Archives for category: expeditions

So much has been happening lately, I can’t keep up with it. This is a rambling post. I’ll try to put some pictures in to break it up. Did I mention that Elinor is full-on walking? Yep. It’s awesome and exhausting.

Iza, my dear kitty, has diabetes. It’s totally treatable and we caught it early (when they start peeing like crazy, something’s bad. Thank goodness she’s so particular about her litter box), but it’s a significant expense. We changed her diet and are monitoring her ketones, but haven’t yet started insulin. It’s like we’re holding our breath to see if things will work themselves out, which sometimes happens, but is rare ….

Elinor and I took a trip to Siesta Key, Florida, with my mom’s family. My grandma turns 80 this year and it’s her and my grandpa’s 60th wedding anniversary this year, so they wanted one big family hurrah. I’m impressed, because we did get the entire family down there — except for Chad. This first year of work at the firm precluded any week-long vacations for him. So El and I walked into the Gulf of Mexico, and El loved it even more than I did. She’s a beach baby, loving the water and the waves. And she had such an amazing time with her cousins, both Peyton and Harper (babies everywhere!) but also Spencer’s awesome step-children, Tyler and Maddie. It was a good week, though I missed Chad like crazy and have vowed never to take another vacation without him. Pictures to come — we forgot our camera (!) and are relying on grandparents and aunts. They’ll supply soon.

And then Chad’s big bad firm did some computer upgrades, shutting down their whole system for Memorial Day weekend, which meant he COULD take a short vacation. To Kenyon it was, then, for my 10th-year reunion. I had debated going due to the timing and expense, but Monica and Rhoda and Marc were going to be there, and I so wanted to see them …. Brittany and Joe, Chad’s sister and basically brother-in-law, drove up from Oxford, Ohio, and joined us for a day and a half, and Jeff drove up from Pittsburgh with Sarah and little Emmett, and we spent a nice afternoon with Juan DePascuale, whom Chad worked with one summer at St. Olaf, and then we drove to cute, perfect Hudson, Ohio, to spend one night with Matt and Monte and their little ones, Finn and Willa, two good friends of Chad’s from his college days. It was a packed vacation, but a good one. Oh yeah — and Kenyon!

El and Em love the dog on Middle path ….

Monica and Rhoda look normal — parenthood makes for goofy posing. Ah, kids.

All of this to say that it’s been an expensive spring. We’re doing OK, but we have a fair amount of debt and it bothers Chad. He’s vowed to work at the firm five years or so just so that we can manage that debt down and have some more freedom, but that’s still a hefty goal. We constantly debate the weight of that goal’s importance, especially compared to Chad’s health and El’s time with Chad. And my time with Chad!

And my first day in Florida, my school district called to say that they were denying my request for one more year of unpaid maternity leave since they were closing my school and had reduced my position. It’s a little weird, and they sure could have told me much earlier, but that means that I either need to resign or find a job in the district by August. This was not in the plan — but that means more money?

MDPL is swinging along, too, with paid opportunities to run some contract work, and I miss teaching a whole bunch.

A friend from college offered me some contract work writing for online sources ….

Let’s take a break on those uncomfortable but imposing chairs in Nu Pi Kappa. And yes, there was a current Kenyon student napping while El ravaged the room.

My head is aswirl with options for our lives. I’ve begun babysitting Blaise, Erin’s awesome 2-year-old, once a week, and I’ve dedicated all of those earnings to paying for our two mega-vacations. But I could go back to work. I could contract with MDPL. I could write for some online sources. We could make some more money, meet those debt goals earlier, and maybe have some freedom sooner, together. But in the meantime, that means finding and paying for childcare for El, which is a whole ‘nother headache.

Who am I, and how important are these cash flows compared to being here for Elinor and making sure that Chad’s quality of life meets some basic standards?

Going back to Kenyon didn’t help clarify any of this. Education came up everywhere, and I do feel so committed to those causes and to that mission. The Amanda from Kenyon days is different from the Amanda now, too, and living with both of them was strange. I feel so much more ME now than I did then, but my life is strangely larger and more sprawling now, too, way less focused and way less constrained.

El was ready for long conversations in Peirce as she waited for high-quality local foodstuffs.

I don’t know what to do. My crunchy Mama podcast that I love (Mama Natural Show 43) just reported on study that found that stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) have significantly higher levels of depression than other moms, most likely due to isolation, aimlessness, and a lack of feeling any accomplishments. I don’t think isolation is a big issue for me (thank God for my family and some good friends), but I suffer from aimlessness like you wouldn’t believe (she’s sleeping?! What to do first? clean? yoga? eat? sleep? make stuff? MDPL? aieee!), and that lack of accomplishing anything (another load of laundry left, another load of dishes, and El’s crying yet again …. rinse, repeat) drives me mad.

But I love being with El.

All of this just to get some of the things in me head, outta there and somewhere else. I will figure it out. We will figure it out.

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Chad is half Swedish. His mother is fully Swedish; her parents emigrated from Sweden in the 40s, I think. This is a wonderful thing, to have such a recent history written across the world, to have such a certain connection to another country and culture. It’s especially precious because Chad has a large set of relatives in Sweden, with whom we keep in decent contact.

We visited in 2009, two weeks of relatives and Västergötland, or West Gothland, in south central Sweden. We divided our time between two cousins of Chad’s mom — Kristina and Karin. Kristina is younger, and much busier, with a son in high school and another young son in lower grade school at the time. But Karin, slightly older, and her husband Börje, have four children who are only slightly younger than Chad and myself. Staying with them, on their organic sheep farm (!), felt a bit more like being part of a family, if only because of the age range of everyone there. It was a wonderful visit, all around. I felt completely welcomed and was enchanted with Sweden, proud to be married to a half-Swede, and strangely conscious that my skin is pretty darn dark and that my hair is, too.

We haven’t kept in the best touch, but all of the people there became very real to me, very much a part of the larger family into which I had married.

But we heard yesterday, haphazardly in the way that intercontinental news travels without the internet, that Börje had died. He was only sixty, and the little information that we had gleaned was that he had been feeling tired. By the time he got to the doctor, he had advanced lung cancer, and within weeks — days? — he was gone.

It’s a shock, as many deaths are. I am still not accustomed to them. Yesterday my mother-in-law told me this as I returned from my afternoon out, as she and my father-in-law babysat Elinor. So I picked up my chubby baby and spent the rest of the day absorbed in caring for her, thinking occasionally of the news and not sure how to approach it, not sure how to deal with it.

I’m still not sure. But last night, while rocking and singing and nursing E to sleep, I felt this calm peace about Börje himself. If there were ever a righteous, humble, and wonderful man, it was him. He was a kind of rock to his family, and he was a gracious host and father-figure to us while we visited. He loved the earth, and machines, and animals, and church organs, and his family with all of his heart. We loved him, and I know in my heart that he led a good life and that he is with God, somewhere beautiful, farming as he loved to do.

What breaks my heart more, to be honest, is thinking of Karin and his children. Karin is a whirlwind of a woman, and she and Börje were the kind of odd couple that makes life richer and louder. She is strong, of course, but I hope that she finds love like that in other places, because it was a unique and wonderful one, from what we could see.

All four kids, too, are in their twenties, and that is just a difficult time to lose your father. Pontus, Britta, Lotta, and Elsa … I cannot even imagine what they are going through.

I suppose that all of this is a miniature tribute to a man I met once, but in that meeting I respected and cared for him.

Good farming, Börje.

 

 

 

Well, this is our third snowstorm of the year, but it was the first time I truly took Elinor out into it, partially because I didn’t have snow gear for her before, and partially because our busy schedule of nursing, eating solids, trying to get her to nap, and changing diapers precluded it beforehand.

Anyway, we got five inches last night (on top of five on Thursday, too!), and I had to shovel the driveway.

First we suited up.

Then we tried the carseat as a safe location.

That lasted for about 10 minutes. So I began to get creative.

A tarp!

That only lasted five minutes.

But I am a tenacious mom when it comes to finishing my chores (when I actually start them, that is). So —

She was happy there for probably another 10, which was enough for me to finish the driveway.

Here I made the mistake — I thought that she’d be game for really hanging out in the snow, like the true Colorado baby that she is ….

Whoops.

(But she just napped for 2.5 hours!)

I think I have so much more to say about opportunities (taken and lost), but for now I thought I’d give everyone the lowdown before I lose the details to my sieve-like memory.

Play-by-play, our 45 hours from home:

Chad drove us to the airport Saturday morning. I was terrified; when he left us at the security gate, I kept looking back for him. I had our stroller, the carseat, a stuffed backpack, the ergo baby carrier, and the diaper bag. Elinor was somewhere in the midst of it all. I had worried about taking the stroller, but it helped so much. Chad and I saw a belabored momma in the elevator on our way to ticketing. She was carrying her stroller, had two roller bags, and a one-year-old in an umbrella stroller. I will say now and forever — hip hip hooray for Bob strollers that work with your carseat!

We got through security so fast that we had much time to spend at the gate. People were so friendly; babies are magical. I met a woman who is friends with the woman in Maui who created the ergo baby carrier — wow.

On the plane, it was great. We were in the second-to-last row, and there was one empty seat in our row. The occupied seat contained a very nice woman who fell in love with Elinor. The flight itself was great; we nursed during take-off and landing, Elinor bounced a-plenty, we traversed the cabin for 30 minutes, and Elinor slept on my lap in the ergo.

We landed, a car was waiting to take us to our hotel, and the driver was a wacky guy from Queens married to a personal trainer. Janice was already at the hotel — the Intercontinental Times Square — and it was pretty swank and all the staff were amazing.

We went to the corner and ordered from this place called the Shake Shack. Awesome hamburgers and a great concrete with poached figs — yummy.

Our view:

The next morning the hullabaloo began.

Janice and Elinor came with me to Rockefeller Square, where NBC had set up a huge tent over the ice skating rink. We found where I was supposed to be, so Janice and Elinor left to visit the Rockefeller Center Observation Deck. I entered the tent and sat in the front row as Brian Williams (Janice was excited about him; I didn’t know who he was!) facilitated a Teacher Town Hall. Teachers were onstage with Brian commenting about all sorts of things, and teachers in the audience could stand in line to comment, while anyone could tweet into their live feed, as well. I guess last year’s Town Hall was v. public vs. charter, full of enmity, and v. anti-teacher, even. This one was very clean and kind, almost hygienic. Most of the comments and arguments were v. common to anyone who has taught more than a year or two. But it was nice to be heard, without a doubt. Melinda Gates was there (not 100 feet from me!) and I kept thinking about what Diane Ravitch would say about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I have to say that I think that specific foundation is honorable, but I don’t think I trust all other philanthropic organizations, and I DEPLORE how schools will throw themselves at a foundation’s feet for their money. I guess I deplore the fact that schools have to do that, even more.

Did I say anything? Nope.

Afterward, I had no idea where I was supposed to go. I found Janice and Elinor, and we nursed right there by the Lego store. Ahhhh. Then I was clueless and just wanted to hold my baby.

Luckily Rhena, one of the real film stars, spotted me, and then we saw Ninive, the producer and former CEO of 826Valencia. We went on a weird mad dash around Rockefeller Center and that tent, and I met Jonathan and Erik and Jamie, the other real film stars. A woman from Microsoft interviewed us; she’ll be using those clips to try and promote _American Teacher_. I guess that Microsoft (or Lauren from Microsoft) saw the film just as Ninive and Dave Eggers, the co-producers, heard that no one wanted to distribute it (who wants to watch documentaries about teachers who can’t pay their bills?). Lauren thought Microsoft could help, and they have committed to funding numerous small and community screenings throughout the country. Aieee!

While we were standing there, Janice and Elinor and I hung out with Dave Eggers.

That’s him on the side. I took this picture before Janice realized that this Dave guy was Dave EGGERS.

Elinor slept as we all chatted.

Then we went BELOW Rockefeller Center to a nice restaurant for a private pre-screening party. I HATE those things. I was so glad that Janice and Elinor could come, though, because having a baby and a friend around relieves you from having to talk to people you don’t know. BUT I did meet the director, Vanessa Roth, and Emily, Associate Producer extraordinaire, and Gretchen, a wonderful former teacher and now teacher advocate, and Rhena’s mother, a legislator from New Jersey. They were all awesome, and they all recognized me. They all know me already from my video diary, but I had no idea who they were …. It was very awkward and it didn’t help that I was feeling awkward, too, and that I would rather have been hanging out with Janice and Elinor half the time. When I talked to people, I wanted to talk shop, too — about education. And many of them were up for that, but many of them were so much more involved in the film than I was that it was … awkward.

Finally we all filtered back into the tent for the World Premiere screening of _American Teacher_. I was in the front row next to Gretchen and Emily. Al Roker and Jenna Bush Hager introduced the film, and then the president of NBC spoke, and then the presidents of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers spoke, and then Al Roker interviewed Vanessa, Dave, and Ninive, and then our seats rotated and we watched the movie.

I hadn’t seen it yet. This was part of my weirdness about this whole process; the four main stars of the film have been involved with the film all the way, from the book to the prior screenings at film festivals, etc., and they know each other and know everyone else. They’ve all seen it numerous times, and so have their families …. I wasn’t even sure if I would agree with the film. Of course I agree that teachers should be paid more, but I happen to know that the book, _Teachers Have It Easy_, applauds Denver’s ProComp system, a par-for-performance initiative. ProComp *is* ground-breaking, but even a teacher like me, who twice received bonuses for raising my students’ scores and always received excellent evaluations, cannot build my salary up to what it would have been on the old system. And DPS keeps reneging on which parts build your salary base and which are just bonuses; the bonuses help a little but don’t help in the long run.

That and the fact that education has become such a polarizing entity, and that I feel very strongly about that particularly divisive issue of neighborhood versus charter schools. What if my stuff was in a film that I personally couldn’t endorse? And the fact that my part in it seemed to be last-minute and not as important as the other teachers …. I felt like a skeptical phoney.

So I was hesitant.

But the film was good. It was even-handed and factual regarding teachers and the way our society does not respect them, since our society only seems to respect things by showering money upon them. The other teachers ARE amazing and went through some significant life changes, on film. And the film itself was utterly sympathetic to all of its teachers, which was most important to me.

It was hard watching me onscreen, though, especially since that me was from so long ago. 2007! I was so young, period, and I was so young in teaching, as well. And that was a ROUGH year. Just weeks after I finished the video diary, I got pneumonia. Ugggh.

After the screening there was some downtime. Ninive’s emails had indicated that not everyone would be on the panel following the film, and since I hadn’t heard otherwise, I assumed I wouldn’t be up there. I was in pain and part of me felt like I could hear Elinor crying, so I ducked out of the tent and went to nurse my babe (who had just begun to fuss). I was exhausted and so was Janice (as well as Elinor!), and so we made an executive decision to run away to the hotel before the after-party. It was a good choice; we all needed some downtime.

Then we headed to the after-party, at a very nice hotel restaurant and bar. Ira Glass had been on the invite list but hadn’t shown up, but we talked to Ninive, Jonathan and his girlfriend Barbara, and spoke with Dave and Jamie a little, and Elinor slept for quite awhile. She woke up and was fussy, so we decided to leave; we didn’t know many people and God knows that I suck in situations like that. But as we were saying goodbye to the people we knew, Ninive became an enthusiastic teacher: she stood in front of the room and gave a short speech of thanks and congratulations to all of us, and she made me stand up in front of them all, and we took pictures of all the film stars, and I don’t have any pictures of that. I am hoping that the emails I read asking for shared files come to fruition.

But I felt like a little star at that point. Part of me liked it and part of me didn’t; I still felt a little fraudulent.

Home to our view:

We ordered room service. I hadn’t really eaten since breakfast, besides a few little appetizers at all the functions. Elinor has hyped up and starving, too, and she and I ended up nursing for probably more than an hour. She finally went down around midnight.

Janice and I were getting up at four in order to be ready for our car at 5:30, for our flights at 8 and 8:30.

We sat with a former Teacher of the Year from Nebraska in the car; she warned me that the “fame” that comes with things like this can be hard to take. I can imagine that being Teacher of the Year would be difficult, indeed. My solace was that I was in the film almost by a fluke (of meeting Ninive at the 826 conference that year), not by merit.

“But you were in there by merit,” she said. “You were willing to share your life with us.” Hmmmm.

Then the great separation; Janice headed to another terminal. Elinor and I breezed through security — I now have a SYSTEM with my baby — and waited for awhile at the gate. Elinor bounced and played, and we befriended another Nebraskan, Claudia, who was very helpful. Then onto the plane ….

This time we weren’t as lucky. We had a middle seat, the plane was booked solid, and the man on the aisle was a BIG guy. He had to use the seatrest. A mom with a nursing baby is not a small entity, I now know, and Elinor was tired, teething, getting over her cold still, and uncomfortable while we tried to nurse. It was miserable. As soon as the seatbelt light went off, we were up and walking back and forth through the cabin. I walked with Elinor for an hour and a half, straight. She fell asleep and woke up and fell asleep …. Mark helped me calculate that I walked more than two miles, in a plane, in the air. Weird.

Elinor cried as we landed. But we were home, and my system worked for getting us off that plane. Mark was waiting for us, and we came home, and Elinor nursed, and now she is asleep.

I should probably be asleep, too.

Tomorrow Elinor and I leave for our Manhattan adventure. I am so excited! I am so glad everything worked out! I feel at peace with the plans and at peace with some of my decisions. Plus the hotel is probably nicer than anything I’ve ever stayed at, which is kind of cool.

It’s a whirlwind, though. I wish I had had more time to plan and more options earlier, because I would have taken longer while there. Oh well. I am at peace with things, overall, which is my only indicator these days of what is right or wrong, whatever that may mean.

Wish us well. I will write more when I return, and there will be pictures.

Here’s a parting shot from this morning’s lovely light:

Excerpted from an email to my friend Nicole:

“And way more important, probably, I have decided to go to NYC. I agree with everything that you said about me and nurturing who I am — but I was still so anxious and worried, and every time I looked at Elinor or Chad I felt guilty about what they would go through. I had wanted to just get another ticket for Chad to come, but the price was too high and the times were bad for him (he didn’t think he could miss all of Monday for work, which made sense, this being his third week there). So then I decided to just go with as short a time-frame as possible, leaving Elinor with Chad Sat. night and then begging my mom to watch her Sun. night so Chad could actually function at work on Monday. As it stands, I fly out Sat. around noon and return Mon. before noon, so it will be a whirlwind ….

“BUT THEN! my friend Janice read the blog entry and called. She has a free airline ticket and we had planned for her to use it to visit me and Elinor sometime this fall, but she thought it would be fun to go to NYC and take Monday off. I warned her about my non-bottle-taking baby and she is still willing to try it; our plan now is for her to bring E to me in between some of my events so that I can nurse her, and then she and Janice will explore Central Park and other touristy things that neither of them have done yet. I think that I will be able to swing getting Janice out to Colorado in the near future, as well — those tickets won’t be as evil and limited as Chad’s would have been to NYC.

“I feel comfortable with this plan — I’m actually really excited to see Janice. All of the other plans were grating on me. I think that it would have been OK to leave Elinor here, cold turkey, but it would have been very hard on Elinor, Chad, and my mom — and on me. I wish the trip had occurred a month earlier or that I had just known about it a month earlier, because I would have worked with E on the bottle and possibly started her on solids earlier. But the timing was just off — less than two weeks notice, Chad is still new and proving himself at work, and I had planned on waiting a full six months before starting E on those solids, about which I am really excited. In light of all that, I think that this will be the best option — though I have a feeling that traveling with an infant will be a completely new adventure, as well.

“Ugggh. It has been a rollercoaster of a week and now Elinor has her first cold and was up until 12:30 last night, between her weird almost-teething and her stuffy nose. I think I’m emotionally DONE for awhile.

“But I promise you I will take pictures. And yes, it is way more fun to take pictures of Elinor than almost anything else. So I will take pics of her in NYC and I will take pics of me and Matt Damon, if I get to meet him. :)”

And I will. I doubt Matt Damon will be there, but I can hope.

So, I am in a movie. It’s called _American Teacher_.

Four years ago, before my second year of teaching, I went to SF for an 826 conference. There I met (briefly and inconsequentially, I thought) Dave Eggers and Ninive Calegari, the founders of 826. The conference was good and obviously affected me, since I helped create MDPL after that. But I thought my connection to those two was the fleeting kind.

Later that summer, Ninive connected me with Vanessa Roth, who contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to do a video diary of my first weeks of school. Vanessa was going to direct a film to help with the book Ninive and Eggers co-authored, _Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and the Small Salaries of America’s Teachers_. They wanted to do a documentary using footage of real teachers, prepping and working and spending their own money on teaching. I thought that it was a cool idea, so for three weeks I borrowed my parents’ video camera and kept a video diary of what was probably my most difficult weeks of teaching, ever. I sent the footage to them that year, and never really heard back from them about it. I was on the email list for their project (The Teacher Salary Project) but thought they’d decided against using my footage, which was fine with me.

Fast-forward, literally, three years. I’ve just come home from the hospital with Elinor. She is asleep and I finally decide to check my email. Holy shit! There is an email from Dave Eggers. Not only did they decide to use my footage, but they are finishing the editing of their film and want to provide follow-up information about my life and my footage. I respond. I am emailing Dave Eggers!

I had really just let the whole thing drop in my mind; it felt surreal to have it be a reality again. But then, as Elinor slept those first weeks, I was able to view the rough cuts of the film and see myself in it. It was so long ago and was painful to watch my younger self go through that. I play a minor role in the final film; a film crew followed four different teachers around to make the bulk of the film. But I am there, and I am mentioned in a review. If you watch the trailer, I am in it, grading papers at the foot of my old meoda-setla (and yes, that’s me talking about how it’s “never enough” — it’s at 1:28, in case you get bored). I still haven’t seen the final version. I hope they give me a copy.

Then, last week Ninive emailed me and the other teachers featured in the film. NBC is sponsoring an Education Town Hall and a premiere of the film September 25, and are willing to fly us out there and foot our hotel bills. How amazing! What an opportunity!

But what to do about Elinor? What to do about the little girl who still refuses to take a bottle? What to do about the mom who wants to be with her all the time, but simultaneously does not want to let go of her own dreams, as well?

First option: take Elinor. But I will need a helper. NBC cannot pay for that helper’s ticket, though the hotel room won’t cost any more. Chad has just started his new job and could come if we kept the schedule tight, but tickets this late in the game are pretty high. And the cost will only go up when we get there — finding transportation with car seats, getting her stuff out there, coming back to the hotel to nurse her. And how will she react to such a short flight and weird experience? I can’t take her to the events, so Chad would just be hanging out with the crying baby for a day in NYC. Which might be OK.

Final thought about this option: expensive and stressful for all involved.

Second option: Go without her. She still doesn’t take a bottle, I’ve never been apart for her more than six hours, and it’s hard to imagine doing this trip without her. It’s hard to imagine how Chad or anyone brave enough to help him will survive this bottle-refusing child, too. It’s hard to imagine me, running back to the hotel to pump. The pain!

Final thought about this option: pragmatic for me, guilt-ridden for me, difficult for Elinor’s caretakers, difficult for Elinor.

Third option: Don’t go. I am a mom now and that entails some sacrifices. I’m sure I will be my socially awkward self there, and even if Chad could go, I don’t have plus-one rights at these events, so he’s be on his own in NYC and I’d be on my own all over the place.

Final thought about this option: missing an opportunity, full of self-sacrifice, easier for Elinor and caretakers.

Here’s the deal, though. If I don’t go, I think I will probably regret it. And kids all over the world spend hours and hours apart from their parents, every day, and I’ve just been a lucky one. So if I fly out there Saturday and return late Sunday night or Monday morning, I will only be gone a total of 36-48 hours. My baby will be fine, right? My husband will be alive, right? *I* will be OK, right?

Chad says it is an adventure, and though mothering is an adventure in and of itself, he thinks I need to nurture me, as well. And when else am I going to get a free ticket and hotel room in NYC, plus going to cool events about a subject which makes me passionate? Did I mention that Mirah, that crazy folksy chick on all my mixes, did some music for the film? Did I mention that???

I am having a hard time making this decision, and time is running out due to the airline ticket situation …. I think I’ve decided to go, but need reassurance that it is OK to go. Aieee. Is it OK to go? Will 48 hours of misery for Elinor and her caretakers make 48 hours of guilt but amazing opportunities for me final even out into a good decision? I need to reassure myself. Thoughts?

A month or so ago my uncle turned to me and asked, “Well, are you ready to be a law widow?”

Yes, Chad starts at the big, bad law firm in a month. He’s got a few more weeks of clerking for his justice, and then a week and a half off, and then our lives change significantly.

Speaking of that justice, Chad is camping at the base of the Angel of Shavano tonight with his co-clerk and their interns, while his justice and Chad’s female co-clerk are crashing in a hotel in Buena Vista. Tomorrow all six of them are going to attempt to summit Mount Shavano and, if the going’s good, Tabeguache.

Beyond my jealousy concerning this outing (I have climbed neither Shavano nor Tabeguache, and I WANT TO), Chad is gone for the night. This is the first night I will be alone, a single mommy. So far it hasn’t been too bad — my dad came over and we watched _The Princess Bride_ while I downed some Santiago’s burritos — but I am still awake at 11:05 and Elinor was kind enough to finally fall asleep around 8:45. Ah yes, Chad is a stabilizing influence on this night owl.

I’ve been dreading law widowhood, even though I am very grateful for it. There is no way we’d be able to afford my year at home without Chad’s job there. But Chad has warned me about 80-hour work weeks for years now, and both of us are nervous about how this will affect each of us, our relationship, and little Elinor. On one hand, I’m glad he has the job because the money will be great, and he’s SO bored with clerking at this point (though we both think it’s been an amazing experience). Chad’s itching to begin some real lawyering, even though he knows he’ll be low lawyer on the totem pole. On the other hand, I am so sad. If I didn’t want to stay home with Elinor, maybe he could find a slightly less high-paying job and be around more. I am going to miss him like crazy, and I think Elinor will, too. Then again, at least one of us is able to stay with Elinor this way ….

We will see. I am very careful about telling people that my year off is just that — a year off. Chad and I will see how this law thing goes. If he loves it, then we’ll see how I feel about continuing to stay home. If he hates it, then we will re-assess and I will look for jobs and daycare.

In the meantime, I miss him already, and he’s only gone tonight. I am such a sucker. But I am way more productive when he’s not around, which is both good and bad. 🙂

Elinor and I joined summer camp at the Museum of Nature and Science for the Pirates exhibit and a Mars talk. It was a little rough on Elinor, who had not napped that morning, but she survived and so did I. The campers LOVE her. They played peek-a-boo with her by crouching and then jumping up, and she was … intrigued.

Here are the pirates (the kids in front who didn’t have pirate hats were pretending to be slaves in shackles; they said Elinor could be a parrot, not a slave, since she REALLY didn’t like the hat. We had just seen an entire exhibit about slaves turned pirates, so this all made perfect sense in context, as most things seem to do):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But what Elinor liked best of all was our walk in City Park afterward, just the two of us. She loves watching trees appear — they fascinate her.

Like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cannot wait to take her here when she can run around and exasperate me with her need to get wet:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a great way to spend a hot summer day in Denver. Free entertainment with water. Yes, yes, yes.