Saturday, December 23, 2006

a trusting kind of squid

This morning Derek brought in the paper and we happened upon an article about a giant squid caught off the coast of Japan. You know when you read something wrong and then re-read it and realize you misread it? There was a huge picture of the squid above the article and it mentioned that the squid was one of the only ones ever caught, and that this research group had been after these squid forever.

I misread a sentence in the article to say "She was a trusting kind of squid..." and Derek and I laughed and laughed about that. We envisioned a scientist saying, "Hi squid! We're doing this research and I was wondering if you'd mind coming with me." And the squid saying, "Oh, sure, no problem." And the scientists heh-heh-heh evilly and say "That's a trusting kind of squid!" And then they spear it. (It did actually die, sadly.)

In other news on the same page, the last freshwater dolphin died in the Yangtze River in China.

We also read about the crappy job of private contractors in Iraq and the general quagmire that is the US occupation there.

Also- the baby is getting cuter daily. It's amazing.

AND- if you have a clip of the Grunka Lunka song from Futurama from years ago, tell me where it is! I checked YouTube and it's only in Italian there.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Individual responsibility and moms in the workplace

Amen to this:

"You know its very curious to me that the same American people who have stood by silently and watched the rule of law become subsumed to fear and bullying, (the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, NSA spying etc) are in effect saying they trust their leaders to prosecute criminals without trial, without a lawyer, and without a hope of justice.

Yet these same Americans are now saying they do not trust their neighbor's integrity in raising their own children. They are so anxious that mothers with children might be getting away with something, anything, but their leaders are given carte blanche to lock up whoever they want on any pretext they want?This is illogical and idiotic."

This is a comment in response to Joan Blades' post on The Huffington Post blogspace in which she defended an earlier post on why the fight for mothers' rights is needed in this country.

So many people derided that post as a call for "special rights" for "breeders." The comment I posted above (not written by me) nicely challenges that. Those who argue so passionately against things like equal pay for men and women, paid family and sick leave, and health care for all children are arguing about pennies, in essence, compared to the dollars taken out of our paychecks to support the war in Iraq, which costs millions every single day and drives this country ever deeper into debt.

This quote from Sen. Obama was just used in the last MomsRising e-outreach: "Despite all the rhetoric about being family-friendly, we have structured a society that is decidedly unfriendly... What's missing now is a movement. What's missing now is an organization. That's why MomsRising is so important."

This efficiently and effectively articulates why we need an organized movement for families. I'm not talking about some extreme right-wing organization that exists to protect the interests of white conservative Christians (who don't seem to embody much Christian love). This country purports to be family friendly, but when it comes to actually putting policies in place that would in fact help families be stronger, the powers that be are silent.

We're asking them to step up, to put their money where their mouths are, or to quit calling themselves "family friendly."

When people say things like "can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em," they're coming from a place of extraordinary privilege where they can't even begin to imagine why poor and middle class people should or would want to have children. All this posturing about individual responsibility is par for the course in American culture, but it shouldn't put us on the defensive (eg "sometimes people make bad choices but we should still help them").

We shouldn't let them define the argument that way 1. because that's not the strongest position we could take, and 2. more importantly, those who make those comments can't really claim superior "individual responsibility" by not having kids.

MY TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Working to take care of the kids you have *is* being responsible, a responsible parent. Working to change the system that only pays lip service to family values is being a responsible citizen. And figuring out how to shift corporate culture to support the realities of being part of a family is being a responsible worker.

Furthermore, those making that argument generally don't appreciate that the workplace culture is designed to increase profits, period. As the BusinessWeek Best Buy article shows, the whole notion of face-time is out of step with the techno-uber-connected way of doing business in the 21st century. Workplace culture is not tailored to fit the realities of employees' lives. This is bad for business (eg Best Buy and that small business featured in the film show) and bad for employees. The subtlety in the argument is that we're not trying to get the same pay for less work or get "special rights." We're trying to get the American corporate work culture to realize that as part of (even, perhaps, as a pillar of) a society that claims to "care about the children" and to be "family friendly," they are at the center of the current problem and the key to the solution.

MomsRising is on the cusp of what I believe to be a total shift in the work paradigm, which in this country is equal to a total shift in the culture. People who cavalierly say "can't feed 'em" are missing the boat. Again, this is not about people wanting to "slack off" at work. This is in fact all about finding innovative ways to be productive (so American!) and to raise a family (so apple pie!). We believe it's possible, and we've identified ways to make it work (the MOTHER points). Those on board (like Obama, like anyone who has or is a parent) will find themselves in good company. MomsRising is how we can speak up together and effectively produce change.

Here's my Third Wave-y feminist take on the issue: success in the workplace has, for so long, been defined by white men. But when women make up such a significant portion of the work force, and when so many of those women have kids, it's way, way past time for the tired old "can't feed 'em" nonsense. Success must be redefined by everything a multitasking woman does in her life. Corporations that embrace this are much more likely to have a stable workforce with high morale.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bitch PhD! and My Awesome Friends

For my many readers (at least one) who would be interested in a blog called "Bitch PhD," I give you Bitch PhD! Enjoy!

Also for my many readers (at least one) who expressed love for a certain picture of P, I give you this photo.

My Awesome Friends

Recently in the SF Chron and on Salon, someone named Elisa Gonzalez Clark wrote an open letter to a former friend of hers who became a mom and thereafter became boring to Ms. Clark. The new mom didn't wear her miniskirts to bars anymore, didn't attract big celebrities anymore, and apparently talked about her new baby a lot. Ms. Clark ended the friendship publicly and with a lot of disdain.

Who the hell is Ms. Clark and why the hell are the Chron and Salon publishing her (immature) sentiments? She seems to be unable to grasp the concept of MOVE ON. She wants to keep partying like it's the 80's. She can't understand that her friend has gone on to a new project in her life.

She refuses to celebrate with her friend during the good times. She refuses to support her friend during the tough times. (When her friend recalls her life before the baby, Clark kind of takes a you-made-your-bed-now-lie-in-it attitude instead of just being there and listening, the way a real friend would.)

Anyhoo. To all D's and my friends who have been nothing but supportive generous and happy with us: thank you! Each of you is an incredible person and you mean so much to us.

It doesn't matter that most of our friends don't have children. They don't need to have had kids to know how to be fabulous to us, how to be friends with us. And we actually remember how to be friends with them, how to relate to those sans kids. It's not really that amazing, but I guess if one has sucky friends (or is a sucky friend, like Ms. Clark), one cannot grasp that concept.

We're really lucky to have a circle of true friends. And we're really lucky not to have encountered the bitterness expressed in Ms. Clark's letter. How sad for her to not know how to be a friend.

I'm so grateful for good family and good friends! More and more I can see what a blessing these are.

end of the baby-cation!

I can't believe it's been a month since I've posted. I'm sure you can't believe it either, dear loyal blog readers, all two of you. At the end of the last post, I wrote how I was a little nervous about D going back to work. So far, it's going pretty well. I'm figuring out how to shower, feed myself, and get errands and work done while taking care of the baby. There are definitely challenges (like being on a conference call with P screaming, or dealing with poopsplosions). But not insurmountable.

Anyhoo-- baby rearing has been an amazing experience. D and I learn new things about Paloma every day. And she learns something new about herself and the world every second.

She's just six weeks old, and in the past week she's learned that she can bat around her toys to make them rattle, swing, etc. And she's got great head control! Check out the photo.

Can you imagine sleeping 18 hours a day, but in two and three hour chunks? (Yikes- I hate the word "chunks." Why did I say "chunks?" Ick.) Yeah, I can't either, because I'm sleeping for two three hour blocks a night, or thereabouts, and not at all during the day.

I know, I know- sleep when the baby sleeps. But who can really do that *and* get stuff done? But fortunately somehow there's some hormone or chemical that kicks in and helps me not feel totally exhausted. And when I'm facing the toughest feeding (interestingly, not 3:30 am but 7:00 am), I look at P's face and feel so lucky to be able to nurse her and to parent her.

Nursing is going pretty well. Some days are more sore than others, but I think we're getting it nicely on the whole. Speaking of nursing-- in the incredibly sad story about James Kim getting lost in the snow, did anyone else find it inspiring/comforting that Kati Kim was able to keep both her 4 year old and 7 month old alive by nursing them? I was in awe of what mamas can do and what she did do.

Have you checked out MOMSRISING yet? It's growing by leaps and bounds- an incredibly well-organized, motivated grassroots organization whose time has come (given the new Democratic leadership).

Baby's about to wake up from her nap-- parenthood makes me do things in nap-speed!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

i am wolverine

My first post-baby blog! We're in week 2 of Paloma's life. During week 1, breastfeeding was an INCREDIBLE pain! It's still painful, but that first week... let's just say it's not fun having cracked, bleeding, sore, blistered nipples while trying to feed at 1 am and also experiencing uterine cramping, sore stitches, dizzingly fast weight loss and general aches.

So I tried what I'd heard from nurses-- rubbing breastmilk onto injured nipples would help heal them. To my utter amazement, it did. By the time I had to feed on the side I'd treated with breastmilk, it had healed *just enough* to offer Paloma again. That's why I felt like Wolverine-- healing my own wounds just enough, just in time.

Now we're working out nursing, figuring out her clever tricks (sliding back on the nipple, chewing her way onto the nipple, opening wide but blocking with her tongue (!)). I've gotten better at removing and relatching.

I'm a little nervous about when D goes back to work. We get so much time together right now (he gets six weeks), and we're really enjoying it. I guess it will be okay, and I'll figure it all out.

So have you checked out MomsRising yet? I'm telling you, it's the new for family issues. Get on board! :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Moon PSA for my husband

Ok- recently in my favorite magazine, Sunset, there was an article about biodynamic methods of farming as applied on vineyards. Who doesn't love the romantic as well as practical, eco-friendly aspects of biodynamic farming?

It was all great until I got to the section on how they time certain activities on the vineyard depending on whether the moon is full or "new." This article actually said that "[a] full moon is a great levitating force" and that it lifts the tides. And that "when the moon goes dark and Earth's gravity holds complete sway, the sediment in barrels stays put during racking."

Oh. My. GOD. PEOPLE!!! When you close your eyes, things don't disappear! When the moon "goes dark," it does NOT ACTUALLY SHRINK. It only looks like that because of how the sun's light hits it. It is ACTUALLY STILL THERE, still exerting the SAME gravitational pull on Earth and everything on Earth with the same force.

Get this straight-- the tides happen four times a day and have nothing to do with what phase the moon is in. The tides occur due to gravitational interaction between the moon, Earth and sun and are observable only because the ocean is relatively enormous. You cannot observe tidal effects in yourself or in grapevines-- gravity is such a weak force, you can only observe Earth's gravitational effects on you. If you figure out how to observe the gravitational effects of other heavenly bodies, you better get on the horn to the Nobel folks STAT, because you're up next year.

Please tell everyone you know. My husband is going crazy with crap like this in widely read publications.

Like in Yoga Journal magazine. Where they made similar claims-- that in Ashtanga yoga, there's a theory that you shouldn't practice yoga during the extremes of the moon's phases because "different" gravitational pulls would throw you off. Now I am open minded, but not to crap!!! It's as bad as saying the world is flat. It is THAT BAD.

Sorry for kind of ranting here, but with the constant misunderstandings of something as beautiful as gravity (ok, so I'm married to a physicist!), I had to use my little public space for good not evil.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

pure nerd

For your quiz-taking pleasure:

Pure Nerd
65 % Nerd, 8% Geek, 8% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.


Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in any of the following:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Professional Wrestling

Love & Sexuality


Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on nerdiness

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on geekosity

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Thursday, October 12, 2006

kind strangers and fertility

Walking around my neighborhood lately, I've felt even more happy than usual. Random strangers smile at me. The librarian (Mr. Charming Smile) told me he hopes I have the baby this weekend because that's his birthday too, and that he'll be thinking of me. How friendly is that- how wonderful is that?! Another guy said that I carry the pregnancy very well and that I looked adorable. Just as he was walking down the street and I was walking up it.

I wish that random strangers would be this kind and friendly to each other when one of them isn't obviously pregnant.

I went to my moms' group today and it was wonderful, again, to be with a group of moms and their new babies in a relaxed setting. We were just in someone's living room, they were nursing and playing with the babies, we were chatting, having snacks... it felt lovely, slow, convivial. Babies cried, were held, slept, nursed. I look at these women and know that no matter how much naysayers want me to believe them (why is it that the most negative people NEED me to validate their experience and NEED my experience to be as horrid as they perceive theirs to be), that I will have this support group and I also have inner resources, vastly.

Also, there's also 800-4-A-CHILD if I feel like I'm going through serious postpartum and the baby's in danger.

But man. I feel like if I'm complaining about something, it's going to be at that PPD-call-the-hotline-stat point. Because after knowing the issues others go through just trying to get pregnant or just waiting for their adopted or foster kid's paperwork to go through-- well, I just will not complain.

I am grateful. That's my mantra. I am grateful. I am grateful.


I remember that when I was doing doula work and some pregnancy education, one client asked if I was a mom, because it seemed like I had kids. And I remember being really flattered that she thought that (especially since I was nineteen at the time and far from thinking of having kids). I felt good about being able to connect with people. And especially with these pregnant women, because they were low-income and mostly really young and without partners.

But along the way, somehow I got the message that it wasn't special to be a mom. I'm thinking that a lot (like maybe 90%) of that comes straight from my parents' relationship, and the way my father treats my mother. Which is, disrespectfully.

I've said before that pregnancy has given me gifts that I never, ever could have imagined. Gifts of emotional growth and insight that are so precious to me, that strengthen me and reveal to me truths about who I am. Here is one truth- despite the way my father treats my mother, despite the way American culture treats parents (and elderly people), there is another way. The truth is that motherhood is an amazing gift and that I am ready to do it.


Which leads me to yet another thing I love about my husband. He's a physicist, which means he's also got the creativity of a poet. His imagination is limitless. He's really a phenomenal thinker, and more emotionally aware than anyone I've ever known. And his approach to parenthood is like that of a Buddhist-- with a friendly curiosity. Without fear.

Which is how I'm approaching labor and delivery. :)

And I must add that the awesome women in the moms' group told me not to forget that contractions are only a minute long-- and that no one told them that it can be downright euphoric in between contractions. Ah, the full story is so much better than people's bits-and-pieces.

I'm not saying it won't be challenging-- labor and delivery AND motherhood. I'm just saying I want to approach it with curiosity, with grace, with patience, with a great love.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

more on Moms Rising, and- Houston, we have a NAME!

I'm getting excited to meet this little one. I've loved being pregnant, which I know isn't how it always is. So I'm really grateful for my mellow, healthy experience. It's been amazing already-- I feel like pregnancy has taught me a lifetime's worth of lessons in 37 (going on 38) short weeks. I can look back and see how my views and emotions around motherhood have changed-- how my views of *myself* have changed. I've become a lot more happy to be who I am, not longing for who I want to be in a few years. Ironically, in relaxing into that, I'm finding that opportunities have been emerging in great ways.

For example, I've been working with Joan Blades to volunteer for her new organization, MomsRising. I told her what I think about the concepts of Safe Motherhood and my interest in one day supporting mothers in conflict areas. So exciting to get to join this organization on the ground floor- I think it's going to do great things. Just last week, she and Kristin (co-writer of the Motherhood Manifesto were in Washington DC, presenting the film version of the book to Sens. Obama, Clinton, Dodd, and others. Not just their staffers, but the Senators themselves. Very exciting to have the ear of Congress for such an important and truly wide-ranging topic.

Oh yeah- we have a girl name picked out!! We have two boy names chosen, but could NOT find a girl name we both loved. But we've finally come up with one, and it's not Mink Blister (our late-night fits-of-laughter choice). It's FANTASTIC. Not trendy, not overly popular, but not unrecognizable or difficult to say or spell, and with a great nickname. It's pretty, strong, clean, versatile. I can't wait to share it (and pics of the new one)! Less than a month now!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

on mediocrity, terrorism and motherhood

Just finished watching "Amadeus" for the first time in lots of years. I think the writing was meh. To me, the most interesting question posed by the movie is "How do you deal with mediocrity when you yearn to be great? How do you deal with your own imperfection in the face of perfection?" The movie only superficially touches on this. To me, the best scene in the movie is the last one, in which Salieri is wheeled through the insane asylum, crying out to all the "mediocre" souls there that he is their patron saint, he is the one who absolves them of the sin of being mediocre.

This is a profound and painful inquiry, and it would have made a much better movie to probe that question more deeply.


How does it relate to terrorism? Oh- it doesn't, except that I think the Dept of Homeland Security is ridiculously mediocre. I heard on the radio today that the Ports of San Francisco and Oakland received NOTHING from Homeland Security, even both applied for funds. Hmm. It makes me wonder whether we've got to batten down the hatches around here. I'm just saying... I'd love to know what they knew and when they knew it, if you know what I mean.


And mediocrity and motherhood. What a hot topic. The stupid "mommy wars" are so ridiculous. It's a clever ploy to divide a constituency. (The "mediocrity" angle here is that women who are educated and able are choosing a lesser life when they choose to raise kids.)

If all women came together, those with children and those who are child-free, to demand actual wage equality, it would be a dangerous day for politicians. Instead, they create rifts that conveniently distract people from the true issues of inequality. Squabbling over which goal is more lofty-- to raise the next generation or to rise to the highest positions in political and corporate arenas-- conveniently misses the point, which is that neither will happen with any great success until women are treated equally both in the home AND the workplace.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Motherhood Manifesto!

Last night I attended a screening of the film "Motherhood Manifesto" based on the book by Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. It was great- I got to talk with Joan for awhile and she's a dynamic, fun person (as you might imagine the co-founder of to be).

I've been studying/working on/thinking about women's health as a human right for about ten years now, and especially about the concept of Safe Motherhood). This film really hits some of the major issues around parenthood in the United States-- namely, family leave and work issues, TV and corporate conditioning of kids, universal healthcare for children (they say we almost had it-- it passed the House and Senate and was vetoed by Nixon), and childcare costs. Apparently we're joined by Lesotho, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea in failing to provide things like paid family leave and children's health care. It is pathetic how politicians in this country utterly fail to actually *do* anything about their so-called family values.

As Republican pollster Frank Luntz said (I think it was in a Frontline interview that's excerpted in the film), this is an issue that's up for grabs. Either party could adopt the platform of empowering parents and *especially women,* who are often openly discriminated against in the workplace just for having children!

I'm really glad to live in California. We do have some paid family leave, and D's employer provides a generous six-week paid family leave (I believe it's through the state, though some employers apparently call this disability leave).

Today I'm feeling really relaxed about my career. I love that D is so supportive of me, that he really believes in me. I really believe I'll be an asset to whatever organization/company I join. I'm excited to be a mother for now, and then when D and I feel the time is right for the kid, I'll re-join the workforce. I'm not going to fret over what's going to happen in a few years, because I know I can do this. How scary to put it out there, but the truth is people are survivors-- we figure things out. (I'm reading Life of Pi, which certainly inspires thinking about survival.)

OH! Great news!! The panel I worked really hard on for the Commonwealth Club was aired nationally on NPR! It was called "The Health of Africa" and I was really excited by the turnout, and the fact that the moderator (Barbara Rodgers of KPIX News) used the questions I'd written and researched for her. I felt like the panel was really dynamic and was thrilled they chose to air it on KQED. The podcast is available to download here-- it was recorded on August 8, 2006.

Ok- off to make dinner!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

French Toast and Childbirth Ed

It's a great Saturday when you've had a good Childbirth Ed class *and* the best damn French toast ever. So I'm going to share with you the wonder and magic of Sunset magazine's French Toast Bites, with my own small alteration.


1 loaf (~1 lb.) Semifreddi's Cinnamon Twist Challah, or your own local Very Good Challah
6 eggs
1 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla (or 1.5 tsp. ground vanilla bean)
1 tsp. cinnamon (or Pumpkin Pie Spice)
1/4 c. sugar (which I like to add for extra crisp carmelization)

- Cut the bread into 1" cubes. The cubes are KEY to the whole thing because, unlike thick slices, they crisp up beautifully and evenly.

- Beat all other ingredients together in a large bowl. Toss in the cubes.

- Lightly butter a large frying pan (we used cast iron with great success). Over medium high heat, toss in the cubes, shaking off excess liquid.

- Turn as needed; about five minutes to cook through.

This is The BEST French toast I've had, and I'm including the incredible pain perdu I've had the privilege to experience at La Note in Berkeley. Though their lavender honey is truly special and exceptional.

The CBE class was not too bad. I was skeptical when S., our instructor opened the class with people sharing their concerns/fears. I'm pretty tired of people asking me if I'm afraid and what my fears are. Because I'm really not afraid, and I also don't think that's so exceptional. (I didn't say that during introductions; I just said I didn't have a major concern to share.) S. pointed out that many people are afraid of the unknown. For me, if I don't know what's coming, I think--why should I be afraid?

I don't approach every situation like that, obviously-- for instance, I'm a defensive driver. But labor and delivery is special. It's been done by billions of women in the world over the course of human history. It's a natural process, the pain is purposeful, and it doesn't last forever-- normally it's less than a day. I can endure this for a day.

In fact, I've decided to be proud of my body. At first I didn't want to "take credit" for how normally and well my body has handled this pregnancy. But then I realized I'd probably feel guilty if it were difficult, which would be silly. There are certain things you can change and certain things you can't change. I've been conscious of those things in my control.

So, I'm proud that I was in pretty good shape pre-pregnancy and that I continue to be in pretty good shape; that I've been eating really well; that I've been avoiding stress as much as possible and trying to remember to take deep breaths, to do yoga, to have good posture, to relax. To be open to whatever happens and just to let it all go. To laugh a lot! To see friends and be social. And I remember in dance class, when our intense old school hardcore Debbie-Allen-in-Fame-esque teacher (Reginald Ray-Savage, if you're curious) would push us incredibly hard (people left crying), I'd think (as my muscles shook with fatigue) "I could do this for another week! Sure, no problem!" Mr. Savage taught me how much physical strength comes from mental strength.

After all that at the CBE class, we practiced some positions for labor, which was nice. I think it was useful to see how Derek would approach the positions and massage so I could tell him what felt good. Also, it's just really nice to come to the hospital so often for these various classes we've signed up for (CBE, newborn care, breastfeeding, meeting the practitioners, hospital tour). We've gotten really comfortable with our route, parking, and buildings, which is nice.

And my doula just attended a great birth at our hospital! I'm so excited; everything I've heard about it is very consistent that it's a fabulous, low-key, progressive place to give birth (but also with a great NICU if need be). YAY!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ms. Mediation

Ehhh... I go back and forth between "Mediation is my next career step!! So thrilling!!" to "I am totally unhire-able for any sort of paid work in the world" to "whatever, this is all on hold for one to two years" to "who knows what will happen." Pretty much I think that last one is most accurate. I've got some action items on a timeline charted out and feel good about that. But in truth, it could be a couple of years before my career is off and running. It could be longer! It could possibly be shorter, if my sister-in-law Kelly is any indication (who landed a great job when her son was 8 months old). On the whole, I have a feeling deep inside that everything is going to work out well, but it's hard to convey that to people. Ah well-- one of the many gifts of pregnancy is realizing I don't have to explain myself to others.

Sooo, instead of worrying about that, let's talk about handling the emotional messes of pregnancy. And nope, we're not talking about me! Strangely enough, I feel like the eye of the storm-- pregnancy hormones totally agree with me and I've been feeling quite calm and centered. The emotional storm blows in with my parents! Especially mom. She's pretty unstable-- calm during one moment, then growing into anger (doesn't matter what the topic of conversation is). It's a common theme for her. I'm pretty certain I don't want to manage her needs during labor and delivery! At one point I thought she'd be helpful during labor, but now I'm not sure about that.

I don't owe her the experience of being in my labor and delivery room, right? Right?

Damn. I just finished my chocolate bar. It was a little love gift from Derek. Green and Black's organic milk, which is darker than most milk chocolates (and therefore better, says she who lives blissfully near the Scharffenberger factory).

Not that I need chocolate to finish a thought or anything.

What was I saying?

Oh! Go see "Little Miss Sunshine!" It's definitely dark humor, which I'm generally not into. But they skewer the little girl pageant industry, and Alan Arkin should *definitely* win for Best Onscreen Lovable Grandpa/Heroin Addict. No doubt. Steve Carrell is also fabulous in this. You could wait for the DVD, but if you need a laugh now, this is a really good bet.

Heh, there's a foot coming out of my torso! I always imagined it'd be creepy but in fact, I *love* movement. It's so fun!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Once a woman owns her life..."

"...she owns her birth." - Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa

I went to the Mother Blessing for me on Saturday, put together by Juli and Roxanne with Amy (in from NY!) and Sarah also in attendance. My mother-in-law Sharon and sister-in-law Kelly are across the country but participated by sending beads and accompanying notes. It was small but intensely beautiful and meaningful for me.

We started by snacking and painting onesies, which was a fun thing to do outside. Then we came in for the ritual portion. Everyone brought a bead, and as each shared the bead, she also shared a wish for me. It was so beautiful. I felt so supported. I received wishes to be who I really am; to feel supported and loved; to be proud and confident in my choices; to have patience, endurance and flexibility. I needed to hear all that so much!

Then everyone shared positive mothering stories from their own lives. That was beautiful, too. I heard about the grace and strength of the mother figures in their lives, which really impacted me in a positive way.

I feel like pregnancy has taught me so much in ways I never could have anticipated. And I am so grateful for the patient yet firm and insistent teacher it has been. It has forced me to confront issues and fears around motherhood. Fear of failure, of not being good enough or ready to mother, of "only" being a mother. I did confront those fears and issues head on. Now I feel ready to fully embrace motherhood with a delicious satisfaction, profoundly glad to have the opportunity.

The Khalsa quote at the top is one way to describe the gift pregnancy has given me. It has been a way for me to do what I've struggled for a long time to do, which is to "own" my life without apology, to be totally comfortable and relaxed in my choices. What a gift!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Northampton is the best!

I highly recommend traveling and changes of pace in general. And in particular, I recommend Northampton, MA! It's just beautiful and I just got back from a most glorious week there with my sister, bro in law, sis in law and her baby.

We went to Shelburne Falls (there's me on the Bridge of Flowers- how charming is Shelburne Falls?! p.s. I am wearing a bathing suit under my clothes, but we didn't end up swimming in the river). We went all over Northampton (which includes, I must add, trips to Herrell's ice cream shop and Cornucopia's fine chocolate shop), and even to Vermont!! Oh Vermont! Vermont about which I have been dreaming for years. It was everything I dreamed it would be.

Here is a view from a restaurant in Vermont- we ate on the deck overlooking the river.

And here is beautiful Smith College! We had a great walk around campus. It's idyllic- there are so many gardens and places to enjoy the outdoors.

Can I even describe the homemade ice cream selection. Herrell's, Flayvors, and probably a ton I missed in VT. Herrell's had chocolate cookie. This is brilliant. What is with cookies and cream? I don't want no stinking cream. I want bittersweet chocolate on top of crunchy bittersweet chocolate cookie. Herrell's gets this. Herrell's loves me.

It was so wonderful to rest and relax with my sister, my bro in law and sis in law and her adorable one year old son. We just had such a great time no matter what we were doing. I am so lucky to have such a loving, brilliant, fun and fabulous sister. I am not just saying that because she might read this!! It's true!

ALSO!!! The BEST thing ever- my brother in law Sam has iTunes and helped me make a dream of mine come true (besides driving us to Vermont!). We downloaded a bunch of versions of "We Shall Overcome" and burned a beautiful CD, which I am planning to use as the baby's soothing CD. It's so wonderful. There are historic recordings from the civil rights movement; there are gospel and reggae versions, a lovely acoustic guitar version, and classic Pete Seeger and Joan Baez versions. It's so great!

Anyhoo. I can't wait to go back and see them again. It's always such a good time. If you know people who live in a different place from you, go visit! If you don't know such people, I say get out there and travel and make friends and pen pals (a charming even if somewhat dated concept). Yay!

Monday, July 31, 2006

babymoon and birthday bbq!

These are recent pictures from my birthday bbq and babymoons (and the first is a general growing belly shot). Our mini babymoons in Santa Barbara and Mendocino were absolutely beautiful. It was wonderful to be by the gorgeous ocean, wonderful to relax, and most of all it was wonderful to spend time with my husband. I love him so much. I feel really blessed to be with someone who is so completely committed to our relationship, to parenthood, to creating a beautiful life together. Our kid is lucky. :)

I think I'm a California coast kind of person. I love the vegetation, from the chaparral to the amazing redwoods. I love how the redwoods grow in groups to hold each other up. I love the ocean and the mountains so close to each other. And maybe this doesn't have to do necessarily with the coast... but the eating is So. Incredibly. Good here!

I'm going to visit my sister in western Mass soon and I can't wait! We're going to visit Vermont, of which I've had romantic notions forever. Everyone I've met from Vermont is lovely.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Well, the third trimester has started with a grand and glorious introduction to the World of Cankles. I have been shocked, shocked the past two days at the state of my feet. Shocked being relative, of course, because what's shocking is what's happening in the Middle East. But when you see your body doing something unexpected, it can really take you aback. Thus, I can't look at my feet without being a little appalled. I've never been unable to see the bones in my feet and ankles, and very suddenly they're gone. Sigh.

A pregnancy board pal made me laugh when she wrote "Welcome to the canklemester!" For sure.

Anyone have tips on handling sciatica? Anyone? This is fairly recent for me, though lower back pain has been with me this whole time pretty much. Ah well. I *am* enjoying the kicks and movement.

And I swear we're going to make this one bedroom work, at least for a few months. We're converting our dining nook as a nursery. Then we're going to make our coffee table convertible into a dining table by creating removable legs. We'll have two dining chairs in the room and store two chairs in the garage. That way the living space doubles as a dining space without being too crowded (ie with a coffee table *and* dining table *and* chairs.)

October is coming fast!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

on marriage and parenthood

Sorry about the cranky post about The Time Traveler's Wife. I abandoned the effort since it was due at the library and I did regret not being able to plow through it, but I couldn't find the inspiration to prioritize it. But I am looking forward to Until I Find You. I've begun it and so far it's classic John Irving, which means the characters hit the ground running with strong personalities, quirky backstories and insatiably interesting relationships. And, not inconsequentially, good dialogue. Writing good dialogue is a hallmark of a greatly talented writer, to me.

But this post is on marriage and parenthood! I had a revelation today. I saw that:

1. Marriage is a relationship in which I prioritize my partner and our relationship.
2. This is the commitment people are often afraid of before entering marriage.
3. For me, this commitment has not limited who I am but made me feel more free, more who I am. It may mean that I share my car, or take into account his schedule when making plans, or put off something I wanted to do so that we can do something else together. Somehow this doesn't feel constraining but beautiful and fulfilling. And fun!
4. Parenthood is about making a similar commitment, but with even more selflessness because the little person cannot be an equal partner.
5. So perhaps engaging in this relationship which calls for such selflessness also provides deep measures of self-fulfillment, as in marriage. Just as people sometimes fear the commitment of marriage because it's hard to see the benefits past the fear of "am I going to lose my sense of self?!", maybe the fear of parenthood stems from not seeing the amazing rewards of the relationship-- the personal growth and development, as well as the connections with a larger community.

Anyhoo- those are just some thoughts that I found helpful today.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

shmime shmaveler's shmife

I am reading The Time Traveler's Wife for a book club. I don't like this book at all.

Some writers have an effortless elegance. Some can make me laugh out loud, and a very few can bring me to tears. Maybe Audrey Niffenegger is one of them, but this book is definitely not the one to showcase any of that talent, if she has it.

The writing is so clumsy. There are actually parts where it says "would of" instead of "would have." The main characters are boring and sometimes are asses. It feels like drudge work getting around to how the love story develops. It's just not a very well-crafted book. And I still have to get through all five hundred plus pages for a book club.

I can't wait to dive more deeply into John Irving's latest, Until I Find You. I've just begun it, and it's already promising in an Irving way. Ever since I first read A Prayer for Owen Meany, I've loved this writer who so masterfully reveals his stories. It's such a pleasure! There are few things better to me than being in the hands of a good storyteller.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Great sites!

If you haven't discovered the joy of Apartment Therapy yet, wander over. It's fantastic, even if you don't live in an apartment. The design ideas are gorgeous and innovative, and there is no way you can't up your efficiency (and hipness) just by applying an idea or two from there.

And you gotta love that they include, for "inspiration," a link to an article about Craigslist in the Wall Street Journal. The article is mostly about why craigslist operates the way it does- to serve end users. This concept is a little hard for the WSJ writer to grasp, and he repeatedly wonders why craigslist doesn't simply try to maxamize profit. It's enlightening.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

gun owners write to the UN

I'm not in a mood to be particularly nice and beat around the bush. I saw this article on msnbc and it saddens me how ignorant of the law many Americans are. Fine, be a gun owner, but please don't be an idiot gun owner. From that article:

"LaPierre [executive director of the NRA], who also uses the site to pitch his new book, “The Global War on Your Guns,” asks NRA members to send letters to Kariyawasam and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warning that “the American people will never let you take away the rights that our 4th of July holiday represents.”

It's called state sovereignty, Wayne, and it means that Dubya, our criminal in chief, can take away those hallowed rights-- but not an international organization. And NOT EVEN an international treaty-- EVEN IF we've signed it!-- if we haven't ratified it!

By the way, those rights that are enshrined in the Bill of Rights? The president has ALREADY taken many of them away, Wayne! Ever hear of the Fourth Amendment, or is your head stuck too far up the ass of the Second (which is meant to protect against the King's Royal Army of Yesteryear) to realize we HAVE other rights?

There's also the First Amendment, and a whole mess of others that have been seriously eroded BY YOUR OWN government. The president has said on numerous occasions that some laws (like those found in the Bill of Rights) just don't apply to him and his administration. And he has acted on that. So Wayne, why don't you and your minions do something about *that*?

God, are these the same people who read the Left Behind series like it's The Truth? Yeah, the "evil" head of the UN...

I get pissed at lazy thinking and lack of thinking.

Monday, June 05, 2006

figuring out mothering is maybe not so bad

I have never been one of those people who felt like the most special thing in the world would be to become a mother. Now, I was and am deeply passionate about the principles of Safe Motherhood and the general Anne Crittenden-esque belief that the world needs to (and can) do much better in respecting women who mother. I type that and feel like it couldn't be more true.

The journey for me in pregnancy is not about facing labor and delivery. Because to tell the truth, I'm not afraid of labor and delivery. I'm looking forward to it as a huge challenge, a beautiful and incredibly powerful transition, and even as a meditative time to release all expectations and all hoped-for outcomes and simply let it happen. I'm not looking forward to pain, I'm looking forward to the release and to the ritual and to the rebirth of me-as-mother.

The journey for me in pregnancy IS about facing motherhood. To be honest, up until very recently (like, today) I've been a little panicky about it. I love my mom, who basically made mothering her life's work. But I wonder if she would describe her life as fulfilled. Maybe, probably, she would. Yet there are ways in which parts of her life seem really left behind- her independence, her education, her self-confidence.

I realized I don't know many mothers who seem fulfilled and self-confident. I'm not talking about working moms who find fulfillment in work. I'm talking about women who find fulfillment in mothering itself, who don't just say "it's a TON of work!" "you'll never sleep again!" "you'll miss adult conversation" and all those other scare-mongering comments.

I'm over the scare-mongering- HOORAY!!! This is huge for me. I recently read about moms (in a Berkeley Parents Network newsletter) who were giving advice to a new, anxious stay-at-home mom. They sounded like women who are self-confident, ok to make and learn from mistakes, who love museums and traveling and getting out, who love the challenge of mothering and love the opportunity to see their babies grow.

They made it sound great to me! I've begun to appreciate the beauty of hanging out with and caring for this little person, getting to know her/him so deeply, and just enjoying life and all its transitions.

I think my journey during pregnancy-- that is, what I've got to learn more about-- is about accepting motherhood as a path about which I know very little now and will have to learn about "on the job." A path with its own deep challenges and rewards that are not recognized by society. (But I can enjoy them nonetheless-- and it's huge that my husband is the most encouraging, respectful and loving partner ever.)

I think because society doesn't recognize the challenges and rewards, I assumed that there aren't any. Despite my advocacy and passion for Safe Motherhood, I didn't really believe that motherhood itself could be *that* special-- after all, millions of women do it. But I am joyfully discovering that I was wrong, and I can't wait to open my mind more everyday to the possibilities for richer living that motherhood generously provides.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Compassionate or sentimental?

Great article incisively taking apart television shows that are meant to make you "feel good" and perhaps like a good person for feeling good (ie, I must be compassionate to cry about this family getting a whole home makeover!!!.) But the show isn't really about compassion-- that it provokes a sentimental reaction is one thing, but does it simply provide a feel-good moment to the spectator, get ratings and ad dollars with not many substantial, long-term results? Clearly, most shows are not going to establish a relationship with the show participants or viewers, and then follow up and continue to walk with them after the cameras have stopped rolling. But wouldn't that be a more complete rendering of compassion, if compassion is truly "to suffer with"? As opposed to sentimentality, which begins and ends with the tv power button...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

David Blaine

A couple of weeks ago D and I were at a hotel and saw David Blaine doing street magic. It was really fun to watch. But we don't have tv and so I haven't been following the David Blaine submersion too much; just noticing what I've seen mentioned on the web.

What I appreciate about him so much is how much people connect to him. From the comments I've read, people are buoyed by a sense of wonder. More than I would have guessed, people deeply appreciate that he does extreme things just to push himself and humankind. This is so interesting to me. People seem to feel a real sense of connection to him, to his creativity and mental feats, and to his commitment-- even while acknowledging that they themselves are not that committed, that they could not accomplish the same things. There are far fewer cynics and naysayers than I would have thought. I really like that!

It's like he relates to the world as an artist does *and* as an athlete does. That's fascinating to me.

Monday, May 08, 2006

the advice keeps a-comin'...

When people find out I'm pregnant, I get a lot of "OH! Well, enjoy doing [X activity] now because you sure won't be able to later!" They may as well add an evil "HA HA HA!!"

I usually feel like saying, "Well, duh. I expected my life would change, and actually I'm looking forward to it! But gee, thanks for the heads up." I mean, sure there will be days when I'm tired and want a few hours to myself. But the people commenting to me are usually so foreboding about the whole thing. Hey naysayers: Life is full of change all the time, whether or not you've got a child.

One friend, Jenny, was totally refreshing. She was so excited and we talked about all the things to look forward to. I got happy thinking about the plump little legs, the smiles, the nuzzling, and just generally mothering. Yeah, babies cry, it happens. But life rolls on, right? There are good times and hard times. Can't control it all, all the time.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

15 weeks and risin'...

I keep thinking of that Johnny Cash song about the river that keeps rising as I progress in this pregnancy. 15 weeks is a good time in pregnancy, I'm finding! I had a fun ultrasound today. The little alien has feet. Looks like they're not going to be dainty little things! :) But we got a shot of one foot pressed up against the side of the uterus. It was cute. We couldn't tell the sex, and we're still not sure we want to find out. At the next appointment is when we have to decide. At first I was leaning toward finding out. After all, the docs know, the ultrasound tech knows... D and I should know! And we could call it by name in utero. And we could deal with any issues we might have around "oh my god how will I parent a little boy/girl?!"

But now I'm thinking, why does it matter as long as we know it's healthy? It's a rare chance to love someone without knowing their sex, which could be interesting in terms of learning more about our subconscious and conscious approaches to people because of their sex. That is, our biases! I'm less into the "surprise" of it. I really think labor and delivery will be surprise enough. !! But it could be fun too, to surprise everyone else with "Meet our new daughter/son!" And we've talked so much about how we want to raise a child, whether it's a boy or girl, that we know that (at least for the first couple of years), things would likely be done much the same for either sex.

Leave a message if you've thought through this decision! Thanks!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

worth it

It is worth it, I've discovered, to enjoy a really great haircut and facial every once in awhile. Mind you, our family budget doesn't allow this to be a regular treat. But I've decided it makes a person look and feel so damn good, I'm going to spring for a good haircut every five months or so, with crap (well, at least less expensive) haircuts between. And I'm going to do a good facial too. Because DAMN. It's good stuff!

Pregnant lady likey. Non-pregnant ladies likey too. And why not- either way the relaxed, glowing feel of being taken care of and having your skin and hair massaged into glory is wonderful.

I am not a splurger. I don't buy tons of clothes, or even small amounts of clothes, regularly. Might spend on books, might go to the library. We don't have tv service-- if there's a really excellent show, we might rent it on dvd. But there is just no way to replicate the fabulous sensation of Spa Day for yourself. If you live in the Bay Area and want to know the Most Fabulous Salon Ever, leave a message and I'll get you the name of my place.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

pregnancy happiness

Pregnancy: So I am getting more and more excited about this pregnancy. I mean, we'd planned it and wanted it from the start (and I *know* how blessed we are even in that seemingly simple regard). But I'm at almost 13 weeks and it's still not very visible, and I'm getting past nausea (hooray!). But I was just hit with this realization that I am carrying the person who has some of my genes and some genes from the Most Amazing Man to Ever Walk the Face of the Planet. And that is exciting! Yeah, I like my husband okay. :)

Foodie: If you get "Sunset" magazine, I highly recommend trying the sticky chile chicken recipe from this month. It is fabulous. And I rarely cook chicken-- as in, this is the first time all year I've done it. Still came out great! I am planning to try the strawberry cream cake recipe tonight.

Please share if you have great recipes! I'm trying to cook more at home these days. Especially if your recipes use what's fresh right now (in the Bay Area), I'd love to see 'em. Thanks!!

Books: I'm reading TC Boyle's Tooth and Claw right now. The short stories are quite good, but I wasn't as into "Swept Away" as the jacket cover blurb writer was. I did think the first story, "When I Woke Up This Morning, Everything I Had Was Gone" was excellent in that it began very simply, but subtly wove in beautiful details and emotions, so that by the end of the story I really felt like I was in the hands of a master storyteller. Always good to start your collection of stories with a strong one!

Share your book recs!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Women's Circles rock

I just had the most fabulous experience at a pregnant women's circle I attended. It's *free*!! And it started with an hour of prenatal yoga on the ball, which felt so heavenly for my hips that I bought a ball of my own to take home. (though they supplied all the yoga gear- how great is this circle!)

Then we had an hour of introducing ourselves and sharing where we were in our pregnancies and if there were any issues going on. I learned so much and just felt so supported, which is great because I don't know anyone else in my circle of friends who is even thinking of getting pregnant. There were babies and toddlers there, too, which was so fun.

I am just so grateful that this is my life these days! Begone, depressed and cranky lawyers! Of course, I love and cherish my lawyer friends who are balanced and wonderful people. (They're a precious group.) But I say to my profession as a whole- toodles! I'll be back in a few years, doing something fulfilling for the state of the law. For now, I'm doing something fulfilling for my family and myself.

Cue Aretha Franklin: "Freedom, freedom...!"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

mama lovin'

I just read finslippy's latest and it really got me excited about the Mama Love!!! I cannot wait to nuzzle and cuddle and kiss my new little one.

DAMN Lionel Shriver and her pretentious book! It's called We Need To Talk About Kevin and it's narrated by a woman who raises a boy who starts out as a devil child and grows into a mass murderer. Was it nature or nurture or both, the book so cleverly queries. It was crap, I say.

I am so grateful to now be able to replace that with a much more positive, beautiful image of *happily* raising a wonderful boy. Or a girl! I don't yet know what we're having. But we're going to kiss it and love it and play with it so much, there won't be opportunity for devil tendencies to emerge. GAH! Must. Get. That. Crappy. Book. OUT of my head!!

I will think of birth, and hikes, and international travel with the baby, and kisses and hugs and silly jokes. Yay!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

catching up!

I'm sitting here wiping away tears because dumb msn popped up a video preview of the movie about United flight 93 (which crashed in PA on 9/11). Right after I happily watched the preview of "The Notorious Bettie Page"!

I think I still have some stress about it, and probably around most of my time in DC. As I've told my friends, there could not have been a more stressful time to be a law student in Washington DC than 2000-2003. (election madness, 9/11, blizzards, the sniper, murders, crazy drug dealing prostitute hermaphrodite downstairs neighbor, and law school craziness itself...)

Or I could just be more susceptible to it because I'm pregnant! Fortunately I think I am moving past the nausea part of pregnancy and into the hungry part, which I have really been looking forward to. :) Is there anyone else in the East Bay who is in their late twenties and pregnant? Anyone, anyone?

I'm loving the Berkeley Parents Network. An amazing trove of wisdom.

Friday, February 10, 2006

This is a great summary of responses to uninformed myths about feminism. I am so glad I'm at a point in life where I don't have to fight to be who I am; I can simply be.

Even better than the post are the comments following!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Parity, comity

It's funny how the homophones of these legal-ish words (parity, comity) mean something far more amusing...

I am envisioning pregnancy and labor and delivery and our new family member. It is not helping that I've bookmarked more pregnancy and mothering websites than any other kind. I've read tons of birth stories and watched L & D slideshows and daydreamed of the births I attended as a doula. As often as not, we're brainstorming (and laughing about) possible names.

By the way, if you ever need a good laugh, look up your local hospital's baby registry. There are some hilarious name choices - including but not limited to: Rowdy (two of them born at the same hospital); Lucifer (yikes); Pheaktra (pronounced Petra, and it's a boy- this one shared by a friend who's a teacher); N Dogg (seriously)...

I am thinking of having the photographer who did our engagement pictures do more family pictures for us- while I'm pregnant, possibly at the birth (if she does those live action kinds of shots) and definitely after the new family member's here. She is so talented (here's some of her work), and it would be amazing to have those moments captured artistically and clearly.

Oh, and, yes, bar studying is going well. I'm thinking of that as another little member of the family for whom I have to labor and deliver. But it doesn't make for good photography...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"She surely hopes for beautiful things..."

from Mudpuppy on Indiebride's blog. It is so how I feel today. But not in a shiny-eyed, breathless way. Unless you count the tears and sobs as "shiny-eyed" and "breathless." I have not been able to contain this terrible yearning to do the right thing with my life and career. Motherhood is part of it. And human rights are part of it, and writing and creation are part of it. My husband is my best friend; he is part of *me*.

That is all I know.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"What's up?" "Oh, not much..."

How do I really answer that? The bar exam's coming, we might be trying to conceive, and (or?) I will be job hunting, and we want to think about where we'll move once this apartment gets too small. Who wants to overwhelm the casual questioner, though. So, all that merits an "Oh, not much."

I guess if I break it down, the bar's first. Who knows about how the getting-pregnant versus getting-a-job thing will go. I don't! That's somewhat scary. But I think it will all work out.

To be honest... I hope it works out better for me than it did for my mom. She had my sibling and me, and didn't really go back to nursing. She did work outside the house part time, off and on, while I was in school, but it wasn't doing anything she cared about. I know she loved being a mom more than anything else, and I can see that happening with me, but I also know that I didn't get all this education to not use it and contribute to the world in that way, too. What a struggle.

Edited to add: I just read Opinionista's blog, and there's an entry that totally speaks to this. Apparently, she had an argument with a friend of hers who, at 23, is a mother. Opinionista is climbing the corporate law ladder. As she tells it, they ended up making snide remarks at each other for their life choices, and then confessed their unhappiness and fears around their *own* lives.

Which, I think, pretty much sums it up. There's no perfect answer; there are always compromises. We make our choices, and there are always things we lose. But this is a culture in which we are trained to see what we don't have, so that we're always wanting more. It's unusual to be grateful for what we do have. Sure- if you choose the corporate law job on partner track, you're not going to be there for many important moments of your kids' lives. If you choose to be a stay at home parent, you're not going to rise in the ranks of corporate America, and you likely won't be making the money or enjoying the status that accompanies such positions. Gain and loss go hand in hand, and that's all right. People make their own choices about what's important.

I don't need to have it all. I don't need to feel guilty for the choices I make if I'm happy with those choices. I don't need to judge others for their choices.

And knowing that is really empowering. I don't have to do *everything*, I can just do what I want to create the life I want. It's definitely going to be different from others, but that's what makes life interesting, right?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

another pre-parenting thought

I was just reading finslippy's blog and it was all about what a picky eater her son Henry was.

Big Disclaimer: I am not yet a parent!! (I can see all the parents out there, shaking their heads, laughing knowingly, evilly-- she has no idea what's coming! She has all these big ideas and they're going to go down the tube! MWAHAHAHA... Hmm... or maybe people are much more supportive than that... I can always hope. Anyway!!)

Living here in Berkeley, I don't know what I'll do if I have a picky eater kid. I mean, when they're old enough to tell me that they're being picky. This would definitely have to be It, The End. Because (and we are grateful) there are a lot of choices available in markets. And as a last resort, there are lots of delicious restaurants trying to outdo each other in quality and originality and presentation and wine pairing. Not that the kid will be wine pairing. (This is a joke. We could not afford to take the kid out to restaurants every night- unless the kid turns out to be so damn cute that we get offered free meals as we pass. Hey, this a blog, with silly daydreams, not a fact-filled textbook.) But come on- if the kid can't find *something* to eat around here, the kid is not eating.

Wait a minute. That's not a bad idea. I just can't see myself doing that power struggle thing every. single. night. I'm pretty patient, but my slightly embaressing revelation is that I can totally see myself trying this out: "Eat what's in front of you, kid!" Obviously, this is reserved for when the kid is old enough to converse. (I *can* see the following (scary) toddler scenario, which is what so many other parents on finslippy bemoaned--parent: "Eat it! Please eat it! I'm begging you, eat it! I'm threatening you, eat it!" kid: (lips tightly shut, looking smug) "Mm! Mm!" (Not as in "yummy" but as in "NO NO, with every ounce of my small being, woman, I say NO!"))

Ack, what to *do*?

There were 275 comments after her post about Henry's pickiness, all mentioning their kids' rules about what they will and will not eat, and making their kids separate dinners depending on what each wants. I am also worried about their descriptions of commercials on tv which make their kids beg for the product(toys, processed "food" products, etc.).

I swear, unless they pop out of my womb with an advanced degree in nutrition clutched in their tiny fists, they are not making the rules about what is eaten in our household, and I am not making separate meals for them. (3,487th disclaimer: I mean when they're past babyfood.) I know this is where the parents reading this roll their eyes, but I'm hoping someone will write to say "We made rules and they worked! Sometimes we made rules and had to rewrite the rules! It's all good; we now have an articulate, compassionate and well-fed child."

We're anticipating/hoping that not having tv really cuts down on the whining and begging for *things.* Obviously there may be whining based on what they know their friends own, but D and I are pretty impervious to that. We don't want to negotiate on certain things with our future kids. We want to just decide what's necessary, what's fun and ok to have, and what's superfluous. And then stick with that.

Man, reading this over... D and I are very friendly people, but ours is definitely going to be a rules-based household! If you met us, you might not think that since we're pretty easygoing (so we're told!). Ah, it's all different in parenting-land.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Another two woots for my husband

There are more reasons than I can write about why my husband is SO COOL. But here's another one: he tells me that we are all made of stardust. (He was explaining how that song is true...not that we like the song. Or really, any poppy music. Why does popular music really suck these days. Where are the artists. That's another post.) The reason it's not cliche, trite or maudlin when he says it is because he's also a really brilliant physicist. And he described it to me in terms of cosmology and physics (for a layperson). We became people and they became stars.

Last night he was wrestling with Mathematica. He was writing some program to teach chaos theory to his students in computational physics. He showed me what he came up with, something about oscillation and then you change one little thing and then suddenly it's all over the place. He loved it. He stayed up until 3:00 am preparing notes and the lecture for his students.

This is why he's allowed to say things like "we're stardust!" with wonderment without me rolling my eyes. Because he's crazy brilliant and hardworking.

Also- he is SO excited to have kids because he's excited to teach them. It makes me happy that we both want to be active in our children's learning and development. Especially since they're very likely going to public schools. (Don't get me wrong- we think the public schools around here are great, many good opportunities.) The kids are going to be stimulated. He claims that by the time they're sixteen or so, they're going to have heard everything we can teach them. Then they'll surpass us and we can sit back while they give us presentations and teach *us*. (He laughed when he said that.) :) Not that they won't be teaching us the whole time...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

thinking about parenting

Parenting can be so individual. Everyone has their ideas about what's best, and many people will start an argument based on what they think is the prevailing theory of the day. There's so much judging out there. Ok, true enough, there are plenty of inattentive, materialistic, self-absorbed or just plain negligent parents, especially in this culture which doesn't support or value the family (I'm talking about *real* family values, which generally clash with corporate America's lusty needs- and the Congresspeople beholden to corpAm.).

But when it comes to how and how much to love my babies, I'm not going to let anyone's judgment bother me. Derek and I are going to parent the best we can (and I'm deeply grateful to be partners with him in this). We've already talked a lot about some decisions: we're going to co-sleep in some form, we think attachment parenting is sensible, we've eliminated tv from our household, and we're going to eat well thanks to living next to a wonderful grocery store. It's not a chain store, so we have the freshest local organic options for cheap. Don't think we're not grateful every single day for this! We're very blessed.

And also, we were very intentional about making some sacrifices/choices to live here, to raise kids the way we think is best. We don't have much money, so we had to prioritize some things. Quality of family life is one major reason I moved back here from DC (even though at the time I hadn't met my husband, I knew I wanted to have a family here).

The kids are going to eat well (ha, back to eating) because that's a fundamental value for us- the broad politics of food are deeply important to us. I believe passionately in the principles of Slow Food. I've been reading Mothering a little bit these days- there are some really nice birth stories on there.

In essence, I want to raise my kids to be inquisitive, sensitive, rigorous and thorough thinkers. I want them to have fun and be silly and run around outside a lot. I'm so grateful that my husband and I agree on how to go about this.

I guess the bottom line is, no matter how other people choose to parent, I'm going to take responsibility for my decisions. And I'm not going to let others' opinions or guilt trips negatively affect my mothering. I'll take into account the good advice and chuck the rest without batting an eyelash. It feels really good to believe in my plans.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Remedies says, "You scratch my back & I'll...higher..."

Remedies was one of my favorite classes in law school. I even liked the title- "Remedies." It seemed to say, "You know all that crap you learned the past couple of years? All that stuff people do to each other, all the crimes and torts and breaches and whatnot? Well, I'm here to say, there are some remedies. Let me show you." I liked that. It was a class with personality.

Property, on the other hand, property had no personality. Property tried to be cool ("Look! I've got magic language! All you have to do is say 'livery in seisin!' and voila!"). But Property was not cool. Property would never, ever write poetry or even some bad fiction. Property would never try to express itself. Property watched lots of tv, kept up on celebrity gossip, and always fixed its hair according to the gospel of the biggest Hollywood actor. In other words, Property was boring as hell.

And international human rights law, and international business and human rights? They said, "Fuck all y'all. We're busy over here!" I loved them. They were totally exciting, beautiful, and fabulous, and didn't even care what anyone thought. They'd make up a song, put on lip gloss, wear a power suit or forget to get a haircut for a year. Didn't matter- they looked damn good doing it.

So back to remedies- I'm enjoying remedies today, and I've got the windows wide open, the radio on.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

heaven in the bread aisle

It's a smeary gray rainy day in the Bay Area. The patch of blue sky this morning was all the sky I saw all day. I walked out of my apartment and over to the corner grocery store, which is always packed because it is magical.

The people who work there can be really gruff, but if you ask them about which set of pomegranates are the best, or which type of potatoes are freshest (out of the 22 or so available) they will tell you happily, and make you think they've let you in on a big secret, which always feels good. Of course, everything there is fresh and fabulous, but it's never a mistake to make friends with the local grocer when you're a food lover.

So, I hit upon the bread aisle and the most delicious fragrant freshly baked bread was there, and we were there together, me and the bread, and it all made sense. Of course I had to take home the sweet baguette and three mini ciabattas to make on the panini grill tonight.

And when I walked home in the light rain, fresh baguette melting in my mouth, I felt like I'd had a little success.