reSolve to rEvolve

Thursday, August 31, 2006


"If it makes you feel any better, I really do feel sorry for you right now." This was my husband's comment last night as he watched me hobble to bed. I cleaned the house from top to bottom yesterday (it's an old house so it'll look dirty in about 6 more minutes). I, along with with my four year old sous-chef, baked snickerdoodles for the school bake sale. We went to the Y for a good workout, I made a quick dinner before the rather disappointing school Open House. The note said it was from 5:30-7:00... what it didn't say was that it was a come and go deal, so I raced through the day at breakneck speed and then got to the classroom and stood like a total tool, loitering, while the teacher didn't have the decency to let me know that I could leave and go to the ice-cream social. In truth, it was more like an ice-cream anti-social, and I found myself irritated that my husband wasn't going to be home until late.

The energy I enthused yesterday trying to convince my daughter that "this is going to be such a great year," and "Isn't your teacher nice?" and "That little girl sure seemed like a nice kiddo," "look how pretty your room is decorated," was all deflated by one little 5 year old shit who ruined J's day by saying, "I'm a big girl and you aren't!

Being a big girl is the pinnacle of existence these days to J, so she was crushed and told me that she is "not very happy" and that she is not excited about school. After many attempts to try a four-year-old version of People only make fun of people when they are feeling bad about themselves. I gave up and said that she wasn't being a very nice girl and that everybody has bad days. I stopped short of telling her to say next time, "shut your trap, snaggletooth brat!"

I sat down for the first time at 8:30 last night and at 10, after recuperating with Project Runway, I made the hobble quick-step to my room to get ready for bed. C just looked at me. I was wincing as every part of my body is screaming out--I'm done!! No more stretching, expanding or cramping. My belly is huge and hard as a rock. My feet even feel like they might grow again---and I really wanted to stop at size 9! Some shoes already look ridiculous in a size 9. I don't care that a size 9 is what Jackie Kennedy wore (my mom's favorite line!)

So do I feel better that he feels my pain? Sorta.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Parental Petition

Parents, it is often said, resume a churchgoing life after having children in order to provide structure, to instill their faith (as if instillation was possible) and because it sets a good example. Many of my friends and I went through our 20s by the seat of our pants and rarely set foot in the churches of our upbringing. The "setting a good example" theory may have some truth to it, but I think the reality is a bit more complex.

Parenting is daunting. From the very first day on the job I realized that I had very little power over anything. Yes, I could boil each pacifier, buy the safest car seat, ask my friends about the best butt balm for diaper rash, and micromanage our schedules down to the nanosecond to ensure the most optimal sleep for everyone, but the reality is that I am not in control. That realization is both terrifying and freeing.

Our baby bird is ready to start school. I could sing her praises for hours--it's my job to feel that way I'm her mom--but I can also tell you that I am acutely aware that how she clicks with her teacher, her new classmates and this new environment is so important. We received a letter from her teacher requesting that we sit as a family and write down some information about J that we'd like the teacher to know. The questions ranged from "what do you like to play with?" to "how does your child respond to discipline?" I appreciate this assignment. It shows that the teacher wants to know about each child, but how on earth to describe a child like J? She is both quiet and loud depending on how comfortable she is. Her mind makes associations that neither I nor my husband would make. She is obsessed with maps, state flags and globes--this does not make her weird, it is just that all of her friends have scattered from Japan to Norway and she needed something concrete to deal with it.

At four she is so clearly her own little person and it is a person whom I love completely. My greatest hope/wish and yes these days, in the middle of the night, prayer is that she thrives in her new environment. It is a prayer that God is hearing in surround sound right now all over the world "Lord, make this a good year for my daughter*. Give her a teacher who understands and loves her and please bless her with wonderful friends."

*obviously half of the world is praying for sons.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

I lied. Actually, I didn't lie, I just didn't add to my recent post about being "bored" with celebrity gossip fare that I finished the post, checked my mailbox and squealed in delight when I saw that my People magazine had indeed arrived. That was a week ago and today when my newest edition came through the door I turned cartwheels. Or at least the 3rd trimester version of a cartwheel, which is more like a collapse on the couch, but I thought of cartwheels and would've were my body not saddled with a belly that is starting to evoke the sympathy stare. You know, the one where the person gives an "AWWW!" and then makes that awful teeth sucking sound.

Yesterday I was told by the Chinese woman selling me takeout that I am definitely having a boy. Evidently the fact that I have a low lying torpedo of a belly and not a wide belly indicates that my baby will be of the male variety. I told her that we were actually expecting a girl and that a boy might not enjoy being swaddled in all the pink we have or being rocked to sleep under his glittery chandelier, but that we will welcome any babe. Earlier in the day I was told by a playgroup mom, "Wow, November! You still have a ways to go!" It should be noted that this type of phrase is actually code for "You look huge!! Can you get any bigger?" Having done this once before and maybe even being bigger at this point last time, I am waaaaayyy more relaxed about this whole metamorphosis thing. It is pretty wild though. I occasionally catch a glimpse of myself and am surprised by how something so normal as being pregnant can really be so weird looking.

I hasten to add that I am not a huge fan of the Heidi Klums of the world (though I am obsessed with Project Runway). It isn't really fair that some people can just pop them out. Does she get skin tags and leg cramps--is it wrong of me to hope that she does?

But I digress. I would love to kick this celebrity habit in favor of more palatable fare, but the reality is that I am fascinated by Vaughniston and Brangelina. Sue me. Call me ignorant. Just don't try to take my magazines before I've devoured them. Seriously.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


The Midwest is well known for its fairs and festivals and one of the most interesting aspects of our Midwestern sightseeing this summer has been the people watching. For instance I have always understood tug-of-war to be a game of skill and effort that usually died out with the last high school field day. I had no idea that in some parts of the country tug-of-war is a league sport with teams and hardcore coaches.

My daughter, husband, in-laws and I were riveted for about an hour by the motley group of men (and even the occasional female) who competed. The teams usually wore matching uniforms often emblazoned with their Union and team name and special boots that appeared to be hockey skates made especially with a reinforced sole exclusively for tug-of-war. I was amazed to note that some had traveled from 5 hours away just to compete. The yellow team, the clear dominator, had a set of lumber jack/Neanderthal throwback twins who caused a shudder of fear and a sigh of resignation in each of their opponent teams.

What an odd world we live in! I take great comfort in all of this weirdness. There is an unlimited font of experiences from which to drink. Sometimes it is fun to be an anthropologist and just watch people. I realize that people watching can take on a tone of condescension, but if it is done with a joyful heart, I have found that it can restore some of the wonder of childhood.

I think it is interesting to see people who grew up playing bocchi ball in the backyard, or twirled their batons in all of the games and parades--I didn't know that people still twirled batons. Whether it is roping a steer in the south, or canning blueberries in Maine, there are a lot of interesting cultures swirling around if only the time is taken to watch.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Here is a drawing of what my daughter currently misses most: her best friend and her tree swing. We don't have the right kind of tree for the swing :(

I have been reading The Road Less Traveled* by M. Scott Peck M.D. and am really finding it interesting. The first sentence of the book is "Life is difficult." If you are someone who still thinks that an easier life is just around the corner when only you have attained_______, or married________, or __ number of children etc., then this book is not for you. It sounds like a downer yes? But I am finding that it is actually a rather uplifting read. It focuses on people's tendencies to avoid the pain of change and how that actually will thwart growth and keep the person from living fully.

Mindfulness is a theme that keeps popping up in various books, magazines and even in my yoga practice and I don't think that it is just a trendy catchphrase. I think that being attentive to each activity or person that you encounter can be life changing--and it is so difficult! My daughter lets me know in no uncertain terms when I am not listening well to what she is saying. There are going to be times when I can't give undivided attention to her, but there better be a wealth of times for us to draw from when I have listened well and she has felt truly heard or we will both miss out.

A big part of the book centers around the theme that love is action and that procrastination=lazy=the opposite of love. This was interesting to read because Dr. Peck doesn't see procrastination as just a personality trait, but as a failure to love. Procrastinators have a failure of discipline he argues, they refuse to delay gratification when they choose the easy path, they rob themselves of joy and of fulfilled living.

The book is engrossing, and I am still processing what I am reading. If you are in the mood for some self-examination and not afraid to challenge yourself, pick up a copy. Namaste.

* (for grammar buffs, remember that there is no underline setting in Blogger, I will try to remember to import from Word)

Friday, August 11, 2006

When Feel Good Ceases to Feel Good

I had a few hours to myself this morning. While my daughter was off at a fabulous playdate, I had the unusual dilemma of deciding what I wanted to do with myself. I was able to knock out a little shopping for the baby and then decided that I would go to Barnes and Noble to do a little shopping for myself. When J and I go to Barnes and Noble, she wants to find books and read to me or have me read to her, she does not want to wait while I slowly make my way through the bookstore reading book jackets and taking random peeks to see if I like the writing style of the author, so today was a treat.

I started in the magazine section with the intention of making my way to books after perusing some celebrity gossip fare. I'm partial to People and US Weekly and I figure with 15 minutes or so I can get most of the dirt out of US Weekly and maybe even get a peek at the latest must-have gear for babies out of FitPregnancy. Today, with time on my side, I was bored with it. (Not the time alone, just the magazines).
I became a parent in a post 9/11 world and I think the blunt force reality of dangers in the world coupled with the awesome responsibility of raising a child manifested itself in a desire to escape with something mindless.

During times of raised threat levels and the DC sniper (when we lived in the area) and through times of C's deployments I kept up on what Britney Spears was up to--and I don't even like her music!! But I can tell you that she went barefoot into a gas station restroom, and that she seems to be utter incapable of getting the whole carseat situation figured out. I can tell you the names of celebrity kids, who celebrities have dated, what they wore, and what they wore gasp(!) more than once. And I am not alone... In all 3 places that I have lived since becoming a parent, I have found that my girlfriends share in the obsession. We are educated women; working moms, stay at home moms, many with advanced degrees, and yet, none of us bat an eyelash when someone asks,"Did you read the latest US Weekly?"

This need for fluffy escapism extended to my literature choices as well. For about the first year and a half of J's life I had an aversion to anything sad or depressing. Unfortunately that proclivity lends itself to not much more than Chick-Lit and the latest tales of ugly ducking girl who is smart but has no fashion sense, figuring out how to make it all work and showing up the jack-ass who dumped her books. Not very stimulating.
I will make the small concession that The Devil Wears Prada was an entertaining book and movie and that Chick-lit by Jennifer Weiner is well written and transcends the genre, but rarely do these books make me think.

The pendulum has shifted and for the last two years or so, I have been delving a bit deeper and have read some amazing and heartwrenching books that have moved me. My book club in Hawaii read Ahab's Wife, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and many others, and I have read I Know this Much is True, She's Come Undone, A Map of the World, Vanishing Acts, Say When, The Red Tent, The Lovely Bones, etc....
In fact it was The Lovely Bones, which came out the summer that J was born which proved the turning point for me. I had avoided that book, a book that everyone and their dog was reading, because I knew that it was about a girl who is raped and murdered at the beginning of the novel and that the story is made up of what came in the aftermath. Why invite such misery and such thoughts into my life I wondered? It wasn't until my brother came to visit me at Christmas when my husband was in Iraq and I was struggling to find hope and feel good about anything that I had a breakthrough. Bryce was reading the book and couldn't put it down. When he finished he asked if I would like to read it and when I demurred he said, "You can't avoid reading or feeling sad things and this is a really good book. You have to live your life."

Although nothing pleases me more than a really good read, I still have a hard time picking out books. When I read the backs and see snippets of the problems that arise for these fictional characters, I sometimes wonder if I really want to experience that right along with them. Today I wasn't sure if I wanted to be mired in fictional problems and I am tired of making light of actual celebrity ones and so I chose a non-fiction book instead: The Road Less Traveled. We'll see what it yields.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

There are few things as enchanting as the giggles of a little girl getting a pedicure from dad.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Of Guinea Pigs and Men

Where oh, where will 3 1/2 months more of growing go!?

I'm testing the freelance waters again as I got a sign that what I've been contemplating writing is something that needs to be written. First a bit of background: In our long odyssey of a move from Hawaii to the Midwest, my family took a pitstop in St. Louis where we planned to catch up with family and recharge for the next leg of the trip. Randy, our sweet-natured (most of the time) dog took the occasion to commit guinea pig-icide on the beloved pet of our hosts. Nibbles, was my niece's and nephew's pride and joy and unfortunately his death ushered in a quick loss of innocence and a multitude of questions that neither I nor my brother-in-law or sister-in-law were prepared for. My niece and nephew questioned God, attempted to bargain with him, and cried heartfelt tears of loss and despair. My daughter just watched silently. I was actually somewhat surprised by her seeming lack of emotion as there was not a dry eye in the house, but I also wasn't taking into account my daughter's modus operandi...Watch carefully, ask questions later.

The questions began the next day; starting with "Why did Randy shake Nibbles? Why is Nibbles in the ground now. Is Nibbles getting dirty down there? What does die mean? Will I die? Will you? What is heaven? You said once that Sam (dog-friend of the family) died because she was sick, will I die from getting sick? Do just old people die, or do kids die too?" On and on the questions came and are still coming. When my answers are incomplete or if I am unsure of how to answer, my sharp little girl sees right through me. My own questions have been cropping up too. My daughter has grown up watching Strawberry Shortcake and other sorts of fluff with a "don't hurt others feelings" message, but never with any sort of death. She doesn't like scary stuff and so things like Bambi where the mother dies have seemed like not very good options. My nephews on the other hand, run around and pretend to die and to kill each other all the time. Now, I know that their concept of the permanency of death is still immature, but it caused me to wonder, Do we do our daughters a disservice by trying to keep all violent images out of the house? In her play, the princess never dies.

So my personal and professional interest in the matter of talking to kids about death without making the world seem harsh and foreboding has been ping-ponging around in my head for a while, but the day before yesterday in our city's parenting magazine, I saw a letter to the editor which expressed a wish to see articles on this exact topic. I've found experts in the area to interview, and I've thought long and hard about the direction I'd like to go with the article and I queried the editor...and now I sit and wait. I am by nature somewhat impatient, so I am trying to cultivate patience and also summon enough chutzpah to act like I can get this done and then to really do it.

**Short little aside--my niece and nephew still mourn Nibbles, but greatly look forward to getting a dog (so they've obviously forgiven the shortcomings of the canine)