Saturday, November 27, 2010

turkey day

It's been a busy, exciting, exhausting week.  We have a bunch of family in town, rotating in and out (mom- and dad-in-law are here all week, my sister was here Wednesday and Thursday before flying off to Texas for the weekend, my bro-in-law and his girlfriend have been here since Wednesday and leave to go back to the city today).  It's been fun to have everyone around, but it's also interesting to note how exhausted I get just from being around this many people at once.  D has been loving all the attention, though it also seems to be taking its toll on him somewhat as he's kinda been falling apart each night around bedtime.  He loves playing with everyone else, but the pre-nap and pre-bedtime routines are, apparently, sacred and only Mommy is allowed to perform those duties.  I wonder if this is also him sensing that baby-time may be near...

Thanksgiving dinner was pretty awesome.  Between the pregnancy and our not-grand-sized kitchen, we opted to order a pre-cooked meal instead of trying to make our own.  I think it was worth the splurge.  ; )  Everything was delicious, and we've got plenty of leftovers to tide us over through the weekend.  May be doing this again in the future, depending on where we find ourselves at Thanksgiving.

I've been eager to get Christmas decorations out, so yesterday I pulled out our little 3ft tall tree, and D helped me put the ornaments on.  I also hung our stockings.  I've always loved the Christmas season, though it seems to feel even more special now that I have a child to share it with.  D had so much fun helping with the tree, it was pretty adorable.  Then last night we had a living room dance party to a Barenaked Ladies Christmas CD.  I got a short bit of it on video, may be able to share later. ; )

Monday, November 22, 2010

Take a gander!

I thought it'd be fun to have people guess just when this baby will make his grand entrance.  So, here's the deal. Leave a comment with your guesses for the following:

1. Date of birth (can include time of day if you feel extra prescient/lucky).
2. Baby's birth weight

My official due date is December 11, which means baby could come anytime between now (37 wks 2days) and Christmas Day (42wks).

(In case you want to take this into consideration, D was born at 39wks 6 days (barely- 1:30am), and was 7lb 15oz at birth)

So... what do you think?  ; )

Sunday, November 21, 2010

fun times ahead

My in-laws arrived this afternoon, they'll be in town for the next week.  My brother-in-law, his girlfriend, and my sister will then come out Wednesday night, and we'll all have a big Thanksgiving celebration together.  It'll probably be hectic, crowded, and I'm totally looking forward to it all.  D has entered a phase where he kinda freaks out when he first sees family members who are visiting (as in, screaming and running away from people he normally ADORES) but after the first few minutes he goes back to being totally enamored with them.  It's so interesting seeing these changes in his social behavior (which seems to be going through tons of development right now).  So while I know he'll be over the moon with everyone here this week, I imagine it'll also throw him for a bit of a loop.

Just a few weeks ago I was kinda freaking out at the very thought of trying to meet the needs of a newborn and a toddler at the same time.  I'm feeling a bit calmer about it all now (perhaps b/c I'm focusing on know that my mom will be here to help for at least the first few weeks).  I've also started looking forward to having a cute teeny baby around, this time with the difference of feeling so much comfortable with newborns and with my skills and knowledge as a mother.  With D, I felt like I had no clue what I was doing for a long time.  I remember feeling somewhat shellshocked when he was born, when the midwife first placed him on my chest, and he started crying and I honestly did not know what to do.  It will be nice to be more relaxed this time around, to feel more confident (at least, I hope I'll feel that way... ).  And maybe this is part of why I feel more impatient about giving birth this time than I did with D.

So. Zach is home from his business trip.  His parents are here, eager to play with their grandchild.  And I get to spend these last few days/weeks watching my firstborn and basking in just how incredibly beautiful and adorable he is, able to fully focus on him just a bit longer before his baby brother enters the picture.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

fall leaves and my snaggle-toothed cat

I don't know if I didn't notice this before or if the environment/climate/types of trees are just that different here vs in San Jose, but it just really feels like fall this year.  IT helps that this area has so many big, tall trees lining the streets, and most of them are turning colors and dropping beautifully yellow leaves.  It's lovely, and almost makes me wish we lived somewhere with true four seasons (almost...I'll deal with living somewhere that gets a summer, most of fall/spring, and where we can easily drive to the snow if/when we want).

So today I finally took Sierra in for her kitty tooth cleaning and pulling.  We decided to go with the regular vet, since their estimate was much cheaper and figuring the expertise should be close enough to be comparable.  D and I dropped her off this morning then picked her up in the afternoon... she seems to be doing ok, her fur looks a little scraggly and her eyes a bit glazed, but otherwise ok.  First thing she did once back home was go upstairs and curl up on our bed.  The cute thing is, Nev soon went after her, and has been lying on the bed, too, though on the opposite end, the whole time.  It really does seem like she's watching over Sierra.  

In the end they took out 3 teeth-- her upper right canine, a top left molar, and another teensy molar at the very back of her mouth.  Apparently the extractions were pretty simple since the roots were mostly chewed away at by the gingivitis/infection/whatever exactly it was.  I have some pain meds I can give her tonight and tomorrow (that should be interesting...), and then they suggested I bring her back in in about a month to make sure everything's healed up properly.  By that point I'll probably have to knock her out to get her anywhere near her carrier, she'll be so sick of going to the vet.  =(

Zach comes home tomorrow night.  Will be so nice to see him...  I miss his help as a fellow parent, of course, but I also am really missing just getting to be around him and talk and catch up about our days, as all our conversations this week have been so short (5-10mins).  D definitely misses his daddy... kept talking about him yesterday, about daddy coming back from his trip or wanting to go to the airport to meet him.  It'll be fun for him to wake up Saturday morning with daddy back home again.  Should be a really nice weekend.  =)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Giving New Meaning to the Phrase "Fly the 'Friendly' Skies"-- TSA and New National "Security" Guidelines

Over the past few days I've been reading story after story about the new security procedures that the TSA has put in place, including the new full-body x-ray scanning machines and "enhanced" pat-downs that include touching of the face, hair, breasts, and groin with the palm and fingers of the TSA agent, in full view of everyone else waiting to go through security.  My understanding is that these new full-body scans will eventually replace the metal detectors at all airports, and anyone who refuses to go through one (or who sets off any alarms, or in other way seems "suspicious" (or just if they decide to do a random screening on you) will have to go through the enhanced pat-downs.  Here are several links with more info and personal stories:

So. Basically, it seems that if you want to fly your options are 1) to go through a machine that will show strangers in a different room an image of you naked 9and image that may or may not actually be deleted afterwards) and that could possibly give you cancer, or 2) have your privates groped by a stranger, in public.

I tried to find info on the TSA website about these new security procedures. All I could find was this:

Pat-Down Inspection
A pat-down inspection complements the hand-wand inspection. In order to ensure security, this inspection may include sensitive areas of the body. Security Officers are rigorously trained to maintain the highest levels of professionalism.  You may request that your pat-down inspection be conducted in private.

(There's also a post on the TSA blog on the new "enhanced" pat-downs, but it's even more vague)

From my own experience, I started thinking about the logistical nightmare that all this means for a parent traveling alone with young children.  Under the TSA's page on travel with children, they specify that they will never ask you to be separated from your children... yet the mother in the 3rd story above had to set her daughter down for the pat-down.  Luckily she had a stroller right there-- what if she hadn't?  What if she'd been relying on a sling to carry her infant, would she have had to set her down on the floor? (The TSA page also says that you cannot hand your child to an agent to hold).

What about going through the machines?  My understanding is that you have to take everything out of your pockets to go through the scanner, then stand with your arms up and hold still for 3 full seconds while the machine scans you.  I imagine this means you can't hold your kid as you go through (unlike going through the usual metal detectors).  Also, it sounds like while you're in the scanner you cannot see out very well, so lose sights of your belongings... and wherever you set down your child.  I was hoping to see info on how to handle this on the TSA website, but... nothing.

Also, since kids (especially toddlers and younger) can't exactly hold still for 3 seconds to get scanned, does that mean they all have to be subjected to the full groping pat-down?  I just wrote a post last week on teaching our kids to not accept being touched inappropriately by anyone, I'm not exactly keen on watching a stranger in an airport fondle my son's junk (whether it be at 2yrs, or 5yrs, or 10 yrs old, or at any age).

And then I haver to think, if this makes me uncomfortable, what about someone who's been sexually abused or assaulted?  What about a transgender person?  I hear people saying this is "no big deal" but what do these measures even really do?  The next step (which neither the full-body scans nor the current pat-downs would detect) is for someone to stash powder/gels/etc inside a body cavity.  Will we then all have to be strip-searched to get on a plane?  Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?

I understand that we're trying to protect our safety in flight travel, but I seriously wonder if any of this makes us any safer.  I keep hearing references to the "underwear bomber" from last Christmas as part of the reason why these new measures are being put in place.  I have no idea if any of this would have stopped him.  What might have? Better intelligence, that caught the RED FLAG of someone buying a one-way international ticket and not checking any bags.  I sincerely hope (though somehow doubt) that those security and intelligence holes have been patched before anyone decided to start groping regular American passengers.  (I also think back to the few times I've left, say, a bottle of water in my backpack, and it's gone through security without any issues, and, well, it doesn't make me feel all that confident in the procedures we already have in place)

Last thing-- here's a reminder of the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution:
'The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.'
Many people are swearing not to fly until these new measures are removed.  We usually fly 2-4 times a year to visit family, though with the baby coming we already knew we weren't going anywhere for Christmas and likely won't travel for several months after (if not till next Christmas).  I don't know what I'd do if we had tickets already bought to go home next month... I'm glad I have time to see what happens with all this.  I don't want to subject any of us to either the scans or pat-downs... yet not flying at all isn't a realistic long-term option for us, since we live so far away from our families.  As luck would have it, Zach's actually in the middle of a series of business trips this week, flying once a day.  He says so far he hasn't seen any of this-- I think it's still only select airports that have the machines/new regulations.  But it sounds like the goal is to soon have them everywhere.  So I guess we'll see what happens...

I did send a message to my congresspeople and the White House expressing my concern/outrage about all this.  If you feel the same, I hope you will, too.  Also, if you are flying next week, consider participating in the National Opt-Out Day:

Edit: The ACLU put together this guide of what your options are at security.  (It doesn't exactly match some of the stories I've read from others' experiences, but at least gives you some idea of what to expect... and contact info in case you need to file any complaints)

Rep. Ron Paul introduces HR 6416 The American Traveler Dignity Act.  Requires TSA officials to follow all the usual US laws when dealing with passengers (makes sense, huh?).

Risk of dying from backscatter radiation may be about the same as risk of getting killed by terrorist.

Monday, November 15, 2010

bath time blues

D used to love bath time. It was hard getting him out of the bath tub.  He'd sit and play with his toys and cups, splash about, etc.  Fun times!  The only part he disliked was getting his hair washed, but then it seemed we were turning a corner with that and he was tolerating it much more.

Then, a few weeks ago, something changed, and he went from LOVING baths to HATING them. With a passion.  As in, at best he'll stand in the tub and scream and cry with tears running down his face.  At worst I've had to physically restrain him as I try to splash some water on him to make the effort and trauma at least somewhat worthwhile.  Tonight I even tried making it a bubble bath (bubble baths are FUN right??) but no dice.  He still hated it, screamed the whole time.

I really don't know what did it.  I can't think of a bad or scary experience that might've caused him to hate/fear baths, we haven't switched products so don't think it could be a reaction to something... I'm at a loss.  He's not keen on showers, either.  At least it's winter, so he can sort of get away with only taking a bath 1-2 times a week (and let's not talk about how long it's been since we even attempted to wash his hair)... but GAH! This sucks.  It reminds me of when he was a baby-- he liked baths ok then, but getting him out was positively traumatic-- no matter what I did, he'd scream and scream and I'd race as quickly as I could to get him dried off, slap some lotion on, and put clothes on him (I still laugh at my attempts to do any sort of baby massage, all the while cursing everyone else's descriptions of their "peaceful, calming" bath & massage routine).  At the end I'd feel totally drained.

So. If anyone out there has any advice or tips, I would love to hear them.  Because I'm not sure how much more of this screaming I can take.  I HATE having to force him to do something he clearly doesn't want to do.  It sucks and it makes me feel like a terrible person. I just wish I knew what could make it better.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

wise words

My sister left a comment on my gratitude post yesterday, and I was so struck by the wisdom of her words that I felt compelled to share them here:

but in seriousness, life is "good" vs "mindnumbingly brilliant" because there has to be room in everyone's life for positive and negative perceptions. a way to stay sane and empathetic to others. Feeling guilty about having more money or better health than someone else isn't going to make the burden any lighter on the other; what can make things better for others is your support driven by that empathy and understanding (and personal experience) of good and bad in life.
You can see why I adore her to pieces.  =P

Friday, November 12, 2010

Amazon, P*dophiles, and Protecting Our Children

A few days ago the internet seemed to be turned upside down with rage over an e-book being sold by Amazon.  This book appeared to be a how-to guide for p*dophiles (here's a post by one person who downloaded the book to see what its actual content was... and it's just as bad as we all feared).

After a full day of responding only to email inquiries with a form letter stating that Amazon would continue to sell the book because "they don't believe in censorship"(despite the book's content violating Amazon's own Content Guidelines), they then quietly took it down off the site by the next morning... and have yet to utter a peep about any of this.

This morning I read this post that pretty much summarizes how I feel about this whole thing, so I won't elaborate on that much more since she pretty much said it all.

However, I do want to address a slight off-shoot of this topic.  As I read posts and tweets and comments about this book, I often saw attitudes by people reflecting the idea that p*dophiles are these creepy, scary people that hide behind bushes and jump out at children.  Our obsession with things like sex offender lists shows that most people view the threat as one coming from outside their social circle, that strangers are the biggest danger and what we should focus on when working to protect our kids.

This ignores the reality that an estimated 85-95% of child sexual abuse cases involve not a stranger, but someone the child already knew and was familiar/comfortable with-- a parent, uncle, cousin, baby-sitter, family friend, etc.  Thinking about the people that I know personally who have been abused in the past (at least the ones I'm aware of), every single one was by a family member or friend, not a stranger.  When we focus on strangers as the main threat, we leave ourselves (and our kids) open for the more likely danger of the familiar.

The selling of this book should be a reminder to all of us to talk to our children about what is and is not appropriate, and how to protect themselves from abuse.  These are conversations that should happen early, and often.  It doesn't have to be complicated, and it doesn't have to be this Big Serious Talk-- the goal is not to scare kids or make them feel like the world and people in general are scary and untrustworthy, but to help teach them about boundaries, their rights, and to know that they can always come to you if something happened that made them uncomfortable or "yucky."

Here is an article with suggestions for how to talk to your children about all this, and also how to recognize signs of potential abuse:

This is not a pleasant or easy topic to write about, and it certainly isn't a pleasant or easy one to talk to our children about... but it is so very important that we do so.  Child abuse festers on silence.  Don't be silent.

Monday, November 08, 2010


I realize the overall tone of this blog has tended to lean towards the negative lately. I bitch and moan and complain, because this is my outlet.  Sometimes I just need to vent, and often the feedback I get in comments really does help.

But sometimes life also smacks me upside the head and reminds me all over again just how lucky I am, and how grateful I should be, and every once in a while I try to make a note of that here, too.

I just read this post by Meg at Sew Liberated, and just cried my eyes out.  I discovered Meg's blog back when it was still called Montessori by Hand, when she was still teaching in Mexico.  I've followed her journey as she and her husband moved to North Carolina, and then had their first child.  I've been awed  and inspired by her parenting, her understanding of Montessori, and her ability to apply that knowledge at home.  When she announced her second pregnancy, I felt excited for her, and for being able to follow along as she mothered this second child who would be so close in age to mine.  And so when she announced in that post that her unborn child has a congenital heart defect, will require multiple open-heart surgeries in his first months of life, and even then they aren't sure if he'll survive, it broke my heart.  I found myself sobbing at the keyboard, feeling a combination of sorrow for an online friend, gratefulness for not having received similar news myself, and guilt at having a (so far) healthy baby in my belly while this wonderful, lovely person has to live with this sort of news.

And so, dear Universe, I'd like to take a moment to count my blessings:

*I am grateful for my husband, who works his butt off to be the best father, spouse, and provider he can be.

*I am grateful for my darling son, who is healthy, beautiful, and so very, very amazing.

*I am grateful for the ability to stay home with my child(ren).  As frustrating as it may be at times, I know I wouldn't want things any other way.

*I am grateful for this pregnancy, which came easily when wanted and has so far been healthy and, all things considered, relatively easy on me; and for the baby pushing on my belly right now, who has shown all signs of being perfectly healthy so far.

*I am grateful for my first birth and the positive experience I had.

*I am grateful that, barring unforseen changes, I should be able to have this next baby here at home as we wish, and that we are able to afford the care of talented midwives despite insurance not covering any of it.  Not everyone is so lucky.

I'm sure I will need to vent again soon, and life is always full of ups and downs.  But the truth is that my life is very, very good, and I should work on reminding myself of that more often when I feel like throwing myself a pity party.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

six word sunday: Capturing the belly before it's gone.

six word sunday challenge

Yesterday morning a friend took a combo maternity/family photo shoot of us.  I was quite pleased at finding the link to the photos already in my inbox this morning!  It's kinda nice to have some pictures of me for a change, and I'm glad we were able to capture a snapshot of our little family as it is today.

I'm 35 weeks along now, and I keep going back and forth between feeling like time is speeding up all of a sudden and going by way too fast, and on the other hand starting to get anxious for this pregnancy to end.  When I was pregnant with Donovan I didn't feel that "please get this baby out of me!" urgency-- I was quite happy keeping him in my belly, where all his needs were met.  This time I'm finding pregnancy to be much more of a pain, both literally and figuratively.  But, I also know I'll miss this one day.

Friday, November 05, 2010

so much time, so little to do... wait, strike that- reverse it

This morning I dropped D off with Arjun and the nanny for the day.  Due to a couple of cancellations, it's been nearly 2 weeks since he's seen her.  And between the long list of stuff I've been needing to get done, and the fact that Zach will be working all weekend, I figured we'd take the leap and let D stay all the way till 5pm (normally I pick him up at noon).  This morning when he woke up and I told him where he was going, he was totally gung-ho, and when we got there he was practically pushing me out the door to leave.  I'm curious to see how the pick-up will go in an hour or so here, as he loves being there so much that he usually (at least initially) won't want to leave.  Yes, it stings a little, but I also love that he's so happy and comfortable hanging out with them.  =)

In my spare time, I first... took a short nap.  Then, I headed out to the post office to send out a package, a local hippie co-op to pick up some supplements, and Ikea for a few kid/baby items.  Then I came home and folded about 5 loads of laundry (more still washing-- we somehow got on a massive backlog), and tried to set up some of the baby's future room.  I only got far enough to realize how much more we need to do in there, and of course a lot of it requires semi-heavy lifting that I can't really do myself, and also figuring out where to put the random crap that's been stashed in that room but will soon need to be moved elsewhere.  And with Zach working this weekend, and then leaving on a business trip next weekend, and the general lack of free time and energy these days, I'm not entirely sure when any of it will happen.  Eventually, one would hope.  I know we have time as the baby likely won't even be using his room till he's at least 3 months or so, but I also waited till then to set up D's nursery and then was kicking myself for trying to do all the same re-arranging and setting up while caring for a newborn.  So, I'm figuring my best chances of progress are before the birth.  We'll see if we reach that goal... It does feel good to have a few things squared away, and try to plan for getting others things taken care of soon.  I'll be 35 weeks tomorrow, which makes the birth seem mighty imminent all of a sudden.  

One big help will be that I finally set up for the Salvation Army to come pick up our old dryer (they should be coming on Monday) which will free up a good chunk of space in the garage.  Woot!  Hopefully I can also gather up some other stuff to pass on to them over the weekend, too.  

So, progress.  Though somehow it feels like there's still so much more still left to do.  Then again, is that ever not the case these days?  

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

New Montessori Post-- Montessori and Play

I wrote this post recently for the website, after listening to a few conversations with friends about preschool.

As a mother of a child approaching preschool, I’ve noticed the conversation about how to choose a preschool and what type to go with popping up more and more around me.  Parents debate the merits of academic vs free-play schools, Montessori vs Waldorf, etc.  I’m happy to offer up my advice and insights on the benefits of Montessori, and also am curious to hear what others’ and experiences are.  Recently I’ve noticed several people criticize Montessori as not allowing the children to “play” enough, of being too structured rather than letting them fully explore their creativity and imagination.
You can read the full post here.

Also, Pilar Bewley wrote an excellent post on what we Montessorians call "indirect preparation," where children will work on activities in the classroom that at first don't seem to have much of a purpose (especially when you're wanting your children to do more "academics") but that are in fact helping them develop key skills that will allow them to discover how to read and write on their own.  Imagine what an amazing discovery that is for a child.

This entire process – what we call indirect preparation for writing – was thoroughly enjoyable for Wyatt because all of the activities he was engaged in fed his psychological needs.  In other words, the work he did in the Montessori classroom responded to the internal drives all young children have to learn through movement, to explore their language, and to experience the world through their senses. When a child’s education is designed with these sensitivities in mind, learning is easy and pleasurable... I recently asked him: “Wyatt, who taught you how to write?” He happily replied: “Nobody taught me.  I taught myself!”  And the truth is, he did.
Full post here.

I hope you'll head on over and read the full posts.  =)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Came home with candy, and a cough

I'm sitting here with a coughing, sneezing D, using a bad cold as an excuse to sit around and watch Tv most of the morning.

We had a fun, full weekend-- trick-or-treating downtown on Saturday, then went to the zoo yesterday (see flickr set here).  D dressed as a skeleton (wore his skeleton PJs).  On Saturday I dressed up as The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, which got some good reactions.  I'd originally planned to dress up for the zoo, too, but decided the costume would be too big a hassle and I wanted to bring my camera along, anyway, so wore regular clothes. I think for next year I'll plan ahead and go with a costume where the DSLR can work as a prop as well as for taking pictures (wildlife photographer? Mamarazzi? Hmmm...).  I did paint my belly in the morning, though, just for fun.  There's no way I could've dealt with my snuggly, baby-belly-obsessed toddler out in public with a painted belly, but I wanted to at least do it and have some pictures.

So, fun weekend, but yesterday D developed this cough that Zach's been sporting for several days, and today he seems mighty miserable. So, I let him watch Willy Wonka for the first time. He loved it.  I remember what a great (if a tad judgmental) movie it is.  Not sure what we'll do this afternoon, maybe we'll actually get outside for a stroller ride around the neighborhood or something.  And, probably, some Bob the Builder.


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