Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's up to me and only me

One thing that was so refreshing to discover at the Type A Mom Conference this past weekend, is that I'm not completely insane. It's always nice to discover that, I think.

What I mean is, that for awhile now, I've been pondering why it is that people can't just do their best, rise above, and quit telling everyone else how to do things. In the blogosphere, that is.

Let me give you an example. I'm a piano teacher. Well, when I'm working, I'm a piano teacher. I teach out of my home. So does another woman in my neighborhood. I teach on a 6'4" Mason & Hamlin grand piano, use the latest notation and ear training software on a large flat screen HP computer, and am a member of all of the professional organizations. I hold a Bachelor of Music in music composition, perform and record regularly, and my students kick ass in competitions, if I do say so myself.

The other teacher in my neighborhood teaches on a spinet, has no degree, doesn't enter competitions, and simply decided that since she could play the piano a little, that it would be a good way to make money from home. Teaching lessons, that is.

Needless to say, the other teacher charges less than me. She gets more students coming in her door because she is cheaper and just as convenient as I am. She is patient and kind, and never tells the parents that their children need to invest more time in their lessons at home.

If I applied what I keep hearing from other bloggers to this situation, then I should have a sit down with this other teacher and talk to her about how she is bringing down my profession. I should ask her to join our organizations, charge more, and be a better teacher. I should call her up and let her know that she is cheapening what I do, and belittling piano teachers everywhere.

And actually? I know a couple of teachers in town that have done just that. They got nowhere with it, and people generally don't like them.

Here's the way I see it.

That woman calls herself the same thing I do: a piano teacher. However, calling herself one doesn't make her one. Sure, I "miss out" on a number of students whose families aren't willing to pay what I charge. I happen to look at it as though she is weeding out the people who aren't worth me spending time away from my children. The people who aren't serious about their child's music education and are just looking for another after school activity.

It is up to me to continue proving why I'm better and worth more money. It is my responsibility to live ethically and be the kind of teacher that people seek out and don't just stumble upon. My success or worth has nothing to do with the other people who are in my same profession - it has to do only with how well I do what I do. The other teacher has nothing to do with who I am.

There is room for everyone. Back to blogging, there is room for good writers, bad writers, reviewers, monetizers, writers who get paid, writers who don't. The internet isn't going to run out of room, and if you are true to yourself - authentic - then you will be successful.

What you need to feel validated and successful is unique to you. While one woman may be excited to be paid in cupcakes, another one may demand $300 for a post. It doesn't mean that the woman demanding $300 for a post won't get it. It's not like the same company that would be looking at her in the first place would then go and consider all of us cupcake writers out there.

I'm validated by the relationships created through this space. Cupcakes are nice too, but mainly, I just really like having a place to write and an outlet that leads me to other women writers as well.

I think Mommy Niri said it quite well, "Blog and let blog," or as I like to say, "It's alright with me if you suck," which was going to be my title until I realized that some people might not find that funny. Except Abby.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Type A Mom Conference, Part Uno

I'm home again. I've snuggled my son, snuggled my husband and then some, and finally taken a bath. My roomie would be pleased. I didn't intend on not bathing, I just didn't. Well, just not often. This is so far off topic already and totally TMI. Hooray.

After attending two very good BlogHer conferences, which I would still recommend to people, I can also say that the Type A Mom Conference was far superior for me. For who I am as a blogger, it was the best conference I've attended. I loved the size and the focus on moms as bloggers. It was a ton easier to meet people, and you ended up being able to see some of the new people you met more than just once.

Kelby rocked the planning the conference. One thing she got right over other conferences was the food. There was plenty of it, and she even thought ahead about nursing and pregnant attendees, who need extra healthy snacks during the day. Where at BlogHer '07, I frequently felt as though I would faint at any minute because I was a starving preggo, this past weekend, I was able to get a banana or a Nutrigrain bar and a bottle of water at any time. It was great.

There is so much more to say, but that was the length of Kevin's shower. Now he's back, and I want to spend some time with him. And my new perspective on blogging includes - do it when you can and quit when you need to. That may lead to a week's worth of short Type A Mom posts, but that's perfectly fine.

Thanks, Kelby and everyone who helped you, for a great weekend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Road trip

I'm headed out to the Type A Mom Conference. This morning, I'll be picking up Abby in Kevin's crazy tiny car, packing all of our stuff into its crazy tiny trunk, and headed for the mountains.

Here are my confessions:

1. I'm not as excited as I could be. I want to go, and I don't want to go all at the same time.

2. It's the first time I've ever been away from Bird overnight. Ever. In his entire life. Hence the want/not want feelings.

3. I'm scared that Bird will wean while I'm gone. While I know this would be alright, and that he isn't really nursing that much anymore anyway, I really wanted it to be his decision and not because I left him for three days. Of course, I should have thought more about this when planning the trip. Duh.

4. Mixed in with my ambiguous feelings is the pure excitement of being free for three days. Even though I don't feel the need to carve out a bunch of "me time" - I actually enjoy being with my kiddo and being his mom 24/7 - there is part of me that is excited about not cooking or cleaning for three days. Yay.

5. I'm not worried about Kevin taking care of Bird. I feel like I'm supposed to be, but I'm not.

6. I've never really spent time on the Type A Mom website, but the conference is in Asheville and far more affordable than BlogHer.

7. I don't read many of the blogs of the people speaking. Some, but not many. Will be out of the loop I guess.

8. I don't care to monetize my blog or connect with sponsors. Although if VW wants to give us a Touareg to test drive for awhile, I wouldn't turn that down. That's a sweet deal. But really, I'm kinda wondering what I'll do that will be conferencey like.

9. This trip is coming at a time when I've started to think that blogging is more work than I have time for. We'll see . . .

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Last Saturday, we took Little Bird to see They Might Be Giants. Our friend Abby saved us some fabulous seats on the fourth row, and we got to rock out with not one excited toddler, but two. It was the best way to see the show.

Bird has long been soothed by "I Never Go to Work." I'm not sure of the implications of that, but it has been a favorite song of his since he was about six months old. We could put that on in the car and stop any crying instantaneously. Now, he sings along with it, pulling a word here and there from each phrase. As you can tell by the picture, he always gets a big "NOOOOOOOO!" in there. He'll also pull in a "DAY" here and there and sometimes even a big "HOLIDAY!" He also likes to put his fist up to his mouth and pretend he's playing trumpet during the second verse. It's beyond adorable.

They didn't play his second favorite song, "High Five." As soon as that song starts, he sings, "HIGH FIVE!" followed by a series of words that his mama knows are "don't stop" and "up top," but I'm not sure a stranger would. He also particularly loves to throw in the "WHEEEEEE!"

Bird has been to a few concerts already. He wasn't overly excited about The Connells, but loved Mosadi Music. He tolerated all the bands at Gibson Summer Jam about as well as I did. But this? He absolutely LOVED this. He danced, he sang. He had a great time, even on a day where he had no nap.

I don't need to tell you how much it means to me that my child loves music the way he does.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Staying power

There are few people who come into your life as friends and then remain that way forever. Sure, I've reconnected with plenty of people on Facebook, but there are less than ten there who I've been friends with for ten straight years.

A lot of that is my fault. I decided to try and completely fuck up my life in my 20's, thereby rendering me not such a good friend. Truthfully, it wasn't so much a decision as a series of really bad decisions. Including my choices in new friends.

In fact, in my collection of Facebook friends, there is a time warp of about 8 years. I have high school friends, a handful of college friends, and then jump ahead to 2005. With a couple of exceptions.

One shining exception is Uncle Dave. He has graduated from his old nickname of Tattoo Dave because he really is more family than friend.

This past weekend, Uncle Dave came for a visit. He lives in Portland now, and we miss him a lot. The last time we saw him was when we took off to Portland for a weekend to see Dave and Crowded House. It was almost two years ago to the weekend, and I was almost exactly the same amount of pregnant then as I am now. Funny.

Little Bird had never met Uncle Dave. He has seen pictures, and he has heard Dave's music. Here he is head bobbing along to one of Dave's tunes:

I love that.

Uncle Dave, who really would be a wonderful Daddy Dave with the right Mommy, got to spend lots of time with Bird, and Bird couldn't have loved him more. He was fascinated, and I know that he misses him now.

I know this because when he picked up his pretend phone today, he didn't call Papa for the first time in forever.

He called Dave. "Day-ahve?" Multi-syllabic Dave has earned a treasured spot in Bird's imaginary phone calls.

It's a good man and a good friend who stays your friend through divorce, remarriage, and then not only tolerates your toddler, but actually enjoys spending time with him. Could the universe please explain why he hasn't been snatched up already?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flying by

I had this moment of realization today. Bird is growing up. I know that's not a brilliant deduction or anything, but it just became glaringly clear.

There are videos that I want to take of him and the way he talks right now in this moment so I can remember his baby voice.

There are lists of words that he says that I want to write down.

There are stories I want to tell about his new t-ball set and how much he loves all balls now.

I want to record how he says "Grover" in his best Grover growly voice.

So much of what is going on, I want to put here in this space. To share and to make sure that I remember it. But lately, I've been too busy living it. It's going too fast now to experience it and record it properly.

I hope I find a balance soon, because it's all too rich to miss out on.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


This is just because I like it. And also because I couldn't shut down with 666 posts on my blog.

Lovely and Bird, each the president of the other's fan club. It's awesome.

Snapshot. Snap judgment.

Little Bird is easy going. He says "Hi!" to almost everyone we pass, and when we leave a store, he turns around and waves like he is in a parade, calling out, "Bye! Bye! Buh-bye!"

Thus far, we have avoided an all out disastrous tantrum in a store. If I can get him in the door and into the shopping cart without him yelling, "Walk walk!" then I know it's going to be a good trip.

A lot of days though, he wants to walk through the stores, more often than not, pushing the cart. Without help. Which doesn't work well at all. Sometimes he will settled into the cart within a couple of minutes, but sometimes not. It is never longer than five minutes that he cries and protests. It feels like a lot longer to me, but it's really not.

In that five minutes, I push through the aisles, quietly telling Bird some version of,

"I understand that you are angry. You want to walk through the store, and I'm making you ride in the cart. You are frustrated, and that's alright. I need you to calm down now."

We walk past people who turn and look at my crying child. Some of them look with empathy. That's usually the other moms. Some of them will make a funny face at him to try and get him to laugh. That's usually the employees. Then there is the person who looks at him, then at me, and back at him, lasering their disdain through their stares.

Truth be told, I don't care what they think. If I had to have a conversation with them though, I would point out that they are witnessing about 10 seconds in the life of my child. I would like them to consider that their scowls are just as unpleasant as Bird's cries, only quieter. I would like to point out that if they run into us a few aisles down, that he will likely be done crying and wave to them with his friendly, "Hi!" because he doesn't hold grudges like grumpy old people.

It's just a snapshot. It's not the whole story. It doesn't make him a bad child.

I guess that's why I just can't shake this story. The man slapped a toddler in a Walmart because she wouldn't quit crying in what he deemed the right amount of time. Oh, and I forgot to mention, she wasn't his child.

This was a total stranger who came up and slapped the little girl several times across the face.

He was arrested and charged with a felony, which is totally appropriate. But I can't shake that feeling of what would I have done? The emotional side of me wants to say that I would have kicked him in the balls as hard as I could. But I know I wouldn't have.

I think I would have put myself between he and my child and called the police. Rational, but proactive. I think. I really hope that I never have to find out.

That man must be seriously disturbed.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

We are all just fine

Today was Little Bird's first day of school. Technically, it's Mother's Morning Out, but since he can't say all of that, but can say "school," we're going with that.

Last night, I melted down. His backpack hadn't arrived yet. I hadn't even bought him a lunchbox because it hadn't occurred to me that he needed one - I was thinking brown bag, but he needed a freezer pack thermal thing for his milk. I hadn't washed the outfit I really wanted him to wear, and I hadn't packed up the things from his room before I put him to bed.

I felt like a failure, and I didn't want to be away from my little boy for four hours. It was going to be the longest I had been away from him while he was awake, and all of the sudden, I didn't want to take him.

There were excuses I could have used. He is cutting his canines and between the pain in his mouth and his torn up drool stool bottom, he really is very uncomfortable. That would have been a good excuse. But it would have been just that: an excuse.

It came down to reminding myself that this was going to be good for Bird. He needs to learn a little more independence. He needs to learn how to play well with others.

He was going to have fun. It was just me who was dreading it.

This morning, I packed his lunch in his daddy's lunchbox. It was just fine. I packed his diapers and extra clothes in his daddy's tres cool diaper bag. It was just fine. I dressed him in a different outfit than planned, and it was just fine.

We arrived a few minutes early, and while I was filling in the daily information sheet, he figured out the door handle to his room and let himself in. A teacher came to the door before I could catch him and brought him back to me.

"Just five more minutes, okay?"

Bird whimpered. He whimpered because he wanted to go inside and play. There were other children whimpering because they didn't.

When it was finally time for him to go in, he went willingly into his teacher's arms. I think that he looked back for an instant, but I might have just made that up to make it easier for me to walk away. He was just fine.

I came back, four hours later, to find him running circles, chasing about a dozen balls. The other children were watching the door for their mommies, but not Bird. He would have preferred to stay with the wonderful room full of balls. Mean, mean Mama, drug him away from paradise. He didn't miss me at all. He had a wonderful time.

And I'm just fine.

Labor Day

Of course, Labor Day is for laboring.

That's my husband. With power tools.

That's a giant hole in my dining room. To the outside.

Life with Kevin is never, ever boring.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Excavating by Bird

There has been a bit of construction going on in our backyard. Our good friend Tom owns his own tractor like thing, and he loves to move dirt with it.

We have lots of dirt to move, so that works out well for all of us.

I don't know many 19 month olds in suburbia American who get to ride a tractor around their backyard. Uncle Tom is the coolest.

And yes, I'm enormous. I'm well aware of this, but really don't plan on curing it until late January, 2010. So, I might as well enjoy it while I can. Even if the pictures are frightening.