Genius

Apr. 19th, 2010 08:45 am
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I think living in Wales is killing my LJ habit. There's just not much to write about. Life is peaceful, delicious, green, and utterly magical in its sheer ordinariness. The days blur: reading, laughing, eating, walking, playing outside. Bennett thrives. He is night weaned and is sleeping through the night. His language skills leap every day. In fact, for some words and concepts he seems to be functioning only in Spanish. Crazy. He knows colors in Spanish, English and Welsh. And he's nearing two. When he's tired - hoo boy: tears and gnashing of teeth, I tell you.

Over the weekend I read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. It's an easy, quick read and pretty enjoyable. What makes him enjoyable is also what makes him downright annoying to me. Just stick with a damn story and I don't need three examples of cultural miscommunication to get your point, thank you. However, I greatly appreciate his dismantling of the American success myths: being self-made, talent and genius being innate, etc. I've never bought into the first. I've long understood how one's context, environment, access to opportunity, etc can help or hinder a person's chances of success. Gladwell talks a lot about class being a factor in educational success but I think it's more of one's cultural class than just monetary class. He has several examples that point to this, without being explicit about it. This idea led to some personal reflection.

My family definitely had upper middle class values but was very, very working class (until I was in solidly in my teens). My father hasn't moved much out of the working class mind set - call him retired and he bristles (he's busy growing his own food and building the houses he lives in), call him wealthy and well.... I wouldn't say that to his face, even though he and my mother split their time between two continents. I see how my parents' value on education helped me pursue my academic desires. They may not understand the content of my studies, but they very much respect that I am pursuing these degrees. Fitting with the more working class idea of kids doing their own things, I was left to cultivate myself. I'm grateful for this because I think kids need to ample time to play and do nothing and learn about being bored. But this is easy to say because I have always been self-directed and one to take the initiative in my interests, which my parents would then try to facilitate. But we never went to the theatre or to hear live music, or all those other 'townie' things that I wished I could have done. It's amazing that I started singing at all.

Which leads me to another reflection: I completely bought into the 'genius is innate' idea. I started singing thinking I had some natural ability, which I do, but I think I've always thought that if I was really talented it wouldn't be so hard and so fraught with angst. But that's not true. The people who get to be great singers and performers are people who didn't let the angst and hard work stop them, people who had opportunities, who loved the process and worked hard, all the time. I can't say that I did those things, or at least, not very consistently. This 'talent is innate, so if it doesn't come easily then what's the use' idea is sadly ingrained in me. I see it crop up in many other areas of my life. I think it was easy to believe because some things have come absurdly easy to me: reading and most school. I didn't have to work hard to get a respectable B+. A smidge of effort and I'd get an A. (Except math, but that's another story for another day.) Reading and words are like breathing to me, so I think I just assumed that's how everything was. But what I didn't take into consideration is that my mother read to me from an early age (I don't remember this at all), that the house was filled with books, that I saw my parents read all the time, that I was allowed to spend entire days engrossed in a book. Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes about 10,000 hours to become a master at something. I'm pretty sure I've more than logged my 10,000 hours reading.

Interesting stuff.
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Bennett has inherited Adam's motion sickness. Ugh. We attempted another outing today and B puked again after making distinctive whimpering sounds. Poor bub. We'll have to ask the pharmacist if there is infant dramamine or something.

I hate to say this, because more and more I've been enjoying time spent with my in-laws, but this trip, I've just mostly wanted to be left alone. I like our quiet routine. I don't want any extra hassle. I don't want to have to take others' confusion or needs into consideration. I think this autumn in Wales has driven home just how internally tired I've been. I need a serious Chill Out. It's not that I'm feeling particularly anti-social, I just don't want to be spending 14 hours a day with people not my husband or son.

But tomorrow they leave. I foresee a few days of recovery.
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My father in law loves to go to thrift stores. Several times a week after work he'll hit the stores. But it's not the vintage kind of thrift store, it's the Salvation Army or AmVets. He LOVES them. And on the weekends he goes to the swap meet. His garage is filled with things he thinks he'll use some day. He has 16 tennis rackets, several incomplete sets of golf clubs, old paintings because he wants to use the frames someday, etc etc. But his favorite things? Stuffed animals that light up, sing, and/or dance. Oh yes. He has three (that I can see) dancing chickens. A valentine's dog with sunglasses that wags his tail and sings "I feel good." And others. But we've hidden them. Obviously Bennett thinks they're wonderful. They light up! He can effect change! It's music!

But the worst thing is that my father in law loves to buy Bennett cheap plastic toys that require batteries. Can the toy light up or make music? Did it cost a dollar or less? Then Bennett must have it. The worst offender these days is a microphone that plays only 4 measures - not the complete songs, for better or worse - of Wiggles tunes. I have "We gonna do the ooooowwll! hoo hoo", "Quack quack quack", "Head shoulders knees and toes, knees and toes", "Wake up Jim! We need you for the show!", and other fine tunes STUCK IN MY HEAD. Bennett thinks it is the most wonderful toy ever.

I have told both Bennett and my father in law that these toys will not be making their way to Wales.

But speaking of Wales.... our visas - which arrived today! - have been approved for THREE WHOLE YEARS! Hot damn. We'll see if I can write an entire dissertation in three years. I have a concrete deadline now. I am SO excited to be there. I cannot wait to make my new home in Lampeter.

Kablooey

Jul. 27th, 2009 09:16 pm
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*Tomorrow morning I am waking at 3.30 to be on the road at 4.30 to catch a plane that leaves at 6. Two and half hours to Seattle, a two hour layover (for diaper change, bathroom, food, and to let little legs run around) and another two and half hours to Juneau. A ten minute car ride to the harbor, a half hour boat ride, my 60 year old father rowing us all ashore. Sometime around 5pm I expect to have "landed."

*How much longer can my father expect to row us ashore, to be the only one who knows how to run the generator, the wind power tower? I can run the boat, but not well.

*I will be off line for the better part of two weeks. Two weeks in Juneau. I haven't been home since I was married two years ago. I can't wait for whales, water, the smell of the sea, the mountains, moss, salmon, crab pots, quiet, the wussy cries of bald eagles, my nieces, long twilights, boat rides, the Future Gov, old friends, murders of ravens, Silver Bow bagels, the stories of amazing people doing inspiring things.

*Bennett is busting my chops lately. He is beyond clingy. It's weeping and gnashing of teeth if I am not paying 100% attention to him and/or holding him. Ay yi yi. But it's understandable. Between moving and a traumatic facial accident, I am not surprised. Poor kid.

*I think ComiCon has eaten my brain. I had an extensive and detailed dream about Twilight last night. Whoa. I was dreaming that I was watching a sneak peek from the next movie. The director had decided that it was so ridiculous a story that opera was the best inspiration. There was music, not necessarily opera per se, but the comparison was apt. And it totally worked.

*Now, to pack and to bed.
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Here we are. It's hot. We're sticky. I think this will be nice. Tomorrow we unload the van and sort the boxes. Bennett is going gangbusters. The cats are prowling, when they're not hiding. Adam's parents are joining Facebook. Facebook is officially unhip. Was it ever hip? Dunno.

Technically Adam's parents live in Santee (east county San Diego) - the land of dumpy, poorly dressed, Walmart shoppers in big trucks. San Diego however is full of strappy sundresses, flawless tans, short shorts, and obvious plastic surgery. I seem to fit in neither world. But I figure I'll shave my legs.
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Her journal isn't fully set up yet, but please say hello to my Sis, who is now [livejournal.com profile] guidedmyself.

Hi Sis!

She is an amazing woman, mother to two equally amazing girls (9 and 4), nurse, culinary school trained cook, and generally kind person.
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In Santee. Adam's family is crazy and wonderfully welcoming. They love B so much! Adam's father got B the craziest assortment of second hand clothes, mostly toddler sized, including a pleather punk rock jacket. I'll take a picture later.

In other good news, after being kept waaaay past his regular bed time and completely overwhelmed by three generations of adults, Bennett slept for 8 hours stright. He was literally attached to the boobie all night longm but who cares when I got 8 -8, I say!!!!- hours of sleep.

I'm going to go save the world now.
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I am grateful for podcasts. When I am at home with B all day long, the classical music starts to get old. I put on a podcast and - voila! Adult conversation. Very helpful while folding the laundry.

After this weekend I have decided two things:
*I want to find out more about my maternal grandmother, who is my namesake. She died when my mother was 9 and I realize I know nothing about her, not a story, not a preference, nothing. Other than her first names and her nickname - which is my given name.

*I could stand to be more fabulous. I love my jeans and tshirts, but I long for brighter colors, louder patterns and some beautiful jewelry. Being a nursing mother has necessitated certain wardrobe choices, and I do find my new shape and sizing to be a challenge [I am the size I was at 2 months pregnant, but my boobs are larger, even though I'm of a small frame, large boobie fitting clothes just hang poorly, sigh]. Still, it's time to choose to be a bit more flash, a bit more fabulous.

It has been pouring for days here. California needs the water so badly. So does my psyche and these grey wet days feel good.
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Super quick. Really I mean it this time.

After I posted the last post Adam came back from his own tarot reading with a different woman in a part of Daylesford. How did his begin? "Are you planning a trip abroad? Or have you moved recently?" And no, this trip abroad isn't what either tarot reader was referring to. Weird. But our readings were almost exactly the same. No shit. So, um, YES we WILL be moving. Pronto. We've been talking and talking about it and here's some creepy kick in the psychic butt. I have many more thoughts. Will save for another time.

Bennett is awesome and making new faces.

I'm not feeling so well again. Not a cold this time. I wonder if getting away made me realize just how stressed my family makes me.

Lastly, I love my sister and her girls. They left for Sydney today with my parents. It was a bitter sweet parting.
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In Junee at the public library. Bennett thinks he's a baby pterodactyl - that's the only way I know to describe his new(ish) sounds.

I was sick the whole trip over. Took days for my ears to unplug. One week in I'm finally feeling better. B is a snot and coughing machine, but seems to be finally adjusting to new people, places and smells. The family stuff was quite overwhelming for the first few days: sick and sleep deprived, with overwhelmed baby. UGH. Oh and some family drama. I see the stories we cling to so much more clearly. Uncle Jon is like This, mum always reacts like That, I fill This Role, etc. It's tiring and I'm doing my best to opt out as best I can.

My parents' place here is amazing. Pepper trees, myriad parrots and other birds, kangaroos, lizards, bugs, fresh peaches, plums and squash.... Our natural schedule here is to be up with the sun and I love walking around in the cool, doing yoga on the verandah as the sun rises above the hills. Spectacular. The small town that we are near is quaint - over the last decade it's really gone from some dusty boring place to a wonderful little spot. The nature needing, small town thriving me is dreading a return to Oakland.

One exciting thing we've already done is see a sheep herding exhibit. My uncle arranged an exhibit with a friend of his that raises kelpies for sheep herding, as well as Australian stock horses. We got nuzzled by a 6 week old foal and got to play with kelpie puppies, as well just learn about his take on farming. It was really cool.

On tap: Wed we leave for some wine tasting. I think tomorrow we're all going to go see Australia.
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I have to do a gratitude post. More stuff discovered missing - $15 worth of quarters for laundry. I have 3 days of diaper laundry ready to be washed and no quarters. Gah.

This morning I am grateful for:
*Bennett - he is healthy, strong, and a complete delight
*Adam - what an amazing person, partner, and father!
*a day of rain yesterday
*friends, far and near
*one again, that the apartment wasn't trashed in the break-in
*for bosses that care about me
*for the wonderful relationship with my sister
*being able to spend a full three weeks with my whole family in January
*not having to pay for the trip that allows the above to happen
*boobies that make milk
*and so much more, mostly intangible things, that I won't run on and on

I hope all of you have a SAFE and tasty Thanksgiving! Please remember to lock all of your doors and close your windows when you go out and about today. And drive safely.
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My partner is brilliant. I was stressing about how to entertain B and how to get things done and blah blah blah. "Why not just take care of Bennett all day long? You don't need to do anything else."

Duh. I mean, it's not like I don't take care of Bennett on other days, but today is the one day he and I have alone. I don't go into work, Adam isn't here (he works from home on Fridays). He and I can trade off with B the other days of the week and we can clean the house and do the laundry on the other days. Thursdays are now officially All About Bennett days.

Today he nursed and napped in my lap. He has bathed, had nakey time on the floor, played in his play gym twice, been sung to a lot. We've danced, discussed the bedroom, worked on some baby sign language. He's been read to and played with and snuggled. Now he is passed out in the bedroom from all the fun.

And you know, it's great for me too. I don't have chores or Shoulds looming over my head. It's all about Bennett and bonding and frankly, it feels like a little bit of a holiday.

Some photos from today:




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Baby kicking and fussing a little on Sis's bed. He's really enjoying his cousins and my sister. My sis is MAGIC with babies. Wow. I have revamped my night time routine for him in only 3 days.

Anchorage is warmer - high 30s. It's wonderful, just wonderful to not see the sun. Man, blue sky and sunshine every stinkin' day gets old. This is my one week of winter this year.

Today I am hanging out with the Future Gov and her babe. I am making granola at her house and then getting my hair cut in the afternoon. Got to be home by 4 to greet my eldest niece when she gets off the school bus. Tomorrow she doesn't have school so she'll be hanging with me and the Gov.

Nothing else of note. Just chillin'.

Oh, B said hi this morning. He was just copying my sounds, but he said Hi so distinctly that Miss A thought it was me.
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I am here. In Anchorage. All went smoothly, but even with a sleeping and happy baby it is a lot of work to travel alone with a child. Oof. I'm just frazzled. I feel like I've had too much caffiene, but I haven't had any!

Best of all: IT'S SNOWING!
Winter came early this year. Bennett hasn't even seen rain - it's rained once in the Bay Area since he before he was born and it was a night so he didn't see it. But he's already seen snow! Yay!

My sis is making cream of leek/carrot/zucchini soup for dinner. Miss A and Miss C are delights, as usual. B is a sleep on the bed.

Life is sweet.
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Bennett must be on one hell of a growth spurt. His day time naps have been mushed together into 3.5-4 hour naps! And he's sleeping from midnight until.....well, I've had to get him up to go to work, so I'm guessing he'd sleep until 10am. WHOA. But it's been fabulous at work, because I have gotten more done in the last two days than in..... well, a really long time. I even feel prepared to leave for a week. Amazing.

I biked to and from work today. Just so wonderful. I love my body. When I am good to it, it is good to me.

Despite these good things I feel anxious. So much to do before I leave on Sunday! So much to do before my parents arrive. Tomorrow. In the 4 o'clock hour. It will be my father's first time meeting Benn - his first grandson! My mother hasn't seen him since he was 5 weeks old.

Bennett is such a delight and so freaking fun. He's "talking" all the time and sometimes I think he's trying to sing.

Tonight's dinner is a huge shout out to [livejournal.com profile] teamrose! We are having stuffed yellow peppers, stuffed with quinoa, beet greens, red pepper, red onion, cilantro, cashews and carrots, cinnamon and cumin. And a salad of golden and red beets on dandelion greens with a yoghurt dressing that I'm going to make. YUM. Man, I wish we'd open a bottle of wine to go with this meal, but I have a hunch Adam won't want to. That's ok, because we had an amazing bottle of 2004 Peterson Cabernet Sauvignon last night with our Indian food. Big time yum last night too.

Off to the cooking!
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I say that in quotey marks since autumn arrives differently in different places. I LOVE autumn. I am so glad it has arrived. Usually I fast over the Equinox, but since I'm breastfeeding that's not an option. I'm not doing anything to mark it this year, other than verbally acknowledging it. Maybe I'll light the candles on my altar.

Last night I watched Jesus is Magic, Sarah Silverman's stand up "movie." She is HAWT, but she's not funny.

I am getting a bit of waist back! YES!! I'm starting to get a bit more shape. Thank god. And my stomach is noticably flatter. I may not be 112lbs this winter, like I was 5 years ago when I last went to Australia. Then again, I don't want to go to the gym everyday and eat mediocre graduate dorm food to get that way, like I did it last time.

What did I do after I noticed my waist in the bathroom mirror at work? I ate brownies. I swear they were laced with crack.

Australia tickets have been booked! I did it this morning before work. Holy crap, three adults, two kids and an infant round trip from San Francisco to Sydney is about $11,000. But, I'm going to Australia for a month! I am so so excited to share this part of my life with Adam. I'm also a little nervous since my parents can be cold and alienating and other members of family are evangelical space-cadets. Still. It's going to be great.

We'll be gone from Dec. 28 through Jan. 25. If you want to house sit while we're away our cats would be most grateful. Seriously. Contact me. A free place to stay in the Bay Area, right near BART. It would be a win-win for all involved. As long as you don't lose my keys, break certain items or kill the cats.

I have a magnum (half-magnum?) of shiraz-cabernet open on my counter top. Leftovers from an event I put on at work yesterday evening. No one drank any of it. Come over and I will gladly share it with you. I also have some blueberry pie from Whole Foods left over from Feri Pie on Saturday. I was skeptical of the pie, since the only pie I really like is blueberry pie and I grew up in blueberry country. But damn. Whole Foods makes a fabulous blueberry pie. I will share some of that with you too.

Wow, I really need new icons. And better baby clothes. And maybe some for me. I realized today that Bennett's diapers are nicer than much of my own clothing. And cloth diapers? Also laced with crack.

Wrapping it all up.... may you all find balance on this Equinox, in body, mind and spirit!
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1. Save money
2. Lose 15 lbs so I can fit into my swimsuit
3. Go to Anchorage to see my sister, the Future Gov, her baby, and Alaska
4. Deal with my mental health
5. Set up the office to deal with more of my absence
6. Pack my bags because we're going to Australia

What had a 5% chance of actually happening just became a 97% chance of actually happening. My grandmother has alzheimer's and so my sister, my nieces, Adam, B and I are all going to go over to Australia to be together as a family for the first time in 14 years. Grandma will be covering airfare. Guaranteed ports of call include Canberra and Junee (near Wagga Wagga), Sydney, Woolongong and hopefully south coast NSW. Maybe Melbourne and Victoria wine country, and maybe (only because I've always wanted to check it out) Adelaide.
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What did nursing mothers do before the internet??

When my mother was here in June she talked a lot about her life when I was born (I'm the first). She had moved to Alaska from Australia to be with my dad. It was 1975 and they were living many miles outside of Fairbanks in a log cabin my dad built while he was going to college. They had chickens and pigs and rabbits. My dad would take the only vehicle to work or school; my mother would be at home all day long. No couch, no tv, no phone. One rocking chair. I don't know how she did it.

I would probably get a lot more reading done if I didn't have the internet to keep me company.
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I want more babies. Two weeks after bringing B home I was already thinking about when to have the next one. Bennett is the easiest baby ever and I think it might be slightly false advertising. He's chill, can be taken anywhere and sleeps through the night. I realize I have been spoiled by the baby gods, but I accept this as making up for that month in the NICU.

A big dilemma for me has been about spacing. Three years apart? Less than two? What if I really truly do want three kids? Adam asked me a very clarifying question: do I really want to be pregnant again? Oh boy. Nope. Not right now. Sure don't want to be pregnant. We agreed that when I can think about being pregnant without a sigh of resignation or weary dismay, then we'll think about getting pregnant again.

***
Last week I got an email from some one vaguely in my social circle. In some ways she was saying "I support you in your call to have a child" but she mostly was granting us permission to breed "as long as you don't have more than two." She has problems with children; she thinks the world needs fewer humans, more animals and plants.

The world does need fewer stupid people. (And fewer greedy, ignorant, mean people, too.)

I realized I used to think this way too (short of people needing my blessings on their reproductive choices). Now, though, I think that a family of 10 could conceivably live much gentler on the earth than a family of 3. Think of all those 2.5 kid families out there, commuting in their SUVs, lawns with pesticides and wasteful water uses, eating fast food, not recycling, buying loads of stuff, etc etc. Those people have a much heavier footprint than a family growing their own produce, cloth diapering, not owning a car, etc etc.

My issues with large families stem from an inherent distrust of the patriarchal construct usually associated with religions and cultures that encourage lots of children. But they aren't the devil in and of themselves. I wish my family was bigger.

I'm tired

Jul. 24th, 2008 08:18 am
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Last weekend was super busy.... for having an infant. It was the first time we tried being spontaneous. It was a success, but two days of that, plus working Monday and Tuesday has me wiped out. B slept for 6 hours straight last night, but there's something about getting sleep that actually makes me feel even more tired when I wake up. As if, by starting to get some rest it is a reminder of just how much more sleep I need to catch up. I don't know how I'm going to manage going back to work three days a week. I can totally see why mothers stay home! This breast feeding this is hard work.

And I'm not going to get any more rest this weekend. We are going to San Diego tonight. B's first flight. We're going to see Adam's parents. His grandma from Kansas is coming out (B is great grandkid #6!). But really, we're going because it's ComiCon. The biggest comics convention in North America. I've never been and I'm quite excited. I'm only going tomorrow; Adam's going all weekend. We'll take B in a sling. I figure now is better than when he's a toddler and might get lost or trampled. I'm going to attend talks by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Craig McCracken (Power Puff Girls, Foster's Home...), and Eric Powell (The Goon, see icon). Fun!!

I'm nervous about staying at Adam's parents' place. One bathroom for a full house. The walls are THIN. And even in the heat of southern California, their house is really cold, especially the room where Adam and I and B will be staying. I always catasrophize though when going to be with Adam's family and it ALWAYS ends up just fine. I have some serious prejudices that I need to work out so I can get over this nonsense. His family is nothing but generous and loving, completely welcoming and accepting of me - and I can't say that my family is the same to Adam.

Oh, and I get to east some AWESOME Mexican food. Woot!

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