A civil society

There is a defining moment in my life regarding politics. I’d been exposed to national politics from the time that KUOW launched and my father found it on the radio. Prior to NPR, I heard a lot of oldies and Paul Harvey. After NPR, I heard a lot of NPR. So all of a sudden, I became exposed to this wild world of politics and the world. I wonder how my life might be different if my father had chosen to listen to talk radio instead? I think he, like me, just likes “voices in his head” at all times.

Anyway, from about the time I was 11 or 12, I passively took in information about the world and politics. But it all became very, very, very personal when I was a junior in high school. There was major school board drama going on. There was a levy being proposed that was important for maintaining services, and there were good guys and bad guys vying for school board positions. I knew the good guys — the ones who supported the good teachers and my beloved principal and superintendent (the school was small enough for me to know both of them well personally). Also, the good guys happened to be the parents of one of my classmates, and members of my 20-something-big church. I attended nearly all the school board meetings for a year and became passionate about the issues.

I was 17. And then the Big Election to pass the levy took place. The levy failed by ONE VOTE. It was a small district. If I’d been 18 instead of 17, the levy would’ve passed. One person’s decision not to vote radically changed my high school. A bunch of the good teachers left. The superintendent left. The principal left. I think the quality of education really did take a hit. It wasn’t ALL about the one vote, but that one vote made a huge difference.

Since then, I have never underestimated the power of my single vote, and the importance of local elections. The national elections obviously get tons of the coverage, and they are clearly important. But I think the local elections actually have a much greater impact on the quality of the lives of Americans. Your local schools, whether your parks are safe, what the job market looks like in your area, how many potholes you have to navigate — those are all decided by local governments. That cute kid across the street? If he goes to a public school, chances are that a portion of his ability to succeed in life (and pay your social security) depends on whether your community decides to support schools with tax dollars or not. And in a local election, it is entirely possible that a handful of votes will decide that issue.

Yesterday was primary day for Massachusetts. I tried to go out of my way to figure out what the elections were and which candidates best served the goals I thought were important. (I personally talked to both candidates for my party and read their position statements in the local paper.) I still failed to identify one of the contested races — I wish there were an easier way to know what was going on in the local elections.

But we walked, as a family, down to Town Hall. We explained as best we could to our son why voting was important. And we were two of the approximately 3000 citizens of our town who voted.

Being an informed citizen requires work. But it is both an honor and an obligation that we have.

I’m TRYING to sleep

I am entering the stage of life where half my conversation topics revolve around cute things my child has said recently. (Seeing as I’m pregnant, the other half are currently unmentionable bodily functions.) Grey’s language is really starting to develop and flower. He keeps surprising me with the words he knows and the concepts he expresses. He’s moving beyond the basic communication of needs and wants and into the realms of ideas. It is unutterably thrilling to hear your child communicate a thought that came from his own fresh and fruitful perspective.

So on to the anecdote. Monday nights are our game night. Grey stays up for dinner, maybe rolls a few dice with us, and then gets put to bed. Sometimes he even stays there. Anyway, last night held true to form and I put Grey to bed. It was a warm and muggy night last night, so the windows were open on both floors, and Grey’s room is right above the dining room. Our games happen to include rather significant amounts of, well, laughter and joking. About 20 minutes after he’d been put to bed, Grey came to the top of the stairs and yelled down at us that we were being too noisy. A. went upstairs to close the windows so Grey wouldn’t be disturbed. He came back, laughing.

Apparently my son, who doesn’t usually object to goofing off after bedtime, put his hands on his hips and firmly told his father, “Stop laughing. It not funny. I trying  to sleep!”

To the child’s credit, he did then go to sleep, and stayed that way until 7:30 this morning. Ah, blessed sleep!

This morning was our second morning in the “Big Boy” carseat. I wanted to take a picture of the car while it was, you know, clean. This seems worth preserving for posterity. Grey said, “Hi Grandma!” right before this picture was taken, and wanted to know why Grandma didn’t say hi back. Given the crossover between cell phones and digital cameras, he might have had a reasonable expectation. Anyway, “Hi grandma!”

Hi Grandma!
"Hi Grandma!"

Baby update — 34 weeks

So I had my 34 week checkup today. I’ve been feeling very good lately, physically. I’m actually significantly more mobile than I was at 25 weeks. Go figure. I mentioned that I had a tiny bit of spotting yesterday and had been having lots of contractions during the warm weather, so she did a pelvic exam. (That fun doesn’t usually start until 36 weeks!)

My intuition was proved correct — I’m already effacing. But then I seem to recall that I was 80% effaced and at least 1 cm dilated at 36 weeks LAST time, and I ended up going the full 42 weeks. (2 weeks post due.) As my midwife said, that’s not the way it usually works. I consider this news unsurprising.

Blueberry (our prenatal name) has consistently had a heartbeat of 144 bpm for nearly all of his appointments, starting with the very first. He also obliged my midwife and her student by presenting well, so my midwife could show the student how to feel the baby’s positioning. Speaking of which, I’m happy to say he’s still head down, butt out, which is exactly where he should be. (At the moment, he’s sort of rolling over in my belly so his butt is moving from the left side to the right side and back again. It’s just as weird-looking as it sounds.)

I remember midwife appointments being chock full of, um, stuff the first time around. The second time around there are about 4 measurements, a little information and rather more gossiping.

Blueberry should stay put for at least another fortnight. But I am so relieved to have hit a point where he would be fine if he came now. I’m looking forward to being able to wish him here, although if experience is any guide, I’ll be doing that wishing for quite a long time!

Weekend review

These are the days that, in the future, I will look back on as golden. I’m pretty sure I’ll forget the petty annoyances and frustrations and remember the golden times. Memory is a wonderful thing that way.

Saturday was Stoneham Town Day! This is definitely the sort of even that is perfect for a new family with a young child moving to town. Most of the organizations in town had booths there — from the cub scout troup to the “Friends of the Fells” to the candidates vying for election in the primary tomorrow. There was a Kiddy Korner with a big bouncy house, some very tame carnival rides (appropriate for 2 year olds). There was cotton candy and slushies and local talent performing near the gazebo. There were many free give aways and raffles. It was both fun and useful to me. Notably, I got to corner and spend significant time talking to the other candidate running in the Democratic primary, whom I decided I preferred. (Note to voters: if you do not want the government run by the same old good old boys, quit electing people who claim they can get you more pork because they “know people” up on the hill. Kthxbye.) Grey had a fantastic time. He loved the big slide. He loved the bouncy house (he went in three times!) He loved the little airplane ride. He loved the balloons he got. And best of all? It’s 3 blocks to our house so we didn’t need to carry anything and just walked home when he got tired. In fact, people were parking on the street almost right up to our house for the event, so we COULDN’T have driven any closer in if we’d wanted to! I’m really liking our house and really liking Stoneham.

After that, I had a massage. I think I’ve finally found a local massage therapist who works for me — good combination of convenient (once again walking distance!), correctly priced and good at what she does. Mmmmm massage….

Sunday was church. I’m realizing that church is much easier for me to go to in some ways now. With Grey being Full! Of! Energy! we’re often looking for things to do with him during the day. It’s hard to stay home with him all day long. (This will not improve come winter… ugh.) Anyway, in addition to being a wonderful place for us, church is a good activity for him too. This Sunday he went out to Sunday School no problemo — running ahead and leading the pack, actually. I’m seeing all my dire predictions of the last decade come true. Anytime there was some kid cutely speaking out of turn during word for children, or making funny faces, or volunteering irrelevant information I knew in my heart of hearts that eventually it would be MY child doing that. And oh! It begins!

Sunday afternoon was dedicated to detrashing the cars. Seriously, people. When you have a toddler and an hour daily commute, it is very very hard to keep your car in any shape that reasonable adults would consider acceptable. But I removed the trash, vaccuumed the car, organized the toy (his first action of the morning involved dumping all the toys OUT of the nice boxes I had them in — les sigh), and installed the new big boy car seats — the booster+ seats. I also put him to the side, since pretty soon we’ll need to put the infant car seat on the other side. And I dusted the interior of the car and cleaned the inside of the windshield. For the record? This is hard to do 8 months pregnant.

We also did a gigantic avalanche worth of clothes. There was the regular tsnunami of dirty laundry, and in addition a good 3 – 4 loads of baby clothes, blankets, diapers, bibs and toys that needed to be washed. Most of them got washed, dried, folded, carted upstairs and put away in the beautiful baby’s room (which I think is almost ready for it’s formal unveiling pictures!)

And there were some truly wonderful moments. Grey has reached that stage where he can break my heart unexpectedly with an overabundance of love. He did it twice yesterday. We were driving to church and listening to some Gospel bluegrass (seriously, if it weren’t for my positions on, you know, the issues, I could totally pass as Christian Conservative). Grey asked if these were Jesus songs (a taxonomic distinction that interests him greatly) and I said they were. Then he said, “Jesus songs jump in my heart.” There are like 4000 ways you could interpret that, but he said it so earnestly and happily that, I don’t know, it just made me rejoice. (Of course, I teared up like three times on my way to church so obviously some pregnancy hormones were involved.) Then at night, as we were watching our family “Muppet Show” and eating cookies that Grey and daddy made together, Grey turned to me and told me, “Mommy, I love you very very much.” No preamble. Not in response to anything. He knows more or less what it means — at least as much as any of us.

My son is full of joy and he loves me. My husband is full of cookies and he loves me. What more could I possibly ask?

Grey at 2

It seems hard to believe that two years ago today I met Grey for the first time. It’s tempting to get all sniffly over how time flies and to talk about how I miss that sweet little bundle. But the truth of the matter is that I like the big boy I have right now and wouldn’t trade him in — even for a younger version of himself.

We’re getting to the age where it’s harder to do these sorts of updates. Grey has hit pretty much all his big milestones. He has been walking for over half his life. His first word is a distant memory. He can get in and out of his car seat and his high chair by himself. He can color. So now we get in to the finer variations. For example, Grey has started playing make-believe. His favorite objects for make-believe are some plastic dinosaurs. I often hear, on our drive in to work, how the dinosaurs are sad and they’re crying. They give each other hugs which makes them feel better. They also seem to have an unfortunate tendency to get into accidents (a tendency shared by his cars). Grey’s language is moving to the “can be understood by strangers” and “can string together whole sentences” phase.

Grey has also started his life as a navigator. He has very strong opinions about where we should drive the car. “Dat way!” Unfortunately this leads to inevitable conflict when we are going to, say, daycare or church and he wants to go somewhere else. Grey has known his alphabet for quite a few months now. But we’re starting to get to a point where he can really use the letters. We’ve taught him how to spell his name by rote (G-R-E-Y GREY!). But I hadn’t realized how much he was picking up about other information on letters. I was watching him play with some of his alphabet toys the other day and listening to him, “B, ‘buh’, bu’erfly (butterfly)”. He did this for about half the letters. (Vowels are more challenging since they make more sounds.) Grey is currently sitting at the other computer playing a game. He’s watching me type and trying to do the same thing. Very cute!!!

I took him in to get his hair cut the other day at one of those hair places that specializes in kids. He sat very nicely for the lady to cut his hair. At the he was offered a lollypop as a prize. His eyes got wide as saucers and he said, with perfect inflection, “Ooooooh, niiiiiice!” He LOVES music and will ask us to turn it on for him so he can dance.

There are some other transitions occurring in the switch from “very large baby” to “very small boy”. We’ve started potty training, sort of half-heartedly I must admit. Grey uses the potty successfully about every other day. He’s pretty good about sitting on it before bed or after his nap, but he isn’t really interested in interrupting his play in order to use it. I’m not willing to push the issue at this point either. I think he’ll need to have some more motivation before this becomes successful. But he understands what the purpose of a potty seat is, what we want him to do, and that we get very excited when he does it correctly. The other thing is a bed. Grey looks so big in his crib it is almost ludicrous. He’s never climbed out of the crib, but that has a lot more to do with his desire, I think, than with ability. He’s really really good about going to bed on time, so there isn’t a lot of time in his day when he’s in his crib and doesn’t want to be. Anyway, we’ve gotten him a “big boy bed” and I may move his crib mattress to the floor today to start the transition. It’s amazing to watch your child go from someone who can’t turn themselves over to someone who can be trusted in their room without your supervision.

Grey has retained his genial demeanor, tempered with a good dose of stubbornness. He definitely has his own preferences. He loves tv, especially Elmo and Spongebob, to my chagrin. He is unusually interested in computers. We have to either completely keep him out of the computer room or let him play on one of the computers. He is pretty impossible to manage in a room where computers are being used if he’s not allowed to use one. His dexterity with a mouse is astonishing. He loves dinosaurs and cars — dinosaurs especially. He’s enamoured of celestial objects and talks all the time about the moon, the sun and the stars. (We have some glitter in our ceiling and he always talks about the stars.) He loves playing at the park and running around. He loves dancing. He’s finally gotten ok with finger-painting, and enjoys coloring for brief periods. He adores eating fresh-picked raspberries in the back yard. He likes playing in (but not stepping in) his sandbox. He loves songs and will sing along with me. He’s very focused on learning new words and will patiently repeat back an entire book’s worth. He has tremendous focus and will apply himself to one task for even an hour at a time. He loves to roughhouse and jump on the bed. One of his first truly complete unique sentences was when we were going to buy his bed and he said, “I pease jump on bed?” He has no fear of injury or fall and usually has bumps on his head to prove it. He reminds his father and I to be careful when we’re going down the stairs. As I mentioned, he goes to bed beautifully. When we tuck him in and give him Grover and say goodnight, he usually says goodnight back to us and then lies placidly as we close the door and leave. He will always share his food with you, even if he likes it.

He is a wonderful child — a joy an d a delight. I’m very glad to have spent two years with him, and look forward to spending many many more.

http://tiltedworld.com/brenda/pictures/EarlyOctober2007

Grey’s 1st birthday

I had high hopes of sending these pictures out along with a thoughtful and eloquent discussion of what’s he’s learned this past year, what he’s meant to us, etc. However, the weekend of his birthday has passed, eloquence is found lacking, at it’s bedtime. Maybe I’ll give you “eloquent” tomorrow after his 1 year pediatrican’s appointment. Or maybe you’ll just be disappointed. Only time will tell.

Anyawy, here are pictures of his birthday celebrations! There are three events shown:
1) Birthday party at daycare on 10/6
2) Gaming get-together with friends on 10/7
3) Birthday party at home on 10/8

All three were great fun!

http://tiltedworld.com/brenda/pictures/GreysFirstBirthday/index.html

I can’t believe my boy is a year old.

Creeping spring

Spring is taking it’s sweet time this year. Part of me doesn’t mind at all. April is the time for spring to be spring. It shouldn’t try to be summer. Part of me is grateful for the grateful amnesia about winter creeping over me, even if it does dull my appreciation of the now. Part of me wants to wander outside in my shorts and tank tops and be warm with every window in the house open and pollen blowing through.

Pregnancy seems to be affecting my sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Part of it is looking pregnant, I think. Part of it is that my pregnancy wardrobe isn’t very good. I’ve gotten accustomed to feeling like I look good in whatever I’m wearing, and I don’t feel that way right now. Part of it is almost certainly hormonal. I’m feeling all unimportant and minor right now at work for no good reason. The accuracy of that feeling might be up for debate, but I doubt I’d feel this way six months ago.

I need to get serious about preparing to have a baby come. So far I have: bought nothing, rearranged nothing, prepared nothing. This is a little on purpose. There’s no need to jump the gun. Why set up a nursery 6 months before you might have a baby to put in it? Alpha is still two months from viability, even. I should save money now to buy outfits for when I need them — when I know what I need. (What if I give birth to a 9 pounder who’ll never fit in 0 – 3s?) But I need to start the process of realizing and accomodating for the new person who is going to join us in our home. This would be easier if I wasn’t tired/lazy.

I feel disheartened and small. I’m sure this is passing, but it seems increasingly frequent as my pregnancy progresses. It is not an accustomed sensation for me, and I don’t think any amount of external validation will make it go away. Although maybe a huge clothes shopping spree would.