Friday, September 29, 2006


This is less than a 10-minute walk from my house.

And this is who I get to walk there with.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Buy raffle tix, help Annika

I think most of you who visit here are familiar with the story of Annika, the sweet kindergartener who is likely headed for another liver transplant. (If not, read her history, then check out her mom's blog.) Among all the other great stuff she's engineered, Andrea has just started another round of raffles to benefit Annika's medical expense fund, and one of the items up for raffle this time around is the sweater I am making. (Guess this means I should finally put the buttons on it, eh?)

So, please, visit the raffle page and follow the instructions to donate -- tix for this cutie pie sweater (size 2T, perfect for any number of bambinas in the blogosphere) are just $2 each. And it is truly a fantastic cause.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Random bullets of blah

  • I either have allergies (ragweed, I guess?) or the beginning of a cold. Whatever it is is kicking my butt. My throat hurts and I am tiiiiiiiiiired. (Did that sound whiny? If so, good. That's how I intended it.)
  • Ess is going through some kind of sleep transition in which she vociferously fights -- as in, an hour of crying -- taking her naps during the day. Until now I have not needed to nurse her to sleep; she'd get swaddled, take a binkie, we'd bounce on the ball for a minute and then she'd sleep. For the last couple days, including a bout today while a friend was watching her, she would only sleep after nursing. I am not ok with this; people other than me need to be able to get this kid to nap. (I'm totally fine with nursing her to sleep at night, though.) So I suspect we are going to experience a few hair-pulling days as we try to get through this and establish a new (old) routine.
  • I have a meeting tomorrow and have to wear a skirt. And heels. Oy.
  • If you were to walk by me right now and gently sniff the air, you would likely detect a faint hint of spitup. It has become my signature scent.
  • The fact that I am reduced to blogging about the smell of spitup explains why I haven't written much lately. I have a big-ish post, about s*x and intimacy and the postpartum woman, brewing and I think all my other blog material is stuck behind it. So perhaps some day in 2008 I will be able to write that post and resume regular blogging.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Why my grocer is going to get an earful

Tomorrow morning, we're going to visit some friends who just had their third little boy. Figuring that parents of three kids need help managing the daily grind even more than parents of newborns do, we offered to bring them a tray of stuffed shells. And figuring that if I was making one batch, I could just as easily make three, have one for dinner and put the other in the freezer for us, I stocked up on supplies.

D's parents babysat for us this afternoon; we went out for lunch and then did a bunch of errands, including the weekly grocery shopping. Somehow the day got away from us; suddenly it was 4 pm and we hadn't started the shells. So D wrangled Ess while I got moving in the kitchen. I even sent him out for extra shells at one point, figuring that we couldn't go wrong by making more. (It was sheer genius, as you'll see in a moment, that he also bought ice cream when he went back on that second trip...) As I mixed the ricotta and eggs and mozzarella and parmesan, I kept thinking that something smelled a little off. I'd sniff the spoon, then taste the mixture, and it seemed ok. But then I'd stir some more and catch another whiff of something odd. It was off-putting, but it wasn't a horrible smell, so I kept going.

I sauced the bottom of each tray, then filled dozens and dozens of shells with the creamy mixture. I covered them with more sauce, then grabbed the container of pre-grated parmesan cheese we'd picked up in the deli section earlier in the afternoon. As I took the lid off, I got a nose full of the rancid odor.

So now Ess is in bed. The three trays of shells are in the trash. D is out picking up a pizza, and I just got off the phone with our friends, who were informed that they'll be getting bagels and cream cheese for breakfast instead of stuffed shells for dinner. The parmesan is sitting on the counter, along with a receipt. I am hoping to convince the frickin' store to not only refund what we paid for the cheese, but the money we spent on all the other ingredients that are now in the garbage. I'm tempted to demand that they compensate me for my time, for the hour I could have spent playing with Ess or, god forbid, sitting down and reading a magazine. As it is, we'll be lucky to get our money back for anything more than the cheese.

What a way to spend a Saturday.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A big milestone

Welcome to visitor number 25,000 since I installed Sitemeter back in February, 2005. I wish I could tell you something cool about him or her, but all I know is that s/he is from North America and uses Firefox. (That narrows it down, doesn't it?)

It's a little sobering to think that many people have viewed these slapdash rants and incoherent mumblings (especially lately). I feel like this nice round number means I ought to have some newfound energy for blogging, or at least that I ought to promise to stop posting about sleep, bodily fluids and dog problems. But I may as well be realistic here.

Thanks for coming by, y'all. You're the best.

The fun just keeps on coming

While we await the resolution of Pumpgate 06, we've been keeping ourselves entertained by discovering dog urine on the dining room floor -- again. (This one while we were both home, and after Jelly'd been out just a few hours before.)

Even better, we're pretty sure we've found flea eggs on Jelly's back. AAaaaarghhhh.

The weird thing about this -- and I haven't had time to do any googling, seeing as how all my precious Google minutes have been used for searches like "mold in breast pump," so I'm not sure if there is another possible answer for this mystery -- is that we see no fleas at all. On top of which, the eggs are confined to a good-sized patch on her back, not covering her whole body. It's been a long time since I saw a dog with fleas (one of the rental houses we lived in when I was growing up turned out to have a flea infestation in the carpet, which meant not only that the dog got fleas constantly, but that we got flea bites on our ankles. Eww.), but this is not how I remember it looking. Also, Rocky doesn't have anything on her -- no bugs, no eggs, no nothing.

Still, we haven't put the flea and tick medicine on them in months, so it's entirely possible. Rocky got treated last night. This morning, as soon as D is out of the shower, I'm going to bathe Jelly -- a fun and exciting task in itself, given her tendency to snap when stressed or confused -- and then treat her. And then I suppose we should wash all eleventy-three dog beds in the house.

This week has to get better sometime, right??

Monday, September 18, 2006

Happy ending Story still in progress

Great news from the lactation consultant from my new moms group: the milk is safe!! What a relief. (Her reason: Breastmilk contains infection-fighting white blood cells, so there should be no problem with the milk in the freezer.)

This whole experience has been an enlightening one -- a 24-hour cycle of panic, guilt, more panic, more guilt and then relief... tinged with guilt about the general slovenliness that is my natural state.

If you were to enter my house for a quick visit, you wouldn't see the slovenliness right away; we keep the house pretty neat. But neat is a different story than clean, and clean is not something at which I excel. So, yes, the dishes and the laundry are done, but please don't look at the bathtub or the baseboards... or really any of the hard surfaces in the house, which are all covered in dust and grime. I notice them, make a mental note to do something about them and then go back to whatever it was I was so involved in (cough... reading blogs... cough). D is better at the cleaning than I am; he actually vacuums -- something I've not done in months or, possibly, years -- and puts his clothes in the dresser, as opposed to rifling through the laundry basket all week.

So the fact that I've allowed fungus of some sort to grow in the containers that store my daughter's only sustenance? Totally not surprising. And also totally shaming and horrible. Suffice it to say that the pump parts have been put through the dishwasher and boiled (a little excessive, sure, but better late than never, I suppose), and that I've thought all kinds of good thoughts about reforming, about cleaning more in anticipation of the day when Ess becomes mobile under her own power.

And what am I doing right now, while she's napping? Sitting on the couch, listening to music and catching up on email. So much for good intentions. But my shoulders are slowly coming down from their perch near my ears, and my heart has stopped racing. And I can guarantee that I will have the cleanest breast pump this side of the Mississippi for so long as I shall pump.

Or at least until I forget the misery of the last 24 hours. And I'm thinking that day's not coming any time soon.

Edited at 10 pm to add: Oy, this whole thing is up in the air. I just spoke with my fabulous LLL leader, who is concerned about the possibility of mold in the milk; she is consulting some medical textbooks -- which the LC did not do -- to figure out whether the milk is safe. So I've been pumping. Not getting a whole lot yet, but that will change. And I realized that freaking out is not necessary; I will be able to come close to meeting Ess' needs for my work days Weds. and Thurs. with what I can pump between now and then, and if she has to have a little formula, too, then so be it. By next week I'll have a good supply in the fridge again, and we'll be back in business. Unless, of course, I hear from the leader tomorrow morning that all is well. But this seems to be a case in which erring on the side of caution would be smart.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

What's grosser than gross?

Pausing idly while washing out the breastpump parts, only to discover that there is something green and slimy growing behind the little flange. Frantically checking all the other pump pieces (I am lucky enough to have two full sets) and discovering something pink and slimy growing in the other ones.

And then noticing, in the pot of boiling water into which they were immediately plunged, an array of flotsam and jetsam emanating from the pump parts.

Here's hoping that my freezer full of milk pumped with these parts is not totally contaminated and headed for the trash.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A rollicking Saturday night

So far, I've done a load of laundry (which, crap, I need to get out of the dryer), and spent a couple hours on revisions to my latest freelance piece; I figure better to do it now than to waste what looks to be another gorgeous September day inside. Now if only my sources will check their email over the weekend and get back to me on those followup questions...

And tonight it's going to be me and Ess, mano a mano. D has either really horrendous allergies or a bad cold. Since his symptoms steadily worsened throughout the day, I'm thinking it's the latter. So he's already in bed in the guest room. And Ess is asleep for the time being. Since we moved her into her crib last week, I get up and nurse her in the rocking chair in her room for the 12-ish and 3-ish feedings. Any time after that, though, I can't bear to drag myself out of bed, so D gets her and brings her to me. And then she usually does the very end of the night in our bed. So we'll see how long she lasts in the crib tonight.

I have to admit to being a bit jealous of D. Not that I want his cold -- far from it -- but that he can simply take a night in the guest room, and a full night's sleep with no interruptions, whenever he wants. (To his credit, he does it infrequently and is apologetic when he does.) Yes, he'll have to deal with Jelly, who is currently pacing around the house, her toenails clicking on the wood floors. But that's nothing compared to a hungry infant who needs to be held in your tired arms, and you can't fall asleep while nursing or you'll drop her and besides which the rocking chair isn't all that comfortable anyway.

Ok, enough complaining. I'm going to fold the laundry and take a nice magazine up to bed with me, and enjoy the rare pleasure of reading -- and keeping the light on -- as long as I want.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Making progress

A few reasons why we haven't had to exclaim "Fireplace!" or "Motherfireplacer!" in the last few days:

1. Ess slept last night from 7:15 pm to 3:45 am without waking up. Yes, she slept for 8.5 hours in a row without nursing. AND she slept all of those hours in her crib. I'm fully aware that she will probably not be repeating that performance any time soon (especially since I'm blogging it), but just knowing that the little one is capable of sleeping that much makes me very, very happy. Now if only I can not wake up in a panic the next time she sleeps longer than usual, we'll be in good shape.

2. The grandmothers have responded to my appeal for help with 3-6 mos clothes with great generosity and abandon. And since I had to stop at the Carter's store in Outletport yesterday and got to ogle all the cutie-pie clothes, I am realizing this was not much of a sacrifice on their part.

3. Jelly hasn't peed in the house since Monday afternoon.

4. The biggest one of all, and one I hesitate to write about for fear of jinxing it: Things have been going really well around here lately. Ess is such a happy, good-natured baby; when we go to pick her up from her bassinet after a nap, even if she's been crying, as soon as she sees you, she smiles her big gummy smile and squirms with glee. And that is pretty typical of her temperament these days. (I'm sure teeth and sleep regressions and all sorts of other miseries are in the offing, but it's good to know that she's a sweetiepie at heart.) D and I are navigating the combination of work and parenting pretty well, and we've even managed to save some money while still eating reasonably healthy meals. And we've been able to get together with some friends recently, with plans to see more of them this weekend (it turns out that brunch is the ideal way to get together with people these days). So I feel like we have emerged a bit from the newborn haze and are actually enjoying our lives, and our sweet girl.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dog problems

As I've mentioned, we're having trouble with Jelly, our elderly dog, who's been with us for almost two years. She was partly blind and deaf when we got her, and has a host of other health problems (arthritis, mammary tumors and a heart murmur) that were not disclosed to us by the rescue from which we adopted her. She's had trouble settling down at night; if D comes down to the guest room to get some sleep after being up with Ess for a while, he has to take her in bed with him to avoid her pacing and smacking the door with her paw.

I was at the vet with Rocky last week getting a booster for one of her shots, and mentioned that Jelly would be coming in shortly (on the 21st) for her exam and shots. The vet is new to our beloved veterinary practice, so I was telling her a bit about Jelly's background and behavior. She immediately asked if we've looked into canine cognitive dysfunction, which is essentially doggie Alzheimer's -- down to the tangled webs of plaque in the brains of animals who have it. We hadn't, but upon reading the list of possible symptoms -- most significantly, getting "lost" in familiar places like the house or the backyard -- it's clear that this is what she's got. Of course, there is medication to treat it, but even online the cheapest thing I can find is $1/day, which we just can't afford.

And then there's the peeing. Our dining room rug is, for all intents and purposes, a lost cause. Over the weekend we found two more relatively fresh pee spots on it. D sprang into action -- rented a steam cleaner from the hardware store and cleaned it thoroughly before rolling it up and putting it in the garage until such time as we can bring it back out. We wondered if Jelly would just find another rug to pee on, in which case we'd need to start locking her in the kitchen when we're not with her.

The answer to that question came soon enough: Shortly after my sister's dog, Lucy, bounded through the house yesterday afternoon, there was Jelly squatting on the hardwood floor in the dining room. Argh.

On top of that is the barking. Jelly gets fed around 5:30 every night, and starting at about 2 or 3, she gets highly agitated, pacing through the house and barking at the least provocation (like setting a glass down on an end table). If I put her in the yard to get some peace, she barks insistently out there. The barking is nervewracking and wakes Ess to boot. If we feed Jelly early, she just starts the whole routine that much earlier the next day. We've recently started calling her Yelly, which is about the only thing in her life worthy of a chuckle.

I am at wit's end about what to do. Her quality of life isn't great; she pretty much sleeps, eats and goes to the bathroom (sometimes even out doors!). But she does not seem to be in pain, so I don't think it's quite time to have The Talk with the vet. I would be lying, though, if I said I don't look forward to the day when she's no longer with us. And then I feel guilty for feeling that way.

To be honest, I have never really bonded with her, in part because she is so rarely interested in human companionship. She lives for the most part locked in her own little world. D gets through to her -- he lays on the floor and snuggles with her, and cleans her face, and gives her treats. He loves her, and that makes this time particularly hard. I am seeing each transgression, each interrupted nap, each tussle with Rocky, as another step toward The Talk. D is just seeing the continued decline of his friend.

Bloggy friends, I know many of you are animal people. Do you have any insight about how to handle this? Any tips for retaining my sanity in the midst of cranky babies and giant containers of Nature's Miracle? Any advice about when it's time to have The Talk?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Four months old

Dear Ess,

It seems you have decided to celebrate your four-month birthday by taking a very big step: Today, you rolled from your tummy to your back for the very first (and second) time! You've been working on doing this for a while now, and this morning you finally figured out how to push off with your arms and wiggle your legs just right to flip over. You seemed awfully pleased with yourself when you were done, too.

In the last day or so, you've also started to unclench those little fists of yours and swipe at some of your toys. Yesterday, you tried to grab Zeke, and this afternoon you were grabbing at your musical frog. You've also recently discovered the joy of sucking on your hands; you spend lots of time trying to get them in your mouth. Sometimes, you even succeed! (And we have to admit to enjoying watching you hold a hand up against your cheek and then contort your lips around to try to reach it.)

You've gotten big enough to face forward in the Baby Bjorn, and yesterday you fell asleep in it while we were walking on a nice trail a couple miles from our house. You also ride sitting up in the sling, although you're still a little too little to do that for long. You've recently begun to take an active interest -- which we are completely thwarting -- in watching TV. So far, you seem to prefer sporting events, although to be fair you haven't had the opportunity to gaze on much else. And you love to sit on Mom's lap, leaning up against her, and look out at the world. You especially love it when Dad is nearby, making faces at you -- you arch your back and grin at him constantly. We think he just might be your favorite toy.

Your sleeping has improved quite a bit this month, for which we are very thankful. You reliably sleep for four or five hours after you first go to bed, and then sometimes for another three after that. You're still waking up more frequently (and with lots of gas that makes you uncomfortable) in the pre-dawn hours, but we've even seen some relief in that pattern from time to time. And just a few days ago, we took the big step of putting you to bed in your crib, in your own bedroom, for the very first time. You didn't seem to mind much at all, although you still end up in bed with us by about 3 am, largely because Mom is too tired to get out of bed and trot down the hall to you every couple hours. Now, if only we can finish organizing that bedroom and get some art on the walls...

In the last few weeks, you've also begun "talking" to us frequently. You love to sit in your bouncy seat and carry on a conversation -- you make some noises, then wait for one of us to answer you, and then you chat a bit more. You've gotten more sensitive to noise; these days, you wince whenever your silly dogs bark. Which is a lot. And speaking of the dogs: You finally outweigh Rocky!! We will get an 'official' weight for you later this week, but you're about 12 pounds now, and just about to grow out of your 0-3 months clothes.

You're still going to staff meeting with Dad every Wednesday morning. His only requests of you were that you take long naps and not have a poopy diaper in the middle of the meeting. So far, you have totally ignored both requests, which sometimes makes life a little difficult for your poor father. Otherwise, though, you seem to really enjoy spending time at his job, where everyone thinks you are the cutest baby ever.

And, really, we would have to agree. It's amazing to watch you grow and change, and it's stunning what you've learned in just these few months you've been around. Even though you're such a tiny little girl, you are teaching us to be patient and flexible. You're reminding us how wonderful it can be to just lay around and look at the leaves on the trees as they rustle in the wind, and how nice it is to take a warm bath. We absolutely adore you, little one, and are very proud to be your parents.

Much, much love,
Mom and Dad

Friday, September 08, 2006

Open the window, I'm venting

There's a little something I need to get off my chest that I am trying mightily to avoid expressing to my fabulous husband. So pardon me while I vent away here...

His parents did not acknowledge my birthday in any way. And this pisses me off.

There is a certain amount of thoughtfulness that seems to be missing on that side of the family. For example, when I was not eating dairy, my MIL would show up at my house with baked goods. I would politely ask if they contained butter, and she invariably would say yes. I would say, "oh" and not eat any. D even added, "You know mc can't eat dairy these days, right?" At one point she vaguely mentioned something about trying to look into recipes that didn't use butter, but that was that.

Meanwhile, my sister's husband on his own concocted a dairy-free banana bread recipe, and baked loaves for me several times over the summer. And he tracked down a really good dairy-free orange cake recipe (it's in the Joy of Cooking, if you're interested) and made that every time we got together. Friends made a point to drop off soy ice cream, or to make a salad with goat cheese instead of cheddar. So I don't feel like it was asking all that much that my MIL put a little effort into this.

And then the fact that they totally skipped my birthday -- which was nearly two months ago, so I've been holding on to this for a while now -- really irritated me.

The crazy thing is that they're not good gift-givers at all, so it's not like I'm missing out on some fantastic present. But I'm hurt that my birthday -- which has always been acknowledged in the past -- just slid by without so much as a phone call or a card. I really don't want to mention this to D, because he is extremely sensitive about any displeasure of mine related to his family. And I don't want to act like a whiny child who didn't get a present. But I really needed to express these feelings in the hopes that I can just get over it already. So here's hoping that the act of blogging it is enough.

Baby-related content to return any day now, I promise...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Thoughts about the whole work/childcare/finances situation continue to swirl around in my head, exacerbated by D's revelation this morning that he might not be able to go to a four-day work week when he goes back to work fulltime in January after all. This was a crucial piece of our strategy to minimize the amount of daycare we used. So if he's working Mon-Fri, then Ess will only not go to daycare on the days I don't work. And that makes this decision-making process that much harder.

The thing is, based purely on financial considerations, I should be the one working full-time and D should go part-time. Temperamentally, this would be plausible, too; I have always gotten a lot more fulfillment and enjoyment from my work than D does (although time with Ess is getting more rewarding, and I can see how it's going to get exponentially more so as she grows). And he is wonderful with Ess, and adores the time he spends with her. Somehow, he manages to get the house clean on those days, too... which is more than I can say for myself. But his position does not lend itself to permanent part-time work, especially since a key member of the team he works on is going out on maternity leave just as he goes back full-time.

And in our ideal world Ess wouldn't go to daycare more than three days a week; that way she'd still have the majority of her time with us, but she'd also get the socialization of daycare.

The hard part is that unless we make major, major cutbacks (ie, eliminating cable -- including NESN and ESPN, which are largely responsible for my husband's continued sanity -- and at least one cellphone, which I'm loathe to do given that we're both ferrying Ess around in the car at different points in the week), we simply need to make more money than we do with D working fulltime and me working part-time.

These are my choices, as I see them:
  • Continue freelancing on Mondays and Tuesdays, meaning we stick with 3 days of daycare at most, but work bleeds into the rest of my time at home. I report my freelance stories when I can, and write them at night and on the weekend.
  • Add another day at the magazine, meaning we go up to 4 days of daycare... and at many of the places I've checked out the cost is the same for 4 days or 5. So maybe I work five days a week, and we make a lot more money (and finally have the equivalent of three months' expenses in the bank like all the financial gurus recommend), but we spend a lot less time with Ess. Or I just work four and we eat the extra daycare costs.
So in some ways I'm backpedaling on my insistence that adding another day to my schedule at the magazine is the right way to go. Of course, this was helped by the fact that Ess took a couple good naps today -- including one right now -- and so I was able to get a bunch of work done on my freelance story. But, as we all discussed the other day, that's not something I can count on.


I don't know how we answer this question. D is discussing his schedule with his peers and his boss either today or next Tuesday, and I'm going to find out this week how much the magazine would pay me for that extra day. And we're going to have to have a long talk about what we think is best for Ess, and for us as a family, in order to make a decision.

As a sidenote, all of this stuff we're wrestling with is related to Jody and Moxie's posts about feminism, motherhood and work, but I am so mired in the details of our particular situation that I can't articulate the big-picture implications at all right now... other than to say that our society certainly does not make it easy to find a solution that works well for all involved.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Diary of a crappy Sunday afternoon

Ess is refusing to nap. The baby who's been able to sleep after simply being swaddled, binkied and stuck in the bassinet (no rocking, no nursing, no nothing) for all her naps the last few days is restless and unhappy.

Every time she falls asleep, frickin' Jelly lets loose with a round of loud barking for no reason other than that it is approaching 5:30 -- the dogs' usual dinner time -- and she would like to eat now.

So Ess wakes up and cries.

When I lose my patience at dealing with that situation -- as proven by the large spot on the dining room rug, where all the water landed when I flung the contents of my glass at Jelly so she would just. shut. up. -- I trade jobs with D. He is in the kitchen, washing dishes and steaming the beets for the salad we will have with dinner.

I check the beets, refill my water glass, nibble on chips and salsa (maybe my blood sugar is low and that's why I'm so intolerant??). And then I smell something. Something burning. Yes, it is the beets, which have been steaming so well that the water is all gone.

I try switching them to another pot and re-steaming them with clean water, but it's no use. They are scorched tasting and gross.


Apparently, yesterday afternoon was so crappy that I never got to finish writing this post. Ess is napping now, and Jelly is asleep under the desk. And we had a nice conclusion to the day yesterday when my sister and her husband came over for dinner and the Sopranos (we just have three episodes left in season 6...).

Hope y'all are having a good long weekend.

Friday, September 01, 2006

For love & money

My mind has been reeling around matters related to work and money lately... at least in part inspired by Mommygoth's post the other day. I'm not sure I can be coherent about this, but let me try.

These days, we are living paycheck to paycheck. I manage our joint checking account, and it's always interesting to watch the balance as we're getting to the end of the month and the next mortgage payment (if by "interesting" you mean "painful" and "agita-producing"). We don't have any credit card debt, but we do have ye olde mortgage -- at a good interest rate, and with only ~17 years left, thanks to a dumb-luck refinancing we did a couple years ago -- plus my good-sized student loans from grad school (just refinanced; due to be paid off in 10 years) and the similarly sized home equity loan we took out to redo the bathroom and buy the Prius last year (due to be paid off in nine years).

So right now D is on part-time paternity leave, but bringing home his whole paycheck. I am working three days a week and making just slightly less than he is. From January to May, when Ess was born, I was also freelancing the other two days a week, and managing to bring in a pretty decent amount of extra money. We were able to pay for the Puerto Rico trip in cash, buy some baby stuff and sock money away to cover my unpaid maternity leave. We were hoping to not depend on my freelance income in the long run, since the plan was that I would be home with Ess on what had been the freelancing days, and then gradually work my way back into freelancing.

And that's what's happening. But it's much harder than I imagined to get anything done with an infant around... especially one who only sleeps in 45-minute increments. So I've completed one small assignment and am in the midst of another one (for which, by the way, I have still not completed even one interview. Egads.). There is plenty more work out there, thanks to the editor who's subcontracting stuff to me, if only I can find the time and brainpower to work on it. The problem, I'm realizing, is that this work isn't anything I care much about -- it's decent stories for obscure publications that I will likely never show to anyone. So the freelancing isn't doing much to advance my career. And because I am simultaneously caring for Ess and working, the freelance assignments are seeping into the entire rest of my life -- evenings, weekends, my real job, etc.

Then, at work yesterday my editor brought up the idea of adding a day to my schedule each week. The magazine could certainly use me, and the extra day would bring me to 32 hours a week -- meaning I'd finally become eligible for everything from paid vacation and sick time to medical and dental benefits. It would also mean, of course, that Ess would have to go to daycare. She's headed there in January anyway, for two days a week, so this would mean she'd go for three. I would have a steady paycheck, and my work would be confined to normal business hours four days a week. I am pretty sure that the increase in my salary would more than cover the cost of daycare -- which, incidentally, we have no provision for in the current budget situation. And I could still pick up the occasional freelance piece if I wanted to.

So I think that's where we are headed. And I think it's the right decision. So why am I spilling all this virtual ink over it? (And sorry for the excrutiating detail, but part of this is just me thinking everything through in detail.)

I guess it comes down to the guilt I feel about the fact that I would, in some ways, rather work than spend the day with Ess. But I also think that if work is confined to work hours, rather than being potentially able to occur anytime, I will be a better mom to Ess during the time I do spend with her, rather than being preoccupied with finding sources and waiting for the phone to ring and stressing about how to conduct an interview with a baby in my lap. And I think a little less stress about financial affairs would create a more pleasant home environment, too.

There are still some big hurdles we have to get over -- not least of which is finding out what, exactly, my salary would be if I added that fourth day. Then there's the question of finding daycare. And then there are the financial hurdles still to be leapt, such as setting aside emergency cash -- we would have to go straight to the plastic for anything more serious than a good-sized car repaid, which makes me verrry nervous -- saving for Ess' education and very belatedly getting D's 401k going (I just discovered that the social service agency where he's been working for -- count 'em -- 10 years matches 401k contributions. So we have been giving up free money for all that time. Shoot me now.).

On the other hand, if I were to win the Powerball, that would be ok, too.

And, yes, I know I would have to buy a ticket in order for that to even be a remote possibility.