Monday, July 28, 2008

Six Random Things about Kaza

I owe Followthatdog (of From Stage Dives to Station Wagons) this meme, which I may have done wrong if the answers were supposed to be brief. They aren’t, so get comfortable people!

Six Random Things about Kaza:

1. Though I love to be tagged, I am like a deer in the headlights when I sit down to actually do a meme. My thoughts go something like this: “Six random things about me? … Uh… um… okay… thinkthinkthinkthink… uh, well… (mind completely blank, unable to come up with even one single random thing)… uuhhhhh...(I’m not kidding. Nothing. Nada. No ideas.)… um… come on Kaz, it’s not THAT hard... 6 measly things about yourself, you, the person you know best in the world… crap, maybe I should do this later… No! You need to do this now… Think, woman, think! Aaagh!” And so it goes. The same exact thing happens when anyone asks me my favorite anything, or my most embarrassing moment or whatever. Total blank. This even happens with simple things, like when my husband asks me EVERY NIGHT what I want for dinner. All food leaves my head right then and I can’t come up with a single idea.

2. In order to get the ideas flowing, all I have to do is walk away from the task and go do something mundane: pee, take a shower, do the dishes, something like that. Usually it only takes a few seconds for my mind to kick into gear and work on the problem. But it won’t work with just anything. The task has to be truly mindless, requiring no thought whatsoever, and I have to get through it uninterrupted (a difficult requirement to fulfill with a 3-year-old around). For instance, the idea to use my difficulty AS the first random thing? Came to me when I took a break to pee and was (miraculously) for once not interrupted by the Little One in the process.

3. I hate talking on the phone. I’m very chatty in person and in writing (hence the very existence of this blog!), but I just HATE communicating via phone. I avoid answering phone calls, and always check the caller ID before deciding whether or not to answer (I happen to believe that you have the right to decide when to be interrupted, even by family, and therefore should not feel obligated to answer if you are busy or just not in the mood to talk right then). I prefer email and getting together in person (preferably arranged via email rather than by phone). Because let’s face it, there are three types of people you talk to on the phone socially: those with whom you love to talk and could go on forever (so why not just get together?), those with whom you have little to talk about and thus the conversation is either going to devolve into meaningless small talk or drift off into horridly uncomfortable silences (so why not just email to keep in touch, if you must?), or those who chatteronandonandwon’tletyougetawordinedgewise
(so you avoid their calls altogether because you get enough of that form of torture already from your preschooler, thankyouverymuch). I’ve tried emailing those in my life who fall into this latter category, but find they are just as bad about the back-and-forth nature of emailing as they are with the concept of the social exchange known as a “conversation.”

4. Though I am a voracious reader and love reading more than any other activity, for some reason I can’t read in the morning. My eyes won’t focus, my mind won’t settle, and if I try to do it I end up just wanting to go back to sleep instead. But around 3:00 or so, all I want to do is curl up with a book and keep reading until I’m too hungry to go on. This never happens now that I’m a mama, but was my favorite way to spend the afternoon and early evening in my pre-mama days (and I liked to follow it up with another session of reading in bed after dinner, during commercials while watching something on t.v.).

5. (Uh-oh. I was on a roll there but I’m going blank again. But I don’t have to pee and already took a shower today, so I guess I’d better go wash a dish. But. I. Don’t. Want.To. Okay, I thought of one. Phew. Narrow escape from housework there.) I cannot truly enjoy drinking wine out of anything but a real wine glass. Don’t get me wrong, I WILL drink it out of a different receptacle, but there is a distinct diminishment in the experience if I have to sip it from an ordinary glass, and I am downright dissatisfied if I must drink out of plastic or (God forbid!) styrofoam. Call me a snob if you will, but trust me, even two-buck-chuck tastes better if served in the proper stemware.

6. I have a wicked sense of humor and a potty mouth, but people generally never suspect I have either of these qualities when they first meet me. Apparently I look like someone full of sugar and spice and everything nice, but I’m actually a sarcastic martini mom to the core.

There! I did it! Deer in the headlights no more. (Until my husband asks me what I want for dinner, which should happen any minute now so I really should start thinking about food. Food... umm... what would be good? Um.... Nothing. Nada. Aaagh! Deer in the headlights again!)

Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
Let your tagger know when your blog entry is up.

I am tagging the following, but I’m not sure if this meme has been around for awhile, so if you’ve done it before, no pressure to do it again (but feel free to put the link to your previous meme post in the comments).

Catnip (of course!)
Sassy Irish Lassie
Flea D’Lure
Jen of Cheaper Than Therapy
The McMommy Chronicles

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Who IS that?

So I was in my bedroom, and glanced up on my dresser, where I saw a photograph from a few years ago. The Little One was about 4 months old, so I was a new mama. It was one of our first photos as a new family, taken by my sister-in-law. It's an awesome photo. But. As I gazed at it tonight, my reaction was: who IS this woman? Because: I. did. not. recognize. myself.

No one can explain to you how becoming a mother will transform your very being. In my case, I truly became a different person. That's always true of us, as we age and acquire experience and (hopefully) wisdom. But there's something about the transformation of motherhood that is particularly profound, and it's something I'm still trying to comprehend. Because that photograph of me is so poignant and almost heartbreaking. I looked so YOUNG. I had endured those months of mothering a newborn, with all of the sleep deprivation and (in my case) postpartum crazy. But the experience hadn't altered me enough yet. It didn't show in the photograph. The only evidence of my transformation was the baby in my arms.

It happened to my husband too, for I hardly recognize him. He looks fresh and youthful in a way he hasn't in quite awhile (sorry hon!). I'm beginning to understand why it was so jarring to find photographs of my parents when they were first married and when my brother and I were first born. It was because we didn't quite recognize them. But we didn't understand why.

I've thought of changing the photograph in the frame on my dresser, as it doesn't represent who we are now, and I like to move forward rather than dwelling on the past. But I can't quite bring myself to do it. I'm not ready to let go of her yet. Not the baby that my daughter was, for there are far cuter photos of her from that period, and beyond. The person I'm not ready to put away just yet is the new mother that I was then. She was a person born out of the crucible of my experience of childbirth and the weeks that followed, which were sacred in their pain, terror, wonder, and discovery. She was someone I would very much like to go back to hug and reassure that it would all turn out alright. She is someone gone forever, yet still deep inside of me. And I don't want to forget.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Impossibility of Her Seemingly Simple Request

This morning the Little One woke me with a very clear request: she wanted a big brother, please. This one took me by surprise. Up until this point she had been asking for a brother AND a sister, but understood that she would be the big sister and was excited about teaching them everything. So I figured our biggest worry would be how she would react when she discovered that she would be getting one or the other and not both (unless, that is, we hit the twin jackpot as requested, a thought both frightening and delightful at this point in my life). But the older sibling request was a new one.

I remember desperately wanting an older sib myself, so it shouldn't have been such a surprise. I was not only the oldest in my immediate family but also the oldest of all the cousins, so I had no one to dote on me or protect me. My little brother (who often wished to be the older one) and I would sometimes play at being the "other" sibling, trying to fulfill each other's wish. But it wasn't the same thing. Especially because I really wanted a big sister. I imagined just how she would be: tall, athletic, with long blonde hair, a sparkling laugh, and a special wink just for me, her adored baby sister.

When the Little One made her request this morning, I took a deep breath and then explained that it was impossible. She was crushed. She asked again, begging. I had to tell her again that it just doesn't work that way. I offered what I knew would be slim consolation: the fact that she has older cousins who could act like older sibs to her. She wasn't buying it. I completely and totally understood.

It turns out that her request was inspired by a segment on this morning's Sesame Street, in which a big brother was taking loving care of his little sister, including (from what I could piece together from the Little One's description) helping her to do a handstand. (Or perhaps holding her feet up so she could play "wheelbarrow? It was one or the other. Her description and miming of the scene was a bit difficult to interpret.) It broke my heart a little to think of her watching this and the desire forming in her heart for a big brother of her own. Sigh.

I'm hoping that the joys of being a big sister will be just the balm she needs for the wound sustained this morning when we told her she would never have an older sib. And I dearly hope we will get the opportunity to give her that gift. I'll be 41 next month, so the clock is not just ticking, it's now tocking, loudly. Time to get busy! (Pun FULLY intended.) ;)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mama, Will You Play with Me?

If you have a child over the age of 3, you hear this plaintive inquiry at least once a day, often accompanied by sad puppy-dog eyes and usually followed with "Pleeeaaase?" The first time the little one asked me directly to play with her, it took me aback. It made her seem so much more grown up suddenly, to be asking for interaction rather than demanding it. It also made it harder to keep doing my grown-up activities in the face of such a simple and heartfelt request.

During these weeks of teaching a summer intensive class, our routine goes something like this: we wake up and get going (this involves COFFEE and bleary-eyed viewing of morning shows before all else). Then I must prep for teaching. I'm home, so we're all together (the hubster is home too, teaching his own summer course online, the lucky bastard), but the Little One must entertain herself. She does so willingly most mornings. Soon it's time for me to get dressed and go. I'm gone for about four hours. Then when I get home, she leaps on me and won't leave my side until bedtime. When this happened on the first day I decided to roll with it, and told her that when I got home each day we'd have "our special time together," and she beamed. After changing out of work clothes, I tell her "I'm ALL yours," and she whoops with delight. And then we play.

Sounds perfect, right? Here's the problem: I may be home from teaching, but I'm most definitely NOT finished with work. And then there are the household demands as well. I give my time to her first, having remembered a piece of advice in a book that promised you the ability to get other things done if you focused completely on your child(ren) for at least that first 30 minutes after you get home. But that hour of playtime isn't always enough for her. Just this afternoon she melted down completely when I tried to gently pull away from playing to do something else. I wasn't going to leave the room, I told her we could sit together and I would watch her draw, but it wasn't enough unless I continued to play with her.

I know some of what I'm feeling is classic working mother guilt. After more than a month of being home with her this summer, we had fallen into a routine. I was with her constantly, so it was easy to play for a half hour here and there. She didn't miss me, I was never away, so there was no guilt. And I feel guilty as well because... um, well... (shh... it's a secret!)... I don't like playing very much. I can do it for awhile, but I begin to lose my nut if forced to play for very long. (Please, please tell me you all hate it too, or else I'll feel like the worst mother in the world... again!) But those things aside, truly, there are things to be done when I get home and not enough hours in the day to do them all.

So how do you negotiate this? What strategies have you developed for balancing the attention your kids need with the things you must do?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Toon Tuesday: WHAT?!

So here's the doodle of the week. The Hubster told me it was inspired by my recent efforts to work at home with the Little One underfoot. I guess he's been noticing my frustration with the constant interruptions! I'm sure you all can relate.

In other news, a few bloggy friends grabbed yesterday's post for a meme. Check out the foodie facts of The Mom at Cheaper Than Therapy, Does Anybody Hear Me at Don't Get Married, You Won't Like It, and Adriane at Flea D'Lure. Gals, consider yourself tagged in arrears (no pun intended), and I'm adding tags for Catnip (I owed you one!) and Ninja Poodles (who I know is thinking about food a lot this summer and who I think could use some distraction this week if she's feeling up to it).

And I won a giveaway over at Trenches of Mommyhood's review blog! Our CO2 alarm broke recently, so it's a very timely win. It's my first ever (I never win anything), so I'm really excited.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Five Facts about my Foodie Self

I've got too many exams to grade, so I'm pulling out a list I've been working on. It was meant to be much longer, a foodie version of a things-about-me list, but this is as far as I got before forgetting about it in my post idea file (what, like you don't have one?). So here you go. These are the first five things to know about me when it comes to food and drink.

1. I love salt. I once salted ham at Easter dinner. I’m not kidding. This story is legendary in my family. And whoever introduced my husband and I to kosher salt should really be in our will. We can’t afford good sea salt right now, so kosher salt is da bomb!

2. I also love lemon. I put it on almost everything. Just ask my husband. (It is a source of great consternation to him, but I feel vindicated when, time and time again, I see a famous chef on t.v. saying, “And for acidity, we need to add some lemon juice…” Because it’s just so awesome, what lemon does for food.) And in my opinion, there are very few foods that cannot be improved with a bit of lemon juice for that perfect, bright acidity.

3. I am the condiment queen. Seriously. I love condiments. I think I have a minimum of at least three or four that I must have for every meal. As I eat my food I am continually evaluating my condiment need, and at home I usually get up at least once to procure an additional condiment. Yes, I annoy my husband with this habit but no, I don’t care. I needs my condiments, people!

4. I LOVE wine. I also love a good martini and the occasional smooth scotch whiskey. But wine is my poison. My favorite? The terribly unfashionable malolactic Chardonnay: big, bold, full-bodied, really heavy and butterscotchy. The experts will often tell you that this wine is awful, that it doesn’t go with anything, but I say drink what you like. I also love really spicy Zinfandels, but I can’t afford them at the moment.

5. In the morning, I love a proper cappuccino, preferably prepared by a real barista at a proper bar in Italy, the kind that serves perfect cappuccine in the morning (which you drink standing at the bar while munching on a delicious brioche) and then transformes into a drinking bar in the late afternoon (so you return in the evening for a nice glass of Prosecco and the Italian version of bar snacks). I haven’t yet found a place here that does a cappuccino properly in the Italian way, though there are two local joints that do them quite well.

What about you, my bloggy friends? What are the five most important facts about you when it comes to your food and drink?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Where I've Been This Week

Work stole my week from me somehow. As I've blogged about before, most university professors and instructors work a 9-month contract and then become essentially self-employed in the summer, working on career advancement tasks such as preparing articles for publication and developing new courses. But some of us also teach a summer class or two at some point. Because I was an adjunct last year and therefore making next to nothing, I leapt at the opportunity to accept a summer class, not knowing whether I would have work for the next year or not. As it turns out, I've got a one-year contract for next year, but the summer class was a done deal by the time that came about. SO, to make a short story much too long, this means I'm now teaching a 5 week intensive course two hours a day, five days a week.

But it's just two hours a day Kaza! Why is a two hour course kicking your ass? Because it's two hours in the classroom, but many more spent prepping, answering emails, copying handouts and quizzes and exams, and, above all, GRADING. It's teaching three weeks of material each week. It's SO much more work than I thought it would be. And it's even worse because the class is smack-dab in the middle of the day, which means prepping at home in the morning with the Little One underfoot (the hubster is home but trying to do his own work before I leave), then commuting, then stopping into the office briefly to make copies and talk to my chair (that's academic-speak for head of the department, I'm not talking to the chair I sit in... I am definitely a bit crazy right now but not holding discussions with the furniture...yet), then running into class and boring them silly for two hours straight, then answering a bazillion questions (okay, more like five or six), then commuting back, then spending some time playing with the Little One who sticks to me like glue after I return, then the whole dinner/bath/bed/etc routine. So somehow one two hour-a-day class is turning into more than I expected, and I still have all of that career-advancement (and in my case, job search) stuff to do.

This is all my way of helping you to understand why I ended up on the bed in our home office on Thursday night, curled up in the fetal position whimpering. The hubster looked at me and asked what was wrong. I told him it was nothing really, just that I was spending nearly every moment of every day answering questions and needs and right now I don't have any time in the day when I can finish a task or even a thought uninterrupted (even while driving I'm interrupted by the abysmal driving in this town).

But today is Saturday!!! I haven't looked forward to the weekend this much in two months. I'm off to play.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cocktail Hour!

I somehow missed doing Toon Tuesday yesterday, so here's a doodle today, in honor of the favorite time of day in my house. It's a bit embarrassing that my 3-year-old knows the word "cocktail" and says "Yay!" whenever we announce the hour, but to her it means that Mama and Daddy will stop working immediately and that we will often put music on and dance with her. And there are always snacks, so who wouldn't love that?

Monday, July 7, 2008

I Would Have Had a New Post Up Sooner, but I Broke My Eyes

Okay, so I didn't actually break my eyes. It only felt that way. A week ago I spent the entire day reading blogs. As in at least 8 hours at the computer with very few breaks. And then I followed that up with two or three hours of reading in bed by my dim bedside light (it was the hubster's poker night so I was able to indulge my inner bookworm more completely than usual). Once upon a time this would not have been a problem, but my friends, I am almost 41 years old, and my eyes aren't working like they once did. So I ended up with the worst case of eye strain I've ever had, and couldn't use the computer for more than a brief 20 minutes in the morning without my eyes going completely wonky. This lasted pretty much all week, especially after I tempted fate on the one morning when they felt better by blogging and reading blogs for three or four hours in a row (can you say "addict"?). I was beginning to worry that I actually had "broken" my eyes. OR that this was actually a sign of a brain tumor or a terrible neurological condition. Because that's how we roll here at Casa de Kaza (otherwise known as Health Anxieties R Us).

I soon began to imagine my life without reading, which is not only a significant part of my professional life but is also my personal passion. Life without reading? Incomprehensible. I became irritable and despondent just imagining it.

BUT fortunately the hubster talked me down off the ledge and convinced me it was just eye strain, and, after a few days of eye rest, and reading only while using my two pairs of magnification glasses (one for reading and one for computer work, both of which are cheap, uncomfortable, and exceedingly outdated but even so somewhat functional), AND severely limiting my reading time, both on and off the computer (the horror!), my eyes seem to have recovered.

It's time to face facts: I am officially middle-aged, and I therefore need bifocals and a new pair of computer glasses. But at least my eyes aren't broken. (Phew!)

P.S. Thanks to all of you who gave me so much comment love on my last post! I was geeking out with excitement, I know, but I really appreciate the warm congratulations. I am so loving the blogosphere and all of my new bloggy friends.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

It's Official... I'm Saucy!!!

Hey, psst... have you heard the news? I've just made the "Saucy Blogs" list over at The Secret is in the Sauce! If you're a SITsta already and you're here to check me out, welcome! Come in and stay awhile. If you're not a part of the SITS revolution, what are you waiting for? Clicky clicky the linky linky up there or over on my sidebar button, and join up! It's free, it's easy, and it's just about the best way I've found to meet awesome bloggers. All you have to do is add your comment to the roll call every day and then go give some comment love to the featured blogger. Heather and Tiffany even help by pointing you to a few of their fave posts by the SITsta of the day. I also encourage you to visit their blogs IMMEDIATELY, as they are both amazing mamas with a lot of very funny things to say. I've hyperlinked it all up for you, so go get in on the fun. (And if you love to cook, or just read about food, they've just launched the Saucy Eats recipe site as well!)

As for me, I'm going to go revel in my sauciness now. Watch this space for lots more Kazatude in the days to come. (And for my regulars, I know I missed Toon Tuesday this week, but never fear, the hubster has some new doodles so look for a new one next week.) Enjoy the holiday everyone.