Saturday, April 29, 2006

Ringing His Celly

Now that Shef is two, he does some really cute things and also some really horrifying things.

Beacause it's good to focus on the positive, I'll tell one of the cute things: He’s started making fake phone calls on his real, but nonfunctioning cell phone. Usually he calls my friends -- people he knows very well. Other times, he calls folks that are important to him, although we’ve never actually spoken with them in real life.

For example, yesterday, he dialed up the guy who wears scuba gear into the fish tank at the Minnesota Zoo. This guy then gives a breathy presentation on fish behavior and feeding that's broadcast into a little viewing area via some kind of underwater speaking technology. He wears a full-coverage face mask, so it’s possible that “the guy” is actually several different men; but he’s just “Guy” to us.

“Hi, Guy,” Shef said into his phone, as we were walking around on our deck.
“You feed the fish?
“You see the dolphins?
“That’s great!
“You’re in the tank now?
“Ok. Bye-bye Guy, I love you.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Yesterday, we postponed moving into our new house until tomorrow for various reasons.

But then, I woke up this morning, stumbled half-dead up the stairs, and I smelt it. It turns out someone hadn’t stayed up late enough to let the stupid dog out one last time. I knew then, without a doubt, that we had to move out. Today. If only because I hate that damn dog.

So, after work, I picked up Shef and my sister, took us all to the mall to buy new sheets for Shef’s big-boy bed, sent Shef and Mary on a few indoor amusement rides, drove to Toys-R-Us to get a guardrail for the big-boy bed (left Shef and Mary in the car, so as not to be delayed by toy lust), arrived at our house, cleaned a bit, listened to Shef make several phone-calls on his broken cell phone (“Hi, Jessie. How are you today?”), and then put him down to sleep in his new digs (“Just like Elmo, Mommy,” he said, referring to the monster's adventures in bibliotherapeutic board-book my mom purchased for us: Big Enough For a Bed).

And now, after all that, we live here. Hallelujah.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Lament for Renee, Part 3 or 4

Every time I do any work-related anything with Whoa-Nay, I find myself just wanting very badly to teach with her again. This photo of us was taken after we ran our service day project for the first time in 2003.

As you can see, we were really tired, sweaty, and completely satisfied with our jobs. If you had a colleague that made you feel that way and you had a blog, wouldn’t you write about how much you missed her on a quarterly basis, too?

Today, Whoa-Nay and I gave a talk about our citizenship stuff to a couple hundred Rotarians. Turns out Rotarians are a very supportive audience. We are totally crashing the Rotary Conference again next year.

Also, I enjoyed telling any Rotarians who asked why the heck we were no longer working together, that my former school district wouldn’t accommodate my desire for a part-time job. I didn’t mention that even if I had taken my full-time job back, they weren’t going to let me work with Whoa-Nay. When I think about that, I’m reminded that I had a really good reason for leaving. I think you’ll agree that a good job just isn’t a really good job unless you have a buddy.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Sam's Name is Not Really Sam

One of my typically-disruptive juniors tromped in and announced that he planned on being my best student today. “Great,” I said, surprised but completely supportive. “I’m really looking forward to this, Sam.”

Mid-way through the lesson, I couldn’t help but notice that this charming chap wasn’t really living up to best-student status.

“Hey, Sam,” I said to him, while making the group-work rounds, “I thought you were going to be my best student today.”

He looked a little sheepish and mumbled something about trying.

“Look, Sam,” I said, “I’d like you to put yourself in my shoes." He laughed a little, but he didn't refuse. "Imagine for just a moment that you are me.” I looked at him meaningfully. “And now imagine you are trying to teach the class with you in it.”

Sam smiled. I could tell he understood that my situation was a difficult one, to be sure. “But, Ms. W.,” he said, sucking up as best as he could, “you do such a nice job teaching us despite the adversity of having me in class.”

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Coming Out of the Dark

My fever broke last Saturday and some pretty spectacular geometric pieces of disease shot out of my nose, never to return. Once my status returned to “marginally functional,” I focused my attention on Shef’s latest day care plague: Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. Do you know it? It turns out it’s easily recognizable by the open sores that appear on the hands, feet, and mouth.

Dan and I resigned ourselves to missing some more work to take care of the sores and, of course, the accompanying diarrhea and fever.

Overall, I can tell it hasn’t really been the healthiest winter because I’ve taken seven sick days during it. That’s more than I’ve ever even dreamed of taking.
My eighth will be Monday for the trip to the ear, nose, and throat specialist. I know I shouldn't, but I confess I'm daring to dream that Dr. B. will be curing the sleeplessness that's plagued our family for two years and twenty-seven days now. Not that I'm counting.

Despite all of these obstacles, we’re determined to adopt our best positive mental attitudes because of this exciting news:

Our house is done.

Well, pretty much.

Sunday, April 9, 2006


As I’ve mentioned, I have been sick for the entire spring break. Last night, exactly one week since the onset of the plague that has preventing me from shopping, grading, and writing a paper using critical discourse analysis, the disease staged a new and ingenious front: nausea and vomiting.

Yes. On top of the sinus pressure, the green mucus, the on-again-off-again fever, and the general exhaustion and misery, I now spend my nights sprawled on the bathroom floor praying for mercy and my days sipping water and staving off dizzy spells.

I discussed my deterioration with a sympathetic doctor today, and she suggested antibiotics and no more ibuprofen. If the vertigo continues, she says, I’ll need to be seen.

Friday, April 7, 2006

I Know What You're Thinking

You're probably thinking you're looking at the set of a Pottery Barn catalog shoot, but you're mistaken.

In fact, this is my bathroom! Isn't that wainscoting to die for! Thank you, Frank from Trading Spaces, for teaching me about the wonders of wainscot. Without you, I wouldn't have known what to call this stuff, although I still would have liked it.

Sadly, I've discovered that the shower head has about fifty times as much fashion sense as I do. It will be hard to keep up with the shower head, given the current state of my wardrobe, but I'm going to give it my best effort. The very next thing I'm going to do while pretending not to be sick (an endeavor that's had mixed results, to be sure) is take a shopping trip.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Construction Report

As I haven't had to report to work this week, I've thinking about our house quite a bit. Today, I ran into John, Slow Joe's cousin, as he was cutting some trim for the wainscoting in the bathroom. He was using the huge table saw that's discreetly taking up half of the family room.

"John," I said, feeling positive, "the bathroom looks awesome. I love it. And also the paint outside is all done!"

"Yep," he nodded, "I think it turned out great."

"Soooo," I said, looking around at the kitchen cabinets, which are installed, and the sink, which is clearly awesome, "I don't know if you've lived with your mother recently, but..."

John laughed a little and shook his head, but I didn't notice any sudden increase in the pace of cutting or anything.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006


My hatred for dogs has developed relatively recently. I surely liked Juno, the dog I grew up with. I used to let her sit on my lap, and even, God forbid, sleep in my bed.

But lately, dogs seem to me to be the most worthless, most annoying, most insidiously needy things people could possibly waste time on.

“We’re never getting a pet,” I say to Dan several times per month.

Certainly the dog bite I got last year might have contributed to my aversion to the canine, but mostly it has intensified because I’ve been living with Amber, my mom’s damn dog, for four months.

I’m almost embarrassed to say that I really, really, very strongly dislike her. I dislike her so much that Dan and I joked about having her euthanized while my mom was out of town. I know this sounds heartless and cruel, but remember that we didn’t actually do it. Instead, we fed her, gave her water, and even pet her multiple times per day. Plus, Amber herself provoked our ire by peeing all over the kitchen floor no fewer five times during the week my mom was in Arizona.

Becuase of this lack of bladder control, Shef frequently now says, “Amber peed,” when we come home from Paul’s, whether she has or hasn't.

Luckily, despite feeling so angry at the dog, who barks incessantly and refuses to obey any commands, that I flung open the door and screamed, "Amber, I hate your damn guts!" wildly into the backyard, I’m feeling a little better. Thank you for all of your well-wishes. I haven’t given up on my spring break, after all.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

I'm Feeling Bitter

Every year for the last ten, except last year when there was that shortage, I’ve dutifully lined up to get my flu shot. I hardly ever get sick, so it seemed like kind of an unnecessary precaution; but in the name of not counting chickens and knocking on wood and stuff like that I have procured the controversial vaccine each and every non-shortage year.

Every year, that is, except this year. You see, they cancelled the shot clinic at my school, and who has time to line up at Cub Foods when there are papers to grade, papers to write, lessons to plan, and a brilliant child to raise?

So, spring break started on Friday afternoon. We lived it up by going out to dinner with friends and staying up all the way until 9:30. On Saturday morning, I woke with a tickle in my throat. And today? Today I am lying flat on my back, ensconced on my couch, suffering mightily from fever, chills, muscle aches, and bright red tonsils.

I’d like to stage a protest, but my hacking cough has inhibited my vocal capacity.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Another Milestone

Shef is really a delightful child. He’s a great companion, he makes funny jokes, and of course, there’s that shake your booty stuff that’s pretty much completely irresistible.

All of this makes it that much more shocking to me that, beginning precisely on his second birthday, he significantly upped his frequency of oppositional behavior. This morning, for example, as I tried in vain to uncurl him from the fetal position he’d assumed in protest when I’d rudely suggested it was time to get dressed, I sighed loudly and said, “Shef, you just have to cooperate.”

“No coperate,” he said simply, rubbing his face into the carpet. This felt like a critical moment – a preview, if you will, of what will be typical behavior for many years to come.