Random Thoughts: The Unthemed Edition

On Saturday, I took the girls to a cross country clinic at their grade school. It was just a little intro to what the sport was about (i.e. running). They had a good time.

The clinic was outside in the parking lot behind the school, and it was pleasantly sunny day. After about a half hour, and a few laps (and stretches and jumping jacks) Kate came over to where I was standing with some of the other parents. She wanted a drink from her thermos.

“Sit here, Mama,” she said, indicating a folding chair next to her. “I need some shade.”


Flora has learned to tie her shoes! Another milestone achieved!

She’s had lace up sneakers since the beginning of the school year, and she’s been interested in learning how to tie them. This weekend, we finally took a few minutes together to go through the steps.

The trickiest thing was teaching her where the hole for that second loop was. And sometimes she still loses track of it (thumb gets in the way). But all-in-all she can now tie her own shoes.

Now: for the double knot.


So who’s going to kill me for this weekend’s to-do list? Because I’m already up to: make ghost decorations with the girls, shop at Costco, shop for birthday gifts, join some Tweeps for dinner at Bocktown, and go to a roller skating birthday party. (I will not be roller skating.) I’ll be too busy to even look at laundry!

Square One

I start off weekends with a lot of hopes and dreams.

For example:

I will finally get the girls’ fall clothes/next size clothes out and into their drawers.
I will put summer clothes away.
I will cull clothes for handing down and donating.
I will get the kitchen wall organized for the girls’ school calendars, including hooks for their backpacks.
I will decorate for fall/Halloween.

And so on.

By Sunday evening, I am utterly dispirited. Laundry has gotten done, and often I have managed to grocery shop, but other than that, I am no further ahead. Disorder reigns.

This weekend, I managed to cook a couple of meals, enough for meals through the week even (minestrone soup and veggie chili).

The upstairs is still a mess: no clothes have been sorted, culled, stored, or brought out of storage. Plus, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, as per usual. And sheets need to be changed, of course. We’re about a week behind on that. (I know: Ew.)

The paperwork that was on the kitchen table has simply been relocated. The kitchen floor has not been mopped. (I did manage to sweep.)

The only fall decorations are the “leaves” that Flora cut out of colored paper and taped on the window. There are four of them.

Kate was in rare form this weekend. She joined me in bed three early mornings in a row (usually between 2 and 5 a.m., and she kicked the crap out of my kidneys). She was HYPED UP. The girl could not sit still or keep her hands (or body) to herself. And she capped it off by pooping in her pants Sunday afternoon.

Dan and I did not get any time to ourselves together.

This Sunday, I added to the fun by having yet another meltdown, this time at my in-laws house, and pretty much over the fact that no one (in my family) listens to me. Not my 5-year-old, and certainly not my 3-year-old, and even sometimes my 41-year-old, who hears me, but sometimes decides he’s going to do whatever it is “later”.

I found myself on my couch, crying, and wishing for one day, one 24-hour period, to be by myself. (I think this is the root of my problem lately. That and being 30 weeks pregnant and hormonal and tired.)

And, that, ladies and gents, is really what I want. I want Dan to take the kids for a day, and leave me at home by myself. I know that 24-hours is probably too long to hope for, but 8 hours? Four hours? That seems reasonable (to me). (Note, for the benefit of my husband: he worked seven days this week, including two marathon billing sessions. And had a friend in visiting from Seattle. Which means I was POD for most of the weekend, but money will be coming in from his private practice. And it’s always good to see J.)

I have also reconciled myself to the fact that I am always going to be tired because I am not getting enough sleep. My days of “enough sleep” are over. Done. Kaput.

I know, it took me a whole five years to figure this out. I’m brilliant.

Also, I’m so tired, that I don’t remember if I came to this conclusion last night (folding laundry and discovering that our DVD player bit the dust — right in the middle of our Season 1 True Blood viewing); this morning at 5:14 a.m. (when Kate came to my bed); or this morning around 6:30 a.m. in the shower.

Which basically means that even with four or eight (or, dream on, 24) hours wholly to myself, I would probably still not get anything done. Because I would be asleep.

Health Care Reform Revisited

Yesterday, several pieces of the new health care reform law — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — went into effect. To wit:

  • The part where adult children can stay on their parent’s (or parents’) plan until they are 26;
  • The part where children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health care coverage;
  • The part where an insurer cannot cancel insurance when someone files a claim;
  • The part where there are no more caps on benefits a person can receive in a lifetime;
  • The part where insurers can’t charge for preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies;
  • The part where high-risk pools are created for people who have been denied coverage because they have pre-existing conditions.

(I like this graphic from the New York Times that will keep tabs on and grade the progress of health care reform. It’s simple, straightforward, and clear.)

Democrats up for election in November are running away from this law. “I didn’t vote for it. Nope, not me.”

Republicans are vowing to repeal The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (not that they call it that; they call it Obamacare — just so their constituents aren’t mislead). John Boehner of Ohio says the law ruins the “best health care system in the world.”

Really, Rep. Boehner? The system that leaves sick people out, that leaves up to 36 million people without coverage, that raises prices every year? The system that makes small businesses agonize over being profitable or insuring their workers? The system that puts seniors — who arguably use the most healthcare and prescription drugs of any other demographic — into a “donut hole” wherein they have to decide to buy their medicines or food until they get out of the hole? That “best system in the world”?

I wonder what parts of the law opponents want to repeal the most. The six elements listed above? If I were the parent of a recent college graduate (not yet I’m not!) or the parent of a chronically ill child (knock on wood that I’m not), I’d be pretty steamed about that. If I were a person with a pre-existing condition without insurance, I’d be pretty happy to throw my hat into a high-risk pool and buy some insurance knowing I couldn’t be denied. And angry if someone wanted to continue to deny me good health.

(Technically, since I’m pregnant, if I had to switch coverage or buy coverage now, I would count as someone with a pre-existing condition. And I could instantly and easily be denied. Because I’m PREGNANT. Which is the party of “family values” again?)

As you can probably sense from the tone of this post, I could just scream.

I know that jobs are still lacking. Poverty rates are high. I know that the economy still sucks. I thank God every day that my husband and I are both working; that we have health insurance, the majority of which my employer pays. Technically speaking, we’ve come out of the recession (that started in 2007), but it doesn’t look like it from the trenches. I get it; I do — the anger against the administration (the fear and vitriol, I don’t get), the (perennial) calls for change in Washington.

But I just don’t understand how going backwards will help us going forward. The Bush tax cuts haven’t worked to cut the deficit or create jobs for the past 10 years. How would extending them cut the deficit or create jobs in the next ten years? (And don’t get me wrong, I like me some tax cuts. Is it wrong to hope they just let the tax cuts for the rich expire?) How does the Republican’s Pledge to America fix anything? (Answer: it doesn’t.)

In conversations I have been having, both virtually and IRL, a number of people have expressed frustration regarding the upcoming midterms. Their frustrations are similar to mine, and among them are: Why can’t the Democrats win? Why do they give every appearance of being stymied and ineffective?

My answer: Because Dems are independent thinkers (good) who want to hold onto their jobs (not necessarily good). The Republicans will work together (with each other) to block, stymie, filibuster, and otherwise say NO to any idea of the administration. They will, to a man or woman, use inflammatory language, a conservative social agenda, scare tactics, and misleading statements/statistics to justify their position. They walk in lockstep to stay in power. And it works. (The Tea Party may disrupt this trend; we’ll see.)

Plus, Nancy Pelosi is really not that likable.

I haven’t given up on the Democrats in November. But we have to go vote. HAVE to. We cannot sit at home and let our country, our economy, our future, go backwards. I know the recovery has been slow. My husband and I live paycheck to paycheck, just like so many of you.

Don’t give up and don’t stop watching the news. Educate yourself and educate others —  don’t fight with them, educate them. If they won’t listen, there’s not much you can to, it’s true. But don’t fight; don’t add to the nastiness.

An ‘R’ vote in November (or a Tea Party vote) for so many of us would be voting against our economic self interest.

I wish everyone could see that. I do.

The Book Versus the Show

I have managed to fall even further behind in Mad Men, so I am officially giving up on Season 4 until the DVDs come out. Boo on me.

In the interim, I decided on the basis of many recommendations to start watching True Blood, which (in theory at least) is based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.

I say “in theory at least” because the show is quite different from the novels. I’m feeling ambivalent about the show, although I will go ahead here and admit I got to the episode where Eric makes his first appearance, and, OH MY. *fans self*

*This post contains what may be considered spoilers.*

First and foremost (and disagree with me in the comments if y’all want to): this is vampire porn. The novels, barring the sex scenes with Sookie and her chosen non-human boyfriend of the book, are not nearly so explicit. The TV show is pretty much straight-up (no pun intended) about sex. It’s not even vampirism couched as sex (the penetration of vulnerable skin with pointy fangs). We haven’t seen full frontal nudity yet (or a money shot), but screwing. Yeah, plenty of that. We’ve yet to get to Bud Dearborn (the sheriff) in the buff, but given the tone of the show, it can’t be long now. (Oh, please, no.)

That the books are not so explicit is a point I keep making to Dan lest he think I’ve decided vampire romance novels are a kink of mine. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) The books have sex in them, yes, but it’s not described in detail.

Second, the character development, if I can call it that. Lafayette and Tara in the novels are peripheral characters. (Dan’s quote upon seeing Lafayette: “That is one gay looking black man.” My response, “He is a gay black man.”) Jason, while central to the novels (as Sookie’s brother) doesn’t have the major role he has in True Blood (Season 1). And, although it is represented in the books that he’s quite the man-whore, on the show we get to see him in action. Lots and lots of naked action.

And where the hell did that vampire blood as Viagra story line come from? Ick. The “V-juice” as LSD story line is just silly, IMO.

I guess I’m adjusting to the differences in the novels (which I really, really enjoy) and the show. I think Anna Paquin is excellent as Sookie, capturing her innocence and naivete (for now) mixed with her innate sensuality plus her fascination for Bill. I love(d) Sookie’s grandmother. The effect when Sookie reads other people’s minds is very well done.

But I’m not sold on Sam or Bill, Tara or Lafayette. I am not fond of Jason. I’m not quite buying the chemistry between Sookie and Bill — I always pictured Bill a little neater and more clean-shaven in his appearance. (Another Dan observation, about Bill, “He’s really pale.” My response, “Honey, he’s a vampire.”) Although in Stephen Moyer’s defense, he does play a 173-year-old Civil War veteran-turned-vampire quite well; his turn of phrases can be very old fashioned. And he’s terribly protective of Sookie. Even while nakedly (figuratively speaking for now) lusting for her.

I’m only up to episode 5 of Season 1, and I have every intention of continuing to watch. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the differences between the show and the book, and see if I can come to terms with them.

Plus, Joe Manganiello stars as the werewolf Alcide in Season 3, and not only is he smoking hot, but he’s a Pittsburgh boy. So I’m extra motivated to keep watching.

The Fear Lives in My Dreams

The dreams are not about flying, not exactly.

I am high up in the air, and I can see the ground below me.

I am at the peak, the apex, of my… not-flight. I have been flung up here, thrown up into the sky. I am thrilled — and terrified of the plummet back to earth.

How will I land safely? How do I not break?

And why have I been hurled to this height? Only to have to tumble and survive? Or to just have the thrill — and know I will wake up and everyone will be fine.

I’m in a breathless place, helpless and still hopeful. Arms wide to the sun.

I will be caught and saved. I believe.

To Do

In the next six months or so, by my reckoning, I have to:

Plan to host a baby swap. (No actual babies will be swapped.)

Shop for a new bedroom suite for the girls. (My mother is helping with this part, bless her.)

Get ready for Halloween.

Plan Flora’s sixth birthday party.

Get the baby’s room ready.

Have a baby.

Shop, wrap, and decorate for Christmas. (I may get off the hook as far as cooking.)

Plan Kate’s fourth birthday party. (She has specifically requested Chuck E. Cheese’s. I could cry.)

Plan a baptism.

And be a married maid of honor to Dr. Sis, whatever that may entail. (I really have no clue. Throw a party or two? Keep people in line?)

And that’s all on top of what I refer to as “the daily” around here (you know, work, school, bills, cleaning, laundry, etc.).

So, that’s why I bailed on Podcamp Pittsburgh 5, and arranging childcare and the like. But I sure hope the rest of all y’all are having fun!

False Advertising

Remember this? First day of preschool, a whole week ago? She looks totally psyched, doesn’t she?

Turns out, not so much.

Thursday when I dropped her off, she was shy and clingy.

Today when Dan dropped her off, he reports he carried her around the room for five minutes before he could get away.

And then, later, she peed her pants. I had to go all the way home, get a dry outfit, drop it off at daycare, and go back to work. (Just FYI: That’s an extra hour in the car.)

I am starting to think that despite her outgoing nature Kate is having separation anxiety. Or she’s not as adaptable as we thought she was. Change seems to set her back — especially in the potty area.

First it was news of the baby, and pooping in her pants.

And now it’s preschool, and peeing. She had an accident at home last night, too. I just thought it was because she waited too long to run to the bathroom.

But today I am wondering.

She is still waking up at night, probably four times a week. More often than not lately, she goes off in search of her dad (who usually falls asleep on the couch with the TV on). In general she is always seeking me out for another hug or cuddle — even after she is supposed to be asleep or I am supposed to be getting in the car to leave in the morning.

She doesn’t like to be alone. At all. If Flora and I are in the kitchen to do Flora’s “homework”, Kate has to be in there too (for the whole 10 minutes it takes). Or if we’re in the bathroom because I’m giving Flora a bath, she has to be there. And the majority of the time she won’t even go pee or wash her hands (or get a drink or watch TV) unless Flora or I go with her.

Every morning she asks if I have to go to work. (Flora has picked up on this, and is asking now, too.) She asks if she has to go to school or daycare.

I thought she was excited to start preschool, go in with Flora, but maybe I was wrong.

Or maybe I’m over thinking this.

Kate’s evident “set backs’ — if that’s what they are — have caught me off guard.

Maybe something is going on in her little head about processing the death of GG.

Maybe I understand her a little less because she is a second child (for all intents and purposes), and I am an oldest child.

Maybe this is just Kate’s meandering path, and I have to worry a little less and snuggle a little more.

A Few Questions: Mad Men: Season 3

And even as I write this, I’m already at Mad Men: Season 4, Episode 4.

But, still.


1. Was Conrad Hilton really such a nut job? Don’t get me wrong, I loved him (as a character; having worked for a “marketing communications” agency — we did so much more than ADS, people! — he seemed like a nightmare client) and I liked that he gave Don a hard time and kept him off balance. But I just wonder if the character was based on the actual Connie Hilton, or if he was fabricated.

2. Why is Betty Draper so very despicable in Season 3? She’s such a big baby! Is it the culture that infantilized suburban housewives, or is Betty Draper unique in her upbringing (i.e. “Daddy’s” girl) that makes her that way? Is it the way she treats her children? Is it the way that I know she would never leave Don without Henry waiting in the wings? Is it her whole me-centric bearing throughout the season?

Also: 2b. Why would you pick Christopher Stanley over Jon Hamm? I’m sorry, but Jon Hamm is my new marriage clause. Christopher Stanley is very, very meh. Unless, of course, you are Betty Draper and have daddy issues. And you discover your husband has been lying to you from day one.

3. Why don’t I hate Don Draper? I actually have been fascinated by this question since I started watching Mad Men. He is a lying, cheating bastard (okay, he couldn’t have helped that last part) who is totally eff’ed in the head — and I am utterly compelled by him. The bad boy motif? I don’t think so, only because he’s so… manly. The steel gaze, the square jaw. But he is such a complex mystery, oddly moral in his ways. The scene where he breaks down and tells Betty about his past — it was… moving. I just wanted to see her give him a hug, for God’s sake.

4. Watching Mad Men, with all the drinking and smoking, is torture when you’re pregnant. Torture, I tell you. (Okay, not a question.)

5. What happens(ed) to Sal? I love big, gay closeted Sal. What is up with showing him in a phone booth lying to his wife? The background seemed to intimate at hot gay action in a park somewhere. Am I missing something? Where is Sal?? (If you are ahead of me in Season 4, and know this, don’t tell me. If there is anything to tell. If there’s not, don’t tell me that either!)

Week 27: Natural Woman

I daydream about giving birth naturally. About having contractions not brought on by pitocin; about my water breaking in my kitchen.

I know I’m getting some funny looks right now, virtually speaking.

I don’t really have a lot to complain about my induced labors with Flora and Kate. Well, maybe with Kate. Three-plus days is a long time to be in the hospital waiting for things to get moving.

I got healthy babies out of it, and I was relatively unscathed. (We won’t talk about 3+ hours of pushing or sleep deprivation because of ridiculously loud doors.) With Flora, I did not have an epidural, and I always say it’s a good thing because if I had gotten one, I would have ended up with a c-section. With Kate, I had an epidural, and it was, again, the right decision.

So far this pregnancy, things are progressing very well. (KNOCK ON WOOD.) The baby is growing well, so far there are no issues with low amniotic fluid. My weight gain has been steady. The second trimester has been good to me — feeling the baby move has alleviated the extreme anxiety that plagued my first trimester. Right now, my back hurts a lot, and I have to make chiropractic and massage appointments (as time and finances allow).

And it’s not that I am not without anxiety.

Some days I hope that in my 32nd or 34th week, they do discover low fluid. Not radically low — just like Flora had low fluid. (Kate, again, was such a special case when it came to things to worry us in utereo.) I could make arrangements about modified bed rest; we could monitor the low fluid; and come 37 or 38 weeks, we could just plan an inducement.

It’s what I know.

Other days, I think about being pregnant to 39 or 40 weeks. I think about going about my day wondering if I’m in labor or not. I think about waking up to contractions or — even more surprising — waking up to my water having broke (which probably would not bode well for our mattress). I wonder what it’s like to have to rush to the hospital to have the baby in the middle of the night.

Because, that, I don’t know.

We haven’t made any final decisions about inducement, and we don’t have to right now. As Dan says, “We’ll watch this baby like a hawk, and everything will be fine.” I think, regardless of natural labor or not, I would prefer to give birth at a hospital.

The big issue will be: once we get to 38 weeks, what will help any anxiety I might have? If the baby is fine and the fluid levels are normal and the placenta is healthy (yes, they can tell that on sonograms!), then my (hypothetical) anxiety is not enough reason to seek induction. I have to let nature take its course. I WANT to let nature take its course — it’s what I have wanted since I conceived Gabriel.

Nature has let me down. So I’m also a little concerned about letting nature take its course.

I don’t have to overcome that yet. But I will have to down the road. What are some strategies I can use?