Saturday, February 28, 2009


First, the eye-candy:

Second, just plain candy! After reading y'all's comments that bribery is the true way to potty-training, I'm willing to try it. We've tried reward systems before, but I guess stickers don't cut it, and long-term prizes (like a new toy or book for filling up a whole chart) don't have the right impact. So candy it is, I'm afraid. A few M&Ms can't hurt that much, can they?

Daniel and I had a nice time walking to the corner store to pick out his special potty candy this afternoon. It's about 20 degrees outside and sunny, so it was pleasant, if chilly. Daniel was thrilled to find little puddles to splash in and thin layers of ice to crunch with his shoes. I realized then, as I do occasionally, that being three years old is very much about living in the moment and discovering the world around you. Aside from a few sledding excursions this winter, we haven't had very much time outside because of the cold, so a simple puddle was all it took to make his afternoon. And mine.

Friday, February 27, 2009

my mom

Quick update on my mom: the surgery went okay, though there was more damage than originally thought. Also, they found osteoperosis, which is actually no big surprise since her mother had it, too. But it means she'll be off that leg for longer than previously expected, more like 8-12 weeks instead of 6.

I'm going to go drink some milk now.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

3 quick updates

1. My mom: looks like surgery on her leg will be Friday. They were hoping for tomorrow, but the surgeon works in a different hospital on Wednesdays so she didn't get a consultation with him today as they were expecting. She's getting pretty bored, I think.

2. Anya: on a day when her Oma has been immobilized with a broken leg, little Anya decided it fitting to take a few wobbly steps on her own. It's been a gradual process, but I think it's fair to say her first real steps were today.

3. Daniel: will. not. use. the. potty. Unless we're at the public library or in the middle of the grocery store or waiting in the doctor's office or my friend Pat is around to help him. I have tried every positive reinforcement I can think of, and nothing is really working. I guess I just need to wait until he's truly ready, but in the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions, let me know. Except for sticker charts. He is SO over those.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


My mom is in the hospital with a broken leg after a bad fall on the icy driveway last night. She needs surgery, so she'll be in the hospital at least a week. I'm anxious and worried because I can't be with her. Even if I went down to Kentucky, I'd have to take the kids, so I couldn't be any help anyway...not that my dad isn't perfectly capable of taking care of things on his own, but still. I wish I could be there. She's in a lot of pain (less now, thanks to Percoset) and I expect the mending will take a while. Good thing it wasn't her hip.

So many times in the last month I've been reminded of the mortality and fragility of our physical bodies. My brother's girlfriend is undergoing chemo for Hodgkins. A good friend my age is about to have surgery and radiation for thyroid cancer. My mom has a broken leg. I have also been reminded of the importance of community, of friends and family and even mere acquaintances being there to help out when help is needed. What I didn't realize before, though, was how important a community of people is not only to the person going through tough times, but for the people in the community as well. You see, I am feeling really helpless right now. There is always pain and suffering, but right now there is a lot of pain and suffering happening to people I am close to, and there's nothing I can do to stop it. I am not a doctor or a miracle worker. I can not stop cancer. I can not heal broken limbs. I can only make casseroles and send flowers and Sudoku books and knit blanket squares in the hope that it will somehow make a difference.

Does it really make a difference, though? How does knitting up a skein of orange cotton yarn into garter stitch blobs say to someone "I really care about you and I hope you feel better soon"? In the face of serious illness, that feels inadequate, somehow. Like maybe the reason I do these things is to make myself feel like I'm Doing Something instead of Doing Nothing.

Well. That's enough of that for now.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Yesterday afternoon I had a visit from a friend. I don't get to see her very often, but she's one of those people with whom you can just pick up right where you left off. We met back in 2004 when our grad union was organizing a strike, and we've been good friends ever since. She's the only person I've kept in regular contact with since grad school, and she's one of the few people who didn't assume I dropped off the face of the earth after I had kids. She did a lot of babysitting for me at crucial moments, like when I was pregnant with Anya and desperately practicing the music for my dissertation project (I did a recording with a paper to accompany it.)

Anyway, we talked about everything, just like we always do: politics, potty training (or lack thereof), education, the politics of education, what's wrong with Republicans, gardening, food, travel, and what we're doing with our lives. She's applied for a job in Madison, and I (rather selfishly) hope she gets it so we can see her more often. I told her about my tentative plans to study accounting next year or sometime soon. She gave me a funny look and asked me "Is that really what you want, Susan?" I stammered a reply about how hard it is to make a career out of music, and how much harder it is when you've been out of the loop for a few years (to take care of young children, for example), and how it's nearly impossible in a deep recession. Accounting is practical, after all, and it would be the first occupation I've had that doesn't' require complete personal and emotional commitment. (I'm a musician and a mother; no wonder I'm so drained all the time!) I don't think I was very convincing, though, because when it comes down to the raw truth, playing chamber music is what I love the most, and I am not sure whether I'll be fulfilled keeping it as just a hobby. A doctorate is an awful lot of work to go to for a hobby.

I'm still torn between doing what I really want to do, and doing what's practical. If I were on my own, I would take the risk and go with the former. But I have a family to take care of, and frankly, family is trump. They need me now. (And by that, I mean right now. Anya's diaper is all poopy and Daniel is bugging me to read to him. Arg. They'll just have to wait a few minutes.) If I give up music entirely, I'll eventually resent them for it, and of course no one wants that.

I'm not looking for answers here. You guys can give me all the advice you want, and right now I welcome your honest opinion. But I also know that only I can decide what's right for me. I just don't know how or when I'll make up my mind.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


In case you haven't noticed, I've been in a bit of a blogging funk lately. The economy has me genuinely worried, not about us specifically (we're extraordinarily lucky that Stuart's job is secure - obviously, or we wouldn't have bought a new car), but about everyone else. Too many young people I know are receiving scary medical diagnoses. Daniel won't use the potty. Anya won't eat solid food. Wisconsin winters are interminable.

I just feel like I don't have anything new to say - except about knitting; I don't seem to have trouble posting on Mad Knitting, but that's because knitting is what's keeping me going right now. It's not just the act of knitting or the creativity involved. It's also a cornerstone of my social life at the moment. The friends I have in my knitting group welcome me and my kids with open arms, and so do the various local yarn shops where we meet. Even a certain store that - in my opinion - treated me unfairly once because I had Daniel with me now is as friendly and welcoming as any yarn shop could be to a regular customer who visits with her [relatively] well-behaved small children.

Another lifeline is the family across the street, whom we've gotten pretty close to over the last year or so. I'm happy to announce that they welcomed a baby girl to their family yesterday! We've heard so much sad and distressing news lately, it's good to have something to celebrate.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

a little taste of spring

Yesterday it was unseasonably warm. When it got to about 55 degrees outside, I turned off the heat and opened some windows and the front door. Daniel and Anya looked outside, fascinated that we could keep the front door open, something we haven't been able to do since about September. After a couple of hours, of course, it got a little too cool, so we had to close everything back up and turn the heat back on. But it was just like a little taste of spring.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

you know it's a special day when you're allowed cake before lunch

Today Daniel turns 3. We had his best friend from across the street over for playtime and cake. Daniel got lots of nice presents, but I think his favorite part of his birthday was playing with the mylar helium balloon (the two others I bought popped right away - sorry, Steph!) and blowing out candles. He's been saying "Let's have my birs-day again!!" all afternoon and generally having a good time.

(And then this afternoon Stuart and I went out to test-drive a Prius. We bought one. Yup.)

Friday, February 06, 2009

eye candy

Look who's turning 3 tomorrow!

Oma came for the occasion, which is why I haven't been posting and also why Daniel was allowed to lick chocolate cake batter off a wooden spoon.