Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Fill-ins

I took a week off in order to enjoy having DH home. And I got really sick- fever of 102.5. No one else has gotten it, so maybe breastmilk really is magic. While that put a damper on our vacation time, it's better than being sick home alone with the kids. At least I had help.

1. I feel tired and a little congested.

2. Dance and song.

3. It's almost a New Year!.

4. This year was exciting and how.

5. On New Year's Eve _we're turning down a party invite in order to not infect our friends. I'll be knitting.

6. I've been spending time with meditation practice.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to sparkling cider, tomorrow my plans include doing nothing and Sunday, I want to do more nothing!



I'll be back to my regularly scheduled blogging next week. Just wanted a little break.

Happy 2011!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Christmas

I never heard the song, "Last Christmas" when I was a kid; I was too busy sobbing over the tragic idea of grandma getting run over by reindeer. So I first heard it a few years ago. I'm sure you all know the refrain.

Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special
At first I was all, "Rock on! Don't let yourself get walked all over this year!"

Then the next year I heard:
Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special
And I was all um ok. Try again, friend.

And then the next year:
Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special
And the next:
Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special
And am I only one noticing a pattern? Who's really the one with commitment issues? Who's changing partners every year?

It's just suspicious, that's all.

Hope you all have a worry-free, light-hearted Christmas!

ETA: In the comments, Katie mentioned the music video. Here it is in its full-feathered hair 80s glory.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Lack Thereof

I haven't caught up on my emails from the weekend yet; McKay's grandfather died last Sunday (what did I say about my birthday and family emergencies?) and the funeral was yesterday.

I spent a good portion of the funeral trying to keep Margaret from being so loud you couldn't hear the songs or speakers and 95% of the graveside service keeping her from dancing on others' graves. Literally. The guy who ran the mortuary said it was fine, but I was afraid someone in McKay's family would look over, see Margaret dancing, and decide my parenting skills suck if I can't at least teach my daughter a little respect for the dead.

But I did find some time to think. I remember looking over at the little tent above the grave that everyone crowded into (except those of us with 2 year olds). And then I imagined similar tents and gatherings around each of the graves in that cemetery. And I can't help but think we Americans might do well if we reconsider our grieving rituals. Or at least take a good look at them. Or something. Because in my 25 years of being American, I've only learned one things: death is really awkward and almost no one has the tools to deal with it.

My grandfather died when I was in junior high. It was rough on me. I spent days after the funeral playing the piano for hours. Until my dad poked his head into the piano rooms and said, "Stop it." And I did. And what I learned was grief is awkward and no one wants to be around someone who can't figure out how to grieve properly.

I guess I can't fault him for it much. I don't think American culture gives us much to go on with grief. We need more ritual. Or we need to talk about it more.

At one point, McKay came to sit down next to me and he mentioned that it was a strange experience to see his grandfather in his casket. I think that hit him hard. I know it hit me hard when I saw my own grandfather like that. I was young and it was my first experience with death close to me. My young self needed some ritual that was a little more meaningful than just look at my grandfather. I had to do something. So I did. And in the process, I accidentally touched my dead grandfather (that link is 5 years old! eek.) That was... an experience.

When deciding whether or not to marry McKay, his lack of experience with grief was something that concerned me. He had never lost someone close to him. I had, and it was intense and confusing and even left unfinished. I didn't think I could marry someone who hadn't had that experience. I thought I would need empathy.

So I was there yesterday. And trying to empathize. I was also trying to figure out my role. Was McKay going to cry? Or be "tough?" Was I supposed to hold his hand and be there for him? Or chase my children around so that the rest of the funeral party could hear something? And when he comes back from seeing his grandfather in a casket, do I calmly empathize that I've been there before? Or do I open my mouth with something profoundly awkward because death is weird and it's easier to pretend it just doesn't exist? Ooh that one! Pick that one!

"Did you touch him? And was it weird?"

...

Yeah. Go me. I was supposed to be the empathetic spouse here, the one with experience with dead grandfathers, and the only dead grandfather experience I could come up with was "Did you touch him?"

Death makes you say all the wrong things. And we need better tools do deal with death. Anyone have a favorite death ritual? How do you deal? Do you empathize better than I do? Probably. And any suggestions for how to teach ourselves to handle death better?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Fill-ins

1. What in the world  is this red fuzz doing in Isaac's diaper? Ok. Fine. It's from some fuzzy yarn. My fault..

2. Our CSA keeps us well fed.

3. Go shout it from the rooftops.

4. Words make sentences.

5. I keep forgetting to get our Christmas cards out in the mail.

6. Ready or not.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to the Christmas party at McKay's work, tomorrow my plans include a ward Christmas party and Sunday, I want to cancel all our appointments to take a trip to Sacramento.


I am so ready for Christmas break. Sleeping in, pajamas all day, sleeping in. Heck yes!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Battle Scars

These pictures don't do it justice, but my knee looks like someone took a large blunt object to it.

On Tuesday I fell while trying to unlock the gate to our apartment complex. I fell backwards, but somehow landed on my left knee and my right wrist- which also got some bleeding in.

I fell backwards while carrying the laundry on my back. And while wearing Isaac. And carrying Margaret. And trying to unlock the gate and then subsequently use my weight to pull the door open by the key. And then I lost my balance, fell backwards, and fell onto my knee and wrist.

The kids cried because they were scared by it, but I looked them over and the only blood spilt was my own and I took enough bruises for all of us.

I think the lesson is not to do my laundry anymore. It might have had something to do with the extra 70 pounds I was carrying as well.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Adieu, Hulu.

Remember my letter to hulu.com? For a while I was content with giving a thumbs down every time I a saw a Nestle commercial on there, so I kept watching. Lately, though, Nestle has gotten sneaky.

I could no longer thumbs them down. All the other commercials would have the option to say if you like them or not, but not Nestle. It got really bad the other day: Hot Pockets, Stouffers, Lean Cuisine, all in a row. And I couldn't thumb any of them down. Oh, and an Enfamil commercial showed up in the middle of it all (which I did thumb down). And that was all in one sitting.

So I looked up the hulu.com/Nestle connection, and apparently, Nestle has their own freaking hulu page (I went ahead and gave them 1 star).

So now I'm at a loss. I really enjoy watching our shows on the weekend after they show up in our hulu queue. But now, my awesome "I live in America so I get to watch TV on the Internet" benefits are sell outs.

So I'm just going to have to wait until 30 Rock shows up on Netflix next year. And we'll just have to order the DVD of The Office later.

Sorry, hulu. I'm not watching you any more. Stop killing babies and maybe I'll reconsider our relationship. Maybe.

Off to write a couple more letters...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Inquisition Monday: Thumb Sucking

Today's Inquisition Monday is directed to all of you.

Isaac sucks his thumb. When I've mentioned this to people I've gotten a couple of reactions, the first being "My child did/does that too." The other has been, "That must be great!"

In my head I think, "Great? Great? What's so great about not being needed?"

He's not even 5 months! He's supposed to still need me! If babies were supposed to self-sooth, I wouldn't have arms.

Margaret didn't suck her thumb. In fact, by 4 months, she had rejected any and all suckling tools besides my breast.

But Isaac. Well, I feel like I'm not there for him as much as I was for Margaret. That's a natural consequence of having to divide my attention between two kids. Sometimes I have to clean up eggs that were dropped on the floor and someone has to wait.

And I feel bad for not being there. And I worry about my supply. I know it's over-abundant, but Margaret's been nursing less and that plus Isaac having to wait and the fact that my period returned at 5.5 months pp with Margaret worries me. I'm really hoping to delay my period longer this time- and that means nurse nurse nurse nurse nurse. And take naps, which I don't do.

But then logical Heather tells me:
But some babies suck their thumbs in utero. It's not something you can prevent sometimes. And in 5 years, it won't even matter. Relax.

But... but... I'm his MOM. And he's so tiny still.

Have you had similar thoughts? I'm not sure what my question is today. I think I just needed to write these thoughts down. I asked about this at LLL a couple of months ago and people were nice about it. I'm human and can't do it all, I know.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

25

I'm 25 today.

I haven't always had the best birthdays. Historically, ward Christmas parties always fell on my birthday. And family emergencies. And finals. And someone always got sick. December is just not a good time for birthdays. I remember getting a sled for my birthday... and the 2 weeks later my siblings got sleds for Christmas. Nothing was solely "mine." McKay has the same issue- his birthday is 2 weeks after Christmas, so we both experience the Christmas/birthday conundrum.

Today should be good though. They're canceling Sunday School and Relief Society today and we're having a 2 hour brunch party instead. Happy Birthday to me!*

And I can officially rent a car now. So I'm an adult now. Officially. Because all that other stuff I have done doesn't count, at least not to actuaries.

I've been around for a quarter of a century. I expect to live another 2 more, at least. The women in my family tend to live to their 90s. So I look at my life and think about living that 2 (and a half?) more times over. I accomplished a lot in my first 25 years, and I know I can accomplish a lot in the next (and next...).

For my birthday, I'm giving myself a birthday present: a new blog. It's a feminist Mormon blog dedicated to remembering our Heavenly Mother. This past week I've been posting on it so you can see some content and get a feel for what I'm trying to do with it.

So check out that blog. It's been fun for me to read and think about the scriptures and hymns in this light and I just wanted to share that.

*Fine. It's a Christmas brunch and not a birthday party, but at least it's not a family emergency, right? And no Sunday School! Can I get a BOO-YA?! Although, Sunday School in this ward is actually interesting and makes me want to do the reading ahead of time. I never thought that was possible.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Extreme Parenting

I've been thinking about Annie's post about parenting extremes and what is "good" parenting. Over the years I've gotten comments on my blog and in real life that indicate that I'm lacking in some aspect of good parenting- usually boundaries. And then I'll comment, "Well... I do have boundaries and... blah... blah...." because I feel like I have to defend myself and prove that I really do sit in the smiley face boundary (see Annie's post) of what a good mom is. Oh and I'll quickly clarify that Annie isn't saying that she thinks the smiley is the best, but that what she has observed is that our culture thinks the smiley is the best.

As I've thought about my impulse to qualify my "lack" of boundaries, I think about how I qualify a lot of things: I have unassisted pregnancies, but when asked about it, I'm quick to reply, "I check my urine for protein, glucose, and other things." When people ask me about Margaret still nursing, I sometimes feel like I have to add, "But it's definitely not as often as she used to," to show that we are actually headed towards weaning. On bedsharing with Margaret: "We've put some blankets at the foot of our bed and let her lay there" to show that we are going to have our bed to ourselves someday. Or even, "Yeah. I stay at home and knit, but I knit by commission and graduated in mathematics and plan on starting my master's when we settle down some place."

You see, you have to look well-rounded. You can't look like the extremes. And even though I hate qualifying my actions, I still do it.

But Margaret does sometimes nurse as often or more often than Isaac. I didn't check my urine in pregnancy on a very regular basis or chart it. Those blankets at the foot of our bed? Once. And it lasted 10 minutes. And I really don't think kids need more boundaries than general safety issues and the physical limitations that are innate to children: height, dexterity, language, etc. And I do stay at home, adding no monetary income to our family, learning nothing in a formal course of study, and enjoying a lot of knitting time that benefits no one but myself.

And even now, I feel the impulse to quantify it and shout, "But I'm well-rounded and normal! I'm not extreme! I'm doing everything 'right'!"

Sigh.

Do you quantify your life? I do. And I feel guilty about it- why can't I just accept it an move on? And why does it matter to the random strangers at the grocery store if Margaret is holding my hand 100% of the time in the parking lot? Comments welcome.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Inquisition Monday: Circle Time

Jenni "Bee" asked me last week about our Circle Time.

After having Isaac, I watched a lot of TV during my babymoon. Incidentally, Margaret watched a lot of TV as well. She also had been having some struggles getting used to having a baby brother around. And as the weather has gotten cooler, we've been going to the park less and less. All of these combined into a strong force against having the healthiest lifestyle for a while. Our days were really off and it was hard to get back on track. We really needed a better rhythm in our day.

This is a Waldorf-inspired blog that I subscribe to. I think she has lots of good gentle ideas. Something that gets mentioned is "Circle Time." I couldn't figure out exactly what it is from her blog and I my google skills have been hurt as of late (sadness!), so I made it up.

Every morning after the diapers and dishes are done, I announce, "Circle Time!" Margaret goes to hunt down our circular blanket and we put it on the floor. Then we alternate songs and books until I my attention span dies (about 20-30 minutes). Today's circle time was 35 minutes long, but I was "done" way before then.

We always start with a Good Morning song. Then I ask Margaret to look out the window and check the weather. We'll sing a song related to the weather- like Rain Rain Go Away, You are My Sunshine, etc. If I can't remember a song, we'll sing "Rain is Falling all Around" but with alternate words (ie. wind is blowing).

After the first songs, we'll read a scripture story. Today I read in the Book of Mormon Stories Reader and in a picture book of the nativity story. After those, I ask Margaret to pick a few songs. Today we sang Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, the Snowman song, and the Cuckoo Clock song. Then I ask Margaret to pick out some books from the shelf and I'll read those to her. By this point, the structure of Circle Time is pretty much dead and she'll go off and play on her own.

Margaret loves circle time and it keeps her from starting the day with TV- which usually makes her attitude worse later on. She also gets some time and attention from me, so she needs me less later. And when every day is different (errand day, library day, playgroup day), this gives every day a sort-of rhythm, which I think is good for her.

So that's Circle Time.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Update

I'm working on a major project right now, so if I haven't emailed you or given you a high five lately, that's what's going on. In fact, yesterday I was so absorbed in this project that I wasn't attentive to broken community washer that our clothes didn't get full spin dry. I have to watch the washer to make sure the spin happens- and I was just not thinking at all. So now all our clothes are hanging in our apartment because 2 runs in the dryer wasn't good enough.

I turn 25 in a week.

We put up our Christmas tree yesterday. And made homemade biscotti.

Last night I dreamed about attending UC Berkeley for my grad work. Happy dreams.

McKay got the job and it looks like we'll be staying in the Bay Area. It also looks like I'll finally get to go to the dentist for the first time since we've been married. And maybe McKay will take a vacation day or two so we can get the car looked at. We haven't done that yet because if the car ends up staying in the shop overnight, McKay would have no way to get back and forth to work. Oh and we're going to buy a cell phone that actually has a working speaker and doesn't need to be put on speaker phone in order to work. Maybe we'll upgrade to an apartment with a washer and dryer that's not communal and broken. And a yard. Oooh!

I'll try not to let the fanciness get to my head.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Sometimes on my knitting blog, I do a WIP Wednesday. WIP is "Work in Progress." Usually, I only post FOs (finished objects), but on WIP Wednesday, I'll show the things that are on my needles, but aren't quite done yet.

I've been thinking also how I am a work in progress. This blog is a work in progress. My children are works in progress- works that I try to have some influence on, but concede that in the end, my influence is ultimately limited and dependent on if they still like me in 20, 30, 50 years. My marriage is a work in progress, my testimony is a work in progress. The books I haven't finished reading and the essays that are waiting to be written: works in progress.

Sometimes I feel uneasy about blogging my progress because I am a constantly changing person and writing about it here sets me up for your judgments and comments.

One thing I find very beautiful about Mormon theology is that we believe that even after we die and receive exaltation, we will continue to progress and grow forever. Heavenly Mother and Father are works in progress. When all is said and done, the end goal is to be a work in progress. (psst... it's almost like there is no end goal, hmm. will need to think on that one...)

So really, I've achieved that goal, and isn't that wonderful? Yes, I make mistakes and I'm not the expert on a single thing, unless you count putting your foot in your mouth something you can perfect- because I'm pretty much guaranteed exaltation if we're going to use that as a celestial goal. Twinkle me now!

Anyway, what I want to say to the Internets and myself is this: You're a work in progress. And sometimes progress goes backwards or stagnates. That's cool, too. You've been doing this for a long time and you'll be doing it for a lot longer. Be easy on yourself. You won't ever be a finished object, even after this life and the next. And isn't that wonderful?