Putting it back on the shelf

Lately, I have a problem reading. Not like an eyesight problem or a cognitive issue. No, I have been experiencing some emotional problems. I cannot seem to read anything now without having a complete and total breakdown if there is any mention of:

  • babies
  • babies in distress
  • divorce
  • babies/children getting screwed in divorce
  • children that are sad

OK, kind of a lame list but the fact is, I am too emotionally tied up in anything having to do with families and babies/kids that even fictional accounts affect me entirely too much. I am 28 pages into The Unbearable Lightness of Being and I am already feeling it weighing me down with the subject matter.

Used to be I could read a book, get really into it, but still stay outside it enough not to feel anything. Does this make sense? It’s as if now, I am becoming one with the plots and the characters, not just observing their lives as any other reader. Perhaps, for some people, this is the draw of reading. This is what they want out of a book: to be completely entranced by it. For me,  I cannot separate myself and it is making me feel awfully sad.

Musings

I have felt… less than self aware lately. Possibly after the Great Poison Ivy Debacle of ’08 I really had hit rock bottom. It sucked the life out of the Smith household and we’ve struggled to recover. Though, we’ve been doing a fairly good job. Day to day life is good. Crazy, stressful and rushed, but good. We have our ups and downs but doesn’t everyone? Last night, Ash was feeling sort of sad because he’s reading this book where the main character goes through some really horrible stuff but regardless, the author endears you to the characters so much that it has really gone to Ash’s head. It is subconsciously depressing him. (Much like the way Prep did for me, though no one was tortured in that book.) Anyway, Ash asked me what my one goal was right now.

And I had to really think. I don’t know if there is ONE thing I am focused on right now. I told him being a good mom/wife, probably because it’s my number one priority. But he wondered why I didn’t have one main thing I was working towards so that once I attained it, I could choose another and begin again. He says he guesses it’s a male thing to do this but I am guessing it’s an individual thing. I am sure a lot of people find that they work best when their to-do list has but one item on it. Then once that is crossed off, they start a new list, item one. I do this at work sometimes but in my home life, there’s just too many side dishes on the plate to have a main course all by itself.

With that said, I used to have “becoming a teacher” nestled right up under “mom/wife”. It was so close that they were almost tied for first. But as this recession has taken hold and Leon county’s education budget has plumetted (Thanks, Crist), I have fallen further and further away from that goal. In fact, I hardly even think that I want to teach anymore. Sure, I still am. Out of the kindness of my boss’s heart, she lets me teach one of our department’s online classes. It sort of goes under the radar for the most part. The higher ups barely know I do it. And I plug away and glide along, doing the same old same old. And I get paid. But I don’t think I even enjoy it anymore. I find myself reluctant to even go to my class’s site and update, though I know I HAVE to. It isn’t a choice; it’s my job. And I owe it to these kids. But there’s definitely a lack of drive to care.

I still browse the Leon County Schools website and apply to English teacher jobs that pop up. But I think my friend, B, said it best when she told me that all her friend who teach high school got the job by either knowing someone or by being a substitute teacher. I cannot be a sub because I work full-time and the only other person I knew who was teaching high school here a.) taught at a school I am less than thrilled to even apply to and b.) is now in prison. SO, might as well hand me the red marker now and I will cross off that #2 on my list.

It’s tough now with a toddler (OMG did you know he’s a toddler? He’s actually 13 months TODAY) and the holidays upcoming, Ash’s next baby plan in full swing (he wants to Begin Again after Christmas), and just all the STUFF that goes along with being a parent and a home owner and a full time employee. I know this sounds a lot like whining (someone call the Wahmbulance) but I am full up, overworked, tired, and in need of a vacation.

Oh wait, we leave for Chicago in 10 days. That’s right pity me, I mean, envy me.

I’m hoping this vacaction is just what the doctor ordered.

What’s on your big to-do list? Just one thing or several?

Monday Monday, comes around again

I I know you’re still out there, reading. And that’s why I keep writing. Even though I feel like maybe this is all for not. I’ll keep doing it… for you.

ANYway, the weekend wasn’t as good as, I suppose, it possibly could have been but for the most part, I enjoyed it. The highlights:

  • Saturday afternoon, Elliot and I went to the mall where I got a coat for Chicago and some new Fall tarts from Yankee candle. I burned one in the late afternoon, with the windows open.
  • Sunday morning we went to Jenny’s for breakfast and sat outside.
  • We then went to the park where Elliot had a blast.
  • Football sucked – I chose Denver in a league in which I wagered $$. Denver, bite me.
  • I am on day 8 of 30 Day Shred and I am already feeling a difference in my muscle tone.

I got a bit of reading done and I do believe I caught part of the debate, though it bored me to tears. I was more interested in that little “interest tracker” at the bottom of the screen. Soon as McCain began speaking, it dipped immensly. Yeah, that’s about as much interest as I have in this entire thing.  I’m voting; I know who I am voting for. I have read just enough to know why I have chosen the right candidate for me. Beyond that, politcal debates, be it on TV between runners or between people I know with opposing views just suck the life right out of me. I don’t have it in me to argue or even talk about the issues. It’s not that I don’t care; it’s that there’s never a happy ending or solution.

And that’s what I have to say about the presidential election.

Weather is a bit warmer today but it was still cool at night and this morning.

And that’s al I have for you today.

Visions from the past OR what I call my Friday blog entry

When I was 11, we went to Western New York. My mom’s side of the family owns a house, named Hungry Hollow, way out in the rural mountains and hills. It’s near Salamanca and Killbuck and Great Valley. The house itself is over one hundred years old and originally only had a kitchen, one room downstairs, a cellar, and two rooms crammed into the upstairs, under a very steeply slanted roof. My grandfather’s kin added onto it a dining room with a long table made out of chestnut, before all the chestnut trees got the blight. In that room was a piano and a curio cabinet in which there sat a bunch if different small animal skulls, like a gray fox and a chipmunk. Off the dining room was a large open living room with mismatched old furniture that was so saggy that it ate you when you sat. Off of there, they had installed a bathroom, mudroom, one more bedroom and another small bathroom where the lightbulb was always so dim it made me feel dirty even when I was in the tub.

I had been to Hungry Hollow many times before 11 but that’s the one I seem to remember the clearest. I remember the cool October water in the creek that ran alongside the edge of the property… how it swept over my feet, jeans rolled up to my knees, and how the smooth stones kept wearing down, rounder, smoother, as time passed.

I remember hiking up Hale road with my grandpa and dad, going to the beaver pond and watching those busy little creatures hastily building their damn. And we went inside this little old shack that looked like it burned. There were broken mason jars and papers and agricultural type tools strewn about. And the emptiness spooked me.

We ate this stuff called salt rising bread that my grandmother loved and could only buy in upstate New York. It smelled kind of gross while toasting but had a nutty sort of potato-y flavor.

That year, I shot a gun for the very first time. Off the mudroom is a small platform with stairs leading to the yard. From it, my grandfather stood behind me to steady the .22 against my shoulder. Aim for the cans, not too low. About 50 feet away, hanging from a tree, dangled old beer cans, riddled with small holes from past shooting attempts. I remember my heart racing and the heaviness of the gun leaning back into my small frame. Easing the trigger back, I was scared by the recoil but I didn’t show it. I Having always been a tom boy, I had to keep up the tough exterior, show strength and confidence at all times. I hit the can and it swayed from the intrusion of metal. I felt proud.

We drove into town to get supplies – town being Salamanca or Killbuck, where my grandpa grew up during the Depression. He let me get out at a little general store where I bought more ammo for the gun. As I walked out, I noticed there was a vending machine so i was going to buy a soda with my change. Except it was live bait!

Days like today when the air is cool and Fall is creeping up slowly make me think of these good times I had as a kid. What are some places you remember from your childhood? What made them special?

ETA: Brian’s website. I knew I had a relative who posted photos. The place has been updated, obviously, since I was last there but now you get a visual.

Fluff, filler, blah

This morning? 60 degrees. Beautiful! I rolled the windows down a little on our way to daycare, played a little Ambrosia… oh yeah, a great start to the day. Nevermind that I am on Day 5 of 30 Day Shred (with a one day break in which I did 30 mins of elliptical) and when I stepped on the scale this morning – pre-breakfast – I weighed 2 pounds more than yesterday, Muscle weighs more than fat, right? Right??

I was absent from the interwebs yesterday for a few reasons. One being that since Elliot had to be away from daycare for 24 hours, I had to cart him to the office with me. It wasn’t too bad; he played with some toys, climbed up onto a paper box about eleventy bazillion times, dumped out a box of file folder tags time and time again, and then he finally started to melt down. We walked around the halls a bit – he’s doing very well walking with only one hand of help – and, honestly, I am barely hanging onto him but he feels he needs it. He’s not yet gained the confidence to let go. He went back to daycare around 10:45 and I was free to get some work done! (Yeah, I wasn’t that excited about it)

Another reason I didn’t visit half my regular haunts was that I had papers to grade. Awful papers. Atrocious papers. Papers in which students didn’t cite one single damn thing and to top it all off, their group mates told them this. I mean, they were warned. And still! These kids are going to be pretty disappointed when I send out the grade emails this morning. As Ash reminded me though: if you give them a second chance, they’ll take it. If you let them fail, they’ll learn. I was going to let them rewrite one of their three papers but I think he’s right. These are not 7 year olds, they’re 18! They should know better by now. But sometimes it makes me feel guilty; like I’m not trying hard enough. In this case, I can say that it’s not me. The ball is in their court.

In Heroes geekery news: when is Monday? I mean, ugh! When we were catching up on the first two seasons, I counted on watching 1-3 eps a night, whenever I wanted. But now that we’re all caught up, I am at the whim of the schedule, the week that must pass. I guess in the meantime, I could watch the last season of ER, though I barely care anymore. Someone dies; I just read who. I’m a spoilers junkie, I fear. But all in all, ER hasn’t been good since season 10 and it hasn’t been really good since season 6. When George left, it was all downhill from there.

But enough about that. I apologize for being a bad blogger lately. I’ve not been living up to my potential as a writer. Maybe in time it will get better. As everything tends to do – cyclical.

Apologies for my absense, Heroes

**Hack koff** Yeah, I got siiick. On Friday, I had a sore throat but I ignored it. Saturday, Sunday, pushed on through the lump in my throat. When I coughed, I knew I was sick because I could taste the ick. When I woke up yesterday, Ash basically made me stay home to rest. Mommies can’t get sick; everyone knows this. So Ash took the Boy to daycare and I promptly returned to bed where I watched about 30 minutes of Sportscenter before falling asleep. Then I got up and ate soup. Then I slept. Then I went to the grocery store. And it was relatively empty. 3:00 on a weekday is the time to shop, people. Take heed! Then I exercised.

Brief aside: exercising.

After reading about it on Sundry’s site, I bought into the hype of30 Day Shred. After having completed 3 successful days of this DVD so far, I can see why it will totally kick your ass into shape. My thighs HURT. My abs ache like I’m going to throw up. My arms? Jelly. But my energy level? On the up. And my confidence? Way up. I haven’t lost any weight yet but unlike other workouts, I feel like there is a goal to be attained and it is within reach. Sundry mentions that she’s seeing some obvious changes in her muscle tone, which is definitely something I am looking for, especially in the abdominal – retains-baby-fat region. She has a good point that this is a good dvd to work into your existing exercise/eating routine. Once this initial phase of my entire body feeling like it was pummeled wears off, I am going to pick up the elliptical again and try to really lose weight. (Sundry had only being doing the dvd for, what I can understan – 2 weeks or so and had lost 2 pounds.) I’m looking for the full 20 because that would put me back at my wedding/honeymoon weight which was, while not being the lowest I’d like, pretty damn thin, for me.

Ok, veering away from my fat, let’s talk about Heroes. Season 3 premiered last night and boy, was it good. I love how this show will answer 2 questions but ask 7 more. I haven’t gotten into a TV show in quite some time but this one has totally reeled me in. I love/hate characters. I feel endeared to them. I don’t want and I do want certain things to happen. It’s sort of nice to be so involved in something like this. Although, the pre-show hype last night was a bit much. Ash was sort of disappointed that it seems like his favorite character, Hiro, is a fan favorite. He’s now decided that Ando is his favorite. Me? I like HRG, the Cheerleader’s Dad*. At first, I hated him because I thought he was bad but then he turned out to be both good and bad, which we all are.

He’s also sort of, well, cute in a hot older Dad way. I guess you’d have to watch it to know what I mean.

But let me tell you what weirded me out. Ash and I were in bed last night, about to go to sleep and Ash was blabbing about how his glasses broke. And he says, “Maybe I’ll get some horn-rimmed glasses, like Noah Bennett.” And I’m thinking, did I say what I was thinking about him out loud? Creepy. I guess maybe after knowing someone for as long as I’ve know Ash, you start reading each others’ minds.

But anyway, that’s what’s been going on around our end. I’ll be writing soon about the inevitability of teething, Elliot’s meal plan as of late, and some other randomness in Tally. TTYL, ppl!

*AKA – Noah Bennett. If you watch, you know. If not, I don’t suppose it really matters. And now I just feel like a Heroes geek.

Prep revisited, afternoon breeze

So yes, Prep. It’s not great. It’s not even good. I can’t stop reading it but I am hating it. Sure, there are brief moments where I find something redeeming. But on the whole, this is utter crap. I have about 30 pages and then I am putting it on the shelf in the grad lounge under the “Tomes needing homes” sign.

When I went home for lunch, it was only 79 out with a lovely breeze. I went into the office closest – way into the back – and pulled out my storage container of Fall things. Yes, it is time. I admit that a wave – a surge even – of happiness washed over me as I pressed my window gel pumpkins onto the glass door into a symmetrical arrangement. I opened the screen door and let the dogs lay on the rug there, sniffing the Autumn air and basking in the coolness of the room. I made a sandwich and ate it, feeling decidedly more calm than I did last night, where I felt a tensing anxiety for no apparent reason and had fallen asleep early.

Finally finished that book. Thank god.

It’s only 3:15 and I would LOVE to go home right this second.

Bullets over Thursday

  • Every time I left my office today, I had a phone message. When I have been at my desk, no phone calls.
  • I made chocolate raspberry oat muffins last night for work; they were yummy.
  • My grandfather sent along his account from the time he enlisted in the Navy until he met and married my grandmother. Though I knew the gist of the story, it was really fascinating to read the details.
  • I am about to go have lunch with a friend. I shall be eating hummus and pits fries. OMG, the yum.
  • My stomach has been upset for 3 days now. I have no idea why.
  • My son is wearing a 12 month onesie and 6 month jeans today. WTF?
  • Candy corn hershey kisses are good;  I don’t care what you think.
  • Fall better hurry up.
  • Just tweeted this: “Suddenly very aware that my plans for after Christmas include Having Another Baby. Strikingly frightening. And yet, strangely exciting”

Lest I forget…

…I have a son! I guess I haven’t really written about him in a little bit. Maybe, I thought, that going on and on about Elliot was what kept people from reading/commenting. Maybe they weren’t here for the mommin’ chat. So I laid low, spoke of other things, simpler, happy things. And yet, nothing changed.

So, Elliot. Lately, he’s been up and down and working on many things. It seems like his walking progress is stalled. Day to day, he is a great pull-upper. He stands and cruises down the coffee table quickly. Then, when he reaches the corner he extends his arms and puts one foot forward, dropping to the floor, diappointed. Then he gets back up and goes back to the other end, towards the side table where he then climbs up and its on the little bottom shelf. This makes him very proud of himself and he swings his legs, giggling.

Food wise, we’ve been trying a bunch of different thigns. He’s eaten spaghetti but he liked the french bread bits better. He had taco meat and cheddar and he loved it. One week later and he wouldn’t even touch it. I made a tricolor pasta salad with chick peas, green beans, corn, and a mayo pesto sauce and he purportedly ate all of it at daycare. And I watched him eat some at home. But the cheesy chicken noodle thing I made did not go over well. Yet, he ate the broccoli out of it. I suppose my disappointment in his eating stems from the fact that he used to eat anything and everything when we began solids and all the way up until, well, maybe 3-4 weeks ago.

However, his new big thing is waving and he’ll do it if you wave to him or if you say “Say bye bye”. He knows the command! Ok, so a lot of my friends’ kids have been signing please and whatnot for months (which I find incredibly useless. (Please what? What do you want? Oh, you can’t tell me THAT. All you can do is please, over and over and over until crying ensues.) So I feel like this is a Big Deal for us.

I look forward to so much with him. So many days of play and nights of bathtimes, book reading, talking about his day – when it’s that time. He lights up my life. Even if I have the crappiest day, when I see him in the afternoon, none of the bad stuff matters anymore. I feel free and clear and so very happy.

This ‘n’ That

There’s something small that makes me very sad, and I want to share it with you. Ash bought me a crock-pot for Christmas. I love it! I have always wanted one because, oh, the possibilities! I have dreamed of splendid chicken stews and hearty winter soups,  beef briskets, and chili, simmering away all day as I work then magically ready for my dinner plate come 6 PM. But the disheartening part about it is that Ash eats about one meal that can be made in said crock-pot. (Is it hyphenated? Is it capitalized? Proper noun?)

Knowing that he won’t eat anything made in there makes me wonder why he decided to buy it. I know he thought about it beforehand, he had to. He’s the pickiest eater I have ever met and with the exception of chili, he wants nothing to do with the magic of the pot’s power. So, this is why when I see recipes for this appliance, a little part of my heart dies.

*****

This morning, as I trudged across Westcot plaza with my pumpkin spice latte in hand, I winced up at the misty gray skies and felt a cool Fall breeze brush against my cheeks. Welcome, September 16th. Thank you for packing your Autumn weather with you. I certainly appreciate it.

*****

Some of you readers may be in places like New Hampshire and Vermont where the term “foliage” is applicable this time of year. To you I say: I am completely and utterly jealous. I visit the Yankee magazine website often and look for the updates. I peruse pictures of fallen leaves and hilly landscapes full of oranges, reds, yellows… pumpkins, sunlight filtered through the quickly emptying branches of trees. What I wouldn’t give to wake up to that every morning. My dream job: waking up, grabbing a cup of tea and sitting on a big open deck that looks out on a field like this:

and then just taking pictures all day long.

I go through phases of being more or less interested in taking pictures. Sometimes every time Elliot and I play I am equipped with my camera. And other times, I feel like it’s so difficult just to keep him happy that there’s no time to take his shot, or why even bother because it’ll just be his crying whiny face each time.

But if I could see that majesty each morning – the idyllic scenery that brings my heart such warm joy – then I’d have the camera permanently affixed to my hand.

*****

I’ve joined the Tallahassee Book Club. On meetup.com, they have 38 members and meet every third Monday at the public library. I though it might be fun to join something of this sort, to meet people and actually talk about things not pertaining to work or children. Though, it seems a fairly domestic and hosue-wife-ish thing for me to go and do; but I read a good deal and why not get out of the house once in a while? And besides, it’s not like I can’t just quit if I don’t like it.

*****

Now that I have taken a small reprieve and eaten Pitaria, I think it time to wrap up this post. Another soon to come about things I want to buy. If only I had the money! Oh, woe!