On Our Way

The cat is at grandma's. Gifts have been purchased, wrapped, mailed. A's family has been fed entertained, cleaned up after, and fed again. Unwanted hairs below my waistline have been removed, appropriate sized warm-weather clothes for all of us retrieved from boxes and shelves, plants watered, adjustable rate home mortgage refinanced out of, baby vaccinated, day care arrangements for January almost set, bags almost packed. All of our bed- and waking-times have been graaaadually moved forward an hour and a half. We're leaving this afternoon for the awaited and (somewhat) feared tropical family Christmas gathering.

I'm planning, while we're gone, to avoid not just you personally but the whole entire Internet. I'm thinking of it as a media fast* a la Julia Cameron.

I've been feeling funny lately about what I write here. I know that the act of writing does something good for my mind and soul, and writing a blog is not all that different from the journal writing I'd already been doing for ages, but ... being on this end of the fast, I can't articulate the "but" yet. I want it to be different somehow. What better opportunity than a couple of weeks at the beach to avoid thinking about it for a while until some clarity emerges.

I'll miss you, though, Internet. I hope your end-of-December festivities are lovely and rejuvenating. And can you tell me something? This is a well-worn question, i'm sure, but why are you here? I mean, why do you write your blog (if you do), and why do you read blogs? I'm interested to know and will try really really hard not to cheat on my fast to come back and hear what you have to say.

*This fast is made more challenging by the fact that bloggy friends both real and imagined are expecting babies momentarily, and every non-Luddite bone in my body cringes at the thought of not recieving the news in real time. Will just uniformly send out vibes of easy labor and healthy babies until I know all is well.


Just as I was beginning to get all cranky about my artistic barrenness...

I found out this afternoon that another poem of mine has been accepted for publication. Publication, like, on paper. Once again: in the grand scheme of things, not a huge deal. But in my little poem-writing life, very exciting. Yeee haw. What a great way to mark the Solstice.

For You

I've been thinking lately about how grateful I am for you all who read and comment here. I drone, I complain, I shoot for and almost constantly miss the middle ground between maudlin and ungrateful, I write about the same six topics* that every other maternal blog writer covers every day, and yet here you are, reading and sometimes even being generous enough to let me know what you're thinking.

Then Eva posted this nifty thing a few days ago. And not only was my greed for homemade gifts great enough to overcome my fear of all things chain letter, but I thought it was also a neat way to thank you all. So I'm passing it along:

The first three people who comment saying they would like to participate will get something** handmade by me. You’ll receive it within 365 days.

1. Post a comment here and make sure I have (or can find) your email address so that I can contact you for your mailing address.

2. Put this on your own blog, and send something you make to the first three people that respond, if you are so inclined.

And if you don't want to play along, no worries. I will just assume you are leery of giving your mailing address to an internet stranger of such dubious character.

*Sleep, poop, nursing, tantrums, unnecessary self-deprecation, misty-eyed love for my children

**It might be a stingray shaped dishrag, but likely it will be something even better.


How Weaning Happens?

I"m pretty sure this one's not in the book:

Last Thursday
I'm nursing Iris on the floor and Ingrid asks if she can nurse from the other side. This hasn't happened in a while—mostly we're down to just nursing before naps and bed—but I let her do it.

She nurses for about five seconds. Then she throws up.

Then she cries and says, I didn't like the milk. I explain to her that the milk wasn't what made her throw up, she is probably just sick right now and the milk will taste good again later when she's well. When A arrives home, she runs to the door to greet him (in a brief between-pukes episode of feeling fine): I frew up on the carpet! I didn't like the milk!

She's exhausted from being up all night puking, and doesn't eat or drink much of anything, and all of her napping takes place out of the blue on the couch, so we don't even get close to our usual bedtime nursing ritual. No nursing.

At naptime, we finish reading stories and she says, I don't want to nurse. I don't want to frow up. I explain again that it was just because she was sick, that if she wants to nurse now the milk will probably taste good again, and it won't make her throw up. She nurses for about three seconds, then stops, cries, and says I don't want to frow up. As I'm in the middle of reassuring her again, she coughs and I flinch, thinking she's about to puke all over me. When I get her calmed down, she wants to go on to the "hugs and snuggles" part of the bedtime routine.

At bedtime that evening, she's hesitant about nursing but still wants to do it. When A comes up to kiss her goodnight, she tells him I liked the milk!

At naptime she nurses a little, but seems all urpy afterwards, and keeps saying I don't want to frow up! through all my reassurances that if she still wants to nurse, she still can.

At bedtime she blows right over that part of the bedtime routine, going straight from books to hugs and snuggles.

And that's what's happened for all of the past six going-to-bed routines. No more nursing. I might be premature in saying this, but she seems pretty darn weaned.

I feel what I expect is the usual mix of emotions about the end of nursing her: lots of glad-that's-finally-over, with strong sentimental twinges. She was ready: the nursing we were doing had started to seem sort of silly and cursory and extra. But it was a long and mostly sweet thing, that nursing connection, and I can't help but be a little sad (and still in disbelief) that it's gone.

And also: I nursed my daughter for almost 31 months, and she stops because she threw up my milk? It's anticlimactic and sort of absurd. If this holds, I'll be able to say that Ingrid doesn't nurse for the same reason that A doesn't eat turkey stuffing and I don't drink tomato juice. I can't wait to add this to the book of lovely "weaning stories" at the next La Leche League meeting.



A just left for a three-day conference someplace sunny.

He travels a fair amount for work-related things, and I'd become sort of an expert on handling it with one kid. And I've been feeling uncharacteristically calm and sane recently. So I hadn't anticipated his leaving would really rattle me this time. But the last few days have whapped me in the head, and my parting words to him this afternoon were something like this:

We'll be (sniff) fine. I (sob) h-h-hope you (sniff) have a r-really good (sniff) trip, and (sob) get lots of (sniff) sleep (sob, sob sob).

We will be fine. This is always the worst part of him being gone: the very beginning, when I still have the whole thing in front of me to dread.


More on the Day Care, Plus Other Stuff

About four blocks from our house is a dingy, stucco box of a house with a single, filthy, two-square-foot window. Hanging on the side of that house is a vinyl banner that reads, Child Care Openings. I believe that in small print under that it says We abuse and neglect your children, almost for free! When Emmie asked me the other day whether that was the Chaotic Bilingual Day Care, it occurred to me that I had not been representing the place totally fairly.

Chaotic Bilingual Day Care is clean. It is well lighted. It is run by an impeccable, articulate woman whom I still totally trust. I've met several families whose kids go there, and to a person they are likable, normal-seeming, smart-seeming adults whose kids are not jerks. It is categorically a bad fit for Ingrid, and I saw some stuff there that I didn't like, period, but I would still recommend it. At least, I'd recommend that people looking for day care in the area spend some time there and check it out. Despite the worst things I listed about it, my pulling Ingrid out of there is still mostly a gut thing. There is not anything glaringly, objectively wrong about the place. Even the worst things I witnessed there were sort of ambiguous.

Anyway, I don't know if you were reading along thinking What on earth made caro even think of sending her child into that hell hole? but in case you were, I hope that clears it up.

I called the director of Crunchier Than Thou last week to chat about our visit, and she listened to my concerns about Ingrid being ready for such a setting at all. Then she suggested that, if we decide this is the right place, one of their part-time teachers come to spend some time with Ingrid here at home a few times, in order to make the transition to her starting there more gradual. Stunning, isn't it? The out of the box thinking? The sense of partnership? The genuine sensitivity to the individual child's needs?

I was still looking into a couple of other leads at that point, so I told her I'd call her in a few days. But what else could I possibly want or hope for? I'm going to get in touch with her today and tell her we want to give it a try.

Also this week, we visited a fabulous pre-school co-op that made me all weepy about the fact we probably won't logistically be able to do traditional pre-school. Then I thought about how far away next September is and decided to sign her up and really work on arranging our lives so that it can work by then. If not, we just eat the $50 registration fee.

Ingrid has a stomach bug that made her puke all night Thursday. I got some version of it for several hours Friday. So far Iris and A are safe. I am on a "break" at the coffee shop, the kind that feels more like a time-out because rather than planning a take-care-of-me outing I let myself get cranky enough that A basically sent me away for a couple of hours. I guess I'll take what I can get.

I am so relieved to have moved forward with the day care decision. It must be a primal thing: not knowing who will take care of my kids = not sleeping. Each time Iris woke up to nurse, I'd find my mind scrolling through various day care possibilities and impossibilities, before I'd even realized I was thinking about the subject. I still think about it a lot, but I feel much calmer knowing this good option is taking shape.