Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My grandfather

 My cousin found this photo of our grandfather and sent me a copy. I may write a longer post at some point, but for now I just want to share this striking image of a man who has been instrumental in my life. In fact, Wild Man is named after him. In this image, he is smiling as he prepares to enter one of the many coal mines in which he worked throughout his life. The look captures the essence of his personality--open, loving, positive. This is the grandfather I remember, a man always ready to give a hug, to tell a joke, or to laugh with you. He has, unfortunately, become increasingly depressed since my grandmother died in November of 2010. He still shows us glimpses of this person, but he is now 86, suffering from numerous physical ailments, and in constant pain. He misses his wife, to whom he was married for almost 62 years; in fact, she died a few days before their 62nd wedding anniversary.  He rarely smiles now, and it can be difficult to get him to laugh or to join in family activities or conversations.  But I know this part of him is still in there somewhere, and this is how I think of my grandfather.
Today is Wild Man's last day of kindergarten.  In September, he will begin Grade 1 (as they say in Canada).  It's hard to believe he is old enough to be entering primary school.  I am feeling a bit nostalgic today for my baby boy, who is definitely no longer a baby.  He is a truly wonderful, loving, kind-hearted, inquisitive, and often-times stubborn little boy.  The first photo was taken a few weeks after he was born in 2006, and the second I took this spring as the daffodils he and I planted were blooming.

Trying to work

I've been trying to work for the last few weeks, with an emphasis on trying.  I've got a lot of projects that are started, but aren't yet finished.  I am fully aware that all work will stop for at least a month (if not longer) following the baby's birth, so I want to get as much done on these projects as possible.  Here is a list of the things I'm working on:
  • transforming conference paper into an article length paper
  • drafting conference paper which I will present in October
  • editing the job talk I recently gave into an article, which I hope to send out next week
  • finishing a book review that is long overdue
  • drafting a book proposal on an anthology I'm working on with two colleagues from grad school
  • researching an idea I have for a book project
  • outlining revisions I need to make to a dissertation chapter which I want to transform into an article
  • revamping a course I routinely teach into an online course (this is the only project I will not try to work on at all when I'm on leave as, by union regulations, I cannot work on anything connected to my teaching)
It is a long list, and somehow in the next two weeks I need to get our home office functional so I can use it while I'm on leave.  My hope is that by September I'll be able to work for an hour and a half a day while the baby naps.  That may only work for three days each week as Bear will be home with me and the baby two days a week (as an aside, cutting Bear down to part time and having Wild Man in school full time has dramatically cut down on our childcare costs--as in we'll be paying about a third of what we pay now), but I know, to some extent, what I'm getting into.  I'm focusing on being flexible.  I am also going to load my Kindle up with books for work that I've been wanting to read for a long time.  If anything, I'll get lots of reading done in the next few months. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Full Term

I am officially full term (37 weeks) today.  Theoretically, the baby can come at any time now.  We've spent the past two weeks getting prepared.  I've washed and organized all the clothes.  We've been shopping for furniture more times than I care to mention as we can't agree on anything.  The baby's bag for the hospital is packed, and I've started throwing some things I will need into a bag.  We've also put together an emergency kit in the event we have a home birth.* We're more or less prepared for the baby's arrival. 

Archer even  spent part of yesterday cleaning out our car and installing and rearranging car seats.  We purchased two of these car seats, one for Bear and one for the baby.  These car seats have steel frames, which makes it possible for the manufacturer to make them narrower.  They are actually designed to fit three across.  Wild Man will stay in his current car seat, although we may order him one of these.  It isn't essential, as all three seats do fit in the back seat now, but one of these would allow us to put Wild Man in the middle rather than Bear.  It is currently a bit difficult to get Bear buckled into his car seat.  I have to perform a bit of acrobatics to buckle him while I'm in the front seat.  Again, it's manageable, just not ideal.  I'm also a little concerned about putting Bear right next to the baby.  I have no idea how he will react to the baby.  He is very excited about the idea of the baby, and he spends a bit of time every evening "talking" to the baby and "kissing" the baby.  He really does seem to understand that my stomach will go away and a baby will just appear at the house one day.  But the theory is much different than the reality.  Wild Man is old enough to distract the baby during a car ride or to retrieve a pacifier or even to hold a bottle.  Bear likely could do all of these things too, but he may also take out some frustration on the baby--poking eyes, pinching, and the like.  I'd be more comfortable if Wild Man were right next to the baby.  But with his current car seat that isn't possible for a variety of reasons.  We've decided to see how Bear reacts to the baby and then go from there.

This evening we will put the bassinet we purchased back together (I got it second hand, so I washed all the bedding) and we will also put the bassinet for the stroller together (also purchased second hand).  I need to spend some time sterilizing bottles and breast pump accessories (I gave mine away last summer, so I bought a new one off of eBay, at a reduced price).  Once that is done, it is really a matter of waiting.  I told Archer last night now that we've got everything organized (as organized as we can be, at least) I'll be a week late.

*As a side note, we've had several lengthy conversations about home births.  I'm actually fine with having a home birth, but Archer, who is concerned about complications, is not.  I do have fast labors, however.  We both realize we may have a home birth, even if that is not what we intend, so we wanted to be prepared in the event that we aren't able to make it to the hospital.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Bear!

I can't believe my sweet, rambunctious, stubborn, funny boy is three today!


As I posted a few weeks ago, Yetta and I have been getting along very well.  She has, however, made a few comments in the last few days that I'm trying hard not to let bother me.  To that end, I'm writing a post to get out my frustration rather than let it eat away at me.
  • She called last night while Archer was taking Wild Man to soccer practice.  She called at 6:00, which she knows is dinner time at our house, and she wanted to have a lengthy conversation about the boys' school pictures.  Yes, that's right, she was calling to passive/aggressively remind me to send her copies of the boys' school pictures.  And I do mean passive/aggressively.
  • While we were talking, she also asked if it is okay if she and Pita visit together during August.  Archer and I had thought that Yetta was coming alone and that Pita was coming sometime in the fall.  She assured me their visit will only overlap by 3 or 4 days; she told Archer 2 or 3 days.  I do not think I will be in the frame of mind to have them both in the house when the baby is only a few weeks old, but how can I say, "Um, no!"?  I've asked Archer to handle this as tactfully as possible.
  • She also asked if we're planning to travel to Home State for Christmas.  Seriously. 
  • She called this morning to wish Bear a happy birthday, which was incredibly thoughtful.  We were, however, trying to get out of the house (she called at 8:30), so Archer and I opted not to answer it.  Rather than leave a message, she hung up and called right back--three times.  So Archer finally answered it.  She also asked if we could have another birthday party for Bear when she's here in August.  Archer was forced to remind her we aren't having a birthday party for Bear (we are having some friends over for cake on Sunday, but that's it), and he was again subject to a lecture on what terrible parents we are.
I am fully aware that I am extra sensitive to everything right now.  In fact, last night Archer said something about renovating the basement, and I was suddenly in tears for no reason I could explain.  That said, I wish my MIL had it in her to be more aware that right now is not the best time to bombard me with lots of questions.  I am a place where I'm quite likely to be rude or start crying.  I am, after all, 36 1/2 weeks pregnant.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Having it all

In this month's The Atlantic, Anne-Marie Slaughter considers "Why Women Still Can't Have it All."  I haven't read the complete article, but I have read portions of it here.  I will likely write a longer post about this in the next few days, but for now I want to say that the idea of having it all is a bit absurd, at least to me.  I find this phrase as irksome as the phrase "achieving a balance." 


Summer is typically a time when I blog more, but the last few weeks have been taken up with a myriad of meetings, travel, and organization.  I'm resorting to an updates post to get back in the swing of blogging.
  • My contract finally came in.  I am officially on a t-t line with a joint appointment in two departments that I never thought I'd be in, at least not permanently.  In some ways this is a relief--I  now have what so many of my grad school friends and colleagues are struggling to find: a tenure-track job.  In other ways though, it is a reminder that the thing I had been promised for over a year didn't work out.  I'm still coming to terms with that reality, it seems.  I am going to have to recreate myself as a scholar, at least to some degree, which I'm more or less okay with.
  • I'm currently 36 weeks along, and we're in the process of getting organized.  All the baby clothes I've saved have been washed and put away.  We've bought a "fancy" stroller, second hand.  It came with the bassinet, which I think will be really useful throughout the fall as I will be meeting Wild Man at the bus during what I expect will be the baby's afternoon naptime.  I'm hoping to get the baby to sleep in the bassinet and then walk over to the bus stop without having to wake the baby up.  We'll see if the baby is amenable to my plan though.
  • We've also bought a bassinet, second hand, as the baby will be in our room for the first few months at least.  
  • We're planning relatively major renovations to the basement, which has a large room that is partially finished.  The plan is to completely finish it and turn it into a large bedroom for Bear and Wild Man.  Archer will be doing much of the work; thus, he will be the one making many of the decisions regarding the renovations.
  • Archer can be indecisive, painfully so.  He has currently researched at least four options for insulating the basement, and he cannot decide which he wants to do.  My only requirement is that the insulation be environmentally friendly as I want to limit the amount of off-gassing the boys are exposed to.  Each of the options he is considering fulfills this requirement, and each is more or less the same price.  Two involve a bit more labor, but he argues will result in a better looking and longer lasting finished product.  My stance is the same.  I'm not the one doing the work, so I don't care.  
  • We've also been shopping for a bed for Bear.  This is sort of essential, as Bear is currently sleeping in the toddler bed (which converts back into a crib) that the baby will use.  I estimate that we can make the bassinet work for about 4 months, so we do have some time.  Ideally though I'd like to have Bear in a twin bed by the beginning of August.  CU Land has remarkably few furniture stores.  Archer also feels strongly that Bear's furniture should match Wild Man's furniture.  This makes it difficult as we bought Wild Man's furniture second hand over three years ago.  It is a great set, including a captain's bed, a dresser with a mirror, and a bedside table, all made out of birch.  It needs to be refinished, a project we haven't had the time to undertake, but it is in great shape.  Plus we got all three pieces for around $350--a steal considering it is made out of wood.  So we either have to buy both boys new furniture or try to find Bear something that matches Wild Man's furniture.  Again, Archer cannot make a decision.  There is an unfinished furniture store in town, and we could get a similar bed in the same finish as Wild Man's at a reasonable price, again considering it will be wood.  Archer cannot decide "what makes the most sense," the phrase he uses when he is either unable or unwilling to make a decision.  At this point, I just don't care.  I've done all the legwork on this.  I've taken us to every single furniture store in town.  I've searched Craig's List and Kijijii, to no avail.  We haven't found anything he really likes.  So I'm giving him till next week to make a decision, and then I'm going to buy something without him.
  • We've ordered new car seats for the baby and for Bear, much to our families' dismay.  They are all very concerned that we're not buying a mini-van.  Well, the new car seats total $700, which isn't cheap, but a new mini-van is well over $30,000.  We've managed for the past four years with only one car, primarily because Archer and I work in the same place.  Come 2013, it will be a bit harder to manage, as each of our children will be going to a different school (Wild Man to the French Immersion school in our district, Bear to the primary school in our neighborhood for JK, and the baby to the daycare on campus).  This will mean a lot of time in the car for Archer and me, or it could mean that we finally use the bus system, which is fairly good in CU Land.  We've just been lucky to not have to use it regularly thus far.  When we do buy a car, it likely won't be a mini-van, but a small SUV with four-wheel drive, a feature that would be very handy during winter.  Our families are upset, we think, because we cannot fit anyone else in our car when they come to visit.  Our logic is simple.  They come to visit no more than three times a year.  It is infinitely less taxing on our budget to rent a car when they come to visit than it is to buy a new car, but they don't seem to understand it.
  • Our lives are about to change fairly dramatically, and I'm honestly not sure any of us is prepared.
  • We do, at least, have a list of names that everyone in the family, including Bear and Wild Man, agree on, so Baby #3 will have a name, whether he proves to be a boy or a girl.

Monday, June 11, 2012


That is my current state of being.  I am in constant discomfort, although I'm trying hard not to complain. It likely doesn't help that this is my third pregnancy and that I'm not the biggest fan of being pregnant.  There I admitted that publicly.  I love being a mother, and I love my children.  I do not, however, love being pregnant.  In fact, I am scornful of any woman who says something like, "Oh being pregnant was so wonderful.  I loved every moment of it!  I was never sick and never uncomfortable and would do it over and over again!"  Frankly, I think such statements are crap.  Being pregnant has its wonderful moments, there is no doubt about that.  But, for me, the pregnancy begins and ends with morning sickness (throwing up at 35 weeks is NO fun); the middle includes a brief burst of energy that has been accompanied by constipation, breast pain, and sciatic pain.  Yes, feeling the baby move is wonderful and all of that, but honestly, there is a lot about pregnancy that I could live with out.  And yes, my cynicism is likely influenced by the fact that I am currently 35 weeks pregnant, that I am not sleeping well, and that I am in pain either when sitting or standing for too long.  Oh, all of my clothes feel too tight, my breasts are enormous (at least for me), and my fingers are starting to swell.  I am desperately craving sushi and margaritas, neither of which I can have, so I am more than a bit cranky. 

Monday, June 04, 2012

Waiting. . .

I just had a lovely conversation with the Dean's assistant, who called to let me know that a contract has been drafted.  I should receive it in the next week or so, once it has cleared all the appropriate channels and been signed by everyone.  At that point, I can negotiate if I want to.  I think, however, I'm just going to sign the damn thing.  It will be so good to have all of this behind me.