Sunday, April 29, 2012

the requisite end-of-semester professor rantfest

oh no, wait. that's been every afternoon in my house when my husband comes home.

"guess what?" i'll say and he'll probably inwardly roll his eyes heavenward, begging for the end of this trend toward tirading, and i'll launch into a diatribe about a student who begged and begged and begged for extra consideration for turning in late work and then doesn't turn them in, or the 90% of my class that didn't turn in their final paper on time, or the students who email me absolutely clueless about why the link to submit their paper has gone away two days after the paper was due.

this semester, though, it just felt so much worse. the absolute disregard for syllabi.  the inability to manage to read directions. the begging, pleading, whining, and sometimes downright saucy confrontations about policies that were deemed unfair (i never cower to those--they just annoy me).  it was a rough start for me to the semester, with the worst cold i've had in MONTHS (literally--hadn't been sick since maggie was born) and morning sickness on top of that and a baby being sick, and i feel like it took me weeks to catch up.

but catch up i had and things seemed to be running well.

i could sit here and say that this is all a reflection on me, but i won't because, while i do believe it's a bit of a reflection on the chaos in my life, it's not a reflection on me as a teacher. it is, however, a reflection on me as a syllabus writer and a policy upholder. 

i need to get my metaphorical and merciless ducks in a row.

beyond that, i think it's a sign of the times, sadly.  and it will just keep happening. but when it does, i'll have plans, policies, outlines, and details already published for students. they'll have agreed to them in writing. they'll have promised that they've read them.  thus, when the time comes for them to cry ignorance, i will feel confident (if not entirely comfortable, because i don't ever like being the bad, bad guy) holding my ground.

but goodness i've never been so glad to say goodbye to a semester in my life. 

good riddance.  two more weeks and i am done done done. 

just in time for summer to start. 


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

dear baby sister: thank you.

Baby Sister,

you rock already. i just wanted to tell you that now, as i'm thinking about it and you just flutterkicked the heck out of me.  you are awesome and already so, so different from your sister.

i don't expect any different. for your whole life.

everyone thought you were a boy, even daddy, and i did too because i felt so different.  but there was a time when i began to feel like you were another little girl, so by the time it was time to find out, i didn't care. i just wanted to know that all of your bones were growing, that your spine looked like such a beautiful string of pearls, that your head contained a big, beautiful brain, that your heart was beating well. 

so when they told me that you were a girl ("that view should look familiar" said the ultrasound tech), i was not expecting to be so filled with overwhelming joy. but i was.  pure joy, from my toes to my head.  i cried.

we are so excited for you.

before i went to that appointment, i ate a lot of jelly beans. see, when maggie was in my belly, she didn't want to move AT ALL for the ultrasound.  so i thought, just in case, i would urge you along.

i really didn't need to do that. in fact, i have to go back to get a picture taken of your heart because you moved SO MUCH. you were rockin' and rollin' in there, already an individual who had your own idea of how to behave in each situation. in fact, i have noticed that when i eat a lot of sugar, you react A LOT.  i should keep an eye on that, i think. but i love that about you. you're just so...excited.  already. 

i was thinking about you yesterday, and it sort of came to me that your reaction to the jelly beans and your tendency towards periods of huge activity (lots of kicks and flutters in a short amount of time) tell me a little bit about who you are. we've been trying to think about your name, and though we think we have it narrowed down (because nothing else seems to fit but this one name, though we're not certain), i just wasn't sure if it was you.

yes, we have lots of time to figure it out, but i want to start to get to know you. if i know your name, i think that helps.  so i was thinking about this name that we've been kicking around, and wondering if it suits you. and suddenly...i got a little glimpse of who you are.

and i think you're like me.

see, most of the time, i walk around getting VERY EXCITABLE about certain things and then moving on. it's not that i'm hyper or even especially passionate. i'm your daddy said...enthused about things that capture my fancy. so, lately, for example, i've been ranting and raving to your daddy about my teaching jobs.  "ranting" and "raving" may not be the best terminology, but i always get very animated, using my hands to punctuate what i say and feeling very strongly about what i say.  but that doesn't mean that my blood pressure rises or that i'm angry or upset--just ANIMATED.

and i think you might be like that too.

maggie is more like your daddy--steady, confident, sure of herself. i think you might be more like me: quick to be excited but perhaps equally quick to doubt.  i think the name we've been thinking of suits you, and i think it is a confident name, a name that says to the world that you are unique, an individual, but someone who is spunky and faces the world with a great deal of enthusiasm. 

i'm excited to meet you, baby girl.  i'm sure you'll grow to hate the fact that we called you Baby Sister until we were sure about your name, and maybe even after, but know that it's the greatest term of endearment we can come up with now. soon you'll be someone else, called by your name or by some nickname (like maggie's bubba or doodlebug) that i come up with organically because it just comes out of my mouth.

but in the meantime, sweet Baby Sister, thanks for being you. keep growing. keep kicking. keep reminding me that you are entirely different than our sweet maggie girl, because it just reminds me that i have double the blessings in the form of two extraordinary daughters who are bound to rule the world, with love, someday.

i love you already.  thanks for being content with what i have to offer right now, which isn't as much as i could give you under different circumstances.  i may be distracted, busy, and stressed, but each day brings more excitement to meet you and each day makes me want to know you more.  i can't wait to get to know you.  i think we're going to really like each other--at least until you're 11.  :)


Monday, April 16, 2012

cue the procrastination.

well, we made it.

we made it through the week we'd been both dreading and looking forward to for MONTHS--ultrasound, recital, maggie's first birthday party. it was GOOD. we were blessed. all went well, save some elevated blood pressure at the doctor's appointment (new doctor, they wanted me to do a ton of labwork because of it, i got a blood pressure monitor instead and have been monitoring--oh look, not a smidge over 120/70...going to call and say "not doing labs--have evidence it's nerves, so leave me alone" and see how that goes over). 

we made it.

now descends the end-of-semester madness.  yay for that.

but mainly i just wanted to write about how i think it's entirely CRAPPY that parents don't support other parents. we are all so darn judgmental. i posted a facebook status update about reverence in church. i wasn't yelling, i wasn't upset, i was just alarmed at how LOUD it is in church.  i specifically said i didn't think anything of kids being the cause of this, only that i thought the bigger people could be quieter in general, beginning with myself.  i have only noticed this lately, since maggie has been increasingly interested in the world and, therefore, increasingly difficult to get to sleep at church. i know the day is coming when she will no longer do it.  i'm not looking forward to that day at all, but in the meantime, i literally have to cover her ears, even when in the mother's room, when someone walks into the door of the building. it's absurd.

but the chapel? good grief. we walked in with a sleeping baby. but the pre-Sacrament meeting din was so loud that she woke up. i got her back to sleep, hello organ (not slamming the organ--just wow you don't notice how loud that is).  back to sleep, hello microphone.  and this all amid a lot of just noise.

it was just disturbing, that's all. (so was walking out during the opening prayer to hit the mother's room and seeing someone staring at me, who was clearly not closing eyes or bowing heads. weird.)

so i posted a status about it and i have some dad basically telling me that i'm doing it wrong, that it shouldn't be hard to just give them a look and a shh and that's it.  that the Spirit exists independent of children, that we should just listen to the speakers. he's a dad. and i don't want to be annoyingly sexist, but i wouldn't be surprised if i talked to his wife and she admitted to having the same problems that we (me and said dad's sister-in-law) have.  of course it's not my child's fault that i am distracted--but she IS the reason. it would be wonderful to just tune her out and listen to the speaker, but in the meantime, she would have climbed onto the pew and fallen off, cracking her skull, or removed the entire contents of my purse while proceeding to gum my iPhone into oblivion or eat a mechanical pencil, or walked onto the stand (climbing the stairs by herself) to party with the piano, or run down the hall never to be seen or heard from again.  that's not a viable option.

beyond that, WHY CAN'T WE JUST BE SUPPORTIVE? you don't have to agree with the other person. you can even suggest that the person may not be entirely clear on a particular concept. but why is it necessary to, when seeing a struggling parent, pour salt onto a metaphorical wound? what purpose does that serve? what good does it do? NONE.  it just divides parents.  shouldn't we be united, especially within our church? shouldn't we be each other's greatest support system?

i just don't get it. 

parenthood can be incredibly isolating. my sunday experiences are emblematic of this. i spend much of the three hour block separated from where i "should" be because i have responsibilities that call me out of class.  maybe you're the person who sits in the front row and thinks bad thoughts about the mom in the back row with the really adorable towheaded kid who wanders up to the front occasionally. maybe you're the one who doesn't understand why the family is sitting on the couch. maybe you're the one who thinks it can't be that difficult to just get a kid to take a nap. 

if you are, i guarantee you're not a parent yet, because i've been you.  but if you ARE a parent, and you still think that, i don't understand. i really, really don't understand.  nothing has taught me more about the need for friendly, empathetic faces and understanding arms than being a mom for the last year.  and now, with Baby Sister on the way and what can only be described as insanity looming this fall, i need it.

i just wish i could find it more readily sometimes.  i just wish we were all a little less sure of how right we are and a little more sure of how much we love each other and appreciate each other's challenges, even if they are not our own. 

and that rambling rant is now concluded in favor of SOME kind of productive work being done on my exhaustive/exhausting list of remaining things to grade.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

i find the following things awkward.

...chatting with students online. it feels uncomfortably familiar for me to approach a student on Gchat at 10:35pm, but it also feels unmerciful to not say "hey, you're not failing, you're just looking at the wrong thing" when i know it's true and the kid is sitting right there. it feels wrong...on all levels. especially when said student was all "hey, i'm going to skype you because it's weird that i've never seen you face to face and you're my teacher" and also took a picture of himself in a wifebeater as his skype profile picture...*shudder*

...finding out, through a ward member's blog, that there was apparently some big party at a ward member's house that a bunch of families were invited to...and we were not.  i think it was probably for older kids, but i still was all "wow. WOW. wow. we have no friends."

...having your mother-in-law refer to the baby that "we're" having.  uhm, does anybody else share this body, besides me and ye young baby bean? i think not.  brent gets props because a) he contributed 1/2 of the DNA, so yeah, he can claim him/her and b) he has to DEAL WITH ME every day. that ain't no easy feat sometimes, especially since i occasionally tell him i just want to hit him. not because he's done anything bad (never does...he's a prince) but because sometimes i just get irrationally aggressive when pregnant. i never DO hit him (unless he gives me permission) and i never do damage (haven't been to body combat in a LOOOOONNNNNG time...i am a pansy girl) but really? "we're" having a baby?  i think not.

...when you get a lot of hand-me-downs from people and then you realize you don't like any of them. or the vast majority of them are not in good condition. i feel awkward because, really, i am so grateful to anyone who wants to share with us. we are so blessed in that way, and i am so grateful. but the other part of me thinks that i would NEVER give anything to anyone else that wasn't in great condition.  maggie has onesies that she wore ONCE, got sweet potatoes all over, and destroyed.  i'd put her in it if i was desperate (before she grew out of it) and we were hanging around the house, but that's the equivalent of putting me in dirty gym shorts because all of my other shorts were in the washing machine.  does that make me a bad person?

...looking obviously pregnant and someone being surprised when i tell them that maggie's getting a sibling.  either i assume that the world looks at my belly way more than it does or else people just think i am enormously fat. i'm not sure which one is worse.

...pretty much everything about the fact that i watched the first seasons of make it or break it and switched at birth in a two week span. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

letters to my girl: month TWELVE.

dear maggie,

about the time you started walking, i stopped writing. you might see a correlation there. it's also about the time we found out that you're going to have a sibling. i got a little tired, baby girl. i'm sorry about that.  i will try to be better, especially because so much happens so fast with you that i don't ever want to forget it.

let's go from head to toe, shall we? people say you have your daddy's face and my smile. i think they're right, to a certain extent, but as you get older i think you look more and more just like you.

hair: blonde, and coming in more and more! it's starting to get a little bit long and shaggy in the back, which is exciting, and you're getting more and more on the top. you don't look like you have "kid" hair yet--it's still baby hair--but it's very blonde and very fine.

eyes: still gorgeously blue. i don't think that's going to change, which is sort of awesome since my grandma had blue eyes too. seems appropriate.

nose: molars make your nose run. i'm sure you'll be horrified to read this someday, but it's one of the ways that you tell me that you're teething.  also, you've been fighting colds since christmas (everyone in our house has, actually).  your poor nose has been getting its fair share of attention lately.

mouth: well, there's a lot to talk about here. seven teeth so far, working on at least two more. 

eating--you're eating big kid food now, but you're still drinking milk too. you love your bottles and will not hold it while eating at all. i don't think you ever will.  i think you'll give them up before you do.  i don't blame you. why do work when you can recline and not have to? i think this speaks volumes about you.  we're working on transitioning you to whole milk from formula. so far, you don't even seem to notice.  if it's in a bottle, you're good to go, i think. 

you are getting really good with finger foods.  you don't really miss your mouth very much if you decide that you actually want to eat something. there are times, though, when you just seem to absolutely refuse to eat anything.  for this reason, you're still eating some purees in a pouch. at least then i know that you have eaten SOMETHING with some nutritional value.

some of your favorites: blueberry yogurt (you eat it EVERY morning!), apples (it's the one food that you will consistently try to eat), goldfish (you eat them one at a time--i wish i was like you!), cucumber (found out at a salad bar of all places), grapes (we have to split them in half for you), CHEESE! (cheddar, though--nothing else will do), peanut butter (this one's new), blueberry bagels or really bagels of any kind, frozen muffins (they're easier to hang on to! you especially like the pineapple ones).

some of your least favorites: meat. you really don't like it.  you don't like pancakes, french toast, or waffles, unless the waffles are frozen and you are teething and then you just gnaw on it until it's thawed and then throw it on the ground.

someday we'll get there.  i think once you get some of these molars in, it will suddenly be a lot easier to eat some of this stuff that you've been looking at with suspicion.

talking: your first real word was "done!" i didn't realize how often i said it to you when i was feeding you or when i was changing you or when i was doing anything until, one day, you said it back to me when i asked you if you were done while you were in your highchair. i think i beamed.

you say, and know what they mean:  done, mama, dada, cup

you say these words after we say them: yum (this one is about to be upgraded, though, because you say it unsolicited recently),  bum, apple, gum (from the "raindrops were gumdrops" song), yeah, come (this one's new), dum (not dumb; i think it's the sound word), cheese, bee (either the letter or the insect, we're not sure).

you talk all the time. you love to talk. but you're also happy to be silent as well.  you are so smart. you take direction really well. even though you can't say them, you know what things are (especially your toys). you correctly go to your penguin when we ask you, you know what your caterpillar is, you know what your zebra is.  you know what "diaper time" is and you know what breakfast, lunch, dinner, and milk are.  you know what it means when i say "daddy's home!" and you squeal in delight.

you are adorable.

hands and arms: you can clap, wave, and pick almost anything up. you've taken to trying to haul and drag my big purses around, which is fairly hilarious. you like nothing better right now than to walk around with a reusable grocery bag around your NECK because, i guess, it's too big to just hold on your arm.  your fingernails grow insanely fast, but you won't let me cut them anymore because you would rather sleep in your bed (i used to cut them after you would fall asleep in the rocking chair). i actually don't know what i'm going to do about that.

belly:  you've still got a little belly, but it's so cute that i hope it sticks around for a little while longer.  you have taken to pulling up your shirt (now that you're wearing more shirts than onesies) and showing it to the world.  you can correctly identify it when we ask you where your belly is--you pat it lovingly.

legs: i think you're getting ready to run. or dance. or both.  you've begun to run in place a little bit when you're excited, big smile on your face.  it's SO STINKIN' CUTE.  it's like you're learning that you can move those feet faster and with more rhythm that you thought you could.  i've not been looking forward to the day you learn how to run, selfishly.  but you're pretty fast anyways. it didn't take you long to get out of the "toddling" part of learning how to walk. you walk with confidence now, like you've been doing it for your whole life.  you have incredible balance, navigating piles of laundry and piles of toys in the living room like they are no big deal.

when you got your zebra riding toy, it took you a few minutes of suspicious inspection before you figured out, ON YOUR OWN, how to mount it and bounce on it. you're incredibly strong and you're always on the move.

feet: we finally have shoes that work and fit and i love them. you seem to be enthralled by the velcro on them, but only unhook one part, so they still stay on.  i'll take it.  but most days, like me, you're barefoot. i bet that's how it will always be.

brain: you are so smart, maggie.  as you get older, you just surprise me even more.  i know every parent brags about their kids and what they do, and i'm certainly no different, but your daddy and i were talking today about how you're smart in every area. you're verbally smart--you pick up on words, phrases, and what they mean VERY quickly.  you're aurally smart--you understand what you're hearing and what sounds mean and can follow directions very well.  you're physically smart--you have fallen a few times, but it didn't take you long to figure out how to avoid that by getting off of the couches in the way that i showed you. i think maybe it took you two or three days of me showing you every so often how to do it. then you had it. the same thing is true for any of the skills that you have developed--you learn it quickly and it's yours.   you LOVE books.  your new thing is bringing us books (we're working on having you not throw them at us) and having us read them over and over and over again.  i didn't think we'd get to that phase for a while, but...we're there. but you're so smart about it--you know exactly what you're doing. 

i don't know what will come of this, but i know that you are a clever girl. i hope you will always use that cleverness to achieve something good. there's not enough cleverness being used for good in the world.  whatever you choose to do, i know that you will be successful at it. it's who you are. you were born that way.

heart: my goodness are you sweet.  you have your moments of fussiness and your moments of short tantrums, which i attribute to not being able to articulate what you want or to understand how to express your displeasure, but you are overall a smiley, happy, cheerful kid.  you like people SO MUCH now.  you love to be around other kids. only recently, you have been utterly fascinated by babies smaller than you. you want to touch them, to examine them, but you do it in this gentle sweet way.  you love other adults too, and you love church so much because there are so many people and so many new things to see.  you flirt with people in the store, you wave to people sometimes, you are so sweet to everyone you encounter.

with us, you are cuddly and kind and so funny.  you are almost always smiling. when you're not, you just want one of us to be with you. you have taken to having some chill time with me on the couch sometimes, if you're feeling a bit tired or just need to be close.  it's very sweet and i treasure it.  most of the time, though, you are an intrepid explorer, trying to see what you can find next, and always with a smile.

i can't believe it's been a year since you joined our family, maggie. you are the best and the sweetest and the most exasperating. :)  you are teaching us things that we never could have learned without you, and i am so grateful every day that you are ours for the time that Heavenly Father has entrusted us with you.  we promise to keep doing our best, and we're thankful that you are as forgiving of us as you are.

thanks for making me a mom and making your dad a dad. thanks for teaching us how to do it and how to trust ourselves. thanks for proving that we're doing something right by being as happy as you are to be where and who you are.  thanks for coming to us as perfectly as you did.  thanks for being you.

i can't wait to see what the next year brings. you'll be a big sister.  i think you'll be an extraordinary one. this baby bean has no idea how lucky s/he is to have you. i'll remind him/her of that, i promise.

we love you so much more than any word, anywhere, anytime, could ever express. 

mommy (and daddy).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

calling all wives' tales.

my dreams are off the charts insane with this baby. for example, last night (or in the early morning hours) i dreamed that i was jacqueline kennedy and i was making out with john f. kennedy, who was but was not my husband.  and not only that, but i was analyzing their relationship, in this weird detached way, suggesting that the reason that she put up with his nonsense is because their love was like a shooting star.

so cliched, but what do you want? i was DREAMING.

i have nights where it is just back to back dreaming. dreaming on a weirdly odd scale for me. normally, when i dream, it has some sort of connection to my life.  it makes sense to me, and a lot of the time, i recognize that it's a dream a bit of the way in and then continue like it's some awesome made-for-me movie.

these? not so much. i have no idea where they're coming from, but they are OUT OF LEFT FIELD.

anybody have any ideas about what gender this indicates? the chinese gender chart says it's a boy. everyone else thinks it's a boy. i'm about ready to think it's a boy, except that i'm worried that if we find out (on tuesday) that it's a girl, i'll be disappointed (really? could i be? i think not, but i don't want to put that on a kid).  so i'm trying to be all "la lah la" and i ask musicboy 500 times if he still thinks its a boy. he says he thinks so but he's not sure (like he was with maggie).

sigh.  technology will rule the day. i feel like it's been FOREVER that we've been waiting for this appointment. it will be here before we know it.  scary. crazy. then we'll know who this kid is. 

then we can get serious about naming it. 


maggie's birthday is tomorrow. TOMORROW. she'll have been on this earth for one year.

i hope she's liked it so far.  we have.