Thursday, May 25, 2017

Road Trip


I'm worthless at work today. Oh, I'm getting little things here and there done, but I am excited for the weekend. One of my dearest High School friends and I are taking a road trip Southward, to visit our other very dear friend, and her new baby.

I'm excited for a number of reasons. These two women are like sisters to me. One was there for the birth of each of my oldest and youngest children, and made it a point to visit shortly after my youngest was born. So it's awesome that the two of us get to be there for one of our other best friends. 

I'm also excited because this is the first road trip I've taken completely independent of my family unit. My husband is amazing to me. I'm not made to feel guilty for a weekend with the girls, or travelling without him. Nor does he have any gripes about "being stuck" with the kids for the weekend. It's taken several years to re-condition myself to these foreign characteristics. I'm no longer looking to be ridiculed for being so selfish at a later date. Apparently, this is how most healthy couples operate. Who knew? I will definitely miss him and the children while I'm away. But I am looking forward to the break, particularly before I start a full time class load for my summer semester.

I'm also excited to bring my gifts to my friend and her new little one. We both share a passion for Sci-Fi/Fantasy, in particular Doctor Who. So I have a couple of things for the little one giving a nod to our shared fandom. But what I'm more excited about is the breast-feeding support kit I put together for her.

I remember breastfeeding was one of the worst pieces of being a new mom after my oldest was born. I had little in the way of support, and didn't do my homework either. I had no idea it would be physically painful to do, and I was so pissed at all the women in my life who didn't warn me that it hurts when you first start. Considering how sexualized breasts are in our society, it was slightly traumatic for me, given issues with previous sexual abuse.

Breastfeeding was supposed to be a beautiful bonding experience with my child, and instead it felt like a little vice attaching to a most tender area, and holding for dear life. I was not prepared for the sensation of engorgement either, or the sensation of let-down. All I knew was, I was trying to give my daughter the best, and I just had to grit my teeth every time she latched on, and suffer through it. It wasn't until later I learned the value of pure Lanolin, and good quality nursing pads. Add all of this on top of not immediately feeling bonded to my oldest at the moment of her birth, and suffering immense guilt for it, I was convinced there was something wrong with me, and that I was a terrible mother. I felt ashamed that I was not picking these things up as naturally as it seemed I was supposed to. And I was determined to stick with it and at least to learn to be a good mother. I look back and realize, I put such an immense amount of pressure on myself to be naturally maternal. I realize now, how much of those behaviors are learned versus instinctual.

So I tried to pull together some things I hope will make the experience more comfortable for my friend, including a book titled "Breastfeeding is a Bitch, But We Lovingly Do It Anyway." Just so she has a reference point for those issues that do arise with breastfeeding, and that those issues are normal, and say nothing about what kind of mother she is or will be.

I'm excited to hold a new little life in my arms, and welcome her to the world, and to congratulate my friend's husband on finally becoming a father.

It's going to be a great Memorial Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

So Much Sky
Written in 2008

So much sky to blanket me,
Puffy clouds look like you could
Jump and touch them,
If you had a big enough trampoline.

Walk up the hill to touch the sky,
Green and rolling up to pure blue.
Walk through a cloud,
Or jump on it and fly.

Rocks of red and hillsides of green,
Dotted with yellow, red,
Purple, and blue,
Cresting and falling in a breath taking scene.

The wind touches as a lover's embrace,
Sometimes soft,
At other times gruff and firm,
As it whips your hair, and touches your face.

The sun is warm in so much sky,
Enough sky to blanket me,
And the whole world,
As touchable clouds glide aimlessly by.

Joy and Pain


I've found myself reconnecting with old music lately, songs I used to listen to in childhood, which still have happy, and some bittersweet memories attached to them. Some I used to play while doing chores and cleaning the house growing up. In some cases I am reconnecting with entire albums.

I've always been a fan of Sting, finding a sort of poetic brilliance in his lyrics. The "Soul Cages" album was one of my favorites for that reason. We had a stack of old vinyl records given to us at one point, and there were so many wonderful artists among them, The Police, Pat Benatar, Jackson Browne, Dire Straits, Heart, Kate Wolf, Jethro Tull, Simon and Garfunkle, The Beatles… The warm sound of the vinyl and the barely audible skips brought out by overuse, feeding through the needle and into the speakers, audible art flooding the house, as I cleared dust, and carried firewood. There was always something wonderful about dropping the needle in the groove, and letting sounds spiral out of something so simply dark and mysterious. I have a fondness in my heart for old cassette tapes as well, as I remember hours spent listening to the radio for a particular song, or recording mix-tapes and trading with friends who spent their time doing the same. My prize possession as a teenager was not a tv, or a gaming console, it was a stereo with a dual cassette deck.


I have an appreciation for our electronic formats which have enhanced and deepened the quality of recorded tracks, to help bring out the finer details of a piece. I find so much of the poetry in old music as relevant to today, as some of the new art being produced. Then there are old favorite songs like "Money for Nothing" I laugh at for their very clearly dated content.

My life would not be complete without music and poetry, art and stories. I find a balance of hope and despair among the words and notes. Just as this morning, I find the same in life. My friend had her baby sometime last night, a beautiful baby girl, a child hoped and prayed for, for such a long time, and only finally able to come after my friend lost her mother to cancer. I got to see a picture of a proud and beaming father holding his child for the first time, exhausted, but relieved. I imagine at this point they are resting and will get more information and pictures out later, but they have waited so long just to have this baby in their lives, and I am so ecstatic for them. They are beginning a journey in their lives, that I am slowly making my way to the end of in my own. In some ways I envy that, but mostly, I just smile, because I have an idea of all the great things awaiting their little family, as their daughter grows.

Then I turn on the news to a suicide bombing in Manchester, a concert full of young people, taking time out of their lives to appreciate music and art, some of them losing their lives for the crime of simply being there. I think of all the parents who have lost their children much too soon. I think of the young people whose parents may have been lost attending the concert with them, and I ache for them all. The killing is so senseless. I don't understand our world, and why it has to be so very terrible when it can also be so very wonderful. Despair and hope. No wonder we humans have such a craving for music and poetry, art and stories. How do we otherwise reconcile the juxtaposition of such extreme states of existing?

Monday, May 22, 2017

All Summer in a Semester

I have several things on my mind today, none of which are work related. It's Monday, and I'm tired. The rain is falling gently, and I feel a touch like Margot, cruelly deprived or her "Summer in a Day." Although that's quite a melodramatic simile, considering the lovely day of Sunshine that allowed me to pull weeds and clear flower beds on Saturday. I'm sore from it. I took it slow and steady, but can clearly feel I have worked muscle groups that haven't seen much in the way of exercise in months. The front yard looks a little healthier for it anyway. And maybe, if the weather is good, and my ambition holds, I will be able to do some work on the back portion of our lot.

I'm sore, and tired, and grumpy. Although I can't blame it on the weekend necessarily. Saturday, I spent out in the sun, listening to an eclectic selection of music, and making friends with a neighborhood cat, who snuck up on me, and scared me half out of my wits. The cat, was kind enough to stick around and keep me company while I worked, although he wasn't very much help.

Saturday night I was invited to attend a "Passion Party" with a great group of women, none of whom were shy. It was a fun time, and I was glad I got to go. The following day, an old high school friend introduced me to a good store for full figured women, with an amazing clearance rack. We then went to a local venue to pick pre-made bisque fired pottery projects, which we then glazed to our taste. My friend and I both had a great time sitting there chatting while we worked alongside each other with paint brushes and glaze. And it felt amazing to re-engage the right side of my brain, to step away from the problem solving of calculations and logic, and instead apply problem solving skills to the arrangement of the elements of design.

The pieces should be fired to cure the glaze by Saturday. I'm really looking forward to getting my project back. And I am hoping it's something my husband and I can do for a date night one night, or over a weekend. I think we'd both have fun with it. I'm always on the hunt for stuff we can try together that doesn't involve a bar, or a great deal of expense. This seems to fit the bill, and there are enough techniques and templates, I think he could have fun with it too. I also look forward to taking each of the kiddos down to participate. It would be a good activity to rotate them through for one on one time with mom, something they all constantly remind me they need. And it gives them a chance to exercise their creativity, as all of the children are proving they have no problem with right brain processes either.

It was a fun weekend, but not a restful one. I enjoy being with friends, and trying new things, but I am reminded today, I also need my down time. I think in the future I may stick to just one commitment per weekend. It seems to be all I have the energy for.

I passed my Pre-Calc class, but need to improve my grade in order to take the next required class. So I'm going to re-take it over the summer. With that said, I'm going to have a full time class load in addition to a full time job. I'm hoping that kiddos' Summer Vacation will make this doable, as I don't anticipate having to coordinate school activities. In any case it's going to be a quick and dirty, exhausting 6-8 weeks. But I know I can trudge through it and make it to the other side. I just have to remind myself C's earn degrees too, and right now, it's just about passing, not acing, anything. One of my credits is a Yoga class also, so… Namaste!

In Fall I'll be scaled back to part-time classes again. Depending on how it goes, that may become my strategy for next Sumer as well. I have hopes of being able to graduate with my Associates by Spring of 2019, if not sooner. And then it's onwards from there.

I'm waiting with baited breath to hear when one of my other very good high school friends will have her baby. They've been struggling with fertility issues for years, and finally went through the IVF process. I don't know if this is their one and done, or if they will try for another one later down the road. All I know is this baby has been long anticipated, and is already so loved. I'm hoping to take some days off work to travel and go help her with housework, cooking and the like. They are awesome people, and I have been so grateful to have her and her husband in my life these many years.

In the meantime I've knocked out my middle daughter's IEP, and on Wednesday she and I will tour the High School she'll be attending in the Fall. She's talking about taking wood shop and welding in high school, as she is intrigued by the prospect of college art programs. My youngest is playing Soccer, and is enjoying it, and my oldest continues to make me proud of all her accomplishments, even if they are accompanied by a fair amount of sarcasm and sass. She's an independent thinker, and that's not a bad thing.

So I'm tired and grumpy, but I am also happy. My life makes me smile, and I'm grateful for that.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Uncle

I've been at the library today, studying. I've gotten through eight chapters in my Principles of Accounting class, and have four more left to go. I can tell I'm tired, because I'm not reading the questions as carefully. So it's time to give my brain a quick break.

I have a study room booked for a solid 6 hours tomorrow afternoon. Something tells me I will need every bit of it to muddle my way through the seemingly insurmountable mountain of Pre-Calculus exercises to prepare me for the final on Monday.

I'm ready for this Semester to be done.