December 6, 2012
Welcome to the December Intelligentsia.
#38: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#31: Lost in Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#30: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#20: St. Elsewhere
#18: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#16: Photogrl from Not the Path I Chose
#13: Sara from Aryanhwy
#2: Mina from Kmina’s Blog
The Prompt-ly listserv has been discussing a recent article about Munchausen by Internet and people who make up drama such as severe health problems to receive support online.
I missed out on the discussion because I have been dealing with my own severe health problems. Which I didn’t tell anyone online about (except for one Intelligentsia member whom I saw in person last week). Everyone else in my online life, not even a peep. Whatever those people have that makes them want to make up medical crises, I seem to have the exact opposite.
I won’t get into details now as we’re still not sure exactly what’s going on — for the third time in my life, I am once again a medical mystery — but I am out of the woods and somewhat on the mend.
My life wasn’t actually in danger, but there were a couple of days when the doctors, and therefore I, thought it might be. And, as calm as I always am and as hard as I am to rile up, fucking fuck was I scared. The fear was compounded by the hours spent alone with nothing to do, as the medical issues rendered me unable to sleep, unable to get up, unable to use my hands for the most basic tasks like reading or going online, unable to do anything except sit in a chair all night and worry.
I have felt plenty of other strong emotions in life, but I’m not wired for anxiety. Some people, like DH’s mother, live their lives being worried and scared every day. Not me.
The last time I was truly scared was the almost-worst day of my life.
Aside from those two incidents, I can’t remember a time in my life when I was really, truly frightened. Deep to my core petrified.
I hope I never have cause to feel that afraid again. It fucking sucks.
When was the last time that you were really, truly scared? How often has that happened?
November 1, 2012
Welcome to the November Intelligentsia.
#37: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#32: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#30: Lost in Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#29: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#19: St. Elsewhere
#17: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#14: Ana from Ana Begins
#14: Mel from Stirrup Queens
#12: Sara from Aryanhwy
and new Intelligentsia member Mina from Kmina’s Blog
34 years ago yesterday, I dressed up as a ballerina and went trick or treating. I clearly remember being inside the house of my next door neighbors, a kindly elderly dentist and his kindly elderly wife; she told me that she had saved a caramel apple just for me. (Can you believe there was a time when people made treats themselves?) I felt so special. I clearly remember going to the other next door neighbor’s house, tripping and falling on their front walk. I felt embarrassed, even though there was no one there except my mother. I vaguely remember going to the neighbor two doors down, with the teenage daughter who babysat me sometimes.
I also clearly remember going shopping for 3rd birthday presents, though I don’t know if that happened just before or just after Halloween, so I’m not sure which is my very earliest memory.
I have a cluster of other memories from right around that time. Some are mundane, like changing the channel on the TV to Sesame Street. Some say something strange about 3-year-old me, like the time I told my father, “I love you more than I love Mommy,” and then a few minutes later telling my mother, “I love you more than I love Daddy.” I remember that so clearly. I was sitting on the stairs with my mother playing a game where she made sound effects when I touched her nose. In the middle of the game, I professed my love. I remember a lot about that day, but I do not remember why I was being so manipulative.
I remember getting a Mickey Mouse phone for my birthday. I clearly remember playing a game where I kept calling my dad using my brand new Mickey Mouse phone with the second phone line. I’d keep calling him and say hello then hang up and call again. At one point, I must have dialed wrong, because I said, “Daddy?” and the guy on the phone was not my daddy. What’s surprising now about this memory is that a few days after my 3rd birthday I not only knew my numbers but could remember and accurately (most of the time, at least) dial a 7-digit phone number. Burrito and Tamale know some of their letters but don’t know any numbers, and they certainly don’t know any phone numbers. My mother was much more adept than I am at working on rote memorization, and she probably spent hours drilling me on that phone number. I can still recite that phone number and that address (we moved away when I was 4 1/2) more easily than almost any other address or phone number from the rest of my life.
Burrito and Tamale are now exactly a month older than I was on that Halloween. Their memories have become so amazing in the past few weeks; they bring up things that happened months ago, or out of nowhere they say something that I casually mentioned weeks ago. Every day they seem to understand and to remember more and more. At any time, something that they experience may become a permanent memory. It oddly feels like my actions and words matter more now than they did before. I’ve always tried to give them the best possible set of life experiences, but now I also feel an odd pressure to give them the best possible set of memories.
What is your earliest memory?
October 25, 2012
Now that I have young children, I spend a lot of time thinking about, and occasionally making, costumes. They have various dress-up costumes, but Halloween is the biggie. Normally Burrito and Tamale’s clothes are totally independent, but for Halloween I like to take advantage of them being twins and give them a fun pair costume. Actually, some years it’s costumes: I develop a backup costume in case they won’t wear the regular costume.
For the first time, their 4th Halloween, my pair idea may be thwarted because one of them wants to wear something else. Oh well, I had 3 good twin Halloweens. Maybe I have a few more years until they insist on vampires or zombies or whatever the next big scary thing is (werewolves? mummies? hunchbacks?).
For myself, costumes have not occupied much thought since I was 17. My freshman year of college was the last time I remember dressing up for Halloween — actually dressing up, not just wearing an orange shirt or something. Oh wait that’s not true, when I was 22 we went to a Halloween party for my husband’s work and wore a group costume: not just him and me, but a visiting friend from out of town too. That is my all-time favorite costume I ever wore, and as far as I know we are the only people who have ever worn that costume. Every other year of my adulthood I have either done nothing or seriously half-assed it, like football jerseys out of DH’s closet or giant bows in my hair. Mostly it’s fine that I don’t wear costumes since most adults don’t, but one year I was in NYC for Halloween and everyone at the party was totally decked out, except for us. It was embarrassing to be at a cooler-than-thou club in the meat packing district and get asked over and over, “Why aren’t you wearing a costume?” or worse, “Is that outfit supposed to be your costume?” We and our friends concocted ideas for the next year — the full Justice League was the frontrunner — but we never had another NYC Halloween.
There is one other group costume I’ve had in mind for several years, but I don’t think it will ever happen. I wanted us to dress as the Kennedy family. Last year I actually bought a Chanel-style blazer for Tamale, but between DH’s reluctance to wear any costumes and the logistic difficulty and, now, Burrito and Tamale having no interest in the Kennedys when they could dress as trains or dinosaurs or something, I think that costume will exist only in my imagination. Too bad; Burrito already has John-John’s haircut, and Tamale would have been a stunning Jackie.
Do you ever wear costumes? What types of costumes do you like for yourself? For children?
October 18, 2012
Later I’ll get back to the snap decision I alluded to last week — waiting for it to be a sure thing.
Burrito and Tamale are now 3 years old (!!!). A few days before their birthday, they saw the delivery man bring one of their big ticket presents, and they went nuts with curiosity. So, I gave them have one gift early. They watched and hovered for an hour while I put together their dollhouse. Of course, they loved it.
The day before their birthday, I asked them if they wanted another early present. Burrito refused: “I already have a present. I have a house.”
When their birthday arrived, I announced that it was time to open their birthday presents. “I already have a present. I have a house.” Over and over he protested. When he finally started opening presents, he changed his tune: “More presents! I want more presents!” But his base state is to be satisfied with one.
I also prefer one bigger present rather than many smaller presents — like the iPad I received last year as a combination birthday/holiday gift. I’d much rather have that iPad than ten birthdays worth of little gifts.
My late mother had the opposite philosophy. She was always very concerned with the number of presents I received. Even when all I wanted was a single big ticket item (a keyboard one year, a CD player another, a Cabbage Patch doll before that), she insisted on adding a bunch of dinky pieces of junk to bulk up the number of presents. She sometimes went so far as to wrap up things I already had just to give me more things to unwrap.
For herself, though, she always insisted that she did not want any presents. A few times I got her something she really liked, but oddly for someone who liked acquiring stuff so much, she really didn’t care for receiving presents.
How many birthday presents would you ideally like to receive?
October 4, 2012
Welcome to the October Intelligentsia.
#36: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#31: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#28: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#18: St. Elsewhere
#16: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#13: Mel from Stirrup Queens
#11: Sara from Aryanhwy
It is October. Each year the arrival of October brings me right back to this post and the joy/relief of reaching October in a pregnancy in which I was due in November but came very close to delivering in August. Each October 1, my mind’s eye immediately flashes to the colored letters in that exuberant blog post.
October is a good month for me, probably my favorite. Pros:
Foliage (though this was more of a pro when I lived in New England)
Halloween for little kids is adorable
Fall weather = getting out the fall clothes that have been languishing all summer: jeans, sweaters, boots, jackets
Burrito and Tamale’s birthday
After the leaves change color, they fall off the trees and the branches are bare for half the year
Nonstop TV commercials for horror movies
Halloween for big kids is too often gory or troublesome or weird
Halloween for adults is too often skanky
November is a good month too, mostly because of my birthday, but I also rather like Thanksgiving side dishes (no turkey for this vegetarian).
December is a big month for almost everyone in North America, but for me it’s rather odd since we (and the rest of DH’s family) don’t celebrate Christmas but my family of origin does. There are a lot of things I like about December and many, many happy memories, but now that I’m no longer into Christmas, it can all be a bit much.
March is my worst month. It’s the month my mother died. It’s also DH’s biggest month for work travel; every March he is away more days than he is home. I didn’t really mind when it was just the two of us, but Burrito and Tamale really feel his absence, and therefore it’s a hard month for all of us.
Most other months don’t evoke strong feelings, good or bad. Because we celebrate several holidays based on lunar calendars, there are holidays that I quite enjoy that move around the Gregorian calendar. Some months have very little going on. Every month there are enjoyable and exciting things that happen, but most of them aren’t tied to a specific page of the calendar.
Which perhaps is a dated reference, because I don’t even use paper calendars anymore. But let’s say I did. There are some months like March where I’d flip the page on the first of the month and sigh, “Oh, it’s here.” There are other months, most notably October, for which I’d flip the page and say, “Hoooooray! It’s here!”
Hoooooray! It’s here!
Which months resonate the most for you?
September 27, 2012
It used to be that when something disappeared, it might be due to my own forgetfulness, or maybe miscommunication with my husband. Then there was that time a mouse kept moving things around the kitchen, as I documented way back during IVF #2.
Now, I have an easy explanation for anything that is missing; one of Burrito’s favorite hobbies is moving objects to places that they do not belong. Why are there choo-choo trains behind the toilet? Why are there 5 (note the odd number) dirty socks in the couch cushions? Why is there a spatula in my bed? The answer to all of these questions: Burrito.
Why isn’t my credit card in my wallet? Burrito, of course. But where is my credit card? I haven’t been able to answer that for the past three weeks.
At least he reliably puts the car keys inside the same puppet.
When something disappears in your house, who/what do you suspect?
September 20, 2012
A few days ago, my husband announced that a friend from another city would be in town and would be coming over the next day. Immediately I tried to clear my work schedule so that I could come home an hour or two early and tidy up. The cleaning lady had been to the house two days earlier, but messes develop quickly thanks to Tropical Storm Tamale and Hurricane Burrito. With some visitors who are chaotic themselves I wouldn’t put in as much effort, but I know this guy to be a tidy fellow. It’s not about impressing him or anything, just about being respectable, about not being embarrassed.
Way back when, in the 90s, DH was on his way to a company softball game and stopped by our apartment to grab some clothes. He was giving a coworker a ride to the game and brought the guy upstairs. The place was a disaster. It was not a big apartment, but every one of those 700 square feet was messy. Beyond embarrassing. Since that day, my general goal has always been to keep the house in decent enough shape that if someone showed up at our door unexpectedly, I wouldn’t be embarrassed. Most of the time we don’t meet that threshold, but a good percentage of the time it’s decent enough that with an hour notice it could be fine. Things are usually pretty clean, which helps. Not dirty, just messy. Out of place.
You know the saying “A place for everything and everything in its place”? I’m great at the former. I strive, with varying degrees of success, for the latter.
If someone dropped by your house today, would you be embarrassed?
September 6, 2012
While we’re on the topic of old clothes…
What is your tolerance for holes?
Remember the late 80s/early 90s? Not only did we keep wearing jeans that had big rips in the knee, sometimes we actually cut giant holes into new jeans. Oh what our parents must have thought.
Nowadays, I’d never wear clothes with holes… except when I do. I try to present myself decently, so it’s quite surprising how many clothes with holes I continue to wear. When it comes to pajamas, I have no problem with holes as long as the shirt is comfortable enough and the holes not too big or egregious. I have a few lounge pants with holes or wear at the hem. For clothes I wear outside the house, I’d normally never wear anything with holes. But, for the past few months many of my shirts have ended up developing tiny holes, all in the exact same spot at the waist. It turns out that the zipper of my work bag has been poking holes into my shirts. I can’t very well throw out more than half of my wardrobe, so I wear them despite the little holes.
I don’t ever tolerate holes in socks, or underpants, or seats of pants, or knees of pants, etc. I do retain some standards.
I don’t tolerate any holes in my husband’s clothes, though. Those get thrown out as soon as I (or he) see them.
For the children, normally I don’t tolerate holes at all. But, when they’re in phases that ensure messiness (coming home from nursery school with their shirts covered in paint, potty accidents in pants…) and when the item of clothing is particularly cute, I tolerate tiny holes. But when we’re done with them, I throw them out — I’d never pass along something with holes as a hand-me-down.
What is your tolerance for holes?
August 30, 2012
This week’s topic comes from a comment that strongblonde left a couple of weeks ago.
As I’ve mentioned before, 95% of the clothes that I acquire for Burrito and Tamale are either hand-me-downs or come from consignment stores. I have bought just a few special articles of clothing. Most of their socks are new, because those don’t tend to last to get handed down or sold. I buy most of their underwear new, but they do have some used underwear. So, clearly, I have no limits when it comes to pre-owned clothing. My MIL was horrified when Burrito ran out of clean underwear one day at school and was sent home wearing communal underwear. As long as it’s clean and not yucky, I don’t mind. I wouldn’t personally wear used underwear, of course, but for children, whatever.
Quite a few of my own (non-underwear) clothes are consignment too. I actually prefer consignment shopping, not only for the cost savings but because the selection is so much broader in a consignment store than in any one retail store. I also enjoy the needle-in-a-haystack challenge of finding something that’s (A) my size, (B) my style, and (C) doesn’t look horrible.
Virtually all of the child, and adult, furniture in our house is new. I do have one little table that the prior owners of my last house happened to leave behind, and the bed in the guest room was purchased from a coworker who was moving away. I don’t inherently object to used furniture, but between style preferences and concerns like lead paint, few used items interest me. I wouldn’t get a used bed for myself, though. Gross. Hotel beds are gross enough, never mind one that I sleep in every night for a couple of decades.
Many of Burrito and Tamale’s books are hand-me-downs or consignment, as are some of their toys, but I’m actually quite picky about toys. Between lead concerns, BPA in plastics, recalls, choking hazards, chipping paint, developmental concerns… most used toys don’t meet my stringent standards. Even many of the new toys that they receive as gifts don’t meet my standards, and I end up passing the toys along to another kid whose parents aren’t so picky.
What things are okay to get used and what should you get new?
August 16, 2012
Several commenters brought up the topic of college funds and other money that is given to children. Since I didn’t mention any of that in my post, I thought I’d discuss it more explicitly this week.
I believe in college funds. I believe that if a family has the means, they should pay for their children’s educations. I did not have a college fund by the time I got to college, even though there could have been an ample fund if my parents had made different decisions over the years. I was pretty pissed about that in college. Now, 15 years after graduating, I’m mildly annoyed that my loans aren’t yet paid off.
A friend of ours does not believe in college funds. He chooses not to have college funds for his children, thinking that they can go to state colleges. He chooses to bring in less income than he could and to spend the family’s disposable income on hobbies and vacations; he gets a lot of flack from his savings-minded friends for those choices.
Burrito and Tamale have college funds, but due to the way that tax benefits are structured, we put most of our savings into our own retirement accounts. We have every intention of paying for their educations, and moving the money around as needed, but thanks to Uncle Sam it looks on paper like we prioritize ourselves over them.
Even though we haven’t put that much money in yet, the balance of their college funds is still higher than the sum of the gifts they have received in their lives. As far as I am concerned, the money that people have given them has gone to them. In fact, we tend to do sort of a matching system, because in addition to putting money in the college funds we tell the gift-givers that their money is going to specific purchases like big-ticket toys. Relatives seem to get more enjoyment out of their gifts being enjoyed immediately by the children rather than paying for one college textbook 16 years from now.
However, at the time the gifts are given, we actually take the money. It’s pretty amusing to see DH take cash from a toddler’s birthday card and put it in his wallet — but it’s only amusing because I know that they will get their due at the end of the year. I’ve known parents like the one that strongblonde described in her comment last week who have taken money intended for their children, not out of need but out of selfishness. I certainly don’t believe in that.
What’s your stance on college funds?