07 January 2007

Moving Day!

Thanks to the efforts of my pal Dana, this blog, my other blog, and my more professional writing stuff now have a permanent home on the web. You can now find us here:

It's still got some fine-tuning required; the RSS isn't working yet, and we're tweaking some stuff, and migrating my old blogs from here to there (thus the funkiness you all have been seeing lately). But I'm really excited to have our own domain, our own skin, and, well, another tangible marker of progress along our adventure. Thanks for your support...

03 January 2007

Prenatal Downs Testing

This article hit the news a few days ago. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory?id=2762171 "Medical Group Recommends All Pregnant Women Get Tested for Down Syndrome"

The main reason: Tests far less invasive than the long-used amniocentesis are now widely available, some that can tell in the first trimester the risk of a fetus having Down syndrome or other chromosomal defects.

It's a change that promises to decrease unnecessary amnios giving mothers-to-be peace of mind without the ordeal while also detecting Down syndrome in moms who otherwise would have gone unchecked.

I can't speak for every woman, of course, just for me. But I know, without a shadow of the slightest bit of doubt, that the moment I knew I was pregnant, that was my baby. Flesh of my flesh, and all that. It was mine. I think a lot of us feel this way, else why would the dead baby card be so effective? You're entirely emotionally invested in this new little person you're growing. Peace of mind? Where in the world is there peace of mind in this kind of testing???? I'm not expressing myself well at all. It's this huge emotional ball for me. But in my heart, prenatal testing is an ordeal, no matter what your answer is. The testing is an ordeal, the false positives and false negatives and true negatives and positives. How do you remove the ordeal from that? There is no way. In a normal birth, you meet your baby for the first time when the bonding hormones are raging, and you are utterly primed to unconditionally love that little thing, no matter what it comes out like. I don't think it matters if it's disabled or abled or male or female or whatever. The work, the real work, of pregnancy, is preparing for the results of that unconditionality. And all their damned poking and prodding and testing won't ever make it any easier, or any better. No matter what decision a woman makes with the information she gets, there will be a toll on her. There will be an ordeal. The only thing we really can control is the grace with which we handle the circumstances we find ourselves in. It's bigger than us, it's bigger than medicine. It's the dance of life, and I choose to call my own steps, thanks. As I take them.

31 December 2006

Who Do You Want To Be?

Who do you want to be today? Who do you want to be? Who do you want to be today? Do you want to be just like someone on T.V.?
OK, so Danny was talking about media, and about the creation of self based on glitzy outside (unreal) models. But today's the 31st, and this chorus has been going through my head all morning.
Oh boredom is so terrible, it's like a dread disease Nothing could be worse than when there's nothing on T.V. I'd rather be a cowboy than to stare blank at the walls I've been reborn so many times I can't remember them all (And I say)
Ain't that the truth? Every year around this time, people remake themselves. Jerico, the lovely boy who does my hair, makes people sign liability waivers if they go for what he calls a "change cut" in the months of November and December, because that's the time when change is often a indicator of suicidal thoughts. No kidding; this is apparently known widely in the beauty industry. But in January, everyone always changes everything, so it's OK.
I think I'll be a teddy boy, I think I'll be a hunk I think I'll be a tough guy and I think I'll be a punk I might just be a fashion star All dressed in frilly rags Or perhaps I'll cross the other side and walk around in Drag!
What's funny is how this upcoming month of January allows people to reach to be something different, when somehow the month of December is all about Tradition (tm). Find myself wondering if the pressure of jamming yourself back into the mold your family and loved ones expect of you isn't what creates the desperate need to remake yourself the next month.
Do you like to be just like a rock in the middle of the sea Do you want to suffer by yourself in a pool of blissful misery Do you want to feel like a saint in artists' clothes With a rosary in your hand Do you wanna be crazy like Van Gogh like a stranger in a Strange, strange land
I think all of us are all of those things, in some part, at some time. Thus, the attractiveness of being that when we're in the long hard slog of being this. But ya know, better to try to make a change to something better, than to allow fear of failure to trap one into being static. Stasis is a form of death.
Would you rather push the buttons And be feared by all humanity Or perhaps you'd like to be a bum Do you wanna be stupid, just like me
Heh. 'Nuf said. Who do you want to be . . . . . .

20 December 2006


...is what I call Rowan every morning when he gets up. Mornings are not, traditionally, a good time for the members of my family. We have a long and glorious tradition of waking poorly and hostile. My own mother bought me an alarm clock when I was in junior high, so she wouldn't have to deal with my attitude until I'd gotten past it. So it is not at all surprising that Rowan is clinging fiercely to morning times as his dedicated Mama-and-me time. He sleeps late (natch). I can hear the bedroom door open, and listen to his little feet (thus, the pitter-pat) as he walks first to the office, then if I'm not there, out into the living room. He waits at the door, frowning and grumpy, for me to notice him. "Pitter-Pat!" and I open my arms. He usually hits them at Mach 3 (who knew a tired crabby kid could move that fast?), and burrows into me, hiding from the world. It's the clearest expression of need I think he still has at this point. My little guy needs his Morning Mama. Some day soon, my Pitter-Pat will wake up and want something else, like a drink of juice or a book or shower or breakfast or something. Something not me. It'll be another milestone, and like most of his milestones these days, it'll be quiet and not entirely obvious. Not night-and-day like the baby milestones were, something that could be noted in the calendar as "on this day he did this amazing thing." No, this will be subtle. I may not immediately even notice the change. But it will have come and gone, and I'll have a memory of a pitter-pat, long past when I'll have the real thing. And with how fast he's growing up and maturing these days, I know it'll be here sooner than I'm ready for it. So I'm listening even more closely for the opening of the door, these days. Listening for Pitter-Pat.

14 December 2006

New Post at LWOS

Wheee! A seasonal post, even! Hope you guys like it. http://lifewithoutschool.typepad.com/lifewithoutschool/2006/12/paper_chain.html

13 December 2006

Expanding to Reach the Edges of Myself

I made the leap. I bought the extra-huge Monarch Franklin Covey Planner. In the past, I'd always stuck to the compact size, reasoning that it would fit easily in the backpack, and therefore I'd carry it and use it more. Two years of not doing that, has led me to realize that smaller is not necessarily better, and that I cannot squeeze myself into 3.5 x 5" pages. My life is bigger than that. I'm lucky enough to have a FranklinCovey store not too far from me. So I went, in order to test-drive the pages myself. I have a bone to pick with FranklinCovey. The extra-large pages are all slanted towards business execs, and the "balance family with work" pages, clearly designed for women, are all the smaller pages. Clearly, these people have never encountered the lives of most of the working mamas I know. I'd write to the company, but I suspect that people who are basing an entire corporate marketing platform on the notion that women juggle these things and men do not are probably not going to want to hear from some upstart Californian looney. Maybe I'll take this on some day when I have no other bigger windmills to tilt at. I still have the same desktop graphic on my laptop that I put up on Nov. 1, that some creative soul offered up in the NaNo forums. It's an Aquarian clock, with a calendar, and the Scottish proverb "What may be done at any time will be done at no time," then lower down, it says, "Now's the time." I have been resonating with that for over a month now, and haven't changed my desktop, because every day, I remind myself that now's the time. I am reminded of one of my favorite Rachel Carson quotes:

One summer night, out on a flat headland, all but surrounded by the waters of the bay, the horizons were remote and distant rims on the edge of space. Millions of stars blazed in darkness, and on the far shore a few lights burned in cottages. Otherwise there was no reminder of human life. My companion and I were alone with the stars: the misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon. It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century, this little headland would be thronged with spectators. But it can be see many scores of nights in any year, and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night, perhaps they never will.
She's right, of course, in this as she is in so many other things. We miss stuff, because we focus on that which is blaring in our face, and therefore the little mysteries slide by, sideways, taking with them that which makes the richness of a life. How does this tie back to the planner?
For the happiest life, rigorously plan your days, leave your nights open to chance. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966
So here we are, back at the king-sized planner pages. I find myself wondering how I ever tried to make do, get by, stumble along through the smaller pages. I'm finding both my plans, and my ability to execute now, today, to be increasing, simply by the virtue of allowing myself to expand to the very edges. It's a good feeling, a nice stretch; planner yoga of a sort. With bigger scrawls come bigger hopes and aspirations. I'm not living in shorthand any more, which feels pretty good. Who knew that planning in complete sentences rather than bullet points greases the imagination? We're heading into one of my favorite times of the year; the season of the re-creation of the self, the zone of the New Years' Resolution. The first 21 Days of January, wherein new plans, new people, new selves and new habits are created. But before the slog on changing ruts, comes this beautiful prep time, where people envision the selves they want to have in the new year, and freed of the burden of execution, they imagine bigger, more expansively. So here's my advice to you. When you're thinking about creating your year, go for the big pages.

10 December 2006

Four-Hour Watch

On one of my Mommy Lists, someone is complaining about not getting enough sleep. And it's hitting my buttons. Americans who spend their entire youths living on no sleep and chocolate-covered espresso beans at their own choice, suddenly become hostile and whiney when they're getting more sleep on average, but broken up on their baby's schedule instead of theirs. It astonishes me how many people don't think about this when they decide to become parents. And it astonishes me even more how many crackpot schemes are out there for "managing baby's sleep". Fercryingoutloud, get over yourselves. In my Coastal Navigation class the other night, we were discussing the notion of ship's watches. Most people do something like four-hour watches, round the clock. You're up for four, sleep for four, up for four... and so on. Because someone needs to drive the boat, you know. I realized that I have never once ever in my life heard a sailor whining about missing sleep. So I asked the instructor about it. He just shrugged, and said "well, that's part of the deal. Watches are a seamanly thing, you just do them." Well, ya know what? Sleep in fragmented bits on odd schedules at unique times are a parently thing, you just do them. He went on to talk about how night watches are some of his most magical memories; where it's just you, and the sea, and the sky. Hey, even Crosby Stills and Nash did their realizing on a midnight watch, in the Southern Cross. There's a ton of literary and musical reference about the mystical revelations to be had on a night watch. I read a book recently about a woman who singlehanded a boat around the world in a race. She slept in 10-minute snatches, here and there, as she could. Now granted, I don't think anyone really wants to take it that far, but the point is, when someone's doing something utterly amazing like racing a circumnavigation, sleep deprivation is seen as cool and worthy. Well maybe, just maybe, sleep dep due to meeting your child's needs in the best way possible for the fifteen seconds (OK, maybe three or four years, but trust me, it seems like fifteen seconds when it's over) they're little, is something cool and worthy. Maybe if we all just stood up and said "I am one of those gnarly extreme round-the-clock parents", people would back off and oooh and ahhh. Or maybe, just maybe, you get rewarded at the end by your happily adjusted and fabulous child. And that's enough. So I'm heading off to take my turn at the Watch, with my babies. While I still can.