Archives for category: MDPL

I wrote this note on 3/21:

“I must get this finished before she turns a year! I have eight days left!”

Whoops. She’s already one. I could tell you much more about that, but I really did want to finish the tale of pregnancy and birth. Ahem:

As the bump grew and strangers began to look at me differently, I began to try to get life into order for this huge change. I wonder if those new and different stares — softened eyes, a willingness to slow down, smiles you never would have received before, people holding the door open way more often, and a look that I now realize is special to parents as they remember that whole process — are also meant to spur you forward, to make you prepare.

I had no idea how much things would change.

But I knew they would change. And so the preparations began. The most obvious was at school, where walking up and down the stairs became a concerted effort, instead of the quick run and joy it had been prior. I made every effort to keep walking those stairs (58 of them up to the third floor) as much as possible, and probably due to the size of that school, and partially due to prenatal yoga, I remained in pretty decent shape overall. But my back would hurt and the constant hunger made things difficult. I didn’t have to pee all of the time, but way more often than before. I don’t know how I would have managed had I still been teaching normal, 90-minute classes. Yikes. It was hard enough as a normal person, but as a pregnant woman …. Props to those who do it.

But I began to plan for my replacement. I wrote a mini-book of instructions about all of the tasks that I did for the school, and never felt better about my role in that school than the day I finished it. Well, I felt useful, at least, though my role was as schizophrenic as they came, since I was doing all sorts of random things, from monitoring Accelerated Reader to running reports from standardized tests to meeting with teachers to running professional development to teaching two electives.

School has always been a draining experience, but it had also been energizing. As Gorb grew and began taking over my consciousness more and more, the energizing aspect of it lessened and lessened. I slacked a lot, going home soon after the bell rang to just sit and eat and sit and eat and sleep, every night. I was a complete slacker, to be honest. I kind of felt guilty, but kind of not.

The rumbles of the district were being heard throughout our school, as well. I was pretty sure that the coming year would bring some serious changes to our school, yet again, and, to be honest, I was so happy that I had a valid excuse to leave and not think about things for awhile. Chad and I made the decision for me to take the next year as maternity leave, since he would be starting at the big bad law firm and we could afford it. To be honest, I was relieved that I had an excuse as good as Gorb to stay out of the political squabbling and job hunts that I thought would come to my school. Ah, education.

Even more difficult was stepping back from MDPL, the nonprofit writing center that I had helped to create. It had been my dream since college, and then somehow a reality, with weekend workshops and summer camps and a board of really cool people. I spent every spare second I had working on it, to be honest, and knew I was pretty central to its functioning. But we all knew I would have to step back for awhile, and so we had a board retreat, complete with facilitator Leslie and lots of food. Leslie made me physically step back from most activities, in order to force the rest of the board to step up and to force me to not take things on. That was hard. It was a relief to see those cool board members step up, but it was so hard to let go of something so central to me and my identity and my passions. There were several times where I felt that tingling, burning sensation behind my eyes, the one that means tears are coming but I don’t want the tears to come.

It was hard.

There was a shower, planned by lovely Erin and held at Juanita’s house. Gorb got tons of gifts, tons of friends and family were there, and it was good to be surrounded by women who were happy that Gorb was coming and that I would be Gorb’s mother. The best part, beyond the wonderful casual atmosphere that Erin had made possible, was a dish of beads she found. Everyone chose a bead for me and Gorb, and then wrote what that bead could mean to us in a little booklet for me. The idea was to use the beads as a focus point during labor, like a rosary. I still get the booklet out and read it now and then. It was the best thing anyone could have done for me.

Chad and I — well, really Chad and his dad — painted the nursery a bright green. We felt so bold picking such a bold color, named something like Geranium Leaves or some other term — but my, it was bright. It felt like living in Kermit the Frog’s head, to be honest. But then we moved in Chad’s sister’s old set of furniture, refinished and painted by Chad’s dad a soft white. And we moved in the white crib. And we just knew Gorb would like it.

I am happiest when busiest. I know this about myself.

Today, not really in the right order:

1. I took a shower (you might not think this is an accomplishment, but it is). I had to take an extra-long one, too, since Elinor’s stuffy nose needed the warm steam. [sigh]

2. I ate breakfast AND lunch.

3. I registered a boatload of kids for MDPL’s next workshop. Speaking of workshops, this is Elinor and me at the last one:








4. I wrote all the emails I’ve been meaning to write for MDPL. This has taken me a week to do, so I am happy.

5. I made vegan carrot cherry breakfast cookies (see recipe). I would highly recommend these. The best thing about vegan things: you can eat the unbaked batter and not have that niggling worry about the possibility of salmonella hanging over your head. No eggs? It’s VEGAN!! And coconut oil is wicked cool. So is millet.

6. I made kale chips (see recipe). This cooking blog is my new favorite thing, by the way. I love Joy the Baker.

7. I made broccoli with sausage and grapes (recipe is in my favorite cookbook ever, _How to Cook Everything_ by Mark Bittman — no linkage).

8. I did *most* of the dishes.

9. I baked carraway rye bread in my bread machine and, for the first time ever, it rose PERFECTLY.

10. Elinor and I spend significant amounts of time nursing, of course.

11. I folded the laundry.

12. Elinor and I took all of the above-mentioned baked and cooked goods to Chad, who is working late. Elinor had a lot of fun in the board room that we commandeered for thirty minutes. (I do not know why the spacing is so whack and I wish I knew more html….):

First there must be bouncing.

And you tell me these are the best chairs you have?

Well, I won't stand for it.

I guess I could learn to live with it.

Hey -- they pay for your dinner?

This place is awesome!


















13. I ate dinner!

14. I worked on sleep training a little with Elinor — it took me five visits back to her crib after I put her down to get her to sleep. Not bad for the sad stuffy baby.

15. I watched _I Am Trying to Break Your Heart_, the documentary about Wilco, since I am excited about their new album, weirdly enough (I don’t own the last two of them …). Though I watched the documentary half-heartedly. Not because it was bad — I wish I had been more focused — but because …

16. I transcribed the MDPL stories from the last workshop (easier said than done, thanks to horrendous handwriting — and I used to teach middle school! I think I’m pretty hot stuff when it comes to interpreting kids’ handwriting, but I was bested).

17. I set the design for the last MDPL workshop booklet.

18. I began to clean out the front foyer closet. It is still in disarray. Oh well.

19. I searched, unsuccessfully, for the backpack I want to take to New York.

20. I took ten books back to the library.

It feels good to be productive. I needed a day like today. Now I should go to beeeeeeeeeeeeed.

At MDPL camp Friday, the wonderful 6th grade girls thought Elinor should make her own art. “She can be a writer AND an illustrator!”

So they produced paper and markers, and — well, you can see the process.

Unsure about all of these teenagers.

The paper is produced.

Marker in hand -- and hand in Zelda's hand.

Piece de resistance!

The artist contemplating her tools.

Oh, poor Elinor. She is doomed to a literary life with a momma like me.

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.

The last two summers, I have, almost single-handedly, planned and run MDPL’s two week-long summer camps. It has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Nevertheless, I couldn’t do that this year. Another board member took on the challenge and is doing quite well with it.

I still wanted to be there for some of it. I thought that Elinor and I would drop by around 9 this morning, when things got started, see the kids, and then head home. I didn’t think that would be too stressful of a day for the munchkin, though I know that’s hard to determine. My dilemma these days is being aware of what is too much — and too little — for a creature who is only 104 days old (!), and balancing that with my increasing need to feel productive, whatever the heck that is.

But last night I had horrible dreams. I was running all over town for MDPL — and then running from and fighting bad guys, which always happens in my dreams — and I would leave Elinor in her carseat, then get sidetracked and realize it had been 15 or 30 or 60 minutes. Once I was just picking up an item and the bad guys tried to keep me there, even though I was TRYING to get back to my baby. To top it all off, at one of the MDPL sites a mother (ahem) was upset and threatening to sue MDPL, and all I wanted was to get back to Elinor. Her little face in her carseat, chewing on her monkey toy, was so vivid.

Nevertheless, this morning I was hesitant.

7:45 Elinor and I wake up. She nurses and falls back asleep. Standard. I eat and dress.

8:45 Elinor wakes up. I feed her a little and then sit her in her poop chair as I finish loading the car. [N.B. Her poop chair is a little bouncer seat. The angle is just right so that, if we time it well, she poops while sitting there. It’s magical, in a way, especially if you are waiting for the next inevitable diaper change so that, hopefully, the baby will not sit in her poop for long. Ahhhhh.]

9:00 Finished, I go to Elinor to change her diaper. We are a little late, but no biggie. We are on infant-time.

9:02 Holy crap, literally. There is poop all over — on the diaper cover, running up her back, down her legs. Oh no! She flails, and poop is now on her onesie and all over her hands and feet. She laughs and gives me a huge grin. I laugh, but in trying to control the situation, there is poop on my hands, as well.

9:05 I give up.

9:12 Elinor is in her bathtub. Sometimes that’s the best cleaning remedy. She needed one, anyway.

9:18 Drying off in her cute towel.

9:23 New diaper.

9:26 Hungry again — nursing again.

9:37 Dressing the baby in cute Hawaiian outfit.

9:39 Oh! She is so cute! I succumb and play with her feet and kiss her cheeks.

9:42 Grab the diaper bag. Grab the baby. Car keys? Water bottle? Blanket for baby? Sunglasses? Change for parking meter?

9:44 Run back inside for blanket.

9:54 Arrive at campus. There is construction! I cannot park where I thought I would park! Grumble and grumble, get the baby into the baby carrier and cover her face from the Colorado sun — she grumbles but then seems to like looking at things. Sun shade up. Grab diaper bag and bag of games for summer camp.

9:58 Walk half a block, only to realize I forgot to pay the meter. Under-breath curses. I am beginning to sweat through the carrier, and I can feel Elinor’s warm little body, too.

10:01 The parking pay-thingy is broken. I grumble, Elinor grumbles and squeaks, and we walk to the next one, then back to the car, then back to the path to the writing center. It is a grumbly morning for us.

10:12 Arrive at summer camp. The kids love Elinor’s hair. Who doesn’t? We hang out, Elinor cries, we hang out in the hall, we hang out with the kids, we change a diaper, we leave the games. Elinor was happy once out of the carrier and once her sweat (my sweat?) had dried from all of that walking — and then I had to put her right back in the carrier. She is a little trooper.

11:04 In car. Elinor doesn’t like her carseat but consents to gum her monkey.

11:14 Great parking space at the library. Drop off books, pick up books, library woman loves Elinor and hopes her eyes stay blue. “Such an exotic combination!” I love people who love my baby.

11:28 Home again, jiggety-jig-jig. Nursing!

Was that too much for the little one? She grumbled and cried some, but her eyes were big and observant as we walked, and met lovely teenaged writers, and walked through the library. At home she nursed like crazy and slept a little. She’s sleeping now as I eat my coconut shrimp (a little salty — the soy sauce was over the top). I can’t tell. *I* was stressed. I’m sure she’s attuned to me enough to get stressed out, too. Perhaps if I just calmed down about her little body in the heat, and looked at my sweat on her as another cooling agent …. It wasn’t enough time in the real world for my normal-person-brain, but it was plenty of time for my mom-brain.

The catch: the more we venture forth, the easier it will be. But getting to that point … ouch. Poop all over.