The quickest post ever

Hi all,

I know Aaron did something like this a while back but I just wanted to list some sites we are working on more regularly…

www.360lean.com  – well I am in the midst of fixing this one, so stay tuned. ;)

www.bornwithcholesteatoma.net – Born With Cholesteatoma – Parents support site for kids with cholesteatoma

futurehealth.360lean.com – FutureHealth @ 360 Lean, a blog focused on digital health and medicine

ecoganicfamily.com – a sort of Digg site for natural and organic products, natural lifestyle etc.

Aaron’s main pride and joy right now is

 

The Bottle Farm – his new homebrewing blog which he greatly enjoys

so, stop by and take a look at any of these, and say hi!

5 Years Ago…

Aaron and I celebrate our 5 year anniversary today, and 9 years together. I don’t usually post such things, but I wrote this for him. :)
because he was kind, and put my foglight covers on, even before I knew him…
because he told me funny stories over the Internet…
because we saw the US become mortal in one day….
because he let me drive his stick shift in a race, of all things…
because we used to roam New England just to discover…
because he shoveled my car off in the morning when I parked on the street…
because he learned to love cats, even crazy ones…
because he understood my stranger anxieties…
because he loved the outdoors…
because he snorkeled despite getting seasick on the way…
because we watched the Subarus scream through the woods… pssssh! psssh!
because he met the family, and thought they were nice…
because he finished his degree when he could have let it go…
because he made exercising and eating mindfully part of his life…
because he bought a kayak to go with me…
because he unhooked the fish I caught for me…
because he proposed to me on a hike, next to a lake…
because we promised to help each other realize our dreams…
because we said a sudden goodbye to a friend together…
because he rode behind me when we trained…
because we crossed the PMC finish line as a team…
because he got creative in cooking…
because he took me to town after a week camping in the rain…
because he was nervous when he signed the house papers…
because he built a chicken coop with his Dad…
because he reused a pallet to make the chicks’ brooder…
because he relished being an Uncle to his many nephews and nieces…
because he cheered me on at all the races he wasn’t also in…
because he drove a sick alpaca to the large animal hospital with me in the middle of night…
because he was confident the moment he found out we were having a baby…
because he wrangled the farm animals for most of the next year…
because he joined a CSA and goes to the farmers market every week he can…
because he rode his bicycle 140 miles in a day…
because he rode another 250 miles less than a week later…
because he read several books about becoming a Dad…
because he stayed by my side when I was in labor…
because he welcomed our daughter into the world…
because he held her gently even when he was exhausted…
because he held me gently even when he was exhausted…
because he shows his daughter his love every day…
because he is excited to be a Dad again…
because he is the kindest, caring person I know…
because we are so much better when we’re together…
because he knows everything will be ok…
and because I love him…
I am so proud and happy to share our ninth year together
and our fifth year anniversary of our wedding…
today.

The dark days of winter…

I told Aaron the other night I have a hard time looking at pictures of Abby from November and December. Maybe someday soon I will not, but right now, it’s still a little close in memory. Abby was born weighing 7 lbs 3.5 ounces, and I wanted very much to breastfeed her exclusively. Since she was born over the weekend, the only chance to see the hospital lactation consultant was the Monday of our discharge, and it turns out she called in sick that day. We had told the nursery that I would be breastfeeding, and when she wasn’t with us (some time away so we slept), they brought her to me and the nurses tried, though in brief moments, to show me how to nurse. But it wasn’t their job, so we were left mostly to muddle through.
Getting home, we quickly made an appointment with a nearby Lactation Consultant, who came out, weighed her, showed me some techniques and so on. We set up another visit later in the week to measure progress. Some of these details are now a blur, but in short she wasn’t gaining weight very much early on. She got weighed at home a few times. She never lost more than 10% of her weight, but what she did lose just wasn’t coming back quickly. I talked to people, went to the mom’s group, kept trying things. I went through the weeks of nipple soreness before things started getting better, including using prescribed all purpose nipple ointment (which, by the way, is terrific!!).
Aaron was so diligent in bringing her to me in the middle of the night, so that I could get precious extra moments of sleep. With her, almost always also came a snack and water or drink. I took Fenugreek, ate oatmeal, drank more water. I read websites and books. I worried about it. Her pediatrician had not indicated any immediate concerns, and at one of her subsequent (I think 6 wk) check up, she finally seemed to be headed forward, even though she was still not at her birth weight. I remember calling the LC with the good news that the pediatrician was telling us to keep going. He did however, suggest we make an appointment for her to be checked by the GI to rule out anything else. I did, but it was going to be several weeks away, given the holiday timing. In the meanwhile, I relaxed, and tried to finally just enjoy being with her.
She smiled and cooed, she had wet diapers and pooped that glorious orangy breastfeeding baby poop regularly, and she slept a fair amount. She nursed both sides, for several minutes, sometimes falling asleep at the breast. All of these were seemingly normal baby activities. By this time, I’d started pumping, so that once in a while she was taking bottles of expressed milk as well. Other milk I was freezing in hopes of putting milk away for my return to work.
Pumping was not easy, I’d get anywhere between .5-2 ounces after feeding her or in between feedings. But all the info I had read said this too was normal, that the breastpump wasn’t as good as a baby at expressing the milk and not to measure success by output. It also hurt much more than I’d expected, so I tried different flanges, different intensities, different times. It all seemed about the same. As a new mom, I didn’t have a sense of scale – if this was wrong and how so.
And then came the 3 month check up, about two days before the GI appointment. They stripped her down, and she weighed 7 lbs 5 ounces.
At her 3 month appointment.
She was just 1.5 ounces over her birth weight.
I was crushed by that news, when I knew her peers were weighing in at 9 or more pounds by now. However, the pediatrician still didn’t indicate he saw a problem and to start supplementing. This was unusual, as I’d heard most pediatricians turn to formula pretty quickly. So I was more confused than ever, but I knew this was not right. I spent the next few days very anxiously waiting for the pediatric GI referral.
The doctor listened to what we said, then weighed her, and we sat down to talk. He was not happy with what was going on, and was stopping just short of ordering her hospitalization. We agreed to start to aggressively supplement – after every breastfeeding, we were going to give a bottle of either stored breastmilk or formula. We’d try it for a few days, with a check in call over the weekend, and if it didn’t help her to gain weight, we were going to the hospital.
I wanted to curl into a ball and cry. I still do, now… had she been starving all this time?
We went home, ready to execute the new plan. We started her on Similac organic (which in hindsight was ok, but I’d probably choose a different organic if I had to again) after she’d had access to a full breastfeeding. I read more, and we made an appointment with a new lactation consultant who rented us both a scale and hospital pump. I reviewed feeding and pumping techniques with her. She was very calming, and gave me hope that nursing and breastmilk still had a role to play. I switched to More Milk Special blend caps (from the tea/fenugreek), then ultimately Domperidone. We started weighing her every day. It was early December.
And she started gaining. In fact, in just a few days, in time for the follow up with the GI, she’d put on over half a pound. We were relieved it wasn’t a digestion or metabolism issue. But I felt guilty about how long it’d been going on, how maybe it was something I’d done, or not done. I broke down crying in the new moms group shortly after the GI appointment. It took me a few weeks to at least find some peace with going to supplementing, but it was made so much easier by seeing her gaining weight, starting to catch up to her birth month babies. And I kept at the pumping and feeding so that as I went to work, each day I was able to send her with two to three bottles of breast milk. The most I ever pumped, as a result of multiple 40 minute sessions, was 11 ounces in a day. Most days were closer to 8, just barely enough for the bottles.
It turns out she loved and loves eating. Over the next three months, she zoomed to the top of the weight chart (over 80%), where she remains today. And ever so slowly, around the six month mark, we started weaning – I cut down from three pumpings to two a day at work. I cut one nursing session, then another. She started eating foods, and loved just about everything we gave her (except peas). In a few weeks time, she wasn’t even interested in nursing as she could get whatever she needed from the bottle and food. I was ready too, though I did cherish those last few weeks of nursing the most, and it meant a lot to me to give her the last frozen breastmilk I had stored away… I get little pangs when I hear other moms say they’re still breastfeeding at 9 months, a year, whatever. Or that it’s been easy for them, that formula is evil… in truth, it’s why my daughter is just fine today.
She is the stereotypical chubby baby now, and I just hope those dark days didn’t harm her in some way we’ve yet to see.
In November:


Just recently:
beautiful girl

9 months ago…

Abby is 9 months old today, a beautiful little girl. It has passed quickly, especially since January, when I went back to work. Even harder to believe 9 months ago around this time I was getting ready to go to the hospital, still having no idea of who I was about to meet. This is a recap of her birth, which I wrote shortly after we came home from the hospital.
Sept 25 & 26, 2009
At about 10 on Friday night I started getting contractions, spaced at about 5 minutes and lasting 40-45 seconds. After a quick call to the on call doctor (our second of the day) she thought it was early and we should wait until the pain became much stronger. Around 1, I suggested Aaron go to sleep and I continued to have early labor through the night, sleeping for just over an hour. Walked the house, took two baths, and tried to go on as best I could. I woke Aaron around 6; we timed more and they were down to around 3 minutes, and lasting 50 seconds. The pain was also stronger, though not yet scream worthy. But I was afraid to get there too late also. We decided to go to the hospital. They were not expecting us (we didn’t call the doc in the am) but got me on a monitor and gave her a call. I was at 3.5 cm, the contractions were remaining regular and our doctor admitted us. There was no one else in active labor during the day, so we had the staff basically to ourselves! It was too early for an epidural, so I went to the birth tub and soaked for two hours. That felt great and seemed to help, as my next exam I was at 5 and ok’d for the epidural. We waited just a bit longer, tried out the birthing ball, and then I got the epi around 1:20. I was at 6 by then. The anesthesiologist had to place it twice due to spinal curvature (the epi doc said I have scoliosis which will bother me as I get older), but once it was in, what a difference! I dozed off, and at my next check was told I was at a 9! About an hour later, it was time to push, and up to this point things had gone pretty ideally. I think I got nervous pushing which probably didn’t help.
It took me a while to figure out what to do, and I pushed for what seemed like ages (2.5 hrs). I had my moments of doubting I could do it, but also had moments where I put everything I could into it (including some real screaming/yelling, very rare for me to do anything like that!). By the end though I was growing very tired and out of it so I was getting worried about the delivery but unable to express that well. I saw a lot more people in the room, and recall that Aaron said the baby was almost here, and the dr said were going to use the vacuum. I knew next option after the vacuum was C-section which I didn’t want so I pushed super hard when they turned it on and I think she came out in one push then (but I didn’t know she was a girl yet)! I heard her cry, and started crying uncontrollably myself, as they reassured me she was fine and I was fine. I couldn’t believe somehow I got her out, so I was very relieved about everything. I did require some stitching up but I didn’t care at that point. They brought her over to me (Aaron got to help with the weighing, cord etc) and I finally saw our little girl.

abigail

Abigail Celeste, about 1 hr after her birth

Thoughts on the Gulf

I realize I haven’t blogged in almost a year, not even on our daughter’s birth and amazing life unfolding. This is a big topical leap for such a long time… but I want to capture some of my thoughts on what’s been going on in the Gulf because I will be asked about this someday by her. And rightly so. I often picture her asking about many events in human history, most of which I will have only read about myself. I’ll do my best to answer those questions based on what I’ve learned, rather than experienced. But not this. This will join an already painful set of 9/11, the wars, and Katrina as the American experience in the early 21st century. She’ll ask what happened, how we let it happen.
There’s no soft-shoeing, we’re failing here. I see that BP was just the breaking point in the chain of events. It could have been Exxon, Conoco, or some other oil company. When the platform first blew up, the public didn’t really know the extent of the leak; maybe BP did not either. BP certainly did not seemed very concerned, and even now the concern from the company seems more about itself then the spill.
We mostly watched at first. Surely this would be contained quickly, impact minimized, and we could go on with our lives. Lives that depend on plentiful, cheap oil. Lives where most Americans give little thought to how we get our energy. We drive or fly ourselves and our food everywhere, we use plastic bags, toys, tools, medical equipment. For the vast majority of us, even with concerted effort to minimize our oil use, it is pervasive. We like what it gives us for a lifestyle, it makes a lot of tasks easier. And if it’s not oil, it’s coal, also dangerous and destructive to source, and polluting to use. This oil spill came on the heels of a horrible coal mine disaster where 29 miners lost their lives, where another company was scrutinized for safety violations in an effort to save money and speed production. It’d be reflexive to say we didn’t learn the lesson, but these two events were nearly simultaneous symptoms of the problem, the energy appetite unchecked, yet in crisis.
So, in the case of the oil spill, the government deferred to industry; industry said it would be handled quickly. Hours passed into days and weeks. All the while it flowed, estimated 29 million gallons that oozed its way across the ocean, wreaking havoc on any life crossing its path. Now, 46 days later, the oil is still coming. The blame for the lack of clean up floats heavy on the surface, just as the oil does. The blame for its cause, a dark and bigger undercurrent.
The oil has washed up on the shores, covering pelicans to the point where they can only flail in its midst, where even the best efforts of the most numerous and dedicated volunteers will only save some. Humans are so good at damaging each other, which is hard enough to witness. When what we’ve done is put upon animals and ecosystems that have no anticipation, defense, or response, it is numbing, embarrassing. Unlike the claimed intangible damage of climate change, the impact of this human behavior on the environment is laid bare for all to see.
And so we are at a crossroads. What will I tell my daughter in 10 or 15 years, when she asks me these questions? Will I be able to tell her that this was the true gut check to the American people (if not all people), the waning of the days of energy at any cost? Will I be able to tell her that we finally moved to more varied and more sustainable sources? That human and animal lives became more valued in the end, not less so? Will I be able to tell her that her parents played a small part in making this happen?
Or will I be telling her of the opportunity missed, apologizing with heavy heart?

We’re jammin’

Aaron and I have been busy doing other things this summer too. We haven’t (obviously) been spending time on the blog. But, in general, this does not mean we don’t have things to say and eventually some of them will get posted. Here are some highlights of what we’ve been up to.
-Picked over 30 quarts of berries (straw, blue, rasp, black)
-Made 3 batches of jam, our first ever. I have great pictures somewhere. We have made straw, blue, and a mixed berry. We’ll make one batch of peach jam next.
-Have gotten several interesting CSAs incl. beets which means we’ve made some interesting salads and stir frys
-gone to baby birthing class, had two baby showers, and are setting up the nursery (in progress)
-Aaron’s ridden two big rides – the B2B, and Trans NH
-Have had three sets of family visitors (my parents, my brother’s family, and my sister’s family) for a total of 11 visitors over 16 or so days
-work has been stressful and busy for us both
-we had 3 more male crias, making it 11 in a row (and had one pass away earlier this summer)
-put in a clothes line
so, all in all it is just another run of the mill summer here where we sit around and do nothing… ;)
We have two more baby related classes coming up, then whatever else we feel like doing… truthfully I am ready to not have to do ANYTHING major for a while. We still have a lot to do, but whatever gets done, gets done. The rest will happen at its own pace.
I’m beyond tired from what we had on the plate…

Squid update

This may be the shortest blog ever.
I haven’t updated my Squid stats in a while, so here’s some info…
Aug – $22.81
Jul – $12.56
Jun – $22.92
May – $7.32
Apr – $6.95
Mar – $2.99
Feb – 0
Jan – $2.18
which makes a total of $77.13 for the year. I am hoping to have some more time for it when the baby comes (yeah, and a million other things). I just haven’t had any inspiration for it recently…

Time to start storing up…

Amazingly, and probably in part due to the fact that I didn’t want to eat much for 3 months, we saved enough berries last summer to get us through the winter. We have two small bags of blackberries, half a gallon bag of strawberries, and a small bag of blueberries we are finishing up.
But with the arrival of pick-your-own season, it is time to start thinking about the upcoming winter, and with a little one on the way I want to have some extras on hand. Although the baby won’t be eating foods right away, knowing we have a good amount of fruit saved up will be a big morale booster for the middle of winter.

Today, I put aside our first two trays of fresh strawberries. I’ll go picking at least two more times for strawberries, but coming soon will be blueberry, raspberries, and blackberries. Not to mention the produce that will begin to ripen soon now.

We did plant strawberry plants of our own, and I have gotten one small berry, but I don’t expect much from the transplants other than to settle in for next year.

Mystery eggs

It’s time for a quick farm update. Well, I actually have a lot more to say than this, but I’m too tired to write a full blog at the moment. Last Friday was shearing (I took the day off), which included 34 alpacas to do. It was an exhausting start to a busy weekend. Sunday, we had a different adventure to tackle.
Some of you may recall we had a dozen eggs make a trip a few weeks back. Well, here are the results of the journey:

That’s right; 8 of the 12 eggs became adorable, fuzzy, healthy chicks. These are crosses of our Blue Laced Red Wyandotte rooster (Charlie) and our Easter Egger hens. The two grey chicks (blue in chicken parlance) are offspring of the roo and our Black Star hens. I had forgotten how fun chicks are, before they get big.

We will see how many turn out to be male or female. It’s impossible for me to even guess right now. At approximately 5 days, they all have Charlie style combs (flat), and are getting wing feathers already. It won’t be long before they have to go to the big brooder, but for now the little tub in the barn is working out well. These guys should be very winter hardy with Charlie’s extra feathers and comb style.

Homemade pasta in just a few minutes

This isn’t a recipe for pasta, we’ll post that some other time. I can say that we used ingredients we had around already for this dinner; flour, eggs, lemons, some parsley, garlic, tomato paste, and pine nuts for added crunch. However, I found the process of making the pasta very easy and enjoyable, which I wanted to share. I did make some of the pasta, but Aaron was showing me since he’s made it before. We had enough to save and freeze what we didn’t eat, for some other day.
First, you start with the appropriate dough pieces. This shows the before and after states.

We have a Kitchen Aid mixer, and the corresponding pasta roller and cutter attachments. Pasta can be rolled out by hand or dedicated machines as well, but the mixer attachments made this quick work. This picture shows rolling out the dough. You start at the widest setting then gradually get to the thinnest one or two settings. As you go through this process, you need to add flour on the noodle surfaces periodically so the dough does not stick to the rollers.

You catch the pasta as it flattens out and carefully feed it back in. Be careful the motor is not taxed too much by feeding in dough that is wider than the current setting will allow.
As we were doing this, we had a nice hot pot of water heating up to boil the noodles.

we dressed the noodles with: lemon zest, pine nuts (slightly browned first), garlic, parsley, and a little bit of tomato paste (not shown).

It is finally time to swap to the pasta cutter attachment; here is a picture of the fresh pasta after slicing.

Next, we boiled and drained it. We combined with our ingredients, and it was time to eat the fresh pasta. It was delicious!