Saturday, April 30, 2011
Friday, April 29, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
My prayer of thanksgiving is not one directed to a deity, but rather it is my way of perceiving life—even when life hurts, wounds, disappoints, frustrates, or angers me. Such a prayer is more of an attempt to cultivate an ongoing attitude of gratitude than it is words addressed to a Supreme Being. Such thankfulness is a way of seeing ourselves in a universe that gives us life, and in which we find love and care and inspiration. It is cultivating this kind of awareness—which, being human, is an awareness I fall in and out of—that constitutes my cosmic thank you.
No matter who or what you pray to, prayer works. If you’re looking for a modern miracle, I say, “Pray.” I don’t have a theological explanation for it, but prayer seems to work by itself. We gather our agitated worries into the palms of our hands, a single point of contemplation, and by our utterance, we release them. We are immediately calmed and comforted by our own action, regardless of any eventual outcomes. For me, prayer is a continuous loop of supplication, surrender and consolation.
2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
Our poetry reading continues nightly with a singular focus: Jack Prelutsky, creator of Awful Ogre, and the first Children's Poet Laureate. Mama picked up several of his collections at the library, including It's Raining Pigs and Noodles, The Dragons are Singing Tonight, Read a Rhyme Write a Rhyme, and A Nonny Mouse Writes Again. And both kids remembered that their teachers had read one of the poems, "A Creature in the Classroom." Apropos of going back to school after break, no?
"Creature in the Classroom"
by Jack Prelutsky
It appeared inside our classroom
at a quarter after ten,
it gobbled up the blackboard,
three erasers and a pen.
It gobbled teacher's apple
and it bopped her with the core.
"How dare you!" she responded.
"You must leave us....there's the door."
The Creature didn't listen
but described an arabesque
as it gobbled all her pencils,
seven notebooks and her desk.
Teacher stated calmly,
"Sir! you simply cannot stay,
I'll report you to the principal
unless you go away!"
But the thing continued eating,
it ate paper, swallowed ink,
as it gobbled up our homework
I believe I saw it wink.
Teacher finally lost her temper,
"OUT!" she shouted at the creature.
The creature hopped beside her
and GLOPP....it gobbled the teacher.
Bud started it last week, "If Nanny comes, Gommie is leaving, isn't she?"
And he's cried pretty much daily since then, "Can't she leave on Tuesday instead? Or in May? Or just stay here?"
Last night, Gommie and I took turns, ill-timed for poetry reading. Gommie would choke up on a line and pass the book to me and then I would choke up and pass it back. Mama finally had to finish the poem.
And then this morning, Sis sat on the floor of Gommie's room and cried while she got dressed.
But the actual separation, when the kids headed off to school, was relatively painless. With no tears . . . .
Sunday, April 24, 2011
We had a special visitor sometime Friday night, who left wet footprints downstairs. The visitor even left two gifts--a "Tootsie" marmalade tabby cat for Bud and a "Knuffle bunny" a la Mo Willems's books for Sis.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Sis is sick again. Doctor says probably ate too much (bread) too fast (48 hours later). Poor kid.
At least it happened after dyeing Easter eggs, which we all enjoyed. I was even there! I lay on the couch and they crafted on the (well-protected floor and) sofa table, making beautiful multicolored, marbelized pastel eggs.
Come on, Easter.
So far, so good: we head into the holiday weekend on the mend physically (though our spirits lag some so we look to Easter--rebirth, rejuvenation, new--to lift us up). Best yet, I've had two visitors today, which really lifts my spirits.
Weekend plans include decorating the house, dyeing eggs, playing outside today before Saturday's rain, maybe a small outing tomorrow, a new Lego set, and then all the Easter celebrations on Sunday. The bunny will fill baskets and hide eggs at home. Then there's an egg hunt at church. Because of sensitive tummies and exhausted adults, we're not having a big meal, just brunch with eggs, some baked good, whatever. I'm going to try to get downstairs to witness 8 minutes of egg hunting, maybe do my day's bedrest on the couch.
Sending love, hope, and rejuvenation to you and yours!
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Bud is now a "gleek."
We don't watch the whole show, of course, just the more child-friendly songs. He likes "Singing in the Rain/Umbrella," Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," "Jump," and "Rollin'," in the wheelchairs. And all the Warblers' songs. (It's not too surprising...he still likes to watch the "Jai Ho" musical number from the Oscars two years ago!) But I haven't screened the Brittney or Madonna episodes. Thank goodness for dvr, streaming Netflix, and the just-released-today musical numbers compilation.
Especially because Sis, who had napped most of the afternoon, woke up sick again. So I'm distracting Bud, who is still recovering, while Mama and Gommie help Sis.
Monday, April 18, 2011
- by William Wordsworth
I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
- That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
- A host, of golden daffodils;
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
- And twinkle on the Milky Way,
- Along the margin of a bay:
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
- Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
- In such a jocund company:
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
- In vacant or in pensive mood,
- Which is the bliss of solitude;
And dances with the daffodils.
Now Bud has fever...which probably means a trip to the doctor today, among other things like Mama's orthopedist appointment for her painful elbow tendonitis, figuring out my next move (MRI yes or no, here or in town, epidural or not), and talking to a potential nanny.
Happy spring break.....
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Except that the day is gorgeous...
... but Bud has a stomach virus and is sick in bed, with me, as we wait to see who else will catch it. (Though, we're pretty sure I had it on Friday.)
And everyone's mood has been funereal because today our beloved minister was deinstalled from church.
At least Gommie and Sis are outside planting flowers--hyacinths, daffodils, tulips--to bring some fresh, clear spring beauty.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Having finished Jack Prelutsky's two collection of Awful Ogre poems, we've moved on to the Children's Poet Laureate's 20th-Century Children's Poetry Treasury, which is a jewel of a book. Beautiful and whimsical illustrations, poems grouped in themes on double-page spreads, a variety of authors and verse, we love flipping through this book to read a few poems every night. We've done noises, playing, springtime, and, for today, rain, including:
After a pretty mediocre yesterday--stomach upset causing increased back pain, sadness over my cancelled first tour and our spring break trip, poor parenting moments--I slept today almost all away and feel so much better.
- Gommie went to the city, toured MoMA, and went to see Wicked;
- Ma and Gong came up for the day and went to kung fu and lunch with the kids;
- Mama Teacher came over for a visit in the morning and had her first crochet lesson;
- Mama Hungry held everything together as usual.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
- Get on your back with your feet up on something--the floor with your feet on a chair, the couch with your feet over the arm, the bed with pillows. Best to get to somewhere you can stay for awhile, even it means crawling on all fours in agony. Second best position: almost fetal, if you can roll over.
- Breathe, slowly. In and out. Don't try to think much. Just breathe.
- Ice it. 15 minutes at a time, at least once an hour. For the first 24 hours.
- Ibuprofen. At least 3. Gel caps are apparently fastest but take whatever you have. I couldn't say how often, but 2-3 times a day (like every 6-8 hours).
- Call your GP.
- Wait. This is the hard part. Distract yourself with tv, the computer, the phone. Don't really think about moving at all for hours; try not to do anything the first 24. Yes, that means using the bathroom is a pain, especially for women (I've never wanted a penis so badly). Think adult diapers. Because you won't be able to walk. Also, wear clothing that is least restrictive--you don't need to fight fabric--I prefer just a big t-shirt.
- It is tempting to want to go to the ER because it hurts so much and you can't move. If you have numbness or tingling in your legs or can't control your bodily functions, call 911. Otherwise, try to stay home. The ER tends to give you morphine and send you home, after an agonizingly long wait. The morphine is good for awhile but doesn't a) treat the problem or b). last long enough. And it's pretty miserable to wait at the ER.
- After the first 24 hours, think of applying heat via 8-hour thermal heat pad or the like.
- Try to get up a few minutes every several hours. Have someone spot you. It's going to hurt and be scary. Stop if it is too much.
- If you can get one, wear some kind of lumbar brace for those short walking forays. Medical supply stores sell them. Medical supply stores are your new best friend.
- Contact a specialist. You have two options: an orthopedist is likely to operate; a physiatrist is a pain specialist who does not operate. Apparently, only 10% of back injuries require surgery, but non-surgical recovery is slow (6 months to a year, though not all in bed) and not everyone has that luxury. My physiatrist usually prescribes Valium, Voltaren, fish oil, and lidocaine-steroid trigger shots at the injury spot as soon as I can get in the office. He also ordered a much stiffer lumbar brace.
- To get to the doctor, lie down on your side in the backseat of the car, with a pillow between your legs. Best to wear that lumbar brace because it's gonna be bouncy. And take the ibuprofen.
- Line up your support network. Do you have family nearby? Friends who can help? Church or other organization to assist? What do you need most--childcare? meals? rides? errands? Most people will kindly offer "anything you need." Be prepared to have specific requests so they know how they can help. Sometimes, just having people stop by is as important as anything else to my own recovery. There are also websites to coordinate meals or a variety of caregiving (see NYTimes article).
- Magnesium citrate is a gentler way to jump start or keep your system regular.
- Making "life in a bed" easier: a bolster or wedge for your legs because pillows can be wobbly and unsupportive (from medical supply stores or online); I keep a box on my bed with remote controls, books/magazines, my phone, snacks, a bottle of water, my laptop, and paper and pen so I can find everything easily; baby wipes are good for all manner of things from cleaning up after snack to feeling fresh between showers; now I have a medical rail on the bed to help me pull myself up or to help me roll over; there is also an "oh shit" bar in the shower and next to the toilets for the same reason.
- Follow your specialist's orders re: medicine, heat/cold, rest, and exercise/therapy.
- The psychological battle is now the harder part, as you fear reinjuring your back, self-censor your activities unnecessarily because of the fear, mourn your loss of mobility/independence/strength, become isolated with the cancellation of your usual activities, play "what if?" or "how?". I recommend Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (I use the CD and have a book/workbook, would love to take the course sometime) and meditation, both of which acknowledge the present and the pain but provide a way to come to terms with it.
- An up-side is that you quit taking little things like walking, showering, the restroom, etc for granted, at least for awhile. And of course, you appreciate the bigger ones, like family and friends, medical care and insurance. It's definitely a count-your-blessings kind of experience.
- Pay attention to your body's clues and rest if the area becomes too inflamed or tight. Contact your doctor.
- For safety's sake, I always have a phone on me, even when my back is fine. But I want to know that if it goes out, I can reach help immediately.
- And strangest of all, it gets easier each time, I think.
- Sally Gunning's Satucket books, such as Widow's War, Bound, and The Rebellion of Jane Clarke, related but not exactly sequels, set in colonial Cape Cod. It's like a historic house docent tour come to life, which is particularly appealing to me as I sit out my first several tours.
- other colonial history, including Carol Berkin's Revolutionary Mothers, and the opening chapters of No Idle Hands, a history of American knitting
- I've blown through all the back issues of several food magazines (Saveur, Food Network, Vegetarian Times), Martha Stewart Living, Shambhala Sun, Smithsonian, random things (Early American Life, Time Magazine on pain from Gommie, Family Tree on civil war relatives, Civil War Times on Southern women's bread riots) and . . .
- Archaelogy, which I put under a separate heading because I've read so many of them and would be glad to discuss: "bog bodies" of northern Europe; the geography of the ancient sites of Ireland as relate to the agricultural holidays of Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasa, and Samhain; "Timberhenge" near Stonehenge; a Uighur site on an island in Siberia; Afghanistan's Buddhist remains along the Silk Road; Ottoman palaces in Albania; the rich burial of Chinese Lady Dai; the 18th-century ship found near the World Trade Center site; the ritual uses of the Nasca lines; the reconstruction of a colonial coffeehouse at Williamsburg; a battle between Hamilcar and the Greeks on Sicily; using archaeological techniques to trace current illegal immigration habits through the Sonoran Desert; an addendum to NAGPRA, about Native American remains and grave goods; Warner Herzog on cave art; traditions of Aboriginal rock art, including "x-ray" style that is distinctive and Europeans shown with hands on hips; fleet wrecked by hurricane near Florida that would've altered Spanish colonial expansion; ancient Korean love letter found on mummy; Salado pottery as expression of "poor woman's cult" in American Southwest; excavating a Bonaparte "palace" in New Jersey; excavating the effects of Order 11 and the burning of parts of Missouri by Union soldiers; the renewal of elaborate architectural stepwells of Gujarat that are almost a thousand years old; and, finally, a joint Israeli-Arab community excavation of an Ottoman khan, or inn, by local schoolchildren.
- "Why 'Do You Believe in God?' is the Wrong Question to Ask"
- "Do You Need to Believe in God to Pray?"
- "Are You Part of the Mindfulness Revolution?"
- "Ten Timeless Tips for Teaching Kids about Money"
- "Reconsidering the Nature of Life with Autism"
- "Talking about Death: We All Want to, But We Don't Know How"
- "What Barbie Would Look Like If She Were a Real Person"
- "10 Teachings on Judaism and the Environment"
- Good Enough Really Is Good Enough: 7 Steps To Overcome Perfectionism
- Better than Advil? or, cherries for inflamation
- World's Largest Lego Tower
- "10 Most Challenged Books of 2010", including Tango Makes Three
- "Royal Wedding, Lego-Style"
- Using Your Hands to Lift Your Heart
- "Can a Tree Consciously Experience the World? Maybe"
- "Learning to Embrace Autism"
- "Prince William's Royal Wedding Groom's Cake"
- "Catholics More Supportive of Gay Rights than General Public"
- "Novel Ways to Think on Grief"
- "Making End of Life Care a Family Decision"
- "Teaching the Difference Between Good and Getting Better"
- "A Couple's Knot, Tied Tighter By Dual Diagnoses", a touching post about two young parents facing dual late-stage cancer
- "Is Sugar Toxic?"
- "Economist's Argument for More Children"
- "Teaching Children to do Good"
- "The Hypocrisy of Parenting", on eating habits
- "Overcoming a Parenting 'Sabbatical'", another article about SAHMs entering the workforce
- "Tips on Having Twins"
- "Are You Your Child's ATM?"
- "Panda Dads and Parenting Goals"
- "Custody of Your Child if You Die"
- "The Child Becomes the Parent"
- "Giving Doctors Orders" by Maureen Dowd
- "Time to Make the Matzoh"
- "Frankly, My Dear, 'The Windies' Do Live For This", on Gone with the Wind fans
- China's New Museum
- NYTimes Autism Special
- "A Fighting Spirit Won't Save Your Life"
- Afternoon Tea in New York
- "The Jedi Path", a book Mama got me for Christmas
- "Does the Mediterranean Diet Even Exist?"
- "Dust is Gone Above the Bar, but the Legacy Lingers", relics from wars gone by
- "For New Mass, Closer to Latin"
- About memory competitions
- "How to Beat the Salad Bar"
- NYU Food Library
- "Reading at Some Private Schools is Delayed"
- Royal Wedding Viewing in NYC
- Turmoil of Teacher Layoffs
- 9/11 Memorial Misuses Virgil Quote
- "The Best Part of Parenting" by Anna Quindlen
- "When Class meant Brie and Pears"
- "An Agnostic Looking for Love in the Bible Belt"
- "Class-System Melodrama as Comfort Food"
- "How Do You Parent the Texting Generation?"
- "Modern Poetry Made Less Terrifying"
- "What He Gave Me Before He Died", from a hospice volunteer
- "How We Talk About Disability" by Emily Rapp, whose other posts are wonderful too (like "When It's Wrong to Fight for Your Son's Life")
- "How I Became A Hillbilly," by Felisa Rogers, on scavenging in this economy
- "My Life as a Gay Grandma"
- Durian: The Stinky Fruit
- "My Month of No Snark"
- Historian tweets about Civil War
- "I Shouldn't Have Left the Finances to My Husband"
- "How 'Dungeons and Dragons' Saved My Life"
- "Middle Earth According to Mordor"
- "Will My Autistic Son and I Look Like That?"
- "I Blog so My Kids Will Know Me When I'm Gone"
- Mormon Mommy Blog Obsession
- Chickpea Vegetable Soup
- DIY Cooking Handbook
- Tender Beans, Without Soaking
- How to Cook White Fillets
- Secrets of the Bean Pot
- Slow Baked Beans with Kale
- Making Empanadas from Scratch
- Orange Blossom Egyptian Limeade
- How to Make Your Own Yogurt
- Guilt-Free Desserts
- Vegetable Frittatas
- Going Vegan for Lent
- Popcorn with Mark Bittman
- 7 Ways to Make Lentil Soup
- The Soup Matrix and More Soup Matrix with Bittman
- "The Zen of Beans"
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
My slumberless night is over. Not because I'm going to sleep--I imagine I'll nap later--but because night is over. The wind and rain have stopped with the brightening of rosy-fingeredu dawn (though, it's more gray than pink). The birds are even singing a cheerful tune. Gommie just got up to fetch a cuppa; the munchkins will be up in 30 minutes.
Even sleepless, it wasn't a bad night... no stress, fear, or pain. And I wasn't up sick myself (hang in there, Mama Teacher), with a sick child or young baby, working the night shift, or anything else trying or tiring. In fact, I got a lot done....meditating, reading, emailing, blogging, thinking. And unlike anyone else, I am lucky to pretty much have nothing to do (or that I can do on bed rest) all day.
Not a bad night's work....
Dramatic spring thunderstorm has me awake. But thankfully no one else, not even the oblivious cat beside me.
Some blog posts I hope to get to soon:
*Privilege, based on a recent sermon at church;
*Meditating in the backseat of the car;
*The Royal Wedding;
*Life in a bed, or what I'm reading;
*Suggestions for coping with back pain;
*Considering some kind of a cleanse, vegan/whole-food/something.
And now, at almost 4am, these incredible howling winds have kicked up.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
- Mothering Magazine: from articles about circumcision, faerie houses, children's reading groups, the dangers of plastics, yoga for kids, the importance of the Green Hour, recess, homeschooling, etc, etc, etc., I learned about ideas that weren't in your traditional parenting magazines, even when I didn't always embrace for myself attachment parenting, home births, the family bed, long-term (into toddlerhood) breast feeding, etc. But the magazine gave me the resources and space to explore new options.
- Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood/Cheerio Road/Hand Wash Cold/Karen Maezen Miller: I first heard of Karen Maezen Miller's first book, Momma Zen, in the Chinaberry catalog and was intrigued. And so I got the book for Christmas and was entranced and inspired by this Buddhist priest's approach to parenting and life. I read her blog, correspond with her on occasion, and loved her second book, Hand Wash Cold. She introduced me to Buddhism and meditation, to compassion and mindfulness and simplicity (to use trendy catchphrases that she generally eschews). While not my teacher in her lineage's sense of the word, she has taught me so much. And I am a better mom and person for her.
- Non-violent, or compassionate, communication: I'm not sure there is one NVC text that has influenced my life so much as the theory of it in general. Compassion. Feelings. Needs. Quality of connection. The beauty is in the practice, not in the texts explaining it. So, if you want a place to start, a workshop is great, but any number of texts (Non-violent Communication: A Language of Life; Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids), including the website, would help.
- Jim Trelease's Read Aloud Handbook: This one is different from the others in the sense that it doesn't really espouse a life philosophy but is a very honed treatise on a specific practice: the importance of reading to children. I'm reading it with my school reading group, led by the principal, though I've had it for years. It has revitalized my own love of reading while also expanding our family's reading habits--from reading chapter books like the Water Horse (based on the understanding that children's listening levels are a few grades higher than their reading levels) to letting the children have their own lamps for free-reading time after bedtime. And even if it isn't directly related to poetry month, I know that our current exploration of poetry was implicitly encouraged by this book.
- NurtureShock: This meta-analysis of contemporary psychological, sociological, educational, and other studies reconfigured many of my assumptions about child development and parenting, from why children lie, the specific affects and importance of sleep, race issues and kids, sibling relationships, the role of praise, intelligence and schooling, etc etc etc. Anyone who has talked to me about parenting recently has heard me quote this book. And it's changed the way I do things: I talk about race, specifically, naming races, discussing its importance, avoiding cliches about color-blindness and skin tone not mattering because it matters just not in the way I thought (because, of course, I'm a white person who hadn't given race much thought beyond "we're all the same beneath our skin."); my use of praise has changed--no more blanket congrats or encouragement, but specific comments on skills and effort; I don't ask my kids to lie to me by encouraging them to please me with evasions to questions like "who put that there?"; nothing, nothing, nothing is more important than sleep (even food!) because I now know the incredible deleterious effects on kids who miss even an hour of sleep on weekends and drop 2 grades in performance or the equivalent of 10 IQ points when they aren't rested--and they can't make it up the way adults do; the key to sibling relationships and the role parents don't really play (what was amazing about this section was the study that showed that kids only really came to parents 1/10 times to have help negotiate a disagreement, though it feels like more; I am now a lot more understanding of their calls for mediation and appreciative of how often they work it out on their own. Even if it doesn't feel like it.). There's more--on school IQ testing, teenage rebellion--that I'm only beginning to think about, especially because I'm still mulling over the rest of it.
- Lisa Belkin's Motherlode blog on the New York Times: While the comments range from supportive to divisive to contentious (and never fail to get me riled up), the posts address a wonderful array of current issues, trends, and news items in parenting, all with Belkin's generous, informed, even-keeled analysis.
- Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), Mark Bittman (Food Matters, his blog, his Minimalist columns), and Michael Pollan (Food Rules, Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food), writing about food issues today. I spend much of my time thinking about food, both micro- and macrocosm: what's for dinner? are they getting enough calcium/iron/protein? what constitutes a healthy snack? are conventional grapes better than organic cheddar bunny snack mix? how can we wean Sis off chicken fingers? should I have raised the kids as vegetarians? must they take a "no, thank you"-bite? And these thoughtful writers give me the resources and paradigms for making decisions, and the support and inspiration to keep doing my best.