Sunday, March 29, 2015

Oh, You've Redecorated!

After some hard work and very long days we finished taking out the lawn from the backyard and replacing it with mulch, two new trees (orange and blood orange!) and several plants: 













We did it because it will look nicer once the rainy season ends and we our beautiful lush carpet of green turns into dry, cracked dirt. And because of the drought, our water district might even pay us! They are encouraging people take out their lawns in exchange for money. 

Grow, my baby blood orange tree, grow! grow up and help pollinate the older blood orange tree so I can harvest my own blood oranges!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"You could've made the same point without crushing the hopes of a young doctor who was actually excited to have this job."

I've been receiving WIC checks and attending WIC appointments for almost 7 months now. I am not a fan of the WIC program, and in my very opinionated way, have dreamed up all sorts of ways to make it more efficient, more streamlined, and better for everyone. But that is another subject entirely.

Part of the WIC program is education: They make you take little classes in order to keep getting your WIC checks. Last month at my WIC appointment I was told that I needed to attend the WIC breastfeeding class, which I met with incredulity, as I was told this while breastfeeding my 22 month old.

"I know how to breastfeed. I actually want to be a Lactation Consultant one day."

"Yeah, looks like you've got it down, but it is required."

"Well, ok, I do love my LLL meetings. I'm sure this will be just like them!"

"Next week then?"

"No. Next week is my actual LLL meeting. There is no way I am going to miss it. Do you have one in two weeks?"

"How about three?"

"Great!"

And so, today, I showed up at the WIC breastfeeding class required for all pregnant mothers. It started fifteen minutes late, because the teacher was late. She came in and tried to get the video to play, but it wouldn't, so after five more awkward minutes where no one said ANYTHING She finally stood up and said:

"Well! It will just be short and sweet today! Let's get started. What do you guys know about breastfeeding?"

-Dead silence-

"How many of you are expecting your first baby?"

-Everyone but me raises their hand-

She looks at me. I am actively breastfeeding Alexa at this point. My boob is out and everything. "Were you able to breastfeed?"

"Yes. She will be 2 next month and we are still breastfeeding."

"So what do you know about breastfeeding? "

"...A lot."

"Well, first off, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you breastfeed for a minimum of six months and a maximum of two years."

I shoot my hand into the air. "Um, actually the AAP recommends a minimum of one year, and the World Health Organization recommends a minimum of two years."

She is not pleased. "Well, we go by the AAP recommendations here and they say a minimum of six months."

Lady. Do not challenge me on a subject I am passionate about while I am pregnant. I am irrational, emotional, and right. You are dead wrong. There is no way the AAP recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of 6 months. NO WAY. Also, you are making up that they say maximum of two years. They do not say that. They do not put ANY cap on breastfeeding. You seriously just made that up. But I do not say that. I smile and nod pleasantly and she smiles back. She goes on to explain the size of a newborns stomach and how "some women choose to breastfeed exclusively, while others chooses to use both formula and breast milk, and just let WIC know, we were here to support your choices."  She then explains how you get more WIC checks if you exclusively breastfeed until 6 months and the class is over!

It took longer to drive to WIC than for the actual speaking part of that class.

I do not believe anything helpful was said in that class, except that WIC will give you more to breastfeed exclusively. Nothing was said that helped me. Nothing was said that would have helped me breastfeed my first, What was the point of that meeting? And just to clarify, that was NOTHING like a LLL meeting, which are all group discussions where we work together to solve everyone's breastfeeding problems using the experience of other moms. LLL meetings are fun. This meeting was awkward and a waste of time.

As soon as I got home I looked up the AAP recommendations:
In the policy statement, "Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk," published in the March 2012 issue of Pediatrics (published online Feb. 27), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby's life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby. - found here

 I was so right. Minimum of one year, minimum EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding for six months, and no cap.  You can't tell a room full of  soon to be moms that their goal should be to be done breastfeeding at six months! YOU CAN'T SAY THAT!!

So of course I called WIC and talked to the supervisor and then emailed her my results. The supervisor already knew the correct information, it really was that the teacher was making stuff up.

Now I really want to teach that class. I would do such a better job. I would say helpful things like newborns nurse ALL THE TIME. They nurse, then sleep for five minutes, then nurse again. They are nursing 24/7 for the first month. When your baby does that, do not be alarmed. Do not think your baby is not getting enough milk. Do not think there is something wrong. Do not think you are not producing enough milk, do not think that you have to breastfeed 24/7 for the next year. That is a normal newborn thing. The eat and sleep and poop. After a month they will calm down on the eating part.

I would say thing like: the more you educate yourself about breastfeeding before your baby is born, the more success you will have.  Read books.  Browse breastfeeding pins on Pinterest. Observe other women breastfeeding their babies. Go to LLL. Do SOMETHING to educate yourself.

I would then ask everyone to take a turn stating a concern that they have over breastfeeding, and we would address each one.

How do I volunteer to teach that class with no credentials?

Monday, March 02, 2015

We need to accept that the commandments of God aren’t just a long list of good ideas. They aren’t “life hacks” from an Internet blog or motivational quotes from a Pinterest board. They are divine counsel, based on eternal truths, given to bring “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”

This month was our ward's New Beginnings, which is an annual Young Women event where the current Young Women welcome all the incoming Young Women of the year and introduce them to the concept of Personal Progress and such. 

For our theme, the leader chose this "Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us. It is our fear, doubt, and sin that, like an umbrella, block these blessings from reaching us. His commandments are the loving instructions and the divine help for us to close the umbrella so we can receive the shower of heavenly blessings." -Elder Uchtdorf October 2014 

So, of course, raindrops, rainbows, and umbrellas. Every single one of these ideas came from Pintrest, except the black table clothes draped over the blackboards, which was my idea. Hooray for some original creativity! But really, I could not do Young Women without Pintrest. 

$1 plastic tablecloths, some simple print-outs and frames, black tablecloths, white paper cut in the shape of raindrops and some silver balloons. Cheap, easy, effective.  


The refreshments were displayed on 3 tables covered in $1 white plastic tablecloths and striped with rainbow crete paper.  We served sugar cookies in the shape of raindrops, cupcakes with candy rainbows on top, a fruit platter, fruit smoothies in every rainbow color...









and this amazing rainbow cake made by the Young Women leader



The night went well. The program was mostly done by the girls. I didn't speak, I just assigned all the girls either a value or a class (Beehive, Laurel, Mia Mai)  to talk on for two minutes each. All the girls were well prepared and did a great job. There is only one incoming Young Women this year, so I asked everyone giving a talk to buy a small gift for her that had some relation to their talk. The girls gave fingernail polish, candy, a sketchbook, dollar store toys... and we presented the incoming Young Woman with the welcome basket filled with all the presents representing the different values and classes of  Young Women. 

Now can I relax until the camp fundraiser in a few weeks. Sigh. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

You are not a puzzle-solver, you never have been. You're a drama queen. Now, there is a man in there about to die, "the game is on," SOLVE IT!

Last July Drek created a start-up company. Since August, that company has been working on an a 3D puzzle game  for both kids and adults. Everyone in the company has been putting in long, long hours to get this app together. The release date has been pushed back several times, but it's finally all come together;


PuzzleHouse: Mystery rising is now available for download in itunes. 

We had hoped that once the game was live in the Apple Store  Drek would be able to stop working 60+ hour weeks, but he's been busy getting the social media side done (Twitter,  Facebook,  Google+,  Website/blog ) and now the company is focusing on releasing the game for Android, so there hasn't been any slowing down.

But that's life. And the game is really fun to play, both for me and for Ash.


Monday, February 23, 2015

You Just Don't Get to Put Those Images in My Mind. That's an Assault on My Imagination.

Ash came running in from playing in the backyard with an announcement: 

"So many bees! more bees than you've ever seen in your life!" 

I came out and found this: 

A swarm! How exciting! Having previously been a beekeeper for a short period of time, I knew that capturing swarms were one way Beekeepers start a new bee colony. I went inside and read a chapter from "Beekeeping for Dummies" on how to capture a swarm.

The guy writing the book says he loves to capture swarms in front of a crowd, because everyone thinks he is so brave: no gloves, short sleeves... but he says a swarm is when bees are the most docile, so really there is nothing to worry about.

Well, we still worried. We set up an empty beehive and Drek suited up. I held Sera and the camera, taking care to stand back, just in case. Mary was also watching, as was Ash.

The problem was that the bees were not swarmed on a tree branch like in the book, they were swarmed on a garbage can full of heavy chicken feed. there was no way to gently carry the whole swarm over to their new hive all at once, so Drek took the lid over first. I followed him with the camera, but Mary stayed back by the trashcan. She says that once Drek moved away, a swarm of bees flew up out of the trash can, and just like in cartoons, charged straight at her. She was stung around 24 times.

Meanwhile, Drek was successfully relocating these bees:


After a few more trips back and forth, the whole swarm was moved into their new hive:

Ash, Alexa and I, despite our proximity and short sleeves, were never stung. One bee made it through Drek's armor and stung his arm once. All in all, we thought we were quite successful, until we talked to Mary. it raised the question: Wait, the author of the book does this in front of crowds?! Sounds like they are the brave ones!


Sadly, the bees did not like their home. They stayed for a few days, then decided to move on to greener pastures. Ah well. Good luck, giant bee swarm. I hope you find a home.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Storrmageddon Dark Lord of All

In answer to my last question; Why aren't there any good female family doctors in Sunland? I say: There are! They just all work in the ER!

I'll start at the beginning: I am pregnant! I've had horrible morning sickness with all my pregnancies, but morning sickness plus pneumonia is the most miserable I have ever been: Cough cough, throw up, repeat, repeat, ad nauseam.

A week after recovering from pneumonia I woke up with some mild cold symptoms: A stuffy nose, a sore throat, and the usual morning sickness where I throw up first thing in the morning and still feel nauseous. An hour later, I felt a headache coming on. A few minutes after my nausea worsened, and I ran to the bathroom and threw up again and again. Afterward, I felt better, which was shocking:  With my morning sickness I DO NOT feel better after throwing up, This must be something else. I was exposed to the flu a few days before, so I figured this was it.

I settled into bed and tried nibbling toast and sipping water, but I would throw everything up within ten minutes. Afterward, I felt better, until I tried to eat or drink again. It was as if the Flu had kicked my usual morning sickness out the door.  Apparently pneumonia and morning sickness can live in harmony, but Influenza and morning sickness do not get along.

Around six that night I had excruciating back pain. I have had a kidney infection, and that back pain was nothing compared to this. This was awful! This was constant! This was so bad, I started cramping. I knew the flu came with muscle aches, but this couldn't possibly be muscle aches, could it? This was torture! Something had to be really, really wrong, I just had no idea what it was.

I called a nurse helpline to see if I could find some answers to alleviate my fear. The nurse asked me if I didn't have her number, what would I have done?

"Uh, um, I guess called my midwife to ask if this could possibly be a miscarriage?"   I really called the nurse helpline because I didn't know what else to do, so her question threw me. After asking questions about symptoms, medical history blah blah blah, her answer was:

"It's unlikely that you have the flu without a fever, so I don't know what you have. I suggest calling your midwife."

Wow, thanks. How very helpful. I'm so glad you are paid to waste time and tell people to call someone else .

So I called my midwife, who I haven't technically hired yet. My first actual appointment, where I sign the contract and make the first payment, still hasn't happened, so here I am, calling someone I've met just once, and asking for help with no guarantee they will ever get paid.  But she was amazing. She assured me right away it didn't sound at all like a miscarriage. After talking for a while she offered this:

"Sometimes muscle aches with the flu really are that serious. Take two Tylenol, wait thirty minutes, and see if that helps. If it's just the flu, the pain should go away with just a simple dose of Tylenol."

"And of it doesn't?"

"Well, it is unusual to have the flu without a fever. and if you minus the cold symptoms, your symptoms match an ectopic pregnancy, And since you haven't had an ultrasound, we can't rule it out, in which case you'll need to go to the ER right away. So I want you to think it over, and decide if you want to try Tylenol first, or just go straight to the ER."

I talked to Drek, but we don't have any Tylenol in the house, and I didn't want to wait anyway. We put the kids to bed, left them with a babysitter, and arrived at the ER around nine at night.

Everyone working at that ER is awesome. The check-in nurse, the triage nurse, the assistants...awesome. I waited an hour and half for a room (less time than I was on hold trying to get an appointment with my doctor) but that whole time they were doing tests and such: Labs, a urine sample, a flu swab... then they gave me a magical pill that helps with nausea. I wasn't nauseous, having not attempted to eat or drink anything for several hours, but they gave it to me to keep me from throwing up whatever else they decided to give me. Then I was sent in for an ultrasound.

The ultrasound was both magical and excruciating. I was supposed to lie flat on my back, not moving, which made the pain so much worse than the already unbearable state of pain i was in when I could bend my legs and move. I sobbed through most of the ultrasound, trying hard not to move. But for Drek, this was the first time he saw one of his children in utero. I've only had one ultrasound before, with Alexa, and he wasn't there, so this was a first for him. He saw the little tiny baby, and the little tiny fists waving back and forth. It was magical.

After the ultrasound I was given a room. Right away a nurse came in and gave me two Tylenol ("because you are pregnant, we have to start with this, but if it doesn't touch the pain, I promise we will do some problem solving."). That nurse was amazing. I loved that nurse.

Thirty minutes later, the pain was gone. I was dozing peacefully on the exam bed while Drek tried to watch Netflix on his phone. The doctor came in with all the results from the tests:

"It's the Flu. You just don't have a fever. You also have a UTI, but the back pain really is just the flu. The ultrasound showed you have a perfectly healthy baby in your uterus, growing how and where it should be. If the Tylenol has stopped the pain, just keep taking Tylenol. You'll be fine and so will your baby."

She gave me a choice of either an IV, or drinking a bunch of water, since I was dehydrated. But here is why she was so amazing: She gave me the choice! She was so nice in explaining everything, was patient and through in answering all our questions and even congratulated us on the baby! She was amazing. I wish she was my doctor always.

A few days later, I was fully recovered. I knew the exact day the flu was gone, because my morning sickness moved back in. I may never eat food again.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Patients Sometimes Get Better. You Have No Idea Why, But Unless You Give a Reason They Won't Pay You.

I love the pediatrician I have found here in Sunland. He is close to our house, is very polite and knowledgeable, and I can get a hold of him during emergencies.

Drek has also found a good doctor, but I have yet to find one I like...or can even stand.

The first week in October I switched doctors and made an appointment with my new one. The soonest they could get me in was...January 15. Three months away.

On Christmas Day I came down with a fever. It stayed with me for the next 48 hours. I was coughing, I couldn't breathe, I was miserable. I looked up my symptoms on the internet and was fairly sure I had pneumonia. The internet also informed me that if I still had symptoms in a week, I needed to see a doctor.

So, one week later when I was still coughing non-stop and couldn't breathe, I called my doctor. After 20 minutes on hold I asked for a sick appointment. They didn't have any. They said to try again tomorrow morning, when they "hand out" sick appointments for the day.

So the next day, three seconds after they opened, I called again. After being on hold for 20 minutes I was informed they were out of sick appointments, and to try again on Monday.

So on Monday I called back, and history repeated itself. This time I was angry and told them I needed an appointment. They said I could come in as a walk-in, but there were only two doctors that day and they couldn't give me an estimated wait time.

I got in the car with Alexa and drove over to the office. I arrived 40 minutes after they opened. I knew right away which building was the doctor's office because, to my horror, there was a line stretching out the door, down the street, and around the corner. The people in line were lying on blankets, dressed in pajamas...it was like a scene out a Doctors without Borders commercial. I got in line, and waited 30 minutes before I could sign in. Once I did, I asked what the wait time was like. She answered there were seventeen walk-ins ahead of me. SEVENTEEN. With only two doctors, I knew  I would be there long after Ash needed to be picked up from school, long after Alexa needed a to go down for a nap, and far exceeding my lung capacity.

I asked if I could somehow schedule a sick appointment for later that week, and she said yes (you can't do it over the phone but you can do it in person) but I had to wait in another line. After waiting in that line for 10 minutes, I realized there was no one at the computer, making the appointments. So I left.

A week and a half later I went in for my previously scheduled appointment. The doctor was frazzled and hurried. When I explained my symptoms I could almost hear her saying "talk faster." She listened to my lungs, informed me I had viral pneumonia, was almost recovered, and therefore she wouldn't give me anything. She then left before I could ask any more questions.

The whole appointment, waiting room and all,  took less than 45 minutes. I was on hold for longer than that. Why aren't there any good female family doctors in Sunland?