Monday, March 31, 2014

Fonts

Every week, I send out a newsletter to our extended family. When I'm pregnant, I come up with possible and/or silly names for the coming addition to use in the signature line.

This pregnancy, I've been using names of typefaces available in MS Word: Vrinda, Helvetica, Euphemia, Ebrima, and Perpetua. As long as they end with the letter "a", they can work as a girls' name, given U.S. naming trends. My mother was appalled at Ebrima; she thought I was seriously considering it as a name. Heehee.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring Break

We did hardly anything that would qualify as "school work" this week because it is the local schools' spring break. As part-time school attenders, we decided we were on vacation, too.

We went to the zoo, visited the library, hung out with cousins who live an hour away and sewed and stuffed long snake toys, and had a playdate with some friends. My children learned more about sewing and crafts, grew better at rollerskating, and worked on developing their social skills. :)

My oldest child even learned to use a glue gun in the course of making a gray jay's nest for a school project; it involved gluing a lot of leaves and twigs together. And lots of running her fingers under cold water in the kitchen sink, which was right by where I was having her use the glue gun. However do those birds make such strong nests without glue guns? Nature is amazing.

Dd4 started seriously acting up about a week ago, and I realized that she was probably bored. She wasn't ready to learn to read a few months ago, so I dropped it. But now she is ready and needs her mind stimulated by non-destructive pursuits such as reading, so we started doing the lessons in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We already finished 11 lessons, and she's doing great. She surprised me as we were driving into the zoo by looking at one of the zoo signs and saying, "Mommy, that sign says zoo!" It's such a great pleasure to watch a young child "crack" the reading code.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Boring trend in children's movies

I've noticed a trend in children's movies during the last few years. It seems that the big breakthrough that makes it possible for the hero/heroine to prevail is that they learn to "be themselves" and then maybe die for some greater good. That's it? Death is unpleasant but relatively easy. Whatever happened to putting forth some effort to be skillful knights, clever damsels, or even prettily-singing princesses and poor-but-honest shoeshine boys? Maybe I'm missing something as I observe these recent movies with half-minded attention from the kitchen, but they seem to be fixated on telling kids that they're awesome just for being themselves. Oh, and that heroes win by dying.

Now, I see nothing wrong with teaching children that they are of worth. They are. But awesomeness goes quite a bit beyond regular human worth. Most children truly haven't done anything to merit the label "awesome." Mozart, the four-year-old-concerto-composer, is notable for being an exception to this general rule.

It's really easy to be one's self (who else are we?) and rather boring on top of that, unless one thinks that one's self is just so cool. We can't all be that cool, or the word loses its meaning (i.e., excellent).

I love the movies where the children's heroes actually have to do something hard--besides just die in the face of doom that was impending anyway--to overcome the odds and give us a victory worth watching. For example, the Incredibles and Mulan showed great examples of effort, skill, and intelligence combined with sacrifice, and both movies can still bring me to tears. Flynn from Tangled is an acceptable hero because of how he turns away from his former selfish ways and cleverly figures out a way to save Rapunzel instead of himself. Anna from Frozen was a mediocre attempt at a heroine (she was already dying with no guarantee that Kristoff, whom she'd met even more recently than her weasel-fiance, could save her when she chose to run over to shield her sister), but judging from my Facebook feed, Elsa is the more popular character, and her character is an unfortunate victim, not a hero, so I'll probably not buy that film. Wreck-It Ralph was the primary inspiration for this blog post.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Third Trimester

I made it! Less than three months until this little girl joins our family.

In the past, I have gone past 40 weeks of pregnancy, but I refuse to do it this time. There is nothing to be gained by waiting to go into labor naturally once I'm past 39 weeks unless my body surprises me by not being ready for labor then, which would be extremely unusual given my past history. My Bishop score (a measure of how successful induction will likely be) is already halfway to where it needs to be because this will be my fifth baby. Also, I'm approaching 40 years old, and I know women near my age who have miscarried around 40 weeks. Recent research makes it clear that, given my circumstances, I can maximize my chances of my baby surviving and even minimize my chances of harm to myself by delivering her at 39 weeks. I'm already planning to take myself out for Indian food in 11 weeks...and then having a medical induction if that doesn't work. :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Vitamin K shot for newborns

Today I came across this blog post by a mom who neglected to get a Vitamin K shot for her newborn little girl. The mom didn't intentionally opt out of the shot; she had a postpartum hemorrhage that made it so everyone at the birth center forgot about discussing whether to give the shot to the baby. Her one-month-old baby became lethargic and ended up having a very serious medical issue due to Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB):
Dr. Mellema explain that a clot had developed which was placing immense pressure on Olive’s brain. Not only that, but there was bleeding on the back of the right side of her brain as well. The water pockets that are within the brain were completely destroyed, and the tissue on the left side of the brain looked mostly damaged. He said that the lack of Vitamin K in Olive’s system resulted in her body’s inability to clot. Anything as small as putting her down in her bed could have caused this bleed. Since she couldn’t clot, the bleeding didn’t stop. There had been one other case of this that the doctor had seen – I asked what had happened then, and was told that the baby hadn’t lived. We were told that in the small chance that she did survive, Olive would most likely suffer from severe brain damage.

The mother is LDS, so it was easy to put myself in her shoes as she described her reactions and then her reliance on doctors, faith, and priesthood blessings. I'm happy to say that the baby is doing much better and doesn't show signs of severe brain damage now.

The mother recently posted that her baby's brain bleeding was nearly 100% preventable and encouraged everyone to get the Vitamin K shot for their newborns. I second her encouragement. Vitamin K is not a vaccine, and it's distressing to see the Vitamin K shot get lumped in with childhood immunizations and declined by those worried about vaccine risks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Radioactive

Over Christmas, my children's visiting nine-year-old cousin introduced them to the music video for "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons. They love the puppets, and the actors in it are talented and well-known--hurrah for Lou Diamond Phillips, who will always be a calculus-learning Angeleno to me even if he really is a Filipino-American raised in Texas--so the video became an oft-played favorite. So much so that when dd9, dd7, and dd4 were swinging at the park today, they started singing "Radioactive" at the top of their voices. Pretty much the whole song. As loud as they could.

And since I was pushing dd4's swing the whole time, I couldn't escape and pretend not to be associated with them. Those were my sweet little girls, filling the park with these shouted lyrics:
I'm waking up to ash and dust I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust I'm breathing in the chemicals
I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus This is it, the apocalypse
Whoa I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones Enough to make my systems blow Welcome to the new age, to the new age Welcome to the new age, to the new age Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive

Parenthood is great.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Field Trip to Texas

We have mostly recovered from a field trip to Texas last week. My husband's work sent him to the SXSWedu (South by Southwest Education) conference in Austin, Texas, so we decided to all go along.

We saw the longhorn cattle in Fort Worth, the Alamo and the River Walk in San Antonio, and the Texas State Capitol in Austin. We also visited relatives and friends and spent some unplanned time getting the car serviced.

River Walk in San Antonio, Texas

For my animal lover, dd9, we made sure to go to SeaWorld San Antonio. I know there is a lot of controversy right now about orcas in captivity, especially due to the recent documentary Blackfish, but I think she is too young to try to sort through the competing claims of that issue, so I haven't shown it to her. Personally, I consider it valuable for some well-cared-for animals to be on exhibition to the public. If it weren't for the existence of zoos and similar places, my children probably wouldn't love animals nor be concerned for their welfare. Not everyone can (or probably should) go chasing whales and dolphins around on tour boats.