And for once I was SuperMom

Friday, November 23, 2012

Christmas Gift

Black Friday.  Wow.  So we've come to this.  Two of my friends have posted on Facebook that they have had to head into work in the middle of the night.  Making retail workers above and beyond just so that we can get one dollar appliances?  Wretched.
One dollar toasters make me nervous.  If they can sell it for that much does that mean that the rest of the year I am paying far above what the product is worth?  Or are they just banking that you will buy other things that are overpriced once you are in the door?
Nevertheless, we didn't go.  We went for a walk in a nature preserve.  I may have missed fantastic deals on toys for my children, which did make me rethink my strong avoidance of the Friday of Blackness.  Pennies always need to be pinched and getting half off on a Christmas present for my daughter is not something to be scoffed at.

Then I think about what I got Emma last year....
We were wandering around a thrift store looking for deals, I had kept walking hoping to look for clothes for Emma without having to fish her out of the racks.  I realized I had lost my family and backtracked to find them.  I found them in the furniture section.  Emma was atop a dusty rocking horse furiously rocking with a face full of mad joy.  Scott looks up at me, and shrugs.  We bought it. It was decorated in a Southwestern theme circa 1987 and monogrammed for someone who I am sure is now in grad school.  I shuddered at the thought of giving my daughter a Christmas present bought secondhand.
I decided I would lovingly paint it, so that it would be all her own.

I ripped out the dusty rotting mane.  And then I washed my hands.  I primed it.   Sprayed it with a lovely shade of apple green to match, well, all the other things I've spray painted for her room that I've bought at thrift stores.  I used two different sized bottle caps to trace and then paint white and pink polka dots all over it.  I replaced the brittle crinkling leather bridle with pink and brown polka dot ribbon and white heart shaped buttons (attached with carefully applied tacky glue and hot glue).  Then it sat and sat and sat while I decided how to remake the mane and tail.  I had some bright white yarn that would be perfect for the green, pink, brown, and white theme.  I was still wrapping my mind around how to jam it into the wooden slot that was left by the old mane.  They had taped the mane in one long strip and then stapled it down into the slot.  Lacking modern manufacturing methods and having a staple gun that I know is a wee but wussy I had to think.  Eventually I cut 'even' pieces of yarn, wrapped masking tape around the end and then hot glued them into place.  Then I ran out of hot glue.  The poor rocking horse sat and sat and sat, until finally I used wood glue to glue the rest of the mane in.  I just had to hold it in place for a few second while it adhered, rather than having the instant gratification of hot glue.  I didn't redo the tail, I imagined stapling the yarn to the rear where the old tail was and then wrapping ribbon around it, using hot glue to adhere it.  I didn't though, because I wasn't sure how it would hold; considering that the tail would be right where her bum goes and would get more wear and tear than the rest of the horse.

I finished.  I envisioned finding pieces of it scattered around her room as she ripped at ribbon and glue.  I haven't though.  I have found one piece of yarn on the floor in the year that she has had it.
I figured she'd grow tired of it and prefer manufactured toys.  She hasn't though.  I still find her rocking away on it.  She refers to it lovingly as 'my rocking horse.'

The rocking horse was eight dollars, the cans of paint where six dollars each (and I've used them on other projects), the paint for the polka dots I already had, the ribbon I already had, the yarn was a cast off from my mother in law, and the buttons were about fifty cents each.

What will I get her this year?  I don't know.  We're in the process of buying a house and we very well might be moving around Christmas.  A lovingly crafted gift might not be possible right now.  I will probably buy her a toy I've seen her playing with at another person's house or a library book that she keeps asking for long after it's been returned.  I don't think manufactured or homemade matters as long as it's given thinking about what the child wants, not what you think they should want.
Or if it's on a crazy reduced Black Friday sale.
Just saying.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Parenthood changes things:

Your body:  mixed feelings of, ‘wow, you did something amazing,’ and, ‘wow, there are enough veins on my thighs to make them look like a topographical map.’
Your house:  “If I step on this pterodactyl one more time….!”
Your stress: “Oh, no, they’re both crying at the same time…what’s that in my hand? ….a lump of my own hair!?”
Your clothes: you know how they shine black lights on hotel beds to show you all the human fluids that are on them?  I think that if they did to my shirt you’d have the same reaction.
Your self worth: it’s hard to feel good about yourself when your shirt is comparable to a hotel duvet.
And it completely changes your awkward moments.  Precisely because they get more epic.  Please go read my post A Rest Stop .  Not so restful.  Here are two more:

“She wants to look at your baby, she just loves babies,” a mom walks up to me in the park with her four year old in front of her.  The girl comes closer to us, I smile, of course I like it when people want to look at my baby.  I think she’s awesome, obviously, I want to share.  The girl’s curly head comes closer, a piece of hair sprouts sidewise from her head, she twirls it thoughtfully.
“She’s so cute!” the girl coos.  I turn Carys towards her and we talk a bit, I glow with Madonna like grace at the child.  My friend jumps off the bench to chase down her toddler.  The girl climbs up next to me.  Then Carys begins to squirm.  Her chewing on my hand becomes a little more insistent.  Her squirms become jerky and urgent.  She’s hungry.  She starts turning and trying to eat my shoulder and neck.  I give in and throw a cover on my shoulder that is closest to the girl, I figure I can cover her and avoid any awkward questions. 
“I hate the midgies,” the girl says.  She is scratching her calf and referring to the little flies that keep landing on us, depositing irritating bites. 
“They’re not my favorite,” I agree.
She shifts and scratches her knee, “I hate the midgies.”
“I don’t like them either,” I agree, again.
She rubs her nose, twists that piece of hair more askew, and then scratches her ankle, “I hate the midgies.”
“Yeah, they’re not great,” I’m running out of responses.  And Carys is done.  I need to switch sides.  I do not want to be the sacrificial lamb for this girl’s first experience with breastfeeding, and I have no idea how much she knows or what her family would think if she someone nursing at the park.  I burp my kid for as long as I can.
“That ladder looks like it needs to be climbed,” I offer.  She scratches her shoulder.
“Have you seen that dinosaur over there?” I ask.  The Madonna-like grace is wearing thin.
So I do it.  I throw the cover over my other shoulder and start to latch her on.  The girl hops off the bench.  I relax, maybe she got the hint.  I look up.  She is trying to peer under the cover.

And then there was this other time…
At my six week appointment after having my second child, I was dumb enough to take both kids with me.  I didn’t think getting child care for a doctor’s appointment was a necessity.
First there was the navigating a stroller one handed while grabbing and trying to verbally direct a toddler who is not used to walking, or being verbally directed.  And there are so many doors in doctor’s offices, so many doors.
While I was sitting on the table, after being examined, sheet over my lap, talking to my doctor about birth control options my six week old infant starts crying.  My doctor walks over to the stroller and pulls her out, rocks with her and keeps talking to me.  Problem solved.
Then my two year old, who was just recently potty trained, stops in the middle of the floor squeezes her knees together squats in that tell tale way.  I freeze and press my lips together as panicky white noise goes off in my brain.  The doctor just looks down at her, then back up at me and keeps talking,
“Um, there poo in there,” I say not really knowing how to direct the situation.
“Oh, is she potty trained?” the doctor asks, as my daughter keeps squatting.  Well, apparently not.
“Um, I need to…”I gesture uselessly at my lap and then down at my child.
“Oh…OH!  Okay, I’ll take the baby and you get dressed.  There’s a bathroom right there.  I’ll send a nurse in with pads.”  I hear her say as she walks off,
“She’s so tiny I thought there was a diaper in there.”  I leapt off the table, threw my pants on, and check the damage on my kid as she’s shouting,
“She took our baby!”  Yep, because you crapped your pants.  I usher her into the bathroom and a nurse shows up in a moment with wipes and pads.  I love nurses in emergencies like this, it’s part of their job and most of them have kids, so they know the panic.  The nurse coos at my daughter,
“Oh, you don’t feel good do you?” Only then does it occur to me that Emma might be in intestinal distress, because the diarrhea I was cleaning up wasn’t already evidence.

I do wonder if medical school ever prepared my doctor for THAT type of emergency. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

I Want That

“Emma would you like cheese or yogurt?”  She pauses, thinks,
“I want ice cream,” she cheers, throwing both arms exuberantly in the air.  While in the same food group, ice cream is not on the menu at lunch.
“Well, we don’t have ice cream, would like cheese or yogurt?” It is a gracious moment and I’m still smiling.
“I want ice cream!” She cheers again.
“We don’t have that, we have cheese or yogurt,” my smile is losing its curve.
“Ummmm, yogurt,” she decides to believe me.  Not knowing that ice cream has little nutritional value and is apt to give her a belly ache, as opposed to cheese or yogurt which are both higher up on the nutritional value food chain.
Do you ever wonder how often we do that to God?
“I want to marry the tall doctor!” You shout.
“Here, have a doctor of education of average height,” He says.
“Ummmmm, okay,” you decide to believe Him.  Upon reflection you realize the tall doctor would have worked impossibly long hours and as you are short a tall man might not be the best choice; while the professor is the perfect height for your build and has much better office hours.
*                                     *                                 *
“I want that,” Emma taps her toe against the cardboard package of a cupcake stand.  On the package the stand is depicted full of colorfully decorated cupcakes.
“Huh, what did you say?” I ask, not really sure what she’s talking about.  My literal mind knows that she can’t mean the stand, that’s not much fun.  Does she want the cupcakes?
“I want that,” the patent leather mary jane toe taps the box again.
“You can’t have that right now, but later in the week you can have some,” I say.  I don’t really know what to do with this, what does she really want?  Does she want me to produce a tower of cupcakes for her, right here in the passenger seat of our car?  Does she even know what is involved in the production of cupcakes, much less a tower of them decorated to look like clowns?  Abracadabra, kid, here you go. 
Do you even wonder how often we do that to God?
“I want it to stop raining,” you say, looking at your camping trip getting more sodden by the moment.  God says,
“Do you even know that I have to change weather patterns in Tibet to make it stop raining here, just because you don’t want to get wet on your vacation?” 
Sometimes if I think about things in this perspective it helps me get perspective.  Yes, I don’t want to get wet on my vacation, but the land probably needs water more than I need to be dry right now.  Yes, I want that, but I probably don’t really know what is good for me.  When we desire something is it really something we need or are we just being difficult?  My daughter certainly doesn’t need a tower of cupcakes, and she got one later that week.  Well, she got one of them, at least. 
We all want things that we think we should have.  Often we don’t get them.  Maybe we just need to trust that what we get is need. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Fellow Americans

Hello fellow Americans.
I hope you voted today.
I assume that most of you can discern my political views from my blog, Facebook page, or just from talking to me.  I am pretty open about what I believe.  I do try to keep my mouth shut when I don't know what I'm talking about.  (What? She keeps her mouth shut?  I know, it's true.  My face turns red, my lips go purple, it's not pretty.)  Only because I used to get myself in so many debates where I was seriously outgunned.

This election I have become quite frustrated, this is the first election where I have been tuned into Facebook. From watching all the anger that gets posted I have realized that arguing with each other gets us nowhere.  Like when Scott and I start yelling at each other during an argument, we completely stop listening to each other.  I had one friend who's posts continuously made me angry, and, eventually, I realized that my posts probably made him angry.

I am not going to tell you who to vote for, you can probably guess for whom I cast my ballot.
And even if you don't agree with me I still hope you voted today.
I remember when I was a child and there was an election year.  I think it was for Clinton's term.  I remember all the adults running around about me, beating their breasts, gnashing their teeth, and threatening that the world would end if the candidate that they did not agree with got elected.  Then who ever it was got elected. And nothing happened.  My world did not change at all.  I still went to school.  We still had a house.  I was still a kid.

So that is what is going to happen.  Our country will still go on.  One candidate promises to uphold the status quo and another promises change.  Change or status quo, our country will go on.  Hopefully for the better and not for the worse.  Hopefully after all this we can all be friends again.

Let's remember this again in four years that no matter the political party that our new president will have that our country will still go on. Can we turn deaf ears to pundits who yell and call names and accuse?  Can we remember that we still want a nation for our children?  All of us do, regardless of whether or not we check the 'D's or the 'R's?
Can we remember that we are lucky to be able to take part in the political process of our country?  Can we remember that we are fortunate that when the new or old president takes over that will not be riots in the streets?  People will not die over the change of power.  Remember that we are lucky to have a peaceful state.
Can we be thankful that we can vote?  That we are allowed by our government to take part in the process.
Do you think we are capable of doing that?

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Scarlet 'A'

“Wait, so you’re pro-life, so you don’t vaccinate, right?” a friend says to me on the playground.
“No,” I say back.
“So you’re pro-choice?” my friend guesses.
“I’m ‘I’ve never been 15 and pregnant,’” I respond.
“Fair enough,” she says.                
I am neither pro-choice nor pro-life.  I am Pro-Wanted Children.
I know that life begins at conception.  I don’t believe, I know.  I have carried two children and I know when that life begins.  I have also wanted every single one of my pregnancies.  I don’t know what it’s like to carry a life that you don’t want to have.
I don’t believe that Roe vs. Wade will ever get repealed. 
I also don’t believe that abortion is a legislative issue.  I believe it is a sociological issue.  Abortions happen when a woman is carrying a child that she doesn’t want.  When she feels that she cannot afford that child, either for monetary, sociological, or psychological reasons. 
The US has one of the highest infant mortality and maternal mortality rates of developed nations.  One of the factors that plays into that is that women of childbearing age often do not have proper healthcare available to them.  That’s right, they don’t have health insurance.  So a 22 year old woman falls pregnant and doesn’t go to the doctor because she can’t pay for it.  It is well proven that good prenatal care equals healthy moms and babies.
Often people turn to the issues of rape and incest to allow for abortion, that doesn’t solve the problem.  We still have a woman pregnant with a child she doesn’t want.  How do we solve the problem of rape or incest?  We need to look to the men who are doing the raping to solve that problem.  From what I understand rape is a power issue and not a sex issue.  Why are the men in the US feeling unempowered, why would they seek an act of violence to feel powerful?  In developing nations it is often because their economic power is nonexistent (women are oppressed, but men are depressed).  What is the cause in our nation?  Is it violence in the media?  Is it poor outlets for male aggression?    
We pat ourselves on the back because there aren’t many orphans in the US.  Most people in the US that have babies choose to have them because they feel that they can take care of them; in some nations where abortions aren’t available those women have those babies and abandon them for adoption. In 2008 approximately 1.21 million abortions were performed (some states will not release their statistics so this is based on those that would), can you imagine if all those children had been born?  We would be facing a whole new set of sociological issues. 
And we would be facing the same issues, women are still becoming pregnant with children that they don’t want. 
If we vote to make abortion illegal I think we miss the point.  We would be trying to plug a geyser with a wine cork.  When we vote for ‘life’ we need to think of the whole issue, not just the act of walking into a doctor’s office and asking for an abortion, we need to be before that.  When we vote for ‘life’ we need to vote for society as a whole.  We need to vote in family friendly legislation, universal health care, and other laws that will make us stronger as a whole.
When it comes to abortion we must dig.  As I've said before there is more here but it's underneath.  If we are stop abortion it will not come at the polls.  We need to go to our people.  Love and empower our boys so they will not rape.  Love and empower our girls so that they will not look for love in all the wrong places.  Love and empower each other for so many reasons.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cause and Effect

Slam, click.
Scott and I looked at each other.  Each child had been freed from their car seat and we were ready to go join our community group in a picnic.
“Where’s the food?”  My shoulders went limp.
“We forgot it didn’t we?” He asked, knowing the answer. 
I nodded.  It was a twenty minute drive back to our home, by the time we retrieved it our picnic would be over.  We decided just to join our friends and decide on a course of action later.  As we rolled up to our group of friends, we unfurled our blanket and started confessing that we had indeed forgotten our meal.  The response to our complete flagrant flakiness,
“Oh,” and a nod of the head.  I commented to one friend that everyone had been so gracious,
“I think we were all thinking it could’ve been us,” she giggled hiding her mouth behind her hand.
That same friend came over to my house before a playground playdate, I pointed to the car seat where my infant child was napping,
“Don’t let me forget that.”  She just nodded.  Could’ve been her.                        
I am amazed at what sleep deprivation has done to me.  There are just pieces missing all over my thought life.  I can’t remember past events, names, mostly I feel lucky if I leave the house clothed.  I have a list on my whiteboard of what everyone needs to leave the house.  Extra clothes, sippy cups, nursing covers, etc.  I almost wrote pants for me, just to make me smile.

 *                                                   *                                              *

I had hauled out the double breast pump that a friend had lent me, it comes encased in a leather bag.  The motor is actually inside the satchel, the tubes and the wire to plug it in all attach to the satchel.  I set it on the floor, flipped back the large leather flap and started assembling all the tubes and wires.  Scott looked over,
“That looks like something that Herr Doctor would use to torture detainees,” he observed.
“Perhaps by applying suction to the nipples,” I suggest.
“Something like that.”
Sigh.  A few minutes later he looked over again and made a comment about the funny look on my face.  Well, it hurts.  It’s not the most normal feeling ever.
·                                             *                                                 *
Some friends were gathered in a group.  Talking about how our bodies had been changed by childbearing.  I complain about how much I gain,
“Oh, but you’re all belly,” someone says, conciliatorily.
“Now, don’t be nice, I know what size pants I was wearing.  You know I caught my reflection at one point and was surprised at how slim by bottom did look.  I realized it was because nothing would look big under that belly!”
And here she is.  9.2 pounds at birth, and all smiles.
I wish I could say with a resounding shout that it’s all worth it.  But it’s hard to think about it in those terms.  It is what it is.  The stretch marks, the loose skin, it’s just what happens.  Nobody wins the gravity battle. 
The things we go through for our children.  Nobody makes it out of this unscathed.  Everybody comes out a little stretchier, a little looser, and a lot more tired.