Monday, 30 June 2008

Good Grief Charlie Brown

My husband HATES dessert. He hates quite a few things that are sweet, the only exceptions I can think of are Cherry Coke and the weird Kool-Aid mixture he used to drink in high school that is 3 cups of sugar, 2 packets of Kool-Aid, 1 pitcher of water. Um, ew.

So I was surprised when we went out to lunch and he ordered a 7 layer bar from our local deli. (Every year we eat there on something he has dubbed "Customer Service Day" because one time four years ago he ate there and had already ordered when to his chagrin he discovered they don't take credit/debit cards, only cash, and they GAVE him the food with nothing more than a promise that he'd come back and pay. He did (well, I did since he was at work).

Anyway- I was thumbing through my Baking Illustrated and found a recipe for 7 layer bars and made them on Sunday afternoon. Seriously delicious stuff. I was suspicious at first at how simple the recipe is. Add stuff willy nilly to jelly roll pan and bake for 30 minutes.

My reaction:
"Hey this is really good!"
Dearest: "Oh, yeah it is!"
Me: "And I made it!"
Dearest: "Um........Ok, follow that to its logical conclusion...."

Dramatic pause.

Me: "Ok, so later tonight we'll all suffer terribly with food poisoning and die?"
Dearest: "Yup."

Hmph. The thing is, he has every right to say that. He's the one who was hospitalized with food poisoning about 10 years ago.

When we were married a sagely neighbor gifted me this:

and this:On the one year anniversary of Dearest proposing to me I tried to bake a chicken from a recipe in the book. Ended up using part two of the gift as a topping. The next week, I tried to make up for it and made a lovely no-bake dinner: fresh salad greens from our garden. About six hours later we were at the local emergency room, Dearest being intravenously re-hydrated and the nursing staff glaring sideways at me as I apologized for the cause of the food poisoning. Salad? Really? I gave up on trying to be a super wife, cooking just wasn't my thing.

Ok, I don't really give up easily on anything, but my major attempts through the years have been inedible or caused stomach illness. It doesn't even have to be me cooking, but recipes I've shared have carried the curse (sorry about the Turkey Tetrazini WhimsiGal!).

Lately, though, and with the help of Christopher Kimball and staff, I have muddled my way out of the muck that is my cooking. I know that substituting Olive Oil for Crisco is not so good, I know that adding cinnamon and apples to EVERYTHING may not be to everyone's tastes, and I know that baking is chemistry and throwing in more of an ingredient I like can (and has) cause a chemical reaction that leads to the fire department knowing that I ruined dinner before I do.

But....24 hours later no one is sick from my dessert bar, just yet.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Friday Part Three: Chicken Little

"I love you this big!" She declares herself a chicken and sets off to do chicken-y things. Yes, her pants ARE already wet from being thigh high in a 6 inch farm puddle (see previous post)......

Is she a chicken or a pig? To be fair the only sort of clean part of her is the only place she got sunburned. This is a totally different puddle, by the way. Look closely and see her boots are off her feet AND packed with mud.

This is inside the chicken pen. I love that this family let her play and explore the hen house and chicken yard. She collected eggs too. We brought four home and she hugged them in the carton all the way home (yes, one broke!). It was her treasure for sure. We've been to many farms the last year and the coups have all been off limits for various reasons. When I was a kid, we had free access to them and did just fine. Lil'Bug and her friend played for hours with the chickens and ducks. She even ate some cracked corn. Not yummy. I had to bathe her twice. The second time was a second round of muck after the first bath.

Where did her boots end up? As a monument to childhood mucky fun! :)

As we got ready to leave, A. noticed I had a VERY flat tire. She tried to air it up, but it wouldn't hold the air. I'm still on lifting restriction from surgery, so she changed my tire for me. Seriously. She is a super hero. I'm not sure I could do it myself anyway. It's been 15 years since I last changed a tire and it was on my 1971 VW super beetle (the one with a duct taped axle...).

I ate hummus. You know, I had never eaten hummus before because in my mind I had confused hummus with haggis and could never figure out why such a thing was so popular at all the mom groups. Last year I discovered the error and since had not had a chance to taste it. It is sooo delicious! That particular error is so typical of me. Gah.

Friday Part Two: Sugar Creek Farm

Lil'Bug pausing for a brief moment to gaze over the field and pastures. Me too. It sets my heart afire again to pursue the farm dream.

I love, love, love this farm. It is a CSA, but since we grow our own, we don't have a share. Perhaps we should, to supplement in the things we cannot grow ourselves. Something to think about for next year. We were invited out to help make mulberry jam, but we got there after the jam making was over. No time was wasted by Lil'Bug though. She had a tea party, played with a kitten, and headed outside to meet the chickens and horse.

This is Sunny. A very cal and gentle horse. When we were little Aunt Bee was bit by a horse, so I was nervous about the apple feeding. Unnecessarily. It was awesome.

He he, horse apples. Sorry. Had to say it. They are! FOR the horse of course!

This is the "farm pond" that Lil'Bug found. This girl can find a puddle in a desert. However, with the heavy rains, there are spots like this everywhere we go, thus the muck boots. What comes next?

Friday P-ART One

Lil'Bug has learned how to open the paint bottles. When (if) this dries next month we will put a wire through it and make a mobile. Hey, at least it's not on the floor!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Caterpilar Buddy

This is Lil'Bug's cabbage worm. She's holding it hostage. Normally I'd have a big problem with this, but cabbage worms are a pest and we usually kill them.

She has managed to feed it, water it, and keep its home clean. Now it is a cocoon. Soon it will be a pretty white cabbage moth.

Ah, the first taste of sunshine. Our raspberries are ripening! PS, I LOVE my camera. I love that I can take food pictures like this by simply pointing and clicking.

Oh, and pictures like this. See her eye? Not my imagination. It started as a huge welt, but light pink. Not tender. She never even noticed it and has NO idea where it came from. As it ripened, it turned lots of berry purple shades of horror, then it has been determined that it is a spider bite. Eh. I guess that is a natural consequence of playing with bugs. No harm done.

Blueberry has been sleeping, eating, and pooping. She weighs over 9 lbs now. Also, her hair is in a natural spiked mohawk thing. It is hilarious. Pictures to come.

That's been our week. That and more rain. MORE RAIN. Gah.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Flushed Away

No, not a movie review. :)

My toilet (our only toilet), after years (yes, years) of being in various stages of usable disrepair is finally fixed.

Things that were wrong with it:
Lid to tank broken in three pieces (my fault, I dropped it, or something)
Floor bolts missing or not covered
Wooden seat splintered
and....drumroll.....the darn thing wouldn't stop flushing/running with out reaching hand into tank and fiddling with stuff. Yes, way beyond jiggling the handle. Reason why lid was on the floor behind the sink. Reason why I opted not to have unschooler craft day at my house post February- My heavily pregnant self did not want to run up and down the stairs after every single kid used the toilet, just to fix the flush. Gah.

Oh, and Method brand organic super safe lactic acid based toilet cleaner does not work very well. Let's just leave it at that.

What led up to fixing:

A couple days ago Lil'Bug woke up and declared her intentions not to use the toilet anymore. Why? Not a new baby regression thing, no. Simply because she was sick and tired of using a "broken" toilet. She was not going to pee or poop until Daddy got her a new one.

Um. Yeah. Crap.

I emailed Dearest.

Daddy came home from work with an armload of supplies and fixed the toilet. When I asked him, why, if he was able to fix the darn thing, it had gone for so many years broken.

"I wasn't in the mood."


Also, he says that Lil'Bug's list was the most detailed inventory of the brokenness of said toilet whereas I just nagged at him to fix the vague things wrong with the toilet. That's fair. It is also fair to say that I wasn't in the mood to fix it either. I know how, I have the tools. I just didn't want to do it either and that takes a bit of steam from my nagging him to do it.

You have to have a sense of humor to restore and live in an old house like ours. Without such, one might go mad- though you have to be a bit loopy to do what we've been doing anyway so no one will notice. If anyone is interested, I could post story bits about our ten year battle with the haunted mansion.....

I attacked the toilet with CLR this morning, and while the toilet is not quite sparking yet, it will be very soon.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Super Hero Mama

We just rescued a baby robin.

Lil'Bug started yelling that she caught a bird with her swing.


Indeed she had. It was twisted up in twine and the chain of her swing. It was an immature robin. I untied it but ultimately had to just cut the twine. I couldn't get it off the bird's leg myself (if Dearest had been here one of us could have hold the bird while the other untied) but I got it mostly off. The bird then flew up to the hackberry tree. Seems ok. Lil'Bug says I am her super hero bird saving mama. :)

That's our adventure for the morning. I considered getting my camera out, but the split second I considered it, I also considered the bird's suffering. Three minutes would be an eternity to the poor thing.

Lil'Bug also says that a "tomato" is going to take our house tonight so we better pack up the dishes and extra clothes. Upon which she emptied her drawers and closet into various bags in her room.

We also took Blueberry for a weigh in. It was supposed to be her well baby check but the Doc is in Cedar Rapids doing disaster relief work, so it was just a weigh in. She is now 8 lbs 13 oz! She was 8 lbs 1 oz last week. :) She is thriving.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Some Pictures

This is a "cuddle nest" for those of you wondering how we could safely co-sleep while I was on pain killers. It fits nicely between us in our bed. It was actually recommended to us while I recovered from the C/S with Lil'Bug; Dearest had to go out of town when she was two weeks old and I was still not very mobile. This solved the problem of midnight feedings and diaper changes.

Lil'Bug feels much better with pigtails, she tells me.

Proof that Blueberry is in fact awake sometimes! Every single outing we have gone on she has slept through entirely. :)

Clean baby! Clean big sister. It is Lil'Bug's job to fill the bath water in the baby tub, check the temperature, and empty it when we are done. She looks so grown up here!

And that's our week so far. I have more posts and less time. :)

Saturday, 14 June 2008


One unreported side effect from the flooding that is affecting us: mosquito populations. There are already a whole lot of them. Swarming. Eck.


I was playing a logic game this morning with Lil'Bug:

"You are beautiful and I like watching you play; butterflies are beautiful and I like watching butterflies, so you must be a butterfly!"

She looks at me puzzled. I continue, "You like playing in the flowers, so do butterflies, so you must be a butterfly! Right?"

She thinks on this, "No Mama, I have to wear day clothes, night clothes, and swimsuits. Butterflies are naked, so I am not a butterfly."

:) I almost fell over laughing.

Another Flood Update

We are still fine, still on the bluff side of the river, still on a hill. Even friends and family who live in town have been calling to see if we are ok because the school at the bottom of the hill on the levee side of the river is flooded. The levee failed.

So, worry not. As long as we still have water, we will be fine.

On a side note not related to flooding: AUNT BEE GOT ENGAGED! WHOO HOO! Congratulations little sister!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Update on Storms

Iowa is making lots of headlines, but we are still ok, dry, and safe. More tornadoes making their way towards us right now, river still rising, and we still live on a hill.

I'm not worried about our house flooding (if it does, Dearest says we'll have big apologies to make to Global Warming people.....), but rather the power going out, trees falling, or some such.

I'm also worried about friends who are out there in the storm, working to keep us all safe. Worried about friends whose children were at the boy scout camp that a tornado just hit. My prayers are with them tonight.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

What Did You Hit?

Lil'Bug was jumping on her bed. She jumped and flipped and head dived right through the air on to the hardwood floor. Thud. I saw the whole thing from the doorway. Dearest scooped her up and examined her.

"What Did You Hit?!?!" I asked.

"The floor!" she replied.

Yeah. The floor. Of course.

Also, she's fine.

Rain Rain Go Away

1) We are not flooded. The river level is rising. We live 2 blocks from the river on the bluff side. We are fine.
2) Our water supply is fine for now. Some places in Iowa are not so lucky, but Des Moines built a levee back when the floods of 1993 happened. Right now the river level is at 3 ft on the 14 ft levee.
3) Please don't worry about us. We are filling water containers with water just in case. We will be fine. We are a handle the crisis calmly when it happens type people.

That said, today we geared up for the first park day of the season at a local wading pool. Lil'Bug in swimsuit, baby in Moby, Mama with good book- only to sit there waiting for 30 minutes, call home and find out all city employees are reassigned to levee bagging including the teenage life guards for the pools. Try explaining that to a 3.5 year old.

Yeah. Daddy bought her a wading pool with a slide and she's been in it a good part of the day. The 80 degrees and sunny day. We also planted her garden bed again, read books, and ate Popsicles. Yum.

So that's it from here. Again, we are fine! :)

Friday, 6 June 2008

Friday Rain Check

It rained. Usually this is no big deal. Actually, it set up to make our first Friday field trip to the local marsh even marshier. Lil'Bug was very excited. As we loaded up into the truck to head out, Nana and Pawpaw called- their sump pump was malfunctioning and their finished basement was flooded. They needed Dearest to help.

Lil'Bug was fine with missing her field trip to help Nana and Pawpaw BUT the thing that devastated her was that she wasn't actually allowed to help because of the bacteria in the accumulating water. She has always been able to help Daddy at our house with just about everything from tile grouting to oven repair. She was pissed. She moped, she stomped, she pouted. She even put on her rain boots and stomped down to the basement anyway only to be escorted back upstairs and given a box of cookies to keep her occupied. Yes, a whole box. Not my idea, but I helped her eat them.

When all was as stabilized as possible, Dearest took me and Blueberry home and Lil'Bug to a different park for a nature explore. They revisited the poached deer carcass from last month to observe the changes. For almost four hours, they climbed rocks, overturned logs, examined bugs, and then came home exhausted.

I hate that she missed her field trip BUT it is very important to us that we demonstrate for our children the importance of helping family and friends even when it means you miss out on something fun now and then. Goodness knows that friends and family have done the same for us time and time again; for that we are forever thankful.

Baby Love

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Random Thoughts: Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Today that song, in 5 very different renditions, was playing on 5 different blogs I visited. It was strange. I used to sing that to myself as a child, mess up all the lemondrop words, and get yelled out for annoying the crap out of everyone.

Lemondrop words. That's how I saw the song, in sweet yellows and tangy crystallized notes. It was the first time I remember associating colours with music and words. This is how I write poetry, the words are painted together very carefully. Sometimes I do this with prose too, but not as often. With poetry, meter and rhyme mean less to me than colour spectrum.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Sweet Things She Does and Says

Yesterday Dearest broke (shattered) a glass mason jar in the kitchen. While he was trying to clean up the shards, Lil'Bug comes racing in barefooted. Sweetie there is glass, why do you keep insisting on coming in here. Her reply, "My tricycle is in here. I keep yearning for it."

Sunday morning she got up and out of bed, headed to the kitchen and back up again. She climbed into bed with me, bring three apples. "Breakfast picnic in bed, Mama," and then she explained to me that there was no other food we could eat because we'd been gone for four days, that we'd have to just eat apples forever.

She was right. No other food. She had ransacked every cabinet looking too.

In One Week

We were at the hospital four days. In that time my heiloom rose bloomed......

The iris burst open......

These iris were planted in the rotted middle of a maple tree stump. It just looks so magical, the picture does it no justice.

I predict the best raspberry crop ever. The berry buds are not much to look at, but the branches are laden with them.

Columbine is such a strange flower. It looks like an alien to me!

Learning the Hard Way

How is Lil'Bug doing? I started this post the weekend we went into labour, but most of it is still right on.

These last weeks have been hard on Lil'Bug. We are usually on the move, go go go. But my inability to drive made us house bound. When Lil'Bug would ask, "Can we go to x,y,z today?" I'd say, YES! But now I have to explain over and over that I can't drive right now and how about we wait until Dad gets home or offer various other activities around the house.

Several lovely friends had graciously come over to relieve out tedious days, however.....yes, there is a however, Lil'Bug is so wound up and grumpy that these play dates ended early and/or with injury. Some of these incidents are with good friends that she usually plays well with. I could not continue to ask these friends to come over and subject their children to her fits. You see, she has taken to biting again, something we haven't seen in about two years. She has taken a chomp at just about every family member and several of good friends. She even bit me at the hospital.

As I reflected on this, I understand it. Her whole life is changing. Much the way she changed our lives almost 4 years ago, her little sister has changed hers. She is nervous and scared and anxious. She doesn't want to make me unhappy or worried so she is taking it out on everything else. It is ironic, I observed the same behaviour in another family who was expecting and I never thought twice about it, except that my kid is so different from them. Well, maybe not so much.

What can I do about it, really? I continue to be patient and loving, but I am tired and scared and worried too. Half the time she is really trying hard to be mature and thoughtful and helpful, and then suddenly it is too much and she explodes. I feel that way too, but my explosion is in frantic laundry folding and tears instead of fists and fangs. What we used to do when things got rough was take a walk in a quiet park, but none are nearby and if she runs off I can't chase her and she knows it. She can't even sit on my lap because she slides off my knee. She has cried herself to sleep several nights in my arms.

The hospital stay was rough. The room made her nervous and she'd open the door and take off down the hall, she was so disruptive she couldn't be there as much as she or we would have liked. She cried a lot and said she missed me being home. The only thing that actually helped was me coming home.

She has asked to go back to being a family of just Mama, Daddy, and Lil'Bug and then in the next 10 minutes will gush about how much she loves and likes her little sister. I know how it is possible to feel both, I'm the oldest of my sibling group too. I've talked to her about that, how I felt when Aunt Bee was born, what I did, and how I acted. This seems to have given her permission to talk to me about how she feels. Sometimes it is painful to hear the things she says, but she trusts me enough to say these things and that is really important to validate.

She really is a good big sister, I know it has been rough on her. Things are getting better, for all of us.

Tuesday Update

Our doctors appointment is scheduled for Wednesday, in the meantime, our bathroom scale indicates Blueberry is pretty close to her birth weight (after pooping today). That's good. She is feeding almost every hour and awake for longer periods, more often. She poops about every 2 hours. All very good things. I've been emailing with a LLL leader and she gave me some great ideas, much reassurance, and data as to why we had a rough start. She's also an unschooler mom from park day too, so it was much easier asking for help.

Later today I will post an update on Lil'Bug, mucho garden pictures, and some more baby love. I have to get organized enough to get the camera and the computer in the same place. :)

Monday, 2 June 2008

Birth Story In Detail

Then things began to get complicated. Seriously, I was in labour for two weeks if not more. Something called predromal labour. Good times that. Two false alarms at the hospital, contractions 6 minutes apart at almost full strength for 14 days. The last 3 days things kicked up a notch. The pain was so bad I was throwing up and shaking so we went in to the hospital yet again on Tuesday.

We checked in and I was 1 centimeter, 50 percent effaced. I wanted to go home, since that is nothing. The doc came in to check 30 minutes later- 3 centimeters, 85% effaced. ???? Also, yay! 1 hour later I was 5 centimeters and 100%, and labouring in a birth suite. Sweet.

Then the pain jacked up another notch. My contractions were still 6 minutes apart and "abnormal", as in the peaked immediately and then took 90 second more to ease off (though to say they eased off is weird). In between, my whole body was wracked with pain and I started vomiting again. 5 hours progress, still at a 5.

My birth team, including my doula, discussed and suggested an epidural, so I could rest and maybe my body would relax enough to normalize the contractions. The baby was not descending and that was why my labour was stalled. Maybe if I would relax then we could get into other positions that would realign her head position to descend? So we tried. The epidural too three tries to get in right, but then it was such sweet relief.

4 hours after that, my water was broken. Thick green meconium was present, which means the baby was in distress and pooped. My dilation was 4.5 and effacement was 90%. Part of my cervix was swollen AND I started running a fever.

The doctor suggested pitocin to again try and speed up the labour since we were now at risk. I reacted poorly to pitocin last time AND it increases the risk of uterine rupture in VBACs.

He offered us two choices, wait and let time pass to see if we would progress (baby's heartrate was still good) OR have C-section. If the baby went into distress they would knock me out and do a CS anyway. It was nice to have a choice. It was good to be reassured that the baby was still doing well and that the choices were still all ours.

Still, I was educated. I knew that my fever and the very dark, muddy amniotic fluid was bad news. I am a mother above all and my baby needed me.

With the epidural in place already, I was ready for surgery. The thing is, the epidural only turns down the volume of the pain. I could still feel pain plus the narcotics added made me unable to move my arms or neck or face. I felt like I couldn't breathe. This was very unlike my first c-section where I could hold my husband's hand and look at my new baby. I couldn't open my eyes.

Good thing too. Holly couldn't breathe for 3.5 minutes after she was born. I can't imagine the possible outcomes if I had waited or delayed my decision. The NICU team was awesome.

My dear husband was traumatized.

I shook too hard in the hours after her birth to hold her or breastfeed her. I will grieve for that time lost, but that is all.

Every single one of my docs said that my attempt was heroic and really good. Through the whole thing they were supportive and respectful of my choices and needs.

Plus, even though the actual labour was gruelling and the surgery hellish (due to the type of anesthesia) , my recovery was been awesome. I am still taking it slow, but I am still present for my family.

Sunday, 1 June 2008


So far, feeding today has been excellent. Every two hours, about, AND a poop about that often of the right color. Whew. Still, I have a postpartum doula coming in the morning and the doctor visit early this week. I don't want to use the nipple covers for long and last time it was Lil'Bug's aggressive personality that got us over that bump.

Actually, so far, today has been better on many levels. We've settled back into being home.

New Parent Anxiety

New Parent Anxiety.

A problem condition fed by well meaning relatives, hospital staff, and parenting books. When applied in small doses, learning may occur. When triggered by a small piece of paper sent home from the hospital, it can lead to tears, feelings of inadequacy, and sleepless nights.

Case in point:
I knew we needed to work on breastfeeding skills. That is why I went and got the silicon nipple covers. I knew Blueberry wasn't feeding enough and was sleeping too much, at least more than Lil'Bug ever did. I was reassured that some newborns actually do sleep through the night and that most newborns sleep, eat, and poop all day and all night and sometimes all three at the same time.

When we started to unpack stuff from our hospital stay I found the breastfeeding/poop log. On the top was a guide to how much and what kind of poop we should see.

Yeah. No. She was still pooping like a day old newborn instead of a week old. ????? She was slightly jaundice when we checked out of the hospital, so not pooping is really bad news. She's peeing enough, so not dehydrated, but still. So then I felt all twisted inside, my heart hurt- I had let the poor feedings go on too long! I had relished the 6 hours of sleeping instead of questioning how hard it was to wake her up to eat. I am the worst mom in the whole world. My poor baby.

Really, I had already addressed the problem and her feeding is WAY better, even more than recommended (as in every 2 hours) and she is now pooping A LOT of the right color poop. But still, last night was really rough. Lots of tears. Dearest was great support, but I know he was/is feeling the anxiety too.

Tomorrow's well baby visit cannot come fast enough.