Thursday, December 20, 2012

snow day(s)

It seems Winter has made a proper arrival.

About damn time, I'd say.

Though wow, what an entrance. 

I took these pictures around midday, a few hours before the worst of the blizzard hit.

We've already gotten about a foot of snow, and it's still going, with giant wind gusts to come.

See those fences in the picture above? They are usually 3 feet above the ground.

School was out today and has been called off for tomorrow, such is the prolonged length and severity of this storm. Two days off in a row is almost unheard of here.

The most unusual thing about this storm was all the thunder and lightening. Between the thunder snow and all that has been on my mind lately (and I've had quite a lot on my  mind), I hardly got any sleep last night. I just hope I sleep better tonight; I need to have plenty of energy for Snow Day #2!

Friday, December 14, 2012

five on friday: birthday edition

Today, this one turns five:

In celebration of her fifth birthday, I'd like to share five things about Anya I think everyone should know:

1) She is kind. Really, and truly, genuinely kind. Nearly every parent at Anya's preschool tells me that she treats other children with respect and gentleness. She is always willing to help a child who needs it, and as most of the kids in her class don't speak English as a first language, many of them look to her to understand the classroom routine. She willingly shares her toys and treats, even with Daniel.

2) She can read. This started about a month ago, and it's actual reading, as in sounding out words. I don't for a minute think this makes her better than other kids (Daniel didn't read before kindergarten, after all), but I am amazed by her tenacity, her willingness to stick through a whole story.

3) She loves Clifford, the Big Red Dog. Looooooves. Clifforrrrrrrd. For evidence, see above picture, in which she is wearing the frayed remains of her beloved Clifford t-shirt, which has seen more trips through the laundry than any other piece of clothing in our house, and this includes the hiking socks I bought 12 years ago when Stuart and I moved to Madison. Her birthday present from us was a big stuffed plus Clifford. Said toy is her new best friend and accompanied her to preschool this afternoon.

4) She can spell a few words. She often expresses herself through spelling. Ask her a "yes" or "no" question and she'll answer either through sign language (which she remembers from when Daniel brought it home from school last year - his KG teacher used ASL quite a bit) or by saying the letters "Y-E-S" or "N-O". She can also spell "poop," "butt," "pee," and "fart," courtesy of her big brother. S

5) She detests pink princess dresses. I think my mom believes this is due to my influence (I'm not the fancy, frilly, feminine sort), but I chalk it up to her individuality and independence. Even at this young age, Anya rejects the notion that all girls love pink and Disney and all that (much like young Riley in this video I found the other day), and I am proud that she isn't afraid to say so. Now, she is also rather sensitive about this matter, so she might dissolve into tears if you offer her a cupcake with pink frosting (yes, this actually happened, good Lord, it was a CUPCAKE) and refuse to wear any article of clothing with so much as a speck of pink on it, but hey. That's my girl.


I feel like I can't post today without at least mentioning the absolute horror from Newtown, CT today. It's unfathomable. After the carnage in Colorado this past July and the mall shootings earlier this month, how much more evidence do we need that a ban on assault weapons is necessary? My heart is heavy with sadness and anger.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I feel like it's been too long since I've done a proper post here (intermittent ramblings about Emily Dickinson notwithstanding). Partly, this is because I feel like no one is really reading this blog anymore, though I know this isn't entirely true since people in my real life occasionally comment on what I've written. Partly, it's also because I started MadtownMama when Daniel was a baby and I suddenly felt cut off from much of the social and professional world I was accustomed to interacting with on a daily basis, and writing about my life online, however trivial, made me feel more significant somehow. Since then, the world progressed (with or without me), and Big Things happened on the internet that I have chosen not to join (Facebook and Twitter, mainly), and I've more or less found contentment with what I'm doing, which is mostly parenting and housework and some freelance work on the side.

I'm not always totally satisfied. I am uncomfortable with the notion that I am not financially independent, that if my husband didn't earn a regular salary with benefits, I would be uninsured and possibly homeless. If something were to happen to us or to him (perish the thought) I would be totally screwed.

But on the other hand...

Recently, a local job posting caught my attention. I won't go into specifics, but I am certainly qualified, I am sure I would be good at it, and I think I'd like it. The problem? It's full time: 40 hrs/wk all year round. My first thought when I saw the job description and requirements was, "Wow, this is an opportunity I shouldn't pass up," and my second thought was, "Wait, what on earth would I do about childcare?"

Because here's the reality of having kids. They take a lot of time. A LOT. Anya's in her last year of preschool, which is only part time, so there are already extra hours for her, but even so, this doesn't change when they are in public school full time, either. There are weeks off for winter break and spring break and all kinds of days off for teacher conferences and postal holidays, not to mention all the random early release days at the end of every quarter and whatnot. Plus 2 1/2 months for summer vacay.

I want to be clear that I hold absolutely no grudge against the school district's calendar; it is my philosophy that the role of public schools is to educate our children, not babysit them. But what do parents who work full-time jobs outside of the academic calendar do about childcare??

Were I to apply for this potential job (and I might...), I have no idea who would cover all those hours with my kids when they aren't in school. Stuart's job has no options for flex time. None. Sometimes he even has to take sick time for doctor's appointments (and, to be fair, sometimes not.) I've postponed dental appointments for myself so he doesn't have to spend the extra hours at home...though I have to admit it doesn't take much for me to put off going to the dentist. I mean, my teeth are fine. Great, in fact. They don't need more of my money to tell me my teeth are still fine.

Thinking about applying for this job has made me realize just how far I've come with my philosophy of parenting and family life. If I were working until 5:00 or later, I don't know how we'd eat as well as we do now, or how I could spend time in the classroom, or how I would make sure we spend as much time as possible outside during non-school hours, or who would listen to Daniel practice the piano and help Anya read because yes, she's not yet five years old and she can read.

And summer break. No idea how that would work. At all.

I don't mean to diminish parents who work for wages full time. If I had to, I would, and I fully acknowledge that I'm in a position of economic privilege that this is even a choice for me (though I want to point out if I applied for and got this job and we had to rely on it to support the family, we'd be close to or under the federal poverty line - and this is considered a really good opportunity for a musician. Just saying.) I've talked to many mothers who have told me they are better parents when they are working and I get that.

I guess I didn't quite realize how important this really is to me until the chance came up to think otherwise.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

poem by Emily Dickinson

I watched the Moon around the House
Until upon a Pane-
She stopped - a Traveller's privilege - for Rest -
And there upon

I gazed - as at a stranger -
The Lady in the Town
Doth think no incivility
To lift her Glass - upon -

But never Stranger justified
The Curiosity
Like Mine - for not a Foot - nor Hand -
Nor Formula - had she -

But like a Head - a Guillotine
Slid carelessly away -
Did independent, Amber -
Sustain her in the sky -

Or like a Stemless Flower -
Upheld in rolling Air
By finer Gravitations -
Then bind Philosopher -

No Hunger - had she - nor an Inn -
Her Toilette - to suffice -
Nor Avocation - nor concern
For little Mysteries

As harass us - like Life - and Death -
And Afterward - or Nay-
But seemed engrossed to Absolute -
With Shining - and the Sky-

The privilege to scrutinize
Was scarce upon my Eyes
When, with a Silver practise-
She vaulted out of Gaze-

And next - I met her on a Cloud -
Myself too far below
To follow her superior Road -
Or its advantage - Blue -


The biography of Emily Dickinson I'm reading (a big fat one by Richard Sewall) says that of this poem, "For all the ladylike imagery and the detached, contemplative mood of the poem, the preoccupation is with a moon whose cold indifference implies an absolute break between man and nature...[it is] a coolheaded, beautifully controlled statement of alienated man."

Interesting, no?