Listening to Myself

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Still inhabiting planet Earth

I've had all these posts swirling around in my head, and absolutely no time to put anything together. Well, I probably could have a bit over the weekend, but I was up in Tahoe and I decided that I needed to spend some time not staring at my computer! My hubby is off on a 5 night backpacking trip in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, up above Bishop. We drove to Tahoe on Friday, stayed at my parent's cabin until Monday morning, then drove down the eastern side of the mountains to Bishop. Ah, it was beautiful! So incredibly different than the western slope that I've grown up visiting. We stayed overnight in Bishop, then Matt and my step-dad were off on their hike on Tuesday morning. They should be out on Sunday, provided everything goes well and they don't have vast amounts of snow (although the report at the ranger station didn't make it sound too bad). I rather liked the town of Bishop, and the mountains are just incredible up there - I love the mix of trees and all the different wildflowers. Too bad Bishop is so hot - I might be tempted to move there. :-) At least the temp drops rapidly once you head up into the mountains. My mom and I drove back with Emma yesterday, and got home rather late. Today I've been running around doing laundry and errands, because tomorrow at 7:40 am I'll be on a flight with my brother and my daughter heading up to Portland for a little vacation of our own. My mom was supposed to be on the flight with us, but my grandmother is having more health issues so she's staying with her until my aunt can come up tomorrow afternoon. My mom will fly up tomorrow night instead. My poor grandmother - she's at the point where she's getting a blood transfusion *every week* and good ol' Kaiser isn't sure why she's getting so incredibly anemic so fast. It doesn't seem like a good thing though... My mom has really had her hands full the last 6 weeks or so trying to get her taken care of, but it has been very difficult for her. And my grandmother is so out of it sometimes that she doesn't even remember if my mom visits her at the hospital or not! Very discouraging for my mom, to say the least. Getting old is really not a pretty sight when you've never really taken care of yourself and you really don't have much drive to keep on going.

At this point, I guess I'm just rambling. Just thought I would stop in briefly and say "hi". I might blog from Portland as I have to bring my computer for my brother to use... and we have free internet access in our hotel room. :-) It depends on how tired I am each night!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Playgroup dropout

Ever since I thought of the title for this post, I've had that song "Beauty School Dropout" from Grease stuck in my head. Get it out, get it out!

Anyways... yes, I did it, I dropped out of the playgroup I was in. I realized that belonging to something that I dreaded going to is probably not exactly the greatest idea. I also didn't feel like I was getting much out of it (other than fodder for my blog I suppose, and there's a lot more I've thought about posting, but have resisted for charity's sake), and I don't think Emma was getting much out of it either. She's far more into imaginary play than the other children (I'm sure part of it is that she's 6 months older) and none of them are really interested in playing like that.

So, I'm going to give some more thought to trying to get my AP-ish playgroup really going, and I'm also going to look a bit more into the local homeschooling playgroup(s). There's got to be something out there! Of course, by the time I find it we'll probably be ready to move. :-)

Speaking of which, this afternoon rainshower has really made me think that I want to move somewhere where it rains during the summer! Ah, I love the smell of everything as it rains... the scent of the plants and the earth are so much more intense. I went out and planted a bunch of flowers I had started from seed while it was dripping, and it was just lovely. The air still smells all clean and fresh and recharged. I love it!

It's raining!

This is so weird. We've dropped 10 degrees in the course of the afternoon and the skies have been darkening considerably. We're now just below 70 degrees at 4 o'clock on a July afternoon, after seeing a high of about 80 around noon. I've been futzing around the house, thinking "goodness, if I didn't live in the Bay Area, I would think we're in for a thunderstorm soon!" It certainly isn't anywhere near a thunderstorm, but there is water falling from the sky. Emma is out in the backyard in her rainboots and I think I will go and join her.

I'm so glad that our heat wave broke a couple days ago... and this is just icing on the cake!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A quote from Eisenhower

I often think today or what a difference it would make if children believed that they were contributing to a family's survival and happiness. In the transformation from a rural to an urban society, children are robbed of the opportunity to do genuinely responsible work. - Dwight D. Eisenhower, as quoted in How to Find your Ideal Country Home, by Gene GeRue.

I read this quote then stopped and read it again. I wonder if we've replaced this responsible work that Eisenhower speaks of with the busywork and deadlines of homework and schoolwork? Are we generally pushing our children aside from the chores they could help us with for the sake of speed and convenience, and is this a detriment to them? Not that we should be putting our children to work in the fields all day as soon as they can hold a tool (or in factories as soon as they are big enough to be useful, which I suppose is the urban equivalent) but that perhaps there should be a balance between children doing useful work around the house and garden, coupled with their academic learning. It seems to me that too often children are set aside from that work, so that the parents can do it faster and with less "trouble", but by doing so they are taking away the child's chance to be useful and helpful. I've really tried to get away from this mentality with Emma, and I think I do a decent job of it for the most part. She loves to help me in the kitchen, with my cleaning, and when I am out in the garden. Sometimes it takes a big deep breath before I can let her help, but it generally is quite rewarding for both of us - even if it takes twice as long. I think that for Emma, the phrase "thank you for being so helpful!" is the highest form of praise and the collorary phrase that she isn't being helpful is the one that inspires the deepest regret and apologies. This really wasn't entirely intentional, rather it just developed out of how we are hoping to inspire her to act. I've only thought about it more as she's gotten older and this behavior has gotten more distinct, and it makes me very proud of her.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Homeschooling post from another site

I thought this was an interesting post, by a woman who was homeschooled, and soon will be homeschooling her children.

Homeschooling: What worked and what didn't

I really find these second generation homeschoolers interesting, and I'm very curious to see how they end up influencing the overall homeschooling community, as well as all the various sub-groups.

I also really like the name and tagline of this blog: The Duchy of Burgundy Carrots, Wherein we comment on the world's follies, which we will fix when we take it over.

I do wish the blog had an RSS feed though...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Pregnancy update

The Hazards of Pregnancy: Bread and Jam for Frances is not an easy book to read when one is perpetually queasy from pregnancy! It is better than Archie the Donut though, which we thankfully returned to the library yesterday.

But that aside, this pregnancy is going very well so far. I had my 18 week appointment with my midwife on Monday afternoon, and all seems well. I have "only" gained 10 lbs so far, which she says is fine and I am growing at the appropriate rate. I would like to stop feeling queasy, but I think that is just part of how my body deals with pregnancy... it certainly could be worse! The queasiness does help keep me in check though, as it gets worse if I do not eat regularly and well, tire myself out too much, or stay up too late. So, really, I just need to take good care of myself (which I should be doing anyways, of course!) and I feel pretty much fine.

I am looking forward to actually looking pregnant one of these days though. I still have everyone telling me that they can't even tell, which I think is funny because I feel HUGE! I am just not one of those women who instantly looks pregnant, rather I just look like I'm carrying a few extra pounds (which I am, I suppose, but with good reason!). At least it means that I am not spending from week 20 on trying to keep the baby's feet and elbows out of my rib cage like one woman I know. She at least looks pregnant from about week 14 on, but ends up feeling pretty beat up by the time the baby is born. Pluses and minuses to everything, I suppose! I know, silly and vain to be concerned about this, but part of it is that I just want everyone to know that I'm expecting a new little one. :-)

The baby is also moving a lot now - I am feeling movement every day and sometimes even a couple times a day. Sometimes there are even some pretty decent stretches of movement. Not bad for 18 weeks!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Another thing...

What is it with doing birthday parties for small children? I just don't get it. Why do parents feel the need to do these fancy parties for their small children? Whatever happened to a small family celebration and leaving it at that? I don't see why every birthday needs to involve a whole big thing with party favors, activities, games, etc, etc, etc. One of the questions asked tonight was suggestions for party favors for a one year old's birthday, where the other guests would be 12-18 month olds. Why go through the hassle? It just seems so unnecessary to me, and I have a hard time seeing how it is beneficial to the child.

I recently joined a playgroup through my mom's club, although I am thinking of dropping out of it. In the next month, there are four birthdays, and each one of them is having a party and inviting the playgroup. For two of them people have arranged joint gifts from the playgroup so now we all owe $12 a pop. I'm not sure if we're on our own for the other two, or if that just has yet to be arranged. This is going to get expensive... and while I guess I have the money to spend on this, this is just not how I want to be spending it. Besides, I'm not sure about the precedent this is setting for Emma... At this point I'm not planning on going to most of the parties (one is actually during playgroup tomorrow so that seems low-key enough I guess) but it is enough to make me think about dropping the group. That and the fact that almost all of the other moms are sending their three year olds off to preschool this fall... I just don't think this group is for me.


Someday I hope to find a group of families where my family can feel like we belong. I was at my mom's club meeting tonight, and I realized that while all these women are generally nice women and all, I really don't fit in all that well. I get along just fine with all of the women I've met, I just don't really find myself becoming particularly close to any of them, and it has been a little hard for me to figure out why. But I think I may have figured out something this evening while I was at this question and answer session meeting. The women present were asking questions about all the usual child-rearing stuff: dealing with bottles, sleep habits, potty training, pacifiers, etc. And while I didn't really disagree with any of the answers people gave as they seemed to be reasonably child-friendly and sensible, the whole meeting left me feeling depressed. I realized that the main problem is that their framework is quite different from my framework, so while their recommendations made sense within their framework, and seemed like the best recommendations given the circumstances, they just didn't apply to me. I didn't feel like I could ask them anything and get a useful response, because we are operating under such different paradigms.

Their basic assumptions are that you give birth in a hospital with an OB/GYN, put your child in a crib, use a swing and various other mechanical baby holders, go to the pediatrician every time their child is the least bit sick (and of course you always do exactly what the doctor says), plop the child in front of the TV at a young age (they were only talking about Baby Mozart and such, at least...), introduce a pacifier and a bottle very early on, even if the Mom is staying home with the baby, define breastfeeding for a long time as ten months to a year, and send the child to preschool at three then on to public school. Whereas I visit midwives, am planning a homebirth, co-sleep, don't watch any TV, baby-wear pretty much all the time for infants (and toddlers!), don't go to the doctor unless someone is very ill, am planning to homeschool, don't bother with the pacifier or bottle and breastfeed past toddlerhood. It is just such a fundamentally different way of looking at child-rearing. Now that I've realized this difference in framework, it makes me understand why I left this meeting feeling so empty and depressed.

I've tried to get a group of moms together who do practice a similar style of child-rearing, but it is difficult to do. Part of it stems from the fact that we seem to be rather few and far in between around here, but also it is hard to figure out how to find the people who I do have more in common with. I think I need to try harder though, because I think it would be good for me (and probably for Emma too).

It makes me wonder about moving though - how important is the community for us? Should that be a major criteria? The other side of this is that I also didn't fit in when I lived in Santa Cruz either. Yes there were a lot of people who practiced AP-style parenting, but many of the people there where just way too new age-y and/or hippie for me (and I too straight-laced for them!) So going somewhere that has a reputation (like Santa Cruz) doesn't really seem like an option, but going to just any old town probably isn't exactly a good bet either.

Sometimes I think it would be so much easier if I could just turn the part of my brain that thinks about all this off, stop being the way I am, and just conform and get over with it. Oh, but conforming for the sake of taking the easy path is not the way we are meant to be, I think, and if I were to do that I think I would be placing myself in peril.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

That Crash and other stuff

My mother-in-law received the following information about the crash from her local police department (I have edited it to remove location details):

The event occurring in this subdivision on July 4th was a reported grand theft of cardboard at a nearby Target store. Three subjects were seen fleeing the area in a Toyota van, which was picked up by an officer a couple blocks away. The officer attempted to stop the vehicle, but the suspects fled into the subdivision where the van flipped onto its side. All three suspects were taken into custody.

So I'm still wondering why the CHP was involved, since this did not touch the freeway at all... and how much cardboard do you have to be stealing to qualify for "grand theft"? Ok, well I just found the relevant section of the California Penal Code (California Penal Code section 487, in case you were wondering) and you need to steal over $400 worth of goods (unless you are making off with a variety of fruits, vegetables, or shellfish, in which case the threshold is $100) in order for the theft to be classified as "grand theft". Unless you are buying boxes at your local U-Haul, isn't cardboard pretty cheap? Especially used cardboard, like you might find in the back of a big box store? I find it hard to believe that someone could even fit $400 worth of used cardboard in the back of a minivan, but maybe used cardboard is far more valuable than I realize. This whole episode is so odd, it doesn't seem like any of it makes sense. I guess people do strange and stupid things every day though.

And moving along... we're back home after a relatively painless drive yesterday. Driving across the LA Basin was slow of course, but the rest was fine. I can't believe how bad the air quality was though - as we were driving by downtown LA on Hwy 5, you could barely see the skyscrapers. Amazing. It seems like you should be able to reach out and grab a handful of the air, it looked so dense. Maybe that's why my eyes were starting to feel rather itchy and sore towards the end of each day... Being gone most of the week has really altered my sense of time though, I keep thinking today is Monday. I keep thinking I have the whole week stretching before me, when really I am about to the next weekend already. It really is rather disorienting.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Our Weekend

We drove down to Southern CA on Saturday to visit with Matt's family over the long weekend. It has been both a relaxing and eventful weekend. After the 7.5 hour drive up on Saturday, we got to spend a very nice evening visiting with Matt's cousin and her family, which was very enjoyable. I think I have made a new friend, even if she does live on the other side of the state.

Sunday started off rather eventfully with Emma vomiting at about 6am. She was under the weather with some sort of stomach bug for the rest of the day, but did recover for the most part by the evening, thankfully. The poor little girl was definitely not her usual self. I find it interesting that at three, she identifies that queasy feeling that precedes vomiting as hunger and thirst. I wonder at what point she'll figure that out. Having your child sick is hard on the parents too, especially when there is nothing you can do except try to make her comfortable and wait it out. This was the first time she's been sick since she stopped nursing about 2 months ago and while it wasn't something she was asking for, I missed being able to offer her that particular comfort. Oh well, it had to stop at some point, and before I know it I'll be nursing a new little one!

Monday was busy in the morning, as we got up to go watch the annual 4th of July parade in the housing development that Matt's parents live in. It is a cute and chaotic little parade, with lots of children on bikes, scooters and strollers, all dressed in their patriotic best. I was really impressed at the amount of time and effort some of the families put into decorating their wagons and other vehicles. It was neat to see the community come together for the celebration, and to see all the children and grown-ups enjoying the day. Emma was still a bit run down after her experience the day before so we opted to head back after the parade and not stay for the games and hot dogs... although once she was back she refused to rest at all, of course.

A little later in the afternoon Matt's mom and I were watching Emma play in the backyard when we heard sirens approaching. We looked at each other and commented on the busy day the police must be having, but as we were saying that we could tell that the sirens were approaching very fast. Just as the sirens sounded like they were on the next street over, we could also hear the screeching of tires, followed by an extremely loud *CRASH* *scrape* *thunk*. We looked at each other in shock, and Susan ran out of the backyard to see what had happened. I could hear the police officers getting out of their cars and shouting "DON'T YOU MOVE!" and "FREEZE!" - Susan later reported that there were eight officers with guns drawn, all pointed at the vehicle. The vehicle, a minivan, had flipped on its top, skidded a ways, and then flopped onto its side. One man was able to get out from the back, but with difficulty as he had something wrong with his leg. The other two had to be helped out of the vehicle, one even requiring that the van be lifted off of him before he could be untangled. The police ended up shutting down the street for a couple hours, while they got everyone out and conducted their investigation. The CHP had to show up as well, as the chase started on the freeway a couple miles away before ending in this quiet suburban community. It was quite a shock to have all this happen just around the corner from the house. I can't imagine why someone would decide that the best course of action when being asked to pull over is to flee, especially through suburban streets. How many people can actually get away, especially when driving an old minivan? It makes me wonder what the bigger story is... did they just panic and do something totally stupid? Were they on drugs? Were they just complete idiots who thought a car chase would be fun? Very strange, I just can't understand at all. Emma was completely oblivious to all the events, which was about what I was aiming for.

On Monday evening we put Emma to bed because she was absolutely exhausted and then walked over to see the fireworks display at a local high school. It was the first time I've seen fireworks synchronized to music for a number of years, and I was struck by how much better those displays have gotten. The last two years we went to the fireworks display near Tahoe City, and the years before that we just skipped it. I felt a little guilty for leaving Emma behind, but I can't imagine she would have lasted well considering how tired she was that evening. Oh well, next year. She has no idea what she missed.

Today we were supposed to head back, but it looks like we're going to be staying an extra day, since Matt now has the evil stomach bug. At least we know it runs its course pretty quickly... I hope that Matt's parents and brother don't get it now.

Ooh! I think I just felt the baby move! :-)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

A little announcement

I haven't been posting much to this blog over the past couple months because I felt a little uncertain how I wanted to write about one of the main things going on in my life right now. I've decided that I'm tired of this, and I would like to be able to break the mental logjam, so I figured I would just make this little announcement and then hopefully that will make me feel a bit more comfortable writing here again. So... the news is that I'm pregnant - about 17 weeks along at this point. I'm due in mid-December. We're planning a homebirth, using a fantastic midwife in our area. We are also planning on taking a rather intensive childbirth prep class called Mindful Birthing. My midwife said that the couples who have taken this class have had some of the best and most consistent results she has seen during the birthing process, which I consider high praise given the number of births she has attended.

Matt, Emma and I are all really excited about this new little one. So far, the pregnancy has been going well, and I've been much less nauseous with this one than I was when I was pregnant with Emma. Emma likes to put her head on my belly and try to listen for the baby, and recently she's started singing to the baby as well. She is having a little bit of a hard time understanding just how far away December is, but so far she's being very patient. Emma decided, from very early on in the pregnancy, that this baby is going to be a boy. She was hoping for twins or a girl, but she's informed me many times that I'm going to have a boy. We have no intention of finding out ahead of time, so we'll just have to wait until December to see if she is right!

I've also added a cute little countdown type thing in the right sidebar on my blog, so if you ever want to try and remember how far along I am, that is a good place to look. :-) (I'll be using it too!)