Monday, January 30, 2006
I am befuddled.
Being irrepressibly compulsive, I check the hit counts on both my blogs daily. I have opposite desires for each: for my writings one, I think it's fun when I get a lot of hits (even though no one ever comments, which leads me to suspect I'm just being used as an example in Scared Straight classes), and for my photos one, I prefer to have a comparatively low number of hits, just friends and family.

For about six months, they were at a fairly consistent stream: about 10 hits a day for the writing, about 2 a day for the photos. The photos have remained the same, but just over the past week the writing one has suddenly exploded - 50-100 views a day, 314 yesterday alone. WHAT is going on???

Crazy mad wild wicked weird stuff, dude.

We all recognize, of course, that the more hits I get, the closer we inch to the inevitable discovery of the blog by my mother-in-law. Ah, well, a little reality never killed anyway... (this might be a first.)

...upon further pondering, I want to be clearer... I find this incredibly flattering, that people are spending five minutes a day with me. It's just mind-altering. I write selfishly - when I want, about what I want, online only because I can type faster than I can handwrite. So the idea of an audience is reality-altering to me, a little. But no fear - I'll slide back into the cabin-fevered selfishness of my own stay-home-mom self soon enough.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Welcome to the Dissertation Abattoir
Where the Studious Are Bathed in the Blood of the Ignorant

I'm considering having this carved into a sign which I can either mount over my door or wear around my neck, Scarlet-Letter-style. May as well have an actual, physical symbol of this symbolic albatross I'm dragging around.

Back when I first decided to take a year off, I had these lofty ambitions that I would use my time well. Like I would float through my days, simultaneously cooking gourmet meals and losing weight, parenting with fondness and attachment yet enough distance so as to create independent but affectionate children, and staying impressively on top of all correspondance, business and personal. I would learn new arts and crafts skills, and would become competent at any household repair. I would read good books, as soon as I figured out what qualified as "good." And, of course, I would finish my dissertation.

Pardon me while I bang my head on the table until I knock myself unconscious.

Oh, that's not to say I've been a total failure. I have cooked well, though not creatively. I most definitely have not lost weight, but nor have I gained enough to make my pants whimper when I walk in the room. I think I'm doing a good job at the parenting thing... my kids haven't set up a sacrifical altar or reverted to fetal motions, so it's a good start. I'm not great with correspondance, but nor am I embarrassing with it. I have learned to knit, and I've realized that I wasn't incompetent with household repairs to begin with. And I've read, a little, here and there.

So, that leaves the dissertation. The big, bad source of guilt handing over my head, or, to be precise, spread out on my office floor. The horrible thing about it is, the hardest part is already done. I've come up with the idea, written a proposal, and had the proposal accepted. All I have to do is clean up the edges and then actually DO the proposed work, neither of which is intimidating or overwhelming. Except for the fact that they intimidate and overwhelm me to the level of total immobility and mental paralysis.

I really don't know why I haven't worked on it more. Sure, it doesn't exactly mesh smoothly into a life characterized by diapers and holding hands when we cross the street, but then again, when has anything ever meshed smoothly into my life? I thrive in chaos.

Hah, see that right there? That's a little thing called rationalization. "I thrive on chaos." Bah. I wouldn't recognize a boring, quiet life if it jumped up and bit me on the ankle. I don't have any choice but to thrive in chaos.

So, I really need to stop procrastinating, and enter the dissertation abattoir.

Or just keep procrastinating... you know, whatever...
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Who needs sleep?
I do.

Jacob was up *6* times between 8:00 and 3:00 last night. He woke up with a head cold, but that somehow doesn't make it all okay with me. At 3:00 I gave in and brought him to bed with me, because not only was he awake he was SCREAMING each time. We all slept from 3-5. Then he was up and ready to play, I was comatose, and Willem spent the next 45 minutes bitching and grumbling and bitching some more, until I finally got up, had a brief snark exchange with Willem - "If it's bothering you, GET UP AND SOLVE THE PROBLEM" - "But YOU brought him into bed." Bite me. Got Jacob back down from 6-7. But I'm exhausted and pissy. I shouted at Jacob so loud this morning, my throat is raw. I'm not proud. But apparently 12 hours of intermittent whining and snottiness is my limit. He got a 10-minute crib-visit while I cooled off, and now we're all friends again, except that I am still holding a grudge.

He's asleep now. Here's hoping it lasts long enough for me to get some decent sleep, too. I know my own sleep habits well enough to be certain that if I went to bed now, at 8:00, I would wake up at 4:00 in the morning and spend the next 3 hours in this weird daze, not awake but not asleep, and I hate that. So I'll keep myself awake a little longer, stay up too late, not get enough sleep tonight, and then at least be able to blame tomorrow's tiredness entirely on myself.

Bah. It's good to have a plan.

I just keep reminding myself, it's the average of the week that is important, not the individual moments and days.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
The Resident Bad Cop
Now, let me start here by acknowledging something. I have absolutely no right to complain about Willem. None at all. He is wonderful. He is an attentive husband who has supported me through any number of career changes and mood swings and tantrums. He is a wonderful father who plays with the kids, cooks for them, reads to them, disciplines them, and generally enriches their lives. He's a good student, got nothing but praise as a teacher, and has other skills which I won't broadcast on a blog which I know is read by family members.


Lately, I have found myself caught in a certain role around the house. A role which I despise, yet which seems to come naturally, both for me to take it on and for everyone else to assume I'll do it. A role which the mere act of complaining about only reinforces itself. The role of ... [insert intense music here] ... the Bad Guy.

Oh, I am so tired of being the bad guy. The discipliner. The killjoy. I envy Willem's ability to just play with the kids and get them all riled up and then head off to class or announce that it's bedtime. I feel so hemmed in, so restricted by my awareness of the effects of an act: "If I start a wrestling match now, they'll have a hard time sitting down for dinner." "If I tickle them until they cry, and then leave, they might not just snap back into calm, happy beings after I go to school." "If I get Emily ready for bed and then make her giggle like a loon for 20 minutes during the story, she might stay up too late and it might wake Jacob, too."

Not Willem. He is free and unfettered by such thoughts. Leaving me to either ignore it all and feign nonchalance while steam leaks out of my ears, or to go and spread wet blankets all over everyone, rain on everyone's parade, stamp the joy out of their very beings in an effort to head off an imminent tantrum. Mean Mommy, greeted by a sea of innocent, baffled, slightly resentful faces. "What?? Me?"

And while we're on the topic, one of these days I would really love to have a bad day just for myself. I'd like to wake up crabby, evolve to grumpy, and end up at full-on snotty. I'd like to pout, simmer, and fulminate. But I can't. Why? Because the emotional stability of the whole world, or at the very least my whole house, is apparently dependent on me. Willem can be frustrated about an assignment, or overtired, or what have you, and somehow I can keep on smilin' and we all stay relatively upbeat through the day. But, it's true - if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. My black moods bring everyone down with me. It's exasperating. Sometimes I'd just like to glower, ya know?

Yeah, I know, I have it rough. Seriously, if this is the worst I can come up with to complain about, then I really, honestly don't deserve to complain at all.

But I won't let that stop me.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Up gock creek without a grapp
Jacob is steadily adding to his vocabulary now, which is always amusing to me. The latest additions are intended to be "milk" and "grape," though they're emerging as "gock" and "grapp," respectively. I keep thinking that maybe an "mmm" would help out with the whole "mmmmmilk" thing, but he doesn't seem to care. Okay, bub, whatever makes you happy.

We had one of those days yesterday that was just sweet and perfect - the type of thing that I'll remember and hold onto so that the next time they are driving me so insane that I can't enunciate, I let them live. Both kids played happily and cooperatively in the morning, ate well for both breakfast and lunch, and went down for naps at the expected times. Jacob woke up after only 45 minutes, which could have been a bad omen for the rest of the day - 45 minutes is just enough time for him to think he's done sleeping but not enough to actually leave him rested and cheerful. But he came out and snuggled with me on the couch, and took another hour-long nap on me. Which never happens. Both my kids are bed/crib-sleepers, and it's very rare for them to fall asleep, or stay asleep, on me. And it was my express duty, then, to nap with him, of course. Not like I had a choice - YOU try to stay awake while holding a sleeping baby.

After he woke up, he was perky and sweet, and we all piled into the car and went out for dinner. Which, again, initially looked sketchy, while we waited 10 minutes for our waitress to find us (apparently we should stop wearing camoflague in public). But it all turned out beautifully, the service was good and the food was good and the children were good, and rainbows and sunshine and bluebirds abounded.

So, that was a nice kick-off to the school semester. Willem's first day back was today, and he's all revved for it to be busy and hard and scary and all that. Which fails to worry me too much - the guy's got brains to spare, he'll cope.

I may not be able to continue going to the prison this semester, because of the way schedules are shaping out. That is, I could go, if we could find a place to take Jacob for two hours a week, between when I left and Willem got home. But the only place we've found so far that will take him for such a small amount of time has no security whatsoever. I'm not expecting daycares to have voice-recognition software and retina-tattoo technology, but a lock on the door to prevent people from wandering in off the street, that would be reasonable to me. When I suggested it to them, the response I got was, "Oh. Well. We've never had a problem with it." Fantastic. Please, allow me to sign up my son to be your test case for a kidnapping scenario!

So, I'll keep searching. And muttering. And looking for grapps.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Random babbling
I made the mistake today of nursing Jacob immediately before his naptime. I slept in this morning, and then Willem took both kids to Emily's dance class and then fed them, so it was about 12:30 before it even occurred to me, "Hey, he should nurse." And since we're down to once a day, I need to make sure he doesn't skip a day or I suspect my milk will dry up fast. So, yeah, of course, when I offered, he hopped right up into my lap and latched on.

And promptly fell asleep.

Some of you might have babies who happily nurse to sleep, then unlatch and go to bed. Not me. Jacob wants to continue to nosh throughout his nap, which is not okay with me because I don't feel like hanging it all out there that long AND after a while, "nosh" becomes "gnash." Which I don't love. So four times, I gently poked a finger in his mouth to break the latch, and each time he made this weird, puppy-dog squeal and started rooting until he found me again. Which was cute but irritating. Finally, after half an hour of this, I decided, enough. I got him up and tried to lay him down, and he just screamed and screamed and screamed, interspersed with quiet times just long enough for me to relax. Brat.

So I finally went in, after 5 or 6 trips in to lay him back down, and said, "WHY are you not napping?" And he said, very clearly, "Poop!" And sure enough, he'd filled his diaper.

So we might be closer to potty-ready than I'd thought...

We had dinner at Willem's lesbian friends' house. They have no children, and just the coolest decorations and posters and vibes there. And lots of shoes.

Their staircase is currently bare wood, they've pulled up the carpet and not replaced or finished it yet. Jacob soooooooo wanted to go up and down and up and down and up and down, which we did a few times but I wasn't willing to do all night. So I finally said, "Jacob, no stairs." For the rest of the night, he would play for a while, and then toddle to the base of the stairs and look up all longingly, signing and saying, "Pweeeeeece? Pweeeeeeece?" It was almost cute enough for me to give in. But not quite.

Now, he sleeps. Hooray!
Friday, January 13, 2006
Mushy face and fake smile
Didja ever have one of those days where you're getting dressed and you realize that your outfit and your insides just don't match? Like you're putting on sweats when you're in a sequins-and-feathers kind of mood, or you're wearing jeans when a short skirt and high heels would be a better match for the mood?

(I know, I should take my cues from Willem and just wear the sequins-and-feathers whenever the mood strikes. Ha ha...)

That happened to me this morning. I was dressed in my nice, black, interview suit, looking all professional - even did my hair and makeup! - and if I were going for internal/external consistency, I would have worn sweats and an old t-shirt and mismatched socks. Which, actually, I changed into as soon as I got home.

I had another internship interview. I'm now up to three sites I'll be able to choose from, none of which is great but there's some saying about beggars and choosers...

Anyway, so I was dressed up for that. But I woke up with the sort of sinus revolt which resulted in spontaneous and unsniffable escapes. Wildly professional. Drugs helped, but I still felt all mushy and miserable - like if you had placed a heavy rock on top of my head, it would have simply sunk in until my forehead was level with my shoulders. Blech. (Though not AS blechy as the prison bugs. Phew.)

The interview was fine. In the sense that I did not set any fires or relieve myself in the corner or bite the interviewer on the ankle. I'm sure it's a very nice place, but the job would be doing stuff I am very, very not interested in - so I did smile, but it was a fake smile.

That's okay, I'm a mom, I've learned how to fake smile by now.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Beware the Library Bunny
The other day, we all escaped to the library for som free, out-of-the-house time. We were downstairs in the children's area, Jacob and I were playing with blocks and Emily was wandering between books and the finger puppets and the rocking dragons, everyone was happy. This little girl, 4ish, and her mother show up, both look like normal, happy people. The girl makes a beeline directly for me and tries to hand me this stuffed rabbit that she's holding. I just looked at her a little oddly, but smiled and said, "No, thank you!" It seemed weird to me because that's a very toddler thing to do, and she was definitely old enough not to be considered a toddler anymore.

So, she says, "I have two of these and I wanted to give one away." I said, "Well, I think that's sweet, but I don't need any stuffed animals. But thanks anyway!" She sort of ambled off, she didn't seem especially upset by it.

Then her mom comes over. Bear in mind that I am sitting on the floor with Jacob, so this woman is literally looming over me. She looks seriously angry, like she's going to burst into a 'roid rage at any moment. "She wanted to give away her bunny, because she got two that are exactly the same, and I told her she could. I thought it was a nice thing to do. She wanted to give it to anyone she wanted to, at the library." All very accusatory and upset, not in a smiley-explaining sort of way.

I basically mumbled something to the effect of, "It sounds like a nice plan," and turned away from her. She wandered off and sat on the other side of the room and alternately gushed over every little thing the little girl did ("YES, that's a BOOK, you OPENED it, nice JOB!") and glared at me.

Very weird. I mean, I'm all for encouraging generosity in my kids, but there are places designed for donations, you know? And if the kid insists on bringing it to the library, then at the very least, encourage her to bring it to another child AND teach her what to do if someone says no. And, even better - figure out how to cope with no yourself, first, lady! Geez.

I'll probably wake up to a headless stuffed rabbit on my doorstep soon.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
The Year Formerly Known as 2005
2005 is over and done. That's a good thing. I would never go so far as to label a year a total loss, but it definitely felt like 2005 was the year when I put my own priorities on the back burner and ended up scorching my butt a few times. Hopefully I treat myself a little better in 2006.

We've already packed up and put away all of the Christmas decorations here. Which is especially noteworthy because we didn't put them up until like 12/23. It just seemed hard to get in the mood this year, and between the house being rearranged for decorations and having company, I could sit real , Istill and HEAR my stress levels rising. So rather than kick out all the company, since I LIKE my sisters, I decided to return the house to some semblance of order (if it were my in-laws, I might have decided differently). I do feel better now, pine needles and all.

Poor Jacob, he's living in a house full of lunatics. I mean, how bizarre is it, really, to get all bundled up one day, go to a stranger's house, wander around his yard for a few minutes while listening to his dog bark bark bark bark bark bark bark, then watch dad pick up a TREE and tie it to the top of the Jeep? And then to bring it home?!? (Following a brief interlude whereby the tree leapt off the Jeep and dragged behind us.) And put it in the LIVING ROOM?!? Really weird. And then no one's supposed to touch it, or crawl around underneath it! The presents made some sense to him, he was okay with presents. But then a few days later we took all the pretty stuff off the tree and dragged it, minus about 10 million needles, into the front yard. Seriously odd behavior from his parents. Jacob spent a lot of time looking skeptical.

Last night, we drove down to Portsmouth to watch the fireworks display - which was at 7:30, a whole lot more manageable of a time than midnight, given the heavy concentration of small people in my household population. I kept Jacob on my shoulders the whole time, which was fine for most of the time except for the fact that he was wearing his slightly-too-large boots... every once in a while, he'd kick, and I'd be standing there holding an empty boot with a bunch of little pink naked baby toes wiggling next to my ear. So I'd kiss 'em and then put the boot back on, it was kind of a nice way to ring in the new year.

Came home, let the kids run around and fuel themselves on hot cocoa, while we all thawed out. Jacob went to bed around 9:30, Emily made it to about 11:45 before she passed out on the living room floor. The rest of us watched Pride and Prejudice (the 6-hour A&E version - Willem definitely earned some brownie points with that one!) and the women knitted while Willem tried to cling to his testosterone. I offered to teach him to knit, too, but we decided there was a definite possibility that his testicles would scrabble right up to his ears if he got THAT in touch with his feminine side.

Then we all shared some champagne, popped several of those champagne-bottle-shaped confetti poppers, and went to bed. Not quite the wild celebrations I used to imagine myself having, when I grew up, but not a bad night all in all.

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