Thursday, June 30, 2005

1 or 2

Tom and I have frequent conversations about whether we should have another kid. We generally have these conversations after a Zoe visit, when we are completely pooped out from managing both a baby and a 6-year-old. Funny enough, the baby seems easier to manage than the 6 year old. This isn't fair, of course. When we get to borrow Zoe, we expend a lot of energy establishing rules and operating procedures. As soon as we get the hang of things, she goes home again. We also, I think, find it frustrating that we can't have more continuous influence in her life. While she is here, there is no McDonalds, Disney videos don't exist, and she must at least try everything on her plate. We only shop at Trader Joe's, so that she is not tempted by Oreos and Doritos (the last time we took her to a supermarket, she left in tears because we wouldn't get chocolate mini donuts, and "you didn't get anything I like!"). She is pretty convinced at this point that food brands are just different in California: "In Lebanon [Indiana] we have Coco Crisp, in California there's Koala Crisp!" Maybe she also thinks we have books instead of cartoons, as she didn't watch any TV while she was here, and we did lots of family reading time.

So after these visits, we talk about whether we should add to our family. Surprisingly, I am more interested in having another child than Tom. Before the Munch, it was the other way around. As an only child, I really saw all of the advantages of having one child in the house. Tom, as one of five, thought having a couple of kids in rapid succession was the best plan. Now our positions have reversed a bit. Surprisingly (to me), I love being a mom and really want a companion for Munch. I am so afraid I will just smother the little guy if I can't spread my affection and attention around a little more. While Tom is very open to the idea of another kid, he is also very protective of what we have right now, and I think he may be afraid to change the dynamic once again.

Well, it's nothing that is going to happen soon, so we probably don't need to think about it as much as we do. For now, I am just enjoying my time with my precious little family. To quote a Chic classic, "good times, these are the good times."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Going green

A couple of weeks ago, we got a letter from PG&E promoting an energy saving plan for the summer. Reduce usage by 20% and get a 20% rebate off the total of the summer months come September. Well, Tom thought this was a great idea. He signed up in about 30 seconds, and ran outside to check the meter.

I pointed out to him that reducing our usage 20% over last year might be a bit more of a challenge than we could meet. This year we have an extra little person in our family. I am home during the week, so our usage during the day will most likely increase. Plus, we have Tom's daughter, Zoe, visiting for two weeks this summer. Nevertheless, the man was determined. His plan included the standard energy-saving habits of turning out lights when you leave the room. His plan also included unplugging every electrical appliance in the house. Of course I protested. But he was determined, and countered my protestations with "Oh, come on. Its not that inconvenient."

For him. However, I am the one spending the majority of time in the house. As I went about my
"business" I must say I found it rather disconcerting to find all the clocks in the house (on the microwave, coffee maker, alarm clock, etc.) staring at me blankly. But I soon got used to that. I did not, however, get used to having to plug everything in every time I wanted to use it. Most electric appliances and devices are not designed to be unplugged between uses. Most houses are not designed to have outlets used as frequently as electrical switches. Every time I plugged the microwave in (3x/day as I defrost Munch's food cubes), it wants me to program the clock before I can set a cook time. You have to hit a couple of extra buttons each time to bypass this step. Which I routinely forgot. The clock radio on the breakfast table makes the long process of feeding the baby tolerable by keeping me entertained with more adult conversations on NPR. The outlet for this radio is conveniently tucked out of the way under the breakfast table. This clock radio, when programmed correctly, does a very nice job. However, both Tom and myself have found it challenging to set the programming on this radio. Whenever the power goes out, or, say, the clock is unplugged, it starts this annoying little electronic chirp at the top of the hour (the clock's hour, which, of course, does not correspond to any real time zone on this planet). Having to dive under the table to plug the darned thing in at every meal, and then listen to it chirp the hours away (until it was unplugged again) was, well, just a tad annoying. Elsewhere in the house: lamps, printer, coffee maker, breast pump. If you want to use them, just find the cord, plug them in, wait for restart, reprogram the clock, and off you go! Just think of the energy you are saving!

Every day or so Tom would run outside to check the meter and then compare it with our bills from last year. It became apparent after a couple of weeks that all of these efforts were basically having no effect.

We are now, once again, a fully wired and plugged in household.

Postscript: Tom had to fly Zoe back to Indiana on Saturday. The flight was at 6:20 AM, which meant that Tom had to get up at 4:30. He went to set the alarm clock and found that it had not yet joined the ranks of the reilluminated. The joy of this particular clock is that the time (-) button no longer works. In order to set the clock or the alarm you have to use the time (+) button. Oh, come on. It's not that inconvenient.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Going back to skool

So, after all of these high fah-lootin' classes through Stanford Continuing Studies, I am currently enrolled in community college to plug up some psychology prerequisites. Just in case I want to go back to school for reals.

Ways in which class at the College of San Mateo differ from Stanford Continuing Studies, Letterman-style:

10. The back rows of seats fill first.
9. I am (almost?) the oldest one in class, and definitely the only one with a BA.
8. There is a gaping hole on the wall where a clock used to be
7. Slides instead of PowerPoint
6. "Mr." Clare takes attendance.
5. While they issue parking tickets until 10:00, you can only purchase a permit between 8:00 and 5:00.
4. Weekly quizzes
3. Teacher has no email address
2. There are two faded signs in the class which read NO SMOKING NO FOOD OR DRINK IN CLASSROOMS, with those little circle cross-out visuals for those who can't read. I wonder when was the last time somebody actually tried to light up in class?
1. One word: Scantron.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

My answer to my favorite question

At least once a week, someone will look at me with stars in their eyes, and ask "but isn't it the best job you have ever had?" Don't get me wrong, I am glad I decided to quit work to spend time with the Munch. But seriously - these people are missing a screw. In response, I generally smile and offer some vagary along the lines, of "well, he is a pretty special guy." Here is my real answer:

I dunno. When was the last time you had a job that paid nothing and required you to work all of your waking hours, and be on call for all of your sleeping hours? Would you love a job in which you had no conversations all day? How would you feel about a boss who yelled and screamed at you on a daily basis when he didn't get his way? Well, my boss won't clean up his own feces and demands on-demand access to formerly private parts of my body. He expects me to know exactly what to do without specific instruction. Failure in this department is met with temper tantrums, and sometimes physical violence in the form of hair-pulling, pushing, grabbing and twisting of the skin. I am personal assistant, entertainer, personal trainer, cook, housekeeper. Are those jobs that you just DREAM of having someday?

Regarding those who ask this question after having stayed home with their own children, I see two possibilities: 1. They have forgotten what is was like, and their memory has selectively edited the experience down to swing sets and story time, or 2. This is some sort of hazing/initiation into the ranks of motherhood.

I DO love my job. I am so happy to have the option of not working at this time, so that I can embrace this experience. I love my little guy with all my heart and his slobbery kisses and his "happy to see mommy" dances are all the reward I could ever ask for. I don't even mind the diapers. But eternal days of tender moments these are not.
Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 - 05:45pm (PDT) Edit | Delete

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ongoing: Things that now smell like baby poop to me

  • Popcorn
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Gym towels (clean)
  • Multi-vitamins
  • Toast

Check back for more!

Monday, June 13, 2005

If someone wanted me to take a nap I think my answer would be "okay."

Munch is a wonderful child. As far as irrational, temperamental infants go, he's a dream. A happy, playful, baby, who enjoys playing by himself for extended periods of time. A parent's dream. Except when it comes to nap time.

The Munch will be eight months old on Wednesday. That means we have had almost eight months to perfect the art of getting him to sleep. Other parents tell us of their babies, who rub their eyes, coo a little, and knock out as soon as they hit the crib mattress. Please tell me they are lying. Please tell me that they, too, must listen to their child scream as if they have been abandoned to wild boars every time they put them in the crib. My understanding was that this crying was a temporary thing - that they learn to quiet themselves peacefully, and relax into a peaceful slumber after a day or two of this crying business.

Eight months, and he cries every time. Yes, we have a routine. Yes, we try relaxing baths. But if he decides that he is not ready to go down (always), there will be screaming. Frankly, I am tired of this particular challenge. I'm reading for something new - genital groping in public, food smearing in the hair, Operation Draino - Open, I'll take it. Just stop the sleep battles already! Going through the screaming routine four times a day is getting old.

Babies are brilliantly designed. They emerge from the womb knowing to look for the nipple and suckle. They can grasp things with their little hands right off the bat. Babies stare at faces, bonding themselves to the adults around them and thus ensuring their survival. And yet, AND YET they don't know how to let themselves fall asleep. Seems like a pretty obvious omission.

Friday, June 10, 2005

My son the turtle

I know I need to add a picture to this post. Much spends much of his time these days manouvering about on his belly. He suspends all of his limbs in the air and totters on his belly and nose. He looks for all the world like a swimming turtle, enhanced today by his khaki green outfit. He's generally quite content in his solitary struggles. He pulls his knees up, sticks his butt in the air, and rolls over. Or he uses his hands to push himself backwards, away from his intended target. At this point he gets frustrated and starts whining for his mommy. What a baby.

I thought I would let him do his antics this afternoon and take a few moments to check email. At the point that his frustration overwhelmed him, I went to pick him up and found that he was covered in spit-up - on the BACK of his shirt. Explain that one to me. Did his head actually spin 180 degrees? There were no pools of spit-up on the floor, so it is not like he rolled through the stuff. It will have to remain a mystery. Along with his ability to move from one side of the room to the other while I am not looking. While I am watching him, he can only manage to move two feet in any one direction.

He's down for a late and long overdue nap. Time for mommy to sneak in a shower.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

It's a matter of too many pages

I have a book problem.

I buy books. I accept books. I subtly encourage people to give me books as gifts. My hunger for books far exceeds my ability to consume them. They flow out and over the bookcases, they pile in corners, reprimanding me for my lack of attention, "but you promised that I was different, that you would actually read me." I could not keep up with my book supply before, when I commuted on the train and had more than 15 minutes to dedicate to a single activity. Now, I find I can read 3-5 pages before getting interrupted or falling asleep. It is really hard to get through a book of any legnth in 3-5 page increments. So now the book problem is really getting out of control. I have books stuffed around the edges of the bed. I have books crammed into the pockets of the Munch's sleeper. There is one on the microwave and another in the diaper bag. Some are instructional (Super Baby Food) while others are supposed to be pleasure reads (Raising Fences). We simply don't have enough space in our small home to absorb the piles, yet I find that I can't stop. I am addicted to the promise and potential of each volume - this one will teach me, that one holds a story that will touch me deeply, and that one over there will make me see the world just a little differently. But devoting the time that it takes to unearth that potential seems nearly impossible these days - a silly luxury that just doesn't fit my life right now. And yet I continue to collect and horde them. Pile them. Cram them horizontally into the bookcases. Pray that we are not in for a large earthquake in the near future, which would bring the whole mess tumbling down.

My "problem" has already hit the next generation. Munch's collection has grown organically since his birth. I collected his books in a green basket in his room. They no longer fit - they slip and slide out of the basket and hide themselves under the sofabed or nestle behind the diaper pail. He hasn't read through his collection, either.

If you come to our house, please help me. Please find a book you like and take it home with you. Give it a good home, and, perhaps, a good read. Perhaps you can tell me about it when you are done.

I'm off to read my 3-5 pages. Goodnight.