Thursday, December 31, 2009

Little Ado About Much

I am deep in the first trimester haze so a collection of small thoughts about any number of things it is...

a- The pregnancy looks good. I'm sick but I think I might be somewhat less sick than my previous pregnancies. If I stop puking before the 6th month, we'll call it a win! I saw the OB the Tuesday before Christmas and all parts were there and the heartbeat was a good 170 bpm. Plus, I'm outgrowing my clothing. I am guessing that this one is a boy but we won't know for a while. Signs are good that we'll be welcoming a new friend in August!

b- I've slowly been worrying about what sort of care this poor third child can expect. We were so very on top of things with Charlie. His diapers were changed every 90 minutes, his every bodily function recorded, photo sessions happened monthly, if not more often. He got new clothing- even some stuff from Gymboree! There has been at least one instance where I honestly couldn't remember when Megan had last been changed. She gets clothes from the children's re-sale shop. We have to hunt a bit for photos and then can't remember if they were of Charlie or Megan. This third child better be both hearty and loud or at least patient.

c- I am beginning to really wonder how much of gender identity is genetic. Megan and Charlie have had access to basically the same toys. Megan carries around her baby and spends ages feeding it and rocking it and demanding that I tuck it in. Charlie uses the baby as a discus.

d- I am flirting with homeschooling as part of my long, slow march to being an accidental conservative. A full day of kindergarten seems like so much to expect of very small people. There are standardized test in KINDERGARTEN. Charlie is such a very sweet little soul (We have taken to having rest time in my room. I try to nap while Charlie watches on-demand shows from netflix on my computer. The other day he pulled the blanket up over my shoulder, patted me and said "sleep tight, I love you," and then kissed me. It was almost more than my hormonal self could take.) Some of the other little souls he meets will be decidedly less sweet. Also, I suspect he will be telling time and reading by the time he's 4. That poor kindergarten teacher will be trying to make sure no one wets themselves and no one gets decapitated with a block. Listening to Charlie read from Frog and Toad will be low on her list.

e- Why did my mother think it was a good idea to give the children finger paint for Christmas?

f- Why is it considered so out of the norm to now have 3 children but it's totally normal to have a minivan with seating for 8?

g- Charlie is hoping he will get a little brother and is really hoping we'll bring home the baby Jesus.

h- In one of the crowning ironies of life, I have developed a deep pregnancy aversion to saltines.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Other Shoe

My life has been going really nicely lately. My husband is well on his way to tenure and his job is secure. My children are ridiculously cute. Megan wear "all overs" (overalls) and asks us to "Hold you me!" Charlie is developing magical reading powers. He was a bear for a month and then woke up one morning, perfectly amiable and able to identify most, if not all, of his letters and numbers and is making swift strides to writing his name. He spends most of his play time pretending to be a fire truck and a helicopter and it's all just too adorable. I have the supplies to make this ornament wreath and I think I might actually get it made sometime before Christmas THIS YEAR. I keep waiting for the other shoe, the fly in the ointment, the accidental use of salt rather than sugar...

As you know, we decided that we wanted to have another baby in July. There had been some debate. I liked some of the logistics of having them very close together so there was discussion of aiming for a February baby but then Megan didn't sleep and I just couldn't face another sleep deprived pregnancy (note: Megan still doesn't sleep through the night but is significantly more on the ball than she was 6 months ago). There was then the April discussion. I adore the concept of a new baby in April. April just seems like such a very fresh and new month full of warm spring rains, hazy green mists in the trees, bulbs popping from the ground, and the wonderful possibility of it all. However, April and early May is also the time of exams, thesis defenses, and graduation and April in the mountains can mean lovely weather but can also mean high winds and snow flurries. Babysitters are scarce on the ground in this college town and preschool is winding down. And, our dog died in July so, and August "start date" it was.

And then the other shoe dropped. While Megan and Charlie both happened far faster than expected, this pregnancy was much more of a challenge. Every month I would experience the fatigue, hunger, and passing nausea for a week or so only to be feeling suspiciously better a couple of days before my period. I decided to start tracking my basal body temperature. I discovered that the time between when I ovulated was rather later than I thought and that the time between ovulation and completion of my cycle (to put it delicately) was not terribly compatible with implantation. I decided that I was ready to put things on hold until I could see my OB. I couldn't take another month of symptoms and temperature rises only to see it all go awry. Luteal phase defects are among the easiest of fertility problems to fix, especially in my case. I was fairly certain the problem was simply that my thyroid levels needed tweaking. And then my temperature began to rise and I missed my period.

I'm due in early August!

It is still quite early and I'm still worried that my thyroid medication needs tweaking but I was assured by the nurse that once you cross the initial threshold of pulling off the implantation in time to thwart your cycle, the LPD shouldn't be a major concern and my thyroid levels, while off, are not currently incompatible with life. The line has been getting darker and my temperature has stayed higher and mornings are starting to get dicey. Fingers crossed and prayers please but for now, I'm calling myself pregnant!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Super Mommy

So, since the end of July...

Megan and Charlie both started "school." Charlie is in preschool twice a week and Megan is in Mother's Day Out. Both are reasonably content with Charlie hitting the milestone of crying one morning when I had to break it to him that it wasn't actually a school day. I've been having to try to remember that they will be doing this twice a week for quite some time so I don't actually have to try to cram every single project I've been putting off since Megan's birth into one Tuesday morning. Working yourself into a productive frenzy has fabulous effects on piles of clutter and ridiculously messy floors but is sadly less than restorative.

I'm the membership co-ordinator for my MOPS group which resulted in quite the flurry of activity for the last couple of months but that seems to finally be settling down by virtue of the fact that we are at membership capacity.

We are currently trying for baby 3. If you are struggling with infertility skip the rest of this paragraph as it will make you mildly homicidal. Hem... Anyway, with both Megan and Charlie we went with the assumption that it would surely take more than one round to pull off the miracle which is conception resulting in a living, breathing, bouncing baby. We were wrong both times hence Charlie was NOT a Halloween baby (early September, in fact) and Megan had a very high likelyhood of being born during finals week (happily Megan decided to bake a bit longer than Charlie and missed both finals and graduation). This time we decided that it was really time to just go with the assumption that it will probably happen the first round and to plan accordingly. Did you just hear Fate guffaw? We've had a swing and a miss. Hopefully, good news will come my way soon because I have an irrational determination to not have a baby in August. In fact the experience is really beginning to make me think that there is something to the idea that God opens and closes the womb. By rights, there is no way Megan should have been procured when she was and Charlie was statistically rather improbable. This baby should have been a slam dunk but wasn't. Life is an odd alchemy, isn't it?

On to the point...

The part about motherhood that I find to be a complete trip is the way that I developed superhuman powers simply by making it through the 3rd grade. I can cut with scissors, read Dr Suess, and zip jackets. I know all the words to Row, Row, Your Boat and can count to 20 with 1:1 correspondence. I can reach the paper towel dispenser in all the bathrooms and am not afraid of the hand dryer- even the really loud, ridiculously powerful one at Target. I keep my underwear dry all the time and always go in the potty! I can find the missing baby and build towers 10 blocks high. I am incredible! I'm just hoping this last for a few more years because I love being able to fix it all with a hug and tape and a kiss.

Thursday, July 30, 2009



a- wonders if Mr. Obama is aware of how much energy my children expend resisting sleep and wonders if he is looking into a way to harness it as a renewable resource

b- wishes Megan had taken her morning nap

c- emphatically decides that there will be NO MORE CHILDREN and then Charlie begins discussing the caterpickles and Megan starts dancing using the only move she knows- the wiper motion from the Wheels on the Bus- to Mary Had Little Lamb and both give kisses and I wonder how we will ever manage to cut ourselves off

d- hopes Doctor #11 is as hot and adorable as Doctor #10

e- wonders where Megan picked up the Maine accent- "Oh, Dea-ah," indeed

f- is convinced that people's clothing must have been perpetually damp and the towels perpetually questionable in the summer in Virginia before dryers and is beginning to seriously question if the Earth might not want saving and is in fact having a go at Hiri Kiri

g- still really wishes Megan had taken her morning nap

h- wishes her house was cleaning itself- she suspects that those who have had this particular FlyLady experience don't have 2 young children

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Clothes Line

I've been trying to line dry our clothing since it started getting warm. Of course, I was quite frustrated by the long string of cool, cloudy and rainy days which were interspersed with extreme humidity- apparently, it doesn't matter how sunny it looks, nothing gets dry with 80% humidity. I am at a complete loss as to how a vast majority of the world ever managed to wear anything both dry and clean throughout history as one or the other is apparently quite elusive a great bit of the time.

I'm hoping for some tangible benefits such as the children's clothing making it longer without stains since they will be in the sun and the stains won't be set by the dryer but I don't have high hopes. I will have to satisfy myself with the mild sense of superiority I get or at least the hope that this evens out some of my vast car related carbon footprint- having a little boy who asks each and every day, "Mama, what we can go today?" sets the bar a bit high for those hoping to consolidate errands...

It is rather nice to have 10 minutes or so to simply enjoy being outside and the luxury of knowing something will be done for you (evaporation of water) while you work on other important tasks (such as getting yet another bagel out for my littlest carb fiend). I tend to hang the laundry during rest time while Megan naps and Charlie watches a show (it just got to be too much to try to get him to stay in his bed so we go with a very early bed time and some tv downtime during the day- while tv is not ideal, it does get us both through the day). So, it's often a bit of time to reflect on the day and think random thoughts. The thing that keeps occurring to me is just how much you can divine from the clothes line.

You can see exactly how Charlie's potty training is going; how Megan is sleeping (when it gets bad, things mostly go in the dryer); how Megan is napping (did I get out 1 load or 2?); that I never manage to wash Megan's sheets since the only time I get to strip beds is when she's sleeping on said sheets; that I, apparently, have no racy clothing- in fact, I apparently never wear underthings (actually, I just dry all undies inside); and when my husband is out of town. In fact, I can only imagine what a blow the dryer was to the community gossips.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Power of Polish

I had thought that liking to have polished toenails was a personal quirk but after a discussion at a book club, I began to see the power of polish. We were talking about make-up. Some of us, like me, have a vague desire to wear a little something. Just enough to indicate that we are still worth it, damn it. We may be wearing the capris we dug out of the clothes bin, have sippy cups leaking in our purses and been slowly crossing the line from, hmmm, I need to shave to perhaps I'll just wear pants this summer. But, we're still worth the 5 seconds it takes to swipe the lipstick across our mouths or use a touch of eye liner. There is a particle, somewhere, that is still woman, not Mommy, and belongs to us. Somehow, eeking out those extra 5 seconds of "me" time just doesn't happen. For my part, a great deal of it is habit. The last time I regularly applied make-up was high school and it' just not part of my routine anymore. Those extra 30 second in the shower are just too luscious to pass up (not to mention the extra 2 minutes I spent trying to get OUT of the warm, comfy, non-whining bed and motivated to get IN said shower). However, there seems to be one last bastion of beauty- your toe nails.

Most notably, the hard-line feminists would be so proud. A great deal of the time we paint our toes just for us. In the fall and winter and a good chunk of the rainy spring, our toes are safely enshrined in sensible shoes and warm socks. No one will see the shocking magenta, trendy brown, or sex-on-a-stick red. The plus, of course, is that not only are our toes chilblain free, the socks make it so they only need real attention every few weeks. Even the most hassled mother can manage 20 minutes every 3 weeks or so, especially since waiting for your nails to dry is The Perfect excuse to sit and whatever- read, watch tv, write a blog post...

Of course, the summer brings open toes and more frequent maintenance but is there anything quite as luscious as sitting outside, listening to birds, watching the grass grow and waiting for paint to dry as your husband corrals the children? Why not do it once every week or so?

One of the things I was happiest about with my pregnancies was that I was always able to manage to paint my toes. It required some odd contortions- near the end, I would sit in the glider, prop my foot on the footrest and rock myself forward to manage each swipe of the brush.

My toes are pink and are pink just for me. I am worth 20 minutes every 2 weeks.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Becky's Helpful Houshold Hints

1- 1/2 cup vinegar, 10 drops of tea tree oil and 15 drops of grapefruit seed extract will kill the stuff in your shower (but not bleach the mildew stains- sorry!)

2- 1 cup of vinegar in your rinse cycle will keep your clothes static free- nope they won't smell like vinegar when they dry. Added bonus- it won't effect the flame retardants in your children's clothing and has antifungal and antibacterial properties so, good-bye thrush!

3- Always have a snackbox in your purse. Charlie's has cheerios, goldfish, some sort of cracker and a box of raisins. Megan's has puffs and cheerios. I also keep 2 extra boxes of raisins, a lollipop, a battery operated toy phone, and a vibrating teether stashed in my purse- this can see us through just about anything.

4- If at all possible, get to stores by 9 am (or when they open, if later) and plan to leave by 11:30. There will be plenty of help available, short lines, and you'll get the best pick of the mark-downs. You'll get in and out in no time. Your children's behavior will also, magically, be about 300% better than if you tried to do the same errands at 4.

5- Use your used dryer sheets to dust baseboards and windowsills. The residual anti-static stuff will help them stay dust-free longer.

6- A Roomba is the best Mother's Day gift evah!

7- Always bring along a (re-useable) bottle of water for yourself and cups for the kids. Being thirsty just makes everything worse.

8- Rice/Corn cakes make the perfect car snack for little ones. They are big enough to a- keep them happy for a while and to b- easy for little hands to grab when you are trying to pass them back while driving. They also keep fairly indefinitely, aren't sticky and are reasonably food allergy safe.

9- Always keep trail mix in the car for you- The tex-mex one from Target that comes in the tub is my favorite.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Books- a cuteness vignette!

Megan has had a slightly more than passing interest in books for a while now. Of note was the Feely Bugs book we got from the library a month or so back. It was a big hit and I can't recommend it enough for the tactile set. Although, a good bit of monitoring is needed since the feathers will come off (as we discovered).

Megan has also (to our shock) started talking in the last couple of weeks. "Apple" is her most intelligible word with a "ma" constellation that can me more, mama (maybe), or banana depending on slight variances in inflection. "Hold you," "uh-oh," "kisses," and "woof woof" also make appearances. We also now have a "ba" constellation. She had been pretty solid on "ball" but today she added "book" to what we have to figure out based on gesture and inflection. It was the first instance that I really got to see the "aha" moment for her.

This afternoon I threw caution to the winds and decided to try to read a bit of Multiple Blessings while the children played. Megan, of course, wanted to see the book so I gave her a touch and feel book to look at. As we explored the pages, I repeatedly said "book." She enjoyed it and started saying "bo" so I pulled another touch and feel off the shelf and said "book" as we explored again.

This evening, Charlie was a hair shy of narcolepsy so bath was early. When Megan and I went downstairs to nurse she was not as sleepy as usual and noticed the books on the endtable saying "bo." So, we looked at the books. Being the neglected second child, we haven't done well with a book at bedtime but this seemed a fine time to start. After a thrilling few minutes with the fuzzy duckling and soft calf Megan started to squirm saying "bo." I let her down and she promptly went over to the bookshelf and started excited pulling books down saying "bo" inquiringly. After being assured that these were, in fact books, even the softcover one and the one made of cloth, she proudly carried one after another to me, climbing into my lap and examining them, occasionally kissing the book just for good measure.

If there was ever a doubt, Megan is definitely her mother's daughter. I can't wait to introduce her to all my favorites!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


My house is not quite as much a mess as it was but still very much a work in progress. My cardmaking supplies haven't been touched in months. My blog is neglected. My book reading rate is surprisingly robust. My husband has been waiting for me to hem a curtain for the better part of a year. Penny desperately needs to be brushed.

My children are intensely needy right now. Neither can handle any bodily function unaided. Charlie can generally get unclothed well enough to pee-pee in the potty but re-dressing can be challenging. They need me to feed them, help them fall asleep, keep them clean, keep them rested, and provide balance to their lives. Their father and I are their Alpha and Omega. This is my current season. This season is about learning to serve others, most always. This is a humble season. This is an uncertain season. This season is fleeting, so I am told, but feels quite long.

The idea of seasons in life is sustaining me. I am not biblical enough to repeat the pertinent passages to myself (Ecclesiastes 3. 1-8), instead I take the secular route, humming the Simon and Garfunkle song periodically. Remembering that just as summer lounging follows the vigorous activity of a spring joyfully met, so will a slightly less intense period follow this one. There will come a day of no more diapers, sleeping through the night, quiet mornings when all the little people are at school, and a lunch eaten, sitting, the whole way through. There will come a season when I can devote more thoughtful attention to my children, when I will have slept well enough to form a coherent sentence and contrive clever projects for them. There will come a season when I can introduce them to Anne Shirley, Harry Potter, and Nick and Nora. There will come a time when I don't thank God that they are so cute and have so much biological drive behind their care because, Good Heavens, Megan was up for 2 hours last night and I just don't know how much longer I can do this. There will come a day when, instead of experiencing them, I will be remembering the firsts and the sweetness and the cuddles and the giggles. It will be a season for new firsts, new uncertainties, new causes for sleepless nights.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Talkin' 'bout my generation...

Has anyone else noticed that there is much discussion about going back to the values/traditions/whatnot of "our grandparent's?" I don't think our parent's generation has been referenced at all as a standard which should be hearkened back to. Interestingly, these references seem to uniformly looking towards people who came of age in the Great Depression which is not really accurate, at all, for most of the boomers. Is it just further resistance on their part of being able to say that you should have listened to your parents? It seems it would be the height of annoyance for those who spent most of their lives looking at their parent's values with scorn, to suddenly have to admit their wisdom. When it comes down to it, my generation is much luckier in that respect. It seems we can say with some confidence that the monetary values we were taught based on a lending economy aren't quite all they are cracked up to be- our parents really weren't always right. While we may not reap the same rewards of an implicit confidence that we will see ever increasing incomes and standards of living we may also have the benefit of at least knowing that what we have is ours and not actually the property of Visa.

This zeitgeist of "our grandparents" rather than "our parents" has been circling in my head a great deal as of late. My husband travels for work rather frequently. We have wound up calling on my mother for back-up and the experience has wound up being quite hard on me. She has tended to be astonishingly unreliable. Perpetually, she will agree to various dates only to then change her mind, need to leave a day or two early, arrive a day or two late, etc, etc. Her attitude is in constant flux as well. There are times that there will be tearful farewells and others when she will storm out in a huff. Sometimes she will anxiously ask if she should come down for the weekend to allow us to get a much needed break when my husband isn't traveling while other times she will need to stay at home for events that seem less than pressing when our need is much greater. While I wish there was another option- a friend to call upon, a sister, anyone- there isn't. (this is actually part of what drives my desire to have a larger family for my children) And, I get just enough intermittent reinforcement to continue to call her.

There have been several tearful discussions with my husband about the issue. We are thinking of another child and I just don't know how I will do solo parenting 2 young children, pregnant and sick with a third. A reliable back-up is becoming a more pressing need and will be for at least the next couple of years. I think that by the time everyone is at least 2 or so, things will ease a bit but right now, the physical demands are intense. However, I know that other mother's manage similar situations with calm and even panache. I am forever wondering if I'm just expecting too much from my mother or if I am just less than competent.

Last night, he suggested that my mother might be the least bit selfish. I'm not sure I would go that far. It seems not to be selfishness as much as self-centeredness. Another woman of my mother's age made the comment the other day that the students graduating into this very uncertain job market will be taught the value of "not having things handed to them" and that "sometimes you have to make do." This was so very lacking in self-awareness. While I do not know a great deal about this woman's background, I know enough to be reasonably certain that when she graduated college it was to a market that had jobs available and, more to the point, credit readily available. In addition, her parents were graciously making way in the job market to allow those younger worker the opportunity to work. To pretend that you could lump her experience in with those who came of age in the '30's is the height of ridiculousness. I find the continued experience with both self-centeredness and a lack of awareness to be particularly confounding when contrasted with the high level of social activism of the generation.

I started hunting for information about generational psychology and boomer psychology in specific as of late. I am one of those uber-reflective types that likes to know exactly why I find my parents' generation so annoying- is it simply the naturally occurring desire to develop my own sense of self or does it go deeper? Am I being self-centered in my own demands of my parents? Will my children look back in 30 years and wonder how my generation went so wrong? To the point... as I was searching I found several references to how the boomers refuse to acknowledge their own mortality. This aspect was the catalyst of my decision that my parents are stuck in a generation that seems to be slightly frozen in the teenage stage of development- once they were idealistic, now they are struggling with the superman complex seen most often in teens, with the narcissism, self-centerness and lack of awareness that they were complaining about seeing in us just 10 years ago. I would like to think I outgrew that but I guess I will have to wait to see if I did for another 25 years or so when my children call on me for help when I would rather be at book group.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Case for Conversion

I was once a practicing member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. The reason for my conversion was simple. They were the only group I could find that readily embraced and validated my goals. I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I wanted to make a house a home. I wanted to cook dinner and pack nutritious lunches. I wanted to have babies. The problem I ran into is that girls in the church are strongly pushed in this direction. I feel strongly that while this is what I wanted to do, it's not what I wanted to tell my daughters they should do. If Megan wants to stay at home and raise babies, I will fully support her but if she decides that she would like to go to work while her partner stays home or that she wants no part of babies, I will fully support that goal as well. This, along with their position of homosexuality, led to me re-joining the Methodist church.

While we were at the library today, I ran into a woman with a gaggle of children who had kind words for me when I discovered Charlie had managed to wet his pants and underwear AGAIN (how could one sippy cup possibly lead to so much pee!) I sorely wished I could talk with her more but off we went. The characteristic western accent as well as the lifestyle decisions she had made strongly suggested that she was Mormon (if I can make some sweeping assumptions... Through the day, I reflected on how much I miss being Mormon at this stage in my life. Methodists don't really have much in the way of large families. The norm is generally to stick with 2, 3 at the outside. Even then, it seems that, more often than not, those with 3 got there without intending to. When I speak of wanting 4, I'm look at askance. I'm an aberration. To make things worse, I sometimes speak about how difficult it is to be home with young children. I occasionally share my frustrations. I have been known to respond to someone telling me that these years are fleeting with a heartfelt, "Thank God!"

I don't know precisely why I want a larger family. I'm sure it is a convoluted mish-mash of experiences with larger families while growing up, a desire that my children have a happier upbringing than I did (and therefor a different family size), a manifestation of the loneliness I have and do feel at time and a desire to give them a built in social structure. I knew I wanted more than 2 and there seems to be a bit of common wisdom that says that 3 is the hardest hump to get over. So, if we're going to slog through that, we might as well go with 4 to even things up. I'm not sure any of this is a real reason to decide to have more children but it seems as sensible a set of reasons as any. After all, when it comes to it, I have no sensible reason for having had 1 child and certainly nothing of any weight to advocate for a second- Charlie having been anything but an easy baby. I do know that I feel strongly that I would like to have 4. It is the same sort of certainty that came with my feeling that Charlie would be a boy and Megan a girl and that if I am ever due in October, it will be a boy. It's just one of those things in the cosmos that sets itself in your head. If I don't have at least 3, I am quite certain I will always feel something is missing and I may feel someone is missing until we hit 4.

At the same time, I love having 2 children. I love discovering how different they are and marveling that they both came from the same pool of genetic material. I love the way they hold hands in the car. I love watching Megan catch Charlie's eye to exchange smiles.

I also feel like I'm finally getting the hang of things. My second pregnancy was hard in it's own way but so much more manageable. I knew which pants would fit, which tea to drink, which morning sickness medicine that would work. I know even more now. I'm starting to figure out how to make the house at least marginally picked up, how to keep up with laundry, how to juggle 2 children in the grocery store. It seems like such a waste to have finally started getting things figured out, only to leave this stage behind.

Although, that brings me to the other reason I would find having some Mormon mom friends so helpful... These are women who have often come from larger families and are having larger families. I need some mentors. I need some women who can tell me which stores have carts that will hold 3 children. I need some women who can support my assumption that it is hard but it's also worth it; that you don't stop having babies just because the days are very challenging.

I need some women who support the idea that you can choose to have a larger family, not because you are having as many babies as God will give you but that you are actively choosing to have more children. I find the idea of simply "opening yourself to the will of God" to be disingenuous. Having unprotected sex multiple times a month has rather predictable consequences. I don't find this to be an expression of God's intentions so much as a biology experiment. To me, it seems just as spiritual, if not more so, to give a great deal of conscious and unconscious attention to the issue of children and follow a course of action commensurate to how you feel led.

My days of late have been long. I am fighting against a strong tide. My peers say that 2 is more than enough. My husband and I haven't adequately slept in years. My husband's work is pressing hard and isn't the most family friendly. It can get tense. I don't like uncertainty and there are no clear answers in this situation. Maybe my gut is wrong and I should quit while I'm ahead.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Whole "Gifted" Thing

So, I have been hanging out at Facebook quite a bit- to the detriment of my blog I'm afraid. It's so easy to splash up a sentence and skip over the whole paragraph thing...

Anyway, something that keeps hitting me in the face is that I'm just not all that special. Of course, I already knew that but what is also being driven home to me is that those other kids, the other ones that were in the special class with me... they're not all that special either. At least, not the ones on facebook. My mother always said that IQ was only part of the equation. The important thing was what you did with all that brain power. In fact, she claims that my brother has a higher IQ than I do. While I got a graduate degree and a job more white than blue collar, he did manage to finally get his degree from a less prestigious institution than I and then work a series of sales and blue collar jobs. However, of note is that he does love his current job and has acquired a number of skills associated with it and has climbed his way up to a supervisory sort of position. In fact, I would like to pause at this point to say...

Blue Collar Is Just Fine! No Degree Is Just Fine! I Am Not Better Than My Brother!

Well, I am better than my brother but for other reasons...

In contrasts, my husband has a very slightly lower IQ than I do (very slight, in fact, well within the standard variation and meaningless but I like to point it out anyway) but he has a Doctorate and is a Professor (with Doctoral candidates). I am more nimble linguistically but he has it all over me in math.

As for my classmates, they may skew slightly higher in the areas traditionally associated with higher intelligence- things like being doctors. But, on the whole, they seem to settle out roughly on par with the rest of my high school class. This is, of course, a skewed sample set, especially since the gifted class only went through 5
th grade, and, not everyone is on Facebook. We have a healthy smattering of teachers and engineers across the board as well as a few outliers like a wedding planner.

It makes me wonder what exactly is going on... If we had a school system that targeted highest achievement rather than adequate, would more of these "gifted" minds be doing more? Why is it that some children probably never were spotted as "gifted" but go on to such high achievement? Should we really bother to test at all but instead just look at the kids who stand out to the teacher for whatever reason? This is
certainly done in special ed. I had several students that were in my purview simply because of behavioral anomalies- intelligence-wise, they were completely typical. There was no terribly scientific way of quantifying that something was wrong but, when you begin to actually froth at the mouth and talk with your mother through the spine of your math book (and get answers) the general feeling is that, perhaps you could use a little "extra attention."

At the same time, I look at my children and see that they are likely quite bright. I say this as a person with a Master's in this sort of thing, not as a mother. As a mother, I would like them to be happy and pee pee in the potty- I don't care so much about their phonemic
awareness, startling linguistic developments and whatnot. But, as one who had memorize many a chart with expected times of milestones, I can say my kids are ahead. I suspect, that when raising them, it will be good to have this sense of perspective. It is helpful to know that no matter how bright, or not bright, they may turn out to be, that the numbers really won't ever mean anything much.

Monday, January 05, 2009

I'm Flying!

I decided to start the FlyLady system a couple of weeks ago. As I like to say... "We are well on our way to Ramseying out of debt and now will be flying out of clutter."

In one of those stupid sorts of things, I am getting a little worried that I'm turning into my parents and should have just listened to them all along- after all, you are always warned against repeating the sins of your fathers and learning from your elders. Have I spent the last 10 years of my life (my years as an independent adult) getting into all manner of difficulty that I could have skipped if I had just swallowed my stubborn and listened. After considered thought and discussion with my husband, I was heartened to decide that this was probably not the case.

As with money, my mother also took a very hard line, somewhat extreme view towards cleaning. She did advocate some of the flylady basics of picking up after yourself regularly and wiping up the kitchen every night. However, these sensible steps were tempered by some less than manageable expectations- my mother scrubs the kitchen floor on hands and knees once a week. This is apparently a hold-over from when my brother and I were crawling about and putting everything in our mouths. While I freely admit that when my children are crawling, I see merit in the hands and knees periodic wipedown or even when your children aren't- I draw the line at continuing mouthing, crawling children standards when said children are well over driving age. In another instance, I remember her telling me about how exhausted she was but that she wouldn't be able to sleep until she had vacuumed her bedroom. Might I say that it is a rare moment that the dustbunnies who are currently hoping to be numerous enough to finally organize that fantasy football league cross my mind at bedtime, let alone prevent me from sleeping. On the other end, my mother gave up on the bathroom shower curtains sometime when I was in middle school. The get a wink and a nod every few months and then are replaced when they begin petitioning for civil liberties. You might see how this left me with little practical knowledge (hee, spell check wanted to make that piratical knowledge!) of how to manage a household.

So far, I'm in the decluttering stage. I have completed the living room and am currently working on the kitchen. I'm hoping to to get to really start cleaning next month when we rotate through the zones again. For now, I'm trying to do a consistent 15 minutes a day and hope to add a 2 minute hotspot drill in the next week or so. Ultimately, I'm hoping to manage with 10-15 minutes a day in home blessing work and 15 minutes or so of zone chores as well as a couple of fire drills morning and night. I like structure and organization which makes the flylady a good fit for me. Plus, by the end of a day more than 30 minutes seems wildly beyond my reach. I'm also hoping to be able to take weekends off, by and large, and I would really like to be able to avoid the great Saturday morning clean which had seemed inevitable. As an added bonus, I seem to be at least a touch ahead of where many people are when they start, based on her writings, so I get to fit just a tad smug at how well I've already been doing. This would be the first time I've ever gotten to feel ahead of the clean house curve.

For those wondering, neither of my previous posts had to do with my New Year's resolution which is to avoid using single-use cups- especially plastic ones.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Fighting the Frump

So, Megan's little self is doing something that results in her not sleeping as in we have now crossed the line between limping along in a half-assed fashion, generally squeaking by with enough collective sleep to not be a danger to self or others while driving to having come to Jesus meetings with a 7 month old at 4 am (which, for the record, doesn't work) and odd, swimmy head moments that leave you fairly certain you shouldn't be trying to chop that onion just now.

In other news, we are back to potty training. We took a break when Charlie started crying hysterically at the mention of the potty on the second day of the last go. This time we were armed with car underwear and lollipops. We've been working on it for just over 2 weeks now and he's reasonably good with keeping his underwear dry (we went with a 2 pronged approach- rewarding both for dry underwear AND potty action) but pooping is a whole other matter. To gloss over the finer points, he doesn't seem to be in touch with his body enough to really be able to pull the needed steps off. I'm sure we'll get there but this wasn't the best time for Megan to go on a no-sleep, all mommy cuddles, all the time, bender.

On to the actual point of the post... I have never been particularly concerned with my appearance. I liked to look reasonably put together but never did much in the way of accessories, blow drying, or make-up. After 2 children, I'm starting to want to do a little something for myself. I want to feel like I count. I want to feel "worth it" to steal a phrase. So, I have decided I will start to fight the creeping frump. I have manged to consistently moisturize for a while now and am ready to add the step of using a touch of powder. I really want to try mineral make-up but I haven't decided which kind yet- drugstore, Arbonne, or Mary Kay. I tried eye shadow the other day but, even though I have worn it fairly regularly before, it just makes me want to rub my eyelids these days. I have hit a slight snag with hair cuts as well. I've gone through all manner of hair dresser drama over the last 3 cuts and am hoping to land on a hair dresser that is fairly cheap and also doesn't take her cues from Mrs. Brady sometime soon- really, I just want a fairly short shag and/or bob. It seems like it shouldn't be all that hard. The local Gap Outlet has helped me make admirable in-roads on my wardrobe but we're in the easy season. It's somewhat easy to look put-together in winter- you have cords and pants which go nicely with chunky loafers and then you can throw on a stylishly snug sweater. Summer is always so much more complicated for me- even more so since I have been pregnant, newly done with pregnancy, and/or nursing for 3 summers now and my clothes are the weird sizes that go with that. I used to be able to fall back on sundresses but nursing has thrown a wrench in that. Not to mention the loss of B. Moss which was the sundress source of choice. Oh, well... that's a problem for another day. For now, I just need to get a non-mullet and pick some powder- suggestions welcome.