room -- remember that none of the furniture is ours, though now I really want to get a cool slide bed!)

See the full gallery for more!

Rheem Team

I’ve been a bit in denial that we’re moving very, very soon and have been focusing on all of the things I won’t miss about the Bay Area: the horrid traffic, the hustle bustle of so many people, the cost of living, etc. But with the date of departure creeping closer and closer, it’s getting more personal and real. Today as I left the Rheem School staff end of the year party, I started thinking about the things and people I’ll miss. I suddenly realized that the party would likely be one of the last times I would see most of my fantastic colleagues, and it hit me like a truck. I could not, and cannot, stop crying.

Rheem has been the place where I have found my voice as an educator. I truly could not have asked for a better place to start out. I’ve had an amazing principal who turned into a great friend, wonderful mentors and colleagues, supportive parents and excited students. I feel like I came at exactly the right moment to help start the school garden, which has literally blossomed into an engaging outdoor classroom and an integral part of the school. I started to develop my stance on what public education should and shouldn’t be, and how I can be a part of that. I discovered that I can indeed teach kindergarten, and that I love to play the guitar. I participated in a collaborative teaching staff, one that is built on the basis of mutual respect and openness. And perhaps most importantly, I felt love from a family of educators who beyond doubt find joy in teaching.

So why leave? I have felt so confident in this move as it has stayed abstract, but today I’m feeling a little grief-stricken. I absolutely know in my heart that this is the right move for so many reasons, and I can look back on the past five years with great clarity to see all of the ways that the Bay Area is not for me (and not the place where Andrew and I want to raise our family). I am absolutely not leaving here with any bitterness; moving to Oakland has changed my life considerably, and for that I am ever grateful.

But in the end, it is not home.

And as beautiful as I think Rheem is, I know it’s not my home as a teacher either. I find myself drawn to the experiential side of education, and while the garden has been amazing, I do wish I could be in a place that had outdoor, whole child centered education at its core. I have known for quite some time this is who I am, and I’m excited to see if there is a place that really fits this dream. Also, in all honesty, I do love being a stay-at-home parent, which has its own style of teaching in itself. The path of my job as an educator is being revealed as I walk it, and I know I will arrive in a place that is right for me eventually.

So in the meantime, I know there are going to be many moments like these as we get closer and closer to the day we move, and I will let them happen as they rise and fall. Today, I feel proud to have been a Rheem Team Roadrunner, and although right now I am feeling immensely sad about leaving the people at Rheem, I also feel carried by their love and will be leaving with a full heart.

Minnesota Progress

A lot has happened in the past four days:

  • On Wednesday we flew to Minnesota, duly documented via iPhone.
  • On Thursday morning I met with the principal of the St. Paul Open School.
  • Then we had lunch with Maddy and Zoe and I visited Laura Jeffrey Academy, an all-girls middle school in St. Paul.  I toured the school with some prospective parents and then had a great meeting with the educational director (their equivalent of a principal).
  • Somehow in the midst of all this Sarah and I drove around various neighborhoods in St. Paul and Minneapolis to start thinking about where we might want to live.
  • On Thursday evening we celebrated Griffin’s first birthday in Courtland with a whole passel of Stocco family friends.  It was fun and festive, and the cake was delicious.
  • Friday morning began with a somewhat strange meeting with the principal of a progressive charter school in Minneapolis.  Sarah and I participated in their “morning meeting” and then chatted briefly (and awkwardly) with the principal who basically said he doesn’t have any job openings and has no ideas about where one should look for teaching jobs.  Weird.
  • Then we raced over to Crosswinds Middle School in Woodbury (east of St. Paul) and met with a friend of a friend who has been teaching there for a bunch of years.  She was great and introduced us to her principal who was similarly great.
  • The sum of all the meetings was that budget cuts will make the job search very challenging. On the bright side, I got many useful tips on how to best market myself and where to focus my efforts most productively.  At this point I’m focusing on charter schools and will start checking out possible private school options.
  • On Friday afternoon Sarah and I met with a realtor and started looking at houses and exploring various neighborhoods in St. Paul.  Our first foray was a bit underwhelming (but things got better later).
  • On our drive back to Courtland that evening we realized that we were utterly exhausted.  We called the realtor to reschedule our Saturday tour to Sunday morning.
  • Saturday was our spring break!  We had a leisurely breakfast, napped, took long hot baths, and walked to the local park where Griffin loved the slide.  (First time he has ever been really into it — he just kept diving down this one, head first!  Pictures will be forthcoming.)  I also wrote thank you cards to the various people I had met with during the week.
  • This morning (seriously, I can’t believe this was today) we raced back up to the Cities to meet with our realtor.  Today’s tour focused mostly on Minneapolis and was much more positive.  We saw a fabulous house in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood and a couple of other cool contenders in Southwest and near Lake Nokomis.
  • Then a picnic lunch by the lake with Pam and Jeff who had just picked up uncle Bob at the airport.  Fun in the sun, and great to overlap with Bob for an hour.
  • Then back to the airport to fly back to SFO.  Griffin had a harder time on this flight.  He’s got a molar coming in and was tired but couldn’t fall into a comfortable sleep.  Still, he handled it pretty well and is a pro at airplane bathroom diaper changes.
  • When Ed picked us up at the BART station he handed us a bag with three English muffins from our favorite bakery.  He figured we might not have breakfast organized for tomorrow.  Is that not the sweetest thing?

Whew.  We would never have been able to get this much done if Pam and Jeff and Alli hadn’t handled Griffin during most of our trips to the Cities.  It was a win-win for everybody: we got a lot done and Griffin got to bond with his grandparents and auntie!

Here’s what Griffin thought about all of this on the BART ride home:

Worn out after house hunting and job hunting and birthday partying... what a spring break!

I can’t believe I have to work tomorrow!


Had a great flight! Griffin was squirmy but generally polite.  (And who isn’t squirmy when they have to sit in a tiny seat in a noisy tube packed with strangers?)

( I probably could have skipped these posts, but I am addicted to my new phone. Love the wordpress app!)

Lots of must have items at the Sky Mall.
He miraculously fell asleep right before the beverage cart came by, so we could actually get something without him tossing it all over us. Slept for about an hour.
Mom is so great!

There's a whole cool world under the seats!

Monday Accomplishments

Today was a very productive day.  A selection of our activities:

  • Reorganized all the bookshelves so that they are both orderly and attractive.  (Sarah has taught me many things… you don’t have to just put books on bookshelves… you can stack some books horizontally to break things up visually… you can intersperse photos and art objects… it’s rad.)
  • Packed ten boxes and stacked them in the shed along with two empty bookcases
  • Rearranged the bedroom now that it lacks a bookcase to make it look more open
  • Contacted the principal of a charter school in Minneapolis and scheduled a meeting with him on Friday.  (He definitely doesn’t have a job for me, but gotta start building the network somewhere.)
  • Walked down to lakeshore and bought an iPhone!  It’s a very welcome birthday present from my parents (thanks Mom and Dad!)  We’ve resisted the “smart phone” phenomenon for years now, not wanting to pay the added monthly expense.  But with the chaos of the move coming up, the ability to have internet access in the car while driving around the Twin Cities seemed well worth the expense.  Of course I don’t have time to play with my new toy, but I’m sure it will be extremely useful in MN this week.
  • Cleaned up the kitchen to make it look like the counters are not usually completely covered with clutter.
  • And, of course, we changed diapers and did all the usual parenting stuff… but I must admit that Griffin has been very generous at allowing us to pack and accomplish things while he toddles around the mess.
  • Now we’re about to head into Berkeley for a date: Patty Griffin at Zellerbach Hall!  Sarah put this on the calendar months ago, but she called it “Special Date Night” and wouldn’t tell me anything more.  I just found out what it is.  What a great way to end a day!
Two reorganized shelves
Some of our reorganized shelves

Moving Madness

We haven’t been posting on here as much recently for two reasons.  First, Sarah has been working full time, so she doesn’t have nap-times to post.  Second, we are up to our ears in preparations for our summer move to Minnesota.  When we actually think about the entire list of things that have to happen we tend to freak out.  One step at a time has become our mantra… stop, breathe, just one step.  🙂

Some things we’ve been up to recently:

  • Got the house repainted last fall.  Glad we thought to do that early.
  • Painters are coming tomorrow to touch up some things and do some odd projects we hadn’t predicted in the fall.
  • Gardening team is trying to make it look like we’ve been spending our weekends weeding for the past five years.  (Good luck…)
  • Packing… while we’re not quite up to Dave and Nancy’s level (they have packed two gigantic crates!), we are very proud of the growing stacks of boxes in the shed filled with clothes and books and kitchen supplies that we won’t be using again until we’re in the Twin Cities.
  • Found a new tax accountant because we found out that our previous guy, who I’ve been using for six years, is in jail for mail fraud.  Yep.  He was in the news.
  • I have completed my résumé with lots of valuable help from Jeff (who used to be a career counselor).  Also two different cover letter templates that should be flexible enough to work for many potential job openings.  And this weekend I typed up electronic applications for both Minneapolis and Saint Paul school districts.  (Not that they have any job openings at the moment, but everything is uploaded and ready for review in case anything opens up.)
  • I’ve contacted a principal in Saint Paul who I will meet with on Thursday to discuss possible openings at his school and other schools.
  • Did I mention that we’re going to Minnesota on Wednesday through Sunday?  (It’s our spring break… and we get to spend Griffin’s birthday with Grandma Pam and Grandpa Jeff and Aunt Alli!)
  • We are in touch with a real estate agent in Saint Paul who we’re meeting on Thursday and Friday.  She’s compiling lists of houses and neighborhoods that we might be interested in.
  • We’ve changed all the doorknobs and hinges in our apartment so that it doesn’t look so 90s (at the advice of our local real estate agent.)
  • Been mowing the lawn every week at the command of the aforementioned gardening team.  (Usually I try to get to it a few times a year.)
  • We’ve been enjoying Griffin’s increasing abilities to walk across vast amounts of space.  And the parallel ability to hurt himself more rapidly than ever.  (He’s got a cool pirate-like scrape from his forehead to his upper lip thanks to an aggressive cardboard box.)
  • Investigating what to do about our leaking water heater.
  • Oh, lest I forget, I have a master’s thesis to write.  Met with my advisor Tuesday morning.  Took Wednesday off and was very productive.  Aiming for a rough draft in my advisor’s hands by April 28.

So, in short, we’re moving to Minnesota.  Somehow between now and then we will sell this house, buy a new house, finish my thesis, get a job, finish packing, hire movers, and drive across country to the great state of Minnesota.

One.  Step.  At.  A.  Time.