Archive for March, 2012

Works in Progress, Wednesday

March 28, 2012

I’m not Jewish, nor a DIYer, but I do have some projects in mind for the spring and summer that I thought it would be fun to blog about a little, and I thought Decemberbaby’s WIP Wednesdays would be a fun way to do it. Without further ado, here are my top projects right now:

Potty Training Oz

I think he is so ready. Every time I take his sister to the potty, he follows along and sits on the extra back-up potty we have (fully clothed). Recently he has started pointing at his nethers when he’s doing business in his diaper, complaining about wet diapers more often, and even pulling his own pants up and down.

Progress: Monday I bought underpants, pull-ups, M&M rewards, and some summer T-shirts (all he has now are onesies). I debated about getting him his very own potty, but I didn’t because we already have two, plus a toilet-top ring, and if I did get him one I’m sure his sister would commandeer it anyway. I just have to set a start date and DO IT.

Urban Balcony Garden

We get lots of sun on our balcony all summer; I’ve already started some cilantro seeds in an egg carton, but I need to get some more planters. I don’t mind using cut-open plastic bottles (there’s no recycling here) but I do want a few that are bigger, for bigger plants. I’m saving some cherry tomato seeds to start. I’ll have to buy dirt too. I really want to do a compost bin as well but I know nothing about urban composting. I need to do some web research on this. I’m so tired of throwing out lovely vegetable scraps every day.

Healthier Eating

My New Year’s resolution to eat less meat is going well, but the corollary of eating more fruits and vegetables and less salt is not. I’m exercising LESS and feeling blah. I need to get my husband into better eating habits too. The kids are a challenge right now as they are getting more and more picky….

Progress: I had a bunch of spinach in the freezer that I finally figured out how to use – I made spinach tortillas! It was soooo easy. Too bad Oz spit them out and Illyria refused to even try them. Gimli liked them, and I did too.

I’m not much of a cook – I get into ruts where I cook the same 3-4 dishes in rotation for months (this winter we ate a lot of potato-leek soup, based on the recipe posted by the Yarn Harlot. By “a lot” I mean at least twice a week). So I was happy to do something new. This is how lame a cook I am – this is the very first time I have ever made my own tortillas. Less than a year ago I learned how to make grilled cheese by looking it up on the internet. That is how pathetic a cook I am.

If you have any good, EASY spring-produce recipe ideas I’m all ears – it has to be simple (4 ingredients or less, not counting seasoning; I don’t do yeast; I’m very lazy about measuring anything – I don’t even own measuring cups or spoons right now, I just use kitchen utensils). Bonus if it’s a pasta dish!

Dissertation

I thought I might post some periodic updates here just to keep myself honest. This month SUCKED for dissertation progress. Some was external factors, some was just my own lack of self-discipline. I’m not going to meet my work-hour goals this month. I’m not even done transcribing my interviews. (In other words, when people ask me how the dissertation-writing is going… I haven’t even STARTED the writing part.) I’m starting to get excited, though, about getting back into reading theory, and beginning to dig into analysis. It is harder to track progress with those things, but on the whole it’s a lot more interesting work!

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Blessed (children mentioned a lot)

March 27, 2012

I’ve been weepy and hormonal all week – more so than usual. Two or three days ago I was nursing Oz, looking at his little round cheeks, stroking his soft hair, and I started to cry as I thought about how shattered I would be if anything happened, if I should lose him. He is such a gift. I’m still stunned to know that he is my son, that I am his mother. At times it hardly seems believable. Mine? Really? This isn’t some incredibly solid and persistent dream?

Illyria feels so much more like a part of me, an extension of me. Oh believe me, I know she is her own person – the shape of her nose is all hers, the stubborn will, the little wheels turning in her mind – but the connection I feel to her is qualitatively different for some reason. I can’t explain it, really. She is no less a gift than Oz is. He is no less a part of me than she is. But it’s almost like I feel as though she and I are made of the same stuff, the same color play-dough, and he is made of something else entirely instead – the softest velvet cloth, perhaps.

I still can hardly believe they are mine. And I am so deeply, deeply thankful that they are.

~::~

Our life plan decision conversations continue. And it feels like an embarrassment of riches – we have the education and experience and social capital to create multiple potential life paths… I was at an internet cafe the other day and the guy at the desk asked me where I’m from. He said he longs to go to the US and couldn’t believe that I like it here. People are dying – literally – to live and work in a place where I own a house, where I claim citizenship. I start to think about these things too much, and I go a little crazy. I have so much more to say about this… the thing I wanted to notice is that instead of getting bogged down and angsty about making the “correct” choice (because I don’t think there is one), to be grateful that we HAVE a choice. We HAVE options. GOOD options. To be thankful.

Sobering

March 21, 2012

A couple nights ago everyone was asleep but me, so I went into the living room to check e-mail and blog reader in the dark. And I heard the most god-awful noise, like a dog dying or something. I realized it was coming from Oz’s room, where Gimli was sleeping on the twin bed. I pushed my way in the dark into the room just as he came out to meet me, coughing and desperately sucking in each breath with an intense, strained wheeze. Oz woke up and started crying. I turned on the hall light and stared at Gimli with no idea what to do. He motioned me into Oz’s room. I reasoned, Gimli is breathing, and he thinks he’s going to be ok, so I went and shushed Oz and he immediately went back to sleep. Within minutes Gimli was still coughing, but breathing normally again.

I think I would have been more freaked out if this had not happened once before, about 10 years ago, when we were newly married, and that time too it resolved on its own within minutes. We don’t know what caused it either time. It’s scary as hell. Gimli thinks he aspirated a mix of saliva and mucus while sleeping on his back (he has a deviated septum, and seasonal allergies). It’s like he was drowning. He said his breathing felt a little sore in the morning.

While I was shushing Oz back to sleep, my mind ran instantly through all these scenarios – what would I do, if Gimli died? Thankfully we have a nest egg socked away, and I’m fairly confident I could find a job to support the kids, with child care help from the grandparents. I think I would be ok. I mean, materially speaking.

My sister’s husband died 7 years ago on Saturday. She had a 6-month-old baby. She moved into her mother-in-law’s house and lived on government support for a year. Eventually she remarried. I know how slender is the thread that sustains our lives. And that a loss of that magnitude makes the material considerations seem completely irrelevant.

~::~

This happened in the midst of renegotiating our life plans. Every day brings up a new scenario, a new ordering of options. Dizzying. We’re still in limbo right now. Every possible option makes me feel both happy and sad, in about the same measure. We’re talking a lot. It’s hard to find the time, sometimes. Gimli has brought his parents into the discussion and that makes me a little tense. They mean well, but it can be a little fraught for me, managing another dimension to the process.

~::~

There’s so much more I want to write about. Drafts in the queue. And yet I also keep wondering if I’m putting too much time into this blogging thing, time I should be using towards dissertation work. But I can’t seem to stop. Can’t seem to quit you.

~::~

Because I’m never going to get around to the full blog post this merits, I’m going to pause right now and recognize my top two commenters – Rachel, and Tara (who set up my first blog for me, way back in 2006!). Thank you, ladies, for the love.

Life Plans Are Best Discussed Sober

March 16, 2012

First Entry

39

March 12, 2012

39

(Sometimes I get bored while I’m working)

Hey, it’s my birthday today! I’m now on the final count-down to 40. I want to do something intentional this year, a daily discipline of the sort that I can reach March 12, 2013 and be able to look back and see something that has unfolded over the 365 days past. I thought of doing a 365 photo project, but I already take a lot of photos and couldn’t think of a subject that really lit me up. I thought of doing something health oriented but that’s not really, well, fun – I mean, taking my vitamins and flossing should theoretically contribute to my general overall good health a year from now but there’s not the aesthetic aspect that I’m looking for.

So I decided to dive into a blank journal I’ve been hoarding for a few years now. I plan to write something in it every day (I haven’t decided whether to do morning or evening) – aim for just one sentence. Something good that happened that day, or something I am thankful for, or an intention for the day (if I’m writing in the morning). I want to end my 30s thoughtfully and proactively. I want to begin my 40s mindfully and optimistically.

~::~

Last night our nanny texted me to say she had a family medical urgency and could she come in late today? So I spent the morning doing housework and playing with the kids, instead of going to my Albanian lesson. It was nice, by and large. We played “monkey catch” which entails Illyria standing on the bed and throwing a beanie baby spider monkey at me while I do slap-stick leaps and jumps in a mad effort to never, ever catch it and she laughs hysterically. Oz enjoyed it too. We had oatmeal and peanut butter toast for breakfast, potato-noodle-bean soup (leftovers edition) for lunch, and I moderated disputes over a beanie baby cat toy. I checked in periodically on the Healing Salons but have yet to add my two cents.

When Dhurata arrived around lunchtime, I went out to do the shopping but then also bought myself a sandwich and Vogue and sat at a cafe to read and eat while sipping a chocolate drink that is exactly like hot chocolate pudding. It’s a sunny day but cold. As soon as the kids went down for naps I slipped back indoors to sit in the back bedroom and surf the web. I might watch part of a movie on DVD while knitting socks. Later tonight Gimli and I are going out for an early dinner. It feels… luxurious.

And that’s all the birthday party I want or need.

Blography

March 9, 2012

Ok, so it turns out I do have something to say, although it doesn’t directly address this week’s… kerfuffle?

Baby Smiling in the Back Seat asks: Why do you blog?

Because message boards didn’t do it for me. When I first began to realize that we weren’t going to conceive quickly, when I ran out of excuses for why we hadn’t already, when I started charting and temping and realized I had a short luteal phase but didn’t know if something more might be amiss, I started looking online for information and an outlet for my worry-mongering.

Infertility was – and is – hard for me to talk about in real life with those closest to me, because I am profoundly embarrassed about sex (thanks to my evangelical upbringing, even tacitly acknowledging that I have sex with my husband feels like acknowledging that I have a closet drinking problem, or that I steal packs of gum from small children). (Um – for the record, I only do one of those three things.) An anonymous blog seemed to be the perfect place to let it all hang out, as it were, to discuss details like timed intercourse with women who were all going through the same kinds of things and were not ashamed to talk about it.

But message boards were too busy, too full of noisy chatter, and in a way too anonymous. The first infertility blog I found was Thin Pink Line, then My Dear Watson. I liked the blog format for getting a sense of the person and her journey. I think of blogs as little houses. The wallpaper, the fonts, the colors and mastheads and buttons on the sidebar all tell you something about the inhabitant. Sometimes I dislike getting updates through Reader because then I don’t see the visual space that a blogger inhabits, and I miss that sense of the person[a] that you get through the actual web page. I felt through blogs like I was able to make friends.

I stumbled on Stirrup Queens through a Google search, and found a treasure trove of centralized information on all aspects of infertility and loss – something encyclopedic in the making, but not impersonal like an ALI-wiki might be – but also a personal blog that aimed to bring together people – not just information. Through Stirrup Queens I found my blogging community. I especially used the then-monthly Virtual Lushary to “meet” bloggers through the little snippets of what’s-going-on-now that people posted in the comments. I soon built up a blogroll of blogs I visited regularly to read and comment on. And a few people started to comment on mine, too.

I’ve always been the kind of person who is most satisfied with a few close friends rather than knowing tons and tons of people. I don’t mind being a face in the crowd, as long as at some point during the week I can sit down for lunch with someone I really care about, who really knows me, and we can have an interesting conversation. I don’t jump up and join events like ICLW or initiatives like PAIL simply because I’ve already got enough bloggy stuff on my plate. I honestly don’t think I could handle reading more blogs than I do, or responding to very many more comments than I get (thoughtfully and mindfully) in the time that I have. I do have a dissertation to write, after all, and I’m like way behind schedule on that already.

I blog because I enjoy it. I enjoy writing, I enjoy getting feedback on the things I write about, and I enjoy having a little teeny-tiny corner of the Internet to call my own. I also have a public family blog that is primarily for the grandparents and extended family, in lieu of writing actual letters or e-mails. It’s been an awesome way to keep in touch with a lot of relatives and family friends. But I keep this little space apart as well because I do feel like a part of the ALI community. I feel like I have something to offer those in the trenches through sympathy and supportive comments. I’m happy with two or three comments on any given post. I’m astonished if I get more than that. Of course I’m thrilled when I get linked in Mel’s Friday Blog Roundup or some other space and I see my hits go up to like 80 or so for a given post (I think that’s the highest number of hits I’ve ever gotten in a day. My all-time number is around 15,000), but I don’t really expect my readership to grow much. I’m a small-time, small-potatoes blogger and I will never do this commercially. I’m not interested in monetizing anything. You know what thrills me more than a high number of hits or comments? Getting a comment from a specific blogger I’ve been reading, following, and have come to admire either for her personal qualities or her writing style – or both. That makes my day. When YOU comment. YOU. Getting just one comment from YOU means more to me than a dozen drive-by, one-time-only comments from people I don’t feel like I know.

Anyway, shortly after I became pregnant for the first time a family member found my blog, and I immediately went password-protected (after apologizing and explaining to my aunt why I was doing so). And I lost a ton of readers. It was hard to tell how much of that was from the BFP and how much from going PWP. Soon after that I moved to WordPress, deleted the original blog, and without much fanfare, Project Progeny became a Parenting After IF blog.

I wasn’t actually surprised to lose readers. I understood. Before my BFP, I remember being resentful of a fellow IFer who got pregnant. I was happy for her, but I was also bitter and jealous. What I remember is that my feelings were so mixed and jumbled, as they would have been for a RL friend in the same situation. When she lost that pregnancy I felt sooooo guilty for the currents of jealousy and resentment I had felt. I didn’t stop reading or commenting, but at that stage in my journey I wasn’t likely to START reading or following a blog if the blogger was already a parent (Stirrup Queens was an exception because of the afore-mentioned encyclopedic and community-oriented nature of her blog).

But eventually, all but two or three of the women on my blogroll got pregnant and went on to have living babies. And I did too. So now my community is nearly all parenting after infertility and loss.

A couple years ago I volunteered to be a Clicker for the LFCA, and was assigned the Secondary IF category. That’s been an interesting journey in itself as I can’t pick and choose whom to follow based on personal affinity. I admit that there was one blog that I had a hard time reading because the religious point of view raised issues for me from my upbringing. But I’ve enjoyed getting to “know” a whole slew of bloggers through this category that I wouldn’t have otherwise. And being in the Parenting After IF category makes it easier for me to click for this category than someone would who’s still in the trenches, since by definition all these bloggers have living children, and it doesn’t hurt me to read about or see pictures of their kids.

[Aside: There used to be a time when a lot of ALI bloggers would routinely write “Children Mentioned” at the top of a post where children were mentioned. Why don’t we do this anymore?]

Do I edit or censor myself? I try not to, actually. I’ve blogged about conflicts with my husband (one of my most popular posts ever, actually), and I’ve blogged about negative feelings I’ve had about motherhood and parenting. I know it’s a bit taboo when parenting post-IF to say anything negative about your children or about the experience of parenting, but I think in order to keep an authentic voice and to process what I need to process online, I will go ahead and violate that taboo.

Yes, I treasure my children dearly; they are precious human beings and I am stunned with gratitude (and scared shitless that I’m totally screwing it up) for the opportunity to parent them. This whole journey has been immeasurably enriched for me through the experience of blogging. I don’t keep a paper journal anymore. I tried, but it’s not the same as having the opportunity for nearly-instant feedback, for knowing that my words might be seen by eyes scattered across the globe. Even one reader to whom I feel close makes the whole experience worthwhile. For one reader – for you – I will continue blogging.

This is my 500th post *edited 4 July 2012

March 9, 2012

So, wow. That was… something. Tectonic. Seismic. I don’t think we’re quite done yet with the aftershocks of the recent ALI-blogland explosion, either. I’m not sure whether or not I have anything to say on the subject; we’ll see.

So meanwhile, deep breathing, and some pretty pictures.

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(These photos were taken in a variety of places – Ithaca and upstate NY, Shenandoah Valley, Albania, Macedonia. They all give me a sense of peace.)

* Originally the slideshow included photos that were taken by friends or family members, but I had used them without permission. So I took those out. Also, give that I’ve deleted a couple older posts this is no longer the 500th post. But it was at the time that I posted it.