Archives for category: time

I need to write. I find my mind is tattered and unfocused, or obsessively focused upon unimportant matters. And though I rarely have time to shower, or to plan, or to knit, or to do anything that I consider *mine* these days, I need to commit to something for me.

And writing is for me.

I have been sneaking in small amounts of fiction writing, often at midnight or so, pencil in hand and headlamp on as C slumbers next to me. But when I say small, I mean *small* — paragraphs, sometimes just a sentence or two, before the thought of the night wakings and eventual morning waking bring my hand to the headlamp’s on/off switch.

I am going back to school. I’m not sure what it will look like, but I am going back. I hope that the actual teaching excites me more than the decision itself does.

But a vow — at least one entry a week. I can do that. Really, I can.

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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.

Just a month before Gorb was due, Chad and I spent a weekend in Colorado Springs for a babymoon. I don’t remember where we first heard the term, but the bigger I got and the realer Gorb became, the better the idea sounded. We would never be alone again, and we would be just us for only that month or so more …. Scary.

So a cheap weekend in the Springs sounded good. We had spent a night down there the year before for a wedding, and had been surprised by how much we enjoyed it. We really enjoyed the hotel, just a simple Hilton Garden Inn with a kickass breakfast and a pool. We don’t need much to make us happy, Chad and Amanda.

So we drove down. We wandered downtown Colorado Springs, past Colorado College, then to the museum of the American Numismatic Association. I had no idea Chad liked coins before we became married, but around the time that we conceived Gorb, he became a little obsessed. It’s not a bad obsession to have, I guess. I understand it not at all, but the ANA Museum was cool. The exhibits were nice and the coins are pretty interesting when you think about how old they are, and the elements which make them up, and the power and politics behind every one of them — not to mention the art, which is a weird thing in and of itself.

A guard bet that I was having a girl. Then he talked our ears off and we had to almost be rude to get away from him.

The next day we went to the Garden of the Gods. Neither of us had ever been there, amazingly enough. It was awesome. We walked all around it, marveling at the rock formations and loving their names. It was a nice but cold day, and it felt good to move. We bought a book for Gorb at the visitor’s center, the first we had bought for the baby.

The whole trip was nice. It was nice just to be with Chad, doing things for each other, being with each other without the rest of our responsibilities hovering around our heads. It was nice to walk with each other and talk about random things and to rest our hands on my enormous belly. It was nice to be together.

I forgot my password to WorPress. That means something.

I should be writing more. I’m fully aware of that. But things have been busy, and Elinor just doesn’t seem to sleep as much during the day, and every moment Chad is home I would rather spend with him …. Ugggh.

Used to be that I would dread the 45 minutes it takes to put Elinor to sleep at night. I would think about the TV I could be watching with mu husband. I would think about the writing I could be doing. I would think about the dishes that need to be done. I would stare off into the dark and count the rocks of the glider, willing Elinor to fall asleep.

Every day I would pray that I would get some time to myself, bargaining with God (if she sleeps, I will make sure we get to church this week; if she sleeps, I will do the dishes with pleasure, not dread ….). I would do everything possible to make sure that she slept.

And it was miserable, and I complained more than necessary to Chad and others.

But something switched. I am pretty sure it was when Chad and I had to decide whether or not to extend my maternity leave or not. I had been itching for some more adult contact, and perhaps working was the best way. Chad wasn’t sure if he liked his job or not, so I began making plans for child care, thinking about options. I even researched what teaching jobs were currently available, and then was so frustrated with the thought of my manic teaching schedule again, that I began researching NON-teaching jobs. A 9-to-5 job would be so much nicer, and so many seem to pay more than teaching, anyway.

But the more I researched, the more I freaked out. The thought of dropping her off somewhere just hurt. The time spent nursing her to sleep now felt precious, not a chore. The naps were not as essential as they had seemed before, especially if I could just stay up late to catch up on things and then sleep in with her. Every moment just seemed to be a gift, and I hoped that we were providing Elinor with a gift, too.

So when Chad felt a little more comfortable with his work, and I was secure that options might still be available if I needed them, I extended the maternity leave.

And I accepted that my job is with Elinor, now, and the time for myself will come. I might not be exercising or writing or even getting my MDPL work done these days, but I am so lucky to be at home with the little Mook.

It’s good.

It’s funny — Chad was reminiscing about how he used to be able to sit in front of the Christmas tree, basking in its beauty and contemplating how, on a level, it represented the divinity of Christ’s birth, and our continued celebration and devotion to that. But then his sad conclusion was that he didn’t know if he could ever do that again.

I feel exactly the same way. I have vivid memories of sitting on Dad’s ex-wife’s couch, marveling at the individuality and weirdly sacred nature of the Christmas tree. I am pretty sure that, on a few occasions, I even brought my comforter down and slept in front of the tree, just wanting to be near something that I saw as so special and important. The entire Advent season was one of joy in religion for me, and though a Christmas tree isn’t necessarily a Christian symbol, for me it did symbolize that entire period of the year.

But now I hate the holidays. Well, not really. But I dread them, and finding that innocent magic in them is becoming more and more difficult. I had hoped that having a child around would help me to find that joy again, but E is just too little. It was a joy to have her touch Christmas lights and play with wrapping paper, but the meaning behind it all won’t come for some time, and so I was left mired in my own conflicting feelings about the holiday.

I think it has to do with time, and money, and the awkward feeling of being an adult surrounded by other adults. Does that make sense? It’s never been easy to find gifts for my massive family. Each branch, each separate unit, is sprawling. Chad’s small little nuclear unit hasn’t even been a significant change to the overwhelming numbers of people that I would like to bestow gifts upon. It was fun trying to find creative, cheap ways to make gifts for family when Joanna, Emily, and I worked together — but this year I was lost in a morass of denial, so I just delayed the inevitable and, honestly, didn’t really get a soul Christmas gifts.

Part of me feels OK with this. I think Christmas should be about spending time with each other, not buying stuff for each other. But a larger part feels awful about this, because the gifts of cash and other things from parents and grandparents has been so invaluable to us, and when the heck am I gonna grow up and bestow such gifts upon others? Perhaps I will feel differently about my own kids — I KNOW I will feel differently about Elinor and any others that may come, actually. But I am an adult now, and a huge chunk of me wonders if I should just suck it up and be that adult, spending inordinate amounts of our income on gifts for the many that I really do love ….

This has all just been sitting in my head, marinating in the grey matter for the last few weeks.

Ugggh. I have a feeling that I will find parenting hard in many ways, one of them being letting go of how things have been.

Elinor is almost seven months old, which blows my mind. She’s been in existence, for us, for almost 15 months, as Gorb and now as her own crazy self. But I cannot get over how quickly things change for her. She learns new things every day, acts differently every day, and grows so much every day. I don’t notice these things until I look back through pictures, or stop to consider a trait she possesses in detail — or make huge changes in her life.

For instance, she was a great sleeper at three and four months, but that fifth month was rough. She’d wake me up for feedings at least two or three times a night, her little body needing so much more fuel than I had been providing.

She was still sleeping in our room, in her crib, just feet from our bed. We kind of liked it that way. When we woke up in the morning, she would wake with us, usually smiling. When I went to bed, she would wake up and I’d get one last feeding in before I slept. When she was waking me up three times a night, it was way more convenient to just grab her, get back in bed, and nurse sleepily. Chad has this knack for completely blocking out her sounds and sleeping soundly, too, so his sleep wasn’t an issue. We figured that once we started her on solids, and she was sleeping longer, we’d finally move her into her own room, a whole twenty feet further away (although two doors do make a huge difference ….).

So we started her on those solid foods. Even though only a quarter of what I try to feed her makes it to her stomach, it helped immediately. She would sleep a six-hour stretch instead of a three-hour stretch. GLORIOUS.

But I resisted moving her away from me. Chad resisted, too, so there really wasn’t a big fracas about the whole thing.

Perhaps Elinor was ready, though. She started putting me through some awful nights, where she’d wake up three or four times, or would wake up at four and not go back down until seven or eight in the morning. She would talk to us in her big, funny monotone, and she began waking Chad up. Two nights ago, after being awake with her from two to four and then from five to eight in the morning, I snapped at Chad when he paused to smile at her, smiling at him, because I thought he was encouraging her to wake up. Don’t worry — I apologized.

But that day I took apart her crib and reassembled it in her room. Then I cajoled poor Chad, actually home for one night, to help me move all of the other furniture around — our twin bed into her room for nursing, her changing table into the bathroom, her old beautiful crib down to the bordello.

And that night, as anxious as I was to have her in a separate room for the first time in her life, she slept a straight six hours again. I woke to every noise on the monitor, but twice woke to noises which would have meant a real waking, but settled into sleep again.

We had been contributing to her lack of sleep. She had wanted to chill with us when she woke in the middle of the night, since we were there. But now that we are not there (and that kind of kills me), she sleeps. Our desire to keep things sweet, as they were, was holding her back from the sleep she needed, and perhaps the little bit of independence that she needed, too. I could have kicked myself for the sleep I missed by clinging to a tradition that Elinor needed to eschew.

And now I sleep. And Chad and I have real conversations before bed. And, amazingly enough, it’s easier to get up when I am not on her crazy schedule.

Remind me of this when other big things happen. The baby gates are still in boxes … but that will come soon enough, I know. I’m breaking out the drill today.

 

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.

I kind of was being facetiously hopeful when I referred to myself as a law widow, earlier. I thought Chad was exaggerating.

But no. He began work Tuesday, and this morning — his very first Saturday — he was gone before Elinor and I awoke. It’s almost 10 and he is still working. He’s been gone late many nights this week, albeit for law socializing, but I’ve missed him already. We went downtown and joined him for dinner, which was fun and new, but I wonder how old it will feel three years from now.

It doesn’t help that we did decide to buy a scooter for him instead of another car. It was a good decision in so many ways; cheaper, cheaper insurance, free parking downtown, less money for gas, etc. But he has had to mess with his route because schoolkids were throwing pinecones at him (bastards!), and yesterday someone was an ass and almost hit him. I worry about him tonight, Saturday night, when he comes back so late.

It is fun to see him vroom away, though, and to hear the putt-putt motor when he returns.

It is a little lonely being without him so much. I’m being productive, though. I half-cleaned the refrigerator (ewww), volunteered for an MDPL workshop, finished the MDPL books from our LAST workshop, and made two more diapers. I handsewed one and used my mother’s sweet machines for the other. Can you tell the difference?

Cashmere, again. It almost doesn't fit her already.

Cashmere inside, wool/poly outside. Snaps are fun.

Ah — but you really wanted to see Elinor, didn’t you! I know the truth. So, yesterday’s photo from our late-night walk back from dinner with friends. I can’t believe she actually allowed us to make her wear the hat. Of course, she is a little miffed at us — hence the fist. Or is that just teething?

I was cranky today, though not thoroughly so.  Chad was going to hang out with Elinor, and my mom, step-grandma, and I would go see this movie. Apparently Juanita was very excited. I kind of wanted to see the movie, kind of didn’t, and I worked myself up to a truly pathetic cranky attitude before heading out to meet them.

Why? Now that Elinor is here, I am a mom 24/7. It’s my full-time job. I am always on call. And that gets tiring, especially for someone like me. I like to be flexible, and I like to be independent, and I value the spontaneous. But now I must budget my free time, and plan all outings, and getting out of the house with a 16-week-old is … not getting out of the house in the same way. As much as I want to help with summer camps for MDPL, while I am there I am constantly attending to Elinor’s needs, and that is what I am doing. Anything else is secondary. Grocery store run? Elinor first. Trip to the park? Elinor first. Sleep? Elinor first. Eating? Elinor first.

And I love this. Elinor is amazing, and I am privileged to be her caretaker. I know this with all of my heart.

But I also know that the three or so hours a week when I can leave the house on my own while Chad and Elinor hang out are precious, precious, precious. I need to be just me every now and then (which is why I am again writing this at 11:37 pm when I should be sleeping).

So … going to a movie I kind of wanted to see was not high on my priority list for my precious time out of the house. I would rather go out to dinner with mom and Juanita, or go grocery shopping as I so desperately needed to do, or sneak to a coffee shop and work on my llama book.

Mom and I met early for a beer. Juanita called as I was halfway done (o beer) — the theater had changed the times just this morning (we had planned the outing the week before, when I wasn’t as self-righteous or cranky about my time) and we had missed the first half hour already.

I tried not to be gleeful. But after realizing that I couldn’t go to a later movie, we rescheduled for a Saturday matinee. And then we went and had tea and gelato, and talked about kids and cats and education.

It was precious. No more crankiness from me.