Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Archer is settling Bear and Wild Man in for the night, both of whom are wearing their Christmas pajamas.  I'm about to fill stockings and put bows on packages.  Archer and I have to assemble the play table we got for Wild Man and Archer.  Then, we'll partake of our own holiday tradition and watch Love Actually, one of my favorite holiday movies.  Earlier today, we had some friends over for snacks, and then we made pizza, a Christmas Eve tradition that we follow whenever we're not traveling (although we managed to keep to tradition last year given our Italian location, but this year we did not have to eat pizza while sitting on the floor of a Rome hotel room).  All in all it has been a really lovely day.  I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Job search

It is now Christmas Eve, and I've finally broken down and looked at the job wiki, something I avoid at all costs.  It seems I will not be going to MLA this year as none of the schools I applied to contacted me for an interview.  You know what, for the first time I really don't care.  I put out around 26 applications, as I only applied to jobs I felt I was a good for.  Add this the fact that I only sent out applications at the advice of Dr. Writing and the new Dr. English as they felt doing so would ensure my current positions becomes tenure track.  To say that my job search was half-hearted is simply being honest.  Yes, I tailored every single letter to the department it was going to, and yes, I did some research on each school.  But my heart wasn't in it.  It seems in the last year I've become invested in staying at CU and in CU Land.  So while I would have liked to see all my friends who will be attending MLA, I'm okay with not going this year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mommy, Mommy!

It is officially the holidays at our house.  Wild Man had his last day of kindergarten yesterday, and to celebrate, we decided to let everyone stay home today, which means both Wild Man and Bear are home from daycare.  For the next 10 days I will hear cries of "Mommy, Mommy!" every five minutes.  I am really looking forward to some time with my boys--all of them.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Almost there

Christmas is only three sleeps away, as Wild Man reminded me this afternoon.  We're almost ready.  We've bought all the gifts for the boys, including a joint gift from Yetta (yes, despite being pissed I bought a gift "from her" to the boys; she'll pay us back at some point, I think).  I've baked two kinds of cookies, and I will bake at least two more kinds tomorrow.  I've also baked buttermilk cakes for all the teachers in our lives (for a total of five cakes); the boys delivered these to their respective teachers on Monday along with gift cards.  I've shopped for Archer, and I've ordered gifts for our parents, which I believe have already arrived.  Today we shopped at Costco, so the fridge is stocked.  What is left?  Tomorrow I have to make a quick trip to the grocery store for a few more essentials, and we have to wrap, wrap, wrap.  On Christmas Eve, we have to put together the boys' train table, which is currently hidden in our basement.  I also have to make sticky buns for Christmas morning and prepare a pumpkin pie along with two other yet to be determined side dishes that we're taking with to our friends who have generously invited us to share Christmas dinner with them (yay, I don't have to cook the whole meal!).  Archer has to make a quick trip to the liquor store to purchase some wine for Christmas Eve and Christmas day festivities.  We both have to help Wild Man and Bear compose their annual thank you note to Santa.  Beyond that, we're ready for the holiday. 

Ultimately I'm glad we ended up not traveling, although I will miss seeing my good friend Prudence, as well as our dear friends Supadiscomama and Harrogate, who now live about three hours from our families in Home State (thanks to some good fortune bestowed by the academic gods).  But we will have a low key holiday, which we're all really looking forward to. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oh, and . . .

I'm not sending out Christmas cards this year.  I just can't get it together.  I hope you all understand.

Grant writing

In my previous life, I worked for a small museum where I was responsible for event planning, fundraising, and grant writing.  While there, I had some success writing grants.  I never kept track, but I did manage to bring in a fair amount of money for various programs through grants.

For the past two weeks, I've been working on a grant that will fund a project I'm working on.  Writing a grant for an institution you're working for is much different than writing a grant for yourself.  As a writing professor, I teach students not to use passive voice, to be direct in their language, and to be concise.  While drafting this grant, I've knowingly broken every single rule I beat into my students heads, and I don't like it.  I know that this is how grants are written--in addition to my own experience, I've looked at quite a few successful grants from various other faculty members.  So I'm modeling my language on the winning grants.  But really, I'm having a hard time not following the rules I instill in my students. . .

Monday, December 19, 2011

Waiting and more waiting

I'm not very good at waiting.  In fact, I don't know many people who are.  I have, however, been waiting on something to happen for about 2 months now.  I've been told that this "thing" will happen, but every time I ask about it, I'm put off for various reasons, then reassured, "It will happen.  Don't worry."  Did I mention I don't like waiting?

Thursday, December 15, 2011


As I wrote in my previous post, we're staying in CU Land for Christmas.  Archer called his brother last night to tell him, as R was really looking forward to seeing us.  R was very understanding though, which eased Archer's guilt about deciding not to go a bit, I know.  Archer then talked to J, R's soon to be ex-wife (it is so sordid and complicated that I'm not even going into it).  He asked her what their boys would like for Christmas, and she offered a few suggestions.  She then asked what Bear and Wild Man would like, and Archer listed off a few things.  She then, apparently, said, "Well, your mom told me that if you all aren't coming here for Christmas, she is just going to put money in your checking account here.  That way you and M can get the boys what they like.  Is it okay if I do that to?"  Archer said, "Sure, that will be fine.  You could send a gift certificate though."

When he relayed this conversation to me, I was pissed.  Seriously.  How hard is it to go online and order a gift?  I've sent lists of things the boys like, items at every price range, as every single member of Archer's family has asked me to do.  How hard is it to go to Amazon and order a few items off the list?  You know, Amazon even ships to Canada for FREE!  Or how hard is it to do what my parents have done?  They shop early, so they've had the boys' gifts for a while.  My mom, who is practically agoraphobic, stood in line at UPS for 45 minutes on Tuesday afternoon to mail a package to Wild Man and Bear.  Do you know why?  Because, as she said to me, "I know how much fun they'll have opening the package, M.  Be sure to call me when you get it so I can hear them open it.  Hearing their excitement will make standing in line with all those people worth it." I said all of this to Archer last night, and he said, "I know.  You're absolutely right.  It sucks.  They just don't want to put out the effort. But I'm not saying anything because it isn't worth it."  And then I was pissed got him!

On one level, I totally understand this tactic.  I'm a big believer in choosing one's battles carefully.  But frankly, my children are openly disregarded in favor of R and J's children.  Why?  Well, they created the first grandchild, and their children live in the same city as Yetta and Pita.  In fact, that is the precise reason why Yetta and Pita will not spend a Christmas in our house--they can't leave #1 and #2.  To me, this is a battle worth fighting.  You can bet that Yetta will be braving long lines at the toy store and the book store to get gifts for #1 and #2.  She can damn well do the same thing for my children.  Or at the very least, she can know how crappy I think her plan to send money is.

As an important aside, I honestly don't care if they give Wild Man and Bear gifts.  Truly I don't.  They would be thrilled with a long phone call on Christmas morning.  But the whole explanation that putting money in our account is "easier for us" is pure bullshit.  It is easier for them.

It's official . . .

we're not traveling to Home State for the holidays. 

As I wrote last week, a leak in our roof has derailed our plans to visit family.  Getting the leak fixed has proven fairly difficult.  To make a long story short, Archer has called no fewer than 4 roofing companies.  We've gotten an estimate from 1 company.  Archer has made 3 more calls to said company to ask a few questions about the estimate, and we've never gotten a return phone call.  2 companies are no longer accepting new jobs for the winter; why, you ask?  Well, it is now December in CU Land.  The cold makes it difficult for shingles to cure or caulking to dry properly.  In desperation, I called a handyman a friend had recommended for us, and he's coming out tomorrow.  We're hoping that he will be able to help Archer determine the source of the leak.  Then, either Archer or the handyman can at least cover the area with a tarp for the duration of the winter.  Archer explained all of this to his brother last night, who said, "I just want you and M to know that I totally understand why you're not coming.  It isn't so much an issue of money as you don't want to leave your house for 10 days when you have a hole in the roof.  I wouldn't go anywhere either."  I really appreciated that R said that as Yetta has said, "The hole in your roof is ruining my Christmas." 

We'll be here, and we're fine with that.  I'm making shopping lists and ordering the few gifts I have left to send to Home State online.  We've already been invited to a good friend's house for Christmas dinner, and we'll have our traditional pizza and cookie dinner on Christmas Eve.  It will be a low-key holiday, which I really need after the difficulties of the fall semester.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Happy in Academia

Several friends are blogging about happiness in academia, prompting me to ask myself, am I happy in academia?

That's is a tough question to answer with simply a yes or no.  Thus, for me, the answer is yes, most of the time.  My frustrations with my job have much less to do with the structure or constraints of academia than to do with the bureaucracy of higher education.  I also get frustrated by long meetings (although at most of the long meetings I attend things do get accomplished) and annoying colleagues (luckily, these are few and far between).  That said, I've worked in lots other settings.  I've attended long, boring meetings and dealt with annoying colleagues in other work places before. 

For me, I love teaching, and I love my area of research.  I also like many other aspects of my job, including curriculum development.  I'm less enamored by the administrative side, although I've been told that I have talents in that area.  For now, I'm happy in academia.  But if I were ever to become unhappy, I would pursue something else.  I have no illusions about my situation.  I have been in the right place at the right time working with the right people.  If Archer had taken a job at any other university in any other location, our situation could have ended up very, very differently.  I do something that many other people with my degree do in the States but, as it turns out, that not many people do in Canada.  I am valuable to CU for that reason.  On top of that, I am a good teacher, as my student evaluations and my peer evaluations attest to (I have taken the rather unusual step of having several of my peers sit in on my classes and write me letters of evaluation, which I've had added to my annual performance reports; I have no doubt that these letters have helped me).  I'm lucky, and I know it.

So what is the purpose of this post?  Well, it seems that we don't often evaluate our job satisfaction.  It is very, very easy to get caught up in the daily aggravations of our jobs.  I am happy with my job, and I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Just for fun

So I'm blogging in an attempt to cheer myself up.  So far it is working.  I left my office for a bit at lunch today to do some shopping.  I bought the boys some Christmas pajamas.  Everyone gets new pajamas on Christmas Eve in our house, so I got these for Wild Man and these for Bear.  I got these pajama pants for Archer, and I picked out a matching t-shirt.  We also make homemade pizza for dinner on Christmas Eve along with gingerbread and sugar cookies.  What are your family's holiday traditions?

Christmas Boys

 Trying to get these two crazies to pose in front of the Christmas tree was almost impossible.  Luckily I managed to get a few shots of them in between their laps around the first floor.  Here, Wild Man is holding one of his Pokemon toys (a birthday gift from one of his buddies), and Bear is about to attack Pearlie, our cat.
 They are actually holding still in this photo, but neither looks pleased to be doing so.


I am grumpy.  I would love to be able to write an eloquent post describing exactly why I'm grumpy, but I don't think I'm up to it.  I'm grumpy and frustrated and tired for a variety of reasons.  On top of those emotions I also feel conflicted about a variety of things, some I can discuss here and others I can't.  I'm just having a rough few days, as the tone of my last few posts definitely suggests.

Yesterday, we received an estimate from the roofer.  He estimates that it will cost $1,350 to fix the roof.  This doesn't include what it will cost Archer to repair the wall and ceiling, both of which have sustained a bit of damage from the ongoing leak.  We were both a bit taken aback by the estimate, as neither of us were expecting the estimate to be that high.  The roofer included several things that don't have to be done now, so that may account for the high price.  Really, we just want the roof repaired so that it will get us through winter.  Then we can make more permanent repairs in the summer.  I realize this may not be the most economically sound decision, but it is a decision that means our entire savings won't be depleted.  I'm not comfortable with the current state of our savings account, which is adding to my grumpiness.  I am feeling increasingly angry that the house has proven to be such a drain on our finances immediately, and I'm also wondering why we even bothered to pay a home inspector $350.  It seems as though he should have caught many of these problems during the inspection.  Archer spoke with our lawyer, and we could take the inspector to small claims court.  It remains to be seen, however, if going through that is worth the time and energy when we're only likely to get part of the money back.  The whole situation is incredibly frustrating.

I'm also grumpy by the glacial pace of administrative happenings at CU.  Seriously, glacial.  I can't say anything else about it, but I've pestered all the appropriate people to no avail.  Well, perhaps to a minute amount of avail.  I am, however, still waiting.

Take both of these things and add them to the general holiday funk that I'm experiencing, and I haven't had the most pleasant of weeks.  In fact, I really contemplated just crawling back in bed this morning after I got the boys to school. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

As long as I'm procrastinating . . .

here is what we got the boys for Christmas.  We decided we liked this table much better than any of the very expensive train tables on the market.  Plus, every train table we looked out came with a large amount of track, which the boys already have in abundance.  I really like that this table can be used for puzzles, legos, or crafts, all things that Wild Man and Bear like to do. 

So much to do. . .

which completely explains why I'm blogging.  So what do I need to do?  Let's see
  • grade 22 research papers
  • read 3 weeks worth of blogs
  • finalize grades on 22 final presentations
  • write a mid-term
  • finish drafting 3 more job letters (don't even ask)
  • finish a draft of a grant
  • finish a book review
  • finalize a book order for a grad class (although I have no idea why I'm being asked to do this now as I won't teach it until January 2013)
  • file about 1 zillion pieces of paperwork
What have I done?
  • submitted my professional development expenses
  • entered grades into Web-CT
  • sent about 9 emails to students who are dangerously close to exceeding the number of allotted unexcused absences
  • bought gift cards for Wild Man's and Bear's daycare teachers
  • bought Wild Man's last Christmas present (this is the only thing he asked Santa for, so I felt like we had to oblige)
  • uploaded pictures to Kodak so I can order Christmas cards
  • checked out books from the library
  • ILLed about 10 more
  • proofread part of an article for Archer
So see, I've done a lot.  Just not necessarily the things I need to get done.  Oh well . . .

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Another vent

As of right now, we're going ahead with our planned trip to Home State.  While I was initially excited about this trip, I am no longer excited.  Why might you ask?  Well as Archer and I began to plan the details I suddenly realized, this trip means 4 days in the car with the boys.  Seriously, there is no way this is fun.  It is tolerable.  It is manageable.  It will involve endless coloring, reading the same 4 stories over and over, and lots of Backyardigans on the iPad or the iPod.  It will also involve packing lunches and snacks to save money, except it is December.  Unless we're blessed with stellar weather on the drive South, we won't be able to picnic as it is quite likely to be cold.   I really don't want to drive.  Really.  I don't think I can emphasize that enough.  I really don't want to drive. 

So why are we driving?  Well, Bear is now 2 1/2, which means we would be paying for 4 tickets.  I priced tickets a few weeks ago, and they are holding steady at $250 each.  Given all the expenses for the house we've had, we don't have an extra $1,000 in the budget right now.  If we go, we're driving.  I'm seriously hoping for a massive snowstorm the day we're planning to leave.

A small vent

Ok, so I first want to begin by saying that I rarely vent about my students in a public forum.  Do I complain to my colleagues?  Absolutely, but I have rarely vented about students on this blog or on Facebook.

Now, I am getting really annoyed by the number of people I know who publicly complain about their children's teachers.  Seriously, people, please do not assume that your child, whether high school or college age, is brilliant and that hir teacher is an idiot.  It is entirely possible that your child made a mistake and deserved the less than stellar grade the teacher assigned.  Not all teachers are stupid, just as not all students are stupid.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Something fun, but work related

So I'm about to start a new project, and I will be focusing on some fairly obscure writers.  This means I need to buy quite a few books.  But many of the books are out of print.  Luckily I get a fairly generous professional development account from CU, but still, I'm looking at spending around $500 for 8 books or so.  On top of that, I can't get any guarantee from the booksellers that I'll be able to get the books.  If they are able to get the books for me, it may take 3 months before I have them.  So I started doing some research on E-readers.  I was really interested in the Sony E-Reader, mainly because it isn't connected to Amazon (perhaps not a valid reason, I know) and because it seems very sturdy (I'm under no illusions that Bear and Wild Man won't ever use it).  I spent about an hour on the online store, however, and I quickly found out that I can't get half of the books I want.  So I turned to Amazon. I found this Kindle, and after a bit of research, I found I can get almost all of the books I want for free or less than $5 each.  I double checked with the admin assistant in the department to ensure I could use my professional development funds for such a purchase.  She assured me I could, so I've ordered it.  Hooray!  It should arrive before the holiday, which means if we do get to go on our trip I'll have plenty of reading to do without lugging heavy books with us.  It's the little things that make me happy right now.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

House Drama

I realize that I haven't blogged about the new house much since we moved in.  That is mainly because the new house has proven to need a series of expensive repairs.  First, the day after we moved in, we discovered a major leak in the basement.  Archer had to pull out the carpet and the padding, and then it took another 2 weeks to determine precisely where the leak was.  We had it fixed in late October, at a cost of $1,000.  At that point we made plans to replace the furnace, not out of an immediate need but out of a desire to purchase one that was more energy efficient.  We shopped and compared, and we finally found a local company we liked.  We made plans to have it replaced in January. 

In the meantime, we discovered what we though was a minor leak in the roof of the playroom.  Now the playroom was used as the den by the previous owners, and this room was added to the house about 8 years ago.  When we had our home inspection done, the inspector assured us the room (including the roof) was in great shape.  Now, we've had a very rainy fall in CU Land, and several storms have been very windy.  When we first noticed the leak about 6 weeks ago, we'd just had one such storm.  Archer inspected the room, although he didn't climb up on it, and he thought the wind had pulled a few shingles loose.  He made plans to fix it as soon as he could.  In the meantime, we've had a few more storms and the leak has gotten bigger.  This past Sunday it rained all day, and water literally poured out of this leak.  It was apparent this was more than just a few loose shingles.  So Archer and I dug through all the paperwork the previous owners had left us, and we found some information from a roofing company.  It looks like they repaired the roof in 2005, so Archer called them, hoping the repairs were still under warranty.  The owner of the company came out to the house yesterday, and as soon as he saw the roof, he remembered the house. 

It seems that the previous owners did as much of the addition as possible, including the roof, and they didn't do a very good job on the roof.  This company came out to repair their mistakes on the mudroom, which was built at the same time as the playroom.  The leak is not something they've fixed before, so the company is sending someone out tomorrow to go up on the roof to give us an estimate on repairs.  In the meantime, Archer has called our lawyer to see if we have any recourse, as this is clearly an issue that the previous owners knew about and did not disclose to us.  We doubt that there is anything we can do, but we figured it didn't hurt to call.  Once we get the estimate we may have to put the furnace on hold altogether, and we may also have to cancel our trip to Home State for the holidays.  I refuse to go in debt to fix the roof.  We have the money saved to pay for it, but it will mean using the money we've saved for the trip.  I don't relish having that conversation with my parents or with Archer's mother, but we have to have a roof over our heads.

In the meantime, I'm a very bitter home owner.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Yes, I'm still . . .

here.  It's the end of the semester, and I'm barely keeping my head above water.  I will write more soon.

Friday, November 18, 2011

One year ago . . .

today I received a phone call from my cousin.  JL called to say that our grandmother had passed out in her bedroom.  The paramedics were unable to revive her, so they put her on life support (which is standard procedure in an emergency, but not something my grandmother would have wanted done).  As a result of being deprived of oxygen, she was declared brain dead sometime the next day.  My aunts, my uncle, and my mother then debated when to take her off of life support, a decision my grandfather wanted no part of and one that was legally my youngest aunt's to make, as she had medical power of attorney for my grandmother.  They finally agreed to give everyone a chance to get to Gram, and two nights after she first passed out, my grandmother was taken off of life support.  She died five hours later, never regaining consciousness. 

My grandmother was a difficult lady.  She was determined, proud, intelligent, confident, and honest.  She didn't mince words, especially not with her daughters or her granddaughters.  She openly questioned my desire to get my doctorate, telling me right after Archer got his, "Why do you need to continue with your studies?  He has a degree.  You don't need one too."  But, as I learned at her funeral, she was also incredibly proud of "her girls," as she apparently referred to me, my sister, and our two female cousins.  Over and over again, people we had not seen in years came up to each of us and told us how much she talked about us.  My sister, for example, had no idea how brave my grandmother thought she was to end her marriage to her first husband and to parent her two children alone.  My cousin, who dropped out of college and worked her way up through retail management to run her own store, had no idea that my grandmother admired the way she stood up to her parents when she refused to go back to college.  I had no clue that my grandmother was proud of all that I'd accomplished or that she'd told people, "My M, she's smarter than I'll ever be."  I know we all wish we had known some of this while she was still alive, but that was Gram.  You didn't know something until she was ready to tell you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Random Stuff

  • Archer's been home today searching for Bear's birth certificate, which we seem to have misplaced.  He just called to tell me that he found it in the "Life Insurance Policy" folder in our filing cabinet.  Suddenly I knew immediately why it was there.  We needed it and our life insurance policy information when we had our wills made up in May.  Somehow his birth certificate never got put back in the right place.
  • It is snowing.  It isn't sticking, but still, it is snowing.
  • I've finished my antibiotics, and my cough is mostly gone.  I'm still fairly congested and snotty though.  I'm giving it till Monday, and then I'm going back to the doctor.
  • Archer and I are buying each other a new furnace for Christmas.  I know, we're super-romantic.  We found a local business who quoted us a really reasonable price, and we're much happy going with a local business than a big corporation--especially when the quote is about $3,000 under the big corporation.
  • We're thinking of getting the boys a train table like this.  I want one that does more things though.  Bear is still into trains, but Wild Man has moved beyond trains a bit.  He is really into legos, and I think this is a fascination that is here to stay.  I'd like a table that could be used for trains or for legos.  I'm having a hard time finding such a thing.
  • The article I submitted a few weeks ago was rejected.  It was the nicest rejection I've ever gotten, so I'm not sure what I think.  I was told that it is very well written and that it present a very interesting idea; it does not, however, add to the current argument on the subject.  Ok, fine.  I'll take that.  I've spent a few days rereading and editing some minor places.  I've found some very current (2010) sources that will help me develop my argument, and I've already spoken with another editor.  I'm hoping to get it out by next week.  
  • I'm behind in other tasks, including a book review and a grant I need to finish.  I'm trying to get back on track.  I've had some major distractions that I'm not at liberty to discuss yet.
  • My sister is coming to visit us for American Thanksgiving, which will be very, very nice.
  • Archer and I have finally figured out a plan for renovating the basement, and I think we can do most of it ourselves.  We'll need to hire a contract to put in a closet and, eventually, a bathroom, but we can do a lot of it ourselves.
  • I'm going to an elementary school open house tonight.  It is a school for the arts, and I think it might be a good place to send Wild Man at some point.  I don't think they'll have any spots open for next fall, but I want to check it out just in case.

Friday, November 11, 2011

This has been a rough week

The subject line really says it all.  I'm sick, and the antibiotics don't appear to be working very quickly.  My cough has subsided some, but I'm still coughing a lot.  Bear has decided that he wants to be awake at 4:30 or 5:00.  For whatever reason, he will not go back to sleep if he sees me.  Archer is able to get him back to sleep until 6 or so, but only after much convincing.  So we're both tired.  My house desperately needs to be cleaned--seriously, the dust bunnies have dust bunnies--but I have neither the time nor the inclination to clean it. 

I promise I'll be more positive next week.  But I can't seem to muster much positive energy this week.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The diagnosis is in

I have bronchitis.  Not fun.  Luckily, I now have antibiotics.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Random Updates

  • The cough continues to linger, and I finally made a doctor's appointment.  I can't get in until tomorrow though.  In the meantime, I sound fairly awful, and now it hurts to cough.
  • We're tentatively making Christmas plans to travel to Home State, even though I'd much rather stay put.  Archer wants to be there for his brother, as it will be his first Christmas since he and his wife have decided to divorce.  I'm willing to go to support R, but I'm intensely worried that there will be drama.
  • My sister and her children may be in Home State for part of the holiday, which made the decision to go a bit easier for me.
  • I'm way behind on grading, but well, who isn't at this point in the semester?
  • We're in the middle of getting estimates on furnaces, and let me tell you that one of the things I hate most about living in Canada: the high sales tax.  So far we've gotten two fairly reasonable estimates, and then we're reminded that the estimates don't include sales tax.  So then we have to add about $1,000 to the cost, for real.  So irritating.
  • I took Wild Man to observe a violin lesson last week, and well, he loved it.  So now we're shopping for a violin, and he should start lessons next week.
  • One of the trees outside my office window is the most beautiful yellow right now. I will be very sad when the leaves fall off.
  • Bear is showing absolutely no interest in potty training. None at all.  And right now, I don't have the energy to encourage him.  This will be a family project over the Christmas break, I think.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I have a . . .

cough that will not go away.  I had a cold a few weeks ago, and it came and went fairly quickly.  This cough, however, is lingering, and it is getting worse.  I'm giving it till tomorrow, and then I'm making a doctor's appointment.  So not fun . . .

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bear's first joke

As we were driving home on Tuesday afternoon, Bear announced, "Mama, I poop!"  I turned around in my seat and looked at him, asking "Did you poop?"  Giggling, he said, "No, I not poop.  I funny, Mama!"

CU Land

While Yetta was here this past weekend, she pointedly asked Archer and me if we were still looking for jobs in the States.  Prior to her arrival, Archer and I had discussed what we would say if she broached this topic, and we decided to be honest.  Archer started by pointing out that he has been on the job market every year since 2007.  That is 5 years.  If he sends out job applications again, that makes 6.  Since taking the job at CU, he has had several phone interviews and conference interviews as well as 1 on-campus interview.  He hasn't, however, gotten any offers.  He then reminded her that this is my third year on the market.  The first year I did not get any interviews, and last year I had several initial interviews and 1 on-campus visit, but again, I had no offers.  I did, however, receive a full-time position at CU with the "promise" that the job would either be renewed as is or that it would convert to a T-T line.  He then gently reminded her that we've tried to get jobs in the States, and for whatever reason, it isn't working out for us. 

She seemed fairly accepting of all of this, as Archer was offering concrete evidence of our attempts to return to the States.  I then pointed out that we actually like CU Land.  This is the beginning of our fourth year here.  We've developed a social network.  We have people we can call on in an emergency.  Wild Man has good friends.  I've made 4 close friends in the past year, and Archer has finally found a group of guys he can have beers with.  As for Bear, well, CU Land is the only place he's ever known.  I said, "While CU Land still doesn't necessarily feel like home for Archer and me, this is home for Wild Man and Bear.  I moved around a lot as a young child, and that takes a toll on a kid.  Unless a really great deal comes along and assuming my position does convert, it looks like we may be here for the long term.  And we're okay with that."  I had planned this statement.  I had thought about the argument.  I intentionally used passive voice and focused on the children as I thought it would be the most convincing way to present the argument.  But, it seems I overestimated my MIL's ability to accept reason. 

Calling CU Land the boys' home was, apparently, not the track to take as it reminded her that they do not consider Home State home, a fact she pointed out to Archer in a phone conversation after she left.  She stated point blank, "I want my grandchildren to think of Home State as their home.  I want you all to live here."  He said, "I understand that, but unfortunately, we don't have a lot of control over that given our profession.  You're going to have to accept that this is our decision to make.  And you've got to stop thinking of Canada as Antarctica.  We're a 3 hour flight away, not on the other side of the world.  It is time you accepted that."  I couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Being cryptic

So* some things are going on that I can't talk about yet, and I find that very frustrating.  Why?  Well I'd actually love to ask everyone's advice on an issue, but as said issue is currently off-limits, I can't.  So I guess I'll have to figure it out on my own.  And I'm sorry for being so cryptic.

*In honor of Anastasia

Monday, October 24, 2011

I survived . . .

the weekend with Pita and Yetta.  It was mostly good.  Yetta misrepresented several statements I made to her and, predictably, reported those misrepresentations to Archer.  For example, I am apparently an advocate of divorce.  Yes, I'm am thrilled to bits that my BIL and SIL are divorcing and I think their children will be better off and so much happier.  Indeed, I will.  And if you know me at all, you know that I would totally be in favor of such a thing. 

When Archer told me this I literally laughed until I cried.  You see, I said that the children, my lovely, lovely nephews, would have a hard time for a while.  I told Yetta, "I know they will struggle with this.  I'm a child of divorce, and I know how hard it will be on them.  But, in the long run, I think they'll be better off having two happy parents in separate homes than two unhappy parents in the same home."  Somehow that became "Your wife* thinks the divorce is a good idea."  Archer, however, knows me so well that he realized I would never have said such a thing, and without even knowing what I said, he corrected his mother.  He told her, "I know M did not say that the divorce was a good idea.  She likely said the boys will be happier with two happy parents."  I love my husband.

And I'm also glad that Yetta and Pita only visit a few times a year.

*Notice I didn't even get named in the statement.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday, Wild Man!

Then and now. . . 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Good news, potentially

I just left a meeting in which I received what is potentially really, really good news.   I was asked to only share the news with "the people [I] live with."  And Archer is currently in a meeting right now, so I can't talk to anyone!  I feel like I'm about to burst!  Okay, blog friends, keep your fingers crossed for me and, if you're so inclined, say a prayer that the potential good news becomes a reality.  In return, I promise to update you as soon as I can.

Perspective, part 2

Pita and Yetta arrive today for a 5 day visit.  I will write a post about the reasons why they came this week instead of last week, but right now, the events are still too frustrating for me to think about without getting upset.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, though, that I manage to maintain some perspective while they are here.


Bear wakes up insanely early--between 5 and 6 without fail.  And try as we might, we cannot get him to go back to sleep for any extended period of time.  In fact, he seems to be the child who wakes up really early, as he doesn't get fussy until his nap time.  So Archer and I take turns getting up with him.  We've both gotten in the habit of logging in a bit of work while Bear watches a bit of TV (yes, I'm THAT mom, but really, when your kid wakes up at 5:30 every. single. morning. I bet you'd be THAT mom too). 

This morning was my morning to get up with him.  In an attempt to be productive, I've finally sent out the article I finished revising (I've been procrastinating, mainly due to nerves), and I'm also editing a panel proposal I've been working on for about a week or so.  Just as I had sent the article out and was about to allow myself a few minutes of anxiety as I contemplated whether or not the damn thing was good enough for the journal I decided to send it to, Bear calls out, at the top of his lungs, "I need milk, Mama.  I need milk now!"  Someday, when he's old enough to understand, I'll thank him for helping me keep things in perspective.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Gifted Child

Wild Man is in his 6th week of senior kindergarten, and he is doing well.  He can now recognize the entire alphabet, although he continues to confuse several letters (h is often n, for example).  He is also able to pick out many short words when we're reading, words such at the, is, if, on, he, she, and I.  His math skills have improved a great deal as well.  He can now add most numbers between 1 and 10 and come up with the correct answer on his own.  He is also very curious, asking lots of complex questions about things that Archer and I struggle to answer adequately, as we want to give him an appropriate amount of information while satisfying his curiosity.  We recently had a very complex conversation about Frankenstein, for example.  He'd read a Halloween book at school and came home asking lots of questions about Frankenstein.  He was equally frightened and intrigued by the character. I tried to explain the basics of Mary Shelley's so that he would no longer be scared.  Aside from his sensitivity, I believe Wild Man is average.  There I said it.  My child is average.

I actually made this very statement to an acquaintance of mine a few weeks ago.  This woman also teaches at CU, and she has a child Wild Man's age in Wild Man's school.  She was raving about the school and listing all the activities her child is involved in, each of which is meant to enhance her education because, "well, we think our daughter is gifted."  In fact, her one complaint about the school was that it won't test children for the gifted program until they've completed grade 1.  I responded by saying I also really like Wild Man's school because I think it is a great blend of academics and creativity.  I also said that he continues to struggle with some things, and "well, you know, I think Wild Man is pretty average."  Her face was aghast, and I may have well said Wild Man was an idiot.  I quickly changed the subject, and the conversation ended shortly after that.  I've been thinking about the conversation since then, however.  I'm still struggling to understand what I said that made her look at me as though I was the worst mother on the planet.  Is Wild Man gifted?  Well, honestly, in some ways I think he is exceptional.  He has an imagination that would rival Steven Speilberg's, and he is much more empathetic than most of his peers (something that everyone comments on).  But, you know, he does most things at a kindergarten level.  Most days he can identify all of the alphabet, and most days he writes his name beautifully.  Other days, he could care less whether he identifies "h" correctly or if he writes an "r" backwards.  So, no, I don't think my child is gifted.  In fact, I think he's privileged, a fact I wish so many other parents in positions similar to mine and Archer's would realize.

What do I mean by "privileged?"  Well, Archer and I both have doctorates.  We have read to both of our boys since they were days old.  Both can recite various books from memory, and both will sit with books on their own.  Bear, in fact, tries to read books to both Archer and me.  Both Wild Man and Bear ask to go to the library and the bookstore, and they see us reading all the time.  We work on art projects as a family, and both boys love to draw, color, and paint.  We have lots of puzzles and blocks in our playroom (right along side with all of our cars, Star Wars toys, and baby dolls).  And, most significantly, I think, we constantly talk about our work in front of the boys.  Wild Man knows I am a "doctor of literature" and that Archer is a "doctor of art."  He knows that we have to write, read, and mark papers for our jobs.  He has gone to class with both of us, and he has been in both of our offices when we're meeting with students.  Both because of our travels and Archer's line of study, Wild Man and Bear know upwards of 25 Spanish words, and Wild Man is able to recognize their counterparts in French.

There is no doubt in my mind that both of my children are bright, inquisitive, and articulate.  But do I think this means either of my children is gifted?  No, I do not.  I think this means they have been exposed to different languages and cultures, as well as books, art, and, well, life, at a very young age.  I think this means they are privileged.  After all, most 2-year-olds and 5-year-olds have not visited Rome, Florence, or the Yucatan peninsula.  Few have seen the Vatican, the Colosseum, or Chichen Itza.  Not every child has the opportunity to go to plays, to libraries, or to museums on a regular basis.  Our children do.  Has this influenced their intellectual abilities?  Sure.  Does that make them gifted?  Nope, it makes them privileged.  It means they have parents who are in a position to provide them with such opportunities.  That's all.

It is likely becoming clear that I have some concerns about labeling children as gifted.  Why, you might ask?  Well, I think it sets up some false expectations on the part of the child, for one.  I also think that, try as we might not to, we are marking gifted children as better somehow than children who aren't gifted.  As an educator, I do understand the need to push students who have an inherent desire to learn and excel, but I also understand the need to push students who are struggling.  What I do not understand is the need to establish an intellectual hierarchy among children at such a young age.  I also understand that many parents want their children to be in gifted programs because such programs have more resources than the "average" classroom.  But I see this particular issue as indicative of many problems in education--why aren't all classrooms capped at 18 students, for example?  Why can't all children, regardless of their IQs, be exposed to drama and art history and computer science and music?  Why are these activities routinely only offered to "gifted" children?  Why don't we offer the same opportunities to all children, regardless of ability?  Because wouldn't exposing all children to things like this improve their abilities?  Isn't that more important than marking children as gifted?

To be continued, I'm quite sure.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Um, yes, seriously, that happened.

So my parents were visiting my grandfather last week.  He lives 4 hours from my sister.  My parents were there for a week, and they never once contacted my sister to let her know.  They also did not make any attempt to go see her.  Seriously.  My mom called me on Wednesday asking me why my sister is so upset with them.  For real.  I do not even have words.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Just for fun

Bear calls Winnie the Pooh Winnie Poop.  And I laugh every single time he says it.

Job Search 2011

I have just submitted my first three applications of the 2011 job search season.  I am so not excited about this.  I so do not want to do this.  I so am not pleased that I spent most of today revising letters to cater to the specific schools.  I would have much rather have been working on an essay that I'm drafting.  And all of this better pay off because, you know, I'd really like to keep the job that I'd already have.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving . . .

makes so much more sense in October.  Oh, and it doesn't feel so commercial either.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Still here. . .

 just insanely busy.  I honestly didn't realize it had been almost 2 weeks since I posted.  The weather is beautiful for mid-fall in CU Land, so we've spent most of the weekend taking care of our yard.  Wild Man and I planted 64 tulip bulbs in our front flower bed while Archer moved around some shrubs.  I am about to make a pumpkin pie and an apple crisp for Thanksgiving, which is tomorrow.  I have a million other things I could write about, including crazy family drama (will that ever end, I ask you?).  But instead, I will share this with you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just so you know

I do not like people who think they are martyrs.  Not at all.  Now a real martyr who actually chooses to die for a significant cause.  That is someone I can get behind.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sometimes. . .

it would be really, really nice if everyone would recognize that occasionally Archer and I need help too.  Sometimes it would be great if our families, in particular, would not put us at the end of the list because, you know, we have it so together.  Sometimes it sucks being the responsible ones in our families.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Gifted Child

I'm putting this up here because I've been mentally writing a post on the gifted child and on what I see as many parents' preoccupation with having a gifted child.  Now I have to write it.

Meeting with the dean

So I have a meeting with the dean later today to ask him some questions about the status of my current position.  I hate these kinds of meetings.  The dean is a perfectly nice guy; in fact, we shop at the same grocery store, so I've run into him a few times over the summer.  He always goes out of his way to say hello, and he even remembers the boys' names.  But still, this is not my favorite thing.  I also anticipate that all of his answers will be prefaced by, "Well, I can't tell you what to do. . . " or "Well, nothing is set in stone yet . . ."  This should be fun.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy Sunday

We had breakfast tacos this morning, and I have a pot roast in the slow cooker.  The sun is out, and although it is cool, it is warm enough to have several windows open.  The neighborhood is quiet.  Wild Man and Archer are playing downstairs, while Bear takes a nap.  I'm about to get some reading done.  Later this afternoon we're going for a bike ride.  It is a happy Sunday in our house.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Not my best

That is how I feel today, not my best.  So I'm blogging during my scheduled writing time in an attempt to get out of my funk.  Why am I in a funk?  It's been a difficult few days for lots of reasons.

Bear's sleeping habits have improved (as in he is no longer waking up every 2 hours), but he still wakes up incredibly early.  This morning, for example, he woke up at 4:30.  He doesn't want to be awake this early, but he won't go back to sleep without help.  And that help, it seems, must come from me.  This is a fairly recent thing, since the move.  Until then, Archer and I had worked out a really great schedule for dealing with Bear.  We simply alternated mornings and nights.  If it was my night to get up with Bear, Archer got up with him in the morning and vice versa.  This meant that we both got enough sleep.  Mind you, we were both tired, but neither of us was exhausted.  At some point following the move, however, Bear has refused to let Archer soothe him in the night.  This means that Archer tries, and Bear screams bloody murder at the top of his lungs.  I can't sleep through this, and to avoid both of us being completely exhausted, I've gotten in the habit of just getting up with Bear.  As I said, most nights this is fine, and most mornings it is as well since he's gotten into the habit of sleeping until 6:00.  This morning, though, it wasn't.  Wednesday night I'd been up twice with Wild Man, who first wanted a drink and then needed to go pee.  Each time I was woken up it took me about 30 minutes to go back to sleep.  Then I was up early with Bear as it was my morning to do so.  Thus, this morning I was hoping to get some extra sleep.  It didn't happen.

After struggling to get Bear to go back to sleep for about 15 minutes, I finally brought him into our bed, as I didn't want him to wake up Wild Man (they are now sharing a bedroom).  After another 15 minutes, most of which Archer slept through (although he says he was awake, I argue that his snoring indicated otherwise), I got up to take Bear downstairs to see if he'd relax on the couch.  Archer woke up and asked me if I wanted him to take over.  Now, I hate this question.  Hate it.  And Archer and I have talked about this.  If he can see I'm struggling and at my wit's end, I'd rather he just take over.  I don't want him to ask me that question because in such a moment I'm not going to respond nicely.  As much as I mean to say, "Yes, please, thank you.  I really need a break," in such a moment, when I'm tired and frustrated and unhappy with my own behavior, I'm going to say something like, "Of course I want you to take over.  Do you really have to ask that question?"  That's what I said at 5:30 this morning.  And it didn't go over well.  Understandably, Archer doesn't like to be snapped at when he's offering to help.  I get that.  He said something like, "You don't have to be such a martyr, M.  Just ask for help."  That, of course, made it worse.  So I grabbed Bear and went downstairs, telling Archer I'd take care of it.  So I was now annoyed and frustrated and tired. 

I finally got Bear back to sleep at 5:30, and he slept until 6:30.  Between his wiggles and the cat deciding 5:45 was the perfect time for a snuggle, I didn't get much sleep.  When Bear woke up at 6:30, I woke up Archer and asked him if I could have a break.  He happily took over, and I lied down.  He forgot, however, to close our bedroom door all the way, which meant that I heard him turn on the coffee grinder 5 minutes later, just as I was dropping off to sleep.  So I got up and closed the door all the way, and that annoyed me more.  To be fair to Archer, our house is old.  Unless you close the door all the way, it will fall open again.  Neither of us is used to this yet, as we've only been in the house for 3 weeks.  I know he didn't do that on purpose, but again, in that moment, it really irritated me.

When I woke up at 7:10 I went downstairs, still tired and annoyed and frustrated.  I expected that Archer would have finished packing Wild Man's lunch, which I'd started packing the night before.  But no.  He'd hung out with Bear.  So I started doing the 45 things that are part of our morning routine.  He came into the kitchen to say good morning, and I rolled my eyes at him.  He knew why I was upset, so he said, "I was coming to do all of those things now that you're awake.  I know you can hear all the activity from the kitchen in our room.  Since you'd been up since 4:30 I wanted to give you a bit more time to sleep.  Let me do that."  To which I said, "Well you could have had all this stuff done if you'd just take the time to close the bedroom door all the way."  Archer walked away, understandably so, and left me to finish everything. 

We managed the rest of the morning routine without speaking to each other, which sucks.  It sucks even more because Bear is knee-deep in the terrible twos, and we normally get through his crankiness by laughing together.  This morning we were barely looking at each other.  On the way to school, I apologized.  I said, "I'm really sorry I snapped and that I was being so unreasonable.  I know you were trying to help me.  I now you probably feel like I treat you as though you never do anything right, and I'm sorry for that.  I'm really sorry I make you feel that way."  He nodded, but he didn't really respond.  I know he needs more time to process everything, and I know everything will be fine by this afternoon.  I'm just so tired of feeling tired and frustrated, and I feel like crap for taking those feelings out on Archer.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dear Students . . .

I understand that my office is directly across the hall from a number of classrooms.  I understand that you will chat to one another in between classes, and I accept that I will have to make my way around you as I go to and from my office.  I do now, however, accept the dirty looks you all insist upon giving me when I want to enter my office and you're leaning on my office door.  Lean on the wall.  That way I won't have to interrupt your very intense conversation about the latest issue of Cosmo.  That is all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm hanging on

I have lots and lots I want to write about now that my first week as an official "Assistant Professor" is almost over.  For now I will just say, I'm hanging on, barely.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Random Stuff

Classes started this week (for me and Wild Man, as Archer is blessed with a term off from teaching), so life has been a bit more hectic than usual.  Here are some random updates.
  • Wild Man loves kindergarten, but it is wearing him out.  As I wrote earlier, it is all day this year, and while the daily schedule allows for lots of playtime, he has been wiped out every day this week.  In fact, he's been asleep by 7:30 each night.
  • He is very, very happy that his "best" buddy is in his class.  I'm a bit less pleased as Wild Man and his best buddy tend to pay more attention to each other than to the teacher.
  • Bear is going through a "MOMMY!" phase.  It's exhausting as I am the only one who can do anything for him.  
  • The librarians at CU are on strike.  In their support, I attended my first Union rally today.  
  • The house is mostly unpacked.  We're currently discussing decorating/painting/remodeling options.  Do we wait, or do we start right away?
  • I still haven't bought a ticket to go to my friend's wedding.  Archer had yet another conversation with Yetta again last night, and yes, he told her one more time what days I'd like to travel.  It seems that Pita has the time off, but as they want to do some sight seeing on the way up to CU Land they won't be able to get here until the evening before I want to leave.  Um, seriously?  Is it totally unreasonable of me to think they'd want to get here at least a day before so that they can get a sense of the schedule, so we can introduce them to Wild Man's and Bear's teachers, and, you know, stuff like that?  I'm done.  I told Archer I'm going by myself, as much as I don't want to go to yet another good friend's wedding alone.  
  • We have some major gardening to do this weekend to prep our flower and vegetable garden for the first frost.
  • I have a department party to go to this afternoon.  I really, really hate these sorts of social gatherings.  I always feel awkward and out of place, especially as lots of my colleagues have yet to introduce themselves to me, but that is the subject of another post altogether.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Senior Kindergarten

Wild Man started Senior Kindergarten today, and today wasn't nearly as traumatic on me as his first day of Junior Kindergarten last year.  He was very, very excited to be back in school.  He had his backpack and his Star Wars lunchbox (yes, I caved and let him get a themed lunch box).  He proudly showed off his lunchbox to anyone who was interested--and to many people who weren't!  This year's schedule is a bit different than last year's.  He will go to SK all day, every other day, which means Archer and I had to send two snacks and lunch with him.  I know I packed either too much food or not enough.  I carefully explained to Wild Man what he is to eat for which snack and for lunch.  He said, "Mommy, it's okay.  I'll figure it out."  As you can see, I was much more nervous for his first day than he was.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The start of the semester

*This post is in response, at least in part, to some of the things my friend Anastasia has been blogging about.

Classes start next week.  I'm feeling the typical mixture of dread and excitement that I feel at the start of every new academic year.  I'm dreading the start of the term because, yes, it does mean the return of the students.  This means a lot more traffic around CU Land, which inevitably means that, daily, I will narrowly avoid running over one student who can't be bothered to look both ways before crossing the street or to obey the cross walk signals.  I'm also dreading it because it means the end of the uninterrupted writing time I've enjoyed for at least 2 hours every day. 

I am excited about teaching though because, not unlike Anastasia, I actually like my students.  Yes, they annoy me, and I complain about them.  But I really enjoy teaching.  I do what I do because of the teaching, not because of the research (I do enjoy the research, don't get me wrong, but teaching energizes me in a way research doesn't).  So while I will complain quite loudly about how the return of students affects almost every aspect of life in CU Land, I am quite happy to have them returning to my classroom.

I have . . .

business cards and a name plaque on my office door! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We're moved in

Indeed, we are officially moved into our new home, and the new owners of our old townhouse take possession sometime today.  I would love to say that everything happened as planned, but there were quite a few glitches, which I'll likely blog about later.  I'm happy to say we have many more good friends in CU Land than I realized, without whom this past weekend would have been much, much more traumatic.  We survived, and we're settling into our home.  That's all I hoped to get out of this past weekend.

I will also say that leaving our townhouse was much more difficult than I anticipated.  While I know we made the right decision to sell and to move (which was reaffirmed Saturday evening.  While I was making dinner, I glanced out of the window, which has a full length view of the backyard.  Thus, I was able to keep an eye on Wild Man and Bear, who were happily playing in their water table, while cooking.  That was a great feeling.), I was in tears on Sunday afternoon as Archer and I moved the last few things out of the townhouse.  That little house, with all its quirks and irritating features, was the first house we owned, the first place we were able to make ours.  It is the only home Wild Man remembers, and it is the only home Bear has known.  As I told Archer, we were happy there.  And as he told me, we'll be happy in our new home as well.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


That is how I'm feeling.  Archer and I are packing up all the odds and ends that are still around the house, and we're anxiously awaiting a phone call from our lawyer telling us that all the money has changed hands and that we can pick up the keys to our new home.  My stomach is in knots.  I know it is just a matter of waiting for all the people to do their jobs at this point, but I'm very, very anxious. 

On top of that, I'm feeling a lot of anxiety about the new house.  I think it will be perfect for us, but it isn't perfect right now.  As I tried to explain to Archer, our townhouse is us.  We've spent three years painting, organizing, and decorating.  We've painted every room in the house except for the laundry room, and we've updated the fixtures, redone the kitchen and one of the bathrooms, and made it ours.  The new house is bigger, with a lovely yard and deck.  But it doesn't feel like home, at least not yet.  I know that it will, but it is very disconcerting for me to feel as though we're starting over again. 

I'm also really worried about the weekend.  We're hoping to get some things moved in today and to move everything else in tomorrow.  The plan is to sleep at the new house tomorrow night, to spend Saturday unpacking the essentials, and to clean up the townhouse on Sunday and Monday morning.  I've hired our go to babysitter for Sunday.  She'll be with the boys for much of Sunday, giving Archer and I time to clean.  I really want the weekend to be as calm as possible, as both boys are a bit stressed out already. 

I will now stop voicing my anxieties and finish packing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I love our new house.  I love our new house.  I love our new house. 

I'm hoping that if I repeat that sentence over and over again that I will forget how much I hate moving.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Would it be so hard . . .

to respond kindly to someone rather than being an a**hat, to borrow a phrase from Anastasia

My sister tends to post requests for good thoughts on her Facebook page--yes, that damned Facebook.  I do not respond to such posts very often, although I do email her to check on her.  I would like to think that I'm not a heartless person; rather, I prefer to offer my support privately.  Last night, she posted such a request, something about gearing up for a really stressful week.  Several of her friends posted, and in a fit of I don't know what, I also posted.  I wrote "Remember to breathe."  I wrote this particular phrase because it is something that actually helps me when I'm really stressed out.  I find that I'm often not breathing properly, so if I remember to breathe, I actually feel calmer.  Instead of writing "thanks," as she did to every other person who responded, she wrote "It's really hard to breathe when you're shaking uncontrollably, M.  Thanks for the really helpful advice."  When I read that, I had to remember to breathe.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Keeping Tabs

Following Wednesday's post, I've also decided to keep tabs on myself in an attempt to keep myself motivated.  My friend Anastasia often blogs about her writing progress, and she truly seems to get stuff done, even with three children underfoot, as she herself often puts it.  So here is my tally for this week.

Monday: read/took notes on three articles
Tuesday: New Faculty Orientation, day was a wash
Wednesday: wrote 2 1/2 pages, met with my writing group
Thursday: took the day off from work to pack b/c, you know, we're moving next week
Friday: yet to be determined, but I'm hoping to write 2 1/2 more pages and finish a syllabus

I'll update this later today to see if I managed to accomplish my goal.

*By 3:00 I have written a 1 1/2 pages and finished a syllabus.   I have also, unfortunately, spent an inordinate amount of time on hold trying to get some questions answered in anticipation of next week's closing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New faculty orientation

Yesterday I attended new faculty orientation, which was sort of weird as, well, I've been teaching at CU for three years now.  I enjoyed it though as I got to meet several really cool people, one of whom I think may become a good friend.  I also had the opportunity to get some really excellent research/writing advice.  As of this morning, I have blocked out 6 hours during the work week for my research/writing.  I will not allow myself to schedule meetings of any sort during that time.  I have no idea why I didn't think of that before.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mothering two boys; or, When is nudity no longer appropriate?

Archer and I were married for six years before Wild Man was born.  Prior to getting married, we were in a long distance relationship for two and a half years.  Immediately after getting married, we lived with my parents for two months.  By the time we were in our own apartment, we were more than ready to take full advantage of being in our own space together.  For six years, I didn't have to worry about putting on a robe when I walked from the bathroom to the bedroom.  I would strip out of running clothes in the kitchen and make dinner in my sports bra.  I would pull off my shirt and bra and throw them directly into the washing machine.  On really hot days while we were living in Southwest College Town, Archer would come home to find me in my underwear lying directly beneath the air conditioning vent.  Suffice to say, I have no problems walking around our house naked, and neither does Archer.

After Wild Man was born, my attitude toward nudity didn't really change.  I was breast feeding, and I was exhausted.  I doubt I have a single friend, male or female, from Southwest College Town who hasn't seen my breasts, and frankly I didn't--and don't--care.  While lots of my friends were hesitant to let their children of the opposite sex see them naked, I honestly never thought about it.  Wild Man was colicky, and for the first three months of his life he cried for 3 or 4 hours straight every night.  One of the very few things that soothed him was the shower, something we discovered by total chance.  Archer was showering one evening while Wild Man screamed.  I was simply unable to take it anymore, so I took all of his clothes off and handed him to Archer.  I expected him to cry louder--even though that seemed impossible at the time--but I didn't really care.  I just needed five minutes to myself.  Amazingly, however, as Archer held Wild Man under the shower, he relaxed.  As long as he could feel the spray hitting his back, he was calm.  I was delighted to see my newborn so calm, so I joined them in the shower.  Thus began a nightly ritual. 

By the time Wild Man was six months old, we were no longer showering with him every day, but at least two or three nights a week one of us would plop him down in the tub and turn on the shower.  While I washed, Wild Man would play in the spray, and then I'd wash him.  Then Archer would take him out and dry him off while I got dressed.  When Archer was on the job market and gone two or three nights a week, every week for almost two months, showering with Wild Man became the only way I could ensure we both got a bath before midnight.  Wild Man got accustomed to seeing me naked, and I didn't think much of changing my clothes in front of him or taking a bath with him.  When Bear was born, we took him into the shower as well, and while he wasn't colicky, he enjoyed feeling the spray on his back as much as Wild Man did.

In the past few months, Archer and I have been talking about whether it is still appropriate for Wild Man to see me naked.  This has been a difficult conversation to have for a few reasons.  First, we only have one full bathroom, so often while I'm showering in the morning, Archer and the boys are brushing their teeth too.  Second, my children think seeing their parents naked is normal.  Wild Man rarely comments on it, except for the few times he has asked why my body is different than his.  I didn't want to change things unless we absolutely had to.  Plus, I enjoy the freedom of being able to walk from the bathroom to the bedroom without putting a robe on or getting fully dressed.  A few weeks ago, however, it became very clear that somethings were going to have to change around our house.

We were getting ready to go to the pool.  While Archer put sunscreen on the boys, I was changing into my suit.  Wild Man walked into our bedroom just as I had taken off my bra, and he said, "Mommy, you have such beautiful boobies!"  I quickly put on my suit, and then I sat down with Wild Man for a chat.  I tried as carefully as I could to explain that that isn't a sentiment one expresses to one's mother.  We then had a quick talk about bodies and how bodies are private.  I left it at that, but from that day on, I've been wearing a robe and keeping the door to the bathroom closed.  I've asked Wild Man to knock before entering, simply explaining that "Mommy wants some privacy."  I thought we were past the hard part until this past weekend.

Friday evening, while we were at the pool (I'm seriously rethinking our decision to get a family membership to the neighborhood pool), Wild Man said, "Mommy, what do you call a girl's penis?"  This seemed like a simple enough question, so I answered.  The rest of the conversation proved both hilarious and enlightening.

WM: S (a girl in Wild Man's daycare class) showed me her vagina the other day.

M: She did?  While you all were in the bathroom? (The bathroom in their classroom has three sinks and three toilets and no doors; the boys and girls are allowed in there at the same time.)

WM: Yes,  it was right before lunch.  Can I ask you something?

M: Sure, what?

WM:  How come S's vagina is prettier than yours?  (At this point, Archer, who was changing Bear out of his swim diaper, had to turn away so Wild Man wouldn't see him laughing uncontrollably.)

M: What do you mean?

WM: Well, yours is all furry, and S's isn't.

Following that statement, we had a brief conversation about the differences between children's bodies and adults' bodies.  Archer took over at that point because I was also struggling not to laugh.  Archer explained that bodies have "private parts."  He explained that Wild Man should keep his "private parts" to himself and that, if he doesn't want to see his friends' "private parts," he should tell them that when they are in the bathroom together.  Wild Man was satisfied with this, and he hasn't mentioned it since.

I, however, am over analyzing as I am apt to do.  I understand that children this age (he's almost 5) are curious about their bodies, and I also realize this was very likely to happen even if I hadn't been open with being naked in front of Wild Man.  But the reality is, I have two sons.  And in light of these recent events, I'm wondering if I shouldn't be more modest around Bear, who is 2.  I like that my children are comfortable with their bodies, and I do think that is, at least in part, due to the fact that Archer and I have never really talked about nudity.  Neither of us has ever drawn much attention to being naked in front of them; it just happens at our house.  So they see it as normal.  But now that Wild Man is asking questions I am wondering if I should have stopped showering with and changing my clothes in front of him sooner.  When is nudity no longer appropriate?

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm tired

I need a break from real life, just for a day or so.  I want to lie on a beach and drink margaritas.  I want to watch Archer, Wild Man, and Bear build sand castles and play in the water, all the while knowing we don't have to be anywhere or do anything.  I want to throw the clock and the calendar out of the window and just be for a few days.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I should be working, but . . .

this is too cool not to share! 

A breastfeeding group in Salt Lake City celebrated World Breastfeeding Week with a Babywearing Flash Mob!  So awesome!

My Office

 This is my office.  It is now completely unpacked and better organized.  I've requested that it be painted a pale peachy-pink color, although I actually like the blue.  I think, though, that the blue will prove to be too dark in the winter, you know, when the sun hardly ever shines in CU Land and sets by 4:30.  I'm not sure when it will get painted. 
One whole wall has floor to ceiling bookshelves, and I actually do not have books to fill them.  But it is nice to have all my books and files in one space.

More writing

Well I was on track to finish my essay, but then I asked Archer to read it.  I asked him for two reasons.  First, I value his opinion, and more importantly, he knows the theories I'm using much better than I do.  So he read the first seven pages, in which I set up my argument and address the theoretical framework I'm using and challenging, and he got very, very excited.  It seems my argument is challenging some key theories, and it also seems I'm doing this without even realizing I'm doing this.  How do you ask did I not know I was doing this?  Well, that's easy.  I'm primarily using one critic (a political scientist, as it happens) and one theorist (the great and wonderful Foucault--and yes, that is sarcasm you detect).  I'm mostly saying these two people say X, which is really smart, and now I'm applying what they say to this text, which they've never considered.  But at one point I do say something like, these two people are really smart, but here is where they miss something key and this text proves that they miss it.  Apparently in saying they miss something I'm turning lots of theoretical models upside down.  Now this is good in that it definitely means that I'm adding something to the conversation.  It isn't good as it also means I'm not done with the damn essay. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Writing and French fries

I'm on track to finish revising an essay today, one that I will then send out to my writing group.  I do, however, think I will need some french fries for lunch to ensure I accomplish this task.  French fries seem like the perfect writing fuel.

Monday, August 08, 2011

For sale

I'm selling a lot of Bear's baby things--his vibrating chair and boppies (nursing pillows), for example.  Last week, I gave away a lot of the boys' baby toys, and when we were preparing to put the house on the market, I donated a lot of their baby clothes.  How does this make me feel?  Meh.  That is how I feel.  It is inexplicably hard to name the emotion I'm feeling right now.  It is somewhere between ambivalent, nostalgic, and downright sad.  While it seems highly unlikely we'll have a third child (if I were a betting woman, I'd bet against it), it still feels odd to sell and/or give these things away.  Why?  Well, first, I'm an intensely practical person.  These things are expensive.  So long as there is even a remote possibility we'll have a third child--and by remote I mean, Archer has yet to schedule an appointment for a vasectomy--it seems really impractical to give these things away.  Second, giving them away feels like I'm saying Bear is no longer a baby.  And while I know he isn't and I know that he will never again use the vibrating chair or the boppies, it is still an odd feeling knowing that our house is almost entirely devoid of baby things.  I know I should also give away or sell my breast pump, but I honestly don't know if I can.  The thought of doing either literally makes me want to cry.  How is that for practical?

Friday, August 05, 2011

A brief rant

One of my very best friends in the world--a person who has been my friend since 5th grade and is the only person from high school that I go out of my way to keep up with--is getting married in October.  This person, whom I'll call Prudence (a reference she'll get, I think), was my maid-of-honor when Archer and I got married, so there is absolutely no way I am missing this wedding.  That said, the wedding is in a hard-to-get-to location, and it will take place in the middle of the fall semester, both of which make it difficult and expensive for our entire family to go.  Originally we had planned that I would go by myself while Archer stayed home with the boys.  After some investigating, I discovered that it wouldn't be terribly expensive for Archer to come with me, provided we could find someone to stay with the boys for about 4 days.  So I mentioned this to him.  He loved the idea--especially since we haven't had a night alone together since Wild Man was born almost 5 years ago.  We discussed our options for childcare, which are somewhat limited.  We decided, against my own reservations, that Pita and Yetta were the best choice, so we asked them if they would come up to CU Land to care for the boys so we could go to the wedding.  They immediately agreed, provided Pita could get the time off of work.  Archer and I began making tentative plans to attend the wedding.  The plans, however, have gotten increasingly complicated.  And to be honest, I don't know why I'm surprised as everything involving Yetta and Pita gets complicated.

In the past 5 days, Yetta has called every single day to ask us when the wedding is (you know, because Prudence and her fiance change the date every 5 minutes), how long we'll be gone, and when we need them here.  Whatever.  I can handle this mainly because I'm not the one on the phone with her.  Apparently she called Archer earlier this morning to ask one more question: "Is there anyway you could come to Home State first and leave the boys here with us?"  Um, how in the hell would that work?  The wedding is in, as I said, an out of the way location, so doing this would necessitate that we buy 4 plane tickets to Home State, drop the boys off, and then, having purchased 2 tickets to the wedding location, fly there.  Then we'd have to do the exact reverse--all in 4 days.  Plus, we'd have to pull Wild Man out of school and haul all of their stuff to Home State.  I mean, seriously, on what planet is this even practical? 

Why would Yetta ask if this was possible?  Well, she is likely more comfortable in her own home than in ours, and it also seems that she is not sure Pita can get the time off.  So she wants to ensure we are able to go to the wedding, and in her mind, bringing the boys to her makes the most sense.  And no, she will not come take care of the boys on her own--we wouldn't even ask her because we don't think she's physically up to it.  Archer just suggested asking my mom, who would happily come and could (more or less) manage it, except she refuses to drive in CU Land.  Thus, the boys would be trapped in the house with her for 4 days, and Wild Man would still miss school.

Really, I just want to go to Prudence's wedding--with my husband.  Is that too much to ask?  Is it wrong to hire Bear's teacher, our go-to babysitter, for 4 days? 

My Office

For the past 2 weeks, I have been taking advantage of having my own office.  I have all of my books unpacked and my files are semi-organized.  I've compiled a list of things I need to purchase (for which I will get reimbursed!), and I've been working away.  I've done research on a new project--the first completely new project I've started since completing my dissertation--and spent time revising a dissertation chapter into an article.  While I've been in my own office every weekday for almost just over 2 weeks now, I don't think I really grasped the fact that I was, in fact, in my own space until late last week. 

While doing research on my current project, I read yet another critic who disagreed with the argument I'm making.  In frustration, I logged onto Facebook, hoping one of my academic friends would be online.  Sure enough, I found a friend and messaged her.  We chatted for a few minutes, and she affirmed that my argument makes sense.  She then pointed me to another book to consider as evidence that my argument is valid.  Her suggestion was fabulous, so I grabbed a piece of paper to jot down the reference and the title, thinking, "I'll have to get this off my shelf at home."  Then it occurred to me that I was in my own office--with all of my books unpacked and neatly organized on the floor to ceiling shelves.  I spun my chair around, found the book, grabbed it off the shelf, and found the part my friend was referring to.  I was so thrilled that I was able to do that.  As soon as I ended my chat with my friend, I was able to jot down some notes about this reference, rather than waiting until I got home to do so.  It was wonderful! 

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Yesterday morning I woke up with some tension in my neck and shoulders.  Given that this is where I carry my stress, I didn't think too much about it.  By mid-day, however, I also noticed that my triceps and biceps are really sore, so sore that picking up Bear was a bit uncomfortable.  But, again, I didn't think too much about it.  This morning, however, I'm really, really sore, as in so sore it hurts to lift my school bag, which doesn't contain anything out of the ordinary.  I'd like to say it is from all the exercising I've been doing, but unless you count picking up Bear and taking books to and from my shelves while I do research exercise, that isn't it.  I mentioned it to Archer, and he said, "Well, it makes sense."  I gave him a quizzical look.  He said, "M, you had to hold Bear down for over an hour on Monday night while the nurses at the ER tried to give him an IV.  He weighs 27 pounds and is as strong as an ox."  Right.  That would explain it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Another question for my readers

This question refers to my previous post

Is there a way to ask someone, who is well intentioned, not to post personal information about my children or me on Facebook?  After last night's ordeal, I woke up to find that Pita (yes, we're friends on FB again) had posted a prayer request for Bear.  While I do appreciate that her intentions were good, I don't appreciate her sharing the news so publicly, especially as she is friends with my father and brother, neither of whom yet knew about Bear's trip to the ER.  As soon as I saw her post, I had to call my parents and my brother, so they didn't see her post and get worried--or be hurt that I hadn't yet called them.  Again, I know she was well intentioned, but I really, really don't like that she posted something like this so publicly.  I also know this feeling is a bit ironic given that I just wrote a blog post about the incident.  I also realize that it is entirely likely I'm overreacting, but it really bothers me.  I know I will likely just have to let it go, but if anyone can think of a tactful way to make this request please let me know.

*As an aside, Pita knew about Bear's trip to the ER b/c Yetta called right as Bear and I were leaving.  Archer told her to get her off the phone quickly.  This is usually the sort of thing we don't share with our families until after the fact because it makes life less complicated.

A frustrating evening

Last night Bear and I spent the evening in the emergency room.  He is absolutely fine now, and it seems as though what we experienced was a complete fluke.  That said, the entire experience was an exercise in frustration for me.  Here is what happened.

We spent the afternoon at the pool swimming with the boys.  Both Bear and Wild Man love the water, and in an attempt to help them learn to swim better and to give our backs a rest, we bought both boys life jackets.  This meant that Bear was not attached to my hip and that I could allow him more freedom in the water.  It also means that he was much more active in the water than he has been the last few times we've gone to the pool.  We left the pool at 4:20 and headed home to prepare for a dinner with friends.  By the time we got home 10 minutes later, Bear was crying.  Archer and I both thought he was either tired or hungry.  As I took him into the house, it became very clear he was not tired or hungry.  First, he wasn't crying as much as he was screaming.  Second, he was squirming a lot, as though he was struggling to get comfortable.  I took him upstairs and laid him down on my bed.  I quickly changed into dry clothes and then took off Bear's diaper.  I though he might be struggling to poop, but he wasn't.  His stomach was, however, as hard as a rock.  I pumped his legs a few times to see if that would relieve the pain, and while he farted a lot, he continued to scream.  By then, our guests had arrived.  Archer came upstairs to check on Bear, and he tried to comfort him as well.  Bear responded by screaming "Mommy!"  So I sent Archer back downstairs to entertain and finish getting dinner ready.  Then, I walked with Bear, hoping that would calm him down.  Then, I put him in his crib (after he asked me to do so, something he has never done).  I rubbed his back, and he fell asleep for a few minutes, only to wake up screaming in pain.  Archer came back up to give me a bit of a break and to ask me to finish making cole slaw, something he thought would be easier for me to do than to explain to him.  He managed to get Bear calm and brought him downstairs a few minutes later.  For the next ten minutes or so, Bear clung to me, but he was calm.  He asked for water and tried to eat a potato chip.  Just as I was starting to relax, he started screaming again.  I took him back upstairs leaving Wild Man and Archer to deal with our guests.  After another 10 minutes of trying to determine why Bear was in so much pain, I decided to go to the ER.  I told Archer, who seemed a bit taken aback,* and we left. 

Being in the car seemed to calm Bear down (and in hindsight, I think the pressure of the straps on his stomach helped alleviate the pain), but he started crying as soon as I took him out.  Luckily it was a quiet night, so we were taken back almost immediately.  It likely helped that Bear screamed the entire time the triage nurse examined him and refused to let her touch his stomach.  The doctor saw Bear within 15 minutes of us being taken to the exam area, and he assured me I had done the right thing bringing him in.  He said, "It may just be that he drank too much water at the pool, but he is clearly in a great deal of pain."  He explained that Bear's pattern of getting very upset and then calming down was concerning him.  He said if it was just gas the pain would be more consistent until it dissipated in some way.  He was further concerned by the fact that none of the farting or belching Bear had done seemed to alleviate the pain at all.  So he ordered an x-ray, which only showed a lot of gas in Bear's system.  He then ordered an abdominal ultrasound to make sure it wasn't some sort of obstruction, assuring me if it was we would be catching it very early as Bear hadn't vomited.  Before we could do the ultrasound, Bear had to have an IV to get him hydrated as well as blood taken.  It took the nurses three tries, an hour, and my insistence that they put the damn IV in Bear's leg before we were through that ordeal (I also had to hold him down and endure my very verbal two year old telling me, "Mommy, please no more hurt!" as well as him asking for both Archer and Wild Man before it was over).  By then it was 8:30, and we'd been in the ER for 3 hours. 

After the IV was in, Bear cuddled in my arms and rubbed my hair.  He was so calm that one of the nurses just wheeled us back to radiology in the hospital bed.  He actually fell asleep during the ultrasound, which amazed both me and the technician.  By 9:30 we were back in the ER, and Archer was there.  After he'd gotten Wild Man asleep, he'd asked one of our friends to stay with Wild Man so he could come to the hospital to check on us.  By 10:20 the doctor came over to talk to us.  The ultrasound showed nothing out of the ordinary, and he told us we could go home once he'd gotten the results from the blood work.  By 11:10, those results were back, and they were clear.  So after giving us some instructions, the doctor released Bear.  We have no idea, really, what caused the sudden and severe pain.  The best explanation the doctor could give was that Bear had ingested too much chlorinated water, although he again admitted he was concerned about the level of pain and the way it seemed to come and go.  Bear slept through the night, and he was in good spirits this morning.  Aside from a bruise on his arm, where the nurses attempted to put the IV, he has no signs of his traumatic evening.

I, however, am frustrated.  Why?  Well, I'd like to give everyone at the damn hospital, with the exception of the doctor and the ultrasound technician, a lesson in dealing with children.  Everyone we encountered needs to work on their bedside manner, especially considering that this is an ER solely for children.  From the nurse who asked me if I wanted to wake up my just turned two year old to take him to go pee before trying to give him an IV (I mean, seriously?  And the way the question was framed made absolutely no sense.  It was as though the nurse was telling me that Bear was old enough to be potty trained) to the x-ray tech who told Bear to stop crying so she could get a clearer image (really, I'd like to know what two year old doesn't cry when his mother is forcing him into very awkward positions while he is clearly in pain) to the three nurses who preferred to keep trying to get the IV in his arm (they looked at me like I was nuts when, after three failed attempts, I adamantly insisted they put it in his ankle, where they got it on the first try) to the medical student who insisted on speaking to Bear like he could understand everything she said (I do understand that they are students, but seriously?  Has no one ever pulled them aside and said, "You don't need to raise your voice to speak to children.  And it's better if you explain things in a soft voice as simply as possible."  She literally seemed to want him to respond when she said, "Do you understand I'm going to examine you now?"  I said, as calmly as I could, "The only thing he understands is that he is in pain and in a strange place.  Get on with it, ok?").  Almost every person we encountered needs some instruction on how to deal with children and their parents.  And this isn't the first time I've experienced such frustration at the Children's Hospital.

Thankfully, however, Bear is fine. 

*Archer was taken aback because this is typically the kind of decision I agonize over.  I do not like hospitals.  I do not like taking my children to hospitals.  Every other time we've had to take the boys to the ER, we've only done so after a lengthy conversation and after consulting with either our own doctor or getting a friend's opinion.  He was taken aback, I think, because I made the decision without any discussion.