Thursday, January 28, 2010

into the wild- how birth was

Why am I thinking about labor and delivery right now? Who knows, except that this is the time of year in 2006 and 2008 that I got pregnant. Also, Twitarded had a post about KStew (Kristin Stewart) and that made me think of Into the Wild and that made me think about this amazing quote in a movie filled with amazing quotes.

This quote from "Into the Wild" captures a lot about how I felt about the whole pregnancy labor delivery process:

The sea's only gifts are harsh blows, and occasionally the chance to feel strong. Now I don't know much about the sea, but I do know that that's the way it is here. And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong. To measure yourself at least once. To find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions. Facing the blind death stone alone, with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.

I remarked to Derek that it seems like so many people pursue this experience, testing ourselves and experiencing our limits, and going beyond them. I remember feeling like dance classes with my old school teacher Mr. Savage were like that.

Labor and delivery were definitely that experience for me, the most extreme experience of pain without injury I've ever had. That's why I did it without meds, not because of some masochistic need to prove myself (I am pro-analgesic for pain!), but because it has a unique potential for transcendance. I thought I might die, I thought I heard my parents conversing near me (they weren't), I thought the room I was laboring in was cavernous (it was tiny). Weirdly enough, Derek experienced those things as well, as he supported me (except thinking he was dying). Maybe the me before babies did die. Or maybe me as a mother was born.

It sounds like there was a lot of thinking going on, but there was also a lot of letting go. That was one of the greatest gifts of the process, letting go of any ability to "handle" pain or control the experience. I mean, I could hum and breathe and vocalize all I wanted, I could turn up the hot water and I could visualize (mostly I saw a train coming at me with each contraction), but the fact was, there was no escape from the pain, pure and simple. No escape at all.

I kind of love that, facing something for what it is. Just facing it. A good lesson for life everyday.

Friday, January 22, 2010

new haircuts!

I gave Sabrina her first haircut yesterday.

Before (with Nana combing her curls):



And after!


Isn't it ridiculously cute?  I just can't stop kissing her.

I decided to try my hand at giving myself bangs too.  Don't tell Tina, the most fabulous stylist in the world whom I haven't seen for way too long now.



Not too bad!  And yep, I'm wearing my MomsRising "Stop Maternal Profiling" t shirt. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

got a new camera!

Oh hai! (Yep, that sure is linked to icanhazcheezburger because I know you were seeing "oh hai!" all over the internetz and wondering where the hell that was from. Maybe that was just me. But now you know too!)

Oh hai!  I got the new camera I've been dreaming about for about two, three years now.  We've been making do with our old Kodak EasyShare CX7430 which we've had for half a decade.  And actually, it was taking not bad pictures.  But it was starting to get confused, changing settings on me randomly, and starting to look a little haggard.  These things happen.

kodak easyshare c875 Pictures, Images and Photos
(looked a little like this, but ten times more beat up and maybe three years older)

So I started looking into digital SLRs.  I know I know.  How can one go from Camera For Beginners to Super Advanced Pro camera in one shot?

Well, long story short, I didn't. Derek convinced me to go for a happy medium. So I looked and I looked, and I found the Canon Powershot SD 1200 IS Digital Elph.  Such a fun little camera and it takes great shots.

CANON POWERSHOT SD1200 Pictures, Images and Photos

There are only a couple of small drawbacks:
- the menu and screens are not intuitive.
- though I'm doing the press-halfway-down thing, I still sometimes get blurry pics. This camera is really sensitive to doing that.
- the Canon online service SUCKS--Fail.  Maybe it's because I use Google Chrome (woot! fast!) as my browser, but I don't think so because I've gotten it to work on Chrome before. ?? Customer service by phone, happily, was fast and easy and it worked to get me into my account, so that kind of offsets the clunky online album storage.

But I'm generally really excited about the camera itself. With a 4G memory card, it holds well over 1000 photos- probably more like 1400- and plenty of movie time.  You'll see the results in the next few posts.

Would LOVE to hear what kind of cameras you all have, whether you like them, whether you're thinking of an upgrade! Post in comments!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How to help Haiti

Took one look at the first pictures that came out of Haiti and literally stood stock still.  Then realized I'm supposed to know what to do, being an advocate for a living and all.  And realized that giving money actually is useful-- there are good and great organizations that get money flowing in the right directions to staunch the seemingly overwhelming flow of disaster.  And each of us individually is needed.  As written below, "We each have a nearly endless capacity to stretch our hearts when the need arises."

The need has arisen indeed.

From MomsRising:
Our hearts go out to the women, children, and all people of Haiti who are suffering in the wake of the recent earthquake.  Many of our members are asking how they can help out.  We've been told that cash donations to humanitarian organizations that are working in Haiti are the most efficient and effective way to help the relief effort in Haiti right now. They allow humanitarian organizations to purchase (often within the affected region itself) the exact type and quantity of items needed by those affected by the crisis.

If you're interested in helping out families in Haiti immediately, here are some organizations to which you can contribute:

- You can contribute online to the Red Cross here: https://american.redcross.org/site/Donation2?4306.donation=form1&idb=1258680681&df_id=4306&JServSessionIdr004=k1o23ghjt4.app196a  (You can also donate $10 to be charged to your cell phone bill by texting "HAITI" to "90999")

- Donations to Doctors Without Borders can be made here: https://donate.doctorswithoutborders.org/SSLPage.aspx?pid=197&hbc=1?ref=main-menu

- In addition, you can also find more ways to help through the Center for International Disaster Information, or through USAID's interactive website, which has a list of NGOs and instructions on how to help.

We each have a nearly endless capacity to stretch our hearts when the need arises.  This is a critical time to help children and families in crisis.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I did it- I saw Avatar

8:00 PM, a Wednesday evening.  I sneak out as D finishes up the girls' bath/bed routine.  I am going to see Avatar!

8:15 PM. L and I can get tickets for Avatar (regular), Avatar (3D), Avatar (IMAX), Avatar (3D IMAX). Oops, IMAX is sold out. L's research shows that the IMAX screen isn't great anyway.  We get tix for the 3D show-- and the cool glasses that go with it.

There are not your Captain EO paper 3D glasses.  They're hard black plastic, sort of like those cheesy Raybans featured on stuffwhitepeoplelike right now.

And I have my a-ha moment about why this film has already made over $1 BILLION.  Because people are paying at least twice the normal amount for tons of these shows.  I paid $15.  If you go to see this in 3D or IMAX, you're going to pay a lot more.  And then you're probably going to be wowed and come back and bring ten friends with you.

8:30 PM.  Previews. Yawn!  Why do they assume that I want to see ONLY action movie previews?  Avatar audiences might skew that way, or might have at first, but they have to know with this many people seeing it, it's going to be attracting MORE than just the 13 yr old boy crowd.  Some of whom, including 13 yr old boys, want to see previews that aren't CrazyExplosions 3.

And nobody wants to see Tom Cruise coolly pulling out guns, wisecracking with a yelping Cameron Diaz. Yikes.

8:36.  Wait! Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland preview-- in 3D!  Now this is very cool.  This is trippy and it totally should be trippy.  Alice in Wonderland is such a freaky story, and Johnny Depp is such a great Mad Hatter.

[NOTE- this timeline is probably way off.]

8:40 ish.  Main characters introduced. Main good guy (Jake Sully- yes really) seems to have a Boston-ish accent?  Or is that just an Australian-inflected American accent? Main bad guy seems to have a Southern accent.  Ah, the Mason Dixon line never really vanished.  (Seriously-- anyone living in the DC area right now could attest to this.)

Basic basic story- planet has very valuable mineral humans want. Humans can't live in this atmosphere, so we create 'avatars' -- bodies that look and function like the planet's native population, but are controlled by a human remotely.

Sigourney Weaver is the lead scientist, and though I usually love her, I have to say this performance didn't do much for me.  I didn't get all the cigarette smoking (?! in a place where your created atmosphere is so valuable? And isn't smoking so twentieth century anyway?), and the weird random anger.

8:50 ish. They pull out the cool movie effects early, with gorgeous 3D effects of computer imaging onscreen that we can only imagine now (at least at the home computing level).  I won't give away much, but the best 3D effects are in the forest, where you can practically feel the ferns brush past, see the lovely frail flowers.  Happily, you get to spend a lot of time in the forest.  The very best is nighttime in the forest-- pretty magical even if it weren't in 3D.  Do I sound SO geeky by now?

But the audience literally gasped at the first major nighttime forest scene.

9:00 ish.  L pulls out a lovely bottle of drinky, taking advantage of the theater's policy that you CAN bring your own covered drink to the theater.

9:15 ish. Ohp...it's Michelle Rodriguez playing a tough girl.  Wha-? You too might be surprised at this.  How can such a sweet, shy type... ok, I can't pull off sarcasm that long.  Yep, she's in law enforcement again.

Also, early introduction to some of the weapons and tools.  Here's where I got my first inkling of a homage-to-plus-besting-of Star Wars.  There's a thing that's like an Imperial Walker, but you can see the person driving it, so it makes the violence more personal (foreshadowing!).  Very easy to compare this thing to the avatars and realize we're talking about brute force versus diplomacy.

Jake gets into a scrape, looks like a boorish fool with a giant gun.  Over the course of the movie, starts to look less boorish.  I have to hand it to James Cameron-- if you're inclined to hate the guy at the beginning, you'll be impressed by his journey by the end.  And if you're inclined to like him from the start, you'll be with him through his epiphanies.

...

11: 10 PM. Finis!  A bottle clatters on the floor.  Not ours! By the end of the film, Cameron has hit you over the head a couple times with his themes, but it feels satisfying because the whole movie is kind of a battering ram of fun.

If you're thinking about finding out what all the fuss is about, my rec is to go for it in 3D.  If you'd rather not pay for it in 3D, then you might as well just wait for it to come out on video because without the visual effect of 3D, the story/plot isn't quiiiite enough (in my opinion) to make it worth seeing on the big screen.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

a more complete attention

"A different quality of attention" is a perfect way to describe how I enter 2010.  This bit from Sharon Salzburg describes why:
Mindfulness enables us to cultivate a different quality of attention, one where we relate to what we see before us not just as an echo of the past, or a foreshadowing of the future, but more as it is right now.

Making the effort to truly see someone doesn’t mean we never respond or react or take very strong action to try to settle the matter of dinner. We can and do attempt to restore a failing marriage, protest loud cell phones in public places, or try, with everything in us, to rectify injustice. But we can do it from a place that allows people to be as textured as they are, and that admits our feelings to be as varied and flowing as they are. A place open to surprises. A place that listens, that lets the world come alive.

--Sharon Salzburg, Winter 2009 Tricycle daily dharma

An interesting way to approach relationships- with my spouse, my daughters, my parents, my online friends, strangers on the street.

Maybe especially with online friendships, it's so important to listen and to never ever assume that an email or post has a "tone"-- it's so easy to assume something sounds angry, or curt, when the writer doesn't intend that.  I never read anything into emails!  Life is much clearer this way, when you let people articulate their feelings and listen with mindfulness.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

love in reality-- versus Twilight!

12/31/2009- Where was I?  Getting ready for a fabulous party?  Cozying up with the little ones?  Making resolutions?  Nope, nope, and nope.

I was in the tiny OR at Kaiser Oakland, with Mr. WordyDoodles who was there to get a colonoscopy to remove some polyps, including one that's possibly pre-cancerous.

W.T.F.???  He's 33 years old.  The doc who'd done the sigmoidoscopy the day before said he was the third person under 50 she had EVER seen with this issue.

I'm grateful that we finally caught this, after 15 years of Mr. W wondering about his GI tract and 15 years of doctors saying it's probably nothing.  Probably they would have been right, except that he happened to lay on the wrong side of the stats.

I'm grateful-- but let me tell you, watching someone down a gallon of Colyte and then two laxatives after already not eating for 24 hours and already having done 3 enemas the night before, it's just wrenching.  But that's what a supportive loving partner does, the whole patting the back and offering Jell-O and pouring the Sprite.

I couldn't believe we were actually discussing this.  Suddenly, inexplicably, I was thinking of how annoyed I was that Edward of Twilight would never face cancer, pre-cancerous polyps, or even an upset stomach.  Then I got to thinking about all the annoying little details of life that those characters Edward and Bella didn't experience:

- learning to latch a newborn on
- afterpains!
- diaper changing
- constant care of a newborn
- the toddler years (because Renesmee magically skips over that and has the gentle wisdom of a thousand year old sage, and never has any toddler moments.  This part really annoyed me!)
- general aches, pains, true medical maladies (thirsting after human blood does not count)
- debts, costs, bills

Well, that simplifies things for those crazy newlyweds, huh? Grumble grumble.  I really have to finish some actual literature.  Still working on Atwood's Blind Assassin.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Wake Up, This is Reality!

Count on the fine women at Fem2pt0 to tell it like it is.  If you're not already following Gloria Pan on Twitter, I highly recommend her/Fem2pt0 for "society's issues + women's voices."

So I was thrilled to see that they're sponsoring a blog radio series AND a blog carnival on the very topic we were discussing recently on this blog, on a post about Morning Mika's choices: the topic of work life fit, and how it's a systemic problem, not just an individual's issue.

Fem2pt0 is making a comprehensive examination of the topic. Here's what's on offer-- what do you think? Are there pieces of the dialogue not addressed here?  Pieces you're looking forward to?  Are you going to participate in the blog carnival?

I love how they've articulated this:



We work long hours. We work multiple jobs. We can barely afford healthcare, or we’re doing without. We’re stitching together childcare, or we’re sending our kids to school with H1N1.
We exert ourselves to be good spouses, sons and daughters, parents, members of our community, friends - in snatched moments from being good but insecure employees.
And while we may talk amongst ourselves about hard it is to manage it all, perhaps we feel that this is just life and try to muddle through as best we can, on our own
…leaving the professional media to define the outlines of America’s work/life story, which has not evolved significantly beyond the 1950’s idea of employee benefits, dad at the office and mom at home — a story that has little to do with our lives today.
Fem2.0’s campaign, Wake Up, This Is the Reality!, aims to change the way our society talks about work, to shift the story away from privileged "balance" and corporate perspectives to one that reflects the reality on the ground for millions of Americans and American families. We need this shift if we want policy makers to know how tough it is out here and move them to act on legislation around such issues as paid sick days, healthcare, child and elder care, equal pay, etc.
To achieve this shift, we must be many and we must be LOUD.
From January 25 to February 5, 2010, Fem2.0 will present a blog radio series - one program a day, each zooming in on how today’s work environment and policies are impacting a particular community. The series’ purpose is to demonstrate how work/life is NOT just a women’s issue but everyone’s issue. There will be more details about each segment very soon.
 
I. Working Title: Work and Families - How We’re Doing
Monday, January 25, 11:30 AM EST
Host: Gloria Pan
Heather Boushey, Senior Economist, Center for American Progress
Elisa Camahort Page, Co-Founder, BlogHer
Joan Williams, Director, Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings
 
II. Working Title: Work/Life and Men
Tuesday, January 26, 1:00 PM EST
Host: Marc Chimes
Scott Coltrane, Dean, University of Oregon; Author, Gender and Families
Hugo Schwyzer, Blogger, hugoschwyzer.net   
Joan Williams, Director, Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings
 
III. Working Title: Work/Life and the LGBT Community
Wednesday, January 27, 1:00 PM EST
Host: Heather Holdridge
Jaime Grant, Director of the Policy Institute, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Jillian Weiss, Blogger, The Bilerico Project; Associate Professor of Law and Society, Ramapo College
 
IV. Working Title: Work/Life and Business
Thursday, January 28, 1:00 PM EST
Host: Joanne Bamberger
Deborah L. Frett, CEO, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation
Kathy Korman Frey, Founder, Hot Mommas Project, George Washington University
 
V. Working Title: Work/Life and Singletons
Friday, January 29, 11:30 AM EST
Host: Marcia Yerman
Page Gardner, Founder, Women’s Voices, Women Vote
Lisa Maatz, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations, AAUW
Melanie Notkin, Founder, Savvy Auntie
 
VI. Working Title: Work/Life and Latino Families
Monday, February 1, 1:00 PM EST
Host: Veronica Arreola
Ana Roca Castro, Founder, Latinos in Social Media
Catherine Singly, Economic and Employment Policy Analyst, National Council of La Raza
Marisa Treviño, Publisher, www.latinalista.net 
 
VII. Working Title: Work and Seniors
Tuesday, February 2, 1:00 PM EST
Host: Kim Gandy
Ronnie Bennett, Blogger, Time Goes By
Deborah Halpern, Communications Director, National Family Caregivers Association
Deborah Russell, Director of Workplace Issues, AARP
 
VIII. Working Title: Work/Life and the Military
Wednesday, February 3, 1:00 PM EST
Host: Katie Stanton
Stephanie Himel-Nelson, Director of New Media, Blue Star Families
LAW, Blogger, Liberal Army Wife
Diana Zuckerman, President, National Research Center for Women and Families
 
IX. Working Title: Work/Life and African-American Families
Thursday, February 4, 1:00 PM EST
Host: Shireen Mitchell
Avis Jones-DeWeever, Director of Research & Policy, Center for African-American Women, National Council of Negro Women
JusticeFergie, Co-Founder, Blogalicious
 
X. Working Title: Reframing the Work/Life Conversation
Friday, February 5, 1:00 PM EST
Host: Suzanne Turner
Ellen Bravo, Executive Director, Family Values @Work
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director, Momsrising.org
TBD Lawmaker
 
The blog radio series is designed to build momentum toward broad participation in the Wake Up, This Is the Reality! blog carnival, unfolding February 6 to 13, 2010. The carnival will span diverse sectors and communities to show that we’re all in this together, and reach from organized advocacy down to the grassroots of everyday people. We’re working to flood the public space with blog posts, opinions and real, personal stories about what it’s like to work in America today.
 
We Need Your Voice!


Here’s how you can get involved:
 
1) Help us get the word out! Share this page on Twitter, Facebook and any other communities you belong to.

2) Participate in the live-chat and/or Twittercasts (#fem2 and #worklife) happening during each of the blog talk radio segments. Download the podcast from each segment and share it with your networks.
3) Contribute a post to the blog carnival, either through your own blog or directly to Fem2.0. Send links and/or blog posts to info@fem2pt0.com.
4) Join this list of organizations and blog sites that will be holding their own concurrent work blog carnivals that feed into the larger Fem2.0 effort. Email info@fem2pt0.com to let us know and we’ll add you to the list!

life is so much easier when...

This post is about three little luxuries that are worth it-- things that make life SO much easier.

1. A vacuum just for upstairs. Target recently had a vacuum sale, and I picked up a lightweight Hoover for $99. It's more than a stick but less than heavy duty. WHAT a difference! Now that I don't have to lug a heavy vacuum up and down the stairs, I'm vacuuming every other day upstairs. Both girls have had a persistent cough, which is was the tipping point for me to make the purchase.

SO worth it if you have an upstairs and downstairs.

2. Diapers and wipes by mail. This goes for cloth or paper diapers. We cloth diapered for a couple years using a delivery service before trusting our washer/dryer to do the job. It was so worth it! As Paloma transitioned out of those and as both girls used paper diapers occasionally for outings and for overnight, it was useful to have some of those on hand too. Getting 7 Gen diapers and wipes through Amazon.com's subscription service is great-- you get a discount and they come at whatever interval you set: monthly, every three months, etc. You'll never be out of wipes, and you can cancel whenever.

3. A phone company with outstanding customer service saves time and frustration.  I heart CredoMobile. I love being a Credo customer, enough to pimp them on my own personal blog. They don't know I'm writing this, there's no gifts or services being passed to me.  I'm just writing it because it's a pain in the butt to be stuck on hold or (maybe worse) talking with a totally unhelpful customer service rep who's just trying to get you off the phone or doesn't understand your issue. Yes, it has happened to me.  I have to say, it's so great to call Credo custserv, get a real person who's actually friendly and knowledgeable, and be done and on my way, problem solved, in like 10 minutes or less.  Plus, they support all sorts of good causes.  I don't consider this one a luxury, I consider it a necessity-- a sanity saver.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sunset.com- Sea Glass Style!

I love the color aqua. I was excited when I learned that it was one of Julia Morgan's favorite colors too, and that she included subtle touches of it in her architecture-- including at the fabulous Berkeley City Club, where we had our wedding reception.

But Sunset.com's article "Sea Glass Style" takes the beauty of aqua to a whole new level. The two page spread features a kitchen inspired by sea glass. This manifests in a gorgeous aqua Big Chill refrigerator, what looks like an aqua Wedgwood stove, and a breathtaking variations-on-aqua tile backsplash. All set against the brightest white cupboards and walls you've ever seen, grounded with a gorgeous pine floor.

The design lesson for me here is that going for color is possible and can look great if you've got a palette that's consistent. The sea glass colors are gorgeous-- I especially love the matching aqua fridge and stove. I think those large matching elements anchor the variations found in the rest of the room. They don't look TOO matchy matchy to me, just enough to keep everything together.

I'm keeping all this in mind as we house hunt. It can really help a small kitchen become a room with a personality.