Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My living room no longer resembles a skating rink.

Hooray! The sofa and love seat are here! They're cushy and comfy and have New Couch Smell, which is otherwise known as toxic outgassing of fabric protectant spray. Well worth it, considering their first official use was by a naked 2-year-old and his artificially-colored bubble gum.

We got home from the first park day of the season to discover that they'd been delivered while we were out. I made the boys take a bath since they were filthy. And then Grouper was ready for a nap and Puffer was ready for some cable. So, no one sat on them all afternoon until Grouper woke up while I was starting dinner.

Some day I'll get photos posted. They're very cute!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Balancing act

So, my post is finally up at God's Gals, and I added an update. We didn't go to the moms group at church this morning, but I still need to call the leader and let her know why, and that I won't be able to recommit to the group after all. I like most of the members on an individual level, which is one reason it was so hard to admit that I don't belong there.

In general, it's been a challenge for me to find balance between staying home and going out, family time and time with friends. My eldest prefers to be at home, playing on the computer or with a friend. His brother loves to GO, or at the very least, be outside riding his bike. My personal tendency is to make too many social commitments, or else to spend too much time on the computer or otherwise preoccupied and not playing enough with the boys.

It is one of my goals this fall to stay aware of what's working for us all, and what we can live without. Our homeschooling group is growing rapidly, and there are now way more activities than we could possibly commit to. Plus we have a new family small group through church which is awesome (who but Episcopalians would meet, kids included, to discuss theology and life at a BREWERY?). We have friends in the group(you know who you are!) who are my role models for prioritizing family time above too many adult-exclusive or otherwise extraneous social events.

Giving up the Tuesday women's group was step one on my road to recovery from an over-active social life.

I'm also trying to balance my personal desire for order and daily rhythm with my children's desire to have me at their disposal and to choose their activities freely. In the process of figuring out this unschooled life, I've sometimes found myself un-schooling *myself* instead of my kids -- and then CHAOS reigns instead of FREEDOM.

Speaking of freedom, here's one of my favorite Bible verses...

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
–2 Corinthians 3:17


What the heck?? It's 1:30 a.m. and I'M STILL ON THE COMPUTER! Not that I've blogged or written lovely e-mails to my dear friends who never hear from me directly. Nope, just up. Browsing. Trying to ensure that I'll oversleep tomorrow so I won't have to go face the Moms Who Think I'm a Freak at church. Read more here in the morning. My post should be up tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Not that you asked...

I've been trying to recreate some balance in our lives the past two weeks, as in, Do Dishes Daily, Blog Weekly, instead of the other way around. But I just have to blog about the subject of Hathor's latest cartoon.

She was pretty furious about a column in Salon criticizing outspoken attachment parents. And I love her cartoon's response. It truly is not fair that parents who base their parenting choices on history, thought and research are the ones NOT allowed to share their opinions. Not that I think anyone should be handing out unsolicited advice to strangers. But AP moms get more than their fair share. I can't tell you how many times people "warned" me that my baby was going to "overheat" or be "smothered" in his sling. AP parents suffer through all sorts of nosy, unwanted questions. "Isn't he potty trained yet?" "He's not still sleeping with you, is he?" "When are you going to wean that child?" or "Why don't you just spank him, then he'll stop that whining!"

I think Ayelet Waldman is correct that advice from AP parents is more threatening to a parent's sense of adequacy than the advice of those whose practices are "often less a matter of conviction than one of convenience." Shouldn't it be? No one wants to be a detached parent. And everyone knows "breast is best," whether or not they want to admit it or do anything about it. But what, exactly, is wrong with conviction? The problem is NOT that AP parents give conviction-based advice. The problem is that human beings are imperfect. They forget that other parents have feelings and love their children. They forget that NONE of us WANT to screw up our kids. And they forget that it's rude to give unsolicited advice to strangers.

On the other hand, I, for one, am tired of giving good advice to people who don't really want it. Did I mention that my last client is using Baby Wise as her parenting bible? She had that baby on a schedule before she even got home from the hospital, and quit breastfeeding not long after that. She had no business taking my class in the first place. She wasn't the least bit interested in natural childbirth, and she thinks that you can't raise a child on less than $80,000 a year.

In other disappointing news... Our neighbors across the street became parents for the first time a few days ago. (That's not the disappointment, of course.) They're very private people, and we haven't been especially forward in our neighborliness because of that. Nonetheless, they know that I'm a breastfeeding educator, and that I was available for any assistance they might need. Unfortunately, they chose to keep their difficulties of the first two days to themselves, and their baby girl ended up back in the hospital with severe jaundice.

My neighbor and friend who lives next door to the new parents brought me the news. She was pretty irritated by the whole scenario, knowing it could have been prevented. I'm frustrated by the fact that they were released from the hospital before the baby was nursing well, just because the mother had an easy birth. But I wasn't surprised that they didn't ask for help.

One of the first lessons we were taught in lactation educator training was the maxim "Don't work harder than the client." In other words, if the mom doesn't want to do the work, there's nothing you can do to make her succeed at breastfeeding. At first I thought it sounded like a cop-out. Aren't we supposed to care about our clients and their babies? Wouldn't anyone who loved their baby and had the right information WANT to breastfeed? We have to start out as idealists, or we'd never bother at all.

But eventually we're forced into realism. When you get that first call from a mom who's clearly looking for a way out, who doesn't really want you to have a solution, only a reassuring "you tried, it's okay to give up now." Because the truth is that a lot of people don't want the information at all. They don't want to do the work, and they don't want to feel any guilt. Ignorance is bliss -- though only when you have no idea of the greater bliss that's available with the right information, motivation and support.

The problem, of course, is that some moms get caught in the middle. They desperately want to breastfeed their babies, and they've tried everything they and their consultants know of, but some piece of information, some amount of support, some act of God is missing, and the bliss they expected never comes. It's not fair.

In the case of our hermetic neighbors, I don't think it's a matter of not wanting to succeed so much as it is our culture's bizarre reverence for medical personnel. As though somehow people who specialize in the care of sick or premature babies in emergency situations would know more about the proper care and feeding of a healthy, full-term newborn than an experienced mother certified in breastfeeding education. They don't. They used to give babies sugar water, for heaven's sake. Not that a NICU nurse can't also become a CLE or IBLCE -- I wish more would! But it's not a normal part of their training.

Another part of the problem is the idea that you can't actually prepare for parenting, that you just have to figure it out as you go, and learn from your mistakes. Sure, that's true to some extent. But there IS information out there. And some mistakes CAN be prevented. Severe jaundice would be one of them.

Anyhow, I think I've gone on long enough. This post went in a different direction than I planned, so maybe I'll actually write again soon. ;)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Checking in.

Hey, we're having a good day so far! I'm really happy to be back in my own house during the day. It's nice just having the computer right next to the kitchen where I can talk to the boys while they play games and I clean. I had a lot of guilt when at my parents' because Puffer's favorite spot was on my mom's bed watching her tv, while I was usually all the way across the house in the kitchen, or down the hall on the computer or watching the other tv in the sunroom. My parents have a huge house, which is perfect when a lot of people are there together. But not so managable when it's just me and the boys.

Our house is an old-fashioned shotgun. So the living room, dining room and kitchen are one long, connected space. Even when the boys are in their bedroom/playroom, we can hear each other easily. The drawback, of course, is that it gets really noisy, especially with the new wood floors and no doors on the bedrooms yet. So naptime will be a challenge until I finish painting the woodwork. I did find a super deal on some cute rugs for the living room. That tones down the noise and give the boys another soft place to play.

Anyhow, not that you needed an explicit description of our layout... just wanted to check in in case anyone prayed that the day would go well. It is, thanks. I even know what I'm making for dinner, and it won't matter if UberDad gets home late. (Chilled chicken and veggie pasta salad, if you wondered.)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Bear with me. Maybe this'll end when the sofas arrive.

So, I'm still living between two homes due to lack of seating at our house, and despite the best efforts of my friend Carla, who helped me move the computer back home, the Internet connection isn't working now, and I haven't had time to call about it yet. I finally got the connection back up at my parents' house tonight, and now I'm wasting time writing about computers...

Anyhow, it was a stressful week, and PMS didn't help. UberDad started his new job and worked a few 13-hour days, which I am NOT used to. Despite my cheery first day back on full-time mom duty, by Thursday I was a mess. I started thinking maybe the decision to try for a third baby was completely insane.

Then I remembered that I was probably premenstrual and possibly over-reacting. And, if so, we had some time to rethink the idea anyway. If not, pray for Scott. Poor man has to live with me.

Fortunately, Saturday was my mom's birthday, and we got to have a girls' day. Shopping, movie, lunch, gossip, etc. I'm so darn spoiled. Between bites of cobbler and ice cream, my sister told me she thought I'd been really present and attentive to the boys since she got back this week. As in, way more so than before she left a month ago.

On the one hand, I was very happy to hear this, considering how I felt I'd been all week. On the other hand, it made me wonder just what kind of horrid mother I'd been during the month of July.

I lie. I know what kind of horrid mother I was. The preoccupied, don't-bother-me-I'm-blogging-don't-you-know-I-have-READERS-go-ask-Daddy kind of mother. Ego so big it's a wonder if anyone shows up again to read this post.

Okay, so I'm being melodramatic. But I did default to Scott too much and was pretty bitchy on occasion.

But, tomorrow's a new day. Monday. And UberDad has to work late again. So, if you have time, pray a little prayer that I can be present and attentive, and not distracted by less important things.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Back to work.

So, it's been over a week since I posted that ridiculously long to-do list. And of course I haven't completed them all! BUT -- we did reach my goal of sleeping in our own beds Saturday night! The floors are finished, and are absolutely gorgeous. The first coat of paint is on most of the trim, and the second is on behind the bed and computer desk (though the computer's still not up, so I'm back at my parents' to write this).

Today was UberDad's first official day back to work, though he put in quite a few hours last week. So I went to work, too. I made blueberry pancakes for breakfast, visited with my sister who just returned from Vienna, did the dishes, changed all our sheets, scrubbed the bathtub, washed the car with the boys, swept and hosed off the front porch, and did two loads of laundry while the kids ran in circles and slid all over the new floor. I even got a shower before lunch! Still not sure how I all managed that. Guess it helped that there's still no furniture to sit down on besides a bench at the table.

During Grouper's nap, Puffer and I played a new card game (like Go Fish, but with bugs) twice. And then my sister, the boys and I went out for coffee while we waited for Scott to get home. He made a massage appointment for after work since he could barely sit down after all the strain on his lower back. Then I made a salad, grabbed my knitting bag, and we went to visit friends for dinner.

I think I must have taken my vitamins, too.

So, now that you're updated... here's a link to my posts on God's Gals. I planned to post them here, too, but didn't get a chance. My parents' computer was being wacky this week.

A time for every season

By the way, I've been reading that Enneagram book, and I'm definitely a Nine (sin: laziness). A recovering Nine. At least today.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Have Done, Still Have To Do

I feel like a freight train so overloaded with cargo that at the next bend in the track everything's going to topple out of my cars down a mountain and crash into the sea.

This is my to-do list for the week:

Help Scott clean the living, dining and bedroom walls, and tack floors to prep for finishing.
Return phone calls to two good friends whom I haven't spoken to in a month.
Wash diapers and fold three other loads of clean laundry.
Unload and reload two dishwashers.
Dig through three weeks of mail for last month's bills before the water and power get turned off.
Sweep and mop two kitchen floors and three bathrooms.
Make salad and attend potluck planning meeting for homeschool group Monday night.
Search mess in boys' room for copy of "The Great Divorce" before church book discussion group meets Tuesday night.
Prep and paint baseboards in living, dining and bedroom.
Help Scott measure molding for around the floor.
Shop for bedframe so we can move mattress into bedroom.
Shop for curtain material, take sewing lesson from Mom.
Pay overdue CAPPA membership dues, register for childbirth conference, reserve hotel for Disneyland trip.

This week I've been living in a vacation fantasyland, avoiding the reality of the work ahead of me as much as possible, even as Scott has been laboring nonstop next door. I went to the craft/fabric store FOUR times to shop for scrapbooking supplies (and completed three pages alongside my neighbor -- woohoo!). I went to the yarn shop TWICE for knitting supplies (started making a cover for a scrapbook). Had date night with Scott and went to Target for more scrapbooking supplies. Took the boys to McDonald's with Carla so we could catch up and talk knitting. Started reading "The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective" per recommendation of Madcap Mum. Shopped in catalogues and online for games and books for the boys, went to the toy store once. Attempted to organize a Nurse-Out for World Breastfeeding Week, decided at another mom's suggestion to postpone it a few weeks and do it right. Searched online for knitters from my town, joined a local stitch-and-bitch Yahoo group. Took the boys swimming at Scott's mom's house, vacuumed whole house and watered her plants. Stayed up late to write an essay in my journal about Why Capitalism Sucks and Stay-at-Home-Parents Rock while my dad was using the computer, never made time to type it up as a blog entry.

Well, that about sums it up. I have done laundry, dishes, watered my dying perennials, made lunch for the boys and Scott, and even made dinner two nights. Ate out a lot the rest of the week.

Now I'm going to go to bed like Jesus told me to do. I asked Him last night to wake me up at 7:30 this morning, and he let me sleep in till 9:15. Guess He thought I needed the rest.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Amazing New Baby Product!

Another great link. This is so right on.

Time for some lactivism!

Yesterday my neighbor and I took the kids to the local children's museum to let them run off some steam. It's the perfect place to go on a hot day since it's all indoors. My friend Megan and her family gave us a membership for Christmas (thanks, Meg!!), so it's free, air-conditioned fun!

There were just a few other moms and kids there, and one I recognized from the Nurse-Out Carla and I organized two years ago for World Breastfeeding Week. She and another mom were there together after meeting on the Mothering Dot Commune message boards, so we chatted a bit about birth, cloth diapers, extended nursing, etc. And I realized that it's actually World Breastfeeding Week NOW!

Unfortunately, I haven't really become any more connected locally to other lactivists in the last two years besides my own few friends. I've never been to a La Leche League meeting, or a Breastfeeding Promotion Coalition meeting, although I get the latter's monthly agenda via e-mail. I haven't even been helping out on the Comfortline since management went through some changes a year ago. I'd like to get involved again, but of course I have a million other things I want to do, too.

Anyhow, getting some moms together for a Nurse-Out or other event this week seems like a fairly minor commitment while still being politically active. So, I'm going to see about it. In the meantime, here's a favorite link to 101 Reasons to Breastfeed.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Patience I have none.

"Love is patient, love is kind..."

Despite the many parenting books I've read, the best description of how I want to love my children is still in 1 Corinthians 13. It's one of only a handful of Bible verses that I actually remember easily. It came to mind today when I noticed how impatient I was being with my secondborn, and how my firstborn was repeating my impatient tone when speaking to his friend.

I don't remember what I was irritated by, only that I took on that typical bossy, corrective tone parents like use when we feel a child has crossed some boundary, whether known or unknown, reasonable or arbitrary. We like to imagine it comes from a sense of righteous indignation, the kind born of the belief that our child needs to obey us -- even if that child is only two years old and what we want them to do is unclear or unreasonable. It's easy to remember the verse telling children to obey their parents. It's harder to remain aware of when we're provoking their anger.

My son is bright, verbal and very independent at not quite three years old. Despite his desire to be treated as a grown-up, I sometimes forget that I cannot expect him to behave with the same foresight and understanding of even the least mature adult. What two-year-old does not require patience as he swerves between security and self-sufficiency like an out-of-control driver speeding down a crowded highway?

Hearing my impatient tone repeated by my four-year-old the very next second was painful. Before I could say, "Hey, that's not a nice way to talk to your friend!" I realized where his attitude had come from. And that it wasn't the first time.

Nonetheless, my sudden awareness didn't prevent me from repeating myself at bedtime. While I brushed my four-year-old's teeth, my secondborn discovered the diluted-soda-filled pufferfish sippy cups which were left in a bag beside the bed. When I saw the liquid puddled on the floor beside the bed, the "righteous indignation" arose again. "Why are you messing with those? I asked you to get in bed! If you'd done what I said, I wouldn't have to clean up this mess."

But as I headed to the kitchen with the dripping fish cups, I realized how unfair my anger had been. Where was the love in my attitude? Is that how God talks to me when I don't do what he says the first time, and proceed to make a mess of my life? Of course not! Because He IS patient and kind. He is not rude, or self-seeking. He is not easily angered and keeps no record of my wrongs. I am forgiven everything. And yet, my children suffer my wrath.

Lord, thank you for your unending patience. Please help me love my children as You love me.
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