Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Becoming the patient - part 2

If you didn't get a chance - read part 1 first so this all makes sense.

So by this point, I had received the med to stop my heart and another iv med to hopefully prevent it from happening again.  I was supposed to get an oral med as well.  Given the chaos of the ED, it took awhile to get the oral med.  I sat up prior to getting the med, and my heart went back to racing mode.  Up to this point, they were actually going to let me go home.  (By the way - this was actually the day of our first snow fall- 32 degrees out - and roads were a total mess).  Well after my heart went back to crazy mode, we all decided that staying overnight would be the best idea.  I got the oral med and another push of the iv controller med.

One would have guessed that after all the meds that my heart would have taken a hint.  It got the hint, but not quite the message.  Drinking a glass of water threw me right back into svt.  And then when I sat up in the morning, it did it again.  So the cardiologists decided to get the special heart rhythm team involved.  And when one of the most senior heart rhythm/electrophysiologist (EP) specialists states that he has no idea what is going on with my heart, well - that just can't be good.

Normally when people have a heart that beats too fast, it comes from the right atrium - the side that the normal electrical wiring comes from.  It is kind of like adding a jumper wirer in- you fix it by removing/burning the jumper wirer.  I already knew that mine wasn't from the right side due to the previous attempts at fixing my heart.  You can have the same problem just in the left atrium.  I already knew that wasn't the only thing wrong.  When they tried to burn the left side of my heart before, they found numerous "wires".  You can only burn so many before you cause too much damage.

So the EP dr said he thinks I have a jumper wire and some other shorting wires in my left heart.  The problem is - one may be overlying my sinoatrial node (SA) - the normal pacemaker of the heart.  Not good.  And the left side is bad because the aorta is in such close proximity that things can go bad quick.

So the game plan is I take meds for the next 6 weeks.  I have to have a bunch of other things looked at outside of the heart to make sure none of them are contributing.  And then we will make a plan to go back for another ablation/burning of the heart.  He said they have a 95% success rate here.  So we will see.  I can't take the current meds and be pregnant, nor does he want me to stay on them long term especially if they can fix it.

My heart rate was in the 40's to mid-50's when I left the hospital.  That alone makes me feel like a slug.  I am hoping and praying that this can be fixed.  I don't like these meds.  The side effects are not pleasant.  I can't have any more babies until this all done with.  It is a bit scary to think of moving away from one of the few places that can deal with it.  And it is even scarier to think about having another ablation given how badly the last one went.

Until then - I just live with it.  And I was reminded by someone today that not everyone survives crazy arrhythmias in the ED.  So I am glad that mine can be relatively controlled, and that I CAN live with it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Becoming the patient -Part 1

Well I once told a friend that maybe at some point he would see me write about being a patient.  I guess that will be now because of current events.
 So here is a bit more about what has happened over the last few days.  I have a history of super ventricular tachycardia - my heart beats too fast.  I have had since medical school. It used to beat at 210/minute.  I had it controlled with meds and eventually with an ablation (burn the inside of your heart to remove the extra electrical paths).  I actually had 2 of these done during medical school.  Mine turned out to be a bit more complicated.  They knew at the end of the 2nd one that it wasn't completely successful.  I also had major complications from it and lost half of my blood into my abdomen from one of the wires they had used.  I spent 4 days in the cardiac icu in Baltimore.   I refused a blood transfusion because I knew where that blood pool came from.  (it wasn't really life or death, I was just going to be extremely weak and fatigued without it).  I was so short of breath for the next month.  I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs or more than one block at a time.  But overtime I got better.  My cardiologist told me that there were only 3 places in the country that he could send me to for my crazy heart.  Mayo happened to be one of them and I had just matched there for residency.

This is what mine looked like (not my actual one but very similar).
For the next 7 years I was ok.  I was on meds for 4 years and I would occasionally have some short runs of the fast heart rate.  But I could get it to stop.   I stopped taking the meds for it and my heart was still ok.   That is until this past Saturday.   Then it started going crazy.   After the ablation, when I did get svt my heart would usually beat at 140-160 and not the 210.  After being stuck in it for over an hour, I started to get short of breath.  We figured out a plan for the kids, and I got dropped off at the ED.   I could barely talk, just said "I'm in SVT" and handed them my Id card so they could look up my info.  I was whisked off to the critical bay in about 3 seconds.  I was soon poked, prodded, placed on oxygen.
The ED happened to a bit busy with lots of really sick patients.  In order to get my heart to slow down, they wanted to give me a medication that stops your heart for a few seconds.  Then the heart restarts and hopefully at the normal rate.  I have had this before while I was under deep sedation.  It is a very unpleasant feeling and caused me to actually wake up out of sedation to see my heart flat lined on the monitor.  Needless to say, I wasn't really looking forward to this.  So after a few hours of dealing with sicker patients, they finally got back to me.  They pushed the med.  The only way I can describe it is - you feel like you are laying on the bottom of a 12 foot deep -but empty pool.  Then the medicine pumps through you and it feels like the pool is suddenly being filled with hot water - like a giant hot wave is crashing down on you.  You feel like you can't breathe - that you are kind of being crushed.  But then your realize you can breathe and your heart starts to beat again.  Well - I felt all those things - but my heart didn't stop.  Just kept going.  Not good.  I got another med pushed through my IV, and after a few minutes my heart finally slowed down (it had been stuck for 4 hours at this point).  If that hadn't worked, I would have had to be shocked.  Also not pleasant and would require some sedation to do so.

More to come later....
What a normal ECG looks like.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Proud (or not so) Parenting Moments

Hmm.  For those of you who don't have kids, they call it the "terrible twos".  I think most would agree that it really isn't the terrible twos so much as what I call the "tantrum threes" which has crossed into four for us.

The Munchkin is four.  She has a type a personality.  Maybe a bit too much type a.  This past year has been a challenge with her.  The Tank was born a month before her 3rd birthday.  He spent a few weeks in the hospital.  And then he came home and life was different.  The Munchkin started throwing huge temper tantrums.  Luckily (or not so) she only has them in front of us.  Never at school or in public.  But dang it takes a toll on us.  She usually gets set off by being tired and frustrated.  She has it in her type a mind that things have to be just so.  And when they aren't, watch out world.  In her four year old mind, things can only be just one way.

We tried different methods to curb these tantrums.  Not much worked.  And then she decided that she didn't need to nap anymore.  One word.  Disaster.  She would start to fall asleep at school, and then would wake herself up saying that her body wasn't tired.  Yeah right.  We tried everything to get her to take naps.  Nothing worked.  Until I came up with the most brilliant idea.  Money.  Yep.  I pay her to take naps.  Proud parenting moment.  She doesn't have much concept of money, but just likes putting it in her piggy bank.  So she'll get a penny or whatever change I have if her daycare sheet says she took a nap.  And guess what.  It has worked.  She usually takes a nap most days at school, and even is taking longer naps.  My coin purse no longer weighs a ton.  It is a win win.

The other method that has helped - happy face chart.  There was a recent weekend that she was in time out at least once/hour.  Not a good situation.  I made a smiley face chart.  So for every hour she went with out whining or screaming at us, then she got a stamp/sticker on the chart.  The next day - she got a stamp every hour she was awake.  There is no end to the chart.  She hasn't asked what she gets.  But the type a in her just wants to have as many stamps on the chart that she can get.  And it has been 3 weeks.  She is having maybe 1 tantrum a week instead of several/day.

Life is better.  I may not have a quarter to feed the meter anymore, but I have my sanity.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The fears of a doctor

I have recently flown on several flights.  I feel like I get more nervous each time I fly.  Yesterday, I had two flights on relatively small planes.  And small planes really bounce in turbulence - which I am not a fan of.  As I was death gripping the armrest and praying that we wouldn't drop out of the sky, I realized that if I knew what made the pilots nervous then maybe I wouldn't be so anxious.  I pictured them up front joking about the bumpy ride and realized that this is probably not the things that make them nervous.  But I am just a lay person - I have no idea what gets the blood pumping in the pilots.

But I do know what makes my heart race in the Neonatal ICU.  And it came to me that maybe parents of preemies would be a bit more at ease if we let them know what really got us nervous.  If I didn't know anything about the alarms and disease processes in the NICU, I would be a wreck if I saw my own kid going through it all.

So here is a list of the things that really get me on edge in the NICU:
1. Grade 4 head bleeds - in the short term babies can have a really hard time with bleeding issues but I am much more worried about long term issues.  If babies survive the short term issues, they still may need a VP shunt for "water on the brain" or hydrocephalus.  But the neuro outcomes after this are quite poor.  Sure a few babies can be normal after a grade 4, but the majority have severe disabilities and delays.  And it is so hard to make life changing decisions at the time when your baby looks like a baby, but when a 2 year old or 5 year old still looks like a baby-I think families realize the severity of the situation.
2. Babies that are still on the vent after a month or so.  I get worried that the baby may never come off.  Or they will need a trach.  Which in and of itself isn't bad, but the quality of life may be quite different (nurses living in you home, etc).
3. Necrotizing enterocolitis requiring surgery.  This can become such a mess.  Sometimes it is a quick surgery and things get better.  But sometimes a baby loses a lot of bowel and then they develop lots and lots of complications over time.  And some get NEC again.  And usually then other organs get damaged.
4. Seizures.  Babies that keep seizing have poor outcomes.  If it takes more than 1 drug to stop them, the outcomes are usually quite severe.  When it takes continuous infusions of meds to stop them, I start to question what the quality of life is going to be and are we doing the right thing.
5. Term infants that come out and have something wrong that was found on prenatal screening.  Probably makes me more nervous of being a mom that this happens to versus what the actual outcomes are.
6. Codes.  Not so much the code itself, but if I have to do chest compressions for more than a few seconds and I start pushing drugs, I really worry about what I am doing to the brain.

And for now that is all I can think of.  Sure some other things might get me worried, but really this is the list that makes my heart pound.  And I know some of you have experienced a few of these things.  Or a lot of these things.  My goal in life would be to have parents tell me they really knew what decisions they were or were not making.  Maybe by reading this, others will have a little less anxiety too over all the dinging and beeping that goes on.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The dreams, the reality, and the life.

Where did I just come up with such a title?  So you remember how I wrote about the life of a doctor way back here?  Well I am finally interviewing for a job.  You know - my very first real job.  Ever.  So maybe my life isn't quite so on hold anymore.  And it is exciting and scary.  But I know that something good will happen.
But at the same time, I have dreams.  And dreams that have nothing to do with medicine.  I have lived such a dichotomous life.   The artful, designer side and the studious, medical side.  There are times where I wished the former had won out over the latter.  Don't get me wrong, neonatology is great and I love being with families and helping them through some of the hardest moments.  But darn Pinterest - it pulls at my little heartstrings.  I see a picture of something so beautifully created, like these amazing tables from this amazing person over here.  

And I just get a bit of knife feeling in the gut.  I just start thinking of all the things I could be creating - especially like the table lady does with all recovered materials.
How do I merge those dreams with the reality that I am a physician?  There is not enough time to create these pieces just as a hobby.  If I tried- it would probably take me months.  I am not patient enough for those results (that is why I am in intensive care after all).
So the husband and I have agreed that we can leave medicine once the loans are paid off.  Not saying that I will leave medicine sooner than retirement.  But I might.  And he might.  And maybe we will become this well known couple that designs and creates amazing furniture.
And it is times that I am thinking like this that I wish my dad was still on this earth.  He was an architect.   He had visions and was able to create.  And when he died, he was just finishing one of his greatest projects.  The irony is that he died of a heart attack.  
John Nasseff Heart Hospital
It has been nearly 12 years since he passed away.  I was in college at the time and too young and naive to have conversations about what his dreams really were.  But I hope he was living them.  
And maybe someday I will get to merge my reality, life, and dreams all into one.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A little Re-nest shout out

So I got a little blog recognition today from  Have you ever seen their site?  It is a part of the apartment therapy group of blogs.  Re-nest is the green design blog.  Well if you happen over there, you may just see my recent headboard project featured:)  It is king of funny how this all came to be, and the husband may have had something to do with it.  But if you are coming over here from re-nest- welcome!  I don't have a ton of time to blog- but I usually blog about DIY projects, food, or home life.  I usually blog once a week or so.

And in honor of Halloween and my DIY stuff, I thought I would tell you about the Halloween costume I made for the Tank.  I usually make the kids' Halloween costumes.  This year the Munchkin wanted to be a princess at school.  And we had a nice warm ladybug costume for nighttime.  And the Tank had a horse costume that was given to us.  But I just couldn't not make a costume.  So I decided last minute to make the Tank a costume.  I pondered some pictures on the web, but just didn't like any.  Then I remembered I had some insulation/foam panels in the garage (from trying to make this headboard- which was a total disaster).  So what can a girl make from foam panels- but of course a Lego.  So I cut out some circles from the foam, glued them to another rectangle piece (front of the costume/Lego).  Then shaved out some circles from another rectangle piece (the back piece).  Wrote "LEGO" on the circles in glue so it was a bit raised.  Spray painted everything red.  Stapled some yarn to the inside top of the two rectangles and the sides.  Then hung it on the Tank. (like a sandwich board)  And he promptly ripped it apart.  I tried to duct tape the pieces together- yep ripped that apart too.  And it went in the trash before I could get pictures.  So sad.  It was so cute.  Maybe next year I will make it again.  So instead he wore the Munchkin's penguin costume (that I made) from last year.  He was cute.  And the Munchkin was cute in her (store bought) ladybug costume.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

DIY: Not your every day headboard

As you may remember, I think I have been a DIY'er ever since I was born - well maybe since I learned how to use power tools in junior high.  The internet has greatly helped my abilities and spawned many a new ideas.

When we first got married, I made several pieces of furniture for our apartment because we were dirt poor and couldn't buy anything because I had so much extra time on my hands being a med student and all.  I made a headboard, bench for end of bed, and a banquette.  The headboard was recovered a few years later when I changed out the duvet cover.  And now I have redone it again.  But a bit different.

The first version was just a piece of plywood covered with batting and a blanket then framed out with trim.  The second version lost the frame and was covered in a deep chocolate brown and had 3 buttons (no picture).

And now it is a woven headboard.  I got the starter idea from Lowes creative ideas website.  But I wanted to change it up a bit. (UPDATE - Lowes removed the page that spurred my idea)

And here is how I made it  for a queen size (bit different than the Lowe's directions).
What you need: 8ft sheet 1/4" plywood, 2 pieces 1X4 by 6' wood, fabric (I used 3 yds cream corduroy and 2/3 yd orange/cream pinstripe), batting (I reused what was on the old headboard)

1. 1/4" plywood - cheapest one I could find.
2. Had Lowes cut it into 9.5" strips length wise
3. I then cut 3 long strip into 2 pieces - 62" which left 34" pieces for the short pieces
4. Cut another long strip into 2 additional 34" strips (total of 3 long and 5 short pieces)
5. Used spray adhesive and attached 1" (can't use much thicker or it's too hard to weave the boards together) batting strips to wood.
6. Cut strips of fabric 14" wide and 66" or 38" long.
7. Covered batting with strips of fabric.  Secured undersides using wood glue (tried spray adhesive, glue gun, and staples (too long and went through board) but surprisingly wood glue worked the best).
Glued on batting
8. Pulled fabric taut - this is where the wood glue was the best.  I secured one long edge and then the next.  Went back to first long edge (glue was tacky but not dry) and readjusted by pulling more taut.  Repeated on the second edge - got a really nice tight wrap on the fabric and when glue dried I could not pry up fabric without ripping -so pretty darn secure.  Don't secure ends yet.

Fabric wrapped
9. Now time to weave the boards (trying to do this from memory because the directions are no longer on the Lowes site).
- Place the 3 long boards face down next to each other.
- Start with the middle short board face down and weave into long boards - i made it so the 2 outer and 1 middle boards (in white in picture below) had their ends on the right side of the headboard.
- I vaguely remember having to weave through the top and middle long boards with all of the short boards and then adding the bottom long board last.
- Sorry I can't remember this part very well - never thought to copy the Lowes directions down.
- I think when I made the mistakes with this step had to do with the outer short pieces and having them opposite of what they needed to be.
10. Make sure everything is square board by board- truly important step.

11. I attached boards together with screws instead of glue - much easier and less wait time.  I used whatever screws I could find laying around the workbench.  Some were 3/8" long (had to pull out batting so that it would secure into 2nd board) and some were 5/8" - left batting and sometime put extra fabric as spacer so it wouldn't puncture all the way through.
12. Folded over and stapled remaining ends of fabric.  I pulled it taut or smoothed out any wrinkles that may have developed from the weaving step.  I folded the long ends first.  Then wrapped the short ends over it to give it a nice finished look.
Stapled Fabric

Wrapped edges after weaving boards together

12. Made frame from 1x4.  Cut each piece at 19" so I had 2x19" pieces and 2x41" strips.  Again different than Lowes.  I glued the pieces together and then stapled them at the joints on both sides.  The staples don't really add much but I didn't have to wait for the glue to dry.

13.  Attached frame to headboard with screws (didn't use spacer strips like Lowes as this frame is mounted on wide side of frame boards instead of edges -didn't want it to stick out from wall so much and don't think they will warp too much).  Stand it up and make sure it is level - so even if the head board (or frame) is just a bit off square (not noticeably so) you can tweak the frame just a bit to account for this so that in the end it is level.

14. I found where the studs were on the wall I was going to hang it on (usually 16" apart) and then made sure my D-rings were mounted on the frame at the points where the studs were so I didn't have to use anchors.  This was easy for me because the studs were perfectly centered around the center of the wall I was hanging it from.
15.  Attached 2 d-rings to frame.
16. Placed a screw into each stud (I think I used 2" long screws -again whatever I had in the garage) don't screw in all the way - I left about 3/4" out of the wall.

Frame attached
17. Hang on wall. (Ignore the white spots on wall from old headboard - I forgot to account for the drop in height from D-rings so now I need to paint the wall to cover old holes.)

Finished product
And those are DIY lamp shades and nightstand boxes.  I took the photos that are above the bed.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

To be a Lute...

I think once upon a blog post, I said I would tell you how I ended up at the college that I did.  As with most things in my life, it has a bit of a funny story to it.

So I went to a fairly large high school (about 680 in my graduating class).  Most people went onto college.  Most stayed within the state or the neighboring Cheesehead state.

But I had other notions.  Prior to the summer before senior year of high school, I had never been west of the state border.  I had been to Fl, but really no where else.  Other than the Cheesehead state.  But the summer before senior year, I went on a mission trip to Montana.  It was the first time I saw real mountains.  And I was amazed.  So I decided I would go to college in the Northwest.  Around this same time, I tossed out all the college brochures for architecture and switched to chemistry.  I never went to a college fair, but a boy that I was dating at the time did.  So I looked through his brochures and picked up a little wallet sized fold out brochure.  It had a picture of a mountain on the front cover and little words that said "Pacific Lutheran University".  I tore off the back little card that you could send in for more information (this was pre-internet days - hard to imagine).  So then I get the full sized brochure.  And another bigger picture of Mt. Rainier.  There was also a picture of the crew team and the science lab.  So I sent off for more information - and a bigger picture of Rainier was sent back.  And then I send in an application.

I never visited any of the 3 colleges I applied to.  I did all my interviews by phone.  So I am not really sure how I picked the school that I did, but I went to PLU and became a "Lute".  And my first time ever to the state of WA was the day I moved into my college dorm.  I got on a plane and just went.  By myself.  Not knowing a single sole in the entire state.  But I survived.  And I had a pretty darn good time.  And I rowed for two years (before a darn boat crash forever ruined my shoulder).  And I got to see amazing sunrises over Mt. Rainier every morning when it wasn't raining or too foggy.

And I spent a lot of time in the "open science lab".  I got a degree.   I moved all the way to other Washington when I was done.  And the first Sunday I walked into church in DC, a very old couple stopped me because they saw the "PLU" bumper sticker.  Turns out they had graduated from their 50 years before (back when it was Pacific Lutheran College).  I have seen PLU stickers around the country since then.

But the world kind of opened up the day that little brochure popped into my hand and I became a "Lute".

"Hey Lutes"
"Go Lutes"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What a year it has been...

So I have been mulling over what this past year has been like with the Tank.  So many events recently are  making me reflect on what our experience was with the little man and just how far we have come.

So to recap the initial events (and by the way this has to do with bodily fluids so stop now if it is too gross.)  Tank was born at 34 weeks, spent a night on the ventilator because his lungs weren't quite ready, and because he was a bit sick, was given IV antibiotics for 2 days to ensure that he didn't have infection.  He was fed via a feeding tube for 2 weeks while he learned how to eat.  Most babies poop within the first 24-48 hours of life, and if it is longer than that the baby may have a problem with the intestines.  Tank pooped on day 3 -but that is not horribly abnormal for a preterm (especially one that is born much earlier) infant.  So we noted it -but didn't get too worried.  Then as the feeds increased - and he had to get formula because there wasn't enough BM, well he started puking.  I could pretty much guarantee that every morning I would find him covered in puke (he would get the formula over night).  As more BM came in, then it seemed he didn't puke quite as much.  And he started pooping more.  But not as much as most BM fed babies do.

So finally we get him home and within a week or two - the pooping stops and the puking gets horrible.  He started projectile vomiting - and not just with a little heave -but literally shot it 10 ft across the room.  We would stand with him over the sink so it would at least just land there.  All feeds had to occur on the hardwood floor so we could clean up the puke -because we never knew where it was going to land.  So back to the dr we went.  Abdominal X-ray was little abnormal (which apparently his 2 in the NICU were as well).  But figured we would wait and see how the next week went.  We had tried several different formulas (used to supplement the BM) and nothing seemed to help.  As we left the dr.'s I ran into someone.  And a long story short - we got donated BM - a whole entire freezer (actually had to go buy a deep freezer).  We were hoping that would help the puking - it did a little -but not significantly.  And at this point, he hadn't pooped on his own for several weeks.

The next month spiraled out of control.  He required enemas, suppositories, Miralax daily to poop.  The vomiting was non-stop.  We tried probiotics, zantac (at extremely high dosing - 10 mg/kg for those that know this stuff -usual is 2-4 mg/kg) and nothing helped.  I pulled strings (hate to do that but I was desperate) and saw GI.  They asked me how many x/day Tank was puking.  I estimated 50.  I later counted - it was about 75-100 times/day.  8x per feed, 8 feeds/day, and then 2-3x in-between feeds.  It was a lot.  They watched me try to feed him - he was becoming orally averted at this point.  Tank would want to eat - tried to suck -then would start screaming -over and over again.  And then he would puke.  And this is how every feed went.  They confirmed that this was a problem - I started crying.  I thought I had been making too much of a big deal out of it.  It was such a relief to have them say that there was a serious problem and that we had to find an answer.  At this point I had 2-3 weeks left of maternity leave.

More tests, biopsies, meeting with the surgeon.  Everyone thought he had Hirschsprung's disease (the nerve endings are missing in the colon -so the colon doesn't move -ie no pooping - the thing that you are supposed to think of if a baby doesn't poop during the first day of life).  The surgeon was so convinced that we actually scheduled surgery, signed the consent forms - before the biopsy was back.  Surgery (to remove the colon) was to be the day before Thanksgiving - I was supposed to go back to work Monday after Thanksgiving.  Then the biopsies came back normal.  And we were back to square one.

But during all the tests- he had a barium swallow study.  Barium is very heavy - and it was the only feed that the Tank never puked up.  So a light bulb went on- and we tried thickening Tank's feeds.  And it was like magic.  The puking became spit-up - about 10x day - and only a rare projectile.  I no longer had to use towels as burp rags.  It was almost like having a normal baby.  But the other end still didn't work - but we could manage that.  So we never got answers - but at least the quality of life got dramatically better.

And so that continued for 7 months - in those months the Tanked pooped on his own only a handful of times.  But then he had a course of Augmentin for an ear infection - and again it was magic.  He had lots of poop -all on his own.  And then we stopped the Augmentin-and it continued.  And that was the end of it.  We finally stopped thickening his feeds at 10 months (we had tried before several times but the puke always returned).

And at the end of all of this, I mourned the loss of having a newborn.  I am sure this is how many parents of preemies/sick babies feel (and honestly parents of micro-preemies -I have no idea how you do it and stay sane as this was nothing compared to what you go through).  But as I held a brand new term baby last week, it just made me realize even more what I missed out on.  There was never any taking naps/snuggling on the couch together, there were very few trips out, there was just constant bouncing/swaying/cleaning up the puke/praying that things would get better.  And once they all did - I had this giant sized baby.  And I am so grateful for what we do have-a healthy/happy 1 year old-which is far more than lots of parents I know.  Luckily for me -he does like to snuggle now.  But it's not the same.

So when someone tells me that their baby is a big time puker, my heart goes out to them.  It is a miserable life -one that I didn't realize how bad it was (it's just puke right) until we were out of it.  Life can be too short - and we need to do more to optimize the quality of life we do have.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Munchkin is 4

So some how I am a mother to a 4 year old.  Already.  Perhaps that is why I now have so many "blonde" highlights.  Or the fact that I am getting older.  And I still don't have my first job.  And on that front - I am starting to interview - so just when you are thinking about changing your career after 10+ years - well I will finally be getting my first job.  I probably shouldn't change my mind about my career at this point.

But back to the point.  The munchkin is 4 this week.  I have to write a little bit about there birth, because it  is a bit funny when looking back at it.  I had worked really hard the last week of September.  I started swelling a ton - perhaps due to the fact that I was drinking 7 liters. a day.  And I am pretty sure I wasn't get rid of that much!  I had 2 crazy nights at work.  All the babies were deciding to deliver at the same time and I was just running from room to room to resuscitate.  That nearly did me in.  But I made it through and then had to cover the hospital service 2 days later.  And on a weekend you would usually get a handful at most of admissions.  Not that day/night.  We had close to 10.  So again- nearly did me in.  And then the next day I was on a blissful month of research.  A couple of days later, I spent the day washing all the baby clothes, organizing the room, and put the car seat in the car.  I spent one of the nights scrubbing my oven.  With oven cleaner.  Which I had never done before (nor have I since!)  I was 35 weeks along.  And then I decided to bring coffee to a friend who had just had a baby a few weeks before.  We sat on her couch all afternoon talking and me resting with my feet up.  I finally felt good after the crazy week before.  Went home that night and all was well.

And then I went to bed.  30 min later I woke up after I thought I had to pee.  And have you ever fallen asleep on the potty - well I have - kind of one of those little nod offs.  Well I did that, and then woke up a couple of seconds later and realized there was no way I could still be peeing a gallon of water.  Oh wait.  That would be my water breaking.  Denial.  Got back into bed.  Thought I was peeing my pants - woke up the husband.  Still in denial.  Decided to take a shower, cause if I was going into labor - at least I would be clean:)  We decided to call the triage nurse, who promptly laughed when we told her that we thought my water broke and I was 35 weeks.  Of course I had to come in.  Well I still waited.  I was terrified that I would be the one they told "No - your water didn't break - you are just peeing on yourself." (Remember I had been drinking 7 liters a day - maybe all of it was finally come out - or so I told myself.)  So I finally threw somethings together, and we made our way to the hospital.  We got to the triage area, and they were going to check me down there when I started laughing and more water came pouring out.  The nurses got a laugh out of us when they realized it was us who had called in (a family med doctor who delivers babies, and a pediatrician - seriously didn't we know better!)

Born with lots of dark brown hair!

The skinniest little legs!

Of course I was in labor.  All went fairly well except the anesthesiologist didn't give me the little bolus button for my epidural.  And the darn thing wore off as I was pushing.  And I started hallucinating. Until I realized it was because "I CAN FEEL EVERYTHING" which is what I started yelling.  They got that fixed and then out popped the munchkin.  5 lbs, 14 oz and 19 3/4 " - at 35 4/7 weeks.

First birthday -the hair grew back in blonde as can be!
And about 10 hours after getting up to go potty, we became parents for the first time.

And the rest is history.
2nd Birthday
3rd Birthday -no longer a toddler.
And now 4.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I ironed my walls

So I recently joined Pintereset, and have started looking around at some great DIY ideas.  And I came across this one about making your own iron on wall art.  And I thought- hmm - I have tons of left over fabric from a million and one projects.  And I hate how plain and drab our walls are (but we refuse to paint because we are going to sell it soon).
Boring corner.  Wall art in an attempt to bring color.
And we have this little wall art thing that we said we were going to paint a square of colored paint behind just to add a little bit of punch.

Close up - even with color in it still looks drab.
 And so instead of painting, I figured I would iron on some fabric - then no repainting when we sell it.  Brilliant.
 I found a large scrap piece of blue/gray fabric from a duvet I made.  I had some pellon transfer/fusible.  I didn't have a ton so I just cut strips and ironed them around the edges of the square.  This fabric frays so I tucked the edges and pressed them into the other side of fusible.  Skip this step if you are using jersey/non-fraying fabric.

And then I ironed it to the wall.  The directions for pellon say to use a damp press cloth.  I didn't - but I set the iron to no steam and the iron has a steam burst button.  I just used the steam burst as I held the iron on the wall.  Worked great.

Square fabric with transfer already ironed to edges.

Ironed onto wall.
 And then I rehung the wall art (I actually had to peel back the fabric to find my nail holes.  It peeled back perfectly, and then I just reironed it once the nails were in place.
Oops-didn't quite have a big enough piece- will just move up the bottom pieces of art.
 And I think it makes quite a bit of difference.  The color of the art piece really pops out now.  Still a very boring corner - but I think much better.
A mini window in a boring corner.
Watch out walls - I have about 100 yards of fabric just waiting for projects.  I have endless ideas.  Stripes, squares, words........

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Once A Month Cooking -Edition 2

So awhile ago I mentioned how I started doing "Once a month cooking".  And a lot of you have been reading that post.  So I thought I would do a little update.

This summer (which now seems to be over already - but I refuse to turn on the heat yet.  Just can't do that when it is still technically summer.  Must move soon) I didn't do it as much because we just ate whatever came out of the garden.  But it seems that those days are over.  So back to OAMC.

I have made the following since the last post:
Gnocchi: I love gnocchi.  This recipe bakes it instead of boiling, and I really liked the results.  It made a ton, and now can easily have single serving dinners ready in no time.  I make a sauce from this recipe to go with it.
Empanadas: I used this as an idea, but really make any empanadas you like.  I use pie dough rolled thin as the crust because I don't have time to make it.  I can make about 12-16 empanadas from 2 pie crusts that come in the box.  And if you haven't made emapanadas - you should.  Quick and easy.  Put whatever you like inside of it.  I like black beans/cheese/veggies.  Or mushrooms/goat cheese/spice.  Or kohlrabe/potato combos.
Cauliflower penne: Think of this as a grown up mac n cheese.  This is one of my favorites.  Takes a bit time, so makes for a great freezer recipe because it is the number of steps that takes time.  Easy to make it in bulk.  I just freeze it before I bake it - so will need more time to bake or thaw it first.  Seriously try it.  My brother who has to have meat with every meal loved it! And he didn't need meat for that meal:)

Baked penne: I don't have a recipe for this as I just make it up every time.
A box of penne - boil until al dente
16 oz of ricotta
A ball of mozzarella (I like to use the balls and rip it up instead of using the pre shredded stuff)
A ton of tomatoes or a jar of sauce.  I used fresh tomatoes - score them, drop them in the boiling water before you cook the pasta- remove after a minute and plunge into ice water.  Then the skins peel right off. Chop them up.
1 egg
Spices - I like basil and fresh oregano

Once the pasta is cooked and drained - add everything else to the pot and mix with the pasta.  Once everything is a bit melted, pour into 8x8 pans.  Cook in 400 F oven for 25-30 minutes -until cheese is bubbling.
I freeze one tray and then thaw it before cooking.

Kabocha Soup
Vegetable korma: This makes an absolute ton of food.  I really liked it.  It says it makes 16 servings - I think it makes more than that.  So cut it in half if you are a bit nervous the first time!
Curry tofu quesadillas:  I don't really like tofu, but this was excellent.  Don't get the "tofu" taste but adds protein.  I just froze the leftover mix, and will thaw it and add to fresh tortillas.
Kabocha coconut curry soup: So so good.  The corn/cilantro relish makes the soup!  I use fresh corn for it.  Just slice off the cob and boil for a few minutes.  I also add a bit dollop of sour cream when serving.  Freezes great - just make the relish when you want to serve it.  I freeze soups in 1 qt mason jars as that is the perfect amount for 2 adult dinners.
Beet, rhubarb, orange salad
Roasted beet, rhubarb, orange salad: Oh my goodness. So good.  Fresh beets and rhubarb from the garden.  But I roasted and froze a bunch of beets, and will freeze some raw rhubarb to make again!
Chocolate chip zucchini bread: Had a giant zucchini from the garden. I got 4+ cups of zucchini from it.  So made half into bread and then shredded the remaining and froze it for another day.  For all recipes that say to use oil, I always use applesauce or yogurt.
Pumpkin chocolate chip bread: This is for muffins, but I am too lazy.  I made it into 2 bread loaves.  Cooked at 350 for 45 minutes or so - just watch it and test for doneness.

I think I made some other stuff, but can't remember.  So that's the update for now!

Do you ever do something that you think is so clever that you just smile about it every time you remember what you did?  Well I had one of those moments.  After making all this food, I throw it place it nicely in the crates in the freezer.  And then I have to remember what is in there.  I saw other people hang a whiteboard/chalk board near the freezer and list everything that is in there.  So I decided to make my own version.

What's in my freezer? 
And guess what?  That isn't a whiteboard.  It occurred to me that I could probably write right on the freezer.  And I did -and it does erase off.  And these little markers have built in magnets and erasers.  So this is actually the side of my freezer.  And color coded.  And don't worry - when it says "ground beef" it is actually just my homemade substitute.  I haven't secretly started eating meat.  Well other than what I mentioned here.
I'm so clever;)
So now you can go cook a ton, and remember what you made once it is in the freezer.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Tank is 1

My little man turned one last week while we were on vacation.  So hard to believe.  I still remember the feeling of being pregnant with him.  He would be all calm and still, and then go on a frenzy of kicking and punching.  Where as the Munchkin was always moving but just very little movements and flutters.  Well that has held true to both of their personalities.  The Tank can be so calm and peaceful.  But then he turns into captain destructo.  He has mastered unlocking/opening of cabinets in no time -including some that the Munchkin still can't open.  I think we are in trouble.

So here are some pictures from birth and last week.  When ever someone asks how old he is, there is usually a comment that follows about how big he is.  And yes.  I think he is currently the average size of a 2 year old.  So much for being a preemie!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I One tomato two...

So remember when I showed pictures of our crazy little garden back in July?  Well those plants were quite happy, especially the tomatoes!

But first I have to tell the sad story of my squash plant.  So I picked up a 4 squash seed mix last spring - mainly because I wanted kabocha squash and couldn't find the seeds. So I tried to guess which seeds were kabocha and planted a few of those.  Well I guessed wrong.  The giant squash plant that grew from our box started rapidly putting out little squashes.  It took several weeks to figure out that they were spaghetti squash -my absolute least favorite.  I was so bummed because I had 10 of them growing from one little plant.  But I got over it.  Because that is was a farmer city girl does.

So I found all these recipes.  And I found friends that liked them.  And then came the attack of the bugs.  I saw a little vine rot and figured I had vine borers.  But I wasn't too worried because the rest of the vine seemed healthy.  And then I picked a squash.  And saw a little "bruise" on it.  So I tried to cut it off - and was met by a writhing little bugger.  So GROSS.  I went and checked all the squash.  Every last one of them had little holes in them.  And in the meantime - a tiny little butternut squash had popped up.  And it too was being eaten by the squash borer.  So I had to rip up all the vines.  And woah when I did -that thing was filled with maggots I can't even say that word it was so darn gross.  So that will be the end of my organic squash growing days.

But the tomatoes - they are in a whole different world.  My one cherry tomato plant has put out at least 3-4 lbs so far (and it is still flowering and producing more new tomatoes)! I have made too numerous too count bowls of caprese salad -which might just be my most favorite thing to eat.

And the roma tomatoes in the community garden are going crazy.  I turned 6 lbs into 7 quarts of salsa.  And another 7 lbs of orange, red, and romas into crushed tomatoes and froze them.  And I am not done yet.
1 lb bags of crushed tomatoes

We have one plant I have no idea what it is doing.  Each tomato weighs well over a pound -maybe even closer to 2!  And it is full of green tomatoes.  And I bet they turn red while on vacation.  And I may not get to find out what they are.

The first red 1 lb tomato -can't appreciate the scale of this thing!
So the bottom line - I think I will only plant 2 tomato plants next year.