Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Within the last 12 hours...

Angela, queen of descriptive language:
"I want a banana peeled to be eaten."

Last night, far beyond bedtime:
Me: "Go to sleep, girls!"
Angela, shouting: "I am asleep!"
Me: "No, you aren't. Close your eyes and sleep now."
Elizabeth: "My eyes are closed. Look, Mom!"

Elizabeth: "Can we have hot dogs for dinner on my birthday?"

Still past bedtime:
Me: "Good night, girls. Time to sleep."
Angela: "Mom, I want to tell you something!"
Me, walking back reluctantly: "What is it, Angela?"
Angela: "Ummm......When I was a baby, I stayed awake."

Angela, while helping me say a prayer:
"Now say, 'I am thankful for my kids.'"

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Playing in the snow

During the brief snowfall yesterday afternoon, we went outside to play.

The snow looks strange in this picture, like it's falling up:

Elizabeth took a small break from lobbing snowballs to catch the flakes on her hand:

Angela was very happy to play in the snow!

The girls gave cold, padded hugs:

Uh oh. Time to go inside for hot chocolate!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Last word on chupacabras

"The criminals and the gangs will not win! The Chupacabra, on the other hand, might."

Click here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bedtime conversation

Eliz: Dad, I want milk!

Dad: Eliz, do you know what manners are?

Eliz: Um, yes...We use manners at school...We say "please" and "thank you."

Dad: That's right. We use our manners to be polite and kind to each other. It's a good way to behave. Can you tell me how you can use your manners and be good right now?

Eliz: Don't fight with my sister.

Angela: We hug each other.

Eliz: And we smile.

Dad: That's right, but how about when asking for milk?

Eliz: I want milk!

Angela: I want milk, too!

Dad: How can you be nice?

Angela: We don't hit!

Eliz: We love each other.

Dad: Can you say "please"?

Eliz: Please!

Angela: Pleeeeeaaase!

Dad: For what?

Eliz: For getting me milk.

Angela: I want milk!

Dad: Can you put those two things together?

Eliz: Please for getting me milk!

Angela: Please, can you get me some milk, Daddy?

Dad: That's right...say "please"...

Eliz: Please!

Dad: Ask the question while saying "please."

Eliz: Please, can you get me some milk, Daddy?

Angela: Please, can you get milk, Daddy?

Dad: Yes, sweeties, I'll get you some milk.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Out of my element

My Biology class is as easy as it gets. Well, as easy as a lower-level science class with a challenging lab component gets. And if that biology class is being taken by someone very easily distracted, even fanciful, then it's actually quite formidable.

Lectures go over something like this:
"Ecosystem dynamics are driven by two processes: those of consumers and those of producers. Producers, like plants, take in sunlight and convert it into energy. That energy is then transferred to a consumer, like an animal. The worms in the soil consume the energy from decaying organisms..."
Oh, no. Those poor worms, stuck in the dark and the dirt. Their lives are so limited, only feeding on decomposing things, never seeing the sunlight, except for one brief moment where they poke their little heads up and are noticed by a bird or a wild pig...

"...and these make up the domain Eukarya. That will be on your quiz tomorrow."
Crap! I hate science. Why am I doing this? I want to be at home, tucking my kids into bed and reading. I really want to read. I love the Twilight books -- now that's what I'd rather be doing. It's weird that I read vampire books, kind of embarrassing, but it isn't the vampirism; it's the humanness of the vampires. One in particular, really. That, and the main struggle is so interesting to me...

What kind of vampire worries about his eternal nature, worries about the fate of his soul? In case he's truly lost his soul, Edward refuses to sentence his love, who happens to be human, to the same fate. That choice both separates and unites the two, and the decision to keep their worlds divided creates security for him, and pain too. Vampire with a heart of gold. Heh.
"...And after many years of research, that's the clearest example I can give of the difference between covalent and ionic bonds. Your book doesn't explain it very well, so there you are."

This is why I might barely pass Biology.

I certainly feel like an English major out of place. And yet, in the back of my mind, I refuse to take all the blame.

Shouldn't these things, emotion and humanity and fascination, be able to coexist with science? Why can't a scientist worry about those poor little worms and still study them effectively?

It would be a serious flaw, in my mind, if these worlds cannot cross, if I must turn off my creative mind so that I can do well in a scientific environment.

Two chapters of chemical properties to study, and then one more chapter of vampiric delights. That's the deal.

Elements, radioactivity, and chemical structures. Before Forks, Cullens, and the dilemma of whether to damn one's true love to an eternity of night.

Monday, January 14, 2008

My review of The Business of Being Born

Over the weekend I saw a screening of Ricki Lake's film about birth, The Business of Being Born.

I was hoping it would be a fairly educational film about harmful hospital practices and routines, and ways of circumventing the system to have the birth you want. It partially fulfilled my requirements.

The film was lovely. Most of the births were just beautiful. They made me want to be in labor.

Much of the information was accurate and poignant. They cited the high cesarean section rate in this country and talked about the snowball effect of hospital interventions and how rarely medical staff see births that proceed naturally, on their own, without augmentation or interference.

Good stuff. If you haven't heard it before, it makes you think.

Interviews with Dr. Michel Odent, Ina May Gaskin, and Robbie Davis-Floyd were wonderful. They seemed like old friends and I wanted to hug them. Dr. Odent is amazing.


There is an obvious bias throughout the film, and because of this I no longer call it a documentary. It is more like propaganda, and while I do not disagree with the basic message it's trying to promote, I find its tactics dishonest enough to be objectionable. It ends up portraying that "home births are always good and hospital births are always terrible," which is not true.

Home births are generally safe; I'm not arguing that here.

But they can be scary, too. Not every woman is able to or should have a home birth. Women should be where they feel safe; otherwise they won't labor as effectively.

Hospital births are not evil. You must understand what is happening, seek a care provider who will meet your needs and work with you, and fight harder to have things the way you want. But being in the hospital, all by itself, is not a bad thing. I believe we've come to a point of crisis in childbirth because of something else in the culture:

The greatest evil, one that was not addressed in the film, is the profound lack of education among women about birth.

It isn't for lack of educational opportunities. It's a dangerous complacency, a feeling of laziness and unwillingness to learn. Without knowing your options, not knowing the risks and benefits of common procedures, you are potentially like a lamb going to slaughter, no matter where you birth. You will not know what to expect or understand the kinds of effects anything might have, good or bad, on you and your baby.

It's not a good situation for anyone.

But I digress. This problem wasn't mentioned in the film. (Neither were doulas, which was personally discouraging for me.)

Instead, OBs claimed that c-sections were safer for all women, midwives talked about being too empathetic to he helpful to laboring moms, and the film ended with the emergency transport and c-section of the film's director for a rare complication. How many women left that night feeling more anxious about labor?

It isn't as simplistic as the film portrayed. Place of birth matters, but what matters more is education. If you aren't educated, you won't be able to make any decisions with confidence. And birth, no matter what happens, no matter how it proceeds, will deeply affect you. You will always remember how you gave birth.

It's a film worth seeing, for the things it gives women to consider. It will be available on Netflix in February. But keep in mind that these things aren't quite as simple as portrayed.

Mythical creatures

Upon request, I've spent a good portion of my weekend reading Twilight to my husband. While I'm a little nervous about whether or not this will spoil my indulgent female escape into vampire romance, it's been fun. A little unusual, maybe, but certainly entertaining.

The jokes are endless.

Here's what it's like:

I made my way to English in a daze. I didn't even realize when I first walked in that class has already started.

"Thank you for joining us, Miss Swan," Mr. Mason said in a disparaging tone.

And then there are the other jokes:

"And what are they?" I finally asked. "What are the cold ones?"

He smiled darkly.

"Blood drinkers," he replied in a chilling voice. "Your people call them...


"What are you thinking?" he asked curiously.

I looked up into his deep gold eyes, became befuddled, and, as usual, blurted out the truth.

"I'm trying to figure out what you are."

His jaw tightened, but he kept his smile in place with some effort.

"Ever heard of...chupacabras?"

"We're going to be hiking in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, just south of Rainier."

The chupacabra jokes are endless.

In my defense, I never, ever thought I would so thoroughly enjoy vampire fiction of any kind. Even with all the puns and chupacabra references, I'm having fun reading it out loud.

We're getting closer to the parts that make me blush...

More on Twilight later. I just can't write about why I love these books and about chupacabras in the same post.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

End of the road for these cliches

Phrases that should never be used again:

"How cute is THAT!!" (or, really, anything asked as a question when no answer is expected -- it's mere annoying punctuation)

"Needless to say..." (if it's truly needless, don't say it)

"Literally" (when you mean 'figuratively', as in "I literally dropped dead!")

We would be better off using and hearing with some frequency such happy phrases as these:

"Mad as a wet hen"

"Happy as a duck in a bucket"

"Bless my bloomers"

...but that's just my opinion.

Each of these has a story behind it. Just so you know. I haven't gone completely redneck on y'all.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Things I Learned From Movies in 2007

  • If you find a bag of money at the scene of a drug deal gone bad, just leave it there and walk away. Quickly.

  • If you think your neighbor's up to no good, don't break into their house.

  • Any time a shy person starts dancing on tables at a nightclub, you should know that something has gone seriously wrong. (Like the movie.)

  • You can't trust the government.

  • You can't trust your doctors, hospitals, or insurance.

  • Pain is often the result of love, but it's worth it anyway.

  • The extreme difficulties of parenthood often stir up good qualities like responsibility and devotion.

  • If you're an ex-super-secret CIA operative with amnesia, it helps if you don't forget your super-cool spy abilities.

  • Don't go to public bathhouses if there's a chance you will need to fight for your life. You might still win, but it won't be pretty. Or easy.

  • You can have a thrilling musical love affair without being disloyal to your spouse. That didn't come out right.

  • Sometimes the nice guy actually wins.

  • Don't ever underestimate what children are capable of doing or understanding.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Doula training

I have done hard things before. Getting through labor and birth was tough. I wanted to give up many times, and in my second birth, if I had been able to speak, I just may have said something like this: "Anything...give me....anything....drugs....don't care...". Ah, Mother Nature has a plan for everything, doesn't she? I couldn't talk, and consequently I had a natural birth.

I don't regret that. Not for a minute. I am so pleased, so proud of myself, and deeply grateful to those who were there to help me through it.

It's a strange thing, to be in the middle of suffering, wanting nothing more than to be free from suffering. Then when it is over, you realize you could have gone on much longer, that you were really nowhere near your capacity to handle it.

I tell my three-year-old all the time "You are capable!" I have started telling the mirror that same thing, every morning. You are capable. You can do this.

I have given birth. Naturally. Twice. Surely I can handle being a stay-at-home mother.

What I teach mothers during labor as a doula can be used throughout motherhood:

  • How to relax.

  • If this isn't working, change positions/do something different.

  • Do not think ahead to the next contraction. What do you need to do right now?

  • Have a plan before labor begins; once it starts, it's too late to plan what you're going to do.