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Archive for the ‘Planet Sster’ Category

Struggles

We’ve had our desktop PC in a closet for a year (boring reasons) and have recently set it up again.  All of the sudden my old tabs and bookmarks are up again, and I kind of feel like blogging again.  Except I can’t.  Almost everything I’m going through that matters, that I really want to write about, I can’t.  I can’t write about our family’s tentative future plans, or my current work situation, or the state of the dissertation, or even my ADHD.  I am feeling private, too, about my son, who is his own little man. I used to feel brave about these things, but not so much any more.  I want to talk to a few people I love and trust and that will have to be enough.

I will say this much–and maybe I will also learn to say more and still be discreet–this is both a hard and a good time.  It is the most intense it has ever been.  I wish, I wish I could tell you…

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Yesterday was language development day.  After a successful attempt at getting the Snapper dressed without a fuss–victory is mine!–taking a stroller ride to KMart for laundry detergent, and some wonderful freeplay, we played with a stack of letter cards together.  They’re the kind with the letter and some sort of representative object.  We just went through them saying the object and the letter it begins with.  I didn’t think it would make much of an impression (he’s only 2 1/2, after all), but at the bus stop as we were hunkered down watching the miniature world of the sidewalk I asked him, “what letter does ‘ant’ begin with?” (‘ant’ was on the ‘a’ card specifically) and he answered “A, Alligators all Around!” quoting a song we love.  It was thrilling.  Of course it could just be a coincidence and he certainly doesn’t know all of his letters, but it was cool.

After lunch/reading/nap we hopped on the bus to the library, where he had a tantrum over sharing at the train table (seriously, if you are going to have your 14-year-old babysit, please forbid them from texting) and got to see his favorite babysitter.  Then we met Attic Man and friends for pizza downtown.  One of the Snapper’s most favoritist of Attic Man’s friends was there, and he was ecstatic to have the friend carry him partway to the bus stop to go home.

I wanted to say a couple of things about this preschool-at-home approach.  First, it’s mostly for me.  I need structure to, as Kohana phrased it, always be moving toward the “next thing” so I don’t get stuck.  Second, I really believe there are as many ways to parent as there are kids, and that lots of people do it with very little structure and their kids thrive.  Mine wasn’t (well, as much as he could be), and I wasn’t, so I did what was needed.  Third, I am not in the least deluded enough to think that this will necessarily give the Snapper any kind of academic edge.  He already lives in a language-rich environment with adults that pay attention to him and include him.  Honestly the teaching is just a lot of fun for both of us.  The moment it becomes work we will change it up.  I imagine the unschooling people have a similar philosophy with their older kids, and I can really get behind that.  Learning should be fun.

One of the nice things we’ve arranged these days is for Attic Man to do the entire bedtime routine so that I can go to our Community Garden plot in the evenings.  It’s been so nice to get my hands in the dirt.  I’ve planted peas, broccoli, romaine lettuce, okra tomatoes, peppers, rosemary, cilantro, green beans, and cosmos for the ends of the rows.  And I’m planting more today!  I may run out of garden before I can use up all my seed packets.

And the Snapper this morning?  Playing happily in his room.  He hasn’t called for me yet so I’m enjoying the time to myself.  He has never done that before.

So life is good.

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SIXTEEN persons, SIX (J, J, L, C, E, S) of them under seven, five of those six mobile, under one roof.  I somehow find myself simultaneously glad for just my one and longing for many more.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(apologies to the fam for getting the count wrong)

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that I’m here:

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Once upon a time, before the boy, I lived on a country road just outside a medium-sized town in Western Pennsylvania.  Our family lived on an acre of land–huge-seeming to a child–with two maples, a crabapple, a line of pines (with one fabulous Douglas fir), a few leftover plum and pear trees from an ancient orchard, and a huge garden between the pines and the woods.  The property to the north was flanked by a lovely apple orchard and the fence separating the two lots was braided with grape vines.  Our ranch house was bordered on every side with some kind of intentional vegetation, including a small plot on the south side I claimed for myself, without having to ask or anyone minding, for the purpose of nurturing perennials, to which I was partial over my parents’ annuals at the front of the house (my classmates smoked to rebel.  I planted perennials.).  From the time I was eight and a half until the day we drove out of the driveway in a moving truck when I was seventeen, this yard was where I spent most of my time out of school.  Sometimes I played basketball and football with the neighborhood kids, but mostly I spent that time alone outside, feeling at home, rooted.  We could see every kind of weather from the large picture window in the living room that looked to the west, and the mile of woods that separated our road from the development that marked the beginning of the town.   When I wasn’t in the yard, perched in my spot in the crabapple tree (where I wonder if J hearts R is still inscribed…) I was in those woods, walking the path that overlooked the ravine, redirecting water that filled up the channels made by logging trucks, mapping the clumps of trees with names and purposes, and breathing.  I managed to acquire an old camera at that time and started taking pictures of every place and every angle of light I loved.  I loved every sort of weather, especially the temperamental days when the wind would take my breath away or when the rain seemed to be desperate to wash our house down the hill (or mountain, as it would appear to an Iowan!).  The snow sparkled on a sunny day in that place, and if the wind got to be too much in winter there was always the hollowed-out shelter of the huge old pine tree made by removing a few dead branches.  There is no better shelter in this world than the base of an evergreen when a winter storm is moving in.

When I got to be a little older and the woods became smaller to my now-adolescent eyes, I started four-mile walks on the country roads further east of town, past farm houses and fields, and mainly on late spring days.

It was near the end of that time that I met a boy who loved the outdoors every bit as me, maybe more.  Somehow my passion for the incredible weight of the earth merged with my passion for this person that understood me even when I was saying nothing more than breathing.  We met in school but fell in love while sledding in the winter, hiking in the spring and fall, and canoeing in the summer.   This boy, a budding geologist, took me to the national forest and taught me about rock formations and river basins and about towns that had been washed away for not paying attention.  And the cliches are all true: colors were brighter and every rock, tree, and stream was richer, deeper.

Yesterday–or two days ago I see now, as the hour is getting late–it went off like a bomb: I forgot in that time to preserve my own private, spiritual connection with the earth.  I transferred it to my relationship, and when that relationship ended, I let it die.  Not all the way, but in a way that I couldn’t mourn without mourning the boy.  And now, even after all this time, I have been trying to live my life without that connection and rootedness that went so far beyond both the physical earth and my inner spiritual life.  No wonder I’ve felt depressed, rootless, and lonely, even as outwardly my life has become a success.

I don’t know how it could not have happened.  I learned early to let myself die to boys.  When I dated Robby, I loved saxaphone music; when I dated the boy, I listened to Mahler.  In my age I’ve learned to let Attic Man’s interestsinspire rather than overtake me, and I’ll be forever indebted to him for introducing me to live jam band music and rather black brand of humor.  But I need to recover the me that predates boys.  And the me I most want to return to is the me that sits in a crabapple tree at sunset, singing a hymn.

I’m no fool–I can’t erase that boy nor that time in my history, and I wouldn’t if I could–but it is possible to recover some of that rootedness in a way that will feed me now and allow me to be what I yearn to be for myself and for other people.  I’m not sure where to go with it, but I think I might start just by being outdoors as much as possible, giving up some housework for long walks (or as we did the other day, tree-communining in our lovely park) and shooting for a hike every weekend, when possible.  I also need to consider more seriously our more permanent home, when those jobs finally materialize, and where it would be best to live for my health.  I need mountains, baby, and TREES.

What should have happened, what the boy would have liked to have happened–because I know him that well–is for that time to have deepened what was already there, not forever wedded it only to him.  It took thirteen years, but it’s time.  Now.

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I don’t have a specific agenda today.  I just wanted to show up, in part because I was struck this morning–for no particular reason–by my die-hard readers who show up themselves from time to time just in case I’ve written anything, even if I haven’t written in a long time.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given my own habits (I STILL click on AfrindieMum at least once a month) but I’m still a little surprised that someone would bother for this particular blog.  So that makes me feel good, and it makes me want to show up once in a while.  Here I am!

Re: adoption…there isn’t much to write right now.  It still bothers me that we can’t adopt right now and won’t be able to for quite some time, but I’ve been able to find some peace about that.  Partly it’s because we have so much to do with raising the one we have and finishing school so we can actually get jobs that adoption gets crowded out on a regular basis.  But my heart still melts when I see babies, like it did last night at the Snapper’s early birthday party, and I pretty much cannot watch any adoption shows on Mommy channels.  They remind me that I have a huge adoption-sized hole in my heart.  I’ve stopped researching specific avenues, because I think we have to see where we’re going to settle first, and that will have to wait until we get jobs.  Between the economy and the tightness (tightitude?) of my field, it would be foolish to put more strictures on a search.  The right thing to do, the only thing to do, really, is to see what kind of home and community we will be working with and choose a mode of adoption based on those circumstances.

Otherwise, I’m still baking bread and loving it, the Snapper is alternately delightful and tantrummy, I have too many friends to count here (so grateful…), the first snow is flying…

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Today I am soaking chick peas, waiting for bread to rise, waiting for laundry loads to wash and dry, waiting for a child to go to sleep and waiting for him to wake up again, waiting for Attic Man to come home and waiting for my mother-in-law’s visit.

So much of domestic work is about patience.  I am experimenting with low-yeasted breads in a cool house and am finding longer rise times–three hours or more!–yield better-tasting loaves.  I am learning that chick peas make snapping sounds as they soak, which one only learns in a quiet house during naptime.

I learned about the chick peas while I was paying bills, and it occured to me as I very happily for the first time in months was able to pay everything in full, on time, that so much patience is required, and that what happens while bread is rising and chick peas are snapping and checks are en route is faith.  It can be worry, too, and anguish, but it can be quiet faith.  That is hard.  I am not there yet.  Being able to pay those bills and pulling a beautiful loaf out of the oven can help future waits fill up with faith rather than anxiety, but each time it is as if the world is starting over again and it can be hard to remember that yeast can be trusted.

so can therapy.  so can friends.  so can water in chick peas.

when will I learn?

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