We are staying at my parents' house for a few days. Chris and I were thrilled for a chance to indulge in our favorite Schezuan food. (Nothing compares to the food you remember from childhood, and how great that this restaurant is still here to make dishes that tastes the same as they did 30 years ago. In a good way.) At the end of the meal we read our fortunes, which were more flattering personality assessments than glimpses of the future. Mine said something positive about my sense of humor and charm. You know, the kind of generic compliment that anyone would read and think "that is SO me!"
This morning I was thinking about fortunes. Not so much about those particular slips of paper, but about the idea that we can tell the future in cookie inserts, or tea leaves, or coffee grounds. (Actually, I believe in the coffee grounds; they always tell me I need a refill.) I can not be alone in looking to things outside myself to predict my future, even as I refuse to believe that there is such a thing as "fate."
The box of medications on my dining room table is a sign, but of what? Will they portend another child, a disappointment, or something else? This feels like a moment of transition. Either the IVF will work, and that will change our lives, or it won't. Our lives will change then too, but more imperceptibly. The shift will be more inside us, more a recognition of the path we are on than a step onto some other road.
My sister's life is also poised to change: she is finishing school and looking for work. At this moment her options are very open. Her choices will clarify over the next couple of months, but until then she and I spend a lot of time talking about our possible futures, our fears and hopes.
I consider my fortune, both the good fortune I have had so far and the unknown future that lays ahead. My hope for my sister and myself, as well as for all of you, is a 2008 filled with joy and happiness. Happy new year; may we all be given the fortune we hope for.
Monday, December 31, 2007
We are staying at my parents' house for a few days. Chris and I were thrilled for a chance to indulge in our favorite Schezuan food. (Nothing compares to the food you remember from childhood, and how great that this restaurant is still here to make dishes that tastes the same as they did 30 years ago. In a good way.) At the end of the meal we read our fortunes, which were more flattering personality assessments than glimpses of the future. Mine said something positive about my sense of humor and charm. You know, the kind of generic compliment that anyone would read and think "that is SO me!"
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I just got a call from the pharmacy that is processing my fertility medications. Apparently my credit card company would not approve the $3,700 charge the pharmacy was billing me.
A quick call to the credit card company to verify that the charge was not fraud (highway robbery, maybe, but not fraud), and we are back in business. If by "business" we understand I mean "a horrifying sinking feeling that I am spending almost four thousand dollars on things I wish I didn't need."
Good to know my credit card company thinks this kind of thing is unusual. I certainly do.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I have been desperate to call you, and desperate not to. I want us to talk before I start this coming round of IVF. I want us to confer and commiserate before I get into the shots and the office visits. That way, you won't be tempted to track along with me, to hope it works out but know you'll cry if you hear it did. I don't want to call you after I get the results. Either way it will hurt; if I am pregnant I know from experience what it feels like to hear someone else's good news while you are left waiting and hoping for your own. If the IVF fails, I will be glad for the support, but I so much do not want to need that. To be talking about another failed cycle.
The more I go through this, the more I want to be open about it. I am considering telling my bosses. It is self-protective. I have so much work coming over the next couple of months and I want them to know why I may crumble. Or I want them to be impressed that I hold it together. I want them to know. I want you to know, and I think my experience can help you. But there is always some piece of this each person can not get help working through, and that is the part I fear, for both of us.
Best of luck to us, I love you a lot.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
This Elvis sort of reminds you of your old brother-in-law in long underwear on a camping trip, dashing from the tent to heed the call of nature.
Elvis plays Powell's: 'Thank you very much'
Monday, December 17, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
If you think this is as funny as I did, you should go to this site, which offers graphical representations of rap lyrics.
(I'm thinking Karen, Metrodad and possibly Ellen will think this is hilarious.)
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
So that you don't think that all I do is sit around complaining about bland holiday celebrations and the state of my uterus, I present: what I have been doing when not in front of the computer. (Part 1)
Due to a
desire to not feed the consumer machine this holiday season large hole in my checking account (and ok, a desire to fire up the sewing machine on these long nights), I decided to make things for as many people as I could.
I was assisted by an uncharacteristically helpful Ada, seen here watching her beloved Sesame Street dvd while eating roasted chestnuts on Thanksgiving weekend. Ada let me work on one project for a whole hour, when I let her sit in front of an hour's worth of "classic" Sesame Street.
Some of the projects I can't show you right now, since Karen hasn't received her package yet (by which I mean, I haven't sent her package to her yet). I can show you one of the things I made for Ellen. In recent years, Ellen has gotten into wearing aprons while she cooks. She got this from her sister-in-law, along with some actual aprons. Here is the apron I made Ellen for Hanukah:
The apron is double sided, this is the fabric on the other side:
Not sure why I see this side as the second side, since I decided to make an apron when I found it, and then later paired it with the orange and yellow fabrics. This was my first apron. I liked it enough that I will try another, when I can find someone who needs a gift and wears aprons.
Now on to the child-assisted craft:
Ada helped me make new years cards. I like sending cards, but (a) don't feel comfortable sending Christmas cards and (b) even if I did want to, no matter my good intentions I never get my cards out before the week before new year's anyway. I made potato stamps for Ada, and she had a great time smacking them all over some blank cards I had stashed for just such an opportunity.
It was fun working with Ada and it had me excited for the things we can make and do as she gets older and more interested in slightly more complicated projects. For now I am limited to projects that can be completed during nap times and at night. I have an elephant and a stenciled onesie for the soon-to-be baby sibling of Ada's pal Lila. Plus a few more things to make. I hear that one of the admin staff in my office made Ada a hat. To maintain my crafty honor, I must retaliate with something hand-made.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I recently got an email from the office manager at my job. It was about holiday decorations, letting everyone know that there would be a small tree in the reception area, and that everyone was invited to add an ornament. This is fine with me; I like the smell of a fresh tree, enjoy seeing decorations, love Christmas cookies. That I am not Christian and do not decorate my own house (or cubicle) does not dampen my enjoyment of Christmas trappings in the world at large.
What does dampen my enjoyment is the use of "holiday" when "Christmas" is clearly meant. A cut evergreen inside? Origins aside, this is a Christian tradition. I know, as complaints go, this is fairly nit-picky. Still, I am annually annoyed by the melting-pot blandifying silliness of misguided efforts to make all faiths and traditions welcome by merely pretending that the decorations and celebrations mark some larger universal moment of joy. Feh. (or is that Bah?)
Hanukkah (a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar) includes no trees or shiny baubles. Without having conducted extensive research, I am fairly sure that Ramadan and Kwanzaa are similarly tree-free. I even read something recently that said that pagans would never have cut down trees, just to stick them in their homes and watch them die. They did apparently decorate them. That doesn't mean that non-Christians are all offended by displays of other peoples' traditions. (Ok, some are, but let's call a creche a creche.)
Almost everyone in my office is at least nominally Christian. I can't vouch for their level of belief or practice, much less for their denominations, but even the churchless in the group seem to celebrate Christmas in some fashion. I am happy to allow the dominant culture to display its happy traditions and trappings. Just call it what it is. It does not make me feel more included to call it a holiday display, when it is clearly a Christian one. The traditions of Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians are not honored by shoving them into a Christian format. Putting a six-pointed star on an evergreen and calling it a Hanukkah bush doesn't celebrate my traditions, it homogenizes them into meaninglessness.
Living as a nominally "interfaith" couple (to the extent that two secular people can be such a thing) we deal with Christmas by going to it. We celebrate the holiday with Chris's family, at their house. His mother can decorate as much as she wants, which is a fair bit, as it happens. I am fine with that, and my job is to ice the Christmas cookies. Which we all call Christmas cookies. We went to Chris's parents' house this weekend to find and decorate a Christmas tree. I brought the menorah, and we lit candles with my in-laws on Saturday night. They were thrilled to participate, and appreciate that I participate by celebrating Christmas with their favorite traditions.
As a Jew living in a Christian country, I prefer celebrating more holidays to celebrating some meaningless mush of christmaka or quanza-dan. Whatever you are celebrating, I hope it is a wonderful time to enjoy what you have and celebrate with family and friends. And eat, don't forget the eating. Because that is what any good holiday is really about, right?
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
(neither the post nor my emotions)
It just sucks. I really want to have another child, but I am starting to doubt it will happen. There is a good chance it won't (or will, for you half-full people) - about 50% chance with a fresh cycle. But that is a big maybe to be facing. And if it doesn't work, there will be a few more trys left, with frozen eggs. That is good and bad. I can barely wait the month to try our next cycle. If it doesn't work, and we have to wait a month to try again, then wait and try and wait... It is too much. I can't not try, I feel physically compelled to exhaust all our options. But I also want to know for sure. I want to be able to move on. I am so far from moving on.
If today I knew for sure that we would never have another child, I would be looking at a long time to recover from that. I tell people that I will be ok, that if we can not have another child I will get over it. That is true, I will - because I have to - but I tell them that because how can I say how much it already hurts, and how much more I am afraid it will hurt to through that being my truth?
I want to be over it. I want to not be hurting, to be done snapping at Chris for dumb things, to be more loving and hopeful and happy. Instead I am jealous and selfish. There is no way to where I want to be but through the next few or many months. I so much wish there was. I'd agree to live through the sadness if I knew for sure that was ahead. Not knowing is eating me slowly.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
The past couple of weeks I have been putting together a holiday gift list. I'm a bit hampered by the fact that I have twice misplaced the physical piece of paper on which the list was written. But now I have a new and improved third version of the list, and having figured out what I am giving people, I am ready to commit:
Wow, way to jump on the bandwagon. Only 8581 people pledged before me.
I had been thinking about this for a while, but once I decided I could take this pledge and make as well as buy things for people, I got on board. Then I started regularly reading the blog Sew, Mama, Sew!. How I missed this one before I am not sure, but for anyone who likes to make stuff for themselves or others, wow, what a treasure trove.
Each day through November they posted a category of gifts, with links to tutorials and free patterns. I have already made four different things mentioned on Sew, Mama, Sew! and I am making a few more before Chanukah and Christmas are upon us. Speaking of which, I need to get my butt in gear - Chanukah is only a couple of days away! I will share the photos of my projects once I have given them to people. (A few of my friends and family check in here and I don't want to ruin the surprise.)
In other news that doesn't seem like a whole post:
(1) This past week marked a milestone in Ada's verbal development. Ada is already a pretty verbal toddler, and has been talking in sentences for a long time. How long exactly I can't remember, which is why I wanted to write down that last week is when she went from speaking a single sentence at a time to talking almost non-stop. Now instead of telling me that she played with Claire at school, she lets loose with "Claire had the corn. I played with the corn. Claire gave me the corn. Claire had the orange. I waited for the tricycle. Other kids rode the tricycles, I waited." and on and on and on and, well, you get the idea. Add this to the non-stop singing she's been engaged in for a couple of months, and we are pretty much the loudest house on the block.
(2) Since we moved her squirmy, wiggly baby self out of our room a couple of years ago, Ada has slept in a crib. Until today. Well, technically she's still in the crib, but we took one of the sides off to see what she'd think about a "big girl bed". Chris's parents still have the cedar frame he used as a kid, and we'll be bringing that up for Ada in a week or two. We thought we'd put the crib side back on, but she did not want us to, so she's up there right now, snoozing away in a three sided crib. Happy as a (sleeping) clam. No loud child-falling-on-the-floor noises (yet).
Ok, wait. I wrote that on Saturday. At bedtime Ada requested the return of the fourth wall. She was very proud of herself for sleeping in the three sided crib at nap time, but I guess the prospect of doing it all night was a bit much. The big girl bed is still coming, but for now we'll follow Ada's lead on this.
(3) No movement on the potty front. (N.B., any word I could use in the prior sentence feels overly evocative - movement, change, action...) In order to more specifically encourage Ada to use the potty, I have added daily potty time to our routine. This is in addition to me asking her if she'd like to use the potty multiple times a day (she always says no) and allowing her to run around pants-free for hours at a time. She never has accidents, and will ask for a diaper if I haven't forced her to put on clothes before the need arises. Now what? I have a little container of "potty treats" but have not yet sunk to bribing her for peeing in the potty, but I am getting there. I am pretty sure that she'll be excited to get chocolate covered raisins, but I wonder if using food as a motivator is such a great idea. I feel really torn about the whole process, as I know that the moment she's done with diapers I will have to be a lot more vigilant about making sure she goes before we leave the house, when we get where we are going, etc.
Any thoughts? Advice? Should I just not worry? Please advise.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
(Inspired by Ada's reworking of one of her favorite books. With apologies to Maurice Sendak.)
1 was Ada
who got in the bath
2 was a rat
who showed her some math
3 was a cat
who jumped on the soap
4 was a dog
(what a tired old trope)
5 was a turtle
looking to score
6 was a monkey
yelling "Turtle's a whore"
7 a blackbird
drank some bath water
8 was a tiger
said "you're just like their daughter"
9 was a robber
who's exploits he'd rue
10 was a puzzle
what should Ada do?
She stood in her tub
and said here's what I'll do
I'll start counting backwards
and when I am through
If this tub isn't empty
I'll wash all of you!
9 was the robber
who left with a pail
8 was the tiger
who took off for Vail
7 the blackbird
left to meet an iguana
6 was the monkey
yelled "see ya' mañana"
5 was the turtle
gone quick as a wink
4 was the dog
left hair in the sink
3 was the cat
who fled to North Platte
2 was the rat
who slipped on the mat
1 was Ada
who soaked in the bath
and liked it like that!
Monday, November 26, 2007
We talked to the doctor. In the end the decision is ours; do we use our four remaining frozen embryos, or do we start anew? Chris and I decided to try a "fresh" cycle of IVF.
We are going ahead but I am scared. I am afraid that the fresh cycle won't work. When I tell someone this, I often hear "but it will work." It is grating to hear that right now. The odds are better with a fresh cycle than for a frozen one, but there is still no guarantee. I felt so sure last time, but I was wrong. I wish my friends saw that their expressions of unbridled optimism just makes me thing of our last, failed cycle. Sometimes things don't work.
Chris and I are extremely lucky to have the resources to make this choice at all. I don't know that we have the resources (emotional or financial) to do a fresh cycle more than once. If it doesn't work this time around, even if we get some "extra" frozen embryos out of the deal, what we'll have left is one or two more chances to try with frozen eggs. And I know how that turned out last time, even with six good quality eggs. I know that the likelihood of a given trial being successful is independent of what has happened before. I also know that IVF with frozen eggs is a lower probability event than using fresh eggs.
So yeah, the thing that scares me is that trying the tactic with the highest success rate, and having it fail. A couple with normal fertility (especially one our ages) is told to try for a year before worrying. We've passed all that, but I think about it as we head into our next round. Our odds may be higher than a random sex act for a random couple, but success may still rely on this being an iterative process.
Despite my fear of failure we are going forward. Not as fast as I'd like, in fact. Turns out that the lab is closed between christmas and new years. With the start of my cycle last week, that would have put me smack in the middle of the black-out week. So we sitting around for a month. Annoying. Nothing helps an anxious person relax like waiting around for an extra month.
Caution: Awkward Segue
Whatever else is going on (and I know this is a big jump of topics) you have to check out Jan Von Hollenben's series of photographs of children "flying". Taken from a latter above them, the pictures feature children in action poses that simulate flight and other impressive feats. I love these pictures so much. Just looking at them this morning made my day.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Ada has started two new things at once, and they are interacting in an interesting way. Thing 1: fear of things doing her harm. Thing 2: playing with imaginary pals.
Today Ada yelled to me, when I left the room to find a sweater, that a monster was going to eat her. She sounded concerned, but not terribly scared. When I returned to the room, I asked her where the monster was. At first it was under the couch. (Nope, just dust bunnies, though those are pretty scary.) Then the monster moved into Ada's book. A small book. Once I identified that the monster was small enough to fit inside Ada's book, I told her that maybe that by leaving the house (what I wanted to do anyway) we'd avoid any danger. That's when Ada decided that Frederick (the monster's name) should come with us. With that, she scooped up the invisible monster, and kept her hand closed around him for our whole walk.
As we walked, I asked Ada to tell me about the monster. Apparently this monster is small, red and horned. He has a tummy, and arms. (Actually, I am projecting that the monster is male, given its name, but with Ada that isn't clear. Frederick might be a girl's name.)
When we met up with Ellen and Monkey Boy, Ada shared her monster pal with them. Avery was a bit put out by the news that Ada had a monster, given that he couldn't see it. It seems that it is stretching the expectations for toddler imagination to hope that one toddler can see another's invisible friend.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
My husband, the mathematician, has a lot of books with cool graphs and other neat pictures. Ada has formed a special attachment to several of his paperback books, and will grab them from wherever they've been stashed, declaring "these are MY math books!" Ok kid, go crazy with the math books. (Actually, a couple of them are actually books of logic puzzles, but given that she can't read yet, I haven't had the heart to tell her.)
Here's one of her favorites:
To amuse Chris and to decorate another of Ada's plain shirts, I copied the design from a book on Ordinary Differential Equations onto a shirt.
I made two stencils, one for the axes and another for the, um, swirl. (I know that Chris and Stephanie are competing to the be the first to tell me what the right term is.) I was paying attention to centering the whole design, which made me blind to the fact that the swirl does not lay on the axes exactly as they do on the book's image. I still think it turned out alright, even if it makes Ada look like a junior climatologist. Ada likes it, but is so far impervious to my attempts to have her refer to it as "MY math shirt!". I am still working on her.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Monday, November 05, 2007
Maybe it is just me, but when you give someone an assignment during a meeting at which that person is not a participant, it is helpful if you tell the person about the assignment, especially when the assignment is a presentation in front of a group of important people, scheduled to take place the following afternoon.
But it could just be me who thinks that.
Update: Thanks to all who commiserated, the presentation went well (smoother and better received than I'd hoped, even) and I ducked out at the break to run home in time to spend a lovely evening with a friend visiting from South Africa.
Friday, November 02, 2007
One of the benefits of starting this blog, and of reading other people's blogs, has been meeting some fantastic people. I started to worry a bit when several people who I first met through their blogs stopped posting. I am still friends with them in real life, but I started to wonder whether I had a similar super-power to that my friend Jiro years ago learned he possessed. In Jiro's case, his special power was making women drop out of college. Each of the women he dated in college dropped out. Not one or two, either, but he dated five women while the women were in college, and each left school during or after their relationship with him. In retrospect, he realized he'd had a chance to use his power for good, if only he'd known what to do. You see, while Jiro did not attend the same college as she did, he was in college in the same city as Monica Lewinsky, at the same time. Just think, if he'd dated her while she was a college student, she'd have dropped out, which would have likely made it impossible for her to get an internship in the Whitehouse, thereby changing the course of history!
But it is too late to think about that. And I took you on this entertaining little digression only because, as I mentioned, I started to worry that I possessed a similar power, making bloggers stop writing just by becoming friends with them. But then I became friends with Debbie, who in addition to being a real-life nice person and funny, smart girl, is a fantastic writer in the best kind of stream-of-consciousness way. Her writing is hilarious and poignant within the same breath-taking paragraph, digging deep to offer truths about her darker corners while leavening a post with references that stretch your brain and make you cackle with recognition. This is a woman who, even when she wants to stop writing, can not, and for that I am very glad.
And this wisp of Portland fantastic-ness, she nominated me for a Perfect Post award. The post she honored, about not being pregnant, was written from a moment of darkness. Talking about light in that post was a form of self-therapy, an attempt to remind myself that the despair I felt on that day would lift. Thankfully, it lifted, and faster than I would have imagined. Just as I was moved that people responded with support and condolences, I am honored that the post meant enough to Debbie that she bothered to make her feelings known. Thank you Debbie, it means a lot to me.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
It is probably not necessary to explain to fellow parents that despite expressing excitement about dressing up as a purple cat for Halloween (for weeks she told anyone who would listen), when it came to actually wearing the costume ON Halloween, my toddler decided she was over it and wanted nothing to do with the purple cat outfit. She did agree to have cat whiskers drawn on her face, but only after I'd drawn them on Chris first. Thank goodness for Monkey Boy. Ever the enthusiast, Monkey Boy asked for whiskers too. Which was fantastic, especially since he was an alligator. An adorable alligator.
A neighbor had everyone on the block over for dinner. She was fantastic to host a bunch of kids ranging in age from 1 to 7 (plus their parents). She made dinner, plus bone-shaped cookies (it was a cookie graveyard!). It was great. The kids, predictably, ate way too much sugar (plus a little stew and a bite or two of dinosaur shaped chicken pieces) before running out into the night.
What I most want to record about tonight is my struggle to let Ada do what feels right to her, even when it conflicts with what I think she "should" do. I recognize that this could be the last year that Ada does not understand Halloween. I should let her have that innocence, but I wanted her to play along.
I tried to get Ada to wear a costume, telling her that all the kids were dressing up. No luck. I explained that the idea is to dress up and visit people's houses. Even the idea of getting candy didn't sway her. If I was a Zen Buddhist, it would have been a perfect opportunity to practice non-attachment. As it is, it was a chance to allow my child to be who she is. And I hated it.
I wanted Ada to wear a costume, wanted her to get the positive attention I know comes with a small child in a cute get-up. But she did not want it, and despite my heart's desire to force her, I let her be. So this post is a record both of Ada hanging on to baby-hood and of my early halting attempts to let her follow her own path.
Even though Ada wouldn't dress up, I did. I hate for a chance to wear a green wig to go by. I may have to wear the wig every Halloween. It is as good as a warm cap on a cold evening. Should the kid ever decide to give trick-or-treating a try, I'll appreciate the warmth. Given how well Ada took to the candyportion of Halloween, I am guessing one of these years she is going to take me on a long walk for Halloween. Probably in the rain.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
After I got my negative blood test results, a good friend reminded me that I didn't owe the blogosphere a report, that I could wait to write about it, or not write about it at all. Having written about the lead up didn't require me to follow through. She's right, but I wanted to write about it. I wanted to acknowledge what happened, not just to get the (very much appreciated) kind words of condolences and support, but also to note that I'd lost something. I realized I wanted to mark the loss after talking to my sister on Tuesday. Karen suggested that my experience might feel different from having a miscarriage. I agree that it is different, but I still experienced the news that I wasn't pregnant as a loss.
I lost the pure potential I'd carried in my heart, if not my uterus. In the two weeks between implantation and blood test I felt it was going to work out. I had moved past the test to the first ultrasound. I was waiting to hear Jill tell me that, like the first time, my hormone levels were so high I was likely carrying multiples. I'd started to wonder what we might name a boy. How we'd afford the time off. I'd invested in a good outcome, and on Monday I lost that investment.
I don't mean to suggest I suffered a life-changing loss. As low as I was on Monday, by Tuesday I felt significantly better. It helped that it was a perfect, beautiful fall day in Portland and that Ada was at her most charming all day. It helped that I have wonderful family and friends. It helped to hear from so many of you. It was not an earth-shattering loss, but it was a loss nonetheless. Lucky for me I have a pretty heavy list on the plus side of my balance sheet, so a loss here and there is sustainable.
As just one item on the plus side of my lifetime balance sheet, I offer this clip of Ada "reading" Maurice Sendak. Please forgive the odd angle. We were in post-bath mode.
Thank you again for all your kind words and support. They have meant a lot to me.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
I had my blood test today, and this afternoon Jill from the doctor's office called. Just from her greeting, I knew it wasn't good. Last time her voice was full of joy. This time her tone was a clear sign that I was getting bad news.
"I'm sorry, you aren't pregnant."
I am too. I was so confident this time. Maybe because things went so well the first time we tried IVF, maybe because I wanted it to work, but I really felt it was going to happen. So much for intuition.
I am really disappointed. I am sad, but even more I am just so diappointed. Outside my office is an oak tree. Talking to my sister by phone, I bent over and picked up three little acorns. Each is small and perfect, and I could not help think about the three perfect little embryos that I won't see become babies. I'm not crazy, I didn't actually want three babies, but I did want one. I do want one. I am so happy to have Ada, and I will live without another baby, but I so want one.
I put the three little acorns in my pocket. Having thought I was pregnant, the loss of the embryos is so acute right now. It will get easier, but for now I need to hold on to the three little nuts to remind me not of my loss, but of hope. There are a lot of acorns strewn around the tree. Most of them will not become oaks, but one or two could. Hoping my odds are better than that, I am calmed by the idea that we still have chances left. But realistically, I will worry about that tomorrow. Today I really just need to crawl into bed and feel shitty.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Chris and I went to a "parent enrichment" night at Ada's nursery school. We knew what we were getting into, but the reality was still exhausting. Ada attends a Waldorf-inspired nursery school, so it is very touchy-feely and odd in some ways I like and others that impress me less. (Among the less: the Waldorf folks think young kids should not be exposed to bright colors or music that doesn't conform to the pentatonic scale.) Plus, this is Portland, which is already one of the most hippy places on the planet. I still wasn't prepared for a half-hour spiel on the value of soaking grains for a day prior to cooking them. Then there was the singing.
I am exhausted.
In lieu of a real post, I offer a couple of photographs of Ada at the pumpkin patch.
As usual, I took mostly pictures that failed to highlight the key element (other than my child) of the day's outing. Oh well. I know there were a zillion pumpkins there.
This is a picture of Ada with her new down-the-block friend. I have a couple of great shots of them together, but I want to ask Iya's mom for permission before I post them.
Going to farms with Ada - to pick berries, or find pumpkins (and scale the hay pyramid, marvel over the soft foot of a baby goat, or thrill at a bumpy ride in barrels tricked out to look like cows) - this is one of my favorite things to do with Ada. She has a great time, and the joy on her face is always worth the trip.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Tuesday afternoon (post-IVF) I picked up Ada from Ellen's house. She'd had a great time playing with Monkey Boy and tearing up their house with him. The moment I arrived, her mood shifted. Ada turned into a whiny, crabby monster child, scanning her environment for things to complain about. First it was that I was not sitting close enough to her while she ate her snack, then that the socks I wanted her to wear were not her socks, she wanted her socks! (You mean the socks I pulled out of your boots? I'm pretty sure those are yours.)
Tipping Ada into utter crazy mode was my refusal to let her ride in the stroller. I walked Ada to Ellen's that morning, but I picked her up in the car so that I could then get gas. Foolish, I know, but I thought it would be a good idea to fold up the stroller and stick it in the trunk. This sent Ada into howls of complaint. Tearful pleas followed, "I want to ride in the stroller! It's my stroller, I want to ride in it!" She even tried to negotiate a little, suggesting maybe she could ride in the stroller in the car. When I told her this was not possible, she wailed and moaned.
Reaching the end of my capacity to hear such insane complaints, I asked her, "Ada, are you frustrated?"
"Yeah," she replied tearfully.
"Are you upset because George Bush is president?"
"Are you upset about global warming?"
"Are you upset because the Bears aren't going to be Super Bowl champs this year?"
"So it's just about global warming?"
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
I am working from home today, sitting on an hours long conference call. I am also waiting for a call from my doctor about how many of my embryos survived the thaw. I didn't think I would be so nervous, but I am. If all six embryos survive the thaw, we'll let them grow two days (to become blastocysts). Any casualties at the thaw and we implant day-three embryos today.
I got the call, and three made it, so I am going in today. I'm disappointed, and not just because I will miss the last 90 minutes of my conference call. (Oddly, I am actually upset about that.) Strong embryos are more likely to survive the thaw. The fact that they didn't all make it doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't strong, but it isn't the positive sign I was hoping for.
Moving on. I am going in today to have two of the embryos implanted. In typical fashion, I have not been worried through this whole process, but now I am sweating. I contacted Chris and my acupuncture doc, both of whom will join me for this fun.
I'm staring at a huge glass of water. I am supposed to drink 20 ounces of water so that I have a full bladder for the procedure. Last time I drank a ton, and the doctor was a half hour late for the procedure. I was in tears, waiting and fearing that I would ruin my chances for a successful implantation if I lessened the pressure on my bladder. I had to pee three times while waiting for the doctor to arrive, but in the end everything went fine. At the time I was horrified, but in retrospect it is pretty funny that something so high tech could be compromised by something so basic. This time I am only drinking 8 ounces.
So apparently, with my tiny bladder even 8 ounces was too much. By the time I got to the office I was close to writhing. I peed twice before the procedure, but was not moved to cry. Or rather, I didn't cry until the physicians assistant pushed the ultrasound probe on my stomach. This made me cry, then laugh. The PA primly asked if I could stop laughing. No, I can't.
All went well. And by "all" I mean three embryos were implanted. Oy. As I mentioned previously, I fear the possibility of multiples, so the idea of three successful embryos is a bit daunting. As I do not have a moral problem with what they call selective reduction, if three make it we'll be taking action to make sure I don't carry three fetuses. This whole thing is an odds game. The odds of getting one successful embryo goes up when you implant two or more. Two of the embryos looked great, one was fine but not first class. Implanting them all gives us a good chance of getting at least one healthy embryo to take hold.
Of course, there is the possibility that an egg will split on its own. The doctor mentioned this possibility, quickly dismissing it with a breezy "but that RARELY happens!" Um, except it happened to me last time. Right, good to know. Still she thought 3 was the best way to go. So three it was.
After the implantation I waited the requisite 15 or 20 minutes, then got a visit from my fantastic acupuncture doc. Although it is her day off, this doctor made a "house"-call, joining us in the procedure room and hanging out in the waiting room on top of it. Who does these things any more? (If you live in Portland and want a recommendation, shoot me an email.)
Now I'm "resting quietly". I am resisting the urge to run a load of laundry, clean up the dining room table, squeeze in some gardening or do anything else that it calling to me to get done. Instead I think I will do some reading and maybe take a nap.
The thoughtful and literate (un)relaxed dad tagged me for a book meme.
Total number of books?
Do people who own a lot of books know how many they have? Too many, not enough. Ok, I'll try. From counting one shelf with 40 books on it, I am estimating about 800. It's tricky, because some of the books are Chris's, but then we have a lot of books we've bought for one another, or together.
Last book read?
Absurdistan. My brother-in-law left it with me when he visited recently. I got really into it, then stalled out midway through and then loved it again by the end. The main character is a 300+ pound Russian Jew desperate to return to New York (and his Latina girlfriend), but thwarted by his father's murder of an Oklahoma businessman. He goes to Absurdistan to buy himself a Belgian passport, which is where all hell breaks loose. If you don't think I'm a good judge, check the reviews. Everyone freaking loved this book. Except - don't read it if you need things to be heading in some direction immediately.
Last book bought?
I have been trying to get books from the library. We are out of shelf space at home, so if I want to buy more books I may need to start shedding some old ones. That said, I made an exception for the my friend Jonathan's book The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse. I was going to buy it at his reading, but I got distracted talking to people afterwards. Plus, buying it on Amazon seems like it could help his stats somehow. I've written about Johnathan's book before, and I ate the book up one day at the beach this summer. Reading Pinball Theory, Absurdistan and Clown Girl all within close temporal proximity made for a sort of odd-plot trifecta, in a good way.
Five meaningful books?
Wow is this hard. What the hell does meaningful mean? While trying to decide what to write about, I walked around looking at some of my books. And I considered using the Cooks' Illustrated New Best Recipe cookbook as one of my five. It certainly is one of the books I consult most often. Eventually I decided that meaningful could be interpreted as books that stick with me years after I read them. It seems fair, since some books stay in your mind long after you read the last page. Sometimes you are left with mental images of the plot or characters, sometimes it is just a feeling that stays with you after you've put down the book. Here are some I can't shake, and wouldn't if I could.
I loved Truth & Beauty. I really enjoy Ann Patchett's writing (Bel Canto is one of my all-time favorite novels) and was very excited to read this book about her friendship with writer Lucy Grealy. Grealy wrote the heart-wrenching Autobiography of a Face about her childhood battle with cancer. Friendships have been a large part of how I define myself. This book is about a friendship, and about devotion to a friend who can not save herself.
Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. I normally shy away from short story collections, because I am frustrated that the story ends just as I am getting into it. That said, a good short story can be fantastic, and Lahiri's are beautifully crafted and a joy to read, even when the story itself is about loss or isolation. I loved her book so much I was inspired to pick up other books of short stories, most notably Nathan Englander's For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. (Like most people who sucked down every word of her book of short stories, I was less enthralled by Lahiri's first novel, The Namesake.)
Wisława Szymborska's poetry collection Miracle Fair (translated by Joanna Trzeciak). This is one of those books that I buy for other people. I looked in vain for it the week before my sister's wedding, hoping to find a copy to give to her and her husband. Maybe for Chanukah. Szymborska won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1996, so it can't be just me that loves her work. Her writing is understated, ironic and often funny.
The Catcher in the Rye. I actually never read this in high school. I read it a few years ago in one of my "gee, seems like I should have read that" phases (see: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter). I am not sure I would have liked it as much if I'd read it as a teen ager, but in my 30s it read as an authentic depiction of a disaffected teen.
(When Chris gets one of these urges, he reads The Odyssey or parts of the bible. I pick a short novel about a pain-in the ass kid.)
Snow Falling On Cedars is one of those books I didn't want to read. It got very popular, and I recall seeing it for sale at the Starbucks near my office in Chicago. Once I got over my reticence, I was completely drawn in by the beauty of the language. (I am a sucker for beautiful language coupled with sad plots.) All these years later I still think of the courtroom scene.
As a bonus I offer a few books I love that don't rise to the level of the books I have just mentioned above.
- The Last Word. I love obituaries, especially well written ones. The is book is a collection of NY Times obits. It made a great book to read in small chunks just before bed. One life a night. (the book is old enough that I can't find a link, but there are a number of books like this on the market.)
- Middlesex. Loved, loved, loved.
- I would have used To Kill a Mockingbird in my five, but that seems so obvious, what with every other child being named Scout, Harper or Atticus. Still, a beautifully written book that speaks to children and adults.
- Motherless Brooklyn. Who wouldn't love a book about a detective with Tourette's?
It is obvious who I have to tag. Metrodad is the biggest reader I know in the blogging world. I am sure his answers will put mine to shame and I'm dying to see what he has to say.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Or, Why I should not be allowed to screw with a pattern
I have the sense that the blog is getting a big heavy these days, what with thoughts on parenting, breast cancer and the like. Here's a quick change of pace. For the majority of you not interested in the details of my (un)crafty life, forgive me. This may be just a post for Stephanie, in lieu of calling her up at 2 on a Saturday afternoon and blah-blah-blahing at her.
I started with this pattern from Amy Butler. I'd previously made the a-line skirt and apron from this pattern. Finding some great orange silk I'd gotten on deep discount, I decided to experiment a little with the layered skirt. First, I wanted the skirt to be a little less wide of an a-line. Not quite an H, but you know. Then I thought, with such a fun fabric, why make such a long skirt? So I started to measure, and scheme. I bought pattern paper and fiddled a bunch with the original pattern to make a 3 tier skirt with less flare out than the original (a four tier). All was going well until I sewed the three tiers together into the outside of the skirt. I tried it on and decided that, although in its unhemmed length it made a nice sexy little skirt, once I hemmed it I'd have a skirt that left sexy and moved into embarrassing. Maybe not Britney embarrassing, but close.
Having bought way too much fabric (my one saving grace here), I cut out pieces for a fourth tier. Great, but I didn't notice until I'd done the cutting that I didn't leave enough for the seam allowance. So I cut out new pieces again, making sure to leave extra room for big seams. Great. I sewed the back two pieces on, then tested it against the main part of the skirt. Everything works, so I proceed to sew the front and back of the tier together. Done with that, I notice that I have managed to sew the seams on the opposite side of the fabric from the side on which the back pieces are joined. (This means that either the side seams are inside out, or the back one is.) I grab my seam ripper and start to tear out one of the side seams, before realizing I'm doing twice the work by not just ripping out the (one) back seam. Sigh.
Meanwhile, I wonder why my eye keeps twitching.
Oh, and while we're on the subject, I also recently made this purse:
It was from a lazy girl pattern. I never would have made the purse if I had only seen the pattern, which used an ugly fabric for the example shown on the cover. I was done in by a cute version on display at the fabric store.
The inside looks like this:
The green is a lazy but effective way to make pockets.
And I made a skirt this weekend, but no photo because I didn't plan ahead, it is upstairs and I'm pooped.
As long as we are talking crafty, there is an article in the Willamette Week about Portland's crafty women.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Usually I don't notice this kind of thing until mid-day on the day in question, but for once I am up on it (thanks for posting on this early, Mo-Wo!)
Schmutzie (who created the button above) says comments are down everywhere. Good to know, since the autumn increase in comments I experienced last fall hasn't materialized yet this year. If you are lurking about, never commenting, use this opportunity to say "hi". I'd love to know you are out there. A real post will follow tomorrow, I promise. With photos of my semi-craftiness, no less.
Monday, October 01, 2007
then maybe my friend Stephanie's story will have an impact.
When I moved to Rhode Island in 2000, I left a job I loved and a close group of friends, in a city I'd come to see as home. Chris is an academic, so he made friends at work, but I struggled to meet people in a place where most of the residents are natives. Almost everyone I met had lived in Rhode Island their entire lives, had the same friends they'd had since before kindergarten, and though they were kind, it was clear that they were not looking to make new friends. I really struggled to find friends, and in the end one of my favorite people in Rhode Island did not even live in the state.
Stephanie Williams was the girlfriend of one of Chris's colleagues. Every other weekend she would take the train from New York City to visit him. A journalist, Stephanie was interesting, funny and smart. Some of my favorite moments in Rhode Island were spent in the company of Stephanie and her boyfriend Dan. Chris and I liked them enough that we we saw them in New York too. We went to NYC regularly to see family, and we'd meet up for brunch or pizza.
Shortly before we met, Stephanie was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 30. One of the things that impressed me about Stephanie was that despite dealing with cancer (surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation), she was always interested in other people. Maybe because she was a journalist, she tended to look out into the world rather than retreat into her own pain.
Stephanie fought her cancer for three years. She ultimately died, but not before fulfilling a dream to write a novel. Her book, Enter Sandman was published in 2004, the summer she died. Stephanie's story, including her struggle with cancer and her decision to use her limited time to write a book, was featured in a number of national and local publications. She herself wrote an article for Glamour that was published after her death. Her alma mater wrote a a very nice article about her.
It is terrible that Stephanie died so young, but you can do something to help ensure that you and your loved ones do not. Please do monthly self breast exams, and please get an annual exam every year. This is a great start for young women, especially those of us who are generally healthy and do not see ourselves at being at risk for cancer. If you do not know how to do a monthly exam, click here. Most insurance covers annual exams with either a very low or no copayment. It is more than worth the $10 doctor fee and an hour of your time. I know you are busy, but really, this seems like a good use of time. I hope the men in my readership will urge their loved ones to do these exams as well.
I thought to tell you this because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but you should do an exam every month. Even though I admit that I have not been so good about this in the past, I'll promise if you do too.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
I started taking Estridol. This is the stuff prescribed to some menopausal women and to men and women with certain cancers. And apparently, to women getting ready for a round of invitro fertilization using frozen eggs. (Or someone else's eggs, I imagine.)
This stuff thrills me to no end. Mostly I am thrilled not to be giving myself shots this time around. The pills are tiny, which makes me love them more. They are so tiny I can take my daily dose without water. (Why are prenatal vitamins so huge? Why can't they just make them half as big and make the dosage two?)
In a few weeks I will get shots, at least for a few days. When a woman gets pregnant on her own, the body produces a good bit of progesterone in the first trimester. To tell my body it is pregnant, I'll pump progesterone into it. I took it last time, and somehow never got around to asking my doctors why taking it as an injection is superior to getting it in some other form. I have an appointment in a week or so, and I really need to remember to ask. I'll still take the injections when it is time, but it would help me to know why I am doing it this way.
The injections themselves are not so fun. The progesterone is in suspension in oil. To get the oil into the muscle (of my butt, thanks for asking) takes a good sized needle. If I'm lucky, and one of the embryos attaches to my uterus, I'll be getting shots for a while. If things do not work out with this round, I can stop the shots sooner. (Small consolation, but it is something I guess.) Since I won't start the injections for a while, right now I'll focus on the estradol (did I mention how much I love that it is in pill form?).
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Karen was telling me about a book she'd read recently called Stumbling on Happiness. (In her defense, I want to note that Karen is not a big reader of self-help or touchy-feely books. Apparently there was a copy of this book in the apartment she was until recently sharing with several other people.) One of the big themes in the book is that people are terrible judges of what will make them happy. People think "when I get a raise I will be happy", "when we buy a house I'll be happy", "When we have a baby I'll be happy." And then they are wrong. The raise itself doesn't change things in a person's daily life, the house comes with added responsibilities or means that money once spent on entertainment now goes to update, paint and furnish the home. And a child? Children are a lot of work. They are a pain in the ass. A joy, sure, but not really something that makes everyone happy in the day-to-day. (Karen mentioned that the surveys about how happy people think kids will make them correlates with how happy people remember being with kids, but not with how happy people with children actually report being.)
The thing is, I don't think that having another child will make me happy. When I think about what it will be like to have a second child, I imagine being tired, frustrated, stressed. Having Ada is in many ways fantastic, but on a day to day basis she is just as likely to drive me to frustrated tears as she is to make me weep with joy. A second child will be an additional set of difficulties and annoyances. (Ada can barely stand for me to be on the telephone, so I can only imagine her reaction to an infant sibling.) And then there is the new child, with the attendant joys of a child's first year of life. Even if we don't have another colicky infant, we'll be sleepless and overstretched. Taking time off work means being financially pressed as well. So no, I don't think having a baby will make me happy.
And yet, I still want to do it. It makes me wonder what is wrong with me. During Ada's nap I biked over to the plant store. Heading back to my bike with my packages of cover crop seeds, I started to cry. I have been so on edge lately, so stressed out by life in general that I am having a hard time taking joy in the numerous wonderful things about my life. I have been stressed enough that for the past several weeks I've had an eye twitch that won't go away.
I know that having a baby will add to my stress level, but I still want to do it. Not in a "I feel like I should do it" way; I really want to. I'm not normally a glutton for punishment. I can't think of another reason why I'd intentionally put myself into a situation I knew would make me unhappy. (Ok, that isn't entirely true. I have taken jobs I knew were going to drive me crazy, but for the most part I avoid doing things that I know will annoy me.)
By blog post convention, this is where I'm supposed to bust out with a revelation, a "but this is why I want to do it", some kind of beauty-of-life take away message. Except I don't have one of those.
I've got nothing other than an understanding of the strength of this desire. Always a bit chagrined to admit how much biological urges influence me, I have been thinking about this strong urge the past couple of days. A few days ago I read a post from the woman who runs found clothing. She posted an argument for remaining childless, on an environmental basis. While I see her point, I also wanted to write to her. I wanted to say: maybe you'll never feel what I've felt, but my desire to bear a child was so strong that I worried it could crush me when I thought we couldn't have a baby. I didn't always feel that way. In my 20s, I believed that IVF was a foolish thing. I remember saying that if people could not have children without intervention, they should adopt. It seemed really simple. IVF is expensive and there are lots of children who need good homes. But it isn't so simple now. What I want is not simple. There might not be a good reason for it, but I do want it. Lucky for me, Chris wants it too, and is willing to tough it out with me during the coming months and years, whether or not those years include a second child.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
I am an unobservant Jew. Maybe secular Jew is better. Unobservant makes it sound like I don't notice things. In any case, I am not so lapsed that I am not aware that the Jewish new year is upon us. Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Jews are supposed to repent for their failings and mis-steps of the past year, to seek forgiveness before the words written in the book of life are made permanent. Rosh Hashanah (which was yesterday) is a day that is meant for prayer and reflection. No work should be performed. I do not belong to a synagogue, and it feels wrong to me to take off work and not participate in ceremonies. (I have really enjoyed Rosh Hashanah services when I have gone, but as I often do, I waited too long before thinking about whether I might find someplace to go this year. For Jews this is the toughest ticket of the year.)
So in lieu of a day of prayer and reflection, I offer some of the things I wish I had done differently this year:
- I was not always as nice to Chris as I should have been. Taking for granted that he loves me, I can be less respectful or polite to him than I am with other people. That isn't fair.
- I care more about my blog stats than I would like to. It is shallow and not part of why I started the blog. Plus it can make me feel like crap.
- I have not worked as hard as I could have. Or should have.
- More than once I have know that someone was in pain and could have used my time, but I was not willing to give up my free time or listen to their needs.
- I wasn't honest or clear about my needs, and then I resented people for not taking those unexpressed needs into consideration.
- And of course there is the usual list of petty jealousies, aggressions and poor driving.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
When I wrote about whether one should talk (or write) publicly about trying to get pregnant, Chris and I weren't trying yet. Technically, we still aren't. We are planning, not by timing sex or considering names, but by visiting the fertility docs. Last month we went in for our mandatory $300-and-no-insurance-will-cover-it consultation. It went a lot more smoothly than last time.
Last time, I started crying the moment we sat down in the doctor's office. I remember looking at the photographs of his wife and children and resenting his success. Every time I looked at him I thought: "stop being so cheerful, you don't know what I am going through, you person with children."
This time I sat in the consultation room, cheerfully discussing our last round of invitro fertilization three years ago, secretly thrilling when the doctor spoke glowingly of our high quality fertilized eggs. The meeting took longer than I thought it would, as the doctor and resident kindly asked about my pregnancy and labor, things that technically don't have much to do with whether the IVF itself is considered successful.
I have been wanting to write about moving toward a second round of IVF. Last time I wrote about it secretly, only making my words public after I started this blog, more than a year after the pain and fear of the process were behind me. I am finally moved to write about it after reading the words of other people discussing their own struggles. That and the fact that I am thinking about this a lot lately, and it feels like I am hiding something if I don't write about it here.
I've written this before, but during the months and years of trying to get me pregnant, and then of testing for possible reasons for our infertility, I felt alone. I felt we were the only ones with this problem. I was so completely wrong, something that I became aware of once I started talking to other people about our efforts. I heard other couples' stories and those of friends' sisters, cousins, uncles, friends. The research I have read suggests as many as ten percent of reproductive age couples deal with infertility, but it doesn't actually matter to me exactly how common this is. I know we are not alone.
Going through IVF the first time was scary, uncomfortable, expensive and emotionally draining. This time it will likely be significantly less intense on all fronts. We've gone through this before, and successfully. Last time I knew that if we could never have a child, I would feel devastated. If we can not have another, I will be sad, but I will not be crushed. Ada is fantastic and Chris and I will be fine if our family never grows past three.
On some days, I like the idea of keeping our family small. Like many parents of a single child, I wonder why we should not leave well enough alone. I love Ada and know that the first year of life with a second child will be hard on her as well as us. But I also love my sister, and I want Ada to have a sibling. I can't guarantee Ada will be as close to her sibling as I am to mine, but writing on a day when talking to Karen was once again better than therapy, I want to give Ada a chance for that kind of relationship.
So I will be writing about what we are going through this time around, letting you know that I've had a trial transfer and started acupuncture. This means that when we have the eggs implanted, writing about whether the process worked. This means discussing the pregnancy early, much earlier than I did last time, when I held superstitiously to the rule "do not talk about pregnancy until the second trimester." I know that this means that I may be writing about failed IVF, or about a miscarriage, or about the top of my head falling off when I find out I'm carrying twins. All these things scare me, but it is because they scare me that I want to write. If anything bad happens, I will need to write about it. With all that, you might as well know where we're heading, right? And hopefully I will just get to write about fear, and love, and nausea. Of explaining my expanding belly to Ada and wondering when to tell my office.
The thing I know this time is that I am not alone. You are here with me, so close I can practically feel your hand on my elbow. You have told me your secrets, shared your hopes and fears. Now it is my turn. I am scared, but I am not alone.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Thursday, September 06, 2007
At the end of August, my family rented a beach house for a week. My parents instigated the vacation, hoping to spend some time with their daughters, sons-in-law, and of course Ada. This is the first real stretch of time we have all spent together, the seven of us. My sister and I shared some trepidation about an unstructured week with my parents in a semi-remote location. We both love our parents, but like any parents they have the (mostly unwitting) ability to crawl under their children's skin in an not entirely pleasant way. Despite some fears, and a lingering stress-induced blue mood on my part, the week was pretty fantastic.
Ada had some firsts, like her first taste of chocolate milk:
Because I am a bad mother I told her it was Tillamilk, only available in Tillamook, where we'd stopped for gasoline and snacks. The lie must have worked, because despite her keen interest in the drink at the time, she has not asked for it or wondered aloud if we could go back to the coast to get some.
This was Ada's first trip with extended time on the beach, with real building of sand castles, digging huge holes, and playing frisbee. Our two other trips to the coast this year suffered some from Oregon's unpredictable weather, but Ada's attention also ruled the day. On those other visits she seemed only mildly interested in the beach, ready within minutes to return to the house, eager to explore the inside spaces of our rented houses. This time Ada really enjoyed playing at the beach, allowing the whole family to spend good chunks of the day with sand between our toes.
This trip was also the first time Ada stepped onto the sand this year without anxiously and repeatedly clarifying that we would "no go in" the water. The waves are a big concern to Ada. She got over it enough to walk near the water, but shows a healthy amount of toddler fear for what she called the "big ocean". Lucky for us (and her) she had no such concerns about going into the little ocean (a creek running out of the hills and into the ocean, bisecting the beach near our rental). The creek is filled with all manner of treasures, some of which currently reside in a large container on our front porch. The chance to dig up rocks, shells and ocean-smoothed sticks was a joy for Ada. And for me to, truth be told. Then again, I may be part magpie.
possibly the best part of the aquarium, which is saying a lot
Beyond my enjoyment of Ada's entertainment, this was a good trip. As a family, the vacation was successful despite my emotional state. I went into the trip feeling blue. This makes me more susceptible to annoyance, at my father in particular, though at the world in general too. After a couple of days of me sniping at him, my father told me (in the most polite and thoughtful way possible) to stop being such an asshole. I felt terrible when I realized how rude I'd been and how much I had hurt him. My father really made an extraordinary effort to be gracious and forgiving. He'd clearly thought a lot about how to most kindly tell me to shape up, which I did. I am still working out what was (and is) at the root of my crab. I think it is mostly stress-related, and ironically I found that merely leaving the stressers behind didn't manage to eliminate my bad mood. But once in a while, getting a little reminder that my bad attitude is ruining other people's good time does actually manage to shake me out of my funk. (Don't tell my Dad I wrote that, or he'll be wanting to read me the riot act every month or two.)
Another highlight of the trip was spending time with my sister and brother-in-law. And by spending time with, I mean kicking their butts at Settlers of Catan. Oh, and eating my brother-in-law's fantastic cooking. To give you a sense of the wretched (and delicious) excess, I will just say that over the course of the week he made slow cooked pork ribs and butt, lamb, Mexican chicken soup, and seven or eight other things that couldn't be beat. Not to be outdone, Chris made gumbo and barbecued brisket. Plus we had champagne and pie to celebrate my parents' anniversary. Several weeks later, my mother is still thanking her lucky stars that Karen and I married good cooks. If we hadn't she might have had to cook at least once during our trip.
I am not sure exactly what to make of this video. On our last day she found a long piece of string and was suddenly a cowgirl.
So yeah, I was a jerk for a bit of the trip, but I mostly got into it and enjoyed collecting sea shells, talking to my family, reading books (entire books, read in one day!) and sifting sand looking for the perfect skipping stone. Ada had a great time, and was a blast to watch in action.
And THAT is what I did on my summer vacation.