Saturday, April 5, 2014

Waiting to pop!

Our spring is unfolding here, with an increase in beautiful weather alternated with frustratingly chilly days. The big events of the months have been birthdays, Dave's and Julia's. We've also had quite the stream of house guests coming and going which has kept me busy. The garden is slowly springing to life and the chickens are maintaining happily in their new semi covered enclosure in the garden. I'm simmering away in the last days of my pregnancy, desperately eager to not be pregnant anymore and occasionally mindful that this is as much peace and quiet that I'll get for some time. 
Julia and I made cork boats by hot-gluing corks together and sticking on paper sails with toothpicks. 
She floated them quite successfully down the stream that runs through our yard but since, the water level has dropped by half and we understand that it dries completely over the summer. This saddens me as some wild ducks have taken up residence and I'd love to see them stay!
Julia's had lots of playdates with her little buddies, and I've gotten to know their moms a lot more over the past months, making us both happier here than in the first months.  
Julia's becoming a chicken whisperer, feeding them from her hands. We are down to 18 or 19 after the hawks devastated things for a weekend while we were away, but this number seems to be maintaining now that the more open sections of the pen are covered, giving the hawks nowhere to land.  
Julia continues to love dinosaurs and all thing princessy. a good balance. 
She had a ballet recital, performing a bear dance and here she's playing with her fellow dancers during the dress rehersal. During the actual performance, she tripped over another dancer and hit the stage hard and cried pretty hard over it for a bit. It didn't dampen her enthusiasm for class though!

Julia turned 4 and we had a party! we invited about 5 little girls from her preschool and grandma Gini came and we had a lovely morning of dinosaur fairy princess tea party time. I served coffee and tea sandwiches, ham and cheese and pb and j, veggies, fruit, cheeses, crackers and artichoke dip, pink punch and cake and cupcakes decorated with pink and white frosting, sparkles and dinosaurs. the kids played for hours and the adults hung out and snacked and talked. my pictures are none too good as I was rather too busy to take more! It was a wonderful party, and Julia was very happy. 

new birthday dress!
my gift for Julia was a fountain to put by her fairy garden  
We had some lovely beach time
as we were joined by friends Susan and Jacob from our past life in Oregon. Julia was thrilled to have a "big brother" to play with her and before Jacob could leave, Olaf and my Dad arrived for a quick visit too! I didn't manage any pictures of them either!

Here's a last days of pregnancy selfie for those of you who love that sort of thing! 
and here's my no-budget nursery! I did end up spending $40 on plywood for the long shelf top but other than that, it's all gifted or found or upcycled!
this is space that's actually our bedroom, which has a rather wide hall leading out with just enough space for a changing area, two dressers and some open shelves for clothes storage. 
and for a crib, a pack n play will serve us fine, as I imagine that the baby will sleep with me most of the time. You can't see it but our friends who have a farm gave us an incredible sheepskin that is lining the crib, so if the baby naps there it will be plenty warm from above and below, despite our cold bedroom. I've had lots of questions about the logistics of birth here, so a quick summary of THE PLAN: Our goal is to give birth with our midwife's assistance (who lives on a neighboring island) at the Anacortes hospital, since there's no options for anyone to assist with a planned homebirth on Lopez. if it's daytime, there's 7 ferry options from 630 am to 830 pm. After that, our best option for getting off island is a local pilot who will fly us over to Anacortes where we'll call a taxi to get to the hospital. Either way, we'll take Julia and arrange to have her met by whichever friend-or-relation is available to meet us. Or we have many offers of people who will keep her here for us if necessary. There's also a list of people who could manage a delivery here if it came to that, including the emts and the nurse practitioner at the clinic, not to mention the moms of many who have invited me to call them as I see fit. So that's the best we can do for a plan, as every aspect is pretty contingent on what time of day or night things happen. We are planning on spending the week of the 14th off island hanging around Mt Vernon, so that could simplify travel a bit as long as I feel relaxed enough to go into labor! My due dates are the 13th or 18th, depending on if you believe my last period or the ultrasound measurements. The full moon is the 15th, so that's got my bet. Julia was on time, as were all my siblings and I so I'll be a bit surprised (but happy) if it's earlier and I'll be quite disgruntled if the baby wants to hang out in my belly and grow for an extra two weeks. Either way, my next post will probably be about birth!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

4 weeks to go..

An update has been a long time coming, mostly because my computer got slower and slower and finally Dave sent it in to get repaired. A faulty logic board fix later (whatever that is) and I'm back in business! Lots of photos to post, so here we go!

at the ballet with Grandma Gini and Auntie Caroline. We saw an abbreviated version of Sleeping Beauty specially designed for young children. It was beautiful and good, but I needed the interpretations as much as Julia did. Who knew that at the end of sleeping beauty, the owl and the pussy cat do a dance as does little red riding hood and the wolf. and some couple dressed in blue. still not sure who they were!
an over exposed shot of us, but check out that belly!
meanwhile our chicks graduated to the garage from the house. It was time! things were getting mighty smelly and the chicks could almost escape their box. They took to garage life like champs, exploring the straw and extra room to run around. 
one day i managed to convince Julia to put on overalls and join me in the garden. seeing her in pants hasn't happened in so long it warrented a picture. a little modern american gothic. 
we spent some sunny days hanging out at the beach. it's still mostly deserted these days, but soon i'm told that will change. 
Julia loved going out with me to feed the chicks in the morning and evening. I could only catch them when they had fresh food to distract them, but in this picture, Julia's holding a little yellow one. 
Julia got dino fabric in the mail from Carol Witte! She wanted a dinosaur dress. I took a deep breath and got to work.  
our new and bigger chicken coop arrived and took some impressive action to unload and place. Thankfully dave's brother John and girlfriend Leslie and my sister Grace were all visiting, so with skids and logs and pushing and mud up to noses and some cursing the coop got moved to the back of the garden. I got relegated to taking video and pictures as everyone gets worked up when the pregnant woman so much as picks up a cinder block. 
After the coop excitement, Grace and I made soap! my first batch but not hers, so she walked me through using the lye. We added orange oil and calendula petals from my garden last summer, and the base of the soap was olive oil, coconut oil and shortening. It takes a good month to dry and cure, so I haven't gotten to test it out yet. 
beyond the raised beds, Dave went crazy over break and dug up and enormous circle garden. it doubled the amount of workable garden space we have. He's vague about what he intends to plant, so we'll see! I've planted kale seedlings, lettuce, broccoli and strawberry roots. I just started a flat of flower seeds. It will be interesting to see what else happens after this here baby arrives!
a lovely day on the trampoline.  
and a dinosaur dress! it actually turned out pretty good! I'm very impressed with myself, and Julia is in love with it, which is super gratifying. 
The chickies started charging and dive bombing each other which I learned is a normal working out of the social order, but I thought a distraction was due. I pushed the coop out of the garage and jerry rigged a temporary fence around it to give them a first taste of the great outdoors. I also cut them off from the heat lamp! They loved the grass and quickly caught on to the deliciousness of worms. 
Julia and I both have been spending lots more time out in the yard, now that we've been getting more sun and less rain. The  little creek through our yard is flowing north (!?) at a good rate and she's been "fishing" in it. 
here we are back at the beach watching the sun set and she's built herself an airplane out of driftwood. 
We got started on her birthday project which is a fairy garden! I got an old drawer and we filled it with dirt. We added a stepping stone she had made a few weeks ago and planted violets and pansies. I've slowly been bringing out little things for her to add and she seems quite taken with it. 
she loves hugging the baby and is surprisingly gentle about not crashing into my belly. She's got it in her mind that the baby will come right after her birthday, which is next week. 
The chickies soon decimated the grass in their tiny enclosure, so I got excited and moved the coop to the garden! the big coop still needs some finish work, so for now the a frame coop is doing a fine job of holding them. I set up a fence across the back 4th of the garden and that gives them a good large area to dig and explore. They love it, but unfortunately the hawks loved them. five fatalities occurred before I could get bird netting set up across the top to sufficiently protect them. All three of the little silkies are gone as well as two of the bigger ones. It was heartbreaking, especially to loose the silkies but I am thankful that I planned on losing a few chickens when I ordered so many. Now it's been several days without any casualties so I think we'll do ok. Once the trees leaf out they will have excellent cover so I'm looking forward to that. 

We have had lots of baby shower action! I don't have any photos of it, but the women from our church gave us a baby shower, then we went to Gini's for another one and then the moms from my lady group on the island gave me one too. It's been lovely to feel so loved from so many people! (and it's not over yet, as the women at the school are planning a shower as well!!!) My photos are limited to Gini's, which featured relatives and sisters and chosen family. 
Julia was thrilled by aunties and cake pops and lots of presents for her too!
games, food, conversation... 
and a mountain of presents to open!
but soon we were waiting for the ferry again. back on island, I am counting down. 4 more weeks till due date! I'm feeling huge and awkward and often sore and tired, interspersed with manic ideas of cleaning projects and desires for more dressers to organize things. I'm getting occasional braxton hicks contractions, that remind me of the near future and fuel more manic ideas. clean the coop, finish the other coop, clean the fridge, organize the sewing room more, finish the warp for the loom, weave more baskets, get a dresser for the baby stuff, get the car seat out here from dave's dad's house, clean the car seat, clean the car so there's room for the car seat. clean and wash laundry and cook like normal. plant flowers so the deck looks pretty for Julia's birthday party. organize the storage shed. clean the oven. write more thank you cards. ect. ect. ect. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Julia's passion for dinosaurs continues. I sewed her a dino tail and added dino spikes to a sweatshirt for her. 
and she begged to take home this t-rex she found at a bookstore. 
I started to build a chicken coop to tide us over until the big coop is ready. except for some 2x2s, it's all made from scrap wood found around the property. 
and good thing it's almost done because 24 little chicks are peeping away in their box in the entry. they've doubled in size in a week and will soon be ready for coop life. 
the same day we got the chicks, Julia got sick with a combo chest cold and ear infection. She was out for a full week with a pretty high fever and racking cough, but now is back up to snuff. I have the chest cough now, but no fever, thank goodness.
In my week of captivity caring for Julia I puttered on lots of little projects. This drying rack from ikea got hung by the fire and I'm very pleased with it. It collapses down when not needed.  
Julia's dinosaur collection got a new home thanks to some simple shelves from scrap wood and wide ribbons tacked to the wall. 
I finished my first knitting project for this baby, little pants. Perhaps there will be a sweater too, but the baby might arrive first and then it will never get done!
I cut down a too big hat to fit for summer gardening. Cut off the top, slice up the back, overlap ends, punch holes and tie with ribbon. pretty easy. 
I worked more on getting my desk set up and the sewing/crafty stuff arranged. Julia discovered the joy of cutting things with scissors, so now i have to be really careful about what I leave out. 
a little project: a wet bag made from waterproof fabric with a zipper on top. not very well made, but functional! 
Also, my first attempt at sewing diapers. the liner is a old bamboo sheet and flannel is the absorbent material inside a waterproof cover. 
the dino hoodie.
I started to set up my no-budget nursery in a corner of my room and Julia saw. She started to cry and I learned that she wanted some of the baby things to be in her room. So she picked out a toy, slippers and a duck sleeper to go on the shelf by her bed to wait for baby. pretty sweet!
little booties I made. 
and another pair. I made about 10 pairs for Julia and only one pair fit her very well, but they were the best! I'm hoping these will work out.
here's the start of the no budget nursery corner. found wood shelves to hold clothes, a twig holding some lantern style christmas lights, some art on the walls, and soon a crib to function more as a changing area than an actual crib as it's a drop side which are all banned these days. I'm still searching for a dresser, but if I can't find one, i'll make more shelving for storage. 
Julia's baby doll modeling the new diaper!

here's something i'm excited about. last summer I grew and dried calendula, a flower known for healing properties. I made a balm to attempt to heal Julia's persistent rear rash by soaking 1/2 cup flowers in 1/2 cup of olive oil on the back of the fireplace for 2 day. then i strained the flowers and discarded them, and added one oz of beeswax to the oil. I let that sit on the stove another day until it was all melted and let it cool. she's been getting it rubbed on morning and night and the rash has healed, but returns again a day later. so we're still working on it but regardless, this is a lovely balm.
Well it's been a long January. Sickness hit us hard, and we are still working on getting our health back. On top of that, I've been feeling somewhat apprehensive about the upcoming birth, because Julia's labor was so eventful and rather traumatic. I've been thinking a lot about it again, and while many factors were beyond my control, I can't help but anticipate the same trouble with travel while in labor. (Recall, with Julia we had an hour's drive to the birth center in hard labor, we hit a deer on the way, and then we had a late stage transfer to the hospital to finish. Here there's a fair amount of hoop jumping required to leave the island. The ferrys have to be not broken, it has to be day time, and we simply have to be lucky to have one leaving soon to when we'll need it. Otherwise we'll get a pilot lined up which is much faster, but involves flying while in labor which isn't going to take me to a happy mental state. We'll have to get a taxi to meet us and have to figure out later how to get our car or get back without one. My other option is to hang out in Anacortes waiting for labor to start, but Dave has to work and Julia needs care. I'd rather wait at home and travel with Dave while in labor than risk having him miss it. I have been working on writing a birth plan and that has been helping me to think of this birth as separate from what happened the first time around.
Another thing I've been thinking a lot about is that this is the first anniversary of my surgery that diagnosed my ovarian cancer. There's plenty to be joyful and thankful about, and in general I am aware of how lucky I was, but there's also lots to be disgruntled about and getting cancer at 29 is pretty disgrunteling. I have a lot of unanswered questions and concerns regarding my followup care plan. Moving so much has disrupted any continuity of care I've had with a primary health provider and my follow up plan is plenty ambiguous itself. We are assuming the cancer is gone, based on the lack of evidence to the contrary and that leaves me with the symptoms of ovarian cancer as watch points. that sucks because the symptoms are vague at best. I'm to follow pregnancy (or ies) with a complete hysterectomy to negate the possibility of it coming back in my remaining ovary which demands acknowledging that it could come back which also sucks. I recently talked to a friend on the phone about it, and ended up crying at several points which tells me that I've compartmentilized my emotions about it. That's fine for day to day living, but I don't really have any way to know if I could be more healthy about addressing it or if i'm doing fine. And paying on the medical bills really really sucks.
But some things are going fine this month. I've been invited to a ladies group, which is really good for my social needs. The chicks are growing and I'm anticipating this summer's garden. I even started a tray of seedlings: cabbage, lettuce, kale and spinach. Julia's been invited on some playdates and has had a few friends over which has helped us to feel more involved in the community. Dave's job continues to be mostly drama-free. I've been asked to be a deacon for our church, which means sort of coordinating for the pastor who has to travel among 3 islands. We called a new pastor, Beth Purdum who seems lovely. I'm looking forward to getting to know her more. So thank goodness that January is over and we are one month closer to spring!