Thursday, June 26, 2008

summer reading

my intention for this summer was that it be full of serious learning, aided by my doula training course and the two-week summer school course i was planning to take at regent college (christianity and the political economy of capitalism). intentions have given way to reality, and though i did take and enjoy the doula training course i haven't really continued my doula studying since then. and i recently decided not to take the regent course at all. this will be a loss, i know, but somehow i couldn't imagine reading karl marx and adam smith when i've only been whetting my whistle lately with where the wild things are. (which i think i actually have memorized.) which i know is a good reason to read something else, something more challenging, but i just don't have the energy to be a good student right now. i barely have the energy to grow a baby and keep my two-year-old alive. so no summer school.

but i still wanted to have a goal for summer reading, so i've embarked on something a bit more realistic. basically my rule is that if a book is geared toward readers over the age of 18, it's too much for this summer. so far, my summer reading journey has been lovely.

my favorite book as of yet has been the mysterious benedict society by trenton lee stewart. it's a moving, smart mystery about four gifted children risking their lives to save the world. i loved it. and there's a sequel, the mysterious benedict society and the perilous journey, which is waiting for me at the library. hooray!

another book i really loved, but which was a little harder and sadder to read, is the green glass sea by ellen klages. this one was about a little girl who lived for a while at los alamos, new mexico, while her scientist father worked toward creating the atomic bomb. it's mostly about her life and losses, and her own scientific ability, but it's also really interesting to glimpse life in the strange temporary community that was los alamos. it was sad but really beautiful. (the main character in this book reads a book called the boy mechanic, which i since found out has been recently re-released as practical projects for the handy man: over 700 projects including a hammock, kite, toaster, sundial, lantern, swimming pool, camera and much more. i got this one from the library for aaron, and he's enjoyed perusing the many project opportunities.)

and most recently i read a fun and heartwarming book set in boston, called my most excellent year: a novel of love, mary poppins and fenway park. it was about three ninth grade friends who learn a lot about themselves and others through musical theatre, JFK, baseball and sign language, among other things. it was just a really nice book to read. (and i loved the details of the city and the north shore.)



and now i'm onto rule of the bone by russell banks, thanks to my brother kevin, who just finished it and recommended it highly. it's pegged as a modern-day catcher in the rye, and kevin said he really appreciated reading about the journey of a boy he can relate to. so far it's definitely holding my attention, though it is more serious and challenging a book than i had planned to focus on this summer. but i think it'll be worth it. maybe it'll help me understand kevin's struggles a bit more, and help me prepare a bit for the complexity of a boy growing up.

and not to be left out are the piles and piles of books i read with noah every day. we have really been enjoying the library, and noah even signed up for his own summer reading club! he has a little booklet to fill out, where he colors in a bug after each book we read together. after five bugs, ten bugs and fifteen bugs he wins a prize (a pool coupon, a pizza coupon and a free book). aaron asked if he could join the club too in hopes of getting a free pizza. i think noah reads way more than aaron does these days, though. we could probably complete the booklet on a daily basis, but we'll take it slow. it does seem like a great way to keep noah involved in thinking about all the reading we do and participating with other kids in a challenge. there will even be an awards ceremony at the end of the summer for all the kids who complete their booklets! pretty exciting.

my favorite of noah's recent library books is bye, bye baby by janet and allen ahlberg. it's "a sad story with a happy ending," about a baby without a mommy who goes in search of one. he ends up with a lot more than a mommy in the end. noah loves it, and it's so funny! at the beginning, the baby without a mommy lives alone and has to feed himself, change his own diapers and put himself to bed. he suddenly realizes he is too young to be doing these things all on his own, that he needs a mommy, and his search begins. i also love thinking of him talking in a tiny boy's british accent. so cute.

Friday, June 20, 2008

piggy bank (a movie)

wherein we take noah's first full piggy bank to the bank coin machine. exciting!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

spring wrap-up

tomorrow it will be summer. really?? i'd love it if that were true. "spring" in bellingham has at times felt close to winter, so maybe summer will at least feel like spring. so much rain! so many sweaters! so few flip-flop days! i was looking forward to the end of this pregnancy coming in the summer so i could wear cute sundresses and tank tops instead of piles of sweaters adding to my already-bulk. that has yet to happen.

but lots is happening in our lives, nonetheless. here are a few updates:

the house is coming along. since we closed on may 15th, the house has a new roof and a new fence, it's pretty much empty inside, a few walls have been knocked down, paneling has been torn off, and the furnace and ducting have successfully been moved upstairs and hooked up. this weekend aaron will work on updating the electrical and installing new outlets. then comes plumbing, then comes... stuff that will actually make it start to look livable! i'm excited for the rebuilding process, which will help me envision this new space we'll soon be transitioning into.

aaron has mastered the city permitting process, and has been drawing plans and meeting with city planners and inspectors. he's learned a lot and we feel good about doing the demo/rebuild process all above-board. aaron spends all day fridays and saturdays and parts of sundays and most evenings at the new house, so noah and i have had to entertain ourselves a lot lately. it has helped to have a fence up at the new house, which allows me to work outside while noah safely plays. i've been enjoying planting things in my two new raised beds, and noah's been enjoying playing in his sandbox, riding his bike, peering through the fence at the neighbors and playing with his new "blocks" (i.e. fence scraps).

aaron has put me in charge of researching things like floor coverings (meaning lino for kitchen and bathroom and area rugs for other spaces), wall coverings (meaning non-toxic paint, blinds/curtains, etc.), appliances (we need new everything) and fixtures. i've been falling asleep reading home improvement magazines. it's funny.

so far i have bought a rug for the kids' room, and i've been enjoying thinking about decorating a fun space for them. that's about as far as my research has gotten, though. any advice from any of you on the above purchases?

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noah is terribly and terrifically two. he amazes me and challenges me every day. his vocabulary grows by the minute, and i'm always shocked at how quickly he memorizes new words. (just this morning we talked about fire hydrants while walking through town, and then before his nap he pointed one out in a book we were reading, remembering exactly what it was called!) no longer does the word "digger" represent all construction vehicles. now he points out the difference between backhoes, skid-steer-loaders, rollers, impact hammers, graders, etc. and he will correct me when i'm wrong. he also knows all the names of train cars (like boxcars, hoppers, tank cars, passenger cars, flatbeds, caboose, etc.) he's pretty much obsessed with all vehicles still, though trains and construction trucks take precedence over airplanes and boats.

he loves puzzles and does them so fast! he loves to read and will sometimes sit in front of his bookshelf for half an hour, pulling books down and leafing through, saying the titles and pointing out favorite characters and objects to himself. (we're working on putting the pile back on the shelf when he's done...) he loves stickers and uses them to decorate his "green sheet," the big piece of paper we have tacked onto the wall. he's mildly interested in coloring and drawing. he likes to count, but this usually means he says, "dit, dit, dit, dit, dit...many!" although i think he understands the number two...

noah is fiercely independent but also still strongly attached. he wants to sit in a big chair (not his booster seat), drink from mama or daddy's cup, use a big fork, serve his own food, etc. usually he does really well but messes do abound. he's an amazing climber, speeding to the top of any play structure, hill or stairway. he does not seem all that fond of slides or swings, though.

he's starting to get excited about using the potty, though it's still merely a novelty. he will scoot his little bum backwards until it lands on the potty, settle in, push and grunt with a great effort, and then hop up to check his progress. usually only a tiny trickle has come out, but he's so proud! then he'll scoot his little bum backwards and do it over and over again.

i think he understands that we'll be moving soon to the "new house," but i can imagine it might be hard for him to think of it as a real house yet. i also think he understands that a new baby is on the way, but that also might not be real until he meets that little person. he does give my belly kisses, pretends to share his pacifiers with the baby, and talks about how when mama eats food it goes down, down, down to the new baby. i think he'll be a great big brother.

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in early may i did the doula training workshop at the seattle midwifery school. it was an intense four-day (over two weekends) training, which, if i follow through, will certify me to become a licensed doula. it was a wonderful experience, taught by really smart and talented women and attended by really smart and talented women. what made it even better was that my friend jessie (wife to aaron's friend mike) took the training with me, so we got to process what we were learning together. we're both unsure of what our doula-ing futures will look like, so it was nice to share the experience with someone else who was there mostly out of curiosity. certification would mean attending and documenting three births and joining one of the local doula organizations.

i feel pretty sure that i'll pursue certification in the future, though it's hard to think about being a doula for someone else right now. currently most of my energy is spent growing and preparing to birth my own little baby, and i'm lucky that my dear friend sarah will be my doula for this experience. maybe next spring or summer i will feel ready to lend that support and encouragement to other birthing mothers in a doula role.

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which leads to an update on this new little baby. so far, this pregnancy has been uneventful, in the best ways (i.e. no ovarian cyst or other complications!). today i am 31 weeks pregnant, leaving 6 weeks until we move into the new house and until the baby is considered "full term" (which is usually between 37 and 42 weeks). things have gone so quickly this time! i'm sure it has to do with the bulk of my energy going toward noah; i hardly have time to notice what's going on in my belly! but i've done prenatal yoga again this time, which is always a lovely quiet time to be present in my body and connect with this baby. generally i am more achey and painy this time around than i was with noah, but probably that also has a bit to do with the fact that i sometimes heft around a 30-pound toddler. alas!

as the baby's birth gets closer, i feel both excitement and anxiety. i've tried to let go of most of the grief, disappointment and frustration i felt with the experience of noah's birth; i can honestly say that i now understand that we all did what we could every step of the way. and what i hope for this upcoming experience is that i'll be able to say that again.

this time, however, i feel so much more prepared. i know what to expect, and i know about the things you don't expect that might happen anyway. and i know how important it is to have strong, assertive, knowledgeable and loving support around me as i labor. i'm counting on my friend sarah's doula skills and her friend skills to be important supports that last time were missing. i'm also hoping this baby has the kindness to be in the anterior position and maybe come a bit earlier than noah decided to. but... we'll deal with what we get!

we're planning to have this baby at the skagit valley hospital, which is about half an hour south of us in the town of mount vernon. SVH has certified nurse midwives on staff, which, sadly, our local hospital does not. and their team of nurse midwives are all very supportive of VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and have not put any random bounds on my labor and birth experience. they all say that they will help me have the experience i choose to have, as long as the baby seems safe. i will have to be monitored more closely this time around, but the hospital has a telemetry unit that will allow me freedom of movement and bathtub access. and there will be an OB down the hall who could perform an emergency cesarean, if necessary. but we are hoping that he won't be necessary!

in my search for a VBAC-supportive care provider, i was saddened by the realization that i'd have to go to a different town to have the experience i wanted. there isn't a midwife in bellingham who is willing to risk losing her license by performing an out-of-hospital VBAC (either at home or at the birth center), and there are no in-hospital midwives. there is one family practice doctor/surgeon who has VBAC privileges, but he told me that if i didn't go into labor by my due date we would schedule a cesarean for my due date. and the only other local VBAC options are OBs, which i did not want. i'm happy to have found the nurse-midwives in skagit valley, but i hope that it won't be long before bellingham gets some in hospital nurse-midwives of their own! as soon as my friend sarah finishes her training, i am lobbying to get her in there...

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so that's life these days for us bellingham bandstras--a summer of work toward new creations. and hopefully a summer of sunshine too!

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house picture above from mike van eerden. and lots more pictures of bandstra life here.

energy (a movie)

noah gets out some pre-nap energy by running around the house. (please note the big-boy haircut, the cat-scratch bruise under his eye and the very funny grumpy face mid-way through the movie.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008