Sunday, May 22, 2005

Pottery vs. Ultimate Frisbee

I finished up my pottery class and didn't sign up for another session because we (that is, me and my husband) decided to try to play ultimate frisbee this summer. I really enjoyed my pottery class – I found it very engrossing and a good break – I hardly thought (or worried) about home at all. Although class ended last month, I just picked up my glazed stuff last Friday. I'm really happy with it – glazing can be tricky, and often people are happy with a piece until they glaze and fire it, and then it is disappointing. I got some good advice on which glazes are reliably good, and I have some beautiful things. I'm hoping to do another class in the fall – many Christmas gifts this year may be mugs, bowls, and other pieces of pottery!

My husband and I used to play Ultimate (please don't assume that we're any good at it) before kids, and even a little after the first arrived. Parker didn't enjoy watching me run up and down a field, and didn't really understand the idea of an invisible line that he wasn't supposed to cross, so I didn't get much playing time. However, at about 20 months old he could throw a frisbee better than I could – really, I'm not kidding. It didn't go far, but he could throw it to the same place over and over again.

Now, at five, he does understand about that invisible line that he's not supposed to cross, and he and the three-year old enjoy going to practice. We take a picnic dinner for them (in my civilized Longaberger basket, no less), and they play with eachother and climb on us when we're on the sidelines. The baby is less enthusiastic, but he does fine. And our team is fabulous about helping out if it's needed (i.e. dragging the baby off the field).

Necessity is the Mother . . .

We got an escrow analysis this week that informed us that our morgage payment is increasing by $400/month. We put an addition on our house last year, so we expected our taxes to rise, which they have, but not by $4800/year. I need to call the bank to find out why the discrepancy, but, unfortunately, I don't think there's necessarily been a mistake – I think it has to do with the way escrow for taxes and insurance works.

Like most households, we don't have an extra $400/month laying around. My husband recently changed his witholding to get more each month and less of a tax refund, so that will help (and I was so excited about having a little more buffer every month – so much for that). So this has forced me (or given me the opportunity) to think about how to earn some money. It's been interesting. I think that taking care of three kids and running a house is a lot of work. But for the most part I choose how to do it, when (or if) I'm going to do certain housekeeping tasks, and I'm not supervised or critiqued.

The idea of having to work gets me a little down, and reminds me to count my blessings. I've worked in the past as a technical writer. I do a little here and there for former clients – it adds up to a few hours a month, if that. I wrote part of a book about two years ago – I had a nanny one day a week (who did my laundry in addition to taking care of the kids), and a babysitter two afternoons, and somehow I got a fair amount of work done. I haven't done anything that intensive since. It's hard to write or edit in small spurts.

I'm thinking about sewing baby carriers, which I can do in small spurts. There is some home sewing which seems to generate a profit –unlike sewing cloth diapers, which seems like a lot of hard work for not much money, unless you happen to be the next big thing in which case you have more work that you really want to do while caring for small children.

I'm also exploring part-time technical writing work. The baby is 14-months now (and needs me a little less), and summer is coming up (with more babysitter availablity), so maybe I could land a fabulous 20-hour/week contract job for three months and make the extra money we need for the whole year.

Complicating the situation is the fact that my husband doesn't like his job and would really like a new one. So we talk a little about whether I should get a job and let him quit. It's not really what I want, and he's not pushing it. I probably couldn't earn as much as he does if I took a salaried job. I probably could if I worked as a contractor, but that's risky. And I think it would be a tough lifestyle to be out working and then come home and be Mommy. Lots of people do it, I know, but if we have the choice not to, I'd rather not.

To Curriculum or Not?

As the reality of homeschooling comes nearer I've been toying with buying a curriculum. I know I said I'm attracted to unschooling (and I still am), but I'm worried about my ability to get to the library and find age-appropriate material on a topic of interest before that interest disappears. I like the idea of having some resources on hand –in a box, even. I like the idea of having reading material for both me and him. I like the idea of being able to tell the skeptical that we are using a curriculum. I don't envision following it day by day, just as using it as a springboard. I'm close to buying the Oak Meadow first grade curriculum. The Kindergarten set looks too basic for Parker – it covers capital letters and numbers 1 through 10. He's past that. I like that Oak Meadow recommends teaching recorder and knitting (it's Waldorf based). Anyway, I'm still thinking about it. I'm very excited though, and when I read Parker about the list of science topics, and told him it was the first grade curriculum, he just lit up.

Going S l o w

We've been busy lately. Fortunately, the baby seems to have gotten over the stage where he cries when you walk across the room without picking him up -- that was really a drag.

I've also been tired lately. It could be because I have three little kids and never get an uninterrupted night's sleep. It could also be because I'm hypothyroid. I was diagnosed back in November as slightly hypothyroid (TSH of 3 point something). I didn’t have many symptoms except fatigue, which can be explained in other ways. I had lost a lot of hair in the first few months postpartum, but seemed to be over that. I declined medication at that point because I hate the idea of everyday medication, and because my TSH was pretty borderline. The doctor and I hoped that it was postpartum hypothyroidism, and that it would improve.

At the baby's one-year checkup I had another blood test. I thought I was feeling pretty well, and was hopeful that the results would show an improvement. I didn't hear back from doctor’s office, and four or five weeks later, when I had been tired for a week or so, I called the office talked to a nurse who looked up my test result and told me that my TSH had worsened (to 5 point something). After another few weeks of being tired and wrestling with the medication decision, I decided to get my prescription filled. I’ve been on a generic version Synthroid for a week and a half, and I’m not feeling noticeably better yet (I hear it often takes a few weeks to have an effect).

So, as you may have guessed, there’s a rant or two coming. First, why the heck didn’t my doctor’s office call me? The doctor still hasn’t called – I need to call in to tell her that I started the Synthroid. Secondly, what is killing our thyroids? Synthroid is the most prescribed medication; 40% of the population is estimated to be hypothyroid (many undiagnosed). I may yet explore alternative treatments – I have an appointment with a holistic MD in August. I’m willing to see a naturopath or a doctor of Chinese medicine – however, I’d like to feel that the treatment is likely to work before I throw my money into it. And third, what's with this –
Doctor: Your thyroid is low. Here's a prescription for medication you'll need to take for the rest of your life.
Me: Is there any way to encourage my thyroid to work better?
Doctor: Not as far as I know.
End of discussion. We also did not discuss why my thyroid might be broken. This symtomatic approach to fixing ailments drives me crazy. Why can't we figure out why things go wrong and figure out how to fix that? I often think that if we knew exactly how to eat (and it would be different for each individual) we could improve many of our health issues. (I know there are books on this, and I haven't read any of them. ) But there's not a lot of money in that, and there's plenty of money in pharmaceuticals.

It's been quite a journey to decide to fill the prescription. As a friend noted, it's a self-image thing – I'm not a sick person, I'm not one of those people who takes drugs. On forms that require you to list medications, I haven't had to write down anything since I went off the pill back in 1998. That has changed. Bummer.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Parent arrested for tress passing at school

This is an article about a man arrested for trespassing at his son's school. He wanted to be informed when same-sex marriage was discussed in his son's kindergarten class, so that he could take him out of school.

I don't agree with this man's politics, but I'm very disturbed that a parent can be arrested for trespassing where their child goes to school. No where in the article does it make it sound as thought this man was a threat. Public school is generally far from transparent, and I certainly believe that parents should know what their kids are learning, and have the right to edit and enrich as they think appropriate.