Thursday, April 29, 2010

I want an iPad. Of course I do.

Clearly we love our iPods. And also our iPhones.

From left to right:
My Mini (that I got for my birthday in 2004 from my parents and was my first iPod and one of the best b-day gifts EVER. It still works as long as it's plugged in, but it will no longer hold a charge. I LOVED that thing and still have the cute little Urban Outfitters cover I used to carry it in and the armband I used to jog with it), my Classic (I got this in 2006 from a textbook company because my class did a pilot study with our textbook on iTunes-- it didn't work, but the iPod is still going strong almost 4 years later. I used it as a brag book when Harry was a baby because I had just learned how to sync it with my photo library, and I still have a slide show of him from the summer and early fall of 06), Ben's Nano (whom he named Valerie-- a 2009 birthday gift that I now use in my car), Ben's Touch (he got himself this only months after I got him the Nano, hence the ungifting), my phone, and Ben's phone (which is cooler than my phone because it is a 3Gs, and Ben always acted like iPhones were stupid until he got one, and now he knows they're totally awesome).

We're just loyal Mac customers all round, I guess. Notice my computer is wounded and needs a sticker to cover its gaping hole? Yeah. it is. I need to take it to Best Buy, but I have dreams of replacing it with a MacBook Air...

But back to the iPad. Do you have one? Do you love it? Tell me why or why not!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Harry had his first T-Ball practice last night.

When I got home from class to change clothes, Jack met me in the laundry room. "Mom!" he screamed (yes-- we've gone from Mama to Mommy to Mom). "Ball!"

Ben and Harry were just as excited, and we piled in the car and drove to the cutest little park with a cute little jungle gym and a cute little bike path and a totally precious baseball diamond.

I thought it was going to be disastrous because Ben and I were a little cranky from a lack of dinner (I got home too late to eat, and Ben got home early and fed the kids but instead of eating with them, he cleaned up the kitchen, picked up their toys, and got stuff ready for their bath because he is awesome). Harry and Jack were excited, but practice ensured they'd be about 40 minutes behind their bedtime schedule, which is usually a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing. I was particularly worried about Jack because he kept asking "Me? Ball?" and seemed a little perturbed when we told him were just going to watch Harry play. He was somewhat mollified by the jungle gym, and by mollified I mean a total pain in the ass because one of us had to watch him instead of watching practice. We took turns; it was fine.

Better than fine. Completely perfect, actually. A textbook blissful suburban evening. The reason people have kids is for nights like this, watching your kids play with their friends learning skills you learned as a kid, laughing at confused little people trying to figure out the order of the bases, cheering on preschool friends and exchanging smiles, chit-chat, and exclamations of "isn't this the cutest thing you've ever seen?" with their parents.

Harry didn't know his name when the coach called roll and asked for Harrison. He also didn't want to share his super awesome Hot Wheels bat (but he did, grudgingly and under duress). As soon as he was done batting, he started yelling, "Can I go to the park now?"

Jack picked me a bouquet of dandelions and then plopped down on the grass and patted the ground beside him. "Mom," he said. "There. Snuggle." He sat on my lap in the waning sun, and we watched Harry at bat for the first time ever. When he hit the ball, Jack burst into applause and screamed "Harry!"and we watched him run the bases like a drunk, and I wondered how the park could be more joyful than it was at that disgustingly wholesome moment.

Then I turned my head toward the playground and saw a puppy going down the slide. No joke.

Harry and his friends have 8 weeks of spring training (spring training! how freaking cute!) before they start playing other teams, and that's good because they need a little work on catching, throwing, hitting, running-- just a few minor details.

The kids took a practice run of the bases before they worked on fundamentals.

Not sure what they were talking about. Strategy probably.

Harry learned to throw overhand at Little Gym where his teachers told him to listen to the ball. He always pauses by his ear and swears the ball says "throw me."

I was stunned by how well he listened and followed directions

I spent a fair amount of time on Jack duty

He was taking the whole experience extremely seriously.

Throwing? Catching? Not sure.

I'm pretty sure he was fielding his own toss here

He's a teeny little baseball player!

You might think a ball rolled between his legs, but he was actually just resting his head in the dirt.

He looked like a little bobble-head doll in his giant helmet.

We were definitely as excited as Harry -- maybe even MORE excited-- when it was his turn to bat.

The coach showed Harry how to hold his bat, and Harry listened very seriously.

Harry hit the ball on his first try!

Harry took off running toward first base at the coach's insistence, only stopping to admire his hit for a second. He was totally confused when the next batter got to first base with him, but then he realized-- with a little help from Ben and the coaches-- that he needed to go to second. Then in a few minutes, to third.

Running in the general direction of home-ish.

Then they switched sides, and Harry got to do a little fielding. He's throwing it to the catcher.

Yep. He's doing a dirt summersault.

"Dude. My glove is totally ready. Where's the ball?"

Nah, Harry didn't slide into base or dive for a ball. Just some more dirt frolicking in lieu of fielding. Although in lieu of is not totally accurate when no one hits the ball past the coach's foot (except this one girl who struck out a few times and then smacked it into deep center field. Awesome).

Jack running away from the field. Again.

By the time it devolved into total glove-on-the-head screwing around time, practice was over, and we all adjourned to the playground.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Jack spends most of his pretend-play time getting ready to go "Bye," as he says. He puts on his shoes, his sunglasses, his purse. Grabs his wallet, his camera, a couple of phones, and a plastic sheet of baseball cards. Gives Bebe a kiss, and he's off. Screaming "Bye" and sliding down the stairs on his tummy or shutting himself in his toy closet. He returns with a plate of play food and the instructions to, "Yummy! Now!" Before it's time to "Bye!" again.

He spent a while this morning clomping over to the mirror, trying to decide if he liked the pale pink pumps or the hot pink flats.

In the end, he went with the basket instead.

He helped me clean on Sunday by helpfully sweeping the carpet with a broom. He insisted on wearing Ben's racquetball sweatband because cleaning is sweaty work.

Harry and Jack are both in love with Jack's new McDonalds play set, and I am in love with the Hipstamatic app for my phone. How cool is this picture? I think I am going to frame a blow-up of it and hang it on my kitchen wall.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Snack Well

I have a snack problem. My problem is that I snack on all the wrong things. All carbs all the time. And not good carbs like fruit-- empty carbs, like these snack bars I ostensibly buy for the kids:

Sure they're only 130 calories, but it's like 130 calories of AIR. As soon as I scarf one down in three bites (which, come to think of it, could also be a snack problem), I am hungry again.

So I go straight for the mini Snickers ice cream bars or the honey wheat pretzels. Seriously, I eat a bag like the ones below and a bag of the Rold Gold version every week. (Ben helps. We dip them in soft cheese while watching our DVR'd stash of shows we miss because we're wrestling our children through the bath and bedtime routine)

Or I'll miss my morning snack (seriously, people, I need a snack at like 9:30 like clockwork everyday) because we're running late at the gym, and I'll come home and eat 4-6 pouches of these little cookies (they are SO GOOD with a steaming hot cup of coffee-- they just melt in your mouth).

And don't even get me started on the wonder that is the Joe-Joe. I started buying them instead of Oreos because they are chemical, preservative and HFCS-free. Now I buy them because they are DELICIOUS. On Saturday after lunch I told Ben I felt kind of bad about myself because I ate half a dozen of them (dunked in milk) for dessert. He said, "You should just say 6. Sounds way better."

So here's my plan. Whenever I want a snack or some dessert, I am going to eat a piece of fruit or a serving of veggies first. Then, if I still want whatever snack I was going to have, I'll have it.

I stocked my fruit drawer-- and already washed my apples and oranges, so there is NO EXCUSE for letting them languish

Grabbed various kinds of berries

And got my veggies in order.

I even bought mini-raisin boxes so I can implement this plan on the road.

I even washed my carrots, blanched my pea pods, and sliced my peppers to I would have veggies ready to be munched by the handful, mindlessly in front of the open fridge if that's how I want to roll.

So far, I have done okay. Ben and I ate some delicious fattening spicy Chinese takeout after the kids went to bed. Afterward, I usually respond to the mini Snickers ice cream bars screaming my name, but last night, I ate an orange, and that did it for me.

Today after the gym, I had an apple and only one pouch of cookies.

While making lunch, I ate cold veggies instead of handfuls of pretzels while I assembled our sandwiches. For me, the key is to have healthy snacks that are as accessible as all the bags of crap I buy at the store and to be accountable, which is why I am blogging about it. Any other healthy snack ideas for me?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Remind me, won't you, that I had this giant latte at 2:00 pm. You know, when I write an entry freaking out about insomnia at like 3 am.

That paper with the scrawled red writing is my essay. I had such a nice time marking up student book reviews the other day that I turned my red felt tipped marker on myself because I have such a hard time editing on the screen.

I signed up to be part of a research group for a conference next month, and I have to email a draft of this essay to all the people in my research group. Like, tomorrow.

This is the third-- and best-- chapter of my dissertation, and it is really hard for me to dig it out of its carefully assembled context so that it can stand alone. Especially with this extremely loud group of old men behind me talking about Casablanca. The place, not the movie.

It's about discourses of health, democracy, and family planning in Planned Parenthood's WWII literature. Basically, images of ideal families became shorthand for national security-- a democracy could only be as strong as its families. Women's wartime work outside the home was both praised and marginalized, both publicized and depoliticized (by the strategic ignoring of childcare issues for example). At the same time, returning soldiers were enshrined as both familial heads and breadwinners, encouraged to be active fathers and warned that they needed a nag-free home and an easy transition to civilian life. This is the historical moment when women started working a double shift and men gracefully bowed out of housework after clocking out at 5 pm. It's important to think about what Planned Parenthood said about birth control in the middle of the baby boom-- the organization had a lot to say about who should have lots of babies and who should abstain for the good of the nation. I argue that Planned Parenthood rhetoric during this time help articulate notions of the white middle class and segregate work by gender and that these cultural contributions have left a legacy that were still working through.

Hmmm. That was way more concise than the 46 pages I am staring at next to my laptop. Neat. Thanks internets.

Oh! Guess who totally screwed herself out of preschool summer camp by waiting 6 weeks after enrollment opened to try to enroll? That'd be me, who currently has one kid signed up for Tuesdays and Thursdays and the other one in a class on Mondays and Wednesdays. Eff that. Hope we get off the wait lists soon :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Check ups, conferences, workshops, and milk.

As you can see from the picture above, Jack is still madly in love with Bebe.

Harry still looks like his baby self when he sleeps. Here he is sleeping last night:

Here he is sleeping at 10 months old:

In other news, Jack had his 2 year well-child check up, and it was great. He's great. The doctor could understand everything he said and thinks his speech is completely age appropriate. (Harry was waaaaaaay ahead for his age, so it hard to not see Jack as behind. But he's not. He's great!). The doctor asked Jack how many fingers he has, and Jack held up one hand and said "Five." It was pretty cute. He also counts by saying. "Dew, five, one," in a very sing-songy tone. So, I think he has my math skillz.

Just like when Harry was 2, the doc advised us to switch from whole milk to skim. We ignored that advice with harry because it felt weird. We switched Jack to 2% like H, but now we're wondering about going skim for all (that's what we drink. If by drink you mean sprinkle a few drops in our coffee.) I looked it up, and the AAP recommends skim. What about you? What do you give?

We had a parent-child conference at one of Harry's schools, and it cracked us up. The teachers told us that Harry spills his milk at snack. Not because he can't drink out of a cup but because he gets distracted and gestures wildly and dumps it over. This made us laugh because he does the same thing with his water at dinner. Every.sinlge.night. There has been no spill progress at home or at school. But he's really good at cleaning up spills with paper towels...

I attended a workshop on turning a dissertation into a book yesterday that made me almost throw up. It was actually really great; it reinforced a lot of what my advisor has been saying since the beginning of my project (she did a fantastic job of directing my diss with an eye toward future publication). I had a lot of moments of clarity and one crystalizing moment when I could see the path from where my project sits right now to where my book will sit on the shelf at Borders. That's why I wanted to hurl. It's a long path. One of the speakers at the workshop is a series editor for Cambridge University Press, and he was talking about how a dissertation is NOT a book because it's like a driving test for PhDs. He was making fun of the obsessive annotation in humanities dissertations, and I thought of all the nights I'd be working late at my office and I'd come home and Ben would ask me how many pages I wrote, and I'd tell him 8, but they were all endnotes. I realized, too, how incredibly lucky I have been to teach my rhetoric of reproductive rights class this past year. I have been able to wrestle with a lot of theoretical issues and engage in some collaborative thinking with 2 semestersful (that's a new unit of measurement I just invented. Yup, that's Dr. Mommy to you, mister.). of advanced undergraduates. All this time, I thought I have been slacking on my work, but really? It has been part of my consciousness and my teaching everyday. Reframing my own relationship to my project was really, really helpful and healthy. On the other side of writing my dissertation, I can finally see the forrest for the trees, and I better understand the scope of the field I am entering and how I can place my contribution in it. Writing a dissertation is in part about finding your voice as an expert. Writing your first book is about making the dissertation matter for many more people than its original audience of 6 experts. When I am done with my book, I wonder how much it will look like the dissertation that inspired it.

But back to the milk-- what do your kids drink?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Driven to distraction

OMGah. I have been such a half-assed mom lately. I'll let Jack play in a box all morning if he'll just be a little quiet.

I am SO DISTRACTED because April is so incredibly shitty this year. Every year. When I was an undergrad, April was a bitch because I had 2 national speech tournaments (DORK). In grad school, it sucked because all my seminar papers were due. When I was done with course work, it was a stressful because I was usually pregnant or having a baby. Last year, April was the worst month of my life because I turned my dissertation in to my committee and spent weeks awaiting their response, writing my graduation speech, and gaining-- no joke-- 9 pounds while I ate my feelings.

This year, I have, oh, EVERY PROJECT I HAVE STARTED SINCE JANUARY to complete, two class preps for next year that I need to finish by the end of the semester because I have a childcare-free summer on my horizon, and a million things to grade.

I have come to the conclusion that April is the cruelest month in academia every year.

In January, the new semester seems endless, and it is easy to take on too many projects, serve on too many committees, and overestimate how much time remains until summer. Then all of the sudden it's April and you are kneeling in the public speaking textbook stacks in the library trying to put together the most perfect course reader EVER for your summer advanced speech composition class while 2 essays sit on your desk awaiting edits before they can be mailed off and your students are turning in book reviews that you must read in less than 12 hours. For, um, example.

This week, I only happened to remember it was Harry's turn to bring snack (happily, I remembered this fact while at Target, so I could load up on fruit juice and HFCS-laden snack food). It was a total accident that I remembered his special day-- a happy accident because I cannot even think how terrible a discovery that would have been as I dropped him off at his classroom sans snack and show-and-tell item.

Probably it would have been about as terrible as last week when I brought him to school fully dressed in clothes on PAJAMA DAY because I am a monster who loves to torture children. He was so sad. I had to drive 20 minutes home, get his PJs and drive 20 minutes back. He was half-heartedly playing on the playground with his class, and his teachers said he didn't want to go outside because he was afraid I wouldn't be able to find him.

As a result, I was almost late to my massage. I KNOW. My life is very, very difficult.

I have been getting massages every 3 weeks as part of a complimentary and traditional medicine regimen to manage my anxiety. So far, not bad. My doctor thinks with some talk therapy, massage, yoga, and Xanax, I should be boarding a plane in no time. Where am I going? Probably Milwaukee or Chicago, just for practice, but after that-- the possibilities are limitless. Especially when there's no more ash over Europe.

Harry votes for deep space, but I was thinking someplace with a beach.