A "good enough" mom muses about alpha moms, adoption, computers, the State Of The World, Internet quirkiness, and the Kosmik All
Cogito, ergo sum
OmegaMom is a Thinker. If there's nothing else around to think about, she will analyze the language on a cereal box. (She'd read it first, of course--she's a fanatic about books as well.) Whenever someone posts one of those Myers-Briggs tests, OmegaMom takes it, just to see if anything has changed. Almost all the time, she shows up as an INTP, the "Architect", someone who analyzes things to death to try to understand them, looks at all sides of an issue, tries to inject some objectivity into online discussions, and Seeks Truth. (Woohoo. Doesn't that sound just damned snotty? Seeking Truth.) Anyways, INTPs are supposedly one of the most rare personality types; some sites claim only 1% of those tested test as this. Every once in a while, OmegaMom tests out as INFP instead; word has it that many INTP women turn towards INFP as they age (and become mothers, grandmothers). INFPs are rare as well. (So OmegaMom is not only snotty about Seeking Truth, but she boasts about being rare.) One of my theories is that a lot of folks who frequent internet bulletin boards and emails lists tend towards the "I" side of the personality types, and whenever one of these tests is tossed out as a topic of frivolity and/or conversation, the percentage of INTPs and INFPs is inevitably higher in the group than it is in the larger testing public. Which (in a roundabout way) brings me to the subject at hand. (No, the subject at hand is not personality types, or personality testing, or how rare and noble [that Seeking Truth thang] OmegaMom is [see my halo?] [ignore that post about how OmegaMom is secretly a Spiteful Loner].) On the various adoption lists, there is a certain amount of back-and-forth about The Issues Adopted Children Will Face. (Imagine a plummy-voiced male announcer reading that last phrase.) Questions are raised about attachment issues, long-term mental health of adoptees in general, how to handle racism for those in transracial adoptive families, how to promote familiarity--if not enthusiasm--for an internationally adopted child's country of origin, the balance between being open with your child about his/her origins versus overwhelming him/her with gory details, and how some adult international adoptees are seriously angry about the whole kit and kaboodle of international adoption. Et cetera. OmegaMom finds herself plumb in the middle of the "let's talk about these things, folks" faction. The problem is that some people seem to get their panties in a wad about how much this gets talked about. Hmmm. A little history is in order here. OmegaMom joined the Big Chinese Adoption List way back in either 1998 or 1999. Lemme tell you, back then, if you were foolish enough to be an adoptive parent whose child had attachment issues or suffered some type of serious special need or had physical problems diagnosed after adoption, and actually wrote about it on the list--well, hell, you'd think you were a Judas, a doomsayer, a literal wet blanket. People regularly were hounded from the lists for asking for help...and, as a result, more specialized lists such as Attach-China (and its associated website, Attach-China.Org) sprang up to support these folks. Times, they have a-changed. There's often frank and open discussion of these types of serious issues on the list now; it may be a factor that there are more children hitting the school years and adolescence, and their parents are ready and willing to discuss the issues. But any time one of these discussions comes up, and goes through its usual perigrinations, sooner or later someone will post something about how we're "over psycho-analyzing things" and we're "scaring new adoptive parents off" and "can't we post NICE stuff???" The writings of adult adoptees are regularly brushed off as being the spiel of angry, maladjusted adoptees. And the psychoanalyzers seem to be viewed as folks who wander around with mouthfuls of misery that they inflict on their kids, not allowing their kids to...well...just "be kids", and subconsciously (or very consciously) guiding their children to become obsessed with birthfamilies, birthcountry, and the injustices of racism. OmegaMom's motto is, "Be Prepared". Look. We do not spend our every moment following OmegaDotter around with a magnifying glass, hounding her about China, examining every action and word for evidence of attachment disorder. Our house is not some dark tomb wherein our poor dotter is imured. We're not sitting on our thumbs, expecting her to turn into an angry, maladjusted adult who cuts off all ties with us because we abducted her from her country of origin. What we do is we read. We find out what others have gone through. We listen to what adult adoptees have to say, and try and figure out what we might do to avoid the more angering issues that the adult adoptees write about. OmegaMom read up on attachment issues before we traveled to China. We hauled poor OmegaDotter about in a Maya Pouch (which is now adjustable, woohoo!) so that she was close to us at all times as an infant. We carried her a lot. We snuggled with her a lot. We didn't expect her to have issues, but we sure as hell realized she did have some. I'm glad that the lists are open enough so that we can discuss them with newbies without fearing a tar-and-feathering ride on a rail off the list. And that reading, that preparing, helped us deal with such issues as serious night terrors...fear of being alone...an interesting tendency on her part to react badly to being around Asian people as a baby (fear of being taken away?). OmegaMom felt empowered by having these resources. Some people may feel disempowered. Some people may feel that even thinking of bad outcomes will influence the end result; OmegaMom considers that "magical thinking". Far better to know in advance what signs and symptoms might indicate serious attachment problems, or encounters with racism in the outside world (unbuffered by being with the OmegaParents), or adolescent angst about "what race do I identify with", than to be broadsided by these things when they come along, feeling protected by the mantra that "all you need is love". Love helps, but it sometimes just isn't enough.
posted by Kate @ 1/31/2006 06:04:00 PM   10 comments

Fan dancer
Fan dancers While living the rural life has its pluses (many of them), there are times OmegaMom yearns for the gifts a more urban life would give to OmegaDotter. As I said in my last post, the Omegas went down to Big City for the Chinese New Year celebration. It was wonderful. One of the things that was most pleasing was seeing so many Asian people; it was pleasing because OmegaDotter didn't stand out in the way that we have become subconsciously accustomed to. In addition, it wasn't artificial. OmegaMom has good feelings and praise for FCC (Families With Children From China). This is an organization which is devoted to (duh) families who have adopted from China. The raison d'etre for this organization is to give these families (and their children) a large group devoted to encouraging an appreciation of the cultural heritage of our children. Thus, there are festivals, gatherings, parties, interactions with folks from the local Asian community, connections to dance schools, language schools, researchers. You name it, they've got it. The Omegas have driven down to Big City a few times for some of the bigger fests put on by the not-so-local FCC organization. They're great. But. But. In the end, they are somewhat artificial. You encounter lots of parents who dress their kids up in ethnic costume for the fests, and lots of parents who dress themselves up. Local color, as it were. The best thing about going to the Big City Asian community's New Year festival was that...well...most of the kids were just kids. They weren't all dressed up. The parents weren't dressed up in "ethnic" costume--they were in their usual Sunday dress-up gear. Or slacks. Or jeans. There were Asian teens in teen-style clothes, with teen-style hair. There were kids with hair in ponytails, pigtails, down, long hair, short hair, messy hair, neat hair. In an odd way, it was a more diverse group than the one that shows up at the FCC fests tends to be. OmegaDotter was enchanted with the dancing. She was also enchanted with the fans for sale in various booths. So, I purchased a cheap one for her, and she played with it, dancing around a bit...OmegaDad, who was out and about making contacts for volunteer work he's doing for his agency, skedaddled off to join up with one of his contacts, and OmegaDotter and I wandered around. At one point, OmegaDotter was playing with her fan, and I caught sight, down a corridor, of a group of women dancing with big fans in a courtyard. "OmegaDotter! Look!" (Of course, she didn't, so I had to scooch her around to see.) She looked, took in what was happening, and had to run off to see them. We watched them dance, and OmegaDotter began imitating them. They would flip open their fans with a big FLUP!, and OmegaDotter would try to open her itty bitty plastic fan the same way. They would snap the fans shut and slowly swing them across their bodies, ending up in a tai-chi-like move; OmegaDotter tried the same thing. At the end of the dance, the ladies gathered OmegaDotter up to show her how to do some of the moves, and one of the ladies graciously allowed me to take a picture with the Dotter. Though OmegaDotter looks somewhat subdued, OmegaMom assures you that seconds before she had been grinning widely; the problem with digicams is that, while you get instant gratification in terms of the pics being available immediately, you have to accept the fact that clicking the shutter doesn't mean you're about to get the picture you wanted, sigh. But after all was done, OmegaMom was sad: these are things that OmegaDotter will not have up in our semi-rural area. The OmegaParents discussed this later on, with OmegaMom chiming in (once again) that it would not be The End Of The World to live in Big City. OmegaDad reluctantly agreed. Something to ponder. (Unfortunately, right now, all the jobs OmegaDad is looking at are in places like Bemidji, Minnesota. Very pretty, lots of lakes and pine trees, and an awesome position for OmegaDad, but...right back where we started in terms of diversity.) We finish this post with OmegaDotter over the moon--Silver Moon, to be exact:
posted by Kate @ 1/30/2006 10:40:00 PM   2 comments

Happy New Year!
Image hosting by PhotobucketToday is the first day of the Year of the Dog. "People born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature. They have a deep sense of loyalty, are honest, and inspire other people¡¦s confidence because they know how to keep secrets. But Dog People are somewhat selfish, terribly stubborn, and eccentric. They care little for wealth, yet somehow always seem to have money. They can be cold emotionally and sometimes distant at parties. They can find fault with many things and are noted for their sharp tongues. Dog people make good leaders. They are compatible with those born in the Years of the Horse, Tiger, and Rabbit. " The Omegas are in Big City for the weekend. We've done the zoo, tomorrow is the Chinese Cultural Center. OmegaMom hopes that the gods are appeased by the clean hotel room, as the thought of actually truly cleaning the OmegaHouse makes her shudder. The Discovery Channel is doing the "China Event"--show after show on China. CafePress has a boatload of Year of the Dog goods; I particularly like the "Ancient Chinese Zodiac Dog Stamp" T-shirt and the Chinese papercut design. And Figlet is throwing a CNY party. Darned well better post pics, girl! Gung hay fat choi! Sun nien fai lok! (Yes, it's Cantonese, not Mandarin...OmegaDotter hails from southern China, so it's appropriate for us.)
posted by Kate @ 1/28/2006 11:42:00 PM   1 comments

Adoption commentary
Karen, over at The Nekkid Ovary, has a list of "10 Things You Shouldn't Say to Someone Adopting". Good list. Folks who aren't adoptive parents sometimes don't understand what is offensive or upsetting about some of the sayings, and someone asked, very nicely, if Karen could explain her problem with some of them. OmegaMom, being a pushy big mouth, couldn't help but provide her list of reasons why they bother her, in the commentary. Check it out. Karen's got a good blog; if you've got a friend going through the adoption process right now, Karen's blog can give you a good taste of the feelings brought on by/during the process. (Warning to those who have never suffered from infertility: Karen often vents about fertiles versus infertiles, and it can be difficult to read sometimes. But still good. And enlightening. And well-written. And funny.)
posted by Kate @ 1/28/2006 08:35:00 AM   3 comments

So, where were you?
What were you doing? Twenty years ago today, the shuttle Challenger blew up after take-off. Talk about defining moments for a generation. The generation previous got the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Two generations before that was Pearl Harbor. The latest generation gets to ask each other, fifteen and a half years from now, "Where were you when The World Trade Center was attacked?" It's not a seemly day for ranting about the bureacratization of space exploration. But I will say that I am glad that the private space industry attempts are finally showing signs of growing.
posted by Kate @ 1/27/2006 10:30:00 AM   3 comments

In the dark of the night
OmegaMom woke up at 3:00 AM. What to do, what to do? Most normal folks would be in bed, asleep. Semi-normal folk, when wakened at an odd hour, will grab a book or head to the computer to do some relatively mindless web cruising. Check out the blogs, check out the boards, check the email, read MSNBC or CNN. OmegaMom is busy looking for good articles explaining database normalization on a non-technical level and preparing her syllabus for the grandly named course, "Contemporary Developments: Database Uses in L2 Research". So, instead of searching on, say, Meg Ryan adopt China, OmegaMom is searching on "Database normalization". (She is actually searching for one good article she had bookmarked three years ago when she was in another position. Too bad she can't remember a little bit more about that article, aside from the fact that she considered it darned good; Google can't search on that, dammitall.) One site found has this lovely sentence: "Normalization is a ten-cent word database programmers use when they want to intimidate you, but the basic idea isn't really that hard to understand." The very most basic idea is to make sure your database has no repeating information. OmegaMom has been working with databases since before she joined Mountain University lo these many years ago. Mountain University is just chock-a-block full of little tiny databases and spreadsheets, much of it tracking the same information. When OmegaMom joined the SWAT team at Mountain University, her team leader had a dream: to ensure that all the little databases that oozed out of every little department in the university had the same information. Hah. Eight years later, it is still, in reality, mostly a dream. There's a perfectly good "student information system" that stores names, addresses, contact info (well, it's an okay system, the database is fine, but the front end [PeopleSoft] is a nightmare)...but there are still little departmental spreadsheets and databases that contain that same info, typed in by yet another staffer, and Kozmik All only knows whether that information is up to date or not. It's kind of like trying to hold freshly cooked spaghetti in your hand: you concentrate on pulling this one slithery strand of spaghetti back up into your hand, and another strand is slithering between your fingers. Anyway, the idea behind this class is for OmegaMom to provide guidance for folks who are getting fuddy-duddies in linguistics on how to create databases for their research, write some dynamic web pages to collect that data, write some more web pages to display the data, and then export the whole kit-and-caboodle into SAS or SPSS or some other statistical analysis tool. To prove what kind of a geek OmegaMom can be, she thinks this is all kind of fun. Hey! Wake up! Don't you know it's not polite to fall asleep when reading someone's blog?!?! Update: Oooh! Oooh! OmegaMom is doing the Snoopy Dance! She found the article she was looking for! Hey. It's the small things that make us happy, right?
posted by Kate @ 1/27/2006 04:00:00 AM   5 comments

Watch out for Omegamom...
OmegaMom is in a kind of blogging limbo right now. Lots of topics tossing around in her head, no real focus on any of them yet. Here are some of the possible topics, in no particular order:
  • Why would any smart woman want to conceal her smarts to Get A Guy? (courtesy of multiple reviewers of Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary?, many of which admit to not having read it.)
  • Adoption ethics
  • Why do people think lousy reproductive abilities mean you should Save The World? (The "there are so many neeeeeedy children in the U.S." comment.)
  • International adoption as a type of colonialism
  • Let me psychoanalyze this cereal box... (People--like OmegaMom--who tend to think and talk and think and talk about every possible aspect of a particular issue, then get accused of not letting their children be children because they're thinking the issue to death.)
  • LASIK is much better than sliced bread
  • The holistic spa daydream
  • What is it about llamas and alpacas?
So what do y'all think? Any preferences?
In the meantime, OmegaMom took the Personality Defect Test: Spiteful Loner You are 57% Rational, 14% Extroverted, 57% Brutal, and 28% Arrogant. You are the Spiteful Loner, the personality type that is most likely to go on a shooting rampage. You are a rational person and tend to hold emotions in very low-esteem; not only that, but you are also rather introverted, meaning you probably bury any emotions you feel deep inside yourself. Combine these traits with your hatred of others and your brutality, and it seems that you would be quite likely to shoot innocent people in a rampage. Not only that, but you are also a very humble person--not a braggart at all--meaning you could possibly have low-self esteem. This is only yet one more incentive to go on a shooting rampage, because you wouldn't care if you died as a result. Granted, you probably haven't gone on a shooting rampage and probably never will, but all the motivations are there. In conclusion, your personality is defective because you are too introverted, brutal, insecure, and rather unemotional. No wonder no one hangs around you, you morbid, cold-hearted freak!

To put it less negatively: 1. You are more RATIONAL than intuitive. 2. You are more INTROVERTED than extroverted. 3. You are more BRUTAL than gentle. 4. You are more HUMBLE than arrogant.

Compatibility:

Your exact opposite is the Televangelist.

Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Capitalist Pig, the Smartass, and the Sociopath.

Hunh. I'd have thought I'd be the Haughty Intellectual, myself. Guess it was admitting that I get angry easily that slipped me over to the "brutal" side. Then again, I could have been The Robot, instead.
posted by Kate @ 1/26/2006 01:13:00 PM   1 comments

The Litany - part 1
Here's what's in the envelope: Consent for Service Client Rights and Responsibilities Financial Agreement - International Option Application for Certification/Recertification to Adopt (9 pages) Authorization for Release of Information Adoptive Families Central Registry Records Clearance Application for Certification of Adoption (to the court) This is for the local agency.
OmegaDotter survived the mocha cake with espresso beans. The OmegaParents did, too. OmegaDotter bounced off the walls for about three hours after the cake ingestion, then fell fast asleep. She is now the proud owner of a horsie backpack named "Dreamer", a string of horsie lights, and numerous stickers (some horses, of course). She spent the day announcing to all and sundry, "I'm FOUR!" The horsie backpack has given birth to multiple toys multiple times today.
posted by Kate @ 1/24/2006 11:30:00 PM   1 comments

Playing mom and other myths
So, yes, we all know Meg Ryan has just adopted from China. Given the inaccurate reporting, I think we can safely assume that she is in the midst of true sleep deprivation back home with her precious little Josephina Mei Ling Ryan, or Jonathon Jin Tao Ryan (media reports differ on whether it was a girl or a boy), re-learning the joys of incessant diaper changes and voracious hunger. She'll be happy to know that it's just another role. She's "playing Mother to a Chinese baby". Yes, yes, I realize it's a "play" on words--actress playing a role, yadda, yadda, yadda--and, actually, I'm pretty sure the same writer would use the same tired cliché if she were preggers. But sheesh. It just rubs me the wrong way. Hey! You entertainment writers out there! Lissen up! Adoption is NOT role-playing, you got it?! And of course the hordes of celebrity watchers just have to chime in with their commentary on various websites. "There are so many needy children here in Amurrica!" Adopting from China is "trendy", "fashionable". She "spent a fortune" to "buy a baby". You know, those people in China kill girl babies, don't you?!?! Folks, get a grip. Yes, there are "needy children" in the U.S. foster care system. Some people who adopt go that route. More power to them. Some people who adopt adopt privately, using attorneys. Some people who adopt adopt from Russia, or Uzbekistan, or Guatemala. Some people adopt stepchildren or their grandchildren. If someone wants to adopt from China, rather than the other routes, it's their business, and they've usually got reasons for it. (Now, OmegaMom will admit wholeheartedly that some of the reasons proferred for adopting from China, or Russia, or via foster care, or privately, or what-have-you grate on her nerves, and she thinks that some people don't think the whole thing through very well, but, hey, it takes at least some thinking to decide which adoption option is best for your family.) "Trendy" and "fashionable" are not the adjectives I would use to describe the process to adopt from China. Dull. Bothersome. An excruciating exploration of the world of bureaucracy--both U.S. and Chinese--which resulted in the Omegas being impressed by the smoothness of the Chinese side and the high frustration quotient from the U.S. side. An exercise in self-examination, just like all adoptions are; you get to write long essays on various key aspects of your personality, such as what your childhood was like, what sort of tactics you employ to manage stress, why you want to adopt, what you think being a parent is/will be like. But "trendy"? "Fashionable"? It's not like going in to Nordstrom's and picking out some kicky Jimmy Choo shoes, y'know. Can't do it on a whim. Folks "spend a fortune" on cars and think nothing of it. Some folks even do it on a regular basis, like once every three years! (The Omegas are proud owners of an 18-year-old car, the Trusty Justy, which would garner us an astounding $400 if we were to sell it, according to Blue Book.) There are folks who "spend a fortune" on (egads!) Bridezilla-style weddings. Around here, people "spend a fortune" to buy a house these days, though much less of a fortune than in, say, California or New York City. One of OmegaMom's pastimes is popping onto Realtor.Com and perusing the local realty ads, thanking the Kozmik All that they bought back in 1998, and greedily calculating just how much the Omegas would gain by selling their house now. Of course, if the Omegas were to sell, they wouldn't be able to afford purchasing around here any more, and would have to move to, say, Norman, Oklahoma, or Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Neither Meg Ryan nor the Omegas "bought a baby", thankyewverramuch. Dunno how much Meg Ryan spent (there are agencies and agencies, y'know, and some charge much more than others). The charges are for a variety of services and governmental foofarah. For instance, currently the USCIS (formerly the ICE, formerly the BCIS, formerly the INS, all within the past five years) charges $525 for an "Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition (Advance Processing Application", plus $70 per person to get the FBI to fingerprint you and clear you of any Dastardly Wrongdoings (even if your fingerprints are already in the computer...like a potential adoptive parent is going to steal someone's identity prior to attempting to adopt). The local agency we are using for our homestudy services charges $1000 to prepare said homestudy, plus $1500 for post-placement visits and reports. Our preferred international agency charges $4000, which covers such services as advising local agencies on how to prepare homestudies for China, assistance with preparing the dossier (you do NOT want to hear the litany of documents that the dossier contains, but you WILL be hearing that litany in the not-so-distant future if you keep visiting OmegaMom), international and domestic postage to cover mailing fees for approximately 300 pages of paperwork per family, translation services, adoptive parent training and post-placement assistance, in-China fees to the Chinese government, group travel arrangements, etc. Then there's the $3000 fee to the Chinese orphanage. If you think that's pricey, just ask any parent of a pre-schooler how much it would cost to have that kiddo in daycare 24-7 for about 10 months, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner (OmegaDotter's daycare would cost $14,000 for 24-hour care, if said daycare were foolish enough to offer it, and that's cheap.) Then there's the travel to China; at the time we gallivanted across the globe to meet our dotter, it cost us $2,200 for two adults traveling round-trip, plus a "lap ticket" for the dotter. As for the Chinese killing girl babies...Dudes. There are 1,306,313,812 people in China, according to the CIA Factbook. What, do you think they are all decanted out of stainless steel uterine replicators? Yes, there's a cultural past of doing away with girl babies. Yes, there's a cultural bias towards boys that, coupled with the One Son/Two Child law in China, results in a certain amount of girl babies being abandoned. But OmegaMom isn't going to spend too much time on this one--trust me, do a little bit of research on the subject before you spout off on killing girl children. Now, you'll have to excuse me. OmegaMom has to go "play mother" and feed her "trendy" fashion accessory, rather than helping the "needy children in the U.S.", while she contemplates the envelope full of documents that she and OmegaDad are going to get writers' cramp filling out so that they can begin the process to "buy a baby".
posted by Kate @ 1/24/2006 06:16:00 PM   1 comments

Wired
No, not Wired Magazine. No, alas. OmegaMom, in her eagerness to buy a nice-looking chocolate cake for OmegaDotter's bday, glanced at the darker brown spots on the rosettes on the chocolate cake she purchased, and assumed (we all know what "assume" means, right?) that the dark spots were dark chocolate. Being a dark chocoholic, and seeking to lure OmegaDotter into the (har) Dark Side, this was seen as well and good. Um, no. Those were not spots of dark chocolate frosting. Oh, no. They were espresso beans. The cake was not chocolate, it was mocha. (A very yummy mocha. Damn fine. But...uh...mocha. That means, in addition to the caffeine from chocolate, there was caffeine from...um...coffee beans. Maybe even more espresso beans.) All of this dastardliness was discovered after OmegaDotter had cheerfully ingested A Large Amount, before the OmegaParents could start their pieces. (Picture OmegaMom running down the dark street, screaming, "SAVE ME!!!!" at the top of her lungs.) You are not allowed to laugh. At all.
posted by Kate @ 1/23/2006 08:34:00 PM   6 comments

Four
The Dotter turns four today. (We think.) Um. How did this happen? I look at the pics of her as an infant, and wonder where that tiny child went? Yeah, yeah, gimme a break. It's cliché because...well...these feelings occur to just about every parent out there. OmegaDad is cooking dinner. We've snuck a cake into the fridge, along with the "4" candle. OmegaDad took the dotter down to the local store to return videos (oh, how Dark Ages of us, to rent videos from a store!), and gave me the opportunity to sneak in stuff and wrap some presents on the sly. No party this year, but next year I think we will venture into the Ghastly World of Children's Birthday Parties.
posted by Kate @ 1/23/2006 07:17:00 PM   2 comments

Nasty, sneaky spammers
Who put comments on your old posts. Grrr. At least a few of them have the slightest tinge of personalization... OmegaMom will have to clean house today!
posted by Kate @ 1/23/2006 01:29:00 AM   2 comments

Zen peril
It all starts with some crates and lovely 8-foot by 12-inches (expensive!) lumber. Mr. OmegaMom, see, decided he was tired of the litter of acquaria and associated detritus on the kitchen counter. His solution: a long, low bookcase type affair to be placed against the wall in the living room, acquaria safely ensconced thereupon, and (har) the kitchen counter a gleaming expanse of clutter-free faux butcher block. So he purchased these crates and the lumber. He lovingly sanded them down, then whitewashed them (this was last weekend). He promised OmegaDotter, as a bribe to Leave Him Alone While Whitewashing, that she could help build the assemblage when it came time. There was only one problem. When it came time, it involved drills drilling holes. Loudly. OmegaMom, happily ensconced in the office with the assumption that OmegaDotter and OmegaDad were doing dotter-dadly things, was rudely interrupted by a weeping dotter. "It's noisy!" quoth she, quivering hands covering her ears. Oops. Dotter-dadly bonding time went out the window, tout de suite. Harrumph. So this a.m., Mr. OmegaMom corners OmegaMom, and says, "Could you come up with something to do with the dotter so I can finish the bookcase?" Ya, sure, you betcha. So OmegaMom duly showers, gets dressed, dresses OmegaDotter, endures the Daily Drama of hair-combing, and piles into the Little Green Car with dotter and stuff. OmegaDotter suggests, from the back, "We should go see Grandma Julie!" Hey, good idea, thinks OmegaMom. She trots back into the house to confer with Mr. OmegaMom. (A cell phone would be a Good Thing in situations like this.) He agrees, OmegaMom heads back out to the car, gets in, fishes in her pockets for the key...Oops. OmegaMom trots back into the house for the keys. She gets back into the car, puts the key in the ignition, and...oops. Forgot the Zen. Gotta have the Zen for the hour and a half trip down to OmegaGranny's house. (This was not so a mere month ago. A month ago, OmegaMom would have happily daydreamed on the drive while the dotter slept, coming up with Serious Topics for the blog, redecorating the house, remembering old tunes, all sorts of things. But times change, OmegaMom changes, and it was now Necessary to have the Zen.) OmegaMom trots back into the house, hollers out that she's forgotten the Zen, grabs the Zen, and heads back out. Into the car, puts the Zen down, turns the key in the ignition, and...oops. Forgot the wallet. Gotta have the wallet to pay for the gas to put in the car to drive down the hill to OmegaGranny's house. OmegaMom trots back into the house... Eventually, the whole circus was placed in the car, and mom and dotter headed out, leaving Mr. OmegaMom happily contemplating his (har) clutter-free and gleaming kitchen counter-to-be. Whereupon we come to the peril of Zen. Or the Zen of peril. Or something. OmegaMom hits the highway, motors on up to speed (85MPH, thanks to OmegaMom's lead foot), and grabs the Zen. First, there's the grand untangling. Untangle six feet of various wires and earbuds while keeping one hand on the wheel and (striving) to keep an eye on the road and an eye on the detangling. Various wirey knots untangled later, and numerous quick cuts back into the middle of the lane as she drifted off to the right later, it's time to turn on the Zen. OmegaMom has this little maneuver figured out, so that's no problem. Buuut. Then there's the starting the playlist. OmegaMom, still a neophyte, tries this button and that button (one handed, one eyed), drifts off to the right, cuts back, tries another button, hauls the Zen up onto the steering wheel to examine it more closely, squints at the little screen as the watery sunlight bounces off it at just the right angle, drifts off to the left a wee tad, cuts back, peers some more, damns her eyes. (LASIK, a topic for a future post, is a Wonderful Thing. However, if you're a wuss, like OmegaMom, and just getting geared up for the original surgery took severe moral backbone, going back for the re-touch on the left eye, which is not 20-20, but more like 20-50 [but far far better than the 20-600 it was before], just ain't gonna happen. So OmegaMom damns her eyes now & then.) Finally, all was set, OmegaMom was jammin', and we were (safely) headed down the road. The playlist: Let's go down to the sound tonight Tide is low and we can walk on water Reel me in under that starry light Just like the fisherman's daughter Baby when the bands and the barkers go home They say that Venus she rises From out of the foam She dances on air and laughs at the moon And watches young lovers in fiery dunes - "Walk on Water" - Marc Cohn
You know that all wanted Was to be there by your side If you didn't want it Well, you should have denied You knew that you were someone special Right form the start But if you treat me badly We'd be better off apart - "Wanted" - The Cranberries
So we cheated and we lied and we tested. And we never failed to fail; it was the easiest thing to do. You will survive being bested. Somebody fine will come along make me forget about loving you In the Southern Cross. - "Southern Cross" - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
it's a fish white belly a lump in the throat razor on the wire skin and bone piss and blood in a railroad car 100 people gypsies queers and david's star this train is bound for glory this train is bound for glory this train is bound for glory this train - "This Train Revised" - Indigo Girls
Crickets are chirpin' the water is high There's a soft cotton dress on the line hangin' dry Window's wide open african trees Bent over backwards in a hurricane breeze Not a word, a goodbye, not even a note She's gone with the man in the long black coat Somebody seem him hangin' around At the old dance hall on the outskirts of town He looked into her eyes when she stopped him to ask If he wanted to dance he had a face like a mask Somebody said, from the Bible he quote There was dust on the man in the long black coat - "Man in the Long Black Coat" - Joan Osborne
I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snow Casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there Counting crows One for sorrow two for joy Three for girls and four for boys Five for silver six for gold and Seven for a secret never to be told There's a bird that nests inside you Sleeping underneath your skin When you open up your wings to speak I wish you'd let me in - "Murder of One" - Counting Crows
posted by Kate @ 1/22/2006 09:56:00 PM   0 comments

Grrr.
Well. Just goes to show that the quickest, easiest way isn't always the correct way. Bah. I was trying to update my bloglist (over there, to the right). Thought I'd be clever and just copy the darned thing offen mah Bloglines list. Har. Doesn't work. 'Scuse me while I fiddle around some more and get that damned bloglist workin' properly. Grrr.
posted by Kate @ 1/22/2006 08:51:00 AM   0 comments

Out of the closet
I am a social libertarian on certain issues. I believe in: Gay marriage rights Abortion rights Abolition of the "War on Drugs" Right to die Legalizing prostitution Oh, I have caveats on some of the issues. For instance, if prostitution is legalized, require prostitutes to get health certification and regular inspections; if drugs are legalized, regulate them by the USDA and the FDA--the same way as any other crop or manufactured product--to meet quality regulations, plus a certain portion of the tax dollars raised by drug sales should go to education/remediation programs. Practical matters, where the social effects of the given activity by individuals are likely to impact other people. (So, I'm not a candidate for the Libertarian Party--my "regulate 'em and tax 'em" approach is anethema to those folks.) But the gay marriage fight is a stumper for me. Granting gays the right to legal marriage is somehow seen as the deathknell of our society. Supposedly, if gays can wed, it will somehow undermine marriage as a social construct. No matter how hard I try, I can't wrap my head around that one. Hands are waved at the "slippery slope", claiming that the same arguments that bolster gay marriage will be used to support three-way marriages, incest, and bestiality. (I'll show you how much of an off-the-wall person I am: I don't give a damn how many people want to enter a legal and familial union, so long as they are consenting adults, not under duress, and there are agreements signed as to how property questions and child custody/visitation rights will be handled if there is a split. I don't care if cousins or siblings want to marry, so long as they are consenting adults, not under duress, who get genetic testing to ensure no problematic genetic issues are handed down. And the bestiality argument is simply ludicrous...show me a dog, horse, or dolphin that can be considered a "consenting adult". Please. [Okay, the dolphin one is on the edge, if you listen to certain researchers.]) Hands are waved at "raising children in a two-parent family". I will point you at widows and widowers raising children, single relatives raising children, step-children, and the "it takes a village" concept, which has been around a helluva lot longer than the ideal man-woman-two-children visualization. It has actually been argued by people in court cases that the one-man, one-woman concept of marriage is there to ensure that children can be produced (this was in Arizona, in response to a court case where the plaintiffs were requesting the right to marry). Oh, yeah. Mr. OmegaMom and I should therefore not be allowed to be married, since we cannot produce children. Or what about elders who remarry after the death of their spouses? If the woman is past menopause, should she be legally required to never marry again? Should women who have hysterectomies then be forced to divorce their spouses? What about men who get vasectomies? Hands are also waved at the idea that gays are just promiscuous and sexually-obsessed, and that allowing gays to marry will, somehow, some way, encourage promiscuous sex. 'Scuse me? Someone wants to marry a long-time partner and have a monogamous relationship, and this is promoting promiscuity? I boggle. Gay marriage will, of course, lure others into becoming homosexuals. Say what?! Hot damn, you mean since Joe and Jim three doors down can get married, I'll just up and ditch Mr. OmegaMom to get me some h*t l*sbian s*x??? (For the unitiated, those asterisks are there to keep real weirdos and pervs from getting a hit on my blog by searching on "h*t l*sbian s*x".) And, heck, I'd even get a wife into the bargain, and maybe she'd be a better housekeeper than I am, dayum, this is a big plus. Then, of course, there's the old standby, that it's immoral, unnatural, and God doesn't want it, it says so in the Bible. There are two different marriages being discussed here. There's the "sacred" marriage, sanctified by the church (whatever church you belong to). Then there's the "legal" marriage, sanctioned by the state, which grants the entrants into the legal contract certain legal rights: the right, say, to visit your partner in the hospital without having members of your partner's family block you at the door; the right, say, to have medical power of attorney for your partner, so that your partner isn't hooked up to life support machines a la Terry Schiavo ad infinitum, ad miserium; the right to inheritance when your partner dies; the right to custody when your partner dies; the ability to file for income taxes as a couple, rather than as singles; etc., etc., etc. I am not an eloquent speaker on this subject. I don't have the quotes at my fingertips one way or the other. Others have written this argument much better than I can. But this is one issue that OmegaMom is pretty militant on. A year and a half ago, the Virginia legislature voted in one of the most restrictive laws in the nation. In part, it reads: "A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable." In the stroke of a pen, people who had lived in Virginia for decades, quietly leading their lives with their partners and carefully and painstakingly using expensive legal assistance to ensure that those legal rights I mention above were specifically written out in contracts and agreements, had those contracts and agreements nullified and their lives turned into a legal minefield. A long-time online friend of mine and her partner promptly, and tearfully, decided they had to leave Virginia, the home they loved. They had friends there. They had lives there. Their daughter had grown up there. They had made their house a home, put down roots, become happy and content just leading their lives. But they felt it was necessary--for the safety of their child--to uproot themselves and move to another state. This sort of thing just makes me sick and makes my heart ache. If you are interested in supporting the fight against legislatures that would do the same as the state of Virginia, by all means check out The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, and any of your local state outfits.
posted by Kate @ 1/21/2006 10:21:00 AM   6 comments

Heart outside your body
"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body." - Elizabeth Stone It's an old fairy-tale plot: In order to live forever, someone removes his heart and puts it somewhere for safekeeping, away from where anyone can harm it. Obviously, this person is not a parent. There are times when OmegaMom peeps into the bedroom when OmegaDotter is sleeping, and runs her eyes across that sweep of cheekbone with the waterfall of hair falling across it like velvety brown wisps, and her heart just stops. OmegaMom sees her then: As a child, as a teen, as an adult. She will be beautiful. (OmegaMom is not biased. She has it on excellent authority [OmegaGranny's, and Mr. OmegaMom's] that this is so. So there.] But OmegaMom doesn't want others to see just superficial beauty. She wants others to look at OmegaDotter and see the twinkling toes that dance when OmegaDotter is happy and excited. She wants others to see the thoughtful gaze, where OmegaDotter's eyes go pointing up and to the right (just like Mommy's), when she's about to Make A Pronouncement: "Well, akshully, I think x, y, z." She wants others to know that deep down belly laugh that is so contagious you can't help but laugh with her. She realizes that, someday, somewhere, someone will capture OmegaDotter's heart. Probably a bunch of times. And sometimes that other someone will be someone who just can't see beyond the surface, which will kill OmegaMom. Oh, the thought that some dorky pimply obnoxious teen boy will want OmegaDotter just because of that sweep of cheekbone, and not because of the belly laugh...argh. And then there are the darker thoughts: What if Something happens? A friend on a list OmegaMom is on got a heart-stopping call from daycare yesterday. Little J had fallen from the top of a slide, and wasn't responding. They had to airlift her to the pediatric intensive care unit. There was blood on the brain. Everyone on the list was horrified, and rallied around J's mom. There were anxious emails flying to and fro--"Has anyone heard from A? Is J okay?" "What's the latest word?" "Who lives near A? Who can drive out and help her?" And OmegaMom--who was also horrified--got off the computer to help Mr. OmegaMom put the Dotter to bed, and looked at OmegaDotter surreptitiously out of the corner of her eyes. What if...? Oh, Kozmik All, please, never, ever make us get that call. Please... The good news: J is home, all is well now, and A swears it was the longest 24 hours in her life. But, oh my lord. Just in the flash of an instant...in a simple accident...so much could change. So OmegaMom watches OmegaDotter out of the corner of her eye, and finds herself grabbing snapshots, vignettes. Just in case. Because OmegaMom's heart is now walking outside her body, in the form of a bossy four-year-old who loves horses, who can sing the words to silly songs that her daddy makes up for her, who dribbles stuffed animals all over the house, and who is beginning to become more empathetic and thoughtful every day. Over there. See her? She's my heart. And it's a lot less safe outside my body than when it was safely tucked away behind my lungs and ribs and flesh and boobs.
posted by Kate @ 1/20/2006 03:52:00 PM   4 comments

True Wuv
Twelve years ago today, OmegaMom was nervously stepping foot into a conference room for lunch with her new "mentor" and her new co-interns in the Science and Engineering Research Semester (now known as the Undergraduate Student Program) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Close to finishing her long-unfinished bachelor's degree in Computer Science, OmegaMom had applied for the internship on a lark. The worst that could happen, she reasoned, was that she would come home to her (very cute) little cottage (formerly a chicken coop) in the back of a property in San Leandro to find a corps of eminence grises on the lawn, all of them pointing scornful arms at her and shouting in unison, "How DARE you, OmegaMom, darken our illustrious doorsteps with even an application!" She could live that down, she figured. So there she was, having been selected for a semester in Los Alamos, which she had thought of as being around where White Sands was--desert-y, dry, hot. Imagine her immense surprise and delight to discover that it was up in the mountains, there were pine trees all over the place, lots of national parks and monuments within driving distance, and oodles of archeological sites. Ahhh! And this was the first day. There, at the welcome lunch, each of the students was required to stand up and give a little spiel about who they were, what made them apply, and what they hoped to do. Child after child stood up to give their blurbs. OmegaMom, a 34-year-old returning student, looked at them all and thought, "Sheesh. What am I going to have in common with these kiddos?!" Then this scrawny, blond-haired dude stood up. He spoke with a thick Oklahoma twang. His suit was somewhat ill-fitting. He looked older. He was cocky. He vibrated with energy. OmegaMom looked at him and thought, "Hunh. He seems kind of interesting." Not that the kiddos seemed uninteresting, just that she thought she might have more in common with this dude. After all, he might actually remember the Watergate Hearings... A day later, this dude and his roommate for the semester showed up at the doorstep of OmegaMom's government-supplied studio, which she shared with a nice, naive, white-blond-haired Mormon gal. They were canvassing the complex, collecting names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails for each of the students in the program. OmegaMom drank wine, chit-chatted with John and this dude, and then John left to continue the canvassing, while Dude kept talking with OmegaMom. And talking. And talking. Telling stories. Sharing dreams. Laughing. Discovering a shared passion for poring over topographic maps of the area and figuring out where there were interesting things to go see and do. So Dude and OmegaMom made a date for that Saturday. They'd meet up at 9 a.m., and go "Gorging Squared"--drive up to Taos, check out the Rio Grande Gorge and see if they could locate an Ethiopian restaurant that the SERS coordinator had mentioned. Kewl. Saturday rolls around. Dude and OmegaMom hit the road. Talking, talking, talking. They drive down the hill to Espanola and start through town. OmegaMom sees, out of the corner of her eye, a touristo shop that looks interesting. She comments on it. Dude hangs a u-ey with his big Ford truck, and squeals tires getting in there before the light changes. They continue on. They drive alongside the Rio Grande all the way north. They discover the Black Mesa Winery. They discover the mystical wise man who runs a roadside chachki shop, whose motto and mantra is, "No matter what, be happy"--and get shown his postcards from all over the world from people who had stopped there and talked with him for hours. They lunch in Taos. They drive to Angel Fire and around and back. They end up at the Gorge at 5 p.m., in the middle of a blinding snowstorm. They drive back in the dark. They are finishing each others' sentences by now. They dine in Taos. They end up back at the student housing at 10 p.m. They spend the next day together. At some point, OmegaMom throws her arms around him, gives him a big kiss, and say, "I like you so damned much!" By the end of the week, they are joking about running off and getting married. Happy anniversary, Mr. OmegaMom. It's been a great 12 years.
posted by Kate @ 1/19/2006 07:05:00 PM   4 comments

Heart of darkness, part II
Muchas gracias for the commiseration. OmegaMom no longer feels like ripping people's skin to shreds with her talon-like fingernails (grrrr!). This is a vast improvement. On the other hand, OmegaMom had made a reacquaintance with migraines. Oh, joy. Man, oh, man, this is all behaving very much like OmegaMom is about to be visited by an old friend who she was very happy to have seen the last of. (Please. No commentary about dangling participles. You try to reword that last phrase.)
posted by Kate @ 1/19/2006 06:36:00 PM   1 comments

Heart of darkness
OmegaMom is severely bitchy today. Severely. Do not come near her, or say the wrong thing, or even have the wrong expression on your face. She will either go into hysterical rantings, or think longingly of using pliers on people's finger and toenails. (She may even speak longingly of such things.) There are some lucky women who have no real experience with PMS. They have no understanding of either the "I feel like ants are crawling all over my body and anything you say or do or even think is like a saw on my nerves" homicial mania, or the "the world is black, everything is worthless, and if I were to leap off this bridge right now, no-one would miss me" suicidal depression. OmegaMom has even heard that some women claim there is no such thing. Here's a quote from a bulletin board: "I'm seriously convinced that there is no such thing as PMS. I think it is just another excuse for women to be rude, catty, and even slightly violent to people who always get on their nerves (but they've never had the guts to tell them before). *For the record, I AM female*" Then there's this quote, from the article Is PMDD real?: Some feminist psychologists like Caplan believe that the language surrounding PMDD is misleading and that its classification as a psychiatric disorder stigmatizes women as mentally ill and covers up the real reasons of women's anguish. "It's a label that can be used by a sexist society that wants to believe that many women go crazy once a month," Caplan explains. OmegaMom would deeply like to apply those aforementioned pliers to those particular women's extremities. To a smoker who has tried to quit smoking, or a heavy alcoholic who has tried to quit drinking, the "ants are crawling all over my body" description and the hair-trigger response should be very familiar. It is, in OmegaMom's viewpoint, a clue: this is a manifestation of withdrawal from some type of chemical dependency, NOT brainwashing by a male-dominated society. Here's a very cute graphic depicting the menstrual cycle. Pay particular attention to the drop in progesterone, coupled with (and masking) a similar drop in estrogen. Image hosted by Photobucket.com OmegaMom's theory is that women who suffer from severe PMS are particularly sensitive to chemical changes in their bodies. OmegaMom, herself, has a problem with many drugs--typical doses for people her size are too high--she responds quickly and thoroughly to drugs such as codeine and vicodin, and regularly uses less than the amount prescribed because of some bad experiences when she was young related to that typical-for-her-weight dosage. She hypothesizes that the drop in estrogen and progesterone which precedes the monthly bleed trigger withdrawal symptoms in women like her. It would be interesting to see if such women also are more likely to be addicted to nicotine, alcohol, drugs, or exercise. There is evidence that women who suffer from severe PMS are much more likely to suffer from post-partum depression, and depression in general. For the record, it ain't PMS for OmegaMom, she has passed the magical "one year" mark and is officially menopausal now. But the hormonal swings are still there sometimes; the only thing she can thank the Kozmik All for is that they're not there every three and a half weeks. The bad thing is that, since they're not tied to any rhythm any more, the mood swings are hard to predict and hard to counteract once you're in them (if you can look at your calendar and say to yourself, "Oh, three more days and I'm due", then you can take your suicidal depression and put it sort of outside yourself, saying, "It'll pass quickly"). Anyway, guys, PMS doesn't hit every woman out there. One size doesn't fit all. The jokes and what-not may fit OmegaMom and her ilk, but the feminist in me has to say, don't tar all woman with my feathers. Hopefully, the bitchiness will pass soon.
posted by Kate @ 1/18/2006 10:07:00 PM   5 comments

Here we come, a'Googlin'...
OmegaMom looked at her list of Google searches and decided it was worth sharing (mostly because she hasn't got a clue what to write about today). Latest is "erudite". This is because Cupid (a silly test site) uses Google for its searches. I was trying to locate the "Are You Erudite" test. OmegaMom is a true English Nerd, according to this test, scoring better than 94% of female folks her age. She searched on "button art" to see if there were any examples of button wall-hangings for Gigi. Couldn't find any; it seems that "button art" pulls up lots of sites for creating web-buttons, for creating artsy buttons that you wear, and for creating pin-buttons that you wear. There was the search on "to thine own self be true", just because (even though she scored so high on English erudition) OmegaMom couldn't remember whose quote that was. It looks like Shakespeare is indelibly inked on her brain; three of the last eight topics have had Shakespearean riffs on the title. This trio, "female politician shoes", "female world leader shoes", and "Cory Aquino shoes", was an attempt to remember the name of Imelda Marcos, for some comment on collecting shoes. It's amazing how much is written about female politicians and shoes. The pair "Maureen Dowd book" and "Maureen Dowd Are Men Necessary" was for my previous post, which ended up taking a totally different turn, so you may be seeing "To thine own self be true, part II" soon. Then there's the frantic search for horsie cut-outs and graphics. OmegaMom has this foolish plan to decorate OmegaDotter's bedroom with horsie stuff. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I have a bad habit of starting projects and never finishing? This is destined to be one. I searched on "horse applique pattern", "free horse pattern" (because OmegaMom isn't really into kitschy country horse quilts where you have to pay for the pattern), "horse graphic" (OmegaMom is glad that her "safe search" is on for that one), and, finally "quilted lizard", because the search for horsie applique patterns led to some really cool "accidental landscape" wall hangings done by a lady who has a business named "The Quilted Lizard". OmegaMom hearts Google, big time, even though they are the Evil Empire II. It's like having a well-indexed encyclopedia at your fingertips.
posted by Kate @ 1/17/2006 07:37:00 AM   1 comments

To thine own self be true
Being a (somewhat) feisty middle-aged mom, OmegaMom has little trouble speaking her mind. After a certain age, you become well aware of what makes you tick, what things are important to you, what you think is Good and Right. You no longer worry too much about what other people think of you; you no longer worry too much about your fashion style; and it takes a particularly egregious (isn't that a cool word? "Egregious". Yummy.) faux pas to make you feel embarrassed any more. Like, say, accidentally getting your skirt caught in your underwear after a visit to the ladies' room, so you're baring your ample ass to all and sundry. Or being fool enough to try to play the stereotypical "Für Elise" in the piano Master Class with the visiting master pianist, when you've just started playing it a week ago, couldn't play it properly if your life depended on it, and you have a perfectly good other piece ready and waiting (not that OmegaMom has done this, oh, no). In your teens and twenties, though, that supreme knowledge of who you are and what you stand for is often missing. Little things that other people say--often not even aimed at you--can send you off, cheeks burning, tummy tumbling, and thoughts churning. OmegaMom had sense enough not to make any commitments to another adult human being while she was still in that stage. She certainly would never agree to marry someone who had, as conditions, that she should turn her back on things important to her. Alas, this is not true of everyone. A friend on a board I frequent recently told a story of a young lady she works with, who is getting married soon. This young lady is a born teacher, one of those people who parents wish populated each and every school out there. She infuses her children's lesson plans with interest and discovery; her students love learning in her class. She loves her career with a passion. But she also loves this man, who she is marrying. Her husband-to-be, a conservative religious type, has commanded that she stop working as soon as she marries him. Her in-laws-to-be, also conservative religious types, back him up. She wept on my friend's shoulder as she told this story. Ah, God, this makes OmegaMom's heart break. How can this be love? Children, come sit by OmegaMom. Yes, right there. (She pats the sofa beside her.) If you are single still, and someone is becoming the apple of your eye, you have a passion, and the AOYE tries to force you into a choice ("It's either me or that"), stop. Think. Think long and hard. Is this the type of person you want to spend your life with? If this person dismisses your passions so quickly and easily, what other areas of your life will this person want to control? Will you be allowed to make your own choices, or will you be treated as a child (a loveable child, but a child nonetheless) in this relationship forever? Shakespeare said, "This above all: To thine own self be true." It can be taken too far. You can subsume yourself in your own passions--but then it is your choice. But do not let someone else, someone who purports to love you, constrain you like that. Is it better to be a bird with clipped wings, just so someone will love you? OmegaMom had a few relationships in her youth where she felt she was hiding herself, felt she had to toe the line to still be worthy of her AOYE's love. But, luckily, it made her so uncomfortable, so not herself, that she realized, in the depths of the night, that this other person didn't love her, but his idea of her. And though it took a while, she was able to find The Man who took her as she was, loved her warts and all. Don't settle for anything less. Edited to remove the "lonely hawk". Waaay too cliche.
posted by Kate @ 1/16/2006 08:59:00 AM   3 comments

Knitting the ravel'd sleeve
Sleep. Ask any new parent what the most important thing in life is, and you're likely to hear "sleep". Kids, bah. Ethics, bah. Peace in our time? Bah. Sleep. On the Chinese adoptive parents email lists, one of the most frequent questions posted is, "We just arrived back from China this week with our precious Bu-Bu, and now she won't sleep! She slept beautifully in China--what's changed her?! Help! We're desperate and looking for some suggestions! Signed, Sleep Deprived Regina in Ohio". This is followed closely by, "Our darling Xiao Mei has been home for (insert number) months, and she won't sleep in her crib any more! What can we do? We need help, because we're not getting any sleep any more! Signed, Sleep Deprived Julie in Albuquerque". Yesterday, OmegaMom foolishly crowed to the world at large about two things: predicted snow (6 to 10 inches) and the fact that OmegaDotter had actually slept through the night! Anyone who follows OmegaMom's commentary on life knows already that the predicted snow dribbled down to one to four inches (and now, maybe, just maybe, a trace, sigh). The sleep victory was, of course, immediately followed by a sleep defeat. OmegaMom was rousted awake a few times in the night as we played "Musical Beds". OmegaDotter goes to bed in her bed. OmegaMom and Mr. OmegaMom snuggle up together. OmegaDotter comes padding in at some point to join us in our slumber. Mr. OmegaMom tosses and turns, then evacuates the bed. OmegaDotter proceeds to do the Foot Thing to her mother. OmegaDotter wakes at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. on Sunday and starts pissing and moaning that she can't find her new horse. And on and on. So OmegaMom sits here at the computer bleary eyed and groggy, thinking longing thoughts of long...uninterrupted...soulful...sleep. Hours and hours of it. Days, even. Anyway, a word of advice to people adopting from China for the first time: The first two or three weeks home from China with your new child are going to be hellish. Here's a clue: China is on the opposite side of the world. Another clue: jet lag. So be prepared for your darling Whytnie to still be on China's clock. This means that she will be waking up and wanting to play at, oh, 1:30 a.m. Take heart: this particular aspect of parenthood is a passing phase; the generally accepted knowledge is that it takes one day per hour of time difference for jet lag to go away. This equates to, approximately, 12 days. So Whytnie should be back on your clock's schedule soon. HOWEVER. Oh, yes, there is a "however". Remember that Whytnie is now in a place she's never smelled, heard, seen before. She's probably used to sleeping with other people--her cribmates, her foster parents. Do OmegaMom and Whytnie a favor: don't expect her to settle right down in a cold, dark, quiet, different-smelling, empty room by herself right away. Give that child time...time is what s/he will need. Time to adjust to a place where no-one looks the same, no-one smells the same, the food is different, and she's (possibly) alone. OmegaMom's personal opinion is that most parents adopting children from orphanages should put the crib in their room, and expect it to be there for quite a while. Yeah, yeah, there's this lovely cutely decorated new-paint-smell nursery for the kiddo. But s/he doesn't care about that. She's scared and upset and her world has been turned upside down. Having her crib in your room lets her hear your noises when you sleep, and gives her a little bit of assurance that she's not alone. ("Alone" can be a very scary thing. OmegaDotter's worst fear is "being alone". When people in movies are left alone, it disturbs her. And this child has been with us for three years now.) If need be, do please consider either having the crib right next to your bed, or taking Whytnie into bed with you. You will not smush her (unless you're in the habit of sleeping drunk or stoned, or have a water bed). Take it from someone who's been there: being able to reach out, pat your child, and go, "Shhh, shhhh, Mommy's here," can be immensely rewarding for child and for parents. Y'see, this is quick and easy, and baby can go back to sleep right away, reassured, and, best of all, you can go back to sleep right away. Trust me, you learn pretty quickly to be able to do this practically in your sleep. Ahhhh. Sleep. Remember, no-one goes off to college still sleeping with Mommy.
posted by Kate @ 1/15/2006 09:30:00 AM   2 comments

Joe Btfsplk strikes again
Sigh. OmegaMom just had to post that we were going to get six to ten inches of snow. Har-de-har-har. We're now down to a predicted one to two inches of snow instead. Shoulda kept my bloody mouth shut.
posted by Kate @ 1/14/2006 05:54:00 PM   0 comments

Six to ten inches???
Git yer minds out of the gutter, folks. This is not a spam email. Snow! It's in the forecast! We've actually hit the 60% POP (probability of precipitation) point! For two days in a row! And, what's practically guarandamnteeing this will actually come to pass is the fact that OmegaGranny is hosting a G family gathering on Sunday! Woohoo! OmegaMom is doing the Snoopy dance right now! Driving on snow and ice! Yay!
The ostensible reason for the G family gathering is that Unka Bill, a dinkum bloke from Australia, is in the States for a visit. The sad reason behind his visit is that OmegaGranny called him and said he'd better come this year, because it might be the last chance he gets to see his mom. Great-Grandma's short-term memory is going swiftly, sigh. But Unka Bill, being the kind who always sees the glass as half-full, goes to visit her every day, and says it's like a brand-new visit each time.
OmegaMom has kept her eye on the news from the Great Plains with dismay lately. While we here have had a drastic lack of precip for the past, oh, five months, folks who live in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, have had none for much longer. The images of grass fires sweeping through small towns in OK is saddening; Mr. OmegaMom hales (hails?) from that part of the country, and OmegaMom is constantly on edge that some of the in-laws might be impacted by these fires.
Then there's the image of the 300-mile dust storm sweeping through northwestern Texas and western Oklahoma. This brings back memories of Lubbock. Springtime in Lubbock was always a time of dust storms mixed with hellacious thunderstorms. Mr. OmegaMom and I always called them "Wrath of God" storms; you could see them approaching for hours, and then they would hit. Typically, you'd end up with a layer of mud on the window screens and the car. God knows, out driving in the Trusty Justy during one of these events was a bad idea; TJ was (and is) such a light car that these winds would just skitter the car across the road. Lubbock, sitting on a huge plain (the Llano Estacado--Staked Plains--so named because the Spanish explorers had to pound stakes into the ground to keep track of where they had been already, because the landscape was so flat and featureless), is the recipient of windstorms that have had hundreds of miles of flatland to gather up steam. Think of a juggernaut of air, falling down to the ground from the mountaintops of New Mexico, and hitting flat land...and flat land...and flat land...for hundreds of miles. That airmass has a chance to build up a shitload of angular momentum. Then the cold, dry air (dry. Really, really dry.) slams right into nice, warm, moist airmasses oozing upwards from the Gulf of Mexico. This particular turn of events is called "The Dry Line", and is the cause of all those damned tornadoes that rip through the Great Plains in springtime. So weather was a Topic of Conversation in Lubbock. Mr. OmegaMom, coming from the Land of the Dry Line, was an avid tornado watcher. He tells tales of being a teen and going out with his buds in pickup trucks and chasing tornadoes (beer was involved). It's a wonder he's still alive. OmegaMom recalls one particularly nasty storm that hit Lubbock--the one where our bosses had us evacuate down to the safe in the basement. That evening, when both Omegas had arrived home, not-then-Mr. OmegaMom regaled OmegaMom with tales of him and his graduate assistant--rather than safely hiding in the basement--barrelling up the stairs to the rooftop of their Texas Tech building and watching the roiling, spiraling, GREEN (anyone from the Midwest knows what "green" means in terms of clouds and weather) clouds directly above them, dipping tentative hooks downward. OmegaMom was Not Amused that evening.
Minor Accomplishment of the Week: OmegaDotter spent the entire night in her own bed!
posted by Kate @ 1/14/2006 10:30:00 AM   0 comments

I just spent a half hour...
...giggling about earlobes with OmegaDotter. She had finished her bath & come into the office & gotten on my lap, while waiting for Mr. OmegaMom to get into dry clothes (she splashes him...not me, OmegaMom is a Mean Mommy and doesn't allow it). She pulled my earlobe and asked, "What's this?" I answered, "That's my earlobe." She giggled, that belly giggle that little children get. "Earlobe! That's funny!" She pulled it again. Asked the question again. I answered again. She giggled again. And we got to the point where we were both giggling, pulling each other's earlobes, and shouting, "Earlobe!" at each other. Man, 4-year-olds (almost) are so much fun.
posted by Kate @ 1/13/2006 09:15:00 PM   1 comments

The 'It' Girl
I was tagged by Johnny this morning. Johnny looked through his blogroll for folks who haven't been tagged; I was one. What were you doing 10 years ago? January, 1996. OmegaMom was having a grand ol' time working for a small firm in Lubbock, Texas, helping design and program an (at the time) revolutionary online backup system, learning all about C++, the MFC, the ins and outs of source code change control (we were using a three-ring binder, pen and paper, then discovered Source Safe). OmegaMom learned many valuable lessons at that job, including "people who have made millions as construction contractors simply do not comprehend that building software is not the same as building a building". They should have read this article... The Omegas had just completed their first year of living together. OmegaMom no longer got roaring drunk and accusing Not-then-Mr. OmegaMom of ruining her life by taking her away from (beeeautiful) San Francisco and ensconcing her in (booooring) Lubbock whilst he completed his graduate degree. In fact, Not-then-Mr. OmegaMom had managed to demonstrate to OmegaMom that one can find beauty anywhere, that lying in bed at night listening to enormous flocks of Canadian geese pass overhead during their migration is a soul-enhancing experience, that one can find topography even around Lubbock (it's hard, but it's there), and that there's a thriving arts scene that somehow flourishes amongst the square yellow-brick one-story ranches with one row of tulips out front. The Omegas were just beginning to realize that there Might Be A Problem with spawning little Omegas. OmegaMom promptly turned to Usenet newsgroups, discovered misc.kids.pregnancy, and learned a boatload about the female reproductive system--which, she is embarrassed to admit, she had little to no knowledge about prior to that, aside from the fact that women had periods, that babies were made via sex, sperm, and eggs, and that somewhere along the line the whole shebang stopped, which was called menopause. What were you doing 1 year ago? One year ago, OmegaMom was thanking the Kozmik All that 2004 was over and done with, that Mr. OmegaMom seemed better, that OmegaDotter was happy and healthy, and that her self-imposed "I will stay at this administrative assistancing job for one full year so they get their money's worth out of me, then look for a computer job again" sentence was almost over with. Five snacks I enjoy
  • Toasted English muffins with peanut butter
  • Freshly popped popcorn
  • Donuts from Albertsons
  • Peanut M&Ms
  • A sop to the healthy eaters out there: crudites with dilly dip
Five songs to which I know all the lyrics
  • You're My Little Chu-Chi Face, from Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang
  • Crystal, by Fleetwood Mac
  • Take Me Home, Country Roads, by John Denver
  • Jukebox Hero, by Foreigner
  • Sunset Grill, by Don Henley
  • (This doesn't count a kazillion Christmas carols and children's songs)
Five things I would do if I were a millionaire
  • Buy 40-100 acres around here someplace and build an Earthship
  • Build a stained-glass making studio for Mr. OmegaMom
  • Fund college funds for various nieces, nephews, and the dotter(s)
  • Have a housemaid. Hmmm. This one should go first.
  • Build a holistic spa (an entire post will be devoted to this one day)
Five bad habits
  • Don't be grossed out: I bite my toenails
  • Smoking
  • The Internet
  • A sad tendency to not complete projects
  • Getting out of touch with old friends and relatives
Five things I like doing
  • Hiking
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Sleeping
  • Baking
Five things I would never wear, buy or get new again
  • Opium perfume
  • Toe socks
  • Clip-on earrings
  • New central-heating system from a particular company in my town. Grrr.
  • Any car; you can always find a car a year or two old which has been driven around town by a little old granny.
Five favorite toys
  • The Creative Zen, of course
  • New laptop
  • Digital camera
  • Don't laugh: Salad Shooter (the Omegas use this thing All. The. Time.)
  • Google Groups Advanced Search, replacement for DejaNews, which has been an invaluable companion for OmegaMom's computing work. If you have a question about something, you can be sure someone else has asked that question already, and probably been answered.
So here's the deal: Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot a la carter afrindiemum An Elephant's Gestation So, it's come down to this OmegaMom Then select five people to tag: Gigi Miss Cellania Halushki Lemony The Desert Rat Tag! You're it!
posted by Kate @ 1/13/2006 11:02:00 AM   3 comments

In your dreams
OmegaMom has what is, to her, a very interesting dream life. (This would be in a sleep-dreaming type way, not in a "Oh, darling, I live such a dreeeeeaaaaam life!" type way.) One facet of OmegaMom's dreams is that the subject has to be well-entrenched in OmegaMom's life before it shows up in her dreams. For instance, about six months after accepting her latest job, the job environment, boss, and various office characters suddenly began appearing in her dreams; another example is Mr. OmegaMom thrusting himself into her dreams within a week of her meeting him, an indicator of just how serious the whole thing was. OmegaMom has suddenly begun dreaming of Going To China to Meet a Dotter again. The latest dream featured the lovely idea of travel companions having to spend six weeks in commune-type living in Some City in China prior to receiving their children. The city bore an odd resemblance to the Chicago of OmegaMom's dreams (which is nothing like real-life Chicago). Some high points of the communal living: a visit to an orphanage, which was an industrial version of the Forbidden City, with children of all ages standing like statues scattered around the grounds in some form of performance art (truly--the orphanage director was quite proud of the performance); also, the drama of the female half of two of the couples discovering (after being in quite close quarters for a few weeks) that they were Sworn Enemies on one of the email lists, and duking it out. Really. It was quite the scene; it included screaming accusations and tearing of hair. Way back when, when the Omegas were waiting for OmegaDotter, the dream du jour was always about referral time. Once, the Omegas, with their traveling companions, were led to two pillars in the midst of a high plain; when it was the Omegas' turn to receive their baby, the powers that be graciously handed them a kitten. Now. OmegaMom, in real life, is nonplussed at this. Her response is likely to be, "Excuse me? We took nine months to fill out reams of paperwork...waited 14 months for referral...flew halfway across the world...and you're giving us a cat?!?! We already have three of the creatures; we don't need another!" In the dream, of course, the Omegas oohed and ahhed and cooed over the kitten, carefully examined each of its precious little paws, stroked the soft pads, petted her, and happily went on their way. Another referral dream had us back on that same plain, between the same two pillars, waiting until the last minute, only to be abandoned there, sans child. OmegaMom remembers dust, and wind, and everyone else climbing back on the bus, leaving us behind. Waking up from that one was pretty awful. A third referral dream had us meeting a nine-year-old, who promptly darted away and led us through a very odd, very dark underground amusement park. OmegaMom suspects that one was prompted by many discussions of attachment issues in adopted children. But it seems OmegaMom is now in for a long run of various dreams about China (nothing like real China, of course), dreams of referrals, and, probably, dreams about OmegaDotter's response to DotterSecunda. In real life, we are about to cross a Rubicon: our pre-intake interview with the local adoption agency is on Monday Tuesday. This is to determine whether our social worker (a lovely lady) thinks that we've left the sturm und drang of 2004 safely behind us. I'll keep you posted.
posted by Kate @ 1/12/2006 11:09:00 PM   1 comments

Disaster recovery are us
OmegaMom would like to say hi back to all & sundry who posted a comment on the ol' bloggeroo. (Hi!) About 10% of the hitters on this blog shouted out, so it was a better response rate than most direct mailings! Blogging is an interesting biz; one doesn't necessarily get feedback, so sometimes it feels like you're just bellowing out your rants to the wind. An exercise in self-centered venting, as it were. OmegaMom must say, though, that not posting for a day causes her hits to plummet. Who'd'a thunk it?! The posting lack is due to Big Things at work, aka Disaster Recovery. A hard drive crash on the server; spamspamspamspam on the main email server in the ITS department; nasty virus attack; and a bit of weirdness on the big database in my department kept me hopping. On the homefront, Mr. OmegaMom has been out in the field (not out in left field, mind you, though he's there quite often, one of the things that makes me love him so much). As a result, OmegaMom has been a single mom for a few days, which always (a) makes her grumpy, and (b) cuts into her luxurious clicking time. I have some topics noodling around in my head, so there will be more substance soon.
posted by Kate @ 1/12/2006 07:42:00 PM   0 comments

Out, out, damn lurkers!
OmegaMom hopes that little doodad over to the right there catches your attention. In the interests of National Security and Our Precious Freedoms, OmegaMom urges you to follow the teeming hordes (as she has done) and post a comment to celebrate National Delurking Week. People who do not post will be pursued and persecuted. They will compile a file on you, including all the books you have purchased, read in libraries, read online, or even indicated a passing interest in to a casual acquaintance. Non-commenters will be added to the National Do Not Fly List, as they are obviously Up To No Good. Not only are They watching you, but OmegaMom is, too. In the interests of total peace and harmony, OmegaMom assures you that you do not have to post anything. If you are a congenital lurker, too shy to push that "Post" button, OmegaMom will contact the FBI and request a stay of execution for you. In other words, no pressure, dudes, comment or not as you please, I just thought it was cute. Oh, yes, OmegaGranny gets special dispensation, 'cause I know she lurks here, and she comments to me via email.
posted by Kate @ 1/11/2006 01:03:00 PM   10 comments

Soundtrack
Wanting to encourage OmegaDotter to enjoy music, the Omegas early on started playing music in the car as we traveled to and fro. Mr. OmegaMom, being an ardent fan of early '60s rock'n'roll, selected some cassettes (yes, cassettes. Our cars live in the dark ages). So there was Dion, wailing, "Why Must I be a Teenager in Love?", extolling the carefree bachelor life of "The Wanderer", and warning people away from "Runaround Sue". It was when OmegaDotter started singing the words of some of these songs that we realized that...um...maybe it wasn't a good idea for her to get her ideas of what love is all about from these songs? Every single one of the songs that was being sung was all about how girls weren't any good, that it was good for guys to have a girl in every city, dumping girls for no real reason was good, etc. So Mr. OmegaMom went out and bought a tape of the Mamas and the Papas. Nice soft counter-culture music without the misanthropic message of a lot of the rockin' greaser guys. All the leaves are brown And the sky is grey I've been for a walk On a winter's day I'd be safe and warm If I was in L.A. California dreamin' On a winter's day This tape has become our soundtrack while motoring. OmegaMom is sick to death of the Mamas and the Papas now. "Mamas and the Papas?" asks OmegaDotter as soon as we get into the car. Omegamom looks back at her, tilts a questioning eyebrow, and gives her an old-fashioned look. OmegaDotter relents: "Please?" Omegamom pushes the well-worn tape into the player. Monday, Monday Can't trust that day Monday, Monday Sometimes it just turns out that way OmegaMom's dream of the MP3 player is to get an auto accessory that jacks into the music system so that we can play some other music. Like OmegaDotter's beloved Turtles! Or the Beach Boys! Or, goodness knows, anything else. But right now, here comes "The 'funny song', Mama! It makes me laugh!" John and Mitchy were gettin' kind of itchy Just to leave the folk music behind; Zal and Denny workin' for a penny Tryin' to get a fish on the line. In a coffee house Sebastian sat, And after every number they'd pass the hat. McGuinn and McGuire just a-gettin' higher in L.A., You know where that's at. And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass. The saving grace is that the song that OmegaDotter knows all the lyrics to is "Make Your Own Kind of Music". Now, this song is an anthem to being true to yourself--something that OmegaMom wants to imbue into OmegaDotter so deeply that she will never forget that it is truly important: But you've gotta make your own kind of music sing your own special song, make your own kind of music even if nobody else sing along. This Sunday, returning home from a visit to OmegaGranny, OmegaMom popped the good ol' cassette in, and the tunes started playing. We drove on in the dark, passing cars and seeing stars in the night. As we turned left onto Rural Highway to take it the 15 miles to Interstate Highway, and left the lights of small southwestern town behind, OmegaDotter piped up from the back: "Turn it off, Mama. I don't want it on." OmegaMom practically had a heart attack. What, the dotter doesn't want to listen to the Mamas and the Papas??? The world must be tilting on its axis. "Turn it ooooffff." OmegaDotter's drowsy voice said again. OmegaMom popped the cassette out. We drove on through the dark, peaceful and quiet.
posted by Kate @ 1/10/2006 12:07:00 PM   0 comments

"Get it?" "Got it!" "Good!"
A rant. So the inevitable "China Doll" discussion has reared its ugly head on APC again. As usual, those who have been around a long time mention the fact that "China Doll" is seen by many Asian-Americans, particularly Asian-American females, as being derogatory and stereotypical, and usually used in conjunction with ooky sexual connotations. As usual, there are those who see absolutely nothing wrong with the term "China Doll", have no truck with others finding it demeaning, and say, "As long as it's said with loooooove, I don't see how anyone can object!" OmegaMom goes cross-eyed when she reads these posts. In fact, there are a few particular posts that make OmegaMom want to reach through the computer screen, pull the posters out through it, give them a good solid one-two shake, then get them in a headlock and give them a GREAT BIG NOOGIE! (When informed of this irrational feeling on OmegaMom's part, Mr. OmegaMom snickered and commented, "Oh, yeah, that's a great way to solve the world's problems!" Harrumph. He just doesn't recognize truly World Saving Ideas when they snuggle up beside him in bed at night, that's all.) In separate off-line email exchanges with a number of Asian-American females who have adopted from China, sparked by the recurrent "China Doll" discussion, these separate women have told me that (a) they are tired of hitting their head against the wall of people ignoring, downplaying or pooh-poohing their personal experiences and that of their friends, and (b) a lot of the Asian-Americans who have adopted from China who started out on the bigger lists feel marginalized and isolated from and by the larger Caucasian adoptive community. OmegaMom doesn't get it. There you are, people with FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE are telling you they have PERSONALLY been subjected to boorish street commentary a la "Ooooh, sexy little China Doll, come give me a f*ck!", and you're saying to them, "Well, it's different when you say it playfully and with love!" Hey, reality check here! You're getting commentary from Asian-American females. Guess what your daughter is?!?! She's a...drum-roll, please!...Asian-American female! There are loads of perfectly fine pet names for little girls. How about: Punkin', dumpling, sweetpea, bao-bao, half-pint, baby-doll, pookie, sugar, honey-chile, xiao wa-wa...pick a term, any term. Just maybe think a little harder about using a term that Asian-American females have clearly said makes them feel objectified and turned into a submissive sex-object. Noogies. That's what's needed. Lots and lots of noogies. Picture OmegaMom storming off, wildly waving her fists around her head.
P.S. OmegaMom is NOT saying that no-one can use the phrase. Go right ahead. Just be prepared for your child to possibly be one of the folks who says something like this when she's grown-up: "She said it would be cute to have all these China-doll grandchildren," Chau said. "So, thank goodness for my grandmother's racism, because otherwise I wouldn't be here."...just substitute "my mother" for "my grandmother" and "children" for "grandchildren".
posted by Kate @ 1/09/2006 05:23:00 PM   5 comments

Stealing our thunder
On this day last year (admittedly an exceptional year for hereabouts), our area had recorded 82 inches of snow since September 1. This year, we've had "a trace" since September 1. The norm is for 35 inches of snow by now. We've had 2.25 inches of precipitation since September 1; the norm is for 8.25 inches by now, and by this time last year we had had 16.5 inches of total precipitation. Each week, OmegaMom pulls up the 7-day forecast from NOAA. Once every two weeks, there's a day that has lovely "party cloudy" weather icons, and a POP (probability of precipitation) approaching 50%. Then, as the days go by, and that day gets closer, the POP drops...and drops...and drops. A week ago, there was rain in the state. A bit. On the radar pictures, there was a swath of moisture that started at the southwest corner of the state and marched directly across to the northeast corner. There was a divot out of this stretch of clouds that marked the town where the Omegas lived. Typically, the fire season starts hereabouts in early May. This year, we can feel it in the air: fire season is going to be early. In the eight years we've lived here, OmegaMom has become quite good at triangulating between plumes of smoke and the location of the hippy-dippy one-time vacation enclave in the woods where the Omegas live as she drives down the highway. If the plume of smoke is north of the highway, all is well for the Omegas (not necessarily for others). If the plume is south of the highway, OmegaMom's keen, razorlike mind focuses in and determines just how close it is to home. Last year was a luxurious mental break from the constant niggling worry during May, June, late September and October. So much water had made its way to the area that Natural Lake had water in it for the first time in years; the Forest Service had had to open up the spillway from Upper Dam Lake to Lower Dam Lake, and area inhabitants had gone to the spillway to gawk, incredulously, at the roar of water spilling out. The woods stayed soggy until late in the year; the roads and trails up the mountains were still closed in July due to snow and mud. But now...now it's looking pretty crispy critters out there. Of course, this isn't going to do any good for the problem with the pine bark beetle, which two and a half years ago had accounted for the death of up to 4 million ponderosa and pinyon pines in the state. OmegaMom understands that there are stay-at-home parental units in the Oregon area who would kill for an end to rain this year. OmegaMom assures them that she would equally kill for a return to more normal precipitation here. Maybe we can all trade?
posted by Kate @ 1/09/2006 02:00:00 PM   0 comments

The alpha and the omega
OmegaGranny asked, in an email, where'd I come up with "OmegaMom"? Did it have anything to do with the IBM software of the same name? (No.) Mr. OmegaMom asked the same thing this week. OmegaMom has been around the world of internet bulletin boards for a long time. Seeking information on pregnancy and childbirth, she hit the Usenet newsgroups (this was 12 years ago, sigh). Then she moved on to mailing lists. Then she discovered parenting websites such as iVillage, and the forums on those websites. It seemed there was a subgroup of moms who were going for the "Golden Vagina" award on all these arenas. (OmegaMom can't take credit for the phrase; it's been around for a while, with variations being "tightest vagina of them all", "brass ovaries", "uberMom" and more.) AlphaMoms ferry kids from one activity to the next on a constant basis. They read to their burgeoning uteri as their AlphaBabies are gestating. They play Baby Mozart to their fetuses, and then in the crib, to stimulate their AlphaBabies' neural pathways. They breastfeed to ensure that extra IQ point or two, to smooth the way to Harvard. They feed their babies only homemade baby food, using only organically grown vegetables from the local health-food store. The best schools, the best after-school programs, the best art classes, music classes, dance classes, French au pairs, and on and on. Don't get me wrong: I have lots of online friends who have done one or more of these different things; it's the attitude that makes OmegaMom's eyes bug out when encountering true Alpha Moms. The implicit understanding that if you don't do these things, well...you're just a Bad Mom and Not Sacrificing Enough. OmegaMom, let's face it, is lazy. Being an AlphaMom seems like so darned much work. Case in point: This article, about a lady name of Isabel Kallman, who embodies this type of uber-competitive woman. It spawned much eyerolling and "tight vagina" remarks on various internet sites that OmegaMom frequents. In counterpoint, there was the coterie that claimed that no-one rolls their eyes and gnashes their teeth about men doing this kind of thing (100-hour work weeks, go-go-go CEO approach to life, etc.). OmegaMom's response to that is, I wouldn't want to be an AlphaMom, and I sure as heck wouldn't want to marry someone like that, either. And, from one or two women whom OmegaMom recognizes as Alpha types, came some impassioned defenses that came right out and said that the Omegas were just jealous, or defensive because they felt that they weren't doing enough. Um. I read that article, and I think, "But where's the relaxation? Where's the 'let's sit on the futon and eat junk food and watch movies together' mode? Where's the 'let a kid be a kid' downtime? Anyway, OmegaMom's philosophy of parenthood is to read the snot out of the subject, then to just muddle through, doing the parenting thang by guess and by golly. So I picked the title OmegaMom out of a rueful acceptance of the fact that I will never be an AlphaMom, will never understand the go-go-go, go-for-the-finest mentality, and my children will be just children to me, not an Olympic sports event.
posted by Kate @ 1/07/2006 06:15:00 PM   2 comments

About Me
Name: OmegaMom
Home: Southwest
About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 4-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.
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