January, 2003

30 Jan 2003, by

Moving on Up



So guess what? Sophia’s graduating from Toddler A to Toddler B. We got the note in her
bag yesterday. On Monday she goes to join the big Toddlers. I find this so exciting!
She will be in a class with her beloved “Bicky”. It’s not like the kids from both
classes don’t spend most of their time together anyhow, but the older kids do things like
crafts and have more structured activities. Apparently the criteria for graduation are
based on how many words she’s saying and comprehending (yes, I’m embarrassed again about
having worried about that) and her capability to do certain activities (sit still, glue
bits to papers, that kind of thing). So hurray for Sophia! I wish regular school was
like that, where they look at your kid, evaluate them and promote them based on their
mastery of skills in the current class and their readiness to take on new skills. When
Sophia first went to Toddler A they told me it was likely she was going to be there until
she was two, but now they’ve decided she’s ready to move up, and I approve of that
scheduling flexibility.

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28 Jan 2003, by

Winter Doldrums



It’s been a bit of a strange day so far. People have expressed varying levels of
impatience and irritation with me, and the day is still quite young. I’m feeling a bit
confused by it. It’s also grey and overcast today. Not cold, thankfully, but the kind
of constant unending gray of lands with no sun. I’m reminded of The Silver Chair
by C.S. Lewis. I can’t even remember what the sun was like, much less convince anyone
else that it exists. Which, I suppose, brings me to confession time. I have a
confession to make. I hate this time of year. Hate it. Loathe it. Despise it. Can’t
express forcefully enough how much I hate this time of year. I feel slow and cold and
sleepy all the time. Mostly cold. It all starts when the clocks change for daylight
savings time. The days get shorter and shorter, but you don’t notice it so much until
the hour changeover. Then, you step outside of work and it’s DARK. Not even 5 PM and
black as midnight. So depressing. Also, I’m not a big fan of the cold. So I approach
every winter with some trepidation, like an animal past her prime who fears this winter
will be the one to do her in, the one she doesn’t survive. I try not to talk about
this much. In fact, I try not to think about it much. One, because it seems kind of
crazy. I’ve heard about circadian rhythms and seasonal disorders and a lot of things
that can possibly describe what I experience during the winter, but I’m not prepared
to completely buy in on those theories. Two, thinking and talking about how horrible
things are has a strange way of making them worse, especially when they are the sort of
thing there are no solutions for. There are places with mild winters, but no place with
none. And every place on the planet has a winter solstice. If I could muster up some
enthusiasm I’d say I can’t wait for the warm, sunny, long days again. I think I could
bear the cold better if it wasn’t so dark all the time, or bear the darkness better if it
wasn’t so cold. The combination is pretty overwhelming, though.

And that, kind reader, is why I’m a failed Goth. Yes, I was once quite a Goth. I
adored the cloak of night. I welcomed the ink jet of darkness covering me, smoothing me
over, hiding me, protecting me and keeping me alone. I also liked wearing lots of velvet
and listening to Sisters of Mercy. Actually, I still like those things, but I don’t think
that’s enough to keep anyone from revoking my Goth membership card , and quite frankly, I
don’t want to be in the club anyways, as I find most Goths to be quite scary. It has taken
me many years to realize that it wasn’t the darkness itself that I loved. It was the
isolation. There’s nothing quite like the night to break you away from all humanity
everywhere. Safely alone, conversations with a moon who always listens can be a lifeline
for someone who just doesn’t understand anyone or anything. Being the last person on the
last bus at two in the morning and riding noisily through deserted streets is a remarkably
enlivening experience.

Hmmm, I kind of thought I had more to say about that. Had mentally envisioned that
section to be about four paragraphs, wherein there’d be much delving into my history and
recalling some of the great anecdotes that have made up my youth. Apparently, I’ve found
myself too apathetic to go into anything in depth at the moment. I suppose I do have one
thing to say, though, keeping myself busy in November with
NanoWriMo helped me through much of the usual
winter misery, and I plan to do that again this year. Oh, speaking of writing. I skipped
Yoga yesterday, just because I didn’t feel like going, and decided I’d go on Wednesday
instead during Sacred Hour. At first, I had planned to write last night instead, and do a
swap. Of course I didn’t do that. So now I’m all kinds of behind on the writing schedule. I managed to play some Animal Crossing, though. I love that game.

Sophia brought home her first piece of refrigerator art last night. It was a stoplight
with bits of colored paper glued in the three circles. It’s hanging on the fridge right
now. I’m very excited about that. She did it in Toddler B class, which apparently she
hangs out in quite a bit. She adores the Toddler B teacher (Ms. Vicky), and anytime I say
anything about daycare she chimes in with “Bicky! Bicky!” just to reassure us that she knows
exactly what we’re talking about. Because of her history of being reluctant to go to
people and the whole thing where she didn’t want to leave her earlier class (Infant A), I’m
really encouraged by her growing attachment to her future teacher, Ms. Vicky.

Also in daycare news : Sophia now has her providers going to other classes to retrieve
books for her. The Toddler Classes have no books in them for the children to play with.
I am not sure why this is, but I imagine it has something to do with the difficulty of
keeping books hygienic. I have never been troubled by this, as Sophia has more than enough
books at home to make up for that. Apparently, her teachers discovered by some chance (or
possibly Sophia’s talking about it, she has recently started saying “book” with greater
frequency and clearer emphasis) how much she loves to read books, and so they went into the
older kid classes to bring books back for her. So when Kurt went to pick her up one day
last week, she was playing alone (as she often is) with a stack of books that no other
children were competing with her for. That’s my girl! Maybe in a few years she’ll be
spending her entire lunch recess in the school library picking out new books to read the
way I did in elementary school. The provider told Kurt, “She really loves books! You
should take her to the library sometime.” Kurt promptly replied that we bring her library
books all the time. One of the things I wanted to do is keep a list of the library books
we brought with notes on particular favorites, but alas, that is among the things that
will have to go undocumented. You should see her scrapbook. It’s a big cardboard box
that I stuff papers into. Someday there’ll be a book, and glue, and pretty things to look
at. Someday. Maybe she can help me with it when she’s like six or seven or something.
There’s one other daycare story from the past week or so. Kurt went to pick up Sophia and
they were in the process of bringing the kids from outside play to inside. There was
plenty of screaming and crying, but apparently Sophia came in without complaints (at home
moving from outside to inside causes much wailing and kicking and falling down to the
floor for full on tantrums). As she came inside, though, she was also saying, “Inside!
Inside!” which is something we say a lot at home (both inside and outside are regular
parts of the vocabulary) but apparently not so much at daycare, because Sophia’s
repetitions caused Ms. Shannon to say to Kurt,”That Sophia is sooooooo smart.” This is
the second such instance of a Toddler teacher noting that Sophia is smart. I’m a little
hesitant to take such labels at face value, but I’m sure it’s meant as a compliment, and
that pleases me. I don’t really know if I want my kid to be extra smart. Extra smart
doesn’t seem to get one much in the world. All the intelligence in the world doesn’t
guarantee she’ll be happy or healthy or wise. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel
the classic geek thrill at being told my child is bright.

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The weekend is ending, and tomorrow it will be back to work. I expect
this week to be pretty busy, and expect to get less done in terms of
writing/webpage and so forth than I did this past week. I’d be doing more
work of other types now instead of writing, but I’m too tired to. Besides,
I’m waiting for my desktop to finish upgrading to Mandrake 9.0. I just
found out today the Mandrake’s in some kind of bankruptcy. I hope that
doesn’t mean the end of the distro, because I like it a lot. If this entry
seems to ramble a bit, you’ll understand why I try not to write when I’m
this tired. The superbowl is on TV. My dad is watching it. One of the
pirate teams is winning. Sophia just went to bed, but I can hear her
coughing some, and she’s not sleeping as deeply as she might be. I am
really liking the way my webpage is coming along right now. I added the
code to pull the pictures in on Friday and the more I look at it, the more
I like it. I also added a ton of pictures from Halloween to the database.
For those of you who have been waiting with breathless expectation to see
me dressed as Titania, there are now a crazy number of pictures of me in my
costume. Last year we got a ton of pictures of Sophia and very few of me,
so perhaps Kurt was determined to change that this year. I don’t know. I
didn’t take hardly any pictures in November, either, so even though it
seems like I should be way behind if I’m only at the end of October, it’s
not as hopeless as it looks. Of course I was out of control with the
camera at Christmas, so there’s still a ways to go.

Sophia did a number of really cool things this weekend, which it may take
me a couple of days to catalog fully. However, I will tell about the
Natural Science Museum. We went there on Saturday after she got up from
her nap. She loved it. When we got to the first large
fish tank she started to sign fish, and then, as she got more
and more excited by the size, activity and number of fish, she started
signing with BOTH hands. She was just standing there, grinning,
and waving both hands back and forth as fast as she could. I was actually
pretty impressed that she could translate the bigger tank with its bigger
fish to more than one hand signing the sign. That indicates, to me
anyways, a grasp of scale (and possibly plurals) which is very exciting.
She also pointed out stuffed bears, deer and ducks. She would name them
over and over while pointing and we would say “Yes, yes, there’s a bear.
It’s a bear. I see it.” She was also fascinated by the stairs and spent
long, long minutes both in the children’s playroom and elsewhere climbing
up stairs and then bumping her way down them on her behind.

OK, bed now. Sleep well, dear reader.

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23 Jan 2003, by

Script Success



So consolidation of diary mechanism is now complete. I transferred and modified all my scripts so that
they work from my labtob. In fact, I just POSTED from my labtob. Last weeks two entries. So
basically, after clearing out the backlog on the 15th and posting last week’s entries I am in a
position where there’s no leftover entries unposted and hanging about AND the latest update is recent!
Amazing. Hurrah for New Year’s resolutions.

So it looks like I have only one thing left on the list I posted two entries ago to discuss :
weaning. I guess this would be the cue for the squeamish to scrolldown a few paragraphs. When
Sophia was first born, I had dreams of having her weaned by her first birthday, but when that came and
went I was really hopeful for the 15 month mark, and after that the 18 month mark. Both of those have
passed and Sophia is still nursing. The weaning process is going on, she’s now down to no more than
two feedings a day: morning and night. The thing is, both those feedings are part of a very
entrenched routine, and unlikely to just gradually fade away on their own. The strident pro-breast-feeders
are all about just letting it happen naturally and not rushing anything, but I just don’t see this
moving along without rather a more deliberate and structured denial of service, so to speak. Whereas
the other feedings have been pretty easy to eliminate gradually and without trauma, these last two
are going to be tough, no matter what. So after talking it over with the pediatrician and my husband
and mulling it over, I decided that the morning feeding would be the first to go. This is the second
week in which I only feed Sophia in the mornings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesdays and
Thursdays Kurt takes her while I dress and so the boobies are never seen. Last week we made sure to
have a lot of food choices prepared for her, assuming that she’d be starving if she didn’t nurse. Boy,
were we wrong. Apparently this morning nurse is not about nutrition at all. It’s all about being held
and cuddled and sucking. So it turns out that the best thing to do with her is let her keep her
pacifier and hold her for 20 minutes, until she’s fully awake and ready to face the day. This doesn’t
bode well for giving me more time in the morning, but it’s kind of sweet. She’s been a bit grouchy about
the change, as expected. This morning she asked me for milk, signing and saying it together, and when I
told her “No, sweetie, we’re not having milk right now,” she burst into tears. I feel like she’s strong
enough and old enough to do without the nursings or I wouldn’t be trying this. Doesn’t make it easy to
hold your terribly disappointed, crying daughter though, does it? But besides my faith in her readiness,
I am also anxious to have my boobs back. It’s not too bad right now, because when I just feed her at
night, I know we’re getting to the end of these moments together and I cherish it. So what it boils
down to is this : some mornings, I’m now replacing myself with a pacifier and “teebee” which I’m sure is
not the recommended way to approach this. But you know, I don’t feel at all bad at her pacifier usage
(thought the TV crutch is somewhat guilt inducing). I don’t know how much she uses the “paci” at
daycare, but at home, she knows when it is acceptable and when it’s not and she’ll often hand it to you
when she’s finished with it. Right now she’s allowed a pacifier anytime she’s in her crib, sometimes
in the car (longish rides or when we want her to go to sleep), and every once in a while when she’s had
a particularly rough time of it or hurt herself. She seems to understand that the function of this
item is to make her feel better and at ease, and once she’s recuperated she gives it up quite
willingly. So now, in addition to all those other times, she also gets a pacifier on the mornings in
which she does not nurse. I don’t have the slightest bit of guilt about letting her indulge in that.
Maybe I should.

This week we started a new bedtime ritual. Brushing the teeth. Sophia loves this activity, though
mostly she just sucks on the sweet toothpaste and points to Elmo on her toothbrush and tells me “Elmo!
Elmo!”. She loves this little activity so much that the only way I can get her to put the toothbrush
down is to ask her if she’s ready for milk, now. This delight is promising for when we eliminate the
night nursings. If brushing your teeth is practically as good as nursing, then maybe that’s a good
substitute. I expect that’s about another month away though. I’m going to have to time it a little
carefully, because I don’t want the final weaning to occur at the same time my parents leave. I’ve got
a feeling that their departure is going to be a bit traumatic for her. She’s grown so used to them and
so attached to them.

In other news : I wrote 1500 more words on Cualcotel last night. I’d be happier if it were closer to
2000, but 1500 is quite good given the amount of time that I have. When I was writing daily, I had the
ending pretty well formed in my mind, but now I’ve forgotten it, despite the fact that it’s a mere
three or four scenes away, tops. I’m just going to have to keep going forward until I hit the end, I
guess. I kind of need to re-read what I already wrote, but I’m ambivalent about that. Rather keep
going forward. But I’m forgetting some things that have transpired, and I need a sanity check. Quite
a quandary. I expect it will be solved this weekend, though where I hope to not fail in grabbing an
hour to write (and possibly read), like I did last weekend.

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