Sunday, October 30, 2011


I came late to the game of blogging.  It was already done, and done well, by the time I decided to try my hand at it.  And I am such a piker, resolutely keeping things on this site low fi.  Pictures?  Nah.  Fantastic recipes?  Wonderful links?  Gorgeous artwork?  Cunning design? No, no, no and no.  It's just me and my words, and I stubbornly persist, thinking that perhaps this appeals to someone.

It does appeal to me.   Hypocritcial and oxymoronical as it is, having a low-tech blog gives me perverse pleasure.

So, it has been a surprise to have readers, and to have made contacts with some wonderful fellow-bloggers.  That too (the making of a community) was a well-established blogosphere cliche long before I started writing.  Yet here I am in Welcome to My World, alongside some very talented writers who do this kind of thing and make a living off it.

Also, I was given the chance to get a FREE new pair of prescription glasses.  As an academic, this is shocking.  What?  Goodies in exchange for work?  Unheard of!

So, I ordered new glasses, for free, from 1800specs.

I've known for years that it's cheaper to get one's eye doctor to hand over the prescription and then shop around for frames.  They have to give you your prescription, you know.  They can also tell you your prescription if you let them have a good look at your existing glasses with one of their machines.

I went online, chose frames, plugged in my prescription and voila, 14 working days later: new glasses in the mail.

Now, you should be better at this than I am, for I have delusions about my appearance, apparently, and chose a set of frames several yards too wide for my face.  That ought to be blamed on me, though.  I do the same thing if I buy clothes online.

Aside from the fact that the frames are too big for my face, the glasses are perfect, and 1800specs was easy peasy to deal with.  Their shtick is that they charge 1/3 the price of normal eyewear shops.  The glasses I got would have cost under USD $100 for frames, lenses and shipping if they hadn't been free in exchange for this review.  That's pretty damn good, no?

So. I feel better knowing that the next time Winton enthusiastically swipes my head, knocking my glasses into the gutter under our car, it's not a crisis in the category of "Oh crap, I totally can't afford to replace those right now . . . or possibly ever."  What a relief.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Claraism du Jour (yes, she's back in form!)

Mummy, I can do whatever I like with my butt, because my butt is magic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This time yesterday (our ER visit)

At this time yesterday (6.35pm), Clara had just slipped getting into the bath, fallen backwards and knocked herself into a seizure.

Whatever delusions I had about being calm under pressure were unfounded: I vaguely recollect being so panicked that the air seemed to be green, as did Clara's face, and her eyes as they rolled upwards.  My reaction had Winton shrieking in fear, and continuing to shriek as Clara, confused, came back to herself and said to me accusingly "Mummy, why did you take me out of the bath?" clearly recollecting nothing of the intervening 15 seconds or so of her flailing.


What followed, thankfully, was Husband's arrival on the scene, and my bundling Clara into the car to head for an emergency room.  We went to Sinai, reputed to have pediatric intensive care, had trouble finding the right entrance to ER and then had to park so awkwardly I bushwhacked in the dark up a hill to get to the absolutely packed lobby.

All while Clara behaved completely normally: "Mummy, it's dark out!  Why are you driving so fast?  I've never been here before.  Why are we in the bushes? Why is that man wearing a red towel on his leg?"

Appalled by the population density at Sinai and the wait to simply get to the front desk, I ran carrying Clara back to the car and drove up to GBMC--parking directly across from the ER and a much less daunting waiting room.

We spent 40 minutes getting to an ER, which is ridiculous.  Next time--godforbid--I'm calling 911.  And then we spent 7 hours in ER, having a consult, waiting, having a CAT scan, waiting, having another consult, waiting, having a pediatrics consult, waiting, and finally giving up on the radiologist (also called for a consult but unresponsive) and leaving with a sheaf of paperwork just shy of 3 AM.

Those night hours also featured: endless games of "I Spy," numerous efforts to count to 100 (I am slightly more proficient than Clara . . . but perhaps only slightly when stressed, tired and distracted) and a joint effort to "rest" spooned on a narrow hospital bed in a freezing examination room under fluorescent lights.  For me, impatient by nature and hyped-up on adrenaline, it was an instructive set of hours, schooling me in the art of letting my time be in someone else's hands (perhaps as an academic, used to aggressively shaping my time, this is an especially unpracticed skill).

It was far easier to spend quiet moments thinking about time than thinking about the moment in which I realised my daughter was not flailing to annoy me, and in fact was flailing only as a body, with nothing of my daughter's self about those movements or rolling eyes, as if she had already left.

Today: CAT Scan sent to neurologist at Hopkins for follow-up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What I forgot to do today . . .

To call the vet.  Husband and I hold out vague "hope" that Pepita might have a bladder issue that a magic pill could solve, thus making it possible for us to have absorbent furnishings again.  Scare quotes on "hope" because it seems somewhat possible that the  cat has diabetes and that would be a long, expensive problem all of its own (though mitigated by the possibility of having throw rugs again).

Monday, October 24, 2011

You know you're thinking slowly when

it's already 2.15 pm and you have just accomplished item one on your to do list (while idly wondering whether to google "symptoms of mono").

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bleak House

I have mused before that the ideal way to sap someone's will to live is to inflict on them a series of small but significant mishaps/ hardships.  For instance, as my last 24 hours have demonstrated: needing to fast for a bloodtest, discovering that someone has egged my car, being grumpy at preschool drop-off and then feeling bad, being repeatedly interrupted at work, having a meeting run and hour and half late, having tired children who scream the whole ride home, coming home to see Pepita pee into the downstairs curtains, noticing, abjectly, that we have rid our house of couch, carpets and most soft items because of cat pee, and then starting off the weekend  by attending a school open house, thus reminding myself of the herculean effort it will be to find a school place for Clara that we can afford.  Yay life.  Our small house stinks and is uncomfortable, the children need more than I can give them, and I have forgotten what is supposed to feel good about all of this.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Alarming incidents

1) Pepita emerged from the basement last night with a small squirming snake in her mouth.  This is the second small squirming basement snake in as many weeks.  Do they live down there?  Thank-god Pepita, who is otherwise a rowdy little trouble maker, is coming good on this.  I hope she is catching them all.  I hope there isn't a "them."

2) Winton woke me in tears: "I can't find Neh Neh [his blanket]!  "O, no, Mummy!  I dropped it"  On closer inspection, Neh Neh was under his head, where it usually is. Cause of distress?  Winton dreamt he'd dropped Neh Neh out of bed.

3) A policeman came to talk to Clara's class yesterday about what police officers do.  This morning she is all about making pretend 911 calls with me as emergency services.
Clara [into a toilet paper spool] "Hello?  911?"
Me [into my tea cup] "Yes, this is 911.  Fire, ambulance or police?"
Clara "Fire and Veterinarian, please."
Me "What seems to be the trouble, Ma'am?  We don't usually do veterinary emergencies."
Clara "My kitty has fire coming out of her ears."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


What I often call Winton: "Little Man" (it looks pejorative in print: it's not meant to be)
What Winton said to Husband last night: " Thanks for dinner, Little Daddy."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

field trip

With Clara's class, to a field, with pumpkins, llamas, an emu, hay bales stacked into an inventive playground, rabbits, apple cider, a mock "bring your produce to market" area, a very dirty horse, and a bouncily thrilling hay ride in the flatbed of a pick-up truck.

For her: fun, some chagrin over not being in the same playgroup as her close friend Ingrid, and fresh-air induced hunger.
For me: relief once providing transport for a mother and her son, both of whom are even more socially awkward than I, was over, and anxiety provoked by chatting with other parents about the surplus demand for kindergarten options for city residents.

hack hack wheeze wheeze.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Immune systems

How is it that Winton is the only one of our human household not currently sick?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The elements redefined in terms of work

Earth= sh*t when it comes from below
Air=Hot Air, sometimes my own.
Water= sh*t when it rains from above
Fire= Fires.  Whenever I put one out, a new one erupts.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Clara and Winton: Preoccupations

Winton [after farting, and then staring intently at his lap for probably 2 entire minutes, to the tune of "Shoo Fly, don't bother me"]:
Bum burps don't bother me
Bum burps don't bother me
Bum burps don't bother me
'Cause they belong to everybody!

He laughed his head off, and I think he quite deserves to laugh at his own joke.  This is a good adaptation of a tune for a 2 year old to have come up with on his own, no?

Clara: "Mummy, my room has P in it"
[to me this sounds like "pee," of which we have had altogether too much recently thanks to contentious felines and a potty-training Winton]
Me: "Oh no!  Where?  Which cat peed?"
Clara: "No, not pee, P: there's a picture, a painting, a pink thing and a piece of paper."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dear Rachel,

Dear Rachel Aydt,

Thank you for your essay "Robot Moms in the Closet" in the e-anthology Welcome to My World.  On Friday I said I would review it (then motivated by the aptness of robot moms), but life got in the way and now it is even more apt.  So, sorry I'm late (not my first apology today), and thanks for helping me think through some stuff.

What grabbed my attention about your essay in the first place was the terrific idea that one could have a closet full of situationally-appropriate Moms waiting to be deployed, among them "Bill Paying Mother," "Cooking Mother," and "Patient-Kind-and Generously Spirited Mother."  That last one I really need with my kids, especially at around 7 pm when the unending rout of "I need potty" and "I'm thirsty" begins.

You pit the Robot Moms against "that highly regrettable Temper Thing": I love how the caps make this thing a monster, like Beowulf's Grendel.  In my life, I have a Temper Thing too, I call it The B*tch with Seven Heads . . . I think I must be 7 times less good at containing my ire than you are.  Yours is a rich and wonderful premise that someone should make a movie of.  I'd watch the Robot Moms battling a hairy snarling Temper Thing.  The moms would surely win, right?

Where your essay has helped me in the last two days is in thinking about how sometimes eleven-day school breaks or other ostensibly routine interruptions to routine (mine has been departmental chair business intruding on the business of balancing teaching and mothering) can turn one's life "inside out" (another fantastic image . . . for that is just how I feel today: like my slippery innards are on the outside for anyone to poke at). 

It is then that the "reactive" Temper Thing gets a bit of an edge, no? Innards in the right place, and the debt collector from the library (please do elaborate on that story--it, like the snippets about your son's teachers, are intriguing, compelling details), is a small deal.  Inside out and it's hard to keep tabs on Mr. Temper.

"Reactive" characterizes well my last days.  I need to shift from thinking of myself as the sh*t, and recognise that I am the pipe through which the sh*t flows.  In fact, I think I might get a piece of plumbing pipe to have on my desk as a paperweight, just to remind me.

However, being reactive is precisely what gets me blogging.  I come to this little window to compose the posts that allow me to compose myself.  That's what I love about reading other mommyblogs as well: I get a snippet of how other people react to empty fruit bowls (your substitution of fruit leather is sensible) impossible schedules and dirty school uniforms.  Those insights into how other people can be reactive too save my sanity, they really do.

It's inspiring how you balance everything as a writer working from home (and sometimes not getting paid!  Shame on you, reprobate publishers.  That's not right!!), even when there aren't enough moments and the ones we have are flying by.

Thanks for your essay.  I'd write more, but I've got to go get my kids now.



Friday, October 7, 2011


Hardie, our phlegmatic basset-hound mix with droopy ears, has a yeast infection.  In one of those massive ears.  Can you even imagine?  He must be near insane with the itchiness.  He's been prescribed an ear drop called "Momentamax."

Doesn't that just demand an exclamation after it?

And it sounds all wrong for a canine ear medicine.


Momentamax! For her pleasure.

Momentamax!  We'll help you manage your time better.

Momentamax!  Faxing documents via your iphone!

Or even:

Momentamax!  A house and time division schedule that will keep your angry cats separate from one another (such schedule just instituted chez nous).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I yelled

The regret and guilt are instant.

We were 20 minutes past bedtime.  I had a late afternoon faculty meeting, so the children had been at preschool later than usual, and then dinner was later, and we were all tired.
I got them bathed, and toothbrushed and pottied and hairbrushed and storied and in bed.

Then I went to answer work email and Winton shrieked that he needed to go to the potty.  Though I knew he didn't, I am really trying to encourage potty usage, so I took him.  And he didn't pee.

On putting him back in bed, Clara asked for a glass of water . . . and I lost my biscuit.

I believe I stamped my feet as though I was even younger than them, and yelled at a volume our row-house neighbors could probably hear, "Yrrrrrrgnzf!  You two are making me  SO DAMN FRUSTRATED!"

They both then shut up.

And I felt instantly guilty and awful and went about kissing their heads and apologising.


A Sorry State of Affairs

As indicated by this subject line in my morning email to Husband:
Peeday (oh wait, they are all pee days)

Particularly sad?  I am referring to an ongoing turf war between our cats, not to incontinent children.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Claraism du Jour [annotated]

Mummy, I'm going to sing a song. 
[Not unusual]

May and Noodles went up the hill, up the hill, up the hill.
May and Noodles went up the hill to see what was on the farm.
[Unusual: 18 months ago we had a month of pet death.  May, my beagle, and Noodles, my elderly cat, both passed away.  I haven't mentioned them recently, BUT Husband's elderly cat seems not to be thriving.  Perhaps Clara senses something?]

On the farm they walked and walked, walked and walked, walked and walked.
On the farm they walked and walked, and then laid down and died.
[Um.  Unstinting acknowledgement of home truths.  Are four year olds supposed to be so matter-of-fact about death?]

Monday, October 3, 2011

Claraism du Jour

Clara [on seeing a bunch of balloons flying so far overhead they looked like wee black flies]:
"Mummy, wishes came out of my eyes and turned to glitter and then turned to balloons.  There they are.  Those are my wishes."