Archive for March, 2008

Last Weekly Fitness Post

I am sort of getting bored writing about my fitness routines and I am sensing many of you are, too.  Besides, I have adopted many good habits so I am getting structure and reinforcement elsewhere.  Better to post when I am inspired by some hardship or triumph than blandly and dutifully post every week.

I am on a temporary weight-lifting hiatus due to health issues, but I can almost always do cardio.  This week was the first of running, and it was great!  I’m only running one minute at a time so I’m not overdoing it and giving my body time to adjust.  I found a group on Cool Running’s website frequented by people who are on the same week as I am and it’s very encouraging.  I also got a jogging stroller for my birthday and I’m hoping that will help in the excuse department.  Yesterday we ran/walked to the grocery store (2 mi) and it enabled me to get through the rest of the day without passing out or snapping at someone (a set of coworkers took most of the weekend off to go to a Minnesota mall with their boyfriends, then didn’t show up or find a replacement to relieve me for the shift they were going to work–I ended up working from 2 pm Friday until noon on Sunday with a 2 1/2 hour break to nurse the Snapper and shower at noon on Saturday).

I’m also walking, dancing, cycling, and hiking to everything with the Snapper on my back more because I feel good enough to do these things and they’re just plain fun.   The eating habits are holding steady and I appear to be able to handle moderation.  This is a new one for me.  On weekends I have what I want and by noon on Sunday I am always more than ready to go back to my whole grain, low-sugar, high fruits and veggies lifestyle.  I’m so pleased!

Back to real posts after a day or two of recovery from the weekend.  I must go now and see what piece of furniture the Snapper has scaled this time.


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I am emotionally preoccupied with this terrible story from our backyard.

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In two and a half minutes, no matter how well you structure my environment, I will scream for approximately five minutes after my bath.  I love water and it is not fair that you will not let me stay in the bathtub all night and I don’t care if my lips turn blue.  So there.

When our kids our babies it is easy to coast a bit. And thank goodness–we are so tired from night feedings and hourly diaper blowouts and lugging carseats that we hardly have the energy.

Then they become toddlers. No more escape from issues of discipline and parenting techniques. My son, for one, is in a tantrum phase. Big picture-wise, it’s good. It means that he is feeling and asserting a will of his own and that he is working on communication. It also means that it’s time for us to figure out where we want to go with our parenting. My situation is frustrating because I am (was?) a trained behaviorist and a lot of my reactions in that direction are second nature at this point. Over the past few years, especially after working at the group home, I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with behavioral techniques. They just don’t address the whole of a person. A person is not a robotic consumer of rewards and loather of punishment (I have a more sophisticated critique but I’m going to shorthand it here). I also have some baggage from my upbringing, nothing serious, but some things I’d like to do differently.

All this means that there’s a bit of a vacuum when it comes to discipline and I feel like I’m kind of trying to find my way in the dark. I’m making a lot of it up as I go along. Lately we’ve been working on pairing ‘no’ with a simple, pared-down reason: “danger!”; “that belongs to the puppy”; “you must wait.” We’re labeling his emotions for him: “Say, ‘mama, I’m angry/sad/frustrated!'”; “it’s hard to wait for what you want”; “you’re feeling tired, aren’t you?” I told a friend the other day that it also helps me reorient myself to empathy and compassion rather than pure frustration and resentfulness towards the Snapper. It IS hard to be little.

I also want to parent pro-actively. I want to create situations that have just enough challenge for him to learn but not so much that he’ll be overwhelmed. I’m not sure how to do this with our regular everyday goings-on, though. No matter how well we babyproof there will always be things he shouldn’t get into that he can reach. There’s no way I can see to head off the tantrum. I read in a comment on AskMoxie the other day that you can “honor the impulse” (not sure of the professional that wording comes from) so that if your child is, say, trying to climb somewhere inappropriate you can offer an appropriate place to climb. Sometimes it’s impractical, of course. Especially if your house is as tiny as ours and it’s the dead of winter.
We do LOTS of praise with labeling (“good listening!”; “you followed directions! way to go!”; “you are being safe/kind!”) which is behaviorist but in a way I want to keep.

The thing that bothers me the most is the approaching-aggressive stuff, like head butting and face swatting. All I know to do is to hold his little hands or head gently but firmly and say (not yell), “no hitting. that hurts me” and let him have his scream.

I read somewhere else (Mothering?) that tantrums are a natural and necessary outlet for the torrent of emotions our children experience and that the best we can do is offer a safe and supportive environment for them to happen and some language for them after it has happened. I’ve been trying to work with that idea, too.

This is not much of a post–just working it out on the screen, as it were.

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Feel like crap.

I’ve discovered something that I wish I had figured out YEARS ago.  I need exercise like I need water.  This morning for a variety of logistical reasons I did not work out.  Now, six hours into Toddler Tantrum Day, all I want to do is lie in bed and stare at the ceiling.  There is sooooo much to do around here but I do not feel like doing it.  Aside from my one-day funk I haven’t felt like this since I started working out six weeks ago.  I’m sure the tantruming toddler has something to do with it, but he’s been like this before and I have been rosy and able to bounce back well.

Note to self: take your exercise pill.  Every. day.

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It’s the six-week routine change and I am excited.  Time to start running!

Stats: 90 minutes cardio on stationary bike

2 weight training sessions

1 one-hour Footloose dance party with one of my residents (so much fun)

1 leisurely family bike ride courtesy of a new-to-me thrift bike (20 bucks!)

So I have cardio and strength training but I am missing core work and stretching. I think that I am going to reintroduce myself to yoga–I’m just trying to find a way to do it.  My old routine that I love takes 1 1/2 hours with meditation and I just don’t have that.  I want to do it every day, maybe 30 minutes in the evening.  I should look in my old 30-minute yoga book if I can find it.  I’m also looking to shake up my weight-training routine.  Any suggestions? If you have an exercise ball, do you like it?  Do you have suggestions for good workouts with it?

Eating is good.  I eat healthfully on weekdays and have treats on weekends.  I am still struggling with balance as I am not so good at moderation.  I want to have the occasional slice of pizza or piece of candy like a normal person but I am always afraid that it will be a slippery slope (as it has been in the past) and I also don’t want to obsess over food.  So far, so good this time but who knows…

My group home guys are all with their families for Easter so I get to have Saturday afternoon, night, and Sunday morning with my little family.  It’s been lovely.

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Dear fellow adoption-related bloggers,

I saw Juno today. I waited so long to see it because your opinions mean something to me, especially those of you who have experience navigating the treacherous ethical and emotional terrain of real-life adoption, as first parents, adoptive parents, or adoptees. I was afraid to see it, even.

But I saw it and I liked it and I disagree that it makes light of adoption, that “If you knew nothing about adoption going into the film, you’d learn that adoption is sweet and birth mothers have no issues” (Shannon*). Maybe if you only read the script–what I saw was a pretty intense subtext that argued for anything BUT a happy ending. In my reading those humorous moments don’t make light of adoption; they are Juno’s defense mechanism kicking into high gear. She says herself that she’s dealing with stuff that’s way beyond her maturity level. Isn’t it plausible that her sixteen-year-old self deals with emotional trauma like this by making outrageous statements, by jumping to abortion, then not-abortion, then adoption, without thinking (willfully resisting contemplation), with sardonic humor to make it all survivable? Just watch the faces: in every conversation between Juno and Bleeker (except the last ones), note that as Juno bandies about her dismissive language their eyes are both red and brimming with tears, that there is discernible fear and anger behind them and that their voices crack on the edge of what they’re dealing with. The movie is ultimately about Juno’s flight from her situation, her attempt to coast on top of it without having to address it, and her failure to do so 100% of the time. In this way Bleeker is the character most emotionally honest. He’s willing to feel his feelings without reservation. Juno, on the other hand, is too overwhelmed to do the same.

The end of the movie was NOT happy–in the next to the last scene we again have the incongruity of Juno’s words and her demeanor: as Juno’s voice-over says, “Bleeker didn’t want to see the baby; neither did I, really. It just didn’t feel like ours,” Juno is lying in the recovery bed weeping the kind of slow, painful tears that say anything but “it just didn’t feel like ours,” and Bleeker is there, too, crushed with the weight of what is happening to them.

Yes, they are riding bikes and playing guitars. But I got the sense that Juno–and I firmly believe the directing leads us there–is not done with it. A sense of uneasiness hangs over the movie. It doesn’t suggest a fairytale ending for either Juno or Vanessa, who has lost a husband in the process (and I love both the critique and the dismantling of the happy adoptive couple stereotype). What it does is give us the standard text and a deeply critical subtext that keeps bubbling to the surface in ways that the characters cannot completely control, like when Juno storms out of the couple’s home, having learned that they are divorcing (the happy future she imagines for her baby is destroyed), and pulls over to the side of the road in one of her two emotionally honest moments to sob.

I don’t think that the movie dismisses the parenting option. I think Juno the character does. Remember that it’s her stepmother that brings up how hard it would be to give up the baby for adoption in their very first conversation about it, and the stepmother that defends Juno’s theoretical abilities to parent after the ultrasound tech makes a snide and rude remark about Juno’s adoption plans (“thank God for that,” the tech mutters under her breath). I don’t think that “this movie sent a strong message that in the end, the baby went to the ‘better’ parent, the more worthy and deserving parent, the right parent and to the parent whom the child was meant to go to all along” (Paula*). I think that Juno buys into the myth, that she assumes she is not ready to be a mother and that Vanessa is better equipped (and that the baby was “really hers all along”), and I think the movie is critical of our culture’s uncritical acceptance of that myth. Juno gets off the hook because the movie argues it’s her way of getting through the pregnancy, however flawed it may be, but the audience does not. Every time we want to laugh there is a face that (should) stop us. The movie is a tragedy cloaked in a comedy; its form is technically a classic comedy (meet happy hero, hero gets into trouble, hero overcomes, return to status quo), but its underbelly is anything but. I spent the rest of today feeling heavy and unsettled.

As a footnote, most of the offensive material about adoption (the Chinese adoption comments in particular), abortion, abortion clinics, prolife protestation, birthmothers, adoptive parents, pregnant teens, was bitingly satirical in my reading. I recognize satire by two things: its outlandishness, and its incongruity with other, more elemental features of a text.

On one point I must agree with all y’all. That sound track is bitchin’.**

*I must point out that I respect both Shannon’s and Paula’s views on adoption and their ability to read and analyze cultural texts. We disagree here, but I don’t think their readings are uninformed.

**I’m torn on the MLA rules for this one. Does the apostrophe in “bitchin'” come before or after the period?

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It’s the worst kind of anniversary.  There are no gifts.  But if there were, this year would be paper.  On the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Women for Peace Iowa held a protest outside of the offices of Senator Harkin and Representative Loebsack, complete with a flag-draped coffin replica.  Yours truly and her son in a backpack were pallbearers.

Upstairs, tiny paper coffins made out of printed flag paper lined the long hallway and spilled into the politicians’ offices.  I didn’t expect to be moved, but my heart sank into my shoes when I saw them.  The worst part was the way they tumbled over one another in the offices–lives tossed away carelessly.  Each one represented a life lost and a family torn apart.  Cliches cannot really convey how moving it was to see these tiny coffins.  And there were only 2,000 of them, just half the number of soldiers we’ve lost.

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