Friday, September 19, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

nine months

Nine months and one day ago, we welcomed Anya to our family. It's hard for me to believe all that time has passed since that snowy night. She had her 9-month check-up with the doctor this morning, and here are the highlights:

1. She weighs over 22 lbs. This puts her in the 95th percentile for weight.

2. She is 30" long. This puts her OFF the charts for length.

3. She has no teeth, and no sign that they are coming any time soon.

4. She babbles a lot (bababa, mamama, etc) and clearly understands words like Anya, nurse and big brother Daniel.

5. She's eating some solid food, but not much. It takes us two days to get through a 4oz jar of vegetables. Noting her height and weight above, you'll see that she's not starving. Instead, she breastfeeds all day and night and I feel like I'm eating enough for an army.

6. She doesn't yet crawl, but scoots around on her tushie like a champ. She's not really pulling herself up, either, so the doctor says she's slightly delayed in gross motor skills, gave me some suggestions for encouraging her development, and said we have to go back in 6 weeks for a quick check-up to see if she's making progress. She has good muscle tone and is clearly very strong, so I'm trying not to be worried about it.

7. No shots today (yay), but she had to have some blood drawn (boo) for a routine lead test. It took at least 5 minutes of trying on both arms before the phlebotomist could find a vein in her chubby little arm. It was pure torture for all of us in a room that felt more or less like an echo chamber.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

home improvement

Now that fall is fast approaching, the weather is often too cold, too wet, or both to be outside much. We basically lived outside this summer, so it's been an adjustment, especially since Daniel, as an energetic young whelp, needs a certain amount of time to run amuck every day. Our 912 square feet of upstairs space is a little cramped for such activities, and lately I've been anxious to make our basement, which is as big as the upstairs but unfinished, more accommodating as an active play space for both kids. It's a nice basement, really. It doesn't flood, and the 3/4 of it that isn't taken up with the furnace, water heater, water softener and laundry machines is open space, broken only by some 4" thick metal columns that one assumes are necessary for holding up the house. The walls are painted concrete block and the floor is bare concrete. There is no ceiling, just floor joists and duct-work. There are lots of cobwebs.

Around the time we found out I was pregnant with Daniel, we seriously considered hiring a contractor to finish the basement and put in another bathroom and real walls and everything. We even had someone come do an estimate, but we decided it was too much money. In other words, we didn't have that much money and didn't think it would be worth spending on re-modeling a basement in a house we probably won't live in very much longer anyway. It makes me wish I could do some improvements myself, but I don't have the know-how. One of our neighbors re-modeled his house AND built a new garage all by himself with nothing but his own two hands and knowledge from some TimeLife books and videos he borrowed from the public library. I am way impressed with that, but I know I couldn't do it.

Stuart and I are just not DIYers when it comes to home improvement. I have crafty inclinations, and he spent a summer in college on the paint crew, but aside from that we're pretty clueless. When we moved into our house about four years ago, it took us a week to get the washing machine hooked up; we got the hot and cold mixed up and didn't realize we needed new hoses or washers or something like that until my dad (who is quite handy) clued us in.

So we're not finishing the basement, or even improving it in any way. However, I've been working on cleaning stuff out (took a whole carloadf to the thrift store this very afternoon) and re-organizing so that the open part of the basement is actually clear for throwing balls and running around and all those things toddlers like to do. At minimum, we need to put something on that cold, hard, dirty concrete floor. Today at Menards (which we pronounce "my nards" because it's funnier that way) we found the coolest floor covering ever:

They're like squishy interlocking tiles. You can re-arrange them or add to them or move them any time, and they're not at all slippery. We like the bright colors but if you want plain gray, you can flip them over. It's like having a giant yoga mat all over the floor. I'm not sure I want to spend the money to cover the entire floor with these things, but it's nice having a big section (about 6' x 8') already.

We will probably look for big pieces of leftover carpet as well, but I'm not done cleaning up everything yet. In fact, what I need to do next is sweep up a whole bunch of foam packing peanuts that have been scattered around for a while now. For some reason, these stupid friggin' packing peanuts are Daniel's favorite things to play with downstairs. He scoops them up in a little bucket. He hides them in empty detergent bottles. He stuffs them in his suitcase. He whacks at them with a dowel rod. He drops them in an old laundry basket. I could go on, but you get the idea. I keep hoping he'll just get over this phase so I can throw them away without hurting his feelings, but I think that will be a long time coming.

Kids, huh? First they take over your heart and then they take over your house and you don't even mind (much).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

approaching 30

Yesterday afternoon I taught piano lessons for the first time in several weeks. My students all happened to be on vacation in August, so we all got a little break. I expected everyone to be rusty and out of practice, but except for one, they'd all been working on old assignments for the last week or so, and I was pleasantly surprised to be able to pick up right where we left off.

One of the things I really like about teaching right now is that I have very good relationships with all of my students' parents. This is of particular importance since I go to their houses to teach. I'm on their turf, and if there was tension, it would be bad news for everyone. I'm sure one reason I get along with them so well is that all of these folks (moms and dads) are academics. Some teach at UW, some do other work, but they all have post-graduate degrees and they all, of course, have kids, so they are all, therefore, sympathetic to my position in life at the moment. They respect me as a teacher and as a professional musician, and they are also interested in how the kids are doing, especially Daniel, since he spent time with them as a baby.

I thought I would have a hard time getting back into teaching after Anya was born. At first, it was hard. Everything is hard with a newborn. Working, not working, whatever you're doing, life is hard. Anya has always been very clingy and mom-centric, often screaming for the entire time I'm away from her (and because of this I am rarely away from her). She gives sitters a hard time. Lately Daniel has gotten clingy, too. I don't know if it's just his age and emotional development, or if he's jealous of all the attention his little sister gets from me, or what. I guess it's hard being two and a half. But when our new sitter showed up yesterday afternoon, I was genuinely worried about both Daniel and Anya. Daniel clung to my leg and said in his sad little voice, "Mom going to leave me." Anya's lower lip was trembling. What if they both sobbed the entire two and a half hours she had to stay with them? Would they (and she) be so miserable that I would have to give up teaching and stay home with them for good? It turned out fine, of course. I thought I would come home to a disaster, but everyone was happy, and I was reassured. Trust me, it hasn't always been that way.

When I arrived at one of my students' homes yesterday, the mom complimented my hair, which I had chopped off a couple weeks ago. She said it made me look younger. I realized, suddenly, that I'm getting to a point where looking younger than I am is a desirable thing.

I think about where I was ten years ago, and where I thought I'd be. Stuart was certainly in the picture, though we weren't thinking Big Future Plans yet. I had grand notions of volunteering overseas or studying abroad, learning languages, going to graduate school, becoming a professor. I didn't think "housewife" was on the agenda. (At least I got the grad school part done, though that certainly wasn't as glamorous as I thought it would be.) Of course, my sense of accomplishment has changed since I was 20 years old. I no longer think that staying home to take care of children goes against being a feminist, for example. (Quite the opposite, actually. I think parents who stay at home don't get enough credit, or respect. Or help.) I no longer think that the kind of musician I've chosen to be (teacher, collaborator) is inferior to solo performance. I also no longer believe that having a doctorate really makes someone an expert.

I'll be turning 30 at the end of this year, and while I don't consider 30 to be old by any means, it is a landmark age. Since my birthday is sandwiched between Christmas and New Year's, I rarely do much to celebrate. Someone usually bakes me a cake, and last year Stuart flushed a diaper down the toilet, but that's about it. This year, though, I want a party. With adults. And no kids. A reasonable amount of alcohol would be nice. And cake, certainly cake. I am not always completely happy with my position in life (the stagnating career is the big issue), but I am slowly coming to accept that what matters most is who you are. I am WAY more okay with that now than when I was 20. I think that's something to celebrate, and I want to do it with my friends.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

here and there

"Here and there" is the best way to describe my brain these days. I am so constantly and thoroughly sleep-deprived that I don't have it in me to do substantial blogging, but I'm trying to post somewhat regularly anyway. I do, however, have a few thoughts to share, so I'l just make a quick list:

1) Joe Biden: good choice for Barack Obama's running mate. The guy is genuinely experienced and smart and sincere. I believe they make a good team.

2) Memo to John McCain: JUST HOW STUPID DO YOU THINK THE WOMEN OF AMERICA ARE???!! I wasn't going to vote for you anyway, but choosing a completely inexperienced gun-loving, staunch anti-abortion rights (guess there's no question that poor little Bristol is staying preggers, eh?), anti-environment right-wing nut job does NOT endear me to your campaign. Even if she is a woman. I find it extremely insulting, actually.

3) To the pundits who claim that Sarah Palin has foreign policy experience because Alaska is close to Russia: OMG HOW LAME CAN YOU BE?

4) Memo to disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters: Tough cookies. Get over it and move on already. I hope you realize that if you vote for McCain out of resentment that your candidate lost, you're not only shooting yourselves in the foot (feet?), but you're taking the rest of us down with you, and that's just plain wrong.