Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Toddler Notes

Scribbling these down electronically so I won't forget them, ever ...

- Anne loves parmesan cheese. She calls it "Paw Paw cheese."

- Every night, she and I snuggle up in our new oversized armchair and read. When she's ready for her reading session, she comes to me and says, "Mommy, book-a-couch?" If she wants to read in bed later, she says, "book-a-bed?"

- Like clockwork, she started over-using the words "no" and "mine" on her second birthday. Weird.

- "Mommy stay." That's what she says whenever I tell her I have to leave for work. Breaks my heart.

- "Mommy, no puter!" That's what she says whenever I take out my laptop. I'm taking the hint and trying not to do computer work when I could be playing with her.

- "No bath." "No brush teeth." "No water." "No food." It's as if she's decided to insert "no" in front of every word in her vocabulary. (Every word except "chocolate cake.")

- Last night, she was working on some puzzles she'd gotten for her birthday. They are a little advanced for her, and she was having some trouble figuring them out. She'd get a couple of pieces, and then she'd get stumped. "Can you find the piece with the monkey on it?" I would ask helpfully. She would think a minute, and then turn and pick up a different puzzle. "Maybe here?" "Maybe this one?" (I think this was her way of subtly hinting that she wanted to do a different puzzle.)

- Her most requested food is chocolate cake. Her most requested drink is orange juice. She is definitely her mother's child. I probably got her addicted to OJ while she was in the womb because I drank gallons of it throughout my pregnancy.

- This morning, she wanted to bring her blanket downstairs. Since I didn't want her tripping over the blanket on the steps, I offered to help her carry it. "Okay," she agreed, and held up a corner of the blanket. "I carry this part." Dan and I just looked at each other. I'm not sure why that seems more advanced than all the other sentences she's uttered so far, but it does.

- She's moved up to the two-year-old class at preschool. She's now tinier and younger than all her classmates. She seems to be doing pretty well, though. Intellectually, it's a better fit for her. (Is it proper to use the word "intellectually" when referring to a two-year-old's mind?)

That's all I can think of for now. I'm sure I'll write more later.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Couple of Pictures

Anne with her birthday cake


Crawling in her tunnel, a present from GG and Paw Paw

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ready To Start Living Again

Anne’s school semester ended today. My school semester ended last Monday. My tech writing job ends on Wednesday.

I am so ready to start living again.

Tomorrow is Anne’s birthday party (six days after her actual birthday), and I have no clue what I’m getting her. The extent of the planning I’ve done has been to order a cake because I knew I wouldn’t have time to bake one. I never even got around to inviting anyone outside of a few family members who would have understood if I’d had to cancel at the last minute.

Of course, I'll be working at the tech writing job in the morning. The house is a wreck, so I'm hoping the Hubster will be able to get it cleaned while I'm at the office. At some point, I need to go get some balloons. (Anne calls them "bloons." She loves "bloons.") And I need to get some crusty bread. And a birthday present, which I’ll need to wrap, of course. And I’m supposed to make soup, too. All of this at some point between work and the party.

I’m seriously having one of those “I-suck-as-a-mom” moments—moments that I’ve had entirely too often in the two years I’ve been a mom.

Anne was sick this morning, so I stayed home with her. At one point, we were watching Elmo, and she patted my leg. “Thank you, Mommy,” she said.

“For what, Miss Anne?”

“Mommy stay home. I like Mommy home. Thank you, Mommy.”

She’s the greatest kid. I suck as a mom, but she doesn’t know it yet. Hopefully I’ll be a better mom by the time she can tell.

Starting Thursday, I’ll be a “stay-at-home-mom” for two weeks. After that, it’s back to school as an adjunct instructor. And no more technical writing. I’ve resigned from that job. I think my corporate career is really over this time. There are actually a lot of things I love about the corporate life, and things I love about that job in particular, but I'm relieved that it's almost over. I don't think I could take another season of stress and long hours and time away from thing people and things I love.

Things I love ... ah, writing. And piano. Running. Listening to music. Living.

Yes, I’m ready to start living again.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More Cuteness

Anne loves Kleenex, or “tissue,” as she calls it. She went through about 30 of them last night. “I blow my nose,” she would say, and then she’d blow her nose (mostly just air) into the tissue. Then she would hold the tissue to my nose and say, “Mommy blow.” I would pretend to blow my nose. And then she would do the same with Dan: “Daddy blow.”

Once we had all “blown our noses,” she would wad the tissue up and say, “Garbage.” And then: “Anudder one.” So we’d repeat the process with the next tissue.

(Funny, in my former life, I would have thought such an activity was boring and a little gross. But it wasn’t boring at all (Dan and I were laughing so hard we cried), and it wasn't really gross because there were no boogers involved.)

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We’re trying to teach Anne how to scratch our backs, since she’s the only member of our family who doesn’t have a nail-biting problem. She’s starting to learn. “I scratch Mommy back,” she’ll say, and then she’ll scratch it for about three seconds. “Enough,” she pronounces, and then, “Now Daddy back.” So she’ll scratch his for two seconds, then say, “Enough.” And then, “Scratch Anne.” So Dan and I will scratch her back.

Then we’re back to “I scratch Mommy back.”

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Speaking of backs, she has discovered the pleasure of riding piggyback on Mommy. I’ll typically gallop around the house with her on my back, singing “Ella Monk, Ella Monk, Ella Monk Monk Monk” to the tune of the William Tell Overture. (Ella Monk is Anne’s three-year-old cousin.) If I stop singing for more than a few seconds, she’ll pat my shoulder and say, “Ella Monk, Ella Monk!”

Last night while I was making dinner, she said, “Ride Mommy back,” so I let her climb on my back. Since I was doing whatever in the kitchen, I didn’t gallop around the room or anything like that. After a minute, she started hitting my shoulder and saying, “Ella Monk, Mommy! Ella Monk!”

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She crawls on me and kisses me and hugs me and says, “I love you, Mommy.” There is nothing like it.

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She’s started speaking in grammatically correct, complete sentences. My little girl is growing up.

Friday, December 2, 2011

More Cute Ann(i)e Things

Oh, dear. There’s just so much to write. So much to be forgotten, and I don’t want to forget any of it, so I’ll write some of it down now.

1. The Nose Honk – Like many parents, Dan and I each make honking sounds whenever Anne touches one of our noses. (Well, Dan honks and I beep.) The other night we were all lying in the bed, just laughing and tickling and having fun. I was saying something to Dan, and Anne put her hand on my nose. I didn’t think about why she was doing that, and I just kept saying whatever to Dan. Suddenly, Anne yelled, “Honk! Mommy, HONK!”

2. She’s informed us that she wants to be called “Annie.” This morning, I went into her room as she was waking up. “Good morning, Miss Anne!” I said, as I always do. She shook her head and said, “No. Annie, Annie, Annie.” (I’m still calling her Anne, as I don’t see her as an “Annie,” and she’ll probably decide in the next week (or the next decade) that she hates “Annie.” We’ll see.) (I did call her “Annie” a couple of times, and she just beamed.)

3. She’s peeing in the potty pretty regularly. I always swore I wouldn’t be one of those moms who blogged about potty-training, and here I am. Oh well. She’s pooped in the potty a few times. We might do a “potty-training boot camp” once school is out and I’m no longer at my tech writing job.

4. She goes to preschool now. I have lots of stuff to write about that, but I’m not going to write much right now.  Too many mixed feelings and uncertainties still. But it’s been a good move in many, many ways.

5. Miss Anne will be two in less than two weeks. She wants to have a Peppa Pig birthday party. Unfortunately, Peppa Pig memorabilia is super expensive unless you live in England. And we don’t live in England.

6. She has a Dora the Explorer fixation. She’s seen the show maybe three times, but she absolutely loves Dora. I can’t understand it. I can appreciate Elmo and Little Bear and Peppa Pig, but … Dora? I just don’t get it.

7. She’s also a Julie Andrews fan. This makes me very happy. She loves Mary Poppins. One day, I popped in my “Sound of Music” CD and started playing “Do Re Mi.” Anne’s face lit up and she yelled, “Mary Poppins!”

8. She’s also a Yanni fan. I’m not sure what to think about this.

9. At Kindermusik, when it’s time to put something away, the teacher will sing something like, “Bells away, bells away, time to put the bells away” (using the same tune as “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”). Well, when she’s in the tub and she’s ready to get out, Anne will start singing, “Toys away, toys away,” as she puts all of her bath toys up.

10. One night at Kindermusik, we were playing with scarves. The teacher started to sing, “Scarves away …” and Anne immediately ran to the bag where the scarves are kept and walked around the circle, holding the bag out so everyone could put their scarves away.

11. Another Kindermusik thing: Anne keeps an eagle eye on everyone to make sure everyone has what they need. Does one kid’s mommy have only one maraca while everyone else has two? Anne goes and gets her a maraca. Does another kid not have a ball to bounce? Anne gets the kid a ball. It’s the sweetest thing.

12. We got in a bit of a food argument the other night. She wanted to watch Dora. I wanted her to finish her broccoli. She loves broccoli, but she’d decided she didn’t want any. (This is really funny because my dad and I had a famous war over eating broccoli when I was about four years old. I won.) Anyway, I would say, “No broccoli, no Dora.” She went to the door to the basement and cried. “Dora! Watch Dora!” “No broccoli, no Dora,” I repeated. I felt so sorry for her, but I couldn’t exactly back down. Finally she came back to the table, grabbed her broccoli off her plate, and stuffed it into her mouth. It was the funniest thing—she had this look on her face that seemed to say, “OK, Mommy, I’ll concede this time.”

13. The next night, she wanted more rice but she hadn’t eaten any of her cauliflower (and she loves cauliflower even more than she loves broccoli). “More rice!” she said. “Eat your cauliflower first,” I replied. She ignored me: “More rice!” She turned to point to the pot on the stove. “No, Anne,” I said. “No cauliflower, no rice.” She sort of huffed, and ate her cauliflower. Then she looked at me: “More rice.”

14. Her favorite things to drink are “ah-ju” (orange juice) and “nuggie” (milk). She tasted my “Daddy Coke” (Diet Coke) once and made the most horrible face—probably not too different from the face I made the first time I ever had it, back in 1984. Then she looked at me pleadingly. “More Daddy Coke, Mommy?” I have no clue why she said that, unless the caffeine jolt just had that strong of an effect on her. (She didn’t get any more Daddy Coke.)

15. I think I’ve written enough for now. One cool thing that I don’t know if I’ve mentioned is that my daughter, who has been the spitting image of her daddy for most of her short life, has started to look like me. I never dreamed it possible, but it’s happening. It’s weird but wonderful. Wonderful but weird.

16. One more thing: She tells people “I love you.” Last night when she kissed me good night, she said, “I love you.” When she leaves preschool each day, she tells her preschool teacher “I love you.” She has no idea how profoundly that makes someone’s day, to hear a sweet two-year-old saying, of her own volition, “I love you.”

I love her. I love her so much.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December. It's Now.

It's December now.

Now it's December.

It's now December.

Those versions, and more, keep playing in my head, occasionally punctuated by a "Wow!" or an "I can't believe it. Is it really ...?"

Have I survived?

No. I have not survived. Just another couple of weeks, and I will have survived.

30+ hours a week as a technical writer. 40+ hours a week as an "adjunct" instructor--teaching part-time, yes, but grading is a full-time job itself when you teach writing.

In the in-between times, I played Mommy to my rapidly growing toddler. I've missed her more times than I want to think about. In fact, next to sleep, I think Anne is what I've missed most of all for these past few months.

What else have I missed? Oh, random things. Exercise. Eating. Writing. Reading. Piano. Hiking. All those things I used to do and haven't done much of for six months.

Oh, and I missed my husband, too. That guy who lives in my house. The one who's made quite a few dinners and given Anne quite a few baths while I've worked late at my tech writing job, graded papers, or (on the very rare occasion) come home and passed out from exhaustion at 7:30 p.m.

I haven't missed housekeeping. It's missed me, though.

I am ready for this phase of my life to end. This phase, which started last May and really cranked up in mid-August, has been pretty demanding. Add to that a few bouts with the crud, childcare woes, a sick and dying (now dead) cat, the usual money concerns, and a few students occasionally taking their frustrations out on their English instructor ... and you have a pretty stressful few months.

But I've handled it relatively well. Sure, I'm 10 pounds lighter because I never had time to eat, but that's not a bad thing. For the first time in my life, I'm looking in the mirror and thinking, "Wow. I could really stand to gain a few pounds."

When I was 15, I would fantasize about being able to think such things. So I'm not going to complain about it now.

I've fallen behind in everything in life--fallen out of touch with friends and family, and I haven't completed a single book this year. (Reading, I mean--though I haven't written any books, either, come to think of it.)

I think is the first year of my life in which I haven't completed a single book.

That will change.

I'm signed up to teach a few classes in the spring, but I've made a big life-change in that I'll no longer be working at the tech-writing job. Yeah.

It'll be just school and Anne and Dan and reading and writing, and maybe the occasional piano lesson, and a good run or hike every few days.

So life should quiet down. I hope. I really need it to quiet down.

I'm ready to move on to this next phase. I think Miss Anne is ready, too. And Dan. And George the piano.

We're all ready.

Who knows, maybe I'll even start blogging regularly again. (Probably not, but one can dream.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Beautiful Post about the Limitations of Language and the Universality of Experience

Wow, that's a long title.

I really loved "A Thanksgiving for Susie," a short piece by linguist Geoffrey Pullum, published today in The Chronicle of Higher Education's "Lingua Franca" blog. In it, he starts out with his usual curmudgeonly tone, but then the post shifts into something lovely and bittersweet.

Pullum is a contributor to one of my must-read blogs, Language Log.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm On, Like, a Mission

It was 1983, and we were in eighth grade. I don't remember if we were in Mrs. Bonner's speech class or Mrs. Bonner's drama class, but each student had to go in front of the classroom and make some kind of speech.

I don't remember what I talked about. I don't remember anything about the speech except this:

As I sat down, Kelly Bertrand leaned over in her desk and quietly said, "That was, like, a really, like, interesting, like, speech." For a moment, I was genuinely flattered that she'd liked my speech, and I started to thank her.

But the deadpan look on her face stopped me. When she added, "Like, it really, like, WAS!" I knew what she was telling me.

Practically every other word in my speech had been a gratuitous "like."

(Why do I remember this particular exchange? I have no idea. As I was a painfully shy eighth-grader, you'd think I'd remember the terror of the speech itself. But no, I remember Kelly's comment.)

In its roundabout way, it was good advice. I would have done well to listen to the message.

Almost thirty years later, the word "like" is the bane of my speech-making existence. I not a big "um" sayer, and I don't think I ever say "er" or "ah" when speaking in front of a group. But "like"? Oh, my goodness.

I hear myself saying it when I'm standing in front of a classroom, or when I'm giving an update at a meeting at work. I cringe when I hear it; I know it makes me sound immature and probably uneducated. But it slips out still, just as naturally as "um" or "ah" or "er" slips out for a speaker whose adolescence occurred before the early eighties.

Why do I say this? Why all the gratuitous "likes"? I don't think them when I'm writing. I certainly never use them in my writing.

One reason I say "like" too many times, is that it's a habit--one that has been almost 30 years in the making. It's not as if it's something I can unlearn overnight.

Back in my shy junior-high years, it started out as a coping mechanism, and I think it still is, to a degree. Even though I now stand in front of a classroom every day, I am still the introverted, shy person I always was. The whole "outward orientation" thing isn't natural for me. So, in addition to occasionally stuttering, slurring my words, and forgetting how to spell things when in front of a group, I say the hated word: Like. Like, like, like, like, like.

I have to, like, stop saying "like."

So, today I have begun a mission--a mission to eradicate gratuitous "likes" from my speech. I've already told several people at work to call me on those extra "likes" when they hear them. I'm tempted to tell my students to do so as well, but I don't think I want to go there.

I actually found a wikihow article on how to stop saying the word "like." Gotta love the Internet.

OK, like, let's Let's see how this mission, like, goes.

Monday, October 31, 2011

More Cute Stuff I Don't Want to Forget

All the cute things are piling up, one on top of the other. If I had enough time to journal every day, I'd be writing them all down. Alas, I must pilfer time from paper-grading in order to record these most important little moments of life.

- GG and Paw Paw (my parents) visited yesterday and last night. As we finished eating dinner last night, Anne started yelling, "Up! Up!" (Which is her way of saying she wants to be excused.) "Anne, say 'Up, please,'" I corrected her. So she said, "Up, please." And then I added, "Up, please, Mommy," and she said, "Up, please ..." and then, after looking at my mom, "Up, please, GG!"

- I made cookies last night. My parents must think I make cookies all the time, because I always make them when they visit. Thing is, the only time I have time to make them is when they visit. Anyway, Anne has a cookie at 9:00 last night, and then she wanted another one. I didn't want her to have too much sugar, but I finally relented and gave her one, saying, "Now, you need to share that with Paw Paw." She put that cookie in her mouth, started to walk toward Paw Paw in the living room, and then cut away and sprinted to her room. She wanted the cookie for herself!

- She can now climb the chair into her booster seat. Not that we let her do that, of course,

- She and I have a "little steps, big steps" walk that we do. I'll yell, "Little steps!" and we suddenly both start taking tiny little steps. Then I'll yell "Big steps!" and we kick our legs out to make big steps. Then I'll yell "Little steps!" again, and we go back to the little steps. It's a fun game, and we both love it.

- Last night when I was eating a chocolate-chip cookie, Anne pointed to my mouth and said, "Mommy! Chocolate teeth!"

- Speaking of teeth, she loves to brush her teeth. Sometimes she'll brush them two or three times in a row.

- Her toothpaste has the character "Little Bear" on the tube. I love hearing her say "Little Bear." It sounds something like, "Lidduh Beaw."

- Last night we had soup for dinner. It had pasta shells in it. My dad made up the word "Pasta-poosta," and Anne repeated it. It was so cute, so we laughed, so she repeated it. Again and again. "Pasta-poosta!"

- We'll get into these "yes-no-yes-no" conversations. For example, I'll say, "Anne, finish your green beans," and she'll say, "No." I'll say, "Yes," and then she'll say "No." Etc. After six or eight yes-no-yes-no's, I'll spring a "No" on her. She stops and looks quizzically at me. But she doesn't get tricked into saying "Yes"!

- She loves to play the piano. She loves music. I love this.

- She's actually starting to look like me, after almost two years of looking just like her daddy. It's amazing what a little bit of hair will do!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sweet Girl at Ella's Birthday Party

This weekend, we celebrated Anne's cousin Ella's birthday party. Ella will be three next week. Anne had a great time. She loves her cousin, her Aunt Megan, and her Uncle Stephen!



Thanks to Ella's paternal grandparents (B and Pop Pop) for this sweet picture!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Time

For the last couple of weeks, I've kept a very detailed spreadsheet showing how I spend my time, measured in 15-minute-increments.

As I looked at the pie chart showing how my time was divided between my four primary modes (work, sleep, "mommy"/family time, and "personal" time), I yawned and thought, "I'll sure be glad when December is over."

I won't give you the number of hours each slice of the pie represents,
but I will tell you that "personal time" got four whole hours this week.


I'm loving life, but I sure am tired. And if you're waiting for me to e-mail or call you ... well, you know why I've been behind in any and all social correspondence for the past six months.

I'm ready for December 12 (the last day of the fall semester) and December 31 (the last day of development season at work) to get here!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cute Anne Things


Just jotting these down so I won't forget them ...

- She loves to help me cook and bake. I let her add all the ingredients, and she likes to watch everything combine in the stand mixer. I let her smell the spices as I use them. Fortunately, she hasn't suddenly sneezed at the precise moment the spice bottle is in front of her nose.

- She did ruin one bottle of parsley flakes. Instead of sprinkling it daintily onto the raw tilapia, she played Whack-A-Fish with it. Fortunately, we were almost out of parsley flakes anyway.

- When we eat dinner, she'll hold a spoon of her food out to me and say, "Mommy hungry?"

- She spoke her first five-word sentence (that we know of) a few days ago: "I like more yogurt, please."

- She is so over Elmo. She is so over Peppa Pig. She's all about Mary Poppins now. This is one I hope she doesn't outgrow. I've certainly never outgrown it.

- She loves, loves, loves to dance. Her favorite dance partner is Froggy. Her favorite dance move is the old twirl-till-you-fall-down number.

- She is crazy about her grandparents, GG and Paw Paw. Her first four-word sentence was a few weeks ago: "GG have more cauliflower."

- Her taste in food is nothing like mine. She eschews most sweets and would rather munch on a raw onion or celery stalk than on a candy bar. (Let's hope she stays this way!)

- She's not a complete health nut. She loves butter and would eat it by the stick if we let her.

- She loves jelly, too. If we give her jelly toast, she licks all the jelly off, and then hands us back the toast, asking for "more."

- We definitely have a little extrovert on our hands. Weird to think an extrovert could come from my loins. She definitely gets that from her daddy.

- She's started to sing! She's always loved music, but she's actually trying to sing now, and it's so cute! She does a decent "Do, re, mi, fa," and can sing the "oh-oh-oh-oh" between verses in "Alouette." (And she is so cute when she points to her mouth and says, "la bouche"!)

- On Oct. 6, she and I went to the store to get her Uncle Ghent a birthday card. She picked one out for him. It was a cute card, with a picture of a cat who looked like our Beau on the cover. When we got home, I did as I often do with birthday cards: I put it on the table and promptly forgot about it. A week and a half later, Anne said she wanted to call her Uncle Ghent (which was odd because, of all the people in my family, she sees/knows him the least). When he picked up the phone, she said, "Birthday card!" She ran to the table, where the birthday card was still sitting. So, we mailed him his birthday card. A week or so late.

- It is so cute to hear her say certain words and phrases. "Alouette" is one, and so is "cauliflower." And "alligator." And "chocolate cake." And "pretty please," as well as "please, mommy."

- Speaking of "mommy," I think she says this word an average of 270 times every five minutes.

- She adores her almost-three-year-old cousin Ella. Anne's first spontaneous "I love you" was to her last week.

- Anne is so unbelievably friendly. She says "hi" to everyone. And if a child is crying or otherwise looks unhappy, she offers her Froggy to the child. As if, since Froggy always makes her feel better, he must have the same effect on others!

And now? For an update on me? Shall we use bullet points on this one as well?

- I'm buried. Buried in school work and buried in tech writing work, so deep that I hardly know which way is up.

- I seem physically and mentally incapable of uttering the words, "Not now, sweetie, Mommy's busy working." If I'm grading papers and Anne wants to dance to "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," well, by golly, I'm going to dance.

I have a class to teach at 8:00, eight hours of tech writing after that, and 18 papers to grade before noon tomorrow. Yeah, it'll all get done.

Unless Anne wants to dance.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Those Three Words

Today, Anne told me "I love you."

Unprompted.

For the first time.

I didn't cry, but I did feel like my heart was going to burst.

Her daddy and I are so blessed.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Just Some Pictures

Life is moving along much too fast for comfort, but we did get to enjoy a few days of R&R in Myrtle Beach for the Labor Day weekend. We stayed with our friends Pat and Analisa, who live in Surfside, and we got to meet some relatives: Dan's second cousin, Dawn; her husband, Logan; and their cute baby, Mia. Mia is two weeks older than Anne and they look a lot alike--except that Mia's taller and doesn't have Anne's sun-hating fair skin. Here are a few pictures from the weekend.

Anne working on her "beach bunny" look
She loved the beach and did NOT want to leave!
Mia and Anne, chilling at the wine festival.
Sleepy cousins (Actually, sleepy first cousins twice removed,
or second cousins once removed, or something like that.)
Life is hurried, but good.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cute Things to Remember

I'm writing these down now because I keep forgetting to write them down, and I don't want to forget them. Ever.

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Miss Anne got so upset because I wouldn't let her drive the van home after I picked her up one afternoon. I think my mistake was in letting her sit in the driver's seat before we left, marveling at her cuteness as she pretended to turn the wheel and hummed "vroom, vroom." But then it came time to put her in the car seat, and she protested.

Boy, did she protest, and back-archingly so (similar to this).

I finally got her into the car seat and we started home. The entire way, she bawled, "I drive! I drive! I DRIVE!" (Actually, "I dwive! I dwive! I DWIVE!")

Really, it was adorable. And heart-wrenchingly pitiful. When we got home, I let her drive her Cozy Coupe. She was somewhat, though not totally, satisfied with that.

I didn't think I'd have to deal with these kinds of struggles for another fifteen or so years.

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Anne loves lotion. She loves to put it on her toes, her knees, her hands, and her Daddy.

When we're doing lotion at night, she'll yell, "Daddy! Daddy!" And Daddy comes in from whatever he's doing so she can rub lotion on his hands. By "rub," I mean put a dot of lotion on his hand and spread it a bit with one tiny finger. And then repeat with another dot of lotion. And another. And then sometimes she'll say "Toes!" which means she wants to put lotion on his toes. One dot of lotion per toe. So he complies because he's a good daddy.

But he'd better not dare try to dispense the lotion into her hand so she can put it on him. Lotion-dispensing is Mommy's job. It's always Mommy's job.

While she's applying lotion to her Daddy's hands and feet, she counts his fingers and toes. So cute. So stinking cute.

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Her favorite phrase these days is "I try." Or, to be more phonetically accurate, "I twy." She wants to do everything herself, including putting her diaper on and applying her diaper rash cream. And she gets vehement: "I twy! I twy! I twy! I TWY!!"

So we let her twy. Most things, at least. Not driving or applying butt paste, though.

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Ahh. There, I wrote it all down. And here's a somewhat recent picture for everyone:




Yes, she is still the spitting image of her daddy.

The New Normal

Usually, you hear people talking about “the new normal” after someone has died. But I’ve discovered a whole “new normal” in the past year and a half.

Anne is now twenty months old, or close to it. I’m working two jobs, not because I want to but because I have to. This is part of the new normal. It’s the way things are going to be for a while.

Last week, I created a schedule showing when I would work at my tech-writing job, when I would work at my teaching job, and when I would do mommy/family things. “Mommy/family things” pretty much filled in whatever spaces weren't occupied by the 50-60 hours a week devoted to my teaching and tech-writing jobs.

My husband looked at the schedule and commented, “But you haven’t left any free time for yourself.”

Friends, it was the strangest thing. It was like he’d spoken to me in a foreign language. “Free time? What is this ‘free-time’ phenomenon you are talking about? I am supposed to have this ‘free time’ thing somewhere in my schedule?”

Believe me, I’m not writing this to sound like a mommy-martyr (or a work-martyr, or any kind of martyr). I just seriously had to slow down and process what he’d said. The concept of giving myself “free time” has become utterly foreign, at least for now, and for the near future.

And that, friends, is part of the new normal around here.

It’s the normal for any mom of a toddler, I would guess—and even more so for moms of multiple toddlers. And even, even more so (I think, though I could be wrong) for those moms who work full-time outside the home. (And I can't imagine how hard it must be for single moms who are all of the above.)

School begins soon, and my life is going to ricochet into warp speed when it does. (I don’t think that sentence made any sense, but I like the sound of it--linguistically speaking, if not emotionally.) I’ll be working 30 hours a week (hoping to cap it at 30) on software documentation, and I’ll spend the other 25 or 30 teaching sixty or so students—planning their classes, reviewing their homework, grading their drafts (with copious comments, of course!), and generally guiding them to become better writers.

Wow, just re-reading that paragraph, I'm amazed to think of how life, and priorities, have changed in the last few months.

Until this summer, I would read the blogs by women I found through Ann Voskamp’s wonderful blog (the Multitude Mondays and the Walk with Him Wednesdays), and I would imagine I was “one of them.” And with that imagining would come unbearable angst because, in truth, I am nothing like them—stay-at-home, home-schooling Christian moms who, while subtly lamenting about how they never have time to themselves, seem to have plenty of time to write beautiful blog posts almost daily, photograph countless bits and pieces of their daily lives, scrapbook and craft, clip coupons, garden, read books, write books, go to blogging conferences, guest-post for their fellow bloggers, and often leave copious (there’s that word again) comments on the blogs of others.

I loved these bloggers (or some of them), and I made time to read their blogs. I also made time to blog myself occasionally, but it was always time pilfered from something else: from my family (or my household chores, or sleep) if I blogged at night, and from my much-needed work breaks if I blogged during the day. I wasn’t like these bloggers.

And then I started getting these weird junior-high feelings of not fitting in.

And it wasn't just lifestyle. When I was honest with myself, I acknowledged that I was also too skeptical, and too cynical, to “fit in,” spiritually speaking.

So I stopped trying. It's like a weight has been lifted.

I've also stopped grieving the fact that I see so little of my daughter. I could keep doing that, but it's a problem that can't be fixed right now, and all the grieving does is depress me.

Oh, and I've tried to stop getting bitter or depressed when hearing a stay-at-home mom comment that she “really needs a break from the kids.” A simple eye-roll should suffice, shouldn't it?

OK, seriously ...

We all have different lives, different struggles, different challenges. I’m coming to accept that I have my own challenges in this stage of my life, and that I need to deal with my own life instead of wishing it were something different.

I think I’ve begun to embrace this "new normal" in a way I hadn’t before. In fact, it was at that moment of metaphorical embrace that the term “the new normal” came to mind. Or perhaps it was when I realized this was indeed the “new normal” that I became free to quit fighting where I am now.

This weekend, I said something to Dan about how “our biggest mistake was buying our house before the first one sold.” It did, after all, seem like so many problems, building up to my not being able to be with my little girl more, stemmed from that fateful decision.

“There are no mistakes,” he said. “There’s just life, and accepting what it is, and moving on.” (I’m not quoting him exactly. But it was something like that.)

No mistakes. Just life. Perhaps there is a God who planned for things to happen this way, or who at least, in His grace, has allowed things to turn out all right despite my unwise decisions, has allowed me to stay out of the nut house thus far. Perhaps it’s just life. My spiritual-skeptical self goes back and forth.

Whatever it is, I’ve come to a much better place than I was six months ago, or even three months ago. School has been good for me—good for getting my priorities back in order, good for allowing me to use my natural teaching abilities and to play with words and literature in the process.

And that’s the new normal. It isn’t the normal I would have picked if I’d had a choice, but it’s working.

To provide some breathing-room in my crazy schedule, I've begun the soul-feeding practice of composing haikus in my head whenever I can. I'm doing these in the spirit of an old blog-friend, I guess, only my poems are not quite as poetic as his. So I’ll end this relatively serious post on a light note and share one I wrote yesterday while in line at the pharmacy. I hope it will bring a smile to your faces, dear readers:

PMS—only
Three syllables, yet it hogs
My entire haiku

Happy trails!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Her Constant Companions

Anne set up her four best friends in the glider-rocker for our book-reading session this morning: (L to R) Froggie, Elmo, Monkey, and Froggie, a.k.a. "Other."


("Monkey" is actually a Brutus Buckeye golf-head cover. But Anne doesn't know that, so we won't tell her.)

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Vacation Relaxation?"

Much truth to this little chart on vacation and stress from PhD comics ...

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Good Summer

What do you know? The best summer I’ve had in years is almost over.

It’s the first summer that my husband has actually been home nearly every day. Sure, he’s had a few week-long business trips and too many late-night meetings, but he’s been home. As in, not at camp for ten weeks straight. It’s been heavenly.

Also, Little Boo has gotten to be so much fun, and so cute. Sure, she was fun and cute last summer, but she has reached ever-greater heights of fun and cuteness since then. I don’t even know what to write about the Little Boo. It all sounds so normal—she loves to eat and dance and sing and laugh—but it’s all so wonderful. She has the sweetest, softest skin, and I just kiss her and kiss her and kiss her. She has the most darling little dimple, just below and to the right of her mouth. She still loves books more than anything, though I think my mom’s Book Nook (or is it Nook Book?) is a close second. Oh, and Elmo. She still adores Elmo. I’m actually starting to get a little sick of Elmo.

But, you know how songs that are played often at a particular time in your life will always remind you of that time? Well, Jason Mraz’s “Outdoors,” featuring Elmo and some other monsters, is always going to remind me of this happy summer. Always.

It’s also been a great summer because I’ve loved teaching. In May and June, I taught Expository Writing to a class of 17. It was a lot of work, getting back into the swing of teaching and having it be a compressed, five-week summer course, but it was so much fun. I truly believe I am a “natural” in the classroom. By that, I mean that it just feels so right to be up there, talking about writing, helping students to understand and practice different aspects of the craft. And I particularly love working with students one-on-one.

For the past five weeks, I’ve taught Literature-Based Research. The class is essentially an introduction to writing about literature. I’ve loved every minute of it; I’ve gotten to teach some stories, poems, and authors I hadn’t visited in a long time: Faulkner and “A Rose for Emily,” Welty and “A Worn Path,” Lawrence and “The Horse-Dealer’s Daughter,” and then Blake, Whitman, Hopkins, Keats, and of course Shakespeare. Yesterday in class, we watched A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the version with Kevin Kline as Bottom. I popped popcorn for everyone, and we just relaxed and enjoyed the show. Fun class!

The class ends Wednesday, and then I’m “off” for a couple of weeks. Then the fall semester starts. Will I be teaching? It looks like it. I’m going to try to work part-time as a tech writer and part-time as an English instructor. It will be a lot of work, but my life will be more flexible (and will allow more time for Boo) if half of it is spent on school. Plus, I really, really love teaching. While I believe I enjoy tech writing more than most, I truly love teaching.

Another benefit of teaching: I’ve found myself having glimmers of deep thoughts. I haven’t had deep thoughts in forever. I forgot how much I love pondering the meaning of life, seeing the world as one big metaphor, exploring subtleties of emotion, etc. For so long, even before Boo was born, my thoughts pretty much consisted of to-do lists, work projects, and the like. Oh, and numbers (figuring out schedules, counting down how many more tenths of a mile I have left to run, working to deadlines, minding the budget, etc.). But deep thoughts? Letting my imagination flow, “ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them”? Nah. Not for a long time. Until now.

Yeah, it’s been a good summer.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Why We Need Books

Johann Hari in The Independent:

"That's why we need books, and why I believe they will survive. Because most humans have a desire to engage in deep thought and deep concentration. Those muscles are necessary for deep feeling and deep engagement. Most humans don't just want mental snacks forever; they also want meals."

Literature and Life

From "Practicing Medicine Can Be Grimm Work," an op-ed by Valerie Gribben, an English major and fairy-tale enthusiast who is now a fourth-year medical student:

Fairy tales are, at their core, heightened portrayals of human nature, revealing, as the glare of injury and illness does, the underbelly of mankind. Both fairy tales and medical charts chronicle the bizarre, the unfair, the tragic. And the terrifying things that go bump in the night are what doctors treat at 3 a.m. in emergency rooms. 

And this:

Healing, I’m learning, begins with kindness, and most fairy tales teach us to show kindness wherever we can, to the stooped little beggar and the highest nobleman. In another year, I’ll be among the new doctors reporting to residency training. And the Brothers Grimm will be with me.      

And He Has a Great T-shirt, Too!

I'd never heard of Taylor Mali until a friend sent me a link to this video yesterday. Now I'm a fan.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Some Anne Pics

Life is busy! No time to blog! But here are a few pictures from the past week or two.

Playing with shapes--she's gotten really good at this!

Can you tell she likes the Sing-Along Elmo that GG got her?

Walking her wooden frog. The girl LOVES frogs.

Reading with GG.

Feeding her baby doll a bottle.

Playing in the water at the park.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Post on Breastfeeding

Articles like this one break my heart. In it, Nicholas Kristof writes about how few babies in developing countries are exclusively breast-fed for the first six months9 percent of babies in Niger, 7 percent in Burkina Faso, and 3 percent in Mauritania. He writes, "The biggest problem is that many mothers believe that breast milk isn't enough, and that, on a hot day, a child needs water as well." That, and mothers often delay nursing because they don't realize that colostrum is liquid gold for a newborn.

Of course, to drink water in an undeveloped country can be, and is, the kiss of death for many babies.

I was surprised to read, also, that only 13% of babies in the U.S. are breast-fed for the first six months. I would have thought it would be more. To me, it just doesn't make sense that so many momsmoms who are able to breast-feedeither switch to formula after the first few weeks or months, or else choose never to breast-feed at all. Why? Why?

Speaking of whys, Kristof writes that we're not sure why breast-feeding is not more common in developing countries. He writes:

"It’s not clear why a human instinct to nurse went awry. Does it have something to do with the sexualization of breasts? Or with infant formula manufacturers, who irresponsibly peddled their products in the past but are more restrained now? Or is it just that moms worry that their babies need water on hot days? Nobody really knows."

I imagine it's a mix of those three reasons, along with who knows how many more.

Whatever the case, it's heart-breaking that babies are getting sick and dying when such things could be so easily prevented.

On a more personal note, Miss Anne and I are no longer breastfeeding. She made it to 18 months and was nursing for only two or three minutes at night when we finally stopped. Yes, I miss it. Does she? I don't know. I'm sure she does, but she hasn't said much. Yesterday, for the first time in over a week, she softly said, "Ba-ba" (which means, "Give me some milk, please Mommy"), but when I said, "No more ba-ba," she wriggled out of my lap and went to play happily with her puzzles. It was one of several bittersweet moments I've had in the last few weeks as our nursing sessions became shorter and further apart.

Hopefully mothers across the globe will become more educated, and the rate of breast-fed babies will increase in the future. Not only is it healthier for the baby, but it builds a wonderful early bond between the baby and her mom.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just Some Thoughts. Nothing Special.

It’s Wednesday afternoon and almost time to go to the office. I’ve been up since 5:00 this morning.

I have a love-hate relationship with waking up that early. I hate doing it, but I love the way I feel for the rest of the day.

When I started this teaching gig, I told myself that I would not get up at ridiculous hours to do school stuff the way I did when I taught high school. How many times did I go to bed at 1 a.m., only to wake up at 4:30 to finish planning my five classes for the day? No wonder I was an unresponsive mess by the time that year ended.

(Note I lasted one whole year. Yep. Just one. Now you know why.)

This morning, all I needed to do was finish making a worksheet I wanted us to go over in class. We used that worksheet a few hours later, and students told me that it really helped them. While I’m glad I had it ready for class, I can’t make a habit of losing sleep in order to do “just that one more thing” to make class go perfectly.

I love teaching. I love having two part-time jobs. I love the way my workday is broken up into two halves, two places, two lives. I love having limited time in which to do things; I get so much more done. I don’t have any sense of having wasted my time this summer, at either my teaching job or at my tech-writing job. It’s been good.

Strangely enough, despite the back-and-forth nature of my new life, I’m rested and relaxed at the end of the day. I feel like I have time to breathe. Anne and I have the most delightful evenings, playing and laughing and dancing and visiting the neighbors. Because I’ve limited my work hours, I’m leaving the office earlier and having time to really cook, and not just use the recipes in the “Superfast Suppers” section of Cooking Light. It’s been good. Something about this new life clearly agrees with me.

This seems to be yet another pointless blog post. So I guess I’ll end it here and head to my tech-writing job. I’m very excited about work these days because I’m getting to learn the ins and outs of SharePoint. Fun, fun! (Really!)

Hope you’re all having a good week, dear readers!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Taking a Break

School is over for the week, and I have a few minutes before I need to be at work. Time for a little writing.

Life is going splendidly. Things aren’t necessarily easy, and my smaller salary has made for some creative family budgeting, but things are good. I’m happy. I’m sure the antidepressants have a lot to do with that, but I’ve also been able to spend a lot more time with Miss Anne this summer. That’s been the best part.

Miss Anne is almost 18 months old now and is reaching new heights of cuteness every single day. She’s talking. I can’t understand a lot of what she says, but she’s definitely talking. She points to the light and says “liii” when she wants me to turn the light on. She points to the door and says “cat” when she hears the cat scratching at the door. (This helps me because I never hear it.)

She’s become an expert at saying “more” (actually, “mo”). She loves Elmo and alternately calls him “Elmo,” “Mo-mo,” and “Mo.” (I think she just likes to say “mo,” maybe because her best friend's name is Mo.) She’s saying a few two-syllable words now, where the syllables aren’t simply repeated (such as “Daddy”). At night, before bed, I’ll rock her and she’ll reach up to my face and point to my eyes, ears, nose, mouth, chin, cheeks, neck, and hair, and say, “Eye. Ear. No’. Mou’. Chin. Chee. Neh. Hah.”

It’s the sweetest thing.

She’s also putting her sandals on all by herself and is getting better at putting on her pants. If I help her a little with the legs, she stands and pulls them up on her own. Brilliant, huh?

She loves to dance. She loves to play the piano. She’s awesome.

So, yes, life is good.

School is going well, too. It’s been hectic, but not as hectic as I imagined it would be, considering the class (an eighteen-week freshman comp class squeezed into five weeks). It’s hard to believe the “semester” is nearly over and that I’ll be teaching class #2 of the summer (“Writing about Literature”) in a couple of weeks. Guess I ought to start working on the syllabus for that one, huh?

That’s about it for my update. I’m off to work now. Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Random Details by Number, and a Fun Elmo Video

Well, here I am again.

I’ve made a few life changes, and it’s left me little time or inclination for blogging.

1. I’m no longer a full-time technical writer. This is a temporary (summer-only) change, but a much-needed one. I’m working half-days at my tech-writing job.

2. As much as I’d like to spend the other halves of those days with my daughter, I’m not. I’m instead working as an adjunct instructor at the local community college, teaching freshman comp.

3. It’s a good setup, though we’ve had to make some sacrifices for it. I’m very thankful to my company for letting me do this part-time thing.

4. I really, really love teaching. My challenge will be not to push myself too hard. This is a five-week summer session (read: one semester of freshman comp, squeezed into five weeks), and I have 19 students in my class. It will be hard not to push myself too hard.

5. I’m back on antidepressants. Started last week after yet another mini-meltdown. I had a long talk with my doctor, who believes I’ve been suffering from postpartum depression since April 2010. I can believe it. But what could I do? I wasn’t going to stop nursing my sweet one so I could take Prozac.

6. So … we’re weaning. It’s breaking my heart, but it is what it is. Anne has stopped asking for “ba-ba” most nights and some mornings. I’ve quit pumping and taking Fenugreek. The end is near. Sniff, sob.

7. Once we’ve weaned, I look forward to resuming my coffee habit. And having more than one glass of wine if I want.

8. Honestly? I’d like to have about four glasses of wine.

9. On another note, my brilliant daughter now knows her shapes. And how to put on her sandals. And lots of other things I didn’t think she was supposed to know yet.

10. She’s also a huge Elmo fan, thanks to my mom, who showed her “Sesame Street” when we were in Louisiana on vacation. We no longer have TV, but we own three Elmo DVDs (and counting).

11. I might like Elmo as much as Miss Anne does.

12. We love this Adam Sandler video in particular. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hidden Doors, Secret Rooms

One thing I have always wanted: a house with hidden doors and secret rooms. Or at least a house that looked like it had hidden doors and secret rooms.

I mean, who wouldn't want a wardrobe that opened into Narnia? Or at least a bookcase that opened into a study?


Yeah, I was drooling over this post on 10 Coolest Hidden Doors and Secret Passageways.

HT: Mental Floss Blog

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fantasy SAHM-hood

I’ll begin by admitting that I’m insanely jealous of stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs) and spend way more time than is healthy imagining how wonderful my life would be if I could be a SAHM. These imaginings are probably outlandish fantasies; in reality, I think I’d probably go stir-crazy after a week of staying at home. Still, I entertain these fantasies. Every now and then, I get a real-life taste of them. I got one today. And oh, was it sweet.

This morning, Anne woke up with a cold and an understandably cranky attitude. I e-mailed my boss and Anne’s sitter to tell them I’d be staying home with Anne this morning, and then I took my crying, sniffling daughter to her room and nursed her until she fell back to sleep. I held her for a long time while she slept, just looking at those sweet, swollen, red-rimmed eyes and that raw little nose and mouth. Today I guess you could say she had “a face only a mother could love.” And how I loved that snotty little face. I just love being able to comfort and hold my little Boo.

After I put her in her crib (where she slept for two more hours!), I went to the kitchen and put the dishes away. Then I did some house-cleaning—something I never, ever have time for unless I take a lunch hour to do it, or stay up until midnight. I did some non-work work on the computer (another thing I never have time for). All in all, a relaxing couple of hours of SAHM-hood.

Anne woke up a few minutes before my scheduled doctor’s appointment. Her nose was still running, but her crankiness was much diminished and she still didn’t have a fever, so I got her dressed and we headed to the doctor’s office. (This was the OBGYN’s, so I wasn’t concerned about there being a bunch of sick people in the waiting room.) (No, I’m not pregnant. Not even close.) (It was kind of cool to be able to introduce Anne to my doctor, who hadn’t seen her since she was born.) After my appointment, I called Anne’s sitter, Angela, to tell her that Anne was feeling better and I’d drop her off in a little while.

“Don’t bother coming out here,” said Angela. “We’re in town, and I can pick Anne up from your house in a half hour.”

A half-hour. More than enough time to swing by Riverblaze Bakery for a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll. (Of course I hadn’t had breakfast because I wanted to weigh as little as possible at the doctor’s.)

So Anne and I went to Riverblaze. I got coffee and one of their divine cinnamon rolls for myself, and I got a hunk of French bread for Anne (because my weird child does not like sugar). We sat at a little table (I actually had her sit on three large cookbooks so she’d be tall enough) and ate. And talked. And smiled and giggled and kissed. And chatted with the bakery owner’s four-year-old little boy. It was the sweetest little mid-morning mommy-daughter breakfast date.

I imagined that, if I were a SAHM, we’d go on these little breakfast dates to Riverblaze more often. Of course, if I were a SAHM, we might not be able to afford little luxuries like that. But maybe we would.

There’s no big point to this story. It’s just a memory that I’ll treasure for a long time. And by blogging it here, I can re-read it every now and then and remember.

Angela has picked up Anne, and I’m getting ready to head back to work. I’m happy to go back to work; I’ll just be there a half-day, and then I’ll be with Miss Anne again.

It was a good half-day of fantasy SAHM-hood.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

One Last Post Before Things Get Crazy Again

It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything that I’m just going to hit some random points of what’s been going on in my life. My life is going to get busy in the next few days, so I’ll take advantage of this quiet early morning and post a few things.
-        Work has been deliciously slow. Now, I generally hate for work to be slow, but after seven months of long hours and much weekend work, I’m more than happy to sit back and relax a bit. I even left work at 5:00 on Tuesday afternoon. I haven’t left work that early in forever! After I picked up Anne, we actually had time to go to the playground. And I wasn’t exhausted—what a great feeling, not to be exhausted, and to be able to enjoy my little girl to the fullest!
-        Last week was our Louisiana vacation. It wasn’t quite as relaxing as I’d hoped; once you’re a mom, vacations are never quite vacations again. But it was so awesome to be with Anne every day. She loved it too; in fact, she’s been extremely clingy ever since we got back home. Monday morning, she didn’t want to let go of my leg. Somehow she knew we were back to our usual schedule and that she was going to be away from me all day.
-        My husband’s phone died as we were boarding the plane from Atlanta to Baton Rouge. Folks, this was his CrackBerry BlackBerry. Could this phone failure have been a gift from God? I like to think so.
-        I ate too much while in Louisiana, but I also managed to work out a few times. Not enough to burn off all those fried-shrimpy po-boys and chocolate eggs I consumed, but enough that I didn’t begin hating myself for being such a pig. There’s something wrong with that, isn’t it—that overeating on my part seems to be a justifiable reason for self-loathing.
-        But I don’t run just to ward off the self-loathing (though it helps). I run because, well, I love to run. I’m signed up to run a 5K later this month—my first road race in a year—and I’ve been training when possible (which hasn’t been as often as I’d like, but oh well). Last night I ran a 5K in 29:35 (or something like that), which thrilled me. I’ve been feeling good and enjoying interval work in particular (where I run slow for a bit, then fast, then a slow recovery, then fast, etc.).
-        I didn’t check e-mail much last week, and I read almost no blogs. It was wonderful. I realized how unimportant blogs really are to me. So when I got back home, I went to Google Reader and deleted about 60 blogs, leaving about 20 of the ones I really enjoy—blogs that I feel actually add something valuable to my life.
-        Speaking of being unplugged (sort of), we cancelled our DirecTV this month. We no longer have any channels—just a useless wide-screen in the man Anne cave. We haven’t missed TV yet.
-        Well, that’s mostly true. Anne discovered Sesame Street, specifically Elmo, last week at her grandparents’. She has a Tickle-Me Baby Elmo, but she’d never seen him on TV. Well, she freaked when she saw him on TV. Laughed, pointed, grinned, jumped up and down, etc. She even yelled “Elmo!”—one of her first-ever two-syllable words that aren’t a repeated syllable.
-        So I kind of wish we still had PBS so she could watch the occasional Elmo. Thank goodness for sesamestreet.org.
-        Except with the Internet is down, which it was last night.
-        So we read books and played ball instead, which was probably better.
-        I have a few pictures to share. Like this list, they’re pretty random. Enjoy.
Anne and "Gee" walking to the zoo

"Gee," Froggie, Anne, and me. She loves to hold our hands when we walk.

One of the main reasons I come to Louisiana: Zeke's Sno-Cones.
(Nectar for me, please!)

Zeke's, in all its glory

Anne. I thought this was a cute picture.

An alligator. No, this is not from the zoo. This was one of the "sights"
on a hike on the Lake Martin Levee Trail.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Wednesday Toddler Tuesday

I haven’t much been in the mood lately to write a Toddler Tuesday. Not sure why. But I have a few minutes, so I’ll write a few things.

Miss Anne is now 16 months old. She no longer looks like a little baby, though she is still quite small for her age. She has yet to hit the 20-pound mark on the scale. She has, however, gotten really good at weighing herself. She’s clearly imitating her Daddy, who weighs himself every morning. (No, Mommy does not go near the scale. Mommy is allergic.)

Speaking of Daddy, he’s been scarce these past few days. He left Friday morning and didn’t come back until Sunday afternoon because of work. And then he left Monday morning and didn’t see her awake again until today (thanks to two late meetings on Monday and Tuesday nights). This morning, when I brought her to our bed as always, she yelled, “Dada!” and crawled over to him and kissed his face. She couldn’t stop grinning and leaning against him and kissing him. He said it was a nice way to wake up.

She’s quite the kisser, our little Anne. There is nothing sweeter than getting a kiss, unasked for, from her.

She loves to sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” because she can clap her hands and stomp her feet. I added another verse, “If you’re happy and you know it, kiss a frog.” She runs to wherever her Froggie is (sometimes in the next room), grabs him, and kisses him. Then the brings him to me so I can kiss him, too. So cute.

She’s a little obsessed with frogs. When we’re reading a book, if there’s a frog on the page, she squeals and points to it. If we go to Wal-Mart and she sees a frog stuffed animal, she squeals and runs to it. The girl loves frogs.

She loves to squeal when she’s happy, too.

She also loves clocks (the round kind, with the hands). Whenever she sees one, she squeals, points to it, and yells, “Cah!”

She also likes to play chase, with me chasing her. I’ll say, “Better watch out, Mommy’s gonna catch you!” and she takes off running, squealing with delight the whole time. I run after her, and when I catch her, I hug her and she just cackles with glee. So much fun. It’s during our games of chase that my face starts hurting from smiling so much.

When it’s time for a bath, I’ll say, “Anne, are you ready for your bath?” Up she goes, straight to her room, to open the drawer where we keep her towels and washcloths. By the time I get to the bathroom, she’s standing by the tub, towel and three or four washcloths in her hands.

She seems to be allergic to something other than the milk, eggs, soy, cats, and dogs that showed up on her allergy panel. The other night, she had a strong reaction (hives on the face and hands) to leftover spaghetti, which she’d eaten a couple nights before with no issues. She did get spaghetti sauce all over her face and hands this time, which she doesn’t always do, so I’m thinking the sauce may be irritating her skin. Sigh.

Miss Anne is still breastfeeding in the mornings and at night. Some days she doesn’t seem as interested, but on the weekends we’re back to several times a day. I don’t know when we’ll stop—it may be next month, it may be six months from now. I’m in no hurry, except for the fact that I really need to be on antidepressants, and I can’t start them until she’s weaned. Sigh again.

Anne continues to love music. I’ve gotten to where I can play piano for her a few minutes a night, and she loves it. She also likes to have music playing as she goes to sleep at night. She actually goes to the CD player in her room and presses “Play” before she crawls into my lap to read or nurse. And if the CD skips, she gets a little flustered, stops nursing, and waits for me to “fix” it. Sadly, one of our oft-played CDs of “sleepy classical music” (that’s what it says on the cover) is dying and skips (and gets stuck) a lot.

I don’t need no stinkin’ “sleepy classical music” CD anyway. Tonight she’ll listen to a “real” classical CD from my collection.

Anyway, back to Anne. That sweet darling.

Actually, I think this is the end of today’s Toddler Tuesday. I adore Miss Anne and am so excited that my busy season at work is over, and I’ll now get to spend more than a couple of hours with her each night.

Sorry I don't have any pictures to share today. Scroll down to my most recent "Multitude Monday" post, and you'll see a few there.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Six Years Ago Today: The Beatles Invasion of 1985

I can't believe it's been six years since I wrote "The Beatles Invasion of 1985." It's one of my favorite blog posts I've ever written, so I thought I'd share it with you today. Click the link above and enjoy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Multitude Monday #18

Today I'm most thankful for the end of tax season (#300 in my list!). I don't know if that's a gift from God, but I sure am thankful for it. Combine tax season with development season, and that's about seven months of long work hours and time away from my little girl. I'm ready for a more flexible few months.

Dan had to work all weekend, but Anne and I still managed to have a wonderful couple of days together. Our exciting activities included a birthday party for a three-year old, and trips to the gear store, the health food store, the bakery, and the dollar store. (I think everyone in the dollar store knew Anne's name by the time we left; I must have said things like, "Anne, come back here," "Not in the mouth, Anne," "Anne, take Mommy's hand now," "Anne, put that back up," etc., the entire time I was there.)

Here are a few other things I'm thankful for these days:

301. dogwoods blooming

302. azaleas blooming

303. irises blooming

304. spring, spring, spring!

305. "Wild Geese," by Mary Oliver--a poem that has been on my mind a lot lately

306. Ella Monk--my sweet niece with the jazzy name and the beautiful smile

307. Sunday afternoons at the playground with Anne, Ella, and my sister, Megan

308. smiling so much my face hurts at the end of the day

309. the way Anne wants to carry her new Camelbak water bottle everywhere--just like Mommy

310. little girls in party hats

Anne at the birthday party

Making friends

311. profiles

No, she didn't keep the party hat on for long

312. the privilege of being Anne's mommy

313. healing

314. dancing

315. Schumann's "The Happy Farmer"--never one of my favorites, but Anne loves it, so I've dug out my old sheet music and am dusting this one off.

316. Anne's "funny face"--and how much it looks like my trademark funny face

I'll try to find a picture of my funny face for comparison ...
317. the brave American soldiers who fought in WWII (I'm reading a book about it now and am wide-eyed at how much I've taken for granted for most of my life.)

I know I ended that on a serious note, but hey ... I write these as they come to mind. For more gratitude thoughts around the blogosphere, check out Ann Voskamp's blog.

Hope everyone has a good week!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sad, and Counting the Time

I've been so busy, and feeling really sad. Missing my sweet daughter as we work these long (10-hour) work days this week. I hate missing that sweet girl.

Trying to focus on being thankful that I at least get to see her a few hours a day. It's better than never being able to see her at all. She's alive and healthy and happy (other than some general crankiness this week--seems she misses her mommy, too).

I love my sweet baby. I miss her. And I'm so ready for these long hours to end.

Today, tomorrow, and Monday. And then our company goes back to a "normal" work schedule.

I'm counting the hours. And counting the minutes (about 110 as of right now) until I can hold, and hug, and kiss my sweet li'l boo again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Multitude Monday #17

I had the most delightful weekend with Miss Anne. We spent all day Saturday together while Dan worked at camp, and then the whole family spent the day together Sunday. Friends, I cannot tell you how rare it is that we have a Saturday like the one we just had--where Anne and I can stay home and have nowhere to go and no one to meet. And it was nice to have family time on Sunday. Sadly, that's not such a common thing, either.

I also got a bit of free time. Sunday morning before church, I got to go out for a short run. While Anne napped that afternoon, I got to lie down for a nap myself. I didn't fall asleep, but at least it was "down time."

(One thing I realized while trying to nap: I have trouble falling asleep at night because, just as I'm drifting into dreamland, I wake up with something like being on the verge of a panic attack. When I wake up in the morning, I can barely open my mouth because I've been clenching my jaw all night. I knew this was happening, but I don't think about it in the light of day. Two hours of trying to fall asleep, and waking up in a mild panic every 15-20 minutes, triggered the memory of what happens to me throughout the night.)

I'm looking forward to a time (if one ever comes) when I'm not teeth-clenchingly stressed. All this decluttering has helped, but I still have a long way to go. Perhaps gratitude will be easier once I get "there." (Ha.) For now, here are a few items I was particularly thankful for last week:

271. weekends with no plans

272. learning to pour water (Anne's latest achievement)

273. healthy, home-cooked food

274. the way the sidewalk glistens in the morning sunlight

275. the sound of my own footfalls as I run

276. wildflowers blooming--particularly the violets

277. phlox, too

Anne and Froggie, picking flowers
278. one little curl


279. a husband who thinks I am beautiful

280. safe journeys home

281. a letter from my Compassion child, written a few days after her birthday, telling me of the specific gifts I "gave" her through a monetary birthday gift

282. how she signed it, "Consuelo, 10 years old"--forgetting she'd just turned 11

283. Romans 8:28 ... and the knowledge that it's all going to work out

284. Anne's two-year-old cousin Ella's compassion: When Anne forgot "Froggie" at their house two weekends ago, Ella took care of him (even taking him to dinner with them, and keeping him in her bed at night) for Anne for the entire week before we could get him again.

285. my husband's generosity. Sometimes it makes me crazy, but I'm ultimately thankful to be married to such a generous man.

286. the first warm days of the year

287. spending them at the playground with Anne

Yes, it was warm enough for a sleeveless top!

And sandals! Giddy-up, you old frog!

Climbing the steps to the "big" slide

288. my friend Jammie, and her journey

289. loving friends so much that their joys are your joys

290. and their sorrows your sorrows, and their tears your tears

291. Anne's kisses

292. Dan's kisses

293. oranges--I have been eating them daily, and they are so yummy!

294. Anne's little "twist-move" on the slide: a third of the way down, she lies down and twists over to her belly

Anne, ready to go down the slide
295. in letting go of books, being able to let go of certain ideas I had about myself ... and being okay with that

296. the way Anne laughs when I pretend to eat her fingers and toes

297. the way Anne laughs, period.

298. Anne's crazy hair that goes every which way, no matter what we do

299. when my mostly unsnuggly (unless you're Froggie) toddler wants to snuggle ... ahhh, it's the sweetest gift in the whole world.

I'll stop here, and save the triumph of reaching #300 for next week. :-)