Sunday, December 28, 2008


Just in time for the new year I've finally gotten around to updating my blogroll. Check it out--there are some great new blogs there, plus I've removed links to the blogs that have gone defunct in the last 6 months.

Hope you all had a very merry Christmas and that there's a happy new year in your future!

Monday, December 22, 2008


We're going to do it, we're moving to South Korea. Six months from now military movers will box up all our stuff, put it on a boat, and we'll pick it up in Korea.


I sort of can't believe it. We've done nothing but talk about this move since we first learned it was a possibility late last week, but it still hasn't quite sunk in.


I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared, but I'd also be lying if I said I wasn't really excited. I'm the type of person who would never up and move overseas on her own, but if the last five years have taught me anything it's that change is a good thing. Yes, it's frightening, and yes there are things I will desperately miss about the States, but ultimately I really believe that this will be an amazing experience we'll be grateful to have in the long run.

So, Korea.

More as we find out exactly what we need to do in preparation for the move.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sure to be the first of many such posts

One of the best things about having a newly verbal toddler is that I now get at least a few clues as to what he's thinking about as he falls asleep at naptime. Today's Thought of the Day by Luke (overheard via baby monitor) is thus:

"Mama, Daddy, baby, towel, Elmo. Mine mine mine gahsh... kitties...(singing)...hey dat da kitties...(banging on the bars of his crib)...mine mine mine mine mine Elmo...(more banging) mine no mine MINE bo bo bo bo Elmo...a dis? Dis? Ahhhhhhhh...Ball, ball, BAAAAALLLLLLL...zzzzzzzz."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Too Many Thoughts in My Head

Juan didn't get the fellowship slot he'd been virtually guaranteed just a month ago by People In The Know. As a result we've spent the last 48 hours scrambling to put together a list of bases we wouldn't hate for the next year or two until he can re-apply. Staying in El Paso is a possibility, but the job he would need to take here would be 90% paperwork to 10% actual medicine. Not only would he likely be miserable if he took it, but he'd be deployable. Neither of us wants that. Most of the other positions at the top of our list (hospitals in the DC area, San Antonio, and Washington State) would be similar.

Then there's Korea.

He would be working in a hospital and practicing actual medicine, he wouldn't get deployed, Luke and I would be able to go with him. To Korea.

I don't know what I want at this point. Well, I take that back, I want our original "guaranteed" plan back. That's not going to happen, though, which leaves us with a number of less-than-ideal options. Korea is at both the top and bottom of that list. On the one hand, it would be an amazing opportunity for all of us to live overseas. On the other, we'd be gone for two years in a country so far away that coming home even once might not be financially possible. Plus I'd almost certainly have to give up teaching until we got back to the States.

So, I don't know what we're going to do. If we decide about Korea (and we need to decide soon--like before Christmas) then we'll have a set plan in place as soon as the decision is made. If not, we won't know where we'll be going until February at the earliest.

Friday, December 12, 2008


More memes! I was tagged for this one by MJ which seems quite appropriate since I'm one of the friends who nicknamed her "Quirk" back in high school and the subject of the meme is (what else?) quirks.

In case anyone is wondering, my nickname in high school was A Loof.

Now, on with the meme!

Six of C's Quirks

1) I hate to talk on the phone. I don't know how quirky this really is since it seems like I know an increasingly large number of people who would rather drive large metal spikes into their eardrums than talk on the phone (I blame the internet) but unless you're my parents, you're twenty times more likely to receive an e-mail from me than a phone call. There's just so much pressure on the phone to find interesting things to talk about, versus e-mail where you can ramble on for paragraphs and either go back before hitting the "send" button and delete everything or send it all and rest assured that the recipient will just skim for the good stuff.

2) I have no problem discussing how Macbeth and Harvey Dent (from "The Dark Knight") are remarkably similar characters with my students. In fact, I've had lengthy discussions on the subject with my second period in the last week, and while it may seem like we're goofing off on the surface, I have elaborate character development maps all over the board by the end of those discussions to prove that not only are they both tragic heroes, but that the Batman franchise nails the archetype far more often than Shakespeare ever did. If I can talk about superhero movies and Shakespeare at the same time AND finally get my students to understand the tragic hero, I consider it a good day.

3) If I have M&Ms, I can't just eat them one at a time, I have to eat two so they're even in my mouth--one on each side as I bite down. Same thing with baby carrots, olives, and pretty much anything else bite-sized.

4) I don't like breakfast food unless it's relatively bland. Sausage? No way. Bacon? HATE. Plain toast? Now you're talking. Lunch and dinner, bring on the strong-tasting food, but leave my palate alone before noon OR ELSE.

5) I watch TV out of the corner of my eye. I've done this for the longest time (and if you've been to my house, our family room arrangement might suddenly make sense now that you know this fact about me) and while it's probably partly because I have mild astigmatism, mostly it's just because I find the TV itself is rarely engrossing enough to keep my full attention so I'm always doing something else while watching TV. I'll knit, I'll cross-stitch, I'll play online (sometimes while also knitting or cross-stitching) and watch TV at the same time, just out of the corner of my eye.

6) I don't understand the appeal of "30 Rock." I've tried, I really have, but I just find it contrived and too cute for its own good.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Six Things That Make Me Happy

M tagged me for this meme and specifically asked for Luke pictures, so here goes--six things that make me happy, a photo essay.

1) This face:

Loved mostly because it's simultaneously his "yummy" face and the face he makes when you ask for a kiss. My boy gives kisses! It's really all I can do not to ask for them every five minutes.

2) This face:

Just look at him! Coloring (brief moments of marking the page in between attempts to eat the crayon) and smiling so sweetly it makes my heart melt.

3) Not Luke, but I have to brag about my AP students for a moment. They're just the best group of kids I've ever had the privilege to work with, and I'm particularly proud of the boy who transferred in halfway through the semester and has already surpassed most of his classmates in terms of writing ability. He's going to pass the big test in May, I can feel it.

4) My family:

5) Dancing!

This is unfortunately the best picture I have of Luke dancing. Anytime music comes on the radio (or from one of his toys) Luke dances by shaking his hips. It's simply adorable, and the fact that we have yet to catch it on camera is criminal.

6) January 20, 2009

Can't come soon enough, my friends.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cause and Effect

So Luke decided today that he no longer hates green beans, in fact, he appears to love them so much that he's been saying "bean!" all evening.

Exhibit A:

Thus, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he's learned another word that, if nothing else, tells me that he's truly a boy. "Caca"

I won't get into Exhibit B because, well, no one wants to see that, but suffice it to say, he's using the word in the appropriate context.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Language Explosion

I must say, it's one thing to read in all the baby and toddler books that at some point your child will suddenly start acquiring several new words a day, but it's another thing entirely to witness it. Since our vacation over Thanksgiving, Luke has learned more new words than I can count, and is coming up with new ones every time I turn around. There's no rhyme or reason to the ones he's learning (for example, "down" still eludes him, but "up" and "eyebrow" are current favorites) but tantrums are WAY down around here since he can communicate the basics of what he wants/needs most of the time.

I love this age, I really do.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I did it. I spent 30 days writing a novel and I finished it tonight, just hours before the deadline. Over 50,000 words (which translates to roughly 200 pages, give or take depending on spacing and font size) that, if nothing else, proved to me that not only could I start a novel, I could finish it. It's complete crap, of course, but with some major editing I think it could turn into something I'm really and truly proud of.

Now off to celebrate my achievement! Wine and peanut butter pretzels for everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just to be very clear about this

1993--C babysits by herself for the first time, the microwave explodes.

1997--C is left home alone over the weekend for the first time, gets in her one and only car accident.

1998--C is left home alone over the weekend for the second time, the car survives but she is evacuated by a SWAT team because the crazy neighbors started threatening one another with guns.

2005--C is left home (albeit only for the day--I debate lumping this story in with the others because Juan was just at the library studying) and the building across the street from the condo catches fire and burns almost to the ground.

2008--C is left home alone with Luke over two consecutive weekends and manages to not only have her car battery unexpectedly die in a Wal-Mart parking lot, BUT, almost loses three years worth of pictures, music, lessons, and OH YEAH THAT NANO THING when the baby dumps an entire cup of coffee all over her laptop.

Needless to say, I don't have a good track record when it comes to staying home by myself. Thankfully (for today, at least) the laptop started working again when it had been dried out and cleaned up a bit, and all the data I needed on it has now been backed up several different places just in case it's waiting until the next time I'm alone to off itself in a more permanent way.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sick Day--part eleven million

The only silver lining about being home solo this weekend with a sick and teething baby? The look of absolute joy on his face at dinner tonight when Daddy called to to talk to him. You'd have thought the room was exploding with puppies and balloons, he was so happy.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NaNoWriMo Update

So far I'm doing fairly well with NaNoWriMo. I decided to write a murder mystery that's been kicking around my head for a few years now and it's coming along nicely. I've introduced my main characters, written far too much exposition, and just killed my first victim. Life is good. I'm also mostly keeping up with the 1667-words-a-day requirement to ensure that I make it to 50,000 words by November 30. Here's a cool widget from NaNoWriMo to show you how I'm doing--the green days are the ones where I made the daily goal, the red ones where I didn't.

So not perfect, but on track as of yesterday and today. Keep sending the writing vibes--they're working!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes we can!

I may be sick as a dog, hacking up a lung, and going on very little sleep after tossing and turning all last night thinking about the election today; but DAMN if I haven't done some jumping up and down tonight. Yes we CAN move this country in a more positive direction, yes we CAN let go of bitter partisan politics, yes we CAN break down the color barrier, and yes we CAN once again hold our heads up high in the world and be proud to call ourselves Americans.

Yes, we can.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Luke

aka, the Cutest Little Ninja North of the Rio Grande

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Holy Crap, I'm Writing a Novel

In a burst of "Gee, C, you don't have enough on your plate right now, let's add something new" I signed up for NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. From November 1-30 I'll be attempting to write 1600+ words a day to make it to an eventual goal of 50,000 words and one completed book.


I'm also trying to get some of my more ambitious students involved by offering a full letter grade bump to anyone who manages to finish with 50,000 words. We'll see if anyone takes me up on the challenge.

So wish me luck! I'll post a few updates now and then about how it's going (hopefully well) and maybe an excerpt or two if it goes VERY well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

They put something in the water

Recently Luke decided he was completely and totally obsessed with Elmo. The child hasn't so much as seen an episode of Sesame Street (or Elmo's World) since he was last with our old nanny last spring, yet somehow he not only knows who Elmo is, but he LOVES him.

Juan and I were rather taken aback when Luke started screaming for his one Elmo doll (given to him by said nanny for Christmas last year and promptly ignored for the following 10 months) earlier this month. Where did he learn Elmo's name? We frankly couldn't figure it out since there isn't a TV in his daycare center and we have a fairly strict no TV rule when Luke is awake. They do read Elmo books once in awhile at daycare, but Luke reads a lot of books. He reads books about doggies, books about steam shovels named Mary Ann, books about pigs who sing, and yet none of these books have caused him to go around the house shouting character names at the top of his lungs. Ask him who he loves, though, and he'll be only too happy to tell you, "ELMO!"

I confess, there's part of me that really and truly dislikes this development. I don't want my toddler obsessed with branded characters. I want him to play with a variety of toys and remain blissfully unaware of the Elmo/Dora/Diego/whatever marketing machine until he's at least able to poop on the potty. Still, I can't help but smile at the look of pure joy on his face when he cuddles his Elmo dolls (yes, we bought him another one) because he just doesn't get that look on his face for anything else.

I swear to God, Sesame Street puts something in the water, because there's just no other way to explain how fascinated toddlers (particularly mine) are with Elmo.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

We're doing this again? Seriously?

Tonight we signed the papers to list our house for sale. Ugh.

Even though it's been three years, it still feels like we just did this and the thought of keeping the house spotlessly clean 24/7, having random realtors ring our bell at odd hours, and experiencing the frustration of showing after showing that doesn't result in an offer leaves me rather cold. I. Don't. Want. To. Sell. My. House.

It's not even that I'm resisting the move as much as I'm resisting all the crap we have to do in order to get to the place where we can move. Selling the house is really just the tip of the iceberg, and this listing means getting the ball rolling on things like quitting my job, finding a new one, renting a new house, etc...

Anyway, I'm once again soliciting good house selling thoughts. In this market, we're really going to need them.

Friday, October 03, 2008

C and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

1:00 AM: I wake up, WIDE AWAKE with a throbbing sinus headache
3:00 AM: Still awake
4:00 AM: Still awake
5:00 AM: Drift off
5:45 AM: Alarm rings, time to get up
6:00 AM: Luke starts crying, get him from his crib, somehow manage to smear poop all over one of my hands during diaper changing.
7:20 AM: Finally get out of the door, ridiculously late
7:30 AM: Drop Luke off at daycare, he screams bloody murder when I go to leave. Worst dropoff we've had in over a month, I feel horrible and worry that he's getting sick again.
8:10 AM: Finally get to work and find a line of students already forming outside my door because (of course) today is the last day for them to turn in late work before I have to hand in progress report grades.
8:20 AM: The first bell rings, I realize I forgot to put on deodorant and socks today.
8:55 AM: Finally get the students working independently so I can turn my attention to the piles of papers that have magically appeared on this, the last day to turn them in.
8:56 AM: My computer dies. Really dies. Blue Screen of Death Dies.
8:58 AM: IT says to bring it down but they aren't making any promises. Also, I can't have a loaner computer to finish my grading. Sorry.
9:00 AM: My headache returns with a vengeance.
9:15 AM: I call Juan (who's working nights and is thus home, sleeping) and beg him to bring my laptop from home to school so I can enter grades. He got no sleep the night before and doesn't think he's safe to drive. Dammit.
11:30 AM: I get my BFF to cover my study hall so I can leap in the car and race home to get the laptop
12:15 PM: Get halfway back to school with the computer before I realize I forgot the power cord on the kitchen counter. My battery can last around 30 minutes at this point without needing to be plugged in, so I've just made this trip for, essentially, nothing.
12:17 PM: My head really hurts
12:30 PM: Get back to campus, inhale some lunch, greet my next class
1:10 PM: My laptop, predictably, dies.
1:15 PM: A student asks if I'm okay. I seriously consider bursting into tears but decide against it.
2:00 PM: Dismiss my last class, run to the library (tailed by half a dozen students wanting help with late homework) to log onto one of their computers so I can finish grading. Also hoping for some leftover pot luck chocolate cake and/or Diet Coke to make myself feel better.
2:03 PM: No cake, no Coke. No librarian (who I love and wanted to vent to) since she left early. I should have left early today too.
4:00 PM: The final bell rings, I'm maybe a third of the way through my stacks of papers. Realize I'm going to have to come in over the weekend.
4:30 PM: Kick the last of my students out of the library, close up, head home.
4:35 PM: My head REALLY hurts.
5:00 PM: Get home. Luke screams and bursts into tears the second he sees me since he knows that Mama coming home = Daddy leaving soon.
5:20 PM: Luke stops tantruming.
5:23 PM: Juan gets up to leave, Luke starts crying again.
5:30 PM: My head--in case you were wondering--HURTS.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Six Random Things

M over at Toneybabies tagged me for a meme (and my husband kindly reminded me to actually write it) detailing six random things about myself. So, without further ado...

1) I love Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, but I will hunt down and kill anyone who reveals this fact to my students or coworkers. I have a certain amount of street cred to uphold as an English teacher, which means I live a literary double life on school days. Shhhh!

2) I will be very disappointed if my former classmates drop the ball and decide not to hold a 10 year high school reunion this summer. While I do keep in close touch with most of my good friends from high school there are a few people I've lost track of and I'd love to see them again. I'm also morbidly curious about how certain people I wasn't exactly fond of back then have turned out.

3) All of the artwork on my walls is from Target. That fact ought to embarrass me, but strangely enough it doesn't. That's how much I love Target.

4) We're planning to put our house on the market this week and (unsurprisingly) I'm pretty depressed about it.

5) Work drama is insane right now and one of the reasons I haven't been posting much is that I know I can't discuss it here. Suffice it to say, the first 5 weeks of my final year at this school have been more eventful than the last two years put together.

6) One of my worst housekeeping habits is that I leave my shoes EVERYWHERE. It's driven Juan crazy for years (generally because he tends to trip over them) but nothing has made me change my ways until now. See, lately Luke has declared himself the house shoe police, and anytime he finds a pair of my shoes lying around the living room/kitchen/TV room/any other room you can think of he picks them up and follows me around with them until I put them on. Thus, after repeatedly donning peep-toe pumps while wearing ratty sweats and ballet flats with my pajamas I've decided to be a grown up and put my shoes away in the closet every night.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Red letter day

Today was my weigh-in day for Weight Watchers and I honestly expected the worst. I slacked a bit on the old diet towards the end of the week (damn our school librarian and her tasty, tasty Friday pot luck luncheons!) and wouldn't have been surprised to see a weight gain. Instead? SIX POUNDS LOST. SIX.

*jaw drops*

I'm now down 20 lbs from the weight I was at when I started Weight Watchers back in July. I weigh two pounds less than I did when I got pregnant, just three pounds more than when I got married, and I'm only eight above from my high school (and target) weight. The capris I bought back in June (which were tight at the time) can now slide down while buttoned if I'm not wearing a belt. I can fit into work clothes I haven't even attempted to wear in four or five years.

Oh. My. God.

Watch out world, the new and improved C is on her way!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hundreds of dollars worth of toys sitting in the living room

and all my child wants to play with are the half-empty cereal boxes we store on some open shelves in the kitchen.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The news

Juan didn't get the job. We're sad, disappointed, and sadly in flux regarding future plans. We might stay, we might go, and the decision has to be made in the next three weeks. No pressure, though.

That's all I've got right now. It's been a bit of a rollercoaster for the last few days and I still have papers to grade tonight. More later when there's more to tell.

Monday, August 25, 2008

No news news. Also, news!

No announcement has been made yet about the Chief position. We don't know when the word will come down (tomorrow morning at the earliest, though) or if the decision has even been made yet. It's frustrating, but we'll deal with what comes.

In other news, today was the first day back at school. My students were great, I had a lot of fun, and we get to do it all over again tomorrow. Yay! Oh, and as an added bonus I get to teach a 9 week novel study class to a small group of students who all enjoy reading and discussing books. It's a little reward for them since they passed their state competency exams last year and one for me after I taught test prep during that slot for the last two years.

Finally, I'm officially down 16 lbs since I started Weight Watchers seven weeks ago. I honestly can't believe I've managed to lose that much so quickly. Twelve more to go until the promised land!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Looking Ahead

It's going to be a long week. Tomorrow is my last day of summer before heading back to work for (possibly) my last school year here. Being perfectly honest, I'm nervous about leaving Luke at daycare (because it's new, not because I don't trust our center) but heartbroken that this time next year there's a very good chance I won't be teaching at my current school.

This is the last year of Juan's residency, and he's interviewing for the Chief Resident position Wednesday. If he gets it, we'll stay until June 2010. If he doesn't, we'll leave at the end of this school year. The decision will be announced next Monday, which just so happens to be my first day of classes. If he doesn't get the job have to find a realtor, cancel tentative plans to visit family over Spring Break in favor of a house-hunting trip to wherever it is we'll be heading, and I'll have to begin putting my portfolio in order so I can hit the ground running job-wise next summer. I don't want to do any of those things. I want to play with my baby, go shopping with my friends, and know I have time to start building up a stronger AP program at my school because I'm going to be there to see those plans come to fruition. In short, I want to stay.

So, if you have any spare "good luck" thoughts/prayers floating around, please send them Juan's way this week. There's a lot more riding on the panel's decision about who will become Chief than just his job.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy!

I can't believe you're a year old already. As cliche as it is, the last year has just flown by and all of a sudden my little baby has become a walking, talking toddler. I tell you all the time that you're not allowed to get any bigger, but you don't listen and frankly I don't really want you to. Watching you explore the world and learn how to relate to it has been the highlight of my life.

You love books, your sippy cup, and all animals. Everything is a doggy to you right now, except your beloved rubber ducks who you invariably refer to as "ducky!" You're the most amazingly tactile kid I've ever met--you won't put much in your mouth (even food some days) but you need to touch EVERYTHING you see. Textures fascinate you, and I can't wait until you're a bit older and I can introduce you to modeling clay, finger paints, and paper mache.

This summer has been chock full of disruptions, from Daddy and I leaving you with Grandma and Grandpa for the first time ever while we went to Greece, to you and me going to visit them for three weeks last month. I worried, as I am wont to do, that you wouldn't deal well with all the changes in our routine and surroundings, but you handled them all beautifully. I continue to be amazed at how flexible you are when it comes to where you sleep and how you spend your days. I am the furthest thing from flexible about certain things, and I hope I don't pass that trait along to you.

Last week we had your birthday party and you had only one wish for the entire day--to be allowed to play with the balloons from dawn until dusk.

I think you enjoyed the balloons even more than your first bite of cake with frosting, though you decided cake was pretty good after the first few tentative tastes. By the time you decided you were finished, you were so covered with blue frosting that we had to take a break from the party to rinse you off in the wading pool. You didn't mind much.

Next week school starts up for me again, and the transition is going to be rough on both of us, I fear. We've had a wonderful little summer at home, and now you'll be starting at a real daycare for at least the next few months. It's going to be different, but hopefully in a good way.

I love you, sweet precious boy, and I can't wait to see what the next year holds for us. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I'm so thankful every day that I get to call myself your Mama.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

D is for...

"DUCKY! Duuuuucky! Ddddddducky!"

Do you know how difficult it is to work on lessons (AP lessons, no less, that I'll be delivering in less than THREE weeks) with an adorable boy talking about his new favorite animal upstairs? It's hard. Very hard.

In other news, Luke now also says "Doggy" and "Daddy" but with far less precision than "Ducky." Every person he knows is "Daddy" and every animal except a duck is "Doggy."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Many apologies for going dark--Luke and I have been living the high life with my parents in Salt Lake for the last couple of weeks and blogging (actually, all things Internet) has really gone by the wayside. Lots of pictures to follow when we're home and I have access to my camera cables again, but for now we'll just run down the numbers:

-Number of days Luke has woken up before 6:00 am: 7
-Number of days I have woken up before 9:00 am: 2
-Number of days my dad has gotten up at the crack of dawn to play with the baby so I can get some freaking sleep: All
-Number of pounds I've lost since starting Weight Watchers: 9.2
-Number of pieces of mouth watering homemade cherry pie I've refused: 47
-Number of points in one piece of mouth watering homemade cherry pie: 9
-Number my baby will be turning in just 13 short days: 1

So, as you can see I've paradoxically become the queen of both sloth and willpower on this trip. Hopefully returning to "real life" shortly will cure the former but not the latter. Hope you're all enjoying the last few days of July!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Progress Report--Week 1

I fully expected that this entry would be full of whining about how hard it was to stick to a diet, especially since I've never tried to really watch what I eat before. Therefore, I'm pleasantly surprised to report that staying on my Weight Watchers plan has been really, really easy. I've eaten more fruits and vegetables in the last 7 days than I think I have in the last 7 months; realized that most of my favorite foods are still okay to eat as long as I A: don't eat them every day, and B: limit my portions; and upped my activity level. Result? I'm down 4 pounds from this time last week.

Now obviously I'm not going to lose that much every week, but it's nice to know that this diet is really working. My challenge this week is to keep up my good eating habits while having to eat out once a day due to a conference I'm attending. I went over my daily "target" points today without trying at all, so I need to really buckle down if I'm going to do continue my good progress.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rain, rain go away

Three straight days of rain. Three straight days of MONSOON rain, almost a month before monsoon season is supposed to start. Three straight days of being cooped up indoors because of the piss-poor drainage that's caused the main roads near us to flood. Three straight days of grey skies and canceled activities. Boo.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Scene: One year ago, C's OB/GYN's office

Dr. J: I see here that you've gained [insert unspeakably high number] pounds during your pregnancy. I'm concerned that you're going to have trouble taking them off.

C: Pshaw, I gained the weight, I can take it off. How hard can it be to lose [unspeakably high number] pounds when you're running around after a baby and breastfeeding?

Dr. J: Just so we're clear, I'm not going to answer that question for fear that you'll throw something at me.

C: I'll be fine, trust me.

Scene: Last month, in C's bathroom

C: Hmmm... I wonder what I weigh these days? I'll just pull out the old scale and find out.

*steps on scale*



C: That can't be right! I weighed this much when I was 6 months pregnant!


C: I guess all those pints of Haagen-Daz have been adding up. And the Pirate's Booty. And the egg rolls. And every other piece of crap I've shoved into my mouth without thinking about it for the last few months. Fock. I need to go on a diet. Maybe I'll just try eating sensibly on my own. I'll be fine on my own.

Scene: Last weekend

C: Hm, wonder how that DIY diet I've been kind-of sort-of doing is coming along?

*steps on scale*


C: AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Two more pounds? What the hell??? "Fine" my ass.

Scene: This morning

*type, type, type*

*type, type, type*

*type, type, type*

C: Okay, it's done. I'm officially a a Weight Watcher. I wasn't "fine" gaining all the weight during my pregnancy, I wasn't "fine" trying to lose weight on my own, and I'm definitely not "fine" weighing this much. Hopefully this works.

End Scene

My hope is that by making my weight loss attempts public I'll be a bit more motivated to stick with it when the novelty of entering every bite that I take into the computer wears off. I'm trying to lose 26 pounds by parent/teacher conferences in early November, which seems do-able all things considered. Today was my first full day on the diet, and I was surprised at how not-hungry I've been. A half cup of pasta with meat sauce can be surprisingly filling, and a serving of sorbet is almost as good as a pint of caramel ice cream after dinner. Baby steps.

Accountability-wise, since Mondays are my official WW weigh-in days, I'm going to start posting here about my progress every Monday as well. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The sound of evil

I hate the ice cream truck. Every afternoon at 3:30 pm it rolls through our neighborhood BLARING the pinwheel song, and every afternoon at 3:31 Luke wakes up from his afternoon nap SCREAMING at the top of his lungs because no amount of white noise can drown out the music.

If he would go down for an earlier nap our problems would be solved, but alas he's steadfastly refused to go down a second earlier than 3:00 for the last month. Other than bribing the driver to skip our street (or at least turn the music down) what other options do I have? Homicide has come to mind, but I think that might be a bit of an overreaction.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I'm sorry, were you saying something?

Because while you had your back turned, look what Luke was up to

and then he did this

and this

No, it's not really walking, but considering that he's pointedly ignored the push toy since we bought it two months ago, I think of this as significant progress in that direction.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Like a Fish in Water

I swear, there are days when I wonder what the heck I've been doing here for the last two years. The city continues to surprise me with new hidden gems I never even knew existed, and today was a case in point. Who knew the base had a free water park for kids under 4?

Did I mention that it was free?

Luke loved it once he got over his initial fear of the bigger kids who were splashing nearby. He crawled all over the shallow end (eventually going in up to his chin before wanting to be carried around again), did some splashing himself, and generally had the time of his life.

I think this is going to become a weekly ritual for us now that we know it exists. The best part is that we have a little group of friends-with-babies who will be going with us on future excursions. Swimming fun for all!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Open letters

Dear Newly Divorced Man Across the Street,

I noticed this morning that you invested in some new artwork for your truck. "I swapped my wife for a gun--it was a great deal" is both a rather bold statement to make and a great way to let your neighbors know that not only are you bitter towards your ex, but now you're also armed! Thanks for the heads-up.

C (who really hopes you didn't go out and buy a gun)

Dear Colorblind Couple at the End of the Block,

Did you know that your house was a lovely shade of buttercream up until last fall? It was. I often thought that yours was one of the prettiest homes on the street, and that was saying a lot. We have some beautiful homes here. Now, I don't know you personally, but I've been assuming that you both suffer from some form of colorblindness after the fateful day last November when I came home from work to discover that you had repainted your house pea green. Not a pretty pea green (if such a color exists) either, truly the ugliest shade of 70s throwback pea green I've ever seen. I dearly hope you're not planning to try to sell your home...ever because no matter how it looks on the inside I just can't imagine potential buyers doing anything other than screaming and running away once they catch a glimpse of the exterior.

C (who really, really hopes you're planning to re-paint soon)

Dear Frozen in Time Neighbors,

I'm not sure if you got the memo, but Christmas was almost 6 months ago. I know, feels like yesterday, doesn't it? The thing is, the unwritten rule about holiday decorations is that they're supposed to be taken down no later than the end of January. Seeing as how one usually doesn't display 3/4 scale nativity scenes on a year-round basis, I'm going to assume that you forgot about it (and are shut-ins since it's really difficult to miss it in your front yard) or have no idea that it's actually almost July now. Either way, I'll take the damn thing down myself if you're not going to because it's driving me crazy.

C (who has limited tolerance for yard sculpture even when it's seasonally appropriate)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Of updates and jet lag

Why hello there, it's been awhile! The Internet being what it is, I didn't want to publicize the fact that Juan and I were going to be out of the country until we were back home, but we just returned from a much-needed vacation to Athens, Greece. It was an amazing trip, but it's good to be home.

Updates from the home front--I'm now a temporary stay-at-home-mom, and I think Luke is getting bored already. There are only so many times the boy can crawl around the house before he gets frustrated that there aren't any other kids here to play with, so we're going to start some Gymboree classes with a friend and her daughter next week and try to find some other activities to fill up our days.

In less happy news, my grandmother was officially diagnosed with esophageal cancer two weeks ago. She begins chemo/radiation treatments tomorrow, and any good thoughts you can send her way would be very much appreciated.

Finally, since I still kind of can't believe that we were actually in Athens this time last week, a few pictures from the trip:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

All good things...

Six days from now the school year will be over and I'll be a free woman for ten glorious weeks. Summer break truly is one of the best perks we teachers get, and this time of year almost feels like vacation already because the students have taken their finals and are just doing busywork-type assignments and watching (mostly relevant) movies while we feverishly grade papers and finalize their grades. Even though my inbox is full and I have piles of books and personal items to pack up and take home in the next few days, the overall mood is so relaxed that it's hard not to get sucked into feeling like it's summer already.

However, it's also a sad time of year since I love my students and won't see many of them again once they graduate and move on to bigger and better things. I've found myself tearing up in class on more than one occasion because really, these kids are amazing. With remarkably few exceptions they're interesting, well-behaved, inquisitive young people; and while they drive me crazy on a daily basis I absolutely adore being their teacher.

So while I'm looking forward to being a pseudo-stay at home mom until the next year starts in August, I'm more than a little maudlin at the thought of saying goodbye to "my" kids next Tuesday and leaving this job I love, even for a much-needed break.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Roller coaster

First, please keep Kathleen in your thoughts. She's very ill and needs all the good thoughts and prayers you can send.

Second, what a roller coaster week this has been. Awful, awful news from every corner just keeps raining down, and I'm honestly afraid to pick up the phone when it rings because at this point I've received at least three calls in the last 24 hours that have reduced me to tears. I don't want to talk about it right now because I'm still processing (besides which, some of the news isn't mine to share) but that post will be coming at some point in the future.

Third, I've decided that a roller coaster is the perfect metaphor for the first year of parenthood. Big shocker, right? A: that the English teacher searches for metaphors for her life, and B: that the metaphor is an old, tired one. Hear me out, though!

Pregnancy is the looooooooong ride up to the top of the first drop. You think you're never going to get there, you're nervous and excited the whole time, and then BOOM! You drop!

(that's birth, by the way)

The initial 10-15 seconds of the ride, where you're disoriented and screaming, are the first months of your baby's life. Everything is new, you can't anticipate your next move, and you feel like you're going to fall off and/or throw up the entire time.

Then you start getting used to the jerkiness of the ride and begin really enjoying it. You can anticipate some of the curves, you might even have a chance to glance outside of the ride and see the water feature or popcorn stand nearby, and life is good. Sure, you're still on a roller coaster, but it's not new and strange anymore. Those are months four through 12.

Then, of course, the ride stops and you're forced to get off, shaky and dizzy, which I assume is a good analogy for moving from babyhood into the toddler years when everything changes again.

In case you can't tell from my above analysis, I'm feeling pretty confident about parenthood right about now. Life is (generally) predictable, and every once in awhile Luke makes a breakthrough that feels exactly like a lull in the ride. Case in point, he can now put himself to sleep.

For any non-parents reading this, putting oneself to sleep is a milestone that can never come early enough. After spending months and months nursing, rocking, singing, cajoling, and begging a baby to fall deeply enough asleep to be put down in his/her crib without waking back up again; it feels like clouds lifting and angels singing when one night you put down your baby awake (after spending WAAAAAAAY too much time on the above activities and giving up in sheer frustration) only to have him/her roll over and fall fast asleep.

Luke has now put himself to sleep several nights in a row, and I am loving it. LOVING IT. I know full well that I'm probably jinxing it by writing this, but I don't care. Every one of these little milestones, every one of these little things that he can do on his own, feels like the roller coaster slowing down. That doesn't mean it's stopped, or that parenthood gets easier, but it's getting more predictable. More normal. And that's a good thing.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

My first Mother's Day was wonderful. The three of us celebrated yesterday since Juan was working today, and Luke and I spent the "official" day together shopping, playing, and enjoying each other. It was a great day, but a rather eventful one for a number of reasons.

The Good: Luke was sitting on my lap playing with a stuffed toy and he kept pushing it at my mouth. After three or four nosefulls of Lamaze firefly, I finally realized that he wanted me to kiss the toy. I always make a game of having his toys kiss him (complete with big "MWAH!" sound effects) and he was mimicking me. He's never done that before, and he started cracking up as soon as I started giving the toy kisses. He'd put it near my mouth, I'd give it a big "MWAH!" kiss, and he'd laugh. Then I'd laugh, which would make him laugh harder, and so on and so forth. I think it was the first time we've shared a laugh like that, and it was wonderful.

The Bad: My grandmother isn't doing too well, and I'm really worried about her.

The Ugly: We got the green light from the pediatrician to start Luke on table foods, but I'm not sure he's ready. We tried two different Stage 3 (meaning small chunks of soft foods mixed in with purees) foods today and he gagged and vomited on both of them. He clearly has major issues with texture, and part of me wonders if he's just not ready yet. The other part, of course, thinks that it's very likely that he needs to continue to try new textures (he did okay with just one or two small pieces mixed in with a more runny puree) or else he'll never get used to them.

So, that was Mother's Day.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Luke has been learning new skills left and right this month at a pace that makes my head spin a bit when I think about everything he can do now that he couldn't just three weeks ago. He can pull himself to standing very easily, crawl across his room in under 10 seconds, and make "T" sounds. The one that I still can't quite believe, though, is that he's obviously starting to understand certain words and phrases we say to him.

His name was the first word he definitely recognized; that was a month or so ago. "No" isn't quite clicking yet (I think when he does react to it he's listening more to my tone of voice than to the actual word--to be honest I rarely had to use the word before he was mobile) but it's close. His newest word, though, is "Bravo!" Our Spanish-speaking nanny taught him how to clap last week, and now whenever someone says "Bravo!" to him (and he feels like it) he'll clap. It's beyond adorable and we're trying to catch it on camera before the novelty wears off.

My little baby is turning into a little boy, and it's going too fast. There are days when it seems like he'll be like this forever and others when it seems that he noticeably grew physically and cognitively overnight.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Remember back when Juan found a scorpion on our couch? And when I found one in the washing machine? Those were unfortunately just the first two of many ugly, scary little "friends" we've found here in the last two years. Well, tonight my arm looks like this:

because I got stung.

Juan and I were playing with Luke in his room, and when I put my arm down on my knee I felt the sting. It HURT. I haven't been stung by a bee in twenty some-odd years, that's roughly how it felt. The good news is that this type of scorpion's sting is about as dangerous as a bee's, so while Juan did make a point of circling the sting with a pen (and noting how far the redness spread) it's not dangerous in the slightest.

That said, I still kind of can't believe that I was stung by a scorpion.

I'm really not sure what to do about the fact that we've found more of them in Luke's room than in any other part of the house. I don't like having the exterminator spray in there, especially since it's hard to keep him away from the baseboards now that he's crawling, but I also don't want him to get stung. Ugh. We never had to deal with this kind of problem in Maryland.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Done and done

Thank God it's Friday. No, really, THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY. If I had to go back to that school in anything less than 48 hours I would probably go crazy.

(this is where my rant about today's administrative fuckup would go if, you know, I could blog about it. Suffice it to say, there was a fuckup, I will quit if it isn't resolved, and there's nothing I can do about it until people I don't completely trust do what they need to do)

BUT, the silver lining is that today is also the day we booked our tickets to GREECE for our anniversary/medical conference trip in June. It really can't come soon enough.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The cutest thing in the world

I double dog dare you not to agree that this is the cutest thing the world has possibly ever seen.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Moot Point

Well, it seems as though Luke read my last post because he's been waking up at 2:30 for the last three mornings. Oh well, we'll get this "through the night" business down someday, I suppose.
In other news, I've been approached to maybe possibly teach AP English next year. Everything depends on what a couple of other teachers decide to do (one possibly retiring, one probably transferring to a different campus) but if the spot opens up it's mine. I'm afraid to get too excited about this because it's still very uncertain, but since I have to start doing prep work now if I'm going to be ready by next September it's been on my mind pretty much constantly since I found out about it on Monday. It would be huge for me to get this, not only because it would be an amazing challenge in and of itself, but because it will look really good on my resume when we move at some point in the next few years and I have to find another job.

Onward and upward on a number of fronts, it seems.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Advice welcome

I am dying for sleep here. Luke has taken to waking up between 4:00 and 4:30 for the last two weeks, and since it takes him over an hour to go back down and we have to get up by 6:00, no one is getting enough sleep. He's tired and cranky, I'm tired and cranky, and Juan is too bleary eyed to know which way is up.

The good part of this is that two months ago he was regularly waking at 2:30, last month it was 3:30, and my hope is that by May/June he'll be sleeping until it's really time to wake up more than once a week. The bad part, of course, is that we appear to be stuck in this awful pattern until his system matures just that little bit more to stay full an additional 90 minutes overnight.

Most of you readers have kids, so I'm asking for suggestions to help speed things along if at all possible. I'm entertaining all options (including formula) that could help us all get enough rest.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

And incidentally

My blog is the number one hit when you Google "babysitter disaster stories." I'm so proud...


I'm liveblogging straight from parent/teacher night and it's...dull. Many of the parents of my problem students have shown up, many of the parents of my good students have shown up, but it's still slow. Bummer. The one thing that kept me from bursting into tears when I left Luke with the sitter this morning (the first time I've left him for longer than a standard workday and only the second time ever I've not been the one to put him to bed) was the thought that at least I'd be too busy talking to parents to miss my boy. I'll give you one guess as to whether or not it's working.

Can I go home yet?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Not BAD, just bad

I'm trying to do more cooking on weeknights these days (in the vain hope that someday we'll break our takeout habit) and am meeting with results that, while far less hysterically awful than previous attempts at culinary perfection, are just...not good. Tonight's dinner was a case in point. A crock pot recipe for cashew chicken that should have been good. Chicken, broth, snow peas, bamboo shoots, cashews, what's not to like? Okay, so it took four hours to cook and I didn't start it until after 5:00. And, okay, I may have forgotten to make the rice until after 9:30, but who cares. Homemade cashew chicken! Good!

It was the blandest, boring-est, waste-of-calories-est meal I've ever eaten. Total disappointment, especially for poor Juan who put in a 16 hour day at the hospital only to come home to crappy food and a wife who wouldn't STFU about how much dinner sucked.

So, in case any of you were wondering whether or not I still suck at all things domestic, the answer is yes. Yes, I do.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nice Time

I have a confession to make--I lied last week when I wrote that Luke and I would be spending Spring Break lounging around the house. We did, but not our house. Instead, we flew to Utah and stayed with my parents for five days. The reason for the deception was that my very good friend Marcie (who reads this blog--hi, Marcie!) is having a baby in June and our friend Michele and I conspired to throw her a surprise baby shower last week complete with a surprise special guest--me! I couldn't exactly talk about my trip when she didn't know about it, ergo the lying. I'm sure you'll all forgive me someday for it.

The shower went well, Luke played wonderfully with Michele's 4 month old daughter, and my parents hardly let me hold him the rest of the week since all they wanted to do was play with their grandson. I can't say I'm feeling much more rested today than I was a week ago, though, what with Luke's refusal to nap longer than 30 minutes or go through the night without two or three wakings.

Since today is mostly just recovering from the excitement of our trip (U2 in 3D! IKEA! Visitors galore!) I'll leave you here with a few pictures of the boy on Easter when Arcadia suddenly had a personality transplant and decided to be very patient with him.

Well hello, this is something unusual

Okay, okay Daddy I see how to pet the kitty. Let me try!

I'm good at this!

And look, there's even this handy little tail for me to grab and put in my mouth! Mmmm.... kitty fur!

Wait, where are you going kitty?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I still suck, but somewhat less than yesterday

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. It started at 6:45 in the morning when I went to the garage to pull some breastmilk out of our chest freezer. I've been dipping into my freezer stash (mass quantities of frozen breastmilk left over from my maternity leave for those who've never had to stock one) and discovered only three bags were left. Three bags, or six ounces total, out of a stash that had once been close to 300 ounces. Since those six ounces combined with the twelve I had managed to pump on Monday only equaled 18 and Luke needs 24 while I'm away, I had only one option: formula.

Now, formula isn't the devil. It's not even close, and all along I've known that this day was going to eventually come. I've been back at work for over 4 months now and can only pump twice during the day--getting 24 ounces in two sessions just isn't realistic. Still, I had to battle a lump in my throat when I pulled out a dusty can of (not yet expired--I checked) formula we got as a sample when Luke was a newborn and walked across the street to the nanny. She was very understanding and assured me repeatedly that he was going to do great, but I still felt like a failure. I wanted so badly to make it through Spring Break next week without supplementing and I was this close to making my goal.

Anyhow, that put me in a funk the rest of the day, which wasn't helped by the dozens of kids who either A: didn't do their midterm projects, B: did the project wrong because they didn't read the assignment sheet carefully, and/or C: waltzed into my room five minutes before my final deadline to hand in make-up work wanting to know how they could pull their 35 up to a 70. Needless to say, I did a lot of yelling.

I finally shoved the last kid out the door with a reminder to DO HIS WORK ON TIME FOR THE NEXT REPORT CARD and made it home around 5:20. Luke and I played for awhile and then it was time for him to eat dinner. Dinner these days is one jar of baby food and three tablespoons of oatmeal cereal mixed with breastmilk. He'd been balking at cereal for a few nights, but I honestly thought it was because he was full rather than because he changed his mind about liking it. Wrong. After three bites (and I should say here that I think I'm mostly to blame for this since I realized after the fact that I made the cereal thicker than he's been eating it lately and I suspect he didn't like the texture) he gagged and then vomited everywhere. His high chair, the floor, me, the dog, you name it. Poor baby!

Naturally I panicked a bit since this was the first time he's truly thrown up, so after consulting Baby 411 and scoffing at their suggestion to give him only Pedialyte for the next few hours (at bedtime there ARE no more hours, plus we had no Pedialyte in the house and Juan was still at work) I threw him in the tub and nursed him to sleep. Then I called my husband and my mom, in that order, needing some TLC.

Today has been quite a bit better, but I think what I really need is a vacation. Good thing Spring Break is coming up next week and I can spend the whole 9 days laying around the house, playing with my boy, and trying to remember that the good days vastly outnumber the bad ones around here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mother of the Year

I suck.

The end.

No, really.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Seven Months

Luke turned seven months old yesterday, in what truly was one of the crummiest Mondays on record. He didn't sleep Sunday night, and then when I got to school I discovered that someone had stolen my classroom laptop over the weekend. Oh, and I forgot the breast pump at home.

Needless to say, I was not a fan of the seven month birthday, but today (after filing a police report, getting a loaner laptop at school, and experiencing a rare uninterrupted night of sleep) things are looking much brighter. Plus, my adorable boy has started smacking his lips and saying "Bah!" which we can now add to "Gah!" as his favorite syllable.

We're also moving ever closer to crawling as Luke has started getting up on his hands and knees unassisted. He knows he can get most places by rolling, but he's bound and determined to move forwards as well as sideways.

Sitting is also getting better every day, and while he really likes having someone to lean on, he's starting to discover how much fun he can have on his own. He looks so proud of himself when he manages to stay balanced while reaching for a toy--it cracks me up and melts my heart at the same time.

Overall, I'm giving a big thumbs up to seven months!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Hold onto your hats (errrr...nunchucks)

Remember all those news stories about people throwing Wii remote nunchuck controllers that came out a couple years ago? Remember laughing hysterically at the thought of perfectly capable, competent adults getting so involved in a video game that they actually threw the game through their TV? Well, Juan almost did that tonight, only instead of throwing it through the television he managed to almost break his elbow and the remote at the same time after swinging it a little too close to my armchair during a rousing game of Wii Bowling. He bowled, connected with the chair, the nunchuck went flying (it landed behind the dog's crate) and a number of curse words were yelled rather loudly while he clutched his elbow.

So, the moral of the story is: use the little rubber handgrip things that come with your Wii remote so it doesn't get broken if you happen to hurl it into space while playing. Also, don't gloat over your wins at Wii Tennis and Baseball after doing something like hurling your Wii remote into space while playing or else your wife might blog about it.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Please skip if you have a weak stomach

Jasper had a grooming appointment this morning, so Luke and I got up, dressed, and ready to go fairly quickly compared to most Saturdays. I left Jas outside for awhile figuring that he'd be cooped up indoors enough today what with the hair cutting and drying, but what I didn't figure on was that he'd find poop to roll around in while he was out there.

Poop. All over the dog. ALL OVER THE DOG. This was no little poop he picked, and he was quite literally covered from head to paw.

After spending several minutes covering the baby's ears while I cursed whatever gods decided to ruin my morning, I decided that A: we didn't have enough time to hose him off before going to PetSmart, and B: I'm paying the groomer good money to wash my dog, so they might as well earn it! I covered the passenger seat of my car with a sheet, said a few prayers, and drove like a maniac before the smell made me puke.

Naturally there was a line to check in when I arrived, and naturally I got dirty looks from all the other pet owners whose clean dogs wanted nothing more than to rub up against my unbelievably filthy one. I wanted to explain to everyone that this literally JUST happened right before we left for the groomer, but figured that a quick dropoff and exit was my best bet. After apologizing profusely to the groomer (and making a mental note to tip her extra when I go back this afternoon) Luke and I practically ran out of the store. Ugh. I'm sure they're making a note in our file as I type "Owner brought dog in covered in poop, charge her double next time" and I can hardly blame them.

Of course, it could have been a lot worse. He could have rolled in the poop right after he was groomed.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Good, Bad


-Getting out two hours early from TAKS testing because I happened to be testing with the only group of kids who were allowed to leave the building as soon as they finished their exams.


-Getting stranded at school until 30 minutes after the final bell because no one else was available to check in dictionaries.


-Coming home to a happy baby


-Coming home to a completely exposed roof because the roofers (who will henceforth be known as the Fucking Roofers or FRs) went AWOL today and left huge rolls of felt, shovels, and other assorted crap on our half-demolished roof.


-Nice, temperate weather all day


-Rainclouds looming while the roof stands exposed because the FRs went AWOL


-Quick response by the roofing company managers to my call about the FRs, the exposed roof chock full of random crap that will doubtless be blowing all over the neighborhood when the wind picks up, and the looming rain.


-Quick response requires a new roofing crew to come finish up the job the FRs left half done in the middle of Luke's bedtime.


-box full of ice cream sandwiches in the freezer


-box full of ice cream sandwiches in the freezer that I will probably be stuffing my face with after Luke can finally go to bed.


The day appears to be a wash

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Random list of things on my mind

We've been going through a bit of a household purge/upheaval over the last month. First we got confirmation that the roof needed replacing (lovely), then we decided to buy a dining set and replace some ruined couches (courtesy of the lovely Miss Arcadia who's lucky not to be skinned alive over the cost), and then our nearly new TV set developed an unbearable high-pitched squeal that we can't turn off. The TV is probably a goner if what I'm reading on Samsung sites is correct, so that's likely another big purchase on the horizon.

Maybe I'm strange, but all of this change (new roof, new furniture, new TV) is making me twitchy. I like things to stay roughly the same from day to day, and suddenly I'm looking around my house and realizing that I hardly recognize it. It's a little disconcerting.


It took me nearly 45 minutes to vote in the primary this morning even though I arrived promptly at 7:00 am. Our precinct had the slowest poll workers ever manning the Democrat table, and at one point none of the six Diebold machines was being used while all four poll workers took their time v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y. highlighting the names of people at the front of the line and filling out caucus receipts. If I hadn't wanted my "I Voted" sticker to use as an object lesson for the seniors who aren't registered to vote yet, I probably would have just walked out at that point and gone back after work. Note to the Texas Democratic Party--don't assign 80 year olds to man the polls first thing in the morning on election day unless you want 50+ cranky people who need to get to their jobs filing complaints with the Secretary of State.


When my husband falls asleep on the couch and starts snoring it sounds exactly like there's an out of tune radio on somewhere in the house. Very disconcerting, especially after dark and especially when he claims that A: he didn't fall asleep, and B: he doesn't know what noise I'm talking about. I honestly thought I might be having auditory hallucinations for half an hour until I realized what the noise actually was.


The English Language Arts TAKS test is tomorrow and I'm nervous as heck about how my students are going to do. We've been prepping for it for over a month and I know there are still kids who are going to look at the open-ended prompts and totally forget how to write their responses. Stupid TAKS. Stupid kids who don't pay attention in class. Stupid me for not starting test prep before Christmas.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Beating my head against a wall

Some days I truly wonder why I bother. After a series of increasingly depressing staff meetings today about budget problems, district mandates to teach to new tests rather than to return our focus to actual literature, "new" initiatives that were tried years ago and were retired due to complete and utter failure, and other equally upsetting topics; I left school feeling completely and utterly helpless to do anything that might actually make a difference in my students' lives.

At least part of the problem is, as I posted the other day, the fact that NCLB has made testing vitally important to the survival of every public school. Thus, our administrators are justifiably desperate for ways to improve performance, even at the cost of actual education. A bigger part, at least from today's perspective, is that instead of trying just one or two new initiatives every few years to see if they make a difference, we're thrown half a dozen every year and told to make them all succeed, even when some work at cross purposes. It's like the district throws handfuls of pedagogical spaghetti at our little wall in the hope that some strands will stick even if most of them fall to the floor. The problem with that analogy, though, is that when real spaghetti goes "splat" it doesn't carry with it the future of hundreds of children whose educational needs are going unmet.

As a teacher, my hands are mostly tied. I can speak my mind to my administrative team during staff meetings, I can even go to school board sessions and let them know what I think, but the ultimate decision makers don't have to listen to a word I say. They don't have to try to juggle all the balls we're supposed to manage each and every day. They don't have to explain to students and parents why they're having to learn yet another formula for writing essays rather than reading a novel or engaging in some creative writing challenges. Moreover, they don't have to try to look a kid squarely in the eye and try to come up with an explanation that makes any kind of sense for all the BS hoops she has to jump through in order to get a diploma. It's infuriating and disheartening, and it makes me wonder how I'm going to keep doing this job (this job that I love 95% of the time) in the long run if things continue like this.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wii likey

In a moment of sheer insanity I told Juan that if he could find a Wii he could buy it. Call it an early birthday/Father's Day/anniversary present. I was convinced that he wouldn't be able to track one down, especially since most stores seem to get shipments in the middle of the week and his only days off are generally Saturdays and Sundays. Imagine my surprise when he got up at 6:00 this morning, headed over to Target, and managed to score one of the handful of systems they put on sale today.

Now, I am not a video game fan. I don't think I've so much as picked up a controller since the joystick went out of fashion, and the idea of spending hours repeating the same limited actions over and over again appeals about as much as a root canal. The Wii intrigued me, though, since at least it gets players up off the couch. So, when Juan brought the boxes home this morning I thought hey, maybe I'll like this.

No, I don't like it. I LOVE it! I kicked butt at Wii boxing (Juan's butt, to be precise) and bowling, but he can beat me pretty easily at tennis and baseball. We're both feeling the burn tonight too, since we were able to play for a solid 90 minutes during Luke's unheard of long afternoon nap. The only problem is that Jasper doesn't quite "get" what we're doing with the remotes and barks like crazy when he sees us playing. Oh well, for this much fun I'm willing to put up with a slightly loud puppy.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Geek 2.0?

Juan and I have often joked that we've set poor Luke up to hate school. With an MD/computer geek father and an English teacher/history nut mother, we're both clearly a little obsessed with learning and want to pass that on to him and his (future, someday, WHOLE DIFFERENT POST ENTIRELY) siblings. Whether or not he'll love school is something we obviously can't know yet, but hopefully he'll at least be interested in a subject or two and motivated to get good grades the same way we were.

I worry about his educational experience, though, because as a high school teacher I see every day just how much the No Child Left Behind Act is sucking fun and innovation out of our classrooms. By way of example, at every high school in our city students spend 6-8 weeks in every core class (English, Science, Math, and Social Studies) doing nothing but preparing for the state assessment test. In English we teach them to compose formulaic responses that wring all creativity out of their writing. In history they memorize dates of "important" historical events that have a decided Western/European bias. In math and science they memorize formulas and have less time for practical projects and experiments than they did pre-NCLB. In short, even students who generally enjoy school hate it from January through April because the focus is on passing the test rather than genuine learning. Things are worse on the elementary level because many schools throw certain subjects out the window entirely for weeks before a different subject test to just focus on skills needed for that test alone. No science in the weeks before the English test, no English in the weeks before the math test, etc... It's appalling.

Frankly, it worries me to think that Luke will have to deal with the repercussions of this era of "standards" in education. To be clear, I think we do need to measure student achievement in some way that doesn't involve report cards. Standardized tests are simply not enough to measure that success, though, particularly when you consider the things that a standardized test simply can't measure such as creativity, an individual's unique learning curve (since not everyone learns at exactly the same rate), and intellectual curiosity.

All of this is a very long-winded way of saying that I am rather concerned that by the time Luke gets to school there won't be any room for the types of fun and innovative learning that Juan and I were exposed to as students, particularly in the areas of math and science. I confess that I wasn't a fan of math and science classes when I was in school. English, history, art, and drama were where my talents lay, whereas I struggled with concepts that involved numbers. I still do, as a matter of fact. Juan, on the other hand, excelled across the board in school but he was especially gifted in math and science, and thanks to some excellent teachers he decided he loved them enough to major in Biology and go on to medical school.

I want Luke to have that experience if at all possible. Not necessarily the majoring-in-biology-going-on-to-medical-school bit, but the fun and interactive math and science lessons that can really capture a child's imagination and give them insight into the genuinely cool real world applications for these disciplines. We all need to understand basic math and science principles to function in today's world, and a more advanced understanding (and passion) only helps people who have passion for those subjects. I doubt many parents or teachers would disagree with me, and yet here we are. We're losing the point of so many subjects--teaching children how to think critically rather than just memorize facts--so we can evaluate how much they're learning. In what twisted world does that logic make sense?

Hopefully the educational pendulum will have swung back in the direction of sanity by the time Luke is in school. If not, well, I guess we'll be investing in some home chemistry, biology, and practical mathematics lessons in addition to the hundreds of books we already own. It just makes me sad that we even have to think about how his education may be lacking the very things that made school so enjoyable for us.

This post was inspired by the Parent Bloggers Network's Bringing Science Back blog blast. Go to PBN and read more about it!

Monday, February 18, 2008

The delightful thing about being married to someone who majored in Biology

Him: "Hey, what's the name of this DVD you want me to rip?"


Me: "Jane Eyre"

Him: "Oh. How do you spell that?"

Me: (waits a minute to weigh the benefits of snarking him versus the very real possibility that he may refuse to finish making the DVD if I'm too snarky)

"J-a-n-e space E-y-r-e"

Him: "Shut up."

Me: (collapses in laughter)

Ah, love.

Friday, February 15, 2008


I implore you to RUN (figuratively speaking) to Jennifer Weiner's fantastic blog A Moment of Jen to read the first chapter of Certain Girls, her new book that's coming out in April. It's a sequel to Good in Bed, which is easily one of the best chick lit novels out there, and based on the first chapter Certain Girls is going to be another winner. Plus, infertility storyline! If there's a writer who's equipped to deal with infertility in a funny and sensitive way, it's Jennifer Weiner, hands-down.

What are you still doing here? Go, read, enjoy!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I think it's a hit

Want to know how to make your incredibly geeky husband really, really happy on Valentine's Day? Get your mind out of the gutter and (apparently) into...

He hasn't stopped grinning since he got home and opened it up. Methinks it's a hit.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The only thing keeping me from crying today makes me want to cry

I'm having a rough week. My students have been acting out for substitutes lately and (of course) I have a mandatory training off-campus all day tomorrow so there's going to be yet another sub coming in. Combine that with a grant application deadline that's looming, a lingering cold, and some very wakeful nights with Luke and I'm just miserable. It's a miracle I haven't fallen asleep or burst into tears in class, that's how tired and miserable I feel right now. All that's keeping me going right now is the knowledge that Juan doesn't have to work this weekend so he can take over parenting duties while I take some much needed naps, and that makes me feel even worse.

After all we went through to have Luke I feel guilty for whining about how tired or stressed I am even though I know these thoughts don't mean I'm not incredibly thankful to have him. I've seen some discussion about this guilt on parenting-after-infertility message boards, so I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. It's a "how dare I wish for a baby-free day when there are still so many couples out there who would kill for what I have" feeling that doesn't go away even though I know, intellectually, that being happy all the time just isn't realistic. I'm a new mom who hasn't had a decent night's sleep in over 6 months and has a full time job outside the home--it's not unreasonable for me to want a break from my life once in awhile. Try telling that to the little nagging voice in the back of my head, though.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Six months!

Today is Luke's 6 month birthday and it's hard to believe how fast the last half year has gone by. At his appointment on Friday he was 25.59 in. long (25th percentile) and weighed 14.69 lbs. (10th percentile) so he's still a small boy, but one who's growing every day.

The big news out of the visit was that he's teething! Surprise! Juan and I had no idea he was so close to cutting teeth, but the doctor took one look at his gums and declared that both bottom teeth are "right there". Sure enough, you can easily see them when he opens his mouth wide (which he's refusing to do right now, otherwise I'd share a picture) and I can even feel the sharp ridge of the right one when I feel his gums. He's being a trooper about them even though they must be uncomfortable, and other than a low fever he's been running on and off this weekend he's his normal happy self.

He's very anxious to be on the go, and while crawling isn't happening yet he's found a very effective way to scooch around on his back. The cats are less than thrilled with this development, and while they'll still come near him when he's on the floor they've learned to stay attentive to how close he is to their tails.

We've also started to see some real stranger anxiety from him, which is a bit early but not wholly surprising. There doesn't seem to be a consistent pattern with who he decides he doesn't like, but mostly he seems to be more afraid of women than of men.

Overall, though, Luke continues to be the happiest, most easygoing baby I've ever known. Happy half-birthday, little boy!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I never learn

Why is it that I ALWAYS end up going to the grocery store on Super Bowl Sunday? It's like I'm physically incapable of remembering to buy some completely essential thing until the worst possible day to shop.

Naturally, because I like to up the ante idiocy-wise every year, Luke had to come with me to Albertson's today. He was an absolute angel the whole time, unlike the 20-something man we encountered in the frozen food aisle who ran past us yelling "Get in the fucking line already!" to someone on his cellphone while also steering a cart that, I kid you not, contained at least a dozen cases of Bud Lite.

We got out unscathed, and I am once again pledging to never, EVER go to the supermarket on Super Bowl Sunday again. Until next year, that is.


Edited to add: Thank goodness the Giants won. Perfection is boring. Not that I watched the game--I've spent the evening participating in the anti-Super Bowl: a "Sex and the City" marathon accompanied by brownies and vegetarian chicken nuggets.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Things parents should never, ever do at their child's school

Report cards came out last week and we're all starting to hear from parents who just can't understand why Tommy or Suzy didn't pass English even though they received MULTIPLE calls over the course of the semester about their child's poor grades. So, in honor of those parents, here are a few things that drive teachers absolutely crazy. If you're a parent, please take note to never, ever do these things. Ever.

-Ignore academic problems until it's too late
Last year I had a student whose parents didn't care about his failing grade in my class until three weeks before graduation. THREE WEEKS. By that time I had made a dozen calls to his home to inform them of his grade situation, the school counselor had been in touch about his chances of graduating, and five progress reports had gone out, all of which had contained failing grades. Three weeks before graduation, though, was the first time anyone from his family ever wanted to meet with me to discuss the situation, and by that point it was really too late to do anything to fix things. He ended up taking the class over in summer school.

-Lie to your spouse about your child's grades
A colleague of mine had an irate parent call the principal last year to complain that she had never informed him or his wife that their son was failing. After some back and forth between my coworker, both parents, and the principal it finally came out that she had spoken to the mom--twice--about the kid's grade but Mom didn't want Dad to know about it so she never told him about the calls. Bad idea. It was, as you can imagine, horribly embarrassing for the parents plus their son had to repeat that semester of English the following year.

-Just show up in the middle of the school day without any warning
Now, don't get me wrong, if your child is failing my class I want to meet with you in person. I don't, however, want to meet with you while I have a class in session. Last week a parent came by with her son to ask why he'd been marked tardy so many times. I would have been happy to talk about her son's issues with getting to my class on time, but not while I was in the middle of a lecture. Word to the wise--if you want to talk to your child's teacher make an appointment. Just showing up in the middle of the school day will never get you what you want.

In short, pay attention to your child's grades throughout the school year, keep your spouse informed of problems at school, and call ahead if you want to talk to your child's teacher about a problem.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The joy of 5 months old

Five months old has been very good to us so far. Luke is finally on something that resembles a nap schedule AND he put himself to sleep at naptime for the FIRST TIME EVER this morning. It took a few minutes of fussing and a dozen or so replacements of the pacifier after he ripped it out of his mouth so he could yell a bit, but finally he just rolled over, closed his eyes, and is now out like a light.

He's not quite able to sit up on his own yet, but with a little assistance from a Boppy pillow he can stay up for quite awhile. His tummy muscles are clearly able to support sitting, it's just his balance that's a bit iffy still. He's not tripoding much, but I think that in the next few weeks he'll figure that out.

His favorite toy is still his Exersaucer (though Juan thinks it's encouraging his ADD side since sometimes he'll play with each toy for 15 seconds before spinning to the next--I think it's hysterical) and we're going to have to increase its height pretty soon since he's almost too tall for the lowest setting. Anything that involves standing (while supported) is a big hit, which is probably why he's still wobbly while sitting--it's difficult to get him to want to sit some days!

We were at Costco on Saturday since I had an eye appointment, and I can't even tell you how many people came up to me and commented on what a happy little boy Luke seemed to be. And it's true--he's just the smiliest, silliest, most content baby I've ever met. He loves interacting with people but is generally okay to be by himself too. He's not showing much stranger anxiety yet (though we think it's coming soon based on a few experiences he's had recently with new people when he's tired) and flirts shamelessly with other babies and big kids when we're out and about. When we're in the car he mostly sleeps or sits quietly looking out the window. Gone are the days when he'd just scream and scream in his carseat--he still doesn't like being buckled in, but once he's there he's happy as a clam.

Overall, five months seems pretty good, and that makes me extraordinarily happy. Every month I think that things can't get much better, that he can't get any cuter, and then he does. It's amazing. I feel like the luckiest woman on the planet to have gotten such a wonderful little boy as my son.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Five Months

A few days late, but better late than never.

In other news, Kathleen is having her baby as I type! Congratulations, Kathleen and Brett!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Poor Baby

Luke has his first cold, and if there's anything more miserable than being sick with a newborn it's having a baby who's sick. Poor boy has been feverish, stuffy, and coughing since Monday and we're all feeling the strain. The good news is that (for the most part) he's still his happy, smiling self most of the day. The bad news is that he's waking up 6-7 times a night, which is making for both a tired baby and a tired Mama.

With any luck he'll kick the cold in the next few days and we'll be able to go back to our usual schedule. In the meantime, please send good health (and sleep) vibes Luke's way!

Please get better quickly, baby!

Friday, January 11, 2008

America's Next Top Offensive Talk Show

This news is making the infertility blog rounds today but I wanted to say a few words myself over the unbelievably offensive upcoming episode of the Tyra Banks Show that is currently soliciting comments/participants. The pitch for the show (direct from their website) is as follows:


Do you know a woman who is obsessed with becoming a mom? Have you seen and heard her struggle for years, felt her unvoiced jealously and seen her desperation first hand? Have you watched silently for too long as she gets her hopes up only to be disappointed and heartbroken when she can’t conceive? Has she tried extreme methods and spent a lot of money to get pregnant with no luck? Do you want to finally tell her she needs to stop the emotional and physical stress on her body and seriously consider adoption or a surrogate alternative? If you know a woman who is obsessed with becoming a mom and getting pregnant, then SUBMIT BELOW.

Please do not submit unless you are willing to appear on “The Tyra Banks Show".

The worst part of this show is that the following e-mail was sent out to RESOLVE members after the Tyra Show contacted RESOLVE for their help in finding women to be on the show.

The Tyra Banks Show is producing a segment about women who've been in pursuit of a pregnancy for a long time. The show which will tape/air this Thursday will focus on those of us who've tried, without success, almost everything Assisted Reproductive Medicine has to offer yet remain committed to the quest. Producer Anne Redecki is looking for articulate women who will speak candidly about their experiences, the emotional, physical and financial costs associated with ART, and their determination to stay the course.

If you're interested in sharing your story and being on the show, please contact:

Kimberly Saunders
Phone: 646 638-5641

Now, unless I'm missing something HUGE, this seems to be a classic bait-and-switch situation. It's like they want to deliberately mislead infertile women who would like to "speak candidly about their experiences" so their unsympathetic friends and family members can tell them they need to stop trying to have a biological child. It boggles the mind to think of what kind of sadistic asshole A: thought up this show in the first place, and B: wrote that e-mail and sent it out in hopes of deceiving and luring in women going through such a difficult situation. The fact that they misrepresented the aim of the episode to RESOLVE and used their membership in this way is just beyond the pale. For that alone, heads need to roll.

Contact information for the producer in charge of this trainwreck is above, and I'd encourage all of you to contact her to voice your disgust over what she and the Tyra Show are proposing. RESOLVE has been notified and is apparently handling their end of the situation as I type.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Did you know...

Want to know how to make 100 teachers scared out of their ever-loving minds? Spend 8 hours lecturing them about gang and school violence (complete with demonstrations on just how easy it is to conceal dozens of semi-automatic weapons in a pair of baggy jeans) but don't say a WORD about exactly which gangs are active at their school or what kinds of weapons the school's cop is pulling off students.

It's been a fun first day back at work.

We're starting to calm down a bit after the accident, in a segue that has absolutely nothing to do with the above observations, and I was even able to get a decent night's sleep for the first time since it happened. Hopefully that continues since the (suddenly scary) students come back to school on Monday and it's going to be a tough first few days back as they adjust to actually having to do work for the first time in two weeks.

I just hope none of them are packing heat.