Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Then the lights go out and it's just the three of us / You me and all that stuff we're so scared of"

What haven't we done in Portland?  This city deserves a summer list all it's own.  Highlights include:

Oregon Brewers' Fest (you can tell the non-douchebags in the crowd because they're taking notes)

our first post-NICU night away from LB (in a hotel!)

food carts: we had Brunch Box, and need to go back for poached chicken at Nong's

swimming in the pool: a lot, LB has begged to spend hours in the pool, but is in one of her tentative phases where she just wants to cling to us like a limpet

dinners cooked by my FIL (shrimp, salmon, and tonight we're having smoked brisket)

a variety of non-Fest beers at a variety of places

Barista coffee (the nice young man gave us coffee even though they weren't open yet)

Courier coffee (love: they have a turn table on the bar and were playing the breeders while we drank our coffee.  I wanted to take a selfie, but couldn't bear to in front of the hip barista.)

Powell's (of course, I got some nice picture books for LB, which are actually book for children that are for me.  I love being able to actually browse the physical books.)

Blue Collar Bakery (we started sharing a scone as we walked out, and by the time we got down the block we turned around for another)

A trip to the coast

pic by B

A swim in the Pacific (me only, and it was more flinging myself under the water and dashing back out so that I could say I swam in the Pacific)

Lunch at Mo's with lots of shrimp

A trip to Bushwacker's Cider Bar (1st all cider bar in the US)

LB got to go to the zoo (highlights: rainbow dippin' dots)

And I've gone running every day, which is pretty strange for me.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"All you fascists bound to lose: I said all you fascists bound to lose"

The women of the internet are tired, and I'm tired too.

Tired of the judgement and action of bystanders (which is to say, people who don't know shit about us and our lives).  Here, "The day I was almost arrested for having an autistic son," by Marie Myung-Ok Lee.

Tired of advice that does not fit our situations: here, from Black Girl in Maine.

Tired of wondering how it could possibly still be true that so many people reduce the worth of women to our physical bodies.  Here, Rebecca Traister's "I don't care if you like it."

Tired of having to worry that we are feeding the problems of judgement and disrespect when we celebrate our own lives.  Here, "Inside" from Breaking into Blossom.

Tired of the institutional and structural failures that allow women's bodies to be brutalized and are then unable to offer comfort to the victims or sanction to the victimizers.  Here: (a warning that if you have not read this article, it is devastating), "Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn't" by Walt Bogdanich.

In all these discontents, I hope I sense a new wave of women's activism coming on strong.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Let's forget about the tongue-tied lightning/Let's undress just like cross-eyed strangers"

This summer has proven surprisingly complicated.  And those complications have shifted my vision of a good summer.

Family stuff done
more Maine
beach time
visit with friends
go to the local splash park

Nothing says summer fun like cowering on a bench at the splash park!
 go swimming
lots of time on our back porch
lots of music
fireworks at home!
ice cream for dinner
sparklers (with only one injury)

signed up for milk delivery

family time at a hipster wine bar downtown

LB's first dentist appointment in on Monday

My stuff done
swimming in the ocean
a fitness class (and if you know me, you know how much it sucks)
regular jogging and stretching
3 pairs of shoes

a lot of clothes
a haircut
my first time getting my eyebrows threaded
appointments scheduled for all of the dental work I need
weekly dinner at Ken's Ramen
lots of music
a significant amount of alcohol


Saturday, July 19, 2014

One parent, one child, a ferry, two taxis, and two regional buses

My job gives us two extra weeks of set vacation every year, one at 4th of July and one at Christmas.  Since B had to work, I decided to take LB up to visit my parents in Maine for part of the week.  It was a gorgeous trip with beautiful weather, visits with friends, and doting grandparents.

The most terrifying part of the trip was the going home part, which involved me, a three year old, and five transportations.  Leg one on the ferry was fine because my parents were with me to help me with all our stuff, and it's a short trip, and ferries just seem more festive than buses.

For leg two, a taxi, I had a slightly bootleg booster seat situation for LB.  I am kind of an undercover safety maven (ask B), but that doesn't extend to hauling a Radian across three states for an <10 minute taxi ride.  Our driver appeared to take it as a personal affront that we used seatbelts at all.  Such is life.

Then the bus:

LB spent our wait in the bus terminal tying a scarf on Gertie the gosling and running back and for in an empty aisle of the terminal.  As an aside, Concord Trailways, which runs between Maine and points south, is the best regional bus carrier ever.  They are so good that they almost make me not bitter than you can't take Amtrak from Portland, ME to Providence, RI unless you are will to shlep yourself, a child, a backpack, a messenger bag, a booster seat, and several stuffed friends from North Station to South station on your own (no thank you).

Bus 1 was full but not packed.  We sat near the front because we had a quick connection in Boston.  The hit toy of the trip was a bag of lacing beads, although rather than use the beads for their intended purpose, LB spent a large portion of the trip counting her "monies."  And also eating the tiny bag of pretzels that they give out for free on the bus.  They she decided she was "the bus driver, the GIRL bus driver."  That was fun until she started abusing her authority and telling the other riders that they were talking in loud voices and were in time out.  Thankfully they were talking in loud voices and could not even here LB's tiny chirps.

everything's better with sparkle kitty stickers

Real bus drivers definitely don't sit like this

LB wishes this calculator was an iphone

After two quick hours we were in Boston, and I was nervous because we had five minutes schedule for our transfer, which is not a good cushion when you are traveling through Boston at rush hour.  Luckily since I'd done the trip before, I knew that we just need to walk to the other side of the terminal.

We made it with minutes to spare, and since we were reverse commuting at that point we were able to sit in the way back of an empty Peter Pan bus.  That ride was a little rougher since LB was a little louder and tireder, and I tried to force her to use the bathroom on the bus.  Thankfully there was no one to hear her scream and give me the evil eye.  LB totally started to lose it during the last 10 minutes, but the bus driver did not turn the bus around and we made it to Providence.

Even though the bus terminal in only about a 1/2 mile from our house, it's a half mile that includes a bad-for-pedestrians intersection that I didn't think I could manage with LB and all our gear.  So we got a cab, and I gave the driver a ridiculous tip for not giving me a hard time about the 1/2 mile fare.

So much better than last year, which involved a projectile vomiting LB standing clad only in a diaper in the aisle of the bus, while I tried to fix the damage.  Things that I changed this year: no dramamine, because it doesn't really seem to help her motion sickness, but it does make her very angry; only boring snacks-see motion sickness; no games with little fiddly pieces.  I did, once again, bring lots of plastic grocery bags, some paper towels, and a huge pack of wipes, and thankfully they were not needed.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Real Life With a W-Sitter

Advice on the internet: it's always worth the money.  Just because I need to periodically revisit issues I've decided not to worry about, I recently read the post about the evils of W-sitting here.

If you're not familiar with the W-sit (be thankful) here's a picture of LB in a half-W, with leg and foot pointed back and away from her body:

For LB, and many other kids, W-sitting is a symptom of low tone and low core strength.  Where kids with typical tone use their core muscles to stabilize themselves while sitting, kids like LB compensate for core weakness by making themselves as wide as possible while sitting.  In our journey through the world of PT, we've encountered a couple schools of thought related to W-sitting.

One, like the author of the linked article, says that as kids W-sit they further weaken their core, and that W-sitting is a bad habit that should be corrected until kids no longer do it-and strengthen their cores so by sitting properly.

An alternate view expressed by two of our PTs is that the benefits of reinforcing correct posture are outweighed by the developmental harm of constantly correcting a child who is trying to concentrate and learn through play.    Between ages 1 and 2, LB W-sat a lot and it was clearly her most comfortable sitting position.  Her PT encouraged us to allow her to continue her activity while quietly pulling one of her legs straight so she was in a half-W.  She also told us that she didn't consider it necessary to constantly correct a busy bee like LB, who was often in motion and shifting positions.  So a kid who W-sits for short periods interspersed with other positions may not need the same level of intervention as a kid who is sitting in a W for a half hour while working on a  project.

At LB's most recent PT evaluation, the therapist was even more emphatic that W-sitting is the symptom, not the problem.  He recommended as much walking, running, jumping, swimming, etc. as LB can manage in order to strengthen her core.  Encouraging LB to be active can be hard, sometimes she will absolutely refuse to walk, sometimes she wants to go to the park but only wants to go on the swings.  And modeling physical activity and engaging her in games really helps, but B and I are also human beings who don't always want to play chase with a young child, so sometimes challenging LB to get stronger means challenging ourselves.

According to that PT, the goal is overall strength, and if you build strength W-sitting will decrease without a lot of intervention.  I like that a lot more than viewing W-sitting as a "bad habit."  Doing what feels comfortable for your body because your body is atypical is not a bad habit nor is it lazy (I also don't like the "droopy snowman" thing).

If we we're to get to a place where we felt LB needed more intervention with her sitting, I would much rather present it as a positive, "sitting this way helps your body get stronger," and get her some low blocks to sit on than present W-sitting as a character flaw.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Now with Vague Blogging!

Being a semi-confessional blogger has its drawbacks.  I share more than some and less than others, but mostly I share about me.  So it is very inconvenient for my writing when someone else's stuff is taking up my mental space.  It's not mine to write about, but writing about something else while my mind is occupied feels fake.  But I need to write they way some people need to run or pray or eat candy.

I think I need to write, even if I can't write about the thing that's on my mind.

So, what else:

I'm reading: Divergent and I like it

Kindness of the week: I took LB to open swim on Sunday, and after power walking in the blazing sun for a mile plus, it turned out the session was cancelled (always call ahead) and we had two hours to wait until the next one, but the very kind woman at the front desk let us hang out in the officially closed kids space.

Transportation woes: Providence is overhauling various parts of the bus system and it sucks.  At my new stop they placed the sign for the stop a half block away from the much celebrated new bench and shelter, and I got a stern talking to for waiting at the bench rather than the sign.

What I'm giving young radicals to read:  Negroes with Guns by Robert F. Williams, and Timothy Tyson's biography of Williams, Radio Free Dixie.  After than we'll get some ladies in the mix.

What I'm drinking: I had a really nice berliner weisse while I was in Maine, and B kindly got me some more when I got home.  We've also been enjoying some gose.  Nice and light and tart.  The one I had in Maine was also only 3% abv, which was perfect.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

5 unexpected things I saw in Maine

See how I did that?  Aren't you excited to read stuff in list form?  Don't you wish I was including gifs?

1.  My first "open carry" event: I'll start with this one because it was the most shocking.  There I was walking down a mostly empty side street in Portland on a mostly dead Sunday evening, and I came up upon a grill, a table of condiments, and a crew of burly men in jungle fatigues with no military insignia holding very, very large guns.  And I kept my head down and walked quickly by, because that's what a couple decade of city living has taught me to do when confronted with men with weapons.  In the scheme of unsettling things, this event was less unsettling that participating in a small anti-War on Terror protest in Chicago while surrounded by five times our number of police in full riot gear, but more unsettling than seeing a lone guy with a gun running down the street in Chicago.

2.  A street preacher with a small cadre of supporters who looked like they were straight out of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (I would say The Hills Have Eyes if I was being snarky).  White guy, black suit, leather Bible, small speaker: I have certainly never seen anything like it in Maine.

3.  LB frolicking on the beach and in the ocean.  I had hoped this day would come, but I was trying to practice radical detachment.  With the help of a slightly older young role model, LB did amazing and had a great time.  And I went swimming in the ocean (temp: somewhere around 60 degrees F) and it was glorious.

4.  Extreme and annoying crowds: I know this is the summer story in some parts of Maine, but my Maine just off Portland has always been pretty sleepy.  Now it seems to be all rampaging golf carts, drunken daytrippers, and just about everyone ever if you happen to walk down Commercial Ave. in Portland.  It made me cranky.  Even though those people pay the bills and I'm mostly a summer person, I've seen my Maine in hurricanes, during the Storm of the Century, on the 6:15am ferry, and I want some GD peace and quiet.

5. A young black man (of Kenyan heritage) on our bus headed back to University of Maine at Machias (in far northern Maine).  He had an ass-long trip ahead of him.  Some 25 years ago, my boss was dating "the only black plumber in Maine," and a respected regional children's author told me "Well dear, at least the white people still have Maine." Things have changed for the better, I think, although often slowly and painfully.  And, I suppose, better isn't much of a measure against that latter comment.  But, Machias.  I cannot imagine what it's like to be a black man in Machias (in 2013 there were about 7,000 white undergrads at the school and 173 black undergrads or .5% by my calculation.  In Maine as a whole, 1.3% of the pop identified as black or African American in 2012).

And while I'm on the topic of being black in Maine, Black Girl in Maine is a great blog.