Saturday, November 07, 2015

Some women are dripping with diamonds Some women are dripping with pearls. Lucky me! Lucky me! Look at what I'm dripping with Little girls

Over the summer I started a Girl Scout Troop with girls from Ash's grade. It's been a lot of fun, I get to be creative and spend more time with Ash. It's also had the unexpected benefit of discounts: I had no idea so many places offered discounts for Girl Scout Troops! 

One of those places is the major downtown theater here in Sunland. A touring company is performing Annie. Tickets start at thirty dollars a seat, but with Girls Scouts we could get tickets for fifteen dollars. I wasn't too excited about as that is still a huge amount of money, and the show didn't start until seven thirty, which is already passed Ash's bedtime, but the other moms and girls were thrilled so we made it our troop activity. 

Yesterday after getting ready I asked Drek if he thought my outfit was fancy enough for the theater. 
"It doesn't matter. You'll be wearing a baby. They can't kick you out."

"They can't?" 

"If they kicked out a mom with the nursing baby for any reason the headlines would be too ugly. You could be the worst behaved patron ever but as soon as they see you have a baby they can't do anything."  I smiled. It was true. I could always stage a nurse-in. 

Both Tabs and Ash fell asleep on the long drive down there, which was great because traffic was horrible and I really didn't need distractions. After spending way too long finding a parking lot that didn't cost an arm and a leg we finally parked and I woke up both girls. I strapped Tabs into my Tula, took Ash's hand and we walked the short distance to the theater and arrived just five minutes before showtime.  

Thrilled that we had made it safely I smiled as I hand my two tickets to the employee. He scanned both tickets then said "You have three tickets?" 

"No." I smiled. "Just two. Just us." 

The woman looked at both tickets. "There are three of you?" 

"Nope, just two." I smiled. 

She tried rewording. "Do you have a ticket for the baby." 

"No!" I laughed. Then I realized she was actually asking. I frowned. "She's only two months! Do I need a ticket?" 

The woman did not answer. Instead she told me to wait there. A few minutes later she came back with her manager. 

"There are three people and only two tickets?" He asked

"Well, it's just us. The baby doesn't need a seat. She's only two months. Do I really need a ticket for her?" At this point I was very nervous. The manager nodded and said he'd be right back. A few minutes later he came back with a somber expression on his face. The bell sounded for everyone to take their seats. 

"I'm afraid the rules state that every person must have a ticket, even if they do not require a seat." 

"Oh." I said dumbly. "There isn't an exception for nursing infants?" 

"You can purchase one right here at the box office." He offered. 

I glanced over at the box office and noted that the thirty dollar seats were all sold out. I wondered they would still let me pay the fifteen dollars. After all, she didn't need a seat! Then again, I was debating if I should just call it a night and drive home. Fifteen dollars for a baby was ridiculous. The bell sounded again. 

"So, I'm the troop leader of my daughter's Girl Scout Troop." I started to explain. "And the troop is here tonight for the show. Is there a way I could take her to her seat and then just wait in the lobby with the baby?" 

The manager frowned.

"She wouldn't be unsupervised. All the other girl scouts are here with their moms." 

"You're a girl scout leader?" He asked. 

"Yes, and we purchased the tickets as a troop activity. We are here for the performance and the special Q&A session with the cast afterward. I feel like I need to be there for that." 

He looked at me. He looked at Ash. He looked at Tabs, sleeping soundly in the Tula.  

He escorted us to our seats. The other girls and moms were already there. We sat down just as the lights dimmed.  Before he left, the manager warned me that if the baby made a sound, I was to take her out immediately. I nodded solemnly, thinking instead of sneaking in  I should have made a fuss and staged a nurse-in. 

The show was wonderful. Everything went well until just after the intermission, when Ash stood on her seat and her foot slipped down between the two cushions. He leg was stuck. She panicked. 

I handed Tabs to another mom and tried to calm Ash down while I yanked her leg out. I did free it, but there was a huge scrape along her ankle and she was crying. I picked her up and took her to the restroom, where I washed off her scrape and wiped away her tears. After a few minutes she calmed down and we went back in to watch the rest of the show. Tabs slept through the whole thing. 

No wonder our seats were so discounted;  They ate little girls!  

Sunday, October 18, 2015

It is The Most Amazing Thing You Will Ever Own

Tabs was born on the 30th of August after 6 minutes of pushing. I was vacuuming up until 30 minutes before she was born. It's a great story, but not one I will tell here.

Instead, I will tell a story with a little more weight:

I was fat in high school. I had no idea how to eat healthy, be healthy or to get healthy. I was getting up into the "obese" numbers by the time I was...14? 15? At any rate, I had hated the way I looked since I hit puberty. I felt a passionate loathing of myself in all reflections and photos, so much so that I developed a fear of getting my picture taken, lest I should end up having to look at it.  I had a long list of things I would change about my body once I could afford surgery.

At the age of 15 I started going on fad diets. I tried to exercise and I used both of these as a way to punish myself for looking the way I did. I desperately wanted to be anorexic but never was and was envious of girls so thin they died. Let me repeat that last part: I was envious of girls who starved themselves to death.

I don't think I was atypical. I could be wrong, but I think my reactions are fairly common among American girls. Our culture a toxic environment for girls. Getting sick is a normal reaction to being fed poison.

At age 17 I decided to go on another extreme diet: Vegetarianism. As I had just spent several months on the Atkins diet, it seemed very radical. I declared myself a vegetarian and started doing internet research to discover what being a vegetarian was all about. Of course, once I researched slaughterhouses my extreme diet turned into a moral diet, and after a while it became my normal.  I've never regretted the choice to become vegetarian. It's a choice I applaud my younger self for making. It's a choice I'm proud to make today. It turned out to be a choice that changed my life.

It changed my life because as it turns out, vegetarianism is not an extreme diet, but a healthy one. I lost 20 pounds in the first year without obsessing about it (I had bigger problems by then). One day I saw a photo of myself and realized I looked slim. I hadn't tortured myself into being slim; it just happened while I was paying attention to something else. Still, I couldn't actually LIKE the way I looked, that would be asking too much, so at the age of 19, even though I was in a healthy weight, I thought of myself as fat and ugly. I once again found myself on fad diets and wishing I could starve myself into something pretty.

But this time I had the advantage that my base diet was actually healthy: lots of salads and no meat. I also had the advantage that when people know you are vegetarian, they assume you are healthy and since people treated me that way I slowly began to learn more about what "healthy" actually is.  I read more, I learned more, I ate less high fructose corn syrup and drank more water.

Years later I was married and pregnant. The pregnancy became a huge problem as I realized that no matter what I did, no matter how I ate, no matter how much I exercised, I was going to gain weight. I hated my body during my pregnancy.  I felt betrayed by my body even though I had been abusing it for over a decade.

I decided to have a home-birth. I read and researched birth and home birth and came across some strange notions: A woman's body is capable. A women's body is strong. A women's body can do amazing things. I couldn't wrap my head around these ideas. Strong? Capable?  But isn't the only purpose of a women's body to be sexy?

I read more, I learned more, I grew more. The end of my pregnancy was marked by a beautiful birth that left me with something I had never before felt for my body: respect.

Four months later I was training for a half-marathon. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight by the time my baby was nine months old. Once again, I hadn't tortured myself into running that far or losing the weight. I had to work hard, but I had to be kind to my body in order to do it.

Due to health complication, in order to become pregnant with my second child I had to drastically change the way I ate. I had already stopped eating processed foods and made whole  vegetarian food from scratch as much as possible, but in order to become pregnant I needed to stop eating sugar and dairy and really focus on eating leafy green vegetables. I didn't treat this drastic change as a fad diet intended to torture myself into getting the results I demanded, instead I treated my body with kindness. To be kind to my body I fed it foods I knew would nourish it and I kept away from foods I knew would harm it. This change in attitude had a powerful effect on my self-confidence and on my perspective.

Still, I found myself falling back into self-loathing at my pregnant self  for gaining weight. It takes a lot of hard work and a long time to break old habits.

When my second daughter was born I spent one morning looking at her perfect, beautiful, tiny body and wondered if she if she would hate it one day. I gasped out loud. I had just spent nine months creating that beautiful body! I had spent eight hours pushing that beautiful body into the world! I had sacrificed so much, including MY body, to give her that body! She better be appreciative! She better be grateful! She better not, not for one second, EVER hate her body!

And yet, when my second daughter was nine months old I looked in a mirror with despair: I weighed just as much as I did on the day she was born. I was overweight and unable to exhibit self-control over my food or exercise routines. What was wrong with me? If I hated the way I looked,  I should be determined enough to change it. If I couldn't lose weight by being kind to myself then I should force myself into being thin! I just HAD to lose weight! And then I had a small epiphany: Why? Why did I have to lose weight? Did I owe it to society to conform to their idea of sexy? Was my only worth a number on a scale?

I wasn't getting up and running in the morning because I was exhausted: my nights were spent feeding, loving, and soothing a small human being that needed me every two hours. My days were spent caring for and nurturing an active, bright three-year old, and spending time with my wonderful eternal companion.  I volunteered in my community, I tried to magnify my church calling. I ran a household, I spent time with friends and family. I read and wrote, discovered and developed talents and passions and was still trying to recover from a life-threatening kidney infection. And yet, I hated myself because I wasn't sexy? Because lowering a number on a scale wasn't my highest priority?

So I gave myself  time. I took care of what was important, and my love-handles did not make that list.

This came about because I had recently realized that there were women all around me who hated their bodies with the same passion I had toward my body as a teenager. In my eyes these women were beautiful. They had strong, capable bodies and nothing to lose in terms of weight. Still, they hated themselves and I didn't understand why.

So I went and did some research. My incredible sister-in-law recommended a documentary, I read several blog posts, I watched a few short clips on You Tube and I viewed and contemplated this statement of art. I was stunned by the enormous, disgusting mess our society had created. I was angry that women were suffering, that young girls were hurting themselves, and that I had spent to much time in self-loathing, why? So some people could make money? We were suffering because of money?

I was so angry and disgusted and hurt. I couldn't quantify how big the problem was and I couldn't even begin in to figure out how to change it. This was the exact time I was called into Young Women and put in charge of an activity to help the girls who were dealing with feelings of hate towards their bodies.

In an effort to to put together that activity, I turned to the gospel for help and was amazed to discover that our prophets, apostles, and leaders were very aware of the problem and had the solution.

Eventually, when my kidney infection was gone, when my daughter slept through the night, and when I found the motivation through friendship instead of through the desire to be sexy, I was able to devote my some time into working out and eating better. This time I didn't judge my success by the falling numbers on the scale, but my energy levels, my ability to more push-up than I did the day before, and in respecting my body.

As of  November of last year, I was at a healthy 897* pounds. In January, I found myself 12 weeks pregnant, at a doctor's office, and being asked to step on the scale.

I hesitated. Seeing numbers on a scale really messes with my mind. Even though I understand I am a person, a human being with a meaningful life, somehow when I see the numbers, I feel as if they are telling me my value, not my relation to gravity, and no matter what they say, I always want them to be lower. ALWAYS.

I stepped on the scale backwards, so I couldn't see the numbers and explained to the nurse that I didn't want to know how much I weighed.

She acknowledged my request and pressed whatever buttons you have to press to get the machine to tell you the numbers.

"Ok." she said, "you can step off and put your shoes back on." She then took up my chart and as she was writing down the results, she announced "897."  I assume she has a disease where she has to say aloud everything she writes?

My mind raced. In a matter of seconds this is what I thought: 897? I'm twelve weeks pregnant and haven't gained a single pound? It must be because I'm eating so many vegetables! It must because I'm throwing up so much because of morning sickness. It must be because I'm staying so active. How can I make more of my food vegetables? How can I make myself throw up more and eat less? How can I be more active? How can I make it so that I stay at this weight and not gain anything this whole pregnancy?

Not one thought was "Is the baby gaining weight? Is the baby growing as it should? Am I giving my body what it needs to nurture this baby?"

I had to talk sense into myself then, and several times over the following weeks as I entered my second trimester and did start gaining weight. I had to ignore the numbers and instead tell myself the baby was growing and that my body was amazing, I had to tell myself that my worth was far deeper and more complex than a number could ever represent. I told myself that being sexy wasn't anything compared to the ability to grow a human inside myself.

That was the key for me; to be able to say that I was of infinite worth, and being sexy was negligible. That I was important, and more important things to do that worry about my looks.

On September 6, a week after I had pushed a new life into this world, After taking a shower I glimpsed the reflection of my naked body in the mirror. I stopped and turned to examine that reflection. I looked at it not with the eyes I had developed over the last several years: eyes that looked at a whole person, at a human being, and a force of life with dreams and fears and hopes and insecurities, but with more critical eyes; ones that look at a leg, and then at a hip, and then a bulge or a puff.

But instead of loathing what I saw, I was impressed. A week ago my stomach was stretched at least four feet, today it was sucked back into a surprisingly flat position. A week ago I had been stretched out to the point of breaking in half, today I was walking around, feeling fine. My hips were round, my thighs large, but they looked like the pictures painted by the masters, and I was happy with that.

"Looking good." I said to myself.

While being constantly bombarded with society's image of bodies, society's opinion on the value of women, and society's sickening perversion of sexuality, I find it so very difficult to keep a positive attitude about myself.  Having lived so long with thoughts of self-loathing and habits of criticizing my body  I find that the change to set positive habits is a daily struggle.

And yet, It's a much better life to live. When I love and accept myself as a beautiful human being with flaws and strengths and hopes and accomplishments, I can accept others as beautiful human beings with flaws and strengths and hopes and accomplishments, I can set a good example for my daughters, I can try and change the world so they will not have to go through what I did, what I see so many others struggling with.

The world would be so much better if every woman accepted herself and others. The world would be so much better if every time a teenager saw herself in the mirror she would smile, instead if scowl.

My world would be so much better if every time I saw my body I simply told myself "Looking good."

* Numbers have been changed to protect the readers and writer from comparisons

Monday, August 24, 2015

John Hamish Watson. Just... if you're... looking for baby names.

Drek and I are having trouble coming up with a name for the baby that is due tomorrow (but won't actually come tomorrow, I'm sure I'm looking at another week at least). I'm really particular about names. There is a long list of rules names must follow in order to be "good names." Some of the rules are obvious like "Cannot be made-up" and some are finicky like "cannot end with same sound as the ending sound of the last name." 

Drek and I both really like the name Tessa for a girl. However, "Tessa" is diminutive; It is a nickname and therefore, not a real name. Tessa is usually a nickname for Theresa which neither of us really love, so we thought of a few other names that could be shortened to Tessa. 

I love the name Tesla, nicknamed Tessa. Drek thinks Tesla Model-S-withrearseatsupgrade Lastname is too long to fit on a birth certificate or into a baby blessing. I think if we send a baby announcement to Elon Musk there is a chance he might give us a free Tesla Model S with rear seats upgrade and I think that's a chance we have take. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Air conditioning repair will be your life, a life of secrets you'll be unable to share with outsiders. you will be an air conditioning repairman...and nothing else, until the day you die

When our air conditioner gave out I mentally prepared myself to go the rest of the summer without it. Getting an air conditioner repair man to your house is never easy, but from my experience if you wait until a heat wave, the wait is around four weeks.

But, to my surprise, Drek did a little googling, watched a little Youtube, then went and found the problem. He ordered a replacement part off of Amazon for $25 and two days later when it arrived in the mail he took it out to our air conditioning unit. About fifteen minutes later he came back inside, switched  the thermostat to "cool" and amazingly, the air conditioning started right up. I had no idea I was married to such a handy man. It was very impressive.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I'll imaginary-sleep when I'm imaginary-dead

It is the middle of August. We are suffering from a heat wave and every day there is heat advisory. I'm nine months pregnant and yesterday our air conditioning broke.

I'm having contractions. They are painful and irritating, but also erratic. I had these same contractions about 3 weeks before Alexa was born. I'm assuming I can look forward to three more weeks of this stuff before the baby finally decides to make an appearance.

I caught a cold from my calling in Nursery. Then I caught a secondary infection and have a horrible hacking cough.

Basically, I'm hating everything right now.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Did You All Hit Your Heads on Each Other's Heads?

The last clue of my birthday treasure hunt lead to my birthday dinner at a park. The kids had a wonderful time playing and we had a wonderful time eating! At the very end Sera stood up and tried to walk on the bench of the picnic table. She fell backwards and hit her head on the cement. 

There was nothing to break her fall; she fell headfirst and it was a loud and hard hit. Her pupils weren't dilating like they should, so even though she didn't loose consciousness and wasn't throwing up I decided to take her to the E.R. 

Because of the treasure hunt date she hadn't taken her usual afternoon nap. Thus, after she had screamed for a few minutes, she fell asleep, which was alarming. Once I arrived at the E.R. I was dismayed to find it packed. Ash was out in the car with Drek so I had hoped it would be a quick process. 

The two women at the front desk were very kind. They were very concerned that I was holding a sleeping baby, instead of an awake baby. I told them I had another child in the car and they said they would get me back to triage as soon as they could. I got back in about 10 minutes, so it's wasn't bad. There was a doctor and a nurse in triage and both seemed very concerned about the fall, assuring me They needed to do an MRI and I could not just take her home. 

They ordered the MRI and while I waited Drek took Ash to Anna's house. While he was gone they called us back for the MRI. They got her tiny little body onto the huge machine, covered her in a heated blanket, and then said because I was pregnant I could absoluetly NOT be in the room while the machine was on. They shooed me out and I paced the hallway for the five minutes it took them to take the picture. 

An hour and and a half later Alexa had her MRI. Drek, Alexa and I were finally called back into a room. We were in there for about twenty minutes when a nurse came in to ask insurance questions. On her way out she asked if the doctor had told us the results. We explained we hadn't heard anything since the MRI. She causally announced the MRI showed no bleeding, Alexa was fine, and we could leave now.  It was a actually quite anti-climactic for being such a relief. 

Fast forward almost a month and a day later. Ash is sitting at the kitchen table with an unusual amount of energy. She moves from sitting on the seat of the chair to the arm of the chair, then loses her balances and smacks the side of her head on the tile floor. Once again there was nothing to break her fall; she fell headfirst and it was a loud and hard hit. She didn't lose consciousness, and her pupils dilated like normal, so I left with Sera to go to a previous engagement while Drek tried to calm Ash down by reading to her. She calmed down for a bit, then started crying again because her head hurt. Drek put her in the bath, which calmed her down for a while but then she again started crying because her head hurt. Drek was about to make her a snack when she threw up. 

So Drek called me and I rushed home with our family's only car. I gave Alexa to Drek and I took Ash to the E.R. On the way there she threw up.

This time the E.R. was empty. besides the two people checking in before us, there wasn't anyone at all in the waiting room. When it was out turn to check in I recognized one of the women at the front t desk from when I checked Alexa in, but luckily she didn't recognize me (or I'm afraid there would have been some awkward questions). 

Ash threw up for a third time while I was checking her in, which I assume would  make them put us at the front of the line, but since there was no line I'm not sure it made any difference. We went straight into the triage nurse, who called over a doctor. He didn't seem very worries, explaining that "Sometimes kids just throw up." He said he wanted to observe her, and we were taken back to a room where Ash happily lay on a bed and watched a movie on the tablet. After an hour another doctor came in and examined her, checking her head and her eyes. He was just getting ready to say something when she threw up again. Apparently throwing up three times could be normal, but four is crossing a line. He immediately ordered and MRI and less than ten minutes later I was once again pacing the hall outside the MRI room, because I am still pregnant. 

Fifteen minutes later the same doctor came in with the results: no bleeding. She had a concussion, but should make a full recovery.

I come away from both experienced feeling very grateful that my kids haven't been permanently damaged and that I have access to technology that can reassure me when they get hurt. I also feel like I should give both my kids sitting lessons. Seriously, how hard is it to sit at a table? 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

See, this is another sign of your tragic space dementia, all paranoid and crotchety.

Yesterday Anna spent several hours planning a date for me and Drek. When we showed up at her house, she took our kids, gave us a book, and sent us away. Inside the book was a piece of paper with lots of numbers. A treasure hunt! How exciting!

After spending several minutes trying to decode the numbers, Drek gave up and texted Anna, who sent him back the answer, which he announced without even telling me he had given up. I was still working on it! I would like to think I would have come up with the answer on my own (the code was so clever!) but sadly, that is probably not true. In any case, we figured out the next location and went off in search of another clue!

When we got there, I spotted the envelope duct taped to the clue right away. We opened it up and decoded clue number two all by ourselves, with no spoilers. This time we were to look under a bench in front of Cold Stone. Once again we were off!

At Cold Stone we looked all over, under, and around the bench. Finding nothing, we looked some more. My phone rang and even though I shouldn't have (Hello! I'm on a date with no kids! This never happens!) I answered it, thinking it might be a clue, because I am crazy. It was not a clue. It was someone with which I had the following conversation:

Them: "Happy birthday!"

Me: "Oh! Hi! Thanks!"

Them: "So, you're thirty years old now, huh?"

Me: "What? No, I'm twenty-nine today actually."

Them: "Right, ha ha, you were twenty-nine last year."

Me: "Uh, no I'm twenty-nine this year, Really."

Them: "Ha ha ha ha. You need another year to get it right, huh?"

Me: "No, I was born in '86. I'm really turning twenty-nine today."

Them:  "Uh, huh, yeah right. How long have you been twenty-nine?"

Me: "I may never speak to you again"

During that distracting conversation Drek had texted Anna, who informed him we were in the right place; the envelope with my name on it was supposed to be duct taped under the bench. Inside the sealed envelope, in addition to another clue, there was a Cold Stone gift card for free ice cream. They deduced it had been found and stolen. Anna gave him the next location and Drek lead me to the car. We reached it before I got off the phone. When I finally hung up he told me what had happened. I wanted to go back and search some more, or ask the clerk at Cold Stone if some kind soul had turned in the gift card, or some evil soul had used it, but we were already at the car, so away we went.

We found the next location and I quickly found the hidden envelope, only to discover it was empty. There was no clue. After looking all around and trying to decide if the envelope had invisible ink, we called Anna, who realized the person who stole the gift card probably followed the clue, hoping for more rewards. She gave us the last location, just a few blocks away. When we arrived, I saw the envelope, and once again it was empty. Someone had indeed stolen not only my gift card for Cold Stone ice cream, but my treasure hunt as well. They left behind the envelopes with my name written on them, but had taken the clues. What kind of person does that?

Disappointed, Drek and I headed back to get our kids, The treasure hunt had started out a lot of fun, but had quickly turned frustrating. I'm trying to focus on the fact that Anna really went out of her way to make the day special for us and not on the fact that there are people in this world who steal treasure hunts.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Let me tell you something about the human race. You put a mysterious blue box slap-bang in the middle of town, what do they do? Walk past it. Now stop your nagging. Let's go and explore.

On Wednesday our family went on a little adventure to explore some caves at a State Park. Our company included our family, including a five year old, almost two year old and a pregnant me, and another family, including a fiver year old, eight year old, and a ten year old.  It may seem like an April's fools joke that this is the group we took to go exploring caves, but, I assure you, we actually did, and it was awesome. 

We went on a hike through a slot canyon. besides having some stunning scenery, the temperature in the shade was perfect, and around every corner was a crevice to explore (it might be a cave!). We actually did find a few caves. They were small, buts till fun to explore! 

After making sure we hadn't lost anyone, we headed into the big cave. This cave was deep and dark, but not difficult. There were only a few times were you had to duck or turn your body to fit through a tight squeeze. Everyone made it to the end and climbed out, only to turn around and realize we had to climb back in: 

And this is where it got a bit more tricky. Now the kids were tired, and the way back in was steep. I tied my almost two year old to my front  in a Mei Tai, and the other adults carefully guided us back down into the cave. Once inside we made the trek back to the front of our cave and to our car. I am proud to say I carried two children the whole way! 

We should go caving more often. 

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?"


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 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?