Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy birthday, little dude.

New things:

  • tooth, one. Poked through so you can feel it. You won't let us look. But it was kinda how I thought it would be. Andrew poked his finger in, said you had a tooth. I called bullshit, because you hadn't been giving us grief. Andrew 1, me 0. Since then, of course, sleeping is SO 2008, Mother!
  • hair, some. It's getting there.
  • um, locomotion, lots. Inspired, apparently, by your love for all things digital and buttony. I sense either a lot of vigilance in our living room or a complete redesign involving height and fences. Maybe a moat. We'll see.
  • food, more than lots. Your grandfather fed you one day and was amazed that he had to keep going back and making more food. "And then I gave him peas," he said. "Suddenly, he was full!" Yeah, it's like that. I've been making your food and it's been awesome, but I'm starting not being able to keep up. More cheerios make it into your mouth than onto the floor, and that's a big accomplishment.

We're coming to the end of our glorious three week break together, what with the week of ARCTIC BLAST and then winter break. It's like blam! you got hit with the growing stick, and now you can't get enough. You're really into experimenting with your voice, from growls to squeaks to absolutely awesome high-pitched shrieks which make Matilda run for cover.

More videos to come, so I'll be sure to embarass you online as much and whenever possible. So, you know, big-dude-who's-already-wearing-18month-clothes, beware. I'm armed with a new video recorder, and dangerous.

Love you, baby boy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Arctic Blast

Originally uploaded by karijean
Last week, during school, we had some lame-ass Snow Days.

THIS is a real snow day. Andrew (of course) still went into work today, but the rest of the city is literally frozen in its tracks. And I don't say "literally" meaning "figuratively". I mean, planes are going nowhere (hence why we're still here--Andrew's family will have to wait to meet Howie), garbage hasn't been picked up, and the shelves of our grocery store are rapidly becoming bare. The UPS guy was spotted down the street--his truck couldn't drive the street and he was walking packages door to door. That is dedication.

I took some pictures of our view, this is the first of them. Take a look!

So... remember when I said it never snows here? Yeah, about that....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter crazy

Winter temperature
Originally uploaded by karijean
It has not stopped snowing today.

The television networks are calling this "Arctic Blast! 2008" and other crazy hyperbole. Wednesday was entirely devoted to live television coverage at various points around the city, which was ridiculous because aside from a brief period Monday morning, the city has been entirely drivable and not even close to being snowed in.

Today, however, is another story. The entire town is hunkering down for what may be a prolonged period of isolation and snow storminess. Or, as the midwest would call it, "Saturday".

This would be entirely awesome if we were staying here for the holidays, but we're not. Tomorrow we're supposed to fly to the midwest.

Travelling with a baby is entirely different from travelling by yourself. Travelling by yourself, you can pack a week early (if you want to) or pack the morning of. Throw some shit in a bag, bring your ID and a book, hey! good to go.

Travelling with an eight month old? You have to consider how much you'll need to feed him during your travelling time. (flight leaves at two, we get to the airport at noon, fly until 8 Chicago time which is 6 in Portland so... carry the two... we're travelling for twelve hours and apparently he'll have to eat five times and have six bottles? Whatever, just pack too much and assume he won't eat it all) Clothes. PJs. Toys. Blankets. Diapers. Wipes. Dear heaven and all the gods in it... when do I get to pack my own shit? Because don't forget car seat (the rental agency only has forwards-facing ones) and booster seat/high chair.

Talk about makin' a list and checkin' it twice.

So all day today has been packing and laundry and packing and organizing and list making. Uploading pictures because we won't be back here for a week. Charging various batteries, phones, cameras, and other electronic apparatuses (apparati?). All while juggling a totally inconsiderate eight month old who wants to do things like eat and crawl and get his diapers changed... can you believe it??

At any rate, our wee family is (hopefully) off to the midwest for more snow and family and a white Christmas, and will be back on the 26th, you know, assuming the gods don't choose to let loose with the fury of flurry at that end either. So if we don't see you before then, a merriest of seasons for you and yours!

For believing

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blizzard, 2008: Update

Okay, so now I'm as bad as my students. I'm obsessively refreshing the news sites hoping to see my school district. No luck yet.

And in the meantime? I haven't done my homework. My excuse though: earlier today, the laptop I'd been using went all blue-screen on me. Looking at a long day indoors, and possibly more than one day, horror filled me. An entire day? Without Scramble????

My husband, though, found an old laptop and over the course of this afternoon, scrubbed it and reinstalled XP and IE (at the highest version that this old dinosaur can handle). I don't have Office, but at least I have email. I may not have married rich, but I sure married smart.

I'm off to cook dinner. And refresh a few sites.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Snow! The great blizzard of 2008... okay, blizzard-ish

Dear Mr. and Ms. Weathercaster and the entire Weather.com family of networks,

The PNW cannot deal with snow. They cannot deal with the idea of snow. Unless it's safely up a mountain and then they snowboard. But snow? In driveways???? GOOD GOD MAN STOCK UP ON WATER AND HUNKER DOWN!

Make those Pacific Northwesterners teenagers and tell them that it might maybe just possibly snow this weekend, maybe, and it's like you sprinkled magic fairy dust on everyone and then pulled a unicorn out of your ass. Work? Homework? Reading? Math? HAVEN'T YOU HEARD IT MIGHT SNOW? WOMAN! HOW CAN YOU EXPECT ME TO WORK IF IT MIGHT SNOW???

So on behalf of teachers throughout Northern California, Oregon, and Washington, I have a small request: if you think it might snow at anything less than 1000 feet of altitude, can you keep it to yourself? Until it actually does start snowing? Because now, whether or not we have a "snow" day on Monday (which we might very well even if it doesn't snow because even the scent of snow is enough to call off school), I humbly predict 80% of my students will not have done their homework. BECAUSE IT MIGHT SNOW.

Ms. Kari

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Dude! I'm microfamous!

I'm in there. Yes, yes, I am Shit Filled Underwear.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Seven (and a half) months

Dear Howie,

It was inevitable, really. Apparently, ear infections run in our family.

But you know what, peanut? Our only clue that you were sick? Was the unending river of nasty that ran out of your ear. There was no petulance, no ear-grabbing, no sleepless nights, no refusal to eat, fevers, clinginess, nothing. Your ear just looked like you'd shoved a handful of pear puree in your ear--repeatedly--daily--hourly. And then let it slowly leak out. Think runny nose. Only out your ear.

Grossed out yet? Happy to share, my son!

Apparently your eardrum ruptured ("Totally normal," your doctor says. Which--ew!) which meant that your ear was infected enough to tear through your eardrum and you still were your rosy-cheeked, sweet, normal, investigative self.

Like, seriously? To paraphrase a famous nun, I must have done something damn good to deserve you.

Thanksgiving with you was a blast and a half. Mashed potatoes sent you into raptures of gnarlitude, complete with choking and shudders and wiping your tongue. Mark me, I will remind you of this when you go for thirds when you're a teenager, because that was certainly what you looked like--a teenager being asked to try something like kimchee or brussel sprouts, which, by the way, do deserve the whole-body shudders. Mashed potatoes, you will find out, most assuredly do not.

But yams and squash and pears and apples and bananas and peaches and beans and peas are all A-OK by you. I pick you up from daycare every day, and if you're awake, you see me across the room and grin and you've started holding your hands out to each side as a "Pick me UP!" signal which I never thought could turn my heart to mush but it so does. We run home and settle in and you sit in your high chair and nibble on Cheerios while I put your dinner together and then I sit down with your daily dish and I can't get it in you fast enough--you lead with your open mouth like a baby bird, but you have conversations with me the entire time.

You've got things to say, kid.

I know I only have like two weeks until your next monthly letter is due, but we have a lot of crap to do in the meantime. It's your first Christmas, homey! Your first plane trip, your first meeting with the rest of your cousins and aunts and uncles and don't worry, you won't be expected to know everyone's names (I'm still working on it) and your first true overnight outside of your home, but this is gonna be awesome.

You are SO close to crawling. You sit--you're pretty expert at that now--not quite black belt but definitely red belt--and there's something juuuuuust beyond your reach. You reach--and reach--and reach--and one of your feet goes behind your butt--and you reach--but that other leg just stays stuck in front of you. I love sitting near you and just watching as your focus keeps you trying. I don't know if you'll wait til 2009 to crawl.

There's one more milestone that you haven't hit yet, though, dude. I don't want to pressure you, but it starts with t and rhymes with shmeeth. No one never grows teeth, right? It's not a criticism, because my nipples are appreciative, but... dude, you don't even have blisters as if teeth are even coming soon. I'm not freaking out (exactly)... it's just weird.

So I have one small request--you've put it off this long, can you wait til we're done with airtravel before deciding to finally join the dental bandwagon? Thanks, buds, that'd be great. Because knowing you, you're going to go from toothless to BAM! an Orbit grin, like, overnight. One long, sleepless, cranky overnight.

Or, maybe you feel no pain and like your ears, my first clue will be your mouth full of teeth. In which case, either you are awesome or we are the most un-noticing parents in the history of parents. You know, either way.

Stay cool, kiddo.

your mama.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dear Self,

You know how today has sucked? How, even though it was a "day off", you've done nothing but grade old stats assignments? And how you haven't even made a dent on the quizzes and tests that need to be graded? And you haven't even STARTED entering these grades?

Right? This has sucked.

DON'T DO THIS TO YOURSELF EVER AGAIN. Asshole. This back up? This overflowing-toilet of homeworkness and looseleaf lined paper that has taken over your dining room because you needed TWO BOXES to get it home to grade over your HOLIDAY WEEKEND? YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF. Asshole. AND RUINED YOUR HOLIDAY WEEKEND. Asshole.

For the love of little green apples, DON'T LET YOURSELF GET THIS BEHIND EVER AGAIN.



Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Friday Friday!

It's Friday!

No new posts on single-parenting as Andrew is home now (as evidenced by the fact that it's 6:15 and I have time to sit down with coffee and type this). Today is Friday and as such might as well be the weekend, and then next week isn't even a full week of school and isn't life so much better when there's holidays to look forward to?

I fell asleep last night at 8:00. Can you tell?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Third weekday: not dead yet.

We fell asleep again. Which makes sense considering "we" were awake at 4. And "we" wouldn't go back to sleep. So "we" decided to get dressed. Then when "we" were too exhausted to continue getting ready and besides which there was still an hour until daycare was even open, "we" decided to lie down. THEN, of course, "we" fell asleep. And ONE of us stayed asleep when the other suddenly sat up and realized it was 6:15.

Thank goodness I'd packed up (almost) everything the night before.

I'm so tired my legs don't feel like they're going to work. I was up late last night doing laundry so that Howie had diaper covers for daycare. Did I remember them this morning, though? No. Nor did I remember to bring a new change of clothes for Mr. Poopy Pants, so hopefully his butt contained itself today or he's coming home in Silly Pants, my new nickname for the donated clothes that daycare has for just such an emergency.

That extra hour and a half of sleep Howie normally gets in the morning, from 6 to 7:30 (or 5:30 to 7) is apparently critical, because he's just been all off on his sleeping schedule. Normally a champion napper, he can't stay asleep at daycare and can't fall asleep on time or on his own and I need to wait until he's completely asleep before putting him down and so he's been going to bed later, waking up earlier and not napping. That sound you hear is my head exploding.

On the bright side, we survived, and I know we could long term if we had to. But--on the even brighter side--thank goodness we don't have to. Andrew gets home at midnight, and we can partner up again.

I miss my partner.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Second weekday: not a failure, but less than successful

This morning. First of all, hearing baby not-quite-crying-but-sure-getting-ready-to, the sound gets incorporated into my not-quite-asleep-but-sure-trying-to-be head and I think Andrew is in there trying Operation Reinsert Pacifier and I keep wondering what's taking so long. Until, duh, Howie starts crying more and I realize that Andrew hasn't been helping at all. So I go scoop him up and bring him into bed with me and we start nursing.

Mistake number 1. Because we both fall back asleep and suddenly it's 6:00 and I have fifteen minutes to get myself presentable and Howie dressed in clothes that he didn't wear yesterday (which he also slept in, by the way, but I wasn't going through the Sunday night "You mean I have to go BACK to sleep?" outrage by waking him up to change him--he fell asleep, let's do everything we can to keep him that way, mmmkay?) and get his food and get my food and get out the door.

Which, by the way, led to Mistake number 2: since we fell asleep while nursing, he only nursed on the one side. So by 10:00 I was gushing leaking down the side he didn't nurse on. And that was WITH wool nursing pads. SO grateful for my fleece jacket.

Which showed me Mistake number 3: I didn't bring my pumping crap. In fact, I left it in its little portable cooler on the dining room floor. Yay me! So I had to bring my pump home and guess what I'm doing as I write this? (edited to add: in fifteen minutes, got nine ounces. Yeah, I didn't plan my morning right at ALL).

Which meant Mistake number 4 was of little consequence: I forgot my lunch.

But I'm home, and we're still alive and he has food and milk and bottles at daycare and he even had socks on, so it couldn't be THAT bad, right?

Monday, November 17, 2008

First weekday: success.

It was a success today in that we're both alive, we've both eaten (thank you Emily!), one of us is asleep and the other almost is, and neither of us went naked.

That reminds me: just before first period today, one of my students snaps her phone shut and says, "Trista (ed--not her real name) just called, she's out in the parking lot and forgot her shoes. Do you mind if I go get her some shoes from my car?" and just like that, skips out of the room. Both girls return within two minutes.

Which leads to several questions--the main one of which is, how do you get all the way to school and then realize you don't have shoes?

Take me for instance. This morning, I got Howie all bundled up and we were in the car and then I realized I forgot his food. And then I realized I forgot my food. And then I realized I forgot my books. But I did all that before I left the driveway. And none of them are parts of me involved in the actual act of driving.

And now, I'm going to go put on comfy pants that have the fuzzy insides, and cuddle up under the comforter and pass out after two pages of my trashy novel.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Single Parenting

How do you do it?

How do single parents do it?

My hat off to every single one of them who has managed to bring up a happy, well-adjusted child without (a) devolving into bankruptcy (b) becoming hopelessly addicted to something or (c) running stark naked through the streets. Actually, check that: my hats off to any single parent who managed to bring up a happy, well-adjusted child. Period full stop. Because DAYUM this shit is HARD, and I've only done it for two days!

Andrew let me know about six weeks ago he'd have to go to New York for a couple days for business. Mmmm, errr, fine, I mean, what am I going to say? no? Seriously. But then suddenly the couple of days was FOUR days and then it was FIVE days and those five days? were from Saturday crack-of-my-butt early to Wednesday-might-as-well-be-Thursday late.

And now here I am, two days in, and I'm beat. I'm sitting here with a great honking glass of Smoking Loon after listening to the monitor for Way Too Long (why don't babies just know they're tired and give it up already????) and there's still the garbage to take out and the dishes to... dish and can I tell you I'm terrified about tomorrow morning?

I've never done the morning routine. That's been Andrew's bailiwick since the little man started going. I nurse at 5, because I have to be at school by 7; Andrew needs to be at work some time. By nineish. Mostly. So he gets the morning after I nurse, I get the afternoon. And going by the little daily report cards we get, Andrew rolls in to daycare any time between 7 and 8:30. Which is great. That means they have the mornings together and if some of that is planning and packing, then that's what it is.

But now I have to do it. And I don't have much time to do it. So many mornings Howie and I both fall back asleep while nursing, with the soothing tones of Steve Innskeep in the background--there's been mornings when it's only been the Morning Marketplace (comes on at 5:50) or the voice of the new OPB dude Geoff something telling me that it's 6:19 that has me tossing a sleeping infant back in his crib so that I can rush into my room to put clothes on and go. When I invariably forget something critical like MY LUNCH or MY PUMP or MY SHOES or something. And for the next three days, I don't have that luxury. Of the sleeping. I suppose I can forget something for myself (insert common family joke about HOW FORGETFUL KARI IS AND HOW FUNNY THAT IS HA HA HA! here because it is always so funny) but I don't want to forget Howie's stuff. He didn't ask for this, you know?

But also, I want to prove--to myself, to Andrew, to my family--that I can do this. I may not like it, but I can do it. So far this weekend, while exhausting--so little downtime!--has been doable, if a little lonely. We only have a faintly crazy Costco bill to show for it, and we spent some good time with Bectastic.

It's the next three days that'll really decide it.

Wish us luck.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Six months

Dear Little Man H,

I've been composing this letter to you in my head for weeks, but wouldn't you know it? I sit down to write it, and everything flies out of my head. Maybe there's something going on today...

Nah. That can't be it.

This past month has been the best so far. I realize I only have six of them to choose from in the running for The Best Month Ever, but seriously, I think that this one would win.

Last month you've discovered your feet with a flair that can only be described as gleeful. Now it's been a foot-fest (not to be confused with a foot fetish. That comes later, young man.) You can hold them! pull them! put them in your mouth! When sitting up, you can bend over and hit yourself in the head with them!

Okay, that last one you didn't enjoy so much. In fact, this whole Sitting Up thing, while kind of cool, ends in tears on a regular basis. In fact, it's pretty much guaranteed that after some absolutely fabulous arm-jerking and giggling and tag-wrangling and perhaps towel-waving, you will at one point want to look up, or sideways, or, gods forbid, BACKWARDS, at which time you will perilously begin to lose the battle with gravity. You do it slowly, oh-so-slowly, and often with a "What the FUCK?" look to me, until you pass the Point of No Return and gravity really does take hold and you weeble, you wobble, and you do indeed fall backwards. If I happened to be a caring mama at that point, you hit a boppy, but on a couple of occasions it must be said that we were overconfident and decided that we didn't need the big pillow. At those occasions, you hit the rug with a resounding thud. And after a couple seconds of shock, proceeded to let me know just how displeased you were.

Unless of course, you fall forwards, in which case you always hit with the thud-silence-scream combination. But that is happening more and more rarely.

You're starting to interact with your cousins, which is entertaining in the extreme; the Paci-pass you and your cousin Eleanor do is hilarious until one of you ends up with both paci's, somehow thinking that there is a way that if one paci is awesome, two must be AWESOMER. You do that, by the way, all the time. Paci? Awesome. Paci and fingers? AWESOMER. Nursing? awesome. Nursing AND sucking on my thumb? AWESOMER. Except it doesn't quite work that way. But whatever, we're working on it.

Speaking of nursing. You hit the big six months now, dude. You know what that means? FOOD. So far your dad and I are WAY more excited about this than you are. Not that you mind the attention, but so far, avocado and rice cereal get the tomato splat from you. Butternut squash doesn't suck, but you're still kind of meh on the whole thing.

Don't worry. I know that'll change--one day you'll be a teenage boy and I'll think back to when I couldn't get you to eat. You probably won't want to use utensils then either, but I bet you'll manage to swallow.

So today's kind of a big day here. It'll be interesting what today will be like seen ten years from now. Hopefully you'll grow up knowing a better world than you were born into. Hopefully one day you'll be in a history class and today, this date, this will be the beginning of a new chapter, like the Star Wars IV prologue but in a history book and therefore boring. Hopefully.


If there's nothing else you deserve at six months of age, little man H, it's a big ol' barrel of hope. Well, that, and a pillow permanently behind you.

Love you,

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wherein I talk of things about which I have very little knowledge, only instinct

So, I was listening to NPR today this morning in our early-morning-nursing ritual (will that warp little minds?) and as has been traditional for the past twenty-one months, a good portion of it was political. And there were a ton of soundbites of different voters from different regions of the country. Determination, exhiliaration, consternation, all sorts of different emotions from these different voters. What they were doing to get out the vote, change the vote, support the vote.

And there was one group of voters from--well, I guess the where isn't all that important, which is good because asking me to remember details from pre-dawn nursing ether is a worthless task--from somewhere who said that they were praying, their minister told them to pray, that prayer was the only thing that worked, and what they were praying was, "Dear Lord, save our nation and make John McCain the next president."


Leaving off my own beliefs on who the next president should be and my own beliefs of prayer, what struck me was the twist of logic that prayer denotes. Shouldn't prayer leave the method of salvation up to God? What if the best thing for the nation isn't John McCain? Is it just my--let's not say agnosticism, because my spirituality is something not-quite-agnostic--my lack of churchy-going-ness that makes me ignorant of how prayer works? Isn't it arrogant to assume that the prayer-maker needs to tell God how to save the nation? Is that how God works?

And if you're so sure that God listens to you, how can you be sure that what He's granting is to save the nation? Maybe He's doing it to teach a lesson, or to let our nation's downfall save the world. Or something. I'm certainly no god, and couldn't understand the workings of one who is. What human being could understand the workings of the infinite? Or deign to tell one how to acheive Their goals?

If you believe in God and the power of prayer, of course. If you don't, then it's all the power of man. And the power of man is built on each vote. So vote your conscience, and either way it works: the power of man prevails, and let God's will fall as it may. But don't preach of salvation and tell me how to get there. You can't have both sides.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Making history.


This vote feels like none other. I am filled with hope and exciting excitement (...and, dude, I'm still waiting for the Democrats to screw it up because if anyone can, they can, but I'm starting to believe that maybe, truly....)

I took pictures of my ballot, y'all. Because now I'm part of history too.

I heard this on NPR today, and I think it applies no matter our race, creed or color:

Rosa sat, so Martin could walk.
Martin walked, so Barack could run.
Barack ran, so our children could fly.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 27, 2008


among the pumpkins
Originally uploaded by karijean
Some days are just perfect.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Where'd the month go?

How can I be working part time and still have a five-inch pile of homework and quizzes to grade--a pile I worked on for (essentially) eight hours straight yesterday, and still didn't finish?

Apparently I'm still having problems juggling this part time job thing. No big, really, but I always seem to think I can do more than I can in less time than I need. Or something. And I feel like I should be putting forth more effort, always. I can always see what I'm not teaching well enough, and I have ideas on how to do it better, but those ideas take time and planning and you know what? I'm getting paid slightly less than your average first-year bus driver, so why should I be writing new lesson plans, when half of my third period class can't do eight problems of homework?

What I'm saying is, the juggling I'm having problems doing is half timing, and half motivation. And half--well, hell. I have the cutest little boy at home that I'd way rather spend time with.

Of course, last week I was gone for a very precious forty-eight hours, to the coast with a dozen pretty spectacular women. It makes me realize my Hanging Out skills are a tad rusty. I guess a eight months of depression and then 10 months of pregnancy will do that to you, you forget how to manage the ebb and flow of conversations and groupings and rhythms and tempos. But now I can feel myself starting to join back up with the human race again, and that's good. I'm still letting some tricks drop, and that's bad, but I'm giving it my best, and it'll get better as time goes on. It helps that there are some pretty awesome people round these parts.

I can't believe Halloween is on Friday. The grocery store already has their Christmas stuff on display, which--dear God, I'm old, because...where has the time gone? Also: get off my lawn!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Flickr madness

Govt. Bailout Blowout
Originally uploaded by karijean
So, I'm a flickr gal. I may use picasa to edit my photos, but I don't use their online site--I use flickr. To the endless frustration of my father. (Note to friends--if you want to copy pictures I took of, say, your children? email me through flickr and I'll make you a friend! just be sure to credit me when you do copy it...)

Anyway. where was I? Oh, yes, flickr whore. I mean fan. Whatever. I love posting my stuff to flickr. And I was just going through my pictures and checking out their stats--nothing amazing, I'm no dooce or sweet juniper, but 7 views here, 16 views there, 831 views... WHAT. The. WHAT?!?!?!?

A picture I took at the Saturday farmer's market in downtown portland. Has gotten. Eight hundred and thirty one. views.

It was a toss-off picture I'd taken of a funny sign on a box of tomatoes. One of the best results of the digital revolution is that, once I buy the camera, pictures are, essentially, free. I can take pictures of everything, as many times as I want. And I can just snap pictures of stuff that amuses me without thinking of the cost of film and developing and paper and time in a darkroom and... so I like to take the camera when I go to the farmer's market. Actually, I like to take the camera everywhere because I'm learning so much about what makes a picture good. But sometimes I just take a picture because a sign is funny and I don't worry on it being a good picture from a sort of artistry standpoint.

But eight hundred and thirty one views?

If I'd known that was going to happen, I would have taken a better picture!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

08! 08! 08!

Words I'm beyond ready to never hear again:

"Battle ground states"
anything to do with lipstick, pitbulls, hockey moms, or soccer moms

And can I just say? Whatever else anyone says about a certain lipstick-wearing hockey mom... her voice makes me want to jump out a window.

Monday, September 29, 2008

This is weird. It's like we're developing a routine, a pattern. Things happen, and then they happen that way again. And then they happen that way again again.

Sometimes it's really good. Like when I go to pick you up in the afternoons and you see me and do a little body wiggle--like your whole body goes stiff, your arms go out, and you'd jump if you could, you know, stand--and the best, best! part is after I pick you up.
You grin that grin with your tongue hanging out, and one hand spastically reaches out to find my cheek. And then the other hand finds my other cheek. And there you are patting my cheeks as if to say, "It's good, Mama! It's good that you're here and that I'm here and today! It was good!"

And then you lean in and eat my chin.

You do that in the semi-dark pre-dawn grey of your room, as we snuggle in the glider and listen to NPR muster on about bank failures and plunging stocks (which would totally matter if we had any savings... in case you were wondering about why you are supporting us in our retirement? I blame the banks. Not our own ineptitude. It's all W's fault.) and you decide you don't need to sleep and you rear back and do the hands on cheeks thing and the chin nibble and I think, who needs the Dow anyway? Other mornings we just both fall back asleep together, and it's like your first months when we would kick back in the recliner and sleep until lunchtime. Only this is at five a.m. and I do have to put you back down eventually and haul my ass in to teach some teenagers. But for about fifty minutes each morning I can forget that, forget investment plans, forget anything, because you have my cheeks in your hands.

Speaking of which, do you remember that time I fell out of the glider? No? Good, because it totally didn't happen.

Other repetitions aren't so fun. Your grandma and grandpa have graciously taken to watching you on Thursdays which is awesome--I am so excited for you to have your own relationship with them and your own patterns and habits and in-jokes. Right now your only pattern with them is not eating. I'm not worried, exactly. I mean, you're five months old, so it's not like you have weight worries or anything. You'll eat when you feel like it, and eventually you will, but it worries your grandma so I really wish you'd eat for her. Maybe it'll just take solid foods for that to happen.

And really, her cooking is so good, it is worth waiting for. Maybe that's what you're doing.

You've started rolling over, but so far you only have half of it down. And then you get caught on your belly and that is Not. Okay. Or you reach for something (like paper! OMG paper! You want! Paper!) and plop! you've landed on your belly and that is Not. Okay. So clearly your next step is to figure out how to get yourself out of that predicament. When that happens, I have a feeling, nothing in the house is safe. Because right now we put you down and flip! you're turned over. We turn you back and flip! you're turned over.

In the mornings I wake up with you and we have our hour that's just us. Then Daddy takes you in to daycare. You do your thing there (which apparently involves two or three wardrobe changes a day. Is this how Elton John got started?) and then I get you in the afternoon. And then we cuddle and play and roll over and then suddenly it's bedtime and time for a new day to start and one day slips into another. Next thing I know you'll be asking me for the car and I'll say you didn't fill it up with gas last time and you'll say it was empty when I lent it to you and that'll probably be true.

But as patterns go? This doesn't suck.

Love Mama.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Asking for ideas

So, I'm thinking of setting up a blog just for the H man. Not to say I wouldn't write about him here if I wanted, but someplace to post a picture that's all, look at me! I'm sitting up!
Sitting up
What do you think? Should I do it? If so, do you have any ideas, O internet, for a good name?

I keep coming up with cute captions in my head, like "Tasting toes is less fun than I thought it would be"
Tasting the toe 3

but if they're going to be in Howie's voice, it should really be in Howie's blog, don't you think?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Part Time Teacher

I am constantly baffled by teachers who never take work home, who leave right at 2:30, who look far more relaxed than I ever have.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still grateful I've changed professions and that I teach now. Days that were endlessly the same, that went into ten and twelve hours, that had me at a desk all day long, they ground me down. And teaching, whatever else there is about it, isn't like that.

But it's also not well paying. I know, news flash.

Some teachers compensate for that by having a hard limit on how much they'll do: what the contract stipulates and not an iota more. Other teachers say screw it, and stay as long as they feel they need to stay to get the job done (there are some there til 9 at night!). I've always wanted to strike some sort of happy medium between the two--I'm crazy that way--but it's hard. There's always--ALWAYS--more work than there is time for. Here it is, after five days of classes, and I'm behind on grading, I haven't been able to research my special-needs students, I want to be able to recommend some students for extra support but I don't know who they are yet, AND I don't have the online status updated for my AP students.

Planning? Ha! Improving lesson plans? PUH LEEZE. Organizing my room, cleaning my office, and planning for the clubs I advise. All are gone by the wayside.

Last year, I was looking ahead to this year and I knew I didn't want to be grading over dinner like I have been. With this tiny little human in my life now, I didn't want to have the two hours we have together tainted by a dark cloud of work. So I chose to reduce my load--I'm now a part time teacher. I'm getting paid 60% of what I used to get paid (remember, I'm a math teacher, so 60% of Not Much is... Even Less), but I'm also, now, finally, after three years of teaching the same two classes, getting time to improve where I wanted to improve. Take chances where I wanted to take chances.

Grade what I wanted to grade.

There's a lot more work I do now that I'm not getting paid for. But I'm considering it an investment at this point. Whereas I was getting paid for a fulltime job before but clearly working a job and a half, now I'm getting paid for 0.6 of a job--and I have a chance at only working full time. And still coming out with better lessons to use in the future. For someone who puts a lot of pressure on herself (me? naaaah) it's a huge relief to feel like I can do a good job without sacrificing my family.

Except, of course, financially. I'm lucky lucky lucky we're at a time and place and stage where I can do this--for my sanity. For my pocketbook, it's not so healthy.

What kind of world is it where we ask teachers, theoretically the ones who get our children ready for the world, to make this kind of tradeoff? You can work yourself into the ground, you can always feel inadequate, or you can skimp on what you teach our children--that's it, them's your choices. And none of them involve getting paid for the work you do.

In the meantime, though, it's really nice to not feel half-crazed and underprepared. Now, ask me again about Christmas time when my gift-list is a lot of hand-made "it's the thought that counts" type of gifts, my answer may change.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

4 months. A few days late.

Yeah, kid, your birthday (is it a birthday if it isn't your annual birthday? can I still call it a birthday? there's nothing inherent in the word "birthday" implying annual celebration, right? so I can call four months from the day you were born your birthday as well, right? but then where would it end? could I celebrate every tuesday as your birthday? Every day at 8:22?)

Ahem. Howie, if you're reading this, you're probably used to that geekout tangent right there, and you're probably rolling your eyes if you're a teenager, or smiling fondly if this is, like, 2057--or pointing accusingly if this is court (or therapy)--but I do apologize. On with the four-month-letter.

Yeah, I know your birthday was Friday. And I thought about writing this on Friday--I did! I had it planned! But then we went to the cabin and that involved lots of chores, lots of cabin-planning chores and... and did you know that lately you've decided that you don't need naps? Not so much, really? You just... napping has apparently become some form of esoteric torture that is somewhat akin to bamboo under the nails. And, according to the Republicans, makes you a worthy candidate for president--because that gives you character. So when you're doing that, that not-napping thing, I'm not so productive on the to-do list in my head. So while, in a way, it is my fault for not getting the letter written (and talk to your Aunt Lee, she's used to me letting important dates like birthdays slip--call it an eccentric quirk, please?) it's not like you made it easy.

Oooga Booga!
Which is weird because in so many ways, you are the easiest kid in the everest of evers. This past month your smile has graduated to full-on beam, and even given way to the occasional belly laugh. We had a whole photo shoot the day before your birthday wherein the phrase "Oooga Booga!" delighted you to no end (how we discovered that was the Open Sesame of hilarity, I have no idea, but once we did, it was thoroughly exploited). You came to work with me, and after a short period of contemplation, gave a wide and toothless grin to every coworker who paused to admire your complete adorableness (except one, one particular coworker, but that just shows that you are a supremely good judge of character).

Your grandparents came for a visit, with your aunt and uncle and your cousin, and they adored you too.
You had a special bond with your grandma, telling her secrets all weekend long. She had you figured out before she left, too. So if I were you, I wouldn't plan on being let alone much when we go there for Christmas. Don't worry, you'll find out what Christmas is. I have a sneaking suspicion you'll like it.

You've started daycare this month, too. I can't tell whether you like it or hate it, but the lovely ladies there having nothing but lovely things to say about you. I can never tell whether they are saying you're beautiful and smart because that's what they say to all the mamas (and papas) that come through the door (speaking of which, I am pleasantly surprised at the number of fathers I have seen picking up and dropping off at this facility, making me all the more pleased with our choice--I don't know if it's the residential location of the daycare, or what, but lots of parents walk their children in, and lots of those parents are fathers, which makes me really happy. Of course, I have no idea if this is the norm for daycare, this being our only daycare experience. But, I digress. Obviously.) And! tomorrow will be the second! time you've stayed at your grandparents' house (the other grandparents, the ones who live here now) all day while your parents were at work. The first time was a rousing success, what with you taking a nap on your grandma in the rocking chair on the front porch for a significant length of time. Who could hate that?

I will miss our naps in the recliner, you and I. Even now, when you fall asleep nursing, I have to force myself to put you to bed, (knowing that if I don't, you'll wake up if I cough or have to pee and what should be a long nap or even an overnight sleep will turn into a catnap) but I hate it, every time, giving up your sleepy body and your fists that rest lightly on my ribs. Each time I try to soak it in and memorize every sensory input because that will end soon.

So it's on to month five, Buster Brown. You're holding things now (mostly) and soooo ready to roll over. You've developed this habit of holding your legs up at a right angle, waiting, maybe contemplating those odd shaped things at the end of them (we call them feet, I keep telling you) and then WHAM! slamming them down to the ground.
Rolling over--caught on film
Occasionally that has given you an unfortunate surprise as you are not in your crib or a nice carpet, but mostly you just use it to rotate yourself like the hand on a clock. I figure that's only until you learn the magic of rolling over, and then it's Log Roll 24/7, yeah! I did capture one roll on film, but that was more shock and surprise (and then tears) than intent to move, I think.

Please, just roll over for us at home, will you? If you roll over first at daycare, will you lie about it to us and make us feel like we saw it first? I'd appreciate it. You're growing too fast as it is, anyway.

So, happy birthday, or whatever this is (or rather, whatever Friday was), my Ooga Booga baby.

Love, me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another year begins, and I need a brain dump.

So, another year is beginning. Things are different, but they're not, and I find myself oddly anxious. I can't quite put my finger on why, though. I mean, I'm going back to work part time (yay!) so you'd think I wouldn't be as anxious, but I am. I can't imagine how stressed I'd be if I weren't part time. Just the thought of being able to finish all my work--to stay caught up in my work this year!--without working past a nine hour day is exciting. Of course, I'm only being paid for a four hour day, but there you go. Such is teaching--always with unpaid hours.

With that in mind, things are getting ever more precarious in our contract negotiations. Big union meeting on Wednesday. Before I was a teacher, I was all, "unions! Pfeh!" but let me tell anyone who may think unions have outlived their usefulness: they haven't. More on that in a future installment.

Howie had his four month checkup this afternoon, and he's off the charts in height.
Daddy Long Legs
Leaving him at daycare hasn't been a problem, and I feel oddly guilty that it's not. Yes, that means I'm feeling guilty that I don't feel guilty. Shut up. But he's laughing and smiling more than ever, so either he's the happiest baby ever born just, y'know, genetically, or daycare really is okay for him. Or, hopefully, both.

So this is the only week where I"ll be working past lunch. Figuring out pumping schedules is stressful and uncomfortable--today I pumped in the nurses' office with a coworker also pumping there. Is there a polite way to say, I really don't want to see your nipples? and more importantly, I don't really want you to see mine? I couldn't think of one in time, and pumping doesn't really work on a staggered timetable--it's midday, we have 60 minutes for lunch, we've both not pumped since leaving home, and it's 11:30 now so...so I saw her boobs waaaay more than I want to see a coworker's boobs. Friend Boobs and Family Boobs are different. Coworker Boobs? Just. Different.

Anyway. I'm twittering now, so if anyone wants to find me, I'm karijean. I've been trying to figure out how to get a twitter badge on the blog here, but that may be a day or two away.

Bleargh. This is clearly an inadequate (inadequite?) blog post, but it'll have to do. I'm already feeling stressed about tomorrow. Good night.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Portland's a funny town. Ninety percent of the people you met have moved here--most aren't "from" Portland. They'll still ask me why we moved here, when our reasons are probably similar to their own.

The logical reasons were these: we were in Chicago, but knew we didn't want to live the kind of lives we'd have to live to live the kind of lives we wanted to live. If you know what I mean. We didn't want to commute for an hour, or work seven-to-seven, or climb corporate ladders. We wanted a home with a yard, and weekends to do stuff.

So that meant we'd leave Chicago. And having grown up in the suburbs, I pretty much knew that... well, let's just say I'd rather chew off my arm than go back. No offense to suburbanites--it just wasn't for me.

So that opened up the whole country. Where should we go?

We didn't want hot, so that ruled out the southwest, and the south east, and... well, the south. And I'd had it with snow, so that ruled out the Northeast. And the Midwest. And we wanted an airport, and museums, and public transportation. And affordable homes.

That left Portland.

So, that's the logical reasons we had for moving here. It was all--we knew what kind of life we wanted to live, so we had to find a way to live it. We occasionally have to remind ourselves to actually live in the city, though. I mean, if all we do is go to work, maybe go to the movies, and shop at big-box stores and stripmalls... we might as well live in a suburb. Any suburb. So I make it a point to make it to farmer's markets, and Saturday Market, and the library, and walk to the coffeeshop (not a coffeeshop that rhymes with Blarbucks) and the movie theater and the grocery store.

Even, better, though--if a picture is worth a thousand words, then I have lots and lots of words about why I moved here. Because Portland puts on (free) events like this.

That? That's proof that Portland and us is a good match. Any city that has that as a free event is my kind of burg.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pay it Forward.


You know what's awesome about being at the end of a parade of eight baby boys?

(that reminds me of the joke about the guy who worked shoveling elephant poop in the circus parades*.)

Seriously, our local friends and family have had, in the past four years, eight boys. It might be nine before 2009, but the latest couple is waiting to find out. Well, one of them is. The other sneaked a look at the ultrasound and then emailed me, "What did boy's goodies look like on the ultrasound?" I couldn't help her, because Howie's goodies? all but had a giant neon arrow proclaiming "I AM A BOY AND BOY AM I EVER A BOY!!!" So I'm not sure what questionable goodies might look like, I only know what obvious goodies look like.

Anyway, one of the best parts of having all these older boys around (besides the fact that in a decade, none of us will be mowing our own yards or washing our own cars) is that I am getting piles of hand-me-down clothes for Howie. And since all of our friends have SMASHING good taste, they are cuteness personified.

Lee's son is just between the two boys of Emily, so Emily was able to lend her clothes until her youngest is big enough to wear them. I don't know what Lee was expecting, but her jaw dropped when she saw the giant container Emily had in her basement. "I, um," she said later, "I about crapped my pants. I was kind of panicking about all the stuff I'd have to buy and now? Not so much."

Lee's passing it on too, because she just dropped off the stuff the Te man just outgrew. So now I have pj's and jeans and jackets and the cutest stripey union suits for Howie to grow into.

This spirit of Pass It On is fantastic.
* someone says, "that's an awful job! you're smart, why don't you get a better job?" and the guys says, "and leave show business?!?!?!" Okay, lame. But one of the first jokes I remember my dad telling me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Night Air

I went to the library last week to check out the "How to Raise a Baby" section.

It's pretty freaking big.

Stripey PJs
This was bourne of the fact that Andrew and I are having a disagreement. Specifically, it is about windows and Night Air and how those two elements do (or do not) affect our son.

I don't know if you've noticed, but it's summer? And we're having a pretty hot summer here. But the really nice thing about the Pacific Northwest is that at night, it gets nice and cool. It may have been 90 during the day, but it'll still get to 60 or lower at night.

It's awesomeness. I hate hate hate heat. I hate hot sticky muggy August heat. And I hate. HATE. Waking up coated in my own sweat. Which I noticed I was doing because someone kept shutting the windows at night. It'd be 3 a.m. and none of the upstairs windows were open any longer.

So, thinking it wasn't Matilda (silly dog, you don't have opposable thumbs!) and Howie really wasn't ever out of my sight so it probably wasn't him, I turned on Andrew.

And he told me that he didn't think Howie should be surrounded by Night Air.

And I told him that Night Air was fine.

Both of us, actually, were completely talking out of our asses. I personally think my ass is correct, of course, because Night Air doesn't seem particularly threatening to me. And if it was, that would lead to a whole host of questions. Such as, which air specifically is Night Air? Does it start at twilight? Or does it have to be dark out? Is later Night Air worse than early Night Air? And how exactly is Night Air bad? Is it just bad for babies? Does it hunt them out? And is it worse than Indoor Air Conditioned Air?

Because dude, I'm so tired of waking up in a pool of my own sweat.

I have to admit, we've been parenting mostly by instinct. We never took a class, and really, neither of us has read an entire one of the ubiquitous What to Expect When You're A Parent Now Doofus Idiot's Guide to Dummy Parenting books. So we're going half on instinct, half on what we remember from our parents, and half on what we see from our friends and family.

But then we get to these Night Air conversations, and... Okay, I still think there's no defense for Night Air is Bad, but maybe it is. And I just don't know!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Howie's got a new best friend or two

It's been interesting having Andrew's family here. Howie took to his gramma like a fish to water, having long involved conversations with her.

It makes me happy, and more excited than I had thought I would be about travelling to see them for Christmas--I'm nervous about everyone staying in the farmhouse, and us with a baby. But seeing his gramma and his grampa with him is worth it.

Even better, his cousin showed a side I'd never seen.

Howie's cousin is six, and smart as a whip with more energy than... a very energetic thing. And all he wanted to do was spend time with Howie. Well, and play basketball. But basketball and Howie, Howie and basketball. That was it. (Maybe, after Howie was in bed, watch cartoons, but then that really is it.)

Maybe that's what makes me the most excited for Christmas. Howie gets to have extra cousins, different cousins, older cousins who can show him how to do things and be someone for him to look up to, who can watch out for him. And it looks like this kid really wants to step up for the job.
Making Howie look strong!

"I'm making Howie look strong!" he said. And maybe he will. Which is pretty cool.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The one about the daycare.

I fell awake an hour and a half ago.

Just... I was asleep, then I was awake. And suddenly my brain went all fritzy and it's too hot and my head itches and I can't believe I ate all that ice cream tonight or should it be last night now I mean does this count as today or as tomorrow yet fuck me it's three a.m..

So after an hour of that and wasn't that fun I decided to come downstairs and at least surf the web until Howie needed to eat.

He's going to daycare today/tomorrow. Well, now it's 4:30, which starts to count as really fucking early today and not as really crazy late yesterday, so I guess he's going to daycare today. That has nothing to do with why I can't go back to sleep.

Shut up.

We're paying for August, we figured, so let's make sure we've got this whole routine figured out before I have to go back to school, so that if I have to I can get him in the middle of the day or at least bring him something or whatever baby daycare emergency might pop up for someone who can't even roll over yet much less will still grin for anyone who holds him, the flirt. Anyway, so, yeah, we're taking him to daycare tomorrow. I mean today.

The whole daycare thing has been a weird convoluted saga. We started looking for daycare when I was four and a half months pregnant, and we were getting on waiting lists all over the city. And getting on waiting lists with the Waiting List Guardians sucking their teeth and saying that we should be sure to register at another daycare somewhere because... they couldn't promise anything but they were pretty sure we'd never get into that daycare in time. Jesus McPeet, people, I barely know that this fetus has arms and legs, and I'm not early enough for getting on the daycare lists? And apparently at a corporate daycare that rhymes with Blikey they had to institute a rule that you couldn't get on the waiting list unless and until you were actually pregnant which inspires two thoughts: a.) no wonder I was on waiting lists across Portland and 2.)who are these crazy bitches who think "I'm going to get on a daycare waiting list because I will not only get pregnant when I mean to but will give birth to a healthy child and then I need to have Blikey daycare just in case!!"???? Okay, maybe it's not such a shock that a company whose name rhymes with Blikey might employ a Type A personality or three.

So anyway, waiting lists, yeah. We got into one (1) daycare in all of Portland, and it was the least favorite, most expensive, corporate child kennel. But it was worth the $100 deposit to have a peace of mind that at least someone would feed my child and maybe change his diaper if he pooped. We got on the waiting list of the all organic spelt-feeding no-plastic-toy-having hemp-sling-wearing hippie haven that I thought was my first choice. We got on the waiting list of the daycare that awesome people already went to (but knew we'd have no chance of getting into for various reasons, that mostly involved the fact that this daycare was subsidized by her husband's employer and that said employer was neither my nor my husband's employer). We got on the waiting list of the oldest daycare in Portland, that has operated since 1908. Who knew that there were daycares in 1908?

We had a daycare. I could relax, right?

Ha. So that daycare--I didn't like it. First of all, aesthetically, I didn't like it. And second of all, it was so freaking expensive! And as I made the decision to go back to work part time (oh, yeah, hey, I'm going back to work part time, y'all! more on that later) it just cut waaaay to close to the bone. So as I was nine months pregnant, I started freaking out about daycare. And I lugged my ten months pregnant self (and dragged along certain awesome people) I made a new round of daycares in the desperate hope that I would get in somewhere. Wouldn't my twelve-months-pregnant body inspire aid? Anywhere.

I went to the local-down-the-street daycare. I went to the sort-of hippie downtown daycare where they had their own jail-esque playground. And I called all of the previous daycares to see whether they were still in Teeth Sucking mode or whether me working half days or maybe if I only needed four days because my parents would take him for a day would make a huge difference on moving me up or down the waiting list.

And no and no and no and no.

So we had the babe and we named him Howie and the heavens parted and shone their great ray of Cutest Baby Ever on him, and we were happy, except that whole Daycare Sucks thing was still niggling in the back of my head because dude, why is this so hard????

And then in the past three weeks, we've had calls from three different daycares, and then we were spoiled for choice.

We could go to the downtown childcare where his cousin currently goes. Then the local down-the-street daycare called. Then what had been our first 100% grain fed soy hemp solar powered wind generated organic gardening choice called. And suddenly we were spoiled for choice.

We ended up going with the closest to home choice, because it's ridiculously close to home, which means it's equidistant from both our works and it's ridiculously close to my parents' house. And it's conveniently the cheapest--by which I mean, least expensive--choice. By a lot. It's almost half the cost of the corporate child kennel we had originally reserved a spot with. As a friend said, our daycare costs have gone from the cost of a mortgage down to the cost of a pretty cheap apartment. And that's awesome.

I still have some residual guilt at not going with the inquiry-based soothing-sounds quinoa-serving granola-fed hippie kingdom, but as certain awesome people said, "For the $370-a-month price difference, that's a lot of lentils." What is more important is that when I went into the infant room, the ladies there have always been holding the babies. They use cloth diapers (and even better, don't send them home with me: they launder). They take walks. And they hold my baby.

So yeah, we got in there, and we're paying for the whole month of August even though I only work one week of it. I had to bring in diaper covers and a sheet and his immunization records and what-all. And I dropped him off for a few hours on Friday and that went well and I didn't cry as I drove away or anything. More than anything it just felt weird to not have my day's (or in that case, my hours') plans totally controlled by wheter this two-foot-long being was awake or asleep or hungry or in a good mood.

So, yeah, daycare. He's going. We're going to try a full day today. We'll see how he does. We'll see how I do.

Maybe I'll use it to nap.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Originally uploaded by karijean
This weekend has been filled with Andrew's family, descending upon us like a plague of... like a wonderful joyful rain of bunnies, I mean.

And if anyone asks, yes, four adults and a first-grader are a lot to host, yes. And it also totally changes your cooking style.

So in honor of this event, I'd like to give my guide to Being a Good Houseguest:
1. Always thank whomever prepared your meal. Profusely. Yes, even if a microwave was involved.
2. If you didn't cook the meal, then by god, you clean. Even if you have a penis.
3. Playing couch commando with the remote control is kind of sucky. Not everyone wants to listen to the farm report every morning. And please turn off the TV during meals? Thanks.
4. Please make some plans that you can do without your hosts. This is not rude--this is, in fact, wonderful. Even if it's just going for a walk. It would be great to feel at home in my house for even an hour.
5. Please offer to provide one meal while you're here. Cook it, get it delivered, take us out to a restaurant, what-the-fuck-ever.

What do you think of the rules I've outlined? Am I missing anything? What else do you think should be a good rule for a multi-day guest? Consider that we've provided comfortable beds, sheets, towels, food, and cars.

This has been an exhausting weekend.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Three months

Dear Howie,

So, how does this happen? How are you all of a sudden three months old?
Who's a big boy?

It's kind of like I turned around and out of nowhere, now all you want is to talk to everyone, very intensely.

I'm trying not to think about it, but our little haven of spending every day together is quickly coming to a close. We've already got your daycare lined up, and the ladies there are extra super duper nice, so feel free to tell them all your secrets. I'll still pick you up every day, though, so we'll still get in our conversations.

That breastfeeding thing is going gangbusters now--thanks for hanging in there with me and working it out. And it's clearly doing your body good, because you are huge. You are the hugiest of huge 3 month olds. Not in a bad way--you're just... long. You are longer than your friend Henry, who's two months older. I think you're longer than your cousin Eleanor, who's six months older. Of course, both of them have the chub on you, but you're working on that too. But your Aunt Gail was holding you and she started laughing. "I don't know what to do with all of this baby!" she said, cradling your torso and looking at your legs, dangling out in space. We probably could have taken you and wrapped you completely around her. Now, she's a tiny person, but still. You're really really long, that's what I'm saying. And you're filling out, too.

You still look like an old man when you cry, though.

And you look like a little boy when you stand. Given, you are being held while you stand most times, but you are definitely holding the weight on your teeny little feet. You're so much less baby, then, so much more boy. I'm excited to see what kind of little boy you'll be (will you be as active as Grandma thinks? or will you be more of an observer, a thinker, who waits to join in?) and certain stages (sitting up on your own--that'd be fanTAStic) but can you not hurry up too much?


That'd be great. Thanks.

Love, your mama.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Today I:

  • Donated clothes to The Arc. Seriously. Andrew filled the trunk of the RAV last night, I dropped it all of this morning. Tons. Of. Clothes. I feel lighter. If only that meant I felt skinnier.
    Howie with the elephants
  • Went to the zoo. Met up with four women from school who had also given birth this past year. We had a six month old, a four-and-a-half month old, a three-and-a-half month old, and Howie. Howie was very excited for his first trip (and my first trip!) to the Oregon Zoo. I was totally impressed with the zoo, by the way. Including the behind-the-scenes stories that one of the women was able to share. Like when the zookeeper forgot to close the rhino's enclosure. Twice. As we discussed, wouldn't that be the primary job of a zookeeper? The actually keeping part of it?
  • Went to my parents' house. And maybe, perhaps, played a little DDR.
  • Took Howie to my grandmother's home. Mmmph. Not the best day. She's been doing so well lately, I'd forgotten how bad the bad days could be. "Where's my Howard?" she asked. Mom and I locked eyes over Grandma's head. "Dad's gone, Mom," my mom said, gently. "OOohhh," my grandmother said weakly. "When?" "Almost a year ago." "Oooohhhh!" Five minutes later, "Where's my Howard, is he back in our room?" Oof. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Fortunately, Howie--my Howie--started being a bit of a fussbudget soon after and I just had to leave. Am I going to hell for thinking Thank Goodness?
  • Acted as official photographer for two friends who are planning to start their online dating profiles. We got some good shit. I feel all awesome about it.
  • Updated my blog without waiting two weeks since my last entry. Go me!

I'm tired and am going to bed now.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


When my parents decided to move here (oh, about day eight of visiting their new grandson, when they bought a house) it hit them: they'd have to find a home for my grandmother.

When my grandfather passed away in September, we found out how bad things really were. I think Grampa covered for her a lot, when she couldn't remember. And his presence probably comforted her, too. Smoothed out the rough edges of what she didn't understand. And he was the most patient of men.

Then we (by which I mean, my parents--I was safely ensconced back in Portland by then) moved Grandma into a senior home and really found out how bad things were. It started with the hourly calls to my parents' house ("something's wrong with this hotel!"), the panicky searches for cash ("where's my spending money?"), the near-escapes ("I need to get back to Duluth."). It ended with her decking an attendant.

All ninety-eight pounds of her ninety-two year old self, decking an attendant because he wouldn't let her run out in the middle of a Michigan winter.

We had to face it--what we had taken for dottiness, for gentility, was actually Grandma losing the ability to remember things. She was moved to the Reminiscences wing as soon as there was an opening. Which is a very genteel way of saying, someone else died so we took their room.

So Mom and Dad decided to move to Portland, and more on the "sooner" timeline rather than the "later" one--where could Grandma go? And more importantly, where could Grandma go quickly? Grandma staying in the house with them was difficult. She'd wake up in the middle of the night, panicky, lost, confused, agitated. Where could we get her to stay so that she could stay there the first night?

I did the shopping, and got a whole new perspective on elder care. It's actually a lot like daycare. There's differing philosophies on how to provide said care, but when it comes right down to it: you walk in a place and can picture your loved one there, you can picture a visit there.

I went to four different homes, calling my mom after each visit to update her on what I saw. They were fine, really--Grandma would have been fed, been cared for, seen a doctor, gotten her meds at each one, but some didn't feel right. One felt like everyone there was so much worse than Grandma, it'd bring her down to their level. One felt like a hotel: generic art on the walls, and a long, endless hallway of just rooms. It was the last one that struck that cord in me, that set that thrum. Organized into "cottages" in a cohort idea, so that everyone in each cottage is at roughly the same level of ability, a dozen rooms organized around a comfy, cosy, common space.

"That's it," I called mom to say. "It's the furthest away from home, but that's the one."

It's been, what, two months now? I go to visit grandma, I try to make it once a week, I make it about once every two weeks. I bring the baby--which, let me tell you, bring a baby to a retirement home? You are the most popular person there that day, let me tell you. Sometimes too popular. But she loves it. "Is that so?" my grandmother asks as Howie coos at her. "I don't believe a word of it!" she replies with a smile.

It's tough, because she asks his name every time we come. "Howie," I say. "Oh! That was my husband's name!" she'll tell onlookers. "He would have been so happy."

I always agree with her.

But even better, the other day she said to my mom, "I think I could like it here." Those are words we haven't heard out of her mouth in... ever.

I think this move will be good for her.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Originally uploaded by karijean
Being a mom is SO much better than being pregnant.

Heh. I just said "being a mom." I'm a mom.

Our days aren't very exciting, and when I step outside myself I worry a little about that. I don't want to be someone who only talks about her baby, but really, that's my day.

But like I said, it's only when I step outside myself. Most days? I'm delighted that my mornings usually consist of napping with a tinylong baby sleeping on my chest. As a friend said--it won't last forever, just enjoy it while it's happening. And I do. My flickr account has become filled with pictures of babies. Mostly of baby. I mean, wouldn't yours? Look at him! Plus, our afternoons are occasionally slow and so I start taking pictures. I love it.

Mostly. I mean, it's not like this kid poops unicorns and butterflies. Reality check. There's the whining and some days I do want to do things and scheduling around an infant is challenging at best, and frustrating and crazy-making at worst.

Before a child, leaving for, say, a party was: grab keys, go. The only things you had to check were: cell phone? check. Underwear not showing? check. Sometimes you'd leave off the 2nd one.

Now it's: Cell phone? check. Charged? check. Diaper bag? check. Diaper bag stocked with diapers, wipes, and change of clothes in case of poop explosion? check. Carrier and/or stroller? check. Was he fed and/or do we have plans for when he needs to eat?


But we do it. I'm proud of what we do, where we go. We've been to visit my grandmother about four times since she's gotten here. Go to Target. That's a full afternoon plan. Whoo-hoo! And I've spent a lot of afternoons at my parents' new house. I'm proud we get out of the house. I don't aim big, but I hit what I aim at.

The summer is half over, and this has been the slowest, most mildly paced summer I've ever had, and yet I've gotten to the halfway point faster than I ever thought possible. I'm doing my best not to think about August and the return to responsibility.

That has to be the best part of this all--I am only responsible for our little world right now, the three of us. It's a vacation--a mental one. (Given our finances--that's the only kind of vacation we'll be able to afford. For a very long time. Hello, mental beaches! Hey, virtual ski slopes!) In five weeks, we get to learn a new balancing act, which should be interesting.

Until then--I may try to start instituting walks into my day. I have big plans. Huge. And as long as I stay in th emoment--I'm feeling great about it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Not the best-thought-out-plan ever.

Went to Gartner's today. Today, the day before the Fourth of July, the King of All Grilling Holidays.

Maybe the folks hanging out outside should have been my first clue.

Inside, I took my number: 14.

Then I hear, "Now helping 45. Last call for 45."

And they don't count down.

It only took about an hour and a half to pick up some pork and beef products.

Then I picked up my brother, sister-in-law, and their cutie-pie baby to go to Costco. On the day before the Fourth of July, the King of All Picknicking Holidays.

I'm a slow fucking learner, folks.

Monday, June 30, 2008

What I learned from my June paystub.

The cost of health insurance for Howie each moth: $480
The cost of health insurance for Howie for April, even though he was only alive for 1.8 days of it: $480.
The cost of eight days of maternity leave that were apparently beyond my sick days: $1,900
The joy of getting hit with all of these on one paycheck: priceless.

Hello, Top Ramen! I've missed you! And Coors Lite--suddenly you look like my kind of bevvy!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

And baby makes three.

Eleanor 3
Originally uploaded by karijean
They are all here now. All the grandbabies. So, welcome, Eleanor--last, but certainly not least, to arrive.

Your cuteness kind of makes my teeth ache. Also--could you please smile?

Two months.

Rock 'n' roll sneer
Originally uploaded by karijean
Dear Howie,

Okay, this is exhibit A for either "I was cool before I knew it" or "Why my parents need to pay for my therapy", depending on you, I suppose. I don't know what you're going to want to be, see, do and listen to when you grow up. And that mystery is all the fun, isn't it?

What I do know about you is this: we honestly like you. Okay, when it comes right down to it, we love you with a fierceness that amazes me. But we also like you. You smile with your whole body. You like to watch everyone around you and sometimes things just tickle your funny bone.

You smile in your sleep, too. Sometimes you even giggle. I'd give several of my teeth to know what in your subconscious tickles you to such an extent that you giggle. You barely have a conscious--what could be sub it? Whatever it is, it's clearly awesome. And hilarious.

You're still the longest stretched-out baby I've ever met. You're in the 97th percentile for height. We've had a talk about those last two percent--but don't sweat it. You'll be what you'll be, and any height is fine, but don't be surprised that everyone who holds you is equally surprised that your legs just. Keep. Going. You've already grown out of the 0-3 months just based on your length--which is fine, because we have a much cuter variety of 3-6 month clothes.

As evidenced above.

Keep on doing your thing, Stretch. We love it.

Also: I love the chin. I apologize for occasionally nibbling. But seriously, kiddo. Irresistable. I should know, I've tried.

Love, your mama.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

For your enjoyment

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor

Suddenly, I feel rhythmless and talentless.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Originally uploaded by karijean
Some days are just... perfect.

You wake up and are done sleeping. Your son is done eating a half hour before you need to go--enough time to still get ready, but close enough that you'll be able to enjoy brunch without worrying about when he'll need to eat.

You go for a walk with some of your absolutely favoritest people in the world.

The walk is not too long, not too short. There's no need to walk fast. A perfect place appears to stop for cold drinks, and you do. And then you go home.

You get stuff done, stuff that has been itching at you like a mosquito bite under a bra strap. Your kitchen is clean. Your bed is made. You know where to find your camera charger.

The other things that induce stress are distant enough that they are worries for another day. Not today.

You make a dinner that is tasty, and you don't have to do the dishes. There are even leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

The wine you enjoy as the day ends just matches the sunset. Your legs are the good tired that says, I used them but doesn't say, We quit.

Some days are just perfect.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Both of us...

Originally uploaded by karijean
...are doing much better now. Yay modern medicine!

So, a short excerpt of a conversation.

"It's so cool. You were a baby store before, and now you're like a convenience store."

"Um. What?"

"You know, like, before you, y'know, made babies. Now you're where the baby goes to get food."

"I'm a convenience store."

"Did I say that? I didn't say that."

Monday, June 16, 2008

My sister loves me

and she knows me pretty well too, because she sent me the link to this:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pity party

The first really nice weekend--seriously, storybook gorgeous, slight breeze, no clouds--and I'm running a fever. At last measure (about 45 minutes ago) my temperature is up to 102.2. My whole body aches like it's been used for batting practice. Muscles I haven't used in a year hurt like I had an intense workout. My toes ache.

This is how I feel
Originally uploaded by karijean

Yay, mastitis!

So basically not only am I homebound, alternately sweating or shaking with chills (I asked Andrew to turn the temperature up, he said it's 73), but my boob hurts like the alien is going to pop out of that insteaed of my stomach. And guess which boob it is? That's right, the one that didn't hurt!

This breastfeeding thing really chaps my ass. The politics of it (SIX MONTHS! you MUST GO SIX MONTHS!) and the looks you get when you use a bottle (so much that I feel compelled to mutter about pumping while giving it to him in public) to you should be ashamed if you DO nurse in public, and you should be ashamed if you DON'T nurse in public (I am of the latter, mostly because it's a very messy affair, what with the spraying and all). Why do we, women and mothers, do this to ourselves? Why are we so judgy, without knowing all the details? So much so that I am breastfeeding in electric-shock pain, and I still feel guilty about thinking of quitting. I have this mammoth supply that other mothers would kill for, I tell myself, don't let it go to waste.

So instead, I dread the feedings. Bonding? Ha. Aside from when he curls up on my chest as I burp him, I can't say I feel particularly bondful while breastfeeding. Probably because I am gritting my teeth until the pain recedes.

Feeding had just started getting better before this happens, so this is probably the fever talking. I'll get through this course of antibiotics (yay, emergency room on a weekend!) and reevaluate. But today? Today has just sucked.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Originally uploaded by karijean
We went on a walk tonight. I wanted to experiment with taking pictures of something other than le bebe.

Ah, what fodder I can find.

When they say "transitional neighborhood" this is what they mean.

Monday, June 09, 2008

I know I've given up when...

...I meet the painter at the kitchen door, wet spots down the front of my shirt absolutely impossible to hide. And I don't care.

It's freeing, really.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Taking em where I can get em

I was working on a long rant rant rant about breastfeeding (hey, there's a new idea!) but frankly, it IS getting better, so it's more a rant in retrospective a.k.a. "Why did no one warn me it'd hurt like a roach clip on my nipples?" (don't worry mom, I don't ACTUALLY know what a roach clip is... ahem) But again, it's hurting less like a roach clip and more like, oh, a mild electrode.

We take the small victories.

What is being home alone with a small baby like? That sums it up in a nutshell: we take the small victories. I try to make myself acheive one small thing a day. Yesterday I put frosted film on the window in the shower. That took the entirety of Howie's afternoon nap, and then it was time to feed and then it was time to recover and then Andrew was home and they day was done.

Lee pointed out that it's not actually necessary that things get done while Howie's LESS THAN SIX WEEKS OLD, CRAZY WOMAN! (I think she put it more politely) But on Monday Andrew got home from work and asked how my day was and I looked at him and realized not only had I not put on clothes but I hadn't left the recliner since noon except to pee--or change Howie's diaper, which, if I could have done without leaving the recliner, I would have. I mildly hated myself.

So now I try to set myself one thing to do. Just one. Frost the window in shower--great. Cut back the vines on the front porch--awesome. Last week, I replaced the seventies knobs in the built-in cabinets with cheapie ones from IKEA.

It's still tough. Maybe because Howie hasn't been interactive. He'd cry when he needed to eat or was sitting in shit (and really, wouldn't you?) but that was about it for his communication. Other than that, he'd sleep on my chest and although that is awesome all on its own, it's also really lonely.

This week, though, we turned a corner. He smiled. He smiled when he meant to. He smiled because he wanted to. He smiled because something made him smile. And he made sounds that were something other than cries or pre-cries--happy sounds, contented sounds, sounds that were about something other than food or poop.

This is no small victory. Making it this far is like winning the marathon. I can do this!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

That other project

Originally uploaded by karijean
Remember that OTHER project we were working on? I know, the peanut is slightly distracting, but if you recall, I in a fit of NESTING TIMES A MILLION decided it was SUPER SMART to gut one's kitchen six weeks before one gives birth?

Shocking absolutely no one, the project--which was SUPPOSED to be done before Howie entered this world--ran over. By like three weeks. So here I am, home with a newborn, and workers are all, "Mind if I come in and sand drywall?" To which my answer was "BYEEEE!" as I escaped out the back.

But, as Jon Stewart says, not only must all good things end, but so must those that are shitty and tedious. And the results? ARE HOTT. THERE ARE TWO T's, THAT'S HOW HOT THEY ARE.

Want to see the destruction to completion? There's a slideshow of views from the mudroom, and another slideshow of views from the dining room. Or you could just look at all of the pictures of the kitchen.

For the curious: all surfaces (except the floor) are courtesy of IKEA. All appliances are from Sears. We go big around these parts.