disapproving kitty

Friday, December 28, 2012

This Was Going to be a Jaunty Post About Holiday Preparation, But I Got Distracted

     In my brain has been pages and pages -- a dissertations worth at least  -- of response and continuation of replies about the latest shooting and all of the subsequent nonsense about who to arm and who ought to have guns and who shouldn't, and well...I just couldn't.  Christmas was happening and I had things to bake and decorate and presents to make and buy and order from Amazon and a holiday newsletter* to write. And there was just too much to say.  Too many statistics to gather to prove my points, analogies to craft and detailed sentences to craft.  So I let it go.  For now.  It will go on my big list of things to eventually blog about.

     I've maintained for awhile now that gun control isn't one of the hills I'm willing to die upon anyways, and still wasn't until people started saying that we should have to have them in my workplace.  At that point, the shit got real and personal and was being said by people who have no idea what it's like to work in a school.  With actual children.

     I have friends and relatives who own and love their guns and not a one of them is an idiot, so please don't think that I hate all gun owners and/or think they are necessarily stupid.  In fact, I know that stupid and smart have very, very little to do with gun safety.  I think it has a lot more to do with personality type.

   You see, I recently had my students take the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory and asked many of my friends to take it, too, so we could do some comparisons.  Turns out, the vast majority of my friends are the opposite of me in most regards.  I was quite surprised since I've always sort of assumed  that most people, especially my friends, think like I do.  They don't.  In fact, most people don't.  They perceive the world differently, organize their thinking differently and react differently to the world.  And yet, I still have a tendency to think that other people are going to see the world the way I do.  And, given my dealings with lots and lots of humans on a regular basis -- other people do this, too. 

     All the devoted gun-owners out there who are extraordinarily careful with their loaded weapons quite possibly assume that everyone else has this natural or learned tendency to be highly organized and capable of keeping track of all the important things.  So maybe the thinking goes like this:  Teachers are smart people.  They can be diligent and organized just like me, it's easy and natural!  No problem.  And if they can't be like me, then clearly, they're too dumb to be teaching!

     The problem with this kind of thinking is that organization and attention to detail have little to do with smart and stupid.  We all know the (probably somewhat apocryphal) story of Einstein having to have his door painted red so he could remember which house was his.  Einstein wasn't an idiot.  Neither am I.**  But I do sometimes do things like leave very large, sharp cake-cutting knives lying on the table which is surrounded by hopped-up four-year-olds while I run off to find birthday candles which I'd forgotten to get.

     Yes, I could probably get better at paying attention to such things and not getting distracted like a dog in a squirrel cage, but I'm not going to.  It is one of my weaknesses that is amply made up for by other strengths, and I do my best to surround myself with people who are more observant than I am.

     However, it is unavoidably clear that I should not, ever, regularly carry a loaded weapon.  Ever.  And neither should teachers.  Not because I think they are all like me (they aren't) but because of the sheer magnitude of details to which teachers must pay attention, and because of the catastrophic nature of the event even a moment's failure of attention would cause.  We are people surrounded by children, and it's best if the consequences of a mistake are more along the lines of "Oh, I need to change your grade" and not "Oh, I'm sorry, your child got my gun and shot another student."

     Think about it. 

*Yes, it's a holiday newsletter.  It is not a Christmas newsletter.  Not because of some trumped up war or Christmas or any other political agenda but because I never get the damn thing sent out until after Christmas.  Sometimes not till after New Year.  I think one year the holiday in question was more like President's Day.

**I'm not Einstein, either.  (And while I'm not going to trot out the evidence to prove it, nor am I stupid.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

If Your Solution Tempts the Gods of Irony, You Might Want to Rethink Things

     Last Friday my son ran full tilt into a safety railing.  Got himself a red welt and a lovely greenish-yellow bruise over the bridge of his nose.  Looks grand.  He was playing tag, didn't watch where he was going and Wham!  Right into the safety railing. I'm blaming the gods of irony for this one.
     Earlier this year, two of my students were fooling around in class while I was no more than three feet away, but working on connecting up a computer wire.  As I turned around to tell them to get back to work as previously told, one pushed the other into a cart and a $400 projector smashed to the ground. D'oh.
     A few years ago, a six or seven year old boy climbed up onto some cafeteria tables -- the kind that fold upright and latch so they can be wheeled into the corner.  Who knows where his teacher was.  Maybe right there, but dealing with another student.  Maybe in the hall, corralling other kids while he was supposed to be waiting in line.  There are a thousand things that children do that require a teacher's attention, and I defy even the most observant civilian to watch 30 children at a time for five hours and never once lose track of what all of them are doing every second.  The vast majority of the time, nothing truly bad happens, but in this case, something did.  The latch on the table was broken, or not secured properly, and the table fell, crushing the boy.  It was tragic.  I don't know the details, but I'm sure there was finger - pointing and blame and a huge lawsuit and possibly criminal negligence charges.  
     What I do know is that "Jarod's Law" came out of it in Ohio, and a thousand things got hung onto the law, like the banning of a lot of essential classroom items, and requiring an MSDS safety sheet on everything in the room from the hand-sanitizer to the pencils.  There were other common sense things too, things that one would think were already codified somewhere, but maybe not, like:  no classroom shall have animals deemed poisonous or toxic." Really?  Well, damn, there goes my coral snake*.  It was so ridiculous that eventually implementation got postponed and we haven't heard much since.
     My point here, that I am meandering towards, is that children are unpredictable.  They will get into things, break things, hurt themselves, hurt each other either by accident or design and generally fool around when they think they can get away with it.  They're not that much different from adults, just smaller, and with less developed frontal lobes to tell them when something they're doing is a really bad idea.
     Speaking of adults, a lot of them aren't all that reliable, either.  Teachers in general are good eggs, and most of us are good with large groups of children and dealing with all the little unpredictabilities.  But we're still people, and have varying responses to a crisis.  I tend to have my brain freeze up a bit, lose the ability to string together coherent sentences well and I don't see well.**  I forget where things are.  I do tend to stay calm, though.  Other people I know scream, freeze, run away, start sobbing and shaking, get hysterical, yell, hyper-fixate on the trivial or stop communicating all together.  These are all fairly normal-people reactions to a crisis.  People who respond really well to crises would be, well, trained first responders.  Soldiers.  Police.  Firefighters.  Emergency Room doctors.  They go through a lot of training to learn how to respond to the frighteningly unexpected.
     Teachers are not trained this way.  It's expensive training, in both time and money.  We have a lot of other training in pedagogy, and curriculum writing and classroom management and not enough of any of that, really.  And honestly, there's no need beyond the standard drills we practice once a month.  Fire, Tornado, Lockdown.  We practice those faithfully and in 13 years of teaching I've never needed them.***
     So, to all the people, including many who ought to know better, who are espousing the idea that all teachers should have loaded guns in their classrooms with them at all times, I say:  Are you effing crazy?  I'm not allowed to have high-odor markers in my room because they are too dangerous for children to be around.  My last school took out a certified-safe slide from the playground because someone got hurt on it for crying out loud.  Why?  Because kids are unpredictable.   Classrooms are places filled with these unpredictable small people who are very capable of getting into places where they shouldn't, even locked places.  And no matter how much we want to, it is not possible to watch 20 plus children every second.  It just isn't.**** Teachers are not trained to deal with severe crisis situations, and most certainly aren't trained to shoot someone in a chaotic environment filled with children.  Hell, I think even a lot of police aren't trained well enough for that.
     Arming teachers would cost millions of dollars every year in equipment and training, not to mention funding for the lawsuits that would pop up like weeds for creating an unsafe environment for students.  Which actually educational programming are you willing to cut to fund this effort?  And all for what?  To protect us from the incredibly slight chance that someone might attack the school?  Arming teachers is the best way to do this?
     Let us imagine that you actually did do this, gave me a loaded weapon to keep in my room.  Common sense says it has to be in a locked drawer*****.  To which I would have to remember where I keep the key, and it would have to be a secure enough place that students wouldn't find it easily.  The one-in-a-very-high-number-event-occurs and a gunman attacks!  I have to a) go into lockdown mode b) remember where I keep the key for the gun drawer (oops, can't recall things when highly stressed.)  c) look for the key (no dice, since I don't see well when stressed)  d) if I do eventually find the key and unlock the drawer then e) remember all the training on how to safely operate the gun and aim properly (see problems at b and c) f) wait and keep children calm while holding a freaking gun till said gunman breaks through my locked door g) shoot a moving target while surrounded by small, panicked children.
     This doesn't even take in the possibility that there might be a teacher somewhere with mental illness or even just an anger management problem who would misuse the gun on himself or others.  It doesn't take in the possibility that an angry student or parent could break into the gun drawer and use the gun.  This doesn't take in the actuality at all that it would be making thousands more guns accessible to thousands more people, none of whom have proven themselves capable of safely being around a lethal weapon.
     In short, is it a bad idea.  There is no logical, reasonable argument that would make this a good idea on any level.  If you think there is then we have not done a good enough job of teaching you how to construct a reasoned argument, and you should go augment your education with some debate skills.
     Should we work towards keeping schools as safe as possible?  Of course.
     Should this involve giving guns to untrained civilians, whose training we can't and don't want to pay for?  Of course not.  That wouldn't keep anyone safer.
     I'm sure the gods of irony are just having a field day with the whole idea.
   

*not really.  I don't have classroom pets.  I always thought I would, but it turns out I don't have the wherewithal to deal with them.  I don't even have plants.

**my eyes work fine.  It's that I just don't process what I'm seeing at normal speed.  It means that when I'm stressed out I have difficulty finding things that are right there†.  It also means that I don't process red lights as well, or other vehicles on the road or anything else unpredictable.  I try not to drive when I'm upset for this reason.

***once, when the police were chasing a bank robber several miles away from my school, they put the whole district into lockdown for about 30 minutes.  The robber holed up in a private home and there was thankfully never even the slightest bit of danger for a child in a classroom.  The authorities were being on the safe side, which is fine.   I got to sit and read a book to kids for a bit.  It was nice.

****if you think it is then you have a) never been in a classroom and b) do not have children of your own.

*****if you think I'd be keeping this loaded weapon in a holster at my side in a classroom full of children I'm supposed to be working closely with then you are so irrational that you can just quit reading.

†like, for instance, my car keys when I am late in the morning because I can't find my g-d car keys.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Actually, I Don't Want to Hear Your Pro-Gun Argument, Unless You'd Be Willing to Trade Your Child's Life for One That Was Lost Today

A madman shot and killed 20 children and seven adults today, most of them at a school in Connecticut. Everyone in America who isn't living under a rock has heard about it.  The gun debate will boil up with all the usual phrases and such.  Nothing will change.

Guns are one of those issues that I just don't put much fight into.  There are other fights.  I only have so much energy and outrage to go around, so this is one that I just let go.  My brothers are legally registered gun owners.  Some of my friends are, too, and I've had to tell at least one of them that he may not carry a firearm into my home.  He respects that, and I am grateful.

I think it's a bad idea to have one firearm per citizen in our country but it's been made abundantly clear that all the numbers, statistics, and reasoned arguments that tell us that having these weapons readily available is what makes us the killing-est developed country on the planet is never, ever going to convince the someone on the other side to give up even the most ridiculously overpowered and unnecessary weapon in their arsenal.

These arguments can't even convince gun rights advocates to police themselves, or get them to work to ensure that legal guns only get into the hands of people who have the knowledge, will and sense to keep them out of the hands of those who should not have them.

Gun rights advocates insist that they be allowed their weapons, but not one of them has yet to come up with a way to prevent those who should not have guns from getting them.  Is it an unsolvable problem, or simply a lack of will?  I do not know.

Please don't think that I'm trying to argue that we should take away all the guns.  That would be a pointless and fruitless endeavor.  The gun lobby won, and this will not change.  I don't expect it to.

But there were nearly 13,000 people murdered in the US in 2010, and about 2/3, nearly 9000 of them were killed with a gun.  Thousands more people were injured, either accidentally or purposefully, by guns.

A few times a year, madmen take their firearms and kill the innocent, the passers-by, the blameless.

Today, 20 small children are dead because they were shot with a gun.
In a classroom.
For no reason.
Twenty sets of parents got to touch the body of their dead child, and weep.

And that this is the price of gun ownership in our country.  

We will pay it, every year, thousands and thousands of times.

So I'm not going to argue that we should take away all the guns.  But I would like someone to explain to me how it is worth the cost. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Good Thing I Wrote It Down Somewhere

I just finished using a Facebook app to create "My Year In Statuses," which I do ever year because, well, because other people do and it's fun to look back at a year's worth of posts and say "Oh yeah, that happened!  I forgot about that."
My favorite ones are about the kids (surprise) and in particular about the goofy things they say like DS yelling "Watch out, DD!  I'm going to do some speed!" as he careened around a corner to dive into a pile of cushions.  Or when DD told  J that I had said she could watch a show.
James:  Are you sure mommy said that?
 Phia:  yes.
James:  Are you really sure?
 Phia:  Yes.
James:  Should I go ask Mommy about it?
 Phia:  No.  Don't ask Mommy.

The best one, though, is my observation that DD said "Umbelella" for "Umbrella," and it was so endearing, and I would miss it when it was gone.  That was back in January.  I knew there was something really cute that she said and couldn't recall what it was until I re-read it tonight.

She doesn't say it anymore.  She just says "Umbrella."

And I do miss it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Some days, I can't handle being me, either

I teach gifted kids.   I'm not going to rant about all the flaws in how we find them and what we fail to do for them once we do find them because that's not what this post is about.*  I'll just say that I get to work with them for one day a week.  I've been doing this for 4th and 5th graders for about eight years.
 For the first time in a very long time I'm teaching really small kids, which is rather different than working with the ones who get sarcasm and are pretty good at following multi-step directions.  People sometimes ask if the kids are intimidating because they're so smart**, or if they're all absent-minded geniuses***or other such things.  They do have very big brains, and they are different in many ways from other kids their age.  But they're still just kids.
Yesterday, I had a 7 year old come into class, give me a sad, sad look and say "I just don't think I can handle being gifted today."  I took him into the hall to talk and he crawled into my lap and just wept.  He wanted to stay with his friends, and go to recess and lunch with them because those were the things that were important.
I let him go eat lunch and have recess with his friends.  He missed about half an hour of class, but no matter.  He'll catch up.

It is a wonderful thing to have a big brain that is capable of tremendous thinking.  I take my job of stretching and challenging these minds very seriously.  I do.

But some days, it's all about playing on the swings.

*largely because I don't have the energy for it right now.
**no
***still no

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

in a bottle, shrink-wrap, cardboard box, I don't care. I'd just like some.

Dear Santa,

This year for the holidays I would like some time.  I'm good with 15 minute increments or hour long blocks, anything is fine, really.  Just some time to myself to get a little housework done, or some reading, maybe even do something crafty or bake something.  Or sleep.  I'd take several hours worth of sleep over a multitude of gifts, easy.

If it's something you can't make at the workshop, I'd be happy to go out and just get some local. Should you find any for sale, let me know.  I'll go buy some and give it to J to give to me*.

It's a simple thing.  You'd think someone would have figured out a way to do this by now.  I suppose I could give up Facebook and get back untold hours of my week, but I don't see it happening.

I'll be looking for it under the tree.

Thanks,
Me

*this is actually pretty standard for our holiday gift-giving.  I'll buy and give him several things I know I'd like.  Usually by the time I get the gifts, I've forgotten I ever gave it to him.  Really.


I'm not saying I want to join a commune, just that it's nice to get out once in a while

My mother - in - law has been staying with us for about a week and it has been really, really nice.

No.  I'm not being sarcastic here.  Really.  It's been fabulous.  She looks after the kids and likes to watch Downton Abbey and pays attention to the cats who have been luxuriating in all the extra petting.  She's fun to talk with and likes to tell me stories about J when he was a kid.*  J and I both got to go play games at CABS on Friday and tonight we got a bonus date night.  Dinner and a movie!

It leads me to believe that, quite possibly, the optimal number of adults in a household is not two.  We all know that one adult with children is really less than optimal, because, let's face it, children are exhausting.  It's good to have another adult around to help take up some of the slack when you're dead on your feet and you cannot, cannot face reading the Berenstain Bears just one more time.  Or someone else to step in and be the voice of reason and support when the whining just hits that pitch that makes you want to rip your eardrums out with a fork.  Two adults is good.

But three is better, when all of them are caring and responsible individuals who are good at getting along.  And while I don't think I'd be up to the level of closeness needed to live like our neighbors who have four different couples, with varying ages of children living in a house not much larger than ours**, I can't help but think that they might be on to something.  If nothing else, I'm going to bet that they get out to the movies more often than we do, and don't worry so much about how much they spend of babysitters.

So that's it.  Nothing snarky tonight.  Just a little gratitude for having married into a good family of people I like.

And a recommendation to go see Wreck-It Ralph.  It's cute.  If you'd have to pay a sitter to go see it, though, then maybe just wait till it's out on DVD.  Sitters are expensive.  I know.

*this probably endears her more to me than to J

**I'm thinking that have at least one more bathroom, though.  I hope so. I realize it's a thoroughly late 20th-century American trait but I love having my own bathroom with it's gorgeous tub and walk-in closet.  If moving to a commune requires giving up my own bathroom then I'm not going, I don't care how nice the childcare arrangements are.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Extraverted iNtuitive....squirrel!

I have approximately three bajillion hours of grading to do.

I don't want to do it.

I've been able to avoid it thus far by prepping for a birthday party and now tidying up after it but really, it's sitting there.  Mocking me.  The kids have done all this work learning and I'm supposed to check and document all of it so I can tell them where they need to improve, but truth be known I'm terrible at grading in a timely fashion and given the set up of my program, (I see students one day a week) it's not as useful as it might be in a normal classroom.  At least, this is what I tell myself when being mocked by my stacks of ungraded papers.

The current stack is mostly packets students did during "brain labs" where they got to learn about the different jobs of different parts of their brains.  This year I get to teach a little bit about psychology, and how all the bits and pieces of the brain work together to create "the mind."  I find it a fun and fascinating topic*, and would probably spend a lot more time on it if I could, but I like the previous unit for this year a lot, too, and the unit that comes after this one, and I never want to cut anything**.  This is understandable, at least according to my personality type, which I get to find out yet again this year.

You see, each year I teach this, I have the kids take the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, which is a long list of somewhat awkwardly-worded Yes/No questions.  It's hard for 10 and 11 year-olds to decipher so I go through it with them, reading each question aloud and translating as needed.  Which means I typically take the thing four or five times in the space of a week.

I'm sure you're asking why I bother clicking Yes or No, and not just read the questions.  Truth is, I don't know.  I guess I just like answering questions about myself.

The weirdest part?  My personality type changes, even over a couple days.  If you've never taken this test, you can here and you'll get a little set of four letters, telling you if you're more introverted, or more of a judger or perceiver or whatever.  Each letter comes with a little percentage, telling how much you are that particular type of trait.  But as the week progresses, and I think more about the questions, my answers must change because usually by the end of the week at least one of the letters has changed and all of the percentages have moved quite a bit.  I'm not sure what this means.

In general, though, I usually tend to be some kind of "ENFP" which is probably what that dog Doug was in the movie UP.  I'm highly distractible, friendly, love to learn new things and have a tendency to chase squirrels***.   I'm not a perfectionist, I can't be bothered with fiddly details and I have difficulty following the rules when I think the rules are getting in the way of things being done well, properly, efficiently or all three.  This last trait does not endear me to administration, I'm sure, but what the hey.  Nobody's perfect.  I do try.

Speaking of, I should try to get some grading done.  After doing a little more cleaning.  Or watching Downton Abbey.  Or....


*This is one of the coolest things about my job.  I get to teach fun and interesting stuff all the time.  I constantly get to research new topics and add cool new ideas to my curriculum.  It is a charmed and wonderful thing.

**This is probably the worst part about my job† I really do hate cutting things out.  It's all interesting.  But stuff always falls out of the plans because I take too long to get through lessons.  I'd like to think it's because I'm thorough, but really I think it's because I get sidetracked easily††

***not really

†besides grading.  Grading is the worst part of any teaching job.  Right now, writing in this blog is my way to avoid grading papers.

††as you might guess.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sometimes the wine and thou aren't enough

I've been working for a couple days on what is supposed to be a funny little bit about being one of "those parents" who can't get home-school communication right.  It isn't turning out and I think I need to try working on it some time when I'm not done with thinking for the day.

So instead I'll just say that the house smells fantastic right now because I'm baking little individual pizza crusts for DD's birthday party on Sunday.  I was going to buy the already-made ones from the store that kinda look like cardboard (my kids wouldn't care, honestly) but I couldn't find them in my mad 15-minute-have-to-get-the-kids-by-six dash through the grocery the other day.

So I'm making homemade ones.

I was going to double the recipe but I could only find a single packet of yeast, and that was from a gluten-free box mix that I wound up not using because I used the gf flour within for something else.

Which means I haven't bought yeast in a really, really long time.

I used to buy it as a staple.  I baked all sorts of things.  Focaccia.  Sweet rolls.  Grain breads.  Cakes and pies and cookies which don't require yeast but do require lots of flour.

Now I don't.

This is unarguably healthier, and is probably a primary reason I've been able to maintain a healthy-ish weight for the past couple years.  But when the house smells like this it is all I can do to not grab a warm crust, cover it in butter and and garlic salt and tear off great chunks to eat with marinara.

Sometimes, I just miss bread.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's December Already?


It's holiday newsletter time.  

Notice the lack of exclamation points.  I'm just not feeling it quite yet.  Could be the prednisone.  (threw my back out)

Since the advent of Facebook, it seems less necessary than ever to even write a holiday newsletter.  But I'm going to write one anyways, as soon as I can figure out what to put in it.  I love my life and my family, but we aren't what you'd call intriguing*.  I try to find some clever and creative way to do it, but even that can get a little old.  

People always bitch about how there are never crappy things in holiday newsletters**.  They're all wonderful this and terrific that and life is raining gold and rainbows.  What else should we write about?  How we got into a multitude of stupid arguments involving the proper method to fold socks?  That people disappointed us?  There were family spats and hurt feelings and sometimes J's job resembled a Dilbert Cartoon.***   There was a divorce, and hospital stays, health scares, nagging, passive-aggressiveness, annoying habits and a host of other things that are part real life but just don't belong in a holiday newsletter.  

So I will write my newsletter, and the most down thing in it will be that DD doesn't say "memato" anymore for "tomato."  

And that will just have to do.  


*At least as far as you know.  We could be secretly fascinating, but very private about it.  Like Spiderman.

**Well, they do in advice columns.  I like reading advice columns.  Did you know that if you read enough of them, you discover that they run differently edited versions of the same letters?  I don't know if all advice letters just go to a giant pool for columnists to pick from or if people who think that advice columns are the best way to go just have a tendency to write to ALL of them in hopes of getting a response.  Either way, seeing the variety of responses can be amusing.

***All of his jobs have resembled a Dilbert cartoon at some point.  All jobs do.  If they didn't, Dilbert wouldn't be funny.

I'm Sure Superman's Year Wasn't All that Exciting, Either.


Like I mentioned earlier, it's that time of year.  Time for the annual holiday newsletter and I haven't the faintest idea what to write.  It's been like this ever since both our kids passed the one year mark.
The years they were born, there was lots to write about.  We had a new baby!  We produced life!  We haven't slept since!  It's droll and a lot of people can relate.  Well, many of the people on my Christmas list can relate, anyways.
But nowadays the days are just... days.  We get up, work, eat, sleep, clean, rinse, repeat.
There are small and wonderful moments like the time that... the time that... see?  I can't even remember any of the small and wonderful moments.  I'd scroll back through Facebook like I've done for the past couple years, but they've messed it all up with that damn Timeline format and I can't find half the things I've posted.
And besides, most of those moments aren't something that translate well on paper, at least, not in the Readers' Digest Condensed Version of our Life that I try to create every year.

This is what happened this year:

DD turned three and I made a really cool cake that looked like a globe.
DS turned five and I made another cake that had a passably recognizable dinosaur on it.
We threw a kick ass New Year's Eve party (can you even *say* "kick ass" in a holiday newsletter?) Then the rest of winter happened and I have no recollection of any of it.  We probably ate spaghetti a lot and spent too much time watching children's television.  We had people over many times to play games and eat.  We got invited to other people's places to eat and play games and play Rock Band.   J went to CABS as often as possible while I watched the kids.   At some point DD stopped saying "memato" for "tomato" and I will miss it.  She still says "yogrit."
We went to Florida in June to visit James' grandparents and managed to go there the one cool and rainy week of the summer.   (The grandparents are doing well, though.)
I belly danced at a couple of summer festivals.  In public.  With a bare midriff.  After turning 40 which I celebrated in July with good friends.  I karaoked while James watched the kids.  (It's like dating, only we do it separately.)
We celebrated Christmas in July (but really in August) in Kalamazoo for the last time because J's mom has retired, sold his childhood home and is moving (slowly) to New Jersey.  She's been visiting here more, too, which has been great.
Gracie got a mysterious malady that took us twice to OSU Veterinary hospital, but she's mostly recovered now, though far more skittish than she ever was before.  George has stepped into her role as the gregarious housecat.
DS started full-day Kindergarten, and while it's going well, he doesn't love it as much as we thought he would.  He is sometimes a very serious little man.
DD made it through the worst of age three and seems to have come out on the other side.  We are still blinking at the lights at the end of this long tunnel.  We're nervous about her teenage years.
We went to amusement parks both with and without the kids and I'd have to admit that at this point it's more fun without them.  J loves it either way and will be a coaster enthusiast into his eighties, I'm sure.
Six days before his birthday, J lamented that he really wanted a surprise party, but now I couldn't throw him one because he'd be expecting it, so I threw him one.  We have the kind of friends who will come together on short notice to provide food and festivities and diversions at key moments and I am immensely grateful for them.
J found a new job at some point and I got a somewhat new job thrust upon me when they restructured the gifted program in our district.  I'm keeping my head above water.  Mostly.
My younger brother and his wife expanded their family by one, adding a beautiful, healthy, gorgeous boy to their brood.  My elder brother and his wife purchased a lovely new (to them) hilltop home near Boston where they weathered hurricane Sandy without serious incident.  My mother celebrated retirement from teaching by volunteering at her grandson's school.  Then she got a full knee replacement and has celebrated by learning to walk on it again.  My father retired from KSU and celebrated with a terrific party followed by an immediate return to working as a professor at KSU.  My family does not know how to retire well, clearly.
We had much of the first floor painted and the furniture rearranged so that it all looks more, well, intentional, and not like we just set all the furniture down where it was because it got too heavy keep holding.  Our goal is to eventually have a home that looks like it's owned by actual grownups.

And that's about it.  Not really, though.  That's what there is for public consumption by relatives and acquaintances and strangers I've never met who stumble upon this blog.  The rest is just kinda private.  But I hope you'll indulge me and imagine that all the things I've left out make us utterly fascinating and hip, and probably involve saving the world on a regular basis.

Happy Holidays.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Too Many Trains, Not Enough Track

Beep beep....
Beep beep....
Beep beep....


This is my microwave.  A polite, electronic "ahem" to tell me that it is done heating whatever it is I put in there three minutes ago to heat and have already forgotten about.

Beep beep...

It drives my husband crazy. He would love to figure out how to disconnect it. "I know my food is in there.  I will get it in a minute!  Why does it have to keep going off like that?"

I'll tell you why.  Because of me.  Or, rather, people like me.  I've made the mistake of turning off the little beep beep but not actually getting the thing out that's in there because I'm in the midst of doing something else.  I'd say this results, about 80% of the time, in me finding the thing -- a cold cup of water, a room-temperature baked potato, or some semi-congealed plate of pasta -- the next time I go to use the microwave.

I do this All. The. Time.  Really.  The house is littered with partially finished projects, semi-cleaned-out boxes, piles of paper that have been somewhat sorted and need to be filed away.  Each half-done chore represents a moment of workus interruptus.  I'd be happy to blame my children or spouse but really, most of the time I distract myself.  I go to put away some towels and discover a shelf covered in things that need carrying to the basement, but by the time I reach the first floor, I remember that I wanted to put in a load of laundry first, and....

The reason I bring this up now is because we just finished mopping up the basement, which had begun to flood while J and I were down there admiring the work he'd done on re-organizing the shelves. The basement was flooding because I'd left the water on in the laundry room sink, which I'd been filling to soak some jeans.  When I started the water running, I began to walk out of the room and stopped myself.  "No.  I need to just wait right here for two minutes while this fills.  It is not that hard to occupy my thoughts for two minutes, because if I leave I will forget and flood the basement."

Really.  This was my train of thought.  Only, it got derailed when J showed up and said "I want you to come look at the basement before I head to the store, and see all the work I've done."  I left my previous train of thought chugging away past the station to Floodville and merrily trooped downstairs.

<sigh>

On the plus side, the floor of the basement is now clear of all the grossness that had accumulated there and the floor of the laundry room is rather clean as well.  Or, it will be when I toss the load of just-cleaned-and-dried-towels that had been sitting there that I used to mop up the mess.

I think it's about time to go make myself some hot chocolate.  With any luck, I'll even remember to drink it before it gets cold.


If You Want it Hidden Forever, Put it in the Bag by the Sewing Machine

So I'm making an attempt here to try Holidalies, and committing to posting something on this blog every day for the month of December.
I'm a day late in signing up for it, because, well I'm really good at procrastination.  It's one of my best skills.  I find that procrastinating can often just make a lot of problems go away.  You know those 3T jeans with the big rip in the knee from when the child wearing them chose to skid across the pavement?  They're still sitting by the sewing machine, in a bag, waiting to be repaired.  The child in question now wears size 6, and his little sister is heading into 4s as I write this.  Problem fixed!  All I have to do now is put them in the giant pile of stuff for Goodwill, or keep telling myself that I could cut them into patches for the next set of jeans that acquire a giant hole.
Truth is, neither of these things will happen.  The jeans will quietly sit in the bag until my kid goes off to college or I hire one of those professional de-clutterers to help me reclaim my house.  I have the number of one, but haven't contacted her yet.
I think you know why.
According to the Holidalies, they'll give you a prompt for each day, and today's (well, yesterday's) was "Introduce yourself."
This is not the most promising of introductions.
I suppose, if you want the real introductory kind of thing, I should state for the record that I'm your basic domestic model mom/wife/career woman with a cluttered house, some weird food allergies and a complete lack of patience with technology.  I've written about this before and was going to link to a previous post about it, but of course I can't find  it now.  Suffice it to say that I need my technology to be just about 100% intuitive and as easy to use at the computers on Star Trek.  Anything less and I just can't be bothered.  Like right now, when the stupid mouse button on the laptop thinks I'm right clicking when I'm not and keeps offering to look things up in Spotlight for me.  I don't even know what Spotlight is, nor do I care*.  I can't get it to happen when I want it to, but it happens all the time when I don't and it's aggravating as sh*t.
This is still not the most promising of introductions.
I don't write about personal stuff, unless it's my own personal stuff that pretty much everyone I know knows about me already, like having weird food allergies and joint pain and issues with getting things done on time.  I try very hard not to write about other people's personal stuff, though I do write about my kids a fair amount.  I usually don't write about marriage, because I worry that people will think I'm writing about my marriage in particular and will start looking at us funny at parties.
I do take liberties with the truth upon occasions.  I wrote once about not having capers and soon after two people bought me capers to put into my fridge.  They are still there, along with the bottle I had when I wrote the post.  Sometimes the truth just doesn't capture the moment the way a little embellishment does.
So.
Welcome to my blog.
I hope you'll come back and read it again.
And if you're in the market for a bagful of clothes that need reapairing, just let me know.  I'll mail it to you.....when I get around to it.


*I really don't.  However, if you'd like to tell me how to get it to stop effing right clicking, though, that'd be appreciated.  But please don't tell me, "Hey!  Click on the left!"  Because I tried that. (despite the whole procrastination thing, I'm not actually a moron.)  In fact it has no bearing whatsoever where I click on the little mouse bar.  Purposefully clicking on the right has no effect and does not bring up the annoying little menu.  It only happens when I don't want it to.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Didn't Think it was a Real Thing, Either.

Clearly I'm failing at writing in here every day, or even every month.  Year?  Could this be a yearly blog?  I could probably manage that.

Then again, maybe not.

I have this mental list of all the things I *could* write about, but I discard about 90% of them as "too weird,"  "too personal" or both.  I know it seems odd to have a personal blog and then declare that I don't want to put anything overly personal on it, but there it is.  I wouldn't say that I'm all that discreet* in general, but you gotta start somewhere.

One idea of the remaining 10% is the idea of writing about being gluten-free. I really don't want to be one of the gf blogs because honestly, there are a lot of really good ones out there, and I'd probably just be duplicating a lot of things.  Also, there's no aspect of gf living that I'm *really* into, like baking or eating out or alternative medicines and such.  A friend of mine is very much into gf baking, to the point where she's needing to have sensitive scales and is consulting chemistry books to figure out how different ingredients are going to go together.  She could write a very cool blog about all the experimental baking she's doing.   I, on the other hand, play it pretty fast and loose with the ingredients in the kitchen, and I never write anything down (as witnessed by the lack of entries here.)

I will say, though, that I know that many people still don't believe that eating gluten free is all that important for people.  It looks like a fad, and I think, for many people, it is.  It's a way to lose weight (cutting out anything made with flour really does restrict your diet until you find work-arounds) and it's trendy right now.  I'm glad for that, because a LOT more food is getting labeled as gluten-free, or conversely, with a gluten-allergen warning.  Many more gf products are on the market.  So I'm fine with people who've gone gluten-free for fad/trendy reasons or whatever the hell their reasons are.

However, just because some people have gone gluten free who aren't really sensitive to it, or intolerant or allergic doesn't mean that all of us are that way.  I live in terror of accidentally ingesting gluten.  I've had nightmares about it.  (This isn't all that unusual.  I have intense dreams all the time, but that's another topic.)  I get really sick from gluten.  Only, if you feed me gluten "just to see" you won't see anything.  I get really sick four hours later.  After I've gone home.  Or left the restaurant.  Or am at the movie theater.  And it's really unpleasant.

Some times are worse than others, and the worst times are when I'm near to losing consciousness from the pain or this weird form of internal pressure that can cause fainting (along with sweating, shakes and nausea.)  It's not fun.  And I'm not going to go into any more detail than that except to say that when I'm suffering, my family suffers, to because it's hard to be in the same room with me and heaven forbid we're stuck in a car together.

I have a variety of odd theories about why there are people like me, and many who have it much, much worse.  There isn't, as far as I know, any kind of known cause for the intolerance, just lots of other vague theories.  And no way to get rid of it.  I've consulted a variety of doctors, next on the list being a gastroenterologist and after that an allergist, even though it doesn't seem very allergy-like.

I will give out one piece of gf-advice for those who might not know it yet:  how to eat at catered events.  I see this a lot on advice columns, for everything from vegetarian eaters to life-threatening nut-allergy eaters.  The complaints are either from the bride, asking how far she has to go to provide meal options for every person coming or from the attendee, who wants to know what's reasonable to ask for so they don't get poisoned at dinner.  My solution?  Don't bug the bride (or the party host).  She's got enough going on.  Bug the caterer.  Politely.  Ask to see the menu and ingredients.  Tell them why in simple, polite terms.  Don't be dramatic.  If you'll be at a special venue, far from where the food is actually being cooked, then you will need to ask the host for the caterer's contact info prior to the event, but if nothing else you can seek him/her out upon arrival and see what might be safe to eat.  Caterers don't want to make their client's guests get sick.  It's bad for business.  So they'll try to be accommodating if they can.   If they can't, well, then they can't.  Don't be a drama queen about it.  Just pack yourself a stash of gf food you can eat, and munch on that.  Don't hie yourself off to the bathroom to do it in secret, either.  Just eat what you need to and if anybody asks, just be honest and quick about it.  Nothing's worse than hearing someone go on about their food issues.  (I have been this person, boring the living daylights out of everyone.  Someone should slap me.)

So that's it.  Maybe my next post will be about some other 10% thing like my weird dreams (probably not on the theory that listening to someone else describe their dreams in excruciating detail is right up there with watching paint dry.) or my top ten favorite ways to procrastinate.

Till then, Dear Readers.  (all four of you.)


*Did you know that way the hell too many people don't know the difference between "discreet" and "discrete?"  I discovered this recently.  I don't want to be all grammar - Nazi and all, but come on, people.  Then again, I think upwards of 95% of Facebook users can't properly use your/you're, so maybe I'm just asking too much.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Other People's Children

Tonight we are hosting two boys from a touring choir group.  It's about day 5 of a 17 day tour with about 30 boys, ages 10 - 16 and holy moley is it well organized.  The boys are polite and one of them is talkative and both of them like "The Simpsons" and want to know about Cedar Point so we aren't at a loss for conversational topics.  They've also been well taught to introduce themselves and shake hands which I think is quite possibly the most valuable thing they'll take away from this whole experience.
I was in choirs as a kid and I can recall my own mom hosting kids from a traveling high school marching band so when one of my colleagues was asking around if anyone could be a host family it seemed like something we should do.  Fortunately, J was amenable to the idea, if a little baffled by the whole concept.  We really only have them here for a few waking hours both days, so it's not like it's all that taxing, but I'm still glad that I can usually count on him to be a good egg about such things, which is one of the many reasons I love him. 
It feels a little strange to be on this side of the kids-who-aren't-related-to-me-staying-at-our-house equation.  I've had other people's children here before, of course, but always with their parents here, too.  So I am, for a couple nights, "The Mom."  Why this should feel different from any other night I'm not really sure, since I'm "The Mom" every night.  But still.  
It also seems a little amazing that someone else who has never met me, and can only really trust me by proxy of proxy of proxy, has entrusted me with their pre-teenage children.  It speaks of people with a deep faith in the goodness of others, and enough trust in their own parenting skills that they're willing to send their children off into the world for two weeks without them.
This is even more profound given that the boys are not to use computers or phones during the entire tour.  No email, no texting no phone calls home.  The only way they are supposed to communicate with their parents is via actual letters.  I'm not sure why they have this rule, or even if it's a good one, but it makes the whole thing just a little bit more amazing in this age of instant all-the-time connectivity.
So for now, I am The Mom for these two boys and will get to practice having near-teenagers to get out of bed for a couple mornings.  
I hope someday someone will do this for my kids, too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This Is Why I Never Get Anything Done

I'm fairly certain that there is an app for my phone that will let me record notes for myself.  I would find this app tremendously useful since I am constantly thinking about things that I could write up into a relatively easy blog post, if only I could keep it in my brain for longer than a few seconds.  By the time I actually get to my computer at the end of the day, I haven't the faintest idea of what it was I thought would be so droll to write about earlier.
So I'd like to get this app, should it exist.  I've been thinking about looking for it, which wouldn't take long to do, except that I usually don't remember to even look for it while I have my phone with me.  Unless I'm in my car.  Driving.  Then I think of all the great things I could be doing with my phone at that moment if I weren't so inconveniently distracted by navigating a 1,000 lb vehicle through heavy traffic at high speeds.
Times like right now, when it's very quiet (the kids are at daycare) and I have nothing else pressing to do (except all the things I was planning to get done over Spring Break which I have yet to get started on) would be perfect for finding this app on my phone.  Except that I don't have my phone with me.  I never remember to keep my phone with me after I walk in the door.  I leave it in my purse, or on the counter or even in the car and just forget about it entirely until I am sitting down and want it again.  But I'm sitting now, see?  If I get up again to get the phone then I'm liable to see the gargantuan mess in the kitchen, and remember the pile of laundry sitting in the living room.  While I'm taking care of those chores, I'll walk through gunk on my floor (my floor is always messy.  Always.) and decide it needs to be mopped.  But before it can be mopped it has to be swept first, and when I go to get the broom I'll realize what a mess the laundry room is because we store the play-doh in there, and the kids were tasked with putting it away yesterday.  Which means that there are 3, 478,621 little play-doh related toys strewn about my laundry room, making it difficult to do anything else in there.  By the time all of that is cleaned up, I'll remember to put in another load of actual laundry, and see that there's a huge stack of ironing to do if I ever want to wear any of my dress shirts again.
Except that the good ironing board is upstairs so I'll carry the big pile up, and turn on the tv so I can watch something while I'm ironing.  This is not effective since we only get 4 channels on the upstairs tv since they switched over to digital signal or whatever.  They sent us some notice a year ago about getting a free box.  I asked J to take care of it, figuring this fit under the heading of "All Things Technological" and was thus his job.  He classified it under "All Things Having to do With Household-Related Nuisances" and reassigned it to me, thus we have a fairly useless tv in our bedroom.  All that aside, being upstairs reminds me that DD's bed isn't made up since she wet it last night, and I still have laundry to put away from the last iteration of laundry.  All the while, I'll be thinking of clever and interesting things to write in a blog post, but forgetting all of them because I don't have the app that records me.  I won't even have my phone with me.
You see how it goes.  It's the grownup version of "You Give a Mouse a Cookie."
By the time I'm done with getting everything and nothing really done, it'll be time to go somewhere and I'll get into the car, whereupon I will discover my phone.  But I won't have time to do anything with it because I need to be driving.
Many of the things in my life are like this.  Calling handymen, hiring local kids to do yardwork, all of the little tasky things that pile up in a household.  By the time my brain settles enough after a day to think about all of them...it's 10:30 a night and too late to call anyone.
And even if it weren't, wherever I'd be, I still wouldn't have my phone.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Something I Forgot....

I originally wrote this post a month ago, and then promptly forgot about it in the rush of getting ready for Christmas. It's a nice little bit, though, and cheerful, so I thought I'd just go ahead and post it late.
Word to the wise, though, now that's it's January, don't vulture my parking spot.  I will consider it my personal mission to make you regret it.


I braved the mall yesterday to find a gift for my Dad.  I'd originally gone someplace else, but it turns out the store I'd wanted had turned into a WalMart or something, and I had to go to my backup, Macy's.  Before heading to the dreaded Mall-at-Christmastime, I treated myself to a walk around World Market, which has lots of little trinket-y things, and an interesting blend of foreign, gourmet and just plain bizarre foodstuffs, and is a nice place to sort of wander-shop for those people you'd like to buy a gift for, but have no idea what to get.  Also a good spot for fun stocking-stuffers.  So that was nice.
The mall was, well, the mall at Christmastime.  People were parked everywhere, some even just gave up at finding spaces and added ones on at the ends of rows till they pretty much blocked the little roads that are supposed to go around the lot.  I can't really blame them.  You gotta be flexible about parking at Christmastime.  I wound up parking in the very last slot in a row, but I didn't care.  It was nearly 60 degrees out and sunny. (Really.  It was gorgeous.  No coat.  On December 20th in Ohio.  While this doesn't bode well for the polar bears and penguins, I guiltily enjoyed it.)
Other drivers were carefully stalking people leaving the mall, tailing them at 3mph while a long line of other frustrated drivers piled up behind them, making the shopper look like the Grand Marshall of the Parade From Hell.  Now, usually I have great loathing for people who "vulture" parking spots, and will even go out of my way to be as slow as humanly possible (easy when you have two toddlers along) when packing up, buckling in, etc.  I do this only when there is a spot, or even an entire empty parking lot starting three slots down from my car.  I have had a guy vulture my spot to save himself the trouble of walking an extra four spaces.  Granted, he could have been someone with difficulty walking, but given the robustness of his gestures towards me and my kids, I kinda doubt it.
At Christmastime, though, the anti-vulture rule goes out the window.  There is no other spot, and the person behind me isn't looking to get in closer, they're just trying to park at all and get into the damn mall to buy something their kid decided he needed yesterday.  So I have sympathy.
And, in truth, it wasn't that bad.  I didn't have my kids along.  I found what I wanted.  A lady next to me in line at Macy's offered me the use of her 15% off coupon, and it didn't even require that I have a Macy's card.  Five bucks off!  At Christmas!  How sweet is that?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Things I Wish Someone Might Have Mentioned

I spent some time recently with a pregnant friend -- her first -- and we got to talking about this and that and it occurred to me that there were several things I wish someone had bothered to tell me.  I mean, I'm sure this information was out there somewhere, but while I was pregnant, it just wasn't something that stuck well in my brain.
There's all this advice out there about parenting, and a lot of it just served to make me feel guilty because I wasn't doing all of it, wasn't feeling the way everyone said I should feel, or just wasn't doing the right things the right way and well enough for them to count.  This is not that kind of advice list.  This list is for the parents who are quietly terrified that they are going to seriously eff things up, but can't tell anyone, especially their spouse, because that would just be, well, awful.*

1.  You are about to be a member of a club that is simultaneously well known and completely unknown at the same time.  Everyone knows that there are parents out there, but until you actually are one you really, really don't get it.  I'm not trying to make parents out as having some magnificent mystique that make them better than everyone else, 'cause they aren't, but parents just feel differently about the world once their offspring is part of it.  I can't explain it, but it's partially a feeling of absolute vulnerability that never goes away.  
2.  If you are a pregnant mom right now, you are tired.  Growing another person is tiring.  It's exhausting. You want to sleep all the time.  This may not seem possible, but once the baby is born, you will be more tired.  More exhausted.  All. The. Time.  The good thing?  It gets better. It will take a few years, but you will actually get to sleep through the night again.  Until you have another baby.
3.  Being exhausted and sleep-deprived will make you crabby.  This is okay.  Your baby will survive crabbiness.  And there will be times that you will hate your baby.   Believe it or not, this is okay, too.  You are not a bad parent for having this feeling.  (You are only a bad parent if you give in and act on it.  Despite what some religions and parenting gurus espouse, thoughts don't count.)  This, like sleepless nights, is temporary.  It goes away.  You really will, or do love your baby.  But hours and hours of endless, unwavering screaming for no reason when you are absolutely spent would give anyone the urge to fling baby down a flight of stairs.  In your deranged state you will think that at least in jail you could sleep.  Instead you put baby down safely in her crib and shut the door for 15 minutes.  You regain some sanity, and baby will survive a few minutes of alone time.  Let the guilt go for this one, okay?
4.  Speaking of loving your baby, not everyone feels the instant overwhelming love that everyone gushes about.  Maybe all you feel is panic, or just a sense of unreality.  (Having a human being come out of you is sort of an unreal experience, really.) Give it time.  It will come.  Do all the things a parent who was wildly in love with their baby would do--coo and cuddle and say all sorts of loving things, sing and smile and rock him gently, feed and stroke and play with tiny toes and fingers and gradually you will realize that you do, in fact, love this baby more than you've loved anyone in your entire life.  If this doesn't happen, and isn't working, and you just feel, well, nothing, you might have post-partum depression.  (see #5)
5.  (Caveat:  I have never had post-partum depression, but I do know people who have, and I know, for sure, it is REAL.  It's real as a tumor and about as funny.)  Post-partum depression is when your body chemistry doesn't get lined up right and your brain doesn't make the right kind of neurotransmitters to keep you functioning properly.  It dampens everything.  Blankets your mental landscape with a layer of dust so thick that to think or feel properly about anything takes so much energy that you can't do it, especially when your energy is at low ebb to begin with because you are trying to take care of a baby and not sleeping.  If you feel like this, GET HELP.   The problem is chemical and there is better living to be had through chemistry.   And feel free to give a resounding "f*ck you" to anyone who tells you that you should just be able to get over it on your own.  If they did, well, bully for them, but this is about you and you are entitled to the help you need.
6.  This one is entirely of a practical nature, and has to do with women's bodies.  So if you're a guy and would rather not know, skip ahead.  Okay, ladies, now that we're alone -- I had always thought that during pregnancy your period just stops.  Turns out it doesn't.  It just stops coming out.  While you're pregnant, there's this big buildup of blood in there, along with fluid and baby and god knows what else.  And it all comes out.  For me, I had two c-sections and thus did not push any of it out along with my children.  I suppose some women do.  For the next several days I had to wear the world's ugliest lingerie, a diaper-thick papery/cloth-diapery thing with webbing to hold it up, and I had to change it several times a day.  It is, in a word, gross.  And disturbing. (Okay, that's two words, but it really is.  It is odd to bleed that much and not have it be of concern to medical personnel.)  The point is, nobody told me this would happen.  It was just "here you are, dearie" from the OB nurses like I should be figuring out why the hell I want these god-awful things and they're all surprised that I wasn't expecting this.
7.  You will sometimes suck as a parent.  Despite all your best intentions, you will do things wrong.  You'll stick your kid with diaper pins, or accidentally bang their little noggin into a doorway (they stick out a lot farther than you think when you're cradling them in your arms.)  You'll overheat the formula and leave something dangerous lying around and make the bathwater too cold.  You'll lose your temper and yell at your toddler, and maybe even swat his behind because you just can't stand it anymore.  You'll let her eat nothing but cheese for three days because that is all she will eat without screaming for 15 solid minutes.  You will forget to buy diapers or  bring a change of clothing, and you will hire at least one incompetent babysitter.  It happens.  Not that it's good to make a habit of being forgetful, and it's a good idea to learn from your mistakes, but it's not a good idea to beat yourself up about it and lie awake at night berating yourself -- or your spouse.  Neither of you are going to be getting enough sleep as it is, so forgive yourself and each other.
8.  Keeping number 7 in mind, be very, very careful of how you judge another parent.  The one who has a coatless three-year-old in 30 degree weather as she hustles the 20 yards into daycare?  The one who gives her child melatonin at night?  The one whose floor hasn't been vacuumed in months?  The one who dozes on the couch for two hours while her kids watch Sesame Street?   Don't judge.  Especially if it's before you've given birth and tried this for yourself.  There could well be a some day when you pray that nobody is watching you be a parent because you know you'd be found wanting.
9.  You don't suck as bad as you think you do.  If your baby has colic and does nothing but scream for 3 hours a night every damn night no matter what you do, it's not because you suck as a parent.  It's because mother nature is sometimes a real bitch for no reason, and your baby just has colic.  Babies come with lots of built in things, and sometimes you get an easygoing baby, and sometimes you don't.  If you get the hard kind, it's not because you deserve it or that you're doing something terribly wrong. You know more than you think you do, and you're better at this than you think.  Have faith.
10.  Last, but not least, you will be getting a lot of advice.  A LOT.  You might seek it out, or have it thrust upon you by well-meaning grandmas, mothers-in-law, sisters, friends and strangers.  Keep this phrase handy "Oh?  Okay.  Thanks for the advice.  I'll keep it in mind."  Then you can deep six anything you think is not for you, or just total crap.  Feel free to do it now.  Won't hurt my feelings a bit.


*there are parents out there who are truly awful.  They do wretched things to their children out of their own mental illness, addiction or raging narcissism.  If you are one of those parents then please go get help now. You can start here.