Thursday, December 31, 2009

Life Gives You Lemons

If you're stuck at home with a sore throat and fever, cozy up in bed with your sister for some late-morning cartoons:

If the first sweater you ever knitted fit funny because you didn't check for gauge and had a bajillion dropped stitches, felt the damned thing, and rock your sweet new winter neckwear:

If it is freezing cold outside and you're stuck inside with the sniffles, mellow in the softest Christmas sweater ever (which was clearly NOT knitted by yo mama):

If your New Year's Eve party gets canceled because of your massive booger production, hold your very own party, with your very own fancy get-up:

If you don't feel like eating the yummy lasagna your hubby prepared for New Year's because you went on a cheese feeding-frenzy in San Diego and your basically vegan system frankly needs to recover, especially its more (shall we say) outgoing parts, then kick back with this most excellent vegan carrot soup recipe (inspired by Nanny and, special bonus, you get to use the 6,000 carrots that have somehow accumulated in your refrigerator over the holidays):

If you'd like to stay in bed all day in your jammies but have two kids who, you know, require you to parent them, it's best to just give in, get dressed, and pretend you're not sick. As my high school history teacher always said, "Look good, feel good, do good." It helps if your two kids pick out your clothes and especially your jewelry. Excellent combinations ensue, don't you think?:

Sid the Misinformed Kid

Also, I should mention that the episode of the PBS show Sid the Science Kid that we're watching this morning is based on the premise that Sid's mom is sick with a cold, and Sid doesn't want to get it, so he learns all about germs and handwashing to avoid getting a cold.

With all respect, what a crock of dog-doo. Because everyone knows you catch things from your kids and then give the sickness back to them, in a lovely back and forth, and also kids know when you're sick and do everything they can to be in your face catching whatever illness you have and giving you strange new germs in return.

PBS, if you need a reality consultant, let me know.

Sick Mama: Day 2

My poor girls. I was sick for a good chunk of November (get over it, already, I can hear you saying) and now am sick again (new immune system, anyone?). My girls and I should be baking and making a family tree and going to see The Princess and the Frog. Tonight was supposed to be a mellow celebration with friends. But instead, it will be another day of hanging out in bed and watching too much t.v. with a grumpy, hacking mama.

And, while coughing up throat plugs this morning, I was thinking about that post I wrote yesterday. I think it was really about feeling sick and not wanting to admit it, and not about being "off my game." That's a typical move, isn't it? Feeling cruddy and extrapolating to some larger malaise that somehow seems to taint everything in my life.

But hanging out in bed might give me some time to write here about how amazing and adorable my kids are, to review that pesky conference proposal I've been procrastinating on, and to post some pictures of my latest knitting project (in which rows have been pulled out rather than ignored when stitches have been dropped, qualifying it as my first "real" knitting project). So, that's where I am today, and that's probably okay.

Coming soon. Happy New Year's, everyone.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Missing the Gap

Things have been going fine, really--even smoothly. Even well. We had a lovely trip to San Diego, where the four little cousins played together beautifully, Gwen giving Addie hugs and kisses at every opportunity and Nolie and Raiff eyeing each other less suspiciously than last time (I imagine next time they meet, they might even play together!).

For the first time I can remember, I have the girls home with me for more than two weeks and I haven't once felt panic about it. This is probably due to the fact that they are older and easier to care for and more fun to be around, but also that I've chilled a little, too.

I've taken most of this time off, but am also managing to get some key tasks done for work, so that's fine, too.

And our house is in great shape! We got new floors and most everything is painted and put away.

Still, I can't shake the feeling that I'm just not on my game. I don't feel totally present. I don't feel so joyful. I feel a bit hazy, all the way around. It doesn't help that I woke this morning with a bit of a sore throat and my lower back on fire from some new exercises (from a book ironically titled Pain Free for Women) I tried last night.

My best guess is that I didnd't get much time for solitude before we left on the trip. There was just holiday madness followed by travel madness. There were almost no days of aimless wandering about the house, or sewing, or reading. And as soon as the kids are back in school next week, I'm back to work. So I guess I'm missing the gap.

Do I sound entitled, wanting the gap back? Do I sound spoiled? I mean, plenty of folks who work very, very hard, don't get a few days every December to just chill, so who do I think I am, right? Shouldn't I just get over it?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just Ride It In

Nolie's sleep has been like this for months: major, major resistance at bedtime. Hours spent prepping her and getting her asleep. Followed by waking up in the middle of the night, three, four, five times. She's terrified when she hears the train. She thinks there is a thunderstorm. She doesn't want to be alone.

We try: soothing her. Sleeping with her. Threatening her. Having consequences. Crying it out. Wanting (but never, don't worry) wanting to throttle her.

Then, finally, we give up, and in exhausted desperation one night, pull out the trundle bed in Addie's room, throw Nolie in there. Eureka! A quiet, full night's sleep. I feel like I've won a prize. This will be our new way of doing things.

Except: we want to protect Addie's quiet time at bedtime (she reads and reads and reads) so we tell Nolie she has to fall asleep in her bed first and then we'll move her to Addie's room when she wakes up in the middle of the night. And remember when I tried moving the girls into one room a few months back, and it was a disaster because Nolie couldn't settle down? This seems like a good half-solution. Fall asleep alone; sleep together in the middle of the night.

Dumbest parenting move ever. You know what's coming.

Of COURSE this is too confusing for Nolie, and so it takes even longer to get her to sleep initially because she doesn't really know when she's asleep and is fairly convinced she has slept even when she hasn't, and wants to go directly to Addie's room. Who wouldn't? She figures it out immediately. The circles beneath our eyes grow deeper and darker, and I start to despair, feeling like I did when I had a newborn, but worse, because I thought we were past all that, for heaven's sake. Feeling like we are losing more and more ground and before long both kids will be sleeping in our bed when we're fifty and there will be no sex or privacy or quiet EVER AGAIN.

So we decide to go back to square one: no sleeping in Addie's room. Nolie will stay in her room and that's that.

Which lasted all of one night. She broke us, wore us down, made us her little whiny bitches.

And now, there is a little bed set up in Addie's room again. And every night the girls sit in there and listen to an audiobook (they love Magic Tree House stories and also Junie B. Jones). They are happy as clams, Addie included (turns out she was a little lonely, too). Then we read books, and the two of them drift off to dreamland, no problem.

Oh, Nolie still wakes up once in a while, and we take her potty, and pat her back until she drifts back off. But this is nothing, people. I've been to hell, and I know what it looks like, and this feels much more like heaven.

Yet more proof that when faced with major parenting trauma, let go of your notion of what must be and jump into the flow, yo. Just ride it in.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Not So Crafty Christmas

I had plans. Big plans. Everyone was going to receive homemade gifts from me for the holidays, and those gifts wouldn't be lame (like they have sometimes been in the past). They'd be nice. Things you'd think were bought from the store. This would be in keeping with my move toward consuming less and valuing others more with my time and energy.

And then, the last few months exploded, leaving icky bits all around. I didn't plan well enough for one of my classes last summer, and then when things got crazy in the fall with the snowstorms and the pig flu and the travel, that not-planning bit me in the ass (ouch!). As we speak, I'm trying to recover from the abject failure that was one of these classes this semester (the other one went fine, I think). Ick. Ick. Ick. Doesn't help that I have a big professional review coming up and am probably going to have to explain some baaaad student evaluations for this last semester.

So, I'm getting real. Taking a deep breath. Allowing moments of grace in. Like the fact that most of the adults in my life offered to not trade gifts this year, instead focusing our energies on the little ones in the family. That's a huge relief. Like the fact that I'm in a career that allows for some failures now and then. I'm probably not going to be fired tomorrow. Like the fact that I had an hour late last night where I could just sit and listen to my needles moving back and forth in the dark stillness of my house, without feeling pressure to finish.

I guess it's this: I love making things. But I don't like having to make things. For me, making things is a time to disengage from duty and responsibility and my incessant brain chatter. If it becomes obligatory, the joy goes out of it. I'm all about finding opportunities to feel less obliged. So I'm just going to respect that, and celebrate a less-hectic holiday, which is exactly what this one is shaping up to be.

Glory, Hallelujah (or Honolulu, as my girls would say).

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I'm flexing my blog muscles, honing my chops, trying to get back in to a rhythm of writing for the next few weeks now that classes are over and out from under the tremendous burden of grading (which, like an idiot, I created for myself).

All by way of saying that you can check out this little, ill-formed rant over at the Huff Post Denver, if you're so inclined. It's a sad little thing, but I'm trying to claw my way back into the blogosphere, here and elsewhere, so be kind.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Home Work

It's been too long since I last posted. I won't bore you with why, cause it's the same old stuff. Let's, instead, start with today, which is my very favorite kind of day:

It's cold, cold, cold outside, and there is snow on the ground, but not enough to close the schools. Perfect for staying in with coffee and work, with periodic gazes out the window at the trees.

I don't have to be on campus today, so I walked Addie to the bus stop in my jammies and down coat and then walked home and crawled right back in bed with my laptop and coffee, still loyally delivered every morning by E and constituting one of my favorite and best parts of the day, where I feel most happy and loved. I somehow managed to get the number of emails in my inbox back down to a reasonable level, which always lowers my stress-o-meter a few notches.

I'm caught up on work for classes, for this wee moment, so I can finally turn my attention to the wicked-long list of writing tasks I've been needing to do. This morning was about that. Our book comes out early spring, so that will be gobbling up loads of time the next few weeks, along with a special issue of a journal set to drop, yo. Mark your calendars.

Squash soup and homemade bread for lunch. A quick knitting break (my first sweater!). Thoughts about Chrismas, with shopping mostly done and now only homemade gifts to make or not make, as time allows.

Another coffee, to warm hands and heart.

Then, to pick up Nolie. In our new car! I'm not loving cars that much, but our new one is great. Mazda 5, I sing thee praises. Then meet Addie at the bus stop again, with my mom head firmly screwed on (I don't think I've mentioned that I now navigate the age-old, aggravating switch from "work" head to "mom" head really effectively, maybe partly because I've given up trying to kill myself at work. But that's for another post).

That's it. That's the perfect day for me.

Correction: the perfect workday. The perfect day-day? Well, that will have to wait.