Friday, March 30, 2012

Cathartic Haiku: Smart Ass Student

In class, you sneer, sigh.
In email, you ask for help.
Just admit you care.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

They Really Like Me! (Or at least one does)

FINALLY! I have a review on Rate My Professors. I've checked many times before, hoping for and craving positive feedback from legions of anonymous students who were all inspired by my exciting yet informative and challenging class. For the longest time, there was complete silence.

Apparently, I forgot all about it when I wasn't teaching last semester. I mentioned to Keith earlier this week that I didn't have any ratings and he said I was wrong. I did have a rating, and I even got a chili pepper for hotness! What exciting news!

Unfortunately, when I checked out my rating, I was a tad bit disappointed. With a mere two sentences, my former student managed to make two different grammatical errors. Plus, the rating was posted last summer ... at which time I was only teaching an online class. I suppose I can hope that the reviewer was a former on-campus student, and the chili pepper is actually based on the student seeing me, not on one fuzzy picture in my Blackboard profile. And the grammar mistakes were .... meant ironically? Let's go with that.

Anyway, thanks for the positive review, anonymous!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We're Famous!

Image credit: Chuck Crowe / The Plain Dealer

Yesterday, after picking Eleanor up from preschool, we went to Daffodil Hill in Lake View Cemetery and brought a picnic lunch. While we wandered around to look at the daffodils, this older guy with a fancy camera seemed to be taking pictures of us. It was rather creepy, until he introduced himself as a photographer for The Plain Dealer, took down our names, and gave us a business card. He said the picture would in today's or tomorrow's paper; I was excited when I got a call from my uncle this morning saying that there was a large picture of us on the front page of the Metro section. It's also on the front page of The Plain Dealer's site (scroll down, on the left), and has its own post.

It's funny how things work out. We had actually tried to go to Daffodil Hill over the weekend, but between the two kids' naps, it didn't work out on Saturday or Sunday. I mentioned to Keith on the phone yesterday that I had finally managed to find Daffodil Hill in the cemetery, and he suggested taking Eleanor after school.

What you can't see in this photo (thank goodness!) is that, at school that day, she had a beach party to celebrate the end of their unit on the ocean. Under her winter coat, she's wearing:
  • a bathing suit
  • a halter top beach dress
  • leggings
  • cupcake socks that don't match her dress at all
  • a black sweater that, like the socks, don't really match, but it was the only one I could convince her to wear

On her face were the remnants of their snack: dyed blue cream cheese on an English muffin, with a few Goldfish "swimming" on top. Her mouth and parts of her cheeks were blue.

I'm just glad that I managed to get a shower that morning, while Declan slept for 20 minutes before we went to pick Eleanor up. Most days, my hair is a frizzy mess, pulled back in a sloppy bun. What luck!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cathartic Haiku: Just Trying to Drive

"Excuse YOU!" he yells
While jaywalking my green light.
And I'm the asshole.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

It's a Pity Compliment, But I'll Take It!

I've finally started running again, for the first time since last May when I was about 4 months pregnant.

It's always hard to get started again, after taking time off. It can be disheartening to think about the fact that I've run 2 half-marathons and countless 5ks and 10ks, but now I can barely get through 2 slow miles without walking. And of course, I have a significant amount of pregnancy and post-natal stress eating weight to lose; that doesn't help.

But the challenge is what I love and hate about running. Whether I'm trying to get faster or go further or get back into the routine, it's difficult. Sometimes I get frustrated, and wish it wasn't so hard. But most of the time, I like knowing that running won't let me down. I can always count on running to kick my butt.

This time around, I've been doing a lot of my running with Eleanor in the running stroller. Before the first time I took her out, we had a big talk about how Mommy isn't as fast as Daddy and sometimes Mommy needs to walk. So Eleanor needed to understand that I wasn't in very good shape, and not give me a hard time about it.

So far, she's been wonderful! She even cheers me on at the end. "Come on, Mommy! You can do it!" She's actually pretty good company, even though it's hard for me to carry on a conversation sometimes.

A week or so ago, Eleanor and I went for a 2-mile run after Keith got home from work. It was pretty hot and humid, especially for early March. By the end of the run, my hair was a frizzy mess, I was soaked in sweat, and my running clothes were emitting a powerful stench. My belly, which still looks about 4-months pregnant (only with Coke and peanut butter M&Ms this time), gently stretched the front of my hot pink running shirt. We went to the end of a driveway to cross to our side of the street. We waited for a man on a bike to go past us.

As we waited, I made eye contact and smiled in a friendly, neighborly way. He smiled back and nodded. Once he was nearly past us, he called out, "Hi, Gorgeous!"

I was so surprised, it took me a moment to even process what he said. Normally I'd assume that he was complimenting my wonderful child, but this time he was clearly looking at me. Me?!? Seriously? I wouldn't call it false modesty. When in shape, freshly showered and made up, I'm reasonably attractive. But at this moment, I was none of those things.

By the time we got home, I had figured out what was going on. This guy saw me, a pudgy and worn out mom, and immediately realized I needed a boost of self-confidence. So he saw fit to provide one. His smile didn't feel lascivious, but kindly. It was a pity compliment, but I'll take it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


In the past couple weeks, we've spent as much time outside as possible. All of Eleanor's outdoor toys have been dusted off and put to good use. The sidewalk chalk, tricycle, hula hoop, bubbles, sunglasses. I've gone for a run 4 times in the past week and a half. FOUR TIMES!!!

Two weeks ago, I would have said that I haven't run since last May, when I was 4-5 months pregnant with Declan. But the crazy warm weather has changed all that.

I promised myself that, every once in a while, I will actually step out of my comfort zone on the blog and say something that could possibly be construed as controversial. So: I believe that global warming is a reality. I believe that it is caused by human activity. I believe that it's not solely the fault of our generation, and it's definitely not the fault of our kids' generation, but we will have to find a way to fix it, or else we're all in big trouble.

Frankly, I really can't understand why that is considered controversial, and the fact that it is makes me a little sad. Why does empirical evidence need to be controversial?

But anyway: I have no idea if our current warm weather is related to global warming. If it is, that's shocking and wrong. ..... But for now, I am enjoying the sun and the warm breeze and having all of my windows open and wearing sandals. It doesn't mean I'm going to stop working on minimizing my carbon footprint, but I do think I need a new sundress.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Minivan-Driving Soccer Mom

We're thinking about buying a minivan. We've always been compact car people, but Declan's arrival, occurring at the same time as Eleanor being old enough for playdates without needing the other parent, means we would really like to be able to fit three carseats into our vehicle. That's not going to happen with either our Matrix or the Cavalier. An SUV is definitely too big, but I can deal with a minivan.

I was discussing this issue with a friend who is in the same situation. I scoffed at the fact that so many people refuse to buy minivans because they are unwilling to admit that they are now Those People: parents with several kids who value functionality more than appearance or speed. Neither Keith nor I have ever been car people, and I've never had a "cool" car.

I told my friend that I was totally okay with being a "minivan-driving soccer mom." She pointed out that it's not really the literal fact of actually being a mom who drives a minivan and whose kids play soccer that people detest. It's the image of the stereotypical soccer mom that drives people crazy.

After this conversation, I started wondering: What do I think of, when I hear the term "soccer mom?" Keith supplied another moniker of "helicopter parent." We decided that it indicates a parent who's generally overaggressive. She's very involved in her kids' lives, even when they should be starting to branch off on their own. I also think that she doesn't have many interests of her own. The stereotypical soccer mom spends all of her time going to, from, or at her kids' activities. She doesn't work outside the home, and she only gets the opportunity to interact with other, like-minded soccer moms.

According to Wikipedia:
The phrase soccer mom generally refers to a married middle-class woman who lives in the suburbs and has school age children. She is sometimes portrayed in the media as busy or overburdened and driving a minivan. She is also portrayed as putting the interests of her family, and most importantly her children, ahead of her own.
It seems like my concept of soccer mom is a little more in-depth, but not too far off the general view. What do you think of, when you think "soccer mom?"

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cathartic Haikus: Smoking Driver

Your carelessly flicked
glowing cigarette stub sparks,
and ignites my ire.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A little less paranoia, a little more calm

I'm sad to say that I'm already starting to wean Declan. I made it 8 months with Eleanor, and I was hoping to make it that long with Declan. Even to make it to six months would have been great, but it's just not working out. (FYI: If you are of a certain gender or age where a discussion of breastfeeding weirds you out, you might want to stop reading right now.)

For the first four months, I had been supplementing him only about 6 ounces of formula per day. Since babies that age are getting over 20 ounces per day, I felt pretty good about that. I usually made it through the first half of the day without any bottles, and then had to give him more formula further into the evening as my supply ran low. But suddenly, right around the 4-month mark, in just a few days, I went from giving him 6 oz of formula to 12 and then 18 .... I was very frustrated, angry, and upset.

Why did this happen? I have no idea. But I do know that I promised myself I wouldn't be all crazy about breastfeeding like I was with Eleanor. With baby #1, I felt like that was the ONLY thing I could give her that no one else could, and if I wasn't nursing then I might as well be some automaton instead of a mother. Is this crazy? Yes. And I'm sure some part of my rational brain knew that, but it was vastly overruled by the crazy, post-partum, new-mom hormonal part of my brain. So with Eleanor, I pumped and pumped to try and increase (or at least keep) my supply. I'm pretty sure I pumped at least once a day, if not more, for her first six months. For the first 4 months I never missed a feeding; of this I'm absolutely certain, because she refused to take a bottle. From months 4-6, I probably only missed a few, because I was paranoid that any time I missed a feeding, my supply would drop.

I've tried very hard not to worry about it so much this time. Declan's weight has never been an issue, and with a toddler as well, I simply don't have the time to devote to breastfeeding like I did last time. And I've seen with my own eyes that I'm still Eleanor's Mom, irreplaceable in her eyes (God help her), even though we've been done with breastfeeding for nearly 3 years and counting.

So when I had this inexplicable, dramatic drop in my milk supply, I didn't fight it as hard as I would have the first time around. I had a week of trying to convince myself it was temporary and I could go back to how it was before, but it wasn't to be. So I shrugged my shoulders and started dropping nursings. Last week, I stopped nursing for the last feeding of the day. This week, the last two feedings will be with a bottle. That's how I did it with Eleanor--I gave myself a lot of time to come to grips with the fact that it was actually happening. Like everything else, however, I'm not sure if it will play out the same way.

With Eleanor, I was supplementing her while she was nursing, so adding more formula didn't decrease the time she nursed. By the end, I was giving her a full amount of formula while she nursed, and I would just tell myself that she was also getting a little breastmilk too, although I had no way of knowing for sure. (You know, if this is too much talk about my breasts, feel free to stop reading right now. Just saying.) But with Declan, because he does take a bottle, I usually nurse him and then give him a bottle. He's getting to where, other than the first feeding of the day, he doesn't really think the nursing is worth his time and he'd rather just go straight to the bottle.

At this point, I'm just hoping we can make it a couple more weeks. I want to make it past the 5-month mark (3/17), a bit into the sixth month, so I can round up and tell people (mostly myself) that we made it 6 months. Is this logical? I doubt it. But sometimes it's just easier to accept the crazy and go with the flow.

I guess that's my new point of view. When the crazy makes me frustrated and pushes me over the edge, I need to resist. But sometimes, when the crazy is relatively mild, it's easier to just accept it.

Right now, I'm trying to remind myself of all the good aspects of being done with nursing:
  • My body, saggy and out-of-shape as it is, will finally be my own again.
  • No more nursing bras.
  • We'll be so much more free to go and do things doing the day, since I'm not worried about getting home for feedings.
  • I won't be worried about Declan's weight and how much he's eating, since there's an endless supply of formula. Not cheap, but endless!
  • I won't be so worried about missing feedings, since I won't have to worry about my supply. So I will be able to go do things with a clear conscience and actually enjoy them.

If any other moms have any suggestions to cheer me up, benefits to weaning, feel free to share! The not-crazy side of me would like a bit more encouragement.

Friday, March 09, 2012

... And We're Back!

Back from my January/February hiatus, ready to dazzle and entertain you once again.

If you were a stickler for details, you might be tempted to point out that it's already March 9; isn't this big comeback a bit late? Shouldn't this post have appeared on March 1?

But since you're my friend, and you know I'm a delicate flower with volatile emotions, I trust you will resist the urge to point out that my hiatus went a week longer than planned. I think that, in actuality, the thought of returning to blogging on a regular basis scared me a little bit. After weeks with no deadlines, could I keep a regular posting schedule?

Well, probably not. But that's because I never really have. My posting is always lighter at the beginning of the month, when I think I have ages to post, and then the posts come fast and furious in the last week, when I say, "Oh crap! I only have one more week to get to 10 posts for the month!"

So I am back, for what it's worth. Back to my inane drivel, and my sporadic, unreliable posting. I know you missed me!