31 May 2006

Kestrel's One!!!!

On his first birthday, Mr Kestrel Bastian thoroughly enjoyed his fresh-made strawberry ice cream, tried really hard to take some more steps, and cuddled up a storm with everyone who would pick him up. He played balloon forests with Rowan, had a short and very splashy bath, and then off to sleep. All in all, a fabulous day. Pictures to be uploaded this weekend, once I'm out of class. Throughout the day, I kept (natch) coming back to me... as in "this time last year I was....". Which was just a titch unsettling, because everyone around me who'd been there kept offering course correction. I remember the whole thing way more rosily than they do. They seem to remember a lot of sweating, swearing, and screaming that I have no recollection of at all. I remember being tired, I remember feeling hopeless, I remember Jason giving me the biggest reality check of my entire life, and I remember the actual moment of giving birth. The rest is sort of a blur. For a bit of nostalgia, the whole tale is here.

29 May 2006

Ahoy! -- The Value of a Father

This is so not where I thought this was going to go. But you know, sometimes life just rears up and smacks you on the offside when you aren't paying attention. It was my intent to blog about my adventures this week on the water. But instead, I'm going to blog about fathers. Because today's a holiday, I overestimated the amount of time it was going to take to get me to OCSC, and I arrived nearly an hour early. Which was actualy great; I got to walk down around the docks, sipping a gorgeous cup of strategically-gingered chamomile tea. I then moseyed up into the club room, to await my course. In walks a man. And I nearly break my neck doubletaking. He looks like The Bear. He talks like The Bear. He's the same size, holds himself the same way, even has the same physical and vocal mannerisms. He introduced himself immediately... his name is Bruce, he's my instructor. And thus is ruined the first few hours of my class, as I'm distracted from my primary mission (to determine the difference between heading close hauled versus beam reaching, and knowing which lines to tug and which way to move the tiller to accomplish those things), by a really incredible mental game of "what if". My regular readers may remember some of my earlier blogs about the Bear. He's had an incredibly tough life, and has the tracks on his body and his heart to show it. He's in poor physical health, and about similar mental attitude. He has never been a man who believed in either optimism nor in praise, and frankly, with an eye to where he's been, that's pretty understandable (even while it's been difficult sometimes, as his child, to cope with). Bruce is none of these things. He stands tall, his gaze is sharp, he hops about the moving boat like he belongs there, which he certainly does. He regularly bursts out with comments about how gorgeous the day is, how perfect the weather, what smashing good crew we're all shaping up to be. My classmates and I all beam with pride. Over the course of the day, we get to know Bruce. He was born in Oakland, same as the Bear. He went to Viet Nam about the same time as the Bear, except as Army rather than Navy. He's had a series of business ventures fall out from under him. He enjoys "things that go fast" and has a history of racing, but boats instead of cars...which is a spectacular case of mirror image with The Bear, such that the symmetry made me laugh out loud when Bruce said it. Because only in this world would the Navy guy grow up to race cars and the Army guy grow up to race boats. But anyway.... With so many things the same, I was wracking my brains, just wracking them, to figure out what the singular difference was, where the turning point happened between Bruce and Bear. And then the comment was made. Bruce had a father. Who taught him to sail when he was 10. And from then, he was "seriously hooked". His love of boats has guided the rest of his life. "Kept me out of trouble" he said. The Bear most certainly did not. He had a paternal arrangement, but it wasn't a dad. It wasn't someone who would take the time to take a kid out and show him the joys of anything. The most you could say was that the Bear's dad kept him fed, clothed, and sheltered. It brings to mind the stories about how young male elephants without old bulls around become hard-living thugs, and stampede and destroy. To the point where wildlife managers will bring bulls into territories with troublesome youth, to keep them in line. Because there's something about the male psyche, whether human or otherwise, that requires the guidance of older males to thrive. Notice, that's "guidance". Not just "presence". It matters, greatly, apparently. I know the Bear and Bruce have walked their own karmic paths, learned their own lessons, and have lived their own lives in their own ways. I won't demean either's journey by naming one "better" than the other. Sometimes the roughest roads teach the greatest lessons. But I am more solidly committed than I ever have been before (and that's saying a whole lot) to keeping my boys in tight with their father.


This week, I'm having an adventure. I've taken a week off from my normal employment, and I'm taking a Basic Keelboat sailing course through OCSC. I'll try to blog about it when I get home at night. Talking to Jason last night, I realized that I'm not nearly as nervous as I normally would be about such an undertaking. I remember not sleeping the night before each and every one of my dive classes, for instance. But last night, I slept like a baby. Well, like a woman with two babies. OK, not at all, but for utterly different reasons (who knew that Kes could pee that much? Or that Rowan could ask, in his angelic little voice, for so many drinks of water?) I think that when you get older, you understand your personal limitations and aptitudes a bit more, and you kinda know what you're in for. You also understand, somewhat cynically, that if you're paying people for a course, they've got a vested interest in getting you through. That last bit comes from many, many scuba classes taught. It's so disorenting looking at a course setup from this side instead of that side. But kind of amusing. I'm spotting euphemisms and backdoors in the course staff's speech from a mile off. And quietly allowing them their space, because I know, oh man, I know what they're thinking. And I'm going to do my darnedest not to be the sort of nightmare I've so often had. Antonia, the manager of the place, had approached me to perhaps teach charter scuba classes for the school. So I might, with whiplash-like speed, get to see the other side of that equation again. I like the idea of earning the cash to continue on with the courses by teaching, myself. There's a symmetry to it that appeals. I just need to find an adequate facility in the area, and so far, my search isn't bearing fruit. I'm also finding it gut-wrenching to think about being away from my boyos all day every day for five straight days. And realized, this morning, that this is what most working parents do. My heart's out to all of you; I have no idea how you stand it. It'll be interesting to see how this affects my nursing relationships; Kes is totally ready to wean, and this might just do it. Rowan... is a different story. But maybe with some encouragement, this could be it?

22 May 2006

My Boys Done Well

...no no, my other boys.

Salty Walt
and the Rattlin Ratlines
. They won SFWeekly's
Best Sea Shanty Band I am just beside myself with glee. Check em out!!

21 May 2006

A Week Off the Wagon

Last week, I spent the entire week in the old-flourescent-lit, windowless, rat-infested basement of Moscone South, editing articles for the JavaOne conference. I arrived in the AM, and stayed through the late PM, four days straight. Sun bought all my meals. Oh. My. God. I had no idea, really, how amazingly, wildly different, my diet really is. I mean, sure, I knew, but after a while, what you eat is what you eat, and you lose track of it being anything but normal. It has been three days since we got home, and I'm still feeling like crap, despite cleaning my diet back up. (Doesn't help that I threw my neck out due to hours of staring at a monitor, and I'm on icepacks pretty much constantly). I had read about "cooked food hangovers", and thought them to be exaggeration. But I am now, officially, a believer. What's cool is that Jason is too. He felt crappy enough that we ended up buying Thursday night's dinner ourselves, and headed out to a raw food restaurant in the City (Alive!). It was both detox and comparison shopping. I had sorta wondered how what I prepare compares to what other raw fooders do, and came away pleased with myself. So that was nice. So after four days, the total triage report:

  • lower energy
  • increased body odor (I don't use deodorant at home, and after two days on cooked food, I needed it)
  • increased mucus production (that gross coating on your tongue? Ugh! and random snotty nose upon exertion)
  • mental fuzzyness (which, in desperation, I tried to fix with a Dr. Pepper. Stupid!)
  • irritability
  • whacko milk production
  • achey and stiff
  • digestive difficulties (I'll leave that to your imagination)
As far as Kestrel's ECing, it went straight out the window. Several stealth nighttime pees, totally variable poop pattern; we haven't gone through so many pairs of Poquitos since he was a newborn. Ridiculous. If ECing was like that, I'd have trouble keeping up, no doubt. What's stupid is that I even made good choices, from what was offered me. Fruit for breakfast (mostly melon, which is part of what threw Kestrel off. Rowan's pee frequency also increased, but he's totally on top of it), salads for lunch when the opportunity was there, tortilla-less fajitas on the day that was lunch.... I really did modify intensely. And it still killed me. Sometimes, it takes a brick to the head to provide motivation. I came home and bonded intensely with my CSA-delivered veggies. I've been living on salads and smoothies since we got back. And I'm recovering. But I'm totally in shock, wondering how most people *function* on the kind of food that was being provided (which most of my coworkers thought was "pretty good".) Pass the kale.

12 May 2006

Letter To Laura (Bush)

Got this in my inbox, from Codepink:

On Mother's Day weekend, May 13-14, we will bring 3,000 roses to grieving mothers of wounded soldiers who have little to celebrate this Mother’s Day. This central part of our 24-hour vigil honors the mothers and other women who have paid the greatest price for this administration’s senseless war on Iraq. Our partners at Working for Change, the activist arm of Working Assets Funding Service, has helped us raise the money for this action, helping us send a strong message to the occupants of the White House and the country: Mothers Say NO to war.

We have received thousands of letters from you to Laura asking her to tell Bush end the war in Iraq. Now we've been invited by Working for Change to join their Mother's Day action and send her another letter: this time not to invade Iran. Please join Working for Change and send a letter to the First Lady to urge her not to let her husband start another catastrophic, costly war in Iran.

President Bush was unwilling to listen to intelligence specialists, who told him that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. He was unwilling to listen to military specialists, who told him that he would need a much larger force to occupy Iraq and prevent civil war. If he won't listen to his advisers, let's see if he will listen to his wife.

This Mother's Day, President Bush and his wife Laura will take joy in their daughters. But for thousands of mothers across America, past years' joy will now be replaced by unspeakable grief. They will usher in this Mother's Day not as a celebration of motherhood, but as one more painful reminder of an irreparable loss.

Now, the President is rattling his saber at Iran. Despite the fact that top experts say that Iran is at least ten years away from a working nuclear weapon, recent news reports have indicated that the Bush Administration is already planning offensive military operations -- and even, ironically, the use of nuclear bombs -- against Iran.

Please, this Mother’s Day, celebrate by asking Laura Bush to tell the President to get out of Iraq, and not to Invade Iran.

See you in the streets on Mother's Day, Allison, Dana, Farida, Gael, Jodie, Medea, Nancy, Rae and Tiffany
I've already sent in my donation for a rose to be tied to the white house fence, in honor of the fallen. And now, here's my letter to Laura.
To Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States of America: We're all mothers. And they're all someone's baby. We can dress them up in trappings that make us comfortable calling them "enemy", but somewhere, they have a mother that will grieve horribly when they're gone. Please, please, please, ask your husband to stop this madness. Plenty of Presidents have gained notoriety by going to war. None has ever gained the adoration of his people by having the courage to stop. Let George be the first.
Here's where you can send your letter: http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/action.cfm?itemid=20734 Go do it. Now. Before someone else's baby dies.

05 May 2006

FatBrain Strikes

It started innocently enough. A friend took a snapshot of me, Kestrel, Catalina (the other baby he was playing with), and her mommy. Her mommy was gorgeous. Thin, made-up, perfect hair, generally just all-around put together. I looked like absolute hell. I was making a bad face, but.... but.... I'm fat. For the first time ever in my life, having babies has led me down the metabolic road to hell. It's not like I didn't know this was coming. I'd actually taken advantage of the presence of a scale in the home I was visiting (I don't own one, and haven't weighed myself since just after I had Kestrel) to find out the damage. The numbers aren't that bad; I weigh what I weighed before Rowan was born. Except that then, those numbers indicated a body that went to the gym for at least an hour every stinkin day and had muscles so solid that I got recruited for the gym's bodybuilding team even while 6 months pregnant with Rowan, and now they indicate a body that cleans up toddler food leavings by eating them herself. I'm wearing my pre-pregnancy clothes, too. Except for jeans, since my hips have spread and there's not a darned thing I can do about that short of wrapping myself like a mummy. If a pelvis is going to move around to let a baby out, it's never going back to the way it was before. I'm cool with that. But why, oh why, does it need to keep that extra bit of padding on top??? The female body metabolism shifts radically during nursing, so that fat reserves are held onto for dear life... the life of the baby, to be precise. When a woman's body is providing nourishment for a baby, it tends to fortify against any possible disruption of the food supply, and that means keeping fat around. So that means that evolutionarily speaking, I'm a winner. The genes for survival are there. Very little comfort, that, but there you have it. The clearest statement I can find for how culture and evolution can at times be at cross-purpose. It would help if I lived in a culture where postpartum poundage was recognized as a sign of a mother's dedication rather than a signal that she'd gone badly to seed. Alas, we worship the maiden and despise the mother and crone here in the Western World. Women with children are the #2 most ignored group of people anywhere, just behind old women. I'll never be a maiden again, and I'm good with that. I *am* a mother, I have walked that valley, I have two beautiful boys and a whole lot of good story material to show for it. I just wish that, as capable as I am of bucking society's trend in every other arena of life, I didn't recoil in horror at my own photographs. Besides the Mommy Metabolism, of course, the two key factors to personal poundage are diet and exercise. We've been flirting with a raw diet for months now, and I've been vegan for about a year, with slipups now and then for scrambled eggs and gourmet cheese. So it's not like my caloric intake is all that dramatic. I'm a fruit and veggie girl. So, very little hope for help there. It's the lack of real exercise that's killing me. Who amongst us walking the Mommy Way has time for a real workout like in the pre-mommy days? Certainly not me, not if I want to keep my domestic scene from degenerating into utter chaos. And while life with a toddler and a pre-toddler does provide opportunities for incredible activity, it's seldom the sustained activity that's required. It's usually just individual instances of heart-pounding stress, with great stretches of not much in the middle. The challenge, going forward, is acceptance. Isn't it always, though? Acceptance of my mommy body, acceptance of my time limitations, acceptance of my role as Provider of Primary Nutrition to my boyo. And in the meantime, maybe I should run around the block a few times.

04 May 2006

Welcome, Baby Boy R!!!!!!

Last night, my pal FR had her baby. He came to the world in the usual way; a peaceful, gentle, home waterbirth. Nothing remarkable. Except that he's a VBAC baby, and FR had to fight, research, negotiate, plan, and stress to have that unremarkable birth. Since she told me she was in labor, I've been pacing the floor, lighting candles, saying prayers, and sending good vibes. I had three dreams about her birth last night. I've been staying casually (ha!) within earshot of the phone (it was in the bathroom with me when I showered this morning), and checking my email so compulsively I look like a hampster in a research lab. I just got the call. She sounds like I did after my homebirth VBAC. Stunned. Blissed-out. Thrilled. Tired (oh, man, tired). But *alive*. Alive in a way you just can't describe adequately. I am sitting here bouncing up and down, getting all teary-eyed, and rejoicing. Another birth, reclaimed. Welcome, welcome little baby boy. May you grow to be a joy to your parents, a delight to your older sister, a credit to your family, and a living example to every woman out there who wants to do what your Mama just did. I hope you understand, some day, what she had to do to give you the very best start in the whole world, and that you honor her for it.