Friday, September 28, 2007

Photo Friday: Fingers

So this is probably one of our weirdest Photo Friday endeavours. (Well. Maybe not if you consider the dog in the bra shot.)

I set out to take a picture of finger puppets, showcasing both Co's and my fingers. The puppets are mine from childhood; in the apartment I lived in as a toddler, I am told, I used the kitchen pass-through as a stage for my finger puppets.

Then Maggie jumped up on the futon and became a part of the shoot. So I present to you Ernie, Grover, and Maggie Mae:

Finger Puppets

(I'm got Ernie on my finger, and you can see my misshapen thumb. "Hammer thumbs" remains the top search term on this blog, so here you go, finger voyeurs, another reference and another peek. Yeah, we're lesbians who made a baby, but what's the real freak show? My thumbs!!!)

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Last week, the Photo Friday theme was buttons, and Co commented that she was surprised I hadn't participated. "You love buttons," she pointed out. Um, I do? I replied.

Oh. THOSE buttons.

Yeah, I have a pretty extensive button collection. Somehow I didn't make the cognitive leap. Here are some highlights:

A little 80s humor:

No Nukes...

Old political buttons. The one on the left has taken on a whole new meaning. I'm curious to see if anyone recognizes the one on the right:

Political Buttons

And just for laughs:

Funny Buttons

Overwhelmed

Disclaimer: This post is about me feeling overwhelmed. I am a little afraid some of you will read it and think I am unworthy of my wonderful Flipper or ungrateful for my pregnancy. That's not it. I'm just overwhelmed and thought I might feel better if I got it all out there. I am very happy to be pregnant. I am very happy that it's been as smooth as it has. And I can't wait to meet my son. But right now, I am crying and I have a lot of work to do and I just want to exorcise these feelings so I can do what I need to do today. So, here it is.

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I'm feeling kind of overwhelmed these days. We're at 30 weeks and there's so much we're doing and still so much we need to do before Flipper comes. We met with some labor support doulas and picked one. We've done our name changes--now it's just a matter of dropping off one final affidavit at the courthouse and it'll be official. We're about halfway through our childbirth education class, which some nights leaves me feeling slightly more prepared and other nights leaves me feeling like a hopeless wreck who is never going to be able to deliver and care for a baby. My midwife appointments are about to start becoming more frequent. We need to rearrange furniture so we can fit a bassinet/pack'n'play and changing table/dresser (which arrives today) in our 700-square-foot apartment. We have two consultations scheduled with pediatricians. We need to schedule a tour of the hospital where we'll be delivering. Lo has been crazily hunting down cheap baby buys for us on Craigslist.

On the flip side, I have work to do and have been having a hard time working to my previous levels. At a certain point, my back starts hurting too much to continue sitting in a chair and I have to lay down. I get tired more easily. I am more distractible than I am normally. And I am already feeling a little sad that this pregnancy is almost over. It's kind of hitting me that this is my one and only pregnancy and I'm trying to enjoy it. But I think I am going to miss the experience. It makes me a little sad that I didn't allow myself to enjoy it until fairly recently. I didn't breathe a sigh of relief until I hit the 2nd tri really. So, I kind of feel like it went too fast and like those first 14 weeks weren't really part of it somehow... that they were just part of the stressful TTC period because I spent them waiting for the floor to give out beneath me. And now, suddenly, it's almost over.

There's also all that other life stuff that creeps up--traveling to visit relatives, fixing our car which got sideswiped on the highway by a truck that didn't bother to pull over, and dealing with some apartment repairs that need to get done before Flipper arrives.

I have hit a point at which I really just don't want to schedule anything else if it could possibly make me crazy. I just don't want to run myself ragged. And I know that this is a bad attitude to have. Once Flipper comes, looking back on this last tri will probably make me laugh at it's cake-walkiness. I know once Flip comes I will be running on empty a lot of the time. But I feel like it'll be different. It won't be me going nuts trying to keep appointments or pick out furniture or prepare for Flip in some abstract way. I think once Flip is here, it'll be time spent with him and it'll just be different. But I obviously don't really know.

I am also just feeling oversensitive and unappreciated and pretty damn useless. I have nothing in my checking account right now and paid my estimated taxes this month using a credit card. It's not because I haven't *earned* money, mind you. I have. I just haven't gotten the check for it yet. The cash flow fun of being self-employed! It makes all those things, like paying to fix our car or repairing our apartment or buying baby furniture, so much more fun.

I am feeling sad that I will not be getting much support from my family once Flip is here. That's not because my family doesn't love me. They've been very supportive and my Aunt Ro (really my dad's first cousin's wife, so she's not technically my aunt) even wants to throw us a *baby shower* after Flip is born. But the reality is... I only have one close living relative... my brother. I have no real uncles or aunts and no first cousins. My brother will be loving to his new nephew, and is talking about driving here to meet him as soon as he's born. But he has never set foot in my city the whole time I've lived here so I'm not counting on that actually happening. My brother is an alcoholic with his own problems. My parents are long dead, so my mom won't be coming to help with the baby. If I go to 42 weeks, there is actually a chance that Flip will be born on my mom's birthday. I really hope Flip doesn't end up sharing a birthday with my mom. That would just make me sad, I think.

I'm just stressed and overwhelmed, I guess, and terrified of what kind of mom I'll be.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kid Quote of the Day

"We did a lot of learning today!"
--J.B.

And no, you can't have them, they are MY seventh graders. (After last year's slugs I deserve this. I assure you. Also come January I fear they will not be this cute.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Last Minute Advice on Doulas

We have our first meeting with a potential doula tomorrow afternoon. What should we ask?? (My pregnancy organizer does not have a checklist of doula questions. I am at sea.)

(Scroll down for deeper post.)

Being A Lesbian Teacher

Before I begin my ruminations, I must share today's kid quote of the day. It is more of an anecdote. During Community Service period today, we were encouraging small groups of students to come up with community service projects that were appropriate for a variety of communities: their school, town, country, and the world. One group was brainstorming countries that "needed help." One girl suggested that Iran was a "poor country." I said, "Okay, so what do you think they would need help with? What do they need?" She thought a moment, then said, "Weapons?" The others agreed.

Yes, folks. My kids want their community service to be providing weapons to Iran.

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I am an English teacher. (Actually, I am a Humanities teacher, which means I teach both Social Studies and English; but in my heart, I am an English teacher. That dichotomy is a whole other story.) Anyone out there who is an English teacher, or an elementary school teacher, or has been anywhere near a school lately, probably knows about the Workshop Model. Many people have written about the Workshop Model by now, though it is often attributed to Lucy C@alkins/Te*cher's College (though I prefer it as articulated by Nancie Atw*ll). In brief: this model requires that you teach "minilessons" (anything more than 15 minutes of direct instruction is verboten in many schools) and then the children have reading/writing workshop time where they pursue their own interests in said subjects.

At the school where I work now this actually works reasonably well (how this worked in classes of 30+ kids who had never been allowed up from their desks before, and who generally had trouble getting through a class period without drawing blood, is the subject of perhaps an entirely other blog).

A feature of this approach is the highly confessional teacher. I suppose it's not required, but all of the examples I have seen (both in books and from staff developers) involve a lot of showing your own process as a reader and writer, which involves sharing a lot of information about your life. In general, this doesn't bother me. In fact, in many ways I am an ideal person to model "reading" and "writing" habits because I am passionate about both enterprises. I really do keep a writing journal, my 28th in a long line of battered composition books dating back to the 6th grade. I really do read voraciously, and write compulsively.

But...and I imagine some of you know where I'm going here...it's hard to be completely honest. The women (and it is almost invariably women) who have served as my models (in books and in person) talk frequently about their families. They put pictures of their kids on their decorated journals (because your journal has to be decorated, you know; I think this is a fun exercise for kids, but I'll be damned if I'm doing anything to mine beyond my traditional coloring-in of the white parts of the marble). I regularly have to cut off whole sections of my interests and personality, both as a lesbian, and as a person with a family of my own. (Let's just say I didn't put "Queer Literature" on my list of Reading Territories.)

However, I have long suspected that this would have to change when we had a baby. I work at a small school where a fair number of kids have parents on staff. I'm entirely out to staff (and therefore, to some kids). Last week, when I introduced the kids to Reading Workshop, I went ahead and listed "parenting books" as one of the genres I read. I explained that I was going to be having a baby in a few months, and that my partner was pregnant. I think there may be a few kids who didn't quite get it, but most of them both understood, and were excited (well, excited was the girls; I hate to be stereotypical, but it really is the adolescent girls -- I teach 7th grade -- who get excited about babies).

It hasn't come up again. I don't have a pregnant belly to remind them. But they're a sweet bunch, and I am both relieved and excited to be moving forward, coming out again and again and again.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Last Name Post

So we have finally been to civil court to start our name change process. We have been talking and stressing and pondering names since we got serious in 2002.

We both have three-syllable, identifiably ethnic last names. My mom says that together (like on our doorbell) they sound like a law firm. Hyphenation was just never an option.

We know people who have hyphenated (in a variety of ways). We know people who have combined letters in both last names to create a new name. We know people who have chosen new names entirely. We know people who have chosen to keep one partner's last name.

For a while we were planning to combine pieces of our two last names, thinking we would keep our last names, and we'd be identifiably Flipper's parents because his name would have elements of both of ours. But then Co got cold feet. And ultimately I agree with her that it was not the best idea; we wouldn't all have the same name, and the combo name was kind of goofy sounding. It is not a great sign when you share your kid's theoretical last name and people's first response is to giggle.

Finally -- very recently -- out of the blue I came up with a name that combined the beginning syllables of my last name, and the ending syllables of Co's grandmother's maiden name (Co identifies deeply with the ethnicity of this grandmother, who raised her). I will change my last name to this new name and keep my middle name. Co, who has no middle name, will keep her last name as a middle name and add on our new last name.

And so the three of us (!) *will* have the same name. The Family O.

Photo Friday: Light

For this week, I chose the sunset photos I took on Cape May this summer. I am not a serious photographer, and I certainly don't have a serious camera, but I like the way these came out.

The first two are at the beach where we took Maggie most evenings. The third photo is from the dolphin boat.

Sunset on Higbee Beach 2

Sunset on Higbee Beach 3


Sunset from the Boat

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Of Blogfriends, Dachshunds, and Jewish Holidays

We met Melody! It's always great to put the words to a face, and we're looking forward to getting together again later in the year. I regret only that she cannot attend Sing-along Buffy with us this weekend (email me if you're interested).

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Maggie has had a tough summer. First she had an itchy belly covered with bumps that turned into an infection. The vet thinks it's a skin allergy, so she's had two different shampoo treatments all summer for that (she *hates* baths) plus a round of antibiotics. But the bumps kept coming back. The vet decided to try a hypoallergenic food...right around the time poor Maggie got a case of the squirts. She was on rice and baby food for about a week, but then we finally transitioned her to the new food. No sooner had she firmed up again, but: frequent urination, and blood in her pee. That was scary, but it seems (knock wood) to be a urinary tract infection that is already clearing up with antibiotics. My rockstar Co actually caught a urine sample from our little lowrider.

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Tonight begins the celebration of the Jewish New Year (L'shana tovah!). We observed this occasion by going to childbirth class. Before that, we enjoyed a festive meal of greasy Chinese food (our name for fast-food Chinese to distinguish it from the quality place). I am not always the most precisely observant Jew, as much as I might care about the traditions. (And it's not *inappropriate* to celebrate a Jewish holiday with Chinese food...) I am going to services tomorrow, but probably not on Friday, because we are going to civil court to begin our name change process. Both the name change and the childbirth class do not feel inconsistent with the New Year. (More on the name change in a future post...)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Various & Sundry Updates

"I can't wait to do community service! That sounds so cool!"
--B., on looking at her middle school schedule

That is today's 7th grade quote of the day. My kids this year are SO CUTE. And after last year's poorly trained orangutans, I am about due. Yesterday's quote of the day:

"Don't we have any new kids? Don't they have, like, a draft?"
--R., the sports fan

In fact, we do not have any new kids in the 6th, 7th or 8th grades, thanks to an experimental school policy. I'm immensely grateful, because for the past five years the local school district has actively encouraged children they consider too incorrigible (and in one unfortunate case, violent) to head over to our (charter) school. I truly believe our school can do wonders for a difficult kid...but not if they enter in 7th grade. (We're a K-8.) All this to say, the year is off to a good start.


In other news, Wednesday was our first childbirth class. Our instructor is actually a sort-of relative of mine (my cousin's aunt), and Oneofhismoms is an alum of the course. Starting class really made Flipper's arrival seem realer. It was the first time I've had any clear understanding of labor and I'm starting to believe we might be having a baby. Yikes.

In other oh-my-God-we're-having-a-baby-news, we had a prenatal appointment yesterday. Co took the glucose challenge. And Midwife S. informed us that at our next appointment, they'll be checking to see where Flipper's head is located. Good heavens.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

My First Day Of School

Today was the day! I went back last week to set up my classroom, but today brought the children, school in its shiny, vibrating, chaotic form.

I love the first day of school. I always did. I was the kid who looked forward to shopping for school supplies (at W*olworth's of blessed memory). Even now, I love setting up my little drawers of paper clips and glue sticks, sharpening pencils, setting out fresh markers and watercolors. I love using colors to set up my classroom...the labels, the paper, the borders. I had a minor freak-out earlier in the week because when the St*ples order came in, my new Sh*rpies were back-ordered and my red had run out. This meant I could not write the kids' names on their mailboxes in rainbow order. I rallied, however, and chose to write their names in variants of blue and green, to go with my ocean-themed decor this year.

I start the year with a unit on exploring identity (through poetry and other writings), so I traced a small mardi gras mask from a template online and then cut out twenty-three of them in different colors, and wrote each child's name on one.

I'm a little freaky about this stuff.

I sincerely enjoyed meeting my students today. I've been told they are a sweet and, at times, even studious group, and I'm looking forward to a good year with them.

So here, as part of the extended Show & Tell Photo Friday, are some pictures of my classroom. I snapped them this morning before the children messed up my perfectly ordered domain. Click on each picture to see the notes.


Lo's Classroom 3

Lo's Classroom 2

Lo's Classroom 1

Sunday, September 02, 2007

This Weekend...

...we made $104 for the Flipper Fund in a 2 day stoop sale-stravaganza!

Last weekend, we got to see this:

Sam's Grin

Tongue!

And this:

Plugged Gus

Sleepy Gus