Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
I used the Thanksgiving holiday to spread my work over several days. I only went into the office one day last week and was able to alternate work with other activities, including naps. While I missed the commute and the contact with others, I found this much easier to handle than a full work day. I’m reaching the point where I’m ready to wrap things up.
I saw some milk in the store with a sell by date of 1/9/11. I found it reassuring, especially on a day when I wasn’t feeling well, that the baby will most likely be here before that milk expires.
Most of the people I know who are expecting have had their babies. I’m pretty much the next up to bat.
I’m starting to stress a little at the lack of certainly of when I’ll go into labor, how we’ll handle the logistics of care for River, how painful/difficult it will be, and how I’ll get through the uncomfortableness of the coming weeks and days.
It’s really tough to focus on anything beyond the most basic tasks. I’m very eager to give up whatever responsibilities I can.
I now nap, when possible, for an hour or two in the late afternoons. It helps keep me sane. I’m productive until nap time. Post nap-time I’m merely awake.
A single, childless friend came to visit and I realized how un-fun she found outings with a pregnant-lady and an almost three year old. Early wake-ups, leaving the attraction at 12:30, and naps at 3 were not her idea of a good schedule. It partially made me feel like a middle-aged mom. But the love and fulfillment I get from my family is worth it. And I no longer find late nights and late wakeups very attractive. There are benefits to being up early and to being among the first to arrive at attractions. Even my friend recognized the benefit of shorter morning lines by day two.
I put on eight pounds during the month of November. It’s probably a combination of water retention, the baby getting bigger, reduced mobility and the holidays. I’ve crossed the big weight hump and seem to be following the pattern from my first pregnancy of packing on the pounds in the final months. My face looks chubby and I feel fat.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
She had a collection of beautiful trucks – a semi that opened and carried cars, a firetruck, another semi that carried a rocket. They were in pristine condition, in their original boxes, with lights and realistic sounds. We happily took them home and freecycled the duplicates. The ones we kept became River’s favorite toys, as well as the main attraction for other kids who visit. I felt so lucky that this nice lady randomly picked us as we walked down the street as the next home for these treasures.
So I was surprised when I turned on the TV the other day and saw an ad for a truck that looked a lot like the one we have – and it’s currently available. Looking through the website, I see Hess has offered a different model almost every year. I think the one we have is the 1999 model. Eleven years later, it’s still a great toy. If we didn’t already have one so similar, this would definitely be on my shopping list this year.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
On a more positive note, this article describes how a woman is facilitating the exchange of breastmilk on the common market.
Makes sense. I initially thought it would be great to donate to a milk bank. Then I realized I could hardly produce enough for what my one big eater demanded. I was envious of the people who had freezers stocked with excess milk. During one trip home, my sister-in-law’s sister (one of the copious milk producers) gave River a bag of her frozen milk. It was a little odd, but I didn’t mind. I figured her breastmilk was surely better than formula. If I’d had access to a regular supply of someone else’s breastmilk, I would have used that instead of the bottle or two of formula he received daily from six months or so on.
Now a series of groups on Facebook allows those with excess milk and those who can’t produce enough to make exchanges locally – all in the spirit of giving young children better nutrition. What a fantastic idea. If you are interested, read the article and follow the link to Eats on Feet to find your local group.
Friday, November 26, 2010
The fact that children compete for the love, time and attention of their parents results in kids being pushed in opposite directions. When one sibling is good at something, the other will focus on something else to minimize competition, even if the second sibling may be talented by societal standards.
Since my brother was adopted, our significant divergences can be explained by different genetics. My husband has two genetic siblings. I see certain characteristics he shares with both of them, but personality-wise, they are all pretty distinct. Mark was the most difficult one to parent – the most colicky, sensitive, stubborn and independent.
River’s easy, mellow, thoughtful and sensitive personality has been so ideal for us. We are really rooting for a sibling with his personality. But we have less than a one in five chance of getting it. So we must be prepared to adapt, to treasure the differences, and to adjust to a personality that in all likelihood, will be more challenging to parent.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I’ve recently discovered that cookbooks make for good toddler reading, at least for a toddler who enjoys food as much as River does. I’ll hand him a cookbook in the stroller or in the car and he’ll flip through the pages, enjoying the food porn and commenting on which things he wants to try. It’s an easy entertainment source (parenting magazines work similarly well) and an interest we can share.
What are your favorite cookbooks?
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
River had a Thanksgiving meal at his preschool. So first I had to drop him off, then go home and bake a sweet potato casserole, then be back in time for the musical concert (scheduled to start promptly at 11:30) and lunch. In the meantime, I had to start and finish my statistics problem set before my afternoon class.
I left late for the concert and had to walk there carrying a fairly heavy and hot casserole. I tried not to stress. River didn’t seem to recognize he’d be singing in a concert today. He probably wouldn’t miss me.
But it’s his first concert ever!, another voice called out to me. It’s my first chance to meet parents of his classmates, to see his classmates all together! You are going to miss it. You are going to let him down. I hadn’t managed to finish my problem set, meaning I wouldn’t be able to turn it in on time (this is the first time I’ve missed a deadline). And because our car broke down, I had to cancel River’s appointment for a flu booster shot.
I arrived ten minutes late and thankfully, the school had waited for straggling parents. I saw River seated at the front of the multi-purpose room, wearing a headband with colored feathers. He was scanning the room and looking concerned. “Mama? Mama?” I could hear him say, as he looked for me. Oh God, he really was expecting me to be there.
When he saw me, he tapped the child next to him and pointed at me, “Mama! That’s my mama!” I recognized I needed to treasure that moment, his pride at my presence and wanting to point out my arrival to his classmate, who could probably care less.
In any case, I was so glad to be able to shoot a video of his first ever recital of a few Thanksgiving songs. I didn’t expect that he’d know the songs, since he is there only one day per week, but he did and I think it will be a cute addition to the video treasury of his early years.
I saw that among all the 3- and 4-year old kids, River was the only Caucasian. Virtually everyone, with the exception of a few teachers, was Hispanic. This is what attracted me to this place. I wanted River to be able to form friendships with native Spanish-speakers. He seems to fit in just fine. But today I realized that I felt a bit culturally out of place and perhaps this won’t be as easy as I thought.
For starters, I was expecting a Thanksgiving meal. The teacher told me there would be turkey. So I volunteered to bring sweet potato casserole. She didn’t seem thrilled by my suggestion, but said OK. To my surprise, none of the food was traditional Thanksgiving fare. There was one small rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. The main fare consisted of “tacos dorados,” fried tortillas stuffed with chicken and served with black beans, sour cream and salsa. There were enchiladas in green sauce, oily fried tortillas to be topped with black beans, crumbled cheese and grated lettuce, potato chips, juice and soda (no water, no diet soda), cookies, fruit, rice, and a cabbage/beet salad. One parent brought fried Oreo cookies – a delicacy I had heard of, but never tasted.
It was pretty fun to be able to have such a Mexican meal, despite the fact that it wasn’t what I was expecting. But I felt like I stood out as the only Caucasian parent and that I may have appeared odd speaking Spanish to my child. These people could probably identify all of my grammatical mistakes. I spoke to some of the kids, I sat across from a teacher, and I tried to talk to one mother. But the dialogue didn’t flow easily. I felt I was being received with a certain reserve. It wasn’t a situation in which I could comfortably suggest a playdate.
I’m used to going into new environments, being met with some initial suspicion and then forming friendships and trust. But it’s hard when you only have a half hour every couple of months. The lack of regular interaction makes it hard to get to know people. This isn’t a place where parents volunteer or where there are easy opportunities to be in communication.
So I have to be patient. I’ll go to the events that I can, and hopefully as I see people more, they will come to feel more comfortable around me. I also have to wait until River begins to form friendships and then I can try to support those, and get to know the parents in the process.
It’s interesting to find myself in such a culturally distinct setting in my own backyard. It concerns me that the Hispanic community in my area tends to live apart. I’d like to get to know more of the residents. It’s seems it’s easier for children to do this, freed from so many of the adult judgments and expectations. So I put River in there and hope he can serve as a bridge.
As I felt I was running behind or performing subpar on most of the things I did, one thing I did manage to accomplish (thanks to the broken down car) was walk – a lot. I covered over 14,000 steps, about 7 miles. Not bad for an almost 35-week pregnant lady.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I’ve been counting down since October 1st and am now around the halfway point. That’s a relief, though six more weeks seems like an awfully long time.
I’m already coming close to busting out of the maternity clothes I started wearing less than three months ago. I now use a black belly band to prevent my bare belly from popping out at work.
Yoga is depressing me. I did prenatal yoga up until the day I went into labor with River (I began labor just after I returned home from yoga). It’s not happening this time. The teacher has higher expectations and I end up more bummed about all the stuff I can’t do than I am relaxed and soothed. Also, there was a great community in my yoga class last time. I’m still in touch with most of the people three years later. But too many people are coming in and out of this one, so it’s lacking the sense of we’re all in this journey together. I regret signing up for another session.
My stomach is a calabash, one of the firm semi-circular gourds commonly used around the house in Africa.
I am notably conscious of carrying around a large, moving object. This has made it not only difficult to maneuver, but is at times painful.
Picking up a small object from the ground has become an Olympian feat. Doing anything with my shoes is getting to that level of achievement. I still pick up River (I feel like I don’t have much choice there – I have to get him in and out of bed, onto and off the toilet and sometimes in and out of the carseat), but lifting 36 pounds doesn’t seem like the best idea.
I’m starting to feel a special level of consideration, especially from men. People hold open doors for me, they let me go first if we bump into each other in the hall. I’m getting the “it must be coming soon” looks from people. Nobody has commented that I’m especially large, but they are not surprised to hear it will be arriving just over a month from now.
I feel like I take up the entire hallway at work. Walking down the hallways, I feel debilitated, like I’m falling to pieces, and like this must be evident to people who see me. Perhaps this is where the “it must be coming soon” looks are coming from. I don’t feel quite so bad walking in other places. Perhaps it’s the effect of long periods of sitting.
I am so beyond grateful for finding an incredible masseuse and the treat of a weekly massage. Heaven. Absolute heaven.
I read somewhere that babies born between 34 and 37 weeks tend to do fine in the long-term. I don’t think I’m much at risk of delivering early. But still, it’s nice to know that it’s close to fully baked, close enough that it is likely to have a normal life should it come at any point now.
I feel an attachment to the idea of the person who will appear. In the same way I now imagine River within me, and am glad I was able to provide him with what he needed to begin his journey to the person he is now, I’m sure I’ll eventually have similar feelings about this child. But for now, it remains very much a thing inside me. I can’t visualize it. I don’t talk to it. I don’t try to expose it to music or other stimuli. I don’t feel much connection to it. When my yoga teacher tells us to put our hands on our belly and connect with the beautiful life we’re creating within, it feels false to me.
I am made happy by:
-apple strudel from a gourmet bakeshop with vanilla gelato and goat milk caramel sauce
-the intense color of the sky in the late afternoon
-strolls through mild weather and crisp autumn leaves
-looking into River’s eyes and feeling the sense of perfect mutual understanding
-conversations with friends
-my commute. As long as the weather holds up, I like having the opportunity to walk four miles in the course of the day, to listen to audiobooks, and to have a little quiet time to myself.
-cooking, organizing, recording, planning
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I received my first batch of Christmas cards, wrote something on them, got River to sign them, got Mark to write something on the ones for his family, stamped them, addressed them and put them in the mail. I’m astounded. A few people are not only going to receive cards from me, but they will get them before Thanksgiving. I feel like superwoman and credit the nesting hormones. For a review of the cardstore.com cards I ordered and a 20% off coupon, see here.
Dancing in the living room with River while we twirled ribbons. He still had whiskers painted on his face from an afternoon event at the library, where he was made into a dog.
We found a new tenant, at least for a few months, and it’s a married woman. I feel much better about the possibility of going into labor or dealing with breastfeeding and/or pumping with a woman around than a man. And she’ll be gone on weekends, so there is a chance I won’t have to disturb her with my labor.
The in-laws visiting, bringing with them roasted duck, fried oysters, scallop ceviche, pumpkin pie, chocolate chip cookies and side dishes. I could get used to that.
The in-laws reminiscing about their recent safari in the Serengeti, reawakening my travel urges and providing River with valuable lessons about the place and animals. I’ve taken a safari in the Serengeti (it’s amazing) and it’s one of my dreams to do that as a family when my kids are teenagers. There is nothing comparable to seeing wild animals up close and in their element – plus I’m taken with the people, the landscape and the history of East Africa. Mark is not so enthusiastic. The other day, while gazing at the full moon, River said he needed a spaceship because he wanted to go there and see the craters. He suggested Mark and I go with him. Maybe the Serengeti doesn’t sound so far away after all. In any case, it seems closer to River now that he has seen some photos and has some carved animals, some books and a t-shirt with Swahili phrases.
I have lots of things to plan for and to look forward to in the coming weeks – a constant stream of events, gatherings, meals, celebrations and things to cook. This is putting me in an unusually festive mood. It’s also distracting, which is a good thing now.
Time to read statistics (not that I especially enjoy it, but it has to get done) and poetry.
An afternoon nap, two days in a row. It completely changes the second half of the day. I can’t wait until I can have some rest time every afternoon.
Continued mild, golden weather.
A fun playdate at a friend’s house. They seemed to be functioning surprisingly well just a few weeks after the birth of their second. So that gives me hope.
The passage of time. I’m getting closer to wrapping up work and closer to getting this large moving object out of me.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
I wonder how much of this discrepancy is due to breastfeeding. While breastfeeding, the burden is pretty much on the mom to deal with middle-of-the-night feedings, either by getting up, or by pumping enough milk so that dad can give a bottle in the night. Dad can get up to change the diaper before the feeding (for me, that was a big help) but still, dad’s sleep disturbance will be 10-15 minutes and mom’s will probably be 15-60. At what point does a well-rested mother, who can be a better parent during the day and/or better breadwinner for her family outweigh the benefits of breastfeeding?
Assuming both parents are equally capable of meeting the child’s need, an author advises, “For parents of young children, the best approach might be discussions and negotiations about whose turn it is to get up with the baby tonight."
I have to thank Mark for introducing the idea of earplugs. It seemed a bit cruel to me at first, to tune out the sounds of your baby’s crying. However, it forced us to decide each evening, who gets to wear earplugs? The person with the earplugs in is allowed to sleep. The person without the earplugs is the one who gets up. So the decision as to who is responsible is made every night before we go to bed. We were lucky to not have to deal with much in the way of sleep disturbances after the first few months – but taking turns and having a schedule definitely helped us get through the initial period.
How do you decide who gets up in your house?
Thursday, November 18, 2010
This is the third year I’ve belonged to the farmshare. It was an incredible year in terms of bounty. We have only a half share, yet were getting over 10 pounds of organic tomatoes per week for weeks on end. There was no way I could use anywhere near that much (sometimes we received nearly 20 pounds), so despite giving many away, my freezer is now bulging with freezer bags filled with tomatoes.
But my favorite part of the farmshare this year was the way River was able to participate. I considered joining a farm that drops the shares off at a local natural food store. It would certainly save time and gas to not have to go to the farm myself. But I find participating in the connection between the earth and my nourishment is good for my soul. I love the smell of the air in the field, the sight of the vegetables hanging from tendrils, and the resin that sticks on my hand after picking cherry tomatoes. I like knowing that the food I eat was just pulled from the earth that day. Best of all was giving River that connection.
I arranged my schedule so that I’d have the car on the farm pickup day and could leave work on the earlier side, allowing me to pick up River and get to the farm before traffic got too bad. He accompanied me most weeks, helping me to pick peas and tomatoes, to cut flowers and herbs, to weigh lettuce, arugula, cauliflower, potatoes and sweet potatoes, to collect peppers and tomatoes and greens. In the course of one season, he learned more about the origins of his food than I knew when I went to college.
He’s still only 2, but he knows that you pick tomatoes when they are red, and blueberries when they are blue (“no verdes!” he says). I allow him to use the garden shears and he is capable of cutting flowers on his own. He can use tongs to put objects on a scale and he understands the concept of measurement. He took such joy in the collection of flowers, arranging them in the vase, smelling them and admiring them through the week. He understands that flowers die and can be replaced with new growths. He understands that no more vegetables will be growing until the spring comes. He recognizes a corn stalk and knows if the corn has been removed.
We recently started to stop by a nearby dairy farm to buy eggs, meat and cheese (once I got over the price shock of real farm eggs and decided it was worth it). There he saw the cows milked and the origins of his milk. He now makes a point of making clear that his milk comes from cow teats. During our visit this evening, he asked why chicks hatch from some eggs and other eggs are eaten.
I suppose for a two-year-old farm child, this would all be common knowledge. Perhaps I’m overly impressed because I was so far removed from this world during my childhood. I grew up near a sheep farm and would visit it sometimes. So I had a decent idea of how wool is shorn. But with the exception of a short stint with a garden plot, I didn’t have a clue about where my food came from or how it was produced. Nor did my parents seem to care much. I grew up on white bread, Jell-o, and iceberg lettuce.
I think it’s exciting and beautiful to watch my child understand this connection and to participate in the process. For this reason, even though my schedule is going to be tighter and my responsibilities greater by next farm season, I plan to sign up again and take River for weekly excursions to pick up our food from the source. I can’t wait to share in this time with him again.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
supposed to be content to have a private room with a witness as me and perhaps my children are mawed by security agents? Either my children have to go through radiation and their naked images appear to officers (some have gone as far as to call this child pornography) or go through what could be a disturbing and scary experience (described by one pilot as molestation)? No thanks. I think the TSA can do better. In the meantime, I’m glad to not be flying.
Which option would you choose for yourself and your children?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The top of the bump is tight and sometimes painful, probably pressure against the lungs and ribs. It’s tough to get comfortable these days and breathing is sometimes a challenge.
I’m starting to focus on the end stretch, wrapping up what I can or at least winding down. However, I still haven’t addressed a lot of organizational issues – like registering for hospital admission or figuring out who is going to care for River when I go into labor.
It’s harder to situate River on my lap. I can no longer lean back in the glider, but have to force him to sit upright on my knee. So far he hasn’t complained. If anything, I feel like he is valuing cuddle time and my attention more. Yet I feel some guilt knowing this is probably the first of many little things that will change the form, but not the essence, of our relationship.
River’s attitude toward the baby and my pregnancy has been very solicitous. So far I’m not seeing any signs of jealousy or anxiety, besides perhaps a slight strengthening in his already strong preference for mom. He likes to ask what the baby is doing and shows concern for what it is eating. He’s interested in how the bottles work and the baby clothes I’ve been washing and folding.
My stomach is starting to seriously get in the way of things. I’m feeling like a hippo, or the conveyer of a big construction ball that bangs into anything that’s in the way.
I’m so longing to join River in his 2-4 p.m. naps.
My prenatal massage is still the best thing ever. Prenatal yoga is no longer so fun, especially when I’m the most pregnant person in the class and the teacher is still asking us to do things like roll back and forth on our backs.
I’m starting to have the “could this be labor?” thoughts.
I find it hard to be productive in the evenings. I set goals, but end up wasting my time watching TV, eating and surfing the internet.
I’m now waking up in the night even with a Tylenol p.m. I may up the dose to two.
I’m starting to feel some excitement to meet this baby, some wonder as I realize that she’ll soon recognize the places, landmarks and people that form River’s life as the constants of her own life, and some fear at how large she’ll be and how I’ll get her out.
I’ve just started to occasionally lay my hand on my stomach. Not because I’m particularly sentimental, but because my stomach is sticking so far out that it’s easier to rest my hand there than anywhere else.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Why does paper come out of the printer?
Why are you sitting in dad’s office chair?
Why are the cookies new?
Why are you wearing a purple shirt today?
Why is there paper on the street?
Why is my model car now on the shelf instead of the ottoman?
Why don’t we have spider lights on our window any more?
Why did the object fall? Why, mama, why?
My answer is usually met with several more whys, without an end. Yet the questions are asked with such sincerity, I feel obligated to do my best to answer.
I imagine this is challenging for any parent, testing the limits of their knowledge. But the fact that I’m asked, and must answer, these questions in Spanish makes it doubly difficult for me.
I think I need to start carrying around my Spanish dictionary. And perhaps Mark’s wikireader.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Highlights of the weekend:
Beautiful golden leaves and sunny fall weather. I was able to walk outside without a jacket. Since it’s likely to be snowing by the time the baby comes, this weather makes my due date seem far away. Yet being able to enjoy the crisp, comfortable weather, the light diffuse with golden leaves, makes the time go faster.
A visit to a farm, where we learned how to harvest field corn, shell it, and grind it. River got to see the farm animals and take a wagon ride with dad.
Lunch in a restaurant with super-cool décor – stained glass windows and a huge lion painting on the wall.
Getting to meet a friend’s 2.5-week old baby.
Taking a walk with River, and going at his leisurely pace. Stopping to collect colored leaves and hang them from the stroller.
Watching Babies with River. He watched it rapt for an hour, before I paused it for dinner, then eagerly watched until the end. It really is a great movie for toddlers, as long as you are OK with your child seeing breastfeeding. It’s an especially good opportunity to watch it with them and talk about what babies go through and memories of what they were like as babies. As a soon-to-be big brother, I think it gave him a good overview of what he’ll see in his sibling’s first year of life. He definitely already understands that I’ll have milk in my breasts that the baby will be drinking.
I made and ordered my first batch of holiday cards.
River taking a FOUR-HOUR nap this afternoon – so long that I had time to nap myself, and get some other things done. When I went in to wake him (yes, I had to rouse him), he lay face down with his diaper pulled down far enough so that his butt cheeks were bare. Cute photo.
Turning the pumpkins decorating our porch into puree and toasted seeds. I have enough puree to freeze several portions. I think the first batch may get turned into these.
What did you do this weekend?
Saturday, November 13, 2010
When it was time to go, he cried. In the car he begged, “I want to go
back to school!”
Similarly, on his first day of preschool, he had no reaction to our leaving, but cried when we came to pick him up. This kid really wants to be in school.
I think back upon one of my earliest memories, sitting by the window as a toddler on a rainy day, lamenting that I couldn’t go to preschool that day (I was in a 2 or 3-day per week program) and asking my mom how long it would be until I could go back to school. I also remember the day we got in a minor car accident on the way to preschool dropoff. I was not only kept from going to school that day, but wasn’t allowed to take up my friend’s invitation to spend the afternoon at her house. I still remember my intense feeling of missing out and drudgery, as I sat home with nothing to do and my mom tried to get over her anxiety after being hit by a semi while driving with a couple of toddlers and a baby.
I have several vivid memories of the time I spent at the preschool itself. I can remember both my teachers, several of my classmates, the rope we used to take walks outside, the church building, how I loved sitting in the younger teacher’s lap during story time, how I struggled with the left/right exercises, and even the layout of parts of the classroom.
Preschool was pretty much the highlight of my life at that point of my existence and it seems to be the same thing for River. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
Friday, November 12, 2010
my husband as I try to advocate putting our son into an international baccalaureate (IB)-based program. He says our local public schools are good, which is true. They are good by U.S. standards. But they aren’t so great, especially in math, science and foreign languages, by world standards.
An intriguing excerpt reads:
“How would our states do if we looked just at the white kids performing at high levels—kids who are not, generally speaking, subject to language barriers or racial discrimination? Or if we looked just at kids with at least one college-educated parent?
As it turned out, even these relatively privileged students do not compete favorably with average students in other well-off countries. On a percentage basis, New York state has fewer high performers among white kids than Poland has among kids overall. In Illinois, the percentage of kids with a college-educated parent who are highly
skilled at math is lower than the percentage of such kids among all students in Iceland, France, Estonia, and Sweden.
Parents in Palo Alto will always insist that their kids are the exception, of course. And researchers cannot compare small cities and towns around the globe—not yet, anyway. But Hanushek thinks the study significantly undercuts the diversity excuse. “People will find it quite shocking,” he says, “that even our most-advantaged students are not all that competitive.”
One recourse would be to adopt IB or programs of similar quality standards in the local public schools. But according to the article, only Massachusetts has yet done this with any real effect, and even that state still has a way to go.
I doubt I’ll immediately find the focus and the discipline to start serious work now. But I decided instead that in addition to mothering, my goal over the next eight months is going to be to pursue knowledge. I’m going to read voraciously, to attend lectures, to join Netflix and rent lots of documentaries. I plan to audit a course this spring and hope to avoid choosing something practical, instead taking some random subject that piques my interest. I don’t know what courses are available yet, but something along the lines of a religion class on Buddhism, a literature course, a film course, a history course in a topic I know little about, a course taught in Spanish, or perhaps a scientific course taught for non-scientists (I’m a secret lover of geology) would be great.
When I was on leave with River, I went to all kinds of lectures and public talks – from academic talks on the incarceration rates of fathers by race or the real rates of women dropping out of the workforce, to author readings to lectures about how to choose healthy foods or how to best drink and enjoy tea.
I tend to focus on what I’m going to do with information. However, I don’t want to limit myself to learning for the sake of producing. I want to give myself this time, or whatever little chunk of this time I can find beyond sleeping, breastfeeding and managing daily existence, to just learn.
I’m going to rejoin my Spanish-language fiction bookgroup. I’m going to attend any and all talks that sound interesting and that I can make it to – regardless of whether or not I have a practical purpose for the subject matter. I will have a large supply of audiobooks on hand, to listen to while walking or breastfeeding or doing things around the house.
It’s a modest goal for me – to purely take in information. But years of work and then motherhood have made me recognize this opportunity of flexible time for the luxury it is. I’m excited about it. It gives me something to focus on beyond the baby.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
As a result of seeing spots and having blurry vision at work this morning, my doctor wanted to me to come in immediately to check me for pre-eclampsia (I don’t have it). I ended up going home after the doctor’s appointment and finally, was able to take a long-desired afternoon nap.
Even when I’ve had the chance lately, such as on weekends, I haven’t tried to nap, both because of the things I want to get done, and because I think it’s unlikely I’ll fall asleep and don’t want to take medication during the day.
However, after many afternoons longing for River’s schedule, with rest in the 2-5 p.m. range, I decided to give myself quiet time, the same way I would give it to River. If he doesn’t sleep, I still leave him in his crib for two hours or so in the afternoon. At the very least, he is quiet, restful and has time to decompress. I figured I could use the same thing and determined that 2-4 would be my quiet time.. If I slept, great. If not, I was going to remain in bed, either just lying there or reading.
I did sleep for just over an hour. Upon waking, I was tempted to get up and get back to work. But I made myself stay there until 4, lying in a state of restful half sleep for 30 minutes, then reading for a half hour. I got up feeling so much better than I’ve felt in a long time.
I’m recognizing that I can now use a nap time, or at a minimum, a quiet time, along the same schedule as River, at least through the end of the pregnancy. It’s not possible on most weekdays, but I’ll try to be better about it on weekends. And as soon as I start my maternity leave, mommy nap time is going into effect.
I’ve heard there are websites where you submit names and people vote on them. Does anyone know which ones are good?
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
With a two-year-old, we are pretty far away from worrying about his first sexual experience. But the dialogue, the tone and the sense of secrecy or lack thereof starts from the very beginning. A lot of books are coming into our house now about becoming a sibling, which is related to babies, which is related to where babies come from. River has yet to ask any pointed questions about where the baby in mom’s stomach comes from. And since only one of the books we have on this topic is in Spanish, Mark is one doing most of the reading on this subject.
“Some of them are too graphic,” he complained. “River doesn’t need that. I prefer the ones that focus on what it’s like to become a big brother. He’s interested in that.”
I think Mark is skipping over, or leaving out, any possible discussion of origins. I think I’d be more likely to read them to River, to do so in a matter-of-fact way, while he’s too young to associate sex with shame and just let him take it in among the other facts of life – nothing special or out of the ordinary.
How do you handle discussions about sex with your young or not-so-young ones? When do you start the dialogue, or do you wait for your child to initiate it?
chunks means I got a lot done. Household tasks, organizing, three
social events with friends and even some work. It was great.
When your kid sleeps 11-12 hours to start with, it doesn’t really
matter if he gets up an hour earlier. The first night, there was no
effect. On subsequent nights, he got up at 7 instead of 8. No biggie.
River strongly ties darkness into the concept of night and the need to
sleep. As soon as it starts getting dark, he’ll mention that it will
soon be time to sleep. Since he normally goes to bed at 8 and it’s
been plenty dark by then, we’ve been having an easy time with bedtime.
The darkness coming earlier will only transition him into sleep mode
earlier. No problem there.
I have a hard time getting up when it’s dark and an even harder time
commuting in the dark. I am especially loathe to walk through the
forest along the train tracks in the dark, which is part of my
commute. So if it’s dark, I’ll go to work later rather than brave a
walk in the scary woods. My preferred work schedule is to start and
end on the early side, so more light in the morning makes this easier.
All that to say that with all the parents complaining about the time
change, here is one who has embraced it. I very much appreciate the
extra hour and the change in lighting.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
embarrassment and a statement of where our country really stands with
regard to gender equality, especially compared to other countries.
Can I hope that it will better approach, or reach, equal
representation before my future daughter is old enough to understand
why not many of the people who represent her look like her?
Continued trouble sleeping means I’m taking a Tylenol pm on an almost nightly basis. I feel bad about this. My doctor reassures me that the benefits outweigh the risks. “You will only get heavier and your body will work harder and be more tired as the pregnancy progresses,” he said. “You need to get sleep while you can.” I know he’s right. Having been through it before, I feel my body needs every ounce of sleep and relaxation it can store. Yet I still wish it didn’t require medication.
My aversion to being on my back is so severe I couldn’t even stand lying on my back for 2-3 minutes while the doctor measured my uterus. I read somewhere this affects 8% of women.
I’m starting to wonder how long I want to keep working. A desire to stay busy and active, as well as bring in some income while I can, makes me want to keep going. A desire to rest more regularly and to spend more time cooking, cleaning and reading makes me want to stop. I was reassured to hear my doctor say that most of his patients stop at 36 or 37 weeks. My employer wants people to work to 38 weeks, but I’m no longer sure I’ll make it that long.
My mind is satisfied with rather menial things. I have to break complicated or analytical tasks down into small pieces and accomplish them over several days. I’m strangely content with a list of errands or organizational tasks.
I miss my husband. Due to my sleeping and back-lying issues, he is permanently relegated to the couch. I expected we’d be apart for several months after the birth, allowing at least one of us to get some sleep. I didn’t expect it to start several months beforehand.
I continue to count down, but feel some accomplishment at the 40 days that have passed since I started counting down. The upcoming holidays will hopefully provide distractions.
River is so calm and chipper and cheery about the prospect of the baby. It doesn’t seem to phase him at all. He is the complete zen-master of people entering and exiting his life. It is how I would like to be. He enjoys them while they are there, but doesn’t miss them when they are gone. No one’s absence or presence affects his ability to be happy with his own existence. I hope that quality stays with him.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Most surprising to me was the Mongolian mother who squirted breast milk across her child’s face in order to wash it. It wasn’t surprising that the Namibian and Mongolian mothers
didn’t use diapers, and the Japanese and American parents did. But I was surprised and admittedly, a bit grossed out, by the Namibian mother wiping her son’s poopy butt along her knee, then scraping it off with a corn cob. It was interesting to see the noticeably greater
involvement of the father in Japan and the U.S., as well as the (over)emphasis on stimulation in those countries. It was also interesting to see that despite the risks some of the kids encountered – flies, drinking untreated water, poor hygienic conditions, being potentially stepped on by a cow or goat, they all grew into seemingly happy toddlers. As I flinched at the potential safety or health risks, I tried to keep in mind the positive benefits of bacteria, independence
I identified most with the Mongolian family. Having spent time in the region and slept in many yurts (the one in the movie seemed exceptionally clean to me) I could feel the life the child was living as he grew up. I knew exactly what it felt like to sit within the darkness of the yurt and look out at the bright mountains and steppe, illuminated by the sun, as the sounds of livestock and cocks create a symphony nearby. The baby’s personality, so calm and happy and able
to find interest in whatever surrounded him – from a herd of cattle to a bucket of water to a cock jumping onto his bed – reminded me of River’s. And there is something about the landscape that calls to me. I had a strong urge to grab River and jump on an airplane and go live
on the steppe for a while. I think there is something in that landscape that is a part of me. And I feel it would speak to River as well. Mark thinks it’s due to my influence, but when River sees
interesting lands and places, in books or in videos, he asks if he can go there with me.
“Quiero ir alli, mama,” he says. He has asked to go to Iceland, to Namibia, to a remote cave in South America, to Egypt and to Mexico. I always tell him yes, we’ll try to make it.
If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth watching. I’m planning to rent it and watch it together with River. He is very interested in babies right now. I think he’d enjoy seeing the different lives babies lead. I imagine it would stimulate a lot of discussion about what is happening to each baby and why. In the course of that discussion, I could teach him that various cultures have different ways of raising babies and one is not necessarily any better than another. I want to inculcate in him a desire to learn from other cultures and not just limit his imitations to his neighbors or classmates.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
On Tuesday (he also came with us when we voted for Obama). He pushed
all the buttons as I instructed “that one, now that one, now that
one,” then he got to push the big red button to send it all off.
Later, when we passed a small group of people at an intersection
rallying for their candidates, he asked what they were doing and I did
my best to explain.
Government, politicians, it’s probably all blissfully over his head
right now. But he has voted. And pushing buttons is fun.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Then she wanted to do an exercise to practice visualization. I told her previously that I’m not a very good candidate for hypnosis or visualization. I know people who have had remarkable success with it and I wish I could be like them. But I am far too much of a realist to let myself float that far from reality. Nevertheless, I told her I was willing to try.
She told me to get a bowl and some ice cubes. I started dreading it immediately. I figured it could be nothing but painful. First I was supposed to hold an ice cube tight in my hand while she timed how long I could hold it with a stopwatch. Then I was supposed to hold it again, thinking about how uncomfortable it was. Then I was supposed to hold it a third time, visualizing a safe place. Apparently, the negative thoughts are supposed to be correlated with not holding on as long, while the positive thoughts were supposed to move me away from the pain and help me to hold on longer.
But after the first round, my hand was already numb and the repeated rounds quickly became painful. I couldn’t shake the thought that subjecting myself to needless pain seemed pointless to me. I am motivated by achieving a goal, or getting through whatever is needed to reach that goal. To me, the goal is to get the baby out, it’s not to become skilled at enduring pain.
When pain arrives during labor, I have no choice but to get through it – like it or not. When it’s an ice cube in my hand, I can drop it and rid myself quickly of the pain. So that’s what I did.
She didn’t seem very impressed. “Only 20 seconds,” she said. “You’re supposed to try to last a minute. Twenty seconds is about how long it takes just to get in to the contraction.”
She seemed to suggest this was something we could practice, but that is definitely not going to happen. Sorry, but I’m just not interested in simulating a contraction. Getting through the contractions that will come on their own is plenty to deal with, as is getting through the next uncomfortable weeks. I’m trying to focus on giving myself relaxation and treating myself well when I can, not giving myself extra pain to practice with.
Guess I’m officially a wimp. But at least she’s forewarned and will probably come to the birth with low expectations of what I can handle.
it could possibly be valid once the newborn sleep deprivation has worn
off, I am not feeling it now. In addition to struggling with frequent
lightheadedness (which only seems to appear at work), I’m having a
heck of a time concentrating. I am managing some analytical things –
I’m doing OK in my statistics class and just passed a difficult exam
at work. But I have to work on these things in small chunks over many
days. What I actually accomplish in an eight or ten hour period feels
I also wonder how the effects differ for moms who dedicate themselves
full-time to parenthood and those who don’t. For me, I find that
being out of the loop, away from colleagues, away from daily adult
interactions and away from exposure to new tasks and concepts that
challenge me limits the range of topics I know about and definitely
makes me feel less smart. I know it’s not really a question of
intelligence, but of intelligence being exercised. Without exercise,
I lose it. At least temporarily.
Maybe in a few months I’ll feel smarter. That will be something to
look forward to.
Friday, November 5, 2010
But now he’s caught up and seems to be quite fluent in both languages. I wonder what it is that captivates me so, given that I speak English most of the day.
I think it’s the knowledge that none of his English comes from me. Knowing that I haven’t taught him a word in English makes me recognize that every single word he utters, every construction he puts together, comes from a source other than me. That despite how important I am in his life, at this young age, he’s capable of picking up an entire language without my participation. If he can do that, before the age of 3, I just imagine how much else he is soaking in from the world around him. The influences are small, but they accumulate and I see the massive effect in his fluency. He is already a part of the wider world.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I generally tend to seek happiness from non-material things. But I have to admit, this umbrella added a couple of points to my contentment index today. How fun to see a bright spring flower on a cold, rainy day.
My theory, yet to be proven, is that I’m less likely to lose this umbrella. The bright pink color may provide a visual reminder. But mainly, I just enjoy seeing it enough that perhaps I’ll be more likely to remember to pick it up.
Extra joy comes from seeing River’s appreciation of my beautiful umbrella, then sitting at the table with him to enjoy molasses cookies, milk and kale chips together. He raises his mug of milk and asks to clink glasses. It’s a bright afternoon, despite the rain outside.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
dish. I was going to try these but then came across this recipe and changed plans.
They weren’t very tasty, probably because I used a mix and I’m just
not impressed with brownie mixes these days. But they were a lot of
fun to make and they looked good. River had the job of unwrapping all
of the mini Reese’s. I applied the white frosting, then he put on the
chocolate chips as pupils. I had to go out and buy some supplies to
make the hair, but I have big cake decorating plans for River’s
upcoming birthday, so it makes sense to start collecting some basic
At work unwrapping the Reeses
A plateful of eyes
Our monster brownies
If I were to make them again and actually wanted them to taste good,
I’d look for a good brownie recipe. But for fun and a good
impression, they definitely did the job.
This was the first Halloween that River was able to anticipate,
understand and fully participate in, which made it so much fun. For
the first time ever, I put up Halloween decorations. We went on a
walk through the woods, we went trick or treating, we attended a
party. Throughout, he never expressed the slightest discomfort with
the skeletons, spiders and witches, but accepted it all as part of the
fun. He enjoyed the trick or treating and loved his pumpkin basket,
but his interest was more in the impressive decorations than in the
receipt of candy.
“I don’t need any more candy,” he said, after visiting several houses.
But he loved seeing the other kids in costume and examining the yard
He wore an Elmo costume that we got for free and was very well
received. Even a middle-schooler we passed on the street said it was
a very cool costume. Hopefully it will still fit next year.
Since he didn’t go to all that many houses, his stash of candy wasn’t huge. I
let him have several treats on Halloween itself, plus he ate a copious
amount of peanut butter frosting, while helping me make the monster
brownies. He did get some less damaging treats – like pretzels and
packets of goldfish and teddy grahams. So after he went to bed, I
cleared out the corn syrup, highly artificial and highly
gooey/cavity-causing bits, leaving some lollipops, the less harmful
treats and a selection of toys, stickers and other knick-knacks. I
think the pumpkin still had enough stuff in it for him to go through
that he won’t notice or mind the disappearance. But I’m not sure how
to handle it in future years.
I think Halloween is going to become an important celebration in our
house for at least the next decade or so. It’s so much fun to see his
excitement, wonder, and enjoyment. It’s also one of the only times we
get to see some of our neighbors. For a short while, we all get to
become kids again.
What is your Halloween candy policy? How does it work for you?
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The rib kicks have begun. Ouch.
I almost fainted in a meeting with a supervisor today and she ran out
to get me water. Embarrassing.
I’m tired all day, but have a very hard time going to sleep, either for a nap or for the night. I’m taking a Tylenol p.m. on an almost nightly basis.
My nether regions feel like they are falling apart. I suppose it’s the pelvic bones loosening up in preparation for what is to come. But I wonder if it is instead remembered pain, warning me that perhaps I don’t want to go through that again.
On the positive side:
I’m still at only 26 pounds weight gain. I say only because for me, that's not a lot.
I got my bangs trimmed and the hair stylist didn’t notice I was pregnant until I got up to leave and she offered me my jacket. “Are you pregnant?” she asked, looking down at my stomach. When I said yes she replied, “Ohmigod, you are tiny.” It doesn’t feel that way but still, it’s better than being told I’m huge or asking if I’m expecting twins.
Still no stretch marks or linea nigra.
I’ve made it through one of the three holidays on my countdown. Just
Thanksgiving and Christmas to go (perhaps New Years as well?) and then
it will be over.
My weekly pre-natal massage is a lifesaver.
Mark is not enthusiastic about the idea, so I’ll have to take on this project myself. I was going to use tinyprints, since some friends had recommended it before. But then I came across an offer from Shutterfly that said I can receive 50 free cards if I blog about their holiday cards. So I’ll be trying Shutterfly this year.
I can’t say anything about the quality of Shutterfly, or any other holiday card maker, since I haven’t ever ordered any before. However, I did order a couple of photo greeting cards from Shutterfly this spring. They turned out beautifully and the recipients seemed to appreciate the personalization of the photos and the greeting, so I have high hopes. Since we are expecting number two right around the holidays, I’m wondering if I make a joint holiday card/birth announcement, or at least include a photo of number two together with our family of three photo.
I’m liking this one for the option of multiple photos. And this one too. But if I don’t include a personalized message, I suppose the folded cards would look pretty bare inside. In that case, perhaps a flat one, like this, would be better?
A question for you. Should I go with a service that pre-addresses and mails the cards, taking out a big step and making the process easier and more likely for me to accomplish? Or it is worth the effort in order to add a personal note, or at least signature? Do you include a letter with your cards, or just send the card? What do you prefer to receive?
Monday, November 1, 2010
Paul’s book, Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the rest
of our Lives.
I’ve yet to read the book, but admit that anything that puts more
responsibility onto pregnant women makes me nervous. Yet her
recommendations in this piece sound reasonable – eat fish, exercise,
avoid toxins, don’t worry too much about moderate stress, and seek
help for depression.
Perhaps the larger lessons are societal. Not so much blaming women
for not eating enough fish, not exercising enough, or being around too
many toxins, but changing policies, incentives and urban planning so
that woman are able to do the things that research advises.
the adult world. We have a nosy neighbor. Someone warned me about her when we moved in, so I’ve tried my best to be nice. But they just inserted themselves in our business in a way that makes it very hard for me to be nice. It was more
of our tenant’s business she inserted herself into than ours, but the
result was that we lost our tenant (who I liked a lot) and the income,
just as I’m about to go on maternity leave and need the money.
I’m kind of at a loss of how to deal with it. I don’t think
confrontation will work, as she’s a long-term and well-connected
community resident, while we are newcomers. Getting on her bad side
won’t do us any good.
I probably need some time to practice acceptance. But in the
meantime, I can’t fake it, so I didn’t take River trick-or-treating
there, and they may well have felt the snub. I have this horrible
feeling of being watched and monitored. I’ve started making a point
of closing the shades and we’ve made plans to improve the shades on
the upper levels. Mark wanted to invest in better shades for our
bedroom and I was resistant, saying only those neighbors could
possibly see anything and they must have better things to do than
watch our house. Guess I was wrong.
I grew up with my parents, and thus my brother and I, not on speaking terms
with one of our next door neighbors. I don’t want to bring my son up
in a similar environment. Yet I’m kind of at a loss of how to deal
with it. This is an entirely new realm for me and kind of makes me
want to go rent an apartment in a large city.
Does anyone have advice on how to deal with, or survive, nosy neighbors?
1. I have let writing fall off my plate and in the past two months. I’ve been less motivated to write than usual. I find blogging easier to do than other kinds of writing, so I may as well put some words down, in the hope I’ll eventually be inspired to return to other types of writing.
2. I have friends doing the write a novel during November challenge. If they can write a novel in a month, I can write a measly blog post per day.
3. I actually don’t have a problem writing a post per day. I often write multiple posts per day. Unlike another blog I have largely left for dead, which requires that I do something before I have something to write about, I’m constantly parenting and thinking about issues related to my job as a parent. My problem is in finding the time to format my entry for posting and to get it up. It might be nice to get into the habit of a daily post. It would be even nicer to get caught up on all my old posts before I enter severe sleep deprivation.
4. I’m a sucker for a challenge.
So, since I’ll be more committed than usual to my blog this month, is there anything in particular you’d like to read about?