Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Well, a day late, but I'm sure you're sick of it anyway.

Since Fran hasn't gotten me anything in 5 years (and I've reciprocated by getting him *very little* - I think I got him a 2L of orange soda last year...) I gave up and got him exactly NOTHING. Not a candy he likes, not a toy, nothing. And of course...this is the year he gets me something. http://www.nokiausa.com/770 and some candy.

Of course.

And I had NOTHING. Not so much as a candy cane.

Go me.

Anyway, Christmas rocked. Kids slept until 7:30. Loved their presents. Toddlerness proved that she will do things on *HER TERMS*. Sat on the couch and watched the big kids go nuts for a good half-hour (probably more) before she wanted to look at her presents. And then had a BLAST of it.

MIL had a drunk-dialing episode on Christmas Eve, but behaved on Christmas (aside from having Fran assemble the not-so-little red wagon she bought for Toddlerness). Good food, good time. Can't trust MIL to read labels for Tony. She is wrong far, far too often. And then she forgets what has milk in it and what doesn't (she handed Tony a large pack of muffins that I'D TOLD HER EARLIER WERE NOT OK as we were leaving, and then I had to be the bad guy and take them away). MIL is great, she does a lot of stuff for me, and she has a kind heart. Which I have to say every time I vent about my MIL - she is a bit screwed up, but a great person at the core. She bought nearly half the books I need for next quarter, a huge expense, as my Christmas gift. I literally don't know what I'd do without her.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Well, our decoration procrastination hit an all-time record this year. We finally, on the 22nd, got a Christmas tree (the top of one of the midsized cedars that fell during the windstorm) up and decorated. This beats our previous record of the 21st, on the year Toddlerness was born. The tree is...unconventional...but 8 feet tall and blinking the appropriate lights and sporting the appropriate ornaments. And there was no waste involved.

But yeah, thus began our Christmas season.

And why yes, I DO mean that I hadn't even dug the decorations out of the shed until then.

And why yes, I DO mean that I didn't send the presents to my family in HI until then.

Yay us, right?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Toddlerness Turns Two!!!

I can't believe she's two already!! Well, I kind of can...because she's been acting like a two year old for almost a year now...but wow, time FLIES.

I've put her birth story on my blog here: http://lifeatnikis.blogspot.com/2006/12/birth-story-of-naomi-melelani.html and for a real trip, contrast her birth story to that of her brother: http://lifeatnikis.blogspot.com/2006/12/birth-of-boy.html . Both stories are of "ideal" births, but look how different an "ideal" hospital birth is from an "ideal" home birth. I thought when Boyness was born that it was the best birth could be, and certainly, it was about as good as any hospital birth can get. But it is incredible how different it looks after putting on my rosy-colored homebirth-glasses and reading it again.

So now, reflections on Toddlerness.

Oh, where to start!! She wasn't the easiest of my three as a baby, but she came close. She wasn't trouble until she started to learn about that lovely little concept called "autonomy." And then, well DAYM! no stopping her! She is stubborn, strong-willed, clever, and mischevious. My child much?

She is my solstice child, born on the longest night of the year. Or, as my mom says "she brought with her light, the longer days, rebirth, hope." A tad too dramatic if you ask me, but a very pretty sentiment. And she certainly is a child of fire and energy. A FORCE in a way that neither of the elder two have been. Oh, yes, they had a phase wherein TODDLER might as well have been tattoo'ed on their foreheads (and "yes, I have a TODDLER" on mine, although the gleaming stripes of dried snot on my shoulders were almost as good). I'm not normally a believer in astrology, but when I found out that Toddlerness resides right smack-dab between Saggitarious (fire, adventure, exhuberance, optimism) and Capricorn (earth, acheivement, "powerful resilient energy") I had to wonder at the accuracy of this assessment. It is said that there are two types of Capricorn: the garden goat and the mountain goat. Well, damn, my Toddlerness is a mountain goat for sure! If I could get her to keep her little feet on the ground just 1/20th of the day, I'd be happy!

Anyway, Toddlerness is two today. And oh my, is THAT ever wild! How did two whole years go by! I have friends here who have known her since BIRTH, others since she was teeny tiny - practically her whole life. And that's crazy, too. It is a happy little "loved" world that my Toddlerness is growing up in. The happy-childhood fantasy that I WANT for my kids. I almost can't believe we're so lucky as to have it.

The Birth Story of Naomi Melelani

Naomi’s Birth Story

There is both much and little to this story. Little, because Naomi was simply…born. A beautiful waterbirth; a short labor and very short pushing stage; a beautiful baby, 7lbs 2oz, 21 inches long. Much, because for something so profound, the memory lies for me in emotions, which can never be conveyed whole from person to person, and thus the experience for others must lie in the details; and when my own emotions fade in the hormonal fog of new-motherhood, I will need the details to bring them back.

On the morning of the 21st my waters sprung a light leak – something I did not recognize at the time, but a thin mucous continued its way slowly out of me and when my midwife did a swab while I was in labor, it was definitely amniotic fluid. Still, at the time I was unaware that labor was soon to be upon me, so life proceeded as usual on the 21st. We finally got a Christmas tree, and my children and I spent the afternoon stringing up lights and decorating (finally). Tree decorated and house re-cleaned, we took our baths and headed off to bed – it was as I lay there, wide-awake at 10pm, squished between hot little bodies on a twin mattress and waiting for my children to sleep that my first obviously labor-contraction found me at last, the familiar ache in my back told me that this was it, no more practicing. Still, I did not take it too seriously. Even as it was followed 15 minutes or so by another similarly strong one, and another.

By the time my husband arrived home at around 12, I had decided I was in labor and had begun to get things ready. I told him I thought the baby would be born in the morning. We planned to prep the kit and the bathroom and then try to get some sleep. But contractions picked up significantly as we spoke and cleaned, and at 12:30 I called my midwife and asked her to come over.

Contractions came and went, but I had recently found an analogy that I found very helpful – if I were to take a difficult but pleasant hike, and instead of focusing on the pleasurable aspects of the experience would instead dwell on the unpleasant aspects, even if it was the most beautiful location in the world I would be obsessed by the difficulties of breathing, with the burn in my legs, with the sweat on my back, with the tiredness creeping up as I walked. So it is with labor, and so I enjoyed the time between contractions, talking to my husband, making neat little arrangements with the birth supplies, talking with my baby, or sitting quietly on the couch. Contractions were spaced far apart, and it honestly felt like I had started labor before time began, that they had collected themselves slowly but surely, years apart, then months, days, hours, and finally now, minutes. I don’t know how far apart they were, because time then was unimportant to me. I just know I experienced them, with much time between. A few were more difficult, and I needed to stop and sway and breathe deeply through them, but most were nothing more than a dull ache and tightening.

Perhaps it is some essential but cruel paradox that I, who enjoyed this process, would experience it briefly while for some who find it excruciating it would last days; but whatever the reason, this stage of labor lasted just over 2 hours for me. Somewhere in that time, at around 2am, my midwife arrived along with her partner. They complimented my belly, complimented me, and brought their things in quietly. I agreed to an internal check and was 7cm, but my midwife told me that it was not my cervix holding my baby in, that it would easily stretch to accommodate my baby even if I were to push her out now – instead, it was simply a matter of waiting until my body told me it was time. I was told that I was doing beautifully, that I was handling things so gracefully, and it meant a lot to me to hear these things.

And so I went about my labor process as they prepared and filled the pool, as my husband got the children up and awake and explained things to them, as everyone got settled in. Between (and sometimes through) contractions I continued doing little things, talking to the children, showing my MW where this or that thing was. Somewhere around 2:30 the pool was halfway full and I felt myself to be approaching the climax of labor, so I got into the pool. The warm water was soothing, but I was at the very height of labor, and spent the next couple of contractions with eyes closed, slowly breathing out deep breaths while my husband poured warm water over the exposed portion of my belly. After a gentle suggestion from my MW, I added ever-so-little pressure to one of the contractions and felt my baby move down. And then, it hit me, the *need*, absolute, undeniable, primal, and for the first time in this labor, truly painful – to push. My midwife, who had not forgotten my desire for a hands-off birth and was at that point sitting quietly on the couch across the room, said ‘just go with it,’ and I did, and all at once she was crowning. I reached down and felt her head as it started to come out; I moved my tissues with my hands and sighed her head out of me. In some very distant part of my attention I noted my son and daughter a few feet away (they were sitting on a couch, just a few feet from my own feet) watching quietly and just a little excitedly. A few moments later, a little extra push brought the rest of my baby into the world, and oh the relief I felt; a relief so profound that for a few moments I forget there was a baby there in the water, until my midwife quietly reminded me; “pick up your baby.” I held her and she felt so tiny, and was so alive, so whole and healthy and complete – she turned pink right away, cried that mewing newborn-cry with almost glass-shattering intensity for a few seconds, and then seemed to fall asleep.

And so, Naomi Melelani was born at 2:50 am on December 22, 2004.

Her cord was long; longer than my legs, but very healthy. She remained attached to me, anchored still to my uterus, for long minutes while I marveled at the small sleeping body on my chest. Her head perfect and unmoulded, her fingers long and graceful, hair dark, her body still largely covered in a thick layer of vernix. I noted as if from a distance that there was a lot of vernix floating around in the water, but not a drop of blood. I felt my abdomen and could feel the placenta there, quite large actually, and my midwife had a moment of worry over a possible twin (yes, it was really large – plus I had a muscle spasm at just the right moment to worry her), but that worry quickly faded. I had to push out the placenta – it did not simply slip through as the placentas of my other children had. But it came out without problems.

My midwife clamped the cord and my DH cut it. The water was now very bloody and I was ready to get out, so I did get out and showered and half-dressed while DH and the kids held and loved the baby. When I got out of the shower I was shivering and my midwife and her partner brought me some heat packs and warm towels, and we set up in bed. I asked to be checked – no tearing! And Naomi was checked, too, and checked out as perfect as I thought her to be. We lay there, naked skin to naked skin, for a long time, visiting and then nursing, my new daughter’s 7lb, 2oz body sticky with vernix in places, smooth and warm in others. Just before my midwife left at 4:30 she put on Naomi’s first diaper and wrapped her in a warm blanket while I put on a night-shirt, and then we settled in for the night; my children, my husband and I, all snuggled up in bed. We called a few relatives with our news (some of them disappointed we had not called during labor so they could be there, but we were happiest by ourselves), and my 4.5 year-old daughter Rebecca wanted to talk to everyone and tell them about how when she got older, she wanted to have a new baby in the water just like mommy. But finally we settled in and slept far into the morning, all warm and happy and together.

There is more, much more, that I could say, the story of Naomi’s birth growing into the story of her first days and my recovery; but I will end the story-telling here. I will note instead that there is nothing negative to say. Naomi is astoundingly healthy and astoundingly happy; she cries when we take off a diaper but never otherwise, she hasn’t shown even a hint of jaundice, no bruising or trauma, is eating and sleeping and pooping and peeing and everything a newborn is supposed to do. Sometimes she opens her eyes and seeks out the voices she hears, studying the faces of those she has spent months hearing from the womb. But mostly she sleeps, most comfortable laying on her side with one fist to her cheek, the other arm flung up, shielding her face. She spends hours deeply asleep in her daddy’s arms, and more hours sleeping curled up next to me in bed. She is such a peaceful child, and I wonder sometimes if it is that she has had such a peaceful birth, free from the traumas small and large that my others experienced during and after their births. Or if simply being at home, her family unstressed and peaceful, means that she can’t pick up on the stresses of others the way that my other children so obviously did.

I cannot sing the praises of homebirth or waterbirth loudly or strongly enough. After this experience, I look back at the natural-but-hospital-based births of my two older children and resent anew every blood-pressure reading, every washing (Naomi hasn’t been ‘washed’ yet, her skin is soft and smooth and clean without the ‘benefit’ of soap and water and scrubbing), every needle-prick-just-in-case. I look back and loathe the feelings I experienced, the self-consciousness, the powerlessness, the be-a-good-patient-submissiveness. If my son’s birth came close to everything a hospital birth can be, then my new daughter’s birth comes close to everything that birth itself can be, with nothing to look back upon and wish different. Three days later, I still feel like the most blessed person in the world; high and happy and ever-so-much in love.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I'm up too early again this morning. Damnit. I've got that bleary, muscles-don't-work-yet feel about me. At least the kids aren't up too.

You see, my husband lit a real rager of a fire in the woodstove this morning. It actually began to set fire to the wood that he had placed on top of the woodstove (this usually dries out the wood...for those unfamiliar with woodstoves - it is NOT supposed to catch fire up there). So he woke me up: "Niki, I'm going to be late for work and I'm getting later because I can't leave the fire alone."

I begin my mental grumbling "always fucking wants that fire watched supposed to be hot what the hell can't you just get a grip and let it go everyone says woodstoves are hot supposed to be hot WTF do you mean I've gotta watch it you're fucking insane let me sleep go take your damn shower."

But the setting-things-OUTSIDE-the-woodstove-ablaze component of this one got me worried enough to drag me out of bed. How bad is it when you're SOOOOOO bleary that you don't even want to make coffee yet? Ah, but I have good news: I forced myself. I've got half a mug of coffee down the chute, and I might just muster the energy to be civil to my children when they awake.

And an update: approximately one hour after lighting the damn thing, with all the windows open, it is 83 degrees in here. "OMG, are you sure you'll be warm enough" my ASS, MIL!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Oh The Weirdness

I, yes, me, the amazing woman who never goes anywhere without her children, went shopping ALONE yesterday. Yeeehaw!!!

But that's not the weirdness I've come to report. Here it is:

I am walking towards Target and I see what looks like a minor accident. Come closer...is that a DOG in the driver's seat? Why yes, it was. A german shepherd had aparently put a tiny elderly sports car in neutral and rolled it into somebody's truck. And was sitting there la-dee-da - I'm a dog in CHARGE, man! - as Mr. Truck laughed his ass off. Oh, it was great.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Little Excitement!

OK, so the storm on Thursday was TERRIFYING for us. Those who have been to my house will know why. For those who haven't, let's just say that the dude who built the house didn't seem to see any point in removing any trees that weren't immediately in his way. So yes, 3 feet from our bedroom window stands a cedar that must be over 100 feet tall (I am horrid at estimating this kind of thing. I figure I could stack my house several times before I got to its height though.) and there are quite a few more in very close proximity. They are tall and healthy, and last summer Bernie-Landlord had the most suspicious of the maples removed, so we were slightly reassured about THAT, but we spent all night listening to the trainlike wind noises, hearing the loud swells approach for a mile or so through forest as they approached us. We heard the gunshot-cracks of large wooden things breaking, the percussions of large things falling. We tried to go to bed at midnight, figuring that there was nothing we could do about it anyway, but it was impossible to sleep while we were laying there fearing that the house would cave in at any moment. We finally decided to forget this trying to sleep shit, and sat there wishing for structural integrity instead. At one point we heard a gunshot crack and a large object falling rather near the house, and we hastily grabbed children and herded them towards the center of the house. But it didn't fall on us (it missed the shed by a tiny bit). In fact, nothing fell on us at all.

But the power did go out. And I did indeed go to finals on Friday anyway, largely because I just wanted to get it the heck out of the way. The drive was a bit of an adventure, and we ended up having the final exam in my assessment partner's home (which may be why her blood pressure was about 10 points higher than usual...), which was great...not only did she have power, she has the rocking-est bathroom ever.

Anyway...my phone proceeded not to get signal at home and people proceeded to call me and think I'd died in my little house amongst the humongous trees, and that sucked.

And we proceeded not to have power until this morning (Monday), and that sucked too. But we had the woodstove (heat) and had filled a few canteens (water) and had about 40lbs of frozen meat in the freezer to sustain the cold in there, so we pulled through without having to even throw out any food. Between the woodstove and a fire outside, we were covered for food, and the lanterns that our Puyallup friends gave us were plenty for light. We were pretty well set for a decent amount of time.

On Sunday night, though, we decided that enough was enough with this not-showering thing, and headed over to BIL's house for the night. Ahhhhh...showers. I hadn't gotten around to mine yet when the power went out on Thursday, so I went from Wednesday morning to Sunday night without a shower. And so did Fran. And the puddle-loving, mud-pie-making children. WORSE THAN CAMPING. OMG I think the only time a shower has felt so good was after that camping trip from dustbowl hell last summer.

And BONUS! sFIL and MIL, who had decided to check in to the Comfort Inn after their house hit 50 degrees and MIL's elderly mom (who has diabetes and extremity problems) started to turn blue, invited us out to eat last night. Now, we'd packed every food item in our fridge and freezer to bring to BIL's house and were well set for food, but it isn't every day that a family as poor as ours gets to go out to eat, so out we went. I don't know whether it was because our expectations were low or because our server ROCKED (she was awesome about Tony's dairy allergy, got him some separately prepared things because, for example, the salad dressing had dairy...I never would have guessed...) but we actually had a GREAT time at the Olive Garden, of all places.

So our power came on this morning, according to NeighborSusan, and we'll head over there once Fran gets off from work. For now I'm stuck at BIL's but there are totally worse places I could be.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Personality Test

I thought this was more fun than most, thanks ~L~

What type of Fae are you?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Nutrition SUCKS

No, not nutrition as in eating fairly decently. Don't fall over ~L~.

Nutrition, like the class. At SMS. Specifically the instructor. Which damnit, I have been holding back from saying all quarter, but this is THE LAST STRAW.

In the syllabus, it says projects 2 and 3 will be due on 12/14.
In the callendar it says project 3 will be due on 12/15.

In the handly little announcement she sent in the wee hours of Monday morning, it said we would be presenting projects 2 and 3 on TUESDAY. Tuesday is, last I checked, 12/12.

I am not prepared and I am inclined...very, very inclined...to say FUCK IT, turn in what I have, and declare mutiny on the spot if that is not accepted.

It ain't bad, honestly, it is pretty good. But there is no "creative component." Creative fucking nutrition at the fucking 11th hour...just not happening. I've been trying all afternoon to figure out how to make this work and...it's just not happening.

In other news, the whole frigging staff asked me this morning how I did on the epi final. Which was...interesting. Apparently if you ace the midterm people talk. Why people talk about MY test scores, I dunno, and it was a little unsettling. I still haven't sorted out exactly how I feel about that, and maybe I'm just still a little stuck in big-world academia, but my test scores have always felt a little like my weight - I'll let you know without shame if you ask, but I don't want it in the Christmas letter, you know?

Boy's Leg

Quite out of character for me, I know, but I'm worried about boyness' leg. On Friday, I grabbed his shoulder to get his attention and he slipped into a near-splits. Ouch? Yeah, well, it hurt, it got a kiss blown in its general direction, he went about his merry way.

And on Saturday he woke up yelling about it hurting.

Screamed, SCREAMED I tell you, if I tried to straighten his leg. Hobbled about. We went to a friend's place and he *kept* hobbling. Hobbling on Sunday. Hobbling on Monday.


Did he BREAK it?

Fran asks him to support his weight on it, and straighten it out, and he *kind of* manages, but it hurts and he's not really straightening it out all the way. So long story short, I hate doctors (kinda), he seems more or less OK except for the limp, yada yada...4 days later, no real improvement. Now, when I was a kidness I remember getting these kinds of injuries relatively frequently (Fran said he can't remember this ever happening to him...but his mom didn't let him run *at the park*, what can I say?) but I can't remember how long they're supposed to last. The doctor-worshippers...I mean, in-laws...seem to think that he's going to keel over if I don't get him to a doctor ASAP. Like, OMG, what do you MEAN you haven't seen a doctor?!!!!

It quite frankly is driving me nuts because at this point, I *am* considering taking him to the doctor. And damnit! They'll act like "oh PHEW you took him to the DOCTOR!! Finally you grew some SENSE!!!"


See, this is why I want to live here, but with MY family around me. They're not doctor-worshipping paranoid lunatics who get tetanus shots every time they scrape a cuticle on the mailbox. Oh why, oh why, did I have to choose between my sane family and the PLACE I wanted to live?

Wow, that was a big wander. True though. I want my family back.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Co-ops and...allergies?

So we've got a 100% success rate for something very odd...

My son has had an allergic reaction any time someone comes to pick up a co-op package.

Supreme coincidence?

I have no fucking clue. Fact is, this only happens once every couple of months, so the two happening together is...interesting.

The mama who came to get her package yesterday hung out to play for a while, which was cool, but by about 15 minutes in she was wondering if her middle child didn't have a dairy allergy, too. "Wow, he doesn't respond to you like that when he hasn't had dairy? And...he used to have ear infections until you cut out dairy? Hmmmm...."

I don't know, if DairyBoy Tony wasn't the most fucking irritating thing on the planet, I'd say it was actually a POSITIVE thing that someone got to see him on an allergy high yesterday. Because it certainly got the gears in her head turning. "Every time I drink milk my nose gets super stuffy, I even *sound* funny...he used to get ear infections all the time and his hearing still seems worse than his siblings...really, it's related to bed wetting?"

Anyway, DairyBoy is damn difficult to deal with and a real burden on his siblings. So I can't decide whether to be all weird about it and not let people visit when they come to pick up co-op packages anymore.

This reaction courtesy of "Create a Treat Gingerbread House Kit" which lists "Allergens: wheat, soy, corn, sulphite" in exactly the way I told my MIL meant that a product was safe, but which actually contains "milk powder" about midway through a 200-or-so-item-long ingredient list.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


So I don't usually post parenting dilemmas over here. But this is one of them. Mainly because it is driving me frigging bonkers.

Toddlerness has begun making extremely high-pitched protesty noises when she doesn't get her way. Everything from not getting to nurse right.this.instant to wanting the toy her brother has to needing a little extra attention.

It is irritating as all kinds of shit.

And because I think it is the most irritating thing in the world, my reflex is to do whatever it takes to stop it RIGHT THAT INSTANT. This is, to put it mildly, not a long-term solution to the problem of me wanting to squash whatever being makes that noise. In fact I do believe it is encouraging her to do it louder and more often.

Fran was wondering to me last night if part of decent parenting was putting up with the whining. He made the point that the families we hang out with, ones we thing parent exceptionally well, have kids that, well, whine a lot.

I don't think so. Whining is fucking annoying and not a good way to go about getting what you want in the real world, besides.

But "not putting up with whining" is a complex problem. Often she is whining about something I'd have given her anyway, and she's too little really to understand having to restate things without whining. I think. Fran is deliberately misunderstanding her when she does it, asking her "what" until she says or gestures what she wants without the squealing. I'm not sure I can put up with doing that all day long, but I may have to if I want her to cut it the heck out.

I have to say that I think we averted a hearty whining phase with the older children just by being better able to anticipate their wants and needs and cater to them more quickly. Toddlerness rarely asks for anything unreasonable. It's usually something super simple, like water, or getting her blocks out, or a turn with whatever toy her brother has, or more paper to color on. This means that I'm not only usually willing to do what it is she wants, I *want* to do it, and just *doing* it regardless of the whining is the easiest thing, particularly when I just want her to shut up so I can go back to thinking about whatever assignment I'm working about.

I realize that the way to deal with this most consistent with our overall parenting style would be to give her my near-complete attention nearly 100% of the time. But, I've got stuff to do. I've got other kids who need attention, too. And the problem isn't that I can't do what she wants, it's that I want her to learn to ask for it in a less irritating way. She is a very, very 'needy' kid. Her day is an almost-continuous chorus of "mama, mama, nummies, mama, mama, cracker, mama, color, mama, paper?, mama, mama, block?, Dada HOME!!!!, Dada, dada, dada, dada, outside? Dada, stick? Dada, dada, color? Dada, paper?" Sometimes being verbal is a handicap. She rarely shuts up while she's home and my best hope for a break is that she'll get engrossed in some activity. Right now she's got several paper bags, and she's putting random stuff in them and delivering them to people. This will probably last about 5 minutes and then she'll ask me for something. It will probably be something really random, like a towel to put on top of the basket full of stuff she's got. It will be something that I'm more than happy to get. But she'll whine about it and squeal if she doesn't get her way. And then I'll want to squish her (and not in a good way). Fucking whining! It totally destroys the happy-busy mood I think we'd have around here otherwise.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Corn Meal

So it has been three days.

And the toddler is still carrying around a bag of corn meal and treating it like a baby.

She made her daddy cuddle with it yesterday.

She pokes and prods it into the perfect shape and rests it gently upon her shoulder.

She sits it in her highchair.

We have baby dolls. We have stuffed animals. We have any number of things that would be more normal to carry around than something she dug out of the back of my baking supply shelf. But no, we are once again verifying that we are the wierdest toddler alive. Corn meal it is.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Boy Turns Five!

We had a birthday party for Boyness, on his birthday, what a CONCEPT!!! Oh, he was so excited too. Almost TOO excited. I thought just having friends over would be plenty for him, but note: we will need activities for such parties in the future.

I can't believe he is FIVE!!! It seems like so...old! How did he get to be FIVE, already? Holy shit, that's SCHOOL AGE!?

Take a gander at my tribute-to-by post here: BOY

I had wanted to post this ON Boy's birthday, but couldn't find his birth story until today. Read THAT overlong story below or at this link: Tony's Birth. This was a very GOOD hospital birth, and I wish I'd have had him at home instead. *Sigh* I love my Tony. It sucks that we so often start out less than ideal with our children. When I imagine his story different, when I imagine myself pushing in the shower and having my baby then, it changes a lot about how I view his real birth story. "I wish" only gets you so far, and I suppose it is the life experience of Tony's hospital birth that is largely responsible for my attitudes on home birth now, but it sucks that sometimes we have to go through the negatives to value the positives as much as we do.

The Birth of Boy

Anthony’s Birth Story:

On Friday, November 30th, I had a doctor’s appointment. My doctor did an internal exam and declared me 3cm dilated, 50% effaced, and said that once my water broke my labor would be really fast. She also estimated that my baby was under 8 lbs.

On Saturday morning, contractions started. But they were far-between and mild, so I sent my husband to work anyway. Good call. By the time he got home from work, 11 hours later, I was still not having seriously close together or painful contractions.

By late Saturday night my contractions were 5 minutes apart and definitely not Braxton/Hicks, so my husband and I were starting to think of getting our daughter (22 month old Rebecca) to my parents’ house, where my dad would watch her while I was in the hospital. At 1 am Sunday morning we made that call, and headed over. My contractions stalled a bit in the car (to 8-9 minutes apart) so we decided to take a drive through downtown and look at the City Christmas Lights display. Once we’d driven through that we headed to my parents’ place, where we frantically tracked down the infant car seat that we had stored there, only to find that it didn’t fit into our car at the same time as our daughter’s toddler car seat. So we had to put her seat in the trunk and won’t be driving both of them together anywhere for a bit, until we find the adapters to get the infant seat on a side seat. Through all this, my contractions continued at about 5 minutes apart, strong enough to knock the wind out of me but little else.

So we called L&D and told them we might be in soon. They said fine, and they would expect us, and get the antibiotics for my Strep B ordered. We expected to leave the house soon, because the contractions were hurting a bit and had been coming closer and closer together.

Of course, contractions stopped at that point.

After 30 minutes of nothing, at 3 am, we decided to try and get some rest. I camped out on the couch and my husband on the reclining chair, and we tried to sleep.

This is where it gets weird.

My contractions were far apart, I mean FAR apart, once every 45 minutes or an hour (it was hard to tell, I was asleep between them), but PAINFUL. Each one felt like the transition contractions I had felt with my daughter, plus a ton of back pain and cramping. Definitely enough so that I’d wake up each time. The back pain was the worst. It felt like someone had stuck a broomstick up my rear, and lodged it at my coccyx, but continued to push upwards as if somehow that bone could be pushed through. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I would simultaneously feel the violent need to make a bowel movement, and to urinate. Of course, when I tried my bowels were empty and I couldn’t pee a drop. I felt knees through my belly and knew I was in back labor. Oh God, I had heard of this, but hadn’t really believed it would be this much worse.

At 5 my mom woke up to check on us. She encouraged me to walk to get the contractions going, but they were SO PAINFUL, the last thing I wanted was more of them!! Of course, we decided that since they were so far apart there was no use getting to the hospital, even though they were absolute torture when they did come (and I had gone unmedicated with my first, so I knew…)

So for a couple more hours we sat around, ate breakfast, tried not to make a scene for the poor teenager my parents were hosting from off-island while she went to a nearby school, and had a couple more contractions. At 9 my mom convinced me to get into the shower. So I did, and it was so very pleasant in all that warm water, where I could point the stream at my back, which had begun to ache even between contractions. I stayed in there for a long time.

And then the contractions started coming. Oh boy, did they come. 2 minutes apart, so painful, and here I was standing in the shower with shampoo in my hair feeling a strong urge to push. Instead, I tightened up, finished my shower, got dressed, and had my husband and my mom out the door in record time.

The car ride was torture. Luckily, Sunday mornings in Honolulu are traffic-free, and we got to the hospital quickly. I told my husband as I finished up a contraction in the parking lot that if I wasn’t ready to push when we got to L&D, I didn’t know if I would survive the experience. I had three contractions between the car and the emergency entrance, a mere 50 foot walk that had become the most difficult hike of my life. The emergency room logged our entrance at 10:31 am.

The security guard, who thankfully had half a brain about him and understood my husband’s “um, they’re close together, um, yeah…”, recognized the seriousness of the situation and got me directly into a wheelchair and into the check-in immediately, in front of over a dozen other people there. As I had found out in the car, sitting was the WRONG position for back labor, and every moment in that wheelchair was agony. The nurse from L&D arrives very quickly. I love her for hurrying down the hall, and for not acting the least bit phased when during a contraction I leaned out of the chair as we were still motoring full-speed down the hall. At 10:33 I was wheeled into my room in L&D. Since my mom works at the hospital, they gave us the best room (with tables and chairs and tons of space), but it turned out to be a little pointless…

I was given a gown and changed between contractions. A nurse ran an IV (well, put in a Heparin Lock) for antibiotics. By this point my contractions were yelling-strong, a point I never reached when I gave birth to my daughter. The nurse was quick and checked me right when we got there. She declared me 6-7 cm dilated, but my body declared me ready to push and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The issues of IV and antibiotics, and the question of pain medications that had so obviously been on the nurse’s lips, became academic.

10:35 – contraction. I bear down gently, and in the wrong position. My water breaks all over the bed.

10:36 – next contraction. Again in the wrong position. I push but arch my back and make little progress. The doctor enters the room mid-push and waits until I get through the contraction to rearrange me and tell me what to do. I’ve never met him before, but love him for knowing when I can bear to be moved and when to leave me alone, and for believing that I’m ready to push despite the nurse next to him saying I’m not. She checks me again as the contraction wanes, and lo and behold, I am fully dilated, and baby’s head is already coming past the cervix.

10:37 – next contraction. I push with all the intensity my body desires. My husband yells at me to take a breath; he’s scared because I haven’t been breathing in at all, just pushing and pushing and pushing. But I can’t breathe…my body wants to push SO badly! The nurse comes running in (literally) with the mirror, and I see that the head is crowning.

Doctor-who-is-unnamed tells me that I need to stop pushing so hard or I’ll tear badly, so I breathe and bear down as gently as my body lets me, which is pretty strong still. I continue to bear down as the contraction ends, and out comes the head.

I’m told to give a bit of a push to help get the shoulders out, but my body won’t let me, and I tell the doctor this. I’ve experienced some vast shift in my hormones and my body has decided that it is done. Doctor Unknown tells me to exhale and he works the shoulders out, and I push a tiny bit and out comes my son. It is 10:38. I entered the hospital exactly 7 minutes ago.

And so Anthony Michael, all 8 lbs 7 oz, 20 ¾ inches of him, was born at 10:38 am on Sunday, December 2, 2001.

I want to hold him skin-to-skin, but the hospital robe doesn’t open in the front and isn’t cooperating with me. So I practically rip of the robe, absolutely heedless of the fact that a large portion of the L&D staff is now in the room, summoned on a nurse’s mistaken reading of an old bulletin that I am 33 weeks along. And there I am, totally naked, oblivious to the medical bustle and gear-up around me. Apparently Mr. Doctor is ignoring the havoc too, because didn’t even look twice before handing the baby over. As nurses disburse the crowd and un-alarm the neonatologist, we act like we’ve rehearsed this a million times: off comes the robe, here comes the baby, one smooth movement, it must have taken two seconds. And now nobody else exists as I look at my new little one. Absolutely perfect, and absolutely different from my daughter in every way.

As the nurses put warm towels on me and Anthony (our new son), I stare at his pitch-black, straight hair, and his plump face, his dark eyes, and reflect about how different he is from our blond-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned daughter. We had joked before about how since my husband and I are both mixed ethnicities, our children could run the range of traits, and since our daughter came out looking very caucasian, it would funny if our son came out Hawaiian. But we weren’t really expecting him to; it was a complete surprise to see our little one come out so entirely different from our daughter. So much plumper, so much darker, so much more peaceful!! He nursed only 10 minutes after birth, and attached himself perfectly right away and wouldn’t let go for 30 minutes. The nurses understood and didn’t take him away.

Meanwhile, a different doctor came in and went to stitch up the (small) tear in my perineum. I hate her. She pushes down on my perineum to see what she is doing, a move that puts me in incredible pain, which I tell her about but she ignores. She declares my tear not very bad and says it’s a good thing I didn’t get an episiotomy (as if I had an opportunity, as if I wanted one…as if it was ever a consideration…). I feel like pushing, so I do and out comes the placenta. This new doctor takes it as a cue to go ahead and begin repair. She pushes hard on my uterus to get it to contract (which it wasn’t having problems with, believe me) and then she gives me local anesthetic and starts stitching. Although the tear is much smaller than the one I had with my daughter, she takes nearly 5 times as long to stitch it up, every moment of which I feel despite the anesthetic, and nearly all of which she spends pushing on exactly the spot that I told her was in the most pain. She tells me to relax. My husband looks at her like she’s nuts, and tells me to try and focus on baby and ignore the stitching. When she finishes, I am incredibly swollen and in quite a bit of pain from both that and the cramping. Claire, our assigned nurse, makes me an ice pack for my bottom and gets me some Motrin. And then, with good humor, goes about officially admitting us to the hospital. Nearly an hour after our baby is born, we sign the forms. My husband, baby, and I get bracelets, and baby gets an anklet with an alarm on it that will set off the hospital’s security system if he is taken near the stairs or elevators without us.

A few minutes later, Claire helps me out of bed and into the bathroom. My bladder must have been obstructed during labor, because I just go and go and go. I laugh a bit because it reminds me of a certain scene in the movie “Austin Powers.” Ah, relief…I’d been having to go for hours but unable, and it’s nice to know it wasn’t just my imagination. Claire cleans me up and I walk out into the room and find that I’m more comfortable walking around. If I had my way, I would have walked out of the hospital right away and settled in with my little one at home. But I couldn’t. Not hospital policy; nope, I had to get into a wheelchair and head for the mother/baby unit of the hospital, so that we could be poked and prodded on their good time for the next 24 hours. I so wanted my own bed, and not to be woken for meaningless checks or instructed on baby care after I’d told them I’d been through it all before. Home birth next time?

When we got to the mother/baby unit and settled into our room (a double room, but we had it to ourselves), we called my dad and had him bring our daughter in to see Anthony. When they showed up 45 minutes later, my dad had a surprise; he had taught Rebecca to say “Tony,” and when she leaned over to look at her new brother, she yelled his name and woke him up. She was so fascinated by him!!! She stared and stared, and smiled and smiled.

We survive, bleary-eyed, through a night of frequent vital checks and tests. Anthony slept for a surprising portion of the night, just eating and dozing from 11 pm to 7 am. After a final round of checks and tests and signatures, we leave the hospital at around 11 am, and gratefully head into the car and home.

Ahhh, home, I am so very glad to be home. My husband sets to work preparing some real food. The hospital food was awful, and we were both starving. I am surprised people manage to live on that stuff for any period of time. I nurse Anthony and relax, happy that I can doze off without worrying about my next blood pressure check. My mom brings Rebecca to the house and we try our best to settle in, but everything is new. I reflect again about how different it is this time around; different house, different circumstances, and most of all different babies. Our Anthony is so calm, he nurses so well and sleeps so peacefully, the complete polar opposite of Rebecca as an infant. Of course, he is only a day old and we may yet have to deal with Rebecca-esque screaming frenzies, but looking at him now I doubt it.

It is the afternoon on December 4th now, and as I finish up this story Rebecca and Anthony are napping peacefully together. They are sleeping in exactly the same position, Rebecca suddenly looking so big in my eyes, and Anthony looking so tiny. It will be a beautiful photo. My husband and I were watching them sleep, and I told him that we have kids now. KIDS. With an S. More than one. What a mind-blowing concept. I told my husband that I’m sure now that the new baby isn’t all in my imagination. My husband responds that he’s sure now that the baby isn’t just gas (a running joke for us). They let us sleep last night, my milk came in this morning and they are happy and I am happy. I think I like having kids. More than one. At least, it’s awfully nice while they’re both sleeping.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Ok, so maybe not ME. But the world around me certainly is. The lovely powdery white-stuff the kids have been sledding and snowboarding in has melted into a slushy, somewhat-muddy concoction. The snow is melting, and so is my happy little fantasy that the weather would be *just like yesterday* on Saturday, for Tony's birthday party, so that we could have all those kids sledding down the hill and having a BLAST. I can think of no better celebration for boyness than a big fire in the snow, lots of other little-boyness friends, and FUN AND SPEED down the hill. Relatively safe fun, too, because they fly on down there and just kind of run themselves out on a curve before they get to the pond (trees and shrubs completely block the pond...no kids in the pond...no way to sled all the way to the pond...my kids are not drowning in the pond, k?).

In other news, MIL tried to kill herself the other day. OK, so not really. She went out driving on Tuesday. She grew up in HAWAII. She still drives like she lives there. And, hmmduh, she has no idea what to do with the snow and ice. Except, aparently, to go sliding around in circles through a major intersection on SW 320th in Federal Way. Luckily the only thing hurt was her sense of invincibility. Which might be a good thing because she had been planning on driving up to see us. In Fall City. Where there are trucks ditched on the sides of the road and Fran had to use every ounce of his driving knowledge to get our AWD minivan to and from work. Riiiiiiight MIL.

She then proceeded to call Fran in a panic like 20 million times on Tuesday and Wednesday, begging him to stay safe and imploring him to call her the second he got to work, from work, back from lunch, into the car, out of the car, to the intersection...blah, blah, blah. OK, so Fran recognizes a silver lining when he sees one...Niki has PMS, mom is being irritating as hell. Niki, can you call my mom please?

"MIL...""NIKI?! Is Fran home yet?!" "Um, yes, Fran asked me to call you. He's on his way home now, he's almost here. Can you stop calling him please? Please just calm down. He has all-wheel drive. He got to work safely and that is WAY harder than getting back, especially since he's going UPHILL this afternoon and the AWD is good for that. He's not stupid, he's not 16, can you please just calm down a bit? You're calling him while he's driving and if you really think he's in that much danger, I'm sure dealing with the phone isn't helping him any. Seriously, he's FINE. He's been sending me pictures. He's having FUN. You know he likes cars and all this kind of stuff." (Silence.) (It is tempting to fill this silence with babble but I don't.) "OK, thanks Niki, glad to hear he's safe. Love you!" "Love you too, bye!"


DISCLAIMER - My MIL is, how shall we say this...difficult to get through to sometimes. I thought my husband treated his mom badly until I really got to know her, and then I realized that she is one of those people that you just need to be really, really blunt with. She wasn't hurt by the above rant, in fact, she called me the next day to chat about whether she needed a fax machine. I'm gentle with people who need gentle, but MIL isn't one of those people :). That was what it took to get her to stop calling. Non-PMS Niki would have hurled the task right back at Fran, who has an easier time being obvious with his mother, but PMS Niki enjoyed the opportunity to let off steam without hurting anyone.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


So my fall yesterday apparently didn't injure my back. Not that bad anyway, it's just the tiniest bit sore today. Oh no, it gave me whiplash. Can't move my head. Fucking OUCH. Been going real heavy on the arnica cream and it is helping a bit. I can at least TURN my head now, almost to where I can see my shoulder but not quite.

The kids, being kids, seem fine and dandy and ready to do cartwheels down the hill again, so out we will go anyway. But no snowboarding for me today.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Great Day for a Broken Camera

It is gorgeous here but the camera is broken. I tried to take pics of the kids snowboarding...they would have been GREAT...but they came out grainy and embossed-looking. I'm so bummed because the sun is shining in the clearings and snow is gently filtering down, there's powder for the kids to snowboard in, and...I can't take any pictures!

I did go down the hill a bunch of times on the snowboard, but the neighbor's 3yo wandered into my path (where on EARTH did she come from!?) and I really spilled it trying to avoid her, went flying into an old brush pile, and I think I've pulled something in my back from the experience.

Oh, what fun this is!

But DAMN, I want my camera back! I want to capture some of this winter fun!

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Little Sister's Getting MARRIED!!!

She called me about 20 minutes after he proposed to her last night :). I'm so, so happy for them :). How wonderful!! Here's what she wrote in an email this morning:

Our friend [M] took the three pics of us after the proposal had already taken place and there were ample hugs and celebrating. There are some people in the background, but there were more there when he asked! I was soooo surprised, he did a great job!

The ring is .55 carat, hearts on fire, perfect cut. It's set in a solitaire tiffany setting, and the pictures hardly do it justice!

I'm so happy to be engaged to [O], he's perfect, and more than that, he's perfect for me.

Hope to hear from you soon!

She sounded so happy on the phone last night. Oh, I'm so happy for her!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Co-ops and MDC

I ran co-ops at MDC for a while. The new co-op rules SUCK so I haven't since they closed and reopened the boards...I've been using a Yahoo group. Most of the moms on that Yahoo group are from MDC, but not all of them, nor have I ever advertised it on MDC. In fact, I've stopped going to MDC, haven't been on in quite a while, and probably last posted over a month ago.

This is way long, important phrases are bolded. LOL there are only three or so bolded phrases LOL.

So here goes:

Co-op member gets her order, is missing an item. I state I don't have it, send out a special notice for everyone to take a look at their orders to see if they do. Meanwhile, orders ship slowly because I'm having a busy two weeks and people are paying slowly, but nobody's order sits for more than 4 days at my house after they've paid. So even now, not everyone has received their order, there are still a few that aren't paid up. Co-op member sends a couple messages to the group, spaced several days apart, really reasonable "check your boxes please" kinds of messages, and then drops THIS on me last night:

hi there. my last message was ignored again. do you have ANY updates on the status of my missing KK? what is going to happen? will i get a refund? will i get new ones for the ones that i never received? please reply back with something so i know this message was at least seen! its been a long time since i got my package now. thanks, co-op member

OK nothing was addressed directly to me in the previous messages, so as busy as I was I didn't respond, but whatever. I write back:

Hello co-op member,

Like I said, I do not have it here. I was really hoping that with that last round of shipping, SOMEBODY would turn up with the extras. It doesn't seem to be happening.

I cannot credit you, I don't make money off these things. Yes, I'm serious. I don't. And I am absolutely certain at this point that your missing items are not just sitting here in my house.

I can take up a collection to pay for your missing items (worth $5) or ask for minor donations for the next KK co-op so that you can get them. It is looking like KK will be run again soon. I wasn't expecting the 12oz KKs to be so handy and would like a couple more myself, so it's cool with me that it is the firm leader in the "what to do next" poll. So I guess it depends on which of those things you'd like to do.


Lookie what I got in the email this morning:

I have honestly never heard of such a thing and I have been a part of many co-op groups over the past year and 1/2.so basically you're saying 'so sorry, thanks for playing, better luck next time?' That's crap. If you took an inventory of all the KK items when they arrived then that means my missing items arrived AOK and got lost somewhere in your possesion. So b/c they got lost in your possesion I LOSE OUT ON MY ITEMS AND MY MONEY?!?! how is this fair?!?!? EVERY co-op I have ever been in,if there is a missing item the person running the co-op(and none of them make money off of the co-ops either)re-ordereds that item for the person OR they give them their money back. I don't mean to be rude here but this situation is beyond ridiculous. $5 may not seem like a lot to you but it's a lot to me and I can not just throw it down the toilet. Please either purchase the items for me again or give me a refund or I will be forced to report you and take further action. I'm sorry ,I really don't want to but you've pushed me this far. I never knew fellow MDC mamas could be this way :(

My answer?

You know what?

1) I am not running these on MDC anymore. Go ahead, report me. I'll tell them right where to shove it.

2) I told you I'd get you the money or get it reordered, you just had to tell me which. Did you even read that far? All I meant by "I can't refund you" is that I can't just flat-out send back money to people all the time...I just want that understood. I offered later in the email to get you your money back. ALL I MEANT was that I can't just shoot off money the second something turns up missing. Your items are obviously long missing and you won't end up paying for them...but I didn't refund you right when you first noticed missing items because if I made that a policy, it would be a mess.

3) If other co-op organizers are paying people back out of pocket, I have to wonder why the hell they've even kept running co-ops. I've done DOZENS of co-ops spanning over four years and I would have burned out a long time ago if I had to pay money out of pocket. Hence the collection. This is more a strategy thing on my part and maybe I shouldn't have mentioned it, since it obviously is beyond YOUR understanding.

4) I inventoried. You don't have your items. This doesn't meant that I have them. It does mean that SOMEONE has them, and not everyone even has their order yet. What with all this "I've been ignored, I've been ignored" whining, did you even NOTICE that I've repeatedly asked people if they looked for extras?

5) I am living below the poverty line. Don't pull that "5 dollars may not be a lot to you" shit with me.

I obviously needed to be clearer in my original email and for that I apologize. If you understand the above, feel free to tell me what you'd like. That was what I was after in the original - money back, or reorder?

I am quite sick and last week was the week from HELL, and have been tending this co-op the best I can during it. Excuse me for not venting my issues all over the group, but if I had been you'd all be surprised I was shipping at all last week, much less paying any attention at all to the group messages.


So we'll see, eh?

I can't believe I was threatened with MDC. "I'll tell on youuuuuu...." OMG, how old are we?

UPDATE: She wrote me back saying to give her the money and she'll leave the group. Saves me the trouble, I was going to kick her out...holy fly off the handle batman. I think I need some be-super-direct lessons from Angela. This is precisely why I didn't vent all my issues of the last two weeks on the group...the second I whine about something it gets misinterpretted, or I get judged about just how hard my life is (my IRL friends would agree I was HASHED last week, I didn't really have any business bothering to ship the 40-odd packages I managed to get out that week). I think it takes running a co-op to realize just how much work it is to, well, run a co-op. When you have 50 orders to deal with, it isn't just a matter of throwing them in a box and taping on a label, you know?

FURTHER UPDATE: She then posted a pity-me, make-Niki-look-like-an-asshole MDC thread. I couldn't let it go. I did a straight cut-and-paste of the blog right up to where it says "update". Yes, the whole thing. It got locked and removed almost as fast as I could blink.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Random Things to be Happy About

I am sure anyone who reads my blog knows I usually only post when I'm pissed at something. I've had a fairly smooth, if stressful (in an expected sort of way) past several weeks, so there has been no posting. In the name of updates, I am grateful for the following things:

1) My friends rock. They just do.
2) My school is a shitload of work but everything is going smoothly, including finding care for my kids while I'm there (Fran has gotten paid vacation for the onsites so far)
3) My son has not been fed dairy in over a month
4) I got good food at Ginos for free the other night
5) The woodstove is working perfectly and keeping my house warm and cozy
6) There are preggo people to obsess quietly over

Oh, I think there's a bunch more but you get the idea. Nothing to blog home about and all ;) but things were more or less going smoothly. Or maybe I just lacked the energy to blog about irritations that were, all in all, pretty petty.

I mean, really, I could fill a full-page censor-black-box with my rant on my washing machine (high maintainence piece of shit, its off balance buzzer is going right now...). But nah, that would require energy. Energy that I am conserving. Just wait for the PMS show...come to think of it, are my entries that predictably cyclical? Holy cow, the SECRET to vent-based blogging. Just don't even bother when you're not PMSing.

Random Vent at my Husband

Just HOW FUCKING HARD would it be to close the fucking door when you brush your teeth in the morning? How fucking hard?! That's two mornings in a row you woke me up before the kids got up. FUCKING DAMNIT. I'm so tired, and tonight when I crash and the baby is still doing hyperactive helicopter-armed circles around the living room and YOU wanted to sleep "early" because you have to get up "early," I am SO JUST GOING TO SLEEP AND LETTING YOU DEAL WITH IT.


Thursday, October 05, 2006


PMS just sucks.

I always procrastinate more when I have PMS.

And I'm a procrastinator by nature.

So yeah, I have a problem. I have hardly read a word of my assignments for this week's classes. I need to go into the shed and get out the baby carriers for one of my assignments. I need to make fliers. I need to print out articles. I need to...

Go to the discussion boards and forget about anything that I need to do, that's what I need to do. Or so it would seem by my actions.

Now, my friends know that if you need an internet rant directed at someone, and Niki is PMSing, yup, I got your back. I am SUCH. A. BITCH.

Oh ladies that met me at the zoo yesterday...love you all :). You are awesome. You made me forget that I had started in on a PMSfest. What a rockin' time that was! I have friends! Yay! They know I go on bitchy PMS rampages and they like me anyway!! What's up with THAT?

But right now I want my house clean and I want it clean LAST WEEK, and the kids went to put stuffed animals in a bucket and ended up taking out the legos. NOT CLEANING, kids, that is SO NOT CLEANING.

It is totally a hormonal shitfest and I KNOW it. But I so can't fix it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fun! Nondestruction! L's House!

Yesterday morning, when I announced to the kids we were heading to ~L~s place, I got an unexpected number of groans.



I dragged out explanations and found that yeah, the last time we went there, they didn't have such a hot time. Well, I had been pretty focused on Tony having an absolutely shit-tastic ~L~ house experience, but it was because he'd had dairy and was completely and totally MISERABLE (and apparently, didn't have any qualms about letting the rest of us know that...with his fists). Well before *I* was ready to leave, Tony was begging to go home and looking so horribly miserable that I decided we'd just go. He apparently left poor LittleBoyN with the impression that he was unliked. Not that I blame him :(. Tony was acting like a violent drunk. Who would enjoy THAT?

Becca, in the meantime, had been braving a sick and surly GirlieG. And while I knew they weren't getting along with their usual happily-superglued girliegetherness, I certainly didn't think she'd had such a bad time of it that she didn't want to go over again.

But yeah.

Tony was not dairyboy. GirlieG was well (or very close to it...she'd had a cold but meh, not nearly the misery she was in last time).

The track in the garage is such a completely COOL idea. The schoolroom looks AWESOME.

The kids had a blast and cried when it was time to leave. Yes, even the 6yo. Oh, so happy to have cute paired-off kidgetherness again.

I drove home with coffee and stayed up until 2am absolutely wired. Note to self: no more caffeine so late in the day. Self, if you think you'll fall asleep driving...maybe go for a half-dose next time.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Random Pelvic Thought

Wow that title sounds weird. But I realized that lately, my titles have nothing to do with the subject matter. My blog and all, but even I don't know what they're about, so, yeah, that's no good.

Anyhow, I was driving along yesterday and it hit me, a *random pelvic thought.* And here is how it went:

So, we did pelvics during our first week at SMS.

I, as someone who was even contemplating going UC with my third, have a pretty hearty objection to routine pelvic exams being done at all, much less in labor.

Am I being brainwashed? Did we start up so early so that we could be brainwashed into the hearty belief that *this is how it is done?* That is certainly, I believe, why doctors do some of the insane-stupid things they do; they were brainwashed early on and unremittingly from that point to believe these things, until they parrot them and believe them for absolute fact ("of COURSE vaccines are safe!" "yes, you DO need milk!"). Is SMS really so nefarious that they are brainwashing us to believe that the pelvic exam is just-something-you-do?

Or, as I originally believed, are we simply starting out with the things that need the most practice, so that by the time we have actual patient contact it is second-nature enough that we don't scare the living shit out of them with our deer-in-the-headlights stares, and actually *gasp* stand some chance of understanding what we are doing and feeling.

Gawd, maybe it is all the same thing. I guess it all hinges on their intent, 'cause the method would be the same either way. Or maybe it hinges on MY intent. I dunno.

So, yeah, my random pelvic thought for the day.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Yes, I realize now, making this blog private is giving me all kinds of freedom. Sure, I don't have 150 hits a day anymore, but I also don't have to worry about offending random people who wander in. Like how apparently my clutterpartment posts were offensive to hoarders...I'm supposed to be gentler. Holy hell ladies, it was how I FELT. Point of the blog. Don't internalize it like that...it was all about my MIL nailing me with all her shit. It wasn't about being apalled by your apartment. For crapsake, I don't care if your apartment looks like that, I'll even come to visit. But that was supposed to be MY HOME. It wasn't even MY stuff! I didn't like that! So sue me. I don't recall ever actually insulting YOU.

Anyway...just an example.

I can now be the biggest fucking whiny PMSy bitchwoman on the face of the earth. And nobody but my little group of favorites will know about it. (Hi little group of favorites, love ya! You were the only folk who ever left me comments anyway!)

So, well, I get to tell you sensitive things that would get me crucified on MDC. Like *I HATE MY TODDLER RIGHT NOW*. She is worlds of demanding the last couple of days. She tanked the math unit I was trying to do with Becca, kept running over and jumping on her manipulatives (no matter how much fun the alternate activity I gave her was). And goddamnit, I was so mad at her. SO mad. She is a toddler! You aren't SUPPOSED to be *that* kind of *mad* at a toddler! You're supposed to do happy little hippie things like redirect, redirect, redirect, give her the attention she wants, blah, blah, blah. I just wanted to stick her in a baby cage and throw her a cookie and be over with it. But alas, good AP parent that I am, I own no such baby cage (she could probably escape it anyway, monkey child that she is).

And this morning I find myself resenting her. Of COURSE I love her. But I want her to dissappear for a day. I'm just upset with how much of my attention she demands. I told Fran last night and he said "I'm sorry, it's my fault." WTF? And HOW is it fucking YOUR fault? He apparently has decided that because he had given her a TON of one-on-one time last week (he didn't have any projects...just played with the kids all week), she's stepped up what she believes the baseline acceptable is. He showed me an example. He dumped some of the unfolded laundry onto the bed, and she started throwing it around. He called her over and showed her how to fold underwear. She happily folded underwear with him as long as he stood there folding with her and talking to her and praising her. But the SECOND he stopped paying 100% attention to her she started throwing the clothing around again. Like *snap* she's the whirlwind troublechild again.

It was a fun little exercise because:

1) OK, now I know that she isn't just a freaking out-of-control hellchild entirely and irreversibly by nature.
2) I can't give her that kind of attention anyway, so it was pretty pointless. I mean, sure, I can direct her to an activity, but if she'll only do it while I'm with her, it is pointless. I can't give her something to do and go work with Becca. There are a lot of activities in this house that I can involve her in (I've heard of this kind of child before and always thought gloatingly "DAMN I'm glad not to have one." FUCKING KARMA), but also a ton that I simply can't. At some point I need her to do her own thing so that Becca can be doing her school work and I can be doing MY school work and she can be, well, somewhere other than ripping the skins off the pockets in the DVD folder or tearing apart books or seeing whether her stuffed animals will float in the (scummy because I'm soaking pots in it) sink or climbing on top of the woodstove to hurl pieces of banana at the TV (that was...fun...to clean up).

I hate my toddler right now :(.

I don't like hating my todder, but there you are. She's driving me fucking bonkers.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Random Things I'd Like to Tell My Co-op Members but Can't

NO you CAN'T fucking delete your order now!!! We're in FILLS! The CLOSE DATE is the CLOSE DATE for PRECISELY THIS REASON! You're supposed to have your shit figured out by THAT date...not "oh you know I just can't swing it" or any other assorted fucking lame-ass excuse for FUCKING UP MY NUMBERS.

So...let's say you order 2 of thelistsfavoritepuppet and then, when the fills list comes out, you see that we need 5 of thelistsfavoritepuppet to fill a pack of six. The thing to do about this is NOT to broadcast a panic-stricken whiny-ass post to the list. YES I tallied your 2 thelistsfavoritepuppets correctly. YES there are 5 more to fill a case. This would be because there were TWENTY-FIVE thelistsfavoritepuppet ordered. Of course you can't do the math, or maybe YOU could be co-op organizer. You are now officially off the list of people-I'd-ever-buy-anything-from. Of course I'm not a fucking retard, and of course I can fucking tally the number of puppets everyone ordered (not that tallying 300 puppets is EASY...) and of course I can divide that number into the number of puppets per case and get an accurate remainder. This was, last I checked, 4th grade math.

CHECK THE FUCKING DATABASE. Don't know if I got your order? CHECK THE FUCKING DATABASE. Don't know if I got your order RIGHT? CHECK THE FUCKING DATABASE. Don't know if you got those minis you wanted? CHECK THE FUCKING DATABASE. Don't know your total? CHECK. THE. FUCKING. DATABASE. DAMNIT.

Friday, September 15, 2006

More on that...

So of course, as was my biggest anxiety, I was paired with someone who was incredibly horribly anxious about doing the pelvic exams. I was, in turn, incredibly horribly anxious about hurting her, missing some crutial cue, overstepping some bound, you know...causing permanent psychological damage on top of the history she already had.

This is of course a hugely difficult place to be in.

And, to clarify, they have told us TIME AND AGAIN that we did not have to do this. We need, for our own education, to DO the examining, but we do not need to be examined ourselves. It is, of course, far easier for everyone involved if everyone consents to be examined. And the program is set up to make that pretty much the default. But there is more than enough room for someone, especially someone like my partner who had blanched and been unable to even TALK about being the subject of this exercise, to decline altogether.

Knowing that she decided to go forth anyway, after I had made it clear in a way that I think she really believed that I would not in any way even think of holding it against her or think badly of her for declining and would go about my merry way being examined twice to keep the balance, really really really really (can I say that enough times) helped my nerves. At that point I felt like I had 'cleaned house' and gotten off my chest the idea that *I* was somehow responsible for bringing her into this situation. I was not. The situation was there and she made it clear to me and to our instructor (these sessions take place in groups of three students and one instructor) that she wanted to go forward.

I do not know whether the experience was healing for her. It isn't like birth that way, where you can have healing from a former violence to the genitals simply by having someone be gentle. But I was excrutiatingly careful to get explicit consent for every single action, down to movements and motions, and to by eye contact make as sure as I possibly could that she was doing OK with everything.

She did not, as another student did, DANCE (literally) into the review room afterwards so happy about her experience. But she did tell me that she felt like she was so much closer to her own personal recovery and comfortability in her own body than she had been the day before. Which is, I think, monumental. I don't think that I had much of a part to play in that at all. I was simply the person that was there, accessory to the psychological battle she'd fought and won over the course of this week.

This is, I think, an important lesson for me to learn. I have been worried, awfully worried, about the statistics of abuse and the probability of dealing with women who are, to varying degrees, fragile because of this. The position of midwife is one of immense responsibility in this regard. It is right up there in my top worries about my future as a practicing midwife. And seeing that all it took was my INTENT not to hurt her and my care in checking in with her to achieve the end-result of her not feeling hurt is simply earth-shattering in importance to me.

There are a lot of things to process from this week but this is the one that I have taken with me in the hour and a half of drive-time each way on my commute each day this week.


I am still mid-day here but yeah...

It was a non-event. Totally, completely, non-event. Everyone was great, did great, etc. We SHOULD have trusted the staff knew what they were doing (what the heck else did we enroll here for?). A lot of "we should have done that twice today" and teachers saying "we will at EVERY onsite from here on out..." but the fear didn't come to anything.

OK, back to class and all.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

SMS - the beginning

This is a post I have trouble writing. Not "trouble" like emotionally gut-wrenching trouble, just...it is tough to pull words from the fog of this week.

You hear all through admissions to this school that "onsite weeks will be tough!" But the reality of it all is that we are thrown into some pretty heady shit really fast, and it was tough in an unexpected kind of way. We have done breast exams already and our first round of pelvics are tomorrow. Pelvics. First week. Holy shit.

This isn't just "holy shit" in terms of a lot of material. We are really heartily supported by the faculty here. But I feel for my classmates with sexual abuse histories. I feel like they've been shoved into a place they don't belong yet. I don't think they're ready. My concerns are diminishingly small compared to theirs.

I think we are all coming to terms with how fast we are tackling physical skills in our own ways. We eased through breast exams so easily, we were so heartily prepped for it, that it felt like we were examining each others' elbows. It does not hurt that there is not a single person here that I believe should not be in this class. I will be heartily glad to see each and every one of these people as midwives.

Myself, I am just plain TIRED. To get here at 8am I leave home at 6:45. After a day that ends at 7:30, I get home at 8:30. We subsist on coffee; there is a full pot of the stuff in the corner all the time. Class literally comes to a halt so that it can be refilled if it runs out.

This is a venting place and I think that it is going to become rather more private than my blog has been to date. So I'm taking it off the MDC links.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Well it has been a while, eh? I still can't bring myself to write about anything meaningful, so here 'ya go, a cut-and-paste from MDC:

So Naomi has been reporting what my milk tastes like. The other day it was "Gagic!" and yesterday it was "a...hot!" (spicy). It doesn't seem to be stopping her from nursing though.

In the store today, she picked up a toy and told me "baby!". I pointed to her and said "baby?" and she said "no." "You aren't a baby." "No baby." "Are you a big girl then?" "Kay...big."

Sigh. They do get big so fast.

Friday, August 18, 2006


I feel the need to move that very depressing last post out from the top of my blog.

So I'm going to talk about *something*. And that *something* is, for lack of ability to think of anything else to talk about right now, how off-kilter the balance of me vs. kid time is.

We hear it a lot; you need some time for yourself, some time away from the kids, blah, blah, blah. The fact is, I damn near NEVER get that. The proof of that is everywhere; Fran says "do you want a recording of this radio program I liked," I say, "is it kid friendly," "no," "well then when would I listen to it?"

If I can't fucking listen to a cd recording of a radio program he liked, what does that mean?

I don't have ANY time without the kids anymore. ANYTHING! I go to sleep when the baby goes to sleep at night, and wake up when one of the kids wakes up in the morning. I slink into the kitchen like some half-made mama prototype ("coffeeeee, must have coffeeeeee"), pour cereal or throw fruit at the kids to get them off my back, and carve myself an hour of "me" time drinking coffee and staring at the computer.

Can I even CALL it me time when I'm still the ONLY person in the house with the mental capacity to realize that scissors + outlet = bad idea?

It isn't that Fran is not GIVING me free time, it is that I have, at this point, found "me" so completely subsumed by my kids that I don't even know what I'd do with it if I asked him for it. And he doesn't see the point either...what would be better than all going out and doing something together? Isn't anything else really a waste of precious time?

Well, no.

But I have lost my balance so badly that I've fallen almost entirely on the kids-are-my-life side of the fence. It is pathetic. OK, so maybe I jump up and down and *LOOK* at the "me" side of the fence every now and then. But nah, I'm not walking that line in a healthy kind of way.

I'm hoping that starting in at school will help me to reclaim the "me" out of this. And that is pretty pathetic too, is it not? That I expect some external thing to force me from the funk?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

And Then Daddy Died...

This seems a recurring theme in the kids' make-believe play of late. It bothers me for two big reasons (as well as the, er, general unsettlingness of the kids pretending someone is dying outside the context of dealing with anyone we know of dying...).

1) The play almost always centers around mama-reads-book-to-baby, daddy-goes-off-battles-dragon-and-dies. Gender stereotypes much?

2) I've been dwelling in my own little way on the probability of Fran dying before I do just because he is darned unhealthy and has family history working against him. He's nearing 30, the age when people just mysteriously keel over with the "OMG I can't believe he had a heart attack, he's only 30!" except, well, we can't say it was unforseen for him. His dad had one in HIS early 30s. And while the kids get to jump up and head off for round 2, I might not get that. The thought of raising these kids without him is completely terrifying, but I keep poking at the idea with my brain, as if it were some sort of wound I needed to examine thoroughly to determine just how bad it is. "If Fran were to die tomorrow," says my brain, "it would be for Naomi like a bad joke gone on far too long: cut it out already and just give me my dada!" These thoughts HURT me physically but are difficult to banish, particularly with the kids playing "and then daddy died" every couple of hours.

*Sigh* this is a real downer of a post, I know. Nobody wants to think about their husband dying, right? To wonder about whether they even COULD keep it somewhat together for their kids if it happened. But these are the thoughts rolling around in my head and I want them out.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Amazing Eating Machine

Toddlerness has been awake for three hours. She has eaten:

10 graham crackers (yeah, the whole, rectangular ones)
1/2c tomato soup
8 saltine crackers
12 macadamia nuts
3 1/2" cubes of cheese
1 plum
1 banana
and she has nursed approximately 1 million times (OK more like 8 times but still).

OMG I can't keep up! She HEAD-BUTTED me when I couldn't peel the banana fast enough for her!

As if that wasn't enough, she is sitting on my lap right now and JUST asked for a BURGER!!! "BURGAH? Burgah? BURGAH!!!! BURGUUUUUUUURRRRHHHHH!!!!!!! WAHACHU?" (where are you).

What. The. Fuck.

She is NOT a teenager. She is a toddler. OMG she is driving me nuts.

I woke up this morning looking like the living dead and sooooo terribly hungry, because she'd nursed all night.

She has not given up on the burger. *Sigh* maybe I really will make her one.

She is now standing on a stool watching her burger cook.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

More Thoughts on Boy

I thought that Tony's dairy allergy was fairly recent, but more and more I'm finding that I was actually pretty obtuse about realizing there was anything wrong at all.

While we were on vacation, my mom and I got to talking about Tony's allergy. See, I still held that while he had some symptoms coming on before I recognized it, it wasn't that bad nor was it for that long. But she reminded me about Tony's "chocolate dance." After he ate chocolate, he would go running and dancing around the room in this insanely funny routine that we actually named "the chocolate dance," it was so predictable. I always thought that it was just a kid quirk, because I mean really, sounds like fun, eh? And he wasn't hurting anything or looking all that upset himself. I'd forgotten about it entirely, actually, until my mom mentioned it. And then suddenly, the going-off about chocolate but not about other forms of sugar MADE SENSE.

And then it was one of those "come to think of it..." kinds of things...followed by another "come to think of it..." and another...as I realized, he's been congested most of his life, ear infection after ear infection, he was a trouble toddler and this was probably WHY. His allergy manifests for him mainly in a general level of pissed-offedness, hyperactiveness, and lack of impulse control that is only a little beyond the 'crazy toddler' level, so I thought he was just, well, harder to deal with than his big sister (who admittedly, was a PERFECT toddler).

And now I'm bummed that it took me so frigging long to realize that there was anything wrong AT ALL. Not so much that it took so long to figure out the allergy thing, I'm not beating myself up over that, I'm just upset that I lalalalalala'd my way through so many signs that there was SOMETHING up, and even after we had that SOMETHING pinned down, I didn't just trace it all the way back to toddlerhood in one "aha" moment.

I'm just feeling slow about it all.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


While we were gone, the washing machine broke...or so DH thought. He didn't have enough duct tape to patch the hose he thought was leaking, so when I got back I bought some while he was at work and went ahead and did it. Turned on the washing machine...WATER EVERYWHERE. It was backing up from the pipe that carries water away from the washer, not the hose.

Got liquid plumber. Two applications. No luck.

Couldn't locate a place to disassemble the pipe. Went down to ask NeighborB if he had a plumbing snake. He did but it was broken...he came up to take a look anyway (he is the landlord after all...) and found a joint he could take apart near where the pipe entered the house. A joint I had neglected even looking at because I figured it was too far from where I thought the blockage would be.

Takes it apart, sees something. Asks for some pliers to take it out, so I run to the shed to oblidge, and come back like 30 seconds later to find him pulling it out with a stick (he's just impatient like that). And then yelling "AAAH, I CAN'T BELIEVE I TOUCHED THAT, AAAAAH...can you get me plastic bags *cough* *cough* *sputter*" as he pulls out...a squirrel. Looking none the better for the liquid plumber and a week in the pipe.

As I ran to get the bags I heard something that sounded a little like someone vomitting...

"OMG," he tells me as I come back, "I can't believe I TOUCHED it...I was thinking...what is this, it is kind of smooth, a little squishy...and then I smelled it."

Fran tells me later "thank GOD it was Bernie, that must have SUCKED! I would have lost my lunch!" Er, Fran, so did he, so did he.

And yes, we did secure a screen over the pipe it probably came in through, an air venting pipe that was just open before.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Leaving/Coming Home

We spent our last Hawaii day as busily as possible. We went to the aquarium in the AM, the tide pools in the afternoon. I got one last snorkelling trip in (even though the ocean was VERY rough that day) and a turtle let me touch it. We brought very tired kids back to my parents' in time to pack, and then left Hawaii as the sun was setting.

The kids slept through the flight, with the exception of the 20 minutes Naomi spent SCREAMING HER FUCKING HEAD OFF on descent. She was congested and it must have hurt; she was inconsolable. She is also a wimp, so whatever, she's not permanently damaged, although I'm not sure about the eardrums of the passengers around us (who were surprisingly good about it, I got way more sympathy than irritation).

And we arrived in Seattle as the sun was rising.

We got home and slept for hours, went to MIL's for dinner, went home and slept again.

We are SO, SO very happy to be home. I knew it as soon as we got here from the airport, but with even more certainty when I stepped in my house. I remember that we used to feel something of a let-down when we got home from vacations, a sense of "aw, man, now we're back in our lives..." but this time it was "YAY, back in OUR LIVES!" And I feel absolutely GREAT about that!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hawaii Day 11 - Pali, Makapuu Lighthouse

Today we were going to go to the tide pools that the kids love so much again. So after a pretty leisurely morning, we packed up and headed out at about 10am. On the way up the Pali I noticed it was pretty windy, so we decided to stop. Yes, it was the VERY BEST time to go. The wind was fierce but steady, there was no rain to pelt us (as usually happens when the wind is really strong) and the kids LOOVED it. In the photo you can see some idiot young adults trying to climb the fence but no worries, they could have jumped and the wind would have pushed them back (it happens). They weren't brave enough to try.

After the fence it is just a DROP; sources disagree but the standard measure is between 985 feet (counting only the vertical drop itself) and 1400 feet (counting the vertical drop and the steep slope to the valley floor that comes afterwards). Legend has it that King Kamehameha I, the monarch who unified the islands under his control (before this each isle was under the control of its own chief), forced his opponents up to the cliffs here and decided his victory by pushing them over. The photo shows the area we lived in before we moved from the islands (not the area my parents live in). This is a favorite view because the panorama continues on either side. And, oh yeah, there's a parking lot 100 feet behind where I took the photo. It is probably the most effortless mountain view on the island.

We headed out to hike the trail to the Makapuu lighthouse, which clings halfway down a slender and very tall strip of mountain that thrusts itself into the sea. The hike was HOT. The CACTI were withering and dying. But the views were incredible:

After all that...when we got to the beach the tide pools were entirely submerged and waves were actually breaking on the shore, something that none of us had ever seen before. We headed a couple miles down the road to watch people boogie board in some REALLY big waves, then when the kids fell asleep in the car decided that what the heck, it was already 4pm...we just went on back to swim in the pool and eat shave ice at the neighborhood store.

Hawaii Day 10 - Honolulu Zoo

Yeah, I'm breaking form and writing this the next morning.

We went to the zoo yesterday. It is STILL under construction. OMG this is the project that never ends! They had some cool new kid stuff though, including an exhibit where you crawl in a tube through an aquarium and can then pop up to the surface right in the middle of the tank. It was supposed to have Koi in it, but being incomplete...it was just a tank of water. The kids thought it was pretty neat anyway, but I think they'd have loved being in there with the fish :(. The new keiki zoo has a thing where you roll a barrel and it turns a massive water-works, too, but it didn't have water in it yet (WTF?) and they have a goat enclosure that you get into by jumping up a series of logs, walking around a lookout-type wall, and then rock-climbing down (or for the weak of heart, there's a door).

The zoo was hot and miserable, but would have been bearable of boyness hadn't decided to WHINE INCESSANTLY about how hot and miserable it was. He forgot whenever he saw something cool, but in between, it was near-constant. UGH.

Toddlerness refused to walk, at ALL. STROLLERS ROCK. She sat there and ate her raisins for most of the trip. She was enchanted with the cows and the chickens...she really loved the keiki (children) zoo. It was the only place we could get her to move on her own power. I'd say she was sick or something but the second we get near water, OFF SHE GOES. So I guess she's just conserving energy for when the "real fun" rolls around.

I purchased a membership at the Honolulu Zoo because it is cheap and offers reciprocity with both Woodland Park and Point Defiance back home. Saved me about a hundred bucks all told.

We went back to my parents' and had a pretty average afternoon. I made the kids nap because they were the biggest fucking crank-asses EVER. Tony woke up much more reasonable.

We stayed up late playing Trivial Pursuit. My dad won. We are such a dorky family. It was fun anyway.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hawaii Day 9 - Kailua, Aiea Loop Trail

It was a nicer day today so we managed our trip to Kailua beach finally. We set up a tent and brought the boogie boards, and the kids had a grand time. Becca and Tony both caught a bunch of waves, and Naomi really enjoyed puttering around with her swim-wings on out past the break, where she could just float around. The sun was out, the water was warm, the breeze was mild. But after several hours we were beat, and headed back in time to get lunch, pick up Paul's girlfriend, and head out in our very-packed van for some hiking.

The Aiea Loop Trail (it has a different name, after the heiau - temple - that it begins at, but I can't remember it and neither can anyone else...) is 4.5 miles long but very, very hilly and, after that initial clear patch, tangled in roots and rocks. In other words, it was a TON of fun for the big kids at first but quickly became tiring. And I didn't have a backpack carrier for Naomi, so we had to carry her, even after she fell asleep.

About 3 miles in Becca declared a need to go to the bathroom and an absolute unwillingness to stop, so my dad rushed her on ahead. He says it took them only about 15 minutes to complete the trail (whohoo, good pace...she ran!) but I lugged an unhappy (and not too silent about it) toddler and a worn-out 4yo the same distance in about an hour. The last quarter mile or so, Paul even carried Boyness on his back. But we eventually DID get to the end (there's an END?) of the trail. Every time I hike this I say "NEVER AGAIN" but then look at the pictures and say "oh yeah." The trail follows the ridge-rim along a valley, then dips down to the valley floor and back up to return you to your starting point. At your peak elevation, you are perhaps 100 vertical feet below the highest point on the island (which we hiked to LAST year on the Stairway to Heaven) and at your lowest point you are slogging around in stream beds and oppressive humidity. About at the point where you've gone 4 miles and are slogging up the hill in very humid and completely breeze-less air, tripping on roots because you're just sick of looking at the damned things, you just...HAVE...to decide never to do it again.

At least the views were nice! And I'll be damned if it isn't working; you remember the pretty and you forget how fucking miserable the trail is while you're actually ON it.