Monthly Archives: January 2014

euphoria and bouncing

Last weekend was great. This week has been kinda rough. Euphoric weekends tend to mean that I have slightly less energy the week after. So I want to do more retreating. Combine this with Calli going through some extra-needy period and whoa. Yesterday I probably spent five hours throughout the day cuddling Calli. Because she needed that much contact with me. She was pretty upset that I didn’t hold her more. I’m looking forward to the arrival of a back carrier that can handle her weight. My arms are numb.

I think this week has been kind of rough because I’m trying to shove Shanna through doing actual work. She signed up to send Valentine’s to all of her friends in the home school group. Great. That doesn’t mean I’m going to sit there and do 30+ fucking Valentine’s for you (including relatives). If you want to do this, then do it. But that’s a lot of work for a five year old. I have my part to play: I will do the envelopes and I will help when something is genuinely hard, but mostly if you want to do this then you have to do it.

I wrote all of the names down on her little white board and when she finishes copying the name onto a Valentine she erases it. She’s both enjoying and loathing the process, as life goes-right? But I am not being as patient as I could/should be. I’m working on it. I did screech once on the first day when she spread everything from all the craft boxes all over the living room and then left the room to go play dress up in a different room. I don’t f’in think so. Get your behind in here and clean this up before you move on. (Err, I don’t even say “f’in” in front of my kids much. I feel mingled horror and pride about the fact that I don’t cuss in front of my kids almost at all. I will rarely swear in front of them and I do not swear at them. That’s a boundary.)

So I snuggle Calli and hope that her development is doing what it should do. I alternate encouraging, nagging, and ignoring with Shanna depending on what I’m trying to get her to do/not do.

Mostly it was a good week. I don’t feel bad about my kids having the odd clingy week. It isn’t our norm and it makes me feel good about myself and so very loved and useful. It’s great as long as it isn’t every day for a month. If it’s five or six days a month then I can show up and meet the need and we both feel good about our relationship by the end. It’s nice.

I’m struggling with money feelings. I hooked up our investment accounts with my Mint account. So now I have a more real time picture of our net worth. I almost hyperventilated. We are more than likely going to be millionaires. We will have a net worth of more than a million dollars some day. If you hit one it is a lot easier to get higher than that. We will reach that point probably in the next decade. I don’t think it will take until I am in my 50’s.

That just blows my mind. In my head I’m still a dirty little street kid inclined to steal my supper. But I’m not any more.

I have enough assets that I could pay off my mortgage, remodel my house, and pay for all of the trips I have planned in the next ten years and still have money left over. I’m not going to touch those assets but I could. The money is there. Only it’s not really there. That money is about my future. Noah’s future. Forget the kids. That money is about Noah and I not having to eat cat food when we are in our 70’s. And more than half of our net worth is the value of the house which isn’t so useful in terms of preventing the eating of cat food. So I have a long way to go before our old age is secure and provided for.

This is a very different kind of self control. I have always had unusually good self control but this is different. Many of the people who have lauded my self control didn’t realize that I had self control because I knew that I didn’t have enough money to actually cover what I wanted and I’m not a big fan of buying on credit. There is one kind of “self control” associated with being poor and not digging yourself into a hole and there is a very different kind of self control associated with growing assets.

The middle ground is rough.

I mean, oh poor me now I have money. Err, or something. That’s not quite what I mean but it was the first thing I leapt to mentally after that last statement.

This is what people are talking about when they try to say that “there is no such thing as privilege there are just different life experiences”. Things are hard at every level of socio-economic privilege–they are just hard in different ways.

But I call bullshit. This may be hard but I’d pick this hard over my old hard every day of the week and twice on Sunday. That means they aren’t really equivalent. I see the privilege. I’m grateful and grateful and grateful for it.

And I’m very hyper aware that I didn’t earn this money and I would not be able to duplicate the earning of it. I could earn more money than I do but my max salary would always be somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of Noah’s potential max salary.

That means I feel much more impetus to save some for later. If something bad happens and I have to support my family we are going to need a buffer like mad because backing off our life expectations from this income bracket would be hard. I could get used to eating cheap shitty food again but my kids would rebel. They are spoiled entitled little things. I did that on purpose. My kids believe that they should have access to a wide variety of high quality food. They get kind of bitchy when they don’t have it. Their bodies don’t feel as good. Yeah, welcome to the life of a poor person. Suck it the fuck up. You will never feel “good” again.

But I want my kids to feel good. So I feed them well. Because I have the privilege. I don’t believe that people who have less money love their kids any less than I do but I think there is a real difference in how a body feels after eating a diet of high quality fresh produce and grass fed meat vs. mostly ramen and canned vegetables. That’s not about the love or caring of the parents. That’s the reality of food access. I have the privilege to provide my kids with better than I had and I want to so very badly. I prioritize spending obscene amounts of money on food because I want my kids to feel good in their bodies.

Maybe it matters less than I believe but I doubt it.

It’s going to be a fine day. We have some work to do. Noah is working from home. My mother’s helper is coming later.

I need to send an email to my potential editor. I’ve been thinking hard about my next response to her. I want to say it right.

I’ve been keeping up with my running. Tomorrow is 8 miles. I’m looking forward to the half marathon in March. I need to schedule the one in Portland. Haven’t done that yet. Bleh.

I’m having trouble figuring out when I want to go up there this year. Shanna vetoed her birthday weekend (which is when a cool unschooling conference happens in Dad’s town so *I* thought it might be a great time to head up there) and I don’t know that I want to be gone for over a week around my birthday. And if I went up to Portland around my birthday Noah wouldn’t be able to go and I wouldn’t be able to get 24+ hours off from the kids. So probably not early September.

Consult more calendars. Talk to Ms. Blacksheep. Figure it out.

I’m really looking forward to my birthday this year. My layers of disappointment and frustration and difficulty around my birthday are not the fault of a single solitary person in my life right now. But I still have the feelings I have. I can’t wish them away or successfully pretend I don’t have the feelings. I have them. They are shitty. I’m looking forward to being alone and not having my disappointment land on people who have not earned any disappointment. My kids and my husband are so unbelievably nice to me that I don’t want to be upset with them even a little bit for stuff that isn’t their fault.

If I could just fucking figure out what I wanted or needed from my birthday they would jump through hoops to provide it. This difficulty isn’t really about their failure. This is existential angst. I’m looking forward to keeping it to myself this year.


Out of curiosity…

Normally my writing is about whatever I have in mind on a given day. I can be organized in my thinking/writing but I rarely bother.

That said, a variety of situations keep popping up where people are like, “You should speak!” My response is, “On what topic?!”

So I come to you my loyal and intrepid blog readers. What topics do you think I could speak about? What topics do you see me bring up in a way that could be organized with some work? What would you be interested in seeing me consciously expound upon with more fixed intensity?

Inquiring minds want to know. (See, I didn’t even put a smiley here. I’ve been so disciplined about it.)

find gratitude

1) I am loved.

2) I am appreciate.

3) Compared to what I grew up with my life is luxurious and wonderful.

4) I get to do what I want to do today.

5) I am ridiculously grateful Noah puts up with my weird hippy shit. Not all of my partners have been very nice to me about my weird conservationist shit. True love, baby.

Daily ritual stuff

Sometimes I read on the internet about how it is beneficial to have a daily routine. My problem is there aren’t enough hours in the day for all I would “like” to do.

One thing that is becoming a set part of every day is drinking tea. I like to think of it as my morning bonding moment with the women in my life. Even though I know that men drink tea too I think of women. I think of Jenny and Paula and the other formerly Miss so-and-so friends (all of whom are now married and thus no longer Miss anything) and Patti and Sarah and I remember gleeful moments we have shared over tea.

I drink every morning and I say a prayer for all of their good health and continued strength. Whether I see them or not I think about them. I have spent most of my life believing that if I just want something bad enough it’s like magic. I can make it true.

I want these women to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled. With or without me. So I drink a cup of tea and think about them and pray for their benefit. If anyone is listening I hope my karmic experiences weight my begging. Clearly I’m owed some favors for dealing with shitty stuff.

Judith. Kerry. Debbie. Stacey. Kira. Anna. Brittney. Marina. Elora. Erin. Michelle. Andy.

I sit down and cycle through women in my head. I’m not going to get through the full list in this entry and I won’t try. I’d leave someone out and they’d feel butt hurt and that isn’t the point. The point isn’t who I think about *today* because the list changes so much over time.

Remy. Rose. Marcie. Mo. Wendy. Ali. Deborah. Lauren. Denise. Chris. Amy. Talia. Angela.

I think and think and remind myself that even if these people are mad at me, they probably haven’t stopped loving me. They may not express it in ways I see or in ways that “feel” like love to me but that doesn’t mean anything about their feelings. I can’t judge what they feel. I remind myself of that over and over.

I can’t judge what other people feel.

But I enjoy sitting down to my tea and thinking about the women who have shaped me. Some of them did so on purpose. Some of them probably never realized the degree to which I have consciously patterned off of them. Many of them probably have no idea just how much time I spend sitting around thinking about them. What choices do they make? Why do they make them? What can I learn? How would I do it differently? What would it take to make me behave the way they behave? What differences would have to come up in my life to change me?

Not because I think they are wrong and I am right. Anything but.

I tend to be able to see other people as more grown up than me in a wide variety of ways. I want to grow up. I am envious of how other people manage. I need more tricks.

So whereas there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to put my life on a routine (painting, writing, editing, playing with the kids, reading, cooking, cleaning, seeing people–all of these things combine to need a 57 hour day if you want to do all of them every day) I try to start the day thinking about the many women I know who inspire me.

I try harder because I can tap into, “How would ______ handle this problem?” How would someone who was more patient solve this? How would someone who was kinder model this? How would someone with an inherently higher level of lovability manage?

It’s like having the pictures on my walls. I have lots and lots of pictures on my walls. I tell myself that these are the people who would be sad if I killed myself. (There are guys in the pictures too. The tea ritual is about my ladies. My life is not just an all-girls event.)

I’m not very good at feeling connected to people. I’m trying to learn to feel bonds. Mostly I have spent my life thinking that I am a worthless piece of shit who could only improve the planet by no longer being a waste of resources. Changing is hard.

Shanna is making my mothers day present already because there is a Berenstein’s Bears book about the topic. A scrap book of pictures about the experience of being a mom. She picks pictures off the wall and then has me pre-screen them.

We can never get another copy of Talia’s senior picture from high school so we can’t use that one in the scrap book. I can never get another copy of the picture from my junior high school dance where my friends Iris, Jenny, Kira, Yvette, and Nikki are posing.

Anything we have taken on a digital camera–go ahead. I can have more prints made if I miss a specific one on the wall.

I am increasingly sentimental as I get older. I’m trying to believe that things continue on. It’s all part of a longer story. I’m not over yet. It has been weird to grow up and realize how much my ability to organize and my lack-of-attachment to “stuff” has been about my constant feeling that I will die soon. Or that I should die soon. It’s not nice to leave a mess for someone else so get your shit together.

I have too many books to read. I can’t die yet.

Every morning I sit down and think about the women who guide me whether they know it or not. I don’t feel like a “church” would work well for me. I’m not willing to follow dogma of any kind. My karma ran over your dogma and other such “intelligent” *cough* humor.

A wise woman told me I would have to build my own community. I really have. They are spread out. They show up sporadically–more like a rural community. But they are there.

I see them. I see them in my mind and in my heart and sometimes I get to see them in person. That has to be enough. It is all there is.

Sometimes I feel bad about the way attachment works in my brain. I wish that I could turn it on or turn it off and stop futzing with it. But I think the only way I could do that is to just turn it off. And I don’t want to. I want to be able to love and be loved. I think it matters that I have relationships with people who don’t live in my house so I can model what that looks like for my children. How do I teach them to feel loved?

Part of it is just not breaking them. Humans normally have the ability to feel loved. But it feels like more than that. Noah and I *both* struggle with attachment issues. We both have family issues and we both feel intermittently loved by our friends. (No slam on anyone in our life.) But we have similar issues. If we want to have kids who have a larger emotional range than us then we need to figure out how to facilitate that whether we join them there or not.

No pressure.

I feel fairly confused by how it works in other cultures. Attachment, that is. On one hand Buddhism talks about detachment, but I think I’m missing a lot of the point. Pam’s mother expects her to call all the damn time and that’s not very detached, you know? More research. Talk to real people instead of reading white-people versions on the internet. What the hell do white people know about Buddhism? (Not that I’m converting. But I’m interested in how they solve this problem.)

Yesterday was kind of rough. I expect the kids to get all of their stuff off the floor every other week so I can vacuum. I didn’t finish till 7:30 last night because they totally didn’t want to cooperate. I’m glad that their “uncle” showed up to help them because if I had to do it… oh man. I was running out of not-screaming-strength. *phew* This is why they need a tribe.

Sometimes someone other than mom needs to patiently show them something. Sometimes mom is about to flip out and she needs to go in a dark room alone. Yay quiet.

I feel shocked that one of my former lovers is the most consistent person in my childrens’ lives so far. He has consistently shown up for longer than anyone else at this point. He’s here to see me and see my kids. If I’m being bitchy he doesn’t talk to me much and he just spends time with the kids–which is a wonderful thing.

I don’t trust anyone. I carefully weigh and measure if people are doing as they say they will. Most people don’t. I’m so grateful he is consistent. He’s very careful to promise less than he thinks he might be able to deliver on. That’s a lot of why it works. I’ve known him for more than thirteen years. And he has been coming every week–sometimes more than once a week for over a year, I think over a year and a half at this point. He hung out with the kids more sporadically before that. (He wasn’t great at the baby phase.) But he has been in their lives pretty consistently for their entire lives. He took all of the pregnancy pictures when I was pregnant with Shanna. He showed up in the first five days of life for both kids. He wanted to imprint on them. He has continually made time and space to just show up.

I honestly didn’t expect it and that’s a lot of why I didn’t have kids with him. He asked me to co-parent and I didn’t think he had it in him to show up consistently. I was wrong about him. I think I was right that we wouldn’t be the best co-parents (I’m too much of a cunt) but I dramatically underestimated his intentions and consistency. I’m sorry I so undercut him. He’s been really great. If I had turned out to want more like the single-parent thing he would have been a good ally for that.

He’s acting like a big brother. He had a kid brother and he tells me that he’s doing what he saw done in his family when he was young. You just show up. Yeah, sometimes people are assholes–you tune them out that day.

I’m not very good at that. I’m grateful to be near it sometimes. (I am learning to tune out a lot of what he says in similar ways. We have Very Different Opinions About Life.) I want him to be allowed to live. I want to be allowed to live.

It’s working for now. See, I’m not just focused on the ladiez. I’m willing to take whoever shows up. If you are willing to love me we can find a way.

I worry about these bounces.

We’ve had a very good weekend. I medicated so my mood was better. I worry a lot about how I fuck with medication and go up and down in mood. My shrink confirms for me that the unpredictability of mood swings are some of the most damaging parts of having a parent with mental illness. A parent who is just *depressed* is one thing. A parent who goes up and down with little apparent cause is much harder on a child.

But we’ve had one of those “just another day in paradise” weekends. I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with Noah and the kids. When we get to just be together and we don’t have to get a lot done I am completely and totally sure that my life could not be better. This is what I’ve always wanted. I belong here. I am loved here. I am wanted here. These three people are just about as obsessed with me as I am with them. It’s a mutual admiration society.

We’ve been doing a lot more with neighbors. I am consciously not writing about those experiences despite the fact that I like record keeping. Writing about people is… mixed. Sometimes people don’t mind and are positive or neutral about me writing about them. Sometimes I upset people and I really don’t mean to. I don’t feel like it is safe to talk about people right now. It would hurt too much if my current connections blew up. I can’t absorb another big loss right now.

The biggest pull back going on in my life right now has been honestly discussed and a frame work has been put around it. I respect and support all of the reasons for the pull back so I have to just live with my feelings of terror. No one can take those away from me.

I’m scared of the future. I have so little control.

But what I know for sure is that I had a really great weekend with my family. I feel loved and wanted and supported by the three people in this house. My kids are getting big enough that sometimes they will say, “What could I do to make your day a little easier?” If I tell them a chore they go do it in order to bask in the glow of my gratitude. They do it because I ask them similar questions and do similar sorts of work for them.

I’m hoping that the fact that I usually can talk about my mood swings in advance before I snap will mitigate the damage I do.

All parents damage their children. I am told this over and over by people who are much wiser than me.

I apologize for my moodiness. I acknowledge that it isn’t their fault. If I say something in a nasty way I will apologize and try again. “I am sorry that came out really hostile and you haven’t done anything at all to provoke hostility. I’ll try again.”

Today I believe that I am doing ok. I’m never going to nominate myself for mother-of-the-year. My kids are happy, healthy, able to adapt to a wide variety of situations and people, and they are learning about as fast as I can put material in front of them.

We’re doing ok. Even if it isn’t the same path as everyone else. There isn’t actually a monolithic path any way. We are all doing our own thing.

I talked to a new-to-homeschooling mom recently. She said she was researching and she felt very unsure about which direction to head in terms of unschooling vs. curriculum. I said, “Don’t worry about picking a label. Do what works for your family and be prepared to try something different every year if you have to and let your labels come after the fact. Labels should be descriptive and not prescriptive. Don’t pick a label and then force yourself to make those choices.”

I say that even though I’m pretty married to unschooling. Not radical unschooling. Not Unschooling. We are unschoolers. I don’t believe that learning fits in a nice pre-ordered box. We learn all the time and we take our sources from sometimes unorthodox locations and I think that is more or less the right way to go through life. But I understand that sometimes you have to jump through hoops and I’ve been able to do enough of it for myself that I’m satisfied I understand the process.

I’m going to spend February editing. I hope to ship it off to a friend to edit by June. I should probably negotiate with her. Ha. She told me to my face she was interested in working with me and given that I plan to pay her I don’t think it will be a hard sell. She’s a professional and all. This time I’m picking an editor who has written and edited a lot of books and run a publishing company. I hope that I do better with the next round of editing process.

It has been a good weekend. I ordered a toddler back carrier. Shanna and I want to walk farther than Calli can manage and my arms go numb holding her. I found a spiffy one more appropriate to her very large size. I only had little baby carriers before. This has a very high back. More supportive and safe and all. It’ll be good to wear her again.

It’s interesting how regressing stuff works. Sometimes they are so clingy. And I soothe them and hold them and talk to them and then eventually they want to run away again. I’m home base.

I have wanted this feeling for my whole life.

Please love me.

It’s hard that the intensity of their love sometimes feels like it is drowning me. People are not meant to raise children alone in nuclear families. It is not right or normal for our species. Children should have a tribe. They should have a wide variety of adults they spend time with so they can find out more about the world-that-is-not-their-parents. I’m doing the best I can. I’m trying like fuck not to drive away the people who know my children.

I can’t always invite. I’m sorry. I think it is pretty ridiculous how often I cry because I miss people I could call and invite over. They would probably say yes. But I can’t invite them because they might say no and that would hurt so very badly. I can’t handle a no. So I can’t ask for a yes.

I think that is part of why I throw parties. If someone tells me no for that at least I can tell myself that they didn’t want the crowd. I can take the no. It is less of a personal rejection.

I feel so scared. How long can I manage to be good enough for my kids? Am I good enough? Who is going to even notice if I start fucking up? Will my kids be left to the mercy of me self-reporting on the internet to get intervention on their behalf? (I’m paranoid so I ask professionals and I’m told I haven’t done anything that merits a CPS call. I ask, “Are you sure? I’m not very nice.” Sometimes they snicker and then tell me about their problem cases. Ok. I’m pretty nice.)

I don’t know if I am teaching codependence or healthy interdependence. I’ve not had a lot of healthy interdependence. But I believe in it as a concept. I’m fucking trying.

Sometimes I wonder what I will be like when I grow up. I’m very much using this time as my incubation period. I’m not grown up yet. Maybe by 60? Heh.

Sometimes I think it is confusing when people talk with horror about aging as if it were a bad thing. Childhood was terrible. I want as far away from it as possible. I was 29 once. I want to move on. I want something different.

My early teens and 20’s were spent in a masochistic/self harming/promiscuous blur. I’m ready for something different.

But when I see girls like me who get up and out of all that they stop talking about their perspective. They learn to pass and I’m not trying for that. Not really. I don’t want to pass. Or I’d stop telling people that my culture of origin is poor white trash.

It’s time for dinner.


I’m doing poorly with managing other peoples boundaries lately. Well, or I worry that I am not doing well. I can never tell for sure. When people I love are in situations that I have strong opinions about I fear that I get too controlling. I am not the boss of anyone other than my kids, and that’s just temporary.

I am not the boss of any of the grown ups I know. Full stop.

But man I would kind of like to be the boss. There is some part of me that believes that if people just DID WHAT I SAID things would work out better. But the thing is, they can’t just do what I say. They aren’t me. They don’t have my beliefs, preferences, priorities, or skills. They need to do what is right and sustainable for them.

I’m not a universal standard for anything. I do not believe that people should “be like me”. I think I’m pretty broken and difficult and I think that a lot of my choices blow up in my face. Who in the hell am I to tell other people what to do?

I’m trying for the happy medium of supportive without controlling. I’m allowed to give advice when I am asked for advice and otherwise I should probably shut up and just listen. Sometimes listening is the best thing you can do for someone. Sometimes listening is the only thing you can do for someone. You have no right to do anything else. But they need to be heard. So shut up and listen.

I will try harder.

Find gratitude

1. I am grateful that I am physically strong enough to get up and go run seven miles. That was not true for most of my life. I’m grateful for my health.

2. I am grateful that I come back from running and have three people smile and say they love me.

3. I am grateful that my wonderful husband begins preparing breakfast while I’m still out running so I don’t have to come home and do a bunch of work.

4. I am grateful that today will be spent within walking distance of my home and I won’t have to be alone.

5. I am grateful for the future I have in front of me. Despite my anxiety and worry and issues I’m going to do a lot of fun and interesting things.

Find gratitude

1. I’m grateful that I get to spend every day of my 30’s finding out what a happy childhood looks like. I may never get to know what it feels like, but I will never know what it feels like to be a black man either and I’m not crying over that every day. (Not because I think that there is a thing in the world wrong with being a black man… I just haven’t cried about it on a daily basis. I do tend to cry when I read auto-biographies by black men. But I tend to read auto-biographies of people who have had rather shitty lives, so yeah.)

2. I am grateful that despite my dithering and worry and anxiety I have access to a medication that can make me feel better. Having the possibility of feeling good in my body is promising even if I choose to sit in feeling bad for a time for whatever reason I do.

3. I am grateful that I live in a time and a place where people like me are not stoned to death.

4. I am grateful for my patient, kind, giving husband.

5. I am grateful that (so far at least) my children seem to love me so much. I can’t be all bad because they don’t have a lot of mixed feelings about me. They love me and think I’m wonderful. They rarely get irritated with me. They don’t seem to hate me, ever.

6. I am grateful that I have the privilege to parent in the way I want to parent. I am grateful that I live when and where I do because not everyone in the world is able to make the choices I am making.

7. I am grateful for every scrap of food in my kitchen. I have had times in my life where the kitchen was bare. I am so grateful that it is not true any more.

8. I am grateful that I get to “play” with gardening instead of having to learn how to grow food or starve.

9. I am grateful that when my arms hurt I can take a break from typing and my livelihood is not in danger.

10. I am grateful that my children feel entitled to snuggle every single morning of their lives. It has been such a continual ritual that they are really demanding and pushy about it happening. If I seem unavailable they will come get me and say, “Mom. It’s time for a morning snuggle. Go to the couch.” Yes ma’am. I’m coming.

That’s why my kids are so polite with me. Because I say “yes ma’am. I’m coming.” They see it modeled. They want to be like me. I am very polite to them. I do not expect deference. I do not model top-down respect. I think that I am their temporary boss and hopefully eventually their friend. I don’t own them. I need to be nice to them if I want them to want a relationship with me when they get older.

It will be a good day. A friend said, “Hey! How about if I babysit for you on Friday night so you can have a date.” Hell yes. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

Mostly it will be a good day because I’m fucking medicating today. I’m not up for another day of crying because I am a piece of shit for rejecting my mother. I don’t have the desire to do that today. Luckily I have a handy dandy way to ensure that I don’t have to spend my day that way.

God Bless America.

Unusual session.

I don’t cry much during therapy. It’s just not part of the process for me, mainly. I don’t cry in front of people very well. Today I probably cried for half the session. Partially as a result of that and partially just because well duh she sent me home with a book. The Cannabis Health IndexIt is an examination of all the published medical studies about cannabis. It is meticulously footnoted and researched. If you want citation, this is the book for you.

PTSD is not one of the best studied issues in the book. Only three published studies and whereas they are hopeful/positive they aren’t strongly conclusive. Fair enough.

One of the things I like about the book so far is he says that cannabis is not dangerous but it isn’t harmless. There are demographics and populations who really shouldn’t be using pot; there is harm to come from misusing any medication. But when you compare it to the tens of thousands of people who die from medical prescription issues or the combined hundreds of thousands of people who die from alcohol and tobacco… it’s not dangerous.

A lot of what he (Uwe Blesching, the author) talks about is how cannabis allows you to change your mental state so that you can begin to unravel the problems in your mind which are manifesting in your body. He’s very specific and detailed as he examines how it can often allow you to be positive and think through the things that are hurting you. Often we hurt ourselves by being unable/unwilling to change patterns in our lives. He proposes that pot is a way to build a bridge between the mind and the body.

We all have confirmation bias, right?

I’ll point out that he is pretty serious about using the lowest dose medically appropriate and being on it for the shortest period of time possible. He wants people to use it as a medication to allow them to heal and then move on.

I’ve heard from a lot of people that alcohol more or less worked that way. They “outgrew” the need they had for alcohol even though for some period of time they were dependent on it.

A lot of my problem is that I am emotionally retarded. I do not mean stupid or any similar derogatory meaning. I mean underdeveloped. I mean immature. I mean held back. I mean less advanced than is typical or expected for someone my age. Like, literally emotionally retarded and not “I’m so laaaaaaaame.” (Yes, I’m defensive and worried about being misconstrued.)

So, I’m emotionally retarded and I feel a lot of shame around that. Pot allows me to stop feeling mired in the intense self belief I have that I am inherently bad and unlovable. Pot allows me to stop feeling like I should be punished for hurting the people I have hurt in my life (my mother is one of the main people). Good golly I want to be a martyr.

Pot allows me to be patient with myself as I try to work out how to have emotional regulation so that I can on-the-spot teach it to my children. I believe that my job is to teach my children emotional self-regulation. The primary way that children learn is through modeling. With pot I can manage emotional self-regulation. I can respond more “appropriately” to different stimuli instead of going into gut-level flight or fight response.

The problem is that I feel intense guilt about spending the money on pot. That’s one of the biggest problems I have. Krissy you are rolling in money. Get the fuck over it. (Ok, I’m not “rich” by the standards of the people I know. Which freaks me out. I’ve been in more than one $10 million home.) Only I can think of a million and one things that I believe are “more worthwhile” than me being relieved of torture in my brain. I’m much more inherently comfortable with the idea that I should be suffering than just about any other possible life result for me. This is kind of a problem.

I felt immediately defensive when the author suggested that maybe I don’t actually want to get over PTSD because it feels more safe/comfortable/whatever. If I feel immediately angry and defensive… I should probably examine whether something is accurate. Because I’m like that.

Cannabis is the only medication I have ever taken that produces significant positive, measurable, real difference in my life and mood. But it’s not cheap. And I feel enormous shame and guilt about being such an expensive pet.

Noah doesn’t begrudge me. Not at all. I don’t get push back from Noah about money. So far he says he is very happy about what I do with the money he earns. He specifically praises me and expresses gratitude.

I still feel ashamed.

That euphoric-ish feeling of not hating myself pretty much only comes with being pretty stoned.

Ok. I ordered some. I’m going to make tincture. I’ve been doing ok with what I have tried of it. I’ll cross my fingers that it lasts me long enough to be cost effective. *choke*

I think it is pretty miraculous that I got to pause in the middle of writing this and spend an hour researching strains before ordering from my local delivery service. Talk about luxury. I can have my pot delivered to my house after my doctor gives me the recommendation. God Bless America.

The book stresses that one of the benefits of the medication is that it allows you to feel at peace with being where you are. If I were to paraphrase his message I would say: pot allows you to not feel guilty about the number of spoons you have and it helps you cheerfully decide how to spend them. It’s not that pot increases your spoons by that much. But feeling guilty and feeling a lot of shame over having the number of spoons you have does actively decrease your spoons further. So pot sorta seems like a way to raise spoons.

Does that make sense?

I’m not far into the actual guide. I intend to read all of it. My head is going to be bursting with things that are hard for me to recite accurately. Oh man. Apparently Multiple Sclerosis is the most focused on area of study by far. I look forward to what I will learn. So far I’m just through the introduction (all 72 forking pages of it) and the sections on Aging (the first) and PTSD. Cause, duh.

Yeah. Feelings. Nearly time for sleep.

Medication and mood.

Now that I’ve been not stoned for a long while I’ve got to say that this sucks. A lot. I miss being stoned. I miss the feeling in my abdomen of lower stress and less pain. I miss the automatic pause in my thinking before I react to anything that happens to me. That few seconds of “Must process what I think of this before I react” was awesome. The hypervigilance means I react without even thinking about what I want to do. My startle reflex is so fast. Which means I have banged the kids around a bit in the last two weeks on accident. Like, they jump on me and my body instinctively kind of blocks it so they fall off and hit something.

I’m not saying I’m shoving them or anything. I’m not being violent. I’m just recoiling and trying to avoid getting hurt. Instead they get hurt and then yell at me because I’m SO MEAN. When I was stoned all the time I didn’t have the quick recoil so they would hurt me instead of me accidentally hurting them and then we could talk about why doing ____ wasn’t a great idea. I feel like that was probably overall a kinder trade but they are jumping on me with slightly less force after a few weeks of falling off and it hurting.

The marks on the paper on the wall are really working as far as helping me control my volume. I haven’t screamed lately. I did yell at Shanna once yesterday. But all I said was her full name and “go to your room” after I’d been asking her nicely to leave the muffins alone for like an hour. (She grabbed one off the counter when I was trying to put them in bags. After her time out she came out and said, “Mom you misunderstood. I wasn’t going to eat it. I was just going to hand it to you. I don’t think I deserved time out for that.” I said, “Did you wash your hands with soap before you grabbed food that would be shared with other people?” Her eyes went big. “Ohhhh. No. I didn’t. That was a mistake. I’m sorry.” “I don’t always yell at you just because I’m a big meanie head. We have rules for a reason.” “Ok.”)

I’ve been working hard on inculcating them with the mantra of “before we prepare food we wash our hands with soap.” I have a variety of tunes I sing the process to. “Before we can prep our food we must wash our hands wash our hands. Before we can prep our food we must wash our hands and always use soap.” That one is more or less to the tune of “The wheels on the bus.”

So if that is the only shouting in a day I feel that I could continue to improve but I’m not doing shitty. I’ve been around other mothers lately. That always resets my bar on “Oh yeah. I’m not actual much of a yeller in the scheme of things…”

I feel weird about the way I’m kind of two faced about rules. On one hand I feel like we don’t have a lot of house rules. On the other hand holy shit we have a lot of house rules. Things like washing your hands before you prepare communal food. Is that a rule or a habit I’m trying to instill? I can’t really tell how to think about these things. I spent too long in the poly community. I have a lot of anxiety and guilt around imposing “rules” on people. I’m “inappropriately controlling people by putting my rules on them.” But these are my kids! I’m supposed to create the rules!

I have a lot of rules around food. No food on the carpet. You have to wash your hands before you prepare communal food. (If you are making a pbj for yourself and no one else I don’t actually care–if you want to eat your own filth that is your business.) No licking communal food tools–that’s nasty. I’m inconsistent on table manners. On one hand my children have experienced a fair number of lectures about “proper” behavior at the table. On the other hand I tell them that there are a lot of circumstances where it doesn’t matter how gross you eat and at home the rules are a lot more relaxed than they are when you are at someone else’s house or when we are at a restaurant.

My kids have been very carefully exposed to a lot of different kind of restaurants and they understand that some restaurants they can fuck around in and on some they have to be on their absolutely best behavior. I have no fear of bringing them into expensive chi-chi restaurants. They do better than the average adult. But I coach them in advance and I talk about why it matters and I talk to them the whole time they are in the restaurant and I keep them engaged. It’s a lot easier to follow the rules when you are having fun and you want to be where you are. My kids treat going to different environments like games. “How do we act when we are someone who goes here?”

I’m tense and anxious but I haven’t been simmering with rage. That’s a great step for me. The inappropriate anger is a serious problem for me. That I’ll medicate for and not feel super guilty about. It’s not ok to take my random ambient anger out on my kids. It isn’t their fault I’m angry and I’m not going to take it out on them. In this house shit does not roll down hill. Calli has enough trouble dealing with Shanna. I’m not going to be mean to them because Calli would not handle being at the bottom of the shit hill well.

When I clean my kitchen lately I spend a lot of time crying and apologizing to my in-absentia mother. I’m sorry I hurt you so much. It’s my fault. I’m sorry I wasn’t a good daughter. I’m sorry I betrayed you. I understand that you weren’t the one who hurt me, but you did fail to protect me and I’m sorry that you have gotten the life you have gotten. I’m so sorry you went from a family where you were treated badly to a family where you were treated worse. That’s not fair. And then your reward in your old age is ungrateful children who have all abandoned you. Life is genuinely not fair. I’m so sorry.

(Today is a therapy day so I have to figure out how to talk about this.)

My frightening thoughts are not as bad as they are sometimes but with less pot they are more dominant. Probably only like a 3-4 severity.

I can’t tell if I count as “avoidance” behaviors in a lot of cases. I am avoiding people and situations I used to go to but mostly I don’t think they are appropriate for my kids and I don’t want to waste my few hours off on going to pursue people who are living lives I can’t be part of any more. I have a lot of guilt, depression, and worry. Not about tangible real stuff. My life is very (blissfully) stable right now. So depression/guilt/anxiety symptoms are probably riding in the 5-6 range as far as causing distress.

My startle reflex is through the roof. I’m tense and on edge a very high percentage of the time. I’d say up in the 7-8 range. I feel like I have to be prepared and ready to fight all the time. Luckily I’m not having outbursts of anger. *phew*

I feel like I am managing my anxiety symptoms by doing the future-tripping stuff I do. Planning for things I will do in the future gives me more of a feeling of control over my life. I can’t control what happened to me in the past. But I can make sure my future has the shape I want it to have. I need to think of the 3,592 things that could go wrong and have contingency plans for all of them and then I can feel ok for a little while.

Future tripping isn’t just about travel planning. Garden planning. Meal planning. Setting up schedules for when I will pay what bills or deciding when I should transfer money for x event.

I am ridiculously proud that Shanna’s 529 is already 1/4 funded. She’s only five and her college fund is 1/4 of the way to where I want it to be. Because it is invested (and investments grow all by themselves like magic) I may be close to done contributing in her name. This year I will be contributing a lowly $1200 towards Shanna’s fund and Calli is getting more like $5000. Gotta get the ball rolling. Calli has nothing so far. I try to justify this to myself as “Well, we will be done with the mortgage for like ten years before Calli goes to college. If I don’t save enough in advance we should probably be able to pay it as she goes.” *cross fingers*

Sometimes I feel weird about the avoidance symptoms of PTSD. I can’t tell if my behavior is avoidance or if I’m just continuing the patterns begun in my childhood. We did stuff for short periods of time then we moved. These patterns were set by my mother, who almost certainly has PTSD. I only spend time with people for fairly brief periods of time then I don’t know them any more. Or if I do know people it becomes distant. Most of the people who have been big parts of my support network over the past 15 years are people I sorta still know in a distant way. But being close with people is hard. I’m bad at it. At this point it feels like I am just bad.

I don’t know how to behave in a way that makes other people feel comfortable. So I deserve to be alone. Many of my relationships have historically depended on me chasing people and I can’t any more. So they are mostly over.

I treasure the people who invite themselves over. I feel slightly more confidence that they actually like me. I don’t feel very likable. I feel like a nasty, stupid bitch.

Sometimes I wonder if I will get past the child-rearing intensity and just withdraw entirely from the world. I go out as much as I do because I have to provide my children with community. When I am no longer home schooling and hanging out with the home schooling people will I stay home and just not see anyone? I’ve read 16 books so far this January. When I no longer have children will it be a solid 23 books so far?

I don’t know.

I’m not going to be clingy with my adult children. I will encourage them to go or stay as it suits them. And when they go I will do my crying in private. It will not be their problem. I am not their problem. But I don’t know what I will do.

I’m scared.

One day at a time.


I spent a while yesterday planning out gardening stuff for this year. This year I will spend under $100 on seeds and that’s all I get for plants. Given that I will be growing food the $100 will come out of the food budget and I hope I can work it off. *cross fingers* I’m only going to grow stuff we consistently eat. Carrots/celery/broccoli/cabbage, etc. The things I’m at the farmers market buying every weekend. I’m not growing tomatoes this year. I got some impressive tomato bugs next year and you have to cycle the soil in order to not get big infestations.

I cancelled the farm share box. It’s really annoying that you have to call in and do so. You can do any other amendment of what you want online but you have to talk to someone for like twenty minutes and say over and over “No actually I don’t want to switch to another box. I would have done that online if that was what I wanted. I want to *cancel* and I don’t really appreciate being grilled in the process.” Grr. I get why they do it. “But you don’t have to get produce you don’t like in your box!” “But when I say no to a long list of in-season produce I end up with a box that is 2/3 lettuce because y’all think that is what I should have to suck it up and eat if I don’t want the overall variety. I don’t need to pay $50 a box for a box that is mostly fucking lettuce.” He then tried to tell me I could log in to the website every week and tell them what to put in my box.

Dude, I’m at the farmers market every weekend anyway and it’s cheaper there. No fucking thank you.

I’m not in a good spot for cooking whatever shows up with good cheer. Sometimes I am but I’m not in that cycle right now. Right now I want predictability and control of my food.

I’ve been out weeding and shaping the garden with tools. Moving on towards planting time again. I’m having some feeeeeeeeelings about the fact that I probably can’t justify buying much in the way of non-food plants in the next seven years. This is my sad face. Ah well. Good thing I have many more decades of living here in which to improve the garden. Some day I will be past the mortgage and the round-the-world trip. Then I will have more “spare money”. Until then it’s all spoken for and then some.

But my garden grows. And it’s pretty. And I’m very happy about it.


I’m training for the Oakland half marathon in March. I have not been super good about being consistent about what I’m doing when. Yesterday I went out for a four mile run. I was very proud of myself because I consciously went kind of slow for the first mile. It took me ~ 13:48 to do the first mile. By the end of the fourth mile my overall average was down to 12:46?8? Can’t remember the last digit.

That means I picked up a lot of speed over the last three miles. Usually my first mile is by far my fastest and I slow down from there. I hardly ever ‘warm up’. I felt pretty proud of myself. And I stopped and arranged a play date with the neighbor kids Shanna has been asking about. *pat self on back*

Long term I would like to maintain the general fitness level where I can run five miles in an hour or three miles in thirty minutes. I would like to be doing ten mile runs on Saturday mornings just as a matter of course. Ideally long term I will develop the habit of having a Tues/Thurs/Sat/Sun schedule of doing 5/3/10/3 miles. (The Sunday one is a walk to the farmers market and not a run.) I think that is more or less my goal.

I dreamed.

I used to have these long, vivid dreams every night. Then I became a stoner and they went away. Now that I’m not really stoned any more they are back.

I have always had a consistent theme about having to find my way through big, complicated, multi-story buildings. This time in the dream I started out having to get from this small town garage to a nearby big city. I don’t know where or why. I was alone. A nice older man offered me a ride. I didn’t have much of a choice so I said thank you.

We drove down the freeway and I could see this sprawling huge monstrosity of a building in the distance. I said, “Whoa. I can’t imagine wanting to live that close to that many people.”

He kind of glared at me and said, “I live in the hive.”

We didn’t talk for the rest of the ride. In the next “day” of the dream I was once again stranded at the garage for no obvious reason I could discern. Someone else told him to give me a ride again and it wasn’t so gracious the second time.

After that I found out that my good friend K had ended up living in the hive. So I had to go see her/it. I had a hard time finding my way in. In the process of trying to find her apartment (neither of us were married with children in this dream) I discovered that the hive was hosting a conference.

I suppose it was an “unconference” which I have heard about but I’ve never attended one. It was an anarchist/revolution sort of meeting. I kind of wandered near the edge of it but I’m not real comfortable at conferences even when I know that technically I am invited and part of the target demographic.

I ended up in the apartment of a woman who had three little kids. I had the vague sense that there was something missing that we couldn’t talk about our mutual experience of being parents. She lectured me a lot and was really pretty out there. She had her kids building all kinds of complex equipment and she talked about how stupid people were for not putting their children to work.

Then I found the old man’s apartment. I tried to be friendly and get to know him but he abruptly turned away from me and went to bed while I was still in his apartment. I let myself out. Then I tried to get out of the building. I wanted to go up this long slanted hallway but my male companion (kind of vaguely Noah like, but not Noah) said that we had to take the stairs.

A female resident of the hive pushed past us to go up the stairs first. After about five steps I could see why. My male companion and I were ridiculously slow because they weren’t normal stairs. Each step rise was about 40″ so after a few steps we had to rest. We got to nearly the top of the stairs and the woman was sitting there to put her shoes on. She yelled and cussed at us for stepping around her. She said we were disgusting pieces of shit for not waiting our fucking turn.

Okay then. We stepped past her anyway and got into a parking garage. Then we discovered that we couldn’t get back into the stairwell because it locked and we didn’t know how to get out of the garage.

Then I woke up and had to go to the bathroom.

I’d like to return to not dreaming now, thanks.

Working out details for travel.

My good friend points out that her mom has an RV. This is true, but an RV probably gets somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 the gas mileage of my van and I bitch about the van a lot in terms of paying for gas. So far it looks like the trip will be in the neighborhood of 10,800 miles +/- at least 500 miles. (The absolute minimum will be 10,300 to go between the major cities I’m hitting.) If I assume an average of $3.40 for gas (it is lower and higher in different places) and 22 mpg in the van (that’s averaging freeway and city) that means I’ll be paying somewhere between $1600 and $1700. I think I should *assume* I need at least $2000 for gas and budget $2500 just so I don’t get fucked by spending more time in places where gas is closer to $4.00. I worry a lot about doubling or tripling that.

And if I have an RV then I have to find *RV appropriate parking* every day. And I can’t drive it up and down the streets of say, Chicago looking around because I will hit something because my depth perception isn’t the best ever in the history of ever. (It’s important to know yourself.) You know how most people describe themselves as better than average drivers? Not me! I’ve banged up a lot of cars. I’m not cocky about my driving or parking ability any more. I used to be. Then I grew more self aware.

So an RV sounds like a great option but I’m afraid I would break it or something nearby and I worry about going from RV camp site to RV camp site with very little ability to do anything else. I sure as fuck won’t be pulling a car. I do not want that responsibility.

Know your limits.

But I’ve been thinking more about the van. By the time we do the cross-country trip Shanna will be 7. I’m pretty sure that even though I have a high back booster seat with a five point harness that goes to like 120 lbs she would be capable of sitting in a low back booster with just a seatbelt. Is it “as safe”? No. It’s not. It is more of a risk. But if I have one 5 year old in a high back booster with harness and one 7 year old in a low back booster I can put both of them on the very back bench seat when we drive and take the car seats out and stow them on the passenger seat when we are parked.

I could find a double futon mattress on the internet for under $200. I could roll the mattress up and store it where the second row seats go while we drive. (The second row seats would obviously be staying home with Noah.) That way the girls and I could handle sleeping in the van every night. I’ve tried it with just camp mattresses and blankets as cushion and it’s rough because there are a lot of big pointy metal bits that are used for holding the seats in. Very uncomfortable on the back. With a mattress I think it would be fine.

I’m beginning to think I may need to build myself a cookbox though because I can’t find what I’m thinking of in my head. I would want something light enough for me to move it around easily. Most of what I can find premade would wear me out just moving it back and forth several times a day.

I’m thinking really hard about how I’m going to manage spoons on the trip. I will need to be cheerful and willing to do a fuckton of work every day or we will hemorrhage money. That means I need to figure out how to get the work down to under two hours a day on top of driving four hours. Six hours of concentration and labor is about my limit before I start getting snappy about interruptions and things that set me back a whopping five minutes. Yes, I’m that big of an asshole.

But if I observe my limits I can be patient within what I can handle. I won’t be inviting anyone to travel with us because my experience of traveling with people is I plan out my work then they want something done in a different way and I panic and turn into a less than pleasant person. Then they don’t like me any more. Best to go it alone.

I’m thinking hard about food. I think we will bring a cooler and go grocery shopping every second or third day. My kids are very happy to subsist semi-permanently on granola and yogurt and fruit parfaits and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I may have to suck it up and eat more pbj’s just for the sake of ease. At this stage Shanna is pretty proud of herself for “making lunch for the family” and she sometimes brings me a pbj I didn’t ask for just because she wants to be able to do something for me. I don’t bitch even though I am not a peanut butter fan. I am effusive in my praise of her labor. “You wanted to make me lunch! That is so kind of you. Thank you for going through all that trouble!” Who gives a shit if I don’t like peanut butter. I make them eat shit they aren’t enthusiastic about. Eat it and smile, motherfucker.

I have the sneaky suspicion that the only way I would be happy with a rote dinner would be if I made ramen or something similar every night. However I think I might be willing to “splurge” and get some of the freeze dried camping meals. Or figure out how to make the same thing at home for less money. “Add water and you have a meal with a different flavor” is worth $8-$9/dinner for me. It helps that the three of us would easily eat one packet of food and not be starving. I wonder how much Shanna will eat by then? So far all three of us eat a one person entree without additional hunger. At some point that will change.

Or we could have days where we plan to really cook and that’s a lot cheaper. I could manage lentils and such. Mmmm lentils.

Three annual passes for Disney World will be about $2200 depending on how much they raise the price next year. That sounds absolutely horrid. But we will be there for about five weeks straight. (35 days) That comes out to ~$63/day for entertainment for three people or $21/person/day. That’s not cheap by any measure. But it’s probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for my kids. And they will be 7 and 5. The perfect ages to really remember this. And I’ll take millions of pictures. I am scared I will be the asshole who doesn’t have fun.

I think that if I stick with my approach to theme parks that I use at Disneyland I will be ok. We are rarely in the park for five hours. Usually we crap out at four hours and go do something else for the rest of the day. There are four big “theme” parks and two water parks on property. A lot of the point of the trip is we will hotel hop around the resort and spend a few days going to one park then a few days going to a different park based on which activity is closest to where we are staying at that point.

I’m pretty interested in seeing most of the DVC (time share) properties because man that sounds fun. They have a lovely service where they will move your bags from hotel to hotel for you. So I will have to pack up (but I’ll be used to that) but I won’t have to schlep. I think that will be a fun trade for me.

Or I’ll hate it and talk shit about this trip forever. I am sometimes like that. Although in the rosy glow of memory I don’t remember the problems I’ve had on almost any of my trips. I mean, the worst thing I really remember about the Scotland trip was beating my head on the ground after I was awake for seven days straight because I couldn’t get the voices to stop any other way. Then I went to the store and bought sleeping pills and the trip improved immeasurably. Ok, the hotel staff in France were assholes. But I knew that anyway.

I don’t think I’ll ever travel without sleeping pills again.

The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival will cost ~ $1,000. But it will be food inclusive for a week and that will be nice. And it will pay for a lot of childcare so I can wander around have multiple hours off every day. I’m such an asshole that I think going to an event where they will take care of my kid for the cost of admission is uhm a good trade. (I will have to do volunteer hours in child care and that’ll be dandy.)

So that’s already $5,000 needed. Ouch. Then we talk about food and equipment. And spending money. I think this trip will cost at least $9,000 and potentially up to $12,000 depending on how restrained I am. Uhm, since I married this rich guy my restraint went to hell. The Scotland trip ended up being almost $5,000 over budget. I can save money at home. I’m *shit* at doing it while I travel. Unless I eat very unhealthy food and don’t move around much. Which is kind of the point of travel. You can travel much less expensively if you go to one place and then walk from that spot. I don’t do that. I go to some place then drive around and take the train and shop. Oops.

I’m thinking hard about this because if I need to have at least $12,000 saved for this trip that means I need to think about it far in advance of the trip. We would probably leave in less than 18 months (the leave date isn’t locked in stone yet). That’s not many months if I have to save that much money for this trip.

I also need to continue over paying on my mortgage. And putting money aside for the around-the-world trip. And kid college saving. And my retirement. So the farther in advance I start thinking about where the money goes the more self-discipline I will be capable of having month-by-month between now and then. Over the next 18 months I would like to save $12,000 for this trip, $11,000 for retirement (not counting the 401k that happens before I see the money), ~$6,000 for kid college fund stuff, and I would like to spend $60,000-$70,000 on my mortgage. And whatever I can shuffle off towards the around-the-world trip because I’m not quite 1/3 of the way towards paying for that. Which is pretty good given that it is still six years out. (Ok, let’s be fair. This isn’t about my self-discipline this is about Noah being freakishly good at making money. I don’t get that much credit.)

So in the next 18 months assume I want to come up with at least $90,000. That’s not including the rest of our living expenses. So $5,000 a month over and above our normal living expenses. (Ok, mortgage is usually part of our living expenses but the overpayment bit only sort of is and… you know what I mean.)

The part that makes my wame curdle is that with just a little bit of discipline that is totally doable. But I’ll have to be disciplined. And cut a bunch of expenses somehow. Oh man. Hrm. And no more big house projects until after 2020. That’s the big thing. Ok.

Stupid body.

I suppose I shouldn’t call my body stupid just because I didn’t get pregnant this month. I have proof. And it hurts. It hurts so much it woke me out of a sound sleep in an agony of pain. Yeah, fuck you too uterus.

Today is my sister’s birthday. She is 45. I’m going to cry for a while about that.

Today is park day. I’m not looking forward to it because one of the moms has described me as whiny. I take this as my hint to not come within 20′ of her. I don’t want to go to the park. I want to stay home and cry.

I suppose the only part that matters is I’m not going for my sake any way.

Dreaming of travel.

I don’t feel well today. My body is very uhm attached to the porcelain god. Such is life.

When I feel shitty the kids destroy the living room around me and I talk to them about travel plans. They have vetoed the idea of visiting the Disney Vacation Club resorts that are not part of a theme park during the 2015 trip. I thought it would be nice to just go to the beach. They say uhmmm not so much. So we will be at Disney World for a very long time. We will be switching hotels a lot.

As of my spreadsheet for today we will be arriving at Disney World on 9/2/15. We will bounce between seven hotels and eventually leave the area on 10/8/15. I have every expectation that I will be completely sick of Disney by the time we leave. That will be using what is left of 2014’s points, 2015’s points, and basically all of 2016’s points too. I can live with that.

I’m still playing with how far I think I can handle driving on the driving days and how long I want to set up camp in various places. I more or less run my life with the expectation that even 48 hours of my presence is often distressing and unpleasant for other people. I’m looking at maps and trying to decide about visiting various people across the country. I need to figure out my spoons for managing the kids, wrangling food, driving, and still being acceptably mild in my interpersonal interactions that I never make other people upset so that we have to move on before I am physically ready.

I feel sad that I am so hard for people. I don’t want to ruin any more friendships so I have to be very careful how I dole out time with me. I wish I was better able to just act right. I try, but I mostly just seem to keep failing.

Altogether (right now) it looks like we will be leaving California on 7/8/2015 and arriving home on 11/18/2015.

Maybe could extend or shrink if we want to cut off spending time with people on the ends. Or if I wanted to have fewer rest days and more driving days. On that schedule I would have 31 days of driving spread out. I would only drive more than 400 miles in a day 4 times. Those legs don’t have good cut-up-spots. Most days I will drive fewer than 300 miles. I would prefer to be actively driving for less than four hours in a day.

Shanna says she votes for more hiking/nature/camping and less time in cities. I’ll do my best but if we are going to go allllllll the way out to Ithaca to see a friend then I will force her to submit to a little bit of New York City. Neiner.

Incidentally, there are some people scattered throughout the country whom I already assume we will see because I have long standing “I will come see you some day” exchanges with people. (Aunt Mitty, DA, Shalyndra, my ex-internet girlfriend from MDC, some folks in North Carolina, Pittsburgh unschoolers) Those are the folks who have expressed enthusiasm and hope that I will inflict my distinguished personage upon them. *cough* If you think you are not on my list and you want to be on my list you should speak up or I will go about my life assuming people don’t want to see me. Like I do.

It’s interesting thinking about the planning stuff now. I think that if I am going to be medicated then I will need to find some way to beg/borrow/rent a vehicle that will allow us to sleep behind locked doors. That would eliminate about 90% of my paranoia about sleeping alone in a tent with two little kids while I’m stoned. If there is a locked door then there will be enough noise and movement to wake me up.

Must work on that stage of the plan. Less than 18 months to go now. That’s in actual planning stages…

Dreaming of privilege

I miss being really stoned. I hate my dreams. I’m edgy and tense and on the verge of being really snotty.

So recently a friend was talking about food stuff. When he was a kid he was forced to sit at the table until his food was all consumed. He could sit there for hours. Sometimes, if his mom was feeling really nice, she would rewarm things. If after multiple hours of sitting there while getting yelled at didn’t get him to eat his food she would wrap it up, put it in the fridge, then serve it for breakfast.

He describes his early life of being a time when the fear of hunger haunted everyone. Sometimes grocery stores did not have enough of what you wanted so you had to eat the gross stuff.

I contrast this with my own childhood. I wasn’t told to clean my plate. Well, that’s not true. I would occasionally bop through a house that had that rule but I was never there for more than a few weeks. I don’t feel like I have lived with a “clean your plate” rule.

Instead I made my own ramen every meal. I started when I was too young to even use measuring cups. I had a particular pan and I knew the water level was supposed to get close to the screws for the handle. I usually ate out of the pan so that I didn’t have to wash two dishes.

Then I sit down to breakfast with my kids. A breakfast *I* requested because I didn’t yell at all yesterday. I wanted Brussels sprouts because I haven’t been eating enough vegetables in the past few days and I feel kind of off. The meal was rounded out with mozzarella, prosciutto, and scones. Cause I’m nice about the scone bit. Mostly, I ate the Brussels sprouts. (I wonder if I ever would have grown to like them if I hadn’t first eaten them at blacksheeps.)

When I say I “made my own ramen every meal” that is kind of misleading. I made it when we had it. Sometimes I had to walk to the store alone and steal some if I wanted to eat. We rarely lived within a mile of a store so I was walking alone when I was 5, 6, 7.

I look at my daughter and I think, “There is no fucking way in hell I would allow you to walk the 1.4 miles to Safeway alone to steal your own food.”

But my friend doesn’t believe in privilege and I beat my head against a wall trying to find a way to explain to him that I don’t care if he “gets it” I need my daughters to get it. I need for my kids to understand that not everyone has someone to take care of them. I won’t always be here to take care of you.

You have to be prepared for life. It is a privilege to have someone around who teaches you what you need to know.

My friend can cook and prepare a wide variety of vegetables even though he usually won’t eat them on principle because now he is an “adult” and he “doesn’t have to”.

But his lifestyle choices have resulted in diabetes and he isn’t treating it very well. And he refuses to change how he eats. So I’m sad but I don’t expect him to be in my life for that many more years. I’m not going to bother arguing with him about privilege. I’m going to lose that battle and turn my sights on younger people. The people who have a chance of making things substantially different.

I talk to my kids about privilege. I’m very aware of it because I’m handing them a whole train load of privilege I never had and I notice all the time.

My kids expect to be fed good, nutritious, healthy food 3-5 times a day. If you don’t present such food on demand they are incredulous. WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN’T HAVE A SNACK AND I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL LUNCH?! I think my kids have more indignation over being denied a snack than I have over large scale social problems. They have a lot of indignation left to spread around.

Food security is a huge privilege. When someone grows up with always having a sufficient quantity of food but it isn’t always of high quality or good tasting it is a very specific kind of privilege.

I’m aware that I ate a lot more consistently than many children in third world countries. That is terrifying to me. Between the ages of 3 and 12 I probably only missed 3-5 meals a week. That’s not starvation hunger. Sure, I also had a lot of malnutrition because I ate *no* vegetables and very little meat, but I ate.

Privilege is not a binary scale where you have it or you don’t. Privilege is about understanding the good you have gotten from your unique set of life circumstances and knowing that other people may not have that advantage.

I ate enough that I was still able to learn. I was still able to go to stupid schools where they taught me very little and get straight A’s. That’s not true. I never had straight A’s. I always had a D in homework because I refused to do extra work at home. If I can pass your fucking tests leave me alone. Err, and I usually had a bad grade in PE. My body has hurt all the time throughout my life. I was an incredibly unfit child. Now I understand what that means.

I don’t have to care if some of my rich white male friends “believe” in privilege. Their “belief” or not is going to have no impact on my behavior or my beliefs.

It is really easy to deny the existence of privilege when you’ve had so much of it. I’ve been up and down the ladder so many times that I can’t unsee what I have seen. It stays with me.

I grew up with people for whom it was a major life goal to be able to eat out every meal because “cooking is lame”. So they eat at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and 7-11 because that is what they can afford. They then have severe health problems (it doesn’t help that they are completely sedentary) and can’t figure out why.

At this stage of my life I believe that understanding nutrition is a privilege. It’s about education and not everyone has access to early enough education that can shape their lives. It is not *necessarily* tied to wealth because a great many poor people can tell you to eat your greens. Privilege is not *only* about wealth. Privilege is about access to education and teachers and I don’t just mean Teachers Who Are Paid.

If you had a grandmother who taught you how to cook your collard greens you have access to one kind of privilege.

If you had a grandfather who yelled at you to get off your ass and move your body around so you can be healthy you have access to one kind of privilege.

If you had an aunt who would whisper to you about sex and how to keep yourself safe then you have access to one kind of privilege.

If you had an uncle who would teach you sports then you have access to one kind of privilege.

Community, family, education all of these things are tied up together to make privilege. Have you ever noticed how of the top Ivy League schools in the country (which have the potential to be pretty homogenous) instead have extremely different sets of skills they turn out? Cal Tech, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, and MIT don’t turn out identical programmers. They each have different styles and flavors. Because people are shaped by their environment and in turn they shape the environment around them.

My old technical director told me that my college had a “golden period” of about six years where there were an unusual number of students who were all passionately involved in the theatre department. We did bigger shows than usual. We had more community than usual. We had a lot of outside adventures together. We grew up together.

Where you are in the country decides a lot about what kinds of bdsm you can learn to do. You learn from the teachers who are near you. Sure, if you have boatloads of money you can travel and learn from all the big names all over the country, but most people have to just learn within their local communities. Which means that some jackasses who have no business teaching become teachers anyway. To fill the void.

Right now West Virginia is having to deal with some crazy pollution in their water. It means that some people in the United States are finally dealing with some of the insanity our country usually pushes over seas. Go do some research on what Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola do to local watersheds in their overseas plants. It’s horrifying.

Access to clean water shouldn’t be a privilege. But it is if you don’t have enough money to keep the polluters the hell out of your water.

California’s governor has declared us officially in a state of drought and he asks everyone to cut water usage by 20%. So–am I still “gross” for not flushing the toilet every single time I pee? Give me a break.

I have these conversations in my head even while I’m asleep.

What is privilege. How do you talk about it. I get that a great many people use “check your privilege” as a short hand for “shut up white man” but just because people use a worthy phrase in ways I don’t like that doesn’t mean I’m going to get rid of it. I’m not giving up feminism for the same reason. Just because some people who share my label are icki that doesn’t mean I will let them have it.

How do I teach my children to be aware of the fact that their life experiences are unusual and exceptional and they need to think hard about leveling the playing field.

Just because you are a special fucking snow flake getting lots of privilege that does not make you better than anyone else. It’s an accident. You got lucky. What can you do to make your “luck” more of a right for other people? Every child should get to be educated and safe. That isn’t happening right now.

Being able to go through your childhood without being sexually assaulted is a privilege denied to a great many children, regardless of gender.

Being able to go through your life without being the victim of violent crime is another. It’s a privilege and it god damn shouldn’t be. Transsexual women of color are the single most targeted population for violent crime. That makes me cry.

I don’t want to just move the target. I don’t want to say, “Ok, how about if we just talk people into hating the white men instead. Or the brown men. Or the white women. Or the red women or the…”

No. The violence needs to stop. How do we do that?

How do we teach people that violence isn’t the answer? How do we teach awareness of privilege without playing the Oppression Olympics?

Yes, into every life a bit of hardship has to come. If your hardship was getting beaten up in grade school maybe it’s time to stop hating everyone in the world because your life was sooooooooo hard. Yes. It was hard. I don’t deny that. Have you been beaten up in the last twenty years? No? Then can we maybe focus on getting the people out of danger who were beaten up yesterday and who are probably going to be beaten up tomorrow instead of sitting around talking about poor you?

I am not the center of every conversation I have. Sure I’m the center of most of my blog posts (that is the nature of writing and all) but I am not the most important person in almost any conversation. I understand that my life was weird and on the fringe and in many ways privileged beyond my comprehension regardless of the ways I was not privileged.

Now that they hate me I can be more frank about the fact that I probably wouldn’t have gotten my dog bite settlement if I hadn’t been white. The neighbor who defended me didn’t let his pwecious widdle baby girl hang out with the brown kids in the neighborhood.

I am more in favor of a guaranteed income as I get older. I had one. I had $14,400 to live on for the first twelve years of my adult life. It changed everything for me. It’s not a lot of money but it was enough for me to squeak by and more importantly it was GUARANTEED. I didn’t have to feel fear every month about how I would get things paid for. I didn’t have to try to work extra shifts or cry when my shifts were cut. I had my money.

I feel like that was one of the most important things that has happened to me in the whole story of my life. I’m so glad that pit bull attacked me. (I swear I didn’t antagonize the dog so I could get a settlement. It wouldn’t have entered into my mind.)

Having two parents in your home who love you and are kind to you every day is a privilege. It gives the gift of a settled nervous system. It gives you the ability to be calm. It gives you the ability to work out problems without being hurt unduly by mistakes.

Having parents who “force” you to learn to clean up after yourself is a privilege. It allows you to be more able to care for yourself as you become an adult. You won’t thrash and fail because you are unprepared. Having parents who educate you about how food works and how your body works is a privilege. Having parents who insist on you being physically strong is a privilege.

Having people look at you and say, “You are incredible. You could do just about anything you want to do. You are going to have to have to work really hard for all of it because all the worthy things are hard work” is a privilege.

Having access to toys that shape your learning is a privilege.


No, these aren’t just “differences”. These are about advantages. These are about the fact that humans don’t learn in a vacuum. Humans can learn as much and as fast as we can because we aren’t all starting from scratch with a bunch of sticks. We build on the collective knowledge of those who are around us and those who have come before us. The more access to that collective bunch of knowledge a person has the more they can do. Period. Yes, it’s a privilege.

Today should be quiet. Good. I want away from my dreams for a bit. I hate sleeping.

Thinking about stuff else-net.

Sometimes I look at the way people “ask for help” and I think “you don’t actually want help. You want to be pissed at people for failing to help you.”

It is easier to see it when someone else is doing it in front of me. I’m pretty sure I do that sometimes.

I’m struggling with the line between “I want to help EVERYBODY” and “Well, I don’t want to help you because you annoy me.”

It’s a good thing I don’t have a lot of spoons left to hand out any way. This person is clearly more interested in being pissed off about the stuff that happened a long time ago than in doing actual healing.

Healing from trauma is messy, painful, and inconvenient. If you expect therapy to “make you feel all better” without any messy or painful bits then you can keep dreaming. And keep firing therapists. You can say that it is all the fault of all 50 of those therapists that you aren’t better.

But you know what? You are responsible for you. Not anyone else.

I’m responsible for me. If I want to be “better” I have to first define what “better” means and then I have to do every single step of walking to get there. No one can do it for me. It’s hard. It’s life. I can’t make someone else have an easy journey. I can’t make me have an early journey.

Sometimes life is just hard. And on that note I am going to stop beating my head against the wall with this person. I can’t fix him. I will never even know who he is. He can’t be a project of mine.

I have too many projects going already.

Find gratitude

I’ve had a lot of time over the last few days to think about my husband and our relationship. Before we had kids I sat down and read a bunch of stuff about divorce and custody and I forced him through some terrible conversations. I was very blunt about what each of us would have to do in order to be reasonable co-parents because it really doesn’t fucking matter how the grown ups feel, you have to show up for your kids. We made some firm agreements about behavior.

I feel grateful that I am married to someone who doesn’t have a lot of intense emotions. I’m enough crazy for this house. It makes it a lot more likely that I can predict his behavior. On the flip side I’m glad he puts up with my frequent hysteria and over reactions. I’m aware that I over react to most things, at least as first. Noah says it isn’t too bad to put up with because I state “I’m over reacting–give me a bit to calm down” and then I can react in a more rational way; I just need to be given space for my explosion of emotion.

I feel so grateful that I get to have this experience.

Noah tolerates my explosions of emotion the way I tolerate them from my little kids. “Wow. You are having some feelings. What actions do you think could solve this? Want to wait a bit till you are done with the feelings? Ok. I’ll just sit here. If you want a hug I’ve got some to spare.”

It’s a whole reparenting situation. I am so grateful.

I think that the reason things go as well with Noah as they do is because neither of us expect to do 50% of anything. We both expect that we’ll get dumped with way the fuck more than our share of whatever and we are grateful when it doesn’t happen. The secret to happiness is low expectations. This is what my husband tells me.

Sometimes, for many days in a row, my husband wakes up and makes breakfast then goes to work. Then he comes home and cleans up from breakfast and lunch and then he makes dinner. Then he cleans up the clutter in the living room. Then he reads to the kids and brushes their teeth and puts them to bed. Because sometimes I just flat need him to do that. Some days I look pretty fucking useless. But I didn’t yell at the kids! That was my goal for the day!

He’s ok with that being the only goal I hit in a day. Even if it does mean he gets shafted with a whole bunch of extra work. I’m grateful that he believes in the same priority list I believe in.

But on the flip side, when I’m on he won’t have to clean or do any night time cooking for weeks and rarely even a month in a row. Sometimes he can go many weeks in a row only hanging out with the kids at home without doing any chores. I try to take breaks from draining projects so I can make his life easier sometimes too.

Balance is important. I try to watch how fried he is getting. If he is more and more tired and worn out looking I try to up my game for a bit. Sometimes I’m even nice enough to cook him breakfast. He’s usually pretty grateful and sweet.

Every day at breakfast and dinner the non-cooking parent effusively thanks the cooking parent. That is just something I think should be modeled every single day. Every day the non-cleaning parent comments on how nice the house looks and thanks the cleaning parent. Doesn’t matter who cleans, they get thanked.

Every night at dinner we talk about our favorite part of the day. We share what happened and who we saw and the gist of what we talked about. I read that the most “successful and happy” families know a lot about one another. I’m starting to ask more often about peoples least favorite parts of the day. That matters too.

I feel so grateful that I found a partner who is on board for the wacky unschooling journey. I feel so grateful that I found a partner who will cheerfully send me off on long trips without him. He doesn’t have that need to wander that I have. (At this stage I have grown to understand that I can’t use gypsy ever again because it is a racial name, but I have never heard a better name for my inability to sit in one place forever. I have to move. I have to see new things and meet new people. Any better words? Anyone?)

I grew up moving all the time. I’m grateful that Noah is happy to go off and earn boatloads of money so I can afford the travel I want to do. Talk about privilege and luxury. I’m grateful that Noah gave me a place to put down roots but he doesn’t want to take away my wings.

Noah doesn’t want ALL of my attention (I think he would drown or go mad) and he’s pretty happy to send me off into the world so I can come back with cool stories. Ok, so they won’t be sex stories anymore… that’s ok!

Mostly I’m grateful I found someone with the same attitudes about child rearing as I have. Or rather, someone who is happy to listen to me go on and on and on and on and on about the research I read and mostly agree to the things I put forth.

We are a non-hitting household. If you want children to learn to manage their emotions you have to model it and not scream at them to stop screaming. Attachment formation and relationship building are mandatory things to do even when you aren’t in the fucking mood. You say goodbye and give hugs and kisses to everyone who wants them EVERY time you leave the house. You have no idea when you will be hit by a bus and we are not parting this life on bad terms. No matter how mad I may be. (I’m the one who would stomp out in my family.)

I feel grateful that my mistakes are responded to with patience and kindness and love. I make a lot of mistakes. Big mistakes. Huge mistakes. Sometimes mean mistakes. I am forgiven for the first and only time in my life. No one else has ever been able to really consistently forgive me for my mistakes.

I am so grateful.

I feel grateful that I have a partner who will call me on my shitty behavior and ask me to do better because he believes I am capable. He knows it is a slip and not a lack of caring or lack of desire to be good/kind.

I need you.

Those three words make my heart start racing like I just completed a sprint. You need me? OK! What do you need?! I CAN DO IT! This morning my baby woke up scared and needed to cuddle me. Easy peasy. I have a firm policy of waking up with a smile if my kids wake me up saying “I need you”. Ok. It’s my job to be there when you need me, so yes ma’am.

Do you know why my kids have good manners? Because I say yes ma’am and no ma’am to them for just about everything. If my kids scream at me I raise an eyebrow and say, “Try again” in a calm voice. If they scream a second time I say, “Do I respond well to screaming?” Then they visibly shake themselves off and calm down enough to ask for what they want.

Based on the dozens and dozens of books I’ve read about early childhood development the first 5-7 years of life should be spent on socialization, attachment formation, and learning to manage your emotions. I have gone through my life crippled by my inability to manage my emotions in times of stress and that is largely because I was not taught how to deal with my body. If I grew distressed I was punished.

I don’t let my kids have a lot of screen time because screen time is shown to increase emotional dysregulation. I feel it would be counter productive to hand them a bunch of emotional dysregulation during the period of their life when they are poorly regulated and struggling for basic control. I mean, they are pretty good and all… but they are 3 and 5. They are good for their ages and that means they have a lot of work left to do.

I think about this because when I babysit for other kids I learn that the short cuts I’ve worked on with my kids don’t work as well. My kids respond to “Try again”. “Will that work?” is enough to stop the vast majority of tantrums. “So what is your goal here?” is another favorite I lean on extensively. I talk them through how to get what they want without using methods that will result in escalation of conflict. That’s what I spend my days doing. I hang out with them and help them manage their emotions as they are doing what they want to do.

Other peoples children kind of look at me blankly if I just say “Try again” and that’s hard at this phase. I have to turn around and manage my own frustration and emotional dysregulation because my short hand didn’t communicate what I wanted it to communicate and so I am left struggling to find phrasing that will work which means a bunch of quick thinking. I shouldn’t complain. But man I am grateful I have been able to train my kids the way I have.

Yup, I’ve trained my kids. And it’s awesome.

I feel a lot of guilt for not actually having the control I wish I had. I feel a lot of shame for the fact that if my children were less well trained I would have a much harder time being nice. It is hard for me to be nice to other peoples kids who don’t respond to the training cues.

I *do not* yell or scream or shame or respond badly to children not understanding my cues. Instead I take a deep breathe and smile and out comes a whole flood of words that explains why I’m asking what I’m asking and I give them a whole bunch of suggestions for how to solve whatever problem is coming up.

But it’s hard. It wears my body out to emotionally flood that many times in a short period of time. I believe that the children deserve the respect so I’m going to deliver it even if it means I cry the whole way home because my body feels like shit and I’m tired and worn out. My stomach hurts so bad.

Sometimes my physical comfort is not the highest priority in my life. That’s hard. Sometimes my friends need help and I’m the one who could show up and supply the necessary help and I believe in Pay It Forward like I believe It Takes All Kinds. I HAVE to step up when friends have nowhere else to look for support. If I don’t then the ship will go down and it will be partially my fault.

No, not really. Other people having problems in their lives isn’t my fault. But if the reason I choose not to help is because it is hard and it makes me feel bad and I cry for an hour or two afterwards because of stress… that’s not a good enough reason to choose not to help in a crisis. That’s a good enough reason to not sign up for four home school outings in a week. That’s a good enough reason to not sign up for helping once a week indefinitely. But it’s not a good enough reason to refuse help in a crisis.

Which leads back to spoon management with my kids in my life.

I have to leave enough slack all the time to absorb occasional bursts of spoon excess in one area or another. This is part of why I’ve been reading so much lately. I’m trying to build slack into my spoon usage. There are times when all of a sudden I use extra spoons on a project or on driving or on helping other people and I have to be able to continue delivering the same quality and quantity of care to my kids.

Taking care of my kids is hard but worthwhile. I’ve been doing really well post-Christmas. I am staying more level. I’m responding in the right tone of voice and I’m responding in a timely fashion instead of sometimes choosing to let them fight it out because I can’t intervene in a timely fashion in the right way. (I don’t let them physically fight things out but sometimes if they want to have a screaming match over something I will tell them that they can scream at each other in the back yard.) Mostly I try to help them work things out. It’s exhausting to be a referee all day.

So given that my focus is on socialization, attachment formation, and emotional regulation it’s kind of funny when a friend says, “So how about their academics? When do you do that?”

Err… I don’t. Not really. I mean, I read to them a lot. I read to my kids for 5-15 hours a week depending on the week. Noah reads to the kids for an additional 5-10 hours a week. As often as possible I sucker my friends into reading to the kids.

I get workbooks when Shanna is given her “school allotment” and she goes shopping and says, “I think I should practice shaping letters so let’s get a workbook”. I never indicate that she should get out a workbook and practice. But the suckers are being used steadily. I feel kind of confused by her choosing to do worksheets, but whatever makes you happy kiddo.

That said: if you go through the kindergarten standards (Which I do–quite regularly) you would find that Shanna was more or less competent on the full curriculum before the start of her “kindergarden” year. Given that the state now believes children should be fluent readers in first grade she is *not* through the first grade curriculum but I think the state is on crack for expecting that anyway.

(I mean for science: one of the many things kids should know why different kinds of plants grow in different environments. Shanna can give you long lectures on the evolution of plants and animals. We watch a lot of documentaries and I feel pretty surprised by what she knows. She designs structures so she can talk about what things work better and why. Sure a lot of her structures are meant to be froofy princess shit, but whatever. I don’t care if you are building a castle or a space station–you are building. It works.)

I will confess that I need to get my hands on a globe so we can play with a flashlight and talk about the seasons more. We’ve talked about it representationally on flat maps… but that’s not the same. I need to get off my butt.

We work on the PE skills in malls all the time. How do you learn to be aware of your body? How do you move through crowds without bumping people? How do you decide which objects you can go under or over in a public place? Or must you go around them on the side? This is what kindergarden PE teaches. We play catch and kick ball. They do yoga and go on three mile walks a few times a week. (I’ve been better lately.) Sure, Calli gets piggy back rides for over a mile of the walk… but she’s hella short. She’ll get there.

I will confess that my kids are not fully versed on the “triumphs of American history” but they do know a lot about racial issues through the history of this country. Shanna call tell you about segregation and Jim Crow laws and why Rosa Parks was important. I’m going to keep doing things my way instead of talking about how awesome Paul Revere was. (I mean… really he was a patent thief and an asshole and there was a girl riding the alarm the same night as him but HISTORY IGNORES HER. Ahem.)

Given that all of the kindergarden reading/language arts standards are “With prompting and support” yes, Shanna can do all that is expected of a five year old. She can tell you about myths from different cultures. She can tell you that a poem rhymes and a narrative tells a story in plain English. She can identify the narrator and she understands “what’s the point” as “tell me about the plot”. She can count to 100 (and beyond, I think) and add and do basic subtraction. She understands the beginnings of numeral placement. She knows her shape and can talk about what is necessary for each kind of shape.

And no, I don’t spend time on academics. I’m not going to waste her time. But what I mean when I say “I don’t spend time on academics” is I don’t ever sit down with a curriculum written by someone else and say, “Ok now it is time for school.”

We talk about cylinders as we are putting dishes away. We talk about the difference between a square and a rectangle when we build raised beds in the back yard. We do addition practice in the car because she starts it.

I do not direct her learning much. I don’t pick the whack job documentaries she watches, though I try to watch with her. She can talk to you about generations of animals dying out–whole species! She’s fascinated by the way animals change over time. She’s pissed off that evolution doesn’t happen fast enough for her to really watch it in her lifetime.

I talk to my kids all day long about everything I see. “Why do you think they made this bench out of wood and this other one out of metal?” “What is this made out of?” My kid can tell you the merits of using different kinds of spatulas to cook different foods.

We do science by cooking and gardening. We talk about history all the time. I’m fond of saying, “We study history because humans have been alive a long time. Almost every mistake that you will want to make has already been made by someone else. You can learn a lot if you just read about people and their choices.”

My kids are growing up in a house where “hacking” DOES NOT MEAN following directions on a kit that some forking grown up made for you. No. That’s not how life works. You are not going to spend your life just following directions that someone else makes up. You are going to have to make your own directions. How do you do that?

If you want to learn to sew (which Shanna does) I can show you the basics and I can provide you with materials, but no I’m not going to do it while you watch and I’m not going to stand next to you and micromanage you doing it perfectly. You are going to mess up and feel frustration. You are going to have to learn how to rip out your own seams and try again.

I can’t make things easy for you. I wouldn’t even if I could. Life isn’t going to be easy.

My job is to help you learn emotional regulation and help you feel like you matter in the world so that you won’t spend your life wanting to kill yourself because you believe you are a worthless piece of shit.

Everything else you can learn as you go. I promise.

At the end of kindergarden they wanted to hold me back because I wasn’t mature enough. I’d been to five fucking kindergardens, no I wasn’t as “advanced” compared to the kids in the tiny school I was in last that year. The teacher thought I was stupid because I couldn’t read yet. I picked up reading in first grade and by second grade I was testing at the 10th grade level.

I’m not worried about early asymmetrical growth. Don’t you understand that the standards were created by bureaucrats and *not* educational specialists? (Go ask education specialists. You will find a few who endorse the standards but mostly they don’t like the idea of a national curriculum–people don’t work that way.)

“The things that are the hardest to learn are often the most rewarding once you master them. You have to keep trying even when something makes you mad.”

That’s what my kids hear over and over. A far cry from “I guess I can’t do math because I’m a girl.” That’s what I believed as a child. Because I was told that math was hard for me because I was just a stupid girl. Word for word. Over and over.

When my kids try to do something that is way too hard for them they say, “Whoa. I think I need to learn a bit more before I understand this.” I almost fell out of my chair laughing when Calli said that. She was confused but delighted that she made me laugh.

I think my saving grace with children is I don’t expect them to do much or support me. I understand that the support is a one way street. I do the supporting. That means I never get disappointed and lash out at them for not helping me when I want/need help. I have internalized so thoroughly that it isn’t their job.

That said they have more and more chores. Shanna unloads the dishwasher, clears the table, and keeps her stuff tidy. When she has to clean up her toys she often says, “What am I, your maid!?” I tell her that until I start forcing her to do laundry for the whole family and do the sweeping and mopping and vacuuming she doesn’t get to claim maid status. I’m teaching her to clean up after herself which means she is being her own maid… not mine. She generally doesn’t argue much.

And now I have a wonderful girl on my lap. She says she wants to watch The West Wing with me. heh.