Spring has sprung

It is a beautiful day. Although it is a workout day, I am still going to sneak some time away from my desk and get a walk in. The sun is shinning and I can’t help but want to be outside. However, a few of the trees here have been tricked by the warm weather and have started to bud. One even has released 3 green leaves! Yikes. Global climate change indeed!

A quick update on Dr. Jay and the crohn’s hell. He has an appointment next Friday for Mass General Hospital. He is finally moving from an IBS (irritable bowl syndrome) specialist to someone who works more closely with crohn’s patients. He is not responding the to drugs as expected, so we hope that there is something the specialist can do at MGH, that his normal specialist can’t. His normal doc has suggested a drug that is IV, once a month. That freaks both of us out.

The cold I have is kicking my ass. I am so tired. Then last night, Luna got up three times. The third time, I took her, my pillow and our stuffed animals to the guest room/office and fell asleep on the futon. Did you know that a 2 year old can take up an entire full sized futon? Amazing, but true! And I had a dream about the Red Sox. You know there is something wrong when I dream about the Red Sox.

My vanity project slowed down due to my cold. I hope to stain it tonight if the girls help (by not driving me insane). Wish me luck.

And finally, I had my annual review yesterday. To my surprise, it took all of 10 minutes and my boss is very happy with me and is still okay with my 4 day schedule. This is my 10th year of working here and so far, this was the easiest review I have ever done.

I have another post brewing in my head…about the bloggers I wish I could meet in person…But not today!

Why won’t they play nicely?

I am at a meeting at MIT today. I can log onto one network, but not the Apple Airport that is sitting in the damn room!

I suspect it is because it is not a broadcast network. If it did broadcast, I would find it, but this is a silent unit that you have to seek out.

Apple and Windows just do not play nicely. I am hoping to find a reason for Jay to purchase another Apple MacBook pro for work. That would be very nice. Very very nice indeed.

I think we are all getting sick in the space house. Soleil has a runny nose, Luna refused lunch at daycare yesterday and instead asked for a nap. I am slightly dizzy today. I might take tomorrow as a sick day. I could use the sleep.

Gentle Discipline or why we don’t hit our children

I was recently reading a post on Stay at Home Motherdom which really bothered me. It was a good post, but one comment  bothered me. Go ahead, take a peak and come back. Here is the comment that really bothered me.

I am so grieved for those who misinterpret "spanking" as corporal
punishment because there is a HUGE difference. HUGE. Many of America’s
problems today stem from "the Dr. Spock" generation of un-biblical
discipline. For a more balanced view, may I suggest "Shepherding your
child’s heart" by Tedd Tripp. There is a time to spank and a time not
to. There is also a huge difference in spanking properly and spanking
in anger (unproper and unbiblical). There is a huge difference in
spanking and "hitting". If we claim to be Christian parents, we can not
pick and choose which parts of the bible we believe. We either believe
it all or none.

As most Americans raised in the 70s and 80s, I was spanked. Most adults my age were to varying degrees. While I believe there is a large difference between child abuse and spanking, I am not so naive to assume that spanking is neither hitting nor corporal punishment. The wikipedia defines corporal punishment  as "… the deliberate infliction of pain intended to correct behavior or to punish. Historically speaking, most punishments, whether in judicial, domestic, or educational settings, were corporal in basis." (so this commenter is wrong, IMHO about misinterpreting spanking as corporal punishment) (and don’t get me started on the cheeseburger issue. If you eat cheeseburgers, and G-d forbid, BACON cheeseburgers, then you are so picking and choosing which parts of the bible to believe)

That’s what I also define corporal punishment as. I disagree with using it. Ever.  When I look back at my personal experiences, I often forget the transgressions, but I remember the fear, humiliation and the pain. I have made the decision NOT to use corporal punishment in our house.

While trying to conceive, I ran into the Midlife Traveler. She was bright, funny and a great on-line friend. She moved to Boston while we were both pregnant. Her daughter is exactly one week older than Soleil. She introduced me to a web forum, Mothering dot com. The over granola people turned me off, but the moderate people attracted me. I was not going to be an "attachment parent" who would shun plastics and feed organics to my co-sleeping, breastfed child. But I did enjoy the discussions on discipline. (and for the record, Midlife Traveler and I don’t always agree on our parenting techniques, but we do agree to respect each other’s choices.)

The phrase used there is "Gentle Discipline". I have stolen this phrase and use it myself to describe how we raise our children. We discuss things. Even at 6 months old, we could start gentle discipline. It was easy at first. Distraction. Start with distracting the child from a dangerous situation. As Soleil grew older, we worked out consequences. We use both logical and natural consequences.(This is an okay link to describe the differences..sorry I don’t have a better one).

When Soleil took a marker down the hall and into the bathroom, coloring the wall, the tile and the tub, I had her help me clean it. When she stepped on a game after I asked her not to and it broke, we threw the game away as she cried. But she understood that it was her own fault that it broke. We try to use natural consequences for most things, but in obvious cases, logical consequences are needed. When hitting one’s sister is involved, we can’t allow the other child to turn around in hit them back (although I had secretly rooted for Soleil to smack Luna back a few times). Instead, we tend to the hurt child and ignore the child that hit. Then we explain (again) that hitting is not tolerated in our house.

We use "quiet time" in our house as well. Sometimes, life gets too much. We recognize this in babies and say "oh, he’s overstimulated", but fail to note that over stimulation never goes away. We just learn how to cope with it. One of the coping mechanisms we have taught is to take quiet time. Each child is allowed to declare quiet time and they can shut themselves up in their room. We also will suggest quiet time if things get too crazy. I don’t quite consider it a time out because it is not enforced and not timed. It is time for the child to be in a calm, comforting location to reset and get ready to come back to the chaos.

I have been known to use timeouts as well. These usually involved holding Luna in a bear hug to prevent her from hitting someone. These are short, but not desired. We do a LOT of toy time outs. If a toy causes a fight or is part of a rule being broken, it goes in time out for 10 minutes or a day.. This falls under a logical consequence.

All of these techniques involve correction. Ways to slow down and think about what is going on. NONE of them involve pain. Sure, there are days when a slap or smack comes to mind, but I don’t do it. I get those urges, after all, the kids do drive us nuts. But I don’t act on them. I ask myself "How will this help the situation?" And in truth, the answer is always "It won’t" Because I would hurt my child. and then I would hurt. It would not teach them what is acceptable and what isn’t. It would teach them "it’s okay to hurt another person when they don’t do as you tell them". Or "mommy is bigger and can hit me" Or "I am scared mommy will hurt me"

My kids are not afraid of me. I never want them to be afraid of me. But almost every person I have met who was spanked as a child describes fear as an emotion associated with the discipline they received.

I know there are studies* that show corporal punishment can lead to adult violence. In an academic setting, that’s a good argument against. But in a parental setting, the best argument against this is "I don’t want to deliberately cause my child physical pain. There are other ways to teach them and pain is not one I want to use".

Another thing that I think of is the elderly. We hear horrible cases of elder abuse. I know of few people who would say "Grandma just needs a quick smack on the butt and she’ll stop eating cookies at night". But children are not held in the same respect as the elderly. Some of our elder citizens have the mental capacity of children, but we don’t hit them to teach them. We treat them with respect and guidance. Sure, they are past the time of learning for life. But doesn’t every person deserve respect for their body and self?

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do want to layout what we do and WHY.

and if there is a parent out there who can explain why you MUST spank your child to be a Christian parent, please please email me or comment. I just don’t get that logic.

*An excellent website that describes both points of view can be found here.  Some of the studies are included here. Gotta love those Canucks!

Of Merlot and Polyurethane

A few updates first: Mom is home. I tried to call today, but they were doing her discharge paperwork. This is good news. Apparently the hardest thing has been her arm (what you say?) Yes, when they did a blood gas test on her, the phlebologist accidentally went all of the way through the blood vessel. She has blood leaking out of the other side, but it should heal in a week or two.

Soleil is a nutcase, but she’s MY nut case. We discovered that one of the playgrounds we had frequented, but stopped due to the wood decaying, had been replaced. The new playground has a "rock outcropping" complete with fossils. Soleil discovered the trilobite fossils and immediately told everyone she could find. I had one mother roll her eyes and then snark at no-one in general, "I’ve never heard of a four year old who knows trilobites" I looked right at her and said, "yeah, she discovered them at the NE aquarium during the jellies display. They listed some of the animals that were living and became extinct during the time that the jellies have been around. The woman shut up. I swear, what, do I flash card the girl? NO!

I enjoyed a nice glass of merlot tonight as I was polyurethane some doors. Yes, I am back at it. I am terribly envious of people like Mrs. Figby and Chicagomom, who can do retail therapy AND look good doing it. Me? I need to change something in my house. And I have to do it myself. Screw contractors, I have to do it. Jay threatened me this morning with writing "It’s my wife’s fault" in the saw dust on his hood this morning.

Our house was build c1960. The main bath has the original vanity. Flat doors, boring handles, etc. We replaced the handles early on, removed the wallpaper (that had foil!! FOIL PEOPLE!) and replaced the death star globes with mini pendants. But, the vanity… I couldn’t take it any more. I took off a door and SANDED it. The stain that was half worn off came off with ease. I restained it, cherry and polyurethaned it. Jay said,"Why not do the whole thing?" So I took the other 3 doors off. Tonight I polyurethaned them. I had sanded the doors last night and stained them also.

During the girls’ TV time, I started sanding down the main of the vanity. I had quite of a bit of work to do, and I had to stop when I needed an extension cord. I’ll finish the sanding tomorrow and then stain once the girls are asleep. Then I might actually finish this by the weekend. It was not my plan, but hey, what can I say other than I need a new hobby…

I need more merlot to deal with the girls. We spent yesterday dealing with the defiance factor and today was much better, but I still give SAHM tons of credit. I would have hung myself years ago if I didn’t work.

Shh…I’m hiding

I am in my bedroom, hiding. The girls have been INSANE today, and yesterday and Thursday. I swear as G-d is my witness that this children are fucking insane.

Soleil lost it when we went for a walk because we weren’t allowing her grandparents to go see her best friend’s new house. WTF??? WTF???
Luna started screaming for no apparent reason. Lasted 10 minutes… Shit they found me….
back after I ass wipe someone…

The day started innocent enough. We had a night out, got the last two tickets to Casino Royale, VERY Good movie. Best Bond I have ever seen. Then to dinner.
I had a massage scheduled for this morning. I decided on a whim to get my hair cut. It came out the right length, but the woman dried all of the curls out. I look like Hillary. I can also see the multitude og grey hairs that normally hide. By 40, I may start to consider coloring my hair. That is vain… I know.
But the massage was heaven. 1 hour and 15 minutes of pure, heavenly bliss. The woman put on some wind instrument with birds and a flowing stream in the background. Then she proceeded to put my body into a wonder state of pure relaxation.

Then I came home… and hell started to reign on earth. The screams! The looks! The horror that Mommy gave someone a sippy instead of a regular cup. I ask someone to use potty so we don’t have to use the composting potties at the National Park service (the girls are scared of them). NO NO NO, I would rather have my bladder burst and urine soak my internal organs before I use a bathroom when you ask, Mommy…

The walk got about 20 yards before I had two girls asking me to carry them. Grandma was treated like chopped liver. I felt terrible for her and terrible for the girls. After much discussion, and my heart breaking as a saw a dad smack his daughter (about 3 or 4) for walking towards the river twice, I kept my calm and decided to return to the car. We did. Slowly, loudly, screaming bloody murder, but we did. I actually had one older gentleman give me a thumbs up when I said something very calmly to Soleil. I forget what I said, but I was seething inside and to have someone else just confirm that I was doing the right thing helped.

Luna was asleep in the car in 5 minutes, graham cracker still at her lips.
Soleil and I had a long talk at home about her behavior.

I need a drink. A stiff one.

On another note, mom is in a regular room now. She has multiple blood clots in her lungs. She’s on heprin and cumadin. She will be hospitalized for several days, but is being encouraged to move around as they are confident that the clots are only in her lungs and should stay there until dissolved.

Luna is screaming and forgetting to breathe. I better go deal….


Dad just called. Mom’s in ICU.

She and Dad fell a few weeks ago on a makeshift staircase. She bruised her leg and foot badly. This was about 2 weeks before they came to watch the kids.
Last night, they were heading up to their NC home. They stopped to visit a friend, who is a PT. Mom was having pain in her leg and having trouble breathing.
Our friend immediately told mom that it sounded like a blood clot in the lung.

Mom and Dad decided to go to the ER instead of home. She has two large blood clots, one in each lung. She’s on heprin and heavily monitored.

Today, I am thankful that the daughter of mom’s college friend could diagnose mom so that the clots were identified.

Any good thoughts for mom would be appreciated.

Not a Boston Thing

So, from the comments on my last post, I see that we have a ton of areas around the country that are a mess. This is frustrating. What is the solution? How do we solve the housing crisis?

Does anyone have any ideas? How low is the market going to get?

This is a scary thing.


I woke to an eye infection, lovely. So my day was spent between work, the supermarket and the doctor’s. Sigh…

Sticker Shock

I’ve been taking walks at work lately to handle some of the serotonin issues. It helps the depression to exercise and since the rec center I use to exercise opens this week, walking has been my main source of exercise. So I walk. Around work. In one the the most expensive neighborhoods in Cambridge Mass.

When we first moved here in 1996, we were told to look to buy a house in Newton or Cambridge. Good advice. We would have 2 salaries, no kids, we could do that, right? The median price of a house in the area at the time that we moved here was around $300,000. While our salaries were much higher than the poverty level that we had in grad school, we could not afford either of those areas.

We spent a weekend in April, looking for apartments we could afford. We spent a long time searching and finally ended up in a managed place. We skipped the beautiful Victorian which only had a 5 foot tall shower and the ugly place in Stoneham that looked like a mass murderer could have quietly put his prey in the darkroom. We rented out of a huge townhouse place. And it cost more than DOUBLE what we were paying on Long Island for an entire cottage.

The first year here was crazy. We were simultaneously: a) calibrating the telescope in Alabama (I was there every 2 weeks for 2 weeks), b) planning a wedding (damn, ran out of excuses), and c) planning to buy a house.

We did try Newton. We really did. There is a wonderful Jewish community there. We wanted to be in a Jewish community. The houses were reminiscent of where Jay grew up in the city of gorgeous knockers, Ohio (near Cleveland). But what we could afford and what was available was not acceptable. We hired a buyer broker and ended up in a town called Burlington, MA. A cute little 3 bedroom house, 1.5 bath…. over $200K! Yikes! Where I grew up, it would barely be $100K. But location location, location, this was the place. We lived there for 5 years. I had concerns about it. We were near a power field (although my grandparents had one in their backyard and both lived fine until their 80s), and we were on one of the few "cut through" streets in the area. I worried about kids and cars.

After Soleil was born, we had Jay’s parents over for a week and a half. That was it. We decided right then that we had to move. It was not going to work if we had another child. Taking a small child on housing searches is difficult. But we did. And we discovered that our house had gone  UP UP UP in price in those 5 years. We could suddenly afford MORE! But and this was a big but (unlike mine, which is a humongous butt), everything had gone up.

Two months of searching led us to our current house. We almost put in for it, and then stopped. I decided I couldn’t stand the downstairs. But then, a few days later, we decided what the hell. We put in for $25K less than what they were asking and did it.
We got the house. And I almost threw up for 2 weeks thinking about how much money in absolute terms we were spending…

This brings me back to the start. Houses in Cambridge, in the area that I walk run $1-4 MILLION. Yes, you read that right. MILLION. How the HELL does anyone afford these? I know, many people got in years ago, before the boom started in the eighties. And many people in this area made a fortune in the stock market before the crash. I know people who cashed out half of their stock and diversified the rest and bought a million dollar home in cash. Smart people that!

But now the housing market is falling again. Housing sales are off 25% from the third quarter of last year. wow.
We are not planning to move again for a long time. But it makes me wonder how young families can afford to live here. Massachusetts is expensive. Very expensive.  To get an apartment in Cambridge, you either have to pony up $1200-$2000 for a 1 BD apartment or get a larger apartment and share with others. Imagine having to raise your family on $42000 a year. And you spend $14,400 on an apartment. That leaves you with $27,000 BEFORE TAXES.

Sure, you don’t HAVE to live in Cambridge. But you DO have to live in Boston to be a police officer or fire fighter. And we all know how great those salaries are.

I watch the market fall, but I know that it won’t bottom out as low as it should. And the poor in the greater Boston area will increase, as more and more people are out of the housing market.


Cleaning up

I am on Dora duty. We promised the girls that if they listened all week, we would watch the premier of Dora’s World Adventure. yippie. Can you feel the excitement? (read that in a deadpan voice)

Based on some wise advice from another mom, I decided to raise my dose on the cymbalta. My doc had mentioned that I might need to change the dose. I hate doing this. I some how feel like a failure for needing to get the correct dose. Idiotic, right? Anyway, I hit a really low point Friday night, so I decided to raise the dose. I’ll call my doc tomorrow and let her know.

Sigh…It is helping, but my stomach is not really happy right now…

Hey Mud Puddle

Soleil loves this Book. The girl is attacked by a mud puddle. She is calmly playing when out of no where, a mud puddle jumps on her.

Yesterday, out of no where, depression jumped on me. By dinner, I was barely functional.

Today is not better.

I am getting tired of this shit.