Tuesday, January 19, 2010


This is, alas, not a blog posting about Salvador Dali. Go to someone else's blog if you're pining to read about melting clocks and stark landscapes.

This is, however, a blog posting about how surreal my life is now. I certainly haven't done extensive poling on this topic, in fact, I have asked no one, but my hunch is that other newbie moms agree with me on my general feelings. So having a baby is pretty much just a surreal experience. There's the whole moment where you first come home from your hospital or birthing place of choice (or accident if you're the unlucky mom who gave birth in a car on the way to the hospital), and you hold you little one and look at him/her and think...um, what do I do now?

And then there's the moment where you're covered in baby slime of some variety and you're home alone and the only thing that you can think of doing is taking pictures to document the moment for your husband who is at work, which allows you to stay home.

But let us also not forget the first time that you roll your newly equipped family vehicle into some parking lot of some brick building somewhere and are suddenly immersed in a sea of other young mothers who are pulling car seats, squirming children, and all of that paraphernalia out of their family vehicles, mostly SUVs, for a mommy & baby group/play date, and you look around and think, "Well, I must be at the right place."

Seriously, I keep running into these moments where I mentally pause sheerly out of some surrealist understanding that yes, I have a baby and yes, that means that my world is different. Yes, you hear this all of the time when you're uber prego and people, mostly middle aged women, look at you with some devilish look in their glinting eyes, and smirk "Your life is going to be sooooo different." As if I didn't know that. I confess wholeheartedly here that I have caught myself almost uttering the same cliche phrase to other expectants before I stop and think, "Eww, I will not be like that."

But dang it, my life *is* different. And I knew that when pondering this whole caboodle of change, but still, really, I never much thought about the whole physical aspect of having a child. I thought about me and me only. It was fairly impossible for me to visual some little person inside of me, so I gave that up and was lovely-y surprised when she popped out and it turned out that she wasn't as ugly as I expected. Yay. But still, that was the farthest that my thought processes had really processed.

For example, I was standing in the kitchen today munching on/sharing a pear with my cuter-than-expected child, and I suddenly realized that someday I would have a four-year old. I have a picture of my four-year old niece on the fridge to prove that yes, indeed, they do grow up to be that age if all of the stars align properly. I'm expecting the stars to be in my favor on this one.

How surreal is that. I'm going to be in charge of a four-year old someday? I'm going to have this little walking, talking helper someday. For real? I stopped a moment in my pear munching and pondered this possibility. What will it be like? I don't know. I really can't figure this out. It's much like trying to figure out what she'd look like before she popped out and introduced herself, quite vocally, I might add.

My life has story time at the library and weekly weigh-in sessions now. I have a backpack that is always on stand-by, which I can almost always grab at a moments notice as I dash out the door and will guarantee that I will be prepared for many a situation. I have a stylishly new gray carseat that beckons every time I look in the rear view mirror now. I have essentially lost all driving privileges for my beloved Honda to Ben so that I can have the family car with me all day. I have learned who to ask for advice and where my sharing boundaries are. I have beat a path through the baby clothes clearance section at Target every time I am there. I have looked at other friends' baby wish lists when they are expecting and surveyed it with a critical eye, spotting things that look useful but are really just a waste of money. I have started hoarding clearance toys for next birthdays.

And perhaps most importantly, I have looked forward with eager anticipation to all milestones while shedding a silent tear for every step that has permanently passed in my child's life. I still don't know what it's going to be like with my favorite baby in the next few days, months, or years. But if I can base it on what has happened so far, then life will be richly blessed indeed.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

the age old English grad student question

What do I write my paper on? (Or, on what do I write my paper? depending on who you are talking with and how formal you feel like being.)

Seriously. This question single handedly re-opens the ulcers from the last semester that were just beginning to heal from the stresses that repeatedly recur over and over. About what should my paper be? Let's explore some options.

1. Gender. A lovely topic. In fact, so lovely that I write about this in some fashion basically every semester, for every class. I'm not a doctoral student who has been lurking on campus for upwards of 5 or 6 years yet, but still, after 8 classes (this semester being my 9th), I'm ready for a change of pace. Which, really, is saying something. This is my bread and butter topic, one that I always feel comfortable exploring and one that I know that I sound like I know what I'm talking about.

2. Race. Really, I'm more over this topic than gender. I think that I was pretty much over this option before I started college. Undergrad even.

3. Patriarchy/patriarchal control. Cheater...this is a subtopic of gender.

4. Politics and economics. This one is a non-choice in my opinion. I cannot dig into capitalism and Marxism and totalitarianism with any feeling of security. In my younger and foolish(er) days, last semester that is, I thought "You know, I've been hanging around people who converse in this language (politics & economics) long enough. I should be able to use these terms as well." So I tried. And I failed. Nevermore (quote the Amy-raven).

And therein lies the list because really, everything else is just a sub-topic of #1, #2 or #4. And therein lies my problem. I only have option #1. What to do, what to do?

And just to make the honey pot of indecision a little stickier, this semester is focused heavily (heavily heavily) on poetry & Modernism, i.e. poetry in the Modern era. Oh snap...two of my least least least favorite genre/periods! Dare I say without a doubt my least favorite?

What to DO!?!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Is this where it starts to get expensive?

I just spent $220-something at Meijer this afternoon. Oh MY goodNess!! For the first four years of our marriage, I averaged somewhere around $60/week in groceries. For the past year, I've been averaging around $80 with several $100/week thrown in for good measure. These make me weep. $220-plus is making me weep, gnash my teeth, rend my clothing, and smear ashes on myself, and wear sackcloth. And, worse worse worse, I only spent $10 on one non-"grocery" item, or otherwise what I would term something that I would not normally buy in a typical grocery expedition. Why the expense?

ABBY. And my cats. And our desperate need for toilet paper. But mostly Abby.

I remember a few weeks after when my first niece was born, my brother made a comment that she wasn't too expensive yet. And I remember thinking, "Gee, maybe babies aren't as expensive as I thought." Oh not so. My brother's idea of expensive is vastly different than mine, I've discovered.

Abby is 7 months old now and a firmly established eater of solid foods. These little jars and containers of pureed goodies are surprisingly expensive. A week's worth of food for her adds up quickly, especially now that she's snacking (I call them poofies) on puffs and melts and yogurt and such.

Breastfeeding has not been easy and is virtually non-existent for us now. This has been a tremendous struggle for us for about 2 months now and has resulted in at least two meltdowns (for me) and hours of fruitless effort culminating in no results. But what this also means is that part of that uber-painful $220 today was $50 worth of formula. It's not just that I'd prefer to not have to use formula, but the cost just rubs salt in the wounds. I used to recycle these formula coupons willy-nilly back when I got them by the fistful in the first couple of months. I wish I had them now.

Another issue is that everything seems to be falling apart right now. Ben's truck (which still doesn't really work). Our light in the living room. The trash can. The nightlight. Granted, these aren't all super expensive, but seriously...uncle.

And, I decided to really make the effort to support organic efforts this year, call it a New Year's resolution if you will, by consciously buying organic whenever possible within reason. This came about after purposefully visiting an organic food market in Carmel on New Year's Eve. Over the past year, specifically, I've been conscious about organic more and definitely have been buying more veggies & fruit, which, I daresay, you can see in the increase in our average grocery bill. As as much as it pains me to pay so much for fresh produce, I've said it before and I'll continue saying it, I won't jeopardize eating healthier just because of cost. Even on a reduced income this year, we are still blessed to have two solid jobs and there's no reason why we can't afford fresh peppers, even if they are $3.99/lb. (Seriously...stupid.)

This has also come about a bit because when I started buying solid foods for Abby, I a) started experimenting with making my own (check our freezer if you don't believe me) and b) buying organic, which is definitely more expensive. By the way...Tyler Florence (super chef cutie) has his own line of organic, and truly interesting flavor combos, baby food with an adorable picture of him and his little guy on the back of the packaging. It's kind of like giving Abby food that a super cutie chef prepared just for her!

Sidenote: I'm determined to introduce different flavors and combinations to my little munchkin than the standard apples & bananas than Gerber provides. Experiments so far--mango & spinach: yum; avocado: icky. We're still working on the avocado. Actually, fresh banana wasn't all that great either, though she was in a mood when we tried that one.

So my resolution is already being a bit tested. We're spending SOOOO much money right now, it seems easy to say "We'll just do organic later..." but no! Not today! Buy organic I did and buy fresh I continue to do!! Now, I need to decide what's reasonable. Organic flour? Organic sugar? Organic cayenne pepper? We'll see. Right now, I'm pretty darn excited about snagging 7 lb. of organic popcorn (bulk) for $1.19/lb. That's totally worth it. And, now I don't have to buy anymore popcorn for Ben until....March. He eats it a lot.