2012 in Books

There are still about ten hours left in 2012 from where I sit, but my yearly reading is, at this point, a forgone conclusion. I will finish reading Ganymede shortly, and will not have time to read anything else unless I go and find some more children’s picture books, which puts me at a grand total of 105 books (not to mention an uncountable amount of online reading this year — more so than most years — and a great deal of other non-book readings) for the year.

If you’d like to see the complete list of 2012 books, with links to their Goodreads pages, look here; that page will be up for a few weeks, at which point I will add its contents to this page and start a new one for 2013.

Thus begins the nerdiest (and, depending on your interest in graphs and other peoples’ reading tastes, most boring) post of the year.

I think I’d like to start off with the most interesting bit: my favorite books of the year. It’s always kind of difficult to pick this selection; in fact, I think I may have never done so last year. But, through sheer stubbornness and a little bit of carelessness, I did narrow my 105 books down to the top 13. (NOTE: This doesn’t include the Dark Tower books, which very well may be deserving of this spot, but I won’t include a series until I’ve finished the entire thing.)

2012 Favorites

This year’s top picks include quite a bit of nonfiction; when I find good nonfiction, I really love it. The nonfiction selections include Baby Catcher (a midwife’s memoir), Panic in Level 4 (a collection of narrative science essays about a wide range of fascinating subjects), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (a memoir written by a man suffering from locked-in syndrome following a massive stroke), The Fiddler in the Subway (a collection of beautiful pieces by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist), American Nerd (a humorous sociological text about what it means to be a modern-day “nerd”), and Bring Back Beatrice (perhaps the most useful and interesting baby name book I’ve found).

It also includes some terrific fiction, much of which was in one way or another heartbreaking. I finally got around to Dracula (which was much better than I’d anticipated) and Brokeback Mountain (absolutely beautifully written). I also enjoyed American Wife (a “novel” that bordered perilously close to biography), The Language of Flowers (a book club selection that traces a former foster child’s struggle to find normalcy and a sense of family), and Winter’s Bone (an utterly chilling novella about an Ozark girl trying to find her father and save her family against enormous odds).  Both The Fault in Our Stars (a charming, often-funny romance centered on two teenage cancer patients) and Divergent (an adventuresome dystopian novel) were excellent YA offerings. I meant to read more YA this year, but got sidetracked; I have a stack of must-reads for the early part of 2013.

Okay — on to the stats!

2012 Books Read 2012 Pages Read

As is to be expected in the life of a teacher, most of my reading takes place during school breaks. My peak months in terms of books were June and July, despite my participation in the rather taxing Boise State Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute — then again, the high workload of June and early July was partially reading, so that helped. My highest number of pages read (which is really the more accurate measurement) was in August, as I frantically finished reading multiple hefty literature anthologies in preparation for the upcoming school year.

In terms of what I was reading, 2012 seems to have been a big year for the mystery genre.  A lot of those books were urban fantasy/mystery (Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison) but there were also some straightforward mystery books (Andrew M. Greeley) and historical fiction mystery (Laurie R. King, Lauren Willig). Unsurprisingly, 2012 was also a big year for paranormal fiction (much of which was paranormal romance) and nonfiction.

2012 Genre Chart

I took a big interest in nonfiction science books this year, reading several great books (Richard Preston, Gene Weingarten) during the summer and then shifting into pregnancy books this fall/winter. I also finally started reading Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, which I’d love to finish in 2013, and Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series.

Although it doesn’t show up in the graphs, 2012 was also the year of the re-read. As the weather began to cool, my brain decided that it wanted to read familiar things so I went back to an old staple (Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books). I’d also had the opportunity to re-read several books for teaching new literature classes this school year. Finally, I returned to three favorite baby name books to re-absorb them and their many ideas for naming Kermie.

This wasn’t as big a year for reading as 2011 was, but I did meet my Goodreads challenge and I handily trumped 2010.

2010-2012 Books 2010-2012 Pages

2012 Page Comparison

I am not sure what 2013 will bring in terms of reading. I am due to have my hands very full (and my brain very sleep-deprived) come late April/early May, and I know this will have a big impact on my page counts. This isn’t a big deal; I keep track because I enjoy making lists and graphs, and because it gives me something nerdy to do every New Year’s Eve. Sort of a tradition, I guess. 🙂 What I’m trying to say is, I’m not really competing with anyone, even myself — I just find it interesting to see what my reading does, and I like aiming for goals, especially when it comes to reading. This is kind of like the grown-up version of libraries’ summer reading programs for kids, only instead of earning prizes I earn… er… graphs!

Three Really Nice Things

  1. Yesterday was the rehearsal and dinner for my sister’s wedding, and tomorrow is the wedding! I hope it wasn’t a faux pas to wear white (or rather, oatmeal) to the rehearsal — but since the bride was in black and pink, perhaps it all balances out. It’s going to be absolutely beautiful…

    Still Water Hollow

  2. Turns out that my insurance — which usually sucks green apples — will cover 100% of my breast pump and necessary pumping supplies! (Not sure if that includes bottles… probably not… but still. That’s a $300 purchase I don’t have to make!) Now I just need to figure out exactly what it is that I want and which of the “durable medical equipment” vendors I should use. Should have plenty of time for that.
  3. Last night, Kermie let his Dad feel him kickboxing. 🙂 I don’t even really know where to start on writing about this one; if you’ve been there, you know, and if you haven’t yet, I’m not sure I could describe it. But yeah. Pretty darn special.


Baby is getting pretty big! He’s a full pound now, I’m told, and taller than a Barbie doll. If you do a Google Image Search for “23 week fetus” you’ll find several photographs of babies actually born at this stage of their development, which I found simultaneously fascinating (really? he’s THAT big?) and disturbing, so I didn’t post them here.

Regardless, he’s big and strong enough that his little kicks and punches can, if you time it right and have your hand in the right place, feel them from the outside. And that’s pretty darn cool.

Registering, and Other Baby Things (Including Thoughts on Names)

Starting with Names

About a week ago, I got a strong feeling about a name for Kermie.  It felt very “right” somehow, so I brought it up to R and we’ve been kind of “practicing” the name for a few days now. Of course, now that we’re using the name occasionally, I’m no longer sure. Choosing the right name seems like such a daunting task. I wish I could just know, that I wouldn’t have these doubts! I have a FB friend who is due shortly after we are; the day she found out that they were expecting a girl, she was able to start a photo album with her future daughter’s name — first and middle — attached. I think I must have brought this upon myself; years and years of thinking about names has not made this any easier! (Option overload, anyone?)

Anyway… we’re playing with this name. Trying it on for size. It might be a winner.

I think all of our FB friends would be surprised at how normal (even boring) the names are that we actually like… 🙂 Although, R is still pulling for Xerxes and I confess a fondness for Archimedes…


We decided to start registering for things and do it incrementally, giving ourselves time to research and change our minds before “crunch time.” I have a student who works at Babys Я Us who asked me to come in when she was on shift, so we went by and she started us up with a registry there. They told us to register for at least 100 items, so I’m guessing our 35ish items didn’t really impress them. Since then we’ve been editing it and trying to make sure we’re registering for the right things. (Bottles are my current quandary; surprisingly complicated!)

dinolampI fell in love with a baby swing. I think I’ll blame nesting or something; otherwise I can’t really explain this crazy attachment I’ve made to this overpriced gadget. It has sheepies and stars and plushiness and is so darn cute and soft and baby. I’m led to understand that a baby swing is a pretty essential thingamabob if Mom ever wants to take a shower or cook a Hot Pocket; of course, you can pick them up for under $30 at consignment shops. But this one is somehow special. Don’t ask me. We registered for it; can’t really imagine anyone spending that sort of money on us (or on — good grief — those pricey little breast pumps! wow!) but hey. Whatever. I’m in love. 🙂

We appear to officially be going the Cretaceous/Jurassic nursery route, thanks in large part to the sheer adorableness of the lamp seen to the right. We’ve started looking at cribs and clearing out the nursery-to-be. The kiddo is already getting Christmas presents (lucky boy!) and I’m excited to put together his room. I do have to admit that I think the girl nursery stuff is a lot cuter. But R and I are both big dinogeeks and this nursery set is freaking adorable. (Crazy mama-to-be must confess that she is already planning a “big boy” room around another theme she loves… hopefully the big boy will be on board with it when the time comes around!)

Business of Being Born

Just found The Business of Being Born and its sequel on our Netflix. Watching it…


Little Lazerbeak (man, I bet those of you who are trying to keep track of these things wish we’d stop switching back and forth between silly nicknames, huh) took about a week off from being terribly active, but for the past several days he’s been pretty noticeable in there. In fact, I honestly think that his kicks are occasionally strong enough that R ought to be able to feel them, if we could just get the timing right. Of course, it’s hard to tell whether I’m actually feeling the kick on the outside, or if I just think I am.

His movement patterns are changing somewhat, too; he’s definitely only really moving when I am sitting still (and it is sitting, not lying down; I rarely feel him when fully reclined) but he’s gone from a late afternoon mover to a “whenever Mom stops wandering around” mover. I’ve noticed him reacting to certain kinds of music on the radio, and have decided that he’s hearing music with a strong bassline (i.e., dance/club type music) more clearly than other kinds. It’s kind of funny, actually.

Comic Relief

I found a great blog the other day. 269 Days by author/illustrator Brie Spangler is the account of one woman’s pregnancy — told in very charming, funny illustrations. (I love this sort of thing. Well, maybe everyone does, but I have an excuse in that my sister Meredith is an annoyingly talented multimedia illustrator, and so I’m particularly drawn to the field. Ha ha, that was a pun AND I DIDN’T EVEN MEAN IT.)

269 Days is so great because it’s so honest, and because it embraces — sometimes literally — the less-discussed experiences of pregnancy.

Me. Except that the thought of the word  "wintergreen" makes me want to lose my breakfast. It's all about the assorted berry flavors.

Me. Except that the thought of the word “wintergreen” makes me want to lose my breakfast. It’s all about the assorted berry flavors.

Being what essentially amounts to an autobiographical webcomic (dude — I hope Spangler has thought about doing this as a graphic novel, or whatever the heck you’re supposed to call an illustration-based memoir! People would love this as a book!), 269 Days stars its author and her husband. It also features some great cameos from her pets, organs, and other important characters on her babyquest.

This is so true, and no one ever tells you about it. Who would think that pregnancy -- even pre-bump -- would make sneezing so dangerous?

This is so true, and no one ever tells you about it. Who would think that pregnancy — even pre-bump — would make sneezing so dangerous?

She was writing the comic on a two month delay, and had their baby on March 10, 2012. Sadly for the rest of us, her maternity leave from the comic has extended for some time — but who can blame her, really? I’ve subscribed to 269 Days in the hopes that an update will eventually pop up in my Google Reader, but in the meantime, it’s well worth stopping by for the first two trimesters. 🙂 I started at the beginning (bottom of page) and read my way backwards to her most recent post, in June of last year. Check it out!

Friday, December 14

I don’t have anything useful to say about Friday, but I have to write something, inelegant or no. This may wander a bit.

There is a lot being said — as usual — in the aftermath of the unspeakable evil committed on Friday. Many people have opinions, and all of those opinions seem to be on the Internet. And, as is typically the case with Internet opinions, people seem to find it necessary to fight about them.

And that’s fine. Whatever. If it makes you feel better, go for it. I guess. Seems like an awful waste of time and psychic energy, but hey — whatever.

One of the opinions going around is being championed by Morgan Freeman, who basically says that we shouldn’t even have news stories about tragedies like the Newtown, CT elementary school massacre. There is a point there; probably some of these atrocities are inspired by past atrocities, or their actors are motivated by some sense of immortality. I’m not really sure that I believe this is the case 100% of the time; seems to me that if you are crazy or evil enough to go kill a bunch of children, you’re not exactly thinking about which news stations are going to show up. But how would I know? I certainly hope that I can’t really get inside the mind of a monster.

If you’re worried about the next monster being inspired by the specter of fame, then don’t publicize his name and photo (assuming law enforcement isn’t actively trying to find him). We don’t need to know his name. All anyone in Idaho is going to do with the name of a killer in Connecticut is look to see if they can find his Facebook profile.

But I don’t think we shouldn’t have news stories. I think we have a basic human need for information, to know — and try to understand — what is happening. I think that dialogue (maybe even fighting on the Internet) is important for progress and healing. In those horror-stricken hours after something like this happens, we need each other and we need answers. We need community, even if that is only a community knit together by shock and dismay. I don’t think it’s catastrophe voyeurism. I think we need to huddle together and speak.

As the horror unfolded on Friday, I was sitting in a computer lab with about two dozen upperclassmen, mostly young men, all students in our district’s tech-oriented academy. They were busily working on a final project, and when they took mental breaks and surfed away to off-task websites, they were reading news stories about video games, not senseless slaughters.

I was watching a live feed via CBS’s website with the sound turned down low, hoping my kids wouldn’t see that I was crying, half-hoping they would. I got through three hours with them, went upstairs and administered a make-up test, and then — finally alone — broke down.

These were innocent little babies. You’re always horrified when something like this happens anywhere… but no one ever thinks it will happen in a first grade. There’s murder, there’s mass murder — and then there’s the murder of six-year-olds.  There’s nothing in my mind that can make sense of that.

I don’t know what to say about gun control, mental health reform, or any of the other solutions being thrown around this weekend. The boys in my classroom on Friday don’t fall very far from the Newtown murderer’s section of the Venn diagram, at least according to current news reports. Many of them are socially awkward and brilliant,  have Aspergers, don’t make great eye contact or dress in style. We live in Huntersville, so most of them have guns at home. None of them should be arbitrarily locked up, or relieved of their hunting rifles, just because they’re different. But if one of them did something awful, everyone would be saying, “Oh, we all saw the signs. He was an outsider, an introvert, a nerd. He was a gun-owner.” Well, yeah. Being those things doesn’t make you a killer.

I believe that what we saw on Friday wasn’t sickness or social failure. I believe it was evil. I don’t know if evil is something that exists in a person, or if it is an outside force that acts on a vulnerable person. I suppose that’s a question for the theologians. But nothing but evil can explain what happened on Friday.

I know that I am sickened and so saddened that there are no words for it. Part of this, I am sure, is that I’m going to have one of those little babies. Always, this would have horrified me. But now, there is a concrete horror, a little boy who will be a first grader who I’ll have to leave in a classroom every morning and trust that I will see again that afternoon. Part of it is being a teacher and knowing what the teachers at Sandy Hook did to protect their children, knowing what some of them gave and what those last moments must have been like. Just two days earlier, my school had a lockdown drill; I was in that same computer lab with that same group of students. I think about sitting there in the dark against the wall, listening to the hum of computers and the rattle of doors being checked, and wonder what would happen if something like that happened to us.

What is there to say? I don’t know.

The Perfect Name!

The other day, as I was driving to work at oh-dark-thirty, my favorite morning DJs were talking about Baby Center’s annual collections of popular, rising, and unusual names. Because it was a morning radio show, they naturally focused on what the DJs called the “worst” baby names of 2012.

And man, were there some doozies.

Later, I decided to go look up the original list myself. The DJs had cherry-picked the absolute best from the “Unusual Baby Names of 2012” list, which is compiled only of names that were given to U.S. children BY MORE THAN ONE SET OF PARENTS. Your one-shot naming aberration doesn’t make this list; in order to get on this list, that name has to have been given to at least two children within the space of a year. This really makes one wonder what sort of unusual drugs and/or networking takes place to lead to more than one American child being named Haven’T, Sanity, or Ball.

That being said, if a person has grown bored with all of the traditional, classic baby names out there… this list certainly provided some alternatives. And as we went through the list, wondering what sort of parent names their baby boy Hippo, we found THE NAME.

The perfect name.

The sort of name that you give your child if you want him to be able to grow up to be anything. Why, with this name, this child could be a professional wrestler or a star meteorologist! A used car salesman or a motivational speaker! This is the sort of name that makes history!

And so it is with great pleasure that I announce our intention to name our firstborn son…

(drum roll please)


Oh, I see your dubious looks. I can sense them right through the WiFi. But hear me out! Just say that name a few times. Let it roll around in your mouth, in your mind. Isn’t it wonderful? Doesn’t it have a great ring to it?

And just think of all the great moments in parental punning.

Rock you like a hurricane

Looks like a hurricane went through this room

See — what’d I tell you? Perfect.

And if the little guy ever wants to shorten it to something a little… dryer… he could certainly be Ric.

Hurricane Baker. That’s the name of a kid who would change the world.

If you’re not sure we picked the right name from the list, you can take a look for yourself and tell me your favorites… 🙂



This post is dedicated to everyone who thinks that we should name the baby Stormageddon.


The Matriarchal Woman Grimaces

I guess you would call me a feminist. I mean, I’m sure there are people who easily out-feminist me, at least in their own minds. I don’t buy into the man-disparaging model of feminism, or the battle cry to all women to shuck off the trappings of wifedom and motherhood and take over the world. I prefer to believe that a woman should have the right to be whatever it is that she wants to be, whether that’s a CEO or a stay-at-home mom, a sergeant or an unshaven Santa Fe artist, a perpetual singleton or a wife and mother of a dozen kids.

My particular flavor of feminism is matriarchal in nature. I come from a female-dominated family, my father outnumbered 3:1. The only grandparent I knew, growing up, was my mom’s mom. I’ve always felt a deeper connection to my mom’s family line, not only because I knew the relatives on that side of the family better but because genetically I seem to “be from that end of the gene pool” (as opposed to my sister, who looks and seems more related to our paternal relatives). Then some of the stories (books, movies, etc.) that have contributed to my personal mythology underlined the natural matrilineal sense of family and self that I’d developed.

Thinking back to my educational years — as far back as first grade, and through college — I’ve always had more male friends than female, and gotten along better with guys. I grew up thinking I was quite boy-like, and perhaps I was; I liked playing with blocks more than dolls, preferred playing Cowboys and Indians or Army Guys to tea parties, and always wanted the next biggest electronics set (like a chemistry set, only with transistors) for Christmas.

I know now that I’m not a “masculine” woman, that there is more to one’s gender identity than what sort of toys one likes to play with. (Silly example: I totally shop like a woman, while my sister is the manliest shopper — go to specific store in pursuit of specific item and get out as quickly as possible — I know.) I’m just me, with my own quirks and things that stimulate my imagination.

And I’m married to a guy who, like me, doesn’t camp out on the far end of the gender stereotype spectrum. He likes sports and action movies and muscle cars. He also knows what an empire-waist dress is, watches cooking and fashion reality shows (even when I’m not watching), and prefers pink cocktails. The game “Battle of the Sexes” is not intended for us — we both know way too much about the opposite category. We are well matched.

The point of all this? Why is the matriarchal woman grimacing? Why is she telling Facebook that she’s having a feminist outrage moment and then getting even more irritated when a male friend jokingly says that it’s just because of my pregnancy hormones and that he’ll offer my husband safe harbor until I stop being crazy?

(Well, maybe anyone would be irritated about that.)

It’s this whole “we’re having a boy” thing. And NOT, let me be clear, that Batman Kermie Lazerbeak is going to be a boy. Nope; I’m talking about the reactions we’re getting from people.

Don’t get me wrong. Everyone is being perfectly nice. Standard niceties and genuine sentiments of happiness for us and our bundle of joy. And I am not offended by or at anyone.

But I’m getting a little bristly about the unending refrain of two related comments:

“Ryan must be so proud/happy to be having a son!”

I find myself bothered by the idea that Ryan would be especially pleased to be expecting a son, that he would prefer a son to a daughter. I know for a fact that Ryan would have been delighted regardless of what that ultrasound revealed between Kermie’s legs. Is that a peculiarity of my wonderful husband whose sense of self-worth isn’t tied up in his machismo? Maybe. Maybe the vast majority of men do prefer sons to daughters. I don’t really believe it, though, at least not looking at the men in my peer group. And it bothers my little feminist heart (and, I daresay, his little feminist heart) that so many people automatically jump to that conclusion.

“It’s so wonderful that the Baker family will carry on!”

And it’s my matriarchal heart that revolts against this one. Uhm, I’m sorry, but the Hoffman family (or the Brokaws, the Stringers, the Grahams — any of those families whose names I don’t have but whose blood I always will) didn’t die out just because I don’t have a penis. Something about saying that the Baker family will carry on makes it sound like it’s some sort of competition that Ryan won and I lost — and I categorically reject that. Kermie is going to be a Hoffman/Brokaw/Stringer/Graham/etc. every bit as much as he is going to be a Baker (Thompson/Peck/Quade/etc.). Not only that, but I reject the idea that name = family. Juliet Capulet knew that a name was just a name, and a rose by any other name smells as sweet.


And of course, I know perfectly well that no one said either of those things with the intent of making the statements that I’ve taken from them. It just seems to me that it shines a spotlight on a varnish of unconscious chauvinism in the whole baby/pregnancy culture that I hadn’t previously realized existed. I’ve been teaching literary criticism to my upperclassmen, and I’ve told them that when you engage in lit crit you’re becoming an author of an entirely new reading of the text that may not be what the original author intended at all.

And I know I’m engaging (indulging) in a feminist literary criticism interpretation that may border on a hysteria. I reserve that right.

After all, crazy pregnancy hormones and whatnot. 😉

Baby Pictures – 20 Weeks – Gender Reveal!

Yesterday, for my birthday, I got myself a downtown photo session.

Baby Baker's head and upper torso

Baby Baker was very stubborn about positioning. Refused to turn around so we could get a good facial profile — just kept staring at my spine, butt in the air. (And trust me, the doctor tried — I thought I’d have a bruised belly after all of the poking and prodding and awkward body positions!) The picture above is the best one we could get, and it doesn’t really have any facial features. He was able to eventually find the lip and chin, from each side, and determine that there was no cleft. Ryan thinks the doctor saw both eyes, too, but I was thinking he only got a clear look at one.

The thing about that particular baby position is that, while you don’t get to see the face, you get a very clear shot of everything else that is important. For example:

the spine

(Sorry about the glare; I need a scanner or something.)

I get dreadfully disoriented with ultrasounds. Ordinarily I’m very good at three-dimensional space. I think it might be because I’m looking at it from a strange angle; if I were sitting up, looking at it straight on instead of lying down and straining to see, I think I’d do better. That being said, even looking at the still photograph I’m not entirely sure whether the pelvis is to the right (my suspicion) or the left in this picture. Is that a leg off to the right?

cross-section of the baby brain

I admit a certain amount of confusion regarding how the ultrasound can see through the skull. I also don’t really recognize anything in this cross-section of the brain, but the doctor was rattling off brain-bits that I’d heard of before, and said that everything was healthy and exactly the way it ought to be.

Although he didn’t print a picture of it, we also got a great view of the heart (four chambers, all pumping) and the bladder. Doctor also got a good look at the back of the neck, which can show indicators for Down’s Syndrome; Baby Baker’s is perfect.


That’s a hand with five fingers on it. You know how you know that you picked the right doctor? When he tells you that there are five fingers, and then says that this is a good thing unless you were counting on raising a six-fingered swordsman.

The next picture is my favorite:

two tiny baby feet

I am an absolute sucker for baby feet. I have never felt the urge to touch a pregnant woman’s belly, or grab at someone’s baby — but it takes every bit of willpower that I have not to touch a baby’s foot if it presents itself. I’m nuts over baby shoes and socks and little baby tootsies curled up instead footie pajamas. I have really lucked out here; my baby will be coming complete with not one but TWO perfect little baby feet!

Anyway, to cut to the chase… it is an excellent thing that Ryan and I were not hoping for a surprise, gender-wise. Remember how I told you that the baby was positioned? Well, the first thing that the ultrasound revealed was a picture looking up (or down, I guess, since baby was upside-down) at the baby’s bottom.


This particular shot is nowhere NEAR as clear as the one Ryan and I saw, immediately. I guess Ryan (who, after all, took care of a little baby boy for several months) knew instantly what he was looking at; I was pretty darned sure but wasn’t sure to trust myself because of that disorientation. (I wasn’t sure what end of the kid we were looking at!) Anyway, I guess neither one of us said anything because we weren’t sure if the other person had seen it yet. Then the doctor pointed it out…

So, yeah. Looks like we’re going to be having a little boy!

I would be lying if I said this didn’t scare me a little bit, but I’m not quite sure if it’s the fact that we’re having a boy instead of a girl, or if it’s the fact that this hypothetical genderless Possibility has abruptly turned into a pronouned Reality. In one fell swoop, I’ve gone from “I’m going to be a mom!” to “I’m going to be the mother of a son who will grow up to become a man.” And that’s a frightening prospect and a big responsibility! I don’t know the first thing about little boys, but then again, I don’t really know the first thing about babies in general. And everyone I know who has boys assures me that they’re great. (Then again, would anyone really post on Facebook, “I have boys and wish desperately that I didn’t”? LOL.)

I am excited. When I think about this baby growing up into a teenager, I remember that I really “do better” with my male students. I’m happy as a clam with my classes of ITE students (almost all male, entirely nerdy) and am pretty okay with just about anything teenage boys throw at me — but my “lose my cool” kryptonite is bratty teenage girls who roll their eyes. I always had more male friends than female. My favorite storybook characters are men and boys; my favorite toys are stereotypically male offerings. (Which, before the Mommy Warriors come after me, would have been a major presence in the household with a baby girl, too. Duh. Why would I have loved blocks and dinosaurs and ray guns if I hadn’t had them growing up in my all-girl household?) And I’ve always thought it must be a nice thing to have a big brother.

It took me about 18 hours, but I think I’ve found my footing again. Now that this has become a Reality — a HE — I suddenly feel inspired to work on getting things ready for him. (Man, it’s nice to have a pronoun!) Right now isn’t the right time to go shopping; December is never the right time for big-ticket purchases like nursery furniture. But I’m ready to start really looking, and clearing out the room, and getting irritated that I can’t paint it. 🙂

Uncollected Thoughts

How am I feeling today?


My current class has some discipline and staying-on-task issues. At the beginning of the period I had to gently reprimand/redirect them for acting like hooligans. Just a little while ago I got them started on some work time for an assignment, and then — as I often must do with this class — added the instructions to Stay On Task, Don’t Wander the Room Chatting, and No Dealing Drugs In My Classroom. (Okay, I didn’t say that last bit, but I thought it.) And then, I followed up these instructions by saying, “I have a headache and I’m not in the mood to yell at you, so just don’t do it, okay? If you do, I’m going to throw things at you. Probably used kleenex.”

Lo and behold: twenty minutes of near-silent work time. Wow. Apparently the secret to classroom management is the threat of snot!


For the third day in a row, I have a headache. I theorize that this is coming from some sort of released/aggravated tension in my back; about a week ago, we had a free massage clinic and the therapist did an amazing job on my screwed-up left shoulder, but ever since then it has been tender and I’ve been having headaches that seem to creep up my neck and into my forehead. I hope it is just something muscular and not anything worrisome; I know there are some pregnancy issues that have recurring headaches as a symptom, but in honesty these headaches are nuthin’ compared to the skull-splitters I’m used to. It’s just that I’m being stubborn about not taking pain medication, so I’m feeling it more.


I just walked past one of the biology classrooms, where the teacher keeps a pretty red corn snake in an aquarium by the door. He (how do they know if a snake is a boy or a girl, I wonder?) has a toilet paper roll in there, and is currently double-threaded through the roll so that all you see are two snake-loops on either side. It’s pretty funny. I wonder if he thinks no one can see him because he can’t see us? Also: where’s my hiding tube?


It has been rainy the past couple of days (although as I type this, bright yellow sunshine is pouring through my windows, so perhaps it has stopped!) and my mood has been reflecting the weather. I’m not sure why I’ve been mopey. Part of it may be the time of the school year; the end of the first semester and beginning of the second are rough. Maybe I’m getting a cold, or maybe it’s the headaches. I think part of it is maybe a sort of loneliness; I want to “play baby” but everyone — myself included — is really too busy right now. It bums me out when R — who is frantically trying to survive his first year of full-time teaching while graduating from grad school — doesn’t have the time to talk about the stuff that I end up posting here, or when I get no comments, or when I don’t see any adults for a few days at work. Maybe there’s some sort of physic energy hanging over early December, left over from last year. As happy as I am now, as glad as I am that things have worked out for the best, it can’t be forgotten that my world came crashing down on this day twelve months ago.


This time of year, I like to read junk. By “junk,” I mean genre fiction, preferably in a nice long series, and usually in the urban fantasy or paranormal romance categories. This year I’ve really gone over the edge; I’m actually re-reading a series. Worse, I’m re-reading a series that I know I won’t like the ending of (well, it’s not over yet, but I don’t see it changing tracks anytime soon). I basically never re-read books, so I guess I’m in a profound state of mental laziness! It is a cozy sort of feeling, though, to read something familiar and know how things turn out. And this series is one that I tend to tear through, plugging very little into long-term memory, so it’s almost like reading it for the first time.


I am married to someone who has his master’s degree. Pretty spiffy, huh.


“So I have this student,” begins every teacher’s dramatic story of teenage escapades. This one is a doooooozy but would definitely take its own blog entry; plus, I’m not entirely sure that I’d feel comfortable posting it publicly, even with censored details. Let’s just leave it at this collection of images for now:



shooting yourself in the foot

You have got to be kidding me

Picard gets two because I just love the idea of him getting up in this kid’s face. Maybe that would be some authority he would respect.


Tomorrow, assuming all goes well, Baby Baker’s gender will be revealed to us. I don’t know why this scares (not the right word, but I don’t know what is) me; this is the most anxious I’ve been about this pregnancy, with the exception of those scared-to-death moments before the emergency ultrasound we had after the bleeding.

Part of it is that I don’t know how (when, etc.) to share the news, and I haven’t really had any input in that. And for some reason, I find making pregnancy-related announcements to be the single most awkward thing EVER. I had to absolutely steel myself to tell people we were expecting! I’ve never had stage fright; I’ve never had nerves before a recital or a speech or anything else like that. But something about saying, “We’re pregnant” or “It’s a _________” makes me feel like I imagine most people feel when that spotlight surrounds them. It’s… embarrassing. Maybe a lot of people feel that way, and that’s why so many people do their announcing on Facebook and via text message these days!

All I know is that, when I envision walking into [my parents’ house]/[my friends’ classrooms]/[etc.] and sharing the results… my throat closes up. I can’t even formulate a sentence. The whole idea makes me want to curl up inside a toilet paper tube and pretend that no one can see me.

I have become ridiculous.

Another part of it might be that I might be hoping for a particular result. If I could choose — if I could have called up Storks R Us and picked pink or blue — I know which I would have chosen. And no, I’m not saying, because I don’t want someone (or this blog!) telling Shenanigans one day that I wanted a baby of the opposite gender instead! The thing is, I want This Baby, regardless of plumbing, and I want This Baby’s little brothers and sisters. God willing, I’ll have one or more of each eventually, if I don’t have any more significant trouble conceiving. So boy or girl, I’m going to be happy. But part of me worries that I… won’t be…? Won’t be quite as happy with one answer as I would have been with the other? So part of my anxiety is the fear of feeling disappointed, and with that the sense of self-disgust that I would feel at being disappointed about such a wonderful thing! It’s like, “Damnit, I didn’t want a brand new red car, I wanted it to be blue.”

Like I said. Ridiculous.


Today is the last day that I will be 31. This is actually kind of funny, because up until about two weeks ago, I had spent the entirety of this year quite certain that I was already 32. In fact, even as I type this, I begin to doubt my math all over again. Check for me… I was born in December 1980. It’s still 2012, right?

I feel as though I have pretty much “aged out” of birthdays. Is that something that happens when you turn 30? I just sort of don’t care about it anymore. I mean, I’m going to wear a cute outfit (sparkly, I think), and I deliberately scheduled the ultrasound on that day, and it’s not like I want to pretend it isn’t happening or anything. And I’m no longer particularly unhappy about aging, especially now that it turns out I’m a year younger than I thought I was; my only real concern with aging is that I thought I would have had started having kids by now, so I’m behind my personal schedule. Which means, I can’t wait as long between kids as I once thought I would.


I think it’s time to wrap this up and get ready to go home…

S/He Likes to Move It, Move It

julisnSince November 28, I’ve been trying to pay careful attention to my innards in an attempt to differentiate random burbles from Baby’s flailing. In the past couple of days, it has become very clear that Things Be Moving Down There. Shenanigan is doing all of the things I’d read that s/he would do: taking a breather while I’m up and active, getting busy when I take a load off, reacting to sound and sometimes food.

Sound, in particular, seems to be a particular trigger. S/he becomes active when I listen to radio at loud volume in the car, to the point where I’ve kind of stopped doing it because I’m unsure whether it’s dancing or cringing away from the speakers. (I kid; it’s a baby. I know it doesn’t like the loud noises.)

Yesterday afternoon, I was at a musical and one of the songs was performed by a female vocalist who was over-miked. It made me cringe, and man oh man did Shenanigan (dis)like it! We’re talking multiple barrel rolls here.

And then… last night, in the car… I am pretty darn sure that Junior kicked. It was a completely different sort of feeling: a focused little thwap instead of a gentle rolling feeling.

Right now, I am leaning back on the sofa with the laptop propped on my legs, watching an old episode of Elementary, and Kermie is doing calisthenics. I’m excited for the point when Ryan will be able to feel them; I keep putting my hand on my belly to see if I can feel anything, but if I can it’s so subtle that I don’t think anyone else would catch it.

It’s funny to think of all those gymnastics that we saw back in October, and realize that they’re not only still going on, but that I can perceive them now. We are almost at the halfway mark, and it is all starting to feel real and maybe just a little bit… not scary, exactly, but “whoa, everything is about to change a whole helluva lot around here.”