Thursday, October 29, 2009

of mice and mamas

~The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry

Walk into my house. You will see that I left the coffee maker on (sorry, Brian, I know that scares you). You will find that I left my coat, and Ramona's, on the chair. There are various poopy baby items, half heartedly washed out, all over the bathroom. Clothes are spilling out of the dryer. The baby tub is still full of not clean water. Destroying my home was not the plan for the morning.

I am in the middle of parent teacher conferences and I'm spending a lot of time away from Ramona. So, instead of getting to work very early like I usually do, my plan was to get there on time and spend time playing with Ramona.

The trouble started with us sleeping in. I have a No Alarm Clock policy. If Ramona is going to sleep in, by god, I am too. So, instead of using our time to play, we slept. Whatever. Sleep is good too. Anyway, it's becoming scary late, and I still have her playing on the floor and I'm finishing getting everything together when I hear her poop. This actually doesn't surprise me, it's a daily occurrence. It's sort of like "ok, everyone use the restroom one last time before we go!!".

My acceptance of the last minute diaper change switched to panic when I discovered we were dealing with a full scale blow out.

Ramona ended up in the tub and the look on her face cracked me up "mama! I'm in the tub!! Look, you accidentally put me in the tub!!! Ha!!".

The rest of the morning was like some scene out of an 80's movie about how hard it is to be a mom, or a dad trying to be a mom. It was nuts.

Best laid plans....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

dinner theater

We are a bit cooking challenged, so when Brian cooked something new and adventurous (pumpkin pasta) it was impressive. We sit at the actual dinner table, with Ramona sitting in her high chair playing toys. A few minutes into dinner, Ramona did the seemingly impossible. In front of our eyes, she began SPEAKING! She moved her mouth and made a consonant/vowel babble sound for the first time. It sounded something like -Baaabaaabbaaaabaaa. It was amazing and beautiful.

Forks dropped....dinner was forgotten, because of baby's first babble.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Report: The Penderwicks

This weekend I finished reading The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. The Penderwicks is a chapter book that a fourth or fifth grade student (most likely a girl) would enjoy.

I read a lot of books for kids and I hardly blog about any of them. I only really want to blog about books that I have loved. Or books that have left me with thoughts that I care to write about. The Penderwicks is worth reading and writing about. This book feels like a classic. But it's not, not yet anyway. (not that awards matter much, but it won the National Book Award in 2005.)

In The Penderwicks, Birdsall borrows story elements from Little Women. There are four sisters, all very different, but fiercely loyal to each other. There is only one parent in the picture, although in this story we have a father instead of a mother. When the youngest was only 2 weeks old, Mrs. Penderwick dies from cancer (Internet, do I need to point this out again? What have we noticed about moms in books???) And although it isn't exact, Birdsall is too good of a writer to straight out copy, there are similarities between the March girls and the Penderwick girls. The oldest, Rosalind Penderwick, is maternal like Meg, Skye Penderwick is like Jo in more ways that I can count, Jane Penderwick is artistic and sweet like Beth, and Batty Penderwick is the quintessential baby of the family, just like little Amy was for the March sisters. They even have a cute little sister society called MOPS (Meeting of Penderwick Sisters), where they swear to not tell dad what they are up to, unless they think someone is going to do something really awful.

The book is just darling. And best of all, it's a series! I am now reading The Penderwicks on Gardam Street. I can't report on it, because I just began, but something tells me I'm not done writing about the Penderwick Girls.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

nice and easy

I'm not the mom I thought I would be.

I was someone who liked research, discipline, and being consistent to the point of being inflexible. Ask the first graders I used to teach. They will tell you.

I read a lot of books about how to train babies before Ramona came. And sometimes I sneak onto the internet for advice and beg friends for baby lessons. But, I hardly EVER follow it. We all do this I think. We all re-invent motherhood for every baby that appears in our nest.

I have found that I like to take it nice and easy when it comes to Ramona. Recently I let some of my mothering indiscretions slip around some much revered mother friends. Women that I have been mentored by in my career and personal life since I left college. When I admitted my uncertainty about using the "cry it out method" I could feel their disapproval. I felt ashamed, but also rebellious. I came home and said to Brian, "I'm not ready, Ramona isn't ready, I'm going to go get that girl every time she cries!". Now, when I get up to get Ramona at night, I don't feel tired and unhappy, I feel like I'm eating candy for dinner. Chocolate cake for breakfast!

But their advice crept in and I've been making adjustments. I've been dealing with Ramona's napping problems, and I've been teaching her to be comforted by stuff that is not The Boob. But it's been slow. S-L-O-W. And there has been a little crying, but not a lot. This is working for me and it's working for Ramona. So, for now, it's nice and easy, but also slow and steady.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

home sweet saturday

I am having the happiest day in quite awhile. It's Saturday and we have nothing planned. I have spent the day enjoying Ramona and enjoying my home. I get a lot of pleasure doing house work type stuff on Saturday. These same chores on Wednesdays fill me with dread and grumpiness. Having the time to attend to these tasks that have been staring at me and mocking me during the work week is a relief.

I used to think a lot about who has it hardest; the working mom, the stay at home mom, the work from home mom, the part time work mom. Who has the crappy end of the stick? Thanks to the internet I know this is a silly line of thinking. Moms have it hard. Reading the daily accounts of moms everywhere is an unbelievable relief to me. Recently I was reading about the guilt that a stay at home mom has to deal with. Another mom wrote about the economic hardships of having one income. A friend was telling me that she has been working six days a week and that she misses her little girl dearly.

Bless every mom who is telling her story, because I live on these words.

Today, I am having a day of rest and organization. I am indulging in laundry and the dirty diapers I always miss. I am catching up on my writing. I am playing with my Ramona. Monday I will be back to my job that is wringing my heart out. But I won't feel sorry, because I am thankful for this job. I am thankful for the money. I am thankful for the work I do and the grownups conversation I get to enjoy. I am thankful for the exact life that I am living.

I am dedicating the merit of this day to a fellow dharma student who took her own life on Thursday. I can't imagine the sadness she must have been carrying in her heart. My practice this week is to do tonglen for her and for her two young children. This week, pray for mothers, please.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Haunted House/Spooky Samsara

There is this being called the hungry ghost. It's sort of a character in Tibetan Buddhism. This is supposedly an outcome of unfortunate rebirth.

I have been a hungry ghost. When I feel like punishing my husband with my sadness, when I can't engage my child because my face is flat, when I would rather be hungry than eat; I am a hungry ghost.

Last night, I scooped my baby up and we went to the bedroom and we played. We sang, danced, and bounced. We talked to our toys. She found mama's face had come back, and the ghost in me was chased off.

Every moment I am learning that it's never fixed for good. I will never clean my house and have it stay clean. The laundry will be done and undone. My marriage will not relocate to that place where it is permanently good. I will be reborn over and over again. Some mornings reborn with my Buddha nature shining through, then the next second reborn into a hungry ghost.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I don't have a Masters degree. I have an almost Masters degree.
I had a personal renaissance when I began graduate school that I look back on fondly, but the culmination of the program was writing a thesis. I love writing, but I don't love writing this thesis. This probably means I picked the wrong topic, but there is nothing I can do about this now. It's something like, Teaching Information Literacy to Young Children Using Research Based Early Childhood Principals. I have written one chapter and collected the research. I have two more chapters to write. I don't actually believe that I will EVER do this. I turned in the chapter a few weeks before Ramona was born and the plan was to not think about it again until I went back to work in the fall. Here it is October and I dread looking at my university e-mail. I dread turning my attention back to this darn paper.

My attention is directed at my family and my work. I am already a librarian and I don't believe that writing this paper will make me better at my work. Finishing up my Masters will give me a hardly noticeable pay raise. As a working mom I have very little time at home with my baby. When I get home, everything stops and I play with her, feed her, care for her, love her. When she goes to bed I spend time resting and being with my husband. I don't want to write this paper.

I feel overwhelmed by the stupidity of getting this close to getting a Masters degree and then wimping out. It is insane to spend all that money and get that close and not finish the degree. It would be one thing if I was half finished. But I'm not, I'm about 20 pages (and some long edits) away from being done.

Just write the paper, you say??? Oh really, so simple. Why didn't I think of that??

It is so simple. So very simple. Write the paper....write the paper....write the paper.

This is the last time I will speak of this until I actually buckle down and get started with the writing. If you don't hear about it again, it's because I'm a massive loser.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Book Review - Llama Llama Red Pajama

Last year I bought Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney for the library. It's a cute book, but definitely more appropriate for babies and toddlers. I'm not going to pretend that Ramona really has preference when it comes to books and music, but I love reading this fun, sweet book to her.

And more than that, I love "playing" this book with Ramona. "Ramona, no more of this llama drama, please be patient for your mama!" "Mama kisses baby's hair, Mama Llama goes downstairs." I find myself saying the rhymes of this book constantly.

On a side note though, what is with Mama Llama's clothes? She wears a dress with a ruffly collar, an apron, and pearls! Is this what Anna Dewdney thinks mamas look like? I love that the characters are llamas. What animal is sweeter or cuter? But I wish the llama mama was wearing a sweat shirt or perhaps a nursing tank.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday Night's Alright for....going to bed at 8.

What happened last night, you ask?? What happened to Friday Night Book Review??
This is what happened:
Ramona was asleep by 8:20, I left her room, walked across the hall, got in my own bed and went to sleep. I woke at midnight to have a bowl of cereal and then I went back to bed.
I feel like a million bucks today. When Ramona woke at 6 I wanted to wake up too. We bounced, we sang, we made coffee. I cleaned the kitchen!!
Last Friday night I was just as tired, but I tried to hammer out a review anyway, and It went something like this "Book sucked, I'm tired, sorry, goodnight".
I think I will have to pick a different time to do book reviews. Maybe I will just review when I feel like it. We will see...I really like structure.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

small, but growing

This morning I recalled some advice from a friend. The advice is 6 months old:

Nova: "My practice is small, but it's growing. However, I'm not a Tantra kind of person. A teacher said to my class "these modern times call for strong magic, Tantra gives us that", and that makes sense. But I still don't think it's for me. I don't know where to go next. I feel like I need a teacher, but I don't think I'm in the right place. But what other place is there?"

Nova's Friend: "Take Refuge Vows, Consider Your Heart, Practice. Then see what happens."

I didn't know what to do with that 6 months ago. This morning, maybe I do.
My commitment is small, but it's growing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Never Apologize

I made a pretty big clerical mess in the library this week and it took many people to help straighten it out. I sent e-mails requesting help, along with apologies
One of my fellow librarians wrote this back to me, "Never Apologize". She said it simply, with no anger. Never Apologize. It warmed my heart. It gave me the ability to face my mountain of work, rising hostility, and the feelings of inadequacy.

So, for the rest of this week, I'm not apologizing. If that doesn't work....I'm going to resort to a well timed, "SUCK IT, MONKEYS!" (Thank you Liz Lemon)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Night Book Review - Ida B

Ida B...and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan: This is a book about a spunky little gal that talks to apple trees and communes with nature. Things are going great in her life until her mother gets cancer (see, I told you... sick, dying, and dead mothers are a major theme in children's lit). While her mother struggles to get well, her family has to quit homeschooling Ida and has to sell some of the land they own and apple trees are cut down in order to pay medical bills (btw......No public option! Are you kidding me?!). Ida hardens her heart and becomes a pretty mean person for awhile. The story is kind of pathetic (not in a good way).

I was planning on using this book as an excuse to write about homeschooling, but Ramona is teething and she cried all evening. I'm too tired to make a coherent statement.

Put down the blog, Nova. Go to bed.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I knew I was good for something!

My school is “remaking” itself into a more high achieving learning environment and part of this has been a lot of serious study of ourselves. It has been pretty painful. I feel like I’ve been asked a million times what my strengths are. I could go on and on about my weaknesses, but lately I feel like I have no strengths.

Yesterday I was behind the bookcase in my office, pumping the milk, and I was thinking about things I could do to keep Ramona (and me) sleeping longer at night when I realized that I really like solving problems. It’s what I love best about kids. With kids you can begin anew each day. You can influence their environment! You can give them more attention, you can remove that negative stimulus, you can do 20 minutes of alphabet flash cards, you can put them in a different place in the crib! You can fix them!

This is what I loved about teaching first grade. There were many Fridays when I went home feeling like I wasn’t going to be able to go on, that if the kids kept not learning, talking over me, throwing chairs…..whatever…I was done with teaching. What always happened was that over the weekend I came up with a brand new system and Monday morning went about fixing the problems of the room. I feel the same way about Ramona. I feel like I get kids. I know when to apply the pressure, I know when to stick to my high expectations, I also know when to let go, and I know how to love. This filled me with a moment's delight. My strength is that I try hard and that I love kids, my strength is that I know when to let go and love.