Previous month:
December 2008
Next month:
February 2009

We do it our way.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that school work can be finished in less time when you're working one-on-one than is required in a classroom setting. Many homeschooling families turn this extra time into a wealth of achievements, as their children earn geography bee ribbons, win science fairs, build replicas of historical buildings, and sequence the human genome.

When I started this homeschooling adventure, lo these many years ago, I imagined that maybe we could be that sort of family someday. I wasn't sure HOW we would become that sort of family, but when you're surrounded by stacks of curriculum catalogs and flash cards and brightly colored math manipulates shaped like jolly little bears, well, anything seems possible.

Today was just the sort of day for us to step up to the high-achieving plate. All schoolwork was done and stowed by 1:45 - despite a Latin-induced breakdown shortly before noon. The afternoon stretched before us, unencumbered and dripping with possibilities. What, I wondered, would my children DO with this richness? How would they fill the hours of this unusually warm January afternoon?

Well. Tre went downstairs to read. Max and Raphael, however, did invent a way to use their time. Using their massive combined brainpower, and considerable creativity, this is what they came up with:

Continue reading "We do it our way." »

I was making lunch today, tortilla pizzas, when Tre wandered in to peer over my shoulder. He's always wandering into the kitchen when I'm cooking, getting in my space, and it makes me insane. Since we'd already argued a few hours before over (of all things) who ate the last slice of Amma's homemade bread (me, okay? IT WAS ME), I didn't want to start another argument by ordering him out of the kitchen. Fortunately, there was a stack of papers on the table, awaiting transport to the recycling bin. 

"Tre, would you take those out to recycling?" He turned and grabbed them, then paused on the way out.

"You making tortilla pizzas?" I nodded. "We haven't had those in forever," he mused.

"Yeah," I said, "I guess we haven't."

"We used to have them all the time," he went on, standing there in the doorway, bouncing the door on his knee, seeming lost in thought. Max looked up from the other room.

"Since when did we have them all the time?" he asked. I stopped what I was doing, smoothing spoonfuls of tomato sauce on the tortillas, and thought about it.

"I guess we haven't for a long time." I looked at Tre. "I think that was sort of a you-and-me-thing, back when you were a little guy." He nodded, and laughed.

"I remember those days! I remember when I used to sit on your lap to do school!" He laughed and looked right at me, his face alight. I grinned back at him, looking into his bright, handsome face, and for a moment all the teen conflict just fell away. I could see that little boy who sat on my lap and poked at letters on a page, determined to conquer them. Later we would sit down to lunch, and he would chatter at me over tortilla pizza.

Today he's nearly as tall as I am, and seems annoyed by everything I do. 

But those early, easy days are still in there. Somewhere, he's still my little guy.

Psst! Wanna see a picture of the baby?

Last week I went to the doctor and had an ultrasound. I thought I was twenty minutes late, but I got my appointment wrong by thirty minutes, so I was actually a full ten minutes early. That is the only way I will ever be ten minutes early for an appointment. Ever.

Since we had extra time, the surly ultrasound tech relaxed a little, and spent some extra time peeking at the baby, just for fun. I asked her to check and be sure it was really a girl, for reals, because people keep reminding me that mistakes can be made on ultrasounds. She shook her head and muttered, "not when *I* do them," but she showed me the salient parts again. Whaddya know, she still seems to be a girl. Go figure.

And then, out of the blue, the tech pushed a button and the grainy, black and white, skeletal images suddenly became living flesh. It took my breath away. They did NOT have 3-D ultrasounds the last time I was pregnant.

Now, to give you an idea of my mental state these days, tonight we watched Elf. It was Max's choice, so I can't be held responsible for that. But at the end of the movie, I cried. I cried at Elf. On January 16. THAT is how emotionally fragile I am.

So how well do you think I held it together when the slightly-less-surly tech pushed a button and there, on the screen before me, was this face?


That, right there, is my daughter.

In case you're wondering, I KNOW I'm being a jerk. And I'm sorry. I believe that's a symptom of elevated blood sugar. - Updated!

Oh am I grumpy. You wanted to hear all about my grumpiness, didn't you? Well, my friend, you have come to the right place.

Monday I had to go to a lab, to have the big-time three hour glucose tolerance test because my blood sugar came back a little high from my glucose challenge last week. So okay, FINE. Another twelve hour fast, another bottle of nasty orange drink, and this time THREE HOURS of waiting and giving blood periodically.

Interesting fact:  did  you know that 85% of women who fail the glucose challenge and go on to take the glucose tolerance test do NOT, in fact turn out to have gestational diabetes? Dude. That's a LOT of nasty orange drink.

So hey, maybe I DID have to get up early (and hungry) and drive to the lab without the fortifying influence of even a cup of tea. BUT at LEAST it snowed a whole bunch that morning and into the rush hour, flinging the Denver area roads into chaos. SERIOUSLY, people. You live in Denver. Mayhap it's time to find yourself a different strategy when your rear-wheel drive minivan is slipping on four inches of snow then to try to drive faster? Because that's not really working for me. Grrr.

Not so interesting (and completely random) fact: I hate it when people's blogs play music. I don't care how GORGEOUS your playlist is, when I'm sitting in the quiet of an after-bedtime house, and I click on a link and some song BLARES at me, it feels assaultive. Do not want.

So eventually I arrived at the lab. I figured at the very least they wouldn't be too busy, because surely most people stayed home, right? *I* thought I had to make it to the lab that day because Monday is the one day the boys go to school, and Clay had already arranged to go into work late so he could drop them off (which turned out to be even later, because of a stinking snow delay). But most people would take a pass on lab work until the roads were a little better, right?

Yeah, wrong. Neither snow nor sleet nor idiots in minivans will stay people with orders for a lab draw. However, fully half of the staff failed to show up. So the waiting room (that I was NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE, chirpy phlebotomist girl told me like, what am I, a poorly behaved four year old?) was jammed with people who were cranky about the wait. One teenaged girl spent the full hour she waited for her blood draw whining at her dad. "I was here before EVERYONE ELSE. Why aren't they calling ME back? I'm HUNGRY. I haven't EATEN ANYTHING this morning." And then I killed her. Except only inside my head. But it was funny, in there.

Not-so-interesting-nor-relative-fact: some people would like you to believe that pureed butternut squash can be stirred into macaroni and cheese for a healthy, delicious take on a family favorite. NO ONE WILL NOTICE, they claim. This is just wrong. There is a distinct taste and texture wrongness. Just because pureed butternut squash has the same color as cheese sauce does not mean it is actually the same thing. That slippery slope would lead one to stir poo into fudge.

Finally, it was all done, and I headed for the door with two inner-elbow bruises to show for my morning. Since then I've been googling symptoms of gestational diabetes. This is very helpful, because the symptoms are things like tiredness. And having to pee a lot. And possibly crankiness. Google is a jerk.

And now that I look back over this, I'm thinking about how annoyed I get when people whine like this, as though difficult days never happen to anyone else. Life is pain, highness, know what I mean? However, in THIS case, I have a very important exception.

THIS day happened to me.
Update: My doctor emailed me to tell me that I do not, I repeat NOT have gestational diabetes. "However," she added, "you need to watch your glucose intake."
I called Clay to give him the good news and tell him what she said about the glucose intake. "I'm pretty sure she's calling me fat," I informed him. I am, after all, the daughter of a nurse, and so I understand all kinds of obtuse medical language. "Watch your glucose intake" = "you big, waddling cow."
"No, no," Clay said, "I'm pretty sure what she meant was 'eat whatever you want, but be sure to LOOK at it as it goes in your mouth.'"
Lord help me, I love that man.

Yes, I'm babbling. Blame the hormones.

Oh, y'all, I'm trying I REALLY AM. When I was newly pregnant, I read this big time blog (seriously, I'm not going to name her, but she's huge. You probably already read her), where the writer was also knocked up, but further along. And she was complaining about her weight, and she posted a picture of herself. And y'all, I'm telling you, she was a tiny little pregnancy model girl. Gorgeous. And tiny. And then she went on to point out how meaty and awful her arms were. And I'd just been looking at her arms, thinking how GREAT it would be if my arms would ever look that tiny. So I spent a few minutes feeling horrible about myself, and then I decided just to get over it.

Then I promised myself I wouldn't go around berating my pregnant body, because that's just mean. Mean to me and mean to people who think they look worse than me (biting my tongue HARD right now, because that statement REALLY feels as though it need a follow-up self critisism).

So I've tried to be nice about myself, as I expand to accomodate Her Royal Fetalness. I remind myself that I should be grateful to have the body I do, because I am decended from hearty peasant stock, and by GOLLY my body will get me and baby through the winter. If everything progresses according to pattern, I will carry this baby to within a week of her due date (but not actually TO the due date), and give birth like I'm expected back in the fields within the hour. Milk will come in, plentifully, within a few days, and I will walk around, soaking my shirts and fattening my baby and grinning like a loon because newborns are my drug of choice. How could I complain about such a body?

Oh, but people are starting to look at me, you know, with THAT LOOK. And they make comments about there possibly being more than one baby in there (note to the universe: "you're actually having twins" jokes ARE NOT FUNNY. We hate you when you say that), and the other day someone asked my due date and then raised her eyebrows and shook her head at me in response when I said March 29. YES, I'M LARGE, THANKS FOR NOTICING, STRANGER AT THE BREAD STORE. I'm so big partly because of the aforementioned peasant stock, and partly because I'm RILLY RILLY SHORT, and there is nowhere for this baby to grow except out.

PS I can't breathe.

My belly is starting to expand out sideways as well as to the front, bowing at the sides like a botulism-infected can of green beans. The waddle has arrived. I usually have to pee. I'm looking down the barrel of the next 11.3 weeks and starting to feel a little panicky. I actually cried tonight because I watched a video of a twin C-section, and I am just so, so SO grateful that there's only one baby trying to kick her way out through my rib cage.

Whenever I meet Clay in a hallway or we pass each other in the kitchen, he reaches down and palms my belly and grins at me like I've done something clever. He tells me I'm a wee little flower of a woman and claims I make pregnancy look easy. He's a gorgeous, wonderful, fabulous lie-y liar and I love him.

The other day he and I were in the bedroom, and I was changing into my jammies and trying to see myself in the mirror over my shoulder. "See, now," I grumped, "when some women get pregnant you can't even tell from behind. I'm just not that sort of woman, am I?"

Now understand, Clay is one of the bravest souls you'll ever meet. This is a man with actual medals that he earned in combat. A man who, when he cut off his finger, picked up the finger and staunched the bleeding and summoned a neighbor to drive him to the hospital without ever letting the kids know anything was wrong. He is strong.

Yet at that moment, I swear to you he blanched. His eyes went wide and he said, "WHAT? I MEAN...WHAT? WHY ARE YOU SAYING THAT?"

Bless his little cotton socks.

So that's where I am. Expanding rapidly, ability to cope dwindling at roughly the same rate, grateful for this baby and my body's generous hosting of her, and loved by a man who deserves a medal. Another one.

What 13 looks like

The other day I took the boys to the allergist's office for Tre's injections, or, as we like to call it, taking the boy to get shot. We're still going once a week, and this week Max and Raphael were dragging behind me, bemoaning the fact that they'd failed to bring anything to play with while we were there. Apparently they're not content to peruse several-month-old issues of various women's magazines, as I do. How else to they expect to get Cindy McCain's favorite cookie recipe?

When we walked in, Max's eye fell on the toys in the corner of the room, and he spun around and said to Raphael, "HEY! How about I make towers with the blocks and you knock them down?" 

Only a fool wouldn't recognize the entertainment GOLD in that suggestion, and Raphael enthusiastically agreed. The two of them raced over to the future site of many towers' destruction. Tre watched them go, smirking.

"OH BOY," he said, sarcasm spilling everywhere, "they have BLOCKS to PLAY WITH."

I can't swear, but I think he muttered something about "kids,"shaking his head and chuckling to himself.

Then he reached in his pocket and pulled out a yo-yo. He slipped the string loop onto his finger and sent it sailing down to the floor and back, a perfect picture of 13 years old.


So, hi there! I've been gone, have you noticed. My MOTHER has noticed. She sighs at me. I just told Clay I was blogging RIGHT NOW and he breathed, "what?" Like it's unheard of. I'm feeling a little judged, I don't mind telling you.

Okay, fine, so I deserve it. I've been terribly lax around here. And once a few weeks go by, I find myself trapped in this squishy spot in my own mind, somewhere between "I can't blog NOW, there's too much LIFE to summarize," and "OH, shutupshutupshutUP, no one CARES."

So the only way to leap that particular barrier is that I'm going to jump right in here with an uninteresting anecdote about an alarm clock, and pretend I haven't let the last few irretrievable weeks slip by unnoticed.

(Although I will just throw this in, sort of as an aside, about Christmas: Clay actually got out of bed before the boys did Christmas morning, so he could turn on the lights on the tree, and generally fuss about a bit, setting the stage, because he was all excited, which tells me he will just NEVER understand how to properly act like a worn-out old parent. I despair.)

Do you know that when I married Clay it had been more than NINE YEARS since I had regularly been woken up by an alarm clock? I'd been a SAH mom since Tre was born, and even when I was married before, my first husband worked nights, so he would sleep until noon or so, while I crawled out of bed at child's early light. So unless I had an early morning appointment or something, I just never used an alarm clock. 

But then I married him, the love of my life, the apple of my eye, the bringer of the alarm clock.

Clay has this cool clock that plays different soothing sounds, like the twittering of birds and whatnot. The setting he likes is the gentle swush swush of the ocean, and so ever since we were married (almost THREE YEARS AGO!), I have been awakened by this calm sound.

Can I TELL you how much that freaked me out at first? I know it sounds weird, but remember that I had grown entirely accustomed to being roused by children. It seemed normal to me to have my day start with an ice-cold hand in my armpit, and a small voice asking me, "Mama, why do you have prickles under your arm?" But now, in the dark stillness of hours that were earlier than even my children thought of waking up, the air would suddenly be filled with that noise, that swush, swush. I would jump, then lie there, rigid, my heart pounding, eyes searching the dark in vain for a reason for this SOUND. Clay would reach over and press a button, and all would be still. I'd take a deep breath and close my eyes. And ten minutes later we'd do it all again.

After a while I grew accustomed to the wicked swush swush, and it no longer frightened me. However, I grew to associate the sound with my husband climbing out of bed, thoughtlessly taking all his warms with him, leaving me to cocoon myself in blankets and feel sorry for myself and cold. Yes, I HAVE somehow turned the fact that the poor man gets up at 5 AM into a reason to feel sorry for myself, thank you. This is why it's a good thing that I don't leap out of bed when he does. I'm unbearable before 10 or so, I really am.

The other morning the alarm went off, and in the moments between the tiny click that heralds the swush swush and Clay reaching over to silence it, I lied there in the dark and thought very unappreciative things at the clock. 

And right then, as I was actively disliking the alarm clock that is specifically designed to be gentle, the alarm clock that doesn't even have anything to do with when *I* get out of bed, the soft ocean surf-sounding alarm clock that coaxes my husband awake each morning, as I realized something.

I really am not normal.