Sunday, January 30, 2011


I was sick all day on Friday.  Seems to be a 24-hr stomach flu, because it left as quickly as it came.  But for all of Friday, I was sick.  S. I. C. K.  When I tweeted "it's like your worst hangover, anxiety attack, and morning sickness rolled into one" I wasn't kidding.  The only answer to the tweet asking if I could mix pepto and immodium was from Pepto themselves, reminding me that there are warnings on the labels. 

Being sick as a single parent is a special kind of ... experience.  Normally I would just call in the reinforcements (my mom).  However, she was on a preplanned road trip to a winery with two good friends, and - although my first throw-up was early enough that I very well could have called her and asked her to cancel plans or take the wee one - I thought I could tough it out on my own.

By 3:00 in the afternoon I was counting minutes until her return.  When she asked me to pack a diaper bag I just randomly threw some crap into a reusable grocery bag and hung it on the door for when she arrived.

In the interim, I laid on the couch and watched my kid destroy the living room.  I got up long enough to make her a cheese sandwich that she didn't eat.  I slept while she napped, and then couldn't get up without throwing up, so I let her play with all the "no-no"s in my room while I laid in bed and tried not to shiver.  She went through a brand-new box of tissues, another one of my toothbrushes, a partial can of coke, a bottle of contact solution (hey, the saline helped dilute the spilled coke that I had to wipe up off the floor), and finally, my phone.

My dad brought me some phenergan and some other stuff.  I took the phenergan, went to bed, and woke up happy and normal.  Amazing.

They did not fare the evening so well, apparently.  Dad said that Mom didn't get her to sleep until after 9:00 - they didn't do bath or books, so I'm wondering how Mom expected her to even know it was bedtime, but okay - then during the 3 am wakeup, my mom started getting sick herself.

So the first all night sleepover at Nan and Grandpas wasn't totally smooth, but now the weekend is over, and we've all had The Sick, and now it's time to survey the aftermath.

My house is a wreck.  Not just because of Friday, but just because.  I did at least do dishes on Saturday, so that's something.  Even when I "clean", my house is still a shitty wreck, because I don't have the energy to, or know how to, properly clean.  Cleaning is HUGE anxiety trigger for me - I didn't understand this until reading stuff other people write about the same issues I have.  Then suddenly it all makes sense for me.  Amazing.  Now, what to do about it?

So a friend was giving me a tv.  I had straightened up the living room enough that my dad wouldn't curse too loudly when he got here with the tv.  But then he asked me where I wanted the old tv.  I thought of a day a couple of months ago when I wanted to finish watching a football game in bed, and thought it would be nice to have a tv in my room again, so I thought I'd move it to my room.  In order to do that, I had to move around The Mess to make room.  So now that room is all disrupted and even Messier.

Then my dad wants to go to the basement to check out the cable, to see if he can run cable to my room.  To clear a path, I shove dirty laundry, all carefully sorted yesterday, into a side area of the basement.

While they are checking out the cable I try hanging baby clothes in an attempt to do something that might make a difference.  Guess what?  Closet is too full, and one laundry hamper of put-away clothes doesn't make a damn bit of difference in what the house looks like. 

So I'm freaking out and overwhelmed at the new tv, which is huge and doesn't seem stable enough and I'm now convinced it's not safe for my living room with a toddler.  I'm loathing my bedroom which has a tv that's too big and now the dresser is in the wrong spot and the whole place is a wreck ...

So I head back to mom's to get the wee one.  Mom is also in the throes of organizing her house.  Since she's the one who taught me everything, you can imagine her house is in a similar state.  She has pulled everything out of a back, insignificant closet, so her stuff is now all in the living room.  I decided that feeling overwhelmed at my house in the middle of my own chaos and crap was much better than being at her house in the middle of her chaos and crap, so we came home.

In the middle of all of this, I start getting crampy, and yes, it has been two weeks since my TMI post, hasn't it.  PMS much?

While trying to clean the kitchen, I throw away two entirely full, never touched, containers of yogurt.  Sometimes my kid loves yogurt, sometimes she doesn't.  But what drives me nuts is that lately she will ask for it, then refuse it.  "yo-ee?".  She will even get a container out of the fridge and bring it to you.  "yo-ee?  yo-ee?"  You open it in front of her, stick a spoon in it, and she shakes her head.  You try to feed her, you leave it set on her table in the hopes that she will feed herself, and it sits there until you pick it up and throw it away.  So after throwing away two of those today, my kid asks for yogurt again.  And when I say no, she throws a fit.

So by this time, I am Out Of Patience.  It's the chaos, it's the PMS, it's the yogurt.  It's the prep for work that I need to do this week but haven't.  It's the assignment that I need to work on for my class but can't.

But what can you do?  You can't walk out the door and go have a drink like the olden days.  You can't call mom yet again, when she saved you when you were sick and she watched the kid most of the day while you were getting a new tv.  You can't yell.  You can't punch a wall, no matter how much a third container of uneaten yogurt may make you want to.

So when she asked for her bath at 5:30, I quickly obliged.  Of course you can take your bath and get ready for bed now.  Please, please do.

On the rocking chair, reading books, she's yawning (as am I, but too much to do before I can sleep).  It's 6:00, this is awesome.  I might even be able to clean the sticky shit off the kitchen floor, which might help the chaos feeling, right?

When suddenly she gets a second wind.  Wants to read every book in her room.  Wants to chant "Nee, Boppa, Sage (the dog), Mike (the friend who helped with the tv)" for an hour.  Wants yogurt.  Wants juice.  Wants Dora y Boots. 

There goes time for my clean kitchen floor.

Finally, I rocked her to sleep.  Despite the early bath, she went to sleep right at the usual time of 7:30 on the nose.

I was hoping that writing it all would help me feel less ... overwhelmed/angry/anxious/overwhelmed.  Maybe with the angry.  Not with the rest.  I can't even figure out what's the more important thing to work on now and what can wait for 8 am, so I'm doing nothing except blogging.  Which is totally helping the kitchen floor/messy bedroom/laundry thing, right?

And now I want to just delete this whole thing, because it's just crap.  It's just me being hormonal crap, and who needs that?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Potential for Shame

There is a post in me that I need to write, that I've needed to write for three weeks.  I didn't write it three weeks ago, haven't written it (other than in my head 50 different times) since, so I haven't written much else either.

The thing is, I'm not even sure what all it's supposed to say.  But here it is, a third Saturday where I feel like I need to write, it, so here we go.

I'm not a very athletic person.  I come from a long line of very intellectual, non-athletic people.  In the olden days, we would have been the wise village elders, fed from the products of someone else's hunting.  So with that heritage, I want to introduce my daughter to fun physical things from an early age.  I'd like her to know the joy of physical movement before she realizes it's a chore like the rest of us feel.  When she started climbing on anything and everything she could, I knew it was a good time to start gymnastics.

One morning while waiting for open gym to start, I was watching a class.  A group of about 5 girls, aged around 7 or 8, being taught by a short, thin girl who looked to be a teenager.  Their task was to stand on a colored line with their arms straight above their heads, bend their knees and go into a backwards roll, then put their hands flat on the floor beside their heads and push up out of the roll.  The first girl did it okay, the second girl made it, and the third girl struggled.  The "teacher" went over to help her, and kept making her do it over and over again, trying to show her the proper place in the movement to brace her hands and push up.  I was on the other side of a glass window from the class, so I didn't hear the words that were said.  But I thought to myself this is a situation ripe for "shaming".

The thought came to me so quickly it almost took my breath.  You put young girls in the care of someone who herself looks like a young girl, and expect her to "teach" in a positive way, when she herself might not have ever had that as her example.

I figured I was overreacting, as I tend to do, and put it out of my head.


I don't remember being shamed.  Oh, wait, yes I do.

That's how I had intended to start this post on the 17th through 24th iteration in my brain.

I was in a dance class doing plies with all the other girls when the "teacher" asked who wears underwear under their tights.  Several of the girls pointed to me, so I guess I didn't need to raise my hand.  She informed me that I didn't need to do that.  I couldn't hear from the roaring sound in my ears from trying to hold back tears.

One day while trying on costumes for an upcoming recital, I hid behind the coke machine to change so noone would see me naked.  I was then chastised by the teacher for not trying on the costume OVER my other clothes because "that's just gross".


Last week from gymnastics, I came home complaining.  "I feel like we're in the wrong class," I told my parents.  By then we'd had two different teachers, who had - I felt - unrealistic expectations for my daughter.  The class is supposed to be for 18-36 months.  There is alot of jumping (my daughter can't jump, a motor skill I've been told may not develop until closer to age three) and ALOT of waiting in line to watch other people do things.  My daughter doesn't understand "come stand on the blue line" even if you say it to her 15 times in an increasingly loud voice.  It's not that she doesn't hear you, it's that she doesn't understand the concept.  I try to help her and guide her, but my kid is not going to stand idle for 10 minutes while you try to get all the other kids to line up. 

The kids are expected to sit down (along the colored line, or along the short balance beam) and watch one child being led through the entire obstacle course of equipment.  Who expects a 21 month old to do that?  The kids are expected to jump over things, follow verbal instructions, wait their turn.  When doing something really cool, like the trampoline, the "teacher" wanted to wait until all the kids were sitting indian style along the side to watch as they were allowed to go one-by-one jumping down the trampoline.  Who expects that of a kid that age?  So most of our class time is waiting for everyone to sit on a line, or everyone to watch one person do something.  Of course the parents are there to help with the waiting in line and the physical stuff, but it just seems like they are expecting something of these kids that isn't developmentally appropriate.

Perhaps my expectations are unrealistic here, if they are, please tell me.

My dad got mad at my bitching.  He reminded me that they found us a spot in this class and to be grateful.  (It was then that I remembered that my parents were the ones footing the bill for this also, for which I am very thankful.)

Today was more of the same, only for a shorter period of time, because of class pictures.  One of the last things we did was an obstacle course, where one task was to jump from the floor up onto a thick mat.  The children were expected to jump from the floor up onto the thick mat AND land on their feet.  One little girl who is much older than my wee one, and seems good at gymnastics, tried to do the task.  She actually landed up on the thick mat, but not on her feet.  The teacher's response?

"Ope, you've got to land on your feet."

No praise, no positive reinforcement, no "good job, and next time try to land on your feet".  Nothing encouraging.  So what if you're the only kid who could even make it up onto the mat, you still didn't do it right.

And it crystallized for me why I hate organized sports.  If perfection is expected the first time out, and positive reinforcement isn't given along the way, it's no wonder I became a bookworm.


Okay, so I knew that having a daughter would mean reliving all the things that were painful about my childhood.  So what if you were pointed at and made fun of because you wore panties under your tights.  So what if you didn't follow instructions and were corrected.  So what if you think everyone is out to make you feel like shit so you see that in every potential situation.  This isn't about you, V, it's about your daughter.

This morning on the way home, I thought about music class.  We started going to music class when she was 5 months old, and went every session until this one - because we switched to gymnastics.  Music class is an ENTIRELY different atmosphere.  The room they are in is very well child-proofed, and the chidren are given free reign in the room.  If they want to run and jump and dance they can.  If they want to stay close to a parent they can.  I remember in one of my first classes, a mother trying to corral a vivacious toddler, and the teacher just smiled and said "he's fine, let him run, he'll come back to the group when we do something interesting."  The class moves immediately from one song to the next, and the teacher never says anything like "okay, everyone sit down, we can't start the next thing until everyone is sitting down".  It's a friendly, joyous place.

I really miss music class.

This is basically the only gymnastics place in the area, unless I want to go across the river.  I haven't looked into any of the dance studios to see if they do any "dance" or tumbling for her age.  We have joined the YMCA and they are supposed to have toddler classes, so I might look into that, or just take her swimming all the damn time as her physical exercise.


But yet, I watch the older girls, girls in middle school, girls in high school, doing flip on the balance beam and dismounts from the bars, and I wonder if my wee one wants to do that someday.  Should I give her the chance to have that training even if it means she won't get the positive reinforcement that I think is healthy?

How do you do this?  Send your child out into the world and hope they don't beat her down the way you were?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Feminist Motherhood Roundup

I was not really raised with the principles or ideas of feminism.  Sure, I was raised with the believe that I as an individual person could do anything that I set my mind to.  My worshipful mother instilled that in me deeply.  But not the ideas that society as a whole holds an unrealistic expectation of women, judges them unfairly when they don't meet the expectatations, and almost doesn't even know what to do with women, and therefore develops the fatal double standard of madonna and whore, so no matter what one does, society has grounds to condemn.  That those expectations are so prevalent and insidious that they often go without being questioned, and one grows up wondering why one feels so foreign in ones own skin, despite being told of ones value so often.  Noone tells you what to do if you find yourself both madonna and whore, when both are vilified in the public square.

My first experience with feminist theory didn't come in college.  Or in a classroom at all for that matter.  It came in a therapist's office.  A therapist who believed so strongly in feminism that it oozed out every pore of her being.  It made her smile at me so often - probably to hide her shock at my naivite.

I loved feeling empowered.  I read everything I could get my hands on, from online issues of Bitch to Manifesta.  I started the classic "I Am Woman Hear Me Roar" phase.  I would have loved to be a trendy bisexual, if I could fall in love with women like that.  I liked gender neutral words like wimmin and grrls.  I vowed never to marry again, never to have children, never to shackle myself to The Patriarchy and all the insidious judgements (probably why I have had a hard time finding a church where I am comfortable.  Feminism and churches seem slightly antithetical to me at this point.)

Now, here I am.  I've managed to find a career that is female-oriented.  I teach allied health students - a female-dominated area - but in higher education - so no male principal/female teaching staff dyads.

In the course, though, I have become a Mother.  A single mother, no less.  And even ex-vice presidents believe that I am the bane of the world's existence.  So back to feminist theory I go to help me find my voice, and identify with others.

What's this?  Not just feminist writings, but writings on feminist motherhood?  No wonder I stay up so late reading, clicking link after link.

My first was blue milk.  I found her while I was pregnant.  I thought her views were strong - I still had an idealized view of what this mommyhood thing would be all about.  Once I had a girl to protect, I came back for ideas on how to do that.  She is the source of the video on gender bias in toy commercials that I wrote about previously.  She also pointed me Hoyden About Town, which has tons of great stuff.  (These ladies are located down under, which is why they are discussing summer while the rest of us are freezing our you-know-whats off.)

At some point I came across ArwynThis post on some of the feelings one can have while nursing that make people uncomfortable helped me through my own, slightly different, experiences ... it's incredible that people have the courage to be raw and bare and honest, because it helps so many other people make sense of where they are on their own journey on the continuum.  She has a whole bunch of posts on Feminist MotherhoodThis one is a great response to a post written by a man who calls himself a doctor.

Lots of others to recommend.  Many I have found because of their lactivism (views on breastfeeding support) so they may-or-may-not be true feminist blogs, but take up the feminism of supporting breastfeeding mothers. 

And one of my favorite writers is Caitlin Flanagan, book author and writer for The Atlantic.  I adore this treatment of the female Duke student situation (and it helps that I love her name, no?).

If anyone knows of a feminist treatment about The Daddy Question (relevant to SMC's) please give me a heads up.  Otherwise I may have to work one up myself, and contribute to the feminist motherhood discussion.  Like, why it freaking matters so much to us as feminist mothers and our daughters and sons who may or may not grow up to be feminist offspring.

What about you - read any good feminist or feminist mothering blogs lately?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cover Post

So Jellybean Mama sent a whole bunch of people (okay, like three) over here, and didn't tell me.  And last night I was all like "I need to get laid, yo" and she was all like "I hope she's not a pervert who will molest me" and, well, I don't think those two posts really jived well.  So I have to write something else, so the three people that come over from JM don't send her private emails like "um, I don't think she's a man, but I totally wouldn't spend three days alone with her."

So, what to write?  I guess it's a good time to announce ... I'm applying for a new job.

It's not as big a deal as it sounds.  I'm applying for a Division Chair position at my current college.  I believe I will retain my tenure track status, so I can still be working toward tenure, even though I will be doing more administrative work and less teaching.  It is very similar to a position I held at my previous college, before the newly hired provost got inside my head and took a sledgehammer to my sense of identity and self-worth.  (More background here).

It is also only being advertised internally, so it is very possible that they already have a person selected or in mind, and this is all a dog-and-pony-show to put that person in place.  In any event, it will be practice interviewing, which I haven't had - other than to get my current job - in a couple of years, and it will send the signal to my college's administration that I would like to be considered for the administrative/leadership track.

But reading my recommendation letters is pretty uplifting.  Other than "walk on water" I think they pretty much have it covered.  :)

So I'm pretty excited about it.  My run-in with said provost left me pretty scarred.  It has taken me a while to do the appropriate self-examination, take the appropriate responsibility for my part in the disaster, but leave the rest squarely in her lap, and start to envision myself as a successful academic leader again.  I will say my views on some things have changed significantly, and I am much less naive.  I also recognize more that building professional relationships has to be intentional, and those relationships are the key to getting things accomplished in academia.  I think I will do an even better job this time around, and I'm excited about the opportunity.

I also learned my lesson about developing personal relationships with folks with whom you work.  I mean, it seems sensible, I know, but when you think he's your soulmate .... like I said, naive.

So, that's the news around here.

The crazy news is ... my kid grew.  Like, in two days she became bigger and older.  And L.O.U.D.E.R.  I guess that not-sleeping thing was, indeed, preceding a growth spurt/developmental leap.  She now talks in three word sentences, she knows "two", "five", "eight-nine-ten", and she has decided that she is now capable of doing absolutely everything on her own, so the "no" has become more frequent, emphatic, and have I mentioned louder yet?  Trying to feed her today was fun.  She requested cereal which she refused to eat.  She then requested "oatmee" which she ate one bite of.  I spent three hours trying to get her to eat anything and everything.  Finally she ate some fake chicken before her nap.

I feel like I spent the day with a whirling dervish and now that she's asleep I'm about to drop into bed myself.  But I had to cover up the "I need sex" post with something better.

That's as good as I've got!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I must be ovulating.  (Mom, go away.)

I have pimples on my face, and the egg-white cervical mucus (which I usually refer to as 'ovulation goo') in copious amounts.

And I've been having dreams.

Not really sex dreams, per se.  Those would actually include The Sex.

No, these are more anticipation dreams.

First, it was my ex-husband.  (Yes, I was married.  For less time than my daughter has been alive, and it ended in 1999, so you don't have to count it if you don't want to.  I don't, most of the time.  But that's the person who was in my dream two nights in a row.)  First, I dreamt that we were going someplace to have The Sex, but his mom was there and we didn't want her to know.  The next night I dreamt we were going someplace to have The Sex, but my mom was there and I didn't want her to know.

I went a couple of nights without a sex dream, but they came back.  One was a complete stranger, that I was trying to get to have sex with me in a library.  One was vaguely like an ex of mine, but he wanted to have sex with my best friend, so I woke up horny AND pissed off.  Last night I dreamed I was in a house in the Highlands area, and I'd met this guy, but he was like 22 and really buff and cute, and he wasn't sure he wanted to be my boyfriend, and I was like "who cares, let's get it on" and he was really unsure and then I woke up.  His bed was a sheet-covered futon and there was 80s music in the background.

I need to have sex.  For reals.  Soon.

This is my longest dry spell since college.  I mean, I used to think six weeks was a dry spell.  It's been over two years, and I'm dying here.  When I wrote the last post about this subject?  I had no idea.  It's so much worse.

My birthday is coming up.  If someone wants to get me something?  Just make sure his name isn't Bob, so there's no chance it could be my ex-husband.

The F Word

WARNING: This post contains profanity.  Not suitable for the young 'ens.  Except my young 'en is the one speaking ....

So yesterday my mom, my kid, my godmother, and I, took a road trip.  1.5 hour drive to an outlet mall, hours of shopping and eating, then the drive home.  It was fun.  Until the kid started screaming.  Then, not so fun anymore.

We parked the car when we got there, and I got the kid out and set her down.

She said "fuck".


We walk into a cooking store.  "Fuck".   A friendly gentleman gives me a knowing look.  I make a mental note not to say anything profane ever again ever-ever-ever-in-my-life-not-even-after-she's-21-and-moved-out-please-God-don't-let-my-mom-hear-her-say-fuck-in-the-store.

The child starts running in the direction of a display, and repeats "fuck, fuck, fuck".  I am dying.  Where is my mother?  Please don't stare, judgemental strangers.

She walks up to a display of kid's aprons.  She points, and says "fuck".

Pointing?  To a frog. 


Not "fuck", "frog".

Her version of "duck" and "dog" sound nothing alike, so why her version of "frog" sounds like "fuck", I have no idea.

But if you hear my kid say "fuck", look around for a frog.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Delurk! Delurk!

It's Delurking Day!  That means all you peeps who come by and read periodically but don't comment, now is your chance!!!!!

So please leave me a comment.  I am so curious about the folks reading that I don't know.  I can tell from the stats that you're coming and reading.  Please leave a note about yourself.

And not just today!  Commit to delurking!!!

Other tidbits:

The semester is off to a fabulous start.  Having everything prepared ahead of time really has taken a load off.  Oh, and not teaching an overload helps too.  Not in the bank account department, but you know.

What else?

I'll announce this here, and see how long it takes my mom to mention it to me, and I'll know if she's been reading the blog.  I'm going on vacation.  For the President's Day weekend.  With Jellybean Mama and JR.  And I am so freaking excited I can't even wait.  Even though it means a 14 hour drive in a car with a toddler, and peeing by the side of the road if she's asleep, according to the aforementioned JM.  We are going to swim in an indoor lazy river, and ... well, probably do that some more.  If she lets me, I'll probably sleep on a float in that indoor lazy river.  SO stoked. 

Other items of note:

1.  Allergy shots suck.  Actually, it's the getting there before they close, waiting the half hour after getting them, and trying to do all that in time for dinner at a reasonable hour that sucks more (but the two needles in the arms of my toddler isn't exactly a picnic, no matter how good she is or how many bath ducks they give her.)

2.  What potty books do you guys recommend?  I have to buy a new potty chair - or the seat that Funky Mama Bird recommended - because she totally doesn't like the potty we have.  But she tells me when she needs to be changed, usually only poops once (maybe twice) a day, and goes for periods staying dry, so I think we're close to being ready for training.  I have Dinosaur vs the Potty, and a Scholastic one.  If you're ever bored, you should get on Amazon and look up potty videos, and spend time reading what parents have written on the reviews.  The ones that are the best are the ones that bitch for three paragraphs about the parent's view of the video, then end with "but my kid loves it, started using the potty right away, and we're totally out of diapers".  Hmmm, perhaps leading with that, more relevant, information is a better idea than your personal hell at listening to the annoying songs.

3.  I finally decided that I was willing to adopt the cat that I found online, only to find out that he's not available.  Adopted, thankfully, not the other outcome.  Minorly disappointed.  So I'm looking for another cat.  Maybe Spring Break will be a good time to bring a kitty home.

4.  The randomness of this post is brought to you by bottled Stella Artois, now being carried by my local supermarket.

Photos of my kid:

Okay, now you can comment.  I've given you all the fodder I have at the moment.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sleeping Stuff

For the past 6 months (well, until Christmas Eve) my kid was an awesome sleeper.  I have written about the sleep training I did to get her transitioned from co-sleeping and nursing-all-night to sleeping in her own bed and eventually sleeping through the night (see the Sleeping tab at the top for much more). 

Every night we finish the bedtime routine, I put her in bed still awake, I tell her I love her and goodnight, and I close the door.  I marvel (and knock on wood) that she drops off to sleep on her own.  I marvel (and knock on wood) the nights that I don't hear a peep until 6-ish in the morning.  The nights I didn't usually meant teething, fever, stuffy nose, or some other malady needing attention.

Other than a couple of bumps in the road (nothing a night light couldn't solve), sleep wasn't much of an issue for us anymore.

Until mid-December.  The unraveling began slowly.  We started having some early wakeup issues when I started my vacation.  Not fun when Mommie is finally on vacation and doesn't HAVE to wake up early.  Other than a 5:30 wake up call from her room, though, she was still sleeping pretty well.

Then the napping started to be an issue.  Most days I could still convince her to go to sleep in her crib if we were at home, and she would get a decent nap.  If we were at Nan's it was more of a challenge.  Christmas Eve she didn't nap at all.

But she was still going to sleep perfectly well at night.  Occasionally a 3 am cry, and I would go pick her up and hug her, and she would go back to sleep.

So it was decided over dinner one night that she would spend the night at Nan's for New Years Eve.  It would give Mommie a night out, a full night's sleep, and a chance to sleep in for once.  It would give her the experience of sleeping away from Mommie, which we have never done before.  Mommie was really looking forward to it.

To help Nan and Grandpa, I started preparing a series of short videos with hints on our bedtime routine.  I didn't expect them to replicate the bedtime routine exactly, but I thought it would help if I showed them what I did to get the girl to go to sleep well at night.

(Also, I had a slightly ulterior motive.  One day at Nan's when the wee one wouldn't go to sleep unless rocked to sleep on Nan's shoulder, I was bitching to the my dad about how my mom had screwed up the good napping by letting her do that.  My dad replied "well, she thinks you just put her in her crib to cry herself to sleep.  Perhaps the reality is somewhere in between."  I wanted to prove to my mom that I really did just put her in her crib to go to sleep - without crying.  The videos would show.)

So the Tuesday evening before the big sleepover, I located my camera and started the series of videos. 

Some hints on preparing for bedtime.

One showing how we do the bath.

One showing what we do after the bath.  I sometimes do lotion, unless she's shivering.  Then I just try to get her dry and dressed as quickly as possible.

A photo showing that sometimes she does wear the hair wrap, but most of the time just pulls it off.

The concluding video would be dark, I knew, because by then we have turned the light way down in preparation for the wee one going into her bed and going to sleep.  I tell the camera that we have finished eating the oatmeal snack, have finished reading the books, and the music has concluded.  Now we have the ocean sounds on, I have her on my shoulder, and we are ready for the last step.  I sing a song, lay her in bed ....

And she cries.

She doesn't normally do that.  I don't want that on the video.  So I shut of the camera, delete that video, and start again.

I repeat the same info, I sing a verse of the song.  I lay her in her crib ...

And she cries.  And says "Mommie, Mommie".

That was the first night that I had to revisit sleep training to get her to go to bed.

We tried again the next night to shoot the last video.  The same ending.  Crying, begging to be picked back up.  That was the night I had to move the rocking chair back into her room - it hasn't been there in almost a year - and rock her to sleep.  And back to sleep every time she woke up that night.

So I never posted the videos (until now).  The sleepover never happened - I ended up sleeping at mom's with her that night.  She woke up twice.

If you've been following my Twitter feed you know about all the other nights too.  The 2 am waking where she was up for 2 hours.  The impromptu slumber party because she simply couldn't go back to sleep.  The night where she slept wrapped around my head.  The nights that it took an hour of reading, an hour of bedtime routine, and yet another hour to get her to go to sleep.  I feel almost immediately into bed after all of that.

I am happy to report that, after a week of being back to a regular schedule, our sleep issues seem largely resolved.  It's pretty bad that it takes me going back to work to get us back on a regular routine.  It proves how very much a standard day-to-day routine helps little ones bodies, and how too much of a good thing (i.e. vacation and grandparents and Christmas) can completely throw them off.

So now that we're back on track, I might try making the last video again.  Knock on wood.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

No Answers, Only Questions

The semester begins tomorrow.  Yes, I have been back at work for a week preparing and attending meetings, but classes actually begin tomorrow.

I have been thinking alot about work.  My first full-time faculty position was basically my first "real" job after earning my Ph.D.  It depends on if you count a postdoc and adjunct teaching as a "real job", which many people (including myself, sometimes) don't.

I started out teaching at a very small community and technical college that was trying to find its way after the reforms our state put in place.  I was the only person that taught my subject area for several years, so I could help build the department (with lacking budget, of course.)  It was a very valuable experience.  One of the biggest things I've learned since I left there?  Is how unique an experience it was.

I really want to go back.

So now I'm at a large urban community and technical college, the second oldest and the largest in the state.  With a huge, established, aging faculty.  I teach on a campus separate from my entire department.  Despite being in my second year there, many people don't seem to know who I am.  I feel isolated much of the time.

I never said goodbye at my old place.  I went on maternity leave earlier than expected because of my health issues.  I left the Friday before Spring Break with most of the college not knowing that I wouldn't be returning until after the birth.  Which is when I decided that it would be easier to stay close to my parents, so I never went back at all.

Then there is the matter of the students.  I'm not sure what's different there.  I still teach students going through an intensive selective admissions process for allied health courses.   I still teach a content-rich, academically rigorous course.  I actually have fewer students per class than I did before, and overall slightly less of a teaching load than where I was before.  (Significantly less than what I would be teaching under their new workload policy instituted just before I went on maternity leave.)  But my experience over the last three semesters included less respect and responsibility, and more of an expectation on me to handhold, than where I was previously.

I usually do my self-examination and reflection at the beginning of the academic year.  I find myself revisiting that process in my mind after the stresses of last semester.  I'm working quite hard on the process of tenure, to be secure in this position for my and my child's future.  So why do I complain so much about (at, at times, loathe so much) the very job I'm trying to earn security for?

I don't have an answer.  This isn't your tidy little post with background, the crux of the question, and a neat little answer tied up in a bow.  It's just angsty self examination at its finest.  Sorry if you're disappointed.

I've also been thinking alot about codependency.  In normal development, humans move from a state of complete dependence, to acquiring independence, to being capable of healthy interdependence.  (I got that from a book, either a Pia Mellody or a Melody Beattie, my two favorite authors on the subject of codependence.)  I find myself struggling with the healthy interdependence part in many areas of my life.  I feel like I went from dependence, to independent, and never learned the third step.  I spent 18 years as independent as I could, and now I'm back home.  In a place that I honestly never expected to live ever again in my life.

There's other, more tangential and infrequent, thoughts in my head too.  About personal power - how you feel vicitimized when you feel powerless.  The more of your own power you can possess the less victimized you might feel.  But how does one do that in a way that is respectful of others?  About group dynamics - how strong emotions like anxiety seem to spread through a group of isolated individuals.  What is my responsibility as a faculty member for helping to manage that?  What is my responsibility for helping with group cohesion - before the group gets unruly and turns on me for what they feel are unreasonable expectations?

I guess it all boils down to: how do I start the semester off feeling positive?  Because I know with the weather/season, the stress, the obligations, the students, etc, that if I don't start off high, then I'll end up really really low.  And I don't have an answer to how to do that.

So today I'm cleaning.  Which isn't helping because my toddler is trying to "help".  And every time I turn my back a bucket of soapy water gets overturned or the pile of dirt I just swept up is scattered by her sweeping efforts.  It almost seems symbolic - I'm trying to create order which is immediately turned into disorder.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Photo Gallery

I've been taking tons of photos on my phone to post here.  And I haven't been posting any of them.  So, in no particular order, here they are:

At a small local political event:

(The rest of the time she wouldn't stay still long enough for me even keep tabs on her, let alone take her photo.  This girl knows how to work a room!)

How We Spent New Year's Eve Day:  Playing at the park that is down the street.  Literally, down.  The walk back up the hill wasn't pleasant.  But she had fun, so who cares.

Ready to go.

Remember that night that I tweeted about having an impromptu slumber party in my bed with the Toddler Who Would Not Sleep? 

We received multiple phones as, or part of, Christmas gifts


Another Version of The Baby In The Mirror - In Five Acts

Okay, we can do better than that.

So that's about what we've been up to lately.

Friday, January 7, 2011

How NOT To Manage Your Health Care Flex Spending Account: A Primer by MommieV

Step 1:  Stress about Open Enrollment now that you have a baby to consider.  Freak out about how much the expensive daycare is that you are considering but haven't been accepted to yet.  Write down two dollar amounts on a piece of paper: one is how much you think you will spend on health care costs in the next year.  The other is how much you think you will spend on daycare in the next year.

Step 2:  Have a complicated work situation.  Like, quit working at one college in the state system, then get hired at another college in the state system.  Have the new college fight on your behalf - and win - to have you treated as a transfer and not a new hire.  Have this information be correct in some areas of the HR database system, but not in other areas, therefore putting off the time time you can complete Open Enrollment online.

Step 3.  Wait until the last possible day to complete your Open Enrollment.  Wait until around 3:00 in the afternoon.  Try to convince your whiny, clingy baby to sleep long enough for you to convince your laptop to log on to your parents wireless.  Make sure you are stressed out to the max before moving on to the next step.

Step 4.  In your crazed, hurried, hyper-stressed state, enter the amounts on the incorrect lines online.  I.e. switch the amount for expensive daycare and instead add it in the line that reads "Health Care Spending Account 2010".

Step 5.  Don't realize this until after you have accepted the spot at the expensive daycare and begun requesting reimbursements.

Step 6.  Realize that you now have $3,600 in your health care spending account to use before the end of the year.

Step 7.  Freak. Out.

Step 8.  Denial.  See how much money you end up spending in the course of the year.  Actually feel a little twinge of good when your kid doesn't pee for 8 hours and has to go to the ER and get catheterized because this is money coming out of the FSA, yo!

Step 9.  Do not begin the following steps until late November.

Step 10.  How much is still in there?  Wow, what the heck am I going to spend that on?

Step 11.  Go to Walgreens with your Benny card that uses money directly out of your FSA funds.  Buy all the Infant Acetominophen, Infant Ibuprofen, Orajel swabs, and Benadryl that you can fit into a basket.  Feel disappointed that you have only spent $200 on medicines that it will take you 6 months to use.

Step 12.  Go back to Walgreens with your Benny card and the accepted list of OTC meds that you can spend money on.  Buy two thermometers, a blood pressure monitor, contact solution, and other expensive items.  Fill up a large shopping cart.  Ignore the pharmacy technician that looks horrified that you want her to ring up the entire cart of items.  Smile when she looks confused that you purchased both spermicide and ovulation test kits.

Step 13.  Feel only slightly relieved when the total is $500.  How much is left to spend?

Step 14.  Spend one of the last days of the year at the eye doctor along with everyone else in the same boat.  Get an eye exam, a contact lens fitting, two pairs of reading glasses, a pair of regular glasses, and holy god how much do I have left to spend?

Step 15.  DON'T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE AGAIN.  The IRS isn't letting people buy $700 worth of OTC meds next year with their FSA money.

Step 16.  Finally find space in the cabinets and closets for all the Walgreens stuff.  Realize that you didn't buy any Midol.  How did that happen?

The Public Service Announcement has been brought to you by MommieV.  Who made damn sure she didn't switch the amounts this year.  She thinks.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I am wearing a business suit and carrying a mesh teether in my pocket, still wet from ice.

I am eating two-day-old stale falafel at my desk for breakfast. While drinking English Breakfast tea. This is consistent with the college’s latest diversity initiative, I am convinced.

I haven’t done diaper laundry since Saturday night, so I took five disposable diapers to daycare. And didn’t really care that much.

My daughter hasn’t been sleeping and therefore I haven’t been doing any online communication I can’t do from my phone in a minimal number of words filled with typographical errors. Therefore I didn’t realize a post that I had scheduled to publish actually hadn’t been posted, and instead saved to drafts. Blogger does this to me all the time. So I just backdated it. Dishonest, sure. Do I care? See above confession regarding disposable diapers.

However my singular focus on being prepared for classes next week is paying off – I should be totally prepared and have all documents except for quizzes and exams prepared and ready to go. My syllabus is 10 pages long. And my kid slept almost all night last night except for a brief interlude at 2 am (I used the rocking and music crutches. Then I couldn’t go back to sleep until after 4. I HATE THAT.)

If you're up for more confessions, stop by Our Mommyhood today.  There I confess two Mommy Must Have items that I really could not live without.  Go check it out.

I'll be back to my old bloggy self once classes get up and running.  In the meantime, I usually tweet when I'm awake in the middle of the night, so you'll still know what's going on with us :)