All Official-like

on 28 June 2011

So it seems a little strange to mention something like this what with floods, wild fires, riots, wars and general chaos, but...


We're finally pregnant again.


It took more than a year and half and we're about 12 weeks along.  We found out we were pregnant on our anniversary and the baby is due the day before my next birthday...it's been the reason behind many of our smiles of late.  (And excess fatigue and more than a little bit of nausea.)  (Also, it maybe what's behind those rabid cravings for MEAT.)

I just got back from the doctor.  They did an ultrasound as part of the genetic testing, since I am...you know...of advanced maternal age now.  (So far this pregnancy has been great for my self-esteem.)  And the baby looks...just perfect.  Tiny and beautiful.  I'm looking forward to the next glimpse I get which should tell us if it's a baby brother or a baby sister.

FIRE

Surely, you've all read about the fires burning outside of Los Alamos, NM?

The thing about news stories is that they give you abstract information...so many acres burned, so many structures destroyed, such and such percentage contained blah blah blah.  What they don't tell you is this:

My best friend evacuated Sunday night.  With her not quite 2 year old daughter, her 72 hour kit, her family pictures and documents and a couple of family heirlooms.  What they don't tell you is that this is hardly her first experience in difficulty.  What they don't mention is that, for people who have very little, what they have is incredibly valuable to them.  And they really don't mention that the fire is turning to ashes the possessions of the most amazing of women.

And yes, we're all grateful.  We're grateful that she and her little family are safe and out of harms way.  But it doesn't lessen the worry of What Happens After...   It doesn't lessen the grief at her loss.  It doesn't lessen the frustration of being powerless to do anything about it at all.

And I think what's so hard is the knowledge that behind all of these stories, the floods, the tornadoes, the earthquakes, hurricanes and fires...there are thousands of Best Friends evacuated, all belonging to Someone.

For now, I'm thinking about my Samwise.

The Good Ol' Days

on 27 June 2011

I was thinking about the good ol' days on this blog...back when I posted every other day or so.

Yeah.   Not so much lately, huh?

I was chatting with my mom yesterday.  We were down at their house because Chris was helping my Dad extend his deck, and I was saying that I felt bad for not telling more Boy stories on the blog, because frankly, my Boy his hilarious right now.  But the thing is...I've TRIED.  They don't translate well to written form.  They are hilarious when they happen, but you need to see his face and hear him saying what he's saying in order for it to bring the funny...and well...every time I try to get him to perform for the camera, he just shuts down into a little turtle shell of shyness.

And so, you just have to take my word for it.  He's hilarious.

And now, for a pressing matter.  I have a question for all of you women with mad skillz out there.  Am I the only one who has a hard time working on projects in the summer?  I have 3 projects on knitting needles right now.  One for my sister in law (it's coming Kristi, I promise, before you go to Utah), that literally only needs the sleeves finished, it would take LESS than a week if I could bring myself to sit down to it...but I just can't!  I can't face the thought of working on it when it's so hot outside.  Never mind, that I live perpetually in doors because of the heat and the allergies (oh my lands, my sinuses people), maybe it's the bright sunshine that makes my eyes unable to focus on what I'm doing.  I know not...all I know is that I can't concentrate on anything remotely useful right now.

So I read.  A LOT.  In fact, I declared to Chris yesterday that this summer, I dub the Summer of M's Favorite Ginormous Novels.  I'm nearly done with Wives and Daughters and I think I'm going to reread either Our Mutual Friend or Bleak House next.  After that, I'm going to reread Vanity Fair since I haven't read it since I was a grad student.  And after that I might finish off the summer by rereading Middlemarch.

So when you wonder where I am and why don't I write...close your eyes and imagine my lying languid with a congested head and a funny boy reading some novel so thick it could double for a door stop.

Oh what do you do in the summer time?

A Vegetarian Dilemma

on 20 June 2011

I've been a vegetarian for 13 years.  I got sick and went to doctors and they couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, so I started to eliminate things from my diet.  I got down to what was essentially a vegan diet, and that's the point where things normalized.  But I was STARVING all the time.  So I gradually added in dairy and occasional eggs. 

But that didn't fix all the problems.  My guts were still...inconsistent.  Unpredictable.  I was still having good days and bad days.  But I didn't know what was wrong and I was now out of health insurance.  So I just accepted that it was what it was and left it alone.  For 13 years.

When I was pregnant with the Boy, I craved meat.  And not normal cravings, intense, insatiable cravings.  I didn't give in to them, I was too scared of being sick again.  So I did the best I could with beans and soy and cheese and eggs.  And nothing really changed.

And then this year...my weight has been...off...since the Boy was born.  It took a long time to bounce back from the pregnancy and delivery and nursing, and then it took a looooooong time to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight which was still MORE than I normally weigh.  I spent an inordinate amount of time tweaking my diet and workouts, trying to get my body to loosen it's grip.  And so I switched to protein at some point in every meal, thinking that I was eating too many carbohydrates and perhaps that was what was messing with my weight.  So I switched to soy protein at breakfast, beans, nuts and nut butters throughout the day and usually some soy protein in the evening.  I feel like my blood sugar evened out and I definitely consumed less sugar through the day, but I didn't see a noticeable difference in my weight.

And then...well, I was just so tired all the time, run down, drained and depleted, just not great in general.  So, come the Spring, I started to think about the last 13 years as a vegetarian, and really ponder a return to meat.  I vacillated, I waffled, I reached new heights of indecision.  One day I would be absolutely determined that I was going back to meat, and the next day I would think...no...not yet.  So, while I vacillated and waffled, I incorporated more fish into my diet and hoped that would fix it.

I've been feeling worse in the past couple of weeks, and craving a wide variety of meats.  So on Father's Day, Chris carved me up 2 ounces of red meat and let me just say, it was delicious.   Paired with a giant serving of salad and a medium serving of potatoes, it was a perfect dinner.  And for the next 4 hours, I wasn't hungry, and for the first time in WEEKS, I wasn't completely exhausted.  And that's saying something.

Here's the thing.  I believe everyone should choose what works for them.  I believe that EVERYONE needs to eat more fruits and veg than they probably do.  I believe in moderation in ALL things, including how and what they eat.  I don't want to have a grand debate on the virtues of vegetarianism.  Because I believe people should choose to do what works for them. 

For the time being, I'm going back to an omnivorous diet.  I think it's what my body and my life needs right now. 

How Studying Russian Prepared me for Parenthood

on 16 June 2011

In Russian, there are two ways to express Need.  And since I don't have a Cyrillic keyboard, I'm going to write them out phonetically.  You have Nado (which you really pronounce Nada) and Noozhen

One of my Russian teachers was a really good friend who had lived in Russia for a time and he described the difference to me, thusly:  "Nado is how we would say, 'Oh, I just need a break for a minute.  Or I need to use the restroom.  Or I need a drink of water.'  It's just your basic expression of a need."  But then he went on to explain Noozhen (and I can still see his face in my head and it still makes me laugh), he said, "Noozhen is like saying, "I NEEEEEEEEEEEED this with the implication that life can't go on without it."  And at the time I cracked up laughing because I couldn't conceive of a time when I would be confronted with Noozhen.

I have to say that when the Boy tells me he needs something, he is always speaking of Noozhen.  He neeeeeeeeeeeds it or life can't go on!  And maybe I'm impervious to theatrics, but it cracks me up every time.  I guess what's funny is that I know the difference between what we really NEED (food, water, shelter, air, I might even add family or tribe to that list), and the rest...which are just varying shades of wants.  The Boy who, as yet, has no gift for nuance of any kind, doesn't recognize the distinction.  He NEEDS absolutely everything from food and water, to that car, and that enormous ball at SchmalMart.

I will say this, though.  He takes my No's very well.  And I say No (or nyet) a lot.  Some days I feel like a professional nay-sayer.  And he seldom has fits, partly because he knows we have a zero tolerance policy, and partly because he's just a good kid.  And on that note, I noozhen a cuddle from my gangly Boy.

Photographic Evidence

on 14 June 2011

Some of you may be wondering at the absence of photographic evidence of the Boy in Burnstopia lately.

I have reasons.

They're two fold.

You see, the Boy spends most of every day in a perpetual state of motion.  And we don't have a great camera so documenting him, really, is just a series of blurs that don't quite capture the feeling.

And secondly, the Boy spends all day every day in a pair of brightly colored big-boy underpants and a white t-shirt.  It's hot out and it saves me on laundry when we stay home, which we do A LOT.  He's comfortable and I find him hilarious.  But for some reason, I think he might later resent it if I were to post those pictures on this here internet.  So you'll just have to take my word for it.


For the record, today's offering is a brightly colored Lightening McQueen.  You may now resume your usual duties...

Bottle it up

on 10 June 2011

Life with a Big Boy isn't always what it's cracked up to be.

Sure,  he's cute.  He's darling.  I love him more than words can say.  And yet...there seems to be a never-ending string of minor injuries and dangerous curiosities.   He's perpetually falling down and tearing up his fine legs.  (Legs I worked rather hard to build.  IN MY WOMB.)  He's fascinated with candles, and the other day he managed to drip hot wax down his shirt and on to his toes.  He wasn't burned (thank Heaven and Earth), just rather annoyed at the congealed wax on his foot.  He's constantly taking things apart and then requesting that I put them back together again.

(I suppose I should be flattered by that...at least He thinks I'm useful.)

I spend all day every day wrapped up in his whirlwind as he blows from this to that and back again.  More often than not, it feels like nothing so much as whimsical chaos.  He's gangly and his legs hang over the arms of the rocking chair.  He speaks in full sentences with LOTS of active verbs.  He laughs these enormous full-throated, toothy laughs.  He's learned MINE and I DO IT and NO and he is always speaking in all caps all the time.

The other night, he was in the bath.  I was watching him from the rocking chair.  We had spent the 30 minutes previous engaged in a Tickle War to end all Tickle Wars.  We hadn't tickled and played and wrestled like that in a while and I had missed it.  I was watching him play with his toys and his bubbles and for a moment.  Just one.  It didn't last long.  But for a moment he looked like my baby again.  All smooshy cheeks, chin to chest, eyes focused in earnest examination.  I remembered that face, that expression, that boy.  The one who used to be chubby and cautious and never needed to be told "no" twice.  The one who didn't walk for ages because he didn't want to fall.  The one who's favorite place to be was right between my feet on the floor.

And oh, how I've missed him.

Everyone says it.  When you have a baby.  They all tell you to enjoy it.  It doesn't last.  It goes so fast.  Enjoy it.  But it's so HARD.  It's a constant battle to keep them clean and fed and reasonably happy.  And then there's Everything Else.  And you try.  At least I did, I tried to enjoy it.  We tickled and wrestled and made blanket forts and ate cookies.  We went for walks and drives and swims.  And I thought I was enjoying it.  I knew it wouldn't last.

But I think what Those People really mean, is that you should bottle it.  Put that moment in a bottle and stopper it up.  Keep the whole moment, perfectly preserved somehow in our memories.  Because those smooshy boys?  They grow up, they grow gangly, they grow fast and before you know it, you're little more than swept up in their whirlwind, hoping they'll stop long enough for you to kiss them before they go back to growing.

A Very Strong Memory

on 08 June 2011

I'm watching the War again.  I watched it pretty often last winter.  I haven't been feeling great, though, I think the problem is more a chronic Lack of Motivation-itis rather than anything physically wrong.  And I discovered last Monday evening, that by putting the War on, I found reservoirs of Motivation that I didn't know I had.  Trite though it may sound, it really is inspiring to me to listen to people who were faced with terrible situations, who were exhausted, underfed, and overwhelmed and yet they still did what they had to do.  And so I am watching the War.  Again.

***

I was watching it last night and I had the strongest memory.  Years and years ago, when I was living in Seattle, I was single and happy to be so.  I had a very tight circle of friends, we were all single.  And we used to joke that our husbands were World War II fighter pilots who had been killed in the War and that's why so many of us fabulous women were still single.  Clearly, all the real men had already lived and died and there were none left.

***

Most of us are married now.  We found our real men, quite alive and not only willing, but able to take us on.  It was such a strong memory, all of us sitting around, joking and laughing together.  I could hear their voices so clearly and as I was watching these young, handsome, weary soldiers in grainy black and white, most of them are long since dead.  It's enough to break your heart.

***

I know my affection for this MegaSeries will surprise some, but listening to these older Americans tell their stories, and more often than not, they're stories about their families, their close friends, their personal experiences in the War.  Their chins tremble and their eyes well up during one story but then they chuckle and laugh at the next.  It's a good reminder, broken hearts aren't always a bad thing. 

The War of the Squirrels

on 06 June 2011

We bought a bird feeder many moons ago.  We live in a sort of wooded corner of the complex and there are a lot of songbirds about and we so enjoyed watching them that we thought we'd try feeding them.

Little did we know, that such a seemingly innocuous act would begin the War of the Squirrels.

You see, in addition to lovely songbirds, we also have quite the population of squirrels.  I find them odd, somewhat cute little friendly rodents.  Chris finds them 9 kinds of annoying and nothing short of PESTS.  And naturally, when we started with the bird feeder, there was no keeping the squirrels away.  There is food.  The squirrels are not quite as stupid as we humans might imagine, they are going to help themselves to the food.

And oh my heck, people, they are determined.  They climb the screen door!  They JUMP from the balcony railing UP to the feeder.  And in the process they scare the birds away.  Now, I wouldn't mind sharing with the squirrels, but when the squirrels eat freely, the birds won't come anywhere NEAR the feeder.  So Chris and I made a choice in favor of the birds and began our War of the Squirrels.

Now, there's no shortage of firearms in our household, but our back door overlooks a day care center (shrouded thinly by some trees), so we didn't think that firearms would be the way to go.  Our weapons of choice are as indicative of our natures as anything else.  I chose the water bottle.  I can open the back door, squirt the squirrels, they freak out and jump down.  No harm done.  Chris chose a sling shot with steel shot.  He opens the back door and opens up a Hail Mary rain of shot on the squirrels as they run into the woods.

Needless to say, the Squirrels are not afraid of Me.

And Chris' aim hasn't really been good enough to do much damage.  Until recently.

He killed one on Sunday.  He hasn't come close to the squirrels in the past and so I think it took him by surprise.  I was napping and he came in and had to confess that he had killed one.  Accidentally on purpose.  He had been shooting down at it and hit it squarely in the middle of its back.  It rose to eat no more.  And he picked it up with a piece of cardboard and took it further down into the woods.

This morning, bold as brass, a squirrel was Nom-Nom-Noming away on the feeder when he woke up and it didn't even run away when he opened the door.  He took aim and fired but this time...oh mylanta.  It screamed.  The Squirrel screamed.  And such a terrible, pitiful sound you never heard.  Chris looked at me and I looked at him and told him to just get the .22 and put it out of its misery, PLEASE.  It was writhing on the ground, and Chris took aim again and missed.  So I told him to go wring its neck or slit its throat or SOMETHING.

And my husband, soft as butter on the inside, but capable of taking care of the messy business when he has to, put on surgical gloves (yes, we keep some in our house) and trekked outside.  He tried to wring its neck but it ripped his glove, and so he slit its throat.  He took the body down to the woods again and came in.

Squirrels: 1 bag of bird feed
Burnstopia: 2 squirrels.

(The feeder is currently feeding 3 cardinals.  Chris said, "Look.  It's being used for its intended purpose and NOT as a buffet for rodents.")

The thing is...it's just not worth it.  It's not worth the anger at trying to defend the stupid bird feeder (for crying out loud it's just a BIRD FEEDER).  It's not worth killing the furry little creatures.  It's not worth feeling BAD about killing the furry little creatures.  And so, after several months of war, we are choosing to just lay down our arms and stop fighting.  No winner.  No loser.  Just enough fighting.


Anyone want a free bird feeder?

Revelations

I thought it might be fun to start a new series.

Mostly, I have some writers block and with no idea what to write about, I thought I'd give myself some new parameters in the hopes that it would lead to inspiration.

I was folding a truly mammoth load of laundry and watching Man vs. Food via streaming Netflix and I had to chuckle to myself because it occurred to me that I have real affection for very few television shows.  Two of them are Man vs. Food and Biggest Loser.

What do you suppose that says about me?