Perhaps I should rename this "Saturday Seven," seeing as I can hardly do "Seven Quick Takes Friday" if Friday is my no-internet day.
I did try, yesterday. I was going to stay off the computer altogether, but there was an important thing I really had to do. So I did that and then I thought "while I'm here, I should try to shut down some tabs." But you can't shut down tabs without reading them, can you? So I read them, but there were some important links on there I had to follow, and now I have more tabs open than I did before. C'est la internet.
Then I thought, the whole point is that I should be doing Other Things. So I decided to make a chart for Marko that he's been begging for for days -- a chart showing the three periods of the Mesozoic (Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous) and which dinosaurs, plants, theraspids, etc., were alive at which times. I didn't get very far before needing Wikipedia.
Oh, Wikipedia, how I do love thee. When Marko can read and navigate Wikipedia, I don't suppose he'll need me anymore. Like his father, all he wants in life is to find out All The Things. I was the same when I was a kid, but I had to read through the encyclopedia, wherein "see also" is a much bigger hassle.
Here's the chart:
Now I have been commissioned to draw one each of the Paleozoic and the Cenozoic. Because my kid is a nerd. (Squeeeee!)
I am very happy to follow my kid's interest here -- I mean, unschooling is great and I'm learning as much as he is and this is what I've been dreaming of for years!
But .... it is hard to draw mastodons when you are holding a fussy baby. Miriam is very unpredictable, as always. One day she takes two two-hour naps, and the next day one half-hour nap. I spend all of my time waiting for her to take a nap, and then trying to get the kids to be quiet while she takes it. When she doesn't nap, she's horribly fussy. Put her down and she screams, pick her up and she thrashes and grabs everything. I can't read books because she tears the pages. I can't eat because she dumps it in my lap. So I put her down and she climbs on Marko's bedside table and then stands on top of it screaming to be helped down.
But when she has gotten a nap, she's sweetness and light -- and getting into trouble, OF COURSE. She turns ten months today and has been walking pretty much everywhere she goes for about a week now. Of course she walks like a drunken zombie, but she does it fast!
I have started using progesterone cream for luteal phase insufficiency. If you don't know what that is, don't worry, it's not interesting. If you are a woman and think you might have it -- or severe PMS or very heavy periods -- they tell me it really works. And it's available without a prescription, which is important to me, because if I had to wait till I had time to see a doctor, it would probably be years.
Too soon to tell yet though. All I know is it stinks to high heaven and is gloppier than sunscreen when it comes to rubbing it in.
I have had a marked improvement of overall health in the last month, though, and I'm sort of embarrassed to tell you why. I have been run-down, exhausted, cranky, tired. Just figured that's how it is when you've got three little kids and the baby doesn't sleep through the night. But I haven't been taking vitamins, because I ran out and didn't think it was super important.
Finally decided to go to the health food store and buy some vitamins, and it is like night and day. I feel like I'm alive again, for the first time in months.
Seriously, that was it? Vitamin deficiency? I feel very stupid for going months and months without thinking of that possibility.
The way I like to read is to find a single author I like and then read everything I can find that they wrote, all at once. My current binge is Father Andrew Greeley. I picked him because he's Catholic, but he's also liberal enough that I didn't think he'd make me run screaming.
So far, so good! I really enjoy his writing. It's very Catholic, but in a ... hm.... a very open-minded sort of way. There's scads of romance in every book (which makes it a little awkward when you imagine it was written by a priest) but along with the romance is an emphasis that love is of God and brings us closer to God.
Almost all the characters in his books are Chicago Irish; there's a lot about the quirks of Irish people and Irish-American people. Some of the books are mysteries, with his character Monsignor Blackwood Ryan as the detective (explicitly echoing Father Brown). They're not bad. But the really good ones are the other ones -- particularly a series I started about the O'Malley family. The first book, A Midwinter's Tale, covers the Depression and World War II; the second, Younger than Springtime, covers a couple years after the war. I love the hero, a methodical kid who wants to be an accountant but winds up having a much more adventurous life than he intended.
Downsides? Greeley fairly drenches his work in benevolent sexism -- every single woman is amazingly gorgeous, intelligent, and wise. The male characters struggle their whole lives to figure stuff out that the women apparently were born knowing. When needed, the women suddenly reveal that they know martial arts. They rarely have any faults. There are worse kinds of sexism, but it's rather annoying -- the women don't seem like human beings at all!
Also, if I met the author in person, I would want to be wearing a burka. Because, I swear, every one of his male narrators is so obsessed with looking at and fantasizing about women (respectfully, they always insist!) that I can't help but believe the author himself is the same way.
But, with those caveats -- plus a warning to orthodox Catholics that Greeley isn't one, in a few particulars -- the books are enjoyable and definitely get me thinking about things like love, and God, and personal growth.
The other day, I was inside and the kids were outside, when suddenly I heard a lot of loud cheeping. I figured the birds were up to something, no worries, but when the cheeping coincided with maniacal laughter from the kids, I figured I'd better check up on them. Sure enough, Michael was holding a baby bird and zooming it around the yard.
I confiscated it, because Michael is not to be trusted with live animals AT ALL, and interrogated them about where they'd gotten in from. Marko said it had just been sitting in the middle of the lawn. I looked everywhere for a nest, because I know the right thing to do is to put the bird back. (It's a myth that the parents will reject a baby bird that's been touched.) But I couldn't find one. I set it up in a stockpot with a cozy dishtowel and did some research. Surely I could raise this bird to adulthood with worms and stuff, right?
Wrong, apparently. It's actually illegal to raise wild birds. Now I'm not one to be hung up on legality, but when I read about the complexity of what they need to eat and how they need to be reintroduced to life in the wild, I got a bit overwhelmed. Then I read that it was supposed to be fed every hour. I'm sorry, I already have a baby that needs to be fed about that often! Plus two more that seem to eat almost constantly. Forget about it.
So I kept it alive with moistened dog food, fended the kids away from it, and the next day we all took a nice drive to a wildlife rescue. I was never so happy to be rid of a pet. I felt a little sad that I've come to this -- me, the kid who always dreamed of finding a baby bird and raising it, just like they do in the books -- but I guess when you're all burned out on having children, you do what you must. And this way I know the bird will be okay and not meet an early grave because of Michael's aggressive affection.
Lately I am really struggling to find the right balance between staying home and going out. All this time I've thought it was the lack of a car that was keeping me at home, but even now that I have a car, I'd often rather stay in. One day for grocery shopping, one day for the library, one day for a playdate .... that's a busy week there!
Partly it's just the difficulty of dragging my kids anywhere. I tell Marko to go potty and he doesn't want to go until he finishes telling me everything he knows about pteranodons. I tell Michael to go potty and he falls on the floor crying because he wanted to go first and Marko has already gone. I rustle up four socks and two pairs of shoes.... and watch Marko fiddle around with them for what feels like hours, while I put on Michael's shoes myself, which is often a rodeo. I shut the dog in the laundry room, put a diaper on Miriam, and we're off!
No we're not. Halfway to the car Michael realizes he does not have his dinosaur, Dilly the dilophosaurus. So we go back into the house for Dilly. Of course this is only his most treasured toy, why would he have the faintest idea where it is? Eventually we find it, but now Marko needs his dinosaur, Tricey the triceratops, and it's nowhere to be found. We check every room -- not there. Check the front yard -- not there. Troop through the laundry room and out into the back yard -- there he is! But now the dog is out of the laundry room because Michael forgot to shut the door. So we shut the door and head out again.
By this point everyone is hungry, but no way am I stopping to make them a snack, so I grab apples, buckle everyone in, and give them each an apple and their chosen dinosaur. Car in gear, off we go. A block from home (if I'm lucky) I realize I forgot my wallet.
Wherever we go, we always have a great time. The kids are decently behaved in public places. I often find myself thinking, "Why don't we do this more often? This is wonderfully relaxing." But then I get hungry. And I think, if I'm hungry, surely they're hungry. It's been hours. We should go home.
So all the wailing, protesting, and hunts for dinosaurs happen again, in reverse. I drag the kids away from whatever they were enjoying and muscle them into the car. We head home, the baby falls asleep in her carseat, and I imagine how nice it will be to let her sleep in there while I get lunch for the boys.
But in reality, it's a great big NOPE, because as I approach the front door, lugging Miriam's heavy carseat and trying not to joggle her awake, the boys get in a massive pinching-and-biting fight over who gets to open the door. Their screeches wake the baby. We tumble inside, the house is a mess, no progress has been made (obviously) on the chores, the baby is fussy and hungry, the kids are quarrelsome and hungry, and I want to lie down in a dark room with earplugs in. Seems it takes at least an hour to recover from the outing we had!
I think the right balance is to go out 2-3 times a week, and to make most of those times brief, even if we are having fun, so that we don't overextend ourselves. But even that much, no matter how the kids enjoy it, can get pretty exhausting! You see why I'm such a hermit?
How's your week been?