Monday, October 19, 2015

Baby Moving Routine

While BabyH has yet to make an appearance, although I'm now full term, he already has habits and routines. When you're this far into your pregnancy docs like to make sure that the baby is moving around enough, and usually they do this by kick counting.

So far, my doctor has not asked me to do kick counting. I think it's because every time he asks about movement my eyes grow to the size of saucers and I nod vigorously. However, he did ask to see if I could manage to sketch out a routine of when he moves more and less, and what he responds to.

I figured I might as well do double duty and post it up here. Let me be clear: I have no idea if this is healthy almost-born-baby behavior or not. I'll be finding that out tomorrow at my OB appointment.

05:00 AM - Will gets up for PT, which usually wakes me up a bit. Often times, BabyH moves around a lot during this period. It's only about twenty minutes, and then I'm asleep again, and so is he.

07:00 AM - I actually get up. However, by now I'm very hungry, but cannot eat. I take my synthroid so that I can eat soon. Until after I eat, BabyH doesn't move around a lot.

08:00 AM - I eat breakfast with Will and Robert, and BabyH begins moving around more.

09:00 AM - I begin getting work done in short stints, and try to drink a glass (1.5 cups) of water every 40 minutes. If I keep that drinking schedule, and nibble on a variety of things, the baby moves quite a bit. However, after an hour or two he usually settles down for a bit.

11:30 AM - Will comes home for lunch (usually). The baby moves right after I eat, until I get back to work.

01:00 PM - Back to work, but even if I maintain my water in take, BabyH usually isn't moving around a lot right now.

04:00 PM - For some reason he "wakes up" about 4, even if I haven't had any snacks and am getting hungry or thirsty. Unless I'm very distracted by reality or had a very odd or full day I can feel him moving around a lot during this period.

06:00 PM - Then, as we start heading into our dinner time, BabyH gets quiet. This is true, even if it's something that I have had earlier in the day that he usually starts moving in response too.

08:00 PM - From now until I go to bed, BabyH usually gets up and moves around a bit. Sometimes this is in response to the music on the TV, or us playing with him. (Patting my belly when he moves against it). Also, when I actually do lay down for bed he usually moves around for a few minutes as well.

11:00 PM - By this time we are usually in bed and both of us are no longer moving, but heading rapidly toward sleep.

Rarely does BabyH wake me up with moving in the night time. He usually does this if I have to use the restroom close together or if I wake up too much while I use the restroom. If he wakes up, then I end up spending another half hour or forty-five minutes trying to get us both comfortable, and back to sleep.

Wednesday I will try to update you about the OB appointment and what the doctor thinks of this schedule.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Catch Up Update

It's been awhile since I posted. Life has been busy while I try to keep up with what's going on now and catch up with all the work that was left undone while the visitors were here. Being pregnant on top of this does not help one bit.

So, here is an overall update so you can see what's going on in my life right now.

I'm ready for the pregnancy to be over, but I'm not sure I'm ready to take care of a newborn. We have all the absolute basic equipment that a newborn needs: car seat, stroller, somewhere to sleep, somewhere to have diapers changed, and a few other things. We do still need a few changes of clothes for BabyH, and we intend to get those at a thrift store on Wednesday. We also need some tops that I can nurse in when out in public. However, we are at a point now where I can relax and he comes when he comes.

Robert is busier than Will or myself. He is the historian for his Boy Scout troop, which gives him time in a leadership position to get him closer to getting Eagle rank. He is still playing football. Though he doesn't get a lot of playing time and they aren't doing very well this year, he seems to be having fun. He goes to robotics club in the morning and on Saturdays, and seems to be enjoying that as well. He has regular meetings with the post-graduate counselor as well as a representative from West Point. He is also in Student Council. All of these things mean that SCA and 40K have been pushed to the side for now, but he doesn't seem to mind.

Will has lots of medical appointments lately as they are doing some major evaluations on him. He is fine for life and living. However, the military may consider him too broken to keep, because they are deliberately trying to get rid of people. I'll keep you updated on this as things develop and I have permission to tell you more. For the worryworts in my family: don't worry about him. Also, even if they do think he is too broken, we have discussed several different options for maintaining or even improving our life. Medically and financially there is nothing to worry about.

We are all fine, and we are all busy. I'm sure BabyH will keep us even busier for awhile.

Coming up in the next week I have several appointments and places to be. Anything that is interesting enough to write a blog post about I will. There is a prenatal appointment, a breast feeding class, a birthing class, and a football game. We also have the possibility of an archery practice. All of these things may make it onto the blog. If there's something that you want to see, tell me in a comment so that I can share it when it happens.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mr. Chips' Sapience

When I first encountered Mr. Chips during my in-depth reading of Starman Jones I posed a discussion question asking whether or not she was sapient. I went further. Based on a quote from the book I asked if Mr. Chips was not sapient, then what did that say about toddlers? Or, if she was sapient, then is it ok for the crew to restrict her to the pet and animal areas of the Asgard?

This essay covers my take on that question: Mr. Chips is not sapient. However, prolonged exposure to humanity will eventually fundamentally alter her species. At some point, they will be sapient.

Before I can address any part of this, I need to review the definition of sapience. The three core pieces of the definition are the abilities to symbolize, to rationalize, and to dream.

Mr. Chips is not sapient because she does not do any of these things. She can communicate and understand a small amount of language. She can even associate a name with a person. However, despite the fact that the book covers a relatively long period, and includes a lot of interaction between Max, Ellie, and Mr. Chips, her vocabulary does not appreciably expand. The only "new" word that we see her use is "Max" to identify her caretaker in the pens.

Mr. Chips ability to rationalize is both non-verbal and sporadic. Mr. Chips seems to make no attempt to grasp the concept of an If-Then conditional statement that Max uses before letting her out of her cage the first time. All Mr. Chips knows is she wants out.

Later, during the three-dimensional chess game Ellie comments, "Chipsie! Put that back. I think the little demon is playing on your side" (pg98). Now, this could be taken that Mr. Chips does understand 3D chess, has chosen a side, and is indeed trying to improve his lot. These actions would also imply that Mr. Chips needs to work on her understanding of morals and ethics. Or, it could mean that Ellie is personifying and humanizing Mr. Chips when the spider-monkey-dog is only moving the pieces as she has seen her humans do.

Finally, when the centaurs capture Ellie and Max on Charity Mr. Chips followed Ellie and Max. She has managed to avoid capture. This is not proof of sapience because evading capture is a simple skill. Also to which, the locals do not know her or understand what she can do. However, when Ellie and Max try to communicate that she needs to return to the Asgard for help, she cannot manage to grasp this concept. Instead, Max and Ellie are reduced to tying a note to her leg. After which they tell Mr. Chips to find Maggie. On the other hand, Mr. Chips does eventually return to the ship, manage to communicate that she knows where the other two are, and lead Sam back to them; but this is no different than Lassie in the classic TV show.

So no, I do not believe that Mr. Chips is sapient. However, to continue with the original question, I do not think it reflects poorly on toddlers. This is for two reasons. The first is that toddlers are not full grown, whereas the implication is that Mr. Chips is. The second is that they are two different species. They have different genetic makeups and different mental capabilities.

The comparison of Mr. Chips to a "not-too-bright toddler" is valid. It is valid because it is a comparison that both Max, as the point of view character, understands and the audience, most likely having encountered said toddler, can understand. It is a method of communicating how smart Mr. Chips is. It is not a means of expressing her potential. A toddler may not be able to symbolize well, they may not be able to rationalize at all, but they can dream. Oh my word, they can dream better than their elders. The other two abilities come in time, and usually with the loss of some capability of the last, because a toddler can learn, and is still growing and changing.

That covers the original question. However, in my answer I included an almost tangential statement that Mr. Chips' species could, given enough time around sapient species, become sapient.

My proof for this is two-fold. The first stems from Little Fuzzy during the discussion about the origins of sapience in any species. "There are occasional flashes of what must be conscious mental activity, in dealing with some novel situation" in any species (Piper 241). He goes on to say it has been suggested "that the introduction of novelty because of drastic environmental changes may have forced nonsapient beings into more or less sustained conscious thinking and so initiated mental habits which, in time, gave rise to true sapience" (Piper 241).

Mr. Chips experiences an unusual situation when she is forced to figure out how to get Ellie and Max out of danger. She does have a flash of sapience. She returns to the Asgard and gets the person best suited for the job of rescuing them. She communicates to him, someone she doesn't know and who doesn't know the extent of her abilities, that she knows where the missing humans are and how to get there. Then she leads him back. This series of actions could be considered a flash of sapience.

To further this analogy, just being around humans regularly is going to lead to a plethora of unusual situations that the species would not usually encounter. This ongoing interaction is going to raise their intelligence. Another aspect that is going to increase their brainpower is that humans like to breed pets for intelligence. Between the two, and given time, most species will become more intelligent than they were when they initially encountered humans. Given more time and experience with humans they can communicate with them more fully, experience more unusual events that require out of the box reactions, and become sapient. We already see this with some species on Earth.

What conclusions would you come to if you were confronted with Mr. Chips?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Nursing vs. Testing

In the last essay, I talked about the difference between nursing a dream and pursuing it. So, is nursing one's dream good or bad? Is going after it brave or foolish?

The answers to those questions depend on the dream, the chances of actually achieving it, the risk you take reaching for it, and your current situation.

Before you can pursue it, you need to look at the dream and figure out if it is achievable or if something prohibitive stops you from achieving it for the moment. Are you physically able to do it? Are you mentally able to do it? Are you emotionally able to do it? If one of the answers to these is "No," then is the technology in place or right around the corner to allow you to do it? Can you do it if presented with the opportunity?

If you can, now what are your chances of actually being presented with that opportunity right now? One in ten? One in a million? Less? What easy steps can you take to improve your chances of getting that opportunity? After all, if you don't play then you can't win, but playing makes the chances about one in a million. Do those little changes mean that you have to change too much of yourself? How much do those small changes improve your odds?

Once you've decided to try a small step to improve it (or not), you have to figure out what the risks you take in reaching for the dream are. Playing the lottery is a small one, a few dollars, for a huge reward, millions of dollars. On the other hand are those few dollars going to mean that you can't put food on the table? Conversely, traveling across the country to try to become an actor is a huge risk for either a minimal reward or a very remote one. You leave behind everything you know, but most day-to-day performers don't make a lot of money, and the few that do make a lot of money few and far between.

Now, if you are eighteen and not tied to anyone then traveling across the country to try to achieve your dream can be attempted without too much risk to those around you. After all, parents expect children to leave the nest and siblings are off pursuing their dreams. On the other hand, if you're in your thirties with small children picking up everything and moving across the country to go after your dream becomes much more possible. This thought process is all part of evaluating your particular situation before deciding to make an attempt to go after a dream.

I will note a caveat here. This process alters if you're going for a "one-time shot," as in the Voice or another competition show. However, you must be honest about the fact that this one audition is your big shot. These two things together make it more like a busman's holiday rather than uprooting your whole family. Evaluating any offers that come from your appearance on said shows requires you to go back and evaluate most of this list again.

In Max's case, at the beginning of the book, the risk is minor for a chance at a big dream. It's an enormous dream with large rewards. All it takes is asking a question, and then going from there. However, he doesn't want to risk everything to go after his dream. He doesn't even have the money to repair the stove much less money to get to Earthport and back. He would have to borrow it, ask someone to watch the crops, and make the trip. Then he would have to pray that he could pay it back with the money that came in from the harvest around a stepmother who doesn't understand how to save money. So his situation is prohibitive to going to find out about it.

This stagnation all changes once his connection to the farm and his stepmother are severed. Now he is in the position of the eighteen-year-old. His big dream no longer seems quite so far out of reach, even though it is scary to contemplate. So, he reaches for it. He takes the books with him, hitchhikes to Earthport, and goes to see the Astrogator's Guild. He stayed safe until he could not do so any longer, and then he took the greatest risk he could think of.

For my dreams, I try to keep my options open and work on taking steps along each of them.

For the publisher's clearing house sweepstakes, I often don't even bother. That dream is nigh impossible, but I do throw my hat into the ring on occasion.

For the 1950's housewife, which is the fantasy I am currently living, I set out to keep a clean house and know that I'm probably going to be cooking more than I like sometimes. Though once in awhile I would like more help with the house than I get, I enjoy having control of the house and putting things away.

For the writer, my first step is often this blog and Twitter. I also do NaNoWriMo on a regular basis. I figure if I can get to a point where I am regularly writing when I run out of things to write about I can write poetry and fiction. The non-fiction blog posts also give me time to edit my longer works while still keeping up my writing habit. So far though, I have not had the bravery to look for a Beta reader for my longer pieces. I do know I need one.

The foreign service officer dream is the hardest one to move forward on. Partly, that is because I have held the aspiration so long, and partly because it is the most difficult to achieve. However, I did look up the requirements, and the first thing that I need to do is to take the test. They only offer it at certain times of the year, but it is free. Also, this fall a job fair on post will be hosting a table for the foreign service officers so that I can talk to them there. It is already on the family calendar. I also took the practice test. I was a little surprised at how easy some of it was though some of the questions were data points that I would never have guessed at. The test told me that I had an eighty percent chance of passing the real thing, and that was without studying. By next spring, I'm hoping to have read at least some of the materials that they suggest to study with and go ahead and try the test.

Knowing that it is that simple makes it more than a little terrifying that my dream could come true. However, my husband is encouraging me to go ahead and pursue this dream of mine. I'm not sure, but while that is comforting I also think it makes it scarier.

Finally, what to do about Robert. I cannot force him to pursue his dream. All I can do is encourage and ensure that he holds to the agreements that me makes with me in the interim. I can continue to ask if he continues to want to pursue West Point. When he sounds like he may not want it, I can tell him that it isn't his only option and that I will support him, no matter what he chooses to do.

Ok, the completely honest and overly imaginative writer in me is forcing me to admit that I would support him in almost anything that he chooses to do. I wouldn't support him if he decided never to get a job and live off the government rather than his work. Nor would I support him if he decided to become a professional assassin. However, knowing Robert those two are both so remote that they would take some serious brain altering injuries to get him there.

So nursing your dreams can help you escape from the everyday troubles we face, and sometimes they are better left in that role. However, if the risks to your current situation are less than the rewards you could earn and if the possibility of those rewards is not too remote, then it becomes best to test your dream. So go for it. Reach out for that thing that you haven't.

What dream are you going to reach for?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Nursing the Dream

"... subconsciously preferring to nurse the dream rather than test it." ~ Starman Jones, by Robert A. Heinlein
This quote is something that everyone does, and to which several other inspirational quotes pertain. When someone nurses their dream rather than testing it, they think about the dream. They take it out in their minds and look at it like an old beloved photograph. They live there for a few precious moments before returning to deal with the reality that is not nearly as beautiful. Their fantasy gives them hope for a better tomorrow.

But it is a false hope.

Because as long as all they do is think about and nurse their dream, it will never come true. For it to come true, they must take the next step and "test" it. They must plan, pursue, and act rather than dream. It is a risk. They could lose everything and then they would not even have the fantasy to fall back on when things get hard.

The people who test their dreams are both brave and foolish.

Max realizes early on in the novel that he has only been nursing his dream of becoming an astrogator. He watches the trains and the shuttle dreaming of the fact that his uncle nominated him for the astrogator's guild. However, he never asked if his uncle filed the paperwork. He uses the dream of being an astrogator to "escape" the farm for a few hours every day rather than risk being stuck with what he knows. In the end, it is not his bravery, but necessity that pushes him to go to the central chapter of the Astrogator's guild and inquire about his dream.

For me, the dream that I nurse is many-fold. The oldest dream is to become a foreign service officer and travel the world. (I will admit that before this dream, there was the dream of being a missionary, but then I realized they usually go places without running water, and that changed.) For a long time, my secret dream was getting to be a housewife, 1950's style (though I know I could not, and still cannot carry out that apparent perfection). I also keep the dream of becoming a published author alive. And, of course, I had the I-have-no-control-over-it-dream, but mine was the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes rather than the lottery.

If you're paying attention some of these dreams are contradictory, but I nurse them all anyway. Some would argue that I am the 1950's style housewife now, and I would even agree. However, it's always in the back of my mind that I may not be able to stay in this role. I also wonder if it would continue to make me happy for the rest of my life. But I'm delighted with it now.

The writer is a little more out of my control. I can write all day long every day. I can edit everything I write. I can submit it. But if there isn't a publisher that doesn't want to pick it up I won't be published. I could self-publish, but that wouldn't be quite as satisfying to the dream. However, it is still an option.

As for the foreign service, I thought that was right out with my current life. However, changes are coming that are such that my husband and I are thinking and talking about me making a try for it. It would be a hard and difficult road. However, because it is the oldest of my dreams traveling that road would be the most satisfying.

I occasionally make little steps that would walk the path toward testing any one of these dreams. I get better at cooking, cleaning and organizing the house. I write, and I edit. Every year I attempt NaNoWriMo. I look up the requirements for becoming a foreign service officer. However, my fear of rejection from any one of these paths keeps me from following it.

Having acted in the role of mother I now see Robert doing some of the same things. Since I have known him, and for several years before, his dream was to go to West Point and be an officer in the Army. We ask him periodically if that has changed. He always answers "No." Sometimes his tone is firm and decisive, and other times it is hesitant and confused. The reason that we keep asking him is that he says it, and we have researched together and discussed what he needs to do to get into West Point, but then we see him not doing it. Eagle Scout, football, and excellent academics are a few of the requirements. (To be fair it doesn't have to be football, but it must be a team sport.) These show leadership, teamwork, and persistence.

Robert made First Class Scout, but stalled out trying to get to Star Scout. After summer camp, he is nearly there. Robert enjoyed playing football on the team during the season but started the summer not wanting to go to practice two hours a day. Robert agreed that he needed to keep up his studies over the summer and set up a schedule to help him do that, and then fails to follow through on it so that we have to ask again. "Are you sure this is what you want?" He always answers "Yes," but he rarely seems to pursue it.

Do you pursue your dream? Or have you given them up for lost?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Tiny Tourney

The last Thursday that all the kids were here was the local "Tiny Tourney" for the SCA. We actually managed to get everyone but me in garb. My garb doesn't fit over my belly right now.

I could make new garb, but two things stand in my way. One, I'm only going to be pregnant for a little while longer. Two, the house is still in a shambles. I do not feel that making garb while the house is in disarray is acceptable.

Anyway, they all got in garb and we went out to the SCA. They mostly found it boring. However, they got bubbles and beads for being kids and it being their first event.

Also, even though Athena did not like the heavy fighting a friend of ours was there to show her his rapiers.

She really liked those. Maybe she'll get into light fighting back at her own home. Will still has contacts with the group there. Jonah wants to fight heavy, and if Athena wants to do light fighting then it can be something that they do "together-apart."* However, we need to make sure that they will be comfortable around strangers, before we put them in contact with anyone.

The friends that were there, who are not usually there, were some friends from Korea. They were in Korea for awhile, but are now stationed north of us somewhere. (Not that that is hard to do). Her work brought her down for some business, and her husband decided to tag along with his gear. As you can see, Will looks like a giant compared to the rest of us.

We all had a good evening, even if it did run a little late. I'm glad we went out. It was one of our last big things before taking the kids to the airport.

*Together-apart is my word for activities that you do around each other, but you're focused on your own thing. So that you have the general activity in common, but the specifics fit your own likes. SCA is a great activity for that.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Starman Jones In Depth Wrap Up

Mom gave Starman Jones to us last Christmas, and we endeavored
to read it over the summer. It was the best time to do so, because Robert had much fewer activities than he does during the school year.

I read it through twice. The first time I read it for the story, and I really enjoyed it. The second time I read it for more thought provoking discussion.

Will and Robert were reading it with me. Will finished it. Robert still has about a chapter and a half to go.

Over the course of my in depth reading I posted discussion questions and response to each chapter. This post should cover chapters nineteen to twenty-one. However, I really don't want to give away the ending of the story.

I will say that it is a good ending. Very fitting for the period and the style, and it didn't make me cry. (I did that earlier when a couple of the characters died.)

I really enjoyed the book. Will thought it was a little bit of a young, easy read. However, his reading level is above mine. Robert enjoyed the book, but struggled to identify with the character. We kept having to point out how he was like Max - wanting to improve his station, and move in different social circles.

I did write three more essays about topics that I discovered in Starman Jones. They will be coming out over the course of the next few weeks. At the end of it, I will then add a "Table of Contents" which will link to all of the posts about the book.