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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in fyshmom's LiveJournal:

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Friday, December 17th, 2010
4:34 am
All I Want for Christmas
Today (well, technically, yesterday, but who's counting?) I filled out my application for the PhD program I hope to get into, and then, as the corn bread was baking, I sat down and introspected real hard: I love what I do, but I can't go on like this indefinitely. It's not the "work," mind you, but rather my growing inability to relax before, during, or after that work. The tension I feel serves no purpose whatsoever -- I've just forgotten how to relax, both mentally and physically.

What do I want for Christmas? I asked myself. What do I really want for Christmas?

Several years ago, prior to having children, I always took the month of December (actually, between Thanksgiving and Solstice) to have my Annual Winter Retreat, where I would regroup, rejuvenate, rethink, and then be ready to go flying into the upcoming New Year, after due celebration of course. For the past few years, i.e. since having children, the Christmas season in just one more giant event, one more (albeit wonderful and festive) thing to do. In other words, I have neglected my Winter Retreat for far too long.

This year, it won't be the luxurious three weeks I was accustomed to, but rather a concentrated, and somewhat less intense, ten days to two weeks. I can't do things like shut down my entire life, stop speaking for a week, and meditate for twelve hours a day, but I can do the version of that that my current life allows. There is a part of me that feels SO utterly relived, the part that has been "on" for six years now without a break. (I don't count that first year of motherhood, because that was the most "retreated," relaxed, blissed-out time of my entire life.) I need to "power down" several of the analytic centers of my brain, spend some time meditating, breathing, doing yoga, dancing, laughing, painting, cleaning, sleeping, writing (creatively), and just having down time.

So, what does this mean, practically speaking?

One of the big things I realize myself needing is an absence of external inputs. I'm not sure how else to phrase that; it is a milder version of the sentiment I expressed about twelve years ago, just prior to taking my first serious retreat, when I said, "My head if full of people and none of them are me." This is not nearly that intense -- I'm still definitely in here and the loudest of all, and don't feel other voices "encroaching" on my selfhood -- but at the same time, there is a part of me that really wants to climb inside the cave of my self, stare at the walls, and see what echoes back to me in the silence.

In addition, my husband is taking two weeks of vacation, during which time we intend to 1) CLEAN the house 2) spend a lot of quality family time 3) do festive holiday things and 4) be together as much as we can. We always use the approach of the New Year to reprioritize and to "synchronize our watches," so to speak, but we are due for a very large systemic overhaul in that area, thus, this time will be partially dedicated to that as well.

Starting after the weekend, my plan is to not spend nearly as much time interacting digitally or electronically with anyone who is not in my immediate family. I want to really pay attention to my kids, my husband, the friends who are coming to visit, the social gatherings I am actually in, and most importantly, myself. I need some attention from ME in order to stay well, relax, and get my focus readjusted. I plan not to text, not to answer the phone (or even leave the ringer on), and not to spend time on Facebook for a little while. That's not to say I won't possibly leave a "Merry Christmas!" status update, but rather that I don't plan to scan through what others are doing for a few days, not because I don't care, but because I want to "limit my inputs." I just want to be with me in here for a little while, to take care of myself, to implement a sustainable practice of relaxing, and to reinforce my closest and dearest relationships with my family.

That is what I want for Christmas, and so, that it what I shall get.
Thursday, June 24th, 2010
4:19 am
Run
I think of myself as someone who hates to run. It doesn't feel good, it doesn't feel natural, it doesn't feel right, and yet, I am running. Even when I was a lithe, fit, seventeen-year-old, I hated to run. Even when I signed up for track, I hated running. (I threw discuss very well, but hated the obligatory running part.) I have a vague memory of running down the long driveway toward our house in the woods at the farm (where I sit now) and actually enjoying the sensation, thus I know there were times as a child that I enjoyed moving my body that way, but those days are a long distance in the past. Perhaps I ruined the joy by running and turning it into "exercise," or worse, "a sport," in my mind, but either way, I have disliked the sensation for at least the past twenty-three years that I can recall with certainty.

In the past year, I've had two friends take up running for the first time in their lives and do so successfully. Both of them started out walking with only a little bit of running, and then gradually turned that into running a half-marathon for one and running for forty-five minutes nonstop for the other. I have been so impressed and inspired watching this that I decided to give it a try.

I have had some relatively serious problems with my lower back over the past few years, so I am trying to be very careful about how I go about doing this. For starters, I have no interest in running on concrete -- I don't even like to walk on concrete -- so I am sticking to the packed dirt trails through the fields here at the farm that I've been using as walking trails for quite some time. I am also starting out very, very gradually -- I'm actually shocked that in less than a week I've been able to run one entire length of the field, and tonight it didn't even feel like I was going to float away or pass out afterward, though I did still see the blinking lights.

I don't yet have a stopwatch to time how long I walk versus run, so I am going by distance. Basically, I walk four lengths of the field in some configuration (it is vaguely rectangular with an extra path down the middle that makes it kind of two squares) and then run one length (though I could only run 2/3 of the length the first time) and then walk again. I do that twice. So far, so good - I haven't had any increased pain, and in fact, the pain I have every morning seems to be lasting for a shorter amount of time than usual.

The first time I ran felt incredibly awkward ; remember, I hadn't done this in at least twenty-three years, and then I didn't like it very much and so did very little of it. I told my daughter that I felt like a whale trying to run on its flippers -- it was that awkward -- and I couldn't help but glance around to make sure that no one saw me. I dance a whole lot, and when I do that, I feel graceful and in control of my body; it is a wholly natural act that requires no thought or effort. When I run, not so much.

The second bout of running that first night felt a little (but only a little) less cumbersome, but when I was finished, for a moment I feared that I had done some kind of damage. I saw bursts of light all around me and was momentarily afraid that something in my brain had popped, or that I was about to faint. Um, no -- the lights were objectively there, flying around, blinking, the way fireflies do at dusk when they're trying to mate, thus no apparent harm done.

I'm not sure where this will go or if I will find the same level of success as my two friends have, but I really, really, REALLY want to get in shape, and running has some definite advantages. It is a relatively quick way to exercise for someone with not a lot of extra time, it doesn't require that I go somewhere to do it, it is inexpensive, can be done almost anywhere, and has practical applications in the real world. (I don't like that at the moment I wouldn't even have a chance of outrunning a predator in the wild. Though I've always been a "fight" not a "flight" person, I like to keep my options open.) I would also like to be able to run recreationally with my kids -- I don't like that I couldn't play tag with them, or kickball, or many other things that they enjoy playing.

So, running it is, until my body says otherwise. Next week, I'll be going to one of the local specialty shops to get the right kind of shoes for my body, stride, feet, and running surface, and probably some kind of stop watch to measure intervals, and then I'll be set. I didn't want to invest until I saw if this was something I thought I would actually do, but after a few days of doing it every day, I am starting to enjoy it. The sensation of running that I used to associate with feeling like I was going to die is now one that I associate with living. I like the intensity of pushing my body like that -- I want to see what it can do before it is too late for it to do anything. My body wants a challenge, has been craving a challenge, and running definitely does that, even at this very gradual, slow pace.

This is also good cross-training, I think. Dancing has been my favored form of aerobic exercise for my entire life, and because of that, it is not particularly challenging. I do it in such a way that it is very efficient and have trained myself to always breathe deeply, slowly, and through my nose -- I do not pant when I dance, no matter how fast or for how long I dance. This is great exercise and I love it for a variety of reasons (I sometimes call it "aerobic meditation") but I also need something that really pushes me and feels wholly unnatural -- running fits that bill.

I can envision a day when running may feel as natural as dancing, when I feel like a human on legs galloping across the field as I did in those vague memories of childhood, and not like a beached whale on flippers trying desperately to flop to the other side of the field. It will probably be a while before I stop scanning the field for other family members or potential onlookers (yesterday, my aunt was mowing, so I timed the running parts to occur when she was on the other side of the fence line) but I'll get there… slowly, eventually, and in a way that makes my body happy.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
4:02 am
Return to the Blog
I've noted something lately: Rather than thinking of my life in approximately 600 word essay format, I've come to discursively frame it in one to two line subjectless snippets, as in "finds it unpleasant to have my hair tangled in velcro" or "is sitting in traffic wishing I hadn't ordered a large (venti! venti! venti!) coffee earlier" etc. While these short snippets do occasionally lead to more in-depth discussion later in the "Comments" section, Facebook has definitely influenced the way that I conceive of my life in words. (While posting status updates on Facebook is labeled by some as "narcissistic," I would like to point out that it also encourages thinking of one's self without the "I," which in a sense could be viewed as a practice in ego-dissolution, but I digress…. as I often do….)

All that said, I have missed blogging -- I like talking in lengths longer than one sentence at a time -- its' what I DO!!!! (A lot.) (Or used to.) And since I still have this here account, I thought -- why not? Who's going to stop me? But now that I am here, I find myself blogging about blogging, rather than blogging about some other topic, or discussing what I'm doing in my life, or blogging about any of the other subjects I've considered blogging about over the past few weeks, etc.

Though I must say that I feel a giddy sense of freedom beginning two sentences with "and" and "but," which is exactly the sort of thing that I've been required (more or less) to discourage students from doing for lo these many months. It is a weird thing, teaching "English" to people who already speak it just fine. There is some odd, almost fetishistic thrill to me surrounding arcane grammar rules but 1) I enjoy breaking these rules quite regularly, so who am I to teach otherwise and 2) I am fully aware just how arbitrary, mutable, and impermanent these rules are, and thus do not take them very seriously. At the same time, I also tell my students about how these rules represent access to power and that NOT understanding them may result in less access to that power, thus if this is something that interests them, then learning these rules may be of benefit.

What is it that makes access to and use of "proper" English criteria for value judgments? Why is someone perceived as "better than" someone else because of the particular way they manipulate language? I don't ascribe to that way of thinking, but I see it happen all the time, especially among the "educated" or those in power positions. I understand the idea of something (like a language) having a standardized version so that anyone (ostensibly) who reads it can understand it clearly (which is how I frame the idea of what others call "proper English"), but I do not see the use or disuse of this standardized form as evidence for intelligence or ability to think. It may be indicative of class, educational opportunities, or personal proclivities, perhaps, but not intelligence. Yet, still, the prejudice persists.

Life: It's one big writing contest.

And on that note, I think I'll end this little foray into the essay-esque musings of my life/mind. Perhaps tomorrow or some other day I'll come back and talk more about what I'm doing here and there, but for now, I'll just talk about talking about it; that suits my present mood, whatever that is.
Thursday, August 27th, 2009
3:41 am
Reality Check
Every few years, I do an experiment where I wander out into the (virtual/textual) World at Large and interact with other humans. Every time that I do this, I find the same thing(s), i.e. that it takes way more time and energy than it returns, and that it just distracts me from much more important uses of my time.

I have been thinking about a few things….

Per a very useful (gasp! in person!) conversation that I had earlier this evening, I heard a great line (Pardon me while I paraphrase.): "Arguing about politics has only slightly more effect upon actual political decisions than talking about sports has on the outcome of a game." It's true - all the emotionally laden, back and forth arguments do next to nothing (and I'm being generous) to change anything whatsoever about the fate of the world. Unless that writing and debate is happening with someone in office or in a very large public forum where one is the one speaking to an otherwise silent and enrapt audience, then the effects of that debate are minimal….except, of course, to keep one sitting very still engaged in drama.

And then it struck me: It is no different than television, only in this game of distraction, I get to be one of the (millions) of actors with my (metaphorical) mouth moving. Yes, my brain is engaged more actively than if I were watching TV (heck, brains are more active when they're sleeping than when they're watching TV) but the net result is the same, i.e. I hold very still staring at / becoming engaged with the drama. That drama never ends; like a soap opera, it goes on and on and on and on. Sometimes the faces of the actors change, but the elements of the story remain the same.

I've also been interested in the idea of motivated reasoning strategies, or deciding what one believes and then using logic backward to "arrive" at that conclusion. ( Motivated reasoning is essentially starting with a conclusion you hope to reach and then selectively evaluating evidence in order to reach that conclusion ) No one wants to hear other perspectives, no one is listening to each other, and no one cares how the "other side" feels or thinks. I find this depressing, ineffective, and pointless to engage in…. aha! but it's so dramatic! (schluuuuuuup! sucked right in!)

Right now, I feel like I am watching a sock puppet performance. On one side, there is government; on the other side, corporations. They nip and bite at each other in this little mock performance, while the American citizenry sits on the sidelines arguing over which sock is "right," i.e. the most convincing. Truth has been replaced by believability, and everyone is confused and arguing over socks. Meanwhile, the two arms of the same being continue playing their parts of the "battle" for the edification of the audience. (Bread and circuses anyone?) Like God and Satan, they form the two roles in the drama while people argue over who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist, never questioning the entire performance in the first place, and never even considering that they don't have to participate in the drama.

I have three priorities: Health, family, and career. These are the three things most likely to bring happiness, peace, prosperity, fulfillment, joy, support, love, integrity, longevity, connection, progress, etc., etc., to my life. I have known these to be my priorities for a while now, yet I do not always live up to my fullest sense of focus and purpose 100% of the time. However, because I do drag out the Nietzschean hammer on a pretty regular basis, I don't typically stray from my path for long.

I am wasting my time. I only have so much of that. I know how to influence culture if that is what interests me; my current means does not do that effectively.

Once upon a time, I had a motto for conversation that I lived by pretty consistently. When confronted by someone who just *had* to discuss politics with me (and my definition of "politics" is pretty broad and includes all forms of gossip) I would usually say the following: "I would rather stand neck-deep in dog shit than talk about politics, because at least afterwards, I can wash the dog shit off of me." Then, I'd change the subject.

I feel largely the way that I did post-9/11, i.e. sick and sad, mostly because of the way that "normal people" react than by the events themselves. Wow. Just….wow. In a few days (or hours - who knows - I process pretty quickly) I will turn this into an empathy exercise, will look at it as yet another experiment with the same result, and then will go on in my regularly scheduled life. That's the thing - no matter the result, I always continue onward anyway; I know where I'm going, but occasionally I get distracted by the melee on the side of the road and think that if I briefly stop, perhaps I can do something to stop it, as it is wholly unnecessary. Suffering, suffering, and more suffering…. some of it is perhaps unavoidable, but the largest part is self-created, especially if/when one looks at "self" as the whole of humanity. Micro, macro, it's all the same to me…..

And now I revert to my Ivory Tower, my 2009 Monkey Experiment drawn to a close. Have fun monkeys!!!! Or, whatever it is that you do instead.
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
2:53 am
Education
As I posted a couple of months ago, I had some reservations about sending my oldest (five year old) daughter to school, but since she was very into the idea, and since the school was an arts school, and since it had an excellent academic rating, and since I value autonomy and her ability to steer her own direction through life, and since I had said that I would honor requests from my children to send them to school if that is what they thought they would prefer, I was ready, willing, and even (eventually) somewhat excited to do it. There were even perks to the plan and I did like how many art, music, dance, and drama lessons and experiences she would automatically receive as part of this curriculum.

At the same time, having visited the school, I found the general pedagogy to be very different than what I consider optimal, though I grasp their reasoning for having it that way. Still, it was more authoritarian than I prefer, and I was concerned that her enthusiasm for learning would very quickly be suppressed in order to achieve a level of homogeneity and conformity in the classroom. And I get that - I cannot imagine dealing with 18 - 24 five year olds, many of whom do not have the social and communication skills that my own child has. However, I understand what this sort of environment can do to very bright children (or any child) and had serious reservations about sending her there, which is why my initial plan (after researching this for about two years) was to homeschool, with the exception being that if she herself wanted to go to school. I was okay with sending her, but that was also partially because I was also willing to take her out at any time - she didn't have to stay if it wasn't all she had hoped it would be.

But then as the time drew closer and closer and the serious life-altering changes this would mean began to sink in, she reconsidered. Seriously reconsidered. This would mean an earlier bedtime than the rest of the family, no more staying part of the week at the farm, no more "mommy days" in the middle of the week, no more trips to spend one-on-one Grandma Martha time, no more homeschool group, no more classes at Highfield Discovery Garden, etc., etc. We had, of course, explained all of this to her a while back, but the closer it loomed the more real it became. We told her way back then that if she decided she didn't want to go to school right now (she can always go later) that we had other options.

So of course, here it is, a week before school starts, and I have been frantically exploring those "other options" at the last minute, because she has decided that she isn't ready to be away from her family that much, and I totally understand that. Full-day kindergarten is the option here, unless we can come up with a whole lot of money to pay for something else, and even if we could (or could find something inexpensive that is up to our standards) she is strongly preferring to "do school on the computer."

To be clear, the curriculum isn't all on the computer, either. Though you log in to get assignments, track attendance, and turn in some homework, most of the education occurs off-line, either reading books, doing traditional workbook pages, hands-on experiments (for science), art projects, etc. She will actually get a wider range of subjects doing it this way, since in the physical school the teacher was very clear that only reading and math were taught every day, though she tried to work science and history into the lessons a couple of times a week. On-line, since the teacher is not working alone to educate a whole room full of kids, there are more opportunities for other subjects, and even though Ohio doesn't require (and thus doesn't financially subsidize) art and science, we can choose to add those subjects on to her curriculum for a nominal fee, which we are definitely opting to do.

I think this is a really neat option. In Ohio, you can enroll in "public school" online, which means you get all of the materials, lessons, access to a teacher, etc., for free - they'll even give you the computer and printer and partially pay for your internet access. This is a wonderful option for people who travel a lot, or have physical issues that make being in school difficult, or who have learning disabilities, or who are gifted - basically anyone who is not going to benefit from moving at the "average pace" of everyone else and/or who has (or prefers) a non-traditional school schedule, which would definitely be us. :<)

The great thing about this (to me) is that she can work at her own pace - my biggest fear about being in a "regular" school was that she would be held back by the pace of the rest of the class. Both my husband and I struggled with this as students when we were young, and given her academic interest and abilities, I fear that she would end up in the same very bored boat. There were times when I could work at my own pace (and get out of my way when that was possible!) but those times were few and far between. I so wanted an option when I was younger where I could just go, go, GO! as fast as I wanted, and with this program, she can do that. I am perfectly happy to send her to college as young as she is ready to go (I know how since I started when I was fifteen) and to let her excel at whatever rate suits her.

To me, this combines the best of regular school and homeschooling, and she is so excited about the idea. We can enroll her in music, art, and dance classes outside of school (she has already taken gymnastics, yoga, art, swimming, ballet, tap, and soccer anyway) and we will also start a foreign language program this fall as well. (The public online school doesn't offer it as an option until third grade, and she wants to learn Spanish now, and Chinese as soon as possible.) We can continue to participate in the homeschool group for ongoing social opportunities with a group of other children, and I will consciously look for regular opportunities for her to have social interactions, which we already do anyway. Her social skills are beyond her chronological years at this point, and despite the common fear, homeschooled kids (statistically speaking) have higher than average skills in this area, as well as in academics. Who knows - maybe at some point she will want to go to school in an actual building, but for now, we are all pretty excited about this option.

And in just a few weeks, the real fun begins…..
Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
2:40 am
Logic
I am feeling tired today in general, and then just had a rush of a sort of slumping, tired, exhausted, bored, head-shaking, go on to do better things-ed-ness tonight. I am tired of faulty logic. It is exhausting me, probably because I am more exposed to it now than at any time in the past twenty years. I am open to different perspectives, I genuinely am, but I am feeling frustrated and bored with the ways in which these perspectives are often presented. I am tired of personal attacks (or impersonal, as they address anyone who believes X, Y, or Z as an idiot), either/or thinking (either you agree with me or you're a communist), or these simplistic, not very well-reasoned "there is only ONE way to fix this!" solutions to problems it is clear that the speaker could not begin to address, even if he or she rubbed both of his or her brain cells together really, really fast.

I apologize - I don't usually fall into this sort of ranting, but dang -- this is not secret knowledge. If you're going to make a point, make it in a logical, reasonable, well-thought out manner. Heck, that will HELP your "side" in the long-run. These emotional appeals may "work" but only for so long and only with a particular segment of the population. And I'm not saying that emotional appeals don't have their place, but in order to make a point, they must also be backed by actual reasoning and logic THAT IS COHESIVE.

Monkeys. What are you going to do?

PS - Here are two basic sites that I enjoyed:

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mathew/logic.html

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/
Monday, August 3rd, 2009
2:48 am
Bodies In Motion
I placed it face down on the grocery store check-out conveyer, hidden under the twenty-four pack of environmentally friendly toilet paper, hoping (for some reason) that no one would know I was making such a purchase. Then, when I got home, I found myself hiding it in the bathroom, always face down, this time underneath my dad's custom hot rod magazines; perhaps, if found, other family members would think it belonged to him.

This is about the time that I noticed -- hey -- I'm being secretive. How odd. I am not easily embarrassed, but something about this recent purchase clearly went against my self-perception and fell outside of what I considered acceptable or normal behavior for myself.

Hi. My name is Fyshmom, and I bought a fitness magazine. (I'll wait for the supportive applause; thank you for your acceptance and understanding.)

Welcome to my new obsession. This is an addiction I've been trying to cultivate for some time, and had actually made progress in that direction prior to the very difficult and painful pregnancy this past year that led to nearly six months of immobility, two of which were spent in a wheelchair TOTALLY immobile. Before that, I had joking referred to myself as "pre-buff" as I was lifting weights a couple times a week and doing three or four hours a week of aerobic exercise. At this point I am perhaps "pre-pre-buff" though working very hard to get back to "pre-buff" as soon as is reasonably possible.

For my birthday, I bought a cheap, old, used bike from Craig's List and have been using it at least three times a week ever since. I am really enjoying biking, and am casually looking for a (cheap, used) mountain bike to keep out at the farm and ride through the fields when I'm here, since riding on the roads (too much traffic driving too fast) doesn't really appeal to me at the moment. On the days I can't bike, I walk, and on Thursdays I dance; I've even started to wear wrist weights as part of my Gothic Aerobics workout. I've also started doing yoga again, crunches (I *must* get my core, abs, and back muscles strengthened if I'm going to haul around this gigantic baby and not injure myself), wadon exercises (learned when I was taking Tai Chi), and various stretching and toning exercises that I can do around the house in my spare time. Tomorrow I'm going to rejoin the local recreation center with weight room and hope to lift at least once, hopefully twice, a week.

I am *so* loving doing all of this - it feels really, really good. If I miss a day, I can tell, and part way through the next day I am starting to go a little nuts. Any time I have a few minutes during the day, I do something -- maybe a few sets of the Salutation to the Sun, or five sets of crunches, or a few hip stretches. I have been moving toward "moving all the time" for a few years now, but with pregnancies and how much time I have spent sitting still nursing babies, it has been a difficult habit to cultivate, but now it seems to be working.

I've also been working on changing my diet -- not "dieting," per say, but changing my diet. I am going for something reasonable that I can maintain long-term, not something that will just work to take weight off as quickly as possible. My dream-goal is to be one hundred pounds lighter a year from my son's birth than I was right before he was born, and at this rate, I think I can get there, or if not, pretty darned close.

So yeah - I bought a fitness magazine -- wanna make something of it? I have to say that I actually learned at least ten valuable things from it that I have used in my day to day eating and working out. I am pleased that the tips it gives always seem to come from a *health* perspective, rather than a "lose weight quick" perspective, and that they also include a lot of advice for "normal" people who are looking to live a bit healthier and fitter life. In fact, I liked it so much that I subscribed to it. Now it will be sent straight to my front door, thus saving me the embarrassment of hiding it in the grocery store under the toilet paper. Hmm…. perhaps I could request that it be sent in a plain brown wrapper……
Monday, June 15th, 2009
6:57 pm
Pagans, Music, and a Water Park
As predicted, we had a LOVELY time this weekend. My Hubby had the opportunity to perform with the band he plays/sings with at an outdoor festival outside of French Lick, IN, so we took the whole family (including my mom and a friend of hers) and rented a suite at a nearby resort for the weekend. I love French Lick, as does my mother - it is full of gorgeous resorts. (These two are probably my favorites, though where we stayed is much more fun with the kids.) As the festival was an 18+ event, we left all three kids with my mom and her friend while we headed out of town -- waaaaay out of town -- for the performance and the beginning of the bonfire.

It was an adventure -- those were, hands down, the most inaccurate directions I've ever tried to follow, and this is coming from someone who has successfully followed a map that I found printed on a placemat into the middle of the desert to find a very remote natural twin arch. (The map was relatively accurate, though wildly NOT to scale.) These directions, however…. wow. They sucked -- even The Navigatrix (that's me!) couldn't make any sense of them. They said to turn at the second right on a road that had NO right turns off of it (the road actually dead-ended into other roads twice, and we needed to turn left the first time and right the second time) and then told us to turn left (it was actually right) onto an unnamed road down which we would find the place. I am truly amazed that we found the place at all -- it was only because my Hubby finally suggested that perhaps others might think of the first road as "continuing to the left" as the same road (rather than ending, which is what it actually did) because it was paved to the left and gravel to the right. The second road that dead-ended, we should take a right, pretending it was "the second right" and then see what happened. Luckily, there was a large sign where we needed to turn next (right, not left) and from there it was easy. Instead of taking fifteen minutes, it took more than an hour, so instead of being a half an hour early, we were twenty minutes late. No worries -- they were on pagan time, so they had only done one song when we arrived amidst a great cloud of dust and barking dogs.

The show was great, as I figured it would be (which is why I wanted to go so much) and I managed to dance barefoot on uneven ground without falling on my ass, which was nice. It was weird, though -- when I started dancing, no one else was, and when I get "in the zone," I don't pay attention to anything outside of my little bubble of reality unless I have to. By the time I noticed other people moving somewhere nearby, I looked up and there were about thirty people dancing on the lawn where none had been before. And of course, being at a festival like this, it was an interesting menagerie -- some had horns, others wore capes and makeup, others had big, fancy, jingly dresses, others only wore tattoos. (The whole place is clothing optional.) Near the end of the performance, the band came off the stage and started a drumming procession around the entire grounds with everyone else following. The procession ended at the bonfire where there was a ritual (this is when I kept expecting the locals to jump out of the bushes screaming about satan and open fire), and they lit the pile of wood with a big flaming sword. Then the feast -- yum! Afterward there was more drumming, and we left shortly thereafter -- as there were no kids allowed, I had to get back to feed the baby before my breasts exploded.

The water park rocked as well. The girls had so much fun -- we were able to stay there for two days in a row as part of our package, so even though we only spent one night, they got to play there for two days. Our suite was nice enough, with plenty of space for everyone (we could have fit two more people comfortably) and the food, etc., was very reasonably priced. It was on top of this big wooded hill right across from my other two favorite places in French Lick, and I was glad to see that the town is now prospering nicely. (It seemed nearly abandoned when I was there four years ago, i.e. before the casino was built.) We picked up a few "adult beverages" on the way back to the hotel from the festival to share with my mom and for me to enjoy while I lounged in the tub. Ahh… that's what I call vacation.

I look very forward to making this an annual event. The band my Hubby sings with has played there every year, so next year we will probably all go and do largely the same thing, though hopefully we can stay longer as the baby won't be nursing quite as often by then. So many of our friends from Cincinnati go to the festival, and it was fun to see them there. And of course, I *love* dancing outdoors, especially when my favorite band is playing. All in all, it was a great trip -- I can't wait to go back!
Thursday, June 11th, 2009
5:01 pm
TV Blackout
For some reason, I find this whole thing amusing. The language used seems to imply that losing television is some big national tragedy, that the "unprepared" viewers are in some ambiguous danger. I would love to see ALL television signals change to static…. oh, wouldn't that be nice! I was disheartened to learn that cable and satellite viewers wouldn't be affected, since I know my father hasn't gotten any kind of converter box for his set. I was hoping that the Fox News broadcasts would magically transform into static tomorrow, but alas… it seems my little fantasy will not come to fruition.

I've always had this dream that someday something would happen to television and make it suddenly not work anymore on a mass scale. I would love to see the dazed and confused masses stagger out of their living rooms, blinking in the sunlight, to actually interact with reality and each other sans televised mediation. However, this doesn't seem to be my chance for that. Drats. Perhaps I will actually have to get together a guerrilla band of door to door monkeys to forcibly break into people's homes, grab their sets, and run away with them. (Piling them onto the Monkeytruck, of course.) Until then, I'll just keep my ear plugs nearby, shoving them into my ears so as to avoid whatever televised tripe passes for "news" on the shows my father watches.
Wednesday, June 10th, 2009
2:41 am
Lucky I Like This Job!
I'd like to say that I've been on the go since 7:30 in the morning, though that would imply that there was some sort of break prior to that, which would be inaccurate. Last night's post appeared around two-thirty in the morning; I'd like to say that I got some sleep after that, but that would likewise be inaccurate. A couldn't sleep, and by the time she did, M woke up itchy. After she went to sleep on the couch, the baby woke up hungry. Then, he pooped. (Pay attention: This is a recurring theme.) Shortly after that, the alarm went off and…. here I am, about a day later.

I took my Hubby to work this morning after which I met up with my mother-in-law for a very extended breakfast/brunch/lunch and baby visit, then off to the pediatrician's for the baby's two month check-up. (Twelve pounds, ten ounces and nearly two feet long - I thought he was getting big!) After that, I had various errands to run and came up with a plausible reason to stop by our house in town, where I promptly fell asleep for an hour while nursing the baby. (He was hungry - that was my reason.) Then, more errands, back to the farm, dinner, baths, three loads of laundry, bed, etc. As soon as this baby (currently nursing on my lap) falls asleep, then seriously - I'm off for a nap.

Today was largely brought to you by the letter "poop." It all started around 6:30 a.m. and continued periodically and with regularity up until about ten minutes ago. For those of you on Facebook, you may recall an update last week that mentioned "an epic diaper fail." Well, that was nothing. (Or comparatively nothing.) Today I experienced a major, gigantic, super epic fail, in pubic no less. My MIL and I were enjoying our breakfasts (as were many other people sitting at tables nearby) when we heard that telltale sound. No surprise - it's a baby after all. But then we heard another. And another. And another… which was when I noticed that his outfit was changing colors. (It's that damn cursed cute dinosaur outfit - every time he wears it, some sort of gastric explosion occurs.)

Crap. (literally) I scooped him up and quickly trotted through the restaurant, attempting to loosely cover him (I didn't want it on the blanket, too) and made my way to the restroom. That's when I assessed the damage: Wow -- what a mess! He was covered from almost his hairline in the back down to his toes - he even had it in one of his armpits. I laid out the changing pad on the little fold-out table and opened my wipes, only to find that there were only TWO left. (You can't tell how many are in there until they're just gone.) Luckily -- and this was the one saving grace of the day -- this restroom had paper towels instead of hand dryers; if all I'd had was some hot air, I don’t know what I would have done. As it was, I had a HUGE mess -- I seriously considered just dunking him in the sink. I also didn't have any plastic bags with me for his clothes, and considered just tossing the cursed cute dinosaur outfit in the trash (as it has been thrice besmirched), but just couldn't quite bring myself to do it. Instead, I wrapped it (and my changing pad) in paper towels, loosely covered it with the aforementioned blanket, took the baby (in his new, equally cute, though not yet cursed outfit) to my MIL, snuck to the van to find a bag, hid the evidence under the seat, then went back inside to wash my hands up to the elbows with about a pint of anti-bacterial blue foamy soap before returning to our table to finish the half of a waffle that had been waiting for me during this little gastrointestinal adventure. I am grateful that I found this amusing, and just par for the course, rather than stressing about it as I perhaps would have two babies ago. Ah, well -- sometimes they explode.

Throughout the day, he periodically exploded again, though never in the epic proportions of the highly detailed incident mentioned above. It took me ALL DAY to run my errands because wherever I went, he would poop again. Luckily, one of my stops was at a place that carried baby wipes, so I was much more prepared for future inevitabilities. (My MIL gave me some tissues, too, just in case I needed them before I could become adequately equipped.) FINALLY, I got home, whereupon he and I received a much needed bath. Now he is peacefully nursing (after pooping two more times) and wearing the little hat that I put on his head after baths that makes him look like The World's Cutest Garden Gnome.

For the second night in a row, the whole family is sleeping behind a "duck blind," i.e. a sheet stretched between the girls' top bunk bed posts to the far side of the crib that is attached to our queen-sized bed, which is where we all end up actually sleeping anyway. A diligently keeps her eyes open for a very long time looking for ducks, and insists that we keep our legs pulled inside so that they don' see us - she has this nature watcher thing DOWN. It all started as an amusing ruse to get the kids to bed, but now it seems at least semi-permanent. It's kind of like sleeping in a cave -- we keep a red lava lamp on at night so that I can see the baby for nursing, and it makes the whole "duck blind" glow red. My Hubby had to ask A to scoot over tonight so that he could "crawl in here with [his] whole weird family."

So that's my day…. so far. I'm not sure exactly when it will end (the day, that is) but I hope it is soon(ish). I'm lucky I like this job and my co-workers so well because damn -- I sure do put in a lot of hours. :<)
Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
2:35 am
Summer
I am so loving summer this year. Of course, it isn't really hot yet, and I don't like that, but I am hoping to "work up to" dealing with the heat gradually by spending a lot of time outside everyday until then. I'm don't have a lot of faith that this method will actually work but 1) the weather is great now so I may as well enjoy it and 2) I can't think of any other technique that might work better.

I'm really excited that only a month after getting out of the wheelchair, I am exercising as much as I have been. I started the week after Memorial Day and went from walking once, very slowly, around the field to walking a couple of miles by last Saturday. I'm walking every day, and over the weekend, walked significant distances all three days. My Hubby gets off of work early of Friday, so it is like two and a half day weekend, if not a three day weekend, every week.

The girls are riding bikes now, so we hit the bike trails with them on wheels, me pushing the baby in a stroller, and my Hubby keeping up with the girls (he's on foot, mind you) and helping push them up the big hills. Luckily, A's tricycle is rated for three hundred and fifty pounds for some reason, so he can hop on and coast down the hills he helps her up. One day, our five year old actually went almost a mile on roller skates, at which point everyone switched gear -- she put on her sister's shoes and rode the bike, my Hubby carried the baby, and A (who is now four) got into the very tiny stroller (barefoot since her sister had her shoes) while I pushed her and the stashed roller skates the mile back to the van. It was great fun, and quite funny, though next time we take a bike path next to a river, I'll bring bug repellent.

I'm also really enjoying spending so much time with the kids, and with the whole family in general. I'm finally getting some of my energy back after that very challenging pregnancy and delivery, so parenting is becoming FUN again, rather than just exhausting. I love the walks we take together every night around the farm -- the kids pick flowers, we stop to eat mulberries (later in the season it will be raspberries, and then blackberries), and we often see dear, rabbits, lightning bugs (as of tonight), and of course cats. We've planted flowers, watermelons, and zucchinis, and have three litters of kittens. There is food fresh from the garden and about a hundred and fifty acres to roam around on. I just love being out here with the kids -- it reminds me so much of when I was a kid, doing more or less the same things, in exactly the same place.

I ended up not being able to do the independent study writing project over the summer, mostly because we don't have the money. Even with help from my mom, it was just too much $$$ to raise. So, oh well - I'll save it for a semester when I have financial aid. That said, there is nothing to keep me from working on it now, doing research, and getting some of the writing done in advance, so that is my goal. However, mostly I've been focused on the above, i.e. on getting my body back into a healthy, mobile state and spending a lot of quality time with my family. I think that both of these things are intensely important, and given that I will start back to school in the fall (as will M!) I really value the time we all have together.

The baby is doing great, getting bigger all the time, and the girls are enjoying the summer, taking swimming lessons, and doing the above all day long. I have help from my Blessed Teenager (the girl who has helped me with the kids for the past four years) four days out of the week, so integrating the newest member of our family hasn't been overwhelming, thank heavens. All in all, things are going very well and I am thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. The more energy I have, the better I feel, and the more I want to do to generate more energy. Now this is a feedback loop I can live with.
Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
3:04 am
Pieces of Mind
I realized something driving home from the grocery store in the fog a few minutes ago -- I think that I am losing my mind. Not all of it, just some parts that haven't had the chance to run around out in the world for a bit. And not "lost" them actually, but rather temporarily misplaced them for lack of use.

I have to say, I really do enjoy the "finding old friends I haven't seen for fifteen years" aspect of Facebook, but it has also led to a near total cessation of blogging. Add to that the time pressures of the past two semesters of graduate school (which I love, by the way) and you have a person who has not journaled or done creating writing pretty much at all for months. Given my particular textual proclivities, I'm shocked that I have only misplaced parts of my mind rather than lost it all out, as in all of it at once, in a rather loud and troublesome sort of way. The creative writing is still difficult to pull off, as I haven't actually had uninterrupted alone time for….. gosh, months. But blogging -- that I can do, especially now given that the baby is old enough to nurse on my lap without needing any assistance, as he is happily doing now as I type this.

I'm still at the farm, since it is just so much easier to take care of all of the kids out here -- the house is MUCH bigger and the "yard" encompasses about 150 acres. There is room to run, room to plant things, room to play indoors when it rains, a sandbox, a pool, a jungle gym, and kittens, not to mention extra hands to help out entertaining / feeding / bathing the kids. When M starts kindergarten in August, we'll be out here a lot less, so we're doing it while we can. Besides, I *hate* the pollution in the city in the summer -- this is sometimes our summer home anyway.

Soon, though, I *must* have my house back, at least one or two days a week. We need a couple of days to catch up on things around the house (like throwing away everything in the fridge and mowing the yard -- yikes!) but then we'll probably be back there two or three days a week -- just enough to have some alone time together. (Living with one's parents is not conducive to certain types of intimacy, IF you get my meaning.) I also look forward to some time alone to write -- even two or three hours a week would be really, really nice at this point.

On another note, my grandmother was very ill for several weeks recently. She is doing much better now and is out of the hospital, but this has meant that my mother has not been home (as in at the farm where we are) for the same amount of time. She is coming home for a few hours at a time, which is nice -- I really missed her, especially during finals week. (That was crazy! But I got everything done on time anyway.) My grandmother seems to have finally quit smoking with this past illness, which is one of the reasons she is feeling so much better -- 65+ years of smoking on top of pneumonia does not feel good. It also makes me so very grateful that I quit -- I can't imagine how my body would feel if I still smoked. Recovering from this pregnancy has been difficult enough; I'm glad that I don't have that to add to it.

School went very well -- I miss it SO MUCH when I'm not there! At the moment, I'm trying to get the $$$ together to do an independent study writing project over the summer. I didn't think it would happen, but as of just a couple of days ago, it looks like it probably will…. as long as the professor who agreed to supervise the project is still interested for the summer. I also have other projects I would like to do, mostly sending out things that are already written. Oh - and I'm working on writing several book reviews for a new book that has come out recently. I'll also be conducting the all faculty training for the college where I work (though I'm still on leave at the moment) on classroom applications of Nonviolent Communication -- that will be in a little less than a month. Then, sometime later (summer or fall, I'm not sure which) I may have the opportunity to teach my Compassionate Parenting workshop to parents who have been incarcerated but who are now trying to reacclimate to life outside of that. I am really excited about all of these upcoming opportunities!

My youngest daughter (typically referred to here as "A") just had her fourth birthday party this past Saturday. She had a princess theme, complete with the big castle cake. We had the party at Totter Otterville, which I highly recommend: No set up, no clean up, and the hostess ran the whole show. I only wish that they had a liquor license for the parents -- I was craving sangria the entire time for some reason. I had such a great time, as did she and all of the other kids. I just love that kid so much!!!! I can't believe she's four, but on the other hand, I can't believe she's ONLY four -- she knows an incredible amount, and has the most amazing mind.

M (my oldest daughter) will be starting kindergarten at a primary school that focuses on arts in August. This is wholly her decision, as anyone who knows me knows that I have very mixed feelings about institutionalized education, especially (gasp!) anything in the public school system. However, she chose this school herself and has never wavered in her desire to go there, so that looks like what we'll be doing, at least for now. She knows she doesn't have to stay there if she really doesn't like it, but at the moment she is looking so forward to harp, dance, percussion, chorus, violin, etc., lessons, that I think it may take quite some time before she becomes disenchanted.

The baby is HUGE and growing by the day -- he is already the size that our middle child was when she was about six months old. (M was a preemie, so she was probably nine months old before she was this size.) He is really interactive and smiley -- we all love him quite a bit, and his sisters are just as happy actually having him here as they thought they would be. He sometimes has some difficulty falling / staying asleep (my Hubby is walking him around right now) but once he's out, he's OUT. Last night he slept for about seven hours without waking up, which is unheard of for a baby in our family -- I had to get up and pump part way through it so that I didn't explode. :<) I can't believe how cute he is -- though it was very challenging to get him here (i.e. the pregnancy and the birth) I am so happy that he's here now.

Anyway….. that is my update in a nutshell. I plan to be back here more often doing this, as it is one of the ways that I keep track of what I do when; it is a diary, it just happens to be public. I'll be back…. SOON.
Saturday, April 25th, 2009
4:39 am
Bikes
My kids have reached another milestone; today (or technically yesterday -- I haven't slept yet) my kids got their very first *real* bicycles, with training wheels, baskets, bells, the whole nine yards. They have been wanting bikes for the past few months, but we kept explaining to them that it really didn't make sense to get bikes when it was cold outside, but as soon as it was warm, we'd get bikes.

As you've probably noticed, it's warm outside now, so we decided it was time. They test-drove a couple in the store the other night when we took a late night, right before bed run to the nearby gigantic supermarket + everything else store. It was fun to watch them riding around the store in their pajamas, and though they enjoyed the bikes, they weren't exactly what they wanted. (The one that was M's size, for instance, was a princess bike, and she is NOT into princesses.) My Hubby told them that they could look at other bikes in other places, so today (um, yesterday) he took them out shopping while I stayed home to work on my research papers.

In the little town near my parents' farm (where the kids and I are still staying and where my Hubby stays with us four or five days out of the week depending on how early he has to be at work the next day) there is a locally owned bicycle retail and repair shop. A few years ago, we bought my adult-sized tricycle there (it has a bell!) and remembering that, my Hubby stopped there first. He wasn't really expecting to find anything there, but the owner actually had five kids' bikes in the back that had been floor models at a bigger store (the old price tags were still on them) that he was selling for $20 a piece. The girls saw them and immediately ran to the one that each of them wanted. SOLD!

Then he took them out riding at a big park nearby -- they rode the entire three-mile fitness loop, which is pretty impressive, given that they've never ridden that far, nor do they have much experience bike riding other than their tricycles from years previous. They had a great time and LOVE their bikes; I am surprised that they agreed to go to bed without sleeping with them. (They actually rode them around inside my parents' house after they got back here.) Tomorrow, they want to ride some more, so the bikes will go along wherever they go, though I am curious how sore their butts will be after that much time on bicycle seats. :<)

So, another milestone met. Sigh. How quickly they grow up!!!!!
Sunday, April 5th, 2009
12:39 pm
Thank Heavens It Isn’t the Nineteenth Century
First, the statistics: Branneth Robert was born on Friday, April 3rd at 6:29 pm. He was 9lbs 13oz and 22 inches long. He is doing great and is totally bonded with his Daddy – it is my husband who can always calm him down if he gets fussy, as in instantly. We are still in the hospital (more on that later) but will be going home later today.

Now, for the rest: I went in to the hospital Friday morning on pretty much zero sleep. I chose to stay up finishing the homework that was due for this upcoming week so that I didn’t have to worry about school work immediately after giving birth. I tried to sleep for a couple of hours afterward, but with one thing and another (getting up to the bathroom, occasional contractions, and overall discomfort), it just didn’t happen. We arrived at the hospital, got checked in, did all of the preliminary stuff (for instance, I needed a round of antibiotics and a two hour wait first), and then my midwife broke my water around 1:30 pm.

For an hour, nothing happened. I ate a snack, talked with my husband, updated my mother, and waited. At 2:40, I got up to go to the bathroom; that was when the first contraction started. Unlike other labors which started gradually and built up, the very first contraction lasted nearly three minutes and was quite intense. I made it back to bed once it passed, and had another of similar duration ten minutes later. The next wasn’t quite as intense, but then they started in earnest.

From that point on, the rest is one big blur of near constant contracting. Unlike other labors where I’ve had building contractions with a break in between, this time the contractions were hard, heavy, and nearly constant. I wanted the labor tub NOW so at some point they wheeled it in, struggled with the plumbing, and eventually filled it up. (I know somewhere in the back of my mind that this happened, but I was wholly focused in my body by this point, so these events are somewhat a matter of abstraction to me.) Eventually, the tub was finally, and during the thirty seconds between contractions, my husband and doula supported me enough to get me at least to the steps, where I had another contraction that left me there for a bit. In the tub, I couldn’t even get to the part where I was supposed to sit – the contractions were just too much. The midwife checked me and found that I was totally dilated, and I was feeling like I really, really needed to push. So, because we were in a hospital, I had to get out of the tub to do that. (I couldn’t possibly have the baby in the water – heck no – that would be too pleasant.)

Did I mention that I had been screaming my head off, almost constantly, from the first forty-five minutes onward? Unlike other labors where I was very much able to “relax through the pain,” this one was very, very, VERY much more intense. I am sure that anyone walking down the hallway, or even coming onto the delivery floor, will never ever attempt an unmedicated birth after hearing that. I was seriously screaming, A LOT, and very, very loudly. (The muscles in my neck are still sore.) I am also surprised that neither my husband nor doula were physically injured by me – I was hanging onto them for dear life in any way that I could, using them for support, and squeezing whatever parts of them that I could grab onto.

I always keep my eyes closed during deliveries – it helps me stay focused – so I have no visual recall of what was happening. I was able to note the sort of random flickering slide show in my mind that happened through the whole thing – just millions of flashing images one after the other. It was a really intense neurological state (it always is) and I remember thinking (perhaps the only discursive thought I had the entire time) that I wondered if this is what was meant by “seeing your whole life flash before your eyes.”

So, back to the delivery….

Despite the fact that I had been fully dilated and ready to push, the baby just was not coming down nearly as much or as quickly as I would have liked. (Every one of them has gotten sort of stuck in the same spot for a while – this one was just much more noticeable because of how intense and close together the contractions were.) I pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed and PUSHED but he didn’t move from the +2 stage where he sat for a while. (Remember, I am screaming this entire time.) We tried different positions, but nothing was getting him to move. I was getting pretty exhausted at this point – the exertion was more intense than I can adequately put into words (at least right at the moment) and I was starting to get really fatigued. Still, no more movement down.

The midwife at one point suggested a couple of options – keep pushing, or perhaps try an epidural to see if that let me relax enough for the baby to drop down. Though I had been wanting (and perhaps screaming for?) an epidural for quite some time (it was too late by that point – everyone thought that the baby would be there before the anesthesiologist) actually faced with the option of having one, I realized that I didn’t want one, not because of the pain level (oh heck yeah – I would have had that end in a second) but because I feared it would lead to a c-section, and that freaked me out more than any level of pain that I was experiencing. So, I decided to push – I mean really, really push – and that baby WAS going to come out.
And eventually he did, but oh what a struggle. I have to admit that I had some pretty serious doubts along the way as to whether or not he was going to be able to make it out, and I can’t begin to describe how relieved I as when he did. I remember thinking and /or saying over and over how glad I was that it was over. I was really, really shaky and just felt like hell, which is NOT how I usually feel after birth. I couldn’t begin to take care of him or think about nursing right away, and I was certainly not making jokes and asking for a sandwich. (Again, this is usually how I am minutes, if not seconds, after birth.) From the first contraction until the birth was a little less than four hours, which is why it was so intense and painful. I would WAY rather have a ten to fifteen hour long labor that was gradual and built gently than four hours of that kind of dramatic intensity.

My mom and five year old daughter came in, and actually seeing my daughter calmed me down a lot – I was so happy to see her, and she did GREAT helping me feel better. She told me to take a deep breath, and that she loved me; she sang to me and patted my hand – it was really, really sweet and did genuinely help so very much. She had wanted to be at the actual birth, but considering how it was going, both my husband and the staff at the desk advised against it. It was traumatizing enough for me, and I sure wouldn’t want her to get the idea that all births are like this, because I know darn well that they’re not. Even in the issues that follow, she was so supportive, calm, and loving through it all – she really was a huge help and support to me.

After the birth, I was still having what felt like contractions, and fairly long and painful ones at that. This is somewhat normal in that the uterus shrinks back up and contracts, which is what it is supposed to do. However, this REALLY hurt, more so than usual. When the midwife would try to palpate my uterus, I would start yelling, begging her to stop, and involuntarily grabbing her hand to keep her from touching me – it was just too much pain after too much pain for me to take any more of it. I was also bleeding way too much, and when I tried to sit up (I think they were going to try to transfer me to recovery) I completely passed out. That is the first time in my life that I have lost consciousness that way, and it really freaked me out. I was only out for a moment, but when I came to, I had no idea where I was, who anyone there was, what had happened, how long I had been out, etc. My husband (who had jumped up to catch the back of me so that I didn’t crash into the side of the bed) could see how lost I was and calmly told me what was going on, and eventually it all came back. They slid me back up onto the bed and the midwife checked me again.

I don’t remember the order of things, but at first I was bleeding too much and then, suddenly, I was not bleeding at all. (Some bleeding is normal and absolutely necessary.) When the midwife palpated again, my uterus had distended up higher than it had been / was supposed to be. I wouldn’t say that she became “alarmed,” but it was clear that it was important to her to move very quickly to do something about this. The “something” was a manual sweep of my uterus (we had my mom take my daughter out of the room for this) and the unloading of many handfuls of blood clots and a whole lot of blood. Though this was not a pleasant process, I immediately felt so much relief from the pain that it was really okay. She swept and swept until she had exhausted all that she could reach manually, and she was still afraid that there were more she couldn’t get to. I had an ultrasound very, VERY quickly, and thankfully the doctor only saw one more relatively normal sized clot, thus they didn’t need to wheel me straight down to the operating room to be anesthetized to have the rest removed, which is what they had prepared me for.
During this part, and when I realized that I was hemorrhaging enough that I would probably need a transfusion, I felt more anxiety than I typically feel. I find it disconcerting to ask medical staff straightforward questions like, “Am I in any danger of dying?” and not have them give a straightforward answer like, “No.” Instead I got answers such as, “This is the best place for you to be to have this happening,” and “I haven’t lost one yet.” My husband was more reassuring, and was also able to explain, from a medical / physical perspective, exactly what was going on, exactly why I was going to be okay, but also why it was very important for us to act quickly to make sure that that happened.

Eventually, my blood pressure stabilized and my pulse rate went back down to normal, and we started the process of transferring me to the recovery floor again, and this time without any fainting. We settled in for the night, and though I had been up the entire night previous, I didn’t sleep at all again. (This is also typical for me right after giving birth.) My husband slept pretty well (we had a double room with no one else in the other bed) and so was ready to totally take over baby care once the sun rose and I felt like I could sleep. (Through the night he got up to bring the baby to me when he would awaken to nurse, and then would go back to sleep so that he was ready for the morning. I encourage this as I wasn’t able to sleep anyway.) Through the day I felt really exhausted, kind of dizzy, short of breath, etc., and my blood count levels kept dropping, so eventually I did have the transfusion.

That helped SO MUCH – I can’t believe how much better I feel after that – I can even stand up and walk on my own now, which to me is just amazing. I feel better enough, in fact, that I will be going home later today, or rather going back out to the farm to stay since 1) I am still getting around very slowly and don’t think that I will be able to do steps for a while and 2) there is a whole lot more extra help out there around the clock, which I am going to need. I am still pretty slow, tired, and weak feeling, but am so significantly improved from yesterday (and certainly from the day before) that I can hardly believe it. It’s amazing what a couple of bags of extra blood can do for one’s spirits.

Again, I would just like to give thanks that this is not the nineteenth century – back then, I might not have made it. If not for having a very skilled midwife who could tell what was happening and had the wherewithal to immediately do something about it, or if there had not been the option of a blood transfusion and my blood count had kept dropping… well, I’m just glad that I’m here now.

I’ve been told to take it easy for the next few weeks, eat red meat, and hydrate well. The baby is doing great, and his sisters can’t wait for all of us to be at home (or rather at the farm, which is a second version of home for us). As soon as I eat lunch, have my heparin lock removed, and pack up, we’re out of here. What an “eventful” pregnancy, delivery, and post-partum. Good heavens – I’m ready for some nice, mundane childrearing for a little while, as well as some gratitude for not living in the nineteenth century.
Friday, March 27th, 2009
3:28 am
Pregnancy, School, Job
For the sake of superficial brevity, I've hidden the following behind the cutCollapse )
Thursday, March 19th, 2009
5:12 am
Too Pregnant
Why, oh why am I up??!??!! I *so* desperately want to sleep -- I need to sleep -- and my body is just not cooperating. I specifically spent the night at my house (i.e. not at the farm) hoping that a night in bed without two kids crawling in and out of bed, on top of me, etc., would give me a better chance of sleeping, but alas….. here I sit at nearly five in the morning, still awake. (Did I mention that I have someplace to be in five hours?) This has been going on for DAYS -- I can't actually believe that I am holding up as well as I am considering what my body is going through.

At the same time, this is exactly how it was at the end of my second pregnancy as well, i.e. I couldn't sleep for several days before I went into labor, thus I went into labor on NO SLEEP WHATSOEVER, which was not my preference at all -- that is *a lot* of work to do after having been awake for more than thirty-six hours. I swore that next time would be different, but here I sit.

Earlier today… um, yesterday (it still feels like today to me) I had an appointment with my midwife and found out that I was 4cm dilated and 60% effaced (that's about half way there for those of you playing at home) and that those uncomfortable, crampy things I've been feeling are called "contractions." I don't what it is about me, but I am consistently in denial about contractions -- I always want to call them something else, or pretend they're not happening, or otherwise avoid the fact that my body is getting ready to have a baby.

However, my doula is out of town until Friday, and my Hubby is very busy at work until then (or is supposed to be - obviously he drops everything if I actually go into labor), so it would be much more convenient for my schedule (hahahahahaha) if I could wait until then. (I would also prefer to make it to school tomorrow night.) Thus, I am staying off of my feet as much as possible and really trying to take it easy. This has seemed to help -- there for a while I was having a contraction (short and mild though they were) about every fifteen minutes; now it is mostly only when I stand up, shift positions, walk, or go up stairs.

I also have a homeschool co-op meeting in a few hours, and this week I was one of the moms who was supposed to be leading / bringing activities. We didn't go last week because we spent the whole week out at the farm (I was on Spring Break) so M was really very interested in going this week. As a parent, it is important to me to follow through on the things I say I will do with my kids, so barring actually being in labor / at the hospital, I promised her that we would try to go. My mom is bringing them up to Cincinnati and my Hubby is dropping me (and the wheelchair) off there at ten, then I'll ride back out to the farm with my mom for the afternoon, then to school (my mom will take me) in the evening. If I'm still looking like I can hold out on this labor thing, my Hubby will probably pick me up from school, I'll spend the night in the city again, and will attempt to make it to a faculty training meeting at my place of employment on Friday morning. (I'm on maternity leave right now, but plan to go back about a week after the baby is born.) After that, my doula will be back in town, and I am free to birth any time.

I actually spent a good part of my evening grading papers for a class I haven't taught in three weeks -- I'm not sure how I got talked into that, but mostly I did it out of consideration for my students; I didn't want someone else grading their papers, especially since the person who is teaching the class in my absence is NOT an English person. It was about the last thing I wanted to do right then (that is when I was still having contractions and trying to get all of my stuff in order in case I gave birth tonight) but it's done now, and hey -- I'll get paid. Then I cut out construction paper flower parts for the homeschool group tomorrow and my Hubby henna painted my belly for probably the last time. (The henna lasts for about two weeks and I seriously doubt I will go that much longer.) We then ran our final errand, off to the grocery store (I rode one of those spiffy motorized carts) to buy the contraband food and drinks for labor. I'm ALL ready to go to the hospital now -- everything is packed, I am registered at the hospital, my midwives know they will probably see me soon, all grandmas are on alert. Now, just to hold out until Friday AND TRY TO GET SOME REST IN THE MEANTIME!!!!!

So, I guess I'm off to bed to try again. I had some nice, sleepy tea and hopefully that will help a little. I mean, it's not like I'm not TIRED or anything. Ah, hormones….. I wish they'd give it a rest, and let me rest, for just a few hours.
Sunday, March 15th, 2009
4:32 pm
Credit Card Screw
I'm glad to hear that this is being reported. This happened to us TWICE in about a month a few years ago, during the time right after I had the spine injury and was paralyzed, thus we were not thinking about bills for a few weeks. (Literally, only a few weeks -- like three.) It was the financial snowball effect -- we went from having a monthly bill of, oh, say, $200 to them wanting about $600 (again, twice) RIGHT NOW. It sucked, especially given that I had been their customer for almost twenty years WITHOUT ONE SINGLE LATE PAYMENT THE ENTIRE TIME. And especially given that with the medical conditions (and resultant inability to live in our house for several months) we lost five sources of income at the same time.

I will never have a credit card again. Ever. I hate them. They're like crack and now that I'm off of them, I never want another one. (Even Einstein was afraid of the power of compound interest.) If / when the credit card companies ever go belly-up, I will laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and laugh. And laugh.
Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
4:10 pm
Kindergarten
I am feeling a mix of feelings right now…. I went out to lunch today with a good friend of mine; I wanted to interview her for a research project I'm doing. (I'm working on a project called "Trauma and Tradition" about healing trauma through traditional / tribal / ceremonial means and she is a non-Western trauma counselor who uses these types of modalities as part of her practice.) My cell phone rang twice, and both times it was a Cincinnati Public School number, so by the second call, I thought that I should answer it.

It was the school that M is interested in attending calling to say that she has been accepted for the fall for kindergarten. She was on a waiting list, but now if we would still like for her to attend, she's in.

I have such a mix of feelings about this…. I was planning to homeschool (and largely have been doing so, even though she's not technically of school age yet) but then she heard about the School for Creative and Performing Arts, which is combining with this primary school into one gigantic, gorgeous, state of the art building starting in the 2010 -11 school year. (They were hoping to have it open by this fall, but that's not going to happen.) She SO WANTS TO GO THERE -- she has been clear about that repeatedly ever since hearing about it. They offer a lot more art, music, and dance courses than other schools, and have a very high academic rating, way higher than Cincinnati Public Schools in general, but because it is a public school, it is free. They also offer *tons* of after school kinds of lessons in the arts at a very, very reduced price, and she is interested in several of these.

She and I went to visit the school a few weeks ago. It is a gorgeous building (though of course they'll be moving to the new facility after this year) with big, sunlit rooms, Rookwood pottery drinking fountains, hardwood floors, high ceilings, and lovely old-fashioned tile. As far as schools go, it's very nice.

But it's still a school, a state-funded institution, a place where young minds are homogenized into the cultural/industrial soup, where kids are taught to be "good citizens and workers," a place that I am not all that sure I want my kids socialized. There are so many aspects of *school* that I don't like -- having to raise your hand to speak, not being allowed free expression, lining up to go to the bathroom -- heck, even having to ASK to go to the bathroom -- being forced to perform whether you want to or not….. so many reasons that I don't like school, yet she really, really wants to go. I very much value her autonomy, which leads to me not wanting her to go to school (it seems that she will have to give up a lot of that) and also leads me to respect her wishes to go if that is what she wants to do.

I have done so much research in cognitive development, how children acquire knowledge, and various pedagogical styles that I have a hard time sending my kids to anything like a traditional school -- they are just not run the way that makes sense to me, especially not for minds that are somewhat out of the box. I fear that she will lose her intense curiosity and intellectual drive because she will be forced into particular directions. At the same time, it isn't like we can't and won't supplement her education at home -- we do all kinds of educational activities with the kids, and that won't stop just because she is in school.

I will also miss the flexibility of having the part of the week in this place, part of the week in that place, time with each grandma, gymnastics in Indiana (with grandma), trips in the middle of the week, etc. And I'm afraid of the socialization aspect -- very afraid. I don't want my child homogenized!!!!! Right now she's exposed to such a cross-section of society, all ages, all cultures, all sorts of diversity. In school, she's going to be exposed to media culture kids, commercialism, consumerism -- everything I can't stand about our society. Obviously, she would have to confront that stuff someday, but at FIVE I don't think that she has the skills to objectively and critically evaluate that stuff like she would at, say, fifteen.

I've also been looking at backup plans, one in case she didn't get in, and two in case she doesn't actually like it once she's there. (I have assured her that she doesn't have to stay in school if she finds she doesn't like it.) There is a really neat on-line K-12 program that is also considered "public school," which means that the state will totally pay for the whole program, including the computer, internet access, and all textbooks and supplies. I know someone who is using it and they *love* it. We could do that and then let her enroll in any music, dance, or art classes she would like to take -- I've been researching what is available and how much $$ we would have to come up with to accommodate that.

Sigh. It's PUBLIC SCHOOL, something I have spent my life swearing that no child of mine would *ever* attend. But, she wants to go, and I value her autonomy. She is also a kid who may do very well there -- she loves to do things like worksheets and math, she is very social and outgoing, and she gets along well with other kids and adults. She also has a very strong sense of self -- she is not easily led by others into doing something she doesn't want to do and has a strong sense of individuality. Maybe she'll be okay….. but I'm her mom, so I still worry.
Sunday, March 8th, 2009
6:39 am
English Geek
I really am an English Geek. I'm not ashamed. I'll admit it freely.

What am I doing up at half past six on a Sunday morning, you ask? Surely, not GETTING up, heck no -- if I'm up at this hour it is a late night, not an early morning. Partially, I've had a difficult time sleeping anyway; I'm just getting to that part of the pregnancy where sleep is elusive, sporadic, and easily interrupted. But the other part… well, that's where the "geek" thing comes in.

A couple of days ago, I wrote out the research proposal for one of my classes (Native American Literature) so that I could get going on it NOW rather than after the break. Technically, it wasn't due until after Spring Break, but seeing as how I'm due at any time, I really want to stay ahead of the game as much as possible. I'd been kicking around vague, ambiguous ideas for my other class (Nineteenth Century Women Writers) but just couldn't quite hone in on what my mind was really finding of interest. I have already given two presentations about the Women's Sphere during this time and so wanted to incorporate that somehow, but still was wanting to do SOMETHING that pertained to today… and there was something about conflict and integration…. I just didn't quite know.

But then EUREKA! I had it! It came to me all at once, and now seems so obvious -- it is exactly what I am interested in and would like to research; I can't believe that I didn't see it before. So what do I do? Do I let it gel in my head until morning? Do I write it in my day planner for Sunday and then let it go for the night? Heck no -- I jump right out of bed and go write it down -- that's what writers do. (Too bad that I no longer leave the fireman's helmet with spelunker's light hanging on my bedpost so that I can write in the middle of the night without getting out of bed.) It's done, written, and sent to my professor (who may or may not look at it while Spring Break is happening -- that is at his discretion).

Now that my Internal English Geek is satisfied, maybe I can sleep… maybe.
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009
12:54 pm
Pelvis Exchange?
If anyone out there has a pelvis they're not using, I would be open to an exchange. Or, if you'd like to loan me yours for the next month, I'd be happy to accept donations and would return it as little used as possible. Of course, that would mean, ostensibly, that you might have to use mine for the duration of that time, and I really wouldn't wish that on anyone right now. And I'd have to use yours to birth a baby, and you might not want it back after that.

As of Sunday night, I have largely relocated to The Farm with the kids. This house is almost entirely wheelchair accessible, which is where I am spending most of my time now. As of Monday, I am no longer working, and turned over all of my lesson plans, student assignments, etc., to another instructor. This was difficult in that I have so much care and concern for my students and I'm afraid that someone else won't take the time and patience necessary to help them learn this stuff. On the other hand, unless I had an electric wheelchair (which I don't -- mine is the old fashioned kind) and a servant to follow me around and carry all of my stuff, it really isn't feasible for me to keep trying to work. As of mid-last week, I really can't get around much at all anymore.

I am still in school and am really determined to remain so. Tonight, my mom is going to give me a lift to school, and then hopefully I can get one of my classmates to drop me off at the Perkins right off of campus where I will hang out, eat a sandwich, and wait for my Hubby to get done teaching his night class and pick me up. Hopefully, that will work out, or else I'll be sitting in a very empty, very boring campus building for more than an hour -- I'd rather have pancakes.

Last night, about four in the morning, I finally finished my Cultural Analysis paper for my Native American Literature class, which I am really enjoying. This is seriously some of the best modern literature I've read -- I have been so incredibly impressed, and am actually considering changing my thesis idea to something having to do with American literature. (Part of this reason is that I really, really, REALLY don't want to work with the professor they keep sort of shoving me toward if I do James Joyce for a thesis project. I find her very bubbly, exuberant, and totally negative underneath it. I find it draining to talk to her at all -- I can't imagine working with her a lot.) I also actually feel like I could do something worthwhile in this area, as in having an impact outside of just analyzing literature, which is important to me as well.

The paper I just completed was about the issue of rape on Native American reservations. (I started with a gigantic Amnesty International study on the topic.) It is unbelievable -- if a Native woman is raped by a non-Native man (which is the case nearly 90% of the time) then tribal authorities have no jurisdiction whatsoever to prosecute. It then goes to federal authorities, who can turn down any case for any reason without even having to explain why. As you can imagine, they get turned down nearly all the time. This is the case even when a woman has been raped and murdered -- they don't even bother to investigate. Or, if a Native woman is married to a non-Native man, he can severely abuse her for YEARS and no one will do anything about it -- tribal authorities can't because he isn't a Native American, and federal authorities rarely care. I won't even go into the details of some of the cases I read -- it is really horrific and made more so because of how much race is related to whether or not a person is prosecuted. Child-molesters and drug runners have similar "immunity" on Indian territory, and so crime by non-Natives on reservations is really, really out of hand -- there is very little that the Natives can do about it because of the legal quagmire surrounding jurisdiction.

And this is but one issue amongst many. The typical mainstream American person has no idea (and may or may not care) about the awful things that still go on regarding the oppression of Native people in our country. This is something about which I have been aware for quite some time (my Hubby used to be a very vocal activist in this area and still is to some degree) but most people really have no idea -- it's an issue that is largely invisible.

At any rate, my paper is done, and I'm going to start working on my Research Proposal for this class next. I'm going to look at ideas of trauma and ceremony, as in how trauma can be healed through the use of ceremony, both in the literature and in other research I've done in this area. (Remember: I used to be a psych major. I also volunteered for a women's crisis center for seven years, per the other assignment.) I'm excited that I've found a way to combine these areas of interest for me, and again -- it feels more "useful" than just straight, traditional, literary analysis.

So, that's where I am and where I'll largely be until after this baby is born. I am trying to get ahead of my homework, and reacclimating to the wheelchair after two and a half years of being able to walk on my own two feet. Impermanence…. impermanence….. that is my current motto.
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