Thursday, April 29, 2010

You Can Help

My mom was first diagnosed with MS in 1986. I was 11. I grew up knowing that at any time, with no waning whatsoever, she could suddenly be struck blind or become paralyze and *this time*, it might be permanent. So far, she’s one of the lucky ones. She hasn’t had an exacerbation in many years. Her medication keeps things under control and she rarely needs to use a cane to walk, though she wears an ankle brace every day. Research into the disease has come a long way. But there’s still no cure and there’s still much that isn’t understood. You can help. Please donate to the MS Society to support me in the walk this coming Sunday. I truly appreciate any help you feel willing to give.

Please consider a pledge to create a world free of multiple sclerosis and support me during Walk MS: Cambridge Walk 2010. MS stops people from moving. The National MS Society exists to make sure it doesn’t. Please help by making a donation — large or small — to move closer to a cure for MS. You can also join me on the day of the event. Become a participant and side by side we will move together to raise funds that make a difference.
Whatever you can give will help. I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress. Imagine a world free of multiple sclerosis. We’re almost there.

Click here to visit my personal page and make a secure, online donation.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bring out cher dead!

I really thought that when I stopped pumping at work that my reading habit would go down. But I seem to be ahead of my pace for even last year’s record haul. I just started title #33 this morning, which is exactly half of my total last year. And, true to form, I totally fell down on book reviews, last discussing a single volume over twenty titles ago.

My book club selection for this month was Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. I haven’t read anything of hers before but I have read nearly all of her husband’s books – my favorite travel writer Tony Horwitz. I hadn’t put together that she was *that* Geraldine until I read the dedication at the start of her book! I really enjoyed her writing style and I think I’ll read more of her books.

This book was historical fiction dealing with the imagined events in a real village in England, Eyam, that really did close its own borders in 1665-1666 to try to contain an outbreak of the Plague. The story follows a young woman, Anna, as she grows as a result of this crucible of change. I found it fabulous. Oh, I couldn’t take it out of the house to read in public until I was well over halfway through because I knew I would be bawling. But it was wonderful.

The book club ladies universally enjoyed the book as well except for the last chapter and the epilogue. I found the location of the epilogue to be unsurprising, knowing the background of the author. There was one element that was perhaps a bit deus ex machina, but not so much that it took me out of the story. In fact, there was a nice bit of symmetry with the protagonist’s ending as compared to Anna’s beginning. The last chapter didn’t bother me either. I was expecting the pat happy ending we seemed to be getting – and I would have been very fine with that! – so I was completely blindsided by the turn things took. In a good way. It perhaps retroactively altered my opinion of another character but not so much that I was disgusted by wasted time or anything of the sort.

The other complaint I’ve read is that the book is anachronistic. I actually found it to be extremely well researched and accurate. At least according to my memory of my college course on women’s life in Medieval Europe! Anna had some very modern ideas and thoughts and yet to me they seemed to follow naturally based on her experiences and observations. This was, after all, a time of great changes in philosophy and politics. Nature gained popularity over Fate as Science started to gain over Religion. I found it to be a very thoughtful way to explore that paradigm shift in a manner that made such a heady topic accessible to the average reader.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hear Me Moan

Extreme TMI and Whining Warning: Continue Reading At Your Own Peril

This has been a very bad week for belsum’s nethers. It started off with just a bump. I found a bump on my delicate girl parts last week. Figured it was just a zit. Last weekend was the big Ronnie’s Naming Ceremony weekend with my in-laws flying up from Texas and lots of evening fires in our backyard with family and good friends. So I figured if the bump wasn’t gone by Monday, I’d go have it checked out just to be sure. Got the results yesterday from the culture they took: staph. Great. But it so far doesn’t seem to be as virulent as the staph infections Mr. b was dealing with in succession a few years ago. They just prescribed me a topical ointment to apply to the affected area. So far so good.

Monday evening I started feeling all rumbly in my tumbly. Lord knows I ate like a madwoman during all the festivities of the weekend so I didn’t give it much thought. I slept fitfully when I went to bed and then woke up about 1:30 am and spent the next two hours in the bathroom. And then made return trips at far too frequent intervals. Obviously frequent wiping, causing chafing and chapping, is just the thing to help prevent the spread of a staph infection! Oh wait, no it’s not. I was completely wrecked all day Tuesday and still extremely weak Wednesday. Started to come out of it Thursday but still tired. And yeah, when you’re averaging 900 calories on top of violently excreting every shred of food from your bowels, that’s gonna take its toll.

I really thought that was the end of it. But instead…my period has come back. For the first time since I got knocked up with Ronnie I’m menstruating. I spotted a little bit when I went on the nursing pill. And there was the lochia flow after giving birth. But those don’t count. This is actual monthly visitor action. It started out spotty on Monday but was really dark. Like my body was cleaning everything out after not being used for a long time. Which, come to think of it, was probably exactly what was happening. But by yesterday the flow became normal. Everything else? Is so not what I’m used to. Granted I’m out of practice. But I never had bloating this bad. I never had PMS this harsh. I was never ready to call it a sick day just for my stupid period before. And I’m just ridiculous amounts of uncomfortable. Food makes me ill. I’m scared to frickin’ fart. Nothing I’ve tried has brought me any relief. This had better just be part of the system overload of all this happening at once. As my friend put it, a bug sneaking in while PMS had my shields down. I just don’t know how I’m going to adapt if this will be my new monthly reality. Oh, I know there are plenty of women out there that are used to big-time horrible symptoms. But I never used to be one of them. Then again, I do remember a slight worsening after I had Kirk. That’s when the day of icky poo as a late PMS indicator started happening. Well great. So I guess this is the thanks I get for having another baby. It’s like it’s exponentially getting more extreme. Blerg.

Monday, April 12, 2010


When Kirk was a baby he got a lot of blankets. Hospital blankets, receiving blankets, homemade blankets, store-bought blankets, flannel, fleece, jersey, cotton, quilted, doubled, lined, trimmed, he must have had at least a dozen. When he was about a year old he picked out a favorite. It was a cream colored blanket with a satin back, satin border, and deeply plush front. There was a satin panel on the front in the center of the plush with an embroidered Winnie the Pooh. He carried it around everywhere. It was about that time that he stopped going to Auntie Daycare and started going to K’s house. So we went to the store and bought a duplicate of that blankie. It seemed smart to have a second one to leave at K’s house rather than cart the same one back and forth every day, risking leaving it there overnight or, gods forbid, over the weekend.

Then Kirk’s cousin visited. He declared that Kirk’s official blankie of choice was instead a blue one, matching the color of his own Uh-Oh (a cotton Sleep-Sack) that he carried around everywhere. This blankie was similar in style to the cream colored Pooh one, satin backing and trim with a velveteen plush front, but without the center embroidery. And this one was a shower gift with no receipt so we had no way of knowing where it came from in order to purchase a duplicate.

Flash forward to today. Ronnie has just three blankies, one fleece and two handmade and flannel. That’s plenty and lord knows we don’t have space to store any others. She’s also recently chosen her official favorite. The same cream Pooh blanket of her brother’s! She can’t tell a difference between the two so far – one is noticeably more worn than the other – but she carries one or the other around often. When she gets tired she’ll lay her head down on it in the middle of the floor. She cuddles with it while fighting sleep in my lap at night. She’s starting to hold onto it when she stands up in her crib, crying to be picked up.

Mr. b wants to get her her own blanket. I’m worried if he buys something similar she might not like it as well. But is it bad for your child’s lovey object to be essentially a hand-me-down? Kirk wants to “dial” it (don’t try to tell him it’s actually “dye” because he ain’t buying that line) purple. I’m totally down with purchasing some Rit and coloring it lavender so it’s “new” to Ronnie. But is it bad to not get one of her own? To let her carry around her brother’s cast-off?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Noise Makers

Ronnie’s been a complete pain in the ass the last couple weeks. She’s super hard to put to bed at night. She wakes up the second you lay her in her crib and stares up at you in dismay and then starts to wah. She’s been clingy and whiny for her father during the day. When I get home from work she demands my attention non-stop. I spend more time sitting on the floor than on the furniture. She doesn’t necessarily even need me to pay attention to her, just be down there so that she can throw herself at me in-between menacing. She rips toys off the white shelf in the corner and flings them everywhere. She pulls books out of the tv consol drawer and destroys them. She climbs up on the couch and throws all the pillows off. She tears great hunks of fur off the cats. She is a total menace.

But she’s also frickin’ smart and has been cataloguing everything in that little developing brain of hers. She points and says, “This” nearly constantly. Half the time I don’t know which this she even means. I’ve taken to keeping a running commentary while I’m holding her so that whichever this she’s interested in will hopefully be covered. I remember Kirk asking, “What’s that” while pointing so I guess it’s a pretty common phase for babies to go through.

Ronnie’s got another noise that she makes when she’s not asking, “This.” I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s like a Spanish rolled r but it’s a th sound instead. It’s pretty hard to duplicate. I don’t know of any language that actually uses that phoneme. It took me a while to realize which sound was being trilled. I experimented with tongue placement at the back of teeth, top of palate, and front of palate before I figured it out. It doesn’t sound quite the same way when I do it as when she does but I think it’s because I have more and larger teeth. Hers sounds more like the brrrrr you make when you make the motor boat noise with your lips – only no vocalization, air flow only. Kirk had a repeat noise, too, but his was definitely a vocalization. I guess I’d transliterate it as “nngink!” and he repeated it frequently enough that we still remember it. Interesting that both of their noises incorporated sounds not found in English.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Obligatory Shakespeare "Rose" Quote

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about names as I’ve been getting everything in order for Ronnie’s upcoming naming ceremony. Specifically, how pet names and nicknames change. I find it amusing that the diminutive form of Kirk’s name, Kirkie, is actually longer. And yet it’s obviously the little kid version. Going with Ronnie for Veronica is more of a true nickname than an actual diminutive but we could have chosen V or Vera or Nic or any of a good half dozen other possibilities. We always knew that Ronnie would be the one we’d use.

But what about Bundle? I find that I’ve been using it less and less in public. I used to refer to her as Bundle almost exclusively and now I rarely even use it at home as a title. I’ll ask her “How’s my sweet bundle” but that’s not the same. Kirk still calls his sister Bundle and I’ve noticed that grandparents and family friends do as well. But none of them ever called Kirk Peepers Pie. And for the first…year or so of his life he was nearly exclusively Peepers Pie to both Mr. b and I. But did we call him that outside of the home? I guess we must not have. We used “Pie” as shorthand for babies his same age and knew if one said, “I saw a pie at the store” that it meant there was a baby the same current size as our little Pie Man. I still sometimes call Kirk Kirkie Pie but it’s definitely less common. When did it stop? I know I call him Buddy or Honey or Sweetheart more frequently than Pie now.

Hunny is Mr. b though. I mentally see and hear the difference in how I use that particular pet name.

There’s a lot of power in names. I like the old traditions of having a temporary name and then a young child earning their name once they got older. Partly that was to deal with high infant mortality rates. But there’s something compelling about the idea that a child has lived long enough to earn their place in the universe. To be recognized as an independent being and not just a baby attached to her mother. I think that’s why I waited until both my children were a year old to have their namings take place. Sure, they already had those names on their birth certificates but the ceremony is a chance to present them to the community of human beings they live amongst. To share their existence with the rest of us and acknowledge that someday they’ll be out there with their place confirmed.