Friday, February 26, 2010

Amy's stinky, not so very good day

I like to think of myself as a fairly optimistic, keep-your-head-up kind of person, but today was such an icky, stinky, yucky day. I'm convinced that it would test the willpower of anyone.

Abby helped me make cookies this morning. At 8 am. I'm all about making cookies, even in the sun-bathed winter dawn glow, especially if I've already been up for 2 hours and have gotten over my early morning fuzziness. Abby was much help, pulling herself up on my pants, crawling under my feet, demanding to be held, reaching, groping, grasping my 1 c of packed brown sugar and 2 t of baking powder. I claim that you're not a mother until you can rock your kitchen skills with a child on your hip, which means baking with the equivalent of one hand tied behind your back. This was not an altogether unusual or bad part of my day, but in hindsight, it wasn't a bit of a cherry on top of my mountain of woe that was the rest of my day.

After the cookies baked and cooled, and after I proved that they were totally yummy, the terrific twosome that is Mommy and Abby packed up and drove north my friend, north north to the land of Elkhart County. Goshen, IN was our destination come what may to visit a fab friend from college and her super adorable newborn girl. And in fact, what came was drifting snow. Sneaky drifting snow nonetheless!! As in, it seems not problematic. But oh yes oh yes, drifting snow is not something to be taken lightly. What driver who has lived their whole life in IN, or any state that has a general proclivity for snow for that matter, is ever worried or frankly thinks twice about a couple of small patches of random drifting? No one! Not me. I won't cave in to the wrath of the snow gods. I shake my gloved fist at you with defiance!

Alas, the snow gods bet me and bit me good. Thinking back, I still don't really know what happened. I do know that I was definitely not driving what I consider to be fast. I do know that I was aware of the drifting patches. I do know that I had to time to think "Oh no, oh no, oh no..." before sliding off of the road, through a ditch, and then through a fence. Oh no? Oh yes.

Good news: Abby and I are fine, the snow was actually quite cushioning. We didn't flip, which I fleetingly thought that we might. There were no other cars around me on the road, as we were definitely all over both lanes. My car is still drivable. There's enough damage that it's feasible that it will be totalled out by our insurance co. and we can maybe, perhaps upgrade to something that gets more than 10-14 mpg. My car is a bit of a can totally take on a fence and snap a wooden post with little more than a bump.

Bad news: We just spent $900 on fixing this car a week ago. (Lest you forget, we have also dropped about $700 in Dec./Jan. on the truck.) I managed to break both side mirrors, both headlights, the bumper, the left flood light, the antenna, and some bracket on the underside of the carriage as well as scratching the hood up in the course of about 5 seconds. I totally demolished some guy's fence. I was prominently featured in a police report by the Elkhart Co. sheriff's department today.

And then the lunch I made wasn't that good. And then I find that my maternity leave sub allowed my students to trash my room today (a "going away" party apparently as I'm returning to work on Monday). But that's another post. I'm still pretty miffed about a lot of things that have happened in my absence.

But, regardless of the stinky, not so very good day, I was able to hold THE most adorable 12-day old baby girl that I have ever been around. And I biasedly thought Abby was supremo in this category. Welcome baby Emma. I'm so glad that I was able to meet you today.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Lenten challenge, a few days late

It's hard. It's really hard to hold one non-organic bell pepper that is on sale for $1.00 in your hand and one organic bell pepper that is at least $3.99/lb. in your other hand and then choose the more expensive one. And then move on to the organic zucchini and do the same thing. And the organic eggs. And the organic milk. Okay, I mentally cry when I consider buying organic milk still.

Ben and I drink 1% milk. My handy dandy local grocery store doesn't carry organic 1% milk in the gallon sized jugs. It does, however, carry organic 1% milk in 1/2 gallon size cartons. When each 1/2 gallon of 1% costs $3.49, I whipped out my trusty math skills and determined that I would be spending $7.00/gallon on milk. Just for Ben and me. And, we go through around a gallon a week. If I don't use it in superfluous recipes like homemade mac-n-cheese, which requires a couple of cups of the milky goodness per batch. Who is insane enough to consider this when a gallon of non-organic 1% milk is *only* $2.29 when it's not on sale, which it is frequently. Hmm...$7.00 versus $2.00. Really. This is the unkindest cut of them all. (That was my attempt at quoting Shakespeare. I'm horrible at memorizing. Humor me that I butchered it somewhat correctly.) But I should also add that if we switch to either skim milk or 2%, then we can buy the organic milk by the gallon at the more *affordable* price of $5.49/gallon. Is it worth it???

And I'm kinda proud of how much organic goodness we have incorporated into our weekly grocery trips. Really me, not we. Ben doesn't go anymore. Someone has to stay home with the child. People get kind of uptight when they find out that you went traipsing off to the grocery store and left your 9-month old at home alone. Go figure. (Sidenote...I've only ever considered leaving Abby home alone for a few minutes one time, and that was just a passing thought; never would I actually do it. Just saying.)

And here's my challenge. We are currently participating in the season of Lent, a time that is traditionally one of introspection and abnegation. I volunteered to put together a low carbon diet for my church, which was really nothing more than me going to the internet and pulling 40 earth-friendly, energy-saving ideas and putting them in a list. But still. How many of us consider giving up chocolate or alcohol or gum or chocolate or candy or chocolate (or me, exercising) for Lent? So many people give up FOOD in some form or fashion. Why not consider a uniquer FOOD diet for this season? Give up meat entirely for one day once a week. Challenge yourself in the grocery store to explore organic or natural options that you have never considered before. Explore ways that you can hug the planet by supporting organic products that don't pollute our ecosystem with harsh chemicals that affect not only the crop upon which they are dumped but also the soil and our waterways? If anyone is interested, I can easily email the list that I came up with. I'm not saying that it's anything special, but easy enough ideas that maybe, just maybe, you've never thought of before. Yes, I just ended a sentence with a preposition. Tough shnookies.

Personally, I've never gotten that into "giving up" something just because all the cool kids at church do it. But, I've kinda stumbled my way into something that works for me, a bit out of the box, a bit unorthodox, but also a lot bit in keeping with a new frame of mind that I'm learning to develop. It's not that I'll ever be excited about forgoing the ease of my absorbent and totally disposable paper towels in favor of some cut up rags, but I can't really use my Bountys anymore without feeling a twinge of guilt. Is that a good reason to make a change? I don't know. Maybe. I have some guilt for a reason. I don't necessarily think that it's a responsible choice for myself if I know that I have guilt about taking the easy way out while making no attempts to do what is not "right" but certainly more friendly.

I love my planet. I love that it loves me and gives me wonderful things to eat and gorgeous places to see. I love that it lets me live here. I think that I should be nice to it.

N.B. If anyone is interested, I highly recommend the movie "Food, Inc." not because it will scare you into submission, but because it makes you think. Am I purchasing what I do because it is what I've always purchased or because it is what I feel best about purchasing?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More of the same

In my haste to post yesterday, I somehow forgot a couple of key dream jobs.

First, I think that I could totally work as a nurse in the maternity wing of a hospital. I think that I would love it.

Second, I could absolutely be a lactation consultant, or some sort of nurse-y person who gets to talk with and help out new moms all day every day. So much positive energy! So much inclusion and good vibes!

But, too much schooling required when I've already sunk three (with a half yet to go) years into another educational luxury. Maybe when I'm 40.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Someday when I grow up, I want to be...

I have a whole list of things that I want to be someday, you know, when I grow up. In fact, back in high school, when everyone kept asking me the million dollar question, I was convinced that I wanted to be a nutritionist or a dietician. But, I was even more convinced that I was going to go to Manchester College. Basically, those two convictions didn't match up. MC definitely doesn't offer anything along the lines of nutrition/dietetics. MC won, and none the worse off was I. I went with what is probably my more natural love--English. As I look back on some pretty serious choices that I've made, career-wise, I scoff at my ability to make these decisions. Why did I want to be a nutritionist/dietician? Because I like food. Why did I want to go into English? Because I had an awesome English teacher who made me think that I knew something about the subject. (By way way, contrary to what is perhaps popular myth...just because you like English doesn't mean that you're a) good at grammar or b) that you ever learned grammar or c) that you even now know the rules of grammar.) Decision made. MC bound I was with a determination to learn more English. Reading books is how I like to spend my homework time. Studying and memorizing facts is not.

I definitely was NOT going to teach when I crossed the portal of my first English class at Manchester. No way. My mom was a teacher and people assume that I would thus want to also be a teacher and really what else do English people do but teach and seriously, aren't you also going to be a teacher??? NO. Pressure from the parentals perhaps helped changed my thinking there. Sophomore year found me shadowing real, honest to goodness, living, breathing English teachers in surrounding schools, hating every second of the time I had to sit at the back of the classroom and watch someone else teach. Nevertheless, I felt okay about my decision. Really, it was something of a part-time job in my mind until I got to do what I really wanted to do. WHAT DO I REALLY WANT TO DO?

My when-I-grow-up-someday-this-is-what-I-want-to-do list currently includes:
1. barista...good news, I may have a chance to actually do this over the summer
2. nutritionist...I still am somewhat interested in this for one of my other personalities
3. pastry chef
4. owner of a baseball bar, especially one that doesn't cater to Cubs or Yankees fans
5. bed & breakfast proprietor
6. owner of a coffee shop/bakery/bookstore
7. various positions in academia
8. director of the study abroad program at current dreamiest dream job
9. editor

In the meantime, I'm trying to get ready to return to my classroom since May 22nd, 2009. It's been a while. I feel rusty. I'll essentially be a sub in my own class. And, I've never had ANY of these kids, which is really something of an oddity for this point in my career. How does one prepare for this? In thinking about how I'm going to handle my job with my daughter, I've kinda realized that I have another dream job that I never never never knew I wanted to do until relatively recently.

My ultimate dream job? Stay at home mom. With some sort of freelance something thrown in for good measure.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I know that I'll miss this someday, but not right now.

4:07--First wake-up call. Baby wake up sounds, including a variety of squeals, grunts, and moan-ish/grumbly sounds.
4:10--Sneak into Abby's room in hopes that she isn't really awake and my presence won't subsequently wake her up. Alas. She's already standing up watching and waiting expectantly. Sigh.
4:11-4:28--Change diaper. It's really full. Try to soothe child back into a somnolent state conducive to sleeping.
4:29--Leave room. Shut door firmly. Vow to not re-enter unless child is inconsolable.
4:29--Immediately re-enter room. Turn on music. Cross fingers that this works.
4:30--Ease back into bed. It's now cold. Become even more awake. Try to wedge legs back into position around cat. Cat halfheartedly blinks and goes back to her wheezy slumber.
4:30 through 5:00--Turn down monitor so that lullaby music does not blare into my room. Lay there thinking "Is the monitor turned up enough so that I can hear Abby if she cries?" Alternate between fiddling with monitor, hoping that baby makes noise so that you know you can hear her, and hoping that baby does not make noise so that you know she went back to sleep whereupon you can go back to sleep. Conundrum.
5:00--Glare at the clock. Know that it's only 1/2 an hour until the alarm goes off. Wonder why you bother.
5:03--Notice that the child has not made noise for a few minutes. Hold your breath for a moment. Then realize that you need to go to sleep. Now. While you have the chance.
5:04--Desperately wish for the furnace to turn on. Desperately hope for any hum that will drown out the sound of husband's breathing. Sigh. Tear up. Sigh again. You know that you can't request husband to not breath, but at the same desperately want to go back to sleep. Furnace starts. You realize that you only have 6 minutes to fall asleep. Effort begins in earnest.
5:30--Alarm goes off. You did, indeed, fall back asleep. What a lovely 25 minutes that was.
5:35--Husband sluggishly rolls out of bed while grating sounds of the alarm clock continue to wake you up more and more. Sigh again.
5:36--Roll over. You can finally sleep on your left side since heavy-breather is no longer there.
5:37--Hum of the shower. Lulls you back to sleep. Bliss.
5:49--Clothes are thrown willy nilly on your feet. Husband is oblivious.
6:00--Wake up call. Go away. 6:30 is fine. Want to turn over onto right side, but refuse to on the grounds that you haven't been able to sleep on left side all night and now is your only chance.
6:30--Wake up call. Fine.

This has been my basic schedule since Feb. 2nd. Teeth, please pop through so that little bean stops waking up at 4 am and I can sleep like a normal person again. Please.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow days!

Tuesday was a snow day! And it was a glorious snow, too. Perfect opportunity to take Abby out to learn how to make snowballs and how to throw snowballs for the first time. So we did. Here's how it went down.

First, we had to put on our layers. This was somewhat confusing.

Next, Mommy and Abby tried to do easy things like eat snow. Baby steps to become acclimated. This was received favorably, for a while.

Next, we tried something a bit more challenging--sitting in the snow.

This was not well liked. Abby cried. (Mommy & Daddy giggled, just a little.)

And, seriously, we had to try snow angels. This was also a cause for much weeping. Mommy & Daddy giggled again.

Mommy tries to show Abby that snow is not all bad. Abby didn't believe Mommy.

Abby didn't much believe Daddy, either, but was at least accepting of her fate.

But then Daddy made the mistake of plunking Abby in the snow again. More weeping.

More consoling. Next time, we don't try such monumental adventures right before nap time when our tummy is hungry.

"When snow falls, nature listens." Antoinette van Kleeff

Friday, February 5, 2010


I haven't felt like I've had much to relay lately, so here's a quick run-down of some funny (or not so much) anecdotes of the past couple of weeks. Or, at least ones that I can remember.

DISCLAIMER: I love using incomplete sentences for emphasis (see previous sentence), but when I do, I often feel like I have to also give a disclaimer that yes, I now it's incomplete. I'm really not that lousy at grammar. There you go, a general disclaimer for my whole blog.

I'm currently and frantically working my way through my 2nd baby blanket in a set of two for a friend who is having twins. I wouldn't be quite so frantically working on it if I had been able to decide if I was going to actually do it. She's a high school friend of Ben's, so I feel like my involvement in her babies' births might be a bit...hmmm...stalkerish. But we're friends, too. But I also know that we had lots of lovely people who just randomly gave us little gifts before and after Abby was born, people who I didn't know except by name, and they were always appreciated. And then I thought that she's having twins for goodness sake. She needs love and support. So I shall try to do so in my own little way without appearing to be stalkerish. This is really something of a worry with me frequently.

It's funny how clothing becomes so disposable when faced with a poopy, naked baby who just peed on her changing table (twice) while trying to clean up the first mess by removing the diaper. That was fun.

I can't figure out how to close Abby's new stroller. She's graduated out of the original infant car seat that is fantastic because you just clip her in and out of the car but oh so heavy once she packs on 10 pounds. So I now have a fully unfolded Trevi stroller in the back of my Mountaineer. I blessed my little old bug of a car yesterday when I realized that I could just pop it in the back unfolded rather than trying to wrestle it closed in the middle of the parking lot in order to wedge it into the Honda.

Ben decided (I agreed, this isn't exactly a dictatorship) that we need to sell the truck after all. 2 tows and about $700 later, it's sell-able. Which means that Ben is driving my car. And, I adamantly will continue to call it my car until it's the only vehicle that Ben has to drive. I realize that possession is very much an issue for me.

I'ts really hard for me to lose weight. I'm rather stuck about 10 lb. heavier than my pre-Abby body maintained, and no matter how many grapefruit and pears I eat, it doesn't really seem to get any better. Sigh.

I have, however, also discovered the joys of quinoa and couscous. Yum. Granted, this hasn't been a discovery since the last time I posted anything.

I'm so ready to be done with my Masters. It bites a bit. I look forward to the day when I can again choose my own reading. And trust you me, it won't be a modernist biography/memoir like "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" (by Gertrude Stein...ironic) or "Being Geniuses Together" (by Robert McAlmon and Kay Boyle...incidentally, I prefer Kay Boyle's portions much more than Robert McAlmon's).

Speaking of biting...will Abby's top teeth ever come in? She's been a champ enduring it all for the entire week. And, we're so ready to be done with it. Come on already!

I'm going back to work in 3 1/2 weeks now. Sigh. There are benefits--many fewer diaper changes (unless I hit a snag with some freshman; crossing my fingers on that one). But then again, I'd much rather change Abby's diapers if that mean that I could stay home with her every day. Someone figure out how I can be paid to watch my own daughter.

I'm going dress shopping for a bridesmaid dress with my sis-in-law and her maid of honor tomorrow. Sounds like jolly times. Please let the snow be a non-factor.

I plan on making a chocolate cream torte tonight to celebrate my mom-in-law's b-day and the aforementioned sis-in-law's b-day. I love tortes. They may be second only to cake in my opinion. And, some tortes are like cake, which is basically fantastic no matter how you slice it (ba da ching!).

Ben bought a laptop this week for himself. That means that we now have three computers (along with three vehicles). Excessive??? Good reasons for all. Hopefully, he'll be able to get rid of his old computer and we'll condense it down to a respectable his-and-hers set. I'm glad that he didn't decide to get the green one.

Ben got a laptop because he's going to be starting his own Masters degree this year. Maybe this summer. Sigh. Will this ongoing bettering-ourselves-through-education process never end? The light at the end of the tunnel: Ben is setting himself up to make two times as much money as he ever could as a teacher; Amy just thinks that $10,000 is a cheap price to read good books (the aforementioned two notwithstanding).

I love lattes, maybe my favorite beverage ever. And, if I so desired, I could purchase a ceramic mug that is made to resemble the disposable cups that you get at a coffee place so that you can enjoy an earth friendly cup of joe while looking like you just spent some serious cash at your local Starbucks. I settled for a 24-oz. mug with LATTE splashed all over it. It holds a lot of latte.

"Man does not live by coffee alone. Have a danish." --Anonymous (true words that I can live by and continue to gain weight by, for that matter)