Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Job

Started my new recruiting job yesterday, and at first blush, it seems like this is gonna be something I will like. Everyone that I have met so far has been super nice and welcoming, and my new boss (who I think is younger than me--ugh) is quite possibly the most laid back and mellow person I have met. (I'm reserving final judgment on that one for a bit, though...maybe I am reading her wrong. Time will tell.) The job itself seems challenging yet relatively low-stress and the environment is casual and open. Keeping my fingers crossed that this is a place where I can find my niche and hopefully stay for a long time...

The best part of the past two days was when a call came into the department today from a Spanish speaker. The girl who was training me remembered that I am bilingual and put me on the line with the man, and as soon as I started my conversation with him in Spanish, it was clear that others around me were impressed. Soon, I had an audience and when I hung up the phone, my boss came up to me and said, "I totally love you," while others around were saying things like, "Wow!" and, "That's awesome!" Oh yeah, I'm a rock star.

The only bad thing about the job is where the office is located, but we are moving to a different building in a week and that will hack at least fifteen minutes off my commute, which will be very nice. It's been a challenge the past couple of mornings getting Grace up and ready to go ten minutes earlier than she's used to. And, an hour commute home tonight (when it should have taken me a half hour) in the driving snow was no fun, either. But, I can live with it for another week.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Our Lovely Weekend

Here are some photos from our mini-vacation that took place this past weekend!

The Wollersheim Winery, which was holding a Port Wine Celebration when we visited. We drank lots of wine.

Aaron and I, at the Wollersheim, after sampling several varieties of wine and deciding to purchase a case of the stuff:

Our suite at the bed and breakfast:

The bed and breakfast where we stayed, the Victorian Treasure, has three houses. This is the main house, which was built in the 1800's and was the home of a prominent Wisconsin politician. The house still contains the original woodwork and the fireplace in the main sitting room features the same tile that the lady of the house ordered from Italy over a hundred years ago. Simply lovely.

Sunday night, after returning to Milwaukee, we went to see one of my favorite bands, the Editors, in concert at the Pabst Theater. Since cameras weren't allowed, this is the only picture I managed to take with my phone:

The concert was awesome, and the Editors rocked my shizzy.

All in all, Aaron and I had a wonderful weekend. Of course, I missed Grace and was so happy to see her when we got home, but a little "couple time" is always very nice.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reviewing "Juno"

Sorry...that title makes it seem like I actually know something about reviewing movies. I really don't, but here are my two cents regarding "Juno" anyway.

First off, the soundtrack was FANTASTIC. As soon as I have some extra cash, I'm gonna run out and buy it. I loved the music from the opening montage to the final credits. It definitely added something special to the movie.

I thought the movie itself was really, really well done. At first, I had a hard time with the dialogue, just because I can't think of a single teenager that I know that speaks as eloquently as Juno did in the movie (and I was a high school Spanish teacher for a couple of years, so I know how teenagers converse). But, as the movie went on and as I have thought about it over the past day or so, I realized that this was actually one of the things that made her character seem realistic. Juno is not your ordinary teenage girl; she's intelligent, thoughtful, and so cool, so I felt like the dialogue suited her.

I also thought the movie was HEARTBREAKING. Sure, it was funny and very witty. In fact, I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud so many times during a movie. However, there were a couple of parts in the movie where I actually had to bite the inside of my lower lip to keep myself from sobbing out loud. There is one part in which Jennifer Garner's character (Vanessa) runs into Juno at the mall and Juno invites her to touch her belly to feel the baby kick. Vanessa feels in vain for a few minutes and decides, disappointed, that the baby isn't going to respond to her, but then it happens...she feels the kick, and kneels down to talk to the baby in Juno's belly. As others in the theater snickered during this scene, I wept. No one but a mother knows the true desperation of wanting to feel your child respond to you, and no one but a mother knows the beauty of feeling that actually happen.

Ok, if you didn't see the movie and/or haven't heard what happens at the end, you might not want to read on. I think most people by now have heard how things end up, though.

The final part of the movie was probably the most heartbreaking for me. From the time Juno decided to give her baby up for adoption, it seemed as though she didn't have a single doubt in her mind. I just couldn't fathom this, but then again, I'm not a teenager who is in no way ready to raise a child and who wants to help someone who can't have a child of their own. In a way, what Juno did for Vanessa was beautiful and selfless. But, after having a child myself and knowing how the bond between mother and child forms so quickly and so permanently, I just couldn't imagine saying goodbye to my baby. My heart just tore in two as the final scenes of the movie played out, with Juno leaving the hospital without her baby and going on back to her old life, seemingly as if nothing had happened. As the other movie goers filed out of the theater, chatting about how funny the movie was, I sat in my seat, trying to pull myself together. Even thinking about the movie, two days later, I still find myself welling up.

Do I think Juno made the right decision? I'm not sure. Certainly, she did an admirable thing by giving her child to someone who really wanted one and was not able to have one on her own. But, if I let my imagination wander for a moment, I wonder if in fifteen years Juno would wish she hadn't given up her baby. It's hard to say.

Needless to say, I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone, even dudes, because my hubby liked it very much as well (although probably for different reasons than I did). It's complex, well-written, and thought-provoking. And, as I said, it has a kick-ass soundtrack.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Good Stuff

Even though it's so cold outside today that the snot inside my nose immediately freezes upon hitting the frigid air and I have taken to laying my jacket, stocking cap, and scarf in the sun for a while so they can warm up before I put them on, I have some warm feelings going on inside. Good stuff is afoot...

Good Thing the First: Had a job interview today. Actually, it was my second interview with this company (had a phone interview earlier this week), and I think it went really well. The company I interviewed with is an HR outsourcing company, and I interviewed for a recruiting position. Money seems good, people seem nice, and it would be a steady, reliable paycheck, which is extra good, since I am sitting here once again today without a single interpreting assignment.

Good Thing the Second: This weekend, the hubby and I are treating ourselves to a mini-romantic getaway at a bed and breakfast near Madison and damn, a whirlpool suite and breakfast in bed sounds like just what the doctor ordered. My family pitched in and bought Aaron and I a gift card for this bed and breakfast as a wedding gift, so this weekend we're gonna use it. And, while in the Madison area, we're planning to take a tour of the Wollersheim Winery and certainly pick up a few bottles of wine as souvenirs.

Good Thing the Third: One of Aaron's Christmas gifts to me was two tickets to see one of my favorite bands, the Editors, in concert here in Milwaukee. That concert is coming up on Sunday, so Aaron and I are rolling it into our weekend-long "just us" extravaganza. Wa-hoo! Or, as Aaron would say, "Yay, music!"

Good Thing the Fourth: Grace seems to be really finding her place here in Milwaukee. We went through a rough patch, after moving down here, when she really seemed to miss her grandpa and grandma and auntie in Oshkosh, not to mention our old apartment and her old school. However, lately, she just seems so happy, and very comfortable with our new lives here. In fact, the other night, she told Aaron and me that she likes living in "the Milwaukee" and wants to stay here. Music to my ears.

Good Thing the Fifth: Plans for our reception in April are finally coming together. Last night we decided on a final menu for the dinner, and we are just about decided on a DJ. The only things left to do now are write the checks and drop some weight so we can both fit back into the clothes we wore for our wedding!

Good Thing the Sixth: I was sitting here typing this, the company I interviewed with this morning called and offered me the recruiting job. Offer letter is being emailed to me as I type this. Looks like Aaron and I have some talking to do this weekend, too!

Hooray for things looking up!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


This comes as a shock to me...I have recently been the subject of a bumpwatch...Britney, watch out.

This morning when I dropped Grace off at day care, one of the teachers pulled me aside gently and whispered to me while smiling broadly, "Are you pregnant?"

At this point, I pulled a Dr. John Dorian (Zach Braff in Scrubs), tilting my head, looking off into the distance, and participating in an internal monologue that went something like this:

Huh? Pregnant? What the hell? I know I gained a few pounds over the holidays, but geez, I didn't think I looked THAT big! Ugh, Aaron is wrong--I am a fat ass!!! Fat ass, fat ass, FAT ASS!!! I knew these pants looked too small on me, but I thought the jacket would have masked the belly. I can't believe she thinks I am pregnant!!! I thought I was looking a little thinner! I have been eating way less than before! Ugh! I am destined to a life of being overweight!

It's one thing to be asked if you're pregnant when you ACTUALLY ARE, but when you're not, it can be a bit of a blow. When I finally recovered, I smiled as sweetly as I could and said, "Nope, not pregnant." I hoped my smile and polite demeanor didn't reveal the anguish and horror I was feeling inside. I then intended to slink away as quietly as possible and therefore drop the subject forever. And then maybe go and cry in my car.

As I was leaving, the teacher stopped me and said, "The only reason I ask is because Grace keeps saying, 'My mama has a baby in her tummy.' The other teachers and I have been trying to look at you to see if you look pregnant, but I figured I would just ask you."

Ooooooohhhhhhhh. Sweet relief. But then again, huh?

I racked my brain to try and figure out where Grace could have possibly come up with the notion that I had a baby growing in my belly. It's not exactly a supper table conversation topic for us. The only time I think I have ever mentioned anything to Grace about having a baby in my tummy was when I explained to her where she came from (the basics, anyway).

Then it hit me...ELMO. On one of Grace's Elmo videos, titled "Elmo Visits the Doctor", there is a short blurb featuring a young kid who accompanies his pregnant mom to the doctor for one of her prenatal checks. Even though it has seriously been weeks since Grace has watched this video, I'm pretty sure that this is where she got the idea from. Grace has a knack for, without any sort of provocation, pulling an idea or a memory out of her head about something that could have happened weeks or months ago. She still remembers even the tiniest details about our trip to Disney, and that was back in October. The kid has a great memory.

I intend to ask Grace about this tonight to try and find out if my Elmo theory is correct or not. In the meantime, I'm gonna chuckle at the thought of Grace's day care teachers eying my belly and wondering, "Is she? Isn't she?"

Friday, January 18, 2008

Back to the Drawing Board

And the job woes continue...

BIG sigh...

Most of y'all know that I started at my medical interpreting job back in November after bouncing between jobs a bit over the past year and a half or so. I was totally stoked about this job...the pay was considerably higher than what I had been receiving at previous jobs, even though I only get paid for the hours I actually spend interpreting. I would be using my Spanish skills while helping those that really need it. I would be able to choose my hours, so I could work as much or as little as I liked (and I was assured that doing this full time was not only possible, but encouraged). I could take random days off (unpaid, of course) if Grace was sick or to go on vacation. It sounded like this was going to be a perfect job--pays well, flexible, rewarding and all that happy stuff. I could hardly believe it.

I should have learned a very important lesson by this point in my life. If something looks and sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Things started out well with this interpreting gig. I was indeed working full time (or darn close to it) and was earning more than I ever have in the past. I was given a large list of appointments each day that I could select from, and I picked the appointments that fit best into my day while generally packing as many into the 8am-5pm slot as I possibly could. And, naturally, I was really, truly enjoying my work. Helping people who need it and who are, for the most part, extremely grateful for the help is extremely gratifying to me. Things continued like this for a good month or so.

Then, out of the clear blue sky (and right before Christmas), I got a call from our payroll person at the office, asking me what my agreed-upon pay rate was. I gave her the info (while feeling a little concerned that she didn't have this written down somewhere) and she told me that the pay rate I was quoted by the manager was wrong. In fact, I was getting paid FIVE DOLLARS AN HOUR more than I was supposed to be, so they were going to have to knock my pay rate down to where it should have been all along.

Huh? Can you just DO that? I never signed an official contract or anything, so I suppose anything goes, right? Despite this snafu, I was still quite optimistic about the job. Theoretically, my earnings would still be higher than they have been in the past, as long as the workload kept up.

But the workload hasn't kept up. Since New Year's, things have slowed down drastically. In fact, there have been four days in the past two weeks in which I did not have one single appointment. For the life of me, I can't figure out why things have gotten so slow so suddenly. It's not like there has been a miracle drug introduced into the market that eliminates all illnesses in Spanish-speaking people. Health care isn't like other fields...there isn't a "slow period". People are always sick. So, what the hell?

It's gotten to the point now where my finances are stretched to the max. I need to keep Grace in day care full time because, lately, I don't know if I will have appointments or not on any given day. The office sometimes calls me the night before with the next day's appointments, and sometimes they call me the same day. The problem is, other than not allowing me to plan my days, if I don't end up working at all for a whole day, I just paid for a whole day of day care without making a cent. And day care ain't cheap...we pay $700 a month, and our center is on the lower end of the cost scale. And then there's gas, groceries, and other essentials to buy. And there's all of the other unexpected stuff that pops up when there is a young child in your life.

So, here I am again, weighing my job options. Interpreting jobs here in Milwaukee are actually less abundant than one would think, unless one wants to work second or third shift or on the weekends. I could probably be a stay-at-home mom, but then again I don't want to put all of the earning pressure on Aaron, especially since we just paid for a wedding in Florida and are planning a reception in April. And, Grace LOVES being in day care. I don't want to take that from her. I could go back into recruiting, but that seems like it would be a step backwards. All that I do know for sure is that things can't continue as they are. The financial strain is too great.

Of course, there are a couple of careers that I would really LOVE to pursue, but I would have to go back to school to be able to do any of them. That's not really an option right now, since Aaron and I want to have another baby in the near future and for us, that takes a higher priority than me continuing my education. And, yes, I know that plenty of women go to college while pregnant or with little ones, but I guess I don't want to have all of that stuff happening at once if I don't have to.

I might just have to settle, for the time being, with doing something I don't necessarily love but that is at least bringing money into the household. I probably shouldn't put that as a career objective on my resume.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Inside the Mind of a Three-Year-Old

This morning, as Grace and I were leaving the house to go to daycare, we took a moment to admire the beautiful pink and blue sunrise. Little did I know this was going to lead to a deep theological discussion:

Grace: Who makes the sunrise?

Me (wondering how I could explain the manner in which the rising sun reflects on the clouds): Ummm...

Grace: God makes the sky, Mama. He lives there.

Me: Oh, ok.

Grace: Mama, does God have wings? Like an angel?

Me: Uh, I'm not sure. I don't think anyone knows what God looks like.

Grace: He has wings. Otherwise he couldn't stay up in the sky.

Clearly, I have much to learn.

Then, this afternoon when I picked up Grace, I noticed that she was wearing a different pair of pants than the ones she was wearing when I dropped her off, so I suspected that she had had an accident during the day. Her teacher confirmed my suspicions, but this was no ordinary, couldn't-get-the-pants-down-fast-enough accident. Grace had pulled her pants down, lifted her shirt, and peed right in the middle of the floor. (Unfortunately, one of her classmate's jackets was within range and suffered because of it.) She has never done anything like this in the past, and has so few accidents in general that I was a little concerned and asked her about it this evening:

Me: Grace, how come you went potty on the floor at school?

Grace: Because.

Me: Because why?

Grace: Because you let me go potty at swimming lessons.

Argh. Last night in the middle of swimming class, Grace got an unmistakable "gotta pee RIGHT NOW" look on her face and that face was immediately replaced with one that said "oops, I just peed". I decided not to get too upset about it because

1.) the water temperature in the kids' pool is like 88 degrees, and that's enough to make even those with a bladder of steel have to pee


2.) there is so much freaking chlorine in the pool that my skin still reeks of it two days (and a couple of showers) after getting out of the pool, so I figured a little bit of Gracie pee added to the mix wasn't a huge deal.

So, it would appear that by not freaking out about this little accident at swim class, I (mistakenly) gave Grace the impression that it's ok to just drop trou and go wherever. Again, clearly I have much to learn.

So, for those of you keeping track, the score for today is...

Grace: 2
Mama: 0

P.S. To Future Grace...if you read this, I apologize for relating an undoubtedly embarrassing story about you and potty. Sometimes I just can't help myself.

Update: Just to further illustrate how much freaking chlorine there is in the kiddy pool at our YMCA, I will relate this tale. I washed my swimsuit today, and as I was folding it, something looked odd to me. Turns out that the two purple stripes that run down the sides of the suit are no longer purple...they are kind of a taupe-ish color, with tiny little streaks of purple still clinging on up near the waist band. The chlorine in the pool stripped the purple out of my swimsuit!! Grace's pink "Hello Kitty" suit is looking a little less pink, as well. No wonder Grace and I both have horrible, itchy dry skin after swim class.

That is all.

Monday, January 14, 2008


She's darn cute, you gotta admit. (The picture doesn't do her justice...taken with my cell phone, so not the greatest quality.) And, other than saying, "The floor looks funny," so far Grace has no complaints about the glasses. Yippee!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

School Tours

It's open enrollment time for elementary schools here in Milwaukee! After making the decision that yes, we are going to enroll Grace in a K4 program rather than keep her in day care another year, we thought the prudent thing would be to go and check out some of the elementary schools in the area. We can chose up to three schools that we would like Grace to attend, and luckily, there are three schools that are within a mile or so of our house and I toured all three in the last couple of days. Here are my findings:

Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities-

We toured this school last night as part of a district-wide open house that was taking place, and we were warmly greeted as we entered the school. Turns out that the woman who greeted us was the school's K4 teacher, and so our tour began with a look at the K4 classroom. I was immediately struck by how large it was and how the room was appealing to the senses without being overwhelming. There were separate "work" and "play" areas and the room had a sliding wall that opened into the K5 classroom, and Grace was immediately taken with the variety of toys and other fun stuff that was at her disposal. The teacher walked me through a typical day in the K4 room, which includes at least one "special" (art, music, phy ed) per day along with a mandated sixty minutes per day of Math instruction and ninety minutes per day of Language Arts/Reading instruction. At first I thought that seemed a bit excessive...I mean, they are four-year-olds, for Pete's sake, but then the teacher explained to me that a lot of this instruction is done through creative play, so the kids don't even really realize they are being taught. I asked if any Foreign Language instruction was integrated into the curriculum, and unfortunately it is not, although small snippets are taught. Also, kids in this K4 room don't get a nap time, which may or may not be an issue for Grace come September.

We toured the rest of the school and found out that this particular school goes up to eighth grade. Aaron and I were both very pleased with the look and feel of the school and we both liked the sound of the way that things are run. Obviously, the school focuses on an arts and humanities curriculum, so they are taught not only what people do and what they think, but also how they express themselves. Students are encouraged to begin playing a musical instrument in first grade. They participate in programs with the Milwaukee Art Museum. They can take piano lessons right at the school. They take field trips, once a week, to the Milwaukee Public Library. The biggest thing, curriculum-wise, that I liked is that they integrate their school-wide themes (they have three per year) into each curriculum so students can learn how things fit together, rather than having fragmented themes that don't mesh.

This is a smaller school, with an enrollment of approximately 250 kids from K4 to eighth grade. Class sizes are small--the K4 class has twenty kids this year and they expect the same next year. This is also classified as a Citywide Specialty School, which means that they accept kids from all over Milwaukee, but give enrollment preference to kids that live within a mile of the school (which would be us--we are less than a block from Tippecanoe).

At the end of our tour, we met the principal, who was very eager to answer any and all of our questions. She seemed warm and personable yet professional and knowledgeable. She reinforced a lot of the information that our tour guide provided us, and invited us to come back during a normal school day to see students and teachers. She directed us into the office to pick up an enrollment packet and after having some more questions answered by the friendly office staff, we left with a great impression of the school and of the staff members that we met.

Whittier Elementary School-

This description is going to be much shorter, for reasons that will quickly become obvious. We also toured this school last night as part of the district-wide open house and in all fairness I will say that I was so taken with Tippecanoe that already I had a bias against Whittier. So, I didn't go into the tour with the most open of minds.

That said, there really wasn't a tour at all. No one greeted us as we walked into a school. Really, the only thing directing us at all was a sign on a table asking us to sign the Visitor's Log, and from that point on, we were on our own. We managed to find the K4 room by listening to some of the other parents that were touring (none of the rooms were marked well) and I was relieved to see that the K4 teacher was actually in the room when we got there. She addressed a group of about six of us parents, telling us about a typical day in the K4 room but she went through it so quickly that I found myself having more questions at the end than I started with. I did manage to find out that the kids' days are split in half, with the morning focused on academics and the afternoon focusing on play time. A nap is included in each day, right after lunch time. Beyond that, the information was lacking. And, when I asked about Foreign Language, the teacher gave me a smirk and reminded me that there are bilingual schools within MPS that Grace could attend. I half apologized to her for the question, telling her that I am bilingual and that exposing my child to foreign languages is important to me, to which she replied, "You should teach her at home, then." AAAAAAALLLLL righty then.

After visiting the K4 room, we wandered around the rest of the school and made our way to the office, where I asked the secretary if they had any literature about the school that I could take home. She said no but that she could give me a student handbook instead. Not quite what I was looking for, but better than nothing I suppose. We left the school then, because there was nothing else for us to discover. There were no teachers roaming the halls to answer our questions, and certainly no administrator could be found, either.

We were not impressed at all with Whittier. I would think that if you knew you were going to have people coming through your workplace you would make an effort to put your best out there. That certainly was not the case with this school. It was enough to make me strongly consider keeping Grace in day care another year if we don't get our first (or second) school choice.

A.E. Burdick Elementary School-

Burdick was the last of the three schools that I toured, and I decided to tour it partly just because Burdick is our Neighborhood School, meaning that if we want Grace to go there, she goes there pretty much automatically. I toured the school today, so there was no open house going on and I had the advantage of observing a typical school day. I was pretty sure at this point that nothing would sway me from making Tippecanoe our first choice, but Burdick proved me wrong.

My tour was guided by the Tech Ed teacher, who has been at Burdick since 1989. He was very proud of the fact that most of the staff at Burdick has been there for five years or more, and this low turnover rate certainly sounded good to me. He began our tour by handing me a pile of literature about the school and made sure I had an enrollment form and knew how to fill it out. He then gave me a rundown of the school's history and explained how the school is structured. Like Tippecanoe, this is a K-8 school, so Grace could attend all the way through Middle School if we wanted.

Like Tippecanoe, Burdick has a very warm, inviting atmosphere. Each teacher I encountered greeted me warmly and introduced me to their class. (The lovely music teacher even exclaimed, "Look at the pretty, young Mommy!" Nice touch.) All of the classrooms are large and class sizes were reasonable (around twenty-five kids each). Enrollment is around 500 students. The curriculum overall is much more meat-and-potatoes than Tippecanoe...the focus is on the core subjects, but there is also a large emphasis on technology and music. I was surprised to see a row of computers in both of the K4 rooms, and by eighth grade, each student has his or her own computer. The school also places a high value on parental involvement, and I met several parent volunteers throughout the tour.

The one thing Burdick has that Tippecanoe doesn't is controlled access. No one can come into the building without being let in by the office and there are security cameras at each entrance into the school. The office staff monitors outside activity that is picked up on the cameras on TV's in the office. It's not a sketchy neighborhood by any stretch, but there is a certain peace of mind knowing that not just anyone is allowed into the school.

There are two K4 classrooms at Burdick, both structured the same way. K4 students get a 45-minute nap every afternoon at Burdick. Like Whittier's, Burdick's K4 classes focus on academics in the morning and then creative play in the afternoon, but there aren't any exceedingly high expectations in place. The K4 teacher I met with stressed to me that kids in her room are allowed to learn at their own pace and receive plenty of one-on-one instruction if need be. She explained that each child has his or her own learning style, and that she attempts to each to each of those different styles. She also told me that she focuses a lot on the social skills kids need to develop as they move into Kindergarten. Finally, she stressed that these kids are pretty little yet, so they receive all of the attention and nurturing that they need, while learning in a fun and creative way.

At the end of my tour, I met the principal, who at first glance was a little too coiffed and stiff for my liking, but was very nice nonetheless. He invited me to come back and bring Aaron and Grace anytime and told me to call him with any questions. He asked me lots of questions about Grace and told me he was looking forward to seeing her in the fall. Then the secretary made sure I knew how to fill out the enrollment form, gave me a handy checklist with the things I need to bring in to enroll Grace, and bid me adieu.

So, I'm torn between Tippecanoe and Burdick. They are both so different that it is hard to say that one is better than the other. If I had to choose right now, I could pick Tippecanoe over Burdick just because I really liked their arts and humanities emphasis, but honestly, I think I would be happy with Grace attending either school. I think I'll leave Whittier off my list altogether.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Far Sighted

Today, after a couple of months of noticing how Gracie seems to cross her eyes when looking at anything up close, like when she is eating or coloring, I took her in to see an ophthalmologist who immediately confirmed my suspicions...Grace is having trouble seeing things up close, and will need glasses to correct the problem and help her be able to read and see up close, and to ensure that she doesn't hurt her vision further by continuing to cross her eyes.


I'm not sure why this is bothering me so much. Every time I think of my three-year-old wearing glasses, tears come rushing to my eyes. Grace, for her part, found a very cute pair of pink glasses that she cannot WAIT to be able to wear once her lenses are delivered. She is calling them her "special glasses" and when she told her teacher at day care today that she was going to be getting glasses, she positively beamed with excitement. (It helped that her teacher energetically and very positively yelled, "Glasses?!? I have glasses!! This is so exciting!" I could have kissed her.)

Still, I can't help but sit here and cry, stupidly, thinking about it. Why am I so upset about this? I was thinking about it today as I watched a baby that was on a ventilator being wheeled into an elevator at the hospital where I work, and I thought to myself, "Get a freaking grip, Sara. It's glasses. Things could be so much worse."

I've been chatting online with Aaron about this and asked him that same question:

Sara says:
why am i so upset about this?
Aaron says:
because you feel like it is your fault
Aaron says:
that you let your child down somehow
Aaron says:
and you can't make it better for her

Ah usual, the man has more insight into my psyche than I do. It's great to be married to someone who understands.

I think part of it, too, is the fact that I was teased incessantly by peers when I got my classes in second grade. I don't want Grace to have to endure being called "four eyes" or a "dork", although there are much worse things to be called. And, at least she didn't inherit my red hair, so she won't have to be called "carrot top" for her entire childhood.

But, this isn't about me and I am angry at myself that I am upset. Grace is acting wonderfully about this...maybe it's time for me to model some of her behavior.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

My Little Fish

Well, tonight was Grace's first night of swimming lessons, and she loves them so much that she wants to marry them. I enrolled her in a parent/child class since this is her first time, and I can already tell that she's only gonna need one session of classes with me before she is more than ready to try them on her own. She happily joined in as class started and the teacher began to sing, "Look Who's Come to Swim Class" (which is a name game in which each kid gets to scream out their name when the teacher points to them).

The first "real" thing the teacher wanted each child to do was to close their eyes and their mouth and bob under the water. Fearlessly, Grace glanced at me, closed her eyes and her mouth, and quickly disappeared under the water while I frantically reached for her to pull her up. As I was reaching for her, she resurfaced, spit out some water she had swallowed, and laughed her head off. She did this a few more times, and soon she was following the teacher around the pool, hanging on to her swimming noodle and kicking her legs out behind her. She learned to (kind of) use her arms to propel herself forward and at the end of class, she showed her bravery again by jumping off the side of the pool and into my arms, giggling the whole way.

All in all, I think swimming lessons are going to go, well, swimmingly. The only problems we had occurred when it was time to get out of the pool (some rather ruffled-looking elderly ladies were waiting for their water aerobics class) and Grace decided she didn't want to leave just yet. I coaxed her out by promising her that we would be coming back next week, to which Grace replied, "Ok, Mama, but I don't want to listen to the teacher. I wanna do my own thing." She's a rebel already.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


A conversation, ten minutes ago on my couch:

Me (to Grace): Hey, can I have one of your Cheetos, please?

Grace: A big one or a little one?

Me: A big one please!

Grace: Ok, Mama, but be careful...they're really cheesy.

Me (to myself): Yep, that's the whole point kiddo.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Getting Organized

Ok, I have a confession to make. I am a bit of a neat freak. I am a firm believer in the notion that everything should have its own little home, and as soon as things are finished serving their purpose, they ought to be returned to their home. I think I have always been this way, but the first time I remember realizing that I place a high value on neatness and orderliness was when I went off to college and had to live with a complete stranger who was also a complete slob. Let's just say that the arrangement didn't go well for either of us.

(A side note: Oddly, this impulse to keep things neat and orderly does not extend to my car. My car is a perpetual mess--Aaron loves to marvel at how I am so anal about the house yet have a really messy car. My dad affectionately refers to it as "The Camper" because it has enough stuff piled in it that he thinks we could probably live in there. At times, it seems that I ought to petition the government for some disaster relief to clean it up.)

Naturally, having a child has forced me to relax my standards of neatness a bit. I read a quote once that said something like, "Cleaning up after a child is like trying to dust in a windstorm." How true. I've given up trying to clean up while Grace is awake or at home. I usually just attempt to do laundry or dishes when the little one is around. I must say, though, that Gracie has gotten pretty darn good at picking up after herself when I ask her to. A lovely development, that.

Living with Aaron has forced me to relax my standards a bit as well. He has lived on his own for years and is used to living the way he wants to, and if that means leaving folded laundry on the living room floor for a week, then so be it. (If I, on the other hand, don't put laundry away on the day it's done, I go berserk.) Ah's great fun reconciling those huge differences.

Anyway, this week I have decided to tackle the daunting task of finding new homes all of our new Christmas gifts. Grace got an abundance of new (and large) toys this year and Aaron and I made pretty decent hauls ourselves. Figuring out how to cram this extra stuff into a house that is already bursting at the seams has not been easy. We have a great house but it is seriously deficient in storage space. We have four closets in the whole house (five if I count the pantry) and those closets are all pretty small. Aaron and Grace have to share a closet upstairs while I have another (mostly) to myself, and the other two closets are full enough that I wouldn't want to try to pack anything else into them. Simply put, we have far too much stuff and not enough room for it all. And, to top it off, our spacious basement is still full of boxes that I have yet to unpack from my move to Milwaukee in August. I think I haven't bothered to unpack them because I have no clue what to do with all of the stuff and frankly, if I haven't needed this stuff since August, I'm wondering if I need it at all. Knowing that there is so much disorganization in the house has been stressing me out.

After removing all of our gifts from their packaging (which was a task in itself), I set out in search for places to put the new stuff. Three days later, I am finally finished. It came down to me versus a stack of three sweaters that I got as gifts...I had absolutely no more room in my closet for even one more sweater, so I rolled up my sleeves, dumped out my dresser drawers, and forced myself to purge clothes until it hurt. At the end, I had several paper grocery bags full of stuff ready to take to the thrift store and plenty of space for my new sweaters.

This left me feeling inspired and so I'm adding another resolution to my New Year's list. I will get this house organized and under control and, since I hear a resolution won't work out unless there is a goal date attached to it, I will accomplish this by my birthday, which is March 1. (Ok, I didn't arbitrarily pick my b-day...we are planning a party for that day and I know I can force myself to do this if I know we're gonna be having guests.) I find myself feeling incredibly excited--yes, excited--at the idea of rifling through Grace's and Aaron's clothes and through Grace's toys and being able to give away enough stuff to actually have room what's left over. My local Value Village will soon have an influx of new inventory straight from our house.

Maybe next I will tackle our shoe storage program...we have a back entry way with beautiful wainscoting that Aaron painstakingly cut and hung by himself last year, and it's littered with our shoes. It's a sad state of affairs.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

To Sleep or Not To Sleep??

Note: If you are not even remotely interested in hearing about a preschooler's sleep habits, you probably don't want to read this entry. On the other hand, if you are interested or perhaps have experience in this area, read on and send along any thoughts you might have.

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know by now that I am a believer in co-sleeping. Grace and I co-slept for quite a while when I was single, and even when she moved into her own bed, her bed stayed in my bedroom. I sincerely enjoyed co-sleeping, especially since I have worked full time since Grace was six weeks old--spending that extra time with her at night really helped me (and hopefully, Grace) feel like we were able to reconnect after spending almost all day apart. I found it valuable to be able to be "right there" for Grace if she woke up in the middle of the night if she needed something and hopefully that helped her feel more secure. And, since it was just the two of us, co-sleeping just made sense.

When Grace and I moved to Milwaukee and in with Aar, I decided to try and make the transition from having Grace sleeping in her own bed in my room to having her sleep in her own bed in her own room. Grace's bedroom is right across the hall from our room so I felt that I would still be able to respond quickly to Grace at night if she needed me, and I hoped that being so close to Aaron and me would still help Grace feel secure. Surprisingly (to me, at least), this arrangement seemed to work out...for a short time. About a month or so after we moved to Milwaukee, I went back to work, and soon after that we started to have problems with our new sleeping arrangement.

First I started having loads of trouble getting Grace to sleep at night. I would lay her down in bed and stay with her for a few minutes, and then she would scream when I tried to leave her room. I have never been a big fan of the whole "crying it out" school of thought, so I would generally stay with her until she was fast asleep. Sometimes I would spend up to an hour or more with her, which started to stress me out, because I wasn't getting my much-needed "me time" at night.

Then, Grace began waking up several times each night. She would come into our room and cry for me to come and sleep with her. More often than not I gave in out of sheer exhaustion so I ended up spending more time in bed with my daughter than I did with Aaron. This wasn't a good situation, either, because I felt like torn between spending my sleeping hours with Grace and spending them with Aaron. I was a walking zombie during the day because I never got more than an hour or two of uninterrupted sleep at night. And, clearly Grace wasn't feeling secure if she needed to have me with her at night.

Finally, Grace began to climb into bed with Aaron and me every night. We have a queen-sized bed, and the three of us crammed into this bed was a less-than-ideal arrangement. None of us slept very well and because of that, bedtime was becoming something that I dreaded every night. I went so far as to try to put Grace to sleep in our bed and then move her into her bed after she fell asleep, but inevitably, she would wind up with us within an hour or two.

My sense was that this downward spiral was caused my all of the changes that were taking place in Grace's life. I knew that Grace had to deal with a big transition in a short period of time--we moved to a new city and to a new house, she left a daycare she liked and started at a new center with a whole new set of kids, and she had to adapt to living with someone other than just her mommy. It was a big transition for all of us!

I talked to my mom at length about this and did tons of research, and finally Aaron and I decided to allow Grace to sleep in our bedroom, but on a separate mattress. She resisted for a couple of nights and tried to climb into bed with us during the night, but I was firm in telling her that she needed to stay in her own bed while reassuring her that I was right next to her if she needed me. After a week or so, the night time protests stopped and Grace (and Aaron and I) started sleeping through the night without fail. This was about two months or so ago, and things are still going well. Grace is in her own bed in our bedroom, and she very rarely wakes up at night. She goes to bed at night with little fanfare and doesn't ask to come into our bed anymore. Everyone is sleeping, and Grace is going to bed early enough that Aaron and I get to have some time to ourselves before hitting the hay.

So, what's the problem?

The problem is, Aaron and I are getting outside pressure to change this situation. We never intended for this arrangement to be permanent...we know that eventually Grace will need to sleep in her own room. However, I don't see the value in rushing things. Others, who will remain nameless, have taken every opportunity they can to remind us that what we are doing is wrong and that we need to change things immediately or we will cause permanent damage to Grace. They site examples of people they know whose school-age kids are still sleeping with their parents or at least in their parents' room and who are clearly maladjusted in some way because of it. They remind us that it will be difficult to conceive another child with Grace sleeping in our bedroom.

Hmmm...could it be that these other kids are having issues for reasons other than their sleeping arrangements? And, there are plenty of other rooms in the house other than the bedroom that can serve nicely as a love chamber. Trust me.

As I said, I don't see the value in rushing things. Aaron, bless his heart, has been nothing but supportive in my efforts to help us all get the sleep we need, but I can tell he is starting to feel the pressure others are applying. My biggest fear is that we will try to put Grace back in her room before she is ready, and we will end up making things worse again. When I try to talk to Grace privately about sleeping in her room, she says she will but that Mommy will sleep there too. When I correct her, she says she doesn't want to sleep in her room. This tells me that putting her in her own room is gonna lead us right back to the sleepless nights and the frustration. She is only three years old and I feel like if she needs Aaron and I around right now to help her feel secure, then we can indulge her for the time being. And, frankly, I don't see how any damage is being done here. Grace is a well-adjusted kid who is getting adequate rest and is thriving. I don't understand how allowing this, for the time being, is a bad thing. I know the time will come when she will have to be in her own room...I just don't see why it has to be RIGHT NOW.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe Grace would surprise me and would not have a problem moving into her room now. Maybe I am spoiling her. Maybe I am making things harder for myself by putting this off and by not forcing things. As my father-in-law likes to tell me, parenting is hard--kids don't come with instruction manuals. I am just doing what feels right and what is working for our family right now. What works for our family might not work for another and vice versa. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.