Sunday, February 26, 2006

What age do YOU act?

You Are 12 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

25 weeks gestation

25 weeks gestation
Originally uploaded by The G-Ps.
I realized I haven't posted a preggo picture in a while... er, ever? This is from about two weeks ago. I'm still playing with Flickr, can you tell?


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Why I Have No Time to Blog

But am doing it anyway...

I'm in Project Mode and the house is in Chaos Mode. UberDad spent all day yesterday helping my parents move my grandmother's stuff out of her apartment, and unloaded it all today -- some in storage, some at my parents' house, a couple things to our house, namely, bookshelves and an end table. So, I've been emptying boxes, filling shelves, and ignoring the mess that's been accumulating in the rest of the house over the weekend. (While UberDad was hauling furniture, I was on my knees weeding the lawn by hand. Not to get competitive or anything.)

I've also been playing with Flickr, and cooking a Vegan Sausage Breakfast Casserole for tonight's Vegand.o.m. Lenten Pankcake Supper -- which reminds me, that needs to go in the oven!

Finally -- room for all my books! Now, if only I could decide whether I should paint them first or not.

Now that we've got bookshelves, the boxes that have cluttered up the boys' room for six months can finally be unpacked.

Maternity clothes to sort! Too many sizes, not enough drawers. Fortunately, my mom's giving me my aunt's dresser soon.

Just when I think I've gotten the playroom organized, the kids have to go and play in it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Oh, yeah, and I'm six months pregnant and tired.

I've been feeling overwhelmed and grouchy the last couple days, which might explain why I haven't written any real posts. My mom says UTIs can mess with your brain. Then there's the whole pregnancy hormone thing. Apparently I just got a surge. Why else did I go from perfectly content to completely stressed out in a matter of hours on Monday?

This morning I was thinking about everything that's been going on around me for close friends and family this month. UberDad is doing post-graduate work on top of working, and is studying for exams that will determine if he gets his contract renewed next year. My sister's struggling between following her dream to dance professionally and wanting to be with the love of her life. Another friend just ended a 2-1/2 year relationship with a man she thought she'd marry, started a new job, and had to switch day care. My friend Sarah has been dealing with the progression of her MS, and is getting an MRI this morning. Another friend's sister had a relapse of her rare disease, and has to move back home to be cared for. My neighbors are trying to deal with an aging father/-in-law who calls long distance to complain about the facility he's in every day.

And then there's my grandmother, who went on an eating strike over the weekend, and when my mom showed up with her latte on Monday, told her she was no longer her daughter. My grandmother's been harrassing the director, who told my mom the facility will do everything they can to keep her there, but her problem is not just Alzheimer's, if it is at all considering the breadth of her memory (she remembered the phone number of her bank and called it), however convoluted. She most likely has developed paranoid-schizophrenia, but everyone hesitates to give that diagnosis because there's nothing you can do about it. She won't take medication, and assisted living facilities really are not designed to deal with that issue. If she tries to get out, they'll have to call the police.

Obviously, there's a lot to be praying for. But, instead of remembering all this, I get overwhelmed by a messy playroom, maternity clothes taking over every surface and corner of my bedroom, living room walls that have been missing their pictures for seven months, trees that need trimming and empty flower beds begging to be planted -- not to mention prenatal care bills that need to be paid and have no budget for them.

Yesterday I worked on the clothes issue, so that helped. Some guy came by Monday wanting to trim our tree in the front for cheap, and UberDad hired him. Now I just hope he comes back to carry away all the branches covering our yard and blocking our porch. The mail carrier's not going to put up with that for long.

For now, though, my children are happily occupied by the Purple Flowers kids, whom I'm watching while their mother gets her MRI. I made vegan applesauce muffins yesterday, so at least we'll be well-nourished! And Friday we get to leave town to go visit my friend Kate and family to celebrate her kids' first and fourth birthdays. I think we're ready for a little escape.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Something to think about

My friend Heather reminds us of this important truth in her latest post:

"But sin is being out of line with God himself, not with any one interpretation or opinion of what God wants. We must admit that we cannot discern the will of God for all people, in all circumstances, for all time."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

My kids won't be taking tests anyway -- but...

Thank you, Slate, for relieving my Parenting magazine-induced guilt with this article about the flaws in research that claims television turns kids' brains to mush -- and the actual evidence that shows the opposite.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Looking for Jesus in all the right places -- and not finding Him.

This article really speaks to how I've been feeling about our parish lately. I've got a post about the emergent church in the works, but this is a pretty good start.

"Several years ago God dropped me into the middle of the Bible belt, where there are more churches than coffee shops, or pizza joints, or the both of them together and then some. Sunday morning service is part of the culture. To most God has become tradition, there is no personal relationship, and therefore no spiritual growth or reproduction.

Somewhere along the way God was made predictable, and therefore safe. He is not relevant to daily life other than in a superficial way. There are some incredible churches and some amazing people and this is not solely a "Bible belt" problem; it's simply amplified there.

There is a bumper sticker that illustrates this best. I know it was created with good intentions, but it frustrated me every time I saw it. It says "Take your kids to Sunday school this Sunday, they need and deserve it". They don't need Sunday school…they need Jesus. They may learn about Him in Sunday school, but the premise is wrong. If you want to lose a generation, raise them to know the names of God, but never experience the interpretation. Loving, Intimate, Majestic, Holy, Consuming Fire…"

Mommy has an owie in her pee-pee hole.

Remind me never to be seduced into doing something I "should" again just for a Starbucks latte.

After a lovely visit with my friend Kelley yesterday morning, my mom came by to see if the boys and I wanted to go with her to visit my grandmother. She said we'd get coffee to take with us, since my grandmother says the coffee where she lives is terrible. Having no self-control when it comes to free lattes, I took the bait -- despite the fact that it was almost my naptime, and I should know better than to skip my naptime.

The visit lasted longer than I expected it to, and was going just fine, except that my maternity jeans were digging into my belly and my back was starting to ache. I ordered new jeans last week, and they finally came on Tuesday -- but they won't stay up, so I have to send them back. The drive home took way too long. I was exhausted, my pants hurt, and Baby Fish kept kicking me in the bladder. By the time we got home, I'd tensed up so much my back was out, and I could feel a urinary tract infection coming on.

I put on pajama pants, did some yoga stretching, tried to get comfortable on the couch, and drank two gallons of water, cranberry juice and herbal tea over the next few hours. After rubbing my back for 30 minutes, UberDad had to make dinner while I stayed in the one position that didn't hurt too badly. By bedtime I felt better, but the house was a disaster. I hadn't done any housekeeping all day.

Unfortunately, the two gallons of liquids went completely through me by 4 a.m., and I woke up feeling like someone was sticking a needle up my urethra -- then pulling it out and doing it again. I scrambled out of bed, downed two Tylenol and a full glass of water, and spent the next 30 minutes on the toilet doing Lamaze breathing and moaning. I would have rather been in labor.

So, this morning it was off to the lab to pee in a cup, and then wait for the results so I could pick up my prescription on the way to the grocery store. I can't remember the last time I took antibiotics, but UTIs are not something to mess around with when you're pregnant. We were out of all the basics, so I couldn't put off grocery shopping despite the fact that I was cranky and tired. The boys put up with me pretty well, and we made it home just before the rain started falling and in time for me to take a nap. I don't know what they did while I was asleep, but they were quiet and left me alone. Poor neglected children.

Tomorrow I plan to wear my comfy unfashionable overalls while I pull weeds out of the damp ground and try to resist dairy and sugar so these darn antibiotics don't bring back the yeast I'd finally gotten rid of.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

There were five in a bed and the pregnant one said...

My computer's been crashing on me everyday this week, but I still haven't called anyone to fix it. It's annoying, but I think... hmm, I have friends I haven't called in months, do I really want to spend phone time on hold with the cable company?

Because I am a phone phobic, I call neither friend nor geek squad. And take my chances on whether anything I write will actually get posted.

By the way, Happy Valentine's Day! The boys are making valentines in their own special way -- Puffer's are made out of Kid K'nex. And I helped Grouper put together scraps from our Sunday School valentine craft to make a heart-shaped notebook to draw in.

I swapped Sundays with the other pre-k teacher so I'd have a fun theme to work with. I hate the 3-4yo curriculum. It's overly complicated and boring at the same time. And I don't know how making them cut, paste and color whether they want to or not, and then sit at the table twiddling their thumbs until everyone's finished teaches them anything about Jesus.

I discovered on Sunday that none of the kids know the song "Jesus Loves Me"!! How can that NOT be part of a pre-K Sunday School curriculum?? How can their parents not have sung it to them? Anyhow, we made lollypop flower valentines, decorated strawberry-flavored cupcakes, and sang "Jesus Loves Me" and "I Love Jesus," and then we went outside to play, which they never get to do with the other teacher. The weather's been so beautiful, how could I keep them inside any longer?

I got some weeding done this weekend, too, and if I get a little more done, I'm going to go get some more lavender plants. The only things I planted last spring that survived the July heat were the asparagus ferns and lavender plants. I sat on the lawn pulling weeds by hand for an hour on Saturday. Didn't reseed for the winter, so the bermuda's filled with them. I'd like to have an actual lawn back there again this summer, so I can get outside with the baby and have something green to look at.

I have to go make myself do some housework this morning, then we're going to the bakery after lunch for Valentine sugar cookies. I thought it might be better to go buy one each than to bake a couple dozen at home, since I'd be likely to eat most of them myself. NO, I am not being lazy. I just want to have sex again before there's yet another person competing for access to my body and bed -- and eating a dozen sugar cookies would put me out of commission for a week. The second trimester is VERY precious time.

Maybe it's the sudden weight gain and growth of my burgeoning belly -- or maybe our mattress has always had a dip in the middle. Whatever the reason, I keep ending up sandwiched between UberDad, Grouper and Emma the cat -- while Baby Fish kicks me in the bladder all night. I wake up from nightmares all sweaty and having to de-wedge myself out of the first three in order to get up and pee.

My neighbor's coming over to scrapbook during her kids' naptime. Yay!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Since her comments are off...

I just wanted to thank Jessica for putting it all in perspective. I'm really okay with not getting 72 comments per post, if it means only nice people who like me are reading this.

Living and learning -- another long post

I've had at least a dozen things I've thought to blog about this week, but apparently no time to actually do it. Been busy knitting, reading, watching movies, and visiting with friends. Not a bad trade.

We visited my grandmother in her new home at the assisted living/memory care facility on Monday. Her dementia/Alzheimer's has definitely progressed, but it was a pretty positive visit all things considered. She did say a couple of disturbing things, namely that she wanted her voice back, and why did we take it from her? And, was Puffer going to shoot her? But the moments passed, and she seemed to enjoy seeing the boys. We didn't stay for long because she didn't want to leave her room until she had the right toiletries for fixing her hair and makeup. But the director of the facility said she's made a few friends and does leave her room to eat and visit with them. My mom went back later after a trip to the drug store, and visited with her for about two hours, which is more than she's been able to do since October.

I finally finished the second baby hat I promised to a friend whose twins were born in November. I'm now working on another baby present for a friend due in March, and I want to start on my felted knitting/diaper bag soon. It's this pattern, but with pale green, teal, dark pink, beige, and taupe.

UberDad and I watched and enjoyed "Dangerous Beauty" one night. Good sexy, romantic drama with plenty of poetry and humor, and nothing too disturbing considering the subject is a 16th century courtesan who's eventually put on trial for witchcraft. The boys have been into Star Wars this week, which we've been borrowing one episode at a time from our neighbors. They really enjoyed the first and second episodes. Skipped the third, and tried to watch the fourth tonight, but they were distracted, and then the DVD got stuck for some reason.

We had a few friends over today to make valentines, and of course most of the time was spent playing outside on the trampoline and in the dirt. I went all the way out there for the first time all winter yesterday and discovered how much weeding needs to be done. My friend Mark, who's adopted the space as his own for the last two or three years, has been working on it, but I haven't been much help since last spring. It was so blasted hot last summer I couldn't stand it for more than 10 minutes at a time. And then I was inside on the couch with morning sickness all fall. The weather has been beautiful this week, so now I've added gardening back to my list of want-to-dos this spring.

Instead of blogging or napping this week, I've been reading a lot. Mostly from "Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling," which has so many encouraging anecdotes and thoughtful insights. I've needed a little inspiration on the homeschooling/unschooling front lately, just to get my thinking in the right place again. The boys have been demonstrating their ability to learn with minimal help from me quite beautifully.

Puffer's been picking up the sounds of letters and giving me his own examples of words that begin with them, inspired by Trader Joe's alphabet cookies. He'd hold up a letter and come up with an original word for it, accurately. Also gave a couple examples of words that ended with a certain letter, asking if he was right, and he was. We've never sat down specifically to talk about the sounds letters make, it just comes up when there's context for it or it's on his mind. Been seeing similar things with numbers, in terms of measurement, addition and multiplication.

It's just fascinating to be able to get these little glimpses of him figuring things out -- because I know so much more is going on inside his head that I DON'T get to see. And even though I trust the idea of natural learning, it's always reassuring when evidence of the kind of "academic" learning that's expected of a child starts happening without any direct teaching effort. I don't try to direct my children toward these subjects -- but they can't help but be interested in them, because they are a part of REAL LIFE. Math is all around us, written language is all around us; children in our society cannot avoid either, unless they are locked in a closet with no one to talk to and nothing to look at.

John Holt was at first surprised at the apparent lack of intelligence among his affluent private school fifth-graders in the 1950s. "I came to feel...that it was fear, boredom, and the confusion of having constantly to manipulate meaningless words and symbols. I now see that it was that, but far more than that, the fact that others had taken control of their minds (his emphasis). It was being taught, in the sense of being trained like circus animals to do tricks on demand, that had made them stupid (at least in school)."

He goes on to share this thought-provoking insight:

"The most important question any thinking creature can ask itself is, 'What is worth thinking about?' When we deny its right to decide that for itself, when we try to control what it must attend to and think about, we make it less observant, resourceful, and adaptive, in a word, less intelligent, in a blunter word, more stupid... not the measure of how much we know how to do, but of how we behave when we don't know what to do. It has to do with our ability to think up important questions and then to find ways to get useful answers. This ability is not a trick we can be taught, nor does it need to be. We are born with it, and if our other deep animal needs are fairly well satisfied, and we have reasonable access to the world around us, we will put it to work on that world."

And now, lest you find me too serious, go stick your blog URL in this site.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Grouper's growing up -- sort of

(Subtitle: See what happens when I get positive feedback from my lovely friends? I write for HOURS!)

I think it's probably official now. Grouper is no longer nursing. I would like to say that he completely self-weaned, but that wouldn't be completely honest. My screaming "OW! OW! OW! What are you DOING to me?!" every time he latched on during the fourth month of this pregnancy probably had some effect on his desire to be near my breasts.

We were already down to four times a day -- before and after each sleep. Soon bedtime was out, because that was when I was grouchiest and least able to tolerate being touched. He tried to adjust his suckle so as not to hurt me, but that just made it tickle, which was even more irritating. Early morning, when I was still half-asleep and well-rested, became the only safe time for him to curl up next to me and quietly ask to nurse. Even then, we were down to two seconds at a time with me gritting my teeth.

We had what will probably be our last positive nursing experience together one morning last week. He hadn't nursed in a few days, and he took a chance. I stayed relaxed for a whole five minutes. He hasn't asked since then. I think he decided to savor the memory.

I always admired -- even romanticized -- moms who managed to nurse straight through their pregnancies, and then tandem-nurse their toddler and newborn, keeping sibling jealousy to a minimum. I think it would have made Grouper's first year a lot easier on Puffer. But by month four of both pregnancies my pain tolerance and my milk supply dipped low enough to significantly reduce the attractiveness of my breasts to my babies. Puffer was 13 months old when I last offered to nurse him. He just looked up at me and laughed. Apparently the increase in cup-size is only a turn-on to their father.

I'm pretty sure that Grouper's loss of interest in his afternoon nap was at least partially influenced by the loss of nursing incentive. Lots of children outgrow naps at age 3, and he'd already pushed it back an hour in the last six months. But he still needs more sleep than his brother, and would probably be getting that sleep in the afternoon if I were still nursing him.

Tonight he fell asleep on my shoulder at 6:30. He'd gotten one of his beautiful long lashes stuck in his eye and it wouldn't stop hurting even after I got it out. He usually has a very high pain tolerance, but this really upset him, so it was clear he was tired. But he didn't sleep through. He woke at 8, in time for a snack, teeth brushing and jammies, and then went back down at 9 or so.

The last two weeks have definitely been challenging. I still need MY nap or I get awfully cranky by 3 p.m. And Puffer was used to having Mommy and the rest of the house to himself every afternoon. It's been an adjustment to have to work his cranky little brother into his activities. Another part of Grouper's interest in staying up is that he wants to participate in the big boy stuff. He wants to play computer games, and play with our 7-year-old neighbor, and he wants mine and his brother's ATTENTION. And if he's not getting it, someone's going to get hurt.

I've been trying to squeeze in some yoga, even just 15 minutes, to keep myself breathing instead of reacting. But I shouldn't have eaten half a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels on Friday. My blood sugar was all over the place until Monday.

We did a little better today. I'm re-reading Thomas Gordon's Parent Effectiveness Training to remind myself of the kind of parent I want to be. I highly recommend it. And I just ordered You Can Have a Family Where Everybody Wins: Christian Perspectives on Parent Effectiveness Training
by Earle H. Gaulke, which was recommended by someone on the Christian unschooling list I haunt.

I think I've been giving (and following) too many orders instead of helping the boys solve their own problems. At the same time, I overreact when they make simple, childish mistakes just because it causes more work for me. This became apparent when I found myself sobbing in the laundry room for the first time in a month after Grouper annoyed his brother by touching him with his foot, and Puffer wiped peanut butter off his fingers onto the carpet while engrossed in a TV show.

"WHY? WHY can't you get along? WHY? WHY do you do things that make more work for Mommy? You should KNOW better!" I cried. As though somehow now that they're three and four-and-half they should always be well-behaved and never forget to use a napkin.

*Sigh* And now that I'm nearly a full year into my fourth decade, I should know that nobody's perfect. Not me. Not my children.

Who's actually reading this?

Thank you so much for the prayers for my grandmother. My mother won conservatorship, and my grandmother's insurance paid for a transport to her new assisted living home. So far, so good. She's getting settled in, and hopefully we can go see her sometime next week. My mother's spending the next two days packing up her old apartment, and then my dad will go down and pick up the furniture and boxes. My mom already brought home all the photo albums, my aunt's paintings, and a bookshelf for me.

It's strange to think that we'll never go visit my grandmother at home again. I haven't been there since early October. She had a lovely little apartment in a very nice complex, and the boys always played with the neighboring children. I have a lot of nice memories of having tea and cake on her patio, helping her wash the dishes after dinner, and looking through the family albums over and over again together. I want to remember those times, and the fun times my sisters and I spent visiting as children, rather than the stressful moments of conflict and confusion during the last year or more. That's what my grandmother would want, of course, if she were thinking like her old self. Beautiful thoughts only, please.

I realize I haven't yet grieved the loss of her impeccable memory and highly focused mind. My mother has done most of the grieving for all of us. I know she's wanted to protect me during this pregnancy from the stress of the situation. The last time I spoke to my grandmother on the phone I totally lost it. That was over a month ago. I have to admit I'm a little nervous about going to see her. I've avoided being emotional about the situation thanks to distance, but that won't be so easy when we start visiting. But I know it's important for me and for her. At least, I hope she will benefit from our visits and not be more agitated.

Anyhow, I was going to post about my recent doubts about the purpose of this blog. My cousin shut hers down last week, mainly because she felt like she was losing contact with long distance friends who would read her blog but not write to her. I thought that made sense. Sometimes I wonder why I blog at all. I could be journaling privately, which would require less self-censorship. I could be scrapbooking more, which would be nice for the boys when they grow up. I could be putting effort into writing for publication and actually get PAID for the time I spend on the computer. I could be staying in touch with friends more personally via private messages and phone calls. It often seems like the friends who read this are people I see or talk to regularly anyway. Everyone else just lurks, so I have no idea if this is really serving a purpose or not.

On that note, if you're lurking, and think I should keep blogging, maybe you could come out of hiding just briefly, now that I have my comments turned back on. How often do you read? Do you want general updates or detailed notes on my daily life? More stories about the boys or more pictures of my pregnant belly? Random thoughts on politics or raving rants about parenting? Just wondering...

In the meantime, this is one of my favorite Hathor comics.
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