I work about 60% time, and for the last month I have been plugging away at preparations for a big event that's happening next week. And for the past week I have been totally mired in the details and spending way too much time in the office and away from M and the mister.

I have tangled with the apologetic but ultimately unhelpful customer service staff of discountmugs.com. I have made an illegal U-turn to get to Kinko's while wolfing down a Frosty for lunch at 3pm. I have calculated and recalculated how many pounds of fruit salad 150 people (or perhaps 100 or perhaps 200) will want to eat on a hot (or perhaps rainy) Tuesday morning in July.

I have not yet, but will soon, visit my local hardware store and purchase fifty feet of rope, two big shovels, and a can of gold spray paint.

And will I ever be glad when this is done. It's like planning a wedding, only I'm not in love with anyone who will be there.

So forgive my lack of posting for a few more days. I'll be back.



I found the bottle of milk. (Here, if I knew how, I would link to the post called "Worse than an Easter egg?")

It was in the basement in a bag of old doll clothes I keep meaning to iron. And it wasn't the slightest bit moldy inside. It didn't even smell that bad. Kind of yeasty, kind of sweet. I'm not saying I'd drink the stuff, but it could have been a lot worse.

I might even be able to salvage the bottle. We'll see how it tastes after a run through the (two months old and still a thrill!) dishwasher.

We are home from a blissful long weekend visit with two dear friends, their two kids, and one wonderful grandma. We are well rested, we've had great talks with people we love, and we have a kid who requests the book she's currently obsessed with by saying siipssh. And we are godparents. Pretty heathen, still, but godparents. More on this later. For now I must sort mail and feed the cat and eat ice cream and go to bed.



There is also Ariel Gore's little essay, "It Takes a Heap of Loafing to Raise a Kid."

Which is half of the reason that I'm sitting in front of the computer drinking tea and eating salt and vinegar potato chips at 10:30 a.m.

The other half of the reason is that M's morning nap has returned.



Don’t judge me for this, but last week I signed up for the FlyLady mailing list.*

Her thing is that if you do a little bit of cleaning here and there, you never end up with a giant mess that takes hours to deal with. For example, for bathroom cleaning (stick with me, here!) her gimmick is, You never have to clean your bathroom again! The fine print reads, Do a little something every time you are in there. Clean the mirror, wipe down the edge of the bathtub, wipe out the bathtub while you’re in the shower. And then it never gets to the point where bathroom cleaning is an event, it’s just clean all the time.

To me it starts to sound like you are always cleaning the bathroom, then, but I guess it works. And it’s got me thinking about things that can be done a tiny bit at a time.

These days, free time comes in small packages, but if I look at it right, I can see that there’s still plenty of it. I find myself looking for projects that help me grasp that time, harness it for something I can be proud of later.

At the beginning of 2006 I bought a pocket-sized (maybe three inches by four?) journal with the dates marked on the pages, and every day I write something about what M has been up to, how she’s changing, what we’re doing together. It’s a way to grab not only the fragments of free time that come my way (at the end of the year I’ll have a book about M), but also the changes in her that are so breathtaking. It’s a way to try to freeze on paper the moments make a drooling, crawling, barely signing baby into what we’ll have next winter, which is, I guess, a girl who runs and who says new things every day.

It’s so promising. If I sew together four pieces of cloth every morning, someday I’ll have a queen-sized quilt. If I write two paragraphs every evening, eventually I’ll have a novel. Maybe a bad one. But a novel.

What are you doing with your piecemeal time, I wonder, besides reading this?

* My self-love is unrelated to the shininess of the kitchen sink, but I need a little kick in the pants about the household cleanliness. So I delete eight annoying emails a day and open one that tells me to go scrub the countertops, and fifty percent of the time (maybe) I follow instructions. So far, so good.


Because that wasn't enough...

This morning we ran into the play group friend who witnessed the bad morning scene last week. Thinking I needed to apologize somehow for the ugliness, I said, "I think you saw me in one of my less pleasant moments." He had no clue what I was talking about and apparently had not really noticed what was going on, besides me waving at him from the car. But of course, having made that comment, I then had to explain to him what on earth I meant. It all ended up lighthearted and fine, but how embarrassing.

The outing on which we ran into the guy was notable in that it was a long! outing! in the morning! M seems, over the past week, to have switched over from two naps a day to one, and it is an unexpected thrill to be able to be out of the house from, say, nine to noon. It had crossed my mind that this switch was coming, but I hadn't anticipated how freeing it would feel. Yeee ha!

In other news, the zinnias in the backyard are blooming furiously; the magnolia sapling we thought would die is thick with big leaves; our lawn is brown and crunches when you walk over it; all three of my pepper plants have fruit on them; the catnip has gone to seed and been mangled by Lucy and the neighbor cat; and all of the sunflowers remain inexplicably stunted.

Oh! And the best thing—last week we got our hands on a rain barrel. Not an attractive wooden recycled whiskey barrel, but an ugly blue plastic one made locally from recycled materials. We installed it yesterday; now we just need rain.


In Which I Behave Badly

I was supposed to work in the office all day, so we were ready to go, but the babysitter was five minutes late, then ten, fifteen. She usually calls me from the road if she's going to be a mere two minutes early instead of her usual ten, so I was worried. You know, worried that she might be dead. When my husband, to whom I somewhat tearily explained this concern on the phone, expressed slightly irritated surprise that my thoughts had so quickly turned so far toward the morbid, I replied, Well, we have to think about these things. His response: No. We do not. Food for thought.

I finally reached the babysitter on the phone. She had forgotten she was supposed to come today, which isn't surprising, as we'd re-arranged three weeks' worth of scheduling because of the holiday, her vacation, the other babysitter's vacation, my gyn appointment, etc. etc. She said she was on her way.

But by the time I reached her I needed to be leaving pronto for a meeting a couple of miles away, and had already determined I'd bring M along. But first M needed a diaper change, something that she's lately developed a serious distaste for. And then she was sad and cranky in the car, and I took one detour to avoid road construction and accidentally got into some weird-ass one-way neighborhood streets with dead ends and diagonal roads right and left, and thought I was finding my way out of that but instead came upon a school bus parked in the middle of the street, blocking anyone from passing.

For what I did next there is no good excuse. Let's just say I was experiencing, um, a lack of mindfulness. A lack so great that I stopped the car, got out, ran up to the bus door and, um, kind of yelled at the bus driver.

Well, I am from quiet, WASP-y stock and probably some people would argue that I don't actually have a clue how to yell. Call it what you want: I ran up to the door of the bus and made the bitchy arm movements you might have seen people making in cars if you once accidentally pulled out in front of them, and said, loudly, to the driver, "You're blocking the road! I can't get through!" And the driver seemed maybe confused or possibly a little slow, and said, "I'm waiting for the kids to..." and pointed at the park building next to the road. And I interrupted him and said again, "I can't get through!" And, without waiting for any sort of response, stomped back to the car, reversed rather quickly for several yards, and turned around. And, um, noticed a guy I sort of know from a play group standing on the sidewalk probably within earshot of the whole awful scene.

And then I took another, more major road toward my destination, only to come upon a train where I have never seen a train before, a train at least 35 cars long moving at about zero miles per hour. A train that first went very very slowly all the way to the right and then—just as the last car was finally beginning to clear the road on which I was hoping to continue travelling—stopped and began moving very very slowly in the other direction.

In the car—with no unsuspecting bus driver in the crossfire, no potential new friends watching from the sidewalk, and the impressionable Monkey beginning to doze off in the back seat—I was all full of equanimity. There is nothing to be done about this. I will get there when I get there.

There's got to be a way I can be more selective about my moments of mean childishness. I hope the bus driver was feeling good enough to shrug me off as some kind of lunatic.

By my watch I was almost 15 minutes late for my meeting, and apparently by the watch of the people I was supposed to meet I was 20 minutes late, because they'd already given up and left by the time I showed up. M slept all the way home and for 15 minutes in the car while I chatted with the babysitter, who had arrived while we were gone.

At work I finished eight things on my to do list and until three o'clock forgot to eat anything but those malt balls with chocolate over them. Do you know those things? I have a little bit of a problem with them because the food co-op I frequent sells them in the bulk bins right next to the pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries so I sometimes forget that they are candy and not a fruit or legume.

And after work I came home and fed M beet greens and eggs. I gave her a bath and demonstrated bubble blowing about 47 times, leaning over into the water and getting my face covered with bubbles. And I read her her new favorite book. She signed more more more almost the whole time I was reading, and we went through all the pages at least three times, and she gave goodnight kisses to the duck, the frog, the bug, the snake, and the narrating mouse with the guitar before putting the book down and being nursed to sleep.

It felt in every way like a Monday. The beauty of my crazy part-time work schedule is that tomorrow's already Friday.



For five days last week, my husband was out of town at a conference. Before that, it was 14 straight days of working 13 hour days. He'd spend a half hour with M in the morning, then leave for work and not be back until well after she was in bed. Before that, about a week of normal work hours and maybe one normal weekend thrown in. Before that, another 14 days of the crazy long work hours.

Last Thursday marked the end of the nutty series of projects that kept him on the hateful schedule. This weekend we were all home. We went to the park together, the three of us. I took several showers all by myself with no one else in the bathroom. On Saturday night my brother in law and his girlfriend watched M for several hours while the two of us went out for dinner and a long walk and dessert.

Everything looks better with him home.