Monday, December 8, 2008


Recently, Lizzie brought a piece of artwork home from school. Josh gasped at the sight of this:
He wanted to know What the Hell they were teaching those little kids at school?!? I patiently explained that the head of the paper bag puppet she had made had fallen off. After it was replaced, it looked like this:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Winter's Ghost Story

I got inspired by the weather out there today, and told this story to Lizzie. This story has a disclaimer-its written for a six year old, so how scary can it be? I'm no writer..... Usually my stories are horrible tripe, involving rainbow farting unicorns who befriend little girls and live in flower strewn meadows. They are reserved for long car rides and never written down. But last night a blizzard blew in, my friend spent the night without power.. and what can I say?


Once upon a time on in a land far away, a little family slept on a cold winter's eve. And, as they slept, The Spirit of Winter's Past looked down upon them. He hated the cozy warmth of their fires and the glow from their windows. And so, as the little family slept snug in their beds, the Spirit of Winter's Past stole down upon them.

He stretched out his hand and wrapped them in the depths of winter's cold. He flexed his fingers and made frost rime the window frames and steal across the glass. He laughed, and a nasty sound like the cracking of ice could have been heard. But the little family was not listening, and they slept on, oblivious, their breath now making white plumes in the air.

Finally the little girl woke, shivering... the tip of her nose red. Why was it so cold? In her warm flannel nightgown she tiptoed to her parents' room and tugged at the bedclothes. Her mother's sleepy voice greeted her, and she climbed into a warm toasty bed beside her little baby brother. But soon she was cold again, and her shivering woke her father. He blinked the sleep from his eyes, to find the power out, the house cold, and the kitties curled in little balls upon the bed.

Outside the wind howled and the cold beat down upon the little house. The Spirit of Winter's Past had blanketed the house in a terrible cold. There was no sound save that of the wind in the trees, and the snow skittering across the drifts. The light was gray, the sun seemed very far away. But Mother knew what to do, and she laughed as she dressed the children in their warmest woolens, speaking of days of old. For awhile, the blizzard seemed an adventure and they lit candles to play by.

The Spirit of Winter's Past sneered to himself, and tightened his grip on the little house. Time wore on and the cold increased. The light never grew, but stayed a forbidding gray. Outside, the trees popped and cracked, as ice crept into the wood. The little house seemed all alone, on a plain of snow and ice. The family felt very small. Doubt crept into the mother's voice and the children whimpered and huddled against her, shivering. Father glanced out the windows uneasily, wishing for the chance to glimpse something, even the mailbox at the end of the drive. But there was nothing, nothing but the unceasing white of the driven snow. It seemed to move out there, whirling like packs of hungry wolves, snapping at the little beam of light his candle flame cast and the snow drifted higher 'round the door.

Mother stamped her feet, and tried to encourage the children to sing a song with her. Their voices died away miserably amid the verses. The little girl had long since stopped feeling her fingers and toes and now she could hardly feel her face. Through the gloom beside her she could see her little brother was almost asleep. Darkness was falling. Soon The Spirit of Winter's Past would have his way, and they would all fall asleep... never to wake again. They were terribly and desperately alone in a sea of snow and cold. Soon, they knew, the whole world would grow still and silent, and they would be gray statues, their tears frozen on their cheeks.

Father could see the terrible cold creeping into their bones, and a desperate panic overtook him. He shook them each in turn and pulled his family out the door, into the teeth of the storm. He bid them pile wood into a mighty pile and began to throw anything that might burn into it. Soon it stood taller than any of them. Then he fell to his knees in the snow to light it. But The Spirit of Winter's Past shrieked with laughter, and breathed an icy breath, snuffing his match out. Mother stared at Father in horror and in that silent terrible moment they shared something extraordinary happened.

The little boy looked up into the sky and then seemed to notice the white snowflakes collecting in his sister's eyelashes. He gave a gay little laugh and warmth bloomed in Mother's heart. She grabbed the hand of her daughter and gave a gentle squeeze. The little family locked hands around Father, and sheilded him with their bodies from the worst of the wind, and in doing so, from the wrath of The Spirit of Winter's Past.

A light bloomed in the darkness and the fire caught. Light and warmth blazed up, beating back the gloom. They stood, bathed in the light of the fire, drinking in it's warmth. Mother buried chestnuts in the embers, and as they ate them, it seemed as if their bodies were awakening from a long slumber. They danced and sang songs in the darkness, and gradually the wind died. The cold abated to that of a natural winter's night and gradually the skies cleared until the stars twinkled down on them from a winter's sky.

The End

Monday, October 20, 2008

This is why I never post

With one notable exception, I have spent the last couple of weeks waking with a baby at least every two hours each night. Once particularly horrific night it was eight times between midnight and 4 am. Each time she wakes, she must be rocked back to sleep. By four am each night, I exhibit the tantrums of a petulant 5 year old and the mental capacity of my dog. Babies have much shorter and faster sleep cycles than adults. Whereas an adult takes approximately 4 hours to cycle thru light and deep sleep, an infant only takes 30 minutes. I suspect that what happens is that for some reason, she is unable to stay in that light sleep as she cycles in and out. So there's not much sleep going on around here for the adults in the family. Each morning I wake absolutely PISSED off at the world and cruise at that emotional level all day long. Oddly, I notice that it really makes me depressed. The one night she only woke twice, I woke to what seemed like an incredibly beautiful day, full of promise and hope and happiness. LOL!

Last night I put a very tired little girl to bed just after we tucked her sister in at 9pm. We put in a movie, and she slept for half an hour and woke. I picked her up and rocked her back to sleep. We repeated this process two more times about 15 minutes apart each time. The final time I realized


I am not physically capable. My mind is hanging on by a thread.

All the books in the world today say that letting a baby Cry It Out before 6 months is cruel. They simply don't have the reasoning capacity to understand what is going on. Most agree that only very limited crying it out should be allowed once the baby reaches 6 months-such as for five minutes at a time. So we are at an impasse. Katie is 6.5 months old. Letting her cry for five minutes in hopes she'll just give up and go to sleep is ludicrous. I've seen this kid cry for 3 hours solid at a time.

I've resisted just putting her down and letting her figure things out herself this long because I've felt like I'd be a horrible mother. It seems cruel to just dump a kid in her crib and walk away when she's never had to put hserself to sleep before in her life. She's really never developed much in the way of self soothing skills.

Last night I really didn't see how I had a choice. We rocked her to sleep again around 10:45 and then settled ourselves to wait for her next crying session. She woke 15 minutes later and the screaming began. She held out for an hour of crying. It wasn't quite as awful as I'd imagined. It was more of an on and off thing, punctuated by periods of extreme frustration. We sat with her the whole time. After another 15 minutes of sobbing and sniffling as she calmed down and she was finally asleep. For another two hours. By then it was 2 am, and it was time for her usual nursing session. At four, I just didn't have another hours worth of screaming tolerance in me, so I picked her up again. But I think we're getting somewhere. It's progress.

Anyway, all of this is written as an explanation of sorts. If you find me trying to insert a carrot into the steering column to start my van, or if asking a simple question elicits a tirade in which half my face falls off and flames shoot from my eyes-I'm sure you'll understand why.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

indigenous yums!

I had once heard that yucca blossoms were edible, and that in fancy schmancy resturants out in California, you paid good money to eat them in salads. I even Googled them, but didn't really find much information to satisfy my curiosity-some long gone trendy diner menus, and some Indian dude touting the cool factor of the Plains Indian diet. That was about it. What I did find told me to be sure not to eat anything but the blossom itself, as yucca contains saponins (which I understand to be a form of soap, and as such, quite bitter and narsty.) Indeed, an Indian acquaintence of mine once swore up and down the very best shampoo in the whole world came from washing with the root of yucca. But I digress.

In June, the whole area around Spearfish burst into blossom and the yucca was everywhere. So I stopped and picked a spike. If you decide to try this next year, please don't be the ass I was, bring yourself some gardening shears to sever the spike from the plant. It's very very tough when using your car keys to cut it.

One spike will provide an ample amount of blossoms for about 6 people. I found that my favorite part was the bud, or the pistil and area fo the flower where the little embryonic seeds rest -it's quite sweet. I would liken the taste to that of a snow pea. We ate our salad with a lemon, basil and garlic dressing that was really outstanding.

Isn't it purty?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Hey did ya hear? Pyrotechnics Guild International is holding their annual meeting in Gillette WY this week. Each night had fireworks events, but the culmination is the "Grand Public Display" this Friday night at the Camplex. This is one of the largest fireworks displays in the world and will contain many handmade fireworks you'll never see done commerically. All the cool kids are goin' - even National Geographic will be on hand to film for an upcoming documentary. (I bet its about people who blow their fingers off playing with gunpowder.) I think we're gonna go, and I predict our lifetime supply of oooh and aaahs will be all used up by the end. In fact, I suspect we'll be ruined for all other fireworks displays ever. Heh.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Un-freaking believable

Two months of work
Two minutes of frogging
Aw ....fuck a duck

Title Omitted for Reasons of Public Decency

I had to leave the title of this post blank, because I'm attempting to be a bigger person than my natural instincts dictate and I'm trying to write relatively cleanly. What I'd like to do is throw a huge temper tantrum, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Lets start at the beginning.

I talked a good friend (you know who you are) into sewing some microfiber inserts for me since my sewing machine has decided to go AWOL and hide from me in my storage unit 350 miles away. I was desperate. I was worried about having enough inserts for my child to stuff in her diapers. Fear of running out of diapers will make you do irrational things. I agreed to knit SIZE ELEVEN socks for someone out of this crazy fun yarn her sister had dyed up from laceweight yarn. The colorway is called "Covered in Bees" a reference to a standup bit by everyone's favorite British cross-dressing comedian, Eddie Izzard. She would have knit them herself, alas, she is a crocheter.

I cast on, and found I was knitting at either 10 or eleven stitches per INCH. Do you have any idea how many stitches that represents? That gauge is so fine it's not even ON my sock knitting chart. I increased my needle size to a 2-and normally knit on 0's. This barely allowed me to make it to nine stitches per inch-just on the chart. Each repeat seemed to take ages... I felt like one of those hamsters on a wheel, spinning in place. This was compounded by the fact that I have an infant at home. I don't knit much. By the time June was gone, I had only finished about 2 inches of cuff. I felt guilty. The recipient is coming home from work at camp at the end of the summer. I'd never make it by this rate. She worked her butt off to sew me inserts before she left for camp-in the midst of finals. The least I could do was come through on my end of the bargain. I reapplied myself, resolving to spend at least some time each day knitting on them, and put all other projects on the backburner, even my pretty summer tank I wanted to finish before the season was done. I wasn't always successful at this goal, but by yesterday I'd gotten to this point:

I was pretty pleased. Knitting comes slowly with a new baby around. I was still very concerned about finishing before the end of the summer-I was really only 1/4 of the way through, afterall, but at least I was making progress. Rayelle (no stranger to large feet at size 10.5's) causally picked it up last night and said "GEEZE! who are you knitting the enormous sock for?!? That's not gonna fit ANYONE-certainly not Rachel!"

come again?

Ex-squeeeeeze me?!?

"Look at your gauge! What is that-six stitches to the inch?!?"

I have size 6 feet. I'd never really paid attention to just how big this thing is turning out to be. Surely Rachel, even at her most swollen and footsore, doesn't have arches that are 17 inches in circumfrence, does she? DOES SHE?!?

It looks like I was knitting at about 6.5 stitches per inch. Note to self: When swatching for a sock- please swatch in the round.

Rachel, please note the pleasing change in the amount of "bees" as we proceed through the ball of yarn in the former photo. It may be the closest you ever get to your hand knitted socks.

Un-freaking believable.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

watermelons and baby windmills

I learned a valuable dyeing lesson today. When you dye something an incredibly bright and jarring shade or colorway and you think you might be forced to claw your own eyes out if you look at it




One only needs to dip it in a faint contrasting color to tone the shade down a bit and make it bearable. If you think the colors above are rather eye blinding-you should have seen them before I toned the pink down! This "Watermelon" is my newest colorway-and one I've been wanting to make for some time-but the last time I tried I almost blinded myself and was forced to overdye the whole thing. Just how was I able to make a self striping sock yarn with a 3 month old infant at home?

Why, I simply employed this lovely little contraption! This is my long awaited Christmas present from my dear, dear husband. We finished it yesterday at the Ranch-where his father employed MUCH mojo and hard work to bring it to fruition. I'll have to make a post on the story of making it-there was much sweating and cursing involved. But it's here now-and I LOVE it.

What makes "the windmill" so special is that it's twice the size of a typical swift. It's adjustable between roughly 50 and 108 inches. Therefore at it's full extension it makes it possible for me to dye six different stripes in a sequence. I'm finally able to skein and dye and reskein sock yarn at less than two hours at a pop. I am SO excited! maybe I'll be able to start selling some!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ten Minutes a Day!

I stumbled across this here today, and thought it was a great idea. Just think of what you'd have if you spun 10 minutes each day. Even if you limit yourself to weekdays, that's almost an hour of spinning in a week's time. You could have a substantial amout accomplished! I had to remind myself recently that I stay home each day. It IS possible to plan a few goals around my life at home. I can say, for instance, that I WILL knit an hour a day, or even half an hour. I don't have to get all anal and proscribe a time for doing so... (I have my limits) but wow I could sure get a lot done if I'm even 50% faithful to a resolution like this.
So, today I spent about half an hour spinning some of that lovely alpaca roving I bought in Ft. Collins almost a year ago. I'm working on some of the stuff I left the natural ashy gray. I'm pretty close to being done with a bobbin. I've already got a bobbin full of the stuff I dyed plum. I can't wait to ply them together and see what comes of it. I did it on the deck, sleeping baby on a playmat beside me, children playing with the hose in the yard. It's lovely here-about 78 degrees, with no humidity and a slight breeze, and no bugs-thank goodness for the Black Hills and low maintenence babies.
What am I gonna do with the finished project? I initially bought enough for a "vest"... but a vest sounds so... dowdy. I also resolved to make it my practice stuff-the goal being to spin as fine as I can in preparation for the superwash wool sitting above one cupboard. I plan on spinning socks with that stuff. But back to the project at hand. It's been so long that I don't even know how many ounces I bought-so, I don't know how many yards I'll end up making, but lets assume there will be about 600 yards of sport weight 100% alpaca. Oh the possibilities! Feel free to suggest something!

Friday, June 20, 2008

This just in!

Special reporter Katie Gray has made a shocking discovery!

"If you wave those long things on the sides of your body around, you can actually bat at the toys hanging in front of you. Who would have thought you could actually effect the scenery around you!?!"
"Back to you, Bob."

more missing teef!

Another tooth has turned traitor and jumped ship from Lizzie's mouth. Perhaps it just couldn't take the constant chomping on "corn on the knob." We may never know the full motivation for it's desertion, but Lizzie is thrilled with the prospect of another visit from the "toof fairly."

Need a napkin?

We've been quite domestic round these parts lately! We made these wonderful cookies. They are an oatmeal chocolate cookie you wouldn't be able to resist eating if I placed it in front of you. They're oh-so-soft and chocolatey. What I wouldn't be able to resist telling you (after you've eaten several of course) is that they're specifically designed to aid in lactation. So, you'll want a napkin, not only to wipe up the mess you made salivating, but also mop up your shirt after you start leaking.

Okay, not really. It only aids in lactation if you're already doing so. If no one has had their lips wrapped around your nip for the past few hours, you're safe. If however, you want to boost your milk supply, these lovely babies will help do so. They're chock full of galactogogues-foods that aid in the production of milk. Our ancient forebearers understood about these foods much better than we did. There is a reason all those fertility goddesses were surrounded by bushels of grains. Whole grains like oats, flax and wheats are perfect boosters, as are yeasts. I think they should be mandatory food for all new mothers! I love it that the original recipe says that a serving size is one dozen-cause a dozen is about how many you want to eat in one sitting-trust me!

Here's my adapted recipe for Noel Trullio's Lactation Cookies and a link to the original:

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups oats
1 bag chocolate chips
2-4 tablespoons brewer's yeast

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Add vanilla. Sift together flour, brewers yeast, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to butter mix. Stir in oats and chips. Scoop onto baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Let set for a couple minutes then remove from tray. Makes appox 2 dozen large cookies.

The only "odd" item in the mix here is the brewer's yeast. You can find this at your local health food store. If you aren't lactating, I wouldn't spend loads of time finding this. It is an excellent natural source of a number of important minerals, though, and can help you justify eating "just one more" to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals in a form much more easily metabolized than those smelly little pills we all swallow.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Political Picture - George Bush
see more politics and fun!

Breastfeeding moms... Bush looks like he could have an interesting latch there... doesn't he?


I loves me a good flood! I know I know-it makes me one sick puppy. I'm sure if I ever had a house in harm's way I'd change my tune in a hurry. But they're so... dramatic! Exciting! It's so beautiful to see Mother nature's power!
Spearfish Creek is in full display. I never thought I'd ever get the chance to see it over it's banks. But it's over them now! We snapped a few photos this a.m. You can see everything I shot here.

Jackson ST Bridge

Jackson-note the water you can just see coming down the hill. This is backing up before it can get to the drainage area and there is a considerable pool built up.

Nash St Bridge

Looking south from the Nash Bridge-upstream.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Udderly ridiculous' how 'bout...

Saturday I planted in my little garden area beside our walk. While I did so, I listened in on the conversation/imaginative play of my daughter and a neighbor girl. They were really getting some great riffs going-creating this complex imaginative world around themselves... building off of each other as they went. It sounded a little like this...


L: "an' how 'bout we were princesses and this was our castle.."

H: "an' how 'bout we were three an' our mommy said it was supper time"

L: "an' how 'bout we went to bed an' these are our bunkbeds:

Insert three miliseconds of fake snoring....

H: "an' how 'bout we woke up and we turned into sixteen"

L: "Oh! We're sixteen now!"

*fake laughter and squeals*


Please note that the whole exchange occurs in 30 seconds or less when they're really in the zone. It's like this rapid fire blast of chatter back and forth as they play. "an' how 'bout" is the magic phrase that conjures up amazing images and worlds.

It was enlightening to hear this exchange, because when the rare moment occurs that I am roped into this sort of play, I find it incredibly annoying that she keeps throwing these parameters on me right and left before I even have much of a chance to assimilate and begin imagining the LAST "rule" she threw at me. I end up annoyed that she's being such a little dictator and forcing me in one direction or another with the play.

The difference of course, is age. I view these statements as "rules" that must be followed, and I require time to begin imagining and then existing in the world that has been created with each statement. Lizzie, on the other hand, sees them as simple guideposts for story creation. She expects that I will take a more proactive role in creating alongside her as we play, and when I don't, she steps up to fill the gap. Each time she states something.. the world has been fleshed out a bit more.

My poor feeble brain just doesn't imagine as quickly as hers does. I must be SO boring! ...but I remember when I used to utter the magic phrase "an' how 'bout" too.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thar She Blows!

Katie finally Pooped! Why, might you ask, am I rejoicing over a bowel movement?!?

Because it's been NINE days... NINE! since I've seen one!

Apparently, it's not uncommon for breastfed babies can go a week or two without pooping by six weeks of age... but it sure is disconcerting. Yesterday I even took her in to a pediatrician yesterday to see if I should be worried. We palpated her tummy-but there were no hard masses.. and she wasn't uncomfortable. So we just decided to give it a bit longer.

I'm glad we did. She went today, in her own good time. It was pretty much like a bomb went off in that diaper though. OMFG people! Buy stock in Swaddlebees cloth diapers! It was totally coated in a thick layer from the front lining all the way to the back, but never leaked once. I wasn't aware a five week old child had that kind of storage capacity. It's like she has a rectum of holding or something (D&D reference for you non-nerds.) Usually you can resell cloth diapers once you are done.

But NO ONE will EVER buy that diaper from me!


Usually the very best stain remover is the sun.... but I doubt this will EVER sun out! Ah! Adventures in parenting! If this story isn't birth control.. I dunno what is!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Life is SHORT!

Tonight over the dinner table, Lizzie and I had a profound discussion about life and death and how long we have left on this earth.

Okay. So, the kid is five.

She asked how old people are before they die-I've assured her that we can live to be 100. Therefore, in the mind of a five year old-100 is the cutoff. You croak when you get to be 100. Just how long is that, though, really?

I'm thirty-one. Lets make life simple and assume it's my birthday today. If I will cack on my birthday, August 8th, 2076 then I have:

69 years left or
828 months left or
3,588 weeks left or
25,185 days left or
604,440 hours left.

That seems a disturbingly short period of time, especially considering that it isn't exactly common to make it to be that old. A little over 600,000 hours? I've never really thought about it in those terms. I just always envisioned having oodles of time. Damn! I'd better get crackin!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cute Squid Kid

The other day I watched a friend's newborn baby as he rested against his Daddy's chest and commented that he looked a bit like those Moai on Easter Island. He still has some coning and it makes his forehead really high. He gets these cute little wrinkles in his forehead and he just looks like a very solemn, wise old soul. I meant it in a sweet way... but I probably offended the bejeezus out of his parents. You know me and my big mouth.

By way of apology, and because I honestly DO think this, (I even commented on it in the hospital) I think Katie has more than a passing resemblance to the cute little baby squid alien in Men in Black. How they managed to make a squid cute, is beyond me-but they DID. It's her big dark eyes blinking back at you that does it for me.
This picture doesn't do it justice. You need to watch the movie and see the shot of the little guy sucking his thumb.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Employment Tip for Sam

Please note: Do not leave your position to take employment at the local newspaper selling classified ads. You'll surely put your head in the oven within days.

found in the Tuesday April 29th, 2008 edition of the Northern Hills Advertiser

FOR SALE: 2006 Bombardier Outlander Max 400 ATV, green w/snowplow, wench, front/rear bags. Approximately 200 miles, excellent condition. $6,000, 645-9286

I almost had to physically restrain Josh from calling to ask for her measurements.

Thinking outside the box

To continue with that last thought? I'm thinking outside the box too. It's what all the cool kids are doing these days. We're cloth diapering Katie. Don't get me wrong-I'm not a purist. There are disposable diapers in the diaper bag, and she gets a one each night because I'm lazy and don't want to wake up in the night to change her. But overall, we aren't using them too much. In fact, Katie will be a month old tomorrow, and so far we've only gone through half a box. I'm rather proud of our efforts!

Do you want to know a secret? I don't find it any harder to use cloth diapers than I do disposables. Yeah, you heard me right. Cloth diapers have come a long way from where they once were. Today's diapers and covers have an outer construction of waterproof cloth called PUL that doesn't really seem that different than regular polyester or cotton (so there's no more nasty crinkly plastic pants) and are outfitted with snaps and velcro (no more sticking yourself or your baby with pins.) You have lots of different options to choose from-you can still do a diaper with a cover, or you can choose an all in one construction that really doesn't seem any different than a disposable-except that you don't throw it away. They have cute brand names like "Happy Heineys," "Disposanots," "Bum-Genius" and "Fuzzi Bunz". I wash a small load of diapers every other day. There's no special treatment at this point-I just toss them in, poo and all and then throw them in the dryer later. We do have to use a different detergent that has no perfumes or dyes, but I can live with that.

Once Katie starts solids... I may change my tune, and it will involve a bit more work. But, breastfed baby poop really isn't all that toxic or objectionable. Frankly, it doesn't even smell bad. Yeah, that's right, I just said my baby's shit doesn't stink-but I'm her mother, that's a pretty predictable statement, isn't it? At least I didn't say my baby's poo smells like strawberries (seriously, I saw someone who claimed that once!) It's a good thing too, because I don't need to be any more in love with this kid. Those sweet little innocent eyes and heart shaped lips have already done me in-I'd be devastated by strawberry smelling poop. Besides, I'd spend all my time at the changing table sniffing....and that's just a little wierd.

It's a Millenium Thing

It seems to me that every decade has it's own signature theme; some trend in attitude within popular culture that helps define it. The seventies were about sex and drugs; the eighties were about money and making lots of it; the nineties... I'm gonna hazard a bet and label it a little new agey-sorta "retro age of Aquarius". Sometimes it's a little hard to label until you've gained the perspective of time. What's your vote? Now, the current decade? I think we're living in the decade of rebellion-of thinking and acting outside the box. Hence we have trends that produce punk rockers who knit, people who question their medical providers, organic foods. What do you think, am I on to something?

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Note to self:

Self, do not attempt to make Angel Food cake in any pan other than what is specified. Never fill it to the top of the pan. Angel Food expands. A LOT.
Oh YES self, it would have been darn cool to make a castle shaped angel food cake, but it really is impossible to get out. A dessert as light and airy as this is not meant to be violently ripped from the pan in pieces by voracious visitors and crammed in their mouths.

The Birth Story!

On Monday, March 31st, I was doing what I often was doing in the afternoons-napping, while my DD watched a few cartoons. Sometime around 2:30 I felt a trickle, and skipped into the bathroom as fast as I could. THAT was definitely my water breaking, though I managed to keep the bed dry. I sat on the toilet while Lizzie got the phone, and called DH to say it was "time to come home." He was quite flummoxed-somehow neither of us really thought it would occur during the day-we always imagined night time. He started the half an hour trip home and I found a diaper and switched to the birthing ball, while calling Rayelle to say we'd need her to pick up Lizzie. She of course, was at a midwife appointment, and unreachable. I proceeded to call my Mom-who absurdly wanted me to call before we left for the hospital (apparently she didn't realize how lucky she was to get THAT call!)my doula, Micole, and my midwife (who encouraged me to start the hour trip to the hospital right away-she's a smart one, she is!)

The contractions got stronger as I waited and I realized I had NO desire to leave the birthing ball. They were about 2-3 minutes apart, and totally bearable, but definitely there. For me they feel like rhythmic menstrual cramping. There were one or two I had just after Josh got home that I had to lean on him for. We decided not to spend too much time at home-I didn't want to be too much further along for the car ride. We ended up sending Liz to the neighbors and just trusted that someone would pick her up eventually and got in the car.

I had planned to labor on the ball in the back of the van, but never calculated how tall I'd be on it. We didn't fit. I ended up in the front seat-with no towel-totally soaking it. Five minutes later on the interstate, I found myself staring at Lookout Mountain and thinking... "I don't really want to do this again... Lets just cut it out..." I'm sure I was probably in transition at that point. Even without construction, or stopping to meet Micole, we had another 40 minutes to even reach Rapid City.

The trip settled into a pretty regular pattern, with contractions a minute apart and a minute long. I would have a wicked one, followed by a more mellow one. I would brace for each bridge, and mercifully, very few were in the midst of a contraction. Twenty minutes outside of Rapid, just where the interstate makes that funny jag at Blackhawk, I had my first pushing contraction. I couldn't help but roar through it-at which point I reported to DH that "um... THAT was a pushing contraction!"

I'd never had one-never had the urge to push with DD, though I waited patiently for a good 45 minutes with her after being told I was complete. From then on out, each of the wicked ones would be a "pusher" though at some point they ALL became pushers. I just roared through them, and didn't actively try to help the pushing. I could still feel feet in my ribs, and didn't think that the baby had dropped at ALL. I didn't have that feeling of a head in my cervix or anything. I figured we had PROBLEMS if I was already feeling the urge to push!

Yet, it also occurred to me we just might end up delivering in the car-which was okay, but I couldn't figure out WHERE we were gonna pull over on Mt. Rushmore Rd at five in the afternoon on a Monday! I hated to think of just parking in the middle of the street with the hazards on-but knew I'd never get my pants off without help. If she was any smaller-I'm sure we would have. As it was, we made it to the hospital, and the first place I directed DH to was the wrong one. After rushing madly about trying to find someone to help him in an empty hallway, an administrative person told him to go to the emergency entrance. We rushed BACK out into traffic and in the right parking lot/entryway.

When he ran in this time, he apparently didn't stress the urgency of the situation well enough, and the emergency people just directed him down the hall and around the corner to L and D. He asked for a wheelchair and they just said "Oh, they'll handle all that when they check you in." He just looked at them like they were on crack, grabbed a wheelchair, and ran back outside with it. I got in it, immediately arched into a contraction and we entered the building with me ROARING through it. I caught a glimpse out of the corner of one eye of a woman behind the emergency room desk, half standing from her chair as we RAN by, a silent "O" on her lips. The non-laboring part of me was LAUGHING her head off.

Our midwife met us down the hallway, with a big understated and calm "Hi! We're in room two." Another contraction hit once we got in the room, and she tried to get me to breathe through it-I didn't have the concentration to tell her I wasn't actively TRYING to push. We managed to get my pants off, I stood there while she checked me and she said "Oh, you're complete! That baby's head is only about as far in as my first knuckle! Push anytime!"

There was meconium in the water by now and an NICU person was brought in to attend to the baby. I got on the bed and held onto the back while kneeling, but my legs were just jelly, and it wasn't long before I had to get off them and push on my side. I can't believe how much more effective a push is when you have a pushing contraction to work with! I wonder how I EVER got my first child out! No wonder it took two hours! Pushing was not satisfying, and hurt the closer she got to roars became higher and higher pitched. Then her head was out... and I wasn't done! Lizzie just sorta slithered out after the head -all in one push. It took at least another minute for me to push her the rest of the way out. I remember screaming at one point- "oh just pull her OUT!" I couldn't believe how much more work it was-and those muscles were just TIRED!

Finally I mustered up a last heave and out she came. I should put "finally" in quotes-we'd been in the room all of ten minutes max. It's amazing how much better you feel-the instant that child leaves your body. I couldn't help but heave a sigh and say "Oh, that's MUCH better!" Because of the meconium, they cut the cord right away and whisked her over to a warmer for suctioning. Even after I got her back, I could hear quite a bit of "singing" as she tried to breathe, but we got a great nursing session in right away.

By the time we weighed her, she had pooped a couple of times, or I bet she would have been a full 10lbs. As it was, I was somewhat of a celebrity around the hospital as a 5 foot 1 inch person birthing a 9lb 13 oz baby in ten minutes. Someone actually said I was a once in a lifetime sort of patient. Katie was with us till I consented to allow them to bathe her and run some tests while I took a shower and grabbed some dinner. They promised not to do any of the typical things they do- like eye goop and shots, so we felt pretty comfortable with it. But we never got her back. They became concerned about her breathing and took her to NICU for observation, and there our adventure began.

In retrospect-the birth was GREAT, but I'm not doing another damn labor in the freaking car! Woman was not made to labor in the front seat! If we ever have another it will be AT HOME. If breathing issues present themselves with a third child, it's nothing that a transfer won't fix. We were never in danger of losing either of our kids in an instant, though they both had breathing troubles. Katie is doing really well-our electrocardiogram at two weeks old showed she's responding well enough to her Viagra treatments that we began weaning her down slowly. As of tomorrow she'll be on a single dose a day, and a week from now she'll be all done. We go in for another look at her heart and capilllaries in mid-May.

It took a full 5 days for Lizzie to finally meet her, but she's totally enamored, and has a really difficult time sharing her with anyone-that was one possibility we never even considered.

It's good to be a family.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Toof Fairly!

Baby birthin' isn't the only exciting thing happenning around here! On Wednesday, Josh went home while I was in the NICU with Katie and spent some time with Lizzie. She mentioned a loose tooth, and of course, he promptly forgot all about it in the swing of things. Thursday she bit into a slice of apple and what should fall out? Her very first looth toof! What IS the going rate for first tooth payouts, little tooth fairy?

We're Home!

We made it home!!! We were released on Friday! WOO HOO! We passed the garden center near our home on our way back and my thoughts turned to planting. In the past, time/life has been organized into before birth/after birth. It made me realize... Life in the NICU is this sorta liminal transitional stage of limbo. We've made it to AFTER. That feels so wonderful!

Sleeping last night was scary... and pretty unsuccessful. It's hard to relax enough to sleep, knowing your baby already has a crappy track record with breathing. This was compounded by the fact that she wasn't nursing well. She'd be ravenous to get on the breast, but then slip off after a few sucks- konked out, or push it away after a few minutes, etc etc. GAH! These were all warning signs we were told to heed that might indicate she was having a hard time breathing, and this morning she looked a little blue around the mouth and nose. So, we ate breakfast and took her in to our local emergency room for monitoring. Fortunately, her saturation levels look good-still in the 90's. But it's so damn HARD not to obsess over every little grunting breath-sometimes it looks like she's really working hard! I've never been scared we would lose her while in the hospital. Its never been touch and go... just serious. But now I feel like we're operating without a net. Overall, I think I might have gotten two or maybe three hours in. Thank goodness she's slept well all day. We've been napping like fools.

Lizzie joined us at lunchtime today. She's spent the last week with either Rich and Rayelle or Grandpa and Grandma Gray. Not bad for a child who has never spent a night without us. She's coping really well, and was SO excited to finally meet her sister. Due to the especially bad RSV season this year, no kids were allowed in the Labor and Delivery wing, and of course they wouldn't allow her in the NICU either. So, she's spent all this time waiting to meet her sister. Every little wiggle Katie makes is noted and eagerly reported. I hope the novelty lasts!

Thursday, April 3, 2008


There is a sound a swallowing child makes somewhere between a gulp, a grunt and a moan. Lizzie makes it when she's mainlining a cup of milk, or a glass of water before bed. At midnight last night, I got to hear Katie make it too. I cannot explain how incredibly satisfying it is to hear and feel your child nursing at the breast, knowing you are providing all the sustenance she needs for daily life. I think it feels especially significant now, since she's been in ICU. I no longer feel like a bystander, but instead have become an integral part of her care.

Her nurse and I were working hard to figure out exactly why she wouldn't latch on and one random pinch of the tissue worked miracles. Suddenly she was ON and nursing enthusiastically. There I sat, with my girl at the breast... and the world felt different suddenly. It normalized somehow. Even NICU suddenly became a less artificial and sterile place. All her cords and tubes receded, and we were just a mother and child, going through the motions of normal life.

So far, they're only letting me feed her once a shift. I'm hoping the Doc will allow us to feed on demand after his rounds today. She's still recieving all the nutrients and fluids she needs for daily life via IV, and anything she gets from nursing is just extra. All of her stats are looking very good. The GBS culture's preliminary results are back-and negative of course, though they will continue to watch it incase something grows slowly. There is no electrocardigram ordered for today unfortunately (this would help determine tension levels of the capillaries/veins next to the aveoli.) I guess this is a good thing, as it indicates they have a lot of faith she's healing well and doesn't require such close monitoring, but I'm now a stat junkie, and I want to see exactly HOW MUCH she's improving!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

great news!

Here's the focus of daily life for us right now... our little area in NICU. I didn't end up getting to hold Katie last night because of a small setback, though I did get to touch her. She'd had some retractions, where she was sucking in really deeply to try to breathe and they ended up bumping up her O2 levels to 30% again. They also decided to administer viagra.

A night's worth of treatment worked wonders (as any old man would agree, I'm sure!) and this AM's chest xray and electrocardiogram revealed that the "tension levels" of her veins had relaxed down to 32 (remember we're shooting for mid-20's.) So that gave us quite a bit of hope, but the nurses were still talking about not even starting her in a crib or removing her from O2 until this weekend. The pictures you see here are from around noon, when we both got to hold her for a few minutes. The blue tube you see is the O2 tube that's normally plugged into her hood. The thin tube to her mouth is the OG tube that extends down into her stomach and allows gasses to flow freely out without disturbing her. The pink blob is her hand, swathed in bandages to hold an IV in place.

The day got even gloomier when we discovered it wouldn't be possible for me to stay in the hospital any longer. I was to be discharged in late afternoon, at which point we'd have to say goodbye to Katie and drive an hour home with heavy hearts. While I know she's in great hands, I just hated the thought of being so far away. I did pretty well until I really started thinking about that goodbye and then I just lost it. Not long after, the attending neonatologist stopped in and made the surprising announcement that he had decided to put her in a crib and they'd removed the O2 hood and she was now breathing with the assistance of just a small O2 line under the nose!

They've removed the OG tube from her stomach, and best of all, the Doc said we could begin nursing attempts after the shift change at 4! WOW! What a rollercoaster ride! We'll see how well she tolerates this new change. While I was there after 4, we did see some "singing" (imagine sweet little baby grunts to try to open the aveoli in her lungs) but cross your fingers that it's a temporary thing.

Our nursing session was totally unsuccessful. She has a lot of interest in sucking, and takes the breast well, but doesn't seem to remember what to do with it once she has it. Apparently it hasn't occurred to her to clamp down, and she spends her time getting frustrated with what the heck she's supposed to do. She's happy to suck on my knuckle, and sometimes will take a pacifier, but seems baffled by a boob.

I'm hoping for some advice from a lactation consultant soon. In any case, I got to hold her for almost 2 glorious hours. She's now dressed in a sleeper and wrapped up like a baby burrito in a blanket. I'll go back in at midnight tonight to give it another shot. Incidentally, I'm not officially IN the hospital anymore, but instead was discharged at about 6pm. However, due to the desire to breastfeed, they have graciously allowed me to stay overnight in my old room on my own, assuming they don't fill up and need it. I suppose I could be kicked out at four am... but it seems pretty quiet around these parts and I see a good 5 or 6 rooms open at the moment. Tell the pregnant mamas of western SD to stay gestating!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Our baby girl is HERE!

First, the good news!
Katherine Bodhi Gray (tentative name)
born 3/31/08 5:09pm
21.5 inches long
9 lbs 13 ozs

I'm afraid I don't really have any great close up photos. We've been pretty busy round these parts and only have what our doula snapped directly after the birth. Hence the baby you see in these photos is still pretty gooey. You'll have to just trust us that she's beautiful for now. Tonight I hope to get the chance to hold her again, and I'll see what I can snap without disturbing her too much.

Labor was AWESOME! My water broke at around 2:30 Monday afternoon. I called Josh home and we didn't exactly run to the van, but we didn't piddle around much either. By the time we left, contractions were about a minute long but only a minute apart. But the time we hit Blackhawk (about 20 minutes outside of Rapid City where our hospital was) my contractions had turned into pushing. I just tried to chill and let my body do the work to prolong things as much as possible. I began active pushing as soon as we were in our room, and she was born 15 minutes later at 5:09. Lets hear it for SHORT labors! Whew! I figure that mom, dad and baby made a pretty outstanding team!

The bad news!

Katie developed some trouble breathing a few hours after birth. At first it presented itself as "singing" or grunting as she drew in each breath. From there it progressed to a lot of retractions and even some desats. Retraction is fairly obvious-you can see the baby's chest and stomach sucking in deeply for each breath. Desats are short for desaturation of the blood. Normally, practitioners like to see oxygen saturation levels in the 90's and there were times when her O2 levels would go down into the low 70's, and she would grey out before coming back up to higher levels. Her breathing wasn't consistent-she had some hitches and pauses. They transfered her to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at about 7pm for observation, and by 1:30am they hadn't seen any improvement in her, so they decided to put her on oxygen and start a round of antibiotics as they were concerned about the possibility of Group B Strep (GBS) infection. The round of antibiotics has earned her a three day minimum stay in ICU. They also ordered a battery of blood tests, cultures and x-rays.

Here is what we know now. Three different rounds of testing for white blood cell production show that her levels are elevated, but seem to be tapering off. We tentatively think this indicates that the production is due to stress, not infection. An additional test looking for inflamation in the body (also a sign of stress) seems to back this conclusion up. It takes 3 days for the GBS cultures to come back with preliminary results of infection, however, so we won't be sure until then.

An initial chest x-ray indicated some fluid in the lungs and a repeat x-ray this afternoon showed an enlarged heart. An electrocardiogram revealed that the enlargement was due to pulmonary hypertension, and NOT some dreaded defect in the heart itself. There is one area of the heart that hasn't closed as it should have, but they are expecting this to resolve on it's own in the next few days.

The heart itself is enlarged due to interuterine stress that has probably been going on in the last few weeks of gestation. Exactly what may have caused this is hard to say, but is apparently "commonly" seen in larger babies. The pulmonary hypertension is what is most likely causing Katie's breathing problems. It's been dumbed down for us and explained like this: The tiny aveoli in her lungs lie next to veins and capillaries. As she breathes in, O2 transfers from the aveoli into these veins and capillaries. The most efficient way for this to happen is if the veins are loose and open, lying closely against the aveoli so that a good transfer can take place. In Katie's body, however, the veins are constricted and lying further away from the aveoli, the body isn't making efficient use of the O2 coming into her lungs and she is forced to work much harder to saturate her blood stream.

We were hoping to see a bit more improvement in her this afternoon so that they might be able to wean her down a bit more from her O2. She had been doing well enough that they were only giving her a mixture of 26% O2 (room air is 21%) but she had some further setbacks early this evening. So, I beleive they are bumping her back up to 30% and have decided to begin actively treating the pulmonary hypertension with a drug. What drug you may ask? Brace yourself! Viagra. Yup! That's right! Viagra works to open up blood vessels, capillaries, and veins to allow the area to fill with blood more easily. What works for old men also works for little girls!

What is most discouraging about this is that while we got a wonderful nursing session in last night before these problems started, we haven't gotten to hold our girl since then. Essentially, we haven't had more than about two hours to get to know her. Stroking your sleeping baby's head around an IV in her hand, an OG tube down her stomach, three different sensors on her chest and abdomen, and another sensor measuring skin temp is a lot different than cuddling her and gazing into her eyes. In fact, they don't even really recommend that we touch her at the moment, as it just disturbs her into a more shallow sleep that prevents a deeper healing. We aren't hurting her when we do, but they don't really feel we are helping either.

I'm struggling to find a balance between what I see as an honest and basic need for her to have human contact and touch and a chance for her to rest and get her poop in a group. How much time should I spend in there with her? Am I a bad mother for staying away or am I doing the right thing? Fortunately, the NICU nurses have been pretty understanding. Guilt... the unavoidable baggage of parenthood. I've struck a balance so far by trying to be with her at the scheduled times when they will be checking her stats and changing diapers anyway. That way, I can sneak in some cuddle time, but it will be during points when she is already being disturbed-that way she's getting the maxium amount of rest in, and I still feel like she (and I!) are getting at least a bit of basic bonding time.

I'm extremely grateful to have gotten in some good nursing last night just after labor. She was a very hungry little girl, and latched on both sides for a good 20 minutes each followed by an additional short session later. Hopefully, that established a foundation for nursing later, and gave her a chance to snatch up some colostrum. She's recieving fluids, nutrients and fats through an IV. They really don't want to jeapordize her breathing by trying to have her suck at this point. For now, I'm pumping and saving every single drop of colostrum I get for when she CAN have it.

Shift change is almost over, and I get to go hold my little girl now. Our intentions are to post updates here, so check back over the course of the next few days to learn more.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


My belly is big...

But it's purty!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

35 weeks... or could it be 37 weeks?!?

I must have reached maximum capacity. I don't see a whole lot of changes in growth over the past few weeks.

Why the discrepancy in dates? Well, you're witnessing the special kind of desperation that all women go through when they reach this point in the pregnancy. Oh and the name for this point? It's called HELL.

Most caregivers will measure a woman at each appointment to check for consistent growth in the baby. For the last month and a half, I've consistently measured two weeks ahead of time. At my last appointment on the 25th when I was 34 weeks, I measured SIX weeks ahead. yeah, that's right... I was measuring 40 weeks-full term. Now that's not crazy- the baby could have been in a different position, I was getting measured by a different person... all kinds of things might account for it. A quick ultrasound estimated us at 36 weeks (again with the two weeks ahead.) Now, ultrasounds aren't super on when it comes to estimating by this stage of development either. So in reality, we don't know THAT much more than we did. But the desperate preganant woman still likes to THINK she's 37 weeks, ya dig?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thirty Four Weeks

Still here. Still pregnant. Still Big.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

32 weeks

Am I bigger? Can we fit 8 weeks more of growth in here? Sorry about the door shadow! I was anxious to see a side by side comparison...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Dunno People....

Tonight at knitting night, I confessed I thought I might already be as big as I was at 39 weeks pregnant with Lizzie. I was promptly assured that I wasn't. I couldn't be THAT big yet. So, for those of you who haven't been keeping track, tomorrow I'll be 31 weeks. Here's a comparison shot.
Here I am tonight.

Two days before Lizzie was born 5 years ago.

While this baby might be carrying a bit lower tonight, I don't think there's a huge difference in size. Am I wrong?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pubic Pain

My pubic bones are starting to hurt if I sit too long. It’s pretty common, and more so in second pregnancies. You know the feeling-like if you’ve rode on a tiny, hard bike seat for hours? Last night, as I lay in bed with a cold gel pack between my legs to forestall some of the pain, I had an epiphany. I just came up with the BEST name for a new topical pain reliever to help keep expectant moms comfortable.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Scottish Kilt Wearers Barstool

Boy! Just look at all that hand carving and polishing!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The final frontier

Welcome to the third trimester. We are now 28 weeks, or 7 months pregnant. There are 12 weeks until blast off.
The other day I heard about an invention that just never quite took off in the 1970's... Apparently someone invented some sort of centrifugal device designed to spin the baby out. I'm imagining riding a turn table around and around, withe the speed being slowly turned up as my screams pitched to a higher and higher level. LOL!