The Pregnant Waddle

Pre-Pregnancy Weight Just Around the Corner (It's Trying to Run and Hide)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ngaire and Isaiah

In the church nursery two Sundays ago, Ngaire’s little friend Isaiah was lying on his back on the floor. Ngaire crawled over to him, pulled up his shirt, zerbered his tummy, and stuck her finger in his belly button.

Poor Isaiah just lay there looking long-suffering.

I, of course, was thrilled. I’ve spent many hours trying to teach her to stick her finger in the Husbandlet’s belly button. It’s good to know my lessons have sunk in.

Looking for Daddy

After school one day last week, Ngaire and I were waiting with my father on my parents’ porch for the Husbandlet to come pick us up. Ngaire was sitting with her back to the door. We heard the car pull in, and my dad said, “Daddy’s here!” And Ngaire jumped, and looked over her shoulder.

Looking for keys

The other day, the Husbandlet and I were playing on our bed with Ngaire. She was flapping my keys around, and I became concerned that she might stab herself or Daddy in the eye with them, so when the Husbandlet distracted her for a moment, I hid the keys behind me. Ngaire finished with her distraction, and started looking around purposefully. She spotted the Husbandlet’s keys on his cedar chest at the foot of the bed, and took off after them. The Husbandlet caught her as she crawled off the edge of the bed. However, as he lifted her up, his keys were clutched tightly in her hand.

This reminds me of the time she crawled off the edge of my mom’s bed after a dish of almonds. The Husbandlet caught her as she swooped and grabbed, and despite a lot of swinging about, she managed to keep the dish upright and not lose a single almond in the whole endeavor.

Bad, bad, bad, bad frustrations, or, This should have been at least two posts. Maybe three.

I try not to blog about work for fear of getting dooced, so this will have to be rather vague. Every year of my tenure at this school, I have experienced a Crisis, sometimes Two Crises, usually occurring toward the end of the school year when graduation is in sight and tensions are high. This year has been relatively smooth, probably because I’m no longer teaching seniors. But an acquaintance of mine is.

The course he teaches offers two credits, one for class and one for an extracurricular activity. Many of his students have failed to engage in this extracurricular activity (hereafter E.A.), and so will get only one credit for the year. No big deal; most of them are blowing off his class (an elective, into which a choice group of apathetics have been dumped) anyway.

One student, though, is in such peril of not graduating because after four years of high school, the student is barely scraping by with the credits to the point where if the student does not get the credit for the E.A., the student will not graduate. Let’s all repeat together: Good planning! Never mind that the student is also currently failing two courses necessary for graduation. Those courses can be retaken in summer school, but an elective cannot. And remember, the student really really really needs that one credit.

The only problem being, the student has not engaged in the E.A. At all. All year.

My acquaintance, of course, has mentioned to the student at several points throughout the year the necessity of engaging in the E.A. He was not aware that the student really really really needed the one credit, but even if he had known this, there wasn’t much he could have done about it aside from physically dragging the student to the E.A. on a daily basis.

So, the student’s guidance counselor has been firing off emails to my acquaintance and the school’s administrators about my acquaintance’s incompetence. (My acquaintance, I must say, has been extremely gracious—and feeling extremely guilty, though this isn’t in any way his fault—about the whole thing.) My acquaintance, bending over backwards, has been tootling around the school trying to locate people with the authority to fix/override this issue. The buck has been passed up to my acquaintance’s departmental head, who, incidentally, was fired (no, I mean “promoted”) from her last job—as principal of our high school. Her solution: have the student write a short research paper and assign it a grade to cover all 540 hours of the neglected E.A.

Now, to me, it’s pretty clear, as it has been for the past three years, that this school will do just about anything to graduate students—never mind if the students do passing work or even, technically, work. Never mind that this particular student will probably do no research on and/or plagiarize the entire paper. And if the paper is poorly done/plagiarized? I can guarantee the administrators will not back up my acquaintance should he assign the paper a failing grade. I know this because it’s happened to me.

My acquaintance is not allowed to fail the student, even by merely acknowledging that the student has not done any part of a credit that was supposed to involve engaging in an E.A. for the entire school year. He is being asked to pretend that, in fact, the E.A. was done, and to essentially make up a grade for this figmental E.A.

If that is our administrators’ attitude, why make students attend class at all? Why not just pretend they’ve attended a year’s worth of classes, and then pull a figure out of the air—preferably an A; that’ll show we’re a High School That Works—to assign their imaginary output?

Academic honesty is such a needlessly nebulous thing. It seems to me that schools have become so concerned with student success, as measured in passing and graduation rates, that they have lost sight of what education is really about. My honors class is a microcosm of this. All A and B students; nearly all rampant cheaters. I try to design most work so that students can “help” each other, because I know they will whether I allow it or not. Tests and papers are the final frontier, and I for one will hold out for academic honesty on these as long as I’m in education and forever thereafter.

What bothers me about all this is that if our students stole objects with the frequency that they steal ideas and words, they would be prosecuted. I am a person who made it through 22 years of school without ever plagiarizing anything (except for that time I looked at the math paper of the person next to me, in second grade, but let’s not talk about that), and I worked damn hard. I worked for my grades the way I work for my paycheck; I craft ideas the way someone else might build a house or paint a picture. I have nothing but contempt for a student—any student—who chooses the easy way out of academic dishonesty over the fruits, however unsatisfactory, of legitimate labor.

But there is a larger issue of academic honesty at stake here: the academic honesty of those who promote a student to the next level, who assign a grade, who sign a diploma. An administrator who says that a student has done all the work necessary to earn a diploma when that student has not is lying. A teacher who passes a child just to get him out of that particular grade, because God forbid we deal any blow to the child’s self-esteem and assign an F, is lying. A parent who covers up a child’s academic weaknesses by insisting that teachers and administrators do these things is lying. They are all lying about the child’s abilities and saying something has been accomplished that, in fact, has not. And that’s when a diploma becomes worthless.

Last year, I confronted an issue of academic dishonesty which still has me reeling … and I’m not even talking about the student’s lack of honesty, though it was impressive. I was ordered by my administrators to pass this student, which I did and for which I am still rather ashamed. It all came down to how much trouble and stress I was willing to cause myself and my husband, especially when the outcome was foregone. The student would pass; the only variables were how much time I might spend fighting it and whether I would subsequently have a job.

(As a side note, I Googled my former student today, and found that the student has lied in a press release about the student’s senior year GPA. I know it wasn’t a 4.0, because I personally gave that student a D.)

Allowing academic dishonesty does no one any favors. It discredits the institutions that allow it, and it turns students into sociopaths who believe lying, cheating and stealing are relative and rules don’t apply to them. And it penalizes those who are honest by degrading the value of their diplomas.

I don’t really know how to end this—I’m having trouble stopping writing. Um, go to church*! And read I am Charlotte Simmons.

The End

(no part of this essay was plagiarized in any way)

* sorry, a rather weak inside joke that maybe nobody in my circle of friends but me remembers … The main point of many convoluted sermons … I’m done now.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Today, I have:

* Organized baby clothes into Keep, Donate, and Send to Roomie boxes.
* Moved the Husbandlet’s very heavy desk into a new position in our bedroom (the Husbandlet is out of town at a wedding and thus cannot protest).
* Vacuumed my room.
* Washed and dried three loads of laundry.
* Washed dishes.
* Washed the baby.
* Cooked baby food.
* Removed several lots of scary-looking food from our fridge.
* Chased a wolf spider and (possibly) a black widow. Actually, the black widow chased me. I didn’t catch either.
* Had phone conversations with Becky and my very sleepy (at 11 a.m.!) brother-in-law.
* Updated my blog (twice!).

After Ngaire’s bath and re-dressing, around 5 p.m., I lay in an exhausted heap on the sofa whilst the Squid did her little Padding Bear Cub number around the room, pulling things off shelves. She padded over toward the sofa and disappeared from view. Then one little hand appeared, gripping the sofa by my head, then a beaming Ngaire face. She stood there and we just laughed at each other for awhile.

Her hair is starting to fluff out over her ears; she is getting to be less of a baby and more a little girl every day. She can also stand, now, for several seconds at a time. She slept in an adorable fallen-forward heap during one of her naps today, having evidently fallen asleep mid-protest. She can crawl after me from room to room, now, but can also entertain herself for long stretches of time with toys or standing at a glass door. She’s really quite companionable; we both miss the Husbandlet, but I definitely do not feel lonely.

Sorry if this gets tedious … I realize from time to time how much of Ngaire’s development I’ve forgotten already, which always inclines me to obsessively document her every adorable move. Of course, when I’m not doing that, on this blog, I’m obsessively writing about myself, so why should this post be different from all other posts?

Ooh, there goes the wolf spider again.

Must-haves?

My college roomie is expecting a baby girl in October. She asked me to compile a list of things one actually should register for (as opposed to what Babies R Us says you should register for). The Husbandlet's cousin performed a similar service for me when I was pregnant, and I've happily begun a list. However, maybe it's leftover pregnancy brain being enhanced by mommy brain, but I'm having a tough time remembering what one needs for a tiny infant, and find myself writing things like "Books! Spoons! Baby fences!"

So, any suggestions? What was most useful to you as a new mommy? What do you wish, in retrospect, that you had got your hands on?

Ngaire moments

Yesterday morning, I set the Squid on my bedroom floor while I got her lunch ready. She crawled into the kitchen—yes, our bedroom is just off the kitchen—still in her wearable blanket, and I saw her batting at the floor. Looking closer, I realized that she had found and was happily interacting with a trail of rather disconcerted ants.

I’m told that she similarly traumatized a bug on Tuesday.

* * *

Yesterday, Ngaire and I played together on the floor. (You will be relieved to learn that I share toys very well.) I stacked up some blocks. Ngaire knocked them down. I said, “Aaah!” I stacked them again. Ngaire knocked them down. Ngaire said, “Aaah!” in exactly the same pitch and tone as my squawk.

We may not have taught her English yet, but at least the Husbandlet and I are progressing quite nicely in our study of Squid.

* * *
Yesterday evening, I read Ngaire a Sandra Boynton book. This tends to be a chaotic experience, since Ngaire does not read books in a linear fashion, or indeed read them at all so much as flip pages randomly and then eat them. After I finished reading, we sat for awhile so Ngaire could gnaw the book as per usual. But I noticed that instead of her random flip and eat, she was turning pages from front to back, babbling all the while as if reading them out loud.

* * *

This morning, Ngaire was in her MegaSaucer, jumping away. (Lately, she has been far more interested in the delightfully loud noise it makes when she jumps in her saucer than in actually playing with the toys.) She cast me a brilliant smile, and I knelt down next to her to pat her. Resting a starfish hand on my arm, she leaned her head on my wrist and smiled at me dreamily.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

"More fun with breasts."

The Husbandlet just looked over my shoulder as I was writing the last post, and this was his comment.

The beginning of the middle of the end

I love breastfeeding. I love the cozy snuggles, Ngaire's happy little nursing noises, being able to fill my baby's tummy.

I HATE pumping.

For the last week plus, my nipples have been killing me. Nursing is bad enough, but pumping is horrifically painful. Also, my milk supply has been gradually dwindling; while, when I started back to work, I regularly pumped 8-12 ounces a day, I'm now down to 4-6, and I'm not uncomfortably engorged by pumping time anymore, either.

So tomorrow I'm going to leave the pump at home and just hold out till I see Ngaire at 3:00. I always give her a hello nurse, and I figure that as long as she's hungry, she should do her breast-pumping duties quite admirably.

I have some ulterior motives, as well. I'm off to a week-long conference in July, right before the Squid's first birthday. I'm debating whether to wean her completely by then. If I don't, I'll have to get a hand-pump and use it every day to keep some form of milk supply going. She's not nursing all that much anymore; aside from an extended feed first thing in the morning, she's really down to short sips throughout the day and right before bed. So I'm not sure the effort of maintaining breastfeeding is worth the trouble.

That said, it makes me sad to think of bringing the breastfeeding part of mothering Ngaire to an end in the next few months. Sweet little snuggly Boo.

To sleep, perchance to dream

We have a new bed.

Our old bed came with our house, and dates from perhaps its (the house's) earliest section, circa 1960something. It was a full-sized slab of foam on a box spring and frame. It was comfortable enough, but since our marriage, the Husbandlet and I have noticed it developing a hammocklike dip in the middle. Lately, in order to balance on our sides without rolling into the dip, we would have to arrange each other and lean, which required somnolent coreography to rival underwater ballet.

So yesterday, as a Christmas/birthday/Mother's Day gift to me, we hied us to a furniture and carpet place called The Dump and tried out nearly every one of their mattresses. The Husbandlet and I were pleased to learn that, along our spiritual, intellectual, philosophical, moral, money-managing, child-rearing, and toothpaste-squeezing compatibility, we also have similar taste in mattresses (firm, but squishy on top). The Squid expressed a marked preference for mattresses covered in plastic.

We are pleased to report the latest addition to our household: a queen-sized mattress, box spring, and frame, on which we got a Very Good Deal (the place is called The Dump, after all), and which, along with our new mattress accessories (sheets), we happily broke in last night.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Rancid Lanolin would be a great name for a rock band

It is somehow less appealing when unwittingly rubbed on sore nipples.

Note to self: nipple ointment acquired pre-baby does not keep till the baby is nearly 10 months old.

And just out of curiosity

If you're from the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, etc.), give me a shout-out. I see I've been getting quite a few hits from that general area, and while I do have some college friends around there, I'm curious about my newfound Midwestern popularity.

Also, I feel a sudden urge to bake bars.

Ngaire developments

She is so amazing! She pulls up, she cruises around the room holding onto furniture, she takes steps forward if we hold both her hands (if we hold just one hand, she falls over). She crawls purposefully, padding like a little bear, and with the focused stalking of a leopard. She can get where she wants to go, and she is heady with the power. The power! Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

She babbles like crazy, and has been heard to hum snatches of various songs (I swear!), like “Twinkle Twinkle,” “Barbara Ann,” and a little song I made up for her last Sunday which goes,

Baby Boo, Baby Boo,
Precious Squidgle, I love you,
Oh Ngaire, ooooooh oh Ngaire, ooooooh oh Ngaire,
Ooooooooh I love you!

Baby Bear, Baby Bear,
You’re so sweet, so cute, so fair,
Oh Ngaire, etc.

Dazzling, isn’t it? Incidentally, the lyrics of most songs we make up for her run along these lines, whether we’re singing to the tune of “Barbara Ann” or the Hallelujah Chorus. (I did make up a complex series of lyrics to a little ditty called “Great Is Thy Poopiness” rather early on in the Squid’s life—shocking!)

Ngaire still has just the two teeth, but they are getting Longer. She is also Chomping more. Hence the sore nipples. That and the breast pump. I will be so glad to shelve the extensive pumping when the school year ends. If things go according to plan and I become a stay-at-home mommy by baby #2, I may never (or hardly ever) pump again. Dizzy am I with excitement.

To Ph.D. or not to Ph.D.

It has long been an ambition of mine to get a Ph.D. in English Literature. The Plan since before the Husbandlet and I got married has been for him to finish up his doctorate, and then we’d put me back in school. We also planned to have our first baby after my first year back in grad school, so you see how good we are at planning. In any case, the harsh realities of being a working mommy have brought me up short. I miss the Squid, I am sad that two-thirds of her waking hours are spent in the company of people who are not me (or the Husbandlet), and I never never never want to have to re-live the angst that was adapting the Squid to day care, with the Squid or with a subsequent baby. I also don’t want to become the sort of person who keeps producing children for other people to raise while I blithely cloister myself in an office and publish or perish. So, the Plan has lately undergone major revision.

It makes me sad to think of shelving the Phud indefinitely, perhaps forever. I’ve taught at college before and enjoyed it tremendously, far more than teaching high school. It makes me sad to give up the dream of the Husbandlet and I being the Drs. Waddle, as in,

Hapless student on telephone: May I please speak to Dr. Waddle?
One of us: The English one or the Biology one?

and working together at a college or university somewhere. But, on the other hand, missing the baby! And being exhausted all the time! And what about the possibility of homeschooling? (My tenure in the public school system has destroyed what little good feeling I had for it in the first place.)

Anyway, this is just a brief rundown of many weeks—months—of thought, prayer, discussion, and soggifying the Husbandlet’s shoulder. Trusting that God will give me the desires of my heart, even if not through the route I mapped out or in the ways that I anticipated, is incredibly hard; I’ve always been goal-oriented, do-it-myself, Type A. However, based on letting-go experiences of the past, I do know that I will not look back on this decision with crippling regret; I can’t rule out regret altogether, though of course I hope I feel none; but I do know it’ll all work out.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sharp pointy teeth

Yesterday, our sitter’s husband was feeding Ngaire her lunch, and apparently he was not doing so quickly enough for her. So she bit his finger.

Considering she also recently chomped the sitter on the chest, Ngaire’s new nickname is The Piranha. Fortunately, she only has two teeth.

Weird

Ngaire was recently introduced to Spinach. Her reaction has been mixed, and lately she has developed an interesting quirk: sometimes, she refuses to eat it off the spoon, but will obediently consume said greenery if I feed it to her on my finger.

Overheard in our kitchen

“I have two master’s degrees—I should be able to figure out a sippy cup!”