Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Familial Bullies

Earlier today I had an issue with a family member. Something was taken out of context and it has now been resolved and I have no hard feelings towards this person. My purpose in writing this is post is not to shame them but to examine my reaction and the logic and beliefs that lead to that reaction. And explore my feelings regarding feedback received on my reaction. So maybe I can sleep. 

I'm going to say things that are going to tick people off bc I am going to admit to a shocking fact: Like any other large group of people, my extended family contains a few bullies. That's not what we call them but that's what they are. 

I was taugh as a child the correct way to react to these bullies is to not react. "They can't get your goat if they don't know where it's tied". And any reaction to a familial bully was regarded as failure. Either it's your fault bc you let them get your goat, or you stooped to their level by responding at all, so shame on you. You should know better and do better. Double shame if you stand up for yourself in a public forum. How dare you make the family look bad (bc bullying in public doesn't look bad at all). 

And then you tell every single other person in the family and all of your friends what the bully did rather than actually discuss it with the offender to their face or call them on it. And everybody you tell is properly horrified hearing about how you were mistreated so your feelings get external validation from the whole world but not the bully.

Now here is the fun contradiction: I was also taugh that you should stand up for yourself to bullies at school. That was good. Particularly if it was physical.  But somehow doing the same thing at home is bad and wrong. 

Or maybe it wasn't so much "with family" as it is if the bully "uses words". If they're using words to beat you to death, you should just take it bc you're better than them. But if they use fists by golly punch 'em right back and harder. 

Now that I say this out loud it's amazingly backwards. 

But I digress. 

I've watched this pattern w my family for the last 30 years. I have decided it's grossly unhealthy. (Why yes I do have a keen mind for the obvious). Most of my extended family refuses to be in the same room w the rest of the family for anything less than a funeral. The majority of them moved as far as possible from the rest and regard it as an excellent mental health choice.

I completely understand their rationale but I do think that it's sad. 

The rare few that have managed to maintain relationships with the difficult members of the family have been the ones that actually vocalize and are willing to challenge the bullies head on. 

Well, there's one other option for those that stick around and that seems to be a couple who embrace their victimhood, learned helplessness and codependence, if we are calling it like it is. And today we are. I feel for them deeply and hope they get some therapy bc it's miserable to live in that place. 

I've done a bit of all three. I started in the last group but thankfully got enough therapy and self esteem to get out of it mostly. I used to be a serious doormat. 

I've flat out walked away for extended periods of time w my extended family relationships. I justify it as a mental health practice but I don't like it. 

Bc at the end of the day these are people I love who are important to people who are important to me. And for better or worse there is an attachment there and it makes me sad when they are sad and lonely and don't understand why they are all alone. Bc they didn't get taught right. And they don't know how to have a healthy relationship and they're never gonna know if somebody doesn't teach them. 

So basically, my compromise is this: I'm willing to stay in contact, on a more limited but not completely alien basis, but I'm standing up for myself. Every time. I'll deflect and keep it brief if at all possible. I want assertive but not drama. But if challenged, I refuse to back down. I believe in fighting fair so no name calling or insults, and rational arugement is required. And I will stand up for myself even if it means doing so in a public forum. Bc every time I've backed down, I've regretted it later.  

(This is not to say that every person I stand up to is a big bully and I'm always right). 

I dealt with quite a lot of bullying in middle school and high school. For years I diligently did my dead level best to do as I was taught and not let them get my goat and when they did, I blamed the victim, me, for allowing it to happen.* I cried a lot of tears at home. 

The thing that actually worked? Challenging them head on. When I stood up for myself, they backed off. They never did it again. 

Granted w a social bully it's a bit easier bc I don't care if I decimate the relationship. I shouldn't decimate them personally bc I don't want to be a bad person and they're children of God too. Even if it's gratifying...

But I think it takes more careful finesse when it's family bc you don't just want the bad to stop, you want the good to take its place. So scorched earth tactics are probably not your best bet. 

I get an interesting mix of reactions to my compromise. Some cheer me on. Some have almost a crab bucket reaction- I'm shamed for stooping to their level by reacting to verbal bullies. How dare I challenge the status quo. Some tell me I shouldn't bother. I can't change anything. 

But as much as I hope I can change things, it's more about being okay with me than it is with changing them. I have no control over them. If I give up and walk away, I give up an important part of me. I think my role in this life is to love, nurture and teach as best I can. It's hard to do any of those while shunning people. 

I refuse to go back to the crab bucket and become a door mat once again. I have to stand up for myself. It's hard. It's not my first reaction for myself even if it's my very first reaction for somebody else. 

So maybe I will have a positive influence and maybe I won't but I'll do it on my terms and I will endeavor to model positive, healthy boundaries for my kids. 

And that's something I can live with. 

*I think it's grossly wrong to blame the victim when they shouldn't be hunting your damn goat in the first place. That said, yes do try not to let them know your weak points if at all possible bc there will always be bullies but we don't have to make the butthead's job easy

Monday, August 10, 2015

Recipes: Veggies & Sides

If I were a food blogger this would get posted with gorgeous pictures and lots of directions, but I'm not! So I'm typing up some of my favorite recipes for my friend and I figured I would throw them up here for posterities sake (.... and so I don't lose them forever....). Apparently there are a lot so I will do them in batches and maybe someday I will come back and add pics like a big kid.

And yes I would probably die if I couldn't have garlic and EVOO and I ALWAYS use kosher salt when I'm cooking. I'll use iodized when baking but its all kosher when I'm on the stove top. Just FYI.

Hiromi's Green Beans

1 lb green beans, trimmed and rinsed
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1-2 T EVOO
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 T Coconut Powder (that is not a typo, you get it in packets at the asian food store. I got mine at 99 Ranch Market)
Salt and pepper

Blanch the green beans in salt water for 2-5 mins depending on your desired level of doneness. (I do not do an ice water bath to shock them, I just drain them). In a large skill it at medium high heat, add the mustard seeds to the pan and toast for 2 mins. Add 1 T EVOO to pan, add onion, salt & pepper, saute onions until golden. Add green beans and toss. Add coconut powder. Add salt to taste. I add the extra T of EVOO if I need it if things are dry while I'm cooking.

These are seriously some of the best green beans I've ever had in my life and they reheat good so I tend to do them in like 2 lb batches.

How I do Quinoa:
1 c. quinoa (I prefer white) - well rinsed in a strainer
2 c Chicken broth (or 1 can)
2 cloves garlic (you can increase or decrease this as desired)

Rinse the quinoa well. Mince the garlic. Heat the oil in a small sauce pan. Once hot add the garlic and toast for 2-3 mins until toasted. Then add the quinoa and chicken broth. Cover. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook until liquid is absorbed approx 15-20 mins. Fluff with fork. You can add all sorts of things to this to compliment your main dish. You can add basil or mint or arugula, chopped nuts (possibly toasted), whatever sounds good. Its a 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa like rice. You can increase or decrease as desired to feed more people. 

Wilted Garlic Spinach 

This is so good even my kids eat it. And my picky friends. My father insists it would be better with bacon grease over EVOO...

1-2 T EVOO
2-4 cloves garlic minced
Fresh spinach (LOTS AND LOTS. Buy the big bags or giant containers from costco)
1/2 medium onion, small dice 

In a LARGE skillet or a big pot, heat the EVOO to medium high heat, add the onion, and start that cooking w/ a pinch of salt, then add the garlic when you get it chopped. Once the onion is nice and translucent and golden, add the spinach. If it all doesn't fit at once, add a lid, wait a couple minutes, add more spinach and toss until its all in there. Add kosher salt to taste as you go. Done!

Basic Green Beans/Asparagus

1 T Butter (optional, since I had Miss Dairy Allergy I skip it)
1-2 T EVOO
1 can chicken Broth
1 lb green beans or 1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed 

Melt butter in skillet w EVOO until its toasted and golden brown, Then add can of chicken broth, and green beans and pinch of salt. Cook until just fork tender. Adjust salt to taste. If its asparagus I like to have fresh lemon to juice or zest (or both) on top!

Roasted Broccoli

Bunch of broccoli, washed and trimmed into florets
Minced Garlic 2-4 cloves

Heat your oven to 400. On a baking sheet spread out broccoli, drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle w/ salt and garlic, toss with your hands. Bake in oven 30-40 mins until tender. It will get pretty brown in spots. Don't freak this tastes fantastic. My sister who HATES and gags over broccoli will eat a piece and say its okay.

Variation w the broccoli that I did earlier this week and they loved: B/c I didn't want to heat up the oven in the summer heat - EVOO & garlic in a pan, toast for 1-2 mins, then add broccoli and saute until brown at points, then add a can of beef broth and cover w/ a lid, braise until stalk is fork tender, serve. It was really good. My family chowed it down. Even Dad ate it.

Grilled/Roasted Veggies 

This is one of those recipes that expands and contracts and does make tasty leftovers, esp on sandwiches and salads, so you can make a lot and eat it over a couple days, so add more or less veggies to your desired size spread.

1/2 - 1 Large onion cut in rings
1-2 zucchini cut in 1/2 inch sticks or spears
1-2 sweet peppers (red, orange, yellow, green take your pick of whatever looks good)
Sliced portabella mushroom caps would also be excellent if you want more
Salt and pepper 

Optional toppings:
balsamic vinegar

Roast the peppers under a broiler or on top of a gas burner or on a grill until skins are blackened, put in heat safe bowl, cover w/ plastic. Let cool in the steam until cool enough to handle. Use a paper towel and your hands to remove the skins. Remove seeds and stems and chop in slices.

The onions, zucchini and mushroom I slice to about 1/2 inch long slabs and drizzle w/ EVOO and a pinch of salt and pepper, then grill on both sides until tender w/ nice char marks (I usually do this w/ a grill pan on the stove b/c laziness).

All the veggies go on a tray. I like to drizzle them with balsamic, salt, diced tomatoes, and sprinkle chopped basil and feta on top (or have those on the side and let the picky people top them as desired). These are good straight. They're great on wraps, sandwiches, in salads, you name it. And they keep very well.

Never before appreciated what a one trick pony I am with green veggies. lol. But considering I was raised w/ plain steamed (or frozen, or canned) w/ butter, this is sophisticated okay? lol

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Jewelry Tools I Want/Need/Have

Part of my Brain Dump on the Dream Office/Craft Room/Studio series (Main Post) is a running list of jewelry making tools and supplies I want/need/have:

If I have all I want/need it it gets a **, If I have some/part it gets *.

1. Bench Pin
2. Third Hand
3. Omni Visor*
4. Jewelry Saw (and extra blades)
5. Big Kick (plus dies)*
6. Alcohol Inks*
7. Vintaj Patinas
8. ICE resin**
9. Those super fine glitter powder/embossing powder things
10. UTEE/Melt art
11. Melt Pot for Melt Art
12. Matte Medium
13. Dapping Block
14. Hammers/Mallets: Texture, Riveting**, standard**, chasing**, rawhide**,
15. Vibratory Tumbler
16. Disc Cutter
17. Pasta Machine**
18. Clay Oven (optional)
19. Clay & Nonplastic storage*
20. Wire (copper, brass, sterling, argentium, gold filled, Silver filled (?))*
21. Sheet Metal (Copper*, brass, Sterling)
22. Dremel*
23. Mandrels (ring*, plus variety of straight sizes)
24. Now Thats a Jig
25. Bench Clamp
26. Drill press
27. Firing Blocks*
28. Firing Tripod**
29. Pickle Pot**
30. Enamel Torch*
31. Jewelry Torch
32. Files/Reamers*
33. Liver of Sulfur
34. Enameling Powders*/Sifters*/KlyrFire*
35. Pyrex Beakers
36. Beads & Storage*
37. Findings & Storage* (open/closed/locking jump rings, split rings, ear wires, head pins, lobster/toggle clasps, extender chains, chain, bead caps, metal beads, filigrees, blanks, snap sets,
39. Black Project Trays and storage*
40. Enamel Progress Trays
41. Clay Tools (Tissue blade, rollers, work surface, mandrels, baking racks, plexiglass square).
42. Faceted stones/Glass
43. Calipers
44. Letter stamp sets (probably ImpressArt brand)

My Dream Office/Craft Room/Studio

I have a fairly extensive (and growing) Pinterest board focused on ideas for my dream Office/Craft room/Studio. I'm realizing this space will take some serious planning so I wanted to a running brain dump I can update periodically as I plot so some day when I actually  get to make this space it will be very well thought out b/c the amount of function and flexibility I'm going to need is not to be understated. This is a stream of consciousness conversation for personal use and may not make sense to anybody else. I'm added some separate posts w itemized lists of what I want so I'm adding links to my List Headers.

1. Computer Space - I'm going to need room for my computer plus back up HD, plus printer & cutter and extra paper etc. W/ a dang good chair on wheels so I an roll it from station to station. Some work space next to it and probably storage for my binders and basic office supplies (probably close to my comfy chair b/c there will be lots of back and forth use btwn these two). This is going to be a nicer finished smooth surface b/c of the tech equipment. Over head shelves could hold the printer and cutter and binders etc?? Office supplies in drawers under? Big Idea/inspiration boards close by would be VERY helpful.

Stacked space right next to the computer b/c both the Cameo and the printer/scanner will need to hardline into the machine at times. Scanner will need lots of top access to to put things in and out, so Cameo on bottom and Cameo will need pull out space b/c I'm going to need back access to feed rolls in to it. Large smooth area for the cameo to pull out to. Slide back into bottom corner nook when not in use. Printer just above it. Easy access to hardline for scanner usage and top shelf allows easy scanner access. Going to want lots of paper storage near by also vinyl storage and maybe scrapbooking papers all in the same place. Maybe left side of L has computer, corner has printer/cameo and right side of L is open space for cameo to spread out/photography to happen/order packaging  and tons of storage above and below for all of the above and leads to comfy chair in corner.

I'm also running a business here out of this corner so a scale and shipping supplies and storage here for packing orders quickly. Keeping of receipts and any money boxes and the square or whatever check books etc is wise. Filing cabinet space would be great for papers. I'm going to need a command center for incoming/outgoing mail/bills/shipments so the paper doesn't eat me. Big visible marker board to do list for quicky priorities/notes?

2. Jewelry Space - Wire storage, bench pin, saw, tumbler, hammers, disc cutter, mandrels, jig, clamp, drill press (maybe garage thing), torch space, Third hand, bits and files, black project tray storage, enameling project storage, bead/component/clay storage, pasta machine/clay oven, big kick, finished jewelry display, magnification, lighting, chemicals like pickle pot and antiquings and finishes and pyrex for mixing/using them. Lots of work in progress tray storage. Needs to be a separate surface from my large worktable and my computer area b/c the vibrations and pounding would be bad for the computer and a lot of this is not moveable or not very so it needs a dedicated area. A raw wood work surface wouldn't be a bad idea. Something fairly easy to replace when I trash it b/c with the hammering and drilling etc, this surface WILL get dissed. Slots for bench pin. Needs to be heavy duty to handle the weight and pressure of the equipment. Some combination of pegboard and shelving would probably be wise over head.

Shelves for display pieces for storage of finished jewelry  - So its all out and beautiful for people/students to come see, I take it down and put in containers to pull out for shows/table displays/ I can easily grab and wear for sale/promotion. Busts and Frames and Easels and wracks etc. Some nicer enclosed glass front cases for sterling items/rings.

3. Crafting Storage - Yarn, crochet/knit tools, fine art supplies, vinyl, paint, sandpaper, paint brushes, sketch books, scrapbooking papers/cutters/scissors/supplies, cross stitch stuff, ribbon, washi tape, multimedia. I want this to be super easy to access and as visible as possible so I can see and easily access/remember what I have. But I'd prefer not to have to dust it constantly. ;)

4. Large Worktable Space - I can use this to teach classes. I can use this for big projects like quilts and fabric cutting and doing batches of board painting etc. I can sew on top of here if I have a place to store my machines separately when they are not in use. Tons of storage underneath it. I can make beads here. If my fire set up is moveable I can set it here when I need it. If I can make my photography stuff easy to move in and out I can set up photography here. Big space with awesome lighting day and night. I'm okay if the table gets paint all over it b/c thats what a work table is for. Need to make strategic knee room so legs don't hit the storage shelves under. Cut outs or over hang?? Hmmm??? Perhaps drop sides for space friendly flexibility?? Access all around? Or folds/rolls out from wall to center of room as needed?? Flips down from wall when needed??

5. Comfy Chair Corner (Chaise Lounge anyone??) I need a comfy place to sit and brain storm.

6. Sewing Space - sewing machine, serger, tools, fabric storage, pattern storage, cutting board/ruler, sewing basket

7. Place for another person to sit and visit (or desk chair that can roll around to all my spaces plus the comfy chair should cut it). Folding chairs for classes. Those store easy (elsewhere).

8. Kid corner. Little table and chair, maybe folding, maybe w/ the easel, so they can craft with Momma? A box or two of dedicated kid crafting supplies?

9. Photography space/storage - I need to be able to take pics of stuff quickly and easily in order to post them in online stores. If this doesn't store easily close to the computer would be smart b/c its all going to get edited and put online. Big roll of white paper for back drop. Flexible b/c I need to photograph larger things like signs, that aren't as demanding and tricky, down to shiny silver jewelry that is HIGHLY demanding and tricky. Storage for lights, easel, soft box for jewelry. Perhaps lights can do double duty for craft show tents???

10. General - Hard floors are smart. Tile or preferably laminate, nothing delicate. Maybe a small rug but probably not b/c I don't want anything to impair my wheelie chairs ability to roll around from station to station. I like white for the furniture/shelving with a color on the walls. I need something cheerful and inspiring. A beautiful, happy color with lots of accents. Neutral flooring. Tons and tons of lights from a million angles. I like options. Fan is good. I need to make sure I have enough space for not only everything I have, but everything I plan to have and lots of work in progress storage so its easy to clean and keep clean b/c I have a place for everything and everything can be in its place. I'm an ADHD multi crafter. I need to be able to jump from project to project easily. I need visible labels EVERYWHERE. Only way I'll survive.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Cancer Files

Stupid people make me blindingly angry. I realize this is fairly common. Why should I be any different than the rest of you?

But my Facebook news feed gives me daily exposure to a very specific kind of stupidity, one that seems to occur in otherwise highly intelligent individuals, and in an area I care very deeply and passionately about and it makes me a little bit crazy. And every so often it boils up and I have to rant about it for a while and all of my immediate circle are very tired of hearing me preach to the choir and thus its your turn blog friends.

I wanna talk about cancer. The Big C. Its everywhere. Everybody knows somebody who has had it, or they've had it themselves. Its ALL OVER the news. I swear theres a new headline every day. And believe me, I get it.

My parents, between the two of them, have had cancer FOUR times. No, to the best of our knowledge, they did not at any point grow up playing in toxic waste.

I need to shoot down, rant about, nitpick and otherwise ruminate on a couple of things I've seen online that just make mah eye start twitchin'.

1. "We spend all this money trying to cure cancer. Why haven't we found a cure already?"

Fine! Here's some more but I expect results by morning!

The profound ignorance of these individuals is revealed in the very nature of the question. The big problem and the reason why we haven't found "the cure to cancer" is because "Cancer" is not one disease. Its a whole category of illnesses, many of which have about as much in common with each other as the common cold does to the ebola virus (i.e. "barely harmful" to "kill you dead before we can even look at ya").

You're not fighting ONE disease. You're fighting THOUSANDS. And every one of them has a different cause, course, vulnerabilities and treatment plan. Sure there are similarities between many of them, mercifully, so we don't have to completely reinvent the wheel every time but sadly the differences are vast.

So yes we spend lots and lots and lots of money trying to "cure cancer". Because we aren't just trying to cure one thing, like polio. That was one illness with one specific cause and we dumped a bunch of money on it and we kicked that things tush! It was awesome. This is a couple thousand different polios. Its gonna take A LOT of money and resources and time. But these are lives we are talking about so its worth it.

2. "Fill in the blank causes cancer in white rats! BEWARE! NEVER EAT/DRINK/TOUCH THIS POISON AGAIN!!!"

Poor little sucker...

I hate fear mongering. I hate it with a passion. Don't go Chicken Little on me friends. If something causes cancer in white rats that is worth noting. However, its more than slightly terrifying the number of things that can cause cancer in white rats. So many, you'd lock yourself in a little bubble in a padded room if you tried to avoid them all and then you'd worry that the bubble was off gassing something and is the paint on the walls under the pads the right kind??!!

I jest but I do believe there has to be a balance. I cannot live my life in fear.

Understand that LOTS of things cause cancer in white rats, but for those in the research world, this is merely something of interest to be researched further because quite often they have to give those poor little white rats INSANE amounts of whatever it is to cause that cancer. They are exposing them at concentrations that considering our much larger size and exposure to a much wider range of factors, we would never in a million years come close to matching. Also keep in mind the VERY important point that people are not white rats and thus lots and lots of drugs die on the drawing board because they don't make the jump from helping white rats to helping actual humans and likewise many substances that give white rats cancer, humans laugh at.

 So when we find something else that causes cancer in white rats, the white coats all go, "Interesting, lets investigate further and see if there is really something here". Its the STARTING point for research, not the "OMG CALL OUT THE ARMY THE WORLD IS OVER" point.

That said, once we have accumulated a pile of evidence that supports that not only does X cause cancer in white rats, we also have good evidence that it causes cancer in people, by all means PLEASE avoid it. My Mom had skin cancer, I won't be caught dead tanning. I'm not about to start smoking either.

3. "Do/Don't eat/drink/smoke fill in the blank! It cures cancer/asthma/diabetes! Its the secret BigPharma doesn't want you to know!!"

Perfect! Now eat this 3 times a day, forever, and nothing else and you'll live to be a million!

This is the one I find most insulting. I'm insulted on behalf of my parents and all the other amazing employees of MD Anderson Cancer Center. I know there are many, many, many other cancer centers around the world. Amazing people, fighting the good fight. But MD Anderson is the one I am most intimately acquainted with so I'll use them as my example. I first walked its halls when I was 8. And my Mom had leukemia, one of the really nasty varieties that kills most adults right about the time you figure out whats wrong with them. And they saved her. Its been almost TWENTY FOUR YEARS since she should have had about six weeks. My Mom is a nurse now in the clinic where she was a patient all those years ago. Her doctor still works there. Thats how much he cares about ending cancer.

Do you know how hard it is to work in a cancer center? 40% of the people that walk through their doors will not be alive in 5 years. That is not because they are not extraordinary at what they do, its because they are the people that invent the protocols that the rest of the world uses. They're on the front lines, taking the worst cases. And it is HARD on their staff. Its a war where almost half their people die. And the turn over rates for the staff is HUGE, because it is brutal. They want to help so badly, but it takes a desperate toll on these people to try and fail to save people, day after day.

And you're going to tell me that those doctors and nurses are sitting on the magic bullet, the miracle cure, just because they want to help BigPharma make a buck. I want to spit in your face on their behalf.

Just to be clear - MD Anderson is part of the University of Texas system. Its a PUBLIC SCHOOL. This is a state institution. These people aren't in it for the money. If they wanted the money, they would work private sector. They have to have some of the best security in the world to keep the private sector from stealing their research and patenting it and charging millions for what they want to share with the world.

If you tell me theres a big conspiracy thats blocking the research I will tell you those doctors don't know the meaning of the word "No". If they think there is something there they will go after it. They even track all those "miracle cures" and watch for effects and interactions because they know their poor patients are gonna go home and try them because they're desperate and they want to hedge their bets, and the problem is some of those powerful natural medicines ARE POWERFUL and they do interact with the drugs the docs are giving them and sometimes those interactions can kill people. Sometimes its harmless and sometimes its beneficial. And if its beneficial you better believe they jump on that band wagon. They had my Mom taking probiotics 20 years before anybody else had ever heard about such a thing.

So if you really think that drinking wheat grass or not eating meat or turning around 3 times before I lay down is going to cure cancer or keep yourself from getting it, have fun trying. I understand cancer is scary and we all want to do something to keep the boogie man from getting us. But don't try to sell it to me. I'll just get angry. You want to sell me on something you'd better have a boat load of evidence and a far more compelling argument than "They say" and "Its natural". Its natural to sit naked in a tree and eat raw meat. Everything else is personal preference. Sell your voodoo to somebody else.

... And there my husband goes, simplifying my world. He reads over my comments and offers this wisdom: "Yeah. People are stupid. Thus endeth the lesson". LOL

I feel better now. Thanks for listening. So what arguments from otherwise intelligent people on Facebook make you twitch?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rachel's Birth Story

Well almost four weeks ago I gave birth to the most gorgeous little girl in the world and I really want to record her birth story before the sleep deprivation erases the details from my memory. lol

To really get the feel for the thing I need to do a quick refresher on Caleb's birth for comparison purposes because the single biggest thing I can't get over is how dramatically different it went and how much better I liked it this time around.

When I had Caleb I woke up at 5:45 am for yet another trip to the restroom, laid back down and had a contraction. But this time, for the first time ever, the contraction hurt. And I was like "Is that what I think it is??" So I grabbed my alarm clock and started timing things to see if I needed to wake people or not. I had 4 contractions and then my water broke! So we headed into the hospital and it was raining that morning so half the valley went into labor and it was CROWDED. So I was stuck in hell (also known as OB Triage) FOREVER.

It took them FOREVER to start my IV and by then I was in so much pain I couldn't hardly pay attention to whatever obnoxious thing they were doing to my arms, which was good since it took them FIVE tries (and one blown vein) to get the dang thing started. Then we had to wait for 2 bags of fluid before they would let me have my epidural. Then we had to wait longer b/c they wouldn't start my epidural until I was in the actual Labor and Delivery Suite b/c its hard to switch beds when you can't so much move your legs effectively.

So by the time I FINALLY got into the room and my epidural started I didn't know I could hurt that bad and not die/lose consciousness. No fun I tell you.

Hours of pain and I only went from 4 cm to 5 cm. But once I got that epidural (which is an invention straight from God in Heaven) and I totally relaxed I went from 5 cm to 10 cm in like an hour and a half!

Then the pushing started. And went on FOREVER. Which was okay initially b/c hell once I had that epidural I can do that shiz all week. But the problem was that Caleb had a 14.5 inch head (95th percentile) PLUS he apparently had his little fist in front of his face. So I had to get a couple shots of pitocin to make me contract harder and pushed for a solid hour to FINALLY get that kid out.

Then the problem was that my body was so exhausted from all that pushing that it didn't want to contract again to deliver the placenta and then contract the final time and stay contracted so I don't bleed to death. So I bled. A lot. It was bad. Not quite blood transfusion required bad, but close. I didn't appreciate just how much I bled until this time when I didn't hardly bleed at all and then I'm like "Oh now I know why they were freaking out last time".

So compare that drama of pain and agony and bleeding followed by MONTHS of God awful exhaustion (that at the time I thought was just normal "I just had a baby" tiredness) to this time around.

This time around I'd been having contractions pretty much non stop for the last 2 months. They weren't productive but they were obnoxious (about a 4-6 on the pain scale usually).

So the hospital finally calls me in for my induction around 4:30 pm (after waiting anxiously alllllll night and day for them to call). And we get there and I walked myself in (no wheel chair required) and we did paper work and a copay and were shown directly into the Labor and Delivery suite. Totally by passed L&D Triage, which is awesome b/c the beds in there are NOT comfy, there's no windows and those rooms are TINY.

I got set up with my IV, which they started ON THE FIRST TRY! Which is nothing short of AWESOME b/c we had repeats of the "get stabbed 3-5 times and they blow at least one vein" experience during my multiple hospital visits for preterm labor so I was very scared. So they get my IV on the first try and b/c I was group B strep positive this time they started me on IV antibiotics. They make you get two doses 4 hours apart before they'll start the pit drip. So the first part was very boring. Just sitting there watching my IV drip.

I will say those antibiotics BURN like fire. Like I called the nurse in a hurry b/c I was like "Is this supposed to hurt or is something horribly wrong??" She turned it down so it was uncomfortable but not omg painful.

So after staring at the IV dripping for hours and having a shift change, my new nurse asked my opinion on the epidural - did I want one and when. My response was "I want it as soon as you can give it to me. I've been in pain for months now and anything you do will only increase that so I'm ready to be out of pain". She looked at me, blinked and went "No problem!" and 20 mins later I was getting my epidural!

I was definitely more aware of the epidural this time. Last time I was in so much agony I didn't so much notice what was going on behind me except he was pushing on my back and that was kinda annoying but otherwise who cares? This time I definitely felt everything but other than the first stick (to numb me) it didn't hurt at all. Was just ... odd. Went in fast and easy so that was nice.

I initially was not a fan of my anesthesiologist. He came in right as I was sitting up and getting into position for the epi, during which my blood pressure cuff got twisted on my arm and then immediately started to inflate and then b/c it was twisted it did that thing where it blows up great big, starts to deflate, gets an error, blows back up, starts to deflate, error and then blows up again. By the 3rd time with it twisted and cutting into my arm I was like screaming in pain and ripped the damn thing off b/c the nurse wasn't fast enough hitting the abort button.

Well the doc walks in right as I rip the cuff off and starts lecturing me on how I have to leave the damn thing on and if I don't leave it on I don't get my epidural. I was less than pleased to be lectured like a small child. I tried to explain but he just kept chiding me and I'm like "I will happily keep the damn thing on for the whole time, I just need it straightened out so its not cutting into my arm!!" He calmed down after a bit and we got along by the time he was finished. Actually kinda liked the guy once he stopped lecturing me.

I got a really HUGE bruise from that damn cuff. Like 3 inches wide by 7 inches long on the back side of my arm. I should have taken a picture. It was epic. Every nurse who saw it over the next couple days when they would check my vitals freaked out over it.

But that was pretty much the extent of my trauma this time around, so really I can't complain too much.

So once we got the epi in place, they started the pitocin and they came in and broke my water and stuck a intrauterine contraction monitor in there - not the kind that sticks to the baby's head, but something that looked like a long plastic zip tie strip b/c they were having a hard time getting my contractions on the monitor with the belly band. I didn't feel a dang thing so I was cool with it. They also stuck this big rubber peanut ball between my knees to keep my legs apart to help the baby descend which was new for me this time around. It worked, for the record.

An hour later the nurse came in to up my pit again and I asked if she was going to check me (I was at 4 cm when it started) and she said no b/c my contractions weren't that impressive on the monitor yet. But she said to call if I felt a bunch of pressure or anything. So about 10 mins later I was feeling LOTS of pressure so I called the nurse and she came into check me. And this time instead of being 4 cm and -2 station, I was at 9 cm and 0 station! The nurse was like "You weren't kidding when you said you go fast!!"

So they called the doc and let things keep cooking in the mean time. I started to have some discomfort, like period level crampiness in the midsection at one point so they pushed the button to give me a bonus shot on the epi. Worked great.

It was an interesting experience to have labor but no pain this time. B/c while I was finally pain free for the first time in months, which was absolutely lovely, I could tell I was still in labor b/c man did I get TIRED and rather shaky. I'm like "I might not feel it but my body is definitely still working b/c something is wearing me out".

They started doing all the final count down preparations and kept a very nervous eye on my south end b/c apparently they could all see her head crowning but they weren't quite ready yet (it was midnight almost and they had to wake my poor doc up). Once everything was in place and I got the go ahead I pushed one time and she all but fell out! I only needed one stitch this time "for cosmetic purposes"!

Compared to pushing for a solid hour and ripping to kingdom come and getting a million stitches, that was AWESOME to push ONCE and tah dah!

Rachel did have the cord around her neck twice but the doc got it off super quick and she cried right away, nice and loud, which is always a welcome relief in a delivery room. She looked great but was a little blue initially but she pinked right up and had 8/9 apgars which was way better than Caleb's inital scores so that was another relief.

My biggest problem was that I was shaking uncontrollably after I had her. I was fine, I just couldn't stop shaking. Side effect of the meds plus the trauma of delivery. No biggie.

So having gone into labor naturally one time, and having an induction the second time, I have to say I am 100% in favor of my induction. I LOVED skipping the pain entirely and this delivery went SO much better. I do think it helped that her head was 2 inches smaller and she was a whole pound lighter than her brother, plus it was my second kid.

The most amazing thing to me tho in all of this was how much better I felt (and continue to feel) after having her. For starters all of my horrible pregnancy symptoms (the heart palpitations and nausea) are GONE and I actually have a surprising amount of energy. In talking with other women who hemorrhaged (or people who had friends who hemorrhaged) - I think it was actually the almost bleeding to death thing the first time around that made me a zombie for months after I had Caleb b/c I feel shockingly good this time around and I'm just plain grateful!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Online Privacy

So I've recently been made aware of individuals who criticize the extent to which I share information on my blogs and Facebook accounts. Apparently the main objection is oversharing in a public forum b/c its "online and everybody can see it".

And so I have had Online Privacy on my brain and in a lot of ways, I do think "Online Privacy" is an oxymoron. I live in a house. I use banks and ATM cards. I've owned credit cards in the past. I use utilities, cell phones and the internet in a post-9/11 America. Thanks to the Patriot Act I have no delusions that ANYTHING I do is actually, really truly private.

If I was REALLY worried about privacy I think I would have to live in a wooden shack I made myself with materials I smuggled to an undisclosed location that I definitely do not own in the middle of no where and rely strictly on cash and avoid any and all technology or paperwork. Then you MIGHT be able to keep Big Brother from tracking you. Maybe. Odds are you'd probably just get put on a watch list.

No, I don't think I need to go don a tinfoil hat or anything but I think anybody who lives in a house and uses credit cards and phone lines or the internet is deluding themselves if they think they have any REAL control over who reads their stuff.

I fully expect everything I post online is probably getting routed through some server somewhere where an algorithm reviews its content to check for something that could be threatening to the public safety and if flagged then probably gets reviewed by some poor analyst some where who attempts to determine if the threat is legit. Maybe I could be over stating the power of Big Brother, but I think I'd rather assume that he's watching and be wrong that assume he's not watching and be wrong again.

My father taught me when I was a kid to make absolutely sure I never put anything in writing I wouldn't want posted in the village square. And by and large I have taken that advice to heart. So as much as I do overshare with the world (I fully admit I am a blunt person prone to sharing more than some of my more conservative friends and family), believe it or not there is A LOT that I think and feel that doesn't get posted in a public forum.

Why? Most often its because it could be hurtful to certain individuals should they come across the post. And believe it or not I try very hard not to stomp on other peoples feelings. I don't always succeed but I do apologize when its made known to me that I screwed up.

Occasionally it has more to do with the opinion not being very PC and while I will take some liberties with political correctness, I do respect the internets ability to keep anything alive forever somewhere and I'd like to not completely toast my chances at landing a job should I need to go hunting for one in the future.

However, I would also like to point out that as much as I think its a joke to think that Big Brother is not watching, I do take advantage of Facebook's Privacy filter. B/c while Big Brother might be watching, I definitely don't want to make it easy for Joe Blow to stalk me online. In that way I do think its possible to have some small measure of "Online Privacy", if only from my fellow netizens.

I am very familiar with FB's privacy settings and have carefully reviewed all of them and use most of them. Probably 95% of what I post on FB is Friends Only. And while I've got a big friends list, only about 9 of those people I have not actually met in real life. I know some people "friend farm" and will friend anybody, but almost everybody I'm friends with on FB are people I know from high school, college, my mission or places I've lived.

So keep in mind, that while you might think I'm oversharing in my FB status updates - not just anybody can see it. In fact some of my status updates I limit to a much smaller list of close friends and family. I am aware that anybody could surf to my blog and see it and therefore try to be a bit more judicious in my posting of close personal information. I also don't post when I'm out of town online until I get back as an added security measure (unless of course Adam is still at home b/c then someone is still in my house so whats the diff?).

I don't allow FB access to my GPS on my phone. I don't check in at places 99% of the time b/c I don't want to paint a target that says "Hi I'm not at home right now, please go rob me".

So I'm more private than you might be aware, but if I share more than you are comfortable with I will state the following:

I'm a stay at home Mom. My poor husband is one of the only outlets to my ranting and I do in fact talk his ear off but its still not always enough to help me feel better. So FB is how I connect with my friends (quite a few of them are fellow stay at home Mom's) and we lend each other a sympathetic ear. It helps. A lot.

Also, as I stated when I first started this blog, I'm not blogging for fame or fortune, I am blogging as a therapeutic outlet, so this thing is going to read a lot like a journal.

Why don't I just buy a journal? B/c for some reason sending my thoughts out into the great cosmos of the internet is somehow infinitely more cathartic than putting it on paper and locking it away on a shelf somewhere. I don't know why, I just know that it is. And I do check my stats so I have no delusions that anybody is really reading this blog. I occasionally get a little spike on a post that I cross post to FB and then my stats go right back to dead. And I'm okay with that.

I just know if I write it down in a journal, A. I can't write fast enough, handwriting is annoying and SLOW to me. I've tried typing things up instead and while that helps the speed I'm still left with problem B: After I'm done, I don't feel 100% better. I still feel like I need to talk to somebody and process more. I have no idea why posting to a blog is so cathartic to me but it is.

So its oversharing on the internet or emotional constipation and emotional constipation breeds all sorts of problems for me and I refuse to do it any longer (I used to have SERIOUS problems in that area). So long story short, if you don't like it suck it up. If I hurt your feelings please tell me and we'll talk about it. If you think I'm jeopardizing my safety or the safety of my family, please talk to me b/c I'd like to understand and discuss your rationale.