Friday, October 30, 2009

Another Day In

The schools are back open today, and huge blocks of snow are falling out of the trees as it warms up a little. On the way to the bus stop this morning, Addie (bedecked in her princess/ballerina costume and snow boots) noted that we could see a little blue sky peeking through.

But I'm still homebound today. Nolie woke up at 3 in the morning because the power went out, turning off her nightlight and white noise, and she was burning up and complaining that her legs hurt. Her cheeks are a flaming red today and she's got an oogy sounding cough. So I'm catching up on email, thinking about everything I need to get done in the next few days before three weeks of travel begin, and just trying not to unspool too much over the weirdness of this week.

Yesterday had its tough moments--it was our second snow day, and some of the first day's strategies were stale and tired by the second. What's funny is that we were our own jailers--though there were two feet of forbidding, slushy snow out on our own street, all of the major streets and highways around us were pretty well plowed and driveable (a friend saved us in the afternoon by coming over with her adorable little boy; we might not have survived the day otherwise). So, we could have gotten out, even in the slippery little Hyundai, but didn't, because we didn't know we could. Silly us.

I've been doing a lot of pilates on these slow days, and yoga, and also trying a new strength-training regimen for back pain. I wake up every day creaking and groaningand in pain, and I am disappointingly grouchy until I work some of the kinks out. And I'm wondering if this is just a particularly bad time that I'm working through, or if this is my new life, to be sore and uncomfortable for much of the day. N. wrote a brilliant post about her struggles with R.A. here, and reading it calms me a lot. So we'll see how the next few weeks of sleeping in strange beds and hours sitting on planes and in airports go. I may be mainlining ibuprofen and doing cat/cows on the concourse.

Eric's supposed to be home in a few hours, and I hope a lot of my dis-ease will dissipate then. It's been surreal being here, in all this snow, with our house creaking and moaning and snow clunking all around in the night, and the lights going out and my little one burning up, and my shoulders and neck screaming at me, without him. Beneath it all has been a little tinge of the threatening, because I'm alone and responsible for all of this somehow, and I've had to shoo off the what-ifs. So I'll be glad when my partner is back and we are in it together.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Snow

We're being absolutely duked on by the snow gods here in Denver. Out where we live, near the foothills, it's coming down hard. In our backyard, it's piling in drifts, and the snow's up to my knees, Addie's thighs, and Nolie's armpits. So all schools are canceled and we're hunkering down. I wish E was here, but he's in Illinois nearly being electrocuted while setting up a laser.

We had a sweet, cozy morning, tinged with that giddiness you get when you've been freed from your routine through no fault of your own and time stops for a while. Then, after lunch, the typical cabin fever hit, and I had to resort to Joy Jar: Kid Version, where I put a bunch of activities in a jar, and as we get bored, we pull one and have to do it. So far we've pulled:

bake cookies
have a dance party
make a family newspaper (fascinating reading) to share with E when he gets home
shovel snow and take pictures to send Daddy
clean coins (a favorite activity of all OCD capitalism-loving American children, weirdly promoted by Montessori)

I wonder what will be next? The pillow jumpy castle? Painting? Pilates with Mommy?

The suspense is killing me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On Speed

Boy. Good thing I didn't get pulled over this morning, on the street that runs right between Nolie's preschool on the left and Addie's kindergarten on the right. That would have been embarrassing. Good thing I wasn't going 31 mph in a 20 mph school zone, whizzing right past the motorcycle cop who is stationed there every morning.

Because if I had been going 31 in a 20, he would have had to pull me over in the very small, very intimate parking lot of Nolie's kindergarten, lights flashing, with all the other parents watching and either shaking their heads or giving sympathetic looks.

I imagine he would have been pretty nice about the whole thing, had I been speeding, and let me take Nolie into school while he was writing up my ticket. And, of course, it probably would have been one of those mornings where she's extra clingy, and starts crying and screaming about how she hates school (she doesn't). And I would have had to extricate myself from her alligator-jaw-like-grip, explaining to the teacher I had to go so that I could go get my ticket from the cop waiting out in the parking lot. For speeding in a school zone. Between the schools my own two daughters attend.

Probably, I'd get lucky, and the guy wouldn't double my fine or the "points" assigned against my license. Which would make the ticket only $160, not $320.

That would have been one heck of a way to start the day. Huh?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good Idea Gone Wrong

Addie has a friend over for a playdate today (an all too rare occurrence). Snow is falling outside, we made brownies, bread, and stew, and the afternoon was calling for a kid-oriented craft idea. So we pulled out the great book Crafting Fun: 101 Things to Make and Do with Kids. I figured the scarecrow would be a good fit, seeing as Halloween fast approacheth. Easy, fast, fun.

Lest I think, for one minute, that I am Martha Stewart, the image above will remind me forever that there is some dark perverted corner of my soul (and maybe of my childrens') that led to this. She looks like someone gave her a roofie, no? There are some interesting gender markers, all weirdly arranged, no? She's oddly alluring, yes, with that cozy lap and oddly arranged lumps? My kids love her. Him. It.

Happy Halloween, friends.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Looking on the Bright Side

An author I love, Barbara Ehrenreich, was on The Daily Show last week, talking about her new book, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. I haven't had a chance to read the book yet, but based on the interview and a few preview articles Ehrenreich put out while writing it, I think the narrative goes something like this:

Ehrenreich got breast cancer, and went to some online support/info groups. From those groups, especially, she received messages that encouraged her to "think positive" about the disease. Some, it seems, also suggested that she was somehow responsible for the cancer, maybe because of actions or--and here's where she's pretty upset--because of her thoughts. There are lots of people out there, Ehrenreich says, who believe you can control the world with their thinking. They even think they can draw wealth to themselves.

Maybe even...sewing machines.

It was an odd experience watching her talk about all of this. On the one hand, I think, yeah, no shit. In some ways, the popularization of the New Thought movement in the form of books like The Secret or The Law of Attraction have had some problematic effects. They can strip the spiritual, the divinity, from New Thought tenets and become overly focused on material gathering and consumption.

On the other hand, every spiritual movement has folks who stay on the surface of things. Every movement has folks who say things that might bother someone who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and shouldn't have to deal with anything remotely Pollyanna-ish or facile or condescending, and who can blame that person, because really, who the fuck needs it? Every spiritual movement has folks who might even blame someone--or that person's sin, or diet, or geographical location, or emotions--for a disease they get. All of this might feel pretty annoying. Grating. Symptomatic of some hideous cultural malaise.

The problem is, I don't really recognize my faith in Ehrenreich's description of "positive thinking." It seems to me she's cherry picking, though I'm aware the same could be said of me, since I haven't read the book.

My faith, a New Thought faith, has the divine at the center. Yes, many of us refer to it as the "universe," simply because we have weird associations with the word "God" (and, in my case, even with the word "church"). But the divine spirit is still at the center of it, no question. Because we emerge from divine spirit, are one with it, many of us do believe that the way we move through the world is determined by our thoughts, creative manifestations of the divine. I don't think I can bring breast cancer upon myself, but I do believe that if I get it or any other disease, I do have some choice about how I react to it. For me, this realization (that I'm not a victim of circumstance but have agency) was hugely revelatory and liberating. And I owe that to New Thought.

I know there are quacks out there. I know you can pull quotes that make me and my spirit-traveling peeps looks like nutjobs. And some of us are. But I'm very clear on the fact that the spiritual world I move in is not all about happy-happy and smiley-faces. It's deeply human, flawed, and tragic; it's also beautiful, and full of grace and freedom and choice, regardless.

Ehrenreich says, at one point in the interview, that she came out of breast cancer "much nastier" than she went in. I love this about her--her feistiness, her rawness, her relentless desire to call things as she sees them. I don't expect her to come out of breast cancer any differently than she wants to. But I do think it's possible she's choosing that nastiness, and that others may choose other responses.

Happiness and positive thinking undermining America? Jeez, I doubt it. If you have twenty minutes, and want to spend them on a raw, wicked, gorgeous, funny story, please, please go here. Because there's the America I identify with, and love, and the role that seeking out happiness and choosing peace can play in saving our asses every minute of our lives.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back Up

Hey! Blogger tells me this is the sixtieth post here at the new Toddlerspit. Cool. If you're new to this site and want to look back, the old site is still available here. Also, I have a new post up at the Huffington Post Denver, which you can find here. That post is on the myth/reality of "clean coal," if you're interested in energy issues.

Anyway, I've been slowly knitting a scarf, when I have a few minutes here and there, but otherwise have found it difficult to get sewing done. This is partly because it's been wintry here in Denver, and we tend to close up half of our house when it's cold so that we don't have to heat it. The half we close contains my office/sewing room. It's freezing in there! Also, I think it's nice to knit when it's cold, and I can do it anywhere in the house.

But mostly I haven't been sewing been because my back has been giving me a heck of a time, and I find I'm needing a few more hours of sleep a night to deal. Turns out that I have scoliosis, see, and it's getting worse as I get older. I've been told off and on by various folks the past decade that I have it, but it hasn't really bothered me until now. So thinking about how that is going to change my life here and there has been a trip.

There are great things to be grateful for everyday, though: the sun breaking through for a little while yesterday; Eric coming home for dinner last night; a beautiful circle of loving friends; my kids' health; falling leaves; love and love and love all around.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Checking In

I haven't disappeared, not permanently, anyway. I ended up heading to Idaho Saturday night, and made it just in time to say goodbye to my Grandpa, who passed the next morning. Addie's had the flu, and both girls stayed home Friday and Monday. So today and tomorrow are long days of catching up at work. Work, by the way, is a bit crazy, with talk of increased teaching loads and decreasing salaries. Interesting stuff.

But, a few epiphanies to share, briefly:

1. I can choose to be happy, no matter what. Isn't that amazing?
2. Whereas in the past few years I spent a lot of time wishing I could be in bed longer, resting, or just wandering around the house, or just sitting, in the past few days I realized that I like to get up in the morning. I like most of what I get to do everyday. The only time I feel unhappy is when I wish I was doing something other than I'm doing. If I stay in the present, I'm pretty stoked. But I also still like laying in bed or wandering around the house. If that's what I happen to be doing.
3. It's hard to visualize the future, and where you want your life to go, if you're focused on staying happy in the present. Unless you just want to visualize yourself being happy in the future, too. That works.
4. There are times when I don't feel happy. That builds compassion, demonstrates my tremendous humanity (flaws, flaws, beautiful flaws!), and allows me to recalibrate. Feeling unhappy is also a gift. And having a big cry often makes my body feel lots better.

Kay. That's it for now. I'll write more soon. I have in mind an essay called "In Defense of the Chic Flick," which is not about what you think. But we'll see if it makes daylight.