Saturday, January 30, 2010

book chat - The Magician's Elephant

"I wanted, I needed, I longed to tell a story of love and magic." - Kate DiCamillo

From this yearning came The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo. Goodness, what a wonderful writer. I feel lucky to be a reader of children's fiction, because I get to indulge in the wonder of the magnificent Kate DiCamillo. My book club finished The Tale of Despereaux yesterday and it was enjoyed by all. Every story she tells is magic. The magic of light, love, forgiveness, and empathy. The magic that is real.

The Magician's Elephant begins with a boy's visit to a fortune teller. He has felt the stirrings of hope and regret in his heart. He is an orphan, but despite what he has been told, he believes his little sister lives. He also feels a sorrow because she is lost in the world. The fortune teller answers that his sister is alive and that to find her he must follow the elephant. He knows then that he has wasted his money because there are no elephants!

Until a few nights later.....a magician is trying to make a bouquet of lilies appear and instead, an elephant comes crashing through the ceiling of the opera house.


Have any of you ever dreamt of an elephant? My mom has. But this is not surprising, she's pretty neat. In The Magician's Elephant, an old nun tells us that dreaming of an elephant is portentous. I love this. I love the idea that we can see things in our dreams, find answers in our dreams, meditate in our dreams. Last year Alan Wallace came to the Rime Center to teach about lucid dreaming and dream yoga. Now of course, if you know me, you know I'm doing the best I can to sit still and breathe. My practice is watching my daughter grow and not shouting at my husband. But oh, wouldn't it be fun to dream of elephants!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


After being exhausted, sad, and dirty all day at school, coming home was a relief.

The first thing I saw was Ramona's smiling face. I held her and said "I'm sorry, Baby". Holding her face in my hands and saying those words felt so good and right. I know a lot of you think I did nothing wrong, but in my heart I believe I did, so apology necessary. Brian made tacos and we all sat down together and healed.

Afterward, everyone took turns having a nice hot shower/warm soothing bath.

Ramona went to bed sweetly with no problems like she always does. Ironically, she slept through the night. But that's fine, tonight she won't, and then she will, and then she won't. Everything as it was. I'm still looking for answers, but I'm looking for the gentle answers that are bound to come slowly.

The three of us have been through a lot of discomfort in the last couple days. I'm not here to say I'm a good mom. I'm not here to say I'm a bad mom. I'm learning and unlearning every day that my family is my comfort. I'm learning that Brian and I will make/are making mistakes, but if we all keep listening to each other we will be able to find what it is we need. I'm finding my way in the dark. Finding my footing slowly.

Last night felt good. We all got the rest we needed. The newly fixed hot water washed away the despair. We found comfort and forgiveness.

Monday, January 25, 2010

upside-down, inside and out

It's never as bad as you think it's going to be.

Unless it's worse.

Last night Ramona woke at 11:00 and I decided not to nurse her or rock her back to sleep in the hopes of teaching her to self soothe. We held out for a long time. She cried without stopping for an hour and 15 minutes. Up until that point I was holding steady, but when we started to go into that second hour I lost my nerve.

But it wasn't over yet. By that time she was so riled up from crying that it took me two hours to finally get her asleep and in her own bed. Did you hear that last part, "in her own bed"? Yes, I finally let her sleep with us. That is a line I never cross. I will go round and round with her, but I never give in that far. But last night I was so ragged, tired, and guilty that I just caved.

I fought a losing battle from 11 to 2. I went one step forward and countless steps back. She and I are both haggard from last night. We are both distrustful. All was not forgotten this morning. Usually she wakes in the morning, drinks a little milk and then is content to snooze in her crib until I'm ready to get her ready. This morning when I tried to lay her back down she started to cry, just like the night before. And so I carried her around the whole morning. Feeling guilty, feeling tired.

I know I'm really beating the beleaguered mother drum, but I also had no shower. When I attempted to step into the ice cold water I realized my plans were lunacy. You can't take a ice cold shower in winter.

My plans are lunacy. And today I look as bad as I feel.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

ACK! and ARG!

Wow, that was a long week. I got Ramona's illness. And a realization, but I'm getting ahead of myself.....

After Ramona got sick we had a day to recover, and then I got it. For me it came on at about ten at night, and in the middle of all that Ramona decided to be a non-sleeper/crier. Ramona and Brian get along really well. During the daylight hours he's just as good at taking care of her as I am. But as soon as it's time for sleep, she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. So in the middle of puking my guts out, I had to run into her room and try to get her back to sleep.

Realization: It's time to sleep train the baby. It has gotten out of hand.

So, the next night I was set to do it. My plan was to comfort her briefly, check on her a lot, but not to nurse her. And, what do you know, she slept through the night for the next four nights. This always happens! I resolve to let her cry, and then she quickly fixes herself......

lulls me into complacency....and BAM! She starts waking and crying again. It happened last night and I was so taken aback and unprepared for crying that I ran in and nursed her back to bed. Shoot.

Also, our hot water heater is broken. It can't even be looked at until Wednesday.

So, I resolve to take a cold shower tomorrow. And, I'm back to being unsure about my Ramona sleep plans.

Hey, hey, sounds like it's going to be a Great Week!

Monday, January 18, 2010

laundry day

Our day began on a happy note, with Ramona sleeping in. We had some very fun plans to go play with family today, so I was feeling very optimistic about the day. No chores, just fun. But, Ramona spit up her milk all over my bed. Did I think "Hmmm....that certainly was a lot of spit up" or "Woah, that was a bit projectile." Nope. I just started a load of laundry.

Then during a long phone conversation with my sister I begin to suspect that Ramona was having some diaper issues. No joke. She pooped something silly and she needed to have a bath. I would like to note here that at this point in the day I have had to change my clothes twice and now I have some seriously poopy clothes to wash. Load number two.

I know that you all out there are reading this thinking "dear god woman, your child is sick, duh." But I just didn't want to see it. It wasn't until Ramona threw up all over her changing table that I realized, "woah, someone's sick."

So, here I am. Down to my underwear, around me the stinky laundry is piling up, and I am rocking my baby when I realize something profound, "I make her feel better, she is clinging to me like a monkey because I make her feel better. As much as I love my mom, Ramona loves me. And as much as my mom loves me, I love Ramona". Oh friends, I realize this is stuff that moms should already know. But I'm someone who needs to learn things over and over again.

After a lot of holding, some more puking, and more holding, it seems we are out of the woods. Now I begin to attend to my poopy, pukey laundry. But I do so with a renewed sense of honor and joy.

Friday, January 15, 2010

book chat - quote edition

I have time for something quick. A quote from a new favorite, Gabriel's Horses by Alison Hart.

"A horse wins a race with spirit. With heart. If you beat out that spirit, if you break his heart, then he'll only run out of fear. And fear don't win races!"

Fear doesn't win races. Not with horses, or children....or teachers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

future illness

I have a sickness that I've recently come down with called Look-Forward-To-The-Distant-Future-itis.

I'm excited about Ramona being one. I can't wait to see her take some steps...outside. I CRAVE playing outside.

I am looking forward to not dragging a huge car seat around. Infant car seats are insane.

I have been constantly thinking about how neat it will be to not have her on the boob all the time. I have been craving the freedom that will come with weening. No more pumping! But also, I'm sad and I'm actually doubtful that she and I are going to be able to make this transition.

I am looking forward to baseball season with a zeal that can not really be expressed. The Royals were a lifeline for me during my maternity leave. They gave me something to follow that had nothing to do with myself and a daily event to cheer me when times were hard.

But, here it is, it's January. It's still a long way out.

What I have is a gift, and it's happening now. When she is five and fifteen and forty I'm going to think about her smallness and her newness and it's going to make me hurt from nostalgia.

Friday, January 8, 2010

the snow is always whiter...

Well, in fact, the party was not over. I went back to work for one day, and then the snow and Arctic cold rolled in. So, I got a bonus week with Ramona. Yay, right? Yeah, sort of.

I turned to Brian last night and said, "It feels like I've been taking care of this baby non-stop for three weeks". He replied, "That's because you have".

Last week I was really sad to be going back to work. I had a lot of fun over break. My house was pretty clean, I cooked a good dinner almost every night, and I was with Ramona constantly. I was sad because I didn't realize how much happens in a day with her and how much I had been missing. When I'm at school it all goes really fast. The day zooms by. I rush home, pump milk,feed baby, eat frozen pizza,play with Ramona and then it's bed time. It's all so fast. It's also easy to get into a really good rhythm and be pretty darn pleased with how well your family's life is going.

Oh friends, baby time is S-l-o-w. Her day is spent pulling up, grabbing toy, try to walk, fall....repeat.....repeat....repeat....repeat. And on the days when she is agreeable to taking a great nap in the afternoon, I feel like this is the greatest job on earth. But try to take my two baby free hours in the afternoon from me and I become a character from a story about a horrible, mean mom.

And the WORRY. I actually told Brian a few days ago that I'm really nervous that she has no interest in learning to clap, and that we are going to be "working" on that. Oh my god, I do not have time for this kind of crap when I'm working my full time job. I am just happy to see her clean and happy. I don't stress over the minutia. I'm just pleased to be with her.

I can't decide what this means. Is my child raising herself? Have I been stupid to be so content? Now that I have spent three weeks (and I really need to add that the weeks have essentially been snow bound) actually caring for my child, I am filled with worry. She isn't learning to self soothe at night. She is a horrible nap taker. She doesn't clap! I don't tell her No! I am a god awful mother.

While I'm working on sorting this stuff out for myself, I am also trying to get my mom on the phone, because I think her grandgirl would really like to spend some time with her.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

party's over

My two week holiday with Ramona is over.

Tomorrow when I'm back at work I'm going to visit my own blog over and over again, so I can see this happy/cutie/naughty/funny face.

Friday, January 1, 2010

10 years

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Ten years ago I was getting ready to go away to college. I had been living at home, going to community college for awhile. I was only going to school an hour and 15 minutes from my parent's home, but for me it was a huge deal.

I had a boyfriend that I had been hanging onto since high school. He was very neat, but it was time to move on for both of us. At the time, I had begun to discover that I was good with kids. It was more of a suspicion and hadn't been tested yet. Now, I'm smart enough to realize that I could have been good at a lot of things.

Somehow, in the last ten years, I have become a real actual woman. I am married and have a child. I own my own home and I am a tenured teacher. I am an elementary school librarian,a dream that I was hoping to attain by the time I was 40. I have had a lot of good fortune.

On the side of regret,I wish very much that in the last 10 years I had traveled more.

But,back to the question: Where do I see myself in 10 years?

I will be 39. My daughter will be 9(!). My marriage will be 13 years old.

In 10 years,you will find me nurturing my family. In 10 years, I see myself having fun. I see myself deepening my practice. I hope to be able to cook a pretty good dinner in 10 years. But most of all, I see myself as a kinder person. This is my greatest hope for myself. Just being kind.