Friday, July 27, 2012

Cheapening honor?

My very long break from blogging has been caused by our dear refurbished computer finally biting the dust.  I hope that the month break from easily accessed Internet has broken my daily Facebook and BabyCenter habit.  You'd think my house would be spotless now... not so much!  I did manage to read a lot, and given that I'm about to welcome child #2 in less than 7 weeks, I doubt that will be the case for quite a while!

This topic is one that I'm somewhat hesitant to publicly write about.  I don't want to offend, nor do I want to land on a list somewhere.  But I feel I owe it to others to at least voice my opinion. 

I don't think the flag should be flying at half mast right now.

*ducks head to avoid flying rotten tomatoes*

Is it safe to come out now? 

Okay, here are my thoughts behind that shocking statement. 

The point of half-mast, or half-staff, is to symbolize a nation in mourning, or to show respect.  For example, flags are to be flown half mast on Memorial day.  That is to show respect, and in a way, mourning, for the soldiers that have died fighting for our country.  They are to be flown half mast for a long period of time after the President or Vice-President has died, and for shorter periods of time after a member of Congress, state governor, or Supreme Court Justice dies.

The problem comes when we fly flags half-mast because of a presidential proclamation.  I'm not saying the President shouldn't have this right, not at all.  But it then becomes more personal as to what we honor and mourn.  Here is my question:  how do we decide what is worthy of national mourning?  And by default, what is not worthy?

My concern is this: we are showing that we are mourning the death of a number of people in a movie theater.  BUT:  How many active military have died in the last year?  I don't know the answer.  But we haven't mourned them, except by lumping them together on Memorial Day.   Where do we draw the line?  So a shooting is worthy of mourning, according to the current President.  All right... but how many have to die before it becomes worthy of national attention?  5?  10?  So if 3 people are killed before a concealed carry permit holder pulls his/her gun and shoots the shooter, that's not worthy of being mourned, but if 19 people are killed because concealed carry is banned in that place of business, we mourn those people?  (I'm not saying there's been 3 people killed and then the shooter stopped, I'm just throwing out random examples of what could be.)  Is it not the number of people dead but what they're doing?

I feel we are cheapening the half-mast symbol.  Yes, it is sad that all those people were killed.  But there are people shot every day!  The city of Chicago alone could cause us to fly half-mast the entire year!  I don't believe that people participating in a recreational activity have more right to be mourned than the soldiers killed in a training flight, training so that they can protect our country.   We should be sad, we should learn from this (private businesses that ban concealed carry are leaving the door wide open for mass shootings), but we should not cheapen the deaths of others who are worthy of national mourning.     

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wow, it's been awhile since I've posted.  I guess I've been busy, although you can't tell it by my house.  I swear, by the time I do some basic maintenance it's after 5 and I'm exhausted.  I've come to realize if I get the dishes washed, a load or two of laundry done, and one other tiny project accomplished like cleaning off the coffee table, I've had a productive day.  Where does the time go?

Well, mostly to a very cute, very chubby baby.  She just eats time... maybe that's why she's so fat!  She's around 20 pounds now; I'm sure she's going to seem like a giant compared to the Lump (gotta come up with something better than that!) when she gets here.  I can't even imagine what life's going to be like with two.  Someone today asked, and I get this question a lot, how are you going to do it?  My answer these days is pretty standardized: I don't know, I'll just do it.  I'm certainly not the only one with children less than a year apart; there's quite a few of us baby bunchers out there. I guess because they're not in the situation, they expect it to be totally overwhelming.  And I'm sure I'll have those days, but I'm blessed with being pretty oblivious to the difficulties right now.  I'll figure out a way.  What choice do I have; give one away?

That brings to mind a book I just finished, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  I really enjoyed it, which was surprising since I read it on the recommendation of a pregnancy birth board book club.  They typically suggest trash (50 Shades of Gray anyone?), but this was certainly not trash; fluff, maybe, but good fluff.  A woman in the story gives away her baby, basically acting as a surrogate mother.  A young friend, who had recently lost her baby by miscarriage, told her, you can't just give it away.  You can't just stop being a mother.  It changes you.  And it did.  She was described as acting as if she had lost some part of herself afterwards, although no one knew why because no one realized she'd been a surrogate.

Before Ladybug was born, I wouldn't have fully understood that.  But now, I wonder how true that is.  I know it'd be true in my case.  Obviously people give up babies for adoption, and act as surrogates, but that kind of idea does explain why mothers who had been planning on giving up their child give birth and suddenly change their mind.  I can't imagine giving up a child whom I had cared for in the womb.  While I don't feel as attached to the Lump as I did to Ladybug before she was born, I also have 13 more weeks to become more attached, especially since I can now watch her kicks and rolls in addition to feeling them.  I'm not as attached simply because I don't talk and sing exclusively to her like I did her sister, because I spend my time talking to and playing with her sister.  I did pick up a library book and think, this is way too many words for Ladybug to sit through but I'll read it to the Lump.

I also told the Mechanic while talking about friends who don't have children, they don't really realize what they're missing.  Oh, they may express regret about not having kids, or maybe they don't.  But you can't explain to someone what being a mom is like.  I told him, I can't even explain to you what it's like.  It's beyond words.  It's incredible.  Yes, overwhelming when I think of the grand scheme of things.  But overwhelming in a good way when I kiss chubby toes and fat cheeks, and tickle her and make her laugh, and walk in the room and her say "mamama" when she sees me (yes, I'm special; I'm more than a "mama," I'm a "mamama!"), and realize she's mine.  There's a bond there unlike any other relationship, and I of all people know what it's like for that relationship to be lacking.  That's part of why my relationship with Ladybug, and her sister, is so special to me; I want to love them in a way that they'll understand the allusions to a mother's love in the Bible.  And I'll have shortcomings; I'm already doing things like giving Ladybug popcicles that I said I wouldn't do!  I'm sure there will be far greater mistakes made.  I just hope that when their heart is breaking and tears start spilling down their cheeks, that they'll know they can reach and cry "mamama" and I'll be there to love them.

Friday, May 11, 2012

18 weeks to go...

Over half-way there... it's hard to believe!  This pregnancy seems to have gone by so much faster than with Ladybug.  Not having the 24/7 nausea helped, I think, plus being distracted by Ladybug instead of dragging myself to work every day.

So far things are stable.  Still have the low lying placenta, still have the subchorionic hemorrhage, sugars are slowly starting to creep up.  But, I feel her move every evening while I'm still and reading in bed, which is reassuring.  We'll see how she does tonight; I sort of overdid it on our walk today.  Well not sort of... definitely.  I got ambitious and decided to not just go to the library, but another block to the bakery.  No biggie.  Then I spotted a yard sale, so we went to check that out... found a couple cute Christmas things.  Then I made my mistake.  I knew that street was blocked off from cars at the top of the hill, but I thought sure I could get by.  Just thought I might need to go into a yard for a couple yards.

Yeah... right.  They felt the need to put the guard rail across the entire road.  No room for even a pedestrian to squeeze by.  And the "yard" next to it was an extremely steep hill.  I thought I might be able to climb over the guard rail and collapse the stroller and push it under the rail.  Nope.  Not only was my basket full of library books and donut holes so the stroller wouldn't collapse fully, Ladybug had fallen asleep.  And that guard rail was higher than my waist; there was no way I could climb over it while holding Ladybug.  If she'd been awake I would have just sat her down while I got the stroller across but I was not going to lay her on concrete.  So I finally gave up and walked back down the hill.  I didn't want to cut through the parking lots again in the bright sun, so I thought I'd cut through the neighborhood streets.  Next bad decision.  Part of this town's name is "Hill" for a reason.  Holy cow.  Steep hill.  Long hill.  No shade.  And that's one heavy stroller!

Next time, I'll just walk back through the parking lots.  At least until I'm by myself and don't have another life depending on my heart beating!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Children's books

It's amazing what doesn't occur to you until you're a parent.  And what occurs to one family but not another.  And then I'm left sort of in the middle trying to figure out what's right for our family.

I've been going to the library every few weeks to get books for Ladybug.  Those first few months I felt like I memorized the few books we had, and I knew the repetition would kick in when Ladybug got old enough to pick her own night night books.  So, I tend to just pick a small section, the "N's" for example, and get most of my books for the week from there.  And then I pick up a few that are familiar, like Go Dog Go or Curious George.

This means I get a wide variety of books.  Some of them are simply stupid.  Some are boring.  Some have awesome illustrations and a great plot.  Some of good stories with good morals.  Some... nneh.

I brought home some Bernstein Bears books one day.  The Mechanic mentioned that he wasn't allowed to read those growing up because they portrayed the dad as a bumbling idiot.  I'd never thought about it... but the beginning reader books do.  The more advanced books don't seem to do that as much, but The Bike Lesson and The Picnic, for example, two I well remember from my childhood, do show a very dumb father whose son has to continually get him out of scrapes.  At this early age I don't figure it matters all that much (and some would disagree with me I'm sure), but when Ladybug gets a little older and understands spoken words, is that something I really want her reading?

So now I find myself evaluating every book I pick up.  I brought home Purplicious last week.  And I thought, oh it'd be cute to have Pinkalicious for Ladybug and Purplicious for ... well, the Lump doesn't seem quite applicable now.  I'll have to come up with another nickname for the next daughter.  But when I was adding books to their Amazon list, I noticed the Goldilicious book in the same series.  And it says something about defending against the evil magic of her little brother.  And I raised my eyebrows... that doesn't sound like something I want my daughters reading.  I have nothing against magic in children's stories, but evil magic performed by their brother?  Hm.  And even Purplicious... (I've not read the original Pinkalicious book) I sort of wondered if I want them reading and quoting it.  It has the other girls telling her liking pink is for babies, pink is out and black is in... and I couldn't help but think, I'm going to hear this kind of talk from my girls soon enough.  I hate the whole "in" and "out" slang anyway, and while it shows you can make friends even if what you like isn't popular... I kind of wonder if I want my girls exposed to the idea of "popular" at such a young age.

So many books also portray siblings in a negative light.  Oh, they eventually show them liking their younger sibling, but they always start out with "Sister was not happy about the new baby, Honey."  Or something along those lines.  I wish I could find a book that talks about how great sisters are.  How much fun you can have with them.  What good friends they can be.  Something that emphasizes the positive.  Because I figure they'll come up with negative stuff in their lives on their own... if they haven't already thought of "I don't like this" why do I want to put the idea in their head?

Who knew simple children's stories could be so complicated!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Learning to Trust

So I checked my bank account for the 15th time today.  Since 2.  Why?  Well, the rent was due, so I had mailed the check... and I was trusting that my refunds from my flexible spending account would arrive in my bank account before the cashed check did.  I have been living with less than $20 in my primary bank account for over a week now.  I had almost been ready to breathe a sigh of relief when my flex account said I'd been paid; that money today, payday Friday, we'd be just fine!  

And yet, as of right now, that money seems to be in no man's land.  It's out of one account, but it's not in the other.  Unfortunately, the rent check is at my bank.  I don't fully understand how bounced checks work, but from the couple of experiences I've had, if that money doesn't appear in my account early tomorrow that check's going to become a rubber ball.  It may still become a rubber ball even if that money does show up since it wasn't there today.  I don't understand why not.  I mean, everything electronic and supposedly instantaneous, so how the money can be absolutely nowhere I don't understand. 

This is on top of finding out yesterday that we're out nearly $500 thanks to IRS regulations that we were not aware of which mean we pretty much spent double on day care for the month of January.  No wonder we're broke; the government is allowing companies to steal from us, legally. 

But I've finally thought, why am I checking my account so often?  Why am I so worried?  Can I do anything to make the money appear faster?  Nope.  Can I keep that check from bouncing?  At this point, no.  It's totally out of my hands and in the hands of ... well... some computer processor somewhere I guess.

In the meantime, my child is currently sleeping on her stomach on the couch.  She's had a rough afternoon, getting woken up from her nap by a dog I'm currently furious with for waking her up.  She would not go back to sleep, but was completely exhausted, so I finally got her to sleep on my chest.  After a few hours I just couldn't lay there anymore so I wiggled out from under her.  Now, I know they say "back to sleep."  But sometimes you do what you have to to keep the baby asleep.  They also say not to let them sleep on the couch.  And not to let them sleep with a blanket.  I'm breaking all the rules today.  But I keep going over and scooting her away from the back of the couch that she loves to smoosh her face in.  And I keep removing the blanket from her face, because she keeps covering it up. 

And I realized trust is a factor in both situations.  I'm paranoid of SIDS.  Ladybug is still at high risk because she can't roll over, and she has also proven herself her mother's child by panicking when something covers her face rather than just removing it.  One of the goals I set with the TEIS is airway protection, that she would learn to remove a blanket or toy from her face instead of panicking.  

Back to the trust.  I can remove dangerous objects from her. I can position her with a clear airway.  But I can't make her keep breathing.  I can balance my checkbook and plan ahead, but sometimes things are going to happen.  Too many expenses in one pay period and we're in a hole.  And another case: my unborn daughter.  I can do everything in my power to keep her healthy, but I have very little control over what happens in my body.  At any moment her heart could stop for unknown reasons, and no one besides me would have ever felt her existence.  So I just have to trust.  That God will keep my one daughter breathing.  That a few bounced checks isn't the end of the world.  And that He will keep my other daughter's heart beating.  

And while I stress about the bank account, in reality, when I look at the baby girl now wiggling in my arms, trying to reach the keyboard, when I feel a tiny kick from inside, I realize that a negative balance really isn't that important, especially since I know it won't last more that a day.