Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why do I wait until the last minute?

This happens right around every major holiday.  I have a long list of stuff to do, some of which needs to get done, and some of which is just stuff I'd like to get done.  So what do I love to do?  I procrastinate, start in on the stuff that I'd like to get done, and do a half-assed job on the stuff that needs to get done at the last minute.  Every year my holiday season preparations are cut short because we fly out to the midwest to see my in-laws.  I love visiting with them, and we always have a blast there, but I guess I mentally miscalculate how much time I have to do everything because I start thinking about the days until Yule, not the days until the Yule party I'll be attending or the day my flight leaves.

I have a Yule party Wednesday night to go to, and I get on a plane on Sunday morning.  In the meantime, I want to make some chocolates to give out to my friends (who are all leaving for a cabin trip on Thursday and Friday,) get a couple of things from the mall, take back a bra that doesn't fit right before I get on the plane, and get some healthy plane snacks.  I need to make a list of all the groceries we need for the next few days before we fly out (and buy them,) send off the gifts I bought for my family, and clean up the house.  Oh yeah, we're also throwing a New Year's Eve party, even though we're coming back on the night of the 30th.  Yeah, my hubby and I are crazy.  I also need to arrange for a ride to the airport, since we forgot that my brother would be on the aforementioned cabin trip, and wouldn't be home to drive us in the wee hours to catch our plane.

Sigh.  I'm not bitching.  I'm just frustrated with myself.  In my day to day life, I try to get in a half hour of reading and a half hour of spanish with my son, in addition to some counting and physical activity.  I go to the gym or work out at least 5 days a week, and take my sanity time (sometimes by force) when I need it.  Finding time to shower is often difficult, or just seems like a waste of time because I could be relaxing, reading, sleeping, or having alone time with my man.  I wanted to take down my fall harvest decorations (which are still up) and put up some winter ones, and I'd love to finally get to painting some ornaments, a project I started two years ago and never got around to finishing.  Where does all the time go?  How do other moms do it?  I think there's some secret that I haven't been let in on.  Yeah, they're all laughing and waiting for a massive breakdown before they tell me.  Haven't my little breakdowns been enough?  Have mercy and tell me, oh great moms of perpetual sanity!  Or is it that I'm just terrible at putting a good face on my lack of grace?  I'll put my money on the latter.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wholesome family = no TV?

I've watched a lot of programs about "wholesome" christian families and doing that has prompted me to really think about what a wholesome family really is.  The definition of wholesome is:

adj. whole·som·erwhole·som·est
1. Conducive to sound health or well-being; salutary: simple, wholesome food; a wholesome climate.
2. Promoting mental, moral, or social health: wholesome entertainment.
3. Sound; healthy. See Synonyms at healthy.

Since my husband and I believe that morals are dictated by religion and the values of others, while ethics are deep personal convictions about what is right, I'll just substitute the word ethical for moral.  With that substitution, I can agree that this is the way I want my family to be.  I also don't think that one has to be christian to raise one's children in a wholesome manner.  I think that a lot of the things christian parents make their children give up for the sake of "wholesomeness" is unnecessary.  Why is it more wholesome to not celebrate Halloween, or give up scary movies, to wear clothing that covers all of your body from neck to ankles, or to avoid drinking alcohol even in moderation?  I think Halloween promotes happiness and creativity, which is healthy.  Scary movies can cause short bursts of adrenaline and stimulate the imagination.  Wearing revealing clothing (at least for me) can be a boost to the ego when every eye in the room is gazing toward you appreciatively.  And multiple studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption is healthy for the entire circulatory system.  Why are the things I listed generally stricken from the wholesome list while attending church, roasting marshmallows and making smores, and taking a family road trip in an SUV are at the top of the list.  So, closing your children's minds in church, feeding them lots of high fructose corn syrup and carcinogens, and polluting the atmosphere in a gas guzzler are healthful, moral and sound?

I think the rest of us should take back the word wholesome.  As a non-christian parent, I'm offended that the life I am trying to give my child is not considered wholesome because I've chosen to let my child experience more of life.  Fu@k and $hit are the only words I really don't want him to know or say until he's much older.  My son sometimes drops something and says, "Sucks.  Damnit."  I laugh, while others hear it and are horrified.  I am planning to tell him the basic mechanics of human reproduction in the next couple of years, while adding to his knowledge and continuing the dialogue throughout his preteen and teen years.  Well, maybe my husband will have to take over when it becomes uncomfortable for my little man.  I won't let him go to McDonald's or any fast food restaurants, other than the very occasional trip to In-N-Out or Chipotle.  But I am pagan, and therefore my son's childhood is tainted.

I am going to try an experiment.  I never make new year's resolutions, but this year I'm going to try one.  I want to attempt to give up TV for a month.  I think this could give me some real insight, since a lot of "wholesome" families claim that this is one of things they've chosen to do that makes their families closer.  I know that they give it up to push away non-christian influences.  I want to do it to give up commercial influences and to force me to make more time for my child and my own pursuits.  I think at the end of the experiment, I'll watch significantly less TV in general, but that I'll still go back to it.  I think I'll really get back into my writing, spend more time at the park with my son, exercise more, and prepare more elaborate meals.  We'll see.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A review of cartoon features

I will admit that I am a fan of Disney's classic children's movies.  I don't mean the ridiculous straight-to-DVD sequels like Aladdin III or any of the Disney princess series, but the big theatrical productions have usually met my quality standards.  I'm also a fan of Pixar's children's movies and the old Don Bluth films, as well as most of Miyazaki's animated features (of which some are, admittedly, not meant for children.)  My son has just started actually paying attention and watching some movies from beginning to end, rather than catching snippets between snack, playing with stuffed animals, and getting a new diaper.  The fact that he's actually been reciting lines from movies and is clearly getting something out of watching these films has prompted me to review and reexamine some of the children's movies in my collection.

My favorite is (of course) The Lion King.  The circle of life theme really jives with my understanding of the universe, my belief in reincarnation and my deep convictions that all forms of life in the ecosystem must be respected. I'm not a vegan, or even a vegetarian, but I think it's important for children to be raised understanding that their hamburger was once a cow, and that cows deserve respect because we are dependent on animals like them for survival.  Anyway, in exposing my nearly two and a half year old son to my favorite cartoon classics, I'm seeing them with new eyes.  I'm looking for the underlying lessons, making sure that the overall dialogue is not pedantic or in any way talking down to him, and definitely watching for parts that might give him nightmares.  It's kind of surprising, actually.  The Lion King satisfies all my scrutinies, although my husband does not like that the movie essentially endorses monarchies and the idea of "birthright."  Nevertheless, even the scary and sad parts don't bother my son, and he's never had a Lion King themed nightmare or clung to me when the hyenas were chasing Simba.  I really like the character Nala, and how she bitches Simba when he thinks he's so great as a cub, and again when he's being an irresponsible adult.  I love a strong female character who calls out the male lead when he's being an idiot.  Plus, it's my personal favorite, so I don't mind that this is the movie my son wants to watch twice a day.

Aladdin is my husband's favorite Disney movie, and it really bothered him that we didn't have it in our collection.  In fact, there seems to be a huge gender discrepancy between this movie and The Lion King.  Given the choice between the two, the men all prefer Aladdin and the women all prefer The Lion King.  I have no idea why.  So I purchased it last week and it finally arrived last night.  He was so happy and ready to show it to our son that I just had to smile.  But when I came back from the gym, my man gave me a sad shake of the head.  He said that Jafar's snake staff and the voice from the cave of wonders had both terrified our son.  Strange, since I never would have thought of Aladdin as a particularly scary kid's movie.  Anyway, he couldn't even finish the movie, so I can't report on how he handled the end with Jafar's fast-paced attacks on nearly every character in the cast, but I'll assume that when he can handle the rest of the movie it'll be okay to give the end a shot.  It's too bad too, because I approve of the overall message that women are not objects and deserve to make their own decisions.  As a pagan, the magical theme of the movie is appealing, too.

Mulan is another one I really like.  I understand that I will need to present this movie to my son as more of a history lesson in how women were treated, but I like its girl power theme, and how in the end a smart man knows to embrace strong women, rather than be threatened by them.  This movie is also the last movie in enjoyed Eddie Murphy in.  Sigh.  Once again, I was surprised by my son's lack of response to the "scary" parts of the movie.  He wasn't bothered by the Huns or the mystical themes.

Finding Nemo is another movie my son loves.  He loves the fish, isn't bothered by the sharks or the dentist (commendable, since that drill whir makes his mother cringe) and he seems to be really into it when Nemo is reunited with his father.  The theme of this movie is a little harder for me.  Making sure you don't shelter and control your children too much is more of a lesson for me than for my son.  Yikes.

Up is a movie we saw in the theater, and my son's first movie-going experience.  It weirded me out a little that some of the scarier parts of the movie didn't bother him in the theater, but once we owned the movie on DVD he was afraid.  The oddest bits scared him, too.  Kevin, the bird, freaked out my son when she came around the corner.  The dogs with their talking collars (except lovable Doug, of course) made him anxious, and the old man's angry statement that Doug was a bad dog really bothered him.  He was on the verge of crying, and had to be comforted, actually.  None of this was an issue in the theater, but then again, he was nursing or cuddling with me during the entire movie the first time, so that could be it.  Anyway, I like the lesson that sometimes your childhood heros turn out to be douches, and that your life's adventures don't end just because someone important in your life isn't there to have them with you anymore.  Hmm....maybe another lesson for mommy?

Ponyo is my son's second theater experience, and we are still waiting for it to come out on DVD.  It came out this past summer, but he loved it so much that he still talks about it.  We'll be getting it as soon as it comes out on DVD.  That movie was whimsical and interesting without anything in it that I would think of as scary.  Hopefully our home viewing experience will be just as good as our theater one.  I'm not really sure what to take from this movie, but I do like the idea of challenging authority and embracing new experiences.

Spirited Away is, like Ponyo, a Miyazaki film from Japan.  I figured that, if he liked Ponyo so much, we could give Spirited Away a chance.  Bad idea.  All the spirits sent him into a panic, and he watched most of the movie clinging to me while pointing to the screen and asking "What's that?" in a quavering voice. Fortunately, no nightmares resulted, and I was surprised the next day when my son was playing with a plastic alligator that he had named Haku, after the dragon and one of the main characters in the movie.  Maybe this one will be okay in a year or so.  Either way, I think that I would understand this movie and Ponyo both better if I were Japanese.  I am still amused that the main character gets herself in trouble and the only way out is to get herself a job.  This speaks volumes about the differences in the American and Japanese cultures, I think.

I can't even review The Nightmare Before Christmas or Monsters, Inc. because my son couldn't make it through even ten minutes of either movie.  Sadly, it looks like I'll be waiting a year or two before watching these my little man. Either that or I'll be spending a few extra nights sleeplessly comforting a child with nightmares.

The Incredibles is the last of the movies my son loves.  Thank the Goddess, because I love it, too.  I'm ecstatic that there is a movie emphasizing that people who are truly excellent at something should be honored for that, and that bringing them down so that everyone is equal makes no one special.  Another lesson of this movie that deserves a nod is that there are unforseen consequences for even the most well-intentioned actions.  My husband loves that there is a movie that reexamines the superhero, and shows them as mundane people doing laundry, going to work and preparing dinner.  None of the scary parts of this movie bothered my son, but I was upset when I saw my son standing with a squirt gun, legs spread in correct position for shooting, only to realize that he learned this in The Incredibles.

These are all the movies my son has been able to sit through to date.  I'm sure I'll post more as he starts to expand his tastes in movies.

Having a child has made me watch these kid's movies with a more critical eye.  I find myself thinking twice before showing my son movies that I loved and watched repeatedly as a child.  Do the Charlie Brown movies, with the constant bullying and putting down of the main character, make children think that this behavior is acceptable?  Does The Little Mermaid undermine feminism because, in the end, Ariel needs to be rescued by her fairytale prince?  Is The Land Before Time unacceptable because none of the correct names for the dinosaurs are ever used, and dinosaurs from different eras are incorrectly shown as living at the same time?  I wonder how many parents actually think about these things before showing their children these movies.  I am torn whether to show him, and any future children, these films, because I disapprove of censorship just as much as I disapprove of these messages.  Sigh.  This was not in my parenthood manual.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Duggars blanket train? Hypocrits!

Everyone who knows me knows that I have an unnatural fascination with the Duggar family and their 18 (soon to be 19) children.  Most of this fascination comes from their ridiculous version of christianity, but I also like watching them to see how such a large family functions so smoothly.  The kids don't seem to fight very often, their parents never raise their voices, and the household runs like clockwork.  From breakfast over bible passages to Daddy's evening bible reading and bedtime, it just seems surreal.  The kids behave almost perfectly.  Perhaps it's because they're on camera, but I don't think you can get that many kids under the age of 5 to be so good while the cameras are there...and I know TLC would probably refuse to edit out a scene where someone in the family (especially one of the parents) is just losing it.

Then I found an interesting tidbit of information today.  Apparently, the Duggars use something called "blanket training" on their little ones.  Blanket training means placing a baby of crawling age on a blanket on the floor with toys just off the edge of the blanket.  Then, the parent "taps" the edge of the blanket with a rod or wooden spoon as a warning for the child not to get off the blanket.  Then, if the baby tries to get to the toys anyway, the baby gets smacked, usually on the back of the legs, to deter the child from trying again.  Eventually, the kid gets the picture and the parents can do whatever they want while their baby stays on the blanket.  It's cruel, and it reminds me of people crate training their dogs, but a baby is not a dog!  I don't believe in hitting kids, and hitting a baby of that age is just unconscionable.  To be fair, the Duggars claim that they blanket train without the hitting part, but I see no way that this would work.  And if they're lying about that, what else are they concealing about their child rearing?

So, how does this effect me and the world at large?  Why should I care?  Lots of people hit their kids, after all.  This bothers me because so many women watch this show, myself included, and think they are horrible mothers because they cannot measure up to this standard.  It's angering to think that we might be feeling this way because they are raising their children in a more heavy-handed manner than they let on, and that children raised in a more gentle manner are probably a bit more unruly.  I would be talking about my own child here.

Personally, I know I yell a lot less after watching an episode of their show and I feel terrible about my shorter temper for days.  Yet I keep watching.  It's a train wreck, and I do not possess the strength to look away from it.  Either way, I know I'll keep watching, but I may watch with a smirk now when Michelle or Jim Bob Duggar talk about how they raise their kids in such a "godly" manner.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"The Doctors" is an awful show

I have watched the show The Doctors for some time now, mostly for a laugh.  I find a lot of their advice ridiculous, their ideas on a healthy diet laughable, and their views on vaccines deplorably irresponsible.  Of the four doctors on the show, I have always found Dr. Lisa, the Ob/Gyn, to be the most obnoxious.  Now I just hate her.  Today on the show she actually made the statement that she thinks breast milk from a milk bank is not as good as formula.  This woman is off her rocker!  Breast milk is always best!  I will be the first to say that I would feverishly search for an affordable breast milk donor if I could not make my own for my baby.  That "Dr." Lisa thinks that tasteless, store-bought, overpriced paste they sell as a pitiful substitute for breast milk is better than pastuerized breast milk from a donor which had been tested for diseases, is beyond ridiculous.

I already didn't like her before because of her views that homebirth is unsafe, and that flu shots are the saviors of pregnant women.  She also once said that no one should be concerned about the cesarean section rate of their Ob/Gyn, since their c-section rate is exactly what was necessary.  Ugh!  Ricki Lake, a homebirth advocate of the finest caliber, came on the show as a guest and Dr. Lisa actually yelled at her without provocation.  Ricki never raised her voice, and said nothing offensive.  I'm amazed that they even get guests on their show after treating one like that.  Dr. Lisa, I hope you have a life changing experience that shows you the err of your ways.  Otherwise, it might be nice for you to end up with a terrible hospital experience as you are rushed through labor beyond your body's natural pace, at which time your doctor tells you you need a c-section so he won't be late for golf, dinner, or a party that starts in a few hours.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Well, that sucked

I've been keeping track of my ovulation for over 6 months now, and, until this month I had only experienced one incident of ovulating early.  It was an ovulation that happened one day early about 3 months ago.  Luckily, we had only been able to make an attempt to conceive happen 3 days prior to that, so I wasn't in any danger of conceiving a boy at that time.  But it did raise an alarm that early ovulation was  possible.  Now that I think back on it, that happened when I cut my son down to two nursings a day.  Interesting.

Now, this past month, I've cut my son down to one nursing a night.  At bedtime he nurses to sleep.  I know he doesn't do it so much for the milk anymore as for the comfort and bonding.  I'm ready for him to walk away from breastfeeding and not care, but I'm not ready for him to cry and feel deprived and betrayed if I stop nursing him before he's ready.  So, one nursing a night is good for us both right now.

Ugh, in hindsight it makes so much sense.  we cut back on the nursing again and I ovulated early again.  Two days early.  We'd had sex two and a half days prior to when I was supposed to ovulate, which meant we had tried for a child less than a day prior to my actual ovulation.  That's prime boy-making time.  Sigh.

Luckily, I have no compunctions about buying a morning-after pill so that this month is a wash, but not an utter failure in my quest to conceive a girl.  It was $50 down the drain, but that's better than knowingly conceiving a boy and having to have a fight about trying for a girl again.  I took the pill last night, about an hour after ovulating, so the chances that sperm met egg are almost nil.  The chances that the zygote (fertilized egg) had already made an attempt to implant are far less than that.  Still, I think about it and I wonder if I would have gotten pregnant if I'd done nothing.

I'm pretty sure I would have.  My cervical fluid has been of a far better quality this month, and it would not have surprised me at all if a baby had resulted.  Oh well.

I know a lot of people have a serious problem morally with what I just did.  It's interesting, I thought about it and I came to the conclusion that it's better to bring a child into your family under the best possible circumstances, than to just be forced to accept what has come to pass.  I mean, if a pregnancy with a healthy child still results from this week's activities, I would keep it.  I know I couldn't bring myself to abort a healthy baby just because they happen to be the wrong gender.  But terminating a pregnancy before it had begun just doesn't feel wrong to me.  I mean, I just want to make the best attempt I can to bring gender balance to this family.  I'll do what I can to have a baby girl, and hopefully it will all turn out right.

No wonder the Shettles method isn't recommended for breastfeeding women.  It definitely complicates the process and makes it a lot easier to make mistakes.  I should have known at the beginning of my cycle that this wasn't a good month to try.  My period lasted 5 days, and it has never done that before.  I've had a single 4-day period, and all the other periods in my life have been 3 days.  One heavy day, one light, and one very light day.   That's it.  This time I had one heavy day and three and a half light days.  The last half day was very light, but it was annoying.  I know everyone out there who regularly has long periods is rollig their eyes at me right now, but I also have a 24 day cycle, so in the end I think it all works out so everyone deals with the same number of period days per year.

Well, I took my morning-after pill last night and I'm a little crampy this morning.  Maybe next month.  Unless, of course, he stops breastfeeding.  I've learned my lesson now.  Any changes in breastfeeding will result in a month when my husband and I will not be trying.  I don't want to spend $50 on another mistake.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The summer that wouldn't DIE!

It's official.  This is the worst summer since I've been living here (December 1999.)  It's probably the worst summer on record.  I can blame global warming, I can blame the expansion of concrete and blacktop to cover the entire center of the state, but it doesn't really matter when it comes down to it.  What matters is that it was 97 degrees yesterday in Mesa, Arizona.  Yes, you read that right.  Nearly triple digits in November.  We're running our air conditioner right now, and it's almost 8 pm.  What sun god or goddess did I displease...or please too much?  Or is it the gods and goddesses of the cold that I've neglected to worship?  That must be it.  I'll erect my altar to the northern gods tomorrow.

But that doesn't sound right.  The Norse worshipped their gods, trying to appease them into giving them a mild winter.  I want an ice storm in Phoenix that extends to August.  Okay, I'll never get anywhere near that, but a pleasant November where the temperature never rises above 78 would be nice.  Sigh.

It's supposed to cool down by the weekend.  Still, my son is having a hard time understanding why we had the door open to let in the fresh air for a week, and now it's closed all the time again.  I miss it too, son.  I miss it, too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm definitely not pregnant this month...but Samhain was awesome.

So, Aunt Flo is here, for sure.  She arrived on time, with cramps, and she's still here.  Sigh.

I suppose I shouldn't really be disappointed.  Last night, I continued my usual Samhain holiday tradition of divination with my friends.  It's really the best night for it, when the veil between worlds is thinnest.  I get the best and clearest answers (usually) around this time of year.  So I asked if I needed to change anything in my quest to become pregnant with my daughter, and the answer I got was just to be patient.  More than that, my best friend piped up that she'd seen something on the news about the problems pregnant women were having with swine flu.  I figured that they were just getting worse cases than normal, maybe needing help breathing or needing extra fluids and monitoring during their illness.  No, I guess some of them are actually losing their babies.  Yikes!  So, it seems that perhaps something is keeping me from getting pregnant while it's dangerous to do so.  Well, yay them....and I need to learn to calm down about the baby who will undoubtably find her way into my life sooner or later.

I also need to avoid the baby aisle at Target.  All the pink and purple baby booties, hats, onesies, bibs and toys are making me a bit too excited about getting pregnant, and I need to chill out and focus on my health and timing my ovulation right now.  At least I've had enough months to really know, within about 3 hours, when I'm ovulating in a given month.

Anyway, this was all a little too distracting while Samhain was going on.  I love Samhain.  It's my favorite holiday, bar none, of the year.  Christmas/Yule has nothing on Samhain/Halloween and everything else falls so distantly behind that they aren't even in the same category.  I usually spend all month getting ready for it, but this month swine flu interfered.  Regardless, it was still a great Samhain, and an improvement was made this year that I'd like to make into a permanent tradition.  My coven and I celebrated Samhain on the 30th, having our religious celebration and feast separate from the secular, but still fun and important, trick-or-treating and Halloween party of the 31st.  It took so much pressure off to have the two on separate days that  can't imagine willingly going back to trying to cram it all into one day again.

For our Samhain feast every year, we make a stuffed pumpkin.  It's yummy, and looks really cool on the table.  But the first year, when we put way more spices in than the recipe called for, it was the best.  So every year we've added more and more spices to try to get it back to the amazing concoction we first experienced.  Finally, I changed the turkey sausage and ground turkey part of the recipe to good, old fashioned pork sausage.  We've long since decided that the golden raisins in the recipe were worth ditching, and voila....we revamped the awesome Stuffed Pumpkin recipe from The Wicca Cookbook by Jamie Wood and Tara Seefeldt and made it our own.  Here's our version:

Samhain Stuffed Pumpkin

1 medium cooking pumpkin, about 10 inches in diameter
2 large yellow bell peppers, diced
3 lbs mild italian pork sausage
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 c. sliced green olives with pimentos
2 tbs olive oil
2 tsp minced fresh oregano
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp black pepper (we like pepper a lot)
4 cloves pressed garlic
1 14 oz can skinned tomatoes, diced
3 large eggs, beaten

Cut the top off of the pumpkin, clean and remove the seeds and pumpkin guts.  Place the pumpkin in a pot and fill the inside of the pumpkin and surround it with water.  Put 1/4 tsp of salt in the pumpkin and another 1/4 tsp in the surrounding water.  Bring the pot to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the inside of the pumpkin is just tender.  This is the touchiest part of the entire process.  Make sure the bottom of the pumpkin doesn't become mush.  The topmost part will not be as well cooked as the rest.  Keep in mind that the pumpkin will pend another hour in the oven, so it should not be completely cooked yet.  Drain the pumpkin and set it aside.  Cook and slice 1/2 lb of the pork sausage and set aside. Remove the casing from the rest of the sausage, and cook with bell peppers, black pepper, onions and poultry seasoning in a large frying pan with 1 tbsp of the olive oil.  Cook until the sausage is just done, and set the pan aside.
In a large bowl, mix the chopped sausage, oregano, garlic, olives, tomatoes, vinegar, and the rest of the salt and olive oil.  Add to the pan, and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before stirring in eggs.  Fill the pumpkin with the stuffing and cover the top of the pumpkin with aluminum foil.  Bake on a greased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Before serving, remove the aluminum foil and replace the original pumpkin top.  You may also want to "carve" a face into the pumpkin by drawing with knife and a very light touch on the cooked pumpkin and peeling the rind away from the pumpkin flesh.  Enjoy!

My son was Calvin for Halloween.  It was a really easy costume, except that making Hobbes was a biatch.  As all true fans of Bill Watterson know, only two calendars, one very rare T-shirt and one very rare book were ever made with Bill Watterson's merchandising permission (other than the comics, of course.)  Yes, this means the pictures of Calvin peeing on a Ford logo that you see at every stoplight is illegal or manufactured ridiculously under another name.  Watterson was concerned that mass merchandising would degrade the comic and his message, and as  fellow artist, I respect that.  Anyway, this means that there is no official Hobbes pattern out there, and that if you find one that costs money, it's illegal.  So, I had to improvise and make a Hobbes doll sans pattern.  It came out okay.  I mean, you can recognize him as Hobbes.  His head is just longer and thinner than it should be.  Oh well.  My son was cute as a button trick-or-treating, and he had a great time, and that's all that matters.

My husband's idea for pumpkin carving this year was deliciously geeky.  I guess this is how it works in my house.  He thinks up the idea, and I carry it out.  That's how the last two pumpkins were carved, and that's probably how it'll continue to be.  Anyway, our emoticon pumpkin was a hit amongst our friends.  Check it out.  Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain everyone!

I don't think I'm pregnant now

I cheated and took a pregnancy test yesterday afternoon, and it came out negative.  I was just so convinced it would be positive!  Oh well, it still may still turn out that I've conceived this month.  The test was one from the 99 cent store and I took it at a non-optimal time 3 days before my missed period.  We'll see if my period comes around on Friday...

In the meantime the Duggars have become grandparents and are expecting #19.  Some people are just determined to breed their crazy religion into the world like a plague.  Sigh.  I think I'm a little irked because I thought I'd at least be pregnant with #2 before the next Duggar came around.  I should have known better.

What about now?

We've been trying for 6 months (with two months off for me to lose some weight) to get pregnant, and it may finally have happened....maybe. I'm waiting until tomorrow to try for an early pregnancy test. I felt some discomfort like light cramping this morning, and my uterine area has been a tiny bit tender. That cramping is what happens when the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, and sometimes has a little bleeding that comes along with it. One woman described it as "my little one making room." I was definitely cramping when I got pregnant with my son before the pregnancy test, but I tested on the morning I was supposed to get my period. So I want to make sure to give it enough time and not test too soon. A false result would be sucky.

I'm excited, and I certainly have metaphysical reasons to believe it might happen this month. When I got pregnant with my son, it was right after our wedding. I calculated my ovulation to about 2 weeks after my wedding, so I got pregnant the first opportunity I had as a married woman. Yay! Anyway, I think this happened in part because my mom rubbed my palms with hers and pushed some of her fertility into me. She'd done this three other times before, always to women who had fertility problems and who had been trying for years to concieve. Guess what? All three of them ended up pregnant. One of them even told my mom that she wasn't sure if she was pregnant or not at the time, and mom said she'd rub her hands anyway, just in case. It couldn't hurt, after all. That women had twins.

So mom rubbed my palms again during my last trip to California. I did have my period since then, but I had already ovulated at that point and the hubby and I had missed out on some of our best conceiving days in my cycle, so I figure this month would be my best bet for mom's magick to take effect. We'll see!

I'm really excited too, because the last time we had sex was three and a half days before ovulation, which isn't the best for conceiving, but it's the best way to hedge our bets into getting a little girl. So, if I am pregnant this month, I can be almost certain it's a girl. And if it's not, I'm really meant to have another boy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My birth story

I just submitted my birth story to a blog called "The Unnecesarean."  Hopefully it will get posted.  I detailed my son's birth and everything I hated about it.  Here it is, for anyone who doesn't know what happened:

I stumbled across this website because of a link from the upcoming new (and only) birth center in Phoenix, AZ, Babymoon Inn.  I was so happy to see that this information was being put out there to help women understand, before their hospital birth, what might happen to them, and to help those who experienced an unnecesarean to heal and feel whole again.
I will preface my little story by saying that I did not have a cesarean.  I had a typical hospital birth, delivering a healthy, 6 lb 13 oz baby boy.  But I narrowly missed having an unnecesarean.  I mean really narrowly.  My epidural was turned all the way up, and my belly was prepped with that yellow cleanser.
Anyway, here the story goes.  You can decide for yourself if it's worth posting for all to read.
First of all, I have always wanted to have kids, and I had conflicting feelings about birth.  My mom had 6 kids, 5 naturally and one with an epidural.  All were vaginal hospital births, even the one set of twins.  She raved and smiled when she spoke of her epidural birth, but said that all the other were awful.  So I figured I definitely wanted an epidural, but I wanted a lot of other things that didn't go with an epidural.  I wanted a Leboyer birth, with low lights, a body temperature bath for the baby following birth, a quiet room, and no cord cutting until the cord stopped pulsing.  I thought a waterbirth sounded wonderful, and I really liked the idea of a birth center.  But the lure of a pain free delivery was too much for me.  I figured that I wanted at least two kids, so I'd have the first with an epidural, and the second in a birth center. Besides, I could give my doctor my birth plan and make it the best hospital birth ever, right?  I didn't even think about the fact that, if I ended up with an unnecesarean with the first child, my dream birth with the second would never be.
I also really wanted to have my first baby with my OB/GYN.  I had had a scare with cervical cancer that was very emotional for me, and ended in me having a LEEP procedure done to remove the abnormal cells.  I was a wreck.  I thought I'd never have babies, or that if I became pregnant I'd have an incompetent cervix that would cause me to go into labor early and miscarry or have a preemie.  My doctor was wonderful, though.  She hugged me, gave me a shoulder to cry on and told me everything would be fine.  It was.  She assured me that she was up on the latest procedures with the least amounts of damage to my reproductive organs, and that I'd be having babies whenever I wanted.  She was right, and I loved and trusted her for it.  I wished I had known that her bedside manner as a gynocologist was not the same as her bedside manner as an obstetrician.
I became pregnant with my son within two weeks of getting married, at age 28.  I was ecstatic, my husband was scared.  It was still a planned pregnancy, though with no fertility treatments necessary.  I had about 4 weeks of morning sickness during the end of the first trimester, but only threw up twice.  Overall, I had a really healthy pregnancy.  I bellydanced throughout each trimester, did yoga 3 times a week, took my prenatals, ate a ton of fruits and veggies, and only gained 27 lbs.  I still could have gained less, since I started out overweight at 5'1" and 168 lbs, but overall I'm pretty proud that I kept the weight gain to a minimum.  Especially since I gave birth in Phoenix in July, and no one wants to move at all in that weather, even when they're not pregnant.
I also have another issue that made my OB/GYN decide to induce me.  I had 1/2 a herrington rod attached to my spine, and the upper half of my spinal column fused together when I was 13.  This was to correct my scoliosis.  I had a severe, double 45 degree S curve.  It was bad.  It's not totally straight now, but I'm not in pain and it's straighter than it was.  So the OB/GYN wanted to induce me on a day that the head anesthesiologist would be in, so he could be sure to numb me well.  She also cautioned that, if something went wrong, I would be a candidate for a cesarean section under general anesthesia, since they couldn't guarantee that the epidural would have full coverage on my abdomen.  Scary.  But I figured that I'd kept up dancing, did my prenatal yoga and was in decent shape, and no one in my family has ever needed a c-section.  I'd be fine delivering vaginally.
My son was due on July 27th, I was scheduled to be induced on the 23rd, but my water broke at about 11:30 pm on the 9th.  I later found out that what had happened was called a forebag break.  That's when the main bag of amniotic fluid does not break, but the thin bag around the main bag does  So, instead of a big gush of water, I had an annoying trickle.  A sanitary napkin took care of it, and I decided to get some sleep, eat and clean a little, since once I checked into the hospital, none of these things would happen.  I napped.  I ate a huge breakfast and packed a ton of snacks and water since I disagreed with the hospital policy of no food and only ice chips once you got into active labor.  I did a load of laundry, picked up the house, and woke up my husband to go in around 7:30 am.
I should have lied about when my water broke.  The hospital attendants were furious with me.  They said that the clock starts ticking for infection to set in once the water breaks (which I later found out isn't exactly true) and that I'd just wasted 8 of my 24 hours before I was in danger of infection.  The hooked me up to an IV right away (which I really wanted to delay!) to start me on Pitocin, since I wasn't really contracting.  The anesthesiologist wanted to know where my pain was on a scale of 0 to 10.  I said maybe a 1.  So no epidural yet.  The nurses checked me when I came in at 4 cm, and twice more without any progress a couple of hours later.  Finally I got to see my doctor at 3 pm.  By then, all our friends had shown up to keep us company, about 10 people all told, including my parents.  None of our friends had had babies yet, so this was a big deal in our circle of friends.  I had a regular party going on in my personal birthing suite.  We had a few board games going on and about then my doctor walked in and looked totally annoyed that I wasn't taking the whole birth process seriously.  She said she'd come back when we kicked everyone out.  I felt deflated.  I was able to overlook my annoyances at being hooked up like a Borg because I was happily anticipating the birth of my son with my comrades.  No, they had to go.  So the doctor came back and, realizing I had a forebag, broke my real water.  Then I had contractions.  Wow, did I ever.  I'd been on Pitocin since 8 am, and they'd been turning it up every 20 minutes since I wasn't contracting.  All that Pitocin hit me at once.  Suddenly, I was in pain!  I was checked an hour later at 6 cm, and then I got my epidural.
That whole experience was awful.  The head anesthesiologist wasn't in.  So I got the other one.  She was nice, but it took her over half an hour to get the epidural catheter in place, and everytime she missed the sweet spot by a hair, I felt something akin to electric shocks up my spine.  My husband had to hold me down to keep me from jumping each time that happened since she needed me to be absolutely still to get it in right.  Yuck.
The pain relief was almost immediate, but my request for a walking epidural was laughed at.  I was so tied down with tubes and monitors that I could never have gotten up anyway.  I had the epidural, IV, catheter, blood pressure cuff (the most annoying thing EVER,) external fetal monitor, and that thing on my finger to take my pulse.  I was pretty pissed.  This was not what I envisioned, but I wasn't in pain.  I had to give them that.
By 9 pm, an apologetic looking nurse came in to tell me I needed a c-section.  I wasn't progressing (even though I had not been checked for further dilation since my epidural was put in) and I was starting to run a low grade fever.   I had still only seen my doctor once.  They put her on the phone to talk to me, but she had to deliver 6 babies that day, and clearly I wasn't a priority.  She'd be there in time for my c-section, though!
I was ready to cry.  General anesthesia sounded awful.  I wouldn't be awake for my son's birth, I couldn't give him his first breast milk until the anesthesia was out of my system, and I'd end up with a c-section to boot.  The anesthesiologist came in to try to turn up my epidural so that we could avoid this scenario.  She turned it up so high that my entire lower half could have been removed and I never would have known.  The doctor happily told me on the phone that we could proceed with the c-section without general anesthesia.  The nurses would prep me so that I'd be ready by the time she drove in.
They scrubbed my tummy with the yellow soapy stuff and got out all the clamps and scalpels and stuff, and I finally demanded that everyone hold on a second.  I hadn't been checked for dilation in forever and I though it was weird that everyone thought I need a section for "failure to progress" when no one (including me) knew if I'd progressed or not.
The nurse rolled her eyes and checked me.  She was shocked that I was at a full 10 cm.  No rim, no nothing.  Just ready to push.  And Goddess knows how long I'd been there, too.  Everyone was surprised, but honestly, I wasn't.  I had known all along that I could do this without an unnecesarean.  My son wasn't breech.  He wasn't twins.  He wasn't huge.  He wasn't in distress.
But now we had another problem: I was too numb to push.  They turned the epidural down and put me on more Pitocin.  It took an hour to wear off enough that I could push, and then another hour of pushing something I couldn't feel.  The doctor only appeared in the last 15 minutes of the birth.  She was there long enough to tell me that my son was in distress and that she needed to give me an episiotomy, something I'd told her I did not want unless the baby was definitely going to die.  I still don't believe my 6 lb 13 oz baby needed more room to get out.  Anyway, he was born blue, with the cord wrapped around his neck and not breathing.  I'd expressly asked before the birth that my baby be put on my bare stomach first, but they took him to the other side of the room and gave him heat and oxygen, something they could have easily done on my tummy while we bonded and cuddled.  The strangest part was the detached feeling I had the whole time.  I remember thinking, I could give him up right now and not care.  It horrified me.  I've seen videos of moms bursting into tears from the rush of emotion at seeing their baby for the first time, and had no way to relate to it.  I know now that this is sometimes a side effect of the epidural.  No one bothered to tell me.
My son was born at 12:12 am on July 11, 2007.  He weight 6 lb, 13 oz and was 20 inches long.  I can't remember his head circumference, but I was told he was in the 50th percentile.  He nursed right away, as soon as the doctor grabbed the umbilical cord and yanked out my placenta.  The nurse offered to let my mother hold him before she ever offered him to me.  I was feeling too detached to care a whole lot at the time, but now I wish her dead.  I hate that she was so pissed off about my refusal of the Hep B vaccine that she unnecessarily kept my baby from me in those precious moments after birth.  Those can't be replaced.  I hope she dies painfully.  And slowly.  In a fire.
They all gave me crap about refusing the Hep B vaccine, but I informed them that I was Hep B negative, and they could worry about giving my child a Hep B vaccine when he was likely to start having sex or using IV drugs, which is how it's spread.  I was adamant, but if I'd been weak for a second they would have given my baby an an unnecessary and useless vaccine.  The one given at birth wears off by age 15, the age when these behaviors are more likely to occur.
Anyhow, since my son was born at midnight, and the hospital's policy stated that the baby had to be checked out by a pediatrician when he was 24 hours old, we had to stay an extra day.  The entire time I was there, I hated it.  The bed was uncomfortable, my husband had to sleep in a cot that was worse, the "lactation consultant" was either not on staff or was quick to be there with bottles of formula "just in case."  I started feeling more attached to him about 6 hours after his birth, but it still felt weird.  I knew something was wrong with me emotionally.
The first month sucked.  I was tired and sore.  I felt like a horse had kicked me where the epidural had been inserted.  That took over a month to go away.  I felt like it took me longer than normal to really bond with my son, though I nursed him around the clock on demand, coslept with him and held him all the time.  I wore him in a sling whenever possible and I only left his side to nap twice once my in-laws came to help with him when he was 3 weeks old.
I breastfed throughout my hospital stay and am still breastfeeding my son today, three months after his second birthday.  To this day he has never had a drop of formula.  He coslept with us until last week, and is vaccine free.  I started him on the "Your Baby Can Read" program, and he recognizes over 75 words.  The pediatrician says he's one of the most active, talkative, and physically fit children she's ever seen.  He's a little accident-prone, but no one's perfect.  He's still skinny, at about the tenth percentile for weight and the 50th for height.
Immediately after my son was born, I felt violated by the process of a hospital birth.  I can't imagine how I'd feel if I had ended up with an unnecesarean.  To this day, I am bitter and angry about the entire thing, from start to finish.  I am determined to have my next baby at home or in a birthing center, with a midwife and a doula.  No amount of money can compensate me for the way I was made to feel, and still feel about having decisions made for me about my body and my baby.  I hate the idea of another hospital birth, and I don't know what I'll do if the next baby is transverse, breech or twins.  I guess I'll have to hope that doesn't happen.  Because I won't birth in a hospital again.  I'll have an unattended home birth before I'll put myself through that hell a second time.
I hope that anyone who reads this understands that I really tried to make the hospital birth process work for me.  I did everything I could, and I was vocal about my preferences.  No one cared.  That's how it is.  Educate yourself.  Consider home birth and look for birth centers near you.  If you are stuck with a hospital birth, look for a midwife who does them.  Try to steer clear of OB/GYN's.  They'll be there to catch the baby or do your c-section, and that's it.  Know that this experience is one you'll never forget and don't let anyone else taint it with hospital policies that override your desires for a memorable and wonderful birth.  Realize that red flags are waving in your face the first time your doctor or midwife says that what you want in your birth might not happen.  And realize that you can refuse any procedure at any time.  I should have.  And I regret not doing it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Swine flu and good weather

The weather's finally changing here. After a brief and brutal heatwave (it was 102 one day last week) we're finally looking at highs in the 80's and nice cool nights with lows in the 60's or lower. I love the cool, fall weather and my son and I have been taking advantage. We've been biking, taking walks and going to the playground. It's been awesome! I live for the time of year when I can leave the door open and breathe in the fresh air.

However, it has been flu season, and the whole family recently recovered from swine flu. According to the CDC's website that, after the last person is better, the virus can live on your furniture and household items for up to 7 days. So, We're all better now and we can leave the house, but we can't have anyone over until Tuesday. Lame.

Anyway, other than the quarantine, it's not as bad as everyone says. I still have a little runny nose and lingering cough, but it was the flu. I didn't see any difference between it and the regular flu. I have absolutely no regrets in not getting vaccinated, especially since there are debates about how effective the vaccine will be. The arguments are ridiculous. Apparently the virus is mutating so quickly that they're saying just because you had it once, doesn't mean you'll have any immunity once it comes around a second time. So they're pushing the H1N1 vaccine on everyone who's already had it. On the flipside, there have been reports that people born before 1958, when the swine flu was around last time, may still have some residual immunity. Huh? If it's mutating that fast, they shouldn't have any. And how is the vaccine going to be effective at all since the virus in the vaccine this month will be way different from the virus that comes around next month? I think they're just trying to make money.

Well, everyone knows I'm anti-vaccine, so me not buying into the H1N1 vaccine is certainly no surprise. The flu did put a damper on my October plans, though. I laid on the couch for over a week staring at the walls and thinking about putting up my autumnal decorations. They finally made it up 2 days ago. Now I have spiderwebs and pumpkins everywhere.

It's really nice not being depressed anymore. If I wasn't certain before, I am now positive that I have reverse seasonal affected disorder. My house is clean, I don't need to nap anymore, and I feel like going out and being social again. Even better, I don't feel like my soul is being suffocated. Yay, autumn!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Making enemies on the playground

I haven't blogged in forever, and I think I probably should have. This summer has been the worst of my life and it might have helped me to blog about it and get these feelings and depression out instead of staying at home and crying or moping about it. I have never felt so assaulted by the heat before. It was awful, and it's not over yet. The high for today is 99. It's late September, for fuck's sake! The weather forecasters say that it'll cool down a little before heating back up, and on average the highs are in the 90's until mid October. It's enough to make a cool-weather lover like me crawl under the bed and hide until Samhain.

I've been so preoccupied about the heat that I completely forgot about Mabon until it was here. So, happy Mabon everyone! I hope that the seeds of projects you planted earlier in the year are coming to fruition and that you're reaping what you've sown. I know I am. I neglected my garden and all the plants in my yard once the real heat hit, and now they're all dead. It was just too depressing to go outside. More than 5 minutes in the heat effected me profoundly throughout the day, causing me to be depressed, moody, easily irritated and I think it sucked out all my energy, too. So, it was easier to just let the lawn and plants die than make my family suffer through a summer of me at my worst everyday.

So, on to the topic of my blog: the indoor playground. The only way I've been able to survive this summer with an energetic two year old has been to unleash him at Chandler mall's playground at least twice a week (five days a week at times) to run, jump, play and be social while mommy sits on the sidelines sipping an iced tall decaf mocha with whole milk, light ice and an extra pump of Mocha syrup. Yes, I'm picky.

Anyway, the mall playground rules are simple. Parents can't drop their kids off and leave them there while they shop. They have to be supervised. Kids taller than 42 inches (the height of the surrounding wall) are not allowed to play there unless they're helping a smaller child or an infant on the equipment. No food or drinks in the play area (I take this to mean that the kids can eat or drink at the benches against the wall, but not on the playground equipment or in the play area.) Those are pretty simple rules, right? I thought so. I guess some moms think otherwise. I've become the bitch of the playground. I call security constantly to kick out kids who are too big or too rough. I talk to parents about their rowdy, bratty kids who are pushing, shoving, hitting or kicking. I even follow my son around the play area when it's really full to make sure he's not getting picked on. Last week, I watched a little boy about the same age as my son hitting other kids in the face as he ran by. He pushed another kid off the slide and down the stairs. I took him to his mom, who didn't speak English. She quietly told him not to hit (I understand at least that much Spanish) and he turned away from her, hitting another kid in the face as he ran off. Yeah, I had security kick them out.

The worst experience I've ever had on the playground was today, though. Let me preface this by saying that I've met this mom before. She and I had a long, happy conversation about two weeks ago. She said this little girl was her 4th child, and by far her most difficult. The mom was very nice, and I assumed that the little girl who looked like her and was playing near her was hers. I couldn't understand how this sweet little girl could be a problem. She didn't seem to be the selfish, demanding, pushy child that the mom was talking about. Then, when they got up to leave, I saw where I went wrong. That wasn't her child. The brat, pushing kids off the slide and hitting while hogging all the best playground equipment was hers. She hadn't been paying attention to her at all. The entire time we were there she hadn't gotten up to intervene when her kid (who she seemed to understand was a brat) picked on another child. I was appalled. To make it worse, I saw this mom a few more times since then. She and her horrible daughter are becoming more frequent attendees of the play area.

Anyway, another interesting facet of this story is that my son loves little girls. He will go out of his way to seek out a little girl to play with on the playground. He does this every time we go. I asked my pediatrician about it, and she suggested that it's because he's small for his age, and very verbal. If he wants to talk and not get pushed around, he's better off playing with a little girl than a little boy. Fair enough.

So, today I took my son to the playground early, along with another little boy I was babysitting. They played together on the deserted playground for almost half an hour before any other kids showed up. My son even pointed around saying, "No kids?" when we first got there. I felt bad for him, but the other kids started showing up soon after. After about 45 minutes, there were 5 other kids. Two were little babies, two were rambunctious boys, and then there was the bratty little girl. Her mom parked herself in the corner and sat texting and ignored her daughter. Meanwhile, my son beelined it for the only little girl on the playground, and was promptly pushed over. He persisted, and she shoved him a couple more times. Then, she sat at the top of the slide and prevented anyone from going on it. I had had it by this point. I had tried to gently tell her to stop pushing and shoving and let other kids on the slide. So, I got up in her face and whispered menacingly through my teeth, "Move. Now."
She moved. She ran crying to mommy. I told her mom that she was upset because I wouldn't let her stand at the top of the slide and prevent anyone else from going down. I didn't really feel the need to elaborate... Anyway, the next hour was really uncomfortable. That mom shadowed her daughter on the playground (paying more attention to her daughter and her daughter's actions than I'd ever seen before) and shooting me dirty looks every time we passed each other. Sigh.

It's like I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't. I refuse to let my son be bullied on the playground, and I won't let this mom allow her daughter to be the playground brat. Maybe I actually helped her, in a way. Maybe now this mom will pay more attention to her daughter and curb her bad behavior, at least while I'm there. I can hope.

In the meantime, I might have to go to a different indoor playground. I do feel bad for scaring the crap out of a three year old, and for making my criticisms of her mother's parenting so obvious. At least it's cooling down and I can use a real playground soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's a little late but...

I had to laugh at the announcement of the gender of the Duggar's first grandchild last week. So it's a girl. Haha, the product of frequent, non-orgasmic intercourse. What else could I expect from Christian newlyweds who recommend reading books like Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat. Here is my favorite review of this book from amazon.com:

17 of 22 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Great book, if you're a mysogynist., January 25, 2009
By C. Teel (Nashville, TN) - See all my reviews
I find myself applauding the Wheats' heartfelt attempt at creating a book that breaches the subject of sex and sexuality within the conservative, mainline, Christian world. However, their work falls too far short of being informative, balanced, contemporary, and open to deserve any real recognition.

First, their understanding of sexuality is about 25 years past date. They need to update their research. They have nothing in the book about oral sex, mutual masturbation, sex/orgasmic response differences among women, and premature ejaculation.

Second, they objectify women to the point of sheer domination. The chapter entitled, "The Perfect Wife" elaborates on why women ought to just "lay back and enjoy it." Frankly, I found it sick and disgusting. The authors claim to be a coequal team, but I don't see it in the writing, I don't see it in the information, and I definitely don't see it in their description of sex as a mutually beneficial act. Their response, as a said above, is basically one that encourages men to dominate their wife by demanding sex whenever they please. For example, at one point in the "Perfect Wife" chapter they say:

"If you think your husband seems to require a lot more sex than you do, ponder this illustration: If you were in the desert and you were thirsty, you'd think about a glass of water, wouldn't you? But if you're standing by the refrigerator, and there's an opportunity to push the button and get it any time you want to, the need for a drink is not nearly so urgent. Maybe the reason your husband seems never to think of anything besides sex is that he's "in the desert" and "thirsty"
"Sometimes you will be very tired and feeling as sexy as an old sock, but your husband will approach you with desire. Secular therapists say a wife should be able to respond, "Sorry, but I'm just not up to it tonight." My own opinion as a Christian wife is that we can depend on the Lord to give us the strength and ability to be as warm and responsive as our husband desires, no matter how tired we are...
..."Most important, a wise wife will not argue. She will keep her husband peaceful and satisfied and happy by gracefully conceding to his wishes, or deferring to his opinions...A husband usually welcomes the thoughtful opinions of his wife..."(157-159, Third Ed.)

This excerpt pretty much sums up why I HATE this book. It was a gift from a friend before my wife and I got married, and I'm surprised that I haven't burned it in effigy. Women are NOT objects who deserve their own voice, and this book promotes a Christianity that oppresses that voice. So, my conscious would not be clear if I did not give a resoundingly negative review for this book on that merit alone.

If you want my advice, go read "The Joy of Sex." It has all the medical and psychological facts, and presents an understanding of sexuality that is mutual, equal, and loving.

Again, I have to laugh. Christianity has spent its entire history denouncing sex for pleasure. Who thought it was a good idea for Christians to put out their own Scripture-based book on how to enjoy sex biblically? Seriously people, you need to realize that your religion does not condone fun in the bedroom and move on.

I think in some ways I'm jealous. I wish I could be so satisfied with the Christian worldview. Everything is black and white, right or wrong. Just follow the rules, and everything turns out the way it's supposed to. Right? I mean, there are still the Christian families who end up with gay kids, the ones whose families break up because one of them isn't happy or leaves the religion, and the ones who have a crisis of faith when something terrible happens that makes them realize that their Christian god and Jesus aren't going to fix it, but if those things don't happen they can hold fast to their religion and declare themselves right about the world. It's seductive, I admit. I would love to feel like I understood how it all worked and that the entire world could be perfect if everyone simply chose my way. I want the security of it, the community of it and the certainty of it. It's just not for the educated. That's one of the reasons I'm not there. The thinking individual is discouraged and pushed aside, their opinion discarded. "They've overthought God. They're thinking themselves out of salvation." Yes, I've actually heard someone say this. I think it was Kirk Cameron, actually.

Anyway, I'll take my life of questions instead of answers, lecturers instead of preachers and Halloween instead of Christmas and Easter. It's not as safe and secure, but it's a lot more fun!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I lost 7 lbs....Suck it, Weight Watchers!

Yes, I have lost 7 pounds in two weeks. Pretty good for someone not dieting and not really going out of her way to exercise, huh? Yeah, I'm pleased with myself. My pants fit better straight out of the dryer, and I feel a little better already. I'm especially happy because this is almost the amount of weight I lost starving myself on Weight Watchers. I lost a little more 8 pounds instead of 7, but I'm so much happier doing this than I ever was on Weight Watchers. I don't really feel that WW was a sustainable solution, in the end. I thought about food constantly, planning meals almost a week in advance. It wasn't fun to eat, and there was never any spontaneity when I went out to eat. Now I can make whatever I want, as long as I stop eating when I'm full and eat consciously. Yay! This rocks!

I'd still like to lose a few more pounds before I start gaining baby weight for the next pregnancy, but I'd still be happy if I got pregnant tomorrow because I'm at least starting a few pounds under my original weight.

I have to admit, my husband's become a huge motivator for me. He's exercising 5 days a week and has lost about 25 pounds so far. He has more energy, and is looking slimmer than I've ever seen him. I jokingly told him yesterday that I'm going into training as soon as I have the next baby so that we can hike the Grand Canyon as a family. Okay, I really don't want that to be a joke. I'd love to do the mule trail ride back up, and just hike down, and it might be possible if we get in shape. See, you have to be under 200 pounds including gear to take the mule tour, and my husband has just dipped under 200 pounds. He still has a ways to go, but I never really considered it an option before. Now it's conceivable. I better teach my baby how to ride a mule!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lacey Schwimmer is a talentless, catty idiot

Yeah, I'm a huge So You Think You can Dance fan. I watched part of Season 2, and have been hooked ever since. I think Season 3 was my favorite. I was really attached to certain dancers, and I really loved a lot of the themed dances. Neil and Lauren's week 2 hip-hop and their Angel/Demon dance were both fabulous. I still think about Pasha and Sara's swing dance, Pasha and Lauren's hip-hop from week 2, Sara and Jesus' crazy bum dance, Anya and Danny's jive and Viennese waltz, Jaimie and Hok's hummingbird dance, Sabra and Dominic's slow hip-hop, Sara and Pasha's "suspenders dance", Sabra and Neil's "business suit" dance, and (maybe the best of all) Danny and Neil's "fighting princes" dance. Nigel Lithgoe needs to get off his ass and make a "Best of So You Think You Can Dance DVD" with these dances in it. I know I'd line up to buy it.

Anyway, through all this raving about SYTYCD, you'll notice that there was no mention of Lacey Schwimmer. That's because she sucked. My friends and I rooted for her to go home every week, and every week fans of her also-not-so-talented brother kept her afloat. It was SO lame that awesome dancers, like Lauren Gottlieb and Sara Von Gillern missed out on the top 4 so someone as mono-faceted as Lacey could be there. Okay, she can dance better than I can. But so can everyone who has ever made it to Vegas week on the show. But she didn't deserve to be in the Top 20, we were pissed that she made the Top 10, and I was beyond shocked that that ridiculous hack made it to the Top 4.

As you can tell, I'm still bitter about the whole thing. But I've come to terms with the fact that that season is over, Season 4 was amazing, and Season 5 is setting up to be (possibly) even better. I still have my awesome show to look forward to. But when that bitch Lacey decides to badmouth the show, the entire fourth season, and now the awesome dancers of this season, it's become personal. Here is the link for her rant:


How dare the most undeserving dancer on the entire show trash the more talented dancers who came after her, as well as the choreographers and staff of the show who gave her the opportunity to support herself doing what she loves? She was no one before the show, and now she's been on Dancing With the Stars, among other things, which would not have been possible without her appearance on SYTYCD. She's forgotten her roots, and she's shitting where she sleeps.

I guess I shouldn't be upset. At the very least, she won't pollute my show with her presence this season, since she doesn't respect it anymore. And hopefully she'll burn her bridges with the entire dance community so I won't have to see or hear from her at all. I'd love for her to be blacklisted from the dance community so that a more talented and less delusional dancer can live out their dreams in her place.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Psychic Son

Does it mean anything when your almost-two-year-old puts his finger on your third eye, looks at you meaningfully and says "Eye," as if telling you what to do? That's what happened to me this morning. It gave me chills. Does this mean he knows what I'm capable of and that I'm kind of being lazy with my craft, or that he knows he has this ability too? Or is this just a case of a toddler pointing to the wrong body part while listing off a word he knows? I would be inclined to believe the latter, except that he really knows what eyes are and I've never seen him point to the wrong thing when he says "Eye."

I've never felt the need to overtly address my religion in my parenting. I was raised Catholic and my parents gave me no choices in the matter. My opinions and feelings were never taken into consideration, and I was resentful. I hated it, and I swore my children would be raised differently. My kids will be introduced to all religions and their opinions and choices regarding spirituality will be respected. Of course, my husband's atheism and my paganism will not be hidden, but there will be no forcing of our beliefs on them. They can see my rituals and participate in my holidays, observe my spellcraft and traditions, all without being forced to participate or believe. I would love my children to follow me on my spiritual path, of course, and they will not be told that they can't participate if they choose to, but I'm not going to make the mistakes my parents did.

Having said that, what does today's experience mean? Should I show him my altar, my cards and my stones? Should I talk to him about the sacred moon and sun, and tell him his first myths and legends? I thought this was something I could easily put off for another year or more, but maybe not. Guess I'm reading D'Aulaires Greek Myths tonight.

My husband thinks I'm crazy

Yep, he thinks I'm insane to try to get pregnant while trying to lose weight. I would agree with him if I was trying some fad diet or something unhealthy, but my weight loss techniques are really common sense and healthy. More fruits and veggies, take a prenatal vitamin and get some kind of exercise in every day (i.e. yoga, a 30 minute walk, gardening,) drink lots of water, and eat only when I'm hungry. Actually, there's more to it than just eating when I'm hungry. I'm following a hybrid of Paul McKenna's I Can Make You Thin techniques, advice from The Fat Fallacy by Will Clower and some non-diet weight loss tips from the internet. Here are the Four Golden Rules from I Can Make You Thin:

1. Eat only when you're hungry
2. Eat only what you really want
3. Stop eating when you're full
4. Eat slowly, putting the fork down between bites and really taste what you're eating

In addition to that, I've adopted The Fat Fallacy Diet which is all about eating whole foods and cutting out preservatives. So, if I read the ingredients on a food and there's something I can't pronounce, I won't eat it. Mostly, because of my corn-free diet, I make my own food anyway, so this isn't a big deal. I also eat organically as often as possible. I certainly buy everything organic from the "Dirty Dozen" list. This includes:

1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Bell Peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Kale
9. Lettuce
10. Grapes
11. Carrots
12. Pears

Really, anything with a thin, edible skin should be organic, since the pesticides can't really be washed off or peeled away on these types of fruits and veggies. Anything produce with a thick skin that I throw away is typically safe (i.e. avocados, bananas, mangoes, citrus fruit) although I still try to buy as many organic items as I can to support organic farming. I also buy only rBST free dairy products and cage free eggs and try to buy organic when they go on sale.

I've done this type of weight loss before, and I was successful as long as I kept it up, but I fell off the wagon. Why? Because school and a wedding and having a baby constantly put you in situations where you are shoving your dinner down so you can get on with whatever needs to be done next. I ate in the car, in front of the TV, and yes, even over the sink because I was in a hurry to finish. I thought of it as multi-tasking, but really it was just lazy. I didn't want to take the time to sit at the table and eat slowly, tasting every bite so that I knew exactly when I was full. So I overate, I tended to wait until I was starving before I served myself, and I actually started backsliding into eating foods laden with preservatives. It's also hard to guage how much you'll need to eat when you first start breastfeeding. I've never been so ravenous in my life (including during my pregnancy) as I was when my son was born. I ate like a fiend all week, and it tapered off a little as my son grew, but not nearly as much as it should have. In addition, I think a crying, anxious, or upset child makes me eat faster than I ever have before. I just want him to be calm, so I bolt my food down to tend to him. It's an awful cycle, because I'm not paying attention to (and therefore enjoying) my food as I'm feeding and fussing over him. He's done long before I stop eating, and I eat feeling angry/frustrated/anxious.

Knowing what I know now, I've decided to eat either before or after my son when he's being like this. I can eat while he plays or sleeps, for the most part. And when I can't, it's time to put him in the high chair with his food and learn to tune him out while I concentrate on eating at a more leisurely pace. I think it will be good for him, as well as my next child, to grow up in a house where everyone eats at the table and actually tastes their food over the course of 20 minutes or more. It's a healthy way to be. Come to think of it, that's how I grew up. I started gaining weight right around the time when this practice stopped being a regular thing. I also had half my spine fused, due to scoliosis, at that time, so it was probably a double weight whammy that caused me to balloon. Sigh...I have a lot of years of habit to break.

There is one thing I no longer miss: preservative laden foods. I thought I would truly miss Ho-hos, which were my ultimate favorite treat through middle and high school. So I had one about a year ago. Wow. It was bad. It tasted like plastic and chemicals, so I threw the whole package out after one bite. It's amazing how your taste buds can change after eating really good food and stopping to taste what you're putting in your mouth. I've had similar experiences with other foods that I thought I missed, but the Ho-hos were by far the most striking. Ew.

So, back to the whole"losing weight while trying to get pregnant" deal.... I see nothing wrong with it. I'm just trying to get healthy, really. Besides, if it takes me 7 or 8 months to get pregnant (not an unrealistic estimate) I have 7 or 8 months of getting in shape that I could be missing out on. Also, I love that I lost 10 lbs before getting pregnant with my so. Since I only gained 27 lbs total, I figured I really jut put on about 17 additional pounds. I only had 17 pounds to lose to get back to my weight from a couple of months before the wedding. It was a nice feeling, and I'd liek to do that again with this pregnancy.

When I do spellwork for this pregnancy, I'll have to be careful though. I'll only do spells under the waxing moon asking to bring in health and new life. I do want to be healthier, after all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Book review: EnLIGHTened by Jessica Berger Gross

I was sidetracked from my regular reading (a book called Hyperion which my wonderful husband passed to me) and have been reading EnLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples and a Beagle-Pointer by Jessica Berger Gross.  I have to admit, it's a fun and easy read.  The author has a good sense of humor, an engaging story (one that's familiar to all of us in the weight struggle) and some great tips on weight loss and exercise.  She's motivational, truthful and very real.  Having said all that, I think I'd have to give this book only 3 stars out of 5.

I love how she explains that we need to be truthful with ourselves.  We do know when we've eaten something bad for ourselves, eaten too much, or when we've been lazy and neglecting our bodies.  We know we should park the car further from the store, and make time for yoga or some other form of exercise in addition to walking most days of the week.  We should admit these things to ourselves so we can lift the veil of denial when it comes time to step on the scale.  However, I am NOT going to admit to my husband (or some other "buddy") when I have done these things.  Maybe her self esteem is higher than mine, and she can take the criticism.  In fact, that's likely the case.  But that doesn't change the fact that telling someone else how you screwed up every time you forget to tow the healthy line is demeaning and demoralizing.  I think a better suggestion would be to keep a journal and admit these things on paper.  That way, you're still being truthful with yourself, but you're not involving a third (possibly judgmental) person.

This woman is a bit diet crazy.  And when I say a bit, I mean a LOT.  She thinks whole wheat cheese pizza or (not and) hot chocolate made with skim milk is something to be saved for the rare treat.  She mentioned that homemade whole wheat pancakes with real maple syrup should be in the same category, and thinks that white bread should always be avoided.  Yikes!  I'm sorry, life without chocolate chip cookies, fresh artisan breads and chocolate ice cream with peanut butter is not worth living.  I'm not saying I should have these things every day, but relegating them to the "never" category just isn't happening.  I try to incorporate more whole grains in my diet, but I don't think I'll ever make a complete conversion.  I like her recipes with lentils and beans, but the idea of making this kind of food my every meal makes me a little ill.  I agree that we should try to have as many vegetarian meals as possible, and I love that she suggests buying organic, free-range and grass-fed meats as a green and responsible alternative to vegetarianism.  

Her advice on limiting portions was, in my opinion, the most helpful.  She says, "After your meal, your stomach should be 1/2 full with food, 1/4 full with water and 1/4 empty with room for air."  I love it.  In our country, the portion sizes are out of control and we should strive to be satisfied on the smallest servings possible.  With this little technique, you can eat much larger variety of foods than what the author portrays.

I loved her advice on exercise.  Stoking the inner fire, even when we're exhausted, is a great metaphor.  Many of us in yoga, and most of us who are truly in touch with our bodies, can relate to the idea of pushing ourselves on the days when we don't feel so much like exercising to give ourselves more energy.  We should all try to get in a little walking and some other physical activity every day, and push ourselves a little harder when we need to drop baby weight or a few excess pounds to kick-start weight loss.  

My favorite part of the book, though was her chapter on inner reflection.  Why are we over-eating?  What does your comfort food represent?  What feeling are you stuffing down an covering with food?  These are important questions overweight people seldom ask themselves.  Understanding that permanent weight-loss isn't possible without dealing with internal issues is something few people understand.  Kudos to Jessica Berger Gross for talking about her struggle so candidly.

All in all, I think she goes overboard with her diet, and she crosses the line from realistic to idealistic.  I would recommend the book to others, but only with the caveat that her dieting advice is too extreme, and that there are lots of other books with better, more sensible eating tips.  I love The Fat Fallacy, and others like it, which put forth the "un-dieting" and "slow food" methods of eating.  Eating whatever you want, but savoring it slowly, chewing more meaningfully and tasting every bite makes you really consider which foods you truly love and which ones aren't so great.  This method brings about a more healthful diet and smaller portions without restricting one's diet to rabbit food.  

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Heat Depression

It's that time again.  Not time for summer fun, but time for my summer-related depression.  It happens every year, and it started when I moved to Arizona.  As soon as the temperatures rise in May, I start to get moody, more easily agitated, and depressed.  It feels like the sun is keeping me hostage.  I am caged in the house, even though I think of myself as an outdoorsy person, and it feels like it will be forever until the weather is acceptable again.  The heat is downright oppressive here, ask anyone who has spent a summer day in the "Valley of the Sun."  When opening you front door feel like opening an oven, and people can be seen handling their black steering wheels with oven mitts, you know it's bad.  Personally, I sometimes sleep with my feet on a cold pack and I put away my thick blanket for the summer in favor of a thin cover that is scarcely more than two bedsheets sown together.  Anything else heating my body will cause me to get up in the middle of the night and dowse myself with cold water.  In fact, when I first moved here, I used to take an ice-cold shower with my pajamas on in the middle of the night to cool down.  That way, the cold water stayed on my skin longer.  As it is, I can't go to bed without slathering my arms, legs and feet with lotion to maximize the ceiling fan's cooling effect.  Sigh.

This problem really isn't something I can explain to anyone who has ever felt this way.  My husband is no exception.  As much as I love him, his "suck it up and deal with it" attitude isn't helping and may be making it worse.  He thinks it's all in my head and that thinking more positively about my life in general will make these feelings go away.  I wish it was that simple.  I really do.  But the truth remains.  I hate living here.  I hate that the landscape is brown, not green.  I hate that 6 months out of the year are summer (and hot, nasty summer at that!)  I hate that the only family I have that lives here can't wait to leave either, and that my family in California rarely visits because of how much it sucks out here.  I hate that my house doesn't have a large shade tree in the front or backyard.  I hate that I can't grow a lot of the fruits I love out here because the heat will kill them.  I hate that there is a real danger of my kids becoming couch potatoes out here because I wouldn't blame them for not wanting to get off the couch in the summer  I don't either.  I hate that it's too warm to bike or walk, even in the evenings.  I hate that I can't open the windows to let in a tiny bit of fresh air because AC is so expensive.  And most of all, I hate that no one else wants to be here, either.  Anyone with the funds to do so either leaves for the summer or leaves permanently.  Who can blame them?  I'd do the same if I could.  It's nobody's fault, and I wouldn't want anyone to stay here just for me, but it does add to the effect.  Summer here sucks because I'm stranded here, and many of my friends are gone.  I have a husband with a wonderful job he loves in a good company.  We own a house and have a child.  I can't go anytime soon.  My hubby would have to have at least 5 years of experience in his job to make a move feasible.  I'll be three years in July.  

I do feel better at having written all my thoughts down.  I will make a genuine effort to make the next post a more positive one.  Maybe I'll write my next post after taking a cold shower.  Just a thought.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I'm 30!

I turned 30 two days ago.  I don't feel any different, except that now I feel the need for daily exercise, which is probably a good thing.  To be fair, this started a couple of weeks ago, not just with my birthday, but I am really getting concerned about my body staying healthy and flexible so that I can hike, climb, dance, and just play with my kids as they get older.

It's weird to think about the goals I once had for myself by this age.  I was certainly going to be done having my four children by now, I was going to be a successful veterinarian who had graduated from UC Davis, I would be happily married and living in an awesome house in Pacific Beach (in San Diego) with my husband, and of course we were both going to be thin and fit beach-goers who surfed at least twice a week when the waves would permit.  Crazy, huh?  Yeah, I know that NOW, but I was raised to believe that I was capable of anything I set my mind to.  I also had a mother who had given birth to 6 children by the time she was 30, so I figured it wouldn't be hard to have 4 children with a decent amount of time spaced between each.  Sigh...naivety.  

So, I made myself a corn-free triple chocolate birthday cake that turned out pretty yummy.  I think I'd change the mousse filling next time and make it sweeter, but my best friend disagrees.  She thinks the richness of a whipped dark chocolate ganache is perfect.  Anyway, here's my yummy recipe for a delicious, moist chocolate cake.  Bonus: it's a one-bowl recipe!  I love making tasty food with minimal clean-up!

One-Bowl Moist Chocolate Cake

2 c. white sugar
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder (I use Featherweight brand so it's corn-free)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil (use canola, soybean, or another non-corn oil)
2 tsp. vanilla extract (I use my homemade vanilla.  Recipe on bottom)
1 c. boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C.)  Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans.  In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients.  Add eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla and mix with mixer for 2 min.  Stir in the boiling water last.  Batter will be thin.  Pour evenly into two pans.  (This makes 6 cups of batter, for those of you, like me, who have only one 9 inch round pan that you have to clean and re-use to make a layer cake!)  Bake for 30 minutes until cake tests done with a toothpick.  Cool completely before frosting.

Corn-free Vanilla Extract

one 750 ml bottle of potato vodka
2 vanilla beans

Put the vanilla beans in the potato vodka and wait at least 3 weeks.  I waited 6, and mine tasted great!  It will not be as dark as the vanilla extract you buy in the store, but it tastes fine and it's way cheaper.  No one has noticed a difference in my house!

My birthday was fun, even though it happened midweek and only a couple of people could join me for cake.  My son was unusually well-behaved (unlike now...he's hanging off my shirt and pulling on me as I type,) and my husband and I (sans child) ate at The Keg, which is a really tasty steakhouse.

Warning: TMI ahead

My 30th birthday had one surprise left at bedtime.  Let me just say that this has never happened to me before, and I thought that if I could do such a thing that I would've discovered it before now.  I'm one of those women who is blessed with vaginal orgasms.  I can have amazing, multiple orgasms with penetrative sex, not just oral.  It's nice.  In fact, I didn't know that not all women were like me until my mid-20's.  It made me sad to think that not everyone could do what I took for granted.  Anyway, I have to say that the one thing I was thankful for, besides said orgasms, was that I was not a female ejaculator.  Those women, rare as they are, have to deal with the most unpleasant part of sex for a man: the messy clean-up.  So, surprise, surprise, I received an interesting gift that night.  Yes, I squirted.  It was lame.  I was not pleased.  More than that, I was really shocked and so was my husband!  I thought that the women who did make such messes only did so for an extraordinary orgasmic experience.  Not so.  I mean, it was good.  It was really good, in fact.  But it wasn't the best, not by a long shot.  The best orgasms I've ever had are still from my second trimester of pregnancy.  Those were mind-blowingly incredible!  This was just an 8 out of 10.  Weird.

In short, I think the universe has a strange sense of humor.  Happy Birthday!  Now go wash your sheets.