Monday, January 29, 2007


I've been staring at the computer lately, feeling curiously disengaged from blogging. I'm reading, not commenting. I'm thinking (kind of), not writing.

In some ways the torpor has extended to this other, flesh-and-blood, existence I lead. I have been working less and spending more time with the kids, yet not interacting with them as much as I should. There are a million little household projects that deserve some attention, but I have just enough energy to tend to the basics. Maybe it's just my usual bout of seasonal affective disorder, although I feel a bit ridiculous offering this as an excuse when the weather has, until the past few weeks, been quite mild.

Whatever the reason, thanks for continuing to check in even in the face of such evident malaise. With luck the fog will lift soon.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Photo Finish

Sean's preschool sent home a notice stating that they had arranged for a photographer to take each child's photograph. Note that the official school photos were already taken in November. After the taking of these new photographs, the photograph would be rendered into a colored drawing that parents could then have the option of purchasing. If we didn't want our kids to have their photos taken, we had to sign the form and return it.

Call me a Nervous Nelly, but this sounded just a little odd to me. Even if the drawing would be destroyed if not purchased, I didn't like the idea of trusting this uknown photographer with it. Having seen samples of the drawings, I wasn't especially impressed with the quality and knew that I wouldn't be purchasing one. I returned the form indicating that we were abstaining from the festivities.

When I picked Sean up from school on Wednesday, I noticed he was wearing a "I smiled for the camera" sticker. "Did you have your picture taken today?" I asked. "Yes," he answered.

Setting aside my innate wimpiness, I asked the teacher about the sticker. It turns out that all the kids sat for the camera; for the kids who didn't returned the form, the flash went off but no picture was taken. Okay, then, but wouldn't it have been nice to explain that at the outset?

I guess I was just uncomfortable about the whole concept, especially the "opt out" requirement. For something as personal and potentially exploitable as my child's image, I just don't think it's a good idea. Maybe it's just me?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bits and Pieces

Thanks for all the congratulatory sentiments regarding the Brave New Pullup-free (Except for Nighttime) World. It's almost as if a switch has been thrown: once Allie decided to use the potty for pretty much the first time, it's been fairly smooth sailing. She now knows when to go and ushers me out the bathroom door: "I can do this myself, Mommy." At long last.

Beyond potty training I haven't much to say. I admit to ignorning some blog reading over the past week in favor of those stupid Weffriddles I'd read about at jo(e)'s, Phantom's, and Chichimama's blogs. And I don't even LIKE puzzles. What an addictive time waster. At any rate, I will be blasting through my close-to-bursting Bloglines feeds any time now;
I owe many people a visit!

Well, that was a short blogging window -- the troops have returned from their bagel trek, and it appears that my presence is requested downstairs for the unwrapping of the dough products. Can't have enough dough-based foods, that's our motto around here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of... NOW WITH ADDENDUM

..."Mommy, I have to use the potty!"

Allie uttered those words for the first time this morning. After several days of accidents, soaked clothing, and puddles on the floor, she actually used the potty of her own volition. This is also a first.

Is this the dawn of a new Pull-up-free day I see breaking on the horizon? Or a curious statistical outlier?

Only Allie knows, and she's not telling.

Edited to add:
No time for real post, but wanted to let all the well-wishers know that we had an accident-free day today. Allie and I spent more time in the bathroom today than I would have thought humanly possible. (A convenient way to really appreciate just how badly it needs to be cleaned.) She is learning, I think, how to pay attention to the signals her body sends, and sometimes she flies to the bathroom at the first hint that something might be happening. "I'm so proud of myself!" she told me today. Me, too.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Blowing It All Away

I'm hair-challenged. I am not the least bit facile with a blowdryer or curling iron on myself or anyone else.

With thick, curly hair, there's really no point to blowdrying unless you want to straighten your hair. If that's not the goal, or you do it poorly, you end up looking like Rosanna Rosannadanna or a poodle. There was a time, in seventh or eighth grade or so, when I did blowdry my hair. And try to curl the hair framing my face in a pathetic attempt to have that early-eighties "wings" style that was all the rage. What did I end up looking like? A poodle with weird sausage curls on either side of her face.

Now my routine is much more low-key: Wash, condition, spritz with anti-friz spray (where was this stuff when I was in high school? I could have completely avoided all that Dippity-Do-induced crispiness), style with my fingers, and let air dry. I don't even use a comb or brush on my hair.

All well and good, for me. However, I've been contemplating using a blowdryer on Allie now that she is taking swimming lessons. It's been kind of balmy so far in January (thanks, global warming), but a cold snap is on the way. I think it would be a good idea to blow-dry her hair before we leave the Y. Except that I don't really know how to do it. It's not a huge deal, of course, and I probably wouldn't do that embarrassing a job.

But part of me wishes that it were more simple, like when I was little:

All right, maybe not THAT simple.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Is Anybody Out There?

There's nothing like posting a button in honor of International Delurking Week to ensure that I stare at a big honking zero in my comments line. But I'll take the risk -- Danger is my middle name, after all (okay, okay, it's actually Superman, but that didn't really fit here):

So, if you're out there, and so inclined, leave a comment to say hi. Or anything at all, really. That's all I ask; it's a low-effort, no-obligation kind of thing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sleep, Sleep, Sleepyhead*

I am not cut out for communal life. Sometimes it's darn hard for an introvert like me to have the constant companionship of the wee folk.

So when I go to sleep I look forward not just to the slumber but the solitary respite. And if my sleep is disturbed? Look out. (I say this now that my kids sleep through the night and I'm no longer gulping down sleep in 2-hour intervals. I'm way out of practice with fractured nights.)

Last night I was about to pummel my next-door neighbor, a 19-year-old home from college on his winter break. He's a nice kid, actually, and just celebrated his ascension (or whatever you call it) to Eagle scout. But last night he and his friends were gathered around a modified bonfire in his backyard till about 2 o'clock in the morning. I am apparently a cranky old lady because all I could think was A) What is up with the bonfire in the middle of the night? and B) What is up with all the LOUDNESS? Stop laughing, children! There's sleep to be had.

This isn't a recent mindset, either. I have never been able to sleep with any kind of noise. As a child, when my parents had company at night, I'd get up from my bed and sit forlornly on the steps, perhaps sighing loudly from time to time, until my parents noticed me. "You're making too much noise," I'd whine, "I can't sleep."

In college I was the nerd who'd stomp down the hallway of my dorm and glare malevolently at all the impudent students daring to talk while I was trying to sleep. On a spring break trip for Project Appalachia, I huddled miserably in my sleeping bag on the floor of a cabin in Kentucky with 40 other girls. Who never.stopped.talking, forcing me to nearly suffocate myself with my pillow so that the noise would be muffled.

I wish that I were more flexible in this regard, that I could conk out no matter what the ambient noise level. It's a good thing last night's disruption was just an aberration -- I'm headed straight for my pillow after I post this, and I'm looking forward to the sweet silence.

*There I go again with the REM lyric as post title. I guess that's my own personal narrative crutch.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Worklifebalance, Hah!

I'm not one for new year's resolutions. I've learned that fulfilling anything but the least ambitious resolution (something like "Read one extra page of a book each week") would require more, well, resolve than I possess.

This year, though, I'm going to try to pursue one goal: achieve a better balance between work time and family time. Last year's theme was Can't Say No, wherein I agreed to any freelance project that landed in my e-mail in-box. On the one hand it was extremely gratifying to have a lot of work, but it also chipped steadily away at my downtime. Compounding this was my fall work schedule: with Sean at school three mornings a week and Allie at my sister's two of those mornings, I had just about four hours of daytime in which to work. Most of the time, then, I worked at night; for a four-month stretch it was six nights a week.

(Here's where I whine a bit and you all roll your eyes at my complete inability to get a grip for heaven's sake.) That left me tired and very crabby and a smidge resentful -- after taking care of the kids all (or most of the) day I kind of wanted to just relax and spend time with Jeff. But I felt that turning down work now would leave me vulnerable to dry spells when I will need work the most -- in a few years, when the kids are in school full-time and I can really branch out.

Of course, it seems a tad ungrateful to complain about a surplus of work, especially when I'm the one who wanted this stay-at-home/work-at-home hybrid to begin with. So I should acknowledge that I remain thankful for having a career that allows such an arrangement.

And yet. There's also this other voice in my head, the one that still echoes from when I first stopped working full-time: your unpaid work isn't important; to be a truly valuable member of the household, you have to bring in some cash. I know all I do with the kids is valuable work, but I feel so vulnerable sometimes, that if I weren't busy all the time, if I weren't earning an income, then I don't deserve to be staying at home.

It was a huge decision to quit my job a year a half ago; Jeff was pretty reluctant to agree to it at first. I'd say it took about a year for him to feel comfortable that we weren't on the brink of financial ruin with just one steady paycheck. I worry about him being the primary breadwinner and the one with all that responsibility on his shoulders. Without his support I couldn't do this, and in many ways I feel that my working whenever I can helps ensure that his support continues.

But of course now there's this resolution thing. I've already turned down one long-term project because it would have involved too much work and paid too little, and it felt liberating to do that. Having the laptop gives me more freedom, too (or it would if the stupid wireless connection hadn't gone kaflooey a few days ago). Here's hoping I can be more selfish with my time in 2007.

Sorry for the long, rambling post; with more effort it probably could have coalesced into something a bit more profound. But the kids are now jumping on the bed and it has become apparent that I must now tend to my day job.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Neurotic Test

The Dork

(You scored 45 anxiety, 76 awkwardness, and 43 neuroticism!)

"You aren't particularly anxious, and you don't count things--but you do notice sometimes that you don't exactly fit in. Polite people would call you an eccentric, but you truly are The Dork! And proud. Just because you feel a little awkward at parties doesn't mean you're not happy with yourself and fairly relaxed.

Your low anxiety score implies that you are able to relax, can enjoy the here and now, and have a healthy amount of self-confidence.

Your high awkwardness score implies that you are socially inept, probably stick out from the crowd, and perhaps feel uncomfortable in large groups of people, such as at parties.

Your low neuroticism score implies that you don't exhibit subtle neurotic behaviors--your nails are probably an acceptable length, your pencils aren't covered with bite marks, and your bookcase isn't arranged alphabetically by genre. Congrats!

The Neurotic Test!

I was expecting a worse assessment, actually. Perhaps I'm not as anxious as I had thought. As seen at Angry Pregnant Lawyer

Friday, January 05, 2007

My Little Social Ambassadors

My kids are not shy.

They will say hello to every adult they see, they will chat amiably with perfect strangers, they will almost always go up to a child they don't know and attempt to strike up a conversation.

They get this from their father.

I'm glad, of course, because I wouldn't want them to be as withdrawn and socially awkward as I am was. I was the child who stared at her feet whenever she was around anyone even remotely unfamiliar.

So I'm thrilled, albeit a little embarrassed, that Sean can stride up to any worker in any store to ask for something he is looking for. I say "embarrassed" because the question isn't necessarily directed at the most appropriate person. In Target the other day, for example, he approached the pharmacy counter and asked the woman working there, "Excuse me, where are the combs for boys?" (We had just picked out a brush for Allie, and Sean apparently wanted a hair instrument for himself as well.)

This amazes me -- I was about 20 before I could summon up the courage to ask a store employee where I could find something in a store. And don't get me started about my to-this-day telephone phobia.

Perhaps I should be modeling my behavior after my kids in this respect. Or at least send Sean to do the asking when I'm not quite up to it...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Most Unexpected Meal

A minor miracle occurred at dinnertime tonight: Sean ate two bites of a carrot.

A carrot! Which can, I believe, be characterized as a VEGETABLE! Which Sean has not consumed in nonmuffinized form in 3 years. And when you're 4 and a half, that's a big old chunk of your life.

It all came about rather quietly. Every night I ask Sean if he wishes to partake in non-noodle food. Every night he gracefully declines. Last night, he said, "I'll try a carrot tomorrow night." I told him he had a deal, and that I would be so proud of him if he did, in fact, eat a carrot.

Tonight, I reminded him of our arrangement. Instead of turning multiple shades of angry red and denying he ever agreed to such nonsense, he said, "Okay."

He took one bite, chewed, made a series of faces indicating he was in his death throes from ingesting rat poison, and swallowed. I lavished praise upon him and encouraged him to try one more bite. He did, under protest.

The remains of the baby carrot could have fed a family of rabbits, so small were his bites. But still. A vegetable. My heart was singing.

And the good times didn't end there. A bit later, after Jeff got home, we were discussing middle names, well, Jeff's middle name, at least. "Do you know what Mommy's middle name is?" Jeff asked with a smile. "What is it, Mom?" Sean asked.

Ha ha, I thought. "I don't have one, actually. I just have my first name, Suzanne."

"I'll give you a middle name, then!" Sean said. "It'll be Superman!"

Has a nice ring to it, I think. And gender aside, so accurate, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Judge Not

We've all read, ad nauseum, about the eighth deadly sin, parental judgmentalism. I like to think of myself as fairly accommondating of various parenting styles and decisions. For example, I don't hold particularly strong opinions about breastfeeding versus bottle feeding or co-sleeping versus using cribs or organic, homemade baby food versus plain old Gerber mush in a jar. Whatever works for you, go for it, I say. I tend to be a more than a little suspicious of people who espouse extreme views to such an extent that other practices are demonized.

That said, no matter how let-it-all-hang-out I may claim to be when it comes to what other parents do, I am not immune to certain trigger points, behaviors that I witness that just set off the self-righteous preacher in me. Spanking is a big one. Unlimited access to television is another one (note the word "unlimited," since I of course am chief facilitator of my kids' pleasant but moderated relationship with PBS Kids).

Apparently yet another one concerns, of all things, beverages.

Sean and Allie went to a birthday party on Saturday. Perfectly standard fare was served -- pizza and juice, followed by cake. Since my kids don't eat stuff like this often, I don't mind too much when it's served at parties. (And I should add that I don't know anyone in real life who is as progressive and crunchy as all my online friends are! Why don't any of you live closer to me?)

When food time came, I heard Sean whine to the party coordinator, "I don't LIKE juice!" True -- he drinks either soy milk or water. At parties he drinks water. The birthday parent overheard this and smiled. "It's okay, we also have rootbeer or orange soda for the kids."


Although I maintained a genial "oh, of course, how normal" facade, inside I turned slightly rabid at the thought of serving soda to toddlers and preschoolers. I said nothing, because who wants a lecture at a birthday party? I just found some water for Sean and decided I'd write about this instead.

I guess the moral of the story is that I should stop being judgmental about other people being judgmental. Now that I've shared some of my triggers, I'm curious -- what parenting behavior or decision or style sets you off?