Category Archives: Parenting

Of What I Do Not Do Well: Big Tries to Move

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For the last four years, I’ve spent my days doing things that I like, that I have some level of aptitude. Graduate school, teaching and family meant I cut out all the extraneous details that can fill a day, things like driving and dealing with utility companies. I pay my bills online, and I found there are few places I can’t get by bike. The last four years have made me smile.

Enter the last two weeks. Circumstances filled every day with things I do not do well. We moved. I’m 22 weeks pregnant. My bike has a flat tire and my husband is too harassed to fix it. (Yes, I should learn to fix my own bike tires. Soon.) Moving meant my person was required at various utility companies and being put on hold with various internet providers. Normal people can probably get the lights on, the gas pumping and the water flowing in one try. I am not a normal person, nor am I good at details, like having the exactly right paper in my hand after waiting in line for forty-five minutes. The good clerks would patiently explain they had a system. I was not following the system. My eyes would well up because I am pregnant, prone to eye overflow, and perhaps, in slight hope, they would take pity on me. They did not, and I would drive my pitiful self back across town in search of the right paper (which was always a different paper). I would like to blame someone for this, but the truth is I have always and will probably always suck at the details of life (like driving, electricity and such). This is why I like camping.

In spite of my lack as a fully functioning adult, here I sit in my much larger house with electric, water, gas and a wireless signal. Tomorrow, I am promised a patched tire.

Changes

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I’ve been so busy the last couple of weeks that I put blogging on the back burner. Big didn’t let me forget about it though. My school semester has started and overall I am very excited about my classes. I’ll be doing my 2nd block of student observations which is very exciting because I’m one step closer to having my own classroom!

Before school this semester started, I was going to school full-time and working full-time. There was absolutely no way I was going to be able to do my 25 hours of student observations and work full-time. So I made the best decision for me and quit. It was very difficult because I enjoyed the people I worked with.

So far it is working out great. I have had so much more time to do things at home it unbelievable. The laundry is up, the floors cleaned and dishes put away. My kitchen only lacks the trim (pictures to come soon!) and the only reason that isn’t  done is because I can’t do it myself! I’ve done several crafty projects that  I can’t wait to put on here (if I would have remembered my camera card I would today – fail on my part), including wall art for the mudroom and Jodi’s room. I also made my own laundry detergent, despite the massive overflow out of the pot — it is awesome!

Another plus is I’ve been able to pick Jodi up form daycare so much earlier. I love, love, love her daycare, but I like to have her with me anytime I can.

Life is good and sometimes hard changes are the best kind.

Bugs, Reptiles and Salmonella

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There are bugs, which we catch, study, and with much cajoling, release.

“I’m going to miss BT (a beetle). I’m really going to miss him.”

Bug catching paraphenalia

And lizards that we feed, spray and handle.

“Do you think Miter and Scrubby love us?”

The Lizards

And a turtle for the garden and one boy’s endless fascination.

“I like him. I just really like him.”

And there’s the reading of books about said creatures for there is much to know about the life and times of beetles, spiders and  snakes. It is knowledge the boy soaks up and repeats with some false information, but all the right words. “Sam, what are you doing?” “I’m building an ecosystem.”

And there’s joy and constant plans for what’s next.

The reptiles carry salmonella, but they also carry his wonder and spark his unending curiosity. It is through them that he’s learned of Africa and South America, the Amazon, the Nile, places he now dreams of visiting. So, we wash our hands, put sanitizer next to the cage, and take our chances. To be a boy, a child, is to take those chances; to be a mom is to buy the sanitizer.

Morning

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I had plans to write a post entirely about Pinterest. Why? Because it’s awesome. Then, my morning happened. So Pinterest is for another day.

Background: My husband left for Louisiana yesterday to help his sister and her family (husband and two little ones) move. I was dead set on mudding and painting my kitchen while he was gone because he would be so impressed with everything I had done. I got all the mudding done and about three quarters of the painting done. Not bad when it’s just me and a 9 month old who is insistent on eating the mud. I literally washed her hands at least 10 times in a 2 hour period. Everything was going good. Jodi went to sleep at about 8, so I finished my painting for the night, took a shower, started a load of clothes and folded the ones in the dryer.

When I got in bed I couldn’t sleep because it was thundering, and I was a tad bit paranoid about being home alone. All the serial killers movies happen like this.

When I finally gave myself the “you are an adult stop being a baby” pep talk and fell asleep I slept really hard until Jodi woke up hungry at about 4 AM. When I woke up I realized the fan was off. My first thought was “great someone is in my house and they are turning my fans off.” Then, I realized it was really hot and the air conditioner was off too. My thought were then, “Awesome, they cut the electrical line and Jodi and I are done for.”

I seriously thought these things for a few moments. I’ve obviously watched too much Dateline.

When I finally made myself snap out of my half asleep induced horror movie plot I grabbed Jodi and a flashlight so I could flip the breaker. Our breaker always flips in the winter so naturally, I thought that must have been the problem. Nope. So I took the flashlight to make Jodi a bottle and had no water pressure, which means the electricity at the well is off too. I decided I would drive to my mother-in-laws, only about 1/2 mile, because she was home alone too and surely she’d have electricity. By this point, Jodi is mad because all she wants is a bottle not to be drug around the world at 4:15 AM.

On my way, I called the electric company and they informed me that all of my area was out because there was a problem with a substation, whatever that is, and someone was on their way to fix it that very moment (liars). I got to my mother-in-laws and there was no electricity there either, but she had enough water pressure to at least make my starving child a bottle. I made the bottle and headed back home. When I get there my front door was locked and guess what! I didn’t have the key. So at 4:30 AM I moved my husbands spur board, which is really freaking heavy, popped out the screen on the kitchen window and  crawled through. When we finally got inside I had about 45 minutes before I needed to get ready for work and Jodi was sweating to death because it’s 4:45 AM and already 85 degrees.

At 6:45 AM  when I left for work there was still no electricity.

At 10:20 AM, I’m not sure if I have electricity, but I am very conflicted on if I should start locking my windows or not.

Of Frogs and Polliwogs

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Our favorite creek sprang polliwogs in early summer, every summer. We could, but did not, count on it. We trusted in reliable pools of polliwog and the whole she-bang, the place, our family, ourselves.

Fat, black bodies color the water. My brother and I pulse with glee as we try to scoop them up with pop cans we found along the creek banks. We want a frog hatchery in the bathroom, or if mom protests, maybe, we can take a shovel and build a pond in the backyard. My brother offers his tonka trucks for the project. Their black bodies are slimy but solid, like smoked oysters.

They’ll transform into croaking frogs. We’re children. We don’t want to be much more than we are right now. We want to be here at the creek catching polliwogs, being children.

We run those pop cans the mile home. Shawn’s legs can’t keep up with mine so I wait under the Valley Oak. Becky, don’t run. He yells. You’ll hurt their bellies. I tell him they don’t have bellies. They have torsos. We walk the rest of the way, sneak the cans in the house and dump the polliwogs in the bathroom sink. My mom never said a word.

At eight years old, I didn’t know, didn’t believe that I had any limits of energy, of imagination, of courage. That anyone or anything did. Now, at 32, I fear the edges of my efforts. That I will not cobble together something good, a thought worth pursuing for the dissertation, the next article, the next project. The moments of my life, washing dishes, reading theory, grading papers, pulling weeds in the garden, folding my son’s clothes feel frantic, like I must hurry, I must rush, for it’s not enough, my efforts will not suffice. I can’t scoop up the polliwogs fast enough and I do not trust they will return.

I’ve been trying to stand on my head all summer. I’ve spent hours kicking my feet into the air, trying to hold head stand, to take deep breathes with my body suspended, to rest upside down. Half a second. On a good day, I can hold it for half a second. My husband laughs at my yoga practice, not a laugh of derision, but of admiration and wonder. “You? Sit still?” he says. “Hold a pose?”

In garland pose, an obscene spread-leg squat where my chin touches my knees and my rump my ankles,  I resemble nothing more than a squatting frog. Sitting, resting in that effort, I don’t think about much more than my screaming thighs and how I really hope no one comes to the door. I can’t hurry garland pose, I can’t beat it with a frenzy of energy. Garland pose says sit. Garland pose says breathe.

By Big

Written during the BWP Summer Institute

Of Birthdays and the Internet

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The Boy's Birthday

When the boy was born, I said and thought cheesy things, things I would like to blame on hormone surges but that more likely stem from my molten internal core of cheese.  One of those things was a promise — I promised to be his witness and to celebrate his days (please, don’t gag. It was the hormones).  My birthday induced madness, where I bake too much and decorate too much, is part of  keeping that promise.

The above is the photo rendition of  this year’s promise keeping. The boy turned five. It takes a lot to turn five: bugs, friends, cake, cupcakes, a pinata, pizza, antennas, etc. It took a lot to turn two, three and four, too.

Past Birthdays

In the midst of party preparations, the boy asked his father, “What are you doing?” His father replied through gritted teeth, “Giving you a wonderful experience.” For the husband, birthday work (blowing balloons, hanging pinatas, creating strange contraptions from pipe cleaners, etc.) takes 24-48 hours, while for me the birthday work begins with the wonders of the internet. This year, the boy wanted bugs, so I found the following inspirations to create the above.

By Big

Documenting Life

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I bought a camera in February. I was absolutely scared to death to buy such a fancy piece of equipment. I wavered. Talked to my husband, talked to my mom, talked to myself. Then, I finally clicked the “confirm order” button.

This is what I got:

A way too cool for me Pentax K-r. I got the kit that included an 18-55mm lens and a 55-300 mm lens and because all of that didn’t cost enough I added a 50 mm lens.

As nervous as I was, I love it! I was paying someone $100 every time I wanted to have professional (or professional looking) pictures of my daughter. Now, I dress her in a cute outfit, we go out the back do into the field and voilà we’ve got pictures.

Getting the hang of a DSLR camera is difficult. Actually, I’m not sure that I have the hang of it yet. I’ve read the manual once and now on my second attempt things are making sense.

I’ve had my share of bad turnout. However, the good ones are great.

This post is not to sell you a Pentax. I’ll get nothing from that, but to remind you to document life. Throughout this blog I plan to document everything I can with my new best friend.

By Little

Skipped Introductions and the Mind of a Type A Mom

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An introduction feels necessary, like we should discuss our expectations, but I am not teaching and summer is for breaking rules, so I’ll forgo an introduction and trust our posts will introduce us.

The boy has spent his summer with lovely babysitters and a magical ten-year old, while I taught. He will spend the rest of his summer with the decidedly less lovely and magical me.  The less lovely and magical me wants it to be the best summer in the history of summers, for it’s his last before kindergarten.  In addition, to swimming, water balloons and the park, here are some of the things we’re doing, and have done, to keep the summer moving.

Experiments

The Science Toy Maker:  a teacher genius, this guy’s put together youtube videos and instructions for simple science projects that work. The babysitters facilitated the cartesian diver (which the boy showed to all who would look) and the climbing man, but the boy and I will tackle the glider, air rocket and robotic fingers.

The Space Place: in honor of the end of the shuttle program, we plan to explore some of NASA’s activites, but beware, NASA expects the average home to have strange things.

Kindergarten Ready Computer Time (while I don’t want to be that mom, I am so that mom)

Big Green Rabbit: you should know that I have questionable taste in music (Linda Ronstadt, EmmyLou Harris and Dolly Parton are the best trio of all time) that being said, I do love the Big Green Rabbit music. It’s danceable. They also offer games that teach mouse skills and dance lessons.

Read, Write, Think: ABC Match: designed by the International Reading Association and funded by Verizon, it’s exactly as it sounds.

Read, Write, Think: Construct-a-Word: kids pick an ending and a beginning to make a word.

Read, Write, Think: Picture Match: kids match sounds to a picture.

Outdoor Random

Obstacle Course Menu: we’ve modified this to fit our surroundings and materials, but it will no doubt become a standby.

Arctic Games: we’re obsessed with the Arctic Games and have dreams of kicking a ball in the air with both feet. Doesn’t everyone obsess over such things?

Cooking

The Brilliant Roald Dahl Cookbook

The Brilliant Roald Dahl Cookbook

Flag Pizzas

 By Big