Saturday, February 25, 2006
All right, less whiny today.
I still don't know what I'm going to do when I grow up, but I'm less pathetic and catastrophic and miserable today. That's probably a good thing, no?

My children are both asleep. Being young and innocent, they don't realize how lucky they are to be alive right now. At the very least, I was considering shipping them both off to some random address with a false return address. Emily spent the night at her friend Diana's, which I'm sure was a blast for everyone, though you'd never know it by all the whining and griping about Diana's new pirate ship toy and she was greedy and I was the guest and I should have been able to choose what to do but she wanted pirates on it and I wanted horses on it and she wouldn't let me pick what we did..... whatever, Emily. I think we've all established that you're in the running for World's Bossiest Child, and until you receive some sort of monetary compensation for it I'm going to continue to find it exasperating.

The child-rearing books all tell me to view this in a positive light - look at how assertive she is! Look at how smart! How confident! How bright! Sure. *YOU* send her to bed after the 435th power struggle over precisely where on the floor her (really hideously patterned but darn well-made) bean bag can be, and you tell me how positive and upbeat you feel.

Anyway. So, on top of being her normal, strong-willed self, she was overtired and Extra Bossy, because Diana is a quieter soul than Emily, so Emily just got 24 hours of Sheer Bossy Power.

And then there's Jacob, who missed his Mimi so much that when we saw her - we met in a mall for the handoff of prisoners - he took off down this long hallway to give her a huge hug and generally break my heart for the day. He was also tired, because apparently two 45-minute naps in the car does not a 90-minute nap make, so he was just tired enough to be noodgy and clumsy without being tired enough to actually sleep any more.

The two of them spent the evening bonking off each other, bonking each other off floors and walls, bonking themselves off floors and walls, and so on. Lots of boo-boos and time-outs. (Ugh, could I possibly sound like more of a parent??)

But they made it to 7:30 and I did NOT give in to the urge to bonk their little heads off each other until they were both quiet.
Friday, February 24, 2006
I'm not sure what hurts.
But something does.

It's not my head, though give it time, I've only been up for an hour and I'm still in the initial shock-upset-panic mode. It's not my heart, that's reserved for the people I love. But some big, central, important part of me hurts right now. And until I can figure out what it is, I can't fix it.

I didn't get an internship placement. This isn't a true shock by this point. I got turned down outright by 15 out of 16 of my initial sites, and ended up being able to scrounge out interviews at three sites, one decent one and two decidedly sub-par, unaccredited, but nonetheless internship, sites. I thought the interviews went okay, and I dared to believe that I might get *something*, but clearly I have not been paying attention to my own life lately.

The worst, absolute worst thing about it all is the knowledge that this could have been avoided. I was well on the way to getting a placement last year, had several interviews and was feeling good about the process, when I decided to take a year off to let Willem start school a year early. I was arrogant enough to think I could shake up the system and still make it give me what I wanted.

So I don't quite know what happens from here. I'm sure I'll figure it out. I need a little time to wallow and generally immerse myself in self-pity, and then I'll figure out the next step.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
"Does it hurt?"
So, yeah, my head is continuing on its quest to self-destruct. I got enough of a reprieve last night to watch "The Bachelor" and feel superior that I was able to get married without a team of producers and a national audience on-hand. Even played Sudoku online, because I was feeling quite wild and carefree. Go, me.

I slept as though I was in a field of poppies for the first several hours of the night. Then, just before 4:00, Willem gently whumphed an elbow into my ear and said, "Canyougetthebaby?" I said, "Mmph," and went in to lay Jacob back down. He - Jacob - is not in the running for the Baby Sleep Olympics, but when he lacks in duration he makes up in ease of re-unconsciousness. So he was back asleep within about 3 minutes.

It was at this point that I realized, "Hey. I can't see." And not because it was dark or I was tired - my eyes were wide open and I was seeing some funky stuff, all sparkly and shiny and pretty. Being a moderately teachable creature, I remembered this same experience over the past three days and realized, "Hey, I think I'm about to get another heada--" BAM. No cute little earning and fade-out of aura this time, no sirree. I spent the next 45 minutes trying to sleep, and then the 45 minutes after that sitting on the bathroom floor rocking back and forth and mewling pathetically and unable to decide whether throwing up would be a relief or suicide.

Wait, scratch that. I was alone in the bathroom, no witness. So, those 45 minutes, there was no mewling. I bore up stoically under my pain.


Went back to bed after Willem nearly beat me with a bathtub ring, assuming I was an intruder (I feel so much safer in the house now, knowing his plan of attack), and spent the rest of the morning sitting up and whimpering.

Went to the local urgent care center this morning, all the while reminding myself, "Oh, right, THIS is why health insurance is so popular." I spent a grand total of 47 seconds with 4 different employees, all of whom told me, "Yeah, you have a migraine." Thanks. I had guessed.

My favorite interaction was with the fuzzy yoda-like nurse, who came in and said, "So, you have a headache?" I said, "Well, I guess... if an amputation is the same as a papercut in your world." He said, "Ha ha," (with precisely that much enthusiasm) "Does it hurt?" I was barely able to restrain the flood of sarcastic responses that came to mind at that moment, and satisfied myself with nodding and pouting.

At the end of the visit, I was offered a choice: have an IV that would leave me "knocked out cold for a good long while," or take some other stuff that would "have you in less pain so you can make it to bedtime." I opted for choice B, although, really, when you're choosing between a Mack truck and a train, at the end of the day, you're still getting run over.
Monday, February 20, 2006
For the past 12 or so years, I've been blessed with occasional migraines. Varies based on the circumstances and so on - pregnancy gives me a 9- (okay, 8-) month hiatus, times of stress and anxiety are an instant ticket to moderate to severe discomfort. Not especially predictable, not especially crippling, save for one week in May 2002.

Until this weekend.

I got one on Saturday night. Now, to back up, I've always carried some doubt that what I normally get is really migraine, because I don't get "visual disturbances" or "light sensitivity" or "nausea." Just "pain." But several doctors have insisted, and even those the supposedly wonderful migraine meds will promptly take whatever part of me that was still feeling okay and beat it into submission so that I feel bad all over, fine, okay, they're migraines. I have had the visual disturbances once or twice, in that Very Bad Week in 2002, so I would recognize them if they bit me on the leg.

Which they did Saturday. Willem and I were playing Scrabble, and I very nonchalantly mentioned, "I feel really weird. Like there's something wrong with my peripheral vision. But I have no pain at all." Apparently this freaked Willem out beyond expression. Which is mildly irksome - the guy's not fazed by me having a 7-inch C-section incision but my vision gets weird and he's bringing me medicine and juice? Anyway. After a while, the vision got better and the pain got lots, lots worse. So I took some meds and went to bed and could get up in the morning.

Sunday was fine, I finished moving the old posts to here and watched Emily slide back into her ever-so-much-fun game of refusing to eat by whining and fidgeting rather than just saying that she's not hungry, and it was a barrel o' monkeys had by all. After their naptimes, I packed up the kids and we went grocery shopping... the echoing whenever I opened the cupboard was getting alarming. Dairy section, fine. Deli, fine. Frozen meats, fine. Baking aisle... hmmm... what's wrong with my eyes? This shouldn't be so hard, to find the sugar... uh oh...

And then we enter into Warp Speed Grocery Mode, to try and get as much shopping done as possible before the vision got better and the pain got worse. My kids discovered that if Mom feels bad in the store, they get any manner of treat and snack to keep them quiet and entertained. Want a granola bar? Animal crackers? A bottle of BBQ sauce? Anything! I don't care! Just sit happily!

I was able to finish and drive home, though most of the drive consisted of me going about 15 miles an hour under the speed limit - which, if you've ever been in a car with me, you will know that is extremely, shall we say, unlike me - while holding my forehead lest my brain come crashing out and bouncing off the windshield.

So, yuck. I'm starting to develop anxiety at the mere idea of leaving the house in case another one hits... but oh yeah, I have plans to go into Boston for the day tomorrow. Hoping it's not exciting...
Friday, February 17, 2006
I'd like you to meet my son, Taco.
Jacob was a late talker. Which was very weird to me, because Emily was an early, and persistent, talker - first words at 4 months, complete sentences before a year, correcting others on their grammar by 18 months. But Jacob, not so much. He had no spoken words (15-20 signs) by a year, and only a handful at 15 months. Always just barely enough communication to convince the pediatrician that we didn't need a speech referral.

So, 3 months ago, maybe 5 words. Now - complete sentences. Bang. It's pretty wild, I never quite know what's going to come out next. He's not real hung up on silly things like context and sentence structure - "Mimi where go?" - but he gets his point across.

The only hindrance to his ability to be understood by one and all is that he's also not especially concerned with the niceties of pronunciation. So "kitty" is "key," "please" is "pweeeeee," and "Jacob" is "Taco."

I think it's too cute to correct him on it. I'm sure Emily will correct him as soon as possible.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
That darn placenta
I have long believed that the placenta is directly attached to a big chunk of the mother's brain, so that after childbirth, her IQ is permanently decreased. I'm okay with this. I've had almost 6 (!) years to come to grips with it, and I've decided I like my new, more svelte IQ. I'm okay with forgetting my car keys four times a day, and then not being able to find them a fifth time because they're already in my hand. I'm comfortable with telling Emily to go pick out her clothes for school tomorrow and getting the "But tomorrow is Sunday" look. I'm now accustomed to picking up the phone, dialing 6 digits, and having to hang up because I can't remember who I was going to call.

But. I have also discovered that, at least for me, my ability to nap was also stored in that chunk of brain. Before I had children, naps were an easy, comfortable, fun way to spend an afternoon, and then I'd be energetic and alert for the evening. Since then, not so much.

Now, on the rare occasion when my tiredness overcomes my but-I-know-better sense, and I do nap, I fall instantly into a hard-core sleep from which a thermonuclear attack on the foot of my bed might, MIGHT, cause me to roll over and say, "Mmph." Then, when I do finally dredge myself back into consciousness, I spend the rest of the day feeling groggy and headachy and cranky and sleepy and whichever of the other Seven Dwarves apply. And I have bed face and bad hair.

Then, to add injury to insult, I ate chicken wings for lunch. (The whole time telling myself, "I really need to lose weight, this is ridiculous.") But I, again, didn't listen to the smarter half of my brain, and I ate them and then immediately laid down for the nap. So now my stomach is all greasy and blech. It, in fact, roils - which is a verb I've read in reference to a stomach before, but had never actually experienced it before today. Blech, blech, I tell you.

I'm a delight to be around right now.
Monday, February 13, 2006
A touch of Mommy-sap
Indulge me for a moment, won't you?

As I alternate cleaning the kitchen and playing online, Jacob is wandering around in the living room, playing with toys and ignoring "Make Way for Noddy" (me, I'd be running screaming from the room), and he's wearing a tie-dye t-shirt, diaper and socks. C'est tout.

He's just so sweet it makes my heart hurt.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
I did a stupid thing last night.
I did a stupid thing last night.

I took Emily fabric-shopping.

Let's back up, shall we? For Christmas, my mom bought me a brand-spankin'-new sewing machine. It's really pretty and nice, and I've already hemmed and mended everything that didn't move. I keep eyeing the cat, but I don't think she'll let me sew a cape on her.

So I've been casting around for project ideas, and I decided that the first "real" project I wanted to do is a beanbag chair or two for the kids, for the living room floor. We've got a big open space and Jacob likes to sit in this little booster seat which falls over at odd moments... it's fun to watch but I worry about his little noggin.

I found a pattern online, and once we had some money to spare and a good coupon, off we went to JoAnn Fabrics. Here's where I screwed up. I *should* have just gone by myself and picked something out, secure in the knowledge that the kids would be happy with anything. But nooooo, I had to go and make this a family event, which ended up in an hour of standing by the fabrics display and arguing over "How about this?" "No, thank you. How about this?" "No, that's hideous and I don't want it in my house. How about this?" "Nooo, I don't like red." And so on.

She ended up with a purple/blue/green leopard print, and the scary thing is that it's NOT the ugliest thing that she liked.

At least Jacob still let me choose. But trust me, there ain't NOTHING matches or corresponds or offsets purple/blue/green leopard print. Nothing. So he gets dark blue with polka dots, and I'll go blind whenever they sit next to each other.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Oh. My. God.

I just took Emily to her first ever school dance. What? School dance? Isn't she, like, 5??

Yes. She's JUST like 5. And her school had a Valentine's Day social. Far be it from me to be the mom who permanently ruins Emily's chance to be cool by not letting her go to the very first dance. At least she's still little enough for it to be cool for me to go, too.

I was really surprised at how choked up and emotional I got about it all. I loved school dances, almost as much as I hated them. All those hormones, not quite fully erupted uyet but simmering just below the surface. All of the angst, the insecurities. Trying to dance just like the girl next to me and yet still maintain some inkling of individuality, knowing that I moved like the Grape Ape only whiter and yet still, in my heart of hearts, hoping that Dick Clark and his American Bandstand would suddenly pop up around me and award me the title of Dancer of the Century.... it all came flooding back.

Emily had never been to anything remotely resembling a dance before, not a wedding reception or even a super-funky elevator. She really had no idea how to move that little body. So, clearly, it was my duty as a mother to look dumber than her, and dance alongside. I did the "Chicken Dance." I did the "Macarena" with said 5-year-old on my hip. I did the "Electric Slide," nearly all by myself because who else remembers how to do it now, 10 years after it could even pretend to be cool, again with her on my hip. I looked like an idiot. And I loved every second of it.

So, if you happened to be in a little elementary school in a small town in New Hampshire tonight, and you saw a somewhat overweight and extraordinarily white woman groovin' with her daughter and blubbering like a baby to "Cotton Eye Joe"... yeah, that was me.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
I was mean yesterday.
Or, at least, I think I was. It felt mean. But maybe it was just a big old hunk o' karma. You decide.

I was at the prison for my weekly pretending-I-have-an-identity adventure, and was assigned to do some psychological testing with a sex offender. The guy walks into the room, and he is just huge. At least a full foot taller than me - and I'm 5'8" - with bad enough posture that he might actually be 7'6". Hands the size of one of my cutting boards. And not the smallest one, the medium-sized one. Complete with scrapes and scars and general beat-up-ed-ness. Intimidating?

Well, no. Because he was 75. Had recently had his third stroke in five years. Was missing an eye, deaf in one ear, unable to use his dominant hand, and dependent on a cane and luck to get from Point A to Point Chair.

My job was to do some interviewing and testing with him to determine - wait for it - whether having three strokes in five years might have had any impact on his mental functioning. Gee, ya think?

So among other things, I was giving him intelligence and memory tests. And he struggled so hard with it, really wanted to do well and just couldn't. Here's a guy 50 - okay, 45 - years older than me who has had a lifetime of manual labor jobs and Navy stints, and he's expected to sit in a room with a whippersnapper, a FEMALE one at that (whippersnappette?), and answer stupid questions and do stupid things and try as hard as he can and still know he's doing it wrong. It was agonizing.

But, let's go back to the beginning. He's a sex offender. Now, I didn't research his original charges, because they're not relevant. But he was incarcerated about 5 years ago. How serious does your offense have to be to be thrown into State Prison at 70? Seriously?? So, let's sit with the assumption that this was a Bad Dude to begin with.

Hmm. Raises all sorts of existential questions about fairness and justice and karma and cycles.


I don't know. I think I'll just go have a brownie.

In lighter news, no one in the town we live in, or perhaps anywhere in New Hampshire, or maybe not anywhere in the whole world, has ever accidentally ripped up their current vehicle registration, before today. Ask Willem how he knows…
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Do they make toxic crayons?
I was just making my 34th pass-through of the living room, picking up toys and putting them into some sort of receptacle other than the floor (gotta give Jacob something to do, right?), and I noticed the label on his new Home Depot crayons: "non-toxic."

I guess I'd assumed that, by now, we weren't selling lead-based children's crayons anymore. Oh, the things I take for granted.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
I'm ready for my cape.
Ugh I am a tired mama. But no one ever said it would be easy to be Supermom, right?

Something like that.

First, I think I earn a gold star just for keeping everyone in my house alive last night. Jacob was awake and miserable - screaming, screeching, whining, moaning, angsting all over the crib - from roughly 2-4, and then up again at 6, and then for the day at 8. So he was miserable, Willem was unhappy, and I was harried. We didn't have enough Valium in the house to deal with it.

Willem and I switched sleep-in days, because he hates taking both kids to Emily's dance lessons, which means Saturdays I had to get up and either take them both or at least be awake to watch Jacob anyway - might as well just get up with them early and then have Sunday to "really" sleep in. Especially after nights like last night, I would have been cranky to get a half-assed lie-in this morning.

So, I took them both to Emily's dance class, and then to the Home Depot for the craft thing. Which, big enough challenge with both kids anyway, but today they decided to hand out TWO projects instead of one - a napkin holder and a crayon/craft caddy... phew. They look fine, and no one seems permanently traumatized from it, but there were moments, when I was hammering two projects at once while Emily stared at the ceiling and Jacob sat in the cart and cried, where I doubted my own intelligence.

But it's the end result that counts, right? I keep telling myself that. Mama Machiavelli.
Friday, February 03, 2006
Where Did it Go?
Last night, Willem went into Boston for a hockey game. I swear that he has told me three times who played, and I still can't remember. Bad sportswife, I know. Only reason I can remember who's in the Superbowl is that I went to high school with a guy on the Seahawks and I've been in the Pittsburgh airport.

Anyway, he gets home at 1:00 in the morning, and I'm still sitting on the couch, chatting online and eating chocolate and watching some "mean people doing bad things" show, and generally just blissful. I had planned on doing typing work for the evening, but when my computer committed technologicide at the end of December I lost all my passwords, including to the FTP site where the to-be-transcribed files live, so instead of earning money I was forced to watch people whom I consider friends though we've never met argue and fight and generally irritate each other. It was both fun (I do love drama when I'm not the central figure) and horrible (estrogen is seriously self-destructive stuff). All in all a good way to spend an evening alone.

So Willem gets home and we both try and rapid-fire our days at each other before we all fall asleep in a big pile. He wanders into the kitchen, grabs the milk, and is about to take a big swig from the container. I level my very best Stop That You Ingrate look at him, and he offers up his best "What? Me??" look. I explained to him that there are certain barbaric behaviors which I really, really need to pretend don't happen in my house. That ranks right up there with bringing the phone into the bathroom and picking his teeth with the toes of Emily's Barbies. Ignorance is bliss. Really.

Speaking of the bathroom, moments of hilarity ensued when we headed in to have a group teeth-brushing and he used the toilet as well. Unfortunately I can't remember WHY it was funny. Just, trust me, it was.

Jacob has suddenly leapt from no words at all to complete sentences - which is only a surprise to me because I predicted it and since when do my predictions ever come true?? Today's was "Where did it go?" spoken with ovary-swelling cuteness and serious toddler intensity.

And not to be outdone, in the car on the way to dinner tonight, Emily was talking about doing arts and crafts in school, and Willem felt the need to pester her little brain with, "How come it's arts and crafts? Do you ever just do arts? How about crafts? Maybe just and?" Her response: "Dad, I don't understand what you're talking about. Can you ask me when I'm older?"
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Aren't you EVER going to wean that baby?
Well, yeah. In fact, I just did.

Jacob's last breastfeeding session was on Saturday morning, so he officially made it 18 months. So now I'm having that ambivalent response where I'm happy that he went as long as he did, and I'm happy that he initiated the weaning and he seems fine with it now, and I'm happy not to have to whip out various body parts at unexpected moments at the whim of a short nonverbal critter. But I'm sad that it's over, too - after some early bumps and bruises and blisters, it was a very smooth, sweet bonding experience between us, and that was the last thing that *only* I could provide for him.

Besides, poor kid, now he won't see another nipple up close until he gets out of the monastery, in, what, 2034 or so?

Ah, well. So that's that.

Jacob has picked up some more new words lately. Many of the typical stand-bys, with my favorites being his versions of "fork" (R's are apparently overrated) and "clock" (who needs L's, anyway?).

In other news, being Groundhog Day, everyone seems to care about whether the rodent saw his shadow but no one seems to know what it means that he did see it. I probably could care less, but I can't figure out how.

I did have to laugh at myself just now, because I did some googling to figure out the deeper existential meaning of this whole groundhod-shadow thing. And I found a website that lists off all of the years it's been done, on an official basis, with the times of the Big Announcement. My mother is sort of a groundhog fiend, she has always gotten up early to hear the announcement and through college I can remember her caling my dorm room at the crack of dawn, literally minutes after I had crawled into a bed after a night of idiocy and debauchery, to tell me whether the rodent had farted this year, or some such trivia. Turns out, the Announcement always happens around 7:15-7:30 in the morning, and this year we were all awake and eating breakfast at the time.

Oh, what a difference 10 years makes in a life. I just can't figure out, was it just that a college version of early morning meant 10:00, or did I really stay out that late?? The world may never know.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Bon mots d'Emilie
I forgot to post this, but it was pretty amusing to me at the time...

A few days ago, we decided to head off to the mall for a while, just to wander around and let the kids use the play area. So, everyone gets bundled up and crammed into the car - WHEN can we stop wearing winter coats again? - and away we go. The drive involes a left turn onto a relatively busy road, and we sat there for a full three or four minutes waiting for a time when I didn't need to pull a peel-out-Dukes-of-Hazzard maneuver to get on the road.

Both kids are sitting quietly in the backseat, until I hear Emily say, very matter-of-factly, "Well, Jacob, traffic is bad today, so we might not make it to the mall. Guess you'll just have to pretend to be at the play place!"

I can't imagine where she inherited a tendency toward sarcasm. Must be from her father.