Friday, June 26, 2009


In the fairy tale about Rapunzel, Rapunzel's mother sees rapunzels in the witches garden and must eat them or she will surely die. I am feeling that way right now about chocolate. If I don't eat chocolate, I will surely die and wither away into nothing. Rapunzel's mother wants rapunzels so badly that she ends up trading her baby for them. Rapunzel then belongs to the witch who locks her away in a tower. What is the price I would pay for chocolate right now? Good question...

and so the wheel turns

I think the girls are transitioning into daycare pretty well. Gemma's teacher told me that Gemma will hold onto her necklace when she's stressed out. Yay! I'm really glad that that idea worked out so well. Both girls seem a little over-stimmed at the end of the day but other than that, they seem to be having a fun time overall. And with them in daycare, my practice is starting to take off. I don't have an opening right now until July 9! I'm doing my best at believing/hoping/trusting/praying that this will continue. I love the work I do, I feel like I have a gift for it and feel blessed that I am able to do the work, even if only part time. And from a purely material perspective, it will help hasten our debt elimination program if I continue to stay full.

More transitions, I almost feel in no-mans land amongst all the changes going on. Jack will be a freshman in high school this fall (yikes!) and Pat will be in seventh grade. They are growing like weeds. Jack regularly eats an obscene amount of food (as in five whopper juniors in one sitting or two dozen doughnuts in one weekend) and is as thin as a rail. Pat is debating about cutting his hair. I don't think he should because I have very clear memories of him getting so upset when it was time for a hair cut. His memory of that is a bit fuzzier and all he can think of now is hating his curls. I think they're awesome. How often do you see a half-Japanese with curly hair? Gemma keeps sneaking off and sneaking in binky time and jumping half out of her skin when you catch her doing something she knows she shouldn't be, lol. And Gemma is starting to talk more. It's still quite difficult to decipher what she is trying to say, though. Oona is so different from Gemma. She's becoming a real toddler and is into EVERYTHING. Gemma was content to look at the pen in it's entirety. Oona needs to pull the cap off and see what it does and what it tastes like, etc. Oona is also experimenting with saying words which Gemma did not do at this age. Basically, Oona is an experimenter and Gemma is an observer. I was lucky Gemma wasn't this way since I was on bed-rest at the same age Oona is now. I saw myself in the mirror and looked pregnant to myself. If it was likely that I could have an easy pregnancy, I wouldn't be so freaked out by the thought. My cycle is still weird since I'm nursing Oona. I'm also hoping that that transition smooths out soon.

Another current favorite time is coming home from work and being smothered and covered in little girl/baby kisses. :) wish I had a picture of that. And little things you observer, like Oona walking around saying something that sounds like poop and blowing raspberries on my arm or cheek. And Gemma asking questions and then saying "wow..." And the girls playing together - and fighting with each other. And how instantaneously they stop crying the second I pick them up. They must really love their Mama.

and so the wheel turns...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jack's picture

Sharing an art project of Jack's. I thought it was pretty cool. It's supposed to represent Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

Transitions and other stresses

It has been quite a few days. I was just trying to get Oona to go to sleep and in complete frustration and exhaustion, I gave up and put her in her bed by herself. She isn't crying. Will this work???

Yesterday, we took Eric to the ER because he got hit in the eye with a strand of ivy while weeding. Who knew you should wear goggles while weeding? The eye is just bruised but bruised eyes (bleeding in the white of the eye) look way worse than they actually are. Poor guy. Also, took the babies with us to the ER because the boys are not ready to babysit for an indefinite period of time. You never know how long it will take at the ER - three and a half hours in our case. Having the babies there and trying to keep them entertained certainly added to the stress of the visit. And did I mention this trip happened during lunch and nap-time? Schedules got a bit re-arranged.

Gemma had her first big girl haircut on Friday. What a milestone! Also, at her daycare, they don't want her to have her binky. Why should whether she has a binky or not be determined by her daycare? It shouldn't. But at the same time, she is getting old enough that it is a bit of a social taboo to still have a binky. None of the other kids at daycare wear their binkies and they can't bring security blankets/animals/etc, either. So since this was adding stress to an already stressful situation, Gemma being at daycare in the first place, I decided to take Gemma's binky away except for bed-time and nap-time. Since her binky is her security and she feels naked without it, I came up with the idea of making her a crocheted necklace to wear instead. The transition is overall going well though she is having more melt downs and is peeing in her diaper more instead of in the potty. But that seems normal to have a bit of backwards progress when a stressful transition is being made. Another contributing factor in deciding to take Gemma's binky away is that she is a bit slower than some in speech and being able to say what she is thinking. Hopefully she'll talk more and be easier to understand with the binky gone.

Here's a picture of the necklace.

And just in case you were wondering, Oona didn't fall asleep by herself and started crying and now I'm holding her and she's still not going to sleep and I'm getting ready to pull hair out, my own hair that is.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I survived the first day of daycare

And I think the girls survived, too. Gemma was a little shell-shocked. Both were incredibly clingy at the end of the day, Oona especially. I kept wanting Gemma to give me a big hug and tell me about her day but she's not verbal enough yet and I think she was still just a tad mad at me for leaving her to fend for herself amongst the wolves. Bath time was melt down time so I climbed in the bath with them and they both sat in my lap and cuddled in the bath. That was nice.

I worried all day and felt like I couldn't get enough information out of my husband who picked them up or out of Gemma who wasn't talking. I did go to nurse Oona at nap-time and heard one cute story. Both Gemma's class and Oona's class were playing outside at the same time and Gemma came over and patted Oona on the head and then ran off and started playing again. So that comforts me a little bit - evidence of sisters hanging in together and of both girls playing and enjoying themselves. I think they had some melt-downs, too. In Oona's class, all the babies were so excited about a new baby, they swarmed her and Oona got a little overwhelmed. In Gemma's class, they didn't swarm her and kind of ignored her. They all knew the routine and followed it and Gemma didn't so felt a bit lost. I guess she didn't eat any lunch, poor girl. Eric said Gemma seemed a bit shell-shocked/stressed out in the afternoon after he picked the girls up. But Gemma tends to be a cautious, shy little girl. She's not one to jump into the fray. But she'll be fine once she knows the routine, or at least that's what I'm telling myself.

To my girls: I'm so sorry to send you to a scary new place and then leave you there. I'm trusting that the resilience of childhood will keep you in good stead. Thank you for going through it, as it gives me the opportunity to do work that I truly love to do though it cannot compare to how much I love you. I hope you make friends and learn a lot. And I'm really glad I get to be with you the other five days of the week.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

philosphical "deep" thoughts

Been thinking about questions of whether there is a right and wrong, truth and falsehood, black and white. If you go too far in one direction, everything is true and good, everything is right even in its' wrongness and nothing is black and white, all is in the gray zone. But if you go too far the other way, your definition of what is true becomes so narrow and rigid and ignores the different faces of truth. There's a story of a group of blind men defining what an elephant is. One says it's like a fan, another like a tree trunk, another like a rope, another like a hose and another like a wall. They're all correct in their perception but they're not entirely correct because they're not "seeing" the whole elephant. Since we are all blind in one sense, we can believe that what we perceive is true, but we must also acknowledge that we might be missing the other side or end of the elephant.

I'm reading Madeleine L'Engle's book "Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art." She talks about how she believes that atheist artists who produce true art can be closer to God than some artists that profess to being Christian which makes me think (in my own round about stream of consciousness) of the saying "all roads lead to Rome." I talked to my husband about this (who is WAY more knowledgeable about this topic than I am and is a clearer thinker and has thought about it WAY more than I have) and he says, yes all roads lead to Rome which means you can't judge somebody for being on a different path than you - the gray zones of everybody is right - but that they all do lead to the same place which indicates that there is an absolute truth of some sort - the black and the white - that we're all striving towards. So how do you wrap your head around there being one absolute truth but an infinite number of ways of arriving there. There is some paradox there. Which brings me back to the elephant and the blind men. I fully acknowledge being blind and often I go in circles, seemingly endlessly in my quest to reconcile this rope I feel on one end and this hose I feel on the other.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Money - the funnest topic to discuss...

Today is day two in the spending no money plan so that we can get rid of debt Dave Ramsey style. We're doing the Total Money Makeover. We couldn't do much about our basic bills but our variables like groceries, gifts, clothing, extras are very variable. I was pretty shocked when I pulled up how much we spent on gifts last year. We're pretty generous with ourselves and others relative to our income.

The idea for this plan mostly came from my husband. I was mostly content to float along month to month, make ends meet, and consistently pay off the debt at a monthly rate. Most of our debt is what most people consider "good debt." We have a home equity loan, student loans, mortgage and a very small smattering of credit card debts (which were going to be paid off by the end of the summer anyway.) My husband, on the other hand, hates being in debt and spent most of his adult life debt free with money in the bank. My first reaction to the plan was mega-stress thinking "I can never buy fill in the blank (yarn, clothes, books, extras, vacations) ever again." I made some last minute yarn purchases so feel better in that regard. I have a lot of yarn. Once I get it all in the mail, I'll take pictures and post them so that I can be reminded of how much yarn I really do have. Anyway, now I'm used to the idea and am looking forward to being on the other side of it. It will be hard but after seeing where we were blowing money and where we can cut corners, it is feeling more and more possible to be debt free. Our monthly bills for student loans combined adds up to $650 a month and it would take another fifteen to twenty years to pay them off. I think we'll have a party once those are paid off.

One thing I like about the plan is that you pay off the smallest balances first instead of focusing on the highest interest loan. You do this because it gives you the feeling of success sooner which makes it easier to keep with the program and not slide back into old spending habits. Our highest interest loan is our biggest and is my student loan from the Conservatory. Thinking of working on paying that loan off is emotionally paralyzing and is probably why trying to pay that one down first has never worked. That loan represents a mass of emotional confusion. I try to persuade myself that it wasn't a complete waste of money. That having a Masters Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in French Horn Performance has enriched my life somehow in spite of the fact that I rarely pick up my French horn and have no real plan to be really active as a musician, though it might be fun to play some down the road. Then I feel really guilty about bringing that kind of debt into my marriage. So every time Eric and I have talked about paying off debt in the past, the focus has been on that student loan and I've become a puddle of guilt and the weight of failure and waste and wrong choices regarding getting that degree which I really don't use all paralyzes me emotionally and makes the thought of paying off that debt hugely overwhelming so I go shopping to cheer myself up (convincing myself that I'm only buying stuff I need or that doesn't cost very much) and lo and behold we don't have any extra money to pay extra on the loan. Funny how that happens. So now we'll get our momentum going on less emotionally stressful loans and I'll feel like it's possible and we will make that loan go away and will save a ton of money on interest. Just think what we could do with an extra $650 a month!

I think this is another "welcome to being a grownup" thing, learning and practicing self-denial now so that we can have more money to spend in the future. Our culture is not very good at delayed gratification. We deserve it, why wait, we'll have enough money to pay it off. The long term of this money plan we're doing is that we'll only buy cars with cash (which boggles my mind) or pay cash for home improvements. Every purchase will be made with money that we have. Isn't this what we try to teach our kids by having them save up their allowances? They can't buy their coveted toy until they've saved enough money. Well, now to hold myself to that same rule. It's going to be hard but gratifying.