28 October 2007


Well, it's not pretty, still, but at least we can see the floor, and V can get her oven open. I ended up relaxing more than working, but it recharged my batteries in a most needed way. Today I did a lot of sorting and shuffling, moving crap from one corner of the living room to the other. It's actually much more progress than is apparent; at least, that's what I tell myself. It makes me feel better. And once the basement craft room is more in order, everything you see here that's not child related will be there.

There's still lots to do before Thanksgiving, but we'll get there. And if we don't, I'll just hang a big gold and brown table cloth over the largest piles and call it a Thanksgiving sculpture.

27 October 2007

Halftime report

No photos (out of shame/lack of noticable progress), but an update for those of you keeping score:

Papers graded: 20 (out of 80. gross.)

Midterm grades calculated: 20 (the last 20! Whee!)

Thrift stores visited: 4

Thrift items purchased: 2

Loads of laundry done since last night: 5

Loads of laundry put away since last night: 0

Songs on the radio sung along to loudly: 2 (long black veil and when the saints go marching in)

Trash bags filled from the living room: 1

Donation boxes filled from the living room: 1

Hours until I'm no longer home alone: 20 (or so)

The last time I was home alone, which was just a couple months ago, when I was working on the garage sale, I had so much to do I didn't think much of it. The time before that, about a year earlier, I was so tired I just needed to sleep a lot. But today, I feel completely torn. On the one hand, it is fabulous to go thrift store shopping and not feel rushed to get home, and I love watching just the crappiest TV and eating junk food without having to wait until naptime or negotiate (or share) with anybody. It makes me pine, just a tiny bit, for the year I was single before I met Shaun, when my time was my own and I was as balanced as I'd been in a long time. But it also (as absences should) makes my heart grow fonder: I miss V's voice and tiny hugs, and I like to sleep beside Shaun so much more than to sleep alone. Which is good.

That reminds me, I have some caramel rolls to eat up before tomorrow. And a room to clean. And miles to go before I sleep.

26 October 2007

Are you in the house alone?

The subject line was the actual title of a book we had in our house while I was growing up. It was probably my dad's, and it was a pulp stalker mystery...but even looking at the cover (a thin blonde, peering past a curtained window into the dark) could keep me up at night, terrified.

This fear has mostly passed, partly because I'm hardly ever home alone anymore, and partly because I try not to think of that book. Ever. So now that I've brought it up, I need to find something to distract myself. Home alone for the weekend, I have several things to keep me busy: the GameCube, grading (loads and loads of grading), a wee halloween costume to sew, a nice hot bath...but I also want to be productive and not just in the grading arena. To that end, and to Shaun's certain dismay, I want to make a little progress cleaning in up our livingroom/V's future play room. And because my personal road to hell is definitely paved with good intentions, I am prone to lots of happy plans and hardly any progress. So here, for the record, are the before pictures. Above, facing north, below facing south. See you by Sunday for the dramatic, breathtaking after pictures. At least, that's my intention.

24 October 2007

Girl in the hood

V got this black hoodie last Christmas from prospective-aunt Johanna, and she loves it. It's velour, with lace trim, and it's surprisingly difficult to find little girl clothes in black. It's also a 3T: almost all of V's 3T stuff is too big, except this. I assume it's because clothing manufacturers want 3 year olds to be sexy. You know, cause that's what little girls are into.

I'm really glad I put this on her now, because I'm pretty sure, unless she develops a serious coffee drinking habit, she'll be nowhere near this hoodie at 3. Sexy is as sexy does, I always say. I don't know what it means, but I always say it. Actually I've never said it in my life. But maybe I'll start now that I thought of it.

This here one is my new favorite picture. It's so dramatic, like something really important (or really distasteful) happened just out of the shot. And also it's of two of my favorite people.

In other news, we went to the hand doctor again today, and we'll see him again in a month, but V's splint and bandages are off (the stitches came out two weeks ago). The hand therapist wants us to work with her to help her start using her finger again, but figures once she forgets she's been protecting it (like when she gets into the play-dough full force) she'll be fine. We still don't know if a nail will grow back, but it's healing well, and she should have full function. Aside from the emotional trauma, of course. Mostly my emotional trauma, but still....

22 October 2007

makin' your way in the world today takes everything you've got

Autumn is here. I really want to go for a walk in the woods with the child before hunting season starts, but things have been very very wet lately, so it's unlikely to happen. Instead, we play made up games in our driveway, and she squeals "outside? outside! OUTSIDE!" every time we come home from running errands. The trees are just passing their peak here, with more leaves on the ground than up above.

I was listening to MPR yesterday and they were re-running a story about the noise in our life: how we only have a few generations now who have grown up with constant noise. It was a complicated story about how this guy's fridge hummed a constant B flat, but his microwave hummed at a C, which was a bit jarring, and then the dishwasher brought in a minor fourth and...well, you get the idea. (I spent 15 minutes trying to find it to link to it, but I can't, for the life of me. Send it if you know what I'm talking about). Most kids in the US today have never been without (or away for extended periods) from that constant buzzing.

When I was a kid, maybe about 7 or 8, there was no place I'd rather be than out in the woods, usually by myself, with a picnic lunch. I'd follow deer trails, look for mice, examine spiders and tree rot and leaf skeletons. It was quiet, and I was not afraid. I have to remember this part of me, and take myself outside (outside! OUTSIDE!) sometimes so I don't lose that quietness. I feel it most of all around midterms, when we're in to this semester hip deep and the end seems so far away.

I'm off to go grade papers, probably at a bar or a restaurant with flourescent lights, a jukebox, several TVs, many fridges and microwaves and blenders and all sorts of dissonance. But maybe, after supper, I'll take V to the park, where, if we get far enough from the road, close enough to the river, we can hear a little less buzzing and a little more quiet.

Or maybe we'll just play in the driveway.

08 October 2007

Oh, shoot.

Language acquisition is in full swing around here. Maybe the finger accident bumped something loose, but I swear the child learns a new word every fifteen minutes lately. Even better, though, are her intonations. Her favorite phrase, overall, is "Oh, shoot." It fits everything: when something's not quite right, she'll say it. At the end of a long, hearty laugh, Oh shoot. If she's just a little overwhelmed with happiness, like one day in the toy aisle at Target? Oh shoot.

Last night, we were driving back home from Grandma's, and we got behind a beet truck going about 40mph. Normally this would tick me off, but it was dark, and V wasn't fussy, so I just stayed back a bit (to avoid falling beets) and started talking to our verbose child.

"That's a beet truck," I said. "It's going to take the beets to be made into sugar."


"Yep. Your Grandpa Dewey used to drive a beet truck when Mommy was a little girl."


"He was married to Grandma. Sometimes she rode with him, and sometimes I did, and sometimes Auntie Jess did. It was fun"


"Uh-huh. Beet harvest happens every fall. It makes me miss Grandpa Dewey."

"Oh," she says, with lots of what I perceive to be sadness, which makes me start to cry.

"He would've loved you so much, sweetie. Oh! He would've played with you and sung to you and thought you were the best thing ever."


"Yes, like Grandma does."

"Oh." She nods, knowingly

"Grandpa Dewey was my Daddy, and that's why I miss him."

"Daddy Shaun?" She's just realized that her Daddy has another name, and sometimes uses it, often to hilarious effect.

"Yes. Shaun is your daddy, and Dewey was my daddy, which would make him your grandpa. And Grandpa Dewey died, and I wish you could've met him, and I miss him very much." And I stop, because I just realized I've brought up death for the first time ever to my two year old, and I'm pretty sure I didn't mean to.

She's quiet for about five seconds, and then says, "Oh, shoot."

Which pretty much sums up the whole thing.

06 October 2007

Land of 10,000 Nightmares

A week ago, I closed the bathroom door, and my 2 year old daughter’s tiny hand was by the hinge. At first I thought she was crying because I wouldn’t let her play in the toilet, but then I saw her, pinned by just one finger. I threw the door open, but it was too late.

Blood poured, so much blood from one small girl. I called her father, screaming at him to answer the goddamn phone. By the second ring, he did. You have to come home, I said. I’ve hurt the baby. I’ll meet you at the ER, he said. He was not angry.

The two miles to the hospital felt like thirty though I hit every single light green. “Oh, honey, it’s gonna be okay, I’m so sorry” I kept saying over and over, begging her to stop screaming.

It is not as bad as I’m making it sound, I suppose. She lost the fingernail (it was mostly off when we got to the hospital)and it might or might not grow back. It took five stitches to reattach her fingertip, pull it tight against the rest of her finger with that angry black thread. She has several more stitches inside, knots
of dissolving sutures that will last until her body knits itself back together.

When I was in fifth grade, I broke my arm, badly, and both my parents told me that if they could, they would trade places with me, take the pain themselves. I thought little of it, wondered why on earth they would rather have a broken arm than me. I know now that they desperately wanted to; to take away my daughter’s hurt, I would’ve slammed my hand in that door ten times, given all my fingertips.

For me, this is primal. That I caused her this hurt is almost unspeakable even though it was in the truest sense an accident.

She will bear these scars all her life.

In many ways, I feel that I will, too.

I wrote most of that the night it happened; sorry if it's overly dramatic, but damn, it broke my heart in 8 places. Flustered and queasy, I ran in circles in the kitchen, looking for my car keys, hoping she could make it two miles without hurting herself further. She did: she's been amazing through this whole process, crying only when we change the bandage, and even then only a little. She is one strong, brave, little sprout.

For the first three nights after, I hardly slept. I'm pretty sure it was the adreneline working its way out of my system, but I was obsessed with Andrea Yates and Susan Smith, women who both drowned their own children (Yates in the bathtub, Smith in a lake). I fixated on these women not because I felt kinship with them. On the contrary, though when their crimes were committed I knew they were heinous, it wasn't until I actually afflicted significant injury on my own child that I knew just how disturbed these women must have been. Smith, in particular, is beyond my ken. Yates, I believe, was mad enough, truly believed her children weren't safe in this world, to make her actions almost maternally protective. But suddenly, having hurt V and feeling the guilt and shame and heartache associated with it, I was really pissed off at mothers who could choose to hurt their babies.

Mostly I'm sleeping better now, as she has resumed her usual silliness, but I am trying to be more careful and alert in all ways. Last Friday, at the ER, I told Shaun through my tears that we'd have to take all the interior doors off the hinges, but he patiently said "Honey, I don't think that's practical." In so many ways, Shaun's been what held this house together while I was enjoying OCD insomnia. If he had done this, I know that there would be a part of me really angry with him, even if I knew that it was a true accident. In that way, if V had to have a fingertip crushed, I guess it's better that it was me than anyone else.

She'll heal up quite well, the hand specialist tells us. Actually, his PA told us that: the doctor himself said "It'll never be normal. The chip of bone will be reconnected through scar tissue. It will be thicker. We don't know what the nail will look like. Many people have fingers that have been injured and are therefore different."

I blinked at him. "It'll never be normal."

Then, in the bandage/splint department, the kind woman was apologizing it was taking so long, but, as she said, "We hardly ever get anyone this small in here."

Right. Sorry I'm a bad mother. (I really don't think she meant this at all. But that's how I took it. I suppose she could be saying V is small for a 2 year old, but I don't think that was it). It broke my heart for the ninth time.

She will finish her antibiotic today, and on Wednesday we go back to see the friendly Hand Doctor. I know that in the grand scheme of terrible things in this world, this is pretty minor, but it shook me up right well. I so wish this hadn't happened. Ack.

Here's the walking wounded, relaxing in her Little Mermaid chair, near her Wiggles guitar, watching Dora the Explorer. It's amazing how silly principles like "Less TV" go out the window when a mother feels guilty.