Thursday, December 30, 2010

Moving to the convergence zone

The weather forecast called for a chance of lowland snow yesterday but Seattle didn't end up getting any. Most of it was in the convergence zone which is up by Everett. I am happy to find out that we are moving to the convergence zone so that means we might actually get a bit of snow every winter. Not much, but more than living in Seattle.

Today was phase III of the longest inspection ever. Of course, as time passes my imagination on all the myriad of expensive repairs we'll have to make grows bigger and bigger. I'm not good at waiting. I'm hoping that there will be some sort of resolution by this weekend. I've been trying to keep my mood light by joking that next a medium will have to come by to verify that there are no portals to demonic netherworlds in the house - and that we have the proper paperwork to back that up. The nice thing is, my lovely anal retentive husband actually has made sure we have saved all paperwork from all the work on the house. He makes my life easier in so many ways and his meticulous nature is only one of them.

At work today I was informed that it would be quite beneficial if I up my hours. That is probably a good thing because we'll need the money after doing whatever repairs we need to do post-inspection. But I also really need to learn to focus. When my boss and I are alone together it is a great recipe for non-focuseness. Today the distraction was getting the speakers on my computer to work so that I could see Double Rainbow Guy who somehow went viral on youtube. How do these things go viral? It's just bizarre to me. So, all I have to do is be a goofball on acid on youtube and I too will become rich and famous and asked to be on Oprah? Oh society. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sleep

Well, the hydrocodone worked a little and stopped my cough enough to get a little more sleep. I feel quite a bit better today thank goodness. I still have the cold but I'm not quite so sleep-deprived. Luckily, it did not set off a big arthritis flare-up because narcotics have a tendency to send me into a flare-up. They also trigger panic attacks. This is why I will never go back to the old junkie days. Drugs are not fun anymore when it involves severe joint pain and panic attacks. Ok, there's also the "life is great why ruin it" factor too.

We got the inspection results back and it reminds me why I should never try to sell an 85 year old house ever again. What a pain in the butt. Usually I am all about doing as much stuff myself as I can, but all this construction talk and foundation, settling and support beams talk is making my head hurt. I'm going to leave this to the menfolk - specifically my engineer husband. That is the most girly talk you're going to hear from me for awhile, I promise. I pride myself in being the wife whose husband says to the mechanics "Don't worry about the tune-up, my wife can do that." But I don't know a thing about framing or house construction and right now I am too tired to try to learn.

I've been having all sorts of weird dreams probably from hyperventilating from coughing and lack of sleep. Night before last I dreamt that Mike across the street was evil and had all these strange minions but he was evil in an entertaining Harry Potter sort of way. He was also completely white and partially transluscent, even his clothes. This morning I had a stress dream that I was working at the UW again (where I worked before my daughter was born) and I had gone into work with the pitbull, driving my old friend, Chris's old orange VW bus. When I got there I realized I had left my 6-year old daughter at home alone and started to panic. I actually thought in the dream, "I have had nightmares that I left her alone and now I actually have!" I said to my co-worker, "But if something bad happens the pitbull will protect her," and my co-worker pointed out, "But you brought the pitbull with you." And I was torn between leaving and losing my job and protecting my daughter (which in waking life I wouldn't care about losing my job if it meant protecting my daughter). Then I was freaking out because I was afraid I wouldn't get home before my husband and he'd find out I'd left her alone and then he'd leave and take her away to protect her from me and my awful negligent ways. Yikes!

And I'm going through horse withdrawal. I got to see my horse yesterday for about twenty minutes because I needed to deliver more supplements to her. And I convinced my dad that he should stay long enough to help me groom her (something he'd never done). He kept patting her and saying, "Good dog," in this dry sort of way (since he became a "dog person" after he retired). But with this awful cold I need to hold off riding until I can take a deep breath without wheezing or coughing. Bah. I need to be totally over this by next weekend because they're having a polo clinic at our stable and I really want to ride in it. Thanks to Shane showing up out of nowhere wanting to learn to ride so he could play polo then adopting two beautiful polo ponies from California, everyone has gotten the polo bug and wants to learn too. It's not my first choice like mounted shooting, but since I don't think I'll find anyone on this side of the mountains to teach me that, I'll give polo a go.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tonight that we may sleep

For the past few nights I've had one of those coughs that doesn't bother me until I lie down, then it's like Chinese water torture. I am just about to doze off and I get that awful tickle in my throat that makes me need to cough. Then it spirals out of control from there and I can't seem to stop coughing. Ugh. I haven't been getting much sleep and my husband finally went and slept in my daughter's bottom bunk last night so he could try and get some sleep. Which meant she didn't get much sleep because she came in my room this morning to wake me up and announce, "Do you know how many times Daddy snorted and woke me up last night? Seven. I counted. He woke me up seven times."

I tried everything over the counter that we could come up with short of a humidifier (because the steam might potentially mess up the walls and today was our big inspection from the buyers). Finally in desperation this evening, I dug out some hydrocodone left over from my daughter's surgery last fall and am hoping that will finally suppress this dang cough. Aaargh.

I know, that was completely TMI for a public blog but I had to rant.

During the day I took my parents out to Woodinville to see our new house and drove my daughter by her new school. We went to lunch in downtown Woodinville and found the perfect restaurant in our new neighborhood to go when I don't feel like cooking or we just want to go out to eat as a family. So, I'm happy about that. It's good to have a local haunt in one's new neighborhood.

Despite that I swore I'd never live in the suburbs and I swore I'd never live on the Eastside, as our move date gets closer I'm feeling more and more like we've made the right choice. At first I was a little worried because it will all be so new and it's not how I pictured my idea of leaving the city, but the more I learn about our new neighborhood the more I feel a pull in my heart that this is the right decision for our family.

Plus, some stuff is changing here in the city in ways that don't work for me any more. Crime in our neighborhood has shot through the roof and now our newest addition is an establishment that sells "medical marijauna" and is a place for folks to hang out and smoke pot. In theory I don't really think pot is that much worse than alcohol and I figure more people probably abuse alcohol than pot, but at the same time, it is still illegal. I don't get this medical marijuana loophole. If THC were such a great medication then greedy pharmaceutical companies would be all over it. And the negative effects of smoking pot on the lungs is so huge. It seems like it would be a bad idea to be smoking anything when you're chronically or terminally ill. It just seems sketchy to me. It would be one thing if it were legal, but selling medical marijuana is still illegal in WA State I thought so it just doesn't strike me as a great business if they feel they are righteous enough to be above the law. It bugs me when rich Republicans do that and it bugs me when stoner hippies do that. If the law sucks, work to change it. But if everyone just didn't abide by laws that they thought were stupid then it would be anarchy - and that only works if you're a 14-year old punk rocker who lives in mom's basement.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hex bugs and fatigue bugs

I've had a cold the last couple days which has left me very tired - probably because I don't sleep much because I keep coughing. It's frustrating because there is a lot I want to get done around the house before the potential buyers come in for the inspection tomorrow but I just can't seem to power up to do much of it. My sister-in-law was telling me about how she has had insomnia for the past couple years and I don't know how anybody can stand that. I've been able to power through chronic pain but I'm not good at powering through lack of sleep.

One of my daughter's Christmas presents was two pink hex bugs. They are little cockroach sized bug robots that scurry around the floor a lot like cockroaches. While she was building little courses for them to scurry through on the kitchen floor I was reminded of this old apartment (our building is the one on the left ... looking much different than when I lived there). I lived in down in San Francisco when I was twenty years old. I lived there with my boyfriend at the time and it was in the interior of an old building on Haight and Filmore that housed a Walgreen's and Erno's Tattoo Shop downstairs. Our apartment was on the inside of the building so our only two windows looked into an air shaft. Our neighbor's across the air shaft were members of the Rainbow Family and were very nice but never wore clothes unless they had to.

Our neighbor downstairs was a mystery though. Once I saw him sitting on the steps in front of the building smoking cigarettes and staring off into space. He was very overweight and had a blank look in his eyes. He would smoke a couple drags of a cigarette then stomp it out on the stairs and immediately light another one. When I said "hi" to him he didn't even recognize I was there. At night he would play loud classical music and make these strange whooping, screeching, growling noises and sometimes he'd howl "I'm going to kiiiiillll you!" Once early on I complained to the manager about it and he said it must have been his tv and don't worry about it. He didn't have a name on the mailbox for his apartment either. It was very odd.

Anyway, we had a lot of cockroaches. At that time I cleaned mansions on Russian Hill to earn money and even they had cockroaches, although they also had fairly good exterminators unlike us. We'd get roach motels and they would fill up within a day. There was an ever-present moving black spot on the ceiling in the bathroom of cockroaches congregating together. I remember a few times we considered getting dayglo paint and splashing drops onto them and watch the patterns as they scurried around. If I still lived there now I would definitely do that.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Even if you don't celebrate Christmas I hope you're having a good day today. I love Christmas, especially now that I have a little girl to play Santa to and do up the whole tradition. I really like traditions and Christmas is one of the few that has been consistent my whole lifetime. There was a period in my life of ten years of not talking to my mom and almost twenty of not talking to my dad (until as adults they decided to ask me to go to therapy with them which honestly has been the dream of all my adult friends who have difficulty with their parents that their parents would even agree to go to therapy let alone instigate it - so how could I turn it down???) anyway ... it makes me so happy now that I can spend Christmas with them again. I'm also very grateful that any pain from mistakes they made in my childhood has healed enough that my time with them now is about enjoying each other's company instead of re-living old childhood wounds or acting out old patterns. That's a gift in life that I don't think many people get to enjoy so I am fully aware of how huge that is and how lucky I am.

So, big news for us. Yesterday we signed the contracts and if the inspection goes ok and the buyer's financials are ok we have essentially sold our house. Which is good because when I went to add another "Santa" present to the stash in the closet that I'd put away for my daughter on Christmas morning, I saw that they were gone. I called my realtor and my mom and asked my husband and no one had moved them. They were no where in the house and the only explanation was either at the open house or one of the thirty-some agents that came through when we weren't here - they got stolen. They weren't that hard to replace, it was just a punch in the stomach to think someone would steal a little girl's presents from Santa. But after my initial tantrum and complaining on social networking sites I realized that we have got so much and our life is so good that it really didn't make a dent in our life. But whoever took them has a pretty pathetic life and knows deep down (despite their justification that we are "rich" and they are "poor" so they deserve to steal from us) that they stole presents from a little kid and that is just a scumbag thing to do.

We went to a party across the street with some neighbors we are just now getting to know. I was a little apprehensive because I knew I wouldn't know any of their family and friends. It was neatly divided between a "hipster crowd" - folks who seemed perfectly nice, but were also very cool with fashionable clothes and lots of piercings and tattoos and were drinking a lot, and the family crowd - the host's siblings and their children. In the old days you would've seen me plopped right down in the hipster crowd because that is who I used to identify with the most, but last night I immediately gravitated toward the siblings and their families crowd and that was a great choice. I met one family who I spent the most time with who are the type of people I knew right away that we will be friends. And their daughter and my daughter totally hit it off.

One thing that came up - kind of a separating the wheat from the chaff as to whether or not I could relate to them - is how I fit in the picture. So, I explained I live across the street but we just bought a house in Woodinville. One couple wrinkles their noses and said, "Good luck with that!" and I asked why and they said, "It's outside the city limits. Why in the world would you ever live outside the city limits?" I said we were in the Woodinville city limits and they said, "Ugh! Not Seattle though!" And I figured they were nice enough but we were not going to have much in common.

I can't remember what I thought the magic of being "in the city" was when I was in my twenties. I did used to think that as long as I was in the city I was where I fit in and belonged. But as an adult I notice that no matter where I go there are people I relate to and people I don't relate to everywhere. And I'm not sure why I pushed away so many of my real interests like horses, gardening and nature because I wanted to be in the city where "my people" were. As though having piercings and tattoos and wearing all black were the main things to have in common. Sometimes I really regret my teens and how I gave up so much of my interests and who I really am to follow some nebulous idea of being "hip". But I guess that without that weird, shallow phase of mine I would not be who I am today.

I think it's easier now too. I think it's easier to be a girl with tattoos and "weird ideas" out in the country now than it was in the 80's when I was a teenager. Still, I wonder sometimes about the person I was for awhile there and how that person came to be and why she is so not me anymore (well, except for the tattoos and weird ideas part).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The great lie of Santa Claus

My daughter is in first grade now and this is the first year that an older kid has told her (with plenty of dripping pity for her) that there is no Santa Claus. That it's just your parents putting the presents under the tree, just like there is no tooth fairy and it's just your parents putting the money under your pillow. Since I happened to be there when said older kid was whispering this to her, I thought it was interesting to see her reaction. She stood there a moment looking perplexed and then said, "Oh. I see," then she scrunched up her face a little in thought, then she gave the older kid a look of her own utmost pity and said, "I think that's only what happens at your house."

Later she told me what the older kid had whispered to her and asked if it's me who plays Santa and the tooth fairy. I said that she was old enough now that she could choose what she wanted me to answer. Did she want me to tell her the truth or did she want me to tell her the fun version of the story and say it's not me. She said she wanted me to tell her it's not me, so I didn't say it's not me, but I said it was fine for her to continue believing in Santa and the tooth fairy if she wants. Then she said it was sad that the tooth fairy and Santa weren't allowed to exist at the older kid's house. I found the psychology of that whole interchange fascinating.

I am by far not an expert in psychology (having never gone to college except for a few classes ... the only three I ever actually attended and paid attention in being psychology, genetics and drama) but all the studies I've read on child psychology have said that play and imagination and fantasy are extremely important to developing brains. They help children learn cognitive skill needed for problem solving later in life.

The older child who is not allowed to believe in any of that stuff is our neighbor (same one who's mother thinks I'm stupid for believing in God, even though I'm more educated than she is) and from the get go her mother will not lie to her children about fantasy creatures. It did cross my mind when my daughter was a baby that saying that there is a Santa is essentially lying unless you really think about it. In our house it's all pretend play between the whole family. Said older child doesn't believe in Santa, God, or the tooth fairy but she does adamantly believe in fairy sprites - but I'm not supposed to tell her mom that. So, she is fulfilling that childhood need to fantasize behind her mother's back. And that to me is very sad. But there are a lot of parents now days who view fun stuff in childhood like Santa as a big lie and they will never lie to their children.

When did parenting become so weird? When did people start believing their children were so delicate that engaging in pretend play with them over long standing traditional icons would traumatize them? It seems to fall into the same category as saying no to their children will traumatize them and the idea that their children should never be unhappy so the parent must cater to them to the ends of the earth so they are never disappointed, bored or sad.

Maybe it's always been like this and I just never noticed because I was either a kid or a grown-up without kids. Maybe even in the days of settlers in the Wild West there were people who believed that telling their child about Santa would traumatize them by the big lie of it all ... or maybe because there were actual dangers back then like disease and starvation from crops failing and nature in general that folks realized their kids weren't these delicate little flowers that would wilt when you sneeze.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Real estate chaos

In a fit of whimsy, we put our house on the market two weeks before Christmas. It was one of those "What have we got to lose?" ideas that if it goes well will save us at least two months on carrying two mortgages when we buy our house in Woodinville and at worst will be a lot of work before Christmas, but mean much less work in Spring when the market picks up.

We expected to put our house on the market then have last week to be able to continue working on making the house perfect for the open house last weekend. But instead the phone was ringing off the hook with agents wanting to bring their clients through. So, every other hour I had to pack up and leave for awhile. Needless to say we didn't get that much done. But people poured through the house during the open house. I was so exhausted and brain dead by yesterday I was really glad that no agents called to show the house. I figure if no one makes an offer after that onslaught of half the city viewing our house then we deserved to have some peace and quiet the week before Christmas.

Apparently, a lot of people who looked at the house were excited about the chickens and wanted to know if they come with the house. A lot of people wanted our big orange cat, BuddyCat to come with the house. The funniest feedback we got was that many people commented on how well we've taken care of the house. But when I look around I see chipped paint everywhere and where my husband cleaned the tile in the new bathroom with some heavy-duty toxic tile cleaner and it bleached spots in the paint. I called my friend, Megan in a melt-down in line at Fred Meyer last week and said no one would ever want to buy our house because it's not nice enough and she said that I'm just a perfectionist and it will be my mental downfall. She might be right ... Of course, she also said that even though it's old our house is "cool" to which I exclaimed, "But no one cool can afford to buy our house!" Hopefully, that was just panic talking and not reality.

Meanwhile, I am going through horse withdrawal because I have not gotten to see my horse in over a week and have not been able to ride her more than twice in the last two weeks. Luckily, the nice part of boarding one's horse at that some of my barn-friends have been nice enough to make time to ride her and give her some work to do instead of just lolligagging in the pasture with her boyfriend, Ziggy.

In other news, now Alina is molting which means there are white feathers everywhere. Right when we're trying to make our house and yard look "perfect". Oh well. We get up in the morning and there's a whole 'nother layer of white feathers flying around. Molting in winter is terrible timing. Janey molted right when the freezing weather started last month. Well, fun and charming as our chickens are they are still pretty dumb, I think. As my daughter says, holding up her fingers really close together "Teeeny tiny little brains!"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What is a pineapple express?

There is a "pineapple express" coming through Seattle over the next couple days. That means warmer than usual temperatures and lots of rain and we've had some wind too. I hear that phrase being thrown around a lot this weekend but I wonder where it came from? I had assumed that it refered to pineapples growing in tropical regions and this being tropical-like weather. A quick look-up of the etymology shows that it is not just a random weather condition, but is specifically a jet stream coming up from the South Pacific to the West Coast. So, there ya go. I always wonder these things when I hear people throwing around phrases like that just because (in this case) Cliff Mass used it. And I wonder if they actually know specifically what it means. Or maybe I'm the only one who didn't know specifically what it meant until I looked it up? Sigh. There's always that.

I'm apparently one of the few adults left in Seattle who likes it when it dumps snow (but then I have a Subaru with all wheel drive and new tires so maybe that is part of it?) and I also really like these heavy downpours of rain. I like listening to the rain when I'm in bed, I like watching it pour over the windows like we're out at sea in a storm. I just like it. It's even better with thunder and lightening storms. Plus, we have the most hard-core waterproofing system in our basement that we don't need to worry about flooding. Our house could basically be surrounded by a river and our basement wouldn't flood. I feel like I have a right to gloat while my neighbors bail out their basements because we did have to drop a lot of money into getting that system put in and in case nobody has figured that out we are not wealthy by any means (despite the horse).

Speaking of which, I posted on an acquaintance's Facebook page something about my horse and someone else posted in a snotty response about "keeping their horse behind the butler's quarters". It never occurs to me that people might mistake us for being rich because I have a horse. We're fine, we can pay our bills and don't have to worry about buying food and making sure our utilities stay on. But we are not even remotely rich. We can't afford to take vacations to Hawaii or Europe, we have old cars and all our clothes are from outlets or when Old Navy has a sale. Our furniture is fairly-to-super old and we don't have any of those fancy tech things like iPhones or big screen tv's or even a stereo that isn't 18 years old. It's just my priority for myself is to have a horse over traveling and toys and that's what I spend my money on. If I didn't have a job and got to be a stay-at-home mom like the majority of our neighbors we couldn't afford for me to keep my horse. So, it always amazes me when people flippantly assume we're rich because of my horse. I want to point out to them that they spend far more on clothes and getting their hair done and dinners out at nice restaurants than I do on my horse. Plus, skiing is just as expensive a hobby. Nobody assumes because you go snowboarding you're rich.

I understand the atagonism toward people who are rich. I used to have that too, and it's hard not to in this country when there are bozos who run companies where they outsource their manufacturing to over seas sweat shops and outsource their customer service to third world countries just to make a profit for themselves while screwing workers in the U.S. But I've also befriended some really great people who are wealthy and it just makes me tired the judgments and stereotypes.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bouldering! ... and other stuff

My daughter is taking rock climbing classes this month so on a whim I asked my co-worker who is really good at rock climbing if she would come with me to the gym during my daughter's class and climb with me. This is only the second time I've done that. Last time I was on the belay rope and this time we did bouldering. I am now hooked and want to learn and get good at bouldering. Bouldering is rock climbing without the belay rope and you don't go as high and it's all about climbing across a rock ... like a spider basically. Probably wasn't a good thing for me to try when I'm supposed to be cleaning and packing up our house because my hands and forearms are so incredibly sore today! If I had been using proper body mechanics I don't think they'd be *this* sore, but without the harness and belay rope I was gripping stuff really tightly out of nervousness. And I fell five out of six times I'd try, but they have really soft mats to fall on.

When my co-worker gets up there and boulders it looks like she's doing ballet. She's so graceful and seems to know exactly where to put her hands and feet and she just glides along the rock. Near the end I let go with my right hand and swung my body to the right and my foot landed on a tiny little jutting rock and my hand landed on a small piece of boulder and I felt like I just went "whooooosh!" My co-worker said, "Excellent! That was beautiful!" But the reality was that my right hand cramped and slipped off the rock and I started to fall and caught myself. So, the best move I did the whole night was an accident!

My daughter's class was doing bouldering too, so when her class was over and my arms were too exhausted to try anymore we sat on the mats with my co-worker and her friends and watched them try to conquer the really hard walls. It was really fun to be doing something like that with my daughter. It's nice that we can share bouldering and horses as two sports we do together. Plus, the people I've met at the climbing gym are really nice and there seems to be a really nice, supportive community there without much competition. Strangers would praise my co-worker when she'd do well and she'd do the same. I talked to a couple guys who were waiting for their first beginner class to start and I instantly felt this excited commraderie with them and wished I was in their class too.

In other news, it seems like lots of people I know are having babies this Spring. My neighbor, two women from my church, and our friends who live off grid up north. My only concern is one of the couples is having a home birth and after my experience with my labor, where it all went awry, I had an emergency C-Section and if my daughter hadn't been right there to be put on a ventilator because she couldn't breathe on her own she would've died, it feels important to warn people. I had toyed with a birthing center and midwife and staying away from a "cold sterile hospital setting" because I'm just that kind of off-grid-thinkin', keep it natural type of girl. But then when one of the Hasidic rabbis came to me and all he said was, "My wife is a midwife and wants you to know she wishes you would give birth in a hospital because home births are dangerous," I decided to listen to him. Because in their temple at least, all babies are born at home and they are very cut-off from the rest of society. So for his wife to want me to know she thought it was safer to give birth in a hospital meant a lot to me. I didn't know why until my actual labor.

So, I felt like it was important for me to tell the couple who's planning the home birth what happened with me, and to warn them that it is safer to be at a hospital and something goes wrong. But they said they were fine and they trusted that the mother and baby would know what to do. So, I dropped it. But it makes me mad that there is a movement that pushes that kind of thinking. I mean, it sounds really good. It makes sense. Your body and your baby both know what to do basically. Our bodies know how to stay alive and fight infection too - but only to a certain degree. We are hardwired to die too and there are many complications in the world for our bodies. And our bodies don't know what to do if the baby is breech or the cord is wrapped around the baby's neck or many other issues. Well, our bodies do know what to do in those cases - the baby dies. That is natural too that the baby dies. But I didn't want to have THAT natural. So, I hope for my friends that they have a totally normal birth and no complications so that their natural experience is a happy one and not a sad one. In third world countries where there is no medical care during childbirth, the chance of a mother or baby dying during childbirth is three times higher than in countries where babies are born in hospitals with medical care available for an emergency. But many moms and babies do have safe labors and births and hopefully that will happen with my friends. I'd hate for them to be like me and plan on a natural childbirth, have things go terribly wrong, but in their case not have all the medical equipment and doctors on hand like I was lucky enough to.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Packing, little kids and vaccines, fur vs. hair, etc.

The question came up "What is the difference between fur and hair?" It turns out that chemically they are the same thing. But there are two types of fur/hair. There's the furry undercoat that animals like some dogs have, which is a different density and consistency than the primary hair and is used to control internal body temperature - that is called guard hair. And then there's the hair that grows over that and is what grows on human's heads which is called primary hair. Humans have it and horses and dogs like my pitbull who need to wear coats when it's below freezing because her fur is so thin. So there ya go. There is no difference, it's just a way for folks to differentiate between the two types of fur/hair. The furry undercoat is called fur and the primary layer is called hair. I bet if you ask most people something about a "horse's fur" and they interrupt you and say "It's hair not fur" they will not be able to tell you what the difference is.

We're in the process of negotiation on the house we want to buy so all day today I've been packing up stuff to put in storage. We found a storage place down the street and put in our first load of boxes today. It still seems like there is a ton of work to be done to get our house ready to try and sell. It feels weird to packing up so much stuff and "staging" our house. We have to take down all our "personal touches" like family photos and everything and it's already feeling weird and impersonal.

Our house has been the house of plague this week. Early in the week I dragged my sad little butt to the doctor and they took a throat culture and tested me for mono because I was so fatigued, my glands were swollen and worst of all I had a horrible sore throat that had gotten worse over the last week. Both the quick strep test and the mono test came back negative, but they put me on antibiotics anyway and said they'd send the culture in for the 48 hour test for strep. After two doses of antibiotics the pain in my throat was completely gone and the next day I had a lot more energy so I deemed it Sir Alexander Fleming day.

Then yesterday I get a call from my doctor's office asking me if I was getting any better. I said I'd gotten a lot better so even if it wasn't strep it must've been bacterial. The nurse sounded a little hesitant and then told me that I didn't have strep, I had a staph infection, the same kind of staph infection as MRSA, so they were very concerned that I was getting better because if it was the MRSA strain it is drug-resistant. Eeek! I assured them I was almost 100% better after just two days so obviously it wasn't MRSA. But it wasn't really until today that it hit me what a close call that was. Geez. Of all the many things I worry about MRSA wasn't on my radar. But it's not that, it's a harmless staph bacteria that is going away so it's no big deal.

Yesterday my daughter woke up and threw up, so of course I had to call the doctor and make sure that wasn't a symptom of a staph infection. Which it is not. Then this morning she said she was itchy. Her dad didn't realize she'd had her vericella vaccine and was concerned she was coming down with chicken pox until I told him she'd had the vaccine and in fact had been exposed to it in preschool by one of the kids whose mother thought vaccines were evil so he brought chicken pox to preschool (you are contagious before the symptoms show ... and he did give one 2 year old chicken pox who then subsequently gave it to his 3 week old sister ... obviously vaccines are not worth it ... duh!). Anyway, my daughter asked me what a vaccine was.

I had to think fast to try and figure out how to explain passive-aquired immunity to a six year old. I didn't just want to say "It's a shot you get so you won't get sick," because she already knows that. She just got her flu shot week before last. So, I said that everytime you get sick, the cells in your immune system recognize the virus so they make a little team of cell warriors who will recognize that virus when you're exposed to it again and they will say, "Hark! We know you! We know how to defeat you!" Which is why you don't get the same virus twice, unless it has mutated enough to be considered a "new virus". When we get vaccines, it's like we're giving a map or description of the virus to our immune cells so that they can say, "Ok guys - this team is going to be on the look-out for this disease, we know what it looks like and how to fight it!" Then when she's exposed it her immune cell warriors will know how to defeat the virus without her getting sick. It got me thinking of making a little comic about viruses and little teams of warrior cells. Just like I used to imagine if we could create a Robo-Cell that could mutate but only on it's own volition without any interference from the HIV virus trying to make it mutate into more HIV viruses, then we'd be set. Of course, that is easier said (and drawn as a cartoon) than done obviously.

It's a simplistic explanation and probably not completely accurate as to how passive-aquired immunity works, but hopefully it's more on target than just saying, "You get a shot so you won't get sick." I try to go with my dad's example. When my daughter was three years old she asked her friend's uncle (who is a pilot) how planes fly and he said there were magic carpets in the wings. Then she asked my dad and he said, "Well, it's called the Bernoulli Principle ... here I'll draw you a picture of how it works." So, she was telling her friends, "Dat plane flies cuzza da benooly pincipal." I wonder if all kids would be in advanced learning classes if their parents answered their questions about the world with real answers? I once heard Richard Feynman say that he credits his dad for him becoming a scientist because his dad thought the way things work was so fascinating and was always questioning how the physical world worked and then searching for the answers.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Break time!

Luckily, I need to be busy this weekend because that is one thing that keeps my neurotic mind from spinning out of control when I'm stressed. I've already been fairly busy today so even though it's only 2pm I am taking a coffee break.

Last night we sat down with our real estate agent and made an offer (our third one this year!) on another house in Woodinville. The difference is with this house is that it is not a short sale so we will hear by the end of the day if the seller's will accept our offer. And if they do then done deal. We are buying the house whether we panic or not! If they accept our offer as contingent (like we'd like) that means we need to put our house on the market within 10 days. So, this weekend is going to be the crazy mad rush to get it ready to be shown. That means number one thing: storage space! I need to find a good one in our neighborhood big enough to put half our shit ... I mean half of our treasured items. We're also going to need to make one big hefty dump run and my third Goodwill run in three weeks.

For someone who has such aspirations to live a simpler life we sure do have a lot of stuff. Most of it is memorabilia that I'm not totally sure we need but at the same time reminds me of important things in my life of which there have been many in the last four decades. For example, I still have a target with bullet holes in it from the very first time I ever shot a gun in 2001 - a 40 caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic. Do I really need to keep that? Probably not, but I want to. Do I really need to keep a box of my favorite of my daughter's baby clothes and toys and books? Probably not, but once again I want to. At least it's in a box. I think if we put everything in boxes it will not look as disturbing as the piles currently look to me. My husband has similiar stuff but in his case it's more tickets to rock concerts and posters from college all rolled up and stored away. I bet when our daughter's a teenager that stuff will be retro and cool though. The target with bullet holes will probably just be creepy.

On top of that I woke up at 7:20am (which is good because I had to get up ten minutes after that) to screaming and my poor daughter was throwing up into the waste basket next to her bed. Since I was about ten years old I've had a phobia of throwing up. It's gotten better and I can be with her and comfort her when she pukes and clean it up and really not show any sign of external discomfort. But inside I feel like the whole world is falling apart and coming to an end. I used to be embarrassed and think I was a freak for my phobia but I'm learning as I get older it's not that uncommon. That and it's no more freaky or something to be ashamed of than say a phobia of needles, which many of my friends have. So, now my anxiety scenario is that my husband and I will both come down with it at the same time this weekend and not be able to care for our daughter and not be able to get the house ready to put on the market and so then it won't sell and then we'll be massively in debt with two mortgages and we'll have screwed up our entire lives to the point where we end up living in shelters and never getting back on our feet and destroying my daughter's life ... yes, I know. I should write books instead of freaking myself out.

The reality is, even if we do get sick, it appears to not be a very bad virus. My husband never gets very sick and can power through just about anything. If we can't care for our daughter for a day or two we have plenty of friends who will help. And the house will sell. It will be ok. Geez. Needless to say, reality is much nicer than my head.

So, even though this is good change, it is big change and it makes me feel discombobulated. I'm excited though to finally be leaving the city and I'm excited to be right down the street from where I keep my horse and out in a beautiful part of our region. But that doesn't mean I won't miss our neighbors or our house we lived in for ten years. I still remember how excited I was when we moved in to have our very own house and our very own yard to do whatever we wanted. It will be hard to say good-bye to this place that we worked so hard on to make it so nice. And we really did luck out and end up in a wonderful neighborhood. I hope that our new neighborhood will be as nice. But as I'm writing this I know it is also my attitude. If I wanted to focus on the bad stuff in our neighborhood I could say it's an awful neighborhood. So, the next one will be different but the same dynamic - good and bad. And if I focus on the good of it, it will seem like a great place. Unless of course a serial killer lives next door. Ok, I will stop.

And my last stressful thing of the day - I took the pitbull into the vet this morning because she's been having hives and these itchy bumps that she scratches and then they get bigger and scab over (a lot like chicken pox). And one of the lumps behind her ear is really swollen. So that big lump behind her ear is infected and the infection has spread inside her ear so I've got to start her on antibiotics and a topical steroid. Then if that doesn't resolve the issue - especially the lump behind her ear - within 7 days they will have to remove the lump because it could be a mast cell tumor, which is very aggressive and can spread quickly and that's a really horrible place for it to be. I'm really hoping that is not the case! It's been exactly two years since my dog, Boone, died (or will be on Dec. 23rd) and I am not at all ready for Willow to die, especially because she is only four years old. But I'm going to hope for the best!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teaching kids to ride horses

Oooh ... two blog posts in one day. This is what happen when I spend the day in bed. On a happy note, I still feel sick and fatigued and my glands are still swollen but the horrible pain in my throat is starting to go away after just two doses of antibiotic. Could be the placebo affect, you say? Well, I'll take it whatever it is! I'm just glad my throat doesn't hurt as much as it did this morning.

About a year ago I decided I really wanted to eventually train horses or teach riding lessons and was wondering how I could score a job as an apprentice to a trainer somewhere. I saw an ad for an assistant to a trainer up in Monroe and she didn't even seem to care that I was an intermediate rider at best and was considering hiring me as a working student. The problem was, we just couldn't work out the logistics of me working five days a week up in Monroe (which is an hour drive away on a good day without traffic). So, I turned that down and was very bitter. My friend, Lisa suggested take some courses with the CHA, getting certified and then teaching children. So, that's become my current goal.

The next course for certification is coming up next Spring so I'm hoping I can afford to take it (both finance and time wise) but meanwhile I'm trying to find ways to learn as much as I can on what it would take to teach young children riding. My instructor likes to start with kids minimum of 8 years old and that is the norm at most stables in our area. So, I'm looking at teaching kids 5-8 years old and then I could send them on to my instructor when they're eight. Part of that is because I like kids that age and part of it is that it is a completely different approach that I feel fits me more than teaching tweens, teens and adults. With kids that age it is all about getting a good seat, getting comfortable with horses and learning safety rules. In fact, from everything I've read, kids that age probably won't be using the reins for the first year they're riding, which is ok. Emma-June was on lead line rides for a couple years before she took her first lesson using the reins when she five. And she still has taken lessons with Ilana on the lunge line where she doesn't use the reins, it's all about improving her balance.

I had a bit of a catastrophic experience trying to teach a seven year old about riding with her on a lunge line last week. She had fun but was all over the horse and couldn't keep her legs in the right position without gouging the horse in the ribs. I realize now in retrospect that I didn't go into it with a plan and I was more worried about making the child happy than giving her a solid first experience of "this is how to ride". I also think she was more interested in having fun too and not so interested in having to listen to instruction which if I were to actually to give lessons I would need to ascertain that and have a plan to go with that level of interest.

Of course all of this is a moot point until I someday find myself in a situation where I actually own a pony or two who are mellow and nice enough to be used as lesson ponies, and a good safe place to teach lessons. But that will come in time. I'm not ready for that part yet. I just started reading
Teaching Children to Ride and the next think I need to do is start watching more beginner lessons. I need to be able to see proper form and posture and know when to correct improper form and how to correct it. So, that is my homework for the next couple months is to watch as many lessons as I can and watch as many professional dressage shows on video as I can until I can really see all the details of the right posture. And of course keep taking lessons myself so that I don't stall out at intermediate but keep improving my own riding.

Why I love modern medicine ...

I apparently have strep throat. I haven't had it since I was a kid and it really does hurt. So much so that by this morning the pain was referring up into my ears. I had to drag my sorry ass to the doctor this morning (I really just wanted to be in bed) but they gave me antibiotics and the verbal "pats on the head" that always at least feel emotionally good when I'm sick.

Here in Seattle I hear a lot of negative stuff about modern medicine. I guess I'm really lucky because I've had a couple really bad experiences with Western doctors and a couple really bad experiences with Naturopaths. But on the whole I've had good experiences with doctors. Our family doctor (who is traditional Western medicine) is very sweet, caring and thorough and always takes into account not just our physical being but our emotional being and how we're all doing in the family. My rheumatologist stresses "quality of life" in my on-going treatment and will not insist I take a medication for rheumatoid arthritis that has bad side effects because what's the point of going from one bad symptom to another? And she stresses proper nutrition, checks my vitamin D, calcium and iron levels and stresses that I "get enough exercise if I don't want to be crippled". Even my pharmacist told me today to take propbiotics with my antibiotics to keep my system balanced.

I did see a doctor years and years ago before I had insurance at a sliding scale clinic, who not only was rude to me, but completely misdiagnosed me. But then last year I went to see a Naturopath who told me my ear infection was actually a food allergy to wheat and why don't I pay her hundreds of dollars for a very expensive food allergy blood test and go on a special diet where I had to come back and see her every week (totally wrong diagnosis and would've been a huge waste of money!).

So, I feel like there are good and bad doctors in both types of medicine. And I feel like antibiotics and vaccines really have an important place at least in my life and with my family. And that is not popular with everyone in my social circle. And that's fine for them, but I feel bad for their kids. No one should have to be sick when it's not necessary. And I was just reminded of that today while my throat hurt so badly. It's one thing to deny oneself medical treatment but it's a whole different story if it's your child. One mother actually said to me once that she'd read an article somewhere (Salon or Vanity Fair or something like that) about how the polio vaccine was not necessary for her child because the vaccine was far more dangerous than polio - which wasn't that bad of a disease like the government said and would just strengthen her child's immune system if she got it. I told that to my friend Bill, who is in his 60's so has known people in his life who had polio and I thought his eyes were going to pop out of my head. He exclaimed much louder than he meant to, "Whoooooa! You're kidding!?"

Ah, humans. We are a horrendously self-destruct bunch, aren't we?

There are so many things in this country that make no sense to me and I wonder why other people don't see them and I wonder if I'm the weird one. The propaganda against things that are actually good for you (in moderation) like vaccines, antibiotics, flouride in your tooth paste ... all because of what? Paranoia of "the man"? But then these same people trust "the man" to buy their fancy electronic gadgets and buy their trendy health drinks and herbal supplements that are just being sold by a big corporation who knows how to market to wanna-be-natural hippies. And on the flipside seeing what some neighborhood moms give their kids to eat - like these sodas that are literally just food coloring, water and high-fructose corn syrup, and seeing the crap that's on tv targeted toward kids. My friend, Darius once off-handedly said to me that once you start seeing the truth it makes you an out-cast ... but am I seeing the truth? Or is there really nothing wrong with being so far removed from nature? Maybe that's our destiny is to just become as fake as the food we eat and the plastic products we surround ourselves with and that's just the way it is. But I don't think so.

It just seems like so many decisions I see around me are not made because of coming up with one's own decision of what is good for a person or their family - instead it seems like so many decisions in the world are made by which advertiser the person decides to put their trust in. Which propaganda appeals to them more - the "traditional" or "the alternative" and then once that person chooses they stick with everything from that particular brand of propaganda. They buy everything from the "eco-friendly" companies (even if that is just their brand and not the reality of who the company is) or they stick with the old-school names, not realizing that V8's second ingredient is high-fructose corn syrup so it's not *really* healthy. It's like all thought has gone out of decision making and it's easier just to listen to the marketing agents who appeal to one's idea of their values.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

With some snot for insulation ...

Ok, that subject line will probably drive folks away from this particular entry, but you won't be missing much because I will just be babbling on about horses again as per usual. I was just not able to think of anything to use as a subject and that is something that slipped out of my mouth before I realized it this afternoon. I had asked my instructor's boyfriend to microwave my little diet sandwich for me (so I didn't have to walk in her house in my muddy boots) and he handed it to me on a plate and I said I was just going to eat it in the car and he said, "Careful it's hot," and I said, "I can wrap it in this napkin. And it has some snot on it for insulation to add to that." Then as soon as I said it I thought, "Oh my god - did I say that out loud?" Sigh.

I haven't had a riding lesson for two months now. It started with my daughter having her tonsils out and a long recovery from that, then I caught a cold, then I got very busy, then it snowed and the roads iced over. So, I made a point to go today for a morning group lesson even though I have another cold and I felt pretty crappy when I dragged my butt out of the house at 9am this morning.

I picked up IH since her parents were out skiing all day and she had no way to get out there. One day when I was heading out to the stable with IH and my daughter we stopped at an espresso stand to get coffee and milkshakes and it turned out to be what I call "titty espresso" with the barista wearing a see-through lace bra and a g-string. I had instinctually put my hand over IH's eyes and she swatted it away and said, "Oh, knock it off!" But their coffee and milkshakes were so good that we stopped on the way again today so IH could get some hot chocolate. The barista was acting casual and asking if we were going shopping and I said we were going out to ride our horses and there was a moment where the barista (who was probably only a few years older than IH) looked super uncomfortable like she wanted to explain that she doesn't normally wear g-strings and see-through bras and she wanted to just be in clothes like us just until we were gone and she could put on her sexy persona for the guy behind us, then she seemed to compose herself and relax again. How awkward for her. At least in strip joints normal mom-types with their adopted teenage babysitters don't come through and put a weird twist on everything. But their hot chocolate is so good we're just going to have to keep going there. And hopefully not tell IH's parents.

I was initially signed up to have a lesson with J. - who is another mom about my age and has a horse named Stryker and her teenage daughter has a horse named Cody. But I wasn't ready to ride until 11am (our lesson was 10:30) and then our instructor didn't show up until 11:30am (when three of the advanced riders were scheduled for their lesson). S. was scheduled to ride Sparky in the 11:30 lesson but had plans for the afternoon and asked to join our lesson. I was kind of excited to ride in a lesson with her because rumor has it she is really advanced, plus I am friends with her mother (who was the inspiration for my mom to start riding).

I was already a little tired for a half-hour warm-up and being a little out of shape from not riding more than once a week for the last couple months and having a cold, so I didn't have high hopes for the lesson. Plus, Girlfriend was all amped and uber-hot and fighting me about trotting. When it was my turn for our instructor to "pick on me" (as she calls it) I was messing up all over the place. She gave me a lot of correction then sent me to the other side of the arena to work on it and then things did start to improve. I actually just read an article by Stacy Westfall last night about how to calm a hot horse and it was all similar stuff our instructor was telling me. A lot of giving her more rein - which is really unintuitive when a horse is trying to run off with you. But to give her firm, but gentle half halts but then when I'm not doing that to give her back the rein and not pull on her mouth. It did end up starting to work after a lot of practice and quite a few times of her running off with me.

After we'd each worked on our rising trots twice on an individual level with our instructor, she announced, "Everyone come to the center and dismount. We're going to play musical horses," to which I exclaimed, "Are you kidding? Do I get to too?" and she said, "All of three of you. S. will ride Girlfriend, J. will ride Sparky and you're going to ride Stryker." The last time I was in a group class where they played musical horses everyone got to switch horses except for me because Girl is so hot. I've had to try to convince two of the advanced riders to try riding her, but S. actually hopped off Sparky and said, "Oh yay! I get to ride Girlfriend!" And she did really well. It was also validating to see that she could barely get Girlfriend to trot and struggled a few times just to get her to walk instead of cantering. Part of that is not that I'm better at riding a hot horse than she is, but just that Girl is a one-woman horse and she doesn't focus as well with someone she doesn't know and she knows me really well know and I'm family.

Stryker was sweet but a lot of work to ride. First though, it was luxurious to get on my because he just stood there. Girl at best starts walking as soon as my foot is in the stirrup and before my leg is even over her back and at worst starts trotting really fast. But you really have to push Stryker to even walk faster than a slow plod. And if I don't keep on him he will drift all over the arena. And he doesn't listen to leg aids well at all, and I've gotten used to how well Girlfriend and Atlas listen to leg so I rely on those aids more than anything else. When we were supposed to canter it was hard to get him to actually pick up his feet and canter and he kept breaking a trot, so I finally gave him a whack with the crop and he let out what felt like a huge buck. Last time I was riding a horse who bucked was Atlas and I didn't realize he had bucked - I just felt like I was flying in the wall then righted myself and M. had to tell me that Atlas had just bucked with both feet in the air. I don't know how much of a buck Stryker did, but I really felt the whole front go up then his butt go up which felt like a double big slam on my butt and spine. That kind of pissed me off and made my resolve to ride him well stronger. Our instructor said it was great timing because I forced him to listen to me and he showed me that I could ride out a buck well. I'm not sure knowing I can ride out a buck well is something I particularly wanted to know.

By the time it was my turn to ride Sparky I was exhausted and just wanted to sit and watch how J. did riding Girlfriend. S. was all excited and exclaimed what a great and fun horse Girlfriend is. J. was having a little trouble with her on the ground initially because Girl was a little anxious getting shuffled from one rider to another and J. suddenly asked (which sounded like me and it surprised me) "Is there anything I need to know? Is she going to throw me?" and our instructor said no, she just likes to run and I assured her that Girlfriend is the sweetest horse ever and wants to do whatever you tell her, she just has to hear you over the loud noise in her head telling her to run. But J. got on her and even though Girl started to trot away with her immediately, she did pretty well. Although within the first couple laps around the arena, Girl suddenly bolted at top speed for just a couple steps, then J. had her contained, but not before letting out a bit of a surprised shriek.

I used to be afraid of Sparky because he's a really big, high-strung Thoroughbred who spooks easily. But he did really well. And he has a beautiful canter and is actually really easy to ride compared to Styker, because he's such a well trained dressage horse and so much easier than Girl because I wasn't constantly trying to contain him. It was a lot easier to get him to canter, then when he canters it is so smooth and his gait is so long that it feels like that kind of canter that every little girl dreams of - like you're flying around the arena.

After the lesson was over and we all dismounted and were giving each other back our respective horses S. said, "You know, when J. rides Girlfriend she doesn't look like a particularly hot horse. She looks energetic but she looks calm. Then I got on her and I realized how incredibly hot she was. It was like I wasn't riding the same horse J. was riding. It was amazing." That made me feel really good because S. is such a good rider! Our instructor pointed out (which is true) "J. has done plenty her own time though. She didn't do anything but walk with her for months. It took a lot of work to get here." I was glowing all the rest of the day after that compliment. I do think a lot of it is Girl knows me and knows what I want her to do - which is be a dressage horse. I'm not sure I would be able to ride an equally hot horse that didn't know me as well as I can ride Girl.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hurtful

As I've mentioned before in this blog, our family dog is an American Pitbull Terrier who we adopted from the local shelter when she was a puppy. I was born into a family with a mom who loves dogs so of course there was always a family dog or two in our house. When I was eight I got my first very own dog - a cockapoo - and my responsibility was to take her to obedience training classes. Dogs and horses were my things as a kid and I actually have a lot more experience training and raising dogs than I do caring for horses, although I'm pretty good with horses.

So, when my daughter was two years old and our five year old bichon, Sherman started snarling at her and even nipped at her I deemed him "aggressive toward children" and we found him a good home with my mom's childhood friend, "Grandma Sandy". I didn't want to adopt another dog who we'd have to re-home because of difficulty with children so I researched breeds, their temperaments and which dogs would have the best chance with young toddlers. Many breeds of dogs are high-strung enough their chances with young toddlers are not good, all the herding breeds (which I love) are a bad fit because they will need to be trained not to herd young children, and many other breeds (such as Beagles and Chows) have very strong natural prey drives (bad with our other pets - cats and chickens). With the right dog from any breed we could've made it work with proper training but I wanted to make sure our chances were really high that it would work. (side note: our older dog was a rescued border colllie/German shepherd who I'd rehabilitated after he'd been deemed ten years before "people agressive" - and he was a great family dog so anything was possible)

All my research showed that pitbulls were my best choice. It was a bit of a hard sell for my husband but when he looked at the statistics and temperaments of pitbulls he had to agree. So, we adopted Willow when she was five months old.

She's four years old now and a great family dog. My daughter can sit on her and climb all over her and all she does is submissively wag her tail. I walk her to school with us every day and tie her up outside while I take my daughter inside and she sits quietly until little kids run up to her and then she wags her tail and gently tries to lick them in the face. Kids will run by her and pat her on the head and say "Hi Willow" and parents will stop and say to me, "Is that your dog? We love that dog!"

So, when I read the comments on local news sites like KOMO where uneducated people say "Anyone who even considers owning a pitbull had mental problems" or on another site a while ago someone said that parents who own pitbulls should have their kids taken away by CPS - it is very hurtful! I have a neighbor across the street who won't let her kids play in my yard or at my house because as her daughter told my daughter, "Your dog is vicious and bites."

I know that in the grand scheme of things this is not such a big deal. If I compare it to how a black family in the deep South must've felt fifty years ago I can't even imagine how painful that must have been. Or I think about how my cousins in Saudi Arabia must feel when they come to visit us. That would obviously be much worse.

But even in it's own small way it is very hurtful. And trying to educate people on the reality of pitbulls and dogs in general is often useless. There are a lot of people who would rather listen to sensationalist propaganda used to sell newspapers and gain veiwers. The truth is dogs are animals and they need to be properly trained and cared for no matter what their breed, but especially if it is a large and strong dog. Negligence to do so is not the fault of the dog and especially an entire breed.

Pitbull are a mix of two types of bulldogs. They were historically bred as farm dogs because of their stamina, strength, courage and low pain tolerance. They were quickly swept up into the sport of dog fighting because of those attributes. Even dogs that come from a lineage of fighting are bred to be dog-aggressive, not people-aggressive. There is a big difference between dog-aggression and people-aggression. If another dog attacks Willow, she will probably fight that dog to the death if no one intervenes. That doesn't mean she is going to attack and kill your child. In reality she is less likely to attack your child than most other breeds, even the popular Golden Retriever. If someone trains a pitbull to attack people it does not mean that pitbull would natural do that. And do you even know that was an American Pitbull Terrier that attacked someone? Look at this page and tell me if you know which of all of these photos is the one of the American Pitbull Terrier?

And dogs do not "snap" any more than your average person "snaps". To say my dog is going to eventually snap and kill someone makes about as much sense as saying that someday I'm going to snap and kill someone.

It is just plain hurtful people. I'm not putting you and your family down so stop passing such offensive judgments on my family.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cold - both in the world and in my nose

I must add something to the previous post about parenting that I try really hard to do and I think was lacking in a big way from my childhood. I tell my child a lot how strong and brave she naturally is. I have been telling her that since she was born in hopes that she will believe me. Because my experience with courage has been that it is not something that certain people are born with, it is actually a belief in oneself that they are courageous that anyone could have. The message I received all through my childhood was that I was frail and sensitive and scared of everything (or at least should be scared of everything) so when I was an adult I believed that I couldn't handle things that other people could. But over the last few years I've been telling myself over and over again that I am emotionally very strong and that I can handle anything with the endless reserve of courage and strength I have deep within me. Thankfully, my mother has come around and says stuff like that too now which helps. It's never too late to get positive feedback from mom!

Anyway, I realized the other day when I was holding my friend's newborn and he started fussing for her, how much I do that. Without even thinking I started gently bouncing him and saying, "You're ok, you'll be fine. Mom's just got to finish some stuff first before she feeds you but you will be just fine and you can handle it." ("Mom" was attending to her toddler and her two older kids so "Mom" is always busy!)

I just finished listening to The Secret Garden on cd in the car. That was one of my favorite books as a kid and it was very calming and pleasant to listen to it while driving. The author talks a lot about the magic of positive thinking and although stuff that takes it too far like the book The Secret make me want to scream, it is important to remind myself that focusing on the positive leads better places than dwelling on the negative. A lesson I've been working on for years now.

And that is good to remember on days like today when I have a cold. And it is going to be super cold outside. Luckily this cold seems to respond well to lots of cold medicine which is a relief. And I am extremely thankful for my warm house when it's going to get down into the 20's tonight.

Speaking of warm houses, my husband seems to be in love with a house in Woodinville that I also like a lot. It's not my dream farm, but it is an awfully nice house and I know I can be happy there. And I was the one that loves our current house so it would be nice to move somewhere this time that he absolutely loves. And I do really like the area and the woods and salmon-spawning creek behind the house. I think we're going to decide if we're going to make an offer this week. Which means getting back into the process of trying to make our little craftsman look like we have not lived here for the last 10 years.

And one last thing. I took my friend H. out to see my horse the other day and it was really an eye-opening experience for me. She'd never even been around horses so it was all brand new to her. All this stuff I don't even think twice about was completely foreign to her. I also led her around the arena on Girlfriend and it was really neat to see someone think that was so neat the way I do! I said I could teach her how to ride and she honestly looked surprised that she *could* learn how to ride. I know to her it seemed like she was too old after spending the day with me who first got on a horse when I was 3 years old, but to me it was a no-brainer. Of course she could learn to ride. Anyone can learn to ride. And that got me thinking about things that I believe I am too old to start doing or that I'm too 'this or that" to do. Maybe people who can already do those things would look at me the same way and think, "Of course you could do it! Why not? It's only your belief you can't that is keeping you from trying and learning." So, that was a good reminder for me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The accidental attachment parent

There is a trend in the horse world called "Natural Horsemanship" that I was unaware of when I got my horse two years ago. The first person to tell me about it had a horse that did some neat tricks, but she was harsh and bullied and scared her horse to force him to do what she wanted and I didn't like that. It seemed cruel and it was dangerous. My instructor poo-pooed the trend and I liked how she worked with horses better so I decided to poo-poo the trend myself. She has spent her life observing horses and reading everything she can on how they think and although she has a few stand-bys that don't change - always be herd leader for instance - how she works with each horse seems to change a little depending on each horse. So, watching her is like watching someone who instinctually knows how to deal with every individual horse she encounters (but the reality is the "instincts" came from years of education and experience). So, it was a surprise to find out after doing some research that what my instructor does is "natural horsemanship" and what the other woman does is the opposite of "natural horsemanship".

Confusing, huh? Well, I've run into the same thing in the world of parenting. Here in Seattle "Attachment Parenting" is a big trend and I've actually had some people who are very involved in the "attachment parenting world" put me down in some very rude ways. I've been told I am cruel and neglectful for "forcing my baby to sleep in her crib", I've been told I didn't try hard enough and was incredibly selfish when I chose to take medication for rheumatoid arthritis so I had to quite breast feeding when my baby was 3 months old. I have been told that I am evil for disciplining my child with "threats and punishment". And of course, I should be parenting by instinct instead of consulting professionals and people with lots of experience on what is best for my child. Oh, and don't forget, I had my baby in a hospital, had an epidural and even had the god-forbid worst thing - a C-Section and I didn't get to hold or even see my baby for two whole hours after she was born. So, I started really disliking attachment parenting and not wanting anything to do with it.

How I parent is pretty simple. I think about what my child needs to be a happy, healthy, independent adult and then I read everything I can and ask professionals and people with experience how I can best help her to get there. The best resource I have is when I meet a really well-adjusted teen or adult, if I can talk to their parents, I straight out ask them how they raised their child because it obviously works. Luckily, there are some families at our church like that and our babysitter is such a great kid that when I can I try to pick her parents brain so that I can emulate how they've raised her.

So, here in a nutshell is how parenting has looked for me. I never slept in the same bed with my daughter because it's a tall bed over hard wood floors and is barely big enough for me and my husband sometimes. There is a big crack between the top of the mattress and the wall (perfect for a baby to get stuck in) and we sleep with the blankets up around our ears (perfect to accidentally suffocate a baby when pulling the blankets up on accident while exhausted and half asleep). We felt it was better for our baby to sleep in a bassinet next to the bed the first couple months then in her crib after that. She seemed very happy with that. We do "snuggle" with her in her own bed if she has a nightmare or is just feeling like she needs some extra parental time.

Our daughter loved to be swaddled as a newborn and loved to be worn around in a sling, so we did that a lot. We figured out what made her happy and that's what we did. Sometimes it was sleeping in her little vibrating chair while being swaddled. I had her in the hospital because it was so clean and comfortable as opposed to our messy house with pets everywhere and I did not want to clean up after the birth - I wanted someone else to do that. Also, one of the Hasidic rabbis at the temple next door to my work gave me a message from his wife (a midwife) "She asked me to beg you to have your first baby in the hospital. She says it is not safe otherwise." As it is, the labor went all wrong, I had an emergency C-Section and my daughter was immediately put on a respirator and whisked off to NICU for two hours because she couldn't breathe on her own. I truly believe if I'd tried to have that birth at home my daughter would've died without the quick intervention of the doctors and the medical equipment that was right there in NICU.

Discipline was a hard one for me because I knew nothing about it. My parents were old fashioned and did the typical spanking when you were bad, yell "Shame on you!" and "What is wrong with you?" and the typical Leave it to Beaver type discipline. I didn't want to do that, but I also did not want to go with this new trend of no discipline because we don't want to "inhibit the child" because that would raise a confused and spoiled child who didn't understand why in the real world they had to follow rules and there were consequences for rules. So, I did a lot of research on discipline. A LOT. Once again - best resource has been any parents I could find of happy, well-adjusted adults.

What my research showed and what works for me is from the get-go to teach my child that there is "right and wrong" and if you do the "wrong" there will be consequences. Our consequences are time outs and losing privileges. So, if my daughter screams nasty stuff at me she loses tv privileges for example. Because in the real world outside our family there will be consequences. Plus, time outs work really well for a child to be alone and come down off their huge surge of emotion (usually anger if they're in a time out). Then after the consequences we talk together about why what she did was wrong and ask her what she learned from the experience. So, yes, I am one of the few parents you will see in Seattle yelling, "You get your butt over here now, Missy, or you will be in big trouble!" I've even had a parent say to me in public, "How could you threaten your child like that? How awful!" Whatever. You're lucky I didn't threaten you too nosy-mom.

The bottom line is, I don't fit into the "Attachment Parenting crowd". And they don't want me either. So, what a shock to one day not too long ago read some Dr. Sears (the grand-daddy of attachment parenting) and talk to a child psychologist who preaches attachment parenting - that what I do IS attachment parenting. I look at who my daughter is as an individual and I taylor my parenting to who she is and what is best for her. I do the same with other children when I babysit them - I look at who they are and what I might do with my daughter wouldn't work for one of them if they have a very different personality than hers. I make my decisions on how to parent her on what is best for her - not what is trendy or what a clique of moms tells me I should do.

In short, there are a lot of parents out there who are very self-righteous about how they are the perfect "Attachment Parenting Mommies" but they have insecure, angry, unhappy kids. They are focusing on the externals - stuff they can brag about in their blogs and over coffee at the trendy kid-friendly cafes - but they aren't really focusing on their child and what that child needs as an individual in order to thrive as an adult. If the child needs discipline they won't do it because they don't want to look bad in their clique. If the child needs autonomy they don't want to do that because it doesn't follow the rules of their "scene".

Just like the woman who thought if her horse did Parelli tricks she was a Natural Horsewoman - when in reality she was doing the exact opposite. Attachment Parenting is not how you look or what external rules you follow - it's about not listening to any of that and listening to your child and making the hard decisions to do what your child needs - even if it doesn't make her happy at that moment or it doesn't look pretty. I could be completely full of shit, but that's what I've taken from Dr. Sears and all I know is I have a happy, healthy, independent child who is a joy to have around and is well-liked. So, I'll keep doing what I'm doing and slogging along hoping for the best and relying on the seasoned parents with happy kids to help me with advice - not some trendy, judgmental scenesters.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

lost in suburbia

I just got back from looking at another house for sale in Woodinville. This one is definitely "in the suburbs". But in back of the yard is a nature preserve with a creek and not far away is a big park with walking trails through the nature preserve. But you just can't deny it is in the suburbs. It looks like the other houses, there are houses really close to it on either side, but it's also next door to a bit of wilderness so it is nice. And I have to be honest, it's a really nice house. I think I could make it work to be happy there even if I can't go to sleep listening to elk. More like go to sleep listening to the freeway on the other side of the woods. It's hard to say. I could go either way so this one is up to my husband. It's pretty, it's by nature and it's close to our stable and it's in a great school district. If we can't live on a farm then I could compromise for those things.

Sunday I had an excellent day at the stable which put me back in a good mood after feeling very stressed out for the last couple weeks. I can't remember which thing I was stressed out about, I've just been kind of stressed and weirded out ever since the horror of my daughter getting her tonsils out and then quitting the PTA Board and shutting down my non-profit.

I went out with a couple other people who keep their horses there - M. with the wild Mustang, Atlas and I. with her school horse, Dalla she leases. We ended up playing musical horses and I got to ride my horse, Atlas, Dalla and Scandal who is very well trained dressage horse. I rode Dalla bareback which was good for me and we even trotted a little. I was feeling over confident and foolhardy enough to even want to try cantering bareback with her but then I decided not to push it because I am kind of old and don't need to be falling off any horses - especially not one taller than 15 hands going at a canter. I also rode Atlas without stirrups which was good for me. I did not try cantering without stirrups with him either because earlier I'd been trying to get him to canter and he was doing this strange gaited canter and I gave him a swat on the butt with the crop and to me it felt like he swerved toward the wall as though he was going to run straight into the wall, so I quickly opened the rein to my left and used my right leg (the one next to wall) forcifully and led him away from the wall, and I felt like during that moment that he must've lost his step or something because for a moment I felt like I was going to fly straight forward into the wall, then I caught myself and continued to move him out. It turns out that in that split second that I thought he'd lost his balance, he had actually let out a big buck - as M. said, "Both back legs came up off the ground!" But I handled it! I felt discombobulated and said, "I hope no one saw that!" but M. said that I rode it well. Yay!

Girlfriend had a tantrum with M. - more than I've ever seen her have a tantrum before. M. had just gotten on her in the middle of the arena and I was off to the side with Atlas, over at the mounting block adjusting his stirrups and checking his girth before I got on. Atlas is pretty big - both a bit tall and very bulky so I didn't really see what was going on in the rest of the arena. I heard M. ask in frustration, "How do you get her to stop!" and I said without looking up, "Loose reins, gentle half halts, say "Whoooa" in a quiet voice and totally relax your body and lean back." M. yelled, "I AM doing that!" and I turned away from Atlas and Girlfriend was turning in small circles bucking like a little rodeo horse. It was like a reining twirl except she was bucking at the same time. I asked M. if she needed me to come stop Girl and she said no, she just needed to know how she (M.) could stop Girl herself. I thought about it a second then said "See if you can back her up," which M. did. Then after they backed up, M. let her walk on and she did that just fine. In fact she did fine for M. the rest of their ride except when M. tried to trot with her and Girlfriend just took off - but then it took me months before I could get Girl to trot for me instead of cantering or galloping.

I've been thinking a lot about what prompted Girl's behavior - trying to figure it out because M. is a far more experienced rider than I am. I realize now that M. must have wanted Girl to actually stop, which is really hard to do when you first get on her, and unless I actually need to dismount I never stop her right when I get on her.

A little over a year ago I'd been told enough by some other riders with more time riding than me, that Girlfriend needed to be trained to stand still at the mounting block and to not walk or trot until I told her too. They said I was ruining her letting her get away with that. So, I tried one day to be very forceful with her and make her stop and stand still as soon as I got on her and she got really angry with me too. In fact she pinned her ears and bucked then too - although not as badly because she is a one-woman horse and tends to trust me and relax more with me than anyone else (except her previous owner).

Since my attempt to teach her to stand still at the mounting block was such a fiasco I had asked our instructor how to do it and she said that with my horse it wasn't worth it and would probably never work - she's too hot and she'll go crazy if you get on her and force her to stand still, so just get on her and get her to walk and let her keep walking until the loud buzzing of "RUN RUN RUN" slows down in her head. I should've told M. that - don't try to stop her when you first get on unless you really have to dismount. Because she will actually stop if you start to dismount. And she must've been turning circles because with a normal horse if you turn their head far to the side they will stop for you. I forgot to ask M. if she was trying to get her to stop by doing what I've heard called the emergency stop where you pull a horse's head off to the side and they'll stop running. Obviously, with Girl it doesn't work, it just puts her into a reining twirl (which she has been trained to do but I don't know how to do so we never do together).

Meanwhile, one of the newer guys at the stable who's been taking lessons is getting two new polo ponies this week! Weeee! I'm hoping he'll let me ride one of them eventually because polo ponies are also of the race horse mentality like Girlfriend and I bet they're really fun to ride! I've been looking up what polo is all about and it does look kind of fun. But not as fun as mounted shooting looks.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Having an adverse reaction to election results

I'm not very happy with the election results I'm seeing in the state of Washington (where I live) this morning. Although Patty Murray is not my favorite she is a far cry better than Rossi and at least she is ahead right now, although only barely. And privatizing liquor sales did not pass which is good. What amazes me is in the comments section on the local news how angry so many people are that those liquor initiatives did not pass. Did they not read about where the money from liquor sales goes? Did they not read about what the outcome of the lack of state revenue would be (cuts on social services including police services, fire department, emergency medical service)? There was all this hype (paid for by places like Costco and Sams Club) saying that the State would save a bunch of money on liquor sales advertising and that money could go to social services which hello! Is a lie. When was the last time you saw a tv ad, billboard or internet ad touting the sale of Jack Daniels at your local State owned liquor store - paid for by your liquore store and not the manufacturor? The reality is if you do a little research is that the revenue from those sales goes to support community services and to take away that revenue would be catastrophic and instead your hard-earned money would be going into the pockets of Coscto shareholders at the expense of police and fire servics.

Ok, so at least those two initiatives didn't pass. But the tax on candy, bottled water and soda was repealed which means far less revenue toward education. WTF people! You would rather save ten cents on your jumbo Three Muskateer and have more cuts to our already sub-par public education system? Give me a break! It's a tax on stuff you DON'T NEED. If you don't want to pay the extra few cents then don't buy that extra Jolt cola. And the income tax on the rich didn't pass. The income tax that would only affect individuals making $250k a year or families making $400k a year. Do you know WHY it didn't pass? Because the CEO of Microsoft and Jeff Bezos spent literally millions of dollars campaigning against it and telling people "You're next! First they tax us, but then they'll come for you! Don't be fooled!" which is total bullshit. What they were really saying is "We are selfish and don't want to pay any more taxes but we don't want to beg you to vote the tax out based on that so we're going to scare you with lies in order to get our way." Aaaaaagh! Our state is already woefully behind the ball in social services for the mentally ill and health and hospice care for the dying and education. It's just pathetic. We have so many millionaires/billionaires here and yet we have very sub-par education, especially in the Seattle School District. The only reason our elementary school does so well is we have a PTA that is rich enough to have a $100k + budget to fund things the school district won't - like our librarian, school nurse, counselors, art program just to name a few. If we were in a poor area where people couldn't donate so much money we wouldn't have a librarian, or a school nurse or a counselor for special ed. kids. Oh, your kid is autistic? Well, if you can't afford to hire private counselors and special ed. teachers yourself than screw you. It's not our fault you're not rich. If you had been smart enough to only give birth to typical children since you're poor and can't afford the expensive counseling needed then you wouldn't have this problem. Jesus fucking Christ.

I'm going to start researching other states and see if there are other states where people are less likely to fall prey to the propaganda machine and will actually think these things through and where the majority of people want community and teamwork in their community - not a bunch of "Fuck you - I've got mine and I'm hanging onto it. I don't care what happens to you. But when the fall-out of no social services hits I will complain loudly about it even though I'll refuse to do anything to fix the situation."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Should be working on NaNoWriMo

I said I'd do NaNoWriMo this year - that is National Novel Writing Month. It's a challenge to write a novel in a month of at least 50,000 words. It doesn't have to be good and the point is to get in the exercise of writing, as opposed to writing a little, going back and editing and obsessing on each little piece and then burning out and never finishing it. I hadn't been interested in doing it for years because I've already written three novels, but I'm going to try it this year because I've had such a huge lack of motivation to write down the stories that are hanging out in my head. And I have three good novels in me right now that I just need to find the motivation to get them written. So, I started yesterday and managed to write 855 words. To reach my goal I should've written twice that. And I haven't written anything today and am being a bum and writing in my blog instead.

But I have to write about my weird fight with my horse today. I took my friend, Jen's mom, Paula out to the stable with me just for a day out for her. She's in town from Columbia, MO to help with Jennifer's kids while she is in Sweden this week and I like her and enjoy her company so I invited her out to the stable with me. Being in the country is nothing new for her though because she's lived on a farm for years. But she seemed to like it. Anyway, I was telling her about Girl and what a great horse she is, but then when I got out to ride her she started acting up more than she has for awhile now. I think it's because I haven't had a lesson now for at least a month between my daughter's surgery and then having to catch up at work and me getting sick too.

I think I handled it ok though. I know that I'm not supposed to end things on a bad note so I kept that in mind and just stumbled through. Walking was fine and Girl and I worked on leg yields because I'm doing pretty well to the right but don't do as well to the left. At least I could tell when she wasn't straight and was moving off her front end more than her back end. So, we practiced those for awhile and she did well. Then we did some trotting and she did really well so I tried a canter, and she got a little excited and bucky, but our second attempt at cantering was much better.

My big mistake was trying to go into a canter from a walk. I don't think I should do that until I do it in a lesson because Girl is trained not to go into a canter from a walk, but a full on Western haul-ass gallop. And that's where things went downhill. She was irritated with me because I wanted her to canter and she had gotten all excited to finally get to do some racing. I did get one good circle of cantering in, then wanted to go back to trotting. But she did not want to go back to trotting and pinned her ears and bucked a little. I went through all the stuff I've been learning - loose on the reins with gentle half-halts, quiet hands, sit back and tall, contact with my heel but relaxed upper legs - and she was just get angrier because she wanted to run. Finally, after a couple serious little bucks and throwing her head really hard with her ears pinned I stopped, then asked her to back up. She reluctantly backed up and threw her head really hard, so we just stood at a halt (ok, I told her to stand at a halt and she did for 30 seconds then started dancing). Then we walked in a circle, then I asked to her halt, then had her back up again and this time she backed up really gracefully and nice so I praised her and gave her lots of pets. Then we walked around the arena a couple times and we tried trotting again and this time she did a lot better. She didn't do as well as I know she can do now but she stopped pinning her ears and didn't buck when I gave her half halts when she broke the canter.

I was really proud of myself for handling that. My instructor was home but she was running around doing stuff and didn't stop to talk to me so I figured she was too busy to be bothered today. Plus, someday I'm going to have to start practicing using the stuff I've learned and not go running off asking for help before I even try.

Friday, October 29, 2010

not going back to n'awlins this year

If one can have a crush on a region, I definitely have a crush on the greater New Orleans/North Shore region. I realize that New Orleans has more crime than any other city in the U.S. except maybe Detroit or L.A. but I don't actually want to live in New Orleans. I want to live in Mandeville or Covington - across the Causeway on the north side of Lake Pontchatrain. My lovely Southern husband who knows the South much better than I do keeps on trying to convince me that I don't want to live in Louisiana. But he has not managed to convince me. I love the food, I love the crazy humid weather, I love the sun, I love the architecture, I love the accents, I love the friendly people and the freaky way they just blurt out what they believe without any concept of being "politically correct". And I love JP's extended family. I love swamps and gators and bayous and that the normal deli foods at Whole Foods is ettoufee and shrimp scampy and gumbo. And you can get hot red pepper at any grocery store.

Needless to say I'm going through a little heartsickness that we're not going to New Orleans for Thanksgiving again this year. I don't know what we're doing for Thanksgiving this year. I asked my husband what he wanted to do and all he said was "Eat." I'm toying with asking some of my relatives I would like to be more in contact with, but I'm not sure my husband is up for a houseful of my redneck relatives. He for instance, is not as impressed with my uncle's drawer full of guns and me and my daughter are.

We just got back from the "Fall Carnival" at my daughter's elementary school. It's actually a Halloween carnival but I think the school district doesn't let anyone call it that because holidays are not allowed in school. It is fun and this evening was a reminder of just how much I like the staff and teachers that I know and how many parents I like. But it gets so crowded and no matter how much I try to keep a calm, centered attitude, crowds always sap my physical energy really quickly.

Speaking of things not allowed in school, there is an afterschool Bible study group at our school apparently. I did not think those were allowed either. I actually have no problem with that and think it'd be cool to have study groups for a variety of religions, but I also was surprised it is allowed for any religion. One of the parents was asking if I thought my daughter would want to go because her daughter wanted to ask her but the mom wanted to check with me first to make sure it wouldn't offend me. I said it was up to my daughter whether or not she wanted to go and said I didn't know those kind of groups were allowed. The other mom said she's pretty sure that any group would be allowed, even - then she paused and said, "What would be the opposite group? Like a Satanist group. Or actually I guess more realistically and athiest group." My socially inept neighbor was standing next to us and said, "Yes, the athiest group - the group for critical thinking," and for some reason that just flipped a switch in my head and I got so angry I couldn't stop myself before snapping, "Oh, so only athiests are critical thinkers?"

Now I know that if someone makes a closed-minded blanket comment about how one group of people is superior to another, it is best just to let it float on by and just be information that this person is clueless. But since socially-inept neighbor knocks on my door twice a day to walk the kids to and from school, I realize we are on that edge of being friends even though something always holds me back a little from actually being friends. I have been trying but little things have been annoying but I just totally lost my shit over that comment. So, after I said that the neighbor just put her nose up in the air and said, "Hmmph," and I snapped, "So, I am incapable of critical thought because I believe in God? What's so fucking scientific about that reasoning? How open minded is that reasoning?" and my neighbor just continued to stand there with her nose in the air and I said, "I'm leaving! I am really offended!" and stomped off. After she caught up with me she said defensively, "I just don't want anyone shoving their religion down my throat," and I said, "Well, I don't want anyone shoving down my throat their idea that I'm a fool and can't think rationally just because I believe in God." So irritating. I am so tired of people who are not very well educated acting like they are intellectually superior to me just because I happen to like to believe in God.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ah guilt ...

I've been trying something new to me this year. I am attempting to not over-commit myself and not push myself too hard. Last winter I was sick far more than not and was constantly stressed about not just being sick but not being able to get everything done while I was sick. So, this year I've made my schedule a lot less hectic and if I'm feeling really stressed out and run down I'm canceling obligations (within reason) to rest and take care of myself. So far it's been feeling really good and I've been wondering why I didn't do this sooner but today I hit the wall and realized why I'd been pushing myself so hard until I burned my bridges at both ends ... guilt. Huge guilt. Guilt as big as a tyranosaurus and as fast and unreachable as a tachyon.

(side note: my husband used the word "tachyon" yesterday and I absent-mindedly asked, "Is that some sort of animal or some sort of molecule?" It is a sub-atomic particle ... hypothetical of course, but then when I asked if it was an animal I assumed it was hypthetical too ...)

Anyway, I've been going through a lot of emotional angst in my head the last few days with lots of grief I had forgotten from my childhood coming up and dealing with that, plus I'm having a big flare-up of arthritis today and didn't sleep well because everything was aching so much. So, I canceled chaperoning my daughter's class to go see a play this morning as a field trip. My reasoning was that they have more parents than usual going so they don't need me. But still I feel guilty. One of the moms (who has a newborn and four kids!) asked me if I need anything and I felt so unworthy and like I'm being such a bum. Logically, I know that if I'm worn out from the RA I need to take it easy and I need to take care of myself to bring down my stress level (which makes RA worse) and chaperoning on a crowded old school bus to sit in uncomfortable chairs for 2 hours with a bunch of hyper first graders is not taking care of myself. But now I feel sooooooo worthless and pathetic. If I'm not taking care of people I feel like such a loser. I know there is a balance in here that I can find where I have a good work ethic but also take care of myself. It's just very hard to come back from the caretaker/hyper-work-ethic mode of the pendulum.

Our society does not value self-care as a whole. At least not through media sources. The only kind of self-care that I really hear about that is acceptable is consumerism self-care: buying a nice car or cute shoes, going out for a nice dinner or fancy desserts, or splurging on a day at the spa. Just taking time for ones self to rest and be quiet and ground one's self is just so ... weird. Or maybe it's kind of "cool and exotic and Eastern" at best.

So, in the same spirit that I was a little punk rocker in suburban Burien back in 1984, I will rebel and take care of myself with impunity. Without buying new clothes or spending money I don't have on an over-priced spa. By taking the time I need to rest and be quiet and work through some feelings and not push myself when my RA is acting up.