Sunday, November 18, 2012

No Topic Does Not Mean Boring

I apologize for my absence lately. I was so sure that NABLOPOMO would be helpful to my writing more often, and I suppose, in terms of how often I post, it has. But it's not like I'd win the award for posting every day or anything.

This is going to have to be some random, stream of consciousness post I guess, since I don't really have a topic.

I'm already planning for Christmas. We aren't Rockefellers so we are going to have to budget a bit and all, which can put a damper on things when you go off all excited and half-cocked like I do, and then realize that you can't actually buy your child everything you'd like to - but I think that's just normal and makes for a creative strategy. For one thing, I'm already thinking of ways to decorate and give gifts that are inexpensive and awesome but that won't break the bank or kill Alice (since everything needs to be eaten apparently).

One of the traditions that my family began a few years ago is drawing names for Christmas. This totally saves money. But my sister and I were commiserating that it's not as much fun as when we would buy a gift for everyone. Mainly because we find it entertaining and fun to be like, oooohhhh....what would be a good gift for so-and-so, and then get that. It was like a treasure hunt. Some people are not like us, and so drawing a name is easy. And it does save us a TON of money, better spent on things like college funds and rent. But after years of finding something for everyone (we didn't spend a ton of money or anything on each person, it could be something as simple as a cute hat or chocolate we know that person loves), it feels almost Grinch-like to NOT look for everyone. Which is why having a child is going to be awesome, because I am hoping she will not be a Grinch and I will have a companion throughout the year who will be like "Daddy would LOVE this! It's on sale now, let's get it and save it for Christmas!" And of course, I will do that for her. Hopefully, we will manage to afford a sibling or two for her or all my Christmas gift giving energy will make her spoiled.

Other thoughts: Christmas isn't just about giving gifts. We have already begun the tradition (Nick and I) of having a nice dinner together as a "gift" to each other. Usually we eat out and get dressed up. That's the fun part - we get dressed up, we spend time together and we eat good food. We also always donate a book or two to Child Start or whoever Barnes and Noble is involved with - Alice has already donated a book this year. We plan on teaching her to put change in the Salvation Army buckets and to put a can or two or more of food in baskets for food banks. And of course, to pick out a toy for the Angel Tree (or the equivalent).

I am so excited to start our own family traditions with Alice and introduce her to traditions from both Nick and I's families too. Christmas Lights, and Christmas music, and hot cocoa. Decorating. Baking cookies. Waiting for Santa. None of these are of the give or get category and are things I LOVED and still LOVE about Christmas. (Maybe waiting for Santa, but it's really the anticipation, not the get part). You'll notice I don't add going to church anywhere there. Personally, I still miss hearing the choir sing on Christmas Eve mass. I miss walking in the cold to get to church at night, and enjoying the stars, and knowing that we'd get to sing, and then going home to open ONE present and talking with my sister about when Santa would come. But we're letting Alice choose when she's an adult about religion and her beliefs so we won't be doing that right away. And then, only if she gets curious and asks to go. But this is definitely the time of year I actually MISS being Catholic. I think some of it is wrapped up in good childhood memories. Okay, all of it is. Alice will have a ton of other traditions that will influence her later in life. So I'm comfortable with that particular decision. Still, Catholic mass at Andale on Christmas Eve was the BEST time to be Catholic.

What's really nice (and somewhat sad) is that this year we'll be spending Christmas Eve with Nick's family doing their gift exchange and dinner and my family will have a separate day sometime afterwards to do our gift exchange. Which means that on Christmas Day we have no place to hurry up and BE. So we can wake up when Alice does and open gifts at our leisure and take lots of pictures and have a special breakfast together. And then we can have a nap perhaps and get dressed and head over to the Wyant family's Christmas Day lunch or whatever whenever we feel we're ready. Very relaxed. Which is nice when you have an almost one year old.

An ALMOST. ONE. YEAR. OLD!!! WTH?!! How did my tiny newborn become an almost toddler already? Wasn't I just in labor? On Christmas she will be 9 days away from being one. ONE! I can't wrap my brain around that. But that means that I am now in birthday planning mode as well. I still haven't completely settled on a theme, although I'm down to about 4 options. And my husband is no help at all. "What do you think of this idea?" I'll say and he'll sort of blankly say, "Sounds fun." I did get some emotion when I presented the girly-girl, all-pink birthday theme and incidentally, that one made my list get whittled down to four. But I've got the basics down: cake, decorations, guest list, etc. I just have to plug in all the more fun details.

Also - does having a one year old that can (or soon will be able to) walk mean we can set her loose at the park, supervised, run her ragged, and then look forward to her sleeping through the night. Cause that would be pretty awesome. She STILL doesn't consistently sleep well at night. Amazingly, I've relaxed about it because for the most part, I don't feel exhausted anymore and I realize I can't force the issue. She's just who she is, and she already sleeps so much better now that I know things will just improve and pretty soon I won't realize we have been sleeping well for months.

Well...I don't have much else. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Outside My Comfort Zone....Regrets in Life

Sometimes, when I think back on my twenties (especially my college years) I have to actively reassure myself that people change as they grow up, become more responsible, more independent-minded, more self-assured. Okay....usually. And now that I have a daughter, I struggle with worries that I will want to live my life vicariously through hers. I want her to be brave enough to do all the things I wished I'd done back when I wasn't married, or had a kid...back when I was single (but not really happy about it).

So, for this particular post, I thought I'd write about things I regret NOT doing and how my being so well, afraid, of trying or going outside my comfort zone (or worrying too much about what others thought or will think or what have you) has led to my worrying that with my kid(s), I will push them too much in the other direction instead of instilling in them the confidence to choose for themselves which outside their comfort zone activities or choices they want to do. If any.

1. The Peace Corps.- Looking back now, I really wish I'd joined the Peace Corps and spent two years on my own, living in poverty in a totally foreign place and helping people.

2. Enjoyed being single - I was always sad when I didn't have a boyfriend. I don't know why, because when I DID have a boyfriend it was rarely the relationship I have now with my husband. I wish that I had dated - not had a serious relationship, but just gone out on dates with nice guys that I thought were fun and attractive. Being so focused on the whole "finding someone" thing meant that I wasn't looking or was too distracted to focus on things like joining the Peace Corps.

3. Semester Abroad - I could have tried this. I could have immersed myself in a language and a culture and come out of it able to say, "Well, when I lived in Austria (or Spain) I..." because how cool would that be?

4. Been brave enough to be...well...brave. Fearless. Semi-crazy. To go skydiving, or rock climbing, or hiking through the Grand Canyon. Gone to a ballroom dancing class WITH NOT PARTNER! To say, hey, that sounds fun, I should totally try that! And then try it, even if I couldn't get a friend to do it with me.
Note: In some cases, I had spurts of this (usually right after I broke up with a boyfriend and was ecstatic at being "free"or at least making the best of a broken heart) - this is when I tried horseback riding, went white water rafting, went on an Osage Cultural Retreat and tried (and failed) to make Indian Fry bread and did a sweat, questioned religion and philosophy and why I believed what I did.

5. Questioned more...because questioning can be fun! It took some guy breaking up with me because "that's what God wants" for me to start really looking at the things I believed and why - and changing or adapting those beliefs. I'd probably still be blindly doing or believing whatever I'd done/believed in childhood if I hadn't realized that he was an idiot - but an idiot who'd given me the freedom to question.

6. Made more new friends - this used to be so much easier - I had my old friends, but I never really made new, close friends. I can count on one hand the number of close friends I would turn to if I had a major problem, and most of them are friends from grade school - I need to resolve this.

So there you go - it's a sort of silly list and it's not like people go through life without regrets - that's sort of the point. But if you can learn from them and accept them peacefully, life can be so much better.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Kansas Politics

What can I say? As happy as I am to be at home, close to family and close friends, I HATE the politics in this state. And it's not even that it's a Republican state. It's that there appears to be no true discourse. People are very much the conservative, right-wing, Republican that apparently thinks that Democrats, or worse, Liberals, are some evil cabal sent forth from Satan himself. There doesn't seem to be ROOM for other ideas.

Case in point - we now have a legislature that will rubber stamp any thing the governor wants. And what's funny, is that, in this day and age we NEED people that will say "hey, let's think this through!" But that just won't happen. The political process is basically stalled here because there aren't enough people that will fight the rubber stamp process. Of course, the majority has spoken and so I respect that that's what people want (I may not respect WHY they want it or their reasoning, but I do respect that it was their vote and we have to deal with it - much like I hope the Republicans will respect that the people have spoken and now they have to deal with it - nationally). That doesn't mean I'm not worried. My values and my philosophy, if you will, say that an all right-wing Republican government is going to be bad for the state. I think they're too mired in the 1920s or the 1950s, hoping that things will go back to "traditional" society. I have no doubt they think this is a GOOD thing, and when I'm older I will probably look back and think that our generation (the "traditional") was the best.

But it's just not good. It's not good for education. It's not good for the poor. It's not good for women. It's not good for children. Because, on the altar of free market society and the whole idea that the wealthy are wealthy because they are BETTER than others, social programs that benefit the most vulnerable (the poor, children, the working poor, and even the middle-class, etc.) will get axed. And somehow, this is going to create jobs. I am not sure how. I hate to break this to people but Kansas, while having some highlights (beautiful sunsets, wheat, sunflowers, my family and close friends), is not really a place people want to live. Job creators, unless they are already here and have ties, do NOT want to come to a place where the arts and education are considered nothing worth investing in (at least officially....I am aware that individuals consider these things great...just so long as they don't have to pay taxes to support them). Where science is ignored for religious, moral, and fear-based reasons.

And I'm generalizing here, I realize that. But living in a state that is so red that anyone who is even slightly NOT red (pink, maybe?) is considered a socialist, evil, dictator-loving, heathen who will ruin the country if they ever get any kind of power...well, who wants to live in that state?

Then again....we do have awesome sunflowers. And wheat. And my family is here, and they HAVE to love me because of that whole blood ties thing. So maybe I'm just being cynical.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Happy No-More Election Day!

Well, I guess I kind of HAVE to say something about the election. I'm already reading the "Dear God, help us," stuff on Facebook and the whole "this country is now going to fall into disaster and our grandchildren will suffer because we're going to go the way of Greece." I never remember hearing this when Bush was directing us into two unpaid-for wars, but whatever. Now, I reflect on the fact that my guy totally won. And I'm excited and hopeful again, because the Republicans can no longer hold out for their goal of destroying a possible second term for President Obama. He's got his second term. So what will they do - will they actually learn that it's not always going to be "my way or no way and if that dooms the country or ruins its good name, well I don't care." Will they start letting bills come to a vote instead of filibustering every single thing out of spite? Or will they sit up and take notice and work to try to solve the problems that past Congresses and Presidents have caused (and notice, I include Democrats in this - they're/we're not perfect by a long shot).

Will they stop talking out of their asses about rapes and women and maybe re-authorize the Violence Against Women act and help figure out a way to fund processing of rape kits? Will they stop assuming that an insurance mandate for birth control without co-pay will create a nation of sluts and just focus on maybe passing some programs that will help families support the children they already have? Will they start talking about realistic ways to cut the debt and trim programs instead of bowing to the wealthiest of the wealthy and only agree to trickle-down economics? I don't know. I hope so.

This country is heading toward a more progressive future. Last night, in Wisconsin, the first openly gay candidate secured a Senate seat. Claire McCaskill won in Missouri. Elizabeth Warren! I was thrilled - good job Massachusetts, get rid of the Tea Party, what were you THINKING?! The citizens earned my respect when they also voted against the WWE mogul in Connecticut - I just don't think Linda McMahon was the right person for a position in the government when her only accomplishment was making tons of money off sexism, violence, and frankly, stupid entertainment (my opinion!). And Republicans scared off moderate Olympia Snowe of Maine by their extreme intransigence (she retired) - and the state replaced her with an Independent who was the target of majorly negative campaign ads on the part of the Republicans super-Pac. Good job Republicans...I don't know who he'll caucus with, but I'm sure he'll remember that when he's trying to decide! Okay, I HOPE he'll remember that when trying to decide.

Maine and Maryland VOTED for marriage equality, which makes me really hope that in the future, the thought of denying two people of the same sex who love each other the right to get married will be as abhorrent as the thought of denying two people of different races who love each other the right to get married. And Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana. Maybe they'll be an inspiration to us all and make tons of tax money off that move, thus heralding in a new era of a more selective War on Drugs.

Obama carried, from what I can gather in the frantic news cycle, every group under the age of 45 and most of the non-white and women voters. Perhaps the GOP will learn from this. Perhaps not. But they have a problem - they're too eager or willing to let the far right-wing, crazy-ass conservatives (and here I'm talking about the ones who won't budge no matter what and are so far from the majority's ideas that they sound batshit insane to most people in the country) control their party. Put another way - would Eisenhower have ever gotten through the Republican primary with the party today? I seriously doubt it. Moderates aren't evil. Give me a moderate that leans more to the left on social issues and slightly to the right on fiscal issues and I might have trouble making my choice at the polls.

But let me add one final thought. Yesterday, I took my daughter to vote with me. And I was sad, because I didn't see a lot of kids with their parents. I was sad because I don't remember ever going with either of my parents to vote. And my husband and I were talking on the way home about how apathetic people are - how voter turnout is so low. We were thinking that one reason might be that people aren't including their kids in this incredible and important civic responsibility (in some way - maybe your kid couldn't be trusted to behave at the polls or something like that - there are of course, variances). Maybe, if polling places had stickers for kids that said "My mommy/daddy voted" and had a more kid-friendly atmosphere, within reason of course, and the country voted to make Election Day a national holiday, so that no one has to worry about missing even an hour of work to vote, and people could celebrate and make it an awesome, educational, civic pride heavy day, our next generation would grow up thinking it could make a difference. It could take pride in voting and take the country back from the incredible influence of money in politics. Maybe not. Perhaps I'm an idealist.

But I have a lot of hope today.

Next up - I'll be talking Kansas politics. Should be fun.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Mommy Confession

You know, I sometimes like to read mommy blogs and find out what, exactly, other moms are doing right or wrong, or even just to vicariously commiserate with someone I don't know who might be going through the exact same thing I am.

But right now, I am going to put out my OWN mommy confession. Here it is: for the most part (unless she falls asleep in the car) my daughter is STILL being held for naps. This wasn't always the case. I started off trying to get her to sleep in her crib for naps (well, her bassinet at first then her crib). But of course, as a newborn, she didn't want to do that. So she slept in her crib, in my arms until I could lay her down, in her bouncer, in the car, whatever. And then, I started to really try to get her on a schedule so that she would KNOW that it was nap time and she needed to go down in her crib, even if I put her there asleep.

And one day, it worked- I put her down and she had two 90-minute naps. And the next day was okay, but still she slept in her crib. And then came her first cold! My poor baby!!! She didn't feel well and she definitely couldn't breathe. It was miserable for everyone. But I hit upon the solution of holding her while she napped so she could breathe. And she did so much better and got better so much faster with the sleep....only after that, I didn't try very hard to go back to putting her in her crib. I would sit and read my Kindle and she'd sleep, usually 1 1/2 hours or so, and we'd play and all was well. But I felt guilty. She isn't able to sleep with a babysitter or even her father, because I am the only one here during naps and I hold her. She isn't sleeping wonderfully during the night, because I think she thinks eventually I will hold her then. And some of it is just that she is so active now, that I miss all our cuddles from when she was teeny tiny. But that's about my issues, not hers. Plus, I'd really like to get more of my ongoing novel written.

So today, I started, once again, with nap training. She'll be doing a small version of cry it out, which I hate, hate, hate, but which worked well at night when we finally gave in and tried it because she'd been waking up every 45 minutes for weeks! And we got some good long spurts of sleep which was good for everyone. It's not perfect, but I rarely complain.

So now, I am writing this post while watching the clock so I can time when I can go in, and reassure my daughter I am still here and even though things are changing I still love her. I already hate this week.


I kept thinking I'd forgotten something yesterday, but I was so tired I couldn't remember what it was. Then, this morning I realized I'd missed a couple of blog posts. For some reason, I was thinking that I'd written one the afternoon before yesterday so I was only missing one, but alas, no I was wrong. I had missed BOTH Saturday and Sunday.

So now, I will have to come up with TWO blog posts today to make up for it. Or is it three? At any rate, I better come up with some good blog posts in the future.

So here it is. The first blog post is about my failure. Sorry it's so boring. The next one, which I will be writing here in about five minutes, will involve my daughter. Hopefully, that will get me caught up a bit.

NABLOPOMO - how could I fail you already!?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Fall Days

I really love fall - it's my favorite season. I love the idea of cool, crisp days where you don't have to wear a bulky coat but you DO have to wear cute sweaters and boots. Preferably while walking either on a tree-lined sidewalk or in the woods. Wherever leaves are falling and you're holding the hand of that special someone. I love how the light looks and how the air smells fresher. It is in fall that I am the most introspective and creative. I feel inspired to write more (if I had the opportunity, that is)and just think more - about nature, about spirituality, about family and friend, about all sorts of deep things.

And just think about it - in the fall, school starts, there's Halloween, Thanksgiving, my birthday, bonfires and s'mores! All cool things to look forward to when the cooler weather hits.

Anyway, Alice (you knew I'd bring up my daughter eventually, right?) and I went to Botanica today to enjoy the fall weather while we still had the chance. It was slightly warmer than I would have liked, but I went with it. Alice LOVES to be outside - she adores it. We had a picnic in the grass, I talked her out of eating leaves, sticks, and grass and instead eating her yummy baby food and puffs, and then we walked around. Sadly, Botanica had started to turn off their water fountains and such, so there was no playing in the water. But she did get to crawl (with some help from me) up the tree house in the children's garden and we both crawled through a huge log. We even found a small garden area for toddlers and babies with fun books and the Hungry Caterpillar! Alice made a friend or two while we were there - she was very impressed by the little girls pigtails. It was such a nice afternoon.

And while sometimes it's more hard work than it's worth to try to get a baby all packed up to do something that includes lunch and activities and all that, today was not one of those times. Except perhaps, for Alice, who didn't get to eat grass, leaves, and sticks.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


It's November already?! But I haven't written Alice's last two birthday letters. Of course, I have stopped that for personal reasons - namely, I'm not so sure she'd appreciate having her first year of childhood posted on the internet for all to see.

So, it's National Blog Posting Month. In other words, I have accepted the challenge of writing a post every day for a month. Loyal readers - it'd be nice if you could maybe send in some topic ideas.

Thought for the day: In watching this episode of 666 Park Avenue (the Halloween episode) in which a woman is killed by her husband with an axe and dies in front of her small daughter I exacted a promise from Nick - if he becomes insane because of a possible pact with the devil (if there is one)he has to promise to murder me when Alice is spending the night somewhere else and never come back from the dead to hurt her also.

Good to know we're planning for the future.