Sunday, March 27, 2011

Seeking Calm (Hopeful Parents)

I'm over at Hopeful Parents today, writing about anxiety again (and my first attempt at meditation).  I'm tired of the anxiety and I'm tired of writing about it. I figure you might be tired of reading about it too, so after I drafted that post last night I wrote a whole other, more hopeful, post about Oscar.  I'll share that here sometime this week...but the truth is the anxiety is ruling me right now, so that's what I posted after all.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

De-lurking for Japan

Like many people I've spent the past few days reading and listening non-stop to news about Japan, and still it is all so inconceivable.  The effects of the earthquake and tsunami are utterly devastating and I think of all the people now living in fear of nuclear meltdown too and wonder how I would cope with all of that loss and uncertainty. A photo of a mom holding her young child up to be checked for radiation exposure sucked the wind out of me. 

Ruby asked a lot of questions tonight, particularly about the tsunami.  Her blue eyes grew big and round when I explained that the force and height of the water experienced in Japan's coastal areas would topple our house and push all the cars in the street around. She wanted to know how many people died and if we know any of them.  She wanted to know if anyone we know has ever even been to Japan.  She wanted to know how a tsunami starts in the first place. 

My doctor has been posting on her blog about possible radiation exposure where we live. It seems almost disrespectful to worry about some low level we might experience here but all the same I've increased our leafy green vegetables and sea vegetables to pump up our non-radioactive iodine levels.  I've heard before that most Americans are deficient in iodine but it never really seemed relevant before.  (Or, rather, so many other things seemed more urgent.)  Last night I made a lovely miso soup from homemade dashi with shitake, wakame, and kelp noodles and felt that the meal was both a tribute to the Japanese as well as the start of some protection against whatever radiation we may or may not be exposed to someday.

Two of my friends, Kate at mother words: mothers who write and Elizabeth at a moon, worn as if it had been a shell, are making a donation to the Red Cross for each reader who leaves a comment who has never left one before. I think that's a grand idea, and so I am borrowing it too.  If you are a new or infrequent commenter, leave one this time, and in a few days I will make a donation to the Red Cross.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Oscar's scoliosis has increased again -- he's now up to a 30 degree curve.  I know I've written here before about the various opinions we've received about how to treat.

Brace? Surgery? Exercise? Ignore?

Our main orthopedist - the one in San Francisco who always takes the time to talk to Oscar about their shared interest in basketball -- has been telling us since Oscar was three that rowing would be great for Oscar's back.  I didn't think a three year old who was just learning to pedal a tricycle could row, and neither honestly did he, but he did suggest therabands and tug-of-war and all kinds of other things that engage the back and core in the same way.

Well, we didn't do any of it.  We have done horseback riding in the summer, and swimming (which he also recommends) and various other things, but nothing consistent.

At this last appointment Dr. Gray gave me the choice -- brace again or drastically increase the exercise and see if there's improvement. He said that he treats dancers with scoliosis whose curves increase when they get injured and then improve as soon as they start dancing again. He believes in strengthening the muscles around the spine to help it align which is why we started seeing him in the first place.

And of course he recommend rowing, again.  I took Oscar to check out a WaterRower on Saturday. Oscar LOVED it. He quickly figured out the motion and then did not want to get off.  He talked about it for an hour afterward -- about how strong he's going to get and about how fun it is.  Ruby loved it too, which is great because she too has low trunk tone.  Honestly, we all need the extra core and upper body workout so I'm really excited. The machine gets great reviews, stores easily (perfect for our small house) and looks nice.  An added bonus -- the swishing of the water circulating in the drum is very soothing!

We're going to rent to start, just to make sure it doesn't stay folded up against the wall unused despite our best intentions. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011


We returned from Hawaii exactly a week ago tonight, and yes, it's taken me this long to post! The trip was in honor of Paul's parents' 70th birthdays and so we were there with them, Paul's two sisters and our niece -- and had such a wonderful time.

We stayed in condos overlooking a cove just around the corner from Napili Bay and enjoyed this amazing view from our balcony.  I loved falling asleep listening to the waves knocking against the rocks, and, a whole week later, I still miss the sounds of the water and breezes at all times of the day.

We went to a luau with the men and kids wearing these matching shirts and dresses.  (Notice that I'm hidden in the back in my boring brown dress). We all felt a little silly but it was fun.  Abe enthusiastically responded to the call for volunteers to learn the hula dance up on the stage, Ruby took dozens of pictures of the dancers, and Oscar was wide-eyed and keeping the beat with the drummers all evening long. 

We realized (thanks to facebook) that old college friends were staying just up the road from us and so we enjoyed an hour reminiscing over a glass of wine at sunset on a gorgeous point separating Napili from Kapalua.

We have at least five pictures of Oscar wearing this hat -- is it Paul's or Grandpa's? I'm not sure, but I think it looks best on Oscar.

Oscar wasn't so excited about getting into the ocean (except for snorkeling) but he swam laps in the pool, and then cozied up in towels on the pavement afterward.

We tried surfing, and I thought I'd be really good, but I really really wasn't. Abe did well, and so did Paul's sister and my niece, and Paul too actually. Really, everyone but me seemed to get it.

We snorkeled nearly every day, exploring most of our favorite spots from years past.  We swam with the turtles in the cove, and drank wine on the "grassy knoll" overlooking the cove at sunset.  We boogie boarded (even backwards)...
gazed out at the cove and drew pictures...
...and built sand castles.  Oscar started and finished a castle all by himself one day with no help or suggestions from anyone.  (Sometimes I don't realize how much help, or rather how consistent his need for help is, until he does something completely independently.)
Can you see it? He's pretty proud.

And Paul, Abe, and I read most of the Suzanne Collins Gregor the Overlander series. I'd brought lots of books about writing, a memoir or two, and one novel, but I didn't read any of those. Instead I got completely sucked into this five volume series and only finished last night.  I loved diving into a wildly different world, and then discussing plot and character development with Abe.  He says, by the way, that the Hunger Games trilogy is better, so that's what I'll read next.

I found, though, that despite the glorious setting and fun adventures, that I couldn't escape my anxiety in Hawaii. The breathtaking views, warm trade winds, crashing waves and the sugary sand were all incredibly soothing to me during the day but I really struggled at night. I woke in the wee hours and could feel the panic start to fill my head. I practiced my breathing and focused on comforting images but the stomach pains and racing thoughts persisted.  (Our mediation with the school district is on Wednesday and I can only assume that thoughts of that meeting were invading my calm.) 

On our last afternoon, I sat on Napili beach and concentrated on the contented calm that filled me in that moment as I breathed in the swaying palms, shimmering water and billowy clouds.  I promised to start making some changes to help reduce my anxiety and feel more fulfilled no matter how busy and stressful our days are sometimes.  I need a daily practice.  I don't know yet what that looks like, but this photo brings me hope that I can figure that out.