Friday, October 17, 2014

Multiplication is going to be the death of me.

For readers who are paying attention, my Olivia is in third grade this year. Olivia is super smart. She always test very well, always in the top ranking of the class, always in the top one or two percentile nationwide in basically everything. I felt like the first three years of school I was going to get by easily because she just picks up everything so effortlessly.

Until third grade.

More specifically, until multiplication.

Now, I fully understand that with the Common Core standards math is taught drastically different than when I was in school. And for the most part, I'm fine with that. Even if I don't understand it, that's not the important part. The important part is that my child understands it and can learn math concepts. And while I haven't understood how to do her math any other year using these new standards, I have always been able to go to the teacher and get some guidance and every year, that's worked out beautifully.

This year we are working on multiplication and division and I swear to you all, I am going to lose it. It's gotten to the point where I am actually telling her to ignore what her teacher is telling her because they way they are doing it makes no sense at all. At conferences, I brought this up and it's like the teacher understood my frustration, but gave us no other alternatives other than to keep trying. Well that's out the window. This week I started working with her on her times table and I thought by god- this kid is going to memorize it, and we'll work out the rationale later. Homework time has been reduced to tears (mine), frustration, then she cries, then we fight, and I know in that scenario she isn't retaining anything at all.

I fully understand the rationale behind explaining a math concept and having them know that 4x3=12, but also being explain what that actually means- that four rows of oranges over here multiplied by the three columns of oranges over here is going to give you twelve oranges. I agree that this is a great method to use, and frankly, maybe if it was explained that way to me as a kid I wouldn't have struggled so hard in math my whole life. But right now, I'm watching a highly intelligent, studious, happy girl dissolve into tears over homework.

I also hate that I am having to take it into my own hands at this point. Because frankly? I'm not a teacher for a reason. I did not go to school to be a teacher, I have no idea what I am doing and that's why I don't home school. I'm not kidding myself, I have no idea what I'm doing. I want her to be able to do well on assignments, without me guiding her along, but also do well on tests to show that she actually can do it.

The nice thing is that it isn't just my kid. I have talked to a lot of other parents with kids in the same boat. What gets me is that of the parents I spoke with, we're all very hands on with our children's education and they are struggling. What about the kids who don't have parents at home who care enough to help with homework? Those kids are getting lost in the shuffle and that's heartbreaking. I don't know what to do about that. But I do know that if multiplication is this hard with Olivia, I'm terrified for when Jackson gets there because he's not nearly as studious as her. He's smart, but he doesn't love school work enough to really put effort into it. And if third grade is this hard? God help me from here on out.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I may be growing a Baby Einstein.

Probably one of the most interesting things about having such a gap between pregnancies are the major differences. For you women who are holding out on having babies until you're older, there are definitely some pros for that list, but here are a list of cons that I am currently dealing with.

And for the record, I'm not even old. I'm only 32. If you're older, you know, god speed and all of that.

Pregnancy brain is real, yo. When I was pregnant the first two times, I was ages 23 and 25. At 25 I felt a bit old but good, you know? I felt like I was still at the top of my game. I was in my reproductive prime. I was still sharp as a whip and I had no idea what anyone was talking about when they complained about pregnancy brain or memory loss. The fact is, this is a very real symptom. Today I was on Facebook when I realized I knew not one person in the feed I was reading. Not one. I got kind of offended, thought someone had hacked into my account, but then? Then I realized I wasn't on my news feed at all. I was in a garage sale page. It didn't even dawn on me that every single post was someone selling something until after the fact. I honestly feel like this baby is sucking every smart thing out of my head.

We're done, bitch. Regards, your bladder. One of my top complaints following two pregnancies was the fact that I felt like my bladder and I had broken up. I wasn't sure what I had done wrong. I drank urine friendly juices, I never held my urine in for too long, I did Kegels several times a day for years, I wore appropriate underwear and not too tight pants. I really felt like I did everything I could to placate my bladder. It's taken years, but I have finally learned that the chances of me peeing my pants is high because my bladder? She's fickle. So I'm always prepared with pads and yes, spare underwear at times. But this go around? Oh my. My bladder? She's angry. She's threatening me with UTI's for no reason, she's giving me zero notice when it's time to go and if you have to cough or sneeze? You best hold it until you are on a toilet because bladder don't play.

Energy might come back. Or not. Probably not. The other down fall this time around is that the level of exhaustion is unreal. Again, I was never tired with my other two. I felt perfectly normal, other than the fact I was huge. This time walking from the couch to the refrigerator warrants a sit down. I walked the dog ten blocks and after block two, I felt like my legs might actually stop working and I'd be totally content to fall asleep for a few minutes in someone's ditch.

Oh wait, it comes back, but only between the hours of 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Because yes, what I want to do in the middle of the night is finish the things I needed to get done while everyone else was up. I am literally wide awake in the middle of the night. I pee, I'm tired on the way back to bed and as soon as I lay down- wide awake. By the time I start falling asleep, it's just about time to get up. I get like an hour. Which is nothing, and only makes me more tired.

Pregnancy depression is the worst. I suffer from depression and anxiety already. When I'm not pregnant, I can usually manage these things on my own without medication and I feel like I do an OK job. I might hyper ventilate and have panic attacks in my car before something at my kids' school, but I try to leave enough time so I can do that and then calm myself down so I don't look like a maniac. And depression, I have my own set of ways of handling that and sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't. But as of right now? I cry in my car on my way to work, on my way home from work, before bed, when I wake up in the morning, and sometimes I tear up randomly all day. Maybe it's a combination of stress, feeling unwanted/unneeded, overwhelmed, a little scared/nervous, excited, all of the above and more. But a part of me is worried that maybe it isn't these things, and I have a serious issue on my hands, and I'm trying so hard to snap out of it.

We'll see how the rest of this pregnancy goes. I'm worried that these first eleven weeks have been so tough. I have 27 weeks to go, basically. I mean, that's kind of terrifying. The up side is that I did not throw up today! I felt like I was going to twice, but I did not. I was able to just breath through it. My reward was raging heartburn for the next seven hours. Which sounds horrible, but this reminds me of when I was pregnant with Olivia and that? That I can deal with. Though no antacid helps it all, I can at least function feeling like my entire chest is on fire. I'd take that over vomiting several times a day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Monogram Murders

Yes, it's another Agatha Christie novel. No, I'm not joking. Just get with the program already.

The Monogram Murders - Sophie Hannah
The Monogram Murders
I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’

Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered.  She is terrified – but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim...

Now, full disclosure: I have never, ever read an Agatha Christie novel. No, I am not even kidding. I honestly don't know what my problem is, or why I haven't read any, but from what I gather some high schools have it as required reading. Mine did not. We read Ray Bradbury and other things. Most notable was the play version of The Crucible, and our instructor stood on a desk to read her part and that right there made that one of my favorite books of all time. Anytime you have a teacher waving a broom in the air, yelling at you, and stomping on a desk in the front of the room, you've got yourself a gem of a teacher and a story right there. 

But with that being said, that means I also have not read any other Hercule Poirot stories, and after reading this one, I'm going to change that. Not because this story was so amazing, but because now I want to compare notes on Sophie Hannah's take on this character and Agatha Christie's. The biggest criticism of this book is that it is long, it is tedious, and it is slow. So, that's three things all rolled into one. I was hooked instantly when we meet a lady who basically declares herself a dead person and then rushes out. Then we find out about three murders in London, all very suspicious, and Hercule Poirot is just sure that the mysterious woman and these three bizarre murders are all connected. 

You know the show House, M.D.? Or Vincent D'Onofrio's character in Law & Order: Criminal Intent? Hercule Poirot reminds me exactly of those polarizing characters. Highly intelligent, but also very peculiar in their methods of solving the larger puzzle. So if you like that kind of character, this is going to be a hit for you. 

But the problem is that even 3/4 through the book I was really struggling. Like really struggling with finishing. I felt like the author was trying so hard to achieve a level of easy writing where the plot just unfolds with you like a tide, and no- it wasn't that at all. I'm sure she's a great writer for her own novels where her particular writing style fits, but it just didn't fit here. Then once we finally solve the puzzle, I sat there thinking, "What? No, this can't be at all. This is dumb and makes no sense at all." I was pretty disappointed overall. I think the only reason I held on until the very end was that I was hoping it would have this supreme twist at the end that made all of the rambling and tedious description of things that are meaningless, worth it. Sadly, that's not the case. If you are looking for something to fill your Agatha Christie hole, I'm going to venture that this isn't going to be it. 

Assisted suicide? I'm OK with it.

I'm sure by now most of you, if not all of you, have heard about 29 year old Brittany Maynard's plan to die peacefully in her home, surrounded by family, on November 1. (If not, you can go here to see a quick video that basically explains it.) I had shared an article about this a week or so ago on my own Facebook page once I had read about it because honestly, I think this is such a beautiful thing. What I didn't expect was how many people were blatantly against this.

I'm a pretty level headed person, and I feel like I can weigh things impartially when I need to. But for me, I don't understand the argument against assisted suicide at all.

In a lot of cases like Brittany, when a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the person diagnosed (as well as friends and family) start going through the different stages of grief. It's reasonable to be scared, angry, depressed, defeated, all of these things and more. And for awhile some of that encourages you to fight back and refuse to just go quietly into the night.

And that is courageous.

What is equally courageous, is to know when to say enough is enough. To face death head on. A human body can only withstand so many treatments, so much abuse, so many chemicals being pumped into our system, and just feeling terrible day in and day out. It's not reasonable to want a person to just keep trying for the sake of trying. To me, the worst thing in the whole world would be to see someone you love so much and care so deeply for just wither away. To suffer until the end. Sure, you can give them pain relief, but what kind of quality of life do they have? That's not life. That's making a person hang on because we don't want to let go and say goodbye.

It's never easy to say goodbye. I don't know anyone who has said goodbye and felt like it was all OK. No way. You love that person, and you don't want them to leave early. You want to grow old with them and let them experience so much more in life. But that's not the cards on the table. The cards on the table is a death sentence. And instead of letting someone dictate how they want to go, we say no and make them suffer.

To me, that's selfish. It's really the ultimate selfish act, isn't it? To say you'd rather a person suffer and deteriorate until they are a shell of their former selves than say goodbye when you can still have a beautiful last memory with them, is selfish.

Then it got me to thinking about people who struggle with mental illness who often give in and commit suicide. Those are never happy stories, but sometimes I feel OK. I feel like, you know what- if life was that bad for them, if they are at peace now, then I'm at peace. I don't like that they are gone, I miss them a lot, and I wish I could have done more to help. But maybe it wouldn't have mattered. Maybe we should look at it like they are at peace, whatever held them back in life has set them free, and they aren't plagued by demons anymore. Mental illness doesn't go away. I suffer from depression and anxiety, and while I can't say I've ever seriously contemplated suicide, I can understand why a person would. And it isn't about any of the rest of us. We try to make it about us by talking them out of it, and telling them all of the great things in life, as if those things never crossed their mind. But maybe it did. Maybe with all of that good, it's not enough for them. I wouldn't want someone to suffer and struggle their entire lives just so I could have them here.

Again, that's totally selfish.

I think there is a real difference between people who do it as a cry for help and people who do it to get it done. Very different, and I think we can all reasonably separate them out. But maybe if people felt more support in life, during the great times and the darkest hours, humanity would all be a little better for it. Maybe if we didn't project our will and wishes onto others, and let them go out the way the want to go out, people wouldn't be so scared to die. And for those with a religious belief on suicide, who is to say God isn't telling them their purpose on Earth is done and it's OK to come home? We don't know that, that would be a very personal thing between that person and God, wouldn't it?

So the moral of the post is that I applaud you, Brittany. I applaud your husband, your family, your friends, and everyone backing you up. You deserve to not suffer, knowing full well what your future with your debilitating condition is going to be and knowing you fought the good fight. You deserve to have everything you want all the way to the end. To be able to really say goodbye to people in a meaningful way is the greatest gift you can give to everyone that will mourn your loss for years to come. And that right there? That's the most selfless thing anyone could ever do. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How To Build A Girl

The first time I read this title, I thought this was going to be a really cool book I could read and then be a super awesome parent to a young girl, and maybe she'd read it and feel all inspired and empowered.

And then I read the first page and holy hell- do not let a young girl read this. HA!

How To Build A Girl - Caitlin Moran
How to Build a Girl
What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you wasn't enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes—and build yourself.

It's 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there's no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Bront√ęs—but without the dying-young bit.

By sixteen, she's smoking cigarettes, getting drunk, and working for a music paper. She's writing pornographic letters to rock stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realizes she's built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks enough to build a girl after all?

Imagine The Bell Jar—written by Rizzo from GreaseHow to Build a Girlis a funny, poignant, and heartbreakingly evocative story of self-discovery and invention, as only Caitlin Moran could tell it.

Page one starts with her masturbating. No, I know, it's OK to spit out whatever was in your mouth, because I did that as well and got Pepsi all over the first page of my book. The general consensus of the few friends who read Caitlin's first book (I haven't, so I can't really compare the two) and who have read this one is that this one isn't nearly as good as the first one. Which I think is OK because the follies of being a teenage girl are many, but the follies and tragedies of being a young woman? Oy vey. We've all be there. What I will say is that I thought this book was funny, and I generally don't find things that are supposed to be funny, funny at all. This is why I avoid comedy shows because if your intent is to make me laugh? I probably won't. I hate jokes and funny stories in general. But this? This book had me chuckling, and laughing in a few parts. 

The only thing that I felt was kind of... strange, was how hard the feminism horse was beaten. I mean, that horse was dead by the end of the book. And while I would consider myself a feminist just based on the basic principles, this kind of thing is kind of a turn off for me. It feels a little bra burning to me in some parts so that made me groan a bit and roll my eyes. 

But let's talk about how completely filthy and inappropriate this book was, because honestly, it's one of the best qualities of this book. I consider myself to be a bit brash at times and I can definitely be a dirty bird when needed, but parts of this book made even me blush and think not a chance in hell even I would say that! 

Overall? I thought it was funny. I thought it was different, I thought it was catchy and the funny parts made it hard to put down. Do I think it's something I'd let my (future) teenage daughter read? Not a chance in hell. But I can appreciate the teenage frustrations in this book as an adult because it's in the past and not my present day. Now, if I were a teenager reading this, I think maybe I'd feel a bit differently about the book. So I think if you have someone on your holiday list (shut up, don't be in denial, it's coming whether you are ready or not) that likes funny, brash, and kind of filthy humor? They need this in their life. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 11

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was determined to be one of those obnoxiously cute pregnant women who are over the moon and eager to share every single detail, and document what is most likely my last pregnancy. Which, as an aside, I'm working on a future post about that as well. But as it turns out, I'm super tired. So here's a quick recap of what it's like to be eleven weeks pregnant, age 32, with my third baby.

  • I am tired. Like super tired. All of the time. I understand that this is a common pregnancy symptom, but what you should know is that with my pregnancies with Olivia and Jackson, I had zero of this crap. None. The worst I have ever had was nonstop heartburn with Olivia, and Jackson just stopped moving around 8 months and it turns out he was just lazy. So this being exhausted is awful. 
  • So is feeling sick at everything. Almost every smell makes me sick, eating is a chore, and I go from not hungry to Ethiopian starving in one second flat with no warning. I hate it. I can't plan for it at all. 
  • I feel huge. I feel a lot larger than I should be. I didn't show until about 18 weeks with Olivia, and about 15 or 16 weeks with Jackson. I'm 11 weeks right now and I feel like I look five months along. Good lord. 
  • Other than all of that? I don't even feel pregnant at all. Like not at all.
  • I'm still split down the middle between being excited and being terrified and unsure. 
  • But I'm still a planner no matter what- I have the nursery about half done, and between some really good garage sale finds and really great friends getting rid of their used baby stuff, I'm kind of set with the big things. I'll find out what I'm going to have so I can get some cute gender theme clothing. 
  • I have a great friend, Amy, who is throwing a shower for me. I'm pretty excited about it and it'll be fun to celebrate with close friends. 
  • Matt is pretty excited. He's working a lot right now, so I haven't been able to spend a lot of time with him, but he's been as helpful and supportive as he can be with his schedule. He doesn't even blink an eye when I ask for pizza at 9 p.m.! 

Next week I have my 12 week ultrasound and genetic testing. I'm not putting a whole lot of thought into it, but what's weird is that again, I'm terrified for the ultrasound. I know I've already seen a heartbeat and I'm probably just fine. I also can't help but feel nervous for it. I hope the feeling of being scared for my appointments goes away soon. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

31 Days: A Memoir of Seduction

Woah. So I knew going into this that it was going to be heavy, and emotional but I wasn't totally prepared.

31 Days: A Memoir of Seduction - Marcia Gloster
31 Days: A Memoir of Seduction
Marcia Gloster was a college student traveling through Europe in the summer of 1963. When she arrived in Salzburg, Austria to study at Oskar Kokoschka’s School of Vision, she envisioned a month of intensive painting, never expecting to find herself swept into a passionate affair. Nor did she imagine her lover to be a married instructor with a long history of indiscretions. Even at a young age, Marcia knew how to protect her heart. But it had never been taken by a man as overwhelming and sensual as Bill Thomson.

31 Days is the story of Marcia and Bill in Salzburg. 31 days that would redefine love, sex, passion, and permanence for a woman of twenty; and a month that would resonate in her life forever.

Deeply sensual, intensely vivid, and achingly beautiful 31 Days is a memoir that lives in all of us.

So right away, the art teacher and student immediately brought me back to one of my favorite books of all time, The Color of Light by Helen Maryles Shankman. Except it wasn't like that at all, so I was kind of let down in that regard, but this book became special in its own way. 

We have two young friends who are going to do a semester abroad for school over in Austria. They'll be attending a prestigious art school and immediately, Marcia feels an unnatural attraction to her much older professor, Bill. Bill is widely known as a playboy, he's married but has several mistresses and is known to sleep with students. Several other students try to warn her, and being young, she ignores their pleas, knowing full well she'll be left devastated in the end. 

But instead of it being a one semester thing, she develops feelings for Bill, and while Bill does as well, it's not going to be on the same level as her. Instead, this lasts years. I honestly felt terrible for Marcia because it's like she knows this is basically a waste of time yet you know she's hoping it'll somehow change him and become more. I'm going to be honest, the ending? I teared up. I just felt so.... sad for her. The great thing about this book is that it doesn't sugar coat or romanticize what this relationship was- it was straight infidelity. Yet what makes this amazing is that you hold hope for the mistress, and you feel wrong about it. You find yourself rooting for Marcia even when she wonders about Bill's wife, even his other lovers, and yet you know there is something about her that Bill needs. Except Bill doesn't appear to ever acknowledge that, or if he does, he doesn't think he deserves it. It was just really interesting. A bit slow in parts, but I didn't have any trouble finishing this one up quickly. 

You can pick this book up at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. You'll love it.