Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Pictures

We had a great Christmas this year!

The stockings were great fun:

The kids LOVED their presents:

BOYNESS - can't you just, you know, make a NORMAL face?

Then we went to Nana's house, where the adults tried their best to stay awake, and the kids had yet more fun. The girls especially appreciated the dresses their Nana sewed for them (she even sewed a tag into them that said "made by NANA" - it was very cute).

The kids got to eat the gingerbread house they had made the week before (surprisingly not nasty - MIL had kept it under plastic wrap and it was pretty fake to begin with):

And yeah, he may be a goofball, but Boyness sure did have a great holiday:

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lengthening Days

Solstice around here is a special event. Aside from the fact that it marks the midway point in the hell of non-light that is winter in the Pacific Northwest, solstice also marks the birthday of my youngest child, who is now three years old.

"Happy Birthday [toddlerness]!" I shouted yesterday morning, when she arose late and happy and wandered into the living room. "Mommy, I three! I can go in a kid zone now!! Can we go to IKEA?"


Anyway, we celebrated all things celebratable in one fell swoop at ~L~s house last night: a solstice party where we exchanged Christmas presents and sang happy birthday to Toddlerness (twice - once for her presents and once for her cake).

There was an ungodly volume of child, and a tad too much rum. But everyone had a great time.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter Activities

The things that brighten winter...

Putting finishing touches on the tree: A trip to the pass: Who said baking couldn't be MANLY: Yes, Fran takes the kids to the snow a lot:
(that is supposed to be video of the kids playing in the snow, we'll see if it eventually loads right...)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


And I still feel shitty, but have regained enough sanity to think that I'm being a bit of a shit myself.

So we had a great time this weekend, really. An impromptu get-together at ~L~s, Girliness had a two night sleepover, Boyness had some daddy time all to himself, and I got to sign Toddlerness in at IKEA for the first time and have an hour and a half of NO CHILDREN and no other pressing anythings. DAMN did that hour and a half fly by quickly.

Toddlerness is really getting into this whole Christmas thing. Demanded green fingernails, wearing sparkly red headbands and green shirts...she's way into it. She's also not even three yet. I shudder to think of the preteen/teenaged years. For now, it is hillarious and fun. Although I'm not sure anyone believes that she dresses herself that way. Oh well. She's happy.

Girliness has taken an interest in a workbook called "sentences to paragraphs" and is progressing nicely along that. Boyness, on the other hand, can think of little other than Super Smash Brothers *sigh*. At least HE is happy. He can kick my butt at that game, too.

I want to curl up in a corner and cry...

We didn't thank FIL for his gift fast enough (for like the third or fourth time - we're habitual offenders), and he's offended.

I didn't send off my package for my family yet...and they're in Hawaii. Not going to be on time. Again. CRAP.

In over 9 hours of clinic today, I saw 1 miscarriage, 2 blood pressure readings high enough to set my own heart galloping, 1 vbac consult that...I mean, her chances of not having a csection this time around are dishearteningly slim, 1 woman with twins who has had to transfer out of a more laidback homebirth practice into a hospital birth, 1 woman with life circumstances that just SUCK, 1 woman who is sitting at 41w with nary a sign of labor, and only ONE WOMAN who is having a happy, healthy, totally normal time of it.

I did, though, get to talk to a the lovely 9yo daughter of one of the high-bp-reading moms, and explain the function of all the parts of the NST equipment, and what it was measuring, and how we could tell baby was happy and when mom was having a contraction. It was some silver lining in the midst of a day full of telling people things they didn't want to hear.

My preceptor was saying she'd like to trade places with her dog. I want to cry, but it wouldn't fix anything because the distress these women feel isn't even mine, and the FIL issue and the my-family box aren't going to be fixed by a few tears. Instead I think I'm going to finish this blog entry, take a shower, and go read a very non-midwifery book. And head to the post office first thing in the morning.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Visits and Pictures!

A day at the pass with Daddy while I finished up the last of the schoolwork for the quarter and vacuumed up the tree droppings:

And a quick yo-yo teaching session with Papa in the evening, after he arrived on the late flight!

We went to the zoo the next day:

Did I mention Toddlerness took right to her Papa?

And reliving some baby times...riding in daddy's jacket:

The kids were sad, as usual, to see their Papa leave. I'm missing living close to my parents.


If I ate like my preceptor - or even like how I eat on clinic days - all the time, I'd lose weight for sure.

Yesterday in the half hour that she was busy with a counseling session for someone that didn't want a student in the room, I wrote SOAP notes and reviewed charts and scarfed down the egg, two carrots, and orange I brought with me. So all yesterday I had that, coffee, and a bowl of spaghetti when I got to Neighbor's house to trade off (she watched my kids, I came back and watched hers).

Yeah, I'd lose weight for sure.

Which would be a good thing at this point.

While I love *who* I am, I am continually see pictures of myself, to look down and see chubby hands, things like that. And I fluctuate all over the place, from pants almost falling down at the moment to barely fitting just before a period. Which drives me NUTS and has to be a function of the lovely padding I've got on my midsection right now. What is funny is that there is a very accurate scale at the YMCA, and I've found that even when I'm stretching/falling out of my pants, the scale tells me I'm only about a pound off. Am I destined to be this weight? Well, that would stink, eh?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Concluding the Dryer Saga

It has been a long time - what...two months? - since my dryer gave out in semi-spectacular manner.

This weekend my dad came (more on that when I find the camera). In addition to a trip to the zoo and more eating out than we're used to, he spent a couple hours replacing the socket and the dryer plug, to no avail...the old one was definitely fried.

Craigslist to the rescue! Before he'd even left town, I'd arranged to pick up an elderly but clean and working dryer for a whole $20. That I accomplished yesterday. Only to find that the plug wasn't quite the right type. DAMNIIIIIITTTTT. Went to Home Depot to see if I could get a different socket cover (seriously, it was a tiny difference and the internal stuff in the socket would connect just fine, I just couldn't get it through the plate). But no.

So armed with some more advice from dad, I spent nearly an hour today wrestling dryers and exchanging plugs from one to the other. And finally (finally!) I have a working dryer today.

Oh my goodness, the crazy. I am not sure I've ever been so happy to have accomplished something appliance-related, though! I have a fear - probably healthy but still - of dealing with electricity. I'll mess with the washer hoses or with plumbing any day (well, any day that I HAVE to), but damn if I didn't put off that job as long as humanly possible.

Lessons? I apparently can do pretty well without a dryer for a fairly extended amount of time. I suspect it wouldn't have been a problem at all if it weren't for the humidity of PNW winters.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Last Night

I went to my first birth as a student midwife! Whoohooooo! Beautiful water birth of a beautiful boy. Ah, the wonderfulness.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Boyness is SIX!

Happy Birthday Boyness! Here is the story I wrote right after his birth, and rereading it I'm wondering about potential inaccuracies...but I'll leave it as it is.

Deciding what we were going to do for his birthday was a bit of a fiasco. For a month, Boyness has proclaimed a desire to go to Red Robin for his birthday - which would be an our-family-only party. As we were finalizing that plan a couple of days ago, he changed his mind. Friends at the Science Center!! Drat, too expensive. Friends at the Zoo! Drat, snow/heavy rain forecast. In the end, all Boyness wanted for his birthday was fries and bacon. So out came the fryer, and Boyness had himself some fries and bacon. And was a very happy Boyness.

And now he's six. The first of my kids to kick over to the next year. Toddlerness will follow soon, and then Girliness, and then I'll have 3, 6, and 8 year olds on my hands, which somehow sounds very different indeed from the 2, 5, 7 year I am just finishing surviving.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Filling In the Blanks

Because I've left a lot of people who have participated in my life lately out of my blog.

We made the rounds for Thanksgiving, big-time. Which makes sense for us, because that is what we are most thankful for - these connections we have to our families and friends. So on Thanksgiving we went to MILs for the standard spread:

On Friday we grazed leftovers at ~L~s while the kids ran in and out of the house in full-play mode:

On Saturday we hung at the D (itandme) and had yet another re-Thanksgiving! The boys treated us to crazy stories, too!

We stayed the night, went to ~L~s, watched her kids for a couple of hours, goofed off with her for a couple hours, slept over, and flipped on into onsite week.

I have some pretty decent pictures of our placenta lab, but not everyone wants to see that (classmates of mine, I'll email them out).

I ate too much sugar and broke out big-time. I cried more often than is customary for me, but had a pretty low-stress week after all. On Friday I came home and for the first time, did not feel the need to go into a post-onsite catatonia. I cleaned up the kitchen and desk (!) and we ran off to IKEA, which was the kids' choice of activity.

We begun our day outside yesterday (after a hearty breakfast), wrestling the lights into place and making the kids pick up random trash they'd left around the yard. Just as I was completing the light-hanging, it began to snow. What timing! We didn't get any really great pictures, but here are a couple anyway:

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Odd Childhood-ism

When I was in elementary school, a teacher summed up communism: "you are told what you will do when you grow up. You have less choice what you can buy - everyone may have to buy the same blender."

So to me, communism = everyone has the same blender.

Of course I've learned a ton since then. But it is just one of those things that comes up to remind me that we have to be careful about how we describe things to children. They might stick.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Placement (Probably) Accomplished, Moving (Probably) Planned

So yeah, barring major weirdness I'll be starting at a very busy practice in the first week of December. A VERY BUSY practice. Yiiiiiikes!! But this MW was telling me about how I do get to tell her when I want to be on-call and not. YAY for MWs that have their own backup plans!

And I submitted the rental applications for a place in Kirkland. Three bedrooms, here we come. Again, barring any major weirdness.

How strange to have those two things fall into my life at the same time, relatively out of the blue! As needed and looked-for as both events are, neither came through my direct efforts or in quite the way I was expecting. The Universe works, yet again...or so I hope. We haven't signed papers yet. So I may be bestowing a royal jinx upon myself. I shall knock on several large pieces of wood in penance.

Next challenge? WHO THE HELL IS GOING TO WATCH MY KIDS WHEN I GET CALLED TO A BIRTH once I've moved?! Holy nerve-wracking! Oh all ye Kirkland/Bellevue homeschoolers/unschoolers/homeschool or unschool friendlies....I'll trade you babysitting hours. Seriously. You'd only have to cover my ass in the daytime, no middle of the night babysitter calls...Fran's got that.

Non-Insomniac Insights

I swear, I have all these great ideas just as I'm about to fall asleep. Of course they deserve full attention and full treatment, but I just can't muster that lately. As I lay in bed, prisoned by sleeping Toddler and my own strange desire to actually get a little sleep, these thoughts are quite lucid and eloquent. As I sit at the computer in the middle of the night after finishing loads of reading and a little bit of writing, my brain has been pounded to the consistency of spicy mustard and these thoughts really aren't so lucid and eloquent anymore.

Still, they're not getting out otherwise, so here are a few that I can remember at the moment:

I just gotta love this whole "cesarean by choice" issue. Oh, gotta love it. A woman has a right (a right, I tell you!) to get a cesarean on request despite the fact that it is riskier than vaginal birth in low risk (and in many "risky") pregnancies. But she doesn't have the right to chose a vaginal birth? I've used up my thoughtful writing allotment for the month (how I'm going to get through onsite, I don't know), so instead of giving these points full treatment, I'm going to go ahead and just run the list:
  • Doctors say they are after patient rights - what they're really after is their own right to make a living. If they were really after patient rights, they would be all over letting women chose VBAC after a risk/benefit discussion, just as they're all over letting women chose csection after a risk/benefit discussion. The fact that they're promoting the option that is more profitable, easier to schedule, less time consuming, more predictable, less likely to result in lawsuit, and *cannot be performed by alternative practitioners* is highly telling. When are women going to wake up and see this for what it is?
  • Csection carries similar risk to vaginal birth for the fetus (various studies have shown slighly elevated risk to the same risk for csections performed without 'firm' indicators). Csection carries elevated risk for the mother and more trauma than vaginal birth (almost regardless of how traumatic the vaginal birth was! Csection is major surgery, remember, and even a very generous episiotomy...well...doesn't expose the abdominal organs). This proves *getting to the point here* that we STILL VALUE THE FETUS OVER THE WOMAN. If a woman balks at the stats that say she's more likely to DIE, that she will certainly experience morbidity, that her recovery will be difficult...she is told that it doesn't matter. Her baby will be fine. WOMEN HAVE THE RIGHT TO CARE ABOUT THEMSELVES, about their own health, their own well-being, and their own recoveries. They have a right to care about these things, to ask about these things, to demand these things, without being treated like selfish know-nothing amoral pains in the ass.
  • We can cut into the abdominal wall, severing abdominal muscles. But heaven forbid that the vagina and pelvic floor get a little wonky for a couple of weeks. Shows where our priorities are, eh? Are women good for nothing else?
  • When is the last time you heard of a woman getting a legal order compelling a doctor/hospital to allow her a vaginal birth? Never, right? But there has been such a thing as legally compelled cesarean section. And there is, and continues to be, such a thing as doctor-coerced (institution-coerced, insurance-coerced) cesarean. Why does the opinion of a doctor, a hospital, or (worst of all) an insurance company trump that of the woman whose body (and perhaps very life) is on the line? Why can't a woman DEMAND vaginal birth from the very providers that allow her to demand cesarean? The answer, I am afraid, is that women simply don't mean very much. In the scuffle to achieve an ethical solution, we've placed the fetus above the woman. Her elevated risk doesn't matter. The fact that the fetus is likely to be as safe or safer (this is debatable but most doctors believe it) - that is what is important.

Reading into some of the issues surrounding legally compelled medical procedures (I'm so distractable, that wasn't what I was looking for in those journals...) I've come several times across the rather inflammatory notion - and one I happen to at least partly agree with - that it is our own damn fault that we're in this frigging mess. If women would disagree with their providers more frequently and more vehemently, maybe their providers wouldn't feel like they had this moral imperative to decide things for women. Maybe they wouldn't be so confused by dissent. Maybe they would realize we have brains after all.

The pregnancy websites and magazines are still littered with listen-to-your-doctor advice. As if most women needed any MORE prodding to be compliant! We've got this "thing," we women do - whether it is natured or nurtured into us is largely irrelevant for this specific discussion - we want people to be happy with us (to be happy at all, really), and we do a lot to make it so. It is difficult for women to stand up to their doctors and their nurses. Why? Intimidation, conditioning, desire to make things quicker and easier, sincere belief that the doctors and nurses are acting in their best interests.

I've officially run out of coherent thoughts for the night. 'Till next time...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lake in the Fall

These don't require a whole lot of explanation:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Random Parenting Rules

Parenting Math:

3 children x 3 harmonicas = ∞ potential to induce parental insanity

1(2 year old) + 1(5 year old) = 7 broken glasses in one month

1c milk + 1(5 year old) = 5 weeks of stinky carpet

300 pages midwifery care reading + 1(2 year old) = (1 very messy floor + 1 very mad mama + 2 hours refiling)x6 hours headache

5 minutes to complete an exam x 1(2 year old) = 2 vomiting episodes = 5 loads of laundry

2 completed vomiting episodes + 1 insanely stressed-out mommy + 1 week until the exam is graded = oh fuck, I can't add 2 + 1 + 1 anymore

1 broken dryer x 5 loads of laundry = 5 days of drying clothing/sheets in front of the woodstove

500sqft house x 5 days of stuff in the sole walkway into the kitchen = 2 insane parents

(2 parents / 3 kids)*(24 hours in a day) = accumulating mess and unfinished tasks, apparently increasing on a parabolic curve which plateaus at the shove-stuff-aside-to-walk-through-the-living-room point

Laws of Reduced Sleep:

The amount of time you need to complete an exam or assignment is directly proportional to the amount of time it will take your toddler to go to sleep.

The amount of time you need to complete an exam or assignment is directly proportional to the number of times your toddler will wake in the night.

Distilled to its purest form, the law of student-parent sleep is:

sleep lost = (time required)^2

Add some, would you?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Smoking Ruins Your Boobs

So, it isn't breastfeeding. THAT we've known ever since some bright soul decided to line up twins - one who had breastfed and one who hadn't - and found that they more often than not had the same saggy breasts. But you want a real reason to tell your teen girl not to smoke? Try this:

Breastfeeding Study Dispels Sagging Myth

ScienceDaily (Nov. 5, 2007) — Nursing mothers needn't worry. A new study shows that breastfeeding does not increase breast sagging. University of Kentucky plastic surgeon Dr. Brian Rinker and his colleagues conducted the study with patients at UK HealthCare Cosmetic Surgery Associates. The study found that breastfeeding does not adversely affect breast shape.

"A lot of times, if a woman comes in for a breast lift or a breast augmentation, she'll say 'I want to fix what breastfeeding did to my breasts'," Rinker said. As a result, Rinker decided to find out if breast sagging was a direct result of breastfeeding.

Rinker and his colleagues interviewed 132 women who had come to UK for a breast lift or augmentation between 1998 and 2006. The women were, on average, 39 years old; 93 percent had had at least one pregnancy, and most of the mothers--58 percent-- had breastfed at least one child. Additionally, the research team evaluated the patients' medical history, body mass index, pre-pregnancy bra cup size, and smoking status.

The results showed no difference in the degree of breast ptosis (TOE-sis)-- the medical term for sagging of the breast--for those women who breastfed and those who didn't. However, researchers found that several other factors did affect breast sagging, including age, the number of pregnancies, and whether the patient smoked.

"Smoking breaks down a protein in the skin called elastin, which gives youthful skin its elastic appearance and supports the breast... so it would make sense that it would have an adverse effect on the breasts," Rinker concluded.

Rinker presented the findings of the study this week at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons conference in Baltimore.

Adapted from materials provided by University of Kentucky.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pumpkin Procrastination

In best post-onsite form, I have procrastinated anything and everything having to do with school this weekend.

On the plus side, I've processed pumpkins all weekend and now have approximately 2 gallons of pumpkin butter, 20lbs of pumpkin puree, two pumpkin pies, and three loaves of pumpkin bread. I'd love to link you recipes, but in typical Niki fashion I read a bunch of recipes and just kind of threw shit together, and it worked. Oh, it totally worked. On the downside, I have no idea how to replicate it. Which tends to result in me, a year later, wondering why the hell my baking is coming out shitty and lamenting the fact that I didn't measure or write anything down. So here they are, the recipes as best as I can replicate them:

Pumpkin Puree

Wash pumpkin well. Cut in half-ish. Scoop seeds and strings out. Cut into chunks, roughtly 3x3inches. Place rind-up on baking sheets or dishes, pour a small amount of water into the dish. Bake at 350 degrees f until soft, approximately 45 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool. Remove rinds, blend the remaining pumpkin to desired smoothness.

Pumpkin Bread

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup multigrain/flax hot cereal mix
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup canola oil
3 eggs
just under 2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 cup apple sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine dry ingredients (through nutmeg) in a large bowl and stir with a fork (or have your toddler use her hands); make a well in center of mixture. Combine canola oil, eggs, carrots, apple (if using) and pumpkin in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

3. Spoon batter into 2 (9 x 5-inch) lightly greased loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool loaves in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool loaves completely.

Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Filling

• 1 package (8 ounce) cream cheese, at room temperature
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• 1 large egg
• 1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
• 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 2 large eggs
• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly grease one 11x5x3-inch loaf pan. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, 1 egg, and the orange peel; beat until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Into another bowl, sift 1 2/3 cup flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; set aside. Put pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, 2 eggs and 1 1/2 cup sugar in a large mixing bowl; beat well. Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture just until combined.

Pour half of the pumpkin bread batter into the loaf pan. Spoon cream cheese mixture on top of pumpkin batter layer and then pour on the remaining pumpkin batter.

Bake in preheated 325° oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes; remove to a rack to cool completely.

Pumpkin Pie

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
approx. 2c pumpkin puree
1 can (12-13oz) coconut milk
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in a container. Blend eggs, pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture together. Pour in coconut milk and blend until smooth.

POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours.

Pumpkin Butter

This one is going to be the hardest to translate into concrete terms. OK, I really can't. Best guess:

In a big 'ole pot, combine a large amount of pumpkin puree with about 1/4 that amount of apple sauce. Add a tablespoon-ish amount of cinnamon and ginger, about a half a tablespoon nutmeg and clove. Throw in a bunch of sugar. A lot-ish, but not as much as the apple sauce. Bring to a "simmer" and keep it that way until the consistency seems right. I think it was about an hour. Holy imprecise! It worked though.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Visit Here

Spread it around. I am loving the due date range calculator :). This needs funding and development...the intent is a positive antidote to the obstetrics-centered industry of pregnancy websites. Start by spreading it around a little!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pumpkin Farm Fun

We arrived just in time to see the farm owner instructing a crew of volunteers in arming a 3000lb counterweight trebuchet!Before he set it off, he had the kids gather around and delivered a short history and physics lesson. Then...

And off the kids ran to grab bits of shattered pumpkin... feed to the pigs!

We wandered through a greenhouse full of declining tomatos:

And found a hay bale maze in the barn attic:

We took ride out to the pumpkin patch:

And got some choice seats for the ride back!

Before we left, we grabbed some crackers with pumpkin butter, took a ride:

Ran out of camera batteries (d'oh!), and took a stroll through the apple trees.

What a day!