Sunday, July 9, 2017

Swimming While Pregnant

I have had this longstanding fantasy where I am a swimmer. Somehow the logistics and the schedule and the swimsuit and the stars align and I am able to go swimming on a regular basis for exercise. Add to this fantasy all the stories you hear about pregnant women finding relief in the pool and I was especially excited to see if I could manage this feat during this pregnancy now that the schedule seems like it could be possible. I have spent more than four years pregnant and never found my way into a swimming pool. Until this past Monday.

My sister's neighborhood has a pool and she mercifully invited the entire crew to go swimming with her kids. I found a swimsuit that I could passably wear with my Big Giant Belly* and packed all the children off to the pool.

After getting everyone sunscreened and into the water, I had to figure out how to safely get myself into the pool. The kids were all playing on this side of the pool, but the stairs were on that side of the pool. I didn't trust myself to just plop myself into the water so I decided to walk over to the stairs and then walk/float back over to where all the children were.

Now this isn't an Olympic style pool or even one you might see at a rec center. This is what you might call a hotel style pool. It is a rounded off rectangle with the deepest part in the center of the long side of the rectangle. The two short sides of the rectangle are 3 feet deep that increase to four feet and then hit five entire feet of depth in the center. Since I am about 5'2'', I knew I could walk most of the way and then just float across the five foot center.

I slowly descend into the water and feel the entirely odd feeling of a baby kicking on the inside while the water presses against the outside. I begin walking through the three foot section of pool. Then I get to the four foot section and begin that little water hop thing to keep my head above the water. Then the water is too deep for me to retain contact with the bottom of the pool so I take one last hop and try to propel myself into a float. And nothing happens. I sink like a rock.

"That's weird," I think to myself and try again. And once again, the muscles do not engage. I push myself backwards and try to tread water. I can't. My muscles seem to have lost all memory of buoyancy. I went swimming last summer. I could float then. Something about my distended belly and the strange sensations of the water made my body revolt against the idea of floating in water.

I quickly reassess and decide to sheepishly do the wall hanging scoot of shame where I cling to the side of the pool and scoot myself past the "deep" end. I realize I am now an old lady in need of a pool noodle floatie. I regain my footing on the other side of the dreaded deep and find myself a pool noodle to hang on since I cannot trust my own muscles to work.

We all spend most of an hour playing in the three to four foot area of the pool. Marian was thrilled with the back float she accomplished by throwing her body backwards over her ring float and thrashing her legs and arms about wildly. I helped the other children with a few other activities, but mostly I tootled around on my old lady noodle trying not to sink.

The time came to get out of the pool. I once again had to traverse the deep section. I didn't even try to float myself over it. I probably should have after spending so much time acclimating to the feeling of being underwater. I just did the wall scoot of shame going the other direction.

I arrived at the steps and slowly pulled myself out of the water. I then had one of the strangest feeling I have ever encountered in my entire life. I can only describe it as what an astronaut might experience coming back to earth. The full force of gravity came to bear on me. I could hardly move. I stood there standing, dripping at the edge of the pool trying to find the ability to walk. All of my limbs felt weighted down like lead. I slowly shuffled back across the pool, passing a table full of teenagers on the way (Hurrah!), my feet barely clearing the ground to propel me forward. It was the very definition of ridiculous to behold. Then, after a few minutes, the feeling passed and I could walk around normally. Well as normal as possible in these days of the Big Giant Belly.

So that's my swimming while pregnant experience. Should I attempt this folly again?

*Big Giant Belly is Marian's official name for my current girth.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Catholic Fail

Last Friday, I hauled myself and all the children downtown to an ordination at the Cathedral. One of the ordinands had been assigned as a temporary deacon at our parish last summer so I thought it would be a good experience for the children. I have zero pictures of this event.

After the (very long) Mass, I gathered my crew into the social hall for the reception with food. Trying to feed four children and myself, all by myself, in a crowded room with long lines for food after they have spent the better part of three hours at Mass was an adventure all unto itself. And lo, we all survived.

After not too long, the newly ordained priests emerged and two stations were set up for them to offer their first blessings. The lines got long very quickly. Seeing as I had never had a first blessing before, even though I have been to several ordinations, I decided to take my place in line, in spite of the fact that Marian was lapping the reception room.

At last I make it to the front of the line.

The new Father then asks me, "Who's your patron saint?"

Me, "Um?"

Father, "Well then who was your confirmation saint?"

Me, "So, when I was confirmed, they discouraged us from taking saint names sooooo."

Father, "So which saint do you have a particular devotion to?"

Me, blankly, "Weeeellll?"

Assistant Guy, gamely holding the blessing book watching this little debacle unfold, "How about St. Gerard, the patron of expectant mothers?"

Me, with my giant belly that regularly wins me inquiries about twins, "That sounds like a good idea because I am definitely there."

Father, "St Gerard, it is."

"May, through the imposition of my priestly hands...."

Then I kissed his hands. I've never done that before either.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Gospel According to Lice

Today's Gospel was particularly apt for this week of dealing with lice.

Even all the hairs on your head are counted.
                                             Matthew 10:30
Yes, children, this is true. And I have seen every one of those hairs this week.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Scourge

It has come to pass that once again the lice have come to visit our house while I am pregnant. Is this a rule? Lice while pregnant?

I did not anticipate spending my day, indulging my primate instincts, picking nit after nit out of my offsprings' hairs. The problem with lice during pregnancy is that I am not comfortable dousing myself or others in neurotoxin to kill the noxious bugs. Therefore my husband has to do the heavy lifting of washing all the children's hair in gross chemical while I pick, pick, comb, pick. And did mention the laundry?

We have yet to determine if I also have the scourge. I hope not. Since I am avoiding the neurotoxin, my lice removal protocol borders on ridiculous. Lots of oil and vinegar and plastic and time.

One bright side is that Marian relishes saying the word lice. Lice. LLLLLLice. She sticks her tongue out between her teeth. LLLLLLLLLice with a long L. She also explained we needed to put the lice eggs back in her hair so the babies would survive. Apparently there has been too much Wild Kratts around here. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Whence Competence?

Checking in here again. My writing muscle is quite flabby. Now that summer has arrived, hopefully I will be able to engage in the blog habit a little more regularly.

These last few months have been an exercise in endurance. Even now, we are still trying to wrap up the end of the school year and finish the never-ending math book. School was cut to the very basics and still we struggled to finish. Now summer obligations cut into our days and make the stray ends harder to gather together. Perhaps by the end of this upcoming week I can officially call the school year over.

The pregnancy is proceeding apace with everything looking healthy and normal. We are once again expecting another girl. The symmetry of two girls, a boy, and two more girls is pleasing. Sam is going to be well-prepared for adulthood. Heh.

Even though everything pregnancy-wise seems healthy, my own perseverance has not been very valiant. Although I embraced all the meds this time, the nausea just kept hanging on. I am still taking something every night before bed because my schedule has been such that finding out I am still nauseous in the morning would not be amenable. Not the most terrible, but not great either. Maybe after school is put away, I'll try to wean off the nausea med again. Again, again. Heartburn is a daily part of my life. Constant choking burning heartburn. My ability to ignore these feelings and carry on is not my strong point. I have been sleeping 10-11 hours a night, plus plenty of rest throughout the day. Mild anemia is doing its work, taking my energy and raising my heart rate.The second trimester energy boost never quite arrived and now the third trimester promises to be more (or less) of the same.

As a result, the household is running on fumes and threads. I haven't cooked in months. The housekeeping is sad. The children have been cleaning the kitchen, but it's about as clean as you'd expect when children clean a kitchen. And the whole household project left over from last year's disastrous summer still looms over my head.

I have been home from work for close to two years. I wonder when I will feel competent in any of this. It seems like as soon as I begin to feel like I am gaining control over any particular situation, the stool gets kicked out from under me and I have to begin again. I do not feel quite as unmoored as I did in the beginning, but it definitely feels like a three steps forward, two steps back situation. I feel like if I could just...fill in the blank...and then everything would work itself out. This probably isn't reality. It works itself out, one way or the other, no matter my competence or energy.

I know that other people have moved and cooked and been pregnant and had babies and done all the things I have been doing and probably felt like they muddled through just like I do. It's possible to do these things. I just wonder when it starts feeling doable instead of impossible. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

What Was I Saying Again?

I was supposed to be talking about our lunch routines and complaining about the crockpot, but the truth is those posts were probably the last time I made or served lunch. We quickly descended into a feral survival mode when an old, familiar malady came to visit me.

Yes, I am once again growing a person.

When I am newly pregnant, I always make absurd promises to myself like I will continue exercising every day even if I don't feel well or make a goal of more frequent posting. You'd think I'd know better by now. The resolve doesn't last long. Soon I take my post on the couch and wait for the awfulness to end.

MrsDarwin valiantly continued posting through her dark days:
If you told me when I had my first that I would do this six more times (seven, counting the miscarriage, but I was never sick then), I would have turned my face to the wall and died.
And that about says it all. This is only my fifth time (Only five. Ha! I think I need a medal.), but the sentiment holds. It is somewhat unbelievable I am living through this again. Pregnancy, especially the first half, is a time of muttering perseverance for me. Everything grinds to a halt. No shopping, no food prep. I cannot concentrate and can barely speak as the inevitable happens over and over again. Our homeschool is a shadow of its former self. The cleaning and laundry are all on emergency basis only. My step counter shows months of woe. The only items on my agenda are sleeping and carefully eating food that someone else prepared and put in front of me.

One of the great wonderings of my life was did I have such hard experiences with pregnancy because of working and commuting and generally pushing myself too hard when I should be resting. The answer is a resounding NO! This time has been exactly as bad as the others. Hurray. I found myself, in the depths of the worst of it, wondering how I went to work through all this? I know I did it. I did it four times, but I'm not sure how anymore. The only significant difference this time was that I felt myself begin coming out of the ditch at about 12.5 weeks rather than the normal 14. This "early" start to the reprieve only led me to fear miscarriage because, obviously, the books that say you should start to feel better around 12 weeks have lied through four previous pregnancies.

I am now 16 weeks and the worst is over. I am not 100%, but I am also not permanently planted on the couch anymore. My goals now are to slowly regain my endurance because, wow, atrophy is a thing, and to find order in the house again because three months is a long time to ignore it all. (My husband will be thrilled when I feel well enough to cook supper. Almost but not yet.)

NB: I thought about posting this yesterday, but I decided against it because it might be confusing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Crockpot

Everyone says use the crockpot. The crockpot is the key to breaking open the problem of supper and supper prep.

I must be special kind of incompetent.

It is 11 o'clock. No school has been started. The toddler is not dressed. The bed is not made. The laundry has not been started. I did eat breakfast. Hurrah. I don't know if the children have.

But I have prepped the crockpot.

How is it that obliterating my entire morning is going to help the rest of my day? Please tell me it will be worth it later.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lunch: The Daily Battle, Part One?

I've had this tab open for a few days to answer bearing's question about lunch, never quite starting because I know I can't finish. Maybe I'll break it up. A series! Quick and dirty posts, right?

The problem with lunch is breakfast. The problem with breakfast is getting everyone fed at a reasonable hour.

I think it is reasonably well known that I am neither skilled in the kitchen nor a morning person so having to get up and immediately face the kitchen is a double whammy. The solution to this problem is encouraging the children to feed themselves as much as possible. Getting the children to be reasonably independent in the kitchen for easy, grazing meals has been a process.

Back when I was working and my husband was home, he had a system that worked well for him. When he decided it was breakfast time, he would get up, make multiple different version of breakfast, whatever each child preferred, all including servings of fruit, set the table, pour the drinks, and serve breakfast. No one ate until everyone was sitting and the blessing said. Then you may begin eating. No one gets up until permission is asked and the child dismissed.

Lunch time worked the same way. He would get up, make multiple lunches, but this time in courses to make sure the children ate the proper things before the more desired things. Finish your sandwich, which might be pb&j on bread or turkey & cheese on a wrap or whatever else, then you may have some applesauce.  Finish your applesauce and then you may have some pretzels. Again nobody ate until all the food was assembled and everyone sitting down and the blessing said.  Then he was popping up and down, constantly, serving the different courses.

This was the expectation the children had of me when I arrived on the scene a little over a year ago. While this system works well for my husband, and is indeed what he still does when he does breakfast or lunch, it made my head explode. The synchronized nature of all the ingredients and all the plates and all the children in the perfect order and time, well, I could not deal.

Thus began the long and tedious process of moving away from competent service towards a free-for-all approach that walks the fine line between manageable chaos and just plain chaos.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

One Credit Hour

Darwin hosted a lengthy discussion on Facebook about the state of the arts and why conservative leaning Christians are so thin on the ground. His thoughts that grew out of that discussion are here. I chimed in with my own thoughts, but this isn't about that. This is about remembering how it used to be. Y'all know (or maybe you don't) I majored in music. Here is a little taste of what earns one credit hour in music.

If you are a music major, the most important class you take is your private lesson instruction. This is what makes or breaks you as a candidate for a music degree. The requirements for this class are thus: an hour a week in a private lesson, an hour a week in a group lesson, an hour a week in convocation (this is a mini-concert during the day), attendance at an evening concert of varying lengths about once a week, personal practice time of about an hour a day (7 hours a week), and a jury in front of entire faculty at the end of the semester so they can decide if you get to continue to major in music. That is around 10 or 11 hours a week. For all of this, you earn one credit hour.

The second most important class you take is your major ensemble. The requirements for this class are thus: attendance at all rehearsals (only death is an excused absence; hospitalization might depend on the reason), attendance at any sectional your section leader desires to call, your personal practice time to work up your part because rehearsal is not for practicing, and attendance at however many dress rehearsals and concerts the ensemble performs. Rehearsals are generally two hours long, three days a week. That's six hours of class time plus whatever it takes outside rehearsal. For all of this, you earn one credit hour.

Of course, you do not want to be a slacker. Nobody takes only one ensemble. Most take two. Some take three.

Now comes the piano classes. This is a sneaky one. Piano isn't actually in the degree catalog. What is in the catalog is that you must pass a piano proficiency before taking upper level classes. The piano proficiency is an ungraded exam given by the notoriously fickle piano professor. Until you have passed, you have to take a piano class every semester until you do. Piano class meets for 75 minutes twice a week (2 and a half hours). You, theoretically, should practice 30 minutes a day to gain mastery. You probably don't. Most students have to take four semesters of piano. Some, cough, take five. For all of this, you earn one credit hour.

A vital part of a music degree is ear-training and sight-singing. This is as bad as it sounds. You are given music on paper, given the starting tone, and then you are supposed to sing accurately what is on the page without ever having heard it before. Or alternatively, you have a blank staff, are told the starting note, and have to notate whatever melody is played. This class was the weeder. If you could survive this class, with its sarcastic, no nonsense professor who wouldn't hesitate to tell you that you were out to lunch, maybe you could cut it as a music major. You have four semesters of this class, meeting twice a week for 75 minute classes. You definitely practice because it is the single most embarrassing class on the schedule. For all of this, you earn one credit hour. 

Then there are your instrument classes. These classes exist to familiarize you with all the other instruments that are not your own. You will take six of these classes: one for your major instrument family, one for strings, one for percussion, one for voice, and two for your opposite instrument family. (Yes, I had to play a tuba. Yes, we were about the same size.)

Your class meets twice a week for an hour and a half. You definitely will be practicing whatever instrument you are assigned for 30 minutes a day because these classes kick your rear. This is 3 hours of class plus at least three hours of practice time, plus delightful written exams. For all of this, you earn one credit hour.

After that is the capstone instrument class, affectionately known as Boobie Band, where you are assigned an instrument that is not yours and the class has to function as an ensemble. This is another two and a half hours a week plus practice time. And you will practice because a master of this new, strange instrument, you are not. For all of this, you earn one credit hour.

Then there are the various electives you might decide to take if you decide graduating on time is not for you. Electives include improv, recording, deeper study into other instruments, minor ensembles. All of these are one credit hour.

We did have classes that were more standardized, three hour classes like Music Theory or Music History. I think Conducting was two hours, maybe? But a three hour class was an exception, not the rule, and usually took less bandwidth rather than more. My schedule generally consisted of two or three three hour classes and six or eight one hour classes to make up a full time schedule.

The way they got away with this is that most of our classes were classified as Labs. You remember when you took your three hour chemistry class and it had an attached one hour lab that met for three hours once a week? Like that, except a whole degree's worth of them and no attached lecture classes. Just time consuming lab after lab after lab. Don't you wish you were a music major too?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Blogging Resolutions

Jamie at Light and Momentary has declared we should attempt to blog like it's 2005. Of course I didn't have a blog in 2005. I didn't even comment on blogs in 2005. I did read them though.

I remember all the combox debates and tenuously entering them myself and the thrill of hitting refresh to see if there were new replies. Then I remember the traffic and conversations dwindling to a trickle. I wondered where everyone went. Eventually I figured it out. At the end of 2012, I bravely started hitting 'friend' to virtual Internet strangers who I hoped did not think me a weirdo.

Now it's almost all on Facebook. I miss the old comboxes, but it seems like to be seen, you have to be there. And where do you comment? If on the actual post, it seems to lanquish. If on the link, conversation seems to flow. Comment in both places, maybe?

As it is, I contribute to the sad landscape of the blogosphere. I still leave comments, but not as many as I used to and not as many as I intend. This blog began in the waning hours of my working days. I had (way too much) free time to think and develop posts. I could post on a regular basis.  Now? Well.

One of the biggest adjustments for me in coming home has been the lack of free space in my head. I feel like I have been robbed of my concentration. I waste a lot of time, for sure, but I waste it doing things I can drop instantly. I have greatly struggled completing tasks that require my concentration. I grab it in drips and drops when the children are gone or asleep, but requirements come before wants. The bills get paid. The lessons get planned. The clutter does not get sorted. The post does not get written.

It's why, in many ways, my house is still a mess. I do not seem capable of applying the 20 minute rule to jobs. It takes me 20 minutes to clear my mind to even begin thinking about it and then a child is calling my name. Progress is slow. I wish I could have a stretch of days where someone would take the children and I could work, but that does not seem to be in the cards.

What's that got to do with blogging?

I need to develop habits around how my life actually is instead of how I wish it would be.

I wish the house was already clean, but it's not. It's better, but there are still many multi-day projects to finish. I'm not going to get multi-days anytime soon so I need to maintain the progress I have and then make strides when I have the opportunity to do more. I need to accept those opportunities are going to be rare.

I wish I had time to write 1000 words posts two or three times a week, but I don't. I need to shift how I conceive of posts. They don't need to be long-winded tomes of philosophy or observations with *very* *deep* *meaning.* I just need to post. When I have the opportunity to spew many words, I'll take it, but for now, quick and dirty is really all I can manage.

Am I making a resolution to blog like it's 2005? Not really. But I am going to make the effort to post more. We shall see. What will I talk about?