Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

On today

I'm still feeling the pain meds so this may be a little disjointed.

I was scared today. I've never been a patient in the hospital for anything except giving birth, so this whole "surgery" idea was a mystery. I'm posting this so that if someday, someone is going through something similar and happens to find some degree of reassurance, it will have accomplished its purpose.
We got there at the appointment time. I registered with my driver's license and insurance card, then went to the appropriate floor. I was led back to my own waiting room where I changed into a hospital gown, shower cap, and paper slippers--everything else was taken off. I put my own clothes in the plastic bag for such. Dale was brought back to keep me company.
My blood pressure and temperature were taken and The Questions were asked the first time: any allergies, medications, medical conditions; why are you here today. All of my jewelry had to come off, even engagement and wedding rings. THOSE were a treat, let me tell you.
I was asked about pain at the moment. No pain, but when I mentioned I was bleeding, I was offered the Maternity Fishnets and accessories or chux pads beneath. The latter seemed more appropriate. They also put an IV in my hand.
The anesthesiologist came in and asked The Questions again. When asked about a hit of Versed before, I wavered. Dale admitted it would make it easier on him, so I accepted. Since I'm overall healthy, I had some options for the procedure itself. I chose general--I wanted to be out.
We spent a lot of time waiting. Doc's c-section was taking longer than anticipated. The residents came in, asked The Questions a third time, and answered our questions--how long does the procedure take, when can we try to conceive again, etc. When told why we were there, they expressed a little concern. "There's been no fetal pull for three weeks," I reassured them.
"You've been dealing with this for three weeks? And you had to wait until now?" Sympathetic.
"We kept hoping for something to change."
Finally we were told that Doc was on her way. Did I want to see her before the second dose of Versed? I did, so they waited until I was in the operating room. She came up to me holding a mask over her face. I recognized her voice and eyes. I told her it was nice to see a familiar face--all of them had been friendly, but hers was the first familiar.
I crabwalked from the gurney to the surgical table, they joked a bit about the bleeding ("Blood in the operating room? That's a surprise!"), adjusted to where they told me, and faded to sleep.

I woke up in recovery. I didn't stay long before they wheeled me to my own room where Dale could join me. I got two capsules of Percocet and two cranberry juice boxes. I was still wobbly but not queasy, so they took out my IV, let me get dressed, and wheeled me out.

Balance is still off and I can't focus visually on much, but emotionally right now I feel okay. God took Edmund (the name we've chosen) a while back, so nobody died today. My thoughts keep looping with a sense of relief. "It's over. It's over. We can move forward now."

Thank you all for your prayers.


Why are YOU homeschooling?

As promised, some answers in varying degrees of politeness.

1. I know I would drive a teacher crazy asking about tests, reviews, when things are due, how my child is doing, what we can work on at home to help, so I just decided to skip the middleman.

2. To minimize their exposure to the likes of YOU.

3. I'm too lazy to get my child(ren) out the door by what time, 8:15? every morning.

4. To allow my child to progress at his or her own pace. For example, my child is a grade ahead in [insert subject here]...

5. We never have snow days.

6. We're in the "gray area" for Detroit Country Day--my spouse makes too much to qualify for financial aid, but not enough to afford it without.

7. We couldn't afford Catholic school.

8. I think my child should learn in a real life situation instead of in an artificial construct like school.



Tuesday, January 30, 2007

To keep everyone current...

I report to the hospital at 10:30 AM tomorrow. I'm not supposed to have anything after midnight; no big surprise, but since I don't have to be up early, I'll be having my last late-night snack around 11:30 tonight.
I don't know if this is a secret, but we're thinking of names for this one. I'm thinking Erin/Aaron or something like it. I don't usually like androgynous names but there's no way to tell which we lost.
I have no idea what to expect. Hormonally, physically, emotionally. I expect the recommendation is to wait at least one cycle before trying to conceive again; we'll see how it goes.
Ever optimists, the kids are already praying for the next one.


Monday, January 29, 2007

From the lighter side... country music

In the summer of 1995, I went to three concerts: Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and Hank Williams Jr. (Cue Sesame Street's One of These Things is Not Like the Others). While I'd heard the likes of Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and John Denver, my ignorance of country music was quite profound. It was bad enough that I actually asked, "Are we going to see Hank Williams, or Hank Williams Jr.?" Through their laughter, both my gentleman friend and mother managed to inform me that a Hank Williams show would be either very boring or very gruesome as he'd been dead for some time.
While we were waiting for the concert to begin, the sponsoring radio station was playing over the loudspeakers. My ears perked up.
"I know this song," I said. What was it? I listened harder.
Down, down, down, and the flames got higher... so familiar....
It burns, burns, burns...

"Hey!" I finally got it! "Social Distortion does this song!"
After a quick look around to make sure nobody had heard, my date said, "That may be true, but this is Johnny Cash, and he wrote it."

Change of plans

My doc has a previous obligation on Friday, so I got moved up to Wednesday, her usual surgery day. She has some scheduled c-sections that day but I'll probably be first. Circumstances are saying that it may be moot anyway.

I still go in today for the last ultrasound, but I'm not expecting any change.

This will finish off the Second Worst Month of my life.

This picture demonstrates the only good thing to come out of February for me.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

My Ideal House

This is my fantasy house--it doesn't exist in reality but, if we hit big on the lottery, it would be a lot like this. This is also a "distraction" post; if I brood much on the events of last week and the upcoming, I won't get anything done. But here goes.
My ideal house would be around 1700 square feet--not much more because it gets hard to monitor. The one I grew up in was around 1400, and I'm just allowing for the extra rooms.
It would have no more than 4 bedrooms. I think it's good and healthy for kids to share quarters. The wall between the kids' rooms would be collapsible--again, for ease in monitoring and bedtime stories but still allowing for privacy in dressing, etc. When they got old enough it would remain closed more than now when they're little.
The fourth bedroom would be a library. Not an office; it would have bookshelves along all the walls and shorter three-shelfers in the middle. A couple comfy chairs and we'd be set.
It would have a real dining room, big enough for a dozen.
There would be a room set aside for school, with the kids' texts and books and desks. It would have a large window, that one. It would be big enough to have a Quiet Reading Area too.
A basement would be nice, but only if it's one of those farmhouse basements that takes three or four rows of glass-blocks instead of the measly useless two. Two rows don't even let light in! The glass-blocks are optional, by the way. There would be a workspace there for Dale, complete with pegboard. Of course, the basement wouldn't leak.
It would have two and a half baths, the half being in the kids' room. Everywhere I've lived has had only one and it would be a nice change. The nicest, in fact.
The kitchen would be big enough to eat in as that's where we'd generally do it.
I don't care where the laundry is except: a) not in the kitchen and b) close to each other. One would think that goes without saying, but we did see a house where the washer and dryer were not on the same floor. Can you imagine trucking a heavy wet load of clothes up or down a flight of stairs? Probably the basement, but a first-floor laundry room would work, too.
I don't think Dale could stand it without central air, so I make that concession to my husband.
The garage would fit two and a half cars and a breezeway would connect it to the house. Another pegboard would be mandatory.
The Ideal House would be located on at least .75 of an acre, though I think I'd like a whole one. Hmm... Maybe five would do it.
Now, I don't care if it's a ranch or colonial as long as all of the bedrooms are on the same floor--just one of those weird fire paranoias I inherited.

Did I miss anything?


Friday, January 26, 2007

Hello, everybody!

Thanks, all, for the heartfelt words and prayers. The kindness of people I've never met is especially touching.
I've been kind of overwhelmed with all the visitors in the past few days. I think I'm generally shy by nature and, except for my college years, have been that way. Don't laugh--I was too shy to call and order pizza. I still don't like to do it.
If you're new here, welcome. Stick around if you like. I'll make more coffee or send Dale out to get more snacks. It's not a big rollicking spot with lots of topics and visitors like my husband's; it's more domestic. Kids, their adventures, their education, home life, the Church, domestic events... That's pretty much it.
I've got a post percolating on homeschooling--short answers of varying degrees of politeness to the questions, "Why homeschool? Aren't public schools good enough?" It was inspired by The Neighbor's conversation.

Like I said--welcome. If you need it, the bathroom's right down the hall, and I'll be back in a jiffy with some cookies or homemade banana muffins.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Prayers please

We found out today that nothing has grown since last week. There's nobody there. I'm in kind of a stupor though as long as I remain superficial I can function.
I had my hopes up so high... I was thinking about what we'd do with the girls' birthdays in September if I'm waddling around dilated to 3... but no.
We've scheduled the surgery for next Friday afternoon. I can go in Monday for a confirming ultrasound but it seems pointless. I want one closer to the surgery date just to be absolutely certain but five days before is meaningless.
I managed to say to my doc the earlier we do it the sooner the healing and recovery can start. I'm trying to convince myself of it.

St. Gianna, St. Elizabeth, and Mother Mary--pray for us.

Sort-of related if you squint: we've seen medals to St. Rachel, Jacob's wife. Does anyone know when her day is?

UPDATE 10:10 PM--Thank you everyone (and it does feel like everyone) for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers. They are comforting all of us.
Our parish Moms' Club met this evening and one remembered that last January, her son was diagnosed with Hodgkin's. He is now in remission. She said she got through it by her faith, knowing that it's not her place to tell God not to send any more bad things her way. They are all part of His plan. I'm reminded that even this is, too.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

One of those days.

It’s been one of those days. Well, since supper preparation.

We had Cincinnati chili—pretty easy. Well, Rachel happened to be watching as I opened the cans of tomato soup and politely asked that I pour them while she sat on my hip. “You pour soup, Mama? I watch? Bees?” I did, remembering after that I should have spooned off the fat first.
Sigh. Before I stirred the soup in, I tried shoving the soup-topped mass to one side while I tried to drain it. The pan has very short handles so I was wearing an oven mitt. Smart, right?
Not so much. As I was doing this, I smelled something funny. Is that the soup burning against the side of the pan? Nuts, that’s not going to taste good. Giving up on the grease as I’d used turkey anyway, I set the pan down.
And realized my hand was on fire. Yep, our gas stove had ignited my oven mitt. I managed to blow it out and douse it in the sink without the smoke detector (fresh batteries last week!) going off.

Then after dinner, the kids decided they were still hungry. The Mature-and-Responsible one got out the noodles left from supper. [She didn’t want the oatmeal-raisin cookies sitting on the table. Have I mentioned my kids are weird?] She’s generous too, so all three children were sitting in the living room with roughly 4.5 cups of cooked, cooled spaghetti.
Two of the three know their limitations and took small handfuls. I was finishing cleaning out the fridge, which involved disposal of the last vestiges of Christmas dinner. Rachel in a blatant denial of reality took in both hands a lump about as big as Daddy’s fist and proceeded to mash her face into it. Irretrievably…
She decided she was done before it was gone and thus scattered it on the floor. Lucy got it when she came in from barking at phantasms.

Just before going for bath, I asked Rachel, “So what do you think?”
She replied, “Sank you, Mama.”
“For what?”

Just in case that wasn't enough to make you laugh, here's a sampling of what we're hearing.
Madeleine: Excellent!

Or: "I'm going to my happy place." She got that one from me.

Or all three, generally to Daddy:

"You're a loony."
To all those who think I should be at work instead of homeschooling my kids: just think. Then *I* could be having an influence on yours. Mwah-ha-ha!!


Monday, January 22, 2007

Kids updates

In descending order:
Madeleine is doing well school-wise. At our current rate, we'll be completely done with the kindergarten curriculum by Easter (she's already in first grade math). We'll be adding geography with the official start this spring and I anticipate liking the first grade science a lot more than the kindergarten.
We have entered the world of dance recitals: Maddie's in ballet. If you ask her, she's "been practicing for years," though she's only had two lessons. She loves it and looks adorable in her pink leotard and tights. I'll post a picture as soon as we have one developed.

Dale is coming along slowly speech-wise. He's looking forward to the surgery primarily for the ice cream and Popsicles, hearing notwithstanding. His therapist cautioned that it may not be the magic bullet. After some research, though, she found that kids with enlarged adenoids being mouth-breathers, their mouth muscles aren't as strong as they should be thus resulting in some speech impairment. I'm looking forward to the results.
We did start a little bit of "school" with him, trying to get him to identify the letters of his name. It seemed pretty easy since he wanted to do his whole name, not just the four letters. "Where's the third?" Not only that, he knows his phone number. He answered when Madeleine asked me.

Rachel is still all attiTWOde and thus we haven't started potty training. She's stubborn. If it's her idea, she'll take to it like a duck to water. If she's pushed, it could take years. Eh. I've dealt with two in diapers before, so I'm not feeling any particular rush.
She is remarkably articulate, though. This evening she wanted some stickers open. "Mama, we need scissors to open this." Okay, this was more dis, but you would have had no problem understanding her.

The player to be named later seems to still be in place. This week's ultrasound is at 10:10 AM Thursday and we should be able to see someone. According to Tsiaras' From Conception to Birth, 48 days is 16mm long and has wrists, eyelids, ears, and obvious starts of fingers and toes. I'm not expecting to see all that, but something more than "I think that's it" would be just great. And my OB didn't have any problem with me going on prenatal vitamins. I'm looking for reasons to be optimistic, and that's one more for the list.

There you have it, my world in four paragraphs.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

You can choose to be anything...

Except a stay-at-home mom!

Okay, I'll admit something. Housework is tedious. Dishes, laundry, vacuum, sweep, repeat. I've heard it called "cyclical," and that's all well and good, but in the short term it's repetitive. None of it is intrinsically rewarding unless you're obsessive-compulsive. I don't get that much pleasure out of a load of sparkling dishes or clean rug. What *I* like is my children having something clean to play on or eat from. So yeah, that much of being a stay-at-home mom is not fully using my capacity. It is mind-numbing drudgery.
But aren't all jobs rife with it? My husband works in an office. Do you think he likes filling out all the paperwork? Rachel's godfather works for one of the Big 3. More than once I've talked with his wife, her godmother, and Daddy is returning from out-of-state, multi-day travel. For whom is that fun? Or is the fun in waiting to see where the ax falls this quarter?

I don't understand the rest of her diatribe, though. What kind of careers are these women walking away from? Are they all six-figure cancer-curing doctors? How many are CEO's at corporations, making life-altering decisions on a global scale? Do I fall into her category, with my international bachelor's degree and start on a master's?
Reality check for Ms. Hirshman: I taught French and Spanish to young adolescents in a suburb in flyover country. Why is taking care of someone else's children an approved choice while taking care of my own is a betrayal?

I also plan and prepare roughly 2/3 of the meals at our house (Daddy gets breakfast most days). Now, if that's not moral, is managing a restaurant? Why would planning and preparing meals for strangers be a good decision but doing it for my nearest and dearest is bad?

Okay, if all children were perpetually two (instead of just some, and I'm not referring to Down's syndrome), I can see where one would get brain-rot. If they never advanced beyond "MINE!", "GIMME!", and "MORE!" they would try the patience of the pope. But they don't. They grow and change and learn things. It's exciting to watch.

I'll admit another thing, since I'm truth-telling. One of the reasons we're homeschooling is to fend off brain rot in me. I get all of the joys of teaching without the negatives. I get to plan what we cover next, figure out how best to present the material, check for understanding, see the light click on over her head. I have to know where we're going next, be prepared to advance, develop new ways to show...
I don't have to deal with 150 report cards or progress reports every 5 weeks. I don't see weekly athletic eligibility rosters. Parent-teacher conferences are over in a snap. I never have to adjust my schedule for fire drills, lockdowns, or assemblies. Forget reading 50 error-riddled, two-paragraph essays on an 8th grader's ideal house or family. Or spending hours checking tests when I'd rather be doing anything (including washing dishes).

Then again, maybe I've been brainwashed into thinking how my children are raised matters.

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This next week in science we're studying health. What do we need to be healthy? Good food, exercise, enough rest, personal hygiene. The plans say to use seed beans to show how things grow with what they need; I don't think my kids have the patience for it. Combine that with trying to explain photosynthesis (yes, kids, the plants make their own food, they don't need to eat) and we have a flop.
My kids are little. I was thinking we could experiment with food and the digestive tract. With the four of us (Dad would be exempt), we could see whose processes food the fastest. I'm thinking blueberries as opposed to beets for obviousness upon-- ahem-- conclusion, as the troops all love blueberries and they change color of one's product.
Or would corn be better? Suggestions?


Friday, January 19, 2007

It's National Quit Lurking Week!

At least, Mama said so.

And it's almost over. So leave a comment! Come out of the woodwork! Tell me what you'd like more of! Or less of. Or updates on.

Especially those who haven't told me before!


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Guarded-good news.

Well, we didn't get an image of a baby. The tech saw a yolk sac though, which is new from a week ago. It also translates that medical science says the baby is five weeks, five days, instead of two weeks older like our calculations. The tech wasn't very concerned about the lack of baby-image ("I think that might be it, but it's still so early"), but for not-quite-six weeks, everything looks great.
Doc is supposed to call this weekend (they have a pile of stuff she needs to review, and we're in it) with the answers to "Where do we go from here?"

You know, I'll take 5.5 baby versus 7.5 "blighted ovum" necessitating a D&C. And prayers are still in order. We haven't quit.

Hey, Milehimama, now that the news is out, could you tell me where you got that pregnancy ticker?

Ultrasound is at 11:30am today.

We should know more soon.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Montessori and education

I've started hearing recently about Montessori education. For years it was just a big Italian name on the front of some day care centers and schools; Milehimama's Montessori Mondays and another friend have put me on to the idea. We're starting to contemplate preschool ideas for our son, frankly.
So I started doing research, and have decided I want a book to read on my own about Maria Montessori, her methods and philosophy (don't laugh, any of you who have seen my house and the number of books we already have). I've found there are almost 1600 listed at Amazon, both by and about her. Even ones titled Montessori for the New Millenium.
Now, let me share a little secret about the education establishment. I've called my dog "ecologically aware" when she recycles; she's got nothing on those folks. Back in the day, we were at a staff meeting being told of some new philosophy or practice that was going to Make the Difference We Needed. One seasoned teacher two years from retirement politely raised her hand. "What did this used to be called?"
I'm convinced revised, updated Montessori is going to be stripped down, tinkered-with, altered and unrecognizable to the original Italian lady. I may be wrong, but experience says otherwise.
We're old-fashioned (Dale prefers the term "classic"). Give me the original.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Yesterday's epistle

I Corinthians, 12:4-11
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of ministries, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of workings, but the same God, who works all things in all. Now the manifestation of the spirit is given to everyone for profit. To one through the Spirit is given the utterance of wisdom; and to another the utterance of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; to another faith, in the same Spirit; to another the gift of healing, in the one Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another the distinguishing of spirits; to another various kinds of tongues, to another interpretation of tongues. But all these things are the work of one and the same Spirit, who allots to everyone according as he will.

What does that mean? We all have different gifts. I'm trained as a French teacher. Now I'm a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. I'm an expert in my kids: their preferences, personality quirks, moods, needs, habits, et cetera. Why? I've been studying them in minute detail for years. Thinking about them, analyzing them, planning and preparing for them. When I'm asked about theology, I admit I have a pretty weak background. I consult better minds than mine, those with a better background who have spent more time with the subject--Mark Shea, Amy Welborn, Christopher West, Church documents, St. Ignatius of Loyola (or Antioch), St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine...
That's why when we got married we didn't even consider writing our own vows. The Catholic Church has been around for some two thousand years; I have a feeling they've got pretty watertight vows after that long. We in our humanity probably would miss something.
That's what it means to be part of the Body of Christ. I like to think I'm part of the heart; my husband generally is part of the head, occasionally the spleen. We can admit some are the appendix, but why name names?
Like I told my students back in my schoolteaching days: Being a teacher doesn't mean knowing all the answers; it means knowing where to find them.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

We interrupt this for a musical interlude.

Hello... is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone home?
I need some information first.
Just the basic facts.
Can you tell me where it hurts?
There is no pain; you are receding.
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.
I have become comfortably numb...

Thanks, Roger Waters.

Friday, January 12, 2007

2007 is off to a flying stop.

We found out two days before Christmas that Madeleine had gotten her way. I've been ready since August; Dale had reservations. I admit I hadn't made it easy for him, but tried to respect his wishes as head of the household. But we accepted God's will joyously and started talking names, due date, maternity clothes... After two September babies, I'd be set...
Then, the day after Christmas, maybe the 27th, I started spotting. It's been intermittent but yesterday it turned red. At the ER, they did a blood draw (good), cervix is still closed (good), but the ultrasound was inconclusive.
At my OB today, she told me it's probably a "blighted ovum," which means a miscarriage, but it's really too soon to be sure. I go tomorrow for another blood draw to check hormone levels. If they're good, I'll have another ultrasound Thursday to see if the week made anybody easier to see. If they're not...
As I'd had a little spotting with Madeleine, I wasn't worried until it turned red. Will try to keep you posted.

Prayers gratefully accepted.

UPDATE 1/13/07: My OB called with the blood test results this afternoon. The hormone levels were up, but not nearly as up as they should be. We'll confirm the diagnosis on Thursday via ultrasound, then we'll have a week for things to happen naturally.
I'm feeling... disconnected right now. Thanks, all, for the prayers.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The more I read about...

Target, the more I like Sears.

Weren't they selling bras in size 5 a while back, too?

And while I know they've stopped, one wonders what (or if) they were thinking when they started.

Update 1/11 5:30 PM: It was in Australia, but it was Target.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

On children and perfection

Amy Welborn has a post up about screening for Down's syndrome. Having three normal, healthy children--relatively speaking, I suppose--I feel ill-equipped to talk much about it. I did date a guy who said he'd have little patience for a child who didn't understand math; what would he do with a child with Down's? I have reason to believe he's unmarried and thus I hope he's not "burdened" with children, especially one with Down's. My own experience is fairly limited. But it goes like this.
A friend from college has a brother with Tri-Somy 23, I think. I may have the number wrong. He was a gentle soul who idolized his older brothers. And he wasn't the youngest, either. (I'm not sure whether to use present or past with that; it's been years since I talked to Bill.)
In my years of subbing, one of the places I really liked was the POHI--Physically or Otherwise Health Impaired. Why? Lots of reasons. The classes were small, the parapros made it easy, the lesson plans were always detailed and easy to follow. The kids were varied in their abilities; some had cerebral palsy, some were retarded, one actually was a thalidomide-impaired kid. He got in trouble frequently for the speed at which his wheelchair traveled through the halls. There was one boy named Michael whose task it was to drop clothespins into a jar from a distance of four feet. He taught me that every child is the sunshine in someone's life.
Another boy--John--programmed his voice machine to do an Elvis impression: Thankyuhthankyuhveramuch. I remember the first time he saw me. He was just sitting there, waiting for class to start, and he looked up. Suddenly his whole mood brightened, he shoved whatever was on his tray aside, and pointed to a word: WHO. I walked over and looked. "My name is Miss Blaesing, I'm subbing today."
And we have a nephew with grand-mal epilepsy. He turns 10 this month. We haven't seen him very often because of an ugly divorce and geography, but he has helped teach me what unconditional love is.

My final thought? Nobody is perfect. Some imperfections are just easier to see, is all.

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Will my kids be too educated for college?

Charlotte Allen has a marvelous piece in the LATimes. My own bachelor's degree, completed circa 1993, had a minimum of fluff. Yeah, there's a little bit (Shakespeare on film, a poetry writing class), but for the most part, my classes were meaningful.
With the course we've chosen for our kids, though, and articles like Allen's I wonder. Will my kids finish high school overeducated for college? Like I don't have enough to worry about!
Ms. Allen's conclusion sums it up quite nicely:

The bigger problem is that too much of American higher education has lost any notion of what its students ought to know about the ideas and people and movements that created the civilization in which they live: Who Plato was or what happened at Appomattox.

Instead of the carefully crafted core programs that once guided students through the basics of literature, philosophy, history and the social sciences, most colleges now offer smorgasbords of unrelated classes for their students to sample in order to fulfill requirements. And the professors stock the smorgasbords with whatever the theorists they idolize tells them is the new new thing.

Why not take a course in "The Phallus"?

You can get the same credit for it as for a course in Greek tragedy.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Still discombobulated.

When my dad passed away fourteen years ago next month, it was like everything was upside down. It gradually shifted back, mostly, but remains about a quarter inch to the left.
Things haven't gone the full 180 degrees but they're still off. And my concentration is shot. I managed to get lesson planning done Sunday but only with deliberate and labored focus, and I almost forgot her weekly spelling words. Anyway...

Update on the son's surgery: Valentine's Day, sometime in the morning. Currently he is the first on the list (7:30), but if they get a younger child, we'll get bumped to later. We could have done February 5, but I already had a doctor's appointment scheduled. And this way, it's a lot easier to remember. We'll get a call with pre-op instructions, some of which I already know, and have a chance to schedule a tour of the place the week before to make it less scary for all involved. We didn't get that with Madeleine, but at 19 months, I don't know if it would have mattered. That's tonsils, adenoids, possible tubes on Wednesday, Valentine's Day. I'll keep you posted.
I asked his therapist this morning if she thinks he's hearing everything like he should, and without questioning my judgement, explained that he doesn't show any of the red flags for hearing impairment. He makes all of the "plosives" during their sessions, for example. Those are the sounds of /p/, /t/, and /k/--where air "explodes" out. The /k/ especially, as there really isn't anything to see when making it. But she has his attention when they're working, and like I said, he's passed all of his hearing tests. He just doesn't do it in day-to-day speech.

Yesterday was the luncheon for Christina, then we went by the funeral home for Viola Murphy. This morning the kids stayed with Grandma while we went to Mrs. Murphy's funeral.
It was at a former Catholic church. I know there are Protestants--even some Voskovite Catholics--who would have remodeled this place beyond recognition, but these folks hadn't. It still had the windows from when it was (probably) a Franciscan monastery. The left side over where the altar was had those for St. Peter, with the papal tiara and upside-down cross. Opposite was St. Paul with the sword and some lightning for that whole Road to Damascus event. Going to have to do some research on what happened.

And like my beloved said, it's only January but "I'm pretty damn tired of seeing good people buried this year."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Unable to concentrate

On much besides tedium (washing dishes, folding socks) right now, so I'll share some Christina stories.

She had a rich and varied employment history. None I would personally call a "career," but they were generally interesting and off the beaten track.
She worked for a while in an optometrist's office. Chris referred to it as Mr. Magoo's Home of Myopia. While not terribly fond of the work (as a receptionist?), she did get her eye care for a substantial discount. So she got contacts to turn her normally greenish-hazel eyes a vivid emerald. When asked by a clerk at a gas station, "Are your eyes real?" Chris had little patience for dumb questions, so she simply responded, "One of them is."

Another job she had was a dog-walker. If you went on vacation or worked long hours, she was one you could hire to come check on your pets, feed them, pet them, et cetera. Well, one day she was walking a client's Samoyed around a rather posh neighborhood. Nature called the animal, and Chris did her doody duty. One of the residents saw her and asked, "What are you going to do with that?"
Again Chris' wit flared. She brought herself up to her full five-foot-four, and with as much derision as she could muster, answered, "Some Satanic rituals require the offal of a white dog." She said she could smell the smoke from the brain gears locking up as she strode off, head held high.

Yeah, I'm going to miss her.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Dale keeps it to three paragraphs; I don't really feel like giving a dissertation.
My friend Christina died this morning after a long fight with cancer. She was 34.

We've known each other for 25 years. Through high school, boyfriends, college, job changes, weddings, Rocky Horror Picture Show--I introduced her, but she went enough times to be able to cue the lightning--we more or less kept in touch.

The picture is her and her husband Tony at our wedding.

I miss her already.

On common culture

Warning: This post has been percolating for a while and I don't want it to get lost in the shuffle to New Blogger. Please excuse the clumsiness of wording and incomplete ideas--no profanity is used. And hey, this IS just a blog, after all.
I've been reading The Educated Child (see sidebar), and I've finished the chapters of subject areas. The history section has as part of its discussion the idea of our children needing a common culture, common history, as touchpoints for national unity. I agree with that idea. If in studying the Kennedy era one has no idea what Camelot was, with King Arthur and Guenevere et al., you really don't get it.
I used to think of Sesame Street as a touchpoint, but I'll admit--my kids don't watch it often. It's not the same as when I was growing up; it's more "interpersonal relations" than letters, introductory phonics, or numbers. And what in Heaven's name is the point of Elmo's World?
So, now we're in 2007. What are some common cultural discussion points? I remember when River Phoenix died and was thus heralded as the Champion of Disillusioned Generation X, and Kurt Cobain was later the spokesman for my generation. Problem: I don't think I've done enough heroin (as in any) to regard either of them as peers.
Are we too diverse a country to have them? I recall hearing of a discussion regarding official language here in the U.S. The discussion centered on Spanish, but frankly, I still think that would be a regional choice. Here in Motown we have a large and growing Arabic-speaking community. Should Wayne County have a second official language? Should Macomb, with the Hmong in Warren and the Albanian in the Romeo area? When should we expect immigrants to speak the language of the majority of their country, if ever?
Are they ideas I want in my home? If you tell me in order to understand their country and its role in the world my kids need to be acquainted with most of the "works" in our local B. Dalton, you're out of your mind. Things like this or this or this... I don't think so. (side note: children's lit is a mess. I think the reason so many pop culture "icons" like Madonna think they can write it is because they see the dearth of quality in their own kids' books and think, "I can do better than this!" Exception: John Lithgow.)
I've recently gone on a classics kick, in preparation for classical homeschooling at the high school level. If I want to be prepared to discuss some of that stuff, even in ten years, I'd better start now. Out go the historical romance and Oprah's book club; bring on Herodotus, Wilde, Dumas, Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain, Orwell...
Then things like this happen (Library purging article at American Spectator) and Rich Leonardi asks some very valid questions (Rich's post on cultural repositories).
I wonder who's in charge of coming up with our common culture, and terrified of what those touchpoints could turn out to be.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Our beloved son is almost four years old. He is bright, active, and kind. Just last night he gave his father a brief (and respectful) talking-to about how Daddy should be nicer to our dog, for example. He gets additional suckers for his sisters when he goes to the barber shop.
He also has a diagnosed speech delay. It's his articulation, his "expressive language." What does that mean? He doesn't make all of the sounds in the words he uses, making him difficult to understand. ("Papa" is Ahpa, "popcorn" is op-orn.) I get him most of the time--in context with familiar words when I'm completely alert. But if he starts trying to tell me about a bad dream he just had, I get nothing. And I'm with him all day! It's worse for Daddy and forget complete strangers most of the time.
Daddy and I have suspected he wasn't up to par speech-wise for more than two years. Various advice-givers weren't terribly helpful. He's a boy, he's a second child, you're just comparing him to Madeleine who's way ahead (she had a working vocabulary of more than two dozen words before her first birthday. I made a list.) We knew better. We did the ISD thing, where he regularly passed the hearing tests but had flat tympanograms. Usually he'd been diagnosed with an ear infection a few days before, and those appointments are a bugger to make, so we just chalked it up to illness.
Now at almost four he's in speech through our local school district. I love his therapist; she adapts to whatever the circumstances are (uncooperative child, extra siblings) with grace and a sense of humor. I just have had the feeling that he's not making the progress he should despite her expertise. There was something more going on. I knew it.
So when we went in to the pediatrician last month, the nurse commented, "Wow, his adenoids are huge!" I had a Dory moment. You know, where she recognizes Nemo and all of her memories come back? That's what it was like.
Adenoids? Those are in your nose, not your throat. She must mean tonsils. Your brother had his adenoids out when he got tubes for his hearing and he snored like your son- becausetheyblockedtheEustachiantube-yourhusbandhasnotonsilsandhegottubestoo-couldTHISfinallybewhatiswrongwithyourlittleboy? EUREKA!
Wait, wait. Maybe they're just swollen because he's ill. Let's not jump to conclusions.
The next week, when my four-year-old son was trying to explain something and I wasn't getting it, I was in tears. When Daddy came out of their bedroom and all was calm, I said, "I'm tired of not being able to understand my son."
His reply? "We have the insurance. Call the doc and get him to an ENT."
So I did. What happened at the ENT?
1. He passed the hearing test but had a flat tympanogram. Again.
2. The doc and intern saw his "huge" tonsils--a 4+ on a scale of 1-4.
3. They did an x-ray and saw his enlarged adenoids. (And showed me.)
4. They peeked in his ears and, while they didn't see an infection, there is evidence of "mucosal fluid" in there.

Result? When his secretary gets back next week, she will call us to schedule the surgery to remove his adenoids and tonsils, and if he finds fluid in his middle ear, tubes too.

While I don't relish the thought of my son under the knife, I'm tired of not being able to understand my son. It's time for him to be understood.


Okay, FINE.

Dear husband converts to the New Blogger and drags me along with him. Kicking and screaming, sort of. I'm a traditionalist, don't you know.

We're back from Up North, as some of you may have read over at Dyspeptic. As in, UP.

Regular blogging will recommence, and a Happy New Year to all and sundry.