Archives for category: summer

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.

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.

We went to church — the first time in almost four weeks. Oi. It is just so much more difficult and less rewarding with Elinor. Getting anywhere at a specified time is a miracle in and of itself, and then, within minutes, Elinor will make her hungry little o-face and I will shuffle off to the nursery to nurse, half listening to the sermon being piped in through an intercom, half dealing with my ravenous little girl. Dads of screaming toddlers will come in and will be slightly embarrassed to see me nursing, and will try to quiet their kids since Elinor is obviously falling asleep, and I will feel guilty. I wish I felt comfortable nursing in the service. Hmmm. Gone is the quiet contemplation of church for me — here is the vigilance of a new mom.

I did, however, make it back up for communion this Sunday, a first at church since her birth.  She actually fell asleep as we sang and finished out the service. A miracle!

Then we came home and both Elinor and I fell asleep for almost four hours in the afternoon laze. I woke to watch Chad do manly things, like take apart the ancient tile in our lower bathroom, clean the cat’s corner, and save a bitty mouse that Iza cornered in the laundry room after he left the outside door open. It was a cute mouse, and my city girl was at odds with my country girl over whether or not to let Iza do her thang. Chad rescued it. Ahh. He was productive; I was not.

By the time I had made a dinner, hung out with the little one, nursed her to sleep, and collected myself,  it was almost ten. I was desperate to get to the grocery store — our fridge was sorely lacking — and I decided to just go, at 10:30 at night, as Chad tumbled into bed and Elinor hung out in nod-land. Fun, right? The grocery store so late on a Sunday night?

It kind of was. It was nice to get in the car, open the garage, and be me, driving into the weirdly humid night, arriving at a parking lot nearly empty, steering a squeaky and slightly left-leaning cart down empty aisles as the stocking crew rode loaders past me.

On the drive home I rolled the windows down and thought about the me of fifteen years ago, so young on summer nights, hanging out in grocery store parking lots or BelMar beach, basements of friends, reading in my room. Even just last year, on break from the schoolyear, summer nights were times to stay up late and read books and make outrageous plans for change — easily forgotten in favor of just being. It might take awhile to readjust to this type of summer.