Thursday, October 25, 2007

Today I'm jealous. Jealous of my Mom and Jenni and Grammy, as they got to jet off to Boston for 5 days to visit my dear sister, Michelle. Its been about a year since Michelle and I visited Peter in Boston and checked out Boston U. What a fun trip we had, and how I would love to go again, and see my friend Laurie and her new baby, Anders, as well! Maybe early next year, if the finances and pregnancy allow.

We just returned from Ethan's pre-school field trip to a Bartelheimer Brothers dairy farm in Snohomish. It just so happens to be run by a lady (well, her husbands family) from my MOPS group. I didn't get to see her while we were there, but we saw lots of other stuff and our noses were filled with that "special" odor of cow.

Inside the milking parlor. This was both fascinating and little disgusting. The cows practically run in to be milked. It didn't look uncomfortable for them at all.

They milk 700 cows twice a day. Its basically an around the clock operation.

This is the covered holding pens for the cows. It reeked so bad I can't even tell you!

The cows were not human tame. They weren't afraid of you, but they weren't all that interested in being touched either. This was as close as Ethan would get.

Its a small operation, so this truck holds one day of milk.

When I first saw these, I thought perhaps these were corn starters (they grow their own corn for the cows). Imagine my surprise...

when we found they held calves! There were maybe 75 of these. It was strange, like little greenhouses growing calves.

Gwen, in the labor and delivery barn, being silly. Sadly there were no baby calves that day, but there were about 20 that were due to deliver in the next two weeks.

At the end, they gave us some ice cream that was made by Darigold... the local company that they sell their milk to.

Digging in...

Group photo. This is the entire pre-school class, plus two siblings :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I forgot to mention the biggest thing that has happened lately.

Ethan is now sleeping in a bed, or rather, his crib with one side off. Honestly? This change has really sucked for me. Like, bang my head on the wall, sob in frustration type of bad.

Nighttimes are ok. Nap times are hell. We used to have this great schedule where I'd lay them down and maybe they'd talk or play for 30 min then be out. Now, I put them down and they'll play and play... and play and play... and maybe 2, 2.5 hours AFTER I put them down (and having to go in there and clean up messes or herd them back to bed) they may fall asleep, only to be forced awake an hour later so that they don't mess up their bedtime schedule. Right now its only Ethan in a bed, but Gwen is not hindered by her crib in the slightest, nor is Ethan. They climb in and out with ease. I know they are not ready to give up naps because they are in horrible moods if they don't get one.

We were just not ready for this right now. Not when I'm cranky and tired all the time and Jason is having to pick up the slack. We were NOT ready for huge changes in schedule and it taking hours to get the kids to sleep. If anyone has ideas, we are open to them. We're considering everything from splitting the kids up to their own rooms to stopping naps.

Yesterday, the kids and I dropped off some books at the library, then went to Pilchuck Park. We were the only ones there, which was a bummer. The kids always look forward to playing with other kids. After we got home, we raked up all the leaves in the backyard. Generally, J and I are not rakers, but last year the leaves we left rotted and left slimy puddles all over our grass and it was nasty! Given that we have no leafy trees, the pile of leaves was impressive. I guess lots of wind will do that.

Both the kids continue to be excited about "the baby". At least once, and usually a couple, times a day they ask to feel the baby. Of course at this point this means they simply put their hands on my tummy, but they make up things like, "The baby is laughing! We're tickling him!" or "The baby is crying. He is sad". Gwen constantly talks about how she will snuggle him and kiss him and hug and he will be so cute(!). Its kinda neat to see how older kids react to this news. Ethan is impatient and thinks the baby is growing too slow and should be out by now. I rather agree. I also believe gestation should be much faster!

Thursday, Ethan's pre-school is going on a field trip to a farm, which happens to be run by a lady that I know from MOPS. Gwen and I get to come along too. We should have a blast! The kids have been looking forward to it for weeks now.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Gosh, my blogging is terrible. Nearly a week since the last post! I'm still just not feeling it.

So, the most exciting thing to happen this week was this little windstorm we had on Thursday which broke our large cedar tree. Snapped off about 15-20 feet up the trunk and we lost about 25+ feet of tree. Very strange because from what I can see there was no rot or other damage. This tree survived the really BIG windstorm last year with no problems at all. I'm really sad that its gone :(

Where it snapped off

Close up

Overhead view,with nifty little diagram of what is what. Aren't I a dork?

The tree narrowly missed hitting our neighbors fence, and is just about 15 feet away from our dining room. Good thing the wind was blowing the way it was.

The kids are at Mom's right now. I dropped them off yesterday for part 2 of our anniversary. We went to dinner at a new mongolian grill type place that opened up real close to us, then came home and watched Transformers, which, I have to admit, was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I would even say it was interesting and very well done! Today we have to run some errands, then we'll go get the kids around 2 or so.

The kids are incredibly excited about Halloween this year. Ethan asks daily (not exaggerating here) if its time for trick-or-treating. He's going to be a dragon with wings. Gwen is going to be Angelina Ballerina (an animated dancing mouse). I'm making her a tutu and ears and tail. That's my plan. I still haven't actually gotten started on it, even though I have all the stuff. My motivation for anything is at like -10.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I've been downright shocked by the number of hits the article I posted on Sunday has received. I've actually maxed out my log for the month already. I never do that!

Anyway, I'm glad people are reading it, and my opinions :) This is a frightening and appalling story for many reasons.

Now onto non-political issues. I'm real sick and completely farking miserable. I can't decide if I should just throw up and be done with it (maybe) or hold it back and hope it passes. When I'm sick, then usually throwing up helps, but I'm afraid with morning sickness I'll be sick again in 30 min and need to throw up again :(

Saturday, thanks to a Friday conversation with April where we learned that we both were planning on going to the same place to get a pumpkin, we met up with April, her husband Gregg, and the g-boys, Grady and Gibson.

A quick test: Which child is trained best? If you answered Gibson, you win! Look at the little guy... smiling right at the camera, while mine couldn't be bothered :)

"Onward", she command!

It was foggy and cold in the fields.

Ethan loved picking out pumpkins. He was constantly putting them in and I was constantly pulling them back out!

Finally he found the right one to carve

Gwen found hers too

We took a walk through the petting zoo (which was a bit too dirty for my taste) but they did have these cute piglets (the Mommy pig was freaky!)

and bunches and bunches of kittens. Oh how I wish Jason wasn't allergic :(

This was a little trout fishing trough thingy. They also had these trained ducks that raced to the end and then did a little march back down. Really cute.

We took a break for a snack... some homemade, fresh pastries from the farm bakery. Isn't Grady so cute? And April made that sling too. It was really cool.

After we finished here, we took the kids to Mom's to spend the night, and then Jason and I were free! Unfortunately, I was sick, but we did make the best of it. We went to the Mill Creek Town Center and went to the bookstore, then to a restaurant, The Clay Pit, that April had recommended. Had I not been so nauseous I would have enjoyed the food. I did enjoy the naan though. Yum!

Saturday I ran out early to get coffee and doughnuts for breakfast, then we did some cleaning and relaxing before the kids got home at about 3. It was an enjoyable time. Best thing is that we get a repeat of it this week too. Thanks Mom!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I have to share this story that was posted on my message board. There are a number of things that bother me about it:

1. The parents cannot opt their child out of testing for religious beliefs and/or reasons of conscious. Many states do allow this exception, but apparently Nebraska does not.

2. The child was removed from the home, even though the parents posed no danger or flight risk to the child. In a previous court case regarding the same issue with their daughter, she was allowed to stay in the home

3. The judge banned the mother from breastfeeding the child. She had been going to the foster home 9 times a day to feed, but the judge deemed this inappropriate, saying, "I don't approve of Mom popping in (to the foster home) nine times a day to nurse." Why ever not?

This is scary stuff folks.

Omaha Court Case Widens From Screening Test To Baby's Meals


A judge ordered that 6-week-old Joel Anaya, whose hungry cries interrupted Friday's court hearing, be administered the state-mandated newborn screening test his parents object to and remain in foster care until the test results are received, despite the mother's wishes to continue nursing the boy.

Mary Anaya in 2003. Joel's parents, Mary and Josue Anaya of Omaha, object to the testing because of their religious beliefs and conscience. They believe in certain Scriptures that say life is in the blood.

The Anayas previously fought a court order that the testing be done on their daughter, Rosa, but in 2005, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the order to have the testing performed. In that case, Rosa remained in the Anayas' custody while the case was being argued.

State law requires metabolic testing of all newborns. The tests, which involve pricking a baby's heel and drawing about five drops of blood, are used to screen for a variety of conditions, including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. Doctors recommend the test be performed when babies are between 1 day and 1 week old, because the diseases could lead to mental retardation or death.

Most states provide some sort of exception for people who object to the blood tests based on "religious" or "sincerely held" beliefs. Nebraska has no such provision.

Joel was taken into state custody after a petition was filed Wednesday in Douglas County Juvenile Court. Prosecutors argued that because Joel has not received the testing, he is at risk for mental retardation or death.

Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge Elizabeth Crnkovich agreed.

"I can't imagine greater risk than death or disability. How does it get any worse than those two things?" she said at Friday's hearing, which was held to determine whether Joel should remain in state custody or be returned to his parents.

Crnkovich said she didn't believe the Anayas would follow the order to have the testing done, so she ordered that the boy remain in foster care until preliminary results confirm no further testing is needed.

"I don't know how long it will take. I am sensitive to the love of these parents. But I have to admit, I don't understand placing a loved one at risk. That one boggles the mind," Crnkovich said.

Hospital staff say results could take about a week.

Earlier in the hearing, Mary Anaya, who has been visiting her son several times a day in foster care to breastfeed, cringed when she heard him crying from outside the courtroom.

Dressed in a conservative black suit, she told the judge her convictions prevented her from swearing, so instead she "affirmed" to tell the truth before taking the stand. During her testimony, she answered questions about her son's feeding habits. "Do you nurse your baby?" her attorney, Jeff Downing, asked.

"Yes," she replied.

"How many times per day?"

"Eight or nine times," she said.

"If I said someone came in and said the baby needs nursed, this would be about the right time, wouldn't it?"

Interrupting, Crnkovich said the line of questioning was inappropriate and briefly talked to the attorneys in private.

She then left the courtroom, and when she returned, she quipped, "It has come to the court's attention . . . that the child is hungry and needs to be fed."

She ordered workers with the Nebraska Health and Human Services Department to take the baby out of the courthouse, feed him, and not bring him back.

She later added, "I don't approve of Mom popping in (to the foster home) nine times a day to nurse."

The hearing continued with Mary Anaya on the stand.

When asked what her objection to the testing was, Anaya said the Bible states that life is in the blood. "To me, the blood is something important and not to be tampered with," she said.

Anaya and her husband are ordained ministers and administrators of the Mission for All Nations food and clothing pantry in Omaha. They take their faith very seriously and are raising their children according to those beliefs, Anaya told the court.

But after the hearing, crying in a courtroom hallway, Mary Anaya seemed more concerned about her son being fed than the testing being done.

"This is inhumane — to deny my right to feed my baby," she said, distraught over where her baby had been taken.

The Anayas have 10 children aged 21 years to 6 weeks. They have avoided having the metabolic screening done on most of their 10 children.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Today is our 5th wedding anniversary. Yay for us! :)

I'm feeling so depressed right now. Well, I'm actually on the upswing, but the past week has been very very rough. Michelle, I'm sorry I haven't returned your calls. We will call you, I just haven't felt like talking to anyone.

Physical weakness really gets me down after awhile. I don't know how much longer I can take the nausea and total exhaustion. My house is... is... a disaster. Its much worse than a disaster, but I can't think of a better word for it. I have clothes all over my entry. They are clean, but there is zero chance of them making it up the stairs, so every morning (or night, if we have to leave early in the morning), I sit in the pile and dig around to find outfits for everyone. If someone is dropping something off or stopping by, the clothes get thrown into baskets and placed on the window seat, only to be dumped out and dug around in that evening.

I hate that I have no drive or enthusiasm for cleaning or organizing. I haven't sewed for well over a month. It just feels like most the joy has been sucked out of things and now its plain old drudgery. Don't even get me started on how I don't want anyone to touch me for anything. I'm completely touched out. Jason, bless his heart, tries to encourage me by offering to help clean or whatever, especially on weekends, but the last thing I want to do is clean! I'd rather sleep, or read, or catch up on movies. And so the house remains messy and scattered.

Yesterday I spent most the day crying and that seemed to snap me upwards a level.

Anyway, on that completely downer note, I'll sign off as I have to go get Ethan inside so he doesn't soak himself with the hose.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A couple people have asked me for the recipe for Chili that I brought to Cider-Fest 2007.

Here it is, in all its simple glory. I doubled the recipe for our event, but I don't think its necessary. A single recipe makes lots and lots.

Simple Beef Chili with Kidney Beans

Good choices for condiments include diced fresh tomatoes, diced avocado,sliced scallions, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro leaves, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese. If you are a fan of spicy food, consider using a little more of the red pepper flakes or cayenne--or both. The flavor of the chili improves with age; if possible, make it a day or up to five days in advance and reheat before serving. Leftovers can be frozen for up to a month.

Makes about 3 quarts, serving 8 to 10

2tablespoons vegetable oil or corn oil
2medium onions chopped fine
1red bell pepper cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6medium cloves of garlic minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4cup chili powder
1tablespoon ground cumin
2teaspoons ground coriander
1teaspoon red pepper flakes
1teaspoon dried oregano
1/2teaspoon cayenne pepper
2pounds 85% lean ground beef
2cans dark red kidney beans (16 ounces each), drained and rinsed
1can diced tomatoes with juice, (28 ounces)
1can tomato puree (28 ounces)

table salt
2limes cut into wedges

1. Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed nonreactive Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.Increase heat to medium-high and add half the beef; cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining beef and cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if chili begins to stick to bottom of pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until beef is tender and chili is dark, rich, and slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with additional salt. Serve with lime wedges and condiments if desired.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ok, before I say anything, I just have to say that morning sickness BITES. I'm so tired (and I know my family is tired) of being sick all the time, tired all the time and bitchy all the time! I'm not completely sure that everyone will still like me when I return to normal. Somehow I was lucky enough to avoid all this with Ethan and Gwen and I didn't realize how fortunate I was.

On to more interesting things. Sunday, we went to my Aunt Deanne's house and made cider! My Eastern Washington family was able to come as well, so we had a blast playing and talking with everyone. The weather was dreadful, but we made the best of it.

The men moving the huge canopy from my Mom's to Aunt Deanne's. We had started out with a small blue one, but it quickly became evident that it wouldn't be enough protection.

You can see that my Mom is already soaked and we hadn't even started!

Gathering apples off my Aunt Deanne's trees. I believe one tree is Winesap and the other Fuji.

Aunt Daralyn, living in the apple capital of the US, brought over 250 (?) lbs of assorted apples.

We gave all the apples a dip in mild bleach solution, then a water rinse before processing.

Containers waiting to be filled. My Mom didn't have any milk cartons so she brought old pickle jars (giggle).

Diane (my Grammy's sister) and Aunt Margaret cutting up apples to go into the grater.

Brynne,I'm sorry darlin! She told me that I better tell her before I took a picture of her in it, but I didn't. This is us setting up the grinder/pressing/storing pieces.

You feed quartered apples into the grater while someone cranks (I was feeding, Kwinton was cranking). The apples tend to fly out, hence our hands covering the top.

The shredded apple falls into the pressing container...

When the container is full, you twist down the top, pressing juice out, where it falls into a tray, then into cheesecloth and through a strainer (removing big pieces, seeds, etc)...

and when there is enough cider in the catch bin, you ladle out into jugs or, in this case, cups :)

The kids were playing in the rain and picking apples while we were working. All the kiddies were soaked through.

Poor little Cedric took a fall. This picture was taken while I was running to him, hence the blurriness. However, I include it because he was totally unharmed (and not all that wet) because his baseball cap bill kept him from hitting the ground. He got right up without a peep! What a trooper!

Ethan was cold and cranky. He also came home with a bad cough :( Luckily it doesn't look like it will move into anything else at this point.

More and more cutting, stacking and grinding.

At one point, the weather got so bad that rain was sheeting through the tent and the canopies almost blew away. You can see in the background how the trees are being blown around.

All in all, we ended up with 13 gallons of cider, which was less than the 18 we expected. We have some ideas for next year, mainly, to cut the apples smaller (we did a few batches with food processed apples and got tons more juice).

Oh, and on Monday I went for my dating ultrasound and got to see the baby. That's right baby, singular. No twins. Which is perfectly fine by us! The measurements indicated the baby was a week older than my assumed due date, so that puts me at 7 1/2 weeks about, due on 5/23/08, which is Michael and Michelle's birthday! Just so you know, that "bubble" on the right side is the yolk sac, which helps support the baby until the placenta is fully in place and functioning. It is not a mini jet-pack.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

We have been having crazy weather the last few days. Great sheets of rain, hail, wind. I love it! Today when I got lost in Marysville (more on that below) I even saw snow/hail? piled up on some streets. I hear that the the closest mountain pass got 7 inches! I wonder what is in store for us this year...

So today I had my first visit with the midwifery group. It was interesting! You don't have an assigned midwife, so the lady I saw today may or may not be the one I see next time. This one was really nice though and we had a long talk about my previous births, my PPD, and my ideals (note I say ideals!) for this next birth.

Due to my recent miscarriage, she wants me to have an ultrasound asap, which happens to be this upcoming Monday. I'm glad to hear it because I need to get the twins thing out of my head. I always have that thought, but this time it seems to be more niggling than before.

She did all the typical stuff and after the exam she said I had "a fantastic pelvis" and could "deliver a 13 lb baby if you had to". Well, uh, good to know? I wasn't sure what to say to that!

During our talk, she asked why I came there instead of Evergreen. I said that my sister worked at Evergreen and now for Dr. Dydell (who this midwife actually knows and she says that Dydell worked at Providence too) and said that she couldn't really recommend any midwives there. Turns out that this midwife (Ann Russell?) works part time for one of the midwifery centers at Evergreen. Doh! After that awkwardness, she said she works in many hospitals filling in for people who are on vacation or what not.

So after I gave blood and urine, I took off for home. Except the ramp to the trestle was blocked by some massive police presence so I got forced onto I-5 north and got myself terribly lost. Eventually I found my way down to EquiFriends, where my Mom was waiting with the kids for Jenni to finish her volunteer work. We took the kids for a walk through the stables, which they enjoyed until one of the horses sneezed and terrified Ethan (*giggle* it was funny). So we headed out, grabbed lunch at our favorite place, King Charleys, and now are home.

Would I sound like too much of wuss if I said I'm exausted?