Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cousin Photo Shoot

During a recent baby shower, my kids and their cousins borrowed my camera while I was busy hosting. I just found the results in my archive. I think they are a bunch of future photographers and models.

Here are the oldest and youngest cousins. The youngest was the guest of honor at this baby shower. We recently hired the oldest as our regular babysitter. Her little cousins love her!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Daughter's First Blog (plus commentary by mommy)

My daughter has been keeping a journal at kindergarten.  It is such an accurate depiction of the happenings in our household, I thought I would use it as my blog entry and save myself some personal effort.

Barbeque (BrB)
All summer we searched unsuccessfully for a deal on decking so we could put a floor on the skeleton of an unfinished deck in our backyard.  I desperately wanted to use composite decking instead of wood because we have already exceeded my lifetime quota of painting/staining projects around here for this neverending remodel. The thought of sentancing ourselves to an annual backyard deck painting or staining project made me feel ill.  One day I noticed a stack of used composite decking sitting in our next-door neighbor's driveway.  He makes decks for a living and had removed the old decking from a client's house to replace it with new stuff. I asked if we could buy it and our kind neighbors gave it to us!  My ever hardworking, talented husband made us a beautiful deck that is much larger than the original skeleton.  It's made of previously used decking made of post-consumer recycled materials.  How earth-friendly! And no painting or staining is required.  When he finished the deck, we celebrated by buying patio tables and umbrellas on fall clearance and buying a used grill and having a barbeque.

Cookies (CooE)
My kids love to help us make cookies.  Its a fun activity for them and my husband says he likes it, too.  Don't tell my kids, but I secretly hate cooking with the kids.  It is chaotic and messy. 

Curious George Costume
My daughter planned to wear this costume since last year.  Last Halloween, she would have worn it but my husband, who was going with her as the Man in the Yellow Hat, ended up quarantined with flu over Halloween. My daughter saved Curious George for this year, instead. Apparently, she was still planning on Curious George when she drew her Halloween costume in her journal. The day of the Halloween parade, however, she changed her mind last minute and insisted on wearing her princess costume from two years ago. "If I dress like a monkey, the kids will laugh at me. So I am going to be a princess instead," she explained. I was kind of repulsed by her lack of bravery and individuality, but in the end I decided to wait to encourage her to defy the crowd until some time when rising above peer pressure would actually mean something.

Balance Beam (BAL)
 My daughter has been taking gymnastics since the beginning of the school year.  I am not sure she is learning anything.  After her most recent lesson, she reported that she can "almost do a cartwheel," a feat the class has worked on since day one.  So I doubt that she is destined for the Olympics, but she is having fun so we are sticking with it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Both sides of my husband's family held family reunions in Utah on the same weekend this summer.  Here are some highlights:

My Mother-in-law's Side of the Family
This was the first  reunion I have experienced for this side of my husband's family, who I mostly know through weddings and funerals, since the family lives all across the country.  It was great fun.  We spent a day swimming at Cherry Hills, had a family talent show, and created an extended family scrapbook.

My Father-in-law's Side of the Family
My husband's dad's family gets together once every summer at his uncle's camping property in Weber County, Utah.  Since we reside in Utah, we attend this reunion every year, but it was nice to be able to bring my husband's mom and siblings with us this year, who all live in other states. The highlight of this reunion is always a delicious picnic, including dutch oven cooking, home-made root beer, and fresh produce. (This family includes some excellent gardeners.)


A Visit from My In-Laws

This summer, both sides of my husband's family coincidentally had family reunions in Utah in the same weekend, so his mom and three of his four siblings (with our nieces and nephews) came to visit us for the occasion. Here are pics of us at some of the places we visited while they were here.

Classic Skating
Museum of Ancient Life
County Fair

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fun Fall Outings

Speed Art Contest at Thanksgiving Point
Several artists were outside with two hours to paint, draw or sculpt something. This was a great way to expose the kids to art. They got to see the process, instead of just finished works. My five year-old daughter boldly introduced herself to several artists and complimented their work. Actually, maybe it wasn't so much boldness as that she considered these adult, professional artists to be peers. "I paint too," she informed most of them.

Dirt Bike Party
My brother invited us to attend his company party, featuring an elaborate dirt bike stunt show. The kids were impressed. "Motorcycles bounced and bounced that sky," reports my two year-old.

The Zoo
Although they thought the animals were fine, my two bigger kids liked the "Asian Room" best of all, an exhibit with Asian instruments, costumes and tools, but no animals. Maybe they have more potential in anthropology than zoology.  The baby was most impressed by some flags.  (Those are what he is smiling at in the photo.)

Kite Festival at Antelope Island
My two year-old boy loved seeing the enormous kites in the air. He was so impatient to join in with his own kite that we had a hard time getting him to wait until after our picnic lunch. Unfortunately, right when we finished eating, the wind got so strong they pulled down all the kites and we didn't get to fly our own that day.

Thanksgiving Point Art Festival
Zoo Asian Room
Zoo, under flags
Antelope Island Kite Festival
Antelope Island
Antelope Island

Monday, October 11, 2010

Before and After

A good friend living in Virginia had a baby the same week I did.  She came to visit and they got to meet each other.
Seven Months Pregnant

Seven Months Postpartum

Monday, September 20, 2010

Baby Milestones

Any moment now I should be able to post footage of my baby's first crawl.  He has been working hard at figuring it out and he is getting close.  Meanwhile, here are some other "first's" to look back on.

First Smile
I have better pictures of his smile now that he is older, but when he first started smiling, the smiles were hard to capture on film because they passed by faster than the delay flash on my camera.
First Laughter
My daughter wanted to play choir director.  She asked me to sing high or low depending on where she waved her spoon.  I was holding the baby in my lap at the time and he laughed more than he ever had before.  Seeing the video, I know why.  I do sound ridiculous.
First Solid Food
Like his siblings before him, he grabbed the spoon and tried to feed himself during his first solid meal.

A Great Big Fire Teaches Me a Lesson About Self-Pity

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself earlier this evening.  My stove is broken.  My husband tried to fix it yesterday without success.  He was going to try to fix it again today, but he kept being called in to see patients at the hospital and had no time.

Then the car broke while he was on his way to answer yet another page at the hospital.  A kind bystander pulled him into the hospital parking lot but then I had to drag our sleeping children out of bed, drive the truck over to the hospital and tow the broken car back home. 

I would rather have oral surgery than tow a car.  And it wasn't fair that we should have two such important belongings break in the same weekend.

When I arrived at the hospital, I opened the truck door and an overwhelming burning smell engulfed me.  That is how I found out about the fire that is currently eating up much of Herriman, Utah, where my sister's family resides. I immediately phoned my sister.  They are fine.

It puts things into perspective.  That broken stove is dang annoying, but its not like we're starving around here.  We still have a microwave, a crockpot, an electric skillet, a rice maker and a toaster oven.  There are plenty of ways we can cook until we get this figured out. Towing the car did feel like torture to me, but it's over now and I have an amazing, ingenious husband who is confident he can fix the car. In the meantime, we still have the truck. 

Not too far away in Herriman, some peoples' homes burned down tonight. Our stove and car troubles pale in comparison. My loved ones are okay, and according to news reports, this fire has not taken any lives.  I am grateful.  I'm going to stop whining about the stove and the car. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Get $300 to make your worksite nursing mom-friendly

The Utah Breastfeeding Coalition is offering Utah worksites up to $300 to set up rooms for breastfeeding employees to pump milk. The funds can be used to buy the pump, a fridge, a door lock, or furniture for the room. Just fill out and return this simple application. The deadline is Sept. 30, but apply ASAP because the funding is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

This funding comes at an ideal time to help employers comply with one of the lesser-known components of the new health care reform law, requiring most employers to accommodate the lactation needs of the nursing moms they employ by allowing them reasonable time to pump in a private, non-bathroom environment. You can learn more about the new federal law and about state laws protecting nursing moms at http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/Workplace/WorkplaceSupport/WorkplaceSupportinHealthCareReform/tabid/175/Default.aspx.  (When I went to this website, I learned that the jerks in Flagstaff who kicked me out of a movie theater for nursing were in violation of Arizona law. It is good to know your rights.)

I am a nursing mom, now nursing my third child, and I work for the health department, a very enlightened place about the merits of breastfeeding. At my worksite, private rooms, heavy duty community pumps, and paid pumping breaks are available to me to facilitate a healthy environment for me and my baby.

However, every now and then, I spend a workday away from my office for a conference or training or something and experience a glimpse of the less-enlightened outside world. I pack my not-so-heavy-duty personal pump and must seek out accommodations for this important ritual.

Such was the case this past week when I spent a day at a computer training facility. I did a training at the same place about two years ago, when I was breastfeeding my second child. During that first visit, I sheepishly asked the woman at the front desk where I could pump. She looked at me like I had just vomited on her and ordered me to go to the restroom. "Isn't there any other room I could use?" I blushingly whispered. "This is a computer training facility," she informed me, in case I hadn't noticed. "We keep computers in all the rooms." I meekly reported to the restroom. The only electrical outlet there was located directly over the only sink. I stood there with my exposed breasts reflecting in the mirror and I tried to duck whenever someone needed to wash their hands.

A few weeks later, I attended a conference at a different location, where I received a similar response from another receptionist. This time, however, another health department employee, who happens to be one of the state's greatest breastfeeding advocates, was also in attendance. When she heard about my banishment to the restroom, she took matters into her own hands and politely but firmly insisted on access to a room with a lock other than the restroom for nursing mothers at the conference.

Since that time, my approach towards seeking accommodation for nursing or pumping has changed. I am no longer embarrassed. I am proud that I am protecting both my own and my child's health. It doesn't even bother me to ask men about a place to pump any more. It is good for men to know what female breasts are actually for. I see myself as an advocate. I am not ashamed that I lactate and anyone else who is embarrassed by that or thinks I should pump in a restroom stall needs education.

As my confidence has improved, the response has improved, too. Now that the sheepishness is missing from my requests, it is very rare that they are dismissed by grouchy receptionists.  When I do get such a response, I just politely ask to speak to their manager instead.

At that same computer training center last week, I confidently requested a private room for pumping and while they had to check around to find an available room, they did find one and I was spared from another bathroom pumping experience.  I noticed that the employee who helped me happened to be pregnant, so I am sending them notice of this funding opportunity.  Maybe someday, as more employers set up designated nursing/pumping areas in compliance with the new law, and more moms gain confidence about educating the world about the need to accommodate nursing and pumping, no such scrambling will be necessary.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our Kindergartener and Her Marketable Skills

First Day of Kindergarten
Our little girl has started kindergarten. As we expected, it has been a hit. She reports lots of new friends, playground adventures, fun bus rides, and occasionally even learning something.

Starting Gymnastics
Also, she has begun gymnastics. Her kindergarten teacher freaked us out a little bit when she sent home a letter saying that each child in the class would have a turn teaching the rest of the class about something they knew how to do well, such as speaking a foreign language or playing a sport. Yikes! Our kid had no skills. My sister suggested long ago that I put my kids into tumbling, because they lack rational fear and are always climbing and jumping off things, so we went with that idea. So far, gymnastics is a hit, too.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Scissors for Good Causes

It started with the lettuce in our garden. We grew a lot of it. We cut a bunch off with scissors and ate salad several times, but the stuff grew right back. We offered to share it with friends and family. Some did take us up on it but not nearly often enough to deplete the supply.

Then I was reading a book that recommended sharing excess home-grown produce with your local food pantry. That had never occurred to me. I guess I have seen so many canned food drives for the Utah Food Bank that I just assumed that canned food was all they took. I checked the Utah Food Bank website and found out that home-grown produce was welcome. Moreover, I learned that the "Food Bank" actually consists of several food pantry locations, so it was easy to find one near my home.

That very day, my five year-old daughter and I delivered several bags of lettuce to a local food pantry.  ("Mom, why did you say we were giving the lettuce to people without food, when they had tons of food in there?" she asked as we left.)

I took this self-portrait before the cut. 
I had to use a mirror to get all the hair in the shot.
Here is the "after" picture.
Putting the excess lettuce to good use inspired me to think about other things I was growing in excess--namely, my hair.  I usually wear it long and like it that way, but lately it has been insanely long and driving me crazy.  Pregnancy is very good for hair growth and since my baby has been born, I have had trouble finding free time to go to the salon when my husband was also available to watch the kids.  The result has been a Rapunzelesque look that works best for fairy tale princesses locked in towers, not real people.

I researched Locks of Love, a charity that uses donated hair to make wigs for cancer patients and others with medical hair loss, and found that they require at least 10 inches of length, cut off  without dropping to the floor, for a donation.  My hair was so long that I could spare 10 inches and still have enough left over to wear a ponytail.  I told my husband about my plan and he was so supportive that he took a one-hour break from work in between patients to come home and watch the kids while I went to the salon.

I went to the local Great Clips and was pleasantly surprised to learn that when you donate your hair to Locks of Love, the cut is free and Great Clips ships the donation for you, so you don't even have to cover postage. 

The cut has been a hit in my household.  My hubby thinks it is sexy.  My daughter is excited that I have the same haircut she does.  (My daughter did not inherit my rapid hair-growing gene.  It took the first three years of her life to get hair to her shoulders.  Just in time for her third birthday, she gave herself a haircut at the scalp and had to start over.  Now she is back at the shoulders again.)   I questioned my two year-old for his opinion.  "Mommy hair pretty," he replied.  My six month-old can still pull it, which is probably all he cares about.

I like it fine.  I definitely prefer it over the Rapunzel look I was sporting before.  If I had not been donating it, I probably would have cut it a little longer than it is now, but with my hair-growing capacity, it will be at my ideal length in no time. 

I am certainly happier than the last time I cut it short, which is when I was a freshman in college.  Yes, that long ago. I had a sadistic roommate who lobbied everyday to cut my hair beginning with the day we met.  After about two or three weeks of incessant speeches from her about how stupid my long hair looked, I finally caved, arguing to myself that my hair grows fast and that wearing it long wasn't important enough to me to merit listening to these self-esteem-threatening speeches daily for two full semesters.  This line of reasoning didn't stop my tear ducts from overflowing after the first snip and after that I was inconsolable.  Helpful people either assured me that my short hair looked great, which felt to me like they were siding with the nasty roommate, or that it would surely grow back soon, which reminded me of the logic I had used against myself and reinforced my self-reproof for sacrificing my hair to please a sociopath. Over a decade later, I am happy to report that I have finally dared to cut again, and this time, I have suffered no psychological repercussions.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Summer Photos

Buying plants for our new herb garden
Graduating from preschool
Sleeping over with cousins
Swimming with uncle
Going for a ride
Watching a parade
Gardening in the nude (No, actually just stripping.  We do try to encourage our two year-old to stay dressed, but the hot weather works against us.)
Just resting