Friday, January 12, 2007


Cassie doesn’t like her new teacher at preschool. I guess I should have seen this coming. My first born has always been a bit resistant to change, unless of course it's her idea. She was having so much fun with her previous teachers, Miss Dorothy and Miss Erica, but now she’s in the four-year-old room with Miss Diane and Miss Judy and she says they’re mean. I think it would be more correct to say that they’re strict, or maybe that they have higher expectations of her. After all, the four-year-old room is all about preparing kids for the high-pressure world of kindergarten, and we all know how intense that can be, right? Not that Cassie will be attending kindergarten for another year and a half...

I completely understand where Cass is coming from on this. I felt a bit pressured myself the first day I picked her up from the four-year-old room. Miss Judy, the teaching assistant, stopped me cold as I was helping Cassie put her coat on.

“You need to let Cassie do that by herself,” she said. “We expect the children in this class to put on their own coats and mittens because when they get to kindergarten, no one is going to do it for them.”

“Ah, okay. Well Cass, I think Miss Judy is right. You can put your own coat on.” And she did, with only a little bit of struggle.

“By the way, Mrs. Madden,” Miss Judy said as we gathered Cassie’s papers from her box. “Cassie also needs to learn how to hold a pencil properly. This...” she mimed holding a pencil in a clenched fist, “is not appropriate. It leads to scribbling, and we don’t do scribbling in the four-year-old room.”

“Uh, okay. Well, we’ll work on that at home.”

Cassie started showing me her class work for the day. As I was looking at it, I noticed someone had written her name on one page and Cass had traced over it. “Oh sweetie, did you trace your name? It’s very good.”

“She traced it?” Miss Judy said with a frown. “You mean Cassie doesn’t know how to write her name yet?”

I wanted to say, “Lady, give me a break. She’s not even four yet!” But I kept my mouth shut and just smiled. “We’ll work on that too.”

Ah, no pressure here. Cassie is a bright kid and I’m sure she’ll pick things up pretty quickly. After all, she made some pretty astonishing advances during her first four months of preschool. The kid who never wanted to color is suddenly obsessed with it and now draws the world’s best smiley face pictures. She’s also learned her ABC’s to the point where she can identify all the capital letters and some of the lower case ones too. Plus she can associate the correct sound with most of those letters. She can count to twenty with no problem. And she can even dress herself in the morning, with a generous amount of prodding. I think it’s amazing. I’m sure by this time next year she’ll be a wiz at holding pencils and writing her own name. I just hope she has fun along the way.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Mommy Milestones

Today in mommy history...

  • Cassie moved up to the four-year-old room at her preschool. She recognizes all her letters and numbers and likes to draw pictures of her and Mommy.

  • Sam sat up for the first time all on her own, and then got scared because she couldn’t figure out how to get back down on her tummy. She’s cutting another tooth as well, which will make a grand total of three once it comes through.

  • Mommy got to talk to another adult on the phone and actually got through most of the conversation without having to scream for quiet. Mommy also got bit by Sam’s aforementioned teeth while nursing.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

My Real New Year’s Resolutions

Okay, forget the “no eating anything larger than my head” list. This is the real deal. Right now, I’m sitting in the glider, nursing a seven month old bundle of LUV, and I’m thinking about the upcoming year. I’m only a little sleep deprived (Sam woke up twice last night, Cassie once), so I should be clear-headed enough to write something coherent.

Resolution #1: Do less. Yep, you heard me. I resolve to do less. Usually, at the beginning of a quarter or a new year, I usually put together a long list of projects that I want to complete, along with a detailed plan of how to do them. I do have the list, and it’s pretty long - a series of short stories, a novel to begin work on, some computer graphics, some animation, and oh, I promised Rick some illustrations for his video - but I am actually looking at doing less. How, you may ask? Normally, I work on a couple of projects at once. I dedicate my morning work hours to writing, my afternoon work hours to graphics and animation. Not doing that any more. I’m working on one project at a time, and only one. Sometimes a project may get interrupted, like say a short story with a tight deadline may take priority over the novel I’m working on. But that’s okay. I’ll finish the short story and go back to the novel. My hope is that by focusing my efforts on a single project at a time, I’ll actually accomplish more, not less. I plan to do this for at least six weeks. By the end of February, we’ll see if it’s worked or not.

Resolution #2: Draw a little every night. Even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. I’m not talking masterpieces here either. I want to do a little cartooning, a little doodling. Some of these cartoons may end up in my new paint program, Art Rage (it was only $20 and it works like a charm!) and get the full on treatment. We’ll see. But all I really want to do is fill a sketch book, maybe even several sketch books over the course of the year. Who knows what might come of this? At least I’ll be drawing.

Resolution #3: Set aside a little time every day to think and daydream. Thinking and daydreaming are the foundation of everything I do, especially the writing and the art. I bought a bunch of composition notebooks yesterday and labeled them all with the names of stories and ideas that I want to work on. I’d like to take some time each afternoon to just sit at a table with a cup of coffee and write out ideas for those projects in the notebook. J. K. Rowling actually writes in notebook at a café, and I love that idea. I can’t afford the café, but I can make my own coffee at home and write there. This way I can capture all those wonderful story ideas that keep popping into my head without actually doing more than one project at a time. I just give myself 15-20 minutes or so each afternoon to write in a notebook. This will hopefully save my sanity.

Resolution #4: Do a little physical therapy every day. Even doing just two exercises a day would be a huge help to my knees. And I need my knees, if I want to get down on the floor and play with my kids.

Resolution #5: Learn to relax and enjoy my family. If there’s anything I suck at, it’s taking time off and spending it with my husband and kids. I just about went crazy this holiday having Cassie and Michael home for ten days straight. I felt positively ill because I could not find time to sit and work while all the holiday stuff was going on. How wrong is that, I ask? I need to figure out how to take time off from writing and actually enjoy it. I need to remember that my family is my first priority, and work is a distant second. I don’t know how I will accomplish this, but somehow, I’ll figure it out.

Okay, I think that’s plenty of resolutions for now. I don’t want to add any more to my plate. And hopefully, some of these resolutions will take some things off of my plate.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Two Boobies, One Baby, No Exceptions

Had some fun today over at Rick and Cindy’s house. We went over to watch a friend of ours march in the Rose Bowl parade (she was one of the biker scout storm troopers that marched for George Lucas). While we were there, Sam started to fuss so I sat down to nurse her. I made the mistake of sitting on the couch next to Rick and his daughter, Izzie. Izzie is just ten days older than Sam, and also breast fed. As soon as Izzie saw what Sam was doing, she started leaning toward me, gazing at me very intently. Her look said it all. “Give me boobies... I want boobies... Give Izzie boobies...” I swear, I’ve never been hypnotized before in my life, but Izzie came pretty damn close to doing it. I explained to her that my boobies were for Sam only, but at that point she looked ready to leap out of Rick’s arms and latch on to me no matter what. Fortunately, her mommy was on hand to supply what Izzie wanted.

New Year’s Resolutions

I resolve not to eat anything larger than my head.

I resolve not to forget to exercise. Doesn’t mean I’ll do it, just that I won’t forget I’m supposed to do it.

I resolve to start calling a toilet a toilet, and not a potty.

I resolve not to let the kids watch cartoons unless I get to sit and watch them too. “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” rules!

I resolve not to eat cookies in front of my three-year-old daughter, because if she sees me eating them, then I have to share some with her.

I resolve not to stay up past 10 PM, because if I do, I’ll have no hope whatsoever of getting any sleep. Sam still wakes up twice during the night, wanting to nurse, and at least twice a week Cassie comes scrambling into our bed at 3 AM complaining of monsters in her room. None of this is conducive to sleep.

I resolve to promptly forget about all the above resolutions just as soon as I possibly can.

Another Fond Christmas Memory

Cassie got a stuffed doll for Christmas. It’s sort of a horse wearing a frilly dress with petticoats. We decided to call her Hortence. Anyway, Cassie was playing with Hortence the Horse. For some reason, Hortence “died” and Michael had to revive her. This provided some unexpected amusement...

Cassie: Daddy, Hortence died! She’s dead!”

Michael: No, sweetie. Hortence is only mostly dead, which means she’s still a little alive. You know what that means?

Cassie: Um, noooooooo...

Michael: It means we can bring her back, like this!

(Michael proceeds to give Hortence mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Hortence quickly comes back to “life.”)

Cassie (grabbing the newly revived Hortence): Mommy! Mommy! Daddy blow the horse! Daddy blow the horse!

Remember folks, if you just sprayed coffee all over your computer screen, it’s not my fault.