Sunday, February 10, 2008

Recent Stuff

Lessons I’m learning about parenthood:

-The Fisher-Price Papasan swing is the single most useful item we bought.

-Cloth diapering is not as bad as it’s made out to be. We just started about a week ago, using BumGenuiuses. They come in Easter colors, fasten in the same simple method as a disposable, and wash easily in the washing machine. Only drawback is that at River’s size, they make his butt look rather large. But he doesn’t seem to mind.

-Thrush is evil

-Pumping milk is a whole job unto itself

-It’s incredibly rewarding to watch one’s own child develop and interact more and more each day.

-Despite having the wonderful luxury of help, it is still extremely difficult to get anything done, especially when in the house.

Other things happening:

-The Presidential election race is on in full mode here in the United States and I’m heartened to see the level of interest and participation. It seems likely that the next President will be either McCain, Clinton or Obama, any of whom would be likely to reverse some of the horrible policies of the past several years. I myself was unable to vote since I called to register one day after the deadline. Luckily, my chosen candidate won in my state, so I didn’t feel too bad.

-We are preparing to take a long trip down the West Coast and to Mexico and I’m busy packing and preparing for that. It’s going to be a whole different ballgame with a two-month old in tow. But I’m very excited to get on the road, to see friends I haven’t met in a while and to explore new places. The fact that the climates should be nicer is just an added bonus.

-With baby and his added equipment, we need to try harder to pack light. So I bought myself a new little mini-computer, the Fujitsu Lifebook u810. It weighs only 1.5 pounds and functions both as a laptop and a notebook. I love it.

-River and I went to our first post-natal yoga class today. At almost 9 weeks old, he was the youngest one there. The others ranged in age from 3-10 months. It was fascinating to look at the other babies and see what lies ahead for us. Those that sat up and crawled looked so large and developed to me, though I suppose to most people they still look like little babies. I could feel how much each of the mothers in the room loved their babies. I thought about the little boy in foster care one of my relatives is trying to adopt and wished that all children could start off life with such love and devotion. They deserve it.

-I saw a couple good movies lately. The Italian is about a 6-year-old Russian boy, about to be adopted by a loving Italian couple. But he’s determined to try to find his birth mother first. The story is line with the Russian nationalist desire that children not be sent overseas (this belief gained credence after stories of American parents abusing the Russian children they adopted reached the mainstream) but rather retained as part of the narod. But it’s also just a good story about a very determined little boy.

Sicko has already received plenty of media attention. As an employee of a European company, I already know and understand the differences between the American and European social systems. I already benefit from the long vacations and the humane maternity policies. But to see that the United States is surrounded by countries doing so much better in meeting the needs of their citizens – Europe, Canada and Cuba – was very disheartening. I especially found the free childcare and free university education amazing. Right now, in my family, we are spending close to 20% of our take home pay on childcare and savings for college education for just one child. Should we drop from two to one incomes, it would be a third of our income. Should we have more children, even more. So while yes, those countries (esp. Europe and Canada) may have higher taxes, they also have so much more freedom. They don’t have to make decisions at any point in their lives just because they are desperate to retain the insurance or the benefits they need for their children. They are free to make choices of where to live and where to work because it is the right decision for them or their families. They may have reduced incomes throughout their lifecycles (due to the extra taxes) but they still live at a comfortable level and they don’t encounter the serious resource shortages that occur while attending college, while having and raising children, or while entering old age. That income smoothing seems likely to reduce stress, which would improve health and happiness, and yes, they do live longer.

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