Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of the year wrap-up

(2006 is here, 2007 is here)

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? Started a Ph.D. program; had a son

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? My new year's resolution probably related to getting back into running and shape after the holidays; it didn't really happen due to my thyroid problems and pregnancy. I think I'd like this year's resolution to be to get a handle on my health and to continue to try to get into shape.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Me, once again. My cousin Lisa had a baby boy, Eli, in March, and my cousin Amy had a baby boy, Jack, in June. Other friends have had babies this year, too. Good year for offspring!

4. Did anyone close to you die? I have been touched by some deaths this year--my friend Bryan Graham comes to mind. I worked with him in Grand Rapids.

5. What places did you visit? Again, Iowa and Michigan. Also visited Massachusetts, Kansas, and Georgia to see schools. Went to Chicago in February for a conference. And San Diego in September for a reunion with my college roomies.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? A clean bill of health.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? December 27, Sam's birthday. May 10, the day I found out I was pregnant. June 23, Charlotte's second birthday.

8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year? Getting to make a choice about what graduate school to attend.*

9. What was your biggest failure? I can't think of anything, but then I am sleep-deprived!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Hyperthyroidism, diagnosed in June (but probably going back quite a while). No injuries!

11. What was the best thing you bought? This is kinda dorky, but I love that we have a dining table now. Family dinners are very nice when you aren't hunched over your plate on the couch.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My husband's. What a spectacular father. (Same as before, but it still stands.)

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? That girl ahead of me in line at Wal-Mart today. I'm emotionally sensitive right now and she was a jerk.

14. Where did most of your money go? Moving, rent, and visiting schools.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Eventually, about being pregnant again. About getting my Ph.D. About moving to Kansas.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? Anything by Kansas, for obvious reasons.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? Both--happy and thrilled about my family of four and my successful first semester of my doctoral program, but sad because of general post-partum blues. b) thinner or fatter? Fatter, but I just had a baby three days ago! Cut me some slack!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Reading and sleeping.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Throwing up while pregnant this summer, primarily.

20. How did you spend Christmas last year? On the road between Iowa and Michigan.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008? Yes, and his name is Sam.

22. What was your favorite TV program? Haven't watched much TV this year.

23. What did you do for your birthday in 2008? Once again, I had class. My friend Mindi came to visit that weekend, though.

24. What was the best book you read? This one is hard, as I've read lots of great books this year. I just finished Wally Lamb's latest, and liked that a lot.

25. Who was the best new person you met? So far, Sam is pretty rad.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? I'm late to this one, but I love the Decemberists.

27. What did you want and get? A healthy baby. Admission to grad school.

28. What did you want and not get? Ummm, more sleep?

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Again, haven't seen a lot of movies. Jeff and I watched Stranger Than Fiction last week and liked that a lot.

30. Did you make some new friends this year? Yes. The people here at Kansas are great.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I wouldn't have complained if this pregnancy had been nausea-free.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Stretchy pants.

33. What kept you sane? Reading and writing. Looking at my daughter's face.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I don't think I'm going to go into politics right now.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? The election, like everyone else.

36. Who did you miss? I missed my Grandpa Deur this year. I also miss my Ohio friends.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. With enough work and effort and determination, you can make your dreams come true--even lame academic dreams. :)

*This isn't about me, but Jeff: this year marked the receipt of his Ohio Arts Council Individual Creativity award for poetry. I haven't written much about this here, but I think I might soon, so watch for that if you're interested in Jeff's doings.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I have so much to say about Sam, about this delivery experience, about how enormous Charlotte suddenly seems, but first I really want to take a nice long bath in the huge jacuzzi tub in our hospital room. I promise to write more in the coming days. But I know you're all most interested in photos. In addition to the one above, you can find many more posted to flickr.com (link at right). His facial bruising from his super-quick passage down the birth canal has gone down quite a bit, so he's less purple than yesterday. He's also eating well, as evidenced by his milk mustache in several shots. Enjoy!
Sam's Here

Samuel Scott, born December 27 at 10:58 a.m. 8 lbs 4 oz, 21 1/2 inches. Perfect in every way. The rest of us are doing well, too. More pictures in days to come.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I tried to think of a couple of ways to make this post funny and clever, but to be honest I'm so grumpy and discouraged that I just really don't care. Sorry.

Last night, just hours after I posted the "status quo, still pregnant" message here, I started to have contractions. Jeff and I timed them for an hour; they were coming every 5-7 minutes and were uncomfortable enough that I had to stop talking and breath through each one. After a hour, we called my doctor; she recommended heading to the hospital to have them check me out.

Fortunately, my parents and brother arrived last night, so we didn't have to scramble to find a place for Charlotte. That's the only fortunately I can find in this, though. Ugh, I'm so crabby about it it's annoying. Sorry.

Anyway, we got to the hospital between 1:30 and 2 a.m. On the drive there I realized I wasn't really noticing contractions anymore. I started to think about how moronic I'd feel if I wasn't really in labor.

We spent a couple hours in the family birthing center. The first thing they did was check for contractions and the baby's heartrate. I was experiencing some contractions, nothing really regular, and some I couldn't even feel. Then they checked my cervix and found I was 5-6 cm dilated. That at least made me feel less like an idiot. After they checked me, we walked the halls for about forty-five minutes to see if my contractions did any work to change my cervix at all. I could tell as we were walking that not much was happening. Sure enough, at 3 a.m. I was checked again--no progress. They gave us the option of sticking around and walking some more or going home, and I decided we might as well go home and try to get some sleep.

At this point I really thought I'd be going into more active labor soon. Or soonish. Certainly, by this time. Well, we got home and after some tossing and turning, I managed to fall asleep. When I woke up, near 10 a.m., any signs of labor were gone. And so far, that's how things have stayed.

I'm so irritated right now. I feel like an imbecile for going to the hospital when I did. And I feel like my body has somehow failed me by pretending to go into labor, then, ha ha JUST KIDDING stopping. I don't even have a pithy little phrase with which to wrap up this entry. I'm that upset. Booooo.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Just to reassure you all that I'm not in labor, a post. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas eve, everyone!

I'm about to enjoy a rare movie night with Jeff, so I leave you with this:

Charlotte's Christmas Serenade!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I don't have much to say today. I'm tired out from a day filled with baby-room-cleaning activities. Fortunately, now the space is much closer to being usable.

Today, Charlotte turned 2 1/2. Jeff thought this would be an auspicious day for the boy to make his appearance, but so far, no dice.

I'm a little sad that there are only a couple of days left on our advent calendar. It's become a fun nightly tradition for us to count each little door up to the door that represents that day. I think Charlotte's counting has improved as a result. And when Christmas is past, I won't get to hear her adorable rendition of "advent calendar": "elephant candle." She loves doing the advent calendar; the anticipation is sometimes too much and she starts to freak out about it. Or perhaps that's just how she feels about her nightly chocolate fix. (I stocked each little compartment with a hershey's kiss, reese's peanut butter cup, or rolo).

Tomorrow is Christmas eve. What?! How did that sneak up on me? I guess we're ready, so it's not a big deal. I think part of the problem is that I grew accustomed to OU's schedule--getting out of classes before Thanksgiving and then having a huge long break until January was luxurious. The winter break is much shorter here, but we do finish up mid-May instead of mid-June. It's a trade-off.

Now I'm just typing to fulfill my promise to write every day, so I'll quit. Tomorrow I'm going to try to post a video of Miss C and her holiday song extravaganza.

Monday, December 22, 2008

One of the things I had jotted down on my seemingly endless to-do list was: bookshelves? Just like that, with the question mark and everything. The use of that particular punctuation mark seems a bit ridiculous. It'd be more accurate to write: bookshelves. Or: bookshelves! Or even: bookshelves... Because there's no question about it: we need more bookshelves.

I guess the question mark is a gesture toward the slight embarrassment I feel when I look around our living room and count seven bookshelves. Up in Jeff's office there are three more. Charlotte's room has a shelving unit that has become the book depository. And still we have stacks of books everywhere: on our dressers, desks, dining table, floor.

Each of the kids' rooms got a new bookshelf today. Just a cheap-o three-tier particle board bookshelf--nothing to get too excited about. But Charlotte did get excited about them. "Ooh, my new bookshelf!" she exclaimed as we set it up in her room. And then, without a hint of sarcasm (she is only 2 1/2), she said "Let's put some books on it! How fun!" Then she went to find her pocket protector and hiked her pants up to her armpits. I'm raising a dork.

I need no genetic testing to tell me that this is my child, and Jeff's. One childhood memory that has stuck with me is that of visiting the public library, and getting to check out a paper grocery sack's worth of library books on a weekly basis. That towering stack of books that I'd pile up next to my bed seemed like an endless repository of adventure. I loved to read. Loved. I devoured books. I'm still endlessly grateful to my parents for nurturing this love of reading, as it has led to my ability today to read voraciously, tirelessly, and quickly--a great skill to have as a graduate student.

Jeff's love of books is more that of the aesthete. He is not a speed-reader (and is sometimes very resentful of the fact that I am). His pace could best be described as plodding. But he savors the words he reads, slowly absorbing them and computing and finding depths of meaning in texts that I might miss.

Charlotte has inherited my voracious appetite for books, and Jeff's attention to details and words. She loves to be read to, and will ask anyone she meets to do so. Every week or so she has a new favorite book, one that she'll want to have read repeatedly, even though I know she knows it by heart. (This week's book is "Snow" by P.D. Eastman; yesterday, I heard her "read" most of the book, fairly accurately, to herself. Nothing is cuter). She has learned about rhymes, and will call out when something rhymes (hence another new favorite, "There's a Wocket in my Pocket" by Dr. Seuss). She'll listen to the language and pays attention to the illustrations, noticing emotions on the faces of the characters, or when the dog from the previous page is missing, for example.

One of the things she promises the baby is that "she'll read him her books." I have no doubt she'll make good on that promise. And that's one of the images that made me confident that I wanted a second child, no matter how unpleasant pregnancy might have been: the picture I had in mind of Charlotte and a younger sibling reading books together on the couch. That's about as utopian as I can imagine things.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

This morning, we dressed Charlotte in her Christmas dress just in case we don't make it to the Christmas Eve service. Besides, this outfit was too adorable to only wear once. I took advantage of the opportunity to take our family Christmas picture.

Not pictured: Me waddling over to painfully grunt my way to the ground every time I set the self-timer function on the camera; the dozen or so pictures with Jeff's eyes closed (the family curse!); me promising Charlotte a cookie just as soon as the pictures were done...no, not yet, just one more, please, sit still ARGH.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Today I finished my final seminar paper for the semester. Immediately after I realized I was done (save final copy-editing, printing and handing in), I announced the news to Jeff and Charlotte. We celebrated by dancing to some Guns N Roses (I'm serious). Not long after, I crashed. I didn't realize I had been riding an anxiety high for the past...oh, two weeks? I'm exhausted. I need a good night of sleep (not likely to happen at nine months pregnant) and a day filled with anything but analysis of primary sources and critical texts. I need to go to bed at night without the names of the characters about which I'm writing running through my head. I need to spend some time with my family of three before it becomes a family of four.

Now that I'm done, I have feelings of both overwhelming freedom and anxiety about all the non-school-related stuff I've been postponing. I need to prioritize what really needs to happen in the next couple of days and what can wait, so I can actually find some time to relax. One thing I plan on doing is updating this blog every day until the baby's born. It might not be a big-deal post, but you can count on something here from now until the birthday (whenever that might be).

Some reflections on my first semester of my doctoral program:

In many ways, this semester was easier than any quarter I had during my time in my MA program. Primarily this is due to my fellowship, which frees me from teaching this first year. I was free to focus only on my own studies--no course planning, no lecturing, no grading. That was a huge relief.

In other ways, though, this semester was difficult. Because of my fellowship, I took three graduate classes this semester (a normal load with teaching is two). Three grad courses makes for a lot of reading, writing, and class time. At times it was overwhelming, and I didn't think I'd be able to get all the work done. I think I'm most proud to say that I completed every assignment, and that I did so in a way that I can feel confident in.

I'm also really pleased with the final projects/papers I put together for each of my classes. The seminar paper is one of the more difficult tasks a graduate student faces. It becomes more and more difficult to find something original to say about a work of literature, something that engages what has already been said but poses new and interesting questions or ideas about the topic. More than once I thought I had a great topic for one of papers only to find out after further research that Dr. So-and-so already published a paper on that topic in 2004 or whatever. Great...back to the drawing board. But this painful process forced me to come up with what I think were really innovative ideas about the texts, ideas that I can truly call my own. I think that's one of the benchmarks of a scholar--truly original ideas.

Of course, I haven't gotten any of my final papers' grades yet, so we'll see if I revise my feelings about my papers later.

I'm sure I have other things to say about my first semester here, but my brain is on shut-down mode and I think chocolate might be required.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stasis: Noun. sta·sis Pronunciation: \ˈstā-səs\

1: a: a state of static balance or equilibrium: stagnation b: a state or period of stability during which little or no evolutionary change in a lineage occurs

Well, it would be hard to convincingly argue that I'm in a state of stability during which little change in lineage is occurring considering my status as an incubator for a little person. But other than that, things around here are in a state of stasis. Status quo. Holding pattern. Etc.

In addition to continuing to bake a tiny baby in my Dutch oven (uh, metaphor! Not a cannibal!), I also am trying to summon up enough academic creativity and willpower to finish these last two papers. I'm constantly distracted by each little twinge or thump. Last night I spent an hour timing and panicking over what turned out to be indigestion. Then, exhausted by that, I went to bed at 9 p.m. An entire night of writing lost due to my wacky bowels.

To be honest, the task ahead seems impossible. Perhaps that's why I'm so easily distracted. 35 pages worth of coherent academic argument in 3 days? Wait, it IS impossible. Crap.

Things I promise to bring to my faithful blog readers once those 35 pages are under my belt: obligatory pictures of our Christmas tree; video of Charlotte singing Christmas songs; some new Charlotte quotes; more stories about my digestive system. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In the last week, I have:

Assembled and frozen six casseroles for baking post-baby
Purchased and put up a Christmas tree (with Jeff and Charlotte's assistance, of course)
Put up my other Christmas decorations (nothing too elaborate, just the mantel)
Researched and narrowed down topics for three final papers
Nearly finished one of the three papers
Pre-registered at the hospital

Oh, and:

Managed not to have a baby.

Whew. Next up:

Write the other two papers (by next week)
Finish Christmas shopping
Wrap Christmas presents
Bake cookies
Clean my poor neglected house
Wash the baby's clothes that haven't been washed yet
Finish packing my bag for the hospital
Post something more substantial and entertaining to my blog!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Word of the Day: Panic!

Sonogram and doctor's appointment this morning. Sonogram revealed the baby weighs about 6 pounds, 6 ounces. That's how much I weighed when I was born. (Yes, I know weight estimates are notoriously off at this late stage, but still...my intuition tells me this is at least close to accurate as I am feeling GREAT with child).

Then, my doctor checked me (you know, pelvically) and told me I was three centimeters dilated. Uh, beg pardon?

Now, I know this doesn't necessarily mean anything. I was 2-3 centimeters dilated two weeks before Charlotte was born. And it's normal to dilate a litte bit earlier with subsequent pregnancies. So it's not like the baby's gonna fall out at any moment or anything (oh, if only it were that easy!). But my doctor did say she'd be very, very surprised if I make it to January.

Dear Santa: please let me make it until after December 16, when my last project is due for school. Twelve days...that's not too much to ask, right?

Now I have lists running through my head...things I need to buy and do and get and make before the baby arrives. I'm off to devote those things to paper since my brain is a sieve.

Oh, and everything else looked fine with the baby. He obligingly turned his face toward the screen and gave us a nice profile shot. He was also more than happy to give us an obligatory genital view. Still there!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Oh, poor Jeff. Let's get that last entry off the top of the page, shall we?

It wasn't my intention to leave it up there that long, but Thanksgiving weekend travel and school work intervened. Yesterday I flipped open my little pocket planner/calendar thing, and noted that it was December. Then I saw all these deadlines (final papers, exams, presentations, last day of classes, hospital tour, CHRISTMAS) coming up. When these dates were safely on another, unseen calendar page, everything seemed doable. Now, all these really important things are suddenly tomorrow! Or next week! Oh, and did I mention I'm 34 weeks pregnant? That means my due date is NEXT MONTH. Gulp.

But let's not worry about that now! I mean, you don't have to worry about it at all. I'm the one who needs to worry. I guess what I mean is, how about I don't burden you with my panic right now. Agreed? Great.
Instead, I'd like to offer a brief, partial, and belated list of things for which I am thankful: our nice cozy home here in Lawrence; my really awesome classes and professors this semester; the friends I've made here at KU; the friends I miss from Iowa, college, Michigan, and OU; my family, close and extended, who are all really good people who seem to genuinely care about me (and not just because of Charlotte or the baby boy, either); Earl Grey tea; dark Belgium chocolate hot cocoa; cookie dough; the smell of woodsmoke in my neighborhood when I walk to the bus stop; stretchy pants; the smell of crayons and playdoh;

But most of all I'm thankful for these two clowns: