Thursday, December 30, 2010


Apt description of family today . . . except we are also at the same time quick to become belligerent.

Dog (still upset about travel and not eating properly) threw up on Husband's lap today.  Last night dog peed in my bedroom. 

Crumpled napkin in the side pocket of my purse (from a Burger King at a Pennsylvania service stop) reads as follows:

For next year:

1) Starbucks parfait = better than BK breakfast sandwich (even though the former has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it).

2) Children: either stay up on Christmas Eve for the family gathering chez GM [grandma] OR go to Christmas lunch on time (ie without nap). Not both.


There HAS to be a better way.

Our construction paper Xtide tree threw itself off the wall repeatedly and has been put out with the recycling.  Very symbolic.

Children in bed after a return home shopping trip and unexpected extra fee for the dog HAIR in the back of the rental car (Ha! We cleaned that vomit up good).  Winton is singing Happy Birthday to himself repeatedly.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Index (thanks to Harper's Magazine)

Number of times dog threw up in car on way to/ from Illinois: 7
Number of times Winton threw up in car: 1
Number of unnecessary pee stops for Clara: 3
Number of nights in a hotel in Elyria Ohio: 2 (one night each way)
Number of nights in a hotel in which a previous guest's vomit was on the bathroom wall: 1
Number of times dog threw up in hotel: 1
Number of times dog peed on grandma's new carpet: 1
Days of travel to/from Illinois: 4
Days in Illinois: 4
Days in Illinois spent in a car for more than 3 hours: 1
Days in Illinois I spent suffering from stomach flu: 1.5
Number of functions involving more than 10 people/ children over the 4 days in Illinois: 2
Grandma's stress level about those 2 functions: code red
Percentage of Christmas and birthday gifts from Illinois family for Clara (DOB Jan 3) and Winton (DOB Dec 30) that didn't fit in the vast Jeep Grand Cherokee we rented for the trip and will have to be mailed later: 10
Of the remaining 90% of gifts, percentage that fit in the children's play area at home: 35
Number of things Husband broke in fit of temper: 1 (window scraper when unnecessary Clara pee stop coincided with dog vomit in car)
Number of things I broke in a fit of temper: 1 (hand soap dispenser when finally home, overtired, and angry at Husband for not saying thank-you for my having gone on Holiday to his family's)
Best presents: new coat, scarf and banjo lessons (thanks, Husband, and sorry for my temper)

Monday, December 20, 2010


It's been a 6 day fevery mucus-fest at our house.  I took Thursday and Friday off work, even.  I kept the kids home on Friday too (so not "off" entirely then, but off enough given that it meant not having to go out in 22F with daggering gusts of cold wind up to 40 MPH).  Today, I'm in the office and, it being academia, NO ONE else is here. 


Blissfully quiet.  Think of all the work I could do if only I could tear myself away from internet frivolities and the stroking of my own ego with this blog thing . . .

Anyway.  Wednesday we embark on our drive from Baltimore MD to Sycamore IL: a journey of two days (each way), in a vehicle with two kids, two adults, one vomitous/ nervous hound dog and a lot of gear.  I have been watching a lot of Michael Palin travelogues lately (see above re: days off sick), and this has a feel of his largley blighted "Pole to Pole" journey about it to me, in particular a scene in which, near the south pole, a small plane flies away leaving Michael et al. to wait in a small tent, in the middle of nowhere, for an unspecified number of hours, with scant supplies.

I also watched Bela Fleck's "Throw Down Your Heart" while I was out sick.  It made me deliriously ambitious to actually play the banjo perched in the corner of our living room.  I want to sing folk tunes though, not bluegrass, and by "folk tunes" I don't necessarily mean American ones.  There, then.  An amibition for the post 40 years.

And I have a New Year's Resolution too, while I'm at it: go to bed at 8 more often because eating dinner at 5 and then going to bed that early really seems to agree with me (see above re: being out sick). 
(Husband points out I must have turned 80, not 40, back in August.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Claraism du Jour

Mummy, that was a short song I sang.
[gesturing at her own knee] It's only about this tall.


I did the math this morning.  Between having Clara, overlapping nursing and a second pregnancy (with Winton) and then nursing Winton ("chin chin" as he pronounces his name), it has been 4 years and 21 months since my body was last for my use only.  4 years and 21 months of being either vessel (i.e. pregnant) or lunch (i.e. nursing).  4 years and 21 months of living provisionally in the mode of "Well.  These pants will do while I'm pregnant/ losing the baby weight" and "Hmm.  Well.  This shirt will have to do til I'm done nursing."

Thus, I have a wardrobe full of clothes from 5 years ago.  It includes "bootleg" jeans that now fit again, but which I shouldn't wear because the last five years have ushered in the return of "skinny" jeans (how sad that those weren't flattering on me even in 1988) and lurid ski sweaters cut just above the hip, with horizontal stripes.

I have a closet full of who I was at 35, which now, surprisingly, fits again but which has a) gone out of fashion b) doesn't acknowledge that I have turned 40, had two children and successfully gotten tenure.

At 35, wearing the second-hand puffy coat (warm, hideous) acquired during grad school was OK.
At 40, it's not.  I'm not sure why not, but it's not.

Clearly there is more to my mid-life crisis than turning 40.  I've got "over the hill" juxtaposed with "welcome back to being someone you barely remember"  with a large helping of "and everything about your life has now changed" on top.

Inconvenient additional detail: "disposable" income now entirely devoted to disposable diapers and daycare so there isn't actually a budget for obliterating the old wardrobe and starting over.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I think Winton is weaned.  We had been a "left-boob only" establishment for about two and a half months (the more comfortable side, and the one needing "attention" to make it match the right anyway). This week we have moved to no boob at all.  Instead, having never used a pacifier, Winton's now addicted to a "chewbetteh" (in the argot of daycare chez Maria).  Also known as, in his pronunciation, a "petah."

On Winton, milestones and odd pronunciations, this weekend also brought the following conversation:

Husband: "Winton, get your head off the dog's penis."
Winton: [Silent, staring at dog's penis.  Then, with recognition and fellowship] "Oh! Peh-nis! Peh-nis!  Peh-nis!"

And, as we are on the scatological, it also brought Winton mimicking his sister (who had been mimicking the dog) in pretending to pee on a tree.  "Poo-pee, Mummy!"

As for Clara, she is experimenting with the idea of imaginary friends and has one named Charlie who is, apparently, "Henry, but naughty."  Imaginary friends AND Jekyll/ Hyde constructions all at once.  She is very advanced, no?

She had pink eye this weekend.  Both have a hacking cough that sounds a bit like mild croup.

We also made our Christmas tree out of construction paper this weekend.  Last year we must have used up all the appropriate paper colours for decorations (red balls, yellow bells, white snowmen).  This year we have a green tree with: pink love hearts, black cats, blue hounds, yellow "moons" (they look like bananas) and some snowflakes gone wrong that look like doll faces out of a horror movie.  Clara loves it.

I have piles upon piles of grading now.  Ah December.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winton, Pet Names

Winton asks to go home every day after we've dropped Clara off, en route to his daycare.

W: "Hum, Mummy?"
Me: "No. It's a school day.  You're going to see MARIA!"
W: "Oh."
W: "Hahdie hum?"
Me: "Yup.  Hardie's at home."
W: "Puntin hum?"
Me: "Yup.  Pumpkin's at home too."
W:  "Bssssss hum?"
Me: "Briseis?  Yes.  Also home."
W: "Dadi hum?"
Me: "No.  Daddy's at work."
W: "Oh."
W: "Hum?  I do.  I do I do."
Me: "I know, lovey.   But I've got to go to work."
W: "Hahdie hum?"


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Clara, Nietzsche

[of a magnetic finger puppet on our fridge--memento of a time when Husband was doing a PhD in Philosophy]

Clara: "Daddy, can I have that man?"
Husband: "No.   It's Nietzsche."
Clara: "He needs to be naked."
Husband: "He doesn't get naked.  He's a Philosopher."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Terribly 40

I'm not sure why it took an acro-yoga workshop  (3 hours of vaulting into inversions) to clarify that I am no longer who I once was.

When I was 34, I did three ashtanga primary series practices a week and, usually, a vinyasa class in addition to that.  I also walked at least an hour a day with my dog.  I was leaner, stronger, fitter AND I slept a solid 8 hours per night. 

I am now not 34.  I do 30 minutes of self-practice (vinyasa, or iyengar . . . but rarely ashtanga) five days a week.  I walk about half an hour a day (admittedly with a double stroller full of heavy children and a hound dog pulling laterally away from us).  I am baggy in the middle, but relatively healthy.  I have strong arms and a lot of shoulder tightness.  I never get enough sleep.

An acro-yoga workshop at age 34 would have been just the thing. 

At 40, I could do it, for the most part, but it was scary hard to be upside down with my head balanced on someone else who was also upside down.  It was flat-out terrifying to be the "base" on which someone else balanced and to feel myself less strong than the situation called for.  And I am now lamed by stiffness.

For months, I have been lamenting my inability to conjure a mid-life identity for myself (post-reproduction, post-tenure, and it feels like post-attractiveness as well).  How cliche.

Surprisingly, however, I feel good about not being as "into" the extreme yoga scene as I was.  I don't actually want to have dreads, smell of sandalwood and wear a bindi.  I am OK with having chosen to take daily small bits of exercise which work for health but not for show, in exchange for more time with the kids.  (It'd be nice to feel I was more patient when I am with the kids though--I yelled at Clara again this morning after she spent several minutes thudding into me while screeching " GOO GOO GAH GAH").

Shockingly, the baggy midriff, and legs that quiver after too many breaths in virabadrasana 1 don't bother me nearly as much as they would have when I was 34.

These are small beginnings to the end of my mid-life crisis.  I have identitified one thing I'm willing to let go of: my yoga vanity. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Question: What happens when . . .

Your 3 year old flails and cries as you are trying to exit the public, and ostensibly family friendly library ?

Answer: Security sternly offers to escort you from the building.

Damn, I wish I'd had the presence of mind to whip off my pants.

If I'm going to get thrown out of the library it should be for nudity, drunkenness, or singing Celine Dion really loudly . . . In fact I thought those WERE the only reasons one ever got thrown out of public libraries.

Hardie the Inscrutable

Hardie.  The dog that quit obedience school after two classes, and got a refund for the rest of the course because we "weren't getting it."  He of the sudden, unheralded, puddles of clear vomit. 

I have been teaching him to sit before receiving his kibble.  This works by dint of me holding the steel bowl high in the air so that to look at it he has to put his bum on the floor, and it only works providing I don't confuse things by issuing a verbal command, or, god forbid, praising Hardie when he actually sits.

This morning Husband (unschooled in fine art of getting Hardie to do his one "sit" of the day) fed the dog.

20 minutes or so later, I walk into the kitchen to find Hardie staring at his untouched breakfast, hound dog ears drooping sadly, wide-eyed.

Me: "Why isn't the dog eating?"
Husband: "I don't know."
Me: "Did he throw up?"
Husband: "I don't think so."
Me: "Do you think it's because he didn't have to sit for it?  Maybe he thinks he's not allowed to eat it?"

[I hold bowl in the air.  Hardie, already seated, continues to look at it, as though in pain.  I put the bowl down.  I walk away.  Hardie eats.]

Really??  This dog?  THIS dog.  This one now won't eat unless explicitly (through silent ritual) given permission.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Why does it always rain on me"

Remember that song?  Can't, off the top of my head, recall the name of the band ("Trevor" comes to mind, but that's not right).  Il pleut des grosses chats aujourdhui: too much bloody rain.  But, moving on.

The nub of this post is self loathing: I get stressed, especially when I have competing obligations (eg work and children) and especially when trying to get somewhere on time (eg work, which requires dropping off children at two separate facilities first).  My stress ruins the morning for everyone.  Clara gets upset and clingy.  Sometimes she even calls me out on "the line in my head" (deep increasingly permament furrow caused by needless stress).  Winton gets less co-operative.

They say recognising you have a problem is the first step to solving it.  I have a problem: stress.
Now why won't it go away?

There's an idyllic 10 minute period after my daily 30 minutes of yoga in the corner of the college basketball court in which I am relaxed.  Carrying that feeling over into the rest of my day is proving impossible.  Most of the time I feel like I am trying, by dint of thrusting my shoulders up to my ears, to catch up with and on to some invisible flying trapeze that will lift me away into a mood in which not every minute has two or more claims on it.  Lots of work for the shoulders. 
(I hardly ever think about my feet.  You?)

To end on a more jovial note:

Winton provided this morning's dawn chorus (starting at 4.43).  A full hour of "Mummy?  Mummy!  Mu-meee.  Mummeeheee, Where. Are. you?  Mummy?  I love you!"

And then in the car he was yelling excitedly about a truck.  Except he says the "tr" bit as an "f."
Truck indeed!