30 January 2006


I hate vomit. Mostly, I hate the smell. My daughter threw up for the first time last night. It was her first night sleeping 11 hours without calling for me. When she woke up at a fantastic 7 am, I went to her in the morning darkness. As I leaned over her crib… “What is that smell?!” Intuition made me turn on the light.

Puke. Everywhere. A cold and half-dried pool on the sheet. Stiff in her hair. Crusted on her cheek. Plastered to her bunny. Speckling the bumpers. She looked at it and at the look on my face and started to cry. I scooped her as quickly and lovingly as I could (without holding her too close) and made for our room.

Fortunately my husband isn’t pukephobic like I am. (Not planned, but an excellent parenting match). He ripped off the bedding and started the laundry while I took her in the shower. Even though I washed her hair twice, she still smelled faintly of barf today. Tonight’s bath got rid of the rest, thank goodness. It is a terrible thing to have one’s formerly vanilla-butter scented child have vomit-stink seeping from her skin. The smell is horrible, but the spoil of the “great smelling baby” is a real heartbreak.

27 January 2006

Stella loved Brazil!

I Read the Research

Today's Chronicle reports a UC Santa Barbara study that shows the benefits of preschool disappear by 3rd grade. This means kids who attended and didn't attend preschool perform the same in math and language by the time they're 8. These data come on the heels of a Stanford/ UC study that showed cognitive gains from preschool contrast with significant slowing of social- behavioral development. The behavioral factors, which were measured in kindergarten, included aggression, acting up, sharing, and showing the motivation to engage in classroom tasks.

So now what? I'm not overtly thinking of putting Stella in preschool for the cognitive benefits, but for the socialization. She loves playing with other kids. She gets bored with me at home. She could go into a smaller family daycare, but preschool gives me the idea that she'll learn a thing or two (as a bonus). I also have the idea that she should go to preschool. Like it's a requirement akin to brushing her teeth. So like any normal person, I read the research and stay mired in my old ideas.

26 January 2006

Primary Education

I have good organizational skills. I can make a matrix on any subject and creatively file so that most people can find what they're looking for. I am well-educated and laid back enough to comfortably wait in a very long line at the post office. I live in a neighborhood jammed with strollers. I have internet access, a cell phone, a home phone, a car, and (currently) 7 days a week to make calls and go places. Why can't I find a preschool? Why can’t I even decide which preschools to consider? I'm not looking for the standard 2 year, 9 month start gen-U-ine School, but some place to deliver Stella three full days per week when she's 2. Our nanny is moving at the end of the year.

People warned me that preschool entry is competitive. Competitive?! Despite this warning, I am in shock. Obviously, there are two possibilities:

  1. Parents are freaks to think that the “right” preschool assures the little one a slot at Harvard/ Sarah Lawrence/ Whatever.
  2. I am a neglectful mother whose child will never make it through primary education.

I have heard of people who have been on waiting lists since before conception. Thankfully, I don't know any of them because I don't know what I would say or do to them if I did. I also just found out that people camp out for preschool admission!

I went to a preschool fair on the weekend. I saw the tables with photo displays of multihued smiling faces and small stacks of shiny pamphlets. Were they handed out more eagerly to some parents than others? My mama friends and I are generally a balanced bunch. But school is making some of us a bit nutty. I ran into a dad at the fair. He looked scrubbed and planned out. The baby was in a matching outfit. Dad admitted the family had "dressed up” just in case they might talk with an administrator of a potential school. They are kind, normal people. She’s an artist. I think he’s a tech guy. They had a reggae singer at their son’s first birthday. I don’t think he was kidding about their admission anxiety.

Stella will be too young this winter to enter most of the schools- which is good since we will have fewer to choose from. Good because I am wholly unprepared for the insanity of 20 plus potential schools. I have prioritized the selection criteria: Close to home or work. Minimum hours 8am to 6pm. Multicultural and affordable. Filled with happy parents and friendly teachers. That’s it.

When I left the fair I had a little lump in my throat thinking about sending my baby to school. I imagined packing her lunch, watching her wave bye and patter away. I called my mother as another lump rose in my throat. I asked how she chose my preschool. She said there was one across from the campus where she was in college. And when I couldn’t go there because I had a runny nose or it was closed, she brought me to class. I remember sitting in the back drawing.

If it could be so simple.

25 January 2006

Off Work/ With Nanny

I am at the end of my third day off work/ with nanny. My third day in the entire 15 months, 7 days since my daughter's birth. Not that I'm trying to impress anyone with the hours and hours of time I have juggled her in one arm and a skillet/telephone/bowl of cat food in the other. I'm not looking for any sympathy or praise for cleaning all the beans off the floor AND doing a dark AND light load AND taking out the recycling all in one day. I'm merely mentioning the year and 3.25 months because it's kind of a long time to go without a full day to oneself. I didn't even realize it until the first day. The To Do list was hopeful.

clean garage
sell speakers
prune trees
mend dress
clean porch
fix fence
find job
make holiday letter
birthday card for mom

On 1 /11/06 I ironed one shirt, took a nap, had a pedicure, and ate lunch with a friend. But the other days I have plowed through tasks. Cleaned tiny corner of garage. Sold stereo, automatic litter box, and double stroller. Gave away stack of old curtains on freecycle. Pruned all the trees. Started making recycled wool hats and one of a kind recycled baby clothing. Napped a few times. Installed mailbox that was purchased before Stella's birth.

Today I had a two-hour interview (aka- they love me!) for a decent job at a community clinic in the location of my old job. So not only will I like the work and staff, but I can see my favorite parking lot attendant and coffee guy just like old times. The only problem is that I'll lose this ability to get things done- this living fantasy world that almost feels like routine.

09 January 2006

The Best Thing

The best thing just happened. I was hungry and tired and unable to decide what to eat as I pawed through the wrapped sandwiches at the Starbuck's next to work. There were many possibilities promising a full belly and an increased level of hip-ness. "upscale Mediterranean tuna salad." What?! Still, nothing blew my skirt up. I nearly walked away from the counter, defeated, belly rumbling, when a scruffy man with brilliant eyes said, "My favorite is the egg one. They put peaches in it or something. I don't know, but it's really good and is a generous portion." I couldn't open my mouth, couldn't find a single word to say to him. My hand reached for the salad on "scrumptious multigrain" and grabbed it without effort. When I emerged from the refrigerator case, the man was gone. The girl at the counter asked if I wanted anything to drink, and I chose a pear Izze in less than a second. The block was gone. I was released from the vortex of starving indecision. That one simple comment from the brilliant-eyed man connected me back to the world and to my own power. He reached into my sleep-deprived mama soul and straightened my collar, dusted off my sleeve. He gave me a little mothering and vanished.

The sandwich was good. No peaches, but sweet.