Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Days are getting shorter. Election day is almost here.



This picture was taken recently as the sun was getting ready to set.   I love the golden hues of this time of day at this time of the year.

I am finding myself feeling more and more discombobulated as the coronavirus pandemic goes on and on and people keep getting sick- many of them dying.   
The campaign for the 2020 presidential election keeps getting crazier by the day.  Trump has always been way over the top, but now he has come completely off the rails.   My sister and I voted early.  Record numbers of people all over the country are voting early.  The though was that by encouraging early voting there would be less contact and more social distancing.  I think a lot of us are voting early because we are suspicious of the opposition and what they will do to steal this election.  I do fear violence at the polls on election day and I honestly hope I am wrong.

Meanwhile, in my corner of the world, a friend's husband died.  It was expected.  He was 84 and on hospice care.  But the pandemic made it harder for the family to say their goodbyes and hold a larger funeral.

Another friend's father (also in his 80s) is in the ICU on a ventilator with Covid 19.    A friend's great aunt is in the hospital with Covid.  

Oh, and a friend just revealed that she has Alzheimer's .

I miss my in person La Leche League meetings.  I have been trying to hold Zoom, online meetings, but it takes a lot out of me.   I have decided to take a break for a while.  Another LLL Group has offered to take in "my moms".

I am a moderator on  a Facebook group for parents (mostly moms) who are seeking information and support for co-sleeping (sleeping with their babies) safely.   I got the support for my mothering, including co-sleeping, from La Leche League.  I know that with the pandemic, nobody is going to any in person meetings.  But I suspect most of these moms wouldn't go anyway.  And it's too bad.  They could get real support and meet other moms in the same situation.

I cannot imagine being a new mom right now.   The misinformation they get now is as bad as if not worse than what I got almost 43 years ago.     Oh well.

It's almost 2:30 in the afternoon, and Nick and I are both still in our pajamas!

We are not handing out Halloween candy this year (covid).  Not doing much for Thanksgiving or Christmas.   

What a stupid year 2020 has been .    

On a happier note, I met my sister at a pet rescue place and she got this wonderful little dog.  The dog's name is Princess Leah.  I suggested "Lady"  we'll see.

Election day is November 3rd.  Will we celebrate or cry?  I guess we'll see.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Courtney age 4 months with Great Grandma Burke age 99, in 1978

My mom's cousin had five children.  A daughter and four sons.  He didn't have any grandchildren even though his kids were all grown and out of the house.

I remember (in my judgmental way) wondering what happened?  Were they such terrible parents that their children did not want to have children of their own?   I was really baffled.

Then my own five kids, one girl and four boys, grew up.  And started getting married.  As my husband and I got older, as happens if you are lucky.

My daughter made it clear that she never was going to have children.  Friends would say "she'll change her mind".   Patronizing.  But who knows.  I was, and am sure she is not going to have children.  I love her and respect her and will support her life choices.    But, she would have made a cool mom.  She is so smart and interesting.   Her life her choice.

My boys have pretty much expressed an interest in being parents.   But so far it has not happened.  The two oldest got married with the express plan to have families.  And they both have since been divorced (as has my daughter but that is not relevant to these things I am writing about).   And, in retrospect it is a good thing that there were no children involved.

I always knew" that I would be a mother.  My ideas of what would happen evolved.   My original thought was that I would go to medical school.  Have a couple of babies.  Take off six weeks for each one and get back to the important work of adulting.   

Thing is,  I didn't go to medical school.  I dropped out of college.  I was a terrible student, plus we were so broke that I felt the need to work.  For money I mean.

Once Nick finished law school, and started working in the adult world, I was ready to be a mom.  I wanted to be pregnant.  I wanted to see and feel my belly growing.  I was almost consumed by the thought.    

We went to a doctor who did a bunch of tests, put me on fertility drugs and said that if they don't work in the first four months, they probably won't work.  They didn't work.

Of course, eventually we did end up having our kids.  We decided that it would be a good choice for me to stay home and raise our kids ourselves.

I loved the idea of being a stay at home mom.  As a feminist I had no problem with the choice because it was a choice.

There were times when being a mother was very hard.  Aggravating.  Tiring .    Hard.  Frustrating.   I am afraid I was not very good at hiding those feelings.

But, there was the amazing joy too.  Holding out your hands to your little one as they take their first steps.   Looking down at a milky smile when they are nursing.    Seeing them being kind to other people.    Playing peek-a-boo and having the wonderful sounds of laughter.    Kissing a boo boo and making it better.

There was the frustration when a little voice says "I want Mommy", but there is also the satisfaction in knowing  that you really are wanted and needed in that moment.

My greatest regret is how angry I would get.  Shouting and the kids.  Making them feel bad.  It was really not their fault that I was not able to be all things to all people all of the time.

Would I do it over again? In a heartbeat.    What would I change?  I would be more patient and less annoyed.    I would realize how fast the precious moments go and there's no sleeping teen needing to be woken up to catch the bus.  No chatter at the dinner table.   

I think, I imagine at least, that this is some of what makes being a grandparent so special.  You get a part of your child back.  You get to relive the joy and wonder.  And you don't have the weight of the world on your parental shoulders.

So, will we ever become grandparents?  Who knows.  If we do, we will have passed the time when we can crawl around the floor with little ones.   

I get to see and hold babies a lot anyway.  Except for the last seven months or so with the pandemic.   

We've done good.  We raised five remarkable people.   And they all still speak to us and love us.  That's so special.  I feel very lucky.

11 brutally honest reasons millenials don't want kids


When it comes to embarking on the journey of parenthood, lots of millennials are saying, "Meh. No, thanks."

According to data from the Urban Institute, birth rates among 20-something women declined 15% between 2007 and 2012. Additional research from the Pew Research Center reflects a longer-term trend of women eschewing parenthood as the number of U.S. women who choose to forego motherhood altogether has doubled since 1970.

This trend is fascinating, in part because there's long been a taboo associated with people (particularly, women) choosing to opt out of parenthood. Women who choose not to have kids have been referred to as "shallow" and "self-absorbed," and even the pope has said the decision not to procreate is fundamentally "selfish." 

In an effort to find out why so many young people are really deciding against prenthood, we solicited dozens of responses from our audience via Tumblr and Google Forms. The responses we received from people of all sexes and identities reveal that there are myriad reasons why people are opting out of parenthood — and all of them are equally valid. 

1. Kids aren't always financially feasible — especially if you have student loans.

Whether it's the medical costs of giving birth or the lifetime financial commitment that having a child entails, financial reasons were one of the most popular behind why people didn't want kids. Many respondents also specifically called out their student loans as a reason for not being able to afford kids — a trend that doesn't seem to be going anywhere, if the total student debt of the Class of 2015 is any indication.

"It leaves your body and it costs $20-30K. I've $40K in student loans already taking up the rest of my life. And that's best case scenario. If anything goes wrong, double it."

"I'm pan[sexual] and currently in a relationship with a woman. Having a child biologically would involve a huge medical bill."

"If I can hardly afford to live well now on my income, how can I be expected to give a child the life they


2. There's a strong fear of passing down mental health issues.

Those who have struggled with various mental illnesses reported being particularly wary of bringing kids into the world, out of a fear that they would inherit the painful experiences they themselves went through. 

"I made up my mind when I had diagnosed with the same mental illness that my mother has. Being raised by my mother who has manic depression was scary. You shouldn't be afraid of your parent."

"I've struggled with depression and if I passed that pain on I would feel horrid for inflicting that sadness and numbing on another human. No one deserves to live like this if it can be prevented." 

"I am mentally ill and mental illnesses than mine run in my family, as do autoimmune disorders. I do not want to bring a child into the world knowing that there's a strong chance it will struggle like I have."


3. The population is already out of control.

Some concerned citizens cited overcrowding and environmental concerns as reasons to fear a rapidly growing population. While there's some debate as to whether or not overpopulation is a serious threat to humanity, many millennials see it as a legitimate reason to avoid adding more humans to the equation.

"There are too many unwanted kids on the planet as is, so I don't want to bring more into the world. I'm adopting if I ever decide I want kids. People don't understand how bad having a large population is."

"I joined [the] zero population growth movement a long time ago for environmental reasons." 

"I think we need more do-ers and innovators compared to repopulaters."


4. Fertility issues can give a different perspective on the necessity of having kids.

While one might assume that infertility only affects older women, some millennials struggle to naturally conceive as well. In fact, according to 2002 data from the Centers for Disease Control, 11% of married women under 29 have dealt with fertility issues. For some women, this can lead them to reconsider whether they even want a kid in the first place.

"I can't have kids naturally. It's not a sad thing though. A lot of other women get upset when I tell them that, but I just say I really have no right to complain about one gift I didn't receive when I have been given so many to begin with." 

5. Pregnancy can take a serious physical toll. Even in the 21st century, childbirth is a strenuous (not to mention potentially dangerous) physical ordeal. Plenty of women just aren't into the idea of using their uteruses as an "incubator," as one very honest respondent put it. 
"I'm completely squicked out by pregnancy and labor. Full-on body horror." 
"The physical changes my body would go through with the pain of birth is not appealing at all to me."
"The idea of carrying a child makes me nauseous." 


 6. With kids comes the pressure to make perfect choices.

Although people who don't want to have kids are often called "selfish," our survey showed they're 

anything but. If nothing else, our respondents were well aware that the responsibility to be a good parent means consistently putting the child first and making healthy choices for them, and they didn't feel they were up to that challenge. 

"It overwhelms me to think that there would be a tiny little person growing inside of me, depending on me to make healthy choices." 

"I might fuck them up with horrible parenting.


7. Not all women are preprogrammed with maternal instincts.

Much like comedian Margaret Cho, who once joked that she "ovulates sand," many women told Mic that they simply didn't feel they were born with motherly urges.

"I have personally have never felt the 'motherly instinct' that girls my age who are getting married and pregnant rave about. I have had multiple encounters with children throughout life and it is always an awkward and anxious experience for me."

"Children always have irritated me to no end. The only time I enjoy children is when they are quiet, humble, intelligent beings. Obviously these conditions are unreasonable to expect of the tiny humans, so for me, the logical solution is to not have any of my own."


8. The world isn't always a nice place.

Sometimes the decision to not be a parent is as simple as wanting to spare a child from having to live in a world of jerks. Citing factors like global inequalitybullying or a general discontent with society, many readers don't want their offspring to have to deal with the world's problems. 

"I feel we have too many issues recently with law enforcement and government that I do not feel comfortable upbringing kids into this society."

"I was bullied a lot as a child. I know what children are capable of and it scares me. I see all children as a potential future threat, simply because about 70% of people in my year group were bullies, and most of them still are. I wouldn't want a child to have to live in a world where they'll either be bullied, or be the bully. I don't think I could handle seeing my child cry from being made fun of, or being told my own child had made someone else cry for fun."

"Honestly our society is kind of fucked up; I don't need to send someone out into that."


9. Sometimes, career ambitions take priority.

There is research suggesting that the idea of "having it all"—both a family and a kickass career—is something of an unattainable myth. So it's not surprising that a number of our respondents reported they see parenthood vs. career success as an impossible choice to make. Many said they would only view children as possible hindrances to their lofty career goals.

"I don't want to have kids because I am studying to be a surgeon and I don't think I could give them the attention they need with such a demanding job."

"When I imagine my future, I just don't see any [kids]. I love what I'm studying and I want to get the most out of my career. Whether that includes endless overtime, sleepless nights, relocating, and/or travel."

I have noted from quite a young age that when a man and a women get married and have children — it almost always means the women becomes a housewife (unless the parents both have to work). I have worked hard in school and would love to get married some day, but the idea that I would quite my job that I have worked my whole life to stay home for the next 18+ years does not appeal to me."


10. Children don't fit into every lifestyle.

Even when career goals weren't the primary reason behind the decision, many respondents cited a desire to preserve their already-fulfilling lifestyles as an equally compelling reason why they didn't want kids. These respondents felt that their lives were full (and busy) enough as is, without the added responsibilities that come with having children.

"My dream is to visit all 195 countries in the world (been to 23 so far) and I really don't feel like a child fits into the nomad lifestyle I want to live."

"With the way I want to live my life, kids would get in the way." 

"I don't want kids because they're a fuckton of work."

While the Mic survey illuminated just how varied some of our reasons for not wanting to have kids are, one reason stood out among all the others: not needing a reason at all. After all, our personal choice as to what we want to do with our bodies are just that, personal. Many respondents felt they didn't need to provide an explanation one way or the other. 

"Sometimes I think that "I just don't want to" isn't enough of a reason to explain the lack of progeny. Then I think, why the hell should the reason matter to anyone other than myself? And I am content with that." 

"I don't want kids because I just don't. I shouldn't have to explain my reasoning, or even have a reason at all: my body, my choice." 


This article was originally published on Jul 30, 2015

This article was originally published on Dec. 23, 2019

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Ponderings / Memories

This is where my grandfather Nikolai is buried. 


My grandparent's wedding picture in 1910

I was poking around looking at click bait on my computer and came across an article, with pictures, of things people found by surprise, in their newly purchased old houses.

I was surprised at how many of the old houses listed had wells in them that the owners had not known about.  In one house a cellar with canning jars was found.  Some of the jars were just old dusty jars while some of them has fruit in them that had been canned by someone's unknown family member how many years ago.

It made my mind wander all over the place.  First made me think of my Grandma Thompsen's house.    It was a funky old house.  There was a tiny "shoe closet" with a tiny door in Grandma's bedroom.  I think all of us, the cousins, played in that little cubby of a shoe closet.  There was the bathtub with the claw feet.  The string along the stairs that you had to pull to get the upstairs, stairway light to turn on.

And, yes, Grandma had a well.   Off of the kitchen, at the back of the house there was a back porch.  Grandma's wringer washing machine was there. And off of that porch was a canning room.  I guess that's what I would call it.  Grandma canned fruit every year and kept the glass jars with their paraffin wax tops in that room, on the shelves.   On the floor was a "hatch" door that covered the well.  I remember Grandma opening the hatch so we could look down at the deep well.  One time she dropped a stone down the well so we could hear how far down it would go.

Those memories of my grandmother's house brought scents to mind.  The soapy smell of the back porch with the washing machine.  The musty smell of the well and canning room.  And the smell of old shoes in the shoe closet.

My grandmother had five sons and 14 grandchildren.   I think that there are 12 of us now  though I am not 100% sure.  My brother is gone and my cousin Patsy.   We keep loosely in touch.   All of us at one time or another spent time in that old house, playing in the shoe closet.

That took my mind off in another direction.  One of the things in the article about things found in old houses was a pile of old letters.   I have piles of old letters , many of which I have blogged about here before.  But old is a relative thing.  Most of the letters I have worked on filing were written in my lifetime.  There are some older letters between my in laws written during WWII.  I plan to organize them one of these days.

And then my mind wandered off even further to things I can only imagine.  I was wondering about my grandparents.   I only knew my Grandma Thompsen.  I never knew my grandfather.  He had died before I was born.   I believe even before any of my cousins were born.  At any rate, he had left America and returned to Norway where he die and is buried.

Nobody in the family, the five Thompsen sons, would ever speak about their father.  Were there any letters between my grandparents after he went back to Norway?   Did he correspond with my dad or his brothers?   And what would they have said. 

How did my grandparents meet?  I know that they were not from the same parts of Norway .  I know that they did not arrive in America together.   How did they end up knowing each other.  Getting married.  Raising a family?     

I have photographs and genealogy.  I have been to the farm where my grandfather was born and lived as a child.  He was only 17 when he came to the US, still a child, but a man on his own.

I have visited my grandfather's grave several times.   I have met relatives who knew him- all of whom are dead now.   I wish I could conjure him up and talk to him.  Or even see him.

I used to sit in my father's lap a lot when I was little.  And I used to comb my dad's hair too.  I remember the scent of him.   I wonder if his father had a distinctive smell?   I am sure that sounds funny to some folks, but I am tuned into smells.   

And that's all I can think of to write now.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

How did you spend your Sunday afternoon> Sunday evening? Sunday night?

My breakfast in the hospital

 I had a weird thing happen with my vision on Sunday.  I had what seemed like a window shade obstruct my vision in my right eye.   I told Nick that I thought it needed to be checked out. So we went to Reston Hospital.   I had a lot of tests done.  I spent the night and had an MRI early Monday afternoon.  Then I can home.

I was scheduled for a steroid shot in my knee tomorrow but I cancelled it for now.  I just don't feel safe getting steroids in my body at the moment.  Next week I  will.

I  am seeing the eye doctor on Thursday (today is Tuesday).   I don't expect her to see anything unusual but I want to be sure.

I am feeling fairly lighthearted about it all.  Maybe because I feel alright.  Maybe I am scared and laughing makes it easier to deal with.   Who knows.

Here's what I posted on Facebook on Sunday-I got so many responses!


October 4 at 6:49 PM 
Shared with Your friends
Guess where I am. I am at Reston Hospital. I had a temporary loss of vision in one eye. My husband brought me to the emergency room. There's a possibility that I had a TIA (mini stroke). I feel fine. Getting an MRI in the morning. Ct scan was normal. I'm here overnight for observation



 Image may contain: one or more people, eyeglasses and closeup

What it looks like happened is this:

Amaurosis fugax is a condition in which a person cannot see out of one or both eyes due to a lack of blood flow 
to the eye(s). The condition is a symptom of an underlying problem, such as a blood clot or insufficient blood flow to the blood vessels that supply the eye. Other names for amaurosis fugax include transient monocular blindness, transient monocular visual loss, or temporary visual loss.
What are the symptoms of amaurosis fugax?
When a person experiences amaurosis fugax, their vision may suddenly appear to cloud over. This is typically a temporary effect that can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Some people have described the occurrence of amaurosis fugax as feeling as if someone has pulled a shade over their eye.
In many instances, amaurosis fugax is a symptom of a transient ischemic attack (TIA). A TIA is a precursor to a stroke. TIAs cause stroke-like symptoms that are temporary. In addition to temporary blindness, other symptoms associated with TIAs include difficulty speaking, a facial droop on one side of the face, and sudden weakness on one side of the body.


Now it is Tuesday.  I had a wonderful night's sleep in my own bed, next to my husband.  I am watching "murder porn" and knitting.  In my pajamas!

Saturday, October 3, 2020

More from Facebook/ "Born this way"

 Something I wrote on Facebook October 1, 2020

Many of you know the Lady Gaga song "Born this Way". Well, I am a bit of an extrovert. I was born this way. I think maybe it is hard for some people to understand me and think I am just trying to get attention all the time. I don't think that's it though. I have so much rolling around in my mind all the time. I am usually excited about things/ life/ causes, whatever. I want to share my enthusiasm and joy.
My husband all my 5 children are all introverts to some extent or another. I think that often they just find me annoying. Embarrassing even. Afraid of what I might say next. I guess that's not too unreasonable. But it makes me sad at times.
There are times I want to celebrate. Birthdays, Anniversaries, special days of all sorts.
I want to share these days with the people I love the most. I hope and wish they can give me the time and place to celebrate with all of us together.
My (our) 50th anniversary is in less than 2 years. The thought of having all of my children with us fills me with joy. I hope we can do it.
I wrote it because I was feeling really down. I was talking about having something special- a party or a trip or something, with all five kids.  The response I was hearing is that it would be too much to ask all of the kids to come. To go out of their way. That I am setting myself up for disappointment. Well, at that moment I was feeling disappointment. Instead of sharing my excitement and anticipation, I was feeling like MY feelings are not the most important. 
We've talked about it and I am sure it will be fine. I just get sad and disappointed that I can be asked to put my feelings last.