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.