Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ivy is 1 year old!

...and my post is a day late, typical. You learn to roll with the punches when you have 4 kids.

We celebrated today since Eric and I had a dinner event up on campus yesterday.

I wanted to do a white cake with ombre green inside and green ivy leaves. But I didn't have oil-based or powder food dyes to tint the white chocolate. So I reversed the scheme:

We painted real ivy leaves with melted white chocolate, then peeled the leaves off once the chocolate had hardened. It worked really well!

According to Ivy's birth certificate, she supposedly born today, March 26, not yesterday, March 25. I'm not sure who messed it up, but I'd like to get her passport and have been waiting almost 2 weeks for her birth certificate to be corrected.

Her passport photo:

What is Ivy up to?
  • Walking!
  • She can say papa, dog, tweet tweet as well as imitate several other sounds
  • She can sign dog, bird, and nurse
  • Being one of the pack with her siblings
  • Clinging to me or Eric much of the day...if I even move a few inches away, she sobs and crawls after me. 

Ivy still prefers her papa over anyone else, hands down. It's endearing, if a bit strange, to have a baby who prefers him over me. But I'm not complaining! I like that I can pass her off to him.

She's a happy, spunky, wiggly child

She's still waking twice at night to nurse. Nothing much changed since last month on sleep. I'm dealing with it and hoping that she'll transition to once-nightly nursing soon. Of course, I'm partly to blame since I get to bed about an hour too late every night...

If you haven't yet, read Ivy's birth story, see her birth photos, and watch her birth video.

Happy birthday Ivy Claire! 
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

To pump or not to pump?

I've been pumping and donating since Ivy was 2 weeks old. Every night, I hook myself up to the pump, settle back into the couch, and pump a cup of liquid gold for my donor family. Sometimes I would be so tired when it came time to pump. I just want to go to bed...maybe I'll do it in the morning...but still every night I would sit down, plug in, and pump.

I love nursing my children, and I would be devastated if I were unable to breastfeed. That's why I pump, even when I don't feel like it.

I've wondered how long I could continue pumping after I was done nursing my last baby...months? years? decades? Some wet nurses continued to nurse babies into their 70s and 80s, so I suppose there is no absolute upper limit on lacatation.

With our upcoming move to France, however, I knew my pumping days would likely end. I don't have a 240V pump and our new apartment doesn't have a proper freezer. Two strikes, you're out. When I realized this, I was excited at the thought of freedom from pumping. When I'm tired, I can just go to bed!

My visit to Seattle two weeks ago might have answered my dilemma about when to stop pumping. I didn't bring a pump. I figured Ivy would take care of the extra milk if I gave her more opportunities to nurse. I did get a little engorged, but not uncomfortably so. I tried my sister's single manual pump (Isis Avent) and that thing is worthless! I easily express 8+ ounces with my double electric pump, but only got a half an ounce with the manual pump.

When I came home from Seattle, I didn't pump the first night...or the next...or the next.

I think I am done.

I've been working on saying no to more things. Even though I could do them, I choose not to. I'm a little wistful because this might be my last opportunity to donate. But I'm also ready to move on and enjoy a few more minutes of sleep every night, a few more minutes not tied down to a machine, a few more minutes when my body is mine and no one else's. 

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

She walks!

After a week of walking around the house holding onto one of our fingers, Ivy decided to stand up and walk today!

Inga loves to take Ivy walking around the house, holding onto both of Ivy's hands and laughing all the while.

I'm going to miss having a baby in the house...

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Sunday, March 09, 2014

Glow jars

We like making glow jars for Christmas and birthday presents. For the best effect, you need the right paint. Strontium aluminate based glow-in-the-dark paints are far brighter than the kinds you can find in most local craft or hardware stores.

You can buy ready-made paints or glow powder to mix into a transparent paint or glaze. I bought a sampler of 6 paints from Glonation. If you search "strontium aluminate glow paint," you'll find several glow paint companies.

Glonation's paints are water-based and become rubbery and stretchy rather quickly. If you're working with stencils--say, for a painting on a wall or ceiling--you have to remove the pattern almost immediately, otherwise the paint will peel off with the pattern.

The green is the brightest and longest-lasting color, followed by aqua. If you only can buy two colors, go with these two. The blue and the violet are also nice. On the other hand, the white and orange hardly show up at all.

We bought an assortment of glass jars and pots at a thrift store. Dab thick dots of paint onto the inside of the container, and you're done! I found that you get plumper beads of paint if you use a wooden barbeque skewer rather than a paintbrush to apply the paint. 

I'd LOVE to paint my bike like this night bike!

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

My visit to Seattle

We're back from a fun & busy visit to Seattle! Remind me that only having one baby is easy, but crossing 3 time zones and spending a full day traveling each way with a baby is rather tiring. Especially when your baby wants to wake up at 4 am, because it's 7 am in her head!

Eric came to attend the AWP Conference and to interview candidates for his sabbatical replacement. My mom was free that week, so I decided to come along and spend time with my youngest sister, who moved to Seattle about a year ago.

We arrived on Tuesday evening and crashed at my sister's house in Ballard. Eric didn't have any conference obligations on Wednesday except for registering, so we spent the day together with my sister and her two little children. I had breakfast at Señor Moose Café with Sharon Muza and Kim James, the founder of Doula Match. Great food, lovely women, fantastic conversation. While I was breakfasting, Eric toured downtown Ballard with my sister.

Then we met up to visit the Ballard (Chittenden) locks. I visited Seattle when I was about 10 years old, and the locks are one of the few things I can recall.

We picked up some amazing sandwiches at Paseo for lunch. On my sister's recommendation, I chose spice level #3 but I think I could easily have gone up to a 4 or 5 (out of 5). I like it hot!

After naps for my sister's toddler, we went to Golden Gardens Park, a lovely beachfront park and playground. Ivy napped while we enjoyed amazing weather: mid-50s and sunny.

Once the children were covered in sand and (hopefully) tired out, we headed home and caught the bus downtown. Because Eric was also interviewing candidates for his sabbatical replacement, we were able to stay at a very nice hotel, the Fairmont Olympic. We spent an hour in the pool and hottub before it was Ivy's bedtime.

I nursed Ivy and ran off to meet some birth people at Café Presse in Capitol Hill. Dr. Elias Kass of One Sky Family Medicine, a recent CNM graduate (and IBCLC), and a long-time blog reader met me for a wonderful evening of conversation. I was going to walk to and from the hotel, but Elias kindly gave me rides. Thanks!!

We discovered that our "suite" at the Fairmont wasn't really a suite at all, since the 4 French doors between the bedroom and living room had no glass...just large open panels covered with sheer curtains.

If there's no door, no sound control, and no light control, it's not really a suite.

Eric had to sit with the lights off and make no noise to keep Ivy from waking up. After one night of this, I decided to put Ivy to bed at my sister's house and stay until my bedtime. It's only a 12 minute drive from her house to downtown when the traffic is light.

Another gorgeous day: mid-50s and sunny. Seattle, what's up? My sister met me at the hotel for swimming, then we explored Pike Place Market and the surrounding shops, including Beecher's Handmade Cheese. Lots of delicious food samples....mmmm....oh, we saw the gum wall (eewwww) and walked past the original Starbucks.

Home for lunch and naps, then back outside to Carkeek Park. It overlooks the Puget Sound and has a little pedestrian bridge that crosses over train tracks down to the beach. Ivy took another outdoor nap--what a lovely thing--while we entertained the other little ones. I was eager to see a bit more of downtown Ballard, so we walked around and visited Classic Consignment. Several lovely shirts & sweaters later, I emerged. I also found an amazing antique chair but had to pass it up...sigh...Dinner was Thai takeout from Pestle Rock.

Yet another day of gorgeous sunny weather! We spent the morning at the City Center playing in several of the fountains, including the musical fountain with jets that spray to the music and an empty fountain that looks more like an ocean floor than a fountain.

We also toured the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor's Center. Amazing interactive displays on alleviating poverty, improving sanitation and clean water supplies, reversing malnutrition, and improving the quality of life for all people.

We took this picture...and then it showed up on the wall behind us!

A rural Nepalese midwife's birth kit...plastic sheets, soap, string, and basic instructions. Amazing that something so simple can make such a difference in birth outcomes.

Lunch was takeout pho...I could eat it every day. Yum. After naps, we headed to the Woodland Park Zoo. I was finally able to meet a longtime friend, colleague, and blog reader Jenne after 7+ years of correspondence. I love being able to make these connections!

Later that evening, my sister hosted a last-minute Feminist Mormon Housewives get-together. It was small, but the conversation was great. I love tackling big issues of faith, doubt, feminism, and activism.

My sister brought her whole family for swimming on Saturday morning. Seattle decided to show its true colors, so we had cooler temperatures and rain. My sister stayed behind to take the Seattle Underground Tour with Ivy and me and Eric. The sights were mildly interesting, but the tour itself was fascinating. I love well-done entertaining history.

I finally was able to spend some time in the afternoon with Eric at the AWP Bookfair. He'd been tied up all day and most evenings going to conference sessions, while my days were full sightseeing with my sister. We checked out of the hotel and spent our last night at my sister's house again.

Saturday ended on a fantastic note with dinner at The Whale Wins. We had to wait almost and hour and a half for a table, but it was worth it. Amazing flavors and unusual combinations of ingredients. My only complaint was that the restaurant was pretty chilly. I dressed up but had to keep my coat on the whole time, and I still wasn't quite warm enough!


Sunday was spent traveling from 7 am PST to 11 pm EST. But at least we got home in one day--another big storm system blew through and threatened to cancel flights.

Observations about Seattle
There's a definite urban-outdoorsy vibe in Seattle. I saw lots of yoga pants + running shoes, practical leather boots, down jackets, closely trimmed beards, and knitted hats & scarves. My sister says that Seattle women don't often "do" their hair, since it rains so much.

The AWP conference was full of uber-hipsters. What a collection of skinny jeans, funky glasses, asymmetrical haircuts, facial hair, and artistically draped hand-knit shawls!

Why do expensive hotels offer fewer amenities than cheap hotels? At the Fairmont, you get the privilege of paying for wifi. Breakfast is $20/person. At Motel 6/Super 8/etc, you get free wifi, free breakfast, and sometimes even free dinner. Weird. 

Of course, the best entertainment at the Fairmont was free: shredding toilet paper.

I've never lived in a big urban area, so Seattle's real estate prices were shocking. There's something fundamentally wrong with such expensive housing. I kept wondering the whole time, "How do real people with regular jobs even survive here?" In my town, some of the cheaper houses are the same price as a car. (Granted, they are not usually very nice at this price, but still...) How do those of you living in big cities make it work?
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