Sunday, February 27, 2011

{This Moment}

Taken from Souelmama: {This Moment}: A Friday ritual. A single photo: no words, capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause savor and remember.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


One more as I catch up.

Calling out the Universe

I like to bargain with the universe. I think this comes from a deep inability to make decisions coupled with a profound distrust of myself. During my pregnancy with R, I struggled with the ambivalence I felt towards going for my Ph.D. I didn't want to go but felt like I should because I had sunk so much into my Master's. I also knew that it wasn't wise to make any claims when with child, and right after finishing a rather exhausting year of thesis work.

But even after I had R, I was feeling pretty indifferent towards the whole Ph.D. Of course the indifference also lead to some mega anxiety. I was after all nearing 40 and didn't really know how to do much else. I felt pulled towards midwifery. And of course there was anxiety there because midwifery was far, far removed from the academic stuff in which I was engaged. H and I talked through it many times. Well, I talked to H and he listened sympathetically. I made a decision to not apply and when that left me with 2 am panic attacks, I decided to leave it up to the universe aka "I'll apply and if I get in that means I'm supposed to go."

This is a tactic I have relayed on for most of my life. It may explain why I have four (very wanted of course) children. Yes it is in some ways a method of relieving myself of responsibility for making decisions BUT it is also an act of surrendering. We live in a time where we are pushed into ultra responsibility. We are taught to micromanage our own lives from a young age. Every choice we make, we're told, will have ramifications on our future. It's a rather stressful imagining of our future selves. This view of life also doesn't take into account the fact that in reality we often have very little control of our lives, and that some of us have even less control than others. Agency is well and good when you have power.

I sent my applications in and felt that I had done my best (except for the GREs). And I told myself that I was going to be okay with whatever decision came back. But deep down inside I wanted to get into a program. There were a few reasons for this. One, it's what I knew how to do and I seemed to be good at it. Two,  not getting in would feel like a failure and since I'm insecure as hell, failure equals bad. Three, after sitting in on a class, I realized how much I really enjoy working this area. Of course this was also balanced with feelings of wanting to be "just a mom" for a bit, and of being tired of the whole academic world. But really I was leaning towards wanting to be accepted. I just didn't voice it because part of the game I play with the universe involves being "objective."

And then H got into UGA. I was thrilled because I knew he needed to get him in somewhere but it was a bittersweet moment. It was the moment I knew that I had not been accepted anywhere. Still because nothing was official, I was able to sort of shelter myself from having to really deal with the universe's answer.

Yesterday my first official rejection came via form letter email. I spent the day sobbing, laying around feeling like a failure, and then finally buying Trader Joe's out of chocolate. Everyone keeps me telling me I am not a failure and that it is not personal. And of course it's not personal. They don't know me. BUT it is a fail. There's no way around it. The university that rejected me was a good fit but I wasn't good enough to fit. There's no way around that answer. It doesn't make me a failure no. I get that part of it but it does say something about my work and what they thought of my work. That's hard. And of course this rejection feeds into my own insecurity. The insecurity that ate away at me throughout the years I worked on my MA. That insecurity that manifests itself in a little voice that tells you that you're a poseur. That everyone else is smarter than you. That you're not really as good as you think you are. I kept thinking yesterday that people like me don't get Ph.Ds.

This morning I have a bit more clarity. But there is still a part of me that is glancing up ruefully at the universe.


The one good thing about a life with no formal academic training ahead is that I can read what ever the hell I want to read. Right now I'm fully immersed in Dorothy Day's letters and dairies. Next up is her autobiography plus a bunch of stuff by Thomas Merton.

I thought it might be fun to throw open my potential reading list to the world. So dear readers what would you have me read and report back on? I'll take all suggestions.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Year of Pleasures 7

Cousins. Watching my kids play with my cousin's kids made me realize just how much the wonderfulness of my childhood revolved around my cousins. They were in house playmates, siblings that never got old or pesky.

When I was six, spilled fish chowder left me with third degree burns. My  mother rushed me to the hospital and I spent nearly three weeks in utter pain. None of the process was good. Burn pain is insidious and just when you think it's gone away, it surprises you. One day, I thought I was feeling better so my aunt brought my favorite cousin, Velvet, to come play with me. She had picked up a set of paper dolls for each of us. I was so excited to see another child especially one who was my best friend. All morning all I could think about was how great it was going to be to finally see Velvet.

And when she arrived, the pain came back. I was so disappointed and for about an hour I was able to jolly through it but at some point the pain was too much. I had to admit defeat and I still remember thinking that the look of disappointment on her face was mirrored in my mind. I still feel bad that we were not able to play together that day.

On Saturday, we sat together, drank coffee, talked about our kids, and remembered the Devil's Pit. And we watched our kids play together. Cousins.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So Far Behind...

I am still committed to my post a day. I think I set myself up though. I feel as if it's not going to be a brilliant, thoughtful post, I shouldn't write. I need to get past this and just write. Today will be a quick chatty post. My mother's husband is in the hospital, and I'm waiting to see if I need to get over there. If he needs surgery, it could be life threatening and my mom wants me there with her during the surgery. I also need to make baked potato soup to bring to her place for dinner.

We are not up to much and yet always busy around here. It's funny how our day to day life is chock full of things to do. On Saturday we visited my cousin and Fayeteville as her mom was down from Maine. We had a great time as did the beasties. They were bitterly disappointed that we weren't spending the night. As always we left thinking that we really should visit my cousin more often.

I am still always a step behind in my classes. I am looking forward to a real semester off with no work but I suspect I will miss teaching. I do love that part of it...just hate the correcting and prep work. The drudgery of teaching is this not the time spent engaged with people.

At this point, we are just preparing for UGA which is a relief in most ways. It's nice to be able to know we're going and to look at the area. We plan on doing a small weekend trip soon, and then a longer stay during H's April break. Hopefully we can meet up with a local homeschooling group (my wonderful friend Sarah lives nearby!). And maybe even pre-lease a house for August!

As for me, I feel very uncertain. There is a part of me that feels like the universe/god/someone has answered my query and that I need to just apply for the midwifery program. And then there is a part of me that is still in mourning over the Ph.D. But I am applying for the midwifery school that I wanted the most, and we will try to figure out payment stuff if I am accepted.

Despite a some opposition and confusion from those around me, I am still planning on converting to Catholicism. I am writing a lot on that and will be slowly posting those writings over the next few months. I can not do the classes until September but in the meanwhile I am reading and praying. I have not changed my stance on social issues despite what many think, and I would label myself as a progressive Catholic. But I have made a willful act to believe. Right now I am thoroughly immersed in the writings of Dorothy Day and find myself ever more sure that I am making the right decision. Day is an inspiration not just to action but in living a fully spiritual life that is grounded in compassion for fellow humans. I am moved by her struggle to incorporate this love.

That's my newsy chat update. I have much to before this afternoon fully hits. Cooking, some more cleaning.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

And yet again...

From the beastie blog...another catch up post.


Discovery Place, a local science museum here in Charlotte, just opened a special exhibit on Race. I was pretty excited to bring the kids but ended up being a bit disappointed. The exhibit was aimed at an older age group, high school, and the few things that were geared towards younger children just didn't work. There were some women sitting around with puppets and books but they didn't engage with my children at all. In fact, they pretty much ignored us. Not that puppets were going to be a big hit.

I had hope when I saw a display set up which appeared to be a segregated store front but it wasn't interactive. It was just a decoration. There wasn't much at all to actually engage my children in thinking about race. I read some of the things to the beasties but so much of it was just over their heads and they were bored.

After an attempt, I let them run about the rest of the museum to do the familiar well loved activities (touching sea animals, learning about pulleys, etc). But I was thinking about race while I watched them. H and I don't make a big deal about race. We made a conscious decision not to focus on this aspect of our lives. We believe firmly that Race is a cultural category and that our children are members of the human race. Period. But we also have talked about discrimination. We've told them about slavery. We've talked about injustice and inequality but in connection to things like gender and class as well as to people's perceived notions about race. We just didn't want them to think about themselves as humans caught between two racial worlds.

In our home, skin color is just a matter of fact difference. We don't deny that we are all different colors, we just don't make a big deal of it. Sometimes we joke about it. We never define ourselves by it.

Of course we also don't make a big deal about nationalities. The kids know that H is from Mexico, and that I am from the United States. We have learned the histories of both countries, and we study culture in both countries. BUT we don't teach them any kind of ideas about belonging or frankly even ideas of patriotism. I am not fond of nationalism and I have no intention of creating children who are nationalistic.

And I started to wonder how do you teach kids this about race? Is it a disservice to them? Am I neglecting something by not focusing on race? Do I deprive them of an identity when I don't focus on them being Hispanic or on them being half-Mexican? Are they going to get older and feel forced to choose and then resentful that I didn't give them enough information to make a choice? How do you teach kids about race? And what should you teach?

My biggest worry is that I don't want my children to go into the world navie. I try to make it clear to them that people will judge them based on their skin color. They know this already as it has happened to them. But I don't want race to be the only or even the biggest definer of who they are. However I can't help but wonder if this "white" me talking.


Piper, topless, pushes out her round belly, and turns to me.

"Is my belly fat?"

This is one of those questions in which coming up with an answer is like walking a minefield. Every answer that comes to mind spirals into a frantic volley of why this is not the right answer.

If I tell her no, am I suggesting that fat is a bad thing? I don't think Piper is fat. I think she is deliciously rounded but she is not fat. But I also don't want her to grow up thinking that fat equals bad. I don't want her to spend hours thinking she is ugly because she is fat.

But if I say yes, I know it will hurt her. I am not such a great mom and I know that my own self consciousness about my fat has effected my lovely girl. If I say "yes and you should love it," she will know this is not the truth. She knows this is not how I see myself.

And then I ponder, what if she was fat? Would I see her as any less beautiful? It is impossible to answer this question because Piper is not fat. Or perhaps it is impossible because it is painful to think what my answer might be. I do not always find fat beautiful. I certainly do not look at my fat and see it as lovely. Would love change how I saw my children if they were fat? It is a painful thing to ponder and I turn from that line of thinking. I do not like to examine those shallow dark corners of my mind.

I turn back to that proud, rounded belly, pushed out with a hand on a hip, a sassy girl pose. And I answer
You ARE beautiful. Your belly is beautiful.

Piper likes this answer. She tosses her hair and laughs
I know.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Check out my other blog...chipping away at what I owe....


Yesterday, we were walking downtown from the science museum to the pizza place where we were going to have lunch before hitting the children's library. It was a great day, and the kids were happy and chatting. Some days I feel like we don't just talk much. I don't let it get to me because I strongly believe that children need and deserve a private life away from parents and other adults. But on these days when we chat, tell jokes and laugh together, I relish it. What really rocks is when a conversation turns serious and we all get a moment of clarity.

Camille: "Mama why do people have war?"
Me (after a long shocked pause): "Well sometimes people fight over land."
Camille: "That's dumb. The land is big and there's room for us all."
Me: "Yes there are people who think like you do but there are others who think we shouldn't have to share land."
Camille: "Well sharing is good!"
Me: "I agree. Sometimes it's about who we have to share with. Some people don't want to share with others. You know they don't want to share with people who are different colors or who talk and look differently."
Camille: "That's fucking stupid!"
(We're having a slight issue with bad language with Camille but this times she's right. It is fucking stupid.")

Me, in a sudden, rare, inspirational moment: "Why do you fight with Piper?"
Camille: "Okay, okay, it's stupid."
Me: "Maybe but why do you?"
Camille: "We don't want to share. Or we're being mean to each other."

It was a moment where I know that Camille got it. I am not naive enough to think it will stop the fighting but it did make her think. We've had some pretty intense fights here between the girls. Camille often doesn't hold back and Piper gets scratched or punched. Frequently it's because Piper is just being social when Camille wants to be alone. But here was a moment where I was able to get Camille to see her actions in a new way. It wasn't a lecture, just a gentle nudge in a new direction.

{This Moment}

Taken from Souelmama: {This Moment}: A Friday ritual. A single photo: no words, capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause savor and remember.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Year Of Pleasures 6

Dogs. Or rather dogs for Camille. I am not a dog person. Hell, as I get older, I'm just not an animal person. I mean I don't hate them or anything I'm just not sure I want them for pets. After all I already have for beasties. But because we have beasties, and beasties who love animals, we are going to have pets. We've held the line with Strike, evil cat of the world, but I promised Camille a dog when we moved. I've had more than one opportunity to regret that promise. 

With Camille, it's hard to tell when she likes the idea better than the reality. Kind of like how she makes a lot of talk about wanting girl friends but then utterly ignores (most) girls when we actually meet up with some. I was sort of hoping she felt that way about dogs. After all, we all know that I will be the one who takes care of the dog. The kids do okay with the cat but H and I do most of the work. And I know this will be the case with the dog. I don't want to take care of a dog. I already take care of children. Lots of them. But Camille is so giddy about a dog. She talks about it. Writes about it. And it is definitely making a big move a lot less stressful for her.

Still though a dog? And then we meet up with my mom and one of her wonderful Goldens at the park.

And I realized that this dog thing was pretty important to to Camille.  We're not just talking about some kind mystical bond between an Aspie kid and an animal. I meant that is sort of there. But the thing is that  Camille acts as awkward with the dogs as she does with people. Seriously. But the dog doesn't judge her. It doesn't care that she walks stiffly and uncomfortably. It doesn't care that she says inappropriate things or that sometimes she just doesn't say anything. The dog just loves her for her.

The above reason is reason enough but there's more. The dog acts as a buffer for Camille and people. As Camille was walking Lola, people would stop and admire them. They would talk to Camille about the dog. Camille loved it. She would tell them all about Lola (half of it not true). She wasn't uncomfortable. The dog gave her a confidence, an assurance that she does not always have around humans.

So yes this time around dogs are a pleasure. We'll be getting one as soon as we hit Athens.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Clothing the Body. Part 2

When I'm listless, sometimes I prowl the internet looking at clothes. I try to figure out what jumps out at me. It seems easier this way. No horrible lights. No mirrors. No commitment to buy. I just search and sometimes I see things that stand out. I file this information away wondering if my unconscious is subtly choosing my new self through the clothes of which I make note. This begs the question: Do the clothes create the person or does the person create the clothes?

I found this website a few months ago. It stood out and I bookmarked it. The clothes were pricey and I was nowhere near my weight loss goal. But it was one of those moments where I looked and though "Ahha this is it. I had a similar moment when watching The Brothers Bloom and decided that I really wanted to dress like one of the characters. I didn't really pursue too deeply why I was feeling these things. I just noted and moved on for various reasons.

Now I am looking back at this trail of clothes and shifting through to find out why. Why do these clothes appeal to me? What is it about that look that makes me think it suits who I am now? What do stories will these clothes tell me about myself?

For one, I realized they are all modest. They are not prudish or frumpy but they are modest. This is something that has recently become a concern for me. I find that I am desiring to be more modest in my dress. I think that, for me, this modesty is about respect. I no longer want to flaunt what I have (and don't have) in order to gain attention. This attention really does not make me feel better about myself. In fact, it often makes me feel worst. Modesty does not mean I wish to hide my body away or that I ashamed. Rather modesty speaks of a deep respect for my body, and that my body is something I want to honor. I do not need to display it to gain approval.

The clothes are simple and classic. They are not flashy but they are not dowdy. Instead they look like clothes that I can wear for many years. They will stay in style because they are not flash in the night kind of pieces. They are steady and dependable but also lovely.

These are quality clothes as reflected in their price tag (yikes!).  I don't need to own a lot of clothes but rather I can subsist on a few quality pieces that will last. They are not the cheap clothes I end up buying and then discarding. These are clothes that work towards sustainability .

And they are fun. The character in The Brothers Bloom wears fun quirky pieces. They are sexy in a charming fun way. They are youthful but not young.

These are working clothes. Most them could be worn while chasing beasties down. They could also be worn to work be that teaching or catching babies.

All in all I feel that this is who I am, and that these clothes will tell a story about me that I am okay with people reading.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Homeschooling the Social Child

In my five years of homeschooling, the question that I am most asked has to do with socialization. There is never any doubt that I can provide my child with the academics but a lot of doubt about the socialization. And honestly it's something I worry about as well. My worries are not on the same level as those who ask because I do not think children learn good socialization in school. In fact, I always chuckle when people assume that my kids need school to be social people. My worries have more to do with how much socialization do my kids need, balancing their various needs, and keeping myself sane. It's not an easy juggling act and it's one where I am always dropping balls and having to start over.

After a really busy week where it seemed like we had something to do every day, I had to reevaluate our social life. I know that my kids need to get out but how much is too much? And I also worried that I was pushing them too much. On one of the park days, I had to literally push Umberto and Camille towards the other kids. They were both just sitting there on the bench looking miserable and lonely. And it was a bit painful to see all the other kids running around together ignoring mine. Of course I worried that it was my own pain that ate at me but I still tried to get them involved. Of course it ended disastrously with Umberto having a seizure in the van. I wondered, and still do a bit, if the seizures aren't being brought on the stress of social anxiety. 

Was it necessary to bring the kids to park days? And then what if no one talks to them? Do I nudge them to the social? After all, I believe that we are our children's guides in all aspects of life. Part of educating our children means attending to their social needs as well. And I know that children just do not come naturally to being social. It is a skill just as math is a skill. But how do much I push my children? Do I allow them a few friends? Or do they need many friends? 

Complicating this picture is the fact that we are a large family and our children have differing social needs. Going out is often a horrendous experience. Camille usually has a break down before we leave. This break down involves sobbing for a half hour while I am trying to get us all ready. The anxiety of leaving the house is often too much for her. At some point all the worry seems to explode from her and she just loses it. This doesn't happen if we go out once a week but I am risking it if we have too much going on. If it was just Camille, I wouldn't push it beyond once a week but I have the others. Piper would go out everyday if she could. She loves being social. Loves going out. Umberto would likely choose something in the middle of these two. Basically I feel like someone is always going to be unhappy with decisions we make.

And then there is me. I need some mama time because really I am with the children all day and sometimes I just need to sit outside with some other grown ups. Plus now that we're hitting warmer times I need the Vit. D. But I also need to not deal with the stress of getting us ready. 

Basically I'm coming to see that we have to prioritize what social needs we have. I've been talking with the beasties to get their feel for what events we all really enjoy. And I've been observing to see what events seem to be the most rewarding for us all. As always I am learning that homeschooling is not something I do to the beasties or something that they do to me. It's our journey as a family and we have to balance each other's needs as well as look to each other. We find our way together.

Clothing the Body. Part 1

After my shower, which is always quick due to screaming baby, I step out in the bathroom to dry myself. Usually I do not see myself at all in this hectic routine. I am too hurried, rushing through this care of my body to go take care of other little bodies. It is not until I am brushing my teeth that I am confronted with the physical presence of my body, reflected back upon me from the smoky mirror. It appears to me a sad old body. Lumpy and saggy. I do not hate it any more. How could I hate it? It is me. It is the body that bore  forth my lovely children. But I do not love it either. I am conflicted. I sigh about the big belly that still looks pregnant ten months later. The wrinkles that ring my eyes and my mouth. My over grown hair graying at the roots. I look dumpy. I feel dumpy. When I dress this is the gray that hangs over me as I choose my clothes.

For a few years now, I have struggled with this feeling and the way it becomes reflected in what I wear. I no longer deny that clothes are integral part of how we show the world ourselves. Whether we are fashionistas or slobs, most of realize how clothes make a statement. My struggle I think lies in what story I am attempting to tell. Or more that I am not sure what story I want to tell. The problem lies of course in struggling to know who you are in order to even begin the story. Or at least having an inkling of who you wish to be.

A couple of years ago, I was feeling the panic of getting older and my clothes began to slowly reflect this panic. Tight, revealing, trendy, I strutted my weight loss. I craved the attention of anyone who would reassure me that I looked hot and not old. I thought, mistakenly, that this kind of attention would make me feel better about myself. What it did was tell a story of desperation, panic and low self-esteem. It did not honor my body nor did it honor those who really did love my body and me.

Now I am ten months post-partum. I feel dumpy, or rather I feel like I allow myself to look dumpy. I am not honoring my body as much as I was not honoring it before. But how do I dress now? What values am I going to put on my body? What story am I going to tell those who meet me? I am slowly piecing together this story, one shirt at a time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

{This Moment}

Taken from Souelmama: {This Moment}: A Friday ritual. A single photo: no words, capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause savor and remember.

Every Little Thing Is Going to Be Alright

I realized that I sounded way more nasty and bitter than I wanted to let on in my last post. I really am not as depressed as the post made it sound. Yes I am a little bitter, and of course I'm disappointed even though there are multiple reasons why not going to graduate would be good. What is hard for me is that academia is something that I love doing. I am a stronger believer in doing what you love in life. We have a long life full of work and I don't want to spend my life hating what I do.

Now I have to figure out what else I love to do. Midwifery is an option but again, there is the problem with money. I love teaching but not high school, and I'm not sure if I want to make a life out of adjunct pay. I'm extremely excited to know that for at least a semester I will not be working outside of the home, and that is a bit embarrassing for me. I know I may have to turn in my feminist badge but I really do like being home with the kids, homeschooling, etc. I am not sure if this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. It may be and I'm trying to make myself open to that possibility. I also love to write and am thinking perhaps I should try doing that a bit more seriously. So many choices! And it's both frightening and wonderful to imagine.

I also should add that I really don't feel less for not getting the PH.D. I know I am a good candidate. I work hard and I am good at what I study. I am also likely to finish which is a big deal. Their loss. As my friend Mary reminded me, I have already had great success in life with my family. I could never feel like a failure when I look at the beasties. They are the best thing I have ever had done.

Nor do I resent H. Please don't doubt that I am so proud of him and thrilled that he got into college. He is a deserving candidate and he will rock the Ph.D. I also know that he will support me no matter what direction I am lead. And I know that he will always respect my choices.

But it does hurt and I am disappointed. However, it's going to be okay. Not getting my Ph.D is not the end of existence. I am not crushed or defeated. How could I be any of these things when I have the beasties and H? My bitter post was really supposed to be about the struggle to let go of negativity, to stop wishing ill on people who don't really deserve it. I suspect I just came across as shallow, petty and depressed. And honestly my feelings were pretty shallow and petty. But I am moving on and letting go.

Year of Pleasures 5

Dinner parties.

We were invited to awesome post advisor's house to have dinner with his awesome wife and awesome daughter. Yes, a house full of awesomeness! I wanted to talk to his wife, L, about Catholicism, and H always loves hanging out with advisor to discuss music. And that's what we did for five hours. What was so amazing is that it just didn't feel like five hours. The kids had a wonderful time and didn't whine to go home. We had a great time just hanging out.

What I loved was how we moved from conversation to conversation so smoothly. Sometimes it was all of us discussing things, and then at other times it was just two of us. It was never weird or awkward. I felt a little sad when we left because we are leaving. I wanted to bottle up the feelings of well-being and community that I felt during this visit. What a great thing that would be to open when one was feeling lonely.

Lately, I've been coming to terms with my new homebody nature. I realized that I really do like just being at home. I'm kind of excited that I'll have a semester home with no work. But there are a few people here that being with doesn't feel like leaving home. I don't find myself anxious to get home, or hung up on silences. Instead, I feel a warm comfort that I suspect comes from true community.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Feeling Bitter and Letting Go

I confess that the last week as been a bit of an emotional shit storm for me. I went from feeling thrilled that H got accepted (still am by the way) to feeling a little bad about my own not getting in and then to feeling really pissed off that I put a lot of time and money into something that got me no where. The harassment from the loan people didn't help matters. (There is a special level of hell reserved for those people). I struggled with trying to just be chilled about not getting a Ph.D. There are some great things about doing something else. BUT there is the little matter that I worked my ass off to get my MA and the small fact that I rocked it.

And because of who we know, all I hear about lately is guess who got in and guess where. And it doesn't help that people are always asking me if I heard anything. (Hint: If you know of anyone who has applied, don't ask, they'll tell you trust me). It's painful to see the look of sympathy on people's faces. I am paranoid enough to think that everyone is thinking "She wasn't good enough." And that's what pisses me off. I am good enough. Frankly, a lot of morons have Ph.Ds and I am not a moron. Hell some of the people who do get in cause me to raise my eyebrows just a bit.

Of course this is totally petty but when you're feeling a bit wounded I think some pettiness is permitted. I feel as if my life has been set into a bit of a tailspin. I'm trying to recover my momentum so I don't crash but I'm not quite sure what's going to fuel that momentum. The plans I had devised for myself are no longer relevant. The plans I pull a hell of a lot of work into, I might add. I try to envision myself in a new way and not fall back on stereotypes: graduate student's loving wife who supports her man while he works towards his Ph.D. Gag. But what do I do now? What is my future going to look like?

Mostly I feel that I need to let go of the bitterness. It does me no good to be angry at the unfairness of it all. And it is unfair. I don't believe that the best candidate always gets in and I have good reason to believe this (not just because they didn't accept me). But feeling angry, resentful, and disillusioned is not going to make my life better nor is it going to contribute to the kind of future I want.  I've been reading Dorothy Day's dairies, and her daily struggles are a lesson in learning to let go of bitterness, resentment, and being judgmental. Her emphasis on attempting to focus on her own shortcomings and less on others reminds me that my own bitterness comes from feeling that others are not worthy. Plus the worries that I have are more about people judging me than about my own concerns. H respects and loves me and will never treat me as less than himself. I don't have to worry about what others think.

I'm working on making each day a little bit easier. A little bit more healthier. The wounds will heal.

Monday, February 07, 2011


We know, now, that will be gone for sure. Moving is, as usual, a bittersweet thing. I moved a great deal as a child, teen, and young adult. Sometimes these moves were tiny from one apartment to another in the same town. Other times, they were bigger from town to town. I suspect at first those moves were difficult but I don't remember ever feeling overtly sad at leaving. I wasn't even remotely close to being popular though and I don't remember ever more than maybe one good friend so perhaps that made it easier to pick up and leave. The moves were not always good fits and I went to some horrific schools.  I could endure because I always knew we would soon move again. And we always did.

As a young adult, I think I became addicted to this kind of movement. Even when I stayed in one town, I became restless after a school year and often moved to a new apartment.

Then I meet H and started our family. We have moved more than our friends. Since being in Charlotte, a ten year period, we've moved six times. This doesn't like much to me. And we never left Charlotte. We've stayed in many places for two years. Both H and I have felt the itch though to leave Charlotte and go some where new. We are ready for a change, and now we are going to get it.

But this is a bittersweet move for me, bittersweet in the same way leaving Maine was so many years ago.  Unlike when I was a child, I have built up communities here in Charlotte. There are my homeschooling friends, my work/school friends , my show friends. Just friends, I guess. People who have become a part of my life, shaped me in new ways, grown with me as I have changed.  We will be close in distance to them but it will be strange and hard to know what they will not be a part of my every day life. There won't be dinner dates or parties. There will not be spontaneous park days when it's beautiful in January.

And of course I know there will be those things with new people. But I do mourn a bit, and I am little scared of starting over. The excitement is more tempered than it's ever been before. Perhaps because I am older and have so many children, making friends is harder for me. I woke up the other night worried that we will be lonely and isolated. It's silly. I already have a friend who lives close to Athens and is part of a homeschooling group. But I still feel worried. And each lovely moment with friends here makes it harder to face those worries.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Becoming Human

Baby beastie is in the midst of my favorite baby stage (after newborn which yes I do love). She'll be ten months old next week, and for the last month, I've had the joy and privilege of watching her become ever more present. I told H yesterday that what I love about this stage is how human they become. Yes, I know she was a human but she was a human baby. She was aware but not herself quite yet. Now with each passing day, there is more personality, awareness, connection to us as people than ever before.

She interacts Piper with now on a new level. They actually play together. Piper is thrilled to finally have a play companion. She's been waiting for months for this to happen. The other day Piper put all her stuffed animals into tubs and baskets to make a train. As Piper pushed the stuffies around, R followed behind. She's no longer happy in the mornings until Piper gets up to play with her. As soon as Piper stumbles into the living room, R starts laughing and waving. She crawls over to the couch and pulls herself into Piper's face.

She also plays with us. As I sit here typing she'll crawl around the back of my laptop, peer her little face over and grin hugely. She sneaks up on me if I'm lying or sitting on the floor, freezing and pretending she doesn't notice me if I look over at her. She does the same thing with H. When he gets home from work she squeals and squirms out of my arms to get to him.

She talks to us and the cat all the time. She's always cooing, babbling, telling us things.

Now that she's interacting, she's starting to become a recognizable person with her own traits and foibles. No longer do I find myself saying so much "She acts just like..." Of course she shares similarities with all of us. How could she not? But now there is more to her. There is a collection of traits, quirks that fit together to make her as human as the rest of us. No longer quite the angel and more the flesh bound creature we are here on Earth.

Friday, February 04, 2011

{This Moment}

Taken from Souelmama: {This Moment}: A Friday ritual. A single photo: no words, capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause savor and remember.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Year Of Pleasures 5

Beastie Boy aka Umberto.

When I was pregnant with Umberto, I wanted a girl. I was only a little disappointed to find out I was having a boy. When I held in my arms for the first time, it honestly didn't matter. And it never mattered since. My only son. My sweet beautiful boy who taught me all about real joy. 

There is a lovely quietness to Umberto. Being with him is calming. There is something amazing about being with Umberto that just makes one feel at ease and at peace. It is an amazing gift. 

So When You Bitch About Being Content....

Didn't post my second post yesterday because it ended up being a kind of rough day. Things started off well. We had a park day. When we arrived, there were a ton of kids. After being freakishly social awkward home schoolers, the beasties meandered off into different directions. I kept an eye on them and all seemed well. After about an hour, Umberto sat down with the grown ups, complaining that he had a headache. I thought it was allergies and worried a bit that he wasn't getting along with the other boys. After a half hour of looking utterly miserable, I told him he could lay down in the van if wanted. He ran off to lay down.

I let the girls play for about an hour more while I soaked up some mama time. Finally, we left. As I was loading girl beasties into the car, I noticed Umberto was acting off. I asked him numerous times what was wrong. I was a little paranoid as the night before, I woke up because Piper yelled out "Umberto stop it!" and I thought maybe Umberto was having a seizure but I hadn't heard anything after this and Piper does talk in her sleep. I was telling my friend that I was worried that Umberto was having seizures and not telling us. He insisted he was fine. I strapped Baby Beastie into her cars eat, got into the front, and looked in the rear view mirror to ask Umberto one more time if he was okay. He snapped "I'm fine!" and then fell into a seizure. As  a bit of comic relief I actually thought "Damn it you're not fine!" I hopped out, my stomach twisted, and held him through the longest two minutes ever. Baby Beastie was SCREAMING the whole time. Camille and Piper had never seen Umberto have a seizure so they were scared and curious. They kept asking if Umberto was alright. The whole time I was thinking about what the hell I was going to do if Umberto didn't come out in two minutes. I had no cell phone and everyone was gone from the park. Finally, the seizure died down, and he was just twitching a bit.

I noticed a friend turning around on the rise that comes up above the parking lot. I tried to wave her down but I was holding Umberto up as he was still very floppy. He finally came back to us, and I asked him his name and some other questions. He was very groggy and slurred his answers before pretty much passing out. Once I was sure he was okay, I started the drive home. And ended up sobbing almost the whole way home.

This was the scenario I've been dreading and hoping would never happen: being alone, out, with Umberto seizing. Couple this with a whole year passing between the last seizure and this one, and well it was pretty horrible. I couldn't help but fear that Umberto was going to die and it freaked me out. I know he's not going to die from epilepsy but there's just that fear whenever he's in my arms, yet so far away. I find even the imagining of him not being to be too much to bear.

And then I am just worried that the meds are losing their effect. I did find out he missed a dose the night before and had missed a dose about a week ago. But regardless, it's clear that maybe things aren't getting better. The meds are working but I worry that we're not making progress towards him maybe being seizure free. However, it did motivate to contact Duke Medical Center. They have a pediatric neurological clinic that is purported to be very good. I'm hoping we'll learn more from them then we have from the neurologist he had. I know that the answers will not be fully satisfying but I am hope they'll give us a bit more information.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Future

Is less opaque. H was accepted at UGA yesterday! I am so proud of him. I admit to feeling a little...sad...a bit jealous as the congratulations came in for him over Facebook. I was relieved that we have one for sure. And I'm feeling more like I can function. I suspect much of my ennui arose from this feeling of not knowing and waiting. Doing anything seemed to belie that waiting making it hard to motivate to do even the simplest of things. Now that we know at least one for sure, I feel like I can do dishes again.

And of course we still may hear back from other schools. I'm not holding my breath for me but I think H will hear back from at least one other school. I'm trying to figure out how to do midwifery school. I've pretty much decided on doing a CPM as opposed to a CNM for various reasons. There's a small online program in SC that is not accredited but it run by a well-trained midwife that my midwife recommended to me. It has skills weekend which wouldn't be too far for me to travel from GA. But there is a lot I'd have to supplement on my own. But it's cheap! And then there is the the amazing look program that is 4,000 plus another 2, 500 once I start my clinical. The required skills weekend are only once a year but they're in Washington, D.C. which would be hard to pull off. Sigh. I need a rich relative who will sponsor me..or a patron!

But at least the ennui has broken. Life has opened up again....