Water Owl's Movements

A mom and writer with a movement disorder, a CCI service dog, a daughter and a son

A Yule Hello with Christmas pudding and brussel sprouts

Posted by thida on December 23, 2011

The wheel of the year turns and I had a revelation through Google. I rashly volunteered to get the Christmas pudding for my family this year. It was rash because I volunteered on Monday. I thought I had plenty of time to get the pudding from Amazon. Unfortunately all Amazon puddings are sold out, so I was searching British shops online that charge $11 just to ship it by Christmas.

Then Castor reminded me that I found Christmas pudding at some local shop. I had no clue where. I searched various shops websites and found no mention of Christmas pudding. Castor thought it was at Andronico’s. He did a google search on Christmas pudding and Andronico’s. And lo and behold on the first page is a link to my blog that says I bought Christmas pudding at Andronico’s. I suddenly remembered how useful blogging is to remember such facts useful to me and perhaps others. Andronico’s now closed in my area, but this year we found Christmas pudding at Draeger’s. My mom’s favorite is Wilkin & Son’s Tiptree. It comes in an earthenware bowl with a cloth. It also comes in a blue box with silver letter that bears the royal seal of Elizabeth II. If you wish to impress your aged English relation, this is the one to buy.

This Christmas for the first time, we’ll be making vegetables. Little T and Special K will top and cross the brussel sprouts. They’ll hack off large bits of sprouts, but will enjoy themselves immensely. They both love brussel sprouts.

It’s ironic. I truly loathed brussel sprouts as a child. We only had brussels sprouts prepared one way – boiled. I remember my mom had me sit at the big dining room table with one brussel sprout. I cried for what seemed like an hour until finally she relented. As a young adult, I ate one brussel sprout a year at Christmas to see if I liked it. I never did. And in my late thirties, I gave up trying.

Then Castor made roast brussel sprouts with bacon and while I wouldn’t say I like it i. I at least tolerate it enough to eat a reasonable helping. Brussel sprouts used to be something I only had at Christmas and Thanksgiving, but now we’ve had roast brussel sprouts at just family dinners.

I think maybe I’ve been going about blogging the same way. I’ve been feeling like blogging should be done a certain way, regularly, with an audience in mind, on a particular topic, and above all good writing.

I never found this particularly fun. I can write well, but I think this requires editing. I don’t really have time or energy. Closer to the truth is I don’t want to spend time and energy creating a platform, presence or otherwise doing anything than blathering on when I really should be writing my novel. So I’ve decided I will just blather on.

I started to put down what I tend to blather on about, but I’m sure you can find that out for yourself. Feel free to blather back at me if you feel like it.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

A farewell pose

Posted by thida on April 5, 2009

I should have left a note at the door or something.

I stopped blogging in September. My first service dog Hermione was on her way to retiring. I knew it and it loomed large and it was completely unbloggable mostly because I didn’t want her puppyraisers to find about it other than the CCI approved way since I certainly didn’t know what to say.

All is copasetic. Hermione’s living with her puppyraisers as their pet and having a wonderful time. I have a successor service dog named Tovi who’s just fab. I could have blogged this back in February when it all happened.

But I just didn’t feel like it. I’d start a post and then never post it. I got an email from Blog Her ads that they were closing my account. I’m sad about it, because it represents a departure from the momblogger community if I ever belonged, but not sad enough to post.

But I held an Oscar at my daughter’s school district fundraisers. Just briefly because it’s really heavy. In our group photo, Tovi’s gazing right at the Oscar like she knows she won it. She certainly has won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Assistance Dog.

Several months later…(I can be a slow thinker) and I realize what’s happened. My daughter’s learning to read precipitated the end of this blog. My daughter’s extremely kind, but until I became a mother, I myself didn’t understand how hard it is and how fiercely I love my children.

I don’t regret anything I’ve written, because it was my truth at the time. I do regret hurting anyone’s feelings, because that was never my intention. A blog also has the unique capacity to capture one’s feeling and thoughts at moment in time, but freeze them as if they were forever.

And so I say farewell to you on this blog. Thank you for all your comments. Most of you have been very sweet. Of course I’ll be elsewhere on the Internet. I’ve been online since the mid 80’s and am too stuck in my ways to stop now.

You can also read my essays “Gimp Geek” in the anthology She’s Such a Geek and “Popeye” in My Baby Rides the Short Bus appearing this winter.

Posted in Canine Companions for Independence, Life is essentially funny | Leave a Comment »

Pokemon resolves my daughter’s gender issues

Posted by thida on September 18, 2008

My daughter started first grade three weeks ago. She now has a female classmate who also loves Pokemon. Since that time I’ve heard not one peep about her being uncomfortable about being a girl.

Posted in Special K | Leave a Comment »

Political commentary from my six year daughter

Posted by thida on September 17, 2008

My daughter watches political ads with me and hears us talk and here’s her political commentary. I find it both amusing and insightful.

“Obama is too famous.” (she says this one over and over) “I don’t want to vote for a president who’s too famous.”

“I want a president who will protect the environment. Why do you say that McCain won’t protect the environment He says he cares about the environment?”

“McCain wants to reduce spending.”

As you might be able to tell from these remarks, she’s a McCain supporter. She’s disappointed she can’t vote. McCain had some appeal as a moderate Republican (particularly in his trade policy) for me until he brought on Palin (“I can see Russia from my window”.)

I feel perhaps weird saying this as feminist, but I can’t get over how strange and artificial her appearance is which is matched by her lies about her records. She supported the bridge to nowhere until she didn’t. As apparently, she did a decent job of reducing earmarks in Alaska. Why lie about her record unless it’s a cheap ploy to get folks to attack her and then she can say that she’s being attacked for being a woman?

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

My daughter wants to be a boy

Posted by thida on August 12, 2008

My 6 year-old daughter says “I want to be a boy. She says “I don’t fit in the gender” for the following reasons:

  • Doesn’t like pink and purple and likes black
  • Likes rock
  • Doesn’t like Barbie
  • Likes Pokemon
  • Likes video games
  • Hates princesses

Please give her examples of girls like her. Thanks! LOL

She forgets all the sterotypical girl thing she likes such as art, writing notes, gymnastics, flowers, and reading books about fairies and pound puppies.
I know there are some kids who are genuinely questioning their gender. I think my daughter is more stuck in gender stereotypes which is fairly typical for a six-year old.

Posted in Special K | 4 Comments »

TV my drug of choice

Posted by thida on July 20, 2008

I confess tv is my drug of choice when life is stressful. When things are bad with Little T, I watch a lot of tv. In the hospital, at home holding him being human pillow, I watched a lot of tv. When life gets too overwhelming and talking about it just won’t help, I watch tv. Being a Silicon Valley mom, I have a Tivo, so I only watch tv of my choice. The tv my kids watch is always educational.

As drugs go, tv is wonderful, the best. It lets you forget about life for a while. It relaxes you. It produces a trance like state similar to that found in a good narcotic. Then you can turn the thing off,and except for perhaps wasting some time, there are no side effects. And you might even learn something.

The righteous parents who decry how tv rots children’s brains must have forgotten how much tv they watched as kids. The studies that show kids IQs dropping or speech delays with a few hours of tv a week seem extremely flawed to me. They are often based on self-reported data. Sure if you sit your child in front of the tv all damn day, their brain will rot. Not necessarily because of the tv watching, but because kids need stimulation besides tv.

Or maybe the parents of kids with problems sit them in front of tv because they don’t know what else to do with them. These parents will probably not admit in a survey that their child watches tv all day. Instead they’ll respond ‘a few hours a week’ like the rest of us.

Both my children watch tv as part of a balanced diet of activities. Special K also eats treats as part of a balanced diet of food. I feel sorry for those kids who never get to watch tv. I regard them the same as the child who never got to eat anything sweet growing up. She was always sneaking candy, because it was this forbidden treat. Once your kids go to school, you can not escape tv or sweet things, so you may as well teach your kids to be responsible consumers.

We don’t watch commercials, though sometimes we zip by them. I’ve told my daughter how ads make things frequently look better than they are and people are trying to sell things. She notices ads all the time anyway. Ads are not restricted to the tv. Step outside and billboards are everywhere. Another silly argument for avoiding tv, shot down.

The Tivo saved my breastfeeding. Sure breastfeeding is magical for five minutes, but then your baby breastfeeds for another fifteen to twenty minutes. I had limits to how long I could stare at my baby’s guzzling mouth and the back of my baby’s head.

The Baby Einstein video or any video has allowed me to regain my sanity during the midafternoon crazies when the kids are getting way too punchy and I’m too tired to wind them down myself. The alternative is me yelling at them or putting them screaming in their crib or bed. Instant calm. We all relax.

I’m not saying hand over the remote control to your toddler and let her watch hours of tv unsupervised, but this parent is really tired of reading about how tv or any technology is the cause of a host of ills and therefore should be avoided. Cars accidents are a leading cause of death for children. Nonetheless I drive my children in cars everyday. No one suggests banning children from cars.

I believe my job as a parent is to use technology responsibly. I use tv like any other parenting tool I have. I have no problems with tv rating systems. I do have a problem with parents who expect the rating system to supervise their children when they use tv instead of themselves and then make it harder for me to have access to tv. Unlike a movie on the big screen, it costs nothing but time to watch a tv show.

I personally have watched every show my kids have watched, not every episode, but every show. I plan to do this until my kids are old enough to be saavy media consumers. I don’t think any rating system can tell me what my child finds scary or disturbing. My daughter doesn’t find hospitals at all scary, so any medical drama is fine. However arguing is scary to her, so Cinderella is scary.

If I had to do slogans for tv education, it would go like this: “TV’s a powerful and useful drug, so please watch it responsibly.”

Posted in Politics, tv | Leave a Comment »

A healthy birth is not a US birthright

Posted by thida on July 20, 2008

I read a post that made me cry. It was about a child that died. But what stunned me and made me feel both sad and angry was the fact the post implied that babies are safe in the US. Unfortunately according to a CNN headline, the The U.S. has second worst newborn death rate in modern world.

My baby was almost one of the newborns that died. It took three hours to stabilize him, then he was whisked away to another hospital. My husband frantically followed the ambulance in our car. As I sat bereft in my maternity room, a doctor called and told me “We have to operate on him to save his life.” and “He probably won’t make it.”

My son has faced death several times since then and survived. I’m very thankful and I feel I must whisper this lest I jinx anything. –I start 2007 for the first time not worried he might die.

Like many newborns, a contributing cause of his problems was inadequate prenatal health care. A simple prenatal ultrasound done at any point in the second trimester would have shown there was a problem. And a vaginal birth was nearly impossible. His left arm had a massive tumor of 24 cm. Larger than the usual cervix dilation of 10cm. No one knew until his arm got stuck as he was born, and he was deprived of oxgyen for three minutes. In addition the strain of being squeezed during birth exacerbated his condition of low platelets and red blood cells. He was completely depleted of clotting factors by the time he emerged and almost died at birth.

For a time I was very angry about this but at least in my case I realised that no one would have expected me to carry this child to term. He with a blood tumor and me with a blood condition where half of my blood cells are smaller than others. It’s a miracle. So much of pregnancy is still unknown.

But when I tell women from other industrialized countries about the lack of ultrasound, they’re horrified. Most routinely offer two ultrasounds – one at about 13 weeks, and another at 20 weeks to look for physical abnormalities. At 13 weeks, my son’s tumor was too small. At 20 weeks, his left arm would have been visibly deformed.

We have good insurance. My husband is a software engineer. If my family was like millions of Americans, and my husband had the typical 80-20 insurance or no insurance, the costs of our son’s medical care would have bankrupted our family, even with my husband’s relatively high income. The billed costs (not the costs the insurance paid) for my son’s medical care are over a million dollars and are still ongoing. He visits a specialist about once a month (down from 5-6 a month). Billed cost:$300-500. The insurance pays about $60 a visit.

However the insurance company pays for very little of his care, because a dirty little secret is that while HMOs whine about the high cost of health care, they don’t actually pay for their most expensive patients. For very expensive patients like my son, the HMO has secondary insurance that pays for all of his care.

But we’re the lucky ones. The number one reason for bankruptcy is medical bills. The Washington Post states,”Most of the medically bankrupt were middle-class homeowners who had been to college and had responsible jobs — until illness struck.”

Before my daughter was born, I had this naive idea that “babies don’t die anymore”. Unexamined, but I suppose due to our advanced health care. Now I know several children who died as newborns. In fact two babies died while my son was in the NICU.

In all these cases, except one, there was a failure of our medical system. In all the cases I know about, the mom desperately tried and failed to get the help she needed. But due to bureaucratic problems designed to “save hospitals money” or lack of insurance, the mother didn’t get the medical help she needed in time. I dunno if getting help earlier would have prevented the baby’s death. I’m not a doctor. I do know it caused the mom a great deal of unnecessary anguish.

In my darkest moments I can imagine what it feels like to experience the loss of a child. But my experience was like gazing down at a huge abyss versus falling into it.

But I can’t imagine what life is like for the millions of expectant mothers who don’t have insurance and literally can’t afford to get adequate prenatal care. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have a child born with serious health problems and have to worry about money to pay for it all. I can’t imagine the anguish of wondering if my child would be healthier if only I had scraped enough money to go to the doctor earlier. I can’t imagine having to go into bankruptcy to pay for my family’s medical bills.

We have the latest and greatest neonatal intensive care, but do so little for most pregnant mothers.

I’m thankful for the good birth, the healthy birth I had with my older daughter. My daughter had jaundice, a common problem. For most babies, jaundice is resolved easily if treated quickly. In this country getting quick treatment for jaundice is a privilege I have due to my relative wealth, the fact that our family has health insurance unlike 13.4 of pregnant women. Furthermore, this March of Dimes article says the income thresholds for infants are often higher than for moms, so moms are denied health insurance as soon as their babies are born.

Our health system is the most expensive in the world and it is the worst in providing basic health coverage. It ends up costing a lot more, because an ounce of prevention often costs a lot less than treating something after the fact. The US spends billions of dollars treating NICU babies. I wonder how many are there simply because the mom wasn’t treated adequately during her pregnancy. It all makes me cry when I think about that. It also makes me very angry.

I’m definitely not a socialist. I believe in the free market. However I also believe a few things are public goods. For example most people accept the idea that everyone is entitled to a free education through high school, because it’s a public good. Everyone is worse off if education isn’t provided to everyone. I don’t understand why unlike the rest of the industrialized world, people in the US don’t feel that health care is also a public good. This country does accept health care is good for senior citizens and children in very low income families.

I originally wrote “Will it take a national health crisis before the country wakes up?” Then sadly I realized we already have one. The rate of premature births is rapidly rising. 1 in 8 babies are born prematurely. No one knows why. Based on my experience, I’d have to say a contributing cause is inadequate prenatal care, even for women who have insurance.

I read recently that Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (sadly a representative of my town) and a Democrat wants to ban spanking. Meanwhile our Republican governator is proposing state health insurance. I will not vote for Sally Lieber ever again although I have voted for her every single time she ran for office and I could cast a vote. Before this proposal I would never have voted for Arnie. However I will if he gets this though.

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments »

The NY Times and Bittman meets cutting back meat

Posted by thida on June 17, 2008

Jed blogged about cutting back on meat. Like him I don’t eat red meat. Unfortunately I didn’t find Mark Bittman’s article “Putting Meat back in its place” to be at all helpful for my needs though others may find it useful. Unlike Jed, I have seen plenty of articles that address cutting back on meat or becoming more vegetarian while on briefly touching on the reasons. Jed says the reasons aren’t addressed, but they are briefly mentioned. The vegetarian and sustainable and slow food movements are quite diverse. What is relatively rare about this article is it’s in the NY Times. We have arrived.

I don’t remember if Jed was a vegetarian, but I was actually an ovo vegetarian and a little pesco for four years. I gave it up because some of my red blood cells are smaller than others, a Burmese variation of Thalassemia (I tested negative for the known Thalassemia genes, but my blood cells are clinically different) and I became anemic. It is possible to get all one’s protein and iron from a vegetarian meal, but it’s harder and frankly I didn’t always have time.

One of the ways Bittman’s article didn’t help is that living in Mountain View, I do eat out at a lot of Asian restaurants. I dunno where he eats where the food doesn’t revolve around meat. It’s not in any down home Asian restaurant I know. I can’t help but think he only eats in fusion Asian restaurants.

Also his tips are based on the premise how to stop eating a meal that revolves around meat. Because I was a vegetarian, my life doesn’t revolve around meat. I feel satisfied with a meal that contains entirely vegetarian ingredients. For example one of my favorite lunches is Trader Joe’s Eggplant Parmesan. I also typically eat a vegetarian breakfast, though more for convenience. However at some point I need to eat a meal with a complete protein source and iron. I find most types of beans difficult to digest, except for soy. I really like soy if prepared properly but so many people can’t cook tofu properly and it tests rubbery and horrid. So that leaves chicken and pork for me.

I focus more on I buy food on buying from the farmers’ market if I can and organic. I have not done the calculations of the amount of waste and pollution the pork we buy from the farmers’ market generates versus a factory farmed vegetable from Safeway. I do also eat out and the food probably comes from sources I would not buy from. But as Bittman says it’s about creating a lifestyle you can maintain.

Posted in Politics, SF bay area eating | Leave a Comment »

My daughter’s first long summer and she doesn’t want to go to camp

Posted by thida on June 11, 2008

My daughter is “graduating” from Kindergarten on Wednesday and so will begin her first official summer. Sure she’s had summer breaks in preschool, but I always signed her up for summer preschool. Before any type of school, she simply grew as the seasons passed and I needed to put her in slightly different clothes. For the first time, she has three months of no school aka summer.

My daughter has opted only to sign up for swim lessons half an hour a week for the entire summer, three days of camp at Happy Hollow and one week of gym camp. So far she’s refused repeated offers of other camps and classes and the bay area offers a ton. I’m not sure whether to be pleased that she recognizes that acres of free time shrink smaller and smaller as one ages until they’re reduced to a precious commodity, or that she simply can’t comprehend how long a (relatively) hot summer can be. Her younger brother will be attending summer preschool part of the time, so it will be just me and her for some of the day.

On the other hand, my parents didn’t provide me, the eldest of three with much summer activities except for Rainbow Summer, a camp held in the blazing hot 100 degree heat of the park. I fainted once from heat exhaustion and went back again the next day. At the time, I didn’t appreciate it. And I’m sure from my mom’s point of view, she heard constant cries of “I’m bored” But I did learn how to entertain myself for hours at a time. I played countless board games with my brother and read a lot.

The kids have a library within walking distance. Plus we have a Wii, a Tivo and a bookshelf of DVDs. I swore I wouldn’t be one of those parents who bought a ton of DVDs and games for their kids, but somehow each slowly acreted. Okay Costco only sells them in bundles, but otherwise I’m not sure where all they came from.

Despite their wealth of toys, I still see the kids play the same games I used to like crawling around in boxes and making forts from blankets. And whoever claimed that kids are nature deprived hasn’t seen my kids’ rock and leaf collections that track dirt over the house.

Still, I wonder if this summer, I’ll hear “I’m bored” whined just once too often and become one of those parents desperate to sign their kid up for a summer camp, any summer camp. I hope not, but I’ll let you know.

Posted in Special K | Leave a Comment »

Wi Fit party helps dystonia?

Posted by thida on May 12, 2008

Frankly before I went to the Wi Fit party, I regarded Wii Fit as a bit of joke.  My husband showed me the Wii Fit parody.   "Wii Fit…a little plastic thing you stand on" "Don’t want to invest $3.19 for a hula hoop,  why not pick up a Wii for just $300, and enjoy the same fun.. without that annoying plastic hoop?"

But hey, if Nintendo and City Mama offers me free food and drinks and a moms night out, I’m game..literally.   I bought a Wii from going to her last Nintendo Wii party. 

The party started out a bit nervously as the Nintendo folks demonstrated the body check.  Okay they picked the skinniest mom in the room whose BMI was listed as underweight, but looking around, I thought few would volunteer for that part. 

Then it was on to various "Balance Games" We started with the ball game.  It sounds simple enough.  You shift your weight around to tilt a surface and move a ball into a hole.  Then you get more balls and more holes.  I could see it would improve my balance, because I was concentrating on moving the ball rather than on what I was doing with my body.  I did quite well in that game.  Okay not greatest game ever, but considering that I was improving my balance, it was not a bad way to do it.

The Wii Fit also liked how I performed a yoga position. Now that was a joke, because due to my disability, dystonia, I kept jerking and the little bubble that showed your center of balance kept shifting.  Still I got 3 out of 4 stars.  I don’t do much yoga in real life due to my jerking, and I don’t think I’ll be doing Wii Fit Yoga again. 

I enjoyed more a silly game where you’re a Mii (a Wii version of a person) dressed in a penguin suit and you’re on a iceberg and balance from side to side and catch fish.

I also enjoyed Slalom where like in real life you have to shift your weight from side to side to move your skiis. I was atrocious and big red FAILED showed on the screen.  For the ski long jump if you fail your Mii tumbles over and over in a big snowball.

I pondered whether the decision to keep the decidedly Japanese culture of winners and losers was a thought-out marketing decision, or simply a direct translation of the game from Japan as I watched women down Odwalla shots.  Now Odwalla makes you feel good.

I decided to play a "Fitness game." or "Step on the white thing"
according to the parody.  I know some geeks who use Dance Dance Revolution as exercise.  As the parody suggests, it was far slower which is good for a klutz like me, but also far less interesting.  The characters were all Miis and the music unvarying Ninetozak.  If you’ve played Donkey Kong or any Mario game, you’ve heard this music a thousand times.  I doubt I’d get up off the couch to step on the white thing.

I also glimpsed at the jogging game with its atrocious graphics, but I couldn’t watch it for long.  According to Beth, it takes your heartbeat, but so does a cheap heart monitor.  Another mom commented "I hate annoying guy waving at you" [when you jog]

I still didn’t like the hula hoop.  I never could hula as a kid and the
game mechanics proved even more awkward than doing it with a real hoop.

Proper body balance improves health and longevity and I used to literally lose my balance and fall down.  I now have a service dog who helps me with balance. 

I got home and talked it over with my husband.  He said the Wii Fi will be about $90.  That’s cheaper than a physical therapy appointment or a course at the chiropractor.  If the Wii Fit does improve my balance, it will be worth it. 

In terms of cardiovascular exercise, the Wii Fit pales in comparison to the shiny metal of standard gym equipment, but then so many Americans need to just move every day.  Maybe moving on a white plastic thing as part of a game will help.

Posted in Geeking Out, Jerking as a way of life | Leave a Comment »