Listening to Myself

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Not a good sign

I stood in front of the door to my home, keyless entry dongle for the subaru in hand, and tried to open the front door by pressing the unlock button twice.

When it didn't work, I stood back, with a puzzled expression on my face for a couple moments. Then I slowly shook my head and pulled out my house keys.

We have our second childbirth class tonight from 6:45 - 9:45... I think it is going to be a looong evening.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I took this quiz because a number of other blogs I read have been taking it too... and I can't say I'm surprised at the results.

You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every
book ever published. You are a fountain of
endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and
never fail to impress at a party.
What people love: You can answer almost any
question people ask, and have thus been
nicknamed Jeeves.
What people hate: You constantly correct their
grammar and insult their paperbacks.

What Kind of Elitist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

What I do find funny though is that every blogger I read who has taken this quiz has gotten the same results as me.

We had our first childbirth class on tuesday evening, and I'm looking forward to going back. I think it will be a good and useful class for us, even though we have already been through this once. We are the only couple in the class who have a child already and that does seem to give us some special status or something. It is a little funny to be looked up to in that way, especially since everyone in the class is older than we are. I had an appointment with my midwife yesterday morning to do the blood draw for the glucose test (oh joys!). I found drinking 400 ml of apple juice vastly superior to drinking that weird glucose drink I had to chug last time - definitely nice to have the option to pick my own glucose source. It didn't seem to make me feel anywhere near as weird and off as it did when I was pregnant with Emma, which I'm not sure if that is a function of the drink, my health, or what. I also got my list of stuff they want me to have on hand for the homebirth, which was fun to look at. I definitely feel like things are going pretty fast now - I can't believe that September is almost gone already.

I've been meaning to give an update on the genuine encounter thing, but I haven't really gotten my thoughts together enough to write anything. Emma is currently on the couch and ready with a book, so I best go see what she's picked out. I can only stall so long! The short of it is that it is definitely making a positive difference!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Housing Insanity & Limbo

I read today that the median home price has reached 619K in the Bay Area and 586K in Alameda County (where we live). I haven't found published data for the city we live in, but we seem to run about 75K higher than the county median which puts up somewhere around 660K. Oh joys. We need to get out of here!!! But I think I've already made that abundantly clear *grin*.

I feel like we're in limbo right now - we can't really make a decision about if we're going to move to the Portland/Vancouver area until after our trip, and it really doesn't seem wise to start doing anything until after the baby is born. So, yes, limbo. It is tempting to make decisions about where to go and when just for the sake of making them, but somehow I don't think that's the way to get the best results, especially on such life-altering (and hopefully life-long!) decisions. In a way, I think we've been in limbo since we sold the house in the Santa Cruz mountains and moved here. We were intending to stay here for 2-3 years (and it will be 2 years in April!), work with the cohousing group to get that built (which has sadly imploded - I no longer think they will ever get anything going), then move. Once we dropped out of the cohousing group we figured that we'd use our time here to decide if we would attempt to buy here (ha!) or figure out somewhere else to go. So, really, we have made some decisions, it just feels like each decision we've made has led to a larger field of decisions rather than a smaller one. At this point I'm trying to think what I need to do to plan for a tenative move in the spring. Our condo community is having a community-wide garage sale this weekend which we really should participate in (although I am really dragging my feet and *not* looking forward to it at all!) and I'm also trying to figure out what else we should do to prepare. I'm slowly going through the house, cleaning, de-cluttering and just generally trying to get a handle on what we have and no longer need. I'm also trying to make sure our financial house is in order. I ordered our credit reports over the weekend (first time in two years, oops) and that all looked great. I also splurged and bought our credit scores and I was pleased to see that we are doing very well in this area, and that we had improved from we were about three years ago when I last saw our scores. Other than these things, I'm not really sure what else I should do - any suggestions?

But in other news, I finally repotted my faithful and much neglected houseplants. I've only needed to do this for the last three years or so, and for some reason today was their lucky day. I figure since they've managed to grow in such poor conditions they will either go into shock and finally croak, or they will thrive and grow into giant monsters and take over the kitchen.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I keep running across moms who talk about their kids having absolutely no sense of colors/patterns matching, wearing whatever they first pull out of their drawers without respect to occasion or season, etc... Well, I just can't relate.

For instance, we went out to Trader Joe's this afternoon and Emma was wearing pink underwear, pink tights, a pink plaid sleeveless dress, a white shirt under the dress (in case it was cold, she said), topped off with a matching pink kerchief in her hair and black dress shoes. Yes, she does this all on her own. Next to her in the cart was a little stuffed bear, wearing a skirt, a matching sweater, and little matching shoes.

Me? I was wearing a dip-dyed maternity shirt (going from dark green to lime green), jean shorts, and black flip-flops.

Let's just say I felt a little underdressed... my mom always used to say that "I'm no girly-girl" (which is really quite true - I have only recently started wearing dresses for non-formal occasions and I doubt I could put make-up on decently to save my life) but it seems that my daughter has, um, diverted from this quite a bit.

It really is so amazing to watch their little personalities bloom and grow!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Genuine Encounter

At my local Mom's Club meeting this evening we had a guest speaker who teaches local parenting classes. She had some interesting things to say, and a lot of what she said validated what I've already learned and (at least try to!) practice. One thing that really struck me was her discussion of a genuine encounter. If you're not familiar with the term, pretty much what it means is taking the time to really acknowledge and follow what the other person is saying, rather than brushing them off or giving them a detached acknowledgement. It involves eye contact, mirroring, and really paying attention, rather than just superficial contact. The instructor said that children only need about five minutes of genuine encounter each day. They need more time from their parents than that, of course, but the rest of the time can be reading, doing tasks together, etc - time spent together, but not in such close contact.

Once she defined the term, I knew immediately what she was talking about, and it really gave me deeper insight into something that happened between Emma and myself today. Recently I've really been trying to do more cleaning and keep on top of things more - I was really letting slide because of it being so hot and because I would get tired so easily. I'm sure some of it is that hormonal nesting thing too! (What is that bizarre noise coming from next door? It sounds like they are using a revved up shop vac to vacuum right next to the wall - this is really distracting because it keeps turning on and off. Ah, the joys of shared walls...) Anyways, I did lots of stuff around the house this morning - laundry, cleaning in the kitchen, folding clothes, and picking up, all with Emma helping me. We then spent about an hour reading books, then we had lunch together. After lunch we put dinner together, cleaned up from that, then I started getting things ready to go out and go to the post office and the library. As I was trying to find the book I needed to ship out, Emma kept climbing all over me, trying to get into my lap. I asked her why she needed to be in my lap, and she said that she wanted to sit in my lap so she could see my eyes. I didn't really understand what she meant then, and I just sort of distracted her and brushed her off. I continued to get stuff together, we did our errands, and once we came back she was trying very hard to get in my lap again and get right in my face whenever I sat down to do anything. Even though we were doing things together all day, I never really focused on her - the closest I came was focusing on the book I was reading to her, helping her fold clothes, etc. When I heard the instructor talk about eye contact, all of a sudden I understood Emma's comment about wanting to see my eyes - I had been so busy trying to get all this stuff done (and thinking that I was doing a good job balancing getting stuff done and involving her in it all) but I never took even a few moments to actually look at her, make eye contact, or engage directly with her. I think I generally am pretty good at that because we've been operating at a slower pace... but in stepping up the pace I neglected to include this crucial piece of interaction.

This will definitely be something I'll be thinking about tomorrow as we go through our day, and I'll be curious to see if and how things are different as I try to be more mindful of this.

Oh, Rats

Over the weekend we discovered what our cats have been watching for so intently in the backyard... yes, that's right, we have at least one resident rat. It is a cute and plump female rat who seems to have a taste for tomatoes. I was rather wondering why it seemed like the green tomatoes on our tomato plants never turned red, and I wasn't terribly surprised to find that this was the answer. The strangest thing about this rat is that she likes to eat cherry tomatoes in the BBQ - we opened it up to use it this weekend and there were tomato skin pieces and tomato seeds on the inside. Is she eating them in there because she doesn't want to share with the (for now, hypothetical) rat family that lives under the deck?

Matt was all in favor of sending a cat out after the rat, and we had several discussions as to which of our always indoor, never caught anything cats would be best for the task. Now that he's seen the rat though, he's not so sure. She's a pretty good sized rat, and she really doesn't look like she's missed a meal for awhile. At least she's not the scruffy, wouldn't be surprised if she had rabies sort of rat - she really is quite cute and would not look at all out of place in a cage in someone's home.

Not sure what we'll do about this critter, but as it stands, it doesn't look like we'll be getting anymore tomatoes since the rat will eat them greener than we will.

New York

I wimped out and decided not to do it. If I didn't have to get in at that hour, or didn't have to bring the carseat, or if they weren't quite so far away from the airport or if it wasn't flying into JFK... etc, etc, etc. Just more than I wanted to tackle on my own (well, not on my own as I would have Emma, of course, but I think you know what I mean).

I think I'm a little disappointed in myself, but I also feel relieved too.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Probably a crazy idea

My step-grandmother's (Nanny) 95 birthday is coming up next weekend and that whole side of the family is getting together for it. It really isn't that big of a family, but they rarely all get together. She lives on Long Island and my parents and brother just made their arrangements to fly out for this party. My step-brother and his girlfriend will be out from NYC, and my step-sister and her family will be down from MA. My cousin who lives in SF will fly out for this, and his brother and family in CT will come as well. My step-father's brother and wife life across the street, so they will of course be there. That is everyone on that side of the family, except for my sister and myself who only sort of belong to this clan. Even though my step-father and mother have been married for over 20 years, my mom and her two children from her first marriage were never totally accepted into the family. But still, I've enjoyed being with these people and I feel like I've made a connection to Nanny over the years, especially after my daughter was born. Girls are rare on that side of the family, so they end up getting a lot of notice. It is strange to have my daughter accepted as Nanny's great-granddaughter without ever really being accepted as her granddaughter, but hey, I'm willing to make allowances for someone who is in her 90's!

So anyways, baggage and family history aside, I'm trying to decide if I should fly out for this or not. I've been pricing tickets and it looks like Emma and I could fly, round-trip, for about $260 each. I think I have enough money in my little fund for that (err, I should explain that - Matt and I have our own little funds set up - for all the overtime he makes, he gets 30% in his fund, I get 20%, and 50% goes into savings. This gives us the ability to buy stuff we want that the other person doesn't really care about without feeling like we are overly impacting the family budget. For Matt, it tends to be computer and mountaineering stuff, for me it tends to be craft stuff, books, and trips) but it will definitely wipe me out - and it has taken me awhile to save this up! Then there are the logistical issues - do I rent a car, or do I try to get out there on the Long Island Railroad? It looks like the earliest I could get in is about 9 pm, which makes the trains sound rather iffy. My parents will be there already, but they are getting in at about 6 am Friday morning, and they are going to be about an hour and a half away from the airport so I would really hate to have either of them come all the way out to get us. And then I start thinking about flying for six hours with a three year old, schlepping a carseat, luggage, a six and a half month pregnant belly and my daughter all over the airport by myself and the idea starts seeming less appealing. But I wonder, will I kick myself later if I don't do this, especially if I don't make it back while Nanny is still alive? And it isn't like it is going to get much easier - soon I would be travelling with two little ones!

Hmm... and why does all this have to come together at the last minute so that I hardly have anytime to think about it???

A couple neat posts

Danielle Bean has a great post today with a really cute story about one of her kids - really made me laugh out loud!

Cash for Crabs

Another good one on a totally different subject is Jane Galt's smack-down of some of the European response she's seen regarding Katrina. I thought it was quite well put together and an altogether entertaining and enlightening read.

"Myth" Busting

My favorite paragraph is towards the beginning: "The area that was devastated by the hurricane is approximately the size of Great Britain. Tell me again how the EU would have gotten everything under control in a matter of hours had 90% of England, Scotland, and Wales been flattened by an Atlantic storm that also knocked out electricity to Ireland and France." She also has some interesting comparisons about the climate differences (among other things) between the US and Europe. Galt just recently returned from living in London for several months, which has given her a rather interesting perspective on a number of subjects.

And last but not least, this fantastic post by Kate Cousino, titled Why This Young Woman is Pro-Life. She aptly calls it her "Pro-Life 'Manifesto'". If I could write half as well as she does about things I care deeply about, I would be jumping up and down for joy. It really made me reflect on my journey from completely pro-choice to completely pro-life, a journey that started about twelve years ago and only ended about 6-8 months ago. I was raised to be totally pro-choice by my mother, so much so that I didn't even think about it at all until a comment from a school friend after biology one day. We were talking about the birth process, and I said something about the fetus entering the birth canal. My friend said to me, somewhat sarcastically (and I will never forget this) - "Now that the baby is moments away from being born, do you think you could start calling it a baby now?" I think it is funny how little things like that stick in one's head and start far more than one would ever think possible from one little remark. It really made me think about that transition point and how you could ever possibly define it. Until I was pregnant with my daughter, I held to a sort of fuzzy "until the point of viability" acceptance of abortion, but it wasn't something I felt particularly good about. I figured that once the baby could survive on his or her own, then we could call the baby a baby, and thus the baby's life deserved to be honored and protected. As I learned more about just how fuzzy that point is and how impossible it would be to create a good and lasting definition for it, and then as I experienced a pregnancy of my own, I grew to reconsider this position. I backed up my acceptance to only within the first trimester, but still I wondered how even that could be acceptable. What makes week 11 ok, but not week 12? What changes so dramatically in that short period of time that would make something so irrevocable and life-changing and life-ending not acceptable? If I were to base this on some sort of pregnancy milestone, what then if the dates were wrong (which happens a lot more than people realize)? I realized that once I started accepting that this life is a human life and not just a clump of cells, there was nothing I could do but follow the slippery slope all the way to the other side, to a position I couldn't even fathom holding in earlier years. Anyways, I have probably gone on longer than I should have, and I know there are other turning points that came along this path (one of them being the realization that in 1983, the year before my brother was born, almost a quarter of all pregnancies ended in abortion - what a huge number of people who were just wiped off the face of the earth!). I really don't mean to start anything, I write this more because I want to share a post that I read recently that really affected me and also because I am still marveling at the changes I have undergone over the years. As I keep thinking about things from a variety of viewpoints, working them over in my mind, and learning more and more I have found myself drifting in directions I never would have expected. Not to sound like an idiot or anything, but I just have a hard time believing that I have changed as much as I have - and sometimes I wonder (and wish!) it would just stop for awhile.

And, yes, I do read a rather eclectic collection of blogs. Someday I should put out the list of blogs that are in my RSS program on my blog just for fun. Or I suppose I could just do a blogroll... I meant to just write a brief post, and here it is, a half an hour later. I really need to go out and do my errands!

More on U-Haul, Moving and Pregnancy update

Marginal Revolution linked today to two more posts on the whole U-Haul pricing as a way to look at migration patterns. One is a review of the idea by the Freakonomics authors and the other is a huge data crunch that some guy with too much time on his hands did as a little mental and scripting exercise. Nothing all that new learned, I suppose, but the trends do seem to bear out. Personally, I don't ever intend to use U-Haul again - after the last move where we ended up having to scramble for a last minute reservation (and do a round-trip rental from a little local place even though we were moving 75 miles away) even though I made the reservation 2 months in advance!! As Dy mentioned in her last comment, reservations mean nothing to this company, which I think is a horrid way to run a business. However, I guess it works for them because they still manage to stay around. Anyways... yes, I will definitely use a different company when it comes time to move again, even if it does cost more. I'm still not willing to spend the big bucks on movers (just way too cheap for that), although I have experienced a move with movers one time when the company I was working for paid for it. Gotta say, that was pretty nice... although it was amazing how much it cost!

Anyways, speaking of moving I've been thinking about the logistics of how we might go about finding a house and such in the area we decide to move to. Generally I would think that we would just pack everything up, either move into a temporary furnished place or bring a minimal amount of stuff into a place that allows for a short term lease, then look for a house from there. However, two things complicate this. First, we own four cats. I know, we're crazy - but believe me, it wasn't exactly our intention to have four... I had one from college, then we wanted to get a kitten my sister was fostering and ended up with two, then we adopted one from a friend who couldn't keep his kitten anymore. Four cats is a lot, especially when they are all friendly, personable, indoor cats as these ones are. I enjoy them all individually, but sometimes the four of them just get to be too much! But anyways, I digress. I think the chances of finding a short term rental that would let us have four cats is virtually nil (and I don't blame them, I don't think I'd rent to us either) so that complicates matters. Four cats is a little much to ask anyone to take care of (especially since my Mom already has four as well, and soon will have two more living there because my sister is moving home for at least a few months). So, yeah, that's definitely a problem. And then there's the fact that my husband really dislikes moving and would like to move again only once, if at all possible. Amazingly enough, he's only moved a handful of times in his life, and most of them with me (sorry, hon!) whereas I have moved more times than I can remember already (at least 20, if not more I think) so I'm a lot less bothered by it.

So, yes, I am currently entertaining the insane notion of renting a furnished place for a month or two in the spring, going up there with a small baby and a four year old, and looking for houses largely by myself, with my wonderful husband flying up on weekends and such. At least he could work from both places, so long as he has a decent internet connection... but still, that pretty much means I do all the legwork (with two children in tow!) and paperwork, and he does the bulk of the packing. Doable, but somehow I think it would be stressful. Perhaps that is putting it mildly. Very mildly.

Oh, right, I promised a pregnancy update in my post title. Everything is going swimmingly. I had another midwife appointment on Wed, and everything is progressing as it should. I was pleased to find that I only gained three pounds in the last month, as opposed to the seven from the month before - that evens out to an acceptable number. I was really hoping I would not gain seven lbs each month for the rest of the pregnancy! I had a goal out the outset to try and see if I could end this pregnancy at only 5-10 lbs more than I was at the start of my pregnancy with Emma and I still think that might happen. If it doesn't, oh well, but it sure would be nice! Emma is still really excited about the baby - she sings to the baby almost every day, and likes to take rests on my tummy so that she can try to feel the baby move. She really wants to be there when the baby is born, and I'm thinking that I'd like her to be there - with an adult back-up assigned to her, just in case things go off-track and she (or I!) need to be taken somewhere else. She has also started to pretend that she's pregnant, and I've had to act as midwife for the birth of several stuffed animals. I have another appointment in two weeks to do a glucose test, which I feel somewhat ambivalent about but I am going to do anyways. I do love having a choice though! At least I get to pick my own glucose choice (my midwife suggested jelly beans *grin*) and they will recheck my iron levels, which I've been somewhat curious about.

OK, time to go read some books to my very patient little munchkin and then I think we'll play a rousing game of Candyland.