Thursday, August 20, 2009

Deep Apologies to Facebookers and Friends afar

I just wanted to say that I love the comments I receive on this blog. You see any on the comments here? No? Well its because most people seem to comment via Facebook. That is still lovely for me but its not lovely for them because I am a lousy lousy Facebook messager. I only message on Facebook as an absolute last resort (as I did today when Laine felt she had offended me because I had ignored her for so long).

Its really not personal. At least, I don't mean it to be.

Its because the Facebook app steals my messages or they get lost before I finish them. Most days I am extremely interrupted at home. I only type freely on days off or at night or a bit at naptime if Frost is out. So, I really intend to do better and shall try harder because I much prefer dialogue to an endless soliloquy.

Please forgive me for now and if you really want a reply, include your email in your Facebook message. That way, I can just paste it into my gmail and respond to you there.

To those of you who know the evil truth that my email is backed up for days as well please know that I have composed emails to you in my mind. We have had conversations. We have sipped our wine. Tamsyn, David, Mum, James, Kelly, Natasha, Jeanelle, Sandy - I am thinking of you and/or emails you have sent but just never get around to writing in more than sound bites. I hope we catch up eventually.

Bizarre Injuries bring out the Seer

[Edited to get Wren's words right]

I was a bit OCD as a child. I thought that if I did anything I had to repeat it (MyAge+1)x or I would die. This included things like skipping, hopping over lines in the sidewalk without touching and throwing and catching a ball. It became harder as I grew older but I also had more skill so my fear of death receded over time.

I also collected numbers. I liked to keep my bus tickets (each one had a discrete serial number) and recorded the numbers that city workers left on things like fire hydrants and sidewalk access hatches. I felt that there might be some clue to life, some code that could be solved. Something that the adults were doing that they hadn't told me.

Later, I read a Roald Dhal short story about a man who has a form of extra-sensory perception that allows him to see through cards. I borrowed books on ESP from the library and spent a long time researching Kundalini and Uri Geller to see if I could read minds. For a long time I believed that I had a super-power of microscopic vision and that those little motes of fat one sees dancing across the eye were actually microscopic particles in the air that only I could see!

Uri Geller

Anyway, after a few more decades of reading the potents in tarot cards and secret societies I have largely morphed my belief in portents into a healthy respect for the buddha's teachings and a quixotic category of "I don't know but I like to imagine" which includes looking at the stars in dark places and being SURE that Wren did so well in his last surgery because I found so many sand dollars on the beach the month before. [I found lots on Vashon before his July appointment so the significance was confirmed.]

This brings me to yesterday.

Yesterday, I received two strange injuries and they feel ominous [omen-ous?]

FIRST I was mauled by a chicken. The artifact is a large red scratch across the side of my face onto my eyelid.

SECOND I squeezed a sliver of my stomach between the upper and lower sections of a loft bed we were assembling. The artifact is a small red line of broken blood vessels.

I am really at a loss to know what the universe is telling me. Is it that I should lose weight and give people more space? Should I become vegetarian?

[ASIDE: In the bath last night I was feeding Wren his leftover beef fajita when he asked:
"What is this stuff? It look like chicken poop."
[Wren throws it on the bathmat.]
"Its beef, meat from a cow. Don't throw meat."
"A cow?"
"A cow from the shop."
"Which cow?"
"I don't know which cow."
"You went to the farm and which cow did you picked the body off?"
"No, someone else killed the cow and sold it at the shop."
"Cow is very strong. It is hard to bite it."

Anyway, I shall post a picture of my mortal injuries later. Actually, not my belly. I am not ready to post a picture of my belly yet.

The mortal damage to my beauty

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday being busy kind of

I have 6 appointments in my planner today. SIX is not bad for a stay-at-home momsicle. I have already been to the masseur to deal with my neck issues. If you're envious and imagining me lying in the twilight while someone plays elevator music and soothes my soul, think again. These days masseurs are hard core [read pilates] advocates who adjust your structure [read your bones and core muscles] with deep probing and thrusting. Since most of my readers are mothers whom I assume have no sex life you won't read any double entendre into that but just in case, let me clarify, probing and thrusting into my brain via the armpit is not sexy.

I felt great afterwards.

Next was Taking Wren to Art School. He was querulous when we arrived and decided it was time to go home. Now. Immediately. I told him he could go home after art class so he did one painting and then said it was time to go home. Now. Immediately. The teachers are very nice and allow parents to stay so I prepared to sit in the lounge and wait with Frost reading Farside. Wren found that too alarmingly far and cried to go home (now, etc etc) so I had to join him on the mat playing with small stuffed rodents in a basket. I played squirrel, chipmunk, beaver (rodent?) and oppossum (not rodent?). Then I played with the little people and the stuffed bears. I started to tell Wren the story of the 3 bears in a funny voice and before long I had half the preschool class gathered around involved in the story. Thankfully the teacher came over with the Three Bears story and suggested storytime so I was able to escape and am now typing this post from a spot in the shrubbery outside preschool. It is shady and there are no children in sight.

After Wren is done at preschool I will be going to the chiropractor. While I was lying on the massage table I did my best to get the masseur to tell me to stop seeing the chiropractor but she said that some bodies respond well to bone adjustment. I shall have to see how I respond. Right now I feel that I prefer the deep probing to the violent wrenching

Update on the Chiropractor
I am going to see the chiropractor a few more times but I am not sure I like her. I mean, I like her but she has really drunk the Koolaid on chiropractic work and wants to do direct debits from my checking account for a monthly total of 12 visits. Are you insane woman? Anyway, after the adjustment I feel worse than before but have failed to find any google records for chiropractors who have actually broken patients necks so it must just be a feeling I have.

I may try another chiropractor recommended by my naturopath. He doesn't see you more than every few weeks. I welcome successful chiropractor stories. Actually, I welcome any stories of chiropractors who break necks, too. It would help my though processes.

Then later on...
Later, I have someone coming over for my 3-bin-compost system (which I made with my own hands and saw and hammer in the days when I did things like that) which I donated FREE on Craigslist. The people who are taking it are going to use it in a P-Patch (community garden) in West Seattle which is a good home for it.

I made this
Later still, Josh is going to collect and assemble the loft bed we bought on the weekend.

Later still still, I hope to meet my friend Laurie for drinks. We have tried to talk while our kids have playdates but its too hectic to speak. Those childless among you may not believe me. But it is impossible to speak sequentially while 2, 4 and 8 year olds are playing.

Follow up to the career crisis post
Thank you to all of you who responded to my earnings angst, my career crisis, my big-blob of motherhood moment. I can divide responses into two groups. The first group is from mother's who have gone through the same thing and come out the other side. They said [to paraphrase] come and talk to me, you need to work at this, its not your fault, we have been there and you will get through it]. This group includes my mother. Thank you.

The other group of responses said [to paraphrase] "you are obsessing about this and should just follow your heart and do what you are interested in love and if it doesn't work there is still the chance to do something else, life's not rigid, you are talented, you are still you, there are plenty of jobs out there. Just get one if you want." This group loosely includes my husband.

And lets just say that that sort of talk is kind but nonconstructive.

Some time ago I read a copy of Brain Child in which a writer complained that when she was at home full time the cost of her labor at home was effectively deducted from her husband's paycheck but when she wanted to go back to work the cost of the childcare was supposed to be met by her nascent employment. This makes it very hard to earn enough to make it viable to afford quality childcare.

I like the idea of organizing childcare and then getting a job but that may be unrealistic - what if the hours don't match or I can't find a job soon enough? Anyway, I am going to avoid the whole cost-of-childcare obstacle while I weigh my options.

Aside, for my mother and Josh
I know you are the only one interested in the details of my neck diagnosis. The masseur is trained as an osteopath, pilates instructor AND masseur. She says she is very pleased that all my neck symptoms 'make sense' and then explained what is wrong. Apparently I have a lot of tension across my front upper chest which you can see by my rounded shoulders which cannot pull back. This puts my neck at the wrong angle - leaning too far forward. It is also asymmetrical - probably from those years carrying Frost on one side in the sling. This means my right shoulder pulls my neck vertebra to the left where there is a lot of muscle tension. The right side overcompensates lower down to pull it back. Her goal is to open up my front breastbone area (am I a chicken or is there a better word?) and muscles so my back and neck alignment is correct. Then the muscles will stop the spasms. I need to strengthen my core muscles to help holding my chest more erect rather than slumping. My first exercise is to lie on my back on a tennis ball to work into the tight muscle under my right shoulder blade.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Golden Gardens Low Tide

For someone who grew up at 29 degrees latitude (similar to San Antonio, Texas), Seattle has a strong seasonality. Its the shortening evenings, the ripening pumpkins, the Halloween costumes arriving at Value Village and the BACK TO SCHOOL displays at area retailers that give you the message that summer is going to be over soon and you should just get over it and plan the holidays.

Realizing this over the weekend (it is no longer light when Wren wakes before 6am) I flew into a panic to do all the summer things I had planned but have not got around to yet. This morning we made it to Golden Gardens by 8.45am for the low tide. Some of the beach firepits were still smouldering when we arrived and fishing boats were putting out from the Marina across a glassy surface of the Sound. In the distance the Olympics were a wash of pale blue with rare patches of remaining snow. The water was far out at a -1.8 foot tide. Wren loved the hermit crabs and I managed to capture a large crab in the eelgrass. He was missing one large pincer but still waved the single one around menacingly. We stroked anemones to feel their sticky arms and froze our toes off on the incoming tide. I found a tube worm that is not in our Beachcombers Guilde to PNW seashore life but it was interesting in having built itself out of shells and pebbles.

While Wren was willing to go along with the sudden urgency to Get Out and See the Sun Frost was not cheerful about it. I don't know what happened to the nature-boy who used to accompany me on all the icy low tides near dawn but he complained that beaches are sandy and lay on a towel with 3 volumes of Foxtrot comics. He asked whether coming to the beach with me instead of staying home to play screentime and read and do D&D would constitute a chore he could tick off on his weekly responsibilities. I said "no" in that kind of restrained way that means I am biting my tongue to stop saying "WTF?".

Big Orgre Fighting Guy is MINE
On the way home we visited Gary's Games for some more D&D miniatures and then had brunch at the Sunlight Diner. The boys set up all the miniatures and Wren clung to a huge evil green snake monster and a big Ogre Fighting Guy which Frost will have to reclaim in due course. I have now had my morning fix of summer treats but Frost is hoping to go bowling later and I am hoping to water the garden and do some cleaning of the garden beds while its pleasant out there. I have a few plans for fall planting (some new lavender and perhaps a tree) and have to clean out the old plants and harvest the next crop of tomatoes for canning sauce. Finally, I am going to do the weekly garbage battle.

Rant about garbage
Seattle recently switched to 'compulsory' green waste recycling. Green waste includes food scraps and recyclable food containers as well as yard waste and it gets collected weekly. While I love the idea of all that composting of city garbage it has made a lot more work in my garbage day. Now I get to drag the HUGE yard waste container weekly (instead of bi-weekly). At the same time they removed our glass bins and told us to add all the other recyclables to the one bin. My recycling bin is always overflowing by Week 2 - so much so that I lifted all 65 lbs of Frost up into the bin and asked him to jump around on it to compact it ("ew, there is GLASS IN HERE!"). That was then hauled down the stairs to the street. Finally, I have the regular garbage AND my two ancillary yard waste containers which have leaves and tree clippings. I feel like a mini city transfer center outside my house each week. At least the lack of diapers has reduced our garbage bin to a new lightness.

To add to my complaint - we have had maggots in the yard waste TWICE. They are disgusting little things that crawl up the sides and out. Why? If they could stay inconspicuous I would not object to flies breeding in my garbage but they must not Come Out. Another time, I became confused and dumped the green waste ON TOP of the recycling. Lets just say that the kitchen debris is not fresh so that was fun to sort out.

I was down at Storables yesterday and I know that I am not the only one facing these complications of our new Green Friendly Policy. The shelves with nicely screened kitchen waste collectors that you can be proud to have in your kitchen [rather than quick to eject from your kitchen] were doing quick business while I shopped for a reusable soap dispenser which Wren has claimed as some kind of weapon.

I guess summer is starting to sound like the Domestic Goddess is Ranting. I shall go and drink tea (drinking water has been one of those fall-by-the-wayside things) plus I need to continue my research into netbooks and reschedule the visit to the chiropractor I avoided by doing the beach this morning.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

You don't GO anywhere on a treadmill

Those of you who know me in person know that I have a longstanding desire to have a job. Its coupled with a firmly held belief that I don't want Wren and Frost to see their parents only on weekends (when I would be forced to cram all my pampering - pedicures, gym visits, shopping sprees and preventative healthcare into those days as well, right? Right?)

What I wanted to say was that life with the boys is rambling and roaring along at a happy pace of cupcakes and chores and chickenpoop but I don't have any time to think about my own goals (can mothers have such things?). As a result I live in a perpetual state of rushing without reflection which feels like running on a treadmill over a trapdoor. At any moment I could trip the switch [ie, Wren could enter elementary school before I have my 'career back', Frost could become a teenager or something will change] and I will fall down into a huge chasm of midlife crisis.

I know its waiting.

Recently I did some googling of potential employers. Employers with whom I would like to work and would have done well pre-motherhood. I looked at PATH and the Gates Foundation (which is based only 10 minutes from my home), some non-profits with work in Africa. I also googled masters courses in public health, public administration and other areas of interest.

Instead of being productive, this made me question how I got so far from the person I think I am. You know, brainy, successful, thin, doing regular exercise and valued by clients. Me - a straight A scholarship student in everything I have ever attempted can't even qualify for a masters without doing a GRE and seem unable to make myself appear anything but aged on a resume.

Worse, the students and employees whose faces grace the pages of these colleges and employers seem to personify the Other Path - where one can be young, free and embody dedication to the cause. I would love to be dedication to the cause 3 days a week but I am finding it hard to carve out the space for myself to gather the clarity to market myself.

Am I OLD at 42?

Then there are the big questions:
1) After a substantial career break, do you try and return at a similar level or just get any job. Marketing Director to checkout chick? Its looking good at this point.
2) Should I take the risk of working in non-profits where I may earn a lot less than the private sector but could have a more meaningful long term focus? I liked earning a good salary (Josh and I had the same salaries when we married. I now earn zilch. Nada. Nothing. I can't even apply for a credit card on my own. However, I was tired of FMCG and loved the social policy side. Also, should I focus on larger corporations that offer good health benefits in case we need some supplemental cover for Wren. We don't now but who knows down the track. Smaller non-profits are unlikely to be able to cover Wren as things now stand.
3) Should I try and find 'at home' work - or contract work which would allow me to dictate more flexible hours [=returning to work as a part-time qualitative research moderator if I could]
4) Should I work full-time? [=many more options but problems with young kids]
5) Should I work part-time? [=few opportunities in professional or well paid positions. I could be a checkout chick at PCC]

This is not very productive thinking. I simply create the same list of questions every time I consider this issue. Still, if you have read this far I appreciate it. It helps to put things down somewhere.

Did I say I hadn't had time to reflect? Now I have. TICK.

Wren has been acting more like a 3-year old every day. He is much more opinionated and verbal and the outbursts of screeching have subsided. He loves to help me around the house as long as I don't ask him to. For example, if I start mopping or vacuuming without him he rushes to me and grabs at me "STOP STOP" while he gets his own mop or vacuum. However, if I ask him to pick up toys before snack / another game / books / gardening he refuses until he sees I am serious.

Frost is very into graphic novels. He is reading fairly adult cartoons and enjoys the Farside, Footrot Flats, Marvel comics and the Simpsons. He has almost finished the last of the Riordan series - The Last Olympian and will probably get back to the Warriors series (the second one) after that. He is still complaining about chores and was sulky, sad and self-recriminating when he realized he wasn't getting allowance this week because he had failed to do the required 15 chores this week. He can do things like recycling, cleaning his room, helping in the garden, checking the chicken's water and doing something extra to help but had only 9 'ticks' on his list. He is saving for Brickcon (to buy Brickarms) so he was miserable.

Anyway, its late. Its been a long day and I am always lazy at this time. I am sorry I have been a bad blogger. I am storing up posts for the time I get a moment in a coffee shop or a day when the kids are occupied. It hasn't been happening recently because my neck injury has had me using my time off for seeing doctors and a chiropractor.

Josh is in the kitchen trying to figure out what is going on with our dishwasher which is making a loud alarm signal at a time when the kids are sleeping. Last night Wren woke in the night very upset so I am not keen to disturb him again.

We bought Frost a loft bed today. It will arrive on Tuesday so we will be doing a mini-room remodel at that point.