it’s been a week, or maybe a month

Our landlord wants his house back so we’re hunting for rentals.

We’d been looking to buy, too, but can’t find a rental with less than a year’s lease, and can’t buy a house (because of ordinary waiting/processing time of each step) in less than our remaining time at this house, so we’re looking to rent. Again. I am so done with renting.

Right now the rental market is such that maybe one or two houses per day, on average, pop up that meets our needs. (Must allow dogs — and we search for anything that doesn’t specify “no pets” — and be near work and/or useful public transit for Casey and Audrey, must have a backyard that’s fenced and not mostly concrete, must have at least four bedrooms with at least one but preferably two downstairs.)

So I’m packing, and house-searching, and trying to keep up with Owen and be a good Mom while Casey job-hunts (bad time to be between jobs) and Audrey is in a super-busy time at work and has little free time.

So this week was a bad week to injure my shoulder badly enough that it’s best if I keep it in a sling when I’m not flat in bed. My left arm is, in fact, maybe 10% as useful as usual. (No, I’m not going into how I injured it. It was not an interesting injury, was a very basic movement doing a very basic activity, but not something one discusses on blogs.)

Oh, and because of my rheumatoid arthritis doing a job on my fingers and wrists, I can’t lift more than maybe 5 pounds with one hand, I need another hand, or help, or just not to have a painful shoulder on a slung arm.

It’s one hell of a week.

But because that was all about complaining, I’m going to give you a photo of Owen and the bunny bread his beloved Nina gave him when we ate lunch at Boudin Bakery this week.


Maybe I didn’t need to know how he felt

Adventure time:

An aside

I don’t know anyone not infuriated by what happened to Robert H Richards IV and I don’t know how to respond to the issue.  Google if you are unfamiliar…. can’t talk about him around kids and kids might read this.

a sparkly day for you, too

Sometimes when I say, “Valentine’s Day has never meant much to me,” people tell me, “Well it’d be different if you were single” or (when I was single) “Sour grapes, it’d be different if you were attached.” But it’s never meant much to me.

I think this goes as far back as primary school, and making heart-shaped “mailboxes” to put on the bulletin board, and our parents would help us pick out some sort of commercial cheap valentine card, Speed Racer or Disney or something, and we’d have the mimeographed class list and carefully make sure everyone had one, write their names, stick on a box of conversation hearts or a heart-shaped lollipops, and … it felt sort of weird then. I’d come home with the envelope full of cards and candy, like swapped for like, usually, aside from the occasional heart-shaped homemade sugar cookie or card, and that was that. It was not memorable aside from as a thing that happened.

These days, kids (at California schools at least) turn it into almost a treat-bag swapping party. It’s way too much. I don’t want any part of it.

And it seems odd, to start this thing that involves lovers, or did originally, to start then. How careful are second- or third-graders to make sure that each child gets a correctly gendered card that doesn’t imply too much? What boy wants something too girly, or that makes you seem too affectionate?

At any rate, that lack of caring, the perhaps distrust of what seems so rote and obligatory (I gave her conversation hearts and she gave me a heart-shaped peanut butter cup, is that equitable?), sticks with me today, through two marriages and a few dating relationships and a lot of friendships. Casey and I sort of say “happy valentines day sweetie” almost as if we’re acknowledging the expectation rather than each other, and that’s about all we do.

I’ve tried to remember it when I’ve had partners who have celebrated the day, but I’ve disappointed them, as I forget as often as not. This is not half because I tend not to know what day it is at any given time.

This year, I’m helping Owen cut hearts out of his old finger-paintings and use glue-stick to make a few things for relatives and a couple of friends. (Okay, so I’ve accepted that it no longer has to mean “lover,” but that there can be a kids’ level that is more like “for a person I like.”) That sort of small-scale thing, without having a “must include these 30 people” list, feels better to him. I’d like him to feel as if it’s a fun game, not an obligation, an institutional (i.e. school) event, or a society-wide ritual. Paper and paste are enough.

Related: This is the first episode of Toopy and Binoo I saw, and it’s maybe the best, is gorgeous, and is a perfect representation of my ideal valentine.

Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of

Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94 I am heartbroken beyond what I can explain.

I don’t think antivaxxers are evil

flu shot - h1n1 by marymactavish
flu shot – h1n1, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

…. any more than I think pro-circumcisers are evil.

I think we just read science very very differently.

Right now, there is still a lot of solid debate going on about the value of circumcision in health, in disease prevention, for boys. Without going into detail here, some are saying “it’s a good thing, it helps prevent STDs like HPV and HIV in adulthood” and others — scientists, health workers, including from European countries that have been fine without circumcision for years — are pointing out real flaws in that science. It’s evolving. More is becoming clear.

So ultimately, I believe that kids should have autonomy in that level of body modification, that like tongue bifurcation and ear piercing and scarification, they can choose genital modification (prince alberts, scrotal piercing, circumcision) later if they want to, and like other adult disease-preventing major body changes, it can wait.

It’s not my job to make major body changes for my child that don’t have to be done in infancy.

But with immunizations, solid science says they’re good and work, most antivax debate comes from either outmoded/disproved science, popular bad science for ratings (some TV doctors, for example), or people who believe that, say, all GMOs are bad in all contexts.

And they prevent him from dying of diseases that he can contract right now.

(The really scientific debates aren’t whether most immunizations are better than none, they’re more about when and in what order, with a few “minor” diseases being in the “is it better to just let them get it?” camp, e.g. the chicken pox vaccine can wear off before we expect it to, should kids just get CP from exposure, or get CP vax boosters later?)

So we don’t let our kid have autonomy about immunizations. I don’t want him to get swine flu this year. People are being hospitalized with it locally, more than 20 right here in the bay area have died.

(True: The people who are dying aren’t robust teens, they’re people in “at risk” populations. Also true: I am in an at risk population. I don’t want your flu germs. Please immunize. Like yours, my immunization doesn’t eliminate my risk, it only hugely reduces it.)

When we went in, a kid was screaming bloody murder that it would hurt. I felt for him. I told Owen why he was screaming, but that it didn’t hurt very much. I asked if I could show him what it would feel like, sort of. He said yes, I gave his skin a pinch, then let him pinch mine. Then I got my shot, and barely noticed the needle.

Owen sat down happily, Audrey held his arm still, and he got his shot. It didn’t hurt. No fuss. And now his chances of getting sick with this fierce flu strain are less, as are mine, and that’s good.

This post grew out of the thought that it probably hurts my antivax friends and family as much to know I am in favor of filling Owen with weakened viruses and chemicals as it hurts me to know that there are still people out there performing risky cosmetic surgery on their children’s genitals

I get it, but I think it’s mostly about how I read and trust the science in each case.

getting music back

I grew up with music, showtunes and rock and roll, “children’s music,” jazz, classical. Mom and Dad were both musicians and it was always in the house.

We had a record player, a piano, a small record player for us kids. I don’t remember a discussion of good music vs. bad music. We just had a lot of music. I’ve always loved it. I’ve always listened to it.

But things have changed over the past decade or so, and for some reason, it’s become a smaller part of my life year by year. My most recent CD player wore out and I never replaced it. I think of making and doing anything with mp3 playlists as a huge pain in the butt.

Owen sings to himself a lot and I don’t want to interrupt that. (We sing a lot. He loves singing together or alone.) I don’t listen to the radio as much as Owen and I chat in the car and I don’t want to interrupt that as much.

And once KFOG fell apart and went downhill plummeted down a logging flume in a greased go-cart with no brakes, I stopped most music listening in the car.

So I want it back.

I started with keeping a Christmas Carol station on the radio in the car, and now I’m ripping my remaining CDs and downloading some good music from Amazon. I’m finding music that Owen will like and music that I will like, and making playlists. (That’s still a chore. I want to be able to type a command and a few letters while a song is playing and automatically file it into a handful of playlists — dancing, quiet times, nerd music, whatever — fast and easily and without a lot of attention.)

I am going to catch up on music that’s been released in the past decade or so.

Besides Jason Mraz (hush, *I* like him), what have I missed, what should I listen to, if I like “Paint Your Wagon” and Paul Simon and Dire Straits and Mozart and the Rubinoos? And is there a way to sort music into varied playlists that’s super low-maintenance?