I don't really know what I am musing on these days. It's more like an irregular stream of consciousness thing...it seems to be working.


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w September 27, 2002

Virginity and New Hamster

Today has been rather surreal on all fronts...to begin with, I gave a quiz on the American colonies, and I organized in a Venn diagram format---thought this was kind of an easy way to compare and contrast. Well...apparently not. However, there were definitely a couple of howlers today---read the title again. Did you know that those were two of the original Thirteen Colonies? Yep.

I think New Hamster is my favorite, I just imagine a whole bunch of hamsters running around New England burning witches and eating clam chowder.

Then I mixed up the dog's eye ointment and Baby Orajel. Yes, I did. It's embarrassing as hell to admit, but there it is. After hopping around the house in a froth, I called Poison Control and they set my mind at ease...Bean isn't displaying any allergic reaction to the ointment, so it was likely just a stupid mistake. But definitely par for the course this week.


by Heather Hoffman at 9:07 PM

w September 24, 2002

Rage and Ranting in California

This should probably be on a totally separate blog, specifically designed for bitching, but I'm mad and frustrated enough right now to just say screw it and post it here.

Two things:
1. I now understand why women do not go back to work after having kids.
2. If you are looking for childcare and you find someone you feel will work, PULL THE TRIGGER IMMEDIATELY. Don't wait on someone else, cut your losses from that sector and trust your gut with the first one. We lost a good full-time person because we didn't act fast enough, and now the part-time person is being pretty flaky about whether or not she wants to work with us, and about hours, and about everything in general. So we're back to page one.

And I'm not feeling fulfilled or any of that BS from my job, I'm just feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, cranky, weepy, depressed, stressed and like one damn crappy mother.

This is so definitely not a Huzzah.

by Heather Hoffman at 8:00 PM

w September 21, 2002

Biped Bean

Discovered a fun game to play with Bean last night---she was in her crib, and I had the railing down and was pulling her to a sitting position and back down again (she HATES being on her stomach, so I'm trying to build upper-body strength somehow). Well, she managed to get her feet against the crib bumper and pushed herself up into a standing position. Colored me surprised, to say the least. I mean, she always likes being put into a standing position, especially if she is facing outwards, but this was the first time she had really put a lot of effort into it herself.

We played this a couple of times, and boy, was she jazzed. Lots of squeals and laughs and loud vowels...maybe she'll just start pulling herself up on furniture and totally bypass crawling and scooting, who knows. It's just weird that she has that much control over her legs and yet refuses to be on her stomach or flip herself front to back/back to front. I would like to figure out a way to bulk up her arm muscles, though, as she isn't using them quite as much as her legs. Any ideas from cyberspace?

At any rate, it always makes the day more sunshiny when she gets excited about things.

by Heather Hoffman at 11:06 AM

w September 20, 2002

Farmers of the Constitution

The school year progresses, and with it the momentary joys of teaching, i.e., student blunders. The title of this entry comes from a rash of homework answers I received two years ago, in which the "farmers" of the Constitution set up the "farmwork" of this nation. The odd thing was, I probably read three or four papers before it dawned on me that this wasn't exactly what was meant. I guess my grading-taxed brain had registered the translocation as "well, yes, many of the Founding Fathers were farmers, at least of the gentlemen variety. This makes sense". Hm.

This entry's choice blunder isn't all that funny, but I am trying to maximize my procrastination effort, so I'll try to make it funnier than it should be. One of my students in 3rd period (the hopped-up-on-speed-class) informed me in writing that "Spanish people of the 16th century got their spices from Asia". I just couldn't help imagining some Renaissance husband pulling on his armor and sword, hollering out to the kitchen, "Chiquita, I'm off to Asia to pick up the spices. Do we need anything else? If I don't make it back, have a mass said for me, hey?"

See, I told you it wasn't funny. But I've wasted a good ten minutes from slogging through quizzes that are convinced America, India, and Europe were the three main countries who sent explorers to the New World. I guess the EU would agree with part of that statement...

by Heather Hoffman at 9:14 PM

w September 17, 2002

Chomp Chomp

So as I was drying Bean off after her bath tonight, I happened to peek into her mouth and saw what I think are the points of a first tooth just barely skimming the surface of her lower gum. No wonder she's been such a twit lately. The thing about teething is, it doesn't really sound so bad when you just toss it off, like "oh, he's just teething". I mean, we all went through it, right? But then take a look at a tooth that is just trying to come through for the first time, and believe you me, it's kind of a disgusting and painful looking thing. Even the barest beginnings.

And the poor kid has what, 31 more of these to deal with over time?

by Heather Hoffman at 7:25 PM

w September 12, 2002

Dr Mom

But really, I was doctoring myself...managed to get the first cold of the season; not surprising considering my profession and the fact that I'm still not getting quality sleep. At any rate, my husband talked me into staying home Wednesday, and it definitely helped. It got me thinking, however, about moms (or dads) who are the sole caregivers for their children, whether they're single parents or not. I had the luxury of feeding Bean and then handing her off to my husband or some friends who were staying with us, and I was able to get some sleep and thus get better. What happens when one can't do that? I guess it's true that Moms (or Dads) just can't get sick, or if you do, you take a bunch of Tylenol and keep going. I will say that I got a small taste of it at night because I still had to wake up and feed Bean, but my prince of a husband usually went and got her for me so I just had to prop myself and fall back asleep as she ate. Thanks, babe.

At any rate, my heart goes out to those parents who don't get this kind of support, and I wish there was some great answer...maybe it goes back to my hope for universal quality childcare, or maybe we all just need to take a look at our community and neighbors and how we interact. We live in a fabulous neighborhood with people who really and truly would help us if and when we needed it, and I hope that we reciprocate---and I know this isn't a common occurrence. Talking with my students about the one-year anniversary of September 11th kind of brought this home as well...in the days after the tragedy, it really seemed as though American communities pulled together in a way that they maybe hadn't for a generation or two. I only hope that we can keep some measure of that in the next year and beyond.

The other good thing about staying home is that I got a chance to play with Bean while she was awake and happy, and it was truly exciting---I was dangling a silver Man in Moon rattle in front of her and she was snagging it with about 75% accuracy---cool stuff. She was also grabbing it with the proper grasp, opposable thumb and everything. When she shook her hand and it rattled, the look on her face was priceless---much smiling and giggling.

Right now she's napping, after fighting Daddy for a bit...I do miss her during the days at work :(...but I won't go downstairs and make a lot of noise in hopes of waking her up :)

by Heather Hoffman at 5:21 PM

w September 08, 2002

Just Call Me Martha

Well, okay, just call my magazine collection Martha. It's so embarrassing to admit, but yes, I do subscribe to Martha Stewart Living, and I had this weird urge to reread a whole ton of them the other night. So, the dictates of a New England harridan (to paraphrase one of our good friends) are strewn about the den, and I feel sort of desperate looking at them. Why? Because with an infant, a job, and a dog that eats crap from the side of the road frequently, my house is never going to meet Martha's standards. Then again, when is Martha Stewart going to swing by my house? Maybe if she gets sent to whatever the female San Quentin is...all right, that was a completely stupid joke, and not that funny. Apologies. At any rate, I don't know what it is that compels me to want my house and life to fit into those tidy, twee standards---latent Southern belle gene? I will say that the older I get, the more often I hear ancestral Southern drawls over my shoulder when I do things or plan things. It's not a bad thing, just an interesting thing.

For Christmas this past year my mother got me an apron that reads "Just Call Me Martha". I wear it in what I think is jest, and then every so often I find myself shrieking at my poor husband, my poor dogs, my poor kitchen, wondering why it is that my life is in such disarray. It's ridiculous, though, isn't it? Madame Martha has an army of help to maintain that lifestyle, and god knows the rest of us wouldn't even know what to do with that horde, even if we did have them. What honestly does matter? The fact that Bean grins hugely when I go in to fetch her in the morning, that my dogs want to snuggle up to me all the time, that my husband and I find each other fun and interesting still, that I'm a darn good teacher...and that tonight I wanted to make a pecan pie for dessert and I discovered that I didn't have to run out to the store for any of the ingredients.

Just call me Martha.

by Heather Hoffman at 5:47 PM

w September 05, 2002

Working Mom

Now, before I go any further, this Huzzah is not meant to denigrate mothers who work at/in the home. Believe me, that is just as much work as slogging it for a paycheck, but since I've gone back to teaching, this entry is going to be about working outside the home and still trying to be a good parent.

So, school has been in session for a week, and I am totally busy all day---which is good, because I don't have time to miss Bean until the end of the day, and then I only have about an hour and a half before I see her again. That being said, I must have been in denial about how freaking exhausting it is to be sleep deprived AND working full time in an environment where I can't "sleep when the baby sleeps". I'm so catatonic by the end of the day that I think I get really amusing and witty and honest with people. Really, for a polite Canadian child, this is a huge step. For instance, I was in a meeting today that just sort of rambled on and around and through the loop and back up to form the bunny ears, blah blah blah blah blah. I caught myself saying things like "Look" and "here's the point" and "realistically speaking"...but the odd thing is, people seem to listen more and better when one IS blunt. Go figure. I'm just glad tomorrow is Friday, not least because some very dear friends of ours are getting back from five weeks in India---huzzah!

As for the actual content of my working day, well, I have the great good fortune to have five fantastic classes and one total crackhead class. I mean crackhead in the sense of complete and unbridled zinginess, all period, every period. Thank god it's a smallish class, otherwise I'd be about as zingy.

I am just really impressed with the level of analytic skill and synthesis that my students are displaying, and I think most of the credit needs to go to their 7th grade teachers, so if any of them are reading this, thank you. When the students are this much fun to teach, it's a whole hell of a lot easier to drag myself out of bed at 6 am after a night of intermittent squawks from the nursery. So huzzah for the 8th grade class of 2003.

The hardest part of my day (apart from 3rd period) is the twice-a-day pumping sessions I have to do to keep Bean fed. It's not so much the actual pumping that's hard, I can practically do it in my sleep, it's the fact that lunch for me is only 36 minutes...take three minutes to set up the pump, fifteen minutes to pump, three minutes to clean up and bag the milk...and then I have to go to the bathroom, check my email, eat my lunch, get the milk into the staffroom fridge. Etc etc etc. It's certainly easier to pump at my prep because it's longer and I have no classes afterwards, but often my husband brings Bean by at that time because she's eaten through all the milk I left at home. Ack. It's lovely to see them, that's not the problem, I just feel as though I can't keep any farther ahead than a shoelace tag of this food situation. Well. The good news is that in about three weeks, we can start introducing solids, and the whole feeding thing will just become less and less dependent on me as the year wears on. All I have to say to other working, nursing moms out there is, if you don't have a private office/classroom/whatever, YOU ARE HEROES. Pumping is bad enough when you can lock all the doors and be assured no one will barge in. I can't imagine having to do it in a bathroom or a storage closet.

This is a fine line between a Huzzah and a non-Huzzah, but because Bean went to bed with very little protest tonight AND seemed to enjoy her bath, let's go ahead and make it a Huzzah.

by Heather Hoffman at 8:49 PM