Preschool Coop Updates

Our little school coop is still going strong and having fun! A couple of weeks ago, we visited the fire station on a field trip, and this week we had a belly dancer visit and entertain us. We have moved from rotating homes for our location to our permanent home at “‘Milla’s house”. Her family converted their tandem garage space into an extra room that is now our classroom. We have added a number of the week, too. We continue with weekly themes, emphasizing books, crafts, and games/activities based on that theme. We did loose one of our four students and are looking to add another student or two (potty trained and at least 2 1/2). Any takers?

Caroline has known the basic academic things (number, shapes, colors, alphabet — that was not what I wanted for her) — but she is picking up on some Spanish counting and has definitely grown in her social skills with sharing and taking turns and empathy. And she’s having fun and I’m getting a little break, which is what I wanted for us.

Times have changed and "Telling Too Soon"

I have been amazed at the outpouring of support we have received over my miscarriage. The stories I have heard from others and have read about online or in the books I’ve skimmed paint such a different picture than our experience. Times have definitely changed. Hospital procedures are sensitive and supportive. Friends and family acknowledge our loss. Our church has been amazing in encouraging us to grieve and remember this baby however we want.

As much as I have wanted to rush through the grieving process, I have been told repeatedly that “grief comes in waves” and “the only way *around* grief is *through* it.” Now, I don’t want to obsessively blog about the topic, but it is a pretty big deal, and it does consume my reflections of late. My understanding of the way to properly grieve is to talk about my sadness, my loss — not ignore it or my emotions, as I am prone to do.

I’ve talked to a couple of women who had losses at the same time frame I did, one 30+ years ago and another 16 years ago. I am amazed at how much things have changed. 30+ years ago, you were expected to just move on. Not talk about it. Not hold the baby you lost and delivered. Just get on with your life. As if nothing happened. Even just a bit more than a decade ago, the hospitals did not have the procedures in place to allow for grief to begin, for remembrance to happen. Even now, from what I’ve heard, not all hospitals have the same procedures. For us, St. David’s was such a blessing. They put a sign on the door of my room so that anyone entering would know of our loss. After I delivered the baby, they allowed us to hold him as long as we wanted and left us alone. Then, they took photographs of him wrapped in a hand-knitted blanket with a hand-knitted hat and booties. When we left, they gave us a hat box with mementos — that blanket, hat, and booties, those pictures, a card with the baby’s footprints, a tiny angel handkerchief that was in one of the pictures alongside the baby, as if for scale, and a James Avery charm of a heart with a heart cut out of it. In one picture, they have posed the baby so he is holding that charm. Our nurses included a note from each of them in the box. We were also given a book on grieving a miscarriage or stillbirth and pages of resources.

I had written most of this post before I stumbled across this article today.

I wonder what we’ll do next time, in terms of telling. With Caroline, we waited until the second trimester to tell anyone. This time, we waited until we had seen the heartbeat, when your chance of miscarriage drops to three percent. At the time, that seemed like such a remote number. The chance of a second trimester miscarriage is one percent. Now one in 100 sounds a lot more likely than I am comfortable with, especially being that one in 100. When we get pregnant again, I do think I’ll tell a few people because I plan to rest like crazy (so I’ll need someone to entertain Caroline). I can’t imagine going through this without the support we’ve had, though.

Also, since I am a bit of a nerd about research and such, I have also requested the book, MOTHERHOOD LOST: A FEMISINIST ACCOUNT OF PREGNANCY LOSS IN AMERICA through interlibrary loan. (By the way, how cool is google books? And interlibrary loan for that matter?!)

Runner’s High

I joined a gym. Fitness 19 because I thought it was cheap. $19.99 a month and one minute from my house. Well, that’s how they get you in. Then they give you a complimentary session with a personal trainer. No sales pitch needed (this former sales person says.) I even told the guy in the midst of the session, “I see why people pay for this! I would NEVER PUT MYSELF THROUGH THIS OF MY OWN VOLITION!” And he said, “You said it yourself.” (Was that a closing comment?)

See, I had told the guy I had strong legs. I told him I didn’t need to work out my legs, that cardio alone would tone them, and I don’t want to build more muscle back there. It’s big enough! Well, Mr. Expert didn’t agree. Something about muscle burning more calories and all that. Yeah, yeah, I know. But I don’t want a 50 inch butt.

He wants to work legs anyway. Takes me to the squat machine and put it on 90 pounds. OH MY GOSH! I’m dying!! He doesn’t seem to think so. Cranks it to 110 and let me do one go. And then somehow sneaks over and moves that weight to 130 pounds. I was dying at 90 pounds. “Oh no,” he says, “you weren’t even grimacing.” So that’s the secret, I guess. Make your FACE look like it hurts. And then he had me do one last move, after all those sets or reps, counting down from ten. Ugh!!

Moral of the story: I would have NEVER put myself through that workout (there was more…oh, much more!) on my own. But I did it … and felt fabulous after! And I guess that’s why folks pay for trainers. And that is how Fitness 19 makes their money, even charging much less than the other places do. It’s in the personal training revenue.

And I’m thinking about it.

I worked out today, sans trainer. Arms. I know I wimped out on weight. And on reps. And I wonder if he would have made me do that halfway down and hold it thing like he did with my legs. I really am considering hiring him for three or four weeks, once a week. To take me through arms, abs, and legs and keep me motivated. I don’t see myself working out for more than a few months just now, hoping to be pregnant again after the doctor says OK. But it would be nice to loose a few pounds before then. And tone those abs and legs a bit.

And that runner’s high — I was AMAZED at how great I felt after my workout with the trainer Wednesday. All those phone calls I needed to return — I did it. I could truly tell those folks that I was doing great. I felt great. No drugs like the doctor offered. Just my own endorphins surging through my body.

Gotta keep that up!

Possibly the Longest Week of My Life

Seven long, exhausting days. So much has happened. It seems like a year.

1. Learning unexpectedly that the baby inside me is dead.
2. Telling my family.
3. Leaving my daughter overnight for the first time ever.
4. Checking in to the hospital to be induced. (Five tries to get that darn IV started…that wonderful, pain-numbing IV.)
5. Waiting for labor and laboring for 25 hours. My body didn’t want to let him go.
6. Delivering that tiny baby boy, taking turns with John holding him, naming him, and handing him off.
7. More waiting for the third stage of labor, delivering the placenta.
8. Taking that ride to the OR for a D&C.
9. Going home.
10. Telling friends.
11. Crying.
12. Wondering…what went wrong?…will we get pregnant again?…am I too old?…I think I want a half dozen kids now.
13. Crying.
14. Being touched by the kind words, cards, flowers and plants, meals, thoughts and prayers of those around us.
15. Finding comfort…in sleep and in my beautiful daughter. Forget the internet support message boards or grief reading material recommended by the hospital and friends. Those just depress me more, reading about people still mourning years and years later. I just want to play with my big girl and sleep.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

I decided to keep up with some religious education / experience for Caroline after our lovely Advent and Christmas routine. I’ve been reading about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, which is predominately used in Roman Catholic churches (and was used by John’s mom when he was young) and Godly Play, the Protestant version of CGS that was developed by an Episcopal priest. Most of the Godly Play lessons I’ve seen are for older kids, independent readers, at least, but Catechesis of the Good Shepherd has a 3-6 age curriculum, fitting with the Montessori primary age ranges. For this primary age range, CGS does not emphasize rules or obedience or sin, but rather focuses on God’s love and the parable of the Good Shepherd. It makes perfect sense to me that before a child will follow the rules, she needs to know that she is loved unconditionally. (Seems that applies to both Christ’s love and a parent’s love, really.)

So, I have set up a little corner of our play area with a green runner for the color of the season of Ordinary Time, put a Children’s Bible and a retelling of the parable of The Good Shepherd, The Shepherd and the 100 Sheep, a good shepherd and 10 sheep for her to manipulate, along with a green candle for the season. Caroline has enjoyed playing with the shepherd so far. She says he is sad that his sheep is lost. (Does she totally get it, even at a 2 1/2 year old level?)

Happy Anniversary, John!

Thirteen years ago, just a mere babe, I made the smartest decision of my life. I married the best guy out there! I love him more each day. I love him just because, but I also love him for who he is and what he does. I love him completely. And here are a few reasons why:

1. He thinks deeply. Not only is he the smartest person I know, he still challenges his mind–through reading, research, discussion.
2. He is a caring father. The best! Caroline adores him, and he and I want to parent in the same gentle, conscientious way.
3. He looks good. And better every year, I think!
4. He is a spiritual leader. He has grown into a leader for our family and our church and as a Christian example to his friends.
5. He is innocent. Even when he goofs up and acts insensitively, he doesn’t mean it. He just wasn’t thinking.
6. He agrees with me (usually). So many people who married young, as we did, find that they change and their spouse changes. We both did, but we’ve grown and changed together, becoming more alike in our thoughts and opinions. And when we don’t agree, we can have interesting, intelligent discussions.
7. He supports me. Even when I make unconventional or radical choices, John stands by me.
8. He provides for our family. I’m so thankful I can stay-at-home with our kids.
9. He is financially conservative. Which is like me, so it works for us.
10. He thinks objectively. He is slow to judge and can see both sides of the issues, even when he doesn’t agree.
11. He is reliable. I can count on him. His family and friends can, too.
12. He is resilient. In my graduate studies on gifted education, the importance of resilience came up often–its importance in strengthening character and building brains. John has been through more than his share of trials and is truly resilient. Though I wish I could take away the hard times he has had, I can’t doubt that they have made him who he is today.
13. He loves me!

I love you, John!

Out with the Old and In with the New Year

It’s 7:30 p.m. New Year’s Eve. I’m sitting on my bed with my laptop, reading emails and blogs, waiting on my husband to bring me some hot wings for dinner. My sweet big girl / baby (she alternates which she is) is sleeping soundly. I’m sipping a festive mocktail of ginger ale and orange juice in a champagne glass and looking forward to a hot bath before bedtime, which will come well before midnight. I’ll ring in the New Year when I get up to pee for the first time during the night.

We did our celebrating early at Austin’s First Night. What a great city we live in. I’d feel really cool if I could say “we took the train into the city” but instead, we took the bus. Still, it was a neat adventure and a pleasant experience — $4 round trip in a heated, comfy coach with someone else doing the driving. We didn’t have to use the gallon or two of gas the commute would have required, didn’t have to search for parking, didn’t have to deal with traffic.

This is the third year for First Night, but it is the first we’ve attended. It’s a celebration of the arts and of the city. This year’s theme was Peace, so we started the evening with a theatrical presentation of the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Then we watched some performers — cloggers, children’s choir, clowns, and jugglers, before we hit the food and people watching. Caroline wanted to make one of the festive hats she saw so many people wearing, but the line was LONG! We went to the sock-puppet-making exhibit instead, which she enjoyed. We’ll try to figure out how to make one of those HEB bag hats tomorrow.

For my sappy reflections and expectations — 2007 was a good year. I am happy and blessed. Of course, there was sadness this year, loosing Tony. I’m looking forward to a fabulous 2008, welcoming our family’s newest addition, along with (at least) a couple of new cousins for Caroline and Baby 2.