The Fantasy of Good Night Moon

Parents love Goodnight Moon. I think a lot of people of my generation (and many before me) remember it as a first book, and it's one of the first things we read to our own babies. I read it to Laurel almost every night when she was 2 or 3 months old. She would sit propped up in my lap and really looked like she was paying attention. Then she started to wave her arms at the pages, and eventually learned to turn them. Now she has tons of books and when she's playing by herself, she often pulls her favorites off the shelf. She's pretty good at turning the pages all by herself!

We're getting used to this crazy new schedule we have. In addition to me starting work this week, M also started graduate school, and has class at night once a week. Normally he is the one to read to Laurel and rock her to sleep. Tonight, after her bath, she crawled to the top of the stairs and stood up next to the gate and called for her daddy. It was one of the cutest things I've ever seen. Luckily Laurel is pretty adaptable and let me read to her tonight. I picked Good Night Moon because so much in our lives is new and changing and uncertain.

While I was reading it, I realized that I love not just the calming patterns of the rhymes and the illustrations that grow slowly darker as the book goes on. I love the idea of an old lady whispering hush. It rings of days gone by when middle class folk like myself could afford Help. Someone to rock down the baby in the evening while parents had cocktails and played cards with friends. (Or hell, maybe just did a load of laundry. Or ate something more than bread and cheese for dinner.) I was reading a Sue Barton book at my mom's house the other day and Sue had a live-in cook/nanny kind of lady who loved her children and sometimes brought her breakfast in bed.

Now I know way-back-when was not really like that for everyone because my grandmother raised five kids born in rapid succession without much help, as far as I know. Maybe she read Good Night Moon with a similar longing for an old lady whispering hush.

This week the topic of night weaning has come up with my mama friends. Laurel wins in the category of Most Night Awakenings (for nine months straight - way to go Laurel), but all of them battle this in one way or another. It depresses me that many children do not sleep through the night until 15 months, or later and this is totally normal!

Anyway, she's sleeping peacefully right now, after a very long day filled with lots of excitement and friends at daycare, and then a walk in Frick Park and some romping with Kai. Maybe tonight my Good Night Moon fantasy will come true and we will all sleep soundly until morning.


So close to standing....


Sunday, Bloody Sunday....

Ok, that's being a bit melodramatic. But Laurel did suffer her first major boo-boo while visiting my grandparents today. She smashed her mouth on the coffee table and got a split lip. Luckily, she was soon distracted by the dozen or so battery-powered toys my grandmother had scored at yard sale. (Seriously though, M and I later agreed that both our hearts skipped a beat when we realized she was bleeding.)

We had a lovely visit in Rices Landing, and snapped a few pictures. I'm trying to take some video of Laurel's attempts at standing - she's daringly letting go and balancing on her own for a few seconds. However, I don't have anything good yet, so stay tuned.


I did it!

I ran my first 5K race today and I rocked it. Not by going fast, which I am not, but by nicely pacing myself and pushing a little at the end. I feel good about achieving a very tangible goal and am grateful for M's encouragement, and also to Grandpa Curly and Grandma Cake for babysitting L during the race.

Now it's the weekend and we already did things like take a nap and eat giant omelettes with Margaret's eggs and homemade salsa. Tonight we may venture out to see some friends. Tomorrow we're going to Rices Landing to visit some family. In between all the relaxing and visiting, I'm hoping to get a few things put together for Monday, and chop down that weird tree that is growing out of the garage (this home ownership stuff has some weird jobs from time to time).


"If you aren't ready, just fake it."

That's what my principal said to us yesterday as we had one final faculty meeting before freshman orientation. What he meant was not to worry if your bulletin boards weren't finished; they would be too excited/nervous/terrified to notice. And you know what? He was right.

This whole going-back-to-work thing happened suddenly. I'm faking everything these days, because I'm just not ready. Not ready to teach algebra, not ready to leave my baby for eight hours a day, not ready get up every day at 5am. And I'm definitely not ready to run my first 5K race tomorrow morning! Whew! What was I thinking?

Laurel is moments away from standing on her own. She's been pulling herself up for a while, but she's getting a little more daring and letting go for a few seconds. She's eating up a storm, especially if M seasons her food or gives her things like goat cheese. And prunes. Boy does she love prunes. (As the person who launders the cloth diapers, I am not so much in favor of them, however.)

Come Monday morning, I'm going to have a full schedule of ninth grade math. Laurel will start daycare. M is starting a new semester of graduate school. All of us may be faking it a little bit to get through the day. But life is moving in a generally good direction.


Guitar Lesson


I Miss It Already

Or, possibly, I'm afraid of change. My tenure as a stay-at-home mom is ending. Like tonight. I'll be reporting to my new job tomorrow at 7:30 am. My new job is high school math teacher, which is just weird, but I'm kind of excited about it anyway. I like math. Or I did back in 1998, which was the last time I took an advanced level math course. I thought I got an A, but I had to gather up my transcripts for the HR department, and it turns out I got a B.

I had all but given up hope of landing a job for this school year and was really starting to settle in as homemaker. Not that I'm particularly good at it, but we always have toilet paper and the floors are swept on a regular basis. And Laurel seemed happy. But there are property taxes and an aging roof and the prospect of private school tuition looming in the rapidly approaching future, so off I go. Not to mention an advanced degree and a talent for teaching that ought to be used.

When M and I first got back from the AT, he got a job and I spent the days at his parents house, crafting a memoir I never published. My heart ached for him all day long, because for over a year we had spent most days and every night within physical reach of each other. Laurel and I have a similarly close physical relationship at this point, and I'm packing tissue in my purse, because I know I'll be crying for her in the bathroom shortly after the 10am coffee break.

Laurel will likely be fine. She's going to spend the day with my Uncle Bob and Aunt Cathy and my cousins. She'll probably be thinking, "Wow this is great, no more boring mommy, and having to ride around in the backpack while she does housework."

Wish me luck!


Summer Produce

This is why I am glad we get our eggs here.

We are eating so much delicious food these days. I was always unenthusiastic about tomatoes. I would take them off my sandwich before I ate it. I think it's because it's easy to get a mealy, pink, anemic tomato in a lot of places.

The tomatoes we are eating now are amazing. Big, meaty, slicer tomatoes that go perfectly on a fresh, home-baked baguette with smoked gouda and tempeh.




Laurel has her first ear infection! I don't know if I should feel bad for her, or if I should feel bad for me. She spent all last night yelling loudly unless I held her upright in my arms, while walking around the bedroom. This is very exhausting work for a mama who wanted a good night's sleep before a big job interview. Luckily, M took a half day and took Laurel to the doctor's, so I could properly primp myself. Now we have to hold Laurel down twice a day and squirt a vile, pink liquid down her throat. Naturally, she loves this even more than the saline nasal spray that we were using on her over the weekend for her runny nose.

Hopefully she'll be on the mend soon, and I can resume my night weaning efforts.


Money, Stuff and Happiness

I had a job interview yesterday, and during the course of discussing my accomplishments and experiences, the interviewer jokingly said, "So you aren't the kind of person who stays home on Saturday and watches tv."

I came across this article on spending habits in the New York Times this morning and was pleased to find this quote:
One major finding is that spending money for an experience — concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco — produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff.

Sometimes I want more or better stuff. But mostly I'm happy with sacrificing a night of sleep so we could see Neko Case in Tucson, or walking away from Teach For America after my two years to hike the Appalachian Trail.

And here is a photo of one of the best experiences we've collected so far...

This is wild-haired Laurel after a night of feverish fussing (103.3 at its highest!). She seems to be more or less back to normal today, although she doesn't have much of an appetite for solid food and wants to nurse 24 hours a day. (Ouch!)


How Much Do You Need to Live?

I couldn't believe this story on CNN this morning. Thirty thousand people showed up for public housing applications. Officials weren't expecting more than 10,000 people, and the scene quickly deteriorated into a mob scene, with 20 people hospitalized as a result of the crowds and the heat. To qualify for a voucher you can make no more than half the median income of your area, which in this case was about $16,000 a year. What does this scene remind you of?

I also recently discovered this living wage calculator, which helps to put into perspective what kind of income you need to actually make a decent living. Hint...it's far, far greater than what the government income requirements are for food stamps and medicare. Check out the stats for your area and see how you are doing.

There's a big leap between welfare and middle class-dom. A lot of people are stuck someplace in the middle, qualifying for no services, but not really making enough to afford necessities, like dental care or life insurance policies or enough to save a nest egg in case you have a family emergency. Those are not the kind of people who camp out for three days to get a Section 8 housing voucher. But are they really better off?


One Little Monkey, Jumping on the Bed


Adventures of the Sea Turtle

Mark had the brilliant idea to drive through the night to get to Ocean City for our first family trip to the beach (and I’m not being facetious at all… we hit no traffic and made the trip in a record six and a half hours). We decided to go to the Yo La Tengo concert at Hartwood Acres before we left, which was another brilliant move. Yo La Tengo was Laurel’s favorite band during her fussy newborn stage. I cannot tell you how many hours I spent listening to I am Not Afraid of You and I will Beat your Ass while vigorously rocking the stroller back and forth in the living room and praying that she would fall asleep, or at least stop crying for a while. Anyway, she still likes Yo La Tengo, and she totally rocked out during the concert and then fell asleep and slept most of the night in her car seat.

Vacationing with a baby turned out to be a pretty good time. Laurel loved the pool, loved the ocean, loved the sand, loved the ceiling fan in the condo, loved the boardwalk, etc. The second we put her down in the sand she turned and crawled headlong into the ocean. Seriously…right into the surf like a sea turtle returning home. She even fell into a hole on the way, but scrambled out and kept going. She loved watching the waves wash in and didn’t seem to mind when salt water splashed in her face. She squished sand castles and spent a good long while watching sand fall through her fingers. When we put her in the pool in her float, she immediately started kicking like mad and jumping up and down. She blew bubbles in the water and I dunked her a face times to teach her how to hold her breath. It was so fun to watch her explore new things.

And frankly, even if she had hated the beach, it still would have been worth it, because she looked so darn cute in her bathing suit.

We spent the first four days pretty much doing regular stuff, and by regular stuff I mean playing with the baby and cooking good food. (We may be the only family in America that packs its sourdough starter for a trip to the beach. ) On Thursday, we were joined by some of M’s relatives. One of the highlights was a family dinner on the porch followed by a trip to Dumser’s Dairyland. M’s aunt taught me how to eat crabs and Grandma Cake spent hours in the pool with Laurel. There was enough card games and Red Stripe for the grownups to feel like a real vacation. But it's nice to be home.