Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why Should Business Leaders Care About IP?

Shameless plug alert!

Adam's ARC lecture from November in Chicago is available for free on ARC's web site. Its full title is:

Why Should Business Leaders Care about Intellectual Property?—Ayn Rand's Radical Argument

It looks like they have a separate video for the Q&A, so if you don't have time for the whole thing, you might just check that out. As most people will tell you, Adam is excellent in the Q&A.

This lecture is a modified version of his OCON talk from 2010. This one is geared more towards non-Objectivists, so if you like it and want a fuller version, you'll have the opportunity to purchase the OCON lecture at some point. Don't worry, I'll be sure to let you know when it is available.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

14 Weeks

I was hoping to have a photo of my growing belly for you this week, but I just didn't get around to it. Hopefully I'll remember to have Adam take one tonight.

Remembering. What a challenge! That seems to be my main pregnancy symptom right now - remembering simple things like words or important events. I'll tell you, it's a lot better than nausea or fatigue. I can actually find a lot of humor in it.

My ob visit last week was awesome! I went alone. I wasn't nervous. Well, only a little bit. Since he is a high-risk obstetrician, my doctor has a 4D ultrasound machine that he uses routinely, so I got to see my little Things moving around in three dimensions! They're still pretty small and they were very active, so they mostly just looked lumpy. I couldn't really see their faces, but that's probably a good thing, since they still look more like aliens than humans at this point. Still, it was exciting!

I gained eight pounds in the past month. Finally! I'm not sure how I did it because I don't feel like I'm eating all that much. I still have to force myself to eat. I don't seem to be receiving the hunger signals from my body. Most food is not appetizing until I put it in my mouth, and that's when I finally realize that I was indeed hungry. But I worked really hard at habitualizing eating, and apparently, it's working. I really hope this changes. I miss the wonderful hunger of pregnancy.

Now, I am officially done with the first trimester. The Things are each about the size of my fist, and weigh about an ounce. Sure, they still look a bit alien, but at least the tails are gone, and the ears are now on their heads instead of their necks, and their eyes have moved from the sides of the head towards the front. Good stuff like that. I'm enjoying reading about their development each week. That part never gets old.

Adam and I seem to both be moving towards hoping for a boy and a girl. This might be because we stumbled upon names for a boy and girl. I have no idea what we were talking about, but we were just chatting in the car the other day, and somehow we blurted out these two names. I'm not going to tell you what they are, because we might not end up with a boy/girl set, and because we might change our minds. But still, now that we have these names hovering in our consciousness, it's hard not to hope that it will work out that way.

I'm still catching up from all the time I spent lying in bed, so it's hard to keep blogging. There is a ton of stuff I would love to write about, but I just can't take the time. Right now I have to stop and go take a shower. I'm down to showering every other day, and I missed yesterday, and I only have a half hour before I have to pick up Sam, and I really stink. That's another pregnancy symptom - you get really stinky. Or is it just that my nose is more sensitive? Either way, I've got to go!

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Little Thing

On our way to Red Lobster for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, Adam and I were trying to talk up how great lobster and crab are. (Sam has had crab, but it had been a long time.)

Since she loves butter, I told her that the best part about crab and lobster is that you get to dip them in butter. I said, "It comes with a huge bucket o' butter!" Sam loved that:
Sam: "We're going to get a bucket o' butter! And a clump of crab!"

Me: "Yes! And lots of lobster!"

Sam: "And a mountain of mashed potatoes!"

Me: "And bread - how much bread will we get?"

Sam: "A bathtub of bread!"

See what I mean about her creativity?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Effort Follow Up

I only have a moment, but I wanted to quickly relate what I've learned and figured out about my concerns over Sammy's effort.

First, I think I'm overreacting to just about everything due to the pregnancy hormones.  Second, I know that I am hypersensitive to this issue to begin with because of my own childhood, and my development of an anti-effort mentality. So, after a few days of reflection, the whole issue is much smaller.

Even so, the incident at school is worth thinking about. I spoke briefly to Sam's teacher after she returned, and she assured me that Sam does not do this "all the time." That part of what Miss R. told me was just a miscommunication, and that was the part that had me concerned. Sam does wander, observe, space out, and all of those things, but she doesn't do it excessively. And, just as I suspected, this school does keep a close eye on this behavior to assess whether there is a problem or whether it is just what the child needs to do at the time. Still, as Sam's teacher has noted to me since she started school, Sam's tendency is towards needing a push here and there, whereas some children just leap into the work. That is fine and normal - that is just her temperament. And, as Sam's teacher has been telling me, Sam has blossomed this year and is making independent choices much more often. So I'm 100% happy with how her school is handling this. (But I still want a better way to observe her in the classroom.)

So does Sam have any kind of "problem" in the area of effort, persistence, or independence?  I've returned to my belief, prior to last Friday's incident, that the fact that I'm seeing improvement in her levels of effort is the most important thing.  I've also received some very helpful comments that have made me think about whether I am conflating a lack of persistence or effort with caution, introversion, or other, less problematic character traits. I think I do mix them all together, so that I see the effort issue as larger than it really is.

Also, from the comments, I have some new ideas about how to introduce new activities to Sam, about praise, about motivation, and some other things I can't remember now. I guess I need to compile all of those ideas into my own list because there were obviously too many for me to remember them all. So thank you all for the great comments and advice!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

13 Weeks

Week 13 has been the week of busting out. I'm busting out of my clothes and I'm busting out of my lethargy.

Finally, my fatigue has really started to ease off. I'm still not sleeping well, so I'm still napping most days, but when I'm awake, I have energy. What a relief! I forgot what it is like not to have to drag myself through every daily task, and to actually want to do things other than lie in bed.

As a result, I've started in on a lot of the work that has built up over the past two months. Just in the past week, I've accomplished so much! I pulled out all of my old maternity clothes and reorganized my closet accordingly. I also received three maternity t-shirts for my birthday and a ton of used maternity clothes from a friend, so I might not have to do much shopping for quite a while.  I did have to buy two new bras, though. My wardrobe is about 60% maternity clothes already, and I'm still in my first trimester. I love it!

I also started in on my most exciting project: developing my curriculum for Sam's first homeschool year. (I have decided to hire a mommy's helper for a few hours a day and give it a shot. Thanks for all the helpful comments!) This won't start until June 2012, but I'm so excited about it that I have to start now, and besides, I'm afraid I won't be able to do much once the twins arrive. I already have about 10 pages of notes, and I'm feeling great about the whole thing. I have a pretty clear idea of what I want to do, but there are still a few big gaps: I'm not happy with anything I've seen for science in first grade, I still have to compare four math curriculums,  I need to compile a list of books to use for literature and reading skills, and other things like that.  But I know where to go to figure those things out. There are no big mysteries left. I just have to put it all together, and remember to keep it as flexible as possible within my standards. Of course, I'll write much more about this as I get the plans together.

I think I've found the perfect stroller. It's super expensive, but I think the stroller is going to be the most important piece of equipment I buy for the twins, so it will be worth it. I still have to go test it in person, but if it's as cool as it looks, it's mine!

I'm trying to start tackling the home improvement projects we need to complete before the twins arrive. I've been working on getting new blinds for the past two months and all I've accomplished is to buy the materials for the sliding glass doors. I still need to figure out what to buy for the windows and get it all installed. Then, we have to remodel three bathrooms, create storage space in the attic, set up the nursery, and clean out our "junk room," which is where I'll set up our homeschool. Those things are the absolute minimum we need to get done before September, and it's stressing me out because I'm very slow about these projects.

But before I get too involved in those things, we need to buy a new car. That is even more critical than anything else because we can't fit three kids in our SUV. Well, maybe we could get three car seats in the back seat - I don't know. But I'm not planning to find out. We need a minivan, and I'm not going car shopping with two infants and Sam to take care of. So that is next on the agenda.

I still haven't finished planning our Italy trip, either. We leave in exactly three weeks and I don't even know how to get a cell phone that works internationally yet. I still haven't booked the museums. I haven't thought about what to pack. Ack!

But, at least I'm capable of doing things now, so I'm making progress. Man, that fatigue was so bad! Now you know why I haven't been blogging. And I probably won't get back into a groove with blogging until we get back from Italy. It's kind of low on my priority list right now.

Oh, by the way, both twins passed the screening test! It doesn't mean much - it only rules out a few things, and really, it doesn't even rule them out, it just tells us that the chances are very slim. But it was another good milestone. My next ob appointment is tomorrow, and I'm actually going without Adam, even though I think I'm having an ultrasound. This will be my first solo ultrasound (out of 20 or so) since I found out about my first miscarriage in September 2009. The fact that I'm comfortable enough to do it is a big milestone, too.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I've written before about what I perceive as a persistence problem with Samantha, and the issue is cropping up once again. I don't want to cover all that ground again, but here are two posts that describe my concern.  Rational Jenn just wrote a post about the same type of issue with her son, which is worth reading, and good background for some of the things I'll write about here.

Lately, I've been more comfortable with Sam's level of effort. She tries new things regularly, sometimes with hesitation or caution, but we have far fewer instances of outright refusal to try things that are just a little bit difficult or scary. She is taking dance class, and actually practicing moves that are difficult for her, and she just started swim lessons, which require her to put her face in the water and take other risks. Of course there are times when she just wants to be babied - I don't see those as a problem, but normal for this age. So overall, things are better.

But yesterday I got a shock when I picked up Sam from school. Her teacher is out for a couple of days, so the assistant is alone with the children in the classroom. When Sam ran up to me on the playground (where I pick her up) she sadly told me that she didn't listen to Miss R. that day. Then Miss R. came over and explained that there had been some crying. It took a long time for me to tease out of her exactly what the problem was because she was so concerned that I would flip out because Sam cried. These poor teachers are so defensive - I guess a lot of parents think children should never have their wills thwarted and if they cry it means the teacher was mean. But once I got through to her that I just wanted to know what happened, she told me. Sam had chosen a piece of work first thing in the morning, and then sat in front of it, not working at all, but just watching all of the other children, for an hour and a half! Miss R. prompted her to work or put it away several times, but Sam didn't do anything at all until she realized that she was going to miss circle time and not be ready to go outside to play. Then, she quickly did the work and put the material away, but not before having some kind of a meltdown about how she didn't want to do it. Miss R. noticed that when Sammy finally did the work, she did it correctly, so it wasn't that she didn't know how. She just wasn't choosing to do the work. I asked Miss R. if this happens often and she said yes, it does.

Now, this is playing into all of my fears. First, I have never been sure that Sam is actually working all day at school. When I ask her what she did at school, she usually mentions one or two activities, and they are usually the easy ones that she's been doing over and over since the first day of school. I've been assuming that she just can't remember everything she does. As I mentioned recently, she is making a great deal of progress through the materials recently, so I figured that she must be working. But, since Montessori children don't bring home a lot of work product and you can't really observe them in the classroom (if they know the parent is there, they don't behave normally), you have to rely on what the teacher tells you. And Sam's teacher, Mrs. L., is not a good communicator.

I think Mrs. L. is probably a good teacher. But it's really hard to tell what is going on in the classroom. When we have meetings or talk about Sam's work, I get that same sense of defensiveness from her as I did from the assistant (and which I've gotten from every teacher/caregiver I've ever worked with). Instead of giving me facts, she seems to have an agenda of soothing me. It's frustrating. But I've thought about it a lot and convinced myself that it's a communication issue, not a teaching issue.

But now, if it is true that Sam is sitting and staring into space half the day, I want to know why I haven't been told about this and what is being done to address it. Why did I find out about it only when Mrs. L. was absent? Does that mean that Mrs. L. handles it better or that she doesn't do anything about it at all? It's possible that it is not a regular occurrence, or that Sam doesn't do it any more than any other child - there is a bit of a language barrier with Miss R., so I'm taking her explanation with a grain of salt.  I plan to meet with Mrs. L. to see if I can get a straight answer. That will hopefully solve the concern I have about how the classroom is run.

But if it is true that Sam is still not putting forth effort at school, and if it is not developmentally normal, then I'm back to fearing for her moral development. My problem is that I have no standards by which to judge whether this is "normal" or not. Reading the comments on Jenn's post was somewhat helpful. There seem to be quite a few other parents out there with children with similar behaviors. But it's obviously not true of all children. Jenn herself has two others, and at least one of them definitely does not balk at effort and persistence. I am willing to accept that these are temperamental differences, but I am not willing to accept that they are value-neutral. Effort and persistence are virtues, and if they don't come naturally to Sam, I want to do everything I can to help her see how they will benefit her. So far in her life, this is the critical issue. (Well, there's also her anger issue, but I'll leave that for another day.)

I also want to be prepared for the challenges of homeschooling a child who is difficult to motivate. If I could understand what is going on psychologically with Sam, I could develop better ways of helping to motivate her. My biggest fear with homeschooling is that she simply won't want to do any work at all (and I don't believe in forcing "knowledge" down a child's throat).

Like Jenn, Adam and I have techniques that we use to deal with this aspect of Sam's personality, and I suppose that we should feel pretty good about what we've been doing since she is improving. But again, I see this as such a critical issue that I want to educate myself about it as much as possible.  I am considering asking Sam's pediatrician for a referral to a child psychologist to get an assessment, but I hate to open up that can of worms. I think kids are way over-diagnosed and labeled in every area these days, when most of the time, they are just the unique individuals that they are. At the same time, some diagnoses and assessments are extremely helpful. So I'm torn about that.

I haven't yet looked for any books on this subject. I suppose that is my next step. But first, I'll ask you, my dear readers, if you have any advice.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Little Thing

I'm really glad it's spring, because I can no longer zip up my winter coat.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

12 Weeks

Now, finally, after all this time, I have reached the stage of pregnancy when most people make it public. Twelve weeks! It's also my birthday today. Happy 41 to me!

I had my first trimester screening yesterday, which consists of an ultrasound and a blood test. The ultrasound results were normal, but I'll get the full results by the end of the week. It's not something I'm worried about. But the ultrasound was great. Both babies are totally normal and looking good! We got to see Thing 1 moving around again (Thing 2 must have been napping), and we could see arms and legs and more detail in the skulls. I only had one moment of panicky fear when the ultrasound began, but otherwise, it was a positive experience. I had the test at my infertility clinic and it was nice to see some of my old buddies there, who were full of congratulations and well-wishes. Here are the Things:

[caption id="attachment_4401" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Thing 1"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_4402" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Thing 2"][/caption]

In Thing 2's picture, you can see the head of Thing 1 in the upper-left. That's the first time we were able to see both of them in one image, which was really cool. As Adam says, if they think it's crowded in there now, they have a big surprise coming.

My extreme fatigue continues, and it actually might be a bit worse lately. My goal every day is just to get through it. I'm having a hard time blogging because if I have a spare moment, I almost always spend it in bed, and even when I'm at my computer, I'm in a kind of fog all the time. I still haven't booked our museums in Italy, which has been at the top of my to-do list for at least a month. It doesn't help that we've been traveling and Sam has started swim lessons, both of which have interfered with our naps. I can't seem to cook a meal - we're living on fast food and take-out right now. This morning I really had to get to the supermarket but taking a shower completely wore me out and I had to take a nap at 8:30am before I could leave the house. At the market I bought a ton of pre-prepared food - hopefully that will help me get through this.

My appetite finally kicked in about a week ago. I'm still not eating outrageous amounts of food, but I'm definitely taking in more calories than I need just for myself. I finished my jar of pickles and I don't crave them anymore. Maybe I'll get some fun, crazy cravings later on. For now, the thing I want most is milk. I can't drink enough milk.

I signed up with a program my insurance company offers for pregnancy. If I fill out their surveys and go to the dentist once during pregnancy, I don't have to pay my co-pay at the hospital. They also send me all kinds of pregnancy information, and of course I got a huge package from the ob-gyn, too. I remember reading all of that stuff during my first pregnancy but this time it totally bores me. I'm much more interested in all the information I can find about twins.

My belly is growing, too. I still fit in some of my regular jeans, which surprises me, but I'm down to two pairs, and I still haven't pulled out my old maternity clothes. That is tonight's project, if I can stay awake long enough.

[caption id="attachment_4403" align="aligncenter" width="375" caption="12 Weeks"][/caption]

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Objectivist Round Up

I am pleased to present the March 10, 2011 edition of the Objectivist Round Up.

To get us started, here is one my favorite quotes from Ayn Rand:
It is not in the nature of man—nor of any living entity—to start out by giving up, by spitting in one’s own face and damning existence; that requires a process of corruption, whose rapidity differs from man to man. Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees and lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it. Then all of these vanish in the vast swamp of their elders who tell them persistently that maturity consists of abandoning one’s mind; security, of abandoning one’s values; practicality, of losing self-esteem. Yet a few hold on and move on, knowing that that fire is not to be betrayed, learning how to give it shape, purpose and reality. But whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man’s nature and of life’s potential.

--"Introduction to The Fountainhead," The Objectivist, March, 1968

One way to Hold Your Fire is to immerse yourself in the world of ideas.  And on that note, let's move on to the round up!

Edward Cline presents Somali Piracy: Another Islamic War Front posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, "On February 22nd, four Americans were executed by Somali pirates as a U.S. warship bore down on the yacht they had hijacked. The U.S. government and the military are not saying much about why the pirates killed the Americans, but it just might have something to do with the fact that the two retired couples were on a private missionary voyage around the world to distribute Bibles. But I suspect that if the pirates had instead found cartons of Playboy Magazine on the yacht, the Americans would have suffered the same fate. It would demonstrate the grip Islam has even on criminal Muslims."

Gene Palmisano presents Labor Extortion in a Socialist Democracy posted at The Metaphysical Lunch, saying, "Discard the altruistic hyperbole and the socialist labor rhetoric, then cut to the chase."

Kate Yoak presents Naps are required by law! posted at Parenting is..., saying, "I am dismayed at another instance of the government's reach into the private educational system."

Valery Publius presents Campus Media Response: Wisconsin Protestors: Fighting for the Privilege to Count Themselves as the “Public” posted at The Undercurrent Blog, saying, "When do 'collective rights' begin to usurp the rights of individuals?"

Alex Hrin presents Campus Media Response: Solar Energy: A Path to Prosperity? posted at The Undercurrent Blog, saying, "Would 'green' energy truly need such massive government subsidies if it could stand on its own as a viable energy source?"

Michael Labeit presents The Enviable Brilliance of the Swiss posted at Michael Labeit at

Rational Jenn presents Seven Things I Refuse to Feel Guilty About As a Parent posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "Here's to not accepting unearned guilt and feeling good about parenting decisions!"

Jared Rhoads presents Health Wonk Review: 3rd time hosting posted at The Lucidicus Project, saying, "Last week, we hosted the Health Wonk Review, which is a bi-weekly compendium of healthcare-related articles and entries from around the blogosphere. See what was submitted."

Rachel Miner presents Warm, zesty, yum! posted at The Playful Spirit, saying, "A fun activity that I shared with my mom... making homemade, crystalized ginger!"

The Undercurrent Editors present Introducing This Issue posted at The Undercurrent, saying, "The February edition of The Undercurrent is out now! Check it out today."

Edward Cline presents Mosques vs. Churches vs. Freedom posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, "The literature that recounts the evils of the political/theological ideology of Islam is vast, growing, and informative. Unfortunately much of it is wrongly premised and written by individuals of a religious bent who have yet to check their premises. They really have no reason to cast the first stone at Islam, when the stones thrown at them share a striking similarity to the stones they hurl back."

Kelly Elmore presents Things I Won't Feel Guilty About posted at Reepicheep's Coracle, saying, "I love this meme! Objectivist parents should be making selfish decisions about their parenting and not feeling guilty about those decisions. But in our culture of parental sacrifice and maternal guilt, especially, that can be hard. Here's the list of things I will not feel guilty about."

Ari Armstrong presents Guarantee to Unions the Same Rights the Rest of Us Have posted at Free Colorado, saying, "People have the right to associate freely, but no right to force their conditions on others."

Joshua John M. Lipana presents Capitalism Magazine - Senator Rand Paul’s Morality and the Welfare State posted at Capitalism Magazine, saying, "Sen. Paul is championing economic freedom while at the same time championing the morality that prevents it from existing."

Scott Connery presents Have You Abandoned Faith but Kept Christian Morality? posted at Rational Public Radio, saying, "Many atheists abandon their faith, but don't follow that decision through to it's logical conclusion. Many of them hold onto the morality of Altruism after the faith that it depended on is removed."

David C Lewis, RFA presents Induction In Life Insurance posted at A Revolution In Financial Planning, saying, "What is your date of death? Nobody knows, but life insurance companies can still predict your death--expressed as a probability--with amazing accuracy. I discuss how life insurance companies predict mortality and what I think the industry must have done to attain their amazing accuracy of predicting death rates."

Paul Hsieh presents Socialized Medicine in Theory and Practice posted at We Stand FIRM, saying, "My latest OpEd appeared in Liberty Ink Journal, on the difference between the theory vs. practice of socialized medicine."

Diana Hsieh presents SnowCon 2011: The Webcast! posted at NoodleFood, saying, "Most of the lectures and workshops of this weekend's Objectivist conference in Denver -- SnowCon -- will be broadcast live! Come join us ... virtually!"

Julia Campbell presents cajun stew posted at the crankin' kitchen!, saying, "A super yummy cajun stew in honor of Mardi Gras!"

Jared Rhoads presents Twead #8: Revolt! posted at The Lucidicus Project, saying, "Here we share notes and quotes from Dick Morris's new book, Revolt! Yes, this is the one that recently caused a stir on Peter Schiff's radio show."

Roderick Fitts presents Reduction of “the Initiation of Physical Force is Evil” posted at Inductive Quest, saying, "My reduction of the Objectivist principle that 'the initiation of physical force is evil.' Bullies and dictators beware!"

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Objectivist Round Up using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

11 Weeks



I'm eleven weeks pregnant today. Nothing scary has happened for so long that this is starting to feel normal. I think I'm even taking it for granted a bit - that I'm pregnant and we're having two babies. But I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing. It just means that success is becoming normal again. That's the way it should be.

I forgot to mention last week that I finally stopped the meds. Since we were going on that weekend trip to Williamsburg, Adam and I decided to end the progesterone injections and the estrogen pills that Friday. My nurse at the infertility clinic told me to expect some light spotting, which I dreaded, but it never happened. I also didn't notice any immediate change in my pregnancy symptoms. What is strange, though, is that as soon as we stopped the twice-a-day, pain-in-the-literal-ass injections, I completely forgot about them. I didn't revel in the fact that we no longer had to do them - the whole thing just disappeared from my mind. A couple of days ago I threw out all of the old meds and needles and that had more of an impact on me than the actual stopping. It was such a relief to have my bathroom counter back and to throw that stuff away, thinking that I'll never need it again.

I keep thinking that my fatigue is easing up a bit, but then I keep being wrong. I guess what is happening is that I'm having a good day here and there, so that's progress. I still spend more than twelve hours a day in bed, though. I'm glad American Idol and Survivor have started up again so I can break up my reading with a different lazy activity.

I'm starting on my quest to understand what I'm going to need to do to prepare for the twins. I've signed up for a newsletter and I found an on-line magazine. I plan to join my local chapter of Mothers of Multiples, but I have to wait until twelve weeks for that. That group is holding a big consignment sale a week from Saturday. I want to go, but I still have no idea what I'll need. I might just go to browse and mingle.

I did buy two maternity t-shirts. I haven't even broken out my old maternity clothes yet, but I really wanted to buy something new, and it felt great. I don't want to wear anything else but my two t-shirts. Why do I love maternity clothes so much?

I've been thinking more about what to do about Sammy's schooling. My original plan was to homeschool her after Montessori primary, which would begin in June 2012. But when I found out we were having twins who will be nine months old at that time, I realized that I was in some deep doo doo.

My first instinct was to keep her in Montessori for first through third grades. That's not a bad option, but it is expensive, and I was really looking forward to starting homeschooling, so it's a bit of a let down. Now, I'm thinking that maybe I shouldn't rule out homeschooling right away after all. If we don't accomplish all that much the first year, it wouldn't be the end of the world. I don't feel any kind of time-pressure to complete Sam's schooling. In fact, I've always imagined that we're going to run out of pre-college material long before she is 18, and that she'll be taking classes at a community college and/or doing other things in those teenage years. So that's not the big issue. The big issues are that I don't want her to be bored and I don't want her to be isolated. I've always planned on doing actual school at home for just a few hours a day and then doing a lot of activities (academic or otherwise) with other kids after that. Will I be able to get her out of the house when I have two toddlers to schlep around with us? And I don't want her mind to stagnate. I don't think it will hurt her to get a half-year or even a year behind where she might have been in regular school, but I do think it will hurt her if she is not challenged for a long period of time.

A couple of people have gently suggested public school to me, but that is not on the table. In regard to my children's education, I follow the doctor's principle: "First, do no harm." Considering the state of our educational system, I think that maxim applies here even more than in medicine. I mean, if I had to work, or if something else made it impossible to do anything except send her to public school, I'd do it, but it would be my last resort.

So, that part is not really a report on my pregnancy, but that's the kind of thing my pregnancy is making me think about. I've actually been quite stressed for the past week or so. I can't sleep at night, and my mystery pain has not-so-mysteriously returned a little bit. I notice that I constantly have my hands and feet clenched, and I have to consciously relax them throughout the day. Adam and I had to make a major life-decision last week. He was offered a job in Williamsburg, Virginia, and we seriously considered moving. In the end, we decided to stay here, but it was a close call, and the whole process was intense. That kicked my stress into high gear, and I'm having to work really hard to get out of the cycle, since there are so many other new things to think about lately, and I have so little energy to address them.

But I do notice that I am much more self-aware about stress than I was even a year ago. This level of stress is what I used to live with all the time. Now, I have skills to fight it, and I'm using them, and they are working. That's a good thing, because my whole life is only going to get more intense, more chaotic, and more busy from now on. And damn if I don't see that as a challenge and an opportunity, instead of a burden that comes along with my values. This is what life is all about. This is the way it should be. This is normal.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Sam Update - Four and a Half Years

Every little thing she does is magic.  That has been the theme song of my past half-year with Samantha.

I visited a friend a couple of weeks ago who has a two-month-old baby - her first.  Of course, we talked about all the usual suspects - breastfeeding, getting out of the house, the difference between gas and a giggle, etc.  I found myself saying things like, "Oh, yeah, I had forgotten about that!" and "Don't worry, she'll grow out of that soon."  But when the baby made some gurgling noises and my friend said, "You're so cute!  Everything you do is the cutest thing ever!"  I said, "That part never changes."

It's almost unbearable - how much I love Sam right now.  I spend a lot of time just looking at her.  I'm finding her to be more and more beautiful as she grows older.  I wonder, is that because she really is beautiful, or because  she looks like me, or because she looks like Adam, or just because she's my daughter and I've raised her since she was born?  I suppose, as another friend wisely told me, it's all of the above.

When Adam puts Sam down for bed at night, sometimes she'll run back out of her room to turn off the hall light, and she'll come into my room (I lie in bed every chance I get right now) to sneak in one last goodnight.  For some reason, this is when I see her the most objectively.  I'm wrapped up in a TV show or a book and suddenly there is this adorable little person in my doorway blowing me a kiss.  Oh my god - is that really her?  Is she really that tall, her hair that long, her voice that sweet, her manner that grown up?  Then she runs back to her room - because she seems to have forgotten how to walk - and I hear her tiny voice through the wall, talking and singing with Adam.  I feel it so strongly at those moments that I have to say it out loud: "God, I love that girl."

The past six months have been a period of extraordinary growth for Sam. First, she turned an important corner in school.  Last year, she fell into the role of "the baby" of the classroom.  She allowed the older girls to treat her like a baby (she was the smallest), and she did not act independently.  At home, she showed a great deal of independence, taking care of herself and her needs to a great degree, choosing her own clothes and activities, and playing by herself a great deal.  But at school, she would not choose a piece of work without first asking the teacher if it was okay.  She would not have her snack without asking.  She didn't show interest in learning new things and needed someone to guide her through her day.  Sometime early this school year, that all changed.  She is finally acting like a Montessori kid at school.  She still gravitates towards work that she knows and can do well (this is the personality trait of hers that concerns me so much), but she is making her own choices.  She tells me that she actually skips her snack most days because she would rather "choose another piece of work."

Academically (if you can call anything done at this age academic), Sam has been struggling with her fine motor skills.  It's something of a problem because she hasn't been able to write her letters or numbers well, and a lot of the school work she is ready for in every other way requires writing.  We've been working on it a bit at home, and I know her teacher nudges her to focus on those skills.  (I like a Montessori teacher who nudges instead of leaving it wholly up to the child.)  Just in the past month or so, I've seen a huge leap in her writing abilities.  Her drawings of faces have become, not only more realistic and "organized" (which I take as a sign of her learning to organize her visual perceptions into something akin to visual concepts), but more precise and neat (which is more about controlling the pen).  I think she was a bit slow on both the organization of input and control of output, but both seem to be improving together.  As I mentioned recently, she can finally write her name somewhat legibly.  And now, she seems to be quickly learning how to write more and more letters and numbers.  A few days ago, she was able to write this note in a birthday card.  ("Too Natalee From asee Sammee" - asee was her first mixed up attempt at her name.)   I guided her hand for the letters "r" and "N" and I helped her sound out "Natalee" but she did the rest by herself:

Sam has gone through a long and intense numbers phase recently, and moved quickly from the early Montessori numbers work up to the stamp game, which involves writing the numerals.  I'm not sure if the teachers are helping her with the writing part, but she is doing the stamp game regularly.  At home, it shows.  We've always played games like counting the M&M's of each color and then adding them to find out how many M&M's there are altogether.  She was hit or miss with this six months ago, but now she seems to really get the concept.  She even did a little subtraction a few days ago when one of her butterflies died.  She said, "There were five butterflies and then one died, so now there are only four.  And when the other four die, there will be zero butterflies.  That means none."  Wow!

Intellectually, Sammy has entered some kind of creative period.  She is taking ideas and rearranging them now.  She can actually make up original stories, which is new.  She's always been big on role-playing with her dolls.  She has had them talking to each other and going to the playground and going to sleep and acting out all kinds of situations since she was two.  But all of the dialog and the actions had always come straight from her real life, or sometimes from a TV show or movie.  And she has never, ever, told a story to me beyond, "Once upon a time, Little Bear went to the water park and went swimming. The end."  And she would only tell that story because I had just told it to her, but with more detail.  Basically, she could sum up.  Now, she tells me about movies - but they are movies that she has made up in her head.  "Mommy, you know what?  There is this movie about a prince.  And he goes into the ice and slips and falls.  And there is a dragon who comes to save him.  And the dragon takes him to the princess and they make cookies and get married and live happily ever after."  At first I thought she saw a movie at a friend's house that I missed, but she's told me about a few other movies, and some of them are obviously too kooky to be real.  It's not much of a story, I know, but it's the first time she has done this.

Her creativity shows in other ways.  She has made a few real jokes.  I wish I could have captured them, but I lost them in the disorganized mess that is my mind right now.  She loves to make up silly rhymes, and some of them are quite clever.  I enjoy this a lot, because Adam and I are big on making up songs, and now all three of us can do it together.  Even her roughhousing time with her dad is different now.  The two of them do a lot of wrestling and tickling and physical goofing around.  Adam plays the Big Bad Wolf and eats up Sammy's belly button, or gobbles up her back saying, "I want my baby back baby back baby back ribs.  NEEDS MORE SAUCE."  You know, all that stuff that dads do.  The other night, Adam was crawling into the room in a scary way to get Sam and I yelled out, "Look out - the zombie is coming to get you!"  After he attacked her and was munching on her belly, she cried out, "Daddy stop!  Zombies don't eat Sammies!"  In the past, she might have mimicked something like that, but she didn't have the creativity to make it up.  Now she does stuff like that all the time.

Unfortunately, Sam is less and less cuddly.  I'm always touching her and she has to tell me to knock it off.  She rarely likes to be in a helpless position, like lying on my chest.  She'd rather sit next to me than on my lap.  But, she makes up for this by giving me unprompted hugs and kisses and telling me that she loves me.  She also says things like, "You are a very, very very, very nice mommy"  and "I really, really, really like you, Mommy."  She genuinely thanks me when I do something she appreciates.  Her affection is real, and the older she gets, the more that means to me.  Maybe she even thinks that every little thing I do is magic, too.

A Little Thing

I often use Faber and Mazlish's parenting trick of giving Sammy her wishes in fantasy. (Here's a great video describing the technique.)   Today, I used it a bit differently.  Sammy banged her shin and she handled it herself, holding it and taking deep breaths and saying "ow ow ow," but not screaming or whining or asking me to kiss it.  I felt so proud of her for taking care of herself, and yet I cringed to see her in pain.  I said, "Sammy, whenever I see you get hurt, I wish I could just clap my hands and make the pain go away."  As I said it, I slapped my hands together quite violently.  Sammy said, "Yeah, but you can't do that, because that would make it hurt worse."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Little Thing

Adam:  Are you feeling angry, Sammy?

Sammy [in an angry voice]:  I'm NOT angry.  I'm just a little bit angry.  And if I keep talking to you, I might get MORE angry.  And then I'm going to go to my room and think about what you did to me!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

10 Weeks

I am so busy right now that this might be my only post this week.  And today isn't really 10 weeks - it's 9 weeks and 6 days - but Sam is napping and I finished the other absolutely critical things that had to get done today, so now is the time to blog.

Anyway, I'm 10 weeks along now.  Close enough, anyway.  Still no nausea, but I have had more episodes of feeling unbearably cold.  My bloodwork shows normal red cell counts, so I'm not anemic.  I suppose it's just my own, personal, pregnancy symptom.  It isn't such a bad one, as these things go, but we spent the weekend in Williamsburg and our hotel's heater wasn't working well and it was awful.

I forgot to report on all of the things I learned at my OB visit last week.  The best thing was that we got to see one of the Things move!  It did a half-flip right there in front of us during the ultrasound!  It was awesome.  The doc says it's not totally clear which one is Thing One and which one Thing Two anymore, so I don't know which one it was that we saw move.

Despite a visible belly and my previous history of gaining a pound a week in early pregnancy, I still have not gained any weight.  This is not a concern, and I'm actually quite happy about it.  But I've heard that gaining 100 pounds is not unusual.  That scares the crap out of me.

I had feared that I was going to have to go in for routine prenatal exams more often than every month in the beginning, but luckily, that is not necessary.  What will happen is that, around 20 weeks, they'll start testing me (I think weekly) for fetal fibronectin.  This is a substance that is almost always present before a woman goes into labor, so a negative result is valuable as a way to rule out the likelihood of me going into preterm labor in the next week.  A positive test doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to go into labor, but if other symptoms are present, we'd take precautionary measures such as bedrest and steroid injections to help the babies' lungs develop more quickly.  The situation from about 20 weeks on is going to be very fluid.  I have to be prepared for bedrest, and possibly even hospital stays.  I already knew this, so it's no surprise.  But I am disappointed that I might not be able to go to OCON in July, when I'll be about 27 weeks along.  Adam is giving a course so he's going for sure, and we'll plan for me to go, but we're going to have to be flexible.

I'm having a first trimester screening test in two weeks - it's a standard test to screen for Down's Syndrome and some other common problems.  The OB actually tried to talk me out of it because the risk is so low with 29-year-old eggs, but I don't see any downside in doing the test.  The false positives have been greatly reduced (and the test is done earlier) since I was pregnant with Sam.  I'm going to take advantage of modern medicine!

My parents have booked the RV park nearby for the month of September, so hopefully they'll be here for the birth.  Now I have to check with Grandma Mossoff about coming in October.  I need coverage, people!  Come visit and help me out!

My appetite has increased a bit since last week.  Our trip to Williamsburg was a work thing for Adam and we were being hosted by some people - they took us out to dinner and hosted a brunch and all that kind of stuff.  The first dinner was at a rec center where the kids got to play on moon bounces, and dinner was pizza.  I was starving, but pizza was not going to cut it for me.  I ate two pieces but didn't bother eating more.  I needed real food.  The best I could do was a chicken sandwich from a fast food joint afterwards.  And for the brunch, we were served bagels and pastries and other breads.  I had eaten a light breakfast beforehand just in case, but all that bread was just useless for my body.  Again, I had to go out and get a hamburger right afterwards.  It's true that I never do well with carby foods, but now it's even more intense.  There's just no point at all in putting those empty calories in my body.

So that's all that's going on this week.  Oh, I almost forgot.  I finally took a photo for you.  This was taken at 9 weeks and 1 day.  It's hard to tell because I'm so fat (3 goddamn pounds for each of the 4 lost pregnancies!) but I hope you can tell that that is a pregnant belly.  I'm not THAT fat.  It started as a hard bump way down low, but it's already moved up so that I have a smooth, even curve from ribs to pelvis, which is very strange.  Usually it remains lower and "bumpier" for longer.  And I swear, it's been 5 days since this photo and I'm way bigger than this now.  I'm going to get crazy-huge.  I can't wait!