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 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.