Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Russian Roulette

There is some uncertainty surrounding the creation of this game of chance. Those of us who are parents know better! Though it had humble beginnings, which did not originally include a revolver, the identifying characteristics of the legendary game were present, I am convinced, as soon as the first toddler was able to reach both stick/toy/critter and mama's or daddy's shoe.

It is terribly obvious that this is the way the game began. How else could a single cultural penchant for risk-taking pass from generation to generation vibrant and intact? Because hardwired into every 13 month old is the secret passion of hiding their most prized possession in their parent's unsuspecting shoe. And so thousands of years later we still play Russian Roulette, often times unwittingly.

Case in point:
I am running out the door to make a dash for SaveMart before dinner demands I mix chalk with water to simulate milk. I grab my Uggs, silently blessing the invention of sheepskin boots for their comfort and convenience in inclement weather, when suddenly my toe strikes either gold or Josiah's Little People figurine. Since my boot is not the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas I am fairly certain I am not seconds away from independent wealth. No, after my heartbeat returns to normal I pull out "Sarah Lynn" who did not, of her own plastic volition, crawl into my boot and tuck herself into the very toe of my shoe. I have played Russian Roulette, and lost. Perhaps next time I will win. Then again...

Tuesday's Tip

Organize your kitchen with thought for where you use certain tools or ingredients, and not necessarily grouping like items together. For instance, if you bake frequently create a prep area with flours, dry goods, spices, and sugars along with measuring utensils stored together at this place. Sometimes this means even purchasing a second set of measuring cups or spoons, but the pay-off in easily reaching all necessary items for a quick batch of cookies will be a certain reward. Other examples are: combining a few coffee mugs, bean grinder, filter stash, and coffee/tea in one location immediately above your coffee maker for a faster cup of brew; housing most-used mixing bowls outside of their nested stack for quicker access during dinner prep; placing dishes where children who are helping with chores can reach them easily for setting the table, or unloading a dishwasher.

Think outside the box with your space, and you may find that it multiplies!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I just wanted to drop a quick note to those of you who comment on my blog (and for those of you who don't - feel guilty).

Thanks so much for letting me know what you think about my meanderings. It is great fun to read what you share. My purpose in starting the blog was to give myself a place to scribble about my life. The fact that so many of you are actually interested in reading my scribbles is really amazing! Thanks for making me feel... read. *grin*

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

I learned this one from my mom. 

Stash at least a five dollar bill into your car/backpack/wallet that you don't touch unless it is an emergency. If you can afford a twenty all the better. The point here is to make sure that you have some cash on you at all times. Don't make it a denomination that is going to tempt you if you happen into Saks when all their leather purses are 50% off - making that 500 dollar bill the exact change necessary for the purchase *wink*. On the other hand, managing to stow away one George Washington is going to get you all the way to nowhere if you need cab fare in the middle of the night. Lastly, really don't touch it unless it is an emergency. In other words, getting a hankering for chocolate ice cream when you are not conveniently located next to an ATM machine is NOT an emergency, no matter what you try to tell yourself as a rationalization.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

And Now... A Word From Our Sponsor

I am incredibly blessed to have a pretty strong constitution. And with a few exceptions I suffer from little. However, when I am pregnant I do tend to deal with heartburn (show scene of me, belly bulging, making a sour face to indicate the obvious reflux going on in my esophagus). Yuck! The first couple of kids I had saw me trying to gag down Tums, (picture me, hair frizzed out with my bathroom counter a complete mess of bottles, opening up and spilling out literally 10 Tums into my open hand) and then wait for them to work. Then I was told about a wonder-working miracle pill (insert theme music, and show montage of me playing with my children, happily cooking dinner, and lying down for sleep with a smile on my lips).


Unlike other over-the-counter medications it works two ways: first by creating a barrier which protects your esophageal opening from contact with stomach acids; and second by neutralizing your stomach acid to lower the pH (I am now standing in my clean bathroom, immaculately clad in a darling maternity outfit, easily taking just 2 Gaviscon from the bottle). So the next time you experience the occasional discomfort of heartburn associated with pregnancy, or that extra spicy tamale reach for Gaviscon, and get instant relief!

The views expressed in this blog are not affiliated with any endorsement program or monetary compensation contract. Should anyone reading this wish to thank the author for saving their life she accepts all denominations, and currencies of gifts. However, firstborns will be returned in the same manner received. Some offers and extensions may apply. Void where prohibited.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cesarean Soapbox

I find myself taking on the mantle of cesarean awareness advocate. I didn't do this intentionally, and I must say not even willingly. But God's plans are not our own, and here I am, facing another cesarean with the realization that change must come.

I continually marvel at the incredible inroads made in natural birth. The advocacy of mother/baby health, as well as dignity, has etched permanent changes onto the face of birth. This is fabulous, and I am excited to see the options for women opening up more, and more. However, that same advocacy has not quite reached cesarean. I find this ironic since optional cesarean, and repeat cesarean is on the rise; and of course my own personal experience of five, soon to be six cesareans fuels my passion for more proactive policies based on mother/baby bonding, emotional support, and physical tenderness. Just because I walk into the hospital on the planned date, in no immediate pain, and all necessary preparations ready does not mean that my births are any less monumental. Yet, for reasons that obviously escape me, staff, doctors, and hospitals in general tend to treat cesarean births on par with hemorrhoid removal - necessary but nothing to be proud of.

I can say this with a modicum of authority, since I have delivered naturally with my first, and labored to complete with my second before beginning the cesarean journey on which I now find myself. Things like husband participation, mother/baby separation, and priority of nursing which are all seen as non-negotiables within natural delivery are a far cry from standard inclusion for cesarean. It was only my last delivery that I finally successfully argued my case for Christopher to be present during the administration of my spinal (the nearly identical procedure used for women in labor to receive an epidural). Up until that point I was walked alone into a sterilized OR room, made to face a complete stranger already garbed from head to toe in a medical gown and mask, and told to hold still while a needle roughly the size of Connecticut was inserted multiple times into the small of my back trying to find the magic spot for the anesthesia. In fact, Christopher nearly missed the birth of his first son because the nurse responsible for calling him in once the procedure was underway simply failed.

My other bone of contention is the automatic separation of mother and baby at delivery. Rather than keeping baby with Mama and Daddy during mother's repair hospitals will often whisk the newborn to the nursery, forcing Dad to make an on-the-spot decision of staying with his wife during the final stages of a rather major operation, or going with his tiny infant to participate in those first irreplaceable moments of life. No easy decision for any man! This is made all the more difficult by the realization, often coming after the decision, that once you leave the sterile OR you are not allowed to return. I have spent hours alone during the immediate post-partum rush of emotions lying on my back completely isolated from everyone. To call this depressing would be an understatement. The irritant is that it is not necessary! Hospitals do not need to remove the baby to the nursery during mother's repair. They don't do it during a natural delivery. Mother shouldn't be left alone, without husband or baby, when no medical complication requires it. The bottom line to many of these policies is staff convenience, hospital savings, and conveyor-belt like medical care. Unacceptable.

Also up for mention is the management of pain during the hours and days following the surgery. There is technology available for accurate, site based analgesics which can combine the long-lasting comfort of pain management with the freedom from systemic medications often causing drowsiness, and poor mental acuity. Of the half a dozen hospitals in the area around my home only one doctor at one hospital uses this technology. Why? Why are more hospitals not availing themselves of new advances designed to lessen patient recovery time, increase mother's comfort, and support mother/baby bonding because of the increase in alertness? Because change requires expense. It requires trial, error, and the willingness to learn something new. In other words it slows down the cash-machine of surgical birth, and places responsibility on health care professionals to do more than show up at the appointed time. I do not say this flippantly, shaking my fist to a "down with all western medicine" rally cry. I truly appreciate our country's work in the advances of medical science. I value doctors, nurses, and the many other professionals required to make even the simplest procedure possible. And I don't believe at the heart of these many people they consciously realize the ways they have divorced the humanity from the humans they care for. However, the unfortunate reality is that divorce is precisely what has happened.

So, where do we go from here? For me, I continue to work tirelessly to compassionately, but consistently explain to all parties involved what these policies mean to me, personally. Sharing the human experience opens the eyes of those worn hard by thousands of women turned faceless by sheer volume. My anesthesiologist for Josiah noted to my obstetrician that he appreciated the emotional support given to me by my husband's presence during the administration of my spinal. He pointedly observed that I seemed much more relaxed than many other mothers he worked with, and recognized that it correlated to the unique presence of Christopher. After years of professional experience it took one woman asking, "why?" to help him open his eyes to a reality not difficult to understand. It is with that encouragement that I continue to ask the same question to others.

Finally, the education and personal responsibility of other mothers, like myself, faced with cesarean delivery and unwilling to simply accept the standardized norm for the past 50 years is necessary for a real change. Health care systems can only be given half of the blame for our current climate. The truth is that if women stopped allowing others to make decisions for them, without reading, understanding, and weighing their options hospitals, doctors, nurses and staff would not be allowed to get away with the dehumanizing decisions that remove the dignity from patients in all walks of life.

But this is just my soapbox.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

I am not naturally gifted with home meal planning. And I don't just LOVE to cook. Put these two things together, with several mouths that are dependent upon me, and it makes for a rather humorous recipe. My answer? Tuesdays' Tip.

How to freeze portions into useable dinner batches, with a faster thaw time for those of us not gifted with tomorrow night's menu already planned. I am only going to address chicken, and hamburger in this post since our family's budget does not allow us to utilize many other cuts of meat on a regular enough basis for me to include. In other words, when steak is for sale, we eat it fresh! 

Chicken: I was amazed at the price difference between whole chickens, and boneless skinless chicken breast. But how do you really utilize a whole chicken in a practical manner? If you poach your chicken, and then shred the meat, you can freeze the already cooked meat into portions useable in your recipes. The shredded meat is incredibly moist, easily used in all your casserole/ rice/ fajita recipes, and costs soooo much less then breasts. Here's how you do it:
-wash your chicken in cool water, and discard any giblets included
-place breast side down in a large (4qt or bigger) stock pot
-fill pot with enough cold water to come half-way up chicken (cold water is better)
-cover, turn on high heat to bring to a boil
-turn down heat, and simmer for an hour+ (depending on size of your chicken)
-turn off heat, let sit for another hour with lid ajar
-dump entire pot into a large strainer (this allows water to drain, and you don't loose any chicken bits - if you are really savvy you can save this water for the beginnings of homemade chicken broth)
-put on a pair of disposable gloves (this part gets messy, and using disposable gloves make clean-up much easier! Plus, you can whisk them off if a child needs you in a hurry.)
-pull chicken meat off of bone, discarding skin, or undesirable pieces
-separate shredded chicken into two piles
-place each pile into a freezer ziplock bag in a single flat layer, and freeze flat for faster defrost/ thaw time

Hamburger: Whether you buy your hamburger in bulk, or in the smaller 1 pound packages, transferring your meat to freezer ziplock bags (I used a food-saver for years, and unless you are storing meat for over a month it doesn't make a noticeable difference) helps in a couple key areas! Once you have transferred your meat squish it into a flat sheet, taking up the entire square of baggie. Freezing your meat this way does two things: economizes the room in your freezer (they stack very easily both horizontally, or standing up vertically); and cuts down significantly on you defrost/ thaw time. It also seems to lessen the formation of icicles on the meat.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Girl Play Boy Play

Girl Play
Scene 1: interior day; box of plastic animals or dolls in miniature scale; two girls sitting across from one another cross-legged in smart outfits - no stains.

Girl 1 (in British accent) - Oh dear, Brianna! I must get my hair done today or it will never do for the ball. Could you please take care of this mess?

Girl 2 (also in British accent) - Of course. Here, you sit right down and let me take care of everything.

Girl 1 - Can my pony come as well? She needs a set and curl.

Girl 2 - Oh, I would love to have her. She can come into the special part of my salon made for ponies. I just had it put in yesterday.

Girl 1 - She can be a little shy. I will call her.

Girl 2 - I have a pony too. Maybe they can be friends.

Boy Play
Scene 1: outdoor day; one of each strewn on grass: skateboard, bike, scooter, helmet, large stick, wooden rifle; two boys in holey jeans and grass-stained shirts are standing close to one another; one of them is bleeding.

Boy 1 (guttural) - Hiya!

Boy 2 (also guttural) - Umph!

Boy 1 - ARRGGH!

Boy 2 - Pshew! Pshew!

Boy 1 - Oooo!

Boy 2 - Yeeeeeaaaaaa!!

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Leah has never before eaten dinner. At least that is how it may appear to outside observers of my daughter's favorite eating routine. Leah prefers to eat her meals spread out - over, say, 4 days. During days one through three she subsists on a small bowl of oatmeal, two pieces of homemade bread, and perhaps some carrots for a days worth of nutrition. She never complains of being hungry; and will eagerly look forward to whatever meal I made only to eat the approximate serving size of an underdeveloped turtle. It's not very impressive. But then, lo and behold, day four arrives and she grows a second stomach to accommodate the extra food ingested for the occasion. Tonight's meal: Fish and Rice

3 battered and fried filets
2 cups of rice
1 cup sliced carrots
3 thick slices of homemade bread (I should note that this bread is made from fresh milled wheat, and one slice is roughly equivalent to an entire loaf of store-bought bread)
12 ounces of milk

When she finally completed her marathon event we asked her if she was full.

Hmmmm... maybe.

She had eaten more than anyone else at the table - save her father. It was his fourth day, too.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

I have been challenged to find something even a college girl could put to use. I am prepared with this Tuesday's Tip.

Keep a small "essentials" bag with you at all times. Here's what you need:
-See-through plastic make-up bag (mine is pink *grin*). Using the see-through version makes finding items a snap. 
-baby finger nail clippers (they work just as well for hang nails, and on the go needs but are smaller)
-a couple of band-aids (if you can't raid your kids' first aid drawer go all out and splurge on Care Bear, or Lightening MacQueen)
-small pill bottle with 2 doses of all pertinent over-the-counter meds you might take such as tylenol, advil, sinus and allergy, antacid, and dramamine
-chap stick
-eye drops
-floss (think bigger than oral hygiene... need to tie a mattress on top of your car, and in a rush?)

Of course there are other things that may apply to you personally, but try and keep it small. The idea is not to pack an overnight bag, but to genuinely limit yourself to items that are necessary in a pinch. Think MacGyver.