rivka: (Alex at five)
My favorite moment of the Halloween party technically came afterward, when the remaining kids were all running around outside and the remaining parents were relaxing.

Alex and her friend Benji came in and strode over to the bookshelf.

"Let's look in the dictionary," I heard her say. "We'll check in the I's."

"Alex, what are you doing?"

She looked up from the page that she and Benji were studying. Both of their faces were serious and intent. "I say it's invulnerable, but Benji says it's invincible."

...So they looked it up. I love so much that Alex has found friends like herself.
rivka: (books)
Some friends invited us over for dinner tonight, a lovely relaxed end to what has been a very hectic (albeit enjoyable) day. Their youngest son, who I think is around ten and has only spoken a few words to me in passing before, somehow fixated on me and spent much of the evening telling me about the plot of his fantasy trilogy. He is 103 pages into the first book, but he seems to have the full trilogy planned out. It is very complicated. My comprehension was not helped by the fact that he spoke very quietly (either so that Alex would not hear the scary parts or that his brother wouldn't hear the details, I'm not sure which) but at about a hundred words a minute.

He offered to e-mail me his book-so-far. It just arrived.

I am charmed, and a little mystified, and extremely honored that he has given me his manuscript to read.

"Most people who read it say it's the best thing they've ever read," he told me modestly.

I think I love this kid.
rivka: (chalice)
On Monday night we went to a Seder hosted by our friends [livejournal.com profile] unodelman and [livejournal.com profile] lynsaurus. I really enjoyed the evening, and I was surprised at how well the kids held up. (Alex did miss school the next day because of excessive sleepiness, but I consider that a small price to pay.)

We were thrilled to be invited. Two years ago our church held a Seder, and Michael and I have both been disappointed that there hasn't been one at the church since. At the same time, I had some ambivalent feelings about whether we, uh, deserved to be invited. I hasten to say that those feelings have absolutely nothing to do with [livejournal.com profile] lynsaurus and [livejournal.com profile] unodelman and their family members who were present; everyone was incredibly warm and welcoming.

Here's the thing:

I was raised in a mainline Protestant, liberal Christian tradition. I was baptized when I was a toddler. I went to church every week. But I also, when I was a kid, felt a strong sense of connection and affinity for Judaism. At that time in my life, I thought of myself as ethnically "half Jewish." My father was raised in a nonreligious household, but his father was Jewish, the son of immigrant garment workers who lived on the Lower East Side in New York. My father identified as ethnically Jewish. And in Boston in the 1940s and 1950s, other people also identified my father as Jewish.

So I grew up with an interest in Jewish things. I sometimes went to temple with [livejournal.com profile] kcobweb on Friday nights, if I was sleeping over. She tried to teach me a little Hebrew; I can still write my name, but that's about all I ever learned. I read extensively in the children's/YA genre of "heroic Jewish children hide from Nazis." At that time, in the late 70s and early 80s, mainline Protestant churches like mine took a very respectful and interested attitude toward Judaism - not in the skeevy "Jews for Jesus" sense, but in a belief that we had a strong shared heritage and that their history was our history. We sometimes held a Seder at church out of just that sense of shared heritage.

As I grew older, I started to see things in a more complicated light. I realized that by Jewish law, not only was I not "half Jewish," but I wasn't Jewish at all - and neither was my father. Judaism passes through the maternal line. I realized that even if my Jewish ethnic heritage came from my mother's side, my baptism and churchgoing would have made me really not-Jewish. And eventually I came to understand that the idea that Christians and Jews share a substantial common heritage and history, and have significant religious commonalities, is a belief that is much more common and more strongly held among Christians than among Jews. I started to consider my childhood, um, Jewphilia, in the light of cultural appropriation. And I felt awkward.

I'm not a Christian now, but (of course) a Unitarian-Universalist. And UUs have a long tradition of glomming happily onto other people's beliefs and practices and rituals. (Sometimes this is approached thoughtfully and respectfully. Other times, not.) When we found out that there wasn't going to be a Seder at church this year, Michael and I briefly discussed whether it would be okay to have a Seder in our home, for just our family.

We decided that it wouldn't. The thing is, I really like Passover. I love the story and the rituals. I think every religion should have a major holiday focused on oppression and liberation (and wine). But Judaism is not an evangelical, O-hai-let's-share-the-good-news-with-everyone-and-get-them-to-be-like-us religion. Passover is for Jews, not for everyone who thinks Passover is cool. So it was awesome that our friends invited us to share their Seder. It was deeply meaningful to us. But I think that makes us "lucky people who got to share in their tradition," not "people who also have a right to this tradition."
rivka: (panda pile)
[livejournal.com profile] txanne just finished visiting us for a couple of days.

I think that Anne is probably the person I've known the longest without ever actually meeting. Until she got out of [livejournal.com profile] misia's car Wednesday evening, I didn't even know what she looked like. But we've been friends since neither one of us had Ph.D.s, since before Michael and I started dating, since back when I couldn't walk without crutches.

We met in alt.callahans. I don't miss a.c, but I have to concede that I met some awesome people there. Hanging out with Anne reminded me of something I hadn't thought of in years. An extremely tedious and hostile political flamewar had broken out, and she and I (and [livejournal.com profile] saoba, and a few other people, as I recall) decided that we wanted to end it. So we did our level best.

Hey Anne, do you remember what this is before clicking on the link? )

Worked, too. As I recall. (Damn, do I ever feel old and creaky right now.)
rivka: (travel)
We're spending Thanksgiving at Colonial Williamsburg again this year, because last year was so great. This time [livejournal.com profile] bosssio and her family (but alas, not [livejournal.com profile] chargirlgenius and hers) came along.

Lessons we learned: it doesn't matter how tired you are Wednesday night. Pack then, and leave early Thursday morning. We didn't leave until a little after ten, and we had horrible traffic from just after we crossed the Wilson bridge until we were almost in Richmond. Also, we put Colin into the car sleepy, thinking that he'd drop off once we hit the highway, and it didn't really work out that way. It was a looooong drive. We stopped to nurse and stopped for lunch and all told it took five hours to get to Williamsburg.

We're in a different hotel this year, the Quality Suites. It's an older hotel and kind of basic in its decor, but the rooms are awesome. We've got two full rooms - a living room with a fridge, sink, microwave, table and chairs, couch, and armchair, and a bedroom fully separated by a door that shuts. And we are paying the princely sum of $79.99 a night. [livejournal.com profile] bosssio and family are right across the hall.

We got in around three this afternoon, took a dip in the pool, and watched the kids run around being excited about each other until our 5pm Thanksgiving dinner. Once again we went to the Williamsburg Hospitality House. I can see signs of the economic downturn in the lavishness of the buffet - the cold seafood platter, in particular, was much reduced - but we had a fabulous meal all the same. Steamed shrimp, smoked salmon, salads, potatoes au gratin with smoked gouda, roast turkey, prime rib, penne pasta with cheese and bits of bacon (labeled "grown up mac and cheese), fruits, cheeses, breads, pumpkin pie, gingerbread pudding... even Colin made a great meal: canteloupe, provolone cheese, and sweet potatoes, with a nibble of pumpkin pie for dessert.

I could really get used to this thing where holiday meals require no cooking and no cleanup.

Came back to the hotel, settled the kids to watch a movie, got Colin to sleep, chatted. Now I'm waiting for Alex to settle down in the bedroom and be quiet so that I can actually put Colin to bed, and we can invite [livejournal.com profile] bosssio and Andy in to our living room to hang out.

Tomorrow, of course, the historic area. On our short list: the hedge maze at the governor's palace, the dressmaker's, the plantation. Yay.
rivka: (her majesty)
Feeling much better this morning, but really really tired.

It was a fast, violent illness. The active phase lasted about four hours for both me and Michael, leaving us weak, nauseated, and utterly exhausted afterward. During those four hours, I actually wished that I would die - and it seemed plausible that I might. Once the active phase was over, it gradually dawned on me that (a) I wasn't going to die, and (b) that was a good thing.

[livejournal.com profile] acceberskoorb is the most fabulous person in the whole world. She came over with takeout sushi for Alex, fed both kids, played with them, and helped with their bedtimes. Man, we are lucky to have the friends we do.

I am really tired this morning. Colin did an unusual amount of overnight nursing. I'm guessing that I was dehydrated and not making as much milk as usual, so he had to nurse a lot more.
rivka: (Rivka P.I.)
This morning I was scheduled to present my research at the hourlong general staff seminar, in front of the eminent and notable (and scary) Dr. Institute Director, my division director, and about forty other people.

I had strong work to present. I put together a great presentation. I practiced it in front of [livejournal.com profile] wcg and [livejournal.com profile] curiousangel, which was especially helpful because my general staff audience was not going to be composed of psychologists.

Two hours before I was due to go on, I had (a) no childcare, and (b) the beginning stages of a raging cold.

Our nanny was sick. Our backup childcare person wasn't answering her phone. Michael had already taken unscheduled time away from work to take care of the kids just last Friday, and we were both a little unsure where his boss would want to draw the line. Oh: and I had a headache and cough and a swimming head.

I finally got through to a friend on the phone, and she was so awesome that before I could get my groveling request out of my mouth she offered to come over with her two-year-old to care for Colin. Michael came home just in case I had to leave before she got there, and then stayed to drive me to work. I actually got there with enough time to spare that I could look over my presentaton a few times before the seminar. I still felt dangerously light-headed as I loaded my presentation, and I had to have a water bottle on the podium to deal with coughing fits.

And then? Then I utterly rocked my prsentation. I hit it out of the park.

It was very well received. People made a lot of comments and asked cogent questions. There was only a little whispering among the senior staff (usually a chronic problem). People seemed to be genuinely interested, which is so not a given when a behavioral scientist gets up in front of a bunch of virologists and immunologists.

Dr. Institute Director was stuck in traffic and didn't arrive until about 45 minutes in, which was unfortunate. Or maybe fortunate. I would've liked him to hear about my research, but I confess that I did feel safer with him absent.

Afterwards, the adrenaline that got me through the presentation ebbed away and I started to feel very ill indeed. Lydia had no trouble believing that it would be better for all concerned if I just went home. Phew. I felt wrecked.

But man did I ever do a good job at general staff. I am proud. And grateful to my community, without whom it wouldn't have happened.
rivka: (panda pile)
[livejournal.com profile] boxofdelights' 16-year-old daughter, who goes by Nixie in [livejournal.com profile] boxofdelights' LJ and should probably do the same here, has been staying with us since July 28. She wanted to go to science camp this summer and it didn't work out, so instead she's attending Camp Rivka. She goes to work with me to observe a behavioral scientist in her natural habitat. On the days I'm home with the kids, I've arranged various field trips for her: she went to NASA Goddard and the National Wildlife Visitor Center with [livejournal.com profile] wcg, she visited the developmental psychology lab at Johns Hopkins because Colin was in a study there, and she's going to visit a lab that works on developing and testing new HIV tests. Today she has taken the train into DC to visit the Smithsonian.

On top of those things, we've crammed in extra science-related opportunities where we can. She and Michael went to a public lecture at the Space Telescope Science Institute. We all went to the Maryland Science Center. And during a brief flyby visit by my grad school friend David, who is a developmental psychologist, we put Alex through some of the classic Piagetian tasks and demonstrated that she hasn't managed to work out the details of conservation yet.

It will not shock anyone who knows [livejournal.com profile] boxofdelights to hear that Nixie is very, very smart. I'm enjoying her sharp analytical mind, and I'm impressed that in such a short visit I've been able to give her work on my study that calls for thought and judgment. In addition to being smart, she's also charming, poised, and easygoing. She's been great company. The kids adore her. I do worry that she's not having as good a time being here as we are having her here, although she certainly seems to be happy.

In a fun coincidence, she told me her first day here that she hopes to go to Reed. [livejournal.com profile] boxofdelights either didn't tell her or didn't know that I went to Reed myself. I think Nixie is exactly what Reed is looking for, and I've offered to write a recommendation letter telling them so. (I don't think our contact will be long enough to make me a useful recommender to other colleges, but I think that Reed will value an alumna opinion.)

Nixie will be here until Wednesday. After that my normal life should more-or-less resume, and you'll probably see more of me on LJ. In the meantime, I am reading your posts, but not doing much else.
rivka: (panda pile)
Man, I blink, and suddenly it's been a week since I posted to LJ. I'm sorry. I know that in my current state of craziness there are people who worry if I don't post.

The Wild Women gathered again this weekend. This time was mellower - we all met at one person's house in the DC suburbs, went out for Indian food and then ice cream, stayed overnight, and decamped before church the next day. We drank prosecco and beer and wine and ate hummus and pretzels and raw veggies and bagels and hazelnut chocolates. And we talked and talked and talked.

Colin came along, which just shows how awesome my friends are. I knew this group of women would never pressure me to leave an infant, but I did figure that I'd be missing out on gatherings until Colin was old enough to be left with Michael overnight. It turns out that I seem to have been the only one with that expectation. Colin flirted happily with the Wild Women, who passed him around and got drooled on and speculated about whether they were really 100% done having babies.

When I was younger, I was almost exclusively friends with men. (Or, if we go back as far as high school, boys.) I always seemed to fit in better among men, and their ways seemed easier to understand. Honestly, the performance of femininity kind of scared me - I knew I was lousy at it, and I expected other women to judge me and find me wanting. I gradually started to have more female friends when I became involved in fandom and usenet, and in recent years I've been fortunate enough to have lots of great women in my life. But I never imagined that I'd have a group of girlfriends like this. I would've predicted that I would feel awkward, say the wrong thing, not be understood, miss signals, be rejected. Instead, being with the Wild Women feels like coming home.

I am really lucky.
rivka: (travel)
We got back from Montreal Sunday night, dirty and exhausted but reasonably pleased. It was a good trip.

As far as the ostensible reason for our trip, the Society of Behavioral Medicine conference, the thing that will pay for my plane ticket and the hotel room and a fair bit of the food: it went surprisingly well. My talk was well-attended and well-received; there were more questions during the question period than I had time to answer, and some people stayed to ask me questions afterward or even approached me later in the exhibit hall. I think I did a good job writing the talk and delivering it, especially considering the circumstances.

Last year I didn't enjoy the SBM program very much. This year, I managed to make it to several great program items. It seemed like there were more interesting options and better HIV representation. I particularly enjoyed a symposium on novel strategies for accessing populations of ethnic-minority men ("So it turns out, in our part of North Carolina, you reach African-American men through the churches, but Latino men, no. And then we found out about the soccer league!"), and a keynote address on using marketing and mass communications to disseminate valid scientific information.

The only thing that's bugging me about SBM right now is that it seems like every year there is more and more of an "obesity epidemic" focus. I was never interested in that topic era to begin with, but now that I've read so much that debunks dieting and obesity panic, I find it irritating. I'm fine with the program items about increasing activity level and consumption of healthy foods, because I think those things have independent health benefits, but I kind of want to go to the weight loss intervention panels and ask politely what the follow-up data looks like five years out.

I managed to see three-quarters of most of the sessions I attended. They were mostly scheduled to be 90 minutes long, and somewhere around the 70-minute mark Colin would start to wake up or make sounds. I was hypersensitive to every noise he made, because at a professional conference Colin is not part of the community and has no independent right to be there. So at the second coo or gurgle we were out the door. We got nothing but friendly looks, though.

The non-conference portions of the trip were just excellent. [livejournal.com profile] papersky always provides visitors with quality entertainment. One major highlight was a free-flying butterflies exhibit at the botanical gardens. Picture a big plant-filled atrium with thousands and thousands of butterflies swarming about - not just common ones, either, but massive South American specimens. I mean, just walking along you'd find yourself flinching away from the most spectacular butterfly you'd ever seen, trying to keep it from flying right into your face. (Also at the Jardin Botanique, a really neat greenhouse filled with "economic" tropical plants - foods, dyes, etc. I never knew what a black pepper plant looked like. Or the source of the ubiquitous xanthan gum. Alex loved that room.)

The other big highlight was a picnic on an island, on the unexpectedly warm and lovely Saturday. We spread blankets under some pines for the shade and found ourselves in the center of an active flock of red-winged blackbirds. A woodchuck ambled back and forth, sometimes as little as twenty feet away. After a delicious lunch, we went into the Biosphere (not to be confused with the Biodome) - a small museum housed in the frame of a giant geodesic dome. The only great exhibit was a water activity room, but that one was really great, so that was just fine. Plus admission was free for Earth Day. Alex had a wonderful time making rivers and pools and channels and sailing boats and walking across water on pontoons and otherwise getting very damp indeed.

Of course, as is the case any time one visits [livejournal.com profile] papersky, we had excellent food. Highlights for me were a Chinese feast the first night, an incredible dim sum spread on Sunday morning, and - oddly enough - the shish kebob dinners we ordered delivered to our hotel room the night that [livejournal.com profile] papersky and [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel had a dinner party to attend. But really, there was only one meal I thought was just so-so, and that time it was clear that I had ordered the wrong thing.

So that was our trip. I think I'll probably write another post about traveling with both kids later.
rivka: (alex age 3.5)
Alex wanted a pirate party for her birthday.

I thought about planning a fancy birthday party with a two-month-old in the house. Then I thought about being a four-year-old who recently lost her only-child status, and I decided that Alex deserved to have a party in which we pulled out all the stops. My only sanity preserver: I told her she could invite eight friends, not the whole class.

pirate_cake

the party story and lots more pictures )
rivka: (ice cream)
1. [livejournal.com profile] hazelchaz sent Alex a giant box of Big Sistery goodness. Key features of its excitingness:

  • The box was super-huge, big enough to climb in and play. A smaller box inside held the actual goods, but the mindblowing size of the delivery box was very much appreciated.

  • Both boxes were liberally packed with bubble wrap (yay!) and these cellulose (I think) packing peanuts that double as bath toys because they dissolve in water.

  • Books! Including a replacement of a long-lost favorite, Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever, and Alex's first introduction to Calvin and Hobbes, and some chapter books - one suitable to read now and two to grow on. Very much Big Kid material.

  • The book was addressed to Alex care of "CDA," her imaginary workplace. Which shows that [livejournal.com profile] hazelchaz has an unbelievable memory for detail. She was thrilled. Waiting to open it, she speculated, "Maybe my boss is being very very kind to me." The fact that the package was signed inside "from Mama's computer friends" did not diminish her belief that it actually came from her job, which she apparently believes is just real enough for this.


2. Our lovely and charming next-door neighbors celebrated Colin's arrival by going on a shopping spree at Whole Foods for us. They arrived at our door with the perfect baby gift: a big bag of tasty and healthy treats that can almost all be eaten one-handed by someone who is holding a baby with the other hand. Including, if you can believe it, organic cherry-pomegranate Pop Tarts.

Is it condescending of me to be charmed by picturing this hip urban gay male couple picking out a box of organic "mother's milk tea" to add to the bag? "Look, Scott, it has fenugreek to boost her supply."

3. Grocery delivery service. I know it's been around for years and years, but we had never done it before. Then, a couple of weeks ago, we saw a Safeway delivery truck parked down the block and decided to investigate. Dude, it's cheap. I had no idea. The prices are the same as at the store, and the delivery charge ranges from $7-13 depending on how much you spend and when you want them to drop it off. I really like the web interface - you can shop by category/store aisle, or you can type in a list and they'll pull up all the things they have that match items on your list. It saves your old shopping history, so you can easily rebuy the things you've bought before. And you can go back and add things to the list right up until the night before delivery.

We've done a full shopping by delivery service once. They don't have everything the store stocks on its shelves, which is unfortunate but I suppose understandable. I was very pleased with the quality of the produce and meat they picked out for us. (That's always been my sticking point for grocery delivery - wanting to select produce and meat myself.) The delivery driver showed up one minute after the start of our two-hour delivery window.

I can't believe I kept dragging myself to the store when I was nine months pregnant. I just had no idea.

4. I've discovered a fascinating new-to-me TV show, a Canadian production called Survivorman that runs on the Discovery Channel here. This show probably isn't new to anyone else, given that it's had three prior seasons and is now in reruns only, but I find it utterly fascinating. The premise is that the host, Les Stroud, gets dropped off in various remote and mostly inhospitable locations and picked up a week later. Survival in the interim is up to him. Unlike similar shows, he doesn't have a camera crew with him - he films himself. So there isn't a hidden infrastructure and connection to civilization - it's just him and a stack of cameras, on a rock or a barren beach or a raft floating in the ocean or whatever.

He has varying small amounts of gear - in most of the episodes I've seen, they've tried to simulate a particular kind of accident that might've led to him being stranded, and he has appropriate gear that one might retain after that kind of accident. For example, when they dropped him off on a South Seas island, they simulated a scuba diving accident. He had his dive gear, and a wreck of a boat with a few miscellaneous things in it like a tangle of fishing line and a rusty gas can with a little gas mixed with seawater. He always gets a Leatherman-type multitool and a harmonica, but he doesn't usually get matches or a tent or food or fresh water or medical supplies. It's pretty brutal. Which makes it fascinating.

5. Five things make a post, right, but I can only think of four that fit this category. No, wait! My friends Daria and Lo are coming up to Baltimore with their kids for a day of sightseeing next week, and they have promised to come by and do housework for me. My friends are awesome.
rivka: (baby otter)
Making a lasagna for friends who have just had a baby is very thoughtful indeed.

Making a lasagna for friends who have just had a baby, dividing it into one- or two-serving portions, and putting the portions in individual freezer- and microwave-safe containers so that some can be eaten now and some saved for later, and so that no extra dishes will be needed for storing or heating the lasagna? Is so unbelievably thoughtful that it elevates you to a whole new, previously unconsidered, category of thoughtfulness.

(And our friends get extra extra points because the lasagna was also incredibly tasty, one of the top three lasagnas I've ever had. We have good friends)
rivka: (panda pile)
OMG I have the best friends, and husband, in the whole world.

Today is Michael's birthday. I got up with Alex, and he woke up an hour or so later and opened his presents. Then he surprised me by suggesting that I go shower. We usually lounge around a while on Saturday mornings, but today he seemed anxious for us to get about our day. I told him I wanted to rest and drink tea for a while first, because I had had a hard night.

A little bit later, the doorbell rang. I was flummoxed to see [livejournal.com profile] bosssio at the window... trailed by three of the other women from my Wild Women Weekend last September: Brenna, Daria, and Lo. (It didn't surprise me to not see Molly, because she lives in Blacksburg, but apparently she had been planning to be there too, until her work schedule changed. Holy cow.) they had nefarious plans... )
rivka: (alex age 3.5)
Yes, Alex is definitely anxious about the Niblet's birth. Read more... )

Poor kid. I know how she feels - it is weird to know that labor could hit at any time, and that we don't know what will happen next. Honestly, I don't think there's a fix for this other than birth.
rivka: (family)
This afternoon we went to visit some good friends who just had a baby two weeks ago. And... whoa. I had honestly forgotten that they start out so small. I really had. He's not a shrimp of a baby, comparatively - he's up to eight pounds now - but holy cow, he is tiny. Was Alex really ever that small? Is Niblet really going to be that small? I just... I just forgot.

(I was putting away baby clothes the other day and found myself wondering whether the 3-6mo onesies had shrunk in the wash. Because surely he won't be that small after actual months have passed, right? Right? ...Needless to say, they hadn't shrunk.)

It was wonderful to see and hold the baby. I got to snuggle him for a long time while he was sleeping. Alex got to pet him and hold him and help burp him. But it was when Michael took him and soothed him after a feed, cradling and rocking and bouncing and murmuring to him - that's when my overloaded pregnancy hormones hit hard and I got a bit teary. For me, especially now, I think there is very little that's as attractive as a man who is a good father.

After visiting our friends, we had a wonderful late lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant we'd never been to before. Alex proved that it is actually possible to make a meal of plain unseasoned rice noodles in a rice-paper wrapper; Michael and I ate things that had actual flavor. Among other things, we ordered a dish that came as a platter of separate items: the aforementioned rice noodles, crispy seasoned strips of pork, pickled vegetables, plain raw vegetables, lemongrass sauce, and rice paper wrappers. You wrapped your choice of ingredients into a sort of a burrito. It was YUM. I haven't had Vietnamese food in too long.

Then we went to Daedalus Books & Music, a discount bookstore, and spent a fair amount of time and money. After we'd already checked out, I noticed that they had big laminated maps packaged at 3/$10: a U.S. map, a world map, and what turned out to be sort of a lame third map that shows flags of the world on one side and flags of the U.S. on the other. We couldn't resist them.

So this evening I've been collecting pictures of our various family members, and book covers of books we've read that have definite settings (most children's books don't, of course), and pictures of places we've been together like SUUSI and Montreal and Williamsburg, and a few extra pictures like our house and the sphinx (Alex is fascinated for some reason) and the Obama family. I'm going to print them all out as small images and cut them out, and then we'll fasten them to the maps.

Alex has started to show some interest in geography lately, but of course concepts like the vast size of the world and where places are in relation to each other are pretty hard to understand when you're three. I think this will help start to sort it out in her mind. And I like that this is a project we can keep adding on to when the spirit moves us, but it's not something where we would feel bad if it never progressed any further. However far it goes, it will be fun.

Yay!

Jan. 5th, 2009 07:45 pm
rivka: (motherhood)
[livejournal.com profile] bosssio and I submitted a proposal to do a workshop at SUUSI this year. We just got word that it was accepted! It will appear in this year's catalog, and if people sign up for it we will be SUUSI workshop leaders!

Here's what's going to go in the catalog:

214 Parenting in the 21st Century Limit 12
Is it harder to raise children today? Many parents feel expectations are rising while support is eroding. We'll discuss the social/cultural/economic context of parenting and brainstorm ways to support families. Not a how-to-parent class, all are welcome, parent or not. Infants in arms are welcome. [Siobhan's Name] (anthropologist, international development expert) and Rebecca Wald (clinical psychologist) are both working moms of two, and are Conscientous Objectors in the Mommy Wars.
$10.00 TTh Preferred 14+ 2pm

And here's the long-form description which we provided to the SUUSI staff:

Is it harder to raise children today than it was 30 years ago? Many parents feel that expectations are constantly rising while social and economic supports for families are eroding.

Key questions to explore:
* How has family life been affected by changes in the workplace, in the media environment, in social policy?
* Given Americans' increased ability to limit or delay childbearing, or forego it entirely, how do parents and children fit in to our new kids-optional culture?
* What are the influences - overt and covert - that parents and communities need to be aware of in defining family and the choices available (or not) to us?
* To what extent are dominant cultural messages about the dangers and necessities of family life supported by evidence, and how do these messages warp our perceptions of the family environment?

This is not a how-to-parent class, but rather a discussion about family life. In the first session, we'll discuss the social, economic, and cultural context of family life today, sharing the groups personal experiences as well as discussing research available on changes in the American family context. In the second session, we will brainstorm ways that we can be more supportive of families as individuals, as a denomination, and as a culture.

I am SO EXCITED. And I can't think of anyone I'd rather do this with than [livejournal.com profile] bosssio.
rivka: (Christmas hat me)
We put up our Christmas tree today, and made our first Christmas cookies. (Probably our only Christmas cookies, unless I become strangely inspired.) This made for a very busy day, but it was helpful to have something exciting and fun for Alex to do while waiting for the tree branches to descend enough to decorate.

I didn't realize until just before we started baking that she was hoping to make the kind of cookies that you roll out and cut with cookie cutters. They aren't a usual part of my holiday baking repertoire - in fact, I don't think I've made rolled sugar cookies since I was a kid. Fortunately, my mother was home when I called her and had a good recipe. Also fortunately, it turns out that things that seem like complicated baking techniques when you are twelve are not so complicated when you're thirty-five.

We were extremely pleased to have [livejournal.com profile] acceberskoorb and [livejournal.com profile] lynsaurus come over to help decorate the tree and - in an unplanned but fun side effort - the cookies as well. I am always surprised when I stop and consider just how short a time it's been that we've known them, and how rarely we see each other except in passing, because when we do spend time with them they feel like old friends. I don't know why - it's just very, very comfortable to be with them. So yay.

The tree is beautiful. It's a Douglas fir, about 6 feet tall, very full, and beautifully shaped. It was big enough to take all our ornaments, even though it's standing in a corner and no one will be able to see the back. And it smells amazing. Our whole downstairs has a lovely fresh winter smell to it.

Lots of pictures under the cut, including a rare picture in which I love how I look. Read more... )
rivka: (Obama)
I just made last-minute contact with the Obama campaign to verify plans for tomorrow. They're diverting me to a "staging office," because there's no possible way the Harrisburg campaign headquarters can hold all the volunteers who are coming. My campaign contact reassured me that there will be indoor sitting-down work available as well as canvassing. (I can probably walk door-to-door for four hours or so, but not for the 8.5 hours I'm planning to be in Harrisburg.)

Harrisburg is a 90-minute trip from my house. I'm planning to leave around 7:30, arrive there at 9, stay until 5:30, and get home again around 7 or so. Then [livejournal.com profile] acceberskoorb, [livejournal.com profile] lynsaurus, and [livejournal.com profile] unodelman will come by for a while to watch election returns. Hopefully they will still like me after they've seen what I'm like at a high pitch of nerves. Or maybe I'll be so tired after a long day of campaigning that I'll be more bearable?

Things to do tonight: pack up a bunch of high-protein, high-calorie snacks in case it's hard to get food on the run tomorrow. Make brownies and cut up veggies for returns-watching. Get Alex's things ready so I can get her out of bed and straight out the door. Refresh fivethirtyeight.com until my fingers bleed. Fret.

Arranging for someone else to take your kid to school is more complicated in the carseat era. I looked through the nursery school directory for kids in Alex's class who (a) live close enough to walk to school, and (b) don't have parents with high-pressure jobs who need to get to work super-early. I wound up with a family I don't know terribly well - just to exchange a few sentences here and there, not someone Alex has actually had playdates with. I knew they were big Obama supporters, so I went ahead and left them a begging voicemail and got a very nice voicemail reply.

I made contact with the mom in that family this morning at school drop-off. "Bring her by any time! It's no trouble! We're up at the crack of dawn!" I explained that I would send Alex's breakfast along with her. "We've got plenty of breakfast food! Don't worry about it!"

"Thank you so, so much," I said.

"No, thank you," she said sincerely. "Thank you for going to Pennsylvania."

"I have to do something," I told her. "Otherwise the anxiety is going to kill me."

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